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07 Oct 22. SIPRI Publishes Report on Challenges to the Missile Technology Control Regime Posed by the Commercialization of Space. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released a report entitled NewSpace and the Commercialization of the Space Industry: Challenges for the Missile Technology Control Regime. The report notes that the changing nature of the space industry—particularly through its NewSpace entrants—is resulting in changes in business practices, new funding sources, and capitalization models, as well as gaps in awareness and understanding of export controls. NewSpace is not only changing the nature of the space industry but also exacerbating existing missile proliferation risks and posing challenges to the effective implementation of export controls. SIPRI argues that this requires a coordinated response by the main multilateral missile export control instrument: the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This report identifies developments, trends, and possible proliferation scenarios linked to the NewSpace industry that could pose missile proliferation risks and challenges for MTCR export controls. The report seeks to strengthen the implementation of export controls and related policy instruments through the MTCR and national measures, to prevent commercial space industry activities contributing to programmes for missiles and other delivery systems capable of carrying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. (Source: glstrade.com)
07 Oct 22. Indra to install satcom terminals for Norwegian military. Indra was awarded a contract by the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency to install satellite communication (satcom) ground segments as part of the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite constellation.
Indra plans to implement X- and Ka-band nodes (antennas), “which will act as a gateway between user terminals at various locations for the WGS constellation”, the company announced on 6 October.
These WGS-certified antennas will utilise the constellation to provide satcom services, the announcement added.
According to information disclosed by the company to Janes, the terminals will enable the Norwegian military to access the WGS constellation directly and facilitate the “sharing of satellite communication between military users”.
The company added that “these terminals are to be used by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, nevertheless, as they are WGS-certified, other end-users in the WGS constellation can acquire these terminals from Indra”.
They were unable to detail the value and delivery timeframes of the contract. (Source: Janes)
07 Oct 22. Ariane 6 Takes Next Step to 1st Flight With Upper Stage Hot Fire Tests. ESA’s flagship Ariane 6 launch vehicle programme has taken a dramatic step towards first flight with the start of a series of hot fire tests of the rocket’s upper stage and its all-new Vinci engine.
These tests, which began on 5 October 2022, represent a significant step forward thanks to the specially-built P5.2 test bench at Germany’s DLR centre for engine and stage testing in Lampoldshausen. The P5.2 test bench subjects the entire upper stage to operating conditions representative of a flight from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, with the exception of vacuum and microgravity.
Vinci, the upper stage engine of Ariane 6 fed by liquid hydrogen and oxygen, can be stopped and restarted multiple times – a critical capability for the complex missions demanded by launch customers today: placing several satellites into different orbits and de-orbiting the upper stage, to leave an absolute minimum of hazardous debris in space.
In addition to restart capabilities and endurance in space, Vinci has been developed for reliability, simplicity and lower costs
This test series is a critical milestone on a development path that will soon see Ariane 6 replace Ariane 5 as ESA’s heavy launcher. For more than a quarter century, Ariane 5 has been a reliable partner for commercial, institutional and scientific clients – one of its most notable missions was the 25 December 2021 flight that carried the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to its operational outpost in deep space. But Ariane 6 will be an even more versatile vehicle, further strengthening Europe’s autonomy in accessing space.
The tests being run at Lampoldshausen are also evaluating an innovative Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) which works in tandem with the Vinci engine and is instrumental to Ariane 6 upper stage performance. In order to restart in space, earlier engines relied on large quantities of tanked helium to generate the necessary pressure and temperature in the propellant tanks and to ensure there are no bubbles in the fuel lines. But the APU delivers these conditions using only small amounts of the cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen already carried in the main tanks.
This test series is being run by DLR and ArianeGroup, the Ariane 6 launcher prime contractor. When the test series is complete, this upper stage – integrated by ArianeGroup at its facility in Bremen, Germany – will be shipped to ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands for stage separation and acoustic tests.
Ultimately, the Lampoldshausen tests will investigate hardware behaviour and system function of the complete stage with its tanks, engines and avionics. “The preparation for these hot firing tests is even more complex than for an actual launch,” says Ariane 6 launcher programme manager Guy Pilchen, noting that: “Our colleagues in Lampoldshausen have decades of experience in rocket propulsion with extremely advanced test facilities. With ArianeGroup colleagues to control the upper stage and DLR people operating the test bench, we couldn’t ask for a better team.”
ESA Director of Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander adds that this new engine and the upper stage it powers are indispensable components of Ariane 6 and its objective – to guarantee that Europe maintains independent, competitive and sustainable access to space:
“It’s a fact in the 21st century that Europeans depend on space for safety, prosperity and security. Europe needs to work toward complete autonomy in accessing and operating in space. Ariane 6 is key to this and we are eager to see the liftoff from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.” (Source: ASD Network)
06 Oct 22. Hanwha signs MoU with Australian partners for SATCOM.
Hanwha Defense Australia and Hanwha Systems have signed an MoU with AI company 4Zero to work on improving low-Earth orbit satellite communications.
The agreement follows an already existing memorandum of agreement (MoU) between Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA) and Deakin University for work on the same project.
The companies officially sealed the deal at the Land Forces International Land Defence Expo that occurred in Brisbane this week.
HDA is seeking to leverage 4Zero’s specialist experience in AI and internet of things technologies to improve their current satellite communications offerings.
It will also look to its Korean-based sister company Hanwha Systems, a division of the massive Hanwha Corporation, to provide international solutions and cooperation for the satellite communications project.
Speaking about the deal, the managing director of HDA, Richard Cho, said, “LEO SATCOMs is an exciting space, and we are partnering with some of Australia’s leading companies in this domain.”
“Our recent familiarisation trip to Korea with these organisations was a great chance for everyone to see how we can work together, not just in Australia but more widely,” he said.
Representatives from 4Zero joined HDA on their trip to Korea, including Bela Farbas, CEO of the company.
“Our visit to Hanwha Systems in Korea presented several exciting opportunities for collaboration between our organisations,” Farbas said.
“The 4Zero team are pleased to collaborate with Hanwha Defense Australia and Hanwha Systems on a new generation of battlespace communication and interoperability capabilities,” he added.
For their part, Hanwha Systems, the Korean arm of the Hanwha Corporation’s defence portfolio, has shown a clear intention to work more closely with their Australian counterpart, HDA. The pair signed an MoU with international satellite operator OneWeb at the Farnborough Airshow with a plan to move into the Australian defence market.
The vice president of Hanwha Systems, Juntae Ko, commented on the deal.
“We hope that we will be able to take a step forward to participate in the Australian military tactical communication business through strategic partnerships with Australian companies with technological competitiveness.
“We will do our best to create great results for Australian-Korean militaries and companies through this agreement,” Ko said. (Source: Space Connect)
06 Oct 22. Space Development Agency awards low Earth orbit experiment contracts. The Space Development Agency is building out its experimentation capabilities, choosing two companies this week to help test new technology on orbit.SDA announced Oct. 4 it chose Colorado-based Ball Aerospace to build and operate its National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed, or NExT, and provide an initial 10 satellites that will launch in fiscal 2024. The agency awarded the company a prototype agreement worth up to $176m. NExT offers a platform for SDA to test and refine new sensor technology over time as threats advanced and warfighter needs change.
The second award was made Oct. 6 to Colorado-based York Space Systems, which is being acquired by private equity firm AE Industrial Partners. Under the $200 million SDA deal, the company will deliver 12 space vehicles as part of the agency’s Tranche 1 Demonstration and Experimentation Satellites effort.
The T1DES systems are scheduled to launch in fiscal 2025 in support of the agency’s Transport Layer, a network of communication satellites that can pass information and send data to users on the ground.
Both contracts will support the SDA’s vision to create a constellation of hundreds of satellites operating in low Earth orbit, residing 1,200 miles or less above the planet’s surface. SDA is launching those satellites in “tranches,” each of which will not only offer additional capacity, but new technology. Along with the transport systems, the agency is developing missile warning space vehicles as part of its Tracking Layer.
SDA Director Derek Tournear told reporters Oct. 6 that experimentation efforts like these will play an important role in helping the agency ensure the technology it provides to military users is actually meeting their needs. If T1DES experimentation goes well, he said, the technology could be included in future Transport Layer tranches and the 12 satellites could be used operationally.
Tournear noted that the NExT payloads, which will be provided by other government agencies rather than contractors, are higher risk than T1DES. The goal there, he said, is to reduce that risk and determine whether the technology could be viable for SDA satellites in the future.
The experiments will focus not only on payload capabilities, but will also answer important questions about whether those systems can be launched in large quantities and how they might integrate with command-and-control equipment on the ground.
SDA is scheduled to launch its first tranche of tracking and transport satellites in December, a three-month delay from its original plan due largely to supply chain issues and a 2020 bid protest. Asked how the agency is mitigating supplier concerns as it builds out its capability layers, Tournear said it’s a persistent challenge.
“Every day we continue to chase down gremlins to make sure that we can get the parts and the labor needed to deliver on time,” he said. “It’s an ongoing issue. I think it’s going to be an ongoing issue.”
Tournear said that as companies strengthen their subcontractor base and SDA establishes a regular cadence of launching one batch of satellites and releasing solicitations for the next, he thinks supply chain issues will level out. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Oct 22. First launch from the UK. The UK will soon become the first country to launch satellites into orbit from Europe.
The first ever orbital satellite launch from the UK is happening soon, marking a new era in the UK’s space history.
Launches are part of the UK’s commercial spaceflight programme, meeting goals set out in the government’s National Space Strategy.
Read more about our vision for establishing and promoting launch from the UK.
How the launch will work
The first launch will take place from Spaceport Cornwall in the south-west of England. It will be what is known as a ‘horizontal launch’.
A specially modified Boeing 747 from Virgin Orbit called Cosmic Girl, with a rocket attached under its wing, will take off from a runway. In flight, the LauncherOne rocket will launch from the wing, taking multiple small satellites into orbit.
The plane will then return to the Spaceport, able to launch more satellites in future.
Spaceport Cornwall is situated at Newquay Airport, near the coast of Cornwall. The 747 will fly out over the sea and launch its rocket far away from populated areas.
Why launch from the UK
The UK has a growing space sector, which employs 47,000 people. UK space companies have a strong track record in satellite manufacturing, spacecraft design and data applications. In fact, Glasgow builds more satellites than anywhere outside the United States. Soon we’ll be able to launch them from the UK too.
The UK is also located relatively far north, which means it’s perfect for launching satellites into polar and Sun-synchronous orbits, which go over the north and south poles. These orbits are ideal for satellites that monitor the Earth and provide telecommunications.
With a long coastline and many islands, the UK offers a range of suitable locations for launching rockets safely out over the sea – away from settlements and people.
What are we launching
Several small satellites will be launched into orbit on the first UK launch.
The satellites will do many different things, including improving navigation and communications.
Several of the satellites have been built in the UK, including a research satellite from RHEA Group, which was built by Open Cosmos in Oxfordshire.
The first Welsh satellite will also be on the launch, from Cardiff-based Space Forge. It will test the process of using the unique microgravity environment of space to manufacture special materials that are much more difficult to make on Earth.
What benefits will it bring
Launch services are worth a potential £3.8 bn to the UK economy over the next decade.
UK spaceports will need new skills, supply chains and supporting services, creating high-skilled jobs and opportunities across the country. For example, Spaceport Cornwall and the Centre for Space Technologies expect to create 150 jobs.
Through initiatives such as our LogoLiftOff! and Nanosat Design competitions, the UK Space Agency is also harnessing launch as a platform to encourage young people to pursue STEM subjects in order to help grow the UK’s future space talent pipeline.
Safety and the environment
Safety, security and protection of the environment are top priorities for the UK government.
We have progressive regulations for launch which make it safe for the public and protect the environment, while allowing new technologies to be used as they are developed.
The government is very careful about the impact launches have on the environment and won’t allow launches to happen before a detailed assessment of their environmental effects has been done.
Rocket launches do release some CO2 and other by-products, but they take place infrequently and the satellites being launched bring significant benefits.
Half of the data we need to monitor climate change can only come from satellites – so it’s vital to get them into space.
UK rocket manufacturers are also working to make rocket launches better for the environment, including turning unrecyclable plastic waste and even beeswax into rocket fuel! (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Oct 22. Space Force awards rapid satellite launch demonstration contracts. Millennium, Firefly selected for Tactically Responsive Space Systems mission. The U.S. Space Force said it awarded contracts to Millennium Space Systems and Firefly Space Transport Services to support a 2023 mission that will demonstrate the ability to rapidly develop and launch a satellite.
Small satellite company Millennium Space Systems will deliver the on-orbit and ground segments for the mission, dubbed VICTUS NOX, and Firefly will provide the launch service, according to the Sept. 30 statement. The Space Force and Millennium told C4ISRNET the value of the company’s award is “undisclosed at this time.” Firefly said its contract is valued at $17.6m.
VICTUS NOX is part of the service’s Tactically Responsive Space program, run by the Space Safari office and seeks to demonstrate the ability to rapidly execute an end-to-end mission in response to operational needs. The program flew its first mission last summer on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket, which carried an experimental space domain awareness satellite.
That effort set records for acquisition and fielding timelines, completing the development process in 11 months — a feat that usually takes two to five years. The program then executed a 21-day call-up period during which it retrieved the payload, integrated it with the launch vehicle and sent it to orbit.
For VICTUS NOX, Latin for “conquer the night,” Space Safari wants to compress that timeline even further by reducing the call-up period to just 24 hours. The payload for this mission will be an operational space domain awareness sensor. Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, materiel leader for Space Safari, told C4ISRNET in June the effort represents a shift for the program from focusing on launch to looking more closely at supporting elements of responsive space.
Meanwhile, the service is crafting a comprehensive strategy for responsive space after Congress mandated a report in the Fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. While officials say the Space Force recognizes the need for on-demand, rapid launch, it hasn’t prioritized the program in its budget request. The Space Force has yet to request funding for Tactically Responsive Space, relying instead on Congress to appropriate money each year, including $15m in fiscal 2020, $50m in fiscal 2021 and another $50m in fiscal 2022. (Source: Defense News)
04 Oct 22. Space Machines Company partners with antenna manufacturer. Space Machines Company (SMC) has partnered with French antenna manufacturer ANYWAVES to support their Roll Out mission, which is set to launch in Q2 2023. ANYWAVES will be providing the Australian Space Machines Company with antenna equipment to optimise communications to the ground stations during their Roll Out mission.
The antenna will be used to control the satellite, send instructions and maintain a communication link with ground control during critical phases of the mission.
SpaceX has been chosen as the launch provider for the mission, which will see SMC test its 270-kilogram Optimus orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) in 2023.
Critical telemetry data, as well as experimental data, will now be able to be broadcast via the new S-Band antennas.
The purpose of the Roll Out mission is for the OTV to obtain flight qualification and show a demonstrable test of its capabilities
“We are delighted to have been chosen by Space Machines Company as a trusted partner for their very first launch. This partnership is a significant moment for ANYWAVES as we take our first step into the Australian market, opening the doors to future long-lasting collaboration with this space-faring nation,” said Dr Nicolas Capet, ANYWAVES’ CEO.
SMC is the leading in-space transportation and logistics company in Australia. Its mission is to create a space taxi or ride-share service by providing a range of reusable orbital transport vehicles to suit satellite missions of other space companies in Australia and around the world. Optimus will be their first OTV.
The OTV will operate in low-Earth orbit and will allow for rockets to carry satellites to their location in orbit. The OTV will then use in-space propulsion to transport those satellites to their desired location.
The goal of the OTC is to create a more efficient and flexible mode of space transport, with a long-term focus on helping to maintain a human presence in space.
Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO of Space Machines Company, spoke about the deal with ANYWAVES.
“As we approach our first launch in 2023 and start the assembly, integration and testing phase for our spacecraft, we are very pleased to announce this partnership with ANYWAVES.
“Space Machines already has strong partnerships across the world, and this collaboration with a French company is another milestone towards our first mission and a great example of cooperation with the European supply chain.”
03 Oct 22. Intelsat Announces Scheduled Launch of Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 Satellites.
- Serving television and mobility customers
Intelsat is planning a satellite launch Oct. 6 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 are geosynchronous communications satellites that will ensure service continuity to Intelsat’s North American customers as part of Intelsat’s Galaxy fleet refresh plan.
Galaxy 33 will be the replacement satellite at 133 degrees west once it is in service in November. The satellite will provide service continuity for distribution to cable headends throughout the United States. With full C-band capabilities in addition to steerable Ka-band and Ku-band beams, Galaxy 33 is part of a comprehensive plan to upgrade the entire Intelsat Galaxy fleet – already the most efficient media distribution system in North America.
Galaxy 34 will replace Galaxy 12 at 129 degrees west once it is in service in late 2022. This satellite will serve as the new restoration payload for Intelsat’s Galaxy cable distribution customers, allowing the previous restoration role at 121 degrees west to be converted to a core cable distribution satellite. (Source: ASD Network)
30 Sep 22. South Korea seeks $32.9m to launch satellites grounded by Russia sanctions. South Korea’s science ministry plans to set aside 47.2bn won ($32.9m) in next year’s budget to launch two satellites that have been left grounded because of Western sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine. Once the requested budget is endorsed by congress, the ministry will nix the existing launch contracts with Russia and make a “package deal” with a launch company in the United States or Europe for the two satellites: CAS500-2 remote sensing satellite and KOMPSAT-6 multipurpose satellite.
Rep. Park Wan-joo revealed this Sept. 28 based on information he had secured from the ministry that manages South Korea’s space programs. According to the lawmaker, the ministry seeks 37.4bn won ($26.1m) for KOMPSAT-6 and 9.82bn won ($6.86m) for CAS500-2.
“Under consideration are launch companies in the U.S. and EU,” the ministry said in a document sent to the lawmaker, “Once the requested budget is endorsed by the congress, we will revoke the existing contracts with Russia, and then sign a new contract with a launch service provider in a manner that we have done so far.”
While the ministry didn’t specify launch companies it wants to talk with, reports indicate that the ministry would choose one between SpaceX and Arianespace. The ministry’s spokesman refused to comment on the issue. In August, Kwon Hyun-joon, a senior science ministry officer, told SpaceNews that the two satellites’ launch would be conducted by a single company under a “package deal” with the Korean government.
The CAS500-2 spacecraft, built mainly by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), was supposed to launch in the first half of this year on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan under a 2017 contract with GK Launch Services. The KOMPSAT-6 satellite, co-developed by KAI, LIG Nex1 and Airbus Defence and Space, was due to fly in the second half of the year on a Russian Angara rocket from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. Yet, the plan went awry with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
On top of this, the document shows the ministry has found it “almost impossible” to get back from Russia the 47.2bn won ($32.9m) it already paid for the launch of three satellites this year, including CAS500-2 and KOMPSAT-6. The remaining one is a set of nanosatellites called SNIPE. The ministry paid 28.7bn won ($20m) for KOMPSAT-6, 17.4bn won ($12.15m) for CAS500-2, and 1.1bn won ($760,000) for SNIPE. The ministry said the existing contracts with Russia contain a clause allowing the contracts to be revoked without or limited reimbursement when a “force majeure” occurs, though it didn’t give further details. The ministry sees the ongoing war as something that would leave Russia fully immune from reimbursement. The ministry plans to nix the contracts for CAS500-2 and KOMPSAT-6 regardless of the possibility of requesting any reimbursement, while keeping the contract for SNIPE in place, hoping it would enable another Korean satellite to launch on a Russian rocket in the future. (Source: glstrade.com/Space News)
03 Oct 22. New year, new boss: Pentagon satellite agency joins Space Force. With the start of the federal government’s new fiscal year, and as required by law, the Space Development Agency formally transitioned into the U.S. Space Force on Oct. 1.
SDA was created in 2019 to oversee development of a new kind of satellite architecture that relies less on large satellites based in high orbits and more on small, proliferated spacecraft residing in low Earth orbit, about 22,000 miles above the planet’s surface.
The agency has, until now, been under the purview of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Congress mandated in the Fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that SDA become part of the Space Force in fiscal 2023 in an effort to align space acquisition under the Space Force. So, as of this weekend, SDA Director Derek Tournear now reports directly to the service’s acquisition executive, Frank Calvelli, for capability development and procurement matters. The agency will report to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond for personnel and other issues.
Calvelli and other service officials have embraced SDA’s acquisition plan to build and launch large constellations of satellites and refresh that technology every two years, a concept called spiral development. The service’s posture marks a significant shift from three years ago, when Air Force leaders publicly fought the organization’s establishment, criticizing its mission as redundant.
“SDA will be key to rapidly delivering space capability to our warfighters,” Calvelli said in an Oct. 1 statement. “SDA’s proliferated LEO constellation, as an integral part of the Space Force’s force design, brings resiliency, accelerated capability delivery through spiral development and rapid technology refresh.”
Speaking Sept. 20 during the Air, Space and Cyber conference in National Harbor, Md., Calvelli said the Space Force wants to apply SDA’s approach across its acquisition portfolio as a way to speed program development and make its satellite architectures more resilient.
Congress has also shown increasing support for SDA, and in fiscal 2022 appropriated about $1.2bn for the agency, $550m more than it requested.
Tournear told reporters during a Sept. 21 briefing at the ASC conference that while he was initially “apprehensive” about becoming part of the Space Force, he’s warmed up to the idea.
“It’s clear that we are getting a lot of support from the Space Force,” he said. “The Space Force is behind us, and I’m actually confident that we’re going to be able to continue to push hard.”
Any differences in SDA’s near-term operations will be minimal, Tournear said. Personnel will move to a new office at the Pentagon and their paychecks will now come from the Space Force, he said, but the chain of command within the organization will stay the same and he doesn’t expect any personnel changes.
The agency’s first time seeking Calvelli’s sign-off on its acquisition plans will come in March, Tournear noted, when SDA’s Warfighter Integration Council meets to discuss what baseline capabilities it wants from its next batch of satellites. Those meetings are held every six months and will continue at that cadence, he said.
“I don’t anticipate any major change there, but that’s the first time when you’ll see that at that point, we will get approvals through the Space Force versus through [the Office of the Secretary of Defense,]” Tournear said.
SDA had expected to launch its first batch, or “tranche,” of satellites this month but supply chain delays linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and a 2020 bid protest have pushed that timeline to December. The mission will include missile warning satellites that are part of SDA’s Tranche 0 Tracking Layer and communication satellites supporting the agency’s Tranche 0 Transport Layer. (Source: Defense News)
03 Oct 22. Responsible space behaviours: the UK commits not to destructively test direct ascent anti-satellite missiles.
The UK government made a statement today, committing not to destructively test direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles.
UK government statement on responsible space behaviours:
The UK has today, 3 October, announced that it commits not to destructively test direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles, as part of the UK’s enduring efforts to promote responsible space behaviours.
Space has a vital role for global prosperity, development and security. Space systems have become integrated into global infrastructure upon which modern life depends.
The destructive testing of DA-ASAT missiles can create dangerous space debris, which threatens the functioning of these systems and can put at risk those who explore space, as well as being potentially destabilising.
Given our increasing security and socio-economic reliance on space, we believe that destructive testing of direct ascent anti-satellite missiles can be conclusively regarded as irresponsible.
DA ASAT missile testing is one of a number of threats to space systems. Several countries already possess a broad range of counter-space capabilities that can threaten all segments of space systems – on the ground, in space and the signals between them.
The UK is leading the international debate at the United Nations to tackle space threats. A UK-sponsored resolution on 30 December 2021 (A/RES/76/231), established an open-ended working group (OEWG) make recommendations on norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours relating to threats by States to space systems. The UK is actively participating in the OEWG, which will conclude its work in August 2023. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
30 Sep 22. Rocket Lab to fire up first tests of new engine next year – CEO. Launch company Rocket Lab (RKLB.O) by next year plans to conduct initial hot-fire tests of a new, more powerful engine that will power its next-generation Neutron rocket, the company’s chief executive told Reuters.
The Long Beach, California-based company routinely launches small satellites into space with its small workhorse Electron rocket. In December, it unveiled a bigger, reusable Neutron rocket, upping its competitive footing with larger vehicles from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).
“We’ll start to see tanks roll out of the factory by the end of this year,” Rocket Lab USA Inc Chief Executive Peter Beck said in an interview on Wednesday, referring to the first carbon composite molds of Neutron’s booster stages.
“We’ve got preburner tests planned very shortly, then get into full scale hot fires next year,” he said of Neutron’s liquid oxygen- and methane-fueled engines, named Archimedes.
A handful of small rocket-launching companies like Rocket Lab are pivoting to larger rockets as customer demand trends toward launching many satellites at once instead of individual satellites on small, dedicated launch vehicles.
Rocket Lab aims to fly Neutron for the first time in 2024. Beck said engineers are focused on development and declined to discuss specifics on customer interest.
But he noted that a number of large satellite constellations, such as Amazon’s Project Kuiper, are expected to be ready for orbital deployment around that time. He said Neutron would be a suitable vehicle for launching those types of satellites.
“Naturally there’s a tremendous amount of interest in the vehicle,” he said.
Rocket Lab went public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in August 2021, unlocking $777 m in gross cash proceeds. Of that total, $250 m has been devoted to Neutron development, Beck said.
The rest of those funds enabled key acquisitions that have made up Rocket Lab’s space systems business, which accounted for 66 percent of second-quarter revenue this year.
At the Long Beach headquarters, Rocket Lab completed construction of a shiny new 10,000 square-foot (930 square- meter) satellite manufacturing facility, primarily to build 17 satellite busses for Globalstar Inc’s (GSAT.A) next-generation constellation. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) will leverage that satellite network to enhance satellite connectivity directly to iPhones, an ambitious plan announced this month.
Rocket Lab also is pressing ahead with plans to turn Electron into a partially reusable rocket to cut costs. Before year’s end, Beck said, it aims to make a second attempt at catching a falling Electron first-stage booster out of the sky with a helicopter. (Source: Reuters)
27 Sep 22. The launch of the SES-20 + SES-21 by ULA now delayed due to Hurricane Ian. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch of the SES-20 and SES-21 mission is delayed due to potential impacts from Hurricane Ian.
Both satellites are integrated to the launch vehicle and safely secured within the Vehicle Integration Facility at SLC-41. Pending range approval, the next launch attempt is scheduled for October 4 at 5:36 p.m. EDT.
ULA is currently on track to support the September 30 launch attempt of the SES-20 and SES-21 mission and is working closely with Space Launch Delta 45 to monitor Hurricane Ian. As of this writing, there are no planned closures of or impacts to ULA facilities at Cape Canaveral; however, we will provide updates as conditions change.
The mission is planned to lift off on Friday, September 30 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Launch is planned for 5:36 p.m. EDT. The forecast shows a 20 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.
Launch Forecast Summary:
- Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 80%
- Primary concerns: Ground Winds, Cumulus Cloud Rule, Surface Electric Fields Rule
- Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24-hour delay: 30%
- Primary concern: Cumulus Cloud Rule, Ground Winds (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 22. ULA Delta IV Heavy dispatches the national security enveloped NROL-91 to orbit for Space Systems Command (SSC) + the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the NROL-91 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off on September 24 at 3:25 p.m., PDT, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Space Force Base. To date ULA has launched 153 times with 100 percent mission success.
The Mobile Service Tower (MST) rolls back from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NRO’s NROL-91 mission in preparation for launch from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance
“The NRO has been, and continues to be, a phenomenal partner through 32 collaborative launch campaigns, stemming from ULA’s very first launch in 2006,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “This mission was ULA’s 96th National Security mission and the NRO’s 10th mission on board a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle – a history that we are very proud of.”
“This was also ULA’s 95th Delta mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base and our fifth and final Delta IV Heavy from the West Coast, completing a long, successful tenure of delivering critical national security payloads,” added Wentz. “We look forward to preparing Space Launch Complex-3 for future Vulcan flights from the West Coast.”
ULA’s next launch is a commercial launch of the SES-20 and SES-21 mission, planned for September 30 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
ULA’s Delta IV Heavy has launched the NRO’s heaviest satellites for more than a decade and is set to retire in 2024, making room for ULA’s new rocket, the Vulcan. By that time, the Heavy will have placed approximately 28 national security satellites on orbit. (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 22. SpaceX again successfully launches 52 Starlinks with thousands more planned. SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket carrying 52 Starlink spacecraft lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Saturday at 7:32 p.m. EDT (2332 GMT).
Following stage separation, the first stage landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched SES-22 and two Starlink missions.
This launch now brings the total to nearly 3,400 Starlink satellites and plans to launch thousands more starting next year when SpaceX will begin launching Starlink Version 2 satellites.
The Version 2 satellites will be much bigger and more capable than the current version. V2 spacecraft will be able to beam connectivity directly to smartphones, and will do so for T-Mobile customers via a project called “Coverage Above and Beyond,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced last month. (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 22. Outpost’s successful flight tests could disrupt future of satellite operations with autonomous paragliders re-entry system in reusable satellites.
Michael Vergalla, CTO of Outpost, presented a paper during a technical session at IACon regarding the findings of Outpost’s two successful flight tests on a breakthrough technology of an autonomous paraglider re-entry system to enable industry-leading payload Earth return capabilities from orbit. The tests, conducted in April 2022, are a huge milestone for Outpost in creating a technology that will disrupt the future of satellite operations.
The autonomous high altitude paraglider system enables Outpost to achieve precision landing accuracy of its satellite system and customer payloads. This is meaningful because all enterprise-class spacecraft experience a 100km or more error dispersion when entering the atmosphere, making conventional low-altitude deployment of parachutes incapable of a precise and pre-coordinated landing. “Nobody has flown a high-performance robotic paraglider from these altitudes anywhere in the world before,” says Outpost founder and CTO, Michael Vergalla. “These flight tests provide us with valuable insights on vehicle performance and control and contribute to our leading position in this novel technology development and application. We have the edge in understanding how this technology works in a new environment and in unpredictable weather.”
Outpost conducted two flight tests to 26 km and 21km respectively. The first test the system was brought to altitude and tested flight modes, environmental survival, and tracking. The second test released the payload under drogue and transitioned to gliding flight shortly after. The total distance from launch to landing was 181 km. The vehicle successfully navigated to its waypoints as it flew and made a soft landing along the flight path where it was recovered by the team. These flight tests close an important set of risk reduction measures to move forward towards Outposts first orbital flight missions and Earth return. (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 22. Marlink adds Starlink connectivity to their maritime + enterprise customer offerings. Marlink has added SpaceX’s Starlink service to the firm’s offerings, strengthening the company’s connectivity solutions portfolio for maritime and enterprise customers.
Marlink and OmniAccess will leverage Starlink to complement their portfolio of smart network solutions and services globally. Under the agreement, Marlink and OmniAccess will act as global “authorized Starlink integrators” for maritime and enterprise customers.
Marlink’s integration of Starlink with existing highly reliable VSAT, LTE (4G/5G) and terrestrial connectivity solutions will result in a seamless user experience. Marlink and OmniAccess will orchestrate the different connectivity paths to provide their extensive global customer base with unmatched communications network solutions that will substantially improve customers’ business-critical applications, passenger communications, and crew and remote workers’ welfare.
“This ability to use Starlink is giant step in our strategy to provide our customers with the best-in-class user experience, combining our industry-leading GEO satellite connectivity solutions with the next generation LEO high-speed, low-latency services,” said Erik Ceuppens, CEO, Marlink Group. “We are looking forward to working with SpaceX to integrate Starlink as part of our smart network solutions, creating a superior global connectivity service for our extensive maritime and enterprise customer base across the world.”
“Adding Starlink to its offerings will bring a new dimension of connectivity to Marlink’s global customer base,” said SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Sales, Jonathan Hofeller. “This low-latency, high-bandwidth broadband experience will allow enterprise and maritime customers to manage their remote businesses more efficiently than ever before.” (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 22. GMV, FrontierSI, Ericsson and Optus prove 5G-based High Accuracy Positioning. GMV, FrontierSI, Ericsson and Optus and industry demonstration partners Kondinin, Platfarm and Position Partners have joined their efforts to demonstrate 5G LTE Positioning Protocol (LPP) capabilities in field trials as part of the 5G Positioning Testbed, a project funded under the Australian Government 5G Innovation Initiative.
The results achieved by the project are considered a key step forward for the use of 5G technology for high accuracy positioning. The testbed demonstrated each of the high accuracy GNSS-based LPP working modes, including Observation Space Representation (OSR), State Space Representation (SSR), and SSR with atmospheric corrections, integrated directly with user equipment supplied by demonstration partners to examine a variety of real-world applications. The field trials demonstrated that the solution can reach centimeter-level accuracy with fast convergence times using a commercial off-the-shelf receiver and antenna hardware.
GNSS Precise Positioning is the most common technology currently used to calculate an absolute positioning solution at the user level. For uses requiring centimeter level accuracy, it is often required to provide GNSS corrections to reduce the typical errors existing in the broadcast navigation message and positioning calculation.
In recent years, the distribution of GNSS corrections is based on either the broadcast of Precise Point Positioning (PPP) corrections through GEO satellites over the L-band, or the point-to-point transmission of Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) corrections using NTRIP through the Internet. Both options have their drawbacks; GEO satellite broadcast requires complex ground infrastructure and can be expensive to maintain, while NTRIP distribution has poor scalability due to the point-to-point connections required for every user.
3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) the standards organization focusing on 5G LPP, has recently introduced the support of OSR corrections for RTK users in Release 15, and the support of SSR plus atmospheric corrections for PPP/PPP-RTK users in Release 16. Support for these two approaches to high accuracy GNSS positioning have increased interest in 5G LPP as a potential alternative to existing correction services.
Service providers and positioning consumers can now consider the use of 5G LPP as a supporting technology in the provision of new positioning services directly through mobile networks.The 5G Positioning Testbed has achieved end-to-end demonstrations of high-accuracy positioning solutions using GMV’s Corrections Service and Positioning Engine, delivered through the Optus 5G network using Ericsson network technology, to user equipment designed and operated by FrontierSI.
Field trials were conducted in Australia by the project demonstration partners operating in their respective industries and involved real-world scenarios across three areas where precise positioning is a key and challenging component: precision agriculture, drone operation and augmented reality.
This end-to-end solution was made possible through close collaboration between the Technology partners, GMV, FrontierSI, Optus and Ericsson. Ericsson has supported the trial with its 5G network technology: Ericsson’s 5G network technology sits at the center of this 5G Precise Positioning Testbed trial, the first of its kind in Australia and Southeast Asia. The proof of concept (POC) trial sees the Ericsson 5G infrastructure in Optus’ national network act as the data conduit between the global positioning correction service provided by GMV, which taps into the global navigation satellite system (GNSS).
Ericsson’s positioning and assistance data distribution system employs the corrected GNSS global positioning information to provide highly accurate location data for the testbed trial being carried out by FrontierSI, enabling end users to achieve location positioning accuracy through their mobile network of under ten centimeters using supported devices.
This trial contributes to enabling the mass market adoption of the high precision positioning, based on scalable distribution of the assistance data, and allows the cellular operator to offer this as a service to a subscribing device. The performance obtained in this project shows the potential for 5G LPP as a future infrastructure for the distribution of corrections data required by a wide range of demanding industrial applications, with particular promise for IOT and system automation use cases.
“The successful proof of 5G LPP in field testing combined with the expected growth of the 5G networks in the coming years are a vector for a future change in the way high-accuracy GNSS services are provided. 5G LPP closes the gap between GNSS high accuracy positioning providers and users making the service quickly and easily accessible for new ms of users,” said David Calle, High Accuracy Service Manager at GMV. (Source: Satnews)
29 Sep 22. Lynk to fly world’s first cellular 5G from space payload.
Lynk Global, Inc. (Lynk), the world’s leading satellite-direct-to-standard-phone telecoms company, will fly the world’s first 5G cellular base station in space in a first-of-its-kind demonstration. This test will demonstrate the ability to send a 5G signal from space to standard mobile devices on Earth. The test has been funded by an undisclosed partner.
Charles Miller, CEO and co-founder of Lynk, said “Lynk’s fast development cycle, combined with our unique patented and proven technology to connect satellites in orbit to standard mobile phones on Earth, allows Lynk to quickly build and test the world’s most advanced cellular technologies in space.”
Lynk is the only company in the world to demonstrate satellite-direct-to-standard-mobile-phone technology. Earlier this month, Lynk received the world’s first satellite-direct-to-phone commercial license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Lynk has also patented the ability to connect to existing standard 5G devices on Earth, with no change to the 5G device, in 55 countries. The 5G payload will launch in December 2022 on Lynk’s second commercial satellite.
Dan Dooley, chief commercial officer of Lynk, said, “Lynk is years ahead of everyone else in enabling MNOs to extend their cellular networks to 100% of their geographic territories. We will be years ahead in 5G as well. We are actively testing satellite-direct-to-phone-services in 12 countries on five continents. Recent events have only accelerated Lynk’s progress not only technically as well as commercially with MNO partners.”
Lynk has adopted design and development processes that enable the company to rapidly incorporate new technologies, such as this experimental 5G payload, in addition to the existing GSM and LTE base stations for the MNOs that are under contract. Lynk’s software-designed radios can switch between 2G and 4G for our MNO partners and in the future, will be able to switch to 5G when our MNO partners and other customers prefer that over 4G. (Source: Satnews)
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