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10 Mar 21. Spectra Group joins Athena– the UK’s new national space team.
Spectra Group, the internationally renowned specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems, has joined Athena, the UK’s new national space team to work on government satellite communication opportunities together. Athena is a diverse and agile commercial coalition made up of Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK. Envisioned to grow and adapt for purpose, Athena is a principles-based alliance, with an aim of better forging relationships across the UK’s space sector and to bid together on a number of growth opportunities.
Spectra Group, a UK Government Top 100 SME supplier, has joined Athena to bring specific expertise to the area of UK defence and government satellite communications. Spectra’s SlingShot system, which was recently awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation, is a unique, lightweight system that enables existing, in-service tactical military and commercial VHF/UHF radios to utilise Inmarsat’s L-TAC service. The technology delivers Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) Comms on the Move (COTM) with low-latency voice and data connectivity to radio networks for ground, vehicle, maritime and airborne platforms. SlingShot’s unique capability provides reliable, secure command and control communications between widely dispersed military forces and/or civilian agencies operating in austere and hostile environments, without the cost, delay or logistical challenges of deploying additional infrastructure.
As world-leading, UK-based organisations, Athena member companies have joined forces to amplify the sum of their parts, enhancing the nation’s space industry capabilities through meaningful collaboration. With best-in-class experience across a wide variety of technology and services, spanning defence, aerospace, communications and information technology, Athena was formed to help deliver prosperity and security as part of the UK space industry. Together, Athena aims to be a force for positive change in the space industry, building a strategic, innovative future on the experienced and proven foundations of the impressive heritage of the companies involved.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “Joining Athena is a key step for Spectra Group in a world undergoing transformational change, driving a universal desire for a more united approach to the future in space for the UK. By combining our strengths in a national team and contributing with our specific skillset, Spectra Group and Athena will help the UK space sector seamlessly transition from the strong foundations of today, to the endless possibilities of tomorrow.”
Todd McDonell, President, Global Government at Inmarsat said: “Expertise and experience increasingly matters to defence customers and being able to incorporate highly skilled specialisations from leading UK SME companies brings benefit to both the UK economy at large, as well as to the UK Space agenda. Spectra has demonstrated a specialist skillset in delivering tactical radio communications globally, from their UK based expert teams. We see having Spectra join the Athena team as a great way to enhance the critical delivery of leading edge, space based services being offered to the UK Government.”
12 Mar 21. Watch this space: DSEI’s space advisor on Integrated Review hopes. The UK Government is set to publish its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy next Tuesday. Defence and Security International’s (DSEI) newly-appointed space advisor Dr Michael Holden told Airforce Technology his hopes for how it would address the space domain and its integration with other domains
The UK Government is set to publish its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy next Tuesday. Defence and Security International’s (DSEI) newly-appointed space advisor Dr Michael Holden told Airforce Technology his hopes for how it would address the space domain and its integration with other domains.
An awful lot of building blocks were announced, particularly in 2020, with regards to the UK’s space aspirations. The National Space Council was set up in 2020, which highlights its importance; not only is it a cabinet-level committee but it’s also chaired by the Prime Minister, which I think reflects this government’s prioritisation of space.
The MOD signed a $500 million contract for a new communication satellites Skynet 6, Alpha phase, that will be launched in 2025. In November, the Prime Minister announced a £16.5bn – $22.5bn – increase in spending on defence in the next four years. Space was one of the top three priority areas to get some of that.
The Global Navigation Satellite System GNSS programme concluded in September, and it’s being built on by the Space-Based Position, Navigation and Timing (SBPNT) programme, looking at providing position navigation and timing to the UK.
The MOD appointed Vice Marshal Harv Smyth director space and again reaffirmed its commitment to UK launch facilities being ready to operate by 2022. They’re looking at UK-designed and built launch facilities to launch vehicles and payload as a whole-UK enterprise.
The $500m investment in One Web was completed at the back end of last year. The UK Space Agency set up a space engineering technician apprenticeship in partnership with academia and industry; they start taking entrants in this year and quarter one 2021. Space Command is going to be stood up in April this year, and there was also a commitment to build a space propulsion test facility in the UK, which already has a designated site.
Many of the building blocks are all there, so the Integrated Review is looking at how all those different building blocks and strands will be pulled together; that hooks into the other departments that have a stake in the space organisation as well. A hope for the Integrated Review is that it brings all those announcements together into a coherent whole.
A full interview with Dr Michael Holden will appear in the April issue of Global Defence Technology. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
11 Mar 21. Thales on Mars 2020 mission: SuperCam laser fires for first time.
- Just days after the Perseverance rover landed in Jezero Crater, the SuperCam instrument has successfully fired its laser for the first time.
- The Thales laser, designed to operate in both LIBS and Raman modes, will analyse the chemical and mineral composition of samples and detect organic particles — key aspects of the Mars 2020 mission.
The Thales laser: a key technology for Perseverance
After a journey of 293 million miles (472m km) through space, the Perseverance rover landed safely on 18 February with incredible precision — at the exact scheduled time — in the heart of Jezero Crater, a 30 mile (49 km) wide impact basin.
The touchdown was a crucial milestone in the ongoing study of the Red Planet and was especially poignant for Thales’s laser teams.
SuperCam is the result of close collaboration between Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the United States and the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute in France (CNRS, CNES and the University of Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier), with contributions from the University of Hawaii and the University of Valladolid in Spain. The Mast Unit, the French part of SuperCam located atop the rover’s mast, was designed and built by a consortium of French laboratories1 attached to CNRS (the French national scientific research centre), universities and research facilities under the scientific lead of the IRAP teams and under the responsibility of CNES, the French space agency. The laser supplied by Thales is a key part of the Mast Unit. It was designed, built, assembled and tested at the Élancourt site in France.
The teams at the French Operations Centre for Science and Exploration (FOCSE) at CNES’s field centre in Toulouse received the first data from SuperCam and have confirmed that the instrument is in great shape.
Designing a laser for Mars
Designing the SuperCam laser, which weighs just 500 grams, was no mean feat for the Thales teams because, while keeping the same volume as the ChemCam laser, the SuperCam laser had to incorporate LIBS spectroscopy and a new Raman analysis function. Beyond the size restrictions, the teams have also significantly increased the instrument’s analysis capabilities. The SuperCam laser can produce 10 times as many shots in burst mode for faster sampling — 1,000 shots per burst, compared to a maximum of 100 with ChemCam and at a frequency three times higher (10 Hz). The experience gained with the ChemCam laser coupled with Thales’s unique expertise in complex systems engineering enabled the company to complete the entire project in under three years.
“Designing a laser for Mars means achieving an extremely high level of qualification to meet four key challenges: miniaturisation, resistance to impacts and vibrations during landing, resistance to the Martian environment, including temperature extremes from –50°C to +70°C, and of course dependability and service life. We wish Perseverance all the same success as Curiosity, which has fired its laser on Mars almost 900,000 times since 2012.”
Eric Durand, in charge of the SuperCam (Perseverance) and ChemCam (Curiosity) lasers for Thales.
Can Mars hide its secrets from the SuperCam laser?
SuperCam comprises five instruments: three spectrometers (LIBS, Raman, VISIR), a micro-imager to capture high-resolution colour pictures and a microphone to record the sound as the LIBS laser fires on rocks up to 13 feet (4 m) away. When plasma is formed, it creates a staccato ‘pop’. Recording it could provide further information about the nature of rocks, such as hardness and porosity. The Thales laser is designed to operate in both LIBS (laser induced breakdown spectroscopy) and Raman modes and is a core component of the SuperCam instrument’s two spectrometers.
In LIBS mode, an infrared beam (wavelength: 1,064 nm) is used to analyse rocks by laser induced breakdown spectroscopy. The powerful laser has a range of up to 7 metres and focuses energy of 30 mJ per pulse on an area of less than 1 square millimetre to evaporate rocks at about 10,000°C. The spectrum of light emitted by this plasma is then analysed to determine the sample’s chemical composition. LIBS can also be used to remove dust from rock surfaces to facilitate analysis by other instruments.
11 Mar 21. Airbus pioneers first satellite factory in space. PERIOD consortium to prepare concept for in-orbit demonstrator.
In-space antenna and satellite assembly: first steps towards space manufacturing.
Airbus has been selected by the European Commission to study spacecraft manufacturing in space through the Horizon 2020 Programme. The PERIOD (PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration) project focuses on satellite assembly and manufacturing in orbit. This A/B1 phase study contract, worth €3m, will last two years, with the objective to continue with a demonstrator in orbit.
The “orbital factory” envisioned by PERIOD will pioneer construction of major components such as antenna reflectors, assembly of spacecraft components and satellite payload replacements, directly in space.
This is the precursor to future manufacturing of large structures in orbit. Producing directly in orbit will revolutionise the way space systems are designed, built and operated. It has significant advantages over the traditional approach – where everything is produced on Earth and subsequently transported to space – since objects made in space are freed from the constraints and requirements of launch (launcher mass and volume limitations, structural strength to withstand launch).
To achieve this goal, Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen, is leading a team of seven European innovators, bringing their own expertise in fields such as robotic operation, virtual reality, and in-space assembly: DFKI, EASN-TIS, GMV, GMV-SKY, ISISPACE, SENER Aeroespacial and Space Applications Services.
By validating disruptive capabilities, PERIOD will demonstrate the value of in space servicing, manufacturing and assembly. It will also help Europe develop capability and industrial infrastructure to put it at the leading edge of the in-orbit servicing and manufacturing market. PERIOD will stimulate future research and generate new market opportunities, leading to jobs and growth in forward-looking technology.
The future space factory, as well as the demonstrator, could be orbited by a launcher and would then activate and start producing in orbit as a free flyer. An alternative demonstration mission, offering more flexibility and for a lower cost, would be to use ISS infrastructure.
“Airbus has been working on in-orbit manufacturing technologies for more than a decade and the PERIOD programme will help Europe move its combined technological know-how to the next level,” said Silvio Sandrone, head of Space Exploration future projects at Airbus. “Future large scale space systems can only be manufactured and assembled in orbit, so it’s crucial that Europe is at the forefront of this key capability.”
Airbus teams are already involved in a number of other in-space research programmes including Metal3D, the first ever metal 3D printer due to be deployed to space next year, in a project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), and the MANTOS project, which demonstrated robotic and AI-based assembly operations with the support of German Space Agency (DLR).
Aiming at building a functional satellite in a robotized orbital factory, PERIOD (PERASPERA In Orbit Demonstration) is a European Commission Horizon 2020 project on Space Robotics technologies. Led by Airbus, the consortium comprises DFKI, EASN-TIS, GMV, GMV-SKY, ISISPACE, SENER Aeroespacial and Space Applications Services. PERIOD is part and building on the heritage of the EU’s Strategic Research Cluster in space robotic technologies for On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004151.
09 Mar 21. Contract Signed to Build Arctic Weather Satellite. With the need for satellite data to be received more frequently for faster weather forecasting updates in the Arctic, ESA has signed a contract with OHB Sweden to a build prototype satellite for the Arctic Weather Satellite mission.
This prototype is the forerunner of a potential constellation of satellites that would supply an almost constant stream of temperature and humidity data from every location on Earth – allowing, for the first time, for very short-range weather forecasting, or ‘nowcasting’, in the Arctic. Meteorologists will also use the mission to improve weather forecasts around the world.
Accurate weather forecasts are an essential part of everyday life, used from simply deciding what clothes to wear to planning crop harvesting, ship routing and managing renewable energy resources.
Today, satellites, both those in geostationary orbit and in polar orbit, provide a wealth of information that meteorologists use routinely to forecast the weather, however, the monitoring of the Arctic remains insufficient.
Europe’s Meteosat geostationary satellites positioned 36 000 km above the equator return images every 15 minutes over the full Earth and every five minutes over Europe, they have no visibility of higher latitudes, closer to the poles, and so cannot be used for Arctic weather forecasting.
While the MetOp satellites do return data over the poles as they a circle Earth from pole to pole in a lower orbit, they need up to 24 hours to achieve global coverage.
By providing global measurements of atmospheric temperature and humidity with frequent revisit times, the polar-orbiting Arctic Weather Satellite mission will complement MetOp and its counterpart US NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System. This will improve weather forecasts specifically in the Arctic, which has so far been lacking the data needed for short-term forecasts.
The Arctic Weather Satellite mission is foreseen as an eventual constellation – but as a first step, ESA has now put in place a contract to develop, build, launch and operate a prototype satellite. This also embraces the New Space approach by proving new concepts in a cost-effective and timely manner.
The contract, which is worth over €32m, was signed today by Toni Tolker-Nielsen, ESA’s Acting Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Benoit Mathieu, Managing Director of OHB Sweden. Mr Tolker-Nielsen said, “The Arctic Weather Satellite development contract demonstrates ESA’s continued commitment to the establishment of novel, state-of-the-art meteorological satellite systems, while also showcasing what can be achieved with a cost-effective, New Space approach.”
The satellite will carry a 19-channel cross-track scanning microwave radiometer, providing high-resolution humidity and temperature soundings of the atmosphere in all weather conditions.
OHB Sweden leads the industrial consortium, which includes Omnisys Sweden as the prime contractor for the microwave radiometer and Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for the ground segment. The industrial team includes 31 companies, including 14 small and medium-sized enterprises from 12 ESA Member States.
Benoit Mathieu added, “This is the third mission relying on our Innosat platform. With this contract, OHB Sweden’s Innosat platform proves its New Space character suitable for a cost-effective and reliable Arctic Weather Satellite constellation and beyond.”
Looking forward, ESA would develop the envisaged constellation in cooperation with EUMETSAT, along the same agreement that led to the implementation of the generations of Meteosat and MetOp satellites.
Phil Evans, Director General of EUMETSAT, said, “We welcome today’s signature, as EUMETSAT is committed to working with ESA to evaluate the Arctic Weather Satellite in-orbit data. In complement to the observations from our Second Generation of MetOp satellites, we would expect any future Arctic Weather Satellite system to have a positive impact on meteorological applications, from regional and global numerical weather prediction to nowcasting in the Arctic region, where it will bring important and missing observations.
“EUMETSAT and ESA will also work together in assessing the technical feasibility and cost of a future operational constellation of such Arctic Weather Satellites which, if agreed by our Member States, would be implemented by EUMETSAT.” (Source: ASD Network/ESA)
09 Mar 21. Top Secret: Why No One Knows the X-37B Space Plane’s True Purpose. It offers far more questions than answers.
Here’s What You Need to Remember: Thermal protections or insulating technology of some kind is precisely the kind of technology needed to enable humans to travel through space. This raises the possibility that, at some unknown point in the future, armed, manned high-speed spacecraft may well launch attacks from beyond the boundaries of the earth’s atmosphere.
Just what is the mission intent and concept of operation for the U.S. Space Force’s experimental X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle drone? Is it an anti-satellite space attack plane? Can it attack missiles or track enemy weapons? Such questions abound as the Boeing-built space drone enters new phases of technological maturity and nears operational status. The X-37B is the first vehicle since NASA’s Shuttle Orbiter with an ability to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis, a Pentagon paper explains.
“Upon command from the ground, the OTV autonomously re-enters the atmosphere, descends and lands horizontally on a runway,” an Air Force Statement says.
The Air Force report goes on to say that the technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, high temperature structures and seals, conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems, advanced propulsion systems, advanced materials and autonomous orbital flight, reentry and landing.
The technologies cited by the Air Force as under examination raise some interesting and substantial questions, several of which pertain to the ability to conduct operations at extremely high speeds and therefore high temperatures. “Thermal protection” is essential for space flight in several key respects, as it is necessary to ensure a stable flight trajectory for space-travelling weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles or hypersonic missiles. Moreover, thermal protections or insulating technology of some kind is precisely the kind of technology needed to enable humans to travel through space. This raises the possibility that, at some unknown point in the future, armed, manned high-speed spacecraft may well launch attacks from beyond the boundaries of the earth’s atmosphere.
Secondly, “advanced materials” are essential to successful space operation as they are what’s needed to engineer structures, components and propulsion systems durable enough to survive the temperatures and atmospheric rigors of space travel. Materials of this kind are already maturing quickly as they are fundamental to the operational deployment of hypersonic weapons. Not only are they necessary to sustain flight stability at hypersonic speeds, but they are needed to ensure the structural configurations needed to generate the proper air flow boundary layer surrounding missiles, interceptors or spacecraft.
Space autonomy is also of great significance, as advanced algorithms enabling autonomous space flight are progressing at lightning speed, creating a circumstance wherein unmanned systems could conduct surveillance missions, reinforce or expand satellite communications networks or even fire weapons when directed by humans operating in a command and control capacity.
NASA’s original X-37 program began in 1999 and was transferred to DARPA in 2004.
Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. This article first appeared last year.
(Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
09 Mar 21. British overseas territories ‘should be used to counter China space threat.’ British overseas territories should be used to counter the China space threat by monitoring the skies above them, a King’s professor has said.
Dr Mark Hilborne, a Defence lecturer at King’s College London (KCL), said as a “small island” the UK needs to take advantage of its territories, such as The Falklands and Diego Garcia, where it can plant sensors on the ground to keep an eye on adversaries’ satellites in space.
He told The Telegraph: “It’s sort of theoretical footprint on the ground, and that will give you coverage of different areas, which the US has kind of gaps in the southern hemisphere so the UK could then fill in that gap in terms of getting an overall picture of what’s in space and who’s doing what.”
He added that it was “relatively cheap to put things on the ground and look upwards” and would be a cost effective way to complement satellites in orbit.
“From a military perspective … if China does things we need to know about it. And the same with Russia,” he said.
In a new paper, ‘China’s space programme: A rising star, a rising challenge’, from the university’s Lau China Institute, Dr Hilborne warns that China is developing space-based capabilities that will gain it economic and diplomatic leverage.
It comes amid growing concerns about China’s influence in UK academia. Earlier this month The Telegraph revealed that scientists at Britain’s leading universities, including Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester, have worked on projects with staff at China’s nuclear weapons research institution.
Meanwhile, a new report produced by KCL, the Harvard Kennedy School and the Institute for Scientific Information, which has been co-authored by Boris Johnson’s brother Lord (Jo) Johnson, stressed the scale of Beijing’s involvement in the UK – with China set to overtake the US as the UK’s most significant research partner.
The research found that collaboration between the two has increased to one in ten papers being co-authored with China. It has risen from fewer than 100 co-authored papers before 1990 to 16,267 in 2019, about 11 percent of the UK’s total output.
This compares to around 19 per cent of UK papers with a US co-author and 10.5 per cent with a German co-author.
The report said that this growth has led to a progressive rise for China in terms of ranked frequency among the UK’s partners. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
08 Mar 21. The government response to commercial spaceflight consultations. Announces publication of a government response to consultations on the space industry. On Friday 5 March 2021, I published the government’s response to the consultations that were held in the summer and autumn of 2020 on the secondary legislation which will implement the Space Industry Act 2018.
We sought views on the operability and effectiveness of the draft space industry regulations and associated guidance and supporting documents (July), as well as the government’s approach to liabilities, insurance and charging (October).
We also asked respondents to provide evidence and test the assumptions in the consultation-stage impact assessment.
This government is committed to growing the space industry in the UK and cementing our leading role in this sector by unlocking a new era in commercial spaceflight across the UK.
The draft space industry regulations, together with draft instruments covering accident investigation and appeals, will pave the way for a new commercial licensing regime for spaceflight activities from UK.
It will support safe and sustainable activities that will drive research, innovation and entrepreneurship, exploiting the unique environment of space.
This will feed into our emerging national space strategy as we develop our priorities for levelling up the UK and promote the growth of this thriving sector in the long term.
We also recognise the importance of ensuring that the environment is protected from the adverse effects of spaceflight activities.
This is why the Space Industry Act 2018 requires applicants for a launch or spaceport licence to submit an assessment of environmental effects as part of their application.
We also published a consultation on 10 February 2021 setting specific environmental objectives for the spaceflight regulator to take account of when considering these assessments, reinforcing government’s wider policies towards the environment and sustainability.
Our spaceflight legislation has been designed from the outset to support commercial operations. This, together with the Technology Safeguards Agreement signed with the US in June 2020, means that the UK is well-placed to attract new commercial opportunities in this rapidly growing sector.
Together with industry, we set a target to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10% by 2030. Today we are a step closer to reaching this goal.
The government welcomes the thoughtful and detailed responses received from across the 4 nations of the UK. Invaluable insights were provided by those who responded to the consultation and included enthusiastic responses from schoolchildren.
We’re pleased to report that our modern regulatory framework was supported by the vast majority of respondents with many applauding the flexibility of our proposed approach, which fosters adaptability through an outcomes-based focus.
The response I have shared sets out the ways we’ve adjusted the draft space industry regulations and associated guidance material to reflect, and where possible accommodate, the suggestions and recommendations made through the consultation process.
We believe that this collaborative approach will not only strengthen the licensing regime we’re implementing but also demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to growing this exciting sector.
My department has worked closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the UK Space Agency and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to legislate for a wide range of new commercial spaceflight technologies, including:
- traditional vertically launched vehicles
- air-launched vehicles
- sub-orbital spaceplanes and balloons
It’s our intention to bring this legislation before the House later this year.
Following the publication of the government’s response, I’ll update the House once we’re ready to submit the secondary legislation for Parliamentary scrutiny. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
07 Mar 21. Kleos Space third satellite launch on SpaceX targeted Dec 2021.
- New agreement with rideshare provider Spaceflight Inc to launch the KSF2 Polar Patrol Mission – Kleos’ third satellite cluster.
- Kleos’ second satellite cluster KSF1 Polar Vigilance are on track to launch in mid-2021 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
- Commissioning of the company’s successfully launched Scouting Mission satellites nears completion, software commissioning and revenues to follow.
- Kleos’ satellites enhance the detection of illegal activity, including drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and border & security challenges.
Kleos Space S.A (ASX:KSS), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has signed a new contract with rideshare provider Spaceflight Inc to launch its third satellite cluster (KSF2) in December 2021 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, further growing the constellation.
Kleos Space CEO Andy Bowyer said: “The launch of our third satellite cluster will further improve the frequency and value of Kleos’ radio frequency intelligence data, generating higher-value datasets and further tiered subscription licence options. While Kleos is targeting a constellation of up to 20 satellite clusters, each cluster will increase the volume of data that can be sold and provide further insights as to activity in key areas of interest for our customers.
“While we progress our constellation roll out with the launch of our second and third satellite clusters, we continue to focus on securing and building a new subscriber base. Data delivery from the Scouting Mission satellites allows us to commence revenue generation from early adopter and test contracts.”
The four KSF2 Polar Patrol Mission satellites will launch into a 500-600km Sun Synchronous orbit, complementing Kleos’ first and second satellite clusters and increasing cover over key maritime areas of interest (e.g. double the coverage over both Poles).
Kleos’ second satellite cluster – the Polar Vigilance Mission – has recently completed a key development milestone and remains on track for a mid-2021 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
Commissioning and data collection from Kleos’ initial Scouting Mission satellites, which launched from India into a 37-degree inclination in November 2020 is nearing completion.
04 Mar 21. SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing, then blows up. The third time appeared to be the charm for Elon Musk’s Starship rocket – until it wasn’t. The latest heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype from SpaceX soared flawlessly into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas, then flew itself back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model.
But the triumph was short-lived. Listing slightly to one side as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touchdown.
It was the third such landing attempt to end in a fireball after an otherwise successful test flight for the Starship, being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.
For Musk, the billionaire SpaceX founder who also heads the electric carmaker Tesla Inc, the outcome was mixed news.
The Starship SN10 came far closer to achieving a safe, vertical touchdown than two previous models – SN8 in December and SN9 in February. In a tweet responding to tempered congratulations from an admirer of his work, Musk replied, “RIP SN10, honorable discharge.”
The video feed provided by SpaceX on the company’s YouTube channel cut off moments after the landing. But separate fan feeds streamed over the same social media platform showed an explosion suddenly erupting at the base of the rocket, hurling the SN10 into the air before it crashed to the ground and became engulfed in flames.
The complete Starship rocket, which will stand 394-feet (120 metres) tall when mated with its super-heavy first-stage booster, is SpaceX’s next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle – the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel more affordable and routine.
A first orbital Starship flight is planned for year’s end. Musk has said he intends to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon with the Starship in 2023. (Source: Reuters)
04 Mar 21. Indonesian Satellite Construction To Start In September Of This Year. Through its subsidiary, PT Satelit Nusantara Tiga (SNT), and the PSN Consortium consisting of fully local entities, PSN is working together with France-based aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space (TAS) to begin the satellite construction program in September of 2020.
The start of SATRIA construction was marked by the signing of the SATRIA Preparatory Work Agreement (PWA) by PSN President Director and SNT President Director, Adi Rahman Adiwoso, in Jakarta together with TAS VP Telecom Business Unit, Pascal Homsy, in France on Thursday, September 3, 2020.
The Minister of Communication and Information, Johnny G. Plate, said, “I congratulate the PSN Consortium for completing the PWA signing of the SATRIA project between SNT as part of the PSN Consortium and Thales Alenia Space. The pandemic has had a very significant impact on the aerospace industry, including satellites, such as adverse effects on project completion, disruptions to supply chains, and a slowdown in the operation of manufacturing facilities. However, for Indonesia and its partners in satellite industry, the opposite is true. The PWA of the PSN and TAS Consortium shows that the investment climate and development of Indonesia’s telecommunications infrastructure are not slowing down, but rather gaining momentum. “
PSN President Director and SNT President Director Adi Rahman Adiwoso explained that TAS construction will immediately be in effect with the PWA signing. Adi also emphasized that construction will commence this month. “Indonesia can quickly become a digital society by facilitating education, governance, health, economy, etc. using Internet access. This accessibility prepares the entire nation for a future that will be revolve around digital technology. With a capacity of 150 Gbps – more than three times the national capacities that are currently still in use – we believe that SATRIA can be the solution to the digital gap that still exists in Indonesia.” According to Adi, the SATRIA project is part of a series of Nusantara satellites by PSN group which began in 2019. This multi-function satellite has a capacity of 150 gigabytes per second (Gbps) using Very High Throughput Satellite (VHTS) technology in the Ka-Band frequency.
Adiwoso added that the SATRIA project is a strategic government decision of equal importance to the time when the government decided to launch the Palapa A Satellite in the 1970s for a domestic satellite communication system, allowing all Indonesians to communicate and enjoy the first national television, TVRI.
Adi also explained that SATRIA’s total investment of $550m (IDR 8trn) would be financed by a syndicate of international banks, namely The Hongkong and Shanghai bank Corporation Limited (HSBC), Banco Santander, SA (Santander) and The Korean Development Bank (KDB) which is guaranteed by Bpifrance Assurance Export (Bpi), the Export Credit Agency from France, and a multilateral financial institution, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), based in Beijing, China, all constituting a loan facility percentage of approximately $425m (IDR 6.3trn) or 77.27% of the total investment. Meanwhile, the remaining $125m or equivalent to 22.73% of SATRIA’s total investment will funded by the PSN Consortium’s capital.
Adi added, the government, through the Telecommunication and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI), can make SATRIA equivalent leasing costs more efficient at 12-20% of the current government leasing cost by the use of the VHTS technology.
Northern Sky Research predicts that the price of 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) in the market in 2024 will still be twice as expensive as what BAKTI will pay for the SATRIA project. Thus, said Adi, the government has made the right decision by implementing this program, as it offers affordable leased capacity that will allow government expenditure savings.
“We need to emphasize that the SATRIA project is not a very commercially profitable project for the company. However, we are honored to be able to take on the responsibility and part in developing Indonesia. We thank the Minister of Communication and Information and his staff, BAKTI, the funding supporters from the syndicated banks Bpi, HSBC, Santander, KDB, AIIB, and the Indonesian Infrastructure Guarantee Company, as well as all the parties that have supported the implementation of the SMF project. We hope that the SATRIA project can truly be the solution to the digital divide in Indonesia,” Adi concluded. (Source: Satnews)
04 Mar 21. D-Orbit Commits To Marubeni Partnership For Global Sales Expansion. D-Orbit S.p.A. and Marubeni Corporation have signed a commercial partnership that will enable D-Orbit to expand the firm’s sales network worldwide.
According to the agreement, Marubeni will promote and sell the entire catalog of D-Orbit’s solutions in Japan and other strategic markets where the space company aims to broaden its reach.
D-Orbit’s flagship service is InOrbit NOW, a launch and deployment solution that leverages ION Satellite Carrier, a cargo spacecraft designed, manufactured, and operated by the company. ION can host several satellites during launch, transport them to space, and release them into individual, customized orbital slots, while at the same time operating multiple hosted payloads during a single mission.
The agreement with Marubeni Corporation is a major deal that will enable D-Orbit to broaden its commercial presence and offer InOrbit NOW and all its other product and services through the extensive and wide-reaching network of the global trading corporation.
“We are honored to join forces with Marubeni, one of the major general trading companies of Japan,” said Renato Panesi, D-Orbit CCO. “Their widespread business network and overall capabilities make them an ideal partner to enter new markets.”
“Through this strong partnership with D-Orbit, we are confident that our team can offer valuable services to a wide range of satellite operators,” commented Michimoto Asano, General Manager, Aviation, Space & Defense Department, Marubeni Corporation. “This partnership will make a significant contribution to the advancement of the space industry.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Mar 21. Sateliot’s First Smallsat Is Ready To Fly. Sateliot will launch a constellation of smallsats to democratize IoT with 5G coverage and has verified with Alén Space that the transmission equipment that will be on board its first smallsat is now ready to fly.
Once the design and manufacture of the flight model of the payload that will be on board 3B5GSAT — Sateliot’s first smallsat that will serve as a test bench — has been completed, both companies have worked on its integration into the satellite structure and its flight model, validating all its functionalities through strict tests and quality procedures.
Sateliot is relying on The Space Alliance formed by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) and Telespazio for the development of this constellation of smallsats to ensure the company’s IoT connectivity is compatible with the 5G standard.
These procedures, which have included tests of the complete system including the IoT terminals to be deployed on Earth, the satellite with the payload and the operating and data processing software, have concluded that everything is working optimally and that the satellite is now entering the final phase prior to its launch, which is scheduled for March 20 from the Baikonur space base in Kazakhstan.
With the launch of the first nanosatellite, Sateliot will enter a new technological phase, which will allow the company to perform field tests in real environments, providing very useful information for the evolution and design of its constellation of up to 100 smallsats that is scheduled to start and offer commercial service from 2022.
Alén Space, which signed an agreement with Sateliot as part of its R&D investment, is also already working on the new version of the payload to be carried on board the constellation’s next nanosatellites. The company will take advantage of the information collected by the first smallsat and will allow the implementation of a first version of the system capable of supporting a pre-commercial version of NB-IoT.
This payload will be the hardware support on which the new standard defined by 3GPP for non-terrestrial networks will be implemented. In this context, Sateliot is working closely with both Alén Space and Gatehouse and I2CAT in the development and integration of the software needed to implement the new standard in the payload.
According to Jaume Sanpera, Co-Founder and CEO of Sateliot, “Despite the challenges and limitations posed by the pandemic in recent months, the development of our first nanosatellite brings us closer to our goal of having up to 100 nanosatellites in service by 2025.”
Sateliot is the first satellite telecommunications operator to provide global and continuous connectivity to all the elements that will make up the IoT universe under the 5G protocol. Thanks to a constellation of state-of-the-art smallsats, located at low altitude and acting as mobile towers, Sateliot is a perfect complement to large telecommunications companies by providing them with the necessary infrastructure where terrestrial technologies do not reach.
Alén Space is a Spanish company specialized in consulting, design, manufacturing and operation of small satellites for all kinds of applications. Alén Space has a highly qualified team of engineers with more than 12 years of experience in the development of nanosatellite missions, with the necessary technological solutions and capacity to help those companies that want to develop business in space. Quality and technology have been the hallmark of the Alén Space team since 2008. (Source: Satnews)
04 Mar 21. SpaceX Launches Additional Starlinks. This was the eighth launch of this Falcon 9 booster, which previously supported Iridium-8, Telstar 18 VANTAGE and five Starlink missions.
Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable without traditional ground structure. At a time when more people are working from home and more students are participating in virtual learning, internet connectivity is more important than ever. With Starlink, the company states they are able to deploy quickly to areas that need it most.
In December, the Wise County Public School District in rural Virginia, where approximately 40% of teachers and students do not have internet access at home, announced it would provide some families in the area with Starlink to support remote learning. Starlink units were deployed in January and more than 40 homes are now connected with high-speed internet. (Source: Satnews)
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