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15 Aug 18. Sprint toward new missile-warning satellites begins with first contract award to Lockheed. The U.S. Air Force is racing to kick-start its new accelerated program to buy next-generation missile warning satellites, awarding a contract on Aug. 14 to Lockheed Martin for the first three satellites in the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program. The award, which has a value of up to $2.9bn, will allow Lockheed to do the design work, flight hardware procurement, early manufacturing and risk-reduction work necessary for a critical design review, the service said in a statement. Lockheed is set to provide the three geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites in the Next-Gen OPIR constellation.
“As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement. “We are focused on providing a missile warning capability survivable in a contested environment by the mid-2020s.”
More specifically, the Air Force has said it plans to launch its first Next Gen OPIR satellite in 2023, two years earlier than its original plan to begin fielding the replacement for the Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, which called for first launches in 2025.
Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, was one of the biggest critics of the Air Force’s original procurement strategy for a next generation SBIRS. In December, he called the service’s plan to field the new constellation by fiscal 2029 “ridiculous” and said it could be done faster.
Then, at Space Symposium this April, Wilson announced that the service would use prototyping to speed up the procurement timeline for Next Gen OPIR. Although the design of the satellites is still in flux, Wilson noted that companies could leverage mature sensors and a common satellite bus to accelerate development. The new procurement strategy seemingly has had two major impacts to the program so far: the earlier first launch date, and the addition of a second satellite manufacturer in Northrop Grumman, which has been tapped to provide the polar orbit satellites. The Air Force had originally envisioned sole-sourcing the entire constellation to Lockheed. The Next-Gen OPIR constellation will give the service an improved missile detection capability while being more survivable against potential threats, the service stated in its news release.
“The joint team requires a defendable and resilient architecture,” said Gen. Dave Goldfein, the Air Force’s chief of staff. “People and integrated capabilities that strengthen agility, readiness and lethality in the joint fight are paramount.”
Although the final terms of the contract announced Wednesday have not yet been settled, a May notice of intent to sole-source the contract to Lockheed noted that a cost-plus incentive fee vehicle was anticipated. The Air Force also intends to sole-source the first two polar orbit satellites of the Next Gen OPIR constellation from Northrop, according to a May presolicitation. A contract for requirements definitions of those satellites is impending. (Source: Defense News)
14 Aug 18. State Department concerned over Russian satellite’s behaviour. A Russian satellite made a series of maneuvers in October 2017 that was “inconsistent” with its expected behavior and marks “a very troubling development,” a top U.S. diplomat said during a speech Aug. 14.
“In October of last year the Russian Ministry of Defense deployed a space object they claimed was a ‘space apparatus inspector.’ But its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” said Yleem Poblete. the State Department’s assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance. “We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it. But Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development—particularly, when considered in concert with statements by Russia’s Space Force Commander.”
Poblete’s comments were part of an address made at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. The address comes less than a week after the Pentagon announced it would establish a Space Force as a sixth military branch. The Department of Defense released a report Aug. 9 outlining the need for and potential organizational structure of a Space Force. In particular, U.S. officials are worried about advances from China and Russia.
“Although U.S. space systems have historically maintained a technological advantage over those of potential adversaries, those potential adversaries are now actively developing way to deny our use of space in a crisis,” the report said.
Poblete used the address to highlight the potential threat of Russian space weapons such as anti-satellite weapons or missiles designed to destroy satellites.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense recently announced that its Space Troops have received a mobile laser system which Vladimir Putin announced to the world on March 1 of this year. Russia’s leader himself alluded to space weapons being ‘more acceptable in the political and military respect’,” Poblete said.
She said the purpose of the satellite detected in October remains unclear but that U.S. officials find the development especially concerning after Russia’s Space Force Commanded highlighted the importance of assimilating new weapons prototypes into its Space Force.
Poblete said Russian Ministry of Defense stated in a press release the satellites were “simply inspector satellites.”
While she did not mention the satellite by name, observers have speculated the satellite may be one of a series of Russian satellites launched June 23, 2017. In August 23, 2017, the Russian Ministry of Defense issued a press release that said “Today, a small-sized spacecraft has separated from the space platform in order to inspect condition of the Russian satellite.” A scientific experiment aimed to assess condition of the satellite according to its internal appearance is to be held in future. In April, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a Space Threat Assessment report that identified Russia’s space force and anti-satellite technology as one of the significant threats to the United States. The report pointed to the Soviet Union’s history of developing and operating anti-satellite weapons and the use of rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO), which involves moving a satellite to a target to damage or destroy it, as part of Russia’s advantage as it continues to develop space technology. Similarly, a report from the Secure World Foundation, also from April, found that Russia is investing heavily in Rendezvous and Proximity Operations, or RPO – the ability to have a system in space maneuver around and interact with another nation’s satellites. However, that report noted there is “no proof” these are disruptive capabilities as opposed to intelligence gathering investments. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
14 Aug 18. China closing the satellite imagery capability gap. A Chinese Earth-observation satellite launched on 31 July from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre may be capable of achieving ground-image resolution of 10 cm or less. If confirmed, this would give China a satellite-imaging capability second only to the United States and possibly comparable to the maximum resolution provided by US imaging satellites. China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency reported that the Gaofen 11 satellite is an “optical remote-sensing satellite” that was carried aloft by a Long March 4B rocket “as part of the country’s high-resolution Earth observation project”. An article in the Science & Technology Daily, the news outlet of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, noted that the satellite’s ground resolution was “at the sub-metre level.”(Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Aug 18. Proposed Space Force to Protect, Expand U.S. Cosmic Capabilities. The proposal to form the U.S. Space Force is rooted in protecting America’s advantages in space and in ensuring such advantages continue, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan said during a roundtable discussion with Pentagon reporters yesterday.
Shanahan and Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke following Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement of the proposal to establish the U.S. Space Force, which would be America’s sixth armed service. Space is now a combat domain, the leaders said. Russia and China have demonstrated capabilities to destroy, hack or jam satellites. The U.S. Space Force would concentrate expertise to protect those assets.
Importance of U.S. Space Operations
Shanahan and Selva emphasized that military operations worldwide depend on space. Squad operations in Afghanistan all the way through command and control of America’s nuclear deterrent depend on assets in space. Space is an integral part of the National Defense Strategy and the DoD proposal for the way forward keeps that firmly in mind, the deputy secretary said.
“You know the first principle of change management is do no harm,” Shanahan said.
The plan calls for DoD to stand up a unified combatant U.S. Space Command under the direction of a four-star officer. Initially, that command would be patterned on U.S. Special Operations Command — where all the services contribute people and resources to accomplish the worldwide mission. And like Socom, the new Space Command would set the parameters for training and employment of the service assets. Officials said that about 80 percent of space qualified personnel reside in the Air Force, but all services have personnel with space expertise. Selva said there are roughly 18,000 people in the services with a space qualifier badge. There are also a number of civilian personnel in the department with this expertise and thousands of contractors who could be drawn into the new command. Another important aspect of the proposal should help speed development and acquisition of space assets. There are currently around 140 military satellites. What assets replace those satellites? Who maneuvers those satellites in time of tension? How does the department build in defenses or harden its space assets to prevent tampering or jamming? These are all questions that would be on the command’s plate. Establishing the U.S. Space Force will require congressional action, and Shanahan and Selva said that even as the U.S. Space Command is standing up, another group of Pentagon officials will be drawing up proposed legislation to establish the sixth armed service. A separate service will require a separate department under DoD like the Department of the Air Force. It will require a secretary, personnel systems, a promotion system, legal help, recruiting and more. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
09 Aug 18. Envistacom awarded $18m for information technology and intelligence support. Technology company Envistacom announced Aug. 6 that it had been awarded a task order worth $18m to provide information technology, rapid-prototyping, data analysis and intelligence support to the Army and Navy in the next three years. The task order is for the Army Contracting Command’s Deployable Adaptive Global Responder Support (DAGRS) contract vehicle, which is worth as much as $480m over five years. Envistacom is one 10 companies eligible to compete for task orders.
“I am confident that together with the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, our team will deliver an effective blend of strategy and technology to our warfighters and mission partners, and ultimately, help make the world a safer place,” said Alan Carson, senior vice president at Envistacom.
Based in Atlanta, Envistacom focuses on providing counterterrorism, cyber and communications technology to the Department of Defense and other customers in the aerospace, defense and intelligence communities.
In August 2017, Army Contracting Command Aberdeen Proving Ground awarded Envistacom a $10m five-year contract to provide communications and operations support to the Army. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
09 Aug 18. Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network and leader in integrated satellite solutions, announced today that Horizons 3e arrived at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, where it will undergo final preparations before its scheduled launch on an Ariane 5 rocket on the 7th of September, 2018. Horizons 3e is owned by a joint venture between Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, marking the fourth satellite project between the two companies. Built by Boeing and based on the award-winning Intelsat EpicNG design, Horizons 3e marks the sixth of our Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellites (“HTS”). The satellite will complete Intelsat EpicNG’s global coverage and provide wireless operator, mobility and government customers with unmatched performance, resiliency and redundancy. Horizons 3e is the first Intelsat EpicNG satellite to feature entire Ku-band spot beams utilizing multiport amplifiers that optimize power across the satellite. This enhanced, advanced digital payload features the highest throughput of the entire Intelsat EpicNG fleet with full beam interconnectivity in two commercial bands and significant upgrades on power, efficiency and coverage flexibility. With the multiport amplifier, power can be adjusted to each beam to meet customer throughput demands.
By matching satellite power usage to traffic demands, aeronautical and maritime mobility, fixed and wireless network operators, corporate enterprise and government customers can leverage the additional efficiency improvements to expand their network and applications across the Asia Pacific region. In addition to the power sharing technology, Horizons 3e provides additional resiliency to the IntelsatOne Flex managed service platform, for use in enterprise and mobility applications. Horizons 3e is currently scheduled for launch on 7 September, 2018 during a window that is currently scheduled to open at 5:56 pm EDT and closes at 6:31 pm EDT. Following a successful launch, Horizons 3e will be placed at the 169° East orbital location, where it will undergo in-orbit testing prior to its expected in-service date in the first quarter of 2019. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
08 Aug 18. Kongsberg Satellite Services’ New Business, KSATLite, is Big for Small Satellites. Kongsberg Satellite Services’ (KSAT) new business unit, KSATLite, is “fully dedicated to providing agile and innovative ground station services for the New Space sector.” KSATLite will be run as an internal incubator and operational support center for upcoming small satellite constellations and newly emerging launch vehicles. The goal of the KSATLite business unit is to provide ground communication services at a leaner price point. KSATLite is capable of being cost-efficient through gains in standardization, that enables many missions to be shared on a common infrastructure of support, that is easily scaled to grow the network alongside the industry needs. With a new business comes the need for folks to take the helm and KSATLite is no exception, and announces the promotion of Kristian Jenssen to director of KSATLite, who will be leading this new unit.
KSAT President and CEO, Rolf Skatteboe commented that Kristian is an incredibly hard-working leader who is committed to the New Space industry, and helping it grow. As an experienced aerospace engineer, Kristian brings a very technical approach to working directly with customers to provide a scaled and efficient communications solution. I have every confidence that this new business unit will become a growth sector for KSAT, and they look forward to supporting new missions with a more dedicated approach.
The success of the KSATLite network has proven that there is a real need in the industry for a dedicated ground solution that is easy to use and available at a lower cost basis. Kristian Jenssen notes that one major benefit of the KSATLite network is that it is live today, supporting over 10,000 passes a month, which enables new missions to receive support instantly, without incurring any risk of delay that might occur for systems that are untested or may require more modification to enable interoperability. With KSATLite they have used a very flexible software-defined ground radio system that allows them to support all of the major standards in satellite and launch vehicle communications. They also utilize a software-optimized scheduling system to enable them to support many different missions, which in sharing the basic infrastructure costs among more users, allows each mission to receive support at a much more affordable pricing structure. Building on the foundation of expertise that KSAT has acquired through over fifty years of ground station service operations, KSATLite is able to leverage many of the key strengths of the existing infrastructure. For example, all KSATLite sites are compliant with government standards of security, requiring a high-degree of physical security and information assurance. The KSATLite business unit will also continue to support new missions in obtaining ground station licenses at each location of operations, enabling customers to avoid learning new regulatory processes.
Jenssen added that with strong relationships with each of their regulatory partners, they are able to help guide their customers through the processes, enabling efficient and clear paths toward licensing. Combined with the strength of the operations excellence that enables KSAT to support hundreds of spacecraft every day, KSATLite brings an innovative approach to sharing standardized hardware via software scheduling that enables a revolutionary breakthrough in access.
Skatteboe added that KSATLite focuses on end-to-end services. It is one thing to build ground stations, but to provide dependable end-to-end services where data is reliably delivered is something else. Here KSATLite has an unprecedented position.
He continued to say that the creation of the KSATLite business unit will enable the team to further build upon success and provide even more dedicated support to the New Space market segment. They have been very pleased with the positive reception of customers currently using the KSATLite network, and are eager to keep pace with the increasing demand for this type of innovative and flexible support. (Source: Satnews)
08 Aug 18. NASA Awards $15m to Small Businesses for Competitive R&D Program. NASA has selected 20 research and technology proposals — valued at $15m — from 19 American small businesses. Each is partnering with research institutions for Phase II of NASA’s competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. STTR supports NASA’s future missions into deep space and benefits the U.S. economy. Selected proposals will support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations, and space technology. The awards are for small companies partnering with research institutions from across the country, including New Jersey, Alabama, Indiana, Illinois and California.
“Our STTR program focuses both entrepreneurs and leading research institutions on NASA’s long-term goals, bringing the latest in aerospace research to our programs,” said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “We are excited to see the results of these latest awardees.”
The awards cover a breadth of research and development needs, including:
- Distributed Electric Propulsion Aircraft Comprehensive Analysis and Design Tool: To help NASA test the next generation of electric propulsion aircraft, for both distributed electric propulsion aircraft and future vertical lift aircraft. These tools are designed to help NASA and aircraft manufacturers achieve low carbon emissions for aircraft through use of electric/hybrid propulsion.
- Autonomous Power Controller for Mission Critical Microgrid Power Systems: To build a centralized controller capable of optimal power generation and load scheduling, abnormal conditions and/or failure detection, and system restoration, while the local controllers monitor system components and pass sensor data to the centralized controller. This controller is designed to be used in NASA’s Deep Space Gateway and the International Space Station.
- Multiphase Modeling of Solid Rocket Motor Internal Environment:To aid in the design and optimization process of solid rocket motors. The tools will accurately model slag accumulation and its impact on solid rocket motor performance, efficiency and thrust oscillation. The modeling tools will be applicable to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and industry rockets.
Proposals were selected according to their technical merit and feasibility, in addition to the experience, qualifications and facilities of the submitting organization. Additional criteria included effectiveness of the work plan and commercial potential. Only small businesses awarded Phase I contracts are eligible to submit a proposal for a Phase II funding agreement. Phase II is focused on the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovation. Phase II projects are chosen as a result of competitive evaluations and based on selection criteria provided in the Solicitation. Phase II contracts last for 24 months with a maximum funding of $750,000. Small businesses have created approximately 55% of all jobs in the United States since the 1970s. The STTR program encourages small businesses and research institutions to develop innovative ideas that meet the specific research and development needs of the federal government. The program is intended to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, increase the commercial application of research results, encourage participation of socially and economically disadvantaged persons and women-owned small businesses, and foster technology transfer through cooperative research and development between small businesses and research institutions. The STTR program is sponsored by STMD and managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. STMD is responsible for developing the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions. (Source: ASD Network)
07 Aug 18. Spaceflight’s First Rideshare Mission of 70+ Smallsats Set for SpaceX’s Launch Later This Year. Spaceflight has announced the details behind their SSO-A mission, the largest, single, rideshare mission from a U.S.-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. SSO-A, which signifies the company’s first dedicated rideshare mission to a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit (SSO/LEO), is slated to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The mission 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 smallsats, 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.
With the majority of the spacecraft being integrated in Spaceflight’s Auburn, Washington-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. The company 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. 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.
Curt Blake, President of Spaceflight, said that the company’s inaugural, dedicated, rideshare mission, SSO-A: SmallSat Express, is a momentous milestone for Spaceflight. Launching more than 70 satellites from one launch vehicle is a challenging feat and the firm’s 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.
Dr. John M. Morrison, Professor, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography and Center for Marine Science at UNC-Wilmington, added that 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. This has 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. (Source: Satnews)
05 Aug 18. Expanded Operational Use for MUOS for U.S. Navy Authorized by U.S. Strategic Command. The U.S. Navy has announced that U.S. Strategic Command has approved the service’s next-generation, narrowband satellite communication system for expanded operational use, this according to a news report in the AFCEA’s online Signal Magazine infopage. The news article, written by George I. Seffers, the publication’s Technology Editor, reveals that this authorization paves the way for U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps “early-adopter” commands to use the system on deployment as early as this fall, primarily in the Pacific theater, according to the written announcement. The Navy’s on orbit, five-satellite constellation — the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) — began providing legacy satellite communications shortly after the system’s first satellite launch in 2012. Each MUOS satellite has dual capability. The legacy satellite communications payload was designed to maintain legacy narrowband communications for the Defense Department while the advanced MUOS capability came online. The full-suite MUOS payload, known as Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform, adapts commercial cellular technology to allow warfighters to communicate beyond-line-of-sight, more securely and reliably than before, and with 10 times the capacity compared to the legacy capability, the announcement states. With the MUOS constellation on orbit, the ground and network management system operational, and the WCDMA waveform available for end-user radios, operators today with MUOS WCDMA radios are connecting beyond line-of-sight around the globe, transmitting simultaneous voice, video and mission data on an Internet Protocol-based system that connects to military networks. MUOS-enabled radio population continues to be the limiting factor for greater MUOS WCDMA use. The system could be declared fully operational following Multi-Service Test and Evaluation next summer. The Marine Corps announced in June that it would be the first service to widely deploy MUOS, largely due to its investment in MUOS-portable radios over the past six years. The Marine Corps is slated to begin initial MUOS fielding in the fourth quarter of 2018, followed by initial operational capability in the first quarter of 2019. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.