Sponsored By Viasat
20 Dec 21. Viasat Expands Partnership with U.S. Navy to Provide Managed Network Services at Bases in Guam and Poland. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced two new contracts with the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) to deliver triple-play services (Wi-Fi, voice and TV) in Guam, and managed Wi-Fi in Poland. These contracts expand Viasat’s work with NEXCOM in providing high-quality personal-use telecommunications to Sailors at bases around the world in Unaccompanied Housing (UH), Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities and Navy lodging facilities.
These new contracts demonstrate Viasat’s continued relationship with NEXCOM, expanding its support for Sailors and their families with delivery of reliable connectivity beyond the battlespace at installations outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS).
Under the first agreement, Viasat will deploy a new fiber network backbone to support Naval Station Guam and Andersen Air Force Base, as well as upgrade the buildings at these facilities with new Wi-Fi and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) equipment. This work will also require replacing the legacy copper-based networks connecting to all the buildings. Together, this modernization will enable a better experience for Navy and Air Force service members and their families, improving the speed and resiliency of their internet, Wi-Fi, voice and TV services.
In a separate contract, Viasat will support the Navy at its new Naval Support Facility (NSF) Redzikowo in Poland by providing reliable, resilient connectivity. Specifically, the facility received a new Wi-Fi network and management support system, which are similar to the Wi-Fi services that Viasat already provides to more than 100 Navy installations around the world.
“We’re proud of our ongoing partnership with NEXCOM to provide Sailors and their families with a consistent connection to secure internet, voice and TV services. Our growth to support facilities in areas like Guam and Poland further demonstrates our global commitment to support the military both on and off the battlefield,” said Craig Miller, president, Viasat Government Systems. “Whether it’s standing up fiber-based networks, managed Wi-Fi and other services, or delivering advanced satellite-based connectivity through our upcoming ViaSat-3 global satellite constellation, we are excited to continue supporting service members to ensure they are afforded the same quality connectivity experience at military bases around the world as we get at home.”
Earlier this year, Viasat and NEXCOM’s Telecommunications Program Office announced a five-year contract extension, under which Viasat will provide managed internet, Wi-Fi, voice and other services to support personal use networks at Navy facilities around the world. As part of this ongoing work, Viasat will make TV services available to Navy Gateway Inns & Suites® (NGIS) facilities in the U.S. by upgrading to satellite-based high-definition TV, providing interactive menus and streaming capabilities to improve the experience for Sailors and their families. Viasat deployed similar TV service upgrades at Navy Lodge® locations earlier this year.
21 Dec 21. Virgin Orbit, the US-based responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), announced today the signing of a termsheet establishing a close and multi-faceted partnership with Horizon Technologies (“Horizon”), the UK-based global leader in innovative space-based Maritime Domain Awareness (“MDA”) through signals intelligence. According to the agreement, Virgin Orbit will become Horizon’s preferred launch partner, will take an equity stake in the company, and will appoint a Virgin Orbit representative to Horizon’s board of directors. Horizon currently plans to take advantage of LauncherOne’s unique ability to reach tailored orbits for at least five launches.
Already an established world leader in airborne systems through its FlyingFish™ and BlackFish™ product lines, which are in operation on numerous aircrafts worldwide for customers including NATO and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (“FRONTEX”), Horizon is enhancing its capabilities through the expansion of its Space-Based Marine Intelligence services. That work has begun with the impending launch of the first of their AMBER™ commercial SIGINT CubeSats to provide customers with an enhanced Maritime Intelligence Data Service. Applications for the Amber™ system will include monitoring for detection of Dark Target detection / Detection of illegal activity, Piracy, Smuggling, Illegal Fishing,Transshipments and Terrorism. Horizon will continue to build out the AMBER™ constellation and its related services by conducting further launches onboard Virgin Orbit’s mobile LauncherOne system.
“With this agreement with Horizon we continue to turn vision into reality for our customers looking to better build out their businesses and serve life here on Earth,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “With systems already known to help combat everything from illegal fishing to smuggling and trafficking, we are excited to partner with Horizon Technologies as we further our mission of opening space for good.”
“We are thrilled to have to have Virgin Orbit join us as an investor and partner. Our plan to be the world’s leading provider of maritime intelligence provides synergy with Virgin Orbit’s broader space solutions strategy,” said Horizon CEO John Beckner. “As a UK SME, with strong support from the UK Government and, in particular, the Royal Navy as our lead customer, this agreement aligns perfectly with both companies’ goals for the future, and for the benefit for the planet.”
Virgin Orbit has recently announced a series of strategic investments in the growth of its Space Solutions business, including with satellite imaging providers HyperSat as well as SatRevolution, which will also fly as a repeat customer on the company’s next mission Above the Clouds. Virgin Orbit has previously announced that it plans to complete its next scheduled launch in January 2022.
21 Dec 21. Honeywell, SES and Hughes demonstrate Multinetwork Airborne Connectivity. Honeywell, SES and Hughes have successfully demonstrated multinetwork, multiorbit high-speed airborne connectivity for military customers, a technological breakthrough that will enable government and military personnel to communicate between the ground and air more efficiently and securely than ever. Honeywell’s JetWave MCX broadband satellite communication (SATCOM) solution, using an HM-series modem from Hughes Network Systems LLC (Hughes), was paired with SES’ medium earth orbit (MEO) high-throughput, low-latency network, and multiple SES geostationary satellites, including the government-dedicated GovSat-1 satellite.
Airborne demonstrations showed that Honeywell’s JetWave MCX terminal is compatible with various Ka-band network capabilities and can provide military customers with network resilience that supports primary alternate contingency and emergency (PACE) communication requirements.
Additionally, SES’ MEO constellation provided both lower latency and fiber-like connectivity during the demo flights, with full duplex data rates of more than 40 megabits per second. This is noteworthy due to government customers’ demand for robust uplink, as evidenced by multiple simultaneous HD video feeds.
To achieve additional levels of security, the companies leveraged the military Ka-band government frequencies delivered via the SES GovSat-1 satellite and the software-defined Hughes HM-series modem. These capabilities ensure that today’s warfighters have the data they need, when and wherever they need it, including in contested and high-activity environments.
“Honeywell and SES are ensuring that military operators and their warfighters stay connected anytime around the globe,” said Steven Williams, vice president, Defense Americas, Honeywell Aerospace. “The ability to give network choices to operators using our agnostic terminal means the customer can choose the best network for the mission and geographic region.”
“The SES and Honeywell capabilities showcased during the airborne demonstration are revolutionary for governments as they show how next-generation satellite networks can efficiently support data-intensive government aero capabilities,” said Will Tong, vice president of Strategic Government Initiatives and head of the Government Aerospace Market, SES.
“By leveraging the open space, ground and waveform architecture of SES’ O3b MEO and the secure frequencies of GovSat-1, as well as the network-agnostic MCX terminal, we managed to show impressive throughput while enabling secure sovereign networks for government end users.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Honeywell on these critical demonstrations of resilient airborne connectivity using the Hughes HM System across multiple constellations and orbits,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager, Hughes Defense.
“Our equipment and systems integration enabled far greater throughput – ideal for both en-route and air-to-ground applications – and showcased how our low probability of intercept/low probability of detection waveform can enhance the military’s PACE planning.”
Ready to deploy now, Honeywell JetWave MCX is a dual-polarity, wideband Ka-band satellite terminal that meets the needs of military and other government aircraft for surveillance, defense or humanitarian missions such as search and rescue operations. Honeywell’s JetWave MCX terminal enables access to nearly any Ka-band network and meets the increased needs of the defense operator. It is the SATCOM of choice today for MC-130J airborne mission networking.
SES’ unique multiorbit network comprises over 70 GEO and O3b MEO satellites, offering global coverage and high-throughput, low-latency carrier-grade communications service. The company’s second-generation MEO system, O3b mPOWER, will deliver unprecedented throughput with increased flexibility to adjust forward and return link data ratios securely.
This makes it a game-changer for today’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions that rely on real-time information exchange and analysis of sensitive mission data. When operational in 2022, O3b mPOWER will be capable of delivering from tens of megabits to multiple gigabits per second to support government applications in any location.
Honeywell’s portfolio of SATCOM systems provides operators, passengers and crew members with reliable, consistent connectivity throughout the world. It serves a range of needs, including in-flight connectivity for voice and data streaming in the cockpit and cabin as well as fleet tracking and aircraft management. (Source: Google/https://www.spacewar.com/)
20 Dec 21. L3Harris Completes Final US Missile Defense Agency Satellite Design Milestone.
- Completes Critical Design Review (CDR) in support of urgent missile-tracking architecture
- Buying and building in tandem enabled rapid demonstration to respond to threats
- Follows 2020 Missile Defense Agency prototype award
L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) completed the final major design milestone on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) program Phase IIb On-orbit Prototype Demonstration and has already begun building the demonstration satellite.
Completing the CDR is the final design milestone ensuring performance, cost and schedule requirements can be met before beginning to build the satellite. However, L3Harris has been building and buying components concurrently to maintain an aggressive schedule.
“L3Harris is moving quickly, in collaboration with our customer, to provide prototype HBTSS satellites that demonstrate the sensitivity and fire control quality of service necessary to support the hypersonic kill chain,” said Ed Zoiss, president, L3Harris Space & Airborne Systems. “Recent events with China and Russia increase the urgency to counter hypersonics and advanced maneuvering threats.”
HBTSS is one of several proposed systems within the Department of Defense’s next-generation proliferated low-Earth orbit space architecture. The program’s objective is to demonstrate the capability to detect and track traditional and emerging missile threats using infrared sensors and advanced processing capability.
L3Harris has prioritized investments in end-to-end satellite solutions in spacecraft, payloads, ground software and advanced algorithms. The Missile Defense Agency awarded L3Harris a study contract in 2019 and the prototype demonstration in January 2021. In December 2020, the Space Development Agency selected L3Harris to build and launch four space vehicles to demonstrate the capability to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
20 Dec 21. SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites from California base. A SpaceX rocket carried 52 Starlink internet satellites into orbit from California early Saturday. The U.S. military has become increasingly interested in using satellite imagery to extend its situational awareness and beyond line-of-sight targeting, partly because of the emergence of low-latency networks, like Starlink, which would make it possible to get data from anywhere in the world to a soldier or weapon system faster than ever. The American firm also was scheduled to launch a Turkish communications satellite from Florida at 10:58 p.m. EST on Saturday. The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base at 4:41 a.m. and arced over the Pacific Ocean. The Falcon’s first stage returned and landed on a SpaceX droneship in the ocean. It was the 11th launch and recovery of the stage. The second stage continued into orbit and deployment of the satellites was confirmed, said launch commentator Youmei Zhou at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Starlink is a satellite-based global internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. Saturday’s mission was the 34th launch for Starlink, a constellation of nearly 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. (Source: Defense News)
20 Dec 21. Space acquisition shop set for another re-org, following Congress-backed SWAC model. The Space Warfighting Analysis Center has started laying out force designs for critical operations, but will SSC be able to transition those blueprints into real-world acquisition programs, Lockheed Martin’s Eric Brown asked. While Space Force’s fledgling Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC) initially faced pushback on Capitol Hill, a number of key members of Congress have been won over in recent months — to the point where it is now seen as a ray of hope for long-stalled space acquisition reform.
Meanwhile, yet another reorganization of the central service body for developing and buying new satellites and space systems — reimagined as Space Systems Command in August and led by Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein — is in the works, a number of sources said. Though a Space Force spokesperson said that re-org is “pre-decisional,” the sources said SWAC provides a model for what the new organization will look like — more proof of the SWAC’s success.
Rep Jim Cooper, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said in an interview last week that the SWAC’s first (classified) industry day on Oct. 27 was a “very promising development.”
The SWAC team, which is led by longtime Defense Department space official Andrew Cox, took a “very bold approach, with nearly 200 commercial [companies], by sharing some of their toughest problems to see if some of the best minds in the space industry can help us solve those problems,” said Cooper, D-Tenn. “That was a very bold way to jumpstart the acquisition process. There’s some real opportunities there to accelerate things.”
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, told Breaking Defense in a written statement that SWAC’s force design efforts will set the stage for future space development programs.
“Of note, I am encouraged by their focus on force design and critical mission areas that are essential to space operations,” Granger said. “These efforts will underpin future investments that ensure we keep pace with our adversaries.”
“We established the Space Force to address the growing importance of space as a warfighting domain, and there has been significant progress in some areas—for example, the analysis from the Space Warfighting Analysis Center has structured space architecture across the Department of Defense.”
That three key players in Congress praised the SWAC unprompted is notable, given how many in Congress have been frustrated by the Pentagon’s snail’s pace in streamlining and realigning space acquisition efforts toward less vulnerable space systems — an issue that was one top raison d’être for Congress’s support for standing up the Space Force in the first place.
Indeed, both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, in their fiscal 2022 defense bills, zeroed out the Space Force’s $37m request for the center’s work. However, the compromise version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, recently passed by the House and Senate and headed to President Joe Biden desk, would allow the funds to be released, contingent of course on appropriators’ final decision.
The SWAC was unveiled by Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond in his November 2020 CSO Planning Guidance. It is aimed at developing future “force design” for the central Space Force mission areas, such as missile warning and tracking — the first blueprint completed so far — and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).
While little has been said about the center in the unclassified domain, the organization now is set up along those mission lines of effort, as shown in the center’s organizational chart, obtained by Breaking Defense.
Eric Brown, senior director of mission strategy for Lockheed Martin’s Military Space business, explained that what Raymond and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall are trying to do with SWAC is “to take a step back to say: ‘What does the future need to look like within a set of constraints based on budget, based on where we are in our programs today? We need to evolve to the future at a very fast clip, but we can’t do it without some forethought.’”
He added: “I think they’ve set up the foundations, the infrastructure that’s needed to really create that direction.”
The next question, Brown said, is whether Space Systems Command be able to transition those blueprints developed by SWAC into real-world programs.
“Do we see them starting to buy — not necessarily buy something different — but buy something in a more coherent, cogent fashion across the entire mission set?” he said.
Chris Bogdan, senior vice president for space and intelligence at Booz Allen Hamilton, agreed.
“We’ve seen the first force design coming out of the Space Warfighting Analysis Center recently,” he said. “We know that they’re doing a couple of others. And at least that’s intended to be the foundation of a plan. The question is really at that point in time, you know, are they incorporating the inputs that need to be there so that we’re not we’re not chasing our tail? And that’s where that Space Force is trying to be circumspect.”
Another SSC Reorganization Coming
While a Space Force spokesperson wouldn’t comment because the issue is still “pre-decisional,” a number of sources close to the action said that yet another reorganization for SSC is in the making. Kendall has approved the re-do and has passed responsibility over to Guetlein to make it so, these sources said, with a final product expected sometime early next year.
SSC, headquartered in Lost Angeles, was stood up from the bones of the Space and Missile Systems Center. SMC itself had, in July 2019, been overhauled with much fanfare into what Space Force called SMC 2.0.
The new idea, these sources explained, is to align SSC’s acquisition programs with the mission focus areas and force designs coming out of the SWAC.
“It’s been signed off, and they’ve talked publicly a little bit about it but it’s not complete yet,” said one space acquisition expert. “I think what Secretary Kendall is doing is, he wants to create SSC based on mission areas, rather than … a production corps, a development corps” which is SSC’s key organizational principle designed to “create a cross cutting organization.”
Under the new schema, the expert added, SSC would establish mission area teams and “then use some kind of integration or cross-cutting organization to try and tie them together.”
Whatever comes out of the overhaul, Congress will certainly want to be fully informed, as members keep keen eyes on space acquisition reform and, especially, the development of a more robust and resilient space architecture writ large.
“We’re pushing them,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said in an interview last week. “It’s one of the reasons we keep asking them to put it in writing what they want to do: so we can all understand how we’re going to get to where we need to be.
Rogers said “resilience” in space, the strengthening of American systems in the face of natural or man-made disruptions, is “the issue” for Space Force.
Rogers elaborated: “I want to see them start to reduce to writing, and that’s to all have a clear focus of how we’re going to move quickly to a much more resilient architecture — away from … the big fat, juicy targets.”
That resiliency must apply not just to moving toward large constellations of small satellites, but also to more capable constellations, as well as more launch capability for small satellites, he said.
“And I want to see us I want to see the Space Force start working more closely with commercial sector to leverage their capabilities for ISR and other things,” Rogers added. “Those are the things I’m focused on going forward. But I’m really happy where we are. And I could not be happier with the fact that this is one of the few things that is just not partisan in this town. The Space Force has strong bipartisan support.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
20 Dec 21. SPAINSAT NG programme successfully passes Critical Design Review. Advanced technologies for fully reconfigurable secure communications. Spanish space industry to integrate communications payload of both satellites in Madrid.
The SPAINSAT NG programme has successfully passed another important milestone, the critical design review (CDR) of the payload and the complete satellite, including the CDR elements of the Pacis 3 partnership project with the European Space Agency (ESA). The review was declared successful after verifying the good progress of the tests performed on the development models of the X-band payload.
This important milestone confirms the robustness of the design and technical capabilities of the SPAINSAT NG satellite system. At the same time, it signals the start of the manufacturing of all the flight elements of the satellites, noting however that long lead flight equipment is already being manufactured, in particular for the all-electric Eurostar NEO satellite platform.
Furthermore, the structure of the Communications Module of the first satellite, SPAINSAT NG I, is already at Thales Alenia Space’s site in Tres Cantos, Madrid, to begin payload assembly, integration and testing activities
“The technical teams of our co-contractors, Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space in Spain and France, together with the rest of the subcontractors are doing an outstanding job, as are those of Hisdesat, acting as customer”, comments Miguel Ángel García Primo, CEO of Hisdesat. “Likewise, ESA and CDTI are participating in an important way in the Pacis 3 programme, a Public Private Partnership between ESA and Hisdesat to develop the most innovative elements of the satellite, especially the X-band payload, with the most advanced active antennas in Europe, and the pallet, antennas and mechanisms in Ka-band.”
“This milestone confirms the viability of the satellite flight elements, with new technologies developed, here in Madrid by Airbus,” said Fernando Varela, Head of Airbus Space in Spain. “Our teams are ready to start the integration of the satellite payload, especially that of the new active antenna fully reconfigurable in orbit with geolocation capabilities.”
“The success of the CDR and the arrival of the Communications Module structure of the first satellite at Tres Cantos marks the beginning of a new momentous phase of the project,” said Stéphane Terranova, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain. “For the first time we are going to carry out in Spain the integration of the communications payload of both satellites, which means making a qualitative leap for the national industry.”
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “The Pacis-3 Partnership Project with Hisdesat has proven to be a catalyst for key technologies. Pacis-3 shows how the European space industry can respond to an emerging global market for secure satellite communications.”
ESA’s Pacis 3 partnership project supports the development and integration of innovative satellite payload elements, such as reconfigurable transmit and receive X-band active antennas, and the deployable pallet with individually steerable Ka-band antennas. The partnership project takes the risk out of the partners’ investments to respond to market needs.
The SPAINSAT NG programme comprises two satellites, SPAINSAT NG I and II, which will be located at different geostationary positions to operate in X, military Ka and UHF bands. The communication payloads of both satellites are provided by Spanish industry, including the integration of the Communications Module in Spain, a major step forward for Spanish industry. Airbus Defence and Space in Spain is responsible for the X-band payload, while Thales Alenia Space in Spain is responsible for the UHF and Ka-band payloads. Other companies from the Spanish space industry are also involved. The SPAINSAT NG satellites include a fully flexible X-band payload, which employs active antennas with in-orbit reconfiguration capability, an integrated digital processor that will interconnect the X- and Ka-band payloads for cross-banding, and a dedicated high-speed service link that enables rapid reconfiguration. The satellites are based on Airbus’ Eurostar Neo platform, a significant evolution of the successful and highly reliable Eurostar series with a full range of important innovations. The latest technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, etc. are being applied in the development of new applications and services provided on the new satellites. The first one of the SPAINSAT NG satellites will be launched at the end of 2023 and the second one a year later, guaranteeing the continuity of secure communications services. The SPAINSAT NG satellites will have an operational lifetime of 15 years, remaining in service until 2039.
13 Dec 21. Viasat Joins the Paris Peace Forum’s ‘Net Zero Space’ Initiative. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced it is joining the Paris Peace Forum’s ‘Net Zero Space’ Initiative in tackling the growing space debris crisis in the shared orbits closest to Earth.
Viasat is the first U.S.-headquartered communications satellite operator to join the initiative, which recommends urgent action to contain and reduce the dangerous and increasing amount of debris in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that increases the chance of collisions, threatens the safety of space operations, increases the cost of access to space by everyone and also threatens humanity’s ability to benefit from outer space.
Signatories are asked to contribute tangible actions to contribute to the ‘net zero’ goal. As part of its contribution, Viasat published a White Paper titled, “Managing Mega-Constellation Risks in LEO,” setting out the main considerations for calculating the aggregate risks associated with large LEO constellations, and developing methods to mitigate them. In the paper, Viasat is committed to developing comprehensive models that:
- Employ quantitative metrics and measurement tools that enable a full evaluation of the current environment in LEO, the expected evolution of that environment, and the expected consequences of more intensive uses planned for those orbits, and
- Assist in the design and operation of sustainable spacecraft and constellations.
“The Earth’s shared orbital resources are finite, fragile and at risk of over-exploitation. Viasat has long advocated for safe use of these resources, and we are pleased to join the ‘Net Zero Space’ initiative,” said Mark Dankberg, co-founder and executive chairman, Viasat. “Our modelling aims to forecast the evolution of debris in LEO so that regulators can set prudent limits on collision risk, and require responsible spacecraft and constellation design and operations. Comprehensive models are the only way to understand and forecast the impact on the orbital environment of the growing use of LEO, and ensure equitable and safe access to those shared orbital resources. We urge satellite operators and national space agencies to join the initiative and work together to protect the use of space by all nations.”
In October 2021, Viasat launched its inaugural Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report, where the Company committed to being a leader in bringing the benefits of space technology to the world in a sustainable, responsible and inclusive way. Viasat is focused on cooperating with a broad range of responsible nations and global partners; joining the Paris Peace Forum’s ‘Net Zero Space’ Initiative is a testament to Viasat’s commitment. The Paris Peace Forum is a platform open to all seeking to develop coordination, rules, and capacities that answer global problems. (Source: PR Newswire)
14 Dec 21. Avanti And European Space Agency Speed Adoption Of 5G With New INSTANT5G Project. Avanti’s new research project is to develop 5G compliant satellite connectivity services for MNOs and Towercos
Avanti Communications (“Avanti”), provider of high throughput satellite capacity across EMEA, announced the launch of INSTANT5G, a new research project endorsed by the European Space Agency, UK Space Agency and the Romanian Space Agency.
The 5G via INtegrated Satellite and TerrestriAl CommuNicaTion (INSTANT5G) project aims to extend 5G coverage for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Tower Companies (Towercos) via integrated satellite and terrestrial communication. This enables the addition of managed 5G services on top of existing cellular services.
As demand for greater reliability and data speed rises, the satcom industry is investing heavily in R&D to ensure the seamless integration of 5G platforms with network virtualization. INSTANT5G will define and develop a software-based platform that will enable the convergence of satcom and mobile networks to aid 5G satellite connectivity services.
INSTANT5G will create, trial and validate novel technologies, to deliver a software platform that virtualizes resource and enables zero-touch service management of 5G satellite connections. This hybrid satellite-terrestrial network will help address the operational challenges that MNOs and Towercos face, and reduce the digital divide in regions like Africa, where inequalities are particularly prominent. By removing integration complexities and high TCOs, the platform will enable satcom-5G convergence and seamless E2E network management across both terrestrial and satellite links.
Avanti and the ESA are leading the INSTANT5G project, with support from academics and experts from the University of Surrey, CGI and LASTING software. Trials across Africa and Europe are planned to take place from 2023.
Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer at Avanti, commented, “We are delighted to be able to take a leading role in shaping the services of 5G over satellite on this ground-breaking research program, and proud to be working alongside renowned global partners and academic experts. At Avanti, we believe everyone has the power to ‘Be More’ and by helping to break down the barriers preventing MNOs and Towercos from accessing 5G coverage, we will unlock opportunities that will enable these businesses to thrive — it is a really exciting time for the satcom industry!”
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said “Satellites play a crucial role in enabling seamless and ubiquitous connectivity to reduce the digital divide, support the digital transformation and enable new carbon-neutral applications and services. We are proud to explore novel technologies for the design and development of integrated space and terrestrial networks.”
Professor Barry Evans, University of Surrey, said, “The Institute for Communication Systems and 5 & 6G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey is delighted to be collaborating with Avanti, Lasting and CGI on the integration of satellite and 5G mobile systems. The INSTANT5G project enables us to advance the state-of-the-art of 5G satellite backhaul that was set by the EU SaT5G project in which the University of Surrey had the Technical Management role. The advancement will be towards commercial and dynamic end-to-end managed 5G services that include satellite links in the path, through innovation and demonstration. Our 3GPP compliant 5G Core Network, Management and Orchestration infrastructure and campus-wide Radio Access Network will be utilised in the project to test the end-to-end system including satellite backhauling via Avanti, and links to the ESA ECSAT hub.”
Shaun Stretton, Senior Vice President of Satellite Communications and Space Data Platforms at CGI in the UK and Australia said, “This is another exciting project that will take us a step further towards ubiquitous 5G coverage built on a hybrid terrestrial and satcoms network. CGI is uniquely positioned to unlock these benefits through our experience and IT capabilities across the space and telecoms and our investment in unlocking the potential of 5G including our 5G accelerator lab.”
Daniel Zirmer, Chief Executive Office at LASTING Software, added, “As a provider of integrated cellular backhaul solutions, LASTING Software is very happy to be part of this consortium, working alongside leading industry players and using our significant expertise in 5G and multi-orbit satcom solutions to help drive innovation. Given LASTING Software’s solid collaboration with ESA, we are thrilled to join INSTANT5G as the first project in which have the opportunity to carry out demonstrations in a commercial context of the significant optimisations we have achieved in satcom technology solutions as part of previous and ongoing ESA-supported initiatives.”
Satellite technology is making headlines as a solution for expanding the reach of broadband to not-spots that have so far been unreached by terrestrial operators. Avanti previously led the European Commision H2020 SaT5G project, working with fifteen organizations to develop prototype solutions to integrate satellite into 5G networks. The business also has a proven track record of helping MNOs and Towercos to expand their networks in rural and ultra-rural areas in Africa.
The launch of INSTANT5G follows the recent introduction of Avanti EXTEND, a new managed satellite service to rural connectivity. The new service is set to provide reliable cellular service to ms of people living in remote and hard-to-reach areas across sub-Saharan Africa by providing high-performance and cost-effective 2G, 3G and 4G solutions to MNOs. (Source: Satnews)
12 Dec 21. New Aviation Solutions For The U.S. Government Debut From Inmarsat Government. Inmarsat Government has unveiled their G-MODMAN II modem manager and G-MODMAN Open Platform (OP) solutions. These are expanded, smart ecosystem solutions, built on the proven G-MODMAN modem manager technology that will support the implementation of Global Xpress (GX) terminals on government aviation platforms, starting in 2022. Inmarsat GX is the first and only end-to-end high-throughput Ka-band network from a single operator that provides worldwide service. In U.S. government operation since July 2014, GX complements military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) and delivers seamless, consistent wideband access that meets mobile, interoperable communications needs at an affordable price.
G-MODMAN II is a flexible, easy-to-use solution that seamlessly integrates with existing antenna systems and provides the enabling technology to support the implementation of the current and future generation of GX services and aero terminals across multiple aviation platforms. This solution builds on Inmarsat’s monitoring system and includes high-fidelity monitoring and logging features, allowing easy access to mission-critical data, and enabling highly detailed performance and trend analysis that leverages advanced ML (Machine Learning) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques.
An option to G-MODMAN II is the G-MODMAN OP, which further expands upon the interoperable functionality by allowing for the seamless switching between GX, Inmarsat’s steerable beams and the government’s Wideband Global SATCOM system (WGS) to provide Inmarsat Government’s customers with always-on availability, capacity, coverage and capability for mission operations. This is a turn-key solution that integrates multiple modems/services with a single antenna by using loadable coverage map files and an easy-to-use a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to manage the various services.
Both configurations leverage open standards, such as OpenAMIP and OpenBMIP, enabling interoperability with a multitude of terminals from various manufacturers.
The G-MODMAN II solution will be available in 1 Rack Unit (RU) and ARINC 404A ½ Air Transport Rack (ATR) form factors, G-MODMAN OP will be available in 19” 1 RU rack mount and ARINC-404A form factors, supporting a wide range of modems and services for government aviation missions – both crewed and uncrewed. Users will have also access to an Inmarsat’s support structure that enables fast integration, easy configuration and detailed monitoring and control.
Matt Wissler, Chief Technology Officer at Inmarsat Government, said, “Many of our customers’ mission requirements drive the need for diverse SATCOM services spanning both commercial and military or government networks. Inmarsat Government recognizes the critical role of satellite communications in U.S. government aviation missions and takes pride in rapidly building solutions tailored to users’ unique requirements. The G-MODMAN II and G-MODMAN OP solutions are testament to the company’s dedication to solving customers’ problems, maximizing and extending the capabilities that our customers have come to expect and trust from Inmarsat Government.” (Source: Satnews)
14 Dec 21. Swedish Space Corporation Joins The UN:IO European Space Consortium. Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has joined the European space consortium, UN:IO, that is creating an independent, European constellation of satellites for commercial and institutional communication channels.
As a vital part of the infrastructure, SSC adds their SATCOM services heritage as well as one of the world’s leading, ground station networks. The mega constellation is set to be fully operational by 2025, supported by the European Commission who selected UN:IO out of the 10 consortia that applied.
The European Commission will support the UN:IO consortium with 1.4m euros for the preparations of critical infrastructure that will ensure secure broadband connectivity for mass communication and large data quantities.
In the next six months, the consortium will present its technical solutions to the EU, followed by further operational infrastructure to be fully implemented by 2025.
“Now begins the work for SSC and the other 13 member organizations to close the gap between Europe and US and China, countries which have already largely realized their constellations of communications satellites. The megaconstellation will ensure independent European development within Earth observation, positioning and navigation, communications and further exploration of space – ultimately securing sustainable societal development,” said Stefan Gardefjord, CEO at SSC.
“This consortium is Europe’s technological declaration of independence. We have everything we need here in Europe, we just need to combine and activate it highly efficiently. UN:IO is ideally prepared for this task. Our flexibility, speed and cost-effectiveness, together with the innovative strength of Europe’s technological avantgarde, is what forms the European space industry,” said Walter Ballheimer, spokesperson for UN:IO and Managing Director of Reflex Aerospace. (Source: Satnews)
17 Dec 21. Space Force at two: ‘Still a toddler,’ with all that brings.
“We made it clear when we stood this up that it is going to be an evolutionary process, and that we just stood up the bare bones in the first year — because it’s hard enough to do that,” Rep. Mike Rogers said. “And we’re putting the flesh on the bones each year trying to mature it in a slow and pragmatic fashion, and do it right.”
When President Donald Trump stood up the Space Force on Dec. 20, 2019, supporters glowed with the belief that the Pentagon’s longstanding lack of focus on space would finally be solved.
Barbara Barrett, then serving as Air Force secretary, had days earlier summed up the goals of the new military service. “We have to be able to defend what we have there that we count on,” she said. “We need to replace the things that are there that require external defense — put things in space that themselves can be defended. And then we need to be able to use space as an enabler for warfighters in other domains.”
But with the Space Force poised to celebrate its second birthday on Monday, its supporters in Congress and industry observers are feeling somewhat like the parents of a human two-year-old: proud, but also plenty frustrated.
While key lawmakers say some good progress has been made, they, along with a number of industry sources and analysts, worry about lack of movement on fixing space acquisition, which was central to the new military force’s establishment. In particular, policymakers and experts zeroed in on the failure to streamline the Byzantine space acquisition decision-making chain — which in turn has led to a lack of progress on reconfiguring America’s vulnerable satellite networks into a more resilient architecture.
“I think Space Force — and Space Command, don’t forget there are two new entities here — have made great progress. But they still have a long way to go,” Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Armed Service’s strategic forces subcommittee, told Breaking Defense in a Dec. 13 interview.
Cooper, one of the congressional “fathers” of the Space Force long before Trump took it up as a political rallying point, noted that the newest military service is “still a toddler,” and suggested that a modicum of patience is required. “Remember that a vast bureaucracy like the Pentagon doesn’t move with the speed of a magazine editor or a newsroom,” he said.
“Looking back on the original reasons why we needed a separate service for space […], there were three: create a professional space cadre, fix space acquisitions and create military space doctrine,” Secure World Foundation’s Brian Weeden said. “At the two year point, it’s hard to tell if the Space Force has made significant progress on solving any of those issues.”
Todd Harrison, long-time space budget guru at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was more blunt.
“I think after two years, the grace period is officially over for the Space Force,” Harrison said. “Everyone understood from the beginning it would take time to stand up the new service and reorganize the military space enterprise, and members of Congress were willing to be patient. But the time for patience is over, and the pressure is mounting on the Space Force leadership to show tangible results.”
Space Force declined to comment for this report.
Cooper ‘Deeply Worried’ About Bureaucratic Resistance
The clearest point of concern on the Hill and among analysts is the sluggishness when it comes to space acquisition reform, hobbled by bureaucracy.
Cooper said that he was “deeply worried” that the number of officials who can kill an innovative new idea for space actually may have gone up since Space Force’s creation, rather than down. “That’s one of the reasons Mike Rogers and I wanted to stand up Space Force: we thought 60 naysayers were too many. If there are even more today, then that’s truly discouraging — because that’s not reform, it’s deform.”
Cooper was referring to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) who partnered with him in creating the Space Force. Rogers told Breaking Defense in a Dec. 15 interview that his “biggest frustration” has been the administration’s slowness to name a new space acquisition executive (SAE) independent from the Air Force — as mandated by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act — and to come up with a plan to consolidate some of the different acquisition offices and agencies.
“One of the things that we’ve done is, we’ve asked them to give us a written plan so we can work with them, and we haven’t gotten it yet,” Rogers said of Pentagon space leaders. “But that’s what we’re here for: we’re here to aggravate them to make them do right.”
(After a year’s wait, lawmakers’ persistence in pushing the Pentagon on the SAE seems to have partially paid off: the White House on Dec. 15 nominated Frank Calvelli, who served eight years as the principal deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office under both Presidents Obama and Trump, for the post of assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition.)
While expressing his continued strong support for the Space Force, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Breaking Defense in a written statement that he too is concerned about bureaucratic impediments to faster change.
Noting that “as with any new program, it takes time to get it right,” he said “there has been significant progress in some areas.” But, he went on, “I am not satisfied, though, about the slowness of implementation for warfighting and acquisition, as General Hyten also noted, nor with the infighting between the intelligence community and Space Force as well as other intra-DOD fights. We created the Space Force as the service focused on warfighting in space, but that means that other services and agencies need to appreciate that Space Force is the Pentagon’s provider of space capability.”
Gen. John Hyten, just before his retirement as vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had criticized the Pentagon’s continued failure to update its satellite infrastructure to a more diverse and dispersed architecture based on large numbers of smaller, lower cost satellites.
Hyten told the Defense Writers Group on Oct. 28 the Pentagon has been talking about the need for resilience for “over a decade.” But worryingly, he said, the US still has “a handful of fat, juicy targets.”
Cooper, too, fretted about the need to move faster to build less vulnerable satellites. “We need quality control but we also need speed and boldness,” he said. “The difficulty is changing space architecture. I think what we’re going to end up seeing is augmenting existing space architecture with other designs, and we just need to get them in orbit as soon as possible.”
Doug Loverro, former head of space policy at the Defense Department and a long-time supporter of a separate military space service, gave the Space Force a grade of B on rapidly establishing a lean organization, but noted that there are “holes” — a big one being that Space Systems Command, “is still a mess.”
Less generously, he gave the Space Force a D on doctrine development, and an F on its progress in developing resilient space systems — although on the latter issue, he said that at least service leaders now understand after all the talk about resilience, “they actually need to move there.”
Supporters Urge Patience For ‘Evolutionary Process’
Rogers stressed that despite some concerns he is “pleased” with Space Force’s “growth and development.” And he cautioned that moving too fast could actually result in more problems rather than fixing current ones.
“We made it clear when we stood this up that it is going to be an evolutionary process, and that we just stood up the bare bones in the first year — because it’s hard enough to do that,” he explained. “And we’re putting the flesh on the bones each year trying to mature it in a slow and pragmatic fashion, and do it right.”
Eric Brown, Lockheed Martin Military Space senior director for mission strategy, concurred, saying “I think what people expected to see was this immediate switch in approaches to how things were acquired, what was acquired and so forth. But with all of that fragmentation that existed prior to the Space Force, what was missing was really that top-down umbrella architectural perspective that says, ‘Okay, what we actually need to do’?”
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, said that “with time and focus, I am confident the Space Force will exceed our expectations,” but that it, like other military branches must “innovate faster, transition technology from concept to a warfighting capability more effectively, and leverage the private sector.”
Raymond and other senior leaders, she stressed, “understand these issues and are focused on how they can work with us in Congress to solve them.”
And those fixes will take time: years, if not decades, according to Weeden, despite what the public may have been led to believe at the beginning.
“The problem is that the political debate on the Space Force created this false notion that simply establishing the Space Force was the solution. In reality, establishing the Space Force only created the conditions where we might be able to solve those problems in the future. And unfortunately, it also meant we needed to spend hundreds to thousands of hours on the bureaucratic stuff (new logo, ranks, uniform, names) before we could get to those problems.”
Chris Bogden, a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, pointed out that Raymond faces several constraints that make it hard to get things done at a speedy pace, not the least of which is a lack of people power. In addition, he said in a Dec. 15 interview, “[Raymond’s] got an operational mission he’s currently executing at the same time he is trying to stand up a new force.”
And then are 535 lawmakers to deal with. Christopher Stone, senior fellow at the Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Advantage Research Center, more overtly tossed some of blame for the slow going back at Congress. “When it comes to acquisition and operational capability, I think they have moved as fast as they can given the artificial restrictions placed upon them by Congress both in personnel and resources.”
Russia and China have helped shore up that support
All that said, there is no evidence that the widespread and, by and large, bipartisan support within Congress for the Space Force’s existence is threatened. Instead, the recent tests by Russia and China of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons capabilities has helped to strengthen the perceptions on the Hill about its importance.
“The last few months have proven the Space Force is a national security necessity,” Inhofe said. “While some have failed to take the Space Force seriously, recent missile tests from both China and Russia threaten both our national security and commercial space assets, not to mention other key national security interests.”
“We saw the recent Russian test. Of course, the Chinese had a horrendous ASAT test years ago. There are daily efforts to jam and spoof and dazzle and all sorts of reversible attacks. We’ve got a lot of work to do to avoid a space Pearl Harbor,” Cooper said.
And Granger: “As adversaries like China continue to expand their investments in space, it is critical that Congress supports the mission and development of the U.S. Space Force.”
The big question now is what happens with the fiscal 2023 budget — both the Pentagon’s request, and how Congress reacts.
Loverro fretted there is likely to be an internal Pentagon fight — as well as potential congressional sticker shock — over Space Force efforts to both continue spending on bn dollar legacy programs, but also pump more money into new, more resilient constellations.
Harrison put it bluntly: “The real test will be what they do in the National Defense Strategy and the FY23 budget request.
“If we don’t see a significant shift in the FY23 budget to pursue better protection and more resilient architectures, I expect we will see Congress start to make decisions for the Space Force in the FY23 NDAA and appropriations bills.” (Source: Defense News)
17 Dec 21. Lockheed Martin Australia taps local firms for JP 9102 push. Two Australian companies have joined a growing list of firms supporting Lockheed Martin’s bid to deliver a next-generation military SATCOM to the ADF. Blacktree Technology and DXC Technology Australia have been named as the latest members of Lockheed Martin Australia’s (LMA) JP 9102 team. Communications company Blacktree Technology is expected to leverage its experience in mission-critical ultra-high frequency (UHF) services for Defence, supporting LMA’s narrowband MILSATCOM ground segment.
“Blacktree welcomes the opportunity to support Lockheed Martin Australia on JP 9102,” Joe Nevin, managing director of Blacktree, said.
“This agreement capitalises on our deep heritage in high mobility MILSATCOM and will in turn add to our capability and reputation as a market leader in UHF ground segment solutions.”
Meanwhile, IT services provider DXC Technology would be tasked with overseeing the development of ground and control segment cyber security architectures, including interfaces with existing hardware and external software elements.
“DXC in Australia is looking forward to working closely with Lockheed Martin Australia, a company that is spearheading the development of Australia’s space-oriented industries and technologies,” Seelan Nayagam, DXC president, Asia Pacific, said.
“The opportunity to deliver cyber security architectures for JP 9102 positions us at the very forefront of the industry, generating local and global opportunities.”
David Ball, regional director for space at Lockheed Martin Australia, welcomed the addition of Blacktree Technology and DXC Technology Australia, stating they would help accelerate the delivery of an operationally agile and flexible solution.
“We’re working hand-in-glove with an extensive set of local industry partners to build a highly skilled, high-value Australian workforce,” he said.
“These Australian companies will contribute to an extensible and resilient sovereign MILSATCOM solution that strengthens Australia’s space capability long into the future.”
Blacktree DXC and Blacktree are the latest among several firms to join MA’s JP9102 team, including Conscia, Av-Comm, Calytrix Technologies, EM Solutions, Shoal Group, Clearbox Systems, STEM Punks and Ronson Gears.
The LMA-led team will be competing against a host of other major contractors, including Airbus, Boeing Defence Australia (BDA), Northrop Grumman Australia, and telecommunications giant Optus. (Source: Defence Connect)
16 Dec 21. PASCO to distribute Pléiades Neo satellite imagery. Airbus and Japanese geospatial solutions provider PASCO CORPORATION (hereinafter PASCO) have signed a new partnership agreement for a Pléiades Neo Direct Receiving Station (DRS) with associated data distribution rights on the Japanese market. This deal marks a new milestone in the very long-term collaboration between the two companies, which started twenty years ago, when PASCO introduced the industrial geo-production system of Airbus. In 2005, PASCO became the exclusive distributor of TerraSAR-X radar satellite data for the Japanese market, in 2011, the first distributor for Pléiades data, even before the satellite was launched, and in 2014, the exclusive distributor of SPOT 6/7 data.
Today, Airbus and PASCO will work together to expand the provision of geospatial information services by utilizing and offering 30cm native resolution data from Pléiades Neo and will be able to answer to any highly demanding needs in terms of tasking reactivity, revisit, or coverage capacity in various fields such as disaster prevention & preparation activities both in peaceful time and emergency situation, for the national security in broad sense.
Comprising four identical satellites, the 100% Airbus manufactured, owned and operated Pléiades Neo constellation offers a native resolution of 30cm with an imaging swath of 14km, the widest in its category. Thanks to their unmatched agility, the constellation will be able to cover the entire Earth landmass five times per year. First two satellites are already in orbit and the last two will be launched mid-2022.
15 Dec 21. SSTL, Team Maier partner for next gen sovereign MILSATCOM capability. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has joined the Airbus-led consortium as the group’s first industry development partner under the Team Maier JP 9102 bid. Under the agreement between Team Maier and SSTL, the company will exclusively support the Airbus-led consortium as an industry development partner to drive Australian industry capability (AIC) and Australia’s space ambitions. The company is expected to draw on its 40 years of satellite hardware expertise and 500 years of in orbit service, as well as the creation of smallsat, CubeSat and microsats for Earth observation, communications and navigation. SSTL is also expected to draw on its history of supporting programs surrounding the construction of a lunar communications array, the monitoring of emissions and observing climate variables. Currently, SSTL offers 20 customer training programs for national governments, including the US and Canada.
Clive Oates, head of Americas and Five Eyes nations at SSTL, welcomed the opportunity to help build a sovereign space and MILSATCOM capability in Australia. “Team Maier is a unique partnership that will develop a truly sovereign MILSATCOM capability for Australia by enhancing Australia’s industrial capabilities in the sector. We believe this approach will enable Australia to develop into a space sector leader in the long term and we are proud to be adding our expertise to this effort,” Oates said.
Martin Rowse, Airbus campaign lead for the JP 9102 program, explained that SSTL’s experience in developing MILSATCOM capabilities for other Five Eyes nations will support the Team Maier bid. “SSTL will bring unparalleled experience to Team Maier. The team has been at the forefront of building sovereign MILSATCOM capabilities for other nations, including our Five Eyes allies, for decades. Furthermore, the company’s experience in innovative satellite use cases means that Team Maier is ready to meet any requirements that Australia requires. We are very happy to have such a strong addition to the team,” Rowse said. (Source: Defence Connect)
15 Dec 21. Northrop Grumman Completes Environmental Testing for Next Gen OPIR GEO Missile Warning Mission Payload Engineering Development Unit. The Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Ball Aerospace team successfully achieved three critical milestones on production of its Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) Engineering Development Unit (EDU) payload. The missile warning sensor payload is being developed for the U.S. Space Force’s GEO missile warning satellites built by spacecraft prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
The team completed three rounds of tests in its production cycle including ambient functional testing, thermal vacuum chamber testing and acoustic testing. These tests simulate life in orbit to ensure the payload is prepared for the harsh space environment. They are building the payload with flight-quality components and have integrated the hardware and software to reduce risk, prove technology readiness and validate the digital models. Testing concluded in November 2021, at the Northrop Grumman facility in Azusa.
“Our Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace team is on track to deliver the flight payload of this critical national defense system in 2023,” said Bob Mehltretter, vice president, strategic force programs, Northrop Grumman. “The payload is ready to operate in a space environment under extreme temperature conditions and will meet all mission performance requirements.”
With these payload tests complete, the team is delivering on the goals and moving the program one step closer to the first GEO satellite launch in 2025.
“Testing the OPIR EDU payload is an important step to delivering a capability that is critical to the mission needs of our customers and our national security,” said Deirdre Walsh, vice president, Strategic Operations, Ball Aerospace. “The completion of this milestone by the Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace team is due to decades of experience with modern, agile infrared sensor development.”
Northrop Grumman’s legacy of space-based missile warning mission payload development includes the Defense Support Program (DSP) and Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) payloads and mission software that have provided a combined 60 years of critical missile warning for our warfighters and allies. The Next Gen OPIR GEO program is a space-based missile warning constellation designed to detect and track current and emerging threats from hostile entities around the globe. It is the latest evolution of the U.S. Space Force’s missile warning satellite constellation.
15 Dec 21. DoD hosts Combined Space Operations Initiative Principals Board. The Department of Defense hosted the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) initiative Principals Board at Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 7-8 with counterparts from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to steer national security space cooperation. During the event, defense leaders continued to advance shared understandings of responsible uses of space, opportunities to improve interoperability of space systems, and collaboration between space operations centers. CSpO Principals Board Participants reiterated their nations’ strong concerns about Russia’s destructive November 15 debris-generating anti-satellite test.
Participants also stressed the importance of the United Nations Open Ended Working Group on reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors, and look forward to working with the community of spacefaring nations to establish norms of responsible behavior in space, to include norms that would make clear that destructive tests are irresponsible.
Participants from the U.S. included Mr. John Hill, performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy; General John “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations; General James Dickinson, Commander, United States Space Command; and Dr. Christopher Scolese, Director, National Reconnaissance Office. (Source: US DoD)
14 Dec 21. Republic of Korea, Australia strengthen ties in space. Australia and the Republic of Korea have penned an agreement to expand each other’s space sectors. The nations will focus on mutual areas of interest in space such as Earth observation, robotics and automation, space manufacturing and launch, according to the press release. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price and South Korea’s Minister for Science and ICT Lim Hyesook.
“Korea is a key regional partner and an important space nation that has interests that overlap with many of our priorities here in Australia,” Minister Price said.
It falls under one of the key factors in Australia’s Civil Space Strategy 2019-28 which focuses on opening international doors and strengthening partnerships across the globe.
“The Australian government is determined to keep delivering for our flourishing space sector and one of the ways we achieve that is by opening up new markets through international agreements like this,” said Minister Price.
“Australia and Korea have been partners in the scientific community for decades and now we’re teaming up in space to achieve even more great things that boost our economies and create jobs.”
According to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the Republic of Korea is set on expanding its activity on the moon and advancing Earth observation operations until 2050, among other goals.
Australia was one of the first nations to sign the Artemis Accords in October 2020, which is a NASA driven agreement for the safe participation of lunar exploration and beyond.
The Republic of Korea signed them in May this year, becoming the 10th nation to pen the accords, and the MoU noted this was a significant reason to form an alliance.
Lim also said the alliance will further enhance operations such as satellite development, space exploration, satellite navigation and more.
In October, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Moon Jae-in spoke about the potential of boosting space ties between nations at the G20 summit.
The MoU will be effective for five years and will be renewed if no party decides to reject continuation.
The signing comes as Korean President Moon is visiting Australia to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between both nations.
In a statement released on 13 December following the MoU signing, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Korea is setting a “new turning point” for space development with its first homegrown rocket launch.
South Korea launched its first domestically built rocket in October, dubbed Nuri, and despite its third-stage engine shutting down early into lift-off, more attempts will be made next year.
“I hope that the MoU regarding space cooperation will enhance exchange and foster cooperation in fields ranging from space exploration and the launch vehicle industry to satellite navigation, and I hope this agreement begin, become the stepping stone for the two countries to expand into space together.” (Source: Space Connect)
14 Dec 21. Gilmour Space signs agreement with heritage landowners for rocket launch. Gilmour Space Technologies has signed an agreement with the Juru Traditional Owners at Bowen in Queensland to support the land as a rocket launch site.
It comes as the rocket manufacturer is slated to blast off its “Eris” orbital rocket into low-Earth orbit in mid-2022, paving the way for Australian sovereign launch capability.
The Queensland-based company and the owners signed a Cultural Heritage Management Agreement, which is a binding document deciding any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander land that may be impacted by a launch or project will be managed.
The agreement supports the proposed launch site within the Queensland-government owned Abbots Point State Development Area.
“The Juru traditional custodians of the Bowen area are very excited to be working with Gilmour Space Technologies,” said Peta Lynn Ross, chairperson of the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation Board of Directors.
“It’s incredible to think that we will, through this partnership, contribute to future space-based solutions that not only benefit our people, but Australia as a whole.
Ross said this type of innovation is a “must” to ensure enriched living conditions, and the partnership will be the “first step in demonstrating how such advancements can positively impact society”.
Gilmour Space Technologies, founded by two brothers in 2013, is one of the leading companies in Australia’s space industry.
Since 2016, brothers James and Adam Gilmour have dreamed of becoming the world leaders of manufacturing orbital-class hybrid propulsion technologies, as they are deemed safer to use and extremely cost-effective.
“Cultural heritage has been, and will continue to be, an important element of the Bowen Orbital Spaceport,” said James Gilmour, head of launch operations.
“We’re looking forward to launching Australia to space from Juru land in Queensland, with support from the Juru people.”
In May this year, the Queensland government announced it was committed to supporting the company in the development of the launch.
Then in June, the company secured $61m in funding to launch the rocket from venture capital investors as part of their Series C round funding, now raising a total of $87m.
The smallsat – a spacecraft less than 500 kilograms in mass – will have a payload of up to 215 kilograms, launching into 500-kilometre sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). In November, the company was approved as being Australian made, meaning the rocket can have the Australian logo printed on it. (Source: Space Connect)
13 Dec 21. U.S. Space Force holds war game to test satellite network under attack. The United States is testing satellite resiliency to threats from China and Russia miles above the earth’s surface, just weeks after Russia shot down an aging communications satellite.
The computer-aided simulations included potential shooting down of U.S. missile-tracking satellites, satellite jamming, and other electronic warfare “effects” that are possible tactics in space warfare. Actual satellites are not used.
During a visit to Schriever Space Force Base in Colorado, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks saw the ‘Space Flag’ simulated space training exercise hosted by U.S. forces. It was the 13th such exercise, and the third to involve partners such as Britain, Canada and Australia.
“It happens in rooms like that … people at a relatively junior level in many cases. Collaborating and thinking through challenges and trying to figure out concepts that seem to make sense and discarding ideas that go astray,” Hicks told reporters en route to Hawaii.
Pentagon leaders are touring U.S. bases this week while the Biden administration’s draft 2023 budget takes shape. The Department of Defense hopes to move budget dollars toward a military that can deter China and Russia.
After Russia successfully conducted an anti-satellite missile test last month, U.S. officials believe there is an increasing need to make the U.S. satellite network resilient to attack and to use opportunities like ‘Space Flag’ to train.
Satellites are vital to military communications, global positioning navigation, and timing systems that are needed in the event of war.
The 10-day-long space war game attempts to simulate the cutting edge of the U.S. capability in space. The training exercise involved an adversarial group working to simulate an aggressor nation with space capabilities like Russia or China.
Russia is not the first country to conduct anti-satellite tests in space. The United States performed the first in 1959, when satellites were rare and new.
In Hawaii, Hicks will meet with Pacific military commanders and visit Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam where she will hear about water contamination issues. (Source: Reuters)
03 Dec 21. Orbital Insight Integrates with Esri’s ArcGIS Platform To Streamline Satellite + Sensor Imagery Analysis. Orbital Insight‘s fusion of multi-sensor geospatial data and state-of-the-art algorithms has been helping customers address critical concerns for years—from determining the flow of container ship traffic amid unprecedented supply chain delays to visualizing dynamic intelligence and defense-related threats and anomalies across the globe. With the adoption of Esri’s ArcGIS Platform, Orbital Insight is making it easier for its users to integrate with ArcGIS and analyze their data.
Customers of Esri who also use Orbital Insight GO can now seamlessly work between both systems, making it easier to meet spatial challenges with Esri basemap visualizations directly within the Orbital Insight GO platform and export their analysis to ArcGIS.
The integration with Esri’s ArcGIS Platform provides an integral reference point for analysts as well as a more cohesive and natural user experience. More collaboration is planned, including eventually incorporating Esri’s geocoding technology into Orbital Insight GO.
Orbital Insight, founded in 2013, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to synthesize multiple sources of geospatial data—including satellite images, mobile location, connected cars, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices—into a unified platform that can identify objects; detect anomalies; and observe changes in land use, infrastructure, and human activities across the globe.
Orbital Insight executives recently demonstrated the new streamlined user experience at the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation‘s annual GEOINT Symposium for industry professionals, showing the ease of importing and exporting data between Orbital Insight GO and ArcGIS.
GO is currently being deployed in top security military networks that have long used Esri software. Companies across commercial sectors, particularly real estate, financial services, mining, and consumer packaged goods, are also using GO to monitor changes globally. The increasing customer overlap between the two companies was a primary driver for Orbital Insight to adopt ArcGIS Platform.
“We are proud to share with Orbital Insight the common goal of helping people make important decisions on a worldwide scale by taking a geographic approach,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “It only makes sense to make that process easier so our users can focus on what they do best.”
“Making that seamless was a really big hit,” said Jens Tellefsen, senior vice president of product and design for Orbital Insight. “We serve similar and overlapping sets of end users, and our analysis is often combined and visualized in the ArcGIS system. With our partnership, we have added ArcGIS basemaps in our application to provide a consistent user experience between Orbital Insight GO and ArcGIS. With our native ArcGIS data support, users can now easily add our analysis directly into ArcGIS with a few simple clicks, resulting in significant productivity improvement for geospatial analysts.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Dec 21. A Rocket Lab Reveal: The Neutron Rocket + The Hungry Hippo. The well-produced Rocket Lab Neutron video with Peter Beck is available for viewing at this direct link… Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) has revealed new details about their next generation Neutron launch vehicle. This advanced, 8-ton, payload class Neutron launch vehicle is designed to transform space access by delivering reliable and cost-effective launch services for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight. During a live streamed Neutron update, Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck revealed new details about Neutron’s unique design, materials, propulsion, and reusability architecture for the first time. Neutron will be the world’s first carbon composite large launch vehicle. Rocket Lab pioneered the use of carbon composite for orbital rockets with the Electron rocket, which has been delivering frequent and reliable access to space for government and commercial smallsats since 2018. Neutron’s structure will be comprised of a new, specially formulated carbon composite material that is lightweight, strong and can withstand the immense heat and forces of launch and re-entry again and again to enable frequent re-flight of the first stage. To enable rapid manufacturability, Neutron’s carbon composite structure will be made using an automated fiber placement system which can build meters of carbon rocket shell in minutes. Reusability is key to enabling frequent and affordable launch, so the ability to launch, land and lift-off again has been built into every aspect of Neutron’s design from day one. It starts with Neutron’s unique shape, a tapered rocket with a wide base to provide a robust, stable base for landing, eliminating the need for complex mechanisms and landing legs. This balanced structure also removes the need for bulky launch site infrastructure, including strongbacks and launch towers. Neutron will, instead, stand securely on its own legs for lift-off. After reaching space and deploying Neutron’s second stage, the first stage will return to Earth for a propulsive landing at the launch site, eliminating the high costs associated with ocean-based landing platforms and operations.
Neutron will be powered by an entirely new rocket engine, Archimedes. Designed and manufactured in-house by Rocket Lab, Archimedes is a reusable liquid oxygen / methane gas generator cycle engine capable of 1 meganewton thrust and 320 seconds of ISP. Seven Archimedes engines will propel Neutron’s first stage, with a single vacuum optimized Archimedes engine on the second stage. Neutron’s lightweight carbon composite structure means Archimedes does not need the immense performance and complexity typically associated with larger rockets and their propulsion systems. By developing a simple engine with modest performance requirements, the timeline for development and testing can be drastically accelerated. What makes Neutron’s design especially unique is the captive ‘Hungry Hippo’ fairing design. This innovative design will see the fairing form part of the first stage structure and remain fixed to the stage. Rather than separating from the stage and falling away to the ocean like traditional fairings, Neutron’s Hungry Hippo fairing jaws will open wide to release the second stage and payload, before closing again ready to return to Earth with the first stage. What lands back on the launch pad is a compete first stage with fairings attached, ready for a new second stage to be integrated and launched. This advanced design can speed up launch frequency, eliminates the high cost, low reliability method of capturing fairings at sea, and enables the second stage to be lightweight and nimble.
Thanks to Neutron’s ‘Hungry Hippo’ fairing design, the entire second stage will be completely enveloped within the Neutron’s first stage structure and fairing during launch. Thanks to this, Neutron’s second stage is designed to be the lightest in history to enable high performance for complex satellite deployments. Typically, a second stage forms part of the launch vehicle’s exterior structure and needs to provide strength to the vehicle from lift-off, exposing it to the harsh environments of the lower atmosphere during launch. By being housed inside the first stage and ‘Hungry Hippo’ fairing, the requirement for the second stage to withstand the launch environment is eliminated and the second stage can be made significantly lighter enabling higher performance in space. Designed as an expendable upper stage for now, Neutron’s second stage is a six-meter-long carbon composite structure with a single vacuum optimized Archimedes engine. Rocket Lab is currently working through a competitive process to select launch site, rocket production facility and Archimedes engine test facility on the U.S. East Coast. Rocket Lab expects to create around 250 new jobs to support the Neutron program with many roles open for application now.
“Neutron is not a conventional rocket. It’s a new breed of launch vehicle with reliability, reusability and cost reduction is hard baked into the advanced design from day one. Neutron incorporates the best innovations of the past and marries them with cutting edge technology and materials to deliver a rocket for the future,” said Mr. Beck. “More than 80% of the satellites to be launched in the next decade are expected to be constellations, which have unique deployment needs that Neutron is the first vehicle to address specifically. Like we did with Electron, rather than starting with a traditional rocket design, we focused on our customers’ needs and worked back from there. The result is a rocket that is right-sized for market demand and can launch fast, frequently and affordably.” (Source: Satnews)
05 Dec 21. Quintech + 5 Additional Companies Join The Digital IF Interoperability (DIFI) Consortium. Quintech Electronics, an Evertz company, has joined the DIFI Consortium, an independent, space industry group formed to advance interoperability in satellite and ground system networks. Quintech joins a growing roster of leading organizations in the space industry coming together to form the Digital IF Interoperability Consortium. These organizations are contributing to the innovation of digital transformation of space, satellite and related space technologies for the benefit of the industry.
Quintech President Frank Elling said,“ Quintech products and system solutions are designed for high reliability and maximized uptime providing years of maintenance free service. We emphasize the design and development of superior RF signal management and Digital IF products to provide the highest quality systems and solutions for our valued customers, particularly in the Government and Military space.“
The Digital IF Interoperability Consortium (DIFI) is an independent, international group of companies, organizations and government agencies that have an interest in the interoperability of networks and ground systems supporting space-based operations. Launched in coordination with the IEEE-ISTO, DIFI’s mission is to enable the digital transformation of space, satellite and related industries through a simple, interoperable Digital IF/RF standard that accelerates industry transformation from L-Band IF to Digital IF, while discouraging vendor lock-in. DIFI promotes standards in all satellite application areas where systems interoperability is needed or beneficial, including satcom, earth observation, remote sensing, TT&C, and more. The founding members of DIFI include Hawkeye 360, Intelsat Corp., Kongsberg Satellite Services AS (KSAT), Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., Microsoft, and the U.S. Navy. The DIFI board has approved version 1.0 of an interoperability standard based upon VITA 49, entitled IEEE-ISTO.
The Digital IF Interoperability Consortium (DIFI) also related that six new members from across industry sectors have joined the organization, including:
Genus Group, a provider of services supporting communications and satellite systems;
Isotropic Systems, a developer of transformational broadband terminal technologies;
Israel Aerospace Industries, Ltd. (IAI), Global leader in defense, aerospace, and commercial markets ;
Quintech Electronics & Communications, Inc., as indicated above…
Welkin Sciences, a developer of technologies that enable Digital IF earth terminal architectures; and
Work Microwave, a developer and manufacturer of RF electronics technologies and products.
DIFI members are coming together to support innovation and the digital transformation of space, satellite and related network technologies through the development of industry interoperability standards. In August, DIFI introduced version 1.0 of its interoperability standard based upon VITA 49, entitled IEEE-ISTO Std 4900-2021: Digital IF Interoperability Standard which can be downloaded at the Consortium’s website. This standard has already been specified in at least one major satellite communications RFI by the U.S. Army to support system interoperability.
“New members have been joining DIFI weekly,” said Stuart Daughtridge, Chairman of DIFI and SVP for Advanced Technologies at Kratos. “It is a testament to the importance that the industry places on the need for digital transformation, and it is particularly great to see that support for the DIFI standard is global, including new members from Germany and Israel. As members of DIFI working groups advance the scope, use, testing and certification of the standard, originally introduced more than three months ago, we continue to get closer to the goal of interoperability across space networks.” (Source: Satnews)
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