Sponsored By Viasat
25 Apr 22. Viasat Selected to Deliver Real-Time, Near-Earth Communications for NASA’s Communications Services Project. Viasat Inc., (NASDAQ: VSAT) a global communications company, today announced it was selected on April 20th by NASA to support its Communications Services Project (CSP), which seeks to accelerate the development of near-Earth communications by partnering with commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) providers. Aligned to the CSP objectives, Viasat is developing a space relay capability that will leverage its upcoming ViaSat-3 global satellite constellation, with a newly developed terminal that will enable on-demand and cost-effective communications services for LEO spacecraft anywhere and at any time in their global orbit. Many satellites operating in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) routinely collect data, such as Earth and weather observations, radar measurements, space situational awareness, and other scientific data, that must be sent back to Earth in real-time. In choosing how to transport this data back to Earth for analysis and distribution, satellite operators often must consider a tradeoff between data latency, the time between data collection to when it is received back on Earth, and cost. Viasat’s existing RTE service has already reduced the cost to satellite operators by not requiring them to build and operate a costly, global network of ground station antennas to receive data from the LEO satellite; however, operators must wait until their satellites fly over a ground station to downlink their data. This introduces latency that can last from minutes to hours. Viasat’s space relay service will give LEO operators the ability to send data—in real-time, from any point in LEO orbit—leveraging the upcoming ViaSat-3 geostationary orbit (GEO) network, which will include three Terabit-class high-throughput satellites.
Viasat’s integrated space relay network will offer the best of both worlds by providing adaptable transport selection between the RTE ground network and ViaSat-3. This is expected to greatly reduce data latency by providing an affordable option for time-critical, latency-sensitive data transfer, while simultaneously offering multiple daily opportunities to downlink large amounts of data over a global ground network at very low cost. The Viasat RTE network currently operates on five continents, with sites in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa.
“Under NASA’s CSP program, Viasat will accelerate the deployment of its space relay services to support commercial and government NGSO operators, whether their space vehicles’ mission is performing atmospheric analysis or rapidly moving data to support warfighters at the tactical edge,” said Craig Miller, president of Viasat Government Systems. “The Viasat space relay service will deliver performance and scale beyond legacy data relay capabilities by transforming the way data is moved to and from space vehicles, offering persistent coverage to large numbers of LEO users simultaneously, with real-time access virtually anywhere, including the polar regions. The service will provide operators with the unique flexibility to switch between space relay and RTE direct-to-Earth depending on what the mission requires.”
Viasat is currently developing a space-qualified Ka-band terminal to give LEO operators access to the ViaSat-3 network for data transfer. Additional information on this terminal is available to operators seeking to evaluate integration on their space vehicles. (Source: PR Newswire)
28 Apr 22. Blue Canyon Technologies Expands Into GEO With Its First CubeSat. Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, assisted in the deployment of Ascent, the company’s first CubeSat spacecraft bus launched to a geostationary, or GEO, orbit by the Air Force Research Laboratory as part of the U.S. Space Force’s Test Program-3 mission.
Blue Canyon provided the 12U CubeSat bus, avionics, flight software, Guidance Navigation and Control actuators and sensors, batteries, solar panels, solar array drives, two propulsion systems, and RF communication hardware. BCT was on-site during commissioning and ensured the spacecraft was in a safe, stable power and thermal attitude before releasing operations to the lab to complete the mission objectives.
“In addition to being BCT’s first CubeSat flown at GEO, this is also the first demonstration of our Solar Array Drive Assemblies and the first application of our CubeSat components in the GEO radiation and charging environment,” said John Carvo, executive director of CubeSats, a business unit of BCT. “This is yet another example of our vertical integration and collaborative partnerships with our customers that enable BCT to expand the frontiers of science and defense.”
The Ascent mission is evaluating the performance of commercial-off-the-shelf technology and capabilities in the GEO space environment, only previously seen in LEO flight experiments. Ascent comprises several demonstrations that include flying two propulsion systems and the first GEO application of the Georgia Tech cold gas propulsion system to provide momentum management. BCT contacted the spacecraft on the first acquisition and continues to support on-orbit questions as needed.
At the company’s manufacturing facility in Boulder, Colorado, Blue Canyon recently converted the available office space to house its full CubeSat product line. BCT has more than 20 CubeSats in production and offers standardized designs that enable rapid delivery. The company is comprised of four core business units – CubeSats, Microsats, Components, and Mission Operations, with each offering peak performance, low-cost, and integrated solutions delivered directly to the end-user. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Apr 22. Ansys’ Digital Mission Engineering and Space Domain Awareness Protects National and Global Security.
“Ansys is honored to collaborate with DARC to support the digital design and validation of this critical U.S. national security system.”
Ansys Government Initiatives (AGI), an Ansys (NASDAQ:ANSS) company, is supporting Northrop Grumman in developing, testing, and delivering a Deep-Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) in support of the U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space Systems Command (SSC) Space Domain Awareness mission.
To break design and mission boundaries, Ansys gives engineers the power to see how their ideas will perform against ms of variables.
Integrating Ansys’ best-in-class simulation and digital mission engineering solutions, Northrop Grumman created a high-fidelity, open digital twin prototype environment. Northrop Grumman will also use Ansys’ products to examine radio frequency systems, perform mission-level analysis, and leverage digital thread capabilities.
“Ansys is honored to collaborate with DARC to support the digital design and validation of this critical U.S. national security system,” said Shane Emswiler, senior vice president of products at Ansys. “Our simulation and digital mission engineering solutions are proven to accelerate and optimize complex product development within leading engineering organizations throughout the world. We are confident they will benefit the Northrop Grumman DARC team in the same manner.”
This initial DARC contract includes the design, development, and delivery of a Site 1 system which is expected to be completed in 2025. The companies are also working together on two additional radar sites to be strategically positioned around the world. (Source: Satnews)
26 Apr 22. Kleos launches new satellite service for monitoring threats. ASX-listed Kleos Space SA has just launched a product that will exclusively tailor its satellite data to individual customers seeking to monitor potential defence threats.
The Luxembourg-based company uses its satellite clusters in low Earth orbit to geolocate emissions from passing ships that may be trying to hide their positions from tracking services, and provides the resulting data to its customers.
Unlike its older business model that gives multiple customers access to the same dataset, the new service will be tailored to “meet the need of specific ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] requirements of an individual customer mission,” according to CEO Andy Boyer.
The new product, dubbed Mission-as-a-Service (MaaS), is set to complement its other services, the company said.
“Kleos is diversifying its business model,” the company said in a statement on Monday. The new service will provide “customers with exclusive access to Kleos’ dedicated, in-orbit radio frequency reconnaissance satellite clusters for fixed periods of time and capacity”.
Each contract will be tailored to suit the customer’s needs, including the percent of satellite capacity needed, level of taskability required and corresponding data rights, according to Kleos.
“Our discussions with government departments, national security agencies and commercial entities have highlighted a growing need for a dedicated mission capability. Our new Mission-as-a-Service offering delivers that capability to customers,” added Boyer.
“As our constellation grows, we will offer a combination of DaaS datasets and MaaS offering reflecting the balance of needs between the commercial and non-commercial customer we have witnessed developing over the last few years.”
According to SpaceNews, the MaaS is expected to have a higher price tag compared its Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) product which relies on higher volumes to offset lower contract values.
On 1 April, the company’s third satellite cluster, dubbed the Patrol Mission, launched to space onboard SpaceX’s Transporter-4 mission from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Kleos said in an update on 14 April that the first two satellites were deployed from Italian company D-Orbit’s orbital transfer vehicle, and the remaining ones are set to be positioned in a different orbit in the coming weeks to establish their final formation.
The launch of the Patrol Mission satellites into 500-kilometre sun-synchronous orbit has boosted Kleos’ constellations to 12. Kleos is targeting a constellation of 20 satellites,
The cluster increases Kleos’ global data coverage capacity by 253 m square kilometres per day, and this enables the geolocation of X-band radar transmissions in the 8500-9600 MHz range. The satellites will also revisit key areas of interest for the customer more frequently, improving overall coverage. (Source: Space Connect)
20 Apr 22. Satellite Data From Spire Global To ID RF +GPS Interferences For Military Applications. Spire Global, Inc. (NYSE: SPIR) has expanded their existing partnership with Slingshot Aerospace. On September 30, 2021, the U.S. Space Force awarded Slingshot Aerospace a $2m contract to develop a prototype analytics tool that uses space-based location data from proliferated Low Earth Orbit (pLEO) constellations to identify potential sources of electronic ground interference. Spire will play a pivotal role in the contract by supplying Slingshot Aerospace with GPS telemetry data, a task underway since the two companies began collaborating in 2021.
Slingshot’s pLEO Data Exploitation and Enhanced Processing (DEEP) prototype will automate manual data exploitation techniques to deliver intuitive, easily digestible data products at low latencies for military operations. The DEEP prototype contract is funded through the Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Commercially Augmented Space Inter-Networked Operations (CASINO) program, which develops and demonstrates the military utility of proliferated LEO satellite architectures.
Identifying and mitigating ground-based radio-frequency (RF) and GPS interferences is a critical component of national security and U.S. Space Force operations. RF signals intercepted in open airspace are liabilities that directly threaten on-orbit space assets and military missions. Even in the absence of enemy interference and intentional jamming, RF signals from radio stations, cell phones, and various electronics cause interruptions and interferences – a problem exacerbated by the growth of modern communications technology.
The DEEP prototype is an effort by the U.S. military to take advantage of existing commercial satellite telemetry data to readily identify these sources of interference and correct any potential problems before they become a threat.
Spire’s pLEO constellation of 100+ satellites are collecting and disseminating data to enable monitoring and detection of GNSS radio frequency interference (RFI) that degrade the quality, reliability, and usability of GNSS/GPS position, navigation, and time (PNT) services. With more than 40 science-grade GNSS receiver payloads deployed across a range of LEOs, Spire is capable of providing persistent near-global coverage of a wide range of GNSS observables and payload telemetry.
The DEEP prototype contract was awarded on September 30, 2021 through the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) OTA vehicle managed by NSTXL. Spire will provide data to Slingshot Aerospace for the contract duration.
“Safe, reliable, and dependable space operations rely on the signals from global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) such as GPS. Today, radio frequency interference of those signals pose a direct threat to everyone’s on-orbit space systems. The DEEP project is focused on the ability to identify and characterize the potential sources of that interference, anywhere on the planet, as a critical step in preserving the safe and reliable operation of global space asset,” said Melanie Stricklan, CEO and Co-Founder, Slingshot Aerospace.
“Spire is excited to deepen our existing partnerships with both Slingshot Aerospace and U.S. Space Systems Command. Through the DEEP effort, Spire will support both Slingshot and SSC with our mission critical expertise in GNSS signal processing and demonstrated ability to detect terrestrial GNSS interference sources, including GPS jammers,” said Kamal Arafeh, Senior Vice President of Sales, Spire. (Source: Satnews)
22 Apr 22. Space Fence now has a direct link to key Space Force data hub. The U.S. Space Force announced Friday its cloud-based data environment can now ingest observation information directly from the Space Fence radar, demonstrating its ability to connect with sensor nodes in the Space Surveillance Network. The Unified Data Library is a key component of the Space Force’s digital architecture, built to collect and integrate space object tracking data drawn from Department of Defense sensors as well as commercial, intelligence community and foreign systems. Space Fence, a ground-based radar located at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, is one of the newest nodes in the SSN, providing the ability to track and characterize objects in low, medium and geosynchronous orbits. The system achieved initial operational capability in March 2020. The Space Fence and UDL integration represents the library’s first direct sensor connection with the SSN. The announcement follows a 30-day trial period, during which the service monitored the Space Fence-to-UDL data flow. Testing was completed April 15 following approval from a trial review exit panel.
Lt. Col. Daniel Kimmich, chief of Space Systems Command’s cross-mission ground and communications enterprise data branch, told C4ISRNET in a recent interview that prior to the direct-connect to UDL, Space Fence used a system called the Non-traditional Data Pre-processor to reformat its data. That system would then send the data to another processing system called CAVENet, which would ingest the data into the legacy Space Defense Operations Center.
The UDL connection “takes CAVENet processing, CAVENet ingestion completely out of the picture” for Space Fence observation data,” he said. It also paves the way for the service to make similar connections for other Space Fence capabilities, including object identification and characterization.
Beyond Space Fence, Kimmich said, the service is working to ensure that all Space Force sensors “within the realm of the possible” can integrate with the UDL. That includes the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, a largely classified constellation of six satellites tasked with monitoring space activities.
“That is on our roadmap in terms of a specific direct-connect,” he said.
The Space Force’s vision for the UDL has expanded since its inception in 2018 by the Air Force Research Laboratory. At the time, the concept was to create a mechanism to secure commercial data, but the UDL has since grown into the Space Force’s central data platform.
Today, the library exists at unclassified, secret and top secret security levels, and Kimmich said his team is working to adapt it for a special access program environment. Last month, the UDL received a three-year authority to operate, which he said validates its cybersecurity maturation as the service integrates more command-and-control platforms.
The service has had some success in this area due to a new operational data platform called Warp Core, which was built by Palantir. The system, which connects sensors to the UDL and other space domain awareness applications, achieved operational acceptance in January and is supporting the Space Force’s transition from the legacy Space Defense Operations Center to a new Space Command-and-Control system.
The service is also eyeing more international involvement in the UDL and has started development of an Allied Exchange Environment, which will take advantage of the library’s cyber accreditation to connect other countries for greater information sharing. Kimmich estimated the project will take about 12 to 18 months to develop. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
19 Apr 22. Inmarsat Government Tabbed By NASA For Satellite-Based Space Launch T&C Systems. The agency would decommission TDRS to enable commercial providers to support future near-Earth communication mission requirements. NASA has selected Inmarsat Government, Inc., as a delivery partner for the agency’s Communications Services Project (CSP).
Under the Funded Space Act Agreement (FSAA), NASA will partner with Inmarsat Government to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of providing commercial SATCOM capabilities as a service for future spacecraft users in near-Earth orbit.
Inmarsat Government will demonstrate with NASA a variety of space-based applications, enabled by Inmarsat’s ELERA worldwide L-band network, which will include capabilities for Launch Support, Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP), Low Data Rate Routine Missions and Contingency Mission Operations communications.
NASA selected Inmarsat Government to develop and demonstrate capabilities to prove that Inmarsat’s SATCOM services can meet a range of NASA mission needs and establish a mutually beneficial relationship based on public-private collaboration. This collaboration will also develop new models that the agency can use to acquire commercial services for meeting its future needs, along with other potential service users. NASA has determined that a commercial approach could be instrumental in ensuring long-term mission support, as the legacy NASA-owned-and-operated Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system will be decommissioned in the coming years.
Inmarsat Government will demonstrate the following specific capabilities:
- For launch support: The ELERA-powered InRange capability provides rapid, responsive and cost-effective launch telemetry from space, removing the need to construct and maintain costly ground-based launch infrastructure. InRange alleviates the requirement for a large network of down range ground stations to maintain telemetry coverage and helps to remove “black-out” phases that exist with terrestrial coverage of launches when switching from one ground station to the next.
- For LEOP and Mission Operations Services: The ELERA-powered InCommand resilient capability that enables commanding and telemetry on-demand for space assets operating below geostationary orbit. By providing real-time connectivity for space relay in support of low and medium earth orbit satellites, InCommand delivers a highly efficient, cost-effective and time-critical space-based solution for any LEO satellite by removing the dependency on ground infrastructure.
Susan Miller, CEO of Inmarsat Government, said, “At Inmarsat, we take pride in being a pioneering, customer-driven, technology leading company and our team is honored to support NASA in this vital project for many of its future major missions. The unique capabilities, long life and resilience of Inmarsat’s L-band ELERA network, combined with the company’s strong spectrum position and the global coverage of its satellite networks, enable us to serve the needs of the agency well. We look forward to partnering with NASA to demonstrate reliable, flexible and cost-effective satellite communications as a service for spacecraft users in near-Earth orbit.”
Inmarsat Government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications and is an awardee under Phase 2 of NASA’s CSP. (Source: Satnews)
22 Apr 22. DARPA seeks proposals on improving satellite imagery technology. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will accept proposals next month for three initiatives aimed at improving synthetic aperture radar technology in satellites.
Governments and industry are increasing investments in satellite imagery and SAR, in particular. Because SAR sensors rely on radar, they can produce images of the Earth at night and in all-weather conditions, unlike traditional electro-optical systems. The capability is especially useful for tracking movements or changes on the ground and has been in high demand during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
DARPA issued broad agency announcements for the efforts in February and March focused on improving SAR technology in three areas: automated object recognition; distributed radar image formation; and digital signal processing. Responses for all three are due in May.
The automated object recognition project, which DARPA has dubbed “Fiddler,” is focused on using machine learning and computer vision methods to create training data that can be used to improve existing ML algorithms.
“Performer methods will learn from real SAR images to generate or render synthetic SAR images at new imaging geometries or configurations,” the Fiddler notice states. “Performers will then demonstrate the generation of diverse training data from a few real examples to rapidly train robust SAR object detection methods.”
DARPA is interested in maritime applications for Fiddler, noting that while SAR object detection in coastal regions has improved significantly, there is a need for better methods to classify objects that are moving.
“For stationary objects, such as many terrestrial objects-of-interest, large training sets can be acquire over time to cover as many of the possible imaging variations,” the notice states. “Maritime environments are much more challenging because most objects-of-interest and the background scene are always in motion.”
The effort will include three phases and span more than three years, and DARPA plans to award multiple contracts, though the notice doesn’t mention how much funding is available for the effort.
The second project, Digital Radar Image Formation Technology, is part of DARPA’s broader vision for so-called mosaic warfare, which is focused on creating highly complex networks composed of smaller systems. Through DRIFT, DARPA wants to use clusters of SAR satellites and develop novel algorithms that “enable revolutionary advances in science, devices or systems.”
DARPA expects to make awards to multiple vendors for the program, which will have three phases over three years.
For the third effort, called Massive Cross-Correlation, DARPA seeks proposals to improve digital signal processing for SAR systems using hybrid architectures. At the end of the four-year effort, which will include multiple vendors with varied technical solutions, DARPA hopes to demonstrate the ability to process larger amounts of data and improve power efficiency. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
21 Apr 22. Six American Companies Selected By NASA To Collaborate on Space Communications. For more than a year, the agency has been evaluating the feasibility of employing commercial SATCOM networks for near-Earth operations as it works to decommission its near-Earth satellite fleet.
NASA selected six American satellite communications (SATCOM) providers to begin developing and demonstrating near-Earth space communication services that may support future agency missions.
For more than a year, the agency has been evaluating the feasibility of employing commercial SATCOM networks for near-Earth operations as it works to decommission its near-Earth satellite fleet. This approach would allow NASA to focus more time and resources on its deep space exploration and science missions.
The combined value of the agency’s Communications Services Project (CSP) funded agreements is $278.5 m. NASA expects each company to match or exceed agency contributions during the five-year development and demonstration period, totaling more than $1.5 bn of cost-share investment.
“We are following the agency’s proven approach developed through commercial cargo and commercial crew services. By using funded Space Act Agreements, we’re able to stimulate industry to demonstrate end-to-end capability leading to operational service,” said Eli Naffah, CSP project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. “The flight demonstrations are risk reduction activities that will develop multiple capabilities and will provide operational concepts, performance validation, and acquisition models needed to plan the future acquisition of commercial services for each class of NASA missions.”
Each company has proposed a technical approach to lower costs, increase flexibility, and improve performance for a broad range of missions. The agreements create opportunities to develop innovative solutions that could potentially meet NASA’s future mission requirements while supporting each company’s business model, future customers, and a growing domestic commercial SATCOM market.
The funded companies are:
- Inmarsat Government Inc. of Reston, Virginia, has been awarded $28.6m. Inmarsat’s proposed approach demonstrates a commercial radio frequency geostationary orbiting L-band relay network for low-rate SATCOM services to spacecraft and launch vehicles for routine missions, contingency operations, launch and ascent, and early operations phase communications.
- Kuiper Government Solutions (KGS) LLC of Arlington, Virginia, has been awarded $67m. Kuiper’s proposed approach demonstrates a commercial optical low-Earth orbiting relay network for high- and- low-rate SATCOM services to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for routine missions, contingency operations, and early operations phase communications.
- SES Government Solutions of Reston, Virginia, has been awarded $28.96 m. SES’s proposed approach demonstrates commercial radio frequency geostationary orbiting C-band and medium-Earth orbiting Ka-band relay networks for high- and- low-rate SATCOM services to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for routine missions, contingency operations, launch and ascent, and early operations phase communications.
- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, has been awarded $69.95m. SpaceX’s proposed approach demonstrates a commercial optical low-Earth orbiting relay network for high-rate SATCOM services to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for routine missions, contingency operations, launch and ascent, and early operations phase communications.
- Telesat U.S. Services LLC of Arlington, Virginia, has been awarded $30.65m. Telesat’s proposed approach demonstrates commercial radio frequency geostationary orbiting C-band and low-Earth orbiting Ka-band relay networks for high- and- low-rate communications services to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for routine missions.
- Viasat Incorporated of Carlsbad, California, has been awarded $53.3m. Viasat’s proposed approach demonstrates a commercial radio frequency geostationary orbiting Ka-band relay network for high- and low-rate communications services to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for routine launch and missions.
Each company will complete technology development and in-space demonstrations by 2025 to prove their proposed solution will deliver robust, reliable, and cost-effective mission-oriented operations, including the ability for new high-rate and high-capacity two-way communications. NASA intends to seek multiple long-term contracts to acquire services for near-Earth operations by 2030, while phasing out NASA owned and operated systems.
The CSP is managed by NASA Glenn in Cleveland under the direction of the Space Communications and Navigation Program, located at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power ms of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.