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24 Feb 22. Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft Completes Fourth Flight Test. Stratolaunch LLC is excited to announce the successful completion of its fourth flight test of the carrier aircraft, known as “Roc”. Roc is the world’s largest aircraft, with a 385 ft. wingspan. The aircraft flew for 1 hour, 43 minutes over the Mojave Desert and reached an altitude of 15,000 feet (4572 m). As part of this latest flight, pilots further prepared the carrier aircraft to support launches of its upcoming hypersonic testbed vehicle, Talon-A. Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier aircraft completed its fourth flight test on Feb. 24, 2022. The primary mission objective was to fully retract and extend the aircraft’s landing gear for the first time. Launched from the Roc carrier aircraft, Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration. Initial results from today’s test objectives include:
- Continued evaluation of the aircraft’s performance and handling characteristics
- Validation of full landing gear operations including door functionality, and alternate gear extension.
“Today’s successful flight demonstrates and validates improvements to the carrier aircraft’s systems and overall flight performance,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch President and Chief Operating Officer. “The full landing gear retraction and extension brings the carrier aircraft closer to operational status, a milestone that is necessary to ready the aircraft for Talon-A separation and hypersonic flight tests later this year.”
In addition to testing the carrier aircraft, the team continues to make progress on system integration of two Talon-A test vehicles, TA-0 and TA-1. The team has also started fabrication of a third vehicle, TA-2, the first fully reusable hypersonic test vehicle. The company anticipates beginning hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and delivering services to government and commercial customers in 2023.
A press teleconference to discuss results of today’s test flight will be held at 4:30 p.m. PST following the flight. Media interested in attending can register for the meeting here.
Stratolaunch’s mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles. For the latest news and information, visit www.stratolaunch.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. (Source: PR Newswire)
24 Feb 22. New Project Plans to Put Denmark on the Map Within Military Space Technology.
- DTU (Technical University of Denmark) and the Danish company Space Inventor are cooperating with the French defence and technology company Thales in Denmark to develop new technology which can monitor and identify military threats in space and on Earth
- The project is supported by the European Defence Fund
Space technology and satellites are not only important for monitoring climate change, for navigating ships and airplanes, and for communicating over long distances. They are essential to the security of Denmark and the EU.
A new project develops a technology that makes it possible to monitor and identify military threats in space and on Earth. The AI-driven technology will contribute to process the vast data streams stemming from satellites and land-based sensors and thereby create the basis for utilizing the space data and intelligence for military purposes.
The project, which goes under the name INTEGRAL and is a part of EU’s SSAEW SC2, Space Situational Awareness – Space Command and Control, is supported with funds from the European Defence Fund and is a cooperation between DTU (Technical University of Denmark), the Danish company Space Inventor and the French defence and technology company Thales in Denmark.
The Danish company Space Inventor is going to play a key role in the project by contributing to the development of the prototype for INTEGRAL and finding an algorithm that can trace the orbit of satellites.
With the awarded funds follow a significantly increased visibility on the international stage as well as access to knowledge and powerful networks.
“It is incredibly exciting for Space Inventor to be a part of such a big international project, and we are looking forward to showing the world what we are able to do within space and defence,” says Karl Kaas, CEO of Space Inventor ApS.
“Research and development of new space technology in cooperation with the Danish industry increase the focus on science, and create growth and jobs” says Professor Rasmus Larsen, Provost, Executive Vice President, CAO, M.Sc. (Eng) Ph.D. from DTU.
A unique cooperation with massive potential
The project is one of only 26 projects which have been approved by the EU Commission under the test programme European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) in 2020. Thales sees great potential in the Danish Defence industry looking towards Europe.
“It is a unique project because we unite science and industry on multiple levels. We are, in Thales, a part of the Danish ecosystem within defence and also an international company with deep knowledge about the European defence market. We would like to contribute with this knowledge so that Danish companies can unlock the great potential which the Danish defence industry holds” says Tommy Ayouty, CEO, Thales Danmark, VP Thales Group in the Nordics.
Several Danish companies are participating in EU projects such as project SAURON for SSA Sensors and the space & defence project SSA Early Warning which both have received funds from EDIDP 2020. Along with INTEGRAL, these projects can improve Denmark’s visibility within the defence and space sector and are expected to lay the foundation for further cooperation and to gather knowledge in connection with the surveillance of the Arctic in the future. The INTEGRAL project runs until 2023 at which point the parties involved can seek funds to continue the work. (Source: ASD Network)
24 Feb 22. Belgium MoD hands over satcom test and research facility. The Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has handed over a satellite communications (satcom) technical test and research facility on 17 February to the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA), the Belgian MoD announced on 21 February. The facility, located in Camp Casteau in Mons, Belgium, will serve as the engineering test and research facility for NATO satcom, and will also conduct experimentation, research and development for future capabilities, the announcement stated. The site cost a total of EUR2.2 (USD2.5 million) and 273 working days to build, Giovanni Durando, satcom service area owner at the NCIA informed Janes. The capability s tested in this facility could be used in NATO’s satellite ground stations in Belgium, Greece, Italy, and Turkey, the announcement added. (Source: Janes)
23 Feb 22. US Space Force awards contract for deep-space radar. The U.S. Space Force took a step toward improving its domain awareness in geosynchronous orbit this week, awarding a contract to Northrop Grumman for the first increment of a new deep space radar capability. The service used the Space Enterprise Consortium to award a $341m other transaction authority deal for the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability on Feb. 22. The program, which has been granted Middle-Tier Acquisition authorities that allow it to field on a faster timeline, is being designed to provide all-weather, 24/7 coverage of objects in GEO — a growing need identified in the last few years. Northrop’s award is to develop the first of three planned DARC radar sites. The first system, slated for delivery in 2025, will be located in the Indo-Pacific region. According to Space Systems Command spokeswoman Lina Satele, the service has not yet identified a more precise location within the region. Along with the Indo-Pacific site, the Space Force has considered locations in the United Kingdom and the continental United States. The service expects to begin development of the second site in 2024 and the third in 2025, though it’s not clear when it will award contracts for that work.
Lt. Col. Kelly Greiner, materiel leader for SSC’s ground radar portfolio, said in the Space Force press release the award for the first DARC site “is a crucial first step in building out a global system to ensure the ability to detect, track, identify and characterize objects in GEO to protect and defend our most valued space assets against adversarial action.”
DARC’s space domain awareness capabilities will join a much broader architecture of on-orbit and ground-based sensors and radars that aim to provide the Space Force will a more complete picture of the space environment.
Northrop’s Vice President for Integrated National Systems Pablo Pezzimenti emphasized the importance of DARC’s all-weather capability, noting in a Feb. 23 press release that current ground-based systems are susceptible to adverse weather conditions.
“The DARC program will field a resilient ground-based radar providing our nation with significantly enhanced space domain awareness for geostationary orbit,” Pezzimenti said.
The Space Force requested $123m for DARC in fiscal 2022 — up from about $33 million the previous year. According to budget justification documents, that funding will support development of the first site as well as efforts to ensure the system is resilient against contested space operations. The award follows several years of work with industry and academia to lay the groundwork for DARC. The Space Force initially partnered with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Stanford Research Institute and MIT Lincoln Laboratory for early analysis and design work. In parallel, the Air Force Research Laboratory awarded contracts to seven companies for early integrated systems engineering and risk-reduction efforts. That work culminated last summer with a technology demonstration at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. (Source: Defense News)
23 Feb 22. Successful first year for UK-Australia Space Bridge. Today marks the first anniversary of the Space Bridge between UK and Australia. Today (23 February 2022) marks the first anniversary of the Space Bridge between UK and Australia – a partnership focused on facilitating collaboration between the two countries’ space sectors. A world first, the Space Bridge has unlocked improved access to trade, investment and academic research opportunities, better advice to businesses and innovative bilateral collaborations.
The arrangement enhances cooperation between the UK and Australian space sector to work on space-related activities, from sharing Earth Observation data to collaborating on robotic and artificial intelligence.
Several exciting initiatives have taken place since the signing last year, including the Department for International Trade-led UK Space Export Academy collaboration, which facilitated workshops for UK SMEs on trade policy, export regulations, finance and tax, insight into the Australian space landscape and practical advice on business pitching. The graduation event in September 2021 enabled 23 individual engagements between UK companies and Australian industry, academia and government.
With a global audience of up to 1,000 attendees, the virtual UK and Australia roadshows showcasing key strategies, strengths, and capabilities of the space sector last year were instrumental in facilitating engagement between UK and Australian investors and collaborators across industry and academia.
The first funding call launched under the UK-Australia Space Bridge has also been hugely successful, with five collaborative research projects receiving a total of £250,000 from SmartSat CRC and the Satellite Applications Catapult, with the support of the UK Science and Innovation Network. Digital Content Analysis Technology Ltd, OneWeb and Spire Global UK were among those to benefit from the funding and are currently working on the projects due to be completed by the end of June 2022.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Although separated by many seas, the Space Bridge has connected the UK and Australia in whole new ways. It is unlocking greater innovation, promoting the exchange of knowledge and forging new partnerships to maximise the vast potential of our growing space sectors. The Space Bridge is a prime example of how we can join forces with our partners to catalyse investment and help meet the UK’s increased ambitions in space. International collaboration is a key pillar of the UK National Space Strategy and we are proud to be working with our Australian colleagues to leverage resources and opportunities from across Government, industry, academia, and private investors – driving forward this exciting initiative.”
Sam Adlen, Chief Strategy Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: As the Space Bridge reaches its first anniversary, it is clear that strong foundations have been laid. It has been great to work with impressive Australian colleagues, and to see the partnerships developing and the potential future impact that will be delivered. The opportunity for space enabled growth is only growing, and the strong ties between the UK and Australia will enable the capacity and utility of the space bridge to grow significantly for the benefit of both countries and citizens globally. The UK-Australia partnership is a priority for the UK space sector, bolstered further by the UK’s recent £1m commitment for Earth Observation in Agroclimate to help farmers deal with climate change. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 Feb 22. DoD and Partners Release Combined Space Operations Vision 2031. The United States joins Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in the joint release of the “Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Vision 2031” today. CSpO is an initiative to address the overarching need to encourage responsible use of space, recognizing challenges to space sustainability, threats presented by technological advances, and the increasingly comprehensive and aggressive counterspace programs of other nation states. The “CSpO Vision 2031” outlines the initiative’s overarching purpose and highlights its guiding principles, including: freedom of use of space, responsible and sustainable use of space, partnering while recognizing sovereignty, and upholding international law. These guiding principles steer the initiative’s objectives and are supported by several lines of effort, from developing and operating resilient, interoperable architectures to fostering responsible military behaviors in space and sharing intelligence and information, all leading to the pursuit of a safe, secure, and sustainable space domain.
CSpO Principals last met in December 2021, reaffirming their nations’ support to the Vision, including the intent to prevent conflicts extending to or originating in space and to hold accountable those who threaten the safety of the space environment and the space assets of others. Representatives from the Department of Defense specifically addressed the importance of information sharing, leading to greater cooperation and interoperability, all key CSpO components.
Craig Miller, President, Viasat Government Systems said: “The Combined Space Operations Vision 2031 is another important step toward a unified approach to preserve the safety and sustainability of space, for the benefit of the U.S., its allies, and all mankind. As a defense industry partner and a commercial space company, Viasat shares and applauds the commitment of CSpO Participants to build greater resiliency, promote responsible behaviors in space and to protect national security with enhanced C2 and information sharing capabilities for multi-domain missions. We also support the coordination and alignment needed to facilitate sovereign space operations and interoperable capabilities among partner nations. Ongoing cooperation among the U.S. Department of Defense, UK Ministry of Defence and other global allies, in conjunction with strong industry partnerships, will be paramount for future military and commercial space operations that ensure global stability and bring new opportunity through expanded space-based capabilities.”
The complete “CSpO Vision 2031” document is available here: https://media.defense.gov/2022/Feb/22/2002942522/-1/-1/0/CSPO-VISION-2031.PDF?source=GovDelivery (Source: US DoD)
21 Feb 22. GA-EMS completes FDR of spacecraft design for USSF EWS programme. The company’s team includes EO Vista, Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), and Parsons. General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has achieved a milestone for the US Space Force (USSF) Space Systems Command electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) weather system (EWS) satellite programme. The company’s spacecraft prototype for the programme has successfully completed the final design review (FDR). The prototype has been designed by leveraging a reliable, redundant bus with a high-performance EO/IR weather sensor payload. The achievement follows after the company announced increased scope of its proposed EO/IR weather system satellite for the programme. In November 2021, the company updated the prototype from a one-year sensor demonstrator to an on-orbit three-to-five-year prototype spacecraft with residual operational capabilities. The EWS satellite programme seeks to help the USSF to move to modern weather satellites from ageing on-orbit systems and deliver essential weather data to the warfighter. GA-EMS space systems vice-president Gregg Burgess said: “The Defense Meteorological Satellite Programme satellites are rapidly reaching end of life.
“By pivoting to provide operational capability, we enable the Space Force to continue to support the warfighter by filling EO/IR cloud data gaps created as legacy satellites are retired.
“Our world-class manufacturing, test and integration facilities are ready to meet the critical build and launch timelines for EWS.”
GA-EMS is serving as the prime contractor of the project and its team includes EO Vista, Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) and Parsons. EO Vista is responsible for delivering the EO/IR weather sensor payload, AER for weather product generation, and Parsons is offering Enterprise Ground Station command and control and operations support. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
21 Feb 22. L3Harris Completes Imager Integration for NOAA’s Advanced Environmental Satellite.
- ABIs radically improve weather observation through advanced technology
- Achieves resolution 4 times greater, 5 times faster than previous satellites
- Delivers high-resolution video of weather and environmental systems
The fourth Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) built by L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has been successfully integrated into NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U), completing the series of advanced weather sensors for the GOES program, slated to launch in 2024.
The ABIs onboard the GOES series of satellites provide revolutionary technology by advancing weather observation and environmental monitoring services, and also by providing more advanced notice of fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. The ABI provides high-resolution video of weather and environmental systems using 16 spectral bands delivering three times the amount of spectral coverage, four times the resolution and five times faster than the previous generation of GOES satellites.
For nearly 60 years, L3Harris has developed breakthrough technology and launched innovative solutions that further improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, measure climate change and increase life-saving warning times. The third ABI is onboard NOAA’s GOES-T satellite, scheduled to launch March 1, 2022. GOES satellites are under command and control of the L3Harris-built enterprise ground system. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
21 Feb 22. UK satellite firm signs launch deal with SpaceX. Satellite Vu will share a ride into space on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to green the planet. UK space firm, Satellite Vu, have signed a launch deal with Elon Musk’s renowned aerospace company, SpaceX, to launch the world’s highest resolution thermal imaging satellite in early 2023. Satellite Vu will be part of a rideshare launch on one of SpaceX’s Transporter missions aboard Falcon 9, which has proven to be the most reliable rockets to launch satellites into orbit in recent years. The mission will launch the first of Satellite Vu’s seven UK built satellites into a low earth orbit. Satellite Vu has been well funded, so far raising £15 million in Series A investment and receiving two grants from the UK Space Agency and a third grant from the European Space Agency (ESA) The satellites can collect thermal data, both day and night, of the built and natural environment at any location on the planet. The full constellation will have the ability to measure the heat signature of any building multiple times a day, enabling Satellite Vu to provide near real time insights about building heat loss, giving an accurate image of where to implement energy optimisation investments, offering substantial cost saving benefits to both public and private sector. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are building the satellites which have been designed with a high resolution 3.5m resolution mid-wave infrared imager with video capability and a sensitivity of less than 2 degrees Celsius. The satellite video generation capability adds unique advantages over traditional imagery, allowing for the detection of highly dynamic features and the building of 3D profiles, useful for a range of applications such as alleviating the effect of heat islands in inner cities, monitoring the pollution of waterways from industrial processes, reducing the cost of heating buildings and ensuring buildings are energy efficient, and assessing the activity status of solar farms.
Anthony Baker, Founder and CEO of Satellite Vu, said: “We are delighted to have agreed to launch with SpaceX which will see the first of our innovative satellites launched into space. It is a really exciting time for the UK space sector and our satellites will make a real difference to the fight against climate change.”
18 Feb 22. AirFab to provide Wide-band SATCOM System work stands for P-8A aircraft. The work stands have been designed in partnership with the DOD and the US Navy. Victoria-based AirFab has secured a contract from the US Navy to deliver 22 Wide-Band Satellite Telecommunications (SATCOM) system work stands. The contract is worth over $1.77m (A$2.46m) and the work stands are for the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). The US Navy granted the contract after verification and validation during 2020.
AirFab manager Michael Millsteed said: “This type of export opportunity not only provides growth and ongoing work to AirFab’s current staff but gives us an opportunity to increase employment and training that supports a network of more than 20 small and medium-sized enterprises that we work with. The materials we use in our equipment are 90% Australian made, and the steel and aluminium are sourced from local manufacturers.”
AirFab had partnered with the Department of Defence (DOD) and the US Navy to design the work stand. The firm is also producing eight work stands for the Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon fleet. The work stands enable technicians to access the P-8A Wide-Band SATCOM station, and to carry out fuselage inspections securely without stretching too much.
Defence P-8A management unit deputy director wing commander Adam Bowler said: “The highly skilled Australian workforce that supports the P-8A partnership with the United States Navy has contributed significant improvements in the safety and longevity of our fleet.
“Australia has supported the United States Navy capability via our domestic expertise in aircraft husbandry, our harsh environment and limited population centres demand proficiency in airframe degradation protection as well as dependable, deployable support equipment.”
Last month, NORSTA Maritime won a $50.3m (A$70m) contract to serve as the regional maintenance provider for the Cairns Regional Maintenance Centre. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Feb 22. Relativity Space Announced the Qualification for Their Terran 1 Rocket. Terran 1’s interstage was successfully removed from the test stand, completing its structural ATP test, which finalizes all full-scale structural testing of Relativity’s first flight vehicle. Achieving this turning point proves that Relativity’s 3D printed rocket structure is ready to face flight loads. January 2022: Finished internal precision cleaning of S2 and sealed off the tanks, which means no more internal work to be done on this segment of Terran 1
December 2021: Built a new dual-bay test stand to our testing facility, the E4B test stand in Stennis, MS at NASA Stennis Space Center.
December 2021: Completed a “rainbird” test from our launch pad at LC-16. “Rainbirds” are part of the water system that will be used to mitigate acoustics at liftoff.
Oct 2021: Conducted fully-integrated Stage 1 testing of Terran 1, including hydro proof testing, cryogenic proof testing and flight https://www.relativityspace.com/ (Source: Satnews)
13 Feb 22. Starlink Satellite Loss Explained. On Thursday, February 3 at 1:13 p.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Falcon 9’s second stage deployed the satellites into their intended orbit, with a perigee of approximately 210 kilometers above Earth, and each satellite achieved controlled flight.
SpaceX deploys its satellites into these lower orbits so that in the very rare case any satellite does not pass initial system checkouts it will quickly be deorbited by atmospheric drag. While the low deployment altitude requires more capable satellites at a considerable cost to us, it’s the right thing to do to maintain a sustainable space environment.
Unfortunately, the satellites deployed on Thursday, were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on Friday. These storms cause the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at our low deployment altitudes to increase. In fact, onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches. The Starlink team commanded the satellites into a safe-mode where they would fly edge-on (like a sheet of paper) to minimize drag—to effectively “take cover from the storm”—and continued to work closely with the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron and LeoLabs to provide updates on the satellites based on ground radars.
Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric re-entry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground. This unique situation demonstrates the great lengths the Starlink team has gone to ensure the system is on the leading edge of on-orbit debris mitigation. (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.