27 May 21. Viasat Demonstrated High-Capability Expeditionary Communications at Recent Naval Technology Exercise. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, showcased its ability to enable resilient and tactical cloud-based communications during the Naval Integration in Contested Environments (NICE) Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) from April 5-15, 2021, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The NICE ANTX event, led by the Naval Research & Development Enterprise (NR&DE), invited organizations from across industry, academia and government R&D to demonstrate emerging technologies that could be leveraged by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps in support of Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) and Littoral Operations in Contested Environments (LOCE). During the exercise, Viasat proved methods to increase network capacity and resilience at the tactical edge, improving Situational Awareness (SA) and enabling advanced battlespace applications. Viasat demonstrated its ability to:
* Enable secure ship-to-shore communications in a littoral environment;
* Rapidly employ and manage agile communication nodes at all echelons, allowing access to the tactical cloud;
* Enable Electronic Warfare Operations across distributed systems with Office of Naval Research ENDOR Future Naval Capability (FNC) and Viasat NetAgility™;
* Provide dismounted leaders access to information and networks critical to maintain situational awareness; and
* Implement an automated Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency (PACE) plan for increased resiliency, transport bonding orchestration, and management across all network nodes
“The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps understand the importance of exploring technological innovations that can support critical operations in difficult contested environments,” said Craig Miller, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “At NICE ANTX, we demonstrated a diverse set of communication advancements—in an environment of emerging cyber and electronic warfare threats—and augmented existing military communication networks, tailored command and control capabilities at the tactical edge and provided advanced methods to deliver reliable, uninterrupted broadband connectivity through an enhanced on-the-move communications platform.”
Viasat demonstrated resilient ship-to-shore communications leveraging its Expeditionary Lightweight Integrated Tactical Edge (ELITE) kit and its roll-on/roll-off prototype G-18 Ku/Ka-band antenna to provide assured, satellite communications-on-the-move capability for maritime and ground-based platforms, allowing a commander to tailor their command and control (C2) capabilities to the mobility needs of the operation. Viasat also showed its NetAgility™ Mobile Software Defined Networking (SDN) router, enabling greater resiliency by bonding and aggregating multiple communication pathways for automated traffic routing from the Tactical Operations Center to Small Form Factor sensor integration. Finally, Viasat showcased the C2 gateway capabilities of the ELITE kit by simulating Link 16 tracks and disseminating them across all nodes in the network and to all dismounted warfighters via multiple Direct Line of Sight (DLOS) radio links.
28 May 21. UK space sector wins over £2m to help develop options for a national position, navigation and timing space system. 6 UK businesses have won a share of over £2m in government funding to help shape options for the UK’s satellite navigation and timing capability, to protect UK Critical National Infrastructure. Leading UK space companies Airbus, CGI, Sirrus Analysis, GMV NSL, Inmarsat, and QinetiQ will each receive a share of the funding to help develop system design and operation, signals and algorithms, resilience, assurance, and cost modelling for the UK Space Agency’s Space Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Programme (SBPP).
UK Space Agency deputy CEO Ian Annett said, “The UK is critically dependent on position, navigation and timing information from satellite navigation systems in transport, communications, energy distribution, and emergency response. This initial funding will help us design options for a new system to support our critical national infrastructure, whilst growing the space sector, boosting economic growth and making daily life more secure for people everywhere in the UK.”
Satellite navigation is a sophisticated technology that works by beaming signals from space that devices such as smartphones can use to determine their location and time – otherwise known as position, navigation and timing (PNT).
PNT services from satellite navigation systems are essential to modern day life in the UK, underpinning our National Security, defence, and transport. PNT signals are also an important component of future technologies including autonomous vehicles and smart cities, transforming the way people live, work and travel whilst supporting the net zero carbon emissions agenda.
Formed in October 2020, the Space Based PNT programme is exploring innovative ways of bringing a space PNT capability to the UK. Later this year it will advise on options to Government for a space-based solution to improve the UK’s PNT resilience.
Work from the programme will boost the UK’s already thriving space industry and expertise whilst paving the way for a more ’Global Britain’, bolstering UK interests with greater independence from foreign systems.
26 May 21. Consortium to develop satellite prototype for disaster relief, 5G. OneWeb is leading a consortium of space industry businesses for the development and delivery of a prototype ‘beam-hopping’ satellite.
Internet and satellite communications provider OneWeb is leading a consortium of UK-based space businesses to create a beam-hopping satellite which will allow satellites to bolster coverage in areas with greater demand, and even respond to events such as natural disasters.
The research was supported by the UK Space Agency with £32m in funding, which forms part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sunrise Program.
It is hoped that the consortium will be able to develop a prototype satellite by 2022, with the concept dubbed as the “Joey-Sat”.
UK Minister for Science Amanda Solloway outlined that the new development will bolster the UK’s ability to respond to disaster relief scenarios as well as providing critical civilian infrastructure.
“From helping during a disaster to providing broadband on planes, this amazing technology will show how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit all of us on Earth,” Minister Solloway said.
“It is fantastic to see some of our finest space tech companies joining forces on this exciting project which will put the UK at the forefront of satellite communications technology.”
Chief technical officer at OneWeb Massimiliano Ladovaz welcomed the opportunity to partner with other technology providers for the satellite.
“Innovation and collaboration are at the core of OneWeb. Working together with our partners, Oneweb will accelerate the development and expansion of our cutting-edge technologies and manufacturing capabilities for the benefit of communities, enterprise and governments around the world,” Ladovaz commented.
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with talented potential supply chain partners, and we are delighted with the support from ESA and the UK Space Agency to bring continued innovation across the whole of OneWeb’s connectivity ecosystem.”
Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at the ESA, welcomed the opportunity to support the growth of 5G connectivity.
“Joey-Sat will be used to demonstrate how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit life on Earth. ESA is proud to support the space industry in Europe to bring such innovation to the competitive global telecommunications market. We congratulate all the partners involved,” Viau said. (Source: Space Connect)
26 May 21. Isotropic Systems secures UK Space Agency, ESA support. UK-based Isotropic Systems confirmed that it has received support from the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency to develop satellite communications capabilities. Broadband terminal developer Isotropic Systems confirmed that the company has been the recipient of funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Space Agency to support the ongoing innovation of their satellite communications capabilities.
Under the announcement, Isotropic will receive €18.5m from the UK Space Agency, which is expected to support funding via the ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program.
The announcement comes following the company’s successful $40m capital raising from SES, Orbital Ventures, Boeing HorizonX Global Ventures, Space Angels, firmament Ventures and the UK government’s Future Fund.
It is hoped that the funding will support a new research facility in Reading, with another 150 jobs being created.
According to a statement released by the company, the Isotropic is already engaged with British space businesses such as QintetiQ, Statellite Applications Catapult and Innovate UK.
John Finney, chief executive officer of Isotropic Systems welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with the UK Space Agency and ESA.
“This important milestone contract with ESA demonstrates the potential of our revolutionary terminals and will secure our role in the near-term growth of the UK and global space market. The level of support, expertise and technical oversight we receive from ESA, along with our recent fundraising, will enable us to scale our business to plan and help solve the world’s connectivity challenges across a range of applications and industries,” Finney said.
Domenico Mignolo, the ESA’s head of ground user segment technologies and products, expressed the importance of supporting small and medium enterprises within the space industry.
“The contract signed with Isotropic Systems demonstrates that ARTES Competitiveness & Growth really supports SME’s ambitious plans to turn disruptive technologies into products for the satcom market,” Mignolo said.
The head of telecommunications strategy at the UK Space Agency, Michael Rudd, outlined that these programs support the ongoing growth and development of the country’s nascent space industry.
“This ARTES-program contract with Isotropic Systems is an exciting catalyst for growth and innovation, not only for a new generation of disruptive and transformational connectivity terminals, but also high-value technology jobs supporting the growing UK space sector,” Rudd said.
“The UK’s ambitions to grow our space sector will be realised, in a large part, thanks to incredibly innovative UK-based firms like Isotropic Systems.”
Minister for Science Amanda Solloway outlined that not only do these advancements support British businesses, but also create beneficial technology.
“The UK space sector is thriving, and with connectivity never having been more important, it’s vital we support pioneering companies like Isotropic Systems who are tapping into the benefits that space technology can bring us all on Earth. Backed by UK government, these new multi-beam antennas will improve connectivity for us all at home, and for emerging technologies such as driverless cars, while helping to create 150 highly skilled UK jobs as we build back better,” Minister Solloway said. (Source: Space Connect)
26 May 21. USAF Research Laboratory opens new space war-fighting facility. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate recently opened a space research and development lab at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The $12.8m Space Warfighting Operations Research and Development, or SWORD, lab will be used to track objects on orbit, advance satellite cybersecurity, and develop autonomous capabilities to help space vehicles avoid each other and space debris, Col. Eric Felt, the head of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, said in an announcement Tuesday.
“One of the reasons we stood up the U.S. Space Force was to ensure our nation has the capabilities to deter any threats in space,” Felt said. “Our job in the SWORD lab will be to continue to develop resilient and innovative technologies that will protect our nation and allies from threats by our adversaries. Recognizing that space is an emerging domain for warfighting, we want to make sure there is never a war in space.”
The 26,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the home of 65 personnel from AFRL’s Space Control Branch.
“This is a laboratory for the nation, for AFRL and the Air and Space Forces where new partnerships will be enabled,” Felt said. “We want to bring people together to ensure we will continue to deliver innovation to the nation.”
The new facility continues AFRL’s development of new infrastructure at Kirtland Air Force Base dedicated to space. In October 2020, AFRL opened the Deployable Structures Laboratory, or DeSel. That $4m lab hosts the Spacecraft Component Technology Center of Excellence to develop materials for new deployable space structures. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
26 May 21. Lockheed Martin, General Motors Team-up to Develop Next-Generation Lunar Rover for NASA Artemis Astronauts to Explore the Moon. Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] and General Motors Co. [NYSE: GM] are teaming up to develop the next generation of lunar vehicles to transport astronauts on the surface of the Moon, fundamentally evolving and expanding humanity’s deep-space exploration footprint. NASA’s Artemis program is sending humans back to the Moon where they will explore and conduct scientific experiments using a variety of rovers. NASA sought industry approaches to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) that will enable astronauts to explore the lunar surface farther than ever before. The LTV is the first of many types of surface mobility vehicles needed for NASA’s Artemis program.
To support NASA’s mission, the two industry leaders will develop a unique vehicle with innovative capabilities, drawing on their unparalleled engineering, performance, technology and reliability legacies. The result may allow astronauts to explore the lunar surface in unprecedented fashion and support discovery in places where humans have never gone before.
Lockheed Martin will lead the team by leveraging its more than 50-year-history of working with NASA on deep-space human and robotic spacecraft, such as NASA’s Orion exploration-class spaceship for Artemis and numerous Mars and planetary spacecraft.
“This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. “Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”
GM is a leader in battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems that are central to its multi-brand, multi-segment electric vehicle strategy, positioning the company for an all-electric future. Additionally, GM will use autonomous technology to facilitate safer and more efficient operations on the Moon.
“General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon,” said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors. “Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again.”
GM has a proven history of supporting NASA and working within the space industry. The company manufactured, tested and integrated the inertial guidance and navigation systems for the entire Apollo Moon program, including Apollo 11 and the first human landing in 1969. GM also helped develop the electric Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), including the chassis and wheels for the LRV that was used on Apollo’s 15-17 missions.
Unlike the Apollo rovers that only traveled 4.7 miles (7.6 kilometers) from the landing site, the next-generation lunar vehicles are being designed to traverse significantly farther distances to support the first excursions of the Moon’s south pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain.
Autonomous, self-driving systems will allow the rovers to prepare for human landings, provide commercial payload services, and enhance the range and utility of scientific payloads and experiments.
26 May 21. Lynred’s NGP infrared detector to fly on Copernicus CO2M satellite mission. Thales Alenia Space selects Lynred’s large SWIR detector, NGP (Next-Generation Panchromatic), to enable its spectral imager to cover a high number of wavelengths of interest, as well as a large swath, for major Earth observation satellite mission. Lynred, a leading global provider of high-quality infrared detectors for the aerospace, defense and commercial markets, today announces that Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has contracted it to supply its large shortwave infrared (SWIR) detector, NGP (Next-Generation Panchromatic), for the CO2M mission, as part of Europe’s Copernicus program. Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and a cornerstone of the European Space Agency (ESA) activities in the field as well.
Thales Alenia Space – contracted by OHB System, the prime contractor of the CO2M (Carbon Dioxide Monitoring) project – will integrate Lynred’s NGP SWIR detector in a spectral imager instrument. The spectral imager is designed to measure the quantity of CO2 gas in the Earth’s atmosphere generated by human activity. As part of the payload, Lynred will participate in playing a key role in studying the causes of climate change and monitoring it.
“Thales Alenia Space has a long track of record of using Lynred infrared technology and detectors in space projects. Given its space heritage and the availability of the NGP detector, Lynred was the logical choice for the CO2M project,” said Jean-Philippe Fayret, CO2M instrument project director at Thales Alenia Space.
Previous space project contracts Thales Alenia Space has awarded Lynred include the MTG FCI (Flexible Combined Imager) and the MTG IRS (Infrared Sounder).
“Lynred is honored and excited to once more collaborate with Thales Alenia Space, this time on the CO2M mission, one of Copernicus’ major programs,” said Philippe Chorier, space business development manager at Lynred. “Our NGP is well adapted for imaging and hyperspectral applications to enhance the ability of scientists to correctly identify and characterize chemical phenomena with the right spatial accuracy. The data provided by the CO2M mission will significantly reduce current uncertainties in carbon dioxide emission estimates, at national and regional scales.”
NGP SWIR detector key features
NGP is the first large format SWIR flight model in a class higher than 1k² developed by a European firm:
* It covers wavelengths of interest in the SWIR region, corresponding to the absorption of different elements present in the atmosphere (e.g. CO2, NOx, CH4, etc.)
* The format is well suited to meeting the current requirements of spectro-imager instruments, notably the swath cover (the area imaged on the Earth’s surface) as well as the spectral resolution
* Radiometric performances are also well adapted to meet the signal-to-noise ratio parameters of the atmosphere chemistry applications required, such as in the CO2M mission
Flight models of NGP are currently deployed in instruments onboard other environmental space observation missions, showing the remarkable performance and reliability of this high-end large format SWIR detector. These missions include the Sentinel 5 ESA instrument onboard the METOP-SG platform and the French space agency CNES’ Microcarb.
Lynred will host the webinar: ‘How infrared imaging applications became a key asset in Earth observation from space’ on June 3, 2021, at 09:30 (CET). Click here to Register.
* Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and a cornerstone of the European Space Agency (ESA) activities in the field
* It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks
* CO2M will measure images of total column CO2 with the resolution, accuracy, time sampling and spatial coverage required to provide the key space component input of the Operational Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions Monitoring & Verification Support (MVS) Capacity
* The atmospheric measurements made by the combination of satellites and in-situ networks will provide Europe with a unique operational capacity that will contribute to the global monitoring of fossil CO2 emissions
Lynred and its subsidiaries, Lynred USA and Lynred Asia-Pacific, are global leaders in designing and manufacturing high quality infrared technologies for aerospace, defense and commercial markets. Lynred, a merger between Sofradir and ULIS, has a vast portfolio of infrared detectors that covers the entire electromagnetic spectrum from near to very far infrared. The Group’s products are at the center of multiple military programs and applications. Its IR detectors are the key component of many top brands in commercial thermal imaging equipment sold across Europe, Asia and North America. The organization is the leading European manufacturer for IR detectors deployed in space.
26 May 21. Kleos partners with ISISPACE to build new satellite cluster. The firms have agreed to collaborate to support the upcoming Polar Patrol Mission.
ASX-listed data-as-a-service company Kleos Space has announced a partnership with Netherlands-based firm Innovative Solutions in Space (ISISPACE) to support the delivery of its third satellite cluster (four satellites) as part of the Polar Patrol Mission (KSF2), scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 later this year.
This is in addition to ISISPACE’s current development of Kleos’ second satellite cluster, the Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1), set to launch later this month.
As part of this latest contract, ISISPACE has been tasked with providing a “full turn-key solution”, which includes design, development, production, testing, launch integration services and early orbit phase support.
The Polar Patrol satellites are designed to provide more frequent cover over commercial areas of interest and additional data products to the Kleos inventory.
Upon launching into a 500 to 600-kilometre sun-synchronous orbit, Kleos’ third satellite cluster is expected to double the company’s coverage over both poles, complementing the firm’s Scouting Mission and Polar Vigilance Mission satellites.
“ISISPACE has proven to be an ideal development partner for Kleos, with our second satellite cluster nearing completion ahead of a mid-year launch,” Kleos Space CEO Andy Bowyer said.
“Targeting a constellation of up to 20 satellite clusters, each new satellite cluster will increase sensing and intelligence gathering capabilities generating higher value data products for subscribers.
“Our commercial ISR data is able to effectively geolocate radio frequency transmissions irrespective of the presence of positioning systems, unclear imagery, poor weather or targets being out of patrol range.”
Bowyer added: “It has broad applications spanning security and defence, environment, insurance and regulatory sectors.”
Jeroen Rotteveel, CEO of ISISPACE, said: “We are proud to continue our partnership with Kleos, utilising our extensive nanosatellite experience to build and design their third satellite cluster within a relatively short time frame.
“As a strategic partner, we look forward to supporting them as they continue to build and launch their satellite constellation.”
The contract includes an option to extend ISISPACE’s support for a further three satellite clusters. (Source: Space Connect)
24 May 21. Space-Based Capabilities Are Critical to U.S. National Security, DOD Officials. Space-based capabilities are vital to U.S. national security in today’s era of de-stabilizing challenges from Russia and undeniable strategic competition with China, the Defense Department’s principal director for space policy told a House Armed Services Committee panel today.
John D. Hill told the HASC subcommittee on strategic forces that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has also testified that the growth of Chinese and Russian counter space capabilities presents the most immediate and serious threats to U.S. allied and partner space activities. Additionally, ”Russia and China view space as critical to modern warfare and consider the use of counterspace capabilities as both a means of reducing U.S. military effectiveness and winning future wars,” Hill said.
As these developments portend, the United States must be prepared for conflict to extend to, or even originate, in space, he said. But to be clear, such a conflict would not be a space war distinct from terrestrial war, but would represent ”an extension of traditional armed conflict into the space domain of human endeavor,” Hill clarified.
The 2020 defense-based strategy addresses such challenges of deterrence and the challenges of crisis de-escalation and warfare, extending to space along four lines of effort, Hill said. The DOD is building comprehensive military advantages in space; integrating space into national joint and combined operations; shaping the strategic environment to enhance domain stability and reduce the potential for miscalculation; and enhancing space cooperation with its international partners, commercial entities and agency partners.
Supporting national security strategic guidelines, Hill noted his office also leads DOD’s participation in the U.S. government space diplomatic initiative, which centers on establishing voluntary non-binding standards of responsible behavior and on exposing the disingenuous space arms control initiatives of Russia and China.
Air Force Gen. David D. Thompson, vice chief of space operations, U.S. Space Force, told Congressional members that Space Force, the newest military service, has made tremendous strides in the first year by establishing and resourcing the organizational blueprint for the service; moving aggressively in the areas of human capital, force design, acquisition, integration; and providing the foundations to establish a truly digital service — while executing its critical space missions around the clock, without fail.
The direction for the second year of the force, he said, is the integration of Space Force into the joint force, the interagency, and with U.S. allies and partners as building out the newest service continues.
”[We] have established the first field command Space Operations Command and completed the organizational design of the remaining two Space Systems Command and Space Training and Readiness Command, with the anticipated standup of those two commands later this year,” Thompson said, noting that Space Operations Command is responsible for preparing and presenting forces to U.S. Space Command and other combatant commands.
As part of the second year’s integration activities, Space Force put increasing emphasis on strengthening relationships within existing partners and establishing relationships with new partners, he said. It extends to the other services, combatant commands and allies and other international partners. ”The United States as a whole and the U.S. Space Force in particular are much stronger when these relationships are strong,” he added.
The entire leadership of the Department of the Air Force remain committed and adamant that the pace of space acquisition must be increased, Thompson said, adding, ”Maintaining program delivery timelines of the recent past will not outpace the threat. We must go faster.”
Thompson emphasized that the Space Force will continue to smartly leverage the authorities granted by Congress and it will partner with industry and academia to leverage technology and innovation of the commercial sector.
”In my opinion, the creativity, ingenuity and innovation of the American mind is one of our greatest assets,” the general said. ”We must leverage that fully in this endeavor. Our people, our guardians, are critical to the success of the Space Force. We are adapting new and innovative human capital and talent management approaches for both civilians and military members.”(Source: US DoD)
25 May 21. Kleos engages ISISPACE to build third satellite cluster. 2nd Cluster to be delivered to Launch Site.
- Contract placed with ISISPACE to build and support Kleos’ third mission – Polar Patrol Mission – four satellites scheduled for end of 2021 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9
- ISISPACE to provide a turn-key solution from satellite design and build through to launch and Early Orbit phase support
- Polar Vigilance Mission second satellite cluster of four satellites expected at launch site week commencing 31st May
- ISISPACE Contract includes potential for a further three clusters of four satellites in 2022
Kleos Space S.A (ASX:KSS, Frankfurt:KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has signed a contract with Innovative Solutions in Space B.V. (ISISPACE) to build and support its third satellite cluster of four satellites, the Polar Patrol Mission (KSF2), scheduled to launch at the end of 2021 onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
ISISPACE is also completing Kleos’ second satellite cluster, the Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1), for dispatch to the launch site week commencing 31 May 2021.
Netherlands-based ISISPACE has more than 15 years’ experience in the design, manufacture, and operation of nanosatellites. Under the contract ISISPACE will provide a full turn-key solution including design, development, production, testing, launch integration services and Early Orbit Phase support. The Polar Patrol satellites create an opportunity for higher value subscriptions, increasing revenues by adding more frequent cover over commercial areas of interest and additional data products to the Kleos inventory.
Launching into a 500-600km Sun Synchronous orbit, Kleos’ third satellite cluster doubles the company’s coverage over both poles, complementing the Scouting Mission and Polar Vigilance Mission satellites, thereby enhancing global coverage. Scouting Mission satellites data delivery, is expected to commence to early adopter customers shortly. Kleos’ Polar Vigilance satellites are on track for a mid-2021 launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, following the recent successful completion of key development milestones with ISISPACE.
Kleos Space CEO Andy Bowyer said, “ISISPACE has proven to be an ideal development partner for Kleos, with our second satellite cluster nearing completion ahead of a mid-year launch. Targeting a constellation of up to 20 satellite clusters, each new satellite cluster will increase sensing and intelligence gathering capabilities generating higher value data products for subscribers.
“Our commercial ISR data is able to effectively geolocate radio frequency transmissions irrespective of the presence of positioning systems, unclear imagery, poor weather or targets being out of patrol range. It has broad applications spanning security and defence, environment, insurance and regulatory sectors.”
Jeroen Rotteveel, CEO of ISISPACE, said, “We are proud to continue our partnership with Kleos, utilising our extensive nanosatellite experience to build and design their third satellite cluster within a relatively short timeframe. As a strategic partner, we look forward to supporting them as they continue to build and launch their satellite constellation.”
The mission costs incurred are anticipated to be compared to publicly available satellite costs and within the envelope of the cost of the Kleos Scouting Mission advised within the prospectus. The contract includes an optional addendum for a further three satellite clusters (12 further satellites in total) that will facilitate constellation growth with volume purchasing advantages. Funding methods for subsequent clusters will be determined by the directors and will be through a combination of revenue, equity or borrowings depending on capital market conditions prevailing at the time.
Kleos’ satellites detect and geolocate radio frequency transmissions to enhance the detection of illegal activity, including piracy, drug and people smuggling, border security challenges and illegal fishing. Its global activity-based data is sold as-a-service to governments and commercial entities, complementing existing commercial datasets to improve their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
19 May 21. Horizon Technologies gets funding for maritime surveillance satellites. A British company that equips spy planes and drones to track satellite telephones has raised capital to launch a handful of tiny surveillance spacecraft to listen for signals from ships operating clandestinely. Horizon Space Technologies, a recently established subsidiary of Berkshire, England-based Horizon Technologies, is prime contractor for the U.K. government’s cubesat signals intelligence program called IOD-3 Amber.
Amber IOD-3, its first satellite, is part of the In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) program run by government-backed nonprofit Satellite Applications Catapult.
With funding from the U.K. government’s innovation agency, the Amber IOD-3 cubesat is being built by AAC Clyde Space to provide data for the country’s National Maritime Information Centre (NMIC). L3Harris Technologies is assisting with the payload’s development.
The satellite is slated to launch aboard a SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission in August for deployment from the International Space Station shortly after arrival. Houston-based NanoRacks arranged for the cubesat’s deployment from the ISS.
More satellites incoming
Horizon Technologies CEO John Beckner told SpaceNews the company has secured funds to launch two more Amber satellites next year, amid plans for an initial constellation of six satellites.
Beckner declined to discuss the size of Horizon’s Series A funding round, which was led by private equity firm Maven Capital Partners. An industry source said it is in the “single-digit millions of dollars.”
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s financial services firm Virgin Money participated in the round through its Clydesdale Bank lender. Virgin Orbit, Branson’s air-launch rocket startup, has been investing in other space ventures in return for launch agreements.
The British government aims to use Horizon’s data to counter activities ranging from illegal fishing to human trafficking across its coastal waters.
“The Amber program to date has been an excellent example of a successful public/private partnership,” Beckner said.
“We are thrilled to have received so much support from the U.K. government, and this includes the [innovation accelerator] Catapult, Department for International Trade (DIT) and Defence & Security Organisation (DSO). Their help has simply been invaluable.”
Tracking the untracked
All passenger ships and most ocean-going vessels above a certain tonnage are required by law to be fitted with Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) transponders, enabling them to be tracked by coastal stations and satellites equipped with AIS receivers. However, ships can deactivate AIS transponders to avoid detection.
Horizon’s satellites will supplement AIS data by picking up faint electronic signals from navigation radars and satellite phones, enabling the tracking of vessels even if they turn off AIS.
The company will buy AIS data from third parties that will feed into its ground station. Becker said its satellites will have AIS receivers to double-check measurements, but it does not plan to sell this service.
The market for radio-frequency mapping (RFM) networks has been expanding in recent years, with venture capital investors helping to expand the number of players and satellites in orbit.
U.S.-based HawkEye 360 currently provides RFM services with six in-orbit satellites, saying in April that it raised an extra $55m to complete its constellation with nine additional satellites.
Horizon’s technology builds off an L-band satellite-phone detection system called FlyingFish, which the company already sells to governments that operate it from crewed and uncrewed aircraft.
The company recently split into two business segments, hardware-based Horizon Aerospace Technologies and data-based Horizon Space Technologies, after FlyingFish helped it report more than 4.5m British pounds ($6.4m) in sales for 2020.
As well as launching satellites, Beckner said Horizon’s Series A funding enables it to hire new personnel and cover research and development for expanded features, supporting software payload upgrades for Amber IOD-3 and beyond.
He said the signals it picks up are demodulated to provide government end-users with intelligence data, ranging from radar “fingerprints” to satellite phones’ GPS locations.
Six satellites will enable worldwide coverage with latency under one hour.
Rapidly expanding market
Three other companies, all founded in the last six years, have been raising capital to deploy commercial RFM networks. These are U.S.-based Aurora Insight, Luxembourg’s Kleos Space and Unseenlabs of France.
“Demand for radio frequency sensing and monitoring by U.S. and international government organizations has continued to grow rapidly in recent years, with no signs of slowing down,” said Nicolo Dona dalle Rose, engagement director in boutique management consulting firm Avascent’s space practice.
“Defense and intelligence agencies will likely remain the core consumers of this data for the near future. However, appetite is rapidly expanding among commercial customers as well. Early movers in this space have an opportunity to shape the way in which data is consumed and the service is delivered.”
Unseenlabs said April 27 it raised a 20m euro ($25m) Series B round for its radio-frequency geolocation constellation.
The venture launched its first satellite in August 2019, and aims to deploy between 20 and 25 of them by 2025 to expand its services.
BRO-1, its first satellite, was still operational in November when Unseenlabs announced the launch of two more spacecraft: BRO-2 and BRO-3.
It plans to enable full coverage of the globe and a half-hour revisit time by growing its constellation.
Kleos Space raised $13.8m following the Nov. 7 launch of its first cluster of four radio-frequency mapping satellites, providing daily coverage of the Earth.
The venture, which says on its website that revisit times are dependent on the specific area of interest, is funded to launch four more satellites toward the end of 2021. It is planning ten four-satellite clusters in total.
Beckner was coy about future plans but confirmed Horizon’s Amber constellation would be growing in the future.
He said work would begin soon on securing additional funding as Horizon accelerates its deployment of cubesats.
The company has also started looking for partners to combine its space-based data with tower-based systems, providing 24/7 coverage of critical maritime choke points, as well as UAVs for full-motion video to support legal proceedings. (Source: Space News)
25 May 21. CUAVA selected for NSW space project. The research centre has been tasked with leading a NSW government initiative aimed at testing locally-produced space technology.
The Australian Research Centre (ARC) for CubeSats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles and their Applications (CUAVA) has been selected to head-up ‘Waratah Seed’ — a Space Qualification Mission of the NSW Space Industry Development Strategy, led by newly established government agency Investment NSW.
Waratah Seed aims to launch locally-developed space technology into orbit to test and prove functionality.
CUAVA, based within the University of Sydney, is expected to leverage its experience working on the development of CubeSat and UAV capability for Earth observations, GPS, satellite communications and space weather services.
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres congratulated CUAVA, which leads a consortium made up of ACSER (UNSW), Saber Astronautics, Delta-V, Macquarie University and UTS.
“This is a first – an Australian ride-share satellite, orbiting the Earth 550 kilometres above us, that industry and researchers can use to test and prove the functionality of their tech – making getting started in the space industry more accessible and affordable,” Minister Ayres said.
“NSW is home to almost half of Australia’s space-related businesses and generates around half of all space-related revenue nationally – there is no better place to support space technology research and development to create jobs of the future.
“CUAVA is leading the way in developing the space technology of the future and training the people that will use it. They are an outstanding choice to take charge of this mission.”
CUAVA director, Professor Iver Cairns, said project Waratah Seed would help accelerate the growth of the space industry.
“Waratah Seed will be Australia’s first ride-share satellite – it will also be the first satellite funded by the NSW government,” Professor Cairns said.
“The consortium is very excited to be working with the NSW government on this project to build a vibrant, nation-leading space sector for NSW.”
The launch of project ‘Waratah Seed’ follows the establishment of the NSW government’s own Node of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which aims to foster collaboration between industry and academia for the development of advanced telecommunications, intelligent satellite systems and Earth observation data services. (Source: Space Connect)
24 May 21. SOCOM seeks low-SWaP ESA for improved satcom capability. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is pursuing a requirement to field electronically steerable arrays (ESAs) at reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) and cost to support connectivity requirements around the world. Speaking at the virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) on 19 May, US Army Colonel Joel Babbitt said how ESAs will facilitate satellite communications (satcom) by connecting ground users to satellite constellations in low (LEO), medium (MEO), and geostationary (GEO) Earth orbits.
“We’re interested in low-cost, low-SWaP electronically steerable antennas, specifically for satellite terminals operating in a number of [commercial and military] frequency spectrum bands including Ka and Ku,” said Col Babbitt, who serves as SOF Warrior program executive officer.
”We’re looking for terminals able to connect to LEO, GEO, as well as MEO satellites that are out there. There’s a number of capabilities that we’re looking to leverage. And we’d like to go after all three of those,” he added.
SOF Warrior is on the lookout for low-profile, manpack variants and vehicle-mounted applications measuring no more than the size of a laptop. ESAs must be able to automatically track satellites while on the move, irrespective of whether carried on the back of a dismounted soldier patrolling through a village or integrated onto a tactical ground vehicle moving across a desert. (Source: Jane’s)
24 May 21. US Army preps for TITAN ground station experimentation. US Army officials are preparing to implement a full-scale experimentation plan for new ground stations designed for the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) programme, with service leaders anticipating development of a full-on TITAN ground station by 2022.
The TITAN ground station platform, as envisioned, will consolidate functionalities of several legacy fixed and mobile ground stations, and then fuse the collected data from various ground, aerial, and space-based sensors into a single station, according to Willie Nelson, director of the army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space CFT). That capability will also be scalable to support all echelons from brigade to division, Nelson added.
Once functional, the technologies within the ground station will be able to collect, curate, fuse, and disseminate collected data across domains – including satellite constellations – and provide target data for long-range fire support missions. Theoretically, army long-range artillery units will be able to leverage targeting co-ordinates gathered in space to locate and terminate battlefield threats. This deep-targeting capability is one of several key capabilities that army leaders are pursuing, as part of the army’s Multi-Domain Operations 2028 concept.
“We are finding ways to use multiple sensors at multiple altitudes, to include airborne high-altitude [sensors] even in space, and be able to fuse that data in a positive way … and infuse that data, very rapidly, is really where the secret sauce is,” Nelson said of the ongoing TITAN ground station development effort. “Every time we have to stop and analyse something [equals] time, it increases the room for error and slows down the overall process,” he added. (Source: Jane’s)
24 May 21. US Army approves initial Tactical Space Layer capability requirements. The US Army is pressing forward with plans to develop a new network of space-based tactical sensors and ground stations, as senior service brass continue talks with US Space Force (USSF) counterparts on how to divvy up space requirements and capabilities for future conflicts. Officials from the army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space CFT) have signed off on an Abbreviated – Capability Development Document (A-CDD) for the Tactical Space Layer (TSL) programme. The document, approved in April, “validates the need and provides the source for desired capabilities to execute rapid experimentation and prototyping efforts for tactical space-based sensors with supporting ground-based equipment”, team members said in an April statement. The A-CCD approval “is an acknowledgement that the army relies on space for a number of things … and that has not changed, but how we use those things is changing, and the way we integrate those things is changing”, said Willie Nelson, director of the APNT/Space CFT. However, the A-CDD will only guide army-led experimentation and prototyping for the TSL programme, and “it does not suggest the army is going to go build its own constellation of satellites”, he added during a briefing in May. As envisioned, the TSL programme will integrate current and future space-based command-and-control (C2), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and programmes into a more streamlined construct. The goal will be to shorten the transmission timeline between data collection by space-based ISR assets to delivery of targeting intelligence to air- and ground-based fires platforms.
“Access to the TSL will [also] allow soldiers to operate in anti-access/area-denied environments” while also shrinking the tactical sensor-to-shooter window, army officials said in the statement. (Source: Jane’s)
24 May 21. UK companies join forces to build revolutionary beam-hopping satellite. A group of UK space tech companies are developing a new beam-hopping satellite that will allow satellites to switch which part of the world they cover
A group of UK space tech companies are developing a new beam-hopping satellite that will allow satellites to switch which part of the world they cover, managing real-time surges in commercial demand or responding to emergencies such as natural disasters, thanks to government funding.
Led by global satellite communications network OneWeb, the industrial partners have received over £32m from the UK Space Agency, via the European Space Agency’s Sunrise Programme, for a demonstration satellite due for launch in 2022.
The satellite, nicknamed ‘Joey-Sat’ for its beam-hopping abilities, will be able to remotely direct beams to boost coverage in certain locations, such as areas of high usage where the network is struggling to cope with demand.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said, “From helping during a disaster to providing broadband on planes, this amazing technology will show how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit all of us on Earth.
It is fantastic to see some of our finest space tech companies joining forces on this exciting project which will put the UK at the forefront of satellite communications technology.”
The new funding, which builds on the UK Space Agency’s previous investments in the Sunrise Programme, will see OneWeb team up with other UK companies, SatixFy, Celestia UK and Astroscale UK, to demonstrate the technology for its second-generation constellation of satellites.
Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technical Officer at OneWeb, said, “Innovation and collaboration are at the core of OneWeb. Working together with our partners, Oneweb will accelerate the development and expansion of our cutting-edge technologies and manufacturing capabilities for the benefit of communities, enterprise and governments around the world.
This is an exciting opportunity to work with talented potential supply chain partners and we are delighted with the support from ESA and the UK Space Agency to bring continued innovation across the whole of OneWeb’s connectivity ecosystem.”
The satellite’s pilot beam-hopping payload will be developed by SatixFy, based in Farnborough. The user terminal to support this satellite is also being developed by SatixFy, who have been awarded over £25m.
Charlie Bloomfield, CEO of SatixFy Space Systems, said, “We are really excited to be demonstrating new game-changing satellite payload capabilities in space next year, in collaboration with OneWeb.”
The £25m funding from the UK Space Agency via ESA, matched with SatixFy’s own internal investment, will not only demo best-in-class future payload capability, but will also result in the lowest-cost and highest performance electronically-steered multibeam user-terminals on the market. UKSA and ESA support has been fundamental in unlocking these new technologies and we look forward to a fruitful and ongoing partnership with them.
Celestia UK, based in Edinburgh, has been given £4.4m to develop and trial smart ground-station technology featuring multibeam electronically steered antenna to reduce the footprint and costs of each ground station and increase the efficiency of the whole ground network.
José Alonso, President of Celestia UK, said, “The business opportunity that OneWeb and UK Space Agency have presented to Celestia UK in the context of the Sunrise Programme is outstanding. The pioneering project we are developing looks set to become a game changer in the satcom ground segment market.”
Gateways and user terminals are key elements in the OneWeb constellation, and Celestia UK’s products will be state-of-the-art and fit for commercial purpose. We are very proud to be part of Sunrise.
The Sunrise Programme has maintained a clear focus on encouraging the development of Responsible Space using debris removal technologies, and this element is being developed by Astroscale UK, based at Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire. Astroscale UK has received close to £2.5m to develop novel technologies to safely de-orbit unresponsive satellites.
Astroscale’s current mission, ELSA-d, is preparing the way for a multi-debris removal service, ELSA-M. This funding will support further technological innovations and UK in-orbit servicing skills development and demonstrate the government’s commitment towards developing a sustainable and vibrant New Space economy.
John Auburn, Managing Director of Astroscale UK and Co-Chair of the In-orbit Servicing and Manufacturing Working Group at UKspace, said, “Astroscale UK will deliver important innovations in space debris removal, develop new expertise on Harwell Campus, and provide UK commercial leadership to help protect space for future generations.
Following our ELSA-d mission demonstrations later this year, the Sunrise programme will help to mature our debris removal technologies ready for commercial service launch by 2024.”
OneWeb currently has 182 satellites with another launch of 36 satellites scheduled for 27th May. Designed to provide organisations and governments with global and resilient connectivity services, OneWeb’s network will feature 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, global gateways and air, maritime and land user terminals. In late 2021, OneWeb will begin providing commercial services across the Arctic regions and expanding to global coverage in 2022.
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said, “Joey-Sat will be used to demonstrate how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit life on Earth. ESA is proud to support the space industry in Europe to bring such innovation to the competitive global telecommunications market. We congratulate all the partners involved.”
With the support of these British companies, OneWeb is already starting to create the roadmap for its future generation constellation so as to be launch-ready for its Gen2 constellation in 2025.
OneWeb recently launched its first Innovation Challenge to seek further new technology to give its future constellations the capabilities to keep it at the forefront of satellite communications technology and meeting end-user demands.
The findings from the latest ‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry’ report, commissioned by the UK Space Agency and published this week, show income from the UK space sector has risen from £14.8bn to £16.4bn, representing growth of 5.7% in real terms, while employment is up by 3,200 from 41,900 to 45,100. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
21 May 21. Arianespace to conduct launch for OneWeb payload. Arianespace is expected to conduct a launch over the coming week for a new payload of OneWeb satellites.
The next payload of OneWeb satellites is expected to enter orbit this coming week, with Arianespace and Starsem expected to launch flight ST32.
OneWeb is a collaboration between OneWeb and Airbus, with the OneWeb constellation expected to provide global high speed internet services, including 3G, 5G and LTE.
The payload aboard the ST32 will include 36 OneWeb satellites, with the mission duration expected to last three hours and 51 minutes. This flight marks the seventh launch for OneWeb this year, bringing the total number of satellites in the OneWeb constellation to 218.
According to a company statement, OneWeb has scaled its manufacturing and delivery services and is now able to construct up to two satellites a day.
OneWeb increased its rate of launches following an agreement between the company and Arianespace in September 2020 to undertake an additional 16 launches onboard the Soyuz out of the Vostochny Cosmodrome until 2022. (Source: Space Connect)
24 May 21. British spaceflight to become reality as government provides launchpad for spaceports. Satellites and rockets could launch from UK soil in 2022, with spaceports planned for Cornwall, Wales and Scotland.
- government paves the way for commercial space launches from UK soil with new regulations
- planned spaceport sites across Great Britain to create hundreds of jobs as we build back better
- regulations provide grounding for new business opportunities such as space tourism from newly established spaceports
Another barrier to space exploration from UK soil is lifted today (24 May 2021), with spaceports expected to be in operation from next summer.
Developed with the UK Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority, new regulations being laid in Parliament today will mean satellites and rockets can launch from UK soil for the first time – with spaceports planned for Cornwall, Wales and Scotland.
Future satellite launches will improve our access to data and communications, and revolutionise services such as satellite navigation and earth observation – enhancing the way we live, work, travel and interact with our planet.
Space exploration has a long history of inspiring us all to consider our impact on the Earth, and access to space is essential as we tackle global environmental issues such as climate change.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, “This is a pivotal moment for our spaceflight ambitions. Since the start of the spaceflight programme in 2017, we have been clear that we want to be the first country to launch into orbit from Europe. The laying of these regulations puts us firmly on track to see the first UK launches take place from 2022, unlocking a new era in commercial spaceflight for all 4 corners of our nation.”
The legislation, laid just 2 weeks before the G7 summit in Cornwall, will come into force this summer and will help propel the development of commercial spaceflight technologies, from traditional rockets to high-altitude balloons and spaceplanes.
In time, we will also start to see new and emerging space activity – including sub-orbital space tourism and eventually new transport systems such as hypersonic flight, which will dramatically reduce aviation travel times.
UK spaceport launches will help create new jobs and offer economic benefits to communities across the country, as well as inspiring the next generation of space scientists.
Not only will this support our thriving space sector, it will also attract companies from around the globe to come to, and benefit from, these commercial opportunities.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said, “Continuing to grow our launch capability will help bring jobs and economic benefits across the UK. The Space Industry Regulations we’ve tabled today will create a supportive, attractive and safe environment for commercial spaceflight.
Today marks another crucial milestone that will enable the first launches from British soil in 2022 and make UK commercial spaceflight a reality.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 May 21. Virgin Galactic Completes First Human Spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“The Company or Virgin Galactic”) today completed its third spaceflight and the first ever spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Today’s flight sees New Mexico become the third US state to launch humans into space.
VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve, and reached space, at an altitude of 55.45 miles before gliding smoothly to a runway landing at Spaceport America.
On VSS Unity’s flight deck were CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, while Kelly Latimer and Michael Masucci piloted VMS Eve. CJ, who flew as pilot-in-command, becomes the first person ever to have flown to space from three different states. The crew experienced extraordinary views of the bright, blue-rimmed curvature of the earth against the blackness of space. New Mexico’s White Sands National Park sparkled brilliantly below. Their experience today gives Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronaut customers a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said: “Today’s flight showcased the inherent elegance and safety of our spaceflight system, while marking a major step forward for both Virgin Galactic and human spaceflight in New Mexico. Space travel is a bold and adventurous endeavor, and I am incredibly proud of our talented team for making the dream of private space travel a reality. We will immediately begin processing the data gained from this successful test flight, and we look forward to sharing news on our next planned milestone.”
Virgin Galactic fulfilled a number of test objectives during the flight, including:
- Carried revenue-generating scientific research experiments as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.
- Collected data to be used for the final two verification reports that are required as part of the current FAA commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license.
- Tested the spaceship’s upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls and validated EMI reductions.
Following the flight, and in line with normal procedures, Virgin Galactic will conduct a review of all test data gathered and thoroughly inspect the spaceship and mothership. Once the team confirms the results, the Company plans to proceed to the next flight test milestone.
To celebrate the first human spaceflight from New Mexico, the Zia Sun Symbol of New Mexico’s state flag was placed prominently on the exterior of the Spaceship. In addition, we flew green chile seeds, which are synonymous with the state’s rich agricultural and culinary history.
“Fifteen years ago, New Mexico embarked on a journey to create the world’s first commercial spaceport,’’ said Sir Richard Branson. ‘’Today, we launched the first human spaceflight from that very same place, marking an important milestone for both Virgin Galactic and New Mexico. I am proud of the team for their hard work and grateful to the people of New Mexico who have been unwavering in their commitment for commercial spaceflight from day one. Their belief and support have made today’s historic achievement possible.”
Governor Lujan Grisham said: “After so many years and so much hard work, New Mexico has finally reached the stars. Our state’s scientific legacy has been honored by this important achievement, one that took guts and faith and an unwavering belief in what New Mexico can achieve — and indeed is destined to achieve. I can’t wait to see what comes next. We are on the cutting edge, the forefront of innovation, and I plan to do everything in my power to keep us there, taking full advantage of our robust economic and scientific potential. On behalf of proud New Mexicans everywhere, I’m incredibly grateful to so many dedicated and visionary collaborators in this effort, not least Sir Richard Branson and former Governor Bill Richardson, the entire Virgin Galactic team and Spaceport team who made possible this long-awaited day.”
“The Spaceport has always been about the future of New Mexico,” said former Governor Bill Richardson. “Our state and our people have a long track record of inspiring innovation and being catalysts for national advances in science and technology. So many of New Mexico’s children will benefit from both the educational opportunities and the career opportunities that the space industry offers. I want to congratulate the team at Virgin Galactic for this historic achievement today. This dream began with a handshake between Sir Richard Branson and me, and I’ll always be grateful to him for recognizing that New Mexico can and should be the base for the space industry. I want to recognize Rick Homans, who was critical in the creation of the Spaceport. And thank you to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for your dedication to the future of New Mexico and to the Spaceport.”
“The Zia Sun Symbol is one of our most sacred symbols, central to the Pueblo of Zia,” said Governor Frederick Medina. “We are pleased that Virgin Galactic reached out to our Pueblo for permission to utilize this iconic symbol of the state of New Mexico. It is an honor to work with Virgin Galactic and to know that a part of Zia Pueblo will be traveling to space.”
17 May 21. Rocket Lab’s 20th Electron Launch Anomaly Flight Review Results + First Stage Recovery. On May 15, 2021, Rocket Lab experienced an anomaly almost three minutes into the company’s 20th Electron launch. Following a successful lift-off from Launch Complex 1, Electron proceeded through a nominal first stage engine burn, stage separation, and stage 2 ignition. Shortly after the second stage ignition, the engine shut down, resulting in the loss of the mission.
Rocket Lab continued to receive good telemetry from Electron following the safe engine shutdown on stage two, providing engineers with comprehensive data to review as part of a robust review into the anomaly. The extensive data is being methodically scoured to enable the review team to accurately pinpoint the issue and implement corrective actions for future missions. Rocket Lab is leading the flight review with the support of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); a structure that ensures Rocket Lab maintains a high degree of control over its return-to-flight schedule.
Preliminary data reviews suggest an engine computer detected an issue shortly after stage 2 engine ignition, causing the computer to command a safe shutdown as it is designed to do. The behavior had not been observed previously during Rocket Lab’s extensive ground testing operations, which include multiple engine hot fires and full mission duration stage tests prior to flight. The vehicle remained within the pre-determined safety corridor during the flight. The full review is expected to be complete in the coming weeks and Rocket Lab anticipates a swift return to flight.
“We deeply regret the loss of BlackSky’s payload and we are committed to returning to flight safely and reliably for our customers,” said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive, Peter Beck. “We are methodically working through the review process to address the issue. After 17 successful missions and more than 100 satellites deployed to orbit prior to this mission, and with multiple launch vehicles currently in production, we are confident in a swift and reliable return to flight with minimal impact on our launch manifest this year.”
Flight data shows Electron’s first stage performed nominally during the mission and did not contribute to the flight issue. The first stage safely completed a successful splashdown under parachute as planned and Rocket Lab’s recovery team retrieved the stage from the ocean for transport back to Rocket Lab’s production complex as part of the company’s reusability test program.
The new heat shield debuted in this flight protected the stage from the intense heat and forces experienced while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and the program took yet another major advancement towards reusability of the rocket. The engines remain in good condition and Rocket Lab intends to put them through hot fire testing for analysis.
Selected components from the recovered stage are also suitable for reflight on future missions. Rocket Lab’s program to make Electron a reusable launch vehicle is advancing quickly and the company intends to conduct its third recovery mission later this year.
In March 2021 Rocket Lab announced plans to become a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq via a merger agreement with Vector Acquisition Corporation (Nasdaq: VACQ), a special purpose acquisition company. On May 7, 2021, Vector and Rocket Lab confidentially submitted a registration statement on Form S-4 to the Securities and Exchange Commission and both parties continue to work towards the completion of the transaction. (Source: Satnews)
16 May 21. Sateliot + Spanish Ministry Of Defense Involved In IoT Smallsat Constellation Project. This is a cross-cutting project led by Sateliot, which will involve an investment of more than 176m euros and has just been submitted to the Spanish Ministry of Industry as part of the Program for the Promotion of Industrial Competitiveness and Sustainability projects that will serve as a guide for the allocation of European Next Generation funds. With this project, the consortium seeks to position Spain as a world reference in 5G IoT constellations and secure global communications, enabling the Spanish industrial sector to digitize as a priority.
Precisely, this technology is part of the European Quango project that opens a new business avenue for Sateliot and stands as an evolution of the original constellation proposed by the company. This network of 96 nanosatellites, in addition to connecting IOT elements on the 5G standard, compatible with more than 70 mobile operators, will also ensure secure communication by introducing an end-to-end encryption device using QKD (Quantum Key Distribution), the first quantum technology that could be widely applied.
In this way, this constellation will allow cost savings by sharing the infrastructure originally designed with this innovative system that will be key to guarantee the secure exchange of sensitive information between organizations located thousands of kilometers away, protecting vulnerable data such as money transfers, commercial transactions, private data or the remote control of critical infrastructures from all types of external interference.
Thus, this project will respond to two of the levers considered key to economic recovery: digitalization and sustainability, as it will allow the Internet of Things (IoT) to be deployed in all productive sectors with a positive impact on the efficiency and profitability of economic activities such as agriculture, livestock, fishing, mining, construction, energy, transport and tourism. It will also respond to pressing challenges such as depopulation or the emptying of Spain.
It will also have direct applications in the Public Administration, ensuring the secure exchange of information in Ministries that work with extremely sensitive data, such as the Ministry of Defense, which is actively participating in the project, but also between ministries, city councils and areas such as Education, Health, Ecological Transition, Transport and Justice.
Currently, Sateliot has already launched the first of the smallsats that will offer IoT coverage with 5G connection, marking a milestone and positioning itself as a benchmark in the satellite telecommunications industry. The overall project, which will be fully operational by 2023, is divided into nine phases. The first of these will include the demonstration of both technologies on two satellites that will be tested gradually over the coming months.
According to Jaume Sanpera, founder and CEO of Sateliot, “With this consortium, we are taking a step forward to provide not only global connectivity but also unconditional security. Thus, with the development of 5G and QKD technologies, we will build a unique constellation in the world that will enable the digitization of the Spanish industrial sector; a fundamental advance towards its recovery after the pandemic.”
Sateliot is the first satellite telecommunications operator to provide global and continuous connectivity to all the elements that will make up the Internet of Things (IoT) universe – such as the connected car or the connected home – 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 the perfect complement to large telecommunications companies by providing them with the necessary infrastructure where terrestrial technologies do not reach. (Source: Satnews)
19 May 21. Australian Military To Set Up Space Division With $7bn Budget. “To reach for the stars and actually get there is a phenomenal feeling”… The new division will comprise army, navy and air force officers and be based at RAAF headquarters in Canberra.
Australia is assembling a new space division comprising military officers from the army, navy and air force to better protect satellites from attack.
The space division will be established within the Royal Australian Air Force headquarters in Canberra early next year.
The chief of the air force, Mel Hupfeld, said guaranteeing access to the “contested domain” of space was becoming increasingly important.
“However, this does not mean that defense encourages the militarization of space,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said on Wednesday.
“All space operations are conducted consistent with international and domestic legal obligations.”
Defense will invest $7bn in space capabilities over the next 10 years.
The shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, confirmed Labor supported the spending.
“Clearly our defense force needs to maintain capability and clearly the definition of capability changes very rapidly when it comes to defense,” he told the National Press Club.
“There are new frontiers in defense technology all of the time, and any country like ours investing so heavily in our defence needs to keep up with those developments and ideally get ahead of them.
“If the developments in technology require us to invest in those areas then so be it.”
Hupfeld said satellite technologies were used daily to gather information about the weather, navigation and geospatial intelligence.
“Defense is delivering capabilities including space domain awareness, sovereign controlled satellite communications and space-based Earth observation, and navigation,” he said.
Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts will head the new division.
“To reach for the stars and actually get there is a phenomenal feeling,” she said.
“As an aerospace engineer I have always been fascinated by space – the ultimate high-ground.” (Source: Satnews)
18 May 21. Hughes’ First-of-a-Kind S-Band Satellite/Cellular Hybrid Terminal. Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) announced the availability of the Hughes 4510 satellite/cellular hybrid terminal for customers in remote and power-challenged areas in Europe. The first-of-its-kind dual-transport terminal intelligently routes IP traffic via terrestrial or mobile satellite system (MSS) networks, enabling reliable, ubiquitous connectivity for critical applications. As the terminal moves in and out of terrestrial cellular coverage areas, the S-band satellite service takes over automatically, ensuring constant connectivity.
“Hughes has embraced multi-transport innovation as essential to enabling the most reliable and cost-effective connection anywhere in the world,” said Graham Avis, vice president, MobileSat, Hughes. “The unique features of the 4510 terminal allow for ubiquitous service for critical applications for vehicles or boats that pass in and out of cellular coverage areas, and for remote fixed sites that rely primarily on solar or battery power.”
EchoStar Mobile, a sister company to Hughes, utilizes the 4510 to enable its new EM SYNERGY™ service, which delivers comprehensive, hybrid connectivity to customers across Europe from dense urban areas to the most remote corners of the continent utilizing S-band satellite service in combination with pan-European mobile roaming. Use cases for the Hughes 4510 span enterprise, government and maritime sectors, oil and gas industry, Smart-Grid monitoring, yachting and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) functions.
The terminal contains an embedded SIM (eSIM) for global 4G cellular operation and intelligently and dynamically routes IP traffic between the terrestrial and S-band networks based upon path availability. IP67-rated and thus environmentally sealed, the terminal features an omnidirectional satellite antenna and requires low power, making it suited for simple deployment on a vehicle, fixed site or boat in off-the-grid locations. Operators can manage the 4510 terminal and update firmware remotely, and auto-context activation automatically restores power and connection following any disruption — without human intervention. (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.