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12 Jul 18. RAF shakes up air and space intelligence. The RAF has announced that it is to establish a multi-domain air and space operations service – under the umbrella Group 11 – which will be integrated into the UK’s existing national air and space operations centre at RAF High Wycombe. Making the announcement at the Air Power Association’s annual conference on 11 July, Air Chf Mshl Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, said that the new service would enable new intelligence and information capabilities to be created, allowing ‘faster and better operational decision-making’ for the UK and its international allies – across air, space and cyber domains.
“The capabilities and units within this new group have not always been given ‘numbered’ status within the RAF. That will change too, to reinforce that they are now firmly at the core of RAF capability – as vital to our next generation capability as, say, a Voyager or a Puma squadron,” Hillier explained.
The move gives a firm indication of the changing direction of the RAF and its commitment to prioritising a joined up strategy – an approach that hasn’t always been identifiable.
“Many air forces already make clear in their doctrine that command and control is a key tenet of air and space power. Surprisingly, the RAF has not done so to date,” Hillier said. “We are going to change that. From now on, air and space command and control will sit alongside control of the air, precision strike, ISTAR and air mobility as the fifth pillar of the RAF’s fundamental roles and all that means for capability management.”
No further details about costs, training or date of the group’s introduction were provided by Hillier however. (Source: Shephard)
12 Jul 18. Civil satellites – challenge or opportunity for military? The every day accessibility of satellite technology is moving at such a rapid rate it is likely to have profound effects on security measures both now and in the future for militaries and air power operations. Speaking from a civil perspective, the general public has access unwittingly and wittingly to satellite communications throughout their day to day lives from GPS to communication technologies. What this raises in a wider context is that the rapid development of SATCOM technology is making it economical, freely available and, in some instances, engaging across the public and private spheres. This is an issue which military commanders need to consider more and more as terrains and enhanced 4D maps become visible in the public forum. Military leaders to be increasingly cognisant to the data availability and its application by groups. How this data is used is the next challenge for commercial companies but perhaps also for the military. If data and information is widely available there is a recognition that terrorist cells and militant groups also have the same accessibility. Addressing delegates at the Air Power Conference on 12 July, Paul Monks, pro-vice chancellor and head of the college of science and engineering at Leicester University, noted the role of satellites and the democratisation of the information they present.
In a civil context, Monks said: “We have a critical infrastructure of satellites flying around the earth.”
Currently interface platforms like Google Earth are static imagery but in time satellites will be able to create movies, Monks noted.
“In terms of satellite imaging is the ability to make movies from space… We [will] move away from that static Google Earth image of the earth and we [will] move to one that gives us that fourth dimension. We now have time of target – we can take two minutes of very high-resolution data and we can do full colour motion video, we can do high frame rate acquisition.”
Thus, in the civil domain imagery is now becoming more dynamic and there is freedom in gathering this data over the Internet; therefore military operators and industry will need to meet these challenges in the near future. Whilst this type of advancement is a challenge it can clearly be seen as an opportunity for commanders with tight budgets, especially when it is considered that the cost of launching satellites into the atmosphere has economically reduced. These images as developed as they become will provide key intelligence to militaries but whether the advancements are experienced by the forces before the commercial market looks to be unlikely and this is a challenge for key military decision-makers in the immediate future.
“From the civil side of the fence is what I would call the democratisation of space… The cost is rapidly falling of going into space. The cost of launches is reducing…. Hardware is getting smaller, smarter and cheaper. While it use to cost a €1bn (1.17bn) to get into space, you can now launch a satellite from £200,000 ($264,000) and that all provides interesting challenges for the next-generation of data – it makes the commercial exploitation of space a real possibility,” Monks said. (Source: Shephard)
11 Jul 18. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has embraced a 3-D printed titanium dome for satellite fuel tanks so big you can’t even put your arms around it. The 46-inch- (1.16-meter-) diameter vessel completed final rounds of quality testing this month, ending a multi-year development program to create giant, high-pressure tanks that carry fuel on board satellites. The titanium tank consists of three parts welded together: two 3-D printed domes that serve as caps, plus a variable-length, traditionally-manufactured titanium cylinder that forms the body.
“Our largest 3-D printed parts to date show we’re committed to a future where we produce satellites twice as fast and at half the cost,” said Rick Ambrose, Lockheed Martin Space executive vice president. “And we’re pushing forward for even better results. For example, we shaved off 87 percent of the schedule to build the domes, reducing the total delivery timeline from two years to three months.”
Satellite fuel tanks must be both strong and lightweight to withstand the rigors of launch and decade-long missions in the vacuum of space. That makes titanium an ideal material, but procuring 4-foot-diameter, 4-inch-thick titanium forgings can take a year or more, making them the most challenging and expensive parts of the tank. Traditional manufacturing techniques also meant that more than 80 percent of the material went to waste. Now, 3-D printing eliminates all that lost material for the domes, and the titanium used for printing is readily available with no wait time.
“We self-funded this design and qualification effort as an investment in helping our customers move faster and save costs,” explained Ambrose. “These tanks are part of a total transformation in the way we design and deliver space technology. We’re making great strides in automation, virtual reality design and commonality across our satellite product line. Our customers want greater speed and value without sacrificing capability in orbit, and we’re answering the call.”
Even the smallest leak or flaw could be catastrophic for a satellite’s operations, so Lockheed Martin engineers went to great lengths to ensure the printed tanks meet or exceed the performance and reliability required by NASA. Engineers and technicians rigorously evaluated the structure, conducting a full suite of tests to demonstrate high tolerances and repeatability. The tank domes are a leap in size for qualified 3-D printed materials. The largest part previously qualified was a toaster-size electronics enclosure for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program. Lockheed Martin’s recent accomplishment continues a path of 3-D printed parts that bloomed in recent years. Since the company launched the first ever printed parts into deep space aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, it has produced thousands of flight components and even more for tooling and prototyping using a variety of metals and composites. Technicians used Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing® to produce these domes in the largest 3-D printer at our facility in Denver. Lockheed Martin now offers the tank as a standard product option for LM 2100 satellite buses.
05 Jul 18. Inmarsat and Addvalue’s IDRS Offers Satellite Constellations Continuous Communications. A handshake and an agreement with Inmarsat and flight hardware manufacturer Addvalue, together with a leading satellite operator, will streamline the way that commercial and research operations for small, satellites are conducted. The agreement will allow spacecraft to stay in continuous communications with their operation center on the ground, thereby enabling mission tasking and mission data delivery in near real-time. This will be the first constellation of Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS™) equipped satellites, one that will provide a momentous capability for satellite operators. Addvalue has worked with Inmarsat to develop a terminal suitable for deployment on a wide range of satellites, even down to small satellites within the sub-50 kg class. Previously, Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite connectivity has been limited to when the spacecraft is within line-of-sight of a ground station. This delays in-orbit testing, mission control and fault-finding efforts. With IDRS on-board, satellite operators will have access to on-demand, 24/7, near real-time, two-way IP-based links to all of their assets. This will allow them to respond to customer requirements and to operational anomalies in a timelier manner. The Addvalue terminal on board the satellite will communicate to its operations center via Inmarsat’s global network. The geostationary network is suited to delivering IDRS — a cost effective, low-latency, on-demand data communications system — to support commercial and scientific missions. The combination of lightweight and small form factor on-board equipment plus low cost makes the system ideal for carrying out telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) communications and mission tasking, receiving mission data monitoring, trouble-shooting and restoring operations. Todd McDonell, Vice President of Global Government at Inmarsat, said that this service enables the constellation to be controlled and to transfer mission data via Inmarsat’s global geostationary satellite communications network, wherever and whenever required. This will help Low Earth Orbit satellite operators to achieve their mission more effectively and will broaden the capability that they will be able to offer their users. What’s even more exciting is that this is only the first of a set of potential commercial and research missions appropriate for the IDRS service. Dr. Colin Chan, Chairman and CEO of Addvalue, commented that they are truly pleased to announce the signing of their first IDRS contract with a satellite operator. They believe their customer’s use of IDRS, with its unrivalled communications capability, will significantly improve the operational efficiency of their multi-satellite Low Orbit Earth constellation. This contract recognizes the unique value of IDRS and they strongly believe IDRS will disrupt the way future commercial and research satellite constellations are operated. They are fully committed to ensuring its successful delivery as they pursue other IDRS projects and grow their IDRS customer base. Indeed, some of these projects are already in an advanced stage of discussion. (Source: Satnews)
02 Jul 18. Solar Sail for Smallsats Tested by NASA. NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, a smallsat designed to study asteroids close to Earth, performed a successful deployment test on June 28 of the solar sail that will launch on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) — the test was performed in an indoor clean room at the NeXolve facility in Huntsville, Alabama. NEA Scout is a six-unit cubesat that relies on an innovative solar sail for propulsion. It is one of 13 secondary science payloads NASA selected to fly on EM-1. The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, EM-1 will be the first integrated test of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, NASA’s Orion spacecraft and the newly upgraded Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In addition to testing these integrated systems, this first flight will also provide the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, conducting science missions and testing key technologies beyond LEO. NEA Scout will deploy from the rocket after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. When deployed, the sail, which is square in shape, with each side about the length of a school bus, will harness the light of the sun to use as propulsion to move through space. Instead of wind, solar sails reflect sunlight for thrust, minimizing the need for fuel. This method reduces the size and weight of the spacecraft, thereby resulting in cost savings. The NEA Scout solar sail will deploy from the spacecraft using four arms — called booms — to hold the sail, much like a sail on a ship. After deployment, the satellite will travel to and fly-by an asteroid, taking photographic data that will help scientists better understand not only the asteroid itself, but the risks and challenges that future human exploration missions may encounter. Solar sails can’t run out of fuel as long as the sun shines, allowing them to propel spacecraft farther and faster than some traditional propulsion technologies. Spacecraft like NEA Scout are the next step towards larger and more capable solar sails that can take our science instruments farther into the solar system, enabling new science and exploration missions. NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems manages NEA Scout with the team led at Marshall with support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. AES infuses new technologies developed by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and partners with the Science Mission Directorate to address the unknowns and mitigate risks for crews and systems during future human exploration missions. Joe Matus, NEA Scout project manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, reported that developing a sail to harness the sun’s energy to fly through space was once thought impossible. Just in this decade, innovation and progress as been seen on this promising technology and NEA Scout is another step to using solar sails to explore the solar system. This team has worked really hard to make this technology a reality, and knowing that the sail that was just tested will be the actual sail that propels NEA Scout through space is exciting, and a testament to the knowledge and capabilities of the team. Tiffany Lockett, NEA Scout project system engineer at Marshall, added that over the last couple of tests, improvements were completed to the spacecraft’s sail deployment system. This test is the first and only time the sail will be deployed before it flies on EM-1, so the team had to make sure the system will work correctly. The test data is being analyzed to make certain the deployment system worked as expected, before final assembly into the spacecraft and delivery for launch. (Source: Satnews)
02 Jul 18. U.S.M.C. Adds the MV-22 Osprey to Networking On The Move Systems Family. US Marine Corps Systems Command is enhancing Marines’ ability to communicate in the air with a new iteration of Networking On-the-Move, or NOTM. In May 2015, the first NOTM-Airborne Increment I (also known as the Hatch-Mounted Satellite Communication Antenna System) was fielded to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces. It provides embarked ground personnel real-time access to networks during airborne operations aboard KC-130 aircraft. The capability enabled mission commanders to conduct en route planning and execution across several types of missions. Building upon that success, the Marine Corps directed MCSC to build the NOTM-Airborne Increment II System, or NOTM-A Inc. II, and install it on the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. In June, the first of the systems was fielded to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“It can take hours to fly to a location to complete a mission, and during that time, the situation on the ground can change significantly,” said Chris Wagner, NOTM lead engineer in MCSC’s Command Element Systems. “The NOTM capability provides Marines with real time command, control and collaborative mission planning while airborne.”
As a joint effort, Naval Air Systems Command and MCSC had to modify the Osprey in order for a NOTM-A Inc. II System to be installed and operated. This involved modifications such as replacing the rear overhead hatch, installing a SATCOM radome, and installing system interface cables. Mission ready, the system is capable of providing communications access for up to five users, including networks, voice, email, video and text.
“This system provides accurate and up-to-date en route information, which is critical for mission accomplishment and force protection,” said Lt. Col. Devin Licklider, program manager of Command and Control Systems, PfM CES, MCSC. “If the situation on the ground changes, we can get updates to the Common Operating Picture, from reconnaissance assets to the commander enabling mission changes while en route.”
Testing took place November through December of 2017 at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland. This included extensive ground testing to ensure the system did not interfere with other aircraft systems, and Marines practiced installing and removing NOTM from the MV-22, Wagner said. Additionally, all components were subjected to numerous environmental, electromagnetic interference and safety testing to ensure they did not smoke, burn or explode. Once the system is configured, it’s easy to use because all Marines have to do is turn it on, wait about 10 minutes, and they are on the network, program officials said.
“During testing, Marines were very pleased with the ability to access communications networks while in the air,” said Wagner.
“Additional testing will take place at Patuxent River later this year,and users will link up the Inc. II System with other C2 systems after it is installed on the MV-22 Osprey. There are also plans to add a secure tactical WiFi capability to replace the use of cables on the aircraft, which has never been done before.” Wagner said.
Marine Expeditionary Forces I and II will receive the NOTM-A Inc. II System when fielding continues in 2019.
“This capability will absolutely save lives,” said Licklider. “It offers Marines a reliable command and control tool for long-range missions to ensure they can reduce unknown variables, utilize alternate landing zones or abort missions if necessary.” (Source: Satnews)
02 Jul 18. Baylin Acquires Alga Microwave, Strategic Growth and Management Included. Baylin Technologies Inc. (TSX: BYL) (the “Company” or “Baylin”) today announced that it has entered into a share purchase agreement (the “Share Purchase Agreement”) to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Alga Microwave Inc. (“Alga”) for total consideration of $27m, consisting of up-front cash consideration of $21m, $4m in Baylin shares and $2m in deferred consideration, as well as a related agreement to purchase Alga’s operational facilities in Kirkland, Quebec (the “Acquisition”).
“The addition of Alga is synergistic with our recent acquisition of Advantech, helping us to further expand our rapidly growing radio frequency and microwave components business. Alga’s new state-of-the-art facility, situated closely to Advantech, will set the stage for a robust platform for future growth” said Randy Dewey, Baylin’s President and CEO. He continued, “We look forward to working with the team at Alga to incorporate their top-of-the-line products into Baylin’s broad offering to provide the best experience for our customers.”
“As a market leader in radio frequency and microwave, we are a natural fit in helping Baylin achieve its vision of becoming the frontrunner in data transmission. We are very excited to be able to bring our deep sector expertise and best-in-class product development capabilities to Baylin to help drive growth and profitability in the satellite connectivity segment. Alga will be able to leverage Baylin’s world-class sales force and relationships with tier-one customers to expand the reach of our products,” said Michael Perelshtein, Alga’s CEO.
“This acquisition is a key strategic move that is expected to benefit both operations in a significant way. Alga’s modern factory and precision machining capability will allow us to control more of the supply chain and provide for rapid product development. Additionally, Alga brings extensive high frequency passive microwave component capability expanding our addressable markets. Bringing together both Advantech’s broad portfolio, sales and marketing channels along with Alga’s manufacturing efficiencies, products and passive capabilities will allow us to address a wider more diversified market and provide our customers with broader networking solutions,” added John Restivo, President, Advantech.
Baylin is to purchase all of the outstanding shares of Alga, through a newly incorporated subsidiary, for up-front consideration of $25.0m (the “Share Purchase Price”), subject to customary adjustments. The Share Purchase Price will be satisfied by the payment of $21.0m in cash and $4.0m in common shares in the capital of the Company (“Common Shares”) at a price of $3.40 per share. The vendors may also receive up to an additional $2.0m in earn-out payments if certain criteria are met over the two year period post-closing of the Acquisition. Alga is a market leader in the engineering, design and development of radio frequency and microwave components, and a leading supplier of radio frequency and microwave solid state power amplifiers, pulsed amplifiers for radar applications, transmitter and transceiver products as well as radio frequency passive components and systems. Alga enjoys a fast development cycle for its products, which has been a key success factor. Alga’s product offering covers all major frequency standards.
Expected benefits of the Acquisition for Baylin include:
- Strategic acquisition expected to generate revenue and cost synergies
- Enhanceses one of Baylin’s faster growing segments, Satellite Connectivity Products
- The Acquisition represents a unique and strategic opportunity to expand its radio frequency and microwave components business, which the Company entered into with its acquisition of assets from Advantech Wireless Inc. (“Advantech”) in January 2018.
- Expected to be accretive to 2018 earnings per share
- Immediatte cost savings identified
- Alga’s principals to take on executive positions at Baylin, adding further depth and experience
- Michael Perelshtein, President and CEO of Alga to take on role of Chief Operating Officer of Alga, with oversight of both Advantech and Alga operations. Michael spent the majority of his career at Alga, and has previous work experience at Wavesat Telecom and C-Mac / Selectron. Michael holds countless relationships with OEMs and has significant business development experience.
- Frank Panarello, COO of Alga to take on role Vice President Operations of Alga, with oversight of both Advantech and Alga operations. Frank is an experienced operations and finance professional who has a decade of experience at Alga and previously worked at Nortel Networks.
In connection with the closing of the Acquisition, Baylin has also agreed to acquire the facility in which the operations of Alga are located in Kirkland, Quebec for a total purchase price of $6.2m. The closing of the Acquisition is subject to a number of closing conditions including the approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) and is expected to close on or about July 16, 2018. (Source: Satnews)
04 Jul 18. NSSLGlobal Completes Their Acquisition of Marine Electronics Solutions Ltd. NSSLGlobal has acquired the remaining 49 percent stake in Marine Electronics Solutions Ltd. (trading as UK Electronic Solutions), a specialist in installation, maintenance, supply and development of communication and navigation products and solutions for the maritime, government, offshore renewables and oil & gas sectors. The full acquisition and integration of UK Electronic Solutions into the NSSLGlobal Group will further strengthen NSSLGlobal’s presence in the North East of the United Kingdom. Based on the doorstep of the North Sea where the U.K. wind renewable industry is dramatically expanding, and the oil & gas industry is on the positive upturn, this acquisition reflects how much NSSLGlobal values these two market sectors and the potential business which they will bring to the NSSLGlobal Group. Marine system integration and technical solutions within NSSLGlobal will continue to be strengthened by UK Electronic Solutions’ existing in-house marine technical development engineers who designed and developed “Oceanic Dynamics,” a portable yet all-encompassing motion and impact monitoring system designed to give vessel operators tailored reporting on how both their vessel(s) and crew are performing, and these solutions will in turn be integrated within the NSSLGlobal insight suite of management control applications. As part of the acquisition, Paul Rutherford, previously the managing director of UK Electronic Solutions Ltd. will become Director of Service Engineering for the UK division of NSSLGlobal.
Sally-Anne Ray, Group CEO of NSSLGlobal, said that for the company this is a logical next step in the firm’s long-lasting and well-proven partnership with UK Electronic Solutions. In addition increasing NSSLGlobal’s service engineering capability with an additional team of highly skilled and customer focused system & service engineers, the company will further strengthen its service and support and marine expertise throughout the UK, and the North Sea region, which is strategically important for our activities in the UK, Germany, Denmark and Norway.
Paul Rutherford added that NSSLGlobal and UK Electronics Solutions have already enjoyed strong cooperation on service, products and solution development, and the full integration of UK Electronic Solutions into the NSSLGlobal Group made obvious sense to both companies in order to strengthen the company’s UK technical service and solutions development base in the United Kingdom. (Source: Satnews)
02 Jul 18. Inmarsat, IDRS, Addvalue and Smallsats. An agreement signed by Inmarsat and flight hardware manufacturer Addvalue, together with a leading satellite operator, is set to streamline the way that commercial and research operations for small, near earth orbit satellites are conducted. The agreement will allow spacecraft to stay in continuous communications with their operation center on the ground, thereby enabling mission tasking and mission data delivery in near real time. It heralds the first constellation of Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) equipped satellites, one that will provide a game-changing capability for satellite operators. Previously, LEO satellite connectivity has been limited to when the spacecraft is within line-of-sight of a ground station. This delays on orbit testing, mission control and fault-finding efforts. With IDRS on-board, satellite operators will have access to on-demand, 24/7, near real-time, two-way IP-based links to all of their assets. This will allow them to respond to customer requirements and to operational anomalies in a timelier manner. Addvalue has worked with Inmarsat to develop a terminal suitable for deployment on a wide range of satellites, even down to small satellites within the sub-50 kg class. The Addvalue terminal on board the satellite will communicate to its operations center via Inmarsat’s award-winning global network. The highly reliable geostationary network is uniquely suited to delivering IDRS — a cost effective, low-latency, on-demand data communications system — to support commercial and scientific missions. The combination of lightweight and small form factor on-board equipment plus low cost makes the system ideal for carrying out telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) communications and mission tasking, receiving mission data monitoring, trouble-shooting and restoring operations.
Todd McDonell, Vice President of Global Government at Inmarsat, said that this service enables the constellation to be controlled and to transfer mission data via Inmarsat’s global geostationary satellite communications network, wherever and whenever required. This will help low earth orbit satellite operators to achieve their mission more effectively and will broaden the capability that they will be able to offer their users. What’s even more exciting is that this is only the first of a set of potential commercial and research missions appropriate for the IDRS service.
Dr. Colin Chan, Chairman and CEO of Addvalue, commented that his company believes the customer’s use of IDRS, with its unrivalled communications capability, will significantly improve the operational efficiency of their multi-satellite low orbit earth constellation.This contract recognizes the unique value of IDRS and Addvalue strongly believe IDRS will disrupt the way future commercial and research satellite constellations are operated. (Source: Satnews)
09 Jul 18. China launches two satellites for Pakistan. China launched two satellites for Pakistan on a Long March-2C rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 11:56 a.m. Monday. The PRSS-1 is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan and the 17th satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer. A scientific experiment satellite, PakTES-1A, developed by Pakistan, was sent into orbit via the same rocket. This is another space cooperation between China and Pakistan since the launch of PAKSAT-1R, a communication satellite, in August 2011. The PRSS-1 will be used for land and resources surveying, monitoring of natural disasters, agriculture research, urban construction and providing remote sensing information for the Belt and Road region. Monday’s launch is the 279th mission of the Long March rocket series. (Source: News Now/china.org.cn)
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