Sponsored By Viasat
20 Oct 21. Viasat Awarded DoD Contract to Perform Vulnerability Assessment Tests in New Cybersecurity Pilot Program.
- Department of Defense Program to Automate Mission and Threat-based Security Assessments
Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced it was awarded a Department of Defense (DoD) contract to provide vulnerability assessment testing and response support under a new pilot program focused on improving the cybersecurity and resilience of DoD weapon systems. Viasat will be the first external cybersecurity team to perform these assessments through the pilot, which aims to drive efficiencies to automate mission and threat-based security assessments at-scale using analytics and a proven methodology for intelligence gathering, threat modeling, vulnerability analysis and exploitation.
As part of the pilot, Viasat will analyze key components within a highly complex, interconnected DoD weapon system architecture that could be vulnerable to an attack. The analysis will also include cyber and software defined radio threat assessments to address networking, Internet of Things and radio frequency interfaces to the weapon system.
“DoD’s leadership focus on weapon system cyber resilience is essential. Recent cyberattacks against the U.S. government provide a clear reminder that we must minimize vulnerabilities through active insights and harden core networks,” said Craig Miller, president, Viasat Government Systems. “As the battlespace is modernizing quickly, and the use of commercial technologies and systems are being rapidly deployed in DoD’s infrastructure, performing robust vulnerability assessment tests is critical to identifying and addressing potential gaps in technology, as well as determining if platforms are potentially vulnerable to attack.”
Miller continued, “Viasat takes a holistic approach to cybersecurity and we’re excited to partner with the DoD to provide a comprehensive, scalable vulnerability assessment capability, leveraging the power of analytics-based automation to create efficiencies and enable rapid and continuous evaluations. This will help keep pace with commercial technology development and chart a path to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) driven threat-based cybersecurity assessments.”
Viasat was selected based on its extensive experience and award-winning expertise in DoD cybersecurity, as well as its unique view of the threat landscape across global government and commercial services and a customizable approach to information security.
For 35 years, Viasat has been a provider of cybersecurity and information assurance systems to secure U.S. Government, critical infrastructure and commercial networks. As a global satellite internet service provider, Viasat protects its networks and prevents billions of cyberattacks daily. Its history and expertise, paired with expert analysis of data across its network, provides a diverse view of the global cyber threat landscape that allows for the creation and delivery of expert-level security solutions. (Source: ASD Network)
19 Nov 21. Isar Aerospace plans to expand in northern Sweden entering a partnership with the regional space development program RIT2021. The German launch service provider Isar Aerospace has joined the RIT2021 space development program and plans to expand its operations in the Kiruna space cluster in northern Sweden over the coming years with the help of Luleå University of Technology and other RIT2021 partners. Isar Aerospace, the leading European launch service provider focusing on small and medium satellite deployment headquartered in Munich, Germany, has recently completed the build-up of a test location and established a subsidiary in Kiruna to test and develop rocket engines for launching satellites into orbit.
– To develop our rocket engines we need to perform tests on a regular basis. The well-developed infrastructure and large, unpopulated impact area around Esrange Space Centre provides us with ideal conditions for testing and potentially launching rockets. We currently have 15 employees at Esrange and are looking to raise that figure in the next few years, says Josef Fleischmann, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Isar Aerospace.
There is an increasing commercial interest in launching satellites worldwide and the space industry is expanding rapidly, both commercially and academically.
– Isar Aerospace is dedicated to developing modern and sustainable rocketry. Entering a partnership with the regional space development program RIT2021 and initiating a major research collaboration together with Luleå university of Technology helps us reach this target, says Josef Fleischmann.
Isar Aerospace and Luleå University of Technology have started work on a new rocket engine test rig at Esrange Space Centre, with capacity to simulate close-to-realistic conditions for launch vehicles. The rig will provide unique opportunities to improve the performance of rocket engines and serve as a facility for testing sustainable rocket propellants.
Isar Aerospace joins RIT2021
By joining RIT2021 Isar Aerospace becomes an integrated member of the northern Sweden space ecosystem together with major actors such as Luleå University of Technology, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the Swedish Space Corporation, as well as other space companies, startups and business supporting actors like LTU Business, the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre and Aerospace Cluster Sweden.
– We are proud and excited to have Isar Aersospace join the RIT2021 family. With them onboard we can grow and develop our space ecosystem further, contribute with more critical research results and new technology to the space industry, while also boosting growth and creating new job opportunities in the Norrbotten region in northern Sweden, says Johanna Bergström Roos, project manager for RIT2021.
World-leading space research
The new partnership supports Luleå University of Technology’s ambition of producing world-leading space research results. The University intends to use laser diagnostics to produce research data and insights vital to the development of Isar Aerospace’s rockets.
– The Space Systems Group at Luleå University of Technology is committed to supporting Isar Aerospace’s ambition and activities, both through education, involving students at MSc level via internships and projects, and research, involving scientific staff and PhD students. Our strategy is based on conducting experiments aimed at improving fuel-efficiency and reducing emissions. The deep insight needed from these rocket engine test runs will be provided with unique laser diagnostics, says Alexis Bohlin, professor at Luleå University of Technology.
RIT 2021 is a collaborative EU-funded project with the objective to create sustainable growth in the region of Norrbotten and enhancing its role as Sweden’s leading space region. The partners belong to the academic sector, the business sector and actors within the innovation support system.
18 Nov 21. German rocket manufacturer ISAR Aerospace has joined the RIT2021 space development program and plans to expand their operations in the Kiruna space cluster in northern Sweden over the coming years. They now aim to develop a “green corridor to space” with the help of Luleå University of Technology and other RIT2021 partners.
ISAR Aerospace, a rocket manufacturing company with its headquarters in Munich, Germany, have recently established a subsidiary in Kiruna to test and develop rocket engines for launching satellites into orbit around Earth.
– In order to develop rocket engines we need to perform launch trials on a regular basis. The well-developed infrastructure and large, unpopulated impact area around Esrange Space Centre provide us with ideal conditions for testing and launching rockets. We currently have 15 employees at Esrange and are looking to double or triple that figure in the next few years, says Josef Fleischmann, Chief Operating Officer at ISAR Aerospace.
There is an increasing commercial interest in launching satellites worldwide and the space industry is expanding rapidly, both commercially and academically. With an increased number of launches comes the demand that the rocket engines used need to burn as cleanly as possible and have a minimal impact on the environment.
– ISAR Aerospace is dedicated to developing modern and sustainable rocketry. To help us accomplish this we are now entering a partnership with the regional space development program RIT2021 and initiating a major research collaboration focused on creating a green corridor to space together with Luleå university of Technology, says Josef Fleischmann.
ISAR Aerospace and Luleå University of Technology have started work on a new rocket engine test rig at Esrange Space Centre, with capacity to simulate close-to-realistic conditions for launch vehicles. The rig will provide unique opportunities to improve the performance of rocket engines and serve as a facility for testing sustainable rocket fuels.
ISAR Aerospace joins RIT2021
By joining RIT2021 ISAR Aerospace becomes an integrated member of the northern Sweden space ecosystem together with major actors such as Luleå University of Technology, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the Swedish Space Corporation, as well as other space companies, startups and business supporting actors like LTU Business, the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre and Aerospace Cluster Sweden.
– We are proud and excited to have ISAR Aersospace join the RIT2021 family. With them onboard we can grow and develop our space ecosystem further, contribute with more critical research results and new technology to the space industry, while also boosting growth and creating new job opportunities in the Norrbotten region in northern Sweden, says Johanna Bergström Roos, project manager for RIT2021.
World-leading space research
The new partnership supports Luleå University of Technology’s ambition of producing world-leading space research results. The University intends to use laser diagnostics to produce research data and insights vital to the development of ISAR Aerospace’s rockets.
– The Space Systems Group at Luleå University of Technology is committed to supporting ISAR Aerospace’s ambition and activities, both through education, involving students at MSc level via internships and projects, and research, involving scientific staff and PhD students. Our strategy is based on conducting experiments aimed at improving fuel-efficiency and reducing emissions. The deep insight needed from these rocket engine test runs will be provided with unique laser diagnostics, says Alexis Bohlin, professor at Luleå University of Technology.
RIT 2021 is a collaborative EU-funded project with the objective to create sustainable growth in the region of Norrbotten and enhancing its role as Sweden’s leading space region. The partners belong to the academic sector, the business sector and actors within the innovation support system.
18 Nov 21. ICEYE and U.S. Army to Pursue Collaborative Research and Development. ICEYE, the global leader in persistent monitoring with radar satellite imaging, announced today that it has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Technical Center (SMDTC) to advance state-of-the-art Earth observation technology in support of U.S. Army missions. This joint R&D effort will explore low-cost, on-orbit, synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) related concepts. The areas of interest include exploration of cost-effective SAR systems including imagery tasking and uplink, SAR satellite downlink and ground station(s), image processing, and image dissemination as these abilities relate to U.S. Army and other DoD requirements more broadly. Emphasis will be placed on significant data latency reduction between the sensor and the shooter, as well as interfacing with the U.S. Army’s current Common Ground Terminal (CGT) and the future Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN), a mobile ground station system that’s currently under development.
“The U.S Army is looking for affordable and versatile SAR and other advanced sensor technology to enhance its many systems and missions. High-quality, frequent-revisit commercial SAR is particularly important to us because it enables day-night, all-weather imaging and complements national satellite systems,” said Colonel Matt Anderson, SMDC’s Space Directorate leader.
“It’s our privilege to be the U.S. Army’s mission partner in this cooperative R&D effort,” said Eric Jensen, President of ICEYE U.S. “We look forward to working closely with SMDTC as we bring ICEYE’s first-of-its-kind capability to a variety of U.S. Army experiments and demonstrations.”
Noted Jerry Welsh, CEO of ICEYE U.S., “We are proud to be manufacturing, launching, and operating our satellites in the United States, where we are delivering on our commitments and earning the trust of defense, civil, intelligence, and commercial customers.”
At any given time, most of the Earth is covered in clouds or darkness. Unlike traditional Earth observation satellites, ICEYE’s small radar imaging satellites can form high-resolution images of areas of the Earth in daylight, at night, and through cloud cover. In other words, they can “see” any part of the Earth multiple times a day. ICEYE’s satellites can collect images over very wide areas as well as spot collects over specific sites anywhere in the world. ICEYE has successfully launched 14 spacecraft to date and operates the world’s largest fleet of commercial (Source: PR Newswire)
16 Nov 21. CERES reconnaissance space system designed by Airbus and Thales successfully launched. Building on ESSAIM and ELISA signal intelligence demonstrators. The CERES space system (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatiale or Space-based Signal Intelligence Capability) satellites designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales for the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) have been successfully launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana, on-board a Vega launcher.
“We are ready to go with the next generation of space surveillance capability for France: CERES! Entrusting Airbus with the construction and full space system responsibility is a ringing endorsement of our expertise and the quality of our technology, acquired in particular from the ESSAIM and ELISA demonstrators,” said Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. “The three CERES satellites will provide France with its first satellite system for signal intelligence, thus confirming our ability to act as prime contractor for French space-based intelligence systems,” he continued.
CERES is designed to detect and geo-locate electromagnetic signals from radio communication systems and radars from areas where surface sensors cannot reach. From its low Earth orbit, CERES is free from airspace overflight constraints and can operate in all types of weather. The system will provide in-depth information to support military operations for the French Armed Forces, thus improving situational awareness.
“CERES will complete the French strategic and tactical defence intelligence capability with its first signal intelligence (SIGINT) satellite system. DGA trusts Thales to be in charge of the CERES end-to-end mission performance, for which we rely on our experience of more than 20 years in space-based SIGINT, especially with ESSAIM and ELISA, our unique know-how in satellite payloads and user ground segments, and our wide knowledge in SIGINT and electronic warfare in all environments”, said Philippe Duhamel, Executive Vice-President, Defence Mission Systems at Thales.
The system includes the space segment consisting of a swarm of three identical satellites carrying the SIGINT payload, as well as the user and ground control segments.
Airbus Defence and Space and Thales are co-contractors for the full end-to-end system. Airbus is responsible for the global system integration and the space segment comprising the three satellites, while Thales is responsible for full mission chain and system performance, going from on-board payload to user ground segment. In addition, Thales Alenia Space acted as a subcontractor to Airbus in supplying the satellites’ platforms. The French space agency, CNES, as assisting partner to the DGA, procured the launch services and the ground control segment.
CERES draws on Airbus and Thales’ experience acquired from the ESSAIM (communications intelligence) and ELISA (electronic intelligence) micro-satellite demonstrators launched in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The technical and operational lessons learnt from these systems were key to enabling the very high performance in electromagnetic detection and compatibility, demanded by this mission.
17 Nov 21. Black Sky Aerospace tests rocket, missile motor. The solid rocket fuel manufacturer has conducted private tests from its launch site in Queensland as part of its development of key sovereign capabilities for both civil and defence applications. Brisbane-based Black Sky Aerospace has fired a rocket from its private test and launch site near Goondiwindi in southern Queensland, aimed at providing the company with key test and evaluation (T&E) data to support its development of sovereign space-launch capability.
According to the company, the Sighter 150 rocket flew to an altitude of almost 30,000 feet in less than 30 seconds, carrying a software payload for Australian cyber security company BITSCore.
This was the third in a series of T&E rocket launches testing Black Sky’s in-house avionics and telemetry systems.
“This helps prove out and refine our ability to track the rockets through flight and allows us to check performance of our hardware and software systems,” Black Sky CEO Blake Nikolic said.
The company also tested a missile motor as part of its push to support the Commonwealth government’s sovereign weapons program.
The static fire test reportedly exhausted 24 kilograms of rocket fuel in about nine seconds.
“This allows us to prove out the propellant and the energetics – what makes the missiles fly through the air,” Nikolic added.
“We are also looking at the performance characteristics of the unique composite manufacturing hardware we use for the rocket motor hardware.”
Earlier this year, Black Sky Aerospace joined the Australian Missile Corporation (AMC) — a co-operative led by munitions company NIOA, which is bidding to spearheaded Australia’s sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEO Enterprise).
The GWEO Enterprise, valued at up to $100 bn over the next 20 years, aims to produce a suite of advanced missiles for the ADF and allied nations.
A number of other firms have joined the AMC consortium, including Quickstep, Moog Australia and Thomas Global Systems.
AMC will be competing against the Sovereign Missile Alliance — a joint bid between Nova Group and EOS Systems — and Lockheed Martin Australia’s collaboration with Thales Australia.(Source: Google/Space Connect)
16 Nov 21. Lúnasa Ltd. and Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) have jointly signed a memorandum of understanding. The two companies are thus consolidating their partnership in the field of space logistics to offer small satellite customers flexible and cost-effective launch services. They mutually benefit from each other’s experience, methods and networks. The common goal of both companies is to provide small satellite operators with flexible and cost-effective access to space. The MoU reflects a mutual desire to work closely together to facilitate the launch of small satellites into their final operational orbit. The RFA ONE launch vehicle, developed by RFA, will be used to deliver the reusable orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) “VIA” to near-earth orbit as well as provide resupply flights. The agreement was finalized back in early October, now to be announced at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany.
“From the beginning, we designed our RFA ONE to be compatible with other transfer vehicles. Lúnasa’s reusable “VIA” are optimal complements to our own launch vehicle technology and allow us to offer our launch services in an even more diversified and tailored way,” says Dr. Stefan Tweraser, Chief Executive Officer of RFA.
Jörn Spurmann, Chief Commercial Officer of RFA, adds, “The compatibility of our rocket with a wide range of OTV’s is a key element of our business case and goes hand in hand with our vision of making space accessible to everyone – easily, quickly and with low cost.”
“Lúnasa and RFA’s objectives are well aligned in the desire to enable SMEs, universities and other entities to innovate and provide services and technologies otherwise dominated by larger companies due to prohibitive cost of access to space. We believe this will remove some of the barriers to entry and stimulate the space market with even more competitive and cutting edge products whilst creating more jobs,” says Amin Chabi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lúnasa.
About Rocket Factory
Rocket Factory Augsburg was founded in 2018 with the mission to significantly reduce launch costs in the space industry. The company’s goal is to develop a launch vehicle prototype by the end of 2022 which can launch satellites into low Earth orbits on a weekly basis at unmatched prices. The RFA ONE launch vehicle combines three key competitive advantages: a highly cost-efficient architecture using industrial automation and lowest-possible development costs, precise in-orbit delivery, and superior propulsion systems using staged-combustion.
Lúnasa Space is a Space-Tech start-up based in London and founded in early 2021 by Amin Chabi, CEO. The company brings together a team of highly skilled space engineers to realize the company’s vision: With its reusable OTV, Lúnasa Space aims to accelerate the world’s transition to affordable, reliable and sustainable access to space. The platform “VIA” uses modern space technology to be transformed into a reusable vehicle where it can deploy several rideshare missions over its lifetime and make access to space very affordable and frequent for the small satellite industry.
15 Nov 21. Russia tests anti-satellite weapon, astronauts take cover. Russia destroyed one of its own satellites in an anti-satellite weapon test Nov. 15, according to the U.S. State Department, creating orbital debris that led astronauts on the International Space Station to take cover on several occasions.
“Earlier today the Russian Federation recklessly conducted aa destructive satellite test of a direct ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites. The test has so far generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a Nov. 15 press briefing.
Astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the ISS were forced to take cover approximately every hour and a half as the station’s orbit intersected with that of the debris.
“Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of outer space and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical,” said Price, adding that the State Department has repeatedly raised concerns over anti-satellite testing with Russia.
The anti-satellite, or ASAT, collision appears to have occurred in an orbit around 500 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, according to satellite trackers, and about 80 kilometers above the International Space Station’s orbit. However, an impact could have pushed debris into new trajectories that could threaten the ISS.
LeoLabs, a space debris-tracking company, identified the satellite in question as Cosmos 1408, noting that the debris was in the location it would expect the Russian satellite to be otherwise.
“We share the concern that our State Department colleagues stressed earlier today about this test,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby in a press briefing. “The most immediate concern is the debris itself, which is now floating out there and could become a hazard, including to the International Space Station. So there’s concerns about the debris itself. And obviously, you know, writ large we watch closely the kinds of capabilities that Russia has seems to want to develop, which could pose a threat not just to our national security interest, but the security of other space-faring nations. And again, we’ve been very clear: We would like to see norms for space so that it can be used responsibly by all space-faring nations.”
Kirby also told reporters that the Department of Defense did not receive an advance notice from Russia prior to the test.
This isn’t the first time that an alleged direct-ascent anti-satellite test resulted in dangerous debris. China tested an ASAT missile on one if its weather satellites in 2007, an event that resulted in thousands of pieces of debris. Nearly a decade later, debris-tracker CelesTrack put the number of pieces at almost 3,500, with only 571 pieces decaying. According to NASA, debris in low Earth orbit can travel at approximately 15,700 mph, so even the smaller pieces of debris are a concern.
More recently in 2019, India conducted an unexpected ASAT test, using a missile to destroy one of its own satellites in low Earth orbit. That test also created debris, although the government claimed that any debris would decay and fall out of orbit within weeks due to the low altitude of the test.
Unintended collisions in orbit can also result in debris. The last major collision of that type occurred in 2009, when an Iridium commercial communications satellite and a decommissioned Russian satellite collided in low Earth orbit, creating more than 2,000 pieces of trackable debris, according to the Secure World Foundation. That number doesn’t include smaller debris that is difficult or impossible to track, even though very small objects travelling at high speeds can still be dangerous to other spacecraft.
Russia has conducted multiple ASAT tests in recent years, according to U.S. Space Command, although those tests stopped short of hitting satellites on orbit. Other Russian space activities, such as operating in close proximity to American satellites on orbit and having one satellite eject a small object at high speeds on orbit, have also drawn condemnation from U.S. space officials.
Price said the U.S. would not tolerate such “reckless” activity from Russia, although he wouldn’t outline what measures the U.S. would take in response beyond collaborating with partners and allies. (Source: Defense News)
05 Nov 21. MBDA showcases low-cost anti-jam GNSS antenna. Engineers from MBDA Missile Systems, working in conjunction with Swansea University research staff, have developed an innovative, compact, low-cost global navigation satellite system (GNSS) anti-jam antenna specifically suited to smaller calibre-guided weapons. Prototyped and tested as part of the French/UK Materials and Components for Missiles Innovation Technology Partnership (MCM ITP) programme, the Novel Null Steering Antenna 2 (NNSA2) project has matured the antenna and associated electronics to a point where it is available for transition to a product. The design – featuring a 150 mm-diameter Slot Based Microstrip Patch Antenna and embedding a ‘scan, monitor, and lock’ algorithm that intelligently steers the null in the direction of arrival of interference – offers a capability in applications where traditional anti-jam devices would be unsuitable owing to their size, mass, and cost. GNSS signals are recognised as a crucial navigation technology for medium- and long-range precision attack missiles, providing a means to correct the drift inherent to inertial measurement units. With the proliferation of low-cost GNSS jammers able to disrupt or deny GNSS, requirements are growing for anti-jam antennas able to null out the effect of the jammer by adjusting the antenna’s gain profile. However, previous anti-jam antenna devices – based on Controlled Reception Pattern Antennas (CRPAs) and their associated antenna control unit electronics – are typically large and heavy, consume a large amount of power, and carry a high unit cost, GBP10,000+ (USD13,400+) . They may also fall under the purview of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export controls, thereby limiting scope for international sales.
12 Nov 21. The US Army is looking for industry to help shape its future SATCOM needs. The US Army is working with industry to help shape how it will use and buy satellite communications for forces to talk beyond line of sight. The distributed nature of operations forces will likely be engaged in in the future requires flexible, resilient and robust communications where units will be disaggregated and need to talk over greater distances.
As the Army is looking at different satellite constellations to enable this, it is also trying to figure out what the best use and business cases are for owning or renting communications under a managed service model that could possibly replace the design of its logistics network called the sustainment tactical network.
The concept involves two areas, Col. Shane Taylor, project manager for tactical network at Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), told C4ISRNET in a Nov 2 interview. First, what would an architecture look like and how is the architecture — to include a mix of air time, network operations center management, terminals and how much of each — constructed.
Second is the business case and how the Army will price out its needs to industry providers. The Army released a request for information to industry last year to prod industry to help it better understand what types of services certain providers could offer and for how much.
“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Taylor said. “The team put together an RFI. We’ve gotten really good feedback, but there’s been definitely differences between the approaches and varying levels of partnering within industry, which is what we were hopeful to see.”
The Army asked industry up front to say what it can provide under what price point with no direct requirement, which was somewhat atypical from the prescriptive model used previously.
“I think part of what we’re learning today is how to compare apples to apples. A vendor will come in and say we can provide modem to modem for this cost. Quite frankly, I’m struggling today to be able to show that comparison to how we currently do it because that’s not how we currently are resourced,” Taylor said. “Vendors have been very good about coming up with different ways of do you pay by the megabyte, do you pay by duration. They are being very flexible in their different options. Where we’re working with them right now is making sure we can compare apples to apples based off how we currently are resourced.”
The 20 responses the Army received from industry ranged widely, from traditional defense companies to commercial providers with little experience with the military. Services varied by provider, with some companies offering top-to-bottom SATCOM integration that covered everything and others offering specific solutions that addressed just a portion of that chain.
“We’ve seen a very good variety of approaches, again, from some defense versus more commercial solutions,” Taylor said, adding the sheer volume and diversity of companies and offerings were a bit overwhelming and challenging at first.
The Army is also changing the way it does business in other ways. Instead of the Army formulating a use case and validating it through industry proposals, the service is asking industry to help develop use cases for how it could use SATCOM. Taylor noted that there have been some implementations industry has brought forth that the Army wasn’t expecting or anticipating.
The key is to also have flexibility and not get into a vendor lock situation, where the Army is stuck with one company instead of being able to leverage all of industry to improve its SATCOM capabilities.
“When you look at the multi-constellation, multi-path strategy, getting into vendor lock would definitely create some challenges from a flexibility standpoint going forward,” Taylor said.
The Army is still conducting meetings and demonstrations with companies. It expects to finish those demonstrations this year, then entering into the next phase in the following year. This could include a request for papers or another industry event based upon what the Army learned from its meetings with companies.
“It will take us a little while to digest all the information that we’re collecting during the current demos,” Taylor said, while Cook added that they’ll go back to industry regarding what the Army is thinking for future efforts. (Source: Defense News)
12 Nov 21. Like a Tow-hook for Satellites: Astroscale Launches Docking Plate to Capture Defunct Satellites. With tens of thousands of satellites set to launch in next ten years, Astroscale calls on operators to safeguard their valuable assets and help protect the space environment before launching into orbit. Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today revealed a universal docking device the company hopes will become standard fitment on all future low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Following on from the COP26 climate conference, Paris Peace Forum Net Zero Space Declaration, and the G7 statement on space sustainability, Astroscale calls on operators to prepare their spacecraft with a Docking Plate to prepare for future removal and to help safeguard the space environment. There are an unprecedented number of satellites due to launch over the next decade, the majority into LEO, (250km to 2000km above Earth). The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has approved 16,447 satellites within constellations to date and has applications pending for an additional 64,816 satellites. The potential for high-velocity, high impact collisions is likely to increase unless disposal of satellites becomes part of everyday space operations.
“Over the last 6 decades more than 12,000 satellites have been launched, and this number could more than quadruple in a single decade,” said Nobu Okada, Founder & CEO of Astroscale. “This phenomenal growth shows how important space has become — to our economies, our way of life and to our fight against the climate change crisis. We urge the space community to demonstrate real commitment to protect the space environment by preparing satellites with a Docking Plate for future removal.”
Astroscale’s Docking Plate can be compared to a car ‘tow hook’ — a standardized interface that enables future servicing. Docking plates are designed to be discrete during satellite operations but robust and reliable if required. They’re customisable for different satellite designs and will enable both robotic or magnetic capture mechanisms to securely attach a servicer to a satellite. The End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d), currently undergoing testing in LEO, is the first spacecraft servicer of its kind to demonstrate the technology and commercial viability of removing defunct satellites. The ELSA-d mission uses the first prototype of the new docking mechanism, preparing the way for this first commercially available Astroscale Docking Plate for all satellite operators in LEO.
COP26 focused attention on the importance of proper environmental stewardship and highlighted our day-to-day reliance on satellites, both for communications and for monitoring the health of the planet. Future-proofing space missions with Astroscale’s universal docking technology will not only keep orbital highways clear and safe by enabling future debris removal, it will also support the development of a dynamic in-orbit ecosystem, powered by the emerging in-orbit services and manufacturing market, which is conservatively estimated to be worth $4bn globally by 2030.
“The Astroscale Docking Plate is designed to be lightweight and easy to fit onto low Earth orbit satellites,” said John Auburn, Managing Director of Astroscale Ltd. “As a low-cost solution it enables satellites to be captured and removed from space, keeping our orbital highways clear. We all value satellite communications supporting our global connectivity and economy, and monitoring our environment on Earth. By preparing our spacecraft today we will ensure space is sustainable tomorrow, for future generations.”
Astroscale’s Docking Plate is being launched this week, 16-18 November, at the Space Tech Expo Europe Conference, Bremen, Germany. The Astroscale team will also present the new Docking Plate in the U.S.A. at a conference in the spring.
Key features include:
- Discrete: designed to be lightweight, compact and minimally intrusive.
- Low-cost: a price that can be integrated into your satellite development costs.
- Reliable: components are mechanically secured to be failsafe with no structural adhesive degradation issues.
- Robust: undergone qualification testing for the space environment.
- Durable: designed for an in-space lifetime of over 15 years.
- Fiducial markers and retroreflectors: act as docking aids to guide navigation.
- Knurled reinforced rim: enables robotic grappling technology. The plate is compatible with a variety of capture mechanisms including magnetic and robotic.
- Simple 3 bolt solution: makes it easy to install and can be assembled from the outside.
- Truss legs with 3 size options: customisable to suit any satellite design.
- Flush mount option: can be integrated into an existing structure.
06 Nov 21. China Launches Guangmu Satellite. China On Friday, November 5, China propelled an Earth science satellite into space from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the northern Shanxi Province. The satellite, named Guangmu, was launched via a Long March-6 carrier rocket at 10:19 a.m. (0219 GMT) and successfully entered its planned SSO orbit. This was the 395th flight mission of the Long March rocket series, the launch center said. Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the satellite (SDGSAT-1) is the world’s first space science satellite dedicated to serving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The satellite, with three optical payloads, can provide space observation data for monitoring, evaluating and studying the interaction between human and nature and sustainable development, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. (Source: Satnews)
11 Nov 21. Rocket Lab Sets A New Launch Date For Their Electron Launch Of Two BlackSky Smallsats. According to Rocket Lab, a ground sensor reading is the cause for the firm’s delay of their “Love At First Insight” launch of the BlackSky EO smallsats. This halt in the proceedings occurred 90 minutes prior to liftoff. A new launch date of November 16 has been set by the company. Rocket Lab is targeting no earlier than 4:25 a.m., Thursday, November 11, UTC, for the launch of ‘Love At First Insight’, a dedicated launch for geospatial intelligence company BlackSky — this will be Rocket Lab’s fifth launch of 2021. The launch will occur from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 Pad A on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.
A two-hour, ten-minute window, has been allocated for launch. This window shifts slightly earlier each day of the launch window. Below are the launch window opening times…
Launch Window Time Zone Conversion:
- UTC: 04:25 (11 November)
- NZT: 17:25 (11 November)
- ET: 23:25 (10 November)
- PT: 20:25 (10 November)
If there is a need to stand down from launch for any reason, the company has back-up launch days available through November 24.
About The Mission
The ‘Love At First Insight’ mission will be Rocket Lab’s 22nd Electron launch overall and fifth mission of 2021.
Rocket Lab will launch two Earth imaging satellites for BlackSky. The firm combines satellite images with their own software to predict trends and deliver insights to industries including transportation, infrastructure, land use, defense, supply chain management, and humanitarian aid.
While this mission’s primary objective is to deploy the BlackSky satellites, Rocket Lab will also attempt to recover Electron after launch in efforts to make Electron the world’s first, reusable, small rocket. The company will attempt a controlled, ocean splashdown and recovery of Electron’s first stage for the third time (following previously successful ocean recoveries on our 16th and 20th missions).
However with this mission, for the first time, Rocket Lab will station a helicopter in the recovery zone approximately 200 nautical miles offshore to track and visually observe the first stage as it returns to Earth in preparation for future attempts to capture it mid-air with a helicopter. The helicopter will not attempt a mid-air capture for this mission but will test communications and tracking to refine the concept of operations (CONOPS) for future Electron aerial captures. (Source: Satnews)
09 Nov 21. United Launch Alliance Launch Of USSF SSC’s STP-3 Mission Postponed To December 4. A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket had expected to launch the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) Space Systems Command (SSC) on November 9, 2021. That launch is now postponed due to a space vehicle processing issue. The new scheduled launch date is December 4, 2021. STP-3 is a co-manifested mission that matures technology and reduces future space program risk for the Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Space Force by advancing warfighting capabilities in the areas of nuclear detonation detection, space domain awareness (SDA), weather, and communication. Both spacecraft will be delivered to geosynchronous orbit. Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
Artistic rendition of the STP-6 satellite. Image is courtesy of manufacturer, Northrop Grumman.
The primary spacecraft is STP Satellite (STPSat)-6 and the rideshare spacecraft is the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) (LDPE) – 1. STPSat-6 is a multipurpose spacecraft carrying nine payloads and experiments. Both spacecraft were built by Northrop Grumman. The instrument suite includes the Space Atmospheric Burst Recording System-3 (SABRS-3), an operational mission from the National Nuclear Security Administration, NASA’s Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload to test technologies for the next generation of data relay satellites, and seven Defense Department Space Experiments Review Board space weather and situational awareness payloads. (Source: Satnews)
11 Nov 21. Demo’ing SAR OISL Capability With The SDA’s National Defense Space Architecture. Is Capella Space. Capella Space has announced that the company will become the first commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) supplier to demonstrate Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL) compatibility with the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA)’s new National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA). SAR data is a highly valuable asset for the SDA and the U.S. Department of Defense. The next generation of Capella’s persistent SAR monitoring capabilities will leverage new technology that enables high delivery speeds and direct access to its 24/7 all-weather data for U.S. Government customers.
Capella Space will install optical communications terminals (OCTs) on its commercial SAR satellites, starting in late 2022. This will enable the company to use highly efficient laser communications technology to send and receive data to and from its satellites in LEO, relaying data to compatibly equipped government satellites and military operations on the ground. The integration of OCTs onto Capella’s SAR constellation will drastically reduce latency from image collect to download and ensure spaceborne data is quickly available to inform critical decision-making for terrestrial missions.
Capella Space selected Mynaric’s CONDOR Mk3 Optical Communications Terminal. The company selected Mynaric’s technology following a thorough vetting process. Mynaric has previously demonstrated compatibility with the SDA systems and standards.
Capella Space has partnered with a number of U.S. Department of Defense agencies, including the National Reconnaissance Office, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and the U.S. Space Force. This announcement follows a new Collaborative Research Agreement with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Technical Defense Center as well as the hiring of Amy Hopkins as Capella’s new vice president and general manager of U.S. Government.
Since officially launching commercial operations in January 2021, Capella’s new innovations and the growth of its federal team positions it to serve U.S. Government customers with fast, direct access to reliable SAR data in order to solve challenges from tactical users to global policy making.
In 2016, Capella Space was founded to enable a richer understanding of our planet in entirely new and powerful ways. The company saw an opportunity to use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to monitor the Earth, including the 75% that is either covered in the darkness of night or obscured by clouds.
“Our team at Capella Space is thrilled to become the first commercial SAR company to demonstrate compatibility with the SDA’s National Defense Space Architecture and standards,” said Christian Lenz, CTO at Capella Space. “Enabling our satellites to integrate with the new SDA architecture efficiently is a critical step for us to work seamlessly with the U.S. defense and intelligence sector. We are proud to be able to work with the SDA in demonstrating this cutting-edge technology.”
“We are honored to be selected as the optical communications terminal vendor for Capella Space’s integration work with the SDA. The announcement today highlights the importance of standardization and compatibility within the industry,” said Bulent Altan, CEO of Mynaric, “Our recently announced CONDOR Mk3 is fully compliant to the SDA’s interoperability standard and a natural match for Capella’s innovative approach integrating commercial capabilities with governmental customers.” (Source: Satnews)
08 Nov 21. LEOCloud’s Space Edge Cloud Services To Be Offered On Orbital Assembly Space Stations. LEOcloud and Orbital Assembly have established a partnership wherein LEOcloud will enable public cloud edge computing services hosted on Orbital Assembly’s Gravity Ring and Pioneer Stations — this will enable researchers and commercial entities on board Orbital Assembly’s facilities to run their services or application workloads locally in a hybrid cloud environment, such as Red Hat OpenShift, while seamlessly collaborating with colleagues on Earth.
This capability will greatly accelerate research where AI and analytics applications can be developed and tested on Earth and then seamlessly deployed to the Space Edge cloud with high confidence in their performance and behavior. This greatly enhances LEO and terrestrial research collaboration, while reducing the friction from application development to production.
LEOcloud’s vision for Space Edge cloud infrastructure and services is extensible from LEO to the Moon and beyond. Edge computing brings the workload compute resources as close as possible to the sources and users of data with the competitive and mission-critical advantages of latency, security, availability and sovereignty.
Orbital Assembly is designing, constructing, and operating large-scale, habitable structures with gravity on-orbit, in cislunar space, and throughout the solar system, and will offer hosted payloads on its Gravity Ring (uncrewed) and Pioneer Station (crewed) spacecraft.
“Orbital Assembly’s Gravity Ring will be a transformational research and development environment for innovation,” said Dennis R. Gatens, CEO and president of LEOcloud. “As humans expand their presence in LEO and establish a presence beyond LEO, the importance of edge computing grows exponentially. Space Edge services hosted on Orbital Assembly’s facilities is a natural extension of LEOcloud’s strategy where cloud edge computing must follow humans and machines to achieve mission success in LEO and beyond.”
“As we execute on our plan to construct habitable structures in space, hosting capabilties such as such as edge computing could provide significant revenue opportunities for OAC as well as an initial footprint for seamless hybrid cloud capabilities in space,” said Rhonda Stevenson, chief executive officer of Orbital Assembly Corp. “Supporting world-class cloud service providers, with an operating environment including Red Hat OpenShift, represents significant commercial validation for the Gravity Ring.”
Orbital Assembly Corporation is the world’s first large scale space construction company and a leader in industrial space development enabling humanity to work, play and thrive in the space ecosystem. The company is developing large gravity equipped platforms on orbit, between the Earth and the moon beginning in 2023. LEOcloud believes the intersection of cloud and space will bring great benefit to commercial and government organizations. Our vision is to offer cloud services at the evolving space edge in order for our customers to realize the lowest latency, highest availability and strongest sovereignty and security for their business or mission critical workloads and services. LEOcloud has offices in the United States and Italy. (Source: Satnews)
07 Nov 21. Ursa Space Joins Amazon Web Services Partner Network. Ursa Space Systems has joined the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN), a global community of businesses using AWS solutions and services. AWS provides Partners with extensive business, technical and marketing support and offers assistance on sales opportunities, leveraging a deep bench of current users. More than 90% of Fortune 100 companies are Partner customers. This announcement builds on an existing relationship. Ursa Space works with AWS to reduce the time from customer request to delivery of results, as well as to improve customer access to its offerings.
In the summer of 2021, Ursa Space participated in the AWS Space Accelerator, a four-week program for space pioneers seeking to use AWS to help solve the biggest challenges in the space industry. Ursa Space also lists several of its products in the AWS Marketplace.
Ursa Space is a U.S.-based satellite intelligence company that provides business and government decision-makers access to on-demand analytic solutions. Through our radar satellite network and data fusion expertise, Ursa Space detects real-time changes in the physical world to expand transparency. Our subscription and custom services enable you to access satellite imagery and analytic results with no geographic, political or weather-related limitations.
“Joining the AWS Partner Network helps advance Ursa’s overarching mission, which is making it easier for people to access the insights that come from satellite imagery,” said Adam Maher, CEO and founder of Ursa Space. “We detect changes on Earth using satellite imagery, and turn the results into APIs that can now be made available to the large number of cloud users in the AWS Partner Network.” (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power ms 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.