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12 Nov 20. US Space Force awards third contract for anti-jamming SATCOM prototypes. The U.S. Space Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to build a new anti-jamming communications satellite prototype, bringing the number of companies working on that program to three.
Under the contracts, each company will develop a prototype payload for the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications program. ESS is intended to be the successor to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency constellation, which provides secure, survivable SATCOM for strategic communications.
“We understand the mission and the threat, and we’re committed to providing the Space Force and our war fighters with the best protected communications solutions for the Evolved Strategic SATCOM program that will help us stay ahead of the growing threat,” a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said in a statement.
Lockheed is the third company to be selected for the prototyping effort, having been awarded $258m on Nov. 9. This follows a $298m award to Northrop Grumman in September and a $298m contract to Boeing in October. The prototypes are due to be completed in five years in the order in which they were awarded, with Northrop Grumman and Boeing given a May 2025 deadline and Lockheed given a June 2025 deadline.
Lockheed’s contract is expected to be the final ESS prototyping award, as Space Force 2021 budget documents noted that the service planned to issue three contracts at most.
“This approach will award up to three contracts in FY 2020 to focus on reducing space segment risks with the objective of maximizing ESS demonstrated capability for the payload and other key technologies,” the budget proposal read.
All three prototyping contractors will be brought through follow-on source selection until the follow-on contract is ultimately awarded.
ESS satellites are expected to work with and eventually replace the Advanced Extremely High Frequency, or AEHF, satellites, the sixth and final of which was launched into orbit in March. However, ESS will differ from its predecessor in a few key ways. First, the new satellites will have enhanced resilience and cybersecurity capabilities, according to the Space Force. (Source: Defense News)
12 Nov 20. Boeing partners with Clearbox Systems for SATCOM program. Sydney-based technology firm Clearbox is set to support Boeing’s development of the ADF’s next-generation SATCOM system as part of JP 9102.
Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) and Clearbox Systems have signed a collaboration agreement for the development of a solution for the Australian Defence Force’s next-generation satellite communication (SATCOM) system, known as JP 9102.
The JP 9102 program aims to deliver a resilient and responsive communications system that extends the range and capacity of the network for joint command and control of deployed joint task forces.
Boeing is expected to combine its global satellite communications skills and local development capabilities with Clearbox’s SATCOM software development and integration capabilities.
“Clearbox is renowned for its ability to integrate system software into a common and intuitive user interface, which makes it easier for systems operators,” JP 9102 capture team lead Michael Konig said.
“It is this ability to stitch together different software in a way that makes it seamless for the user that aligns with Boeing’s proven approach on the complex development programs such as the Currawong Battlespace Communications System and Defence High Frequency Communications System.
“The two businesses will collaborate to design a strong solution for JP 9102 that provides a low risk, sovereign solution to the ADF’s needs for a flexible, resilient and agile SATCOM system.”
Clearbox Systems executive director Jeremy Hallett said the firm’s technology can help Defence better operate and manage satellite communications networks.
“We already provide our solutions to Defence to allow them to operate their current military and commercial SATCOM systems,” Hallett said.
“It makes sense for us to work with a company such as Boeing to develop a solution for Defence’s next-generation SATCOM system delivered under JP 9102.”
The JP 9102 tender is expected to be released in the first half of 2021. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Nov 20. Elbit Systems Launches E-LynX-Sat – a Portable Tactical SATCOM System. Elbit Systems has launched E-LynX-Sat, a compact satellite communications (SATCOM) add-on system. The new system utilizes a lightweight less than 1 Kg terminal that interfaces with Elbit Systems’ E-LynXTM Software Defined Radio (SDR) solution. E-LynX-Sat enables Infantry and maneuvering forces to maintain robust and secured, on-the-walk and on-the-move, voice and data communication services, over ranges of hundreds of kilometers. The operational benefits of the newly launched E-LynX-Sat system were successfully demonstrated during the British Army’s recent Warfighting Experiment 2020.
“The access to robust long-range voice and data communications is a critical operational capability for Infantry and maneuvering forces. Until now this capability required the use of costly and heavy SATCOM equipment that did not interface smoothly with their tactical radio or command and control systems, limiting their adoption and effectiveness”, commented Oren Sabag, a Senior Vice President at Elbit Systems C4I & Cyber Division.
E-LynX-Sat integrates miniature phased-array antennas, unique satellite communication modem, beam steering and error correction software as well as data compression protocols. Using standard Ka and Ku-band Geostationary satellites, it features automatic electronic satellite tracking and direct sequence spread spectrum, enabling continuous over the horizon operations on-the-walk and on-the-move. E-LynX-Sat comprises of compact portable terminals and a Hub base station that is installed in satellite ground stations.
“Overcoming major challenges in military networking, including size and weight reduction as well as automatic tracking, this SATCOM add-on solution offers a significant improvement of the operational effectiveness to the growing customer base of the E-LynX SDR solution”, added Mr. Sabag.
11 Nov 20. New digital twin technologies from Bloc Digital to reduce time and cost of satellite development lifecycle. Will collaborate with University of Leicester on major space application project, funded by SPRINT programme. Derby-based Bloc Digital has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme for a major project that will develop digital twinning technology for space applications. Digital twinning is a virtual model of a process, product or service and this SPRINT funding will enable Bloc Digital to collaborate with the University of Leicester on the project that will apply digital twins to reduce the time and cost of the satellite development lifecycle.
The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8m SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme. It brings together academic research and the business community, combining unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities with industry and market leading innovation to support the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.
Bloc Digital will create a virtual environment including the Compact Air Quality Spectrometer (CompAQS) imaging spectrometer, a cutting-edge instrument developed by the University of Leicester and partners, as a demonstrator at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre. This virtual environment will enable the company to develop and visualise physical, stress and thermal models of the instrument that can be integrated to create a near real-time digital twin.
The results of the SPRINT project will support Bloc Digital’s development of the Virtual Lab Builder solution that will reduce the time and cost required to create digital twins. It will open the technology to a much wider audience in the space industry and academia, and thus allowing widespread collaboration in the development of space-based applications.
Frank McQuade, Director of Capability at Bloc Digital said: “SPRINT will enable us to significantly enhance our digital twin technology. By integrating this into the Virtual Lab Builder solution, we can support rapid development of digital twinning across the space community, allowing researchers and engineers to get data at their fingertips and make better choices in building satellites.
“SPRINT gives us the ability to combine Bloc Digital’s expertise in digital twins with next generation resources, solutions and insights that can be provided by the University team. This will bring significant benefit not only to our business, but also to the wider space and research sector as we’re already estimating that this project will enable us to reduce the creation of digital twins from months to less than a week.”
Ashiq Anjum, Professor of Distributed Systems at University of Leicester added: “By pushing large sums of data through high performance computers and applying the latest Artificial Intelligence and machine learning techniques, we can significantly reduce the time taken to create a digital twin and eventually, complete it in near real-time.
“We see the SPRINT project as a two-way collaboration with Bloc Digital and will be learning in return. As well as helping us to set up leading centre of excellence in digital twins, the company experts will be guest lecturing for our students, demonstrating how to solve real-world problems in the field of space engineering.”
10 Nov 20. Horizon Technologies Ships Their First AMBER™ Payload to AAC Clyde Space in Preparation for First AMBER™ Launch in 2021. Horizon Technologies announced today they have shipped the first AMBER™ CubeSat payload to AAC Clyde Space in Glasgow, Scotland. Once the first payload arrives in Scotland, it will undergo testing, and then be integrated into our AAC Clyde Space bus in preparation for launch.
Horizon Technologies CEO, John Beckner, stated that “Horizon Technologies is not only on track to launch the first AMBER™ Maritime Intelligence CubeSat into orbit in mid-2021, but will be launching additional AMBER™
CubeSats next year.” Beckner noted, “We are thrilled with the continued support we are receiving from AAC Clyde Space and the success of our partnership with them. Due to Covid-related delays affecting our launch
windows, we have had time to implement major improvements in the expanded dataset we will be providing to our customers, and are very excited in being able to provide solutions to customers’ Maritime Domain
Awareness (MDA) challenges.” AMBER™ is a public/private partnership with the UK Government, and Beckner again expressed his thanks to the UK Government for its tremendous support over the past year.
Horizon Technologies uses innovative and proprietary technologies to collect and geolocate RF signals from Earth without the need of self-reporting technologies such as AIS (Automatic Identification System) in detecting and monitoring vessels and without the use of “clusters” of satellites. AMBER™ uses single CubeSats rather than “clusters”. This results in lower total system costs, and these savings are passed on to Horizon
Technologies’ customers. In addition to geolocation, the AMBER™ constellation will provide a very detailed and advanced (demodulated) data set on the signals which are collected. Our worldwide customers (many of them current users of our FlyingFish™ airborne SIGINT system) want far more than just geolocations for RF emitters. Customers want actionable intelligence data on targets of interest in addition to geolocation. For many maritime targets of interest, it is important to meet customer requirements for detailed, granular data such
as extracted GPS locations, specific radar ID data, L-Band metadata/content, etc. from emitters. AMBER™ provides this.
Despite Covid, Horizon Technologies is finishing up its most successful year ever. FlyingFish™ sales and customers are at an all-time high. Next year, thanks to the outstanding dedication of the whole Horizon
Technologies development team, and our partnersAMBER™ will be in orbit and providing critical MDA data to our commercial and government customers.
09 Nov 20. Gotta go fast: How America’s Space Development Agency is shaking up acquisitions. In March 2019, the Pentagon established a new organization to buy space systems: The Space Development Agency. But this led to some confusion.
After all, the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center already bought the bulk of the military’s satellites and space systems, and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office acted as a supplement to drive faster programs.
The imminent establishment of the U.S. Space Force brought further questions: Why set up a new space acquisitions organization when the military was on the verge of reorganizing its main space acquisitions service? Some suggested that the nascent agency wouldn’t survive the year.
Over the intervening 18 months, the Space Development Agency, or SDA, has embarked on a whirlwind tour to not only explain what it’s building, but how it offers something different than legacy organizations.
To the first point: SDA was set up to build the National Defense Space Architecture, a new proliferated constellation primarily in low Earth orbit that will be made up of hundreds of satellites. That’s a radical departure from traditional military space. To date, the biggest military constellation in operation is GPS, with about 30 satellites ― give or take a satellite or two ― on orbit at any one time. With the new architecture, SDA wants to put into orbit about 1,000 satellites by 2026.
“It’s got this novel approach compared to, you know, kind of the legacy approach. They’ve got these very unique core values. So they do things quickly. They’re a very lean organization. They move out fast. They’re responsive to the needs of the war fighter,” said Mark Lewis, the Pentagon’s acting deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.
Over the last 18 months, the agency has designed the National Defense Space Architecture, or NDSA; issued its first request for proposals; and awarded its first contracts. Here’s what onlookers have seen in how the agency works differently:
Gotta go fast
The area where SDA has most distinguished itself is speed, according to some observers.
“A lot of the reason the SDA was stood up is that there is a general recognition that the speed of the threat is increasing tremendously,” said Eric Brown, director of mission strategy for military space at Lockheed Martin, one of the companies providing satellites for the NDSA. “Everyone is acknowledging that in order to stay ahead and maintain our high ground from a space superiority standpoint, we’re going to have to operate at a different speed.”
At an industry day in summer 2019, SDA Director Derek Tournear laid out the agency’s plan. In 2022, just three years after SDA was established, it would launch its first satellites ― a little more than 20. Most military constellations consist of less than a dozen satellites, and it can take five to 10 years from conception until the first satellite arrives at the launch pad.
SDA’s plans didn’t stop there. The agency planned to launch increasingly large numbers of satellites into orbit in two-year tranches, culminating in a constellation of about 1,000 satellites in 2026. With this spiral development approach, the agency is looking to put mature technology on orbit now, and then provide upgraded capabilities as more tranches go online.
In other words: In less time than it traditionally took the Air Force to design and launch one satellite, SDA wanted to launch 1,000.
In the resulting 18 months, the agency has set a goal of launching its first satellites two years from now.
“I certainly have to applaud SDA. In every case over the past year and a half, when they have set a date they have met that date,” Brown said. “They really kept to a very tight schedule, which is certainly impressive, especially for an agency that’s only just standing up.”
SDA issued its first request for proposals on May 1, seeking 20 satellites for its transport layer. Later that month, it issued another solicitation for eight wide-field-of-view satellites for its missile-tracking layer.
“They’ve done things that we’ve never seen before,” said Bill Gattle, the chief executive of L3Harris Technologies’ space systems business. “They were able to release a request for proposal very quickly, and it was actually a pretty good request for proposal.”
Gattle said SDA was unusually clear in laying out what it wanted and that the agency had one priority: speed. SDA wanted vendors who could stick to their aggressive schedule and deliver satellites in two years’ time.
“They only gave industry 30 days to respond (for each request for proposal),” Gattle said. “That is unprecedented speed ― we normally get 45, 60 days.”
Moreover, while it typically takes months to get feedback from the customer, SDA responded within three weeks, offered the proposers notes, and required updated submissions back within two weeks, recalled Gattle. “And then they awarded about two to three weeks later. That compressed timeline was stunning.”
In August, the agency awarded Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems $188m and $94m respectively to each build 10 of those satellites. In October, the agency announced two more contracts: SpaceX and L3Harris would receive $149m and $193m respectively to each build four wide-field-of-view satellites for the NDSA’s missile-tracking layer. Neither York Space Systems nor SpaceX responded to requests from C4ISRNET to discuss the contracts.
“It demonstrates SDA [is] doing what it was created to do, which is to quickly obligate funds, move really quickly and execute toward the mission,” Lewis said, referring to the contracts.
“It shows one of the values of SDA as kind of an independent organization in delivering this tranche 0,” he added. “It’s not clear that a larger, more bureaucratic organization culture could have moved as quickly as SDA did.”
Bringing in the new kids
Program officials sometimes talk a big game about bringing in nontraditional vendors, yet end up awarding to the same small group of contractor giants over and over again. But with its first batch of four contracts, the agency has already brought in some surprising names.
York Space Systems, which will be building 10 transport layer satellites, has never built a major satellite for the Air Force or Space Force. The small satellite manufacturer has done some experimental work with the military, but this seems to be the company’s first major contract win with the Pentagon.
SpaceX may be the most recognized company in the world when it comes to space, but to date the firm’s efforts have been limited to launch services and satellite-enabled commercial broadband. SpaceX has scrappily fought over the last decade to win more national security launches, and earlier this year it was named one of two companies providing heavy launches for the Space Force over a five-year period. Additionally, the company’s Starlink constellation has helped popularize the proliferated constellation concept on which SDA is built, and the services have begun experimenting with Starlink to enable beyond-line-of-sight communications.
Still, this will be the first time SpaceX has built a satellite for the military.
Neither York Space Systems nor SpaceX responded to requests for comment.
L3Harris Technologies may not be a newcomer when it comes to supplying technology to the military, but many were likely surprised to see the company selected to build the missile-tracking satellites that will be key to the Pentagon’s efforts to defeat hypersonic weapons. L3Harris has not built a missile warning satellite for the U.S. military before; its forays into infrared sensors was limited to weather satellites until now.
“We were known pretty much as a weather company in this area, infrared,” Gattle admitted. “This is the culmination for us of a pretty big pivot in our company.”
A couple of years ago, L3Harris decided to apply its weather-sensing infrared technology to missile tracking, with a focus on the types of satellites the military was signaling it wanted: affordable and quick to produce. In October, that bet seems to have initially paid off with SDA.
“The industry people, including us, are all repositioning our companies to address basically the message that space has to be a war-fighting domain, space has to be more affordable, space has to have easier access, where you can get there faster,” Gattle said. “I think for a lot of us in the industry, we view this as probably the biggest transformation we’ve seen since the Apollo days.”
Of course, Lockheed Martin stands out in the group as a defense giant — one of the companies that’s always in the discussion when selecting a military satellite manufacturer — and naysayers may point to the firm’s inclusion as proof that SDA isn’t reinventing the wheel. The company itself is quick to acknowledge its role in the status quo, but Brown credited the contract win to Lockheed’s ability to be disruptive and quickly refocus its energy.
“We’ve demonstrated — and have been told from SDA — we’ve demonstrated that we’ve built upon Lockheed Martin’s history of being disruptive,” Brown said. “We’ve had some success in the past and people have stopped associating us in some way with disruption, but this was a place where we really wanted to demonstrate something very differently from what you would see in some of our existing programs of record.”
A key example of the company’s pivot from exquisite space systems to proliferated constellations is Pony Express, Lockheed’s experimental on-orbit mesh network. Developed in nine months, Pony Express was privately funded by the company to test new space-based computing capabilities that could enable on-orbit artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud networking and advanced satellite communications. In other words, it was testing some of the very capabilities with which SDA wants to enable its own on-orbit mesh network.
“We saw the requirements coming for transport layer — frankly, it’s the capability that the U.S. government has needed for some time,” Brown said. “Pony Express really marked a little bit of a graduation, being able to show the community and show the world the kind of capabilities that Lockheed Martin had been investing in and developing for some time.”
Lockheed brought forward some of the technologies developed for Pony Express to the transport layer. In addition, Brown claimed, the company’s proposal included plans for a diversity of subcontracts in building its satellites, helping to expand the industrial base for SDA’s future tranches, which will include a massive increase in the sheer number of satellites purchased.
“We made a conscious choice not to take a heavily vertical approach because we don’t think that that sort of vertical play that you might see from some other companies would have really benefited the SDA,” Brown said.
Learning from industry
Tournear has his own example of how his agency is unique, and it showcases how SDA wants to act like a commercial entity. Just as the agency awarded the two contracts for its first tracking layer satellites, it also canceled a contract for an experiment meant to reduce risk on those satellites.
“We canceled that experiment because what we do at SDA is we continually look at measuring the return on investment to get the best capability for the taxpayer dollar, and we view that as the investment going forward,” Tournear said.
“The tracking phenomenology experiment was started before tranche 0, with the idea that it would do two things. One, it would burn down risk for tranche 0 WFoV [wide field of view],” he added. “And number two, it would give us OPIR [overhead persistent infrared] bands that were multiple bands.”
As the agency began receiving proposals, it became clear that some of the proposers were already including multiple bands on their OPIR solutions. In other words, SDA didn’t need to develop its own solution for that capability — instead, industry could provide it.
Still, the experiment would offer valuable risk reduction, giving the tracking layer a greater chance of succeeding. SDA decided to calculate whether it was worth continuing the experiment.
“We had to look at the cost going forward to carry the tracking phenomenology experiment, subtract from that the risk leans that it would burn down in the WFoV experiment, and calculate, in essence, our net present value going forward,” Tournear explained. “So in that respect, canceling that program saved us a total net present value of $20m.”
One contributing factor was the knowledge that the experiment was only going to deliver data nine months prior to the satellites being delivered. That was not a lot of time to factor lessons learned into the final product.
Additionally, the agency didn’t have enough money allotted to buy all eight missile-tracking satellites. But by canceling the contract, SDA could apply the $20m to buying more of them.
“In order to ensure we get the best capability to the war fighter, the return is higher to invest that money toward getting more of the WFoV sensors up on tranche 0,” Tournear said. “That is a calculus that you don’t often hear being made by the government on these programs. But it does show that we are trying to respond in a rapid manner to get these capabilities fielded as quickly as possible, and we’re going to do trades to make sure that we push forward with getting those capabilities fielded.”
Tournear declined to say how many satellites the $20m from the experiment bought, only noting that it enabled the agency to get the eight total satellites it wanted for tranche 0.
“They’re making good decisions. The ability to stop things that aren’t working — I think that’s really important. The ability to start things quickly — that’s also really important,” said Lewis. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
10 Nov 20. COVID-19 puts the brakes on Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap (SDW). At the SMI Global MilSatcom conference on Tuesday, Barry Austin of the UK MoD, said that due to COVIVID-19 meeting restrictions, the UK MoD had put in place an allowance with Airbus to extend the current Skynet 5 contract for another year to September 2022. This will not be a PFI extension but a new contract with Airbus. He said that given that the SkyNet 6 and BVLOS programmes require capability to 2050 and beyond, the MoD has to get it right and he asked for patience from the various bidders. Four bids for the Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) have been received from Airbus; Boeing; Serco, Lockheed Martin, SGI and Inmarsat; BT with Viasat and Babcock. With regard to the Skynet 6a satellite, a PDR had been achieved in October 2020 with launch expected in 2025 with acceptance in 2026. The UK has now built the National Satellite Test Facility at Harwell, Oxfordshire, where the testing will take place. Barry Austin said that the MoD’s role will be to control the Skynet 6 Programme as Skynet 5 will come back to the MoD within the Skynet 6 Programme. Submissions for the SDW are expected in early December 2020 with an extension expected as stated above beyond September 2021.
A number of RFIs have been received for Narrownband and Satellite Bus technology including STT&C
To enable the success of Skynet 6 and BVLOS the Mod needs to be in a position to understand and develop various processes and technologies so the MoD has asked for forbearance and patience from the bidders to achieve:
- Understanding multi-domain integration.
- Developing the integrated Operating Concept.
- Use of non-military satellites for welfare and Netflix use.
- Assessing the growth of demand usage.
- Exploiting new capabilities from the SDW.
- Managing uncertainty in future demand and capability
The creation of the UK’s Strategic Space Command had also caused delays due to the development of the new Command and its duties and capabilities.
10 Nov 20. HMAS Parramatta to depart Sydney following SATCOM upgrade. The ship is preparing to depart NSW’s Garden island after BAE Systems Australia fitted it with an upgraded maritime satellite system.
HMAS Parramatta is set to become the first of 14 Royal Australian Navy ships to put to sea with updated maritime satellite communications (SATCOM) terminals installed, marking a critical project milestone.
BAE Systems’ advanced terminal infrastructure, Maritime Communications Element (MASTIS), is expected to provide a major enhancement to the RAN system operations.
Specifically, the upgraded terminals are designed to provide increased bandwidth, greater efficiency of Defence satellite capacity, and enhanced network interoperability between ships, aircraft and land-based platforms.
“The sailing of the first ships to receive their MASTIS upgrade is a really important milestone in this program and demonstrates our commitment to collaborating with the Commonwealth to bring timely capability to the end users,” BAE Systems Australia defence delivery director Andrew Gresham said.
“BAE Systems Australia’s commitment to the sustainment of our Navy fleet goes beyond the vessels themselves.”
The upgraded capability is being installed on the RAN’s landing helicopter dock ships, the Anzac fleet, the guided missile destroyers, and amphibious support ship HMAS Choules.
HMAS Choules is expected to become the second ship to be upgraded, departing Garden Island shortly after Parramatta, with the remaining 12 ships to be upgraded during their planned maintenance cycles over the next 12-18 months.
As part of the program, the land based MASTIS training facility will also be upgraded at North Ryde for RAN training. (Source: Defense One)
10 Nov 20. Rocket Lab to attempt first stage recovery on next launch mission. Rocket Lab has revealed that it will attempt to recover the first stage of its Electron rocket during its next launch mission, the ‘Return to Sender’ launch, scheduled for lift-off in mid-November.
The test will see Rocket Lab attempt to bring Electron’s first stage back to Earth under a parachute system for a controlled water landing before collection by a recovery vessel. The mission will be the first time Rocket Lab has attempted to recover a stage after launch and is a major milestone in Rocket Lab’s pursuit to make Electron a reusable rocket to support an increased launch cadence for small satellite missions.
The ‘Return to Sender’ mission, which will be Rocket Lab’s 16th Electron launch, will lift-off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula, the launch mission will see Electron deploy 30 payloads for a range of small satellite customers to a 500-kilometre sun-synchronous orbit, with the recovery attempt a secondary objective of the launch.
Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO, explained, “Recovering the first stage of a small launch vehicle is uncharted territory. What we’re trying to achieve with Electron is an incredibly difficult and complex challenge, but one we’re willing to pursue to further boost launch cadence and deliver even more frequent launch opportunities to small satellite operators.”
Electron’s first stage will undertake the following complex maneuvers on its journey back to Earth:
- Approximately two-and-a-half minutes after lift-off, at an altitude of around 80 kilometres, Electron’s first and second stages will separate per standard mission procedure. Electron’s second stage will continue into orbit, where the Kick Stage will separate and deploy the satellites;
- With the engines now shut down on Electron’s first stage, a reaction control system will re-orient the stage 180-degrees to place it on an ideal angle for re-entry, designed to enable it to survive the incredible heat and pressure known as “the wall” during its descent back to Earth;
- After decelerating to less than Mach 2, a drogue parachute will be deployed to increase drag and to stabilise the first stage as it descends;
- In the final kilometres of descent, a large main parachute will be deployed to further slow the stage and enable a controlled splashdown; and
- A Rocket Lab vessel will rendezvous with the stage after splashdown and retrieve it for transport back to Rocket Lab’s Production Complex for inspection.
“Bringing a whole first stage back intact is the ultimate goal, but success for this mission is really about gaining more data, particularly on the drogue and parachute deployment system. Regardless of the condition the stage comes back in, we’ll learn a great deal from this test and use it to iterate forward for the next attempt,” Beck added.
Electron’s first stage is equipped with guidance and navigation hardware, a reaction control system, S-band telemetry, and onboard flight computer systems to support recovery. These standalone systems are dedicated exclusively to recovery and are entirely removed from the systems that carry out the primary mission functions of launch and payload deployment.
Work on Rocket Lab’s recovery program began in early 2019 and the ‘Return to Sender’ recovery attempt follows a series of successful tests of recovery and hardware systems over the past 18 months. These include a successful mid-air recovery capture of a test rocket stage by a helicopter; successful drogue and main parachute deployment tests in subsequent mock stage exercises dropped at altitude; and successfully guided re-entries of the Electron’s first stage across two real missions in December 2019 and January 2020, respectively.
Following the outcome of this attempt, the final phase of Rocket Lab’s recovery program will be to capture Electron’s first stage mid-air by helicopter before the stage is returned to Rocket Lab production complexes for refurbishment and relaunch. If Rocket Lab’s recovery program is successful, Electron would become the first and only reusable orbital-class small launch system in operation. (Source: Space Connect)
09 Nov 20. Kleos Space fully funded to Progress Next Two Satellite Clusters.
- Successful maiden launch supports $19m Placement
- Proceeds to deliver a further two satellite clusters
- Strong institutional and sophisticated investor support
- Scouting Mission Satellites Launch and Early Orbit phase (LEOP) on track
- Contact made with all four satellites
- Existing customers eager to receive the Kleos Data
- Over 100 worldwide customers in current pipeline
- Second cluster of satellites (KSF1) scheduled to be launched mid 2021
- Third Cluster targeted for launch end of 2021
Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data provider, is pleased to advise that it has received commitments to raise $19m via a placement of approximately 26,388,889 new ordinary fully paid CDIs.
Andrew Bowyer, Kleos CEO, said: “We welcome and are delighted to be supported by both existing and new high-quality institutional investors who have recognised the Kleos vision and potential. Strong participation and demand are a clear endorsement of that opportunity Following the successful launch of the Kleos Scouting Mission satellites (KSM1) on 7 November, we are now well financed to execute the launch of the second cluster of satellites; Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1) in mid 2021, and to develop our third cluster of satellites (KSF2) targeted to be in orbit before the end of 2021.”
The in-orbit commissioning phase now commences to prepare the satellites to collect data over crucial areas of interest such as Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, East/West Africa, Southern Sea of Japan, northern Australian coast e.g. the Timor Sea. After the deployment, the commissioning phase has commenced. The operations team have successfully made contact with all four Satellites. It has been confirmed that they have detumbled, battery status is as expected and onboard watchdogs are operational.
Kleos has engaged over 100 worldwide active B2G and B2B opportunities across its pipeline in international jurisdictions including USA, UK, Latin America, Middle East, South Pacific and Australia, representing significant annual revenue following launch and commissioning.
This Second mission will be named Polar Vigilance Mission and is a cluster of four satellites, launching into a Sun Synchronous Orbit. The Polar Vigilance Mission will enhance the company’s RF geolocation data delivered by the Kleos Scouting Mission by covering areas North and South of the Scouting Mission 37-degree inclined orbit in addition to increasing overall coverage time in the equatorial region and increasing revenues.
09 Nov 20. AFRL Ponders Solar Power Beaming For Lunar Patrol Sat. Satellites and facilities in cislunar space could very well become the first customers of beamed power as it gradually comes on line, an Aerospace study finds.
Air Force Research Laboratory plans to solicit industry ideas for its ground-breaking lunar patrol satellite concept by the end of the year, says AFRL program manager Capt. David Buehler.
“We are in the process of writing a Request for Information, that we hope to have published by the end of 2020,” he told me in an email.
The novel satellite, called Cislunar Highway Patrol Satellite (CHPS), would be the first space domain awareness (SDA) bird to focus on cislunar space, the vast region between the Earth’s outer orbit and the Moon’s. It could also be the US military’s first attempt to operate a satellite in the special orbital domains near celestial bodies known as Lagrange Points, where a spacecraft can, in essence, ‘hover’ in a relatively fixed spot.
While AFRL has released few details about the concept up to now, including the budget, one of the areas where the program will need to push the technology envelope is in propulsion. For satellites to operate for long periods of time in lunar orbit, they will need large amounts of power and carrying vast amounts of rocket fuel is simply not feasible.
So, this is an area where another AFRL experiment, the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstration and Research (SSPIDR) project, may come into play.
“It’s too early in the program to make decisions one way or the other, but in general AFRL is always seeking ways to make our investments interactive with each other. If it pushes the boundaries of science and technology, we will be thinking about how it might work. We will certainly have these discussions with our SSPIDR program colleagues, as they advance their solar power beaming experiments,” Buehler said.
AFRIL’s primary interest is in space-based solar power — also known as solar power satellites (SPS) — which provides energy for far-flung air bases on the ground.
“Ensuring that a forward operating base receives power is one of the most dangerous parts of a ground operation. Convoys and supply lines, which are major targets for adversaries, are the usual methods to supply power. To utilize the solar power beaming system, a service member would simply set up a rectenna to gain access to power, eliminating costly and dangerous convoys,” AFRL’s fact sheet on the SSPIDR program explains.
But the ability to collect solar energy in space, convert it to microwaves (or lasers) and beam it to collectors (batteries) for consumption also could prove critical to powering up satellites that have to travel the vast distances of cislunar space.
“Satellites and facilities in cislunar space may be the first customers of beamed power as it becomes available,” finds an Oct. 6 paper by James Vedda and Karen Jones of Aerospace Corp’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy. The paper is one of Aerospace’s ongoing Space Agenda series looking at the future of space.
“On-board solar arrays have powered spacecraft ranging in size from a couple of kilograms to the approximately 400,000-kilogram International Space Station, which produces over 100 kilowatts of power. The cost of that power is high, and the systems to produce it are a substantial portion of the mass of the spacecraft,” the paper, called “Space-Based Solar Power: A Near-Term Investment Decision,” elaborates. “Projections for the growth of cislunar activity point to commensurate growth in demand for power, and some installations could require power levels in the multi-megawatt range, far higher than any power system deployed in space thus far. SPS systems could become one possible solution to address that demand.”
DoD has shown sporadic interest in the concept for decades, funding a variety of studies, basic research and experiments. For example, besides SSPIDR, the mysterious X-37B space plane which launched on its sixth mission May 17 carried an experimental payload, called the Photovoltaic Radio-frequency Antenna Module (PRAM), designed to test converting solar radiation to microwave radiation. The module was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory.
Up to now, the US has made little progress on making space-based solar power a reality “because the technology is challenging and efforts to develop it have been inconsistent and minimally funded,” Vedda and Jones say. That may be changing, however, due to China’s ambitious plans to pioneer its use.
“China intends to become a global SPS leader and views SPS as a strategic imperative to shift from fossil based energy and foreign oil dependence. China’s SPS strategy is dual use—military and civil,” the Aerospace paper asserts. “SPS milestones include:
- 1990: Interest in SPS initiated
- 2010: Publication of an SPS roadmap
- 2019: Establishment of the first state-funded prototype SPS program
- by 2025: Demonstration of a 100 KW system in LEO
- by 2030: Plans for a 300-ton MW-level space-based solar power station”
As Breaking D readers know, military space leaders over the past year also have been gradually turning up the volume on concerns about China’s long-term lunar exploration plans. China last January became the first country to land a rover on the far side of the Moon, and to pioneer a relay satellite system in lunar orbit to allow communications with it. These concerns are the primary driver behind growing interest within the Space Force on expanding its situational awareness to cislunar space — and CHPS is the first effort to build such capabilities.
“The rise of China’s space program presents military, economic, and political challenges to the United States,” says a September study by Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute and CNA.
“This report concludes that the United States and China are in a long-term competition in space in which China is attempting to become a global power, in part, through the use of space. China’s primary motivation for developing space technologies is national security,” the study says.
As I reported on Tuesday, SSPIDR is finalizing it’s initial contract with Northrop Grumman and expects to take delivery of its first satellite bus, called Helios, for carrying a power-beaming experiment. AFRL intends to release details on Helios, and future plans, as early as next week. Meanwhile, testing high-strength materials that can be tightly compacted into small spaces for the SSPIDR program is the first major project for AFRL’s new Deployable Structures Laboratory (DeSel) at Kirtland AFB. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
07 Nov 20. Competitors protest awards to SpaceX and L3Harris for hypersonic weapon tracking satellites. Raytheon and Airbus are protesting two recent awards for eight missile tracking satellites issued to SpaceX and L3Harris, putting into question the Space Development Agency’s tight schedule to get its initial constellation on orbit in 2022.
The news was first reported by Aviation Week.
Under the Oct. 5 award in question, SpaceX and L3Harris were issued contracts to design and develop four satellites equipped with wide field of view (WFOV) overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) sensors. The eight satellites would form tranche 0 of SDA’s tracking layer, which the military is building to track hypersonic weapons from space.
L3Harris received $193m, while SpaceX received $149m.
Airbus U.S. Space & Defense first filed its protest of the award Oct. 28, while Raytheon filed its own protest on Nov. 3. A stop work order has been issued for SpaceX and L3Harris.
“SDA is working with the GAO to achieve fast, accurate and equitable resolution to the protests received from Airbus and Raytheon on the agency’s Tracking Tranche 0 contracts,” an SDA spokesperson said in a statement. “SDA is committed to full and open competition whenever practicable and the agency understands protests are a potential and not uncommon part of that process.”
The tracking layer is one of several capabilities being built into the agency’s planned mega-constellation known as the National Defense Space Architecture. SDA is using a spiral development approach to build out that constellation, by adding more satellites every two years. The first tranche, which would include the eight missile tracking satellites in question, will include about 30 satellites set to launch in 2022. By the end of 2026, the agency wants to have hundreds of satellites in orbit.
While Raytheon declined to comment, Airbus U.S. Space & Defense told C4ISRNET in a statement that concerns over the government’s evaluation process for the proposals led the company to protest the award.
“While determined highly competitive, Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. was ultimately not selected by SDA for award. Our post-award debrief review identified concerns about the government’s evaluation process, and as a result, we have filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO),” an Airbus U.S. spokesperson said in a statement. “Airbus U.S. believes its proposal based on the ARROW commodity satellite bus and the Airbus OneWeb Satellites’ operational manufacturing facility in Florida fits SDA’s evaluation criteria for commercial commoditized buses manufactured at scale.”
At the time of the awards, SDA Director Derek Tournear told C4ISRNET the awards were the result of a full and open competition, with the selection based purely on technical merit. Tournear praised both SpaceX and L3Harris in that interview, emphasizing both companies’ plans to meet the agency’s aggressive schedule.
“SpaceX had a very credible story along that line — a very compelling proposal. It was outstanding,” he said. “They are one of the ones that have been at the forefront of this commercialization and commodification route.”
In addition, “L3Harris had an extremely capable solution. They have a lot of experience flying affordable, rapid, small satellite buses for the department,” he said. “They had the plant and the line in place in order to produce these to hit our schedule.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
08 Nov 20. Kleos Space Successful Launch – Scouting Mission satellites into Orbit.
- Kleos’ cluster of four satellites (KSM1) deployed into a 575 km 37 degree inclined orbit
- Initial Communication with satellites established
- Existing customers eager to receive the Kleos Data
- Over 100 worldwide customers in current pipeline
- Second cluster of satellites (KSF1) scheduled to be launched mid 2021
- Further clusters in planning/development stage
Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, is proud to announce the successful deployment of its Scouting Mission satellites (KSM1) following the launch onIndia’s Space Research Organization’s (ISROs) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C49 from Chennai, India.
The in-orbit commissioning phase now commences to prepare the satellites to collect data over crucial areas of interest such as Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, East/West Africa, Southern Sea of Japan, northern Australian coast e.g. the Timor Sea.
Kleos has secured over 100 worldwide active B2G and B2B opportunities across its pipeline in international jurisdictions including USA, UK, Latin America, Middle East, South Pacific and Australia, representing significant annual revenue following launch and commissioning.
Kleos CEO Andy Bowyer said, “This launch marks an important milestone for Kleos to start delivering our commercial and independent data to government agencies, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) community and organisations interested in locating threats, assets or those in need of search and rescue”.
“I would like to thank the entire team at Kleos Space, GomSpace, ISRO and Space Flight as: they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to get our Scouting satellites launched in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Additionally I would like to thank the wider team around us, we have an incredible group of shareholders, stakeholders and partners who have been on this journey with us, and I look forward to working with them as we now grow”.
Kleos CTO Miles Ashcroft said of the successful launch, “This is the fruition of a massive amount or hard work by the team. They have made sure this has happened through the most unusual of times, and I am grateful for their dedication which has been exemplary. We are in a good position for developing our systems to exploit data, we are making fantastic progress on the next mission (KSF) already, these really are exciting times for Kleos!”.
Franz Fayot, Luxembourg Minister of the Economy, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairscongratulated the Kleos Space team and said: “With the launch of the first satellites, the team of Kleos has reached yet another milestone in the successful development of the company. Kleos and its activities in Luxembourg are a perfect showcase to demonstrate how space-related companies find here a nurturing and supportive environment with an established community of high-tech businesses, researchers, and entrepreneurs along with access to the necessary support, services and facilities.”
François Bausch, Luxembourg Minister of Defence, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mobility and Public Workssaid: “It is for me of utmost importance that all our endeavours serve to keep our World, but also Space, a peaceful domain. The activities of Kleos in Luxembourg and the launch of these first satellites are perfectly in line with this objective and we look forward to Kleos contributing to our efforts to build valuable data sets”.
“While using innovative technologies developed in Luxembourg, Kleos can contribute to make this World a bit more safe and secure. I would sincerely like to congratulate Kleos for the launch of these first satellites and wish you a lot of success!”
While the first cluster is in orbit, Kleos remains focused on securing additional Government and commercial contracts and is on track to generate first revenues in the coming months.
The development of Kleos’ second cluster of satellites (KSF1), is already underway and subsequent to an initial review is expected to pass PDR within the next week. This activity is on track to have satellites procured, assembled and integrated for the mid 2021 launch slot (window opens 1st June 2021).
This Second mission will be named Polar Vigilance Mission and is a cluster of four satellites, launching into a Sun Synchronous Orbit. The Polar Vigilance Mission will enhance the company’s RF geolocation data delivered by the Kleos Scouting Mission by covering areas North and South of the Scouting Mission 37-degree inclined orbit in addition to increasing overall coverage time in the equatorial region and increasing revenues.
02 Nov 20. Rocket Factory Augsburg’s RFA ONE Launch Vehicle Gets a boost from ESA. RFA is receiving ESA support for a project volume of 500,000 euros for the development of the first stage demonstrator of its RFA ONE launch vehicle.
Within the scope of the C-STS program, Rocket Factory Augsburg will be testing its first stage demonstrator for the RFA ONE launch vehicle. The activities under the scope of this project cover detailed design, manufacturing as well as testing of the first stage demonstrator for a successful proof-of-concept and final qualification towards its respective development roadmap milestones throughout 2021.
“Being the first company to sign a contract within ESA Boost underlines our position at the forefront of commercialization of space transportation in Europe.” said Jörn Spurmann, CCO at RFA. “We are very happy that the DLR Microlauncher competition enables this program and we are very much looking forward to the next phase.”
Stefan Brieschenk, CCO at RFA, added, “The signing of the ESA contract puts RFA at the forefront of the global new-space launch vehicle development, with its state-of-the-art orbital stage and staged-combustion engine technology. RFA’s orbital stage can conduct inclination and RAAN changes enabling the deployment of full smallsat constellations within hours. The core stage design and the high-performance staged-combustion engine, coupled with the lowest-possible-cost production techniques, are essentially new to Europe.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Nov 20. NOVELSAT Incorporates HPE’s ProLiant Servers For Their Video Gateways. NOVELSAT has selected Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) ProLiant servers to power its high performance video gateways.
Media and broadcast service providers face increased demand for higher quality content over multiple distribution channels, as well as bandwidth and spectrum challenges amid spectrum repurposing for 5G. NOVELSAT unique video solutions allows customers to expand, modernize and transform their video connectivity and delivery network, gaining higher transmission and video coding efficiencies as well as enjoying advanced capabilities, new services and flexible deployment options.
NOVELSAT will use HPE ProLiant servers to power NOVELSAT FUSION, an advanced, end-to-end, live linear platform for broadcast and broadband content connectivity and delivery. Expanding flexibility and scalability, NOVELSAT FUSION delivers optimal video efficiency, processing, delivery and security solutions by technology innovation across the media network.
Supporting the rapidly growing adoption of NOVELSAT FUSION by leading broadcasters, HPE will deliver hundreds of customized HPE ProLiant servers, paving the way to a further business growth.
“World’s leading service and content providers are recognizing the unique value of our state-of-the-art technology, selecting our FUSION solution for their content connectivity and delivery networks,” said Aviv Ronai, VP Marketing and Product at NOVELSAT. “With the intense growth of our video business, we faced the need for a common server platform to support our various configurations and deployments. HPE ProLiant servers, which are tailored to our requirements, provide us the flexibility and scalability we need, helping us create consistency and standardization across our solutions and streamline our operations.”
“Consumption of video content has grown more than ever before. It is pressing broadcast channels to transform their platforms to quickly adapt and scale to deliver rich experiences,” said Phillip Cutrone, VP AND GM, Worldwide Service Provider and OEM at HPE. “HPE has been playing a critical role in this transformation and looks forward to collaborating with NOVELSAT through an OEM partnership to deliver next-generation video solutions. By extending HPE ProLiant servers, which offer world-leading security, high-performance, resiliency and versatility, NOVELSAT can power its platform to build and scale solutions for greater value.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Nov 20. SES Names Gilat + ST Engineering iDirect As Tech Partners for O3b mPOWER Comms System. SES has announced Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect as their latest technology partners who will be developing the core infrastructure modem platforms for O3b mPOWER, SES’s NGSO communications system.
Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect were selected based on their next-generation modem technologies. Featuring open architectures with a path to full virtualization, the modems will interface with SES’s differentiated Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) capability and leverage SES’s use of the Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) standard.
The combination of this and other technologies will give SES the ability to dynamically control and optimize the entire O3b mPOWER system across space and ground infrastructure, enabling the efficient delivery of low-latency and high-throughput satellite-based data services that can be truly customized to fit specific connectivity requirements on land, at sea or in the air anywhere in the world.
O3b mPOWER is SES’s next-generation MEO communications system. It is currently under construction and on track for launch in 2021. The high-throughput satellites, as well as automated and intelligence-powered ground infrastructure, will deliver low-latency managed services from hundreds of Mbps up to multiple Gbps.
“We are honored to have been selected by SES, our long-time strategic partner, to provide our next-generation baseband platform for O3b mPOWER. Gilat’s innovative ground segment significantly reduces cost-per-bit, delivers a step-change in modem performance, and further integrates with and optimizes SES ground and space service delivery,” said Ron Levin, VP of Mobility and Global Accounts at Gilat. “Throughout the last year, we have been working closely with SES to develop the platform for O3b mPOWER with the joint goal of bringing to market unparalleled customer experience in all target verticals.”
“We are at the beginning of a new future for our industry. To be selected for O3b mPOWER is a tremendous validation of ST Engineering iDirect’s technology vision and proves that ground infrastructure will play a pivotal role in SES’s ambitious goal to transform satellite service delivery,” said Frederik Simoens, CTO, ST Engineering iDirect. “O3b mPOWER is at the forefront of a significant movement to drive a standards-based, virtualised network approach where ground is in lockstep with space. Through our partnership, we will greatly expand the possibilities for global connectivity.”
“The basis of our O3b mPOWER communications system is defined and advanced by a diverse and robust partner ecosystem. As an industry, we are able to embrace the vision of open networking and seamless satellite services because of like-minded partners such as Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect who understand the step-change in system flexibility and capacity that O3b mPOWER will deliver,” said Stewart Sanders, SES’s EVP of Technology and O3b mPOWER program manager. “We have first-hand experience over many years of working with both Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect and have always been impressed with their work as well as what their technologies can provide. Hence, we have full confidence in selecting these two outstanding companies as trusted partners for O3b mPOWER and to deliver a key part of our infrastructure supporting an unparalleled customer experience.”
Focused on making satellites a seamless part of global network solutions, SES has been steadily expanding its O3b mPOWER partner ecosystem. In addition to Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect, SES has also announced O3b mPOWER partnerships with SpaceX for launches, ALCAN, Isotropic Systems and Viasat for customer edge terminals, Amdocs for NFV technology, Kythera Space Solutions for the ARC software, Microsoft for gateways, and IBM and Microsoft for cloud connectivity. (Source: Satnews)
04 Nov 20. Advantech Wireless Technologies Releases Ultra-High Power SSPA System For TT&C + Deep Space Communications. Advantech Wireless Technologies has introduced their DeepBlu-Series 8.5kW Wideband C-Band Modular SSPA System for LEO, MEO and GEO applications that include Satellite Telemetry, Tracking, and Control (TT&C) and Deep Space Communications.
The newly designed DeepBlu-Systems consist of multiple high-power SSPAs packaged in ruggedized, outdoor enclosures and integrated into a single frame structure that includes combiners, loads, power distribution and M&C – perfectly suited for fixed and full motion antenna installations. Modular architecture with 1:N built-in redundancy and field replaceable amplifiers minimizes downtime, resulting in the highest service availability in the industry.
“Our DeepBlu high-power SSPA systems are designed to produce the high levels of EIRP necessary for the simultaneous control of multiple satellites, while facilitating communications with assets in Deep Space. Today’s satellite modem technology can generate links with modulation schemes of up to 1024 APSK that, when combined with solid state power amplifier technology, can achieve extremely high levels of bandwidth efficiency. DeepBlu is an excellent enabler for critical operations. As the consumption of bandwidth from the expansion of 5G accelerates, traditional teleport operators will be able to accommodate more users in less C-band spectrum,” said Cristi Damian, VP Business Development at Advantech Wireless Technologies. (Source: Satnews)
02 Nov 20. Telesat’s Not Into Low-Cost Antennas For The Near Term + Saudi Arabia To Spend $2.1bn On Space. Elon Musk is inviting consumers in rural America to install his Starlink satellite broadband system at a cost of $99 a month. They also have to pay $499 for the antenna and its associated kit. However, it is widely accepted that Musk’s SpaceX is swallowing some of the antenna’s costs.
As recently reported, the search for a low-cost antenna is crucial if satellite-based broadband is to reach the mass-market. Now, Dan Goldberg, President/CEO at Ottawa-based Telesat, has said he agrees with the outlook.
Telesat has plans to order at least 117 new satellites to go into a LEO constellation (and will likely announce the prime contractor later this year). But he admits he has serious doubts about a low-cost antenna emerging.
“We are still skeptical that the antenna that would go on a consumer’s home is going to be low-cost enough and high-performing enough for that to make sense,” he said on a conference call with analysts.
Worse, perhaps, Goldberg admitted that such a low-cost antenna was not on Telesat’s near-term or even medium-term roadmap, although he was optimistic that something would emerge eventually.
As to plans for Telesat’s LEO constellation, Goldberg told analysts that the company would be concentrating on business-to-business and government customers, and that these markets would be sufficient to justify the investment.
Saudi Arabia says the nation will invest an initial $2.1bn over the next few years in space-related activity to help create economic diversification plan to attract inward investment and create “thousands of jobs” for its young citizens.
A report from Reuters says the investment would be made during the next nine years (until 2030) and will be handled by the Saudi Space Commission (SSC) set up in late 2018. The full plan, with specific projects outlined, will be unveiled later this year.
“In the time where we live now, space is becoming a fundamental sector of the global economy, touching every aspect of our lives on Earth. Space business and space economy are expected to grow into the trillions of riyals as we go forward,” Prince Sultan, the son of Saudi monarch King Salman, told Reuters in an interview.
Prince Sultan was the first Arab to fly on a Space Shuttle (Discovery) in 1985. Reuters says that his aim is to see Saudi Arabia become a global player in the space industry. Saudi Arabia is already a major (37 percent) investor in the Arabsat satellite constellation.
SSC reportedly has pending agreements with major international agencies including the US, Russia, China, India and the UAE. (Source: Satnews)
31 Oct 20. Kacific Engaged In Development of Kacific2 Satellite. Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) has started directing resources toward the planning and design of the company’s next satellite, Kacific2.
Kacific2 will add capacity to its largest, high-demand markets of Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, as well as expand its reach wider into South East Asia and further into Central and Western Asia, and potentially Eastern Africa.
Like Kacific1, Kacific2 will use a spot beam system with dynamic bandwidth reallocation to respond to changes in market demand pre and post launch. This advanced technology allows Kacific to respond rapidly to new growth opportunities and provide a broader range of services for each market, by changing bandwidth configuration even when the satellite is already in orbit. Kacific2 will also take advantage of the latest beam forming technologies.
Christian Patouraux, Kacific CEO, said that Kacific1 has established a market presence and distribution channels for its high-speed broadband internet business in a number of key markets. He noted, “The successful launch and deployment of Kacific1 last year and current strong demand for its services allowed us to prove both our capabilities and our business case despite the pandemic. We’ve shown how rapidly we can meet pent-up demand for internet access in Asia and the Pacific with satellite technology, not only as trunk and mobile backhaul links to telcos but also as direct broadband internet to governments and to ISPs serving enterprises and consumers. It’s exciting to move forward with the active planning towards our next satellite Kacific2, which is an important part of our growth strategy.” (Source: Satnews)
27 Oct 20. Space Force Leader Discusses Newest Military Service. The leader of the Space Force today discussed his service’s partnerships and relations with Congress and the Air Force.
Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations and commander of the U.S. Space Command, attended a virtual event with the National Defense University Foundation in Washington, D.C.
The partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office has never been better, Raymond said. Today, the Space Force shares a strategy, an operations center and even programs.
“What’s driving us together is largely the threat,” he said, meaning mostly from Russia and China. Although the NRO and the Space Force have distinct missions, Raymond said where they come together is to protect and defend. “Going forward, we need to broaden that relationship even greater,” he said.
Partnerships with allies and partners is also important, Raymond said. For instance, the Defense Department trains with partners, shares data with partners, and operations centers are even inter-connected. The Space Force has even put military payloads on Norwegian and Japanese satellites.
Partnering with other services is also critical since whatever happens in the space domain affects the other domains, he said. An example of this partnership is the Space Force’s high priority on working with the services to begin the Joint All-Domain Command and Control system, which connects sensors to shooters across multiple domains, he said.
Partnering with the commercial industry is also important in areas such as commercial launch capabilities and large communications satellites, he said. And with the proliferation of small, low-earth orbit and higher-earth orbit satellites, working with the private sector will be even more important, as they can get very capable satellites built very quickly.
Relations With Congress
Raymond noted that the Space Force has strong bipartisan support from Congress and, in turn, the Space Force provides lawmakers with frequent updates. Legislators wanted the Space Force to develop an independent acquisition strategy, develop a human capital management plan, and do a study on how to best integrate the reserve component into the Space Force. All of these were done, he said, along with updating lawmakers on threats to the space domain.
Air Force Dependence, Independence
Raymond mentioned that while the Space Force falls under the Department of the Air Force, it must develop a strong and independent presence to the benefit of the total force.
The relationship, he said, could be compared to the Marine Corps, which falls under the Department of the Navy. Marines pride themselves on everyone being a rifleman, and they have their distinct culture. At the same time, they rely on the Navy for ships, medical support and so on.
The only thing that comes into the Space Force is space operators, engineers, acquisition experts, cyber experts and software programmers. Everything else, he said, will rely on the Air Force, such as support functions, security forces, civil engineers and so on.
“We are focusing on the space superiority mission and being able to provide space capabilities to our allies and partners,” he said.
Being Lean, But Effective
“We do not want to be big,” Raymond said of the number of personnel in the Space Force. Big means slow. Successful leaders of industry recognize that smaller means being more nimble and effective, he said.
However, there comes a point when being too lean can result in being ineffective. “The challenge is hitting the sweet spot,” he said.
About 97% of the studies have been completed, indicating what other people and assets from the other services should be brought into the Space Force without harming the other services, he said. Raymond also said he expects a decision soon on what other pieces should be brought in. (Source: US DoD)
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