Sponsored By Viasat
03 Nov 22. Rivada Space Networks Issues RFP for its Satellite Constellation.
- RSN to launch a constellation of 600 ultra-secure, networked low-earth orbit satellites
- Constellation deployment starts in 2024 with global coverage by 2026 and full deployment expected by mid-2028
- Unique network combines satellite and terrestrial capabilities for ultra-low latency, high speed, unparalleled security and true global coverage
- Telecom, Enterprise, Maritime, Energy and Government Services markets
Rivada Space Networks GmbH, a European network company launching a unique connectivity constellation for Government and Enterprise communications, today announced that it has issued its request for proposals for 600 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, having released the RFP for the associated heavy-lift launch services two weeks ago. The company anticipates selecting a prime contractor for the space segment, parts of the ground segment and system integration for the LEO constellation by the end of 2022 in parallel to the selection of the launch service provider.
Recognizing that the business world is increasingly data-driven, cloud-based and cybersecurity conscious and that existing systems do not and cannot meet these needs, wireless technology entrepreneur Declan Ganley formed Rivada Space Networks to deliver a unique solution for secure, global, end-to-end enterprise and government connectivity – responding to specific customer needs that are not being met by today’s technology.
For the first time, Rivada Space Networks will offer access to a secure satellite network with pole-to-pole reach, offering end-to-end latencies similar or better than terrestrial fiber. The Rivada network will operate like an optical backbone in space, using lasers to interconnect satellites and deliver an ultra-secure and highly reliable global data network for business operations in the telecom, enterprise, maritime, energy and government services markets.
Since formally launching in March 2022, Rivada Space Networks has been on a fast-track mission to complete the detailed definition of the overall system architecture and provide the production and deployment framework needed to place a firm contract for the constellation and associated launch services. The preceding phase B study concluded that the procurement plan will successfully fulfill the requirements associated with the company’s high priority ITU Ka-band filings. With a contract for manufacturing and launch in place by the end of 2022, deployment will start in 2024, with 300 satellites in orbit by mid-2026 and full constellation deployment expected by mid-2028.
Clemens Kaiser, Rivada Space Networks Chief Program Officer, said: “Following a rigorous process with a number of leading satellite manufacturers, we are delighted that today we have completed another major milestone in the specification and development of our unique constellation to enable secure, global connectivity for governments and enterprises. The key attributes of RSN’s laser-linked LEO constellation architecture include global reach, low latency, ultra-security, resilience and optional quantum key encryption.” He added: “We have worked tirelessly to ensure that our system comprises the best the satellite industry has to offer. We are really looking forward to moving to the next phase of our program to manufacture and deploy our LEO constellation.”
Severin Meister, Rivada Space Networks CEO, further added: “RSN is a German ‘NewSpace’ innovator and disruptor. I am incredibly proud of what our team has achieved in such a short time frame. Over the course of the past eight months we have completed the design of our satellite system and grown our teams in Munich and Berlin to further develop the technical, commercial and regulatory competencies of the company. With over 60 people today, we anticipate expanding further to over 100 people by the end of Q1 2023 and are on track to execute our vision of providing the first truly global point-to-point low latency connectivity network.” Meister added: “Initial customers are showing great interest, which confirms that we will occupy a much-needed niche. This is the German NewSpace company to watch!”
Rivada Space Networks Founder Declan Ganley said: “I am thrilled that we have completed this important milestone. This is a unique satellite network in terms of security, speed and global reach.” He added: “Our constellation in combination with our patented Open Access Wireless Market Platform allows us to offer a network with unprecedented flexibility. It will be instrumental in driving the next leg of the ongoing communications revolution. Having recently joined the ITU Partner2Connect digital inclusion initiative and the EU’s multi-stakeholder Secure Connectivity Program, we are committed to providing a secure communications infrastructure like no other for Government and Enterprise.”
*Rivada Space Networks Chief Program Officer Clemens Kaiser and Chief Commercial Officer Ronald van der Breggen, will be outlining Rivada’s ultra-secure connectivity network at SpaceTechExpo from 15th-17th November in Bremen:
About Rivada Space Networks (www.rivadaspace.com)
Rivada Space Networks GmbH is a disruptive new company set to establish and operate the first truly global low latency point-to-point connectivity network of LEO satellites. By connecting its satellites with lasers, Rivada Space Networks will provide resellers and B2B customers with the ability to securely connect any two points on the globe with low latency and high bandwidth. The constellation of 600 low-earth-orbit communications satellites will represent a fundamental change in the availability of secure, global, end-to-end enterprise-grade connectivity for Telecom, Enterprise, Maritime, Energy and Government Services markets. Rivada Space Networks is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rivada Networks, Inc. www.rivadaspace.com (Source: PR Newswire)
03 Nov 22. Rocket Lab plans to catch its Electron rocket with a helicopter. This will be the second time Rocket Lab will attempt this mid-air recovery manoeuvre. The first attempt back in May was aborted shortly after the helicopter hook made contact with the rocket’s parachute.
Named “Catch Me If You Can”, the mission will be launching from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 Pad B on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
The mission’s payload is a scientific research satellite constructed by Swedish space system manufacturer OHB Sweden for the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA).
The satellite will be used by the SNSA to investigate atmospheric waves and the interaction of the Earth’s upper atmosphere with weather and wind patterns closer to the ground.
Dubbed MATS, short for Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy, the satellite was originally meant to launch on a Russian rocket. The plan was scrapped by the Swedish government after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While the payload being safely delivered to orbit is the key focus of the mission, the real highlight will be Rocket Lab’s attempt to catch the first stage of the Electron rocket.
A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter will be used as the recovery vehicle, dangling a hook that is hoped to catch the parachute line attached to the rocket stage.
The team at Rocket Lab chose a mid-air recovery strategy over a propulsive landing, like the kind demonstrated by SpaceX’s Falcon 9, due to the small size of the Electron rocket making it unfeasible.
CEO and founder of Rocket Lab Peter Beck spoke about the upcoming launch and the company’s previous attempt to recover a rocket mid-air.
“Our first helicopter catch only a few months ago proved we can do what we set out to do with Electron, and we’re eager to get the helicopter back out there and advance our rocket reusability even further by bringing back a dry stage for the first time.”
Beck also outlined how the team’s work on recovering Electron has fast-tracked the development of the recovery technology for Neutron, the company’s upcoming larger reusable rocket.
“We learned so much on re-entering Electrons and going through the process of reusability that, if we had just gone straight to Neutron as a reusable vehicle without learning all of those super tough lessons, it would’ve been ugly.” (Source: Space Connect)
03 Nov 22. Fugro opens remote operations hub in Perth. Fugro, an international geodata company, has today opened a remote operations centre for space automation, AI and robotics in Perth.
Officially named the Australian Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC), the centre is intended for testing and training the control of autonomous and remote operations.
Designed to push the limits of autonomous operations both in space and in harsh environments here on Earth, the centre is the first of its kind in Australia.
The director of SpAARC, Sam Forbes, said that the opening of the centre will provide a basic foundation for operational capabilities that will underpin future Australian and global space missions.
“SpAARC is foundational infrastructure for the next phase of Australia’s space capability development,” Forbes said.
“It builds on and extends Fugro’s already impressive remote operations capability and will help to further diversify the Australian economy.”
Fugro itself is one of the world’s largest operators of remote and semi-autonomous vehicles, with a fleet of uncrewed vehicles that undertake subsea inspection, offshore construction support, as well as hydrographic and geophysical surveys.
The company is a founding member of the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE) consortium, an industry-led organisation formed to spearhead the development of remote operations development in the resource and space industries.
AROSE CEO Leanne Cunnold spoke about the critical importance of SpAARC for Australia’s growing reputation in the remote operations industry.
“SpAARC will encourage more research and development of remote asset management capability and create more diverse high-tech jobs in robotics and automation across all industries including resources, space, defence, agriculture and health.
“SpAARC is destined to become a world-recognised facility for innovation and collaboration,” Cunnold said.
The opening of SpAARC was one of the key objectives of the Australian Space Agency’s Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space Roadmap to 2030, with the federal government investing over $4.5 m into the project and the West Australian government committing $3.5 m in funding.
Dawn McIntosh, the director of space systems at Fugro and a former NASA engineer, said that the company was focused on building an operational model that could be scalable and efficient.
“NASA understands well Australia’s global leadership in remote operations capability,” MacIntosh said.
“SpAARC offers an exciting new pathway for Australian and international companies to test new technologies and systems, as well as train staff in preparation for off-Earth missions.” (Source: Space Connect)
03 Nov 22. Exotrail and Isar Aerospace sign multiple launch services agreement to break new ground in space mobility.
- Exotrail’s spacedrop™ delivery service will use Isar Aerospace’s launch vehicle Spectrum on several firm launches between 2024 and 2029 to deliver satellites in LEO and GTO orbits
- The combination of both companies’ offerings enables tailored services to launch single satellites and satellite constellations at precise, bespoke destinations
- European companies Isar Aerospace and Exotrail partner to break new ground for access to space and in-orbit delivery markets
The space mobility operator Exotrail and the European launch service provider Isar Aerospace announced today a multiple launch services agreement. Isar Aerospace’s launch vehicle Spectrum will launch Exotrail’s spacevan™ vehicle on several firm launches to low Earth (LEO) and geostationary transfer orbits (GTO) from Isar Aerospace’s launch sites in Andøya, Norway and CSG, French Guiana, between 2024 and 2029. With the combination of launchpads, Isar Aerospace provides access to all orbits at a high cadence.
With the demand for flexible and cost-efficient access to space continuing to rise, Exotrail and Isar Aerospace have partnered to break new ground in the delivery of satellites. This combination of both service offers enables customers to launch single satellites and satellite constellations and place them in the orbit of their choice driving forward telecommunication, Earth observation, space logistics and exploration.
With this agreement, Exotrail extends its manifest to keep on providing competitive solutions and meet the market’s growing demand for precise satellite delivery in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), with specific orbital planes, inclinations and altitudes, as well as further to the geostationary orbit (GEO). Doing so, the company keeps on building up its spacedrop™ manifest for the years to come, with a stable financial framework and without compromising service flexibility. The spacevan™ vehicles will embark on the Spectrum launcher, with the possibility to fly from Isar Aerospace’s two launch facilities.
Exotrail’s tailored spacedrop™ service allows satellite operators to get their spacecrafts into their bespoke operational orbits. Exotrail offers an integrated service by procuring access to space, integrating customers satellites onto the spacevan™ platform and performing the required operations in orbit. Contrary to other solutions on the market, Exotrail’s spacevan™ uses space-proven electric propulsion to increase both its passenger capacity and its range. The versatility of Isar Aerospace’s launch offering towards specific planes and low inclinations, along with the seldom spacevan™ performances, will allow Exotrail to deliver passengers’ satellites in any plane and any inclination, making new business models available and sustainable. Exotrail’s spacedrop™ service also helps launch service providers to extend the range of their accessible missions and optimize the filling ratio of their rocket, to increase both revenues and profitability.
Jean-Luc Maria, CEO of Exotrail, stated: “The contract with Isar Aerospace enables us to consolidate our spacedrop™ service by offering more launch opportunities to customers looking for bespoke and competitive access to LEO and GEO orbits. We are looking forward to these flights and to building a long term, mutually beneficial partnership with Isar Aerospace and our respective customers.”
“Exotrail is one of the leading European NewSpace companies – we are delighted to welcome them on-board Spectrum’s flights and thank Exotrail’s team for the trust and confidence it has placed in us. We are proud to further expand our launch manifest and can look on a strong customer record,” says Daniel Metzler, CEO and Co-Founder of Isar Aerospace.
Isar Aerospace underlines yet another expansion of its launch manifest and is cementing its presence as the leading private European launch service provider. Together, the two companies will further deliver on their mission to shape the European NewSpace industry.
02 Nov 22. Austin Says Space Force Ensures U.S. Maintains Space Preeminence. The United States leads the way in space. But in recent years, it has become a contested environment, as China and Russia are investing in their own space capabilities, said the secretary of defense.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III made the remarks today at the Space Force change of responsibility ceremony as Gen. B. Chance Saltzman assumed the position of chief of space operations, the service’s top office.
The post had been held by Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond since the service was created on Dec. 20, 2019. Raymond is retiring after a 38-year career in both the Air Force and Space Force.
“The United States is the preeminent power in space, and I know that our guardians will keep it that way. You are the bold ones who protect us from the threats from the heavens, the bold ones who will forge the way ahead, and the bold ones who will always be there, always above,” Austin said.
As the 2022 National Defense Strategy outlines, China is the only competitor that intends to reshape the international order and increasingly has the power to do it, Austin said. That’s why Beijing is the Defense Department’s pacing challenge. In addition, an aggressive Russia is an acute threat to U.S. interests and values.
To defend our country and prevent conflict, the department will rely on integrated deterrence. Integrated deterrence means working seamlessly across all domains — air, land, sea, cyberspace and space — and across the full spectrum of conflict, he said.
This will be accomplished “in lockstep with our unparalleled network of allies and partners to make it clear to any potential adversary that the risk and the costs of aggression far outweigh any conceivable gains — and the United States Space Force is crucial to integrated deterrence,” he added.
Austin said that means space systems must be ever-more resilient. It means there must be a relentless pursuit of innovation and technological advancements that will help the department maintain and expand its edge. It means making it more costly for any would-be aggressor to violate those rules of the road, and it means working together with allies and partners to build on the collective strength in space.
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall called Raymond the “father of the Space Force” and its first chief of space operations.
Raymond shaped guardian culture, created the guardian ideal, brought the department its newest service, and forged its unique identity, Kendall said.
Three years ago, Raymond was the first and only guardian for a few months. Today, the service consists of almost 15,000 guardians and civilians and growing, he said.
While the Space Force is the smallest service, its importance is enormous, he added.
Kendall said Saltzman has some big shoes to fill, but the Air Force secretary said he knows Saltzman is ready.
“I know that you are ready to charge full speed ahead on operationalizing and transforming the Space Force based on your strategic, operational and tactical experience,” he said.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, also participated in the ceremony. (Source: US DoD)
02 Nov 22. South Australian companies prepare to launch VS03 mission.
The mission will see an ATSpace Kestrel I rocket launch from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex run by Southern Launch later this month.
Onboard the Kestrel I rocket will be a spacecraft designed and constructed by Inovor which will integrate two payloads designed by Southern Launch and Asension.
The launch vehicle, the Kestrel I, is a 10-metre, two-stage, sub-orbital rocket. Its launch will see the rocket reach an altitude of 200 kilometres above Earth at the peak of its 10-minute flight time.
Launching from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex located on the tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, the rocket’s trajectory will take it over the southern ocean.
Ian Spencer, CEO of Asension, highlighted the importance of having access to a local launch site.
“Having access to space from Australian soil is a game changer for our R&D efforts. This launch will accelerate the development of our technology in [a] way that has not previously been possible. This means that we can provide greater sovereign capability sooner.”
Throughout the mission, the rocket will be tracked by ordinary satellite phone technology. This aspect of the mission is vital to proving the capability of this tracking system and will serve as proof of concept for the ongoing development of the technology.
By using satellite phone technology to track the rocket, the team is eliminating the need for expensive ground-based communication infrastructure. One of the key goals of this launch is to collect a range of data that will help to refine the technology.
The CEO of Southern Launch, Lloyd Damp, spoke about the upcoming launch.
“The VS03 mission is incredibly exciting. It is a realisation of the incredible work and collaboration that is happening right here in South Australia and testament to our position as the space capital of Australia.”
ATSpace CEO Dr YenSen Chen also commented on the importance of the mission to the company’s ongoing development of the Kestrel rocket.
“This suborbital launch will provide us with valuable data to validate our future Kestrel V orbital design. Launching to space is a challenging task and well-planned test launches help us achieve technical maturity.”
The collaborative project is also a positive sign for the growing South Australian space industry, a sentiment echoed by Inovor’s founder and CEO, Dr Matthew Tetlow.
“This is a terrific opportunity to demonstrate to the Australian government and Department of Defence the sovereign space capabilities on offer right here in South Australia. It’s a great example of what’s possible when four companies like ours collaborate,” said Tetlow. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Nov 22. L3Harris CEO says Viasat Link 16 assets are JADC2 ‘accelerant.’ Buying Viasat’s tactical data links business will help realize L3Harris Technologies’ joint all-domain command and control ambitions and will likely push the company up the defense contracting ladder, according to CEO Chris Kubasik.
The prospective $1.96 bn purchase of the Link 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System platforms, their associated terminals and space assets “fits nicely in our comms- and networking-centric portfolio,” enabling the company to bring the Pentagon’s JADC2 effort “to life,” he said Oct. 28 during a conference call to discuss third-quarter financial results.
“It gives us the footprint on 20,000-plus platforms, and real estate matters on these platforms, whether they’re aircraft or ships or other platforms. We’ll be able to modernize and upgrade Link 16. We’ll be able to work in other waveforms and focus on resiliency,” he added. “It’s just an accelerant.”
JADC2 is the Defense Department’s vision for a seamlessly connected military, one where information flows quickly and securely to friendly forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber.
The Army, Air Force and Navy each have their own contributions to the multibn-dollar endeavor: Project Convergence, the Advanced Battle Management System and Project Overmatch, respectively. L3Harris in mid-September was named to the ABMS Digital Infrastructure Consortium alongside four other companies.
The L3Harris-Viasat deal was unveiled shortly after, on Oct. 3. It is expected to close in the first half of 2023.
“Strategically, I couldn’t have asked for a better first acquisition. This was pretty straightforward and pretty easy,” Kubasik said. “It fits perfectly into our portfolio, fills a gap that we had. It ties into JADC2, networks, comms, everything we’re known for.”
The pending sale is expected to net Viasat $1.8 bn, after taxes and other payments.
The data link business, part of Viasat’s Government Systems division, generated some $400 m in yearly revenue. Link 16 — a secure, jam-resistant and high-speed line of communication used across domains and by NATO — accounts for one-third of Viasat’s government business.
US sending satellite antennas to Ukraine after Musk’s Starlink U-turn
Kubasik previously told C4ISRNET in an interview that the purchase of Viasat’s product line would stimulate competition in the defense industrial base. He re-upped the sentiment during the earnings call.
“Our momentum is building, and I’m optimistic about the value-creating opportunities,” he said Friday. “Financially, as I’ve said, it’s accretive. It gives us, again, a seat at the table and continues to move us up the food chain.”
L3Harris was the tenth largest defense contractor by revenue in the latest Defense News rankings, behind BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and more. Viasat was No. 73. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
01 Nov 22. ST Engineering iDirect’s Leading Evolution® Platform Selected by Multiple Asian MoDs. Global satellite communications leader, ST Engineering iDirect’s Evolution® platform is a key technology for Asian defense forces. Utilized for the provision of both fixed and mobile satcom solutions across a variety of mission-critical applications, Evolution is a resilient and secure multi-service platform that encompasses a breadth of versatile modems and solutions.
ST Engineering iDirect Evolution® Multi-Carrier Mesh
An Asian Ministry of Defence (MoD) deployed multiple Evolution hubs to increase resiliency and assure high availability of bandwidth for its army, naval forces and paramilitary units. The army also replaced their legacy SCPC/MCPC solution with a DVB-S2X Evolution Multi-Carrier Mesh solution to provide reliable critical communications between their mobile units. This enables them to maintain connectivity whilst tackling challenging terrain including steep mountains, valleys, and primitive roads along the country’s borders. The mesh overlay reduces latency, allowing for instantaneous on-demand communications that are essential for effective remote operations. Troops have access to real-time situational awareness and can respond quickly to threats.
In a separate deployment for another longstanding MoD customer, their armed forces significantly upgraded and expanded their network by adding two Agilis high power amplifiers (HPAs), several new Evolution hubs and 100 iQ terminals to better equip them for extreme environmental conditions. The region where the hubs have been deployed is known for its tough terrain and stringent requirements for border control and coastline monitoring. This MoD relies upon their Evolution network for effective two-way communications with their ground forces to maintain security and stability in these areas. Its naval vessels are also equipped with ST Engineering iDirect’s advanced mobility modems which enable their maritime forces to carry out their C4ISR (Command Control Communications Computers Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions successfully.
A third MoD also counts on Evolution for connectivity for its army, navy, air force, special ground forces, and public sector organizations. Evolution’s reliability and stability mean different defense branches can communicate with one another in real-time and deal more effectively with border challenges. In the pipeline is the deployment of ST Engineering iDirect’s 9800AR aero modem, specifically designed for defense aircraft in an ultra high-speed COTM environment, for airborne ISR purposes, designed to integrate directly into a ARINC 600 enclosure.
“The Evolution platform is the technology of choice for MoDs across the Asia Pacific region. Its repeated selection is testimony that this platform provides a field-proven, highly reliable and versatile solution that supports mission critical applications across Asia, no matter how tough the environment,” said John Arnold, ST Engineering iDirect’s Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific. “We continue to deliver the functionality that meets the extreme needs of our government and defense customers across all their operations whether on land, sea or air, giving them the strategic advantage that they need.”
ST Engineering iDirect, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, is a global leader in satellite communications (satcom) providing technology and solutions that enable its customers to expand their business, differentiate their services and optimize their satcom networks. With over 35 years of innovation focused on solving satellite’s most critical economic and technology challenges we are committed to shaping the future of how the world connects. The product portfolio, branded under the names iDirect and Newtec, represents the highest standards in performance, efficiency, and reliability, making it possible for its customers to deliver the best satcom connectivity experience anywhere in the world. ST Engineering iDirect is the world’s largest TDMA enterprise VSAT manufacturer and is the leader in key industries including broadcast, mobility and military/government. In 2007, iDirect Government was formed to better serve the U.S. government and defense communities. For more information on our platforms please visit www.idirect.net. (Source: PR Newswire)
01 Nov 22. Space Force’s Calvelli issues acquisition ‘guideposts.’
The Space Force’s top development and procurement official sent a message to the acquisition workforce this week, calling on the enterprise to prioritize speed as it fields satellites and ground systems.
“Former approaches of developing a small amount of large satellites along with large, monolithic ground systems that took many years to develop on cost-plus contracts can no longer be the norm,” Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration Frank Calvelli said in an Oct. 31 memo.
Calvelli was sworn into his role in May and is the first acquisition executive dedicated to developing space capabilities. The memo, obtained by C4ISRNET and first reported by Space News, comes on the heels of the Oct. 27 public release of the National Defense Strategy. The high-level document stresses the need for “resilient and redundant” satellite constellations in light of threats and increasingly “reckless” behavior from China and Russia.
“In the space domain, the department will reduce adversary incentives for early attack by fielding diverse, resilient and redundant satellite constellations,” the National Defense Strategy states. “We will bolster our ability to fight through disruption by improving defensive capabilities and increasing options for reconstitution.”
Against that backdrop, Calvelli’s memo lays out his nine acquisition tenets, which he said will serve as “guideposts” for the service.
Those tenets include: building smaller satellites and ground systems; establishing solid acquisition strategies at the start of a program; enabling cooperation between contracting officers and program managers; awarding executable contracts; maintaining program stability; avoiding overclassification; delivering ground systems early; holding industry accountable for cost and schedule commitments; and delivering capabilities that work.
“As threats to space systems continue to evolve, and as space becomes even more important in protecting and giving an advantage to our troops, timely deliver of space capabilities becomes even more critical for our nation,” Calvelli said.
Most of the Space Force’s acquisition personnel reside at Space Systems Command, which is located at Los Angeles Space Force Base in California. During a recent Space Industry Days conference there, SSC officials said the command is rethinking the way it builds capability, opting for incremental, frequent deliveries over the more traditional large and complex programs.
Claire Leon, director of SSC’s system-of-systems integration office, said during an Oct. 19 presentation at the conference that the command is now structuring programs to field new capability releases every two years. That approach is similar to the Space Development Agency’s plan to launch new missile tracking and communication satellites on two-year intervals.
Leon said program executive officers at Space Systems Command are building mission-area roadmaps that include projections about how much funding they’ll need in order to deliver at that two-year cadence. That approach means that the first iteration of a system may not have “all the bells and whistles,” but will instead focus on a particular technology that future releases can build on.
“We’re trying not to do the old programs of record where you start with a massive, prescriptive requirements document, put out a [request for proposals] and 10 years later, 12 years later, you end up with a program of record being launched,” she said. “I think you’ll see some fundamental shifts in how we’re trying to do business that is really much more agile.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Nov 22. SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy rocket with 1st national security payload. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful launch vehicle in operation, carried its first National Security Space Launch mission for the U.S. Department of Defense to orbit on Tuesday.
The launch services and satellite technology company, owned by bnaire Elon Musk, hasn’t flown the Falcon Heavy since 2019. The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, hosting two classified satellites that are part of the Space Force’s USSF-44 mission.
“This launch culminates years of effort by a dedicated team comprised of mission-focused people from across the U.S. Space Force and SpaceX,” Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive officer for assured access to space, said in an Oct. 27 press release. “The Falcon Heavy is an important element of our overall lift capability.”
For today’s flight, the Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters, which provide the thrust needed to carry the vehicle beyond Earth’s atmosphere, returned to two landing zones after separating from the rocket. The goal is for the company to reuse the recovered boosters for future missions.
USSF-44 was scheduled to launch in 2020, but payload issues caused a two-year delay. The Space Force hasn’t offered much detail on the satellites, but a spokesman told C4ISRNET in an Oct. 28 email there are at least six payloads ranging in mission from communications to space weather sensing.
The service previously confirmed that one of the spacecraft is called TETRA-1, a microsatellite built by Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing. The satellite was created for “various prototype missions,” according to the company’s website.
The rocket also carried the Space Force’s Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter. Built by Northrop Grumman, the ring-shaped system features six ports, allowing the Space Force to attach multiple small payloads. The service calls the capability a “freight train to space.”
This was LDPE’s second launch and the Space Force plans to fly it once more before transitioning to a new version called the Rapid On-orbit Space Evaluation Ring, known as ROOSTER. The service awarded Northrop a $22m contract in July for ROOSTER, which will provide low-cost rides to space for small satellites. (Source: Defense News)
01 Nov 22. US Strategic Space Review signed out, but no unclassified version is coming.
“If we want deterrence to be effective, it takes three things: 1. Capabilities 2. Credible threats in the mind of the adversary and 3. The will to communicate the first two,” Chris Stone, Mitchell Institute fellow, told Breaking Defense.
The Biden administration has decided not to release an unclassified version of its Strategic Space Review, despite the recent publication of other similar Pentagon reviews and a public push by senior space officials for more openness in space operations, Breaking Defense has learned.
In response to questions about the status of the report, a Defense Department spokesperson confirmed that the review had been signed out by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and transmitted to the White House. The document is meant to assess a range of space issues, including the balance of offensive and defense space capabilities available to Space Command. It was mandated by White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan earlier this year.
The decision to keep the space review under wraps is sprinkled with more than a little irony.
First, one of the issues on the table during the review itself was the long-running DoD effort to break down the wall of secrecy that long has surrounded national security space. The lack of an unclassified version also contrasts with the fact that the the Pentagon just Thursday released unclassified versions of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the Missile Defense Review (MDR) that both included a focus on increased Chinese and Russian threats.
Further, the move seems fly in the face of the recently unclassified version of the National Defense Strategy, which includes a new section that focuses on the use of information both as a deterrent and a means to avoid sparking conflict during a crises.
“Deterrence depends in part on competitors’ understanding of US intent and capabilities. The Department must seek to avoid unknowingly driving competition to aggression. To strengthen deterrence as well as manage escalation risks, the Department will advance its ability to operate in the information domain — for example, by working to ensure that messages are conveyed effectively,” the NDS states.
However, the DoD spokesperson explained that — unlike the NPR and the MDR — the Strategic Space Review was not required by law, and instead was an “internal, classified review” from the get go.
“Although the Space Strategic Review was conducted as an internal, classified review, there is a substantial amount of information released publicly about U.S. national security space activities,” the spokesperson added. “For example, DIA released an excellent unclassified compendium of space threats in April 2022. There are also a number of unclassified documents that outline U.S. national security space policy, to include the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, U.S. Space Priorities Framework, National Space Policy, and Defense Space Strategy. We continue to assess our space-related classification policies.”
Government officials and outside experts who spoke to Breaking Defense were not in the least shocked at the Biden administration’s caution when it comes to talking about what the US can and can’t do in space.
For one thing, the DoD’s latest Space Policy, issued in September, deliberately avoids any reference at all to “offensive” space capabilities and/or operations, or “orbital warfare” — language that is found in DoD space doctrine and Space Force guidance papers crafted under previous administrations but still considered as official.
Perhaps the most similar review to the SSR in recent times, however, was the 2009 Space Posture Review exercise mandated by Congress that eventually was wrapped into the Obama administration’s 2011 National Security Space Strategy. Only a top-level summary of that strategy was released.
“I guess I’m not surprised that they aren’t releasing an unclassified version of the Strategic Space Review and yet are managing to do so for the MDR and the NPR. Old habits die hard and much of space is knee-jerk reflexively classified. It’s really hard to do strategic messaging when your policy documents are classified, so that seems shortsighted,” said Secure World Foundation’s Victoria Samson.
Her colleague Brian Weeden said the decision is understandable given the fact that the SSR was specifically aimed at trying to sort through what defensive and offensive capabilities the US needs to deter, and if necessary “defeat aggression” in space, in the words of the DoD Space Policy.
The De-Classification Dilemma
Top military brass for several years has been waging both an internal and external campaign to reduce the secrecy surrounding the assessment of space threats and US space capabilities, as well as the security constraints that make it extraordinarily hard to share technology and requirements with industry and friendly national governments.
But each of those arguments begs a different risk-benefit analysis, as well as a potentially different answer to the question of what, if anything, should be publicly revealed, argued a former senior DoD official with long experience in the debate.
“People talk about classification as if it’s all one thing, but it’s not all one thing. There’s many different things going on here,” said the former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You actually have to do the work, analyze the situation, and then decide on a case-by-case basis what has to be declassified.”
In particular, the ex-official said, when looking at US offensive and defensive capabilities, the pros and cons must be considered very carefully for each specific weapon system — because in some instances there will be deterrent value in revealing an ability to inflict harm on adversary systems, but in others such revelations may enable the enemy to “engineer around” that capability.
And up to now, the former official asserted, no one within DoD “has decided that that’s what they have to do, they just complain about classification.”
‘In Space, We Over-Classify Everything’
Military leaders in recent years have made progress on pushing more information into the public domain about threat analysis, particularly regarding growing Chinese and Russian space capabilities. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has both accelerated and solidified that trend, including easing the ability of DoD and the Intelligence Community to share information with allies, partner nations and industry partners.
“I’ve seen in the current crisis with Russia in Ukraine [that] the United States and its institutions have the ability to change and adapt rapidly when facing compelling need,” said Gen. DT Thompson, vice chief of the Space Force, in an Oct. 25 keynote speech at the Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Security Forum.
However, he lamented the lack of progress in chopping through the layers of security-related red tape involved in sharing with industry technology — despite an ongoing effort by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks on “streamlining” and “normalizing” the process.
“Security remains probably one of our biggest challenges. And one of the things that while we own the ability to change it, we just have some form of bureaucratic inertia that will not let us do,” Thompson said. “I will also say this is not the first time we’ve attempted to do this, and we have not really succeeded. … We’ll have to see if we can end up delivering. It just continues to be a challenge and a sclerotic part of our bureaucracy.”
Finally, despite all the high-powered military lobbying both in public and behind the scenes, the US military’s offensive space capabilities that can hold Chinese and Russian on-orbit assets at risk remain firmly locked behind the Green Door — with knowledge about a number of weapon systems restricted to Special Access Protected (SAPs) programs that limit access to a handful of senior government officials.
The extreme measures may work as a counter-intelligence tactic, but they also restrict the US government’s ability to deter both countries, and other potential adversaries, from deploying and using counterspace weapons against US and allied satellites, senior military leaders have argued.
“In space, we over-classify everything,” former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. John Hyten told the National Security Space Association on Jan. 22, 2021. “Deterrence does not happen in the classified world. Deterrence does not happen in the black; deterrence happens in the white.”
Chris Stone, a fellow at the Mitchell Institute, agreed.
“If we want deterrence to be effective, it takes three things: 1. Capabilities 2. Credible threats in the mind of the adversary and 3. The will to communicate the first two,” he told Breaking Defense. “You can’t deter an adversary with a secret capability if you don’t communicate what that is. Even the B-21 will be revealed in December… but not some of our vital space capabilities? This need to change.”
Even US commercial satellite systems are increasingly being threatened by China, and especially Russia — given the support provided by US remote sensing and communications firms to the Ukrainian government in its ongoing war to prevent a Russian occupation.
On Oct. 26, during the ongoing annual meeting of the UN First Committee on international security issues, a senior Russian official issued the most direct warning yet of Moscow’s potential for attacking US commercial satellites assisting Kyiv.
The “use by the United States and its allies” of civilian and commercial space systems “for military purposes” is not only “provocative” and “extremely dangerous trend,” but also “questionable” under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, alleged Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy head of Moscow’s UN delegation.
“Apparently, these States do not realize that such actions in fact constitute indirect participation in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation,” he said.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby pushed back against the Russian statement in an Oct. 27 briefing for reporters.
“Any attack on US infrastructure will be met with an appropriate response in an appropriate way,” he said, adding that Washington will “hold Russia accountable for any such attack, should it occur.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later elaborated: “We will pursue all means to explore, deter, and hold Russia accountable for any such attacks. Clearly, I’m not going to lay them down here in front of — in public. But we have made ourselves very clear.”
But what that means about whether, when and how the US might fight in space actually remains largely unclear — to Russia, China and, perhaps most crucially, the American public. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
31 Oct 22. Australia joins AUKUS allies in pledge to not destroy satellites. The Australian government has officially committed to an agreement to not test missiles against satellites in space.
Australia will be the eighth nation to commit to never conduct “destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing” according to a joint press release from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic and Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong.
The agreement is the latest measure designed to advance the responsible and sustainable use of space.
Australia joins the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany and the Republic of Korea in signing the agreement.
The rationale behind the ban on anti-satellite missiles is that satellites destroyed in such a manner produce massive amounts of debris in space. This debris remains in orbit for years, posing serious threats to other satellites and spacecraft, including manned missions such as the International Space Station.
In the joint statement, the ministers acknowledged the importance of space activities to society, noting that space is integral to communications networks, global economic activity and military and defence capabilities.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong emphasised the need for cooperation when speaking about the agreement.
“The global community must work together to build a common understanding on rules and norms that can guide how states behave in outer space. This commitment to responsible behaviour, helps build a meaningful framework that contributes to the security, safety and sustainability of outer space.” (Source: Space Connect)
31 Oct 22. Space Machines Company signs MoU with Arianespace. The agreement will ensure compatibility between SMC’s Optimus orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) spacecraft and Arianespace’s launch vehicles.
Optimal compatibility between the OTV and launch vehicles across a range of different mission scenarios is an incredibly important aspect for the success of the Optimus OTV.
SMC intends to use its OTV for a wide variety of orbital missions, including spacecraft inspection, maintenance, servicing and removal from orbit.
In accordance with this goal, the company is aiming to make the OTV compatible with as many launch systems and vehicles as possible. This latest agreement with Arianespace is a solid step towards that goal, ensuring the OTV will be able to launch on the Ariane 6 and Vega-C vehicles.
The OTV is the largest commercial spacecraft to be designed, manufactured and assembled in Australia, weighing in at 270 kilograms.
The latest agreement with Arianespace follows SMC confirming that its OTV would be compatible to launch with SpaceX rockets in 2023, which was reported on Space Connect earlier this year.
Arianespace is one of the world’s largest launch providers. Founded in 1980 as one of the world’s first commercial launch providers, the company has launched 1,100 satellites into orbit, including the James Webb Space Telescope.
Space Machine Company’s CEO and co-founder, Rajat Kulshrestha, spoke about the deal with Arianespace.
“The whole SMC team is very excited to enter into this MoU with a leading launch provider, especially following the announcement in September of SMC’s partnership with Optus, in order to leverage SMC’s local spacecraft manufacturing expertise.
“The Australian space industry is growing fast, and we need strong international partnerships on the global market to succeed, as a new space-faring nation,” Kulshrestha said.
The CEO of Arianespace, Stéphane Israël, also commented on the memorandum, saying they want to “define the ground rules for any future collaborations”.
“In order to provide the best and most cost-effective solution to customers, Arianespace has always looked for new and innovative technologies and today intends to build partnership with orbital transfer vehicles (OTV) providers,” Israël added.
The MoU comes ahead of SMC’s first mission, named “Roll Out”, which is due to launch in the second quarter of 2023. The mission will carry several payloads of Australian customers, with the company hoping to cement itself as the premier “last-mile” services provider. (Source: Space Connect)
31 Oct 22. Stratolaunch’s Roc completes first captive carry flight with TA-0 vehicle. The test aimed to measure aerodynamic loads on TA-0 test vehicle while it was integrated with Roc aircraft. US-based company Stratolaunch’s Roc aircraft has successfully concluded the first captive carry flight demonstration with Talon-A (TA-0) separation test vehicle.
The flight test was conducted on 28 October from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, US. This also marked Roc aircraft’s eighth flight test.
During the maiden demonstration, a Roc aircraft’s centre wing pylon was fitted with TA-0. The aircraft took off and reached a 23,000ft altitude and flew over the Mojave Desert.
The main objective of this flight demonstration was to measure the aerodynamic loads created on the Talon-A test vehicle while it was integrated with the Roc aircraft.
The company said that the entire test lasted for a total of five hours and six minutes.
With the help of aerodynamic predictions, the company will be able to ensure whether the release mechanism will work as desired or not.
In the next steps, Stratolaunch will continue to conduct a series of captive carry flight tests over the coming months that will end with a TA-0 separation test over the Pacific Ocean later this year.
Stratolaunch CEO and president Dr Zachary Krevor said: “We have conducted a variety of ground tests in anticipation of this first captive carry flight, and with each successful test milestone achieved we have built confidence that hardware will perform exactly as it was designed.”
23 Oct 22. The ISRO’s heaviest rocket to date launches 36 OneWeb smallsats. In its second operational flight, the India Space Organisation‘s (ISRO’s) LVM3 rocket placed 36 OneWeb satellites to their intended orbits. The launch vehicle took off at 0007 hrs. on October 23, 2022, from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India.
This was the fifth flight of LVM3. This was a dedicated commercial mission for a foreign customer through NSIL. A total of 36 OneWeb Gen-1 satellites of about 150 kg., each totaling about 5,796 kg., were launched to a circular, LEO of about 601 km. with a 87.4 degree inclination
The separation of satellites involved a unique maneuver of the cryogenic stage to orientation and then re-orientation that cover nine phases that spanned75 minutes. OneWeb confirmed the acquisition of signals from the satellites.
OneWeb Gen-1 satellites use a bent-pipe technology approach to offer communication in Ku- and Ku-bands. These constellation smallsats are arranged in 12 orbital planes with 49 satellites in each plane at 1200km.
Calling the launch of LVM3 M2 a historic event, Shri S. Somanath, Chairman, ISRO, lauded the synergistic efforts between ISRO, New Space India (NSIL), and OneWeb in realizing the mission in a record time. He specifically acknowledged the design and development of an inertial navigation system at LPSC for C25 operations. This was one of the biggest commercial orders executed by ISRO. (Source: Satnews)
23 Oct 22. SIIS signs SkyFi as a partner enabling broader access to KOMPSAT satellite Imagery. Recently, SI Imaging Services (SIIS) expanded their SAR imagery smallsats offerings via a new partnership agreement with SkyFi, giving that company access to SIIS’s VHR Korean Multi-Purpose Satellite (KOMPSAT) images.
SIIS is the sales representative of KOMPSAT series 2, 3, 3A, and 5. It contributes to the remote sensing and Earth Observation (EO) industries by supplying VHR optical and SAR satellite imagery through 160 partners worldwide.
KOMPSAT was developed under the Korean National Space Program by Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). Customers from industries and governments use KOMPSAT imagery for their missions and research, such as defense, disaster monitoring, mapping, urban planning, agriculture, and so on.
The current marketplace for satellite imagery is convoluted and expensive. Typically, purchasers unable to spend six figures for images are shut out of the market. Those who can muster the minimum budget must negotiate with sales representatives and often find it difficult to nail down a firm price. SkyFi provides a special platform which empowers individuals and organizations to browse images, self-select the ones they want, pay a reasonable, transparent fee, and receive their photos in a few days.
Incorporating SIIS’s KOMPSAT data into its in-network constellation gives SkyFi additional, LEO image sources as well as access to their partner’s archive of existing photos. More images in a larger library translates to more choices and more precision for end-users. The ability to market the existing imagery is instrumental in their mission to democratize EO and simplify the way businesses and individuals purchase satellite photos by making them available through a user-friendly marketplace accessible by desktop computer and mobile device.
“SkyFi is extremely excited to partner with SIIS, a leader in the industry with earth observation solutions,” said SkyFi Chief Executive Officer, Luke Fischer. “With SIIS’s very high-resolution satellite imagery, SkyFi will be able to provide consumers of all types with a superior product. SIIS and SkyFi share a vision of establishing transparency to the earth observation industry and are excited to bring this vision to consumers.”
“Through the partnership with SkyFi, SIIS expects more visibility and accessibility of our very high-resolution KOMPSAT imagery for a broader customer base across various sectors,” said Moongyu Kim, CEO of SIIS. “SkyFi’s platform gives innovative and intuitive user experiences to customers in acquiring satellite images from various providers without forcing them to wade through any (space) jargon.” (Source: Satnews)
24 Oct 22. Beyond Gravity launches key products for OneWeb’s first launch from India. OneWeb launched 36 additional broadband internet satellites aboard a GSLV Mark 3 launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India. The rocket is dubbed as one of the heaviest for its ability to carry satellites up to 8,000 kgs. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of low-Earth-orbit satellites that will deliver internet access around the world.
This launch brought OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation to 462 satellites, which represents more than 70% of its planned 648 low Earth orbit satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity worldwide. OneWeb will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in the hardest-to-reach areas, thus playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide.
As a key supplier to OneWeb’s manufacturing factory, Airbus OneWeb Satellites, Beyond Gravity built the satellite dispenser, which placed all OneWeb satellites into orbit. The dispenser functions as an interface between the Indian rocket and 36 OneWeb satellites. “Our dispenser is super-light and includes state-of-the-art technology to safely place the satellites in orbit,” says Paul Horstink, Executive Vice President Division Launchers at Beyond Gravity. “Thanks to Beyond Gravity’s flexible dispenser design only a minor adaptation has been required to make this compatible to fly on the Indian rocket.” OneWeb used the Indian rocket for the first time, previously, OneWeb used Arianespace and Sojuz rockets. (Source: Satnews)
26 Oct 22. Kongsberg NanoAvionics’ growth plans as prime supplier for small satellite constellations. Kongsberg NanoAvionics (“NanoAvionics”) has announced a multi-m investment plan to support and accelerate its goal of becoming the prime supplier for small satellite constellations, globally. As a result of the recent acquisition by Kongsberg and part of its growth plan, the company seeks to significantly grow its production capacity over the next two years as well as ramping up its research and development (R&D) program. Having finalized its acquisition by Kongsberg in September, NanoAvionics also announced its name change to Kongsberg NanoAvionics but will continue trading as NanoAvionics.
The increase of its R&D activities will include a focus on defense-grade reliability of satellite buses and further cater to NanoAvionics’ modular architecture for sophisticated remote sensing applications. To make sure the data of its customers continues to be fully protected, NanoAvionics will continue to enhance the cybersecurity of its satellite buses.
To grow its production capacity, the company will expand its Lithuanian facilities in Vilnius and Kaunas, focusing on serial manufacturing of satellite buses, and hiring more people in the coming year.
In addition, customers, in particular those looking to build a constellation, partners, prospects and other stakeholders will benefit from an expanded supply chain through Kongsberg and its industrial technology expertise. Combined with NanoAvionics capabilities in the smallsat industry, the investment plan and enhanced end-to-end infrastructure will allow for new and improved products and enhance the worldwide availability of NanoAvionics satellites respectively.
Kongsberg, an international high-technology group headquartered in Norway, acquired a 77 percent controlling interest in NanoAvionics at an enterprise value of 65 m euros on September 8, 2022. The management and leadership structure of the Lithuanian smallsat mission integrator and bus manufacturer remains unchanged.
“The investment by Kongsberg and their expertise together with our research, manufacturing and mission expertise, enables us to seriously scale our growth and expansion plans, and even develop new products,” said Vytenis J. Buzas, CEO of Kongsberg NanoAvionics. “We are now well on course to become the prime supplier for small satellite constellations, globally. To reach our goals, it is vital that we maintain our customer-centric agility, fast-pace innovation, and the cost-efficiency of our satellite systems.”
Eirik Lie, president for Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and chairman of NanoAvionics said, “NanoAvionics has made impressive strides to already become one of the leading small satellite mission integrators in this industry and being well trusted by its customers and partners. As part of the Kongsberg family, they are now even better positioned and able to make new and further high-quality and cost-efficient propositions across the entire value chain for smallsat constellations.” (Source: Satnews)
27 Oct 22. SpaceX dispatches 53 Starlinks from Vandenberg SFB.
SpaceX successfully lifted off from Vandenberg SFB with 53 Starlink satellites aboard a Falcon 9 launch vehicle en route to their orbital slots. This 49th launch of 2022 added these smallsats to the Starlink constellation and was initiated at approximately 6:14 p.m., PST.
The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, and five Starlink missions, and the first stage successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship that is stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX is targeting Thursday, October 27, for a Falcon 9 launch of 53 Starlink satellites to LEO from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The instantaneous launch window is at 6:14 p.m. PT (01:14 UTC on Friday, October 28), and a backup opportunity is available on Friday, October 28 at 5:52 p.m. PT (00:52 UTC on Saturday, October 29).
Following stage separation, the first stage will land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean. (Source: Satnews)
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