Sponsored By Viasat
20 Jan 22. Viasat’s New Large-Aperture Space-to-Ground Communication Antennas Ready to Support Lunar, Cislunar, Deep Space and DoD Missions.
Viasat Inc., a global communications company, today announced the availability of its most advanced class of large-aperture antennas, which will be capable of providing the United States and other spacefaring nations with enhanced space-to-ground communications for upcoming Earth observation missions, manned and unmanned missions to the Moon, Mars and other deep space and Department of Defense (DoD) initiatives.
The new class of full-motion multi-band antennas, which range from 19.7 to 24.0 meters in diameter, offer revolutionary capability enhancements when compared to other legacy solutions that still use decades old technology. Viasat’s key antenna enhancements include:
- Full-motion high-dynamic pedestal with precise tracking that will support current and future multi-orbit missions from low earth orbit (LEO) to Lunar and beyond;
- An integrated radio frequency (RF) architecture paired with precision reflector surface accuracy to enable enhanced operation from L-band to above Ka-band;
- Robust suite of software leveraging 20 years of delivering the highest levels of cyber security standards;
- RF designs that support use of extremely high-power amplifiers in multiple bands enabling advanced mission requirements; and
- Advanced high-rate modems that will support emerging industry standard interfaces and software defined radio (SDR) frameworks to enable future virtualized architectures.
“There is tremendous interest in earth observation, defense-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and deep space/lunar link communications, which our latest class of full-motion large-aperture antennas were built for,” said Kent Leka, vice president and general manager, Antenna Systems, Viasat. “In fact, it only requires a handful of Viasat’s large-aperture antennas strategically positioned around the globe to provide constant connectivity, which could bring increased visibility to global space and defense agencies as well as to Ground Station-as-a-Service providers looking to deploy a network of antennas that support upcoming missions with lunar direct-to-earth service and cislunar relay for future missions to the Moon and even Mars.” (Source: ASD Network)
26 Jan 22. 12 Companies to Provide Venture Class Launch Services for NASA. NASA has selected 12 companies to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions, providing new opportunities for science and technology payloads and fostering a growing U.S. commercial launch market.
Award selections are:
- ABL Space Systems of El Segundo, California
- Astra Space Inc. of Alameda, California
- Blue Origin Florida LLC of Merritt Island, Florida
- L2 Solutions LLC of Houston
- Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation of Chandler, Arizona
- Phantom Space Corporation of Tucson, Arizona
- Relativity Space Inc. of Long Beach, California
- Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California
- Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle
- Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California
- United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado
- Virgin Orbit LLC of Long Beach, California
The fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts have a five-year ordering period with a maximum total value of $300 m across all contracts. The acquisition also includes a special on-ramp provision to enable additional providers and incumbents to submit proposals introducing launch services for new capabilities not available or identified at the time of the initial contract award.
“We are incredibly excited to announce the awardees for VADR from a broad range of established and emerging launch providers and launch service aggregators and brokers,” said Bradley Smith, director of launch services at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This speaks to our expertise in understanding the launch market as we crafted VADR to maximize our efforts in enabling a growing U.S launch industry. With this new tool in our toolbox, these tremendously flexible contracts will meet a wide variety of NASA science and technology needs, further enhancing the agency’s Launch Services Program’s reputation as Earth’s bridge to space.”
The VADR contract will provide a broad range of Federal Aviation Administration-licensed commercial launch services capable of delivering payloads ranging from CubeSats to Class D missions to a variety of orbits. These small satellites and Class D payloads tolerate relatively high risk and serve as an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation, contributing to NASA’s science research and technology development.
The VADR acquisition builds on previous procurement efforts such as the Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) and VCLS Demo 2 contracts, which are fostering development of new, small launch vehicles for NASA payloads.
Firm-fixed-price task orders will be issued to provide the launch services under these contracts for NASA and NASA-sponsored missions. Launches under the VADR contract will align with commercial practices, using less NASA oversight to achieve lower launch costs.
NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the VADR contracts. The agency works with private industry, mission, and international partners to launch science payloads ranging from small satellites with colleges and universities to NASA’s highest priority missions. (Source: PR Newswire)
24 Jan 22. Northrop Grumman Celebrates Webb Telescope’s Arrival at Lagrange Point 2. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, built in partnership with Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), arrived at its solar orbit, Lagrange Point 2 (L2), marking the completion of its m mile journey and the first month of its half-year long commissioning period.
L2 is a point in space about a m miles from Earth where the gravity of the sun and Earth create a semi-stable location where it is easy to maintain Webb’s orbit with a minimum of fuel.
“The James Webb Space Telescope will unlock some of the universe’s biggest mysteries and it stands as a testament to what’s possible when industry and government work together,” said Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman.
Webb launched from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Dec. 25, stowed inside an Ariane 5 rocket. Over the course of two weeks after its historic launch, the space observatory successfully deployed its sunshield and mirrors during a series of complex deployments and maneuvers, the first of its kind ever attempted in space.
The team is turning its attention to making a series of fine adjustments to the telescope’s optics over the coming weeks and months to bring the telescope’s optical train into precise alignment. NASA anticipates that the observatory will be ready to send back its first science by mid-summer.
Webb is an infrared telescope designed to see the first light coming from the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe. Once operational, Webb will collect data and capture images for scientists back on Earth and explore farther than ever before into the cosmos, looking back over 13.5 bn years. To accomplish this, Webb incorporates innovative design, advanced technology, and groundbreaking engineering. Engineers developed 10 technological inventions for the telescope, including revolutionary optics, detectors and thermal control systems.
Northrop Grumman leads the industry team for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. NASA heads an international partnership that includes both the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency. Goddard Space Flight Center manages the Webb Telescope project, and the Space Telescope Science Institute is responsible for science and mission operations, as well as ground station development.
21 Jan 22. Sierra Space and Belcan Enter Into Strategic Agreement. Sierra Space, a leading commercial space company with 1,100 employees, more than 500 missions and over 30 years of space flight heritage, and Belcan, a global supplier of design, software, manufacturing, supply chain, information technology, and digital engineering solutions, announced today that they have entered into a multi-year arrangement in which Belcan will provide Sierra Space with broad-based engineering capabilities and solutions, primarily focused on supporting Sierra Space’s Transportation and Destination Portfolios. The new agreement includes design, analysis, systems engineering, software engineering, program management, manufacturing engineering, and supply chain solutions.
“This agreement is a critical step in securing the high-level engineering talent required to support Sierra Space as we build the next generation of space transportation systems and in-space infrastructures and destinations for low-Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization,” said Tom Vice, CEO, Sierra Space. “Our collaboration with Belcan further enhances Sierra Space’s ability to build the next platform for business in the unique environment afforded by space where new technological breakthroughs that will directly enhance our life on earth will be born.”
“We look forward to growing and strengthening our first-rate support of Sierra Space,” said Lance Kwasniewski, CEO of Belcan. “This strong partnership draws upon Belcan’s broad and deep engineering expertise, full lifecycle capabilities, and robust space experience, and expands our relationship with Sierra Space as their trusted engineering services partner.”
“Belcan is excited to create tremendous value for Sierra Space as they develop the foundational infrastructure to support the growing LEO ecosystem,” said Keith Jones, Senior Vice President, Defense & Space at Belcan. “We are proud to serve as Sierra Space’s engineering service provider of choice and we are delighted to enter into this partnership as a demonstration of our commitment.”
Sierra Space aims to build the future of space transportation, commercial space destinations and infrastructure, and enabling technologies that will help to build a vibrant, growing commercial space economy. As the LEO economy reaches a critical inflection point – driven by the convergence of the increasing commercialization of space, renewed public interest, and defense considerations – Sierra Space is developing foundational infrastructure to support this growing ecosystem. By opening up affordable access to space, Sierra Space hopes to enable existing businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers, and governments to create exciting breakthroughs that can empower humanity to begin new civilizations in space and benefit life on Earth. (Source: PR Newswire)
22 Jan 22. Turkish Aerospace, El Salvador ink deal on space, satellite systems. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and El Salvador signed a memorandum of understanding on space and satellite systems on Friday.
In a Twitter post, TAI said that President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, visited the company and “got information about our products.”
“We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Space and Satellite Systems,” it added.
Bukele has made his first trip abroad this year to Turkey on Thursday at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Bukele said that during the meeting with Erdoğan they discussed investment and cooperation in energy, construction, ports, defense, infrastructure and trade. (Source: Google/https://www.dailysabah.com/)
21 Jan 22. Space Force expands on-orbit ‘neighborhood watch’ mission with two new tracking satellites. The U.S. Space Force just launched two new space domain awareness satellites, expanding the capability of its Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program and boosting the accuracy of the service’s on-orbit tracking constellation.
The Northrop Grumman-built satellites launched Jan. 21 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, flying on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
With this launch, the Space Force will have six Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) space vehicles on orbit, the first of which launched in 2014 to provide what Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond calls a “neighborhood watch” function. Operating in geosynchronous Earth orbit more than 22,000 miles above the earth’s surface, the satellites track other space objects and feed that data to the Space Surveillance Network. They also perform rendezvous and proximity operations, drawing close to other satellites to observe and provide data on them.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command, said in a press release Thursday the GSSAP system is a “key piece in the puzzle for space domain awareness.”
“The first four GSSAP satellites have performed remarkably well,” Whiting said. “These two new satellites will add to that capability and enable us to understand more completely things that occur in the geosynchronous orbit.”
The service has been somewhat vague on GSSAP’s full suite of capabilities and has not released details on the value of its contract with Northrop Grumman. Asked this week during a Mitchell Institute event whether the two new satellites are more capable than those already on orbit, Raymond offered only that they would provide “additional capacity.”
“This neighborhood watch capability has provided us a fuller look at what’s in space, specifically in the geosynchronous domain,” he said. “It’s important for our operations, and it’s going to be really important as we move forward.”
The Space Force requested funding for five National Security Space Launches in fiscal 2022 and three in fiscal 2021. Raymond has warned in recent weeks that if a budget deal isn’t reached soon and the service is required to operate under a long-term continuing resolution at fiscal 2021 funding levels, it may have to delay two of those launches.
And because the Space Force buys its launches two years in advance — which means the missions the service planned to buy in fiscal 2022 would presumably launch in 2024 – delaying launch procurements today could affect the manifest for future launches.
“That would have a ripple effect because those two then shift another two,” Raymond said. “And so, it’s more than just a one-year impact. It would have a ripple effect for years to come.”
The launch procurement issue could also have implications for the Space Development Agency, which had planned to procure its Tranche 1 launch services this year for a 2025 target launch date. Speaking last week during a Mitchell Institute event, Tournear said because that procurement is considered a new start in fiscal 2022, an ongoing CR could hold up funding and potentially the launch schedule for Tranche 1. (Source: Defense News)
21 Jan 22. Two Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites were successfully launched into orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket today from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of the U.S. Space Force (USSF)-8 mission. The two satellites, GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6, will enhance space situational awareness, a top priority for the U.S. Space Force. In addition to manufacturing and delivering both GSSAP payloads, Northrop Grumman also provided the sole strap-on solid rocket booster adding propulsion to the rocket launch, as well as essential aeronautical components in support of the USSF-8 launch.
The GSSAP program delivers a space-based capability operating in a near-geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), in support of the U.S. Space Command space surveillance operations. GSSAP satellites allow for more accurate tracking and characterization of orbiting objects and uniquely contribute to timely and precise orbital predictions, enhancing knowledge of the GEO environment and improving spaceflight safety. Northrop Grumman has manufactured all GSSAP satellites since the program’s inception in 2011.
“For over a decade, Northrop Grumman has delivered products that improve U.S. Space Command’s ability to monitor human-made orbiting objects in the geosynchronous environment,” said Matt Verock, vice president, space security, Northrop Grumman. “As dedicated Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensors, the capabilities our GSSAP satellites bring demonstrate our leadership in space domain awareness.”
The company’s facilities in Dulles, Virginia along with Goleta and San Diego, California, and Beltsville, Maryland provided numerous subsystems, including the satellite’s solar arrays, primary structure, thermal control, avionic boxes, flight computer, shunt regulator assembly, composite components and deployable structures.
This was the third ULA Atlas V rocket launch supported by Northrop Grumman’s 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63). The GEM 63 solid rocket booster, manufactured at the company’s Magna, Utah facility, provided nearly a third of the total thrust at liftoff. The GEM family of solid rocket motors recently expanded with the development of the GEM 63XL variation to support ULA’s Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle, scheduled for its first flight later this year.
The company manufactured the Atlas V rocket’s reaction control system propellant tanks at its Commerce, California, facility, and eight retro motors at its Elkton, Maryland, facility that assist first and second stage separation. Using advanced fiber placement manufacturing and automated inspection techniques, Northrop Grumman produced the composite heat shield that provides essential protection to the Atlas V first-stage engine, the Centaur Interstage Adapter that houses the second-stage engine, and the broadtail that adapts from the core vehicle to the five-meter diameter fairing. Northrop Grumman fabricated these structures at its Iuka, Mississippi, facility.
17 Jan 22. Teaming Up: Mission Microwave + AST Microwave To Advance GaN SSAs For Teleports + Gateways. Mission Microwave Technologies, LLC, and AST Microwave, Inc. have drafted a teaming arrangement to help customers take advantage of Mission Microwave’s advanced Gallium Nitride (GaN) Solid State Amplifiers in teleports and gateways.
The companies have worked closely to develop integrated, redundancy systems that take advantage of the elegant designs and industry leading size, weight, and power of Mission Microwave products, along with AST Microwave’s ability to design custom high power RF solutions.
AST Microwave has been serving the satellite and RF industry for more than 30 years with highly reliable customized waveguide switch and load systems able to provide redundancy-switching capabilities for extremely high power RF amplifiers between 6 and 40 GHz for C-, X-, Ku-, and Ka-band frequencies.
Mission Microwave’s highly reliable Solid State Amplifiers and Block Up Converters offer the best combination of size, weight, and power available in the industry and are widely used on critical SATCOM terminals for government, aviation and maritime terminals. Mission Microwave manufactures BUCs that operate at power levels from 8 to 800 watts in X-, Ku- and Ka-band.
High Power Amplifier (HPA) systems are typically one of the most complex and expensive subsystems in a teleport. Advances in SSPA technology have allowed teleport operators to move the HPA systems from expensive air-conditioned shelters to outdoor mounting at the base of the antenna.
AST Microwave designs HPA systems using Mission Microwave’s lightweight and compact SSPAs optimally to place the HPA system in the antenna hub or integrated onto the antenna structure to eliminate the RF Loss and complexity of axis crossings on the antenna mount. This allows the teleport operator to use a smaller HPA to produce the same overall transmit power from the antenna at a lower initial cost and a reduced operating cost.
Dave Owers, AST Microwave’s President, said, “Traditionally these large HPA systems where shipped to a teleport in expensive custom crates and then lifted into place at the base of the antenna using a crane or boom truck – a high risk operation in a teleport. The redundant systems designed with Mission Microwave’s SSPAs can be shipped directly to site without any custom crating and assembled on site by a small installation team. The systems are designed to be easier to install, maintain, and repair in the field. As all AST switches are fully sealed our systems are particularly well suited to withstand inclement weather conditions.”
Steve Richeson, Mission Microwave’s VP of Sales & Marketing, added, “Our teleport customers require sophisticated RF switching products that are efficiently and elegantly combined with their ground station antennas. The partnership with AST Microwave makes it easier and more affordable for our teleport customers to buy a complete system and be confident that the components will work well together and offer the ultimate in ease of installation, maintenance and repair.”
AST’s broad line of waveguide products stem from many years of microwave experience. Since its founding in 1992, AST has shipped over 30,000 switches and waveguide parts to more than 100 countries. Our commitment is to give our clients a top quality product with a very fast delivery. AST is ISO 9001:2015 accredited.
Mission Microwave Technologies brings revolutionary design for RF (Radio Frequency) and microwave electronics, supporting ground-based, airborne, and space-based applications. Using the latest in semiconductor technology, Mission Microwave’s focus is to minimize the size, weight, and power (SWaP) for these critical applications, while providing its customers with the best possible reliability. Mission Microwave sets the new standard for design, performance, and reliability. (Source: Satnews)
17 Jan 22. The Fifth Ocean Monitoring Smallsat For Unseenlabs Is Successfully Launched. An Unseenlab‘s smallsat launch, their fifth ocean monitoring spacecraft, occurred on January 13th and is part of Unseenlabs’ plan to have 20 to 25 satellites in orbit by 2025.
After launching with Arianespace in August of 2021, Unseenlabs this time entrusted the launch of BRO-5 to SpaceX, diversifying the company’s means of access to space through its collaboration with a new international, launch services player. Unseenlabs’ service, focused on radio frequency geolocation of ships at sea, has been active since the first satellite launch – BRO-1 – in August of 2019. Since then, each new launch has increased the service’s capabilities, notably by increasing its responsiveness and the amount of data produced. The launch of the 5th pillar in the Unseenlabs constellation, a 10 kilogram satellite moving at 7 kilometers per second around the Earth, will once again improve the smallsat’s revisit time, which is already one of the best on the market for intercepting radio frequency signals from space.
The company plans to continue to increase its workforce, which is already around 30 employees, to support this hypergrowth phase and the launches planned for this year.
“The deployment of BRO-5 enables us to strengthen our international activities, and to reaffirm the place of our constellation as the most developed in the field of RF interception from space. By pursuing innovation and increasing the quality of our service, it is part of the French space strategy of the France 2030 plan, mentioned by Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, Finance and Recovery, in Vernon on December 6,” said Clément Galic, CEO and co-founder of Unseenlabs.
“After a successful year in 2021 for Unseenlabs, both in terms of new collaborations and the launch of a fourth satellite – BRO-4 – on August 16 with Arianespace, we intend to continue this trend in 2022. We are proud to carry out the first launch of the year, which comes in a promising context for the development of our business,” added Jonathan Galic, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Unseenlabs. (Source: Satnews)
17 Jan 22. Success For NearSpace Launch’s Smallsat Orbit Acquisition Via Virgin Orbit’s Mission. NearSpace Launch Inc. (NSL) is celebrating their 3U smallsat launch by Virgin Orbit’s third operational mission, along with six other customers, on January 13, 2022. GEARRS is the third cubesat to launch in partnership with AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) and SSC-STP (U.S. Space Systems Command—Space Test Program (STP)-3) to test experimental Satellite-to-Satellite (Sat2Sat)communication systems and tracking. GEARRS cubesats are pioneering new EyeStar technology for space research. NSL’s EyeStar radios allow for 24/7 connectivity via Sat2Sat connection. GEARRS-3 has completed the commissioning phase and has now moved into full operational status.
Co-founder of NSL and Chief Engineer, Jeff Dailey, said, “It is always good to see first packets received one minute after transmitter scheduled to turn on. Preliminary data shows mission success, as both the Black Box Patch and Eyestar links connected and sending data.” (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power ms of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.