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19 Jul 18. $1.5m boost for SA start-up under Innovation Hub contracts. South Australian start-up Silentium Defence has secured $1.5m in federal government contracts to develop a variety of space-based systems, which will improve space tracking and ground-based situational awareness for Australian troops. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announced today that SA-based Silentium Defence has been awarded two Defence Innovation Hub contracts. Making the announcement at the opening of Silentium Defence’s new facility in Parafield, South Australia, Minister Pyne said he was pleased to award the contracts. The new facility will support Silentium Defence’s continued growth from an ambitious deep-tech start-up to a global leader exporting high technology products. It delivers unfettered access to regular air traffic movements and patterns as well as neighbouring ground, maritime and air traffic data used to further test, develop and enhance the technology.
“One contract, valued at $870,000, will be used to advance the concept of a system to provide enhanced space situational awareness. The second contract, valued at $647,000, will support the development of a capability to provide broad-area situational awareness for bases and vehicles,” said Minister Pyne.
The contracts are for development of new situational awareness capabilities for Defence and include ground-based passive radar technology that will allow Australian forces and their allies to ‘see without being seen’ and unique ‘wide-field-of-view’ space surveillance technology that will allow Australia to independently track and monitor objects in orbit around Earth.
Dr James Palmer, chief executive of Silentium Defence, said, “We’re thrilled to get these projects underway and to deliver not just new technology for Defence, but world-leading capability and new export opportunities for Australia.”
The Parafield facility is home to Silentium Defence’s growing team of expert engineers, project managers and support staff charged with delivery of the two contracted projects in the next 12 months. The facility provides a base for collaboration between Silentium Defence and its research partners, including the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) and Curtin University in Western Australia.
“This facility delivers unfettered access to regular air traffic movements and patterns as well as neighbouring ground, maritime and air traffic data that we can use to quickly test, adjust and continue to enhance our technology,” Dr Palmer said.
Silentium Defence commenced operations in April 2017 after it completed the national science and technology accelerator, ‘ON, powered by CSIRO’ and spun-out of the DST Group.
In October 2017, Silentium Defence secured an early commercialisation grant from the South Australian start-up incubator TechInSA. This grant was used to develop prototype systems and to support the space surveillance work. Silentium Defence has appointed five full-time and six part-time staff and contractors with plans for further growth, and will continue to forge new ground in the application of passive radar technologies for improved situational awareness. (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Jul 18. Airbus launches AirSense and signs strategic partnership with Aireon.
- AirSense provides reliable airspace analytics solutions built upon real-time, multi-source ADS-B data fusion
- Unique data partnership with Aireon enables global live aircraft surveillance
Airbus Defence and Space has launched AirSense, an advanced analytics solution enabled by multi-source surveillance data, based on global Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data. AirSense is based on various aircraft positions data feeds. The agreement signed at the Farnborough Air Show forms a strategic partnership between Airbus and Aireon, provider of global, space-based ADS-B data. This partnership is enabling AirSense to accurately track any aircraft in real-time and identify flight-related events around the globe. With upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements and growing volumes of air traffic, aviation stakeholders increasingly require real-time situational awareness on a global scale – supporting effective decision-making. AirSense now combines Aireon‘s global, space-based ADS-B data with unique Airbus assets and domain expertise to offer advanced analytics leading to further enhance the aircraft situational awareness, optimize flight routes, increase airport capacity, optimize airspace utilization and improve the overall travel experience. The collaboration also paves the way to further develop applications for improved industry operations delivered through the various Airbus service offerings.
Evert Dudok, Executive Vice President Airbus Defence and Space, said: “We are very proud to have Aireon as a strategic partner to Airbus. Their unique, global space-based ADS-B data will enable Airbus to apply its domain expertise and with AirSense further develop aggregated, live and predictive analytics serving at large the aviation industry with trusted insights.”
Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon, said: “Our strategic partnership with Airbus allows us to combine Aireon’s unique data with AirSense offerings bringing more value to the broader airspace community. Airbus develops and deploys ground-breaking assets for the aviation industry and they are a great partner for future services and solutions. Airbus prides itself on safety and efficiency and these are two of Aireon’s overarching core values.”
17 Jul 18. mu Space and SSL Work Together on Satellite Systems. Satellite and space company mu Space Corp today announced a collaboration with SSL, a Maxar Technologies company and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, to develop concepts for communications and Earth observation satellites. SSL brings a depth of technical expertise and an agile approach to helping mu Space with its plans to launch a satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in the early 2020s. The satellite is intended for earth observation applications including remote sensing technology. SSL designs and builds satellites ranging from a few kilowatts of power to more than 25 kilowatts for a broad range of applications including direct broadcast (DBS), high throughput satellites (HTS) for consumer broadband, and Earth observation. The company will work with mu Space to tailor designs to meet its market demand. A mu Space low-orbit satellite could also be used for agricultural observation, national security purposes, and satellite-enabled broadband applications using advanced phased-array antennas.
“At mu Space, our mission is to enable Internet of Things (IoT) and smart solutions via satellite to improve the quality of life of people. As such, we’ve been searching for an ideal partner who can develop our satellite on schedule and at the right price point. With SSL’s strong track record in manufacturing satellites, we’re confident we can achieve that,” said James Yenbamroong, founder and CEO at mu Space.
“At SSL, we make space simple for companies with exciting concepts and promising business plans, such as mu Space,” said Mark Sarojak, vice president, Commercial Earth Observation at SSL. “SSL is the leader in commercial communications satellites and we have built 11 small Earth Observation satellites that were launched over the past two years. SSL has the technical expertise, agile mindset, and years of experience needed to help mu Space succeed.”
“Low-orbit satellites are capable of delivering these services. That is made possible with LEO satellites’ lower launch costs, reduced power requirements and a significantly reduced roundtrip transmission delay,” concluded James.
mu Space, founded in 2017, develops satellite communication technologies to accelerate the adoption of Internet of Things devices and smart cities. It plans to launch its own satellite in 2020 using Blue Origin’s New Glenn space vehicle and to lead space technology development in Asia-Pacific. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
17 Jul 18. UK military eyes on-demand space launch from new spaceport. The creation of a new spaceport in Scotland has the British military eyeing the ability to get national security payloads into space in as little as 72 hours. The Malness spaceport is scheduled to have its first launch in 2023, with a Lockheed Martin-led team delivering six cubesats into orbit focused on a weather-monitoring project. But if Air Vice-Marshal Simon Rochelle, chief of staff for capability and force development with the Royal Air Force, has his way, military launches will start soon after. What the first payload could be is unclear, but Rochelle told reporters at a Lockheed briefing that he wants to see the U.K.’s persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in space increase. After the briefing, Rochelle told Defense News he believes the U.K. can use the Melness location to get operationally relevant assets into space, ideally within 72 hours of need.
“It may be beneficial to have as smallsat, a cube or something to be launched over a humanitarian disaster area, and you just happen to have one good to go and you can put it in the right place,” Rochelle said during the Farnborough Airshow. “Then in a time of contested [activities], what you want to have is resilience. … It just might need to be replacing a few as things happen and occur. It’s that ability. We think it’s important to be responsive.”
Obviously, having on-demand space launch would require having easy access to rockets to get the systems into space. While offering the option that the military could perhaps buy a launch vehicle and keep it on hand for emergencies, Rochelle also noted that the economics of the new spaceport require a constant stream of launches going up, meaning hitching a ride shouldn’t be difficult. Could that involve the U.K. passing legal requirements for launches that allows a national security payload to replace a commercial one in an emergency?
“Not necessarily a law in place, but we might want to have an arrangement,” Rochelle said, while noting his office doesn’t manage the legal aspects of the port. “It’s an immature process at the moment, but we know we want [responsive launch] and we know we think it’s important, and we haven’t got beyond that point in real details.”
Rochelle also made it clear he thinks allies, including the U.S. and the other Five Eyes nations, should consider using the Malness location to get their systems into orbit.
“Yeah, why not? Why not? It’s about cost,” he said. “We go and buy airplanes together, we can buy AWACS together, think of federated capability, think of how partners work symbiotically with each other,” he added, referring to airborne early warning and control systems.
“The more we can — Five-Eyes and allies — respond effectively, or even offer deterrence, dissuasion, we may actually control that space domain rather than being threatened or outmaneuvered in the space domain,” he said. “So all of those things are very, very keen to us.” (Source: Defense News)
17 Jul 18. Satellite launch operator Skyrora chooses Cornwall for first rocket engine test. Launch operator Skyrora has announced that it will begin its engine testing programme at Cornwall Airport Newquay’s rocket test facility in Q4 this year. The site will be an operational Spaceport by 2021. The event is expected to be the first liquid engine test by a British small-satellite launcher to take place in the UK since Black Arrow around 50 years ago. The announcement was made at the Farnborough International Airshow. Edinburgh-based Skyrora selected Cornwall after considering alternative facilities across Europe. The company aims to capture a share of the fast-growing small satellite launch market and has already manufactured two completely different engines for testing at separate locations this year, allowing them to move at pace as they work towards their first test launch. Skyrora will carry out a series of test firings at Newquay for their “LEO” engine, which will eventually be used to propel their satellite launch vehicle’s upper stage. They will utilise a hardened aircraft shelter which was previously used by the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car project for rocket tests in preparation for a world land speed record attempt next year. Skyrora’s deployment at Cornwall Airport Newquay is being supported by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), through its Enterprise Zone Infrastructure Fund.
Daniel Smith, Director of Business Development at Skyrora, said: “Newquay is a great fit for us because of the enthusiasm and support from the team, combined with the immediate availability of the facility, providing us with a perfect short-term solution while we work towards establishing our own strategic capability north of the border for our larger engines”.
Mark Duddridge, Chairman of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “Our recently published Space Action Plan outlines how we intend to build a £1bn space economy by 2030, so we are delighted to welcome Skyrora to Cornwall where we are laying the foundations for tomorrow’s global space industry.”
The Airport’s rocket test facility is seen as a critical piece of infrastructure for Spaceport Cornwall which is planning to be the UK’s first horizontal launch spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay, operational by 2021.
Al Titterington, Managing Director of Cornwall Airport Newquay, said: “It’s exciting to be involved in another project that demonstrates the capabilities of the Airport, which go far beyond air passenger services.”
17 Jul 18. BAE Systems and Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) have entered into a partnership to commercialise deep space communications. BAE Systems has today signed a memorandum of understanding to supply two Tracking, Telemetry and Command Processor (TTCP) systems to GES at Farnborough International Airshow. This technology will allow GES to track and communicate with a wide range of spacecraft including future manned and robotic missions to the Moon and Mars. The partnership will involve close working on the current deep space programme with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the development of a global network in the next four years. The TTCP provides uplink and downlink services to support the spacecraft. The uplink transmits commands that control the spacecraft and the downlink receives data including critical spacecraft health information, images, video and other scientific and engineering information.
Key features of the TTCP equipment include:
- A fully digital and flexible Software Defined Radio (SDR) able to support data rates from 1 bit per second to 300 megabits per second from multiple spacecraft simultaneously, with 50 times the processing power of current technology.
- Tracking functions able to determine the spacecraft distance to around 10cm at ranges of billions of km.
- Doppler measurement functions able to determine the spacecraft’s velocity away from or towards the ground station to an accuracy of around 0.01mm/s for speed in excess of 50m/s.
- Flexible, high bandwidth digital receiver that enables networking with other ground stations to increase the performance of signal reception. The unprocessed received data can also be sent to other stations for further complex analysis.
- Proven in service at ESA Deep Space Ground stations and currently used to support ESA missions such as Gaia, Lisa Pathfinder and Exomars, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) missions such as Dawn.
Goonhilly is set to become the world’s first privately-owned member of the Deep Space Network under a new contract recently announced by ESA and Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (CIoSLEP). Under the contract, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd will upgrade its largest antenna to meet the exacting requirements for deep space communications, making use of the TTCP technology to achieve these challenging objectives.
Nick James, BAE Systems lead engineer for the project, said: “BAE Systems has developed a highly precise space communications and tracking system designed to support spacecraft operating both near the Earth and in deep space. The technology receives and converts faint radio signals from spacecraft into data that mission controllers use to monitor and control the spacecraft. The highly flexible system is able to handle differing ESA and NASA requirements and protocols, which makes it an ideal choice to support Goonhilly in future space missions.”
Ian Jones, Goonhilly CEO, said: “We have a great deal of interest in using Goonhilly’s upgraded antenna from our international customer base, including space agencies and some of the new private space exploration companies. This system will ensure that we can support missions for a number of space agencies.”
This represents the first time TTCP has been purchased by a private company and is also now operational in the ESA Deep Space Network.
17 Jul 18. Following the announcement of Orbex’s £30m funding round for the development of an orbital space launch system, Elecnor Deimos and Orbex have announced that the two companies have strengthened their relationship: Elecnor Deimos has acquired a stake in Orbex and both companies have signed a strategic agreement, building on previous collaborations between the two companies when successfully bidding together in UK and international tenders. Under the terms of the agreement, Orbex will become the preferred supplier of all launch services required to place Elecnor Deimos satellites into orbit. Elecnor Deimos will likewise become the preferred supplier of various critical launch systems required to develop and operate the Orbex launcher system, including the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system. Recently emerging from stealth mode, Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company, with subsidiaries and production facilities in Denmark and Germany. The company is constructing a completely re-thought and re-designed orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, to deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit. The Prime launcher has a novel architecture that eliminates the fundamental mass challenge of small launchers. Prime launchers are up to 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, packing more power per cubic litre than many heavy launchers. Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium. Elecnor Deimos will contribute with its expertise to the development of the Orbex launcher in areas including:
– Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) including algorithms, software, test benches and validation and verification processes.
– Mission Analysis, Mission Engineering and System Engineering, including flight dynamics, safety range and launcher performance.
– Ground Segment Systems, including Command and Control Center, Ground Support Equipment, ranging systems and ground stations.
“Orbex’s partnership with Elecnor Deimos is significant for us on a number of levels,” said Chris Larmour, Orbex CEO. “It demonstrates that as well as technological maturity, we have achieved a milestone in business maturity, where we are already in a position to become the preferred launch partner for an organisation as significant as Elecnor Deimos. It also helps us maintain our accelerated pace of development, as we are able to incorporate tried-and-tested critical launch systems from Elecnor Deimos ranging from navigation to ground and mission control systems.”
“The huge potential of Orbex quickly became clear to Elecnor Deimos, which is why we became both an investor in the company as well as a strategic partner,” commented Miguel Belló Mora, CEO, Elecnor Deimos. “By using a number of our advanced navigation and mission support systems, Orbex is leaping ahead in its ability to safely and efficiently execute small satellite launches in the near future. This in turn helps Elecnor Deimos as it gives us access to innovative and efficient launch vehicles, which will be launching from several sites within Europe.”
The smallsat launch market is projected to grow strongly to around $60bn between 2018-2030, with a strong shift towards more international satellite operators. More than 30 commercial consortia are currrently building smallsats constellations, with almost 12,000 satellites expected to be launched by 2030. Each satellite has a life expectancy of 3-5 years, creating a strong ongoing demand for upgrade and replenishment.
“There is a quiet revolution taking place, thanks to small satellites,” said Bart Markus, Orbex’s Chairman. “Smallsats are now able to perform a huge range of tasks at very low cost, making them a smart choice for satellite operators both commercially and logistically. But there is currently a huge bottleneck in getting them delivered into orbit, which means that satellite operators’ revenues are being delayed. With Orbex, international smallsat operators now have access to a new class of launch service which which was designed exclusively to serve their needs. We intend to relieve the smallsat bottleneck so that satellite operators have a reliable, long-term solution for orbital access.”
17 Jul 18. Satellites and big data analytics provide new eyes to protect the sea.
- •Based on a proprietary patent, leveraging the use of cloud computing and big data analytics, SEonSE provides real-time maritime surveillance services to detect illegal activities, support environment monitoring and fight piracy
- •SEonSE merges data coming from various sources, such as COSMO-SkyMed and Copernicus satellites, the exactEarth service providing the position of vessels, the world registry of ships, meteorological and oceanographic information
- •SEonSE will be used by the European strategic research programme OCEAN2020 for naval surveillance and maritime safety Farnborough, 17 July 2018 – SEonSE (Smart Eyes on the SEas), Leonardo’s geospatial maritime security platform, goes online today. Thanks to the use of cloud computing and of advanced big data analysis models, SEonSE makes it possible to access in real-time, even from tablets or smartphones, customised information on what happens at sea. The announcement was made at the “Farnborough International Airshow” exhibition being held in the United Kingdom, where the solution implemented by e-GEOS (a joint venture between Telespazio 80% and ASI 20%) was presented. This platform integrates data coming from multiple sources and provides multiple services for maritime security and surveillance, monitoring of illegal traffic, environment protection as well as fight against piracy.
“With SEonSE, maritime security can fully leverage on the advantages offered by digital technology. A huge amount of data is automatically processed in real-time for the protection of people and the maritime environment” declared Luigi Pasquali, Leonardo’s Coordinator of Space activities and Telespazio’s CEO. “This revolutionary platform is based on the knowledge of an industrial Group, Leonardo, a leader in the development and supply of integrated systems and technologies for maritime domain awareness, and on 25-years of experience in the Earth observation domain, with e-GEOS as an international leader.”
SEonSE processes information acquired from satellites and coastline radars and merges them on an automatic and continuous basis, thanks to proprietary algorithms, with positioning data sent by vessels (AIS, VMS, LRIT), registries of ships and various databases along with meteorological and oceanographic information. This data is then compared with historical information and customary behaviors, making it possible to identify anomalous activities and potential threats to security. The result is timely and easily accessible information, crucial to identifying possible risks which are signaled by automatically generated alerts to intercept the vessel in question, to plan the actions of the relevant authorities and to trace secure routes in hostile environments.
16 Jul 18. Airbus opens first serial production facility for Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellites. Airbus Defence and Space has unveiled the new Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite) to the world at Farnborough Air Show this morning. The Zephyr S is the first production aircraft of the Zephyr programme, previous Zephyr units being Research and Development prototypes. Zephyr is the world’s leading, solar–electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It harnesses the sun’s rays, running exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic; filling a capability gap complimentary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide affordable and persistent local satellite-like services. Named after the late Chris Kelleher, the inventor of Zephyr, the opening of production facilities is part of a significant focus by Airbus on the Zephyr programme. The Kelleher facility represents the first serial HAPS assembly line worldwide.
“Today represents a significant milestone in the Zephyr programme. The facility is home to the world’s leading High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite and will be a showcase location, linking to our operational flight bases around the world. The Zephyr S aircraft is demonstrably years ahead of any other comparable system and I am beyond proud of the Airbus team for their unrivalled success. Today we have created a new future for stratospheric flight”, said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Defence and Space.
This programme milestone comes as the Zephyr aircraft is currently flying after having departed for its maiden flight from Arizona, USA a few days ago. This flight is being supported by both the UK and US governments and reflects the UK Ministry of Defence’s position as the first customer for this innovative and potentially game changing capability. This maiden flight of the Zephyr S aims to prove and demonstrate the aircraft capabilities, with a landing date to be confirmed once the engineering objectives have been achieved. Until today, the Zephyr aircraft has logged almost 1,000 solid hours of flying time.
Added Sophie Thomas, Head of the Zephyr programme at Airbus: “Firstly, I would like to thank Defence Equipment & Support, the procurement arm of the UK MOD for their continued support of the Zephyr programme. Zephyr will bring new see, sense and connect capabilities to both military and commercial customers. Zephyr will provide the potential to revolutionise disaster management, including monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills. It provides persistent surveillance, tracing the world’s changing environmental landscape and will be able to provide communications to the most unconnected parts of the world.”
In future, Airbus will be flying Zephyr S from their new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia. This has been chosen as the first launch and recovery site for the Zephyr UAV due mainly to its largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather. The site will be operational from September 2018.
13 Jul 18. What should DARPA send to space? They want your suggestions. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking ideas for payloads to use in the DARPA Launch Challenge, a competition focused on successfully deploying assets to low-Earth orbit. A recent request for information from the U.S. Defense Department agency solicits ideas on “potential payloads to use in conjunction” with the Launch Challenge, with a maximum allowable weight of 500 kilograms, or 1,102 pounds. The challenge seeks to “demonstrate the ability to launch payloads to orbit on extremely short notice, with no prior knowledge of the payload, destination orbit or launch site, and do it not just once, but twice, in a matter of days,” according to the agency’s description. As space becomes an increasingly important security domain, DARPA is hoping to spur development of launch vehicles that will allow the Pentagon to more frequently and more easily bring cargo, such as satellites, to orbit than larger rocket contracts allow. In a clue to what assets the Pentagon would like to carry into space, the RFI specifies that payloads “that consist of multiple quantities of small spacecraft (e.g., CubeSat-class) with a single interface (ie: dispenser) to the launch vehicle are also of interest.” CubeSat satellites are less than 10-by?10-by?10 centimenters, and such small satellites can be used for studies on space technology and Earth observation. Responses for payload suggestions to use in the challenge are due July 27. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
16 Jul 18. The UK Space Agency has selected Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to help implement its vision for the UK Spaceflight Programme, an innovative initiative to create a world-leading commercial launch market that grows the UK economy through regular, reliable and responsible access to space.
“The countdown to the first orbital rocket launch from UK soil has officially begun,” said Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s UK Country Executive for Space. “The UK Government has stated its desire to grow the UK’s space sector to ten percent of the global space economy by 2030. We are proud to be selected to help them achieve this goal. This initiative will not only spark advancements in science and innovation, it will create new opportunities for current and future UK-based suppliers to become part of the next space age.”
With a recent grant from the UK Space Agency, Lockheed Martin is leading a team to execute several strategic projects to support the UK Spaceflight Programme, with a goal of providing the first vertical space launch in the early 2020s.
- The UK’s First Space Port: The team will support the development of the nation’s first commercial spaceport at the Sutherland site in Melness, Scotland. The site aims to be the UK’s first vertical orbital rocket launch site. Overall site development is being led by Scottish government economic and community development agency Highlands & Islands Enterprise, with Lockheed Martin providing strategic support and guidance.
- Innovative CubeSat Delivery Vehicle: Once it reaches orbit, the first rocket launched will release a Small Launch Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle (SL-OMV), built specifically by Moog in the UK for the UK Spaceflight Programme. This agile platform will carry up to six 6U CubeSats, such as Lockheed Martin’s LM 50 platform, which the vehicle can deploy at the most optimal times and positions for their respective missions. The team is currently taking requests from potential customers to fill its CubeSat manifest for this first launch.
- Advanced 6U CubeSat Pathfinder: As part of the programme, Lockheed Martin teammate Orbital Micro Systems will create and fly a UK-built pathfinder test to validate the performance of the SL-OMV and ground system. The pathfinder will help lay the ground work for planned satellite constellations that are designed to deliver low latency weather observation to commercial and government customers.
“This historic ‘pathfinder’ launch for the UK will also demonstrate the tremendous potential small satellites and CubeSats have across a wide range of commercial and government data collection applications,” said Wood. “We believe, as the UK Space Agency does, that this effort will help bring the UK to the forefront of the rapidly-growing, global small satellite market and support the UK’s maturing space supply chain.”
Lockheed Martin brings significant space experience to the UK’s Spaceflight Programme, from ground systems, to launch vehicles, to on-orbit missions. The company’s LM 50 CubeSat platform is an innovative and powerful platform that can be customized to a wide array of missions and payloads. It’s one of four modernized satellite platforms Lockheed Martin offers its customers, including the LM 400 small satellite, LM 1000 remote sensing bus, and the flagship LM 2100 geostationary bus. Lockheed Martin’s team includes: Moog, Orbital Micro Systems, the University of Leicester, Surrey Satellite Technology, Satellite Applications Catapult, SCISYS, Lena Space, Reaction Engines and Netherlands Space Office.
16 Jul 18. Orbex has announced that it has secured £30m ($39.6m) in public and private funding for the development of orbital space launch systems. Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium. Recently emerging from stealth mode, Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company, with subsidiaries and production facilities in Denmark and Germany. The company has received funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA), two of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Sunstone Technology Ventures and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as private investors, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme. Orbex is constructing a completely re-thought and re-designed orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, to deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit. The Prime launcher has a novel architecture that eliminates the fundamental mass challenge of small launchers. Prime launchers are up to 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, packing more power per cubic litre than many heavy launchers. The Prime vehicle will launch satellites to altitudes up to 1,250km, inserting them into sun-synchronous or polar orbits.
“It is our ethos to invest in exceptional entrepreneurs with bold visions,” said Jimmy Fussing Nielsen, Managing Partner of Sunstone Technology Ventures. “Behind the scenes, Orbex has made huge strides forward over the past three years, reaching a level of technical and commercial sophistication that is surprising for a young company. This explains why Orbex has been able to attract such high-profile public and private backers, as well as experienced team members. Just out of stealth mode, Orbex is already well on its way to becoming the leading private space launch company in Europe.”
Minimising the environmental impact of launches was a key consideration in the rocket’s design. Prime is a low-mass and low-carbon launcher, using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane, that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to old-fashioned hydrocarbon fuels. The rocket uses a novel zero-shock staging system called Magic, which leaves zero orbital debris. It also features a novel reusability concept, with an innovative new low mass recovery and reflight system.
“It was clear to us from the start that Orbex had the potential to disrupt and fundamentally improve the satellite launch market in Europe and beyond,” said Yann Fiebig, Senior Investment Manager at the High-Tech Gründerfonds. “The company has made rapid progress, taking their innovations from concept to reality in short order. Their very strong management team deserves full credit for its ability to execute and we look forward to being part of their positive disruption over the coming months and years.”
Orbex has already secured commercial engagements with major aerospace organisations. The European Space Agency has contracted Orbex to study the development of a European micro launcher solution. Also, an engagement with a leading European aerospace company will be announced on Tuesday 17th July. Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former Director General of the European Space Agency has joined Orbex as Chairman of the Advisory Board. He is joined by other notable figures from the space industry, including Jan Skolmli, Orbex’s recently-appointed Chief Commercial Officer, who was formerly Head of Launch at SSTL, the world’s leading small satellite manufacturer. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA and several other commercial spaceflight organisations. Equipment developed by Orbex team members has flown on more than 50 deep space missions, and collectively they have developed more than 50 rocket engines and a wide range of orbital and suborbital launch vehicles.
“Orbex is one of the very few private spaceflight companies whose staff have credible, practical experience in the development of micro-launch vehicles and rocket engines,” commented Chris Larmour, Orbex CEO. “With our collective experience, we have developed a low mass, low carbon, high performance 21st century orbital launch vehicle, designed specifically to support the needs of the rapidly growing smallsat industry. There is a significant launch backlog for small satellites globally and Orbex is primed to give industry and science a cost-effective, reliable and responsive route into space, directly from Europe.”
16 Jul 18. NASA awarded Raytheon’s (NYSE: RTN) Intelligence, Information and Services business $59m for additional work on NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System Common Ground System project. The changes are necessary to launch America’s next polar satellite, JPSS-2, in 2021. The project recently completed the critical design review for the work, and compatibility testing between the satellite and ground system will begin in early 2020. Developed by NASA for NOAA, the JPSS CGS collects and disseminates observations from polar-orbiting weather satellites from the United States, Europe and Japan. The new contract brings the total value to just under $2bn.
“JPSS-2 is different from its predecessors, but we’ve built the ground system to be flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of any satellite manufacturer for any weather mission,” said Matt Gilligan, vice president of Raytheon’s Navigation, Weather and Services mission area.
In addition to changes to the command and control system and orbital dynamics system that will maneuver the JPSS-2 satellite while in space, the contract also covers upgrades to the system’s simulation and cyber security capabilities, as well as expansion of the system’s wide area network and security incident response team. JPSS-2 will take four sensing instruments to space, including Raytheon’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, which passed its pre-ship review and is ready for customer delivery ahead of schedule.
15 Jul 18. Lockheed chosen to launch Britain’s commercial space age. Company allocated grants of £23.5m to develop remote site in Scotland. Lockheed Martin will take Britain into the commercial space age after winning government grants totalling £23.5m to launch small satellites from a remote area of the Scottish Highlands. The sparsely populated area around Tongue in Sutherland, which is at the northern tip of Scotland and roughly 56km from the Dounreay nuclear site, has been chosen for the UK’s first space port to launch small satellites into polar orbit. They are expected to be used mainly for earth observation and other data-gathering tasks. Two launch consortiums have been chosen to develop commercial vertical launch services at the site, and aim to send the first rockets into space from the early 2020s. In total, the government has awarded grants of £33.5m to operators and local enterprise agencies to develop launch capabilities in Britain. Lockheed, the US aerospace and defence company, which is working with US partners Moog and Rocket Labs, has won the biggest share of funding after pledging to develop and build cutting-edge satellite launch technology in Britain. Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s international business development director, said some 375 jobs would be created over time. The aim was to expand Lockheed’s footprint in the UK as it seeks a foothold in other British space programmes such as the Skynet military communications system. Lockheed had also pledged to help British startups to develop ideas to exploit the data gathered in space. A second grant of £5.5m has been awarded to Orbex, a UK-headquartered European space start-up, to develop its orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, to deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit. Earlier this year, Orbex executives indicated the company would build a factory close to the launch site in Scotland. A further £2.5m funding will go to the Scottish Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help build the space port. The funding kick-starts the ambition cited in Britain’s first national space policy, launched in 2015, to take 10 per cent of the £400bn global commercial space market by 2030. Recommended Brexit Hammond urged to approve £100m for UK rival to Galileo The government is keen to tap into booming global demand for small satellite launches as the costs of accessing space tumble. It estimates that horizontal and vertical launch services could be worth £3.8bn to the British economy over the next decade, while the global market for small satellite launches is expected to be worth some $25bn over 20 years. However, many details need to be ironed out in supplementary legislation before rockets can be launched from British soil. Most important, the government will have to make clear how liability for launches would be shared if the private sector is to be able to access affordable insurance. The government had originally planned to back at least two port sites, one for vertical launch and a second for horizontal, where specially adapted launch aircraft will take off from a runway. However, horizontal technology, which will also be the vehicle for space tourism, is still some way from being commercially viable. Greg Clark, the business secretary, has also awarded a £2m grant for a horizontal development fund. Cornwall was one of the contenders for the funding, and has plans to develop horizontal launch capability from Newquay airport. Mr Clark said the awards aimed to make Britain “the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites?.?.?.?the UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites”. (Source: FT.com)
15 Jul 18. Satellite launches set to return to British soil after 50 years following new partnership with Virgin Orbit in Cornwall. The first British satellite launch in 50 years could take place from Cornwall within the next three years following a new partnership with Virgin Orbit. Virgin Orbit, a satellite launch company, has selected Spaceport Cornwall as an ideal location to operate and deliver one of the first launches of its LauncherOne system outside of its US home. The last British rocket – Black Arrow – that sent a satellite into space was launched from Australia in 1971. The new partnership deal will make history by pioneering horizontal satellite launches from UK soil.
The news has been welcomed by UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah, who said: “The announcement of a strategic partnership between Virgin Orbit and Cornwall Spaceport is great news for the region and the UK’s ambitions for regular, reliable and responsible access to space. This partnership could see Virgin Orbit’s innovative horizontal launch technology helping the UK’s small satellite industry access space from the convenience of a Spaceport in Cornwall. We will work with both partners to support their ambitions, as we take the next steps in our national spaceflight programme as part of the government’s modern Industrial strategy.”
Virgin Orbit is seeking to provide launches from a Spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay by 2021, using a modified Boeing 747-400 aircraft called “Cosmic Girl”. Cosmic Girl will carry a LauncherOne rocket under its wing to a launch range over the Atlantic and release the rocket at around 35,000 feet for onward flight into space, carrying a satellite into Earth orbit. As a horizontal air-launch platform, LauncherOne enables Virgin Orbit to conduct low cost missions quickly and efficiently by bypassing heavily trafficked established launch ranges. The partnership with Virgin Orbit will help position Cornwall as having the UK’s only horizontal launch facility. Spaceport Cornwall will provide California-based Virgin Orbit with a strategic Western European location and make a major contribution to the Cornwall’s ambition to create a £1bn space economy as part of its response the UK Industrial Strategy. Britain is a world-leader in the production of small satellites, supporting more than £250bn of GDP in the wider economy, but lacks any means to get them into space. The fast-growing global satellite launch market is predicted to be worth around £10bn over the next decade. It is estimated that up to 2,600 microsatellites (under 50kg) will require launch over the next five years alone. Virgin Orbit signed the partnering agreement with Cornwall Council at Farnborough International Airshow on July 16th. Work will now commence to develop a detailed plan for launch by 2021 as well as a Spaceport and Operator Licence application. The signing of this agreement is the culmination of over a year’s work by a team led and funded by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), in partnership with Cornwall Council. Following Virgin Orbit’s commitment, Cornwall Council will consider resources to progress the project at a meeting of its Cabinet on a date to be confirmed. Spaceport Cornwall could eventually create 480 jobs and contribute £25m a year to the local economy. The LEP’s Space Action Plan predicts that the wider space sector could create thousands more jobs in Cornwall and by 2030 be worth £1bn a year.
Patrick McCall, Managing Director Virgin Group and Chairman of Virgin Orbit’s Board of Directors, said, “Cornwall can deliver new launch capabilities for the UK quickly and efficiently by upgrading Cornwall Airport Newquay to support our horizontal air-launch platform. The Cornwall partnership allows us to grasp important market share, gain instant global launch market credibility and, with the technology already being tested in the US, further lower our risk.”
Cornwall Council leader, Adam Paynter, said: “This is a game-changing partnership that will inspire a generation and create a new industry in Cornwall. The challenge now is to make the most of this hard-won opportunity so that it can deliver on its enormous potential not just for Cornwall but for the UK as a whole. We look forward to welcoming Virgin Orbit to Cornwall and working with HM Government to realise the potential.”
Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “Cornwall can play a key role supporting the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy ambitions and we have identified space as a major opportunity for growth. The partnership with Virgin Orbit is a clear statement that Cornwall is the best UK location for horizontal launch and opens the door to a global satellite customer base. We will work with Government to maximise UK investment and jobs and make the most of the unique environment at Spaceport Cornwall. With our clear uncongested airspace and access to launch sites over the sea, it will be a vital part of a global UK offer and we look forward to working with other UK vertical launch locations to promote trade and investment.”
The UK Government has a target of achieving commercial spaceflight from British soil from the end of the decade, as well as increasing the UK’s share of the global space economy from 6.5% now to 10% by 2030, which would be worth an estimated £40bn per annum. The UK’s space sector has estimated annual revenues of £13.7bn and employs 38,500 people. It has been growing at 8% a year over the last decade, four times as fast as the rest of the UK economy. Cornwall Airport Newquay, which is owned by Cornwall Council, was first unveiled as one of the UK’s potential Spaceport locations in July 2014 because of its long runway, uncongested airspace and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Cornwall is already home to Goonhilly Earth Station, famous as the world’s largest satellite earth receiving station. Goonhilly is being upgraded through an £8.4m LEP-funded contract with the European Space Agency, announced in February, to become part of the deep space network, and recently secured a £24m investment from UK billionaire Peter Hargreaves.
13 Jul 18. Europe’s Next Galileo Satellites in Place Atop Ariane 5. Europe’s next Galileo satellites have been put in place on top of the Ariane 5 launcher due to lift them from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Wednesday 25 July. The launcher – appearing headless in the absence of its final payload – was moved from the BIL Launcher Integration Building, where it was assembled, to the BAF Final Assembly Building, ready for the Galileo satellites to be mated with it.
“In preparation for their launch the four satellites were switched off, apart from their battery charging line and another maintenance power line to their passive hydrogen maser – or PHM for short – atomic clocks,” reports Jean Verniolle, ESA’s Galileo mission director for this launch. “Next Galileo satellites 23–26 were integrated one by one on four successive days onto the Galileo dispenser that will hold them securely in place for launch, and to form what we call the launch ‘stack’.”
On the evening of Tuesday 10 July, this integrated stack was transported to the BAF, then hoisted on top of the Ariane 5 the following day. The next step came on Thursday, when the protective launcher fairing – emblazoned with the Arianespace Flight VA244 logo – came down and enclosed the satellites, the last time they were glimpsed by human eyes. The days that follow will see intensive activity on the launcher side. Meanwhile the dormant satellites will remain under temperature-controlled ventilation under the fairing, with their battery and PHM atomic clock maintenance lines being kept active and monitored continuously until launch. The PHMs are the most precise atomic clocks ever flown for navigation, and keeping them powered on in advance of launch serves to maximise their reliability. Each Galileo satellite carries two PHMs plus two rubidium atomic clocks as backups.
“A formal launch dress rehearsal will be conducted on 18 July, one week before the launch,” adds Jean. “Then on the following day we will hold a launch readiness review for the four Galileo satellites, followed by an Arianespace review of the launcher, the launch site and infrastructure, and the readiness of satellites and the launch and early orbit phase network, on 20 June, confirming a go for launch.”
The fully integrated Ariane 5 will be rolled out from the BAF to the launch pad on 23 July, scheduled to take around 1 hour 35 minutes. The launch countdown will start around 2300 local time on Tuesday 24 July, with launch scheduled at 11:25 GMT (13:25 CEST, 08:25 local time) on Wednesday 25 July. Upon separation of the satellites from the launch vehicle, the launch and early orbit (LEOP) phase will commence, whereby the satellites will be powered up and taken to their final orbital positions, upon which the in-orbit tests will be undertaken before the satellites will be declared operational. This launch will mark Europe’s 99th Ariane 5 flight. The four new Galileo satellites will bring the constellation from 22 to 26 satellites in orbit. The satellites are manufactured by OHB Systems (DE), with the launch undertaken by Arianespace (FR) both under contract to ESA. The LEOP is carried out by the Galileo operators SpaceOpal (DE, IT) together with CNES (FR) under responsibility of the GSA, the European GNSS Agency. The Galileo System began Initial Services on 15 December 2016, and more than 100 million devices are using Galileo today. (Source: ASD Network)
13 Jul 18. New Airbus-Led Consortium to Produce Seamless Satellite-Based Coverage of Europe. The European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) have awarded an Airbus-led consortium a contract for the provision of satellite-based seamless coverage of the entirety of Europe at very high-resolution. The consortium includes Airbus Defence and Space, Planet, Deimos Imaging, IGN-France and space4environment. This agreement is part of the Copernicus Earth Observation program for the European Union (EU). As part of the contract, six million square kilometers over 39 countries will be covered in 2018 with freshly acquired, very high-resolution, optical satellite imagery. The result-based approach of the procurement has led the European EO industry to federate and respond with a coordinated offer bringing together the strengths of each of the partners. The contracted solution leverages the latest in remote sensing and imagery processing technologies to deliver new data at an unprecedented scale and speed. The data will feed the geo-information services coordinated by the European Environment Agency with which European institutions and governments implement their environmental and land management policies. The high revisit rate of Planet’s imaging system will allow it to image regions that are often covered in cloud, such as Northern Europe or the Alps, while Deimos Imaging and Airbus satellite resources will concentrate on Southern and Central Europe, where higher resolutions are required to map dense urban and suburban areas. A dynamic acquisition strategy and imaging redundancy within the consortium will guarantee the achievement of the coverage objective. Valid images, cloud and haze free, will be selected and combined with a specific Digital Elevation Model (DEM) in order to meet the European Commission and ESA geolocation accuracy specifications. This dataset will be available to institutional users on a European and national level, and it will serve to create updated information about land cover, as well as land use (for example forests, urban areas, or lakes and rivers) over 39 countries in Europe.
François Lombard, Head of the Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space, said that this contract shows the confidence of ESA in Airbus and its partners to fulfill such a demanding satellite imagery program. The company is proud to drive a consortium gathering such a unique combination of assets and together to deliver high quality full European coverage in record time.
Will Marshall, CEO and Co-Founder of Planet, add that this is an important partnership for Planet as it brings together major players in the private and public sectors to leverage the firm’s global, daily imagery to do something that has historically been very difficult to achieve. Europe is ahead of the curve in terms of public-private cooperation and turning data into a public good.
Fabrizio Pirondini, CEO at Deimos Imaging, noted that his company has enjoyed a long, successful history of supplying satellite products and services to European public entities, such as ESA and EMSA. This contract, one of the largest Deimos has been awarded, demonstrates the value of the partnerships, as well as the company’s increasing role as a key provider of imagery and geo-information products worldwide. (Source: Satnews)
13 Jul 18. Arralis, world leaders in building millimetre wave technologies and products – seen as the future of precision radar and satellite communications – today announced their new Ka band analogue phase shifters that enable true electronically steerable, low profile antenna to be offered to commercial and defence aircraft market. Senior fleet operators, network providers and platform users at the recent APSAT Conference in Jakarta agreed that satellite antennas have been the weak point for satellite broadband. Until now, they blame a lack of innovation for ongoing issues with cost, size, poor aerodynamics, insufficient throughput and single satellite operation. The Arralis compact, lightweight and aerodynamic Ka band phased array antennas, that need no stabilisation requirements, are 400% smaller than their Ku band counterparts and are made specifically with airliners, business jets, military aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles in mind. The innovative antenna will open up the aircraft markets to high data rates and low latency satellite communications. The High Throughput Satellite (HTS) communications, of up to 2 Gbps, provide the wideband video streaming and full motion video capabilities that aviators have been waiting for. The capability is ideally suited to continuously track fast moving low earth orbit (LEO) satellites where the analogue phase variation allows continuous electronic beam steering. Multiple simultaneous satellite tracking is possible. This new product sits within Arralis’ family of versatile communications for space, aerospace, transportable and on-the-move applications. This antenna will be of great benefit to designers of aircraft as now a simple, reliable and flat beam steering and continuous tracking antenna can be realised. According to Gary Soul, the Arralis VP of Business Development, “At the Farnborough Airshow we’ll be exhibiting the Ka band antenna and highlighting how the Arralis new monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) phase-shifters have enabled this innovative development. We have in essence developed the technology that allows users to continuously track and communicate with Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellites in a form that can be easily integrated onto aircraft. Fleet operators, network providers and platform users should be very pleased with this innovative technology and the attendant economies of scale that volume production should allow.”
10 Jul 18. Telesat and Gilat’s Project Will Develop Broadband Communication Modem Technology for Low Earth Orbit Satellites. Two companies, one from Canada and the other from Israel, are collaborating on a project involving Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. The joint Canada-Israel innovation project will combine Telesat’s and Gilat’s engineering capabilities to do live testing, using Gilat modem technology, over the Telesat Phase-1 LEO satellite launched earlier this year. Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (NASDAQ, TASE: GILT), provider of satellite networking technology, solutions and services, is working on a collaborative project with Telesat for development of broadband communication technology using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. CIIRDF will fund the project to facilitate faster and more secure data transmission over satellite. The adaptation of Gilat’s technology to support advanced LEO constellations, such as the system Telesat is developing, will highlight the benefits that a satellite broadband experience can deliver to billions of potential users worldwide who live beyond the reach of fiber networks.
Dave Wendling, Telesat’s Chief Technical Officer said that Telesat is pleased to join forces with Gilat in the development of modem technology that they will use to deliver high-speed broadband communications over the Telesat Phase-1 LEO satellite already in orbit. This project will allow them to demonstrate the high performance and low latency advantages of Telesat’s LEO constellation to their tier-1 aeronautical, maritime and enterprise customers.
Ron Levin VP Mobility and Global Accounts at Gilat added that Gilat shares Telesat’s vision that the inherent advantages of LEO constellations will transform satellite communications and they are delighted to take part in the joint project funded by CIIRDF. They are fully engaged in the development of customer terminals that will operate over LEO constellations and will provide an excellent user experience over satellite for a multitude of new applications including, for example, 5G mobile backhaul.
Dr. Henri Rothschild, President of CIIRDF concluded that this bilateral technology partnership directly supports the objectives of CIIRDF, anchored by a strong value proposition for the collaborating firms and their customers. The outcomes of this project will advance the technological capabilities of Low Earth Orbit satellites, and help Telesat and Gilat capture new opportunities in this global commercial market. Downstream, this powerful cooperation will translate into new jobs and revenues that further strengthen economies of Israel and Canada. (Source: Satnews)
10 Jul 18. Thales Alenia Space and SwRI’s MOU to Develop a Balloon Airship, the Stratobus™. This is a project that will produce an airship that is a balloon of sorts. Thales Alenia Space, the developer of the Stratobus™ airship, and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), an international research and development provider, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate in the development of Stratobus™. As Thales Alenia Space continues to move forward with the design and development of its high-altitude platform station (HAPS) Stratobus™, SwRI will support Thales Alenia Space with technical advice and assistance based on SwRI’s experience with lighter-than-air technologies. Thales Alenia Space is the joint venture between Thales (67 percent) and Leonardo (33 percent), a player in the market for satellites, scientific spacecraft and orbital infrastructures.
Guy Boullenger, VP Stratobus™ development at Thales Alenia Space said that he is delighted that SwRI will be cooperating with the Stratobus™ team. Their expertise, gained during their long history of building and operating balloons and airships, will be of significant value to their efforts in reaching their goals for Stratobus™.
Thales Alenia Space and SwRI have established a Joint Working Committee (JWC) to manage their cooperative activities as the Stratobus™ project moves forward. Thales Alenia Space’s Stratobus™ program is a complement to satellite systems as it offers the advantage of carrying out its missions without needing an expensive launch vehicle. For instance, it could provide a permanent surveillance solution over a predefined regional coverage zone, to meet the needs of security and defense organizations. (Source: Satnews)
09 Jul 18. On Orbit SmallSat Uses Blue Canyon’s XACT Attitude Control System for Pointing Accuracy. The 6U cubesat, which was deployed into LEO in November of 2017, has already demonstrated the ability of miniaturized technology to operate properly on orbit and has become the first smallsat to achieve sub-arcsecond pointing accuracy. ASTERIA is also one of the first 6U spacecraft to be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS). Built and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, ASTERIA’s primary mission was to demonstrate that its small payload could look for exoplanets that transit their parent star, via precision star observation. Blue Canyon Technologies’ highly integrated XACT enables this groundbreaking pointing accuracy, with a native stability of 1.6 arcseconds. This is equivalent to the width of a “STOP” sign as viewed from over 60 miles away. The piezo-equipped payload augments this native precision pointing to achieve sub-arcsecond pointing. Data from the payload shows that the pointing stability of 1.6 arcseconds can be achieved by XACT alone. BCT’s XACT Attitude Control System employs high-performance components that can be used for a wide range of missions. The XACT has now flown on six missions, enabling the highest-precision CubeSat attitude control from LEO all the way to deep space. The ASTERIA XACT was a Generation 2 predecessor to BCT’s current Generation 4 XACT that has even better performance, additional capabilities, and higher radiation tolerance. Blue Canyon Technologies, Inc. is a privately held business founded in 2008 to bring high-performance, affordable solutions to space missions. The company is an innovative, experienced integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced aerospace products and technologies. (Source: Satnews)
12 Jul 18. Goonhilly Makes Plans for Spending £32.4m From Antennas to Facilities, Deep Space Projects and More. Satellite communications innovator and space gateway, Goonhilly Earth Station today launched its roadmap and outlined developments which will galvanize its position in the satellite industry and place it firmly at the vanguard of the new space economy driven by private investment and solid growth performance. With the agility of a start-up yet with many science and technology firsts under its belt, this roadmap underpins the firm’s ambition to become a world-leading space connectivity nexus and center of innovation.
So, what does this translate out to mean?
Earlier this year, in May, a £24m funding injection by UK billionaire Peter Hargreaves was announced, and at that time various projects that would benefit from this funding were specified that include:
- Install new deep space antennas for the launch of the first private deep space communication network that will support commercial lunar and Mars missions beginning in 2020
- Invest in infrastructure and facilities in the U.S. and Australia to support deep space projects, LEO constellations and international terrestrial projects
- Construction of a green data center that will provide state-of-the-art connectivity
- The opening of an R&D and manufacturing facility to support customers, to design and develop a range of satellite communications products, and to reinforce already well-established partnerships with university researchers
- Invest in professionals’ expertise across business development, operations and engineering
Goonhilly’s solution for deep space communications is a funded plan to create the world’s first private deep space network in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). Goonhilly recently won an £8.4m ESA contract, and is using funds provided by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to upgrade the 32m Goonhilly-6 dish that will enable ESA to have communications for future lunar missions. The team is also working in close collaboration with researchers at Oxford University to create a combined radio telescope and deep space antenna using the second largest of the Goonhilly dishes, Goonhilly-3. University researchers have designed a breakthrough cryogenic receiver and back-end processor that provides the ultra-low-noise performance required for both primary tasks.
Through this collaboration with ESA, Goonhilly will be involved in upcoming return-to-the-moon missions including the communications with spacecraft on the first Space Launch System (SLS) launch.
Ian Jones, CEO and Co-Founder of Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, said that many of the world’s leading space companies have already selected Goonhilly as a trusted partner. As they enter into their next chapter of expansion, their aim is to be the preferred partner for organizations seeking to take advantage of their disruptive, entrepreneurial approach to business. The company is always seeking opportunities to add value for their clients, so they can grow their businesses as Goonhilly grows theirs. They have the skills and facilities to deliver that growth as well as access to an unprecedented range of connectivity and technical options. Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, a privately held company which acquired the their 164-acre Cornwall site from BT in 2014.
Another agency that Goonhilly has partnered with is Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and ESA on a their ‘pioneering private commercial space exploration project’, Lunar Pathfinder. The goal is to take a number of small experimental CubeSats on a piggyback ride to the Moon to provide communications and navigation services. As a result of this the Lunar Pathfinder will also provide these communication and navigation services to other lunar exploration missions.
As part of the plan of the Lunar Pathfinder, Goonhilly and SSTL have also signed a collaboration agreement with Astrobotic to gain early flight operations experience and provide the Astrobotic mission with communications and command capabilities.
Because deep space communications from a single location only provides a partial solution, Goonhilly has funded plans to create a complete deep space network by adding ground stations in Australia and the USA. Additionally, by using a combination of dish and phased array techniques developed in conjunction with its radio astronomy partners, Goonhilly foresees that they will deploy antennas with the flexibility to meet current and future frequency planning and mission needs.
Goonhilly is looking to gain significant market share in the GEO (Geo-stationary Earth Orbit) broadcasting and enterprise SATCOM sector, as well as MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite services.
Although the commercial geostationary satellite market faces downward pressure on capacity costs, while high-throughput satellites are adding data volumes and TV habits increasingly favor over the top (OTT) services, Goonhilly sees potential for disruption. It plans to do this by adopting an agile approach to developing and delivering solutions that challenge the traditional models, and working with partners to open up new value-added services.
In addition to providing value added services that address the user community, Goonhilly has a broad portfolio of offerings to support satellite operators in GEO, MEO and LEO. This includes spacecraft tracking, telemetry and control (TT&C), in-orbit testing and monitoring services.
Goonhilly further meets broadcasters’ communications needs with a datacenter that supports of data-intensive live streaming. Jones added that they have the agility, approach and technology to shake up the existing world order in the mature satellite broadcasting sector.
Goonhilly is in the unique position of linking space communications with bundles of subsea cables and ultrafast fiber broadband to deliver unprecedented reach around the world. Sitting at a confluence of the planet’s main internet backbone and with the launch of its tier 3/4 datacenter later in 2018, customers including broadcasters can benefit from access to this secure, connected and resilient network. The datacenter’s high specification physical location and low latency connections will also make Goonhilly an attractive, cost-effective choice for hosting and co-location customers.
Goonhilly is investing in a major upgrade to power and cooling systems as well as adding layers of security. It has constructed a sizeable solar farm on its roofs, and, being on the coast, it benefits from free-air cooling most days of the year. These capabilities allow Goonhilly to keep costs down and minimize energy consumption.
Goonhilly’s existing systems engineering team will expand from its current consultancy role into a full-scale engineering design and development business covering software-defined-radio, digital signal processing, antenna design and phased array solutions.
Goonhilly is investing in a new electronics and software test and design lab to support these activities and to enable the development of products in diverse fields including communications and IoT (Internet of Things), maritime services, public services such as healthcare and defence, autonomous vehicles, agriculture, mining and cargo management.
In 2018, Goonhilly will open its R&D and manufacturing facility both to benefit customers and encourage academic research. Goonhilly already plays a role in UK science and innovation: It works in close association with international universities. Goonhilly and its customers benefit as scientific and technology innovations are brought to life by some of the best research, design and engineering minds in the world.
Jones commented that their philosophy is to have a deep understanding of problems in order to explore new ways of doing things. Working with universities in space science and radio communications reveals new technological possibilities and informs new methodologies, resulting in better products and services for their customers.
This approach will see Goonhilly expanding its training and outreach programs including running accredited post-graduate programs in conjunction with partner universities. Goonhilly has already made a name for itself running a popular annual Space Mission Operations training course. Jones continued that this will help to train the next generation of engineers and scientists, keep them very close to the latest technology developments and help them grow as a company.
Goonhilly is an Enterprise Zone, offering incentives for companies wishing to locate offices and facilities on site. It also hosts the Southwest Regional center of Excellence in Satellite Applications and is a UK Space Agency-sponsored incubation center for micro businesses.
Jones concluded that as access to space becomes more affordable and available there is an explosion of interest in space solutions, and a new golden age of science and creativity. They are providing the facilities and people to nurture ideas emerging at start-ups and universities and helping them evolve into commercial opportunities.
“Goonhilly offers tracking and mission operations services for all launch operators – both horizontal and vertical – and will be providing mission operations and tracking services to Spaceport Cornwall.”
“We will be an integral part of the Spaceport Cornwall, Cornwall Council and Virgin Orbit partnership. We are building our design, manufacturing and test capability at Goonhilly – creating the complete development lifecycle of a space mission, from conception to operation.”
“The announcement of an £8.4m contract win with the European Space Agency (ESA) allowed Goonhilly to attract a further £24m private investment. We would encourage the UK government to look at a similar model for Launch UK.” [Launch UK is the UK government spaceport launch campaign}
“With contracts under their belts, the new Spaceports can start out with anchor customers and can demonstrate the market potential to investors. This model was used in the US when the government ordered $3bn of launches from SpaceX and Orbital ATK,” said Ian Jones, CEO, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. (Source: Satnews)
12 Jul 18. Propulsion Systems from GomSpace to Empower Astrocast SmallSats. GomSpace Sweden, a subsidiary of GomSpace Group AB, has received an order from Astrocast to deliver a propulsion system for each of the 10 nanosatellites composing the first orbital plane of the new Astrocast constellation — the value of this order is 450.000 euros and delivery of the propulsion systems is expected to occur in Q4, 2018, and Q1, 2019. Astrocast a pioneer in deploying smallsats to create a global Internet of Things (IoT) network. This will be the first propulsion system operating on a constellation of 3U cubesats. This contract is a follow-on order after delivery of propulsion systems for the two precursor satellites that will be launched this fall. The system will allow Astrocast to ensure a more rapid deployment of each satellite in its intended position as well as collision avoidance maneuvers. The propulsion system for Astrocast is based on GomSpace Sweden’s cold gas propulsion technology with flight heritage from both 3U and 6U cubesats. The latest launch of a satellite with this propulsion system was February 2 of this year. In this mission, the GOMX-4B satellite together with its twin, GOMX-4A, have already demonstrated the kind of orbit control that Astrocast is planning. (Source: Satnews)
10 Jul 18. Strategic Investment Agreement Signed between LeoSat and Hispasat. LeoSat Enterprises, which is launching a constellation of LEO communications satellites, has entered into an agreement with Hispasat, the Spanish national satellite operator, to invest in LeoSat, — with this agreement, Hispasat joins Asia’s largest satellite operator SKY Perfect JSAT in the growing trend for satellite operators to future-proof their communications solutions through the development of LEO capabilities. Big Data is driving the need for new communications infrastructure. Data volumes are exploding, with more data created in the past 2 years that in the entire history of the human race. Global networks are already carrying more than 1 Zeta Byte of traffic globally and this is forecast to grow exponentially. This will have a lasting effect on the communications industry, with the need to invest in and deploy appropriate infrastructure, particularly with satellite communications, whose data market will grow with the deployment of low earth orbit solutions that will enable telecom and satellite operators to complement their current portfolio with suitable capabilities for future demand. Hispasat has achieved continuous growth and, with this investment in LeoSat, the company finds a perfect complement for their geostationary fleet and expands the firm’ scope significantly towards new verticals that will define the data market over the next years. The investment in LeoSat underlines their firm belief in the unique attributes of LeoSat’s new LEO network architecture to ensure further growth in the future. Combining advanced on-board routers with inter-satellite laser links, LeoSat is creating an optical backbone in space, providing fiber-like low-latency and gigabit per second data delivery which is ultra-secure and extremely resilient, thanks to its gateway independent meshed-network data-connectivity from transmitter to receiver. This solution will provide LeoSat and its partners with valuable new business opportunities in the growing data and mobility markets in sectors such as telecommunications, multinational enterprise, maritime and government services by ensuring previously unavailable levels of network performance combined with worldwide reach. With the ever-increasing demand to move large quantities of data quickly and securely around the world there is a growing interest in the major performance advantages of communications networks in LEO. The unique features of LeoSat’s system — ubiquity, low-latency, speed and cybersecurity — are ideal for a number of applications, such as to enabling global 4G and 5G satellite connectivity for cellular operators, providing the bandwidth required for energy, maritime or financial sector operations, delivering secure networks for government and defense communications, ensuring critical emergency communications and enabling Internet access and connectivity for remote communities.
With Hispasat now joining SKY Perfect JSAT, both companies will work with LeoSat to accelerate a number of key activities including, vendor selections for customer premise equipment and ground operations, as well as further optimization of the satellite platform. The partnership will also enable LeoSat to leverage both the commercial and regulatory expertise of these two well-established operators.
Mark Rigolle, CEO of LeoSat said that the company is delighted that Hispasat, with its reputation for quality, efficiency and reliability and its strong presence in Europe, North Africa and Latin America, has chosen to invest in LeoSat to expand its network capabilities. ’Always-on‘ connectivity, increasing digitization and the move to cloud-based operations and smart data analysis and management, all require resilient and future-proof networks to deliver connectivity and services. Whlie the perception of satellite for data communications is often seen as a last resort, LeoSat will change that by pairing the speed of fiber with the ubiquity of satellite and adding a new dimension of ultra-security. Hispasat recognizes that we will not only bring a paradigm shift in expanding the existing satellite services market, we will open up new markets for space-based data networking for telecoms, tech and media across the globe.
Carlos Espinós, CEO of Hispasat, added that with the current and future growth of data traffic, the company notes the strategic importance of investing in new infrastructure to enable existing and future customers to substantially increase their communications capabilities. LeoSat has distinguishing features from the other constellations that makes it especially interesting: high capacity, low latency, high security and a meshed network that simplifies its architecture. LeoSat’s system design, combining satellite and networking technology to provide a network in space, is a departure from existing solutions today and we see this as a key opportunity for us to open-up new markets and deliver business growth. This investment in LeoSat demonstrates our belief that there will be very strong demand for LeoSat as it is the best solution to address the Enterprise market. This investment will allow Hispasat to strengthen and expand our existing GEO satellite services and position the company at the forefront of the new digital infrastructure. In addition, Hispasat and SKY Perfect JSAT have a relationship of complementary, understanding and mutual trust that will ease our joint leadership in this initiative.
Koki Koyama, Senior Managing Executive Officer of SKY Perfect JSAT commented that this is an exciting time and the firm is delighted to welcome Hispasat on board LeoSat, which will provide the first enterprise-grade, extremely high speed and secure data service worldwide. Both SKY Perfect JSAT and Hispasat will support LeoSat in ensuring the successful launch of this unique new next-generation network. (Source: Satnews)
09 Jul 18. Proposal from China to Roscosmos for a Joint China-Russia, World-Encompassing, Satellite Communications System. According to a news item at Sputnik International, a Chinese delegation has proposed to Russia’s Roscosmos state space corporation to discuss a possibility of the creation of a joint global satellite communications system, which could become an analog of UK’s OneWeb1 satellite constellation or Starlink, a source from Russian space industry told Sputnik.
“During the bilateral meeting on July 4, the Chinese delegation, which arrived in Moscow to get acquainted with the new leadership of Roscosmos, presented, among other things, its plans to create a multi-level satellite communications system. During the meeting, a proposal was announced about Russia’s participation in the project,” the source said. “The Chinese delegation proposed to create a Russian-Chinese system with the obligation for each party to create half of the orbital satellite constellation and take 50 percent of costs,” the source said adding that the Russian side provided no response to this proposal.
Roscosmos has not provided any comments on this issue so far. In May, Russian Space Systems (RSS) presented a project of the new Russian global satellite communications system ETHER that should consist of 288 satellites with an orbit altitude of 870 kilometers (540.5 miles). The project requires investments of 300bn rubles ($4.87bn). 1OneWeb is a UK space project, which is expected to provide global Internet broadband service to individual consumers as early as 2019 as it’s satellites will cover the entire Earth surface. The list of project’s investors includes such companies as Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems and others. (Source: Satnews)
09 Jul 18. Georgia Tech’s US$1.2m Project with Xenesis and NASA/JPL Endorsement to Expand Space-to-Ground Communications. Improvements in the data flow from Earth orbiting satellites to ground stations is underway as the result of a new collaborative research project between the Georgia Institute of Technology and satellite communications provider Xenesis to offer new age solutions to open the bottleneck that now limits the flow of data from space to Earth. The project will miniaturize, space qualify and test the laser communications transceiver from the International Space Station which is set to dramatically expand the bandwidth available for downlinking information from the growing number of satellites in low Earth orbit. Xenesis has licensed the technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and will work with Georgia Tech and JPL to mature it for use as a primary communication system for satellites as small as CubeSats.
Brian Gunter, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering who will be leading the project stated that they expect to significantly add to the total bandwidth of information that they can get down from space, and the more bandwidth they have, the more information they can exchange and the more value they can get from satellite networks.
Gunter’s lab has experience with small satellites, and will apply that expertise to the project with Xenesis – which signed a $1.2m contract on June 14 to support the work.
Dennis Poulos, chief technology officer at Xenesis stated that with all of the satellites that are going into space, everything from CubeSats to major satellites, there is more information being generated than can ever be downloaded. Most of today’s systems depend on radio frequency downlinks, and there is just a limited amount of bandwidth available for use. Xenesis is essentially setting itself up to be the first in the industry to offer a real-time solution to this archaic problem. Laser-based systems can dramatically expand that bandwidth to beyond 10 gigabits per second, Poulos said. In addition to boosting bandwidth, optical systems can use smaller antennas, use power more efficiently, and provide better data security.
Mark LaPenna, CEO of Xenesis added that Xenesis recognizes the need for a global communications revolution, and they plan to empower space with an optical product called XenHub. Through this architecture, any company, EO mission or global operator on the ground or in space, will be able to compete on a level playing field for the first time since Sputnik.
The initial focus will be space-to-ground communication, though the system could also be used for cross-linking communication between satellites. Gunter added that once they can show that this works from space to ground, that will demonstrate that the technology can survive the harsh environment of space, and allow them to continue the development of the transceiver for commercial use. This has the potential to open up a range of new capabilities, including the ability to provide high-volume data services to anywhere in the world. In Georgia Tech’s School of Aerospace Engineering, the contract will support graduate students, a postdoctoral researcher, and a group of undergraduate students, Gunter said that this will be a major satellite project for their lab, and they look forward to advancing the technology with their collaborators. (Source: Satnews)
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