Sponsored By Viasat
19 Nov 20. Viasat Picks Up All Of Euro Broadband Services From Eutelsat, Including KA-SAT. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) will strengthen their European presence by purchasing the remaining 51% share of Euro Broadband Infrastructure (EBI), the wholesale broadband services business created as part of Viasat’s former partnering arrangement with Eutelsat Communications.
EBI provides fixed and mobile broadband services on a wholesale basis in the European and Mediterranean markets. In the initial partnering arrangement, Eutelsat contributed its existing European broadband operations to the wholesale business, including ownership of the KA-SAT satellite and related ground infrastructure.
Eutelsat initially owned 51% of EBI and Viasat the remaining 49% interest. The 51% controlling interest in EBI was acquired for 140m euros, subject to customary net working capital and net debt adjustments. The purchase price will be funded with available cash, resulting in a cash outlay of 50m euros, net of approximately 90m euros of EBI’s cash on hand.
The wholesale business adds to Viasat’s established retail broadband services business in Europe where Viasat is offering enhanced home internet service in select European countries, including Spain, Norway and Poland. The Company also maintains a strong mobility presence, providing high-speed, high-quality in-flight connectivity (IFC) to seven European airlines as well as international airlines that fly into Europe.
These initiatives provide a foundation for growth in the retail and mobility services sectors ahead of the launch of the ViaSat-3 global constellation. The second ViaSat-3 class satellite in that constellation will cover Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA),
Under the agreement, Eutelsat and its subsidiaries will continue to provide transitional services for a limited period of time to Viasat’s EBI business, including the operation of the ground network for KA-SAT, while Viasat/EBI will provide service continuity to the KA-SAT subscriber base of Eutelsat’s Bigblu Broadband Europe division.
Two years following closing, the 140m euros in consideration may be adjusted up or down by up to 20m euros, depending on the performance of certain EBI financial metrics achieved over this period. The transaction is expected to be accretive to the Company’s earnings and EBITDA performance, and deleveraging with respect to the Company’s debt to trailing twelve months EBITDA ratios.
Closing of this transaction is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2021, subject to customary conditions precedent.
“This transaction accelerates Viasat’s European broadband objectives by strengthening our services footprint and facilitating further market penetration,” said Keven Lippert, CCO, Viasat. “By gaining full control of KA-SAT, Viasat can further expand its growing mobility business as well as establish operations and market presence ahead of our ViaSat-3 service launch, including the introduction of new capabilities enabling high-speed, high-bandwidth ‘ViaSat-3-like’ home internet service plans in select European markets. This earlier market roll-out will enable Viasat to build awareness and market knowledge ahead of the European service launch of the ViaSat-3 satellite platform. Additionally, through 100% ownership of EBI, Viasat will be better equipped to execute its distribution strategy ahead of the ViaSat-3 services launch by onboarding new local partners.” (Source: Satnews)
27 Nov 20. Australian Space Research centre to be renamed after first Aussie astronaut. The University of Adelaide has formally renamed the Space Research Centre in honour of the nation’s first astronaut, Dr Andy Thomas, to become the Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources.
The Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources connects the University of Adelaide’s specialist capabilities in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, mining engineering, and advanced materials and manufacturing to global efforts in off-world exploration and habitation.
Dr Andy Thomas, the first Australian to fly in space as a professional NASA astronaut, and University of Adelaide alumnus, is the centre’s patron.
“I am honoured to be associated with this globally unique education and research facility which seeks to address the challenges faced by long-term planetary exploration, while ensuring the near-term application of solutions here on Earth,” said Dr Thomas.
The renaming was announced Wednesday, 25 November at the 10th Australian Space Forum, held virtually. Dr Thomas will speak via a recorded video message about the centre and its vision for the sustainable use of resources in space.
Dr Thomas added, “Journeys into deep space will only be viable if we find ways to identify, assess and model resources on planets and near-Earth objects and extract these resources and process them in a responsible, efficient and sustainable way. Astronauts of the future will need to generate and store energy and fuels, grow food, maintain equipment and ensure safe and reliable operations on other worlds.
“For life to prosper on new worlds, space resources will need to be made into new essential products. Sustainable use of resources in space is critical to the future of space travel.”
Associate professor John Culton, director of the Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources, explained, “Successful long-term space exploration requires a fundamental rethinking of the technologies, processes and infrastructure required to ensure continued and sustainable access to the energy, fuels and resources necessary for off-world operations.
“The Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources combines additional specialist capabilities from across the university to address the end-to-end value chain for sustainable off-world resource utilisation including energy and fuel, health and medicine, and food production. Addressing the challenges for sustainable planetary resource exploration also provides opportunities for developing new technologies that can underpin long term, sustainable, resource exploration and processing in remote locations here on Earth.”
The In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) concept, pioneered by NASA, addresses the reliance on Earth-based materials for long-term space exploration by proposing an off-world, self-contained resource chain covering the exploration, extraction and utilisation of the resources required for sustained space operations.
Ranked in the top 1 per cent of universities worldwide and located in the heart of the world’s 10th most liveable city, the University of Adelaide offers the rare combination of elite academic performance and an unrivalled quality of life.
The Australian Space Forum is delivered by the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC). The biannual meeting has fast become one of the foremost events on the national space industry calendar with a program designed to showcase the best of the Australian space sector and encourage collaboration and investment. It is supported by the Australian Space Agency and SmartSat CRC. (Source: Space Connect)
25 Nov 20. Chief of Space Operations Discusses Need for Outreach to Partners, State of Space Force. The importance of space to the modern world cannot be underestimated, and the U.S. Space Force will be key to defending the ultimate “high ground,” said Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations for the new service.
Other nations are realizing the crucial role of space, as well, and the general is meeting with allies and partners to build on long-established military-to-military relationships. He concluded a visit with Pacific allies Saturday and spoke about the need for such outreach, how the new service operates and how service members are responding to it.
Raymond gave the interview during his flight from Hawaii to Colorado. He was in an aircraft traveling 500 mph over the Eastern Pacific, and the reporter was sitting in Alexandria, Va. The call’s clear sound quality would not have been possible without space capabilities. Raymond’s aircraft navigated using the global positioning system. The aircrew received weather reports based on satellite information.
Space is a crucial domain, economically and militarily, and it must be protected, Raymond said.
The new service is less than a year old, yet it has made tremendous strides.
“Space really underpins… all of our instruments of national power,” Raymond said. “It provides huge economic opportunity, scientific opportunity and military opportunity.”
Many people call Operation Desert Storm the first “space war.” U.S. strategic missile warning capabilities were used innovatively to detect tactical scud missiles. GPS made possible the “left hook” blow into southern Iraq.
“It was the first war where we integrated strategic space capabilities into theater operations,” Raymond said. “And it provided us a significant advantage.”
Since then, the strategic environment has changed considerably. Space was a benign domain in 1991, but it is a contested domain today. This requires the U.S. military to adapt and change, Raymond said.
“We have to train our operators differently, we have to have different space architectures, and we have to have partnerships,” he said.
China and Russia caused this shift in the strategic environment. The two countries seek to stop U.S. access to space, and they are developing capabilities that would negate the U.S. advantage
“I think there’s a realization amongst nations that access to space is no longer a given,” Raymond said. “We’ve got to make sure that we stay ahead of this growing threat.”
China and Russia have exhibited threatening behavior in space. Their capabilities include reversible jamming of GPS and communication satellites. The two nations are working on directed energy and kinetic destruction of U.S. assets via missiles on the ground. Raymond said that there are on-orbit capabilities which are very concerning. If people think the threat isn’t real, the general points back to when the Chinese shot down a satellite in 2007.
This is why partnerships are so important to the United States and to the world. Space will be a trillion-dollar economy by itself over the next few years, he said, and “it offers us an opportunity to develop global partnerships that allow us to take a global perspective,” he said.
During his Air Force career, Raymond served as the vice commander of the 5th Air Force based in Japan. He was there during the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear plant meltdown. U.S. forces based in Japan and in the Pacific came to the aid of the Japanese allies.
“I saw the value of that partnership, front and center,” he said.
He saw the cooperation between the U.S. and Japan on land, sea and air and thought the two militaries needed to have the same cooperation and understanding about the space domain.
That is happening, not just with Japan, but with many close allies.
“We’ve really gone from partnerships that were just one-way data sharing arrangements — where we share space situational awareness information — to partnerships where we now operate together, train together, exercise together, wargame together, and where we’re just beginning to develop capabilities together,” Raymond said.
The United States and international partners are also talking about norms of behavior in space and how responsible nations act in the space domain.
Other nations are developing space commands. France stood up a Space Command in 2019. The United Kingdom has funds for a Space Command in their recently unveiled budget. Japan just stood up a new organization centered on space.
“Across the globe, there’s a recognition that space needs to be elevated in importance to a level relative to everybody’s security,” he said.
The American military space effort — both the U.S. Space Force and the combatant command, U.S. Space Command — are not large organizations, but they have a large footprint. In addition to working with allies, Raymond has worked with the combatant commands to learn their needs, how they see the future and what sorts of capabilities they will need moving forward.
The Space Force is a global power, and the requirements have to be examined globally, as well. The force works with all the geographic combatant commands.
The Space Force celebrates its first birthday Dec. 20, 2020, and Raymond said the service has really been in the process of “inventing” itself.
“This service … has to be agile and lean to go fast,” he said. “I think that’s critical to our success in the space domain. I really believe that large organizations are slow, and I will do all I can to stay small.”
Space itself is “fast.” He noted that objects in space go 17,500 mph just to stay in orbit.
Inspired by the idea of traveling at the speed of space, the Air Force swiftly streamlined the creation of Space Force. It is not a numbered Air Force — a three-star position — and Raymond eliminated a series of O-6 commands.
… everybody in this service has an extra bounce in their step, because the nation and the world understand just how valuable space is to our nation.”
Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force
“We wanted to reduce the decision space between the experts in the field and the decision makers,” he said.
The Space Force staff was estimated to need 1,000 service members. It will have about 600 and is not growing, Raymond said.
If the command gets new missions, they may revisit the manning situation, but the service will never match the Army, Air Force or Navy in size.
“This is a small, highly technical service that provides value well beyond the size of the force structure,” he said.
One example he gave was a squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. It has about 100 personnel and operates the entire GPS constellation for the world.
“Small numbers of people can have a huge global impact,” he said.
Raymond said he is seeing excitement once again in America about space.
“There’s excitement across the nation I haven’t seen since the Apollo days,” he said.
There’s talk of NASA moon landings again and eventual trips to Mars. The accomplishments of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, United Launch Alliance and other private firms are also fomenting interest.
In the Space Force, “everybody in this service has an extra bounce in their step, because the nation and the world understand just how valuable space is to our nation,” he said.
The force has had no trouble getting volunteers. The service had to have an application process for those wishing to transfer from the Air Force.
“If you look at the Air Force Academy two years ago, there were 13 cadets who came to the force,” he said. “This last year, we had 86. This year, it’ll be 100.”
The same thing is happening in universities and colleges around the country, with many applicants studying astro-engineering.
“Ten years from now, we’re going to reap the benefits of this,” he said.
Raymond knows what he is talking about. On July 20, 1969, the general was a kid in West Point, N.Y.
“I remember sitting on the living room floor watching Neil Armstrong first walk on the moon,” he said. “And then I remember turning around and going to build an Apollo model rocket. I think the same thing is happening today.” (Source: US DoD)
26 Nov 20. Australian NGTF calls for submissions to support innovation in space capability. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) is seeking submissions to develop an innovative ‘space qualified’ radio frequency (RF) sensor payload as part of the space capabilities priority area.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the NGTF Space Capabilities priority area is designed to develop and demonstrate high risk, high payoff space technology for Defence. The Next Generation Technologies Fund supports research in emerging and future technologies, including technologies that may deliver on a time horizon greater than 10 years.
Partnering options under the NGTF allow for choice and flexibility in scale and time to delivery – from ambitious ‘Grand Challenges’ to lean and focused technology acceleration. This allows Defence to engage a range of research partners, individually or in teams, from start-ups to primes and national research organisations.
Minister Price said, “The NGTF will contribute up to $6.6m in funding and support for ideas and proposals from industry and academia to identify and pursue research, design and testing aspects of any sensor payload. Each proposal will be evaluated and assessed to determine the most appropriate funding mechanism and amounts that best facilitates working together on the resulting research activity.”
The NGTF, managed by DST, is a new government initiative introduced with the Defence Industry Policy Statement in 2016. Together with the Defence Innovation Hub and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, these three form the integrated Defence innovation system.
NGTF will make further investments worth approximately $1.2bn over the next decade on a forward-looking program focusing on research and development in emerging and future technologies for the “future Defence force after next”.
NGTF is focused on the following nine priority areas:
- Integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance;
- Space capabilities;
- Enhanced human performance;
- Medical countermeasure products;
- Multi-disciplinary material sciences;
- Quantum technologies;
- Trusted autonomous systems;
- Cyber; and
- Advanced sensors, hypersonics and directed energy capabilities.
“This initiative is central to Defence’s Resilient Multi-mission Space Science, Technology and Research (STaR) Shot program, and the broader Defence Science and Technology strategy,” Minister Price added.
Proposals are expected to span over a multi-year time frame, with progress assessed on an annual basis. The call for submissions will be released on AusTender in the first quarter of 2021. (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Nov 20. Innovor Technologies completes design review for Australian Defence Satellite. Inovor Technologies has successfully completed its critical design review (CDR) for the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group’s Buccaneer Main Mission (BMM), marking the start of the manufacture and test phase of the 6U Apogee spacecraft.
BMM will enable Defence to launch an HF receiver payload into space to contribute to calibration research of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), in addition, BMM will host several innovative secondary payloads, furthering technology research for Defence.
The BMM spacecraft builds on the 2017-launched Buccaneer Risk Reduction Mission (BRMM) flown by the Defence Science and Technology Group which successfully flew key technologies that now underpin the BMM mission.
Inovor Technologies’ Apogee spacecraft bus is providing the structure, power, pointing, and telemetry and control systems, all integrated into a lightweight modular structure. As the only spacecraft designed and built in Australia using a sovereign Australian supply chain, the Apogee Bus offers complete control of all hardware and software and unprecedented flexibility, security, and mission assurance.
The successful CDR completion marks a major milestone for Inovor Technologies, its major subcontractor SITAEL Australia, and Defence.
Inovor Technologies CEO Dr Matthew Tetlow said, “The success of the Critical Design Review is testament to the collaborative efforts of Inovor Technologies, Defence, and SITAEL Australia and our shared focus which is to successfully deliver Australian-made satellite solutions and Australian-owned space technologies.”
Andrew Seedhouse, chief of the Defence Science and Technology Group’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Space Division (ISSD), said the successful CDR was a pleasing result.
“It is great to see this program pass this important milestone and we are very pleased to see the increasing use of Australian industry solutions in a space system. Such growth in industrial capability is critical for further involvement of Australian industry in the broader Defence space program,” Seedhouse said.
Mark Ramsey, general manager of SITAEL Australia, said the Critical Design Review had showcased the ability of Australia’s talented space technicians.
“We have a highly skilled, highly integrated team working on BMM, which contributed to the successful delivery of the CDR. We look forward to building on the momentum of the CDR in the manufacture and testing phase,” Ramsey added. (Source: Space Connect)
24 Nov 20. NGC and Gilmour Space Technologies Work to Grow Sovereign Capabilities in Australia. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Queensland-based rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, to support the development of Australian sovereign space capabilities.
Northrop Grumman aims to lead industry support in developing Australian sovereign space capabilities to help meet the needs of defence and realise the Australian Space Agency vision,” said Chris Deeble, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. “Our approach is consistent with the Australian government’s recently announced Modern Manufacturing Strategy, to make space hardware in Australia while securing sovereign capabilities in priority areas that includes defence and space.”
As an initial task under the MOU, Northrop Grumman will join Gilmour Space as an industry partner on a previously announced Cooperative Research Centre Project (CRC-P) to develop composite rocket tanks for low cost space transport.
The CRC-P, which includes Griffith University and Etamax Engineering, will manufacture composite tanks up to two metres in diameter and trial them in rocket flights, in an effort to reduce weight and increase reliability.
Gilmour Space CEO Adam Gilmour said the company is excited to work with Northrop Grumman on this opportunity. “It is great to gain the support of Northrop Grumman who, through this investment, have further demonstrated their commitment to grow Australian space capability.”
Northrop Grumman recently sought expressions of interest from a range of Australian and New Zealand industry members, through the Industry Capability Network Gateway Portal, which included small businesses, with the goal to identify and collaborate with industry to develop Australian space capabilities.
Northrop Grumman remains committed to enhancing its business and geographic footprint in the Commonwealth of Australia as a key contributor to the Australian Space industry. The company has a strong customer base in Australia where it has been supporting numerous defence and civil programs for more than 20 years.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defence and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services. (Source: ASD Network)
24 Nov 20. Exploring new roads for cooperation: Europe’s most innovative start-ups digitally meet with Thales and Thales Alenia Space.
On 24 November 2020 the European Innovation Council (EIC) and Thales and Thales Alenia Space are hosting their first online Europe Innovation Council Corporate Day, bringing together 14 of the most innovative start-ups in Europe. During EIC Corporate Days the European Commission connects Europe’s most innovative companies and innovators with executives and cross sectorial decision makers. The start-ups, hailing from 9 different countries ranging from Italy to Germany, Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Austria, Ireland and Switzerland, will have the opportunity to pitch their innovations to representatives from Thales and engage in one-to-one’s. The companies will pitch a range of different innovations, in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Quantum technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) among other things.
Bernhard Quendt, Chief Technical Officer of Thales: “Open innovation is at the heart of Thales’ strategy to develop breakthrough technologies addressing the needs of our clients. The European Innovation Council Corporate Day is a fantastic opportunity for us to access some of the most innovative European start-ups and SMEs and potentially partner with them. The startups selected here represent an excellent panel of innovations in the field of AI, connectivity, big data and cybersecurity. We are looking forward to pursuing fruitful discussions with them.”
Clarence Duflocq, Strategy & Innovation Director of Thales Alenia Space: “This is the first joint event with the EIC and we look forward together with the other Thales businesses to leverage on the great potential of the selected SMEs and startups for new win-win collaboration opportunities.”
Jean-David Malo, Director of the European Innovation Council: “More than ever innovation is central to Europe’s ability to generate new jobs and sustainable growth. We need innovative ideas to tackle the major societal challenges that we Europeans are facing. The last months we have shown the flexibility and agility of the European Innovation Council, by continuing our EIC Corporate Days online with some of Europe’s biggest corporate players. This way we continue to offer ‘smart money’ to our innovators; funding but also the possibility to connect with big players around Europe.
Bridging the gap between start-ups and large companies is a vital strategy for business acceleration and growth. Today we give the possibility to innovators to turn their ideas into reality and thus creating jobs and growth for the benefit of citizens. It is an absolute win-win situation for everyone: the start-ups SMEs obtain synergies, connections and forge new business opportunities, while the corporates can identify new emerging technologies and scout interesting new start-ups.
The EIC is grateful that Thales and Thales Alenia Space have decided to go on this digital journey with us. It clearly shows their innovative nature and willingness to be on the forefront of new digital solutions.”
For more information on the EIC Corporate Day with Thales and Thales Alenia Space, please check the EIC Community.
24 Nov 20. Euclid. Mapping the expansion of the Universe to better understand dark energy and matter. Launching in 2022 for a 6-year mission.
The Expanding Universe
Until 20-30 years ago, scientists thought that the Universe was composed of ordinary matter: protons, neutrons and electrons. Now we know that this accounts for only 4% of the Universe mass-energy budget. The rest is composed of two mysterious components, dark energy and dark matter, which are causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate, and which cannot be adequately explained by our current knowledge of fundamental physics.
The UK Space Agency is funding research teams in 7 different institutions across the UK to contribute to the Euclid spacecraft. A team at University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory is leading the development of one of the two science instruments on board, the visible imager (VIS), and researchers across the country are working to establish the complex data-processing capability to allow scientists to use the data that will eventually be sent back to Earth to study dark energy and dark matter.
What will Euclid do?
Euclid is a medium-class European Space Agency mission due to launch in 2022. Its objective is to better understand the nature of dark matter and dark energy by mapping the ‘Dark Universe’ and by accurately measuring the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe.
The Euclid spacecraft will have two scientific instruments on board that will use specialist techniques to answer key questions about our Universe.
* What is the distribution of dark matter in the Universe?
* What is the history of expansion of the Universe?
* What does this tell us about the nature of dark energy?
* How do large-scale structures form in the Universe?
What will the instruments be measuring?
The two techniques will be weak gravitational lensing and baryonic acoustic oscillation (BAOs). These will be used to measure galaxy shapes and distortions, telling us about the distribution and evolution of dark energy and dark matter.
Weak lensing will be used to measure distortions of galaxy images due to gravity. BAOs are wiggle patterns imprinted in the clustering of galaxies which act as a standard against which to measure the expansion of the Universe. Weak lensing in particular requires a visible imager which can achieve extremely high image quality – any optical distortion due to the instrument optical systems must be calibrated out so that any distortions which are measured will be due to gravity.
The scientific instruments
To study the nature of dark energy and dark matter, Euclid will carry two science instruments, each built by a consortium of European partners:
* a visible imager (VIS) led by the UK at the Mullard Space Science Lab (MSSL)
* a near infrared spectrometer and photometer (NISP, led by France)
The VIS Principal Investigator is Prof Mark Cropper at MSSL. The MSSL team has responsibility for managing the instrument consortium that has designed and built the various subsystems for VIS. MSSL is also directly responsible for the development of the detector chain of the instrument (the readout electronics receiving data from the sensors and their associated power supplies).
The Charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors are provided by Teledyne e2v in Chelmsford, under contract to ESA. The Flight Instrument was delivered to ESA for integration and testing in 2020 and will then begin being integrated with the spacecraft for the final environmental test campaign to confirm readiness for launch.
How is the UK involved?
During the 6-year mission the spacecraft will be bombarded by radiation in space, damaging the sensitive CCD detectors. To support the development at MSSL, the Open University has conducted modelling and simulations to understand how this radiation damage affects instrument performance. This will ensure that the science data can be interpreted accurately.
Euclid will generate an unprecedented volume of science data (850Gbit compressed data per day) and to cope with this, Euclid will employ K-band communications to provide the necessary rapid download rate.
In addition to the lead role on VIS, the UK also has a strong role on the development of the Ground Segment for Euclid. This includes a Science Data Centre in Edinburgh and the lead role on shear measurements and analysis, a critical element of Euclid science. Professor Andy Taylor of the Edinburgh Astronomy Technology Centre leads the development of the UK ground segment, with contributions from research teams at Oxford University, Cambridge University, University of Portsmouth, University College London, MSSL and Durham University. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
24 Nov 20. Geospatial Commission outlines actions to boost UK’s geospatial ecosystem. The Geospatial Commission has published a report setting out actions to nurture the UK’s location data ecosystem.
Today the Geospatial Commission has published its ‘Enhancing the UK’s Geospatial Ecosystem’report. This report outlines the actions needed to nurture the growing UK geospatial economy and realise the vision set out in the UK’s Geospatial Strategy. The recommendations are based on the findings of an independent research study by Frontier Economics into the state of the location data market in the UK, also published today.
Use of location data, also known as geospatial data, is growing across many sectors and industries. Businesses can and do use location data as both a foundational building block, such as in the housing and transport sectors, and within cutting edge technology and data science techniques, such as in the financial services and marketing industries.
The Geospatial Commission’s recommendations focus on three key areas: improving data access; maintaining public trust and driving business adoption. Success requires a whole system and collaborative approach, with action required across the public sector to overcome the barriers and embrace the breadth of opportunities that better geospatial data provides.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, Geospatial Commission Chair, said, “Data about location is increasingly valuable to businesses throughout the UK economy, and it is important that the right conditions are in place to support its efficient access, trusted use and swift adoption. The Geospatial Commission has outlined key recommendations and actions, and looks forward to working with key partners across the public sector, to ensure that these conditions are enabled. I am grateful to Frontier Economics for their thoughtful and rigorous analysis of the UK’s geospatial data market, which takes a unique approach to identifying the full impact of geospatial data throughout the UK economy and is the main basis for the Geospatial Commission’s recommendations.”
The Geospatial Commission has published its ‘Enhancing the UK’s Geospatial Ecosystem’report. It outlines areas for action to nurture the growing UK geospatial economy, and is based on the findings of an independent research study by Frontier Economics into the state of the location data market in the UK, also published today.
The report highlights the following three areas and six recommendations that require action now to secure the full potential of location data to the UK:
Improving access to location data – Data holders should consider the public good as a main rationale when making decisions about access to location data.
Action 1: The Geospatial Commission will include the objective that ‘data holders consider the public good in decisions about access to location data’ in its forthcoming guidelines for measuring the value of location data, and for the ethical use of location data and technology in both the private and public sector.
Action 2: Competition regulators, including a future Digital Markets Unit and organisations within the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum, should consider the potential public good arising from the sharing and reuse of location data when evolving their regulatory approach for unlocking competition in digital markets.
Maintaining public trust in how location data is used – There should be an informed public discourse considering the benefits arising from use of location data and the potential risks to individual privacy.
Action 3: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) should provide further clarity on the distinction between personal and non-personal location data.
Action 4: The Geospatial Commission will lead an informed public discourse about the benefits and risks of new applications of location data, starting with a new programme of deliberative public engagement.
Driving location data adoption – Organisations should recognise the additional value that location data can deliver for their business.
Action 5: The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should further incorporate location data capability as an essential component of their programmes for increasing growth, innovation and productivity within the UK economy.
Action 6: The Government Commercial Function should embed provisions within appropriate government contracts and spend approvals to require valuable location data, generated either directly or as a by-product of the provision of other goods and services, to be retained and made available for appropriate reuse by the government.
Frontier Economics and the Geospatial Commission are grateful to Sir Edward Troup, Sir Ian Diamond, Tera Allas CBE, Amelia Fletcher CBE and John Pullinger CB for their comments as part of the Market Study Expert Panel. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Nov 20. Rocket Lab’s “Return to Sender” Successfully Launches With 30 Smallsats/ Rocket Lab has successfully launched their 16th Electron mission and deployed 30 small satellites to orbit, the largest number of satellites deployed by Electron to date on a single mission.
The ‘Return to Sender’ mission also saw Rocket Lab complete a successful splashdown and recovery of the first stage of an Electron launch vehicle for the first time, bringing the stage back to Earth under a parachute after launch. The recovery of a stage is a major milestone in Rocket Lab’s pursuit to make Electron a reusable rocket to increase launch frequency and reduce launch costs for small satellites.
Approximately two and a half minutes after lift-off, at an altitude of around 80 km, Electron’s first and second stages separated per standard mission procedure. Once the engines shut down on Electron’s first stage, a reaction control system re-oriented the stage 180-degrees to place it on an ideal angle for re-entry, enabling it to survive the incredible heat and pressure known as “The Wall” during its descent back to Earth. A drogue parachute was deployed to increase drag and to stabilize the first stage as it descended, before a large main parachute was deployed in the final kilometres of descent.
The stage splashed down as planned. Rocket Lab’s recovery team will transport the stage back to Rocket Lab’s production complex, where engineers will inspect the stage to gather data that will inform future recovery missions.
The ‘Return to Sender’ mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s M?hia Peninsula at 15:20 UTC, 20 November 2020, deploying satellites from the below listed companies and organizations. The mission brings the total number of satellites launched by Rocket Lab to 95.
Rocket Lab’s Return to Sender Electron rocket lifting off from New Zealand’s M?hia Peninsula.
Among the payloads deployed were satellites designed to test new methods of deorbiting space debris, enable internet from space, and build upon a maritime surveillance constellation. The mission also saw New Zealand’s first student-built payload deployed to orbit, the APSS-1 satellite, which is designed to monitor electrical activity in Earth’s upper atmosphere to test whether ionospheric disturbances might be linked to earthquakes. Rocket Lab sponsored the project by providing the launch at no cost to the University of Auckland.
Joining the satellites for the ride to orbit was a mass simulator shaped like a garden gnome, launched to space in support of Starship Children’s Hospital. Manufactured by award-winning design studio Weta Workshop for Valve’s Gabe Newell, Gnome Chompski is a 150 mm, 3D printed, titanium gnome, created as a nod to an achievement in the game Half-Life 2 that sees players carry a gnome through the came before depositing him in a rocket to be launched to space.
While watching Gnome Chompski get launched to space for real was a spectacle enjoyed by gamers worldwide, Mr. Chompski also served an important R&D function by allowing Rocket Lab to test and qualify novel 3D printing techniques that could be employed for future spacecraft components. Gnome Chompski’s time in space is limited though, as he remains attached to Electron’s Kick Stage and will de-orbit with it when the stage burns up on re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Rocket Lab Mission Control
For every person who watched the launch webcast, Mr. Newell donated a dollar to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship Children’s Hospital. More than $80,000 has so far been raised so far, and viewers still have more than 20 hours to watch the launch via YouTube at this direct link and the view will count towards the total. (Source: Satnews)
23 Nov 20. Inter-Satellite, Real-Time Data Relay System Debuts from Inmarsat + AddValue. The world’s first, publicly-available, real-time link between satellites in high and low earth orbits is now available — after a five-year collaboration, Inmarsat and Addvalue Innovation have announced the Commercial Service Introduction (CSI) of their Inter-satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) service, following the successful demonstration of the first live data connectivity between customer Capella Space’s Control Center and its recently launched Sequoia satellite at LEO.
This success paves the way for satellites in LEO to continuously maintain communications with the ground, receiving and transmitting data on demand and in real-time. Satellites in lower orbits typically include those used for climate observations and disaster relief efforts, as well as a host of other applications. Traditionally, these satellites have had to wait until they came back into range of a ground station before being able to receive tasking information and transmit telemetry and valuable collected data. The new data link should reduce waiting times for such data transfers from several hours to a handful of minutes. This can enhance life-saving efforts in a natural disaster or enable observers to spot issues and direct resources to tackle them before they develop or get out of hand.
The new on-demand IDRS service was successfully commissioned on Capella Space’s Sequoia satellite at 10:14am PST on November 12, 2020. The Capella satellite, situated in LEO, communicated with Inmarsat’s I-4 satellite network, which operates at the L-band spectrum and sits in a high Earth, geostationary orbit. Capella Space is a market leader by being the first LEO satellite operator to leverage this enhanced functionality to offer an unprecedented level of responsiveness to its customers.
While instantaneous connectivity on the ground is commonplace, LEO satellite operators have traditionally suffered from high latency in making contact with their satellites, due to geographic sparsity of the required ground stations. This new system, consisting of the Addvalue on-board terminal and the Inmarsat data relay service, achieves a world first by allowing persistent, on-demand transfer of data, creating a new paradigm for smallsat LEO operations.
The benefits of Addvalue and Inmarsat’s solution go beyond the speed at which subscribers receive their data and images. Satellite operators also gain significant operational efficiencies by being able to stay in constant contact and control of their constellation. This is especially pertinent in the fast growing new space industry of large satellite constellations when real time control and coordination of multiple satellites can effortlessly and simultaneously be accomplished through the use of IDRS. This stands in contrast to current practice with its demanding need to coordinate and precisely time communications with multiple ground station operators.
“We’re proud to team-up with Inmarsat and Addvalue to deliver an entirely new level of efficiency and functionality to our customers,” said Christian Lenz, Vice President of Engineering at Capella Space. “This real-time connectivity will allow us to significantly reduce the time between customer tasking requests and when we collect the data on-orbit.”
Todd McDonell, President, Inmarsat Global Government, commented, “In-orbit connectivity represents an exciting new growth market for both Inmarsat and Addvalue. This LEO smallsat market is growing at an exponential rate. What is critical to LEO operators such as Capella Space is the ability to offer timely services their customers now expect in a connected world. Inmarsat’s L-band satellite network is uniquely placed to facilitate seamless real-time communications that are designed for mobility and can be administered globally. We are delighted Capella Space has achieved the distinction of being the first LEO operator to offer this service to their customers.”
“We could not be more excited to watch Capella realize all of the operational efficiencies and flexibility that the IDRS solution provides a LEO satellite operator,” said Khai Pang Tan, CTO of Addvalue. “From operational service introduction of the Sequoia satellite to the compounding efficiencies that are expected with the addition of each satellite added to the Capella constellation, we are confident that the possibility of “always-on”, on-demand, 24/7 communication capability will create a new standard for LEO satellite operations.” (Source: Satnews)
23 Nov 20. USSF’s SMC Receives First M-Code Order For Military GPS From Germany. The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Production Corps achieved a major milestone on September 30 when the Global Positioning System (GPS) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) office received its first Military Code (M-Code) capable Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) order from Germany.
SMC is facilitating international access and availability of M-Code user equipment as directed by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to 58 authorized nations. Germany is expected to receive delivery of its first M-Code receiver in 2021. Additional foreign military sales of MGUE are being worked.
Currently, SMC is engaged with several nations in bi-lateral M-Code prototyping, demonstration, and lead platform planning efforts. Under a multilateral agreement, MGUE ground-based receivers are on schedule to be loaned to approved partners for early integration and test in national weapons systems.
M-Code is an upgrade to the currently available GPS signals that provides enhanced secure positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) performance, anti-jam, and anti-spoofing to provide a more resilient PNT solution. It will improve interoperability with our defense partners’ equipment and operations while increasing navigation warfare effectiveness for allied operations. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.