Sponsored By Viasat
07 Aug 18. Viasat Inc., announced today its Commercial off-the-Shelf (COTS) Visual Integrated Satellite Communications Information, Operation and Networking (VISION) software has successfully passed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) First Article System Test (FAST). With Viasat VISION passing FAST, NATO can expedite the roll-out of its Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) modernization efforts. Under a contract awarded in January 2018, NATO will upgrade its legacy UHF communications network to Viasat’s VISION planning and network management platform, the first commercially-available software package to simultaneously support all 25-kHz legacy Demand-Assigned Multiple-Access (DAMA) and next-generation Integrated Waveform (IW) networks and services.
“The successful completion of FAST for Viasat’s VISION software represents a significant milestone. It confirms that Viasat’s VISION platform meets critical requirements for the NATO UHF SATCOM modernization project,” said the Network Services and IT Infrastructure – SATCOM Service Area representative from NATO Communications and Information Agency. “We look forward to full operational capability of the system in early 2019.”
“Our VISION software is key to providing warfighters with assured, reliable, real-time communications to enhance mission effectiveness at the tactical edge,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Successful completion of FAST requirements is a necessary step to expediting delivery of the software to provide NATO forces with greater communications interoperability, scalability and flexibility across legacy and next-generation platforms, further enhancing situational awareness as the battlespace dynamically expands.”
The Viasat VISION platform provides a single, user-friendly network management interface for legacy DAMA and IW services, inclusive of the ability to locally or remotely manage and control ground station networks, monitor status and system performance, track event/alarm management situations and add/remove services when missions change. By enabling interoperability between DAMA and IW platforms, NATO can double its channel efficiency without additional investment in the UHF space segment. This optimization doubles the number of users, giving more warfighters access to reliable, high-quality, resilient voice and data communications.
08 Aug 18. DARPA award value for Blackjack satellite programme draws industry concern. Key Points:
- A company executive said DARPA’s Blackjack award value was potentially too low to justify a bid
- Most of DARPA’s award money is wrapped up in launch costs, leaving little for innovation
The USD117.5m total award offered by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the first phase of its Blackjack satellite programme was potentially spread among too many companies to make it worthwhile for one company to pursue. DARPA’s award for Blackjack covers potentially two to eight companies. This means winners could bring home as little as USD14.7m or as much as USD58.8m. DARPA also envisions each Blackjack satellite to cost less than USD6 m, including launch cost. DARPA specifications for Blackjack were roughly 45kg for payload and 50kg for the satellite bus. Spaceflight Industries, a commercial rideshare launch provider, offers to bring 100kg satellites to low earth orbit (LEO), the same orbit as Blackjack, for roughly USD4 m, leaving a few m dollars for companies use at their discretion.
“I think this project is worthwhile and I hope it succeeds,” an industry source told Jane’son 7 August. “But this seems really thin. How many companies are going to chop this up and how far will it go?”
Pentagon satellites have been historically custom-designed to specific mission sets with lengthy design and/or enhancement cycles at high cost per spacecraft. They have also become targets for adversaries during warfare. The Blackjack programme is an architecture demonstration intending to show the high military utility of global LEO constellations and mesh networks of lower size, weight, and cost spacecraft nodes. DARPA is searching for affordable mass produced payloads and buses that it can refresh at the pace of technology on the ground, according to the Phase 1 broad agency announcement (BAA) posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Aug 18. MDA director provides rough sketch of possible space-based missile defense sensor layer. Missile defense leaders within the Pentagon as well as Congress are pushing for more missile defense capability in space and the Missile Defense Agency Director Gen. Samuel Greaves laid out a rough idea of what a space-based missile defense sensor layercould look like. The missile defense community has been talking “seriously” about a sensor layer in space “actively over the last year,” Greaves said in an August 8 speech at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium. While many decisions still have to be made regarding requirements definitions, development paths and the acquisition process, “the key thing,” Greaves said, “is that there is serious consideration and support being given to the need to deploy these space sensors because we must do so.”
Greaves laid out a very rough sketch of what the agency is looking for to build a robust sensor layer. First, the MDA might use something like a current system from the U.S. Air Force — the Overhead Persistent Infrared OPIR Global Scanning system — to alert and characterize activity in space, essentially “to be the bell ringer if something is going on,” Greaves said. The sensor layer would have a regional detection and tracking capability staring down at Earth that could go after hypersonic threat detection and other “dimmer” targets but also catch missiles in the boost or burnout phase of flight, Greaves described.
Covering the midcourse portion of a missile threat’s flight would be a sensor that could look “against the cold background of space” and discriminate, track and eventually serve as fire control, handing over data directly to ballistic missile defense weapon systems, he said. At the far end of a missile trajectory, a sensor would standby to record whether an intercept against a target was successfully destroyed or disabled or whether it was missed.
“Getting that capability into the architecture and providing that information to folks on the ground that have to make a decision on whether or not to re-shoot or whether to move on to another target, that is extremely important,” Greaves said.
The four-star added that the agency plans to also look at how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program might contribute to what the MDA is considering for a space-based sensor layer. According to a DARPA broad agency announcement published in May 2018, the program seeks to develop and demonstrate “critical technical elements for building a global high-speed network backbone in low earth orbit (LEO) that enables highly networked, resilient, and persistent DoD payloads that provide infinite over-the-horizon sensing, signals and communications and hold the ground, surface, and air domains in global constant custody.”
Greaves said the agency and the Pentagon are now going through “intense discussion” on where it wants to end up with the architecture, pending department and congressional approval.
“Whether it’s the classic ballistic target into space and back down or the hypersonic threat skimming at very low altitudes,” he said, “space offers, with the ground capability that we’ve got, the best integrated architecture to ensure we maintain both. It’s not more complicated than that, but if you don’t have it, you can’t see it shoot and the remains of your system is essentially useless.”
Michael Griffin, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, told reporters at the symposium to expect to see changes in the space architecture as it is deployed in the future. Echoing U.S. Strategic Command commander Gen. John Hyten, he said the current space architecture is centered around “exquisitely capable, very expensive, very vulnerable systems that were designed and deployed in an era where we really didn’t have any space adversaries.”
Now adversaries, China and Russia, are directly challenging U.S. assets in space “because they are critical to our way of fighting war,” Griffin added.
“As you look forward you will see changes in our deployed architecture to meet those challenges,” he said, such as a “proliferated space-sensor layer, for example” that will not be made up of a few very large capable sensors, “but more less-capable sensors based off of commercial space developments.” (Source: Defense News)
07 Aug 18. These satellites are communicating way faster thanks to lasers. The Aerospace Corporation announced Aug. 2 that its laser communication system had successfully transmitted data at a rate 50 times greater than the typical rate for similar communication systems. The laser communication system transmitted data at a rate of 100 megabits per second on two CubeSat satellites used for the Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration mission. The mission, which is funded and managed by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Small Spacecraft Technology Program, focuses on developing high-speed optical data transmission and small proximity operations, which will be valuable to future small spacecraft missions.
“Space-to-ground optical communications from a free-flying CubeSat has never been done before, and we’re excited to be involved in this demonstration,” Todd Rose, the OCSD optical communications lead, said in an Aerospace Corporation news release.
The Aerospace Corporation is a nonprofit that operates a federally funded research and development center for the Air Force and focuses on national security space programs. The two CubeSats used in the communication demonstration were the AeroCube-7B and AeroCube-7C, launched in November 2017 as secondary payloads on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Although laser communications systems have already been used on large commercial satellite systems, the announcement is one of the first steps toward using laser communications on small platforms like CubeSats.
“This is a significant achievement, given that high-speed laser communications is mostly done from larger satellite systems,” said Steve Isakowitz, the CEO of Aerospace Corporation.
Aerospace Corporation also announced that it had completed a proximity demonstration where OCSD satellites were brought within 20 feet of each other, which addresses the second component of the OCSD mission. The satellites in the demonstration were able to use onboard GPS receivers to determine their locations in relation to each other. Aerospace Corporation said that inexpensive cameras, beacons and laser rangefinders will be used in future proximity demonstrations.(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
07 Aug 18. Powerful Communications Satellite for US and Allies Shipped for Launch. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) shipped the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite July 27 to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, where it will be prepared for an October liftoff aboard an Atlas V rocket.
“Four AEHF satellites in orbit means protected global connectivity for those who need it most, from the president to deployed soldiers,” said Michael Cacheiro, Lockheed Martin vice president of Protected Communications. “We offer powerful end-to-end systems so that more operational users can have assured connectivity in contested environments. Delivering this fourth satellite in orbit will be critical to the Air Force, as it will connect all four satellites on orbit, forming a geostationary ring to provide uninterrupted global communications.”
AEHF communications are jam-proof and offer low probability of detection or interception, and the four-satellite constellation will be able to deliver that capability worldwide. The satellite enables military communications with real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data, boosted by a five-fold increase in individual user data rates. This delivery comes at a time when more troops are on the cusp of using AEHF’s benefits with a new generation of terminals that will soon be available based on both DOD and commercial models.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation. Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. The first three AEHF satellites are on orbit, and AEHF-5 and -6 are progressing on schedule. All satellites are assembled at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, facility. (Source: ASD Network)
07 Aug 18. Mattis Comments on DoD Role in Election Security, Space as Warfighting Domain. The Defense Department will provide all support necessary to the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies to protect U.S. elections from Russian interference and other bad actors, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters today. The secretary also said the U.S. military must address space as a developing warfighting domain that may lead to creation of a new combatant command. The Russian government was responsible for the attacks on the U.S. election process in 2016, Mattis told reporters. “We all saw what happened in 2016 when the Russians – and possibly others, but the Russians for certain – tried to do both influence operations and actually get in to try to corrupt some of the process,” he said.
Engaged and Supporting
DoD agencies know what to look for, and they are engaged is supporting Homeland Security and state and local election officials to protect the integrity of the midterm elections, the secretary said, but he would not get more specific about what U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are doing.
Mattis emphasized that DoD is not focused on one country, but on protecting the election process itself. DoD is guarding against influence operations and on attempts to corrupt the process, he said.
The secretary said he is in favor of establishing a combatant command covering space and that a process is in progress.
DoD is “in complete alignment” with President Donald J. Trump’s concern about protecting America’s assets and interests in space, Mattis said. “We are going to have to address it as other countries show the capabilities to attack those assets,” he added.
Mattis said Vice President Mike Pence is the “point man” on space and that DoD is working closely with him and with the relevant committees on Capitol Hill. “We are still putting it together,” he said. “We’ll get it right. We’ll work it though the Congress. We have the direction from the president, and we are underway.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
07 Aug 18. US Strategic Command approves expanded operational use of MUOS. The US Strategic Command has given approval for the expanded operational use of the next-generation narrowband satellite communication system, known as the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). The approval is expected to allow the US Navy and US Marine Corps (USMC) early adopter commands to use the system during deployment in the Pacific theatre later this year. MUOS is an on-orbit, five-satellite constellation that has been developed and built by Lockheed Martin. The system began providing legacy satellite communication services following the launch of the first satellite in 2012. The full-suite MUOS payload, known as the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform, uses commercial cellular technology to enable warfighters to securely and reliably communicate beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS).
It is expected to have around ten times the communications capacity of the legacy satellite system once the MUOS network becomes fully operational. US Navy Programme Executive Office (PEO) Space Systems lead rear admiral Carl Chebi said: “Narrowband communication is used by every combatant command, aboard ships-at-sea and multiple aircraft platforms, and by ground troops in a variety of warfighting applications such as special operations.”
“MUOS’ acceptance for operational use is an important milestone for the navy, and it’s one step closer for significant communications improvements for all our forces.”
MUOS WCDMA radios offer BLOS connectivity, as well as enable users to transmit simultaneous voice, video and mission data on an Internet Protocol-based system, which is connected to military networks.
The MUOS system is anticipated to be fully operational once multi-service testing and evaluation is completed next year. USMC is set to become the first service to widely deploy the MUOS solution, beginning with an initial fielding in the fourth quarter of this year, which is slated to be followed by initial operational capability during the first quarter of 2019. (Source: naval-technology.com)
- Faster web browsing experience (up to 50%) matching standard terrestrial backhaul Internet access
- Faster file transfer (object download/upload) up to 250 Mbps per session
- Significantly better resiliency to packet loss by several orders of magnitude
The Comtech’s WANOp solution is designed to meet service providers’ most stringent requirements in terms of:
- Service availability and reliability: Hot swap redundant power supplies, system and LAN/WAN connectivity (dual-path) redundancy, fail-safe pass-through, extended temperature range
- Scalability: One platform, upgradable through software license
- Operation efficiency: Simplified “plug & play” configuration
Another breakthrough is the true Layer 2 / Layer 3 network transparency of the appliance solution, facilitating network deployment and ease of operation. Acceleration is performed on the end user traffic regardless of the underlying network protocols and encapsulation methods. The FX Series WANOp can manage any combination of stacked VLANs, stacked MPLS, Layer 2 or Layer 3 VPN, GTP encapsulated LTE/4G or 3G Mobility traffic, including support of Ethernet Jumbo frames up to 9,000 bytes and dual stack Ipv4/Ipv6. When paired with Comtech EF Data modems, the FX appliances with Release 7 monitor, in real-time, the available bandwidth and maximize the throughput and usage of the link to the modem’s current capacity. This function is essential when using Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM), which is commonly the case for satellites operating in Ka- or Ku-bands.
“As a result of our unique feature set and performance, our FX Series WANOp Release 7 solution and our CDM-760 modem were selected by a Tier 1 satellite service provider to deliver ultra-high speed, fiber-like backhaul services to communication service providers,” commented Louis Dubin, Senior Vice President, Product Management and Marketing for Comtech EF Data. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
06 Aug 18. Alta Devices Powers Successful CubeSat Mission. Alta Devices Modular, Lightweight and Highly Efficient Solar Cells. Enabled Rapid Development and Deployment of Innovative FastBus Small Satellite. The Asgardia-1 satellite was based on NSL’s FastBus platform and powered by approximately 24 watts of Alta solar cells. Launched in November 2017 on an Orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman) cargo resupply mission, the 2U-size FastBus was inserted into a 475 km low earth orbit in December 2017 via the NanoRacks External Cygnus Deployer. The 2U satellite carried a payload which included a solid-state memory experiment and particle detectors used to determine the actual effects of on-orbit radiation. TSL, NSL and NanoRacks are at the forefront of small satellite innovation and are pioneering new, disruptive models of satellites that are much smaller, simpler, and more affordable. Their mission is to broaden access to space for educational as well as commercial participants. They selected Alta Devices solar technology due to its unique modular, lightweight, and high efficiency characteristics.
Bob Twiggs, founder of TSL, states, “Our goal is to inspire future generations of engineers and scientists through innovation in the field of space. Alta Devices technology is easy to integrate, and its modular form factor is well-suited to the standardized dimensions of CubeSats. Our team is excited about the potential to innovate and rapidly prototype using this technology”. Dr. Hank Voss, founder of NearSpace Launch, Inc. adds, “With the FastBus, we aim to provide a reliable, affordable, and quick-turn CubeSat platform built on our heritage of communication and bus technologies. We are very excited to be using Alta Devices technology to serve the needs of our stakeholders.”
NanoRacks CEO, Jeffrey Manber, said, “At Nanoracks, we’re focused on lowering the barriers of entry to space. We see adoption of innovative solar and bus technologies as another critical piece of the puzzle in making space exploration accessible to entrepreneurs, scientists, students, corporations, and space researchers around the world.” About Alta’s glass-free solar cells he added, “any component that is more robust, withstands the launch loads, and maintains a clean ride-share environment is going to make things easier for everyone on a practical and regulatory perspective. The Alta solar cells came through with flying colors on the Asgardia-1 satellites.”
CubeSats (satellites weighing less than 15kg) were originally developed for university students to participate in space research. The standard has now been adopted worldwide and has helped to ignite a small satellite revolution. Typically placed into low-earth orbits, they often have standardized or off-the-shelf components and have facilitated more affordable and easier access to space. CubeSats are driving new industries via the explosion of big data accessible from space. All satellites need solar cells to generate electrical power. Until now, no commercial solar technologies could match the improvement in cost, weight, and ease of use that other components of small satellite technology have achieved: solar cells are traditionally expensive, fragile, rigid, and difficult to encapsulate and robustly attach to spacecraft. Alta Devices solar cells overcome these challenges because they are flexible, easy to encapsulate and mount, and provide high power conversion efficiencies. For example, Alta Devices cells can be mounted to low-mass deployable structures including coiled carbon fiber booms, flat-packed, polymer-based accordioned arrays, even inflatable structures, allowing creative design approaches to maximizing onboard solar power. Alta Devices is empowering autonomy, as its cells provide a new level of mechanical and design flexibility for the small satellite industry.
Jian Ding, CEO of Alta Devices, explains, “Innovation in solar is essential to the continued evolution of small satellite technology. The industry has seen disruptive change in every technology area except in solar cells. Solar cells were expensive, challenging to integrate, and hard to procure, until now. The success of the FastBus mission provides another data point validating our technology and further cements our commitment to our partners as they plan their upcoming launches.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
06 Aug 18. Spaceflight Prepares Historic Launch of More Than 70 Spacecraft Aboard SpaceX Falcon 9. SSO-A: SmallSat Express to launch largest rideshare mission from a US-based launch vehicle, with 25 percent of the customers launching for the first time. Spaceflight, the leading rideshare and mission management provider, announced details behind its SSO-A mission, the largest single rideshare mission from a US-based launch vehicle to date. Spaceflight has contracted with more than 70 spacecraft from approximately 35 different organizations, to launch from a SpaceX Falcon 9 later this year. The mission, named SSO-A: SmallSat Express, represents the company’s purchase of an entire Falcon 9 to accommodate the growing number of domestic, international, government and commercial customers seeking affordable rideshare options to launch their spacecraft into orbit.
“As our inaugural dedicated rideshare mission, SSO-A: SmallSat Express is a momentous milestone for Spaceflight,” said Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight. “Launching more than 70 satellites from one launch vehicle is a challenging feat and our talented team has made many advances to make this historic launch a reality. As demand for affordable launch options continues to grow, dedicated rideshare missions will play an important role in providing frequent and reliable access to space.”
SSO-A, which signifies the company’s first dedicated rideshare mission to a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit, is slated to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It includes 15 microsats and 56 cubesats from commercial and government entities, of which more than 30 are from international organizations from 18 countries including United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, and India. Planet is sending two SkySat small sats, the primary spacecraft on the launch, along with several Dove cubesats. They are also sponsoring the launch of two cubesats: one from Georgia Institute of Technology and one from University of Colorado Boulder Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Among the spacecraft onboard, 23 are from universities, 19 are imaging satellites, 23 are technology demonstrations, two are art exhibits, and one is from a high school. Seventy-five percent are commercial spacecraft. A few notable customers include University of North Carolina-Wilmington, NovaWurks, Ghalam, Helios Wire/Sirion Global, King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB), Astrocast, Honeywell Aerospace, HawkEye 360, Nevada Museum of Art, Fleet Space Technologies, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Audacy, Capella Space Corporation, University of Colorado Boulder Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, and many others.
“Thanks to a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, UNC-Wilmington is ready to launch the first cubesat equipped to provide scientists around the world with a new instrument to study the ocean,” said Dr. John M. Morrison, Professor, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography and Center for Marine Science at UNC-Wilmington. “It’s been a tremendous team effort with NASA and others to design and build the low-cost, next generation, miniature ocean color sensors aboard a cubesat, and we’re excited to work with Spaceflight to see it off into orbit. By making the data from the SeaHawk-1 available to everyone for free, our hope is to address a number of critical societal needs, especially in coastal regions.”
With the majority of the spacecraft being integrated in Spaceflight’s Auburn, Wash.-facility, the stack is one of the most complex and intricate endeavors the company has undertaken. The smallsats will be integrated with a variety of dispensers and avionics to an upper free flyer and lower free flyer. Spaceflight is handling all the mission management planning, engineering, integration, mission assurance and system engineering processes, regulatory and policy procedures, contracting, and business development for the mission. Spaceflight has launched more than 140 satellites to date from a variety of launch vehicles including Falcon 9, PSLV, Dnepr, Antares, and Soyuz. It recently announced agreements for launches on Electron, Vega, and LauncherOne. The company has already launched 22 spacecraft on two missions this year and has plans to launch 97 more across six upcoming missions to LEO and GEO by the end of 2018. Additionally, the company has plans for approximately 10 scheduled missions in 2019. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
06 Aug 18. New DoD Policy Prohibits GPS-Enabled Devices in Deployed Settings. Deployed service members are going to have to ditch their “geolocation devices” in response to a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan. This includes physical fitness aids, applications in phones that track locations, and other devices and apps that pinpoint and track the location of individuals.
“Effective immediately, Defense Department personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on government and nongovernment-issued devices, applications and services while in locations designated as operational areas,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III told Pentagon reporters today.
Deployed personnel are in “operational areas,” and commanders will make a determination on other areas where this policy may apply. The market for these devices has exploded over the past few years, with many service members incorporating them into their workout routines. They use the devices and applications to track their pace, running routes, calories burned and more. These devices then store the information and upload it to central servers where it can be shared with third parties. That information can present enemies with information on military operations.
Using GPS Devices Pose Risk
“The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the Department of Defense personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally,” Manning said.
These Global Positioning System capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines and numbers of DoD personnel. Their use in overseas locations “potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” Manning said.
Personal phones and other portable devices also contain apps that rely on GPS technology, and they will be affected. Commanders will be responsible for implementing the policy, and they will be allowed to make exceptions only after conducting a thorough risk assessment. Security is at the heart of this guidance. DoD seeking a balanced way that allows for legitimate official and personal uses of geolocation technology that does not impact security. Manning said the department will continue to study the risk associated with these devices and change the policy as needed. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
05 Aug 18. Enhancing Smallsats with Big Satellite Power and Capacity Enabled by Made In Space. Made In Space, Inc. is developing power systems for smallsats that will provide large satellite power, which, in turn, enables smallsats to provide large satellite capability. Current smallsats are typically constrained to 1 kilowatt of power or less. The power system being developed by Made In Space can, initially, provide up to five kilowatts of solar power and is enabled by the company’s Archinaut in-space manufacturing and assembly technology. Archinaut-based solar array systems use space-manufactured structures and robotically assembled state of the art solar cell blankets to provide as much as 20 square meters of solar array for smallsats that launch from ESPA rings or small launch vehicles (in the 150 to 300 kg class). The Archinaut power system is now possible due to the advancements in additive manufacturing and robotics Made In Space has accomplished over the last decade. Made In Space has been using additive manufacturing on the International Space Station since 2014, operating multiple generations of manufacturing systems on orbit and building over 150 objects in space. The company’s extended structure additive manufacturing technology (ESAMM) is crucial to efficient in-space manufacturing and assembly operations due to its ability to make structures significantly longer than itself, or the accompanying robotic systems.
In 2017, this technology won a Guinness World Record for the longest 3D printed structure measuring at 37.7 meters. ESAMM was successfully operated in a thermal vacuum chamber simulating the Low Earth Orbit environment. For small satellites, Archinaut’s power system is able to provide up to five times the power of state of the art systems by launching the system with raw material and tightly-packed solar arrays, rather than folded up booms and complex deployment mechanisms. On orbit, Archinaut manufactures the core array lattice structures and robotically, physically and electrically, integrates solar array blankets, completing the solar array wing. Archinaut’s power system is expected to enable many large satellite applications on smallsats. Whether it’s a commercial company seeking to get to market quicker, a defense group upgrading its assets more rapidly, or scientists striving to deploy Moon mapping systems for future human exploration missions, reducing development time, build cost, and launch cost is valuable. Archinaut’s power system can also operate as a standalone system integrated into larger satellite buses, gaining more efficiency in larger systems. For example, preliminary studies indicate that a 500 kW Archinaut power system using modern solar cell blankets requires 2,000 m. of solar array surface area and has a system mass of 1,000 kg — more than an order of magnitude less mass than systems currently on orbit. For comparison, the International Space Station’s (ISS) eight solar array wings have a total area of roughly 2,500 meters with a system mass of 65,000 kg.
Andrew Rush, the CEO of Made In Space, said that these systems enable power intensive payloads to be deployed to space at a fraction of the cost of larger satellites, with no sacrifice in power provisioning, Despite advances in avionics and payload packaging, small satellites provide less capability per kilogram than their larger brethren because small satellites are power constrained. This often prevents power intensive science, remote sensing, communications, and defense payloads which otherwise fit. Deploying these power intensive payloads on smallsats is game changing as these platforms costs an order of magnitude less to build and launch and can be fielded much more rapidly than 1,000+ kilogram satellites. The technology risk is very low — the core additive manufacturing technology currently operating in space and the extended structure manufacturing and robotic system hardware demonstrated in thermal vacuum chambers simulating the LEO environment.
Rush added that, due to the volume and mass efficiencies of manufacturing the structure, a small satellite such as a 150 kg ESPA-class satellite could be deployed with 5 kW of power. Today, that kind of power is only available on 1,000+ kg satellite buses launching on rockets costing tens of millions of dollars. The company continues to develop these technologies, planning more complex thermal vacuum and laboratory tests focusing on more complex and autonomous manufacturing and assembly operations. As the Archinaut system uses in space manufacturing and robotics, the same core technology will be useful for a range of spacecraft missions and can also be used for a range of impactful applications beyond power systems, such as creating large apertures or spacing out sensors from one another. (Source: Satnews)
02 Aug 18. Telesat Signs Airbus Defence and Space as the Second Team to Work on LEO Constellation System Design. Telesat has entered into an agreement with Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) to further develop the system design for Telesat’s LEO constellation. This announcement follows closely on Telesat’s July 30 announcement that the firm had signed the consortium of Thales Alenia Space and Maxar to undertake a similar scope of work on Telesat’s LEO program. Telesat now has two separate teams, comprised of industry leading satellite manufacturing companies, who will work in close cooperation with Telesat over the coming months in a series of engineering activities and technical reviews. These efforts will culminate in each team submitting a firm proposal for final design and manufacture of Telesat’s LEO satellites and ground system infrastructure. Telesat anticipates deciding by mid-2019 on a prime contractor for Telesat’s LEO program — space segment, ground segment and system integration. Telesat’s state-of-the-art LEO constellation will combine the company’s global spectrum rights in Ka-band with Telesat’s proprietary LEO architecture to transform global communications. Telesat LEO will offer an unsurpassed combination of capacity, speed, security, resiliency and low cost with latency that is as good as, or better than, the most advanced terrestrial networks. Able to serve the entire globe, it will become a core component in satisfying many of the world’s most challenging communications requirements. Telesat LEO will accelerate 5G expansion, bridge the digital divide with fiber-like high speed services into rural and remote communities, and set new levels of performance for commercial and government broadband on land, sea and in the air.
Erwin Hudson, VP of Telesat LEO, said that Airbus has built a tremendous record in satellite manufacturing and that this agreement will result in Airbus further developing their design and submitting a final proposal for Telesat’s full LEO system, both space and ground segment. Telesat now has two outstanding teams — Airbus and Thales Alenia Space-Maxar — supporting Telesat LEO. Each brings a broad range of technical skills and experience along with a strong belief in the project and a commitment to its success. Telesat looks forward to this next phase of the program and to selecting a prime contractor to develop the firm’s LEO space and ground infrastructure. (Source: Satnews)
02 Aug 18. US Army, NASA Want Laser Micro-Satellites For 50 Times The Bandwidth. It was hard enough keeping the data flowing to the far mountains of Afghanistan, but at least the Taliban didn’t have the technology to attack the network. Russia and China, however, are investing heavily in capabilities to eavesdrop on or jam the radio transmissions and to blind or outright shoot down the satellites. War zones, it turns out, get crappy reception. But the Army, NASA, and multiple private companies are looking to optical communications — that means lasers — off affordable micro-satellites that could dramatically increase bandwidth. Just this morning, the federally funded Aerospace Corporation announced a successful test for NASA that provided bandwidth 50 times higher — an almost 5,000 percent increase — than current military satellites that use radio waves. Not three hours before the Aerospace Co. announcement, Maj. Gen. David Bassett was getting excited about optical satellites at the Association of the US Army’s annual cyber and networks conference here. That matters because, after a successful tour in charge of armored vehicle programs, Bassett is now the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications – Tactical (PEO-C3T). Currently, Bassett said, during a typical exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center, meant to depict realistic combat conditions, an Army brigade HQ gets a satellite link that can transmit two megabits a second. By comparison, he said, one of his fellow panelists, Forcepoint Federal CTO George Kamis, had just clocked his smartphone at 70megabits per second. That’s 35 times the power the 4,000-soldier brigade gets, for just one person.
“We have to provide more bandwidth to a headquarters than Mr. Kamis has in his pocket,” said Bassett.
But that’s not easy. War-torn countries generally don’t have a first-class network of cell towers and fiber optics. What they do have can get blown up at inconvenient times. So the Army has to bring its own communications infrastructure with it, one that works on the move and under fire. That system generally relies on glorified wifi networks on the ground — basically, radios plus computers — with long-range radio-frequency links provided by a small number of large, expensive satellites. It was hard enough keeping the data flowing to the far mountains of Afghanistan, but at least the Taliban didn’t have the technology to attack the network. Russia and China, however, are investing heavily in capabilities to eavesdrop on or jam the radio transmissions and to blind or outright shoot down the satellites. Laser beams don’t penetrate the atmosphere as easily as radio, but on the upside they’re much harder to jam. That’s because radio waves spread out over a wide area, so third parties can pick them up or send out a jamming signal to disrupt the original message. To stop a laser, however, you have to block the exact line of sight between sender and receiver, a much harder task. What’s more, both the government and private sector have developed much smaller, less expensive satellites — often called “cubesats” after their simple, boxy shape — that can be launched in much larger numbers than traditional satellites. From a military perspective, a lot of cheap satellites is harder for the enemy to destroy in a future space war than a few expensive ones. Lots of companies — including Elon Musk’s SpaceX — are interested in laser-based (optical) communications, especially from one satellite to another, where there’s no air to get in the way. But NASA’s Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration(OCSD) is shooting lasers through the atmosphere. The beams come down from a pair of cubesats in low earth orbit (AeroCube-7B and -7C), each of which weighs just five pounds. That’s a dramatic contrast to the massive laser communications satellites the Pentagon once tried to develop under the T-SAT (Transformational Satellite) program. The apogee of the hubristic technophilia of so-called defense transformation, T-SAT was cancelled in 2010 after spending $1.5bn. The bill for a full constellation of five satellites was an estimated $26bn.
The OCSD cubesats are so small and simple, by contrast, that they don’t even have adjustable mirrors to aim their laser beams. Instead, the whole satellite rotates. It uses a sophisticated steering system — complete with tiny star trackers that takes bearings off the constellations — to aim itself within 1/40th of a degree of the intended target, in this case the Mount Wilson Observatory in California. (The best previous satellite had an accuracy of just one degree, Aerospace Corp. says, which is enough to miss the target at earth-to-orbit distances). They don’t even use rocket fuel to maneuver, instead carrying a small tank of water it sprays out as steam. The space-to-ground link in this experiment clocked at 100 megabits per second. That’s 50 times the bandwidth of a conventional (i.e. radio) communications cubesat of the same size (2 megabits/second), Aerospace Corp. said. But NASA believes “relatively simple upgrades, primarily to the attitude control system, will enable download rates of 2.5 gigabits per second (Gb/s) or higher.” (For comparison, the entire T-SAT constellation was supposed to have a total worldwide capacity of 28.5Gb/s.). It’s important to note what the cubesats didn’t do. They didn’t communicate directly from one satellite to the other, although NASA is interested in testing that capability on a future mission, Aerospace Corp laser technology manager Todd Rose told me in an email. Nor did they test the uplink going the opposite direction, from a ground station to the satellites. That would require new hardware, both an appropriate ground terminal and a high efficiency receiver small enough to fit on the cubesat. But that should be doable, and the current experiment has provided valuable lessons on how to make it work.
“These are experiments that we would like to conduct in the future,” if NASA funds them, Rose told me. We’ll be watching developments closely — just not so closely the laser shines right in our eyes. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
02 Aug 18. Consortium For Satellite-Based Quantum Key Distribution. The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology announced it joins a freshly formed consortium comprising leading European research and industry organisations working on a next generation satellite-based cybersecurity system. The consortium led by the world-leading satellite operator SES and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) aims to develop Quantum Cryptography Telecommunication System (QUARTZ). QUARTZ applications will address the needs of users such as telecommunication operators, financial organisations, infrastructure providers, institutions and governmental organisations. The members of the consortium are: SES (Coordinator), AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, German Aerospace Center (DLR), ID Quantique, itrust consulting, Ludwig-Maximilian University, LuxTrust, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Palacky University, Tesat-Spacecom, and TNO.
Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a method for secret key agreement based on optical communication with quantum signals. It is fundamentally different from classical cryptography and is currently the only known method that will be provably secure against attacks from future quantum computers. Satellite-based QKD can overcome the distance limitations of several hundred kilometres still present in fibre based QKD systems.
Over the coming three years the AIT experts of the optical quantum technologies research group will create next generation software to enable the distribution of secure keys between optical ground stations on earth that will all be connected by quantum links with a quantum enabled satellite. This will achieve a reliable, globally available cybersecurity system and deliver next-generation encryption keys to networks in geographically dispersed areas, thus leveraging the unique advantages of satellites, including global reach and unlimited coverage.
The QUARTZ consortium will define, design and develop a satellite-based Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system and service architecture, which will include the future service and the core technologies, as well as ground end-to-end testing. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
03 Aug 18. Bezos throws cash, engineers at rocket programme as space race accelerates. Amazon.com (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos is racing to pull his private space company out of start-up mode and move into production amid signals that his firm’s heavy rocket set for lift-off in 2020 may slip behind schedule, according to people familiar with the project. Blue Origin has added hundreds of engineers over the past three years and continues to ramp up in an expansion that one employee described as “hyperbolic.” The Kent, Washington-based company is looking to double its current workforce to around 3,000 employees over the next two to three years, a top customer told Reuters. The urgency centres on a rocket dubbed New Glenn. The heavy-launch vehicle, which Bezos promises will be able to haul satellites and, eventually, people into orbit, is central to the company’s hopes of winning lucrative military and commercial contracts.
New Glenn’s first-stage booster will be reusable, a key piece of Bezos’ strategy to lower costs and increase the frequency of launches. Blue Origin executives have stated publicly that test flights will begin within two years. But whether Blue Origin can hit that mark remains to be seen. With the clock ticking on 2020, company engineers are still finalising details on New Glenn’s design and just beginning to build model components that must be put through extreme testing, people familiar with the project said. They requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly. Blue Origin has privately acknowledged in conversations with French satellite firm Eutelsat SA – its first New Glenn customer – that its 2020 time frame is “very aggressive,” a person with direct knowledge of talks between the companies said. The firms have padded their contract, which covers the launch of a geostationary satellite in the period 2021-2022, so that Blue Origin will incur no penalties if it is late, the person added. Yohann Leroy, Eutelsat’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, declined to discuss details of his company’s contract with Blue Origin, but said he was optimistic New Glenn will be ready to carry his firm’s satellite by the end of 2022.
“Of course, I cannot guarantee that they will respect their initial timeline, but we are confident that they will not be very far from it,” Leroy said.
A Blue Origin spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment about the company’s hiring practices, strategy or competitive challenges. The private firm has been tight-lipped on New Glenn’s production status and plans for bringing it to market. Mounting a successful test in 2020 would give Blue Origin its best shot at fending off competing rockets and new ones expected to enter the market in the next few years, analysts said. Rivals include aerospace stalwarts United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N); and France’s ArianeGroup, a joint venture between Airbus (AIR.PA) and Safran (SAF.PA). Japan and China are likewise designing reusable rockets.
But 18 years after its founding, Blue Origin has found itself lagging a competitor closer to home: SpaceX. Founded by Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk, the Hawthorne, California-based company has upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. SpaceX has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged bns of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. (Source: Reuters)
02 Aug 18. Air Mobility Command Chief Looks Toward Supplying Forces From Space. Deliveries from space are going to happen, and the Defense Department must be ready to capitalize on the capability when it happens, the commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command told the Defense Writers Group here today. Air Force Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II said he is looking to space to enhance the American military’s global mobility and move at the speed of war. Air Mobility Command needs rapid access to space, the general said, and he is working with private corporations to examine the ways forward. “I just had a visit with SpaceX and Virgin Orbital,” he said. “They tell me they can get around the globe in 30 minutes with a Big Falcon Rocket.”
Using the rocket, the command could deliver 150 metric tons for less than the cost of a C-5 Galaxy transport jet delivery, he said. Space is a new frontier for transportation, and private companies are developing technologies that are driving the costs of launches down, the general said. “What happens if we pre-position cargo in space?” he asked. “I don’t have to use terrestrial means [to deliver it]. I can position it in space and have an automatic vehicle go up and come back down.
“I want to get around the globe quickest so I can affect that adversary,” he continued. “It is in its infancy stages, … but I want to put mobility people in Space Command so they can learn space and I want space folks in Mobility Command. If we don’t do this and we stay in the air domain, Air Mobility Command will become irrelevant.”
Concepts Ready in Five Years
The general said he believes that the concepts can be ready within the next five years. “Within five years after that, it will be happening,” he told the defense writers.
AMC has a future concept section that is looking closely at the capability, Everhart said, and Air Force personnel are already looking to develop a concept of operations for mobility in space. Air Mobility Command is an integral part of U.S. Transportation Command and is a crucial enabler for all services and combatant commands. The United States is a superpower because the American military can deploy anywhere in the world and sustain those forces. Air Mobility Command is a $46 bn enterprise with 1,100 aircraft and 124,000 total- force airmen, including civilians. “The world is our [area of responsibility],” the general said. The big grey planes with the American flag on the tail are a visible sign of U.S. capabilities, Everhart said. “I call it grey-tail diplomacy,” he added. “The American flag on the tail tells our friends we’re there to help and tells our enemies to watch out.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
01 Aug 18. Globalsat and SatSure Agree to Market Their Combined Talents in the Americas. Globalsat Group has signed an agreement with SatSure regarding the joint marketing of large area analytics solutions to customers in the Americas. Globalsat Group has signed an agreement with SatSure that brings them to the Americas to market their analytics solutions. Under the agreement, Globalsat customers will have access to SatSure’s newest technology, in combination with Globalsat’s integration capabilities, market access and ambitious roster of Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and Fixed Satellite Services (FSS). Because SatSure is anxious to identify and leverage market opportunities in the North, Central, and South America regions and is looking for assistance for this purpose and after mutual discussion SatSure has decided to engage Globalsat Group as its partner. This decision comes because Globalsat Group has the expertise, experience and the network of people in the above mentioned regions to assist Globalsat Group in finding opportunities to market and sell its platform there. Through this collaboration, the Americas will have access to SatSure’s services by combining the power of Satellite Remote Sensing, IoT, Machine Learning, Cloud computing, and Big Data analytics.
- Alberto Palacios, Globalsat Group CEO stated that SatSure is a solid addition to Globalsat’s offerings which will enable them to offer one-stop solution for clients in remote areas which can make use of both satellite connectivity and large area analytics, and of course SatSure services will also be available separately for customers with network access in more developed rural or urban areas.
Prateep Basu, Director and Global Head of Strategy and Partnerships of SatSure added that they are excited to be working with Globalsat. This agreement represents a significant opportunity to expand the reach of their transformative technology stack throughout the western hemisphere, where they can help solve today and tomorrow’s decision support requirements for enterprises, farmers, banking, insurance, social infrastructure, energy, and telecoms, who can leverage the power of connectivity and analytics to drive cost efficiency and risk management in their operations. (Source: Satnews)
30 Jul 18. A Second Military Satellite Has Been Approved by the Government of Luxembourg. Luxembourg’s plans to launch a second military satellite have passed a vote in Parliament — the MPs backed a law to acquire, launch and operate a satellite to meet the country’s defense needs. The bill was adopted with 58 votes in favor and two against which were derived from The Left MPs. Funding will occur over 14 years for the satellite and the ground observation facility through a 170m euros investment. This yet-to-be built military satellite is expected to launch in 2020 and will be used to detect risks for the national defense forces as well as engage in emergency observation missions that would include all manner of natural disasters. The first Luxembourg — GovSat — was launched through a partnership of the government and satellite operator SES in January of 2018. This on orbit platform will enable Luxembourg to engage in defense efforts as a NATO, European Union and European Space Agency member. (Source: Satnews)
30 Jul 18. MDA’s New President. He Returns to Canada to New Commercial Division. MDA, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.), (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR) has announced a newly created division, MDA Commercial, in which Michael Rack will begin as president on September 24, 2018. Rack will lead MDA Commercial and have responsibility for global growth and operations of all the commercial product lines including space robotics, space sensors (the recently acquired Neptec), antennas and electronics, payloads, and non-space products. Rack will report to Mike Greenley, the Group President of MDA. This is the second announcement in a month regarding appointments of executives at MDA. In June Chris Pogue was announced as President of MDA Government. Mike Greenley, Group President of MDA said that Michael is a proven business leader in aerospace, defence, and space commercial products. Hallmarks of his past performance include driving top and bottom line growth, achieving high levels of customer engagement and business outcomes. Michael brings the right skills at the right time for the next phase of MDA growth. Rack joins MDA after a 23-year career in executive aerospace, defence, security, and space industry positions. In his most recent position as Senior Vice President at Inmarsat, he led two of Aviation’s Core Businesses. Prior to Inmarsat, Rack worked for General Dynamics Mission Systems, where he was Vice President of international sales.
Michael Rack said he is very proud to be returning to Canada to lead MDA Commercial. It is an exciting time of transformation in the space industry, as new commercial markets open for satellites, on orbit servicing, space exploration, space mining, space manufacturing, and even space tourism. The product lines across MDA Commercial are world leading, and the teams have extensive heritage across the fields of space-based communications, Earth observation, and space exploration that give them the unique opportunity to build a better world here on Earth. (Source: Satnews)
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