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17 June 21. Tyvak, a Terran Orbital Company, announces successful commissioning of Tyvak-0130 Satellite in partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Working with Tyvak under a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA), LLNL developed an advanced dual optical telescope system for the Tyvak-0130 spacecraft that is now supplying thousands of images taken in orbit.
Tyvak, a Terran Orbital Company is pleased to announce the successful completion of in-orbit system checkout and commissioning of its Tyvak-0130 satellite. These necessary check points begin soon after launch and focus primarily on testing the satellite’s essential systems and protocols. Tyvak-0130 was launched as a rideshare on SpaceX Starlink L-26 on May 15, 2021 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and has already transmitted over 4,000 pictures back to earth.
Composite false-color image of the Andromeda galaxy created by stacking 12 Medium FOV channel images for a total exposure of 19.2 seconds. This image demonstrates the exceptional stability obtained by the Tyvak-0130 satellite.
GEOStare2’s Narrow field-of-view (FOV) imager is intended primarily for Earth Observation. Narrow, Wide and V4 Zoom FOV (field of view) image of Los Angeles International Airport area. At this level of resolution, individual aircraft on the tarmac are easily resolved.
The Tyvak-0130 mission is to demonstrate advanced capabilities for space domain awareness (SDA), earth observation, and astronomy. SDA is a relatively new concept placing space in the same military consideration of air, sea or land on the earth. Tyvak-0130 features an extremely stable space position control system that includes three star-tracker cameras and four ultra-smooth reaction wheels. The satellite also boasts a high-performance flight computer all developed by Tyvak and an advanced optical telescope system called GEOStare2, which was developed in collaboration with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
The GEOStare2, is an evolution of LLNL’s GEOStare1 system which was successfully demonstrated on Tyvak-61C. GEOStare2 includes two co-boresighted imaging channels that feature LLNL’s monolithic optics telescope technology. Monolithic optics telescopes are reflective designs that are built upon a single ultra-high purity fused silica block. The compact nature of the monolithic telescope enables smaller imaging systems to function without compromising performance. These telescopes are extremely robust and provide clearer visual representations with no temperature interference, and present no need for an in-flight focus adjustment. “Our payload is operating very well; we’re ahead of schedule on the checkout,” said LLNL astrophysicist Wim de Vries, an associate program leader for the Lab’s Space Science and Security Program. “The satellite is functioning extremely well.”
The Medium field-of-view imager is optimized for high sensitivity for SDA and astronomy applications. This imager has a sensitive- backside-illuminated 2 Megapixel CMOS sensor. This imager features a platescale of 3.9 arcseconds per pixel and sensitivity to 14th magnitude stars (the dimmest object visible with the naked eye is typically magnitude 6.5) in a single 1-second photo.
“We are more than pleased with the quality and resolution of the images we have been receiving from Tyvak-0130, says Marc Bell, CEO of Terran Orbital, our collaboration with LLNL has been incredibly successful thus far and we are more than optimistic about the future.”
With the completion of commissioning activities, Tyvak and LLNL will next focus on a comprehensive set of capability demonstration experiments related to space domain awareness, responsive and on-demand terrestrial imaging with minimal delay, and space science.
About Terran Orbital: Terran Orbital is the world’s leading provider and innovator of nano-and micro-satellites. Headquartered in Irvine, California, Terran Orbital has executed over 340 missions since its inception in 2013. Terran Orbital is the corporate parent of Tyvak Nano-Satellites, a leading provider of next-generation, turnkey satellite solutions.
About Tyvak: Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Irvine, California, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc. is an industry leader, delivering optimized, end-to-end satellite solutions.
About Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides solutions to our nation’s most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. (Source: PR Newswire)
17 June 21. Lockheed Martin-Built Next Generation GPS III Satellite Propels Itself to Orbit. The fifth Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite designed and built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is now headed to its orbit 12,550 miles above earth. This marks another step in supporting the U.S. Space Force’s GPS satellite constellation modernization efforts.
Launched earlier today, GPS III Space Vehicle 05 (GPS III SV05) is the latest next-generation GPS III satellite, a warfighting system owned and operated by the Space Force. GPS III SV05 will be the 24th Military Code (M-Code) signal-enabled GPS space vehicle on orbit, completing the constellation’s baseline requirement to provide our military forces a more-secure, harder-to-jam and spoof GPS signal.
GPS III satellites provide significant capability advancements over earlier-designed GPS satellites on orbit, including:
- Three times better accuracy;
- Up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities; and
- A new L1C civil signal, which is compatible with international global navigation satellite systems, like Europe’s Galileo, to improve civilian user connectivity.
“With GPS III SV05, we continue our focus on rapidly fielding innovative capabilities for the Space Force’s Positioning, Navigation and Timing Mission,” said Tonya Ladwig, Lockheed Martin vice president for Navigation Systems. “With each satellite we bring to orbit, we help the U.S. Space Force to modernize the GPS constellation’s technology and to imagine future capability. Our next three satellites, GPS III SV06, SV07 and SV08, are already complete and just waiting for a launch date.”
About 90 minutes after a 12:09 p.m. ET liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida, U.S. Space Force and Lockheed Martin engineers at the company’s Denver GPS III Launch & Checkout Operations Center declared GPS III SV05 separated from its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and “flying” under their control.
In the coming days, GPS III SV05’s onboard liquid apogee engine will continue to propel the satellite towards its operational orbit. After it arrives, engineers will send the satellite commands to deploy its solar arrays and antennas, and prepare GPS III SV05 for handover to Space Operations Command.
Part of U.S. critical national infrastructure, GPS drives an estimated $300bn in annual economic benefits and is responsible for $1.4trn since its inception. Globally, more than 4bn military, civil and commercial users depend on GPS’ positioning, navigation and timing signals.
Lockheed Martin is part of the GPS III team led by the Space Production Corps Medium Earth Orbit Division at the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base. The GPS Operational Control Segment sustainment is managed by the Enterprise Corps, GPS Sustainment Division at Peterson Air Force Base. The 2nd Space Operations Squadron, at Schriever Air Force Base, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.
17 June 21. Key Lawmaker Warns Off Space Force On Tactical ISR. “I think before you hand off the ball, let’s make sure there won’t be a fumble — and the Space Force has a lot on it’s plate right now,” Rep. Jim Cooper says.
One of the the founding fathers of the Space Force is less than enthusiastic about the new service’s push to take over responsibility from NRO for providing tactical-level intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from space.
Rep. Jim Cooper not only chairs the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, which oversees the Space Force, but he also has a seat on the powerful House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), which oversees the National Reconnaissance Office.
NRO, he told a webinar sponsored by the National Security Space Association (NSSA) today, “has a proven track record in that regard” and cautioned that shifting gears may not be wise.
“I think before you hand off the ball, let’s make sure there won’t be a fumble — and the Space Force has a lot on it’s plate right now. So let’s not rush these decisions, and if it’s being capably handled today, let’s probably stick with that for the time being,” he said.
“Remember, we’re all on the same team here, whether you’re playing half back or full back, like, give me a break,” he added. “All that really matters here is whether the warfighter is well served, whether the Intel Community is well served.”
Space Force Chief of Staff Gen. Jay Raymond last month revealed a previously classified program to develop radar satellites capable of tracking moving ground targets — a concrete step in the service’s ambitions to take on the job of procuring space-based ISR for the other services. He argued that while owning and operating satellites to collect ISR traditionally has been the job of the NRO, Space Force isn’t really claim jumping. Rather, he said, the service should now assume responsibility only for providing battlefield imagery to military commanders — much as the Air Force has been using drones to provide airborne ISR. That would in effect split the space ISR mission into a strategic component, handled by NRO, and a tactical component overseen by the Space Force.
Further, Raymond’s deputy, Gen. DT Thompson, back in April said Space Force is working to expand its acquisition of commercial space services from only satellite communications to include ISR data and analysis. NRO also is currently in charge of buying ISR data from commercial companies. NGA, however, has the job of analyzing that data (along with ISR coming from Intelligence Community sources) and disseminating it to users — from commanders in the field all the way up to POTUS.
While Space Force leaders have said they are in discussions with their Intelligence Community counterparts about how to mesh their respective roles, it remains less than clear whether or not there actually has been any top-level agreement on such a shift. Indeed, in response to our questions, both NRO and NGA made clear they still hold the reins with regard to space-based ISR.
NRO “remains fully engaged and committed to meeting the tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements of our military command and service partners. We have not divested this mission,” a spokesperson said in an email response to our questions.
“We continue to adapt in response to the evolving tactical ISR needs of the military, and will continue to do so in a manner that eliminates potential gaps in our national overhead capabilities,” the spokesperson added. “The NRO is the best in the world at providing overhead ISR support to more than 500,000 government users, including every member of the Intelligence Community, two dozen domestic agencies, our nation’s lawmakers, decision makers, and certainly not least—our nation’s warfighters.”
At the same time, the NRO’s partnership with the Space Force is “strong and collaborative,” the spokesperson said. “Our programs support and complement each other, and our strong relationship is essential to our nation’s strategy to protect and defend capabilities in this key domain.
For its part, “NGA has not been asked to divest our mission responsibility to provide GEOINT to the DoD. We continue to work closely with DoD to meet all of their documented requirements,” a spokesperson said.
Former DoD head of space policy Doug Loverro explained that the issue at stake is who gets to call the shots about “tasking” — that is, where satellites are ‘pointed’ and when, based on whose priorities. This question of tasking, in fact, is one of the reasons for the Army’s long-running campaign to find a way for it to use small satellites for ISR, either its own satellites or, as currently planned, to put its own ISR payloads on either commercial or other national security satellites.
“The problem for the NRO is that they serve multiple constituencies – the national command authorities, the intelligence agencies (NGA, NSA, CIA), the Department of State, and the services,” he said. “So, they have developed a long-revered strategy of a highly complex priority scheme to decide who gets to task what, when. And the problem is, no matter how good you make that scheme, no matter how well you satisfy a high percentage of the requests, someone will always be dissatisfied. And since there are more warfighters in the field than all the other users in those other institutions (NCA, IC, DoS, etc) you will always have more military leaders who will feel as if their needs were not met. And, when that happens, they will demand their own systems to control.”
The question now is whether NRO or USSF will meet this need, he said.
But even if the mission is shifted to the Space Force, there could still be a problem for military users if the service holds too tightly to satellite tasking and disseminating data, Loverro said.
“The real issue will be whether the USSF understands this need well enough to satisfy the other services, or if, like for UAVs, each service will end up making their own arrangements. My fear is that the USSF will, as its AF brethren did for UAVs, focus on a more centralized model than a decentralized model,” he said. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
17 June 21. The Space Force wants to use directed-energy systems for space superiority. The head of the Space Force acknowledged that the U.S. is developing the “appropriate” directed-energy systems to maintain American space superiority, although he declined to provide details in the unclassified setting of a June 16 congressional hearing.
Noting that directed-energy systems could be a possible defensive tool for American satellites, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., asked Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond whether the United States was adequately developing a directed energy portfolio “to be an effective capability for space dominance.”
“Yes sir, we are,” Raymond responded, suggesting that they discuss the issue in more detail in a classified setting. “We have to be able to protect these capabilities that we rely so heavily on.”
In a statement to C4ISRNET, a Space Force spokesperson said, “General Raymond has stated many times that China and Russia have directed energy capabilities that are designed to damage or destroy our satellites. His response to Congressman James Langevin’s question was confirming that our architecture developments in the face of these threats are appropriate.”
The Missile Defense Agency has explored using space-based lasers to intercept ballistic missiles in the past, and other nations have fielded ground-based laser dazzling weapons that can blind on orbit sensors. However, the Space Force has been effectively mum on what weapon systems — conventional or directed energy — it is developing to protect its satellites or defeat enemy satellites. Raymond’s acknowledgement at the hearing might be the first time he’s publicly confirmed the directed energy systems are under development.
The government cited the development of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons by China and Russia as a justification for the creation of Space Command and the Space Force, and since their establishment military space leaders have been quick to criticize ASAT development and testing. U.S. Space Command’s Gen. James Dickinson has heavily criticized direct-ascent missile tests by Russia, which demonstrated the ability to take out satellites in low Earth orbit and the potential to cause dangerous space debris. Perhaps more concerning is a mysterious Russian satellite that has shown the ability to fire a projectile in space. Raymond refers to the spacecraft as an on-orbit weapon system.
“Russia has made space a war-fighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites. This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space,” said Dickinson after a Russian ASAT test in December. “Space is critical to all nations. It is a shared interest to create the conditions for a safe, stable and operationally sustainable space environment.”
However, the Space Force — and the Air Force before it — have always been secretive about what ASAT weapons the U.S. military has or is developing. The one with the most public details is the Counter Communications System, a transportable system that can jam enemy satellites. And while the Air Force is developing laser weapons, it’s not clear what plans — if any — there are to attach them to space systems or direct them at enemy satellites. The U.S. also has missiles that can reach satellites in low Earth orbit.
Reports from the intelligence community and observers have highlighted the development of kinetic weapons — such as those mentioned above — as well as non-kinetic weapons — such as ground-based jammers or laser systems that can effectively blind satellite sensors — by nations deemed American adversaries.
In a report earlier this year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested that the Space Force develop orbital laser weapons to defend American satellites. Titled “Defense Against the Dark Arts in Space,” the report lays out the various types of ASAT weapons and describes several ways the Space Force could defend against them. That includes passive defenses, like building a redundant space architecture that could survive the loss of one or even multiple satellites, and active defenses, such as satellite-mounted lasers that could blind incoming threats.
The U.S. has invested heavily in building passive defenses, such as a distributed architecture like the one described in the report, but it’s less forthcoming on its active defenses. Other nations are less secretive. Most notably, France has stated that it could equip its satellites with weapons — possibly lasers — to defend themselves from adversaries.
While Raymond’s brief comments didn’t give any insight into what the U.S. is developing in regards to directed energy systems for space, they didn’t rule out the types of weapons laid out in the CSIS report.
“It was a limited exchange, but the context of the statements and the statements themselves certainly leave the door open to nonkinetic defensive space capabilities of some kind,” said Todd Harrison, director of the CSIS Aerospace Security Project. “As we noted in our report, on-board electronic countermeasures, such as laser dazzlers and radar jammers, can be an effective way to defend satellites against certain types of kinetic attacks. And it has the advantage of protecting satellites without producing space debris, which is important to the long-term viability of the space domain for all users, not just the U.S. military.” (Source: Defense News)
03 June 21. JROC Tags Space Force To Make Satellites Link With JADC2. The JROC has tagged the Space Force “officially and formally as the integrator for all joint space requirements,” says vice chief Gen. DT Thompson.
The Space Force will be the integrator for all joint space requirements — starting with a satellite backbone for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), service vice chief Gen. DT Thompson says.
The Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) made the decision, Thompson told the MilSatCom symposium today.
“They’ve just completed the process of identifying the Space Force officially and formally as the integrator for all joint space requirements,” he said “That shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you — and you can understand in many cases how broad that is.” But it is now official.
The move was prompted by the JROC’s work on both the Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC) to define future all domain operations in a global war against peer adversaries, and the related JADC2 strategy to flesh out a C2 network structure and related capabilities to underpin that concept. Both are expected to be publicly released any day now.
“The impetus for that designation, and the first new order of business for them, is related to data transport, data relay communications through space to enable Joint All Domain Command and Control,” Thompson said. The decision has already kick-started “the demand signal from the requirements perspective” for a JADC2 comms backbone the Space Force will need to create.
The new Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC) will take the lead in figuring out how to do that, he explained.
“Later this fall, our Space Warfighting Analysis Center will begin a force design initiative specifically focused on data relay/transport communications in space,” Thompson said. This will be a “huge, complex and vital undertaking,” he added, that will require breaking down current stovepipes between traditional satellite communications and Internet-enabled data routing to provide services across a wide variety of radio frequencies and existing military command, control and communications (C3) networks.
The JROC already has laid down the law that all future C2/C3 networks will be based on open data standards as they define them, not the individual services. Further, the Joint Staff J6, responsible for C2 and cyber issues, has instituted a new series of “data summits” to continue to sort out the software standards required in future to make JADC2 work.
One big question for the Space Force, however, will be how to square this new JROC-blessed responsibility with the fact that it is not in charge of building the JADC2 satellite backbone. That is instead, by decree of the previous Defense Secretary Mark Esper, being done by the Space Development Agency (SDA). SDA is an independent Pentagon agency under DoD’s Research & Engineering office, and Director Derek Tournear has authority to make his own decisions about the data link standards SDA intends to use to connect the satellites in its National Defense Space Architecture and in downlink data to terrestrial users across the Joint Force.
Under a planned reorganization of the Space Force, the goal is to switch SDA’s status to a semi-independent body reporting for directly to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond on Oct. 1, 2022 — as mandated by Congress — as part of his responsibility to organize, train and equip the new Guardians. But Raymond, as a service chief, does not have acquisition authority. Congress has mandated creation of a a new, independent space acquisition czar and both SDA and Space Force acquisition will be the responsibility of that person. Under the Biden administration, the Air Force is relenting on its previous antipathy to the idea of splitting air and space acquisition, but it remains yet unclear how fast or in exactly what manner that congressional mandate will be fulfilled.
Another complicated challenge will be how to make sure any new data relay/transport satellites connect with the military’s vast array of current radios, antennas, and ground stations used by other kinds of satellites — and, as importantly, links into the C2 networks already developed by the Army, Navy and Air Force. At the moment, each of the services has been fleshing out slightly different approaches to their C2 networks for implementing JADC2 — the Air Force with its Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the Army with Project Convergence and the Navy with Project Overmatch. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 June 21. Finding next-gen space tech: DASA launches the Space to Innovate Campaign. Over the next year, DASA will release a series of challenge “drops” to find and fund solutions to major space hurdles, with up to £2m in funding available
The space domain, which includes satellites and space-based services, is vital to modern life, enabling a range of civilian and military activities. Any form of disturbance to UK space capabilities, whether that is natural or intentional, can cause a severe disruption to UK prosperity.
To promote space resilience and operational effectiveness, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is pleased to announce that we have teamed up with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Space Programme to launch the Space to Innovate Campaign.
The Space to Innovate Campaign seeks proposals that can maintain the UK’s freedom of action in the space domain by developing future space technologies that enhance and protect space military and civil potential.
The campaign format is unique from other DASA competitions, and comprises of space-related challenges that will be released in “drops” throughout 2021 and 2022. These challenge drops follow the output of previous DASA space themed completions including Space to Innovate Phase 1 and the International Space Pitch Day.
The first challenge drop, called the “Alpha challenge drop” in the Space to Innovate Campaign is now open for proposals! This challenge drop focuses on two challenges:
- Challenge 1: Visualisation tools to enable space operators to exploit information gathered from multiple data sources
- Challenge 2: Novel methods for characterising objects in space and their intent Think you have the solution? Check out the full competition document and submit your idea.
When does the Alpha challenge drop begin and how much funding is available?
The Alpha challenge drop is now open and closes for proposals on 4 August 2021. The value of individual contracts offered throughout the entire Space to Innovate Campaign will be from £125k to £400k, with durations of the contracts expected to be from 6 months to 18 months. The amount of funding available for the entire Space to Innovate Campaign is expected to be £2m, with the campaign ending on 31 March 2023.
The second Bravo challenge drop will address challenges focusing on ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and SSA (Space Situational Awareness).
What are the benefits of the DASA campaign and challenge drop format?
This campaign approach enables greater variation of contract values and durations to be issued by DASA, which provides larger and longer contracts for more mature technologies, whilst also enabling less mature innovations to be explored.
Overall, the benefit of the campaign and drop concept is that it enables a cycle of new innovative ideas to be contracted as well as maturing existing technologies to a higher level.
Alpha drop challenges
Challenge 1: Visualisation tools to enable space operators to exploit information gathered from multiple data sources
For challenge 1, DASA is looking for novel solutions that could help to address issues such as:
- enhancing the situational awareness around a target
- understanding and monitoring manoeuvres and changes of objects in orbit
- streamlining ingestion issues with multiple data sources and different naming conventions
- using machine learning to enhance our understanding and interrogation of the data presented & make sense of results
- visualising uncertainty in data
Challenge 2: Novel methods for characterising objects in space and their intent
For challenge 2, DASA is looking for novel solutions that could help to address issues such as:
- detecting changes of state and predicting future changes
- exploiting non-traditional sensor configurations including bi- or multi-static configurations and the repurposing of existing facilities
- technologies that allow resolution of individual features on an observed satellite, inferring information regarding payloads
- observing the interaction and cooperation between satellites in formation in low Earth orbit (LEO) or geostationary Earth orbit (GEO)
- satellite overflight warning of Earth observation missions primarily in LEO
- asset protection for high value satellites operating in GEO For more information, read the full competition document.
Have the solution? Submit a proposal now!
The closing date for proposals for the Alpha challenge drop is 4 August 2021. Click here for the full document and submit your idea!
15 June 21. Northrop Grumman Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket for the National Reconnaissance Office. Flight extends flawless record of Minotaur product line to 28 missions. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) launched its Minotaur I rocket today at 9:35 a.m. EDT, successfully placing a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload into orbit. The Minotaur I was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0B at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The Minotaur I is a four-staged solid fuel space launch vehicle, featuring two decommissioned Minuteman rocket motors, Northrop Grumman-manufactured Orion 50XL and Orion 38 solid rocket motors, and the company’s state-of-the-art avionics. The vehicle is capable of launching payloads of up to 1,278 pounds (or 580 kilograms) into low Earth orbit.
“This was our second launch of a Minotaur rocket for the NRO from Wallops in the past 12 months,” said Rich Straka, vice president, launch vehicles, Northrop Grumman. “Northrop Grumman is able to repurpose retired Peacekeeper and Minuteman propulsion, integrating them with company built solid rocket motors along with new subsystems for our Minotaur family of launch vehicles, allowing us to provide reliable, cost-effective and responsive access to space for our customers.”
Northrop Grumman launched its Minotaur I rocket today, successfully placing a NRO payload into orbit.
The NROL-111 launch was the 12th Minotaur I flight and 6th from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The Minotaur family of launch vehicles is comprised of multiple configurations, tailored to meet unique mission requirements. The Minotaur fleet has now completed 28 missions from ranges in Alaska, California, Florida and Virginia with 100 percent success. Northrop Grumman’s Minotaur rockets are manufactured at facilities in Chandler, Arizona; Vandenberg, California; and Clearfield and Magna, Utah.
The vehicle used to launch the NROL-111 mission was procured under the OSP-3 contract administered by the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Small Launch and Targets Division at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Minotaur vehicles are currently available to customers under the OSP-4 contract.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.
15 June 21. Thales Launches New Line of Satellite Communications Solution to Ensure Reliable Connectivity Worldwide on Iridium Certus®.
- Thales expands its footprint in L-band maritime and land markets with ThalesLINK 200 series.
- The newest L-band solutions from Thales, MissionLINK 200 and VesseLINK 200 will provide reliable communications everywhere in the world, including the poles.
- The ThalesLINK 200 series is now available worldwide for maritime and land applications through an exclusive network of 19 Official Partners.
Today, Thales announces the launch of its new ThalesLINK product line of L-band solutions – MissionLINK 200 and VesseLINK 200. These solutions are the first of their kind for Iridium Certus® 200 services, which operate on a network of 66 satellites, providing reliable, always-on connectivity everywhere in the world. The unique 200 series is uniquely designed for customers looking for increased mobility, with the same reliability and low-latency that Iridium offers.
“We are very proud of the positive market response to our ThalesLINK products,” said Mike Sheehan, President and CEO of Thales Defense and Security Inc. “The new 200 series of products have been highly anticipated by our partners, and we are excited to continue to exceed expectations.”
The ThalesLINK 200 series is the second product line of L-band solutions on Iridium Certus following the January 2019 launch of MissionLINK 700 – for land applications – and VesseLINK 700 – for maritime applications. The arrival of the high-performing, small form factor MissionLINK 200 and VesseLINK 200 solutions now bring the powerful Iridium Certus service platform to a new set of customers, on-land and at-sea.
The powerful MissionLINK 200 and VesseLINK 200 solutions provide 176 kbps of upload/download speed for voice and data communications in extreme environmental conditions such as temperatures that range from -40 to +55° C. They also feature highly-compact, lighter-weight antennas that weigh less than 0.7 kilograms (1.5 pounds), making them ideal solutions for smaller platforms ranging from racing sailboats to public safety vehicles.
“TheVesseLINK 200 and MissionLINK 200 deliver a unique size and performance combination that allow more customers to access reliability connectivity in the maritime and land markets,” said Bryan Hartin, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Iridium. “Thales is a highly valued Iridium partner and our long-standing relationship enables us to continue innovating together to create the highest quality products that work anywhere in the world.”
These new ThalesLINK 200 solutions have undergone rigorous testing and validation by both Thales and Iridium, as well as six Official Beta Partners that distribute L-band satellite communications solutions for a variety of land and sea missions. Exceeding expectations of the testing partners, these cutting-edge, next-generation solutions are now available through an exclusive network of 19 Official Partners.
Now more than ever, customers around the globe may rely on Thales for decisive connectivity solutions, whatever their mission.
14 June 21. NATO says attack in space could trigger mutual defense clause. NATO leaders on Monday expanded the use of their all for one, one for all, mutual defense clause to include a collective response to attacks in space.
Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty states that an attack on any one of the 30 allies will be considered an attack on them all. Until now, it’s only applied to more traditional military attacks on land, sea, or in the air, and more recently in cyberspace.
In a summit statement, the leaders said they “consider that attacks to, from, or within space” could be a challenge to NATO that threatens “national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability, and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack.”
“Such attacks could lead to the invocation of Article 5. A decision as to when such attacks would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis,” they said.
Around 2,000 satellites orbit the earth, over half operated by NATO countries, ensuring everything from mobile phone and banking services to weather forecasts. Military commanders rely on some of them to navigate, communicate, share intelligence and detect missile launches.
In December 2019, NATO leaders declared space to be the alliance’s “fifth domain” of operations, after land, sea, air and cyberspace. Many member countries are concerned about what they say is increasingly aggressive behavior in space by China and Russia.
Around 80 countries have satellites, and private companies are moving in, too. In the 1980s, just a fraction of NATO’s communications was via satellite. Today, it’s at least 40%. During the Cold War, NATO had more than 20 stations, but new technologies mean the world’s biggest security organization can double its coverage with a fifth of that number.
NATO’s collective defense clause has only been activated once, when the members rallied behind the United States following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Former President Donald Trump raised deep concern among U.S. allies, notably those bordering Russia like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, when he suggested that he might not rally to their side if they didn’t boost their defense budgets.
President Joe Biden has been trying to reassure them since taking office and has used the summit, his first at NATO, as a formal opportunity to underline America’s commitment to its European allies and Canada.
Biden said Monday that Article 5 is “a sacred obligation” among allies. “I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is there,” he said. “The United States is there.” (Source: Defense News)
14 June 21. GPS III Launch Will Provide Global M-Code.
“OCX and the user equipment piece do not come online until the third quarter of 2023; that is when we would expect to have our initial operational capability for the GPS enterprise across across all segments: space, ground and user equipment,” said Space and Missile Command’s Col. Ed Byrne.
The Space Force plans to launch the fifth GPS III satellite Thursday, which will allow the constellation to broadcast the encrypted M-Code positioning, timing and navigation signal to military users anywhere on the globe. The planned launch was actually moved forward from its original July schedule.
GPS III Space Vehicle-5 (SV-5), built by Lockheed Martin, will bring the number of satellites in the GPS constellation equipped with M-Code to 24 — the ‘magic number’ for allowing global access to the jam-resistant signal. Those 24 satellites include the five latest-model GPS III birds, as well GPS IIR-M and GPS IIF satellites. There are 31 GPS sats in total; GPS III SV-5 will replace one of the early models.
The code will begin broadcasting once the satellite is operational, which should be “two weeks after launch,” Col. Edward Byrne, senior materiel leader, Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division at Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), said today in a briefing with reporters.
The GPS III constellation is planned to include 10 satellites, before moving on to an updated version called GPS IIIF. While Space Force doesn’t like to provide exact costs for each satellite, Walter Lauderdale, Falcon Division chief and deputy mission director at SMC’s Launch Enterprise, said that earlier GPS III satellites had a price tag of some $500m; the last two are expected to cost only about $200m. (This is also the first time Space Force will take advantage of a previously used SpaceX booster, which has contributed to lower costs.)
Of course, there is still the not-so-tiny problem of getting troubled OCX, the command and control system, up and running so the Global Position System can fully utilize the M-Code. That won’t happen until 2023 at the earliest, Byrne said.
“Digital capabilities will roll in over the next year to take advantage of the GPS III capabilities,” he said. That will allow us to declare IOC [initial operational capability] for the constellation,” he said. “OCX and the user equipment piece do not come online until the third quarter of 2023; that is when we would expect to have our initial operational capability for the GPS enterprise across across all segments: space, ground and user equipment.” The plan, he added, is to “hit that milestone in the third quarter” of fiscal year 2023.
Prime contractor Raytheon’s Intelligence & Space unit will deliver Block 1 of the long-delayed OCX (short for Next Generation Operational Control Segment) for use by the Space Force in 2022, program manager Jeff McCall has told us. In addition, he said 13 of the 17 GPS monitor stations are deployed worldwide, and the system’s high-fidelity GPS system simulator was recently accredited.
OCX has had a troubled history, to say the least — including a serious Nunn-McCurdy breach back in 2016 that drew the wrath of the likely Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, when he was DoD acquisition czar. Kendall was cleared by the Senate Armed Service Committee last week.
How bad have OCX’s problems been? The most recent data from the Government Accountability Office says it is now 73 percent over its original budget, Jon Ludwigson, the congressional watchdog agency’s director of contracting and national security acquisitions, told a hearing of the House Armed Service’s strategic forces subcommittee last month.
Currently, all GPS satellites use the government’s current GPS control system, called OCS for Operational Control System. Until OCX comes in, Lockheed Martin has been contracted to sustain the OCS through 2025, as well as provide a series of stop-gap software upgrades. Those upgrades now allow the OCS to operate the more powerful GPS IIIs (and the rest of the constellation), as well as to task, upload and monitor the encrypted M-Code signals. But that doesn’t full enable the M-Code’s use.
Meanwhile, DoD soldiers on with its much-delayed efforts to enable the plethora of different types of GPS receivers embedded in the radio systems used by US (and allied) soldiers, sailors and airmen to actually pick up the M-Code and use it.
The delay in OCX and delivery of GPS user terminals “means that jam-resistant signal capabilities of GPS satellites launched over 15 years ago still cannot be fully used for military operations,” Ludwigson told lawmakers. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
14 June 21. Pegasus XL rocket launches US Space Force’s TacRL-2 mission. The Pegasus air-launched rocket system was launched to LEO by the Stargazer L-1011 aircraft. The USSF successfully launched the TacRL-2 mission on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base. Credit: United States Air Force.
A Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket has launched the US Space Force’s (USSF) Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2) mission on 13 June.
The three-stage rocket was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California to deliver a ‘technology demonstration satellite’ to low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Pegasus is an air-launched rocket system. It was carried by Stargazer L-1011 aircraft.
Within a short period after its release from Stargazer, Pegasus ignited its first stage at approximately 40,000ft above the Pacific Ocean and carried the TacRL-2 mission to its intended orbit.
Northrop Grumman launch vehicles vice-president Rich Straka said: “This Pegasus launch was a clear demonstration of our team’s ability to provide rapid and responsive operational needs.
“Our team was able to execute the design, integration and testing of the TacRL-2 launch vehicle in less than four months from contract award.”
The latest one is the 45th launch of Pegasus, which uses solid propulsion to provide maximum responsiveness by allowing launch to a wide range of orbits within ‘short timelines’.
So far, Pegasus has launched more than 90 satellites into LEO from five different launch sites in the US, Europe, and the Marshall Islands.
USSF Space Operations chief general John Raymond said: “The space domain is defined by speed and with this effort, we demonstrated the kind of speed it will take to win. We executed a ‘21-day call-up’ to get a satellite on orbit, pulling the payload, mating it with the rocket and integrating the combined package onto the aircraft.”
The TacRL-2 mission was executed by the Small Launch and Targets Division within the Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Launch Enterprise, in collaboration with SMC’s Space Safari Office.
It is operated by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Space Dynamics Laboratory.
According to the USSF, TacRL-2 was the first mission supported by SMC’s Space Safari Program Office. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 June 21. Northrop Grumman Successfully Launches Pegasus XL Rocket for the US Space Force. Company executes design, integration and testing of launch vehicle in less than four months
– Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully launched the Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2) payload into orbit for the U.S. Space Force (USSF), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), using the company’s Pegasus XL rocket. TacRL-2 was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Pegasus, the world’s first privately-developed commercial space launch vehicle, is an air-launched three-staged rocket carried aloft by Northrop Grumman’s specially modified “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft. Shortly after its release from Stargazer, at approximately 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, Pegasus ignited its first stage, beginning its successful flight carrying TacRL-2 to its intended orbit.
Northrop Grumman successfully launched the TacRL-2 payload into orbit for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center using the company’s Pegasus XL rocket.
“This Pegasus launch was a clear demonstration of our team’s ability to provide rapid and responsive operation needs,” said Rich Straka, vice president, launch vehicles, Northrop Grumman. “Our team was able to execute the design, integration and testing of the TacRL-2 launch vehicle in less than four months from contract award.”
This is the 45th successful launch of Pegasus, which uses solid propulsion to offer maximum responsiveness by enabling launch to a wide variety of orbits on short timelines. This capability provides customers with the flexibility to operate from virtually anywhere on Earth with minimal ground support requirements. Pegasus has launched more than 90 satellites into low earth orbit from five separate launch sites in the United States, Europe and the Marshall Islands.
09 June 21. A First For Mauritius. The Nation’s MIR-SAT1 Smallsat Launched From The ISS. The first ever Mauritian smallsat — MIR-SAT1 — has docked at the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX CRS22 Dragon mission on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
The spacecraft traveled for 26 hours before reaching the ISS after the takeof from from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Thursday, June 3, at 17:29 UTC (21:29 Mauritian time – GMT+4). The Mauritian smallsat will be sent into LEO from ISS no later than June 22.
The MRIC has established a ground station at its premises in Ebène to receive data from MIR-SAT 1. The data will be used for various purposes, including maritime surveillance of Mauritius’ vast, exclusive, economic zone, climate change adaptation, weather forecasting and road traffic management.
This is a historic move for Mauritius, which has plans to engage in space and satellite technology as part of the country’s national development agenda. The Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr. Deepak Balgobin, and other dignitaries, watched the SpaceX-CRS22 Cargo Dragon rocket take off from the Government House in Port Louis. Among those present were members of the Board of Directors of the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC), the Government agency that is operating the smallsat project in Mauritius.
Minister Deepak Balgobin stated that, “After two years of hard work, the nanosatellite has now reached the ISS. This springboard to space opens up new opportunities and initiatives for our country through space and satellite technology and gives new impetus to our socio-economic development. Mauritius made a first big step into space science and technology. This is a momentous achievement and reflects the vision of the Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, of a knowledge-based economy. Even if the satellite is small in size, just like our island, today’s launch indicates that the giant leap has been successful and poses Mauritius high in the sky.”
A team of scientists from the MRIC, an agency that operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, has developed the smallsat and the related facilities with the technical support from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (Source: Satnews)
10 June 21. Mynaric Demos Laser Comms Using The Space Development Agency’s OISL Standard. Late last month, Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) successfully demo’d their implementation of the Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL) Standard of the Space Development Agency (SDA).
The demonstration marks a crucial milestone in the industrialization of laser communication and, as such, a first step in the technology’s widespread adoption within the satellite industry and beyond.
Mynaric has achieved the industry’s first over-the-air transmission using an OISL terminal communicating with an independently built testbed both of which are compliant with the SDA’s OISL standard. The demonstration was composed of a set of optical and electronic tests characterizing Mynaric’s CONDOR optical, inter-satellite link product. The successful demonstration confirmed that Mynaric’s product are downward compliant with the SDA OISL Standard, thereby ensuring baseline compatibility with products of other OISL vendors implementing the same standard.
The demonstration marks yet another positive achievement in support of SDA’s efforts to establish the National Defense Space Architecture, a large-scale satellite constellation providing a range of capabilities to U.S. warfighters and to be comprised of several hundred, laser-linked satellites. After procuring first satellites for the program last year, SDA is currently seeking industry feedback on its approach to procure the next tranche of up to 150 satellites, each equipped with optical links.
Mynaric is currently in the process of setting up a laser communication link testbed at the firm’s Los Angeles facilities that will replicate the already-established facility at the company’s headquarters in Munich. The internal testing facilities will allow Mynaric to fully test its terminals and their compliance with the SDA OISL standard in-house to further reduce development time. They will also allow third parties to test their compatibility with Mynaric’s products.
“In the quest to support the SDA and other governmental customers in our core markets, it is important that we help bridge the differences between the commercial and governmental markets, and reduce the risks of technology adoption. Standardization is crucial in facilitating both objectives and we are excited to be leading the field with our CONDOR line of terminals. We are proud to have yet another industry first under our belt.” Bulent Altan, CEO, Mynaric. (Source: Satnews)
09 June 21. Kymeta Broadens Network Offerings for Government and Military Through Strategic Partnership with Comtech. The Kymeta™ u8 GO provides a complete connectivity solution for on-the-go communications when and where you need it. (Photo: Business Wire)
Kymeta has begun a strategic technology partnership with Comtech EF Data Corp a provider of satellite communication equipment. The agreement enables Kymeta to broaden its network of offerings for the Kymeta™ u8 terminal through interoperability with Comtech’s SLM-5650B modem.
The pairing of the u8 antenna and Comtech modem using the Open Antenna to Modem Interface Protocol (OpenAMIP), an industry-wide open-source standard for antenna-router integration, allows for seamless integration and automatic operation through the use of both Low Density Parity Check (“LDPC”) waveforms and STANAG 4486 Edition 3, Annex E (EBEM) waveforms.
The Comtech SLM-5650B is a U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command (ARSTRAT) Wideband Global SATCOM certified modem for critical commercial backhaul, as well as government and military applications. It is fully compliant with MIL-STD-188-165A/B, complies with and supports FIPS 140-2 certified encryption.
Kymeta u8 terminals, antennas, and ODUs are easy to set up and acquire service within minutes of installation. The u8 is also available in a transportable configuration called the u8 GO, which is ideal for rapid deployments. The u8 GO enables safe transport with a hardened case for protection and provides a built-in car mount to support easy communications on the pause (COTP) and on the move (COTM).
“The integration of the u8 antenna with the Comtech modem allows users to upgrade to a SATCOM-on-the-move (SOTM) capability while utilizing existing modem and hub architecture,” said Neville Meijers, Kymeta Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer. “The ability to leverage existing network hardware while adding the SOTM capability will rapidly enhance unit capabilities. The low SWaP-C2 of the u8 terminal also makes it a perfect choice for upgrading legacy COTM terminals.”
“Comtech is very excited to expand our solution set and capabilities offered to our government and military user base,” said Fred Kornberg, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Comtech Telecommunications Corp. “The engineering, development, and testing of the mobility protocols between our widely fielded SLM-5650B satellite modem and Kymeta’s state-of-the-art u8 antenna expands the range of missions we can support and further demonstrates the flexibility and long-term developmental support our government and military users expect from our products.”
Kymeta’s next-generation solutions are built for mobility and designed to meet the needs of global defense agencies, government, public safety, and commercial customers. Kymeta’s products and services have been field deployed for over three years and received an overwhelmingly positive response from the industry. Kymeta’s new products and services offer a breakthrough in performance, ease of use, and affordability, and Kymeta anticipates that these solutions will further enhance its position in both commercial and government markets, further increasing its lead over competitive offerings.
This strategic technology partnership with Comtech follows a series of recently announced relationships to further expand Kymeta solutions and trainings for government and defense agencies and its Global TRANSEC Secure Network, which is available coverage in the U.S., Middle East, and Europe. (Source: Satnews)
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