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22 Jul 22. Airbus and Northrop Grumman sign MOU for future UK milsatcoms. Leaders in secure military satellite communications looking to partner to address future UK secure communications requirements. Airbus and Northrop Grumman have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering their intention to address the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) SKYNET Enduring Capability (SKEC) military satellite communications requirements as an integrated joint team.
The combination of the experience, knowledge, and capabilities of two of the world’s leading space companies into a joint team will provide the MOD with optimal solutions for the space and ground segments of the SKYNET architecture. The team will work together to address future aspects of the SKYNET programme ensuring that UK social value and industrial participation is maximised, and that the ‘allied by design’ approach is implemented to drive towards interoperability with key national allies.
Richard Franklin, Managing Director Airbus Defence and Space UK said: “Northrop Grumman is a key partner in our offer to address the Service Delivery Wrap for future SKYNET services and an established international partner and supplier to the US Space Force. Signing this MOU with them is the next logical step to provide the next generation of solutions to the UK MOD – providing access to key US technologies and capabilities with Airbus’ world leading defence solutions. Building on our recent SDA partnership, our combined proven experience across all domains of secure beyond line of sight communications, including our track record on the SKYNET 5 programme for the past 18 years, gives our team truly unique capabilities to be a partner for MOD.”
“Northrop Grumman is proud to join with Airbus in addressing the requirements of the Skynet programme, and believe that this team can offer the very best capabilities to the MOD now and in the future,” said Tom Wilson, President, Northrop Grumman Space Sector. “This teaming agreement builds on the strong Northrop Grumman/Airbus relationship and the recent award of Airbus to provide 42 satellite buses for the Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) constellation Northrop Grumman is developing for the U.S. Space Development Agency.”
The SKYNET 5 programme, provided by Airbus as a full service outsource contract, has provided the UK MOD with a suite of highly robust, reliable and secure military communications services, supporting global operations since 2003. Airbus has been involved in SKYNET since 1974 and remains firmly committed to supporting a strong military space manufacturing and services capability in the UK. In July 2020 Airbus was awarded the contract to design and build the SKYNET 6A satellite to supplement the existing SKYNET 5 fleet of four satellites and enhance the UK’s milsatcoms capability.
22 Jul 22. Thales Alenia Space downselected for UK ISTARI programme. Thales Alenia Space UK – a joint venture (JV) between Thales and Leonardo – has been downselected for an early-stage study of the UK ISTARI programme. Speaking to Janes at the Farnborough Airshow 2022, Mark Hewer, the CEO of Telespazio UK, said that Thales Alenia Space UK was downselected by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 1 July to provide a firm proposal for an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) constellation demonstration.
The project, known as ‘Jove’, is essentially an early-stage study for the UK ISTARI programme, he said. ISTARI is a near GBP1 bn (USD1.2 bn) UK project that seeks to develop a military ISR multisatellite system.
A total of three parties have been downselected including the Thales Alenia Space UK proposal, led on behalf of the Space Alliance (a Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space partnership), Hewer added.
Phase one of the study was a pre-qualification process, in which the MoD required interested parties to justify why they were suitable and whether they were able to meet the requirement, Hewer said. (Source: Janes)
21 Jul 22. Satellite Vu and SSTL commission satellite clone to double climate data collection. Satellite Vu, the UK satellite firm set to become the world’s global thermometer from space, has commissioned a new clone of its original satellite in collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to double its data collection capacity. The deal sees SSTL begin construction on the second of Satellite Vu’s Mid Wave Infra-Red (MWIR) thermal imaging satellite’s which will collect thermal data day and night of the natural and built environment at any location on the planet, enabling the measurement of heat signatures and heat loss of any building in the world.
The satellites will form a constellation of satellites which will have the capacity to measure the energy efficiency of buildings, alongside fire spread prediction and water pollution, multiple times a day, providing real time data-driven climate insights.
The contract for the first Satellite Vu satellite was signed in 2021 with SSTL ready for shipment in the first quarter of 2023 for a launch aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
The second satellite, which is an exact clone of the first, is expected to be launched in early 2024 in response to market demand for greater capacity and more frequent revisit times.
The news comes after Satellite Vu recently completed their funding via the UKSA National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP), helping to implement de-risking technology and make significant operational improvements.
Anthony Baker, Founder and CEO of Satellite Vu said:
“Environmental issues are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, from governments to businesses to consumers, as we collectively recognise the urgency of creating a green and sustainable future for all. To create this future, we urgently need verifiable data sets to measure our progress and provide comparable metrics, therefore our satellites are set to revolutionise climate change by tackling energy wastage and connecting governments and businesses with the necessary data to reduce their carbon emissions. The procurement of another satellite is driven by market demand for more capacity to address urgent customer problems and investor confidence in the team to accelerate the execution of the company business plan.”
Phil Brownnett, Managing Director of SSTL, said: “I am delighted to sign another contract with Satellite Vu for a second thermal imaging satellite and look forward to continuing to work closely with Satellite Vu to achieve their business goals.”
20 Jul 22. £1m for innovation to enhance UK space capabilities.
Five innovative organisations have won a share of £1m to develop technologies that enhance the UK’s ability to safely operate in space.
- Innovative ideas receive funding to overcome major space hurdles as a result of an innovative campaign
- Space to Innovate also aims to promote space resilience and operational effectiveness
- Proposals focus on novel Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) and communications technologies
The funding – announced today at the Farnborough International Airshow – has been allocated to projects that improve intelligence gathering, threat assessments, and enhance the monitoring of spacecraft.
Space to Innovate Campaign – Bravo was launched in September 2021, and sought to find innovations that maintain the UK’s freedom to operate in the space domain by developing future space technologies that enhance and protect military and civilian activity.
The winning organisations include:
- AltaRange Ltd (Scotland)
- Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd and Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (Scotland)
- Slipstream Engineering Design Ltd (Yorkshire and the Humber)
- AVoptics (South west)
- Astroscale (South east)
Space-based services and satellites are vital to modern life, enabling a range of civilian and military activities such as global communications, secure navigation, banking transactions and transport. Any form of disturbance to UK space capabilities, whether natural or intentional, can have a huge effect on these critical services and the UK economy as a result.
Air-Vice Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command, said: “This is an exciting time for the UK’s space sector. It’s great to see companies across the union continuously challenging the norms and improving the UK’s ability to operate effectively and safely in space through innovative technologies.”
Bravo Drop is the next part in the collaboration between Government, Defence, and industry and is crucial to our mission to make space safe, secure, and sustainable for all generations.
The Space to Innovate Campaign aims to find and fund solutions to major space hurdles to promote space resilience and operational effectiveness. Funded through Space to Innovate Campaign – Bravo Drop, the campaign is a joint collaboration between the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) UK Space Agency and Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).
Dr Mike O’Callaghan, Dstl Space Programme Manager, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for Dstl with the launch of two satellite missions from the UK later this year. Accelerating the development of these technologies could enhance future space operations and contribute to improved space domain awareness, as well as more secure communications. We look forward to working with all the winners.”
Organisations were invited to submit their innovative technologies and solutions to help overcome two key challenges:
- Novel sensing and Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) technologies.
- Novel approaches to improve signal-to-noise performance of space-related communications, sensing, identification or tracking capabilities.
The winners now have up to 20 months to complete their projects and deliver the results.
The Space to Innovate Campaign – Alpha Drop aimed to identify visualisation tools to enable space operators to exploit information gathered from multiple data sources, and novel methods for characterising objects in space and their intent. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
20 Jul 22. Thales Alenia Space and QinetiQ to Pave the Way for Small Multimission Satellites in VLEO.
- A study contract for Skimsat, a breakthough concept for reducing the cost of Earth observing satellites and a step further for new space initiatives
Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and QinetiQ have signed a study contract with the European Space Agency to pave the way for small multi-mission satellites to operate in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO).
The Phase A/B1 study will advance the design of Skimsat demonstrator, a VLEO multi-mission (<300km) satellite that aims to significantly reduce the cost of Earth observation whilst increasing performance by operating at substantially lower altitudes. The highly modular, compact flexible satellite will capitalize on developments in high efficiency electrical propulsion to compensate for air drag.
The compact size of Skimsat will allow to be compatible with the launchers designed for small satellites with respect to dimensions, such as those currently being developed in the UK, to provide customers with substantially shorter lead times than traditional satellite launchers of similar capability.
The study is being led by Thales Alenia Space in the UK and QinetiQ Space team in Belgium and is funded under ESA’s Discovery Preparation and Technology Development (DPTD) activities. Payloads using the multi-mission Skimsat platform will be identified as part of the study for an In Orbit Demonstration to show applications in VLEO prior to the first commercial mission. This new initiative is fully included in the new space approach of Thales Alenia Space and reflects the company’s capability to address disruptive needs in partnership with smaller companies.
Andrew Stanniland commented: This important study for an In Orbit Demonstration in VLEO brings together the technical excellence from our pioneering teams based in the UK, working in close partnership with QinetiQ Space team in Belgium. The Skimsat concept is a revolutionary innovation that stands to completely change the Earth observation market by challenging the traditional use of high altitudes that avoid air drag and by creating a new business model for high resolution imaging by using short lifetime and lead time and thus offering the market the benefit of more cost effective satellites”.
Frank Preud’homme, Sales and Business Development at QinetiQ in Belgium said: “We are excited for the development of the next generation platform for satellites. We are happy to provide our customers with the quality, reliability and know-how of the PROBA platforms combined with the advantages of flying in Very Low Earth Orbit. We look forward to working with Thales Alenia Space and making this a reality”.
“This development activity will pave the way to address and validate the specific needs and challenges related to a flight in a very low Earth orbit. This will open up new opportunities for innovative applications either for the commercial market or the science community”, added Stefanie Kohl, ESA System Engineer. (Source: ASD Network)
20 Jul 22. Australia has agreed a new $40m deal with Airbus to research new satellite technologies. It’s thought any breakthroughs will improve the crucial data provided to ADF personnel, including the RAAF.
The aerospace giant will be supported in delivering the “RMS STaR Shot” program by Inovor Technologies, Shoal Group and Deloitte.
Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro, said, “By partnering with Airbus, we will fast track the development of critical satellite technologies for the ADF, and ensure that our war fighters have ongoing access to resilient and trusted communication, intelligence and surveillance services.
“This is a true collaboration between government, industry and academia that will help position our growing Australian space sector to deliver future sovereign space technologies and operational capabilities.”
The selection process for the partnership was completed by a panel of experts from both Defence and the Australian Space Agency.
It’s hoped the agreement will lead to the creation of “leap-ahead” technologies and the exploration of new operating concepts.
Richard Franklin, managing director of Airbus Defence and Space UK, said, “We will be working hand in hand with our Australia partners and Defence to identify the key skills, technologies and strategic advantages that this partnership can deliver to enable Australia to become a global space player in the next decade.”
Monro said the additional Arrow satellites would provide early opportunities to take Australian-developed Defence payloads into space.
“As our domestic space sector matures, we will use locally designed and built satellites that are expected to be the most ambitious satellites ever designed and built in Australia,” she said.
“Self-reliance in space technologies is critical if we are to ensure the defence and security of the country.”
Earlier this year, Airbus also announced its intention to secure the tender for a $3 bn project to develop an independent military satellite communication system for Australia. (Source: Google/https://australianaviation.com.au/)
20 Jul 22. Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University join forces to support the development of space skills, research and technology. £630,000 investment to enhance science, technology, research and skills in the North East of England. Global aerospace and security company, Lockheed Martin, has today announced a collaboration with Northumbria University that includes an initial planned investment of up to £630,000 to support the development of skills, research and technology across the region.
Space and solar physics research is an area of excellence at Northumbria University and the University has invested heavily in recent years in world class facilities and leading experts to drive its research and education in this area.
Lockheed Martin’s investment forms part of a wider £7m investment into engineering facilities for research and teaching at Northumbria, funded by the Office for Students, the UK Space Agency and the University itself.
This investment will help to put Northumbria University, the city of Newcastle and the wider North East in a strong position to be a leader in the global space economy, supporting new research, developing innovative technologies for export, and generating skills for a high growth sector.
Lockheed Martin is initially set to invest in two strategic projects including finding new ways to transmit power to enable wireless charging of satellites, and for new forms of inter-satellite communications. It will also sponsor two PhDs in solar physics.
The initiative comes hot on the heels of a similar collaboration between Lockheed Martin and RTC North that aims to give small and medium enterprises greater access to UK, US and global programmes.
Lockheed Martin continues to build plans to expand its manufacturing space operations in the UK and is exploring options to establish a new research, development and satellite manufacturing facility which would support up to 2,300 jobs for the North East.
Paul Livingston, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK, said, “I am delighted to announce our initial collaboration with Northumbria University, which demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to investing in a long-term space industrial base in the UK. Our plans will grow the UK as a space nation, help it become a science and technology superpower, and contribute to Levelling-Up the economy.”
Professor John Woodward, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, added: “We are excited to develop our relationship with Lockheed Martin and look forward to working with them on satellite technology, space science research, and enriching our portfolio to deliver high-quality satellite-skills-related education.
“Lockheed Martin is a global leader in aeronautic, space and satellite research, partnering with the likes of NASA and the UK and European Space Agencies with whom we already work. We are delighted that Lockheed Martin recognise the expertise in satellite and space technology within Northumbria University and the potential for the wider North East region.”
The collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University follows a successful Space Skills and Suppliers Summit, which was held in Newcastle in March, in partnership with Invest North East England. The summit brought together potential new partners from industry and academia keen to work on initiatives linked with growing the UK space sector.
Lucy Winskell OBE, Chair of North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said that Lockheed Martin’s collaboration with Northumbria University would ensure the region has the skills and capability to drive forward the Government’s National Space Strategy, and would showcase the talent and innovation within the North East.
Ms Winskell said: “The number of North East businesses actively working in the space and satellite sector continues to grow. The investment by Lockheed Martin in the new North East Space Skills and Technology centre will open the door for businesses of all sizes to support the growth and expansion of this emerging sector.
“Our region’s growing infrastructure supporting the sector, which includes the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence in County Durham, is helping position the North East has a leading destination for space research, innovation and technology.”
Lockheed Martin is also a strategic partner to the UK government, and is working with the UK Space Agency to conduct northern Europe’s first vertical satellite launch from the recently-approved SaxaVord Spaceport, creating a wealth of jobs and injecting ms into the UK economy.
19 Jul 22. Hanwha Defense Australia, Hanwha Systems Corporation and OneWeb sign MoU to explore Australian defence connectivity services. The three parties entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore future participation in the Australian military satellite internet business. The MoU, which was signed during the UK’s Farnborough International Airshow, is designed to facilitate communication between the three parties for provision of connectivity services to the Australian defence market. Particularly, it is hoped that the MoU will identify how the companies can combine their core capabilities to achieve the competitiveness required for Australian Military Satellite Tactical Internet Program participation.
As outlined in a release from Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA), the companies have identified leveraging:
- Hanwha Systems Corporation’s (HSC) vehicle type satellite communication terminal solutions and system integration;
- HDA’s K9 self-propelled howitzer and Redback armoured vehicle platforms and local marketing activities in Australia based on the ground knowledge of the customer, and;
- OneWeb’s LEO satellite connectivity services.
According to the company, the parties are looking to develop a satellite internet solution by integrating OneWeb’s high-speed, low latency low earth orbit satellite connectivity services with HSC’s satellite communication antenna which is currently under development.
The MoU follows significant advances in communications capabilities by HSC and HDA.
It was revealed that both HSC and HDA responded to the Australian government’s LAND 4140 Request for Information, designed to develop a multi-layered communications program for defence. This is expected to leverage HSC’s track record in delivery C4I programs for South Korean forces.
HSC further acquired Phasor Solutions in 2020, a UK-based satellite communication antenna developer, which now focuses on developing next generation antennas as Hanwha Phasor.
HSC has also invested significantly in developing the industry, including a $300m investment in OneWeb in August 2021.
In 2020, HSC also invested $30m in Kymeta, an electronically steered antennas company, with an additional $11m investment in March, forming a strategic partnership between both companies.
“We are happy to be working with our sister company HSC and with OneWeb to explore opportunities to expand our Australian footprint into the space domain,” Richard Cho, managing director of Hanwha Defense Australia said.
“This is an important growth area for us.”
The announcement comes as OneWeb scales up its satellite constellation, with 428 satellites already deployed.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Hanwha to utilize our satellite connectivity solutions in the Australian defense market. We know firsthand how Hanwha’s high-quality technological thinking and development complements the capabilities of OneWeb’s LEO network, ensuring customers worldwide benefit from improved connectivity,” Neil Masterson, chief executive officer of OneWeb continued.
According to Songchul Eoh, chief executive officer of Hanwha Systems, the collaboration is expected to broaden the technological capabilities of the partners.
“We have high hopes on this MOU, which will give us greater opportunities to bring tangible outcomes together, already having made significant investments in this technology area,” Eoh said.
“Going forward, we will cooperate with various companies with competitive technologies, at home and abroad, in order to strength our position in the global market, particularly to approach such countries as Saudi Arabia and Poland, who require satellite internet.” (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Jul 22. Terran Orbital Successfully Completes Next Step in Demonstrating Space-to-Ground Optical Link on NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 Satellite. Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the first signal acquisition of the Terabyte Infrared Delivery (TBIRD) Lasercom Optical Link on NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) satellite. Acquisition of the Lasercom Optical Link means that the spacecraft and the optical ground terminal have successfully exchanged laser communication signals — bringing PTD-3 one step closer to full payload commissioning.
The PTD-3 mission is one in a series of NASA small satellite technology demonstration missions. The mission series, managed by NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, demonstrates novel CubeSat technologies in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). The TBIRD system is funded by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program and was built by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MITLL) in Lexington.
Following Terran Orbital’s completion of the commissioning process for the PTD-3 spacecraft, the TBIRD payload will demonstrate an astonishing 200-Gbps space-to-ground optical link. With a transmission rate of multiple orders of magnitude faster than current state-of-the-art satellite communications, this NASA and MITLL technology would enable spacecraft to downlink several terabytes of data to the ground in a single ground station pass. This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionize the space-based earth observation and synthetic aperture radar industries, among others, by offering a space-demonstrated solution to the data throughput bottlenecks that have historically limited their capabilities.
Terran Orbital designed, built, and tested the Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator bus accommodating the payload, as well as the payload’s unique interface board in addition to performing thermal and structural analyses on the spacecraft. Terran Orbital also developed custom guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) algorithms to accommodate this mission’s tight pointing requirements, as well as a novel on-orbit lasercom boresight scanning algorithm. Terran Orbital assembled, integrated, and tested the spacecraft prior to its launch aboard SpaceX Transporter-5. Now Terran Orbital is leading PTD-3’s mission operations, commissioning, Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP), and on-orbit activities for the spacecraft. NASA and MITLL lead the overall coordination and on-orbit operations for the TBIRD payload.
“Terran Orbital has been privileged to be involved with PTD-3 since its inception,” said Terran Orbital Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer Marc Bell. “PTD-3 is opening a universe of possibility when it comes to future mission capabilities. Terran Orbital looks forward to working alongside NASA and MITLL as we continue to design, build, and deliver unprecedented satellite solutions.”
About Terran Orbital
Terran Orbital is a leading manufacturer of small satellites primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries. Terran Orbital provides end-to-end satellite solutions by combining satellite design, production, launch planning, mission operations, and on-orbit support to meet the needs of the most demanding military, civil, and commercial customers. Learn more at www.terranorbital.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
20 Jul 22. Infinity unveils camera pitched for $1.2bn ASA mission. Infinity Avionics has unveiled the new camera it hopes will support a $1.2bn ASA program to launch four new Earth observation satellites.
The Canberra-based space sensor company claims its new Lynx4MP-500 device is Australia’s first commercial high-resolution camera for space applications.
It’s capable of taking photos to support weather forecasting, disaster management and agriculture.
The business’ chief executive, Igor Dimitrijevic, said, “It is vital to be able to design and develop commercial space cameras in Australia. We think this is a key aspect when developing sovereign Australian space capability for building our know-how, supply chains and jobs.”
The National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO) program was announced in March this year and aims to design and launch new Earth observation satellites.
It will be led by the Australian Space Agency in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, and Geoscience Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology and Department of Defence.
Infinity has already received a grant from the ASA as a part of its Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement initiative.
The funding is specifically intended for the development of a Modular Imaging Unit that will have a multi-use purpose in both Low Earth Orbit and for rover and lander missions.
Infinity said its new Lynx4MP-500 cameras have a ground sampling distance of 5 metres at an orbit of 500km.
A ground sampling distance is the distance between the centre-point of two pixels within an image. More simply, the ground sampling distance is the size of one pixel on the ground.
“Reliable, accurate and frequent Earth observation data plays a key role in supporting the everyday life of Australians,” said Dimitrijevic. “Our Lynx4MP-500 camera will be able to provide accurate and high-resolution image data to support agriculture, weather forecast, environmental planning, and disaster management among many other applications.”
Space Connect first reported last year on Infinity’s planned to launch high-resolution cameras into space in 2022.
The business began developing the camera – dubbed the Holmes Imaging System – with HEO Robotics, a satellite inspection provider, and Australian National University.
The UNSW Canberra Space spin-off has already launched products such as CubeSat low-resolution cameras and on-board computers – but this will mark its first high-resolution camera in orbit. (Source: Space Connect)
19 Jul 22. New launch contingent liability under the Space Industry Act 2018. Explains that there are plans to create a potential contingent liability each time launch activity is conducted under the Space Industry Act 2018. The government has bold spaceflight ambitions that we outlined in the National Space Strategy that we published last September.
The UK has a thriving satellite manufacturing industry and we excel at providing satellite-based communications and high-end navigation services. The space sector directly employs 45,000 people in the UK and satellites support at least £360 bn of UK GDP.
However, the UK is currently reliant on other launch countries to put UK built and UK operated satellites into space – including those critical for our defence and security.
Through the Space Industry Act 2018 (the 2018 Act) and the Space Industry Regulations 2021 (the 2021 Regulations), we have established the regulatory framework and appointed the Civil Aviation Authority as the spaceflight regulator, to enable the licensing of spaceflight activities from UK spaceports.
Space based technologies provide fundamental services to the daily lives of everyone in this country – from supporting defence and security, enabling faster and more efficient travel, enabling our smart phones, the provision television services and receiving better weather forecasts.
Having a UK launch capability will generate and support many additional high skilled jobs up and down the country – and give UK greater control and increased options for getting our satellites into space that can provide benefits for all.
I have therefore today (19 July 2022) laid a departmental minute describing a new contingent liability that the Department for Transport plans to undertake in respect of future launch operator licences granted under the 2018 act.
The liability arises from a combination of the UK being a party to the United Nations Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects 1972, powers and obligations under the 2018 act to indemnify operators and those who sustain injury or damage in the United Kingdom as a result of spaceflight activities and limits placed on a launch operator’s liability by or under the 2018 act and the 2021 regulations.
The circumstances giving rise to the contingent liability are fully explained in the departmental minute.
A potential contingent liability will be created each time a launch activity is conducted under the 2018 act. The liability is unquantifiable – but we anticipate that the likelihood of any liability arising above an operator’s liability limit to be very low.
The Department for Transport will keep Parliament informed of the specific indemnities entered into under this notification by reporting on them in our annual report and accounts which are laid before Parliament.
HM Treasury has approved the contingent liability in principle.
If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before Parliament, a member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or by otherwise raising the matter in Parliament, final approval to proceed with incurring the liability will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.
The action I have taken today is another step towards achieving the first small satellite launch from Europe this year. It reaffirms this government’s bold commitment to establishing the UK as one of the most attractive and innovative space economies in the world and the leading provider of commercial small satellite launch in Europe.
18 Jul 22. L3Harris Secures $700m Advanced Missile Tracking Space Development Agency Program.
- Affirms L3Harris as trusted prime to provide networked missile-tracking solutions
- Includes 14-vehicle satellite constellation as well as supporting ground operations and equipment
- Addresses hypersonic missile threat in support of multi-layer National Defense Space Architecture
L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has been awarded a contract to build the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellite program to serve as “eyes in the sky” detecting, identifying and tracking advanced missile threats. The contract has a potential total value of $700 m.
“Investing in resilient space assets and acting as a Trusted Disruptor in this market are core to our long-term strategy,” said Christopher E. Kubasik, Chair and Chief Executive Officer. “Our customers have been clear; missile defense technology and space domain awareness architecture must be diversified, and our teams are positioned to deliver those cutting edge solutions.”
L3Harris will build a 14-vehicle satellite constellation that will include optical communications terminals, infrared mission payloads, Ka-band communications payloads and multiple pointing modes – advanced technology specifically designed to identify and track the fastest missiles known to exist. The program also includes related ground, operations and sustainment support.
“Flowing from our values as an organization prioritizing schedule, then cost, the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer went from solicitation to award in approximately 120 days and continues to demonstrate the Space Development Agency’s ability to acquire capabilities at speed,” said SDA director, Derek Tournear. “We look forward to collaborating with our industry partners to quickly deliver missile warning/missile tracking capabilities as part of the Department of Defense hybrid architecture that will provide critical and timely information to the joint warfighter in the very near future.”
L3Harris developed four prototype satellites under the SDA’s Tracking Layer Tranche 0 award in 2020. The four space vehicles produced under the $193 m firm fixed-price contract will launch in 2023.
“L3Harris is successfully executing SDA’s foundational Tracking Layer Tranche 0 program, which set their strategic way forward for rapidly deploying relevant mission capabilities to our nation’s warfighters,” said Kelle Wendling, President, Space Systems, L3Harris. “This Tranche 1 win demonstrates our ability to nimbly scale from initial demonstration to proliferation with enhanced mission capability, resilience, global coverage, and speed to deployment as threats continue to evolve.”
As part of an ongoing commitment to prime contracts in space-based missions for multiple customers in domains such as missile defense, weather, science, imaging, and radio frequency, L3Harris has prioritized significant investments in spacecraft, payloads, ground software and advanced algorithms to enable innovative end-to-end mission solutions. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Jul 22. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has integrated the Optix platform into its System for Tasking And Real-Time Exploitation (STARE) system. Optix delivers cloud-based, big data processing and analytics to STARE, providing operators with a common operating picture by integrating and displaying wide area surveillance information gathered by GA-ASI Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and commercial space-based and terrestrial data sources.
The new Optix capabilities enable customers to easily task and direct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets in real time, as well as to automatically identify and classify objects of interest using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) techniques. In addition, it rapidly exploits and correlates data collected from RPA, commercial satellites, and other sources into an easily shared common operational picture (COP). Having multi-source correlated data enables automatic detection of anomalous behaviors, such as dark vessels, ship-to-ship transfers, and Economic Exclusive Zone violations.
“STARE improves user experience while decreasing personnel requirements,” said Darren Moe, senior director of Automation, Autonomy, and Artificial Intelligence (A3I) for GA-ASI. “The addition of Optix enables GA to help our customers more easily decipher and apply the vast amounts of sensor data produced by both government and commercial ISR platforms and accelerates the speed of decisions. This will ultimately save lives, secure resources, deter conflicts and give us safer conditions in any domain.”
STARE provides end users with actionable intelligence. When anomalous behaviors are detected from the AI/ML models, alerts will now be generated for the end user to evaluate; these alerts include spatio-temporal location, details of the anomaly, and data sources used by the detection. By automating the detections at scale, STARE decreases the number of people required to monitor and decipher all of the various feeds, while increasing the accuracy and delivery of critical intelligence to decision-makers.
Optix was developed by General Atomics’ Commonwealth Computer Research, Inc. (CCRi), a company GA acquired in 2021. It has been deployed in production environments globally, for both commercial and government related use cases. To learn more, check GA-CCRi’s website and https://optix.earth/
18 Jul 22. Space Development Agency Makes Awards for 28 Satellites to Build Tranche 1 Tracking Layer. National Defense Space Architecture Tracking Layer Accelerated. The Space Development Agency (SDA) today announced the award of two prototype agreements with a total potential value over $1.3 bn for the establishment of the Tranche 1 (T1) Tracking Layer, providing the initial missile warning/missile tracking warfighting capability of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA). These satellites will begin to launch in April 2025.
The agreements are awarded to teams led by L3Harris Technologies, Inc. of Melbourne, Fla. and Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems of Redondo Beach, Calif. to each build a space segment consisting of two planes with seven space vehicles per plane – 14 satellites from each performer for a total of 28 satellites in four planes – to collect infrared data and provide network communications. Each agreement includes a launch services segment for launch preparation, and a ground segment for operations and sustainment.
These prototypes will provide global and persistent indications, detection, warning, tracking, and identification of conventional and advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems.
“The T1 Tracking Layer effort is a critical step toward building the National Defense Space Architecture,” said Derek Tournear, SDA director. “SDA is confident that selection of the L3 Harris and Northrop Grumman teams provides the best overall solution to accelerate delivery of a low-Earth orbit constellation with wide-field-of-view infrared sensors for a global missile warning and missile tracking capability in Tranche 1, on schedule. I’m pleased to see our industry partners building the marketplace necessary to quickly deliver new space capabilities to the warfighter.”
The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer will build upon the Tranche 0 Tracking Layer capabilities with targeted technology enhancements, expanded coverage, increased integration, established calibration processes, and greater production efficiencies. The Tracking Layer is focused on developing a global constellation of infrared missile warning and missile tracking satellites that integrate with the Transport Layer’s low-latency meshed communication network, enabling conventional and advanced missile tracking from proliferated low-Earth orbit.
The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellites will be flown out of SDA’s Operations and Integration Centers at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. and Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
In fiscal year 2022 Congress provided SDA $550 m in additional funding to accelerate deployment of the Tracking Layer, with specific direction to demonstrate a space-based missile warning, tracking, and targeting capability in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The vision for the NDSA includes fielding a system that provides a resilient global capability to all combatant commands as rapidly and affordably as possible.
SDA published the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer solicitation on March 17, two days after the President signed the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill into law. Leveraging Other Transaction Authority, SDA completed a competitive source selection and finalized the agreements within four months of the published solicitation.
“The speed with which SDA pursued this effort is commendable, given the severity of the hypersonic missile threat,” said Christopher E. Kubasik, L3Harris Chair and Chief Executive Officer. “This prime contract is a testament to our growing impact in the space community, and affirms our strategy of being a Trusted Disruptor is gaining traction.”
“Northrop Grumman brings decades of proven experience in missile detection, identification, tracking and communication systems,” said Robert Fleming, Northrop’s Vice President and General Manager of the Strategic Space Systems Division. “We look forward to working with the Space Development Agency and our industry partners on the nation’s most pressing challenges in missile defense.”
L3 Harris is awarded a prototype agreement with a potential value of approximately $700m and Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems’ award has a potential value of approximately $617 m. The proposal was received and evaluated under Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-02. The Space Development Agency of Washington, DC is the contracting activity (HQ08502290003).
About the Space Development Agency. Recognized as DOD’s constructive disruptor for space acquisition, SDA will accelerate delivery of needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding, and operation of the National Defense Space Architecture. For more information on SDA, contact or visit https://www.sda.mil. (Source: US DoD)
18 Jul 22. Countdown to launch: British-built satellite completes line-up for first launch from Spaceport Cornwall. A research satellite from RHEA Group, built by Open Cosmos, completes the line-up of satellites set to launch from Spaceport Cornwall this year.
- Named ‘DOVER’, RHEA Group’s first satellite will fly into space on Virgin Orbit’s maiden UK launch, sharing a ride with five additional satellite missions, including the first ever satellite to be built in Wales.
- Today’s announcement confirms the UK is on track to become the first country in Europe to launch satellites into space from home soil this year, a key ambition of the Government’s National Space Strategy.
A new research satellite from international engineering firm Rhea Group, built in Oxfordshire by space company Open Cosmos, will be launched from the UK later this year.
Virgin Orbit will launch the ‘DOVER’ pathfinder satellite from Spaceport Cornwall. The satellite will transmit an innovative new signal, specially designed by engineers at RHEA, to provide data from space that can be used on the ground to obtain a position or an accurate time. It will broadcast these new signals so that their performance can be tested as part of the research project.
This new satellite completes the line-up for the UK’s first launch, which also includes satellites from organisations such as Space Forge, the Satellite Applications Catapult and Horizon Technologies, as well as the Prometheus-2 research demonstration satellites. Prometheus-2 was co-funded and designed with Airbus Defence and Space and assembled by In-Space Missions, as part of a collaboration between the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and international partners, including the US National Reconnaissance Office.
The UK is poised to become the first country in Europe to launch satellites into orbit this year from home soil, a key ambition of the UK Government’s National Space Strategy. Spaceport Cornwall is at the heart of a growing aerospace and space cluster and will create 150 jobs in the local area.
The development of a commercial launch capability will give the UK access to the growing global launch market, delivering a further boost to the thriving space and satellite sector, which is already home to more than 47,000 jobs across the country and supports bns of pounds of wider economic activity.
Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “The countdown is on to the first satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall, with a full complement of satellites confirmed by Virgin Orbit for what promises to be a landmark moment for our thriving space sector. It’s fantastic that RHEA Group’s DOVER satellite is joining the launch, which showcases both our domestic satellite manufacturing expertise and the international interest in the UK as a launch destination. The ability to launch satellites from UK soil will support our work to catalyse investment into the space sector, deliver new capabilities and champion the incredible role of space to benefit life on Earth.”
The ‘DOVER’ pathfinder satellite
RHEA Group’s Dover satellite, the company’s first, was co-funded by the UK Space Agency’s investment in the European Space Agency’s Navigation Innovation and Support Programme (NAVISP). It’s named after the Dover Strait, where the English Channel is narrowest and shipping lanes are busiest, as this is a key location for testing new techniques and technologies for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT).
The satellite is a strong example of UK expertise in PNT technology, which underpins vast swathes of economic activity, as well as small satellite manufacturing, with Open Cosmos building the satellite at the Harwell Space Cluster, Oxfordshire.
Emma Jones, RHEA’s UK Business Director, said: “This is a momentous event for RHEA. This year we are celebrating our 30th anniversary and it is a great milestone to launch our first ever satellite in the same year. The UK is in the very desirable position of establishing a number of spaceports, and it is thrilling to have a RHEA satellite on board the first launch to take off from UK soil.”
Florian Deconinck, Vice President of Institutional Partnerships & Future Missions at Open Cosmos, said: “DOVER is a great example of Open Cosmos’ ability to design, manufacture, launch and operate satellites in a responsive manner. The timescales for this future mission are impressively aggressive: 8 months from the moment of first contact with RHEA to getting an operating satellite in orbit. This is the result of a close partnership between Open Cosmos and RHEA, the very reactive support from UK Space Agency and ESA-NAVISP teams, and the possibility of delivering all the phases from a single location, the UK.”
During the launch mission, a Virgin Orbit 747 will take off from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall, carrying a rocket beneath its wing. The plane will fly out over the ocean before blasting the rocket into space, delivering satellites into orbit around the Earth. In the cockpit will be Squadron Leader Mathew ‘Stanny’ Stannard, an RAF Test Pilot serving on industrial placement as one of Virgin Orbit’s pilots.
This will be the first satellite launch from UK soil and Virgin Orbit’s first mission outside the US. It follows the successful ‘Straight Up’ mission, that delivered seven satellites into space from Mojave in California on Saturday 2nd July.
Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, said: “We’re very pleased to have been selected by RHEA Group to launch its first satellite. The DOVER satellite, which was built in the UK, funded by the European Space Agency, and now will be launched from Cornwall, is a great example of the power that comes with the infusion of space collaboration taking place across the globe. The work RHEA will do with their DOVER satellite will help to assure reliable navigation, which touches all of us and can be vital for everything from environmentally-efficient shipping to national security.”
Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “We’re thrilled to have ‘DOVER’ complete the line-up of satellites onboard Virgin Orbit’s first launch from Cornwall. Each payload highlights the innovation happening within the small satellite industry, and how it can benefit life on earth, while showcasing the growing collaboration between UK Space and international partners.”
This is another great moment in the countdown to launch from Cornwall.
UK spaceflight programme
With funding first announced at the Farnborough International Airshow in 2018, the UK Space Agency is supporting the development of commercial and sustainable satellite launch operations across the UK, working with a range of partners including Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit, Space Hub Sutherland and Orbex, and SaxaVord Spaceport, Lockheed Martin and ABL Space Systems.
The space sector has shown remarkable resilience in the face of global challenges such as the pandemic, with more than 1,700 satellites launched worldwide in 2021 alone. These provide vital technologies used every day by people and businesses, including communications, Earth observation and navigation services.
The UK has world-leading expertise in satellite design, manufacturing, data and applications but, until now, has not been able to launch them from home soil. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
15 Jul 22. Power beamed from space, rocket cargo: UK military looking at ‘game-changing’ space tech. Listing a series of theoretical space capabilities, the Ministry of Defence’s Director for Space, Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth, said, “Who would not be excited by this?”
The UK military could be on the brink of “unexpected, game-changing, spin-off technologies” in space, according to the Ministry of Defence’s Director for Space, Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth — including everything from beaming solar power back to earth to mining asteroids for rare materials.
Speaking July 14 at the Global Air and Space Chiefs’ Conference in London Smyth described how technological advancement in the space domain was moving at “breakneck pace,” offering up “enormous opportunities” to armed forces. But, warned, the MoD needs to be thinking now about its role as new capabilities in space come online in the coming years, or risk being left to scramble after the fact.
This included the sector’s ability to operationalize new capability at “eye-watering speeds,” he claimed.
“We are starting to witness agile acquisition in near real time, the perfect example being from the ongoing Ukraine crisis. Who’d have thought a single tweet from the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister asking Elon Musk for support from Space X’s Starlink [Low Earth Orbit satellite] capability would result in a positive reply in just a few hours and battle-winning MDI [multi-domain integration] capability delivered in days,” he said.
Additional opportunities which appear likely to progress over the next two decades include development of a lunar habitat and lunar gateway, Smyth continued.
“For a start, we are going to return to the Moon in just a few years and this time we are going to stay in a permanent lunar habitat, supported by a new lunar gateway. Just this topic alone with increase exponentially the need for more astronauts. What is Defence’s ambition to be part of this growth?” he asked.
Furthermore, Smyth highlighted how asteroid mining could also be mastered in the next couple of decades, allowing for the retrieval of high-worth minerals. He noted that could result in “a massive boom of prosperity for those who can exploit it, so what is our role in the ‘protect and defend’ of such a capability?”
Smyth also described how space-based solar power, beaming energy back to Earth using laser technology, could also benefit armed forces with China planning to build the first such system by 2028. “They’re two years ahead of schedule in the program,” he warned.
Another major example of spin-off technology from space innovation, Smyth urged, is the US Department of Defense’s Rocket Cargo program — a spin-off from SpaceX’s Starship to Mars efforts, where the proposal is to dramatically transform point-to-point logistics on Earth by utilizing repurposed Starship rockets.
Those rockets have a cargo bay the size of a C-17, travel at Mach 20, and don’t require any prepared operating surfaces, Smyth enthused, suggesting that such a system could deliver a 120-ton payload anywhere in the world in less than 50 minutes.
“Think what this would mean with regards to expeditionary operations and global response, and just how small this will make our world,” Smyth said before stating that the first trial of rocket-propelled cargo is scheduled to take place in 2025.
“Is there an opportunity here for Defence? Is the rocket cargo concept our generation after next C-17? And if yes, what does this mean for our broader approach to capability development and delivery?
“And importantly, this is not just about [those] very alluring rockets, about the equipments, but to adapt to such radical technological advancement, we need to think about the changes required to our training, our policy and doctrine, our infrastructure requirements, spaceports not airports. Rockets, satellites and astronauts — who would not be excited by this?
“But as ever, certainly from my perspective, if we were to honestly be serious about truly getting up to technology at the edge, specifically to enable [Multi-Domain Integration], we must remember that it is not just about the alluring shiny equipment. In reality, the other defense lines of development — training, infrastructure, doctrine, etc — are of equal, if not more importance if we are to properly absorb technological innovation,” he concluded. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
18 Jul 22. Easy Rack Chassis Integration with Passive RF & Optical Cards.
ViaLite’s new range of Passive RF and Optical Cards offer expanded capabilities for the 3U rack chassis and ODE-B3U enclosures, providing a convenient option whereby carrier cards can be integrated with rack-mounted applications internally, rather than secured to a chassis externally.
The cards can be easily added to an existing system. Additionally, as they’re predominately designed for Satcom applications, they offer the advantage of connections accessible from the rear panel. These Passive RF and Optical Cards also allow for connectivity with Monitoring & Control (M&C) modules, enabling users to view their statuses in their ViaLite RF over fiber software.
Along with Satcom, the cards are suitable for defense, GPS/GNSS, disaster recovery, public utilities and marine applications.
The cards are available in various configurations, including:
5 MHz to 1 GHz Splitter
Dual 10 MHz / L-Band Diplexer.
In addition to the range of carrier cards, ViaLite has also released a Media Converter Card. This rack chassis card is an unmanaged switch, offering the ability to connect to two devices remotely via fiber, extending the network to the remote location. It comes with one optical port and two RJ45 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet connections.
ViaLite’s Product Manager, Edward Levack said, “It has been great to update the range of accessories with carrier cards and the updated Media Converter Card. The Passive RF and Optical Cards now offer easy integration of accessories into the chassis. No more need to have extra equipment dangling from the back of the rack.”
18 Jul 22. NI (NASDAQ: NATI) NI, which for decades has helped the aerospace and defense industry optimize its test strategies to meet increasingly complex requirements, is demonstrating a Satellite Link Emulator (SLE) at the Farnborough Air Show 2022. This novel SLE is intended to validate next-generation satellite communication links with a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) approach that delivers maximum test fidelity and flexibility, emulating real-world system behavior and channel effects in a laboratory setting. The Ansys System Tool Kit (STK) is integrated with NI PXI hardware and LabVIEW FPGA, enabling communication links between satellite and ground stations to be validated against accurate and realistic channel parameters in real-time.
The rapid commercialization of Low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO) has led to the introduction of modern satellite-based applications like non-terrestrial networks (NTN) and high-resolution remote sensing and imagery. The satellite constellations, ground equipment, and supporting launch vehicles designed to support these new services create new challenges in design, system validation, and production test. NI’s Satellite Link Emulation Demonstrator helps engineers to effectively address these challenges.
“Time to market and risk mitigation are critical for designing and validating high-complexity systems like satellite constellations,” said Luke Schreier, SVP & GM, Aerospace and Defense Business Unit at NI. “Industry experts need to work together to make our mutual customers successful, and that’s exactly what NI and Ansys are demonstrating with this satellite link emulation capability. Combining high-fidelity simulation with high-performance, real-time instrumentation yields better designs, faster cycles, and ultimately greater capability.”
“Ansys STK is the world-leading software for digital mission engineering,” said Shashank Narayan, senior director, R&D at Ansys. “It helps model sophisticated satellite missions that include air and ground platforms and their RF communications payloads. STK’s approach to digital mission engineering and NI’s Satellite Link Emulation capabilities ensure that critical mission requirements are thoroughly designed, validated, and tested early and throughout the life cycle, helping to ensure mission success. RF payload modeling in STK can also include high fidelity electromagnetic physics by linking to Ansys HFSS antenna system models, which can incorporate host platform interaction effects and RF co-site interference assessment.”
NI’s demonstrator consists of COTS modular hardware and flexible software tools to address RF signal fidelity, system-level validation, and digital system test requirements. The system is built on the PXI modular test platform, which can be customized to meet specific I/O requirements. In the demo, the NI Vector Signal Transceiver (VST) RF instrument transmits and receives TT&C and SATCOM data link signals, while performing key signal fidelity measurements such as modulation accuracy, transmit power, and more. The VST is augmented with a FlexRIO FPGA co-processor that hosts channel models and other DSP IP, processing 1 GHz of RF bandwidth in real time. With the addition of a co-processor, the VST is transformed into an RF channel emulator—unlocking the ability to do full system-level validation.
15 Jul 22. Putin orders shake-up at Russia’s space agency. President Vladimir Putin ordered a shake-up of Russia’s space agency on Friday, appointing Yuri Borisov, a former deputy prime minister and deputy defence minister, to replace Dmitry Rogozin as its head.
The change was announced shortly before Roscosmos said it had signed a landmark deal with NASA regarding integrated flights and crews on the International Space Station (ISS) – a rare instance of cooperation between Russia and the United States at a time of acute tension over the war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin did not comment on the reasons for the change.
Rogozin had taken a confrontational stance since Roscosmos was hit with sanctions for its role in Russia’s defence industry after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.
He had threatened to pull out of the ISS, saying cooperation with the West was “impossible,” and pointedly bragged about Russia’s nuclear potential.
In a video posted on its Telegram channel, Roscosmos hailed the progress made at the space agency under Rogozin, who was appointed in 2018. Those achievements included “a record 86 successful launches in a row, construction of the Russian segment of the ISS…and flight tests for a powerful inter-continental ballistic missile,” Roscosmos said.
Rogozin has touted the capability of the new Sarmat missile to launch a nuclear strike on the United States, and said it would be operational by the autumn following successful tests earlier this year.
Rogozin appeared to revel in trolling the West, including by waging Twitter spats with billionaire Elon Musk, speaking publicly about Russia’s nuclear missile capability and publishing the coordinates and satellite images of Western defence sites with the implication they could be targeted. There was no official comment on Rogozin’s next appointment, but Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying he would get a new post. Borisov, 65, who takes over the helm, has a military background, having been involved with the defence industry since the late 1990s. As deputy premier, he oversaw military and space affairs including the production of weapons and equipment. (Source: Reuters)
10 Jul 22. The initial contracts for the DIU’s HSA program awarded to four companies. The Defense Innovation Unit‘s (DIU’s) Hybrid Space Architecture (HSA) program seeks to provide global, ubiquitous and secure internet connectivity throughout the space domain for commercial, civil and military users, including international allies and partners.
DIU is collaborating with the United States Space Force (USSF) Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate on this prototype effort.
The HSA aims to demonstrate a network architecture that leverages both commercial and government space assets across diverse orbits to provide secure, assured, and low-latency data communications anywhere on and off Earth. To do this, DIU awarded Other Transaction (OT) contracts to companies Aalyria, Anduril, Atlas, and Enveil. Additional awards from the same solicitation are anticipated.
Hybrid space communications is the next great leap forward, representing the convergence of the information age and the space age. Cloud providers are already partnering with teleports—or centers that connect ground-satellite communications—to establish cloud capability in orbiting vessels in space. To fully leverage the capabilities of these networks the Department of Defense (DoD) needs to ensure network interoperability and homogeneity as well as compatibility with existing DoD assets.
A fully networked battlespace has been the dream of commanders for decades, but is now finally within reach. While being a critical enabler of concepts, such as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and Battlefield Management Command, Control, and Communication (BMC3), the vast benefits to warfighters vary from on-demand or near-real-time satellite imagery and theater-wide tracking to reliable broadband internet at remote forward operating bases for improved morale and family welfare.
The HSA consists of four identified domains:
A robust, secure software defined network (SDN) will be necessary to integrate diverse telecom systems across Low Earth Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit, Geostationary Orbit, and cislunar space. Currently, there is limited communication between these telecom systems; this SDN will have to maintain careful network orchestration to predict link availability, manage radio frequency and optical beam pointing, and mitigate traffic congestion.
Multi-source data fusion
There is already a vast array of sensors available via space assets and the terrestrial internet. Common data standards and interfaces will be necessary to fuse this data for efficient storage and rapid search. In addition, to best leverage the array of sensors while minimizing operator training costs, common command and control interfaces to manage data collection will be necessary.
The ubiquitous availability of proliferated sensor data opens up boundless new opportunities for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, across commercial, government, and military uses. The new paradigm of cloud computing allows raw data to be processed into actionable intelligence anywhere there is available compute capacity, from large server farms to orbiting (or lunar) edge compute hardware, to distributed processing across a network of small devices.
Variable trust protocol
Distributed communications provides network resilience because the system can accommodate individually lost links and nodes. We must ensure that we do not introduce vulnerabilities through the increased access points. Industry gold standards must be observed, including link and end-to-end quantum-resistant encryption, dependable cryptographic key distribution, zero-trust continuous authentication, and data integrity ledgers. Due to the broad variety of participating networks, each link and each node will be dynamically assigned a trust score based on observed behavior within the architecture. The traffic can then be routed over preferred links based on sensitivity and timeliness.
On-orbit demonstrations are planned within 24 months.
“It’s time for the internet to move off-planet,” said Dr. Rogan Shimmin, DIU program manager for HSA. “Just as we couldn’t imagine all the uses of the internet in the early days of ARPANET, the scope of the HSA is immense and revolutionary. The initial goals are on-demand collection and exploitation of overhead imagery and beyond line-of-sight tactical situational awareness. Hosting Internet-of-Things sensors and edge processing on every satellite further enables breakthrough civil applications, including comprehensive space domain awareness and high-fidelity mapping of the space radiation environment.” (Source: Satnews)
13 Jul 22. Rocket Lab launches the 1st of two Responsive Space Missions for NRO. Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”) has successfully launched the first of two responsive space missions for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Following lift-off of NROL-162 (“Wise One Looks Ahead”) from Pad A at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 at 06:30, UTC, July 13, 2022, Electron successfully delivered the NRO’s national security payload to space. In partnership with the Australian Department of Defence, NROL-162 will provide critical information to the United States Government’s agencies and allies and national security decision makers monitoring and responding to world events and humanitarian issues.
“Wise One Looks Ahead” is the first of a pair of back-to-back responsive space missions commissioned by the NRO for dedicated launch on Electron. NROL-199 (“Antipodean Adventure”), the follow-up mission to NROL-162, is scheduled to launch in just nine days’ time from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on July 22, 2022.
With multiple launch pads, dedicated range and mission control centres, and several Electron rockets ready to fly, Rocket Lab is delivering responsive space capability to the national security community.
NROL-162 and NROL-199 are the latest pair of missions awarded by the NRO under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract. Rocket Lab previously successfully delivered a pair of national security missions to space for the NRO on Electron in January and June 2020.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “The successful deployment of NROL-162 to orbit is another fantastic achievement by the Rocket Lab team, but we’re not resting on our laurels. No other small launch provider has ever before prepared a dedicated launch for a small national security payload in such a rapid turnround, and our sights are set on delivering the next NRO mission to space in record-time.”
Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) has announced the company’s next two launches will be responsive space missions for the United States Government’s National Reconnaissance Office.
Launching from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on two Electron rockets, Rocket Lab is scheduled to deploy satellites to space for the NRO within only 10 days of each other. NROL-162 (“Wise One Looks Ahead”) will launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1’s Pad A no earlier than July 12th, with NROL-199 (“Antipodean Adventure”) scheduled to launch from Pad B no earlier than July 22.
The NROL-162 and NROL-199 missions will carry national security payloads designed, built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office in partnership with the Australian Department of Defence as part of a broad range of cooperative satellite activities with Australia. The satellites will support the NRO to provide critical information to government agencies and decision makers monitoring international issues.
These twin missions will be a demonstration of responsive launch under NRO’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract for launching smallsats through a streamlined, commercial approach, and are the third and fourth missions contracted to Rocket Lab by the NRO under the contract. NROL-151 (RASR-1) was successfully deployed to space on a dedicated Electron launch in early 2020, followed by RASR-2 on another Electron launch in June of 2020.
Rocket Lab CEO and founder, Peter Beck, said, “Space plays such a critical role in providing immediate insights and informing time-sensitive decisions, so a responsive, modern approach accessing orbit is crucial. This is what we’ve established with Electron and multiple launch sites – reliable rockets and multiple pads at the ready to support the national security community’s responsive space needs. Our quick turnaround for these two national security missions will be just the latest demonstration of our responsive space capability, and we’re honored to be a trusted mission partner to the NRO once again for these important RASR missions.”
“Wise One Looks Ahead” launch details:
Launch Window Opens: July 12, UTC
Launch vehicle: Electron
Customer: National Reconnaissance Office
Launch site: Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, Pad A
Mission type: Dedicated Payload: NROL-162
“Antipodean Adventure” launch details:
Launch Window Opens: July 22, UTC
Launch vehicle: Electron
Customer: National Reconnaissance Office
Launch site: Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, Pad B
Mission type: Dedicated Payload: NROL-199
14 Jul 22. Capella Space satellite imagery now available on the Amazon Web Services cloud. Capella Space has expanded their Open Data Program, making a selection of the firm’s SAR (synthetic aperture radar) imagery freely and openly accessible through the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Open Data Sponsorship Program.
Capella’s Open Data Program, originally announced in September of 2021, is designed to give researchers, nonprofits, developers, and disaster response organizations direct access to high quality Earth Observation (EO) data from the industry leader in high-performance, commercial SAR intelligence from space.
Working with the AWS Open Data Program will encourage innovation and discovery of the next game-changing applications of SAR. This expansion enables any individual to have free access to a growing selection of open data imagery from Capella on AWS, furthering its mission to make EO an essential tool for problem solving.
Given the current economic and geopolitical environment, it’s clear that EO monitoring is vital to the well-being of the entire planet. Capella’s SAR technology can penetrate all weather conditions – clouds, fog, smoke, rain – and capture clear imagery 24-7, day and night. From providing timely data around the Russia-Ukraine conflict, to detecting glacier changes in the Karakoram and uncovering storm damage in Scottish forests; Capella provides accurate and timely data to inform mission-critical decisions.
The Capella Open Data program offers a wide range of imagery from every continent, with examples from agriculture and aquaculture, energy and natural resources, infrastructure, maritime, environmental, as well as humanitarian and natural disaster use cases.
Capella is also announcing further evolution of its Open Data Program by introducing a tiered system, with three levels of access: Open Data, Data Cooperative and Data Grant.
- Open Data: In collaboration with AWS, this tier gives any interested individual free access to a growing selection of Capella’s data through the Registry of Open Data on AWS.
- Data Cooperative: The cooperative gives qualified parties access to the Capella Console to view and download its open data image gallery directly along with archive data for their area of interest. Users must apply for this cooperative and meet Capella’s criteria for acceptance into the program based upon panel review.
- Data Grant: Under this program, interested users can submit a formal research proposal for expanded access to the Capella Console. If selected by a panel, these users will be provided tasking capabilities within the Capella Console to secure imagery of their particular area(s) of interest.
Anyone who wishes to explore Capella’s open data on AWS can do so without needing to pay to store their own copies of the dataset, and do not need to purchase storage to start a project using the dataset. Through its Open Data Sponsorship Program, AWS is covering the costs of the storage and transfer of the data, so that it can be accessed and analyzed in the cloud by individuals around the world.
“Our mission to democratize access to timely, high-quality SAR data is accelerated through this work with Amazon, and I couldn’t be more excited,” said Payam Banazadeh, CEO and founder of Capella Space. “By making our data available on AWS, it encourages more people around the world to get acquainted with SAR data and create applications that can improve the world around us.”
Capella Space is an information services company that provides on-demand, industry-leading high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) Earth observation imagery. Through a constellation of small satellites, Capella provides easy access to frequent, timely, and flexible information affecting dozens of industries worldwide. Capella’s high-resolution SAR satellites are matched with unparalleled infrastructure to deliver reliable global insights that sharpen our understanding of the changing world – improving decisions about commerce, conservation, and security on Earth. (Source: Satnews)
10 Jul 22. KONGSBERG sets in motion a feasibility study for a Norwegian national oceanic surveillance satellite constellation. Recently, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KONGSBERG) signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to initiate a feasibility study on building a national satellite infrastructure for ocean surveillance.
In collaboration with the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Norwegian Space Agency (NoSA) will facilitate the development of a constellation of national smallsats for maritime surveillance – Arctic Ocean Surveillance Constellation (AOS) – delivered and operated by Norwegian actors.
The goal is to develop national suitability for space-based maritime surveillance capacity. The first part of the development of AOS will be carried out as a Norwegian industrial project in ESA. The goal of the ESA-project is to develop the Norwegian space industry across the entire value chain.
KONGSBERG has signed a contract with ESA for a feasibility study for AOS. The feasibility study is the first phase in the AOS project and alongside other studies, it will form the basis for an announcement in open competition for the realization of AOS. KONGSBERG will involve the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI) and other Norwegian industrial aerospace actors in the implementation of the feasibility study.
KONGSBERG now takes a leading position in the development of a complete national industrial value chain for space-based infrastructure and services for small satellites and a Norwegian, internationally competitive, space industry.
“The AOS study will build on the collaboration with FFI, Seatex, EIDEL and Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) connected to the realization of the three satellites Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace already have invested in. With an increased number of satellites and with other sensors in addition to the navigation radar detector and AIS, the AOS constellation will further strengthen the monitoring of national interests in the High North,” said Aage Sørensen, Senior System Engineer for Emerging Products in KONGSBERG. (Source: Satnews)
13 Jul 22. ST Engineering iDirect + MEASAT partnership strengthened with network expansion for HTS. ST Engineering iDirect has announced that Malaysian satellite operator, MEASAT, is significantly expanding its iDirect Evolution-based satellite network to deliver a plethora of services to enterprises and communities located in rural and ultra-rural areas across Malaysia.
MEASAT-3d, launched on June 22, 2022, will provide C-, Ku- and Ka-band HTS capacity so that users will be able to enjoy high-speed broadband regardless of their location within Malaysia. The contract was sealed in partnership with Datacom, a regional service integrator and long-term partner of ST Engineering iDirect, that will carry out the upgrade, activation and support of the network.
The Evolution platform already underpins MEASAT’s network which serves thousands of remote sites across Malaysia, making it one of the largest globally deployed networks. This upgrade will now expand delivery of consumer and enterprise broadband services for farms and plantations, community Wi-Fi broadband for rural underserved regions, cellular backhaul to MNOs, government and soon, land and maritime mobility services. The Evolution platform supports MEASAT’s true multi-service offerings.
As MEASAT increases its capabilities and service offerings, the consistent reliability, efficiency and high performance of the Evolution network gives MEASAT the experience and confidence to expand the platform to deliver MEASAT-3d’s HTS services with speeds up to 100 Mbps to the broadest spectrum of users, from home consumer all the way to high-end enterprise. It will mark a tenfold increase in satellite broadband capacity as the use of broadband for education, government, cellular connectivity, land mobility, economic activity and social interaction accelerates. MEASAT benefits significantly from the DVB-S2X efficiencies over the Evolution platform which maximizes operations for various markets through the flexible iQ Modem Series.
“Having operated the Evolution platform for years, we are well-acquainted with its multi-band, multi-service capability, scalability, flexibility and efficiency as well as its ease of management,” said Jeevan Rao, Associate Vice President, Network Engineering & Operations, MEASAT. “The Quality of Service capabilities within the platform allow us to differentiate and manage different Service Level Agreements and services for our customers, no matter how simple or complex their needs may be. With the launch of MEASAT-3d, our next-generation HTS satellite, we want this level of performance to continue. And, with the Evolution platform, we are confident that our network will go from strength to strength as we grow our CONNECTme broadband customer base to connect more users in hard-to-reach areas and promote digital inclusion for all, across multiple markets.”
“Building on our strong, leading partnership with MEASAT, we look forward to their continued successful rollout of services over this latest addition to the MEASAT fleet,” said John Arnold, Regional Vice President, Asia, ST Engineering iDirect. “Enabled by our partner Datacom, this expansion program will significantly expand the network and deployment size on MEASAT-3d. We know how much Quality of Service, ease of operations, scalability and efficiency means to MEASAT and we are confident that we can exceed their expectations and deliver an efficient, flexible solution that addresses such a wide range of markets and users.”
“Datacom is delighted that our long-term partner, ST Engineering iDirect, has its top tier technology integrated into MEASAT-3d, the next generation satellite in MEASAT’s fleet at the 91.5°E hotslot,” said Boris Ng, Chief Executive Officer, Datacom System International. “Our mission is to provide the best-in-class HTS gateways with baseband solutions for MEASAT, including services and support to ensure a highly resilient network is deployed.”
ST Engineering iDirect, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, is a global leader in satellite communications (satcom) providing technology and solutions that enable its customers to expand their business, differentiate their services and optimize their satcom networks. With over 35 years of innovation focused on solving satellite’s most critical economic and technology challenges we are committed to shaping the future of how the world connects. The product portfolio, branded under the names iDirect and Newtec, represents the highest standards in performance, efficiency, and reliability, making it possible for its customers to deliver the best satcom connectivity experience anywhere in the world. ST Engineering iDirect is the world’s largest TDMA enterprise VSAT manufacturer and is the leader in key industries including broadcast, mobility and military/government. In 2007, iDirect Government was formed to better serve the U.S. government and defense communities. For more information on our platforms please visit www.idirect.net.(Source: Satnews)
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