Sponsored By Viasat
09 Feb 21. Viasat Awarded Contract to Upgrade the UK Ministry of Defence’s Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communications Network Control Stations. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today that Airbus has awarded Viasat’s UK entity an $8.5m (GBP 6.7m) contract to upgrade the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) Network Control Stations (NCS), delivering the UHF Skynet capability to the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). This upgrade will leverage Viasat’s Visual Integrated Satellite communications Information, Operation and Networking (VISION) software platform, enabling the MOD to comply with the latest Integrated Waveform (IW) requirements, known as IW Phase 2.
Airbus contracted this upgrade with Viasat to further enhance the UK Armed Forces’ mission situational awareness and operational insights; provide greater communications interoperability and scalability to more users on the battlefield; and ensure increased flexibility across legacy and next-generation NCS platforms. Airbus has been using Viasat’s UHF SATCOM technology since 2012, within the Skynet satellite network, which currently benefits UK MOD and coalition forces, including NATO and Five Eye (FVEY) nations.
“The UHF upgrade, incorporating our VISION software, is key to providing increased mission effectiveness by rapidly expanding the Skynet capability to UK MOD and allied forces,” said Steve Beeching, managing director, Viasat UK. “With VISION, the network operators will gain more assured, reliable, real-time communications capabilities to reconfigure UHF satellite networks to meet new tactical profiles—as battlefield and warfighter requirements dynamically expand and contract.”
The use of VISION in the IW Phase 2 upgrade, will provide network operators more control of the UHF network, and warfighters with a more resilient communications service. The VISION platform supports IW Phase 2 pre-planned demand-assigned and ad-hoc service types, which will allow the UK Armed Forces to considerably increase its channel efficiency to meet end-user requirements without additional investment in the UHF space segment. This optimization is expected to significantly increase the number of users on the network, giving more operational personnel access to reliable, high-quality, resilient voice and data communications. It will also enable future forward-deployable capabilities and future possibility for Demand-Assigned Multiple-Access (DAMA) expansion, which is expected to bring the IW service to all satellites in the current and planned UK portfolio.
Beeching continued, “This is an important contract for Viasat UK, as it is part of our continued growth and prosperity plan in the UK. Viasat’s proven VISION technology platform will now be leveraged to support IW Phase 2, which will enable our troops in the UK to communicate more efficiently and cost-effectively across the globe.”
08 Feb 21. British military’s space campaign picks up steam with ‘Skynet’ upgrade. Viasat is upgrading Skynet satellite communications capabilities to enable the British military to comply with the latest integrated waveform requirement known as IW Phase 2, the company said on Feb. 8.
The deal was signed in the second quarter of 2020 but the UK arm of the Carlsbad, California-based communications company has only now been able to announce that it is undertaking the upgrade to ultra-high-frequency satellite communications network control stations in the Skynet system.
The upgrade is one in a spate of military-related space announcements in the last few days, which have seen the Ministry of Defence name its first Space Command boss and Lockheed Martin tie up with a rocket supplier for its first vertical launch from a UK spaceport.
The satellite communications contract was awarded by Airbus Defence and Space, the current private finance initiative operator of the Skynet satellites and associated ground control stations.
Airbus operates a clutch of Skynet 4 and 5 satellites and is building another spacecraft known as Skynet 6A.
The Airbus deal to operate Skynet nears its end, and the winner of a competition to operate the ground control stations beyond 2022 is expected soon.
Viasat is supplying its visual integrated satellite communications information, operation and networking software platform, known as Vision, to meet the IW Phase2 requirement.
Britain and its allies are in the process of switching to the new integrated waveform software in order to retain interoperability with U.S. military upgrades.
Last August, Viasat announced it had successfully used Vision in the upgrade of NATO satellite control stations to comply with the new requirement.
Viasat is not a newcomer to Skynet’s supply chain. Airbus has been using earlier versions of the company’s integrated waveform technology in the system since 2012.
Officials hope the upgrade will enhance mission situation awareness and operational insights on the communication system.
Steve Beeching, Viasat UK’s managing director said the upgrade is key to expanding Skynet capabilities.
“With Vision, the network operators will gain more assured, reliable, real-time communications capabilities to reconfigure UHF satellite networks to meet new tactical profiles—as battlefield and warfighter requirements dynamically expand and contract,” Beeching said.
The improved capabilities come at a time of increasing focus on military space by the British. Last year the British government acquired a stake in failed satellite constellation operator OneWeb as part of a deal to revive the operation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaled space as a sector to watch when he announced in a speech last November that the government was intending to raise defense spending by an extra £16.5bn, or $23n, over four years.
In total the British say they are going to raise spending in the defense sector by £24.1bn over the period.
Space budgets are likely to be a major beneficiary, although details will likely have to await publication of a government integrated review of defense, security, foreign policy and overseas develop policy targeted for the spring.
A defense white paper about defense equipment plans is expected immediately following the review.
Conventional weapon programs are expected to be victims of cuts to make room for investments in space, cyber and other new technologies.
Defense space activities continue to progress here even without spending plan details being public.
Last week the MoD named Air Commodore Paul Godfrey as the first commander of the new UK Space Command.
Godfrey, soon to be promoted to Air Vice-Marshal, is no stranger to the U.S. military. His previous position saw him responsible for the planning and employment of coalition air and space power across the Middle East within the U.S. Air Force Combined Air and Space Operations Center.
Based at RAF High Wycombe, Space Command will be a joint command, staffed from all three arms of the military, the civil service and industry. It brings together under a single two-star military commander: space operations, space workforce generation and space capabilities.
Some of those capabilities may be enhanced by an announcement Feb. 8 that Lockheed Martin UK has contracted ABL Space Systems to launch a rocket from the Shetland Space Centre being created on Britain’s most northerly island.
ABL’s new RS1 rocket is set to become the first ever vehicle to vertically launch small satellites from the UK.
If the Lockheed Martin-led work, known as the UK Pathfinder Launch program, goes to plan, lift-off of the rocket from the Shetland island of Unst is set for next year.
Once the RS1 is in orbit the rocket will release a small launch orbital maneuvering tug built by Reading, southern England-based Moog.
The tug can deploy up to six miniaturized cube satellites. Two of the cubesats deployed will be Lockheed Martin’s own technology demonstration spacecraft.
The RS1 is currently in the final stages of development and a maiden launch is planned for the second quarter of this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 21. One small step towards spaceflight in the UK as government publishes environmental guidance. Government launches consultation into the environmental The first-ever launch into space from British soil is now one step closer, with the government today (10 February 2021) publishing its environmental guidance for the spaceflight regulator.
A newly established consultation will also set out how the regulator, which will oversee all launch and space activity from the UK, should meet environmental objectives – helping ensure space travel fits into a modern, greener Britain.
The consultation, which will last for 6 weeks, forms part of the Space Industry Act 2018 and will pave the way for a range of commercial spaceflight and scientific endeavours to operate within the UK in the future.
As part of the government’s push to net-zero, access to space and the use of space-based technology will provide many environmental benefits. It will allow us to:
- observe weather patterns
- monitor climate change
- manage natural resources
- monitor harmful activities such as illegal deforestation, fishing and animal poaching
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:
The small steps taken today show that we are committed to growing the UK space sector, cementing our role on a global scale by unlocking a new era in spaceflight for the country.
We want to capitalise on the opportunities commercial spaceflight can bring, which will feed into our national space strategy and the government’s agenda to build back better, all while improving our understanding of climate change and our world-leading efforts to tackle it.
The UK space sector has established technical expertise that already makes a significant contribution to global efforts to monitor and understand the Earth’s environment. By bringing spaceflight to UK soil, this expertise can be put to further good use, while benefitting the economy and jobs market.
The Space Industry Act requires applicants for a spaceport or launch operator licence to submit an assessment of environmental effects as part of their application – this will form part of any decision making when it comes to licence applications and conditions.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said, “Soon we will be launching small satellites into orbit from British soil, creating new jobs and economic opportunities for communities across the UK. Like all businesses large and small, our space industry has a responsibility to make sure they play their part in tackling climate change as we get closer to making our spaceflight dreams a reality. The steps taken today will help protect our planet for generations to come while also enabling us to seize the economic opportunities of becoming a greener space-faring economy as we build back better from the pandemic.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
12 Feb 21. Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed a key milestone in the manufacturing of the first Eurostar Neo satellite, with the successful integration of the Service and Communication Modules of EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F.
Airbus’ Portsmouth team delivered the EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F Communications Module to Toulouse at the start of January 2021 where it joined the Stevenage and Toulouse produced Service Module. The EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F satellite is now beginning its final series of tests in preparation for its launch.
With the new Eurostar Neo platform, the payload capacity can be greatly increased, with the Communication Module able to accommodate up to 2 tons of payload and provide payload power of more than 25kW. EUTELSAT HOTBIRD 13F and 13G will both have spacecraft power of 22 kW and a launch mass of only 4,500 kg.
François Gaullier, Head of Telecom Systems at Airbus Space Systems said: “This is an important milestone for our new generation Eurostar Neo programme, and is all the more remarkable having been achieved despite the Covid pandemic. With increased payload capacity and more efficient power and thermal control systems Eurostar Neo combines major innovations with tried-and-tested technologies, resulting in a product line that will be as reliable as ever while delivering the best performance in the market.”
Airbus’ Eurostar Neo platform has been developed in the frame of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Partnership Projects, together with the French space agency CNES, and strongly supported by the UK Space Agency and other agencies across Europe.
11 Feb 21. HawkEye 360 Introduces the Mission Space Platform for Analysis of Radio Frequency Geospatial Intelligence. Mission Space helps analysts quickly exploit RF geospatial intelligence. HawkEye 360 Inc., the first commercial company to use formation-flying satellites to create a new class of radio frequency (RF) data and analytics, today launched Mission Space, the first commercial platform purpose-built to facilitate the analysis of RF geospatial intelligence.
Mission Space brings HawkEye 360 RF data and analytics together to create an intuitive experience. Through visualizing a holistic picture of worldwide RF activity, Mission Space bridges the interpretation gap between the collection and analysis of RF data.
“Mission Space transforms the world of RF geospatial intelligence,” said Tim Pavlick, Vice President of Product, HawkEye 360. “We want any analyst to be able to discover new mission insights with our unique analytics. Before today, only highly trained experts could access and interpret RF data. With Mission Space, we democratize RF geospatial intelligence, and leverage automation to enable a larger community to understand and exploit insights derived from RF signals. Mission Space is the flagship of our growing product portfolio.”
Mission Space automates the ingestion and visualization of RF signal data and analytics, allowing analysts to intuitively manipulate and explore available information within one frame of view. Analysts can see trends and patterns and in-depth detail about RF signals, all while maintaining a summary of RF activity for context.
“Mission Space is a breakthrough for commercial RF mapping and is unrivaled in the commercial sector,” said Alex Fox, Executive Vice President, HawkEye 360. “The platform will empower our customers to efficiently extract immense value from our RF signal subscription services. It will accelerate user adoption of commercial RF analytics across the global defense, intelligence, commercial and humanitarian sectors.”
Mission Space leverages HawkEye 360’s proprietary algorithms to automatically identify and characterize specific behaviors tied to RF signal data. Mission Space also merges contextual maritime information to specific RF geolocations to include a vessel’s identity, history, past sanction violations, and identified behavior, significantly enhancing situational awareness.
With Mission Space, analysts can automate routine functions, such as identifying RF activity in designated areas of interest or vessel behavior patterns. By automating these workflows, analysts can identify critical insights and gather actionable intelligence more quickly to keep pace with evolving events.
For more information about Mission Space, visit https://www.he360.com/products/mission-space/
About HawkEye 360
HawkEye 360 is delivering a revolutionary source of global knowledge based on radio frequency (RF) geospatial intelligence to those working to make the world a safer place. The company operates the first-of-its-kind commercial satellite constellation to detect, characterize, and geolocate a broad range of RF signals. This unique RF data and analytics equip our global customers with high-impact insights needed to make decisions with confidence. HawkEye 360 is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. (Source: PR Newswire)
11 Feb 21. SDA to launch several demonstration satellites in 2021. The Space Development Agency plans to launch several demonstration satellites this year, ahead of the launch of its National Defense Space Architecture in 2022.
“We have a few demos planned in 2021,” said SDA Director Derek Tournear during a detailed presentation Feb. 11 at the virtual SmallSat.
SDA was established in 2019 to take a new approach to building satellite constellations, with a focus on smaller satellites operating in low Earth orbit (LEO). Unlike most U.S. Space Force constellations that consist of a handful of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), the NDSA will be made up of hundreds of satellites operating in LEO. The new constellation will be made up of multiple layers providing various capabilities, from tracking hypersonic weapons to providing beyond-line-of-sight targeting.
The agency is slated to begin launching its satellites in 2022, but first it plans to launch several demonstration satellites that will help pave the way for various technologies.
The first two projects to launch will be Mandrake II and LINCS, both of which will demonstrate optical intersatellite crosslinks to help satellites talk to each other easily.
Optical crosslinks will be a key enabling technology for the NDSA, where they will be used to create a mesh network with the agency’s transport layer satellites, the first of which are being built by Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems. That mesh network will be able to move data rapidly between satellites to facilitate on-orbit processing and, ultimately, connect sensor data collected by any satellite to a war fighter on the ground in seconds.
Mandrake II, consisting of two small satellites, will demonstrate optical crosslinks between the two, as well as to the ground and to airborne systems, explained Tournear.
Mandrake II was supposed to launch on the first mission of SpaceX’s new rideshare program, Transporter-1, which took 143 satellites into orbit in Jan.
“This was a joint mission between DARPA, AFRL and SDA to build these two satellites,” said Tournear. “Unfortunately, there was a mishap in payload processing down at the Cape, so they were not two of the 143 that were launched as part of Transporter-1. But the good news is, while they were damaged in payload processing, we will be able to repair them, and we will be able to launch them on Transporter-2.”
That second transport is expected to launch in June.
Mandrake II is one of the risk reduction satellites for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Blackjack program, intended to demonstrate the military benefit of a proliferated constellation in low Earth orbit. Tournear said DARPA will launch its first two Blackjack satellites later this year.
“They’ve got several different concepts,” he said of Blackjack. “They’re going to fly two satellites later this year, and then they’re going to culminate with more than that — somewhere on the order of dozens … up to 18 in 2022/2023 timeframe as the full DARPA Blackjack program.”
While Blackjack is closely related to the SDA’s own constellation — and SDA is partnering on some Blackjack technologies, like Mandrake II — the two are not directly connected.
Another optical crosslink demonstration is LINCS, which is being built by General Atomics. SDA awarded the company $5.5m for that effort. Like Mandrake, LINCS will involve two satellites communicating via the crosslinks on orbit. It will also launch on SpaceX’s Transporter-2.
A slightly different demonstration is the Prototype Infrared Payload, or PIRPL.
“PIRPL is a joint SDA/MDA program,” said Tournear. “The performer is Northrop Grumman. And that is to fly medium-field-of-view, multispectral imager for OPIR to be able to demonstrate the feasibility and use that for some of our models.”
SDA awarded Northrop Grumman $13.8m in June for the prototype. PIRPL will be carried to orbit on the company’s Cygnus NG-16 spacecraft during its Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station. That launch is slated for July.
SDA is also working with the Air Force Research Laboratory on the XVI program. “That is primarily an AFRL program,” said Tournear. “That would demonstrate that you could go from space to a Link 16 tactical data link network.”
SDA wants to use Link 16, the most common tactical data link used by U.S. war fighters, to push its sensor data to weapon systems and war fighters. Six of its first transport layer satellites will have Link 16 terminals built in.
AFRL awarded Viasat $10m through the Space Enterprise Consortium in 2019 to build a Link 16-capable spacecraft. It will operate in low Earth orbit, expanding the Link 16 network beyond-line-of-sight. The payload will be incorporated into a Blue Canyon Technologies bus with an antenna array provided by Roccor.
While Viasat initially anticipated a launch in summer 2020, the company noted in August that the payload will be delivered to the Space Force this spring for a launch in the fall. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 21. Viasat, Gazprom Space Systems, TMC Sign Strategic MOU Establishing a Multi-Year Roadmap of Cooperation to Bring In-Flight Connectivity Services to Russia.
Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, Russian satellite operator Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) and Russian telecom operator TMC LLC (TMC) today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that aims to advance in-flight connectivity (IFC) for airlines flying into and over Russia.
Russia is a key region for in-flight communications, comprised of 11 time zones, and providing, among other things, the shortest flight routes between North America and Asia, as well as between Europe and Asia. Per the MOU, the three companies will work in partnership to provide Russian and international airlines IFC service when flying into and over Russian Federation airspace. This cooperation is expected to offer Viasat’s global airline customers roaming connectivity when flying over Russia; providing IFC services on domestic flights within Russia; and enabling Russian and international airlines access to roam onto the Viasat global satellite network when outside of Russian airspace.
The MOU establishes an initial roaming agreement between current Viasat and GSS satellites, with Viasat operating in Russia leveraging TMC’s telecom license. The partnership commenced with Viasat procuring access to Ku-band capacity on the GSS satellite, Yamal-401, while creating a path for Viasat and GSS to leverage capabilities on future satellite constellations.
Keven Lippert, chief commercial officer at Viasat, commented, “Our MOU with GSS and TMC is an important next step in establishing a global IFC roaming alliance that will ensure airlines have access to uninterrupted, feature-rich IFC services when flying into and over Russia. We look forward to achieving strong synergies across satellite platforms in order to advance the global IFC market.”
Dmitry Sevastiyanov, general director at GSS, added, “The MOU execution is a testament that GSS’ orbital and ground assets will be an important part of the growing global satellite-based aviation services market. We are excited to cooperate with Viasat, an established company in the satellite-based mobility sector, and leverage the local telecom operations experience that TMC brings—as it opens up new long-term opportunities for GSS to expand satellite capacity across new mobile applications and markets.”
Alexey Bulkin, general director at TMC, noted, “We expect the MOU between Viasat, GSS and TMC will greatly contribute to the integration of the Russian air transportation industry into the united global aviation market. We believe the timing couldn’t be better given Russia’s increased development and production in civil aircraft for both domestic and international markets; the ongoing digital transformation of the economy; and the increased global interest in high-speed, high-quality IFC for domestic flights and international overflights over Russia.”
Each company will maintain its own intellectual property and will operate its equipment using a secure, multi-layered approach to network services. This non-binding MOU initially covers IFC services, but could extend into other mobility or emerging markets within Russia.
Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. For more than 30 years, Viasat has helped shape how consumers, businesses and governments around the world communicate. Today, the Company is developing the ultimate global communications network to power high-quality, secure, affordable, fast connections to impact people’s lives anywhere they are—on the ground, in the air or at sea. To learn more about Viasat, visit: www.viasat.com, go to Viasat’s Corporate Blog, or follow the Company on social media at: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube.
About Gazprom Space Systems
Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) is a Russian satellite operator providing capacity in Russia and CIS, Europe, Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Pacific Ocean. GSS has developed and operates the Yamal satellite communication system and provides telecommunication and geo-information services. The Yamal satellite communication system includes: orbital satellite constellation: Yamal-202, Yamal-300K (183°E), Yamal-402 (55°E), Yamal-401 (90°E) and Yamal-601 (49°E). It has a ground control complex and telecommunication center with networks operating across Russian regions.
TMC is a Russian limited liability company, which includes persons with extensive experience in the field of telecommunications and satellite engineering in the Russian Federation. TMC is the holder of all necessary licenses and approvals to operate Ku-band data transmission and telematic communication services utilizing the GSS Yamal-401 satellite, soon extending to Ka-band on GSS Yamal-601 and beyond. TMC is a fully-licensed Russian Network Operator in compliance with the required Russian regulatory framework. (Source: PR Newswire)
09 Feb 21. Iridium Adds Kyoritsu Radio as Iridium Certus® Service Provider with Distribution Support from Furuno .
Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) today announced the addition of Kyoritsu Radio Service Co., Ltd as an Iridium Certus® service provider. Through this agreement, Kyoritsu Radio will also support the provisioning of Iridium Certus service by Furuno Electric Co., Ltd, expanding their portfolio of Iridium® satellite communication services. The Iridium Certus service is ideal for cargo ships, tankers, fishing vessels, workboats, and other watercraft as a primary or VSAT companion satellite communications solution. Operating on the Iridium network, it features truly global coverage and offers the fastest L-band speeds in the industry.
Kyoritsu Radio Service is a leading provider of satellite communications services and has been an Iridium partner since 2016. Furuno, a global leader of maritime navigation and communications equipment, has been an Iridium partner since 2015. As a subsidiary of Furuno, Kyoritsu will now expand its Iridium portfolio of offerings by marketing Iridium Certus services with Furuno’s support and global sales network.
“Adding Iridium Certus services to our portfolio will give the Japanese maritime industry and our customers globally a superior choice for connectivity at sea in terms of L-band speed and coverage,” says Yuzuru Takayama, President, Kyoritsu Radio Service. “Iridium products and services continue to provide reliable connectivity for our customers in all the world’s oceans.”
“Furuno has been a strategic partner of Iridium for several years, and we are excited to add the Iridium Certus service to our portfolio of offerings for our maritime customers,” says Muneyuki Koike, Senior Managing Director, Furuno Electric. “We strive to offer the highest quality technology to our customers at all times, and the Iridium Certus service enables a new generation of L-band communications that provides industry leading incomparable coverage and speeds. We are proud to offer this service.”
Kyoritsu and Furuno will jointly pursue Iridium Certus adoption in various maritime sectors including commercial shipping, fishing, leisure, and government. Delivered through small form factor, cost-effective antennas and terminals, Iridium Certus has seen growing adoption by the maritime industry with thousands of terminals in service today.
“Since its inception, Iridium Certus has been setting a new standard for L-band connectivity at sea,” says Bryan Hartin, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Iridium. “We are excited that our partners Furuno and Kyoritsu are expanding their Iridium offerings and will enable more ships to navigate safely and stay connected no matter where they sail.”
Unique to the satellite industry, Iridium Certus is the only broadband service that provides truly global, weather-resilient coverage for on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access. As an L-band network, Iridium is also uniquely positioned to provide safety services, including those for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), which launched on Iridium in December 2020. (Source: PR Newswire)
08 Feb 21. Viasat Demonstrates Major Advancement in Beyond Line of Sight Satellite Connectivity to a U.S. Army Rotary-Wing Helicopter. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced it successfully demonstrated through-the-blades Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) Ka-band satellite communications (SATCOM) connectivity to a U.S. Army UH-60M rotary-wing helicopter. The demonstration highlighted Viasat’s ability to deliver resilient command and control (C2) communications, feature-rich situational awareness (SA) and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) feeds – disseminating C2/SA from a simulated Tactical Operations Center to the UH-60M aircraft and down to dismounted soldiers.
Today, rotary-wing platforms are equipped with slow, low data-rate satellite communications systems that severely limit mission effects. However, earlier this quarter, Viasat delivered high-speed, high-quality broadband communications to a rotary-wing platform—through the turning rotors—with consistent, error-free, usable throughput far exceeding any other vendor’s capabilities. Having the ability to operate broadband communications-on-the-move could dynamically transform the role of the multi-mission UH-60M helicopter, enabling it to provide en-route mission command, telemedicine for MEDEVAC and other critical warfighting functions across the battlespace.
The Viasat system proved it could meet the Army’s quest to enhance its aging airborne C2 system. Viasat used BLOS Ka-band SATCOM service coupled with its Ka-band airborne terminal to facilitate U.S. Army Battle Command Systems to send and receive bandwidth-intensive, full-motion high-definition (HD) video; conduct high-quality, real-time video teleconferencing; exchange information on the WinTak application for precision targeting; and other advanced connectivity-based capabilities through the rotors of a UH-60M helicopter.
Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat commented, “For years we have demonstrated our strong capabilities of providing enhanced SA and sensor-driven capabilities to fixed-wing and unmanned aircraft system platforms. Now we have proven we can transform rotary-wing platform communications and enable game-changing connectivity needed to make timely decisions, shorten the kill chain and reduce fratricide. U.S. Army commanders can now receive and disseminate their intent to subordinate units, on the move, as well as receive timely intelligence with HD video feeds.”
10 Feb 21. Funding to accelerate Aus-built Binar CubeSat launches. Curtin University’s space program is set to launch five CubeSats this year after receiving an investment boost from the WA government.
Curtin University’s Binar Space Program is expected to launch five Australian-built CubeSats in late 2021, after a $500,000 investment from the WA government.
Curtin’s Space Science and Technology Centre plans to launch the satellite into low-Earth orbit, where it is expected to serve as an accessible sovereign platform, enabling easy access to space for students, researchers and industry.
The satellite has a number of capabilities, including remote sensing, imaging, communications and defence.
According to the WA government, the CubeSat would also represent a lower barrier of entry for start-ups to develop and test their technology in space.
Specifically, the funding will be used by Curtin University to employ two senior engineers to support and de-risk the scheduled launches in 2021 and 2022, and will support the delivery of a dedicated Binar CubeSat STEM and outreach program.
“This new funding will support Curtin University’s mission to launch five Binar CubeSats to space, and cement WA’s position as the nation’s leader in the development and operation of CubeSats in space,” Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly, said.
“The McGowan government has ensured STEM outreach as part of the funding to provide WA schools the opportunity to be involved in the program, and inspire the next generation of students to pursue a career in the space industry.
“The Binar CubeSat technology is set to become Australia’s most validated spacecraft, boosting WA’s burgeoning space industry.” (Source: Space Connect)
09 Feb 21. Turkey aims to reach moon in 2023, Erdogan says. Turkey aims to achieve first contact with the moon as part of its national space programme in 2023, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
“The first rough landing will be made on the moon with our national and authentic hybrid rocket that shall be launched into orbit in the end of 2023 through international cooperation,” Erdogan said, detailing a two-phase mission.
Erdogan did not elaborate further on the cooperation. Last month, Erdogan spoke to Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk on possible cooperation in space technologies with Turkish companies.
Speaking in an event in Ankara, Erdogan announced a programme with 10 strategic goals including sending a Turkish citizen to a scientific mission in space.
Last month, Turkey launched its Turksat 5A satellite into orbit from the United States in cooperation with SpaceX. Turksat 5B satellite is planned to be launched in second quarter of 2021.
Turkey aims to reach strategic space goals in 10 years, Erdogan also said, adding that the country will improve work on satellite technologies and establish a space port with other ally countries.
Turkey previously launched reconnaissance and communication satellites set up a satellite systems integration and test center and manufactured a domestic HD satellite called IMECE which is expected to be launched in 2022.
“Our feet will be on earth but our eyes will be in space. Our roots will be on earth, our branches will be up in the sky,” Erdogan said. (Source: Reuters)
09 Feb 21. Telesat taps Thales Alenia Space for $3bn deal to build low earth orbit satellites. Canadian satellite company Telesat on Tuesday tapped Thales Alenia Space to build 300 low earth orbit (LEO) telecommunications satellites in a contract worth about $3bn, saying the first launch would be in about two years. LEO satellites operate 36 times closer to the earth than traditional ones so they take less time to send and receive information, leading to better and faster broadband service even in remote areas.
“We are extremely bullish on the opportunity to get into the market and capture the really surging demand for global broadband connectivity,” Telesat President and Chief Executive Dan Goldberg said in an interview.
“We’re going to start launching our first satellites in about two years time. We’ll be in service in the higher latitudes in late 2023, and then we’ll have full global service in 2024,” Goldberg said.
Thales Alenia Space (TAS) is going to build the first 13 satellites at its facility in Toulouse, Hervé Derrey, TAS president and CEO, said in an interview. TAS is a joint venture between Italy’s Leonardo and France’s Thales. Immediately after the announcement, Leonardo shares rose 1.7% and Thales gained 1.4%.
Telesat’s satellites will create a “revolutionary new constellation program that will really outperform all existing and conceived programs,” Derrey said.
Telesat is moving into the competitive new realm of LEO networks with the aim to service so-called enterprise customers who include mobile operators, governments, aircraft and shipping companies.
“This is not a consumer broadband play,” Goldberg said.
Most of the LEO competition – which includes Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its Starlink constellation and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and its Project Kuiper – is focused on the consumer market.
Financing will be finalized in the “coming months”, Goldberg said, adding that about $2bn will be in equity and $3bn in debt for the total $5bn project.
The privately-held Telesat, owned by Canada’s Public Sector
Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc, will become a public entity on the Nasdaq as planned at about mid-year, Goldberg said.
“We could issue equity that would be used to support the financing around this LEO project,” Goldberg said of the Nasdaq listing.
A further domestic listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange “would make a lot of sense”, he added without providing details. (Source: Reuters)
09 Feb 21. Pentagon science office launches program to develop manufacturing in space and on the moon. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is launching the Novel Orbital and Moon Manufacturing, Materials and Mass-efficient Design program, or NOM4D, to develop new materials and processes that could enable manufacturing in space and on the moon’s surface. DARPA’s emerging technology research arm will invest in new materials and processes that could enable manufacturing in space and on the moon’s surface. To that end, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is launching the Novel Orbital and Moon Manufacturing, Materials and Mass-efficient Design program, or NOM4D.
“NOM4D’s vision is to develop foundational materials, processes and designs needed to realize in-space manufacturing of large, precise and resilient Defense Department systems,” said Bill Carter, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, in a press release.
DARPA is launching the program in response to the natural limitations of rocket launches in placing larger structures and systems in orbit, the agency said. While the launch industry has expanded significantly in recent years, with dozens of new providers entering the fray, rocket launches are inherently limited — even the largest rockets have weight and volume restrictions. The solution? Place smaller pieces of a structure on orbit with multiple launches, and then assemble them in space. Or better yet, collect materials from the moon to build with.
“We will explore the unique advantages afforded by on-orbit manufacturing using advanced materials ferried from Earth,” Carter said. “Large structures such as antennas and solar panels can be substantially more weight efficient, and potentially much more precise. We will also explore the unique features of in-situ resources obtained from the moon’s surface as they apply to future defense missions.”
Manufacturing in space could also enable more flexibility in the design of space systems. Today, most satellites are designed to be as compact as possible in order to be integrated with and launched on rockets. But by assembling systems in space, systems could be designed without some of those volume restrictions, allowing them to be more mass efficient.
“We’re looking for proposers to come up with system designs that are so mass efficient that they can only be built off-earth, and with features that enable them to withstand maneuvers, eclipses, damage and thermal cycles typical of space and lunar environments,” Carter said. “Given the constraints of ground test, launch and deployment, the traditional approach to designing space structures is not likely to result in dramatic improvements in mass efficiency. In order to take the next step, we’ve got to go about materials, manufacturing and design in a completely new way.”
The idea of assembling systems and structures in space isn’t new. Famously, the International Space System was assembled in space using a number of components individually launched into space.
“People have been thinking about on-orbit manufacturing for some time, so we expect to demonstrate new materials and manufacturing technologies by the program’s end,” Carter added.
With NOM4D, DARPA will work with participants over three 18-month phases to develop precise, mass efficient structures that could be used for on-orbit construction. Each phase will focus on one of three applications: large solar arrays, large radio frequency reflector antennas, and segmented infrared reflective optics.
The agency will host a proposers day webinar on Feb. 26 and expects to release a broad agency announcement solicitation in February. (Source: Defense News)
08 Feb 21. An unleashed Jeff Bezos will seek to shift space venture Blue Origin into hyperdrive. Freed from his daily obligations at Amazon.com Inc, Jeff Bezos is expected to turn up the heat on his space venture, Blue Origin, as it faces a pivotal year and fierce competition from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, industry sources said.
The 57-year-old Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast and the world’s second-richest person behind Musk, said last week he is stepping down as chief executive of the e-commerce company as he looks to focus on personal projects.
Blue Origin has fallen far behind SpaceX on orbital transportation, and lost out to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) on billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. national security launch contracts which begin in 2022. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Now, Blue Origin is battling to win a competition with SpaceX and Dynetics to develop a new lunar lander for NASA’s potentially multibillion-dollar push to return humans to the moon in a few years. Dynetics is owned by Leidos Holdings Inc.
Winning the lunar lander contract – and executing its development – are seen by Bezos and other executives as vital to Blue Origin establishing itself as a desired partner for NASA, and also putting Blue on the road to turning a profit, the people said.
With limited revenue streams, Bezos has been liquidating about $1bn of Amazon stock annually to fund Blue, which he said in 2018 was “the most important work that I’m doing.”
A Blue Origin representative declined to comment, but pointed to comments Bezos made last week when he said he was stepping down as Amazon’s chief executive.
He told Amazon employees he would “stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives” but also devote time to Blue Origin and various philanthropic and media “passions.”
NASA is expected to winnow the lunar lander contest to just two companies by the end of April, adding pressure as Blue Origin works through problems such as wasting millions of dollars on procurement, and technical and production challenges, the sources said. One of the development struggles Blue has faced is getting the lander light and small enough to fit on a commercially available rocket, two people briefed on the development said.
Another source, however, said Blue has modified its design since it was awarded the initial contract last April and that its current design fits on an additional number of available and forthcoming rockets, including Musk’s Falcon Heavy and ULA’s Vulcan.
“He is going to kick Blue Origin into a higher gear,” said one senior industry source with knowledge of Blue’s operations.
Bezos already has transplanted Amazon’s culture on Blue, down to enforcing similar “leadership principles” and kicking off meetings by reading documents in silence, sources say.
But one industry veteran said Bezos needs to take a hands-on, operational role if he is going to fix a number of problems like bureaucratic processes, missed deadlines, high overhead and engineer turnover which, according to this source, have emerged as Blue Origin seeks to transition from development to production across multiple programs.
One person familiar with the matter said that Bezos has no desire to immerse himself completely in daily operations, and instead would prioritize major initiatives and new endeavors.
In his latest Instagram posts, Bezos is seen climbing into a crew capsule wearing cowboy boots, and sitting in his pickup truck watching a rocket engine test, which he described as a “perfect night!”
BEZOS VERSUS MUSK
Founded in 2000, Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, has expanded to around 3,500 employees, with sprawling manufacturing and launch facilities in Texas, Florida and Alabama.
Its ambitious portfolio includes selling suborbital tourist trips to space, heavy-lift launch services for satellites, and the lander – none of which is yet fully commercially viable.
Recent data shows Blue has overcome combustion stability problems on its BE-4 rocket engine – another business line, two sources said. Test engines for ULA’s inaugural Vulcan rocket are expected to arrive at Florida’s Cape Canaveral this week, with the first-flight engines and booster coming later this spring, one added.
By comparison, Musk’s SpaceX, founded two years after Blue Origin, has launched its Falcon 9 boosters more than 100 times, launched the world’s most powerful operational rocket – Falcon Heavy – three times, and transported astronauts to the International Space Station.
SpaceX said on Thursday it had 10,000 users on its nascent satellite-based broadband service, dubbed Starlink, which Musk says will provide crucial funding to develop his Starship rocket for missions to the moon and, eventually, Mars.
Blue is also hoping for a steady stream of revenue for its heavy-lift New Glenn rocket – potentially set for a debut late this year – from Amazon’s forthcoming constellation of some 3,200 satellites dubbed Project Kuiper, sources say.
Amazon aims to have half the constellation in orbit by 2026, but there is no public timeline for a first launch.
Until now, Bezos has devoted one day a week to Blue Origin, with conference room meetings replaced in recent months by video calls, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sources said. (Source: Reuters)
08 Feb 21. Sentinel-6 Passes In-orbit Tests With Flying Colours. In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.
The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is the first of two identical satellites to provide critical measurements of sea-level change. The satellite carries a new digital altimeter, Poseidon-4, that uses dedicated onboard processing to return even more precise measurements of the height of the sea surface.
In the satellite’s early days post-launch, the dedicated flight control team at ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, took meticulous care of the new Sentinel in what is known as the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP). Once completed, ESA’s mission control team handed over command and control of the satellite to Eumetsat – Europe’s weather and climate satellite organisation – who took over responsibility of commissioning, routine operations and distribution of the mission’s vital data.
On 27 January, ESA along with Sentinel-6’s key partners, including Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, Eumetsat, NASA, French Space Agency CNES and NOAA, completed the satellite’s ‘in-orbit verification phase’.
One of the tests performed included cross-calibrating the satellite’s altimeter data with measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 and Jason missions. These tests are completed at ESA’s Permanent Facility for Altimetry Calibration (PFAC) in Crete, Greece, where the use of transponders are used to receive and re-transmit radar pulses back to the satellite in space to verify its performance.
These measurements have been used to demonstrate that the altimeter measurements are performing to expectation.
Robert Cullen, Copernicus Sentinel-6 Payload and System Manager at ESA, said, “From our preliminary analyses, the altimeter significant wave height and range uncertainty are significantly better compared to the previous Sentinel-3 and Jason-3 missions.”
Luisella Giulicchi, Copernicus Sentinel-6 System Manager at ESA, responsible for coordinating the satellite’s in-orbit verification phase, added, “We found all satellite subsystems to be working in perfect order. The satellite’s newly-deployed GNSS Precise Orbit Determination receiver, which combines both GPS and Galileo constellations signals, shows an outstanding preliminary performance, along with the rest of the navigation systems on board the satellite.”
“Since 18 December, Sentinel-6 has been in its final orbit, trailing just 30 seconds behind Jason-3. This particular trailing formation is required for 12 months before Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will take over from Jason-3 as the operational reference mission.”
More about Copernicus Sentinel-6
Rising seas are top of the list of major concerns linked to climate change. Monitoring sea-surface height is critical to understanding the changes taking place so that decision-makers have the evidence to implement policies to help curb climate change and so that authorities can take action to protect vulnerable communities.
The first sea-surface height ‘reference’ measurements were supplied by the French–US Topex-Poseidon satellite, which was followed by three successive Jason missions. They show that since 1993 the global sea level has risen, on average, by just over 3 mm every year. Even more worryingly, over the last few years the global ocean has risen, on average, by 4.8mm a year. Copernicus Sentinel-6’s role is to continue this legacy of critical measurements. (Source: ASD Network)
08 Feb 21. Martin Group Collaborates with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Foundation to initiate World Record launch of 100 Femto Satellites.
APJ Abdul Kalam international foundation, Rameswaram along with Space Zone India and The Martin Group, conducted World Record Event of “Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam space research payload cubes challenge 2021”. For channelizing the students’ interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and to inculcate knowledge towards the same, all over India 1500 students studying in school from 6th to 12th standard and engineering colleges across the nation, would design and launch 100 Femto satellites through a single high altitude scientific balloon for the first time in the world. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri. Narendra Modi sent a congratulatory message applauding students and the organisers for achieving this world record.
The launch happened on the 7th of February 2021 at 10:30 AM at Rameswaram. All the Permissions and clearance have been taken from Govt authorities formally. Series of online lectures and a one-day hands on experience session held in different places across the nation for the students. Another highlight of the event was the participation of more than 800 Govt. school students across the nation sponsored by The Martin Group. Martin Group is an Indian conglomerate headed by lottery businessman Santiago Martin.
On the day of launch, 7th February, an elaborate event marked by eminent dignitaries addressed the gathering. Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan, Honorable Governor of Telangana and Hon’ble Chief Minister of Pondicherry. Shri. Narayanasamy was the Chief Guest and Padma Bhushan, Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai Former Chief Controller, R&D, DRDO, Founder CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, Dr. Leema Rose Martin, Managing Trustee Martin Charitable trust. Shri P. Kunhikrishnan Director U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) Centre, in Bengaluru, India, Padma Shri Prof. R.M. Vasagam Former Project Director “Apple India’s First GEO – Stationary Communication Satellite, Former VC Anna University & Dr. MGR University, Dr. Anand Megalingam, MS Founder and CEO, SpaceZone India, Thiru APJMJ Sheik Dawood Grand Nephew of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Thiru APJMJ Sheik Saleem Grand Nephew of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr. Satheesh Reddy Secretary Department of Defence R&D, Chairman, DRDO, Padma Shri Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai Former Director, ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Padma Shri Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai Former Director, ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Shri Rajarajan Director Sathish Dhawan Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. (Source: PR Newswire)
08 Feb 21. First UK Vertical Satellite Launch Moves Closer. Lockheed Martin Selects ABL Space Systems Rocket to Power First UK Vertical Satellite Launch. The UK’s first ever vertical satellite launch from British soil moved one step closer today with confirmation that a launch vehicle from ABL Space Systems will power the first satellite into space.
Lockheed Martin has contracted ABL Space Systems, of El Segundo, California, a developer of low-cost launch vehicles and launch systems for the small satellite industry, to supply a rocket and associated launch services for the company’s first UK vertical satellite launch.
The project known as UK Pathfinder Launch is planned to be the first ever vertical small satellite launch from UK soil, from Scotland in 2022. It will also be the first UK commercial launch for U.S.-based ABL Space Systems’ new RS1 rocket.
Nik Smith, Regional Director, Lockheed Martin Space, said: “The world class capability that ABL Space Systems brings will allow us to build on our long-standing partnership with the UK and strengthen the growth of the UK’s space sector, aligned to the UK Government’s prosperity and industrial strategy.”
ABL Space Systems’ flexible, integrated GSO launch system, and RS1 rocket, allows for a rapid and cost-effective deployment with outstanding launch performance.
“ABL Space Systems is proud to partner with Lockheed Martin on the UK Pathfinder Launch Program,” said Harry O’Hanley, co-Founder and CEO of ABL Space Systems. “Our team was founded to deliver new launch capabilities, on-demand. We’re thrilled at the opportunity to bring our system to Shetland’s launch site and execute this ground-breaking mission with our partners.”
Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch supports the UK Space Agency’s commercial spaceflight programme – ‘Launch UK’. In October 2020, the UK Space Agency confirmed Lockheed Martin’s plans to move its programme to the Shetland Space Centre and last month, planning proposals were submitted for the space launch facility in Unst.
Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency said: “We want the UK to be the first in Europe to launch small satellites into orbit, attracting innovative businesses from all over the world, accelerating the development of new technologies and creating hundreds of high-skilled jobs across the whole of the UK. Lockheed Martin’s selection of ABL Space Systems for their UK Pathfinder launch brings us one step closer to realising this ambition – putting the UK firmly on the map as Europe’s leading small satellite launch destination.
“In this challenging time, it’s more important than ever that we support technologies that will help create jobs and economic growth, enabling people and businesses across the country to benefit from the commercial opportunities offered by the UK’s growing space sector and the many firms throughout its supply chain.”
The addition of ABL Space Systems as a partner completes Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch programme team. On launch day, ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket will lift off from Shetland Space Centre, in Unst, Shetland, the UK’s most northerly island.
Once in orbit, the rocket will release a small launch orbital manoeuvring vehicle, an agile platform built by MOOG, in Reading, UK, which can carry and deploy up to six 6U CubeSats (miniaturized satellites for space research that are made up of multiple cubic modules) optimising orbital placement and timing for each small satellite’s mission.
Two of the CubeSats deployed will be Lockheed Martin’s own technology demonstration spacecraft.
05 Feb 21. NATO to found Space centre of excellence. NATO is to establish a centre of excellence in France, dedicated solely to the Space domain.
The French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced on 4 February that the alliance had accepted a French proposal to site a new centre in Toulouse.
“The ‘centre of excellence’ label is part of the Higher Education Pact implemented by the General Directorate of International Relations and Strategy. The goal [of this pact] is to regenerate and develop the pool of French researchers linked to defence,” the Ministry of the Armed Forces said.
No details pertaining to when the new Space centre would be established and who will staff it were disclosed.
In 2019, NATO declared space to be an operational domain alongside air, land, sea, and cyber. This allowed the alliance to improve efficiencies and synchronise efforts across multiple domains, as well as within the space domain. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); navigation and timing; weather; ballistic missile defence; and communication are among the core competencies of what NATO calls ‘Space Domain Awareness’. The alliance provides its commanders with Space Domain Awareness by drawing on data, products, and services made available through co-ordination with NATO member states.
News of the new Space centre of excellence in France comes some four months after NATO founded its Space Centre at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Housed within existing Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) facilities on the base, the centre is currently staffed with experts from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with plans to introduce additional nations and personnel over the coming year. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Feb 21. In year two, the Space Force is focused on international partnerships. If the first year of the U.S. Space Force’s existence was focused inwardly on organizing the new service, its second year will center on building relationships — not only with the other services, but with international partners.
“The first year we built the Space Force. This year we are focused on integrating that force. And one of the key folks that we integrate with is obviously our allied partners,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond during a Feb. 3 media call.
Recently returned from a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Raymond said the Space Force had elevated American leadership in space among global partners and allies.
While in Germany, Raymond visited U.S. space guardians serving there and met with NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Europe commander, Gen. Tod Wolters of U.S. European Command, and with Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa.
Raymond also went to the new Space Centre at NATO’s Allied Air Command headquarters in Ramstein. NATO has followed quickly on the United States’ heels in elevating the profile of space operations, declaring space an operational domain in November 2019.
“The last time I went to Europe was over a year ago, I think it was September-ish of 2019,” recalled Raymond. “We had just stood up U.S. Space Command, we were just about to stand up the Space Force, and I briefed the NATO military committee on space. And shortly thereafter — and not in response to my speech — but shortly thereafter, they declared space an operational domain.”
The new office will support NATO operations and increase space domain awareness among allies.
A major theme in conversations between the Space Force and international allies will be establishing norms of behavior in space.
“I always get asked, ‘What do you want your successors to have, technology-wise?’ I answer that question, ‘First, I want my successors to have norms of behavior,’” said Raymond.
The general noted that progress has already been made on that front.
“We have furthered the conversation with our allied partners on norms of behavior,” he added. “For the last year, and even before that, but this last year we have really sharpened the discussion on norms of behavior with our allies in Schriever Wargame, for example, or our Combined Space Operations initiative that we have.”
Under the Combined Space Operations initiative, allies cooperate and share space domain awareness data. In 2020, France and Germany joined the initiative, which already included Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Space Command has also added new agreements under Operation Olympic Defender, an American-led coalition of space-faring allies working together to deter hostile actions in space, strengthen deterrence against hostile actors and address the growing issue of orbital debris.
The Space Force also signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan to host two U.S. payloads on Japan’s Quasi Zenith Satellite System, that nation’s satellite navigation system in development. The Space Force says its payloads will include optical sensors for space domain awareness. The Space Force also plans to host U.S. communications payloads on a pair of Norwegian satellites.
Beyond purposefully building space partnerships with other nations, Raymond added that just the establishment of the Space Force has raised the profile of military space organizations all around the world.
“It’s interesting to note that after we stood up the Space Force, several countries have elevated their space in their department of defense as well, including France, the U.K, Japan, and there’s others,” he noted. “There’s a significant understanding of the importance of space, and U.S. leadership in space is resonating across the globe.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Feb 21. SpaceX Starship SN9 Sent Forth. Return Landing Is A RUD. On Tuesday, February 2, Starship serial number 9 (SN9) completed SpaceX’s second high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from the SpaceX site in Cameron County, Texas.
Similar to the high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 8 (SN8), SN9 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 kilometers in altitude. SN9 successfully performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before re-orienting itself for re-entry and a controlled aerodynamic descent. The Starship prototype descended under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location. During the landing flip maneuver, one of the Raptor engines did not relight and caused SN9 to land at high speed and experience a RUD (that’s what SpaceX CEO Elon Musk calls a “rapid unscheduled disassembly). These test flights are all about improving the understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.
Original news story
As early as, now, Tuesday, February 2, the SpaceX team will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 9 (SN9) – the second high-altitude suborbital flight test of a Starship prototype from the company’s launch site in Cameron County, Texas.
Similar to the high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 8 (SN8), SN9 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN9 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.
The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location. SN9’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount.
A controlled aerodynamic descent with body flaps and vertical landing capability, combined with in-space refilling, are critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, and returning to Earth. This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.
There will be a live feed of the flight test available that will start a few minutes prior to liftoff. Given the dynamic schedule of development testing, stay tuned to the company’s social media channels for updates as all get ready for SpaceX’s second high-altitude flight test of Starship. (Source: Satnews)
04 Feb 21. GHOSt Constellation Deployment Plans Finalized By Orbital Sidekick. Orbital Sidekick (OSK) has finalized plans to deploy their Global Hyperspectral Observation Satellite constellation, known as GHOSt. The hyperspectral imaging (HSI) constellation consists of six, 100 kg, ESPA class satellites designed and manufactured by Astro Digital, with Maverick Space Systems providing mission integration and management services for the launches on SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The custom hyperspectral imaging payload is provided by OSK. GHOSt leverages OSK’s previous experience collecting and analyzing hyperspectral data with its HEIST mission on the International Space Station in 2019. The custom payload will produce the highest resolution commercial hyperspectral imagery launched to-date with a GSD of approximately 8 meters. The payload will be integrated into Astro Digital’s Corvus-XL satellite platform and will take advantage of its industry leading Ka-band data downlink capability. Maverick Space Systems will provide mission integration hardware and services to launch GHOSt on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 starting in December 2021 and continuing into 2022.
GHOSt will capture more than 400 spectral bands in the visible to shortwave infrared range of 400 – 2500 nm to feed OSK’s Spectral Intelligence Global Monitoring Application (SIGMATM) platform.
Artistic rendition of the GHOSt constellation on-orbit.
“We’re excited to partner with Astro Digital and Maverick Space for this initial constellation. Both companies bring a high degree of agility with proven execution to our mission, allowing OSK to focus on the payload and extracting information from our unique hyperspectral data,” said Pete Friedhoff, Director of Space Systems for Orbital Sidekick.
“Persistent, hyperspectral imaging is a critical new capability in remote sensing,” said Chris Biddy, Co-founder and CEO of Astro Digital. “We are very pleased to be supporting Orbital Sidekick’s mission with our proven satellite technology and capabilities.”
“Taking advantage of frequent low-cost launch opportunities is critical to achieve Orbital Sidekick’s constellation. We are excited to partner with them and further reduce their per-satellite launch costs by aggregating two GHOSt satellites per ESPA port,” said Roland Coelho, CEO of Maverick Space. (Source: Satnews)
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