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03 Mar 22. Australian Space Park in Adelaide to cost $66m. The government has announced the latest series of investments into the Australian Space Park set to be built in Adelaide, boosting the development of satellites and flying cars.
It will make South Australia the largest satellite manufacturer in the country, according to the government, and will create over 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.
The federal government has invested $20m into the hub, alongside SA’s additional $20 million funding – marking the final price tag $66m for the park.
First announced in December 2021, it will be located at Adelaide Airport due to its close proximity to key aerospace companies, and Lot Fourteen where the Australian Space Agency resides.
The Silicon Valley-like park is a partnership with the South Australian government, alongside four companies including Fleet Space Technologies, Q-CTRL, ATSpace and Alauda Aeronautics.
The “purpose-built facility” will boost manufacturing capabilities with a focus on small satellites and their payloads, rockets and electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL).
Fleet Space Technologies, a small satellite manufacturer will design, engineer and accelerate the development of small satellites to drive down costs and democratise the technology, according to the company.
Alauda Aeronautics is the company behind the Airspeeder flying car race series, developing the technology as a test bed for future air mobility.
Minister for Defence Industry and for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the project will “future-proof” the industry, making it more “self-sufficient”.
“This project will lock in Australia’s ability to deliver along the entire space supply chain,” Minister Price said.
“From research and design through to manufacture and operation, Australia’s credentials as a leading space nation are going to be significantly strengthened by this investment.”
Globally, the space sector is set to grow to US$1trn by 2040, and Australia is positioning itself to be a world leader of the industry.
While many have said the increased funding is being used as leverage for the upcoming election, SA Premier Steven Marshall said it is all about “building a stronger future and opening new opportunities”, and space achieves both.
“This sector is going gangbusters and it’s going to mean our young South Australians can have a rewarding career in the space sector right here without having to move interstate or overseas.”
The news comes only days after the Morrison government announced a $65m funding into developing more launch sites and blasting off more Australian astronauts into space. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Mar 22. New alliance formed to boost Australian ‘national interests’ in space. Eight leading Australian companies have banded together in a new “alliance” to boost the country’s defence industry space capability, dubbed the Australian Defence Industry Space Capability Alliance (ADISCA). The group includes pioneers such as Gilmour Space Technologies, Nova Systems, Southern Launch, DEWC Systems, Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, REDARC Defence Systems and Space Machines Company. The move creates a “genuine sovereign response” to the Commonwealth’s call for Australian industry to provide its “expertise” to further its defence and national interests in space, according to Ian Spencer, chief executive officer at DEWC Systems.
The ASIDCA was unveiled at the 13th Australian Space Forum on Thursday in Adelaide.
The collective capabilities of the members include:
- Launch vehicle design and manufacture
- Space vehicle design and manufacture
- Payload design and manufacture
- In-space propulsion
- In-space transportation
- Launch services and mission control services
- Supporting commercial, civil and defence sectors.
Spencer said the members will work together to develop “cutting-edge space and defence technologies” that will be utilised for Australia’s interests in space.
The move comes months after Australia’s defence industry set out new strategic priorities in September.
Priorities include robotics, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, space, hypersonic weapons, information warfare and cyber capabilities.
Australia has committed to bolstering the industry in recent years and is set on providing 20,000 new jobs by 2030 within the sector.
It follows a similar move in September when 30 Australian companies and universities pushed a $150 million bid to the federal government to establish new space facilities in Queensland.
The group is proposing to enhance homegrown capabilities through the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) Collaboration Stream – a $1.3 billion project announced in 2020.
It is under the Australian Space Manufacturing Network (ASMN), which is spearheaded by Gilmour Space Technologies, a rocket and satellite manufacturer, and backed by the Queensland government.
It comes as many industry leaders have touted that Australia requires a “whole of” space industry that combines government, institutions, and companies together to gain traction from international investors, and to become global pioneers of the sector. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Mar 22. Russia halts deliveries of rocket engines to the US. Russia has decided to stop supplying rocket engines to the United States in retaliation for its sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the state space agency Roscosmos, said on Thursday.
“In a situation like this we can’t supply the United States with our world’s best rocket engines. Let them fly on something else, their broomsticks, I don’t know what,” Rogozin said on state Russian television.
According to Rogozin, Russia has delivered a total of 122 RD-180 engines to the U.S. since 1990s, of which 98 have been used to power Atlas launch vehicles.
Roscosmos will also stop servicing rocket engines it had previously delivered to the U.S., Rogozin said, adding that the U.S. still had 24 engines that would now be left without Russian technical assistance.
Russia has earlier said it was suspending cooperation with Europe on space launches from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana in response to Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Moscow has also demanded guarantees from British satellite company OneWeb that its satellites would not be used for military purposes. OneWeb, in which the British government has a stake, said on Thursday it was suspending all launches from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. read more
Rogozin said Russia would now focus on creating dual-purpose spacecraft in line with the needs of Roscosmos and the Defence Ministry. (Source: Reuters)
01 Mar 22. Lockheed Martin Selects Mission Payload Providers for Missile Warning Satellite System. Raytheon Technologies will provide the payload for the third Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit constellation.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has selected Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX) to provide a second mission payload for the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Block 0 missile warning satellite system – also known as NGG. Both Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) are each already on contract to provide one mission payload for the three-satellite procurement.
Lockheed Martin is currently under contract with the United States Space Force (U.S.S.F.) Space Systems Command (SSC) to build three survivable NGG satellites with enhanced missile warning and resiliency capabilities to stay ahead of the emerging threats. As part of risk-reduction efforts to meet the U.S.S.F.’s imperative to launch the first satellite by 2025, Lockheed Martin selected Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace to develop mission payload designs. The payload designs from both competitors have completed the critical design phase and are on track to fly on the first two NGG satellites. It has yet to be determined which payload will be aboard the first NGG satellite launched in 2025.
“For this ‘Go-Fast’ program, both teams had to meet stringent schedule and performance requirements – which they’ve done. I want to congratulate and thank both teams for their tireless work and we look forward to the first flights of both the mission payloads,” said Joseph Rickers, Lockheed Martin’s NGG program vice president. “These advanced OPIR payloads will support the critical mission by leveraging technologies with new capabilities on an aggressive schedule.”
For this rapid acquisition program, both competitive payload teams were selected and placed under contract just 45 days after the prime contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2018. Aiming to have their advanced payloads eventually integrated into Lockheed Martin’s resilient LM2100 Combat Bus™ space vehicle, the teams quickly completed preliminary design reviews in 2020 and critical design reviews in 2021. Both teams successfully completed environmental testing of their payload engineering development units.
01 Mar 22. US Army activates prepositioned stocks for first time in wake of Ukraine invasion. The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers deploying to Germany in response to the activation of the NATO Response Force are being outfitted with thousands of vehicles and equipment pieces from Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 for the first time in the program’s history.
Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 are stock piles of equipment and gear waiting for rapidly mobilized units to tap into during international military crises. And for the first time in the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s APS-2 program history, the unit was tasked with outfitting an entire brigade as soldiers from Fort Stewart, Georgia, deployed to Europe in the past few days.
Prepositioned equipment and rations is a Cold War-era idea that would have helped U.S. forces rapidly respond to a Soviet assault in West Germany without having to wait on their own units’ shipments of gear.
It was a “break-glass” type of preparation. Soldiers would only touch the stocks in case of war, which is why the utilization of APS-2 in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is historic; It signifies the seriousness of the invasion and the ramifications it may have for Europe and U.S. military members stationed and deployed to the region.
Soldiers from all four battalions of the 405th AFSB worked tirelessly in the first few weeks of February to prep their respective APS-2 sites as tensions with Russia escalated.
“We’ve put a lot of work into planning this out to the smallest of details, and all this planning is helping to make this operation successful,” said Col. Brad Bane, commander of the 405th AFSB. “I’m very proud of our entire team. They’re working tirelessly to execute this complex, no-notice mission.”
Most of the equipment and vehicles currently being drawn are coming from the Coleman work site under the command and control of Army Field Support Battalion-Mannheim. Equipment and vehicles from the ASP-2 draw are in the process of being delivered and handed over at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
Nearly 7,000 soldiers from Fort Stewart, Georgia, were mobilized Feb. 24 in the immediate wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Additional troops in transportation and fire support units also stood up after the response force was activated.
“We are grateful to our allies Canada and the United States for their recent commitments to deploy an additional 7,460 troops, including an armored brigade combat team, artillery units, a naval frigate, and surveillance aircraft, to support this Alliance-wide effort,” Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, head of U.S. European Command and the supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe, said in a Friday statement.
U.S. troops will be assigned to NATO support missions outside of Ukraine as needed. They will join the thousands of troops already spread across Germany and the Baltic states, including Poland, Romania and Hungary.
Included in the equipment issue are tracked vehicles like the M1 Abrams main battle tank and M2 Bradley fighting vehicle. Also included are Paladins, generators, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and more.
Additional equipment from APS-2 will be sent commercially from Mannheim to Grafenwoehr.
“The execution of APS-2 ECHA operations is a complex and challenging task that truly requires a robust team effort to ensure mission success,” AFSB-Germany commander Lt. Col. Rebecca Milkowski said in an Army press release.
The task of organizing and issuing APS-2 was a multi-unit effort, Milkowski said. She cited support given by U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, 7th Army Training Command, 624th Movement Control Team, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 409th Contracting Support Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
“It is incredible to see so many diverse organizations come together to enable our team to rapidly receive, stage and issue an ABCT’s worth of equipment to 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. in support of operations here in Europe,” Milkowski said in the release.
More than 600 pieces of equipment were initially drawn from the 405th AFSB’s APS-2 sites in early February, and sent forward to U.S. forces already augmenting military missions in Eastern Europe.
Thousands of pieces of equipment will continue to be drawn and shipped to Grafenwoehr to support 1st ABCT soldiers as their European deployment progresses. (Source: Army Times)
01 Mar 22. An Australian space race is at hand, maybe? A sovereign space industry is brewing in Australia, with three key players that are spearheading the way. But is it a local space race, or is it ‘Down Under against the world’? Gilmour Space Technologies, Southern Launch and Black Sky Aerospace are some of the core Aussie leaders of the launch industry today, and while each are steaming towards establishing sovereign capability, they’re all racing on slightly different tracks.
So, who are they?
Southern Launch is building the first permanent rocket launch site at Whalers Way, on the tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.
When it’s fully operational, CEO Lloyd Damp told Space Connect in a podcast episode last year the company hopes it will be “on a par” with Cape Canaveral in Florida; the biggest space launch facility in the world.
The facility is aiming to execute 36 launches a year when finalised, compared with the legendary US site’s 40.
In September, it attempted to launch the first ever rocket from the site – for Taiwanese space company TiSPACE – but all three times they were unsuccessful due to weather forecasts, technical issues and a fire anomaly.
While the company hasn’t announced a new launch date, if the early trials go well, it could become the country’s first permanent, long-term rocket launch site.
In early February, the company signed its second agreement with a German company, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) to launch its three-stage rocket from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex later this year.
RFA’s small rocket aims to deliver 1,350 kilograms to a 300-kilometre polar orbit, and it’s hoped it will eventually launch up to 50 times a year.
The deal was completed at the Global Space and Technology Convention in Singapore.
Black Sky Aerospace
Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) is a solid rocket fuel manufacturer from Queensland and is set on launching into suborbital space for the first time from Australia.
Late last year, the company fired a rocket from its private test and launch site near Goondiwindi in southern Queensland, aimed at providing the company with key test and evaluation (T&E) data to support its development of sovereign space-launch capability.
According to the company, the Sighter 150 rocket flew to an altitude of almost 30,000 feet in less than 30 seconds, carrying a software payload for Australian cyber security company BITSCore.
This was the third in a series of T&E rocket launches testing Black Sky’s in-house avionics and telemetry systems.
In early February, the company bagged additional funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) managed Commercialisation Fund, which is providing just under $500,000 to assist manufacturing the materials required to develop solid rocket motors for its sovereign space and defence projects.
Gilmour Space Technologies
Gilmour Space, also headquartered in Queensland, is building the first sovereign Australian rocket, dubbed Eris, to be launched from home ground into orbital space.
In late 2021, the company successfully completed a 75-second test fire of its new rocket engine, which it hopes to launch in Queensland in the latter half of 2022.
The company, Australia’s largest sovereign space employer, was founded by two brothers in 2013 and specialises in creating orbital-class hybrid propulsion technologies, which are safer and cheaper than traditional rockets.
It’s already signed an agreement with Juru Traditional Owners at Bowen, Queensland, to support the land as a rocket launch site later this year.
In May, the Queensland government announced it was committed to supporting Gilmour in the development of the launch and months later, it secured $61m in funding from venture capital investors.
The smallsat – a spacecraft less than 500 kilograms in mass – will have a payload of up to 215 kilograms, launching into 500-kilometre sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
The company has also been approved as being formally “Australian made”, meaning the rocket can have the Australian logo printed on it.
Are they all that different?
While they each boast “sovereign launch capability” in a nutshell, they are targeting fairly different markets.
BSA and Gilmour both are developing rockets, but each are heading for different directions. BSA is launching a rocket into suborbital space, and Gilmour is going to orbital space.
The terms are interchanged constantly in the space industry but are vastly different. Typically, suborbital is referred to if the flight is lower than orbital flights, or not as far into space.
Space.com refers to it like this: “The main difference between orbital and suborbital flight is the speed at which a vehicle is traveling. An orbital spacecraft must achieve what is known as orbital velocity, whereas a suborbital rocket flies at a speed below that.
“A good way to picture this is to imagine a ball being thrown at ground level – at a normal throwing speed, the ball travels in an arc through the air before hitting the ground. But say you were to put a little rocket on the ball that made it travel so fast that its arc shape would perfectly match the curvature of the Earth. At that point, the ball would have achieved orbit and would fly at a consistent height above our planet.”
Southern Launch is also entirely different: the company is developing a launch site in Australia, but for customers that may be foreign, like TiSPACE and RFA.
Essentially, it will be the first ever rocket airport in Australia. But this means that while Australia may be the ground from which rockets are launched, it will not always be a local spacecraft.
Despite that, Australia having its own launch site will ideally attract many customers from overseas or within the nation; a goal the government is striving for.
Is it a space race, or is it Australia against the world?
“We don’t see it so much as ‘competition’ as much as companies trying to build their part of an ecosystem,” Black Sky Aerospace CEO Blake Nikolic told Space Connect.
“Even the companies that are seemingly ‘competing’ have a different focus and end goal, so we are not focused on competing, rather we want to see how all the Australian companies in this industry are going to be supported.”
As Australia is newer to the space sector, industry leaders have consistently praised competition between states and companies, as it’s facilitated a ramp up in start-ups and local operations.
However, because the industry is still being established, the supply chain is only just being built, therefore competition is somewhat limited.
Southern Launch’s CEO Lloyd Damp welcomes the competition, as “it can only further improve safety, drive innovation and create additional opportunities for the Australian space market”.
“Southern Launch is at the forefront of building Australia’s sovereign space launch capability; we hold Australia’s only launch facility licences, and have helped our first customer, TiSPACE be granted Australia’s first space launch permit under the new Space Act,” he told Space Connect.
While the three companies differ to an extent, their target clients will inevitably intertwine, but Gilmour Space argues the competition does not lie within Australia, but against the world.
Michelle Gilmour, director of marketing and communications at Gilmour Space told Space Connect that each company is “looking for customers outside of Australia” because “that’s where the money is”.
She said Europe and the United States is where the company eyes out its customer base, as the nations have pioneered the industry for years before.
CEO Adam Gilmour said: “If there’s any competition, I’d like to say let’s all work as hard as we can to get our stuff working … in a very collaborative effort to try to get our stuff proven and working, and then we all win.”
Although there is a sense of camaraderie between companies, it seems premature to rule out any competition between them.
Maybe it isn’t a Bezos versus Branson space race, but Australia is still waiting for a commercial rocket to successfully launch from home ground, and one of these companies will do it first. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Mar 22. Space and Earth weather forecasting across the Western Hemisphere just got a little boost thanks to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-T), an advanced weather satellite built by Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The satellite successfully launched from Florida’s Space Coast at 4:38 p.m. ET.
“GOES-T’s launch is the culmination of innovative engineering, science and strong teamwork between NASA, NOAA and Lockheed Martin,” said Jagdeep Shergill, Lockheed Martin’s GOES-R chief engineer and program manager. “With the impact climate change has on weather patterns around the world, the work of satellites like GOES-T is more crucial than ever before, to help keep people safe now and in the future.”
GOES-T will be renamed GOES-18 when it reaches geostationary orbit. Once operational, GOES-18 will take GOES-17’s place tracking atmospheric rivers, floods, wildfires, drought, and other severe weather and climate phenomena over the West Coast of the United States.
Advanced Monitoring of Weather, Oceans and Climate
As climate change continues to drive more frequent and severe environmental impacts, the GOES-R satellite series – of which GOES-T is the third – uses sophisticated technology to put information in the hands of those who need it most, when they need it.
Before it starts collecting and sharing critical weather data, the satellite’s journey to space began in Littleton, Colorado, where it was designed and built by Lockheed Martin engineers.
Based on Lockheed Martin’s novel A2100 satellite bus design, the spacecraft features two high-tech instruments built by the company’s Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California:
- Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), which is a first-of-its-kind operational lightning mapper flown into its orbit, tracking lightning across the U.S. in real-time. By collecting data on the frequency, location and extent of lightning discharges, GLM allows meteorologists to quickly identify intensifying storms and take appropriate action. In 2020, GLM captured a lightning megaflash nearly 500 miles long that broke the world record for longest lightning flash.
- Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), focuses on space weather and measures the sun in extreme ultraviolet wavelength range and provides solar images. SUVI is essential to understanding active areas on the sun and predicting solar events that may disrupt power utilities, communication or navigation systems here on Earth.
Over its 10-year operational lifetime, GOES-T can produce over a terabyte of data per day and monitors severe weather continuously, supporting NOAA’s mission to provide weather data to save lives.
What’s After Lift Off?
Now that it’s in space, GOES-T will undergo an on-orbit checkout of its instruments and systems before beginning official operations in January 2023.
In addition to severe weather monitoring, it will do things like:
- Identify volcanic eruptions, even ones under the ocean, like the recent event near Tonga
- Measure land and sea surface temperatures to track drought conditions and warming oceans
- Provide early alerts to emergency responders for wildfires, including those caused by lightning strikes
- Observe solar flares that could impact telecommunication on and around Earth
With three of the four GOES-R weather satellites now launched, GOES-U, the last satellite in the series, is in production and planned for a 2024 launch.
Beyond the GOES-R series, Lockheed Martin looks forward to continued partnership with NASA and NOAA as they look ahead to future weather and climate missions.
01 Mar 22. Satellites to provide continuous early-warning missile detection coverage over the northern hemisphere. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Ball Aerospace will design and develop the two mission payloads for the U.S. Space Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar (NGP) program.
“NGP combines Northrop Grumman’s proven experience in missile warning and defense with Ball Aerospace’s expertise in optical sensors and mission data processing,” said Sarah Willoughby, vice president, overhead persistent infrared and geospatial systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our team’s solution for NGP will assure continuous coverage of the northern hemisphere – especially the critical Arctic region – to protect against incoming threats.”
In May 2020, the U.S. Space Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $2.37bn contract for the first phase of NGP program. Together, Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace will design and develop the sensor payloads for the two NGP satellites at Northrop Grumman’s site in Azusa, California. The team will also perform systems engineering, flight hardware and ground system design and development, and risk reduction in support of a critical design review.
The two satellites, operating in highly elliptical orbits, will include infrared sensors to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles; an enhanced communication system that will transmit mission data to the ground, allowing decision makers to identify infrared heat signatures of incoming threats; and resiliency features that reduce vulnerabilities to counter-space and cyberattacks.
Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.
01 Mar 22. Boeing is Building Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS)-11+ Satellite Using Advanced Techniques to Deliver Unrivaled Capability at “Record-Breaking Speed.”
– 3D printing, rapid prototyping, agile development enabling high-paced production while enhancing system performance
– With more than double the capability of its predecessors, increased flexibility and resilience, as well as improved anti-jamming, WGS-11+’s mission utility is unrivaled
Boeing has begun building the latest version of the Wideband Global SATCOM satellite system, WGS-11+, using advanced techniques to effectively integrate the latest commercial technology while enabling a high-paced five-year schedule that will deliver years faster than similar clean-sheet designs.
“We’re moving at record-breaking speed to deliver the unmatched resilience, efficiency, and throughput WGS-11+ offers our warfighters,” said Col. Matt Spencer, Space Systems Command Geosynchronous Earth Orbit and Polar Division Senior Materiel Leader. “Boeing’s ability to rapidly integrate the latest commercial technology into our infrastructure gives us a competitive edge on the battlefield.”
Boeing and the U.S. Space Force completed the system’s critical design review in late 2021, officially launching the program’s production phase. Leveraging additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, agile development and other advanced techniques, Boeing has created cost and schedule benefits, while boosting system performance.
“We’re printing more than a thousand parts for WGS-11+, giving us the capability to introduce customization in a way that improves system performance, without requiring extensive integration times or customized tooling,” said Troy Dawson, Boeing Government Satellite Systems vice president. “We understand how important speed is to the mission. That production speed translates to effectiveness against threats. As we continue to invest our technology and processes, we know that a similarly capable satellite could be delivered even faster.”
WGS-11+ showcases an evolution in phased array technology. Based on Boeing’s advances on its commercial 702X software-defined satellite payload, it is capable of generating hundreds of electronically-steered beams simultaneously, providing users with more than twice the mission capability compared to satellites within the existing WGS fleet.
Like 702X, each individual beam is shapeable and can be uniquely tailored to any operation, enabling increased mission flexibility and responsiveness. Narrower beam widths with dual polarization unique to WGS-11+ help protect against jamming and interference while allowing greater frequency reuse.
When it joins the constellation of ten WGS satellites, WGS-11+ will substantially increase throughput capacity of essential communication services for the U.S. government and its allies. It is scheduled for delivery in 2024.
01 Mar 22. Funding for next generation of space science missions. New funding has been awarded to 10 UK projects that will develop technologies for the next generation of space science missions. A high resolution snapshot of the edge of the Sun, where narrow straw-like features seen extending upwards from the limb are believed to carry vast quantities of energy outwards into interplanetary space. Image provided by David Jess (QUB) and William Bate (QUB)
The UK has been at the heart of international space science missions, including the once-in-a-generation James Webb Space Telescope, which launched in December; Solar Orbiter, a mission to study the Sun and its effects on the solar system; and the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.
The new funding aims to encourage collaboration between industry and academia and boost technology that will support the future exploration of the universe through space-based astronomy, cosmology, solar system science and astrophysics.
Led by organisations across Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, the projects include using tiny, digitally controlled mirrors, smaller than the width of a human hair, to counteract the movements of space telescopes and get sharper images. If successful, the UK-led technology could be used as a basis for instruments on future space missions.
Another will develop a space-based atomic clock small enough to fit inside a cubesat the size of a microwave. Tests of fundamental physics, such as quantum mechanics and general relativity, rely on extremely precise time measurement. An ultra-accurate atomic clock that can fit into a tiny satellite could help revolutionise space-based physics experiments, as well as deep-space navigation for planetary science and exploration missions.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “The UK’s space and satellite technology sector is already worth over £16bn and growing fast. As well as our ground-breaking leadership on projects like the James Webb Telescope and Solar Orbiter missions, our UK Space Agency is supporting hundreds of SMEs developing cutting edge technology. From miniature atomic clocks and tiny digitally-controlled mirrors that help channel light into moving spacecraft, to new space weather detectors to help warn of devastating solar storms, these new projects will ensure the UK continues to grow as a global science superpower.”
The Technology for Space Science call is a joint initiative between the UK Space Agency’s National Space Technology Programme and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation. A total of £455,000 has gone to the 10 projects across the UK.
In addition to national funding, the UK is a major contributor to the European Space Agency’s Science Programme, investing approximately £94m per year, giving UK companies opportunities to bid for high value contracts and access to European suppliers and customers, and allowing UK researchers to collaborate with European and international partners on pioneering space science missions that would be too large and ambitious for one country alone.
The National Space Strategy outlines the long-term plans to grow the UK space sector and make Britain a science and technology superpower, including building on manufacturing and technology capacity, catalysing investment and working internationally.
The projects in detail
Rb-TP: A Rubidium atomic clock for tests of fundamental physics
Lead: TwinParadox Ltd, London
Optical atomic clocks in space will be able to make orders-of-magnitude improvements to tests of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. They also open up new fields such as Gravitational Wave observatories, extreme-VLBI astronomy, and have the potential to revolutionise deep-space navigation for planetary science and exploration missions.
Warm rubidium vapour optical clocks are an excellent candidate for a space optical clock, achieving stabilities of parts in 10-15 at one hour – better than any existing space clock. This project will perform the necessary pre-cursor design for an ultra-compact Rb-TP clock in a small, low-cost format, suitable for a CubeSat demonstration.
Miniaturisation of high-precision radio receivers for cosmological observations of the Dark Ages from cost-effective space platforms on Moon’s orbit
Lead: University of Cambridge
Partner: STFC RAL Space
Low frequency radio cosmology aims at studying the mysterious early Universe (Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn). The observational endeavour is an extreme instrumental challenge, where a cosmological signal needs to be extracted from much brighter (~ 100,000 times) noise signals originated in the sky, on Earth and in the radio telescope itself. Ground-based experiments face challenges like human-made interference and distortions introduced by Earth’s ionosphere. This project will build a prototype miniature receiver for radio cosmology observations from the quietest location in the solar system: Far-side of Moon’s orbit. This could be installed in a cost-effective CubeSat platform enabling an iterative experimental approach without the contaminating factors.
A technology roadmap for astrophysical X-ray interferometry
Lead: University of Leicester
Partner: Open University
The highest resolution images of the X-ray sky have to-date been taken by the Chandra X-ray observatory, a remarkable telescope that has revolutionised our view of high energy processes in astrophysics. But telescopes of this type appear to be reaching a practical limiting resolution. A radical new approach to X-ray imaging is needed to drive future advances in X-ray astronomy. This proposal will create a technology roadmap aiming to deliver the tools that astronomers need for new scientific observations – from imaging exoplanets passing in front of nearby stars to resolving the event horizon of a black hole.
Feasibility Study of a Moon-enabled Sun Occultation Mission
Lead: Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey
According to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s most recent assessment of space weather, better modelling and observations of the inner heliosphere represent a “crucial step in understanding all aspects of solar activities”. These include catastrophic events such as solar flares and corona mass ejections that can wreak havoc on power grids and space-based technologies. This project wants to explore the feasibility of a spacecraft mission aimed at collecting more frequent and higher-quality measurements of the inner Sun corona via Moon-enabled total solar eclipses in space. Candidate spacecraft trajectories will be researched in the chaotic dynamics of the Sun-Earth-Moon system and used to inform the preliminary design of a UK-led small satellite platform.
Integral Field Units: the next generation of space-based solar instrumentation
Lead: Queen’s University Belfast
Placing high-powered telescopes in space offers an unrivalled viewpoint of celestial objects, including our nearest star, the Sun. Unfortunately, the spacecraft mechanics necessary to maintain stable orbits often introduce unwanted jitter in the telescope pointing, which can result in blurring of the acquired images. This project will investigate the suitability of digitally controlled small-scale mirrors, which are smaller than the width of a human hair, to reduce the impact of spacecraft jitter by allowing the re-pointing of incoming light at very high rates (exceeding thousands of times each second). Understanding the suitability of micromirrors for spaceflight will pave the way for future UK-led instrumentation suites in the decades to come.
GaiaNIR:UK – capacity building and feasibility study for next generation astrometry
Lead: Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
Partners: Durham University, University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the UK Astronomical Technology Centre and Leonardo UK Ltd
The focus of the study is to conduct initial feasibility studies related to the development of a future near-infrared astrometry space mission in the context of the ESA Voyage 2050 programme, building on UK strengths in science, data and IR detector technologies. Observing in the infrared would allow the study of regions hidden in the optical due to dust, for instance the central regions of the Milky Way, and thus allow a detailed understanding of our galaxy’s ecosystem and formation history.
Ultrasonically assisted augers
Lead: University of Glasgow
Exploring the subsurface of another planet may require us to drill below the ground, but low gravity might make it difficult to create the forces and torques required to operate a rotating drill string. However, ultrasonic vibration – small, high frequency movements – are known to fluidise soil-like materials. This project will determine if this fluidisation phenomenon can be applied to a drilling auger, which would reduce the force and torque that would need to be applied and allow us to explore the terrain using smaller, and therefore faster and cheaper, planetary landers.
Improved control loop for a miniaturised space weather magnetometer
Lead: Imperial College London
Imperial College is leading a project to improve the performance of miniaturised magnetic field detectors that are deployed on nano-satellites to detect space weather disturbances coming from the Sun. These disturbances can cause serious environmental interference on the ground such as shutting down power grids. The project involves development of a new type of electronics control that is compatible with the most sensitive magneto-resistive sensors, solid state miniature sensors that are more commonly use in navigation and vehicle detection applications.
Using Multivariate Statistical Analysis to fit spectroscopy data from remote and in situ analysis of planetary surfaces: A proof-of-concept assessment
Lead: The Open University
One of the most powerful tools that scientists use for the remote exploration of planetary bodies is reflectance spectroscopy. When light from the Sun is reflected back from the surface of a planetary body, its spectrum (or pattern of wavelengths) is changed in ways that depend on the composition and roughness of the surface. Spectra are interpreted by comparison with known rocks and minerals – but it is not an exact procedure. The team is developing mathematical techniques that can speed up and make more accurate the interpretation of planetary spectra. This will help future exploration of space and recognition of potential in situ resources.
Optical Coatings by the ContinUous Processing of Large ARea Parts using Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation (“OCULAR”)
Lead: Keronite International Ltd, Haverhill, Suffolk
Black surface treatments are needed for optical instruments and solar shielding to withstand the extreme conditions found in space, but very few surface treatment technologies meet these requirements. Keronite’s proprietary plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) process involves creating a ceramic oxide layer on the surface of metals, which offers exceptional properties for space applications.
To cater for an increased demand for coating large components, including the next generation of space telescopes, the OCULAR approach envisages an innovative continuous coating process whereby only a section of a part is coated at any given time while rotating the part to ensure full coverage. This will be a globally unique capability that will put UK space technology at the forefront of the future development for large space parts requiring functional optical coatings. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
28 Feb 22. Australia to fast-track space investment. The Australian government has announced a further $65m-worth of investment in Australian space technology, including a mission to put an Australian astronaut into space. It will co-invest more than $32m in the development of up to three new or existing spaceports or launch sites across Australia. The Australian Space Agency will also receive more than $32m to procure and provide spaceflights and services for the Australian space sector.
This will help the sector gain an important ‘flight qualification’ – a common barrier to transitioning space technology from the laboratory to space.
The more than $32 m includes a $3.5m national student space challenge that would see student payloads sent into orbit.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding is part of the Government’s ongoing mission to expand Australia’s space sector, invest in cutting edge technologies and create new jobs.
“The journey to sending an Australian into space means serious investment in local jobs, local technologies and local businesses,” he said. “Any astronaut and any spacecraft has a team of thousands behind them, not to mention invaluable technology and research and carefully manufactured parts.
“That’s why, since 2018, we have invested more than $800m as part of our mission to triple the size of the sector to $12bn and create up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030.”
The Agency has also been tasked with international partners to put an Australian astronaut back into space.
South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said the investment was a major boost for South Australia’s space sector. The State has already created nearly 1600 space jobs, he said: “We are the home of the Space Discovery Centre, Mission Control, the Australian Space Agency, the Australian Space Park and more than 90 space-related companies are already based right here in SA.”
Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said this latest investment would provide Australian industry with further opportunities to grow their capability and access global supply chains – and support more launches taking off on home soil. At present some five separate Australian launch sites are operational or under development: two of them, in South Australia at Whalers Way and Koonibba, have already been licensed to undertake launch activities while three more are under development in the Northern Territory and Queensland with the first launches planned this calendar year.
“This is about so much more than just the excitement or inspiration of launch,” Minister Price said. “By investing in the growth of the Australian space sector we’re investing in the future of all Australians.
“We’re doing that through investments via the Australian Space Agency and prioritising the space sector through our Modern Manufacturing Strategy and Australia’s Economic Accelerator.”
Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said the Fast-Tracking Access to Space package would help address gaps in the local sector.
“By supporting Australian businesses and researchers to get their products into space more quickly, we are helping them to demonstrate their capabilities to the world, which in turn will create new opportunities that see them grow,” Mr Palermo said.
“This co-investment in the development of spaceports makes Australia’s intentions clear – we want to become a launch nation of choice to attract further private sector investment.
“We are already a desirable launch location thanks to a range of factors, including our unique geographic perspective and political stability – this investment will cement that reputation.” (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
01 Mar 22. Lockheed Martin Accelerates UK Space Strategy as it Eyes Up New Manufacturing Investment in North East England for its Growing UK Space Business. Lockheed Martin, a global leader in space systems development, manufacturing and services, is looking for North East businesses and skills organisations to support its plans to develop a bold new future for the UK’s space sector. Senior executives from the company are in Newcastle today to explore options for its space business, which could potentially include manufacturing as well as research and development based in the North East.
Nik Smith, Lockheed Martin’s UK and Europe regional director for Space, says that with favourable market conditions and the government’s ambition to grow the sector, the company is exploring options for a new facility in the North East which could create up to 2,300 jobs. It would play a critical role in supporting the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and accelerate the UK’s National and Defence Space Strategies by increasing the space and security capabilities available to government, commercial customers, and the export market. Such a facility would represent an investment of over £50m.
“We are committed to making the UK one of the most prosperous and capable space sectors in the world. With its strong manufacturing heritage, highly-skilled workforce and reputation for quality, we’ve identified North East England as a strong contender for our future operations, potentially creating new high-technology engineering and manufacturing jobs for the region,” Smith said.
Lockheed Martin is already active in the UK’s space sector. It is currently in partnership with the UK Space Agency and SaxaVord Space Centre in the Shetlands, to conduct northern Europe’s first vertical satellite launch. This is expected to create hundreds of jobs and inject millions of pounds into the Shetland Islands economy. The company is also a founding member of the UK’s new national space team, Athena, which includes Serco, Inmarsat and CGI UK, who each are world leaders in providing technology and services across defence, space, communications and information technology to governments, businesses, and other organisations. Athena is committed to using its expertise and global presence to grow the UK’s space sector.
“With operations in the UK for over 80 years, Lockheed Martin has a proud track record of supporting the UK economy and today has people based at 23 locations,” said Paul Livingston, the company’s UK chief executive. “From postal sorting technology to helping build the UK’s first commercial spaceport, our innovations and partnerships help solve some of the UK’s most complex challenges. We invest on average £1.8bn in the UK each year. Increasing our investments is a key tenant of our global growth strategy and will enable us to partner with the government as it looks to achieve its vision of making the UK one of the most attractive and innovative space sectors in the world.”
Globally, Lockheed Martin is one of the world’s biggest space businesses. It has been involved in all 22 NASA missions to Mars and has partnered with the agency to explore every planet in our solar system. Today the company is driving innovations to help its customers do even more in orbit. This includes designing smarter satellites that operate like smartphones in the sky, with apps that can be updated in orbit so they can adapt as mission needs on the ground change and developing the first ever free flying commercial space station, known as Starlab, in partnership with Nanoracks and Voyager Space. (Source: PR Newswire)
01 Mar 22. North Korea conducts test to support development of ‘reconnaissance satellite.’ North Korea launched on 27 February a test to support its development of a new reconnaissance satellite. The test was conducted the same day that Japan and South Korea reported that Pyongyang had launched what they said was a ballistic missile.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on 28 February that the unspecified “important test” was aligned to the country’s “plan for the development of a reconnaissance satellite”.
It said the test was conducted by North Korea’s National Space Development Administration and the Academy of National Defense Science.
According to the KCNA, the test confirmed the “characteristics and operation accuracy of the high-resolution imaging system, the data transmission system, and the altitude-control system”. (Source: Janes)
28 Feb 22. Fleet Space Technologies establishes US headquarters. Adelaide-based Fleet Space Technologies has established its first international HQ in Houston, Texas. This is the first phase of the company’s global expansion plan and follows its highly successful Series B funding round in November 2021 which raised US$26.4m. This expansion to the US brings proximity to large-scale market opportunities across multiple client industries, the company says, including natural resources, energy, and sovereign strategic functions. The company is creating what it believes is the world’s most advanced low-power satellite network to secure planet-wide connectivity coverage for millions of devices through the implementation of its proprietary smallsat technology. This includes designing entirely in-house a 64-element steerable beam antenna for a cubesat which will also be built in-house by Fleet Space at a new factory to be built in Adelaide. This technology has the potential for applications across multiple industries of significant strategic importance to the United States. The Houston HQ will be an anchor location feeding satellite offices in California and eventually the East Coast, placing Fleet at the heart of the world’s leading government space agency, NASA.
“The technology we have developed has the potential to provide worldwide connectivity to multiple industries,” said Fleet Space CEO and co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini. “This is reflected in our global ambition and commitment to the United States as the first phase of our international expansion. We are already seeing significant demand for our cutting-edge solutions across the Americas and this move represents an affirmation of our belief in the rapid growth of the largest space technology market in the world.”
Fleet is already working in lock-step with US space industry regulators and has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for market access for its beamforming smallsats in the US; Fleet’s smart edge device, called a portal, has completed FCC certification for use in the US.
Fleet Space Technologies solutions in the United States have proven capability to protect sovereign assets. For example, full global connectivity enabled by Fleet’s existing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation of Proxima and Centauri communications satellites can implement the strategic monitoring of remote assets in oil fields. This dramatically reduces risk and downtime through applications like high-definition recognition cameras that can identify the difference between sanctioned and unknown vehicles approaching critical assets.
In the maritime sector this extends to active monitoring of naval and merchant surface fleets. This affirms the strategic selection of Houston as a base due to its proximity to the United States’ largest resource companies. Fleet Space says it will also shortly announce the creation of a highly innovative new technical solution of lower impact mineral exploration that has been identified as of key strategic importance by US Federal authorities. (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
28 Feb 22. Rocket Lab Selects Virginia for Neutron Launch Site & Extensive Manufacturing Complex. Construction to Begin on Neutron Manufacturing, Operations, and Launch Facilities in Accomack County, Bringing As Many As 250 New Jobs to Eastern Shore. Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (Rocket Lab), a leading launch and space systems company, today revealed it has selected Wallops Island, Virginia, as the location for its first launch site and extensive manufacturing and operations facilities, for its 8-ton payload class reusable Neutron rocket. The Neutron Production Complex and launch pad for its Neutron rocket will be located adjacent to and within the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The complex will be home to a rocket production, assembly, and integration facility, as well as a dedicated launch pad for the Neutron rocket located on the southern end of Wallops Island. The estimated 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art complex will be constructed on a 28-acre site adjacent to the Wallops Island Flight Facility and will include a Launch Control Center, Rocket Lab’s fifth global operations center for launch activities and on-orbit operations. To support rapid production of the Neutron rocket, current plans for the complex include automated fiber placement robotic production systems capable of laying up meters of Neutron’s new, specially formulated carbon composite structures in minutes. As a reusable rocket, Neutron is designed to land back on the launch pad after a mission and from there it would be returned to the production complex for refurbishment and re-flight. The manufacturing complex will be located within proximity of Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2, the Company’s launch site for the Electron launch vehicle, the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019. Rocket Lab’s Neutron Production Complex is expected to create as many as 250 jobs in Virginia.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, says: “Neutron is a new generation of rocket that will advance the way space is accessed, and Virginia makes perfect sense as a significant site for Neutron’s early development. Its position on the eastern seaboard is the ideal location to support both Neutron’s expected frequent launch cadence and the rocket’s return-to-Earth capability of landing back at its launch site after lift-off; and as one of only four states in the United States with an FAA spaceport license for missions to Earth orbit or on interplanetary trajectories, Virginia is home to an active and experienced aerospace workforce we can pull from to support Neutron’s development and launch. I’m thankful for the Commonwealth’s enthusiasm and backing of Neutron which, combined with the state’s rich heritage as an aerospace state, made it difficult to see anywhere else but Virginia to begin Neutron’s journey.”
Neutron is Rocket Lab’s next generation launch vehicle in development, designed to lift 8-tons of payload and to provide a tailored launch solution for satellite mega-constellations. Neutron’s unique design, materials, propulsion, and reusability architecture also make the launch vehicle ideal for assured access to space for the nation’s most critical missions, deep space exploration, and potentially human spaceflight. Neutron will be the world’s first carbon composite large launch vehicle, powered by in-house designed and manufactured Archimedes reusable rocket engines and an advanced upper stage to enable high performance for complex satellite deployments.
Rocket Lab selected Virginia as the location of its Neutron expansion on the strength of the extensive support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, in particular the Virginia Economic Development Partnership working alongside Accomack County, the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space), and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission. As part of the Commonwealth’s proposal, $30m has been set aside for infrastructure and operational systems improvements to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport where the Neutron launch site will be located, along with $15m from the MEI Project Approval Commission in site improvements and building construction in support of Neutron.
Rocket Lab Vice President – Launch Systems, Shaun D’Mello, thanks the Commonwealth of Virginia and Accomack County for its enthusiasm and support to bring Neutron to the Eastern Shore. “We’ve enjoyed a solid partnership with Virginia for years that will no doubt be strengthened with Neutron. We have a shared mission to develop Rocket Lab’s presence at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport into a strategic national asset that provides responsive, reliable, reusable space launch through Neutron and Electron, and breaking ground on the site soon is a significant and impelling step toward that future.”
Rocket Lab expects to begin construction on the Neutron Production Complex in Virginia promptly. Commercial and government interest in Neutron is strong and includes a recent $24m development contract granted by the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) in support of Neutron’s capability to aid national security and defense missions ranging from scientific and experimental satellites to the largest and most critical national security payloads. Further Neutron expansion will continue throughout the United States as the program develops toward first launch. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
28 Feb 22. CSpO commits to defend against ‘hostile’ space activity in vision statement. Australia and other CSpO defence officials have pledged to further the peaceful use of space as a “matter of urgency” as part of its latest vision statement. The Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Initiative Principals Board – comprising of representatives from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the US, met last week to outline their goals over the next decade.
“By releasing the vision statement, we affirm Australia’s commitment to space cooperation with international partners and allies to ensure that space remains safe, secure and accessible to all,” said Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld AO, DSC.
“The vision statement underlines CSpO partners’ shared values and goals to the international community in a transparent manner, including our intent to lead as responsible actors in the space domain.”
CSpO shares common goals in space, to develop aligned policies, maximise collaboration, improve cooperation, sustain freedom of action in space and prevent conflict.
A key focus over the next 10 years is protecting and defending against “hostile space activities”, according to the document.
“Some nations have developed capabilities designed to deny, degrade, and disrupt access to and utilisation of space-based capabilities,” the document detailed.
“These nations have demonstrated the ability to hold space-based capabilities at risk and to target critical assets in an effort to reduce our military effectiveness in a crisis or conflict.”
The members said as a “call to action”, they desire to “accelerate and improve” combined military operations across “responsible space actors”.
While the strategy did not detail specifics, the vision statement came only months after the members strongly condemned Russia for its anti-satellite test, which occurred in November.
The group expressed “strong concerns” over the test’s generation of space debris, estimated to total over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital waste, potentially creating hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments.
The debris continues to travel in the “high traffic zone” of low-Earth orbit, close to both the International Space Station and the Chinese Space Station.
Representatives stressed the importance of fostering “responsible uses of space” principles, noting opportunities for greater collaboration, including bolstering space systems interoperability and cooperation between space operations centres.
The CSpO members will continue to share common principals such as freedom of use of space, responsible and sustainable use of space, partnering while upholding sovereignty and upholding international law.
“As space becomes more contested and congested, CSpO will help Australia coordinate on military space issues, and enhance both individual and collective space capabilities to protect our national interests and assure our access to space,” AIRMSHL Hupfeld said.
Over the next decade, the nations will collaborate to prevent future conflicts in space, enhance communications and further unity efforts between each other. (Source: Defence Connect)
28 Feb 22. Space Development Agency Makes Awards for 126 Satellites to Build Tranche 1 Transport Layer. With Industry Onboard, National Defense Space Architecture Ready to Take Shape. The Space Development Agency (SDA) today announced the awards of three prototype agreements worth approximately $1.8bn to establish the foundation for Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL), a mesh network of 126 optically-interconnected space vehicles (SV) that will provide a resilient, low-latency, high-volume data transport communication system, and be ready for launch starting in September 2024. T1TL will provide resilient, low-latency, high-volume data transport supporting U.S. military missions around the world. Designed to connect elements of an integrated sensing architecture, the network will deliver persistent, secure connectivity and serve as a critical element for Joint All Domain Command Control.
These agreements are awarded to York Space Systems, Lockheed Martin Space, and Northrop Grumman Space Systems to each build and demonstrate effectiveness for two near-polar low Earth orbital planes of the six-plane T1TL, which forms the initial warfighting capability tranche of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA).
“These awards will drive delivery of the NDSA’s data and communications Transport Layer through a proliferated constellation of relatively small, mass-producible space vehicles in low Earth orbit,” said Derek Tournear, SDA director. “Through our solicitations, we aim to create a marketplace through two-year spiral development and regular, full and open solicitations for each tranche so that industry can plan, develop and grow accordingly. We look forward to collaborating with our industry partners to deliver the capabilities the warfighter needs through Tranche 1 and beyond.”
Tranche 1 Transport Layer will leverage and proliferate the capabilities being demonstrated in Tranche 0 Transport Layer with targeted technology enhancements, mission-focused payload configurations, increased integration, and greater production efficiencies. The T1TL will provide global communications access and deliver persistent regional encrypted connectivity in support of warfighter missions around the globe by serving as the backbone for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) built on low-latency data transport, sensor-to-shooter connectivity, and direct-to-weapon platforms connectivity.
York Space Systems, Denver, is awarded a prototype agreement with a potential value of approximately $382m to execute a research and development program for the development of a T1TL prototype constellation consisting of 42 satellites in two near-polar low Earth orbital planes (21 SVs for each orbital plane). The proposal was received and evaluated under an Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-01. “We are honored to again have SDA’s confidence in executing the agency’s vision,” said Dirk Wallinger, chief executive officer, York Space Systems. “Their competitive, fixed-price procurements leverage York’s private capital investments to deliver low-risk, industry-leading constellations today and well into the future.” The Space Development Agency is the contracting activity (HQ08502290003).
Lockheed Martin Corporation, Littleton, Colo., is awarded a prototype agreement with a potential value of approximately $700m to execute a research and development program for the development of a T1TL prototype constellation consisting of 42 satellites in two near-polar low Earth orbital planes (21 SVs for each orbital plane). The proposal was received and evaluated under an Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-01.
“Our team at Lockheed Martin is thrilled to be awarded a T1TL contract,” said Erik Daehler, Protected Communications Mission Area leader at Lockheed Martin Space. “We’re looking forward to building upon our team’s success on Tranche 0 by approaching Tranche 1 with modernized and streamlined processes that do more, cost less and achieve mission goals faster. Producing these innovative spacecraft will be a collaborative effort, with Lockheed Martin using its longstanding partnerships to deliver high-quality products that will provide the right capabilities to the warfighter.” The Space Development Agency is the contracting activity (HQ08502290001).
Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems, Redondo Beach, Calif., is awarded a prototype agreement with potential value of approximately $692m to execute a research and development program for the development of a T1TL prototype constellation consisting of 42 satellites in two near-polar low Earth orbital planes (21 SVs for each orbital plane). The proposal was received and evaluated under an Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-01. “Northrop Grumman recognizes information on the modern battlefield must be delivered to our warfighters at the speed of relevance,” said Robert Fleming, vice president and general manager, Strategic Space Systems. “Our T1TL solution combines proven end-to-end satellite system integration and heritage communication mission expertise accumulated over decades, across multiple orbital regimes to rapidly field these critical capabilities to warfighters in the field.” The Space Development Agency is the contracting activity (HQ08502290002).
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today received an award with a potential value of $692m from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to produce and field an innovative, proliferated constellation of 42 low-Earth orbit (pLEO) satellites for the Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) mesh satellite communications network.
“Northrop Grumman recognizes information on the modern battlefield must be delivered to our warfighters at the speed of relevance,” said Robert Fleming, vice president and general manager, strategic space systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our T1TL solution combines decades of proven end-to-end satellite system integration and heritage communication mission expertise accumulated across multiple orbital regimes to rapidly field these critical capabilities to warfighters in the field.”
T1TL will field key technologies and infrastructure to enable future proliferated space missions responsive to warfighter priorities including battle management, missile tracking, and target custody. The network uses laser communication terminals to connect the global constellation while providing persistent, networked Link-16 and high-rate Ka-band connectivity for air, maritime and ground users.
“SDA is changing the landscape for acquisition of national defense space capabilities by capitalizing on a unique business model that harnesses commercial development to achieve a pLEO architecture that enhances resilience and lowers latency to process and move data from sensor to shooter,” said SDA Director Derek Tournear. “The per-satellite price, volume, and speed of delivery represented by the T1TL agreements signed with our partners demonstrate industry’s progress toward building a strong marketplace.”
Northrop Grumman leveraged its commercial marketplace partnerships to deliver a rapid, affordable, highly-effective solution for SDA. “We’ve fully embraced SDA’s rapid, go-to-market spirit. It’s this vision for speed that allows us to field an innovative system quickly,” said Blake Bullock, vice president, communication systems, Northrop Grumman.The T1TL prototype agreement adds to Northrop Grumman’s successful record of fielding satellite constellations including assembly, integration and testing of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, one of the world’s most sophisticated, highest performance constellations, launched into service in low-Earth orbit in 2019.
About the Space Development Agency. Recognized as DOD’s constructive disruptor for space acquisition, SDA will accelerate delivery of needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding, and operation of the National Defense Space Architecture. For more information on SDA, contact or visit https://www.sda.mil.
28 Feb 22. How Space Weather Impacts Radio Communication and Navigation Satellite. Professor Ir Dr Mardina Abdullah, Deputy Director of the Institute for Climate Change and associate fellow of Space Science Centre at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has embarked on a space weather research to determine its risk to various technologies, particularly those that rely on navigation satellite and sky-wave radio signals.
Space weather refers to activities that occur in the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere at altitudes greater than 50 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.
Unlike typical terrestrial rain or snow, space weather is made up of activities that occur on the sun’s surface. This is a major factor in determining the situation of space weather and its impact on technology, both in space and on Earth.
According to Professor Mardina, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) that occur at the sun’s surface facing the Earth are among the solar activities that have a direct impact on space weather.
She added that the ionosphere, a critical upper layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, is also important in understanding the effects of space weather on radio signal transmission such as sky-wave signals and navigation satellite.
“Due to the ionosphere’s ability to refract waves, radio signals can be transmitted to a greater distance.
“However, the ionospheric layer’s weak natural state makes it vulnerable to recurring phenomena such as solar flares, geomagnetic storms, solar eclipses, and lightning,” she said.
Professor Mardina noted that the use of radio-based satellite navigation systems, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), has increased dramatically over the last decade especially among road users. She added that there are several ways in which space weather affects GPS function, making it less accurate and even leading to signal loss due to changes in the density structure of the ionosphere.
“The ionosphere layer changes with the earth’s rotation, causing day and night, making it more complex and affecting radio signal communication system.
“The density of electrons in the ionosphere layer determines the refractive index of the ionosphere. If there is a disturbance in the ionospheric layer that causes rapid changes in the refractive index, the signal with a specific frequency that travels through the ionosphere can be reflected, refracted, scattered, or even vanish before reaching its recipients on Earth,” she said.
Professor Mardina further explained that although space weather is a relatively new field of study, it plays an important role in ensuring the comfort and well-being of life on Earth.
“This is due to the fact that human life today is synonymous with the rapid development of technology, which is heavily reliant on space technology.
“The space technology is based on satellites and radio signals, which are easily affected by space weather, a phenomenon that refers to changes in the near-Earth atmosphere.
“As a result, the space weather affects the refraction of radio signals in the Earth’s atmosphere, further affecting celestial signal transmission and disrupting daily communication,” she added.
She concluded that expertise in the field of ionospheric research needs to be expanded in Malaysia, as there is interest from foreign researchers in Asia who are always looking to improve the accuracy and precision of their navigation satellite systems such as Beidou-China, QZSS-Japan, and GAGAN-India. Professor Mardina is a stellar academician who has published over 200 scholarly articles during her academic career. Her research interests and areas of expertise include space weather studies, ionosphere research, satellite navigation, and artificial intelligence. SOURCE Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia/PR Newswire)
22 Feb 22. SpaceLogistics Announces Launch Agreement With SpaceX + First Mission Extension Pod Contract With Optus. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) SpaceLogistics has revealed a launch agreement for the company’s Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) spacecraft as well as the sale of the firm’s first Mission Extension Pod (MEP).
Under the launch agreement, SpaceX will provide launch services for a planned spring 2024 launch of the MRV and several MEPs. Optus, Australia’s largest satellite owner and operator, recently completed a purchase agreement with SpaceLogistics for installation of one of the MEPs on its D3 satellite in 2025.
“Our contracts with SpaceX and Optus are tangible evidence of our momentum and commitment to deliver second-generation on-orbit servicing technologies to the satellite industry.” said Vice President of Business Development for SpaceLogistics, Joseph Anderson. “We are thrilled to have Optus as our premier MEP customer as we continue pioneering the future of space and expanding the realm of what is possible with on-orbit servicing and sustainment.”
The launch will mark the first time a robotic-capable spacecraft will ascend into space to provide persistent robotic servicing capabilities in geostationary orbit (GEO). The MRV will perform a series of on-orbit tests of its robotic-arm payload as it carries out its primary mission, installing MEPs on commercial satellites. The MEP, a small customer-owned, customer-controlled propulsion augmentation device, can provide six years of life extension for a typical 2,000 kg. satellite in GEO.
“Optus’ partnership with SpaceLogistics will leverage their cutting edge MRV & MEP capability to increase the life of Optus’ D3 satellite. This innovative move along with the future launch of Optus 11 will benefit our customers,” said Ben White, managing director, wholesale, satellite and strategy at Optus. SpaceLogistics Announces Launch Agreement with SpaceX and First Mission Extension Pod Contract with Optus_2 The SpaceLogistics Mission Robotic Vehicle uses its sophisticated robotics to attach Mission Extension Pods, providing propulsion augmentation and extending the service lives of commercial satellites running out of fuel.
SpaceLogistics’ award-winning, first-generation Mission Extension Vehicles, MEV-1 and MEV-2, have provided propulsion and pointing control to commercial satellites in GEO since 2020. The sophisticated robotics of the next-generation MRV will expand the services SpaceLogistics currently offers to include augmentation, detailed robotic inspection, relocation and repair.
“Satellite owners are demonstrating enthusiasm and confidence for our life-extension solutions and the potential cost savings they could provide,” said Anderson. “Our Optus contract represents our third service contract with commercial satellite providers, and with several signed term sheets in queue our installation manifest for MEPs is already full for 2025 and nearly full for 2026.”
The MRV and MEP completed their respective preliminary design reviews in fall 2021 and remain on schedule for critical design reviews in 2022 and launch in 2024. Optus provides satellite services to Australia and NZ Government departments, companies and broadcasters including Foxtel, ABC, SBS, Seven Network, and regional broadcasters such as Imparja Television, Sky New Zealand and Kordia, in addition to services in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. (Source: Satnews)
22 Feb 22. Scottish Space Sector Charts Path To A Sustainable Future. A specialist working group of Space Scotland is contributing to the development of a sustainable space sector by collaborating on a roadmap that will focus on environmental issues in one of Scotland’s fastest-growing industries.
On behalf of the Space Scotland’s Environmental Task Force, AstroAgency and Optimat will work with Scottish companies, international collaborators and the public sector to develop this latest step in the country’s journey towards a future formalised sustainable space strategy and has the full backing of the Scottish Government.
The sustainability roadmap for space – a world first – will involve wide-ranging research, consultations with world-leading space sustainability experts and case studies from other sectors for the space industry to learn from. It will highlight priority actions required by industry, academia and government to support wider net zero ambitions and cover a variety of economic, legal and environmental issues to evaluate how access to space can be used to meet current and future global challenges.
It aims to ensure Scotland’s developing spaceports and launch vehicles minimize their impact on the environment, as well as promoting the environmental and societal benefits that can come from UK-launched small satellites.
In addition, the roadmap will highlight the need for LEO to be safeguarded alongside the planet’s marine and land environments, while also exploring peripheral space activities that may cause an indirect impact on carbon emissions. Once drafted, the roadmap will be shared with industry-led group Space Scotland and wider sectoral stakeholders for endorsement and approval, before being published later this year.
“From greener rocket propellants to using satellites to help restore local peatlands and track typhoons, Scottish space companies and Universities are making great strides towards enabling a more sustainable future. This roadmap is an opportunity to unite these activities and identify where we can collaborate more effectively,” said Kristina Tamane, Co-Chair of Space Scotland’s Environmental Task Force and Space Sector Lead at University of Edinburgh.
The space sector remains one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. In a short time, Scotland has developed world-class capability in smallsat manufacturing, with a cluster of companies in Glasgow producing more small satellites than any other city in Europe. Edinburgh, on the other hand, hosts the largest centre for informatics in Europe and is home to more than 170 data science companies.
Along Scotland’s rugged edges and in airports such as Prestwick and Macrihanish, spaceports are making great progress toward launching both Scottish-made and international smallsats, many designed with environmental goals in mind. The applications of satellite data range from monitoring deforestation and illegal mining to helping predict natural disasters such as landslides or the spread of forest fires, with Scottish companies such as Earth Blox, Astrosat, GSI, Omanos Analytics, Ecometrica, Spire Global and Space Intelligence leading the way.
The rapid growth of the Scottish space activities comes with a concomitant requirement to minimise the environmental impact of space activities. The Scottish Space Strategy published on the international stage at Expo Dubai in October last year identified sustainability as a key theme of Scotland’s approach to space.
“As we build on the sector’s strengths we must also focus on sustainability,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during the Sustainable Space Summit organized by industry-led group Space Scotland last year. “Space technologies will have an increasingly important role in the fight against climate change, but the sector must continue to reduce its own environmental impact.”
The roadmap is set to promote a comprehensive approach to space sustainability that consists of more than reducing emissions, extending to the activities of satellites in orbit. It will therefore contain information on space “junk” and debris mitigation and highlight the effect that satellites have on astronomical observations, with a view to acting as a catalyst for meaningful international action in such areas.
AstroAgency’s Founder Daniel Smith said, “We want to leave no stone unturned. This is an important opportunity for Scotland to lead by example in developing the space sector of tomorrow, both on the ground and in orbit”. (Source: Satnews)
23 Feb 22. Voyager Space + Space Micro, With BridgeComm, Receive Space Development Agency Contract For Optical Comms. Voyager Space Inc. (Voyager) and Space Micro, Inc., powered by Voyager, have received an award from the Space Development Agency (SDA) for a 24-month development contract for advanced, one-to-many, optical communications using Managed Optical Communication Array (MOCA) technology to support Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations. Space Micro partnered with BridgeComm Inc., a leader in optical wireless communications solutions and services.
Laser communications are resistant to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, making this type of optical communication ideal for Optical Inter-Satellite Links, as well as for high data rate backhaul links from spacecraft to ground stations and spacecraft to drone links.
BridgeComm started work in 2018 to advance the state of the art in point-to-point (PtP) optical terminals by developing an One-to-Many capability layer for optical wireless communications (OWC) applications in the form of MOCA technology, which supports point-to-multipoint (PtMP) communications in the optical domain. To date, the OWC technologies offered have supported PtP communications. However, the features of PtMP communications will enable OWC to be on par with radio frequency (RF)—and a true complementary technology—in terms of terminal coverage. OWC can provide the benefits of high-speed and increased security, while also providing the multi-user coverage that a modern communications systems requires.
“We are thrilled that SDA has selected Space Micro, along with our outstanding partners at BridgeComm,” said David Strobel, Executive Chair of Space Micro. “We are looking forward to further testing our technology to enhance the overall architecture in LEO.“
“When we combine Space Micro’s current space-based optical communications products with data rates up to 100 Gbps, MOCA will provide enhanced LEO constellation capability for One-to-Many or Point-to-Multipoint secure communications,” said Space Micro CEO, David R. Czajkowski.
“RF has served us well, evolving to meet the increasing demands for higher performance within any mobile communications system, though they come with physical limitations for speed and capacity,” said Barry Matsumori, CEO of BridgeComm. “OWC addresses the needs of end users, while complimenting RF with point-to-multi-point capability. We’ve seen great success in our demo and are excited for our customers to reap the benefits of MOCA.”
“We are big supporters of SDA’s efforts to engage with commercial space companies to expand our country’s capabilities and resiliency in space,” said Matthew Kuta, President and COO at Voyager. “Congratulations to Space Micro and BridgeComm on this win, setting the stage for improved communications and security in space.”
This development is supported by the Space Development Agency (SDA) under Contract No. HQ085022C0005.
Space Micro Inc., powered by Voyager Space and based in San Diego, CA, is an engineering-driven supplier of affordable, high-performance, radiation-hardened communications, electro-optics, and digital systems for use in commercial, civil, and military space applications around the world. Space Micro solutions include Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) transmitters, mission data transmitters, space cameras, star trackers, image processors, Command & Data Handling (C&DH) systems and laser communications systems.(Source: Satnews)
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