Sponsored By Viasat
16 Sep 22. Viasat & Inmarsat Receive UK Government Approval for Proposed Combination Under National Security & Investment Act. UK government determines transaction poses no risk to UK’s national security.
Viasat Inc., (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, and Inmarsat, a leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, today announced the receipt of approval of the proposed combination of their businesses by the UK Government under the National Security & Investment Act.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that the transaction does not pose a risk to the UK’s national security.
In March 2022, the companies committed to economic undertakings with BEIS, which underlined their pledge to strengthen and advance the UK’s National Space Strategy. The economic undertakings include an expansion in the number of highly skilled jobs in key areas and a 30% increase in overall research and development spending in the UK.
Mark Dankberg, Executive Chairman and CEO of Viasat, said: “The combination of Viasat and Inmarsat creates a leading global communications innovator with enhanced scale and scope to affordably, securely and reliably connect the world. The UK Government’s clearance of Viasat’s proposed acquisition of Inmarsat under the National Security and Investment Act is another important step forward on the road to closing the deal, and we would like to thank the UK Government for their close collaboration throughout the process.
“Viasat has been a trusted partner of the UK’s defence and national security communities for more than a decade, including in the provision of its market-leading encryption products. The combined company, whose global international business headquarters will be situated in the UK, will build upon the strong UK relationships that Viasat and Inmarsat already enjoy and allow us to deepen our contribution to the UK’s National Space Strategy.”
Rajeev Suri, Inmarsat CEO, added: “Inmarsat is proud of our decades of close work with the UK government. Today’s approval brings us closer to delivering the new jobs and investment to the UK that have been committed by both Inmarsat and Viasat. Together, we will be well-positioned to compete in a robust market that has both well-funded new entrants and other industry players in the process of consolidating.”
This press release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to the safe harbors created under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements include statements that refer to the undertakings with the UK Government’s Department for BEIS as part of the proposed combination of Viasat and Inmarsat, and the features and benefits of such combination. Readers are cautioned that actual results could differ materially and adversely from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include: risks and uncertainties related to the transaction, including the failure to obtain, or delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals or clearances; the risk that any such approval may result in the imposition of conditions that could adversely affect Viasat, the combined company or the expected benefits of the transaction; the failure to satisfy any of the closing conditions to the transaction on a timely basis or at all; any adverse impact on the business of Viasat or Inmarsat as a result of uncertainty surrounding the transaction; the nature, cost and outcome of any legal proceedings related to the transaction; the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstances that could give rise to the termination of the definitive agreement for the transaction, including in circumstances requiring Viasat to pay a termination fee; the risk that Viasat’s stock price may decline significantly if the transaction is not consummated; the failure to obtain the necessary debt financing arrangements set forth in the commitment letters received in connection with the transaction; risks that the transaction disrupts current plans and operations or diverts management’s attention from its ongoing business; the effect of the announcement of the transaction on the ability of Viasat to retain and hire key personnel and maintain relationships with its customers, suppliers and others with whom it does business; the ability of Viasat to successfully integrate Inmarsat operations, technologies and employees; the ability to realize anticipated benefits and synergies of the transaction, including the expectation of enhancements to Viasat’s products and services, greater revenue or growth opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings; the ability to ensure continued performance and market growth of the combined company’s business; changes in the global business environment and economic conditions; the availability and cost of credit; risks associated with the construction, launch and operation of satellites, including the effect of any anomaly, operational failure or degradation in satellite performance; Viasat’s or the combined company’s ability to successfully develop, introduce and sell new technologies, products and services; changes in relationships with key customers, suppliers, distributors, resellers and others as a result of the transaction or otherwise; Viasat’s and Inmarsat’s reliance on a limited number of third parties to manufacture and supply their respective products; the risk of litigation or regulatory actions to Viasat and/or Inmarsat; inability to retain key personnel; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Viasat’s or Inmarsat’s business, suppliers, consumers, customers, and employees or the overall economy; Viasat’s and the combined company’s level of indebtedness and ability to comply with applicable debt covenants; and other factors affecting the communications industry generally. In addition, please refer to the risk factors contained in Viasat’s SEC filings available at www.sec.gov, including Viasat’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and the definitive proxy statement filed in connection with the transaction, and such reports that are subsequently filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. Viasat undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements for any reason.
Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. For over 35 years, Viasat has helped shape how consumers, businesses, governments and militaries around the world communicate. Today, the Company is developing the ultimate global communications network to power high-quality, secure, affordable, fast connections to impact people’s lives anywhere they are—on the ground, in the air or at sea. To learn more about Viasat, visit: www.viasat.com, go to Viasat’s Corporate Blog, or follow the Company on social media at: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube.
Inmarsat delivers world leading, innovative, advanced and exceptionally reliable global, mobile communications across the world – in the air, at sea and on land – that are enabling a new generation of commercial, government and mission-critical services. Inmarsat is powering the digitalisation of the maritime industry, making operations more efficient and safer than ever before. It is driving a new era of inflight passenger services for aviation, while ensuring that aircraft can fly with maximum efficiency and safety. Furthermore, Inmarsat is enabling the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and enabling the next wave of world-changing technologies that will underpin the connected society and help build a sustainable future. And now Inmarsat is developing the first-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional communications network of the future, ORCHESTRA. In November 2021, Inmarsat and Viasat announced the planned combination of the two companies, to create a new leader in global communications. The deal is scheduled to close in the second half of 2022.
15 Sep 22. PLD Space completes a successful rocket full mission test for the first time in Europe.
- During the test, the rocket ‘thinks’ it’s on its way to Space
- The goal has been to ensure that all subsystems of its suborbital space vehicle, MIURA 1, work correctly or, if not, to adjust the parameters for the first flight unit
- After completing this test campaign, MIURA 1 is ready for its maiden launch, scheduled for the end of 2022 from El Arenosillo (Huelva, Spain)
PLD Space, the Spanish company that leads the space launch business for small satellites in Europe, has successfully completed the first qualification campaign of its suborbital vehicle, MIURA 1. The company is once again making history by performing for the first time in Europe a full mission test of an integrated microlauncher. After undergoing all the tests at its technical facilities in Teruel (Spain), the rocket is ready for its first launch, scheduled for the end of 2022 from El Arenosillo (Huelva, Spain).
This qualification campaign consists of a series of tests in order to ensure that all of the rocket’s subsystems are working properly. Finally, a complete combined test is performed to verify that the vehicle is ready for flight.
Although PLD Space had already tested and validated each of the subsystems that configure the launch vehicle, it had not yet tested all of them integrated. This has been a definitive test for further progress on the planned MIURA 1 program.
Specifically, this campaign consisted of several wet tests and three hot tests: 5, 20 and 110 (reduced from 122 to 110 to ensure safe engine shutdown, allowing for fuel margin on board). The last one, known as full mission test, is key to the future of the vehicle because it simulates all the conditions of a real launch, only without actually flying. “We make the rocket truly think it’s on its way to space,” says PLD Space Co-founder, CEO and Launch Director Raúl Torres.
This 110-second test corresponds to the time of the ignition in an actual launch. Its main purpose is to check the correct operation of all subsystems during a simulated flight. With the information obtained in the different tests, the PLD Space team has been able to verify that each part of the rocket is working as planned or, if not, to take advantage of this data to optimize all the parameters of the first flight unit.
The MIURA 1 qualification campaign has been successful because no critical subsystem has failed. “We have collected a list of small modifications that require programmatic management, such as changing a component or updating some design that we need to improve; but nothing critical,” Torres assures. “With each test, we manage to evolve and improve the flight rocket.”
For example, this is the kind of lesson learned after aborting just six seconds into the test that was about to take place on 19th July. The team detected an anomaly in the pressurization of the oxygen tank and, although everything was ready for ignition, opted to cancel the test manually. During the analysis performed, PLD Space had the opportunity to obtain new information from the software and the pad that has already been applied both in the last test and in the flight unit that will be launched at the end of the year.
Committed and reliable team
The positive outcome of these tests is the result of PLD Space’s many years of hard work. Both the engineering team, which has designed how to get to this point, and the operations team, which is responsible for manufacturing and integrating the rocket, have been essential to reach this milestone. “In Teruel there are about 15 of us carrying out the test, but we’re standing up for the more than 115 people who make up PLD Space. This milestone is everyone’s milestone,” Torres acknowledges.
At the business level, the success of this qualification campaign also represents a very important value milestone for the company. “We are achieving very high levels of quality and certainty. Every time the team plans a complex operation, it executes it on time and on budget. This is something our customers will value in the future. If it had been a flight operation, the rocket would have taken off on time without causing delays,” says Co-founder and Business Development Director Raúl Verdú.
The first in Spain and Europe
This test campaign is not only a milestone for PLD Space, but also for Spain and Europe. On the one hand, it is the first time that a full mission test of an integrated launcher has been carried out. “We are the first private company in the history of Europe to have achieved this,” highlights PLD Space Executive President Ezequiel Sánchez.
On the other hand, this success of a Spanish player helps to place Europe in a “position of strength” in the global space business. “We have demonstrated that PLD Space is the most promising company to improve European competitiveness in the microlaunchers race to space” Sánchez explains. “This fact makes our project strategic not only for Spain but with a European perspective and a reference to show the profitability of reinforcing investment in new players.”
Next steps for MIURA 1 and MIURA 5
PLD Space’s progress follows the planned technical schedule. The launch team will now analyze all the data obtained from the qualification campaign and check what changes need to be incorporated into the MIURA 1 flight unit.
Simultaneously, the operations team has already started the manufacturing of the launch unit, which will fly from El Arenosillo (Huelva) at the end of 2022. This vehicle, which will incorporate the lessons learned during the fire tests, will be completed in October. After undergoing some final tests at the company’s own test bench at Teruel Airport, it will be sent to Huelva for its maiden flight.
At the same time, PLD Space’s engineering team is already working on the final design of its orbital vehicle, MIURA 5, taking advantage of the information gathered in this MIURA 1 test campaign. The objective is to launch the first unit in mid-2024 from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
About PLD Space
PLD Space is a pioneering Spanish company in the aerospace sector and a reference within Europe in the development of reusable rockets, with a recognized prestige in the sector and a solid project that has become a reality through its launch vehicles: the MIURA 1 suborbital and MIURA 5 orbital rockets, which will place Spain among the few countries with the capacity to successfully send small satellites to space.
With a decade of history, PLD Space plans to launch its MIURA 1 prototype by the end of 2022 and tackle its first real space transport mission with MIURA 5 in 2024. The firm, based in Elche (Alicante) and with technical facilities in Teruel, Huelva and French Guiana, has already achieved more than $50m of investment to drive forward its project in the space sector.
14 Sep 22. NASA Selects Firefly Space Transport Services (STS) as a Launch Provider for Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) Missions.
Firefly Space Transport Services (STS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Firefly Aerospace, Inc, announced today that the company has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions in the 500-1000 kg grouping utilizing its Alpha rocket. The fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract has a five-year ordering period with a maximum total value of $300 m across all contracts.
“This award is a pivotal step for Firefly to continue to work with NASA and build upon our existing VCLS and CLPS contracts and our partnership with Northrop Grumman to send cargo to the ISS,” said Firefly Aerospace’s CEO, Bill Weber.
Launch vehicle capabilities for the VADR contract are divided into three categories: below 500 kg, 500-1000 kg, and above 1000 kg, with a specification that there be multiple providers for each category. NASA/KSC (Kennedy Space Center) determined that there was only one provider for the 500-1000kg category currently on the VADR contract and posted an intent to enter sole source negotiation with Firefly to fulfill the multiple provider need. Further, NASA noted that Firefly is the only launch vehicle provider in this grouping that has completed development and conducted its first test launch.
“Firefly has had a long-standing relationship with NASA and is committed to providing NASA and other U.S. government entities with responsive, repeatable, reliable space transportation services,” stated Jason Mello, President, Firefly STS, LLC. “We are honored to be included in this award and to be one of two vehicles in this class to meet the NASA’s Launch Services Program demand for assured access to space.”
The VADR contract will provide a broad range of Federal Aviation Administration-licensed commercial launch services capable of delivering payloads ranging from CubeSats to Class D missions to a variety of orbits. These small satellites and Class D payloads tolerate relatively high risk and serve as an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation, contributing to NASA’s science research and technology development.
Firefly’s Alpha Flight 2 mission is currently scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base on September 19th. Firefly’s VADR award builds on their previous $9.8M award of the VCLS Demo 2, which is currently being prepared for integration and will be flown on their upcoming Alpha Flight 3 mission planned for later this year. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
14 Sep 22. ICEYE and SATLANTIS Propose New Tandem4EO Constellation, Combining Radar and Optical Imaging for Europe. ICEYE, the owner of the world’s largest synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation and SATLANTIS, a leading New Space optical imaging company, today announced preliminary plans to develop and manufacture a proposed Tandem for Earth Observation (Tandem4EO) constellation consisting of two radar and two VHR optical satellites. The announced program is planned to support the New Space strategy of several European Union nations, with a focus on Spain.
Current ICEYE manufacturing and R&D facilities in Jumilla, Spain, and the headquarters of SATLANTIS in Bilbao, Spain, will be at the heart of the development, manufacturing and planned cooperation. Both companies will continue to increase their investments in their local operations, supporting Earth observation downstream applications in the European Union, and the growth of the local New Space ecosystem.
The Tandem4EO constellation is planned to be launched as a collection of four satellites in total, each capable of under 1-meter resolution imaging. The satellites are to be flown in a sun-synchronous orbit, with two ICEYE SAR imaging spacecraft flying in a bistatic formation, and two SATLANTIS very high-resolution optical imaging spacecraft trailing behind. With closely coordinated operations, the constellation intends to serve solutions related to natural catastrophes, security, environmental monitoring at land and sea, infrastructure development, precise SAR Interferometry (InSAR) based change detection and more.
“Earth observation is ultimately about truly understanding what is happening in a selected location – with confidence,” says Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “To achieve robust and fast analysis, combining the strengths of optical and SAR satellites in a single constellation yields incredibly useful insights for stakeholders in Spain and Europe.”
“Spain is in a remarkable position in Europe, with two leading New Space companies established in its territory opening new and unique opportunities in Earth observation,” says Juan Tomás Hernani, CEO of SATLANTIS. “This proposed initiative is the type of aerospace collaboration that would not have been feasible before. We’re in the golden age of New Space, and now is the right time to act on it.”
What makes the development of the Tandem4EO constellation unique, is that the combination of SAR and optical imaging with video capability will enable a new level of effectiveness for assessing in detail what is happening in a location of interest right now and over time. With this dual-instrument approach, data users will gain the benefits of versatility, reliability, and ease of use. In addition, the bi-static nature of the ICEYE SAR satellites allows for simultaneous radar acquisitions to produce InSAR data.
ICEYE delivers unmatched persistent monitoring capabilities for any location on earth. Owning the world’s largest synthetic-aperture radar constellation, the company enables objective, data-driven decisions for its customers in sectors such as insurance, natural catastrophe response and recovery, security, maritime monitoring and finance. ICEYE’s data can be collected day or night, and even through cloud cover. For more information, please visit www.iceye.com
SATLANTIS is a medium-sized company, profitable leader in Optical Earth Observation Technologies, that uses its own infrared and visible technology to lead 6 space missions, covering applications ranging from methane emissions to security, among others. One of those missions has recently been acquired as an End-to-End solution by another country’s governmental subsidiary company. SATLANTIS headquarters are in Bilbao, and it has a subsidiary company in Gainesville, Florida, run by US investors from the Oil & Gas sector.
www.satlantis.com (Source: PR Newswire)
14 Sep 22. Mobile Power System for Every Mission – Modular and Self-Sufficient Thanks to Fuel Cell. A successful partnership: VINCORION & SFC present prototype at German Defense Technology Association (DWT) expert forum in Bonn after two years of collaboration. Almost exactly two years ago to the day, at a DWT symposium, VINCORION and fuel cell specialist SFC Energy agreed on their first joint project. At the time, the stated goal was a robust and powerful energy system (VINCORION) with self-sufficient and portable methanol fuel cell (SFC).
The duo kept their word – and delivered. The Portable Power Management Modules, or PPM modularv for short, are the powerful result of their collaboration, and the companies are now showcasing them with a SFC methanol fuel cell. This is taking place in Bonn, of course, and once again at a DWT event that is currently being held in the former German capital. The product – a portable power supply for mobile emergency personnel – will be shown to the general public for the first time in the city on the Rhine. As a result, the two specialists are demonstrating exactly what they offer in compact form – operational readiness, flexibility, and mobility.
PPM modularv – Tailored Configurability
The PPM modularv, a mobile power system that can be configured to suit any application, was developed in less than two years thanks to its various portable modules: input, output, and storage. The three parts are flexible and can use – in addition to the fuel cell – any power source (AC/DC), such as available car batteries, old diesel generators, unstable local grids, or small solar power systems. Alternatively, the necessary independence can be achieved through the use of the system’s scalable storage modules. And the variable output module can be used to connect to a range of electrical consumers with a peak load of up to 10 kilowatts. This makes it suitable for particularly demanding missions ranging from disaster control to special military operations.
The PPM modularv is particularly effective in hybrid operation with the modern SFC fuel cell. The field-proven methanol fuel cell generates 12 kW of electrical power per day and emits hardly any noise, no harmful exhaust gases, and hardly any heat. The decisive advantage is the self-sufficient energy supply based on SFC methanol fuel cartridges. Depending on the size of the SFC fuel cartridges, which have a NATO supply number for years, forces can work independently for days.
Sustainable, Independent Power Supply
Professor Karsten Pinkwart describes the problem of supplying power during times of crisis or in conflict regions as follows: “How can we set up a resilient energy supply? How can we further split up our energy supply? For example, what we are experiencing today with the war in Ukraine.” Pinkwart conducts research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology on batteries and fuel cells, among other topics, and advises the Federal Government and the Bundeswehr in various committees. The scientist thinks further: “What will the energy supply of my energy systems look like in the future?”
To this end, there is apparently a good guiding radar on the Rhine, because at the time of the announcement of the partnership, the DWT still named its symposium “Future Energy Supply.” Today, in the midst of Germany’s Zeitenwende (i.e., the government ushering in a new era in the defense sector), the conference is named “Sustainable Energy Sources for Military Mobility and Infrastructure.” And that is why the partners are appearing side by side at the DWT event. They have taken a first step into the future. The PPM modularv is their business card. And a particularly sustainable contribution. Both companies – VINCORION and SFC Energy – are ready to actively shape the energy transition, even beyond the scope of their current partnership.
13 Sep 22. California company promises free crash-avoidance tool for spacecraft. Space sustainability company Slingshot Aerospace announced Tuesday it will release a free version of its Beacon platform, which alerts operators to potential satellite collisions.
“Ensuring the safety of current and future satellites in orbit is paramount to maintaining space as a safe operating environment,” Slingshot’s CEO Melanie Stricklan said in a statement. “This is why we are offering Slingshot Beacon for free so that all space operators around the world can coordinate, communicate and deconflict spaceflight risk.”
The company offers a premium version of the tool, which includes more analytics and automation capabilities.
While the U.S. Department of Defense and commercial space operators are concerned about the risk of space debris from defunct space systems and other objects, Slingshot’s analysis indicates that 30% of the collision alerts operators receive are for potential contact between active satellites. That percentage will likely grow over the next decade as commercial companies and government agencies make plans to launch approximately 17,000 satellites over that period, according to a December 2021 report from global strategy firm Euroconsult.
With Beacon, space operators can visualize satellites on orbit, evaluate the risk of collision and coordinate with other operators in their decision-making process.
Slingshot announced last month it had acquired two space object tracking products that will boost the capability offered through Beacon. The first, Numerica Corporation’s space domain awareness division, offers a unique optical sensor network that operates day and night. Slingshot also purchased Seradata, a U.K.-based company that runs the industry-leading satellite and launch database, SpaceTrak.
Stricklan told C4ISRNET in a recent interview the two products significantly improve the quality and amount of data that Beacon draws from and “allows operators around the globe coordination and collaboration with the right information at the right time.”
Domain awareness, Stricklan said, is a key part of moving toward a more sustainable space environment and is central to Slingshot’s mission. She added that while DoD may opt for terminology like “space control” and “space situational awareness” rather than “sustainability,” there is a lot of alignment between the military’s needs and those of the broader space community.
“There’s been an unprecedented increase in objects on orbit and that brings an unprecedented risk of collision with other operational sets of spacecraft or debris,” Stricklan said. “DoD is just as vulnerable to these things as the commercial sector, so space sustainability stretches across all of that.”
Along those lines, the Defense Department recently signed a memorandum of agreement to begin shifting responsibilities for managing space traffic to the Department of Commerce. The move, announced last week, is a step toward implementing a 2018 presidential policy directive that required the agencies to collaborate on domain awareness technology and put the Commerce Department in charge of managing space object warning and tracking.
The Commerce Department in July released a request for proposals seeking commercial space situational awareness information to help build an open-architecture database. Stricklan said Slingshot is in “active communication” with the agency about the role the company could play in future pilot programs. (Source: Defense News)
13 Sep 22. Nominee to Lead Space Force Testifies Goals, Priorities Before Senate Committee. Adversaries are moving aggressively to dominate in space and put U.S. interests there at risk, the general nominated to lead the U.S. Space Force said.
“The most immediate threat, in my opinion, is the pace with which our strategic challengers — first and foremost the Chinese — are aggressively pursuing capabilities that can disrupt, degrade and ultimately even destroy our satellite capabilities and disrupt our ground infrastructure,” Space Force Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman said during a nomination hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
If confirmed, Saltzman will serve as the second chief of space operations. He told lawmakers that the Chinese have paid attention to how the U.S. fights and how important space is to its operations, and they have adjusted to take advantage.
“They have watched how we perform joint force operations; they know how critical … U.S. space capabilities are to the joint force; they’ve learned from that, and they recognize that it is an asymmetric advantage of theirs to go after our space capabilities and deny them to the joint force,” he said. “They’ve invested heavily and demonstrated capabilities that can deny us this.”
Saltzman said it would be a priority of his to ensure the Space Force is on track to build and field effective space capabilities and to also ensure guardians are trained to operate in a contested domain to be able to counter activity by strategic competitors.
Recognizing the small size of the Space Force and the level of skills that are required for the mission, the general also acknowledged there would be challenges in ensuring individuals with the right skills are both accessed and retained. Those challenges would be something he said he’d need to take on if confirmed as the service’s new chief.
“We’re also looking at flexible and innovative ways to make sure that we have viable and flexible career paths for our guardians,” Saltzman said. “It’s important that we retain this talent for an extended period of time to get the most out of them. If confirmed as CSO, I would certainly welcome the opportunity to continue to work with members of this committee and other stakeholders to make sure that we get the right organizational structure to take advantage of these capabilities.”
Saltzman told senators that while he expects the Space Force will primarily provide forces to U.S. Space Command, but other combatant commands will also need what he can provide. Commanders there could expect his cooperation.
“The responsibilities of the chief of space operations are to make sure there are ready forces that have the flexibility, the agility, the training and experience necessary to support all combatant commanders,” he said. “Of note, of course, is that U.S. Space Command has primary responsibilities for that space area of responsibilities, as well as some key missions of providing capabilities for the joint force. While over 90% of the Space Force capabilities are presented to U.S. Space Command, there are critical other capabilities, regional capabilities, that are also presented to the other combatant commands to fulfill their missions as well.”
Saltzman serves now as the deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber and nuclear within the Space Force. Pending confirmation, he will replace Space Force Gen. John W. Raymond, who is the first to fill the role. (Source: US DoD)
13 Sep 22. First Airbus Eurostar Neo satellite ready for shipment to launch site. HOTBIRD 13F to offer EUTELSAT state of the art broadcast capability. With its twin HOTBIRD 13G, both satellites will broadcast over 1,000 television channels across Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. The first of Airbus’ next generation geostationary Eurostar Neo satellites is ready to be shipped to Cape Canaveral for launch preparations.
HOTBIRD 13F will inaugurate the Eurostar Neo satellite era, while still benefiting from Airbus’ strong heritage of 80 Eurostar family satellites already launched. It will be positioned at 13 degrees east along with its twin satellite, HOTBIRD 13G, also built by Airbus and being launched later this year.
The Eurostar Neo pair feature increased payload capacity, more efficient power and thermal control systems than previous generation and will replace three Eutelsat satellites currently in orbit at this location.
Francois Gaullier, Head of Telecommunications & Navigation Systems at Airbus said: “Eutelsat has been a valued partner for many Airbus satellite firsts from pioneering the previous Eurostar E3000 generation, to electric orbit raising or the first fully flexible payload – and now with our first Eurostar Neos. This new platform has been developed thanks to the support of ESA, showing the power of partnerships between industry, agencies and commercial players in Europe.”
The HOTBIRD 13F and 13G satellites will both have more than two tons of payload, spacecraft power of 22 kW and yet a launch mass of only 4,500 kg, thanks to Electric Orbit Raising. They will enhance Eutelsat’s ability to serve its 135 m customers across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Airbus’ Eurostar Neo platform has been developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Partnership Projects, together with the French space agency CNES, and strongly supported by the UK Space Agency and other agencies across Europe.
Airbus’ geostationary telecommunications satellites have clocked up more than a thousand years of cumulated successful operation and are in service or being built for all of the world’s leading geostationary satellite operators.
14 Sep 22. Teledyne e2v and Thorium Space announce the development of a collaborative project which will be a game changer for the satellite market. Thorium Space, a company in the advanced satellite communication systems sector, has officially started work on a joint project in cooperation with Teledyne e2v Semiconductors, a global company in the field of advanced technologies used in the aerospace and defence sector.
The fact that such a recognized company with a global reach decided to cooperate with an emerging Polish company is indicative of the leading-edge solution proposed by Thorium Space. Work will focus on the definition and development of state-of-the-art key elements of an advanced communication payload that will offer more efficient use of the spectrum and satellite payload resources.
This will lead to genericity of the hardware with the ambition of ultimately reducing costs and production time. The scope of application opens the door to the so-called intelligent telecommunication payloads, resulting in unprecedented operational flexibility. Technically, the so-called full Digital Beam Forming (DBF) creates transmitting and receiving beams directly in the digital domain, working on the full Ka band (17.7-20.2 GHz and 27.5-31.0 GHz).
This is a game changer in the satellite market. The system provides scalability and flexibility and applications developed and updated in orbit, which is another innovation. The first solutions will be available on the market in 2024.
As part of the cooperation, Teledyne E2V will deliver the elements which are jointly specified with Thorium Space, which will be incorporated in DBF Ka Payload – a full digital communications payload along with the associated processing resources, offering a powerful solution for geostationary applications with 15 years of continuous operation and adapting to the market needs.
Teledyne e2v Semiconductors SAS specializes in the production of advanced semiconductors. It is part of Teledyne e2v, a world leader in specialized components and subsystems for innovative solutions in aerospace and defence applications. Teledyne e2v products have been used, among other things, for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gaia project and the transmission of images of Mars by the New Horizons spacecraft. The company’s customers include Airbus, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Thales group and others. Teledyne e2v belongs to Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, an industrial conglomerate employing almost 15,000 people. The company supplies aerospace and defence electronics, digital imaging products and software, monitoring instrumentation for marine and environmental applications, communications products in harsh environments, and satellite communication subsystems.
Thorium Space Sp. z o.o. is a company in the sector of advanced satellite communication systems (Space Advanced Communication Company). It deals with the design of innovative technological solutions in the field of construction of space vehicles and intelligent array antennas, applicable in the space industry and the defence sector. It consists of an interdisciplinary team of nearly 40 space technology engineers and specialists in related fields. It has offices in Wrocław and Warsaw. In 2021, Thorium Space was chosen as one of the 10 most innovative space technology start-ups and awarded as one of the 5 Top Space Tech Global Manufacturing Solutions of the 288 companies surveyed. (https://www.startus-insights.com/innovators-guide/discover-5-top-space-manufacturing-solutions/) (Source: Google/https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/)
05 Sep 22. Gilmour Space to use Inmarsat rocket telemetry. Gilmour Space Technologies will be testing Inmarsat’s new space-based telemetry technology, InRange, on its maiden orbital launch in 2023. Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications has signed an agreement with Gilmour Space Technologies to support space launches from Australia using InRange.
InRange from Inmarsat provides rapid, responsive and cost-effective launch telemetry from space, removing the need to construct and maintain costly terrestrial launch infrastructure of down range ground stations to maintain telemetry coverage.
“Inmarsat InRange can accelerate Australia’s ambitions by providing telemetry from space and avoiding the need to finance and build terrestrial-based telemetry solutions that are limited in coverage, take time to construct and are expensive,” said Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat.
Ordinarily, new launch providers or locations would need to invest significant sums to create a ground-based telemetry system to track their rockets during the launch phase, which is time-consuming and costly. This creates major barriers to entry and prevents wider competition in the global launch market.
In addition, to achieve a consistent real-time telemetry link from terrestrial tracking systems, a launch vehicle must always stay within line-of-sight of a ground station and operators need to send data to ground stations pointed toward the sky. When rockets are positioned between two ground stations separated by an ocean, for example, no telemetry information about the health of a rocket is available within what is termed a ‘blackout zone’.
The Inmarsat InRange capability provides rapid, responsive and cost-effective launch telemetry for launch vehicle operators, offering them real time information on the trajectory of their rocket via satellite rather than ground stations, eliminating blackout zones. The concept utilises global coverage from Inmarsat’s constellation of ELERA L-band geostationary (GEO) satellites as a data relay link for launch vehicles. With no dependency on down-range ground stations, InRange establishes complete geographical freedom for launch operations on-demand with 99.9% reliability over Inmarsat’s network and with the potential to reduce launch costs and barriers to entry to the launch market significantly.
Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space, said, “Our Eris rocket, which is targeted to launch early next year, will be Australia’s first orbital rocket and first orbital launch attempt from a commercial Australian launch site. We are also developing the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in north Queensland, and it’s been fantastic to work with Inmarsat as a well-established partner to help us demonstrate space-based telemetry for our first and future Eris launches from Australia.”
Space launch is a new focus and priority in Australia and Inmarsat is building on more than 30 years of partnership and presence in-country to support this new capability. The company already supports the ADF, has built new ground stations in Australia to support its recently launched I-6 F1 satellite and is looking to deliver a Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) capability under the ADF’s Joint Project 9102 Australian Defence Satellite Communication System.
The company says that the development and utilisation of InRange is an example of the innovations Inmarsat is capable of to support important Australian government programmes such as JP9102. (Source: Rumour Control)
12 Sep 22. Horizon Technologies and its partner, LN Systems (LNS). recently commissioned the Amber™ Data Centre (ADC) in a new facility in Lincoln in the UK. In anticipation of the first Amber™ launch in October from Cornwall via Virgin Orbit as part of the “Start Me Up” Mission, the ADC was commissioned in a new facility by both Horizon Technologies and LNS as they both to prepare for the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) data to start coming from the first Amber™ CubeSat. As part of the Satellite Applications Catapult (SAC) IOD-3 mission, the Amber-1 launch consists of many firsts:
- • Part of the historic First UK Space Launch
- • First UK commercial SIGINT CubeSat
- • First RF CubeSat constellation designed solely for MDA
- • Amber™ will be a first-of-its-kind mission in the UK, providing “always on” commercial RF signal geolocation and monitoring for government and commercial end-users.
Amber™ data will be used by governments to provide information on tracking and prevention of illegal fishing, smuggling, trafficking, piracy, etc. Amber™ is a non-cooperative system in that it doesn’t depend on a ship’s AIS transponder to be active. Amber™ CubeSats will geolocate and monitor signals such as ship’s radars, sat phones, and other RF emissions. The current conflict in the Ukraine has clearly shown the value of commercial space-based data sources. Once active, Amber™ will be another tool to combat illegal oil and gas smuggling and transshipments.
Horizon Technologies CEO, John Beckner said, “Horizon Technologies is incredibly proud of our partnership with LNS. Amber™ is a data service, the ADC is one of the key components of Amber™ and without it, there would be “no Amber™. The team at LNS has worked tirelessly over the past few years constantly improving our capabilities to ingest data and provide it out to our government customers in the manner they have requested. The work on the ADC ensures that once the first Amber™ satellite is operational, our customers will get the data they need, and in the right format.”
John Beckner, Horizon Technologies CEO in front of the initial Amber™ Ground Station.
Beckner also gave special thanks to Innovate UK (IUK) who provided the seed funding under a generous 2019 grant which started the work on the ADC. “Without the support of Innovate UK, and the Satellite Applications Catapult (SAC), the whole ADC would have taken far longer to establish. This support has been key in making sure the ADC is ready to process Amber™ data on Day One.”
Marcus Jones, CEO of LN Systems said, “LN Systems is proud to be a partner of Horizon Technologies on this innovative and exciting program. LN Systems is looking forward to continued cooperation with Horizon Technologies and the expansion of the Amber™ constellation and its capabilities to include additional data analysis and AI.” Beckner added, “the basis of the Amber™ CubeSat constellation will be in operation by mid-2024. It is unlikely that anyone else in this arena will be able to offer the same type of demodulated, high-fidelity, commercial maritime intelligence data Horizon Technologies offers.”
12 Sep 22. PLD Space meets with CNES in French Guiana after its pre-selection to fly MIURA 5 in 2024 from the European Spaceport.
- A representation of the Spanish company travelled to the CSG (Guiana Space Center) facilities in Kourou, where the launch pad for its orbital rocket, MIURA 5, could be located
- The company has made progress towards the preparation of agreements with the CNES
- PLD Space, which is Europe’s leading provider of access to space for small satellites, is already working on the design and construction of the launch infrastructure in French Guiana
From left to right: Juan Carlos Cortés, CDTI Space Director, Marie-Anne Clair, director of the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), Raúl Verdú, CBDO & Co-founder PLD Space, Jean-Michel Monthiller, CNES Project Manager, Aimee Cippe, CNES Project Manager at CSG
The Spanish company PLD Space has visited the site where the future launch pad of its orbital rocket, MIURA 5, should be located in Kourou (French Guiana). The company has traveled to the CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) facilities after the announcement of its pre-selection to fly MIURA 5 in 2024 from this European complex. In addition, it has advanced in its plans at this spaceport.
A team of MIURA 5 program representatives has travelled this week to the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in Kourou, where they have been able to see first-hand the areas that CNES plans to make available to European small launcher operators through a public call for applications. As announced by the president and CEO of CNES, Philippe Baptiste, at the end of July, PLD Space is one of the seven European companies shortlisted to operate at the site known as Diamant.
During this visit, the Spanish company has made progress in the steps prior to the preparation of the binding term sheet with the French space agency. PLD Space’s Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO), Raúl Verdú, has met with the director of the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), Marie-Anne Clair.
“We have manifested our interest since 2018 to operate MIURA 5 from CSG for commercial launches. We are proud to be one of the very early promotors of this new use of the European historical spaceport” says Verdú.
“We are very happy to support the new European actors in access to space, in particular by giving them the opportunity to operate from the European spaceport of Kourou” comments Clair.
PLD Space has manifested its interest since 2018. on the opportunity to leverage the CSG, in operation since 1968, as the main spaceport for MIURA 5. This facility, currently used for Ariane and Vega launchers, can accommodate new European launch vehicles as an additional way to increase Europe’s competitiveness and create independence for access to space.
PLD Space’s launch manifest contemplates starting in 2024 with two annual MIURA 5 flight missions from French Guiana, progressively increasing to between 10 and 12 launches per year. The firm is currently developing the design and construction activities for the launch infrastructure in Kourou, as well as the management of operational needs.
“Our statement is clear: we want the future of PLD Space and MIURA 5 to be sustained at one of the most important spaceports in the world,” highlights PLD Space Co-founder and CEO, Raúl Torres. “This collaboration reinforces our commitment to provide commercial launch services to small satellites from the European territory.”
Next steps for MIURA 1 and MIURA 5
PLD Space’s programmatic plan remains on schedule. The company is completing the qualification campaign of its suborbital rocket, MIURA 1, at its test facilities in Teruel (Spain). At the same time, it has already started manufacturing the flight unit to be launched at the end of 2022 from its base in El Arenosillo (Huelva, Spain), which is currently under construction.
Simultaneously, the Spanish company is making progress in the design and development of MIURA 5, which will fly in mid-2024. To meet this strategic milestone, PLD Space plans to expand its technical facilities in Teruel and its manufacturing plant in Elche (Spain). It will also grow its team, which currently consists of more than 110 professionals and expects to increase to 200 people in the coming year.
About PLD Space
PLD Space is a pioneering Spanish company in the aerospace sector and a reference within Europe in the development of reusable rockets, with a recognized prestige in the sector and a solid project that has become a reality through its launch vehicles: the MIURA 1 suborbital and MIURA 5 orbital rockets, which will place Spain among the few countries with the capacity to successfully send small satellites to space.
With a decade of history, PLD Space plans to launch its MIURA 1 prototype in the second half of 2022 and tackle its first real space transport mission with MIURA 5 in 2024. The firm, based in Elche (Alicante) and with technical facilities in Teruel and Huelva, has already achieved more than $50m of investment to drive forward its project in the space sector.
CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) is the government agency responsible for shaping and executing France’s space programme. It develops and guides research in the fields of space science and engineering. It is also the French centre of excellence for space technologies and applications.
CSG (Guiana Space Center), the European Space Port, is the site from which the Ariane and Vega launchers take off. It offers a particularly advantageous geographic location for certain launches and a more than 50-year track record. CNES has chosen the Diamant launch complex to accommodate new micro-/mini-launchers. The complex will provide shared facilities—access road, power systems, etc.—for several launchers, as well as specific facilities for each individual launcher—launch table, assembly building, etc. By bringing together international players in French Guiana around major strategic themes, it enables the launch of satellites from operators around the world for space applications essential to everyday life.
09 Sep 22. US Defense and Commerce departments partner on space traffic management. The U.S. Department of Defense has signed a memorandum of agreement to begin shifting responsibilities for managing space traffic to the Department of Commerce.
Don Graves, deputy secretary of commerce, announced the agreement Friday during a National Space Council meeting in Houston. The document formalizes the partnership between both agencies on the space monitoring mission, according to a press release.
The memorandum follows the release of Space Policy Directive-3, a 2018 instruction from then-President Donald Trump that called on the organizations to collaborate on advancing space domain awareness and space traffic management technology, make the associated data publicly available and improve interoperability. It also directed the Commerce Department to take responsibility for managing space object warning and tracking, meant to free up the Defense Department to focus on the threat environment.
“We are pleased to partner with [the Commerce Department] on this effort and look to broaden our relationship with industry, allies and partners to help achieve the objectives of SPD-3,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said in a statement. “We also take this opportunity to encourage and invite commercial or other partners who can assist in this effort.”
Plumb, along with U.S. Space Command and Space Force leaders and Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Rick Spinrad, signed the memorandum.
While the agreement creates an initial framework for cooperation between the departments, there is still work to be done to fully implement SPD-3. Breaking Defense reported in June the agreement would be followed by more detailed annexes that lay out how DoD will share resources with the Commerce Department as they create a new office to manage the effort.
A spokesperson for U.S. Space Command told told C4ISRNET the MOA is “a first step in shifting the responsibility for routine tracking of space objects to a civil authority.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Sep 22. SMC signs MoU with Indian aerospace manufacturer Ananth. Space Machines Company, an Australian space transportation and logistics start-up, has signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with Indian defence and aerospace manufacturer Ananth Technologies.
The companies signed the MoU at the 2022 Bengaluru Space Expo, which saw several Australian space companies attending.
SMC’s recently opened offices in Bengaluru have also been inaugurated by Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency alongside Vish Padmanabhan, senior trade and investment commissioner for India and the Middle East from Investment NSW, and Michael Costa, deputy consul general, Australian consulate general, Chennai.
Ananth and SMC will work together on upcoming missions, development initiatives, technology integration, and testing and supply chains.
Rajat Kulshrestha, co-founder and CEO of SMC, spoke about the benefits of working simultaneously in Australia and India.
“Since the company creation in early 2019, we have been building a strong, complementary team across both countries, to enable our first mission in 2023 and demonstrate how we can facilitate multiple projects and missions.”
Ananth employs 1,200 employees across its five locations and is one of the leading aerospace manufacturers in India. The company’s headquarters is based in Hyderabad, with offices in Bengalaru and Thiruvananthapuram.
The agreement between the companies comes as Australia and India move to strengthen their bilateral space industry relations.
“India is an important space partner for Australia, and I am extremely pleased to witness these announcements a year after the Australian Space Agency and the ISRO signed an MoU,” said Palermo.
“Space Machines is developing unique space capabilities in Australia, and with a team in India, is a thriving example of the great potential of collaboration between our countries.”
Palermo also officially released the mission patch for SMC’s first mission, the Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle, which will launch upon a SpaceX rideshare rocket in the second quarter of 2023.
During the recent Space Expo, Enrico Palermo met with Shri S. Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and secretary of the Indian Department of Space at the organisation’s headquarters.
The pair discussed the Australian delegation’s participation in the Space Expo, Australia’s ongoing support for the Indian Gaganyaan space missions, and the promising signs of growing corporate links between the Australian and Indian space industries forged at the recent expo.
The $25m in funding provided to Australian companies by the federal government’s International Space Investment initiative in March this year is paying off, with six MoU’s being signed between Australian and Indian companies at the Space Expo.
Aside from the agreement between SMC and Ananth, Australian company QL Space has signed memorandums of agreement with Indian companies Skyroot Aerospace, SatSure, and GalaxEye. Australian start-up HEX20 has also committed to working with Skyroot. Finally, SABRN Health and Altdata, two Australian companies have partnered with DCube to provide health services to astronauts.
NSW Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Alister Henskens commented on the agreements. “The Australia-India bilateral relationship is growing from strength to strength following the recent Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement.” (Source: Space Connect)
09 Sep 22. Press Release on the NASEM Section 1663 Report. As required by Congress in section 1663 of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) committee recently released its study on Ligado’s planned deployment of terrestrial services and its potential to interfere with GPS capabilities essential for DoD’s mission execution. National security missions that our service men and women execute every day are of the utmost importance and require a solution that ensures continued operations of critical systems.
The NASEM study confirms that Ligado’s system will interfere with DoD GPS receivers, which include high-precision GPS receivers. The study also confirms that Iridium satellite communications will experience harmful interference caused by Ligado user terminals. Further, the study notes that when DoD’s testing approach, which is based on signal-to-noise ratio, iscorrectly applied, it is the more comprehensive and informativeapproach to assessing interference. The study also concludes that the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) proposed mitigation and replacement measures are impractical, cost prohibitive, and possibly ineffective.
These conclusions are consistent with DoD’s longstanding view that Ligado’s system will interfere with critical GPS receivers and that it is impractical to mitigate the impact of that interference.
DoD looks forward to continuing to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, FCC and Ligado on this complex and important issue. (Source: US DoD)
08 Sep 22. Europe’s Tallest Ever Communications Satellite Launched. The fourth Spacebus Neo satellite to benefit from ESA’s Neosat programme has launched into space on board the second Ariane 5 launch mission of 2022.
The 8.9 metre, three-storeys-high communications satellite – which will deliver high-speed broadband and in-flight connectivity across Europe for its operator, Eutelsat – weighs 6.525 tonnes and accounted for 99% of the 6.62-tonne launch mass.
Called Eutelsat Konnect Very High Throughput Satellite, it includes several innovative features developed under an ESA Partnership Project with satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space.
The satellite was launched at 23:45 CEST (18:45 local time) on 7 September from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, into a sub-synchronous transfer orbit. This highly elliptical trajectory, which loops from close to Earth to up to 60 000 kilometres away from the planet at an inclination of 3.5°, will enable it to transfer into a geostationary orbit some 36 000 kilometres above Earth.
After reaching geostationary orbit the satellite – the tallest ever built in Europe – will be tested further before it enters commercial service.
The satellite features new antenna deployment and pointing mechanisms used within the antenna tracking system, as well as other innovative features including next-generation batteries and structural panels, all developed under the ESA Partnership Project.
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “I am proud to support the European space industry to foster innovation and succeed in the highly competitive global telecommunications market. Investing in space creates jobs and prosperity on Earth.”
ESA’s Neosat programme comprises both Spacebus Neo by Thales Alenia Space and Eurostar Neo by Airbus. It includes development up to in-orbit validation of new satellite product lines for both companies, allowing the European space industry to deliver competitive satellites for the global commercial satellite market.
Sixteen Neosat satellites have been ordered so far, demonstrating the high economic impact of ESA’s Partnership Projects, which foster the development of sustainable end-to-end systems up to in-orbit validation.
Neosat is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) and is supported by the French space agency, CNES, and the UK Space Agency.
The launch of the Eutelsat Konnect Very High Throughput Satellite is the 114th Ariane 5 mission since its inaugural flight in 1996.
Ariane 5 has three more flights before its successor, Ariane 6, takes over Europe’s heavy-lift launch duties.
They will include the launch of the first of a new-generation series of satellites to advance weather forecasting from geostationary orbit developed by ESA and Eumetsat, called Meteosat third-generation imager 1.
And Ariane 5 will launch JUICE – ESA’s scientific mission to explore the Jupiter system and its icy, ocean-bearing moons, with an initial launch window in April 2023.
09 Sep 22. US pushes ASAT missile ban as UN norms group reconvenes. Up to now, only Canada and New Zealand have joined the US in unilaterally pledging not to test destructive ASAT missiles, but diplomats expect others to join in.
When the United Nations working group attempting to hammer out international norms to govern military activities in space reconvenes on Sept. 12, on the table will be a formal resolution offered by the US for a ban on testing of destructive anti-satellite missiles, Breaking Defense has learned.
The US move is being announced later today at the second public meeting of the National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, in an effort to convince other countries to follow in Washington’s footsteps. Harris in April announced the US pledge to refrain from the use of ground-based direct ascent ASATs that use kinetic energy to smash up satellites, prior to the first meeting of the UN Open Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats (OEWG).
The resolution was presaged in late August by Eric Desautels, acting deputy assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance at the State Department during a webinar sponsored by George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and The Aerospace Corporation.
“It’s one thing to announce a unilateral commitment, but there’s a lot of work that is required to develop that shared understanding of the commitment, get broad international acceptance of it, and have it as a norm of responsible behavior,” he said. “And I think we’ve got a plan.”
One possible approach, he elaborated, would be introducing a “non-binding resolution” at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which handles peace and security issues. The General Assembly’s committees begin their annual meetings in September and the full assembly comes together in December.
“We could submit a resolution that would call on all countries to not conduct such direct ascent based missile tests,” Desautels elaborated. “The resolution would allow countries to go on record regarding their support, creating that shared agreement among the majority of UN member states, while increasing political pressure on countries that have plans for future ASAT tests.”
Desautels further pointed out that the UN General Assembly does not require consensus to pass, only a majority vote.
Up to now, only Canada and New Zealand have officially made the same unilateral pledge. However, sources involved in the UN initiative say that several other nations are expected to get on board during the course of next week’s meeting, which will focus directly on what specific actions by other states national governments perceive as threatening. (The ones to watch are the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil.)
The European Union, while not going as far as formally adhering to the US concept — which is not a surprise, given that all 27 members would have to agree — welcomed the US effort in a statement [PDF] filed with the UN in advance of the OEWG meeting.
“The EU and its Member States consider these tests as irresponsible. Such activities are dangerous and highly destabilising; they may lead to deteriorating confidence between space actors, increase the perception of threats, and could trigger an escalation of violence and potentially could have catastrophic consequences,” the paper explained.
“In this context, the EU and its Member States welcome the commitment made by the United States, and joined by Canada and New Zealand, not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing,” the paper added.
Further, in Sept. 6 submission to the UN [PDF], Germany and the Philippines also characterized “Destructive testing or actual use of direct ascent anti-satellite missiles” as “irresponsible behavior.”
“I’m happy to announce that with our partners at the DoD, we’ve signed a memorandum of understanding of agreement that will drive our mutual work,” Don Graves, Commerce deputy director, told the second public meeting of the National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Daniel Porras, Secure World Foundation’s director of strategic partnerships and communications, praised the US initiative.
“The US is leading by example, calling on States to restrain themselves in a way the US already has,” he said. “This first step makes a lot of sense in terms of improving safety and security in space. Hopefully, the rest of the world will see it that way.”
Discussions Or Arguments
While sources involved in the UN meeting said that much of the discussion will be educational, with panels addressing different types of threats in space — ground-to-space, space-to-space and space-to-Earth — there are serious concerns that things could devolve into a finger-pointing exercise between the US and its rivals Russia and China.
The challenge for the OEWG chair, Hellmut Lagos Koller of Chile, will be to prevent such squabbling, Porras said. The key, he added, will be to keep the meeting — and especially those nations with less skin in the space game — focused on the fact that irresponsible and threatening behavior in space actually affects all nations.
Diplomats are keeping a particularly keen eye on Moscow for potential monkey wrench throwing as the talks resume, given that Russia opposed the creation of the OEWG and have been seeking to constrain its work via procedural arguments.
Indeed, in a Sept. 8 “working paper” [PDF], the Russian delegation to the Conference on Disarmament asserts that the OEWG discussions must be strictly limited to “military threats” that are leading to the brink of hostilities, rather than problems arising from the “peaceful uses” of space.
Thus, the paper argues, discussions of many issues considered critical by the US and many Western nations — such as debris, close approach and proximity operations around the satellites of other countries, and orbital congestion — should be relegated to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna rather than the OEWG.
“[T]he Russian Federation considers intention to place weapons in outer space as the main external military danger, and disruption of the functioning of outer space monitoring systems as the military threat,” the paper stresses. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
02 Sep 22. Seven propulsion systems from ThrustMe delivered to Spire Global for their LEMUR satellites. ThrustMe has delivered seven propulsion systems to Spire Global, Inc. for that company’s LEMUR 3U satellites as it continues to build upon its fully deployed constellation of more than 100 satellites.
Spire’s LEMUR satellites will carry ThrustMe’s I2T5 iodine cold gas system on the next launch that is scheduled for Q4 2022 onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission. These propulsion systems will enable Spire to optimize its constellation performance and prepare for upcoming deorbiting regulations. For the first time, Spire will integrate and use propulsion on its LEMUR satellites.
The integration of ThrustMe’s iodine cold gas propulsion system, the I2T5, will provide Spire significantly improved satellite maneuverability for satellite phasing, collision avoidance maneuvers, and end-of-life deorbiting.
Spire’s Low Earth Multi-Use Receiver (LEMUR) constellation is used to track maritime, aviation, and weather activity from space, and the satellites are equipped with multiple sensors, capable of capturing data day and night — even in extreme weather conditions. Spire also has a Space Services business, which allows organizations to deploy and scale their own constellations at maximum speed with minimum risk. This is accomplished by leveraging Spire’s proven space platform, global ground station network, end-to-end manufacturing facility, and extensive launch partnership network.
ThrustMe has now delivered more than 20 I2T5 systems to clients across the globe and is setting up a dedicated, high-volume, industrial production facility to meet the strong commercial demand from the industry.
“Incorporating propulsion into our satellites will increase the capability of our constellation and safety of operations. ThrustMe’s I2T5 unit has distinct advantages for Spire from a technical risk perspective. The small physical volume and low power requirements are critical for 3U satellites,” said Jeroen Cappaert, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Spire.
“It is particularly important for us to meet the needs of clients such as Spire, who have specific parameters for propulsion solutions. We have designed and developed a system that provides sufficient in-orbit manoeuvrability for satellites with power and volume constraints, so that they can perform essential and soon-to-be mandatory operations,” said Dr. Ane Aanesland, co-founder and CEO of ThrustMe.
ThrustMe is a one-stop shop provider of high performing in-orbit mobility solutions for customer across the globe. It offers a portfolio of disruptive, deeply integrated and smart in-orbit space propulsion solutions design for the new industrialized constellation space era. The company made the world’s first demonstration of an iodine-fueled electric propulsion system in space – an achievement the space industry has tried to reach for 60 years. Now delivering propulsion systems to major constellation players, ThrustMe has set up an industrial production line in the southern outskirt of Paris in France. (Source: Satnews)
07 Sep 22. Blue Canyon Technologies + SEAKR Engineering deliver 1st flight unit + payloads for the DARPA Blackjack Program. Blue Canyon Technologies, LLC, and SEAKR Engineering, LLC, wholly owned subsidiaries of Raytheon Technologies, have announced that they have delivered one, Saturn-class, microsat bus and have also completed acceptance testing of the first two of 12, Pit Boss Battle Management Command, Control and Communication payloads for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack Program.
Blue Canyon is providing ten, Saturn-class buses total, with the remaining nine expected to ship later in the year. The buses are BCT’s first flight units using the company’s new Kyber Electrical Power System and Hyperion Solar Arrays. Each bus includes advanced electric propulsion, a robust power system, command and data handling, radio frequency communications and dedicated payload interfaces capable of hosting several different Department of Defense payloads.
SEAKR Engineering has completed acceptance testing of the first two, flight units of the 12 Pit Boss Battle Management Command, Control and Communication payloads for the DARPA Blackjack constellation. These units have shipped for space vehicle Assembly, Integration and Test.
The Blackjack mission will develop and demonstrate critical elements of a global high-speed network in LEO. The goal of the Blackjack program is to show that a constellation of LEO satellites meets U.S. Department of Defense performance and payload requirements, at a significantly lower cost, with shorter design cycles and with easier and more frequent technology upgrades. The Blackjack program aims to establish an economy of scale not previously available with current National Security space assets, which are large, costly and would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed.
Blue Canyon built and delivered Blackjack’s ground test unit to Lockheed Martin in early May of this year. The remaining customized, Saturn-class buses are currently in production at BCT’s smallsat factory in Lafayette, Colorado.
SEAKR Engineering is manufacturing the payloads at their facilities in Centennial, Colorado.
“This is a momentous milestone for BCT’s Saturn microsatellite product line with the first-ever Saturn bus flight unit to achieve environmental testing,” said Jeff Schrader, president of Blue Canyon Technologies and SEAKR Engineering. “The accomplishment of qualifying and shipping this unit was no easy feat with teams working around the clock to run test after test to reduce risk and ensure success in the overall mission. It was a collaborative effort with Raytheon Intelligence & Space, BCT and SEAKR Engineering that further signifies confidence in our capabilities as an end-to-end spacecraft provider.”
“Pit Boss plays many critical roles for the Blackjack constellation by providing on-orbit mission autonomy, a space platform for DevSecOps Docker applications, network routing of optical satellite links, and high speed link encryption,” said Dave Anderson, SEAKR’s Vice President, Advanced Product Development and CTO. “The Pit Boss BMC3 has enough processing resources with margin to perform all these functionalities simultaneously.”
Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, is comprised of four business units: CubeSats, Microsats, Components, and Mission Operations. BCT offers a diverse portfolio of innovative, reliable, and affordable spacecraft and components that enable a broad range of missions and technological advancements for the new space economy. The company currently supports numerous unique missions with over 100 cumulative spacecraft orders. Microsatellites are manufactured at the 80,000 sq-ft Lafayette facility and CubeSats and components are manufactured in 40,000 sq-ft of dedicated facilities in Boulder, Colorado. BCT has supported missions for the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and provided the Attitude Control Systems for the first interplanetary CubeSats, which successfully traveled to Mars. The company has been recognized with awards from Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies, the Best in Biz Award and the 2020 Tibbetts Award. (Source: Satnews)
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