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08 Apr 21. Space Force unveils plans for Space Systems Command. The U.S. Space Force will reorganize its acquisitions organization this summer under the new Space Systems Command, the still nascent service announced Thursday.
Under the restructuring to speed up new technology delivery, Space Systems Command (SSC) will replace the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), elevating the latter’s responsibilities to a Space Force Field Command. The new organization, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base, will be charged with developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining space capabilities. Like SMC, the command will launch the Space Force’s new satellites, test them on orbit and sustain the constellations. Some additional Air Force units will transfer into the Space Force, but the reorganization does not include transfers from the other services, as had been suggested earlier.
The Space Force said SSC continues the Air Force’s 2019 acquisition reforms known as SMC 2.0, which emphasized an enterprise approach to the purchase of space capabilities.
“Space Systems Command’s organizational structure was purpose-built to anticipate and be responsive to the challenges presented by a contested space domain,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond in a statement. “We took the SMC 2.0 transformation of 2019 to the next level, aligning missions and organizations, and pushing authorities down from the three-star level to lower echelons in order to reduce cost and go fast. This will allow us to move at speed in delivering the resilient space capabilities necessary to stay ahead of a growing threat.”
“With the re-designation of SMC as SSC, we will further build upon the success seen with SMC 2.0, while synchronizing the science and technology research, capability development, system production, launch operations, and system sustainment efforts to more effectively deliver cutting-edge space systems needed to ensure the future of our national security and prosperity,” added SMC Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson.
SSC is the second of three new field commands to be established under the Space Force. The first — Space Operations Command (SpOC) — was created in October and is responsible for operating the nation’s military satellites. The service plans to set up the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) later this year. STARCOM will be in charge of educating and training Space Force guardians.
The SSC commander will be a three-star general nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The new command is slightly different than the organization Space Force leaders had previewed in 2020. Most notably, SSC will not include the Space Rapid Capabilities Office or the Space Development Agency, the latter of which is set to transfer into the Space Force in 2022. While SSC will provide select administrative and integration support to both, the two units will report directly to the chief of space operations. Both will receive their acquisition authorities from the service acquisition executive.
In addition to all SMC units moving to SSC, several Air Force units will be redesignated to the Space Force. Most notably, the Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division — the program office for ground-based radars, missile warning, space domain awareness, missile defense and shared early-warning capabilities — will transfer from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to SSC.
Space-related units within the Air Force Research Laboratory will remain affiliated with the AFRL commander, although they will be under the administrative control of SSC.
SSC also includes a significant shakeup of the service’s launch enterprise. The SSC deputy commander — a two-star USSF officer — will be the Assured Access to Space leader with oversight of the entire launch enterprise. That enterprise will be its own office under SSC. Additionally, the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, California, and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, will be redesignated as Space Launch Delta 30 and Space Launch Delta 45, respectively. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Apr 21. German Space Agency Selects LM iSpace System for Space Situational Awareness. iSpace offers real-time space object tracking, space event processing and sensor tasking from a variety of sensors worldwide.
To obtain real-time awareness of the more than 300,000 objects orbiting the earth, the German Space Agency at DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt / German Aerospace Center) has selected Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) iSpaceTM command and control system. The iSpace system tracks thousands of objects orbiting the earth by collecting data from a worldwide network of government, commercial and scientific community surveillance sensors.
The German Space Agency at DLR is the national space agency for the Federal Republic of Germany and operates the German Space Situational Awareness Center (GSSAC) together with the German Air Force. iSpace is the newest upgrade of the experimental mission system and will interface to German sensors to include the Tracking and Imaging Radar, GSSAC Optical Sensor and German Experimental Surveillance and Tracking Radar. iSpace will be used to task German sensors to support monitoring of high interest objects and space events.
“No other system offers real-time catalog maintenance, space event processing, and sensor tasking in a highly scalable processing infrastructure for such a variety of sensors,” said Amr Hussein, vice president, Lockheed Martin C4ISR Systems. “For those looking to enhance their space command and control capabilities, iSpace is a compelling solution as it can be rapidly deployed and dynamically configured to meet individual customer mission needs.”
The iSpace system provides real-time awareness on what is happening in space (e.g., collisions, maneuvers, break-ups, launches), alerts operators of anomalies, and suggests recommended courses of action.
Operationally fielded since 2017, Lockheed Martin leveraged its 50-plus year legacy in space command and control systems to develop iSpace. This heritage includes the first satellite detection and tracking system that used a network of space-probing cameras and radar to predict satellite behavior in the 1960s.
iSpace has supported several U.S. Strategic Command Global Sentinel exercises, which provide an international forum to broaden mutual understanding to enhance space cooperation. iSpace is also integrated with other Lockheed Martin capabilities to provide end-to-end space protection solutions for our customers. For example:
- Components of iSpace serve as a space situational awareness and sensor planning system for battle management applications to ensure the survivability and continuity of U.S. space systems.
- Our iSpace expertise was leveraged when Lockheed Martin developed the space situational awareness mission subsystem for the U.S. Air Force’s Space Fence, which provides detection, tracking and accurate measurement of space objects, including satellites and orbital debris, primarily in low-earth orbit. (Source: ASD Network)
08 Apr 21. China begins construction of its fifth rocket launch site. A port city in eastern China has launched an ambitious plan to build the country’s fifth rocket launch site, under a longer-term goal to ramp up space infrastructure to meet the demands of an expected boom in commercial missions. An engineering company in eastern Zhejiang province won a tender on April 1 to construct the launch pad in Ningbo city, as well as a section of the command centre and an assembly and testing facility, according to a document posted on the website of the Ningbo Free Trade Zone.
As part of the Zhejiang government’s infrastructure plans for 2021-2025, Ningbo will invest 20bn yuan ($3bn) in a rocket launch centre in the county of Xiangshan, or “Elephant Hill”.
The centre will be capable of launching 100 missions a year.
According to media, Xiangshan has a favourable latitude for rocket launches, comparable to Cape Canaveral, home of the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
In the next five to 10 years, China envisions massive constellations of commercial satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed internet for aircraft to tracking coal shipments.
To meet the demand for launches, China will have to build bigger rockets that can carry more satellites or build more launch sites, or both. China currently has four launch sites – three inland and one on the southern island of Hainan.
China launched 39 missions in 2020, including an unmanned probe to Mars, and is expected to see more than 40 launches this year, according to state media.
China may launch more than 1,000 low-Earth orbit satellites in coming years, the state-run Global Times reported on Wednesday, citing a space industry expert.
The Long March-5, China’s largest rocket, is capable of transporting 60 satellites at a time, the expert said.
The comparatively low threshold for building spacecraft launch sites will lure more provinces to plan similar projects, the Global Times added. (Source: Reuters)
07 Apr 21. Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft to improve satellite images. Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft have agreed to improve satellite imaging systems through cloud-based integrations.
Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft have teamed up to improve cloud based systems in space, onboarding Thales Alenia Space’s DeeperVision system on the Microsoft Azure Orbital program.
Thales Alenia Space’s DeeperVision allows satellite imagery to be analysed immediately at the point of capture, by utilising artificial intelligence. The artificial intelligence tracks changes to the earth’s surface over time to then analyse and identify any anomalies.
Vice president strategy and innovation at Thales Alenia Space, Clarence Dufloq, noted that, “Thales Alenia Space and Microsoft are innovating together by combining their expertise in space and cloud technologies. Customers can now combine all the functionality of Thales Alenia Space’s DeeperVision solution for processing dataflows and generating timely information with the cloud capabilities of Azure Orbital. This information is enriched by high-speed, high-volume artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an unprecedented impact on and beyond the planet!”
Tom Keane, CVP of Azure Global at Microsoft, continued, “Processing space satellite imagery at cloud-scale changes the game for our customers who need these AI/ML data insights to quickly make informed decisions for mission success. Supporting impactful innovation for our customers is a top priority for our Azure Space efforts – adding DeeperVision to Azure Orbital is a testament to our ongoing collaboration with Thales Alenia Space.” (Source: Space Connect)
07 Apr 21. Exciting space tech on show at joint UK/US held demo-day. From predicting space weather to enabling multi-national space domain awareness, here are the technologies showcased during the International Space Pitch Demo Day.
In November 2020, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) hosted the world’s first International Space Pitch Day (ISPD) – a joint UK and US initiative to find and fast-track innovations that enhance space domain capabilities. The competition culminated in ten tech start-ups securing contracts each worth up to £53,000, after pitching exciting space technologies directly to UK, US and NATO military leaders.
To keep pace with evolving threats, a grand coalition of Dstl, DASA, Royal Air Force, UK Strategic Command, the US Air Force, US Space Force, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) turned to the commercial sector to connect world-class space innovation to military end-users at pace.
ISPD marked a series of incredible firsts, such as the first time same-day contracts have been awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence, and the first time two international allies have jointly held a “pitching” style event to award defence contracts.
Four months later, on 30-31 March 2021, we saw the results of that funding during two-days of technology demonstrations, witnessing ideas emerge from concept to reality in an incredible display of innovation.
The technologies on display during the demo day offered an actual glimpse into how UK and US militaries will cooperate to ensure challenges in the space domain can be overcome.
Is this the exciting future of space defence?
The space domain is ever developing, with challenges such as the intent of space actors, the ability to accurately monitor space debris, the threat of space weather and the ability to safeguard satellites to consider.
The event showed a fresh way of working to fast-track innovation and cutting-edge technology to the front line quicker than ever before.
Cognitive Space, a US company that demoed multi-level space asset security through partitioned blockchain said;
ISPD has helped enable aerospace focused tech startups like us (Cognitive Space) to collaborate and grow while supplying DASA with innovative technologies not currently available in the industry.
Melanie Stricklan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Slingshot Aerospace said, “The Slingshot team would like to thank DASA for a great experience throughout the ISPD event and pitch process. The Slingshot Orbital ensemble catalog provides a foundation for reliable, predictive analytics and will provide space operators with important information to maintain space superiority over adversaries. We look forward to working with Dstl to commercialize this critical technology.”
And precursor SPC, who showcased a space weather impact tool said;
The DASA platform is the catalyst for the future of Space Weather now casting and forecasting, precursor’s 4D Space Weather Operational Impact Tool.
The technologies demonstrated at the event were::
Visualisation and analysis
- 114 AI Innovation LLP (India)
- RiskAware Ltd (United Kingdom)
- Rocket Communications (United States)
- Swim.ai, Inc. (United States)
- Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. (United States)
- Clutch Space Systems Limited (United Kingdom)
Satellite spectrum monitoring
- Clearbox Systems Pty Ltd (Australia)
Multi-Level Security through Partitioned Blockchain
- Cognitive Space, Inc. (United States)
- precursor SPC (United States)
- Spire Global UK (United Kingdom)
What is the International Space Pitch Day?
International Space Pitch Day is a joint UK-US initiative that aims to find, fund and fast-track innovation and technology that gives advantage to military personnel and operations in the space domain.
The competition was open to innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world delivered through the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), assisted by Starburst Accelerator.
It is specifically designed to bolster tech start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and harness the power of their ingenuity and innovation.
The endeavour is jointly funded by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Royal Air Force and the US Air Force.
A grand coalition of Dstl, DASA, Royal Air Force, UK Strategic Command, the US Air Force, US Space Force, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has been assembled to find, fund, and fast-track the best ideas from start-up innovators to the front line.
The format is the first of its kind in an international collaboration between two international allies. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
06 Apr 21. Orbit GX46 Airborne SATCOM Terminal Receives Inmarsat Global Xpress Commercial and Military Ka-band Type Approval. Multi-purpose, high-throughput aviation terminal supports military, government and commercial users worldwide. Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications services and Orbit Communication Systems Ltd. (TASE: ORBI), a leading global provider of airborne communications solutions, today announced that the Orbit GX46 multi-purpose terminal (MPT) has received full type approval for use over Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) network. GX is the world’s first and only, globally available, seamless mobile wideband service. In U.S. government service since July 2014, GX has established itself as the gold standard for reliable communications across land, sea, and air domains for assured mobile connectivity.
GX46 is a modular, multi-role terminal that operates in the GX commercial and military Ka-bands through a 46cm (18″) antenna. The terminal is fully integrated with modems, electronics and software to ensure reliable operations worldwide. The terminal enables a wide range of communications capabilities for business aircraft, military aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It complies with industry regulations and standards including Federal Communications Commission (FCC), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), Inmarsat GX, and RTCA DO-160G for the entire spectrum of aircraft.
The lightweight, small-footprint terminal enables worldwide connectivity, supporting the full range of Ka frequency bands and has been built to be compatible with the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system. The terminal is electronically switchable between systems and bands via Automatic Beam Switching (ABS) using industry-standard OpenAMIP and OpenBMIP protocols, ensuring seamless operations.
Daniel Eshchar, CEO of Orbit, said: “Orbit offers a complete range of airborne satellite communications building blocks that maximize flexibility and enable future scalability. Built to fulfil the ‘everywhere, all-the-time’ coverage requirements of the military and commercial airborne users, GX46 provides outstanding RF performance under the harshest environmental conditions.”
Tom Costello, Chief Commercial Officer, Inmarsat Government said: “Our partnership with Orbit enables Inmarsat to respond rapidly to market needs with fully qualified wideband satellite terminals. The GX46 meets mission-critical needs for our key customers by delivering high-performance, always-available connectivity worldwide. This terminal is a game changer for those that demand the very best in connectivity.” (Source: PR Newswire)
06 Apr 21. York Space Systems Announces Successful Test of Autonomous Operations Upgrade. Advanced Technology is Integral to its Customer-Focused Mission. York Space Systems’ rapidly deployable satellite system has successfully completed a rigorous twelve-month operational testing phase, demonstrating enterprise-wide autonomous operations for York customers. This next-generation technology upgrade design is backward compatible with York’s existing customers and enables all future customers to enjoy even lower monthly operating costs and an unsurpassed speed-to-space, from years to days.
York’s first production spacecraft and mission operations center just surpassed two years on orbit and served as the operational platform to complete testing. It performed exceptionally well on orbit, leveraging four distinct technology demonstration payloads, including Earth observation technologies and a high-data-rate communications link. While the platform has a five-year design life, mission data indicates an expected lifespan of seven to eight years.
“York Space Systems’ devotion to delivering what customers truly need has led us to a multi-role platform design that is manufactured at high rate,” said Charles Beames, executive chairman of York Space Systems. “The successful completion of operational testing now means even faster on-orbit checkout and test for our newest customers, and man-out-of-the-loop capability to operate entire constellations.
“Autonomous mission operations is now a standard baseline capability and just another step on our journey to faster on-orbit delivery and low cost operations of industrial grade spacecraft,” Beames added. “York’s entire leadership team is committed to continuous private investments to shorten delivery to orbit, enhance capabilities, and reduce costs for its customers.”
York Space Systems delivers custom space solutions by leveraging its low-cost spacecraft that is fully compatible with all current launch service companies and operating ground segment providers.
In May of 2020, York opened a new production facility, tripling its footprint and enabling the company to expedite the mass manufacturing of its spacecraft platform. This next-generation production facility is now at full operational capability, providing an on-demand surge capability to produce 20 spacecraft simultaneously with a secure, 100% flight-qualified supply chain.
“It’s clear that our military now requires faster delivery than ever before, much like our commercial customers do,” said Dirk Wallinger, York’s founder and CEO. “The successful operational testing of these new capabilities demonstrates our commitment to lead in this new generation of space customers, whether it’s the tactical warfighter or the Fortune 500 company seeking to gain an edge against its competitors. Our customers are finding that the ability to delivery on orbit in 90 days from contract award instead of four years is exactly what they need to outpace their competition.
“Our team combines active-duty operational and acquisition bench strength from the Air Force and NRO with world-class engineering talent from the traditional aerospace, gaming and tech sectors. We deliver on the timelines our demanding customers expect with no excuses,” added Wallinger. “Our goal is to continue to outpace traditional market players with our agile approach to the new space economy.”
About York Space Systems: York Space Systems was founded to radically improve spacecraft affordability, reliability, and time to orbit. York’s industry-leading approach to delivering Space Segment Solutions includes spacecraft production, payload integration, system integration and test, launch services, ground segment services, and mission operations. York’s S-CLASS industrial-grade platform is a modular 3-axis stabilized spacecraft that supports 85+kg payloads with up to 3,500+W peak (enhanced power system) that dramatically reduces the cost of manufacture. The S-CLASS spacecraft is fully compatible with leading launch vehicles, including ground and air-launched, and ground segment providers. When combined, these capabilities deliver a competitive advantage to customers seeking a rapidly deployed, low-cost solution for on-demand data collection and analytics. For more info (Source: PR Newswire)
06 Apr 21. Jacobs Mango One Satellite on Orbit, Laying Pathway for Next Generation, Affordable Space Solutions. Successful on-orbit performance marks another major milestone for Jacobs in advanced, affordable space radar payloads for military, civil and commercial customers. Jacobs (NYSE:J) began a new era of advanced, affordable space radar payloads with its Mango One satellite achieving a successful on-orbit performance. On Jan. 24, 2021, Jacobs’ Mango One satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter One rideshare mission to a sun synchronous orbit.
Jacobs Mango One Satellite on Orbit, Laying Pathway for Next Generation, Affordable Space Solutions
Mango One has successfully completed payload checkout and begun performing radio frequency (RF) survey missions using the modular and scalable Jacobs next generation active electronically scanned arrays (AESA) and advanced RF payload control electronics. Additional demonstrations of radar and communications capabilities will continue.
Successful on-orbit performance is another major step in Jacobs’ strategic vision as an aerospace and defense prime space payload hardware and software provider of affordable, commercial space based AESAs. Leveraging capabilities from the acquisition of KeyW, Jacobs brings over 25 years of airborne and terrestrial RF synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and moving target indication (MTI) payload hardware and processing.
“The Mango One on-orbit operations and demonstration of highly capable and affordable space solutions is another example of Jacobs delivering innovative technologies that enable our customer’s mission,” said Jacobs Critical Mission Solutions Senior Vice President Steve Arnette. “These solutions are a key component of the successful integration of Jacobs and KeyW, bringing even more unique and differentiated mission-focused capabilities in the rapidly evolving space sector.”
By leveraging the multi-billion-dollar commercial investment in 5G technology and tailoring it to meet the critical mission needs of both government and commercial customers, Jacobs is reducing the cost of space radar by 50% compared to that of legacy space radar systems. To meet market demand, the use of state-of-the-art advanced commercial manufacturing processes allows Jacobs to rapidly scale capacity and insert leading-edge technology. (Source: PR Newswire)
05 Apr 21. Space Force satellite communications contract gets nod for CMMC. The Space Force has nominated a new commercial satellite communications contract to be part of the Defense Department’s pilot for its unified cybersecurity standard for contractors, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program. A request for information for the Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and Global Xpress (GX) contract was amended March 31 to include requirements for the CMMC program so it “explains and incorporates CMMC requirements that will apply to the procurement.”
The RFI, which the Defense Information Systems Agency is leading on behalf of the Commercial Satellite Communications Office at Space Force, also states that the goal is to award separate contract vehicles for BGAN and GX offerings. Early respondents to the original RFI will need to submit an updated response by April 8.
“To be eligible for award, offeror is responsible for contracting with an authorized [CMMC Third Party Assessment Organizations] to support a CMMC assessment for the required CMMC Level certification,” the updated notice states.
The notice also mentioned that the CMMC Accreditation Body, which governs CMMC’s implementation, will designate C3PAOs on its website by June.
Since no CMMC certification is currently available, vendors are “encouraged to complete a self-assessment based on CMMC Assessment Guides,” the solicitation states
The changes come as the CMMC AB moves to stand up the training ecosystem, from course materials to individual assessors to assessing organizations, needed to implement the CMMC program.
Ben Tchoubineh, chair for the training committee, said during a recent Town Hall that there are 109 approved C3PAOs and 100 approved provisional assessors.
However, no organization can begin assessing until it has become certified at CMMC Level 3. So far, only one organization has completed that necessary assessment.
DOD is expected to release several pilot contracts that include CMMC requirements later this year as part of the first major push to implement the program. Over time, CMMC will be a prerequisite for all DOD contracts. (Source: https://fcw.com/)
05 Apr 21. Lockheed Martin Expands Quick, Affordable Launch Capability with ABL Block Buy. New tech will reach orbit faster with potentially dozens of launches this decade. ABL Space Systems will provide Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] with routine launches of RS1 rockets to accelerate payload technologies into orbit. Lockheed Martin will purchase up to 26 vehicles through 2025 and then up to 32 additional launches through 2029. Launches could use a network of U.S. and international launch sites, including Vandenberg Space Force Base, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and in the United Kingdom.
ABL’s GS0 Launch System can be activated from austere locations. Lockheed Martin’s order can take advantage of launches from fixed and deployable launch locations. (Credit: ABL)
Lockheed Martin benefits from ABL’s lower-cost launch vehicle by accelerating risk reduction with demonstration missions, which lay the groundwork for future large efforts. As a new entrant, ABL gets the benefit of a long term partnership and stable launch manifest for its future growth.
“This long-term agreement with ABL solidifies our strategic partnership for the future,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Space. “Having this assured access to space will accelerate our ability to demonstrate the spacecraft and associated payload technologies we are developing to the meet the future mission needs for our customers.”
“We designed RS1 with flexibility in mind. We can serve a wide array of missions from many different launch sites using RS1’s large payload capacity and deployable ground systems,” said Harry O’Hanley, CEO and co-founder of ABL. “We’re excited to support Lockheed Martin’s launches, providing a unique end-to-end capability to the most important U.S. space missions.”
ABL provides launch services with the RS1 launch vehicle and GS0 deployable launch system, which are both under development with funding from the U.S. Space Force. RS1 is capable of delivering up to 2,976 lbs (1,350 kg) to low Earth orbit. GS0 is a containerized system operable by a small team to rapidly launch RS1 from new sites in the U.S. and around the world.
Lockheed Martin is developing payload technologies to support a variety of mission areas, such as earth observation, global ubiquitous communications, climate monitoring and beyond.
“We believe that routine, dedicated access to space for small satellites is critical to achieving U.S. and allied civil and defense priorities,” said Dan Piemont, president and co-founder of ABL. “This major agreement will help ABL and Lockheed Martin accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation space systems over the decade to come.”
For additional information, visit our websites: www.lockheedmartin.com and https://ablspacesystems.com/. For downloadable imagery and video, visit ABL’s Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ablspacesystems/
Founded in 2017, ABL develops low-cost launch vehicles and launch systems for the small satellite industry. ABL is headquartered in El Segundo, California, U.S. (Source: PR Newswire)
06 Apr 21. Space must be a cornerstone of Australian defence. Satellites provide critical ISR and communications capabilities. Why is Australia determined to lag behind other nations with building a space industry? Few would disagree that space is one of the most important dimensions of modern warfare. A cornerstone of a nation’s communications and ISR capabilities; a robust, sturdy and aggressive space campaign can afford nations the opportunity to gain untold intelligence on one’s opposition while also destroying their ability to transmit information.
However, despite the huge benefits of a strong space program, Australia still lags behind the world and even its neighbours. Lloyd Damp, CEO and founder of Southern Launch, writing in ASPI’s The Strategist last week outlined that unlike Australia, our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific such as Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines have acknowledged the economic importance of a strong space industry. Meanwhile, Australia simply falls behind.
Damp demonstrates, worryingly for Australia, that Australia could even be eclipsed by New Zealand for the destination of choice for companies operating in the space industry who wish to expand into Oceania. This is due to an attractive regulatory framework that has already encouraged global investment into New Zealand. Our regional neighbours Japan, India and the Philippines have already acknowledged this, and actively begun strengthening their space markets.
Ultimately, unless Australia grasps this opportunity, the country will have exposed itself to economic and national security risk, Damp notes.
“Australia has a real opportunity to become the leading Indo-Pacific hub for space activity, as well as the world’s preferred location for space-launch services. The country and its capabilities are ideally positioned to play an innovative and significant role in the future global space economy.
“An essential ingredient to bring and sustain Australia in the global space market is a safe and reliable sovereign launch capability. First-class launch services will create enduring economic opportunities for the domestic market and will ensure Australia’s continued security and prosperity,” Damp continued.
As such, even the development of a sovereign launch industry will attract investment across the entire supply chain, helping to bolster Australia’s space industry. This sovereign industry is economically and strategically crucial, as events such as COVID determined that the world is not immune to macro-economic and global shocks. Damp notes that simply, in these situations, every country will prioritise their own industry partners.
An Australian launch capacity will also help build good will and soft-power throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Damp continues, “Partners and friendly Pacific nations could rely on Australia to launch their payloads when required. In return, Australia would strengthen its strategic partnerships, create opportunities for international collaboration and foreign investment, and develop a more resilient space industry in a region in which it needs to be able to shape outcomes.”
Australia has set itself an ambitious target concerning the space industry, but until the nation puts its foot on the accelerator, Australia will continue to be eclipsed by other state and non-state actors. This will continue to put Australia under economic and security risk, and put Australia at the mercy of global superpowers. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Apr 21. UK stands-up Space Command. The United Kingdom has stood up its new Space Command, with operations being formally launched on 1 April. First announced in November 2020 the Space Command will lead on UK space operations, space workforce generation in terms of training and growth, and space capability in delivering space equipment programmes.
In terms of its structure and how it fits in with the wider UK defence establishment, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has told Janes that this new Space Command is a joint unit under Royal Air Force (RAF) leadership. Space Command is located at RAF High Wycombe, which is also home to the National Air and Space Operations Centre (NASOC).
The standing up of Space Command follows warnings from the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who noted the increasing threat posed in the space domain by the country’s adversaries, adding that the UK needs to devote more resources to defending its critical space-based interests. “When deterrence has failed and political discourse has run its course, a future conflict may not start in space but I am in no doubt it will transition very quickly to space, and it may even be won or lost in space,” ACM Wigston earlier said.
In 2018 the RAF assumed command of all UK military space-based activities, taking over the role from Joint Forces Command (JFC), which is now known as Strategic Command (StratCom). At that time, it was noted that JFC (now StratCom) would continue to be responsible for satellite communications and space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). (Source: Jane’s)
31 Mar 21. Four Axelspace GRUS Attain Orbit. GRUS-1B, 1C, 1D, 1E are 100kg smallsats built for optical EO and constitute Axelspace’s “AxelGlobe” platform were successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on March 22, 2021 at 15:07 JST (06:07 UTC).
The company is currently conducting commissioning procedures to verify that all instruments and components onboard the satellites are working as expected.
This is the second launch for AxelGlobe after the successful deployment of GRUS-1A in December of 2018. Axelspace plans to officially start the service with 5 satellites by June 2021. This will increase the monitoring frequency from every two weeks to every couple of days and enable full-scale utilization in a wider range of industries and applications than ever before.
These smallsats will become part of the AxelGlobe Earth Observation System and this will be the second launch for the company, after the successful deployment of GRUS-1A in December of 2018. Launch Campaign Members in Axelspace hoodies have been working on final preparation for the launch. (Source: Satnews)
31 Mar 21. Solar Electric Propulsion System Hot Fire Testing Completed By Maxar + Busek. The PPE thruster system features the Maxar-built high-power control electronics (PPU-6000), a Moog-provided xenon feed system and four Busek-built BHT-6000 Hall effect thrusters. Together, this system is 30% more powerful than any SEP system previously flown by Maxar or Busek. These thrusters will later be combined with other, higher-power thrusters to complete the PPE’s 50kW electric propulsion system. The PPE will be the most powerful electric propulsion spacecraft ever flown.
The goal of this test campaign was to run multiple startups and shutdowns and numerous other flight-like scenarios to demonstrate that the thruster system is ready to transit Gateway around the moon. Successfully completed, this testing validated the dual-mode operation of the SEP string at 300 V/600 V and a variety of power levels, up to 6 kW and 600 V.
The PPE will provide power, maneuvering, attitude control and communications systems for the lunar orbiting outpost. Gateway is a foundational part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon and enable future crewed missions to Mars. The PPE is managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and Maxar is working on the program from its facilities in Palo Alto and San Jose, California. The end-to-end hot fire test was completed at Busek’s facilities in Natick, Massachusetts.
“Busek’s BHT-6000 electric thrusters offer high-power capabilities at a competitive price point and are a great fit for both our near-Earth and deep space programs,” said Robert Curbeam, Senior Vice President of Space Capture at Maxar. “The SEP systems we are evolving for PPE are a fantastic example of innovative commercial technology with great flight heritage being leveraged for NASA programs. We continue to make steady progress on the Power and Propulsion Element, with the next major milestone being the spacecraft Preliminary Design Review, which is targeted for later this year.”
“Busek is extremely proud to provide next-generation Hall thrusters for the Power and Propulsion Element. This will be the first time a crewed platform leverages electric propulsion technology. We applaud NASA’s commercial procurement approach to PPE and Maxar’s vision for the BHT-6000. While we may only play a small role in this historic Artemis program, this is an extremely important mission to our team and organization,” said Vlad Hruby, President and Founder of Busek. (Source: Satnews)
30 Mar 21. Leaf Space Enters MoU With LEOcloud To Develop Hybrid Cloud Environment. Since Leaf Space’s inception in 2014, the company has focused on developing robust ground station services and technology with the goal of creating the most efficient and valuable ground segment as-a-service (GSaaS) solutions available on the modern space market. The company has achieved great success working in partnership with more than 15 customers including Astrocast, D-Orbit, and the European Space Agency (ESA) to increase performance and availability of crucial data while simultaneously lowering costs and decreasing latency.
LEOcloud’s Space Edge mission and strategy is to bring hybrid cloud edge computing services as close as possible to the satellite-sourced data, or data collected from remote regions of the world. End users can then operate their business or mission critical services or applications in a seamless hybrid cloud environment, and realize the lowest latency possible for conversion from raw to monetized or actionable data. LEOcloud’s point and click approach for the end user will enable the reservation of dynamic and scalable virtual Space Edge computing resources, cloud services, and satellite data sources.
To deliver a seamless Space Edge hybrid cloud environment, LEOcloud will deploy Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s enterprise Kubernetes platform, that’s purpose-built for the age of hybrid innovation and delivers a consistent experience across all environments, including LEO. Red Hat OpenShift is optimized for developer productivity and innovation. With Red Hat OpenShift as the foundation, users will be able to run LEOcloud services across the entirety of the hybrid cloud, including at the edge, unlocking more speed, agility and flexibility.
The integration of Leaf Space and LEOcloud services will provide a seamless hybrid cloud environment where organizations can gain a competitive or operational advantage by reducing the latency for intelligent insight, decisions, and transactions with the highest assurance of security and availability for global commercial, government, and military customers.
“Through our collaboration with Leaf Space we can address a strong growth market for satellite sourced data that is intersecting with the promise of edge computing,” said Dennis R. Gatens, CEO and president of LEOcloud. “While LEOcloud’s focus today is on the Space Edge, our vision is to ultimately push the edge into space.”
“Having access to data from space assets quickly and reliably is absolutely critical to the success of space missions,” said Jonata Puglia, co-founder and CEO of Leaf Space group. “This new integration with LEOcloud further enhances Leaf Space’s ability to support satellite and launch operators with our industry leading GSaaS solutions. We are thrilled to be partnering with such a forward-thinking company like LEOcloud, that is truly on the bleeding edge of innovation in space.”
Leaf Space is pioneering the concept of ground segment as-a-service (GSaaS) for satellite and launch operators around the world. Leaf Space focuses on developing the highest quality ground station services and technology with the goal of creating the most efficient and valuable ground segment solutions available on the modern space market. Leaf Space is based in Lomazzo, Italy, with additional offices in the United States, and is funded by RedSeed Ventures, Whysol Investments and Primo Space.
LEOcloud believes the intersection of cloud and space will bring great benefit to commercial and government organizations. Our vision is to go beyond the integration of terrestrial cloud and space-based services, by bringing cloud services to the space edge and ultimately LEO in order for our customers to realize the lowest latency, highest availability and strongest security for their business or mission critical applications and services. LEOcloud has offices in the United States and Italy. (Source: Satnews)
30 Mar 21. A Euroconsult Report: Satellite B’band Market To Triple. To date, satellite broadband has enjoyed limited success. Suppliers such as Viasat of California, Hughes Network Systems and Paris-based Eutelsat have made some limited headway in supplying consumers and businesses from geo-stationary but numerically modest subscriber numbers. That’s about to change, reports research specialist company, Euroconsult.
Universal Broadband Access is Euroconsult’s first-ever report on satellite-based broadband and the firm forecasts that the global market for satellite broadband is expected to triple, with service revenues reaching $12.7bn by 2029.
The report makes superb reading for the likes of Elon Musk’s Starlink, the UK/India-backed OneWeb and other satellite-based suppliers of capacity.
“With 46 percent of the world’s population still unconnected, satellite broadband remains key to bringing essential services to sparsely populated regions where extending terrestrial networks is not economically feasible,” stated the report.
Euroconsult compares and contrasts the current terrestrial and wireless penetration, saying that “significant progress has been made to expand access and adoption of broadband services as demonstrated by the growth in internet users, which doubled between 2010 and 2020, to just over 4 billion users worldwide in 2020. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of universal broadband access and accelerated efforts towards bridging the divide between those with high-speed broadband access and those without connectivity.”
“Organizations such as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development set targets to encourage governments to invest in programs that contribute to bridging the digital divide,” said Dimitri Buchs, Senior Consultant at Euroconsult. “Overall, the broadband ecosystem will be central to building the post COVID-19 world, notably by making sure universal equitable access to broadband services is part of the new normal. We have a long way to go to achieve this, but satellite will be key to reaching many who are currently unserved or underserved.”
Euroconsult reports there are three key categories of satellite solutions that address the Universal Broadband market. They include: consumer broadband, WiFi hotspots and cellular backhaul. Consumer broadband is currently the dominant option in advanced economies, while Wi-Fi hotspots are most frequently used in less developed regions, notably due to the lower cost of services and the ability to share costs among a large number of users.
The Euroconsult research found that in 2020, 43 million people were connected to broadband via satellite, roughly one percent of the world’s connected population. This number is expected to grow to 110 million in 2029, with Latin America adding roughly 20 million users and Sub-Saharan Africa adding 16 million. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.