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08 Sep 21. First commercial rocket will lift-off from Whalers Way on Friday. Australia’s first commercial rocket launch will take place from Whalers Way on Friday, in a hugely significant moment for the country’s space sector. The Australian Space Agency (ASA) confirmed SA-based Southern Launch will launch its second-ever rocket into space from the site, which was approved in late August by the government. The company will use Taiwan Innovative Space’s (tiSPACE) Hapith I rocket as part of testing whether the site is viable for future suborbital launches. TiSPACE’s Hapith I is a 10 meter, two-stage rocket, designed to be lightweight while carrying significant payloads into space – along with reduced costs. Data will be collected during the missions, measuring environmental impacts on the rocket during its orbit. Southern Launch’s chief executive Lloyd Damp said the rocket can operate within numerous weather conditions, but the designated time will be between 6am to 6pm.
“We’re working with the BOM and with other sources of information to work out when we could potentially launch during that day,” Damp said to the ABC.
“I would love to see Thursday come out as a beautiful blue day with not a cloud in the sky.”
In September last year, Southern Launch completed its first rocket lift-off from the Koonibba Test Range in South Australia with its TED-01 DART.
This led to the company receiving approval in June this year to construct infrastructure necessary to support the test launch campaign in Whalers Way.
Local conservation authorities and councils were in opposition of the location chosen; due to the various federal-listed threatened bird species it would disturb.
But in late August, Whalers Way was officially approved by the Australian government as a commercial launch site, the first established in the nation.
On Tuesday, Southern Launch announced its temporary marine restrictions to make way for the three launches set for this year.
“For safety reasons, vessels and persons other than those participating in the event are prohibited from entering the above area of water on the notified launch occasions,” it said.
From 5 September to 31 December, the zone will be closed to tourists and locals.
Some locals are concerned about the launch impacting wildlife in the sea, such as Whales, but Southern Launch said it would monitor the area before the mission begins.
The company said one of the reasons it left a 12-hour window for the launch was so it had time to assess any active sea-life near the pad before lift-off.
Damp said the noise of each launch will depend on their size: “The bigger the rocket, the louder the noise.
“These are very small rockets. We have an active water deluge system so there should be water sprayed all around the place which will help to dampen the noise as well.
“We anticipate for us, on the range, it should be as loud as distant thunder. For people off the range, you should just be able to hear it.” (Source: Space Connect)
09 Sep 21. Microsoft, Nokia partner to push SA into space. Microsoft’s Azure Space and Nokia have partnered with the South Australian government to deliver a “new era” of space technology, pledging to provide better connectivity to remote areas.
The tech giants will set up at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide, a social business start-up hub, to determine how artificial intelligence, cloud power and 5G can spearhead the space sector.
The partnership outlined some of the innovations will include ship-to-ship connectivity and 5G-enabled fleets (planes, drones, UAV) connected through satellite technology.
Minister for Trade and Investment Stephen Patterson said that South Australia is becoming the “epicentre” of Australia’s space economy.
He said continuous investments into Lot Fourteen’s innovation precincts will aid the $6.5 million initiative to design and build a low-Earth orbit satellite in providing “space-derived services to the state”. Lynn McDonald, a former US Air Force Colonel and lead of Azure Space in Australia, said the two companies will explore how 5G innovation can improve the sector.
She said it will assist the sector to take a “giant leap forward” into digitalizing space capabilities through cloud computing.
5G technology is set to add $8 trillion to global GDP by 2030, and Australia’s civil space sector contributes to $4.1bin in revenue already. Space has become increasingly accessible over time, and Australia has recently committed to boosting its territory in orbit – with the industry set to create over 20,000 jobs in a decade. The partnership will focus on South Australia first, expanding capabilities in industries including agriculture, mining and resources, and transport.
“These capabilities will enable a new generation of high-impact digital solutions in remote areas such as rail safety, mine automation and other use cases that require high performance edge connectivity,” the press release said.
To dive deep into research, Microsoft announced on Thursday it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute for Machine learning.
The ‘Project AI Off Earth’ will “explore how advanced cloud computing, AI, computer vision and machine learning can be applied in space, beyond Earth’s surface,” according the company.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the partnership as he believes it “further cements” the state’s global standing within the industry.
Although NASA and the European Space Agency have pioneered the industry, Australia has been vital to some of the largest space breakthroughs in history. In 1960, Australia was vital to the success of the Apollo 11 mission through its Honeysuckle Creek tracking station and Parkes Radio telescope, which provided key telecommunications throughout the event.
Engineers from Australia’s CSIRO also supported communications for the Mars rover landings through the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, one of NASA’s largest tracking facilities outside of the US.
(Source: Space Connect)
09 Sep 21. James Webb Telescope set to launch in December. French-based launch service provider Arianespace has revealed the much-anticipated James Webb Telescope will launch on 18 December.
The project is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and Arianespace.
NASA’s telescope will launch on board the heavy-lift space vehicle Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on the north eastern coast of South America.
“We are extremely honoured to orbit NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope with Ariane, a ‘first’ for Arianespace and the European space team,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace.
This mission – dubbed VA256 – has been in the making for 14 years, and is said to be the most powerful space telescope launched, following the already orbiting Hubble telescope.
“We will soon know more about the deepest secrets of our universe, especially how the first galaxies, stars and planets were born and have been evolving since then,” added Israël.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting for over three decades as the largest research tool in space, first launched in 1990.
It has recently faced technical issues, causing industry leaders to fear its time was up, but now being resolved, it will likely be operational until beyond 2030.
The ESA developed the Ariane 5 modifications for the mission, including the upper part elements, fairing, flight program and procurement of the launch program.
ArianeGroup, Arianespace’s mother company, is the lead contractor of the vehicle’s development and production, which is now resting in its final location at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in California before launch.
“Webb will gaze deeper into our origins: from the formation of stars and planets, to the birth of the first galaxies in the early universe,” said the press release.
This will mark the Ariane 5’s third launch of the year.
The first successful VA254 flight was completed on 30 July, almost a year after its last launch on the Ariane 5.
Beatriz Romero, head of Webb project at Arianespace, said the mission is now entering its “final preparation phase” ahead of the campaign.
“Ahead of us, we will see important milestones, such as the mating of the satellite with the launcher, which will require the highest level of skill, dedication and excellence,” she said.
The agency set the new target launch date in line with Arianespace after the telescope completed its final testing.
“Webb is an exemplary mission that signifies the epitome of perseverance,” said Gregory Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“Now that we have an observatory and a rocket ready for launch, I am looking forward to the big day and the amazing science to come.” (Source: Space Connect)
08 Sep 21. Paradigm’s satellite terminal to simplify satcom operations. Satcom expert company offers simplified and flexible operational capabilities while ensuring secure real-time connections. Satellite communication allows militaries to plan and synchronize their units in the field. Satellite terminals provide vital tactical communication on the move, but they often require specialists to set up and operate them. Paradigm claims to offer a simpler solution for the end-user via its Swarm satellite terminal and Paradigm interface module (PIM). UK-based Paradigm Communications has made satcom simple by designing and manufacturing Paradigm interface module (PIM). Using the device requires no particular expertise or specialist training. Paradigm Communication’s head of marketing Tom Farmer tells Army Technology: “The main differentiator with the PIM as far as the end-user in the field is concerned, is the simplicity of use. There are literally three touch buttons, there’s a LED lighting system that makes the pointing and operation of a satellite terminal extremely easy.”
PIM is modem- and terminal-agnostic, and as such, integrable to all major modems allowing a great choice of network flexibility. Operators can follow onboard visual and optional audio cues to set up and operate the terminal.
The device consists of a single, ruggedised unit that incorporates all parts that operators need to power and uses the satellite terminal. Three years ago, Paradigm introduced the PIM950, an advanced version of the module. Farmer says it was created in response to the increasing demand from military end-users needing to switch between different network options.
“The idea behind the PIM950 was to take what we did with the PIM which basically is to create something that is terminal- and modem-agnostic. So, it frees up that sort of flexibility for the military end-user and applies it to the networks, so on the field you can switch between Global Xpress, velocity or evolution networks literally with a simple click of a button drop-down menu,” Farmer says.
He says all this is possible without changing the hardware in the field.
Paradigm’s main aim is to deliver a product to end-users in critical conditions like, special operational forces, intelligence gathering missions, emergency response units or medical teams, that allows them to focus on the task at hand providing they have a simple tool with real-time communication.
The company’s lightweight and portable Swarm satellite terminal offers great operational flexibility and mobility. It can be assembled in under 90 seconds and ready for operations in under four minutes. Farmer says: “It’s our ultra-portable terminal and it’s empowered by PIM. But you can fit it in a backpack, it’s compliant, very light and ultra-ruggedised so it’s capable of withstanding the harshest of environments.”
He continues: “It combines that portability with performance. The reason that the performance is important is because we’re seeing increasingly that medical field teams will be streaming live video, in some cases, so it needs to support a certain amount of data in real-time consulting with their peers who can be anywhere else in the world.
“Swarm allows them to access expertise in real-time they need to deal with whatever situation they might find themselves in, whether it’s in an area that’s hit by a natural disaster, whether it’s in a conflict zone.”
PIM950’s transmission security capabilities are Federal Information Processing Standard compliant under publication number 140-2. But Farmer says military units usually have their own layer of security added to the terminal. Given the flexibility of the product, integrating extra security is simple. Farmer adds: “A lot of the things we do are in very close consultation with the end-user through our partners, and that’s to ensure that very particular requirements are met.”
During experiments, Swarm could provide network speeds capable of delivering high-definition video links and enabled medical equipment to connect to databases securely and wirelessly in real-time.
Paradigm claims that the PIM common terminal for satellite terminal solutions drives training costs down since a user can be trained to function a PIM terminal in less than 30 minutes. (Source: army-technology.com)
08 Sep 21. Australian Space Savers. Could this system form part of Australia’s space EW ambitions? Australia is getting a space Electronic Warfare (EW) system. Defence Project 9358 will “explore options for … a ground-based space electronic warfare capability,” according to a statement from Peter Dutton, minister for defence, in late July. Mr. Dutton’s statement adds that this will “detect and deter attempts to interfere with, or attack, our use of the space domain.”
The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) will explore options and make recommendations to the government, the statement continues. The new capability could be under the command of Australia’s new Space Division. Media reports in May said that the Space Division will be activated in 2022. It will be part of the Royal Australian Air Force. As Defence Project 9358 is currently exploring options, there are no indications on the form that the space EW capability could take.
Australia’s military use of the space domain rests on communications between Earth and satellites. The country’s armed forces use satellites for navigation, communications and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). Central Australia is home to the Pine Gap Earth Station near Alice Springs. Pine Gap receives raw SIGINT from US satellites as they pass over Asia and the Middle East. These SIGINT satellite constellations include Advanced Orion, Improved Trumpet, Mercury and the Space-Based Wide Area Surveillance System. Unsurprisingly, no information appears in the public domain on the datalink frequencies used to transmit raw SIGINT to Earth.
GPS and WGS
The Australian military also uses the US Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation for position, navigation and timing. GPS uses frequencies of 1.164 gigahertz/GHz to 1.575GHz. Australia’s armed forces use encrypted M-Code GPS transmissions. These provide protection against the electronic attack of the GPS signal.
In the communications domain, Australia uses the US military’s Boeing Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation. This carries X-band (7.9-8.4GHz uplink/7.25-7.75GHz downlink) and Ku-band (14GHz uplink/10.9-12.75GHz downlink) traffic. Additional Ku bandwidth is available on Australia’s Optus-C1 civilian/military satellite. Commercial Ultra High Frequency (UHF: 240 megahertz/MHz to 270MHz) bandwidth is leased by the Australian military using the Intelsat-22 satellite. This provides coverage above the Indian Ocean.
There is an imperative to protect Australia’s military use of the electromagnetic spectrum in space. The DOD will need to consider deployable electronic support systems. These could be deployed to a specific theatre alongside Australian forces. Electronic support is key to ensuring that deliberate attacks of GPS signals, or SATCOM traffic can be detected and located. Measures can then be taken to isolate jamming frequencies to minimise the damage. Alternatively, the jammer could be engaged kinetically once its location is known.
Although Pine Gap will almost certainly have means to detect and outflank attempts to attack SIGINT satellite datalinks, Australia’s civilian use of space may have less safeguards. Armada’s records show that the country possesses 13 spacecraft. These are used for a range of activities from SATCOM to research. This excludes Australia’s use of the myriad of international satellites for services ranging from navigation to meteorology. Might the Australian government consider a domestic electronic support system to detect the deliberate attack of civilian satellite signals?
Furthermore, could the Australian military consider means to deny the use of the spectrum by adversaries for space operations? If so, the DOD may have to develop or procure electronic attack apparatus. Given the close Australian-US defence relationship L3Harris’ Counter Communications System (CCS) is one option. Entering service in 2004, the deployable CCS supports US Space Command. It attacks SATCOM frequencies at tactical and operational levels. The CCS may cover wavebands of 240MHz to 40GHz according to our records. This enables the attack of UHF, C-band (5.925-6.425GHz uplink/3.7-4.2GHz downlink), L-band (1.3GHz to 1.7GHz), X-band, Ku-band and Ka-band (26.5-40GHz uplink/18-20GHz downlink) SATCOM frequencies.
The DOD was contacted regarding the scope and timelines of Defence Project 9358. However, we received no responses to our questions prior to this article’s publication. (Source: Armada)
08 Sep 21. Robotic arms, tiny helper satellites: Military explores how to upgrade, repair assets in space. Satellites are notoriously hard to upgrade. Located anywhere from hundreds of miles to tens of thousands of miles above the Earth’s surface, the machines are difficult to reach physically. For years, engineers have designed satellites with the expectation that the hardware and software they put on orbit with a satellite is all they’d get. That incentivized exquisite satellite designs, built to last many years in space before finally being replaced by a satellite with upgraded technologies.
That mindset has started to change in recent years. Companies including Northrop Grumman and Astroscale are pioneering new on-orbit services that could enable everything from supplemental fuel for maneuvering to satellite repairs using mechanical arms. On the software side, companies are embracing software-defined payloads that the military can reconfigure for new uses using the hardware on orbit.
The U.S. Space Force is investing in those efforts. And the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is investing in robotic arms that could revolutionize the ability to repair satellites in space. On the software side, the GPS III satellites, the latest generation launched by the military, feature a 70 percent digital mission data unit, the main piece of the navigation system. GPS IIIF — which will follow after the GPS III series — satellites will feature fully digital navigation payloads built by L3Harris, give operators on the ground more flexibility in how they use the satellites.
But there’s only so much you can change with software alone, and in the end on-orbit GPS satellites are limited by their hardware. However, that may soon change.
Later this year, Lockheed Martin will launch a pair of small cubesat experiments that could pave the way for on-orbit hardware upgrades for GPS satellites, and possibly other Space Force satellites. In short, the company wants to take new hardware (be it a new sensor, data storage, a processor or something else), integrate it with a cubesat, and then plug the cubesat into the GPS satellite via a port on the bus on orbit. Perhaps the cubesat remains connected for the remainder of the satellite’s service life, or perhaps it undocks once a specific mission is complete.
“When we and others build satellites today, they launched with what they’ve got. That’s starting to change with things like software definition,” David Barnhart, Lockheed Martin director of space technology demonstrations, told C4ISRNET ahead of the 36th annual Space Symposium. “But this is essentially significant because it’s the first time that you can really effectively upgrade the hardware.”
The two 12U cubesats — each around the size of a four-slice toaster — that make up Lockheed Martin’s In-space Upgrade Satellite System, or LINUSS, are part of a series of demonstrations that will lead up to the first on-orbit upgrade, which will take place with the 13th GPS IIIF space vehicle. LINUSS will launch into geosynchronous orbit where it will test the precise orbital maneuvers that will be needed to plug the cubesat into the GPS satellite. Lockheed Martin expects to complete the LINUSS mission in two months, although the cubesats could be used for additional experiments in the weeks and months afterward.
The key enabling technology for this satellite upgrade approach is the company’s Augmentation System Port Interface. ASPIN is the docking part where the cubesats will plug into the satellite bus.
“So I kind of think of it like a USB port,” said Barnhart. “You buy your computer, you bring it home, and you want to add something. Like maybe your computer doesn’t have a camera or you want a better camera so you plug in the USB device, and all of a sudden your computer has a new capability it didn’t have out of the box. And that’s kind of the same concept with ASPIN.”
Barnhart added that the ASPIN capability will be part of the baseline for the LM 2100 bus, which Lockheed Martin will use for satellites it’s building for GPS and the Space Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared missile warning system. Future satellites built on that bus will be able to use the on-orbit upgrade capability. Importantly, other companies will be able to build technologies that can plug into ASPIN, meaning that third-party companies can theoretically upgrade Lockheed Martin-built GPS satellites with their technologies.
“All of our LM2100 buses are very long life, and so we’re trying to ensure that they are technically relevant, you know, throughout the entire lifetime by being able to bring up new capability early in the mission, midway in the mission, even at the end of the mission lifetime, by swapping in and out hardware,” said Barnhart.
“And it’s really not just in-orbit upgrading, it’s the possibility of being able to test sensors on production systems in an easier way. [It] is a huge benefit to our customers,” added Barnhart.
The company has several demonstrations planned to build the capability for GPS IIIF space vehicle 13. Barnhart said he expects the company to release a full road map later this year.
In addition to the maneuvering demonstration, LINUSS will also test new high-performance onboard processing capabilities, low-toxicity propulsion, inertial measurement capabilities, and 3-D printed components. It will also showcase Lockheed Martin’s software-defined satellite technology, SmartSat. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Sep 21. Space Force expects $1bn in contracts in first year of Space Enterprise Consortium Reloaded. The U.S. Space Force has ramped up use of its Space Enterprise Consortium, pushing out $1bn in contracts for prototyping efforts in its first year under new management.
That marks a significant increase. From 2017 through about the end of 2020, the consortium issued a total of just $856m in contracts. For context, the Space Force requested $17.4bn for the entire service for fiscal 2022.
Initially established in 2017, the Space Enterprise Consortium was set up as an Other Transaction Authority, a contracting tool that enables faster contracting, connects the government with nontraditional vendors and speeds up system development with rapid prototyping. OTAs have been used to develop new ground systems, a Link 16-enabled space vehicle and more.
The SpEC launched with a $100 million ceiling, but early success convinced the Space Force to revamp the OTA. So just two years after it was created, the Space Force announced its plans to expand the effort as Space Enterprise Consortium Reloaded. The ceiling was raised to $12 billion over 10 years, and the Space Force hired National Security Technology Accelerator, known as NSTXL, as the new portfolio manager.
“To see where we’ve gone, starting off with just [a] $100m OTA ceiling and just a couple dozen small businesses and traditionals — last count we were just shy of 600 companies that are a part of the Space Enterprise Consortium,” Program Executive Officer for Space Enterprise Col. Timothy Sejba said during the annual Defense News Conference Sept. 8. “This year alone, we’re on track to award almost a billion dollars of prototype proposals just via SpEC, and to me that just gives you an idea of how successful that is and has been for us.”
That marks significant growth just this year, with the Space and Missile Systems Center reporting in December 2020 that the consortium had 441 members. Around 80 percent of the members are nontraditionals, he added, with almost 60 percent of the awards going to those companies. Just a few years ago, the Space Force didn’t have access or open lines to those companies at all, said Sejba.
The consortium supports more than just Space Systems Command. It’s worked with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and more, said Sejba.
“It’s a foundational tool for how we are rapidly being able to put requests for prototype proposals out to industry and awarding them almost 40 percent faster than we could have through some of our traditional FAR-based contracts,” he added.
But more than just moving contracts faster, Sejba sees the SpEC opening up dialogue between the Space Force and industry. In October, the consortium will hold its annual meeting, where senior leaders will recap the proposals put out in the last year and review how they’ve been executed. It also provides a key opportunity for requirements owners to present their needs to industry and get together in conference rooms for one-on-one face time with the heads of different companies.
Bringing nontraditional space companies into the Department of Defense has been a focus for the Space Force. In addition to the Space Enterprise Consortium, the service has held Space Pitch Days — events where companies can pitch their technologies and solutions directly to Space Force officials and win contracts on the spot. During the pitch days this summer, the Space Force was able to issue $32m in contracts to about 19 different small businesses, said Sejba. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Sep 21. Airbus successfully trials high speed satcoms through helicopter blades. Airbus Proteus Modem provides BLOS communications on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Airbus has successfully demonstrated beyond line of sight (BLOS) through the rotor blade communications using its Proteus Unity Satellite Modem System on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The trial which took place recently in Tennessee, USA, proves the ability to transmit and receive high data rate intelligence while on the move.
Interference for satcoms caused by rotor blades has long been a challenge for terminal designers and manufacturers.
“Mitigating interference is a highly complex and dynamic problem that has prevented widespread roll out of BLOS communications on rotorcraft. Proteus Unity addresses this challenge and provides a flexible waveform that mitigates interference by transmitting through the rotor blade disc. The modem system adapts to the environment it sees to ensure the most efficient, secure and resilient communications,” said Richard Budd, Head of UK & US Secure Communications at Airbus Defence and Space.
“Proteus provides a highly efficient throughput for wideband communications on rotor or fixed wing aero platforms. It also provides interoperability with other ground or maritime users in the network enabling real-time full motion high-definition video, communications and intelligence to be sent and received on the move,” Richard continued.
The trial follows on from a successful test that took place in the UK in September 2020. In partnership with Airbus Helicopters, the test showed the modem system working with over 80% efficiency through the rotor blades of an Airbus H135.
Unlike other rotor blade satcom systems, Airbus’ Proteus modem comprises an adaptive waveform that ‘senses’ the blade position with no input from the platform itself, and adapts the RF (radio frequency) transmission to always provide the optimum communications link. This unique feature of the Proteus system means reduced SWAP (size weight and power) and it is also quicker to install on platforms.
Airbus’ Proteus Unity modems are Software Defined Radios (SDR) which use frequency hopping, together with spreading, to enable satcoms through the rotor blades. Airbus’ range of high spec Proteus modems are available for fixed, land mobile, airborne and maritime platforms, and deliver maximum satellite bandwidth efficiency and data throughput while offering robust protection against interference (jamming) and interception. Proteus modems operate in star networks in wideband satcom and are band and antenna agnostic (C, X, Ku, Ka-Band).
07 Sep 21. Small Sats at DoD: Let Hundreds Of Programs Bloom. DoD investments in small satellites to date are mostly in the realm of communications and remote sensing, says OUSDR&E’s Doug Schroeder. The Defense Department has formed a new group to coordinate small satellite efforts across the department and services, according to Doug Schroeder, who oversees prototyping of command, control and communications networks at the Pentagon’s Research & Engineering office. The group, which includes representative form the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (R&E) and from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S), has completed an initial report based on a review of who is doing what, where, Schroeder explained at the SATELLITE 2021 conference today.
“If you see the first results of their report, you can count over 100 new small satellite investments across the department — Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force,” he said. For the most part, he added, those investments are in communications and remote sensing satellite systems.
Much of that investment — which Schroeder did not characterize in terms of spending — is coming from the Space Development Agency (SDA). (SDA Director Derek Tournear currently reports to R&E undersecretary Heidi Shyu.)
SDA on Aug. 30 released a request for proposals (RFP) to industry for its initial operational set of communications and data relay satellites, which will make up what the agency calls Tranche 1 of its planned National Defense Space Architecture. The plan is to is a contract in Jan. 2022 for up to 144 satellites.
Within the R&E office, Schroeder explained, work on exploring how satellite networks in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) might rapidly be exploited by military commanders and operators is primarily being run by two of the principal directors for two of DoD’s 11 modernization priorities: Michael Zatman, for Fully Networked C3 (FNC3), and Lindsay Millard for space. Zatman is assessing the technology roadmap for DoD SATCOM, Schroeder explained, and has already issued some solicitations to industry. Schroeder himself is responsible for taking that roadmap and ensuring that it is implemented.
Zatman “has put together a vision that calls out something that many of us thought was impossible decades ago, and that is a completely, fully interconnected, fully networked capability where any SATCOM user can talk to any other SATCOM user, regardless of what terminal or stovepipe,” Schroeder said.
Millard, on the other hand, is responsible for overseeing DoD research on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR, i.e. remote sensing.)
Officials from both the A&S and R&E sides of the Pentagon are laser focused on speeding capabilities to the warfighter, Schroeder stressed. “Leadership is moving to turn the technology advantage quicker,” he said.
To this end, he advised industry with innovative capabilities to look into the “tried and true” method of moving a development contract into initial operational capability and then into the hands of Combatant Commands rapidly, via a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD). JCTDs, he explained, “are the longest established, rock solid methods by which we prove something out.”
JCTDs can be granted for research, development, test and evaluation programs that fall below the $525m (in constant 2020 dollars) threshold for a Major Acquisition Program, according to AcqNotes.
Schroeder also urged interested SATCOM and ISR vendors to send in proposals under the new Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) fund launched by DoD Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. DoD, he said, has already collected more than 200 industry proposals from the services and the Combatant Commands. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
08 Sep 21. OneWeb Prepares To Go Live With Its Global Connectivity Platform. OneWeb, global communications company powered from Space, is gearing up to introduce its Connectivity Platform providing defence and other Government customers with ubiquitous fibre-like connectivity at the tactical edge. Between 14-17 September, OneWeb will exhibit its turnkey satellite-based communications system at DSEI Booth (H2-480), which comprises a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and ecosystem of ground gateways, user terminals and software solutions. Backed by Her Majesty’s Government, OneWeb’s solution will provide multi-domain forces with a rapidly deployable, modular and scalable network benefiting from high bandwidth, low latency, truly global coverage and resilience which not only enhances situation awareness but also streamlines decision-making processes.
The first phase of OneWeb’s Global Connectivity Platform will be operational from November 2022 and will provide coverage across North America, Northern Europe and the Arctic. By 2023 OneWeb will operate a truly global constellation of LEO satellites, providing multi-domain communications-on-the-move as well as future-proofed networking to enable access to aggregated tactical communications networks (featuring MANET, 5G and GEO SATCOM); Cloud Computing; and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Senior leaders from OneWeb, led by Dylan Browne, President Government Services and Billy Bingham MBE, Director Government, will be available to discuss how OneWeb’s constellation of 648 LEO satellites is ready to satisfy emerging requirements from Government customers in areas including Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2); Tactical and Strategic Communications; Maritime Patrol; and Airborne ISR.
“DSEI is a key showcase for the innovative and disruptive capability set that is our OneWeb offer,” explained Dylan Browne. “We are going to be a core component in the global communications architecture of Government, supporting Search & Rescue, Emergency Responders and Beyond Line of Sight requirements and we look forward to meeting many of the key decision-makers at our stand and to addressing their needs for resilient, reliable, secure communications.”
07 Sep 21. Lockheed, Northrop invest in a startup that wants to refuel satellites in space. Defense industry giants Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are investing in Orbit Fab, a San Francisco-based startup that wants to build gas stations in space that can refuel satellites and prolong their lifespan, the companies announced Monday.
Orbit Fab hopes to build a range of tankers and fuel shuttles in low earth orbit, geosynchronous orbit, and cislunar space that can connect with aging satellites and distribute fuel. If successful, Orbit Fab’s technologies would enable customers to operate satellites for a longer period and defer the cost of having to launch a new vehicle into space.
Orbit Fab brought in more than $10m total during its latest funding round from vendors including Lockheed and Northrop, bringing total funding for the company to $17m.
“Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin both see clear value in on-orbit refueling to create a bustling in-space economy,” said Jeremy Schiel, a co-founder of Orbit Fab. “It’s great to see two aerospace and defense leaders embracing this technology. Their investment will help drive the adoption of our on-orbit refueling services and allow us to support the growing satellite servicing industry.”
So far, Orbit Fab has developed several products meant to kickstart the business of refueling vehicles in space. In June, its first on-orbit fuel depot was launched into sun-synchronous orbit. Called Tenzing, the vehicle is filled with high-test peroxide.
The company has also developed the Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface (RAFTI), a fueling port that can connect two satellites.
“With technology moving so rapidly and creating new market entrants, we’re embracing opportunities to partner with emerging technology companies like Orbit Fab to accelerate innovation in new capabilities for our customers,” David Jacobs, Northrop’s vice president of corporate strategy, said in a statement.
Lockheed Martin Ventures director Chris Moran said Orbit Fab’s in-orbit refueling technology “could help our customers address new and evolving threats.”
During an August interview with Defense News, Moran pointed to emerging space technologies as a continued area of interest for Lockheed Martin and signaled that the company’s venture arm would pursue new investments in space startups.
“We’re past the first wave of space, we’re past the first wave of AI, we’re past the first wave of autonomy,” he said. “Now what we’re going to start seeing is the separation between the winners and losers and/or new, complementary technologies coming from them. We’ll pay really close attention to what’s going on there and hopefully find some new and differentiated capabilities along those lines.”
Lockheed Martin Ventures has made numerous investments in space technologies in the past, including to makers of medium and small launch vehicles such as Rocket Labs and ABL Space Systems in 2019.
Moran said Lockheed has already seen a benefit from those investments. Earlier this year, the company announced it had awarded a contract to ABL to perform the first-ever vertical small satellite launch in the United Kingdom, conducted in support of the U.K. Space Agency’s commercial spaceflight program.
Lockheed has also put money toward small satellite providers like Terran Orbital, which has created satellite buses for Lockheed’s LM 50 series of smallsats. In January 2020, Lockheed announced that it had created an experimental mesh networking payload called Pony Express, which was hosted on a Tyvak-0129 spacecraft, for which Terran Orbital is the parent company.
That demonstration helped to validate technologies that led to Lockheed winning a $188m contract from the Space Development Agency later that year, Moran said.
“This is the beauty of the venture space,” he said. “What would have been a paper claim in a [request for proposals] was turned into a real world [demonstration]: ‘Hey, there’s real data. We floated this thing up in space and it’s performing as we thought, and this is what we’re offering you in this larger program, and we can tell you it works. It’s not just speculative.’”
Northrop has also shown interest in satellite servicing technologies that can repair or refuel existing vehicles. In April, its Mission Extension Vehicle-2 successfully docked with an operational Intelsat commercial communications satellite to provide life-extension services for the next five years. (Source: Defense News)
07 Sep 21. Government watchdog: Lack of user equipment holds back military’s narrowband satellite capabilities. The completed constellation of the military’s narrowband satellite communications system has been on orbit for more than four years, yet users still cannot access its full range of advanced capabilities and are forced to rely on overtaxed legacy capabilities. That’s according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog that regularly tracks the progress of Department of Defense systems and capabilities. The Sept. 2 report outlines several issues with the Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS, a narrowband SATCOM program developed and operated by the U.S. Navy. Made up of four active satellites and one spare in geosynchronous orbit, MUOS is the military’s latest narrowband SATCOM system, supplementing and eventually replacing the Navy’s Fleet Satellite and the Ultra High Frequency Follow-On system. Narrowband SATCOM takes place in the 300 MHz to 3 GHz range, enabling more secure communications that are less vulnerable to weather or difficult terrain. Each MUOS satellite has two payloads: one consistent with existing narrowband capabilities and one that can provide more advanced capabilities, such as increased communications capacity, reduced signal interference and improved connectivity. MUOS is supposed to provide “a 10-fold increase in overall communications capacity over legacy UHF capabilities.”
While the satellite constellation has been in place for years now, developments on the ground have progressed much more slowly, the GAO explained. The report noted that the distribution of user equipment has been hindered by a fragmented acquisition process, with each service in charge of purchasing its own equipment. Officials told GAO that made it difficult to align the fielding of terminals with the development of the space segments. A Narrowband Network Transition Plan Working Group was created by the Joint chiefs of Staff in 2020 to address the issue. But the delays in fielding MUOS-ready terminals has resulted in an overreliance on legacy capabilities. The GAO notes a 2019 Navy analysis that found users oversubscribe to the available UHF channels, with Space Command officials admitting that some users forgo requesting UHF services under the assumption that there’s no availability. The MUOS rollout has also been delayed by a lack of planning for the transition from UHF SATCOM networks to MUOS networks. The report stated that DoD did not even begin to develop a network transition plan until 2020 — six years after it first acknowledged the need for a plan.
Further complicating the transition process is the fact that future MUOS satellites won’t support legacy networks. While the current batch of MUOS satellites are designed to work with UHF SATCOM as the services and joint forces transition to the new system, sustainment satellites are being designed with the assumption that the transition is complete. One possible solution is a gateway being developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency, which will translate communications between MUOS and UHF SATCOM. That would enable users who do not plan to transition to MUOS networks to continue communicating — although GAO added that the fix won’t have the capacity to address the entire oversubscription issue. The fact that future MUOS satellites have also been pushed back could also relieve some of the urgency for transitioning.
Despite these issues, the Navy has not adequately planned for the military’s future narrowband needs or for how it will continue capabilities after MUOS. An analysis of alternatives has not taken place in years, despite DoD tasking the Navy to do one in 2017. GAO noted that the Space Force may receive funding to conduct an analysis of narrowband alternatives in fiscal 2022.
DoD has been slowly transferring MUOS to the U.S. Space Force, the new branch of the military established in late 2019 to unify and reform the nation’s space efforts. It was initially announced in May 2019 that the system would move to the Department of the Air Force, and in January 2021 milestone decision authority was officially transferred. Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson told C4ISRNET in May that the system, the operation center and the teams working on it were already in the process of being transferred to the Space Force.
The report concluded with two recommendations. First, it suggested that DoD should explore additional options for providing narrowband SATCOM in the near term. Second, DoD should ensure that narrowband SATCOM requirements are updated so the Space Force can analyze alternatives as early as fiscal 2022. DoD officials concurred with the office’s recommendations in their comments on the report. (Source: Defense News)
06 Sep 21. With restrictions lifted, South Korea launches $13bn space power scheme. South Korea has launched a task force to further develop space capabilities for its military, following U.S. approval earlier this year to lift a restriction on the country’s missile production program.
The vice chief of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, which made the announcement Aug. 19, will lead the team made up of key personnel from the Ministry of National Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Agency for Defense Development and other government organizations.
“The task force will draw up a master plan, in cooperation with related organizations and industries, to develop regulations, technologies, industries, facilities and infrastructure concerned,” DAPA said in a statement.
A week earlier, the agency endorsed a plan to invest nearly $13bn over the next decade to help local industries develop technologies for military satellites. To that end, the Agency for Defense Development decided to transfer core satellite technologies to local defense contractors in preparation for the mass production of military satellites.
“Space programs can be developed further through active and organic cooperation between government agencies to address the various demands from defense, science and technology, and industry,” Seo Hyung-jin, vice commissioner of DAPA, told reporters. “In that regard, the space task force will play an active role in boosting the space industry under a midterm and long-term road map.”
The effort to bolster its space defense capability comes as the country saw limits removed on its rocket development in May. U.S. President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, agreed to end a 42-year-old bilateral missile guideline that restricted Seoul’s ballistic missile range to 800 kilometers.
South Korea is now in the position to develop more powerful rocket engines and play catchup in the commercial space sector.
Commercial space projects in South Korea have seen tangible progress, with the country launching its homegrown, three-stage Nuri rocket, a $1.8bn project designed to put a 1.5-ton satellite into orbit about 600-800 kilometers above the Earth this year.
The launch of the Nuri rocket, also known as KSLV-2, would be a major advancement over the two-stage Naro space vehicle built with domestic and Russian technology. The Naro was hit with delays and two failed launches before a successful flight in 2013 carried a 100-kilogram (221-pound) research satellite to space.
The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 launches from the Naro Space Center on Aug. 25, 2009. This was South Korea’s first space rocket, and it blasted off successfully, six days after a software glitch halted a previous attempt. (AFP via Getty Images)
Under a space development road map drawn up by the National Space Committee, South Korea would launch 110 dual-use satellites with the aim of nurturing the domestic satellite market and meeting demand, Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook told reporters June 9.
Among the 110 small satellites are reconnaissance versions for military purposes; communications satellites for testing 6G broadband internet; and observation satellites for monitoring space weather.
“The space industry is a cutting-edge industry that’s based on intelligence but also a crucial one for national strategy in terms of securing national security and public safety,” Lim said.
Hanwha, which was recently ranked as the 28th largest defense company in the world by Defense News, is the most active domestic player in the expanding space market. Its three defense and aerospace business arms — Hanwha Aerospace, Hanwha Corp. and Hanwha Systems — have each developed space businesses, and the company’s so-called Space Hub task force was formed under the wing of Hanwha Aerospace in March.
“The Space Hub will orchestrate research, development and investments across a wide spectrum of business areas, including space launch vehicles, satellite-based communications, Earth observation (EO), and renewable energy,” the conglomerate said in a statement. “These efforts will play a pivotal role in helping Hanwha take the industry to new heights as a global leader in space.”
In a key step toward extending its space business, Hanwha Aerospace acquired a 30 percent stake in Satrec Initiative, a local company renowned for manufacturing high-end, small- and medium-satellite systems for Earth observation. Notably, Satrec is developing a 700-kilogram Earth-mapping satellite named SpaceEye-T. It’s designed to observe the Earth and provide imagery with resolution as high as 30 centimeters per pixel, with a goal to launch the satellite by early 2024.
Satrec Initiative’s Earth-mapping satellite SpaceEye-T. (Satrec Initiative)
Hanwha Aerospace is also involved in developing liquid engines for the Korea Space Launch Vehicle, or KSLV, and other components like turbo pumps, valves and thrust vector control systems.
Through a technology transfer from the state-funded Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the firm plans to develop laser inter-satellite links. The company plans to apply the technology to a constellation of 2,000 satellites it is building for low-Earth orbit deployment by 2030.
Well known as a missile and ammunition maker, Hanwha Corp. is keen to develop a solid-fuel propulsion system, having only been able to produce liquid-fuel systems. In July 2020, the South Korean government received U.S. consent to use the technology on space launch vehicles. That fuel offers greater mobility for missiles and rockets, but Washington had previously imposed restrictions on Seoul’s use of solid propellant out of concern it could provoke a regional arms race.
“With the removal of restrictions on rocket range and solid fuel, we’re not limited to developing a solid-fuel propulsion system anymore,” a Hanwha official told Defense News on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of discussing missile technology. “However, there has yet to be any requirement for solid-fuel rockets for the military. We believe the space defense program is just a start and would take time to be materialized.”
Hanwha Systems is involved in a state project to build high-resolution surveillance satellites, which would have civilian and military applications capable of monitoring North Korea and neighboring countries in near-real time. The company is focused on producing small, low-orbit satellites that weigh less than 100 kilograms.
That the satellites are lightweight allows for more to be loaded into one projectile and helps create a cluster of satellites that can be connected to provide an integrated communication system that can exchange observational information, according to the firm.
In its latest move to enhance space development capacity, Hanwha Systems spent $300m to acquire an 8.81 percent stake in OneWeb, a low-Earth orbit broadband venture located in London, England, and the U.S. state of Virginia.
Meanwhile, Korea Aerospace Industries (ranked 57th by Defense News) pledged to invest $880m over the next five years to expand its space business, including satellite production. The company hopes to launch a ground station and satellite imagery analysis service in a couple of years.
KAI established a partnership with the Korea Advanced Institute and Science and Technology to build a space research center, where engineers will carry out projects on satellite software, spacecraft and other mobility vehicles.
Korean Air, the country’s flag carrier, is working on a military project designed to develop an orbital launch vehicle using a Boeing 747-400 airplane.
“The development of air-launched projectiles, unaffected by weather and geographical requirements, is essential to attract the rapidly increasing demand for small satellite launches worldwide,” the company said in a statement. (Source: Defense News)
06 Sep 21. Industry anticipates adoption of ‘hybrid’ satcom into US Army’s ITN. Adoption of a so-called hybrid satellite communication (satcom) architecture by the US Army, which would allow data transmission across multi-orbital satcom networks as well as terrestrial wireless systems, could be in place with army units by 2027, a senior industry official said. The stand-up and integration of a full-fledged hybrid satcom architecture would likely coincide with the Capability Set 27 (CS27) of the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), according to Craig Miller, president of government systems at Viasat.
“In [CS27] you are going to see in the satcom piece … you will see the sort of hybrid networking” Viasat and other commercial satcom providers have been advocating for, Miller told Janes. “Not just in the roaming sense, where I am on one network and then I decide to go on to another network for [a period of] time. You will see sort of traffic flow-based routing, where users are able to be on several networks simultaneously,” he added. The notion of a hybrid satcom architecture is akin to how cellular data is transmitted during voice and video calls, as well as other means of electronic communication, according to Miller. A cellular signal can ping across any number of cellular provider networks and infrastructure, transmitting on to one network, then leapfrogging across other networks until the data reaches its destination. In terms of satcom, under a hybrid approach, a data transmission can be initiated through a network at geosynchronous (GEO) orbit, then jump onto a satcom network at medium-Earth orbit (MEO) or low-Earth orbit (LEO) – and potentially back up the orbital satcom chain – until the data transmission reaches the receiver. (Source: Jane’s)
03 Sep 21. RedFOX Labs Joins with Dr. Scott Bolton and VOID Cyber to Form the Chasing Space NFT Project. Prolific Southeast Asian venture builder RedFOX Labs today announced it would partner with VOID Cyber and Dr. Scott Bolton, astrophysicist, and American Ingenuity Award winner, to form Chasing Space. Chasing Space will combine forces to release a series of NFTs showcasing space exploration, education and wonder in a first of its kind release on Ethereum.
Dr. Bolton is an American theoretical and experimental space scientist and founder of Artistic Sciences, a company that actively promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to science by creating products that demonstrate the connection between the arts and sciences, as well as pursues innovations in the education of art, music, philosophy, mathematics, and science.
He is also an associate vice president of the Southwest Research Institute of Space Science and Engineering Division and is the principal investigator for Juno, a mission launched in 2011 to study Jupiter’s origin, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and interior structure, and an associate vice president of the Southwest Research Institute of Space Science and Engineering Division.
Dr. Bolton has been a Co-Investigator on a number of NASA missions including the Galileo mission and the NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens mission. During the early phases of the Cassini mission, Dr. Bolton co-chaired the Titan observation planning group for the Cassini-Huygens mission which formulated the scientific investigation of Saturn’s moon Titan. Dr. Bolton has been a Principal Investigator with NASA on various research programs since 1988.
He has authored over 250 scientific papers, book chapters, and consulted/appeared in numerous space science documentaries and earned the American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian. Additionally, Dr. Bolton has consulted for numerous art projects and appeared at festivals, working with academy award-winning composers Vangelis and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), and legendary rapper GZA from the Wu Tang Clan, among many others.
VOID Cyber is a brand incubator and connector, their team has over a decade of experience in the entertainment and fashion industries working with brands and creatives. The Chasing Space collaboration aims to bring NFT collections carefully curated by renowned space scientist Scott Bolton and his team.
The Chasing Space project is inspired by and celebrates humanity’s ongoing expansion across the final frontier and aims to provide a never-before-seen look into the mystery, beauty, and history of space through NFT technology.
This marks the second major release on the RFOX NFT Platform and in addition, will also include a VR enabled planetarium located exclusively in the RFOX VALT. The Planetarium will be a world-first and allow Dr. Bolton and his associates to share, educate and promote space exploration to the next generation of space travelers and to all the enthusiasts globally.
Dr. Bolton stated, “We are truly excited to work with RedFOX Labs and VOID Cyber in pioneering a bridge between NFT technology and the unparalleled excitement of space exploration. This collaboration offers a major step toward humanity’s appreciation and inspiration of our modern-day renaissance.”
Ben Fairbank, CEO and Co-Founder RedFOX Labs stated, “We are thrilled to welcome Dr Bolton, VOID Cyber and Chasing Space to the RFOX ecosystem. Dr. Bolton has always been a visionary and has pushed the boundaries of technology in the pursuit of new discoveries. It seems fitting we combine the themes of space in our metaverse the RFOX VALT, and together with Dr. Bolton and VOID Cyber we will explore new technology and worlds as we bring you this truly amazing collection of space images and sounds on NFTs.”
The Chasing Space collection will have something for everyone, and we look forward to bringing you further details shortly.
About RedFOX Labs
RedFOX Labs is a Southeast Asian venture builder that identifies and builds successful business models for the region’s emerging markets. It is focused on unlocking the true market value of the Southeast Asian digital economy for high consumer demand services such as e-commerce, e-media, e-travel, and esports/gaming and focuses on adding value to the digital economy using emerging technologies such as blockchain. As a company, its value is tradable through its native token ($RFOX). (Source: PR Newswire)
01 Sep 21. HASC Makes Plan To Force DoD Use Of Commercial Space. The HASC policy bill covers everything from commercial space situational awareness to on-orbit servicing to responsive launch.
With a move to prohibit new Space Force programs unless the service acquisition chief certifies there is no available commercial alternative, the House Armed Services Committee is taking a stance that the Defense Department must begin relying more on commercial space services
The language came as an amendment crafted by the ranking member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala, to the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) marked up today by the HASC. The amendment, included in a bloc of others that were okayed by the committee, reads:
“The Space Force may not establish a program of record unless the Service Acquisition Executive first determines that there is no commercially available capability that would meet the threshold objectives for that proposed program.”
That acquisition czar’s grounds for any decision made to launch a new program also must be submitted to the House and Senate defense committees, the language says.
Another amendment, proposed by Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., seeks to open a path for commercial on-orbit servicing on military satellites. The language cites potential vulnerabilities as the Space Force transitions from the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite constellation to the Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) satellites. Under the ESS program, the Space Force intends to deploy initial ESS satellites by end of fiscal year 2030, with initial operational capability by the end of 2032.
“The Committee directs the Secretary of the Air Force to provide a report that defines and validates technical concepts, cost, schedule, risks, policy, and benefits of on-orbit servicing of current strategic communications satellites and evaluate the merits of the concept in providing a transition path for future capabilities,” states the amendment.
Tactically Responsive Launch
The draft bill put forward by HASC Chair Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., as the basis for today’s vote demands a DoD report on using commercial firms for “tactically responsive launch” — that is, rapid turn-around launch, particularly of small payloads.
Industry officials have been complaining for years that despite a lot of small experimental programs, such as the Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2) that went to orbit in June using Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus XL space vehicle, DoD hasn’t really invested in routinely using commercial launch vendors.
The Space Force now has stood up a new office, called Space Safari, to do just that — use “mature” tech that doesn’t need development time. And in August, it announced the expansion of the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle for commercial vendors.
The report to the HASC must include a plan “to address supply chain issues and leverage commercial capabilities to support future reconstitution and urgent space requirements leveraging the tactically responsive launch program.”
Under the provision (Section 1601), Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines further are mandated to support the effort, and ensure that the urgent launch needs of the Combatant Commands are being met.
The Strategic Forces subcommittee’s markup language further slapped DoD for lacking a strategy to incorporate commercial space situational awareness/space domain awareness (SSA/SDA) capabilities, data and analysis into the Space Force’s own efforts.
Space Force is responsible for the military’s Space Surveillance Network of telescopes, radar and software analytics for detecting, tracking and characterizing space objects.
The HASC policy language says:
“The committee notes the lack of clear Department of Defense plans for incorporating commercial space situational awareness, including radio frequency (RF) sensing, into the wider commercial SSA architecture to support Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and a broad range of intelligence operations. Therefore, the committee directs the Chief of Space Operations to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services by March 1, 2022, on a comprehensive acquisition strategy that incorporates commercial RF sensing capabilities into a resilient and integrated SSA/SDA architecture to augment and inform multi-orbit, all-weather, and day/night collection capability for the Department.”
It also directs the DoD Comptroller to review, and report, on the Space Force programs, acquisitions plans and specifically the status of the Space Force Unified Data Library and its ability to ingest outside data. That review also must include “recommendations to improve the use” of commercial SSA/SDA. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
06 Sep 21. FAA grounds Virgin Galactic over investigation concerning ‘public safety.’ The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed a temporary grounding of Virgin Galactic on Thursday over an investigation of the 11 July “mishap” during flight.
First revealed in The New Yorker, eight sources knowledgeable of the program told the newspaper that earlier on in the flight, the spacecraft veered slightly off course.
“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” the regulator told CNBC.
It added it is overseeing the investigation that occurred over Spaceport America, New Mexico.
“SpaceShipTwo deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America,” it said.
On 11 July, Virgin Galactic successfully performed its fourth crewed spaceflight, which saw founder Sir Richard Branson officially complete his first mission.
This initiated the biggest space race in history, beating billionaire Jeff Bezos to space only days ahead, despite announcing the flight after the Amazon founder.
But, during the ascent, as the VSS Unity rocket was firing – about 30 kilometres above air – a warning light appeared, notifying the pilot the nose was “insufficiently vertical” according to article.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson admitted to not initially telling the FAA that the craft veered off track for a minute and 41 seconds.
But the company disputed “the misleading characterisations and conclusions in The New Yorker article” in a statement to the CNBC on Wednesday.
“At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory,” Virgin Galactic said.
The spokesperson added the FAA’s “representatives were present in our control room during the flight and in post-flight debriefs”.
Data shown through Flightradar24 also proved the VSS Unity was flying outside of its trajectory.
On Thursday, Virgin Galactic announced its next “rocket-powered” test flight of the SpaceShipTwo Unity from Spaceport America.
It was set to be the first commercial flight for the California-based company to occur between September and October carrying crew from Italian Air Force and the National Research Council.
But only hours later the FAA updated a statement claiming the company will not launch any more flights until the investigation is resolved.
Virgin Galactic said it was “working closely” with the FAA for a “timely resolution of this issue”. (Source: Space Connect)
30 Aug 21. Virgin Orbit + Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Sign A Collaboration MOU. Virgin Orbit has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a new collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), an independent, non-profit research and development organization. Under the terms of the agreement, Virgin Orbit and SwRI will explore multiple specialized mission opportunities using the LauncherOne system coupled with SwRI’s deep expertise in space mission development. Additionally, the two organizations will explore potential opportunities for joint manufacturing of SwRI’s space platforms and delivery of space services to Virgin Orbit’s customers.
Virgin Orbit is developing partnerships to offer customers turnkey bundled services. Virgin Orbit and SwRI are particularly interested in collaborating on stewardship programs that would leverage space data to inform critical decisions around weather and for environmental monitoring purposes.
As part of the agreement, Virgin Orbit will assess the possibility of manufacturing SwRI Space Vehicle platforms at the company’s manufacturing hub in Long Beach, California. Virgin Orbit and SwRI will also evaluate opportunities to jointly develop and launch missions to space, including the deployment of satellite constellations, to provide comprehensive space service offerings to customers.
This past June, Virgin Orbit completed its second successful flight to space, Tubular Bells: Part One, which delivered several payloads for the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program to a precise target orbit.
“As the Virgin Orbit team works to build on our recent successes, we’re excited to join forces with organizations like SwRI to propel forward our mission of opening space for good. We’re especially looking forward to combining our uniquely responsive air launch capabilities with SwRI’s broad spacecraft expertise to provide turnkey solutions for our most pressing environmental challenges,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. (Source: Satnews)
29 Aug 21. On-Orbit, Active Phased Array Satellite Testbed Milestone Has Been Reached By CesiumAstro In Their Collaboration With The DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit.
CesiumAstro Inc. has reached a key milestone in the firm’s collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit; CesiumAstro’s first two spacecraft have been successfully integrated as secondary payloads onto the Atlas V rocket that will deliver NASA’s Landsat 9 to orbit next month.
CesiumAstro is partnering with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to demonstrate a reduced-latency, direct downlink to tactical ground terminals as one of several planned commercial and defense experiments. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU, a US Department of Defense (DoD) organization, partners with leading commercial enterprises across t)he country to adopt and scale technologies that help solve critically important challenges.
DIU selected CesiumAstro as one of the latest additions to a cohort of companies that are creating inventive solutions in a variety of critical areas from autonomy and AI to human systems, cyber, space, and connectivity. Multiple experiments are planned on CM1 with partners across both commercial and government sectors. The communications payloads featured on CM1 are available for sale as standard and customizable products for both satellite and airborne missions.
“DIU is cultivating a rich environment for innovation and partnership,” said Shey Sabripour, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CesiumAstro. “This collaboration allows CesiumAstro to showcase the benefits of our scalable software-defined AESA technology in support of future DoD missions.”
About the company
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, CesiumAstro builds high-throughput, software-defined phased array communication payloads for airborne and in-orbit platforms. Cesium’s full-stack, multi-mission hardware and software products enable a range of commercial and defense objectives. (Source: Satnews)
30 Aug 21. Rogue Space Signs A Launch Service Agreement With Firefly Aerospace. Rogue Space Systems Corporation and Firefly Aerospace have signed a Launch Service Agreement (LSA). The agreement confirms that Rogue has secured the entire payload mass capacity aboard a Firefly Alpha rocket, scheduled for liftoff from Cape Canaveral in the fall of 2023. In addition to being the anchor customer, Rogue Space will sign, manage, integrate, and deploy multiple customer payloads on the flight with their Fred OTV (Orbital Transport Vehicle) spacecraft. The agreement enables Rogue Space to offer their customers a cost-effective transport program for both dedicated and rideshare missions that require drop-offs at varying altitudes and inclinations in LEO and beyond. This first agreement with Firefly sets the foundation for several programs Rogue plans to announce in the coming weeks and months ahead. The intention is to build additional launch capacity with Firefly and other launch providers with the goal of setting a cadence of launches targeting smallsat operators that wish to leverage the value-added capabilities of Rogue’s various Orbital Robots (Orbots™) programs. Rogue is looking to begin seeding its Orbot services constellation into LEO beginning in 2022.
“This partnership with Firefly is an exciting milestone for Rogue Space and will enable us to offer our small satellite customers, and the wider space community, reliable and cost-effective launch services, with the added support and capabilities of our Orbots,” said Jeromy Grimmett, CEO of Rogue Space. “As we drop off our customers, we will have our Orbots available for observation, and in some cases, robotic assistance, to help ensure their deployment is successful, and their satellite comes online. Rogue’s mission is to increase the reliability and mission success of our customers, and the space community at large.”
“Firefly is proud to be selected as the launch provider for the first mission of Rogue’s Fred OTV,” said Eric Salwan, acting Chief Revenue Officer at Firefly Aerospace. “This innovative OTV will accelerate the development of space economy. We look forward to many successful missions with Rogue.” (Source: Satnews)
30 Aug 21. Arabsat Selects AXESS Teleport For C-Band Connectivity Via The ARABSAT-5A Satellite. AXESS Networks (AXESS) has been selected by ARAB Satellite Communications Organization (ARABSAT) to provide connectivity and teleport services on Appendix 30B C-Band space segment on-board the ARABSAT-5A satellite at an orbital location of 30.5°E, with coverage footprint across Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
AXESS global infrastructure is recognized by the World Teleport Association (WTA) and is TIER-3 certified. Together with Arabsat, AXESS is establishing a state-of-the-art Appendix C-Band Network consisting of an antenna system equipped with latest technology.
The Arabsat-5A Earth station is directly connected to the teleport distribution matrix allowing direct access to broad range of technology platforms that cover the most common use cases scenarios that range from dedicated broadband SCPC solutions up to complex MF-TDMA and Mx-DMA HUB based network platforms. This multifaceted configuration is ideally suited for large trunk links of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and ISPs. In addition, the new service will provide the ideal solution for multi-site networks with significant connectivity and data requirements. With its technical and commercial economic feasibility, it competes against terrestrial fibre connectivity by meeting the highest SLA requirements.
C-Band services have a long success history in SATCOM, with many benefits over other commonly used frequency bands, such as continental-wide coverage zones or low susceptibility to rain fade. In the past years, bigger parts of this frequency range are being assigned for 5G services. This process requires rigorous coordination process for special C-band protection zones application which can vary from country to country. In addition to the issue with upcoming 5G deployments, standard and extended C-Bands are also exposed to interferences from increasing deployments of fixed wireless broadband systems, radars and aircraft altimeters.
In the case of Arabsat Appendix 30B frequency range assignment, most of the issues get automatically eliminated. Appendix 30B is limited to the upper spectrum frequency range of 4.5 – 4.8MHz. This range neither overlaps with 5G allocations, nor it is exposed to interferences from other wireless terrestrial systems. As a result, Appendix 30B standard successfully combines all benefits of standard and extended C-Band with reliable interference-free operations in any areas.
Khalid Balkheyour, President and CEO of Arabsat, said, “AXESS Networks has been our first choice for the service, and we are proud to further strengthen our long-trusted partnership. With their excellent infrastructure and operational experience in delivering services to the region, AXESS Networks will not only fulfill, but exceed our expectations in delivering encompassing managed connectivity networks.”
“We are proud to further extent our long standing and close collaboration with Arabsat. The service complements our existing networks over the African and Middle East region and offers attractive interference-free C-Band services for a variety of applications and all our customer verticals”, said Guido Neumann, President of AXESS EMEA and Chief Development Officer of AXESS Networks. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.