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12 Aug 21. UK’s Inmarsat to drive growth with industry-leading L-band upgrade. British satellite operator Inmarsat said it would launch a major upgrade to its L-band services to offer faster speeds and smaller low-cost terminals for its air, land and sea customers, and open up new opportunities in the Internet of Things (IOT).
Called ELERA, the narrowband network will use spectrum management technology to boost speeds up to 1.7Mbps, the company said on Thursday, up to four times existing levels and beating rival global L-band networks.
Inmarsat had a clear roadmap to “reinvigorate” L-band, the backbone of its low bandwidth communications and safety services for shipping, aviation and government, Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told Reuters.
The investment will boost Inmarsat’s core maritime market, he said. “For Inmarsat to grow, maritime needs to return to growth,” he said. “This year we will have market-leading growth and maritime should be starting to grow as well.”
It will be supported by the two new I-6 satellites, ordered from Airbus (AIR.PA) in 2015, with the first scheduled to launch at the end of this year and both in commercial service in the second quarter of 2023.
The upgrade follows Inmarsat’s announcement of a new constellation of low earth orbit satellites last month, which it will combine with 5G mobile and its GEO satellites in a network to increase capacity in high-demand areas.
In recent years it has focused on developing its Global Xpress high throughput broadband service, which uses the Ka band, and its European Aviation Network.
Suri said the reliability and ubiquity of L-band made it particularly useful for IOT.
It opens up a lot of new sectors, “and we are repositioning our enterprise business for growth,” he told Reuters. “Our focus has been on mining, oil and gas, but now it is increasingly on utilities, railways and agriculture.”
Previously listed in London, Inmarsat was sold in 2019 to a consortium of UK-based Apax Partners, U.S.-based Warburg Pincus, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $3.4bn.
Inmarsat’s competitors include U.S. company Iridium Communications (IRDM.O). (Source: Reuters)
12 Aug 21. Maxar Adds Two New Customers to Its Rapid Access Program for On-Demand Satellite Imagery Tasking. Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, today announced two new customers signed multi-m-dollar contracts to subscribe to its Rapid Access Program (RAP), including the first customer for RAP in Latin America.
RAP provides customers with a secure web interface to virtually task Maxar’s high-resolution satellites through on-demand access windows. Maxar delivers high-resolution imagery within hours of collection due to streamlined processing and dissemination. By using cloud-based ground stations, RAP decreases the cost of actionable intelligence for our customers with accelerated speed and control. RAP customers also have high priority tasking on Maxar satellites, critical for urgent mission requirements. When Maxar’s next-generation WorldView Legion satellites are on orbit and operational, RAP customers will be among the first to be able to task them to collect 30 cm class imagery.
“Maxar’s Rapid Access Program provides customers with assured access to task our satellites without the need for a physical ground station,” said Tony Frazier, Maxar’s Executive Vice President of Global Field Operations. “This lower barrier to entry for tasking provides opportunities for Maxar to serve our RAP customers with the high-quality imagery that they have come to depend on while offering them greater autonomy in tasking the most agile satellites on orbit. Maxar is grateful to be a strategic partner in these customers’ missions, enabling them to make critical decisions and save lives, resources and time.”
National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of Indonesia (LAPAN) is Maxar’s second RAP customer in the Asia-Pacific region. LAPAN will task Maxar’s high-resolution satellite imagery to accelerate mapping missions in Indonesia, including land certification, industrial priority zones and special economic zones. Additionally, LAPAN will receive Maxar’s 15 cm high-definition (HD) imagery, which is created by applying Maxar’s proprietary HD technology to the company’s native 30 cm class imagery, resulting in superior visual clarity and utility.
“LAPAN is excited to start tasking the Maxar constellation for our mapping missions,” said Dedi Irawadi, Acting Director of Remote Sensing Technology and Data Center at LAPAN. “Having assured access via RAP to collect imagery of the areas we’re focused on and receiving 15 cm HD imagery will enable our analysts to create actionable intelligence on faster timelines.”
The Colombian Air Force is the second new RAP customer and the first international defense organization in Latin America to partner with Maxar in the program. The customer will use RAP for mission planning and monitoring areas of interest. The contract also includes access to Maxar’s SecureWatch subscription service for on-demand access to more than 125 petabytes of Maxar’s high-resolution satellite data and analytics. The customer will integrate SecureWatch into their analysts’ workflows to enable surveillance and monitoring of national territory and the environment. By tasking new, high-resolution satellite imagery through the RAP and viewing it in context via SecureWatch, Colombia will benefit from space-based information as a strategic tool for national sovereignty. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
12 Aug 21. Slingshot Aerospace Announces World’s First Collision Avoidance Collaboration & Communications Platform for Space; OneWeb, Spire Global Inc. & Orbit Fab to Pilot Technology. Slingshot Aerospace acquired startup Stellatus Solutions LLC to accelerate the launch of Slingshot Beacon, a tool designed to help global spacecraft owners & operators collaborate and
Slingshot Aerospace, Inc., a company building world-class space simulation and analytics solutions, today announced the launch of Slingshot Beacon, the industry’s first collision avoidance collaboration and communications platform for space, which will be piloted by OneWeb, Spire Global Inc., Orbit Fab and others. The players participating in this pilot program account for 53% of satellite constellations in low earth orbit (LEO). Slingshot Beacon will be used as a centralized communication and coordination platform to resolve on-orbit conjunctions, notify others about planned maneuvers, and more.
Slingshot Beacon connects operators across different organizations on a single platform, which has never been done before. It provides customers with existing positional data and packages it in a digestible way with all the necessary information to resolve a conjunction. The tool will improve transparency, safety, and sustainability in space for all owner-operators, helping to ensure high risk conjunctions are appropriately mitigated.
“OneWeb is committed to responsible operational practices and new tools like Slingshot Beacon can help enhance space safety by creating additional avenues for communication,” John Guiney, Vice President, Fleet Management Systems, OneWeb. “We look forward to working together to continue advancing ways we can all collaborate and work together to keep space safe.”
As an industry, there are 115,000 satellites planned to enter space by 2030, which means more potential collision avoidance decisions will need to be made. Slingshot Beacon is designed to be an end-to-end communications and collaboration platform to help mitigate those potential risks, and facilitate safer satellite operations as the domain becomes more congested. Presenting critical data in a more digestible way will enable owner-operators to make better decisions faster, giving governments and the public more confidence in safe space operations as the number of objects in space grows.
”Slingshot Beacon enables collaboration among all space operations stakeholders providing even more information to users, when and how they want it, powering everything from near real-time situational awareness to on-demand cross-company secure communication and file sharing,” said Melanie Stricklan, Co-founder & CEO, Slingshot Aerospace. “Slingshot Aerospace is reimagining the future of space safety and sustainability with high-value, global collaboration. We’re extremely grateful to our customers and the space community for their continued belief in our team and products.”
Slingshot Beacon was inspired by the guard channel, a special radio frequency that is monitored 24/7 for mayday alerts or other calls for help. The technology is orbit agnostic, and can help organizations monitor their assets, like space vehicles and satellites, in and through all orbits, LEO to the moon. In addition, Slingshot Beacon enables users to protect their assets in space by providing an actively curated directory of operator contact information; reports on environmental anomalies; community alerts for planned maneuvers; and conjunction data messages (CDMs) and ephemeris sharing (or accurate object position sharing).
“As a member of the space community, Spire recognizes the role we have in contributing to a safe space environment while protecting our assets and ensuring mission success for our customers and partners,” said Keith Johnson, VP & GM for Government Solutions, Spire Global Inc. “By providing space data to and participating in Slingshot Beacon, we will continue our commitment to a safe space environment and be part of an innovative technology – the first of its kind – that will allow us to communicate with other companies and agencies to increase collaboration and global space awareness.”
The tool pulls in public data as well as customer’s private data, providing users with a secure and robust plug-and-play catalog of validated data. It will bring in automated risk monitoring and an objective, unbiased, curated ensemble of space data and robust analytics, providing unmatched space domain awareness. To deliver data and relevant analytics on customer demand, Slingshot Aerospace has partnered with Numerica Corporation, a market leader in air, missile and space defense technology. Numerica’s ability to deliver precision tracking data and analytics is based on its state-of-the-art global telescope network and data processing suite, relied upon for LEO-to-GEO daytime and nighttime space surveillance operations.
Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ company, is creating a bustling in-space economy through on-orbit refueling. “We are designing the future of sustainability and mission flexibility for spacecraft, making docking and transferring fuel so reliable it gets boring,” said James Bultitude, Chief Engineer, Orbit Fab. “Public awareness is vital to ensuring that the difference between a safe, consensual rendezvous and a collision event is known and understood. Slingshot Beacon will streamline this communication, essential for successful maneuvers in the growing satellite servicing segment.”
Slingshot Aerospace acquired Stellatus Solutions LLC, a company that was building a platform that would help operators manage and protect their satellites by streamlining communication and traffic coordination between operators. Through the transaction, Slingshot Aerospace acquired research and intellectual property, which accelerated the launch of Slingshot Beacon. The company also hired Stellatus Solutions LLC co-founders Holly Highfill and Kishen Raghunath who will serve as Slingshot Aerospace’s Director, Customer Engagement and Strategy, and Director, Finance and Strategy, respectively.
Stellatus was born out of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Hacking for Defense Program where Audrey Schaffer, Former Director, Space Strategy and Plans, Office of the Secretary of Defense, challenged a team to figure out how to create a communications channel for operators to increase space situational awareness with a specific emphasis on alerting the community of security concerns in space. After the program ended, the team continued the project and formed Stellatus, which was acquired a few months later by Slingshot Aerospace in June 2021.
Slingshot Beacon is a modern, interactive web portal and mobile application that will allow commercial agencies to interact company to company. Slingshot Aerospace has begun beta testing Slingshot Beacon’s communication functionalities with named users effective immediately, with plans to introduce a robust set of features on a rolling basis starting in Q3 2021:
- Internal and external collaboration
- File sharing, voice conference bridge
- Live and historic data processing
- Powerful workflows with automation tools for risk screening
- Notifications and alerts (maneuvers, conjunctions and other alerts)
- Third party plugin/ integration marketplace support for operations management tools
- Upload/download customer ephemeris/telemetry data capture
- Easy onboarding
- End-to-end security
- Built-in compliance
- Leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services
In less than 4 years, Slingshot Aerospace has already seen rapid growth by earning ms of dollars in revenue from early customer contracts, and is leveraging government dollars to build its IP. To learn more about Slingshot Beacon, please visit slingshotaerospace.com/slingshot-beacon.
About Slingshot Aerospace
Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. is creating world-class space simulation and analytics solutions. The company brings the space domain into the digital environment and fuses data from different sources to provide a full, dynamic orbital picture. In doing so, Slingshot Aerospace customers can make decisions at the speed of relevance and achieve clarity in complex environments. Launched in 2017 and based in Austin, TX, and Los Angeles, CA, Slingshot Aerospace seeks to help government and commercial customers accelerate space sustainability to create a safer, more connected world. Visit slingshotaerospace.com (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
12 Aug 21. Business growth scheme open to next group of space entrepreneurs. A pioneering programme to help firms find their place in space is now on the search to find the next group of entrepreneurs to benefit. A pioneering programme to help firms find their place in space has given a total of 31 businesses a £900,000 boost and created new jobs – and the search is now on to find the next group of entrepreneurs.
Twenty businesses will be supported on the next phase of the Leo Programme, a free six-month accelerator run by the UK Space Agency and powered by Entrepreneurial Spark, where they will get access to tailored, specialist online and in-person support from space industry and business growth experts.
The programme is open to businesses already in the space sector and those already exploring the possibilities presented by the industry. Firms working in a linked industry looking for a route into the space sector can also apply.
Portia Bircher, local growth manager at the UK Space Agency, said:
After a challenging time for every business, it’s time to look forward. And as one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, trebling in size since 2010 and now generating some £16 bn annually, space is the place to be.
Whether your specialism is design, engineering, research, logistics or communications, space offers opportunities for businesses in every part of the UK.
With the private sector playing an increasingly crucial role growing the industry, we are committed to providing world-class advice and support for UK firms of all sizes who want to join us in exploring this new and lucrative frontier.
The experts involved in the scheme will help businesses look at their commercial goals and work with them to come up with a clear 90-day plan for the next steps.
Workshops will cover topics including business growth tools and how to change your mindset to adapt faster, take risks and improve as a leader. There will also be one-to-one access to leadership groups and industry specialists and the chance to join a thriving, supportive network of like-minded businesses.
Businesses who took part in the shorter, 10-week pilot project earlier this year said they found it insightful, inspirational and useful. Eight new jobs were created as a result of joining the scheme and the firms which took part raised £900,000 through equity funding and grants during the programme.
Thirteen secured new partnerships or substantial customers and 13 entrepreneurs who were introduced to the space sector through the programme have said they will remain there.
As well as those directly involved in space, businesses taking part came from sectors including mechanical engineering, textile manufacturing, cosmetics, bio-plastics and finance as well as university spin-outs working on technological developments based on research. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Aug 21. OneWeb and Northwestel sign Memorandum of Understanding to expand connectivity solutions for business, governments and mining across northern Canada. OneWeb, the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, and Northwestel, northern Canada’s largest telecommunications provider, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand remote mining, enterprise business and government broadband options in northern Canada.
The announcement follows the successful completion of OneWeb’s ‘Five to 50’ programme that has delivered the satellites required to bring OneWeb services to Canada, the UK and Northern Europe later this year.
As part of the agreement, the companies will collaborate on opportunities to deliver new connectivity services to remote mines, businesses and governments across Canada’s north using OneWeb’s low Earth orbit satellite backbone.
OneWeb continues to build momentum and execute the deployment of its network at pace and is seeing increasing demand from customers, particularly in remote locations. This agreement will allow the company to harness Northwestel’s significant experience, northern presence and resources in serving Canada’s northern territories.
OneWeb’s Chief Executive Officer, Neil Masterson, said: “OneWeb continues to make great progress as we prepare to launch service later this year north of the 50th Parallel to reach vital but remote areas of the globe. This partnership with Northwestel is more evidence that our network is an important element in bridging the last digital divides by providing high-quality connectivity services to those that need it most. This is an exciting time for OneWeb as we continue to demonstrate momentum and the confidence that our business customers have in our services and offering.”
NorthwesTel President, Curtis Shaw, commented: “Northwestel is committed to bringing the very best technology to Northerners and this agreement with OneWeb allows us to provide improved broadband services to remote enterprises and governments using state-of-the-art low Earth orbit satellite technology. We look forward to providing innovative solutions for northern businesses to go along with our significant residential service improvements over the coming years.”
OneWeb is a global communications network powered from space, headquartered in London, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities. It is implementing a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites with a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals to provide an affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications service, connected to the IoT future and a pathway to 5G for everyone, everywhere. Find out more at http://www.oneweb.world
Northwestel is the largest telecommunications provider in Canada’s north, serving 96 communities across Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia and Alberta. In 2020, Northwestel launched a 3-year Every Community plan to significantly improve broadband services for residents, governments and businesses using the latest fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technologies. Northwestel is a subsidiary of Bell and provides service on the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples across Canada’s North. (Source: PR Newswire)
11 Aug 21. Space Force planning for new component in the Middle East alongside AFCENT. Space Force leaders are hashing out a plan to create a new group under U.S. Central Command to coordinate what military space assets to use in the region, complementary to the Air Force’s own ops organization in the Middle East.
Service components in each region respond to combatant commanders’ requests for forces to handle daily missions. The fledgling reorganization aims to directly involve the Space Force in those discussions and ultimately lead to more robust space ops.
That unit, tentatively known as Space Forces Central Command, could also serve as a blueprint for creating sister groups around the globe — for example, Pacific Space Forces, U.S. Space Forces in Europe and Space Forces Africa, Space Forces Northern in North America, and Space Forces Southern in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, the Space Force’s operations boss in the Pentagon, is leading the planning effort from Washington. Col. Anthony Mastalir, who left Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, for Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar earlier this summer, is helping roll out Saltzman’s vision on the ground in the Middle East.
“If you think that the Space Force service component is … stripping out capability from the air component, I will tell you, that’s not my thought process,” Saltzman said at an Aug. 11 event hosted by the Air Force Association. “It’s to add focus, it’s to add a subordinate commander that, that combatant commander can point to and say, ‘This is your responsibility.’”
Previously, that job fell to an airman serving as the director of space forces in Air Forces Central Command. The Air Force has managed space assets through the Combined Air Operations Center, a mission-planning and data hub located at Al Udeid.
“Let’s say CENTCOM is planning or in the middle of an operation somewhere in the Middle East, and they realize they’re going to need certain [satellite communications] coverage. You go to SPACECENT to request the SATCOM coverage that you need,” said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Maybe they’re experiencing … GPS jamming,” he added. “You go to the Space Force to report that and ask the Space Force to, in the case of M-code [anti-jamming software], bump up the power of the signal in the region.”
In the future, commanders may also turn to the Space Force for battlefield intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data collected by satellites.
The reorganization shouldn’t require any additional people except for perhaps assigning a commander and a deputy commander to SPACECENT, Harrison said. Neither should it call for much more infrastructure than what AFCENT already provides.
Saltzman, a former AFCENT deputy commander, echoed that, saying he intends to keep air and space operations closely linked, noting that the Space Force still relies on Air Force facilities to avoid duplicating cost and effort.
Col. Anthony Mastalir, who left Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, for Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar earlier this summer, is on the ground in the Middle East helping to roll out the plan for Space Forces Central Command. (Michael Peterson/Space Force)
The Space Force can follow the model set by the Marine Corps, which manages troops in the Middle East through its Marine Corps Forces Central Command. Keeping the Air Force in charge of authorizing space combat assets would be akin to the Navy controlling the same decisions for the Marines.
“As an independent service, Space Force should have [administrative control] over their personnel in theater, much like the Marine Corps has … over theater Marines,” said Bruce McClintock, a retired Air Force brigadier general who leads space-related research at the federally funded think tank Rand Corp.
Those experts foresee overlap and possible tension between the Space Force and U.S. Space Command, which directs the personnel and wields the assets of the space service in daily operations.
The service already has a branch that reports to SPACECOM — the similarly named Space Operations Command. Most Space Force units will work for SPACECOM through that subordinate branch, McClintock said.
“Space Force and SPACECOM will need to find a way to have these two entities work together in each theater,” he said. “Given the very close alignment between the service and the [combatant command], this seems possible.”
Wargaming and exercises could help the two figure out how to direct forces via their unique lanes, he suggested.
The Space Force will likewise be challenged to assign guardians to the various combatant commands who can understand their combat mindset and work together efficiently and effectively, Harrison said.
“In the past, [combatant commands] could rely on the Air Force, some fighter pilots to serve as that interface,” Harrison said. “Now, they’re on their own, and they’ve got to have their own Space Force personnel who can function in these important roles.”
He envisions an even larger issue could arise down the road: Creating Space Forces Central Command and other similar organizations may raise questions about how valuable the regional commands they serve are.
“If the Space Force owns the resources — the people, the platforms, the units — and the Space Force is, by necessity, developing these components within each of the geographic commands, and if all the geographic commands are funneling their requests for resources back through these components into the Space Force, what is Space Command doing?” he said.
It’s a sign that the combatant command model is “near the end of its useful life,” Harrison said. Instead, he suggested, adversary- or threat-based commands could pop up and close down as the global security environment evolves.
“Maybe we end up with just a bunch of functional commands [like U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Transportation Command] and some ad hoc crisis commands, if you will,” he said. That could entail separate commands focused on Russia and China, or on Afghanistan if the United States boosts its involvement there, among others.
“We’re entering an era with cyber and space and countries like China and Russia with global reach and ambition,” Harrison said. “The COCOM model is ripe for rethinking.” (Source: Defense News)
11 Aug 21. HENSOLDT completes GALA laser altimeter for mission to Jupiter. European Space Agency’s planetary exploration project relies on laser technology from HENSOLDT. In September 2022, the Ariane 5 launcher will take off from the Kourou spaceport, marking the start of ESA’s JUICE mission for the exploration of Jupiter’s moons. The equipment also includes the Ganymede Laser Altimeter (GALA), for which HENSOLDT supplies essential elements, such as the laser transmit and receive unit and the laser control system. Today, Wednesday, GALA in the presence of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been delivered to representatives of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) after final tests.
HENSOLDT has previously contributed its BELA laser transmitter to ESA’s BepiColombo satellite. That spacecraft has been making its way through the solar system to Mercury since 2018. During the upcoming three-and-a-half-year mission, GALA will be used to survey Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. As the satellite will fly several times over predefined points during this mission, it will be possible to identify changes in the elevation profile. The tides of the icy landmass will be of particular interest in this context. The movements in elevation will show whether there is liquid water under several hundred metres of ice sheet, which would be an indicator of possible life on this moon.
The immense level of ionising radiation created by energetic charged particles becoming trapped within Jupiter’s strong magnetic field is one particular technical challenge posed by the Jupiter system. The spacecraft will have to fly through this intense radiation belt and be protected accordingly. The laser transceiver unit will be powered by energy supplied by solar panels, but their output will be restricted given the large distance from the sun.
11 Aug 21. Astrobotic Awarded Funding to Map Uncooperative Spacecraft in Real Time. The new ALIN system will enable satellite servicing and mapping of planetary bodies. Astrobotic wins a Phase I NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to further develop sensors that three-dimensionally map uncooperative spacecraft and planetary bodies in real time. Astrobotic’s Laser Imaging, Detection, and Ranging (LiDAR)-Inertial Navigation (ALIN) software solution uses LiDAR Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) to provide navigation and mapping in a modular sensor for multiple uses in space. This allows for more affordable, faster data transfers on spacecraft. ALIN will specifically target applications requiring high-fidelity relative navigation and three-dimensional mapping to achieve a variety of mission objectives in Earth, lunar, and Martian orbit.
“Matching the exact orbital plane, altitude, and speed of another object in space will play a key role in the construction of orbital infrastructure. With ALIN, any type of uncooperative satellite, planetary body, or asteroid, can be autonomously serviced or mapped,” says Jeremy Hardy, Senior Robotics Engineer at Astrobotic. “Our system will be more affordable and modular in design, targeting more diverse applications than what currently exists in the market.”
The technology provides a solution that is not reliant on traditional dependencies like visual markers and retroreflectors or prior knowledge of the target. This enables ALIN to build three-dimensional models of uncooperative targets, even in the presence of inconvenient shadowing, or total darkness. Additionally, techniques like LiDAR Odometry and Mapping (LOAM) will also provide maps of the observed area that are particularly valuable to missions where the target body has unknown shape, like in planetary or asteroid exploration or satellite servicing.
Work on Phase I is already underway and will lead to a prototype LiDAR-based navigation and mapping solution capable of real time data collection geared toward satellite servicing and inspection.
Phase II, if awarded, would focus on optimizing the localization algorithms, mapping performance, and timing to meet Rendezvous Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) mission requirements. Phase III could yield a flight-ready system, providing an opportunity for early mission infusion and data collection on smaller CubeSat-style missions or aboard the International Space Station.
10 Aug 21. SpaceLink and Blue Marble Communications Join Forces to Accelerate Development of Advanced Optical Terminals. SpaceLink drives innovation and compatibility for secure, continuous, high-capacity communications relay service between spacecraft and the ground.
SpaceLink, a company that is building an information superhighway for the space economy, announced that it formed a strategic partnership with Blue Marble Communications to accelerate development of advanced optical terminals. The company is driving innovation for its relay service, which uses both optical and radio frequency links for secure, continuous, high-capacity communications between spacecraft and the ground.
Blue Marble is a leading supplier of high-performance, cost-effective, scalable space-qualified high-speed data, RF and optical communications components. The terms of the deal between the two companies, valued at more than $10m, include technological evolution and purchase of terminals for intersatellite links compatible with the Space Development Agency (SDA) standards. A diversified supply of terminals for optical intersatellite links (OISLs) helps SpaceLink manage risk and provide options for its customers.
“Blue Marble takes an innovative, forward-leaning approach to developing ultra-high-bandwidth communications equipment,” said Larry Rubin, Chief Operating Officer at SpaceLink. “Our work together will not only provide SpaceLink with advanced OISLs, but together we plan to develop further capabilities that will broaden the market for the SpaceLink service.”
With the proliferation of spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the demand for fast, continuous, high-capacity connectivity on orbit continues to grow. SpaceLink will relieve the bandwidth bottleneck for organizations that need to transport data quickly and securely to users anywhere in LEO or on Earth.
“SpaceLink’s free-space optical relay satellite constellation will provide a valuable, high-bandwidth data infrastructure enabling secure, real-time access between any OISL-equipped LEO satellite and Earth. In addition to Blue Marble Communications delivering advanced optical terminals for SpaceLink’s first satellite constellation deployment, the agreement provides for the cooperative advancement of our existing technologies to increase the capabilities of their evolving constellation,” said Neal Nicholson, President and CEO of Blue Marble Communications. “SpaceLink is a forward-looking organization that is driving demand for OISLs and our work together will ensure the SpaceLink constellation is ready with capabilities to meet future demands when they’re needed.”
About Blue Marble Communications
Blue Marble Communications designs and manufactures space-qualified communications components and subsystems operating over RF, microwave, millimeter wave and free-space optical spectrums. Our products incorporated advanced regenerative processing and high-speed data networking capabilities enabling hundreds of gigabits of data to be routed amongst multiple satellites as well as land, sea and airborne platforms. Blue Marble Communications is an employee-owned corporation headquartered in San Diego, CA.
SpaceLink will help advance humanity to a new age of space commerce, exploration, environmental awareness, and security. The Always in Sight™ data relay system provides global coverage to empower space system operators to maximize use of their assets. SpaceLink Corporation is headquartered in the Washington DC area and has offices in Silicon Valley, California. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited, a public company traded on the Australian stock exchange. (Source: PR Newswire)
10 Aug 21. Navantia Australia installs SATCOM system on HMAS Canberra. The amphibious assault ship’s communications capabilities have been bolstered following a two-month-long upgrade.
Navantia Australia has installed a new Tri-Band Inmarsat GX and X/Ka-band WGS Satellite Communications (SATCOM) on the Royal Australian Navy’s Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship, HMAS Canberra.
The upgrade, which forms part of Navantia Australia’s broader support for the Royal Australian Navy under the Asset Class Prime Contractor (ACPC) Enterprise arrangement, aims to increase deployed bandwidth availability, enhancing crew conditions and Quality of Life functions while at sea.
The bolstered SATCOM capability is expected to improve digital connectivity by supporting voice, video, social media, internet access and personal communications to enable both the permanent and embarked forces to stay connected.
The upgrade was led by Navantia Australia’s Naval Design and Engineering Centre in Melbourne, which was supported by the LHD Field Engineering group and Navantia Australia’s procurement team in Sydney.
The work included the design and platform integration of a suitable foundation for the antennas (one forward and one aft), as well as design of below deck cabling and routing to the cabinets.
Electrical components for the task were also procured by the firm, including fibre, coaxial and power cables, connectors, glands, armoured conduit, and Fibre Optic Break Out Trays.
Navantia Australia’s managing director, Israel Lozano Barragan, lauded the speed and efficiency of the delivery, with the entire project completed in just eight weeks.
“While this type of activity typifies the type of engineering capability that Navantia Australia performs under sustainment, what is remarkable in this circumstance are the timeframes involved,” he said.
“That the first foundation was craned onto HMAS Canberra in just seven weeks’ following the initial creation of the task, epitomises Navantia Australia’s core values of teamwork and being committed to outcomes.”
The firm’s design team comprised of engineers from combat systems integration, electrical, general design and outfitting, structures, and drafting as well as project management, design authority, field engineering and procurement.
Navantia Australia’s foundation design was supported by IKAD Engineering as part of a subcontract from Naval Ship Management (Australia), while Marine Technicians Australia supported electrical production work.
(Source: Defence Connect)
10 Aug 21. For decades, the United States has used the same approach to detecting ballistic missiles from space: Put a handful of satellites with infrared sensors high in orbit and spread them out to achieve 24/7 coverage of the Earth’s surface.
And it’s largely worked. The Space Force tracks thousands of missiles a year, and in one high-profile case in 2020, America’s premier missile detection satellite system was credited with giving a last-minute warning to war fighters in Iraq who were able to seek shelter from incoming missiles launched from Iran.
But that constellation structure is no longer sustainable. The proliferation of anti-satellite weapons is challenging the approach. It no longer makes sense, U.S. military leaders have said, to put all of their bn-dollar eggs in one basket.
What the Space Force wants is a distributed architecture, meaning more satellites for each capability that are layered in different orbits. Instead of just having a few missile warning satellites in geostationary orbit at 22,236 miles above the Earth’s surface, the service wants to place some in medium Earth orbit — the area from 1,243 miles above Earth up to geostationary orbit.
Meanwhile, the Space Development Agency is developing a new constellation that will also track missiles, made of hundreds of satellites closer to the surface in low Earth orbit. Those are to start operating years before the Space Force could expand its missile warning system.
That sort of distributed architecture across the three levels of orbit not only would offer flexibility; it would ensure adversaries can’t knock America’s space capabilities offline by disabling or destroying a single satellite. If the satellites in geostationary orbit aren’t available, the Space Force can rely on satellites in other orbits.
Now, digital engineering tools are giving Space Force officials new insight into how to achieve that distributed architecture to augment high-orbit satellites that watch for missiles. The service is heavily investing in digital engineering concepts that have made headway in parts of the aerospace community and other industries, enabling it to test and validate new satellite designs and constellation structures in a digital environment. More than simply providing graphics, the tools allow users to test their designs in simulations that accurately represent space environments, and track how changes affect performance.
America’s next missile warning constellation — the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared — was designed as one of those large, exquisite systems with sophisticated, expensive technology. The first block will comprise five satellites placed in high orbit, effectively replacing the Space Based Infrared System satellites in a like-for-like move with some small changes. The Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Lockheed Martin $2.9bn in 2018 to design three geostationary satellites, and $4.9bn in 2021 to build them. Northrop Grumman secured $2.4bn to design the constellation’s two polar satellites.
But in May, the Space Force announced two contracts that could radically change the future of the system. The SMC issued two awards — $29m for Raytheon Technologies and about $28m for Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing subsidiary — to build digital models of the next generation of Next Gen OPIR satellites. The companies will use digital engineering practices not only to design the satellites, but to validate whether they can effectively operate in medium Earth orbit.
A transition to MEO satellites would be a seismic shift for America’s missile warning architecture, and the move to use digital engineering provides one of the first looks at what the Space Force meant when it said it wanted to be the world’s first fully digital service.
Why branch out to other orbits?
According to Rob Aalseth, executive director with strategic systems in Raytheon Intelligence and Space’s space and command-and-control systems division, this journey began in 2019. That year, the company secured a study contract from the SMC to perform reconnaissance on the maturity of technologies in industry for the Block 1 satellites for Next Gen OPIR. The Space Force awarded the company a follow-on option for that effort to discuss how it could change the system’s architecture.
“One of the areas that we had discussed at great length was moving sensors to medium Earth orbit, MEO, and there was a lot of benefits. For one, there’s some sensitivity gain because you’re a little closer to the Earth,” Aalseth told C4ISRNET.
In fact, MEO covers a broad swath of space significantly closer to the planet. While geostationary orbit is constant at 22,236 miles up, MEO covers everything below that down to 1,243 miles above the Earth’s surface. While most major Pentagon-owned satellites operate in GEO, the department has some in MEO — most notably the GPS constellation.
“MEO has a lot of great benefits,” said Millennium Space Systems CEO Jason Kim. “What MEO does is you can see a larger swath of the Earth with less satellites than in LEO — LEO you would need hundreds of satellites to get to global coverage, and if you lose some of the satellites in critical spots that opens up a gap in coverage. LEO is also limited by the horizon.”
That poses a challenge for SDA’s planned LEO missile tracking satellites, which will operate closer to Earth to more easily detect hypersonic weapons. Their limited vantage means they only track the weapons for a short period before those missiles disappear behind the horizon.
The SDA hopes to solve that problem by creating an on-orbit mesh network connecting hundreds of missile warning satellites, enabling them to pass tracking custody from satellite to satellite as threats travel around the world. Higher up in orbit, a MEO satellite can track threats longer before the horizon cuts off its view.
For Kim, MEO represents a better option than LEO and GEO. It has more satellites than GEO to provide resiliency but doesn’t need the massive number of satellites required for worldwide coverage in LEO.
As part of its study contract with the Space Force, Raytheon used internally developed algorithms to show how placing Next Gen OPIR satellites in MEO could provide resiliency through layers while also picking up performance at a discount over exquisite systems’ prices.
While neither company provided estimates for what their satellites could cost, MEO satellites are typically smaller, making them cheaper to produce and launch.
“It was a neat thing to watch the lightbulb go on when they realized just how capable some of these things could be if you just applied certain algorithms in novel ways and you applied sensor combinations in novel ways that they really hadn’t sort of conceived of,” Aalseth said.
Both satellite designs under development by Raytheon and Millennium would be able to operate in MEO and GEO, giving the government flexibility.
“It’s a very affordable approach where you can develop sensors that can operate in different orbit regimes without having to radically change those sensors,” Aalseth said.
Not only would the offered solutions improve the capability and resiliency of the constellation — both Kim and Aalseth said their satellites would be cheaper than the status quo.
“We went with a compact vehicle that is high performing and affordable, so our customers could pay significantly lower costs for more satellites. And we’ve already demonstrated that our system provides a significant improvement in capability by using SBIRS data in a high-fidelity simulation,” Kim said.
To briefly restate: The contractors assert that adding a MEO Next Gen OPIR architecture would be cheaper and more resilient, and deliver a higher-resolution product. And if the Space Force likes what it sees from these contracts, there could be lucrative awards for the two companies in the near future. Following critical design review of the payloads in 18 months, the Space Force could pick up future options for integration and launch of up to three space vehicles from each provider to start the more spread-out design, said Kim.
How digital engineering works
Just as radical as the potential changes to the Space Force’s missile warning architecture are the new digital engineering priorities of this contract.
Aalseth said analog design practices are more divided, with individuals and teams working on the satellite system’s different parts. In that environment, it might not be immediately apparent how a change on one part could affect the rest of the system. With digital engineering, on the other hand, every team member has access to every part of the design, and changes to one part of the system are reflected immediately in the digital model. The team is able to see how work by an individual affects system performance.
The high-fidelity environments that digital engineers use more accurately show how the system will work on orbit. They’re more than simple animations — engineers are able to take the actual dimensions, capabilities and physical properties of the system and test them in a realistic re-creation.
“You can float requirements all the way through, but digitally. You actually have a full representation of a product as well as all of the parameters to a high level of detail,” Aalseth said. “You could actually measure the performance of your electronics against the output, because it’s a realistic depiction.”
Announcing the digital engineering-focused contracts in May, SMC Program Executive Officer for Space Development Col. Timothy Sejba said they would “support U.S. Space Force’s architecture analysis by providing realistic cost, schedule and performance predictions, essentially enabling a digital ‘try it before you buy it’ approach.”
Digital engineering contributes to the Space Force’s goal of avoiding vendor lock. With standard industry tools, the Space Force can take parts or satellites from third parties, introduce them into the digital environment and see how they impact its systems.
“This effort is a key component of SMC’s Digital Engineering strategy, enabling the government to incorporate and connect multiple contractor models in an automated digital environment,” Sejba said.
This is the first major contract announcement to emphasize digital engineering since the Space Force declared earlier this year that it would be the world’s first digital service, though industry and significant parts of the aerospace community already use digital engineering practices.
“But this is more of a new approach, as you know, for space. The airborne world has adopted this for several years, and then the Formula race car world and the automobile world has adopted this for many, many years,” Kim said.
Millennium Space learned about digital engineering from its parent company and will use the same industry standard tools the Space Force is adopting.
“We have an incredible opportunity to help the U.S. Space Force with the digital models and show the benefits of using these digital models in the trade space to move fast and also to have the flexibility to trade multiple designs and validate those designs as you’re building the systems,” said Kim. (Source: Defense News)
10 Aug 21. Lockheed Martin LINUSS™ Small Satellites Ready for 2021 Launch. Newest LM 50™ CubeSats to Demonstrate In-Orbit Satellite Upgrade and Servicing Capabilities. Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) In-space Upgrade Satellite System (LINUSS) completed environmental testing and is ready for launch later this year, demonstrating how small CubeSats can regularly upgrade satellite constellations to add timely new capabilities and extend spacecraft design lives.
LINUSS is a pair of LM 50™ 12U CubeSats — each about the size of a four-slice toaster — designed to demonstrate how small satellites can serve an essential role in sustaining critical space architectures in any orbit. Developed using internal funding, LINUSS will be two of the most capable CubeSats in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO).
“Space is a dynamic domain and our customers are demanding the ability to rapidly upgrade spacecraft on orbit – to provide greater capabilities and more mission flexibility,” said Chris Crawford, vice president of advanced program development for Lockheed Martin Military Space. “LINUSS will be the first step flight-qualifying this technology. The ultimate near-term goal is supporting upgradeable LM 2100™ satellite bus platforms, starting with GPS IIIF Space Vehicle 13.”
LINUSS’ mission is to validate essential maneuvering capabilities for Lockheed Martin’s future space upgrade and servicing missions, as well as to showcase miniaturized Space Domain Awareness capabilities. LINUSS also will demonstrate mature new onboard high-performance processing by Innoflight; low-toxicity propulsion by VACCO; and inertial measurement units, machine vision, 3-D printed components and SmartSat™ (transformational on-orbit software upgrade architecture) technologies by Lockheed Martin.
“Given we are well known for our systems integration work on large satellite systems, some people are surprised to learn Lockheed Martin has launched over 150 small satellites since 1997,” said Dr. David J. Barnhart, LINUSS Program Director. “LINUSS has higher bus density, payload accommodation, and on-orbit processing than any other CubeSat, enabling revolutionary mission capabilities in the future. Early customer community feedback has called LINUSS ‘the most capable CubeSat pair off the planet.’”
Part of Lockheed Martin’s LM 50 family of smallsats, both LINUSS spacecraft – measuring roughly 8x8x12 inches – are the collaborative integration of the company’s mission electro-optical payload deck with a next-generation 12U bus from Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Company.
Besides LINUSS, some other recent Lockheed Martin smallsat projects include: DARPA’s Mandrake, integration for DARPA’s Blackjack constellation, Pony Express, LunIR and La Jument. In Europe, the company also is involved in developing a 6U nanosat with GomSpace and Orbital Microsystems, as well as supporting the U.K.’s ambitions to launch smallsats through the UK Spaceflight Programme.
09 Aug 21. Hypersonic Missile Defense May Depend on Low Earth Orbit Satellites. Sensors in relatively low orbits may be the best way to spot superfast missiles—but they can’t do the job alone. The Antares rocket that’s launching Tuesday to replenish the International Space Station will be carrying a camera sensor with a unique missile-defense task: to begin gathering data that could help the U.S. more quickly detect and defend against hypersonic missiles.
The Prototype Infrared Payload, nicknamed “PIRPL,” was developed by Northrop Grumman and the Missile Defense Agency to see how low Earth orbit, or LEO, satellites might be used to help detect hypersonic missiles.
“So, tracking layers—looking at missile warning, missile tracking, those kinds of defense-related missions—those are usually done at higher orbits like geostationary orbit, with bigger sensors on longer-life satellites. Sometimes we call them national assets,” said a Space Development Agency official who briefed reporters on the condition they not be named.
But geostationary satellites operate at an altitude of 35,000 kilometers from the Earth’s surface, which makes it more difficult to rapidly discern the dim infrared signatures of hypersonic missiles against all the infrared noise, or clutter, generated by the Earth. A low Earth orbit satellite operates at about 1,000 kilometers, “which gives me a ton of better detection capability,” the official said.
“A maneuvering advanced hypersonic missile is not bright and that is why we need to innovate,” the official said.
When a target of interest is identified, the images collected have to be run through a decluttering process to refine out that dim signature.
SDA and MDA have been working toward having a network of low Earth orbit satellites that could speed that detection.
“We have some tough threats out there these days. If we can show we can do those missions at a lower Earth orbit, we are able to get much closer to the source and they look much brighter,” the official said.
But the satellites can’t do the job alone. In order to quickly spot a hypersonic missile’s heat signature, they need to know the existing signatures of the atmosphere, clouds, land, and water as they appear in that low Earth orbit.
“But we don’t have that empirical data,” the official said.
PIRPL will be mounted on a panel on the Cygnus spacecraft riding atop Tuesday’s Antares rocket launch, and once in orbit, begin to collect shortwave and mid-wave infrared imaging data “nearly simultaneous through a rapidly moving filter wheel that will let us understand: ‘What does the atmosphere, clouds, Earth’s surface, land, and ocean all look like at various times of the day and night, from this type of sensor in a low Earth orbit’” to build those data points, the official said.
PIRPL will also be used to help MDA better define what capabilities the future low Earth orbit tracking satellite network will need, the agency said in a statement to Defense One.
“It’s imperative we have the capability to look down on the warm Earth and pick targets out of that scene,” the agency said in a statement. “The Prototype Infrared Payload will help inform MDA’s development of the payload for the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, which is on course for an on-orbit demonstration using two prototype space vehicles in 2023. These space vehicles will demonstrate the unique sensitivity and fire-control quality of service performance necessary to support the hypersonic kill chain.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
09 Aug 21. How USAF Materiel Command will help the Space Force. The U.S. Space Force confirmed it will not have a servicing major command like the other armed services. Instead, it will rely on U.S. Air Force Materiel Command to provide that level of base operations support.
Space Force leadership has stated since the service’s beginning that it plans to be a relatively lean, mission-focused organization, relying on the Department of the Air Force for most of its supporting functions, such as infrastructure logistics, security, and medical and chaplain services. According to an Aug. 4 announcement, the Space Force signed a memorandum of understanding and set up a programming plan that outlined how AFMC will support the new service.
This arrangement will ensure airmen assigned to the Space Force have the same access to development opportunities and administrative support as those serving at Air Force installations. The plan will not affect guardians because they will receive support through their field commands.
AFMC will provide the following functions to the Space Force: “providing policy guidance, interpretation and, where applicable, waiver authority; professional development opportunities and guidance; developmental team representation; and functional-specific roles.”
The Air Force expects an initial operational capability this fall, with full operational capability achieved in fall 2022. AFMC will service about 8,000 airmen assigned to Space Force bases.
“We’re honored to be able to provide support to the outstanding Airmen who are helping advance the U.S. Space Force mission,” AFMC Commander Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr. said in a statement. “We’re all in to ensure the success of the space mission and the Airmen assigned to the U.S. Space Force.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
06 Aug 21. Firefly to Become the Premier Supplier of Rocket Engines and Spaceflight Components for the Emerging New Space Industry. Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, today announced the launch of a new line of business dedicated to supplying rocket engines and other spaceflight components to the emerging New Space industry.
“Our goal with this line of business is to become the Tier 1 supplier of components to the New Space industry,” said Tom Markusic, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “Our component sales business model has inherent advantages over businesses that focus on a single (e.g., rocket engines) or narrow range (e.g., valves) of components.”
The development of this new line of business was born out of the overwhelming interest in Firefly’s technology and the need, within the New Space industry, to shorten the time to market and have a reliable and consistent sourcing partner for the components necessary to develop spaceflight vehicles.
Firefly is unique in that it not only builds and operates spaceflight vehicles, such as its Alpha rocket, but will also become a premier sourcing partner for other New Space companies to procure the components that are used in those vehicles, helping to lower the barrier to entry in the New Space market. Through the manufacture of their own vehicles, Firefly will establish flight heritage for all components before supplying them to other companies, providing customers with high confidence and low risk, as the components will have been fully proven in spaceflight missions, not just ground tests.
The component business plan also has the advantage that there is automatically a core customer – Firefly’s spacecraft and launch vehicle divisions. As the company adds external customers, it will allow them to manufacture increasingly larger numbers of the same components, creating economies of scale for production efficiency and cost reduction.
“We initially focused external sales on Firefly’s rocket engines, which we believe provide the best cost/performance in the industry. Initial demand has been strong, with external orders already exceeding the quantity of engines that Firefly was building for use on its own launch vehicle, Alpha,” said Eric Salwan, CRO of Firefly. He added “Firefly also has strong expertise in the design and production of carbon fiber composite structures. We are currently in active negotiations to supply composite components, such as composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV), to external customers.”
While Firefly is launching this line of business based on the components developed in-house, it plans to expand its offerings to include a number of components developed by their partners, creating a New Space component marketplace with a complete line of products allowing companies to procure and have components delivered from a single source. (Source: ASD Network)
09 Aug 21. £9.5m investment for military space communications. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have awarded a £9.5m contract to In-Space Missions Ltd for the build of the Titania satellite, which will undertake vital research on the next-generation of communications technology. To be launched in 2023 and approximately the size of a washing machine, the satellite will support the ‘Titania Operational Concept Demonstrator’ which is exploring the military utility of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) direct-to-earth free-space optical communications (FSOC).
As modern battlespace technology requires increasingly high bandwidth, FSOC has the potential to transform military communications with its ability to transfer large volumes of data, with a low risk of detection or interception.
The technology works by transmitting the data at high speeds via narrow laser beam between two very specific points. In this case Titania will communicate with ‘Puck’, Dstl’s new Optical Ground Station – carrying on the tradition of the UK naming space projects and satellites after Shakespearian characters.
Dstl’s space programme manager, Dr Mike O’Callaghan said, “The Titania space mission will accelerate the development and adoption of space-based optical communications, allowing our Armed Forces the ability to operate in an increasingly contested environment. The Titania satellite will support the UK space sector and provide a solid foundation on which to conduct experimentation into FSOC and allow the science to be developed. We are delighted to be working with In-Space Missions on this highly innovative project.”
With transfer speeds of multi-Gigabytes per second, the increased rate of data transfer provided by FSOC will enable faster military decision making, and when launched, Titania will focus on demonstrating the rapid transfer of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance data.
This world-leading science will inform choices for military space capabilities and could be utilised for future military satellite communications, potentially providing high speed connectivity to link air, land and maritime platforms.
The satellite will be built in the UK by Hampshire-based In-Space Missions, with the contract directly supporting 20 jobs at the company and in the UK supply chain. Forming an important part of developing the MOD’s space capability, the contract follows the recent launch of UK Space Command at RAF High Wycombe, which saw the headquarters of Defence space capabilities and operations officially ‘stood up’.
Commander of UK Space Command, Air Vice Marshal Paul Godfrey said, “Following our stand-up as a Joint Command, the Titania satellite contract is the next exciting step for the UK in space. It’s a brilliant example of the partnerships being developed and enhanced across the UK space enterprise, developing capabilities that not only enable military operations, but underpin countless activities essential to our way of life and the safety of our nation.”
Supported by the £24bn uplift announced by the Prime Minister last year, the programme reaffirms commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper with a focus on developing space capabilities and operating in this domain. The construction of the Titania satellite is part of the MOD’s investment of over £1.4bn into next-generation technology in the Defence Space Portfolio across the next 10 years.
The contract to build the satellite has been awarded through the Serapis Lot 2 commercial framework, run by Dstl in collaboration with BAE Systems. The framework aims to reach non-traditional defence suppliers, small and medium-sized enterprises, and academia to develop new capabilities with the space domain. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
02 Aug 21. Spaceport Cornwall To Welcome Students + The Public — STEM + Smallsats. Following the activity at the UK’s first horizontal launch site during G7 – including the Prime Minister’s visit to the a program of STEM activities.
This funding, which is subject to business case approval by UK Government, will be used to maximize the impact of the first launch from Spaceport Cornwall throughout the next year, focusing on a coordinated range of outreach events that will engage all audiences – from students to the general public – in STEM and promote Cornwall’s developing space cluster.
The program is anticipated to reach more than 700,000 people, offering at least 10,000 students interactive hands-on experience at the home of UK space launch. A key part of the planned engagement will be three exhibitions open to the general public from August 2021 – July 2022.
The first will be held at Cornwall Airport Newquay. Launching August 2nd, “Story of a Satellite: journey of a UK satellite” will feature Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne replica rocket and will be an interactive exhibition with rolling 1 – 1.5 hour experiences.
The exhibit is a UK first, bringing together the strength of the UK’s space supply chain under one roof. Aimed at shining a spotlight on the innovation taking place – from sustainable launch to space debris removal technologies – during the journey around the space, visitors will be able to engage with key businesses and organisations pioneering the next era of space exploration – including the UK Space Agency, OneWeb, D-orbit, Surrey Satellites, Sierra Space, Skyrora, Proto Launch, Goonhilly Earth Station, Avanti Communications, University of Exeter, Eden Project, Astroscale and the Satellite Applications Catapult.
The exhibit will take visitors from the subsystems and infrastructure of smallsats to the launch vehicles at the heart of the UK’s ambitions and to the ground stations that will receive communications and data from launch – eventually leading them to a demonstration of real-world applications of satellite data and how it benefits life on Earth. There will also be the opportunity to learn more about Kernow Sat 1 – the UK’s first community satellite to be launched from Spaceport Cornwall in 2022. The exhibit will be open to the general public and it is expected to host around 15,000 visitors during the summer, including many local schools.
The second exhibition will be hosted at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro later in the year. “Step Into Space” will showcase the rich history and future of space in Cornwall. Set against a backdrop of Cornwall’s innovative industrial history, it will feature interactive information on the region’s pioneering space industry and what the future holds.
The final exhibition will remain fixed at the Eden Project – demonstrating the benefits of space and satellite technology to life on earth. The “Space & Environmental Intelligence” exhibit will be home to physical information on the positive impact of satellite technology and will also host talks and panel discussions around the relationship between space and the environment.
Alongside these public facing exhibitions, Spaceport Cornwall will be running around 2,500 hands-on half day experiences for students at their Education Centre. “Inspiration Space” will focus on enthusing the next generation, detailing the possibilities and potential of the space activity happening on their doorstep, and what it could mean for their future. By bringing space home, Spaceport Cornwall wants to engage audiences in the STEM learning that will ultimately increase the amount of students studying STEM subjects in the future, and showcase the career and economic opportunities that space in Cornwall is bringing.
ESA Astronaut Tim Peake said, “There are so many exciting developments happening in UK space right now. This program of outreach activities will be key in continuing to inspire and teach our next generation who will pioneer the future of our industry.”
Ian Annett, Deputy CEO for Program Delivery, UK Space Agency, said, “As the UK space sector continues to thrive, and we look towards the first small satellite launches from UK soil in 2022, Cornwall has a bright future as a centre of excellence and achievement in space. We want young people across the UK to share in the excitement and opportunities that space offers, and this exhibition is a great way to inspire a new generation of engineers, scientists and explorers.”
Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorp, said, “We were honored to welcome world leaders to our hangar during G7 and we’re now thrilled to be able to welcome the next generation of leaders in STEM, and beyond, to these exhibits. We want to demonstrate the positive impact space can have on us all and lead the way in engaging communities both locally and globally.”
Virgin Orbit CEO, Dan Hart, said, “With the UK’s space industry in the midst of an extraordinary evolution, it’s the perfect time to inspire, educate, and engage with the space leaders of tomorrow. We’re proud to work alongside Spaceport Cornwall to get students excited about space and all the benefits that come along with a thriving local industry.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Aug 21. UK’s Space Forge Sows Seed Money For Manufacturing Materials In Space. Space Forge, a UK based in-space manufacturing company specializes in materials that can only be manufactured in space. This can result in having an outsized impact on some of the most pressing issues on the planet, from climate change to disease. Moving forward the company has raised a seed round for an undisclosed amount that includes participation from major companies in the space industry. Space Forge is targeting applications which will prevent megatonnes of CO2 from ever reaching the atmosphere.
Leading the investment are Type One Ventures and Space Fund. Newable Ventures, DBW, E2MC, Space.vc, Virgin Galactic’s George T Whitesides, BPEC, and Voyager Space Holdings’ Dylan Taylor are also participating in the round.
Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said, “As a government, we’re committed to helping Welsh businesses develop innovative new technologies that help solve some of the major problems we face as a society, while helping to create the jobs of the future.
“Space Forge is a real Welsh success story. I’m delighted they’ve been able to access funding from the Welsh Government and the Development Bank for Wales, and have been supported by our Newport-based Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult to develop truly pioneering in-space manufacturing technologies. They are a shining example of the type of company we want to see in Wales — one that is innovative, agile and sustainable.”
Space Forge’s novel approach to in-space manufacturing without the use of existing infrastructure like the ISS is a huge step forward for the industry. They are building dedicated manufacturing platforms called ForgeStars. The company will operate high cadence operations that are quickly scalable to hundreds of kgs (with the target of scaling to thousands of kgs) without the need of astronauts in place for the manufacturing process. Proving scale and high cadence to meet the growing demand for these novel materials in space will lead the company to ultimate success.
Harshbir Sangha, Growth Director, UK Space Agency said, “Like many UK space businesses, Space Forge is growing strongly — and this new investment will drive further growth by helping improve manufacturing processes in Space.
It is another fantastic example of how government and private sector investment is supporting innovation in the commercial space sector, which now employs 45,000 people and generates £16.4bn for the UK economy.”
“Space manufacturing has been a focus of mine for many years. What Space Forge is doing to close the value loop for in-space manufacturing and product return is remarkable. This approach could be a game changer for the industry.” said Dylan Taylor, CEO and Chairman, Voyager Space Holdings.
SF was founded by Joshua Western and Andrew Bacon in the UK in 2018 and has since built a strong team, advisory board, a direct working relationship with the European Space Agency, and direct European space partners. In 10 months the team has grown from two people in a garage to 15 in a new satellite manufacturing facility in Cardiff.
David Blake of the Development Bank of Wales said, “Our equity finance is perfect for technology start-ups like Space Forge; providing seed investment to help drive growth and accelerate the development of critical technologies. Importantly, Space Forge is also creating highly skilled jobs. It is a great example of the innovative tech businesses that we are attracting to Wales with our funding and we are pleased to be supporting Josh and the team with a second round of investment alongside industry specialist co-investors.”
“Space Forge is years ahead of its competitors in terms of development and time to market. There also has been a long standing vision in the space industry of utilizing the vastness of space for heavy industry that pollutes Earth. With Space Forge’s financing we’re moving closer to that reality.” said Type One Ventures’ Managing Partner Tarek Waked. (Source: Satnews)
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