Sponsored By Viasat
30 Jul 18. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced its Ku-/Ka-band multi-network, multi-mode Global Mobile Antenna (GMA) 5560-101 has successfully completed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) D0-160G certification process and the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) C-17 Modified Airworthiness Certification Criteria (MACC) testing. By completing both the certification and test programs, the Viasat antenna has demonstrated it can provide powerful in-flight broadband connectivity, enabling advanced situational awareness, en-route mission planning, and a host of other applications that demand the highest forward and return link capacity available. The DO-160G certification enables Viasat’s antenna to be immediately installed on select United States Air Force (USAF) and Foreign Military Sale (FMS) senior leader, VIP and other military aircraft. Passing all AFMC C-17 MACC tests demonstrates the antenna’s ability to become fully-certified for USAF and FMS C-17 platforms. Viasat is in the process of submitting C-17 MACC test reports for official review. The GMA 5560-101 is a second-generation, highly-capable, low-risk satellite communications (SATCOM) antenna for medium and wide-body aircraft. Its predecessor is operationally proven, currently flying on nine different aircraft platforms for USAF, commercial airline and FMS customers. The GMA 5560-101 antenna delivers a flexible architecture that is frequency- and satellite-agnostic, meaning it offers:
- Compatibility with all existing medium earth orbit (MEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO) commercial Ku-, Ka- and MIL-Ka band satellites today;
- Access to a Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) that allows users to seamlessly operate across different networks (both government and private sector), creating an end-to-end network that provides mitigation against congestion situations, intentional and unintentional interference sources, and cyber threats through implementation of layered resiliency in highly contested environments;
- Lower total ownership costs by standardizing large multi-mission fleets, allowing customers to choose their own service providers with a single solution, simplifying the logistics requirements; and
- An advanced antenna solution that will be forward-compatible with next-generation high-capacity satellites, like the ViaSat-3 constellation and beyond.
“The GMA 5560-101 is the first SATCOM antenna to successfully complete D0-160G certification and also pass the full suite of rigorous C-17 MACC testing, with zero gap analysis,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “The GMA 5560-101 provides our senior leaders and military forces with the flexibility and resiliency to communicate and operate globally on multiple government and private sector networks both now and well into the future.”
01 Aug 18. Made in Space believes its on-orbit manufactured power supply can save militaries money. Key Points:
- Made in Space developed an on-orbit manufactured 5 kW power supply that can fly on smaller rockets
- This is a cheaper approach as current 5 kW technology requires flying on larger, more expensive rockets
Made in Space believes its new on-orbit manufactured power supply can save militaries money by allowing them to launch higher-power small satellites on smaller rockets, as opposed to the larger, and more expensive rockets that current technology requires. Made in Space is developing power systems for small satellites that can provide up to 5 kW of solar power and is enabled by the company’s Archinaut on-orbit manufacturing and assembly technology. Current small satellites are typically constrained to 1 kW of power or less. Made in Space CEO Andrew Rush pictured next to a subscale version of a solar array that the company can produce in space. The golden Mylar pieces are physical mockups of what would be solar blankets. This solar array is over 3 m tall. (Made in Space)
“Deploying these power-intensive payloads on small satellites is game-changing because these platforms cost an order of magnitude less to build and launch and can be fielded much more rapidly than 1,000 kg [or more] satellites,” Made in Space CEO Andrew Rush said in a statement.
Rush told Jane’s on 1 August that small Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA)-class, or 150 kg, satellites only produce roughly 1 kW of power. If a military acquisition official has a sensor that needs several kilowatts of power, Rush said, he or she must fly that sensor on a large satellite bus that flies on an EELV class rocket such as a SpaceX Falcon 9 or a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. A standard commercial launch on a Falcon 9 starts at USD62m. Instead, Rush said Made in Space’s on-orbit manufactured power supply enables militaries to fly a multi-kilowatt payload on a smaller, more affordable rocket such as a Rocket Lab Electron, which costs USD5m to procure. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Jul 18. GAO backs use of commercial satellites to host military payloads. The SES-14 satellite will carry NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument as a hosted payload. Credit: Airbus Defence and Space
“Using hosted payloads may help facilitate a proliferation of payloads on orbit, making it more difficult for an adversary to defeat a capability.”
The Pentagon should use commercial satellites as host platforms for military sensors and communications packages, says a new Government Accountability Office report released on Monday.
GAO auditors investigated the pros and cons of “hosted payloads” and agreed with what private satellite operators have been saying for years: The military can save money and get capabilities on-orbit faster by hitching rides on commercial satellites. The industry has been building huge spacecraft that have extra carrying capacity, and hosting national security payloads is viewed as a profitable business that also helps the military fill a need.
The report says there are national security benefits to deploying military payloads on commercial satellites. “Using hosted payloads may also help facilitate a proliferation of payloads on orbit, making it more difficult for an adversary to defeat a capability.”
Since 2009, DoD has used three commercially hosted payloads, with three more missions planned or underway through 2022. In 2011, the Air Force created a Hosted Payload Office to provide expertise and other tools to facilitate matching government payloads with commercial hosts. GAO found that defense programs using hosted payloads are not required and generally do not provide cost and technical data, or lessons learned, to the Hosted Payload Office. Having that information would “better position DoD to make informed decisions when considering acquisition approaches for upcoming space system designs.”
The Pentagon has not been too keen on hosted payloads for several reasons, GAO noted. There is a perception among some defense officials that matching government payloads to commercial satellites is too difficult. Another concern is that DoD’s knowledge on using hosted payloads is “fragmented, in part because programs are not required to share information.”
DoD officials who spoke with GAO identified “logistical challenges to matching government payloads with any given commercial host satellite.” For example, they cited size, weight and power constraints as barriers to using hosted payloads. Some individual DoD offices have realized cost and schedule benefits, but “DoD as a whole has limited information on costs and benefits of hosted payloads,” said the report.
Officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense told GAO that “matching requirements between government payloads and commercial satellites is typically too difficult for programs to overcome.”
DoD’s Hosted Payload Office is “developing tools designed to help address these challenges,” said the report. Defense officials also argued that budget and planning processes are a hurdle. “This can complicate alignment with commercial timelines because the development of a government sensor would need to be underway well in advance of a decision to fund a commercially hosted payload approach.”
Officials told GAO that it is possible to align government and commercial timelines. For example, the Missile Defense Agency adopted the commercial host’s schedule to ensure its Space Based Kill Assessment payload was ready for integration and launch without delaying the host satellite or missing its ride to space. Similarly, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been able to align acquisition and development schedules with the commercial host. In its written comments in the report, DoD concurred with GAO’s recommendations and noted that the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center had initiated a major reorganization and that under the new organization, the Hosted Payload Office had changed and may not be the appropriate office for centralizing DoD-wide hosted payload knowledge. Language in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directs the Pentagon to seize oversight of military investments in hosted payloads. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Space News)
30 Jul 18. The calculus of cheaper military comms satellites. Space is not so much hard as it is expensive. Satellites today are expensive machines, expensively built and expensive to launch, with the understanding that, once on orbit, they can work for years. That calculus assumes several eggs in every pricey basket, and as space moves from a home for military satellites to a domain where nations prepare for actual combat, building resilience in orbit means rethinking how satellites are done. It means rethinking costs in the billions and imagining them instead in the millions. And to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Paul “Rusty” Thomas it means creating a whole new ecosystem for payloads and launches. Thomas is the program manager for Blackjack, a DARPA initiative that wants to pilot a constellation of cheaper satellites for military communication, with the costs low, uplinks up and the resilience of the whole constellation baked-in.
C4ISRNET’s Kelsey Atherton spoke with Thomas about the program.
C4ISRNET: There’s a lot of interest in both low Earth orbit [LEO] and constellations of satellites. What is DARPA’s specific goal with Blackjack?
PAUL “RUSTY” THOMAS: Blackjack, as an architecture demonstration, will build a portion of a constellation, looking at about 20 percent of a fully proliferated LEO constellation. That’s a range of 20 satellites, 20 percent of the 90 to 100 satellite constellation, which would give a ground user three to four hours per day or more of theater-level operations so that we could actually demonstrate what we’re going to do with a full, fully proliferated 24/7 constellation that covers the entire Earth and gives global constant coverage and global constant custody.
C4ISRNET: What was the logic behind accepting separate proposals for busses and payloads?
THOMAS: Most exquisite spacecraft we built have been married to the bus and payload from Day 1. That’s a wonderful model for exquisite spacecraft. But we’re trying to build a proliferated LEO payload ecosystem — like the commercial commoditized bus ecosystem — that can match the numerous types of payloads. To do that you don’t want to just show that one payload matches great and then move forward. That just gives you a great payload.
To try and build that ecosystem out, you want to go to at least Program Design Review with the payload developers working to a generalized initial design covering numerous types of commoditized busses. Once you get deeper into the design phase, match that payload to a bus, which allows a large range of payloads to be developed.
C4ISRNET: There’s a lot of commercial interest in this space; does that pose any risk to deploying a new constellation?
THOMAS: The goal of Blackjack is to prove you can leverage commercial approaches with potentially lower costs, lower cycle times, lower times for design and build. It also comes with the issue that we’re not directing the approach to building the bus, we’re not directing how the constellation is put together for these folks; therefore, the rest is getting the government itself to do that match and to put our systems into play in a way that marches in lockstep with them without directing their commercial elements will play. That brings risk. We have to learn how to do business a little different than it’s been done in the past, and to move a little quicker than the government has in the past.
C4ISRNET: So, there’s no risk of LEO being too crowded to accommodate more constellations?
THOMAS: No. Well, I wouldn’t say no risk, there’s always risk, the mega constellations that you’re starting to see FCC filings for look like they’re going to put hundreds, and some of them into the 10,000-plus range, and that’s certainly going to be a challenge and it’s going to be a risk.
Fortunately, we have air traffic control systems on the ground that cover large numbers of aircraft in the air at any given time. We haven’t actually taken that step into how to manage large numbers of spacecraft in space yet, but we believe that all the technology is there and it’s just a matter of implementing an area where the government is going to be tracking what the commercial folks are doing.
There’s a risk — it’s not major, space is big — but you absolutely need to track the spacecraft and make sure they can deorbit. But in terms of putting thousands or even tens of thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit, all of that seems very feasible and is not in the high-risk bucket.
C4ISRNET: What’s the rough timeline you’re expecting for demonstrations?
THOMAS: For the 20-satellite constellation, we plan to have the first two spacecraft that we have integrated to the commercial busses and the payload together ready by the end of 2020, with launch by early 2021. We will follow that in 2021 with the rest of the 18, once we’ve confirmed the first two are fine. We will have the full demonstration capability running late in 2021 with an expectation of theater-level autonomous operations from low Earth orbit in 2022.
C4ISRNET: One argument for satellite constellations and against exquisite satellites is resiliency. How does that work here?
THOMAS: You get a lower cost, the individual node becomes a bit expendable, you don’t build your resiliency around the individual node, you don’t try to protect that spacecraft to the nth degree like in exquisite billion-dollar-plus craft. If the Blackjack model works, spacecraft will be in the $3m to $4 m range, $2m to $3m to put it into orbit. We’re talking about a $6m node, including the cost of getting it into space. Therefore, it’s less than the cost of a high-end munition.
The constellation itself becomes your resilient element. You can put your high-level availability, reliability and mission assurance at the constellation level instead of at the node, because of the numbers you’re putting up. If one satellite has fallen, its replacement is coming over the horizon 10 to 15 minutes later. You have a different approach to resiliency, large numbers of spacecraft in play, which totally turns some of the counterspace elements on its ear.
C4ISRNET: What counter-space elements might this be especially resilient against?
THOMAS: You now have low-cost nodes, so a lot of the direct ascent type of methods out there no longer makes a lot of sense. Of course, you still have varied threats from non-kinetic and cyber. We still need to protect the constellation against all the other types of threats out there, so it probably helps the most on the kinetic side, but it certainly gives you lot of resilience in all the areas.
C4ISRNET: What kind of communications presence will this enable?
THOMAS: Blackjack is aimed at leveraging the new mesh networks being set up by these commercial companies. A user currently in the DoD might need to look up at two or three different options in space to actually talk and do communications in this space segment. Once we link up and do encryption, the user on the ground will look up and see hundreds or more potential network nodes overhead at any given point on the planet, North Pole to South Pole; it’s going to drastically change how the DoD does communication.
That is a bit independent of what Blackjack is going to do. If the commercial companies succeed and come out, that capability, call it raw gigabit-per-second class, not all of them it. But they all have many megabit data links from one point of the planet to another, at very low latency, 100-200 milliseconds, so you do really change the game for how any user, DoD included, does global communication.
C4ISRNET: Is a desired end goal of Blackjack specifically a redundant spaceborne network that can function independently if access to internet on the ground is cut off?
THOMAS: If you have a problem with your terrestrial network — whether it’s a ground network system or point-to-point comms, fiber optics or others being interfered with — the space mesh network provides the ability to move the data up, move it through the space mesh, and move it back to the ground, without any other system being involved in that data transition. The switch network that Iridium has up right now, it’s low bandwidth but a wonderful system in terms of moving data from one point to another on the planet through the Iridium gateways that DoD and its users have worldwide. Move that up to high broadband access, and not just two or three satellites overhead but dozens or hundreds, and it really does move us into a new realm.
C4ISRNET: At what point in the program do bus and payload link? Is there a point where they’re demoed together?
THOMAS: In the [broad agency announcement] out right now, you can see we’re looking for multiple payloads to go at least through phase one, potentially multiple buses to go through phase one. As we progress the programs through the preliminary design review into phase two and get critical design review, first two spacecraft built, we’ll be selecting the ones to continue deeper and deeper into the program to match up and do the demo. We’ll start with a wide range and narrow down to a smaller set to actually do the demonstration with a secondary objective of showing why a huge payload will work, why different types of payloads will be successful in this type of architecture, even though we’ve only got one or two of them.
C4ISRNET: What does the future of Blackjack look like?
THOMAS: We are looking at large numbers of types of payloads. We very much want to get into a rapid tech refresh cycle … putting up payloads every two or three years that are newer version of the ones that have gone previously, have an open architecture standard so we can update over the air with better algorithms. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
30 Jul 18. Canberra to ground control: ACT perfect for Space Agency base. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr joined some of the nation’s leading space experts to support Canberra’s bid to play home to the nation’s newly minted Australian Space Agency through the launch of the ACT government’s Space Agency Prospectus. Professor Brian Schmidt AC (ANU), Professor Michael Frater (UNSW Canberra) and Professor Anna Moore (ANU National Space Test Facility) joined Barr to show their support for the agency to be located in Canberra, at the heart of national policy where it can drive the growth Australia’s space industry across the country. Barr said Canberra provides a compelling, enabling environment for the agency, with a high concentration of space industry organisations with extensive technological capability, including:
- ANU’s national space testing facilities at Mount Stromlo;
- The Space Mission Concurrent Design Facility at UNSW (ADFA) Canberra, combined with the ANU national space testing facilities, provides Australia’s only end-to-end facilities for the design, building and testing of spacecraft;
- Major multinational companies that have an interest in the development of the Australian space economy, such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman;
- Major Commonwealth government agencies who will be important partners for the agency, such as the Department of Defence; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Attorney-General’s Department; Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; GeoScience Australia; the NASA Deep Space Tracking Station; the Space Environment Research Centre; and CSIRO; and
- Significant commercial players such as EOS Space Systems, Geospatial Intelligence, Geoplex, Quintessence Labs, Liquid Instruments and Skykraft, among many others.
To further support the ACT government’s commitment to securing the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency, Barr announced $250,000 to the national space testing facilities located at Mount Stromlo to provide greater access to the facilities for space sector SMEs. The ACT government is committed to working with the national space sector to help build a significant and globally competitive industry, including:
- Committing $9.75m over three years to support the growth of key sectors, including the space industry;
- Ongoing identification and promotion of investment and trade opportunities within the space and spatial industry in Canberra;
- Driving Australian government recognition of the significance and growth potential of the sector;
- Improving coordination and development of sector-related policy across all levels of government;
- Growing public, business and political awareness and commitment to the viability of the sector;
- Collaborating with all sector players to define strategic focus for growing the industry; and
- Continuing to attract and support emerging technologies, entrepreneurs and businesses in Canberra.
Barr went further, saying that he will continue to engage with Dr Megan Clark AO, head of the Australian Space Agency, over the next six months, as well as other state and territory government colleagues to work towards the best possible outcome for Australia’s participation in the global space industry and the national space sector. (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Jul 18. Inmarsat Releases Their Global IIoT Study. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is set to make a sizeable contribution to the global economy by 2023 — this is according to a new global study launched today by Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), which found that organizations, across the global supply chain, expect IIoT to be increasing their annual revenues by 10 per cent within five years. The IIoT is set to revolutionize how businesses function in the next few years. There will be significantly increased automation and operational efficiency through the use of real time data and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication directly across the planet. Access to reliable and resilient connectivity, particularly in remote regions or at sea, where terrestrial networks are not available but satellite communications are available, will be essential to the success of many IIoT deployments. These latest results have emerged from the 2018 edition of Inmarsat’s research program into IIoT trends — IIoT on Land and at Sea — for which market research specialist Vanson Bourne surveyed 750 businesses with a combined turnover of $1.16trn from across the globe. Respondents were drawn from a wide range of industries, including the agriculture, energy, maritime, mining and transport sectors.
Commenting on the findings, Paul Gudonis, President, Inmarsat Enterprise, said that IIoT is emerging as a major force in the modern enterprise and it’s clear that businesses are prioritizing satellite technology to transform their operations and achieve competitive advantage. Data generated by IIoT infrastructure is expected particularly to bring greater transparency to the global supply chain, allowing businesses to automate processes, reduce operational waste and speed up rate of production, leading to higher revenues and lower costs. However, many businesses are struggling with security, skills and connectivity challenges in large scale IIoT deployments. Over half (56 percent) require additional cyber-security skills and 34 percent do not yet have access to the connectivity they need. For global businesses that require a global communications network, satellite connectivity will play a key role, guaranteeing constant secure data transmission wherever their IIoT infrastructure is located. (Source: Satnews)
22 Jul 18. The First Over-The-Air Beam Hopping Test Is Successful. Current satellite communication systems use static beams, with little or no options of adjusting beam capacity to a varying demand. Beam hopping, based on the DVB-S2X broadcasting standard, allows redirecting capacity between beams, making satellite systems more flexible and efficient. Working with WORK Microwave and Eutelsat, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has successfully demonstrated beam hopping in an over-the-air test for the first time. Rising demand for worldwide mobile communications on land, in the air and at sea calls for satellite coverage tailored to individual needs. As part of the “BEHOP – Beam Hopping Emulator for Satellite Systems” project, initiated and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), Fraunhofer IIS is collaborating with WORK Microwave and Eutelsat to research technologies that will deliver more flexibility and higher performance in satellite communication. BEHOP is intended to pave the way for beam hopping, a feature that is supported by Eutelsat Quantum, a satellite due to enter into service in 2020. At present, most satellites operate spot beams at constant power and with a fixed allocation of capacity over a broad coverage region. Beam hopping, however, allows efficient communication by putting power when and where required. It transmits adjusted beams that enable great flexibility as to how capacity is distributed. Currently, no system in orbit supports beam hopping completely. In June 2018, Fraunhofer IIS collaborated with WORK Microwave to test beam hopping for the first time using a conventional Eutelsat satellite. To this end, the beam hopping payload emulator developed at Fraunhofer IIS was added to the uplink transmission chain along with WORK Microwave’s beam hopping enabled modulator with integrated synchronization algorithms. In the downlink the corresponding demodulators from Fraunhofer IIS was used as receiver. The transmission technique is based on the DVBâ€‘S2X standard’s Annex E Super-Framing structure, which enables several innovative technologies such as beam hopping, precoding and interference management solutions. By way of this demonstration, the project partners proved that the beam hopping concept and technology are ready to be implemented. The demonstration validated that data arrives at the satellite in sync with the beam hopping pattern and that the system is able to automatically adjust and update resource allocations whenever capacity requirements may change. This successful test paves the way for a next generation of satellites. (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.