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14 Jan 22. Virgin Orbit mission success brings UK satellite launch one step closer. Satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall is a step closer following Virgin Orbit’s successful ‘Above the Clouds’ mission in the US. The UK Space Agency welcomes the news that Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its third mission from California on Thursday 13 January, launching several satellites into orbit from beneath the wing of a 747.
The UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council are supporting Virgin Orbit to launch satellites from Spaceport Cornwall, starting this summer, with the spaceport set to create 150 jobs in the local area.
One of the commercial satellites launched on the ‘Above the Clouds’ mission was manufactured in Scotland by Spire Global, a world-leading satellite company based in Glasgow. These satellites were shipped from Glasgow to California for the launch, which demonstrates the potential value to the UK satellite industry of having a new launch capability in the UK.
Spire Global’s ADLER-1 satellite is designed to help address the growing issue of space debris by gathering data about the environment in Low Earth Orbit.
UK Space Agency Deputy CEO Ian Annett said: “Congratulations to Virgin Orbit on another successful mission, which demonstrates the huge potential of innovative, air-launch technology to meet the needs of the modern satellite industry. Having an RAF pilot at the controls demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working closely with Virgin Orbit ahead of their first launch from Spaceport Cornwall later this year.”
The UK is home to some of the world’s leading satellite manufacturers, which currently ship their products overseas for launch. We are supporting them by fostering a new domestic launch market, with spaceports and launch operators providing services across the UK and catalysing investment from all over the world.
Virgin Orbit also launched two new Earth observation satellites designed by Polish company SatRevolution, which aim to support precision farming and agriculture with high-resolution images, demonstrating the growing environmental applications of small satellite technology.
Unlike many rockets, Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One takes off horizontally, carried aloft by a modified Boeing 747 jet, named Cosmic Girl, which was flown by Flight Lieutenant Mathew Stannard, a Royal Air Force pilot on secondment with Virgin Orbit.
This was Virgin Orbit’s third commercial flight. In January 2021 the company put its first satellites into space, after launching from California’s Mojave desert.
Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “With another successful launch, our partners Virgin Orbit are proving a new, more sustainable way for satellites to access space. We are so excited to bring this technology to UK soil, and to demonstrate how we can launch responsibly, create amazing jobs and inspire the nation.”
The UK Government’s National Space Strategy sets out how the UK will become the first country in Europe to launch satellites into orbit in 2022. Spaceport Cornwall is one of seven potential spaceport sites across the UK which will help to cement the UK’s role as a science superpower and help unleash a wave of innovation across the country. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
13 Jan 22. Planet to Launch 44 SuperDove Satellites on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket. Planet’s Flock 4x, consisting of 44 SuperDove satellites, is set to launch this Thursday, January 13th on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Transporter-3 SSO. This marks the first satellite launch under our new multi-year, multi-launch rideshare agreement with SpaceX. With this launch, Planet will have more than 240 satellites in orbit. Flock 4x is set to replenish our existing SuperDove fleet which makes up a portion of the larger constellation. The PlanetScope constellation images every terrestrial landmass on Earth by covering 350 million km² each day, providing images with approximately 3 meter per pixel resolution. This unprecedented capability provides our customers with daily data about Earth resources and global events.
Falcon 9 rocket holding 44 Planet SuperDoves on January 12, 2022. Image credit: SpaceX
“We are thrilled to be launching our latest flock with SpaceX. Their reliability and leadership in the launch market makes them a natural choice for this mission. Flock 4x will provide the PlanetScope constellation with the latest and strongest capabilities to help meet customer needs,” said Planet CEO Will Marshall.
To date, we’ve launched 83 satellites with SpaceX across seven launches. This first launch under our latest rideshare agreement with the launch provider marks an important moment in the current space renaissance. Over the last 10 years, rocket launches have dropped in price and increased in frequency while satellites have dramatically decreased in size, allowing for greater numbers of satellites to be launched on each rocket. The unprecedented amount of Earth imaging data our entire fleet collects enables global analytics of planetary activity and resources. With Flock 4x, our data products will continue to provide high-cadence Earth insights for governments, NGOs, and companies working in sustainability, disaster relief, financial management, and security. (Source: ASD Network)
13 Jan 22. SpaceChain Sends the World’s Fastest EVM Blockchain and Decentralized Ecosystem into Orbit . SpaceChain today announced the successful launch mission of its blockchain-enabled payload, integrated with the space node created for Velas Network AG, into space onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The payload was installed onto a satellite designed and manufactured by Spire Global, Inc., which also managed the launch mission. The mission marks SpaceChain’s sixth blockchain payload launch into space and the successful integration of Velas, the world’s fastest Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) blockchain and open-source platform for decentralized applications, with its payload.
Velas is a next-generation self-learning blockchain ecosystem project that implements an AI-powered Delegated Proof-of-Stake (AIDPOS) consensus mechanism for improved scalability, high security and interoperability. Its suite of centralized and decentralized solutions includes researching state-of-the-art cryptography, developing consensus protocols, and designing intuitive user interfaces for Web 3.0.
Velas will leverage the enhanced security and immutability of space-grade infrastructure designed and deployed by SpaceChain for advancing its decentralized projects and applications. Once tested and activated, the space node will enable Velas to further the development and deployment of its blockchain platform, which aims to be one of the most secure and fastest platforms in the industry.
“Blockchain platforms and next-generation fintech applications require a decentralized infrastructure in order to fulfil their fullest potential. We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Spire to help propel Velas into space and uncover new opportunities in the New Space Economy,” said Zee Zheng, SpaceChain co-founder and CEO. “Today’s milestone is testament to the increasing adoption of space-as-a-service as a platform for innovation among modern businesses and those looking to be at the forefront of what the commercial space age has to offer.”
The space node created for Velas will also enable highly secure on-orbit services for Ethereum transactions sent and received from the ground, and the minting of an ERC-721 standard non-fungible token (NFT).
“The new epoch in the development of blockchain technology is right upon us, with the space economy opening up new horizons for both the technology and its users,” said Farkhad Shagulyamov, co-founder and CEO of Velas. “Velas is one of the first blockchain networks to engage into this space race and aims to put its payload on the International Space Station (ISS) ultimately. Having a node on the ISS is a challenging task as NASA goes through a rigorous evaluation and approval process. We are confident that both Velas and SpaceChain possess the required technical expertise and resources to achieve this vision.”
Today’s mission was made possible by the integration of industry-leading technologies and capabilities through the partnership between SpaceChain and Spire Global, which was first announced in September 2021. Spire is utilizing its space-based AI-embedded supercomputing module “SABERTOOTH” to complement SpaceChain’s decentralized satellite network (DSI) to help Velas sharpen its competitive edge and overcome land-based centralized infrastructure challenges.
“SpaceChain’s unparalleled expertise in deploying space-grade infrastructure for the blockchain industry helps skyrocket our business to new frontiers,” said Dragos Dumitrascu, head of global partnerships at Velas. “Similarly, SpaceChain will stand to benefit immensely from one of the fastest blockchain technologies ever developed in advancing its decentralized architecture and community-based space platform.”
SpaceChain fosters decentralized infrastructure for the New Space Economy. By combining space and blockchain technologies SpaceChain is making the development of space applications easier and making space more accessible. For more information, visit www.spacechain.com.
(Source: PR Newswire)
13 01 22. D-Orbit, the leading company in space logistics and orbital transportation, announced today the launch of the latest mission of its orbital transportation vehicle (OTV), ION Satellite Carrier, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX’s Transporter-3 mission launched today at 15:25 UTC (10:25 a.m. EST) from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida. On the same day, 1hour 24minutes 30seconds after liftoff, the ION vehicle was successfully deployed into a 500 km Sun synchronous orbit (SSO).
ION Satellite Carrier is an OTV designed, manufactured, and operated by D-Orbit to transport satellites into orbit and release them individually into distinct and precise orbital slots in the shortest time possible. ION can also host multiple third-party payloads such as innovative technologies, experiments from research entities, and instruments requiring testing in orbit.
During this mission, dubbed “DASHING THROUGH THE STARS”, ION will deploy customer spacecraft, perform the in-orbit demonstration of third-party payloads, and validate several innovative features that will be available to customers on future missions.
After completion of the usual Launch and Early Orbit phase (LEOP) operations, ION will begin its primary mission, deploying the satellites. This mission’s manifest again includes clients from around the world, like Lockheed Martin, with a satellite developed in collaboration with the University of Southern California Space Engineering Research Center for the testing of complex vision processing algorithms, SatRevolution, with a group of satellites for Earth Observation and scientific purposes, and the Czech Aerospace Research Centre (VZLU) in cooperation with Spacemanic, with a satellite testing technologies for future missions of the Czech satellite constellation.
Once the deployment phase is completed, ION will begin the on-orbit testing of third-party payloads, including the second phase of testing of D-Orbit’s cloud platform designed to provide distributed high-performance data analytics computing and storage capabilities in space. For this mission, D-Orbit is working in collaboration with Unibap and the European Space Agency (ESA) who are supporting the in-orbit test of a hyperspectral electro-optical instrument developed by research institution VTT. This platform allows third parties to upload and execute cloud applications and AI workloads to process images as soon as they are created, allowing results to be sent to users in record time. The first test campaign, which took place during ION’s previous mission, successfully executed 23 separate SpaceCloud compatible applications from a variety of partners.
This on-orbit testing phase of the mission will also include the validation of ARCA by CYSEC SA, a hardened operating system with a built-in cryptographic service and key management system to provide end-to-end cyber security protection for satellite communications.
“The beginning of a new mission is always exciting, regardless of how many times you have been through it,” commented Luca Rossettini, CEO of D-Orbit. “Now, some of the activities feel almost routine but we like to set ourselves new challenges, achieve new milestones, and offer to our customers new advanced services on top of the well-proven ones. I’m proud that our services are helping the ecosystem to grow faster: cooperation is the new keyword for space, and this mission is a demonstration that cooperation moves the growth way beyond competition”.
The mission, including operations on payloads, will be managed by D-Orbit’s mission controllers through Aurora, the company’s proprietary cloud-based mission control software suite that enables satellite operators to manage and control multiple payloads simultaneously, from any location in the world, without having to invest in their own saving all the expenses connected with software design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
D-Orbit launched its first ION in September 2020 aboard an Arianespace VEGA launcher, followed by two further missions flown in January 2021 and June 2021 aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-1 and Transporter-2 missions respectively. With this mission, the Company will have launched to space collectively more than 70 payloads.
While getting ready to perform this mission, the D-Orbit team is already working on future missions, with the next planned for April 2022,
13 Jan 22. Aussie start-up Hypersonix set to build zero-emission spaceplane. It would be capable of deploying small satellites into low-Earth orbit, according to the company. The Aerospace engineering company signed a Master Research Collaboration Agreement (MRCA) with the University of Sydney to research and develop the supersonic spaceplane, which will commence early this year.
It comes as the space industry continues to ramp up sustainable operations, in a bid to reduce space junk and increase overall efficiency.
Spaceplanes are vehicles that glide through space just like aircraft in the Earth’s atmosphere, but are capable of deploying satellites and other payloads into space, similar to reusable rockets.
If successful, it would become the first Australian-designed spaceplane, and one of the very few – after NASA’s Space Shuttle and Boeing’s X-37 – to become a commercial reality.
The vehicle – dubbed Delta Velos – would be powered by four green hydrogen-fuelled scramjet (supersonic-combustion ramjet) engines, enabling carbon neutral propulsion, according to Hypersonix.
It would also include the first 3D-printed fixed geometry scramjet in Australia, completed under a grant awarded to the company in 2020.
According to NASA, a scramjet is an engine in which airflow through it remains supersonic, or greater than the speed of sound.
In March 2021, Hypersonix and Boeing Australia signed a joint agreement to study the sustainability of scramjets in space, in hopes it would also be found as a cost-effective alternative to rockets.
University of Sydney’s researchers will develop flight-critical components, including its launch system, further versions of the scramjet and vehicle fuselage.
It is led by materials engineer Professor Simon Ringer from the university, alongside Hypersonix chief technology officer Dr Michael Smart.
“We are delighted to be working alongside such an innovative, deep technology company like Hypersonix using advanced 3D printing processes and world-class additive manufacturing facilities for such an important challenge,” Professor Ringer said.
“Additive manufacturing is making the previously impossible, possible.
“This includes the proposed manufacture of satellite-launching spaceplane components right here at the University of Sydney’s Darlington campus, situated in the very heart of Tech Central,” Professor Ringer added.
From 2022, Hypersonix will work on a series of small proof-of-concept launch vehicles to demonstrate the spaceplane’s success, according to the company.
The first is called DART AE – a smaller version of Delta – which will be powered by one scramjet engine, with a range of 500 kilometres.
It is set to launch in the first quarter of 2023, the company said.
It comes 11 years after NASA’s Space Shuttle ended, which was the very first successful spaceplane to exist, first launched in 1981.
It flew 135 missions up until 2011 and helped build the International Space Station, which remains the most vital home for space research in low-Earth orbit. (Source: Space Connect)
11 Jan 22. Boeing offers Wideband Global SATCOM under JP9102. The global defence and aerospace giant Boeing has lauded the features of its latest satellite communications platform, proposing its capabilities for the JP9102 project.
Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) is set to offer its next generation Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system for the Australian Defence Force, as part of its bid to deliver rapidly deployable, resilient and reliable defence satellite communications capability under the JP9102 project.
The $3 billion Commonwealth government project is focused on reducing Australia’s reliance on the United States’ defence capabilities, including the US military’s Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS).
The Boeing-led team is competing against a host of other major contractors, including Airbus, Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA), Northrop Grumman Australia and telecommunications giant Optus.
The company has committed to building on its latest WGS-11+ offering – in development by the US military – in an effort to deliver “substantially more efficiency, connectivity and resilience”.
“Using the WGS-11+ design gives Australia a low-risk, proven next-generation satellite product which will meet Defence’s rapid delivery schedule,” Matt Buckle, space and launch business director at Boeing Defence Australia, said.
Boeing has pledged to leverage its experience in the field while also onboarding the support of local firms, including Saber Astronautics, Clearbox Systems, Leidos, ViaSat, Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium and Titomic.
“When coupled with UHF payloads currently provided by Boeing to the US and Australian governments, and a locally-developed mission systems architecture, it puts us in a unique position to deliver an interoperable solution which maximises reuse of JP 2008 infrastructure while providing a resilient and flexible SATCOM capability for the future,” Buckle continued.
Buckle also noted the importance of Boeing’s partnership with the Australian Space Agency, formalised in 2019 with the signing of a statement of strategic intent.
“We have since collaborated on multiple projects including providing technical support on capability roadmaps, advancing antimicrobial testing for space missions and developing simulation software which is currently used in the United States for rocket tests and satellite launches,” he added.
Boeing is also expected to leverage several other global research and development partnerships in recent years, including:
- a 32-year partnership with CSIRO comprising research programs on space situational awareness, space manufacturing and materials, on-orbit image processing and analytics;
- local research arm, Boeing Research and Technology-Australia’s development of innovations including artificial reality training and weather server and remote testing technology;
- collaborations with universities, including the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT and the University of Melbourne; and
- investment in STEM programs such as the Australian Space Design Competition and Future U.
“We stand ready to continue our track record of building in-country capability, generating local jobs and talent, establishing export opportunities for Australian small businesses, and nurturing the next generation of space innovators,” Buckle said. The JP9102 tender closed on 10 January. (Source: Defence Connect)
12 Jan 22. Agency Addresses Hypersonic Vehicle Detection, Satellite Survivability. The Space Development Agency will be fielding satellites that will provide eyes-on capability to detect maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicles during flight, and those satellites will be affordable and prolific, the SDA director said.
Speaking today at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ Schriever Spacepower Forum, Derek Tournear said satellites in low-Earth orbit, or LEO, will make up the tracking layer that will be able to detect hypersonic threats by their heat signatures, eventually on a global scale.
Satellites in LEO can detect those dim heat signatures better than satellites in higher orbits, he added. Also, if there are several satellites doing the tracking, getting a geometric fix on a hypersonic threat is much more precise.
The next step that would occur in near-real time is that the transport layer of satellites would then move data from the tracking satellites down to the shooter for a fire-control solution at the Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Tournear said.
Those tracking satellites will communicate directly with the transport satellites via laser optical cross links, which can rapidly move large amounts of data.
By September 2024, plans are that 144 transport layer satellites will begin to be launched; that will result in initial warfighting capability, forming a mesh network, he said.
In 2024 or 2025, 28 tracking layer satellites will be launched, resulting in global coverage, he said.
SDA is working in two-year cycles to leverage spiral development of new technologies and launch additional satellites in tranches in that timeframe going forward, he said.
The commercial sector has enabled the growth of this military capability as the prices of satellites and rocket launches have plummeted and as technology has dramatically improved, he said.
Addressing concerns about overcrowding space with satellites, Tournear said space is big, and the higher one goes up in low-Earth orbit, the more room there is.
There’s currently a lot of satellite congestion in the 400- to 600-kilometer area above the Earth, he said. SDA is looking to place its satellites in the 1,000- to 1,200-kilometer range.
The goal of putting a large number of small satellites in space, he said, is to create redundancy in the event an adversary tries to take them out with anti-satellite weapons. It would be much harder to disable the network.
The SDA, established in March 2019, will fully transition to the Space Force in October 2022, Tournear noted. (Source: US DoD)
12 Jan 22. NASA begins process of bringing new space telescope into focus. NASA on Wednesday embarked on a months-long, painstaking process of bringing its newly launched James Webb Space Telescope into focus, a task due for completion in time for the revolutionary eye in the sky to begin peering into the cosmos by early summer. Mission control engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, began by sending their initial commands to tiny motors called actuators that slowly position and fine-tune the telescope’s principal mirror. Consisting of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, the primary mirror measures 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 m) in diameter – a much larger light-collecting surface than Webb’s predecessor, the 30-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. The 18 segments, which had been folded together to fit inside the cargo bay of the rocket that carried the telescope to space, were unfurled with the rest of its structural components during a two-week period following Webb’s launch on Dec. 25. Those segments must now be detached from fasteners that held them in place for the launch and then moved forward half an inch from their original configuration – a 10-day process – before they can be aligned to form a single, unbroken, light-collecting surface. The alignment will take an additional three months, Lee Feinberg, the Webb optical telescope element manager at Goddard, told Reuters by telephone. Aligning the primary mirror segments to form one large mirror means each segment “is aligned to one-five-thousandth the thickness of a human hair”, Feinberg said.
“All of this required us to invent things that had never been done before,” such as the actuators, which were built to move incrementally at -400 Fahrenheit (-240 Celsius) in the vacuum of space, he added.
The telescope’s smaller, secondary mirror, designed to direct light collected from the primary lens into Webb’s camera and other instruments, must also be aligned to operate as part of a cohesive optical system.
If all goes as planned, the telescope should be ready to capture its first science images in May, which would be processed over about another month before they can be released to the public, Feinberg said.
The $9bn telescope, described by NASA as the premier space-science observatory of the next decade, will mainly view the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born. Hubble has operated primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble, enabling it to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
Astronomers say this will bring into view a glimpse of the cosmos never previously seen – dating to just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical flashpoint that set in motion the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) was the primary contractor. (Source: Reuters)
11 Jan 22. Intuidex Teams With Quub to Launch Next-Gen PicoSatellite on SpaceX Rocket. Satellites with this type of sensor functionality have traditionally taken months, if not years, to build and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. In contrast, these next-gen picosats take a matter of days to build with commercially available, off-the-shelf parts with a parts cost of less than $50 thousand. However, it’s their technology that makes them just as functional as their larger and much more expensive cousins. We’ve married two best-of-breed technologies to create something marvelous. Quub produces best-in-class low-SWaP2 picosats: low-size, low-weight, low-power and low-price. We are able to deploy flocks of picosats with various sensor types including electro-optical, LiDAR and SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) that can stay in orbit for up to five years with little or no debris upon re-entry. But the real game-changer is the on-board technology in processing this sensor data. At Intuidex, we provide the proprietary HO-LRL™ (Higher-Order Low-Resource Learning) technology. Our technology processes and fuses multiple-source sensor data and quickly identifies objects and events with high accuracy, even in situations where limited data is available for making decisions. This is all edge-based processing on-board the picosats, meaning the object and event detection, fusion and alerting is performed entirely on-board the picosat in milliseconds, resulting in actionable alerts in down-linked systems in near-real-time. This is the very same machine learning technology that’s in Intuidex’s Watchman Analytics™ Suite, a successful analytics platform that has been proven in both the defense and public safety vertical markets.
The upcoming launch is the first-ever picosat of its type to be launched in the United States. According to Dr. Bill Pottenger, CEO for Intuidex, “The first of many, this launch is opening up a new market for space data as a service.” Launch Information: https://www.spacex.com or https://spacecoastlaunches.com/launch-schedule (Source: PR Newswire)
11 Jan 22. US Space Force considers purchasing weather data as a service. The U.S. Space Force is developing an acquisition strategy to buy weather data as a service and may release an official solicitation later this year. While the Department of Defense has historically relied on its own electro-optical satellites to generate weather data for military operations, those satellites are aging and the Space Force is interested in using commercial providers to supply some of that data instead.
In a new request for information, the Space Force asks industry for cost and schedule estimates to inform its strategy, noting that it may release a formal request for bids in late fiscal 2022 with hopes to begin acquiring weather data in fiscal 2025.
“The government is interested in obtaining weather data as a service that is contractor-developed, owned and operated with limited government investment in the initial or prototype capability,” the request states. “The government envisions acquiring a service that provides an initial capability for operationally usable weather data and allows expansion to a more capably future service as a contract option.”
Upfront funding for the program may be limited, the Space Force notes, but the agreement will likely include options for increased capability and investment through fiscal 2040.
The notice follows three other transaction authority awards the service made in 2020 for industry prototypes to support its Electro-Optical/Infrared Weather System program. EWS is designed to meet the cloud characterization and theater imagery requirements currently provided by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites. The follow-on capability will provide military users with more reliable and timely weather forecasting data.
Raytheon, General Atomics and Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates were the recipients of the initial EWS awards issued by the Space Enterprise Consortium, and the Space Force recently awarded follow-on funding to Raytheon and General Atomics. The service has said it plans to choose one of the three companies this spring to demonstrate its prototype on orbit.
The Space Force expects the EWS as a service capability to begin in fiscal 2025, which aligns with the timeline for launching the EWS demonstration satellite.
The remaining DMSP satellites are expected to age out between 2023 and 2026. While EWS will address two of the top projected capability gaps, the service is pursuing a separate effort, Weather Satellite Follow-on Microwave (WSF-M), which will help the military characterize tropical cyclone intensity, measure ocean surface wind speed and monitor energetic charged particles in the space environment.
Ball Aerospace is building the first WSF-M satellite, which is scheduled to launch in late 2023. (Source: Defense News)
11 Jan 22. Gilmour Space conducts Australia’s largest rocket engine test. Rocket engineers at Gilmour Space Technologies have successfully test-fired a 110-kilonewton rocket engine, the most powerful ever developed in Australia. The 75-second test was a major milestone for Gilmour Space, which is developing Australian-made rockets that will, over the next five years, be capable of launching 300- to 4,000-kilogram satellites and payloads into low earth and other orbits.
“What you see here is the main engine that will power the first and second stages of our three-stage Eris rocket to space,” explained company CEO, Adam Gilmour. At just over 110 kilonewtons (or 25,000 pound-force) of thrust, the test generated enough force to lift four SUVs off the ground — a significant demonstration of space and launch capability by an Australian SME.
“It was a successful test. We achieved our expected full thrust of 110 kN over the 75 seconds, and our team will be moving on to the final engine qualification campaign next month,” he added.
Strategically, the test was also a demonstration of Australia’s first sovereign launch capability. “It is no small thing to say that we’ve developed Australia’s largest rocket engine; and that it could have significant flow-on benefits for the commercial, civil and defence space sectors,” he added.
On where and when Eris will be launched, Mr Gilmour said the company was currently seeking approvals from state and federal government agencies to green light a small orbital spaceport at the Abbot Point State Development Area in Bowen, North Queensland.
“With timely assessments and approvals from relevant authorities, we hope to be able to launch Australia’s first sovereign-made rocket from Queensland sometime in the latter half of 2022.” (Source: Rumour Control)
11 Jan 22. Rival teams submit their bids for JP9102 SATCOM program. Rival prime contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin Australia have submitted their bids for Defence’s sovereign SATCOM project, JP9102. It’s expected other bidders, including Airbus and Optus, will also confirm some details of their proposals for this estimated $3bn program. Boeing’s bid is based on the U.S. military’s Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system in which the ADF is already a participant, having paid for one of the WGS satellites itself. Boeing’s JP9102 offering builds on the capability developed for WGS-11+, the newest addition to the WGS constellation.
“Using the WGS-11+ design gives Australia a low-risk, proven next-generation satellite product which will meet Defence’s rapid delivery schedule,” said Matt Buckle, Space and Launch business director at Boeing Defence Australia.
Boeing’s solution will also feature a local supply chain including Saber Astronautics, Clearbox Systems, Leidos, ViaSat, Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium and Titomic and includes a substantial investment in Australian industry capabilities to deliver sovereign defence SATCOM for Australia.
“When coupled with UHF payloads currently provided by Boeing to the U.S. and Australian governments, and a locally-developed mission systems architecture, it puts us in a unique position to deliver an interoperable solution which maximises reuse of JP2008 infrastructure while providing a resilient and flexible SATCOM capability for the future,” said Buckle.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s bid also has a strong Australian supply chain designed to provide a sovereign MILSATCOM capability with superior coverage, capacity, resilience, and extensibility.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s JP9102 team developed an agile solution that will contribute to the ongoing growth of the nation’s sovereign space capabilities, according to David Ball, the company’s regional director for space. Australian industry capability is represented in every aspect of its JP9102 solution, from control segment software and ground stations to satellite operations facilities and spacecraft.
“From the beginning of this campaign, Lockheed Martin maximised Australia’s in-country space capabilities for JP9102,” said David Ball. “The space industry here brings a vast, diverse network of capabilities, and we’re already seeing two-way transfers of skills, know-how and technology. Spearheaded by Lockheed Martin’s unparalleled heritage in resilient MILSATCOM, our JP9102 team stands united and ready to deliver.”
Linfox is the latest addition to the company’s Australian supply chain and will provide support through warehouse provisioning and distribution operations. It joins an extensive network of Australian SMEs and team members: DXC, Conscia, Av-Comm, Calytrix Technologies, EM Solutions, Shoal Group, Clearbox Systems, STEM Punks and Ronson Gears. (Source: Rumour Control)
10 Jan 22. What will the US Space Force be able to do with its new GPS III variant? The U.S. Space Force has yet to launch all of the GPS III satellites at its disposal, but work on new, more powerful versions is already underway. New GPS III Follow-on satellites — or GPS IIIF for short — will continue to improve the constellation’s accuracy and protection against jamming.
GPS III satellites are already a substantial upgrade to the current constellation, providing three times greater accuracy and eight times better anti-jamming capability than their predecessors. In addition to introducing a new civil signal that is compatible with other navigation satellite systems, the five GPS III satellites on orbit completed the space component of M-code — an even more secure and accurate signal for military use.
The Space Force has launched five of the planned GPS III satellites, and three more have been declared “available for launch” but are waiting in storage with prime contractor Lockheed Martin. The remaining two are undergoing testing.
The Space Force has a contract with Lockheed for up to 22 GPS IIIF satellites. The service already exercised contract options for seven GPS IIIF satellites, with the most recent award taking place in October 2021, when Space Systems Command issued $737m to the company for three more satellites.
GPS IIIF satellites will be more advanced than their predecessors. Most notably, the new space systems will prove a new Regional Military Protection capability, a steerable M-code signal that can concentrate the effect in a specified region. RMP can provide up to 60 times greater anti-jamming measures, helping ensure soldiers can access critical position, navigation and timing data in contested environments.
Other new features include a laser retroreflector array to increase accuracy; an upgraded nuclear detection detonation system payload; and a search and rescue payload.
Starting with the third GPS IIIF space vehicle, the satellites will be built with Lockheed’s LM2100 Combat Bus, specifically designed for military use. The company claims its new bus, which will also be used for the Space Force’s next missile warning satellites, will have greater resiliency and cyber protections, more power, and better propulsion.
And thanks to a new port on the LM2100 bus, it will be possible to upgrade GPS IIIF satellites on orbit. The company’s Augmentation System Port Interface essentially works as a USB port for the satellite, allowing the Space Force to launch new payloads into space that can be plugged into the system. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
07 Jan 22. SWAC ponders acquisition strategy, limits of user terminals in future SATCOM plan. Asked by Breaking Defense when a final product might be available, SWAC official David Voss quipped, “Not fast enough from what we’ve been told.”
As Space Force’s new Space Warfighting Analysis Center works to develop a blueprint for a future military satellite communications macro-network that can underpin Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), planners’ eyes are firmly fixed on both the needs of warfighters and the constraints on their capabilities to actually utilize new capabilities, according to a senior SWAC official.
It is the center’s job to figure out a so-called force design that lays out not only the types of space-based capabilities needed (which orbits, how and when to use radio frequency versus optical satellite comms, etc.), but also how to structure an acquisition program to get them. And the team under David Voss, director of the Spectrum Warfare Center of Excellence at the SWAC, is under pressure to come out with solutions as quickly as possible in order to affect upcoming budget planning cycles, and get new capabilities to the field in the near term.
Asked by Breaking Defense when a final product might be available, Voss quipped, “Not fast enough from what we’ve been told.”
Space Force’s goal is to develop a “hybrid architecture,” one that would see satellites stationed across all orbital domains — Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) — and include commercial satellites, allowing users to “hop” between them to avoid jamming.
The concept stems from Space Force chief Gen. Jay Raymond’s 2020 Vision for Enterprise Satellite Communications (SATCOM). This would involve mixing small constellations of large, exquisite and expensive military satellites (mostly in GEO) with constellations of smaller, less costly-but-still-bespoke satellites dispersed into LEO and MEO. Creating that architecture, which would include commercial space systems and services, will not be easy, nor cheap.
The questions involved in developing such a force design are incredibly complex, Voss said in a webinar today at the Mitchell Institute.
“As you can imagine, there’s a lot of complexity and in an architecture such as this,” he said, “there’s a lot of what I like to refer to as ‘competing value function analysis.’ There are many great ways to tackle this problem.”
Two key questions are the composition of the on-orbit architecture and how quickly user terminals (i.e. radios) used by soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can be either upgraded or replaced — and if the latter, whether that is cost prohibitive in the near term.
Bespoke Satellites Vs. Commercial Options
Voss said that the range of options for how new on-orbit capabilities might be bought is huge, from the Defense Department buying and flying a bunch of their own, new satellites to populate LEO and MEO to provide backup to today’s milsatcom birds largely based in GEO, to Space Force simply buying services from commercial providers.
“Within an acquisition model, there is at kind of one end of the trade space, what happens if the DoD really procured the majority of this hybrid architecture approach? Or what if we had a very robust commercial, multi-orbit space capability that we embrace and we had more of the DoD focus on the protected layer?” he said.
This question of the balance of military and commercial SATCOM has been an issue of debate for years, and up to now, to industry and congressional chagrin, DoD has tended to come down on the side of buying bespoke (i.e. non-commercial) satellites. That is changing as Space Force’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO) relooks its strategy, particularly regarding small sats in LEO and MEO, but slowly.
Addressing The Terminal Conundrum
The issue of ensuring that SATCOM terminals, which are developed and bought by the individual services to meet their own needs, with the actual capabilities of satellites built in the past by the Air Force and now by the Space Force, has been a perennial disaster zone. (Just ask anyone involved in the long saga of the encrypted GPS M-Code signal.)
But the SWAC is grabbing that bucking bull by the horns, news that will be music to the ears of the long-suffering Army.
“From a Space Force standpoint, we really want to be very cognizant and aware of the implication of the orbital deployment strategy to the user hardware going forward,” Voss said.
“We’re evaluating the application of the orbital deployments against a variety of user terminal applications is maybe the way to phrase that,” he elaborated. “So, you can envision a handful of implications for users.”
Voss explained that they are looking at how a new on-orbit architecture might accommodate three “categories of user equipment.”
“We’re trying to wrap our heads around what happens if we had user equipment that had the minimal amount of change — you weren’t allowed to touch the hardware?” he said. “What can we do in space to help enable JADC2 concepts for those users where they can’t really upgrade or change their terminals? That’s kind of the first category.”
A second category, he explained, encompasses terminals that have hardware or firmware or even “front-end analog circuitry” that could be upgraded, but is still fundamentally constrained by size and weight factors.
“And then the third category is what happens if we kind of had a clean slate, and we were able to embrace this hybrid terminal construct that is able to roam across LEO or GEO and different service providers — which is definitely… a new terminal procurement with a very large cost implication for our partners within the different services.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
05 Jan 22. Euroconsult Projects Government Space Project Budgets To Reach $1bn During The Next Decade. Euroconsult has released their highly anticipated “Government Space Programs” report for 2021. The highlight of this year’s findings is a continued, even accelerated, volume of governmental investment in the space sector, driven by two major drivers: ambitious space exploration programs by leading space countries and rivalries driving the militarization of space.
Euroconsult’s “Government Space Programs” flagship market intelligence report draws on 36 years of experience to provide readers with unrivaled insight into the prevailing strategic space trends
Despite a year of uncertainty, the space sector has received record government investment totaling over $92bn, an 8% increase compared to 2020. Civilian space budgets, totaling $53bn in 2021, continue to receive more funding than defense space programs, at 58% of total spending, though the share going to defense, $39bn in 2021, is increasing.
Geopolitical tensions, increasing rivalry between leading space powers and the value of space as the ultimate high ground drive the militarization of space trend, with leaders increasing their investments in defense space assets and technologies.
This year’s edition of the report takes a close look at the surge of public funding intended to shore up the space industry against the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government Space Programs 2021 provides details on national space programs’ spending priorities, as well as two potential 10 year forecast scenarios, digested into negative and optimistic models.
For only the second year in the long history of this report, Government Space Programs is now available on Euroconsult’s Digital Platform, a powerful tool packed with premium features to help customers easily sort, compare, customize and visualize datasets of their choice.
With a few clicks, Premium Users can now sift through the thousands of data points included in the entire database to create customized datasets tailored to their specific needs.
A long running paragon of the trademark methodology that has made Euroconsult a global leader for in-depth data and reliable intelligence for the space sector, “Government Space Programs” offers 89 country profiles in exhaustive detail, including analysis on policy & strategic objectives, Governance tables and organigrammes, Space Expenditures, Civil Space Programs, Defense & Security Space Programs, Missions Road Maps, and more.
In addition to this valuable data granularity, “Government Space Programs” sets the industry benchmark for usability and transparency, with features appealing to government, industrial, and satellite operator readers in particular.
Access to Euroconsult’s extensive database provides customers an exclusive look “behind the curtain” with thousands of data points for annual space budgets from 1990 to 2030. Detailed Country Fact Sheets provide key, high-level take-aways, providing key information on national space programs quickly and easily.
These include total 2021 space budgets with five-year CAGR, top 3 applications, space spending per capita and as a % of GDP as well as select high-profile missions and satellites.
New in this year’s edition, the “Government Space Programs” forecast, its foremost feature, has now been extended to 2030. In addition, “country pages” on the Digital Platform further implement ease of use functionalities by linking directly to official online resources for government space policies, strategies, budgets and legislation.
Finally, the report includes more detailed governance organigrammes, illustrating the relationships between government bodies and institutions, to help readers navigate complex decision-making processes and better understand the policy making landscapes and players.
“Government Space Programs” is a must-read and the essential tool to understand the state and drivers of all space programs worldwide. Euroconsult’s highly-regarded and repeatedly trend-setting analysis is now enhanced by its innovative Digital Platform, providing leading-edge insight and unmatched perspective on the evolution of government investments in space.
Premium customers now benefit from the full range of powerful tools on the Digital Platform for easy data management, visualization and export, in addition to the Classic version including expansive Excel database.
The Euroconsult Group is a leading global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm specialized in the space sector and satellite enabled verticals. Privately owned and fully independent, the company has more than 30 years of experience providing first-class strategic consulting, developing comprehensive market intelligence programs, organizing executive-level annual summits and training programs for the satellite industry. Euroconsult accompanies private companies and government entities in strategic decision making, providing end-to-end consulting services, from project strategy definition to implementation, bringing data-led perspectives on the most critical issues. Clients are assisted in understanding their business environment and are provided with the tools they need to make informed decisions and to further develop their business. The Euroconsult Group is trusted by 600 clients in more than 50 countries and is headquartered in France, with offices in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. (Source: Satnews)
03 Jan 22. Sidus Space Enhances Their Facilities That Include A New Cleanroom For LizzieSat™ Constellation Builds. Sidus Space, Inc. (NASDAQ:SIDU) is constructing a new, state of the art cleanroom to support the production, testing and integration of the LizzieSat™ satellite constellation.
LizzieSats (LS) are 3D manufactured, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) smallsats that are focused on the rapid, cost-effective development and testing of upcoming innovative spacecraft technologies for multiple customers. LS is a 100 kg. (220 pound) satellite with space to efficiently integrate customer sensors and technologies. In addition to preparing for production on LizzieSat™, Sidus Space is ramping up for work on recently awarded contracts that includes a multi-million dollar agreement supporting one of America’s largest, private companies. Other facility enhancements include improved network connectivity with fiber optic internet, an industrial grade epoxy shop floor, new LED light fixtures throughout the facility, additional workstations and office spaces for the growing employee team and a state-of-the-art cleanroom. Sidus anticipates that the new workspace will be completed in the next month. The Sidus Space ISO 100,000 cleanroom, with more than 800 square feet of continuous space, was designed with high-end, precision engineering. The self-contained space will allow for the simultaneous cleanroom processing of as many as six LizzieSats as they progress through the integration, assembly and test phases of development. The HEPA Fan Filter Units (FFUs) to be installed in the cleanroom will provide up to 808 CFM (at high speed) and will remove 99.99% of particles >/= 0.3 microns in diameter. The modular system allows for expansion and reconfiguration as needed to accommodate custom applications. The manufacturer of the cleanroom, Terra Universal, is the leading manufacturer of critical environment applications, with over 40 years of design and fabrication experience in cleanroom- and laboratory-based industries.
“Cleanrooms safely protect satellites or spacecraft components from particles, residues, or bio-films that corrode electrical systems, hinder performance, or reduce satellite lifetime. Our top priority is to ensure each satellite and all of their related components meet the highest level of quality required to launch into space before they reach orbit so that they will perform successfully in the space environment. I am very proud of our team and their tremendous skillset as they continually support our customers,” said Carol Craig, CEO of Sidus Space.
Sidus Space (NASDAQ:SIDU) located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, operates from a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing, assembly, integration, and testing facility. Sidus Space focuses on commercial satellite design, manufacture, launch, and data collection, with a mission of Bringing Space Down to Earth™ and a vision of enabling space flight heritage status for new technologies while delivering data and predictive analytics to domestic and global customers. Sidus Space makes it easy for any corporation, industry, or vertical to start their journey off-planet with our rapidly scalable, low-cost satellite services, space-based solutions, and testing alternatives. More than just a “Satellite-as-a-Service” provider, we become your trusted Mission Partner from concept to Low Earth Orbit and beyond. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.