Sponsored By Viasat
24 Aug 18. Viasat obtains NSA authorisation for AN/PRC-161 BATS-D radio. The US Department of Defense’s (DoD) National Security Agency (NSA) has authorised Viasat’s AN/PRC-161 handheld Link 16 radio for use by the international military forces. With the authorisation, the new Battlefield Awareness and Targeting System – Dismounted (BATS-D) device will be used by Five Eyes (FVEY) partners and coalition militaries. The AN/PRC-161 BATS-D radio offers real-time fused air/ground situational awareness to coordinate and direct forces instantly using machine-to-machine interface. This helps reduce the major gap between the air and ground forces. Viasat Government Systems president Ken Peterman said: “Viasat has a deep and enduring commitment to working with allies and coalition partners to improve warfighter safety by enhancing mission effectiveness and communications.
“The AN/PRC-161 BATS-D handheld radio has been designed to provide full Link 16 network access to FVEY special operations and expeditionary forces. Viasat’s AN/PRC-161 BATS-D is the world’s first and only handheld Link 16 radio. It is designed to solve the military’s urgent need for a small, secure Link 16 device capable of being employed by a dismounted operator that can seamlessly interoperate between air and ground forces. With NSA authorisation we can speed the time to market for how US, FVEY and coalition militaries securely communicate and deter threats on the battlefield.”
The Link 16 terminal provides troops at the tactical edge with secure and reliable access to integrated air and ground information. This helps to ensure enhanced situational awareness capabilities and improved close air support communications. This enables troops to rapidly engage enemy targets and minimise the risk of fratricide incidents. The AN/PRC-161 BATS-D handheld radio has been designed to provide full Link 16 network access to FVEY special operations and expeditionary forces. Different security innovations and upgrades to the radio, including Type 1 encryption, facilitate seamless interoperability with a number of other Link 16 radios. In December, the BATS-D device achieved Type 1 certification from the US NSA. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
30 Aug 18. What U.S. Air Force Modernization Would Look Like Without Space. It is possible that when Congress hears the details of President Trump’s proposed “Space Force,” it will rebel against the cost and complexity. Without enabling legislation, a sixth service branch can’t happen. But Congress might embrace the idea. Space capabilities are essential to U.S. military operations; they are also central to our evolving commerce and culture. So creating a separate military service to assure they are managed effectively isn’t an outlandish idea. A bit premature perhaps, but not crazy. If it happened, though, what would that mean for the Air Force — particularly for its plans to invest in new technology? The technological landscape is changing rapidly, and much of what the Air Force thought it was going to be buying over the next decade was space-related. That includes the ballistic missiles it manages in support of nuclear deterrence and the networks it relies on to conduct information-age warfare. All of that stuff would still be needed, but it might not be the responsibility of the Air Force anymore.
The Air Force would be mainly about “things with wings.” So how would the Air Force adjust its modernization priorities to remain an equal participant in the joint force? My guess is that it would move to buy many of the items in its remaining portfolio faster. The reason is that with satellites and ballistic missiles gone, Air Force leaders will look around and realize they have been dragging their feet on buying new gear. If they don’t speed up, the Space Force will make what’s left of the Air Force look old-fashioned and marginally relevant. Take, for example, the aerial refueling fleet. The Air Force has a new tanker, the KC-46 Pegasus, that is far superior to anything in its tired fleet of Cold War refuelers. Most of the tankers in the current fleet have been flying for over half a century, and nobody can say for sure how much longer they will be airworthy. The handful of “newer” tankers in the fleet — averaging over 30 years of age — are militarized DC-10s that are expensive maintain, burn too much fuel getting where they need to be, and carry much more “gas” than can reasonably be transferred to other planes in a typical refueling scenario. Air Force leaders want to retire them. So it isn’t hard to make the case for Pegasus. It is needed to support warfighters in all of the U.S. military services, and in allied forces. But current modernization plans call for buying only 15 KC-46s per year. At that rate, it would take 30 years to replace the 479 aged tankers in the current fleet.
Without space, Air Force leaders will likely move to implement a more vigorous modernization strategy for tankers along the lines of what Senator John McCain proposed in January of last year — buying about two dozen tankers per year. With the higher production rate, a majority of Cold War tankers could be replaced by 2030.
Fighters, which deliver air superiority, are another area where faster would be better for Air Force modernization if space migrates to a new service. The service warns in its Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan that the Air Force’s projected force structure 12 years from now “is not capable of fighting and winning” against threats expected in that timeframe.
The biggest reason why such pessimism might be justified is that it is buying the stealthy F-35 fighter at the rate of only about 50 per year. It’s production objective is 1,763. Do the math, and it turns out that half the fighter force in 2030 consists of fighters developed in the 1970s. If the Air Force were to double the rate of production for the F-35, 80% of the tactical aircraft in the 2030 fleet would be highly survivable fifth-generation fighters. The service would thus be much more capable of fighting and winning against a near-peer adversary, especially given the versatility of the F-35. I don’t want to discount the value of a sixth-generation fighter, which is being discussed under the rubric of “penetrating counterair,” but that concept won’t be any help in 2030 because it will barely have emerged from development. F-35 is the main option for securing air superiority circa 2030, but that requires speeding up the production rate. One more example of why speeding up would make sense. The Air Force has recently killed a plan to recapitalize its J-Stars radar planes, which track and image moving ground targets. It says the existing fleet is too vulnerable, so it needs a different approach. Fair enough, but the different approach it has in mind won’t debut until the 2040s.
If Air Force leaders stick with that schedule, they might as well turn over the ground-moving-target mission to the Space Force, because it will have solutions sooner. What the Air Force needs to do if it wants to sustain its role in such missions is accelerate work on systems like the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, which holds the endurance record for air missions. Long-endurance drones deliver major advantages over space systems in providing tactical reconnaissance and surveillance, because any satellite closer to Earth than 22,000 miles will be zooming across the sky at too fast a pace to maintain a lock on targets. Obviously, being in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles up makes it nearly impossible to detect fine details. At the moment, the Air Force doesn’t have anywhere near the number of high-flying, long-endurance drones it needs to take the place of J-Stars planes. So if it wants to avoid losing the J-Stars mission to overhead assets, it needs to speed up its efforts to implement a successor solution focusing on unmanned aircraft. I can make much the same case for buying the new B-21 bomber, or the TX training aircraft. Today’s Air Force is moving too slow on fielding every one of its next-generation aircraft, in part because it has been distracted by space and ballistic missiles and networks. If President Trump’s Space Force becomes a reality, it will need to pick up the pace of what’s left in its portfolio. (Source: ASD Network/Forbes)
29 Aug 18. What will top the Space Force to-do list? In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Air Force’s Global Positioning System was a continuous target. “Every year [as] we went through the budget cycle the United States Air Force … tried to kill the GPS program,” Gen. John Hyten, now head of U.S. Strategic Command, said during a 2015 speech.
“Why would they kill the GPS program? It’s really very simple: ‘Why would we need a satellite navigation system when we have perfectly good [inertial navigation system, or] INS for airplanes? Why would we do it?’ Nobody could see the future of what GPS was going to bring to the world.”
First developed and launched late in the Cold War, GPS made its combat debut in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and ever since has informed the movements and targeting capabilities of the Department of Defense. More than that, since GPS signals were opened to the commercial world, everything from road trips to finding new restaurants to the entire development of self-driving cars has hinged around accessing the reliable signals, that let machines and people know exactly where they are in time and space. The whole architecture is simultaneously vital and vulnerable and, in the era of a pending Space Force, an unspoken mandate is that it has never been more important that the United States ensure the signal endures. It is the potential risk of losing GPS, and everything else supported by the satellite network, that serves as the foundation for much of the discussion around a new Space Force. For as long as humans have put objects into orbit, space has been a military domain, but one with a curious distinction from other fighting theaters: while land, sea and air have all seen direct armed confrontation, space is instead a storehouse for sensors, where weapons are vanishingly rare and have yet to be used in anger.
“Capabilities that we have built that we now take for granted in the Air Force, the whole [remotely piloted aircraft, or RPA] fleet that we fly, is impossible without space,” Hyten said at another speech in 2015. “You cannot have Creech Air Force Base without space because the operators at Creech reach out and talk to their RPAs via satellite links. Those aircraft are guided by GPS. You take away GPS, you take away SATCOM, you take away RPAs. They don’t exist anymore. All those things are fundamentally changed in the Air Force.”
Looking over the horizon
Missiles remain the most effective way for nations to reach out and mess with something in orbit, and so long as GPS satellites cost around $500m to build and launch, the cost of destroying a satellite will remain cheaper than fielding satellites. There is a double asymmetry here: not only are the satellites that power the GPS network expensive to build and launch, but the United States relies on this network to a far greater extent than any adversary that might decide to shoot those satellites down. This vulnerability is one reason that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding development of networks of smaller satellites, which are individually less capable than existing models but are cheaper to field and replace and will deploy in greater numbers, making destruction by missile a much more expensive proposition. Blackjack, the DARPA program that aims to do this, is focused on military communications satellites first, though the approach may have lessons for other satellite functions.
“Better distribution, disaggregation and diversity of space capabilities can make them more resilient against attacks,” said Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation.
“But the specific answer of how best to do that might be different for each capability. The specific techniques to make [position, navigation and timing, or] PNT more resilient may be different than the techniques needed to make satellite communications more resilient.”
Missiles are not the only threat faced by satellites in orbit. An April 2018 report by the Secure World Foundation on Global Counterspace Capabilities details the full spectrum of weapons and tools for disrupting objects in orbit, and also the nations and, in some instances, nonstate actors that can field those tools. The nations with counterspace programs highlighted in the report include China, Russia, the United States, Iran, North Korea and India, all of which (barring Iran) are also nuclear-armed nations. Beyond anti-satellite missiles, which only China, Russia and the United States have demonstrated, the other means of messing up a satellite are the familiar bugaboos of modern machines: electronic warfare, jamming and cyberattacks.
“The most important thing is that it’s not always about the satellites in space. Space capabilities include the satellites, the user terminal/receivers, and the signals being broadcast between them. Disrupting any one of those segments could lead to loss of the capability,” Weeden said. “In many cases, it’s far easier to jam a satellite capability rather than destroy the satellite. And, from a military perspective, the end effect is what’s important.”
A satellite that cannot broadcast or whose signal cannot overcome the strength of a jammer is a satellite that is functionally offline, and the means to disable satellites extend beyond the traditional strengths of near-peer competitors to the United States and down even to nonstate actors.
In 2007, the Tamil Tigers reportedly hacked the ground nodes for a commercial satellite and were able to gain control of its broadcasting capabilities, and in 2008 a set of hackers demonstrated they could eavesdrop on supposedly secure Iridium signals. A decade has passed since those demonstrations, but satellite architectures change slowly, in waves of half-a-billion dollar machines launched over time. Should a vulnerability be found on the ground, there’s lag time between how long it can be exploited and how long it can be rendered inert.
What happens if the GPS signal stutters out of sync with time? Everything about how GPS works is bound up in its ability to precisely and consistently track time. Knowing where something is depends on knowing when something was. Without the entire network of automatic navigation aids they’ve built their lives around, people will fumble. Consider what happened for 11 hours on Jan. 26, 2016.
“The root cause was a bug in the GPS network,” wrote Paul Tullis in Bloomberg. “When the U.S. Air Force, which operates the 31 satellites, decommissioned an older one and zeroed out its database values, it accidentally introduced tiny errors into the database, skewing the numbers. By the time Buckner’s inbox started blowing up, several satellites were transmitting bad timing data, running slow by 13.7 millionths of a second.”
Tullis goes on to detail the possibility and plans for a redundant ground-based navigation system that could let GPS-dependent functions of commercial machines keep working, even if a satellite slips out of sync. There is an international agreement to eventually make all signals across the Global Navigation Satellite System (GPS, Galileo, etc.) broadcast compatible civil signals. This would improve the redundancy among day-to-day civilian applications dependent upon GPS, but it would do very little for the military signals.
“There is no such compatibility between the military signals of the different constellations,” says Weeden. “In fact, during negotiations with the European Union the U.S. demanded that the Galileo protected/military signal be made separate from the GPS military signal. It is possible to create receivers that can pull in the military signals from both GPS and Galileo, but it’s not easy to do so securely.”
GPS III, which Lockheed Martin is building, will mitigate some of this when those satellites are on orbit: the new hardware is designed with stronger signals that will make them harder to jam, but that will also require new receivers on the ground. While developers are working on making those new receivers, one way to build in redundancy would be to make GPS receivers that can use both Galileo and GPS military signals, suggests Weeden. That’s a technical solution that requires at least some political finesse to achieve, but it’s one possibility for making existing infrastructure more redundant.
“But there are also other ways to get precision timing and navigation other than from GPS, such as better gyroscopes or even using airborne or terrestrial broadcasts of PNT signals,” says Weeden. “These alternatives are probably not going to be as easy to use or have other drawbacks compared to GPS, but they’re better than nothing.”
Redundant systems or complementary systems provide a safeguard against spoofing, when a navigation system is fed false GPS coordinates in order to reroute it. Big changes in inputs are easy for humans monitoring the system, say a car’s navigation or a drone flying by GPS coordinates, to spot, but subtle changes can be accepted as normal, lost as noise, and then lead people or cars or drones into places they did not plan on going.
The next generation of threats
Protecting the integrity of satellite communications from malicious interference is the centerpiece of a report from the Belfer Center, entitled “Job One for Space Force: Space Asset Cybersecurity.”
The report’s author, Gregory Falco, outlines broad goals for organizations that manage objects in space, policymakers, as well as a proposed Information Sharing and Analysis Center for space. These include everything from adopting cybersecurity practices like working with security researchers and encrypting communications to setting up a mechanism for organizations to disclose if their satellites suffered interference or hacking. If the security of GPS is suffering from anything, it is less ignorance of the threat and more complacency in the continued durability of the system as currently operating.
“Cybersecurity challenges will only become more substantial as technology continues to evolve and attackers will always find the weakest link to penetrate a target system,” writes Falco. “Today, space assets are that weakest link. Space asset organizations must not wait for policy-makers to take action on this issue, as there are several steps that could be taken to secure their systems without policy guidance.”
The fourth domain of space is more directly threatened by threats traveling through the fifth domain of cyberspace than anything else. To the extent that space requires a specialized hand, it is managing from the start to the launch the specific vulnerabilities of orbital assets, and the points at which they are controlled from the ground. Perhaps the way to address that specific problem is a Space Force framed around the physical and cybersecurity needs of satellites. Raytheon is the contractor tasked with building GPS OCX, the next-generation operational control system for the satellite network. After years of delay in the program, Block 0 of the OCX deployed in September 2017, putting in place a system that could manage the launch and early orbit management of the new GPS satellites. Besides managing the satellites, the control system has to ensure that only the right people access the controls, and that means extensive cybersecurity. Raytheon says that, together with the Air Force, the company recently completed two cybersecurity assessments, including a simulated attack by an adversary. While Air Force classification prevents Raytheon from disclosing the results of that test, the company’s president of intelligence, information and services, Dave Wajsgras, offered this:
“We’ve built a layered defense and implemented all information assurance requirements for the program into this system. We’re cognizant that the cyber threat will always change, so we’ve built GPS OCX to evolve and to make sure it’s always operating at this level of protection.”
Ideally, this massive job of protecting GPS will fall to the Space Force.
“One of the big drivers for the Space Force is improving the space acquisitions process, and another is developing better ways to defend U.S. military satellites against attack,” says Weeden. “So, in that context, the Space Force debate could impact the future of GPS.”
Yet many of the answers to vulnerabilities in space are not found in orbit, and it’s possible that shifting the full responsibility for signal security to a body built around managing satellites would miss the ways greater signal redundancy can be built in atmospheric or terrestrial systems. The Army and Navy are funding GPS alternatives, but that funding is minuscule by Pentagon standards.
“The United States should take smart steps to make its space force more resilient,” writes Paul Scharre of the Center for New American Security, “but the U.S. also needs to be investing in ways to fight without space, given the inherent vulnerabilities in the domain.” (Source: Defense News)
29 Aug 18. Northrop Grumman gets a start on next-gen missile warning satellites. The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a contract worth as much as $47m for an analysis of system and payload requirements for a new missile warning satellite system in polar orbit. Specifically, the contract will be used for the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar (OPIR) space vehicles 1 and 2. Work will be performed in Redondo Beach, California, and is expected to be completed by June 25, 2020, according to a contract announcement. The OPIR polar space vehicles will be part of a five-satellite constellation that will augment the legacy Space-based Infrared Satellite (SBIRS), which operates as the U.S. military’s early warning missile system. During the fiscal year 2019 budget release, the Air Force announced its plans to cancel the 7th and 8th SBIRS satellites in favor or reallocating funds towards OPIR systems.
In May 2018, the Air Force released a notice of intent to sole-source contracts to Lockheed Martin and Northrop for the new program. Lockheed Martin will produce three geosynchronous orbiting satellites and Northrop Grumman is responsible for two polar orbiting satellites. The first geosynchronous OPIR satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2023, and the first polar satellite is scheduled to launch in 2027. The Air Force wants the entire “block O” architecture to be operational by FY 2029. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the SBIRS satellites. Northrop Grumman provides the sensors, a scanner and a starer, on those satellites.
When the Air Force released the notice of intent in May, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said the service needs to move as quickly as possible on the program. “As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” she said. “The next-generation missile warning satellite will be a pace-setter.” According to prepared remarks of her speech at the Space Symposium in April, Wilson said, “We aren’t going to spend years on an analysis of alternatives. We will drive toward simplicity and use known sensor technology … But the biggest barrier to speed isn’t in industry; it’s in the Pentagon.” The Air Force wants the new satellites to be more resistant to emerging threats and be able to operate in contested electromagnetic environments. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
30 Aug 18. SA to build small satellite capabilities. Building on South Australia’s capability to design and manufacture small satellites, one of the fastest growing segments of the space industry, could be key to Australia’s growth in the global space market. The US$2.3bn small satellite market, which is poised to reach beyond US$9.8bn in revenue by the end of the 2028 according to Future Market Insights, provides enormous opportunities for innovative local start-ups and companies specialising in the development of nano-satellites and micro-satellites. The South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC) is currently building relationships with several key international players in the small satellite market, including NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the UK’s Catapult and University of Surrey Space Centre, after attending the 32nd Annual Small Satellite Conference from 4-9 August.
“The small satellite market is one of the fastest growing segments in space, and Australia has the chance to enter this high growth industry by designing and building its own satellite technology,” SASIC chief executive Richard Price said.
Robust growth in the small satellite market is being fuelled by new and cheaper technology, shorter development cycles, combined with soaring satellite adoption for R&D purposes and increasing demand for low Earth orbit services. Responding to the growing interest in small satellites for science applications, NASA is supporting an initiative that will spend $100m a year on a series of projects, ranging from proposals for technology demonstration missions to new launch opportunities for small satellites. South Australia already has strong capabilities in the space sector, with a number of local start-ups, including Inovor Technologies and Neumann Space, developing cutting-edge small satellite and space technologies. Italian satellite company SITAEL, which has the capacity to design and manufacture satellites and payloads of up to 300 kilograms, recently established a presence in South Australia.
Price said, “South Australia will continue to build on its space capabilities and strengthen international relationships to foster collaboration opportunities in the nascent small satellite market.”(Source: Defence Connect)
29 Aug 18. Space Sector To Benefit From Multi-Million Pound Work On UK Alternative To Galileo.
- Government to invest £92m of Brexit readiness money on plans for independent satellite system
- 18-month study will look at the design and development of UK programme
- This will inform the decision to create the system as an alternative to Galileo
- The UK Space Agency will lead the work with full support from the Ministry of Defence
UK industry will benefit from a £92m injection to design a national alternative to the EU’s Galileo satellite system, ensuring UK security post Brexit. The money has been allocated from the £3bn Brexit readiness fund announced at last year’s Budget and will be rolled out over the coming months. Satellite navigation systems like GPS are increasingly important for commercial, military and other critical applications, from guiding aircraft, ships and emergency services to helping millions of people find their way on car journeys. A recent government study estimated that sustained disruption to satellite navigation would cost the UK economy £1bn per day.
The government has been clear that the UK wants to remain involved in the Galileo programme, and is negotiating with the European Commission to this end. But without the assurance that UK industry can collaborate on an equal basis now and in the future, and without access to the necessary security-related information to rely on Galileo for military functions such as missile guidance, the UK would be obliged to end its participation in the project. The UK Space Agency is leading this phase of the work to look at options for a British Global Navigation Satellite System, which would fully meet UK security requirements and support the UK’s sovereign space and cryptography sectors. This significant new investment will develop specific technical proposals with the Ministry of Defence playing a full role in support. The 18-month engineering, design and development project will deliver a detailed technical assessment and schedule of a UK global positioning system. This would provide both civilian and encrypted signals and be compatible with the US GPS system. UK industry has been instrumental in developing Galileo technology and encryption, and this experience will be used in developing the alternative, with a number of multi-million-pound contracts available for British space companies.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said, “Britain is a world leader in the space industry and satellites. We are investing in an alternative option to Galileo to ensure our future security needs are met using the UK’s world-leading space sector. Our position on Galileo has been consistent and clear. We have repeatedly highlighted the specialist expertise we bring to the project and the risks in time delays and cost increases that the European Commission is taking by excluding UK industry. Britain has the skills, expertise and commitment to create our own sovereign satellite system and I am determined that we take full advantage of the opportunities this brings, backed by our modern Industrial Strategy.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “The danger space poses as a new front for warfare is one of my personal priorities, and it is absolutely right that we waste no time in going it alone if we need an independent satellite system to combat those emerging threats. This alternative system and the UK’s very first Defence Space Strategy which I will launch later this year will be a further boost to military skills, our innovative businesses and our genuinely world-leading role which has seen us make such a key contribution to Galileo.”
Dr Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency said, “We remain confident in the strength of our space sector and look forward to working in partnership with them on the exciting prospect of a national satellite navigation system.”
Even if the decision was taken not to create a UK independent satellite system and the UK remained a full member of Galileo post-Brexit, this work would support UK jobs and expertise in areas including spacecraft and antenna design, satellite control systems, cryptography and cyber security. It will also support the UK’s growing space sector.
GROWING SPACE SECTOR
Britain’s space industry is going from strength to strength. At the Farnborough International Airshow in July, the government committed £31.5m to support the development of a spaceport in Sutherland in Scotland and commercial operations from the site, which could be the first in Europe and will see rockets lift off from UK soil.
Horizontal launch sites also have significant potential in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain. Sites such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia will be boosted by an additional £2m fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions. Low cost access to space is important for the UK’s thriving space sector which builds more small satellites than any other country, with Glasgow building more than any other city in Europe. The UK Space Agency is driving the growth of the space sector as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy with major initiatives including the £99m National Space Test Facility at Harwell, and the UK continues to be a leading member of the European Space Agency, which is independent of the EU.
28 Aug 18. UK puts £92m into feasibility study for Galileo alternative. First step in ensuring access to fallback satellite navigation system after Brexit. Britain has committed close to £100m to exploring the development of a domestic satellite navigation system as Brussels refuses to back down in a dispute over access to the EU Galileo project. The £92m funding, announced by the UK Space Agency late on Tuesday, will pay for a feasibility study of a national alternative to the €10bn Galileo programme. It is the clearest sign yet of the government’s determination to go it alone in a bid to protect Britain’s nascent space industry and ensure the British military has an independent alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The commitment comes after Greg Clark, the business secretary, appealed to the Treasury for funding in June given Brussels’ opposition to UK involvement in the secure elements of Galileo once it leaves the EU next March. The money has been allocated from the government’s £3bn “Brexit readiness fund” announced in last year’s budget. The government has “been clear” that the UK wants to remain involved in the Galileo programme, the UK Space Agency said in a statement. However, without the assurance that British industry can collaborate on an equal basis “now and in the future”, and “without access to the necessary security-related information to rely on Galileo for military functions”, the UK would be obliged “to end its participation in the project”, it added. Britain has invested €1.4bn in Galileo since its launch in 2003 as the world’s first civil-run satellite navigation system and an independent rival to GPS. Recommended Analysis Brexit UK space industry ponders life without Galileo Under EU rules, non-member states cannot be involved in the development of Galileo’s secure public regulated service (PRS), an encrypted navigation system for government users. Yet British companies have been heavily involved in the development of the service. They are now being blocked out of bidding for contracts unless they pledge to move all work to EU member states from March 2019. EU rules allow for third-country military to use PRS with a security agreement. But Britain has argued that it also needs oversight of the technology and its future development if it is to have confidence in the security of the system. Britain was investing in an alternative to Galileo to ensure “future security needs are met using the UK’s world-leading space sector”, said Mr Clark. “Our position on Galileo has been consistent and clear. We have repeatedly highlighted the specialist expertise we bring to the project and the risks in time delays and cost increases that the European Commission is taking by excluding UK industry.” Industry experts have estimated it could cost the UK more than £3bn to develop a replacement for Galileo. Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS Group, the industry trade body, defended the size of the initial investment, noting that it would enable industry and government “to do the preparatory work to know and understand what needs to be done”. The 18-month study will be led by the UK Space Agency with support from the Ministry of Defence, and will look at the engineering, design and development of a UK programme. (Source: FT.com)
28 Aug 18. COMSAT, a leader in satellite connectivity to the US DoD, has announced a seven-year Master Distribution Agreement (MDA) with London‐listed Avanti Communications plc (AVN.L). COMSAT will benefit from the Avanti advanced satellite fleet and particularly from the Hylas 4 satellite, a High‐Throughput Satellite (HTS), focused on the Middle East and Africa. In turn, Avanti will gain immediate access to US global governmental and military activity that may otherwise take multiple years to gain approval to serve. Hylas‐4, with four uniquely steerable HTS beams and a further 64 Fixed beams, will enter service in September, 2018. The agreement will allow COMSAT to offer advanced, complete service packages to its customers, with focus on Africa and the Middle East and on particular high‐value deployments currently planned or underway.
Comments David Greenhill, President of COMSAT: “With Avanti, we have found a well‐balanced partner to better‐serve our customers. Our decades of experience and technical capability will blend with their state‐of‐art, WGS‐compatible, Hylas‐4 satellite, built by US manufacturer, Orbital ATK. We look forward to delivering great performance and value for our customers”.
Kyle Whitehill, CEO of Avanti observed: “Our partnership with COMSAT is disruptive in the most positive way. It takes us into new markets, with our highly capable satellite fleet paired to a global leader in Satcom innovation. We are delighted to create shareholder value through new opportunity. Avanti advances on”.
27 Aug 18. NSW space start-ups set for American landing. The NSW government has announced funding for seven NSW space start-up companies to attend the AusTrade Landing Pad in the US for an intense ‘boot camp’ learning experience. Start-ups heading to the US include Arlula, Azimuth Advisory, The Blueprint Lab, High Earth Orbit Robotics, Saber Astronautics, Seaskip and Space Ops Australia.
- Arlula: The Arlula platform allows organisations to purchase access to Earth observation satellites in orbit to conduct commercial and research experiments in space.
- Azimuth Advisory: Australia’s only law firm with significant experience in legal and regulatory issues associated with space programs. Its clients include government and the space industry as well as local and international investors in space.
- The Blueprint Lab: The Blueprint Laboratory aims to develop cutting-edge robotics to push the boundaries of research and industry in remote and hostile environments, including space.
- High Earth Orbit Robotics: HEO Robotics offers on demand satellite inspection and is exploring the future potential to prospect asteroids for water and other valuable minerals.
- Saber Astronautics: Developers of mission control software for satellites that combines high-end artificial intelligence with 3D graphics to produce next generation spacecraft diagnostic tools.
- Seaskip: Develops miniaturised, high frequency sensor systems for use on cubesats and other unmanned aerial platforms.
- Space Ops Australia: Space Ops is aiming to create a fully reusable space launch vehicle of the future through its ‘Return to Sender’ stepped development program.
NSW Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair said the boot camp would provide NSW companies with expert mentoring from established US space businesses.
“NSW is the already the leading state in Australia for space capabilities with about 41 per cent of all Australian space businesses based here generating around two-thirds of space industry related revenue. Exposing our start-ups to the world-leading US industry will further accelerate our growth of the industry here,” he said. Australia’s first astronaut, Dr Paul Scully-Power AM, appointed in May as the NSW Space Industry Ambassador, is leading the bid to host the new Australian Space Agency in NSW.
Dr Scully-Power said the start-ups were selected for their innovative technology development, including next generation mission control software, reusable launch vehicles, and on-demand satellite inspection. “NSW is in a strong position to build its space industry. We are home to Australia’s first space incubator and are working with 26 space education and research departments across eight universities,” he said.
Participating start-ups will visit the AusTrade Landing Pad in San Francisco from 27-31 August. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Aug 18. GPS III satellites is making its way to the launch pad. On August 20, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) shipped the U.S. Air Force’s first GPS III space vehicle (GPS III SV01) to Cape Canaveral for its expected launch in December. Designed and built at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility near Denver, the satellite was shipped from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, to the Cape on a massive Air Force C-17 aircraft. GPS III will be the most powerful and resilient GPS satellite ever put on orbit. Developed with an entirely new design for U.S. and allied forces, it will have three times greater accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities over the previous GPS II satellite design block, which makes up today’s GPS constellation. GPS III also will be the first GPS satellite to broadcast the new L1C civil signal. Shared by other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, the L1C signal will improve future connectivity worldwide for commercial and civilian users.
“Once on orbit, the advanced technology of this first GPS III space vehicle will begin playing a major role in the Air Force’s plan to modernize the GPS satellite constellation,” said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin’s program manager for Navigation Systems. “We are excited to start bringing GPS III’s new capabilities to the world and proud to continue to serve as a valued partner for the Air Force’s positioning, navigation and timing mission systems.”
GPS III SV01 is the first of ten new GPS III satellites under contract and in full production at Lockheed Martin.
27 Aug 18. COMSAT has successfully tested and deployed its COMSAT Wideband Steaming L-Band (WiSL®) solution across various U.S. Government aeronautical and maritime platforms. This will enable the government to achieve significant cost savings by reusing existing installed SATCOM equipment, while tripling or quadrupling the throughput and capabilities of the original Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (SB) and FleetBroadband (FB) systems.
The WiSL solution utilizes Inmarsat’s reliable, worldwide L-band space and ground network and augments existing SB or FB terminals, allowing return datalinks up to 2.8 Mbps. It enhances the original functionality of the terminals, as it provides a dedicated high data rate communications link from a vehicle, maritime vessel or fixed-wing aircraft, fitted with an Inmarsat type-approved high-gain L-band terminal and antenna, as small as 10×10 inches and as light as 4.3 pounds, for each platform. The WiSL capability is enhanced with a COMSAT modem that injects a single channel per carrier (SCPC) signal through a high-gain antenna. The high throughput is achieved over a dedicated satellite service and remote management and allows the user to monitor and control satellite access. Operational beams can be built as clusters of narrow beams or custom-shaped beams. The system uses commonly available commercial equipment and provides global deployment capabilities across the existing Inmarsat constellation. WiSL is a unique solution that meets high-demand ISR needs for higher throughputs from smaller form factor antennas. The solution is managed and operated by COMSAT’s two fully-staffed network operations centers (NOCs) located in Southbury, CT and Santa Paula, CA. The COMSAT NOCs operate on a 24/7/365 basis and provide continuous monitoring and service to fielded systems worldwide.
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.