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24 Nov 22. NASA Awards Launch Services Task Order for TROPICS CubeSats Mission.
NASA has selected Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California, to provide the launch service for the agency’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission, as part of the agency’s Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract.
Rocket Lab is one of 13 companies NASA selected for VADR contracts in 2022. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the VADR contracts. As part of VADR, the fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts have a five-year ordering period with a maximum total value of $300 m across all contracts.
The TROPICS mission consists of four CubeSats intended for two low-Earth orbital planes and is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program. Rocket Lab will launch the TROPICS satellites into their operational orbits during a 60-day period (first insertion to final insertion). These two dedicated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed launches, each on an Electron Rocket are targeted to launch no earlier than May 1, 2023, enabling NASA to provide observations during the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1.
The TROPICS constellation targets the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and will provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity, as well as the horizontal and vertical structures of temperature and humidity within the storms and in their surrounding environment. These data will help scientists better understand the processes that effect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modeling and prediction.
Building on NASA’s previous procurement efforts to foster development of new launch vehicles for NASA payloads, VADR provides FAA-licensed commercial launch services for payloads that can tolerate higher risk. By using a lower level of mission assurance, and commercial best practices for launching rockets, these highly flexible contracts help broaden access to space through lower launch costs.
(Source: ASD Network)
23 Nov 22. UK secures £1.84bn investment for ESA programmes with support for Earth Observation sector. UK government commits £1.84bn for important space programmes at this year’s European Space Agency Council of Ministers meeting, held in Paris.
- UK government commits £1.84bn for important space programmes at this year’s European Space Agency Council of Ministers meeting, held in Paris
- the investment will cover a range of programmes from space sustainability to supporting the UK-built Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover
- up to £200m has also been committed to support the Earth observation sector as the EU continues to delay association to the Copernicus programme
Science, Research & Innovation Minister George Freeman, who led the successful negotiations in Paris with the UK Space Agency, has secured record commitments to grow the UK space sector and deliver on National Space Strategy ambitions, an increase on previous investments made in 2019.
The landmark deal includes:
- important UK investment of £315m in Earth observation and climate programmes: a 45% increase, deploying funds set aside for Copernicus participation to support the sector while EU programme association continues to face delays
- ESA commitment to the UK-built Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover, which is set to launch to Mars in 2028, with UK industry set to play a leading role in developing a new landing platform
- UK leadership in space sustainability via satellite management, maintenance and retrieval to support UK ambitions to lead in global space sustainability regulation and innovation
- leading UK involvement in commercially focused programmes, including communications and navigation, driving further innovation in the satellite industry
- UK leadership in the Vigil space weather mission, which will travel to a point in deep space known as L5 and give advance warning of dangerous solar storms, enhancing and securing observational capabilities, while supporting expertise such as that delivered by the UK Met Office’s Space Weather Operations Centre
- enabling the UK to set the standards for satellite climate measurements, with funding secured for further development of the TRUTHS mission, which was first proposed by scientists at the National Physical Laboratory to deliver a 10x increase in the accuracy of climate measurements
As a founding member of ESA, which is independent of the EU, the UK’s space and commercial satellite sector will play a leading role in future international missions and innovative commercial programmes. There are over 47,000 jobs in the UK space sector, which generates an estimated £16.5bn every year.
Satellites provide vital insight into the climate and our environment, and the UK committed in the National Space Strategy to remaining at the forefront of Earth observation technology. New investments will allow the UK to work with ESA to use space to fight climate change and deliver programmes that support our national interest.
UK Science, Research & Innovation Minister George Freeman said: “The rapidly growing global commercial space sector is driving a new space race for geopolitical and commercial soft-power. This is the frontline of our science superpower mission. Space is a fundamentally collaborative endeavour, so the European Space Agency Council of Ministers was an important opportunity to deepen our international relationships with the goal of advancing space technology for the benefit of all. I’m delighted to return from the meeting with such a strong package of commitments, as well as being able to provide support for our outstanding Earth observation sector, to protect it from the uncertainty caused as a result of the EU’s delays, as we continue seeking Copernicus association.”
These new investments will support the ongoing growth of the UK space and commercial satellite sector – creating new jobs around the UK from Cornwall to the North of Scotland – and securing UK leadership in space sustainability. They will put our scientists and engineers at the forefront of some of the world’s most important missions and programmes which drive transformational innovation.
The UK committed £615 m to ESA’s core space science budget, securing opportunities for UK companies to bid for high-value contracts and establishing new scientific leadership roles for UK universities. Upcoming ESA science missions range from hunting for rocky Earth-like planets outside our solar system (Plato) to sending the first gravitational wave observatory into space (LISA).
The UK space sector will benefit from the following commitments:
- £217m towards the global exploration programme, supporting robotic missions to Mars and contributing to the Artemis Moon programme, including the Argonaut (European Large Logistics Lander), Gateway space station and commercial lunar communications systems
- £206m for telecommunications programmes, building on the success of the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications in Harwell, to enable faster 5G and future 6G connectivity, develop new optical and quantum communications systems, and support constellations of Low Earth Orbit satellites
- £111m to bolster space safety and security, improving forecasting and building resilience to dangerous space weather, protecting critical national infrastructure, tackling the growing challenge of space debris and catalysing growth and further investment in high-potential areas including in-orbit satellite servicing and manufacturing
- £71m to back new technologies, helping smaller businesses develop new ideas and products, reducing reliance on non-European nations for important electrical and electronic components, supporting emerging areas such as space-based solar power, and creating radioisotope heat and power systems derived from nuclear waste, to fuel a new generation of missions
Through our investments in ESA, we are taking part in a range of ambitious programmes that will help keep the UK at the forefront of Earth observation technology and knowhow. This includes investment in Aeolus-2, ESA Digital Twin Earth and InCubed-2, as well as additional, targeted funding in TRUTHS and the FutureEO programme. The package of measures delivered through ESA, as part of a wider programme of support for the UK’s Earth Observation sector totals £122m.
Additional investments include over £30m on satellite navigation innovations and £13m to support commercial spaceflight, as we countdown to the first satellite launches from UK soil.
Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said:
From protecting our own planet to exploring new worlds, we invest in these programmes because they benefit humanity and deliver a strong return to the UK economy.
Our membership of ESA adds significant firepower to our national space ambitions, complementing the UK Space Agency’s work to catalyse investment, deliver new missions and capabilities, and champion the power of space for businesses and people across the country.
Taken together, this represents the most ambitious and comprehensive package of investments with ESA ever. This also comes following last week’s fiscal statement last week, in which the Chancellor pledged to maintain the UK’s commitment to increasing R&D investment to £20 bn per year in 2024 to 2025.
Copernicus and Earth Observation
These investments come in the context of continued delays from the EU in agreeing the UK’s association to the EU research programmes, including the Copernicus Earth Observation programme.
The Earth observation sector has suffered instability as a result of this uncertainty, which is why the government has announced a package of up to £200m in support today, deployed as part of the funding initially allocated to EU programme association, and which has not been utilised for this purpose for 2 years given the ongoing delays.
A £122m segment of the package has been committed to 5 of ESA’s outstanding programmes, with a further £66m being allocated to 12 UK-led projects.
The package covers a robust range of national and international projects across all facets of the sector, from gathering and processing, to the application of, Earth observation data. There is a strong focus on climate and meteorological science, building on the UK’s significant strengths in this area, while delivering direct benefit to the UK economy and supporting our shared global ambition to combat climate change. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 Nov 22. EchoStar and Maxar Amend Agreement for Hughes JUPITER 3 Satellite Production. EchoStar Corporation (Nasdaq: SATS) today announced an amended agreement with Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR) for production of the EchoStar XXIV satellite, also known as JUPITER™ 3. The satellite, designed for EchoStar’s Hughes Network Systems division, is under production at Maxar’s facility in Palo Alto, CA. The amended agreement compensates EchoStar for past production delays by providing relief on future payments and expands EchoStar’s recourse in the event of any further delays. The satellite is currently planned to launch in the first half of 2023.
“Launching and bringing the Hughes JUPITER 3 satellite into service is our highest priority to meet our customers’ needs for connectivity,” said Hamid Akhavan, CEO, EchoStar. “This agreement ensures that Maxar shares that priority with us and reinforces our joint commitment to complete production of the satellite to world-class standards, as expeditiously as possible.”
“We look forward to continuing our strong collaboration with EchoStar to complete construction of the JUPITER 3 satellite in line with the current schedule,” said Daniel Jablonsky, President and CEO, Maxar. “This agreement underscores Maxar’s state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities as we enter into the final phases of construction of this ground-breaking spacecraft.”
Once in service, JUPITER 3 will deliver over 500 Gbps of high-throughput satellite capacity, doubling the size of the Hughes JUPITER fleet over North and South America. The satellite will bring ample capacity to grow the company’s flagship satellite internet service, HughesNet®, and help meet consumer, aeronautical and enterprise demand for more bandwidth and higher speeds.
The satellite is now undergoing final integration in preparation for dynamics testing. Remaining work on the satellite consists of the launch dynamics test, final spacecraft performance tests and shipment to the launch base. (Source: PR Newswire)
21 Nov 22. SDA ponders signal, tech trade-offs for alternate GPS satellite payloads.
“SDA is considering signals different to GPS, but offered within the same frequency bands. If SDA’s military PNT service is located within the existing GPS frequency bands, it will minimize integration cost of new antenna systems on terrestrial weapon systems,” explained Jennifer Elzea, SDA spokesperson.
The Space Development Agency wants to include hosted payloads on its future data relay satellites that can provide an alternate to GPS positioning, navigation and timing services, but has yet to determine exactly how — something that officials are hoping industry responses to the agency’s recent request for information, due today, will help clarify.
“The goal is to proliferate a complementary PNT service that can augment DOD PNT users, providing enhancements to military GPS users,” Jennifer Elzea, SDA spokesperson, told Breaking Defense, meaning that users “could use both GPS and the SDA signal.”
What form that SDA signal would take has yet to be determined, Elzea explained, and is subject to a number of tradeoffs — not the least of which are size, weight, power and cost (SWAP-C) considerations — for fitting the payloads to the agency’s batch of Transport Layer satellites due to be launched in 2026, called Tranche 2.
Tranche 2, numbering some 250 satellites, are planned to provide users with global access to the Transport Layer, which is being developed as the satellite communications backbone for the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept. Overall, SDA is looking at orbiting a mesh network of more than 500 Transport Layer satellites connected to each other via laser links, as well as directly to weapons platforms via various types of downlinks.
In recent years the military has been exploring alternatives to GPS, under the assumption that in a future conflict it will operate in contested environments where GPS signals might be jammed, or the satellites beaming them down to soldiers would themselves come under cyber or kinetic attack.
“SDA is considering signals different to GPS, but offered within the same frequency bands. If SDA’s military PNT service is located within the existing GPS frequency bands, it will minimize integration cost of new antenna systems on terrestrial weapon systems. We are investigating multiple use cases to determine the greatest impact to the warfighter,” Elzea said.
SDA’s Nov. 9 RFI specified that the agency was looking at using “a low cost L-band PNT service,” based on the two main frequencies used by GPS: L1 (1575.42 +/- 12.276 MHz) and L2 (1227.6 MHz +/- 12.276 MHz).
Another question is whether the payloads should carry the highly encrypted M-code signal, a more powerful signal to help military users overcome jamming and protect against false GPS signals being used to spoof users by misdirecting them. The Space Force has been struggling to deploy the ground system required for managing use of the M-code on current and future GPS satellites, and the Defense Department has been bogged down for decades in fielding radios and other devices across the services that can access it.
“M-Code is a consideration, but the exact signal and its features has not been decided. SDA is investigating other signals as well,” Elzea said.
She noted that SDA’s planned National Defense Space Architecture of large constellations in low Earth orbit overall is being designed for cyber resilience, although “new PNT signal design trades are considering jam resistance weight against other potential threats to DoD PNT systems.”
SDA further is testing out alternate PNT technologies, as well as other high-risk experimental payloads, under its National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed, or NExT. The agency last month awarded Ball Aerospace a $176m NExT contract for development, manufacture, deployment, launch, and operations of a set of 10 space vehicles and mission-enabling ground systems, set to fly beginning in 2024.
The NDSA comprises seven layers of capabilities, both on orbit and on the ground. It includes not just LEO satellites that SDA itself is designing and launching — such as the Transport Layer and the Tracking Layer of missile warning/missile tracking satellites — but also capabilities to integrate and fuse data from other military satellites, as well as commercial constellations. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense.com)
21 Nov 22. DataPath delivers portable satellite communications terminal to USSF. The new DKET features various technological enhancements and enhanced transportability. US-based company Datapath has handed over a new portable satellite communications terminal to the US Space Force (USSF). Known as Deployable Ku Band Earth Terminal (DKET), the new communications terminal has been designed to offer operational flexibility, connectivity, capacity and control to both military and commercial users.
The recently delivered third-generation DKET includes new technological enhancements and enhanced transportability to provide a network hub that can be easily deployed in less than four hours.
DataPath sales and marketing senior vice-president Barry Botts said: “We are honoured to support the US Space Force and their mission.
“For over 25 years, our employees have focused on providing innovative command, control, computers, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) solutions for our nation’s military and commercial customers.
“We recognise the importance of our customers’ critical programmes and are proud to have DataPath and our solutions as a continued part of their successes.”
Based in Georgia, US, DataPath specialises in delivering advanced, customised and secure communications solutions along with associated technical support services to aerospace, commercial, military and other government customers.
The company offers a wide range of field communications and information technology solutions such as network management software and satellite communications systems.
DataPath’s DKET series of transportable satellite earth terminals provide high-speed network connectivity from any remote location.
According to the company, this reliable, flexible and scalable network hub can be established in the form of a single-skid earth terminal.
The DKET set-up can also be easily transported over air, land and at the sea using a wide range of aircraft and vehicles.
Boeing recently demonstrated its protected tactical satellite communication prototype to support the USSF programme. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
21 Nov 22. Blue Origin to compete for next NSSL launch service competition. The new signing represents the commencement of New Glenn certification activities that started in 2018. The US Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Assured Access to Space (AATS) has entered a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Blue Origin. The formal agreement was finalised during a private ceremony held at SSC’s headquarters, Los Angeles Air Force Base, El Segundo, California, on 18 November.
It was signed between AATS programme executive officer and SSC Space Operations director brigadier general Stephen Purdy, Jr, and Blue Origin New Glenn senior vice-president Jarrett Jones.
The new signing represents the commencement of New Glenn certification activities that started in 2018 when Blue Origin secured the initial launch service agreement (LSA).
In 2020, the US SSC terminated LSA with Blue Origin after National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 winners were announced.
Purdy said: “This agreement paves the way for Blue Origin to compete for the next NSSL launch service competition and is an example of how we foster competition and leverage industry innovation.
“More competitors in the National Security Space arena will help us meet an important national defence imperative to field advanced capabilities in space and get capabilities into the hands of our warfighters faster.”
As part of the newly signed deal, Blue Origin is required to complete the certification flights of its heavy-lift launch vehicle, New Glenn.
The company should also provide the associated design and qualification data to AATS for conducting its independent verification and validation process.
The spaceport and transformative range initiatives will help AATS to meet unprecedented launch demands.
Jones said: “We are excited to formally begin executing flight worthiness certification processes, which will enable Space Force to maintain assured access to space and achieve 100% mission success with the New Glenn launch system.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
22 Nov 22. Japan Space Imaging Corporation signs up to Satellite Vu’s Early Access Option Programme, Satellite Vu, the British company launching a unique constellation of satellites that will deliver insights supporting global challenges, from the highest resolution thermal data from space, has signed a multi-m pound purchase option with Japan Space Imaging Corporation (JSI) following the opening of Satellite Vu’s Early Access Option Programme (EAOP).
The EAOP provides customers and partners with preferred access to Satellite Vu’s imagery, products, and services; as well as the opportunity to secure satellite capacity to support operational and business requirements.
Tokyo based space company, JSI, is the leading provider of geospatial information including satellite data, serving defence and intelligence customers as well as civil and commercial markets in Japan. Equipped with Satellite Vu’s data and insights, JSI will expand their global imaging portfolio with high-resolution thermal data for any location on the planet.
Ahead of first launch in May 2023, Satellite Vu has been collecting sample data via an aerial campaign. Partners of the EAOP can influence the location of further aerial campaigns, as well as benefiting from early access to the archive. This will give EAOP partners a head start in applying the insights from Satellite Vu’s unique data, and developing their workflows, ahead of the satellite’s launch.
During commissioning phase, the EAOP enables access to sample images from the satellite archive using Satellite Vu’s delivery platform and API, while also reserving valuable capacity on the first satellite to enable service delivery.
Anthony Baker, Founder and CEO of Satellite Vu, said: “We are excited to be working with JSI to provide our high-resolution data to expand and enhance their imaging portfolio and boost their national security efforts. The benefits of satellite technology and data from space are being felt across the globe, and the launch of our first thermal infrared monitoring satellites next year is the first step in our journey to providing high-quality, consistent data which can have a huge impact for governments and businesses.”
Koji Ueda, CEO and President, Japan Space Imaging Corporation, commented:
“We are thrilled with this partnership with Satellite Vu. Our customers are already expressing their interest in the unique capabilities Satellite Vu brings into the market and we cannot wait to serve them with this innovative data and help them address challenging problems in various fields, including national security threats and climate change mitigation.” (Source: PR Newswire)
22 Nov 22. Lockheed Martin Australia signs education, R&D MoU with UNSW Canberra Space. Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) has signed a two-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space to contribute to a comprehensive space education program with research and development (R&D) and industry engagement pathways.
The landmark agreement will underpin deep collaboration between LMA and UNSW Canberra Space and help develop the capabilities, training and educational opportunities Australia needs to strengthen and diversify its future space workforce.
“Lockheed Martin Australia has a long and enduring history in space,” said David Ball, LMA’s Regional Director for Space. “With our expertise and resources, we are uniquely positioned to help students develop essential skills in space and space innovation.
“Building the capability of the nation’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is an absolute priority for Lockheed Martin Australia. Through this collaboration with UNSW Canberra Space, we look forward to paving the way for future space professionals and supporting a robust, sustainable and resilient industry,” he added.
Curriculum and educational resources from Lockheed Martin’s Space Training Institute will form the backbone of an immersive, hands-on program designed to share invaluable industry knowledge and experience with students.
This includes the potential for internships, lectures and mentoring from Lockheed Martin Australia Fellows. It also includes connections to other subject matter experts and opportunities for R&D with access to Lockheed Martin Australia’s facilities and equipment.
“UNSW is excited to build on its already established relationship with Lockheed Martin Australia to take our space curriculum to the next level,” said Professor Russell Boyce, director of UNSW Canberra Space. “With its existing infrastructure, dedicated space capabilities and significant investment in future growth, Lockheed Martin Australia will assist with providing our students with unparalleled learning opportunities.
“With Lockheed Martin Australia’s support, we will take this program beyond the textbook and create an environment where students can pursue R&D projects and gain real-world industry experience that will best prepare them to enter the space workforce,” Prof. Boyce added.
In addition to working with UNSW, Lockheed Martin Australia has invested in STEM initiatives with the National Youth Science Forum, Questacon, University of Newcastle and the NSW Government’s STEMStart Program. Most recently, Lockheed Martin Australia announced the commencement of its 10-year education initiative with STEM Punks under its proposed JP9102 solution to deliver a next-generation, sovereign military satellite communication (MILSATCOM) capability to the Australian Defence Force. (Source: Rumour Control)
13 Nov 22. SpaceX Falcon 9 shifts the Intelsat G-31 + G-32 satellites from Earth to their orbits. The Maxar manufactured Intelsat Galaxy 31 and Galaxy 32 satellites launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Photo courtesy of SpaceX.
On Saturday, November 12, at 11:06 a.m., ET, a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the Intelsat G-31/G-32 mission to a geosynchronous transfer orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
This was the 14th launch of this booster, which previously supported Dragon’s first crew demonstration mission, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and 10 Starlink missions.
“Today’s successful launch is part of our Galaxy fleet refresh plan and is a clear demonstration of Intelsat’s commitment to our media customers,” said Intelsat CEO, Dave Wajsgras. “The Galaxy fleet is the most reliable and efficient media content distribution system in North America, and our customers can continue to count on it for years to come.”
Galaxy 31 separated from the vehicle at 11:46 a.m., EST, and Intelsat confirmed signal acquisition at 11:59 a.m., EST. Galaxy 32 separated from the vehicle at 11:41 a.m., EST, and Intelsat confirmed its signal acquisition at 11:50 a.m., EST.
Galaxy 31 will replace Galaxy 23 at 121 degrees west and will initiate service in early 2023. The satellite will provide distribution services to cable headends throughout the United States.
Galaxy 32 will replace the C-band payload of Galaxy 17 at 91 degrees west in early 2023. This satellite will provide service continuity for Intelsat’s media customers, with high-performance distribution to viewers in North America.
This launch continues Intelsat’s Galaxy fleet refresh plan that started with Galaxy 30 in 2020 and carries the second set of a total of seven new Intelsat satellites launching during the next six months.
Original news item…
Galaxy 31 (left) and Galaxy 32 (right) are shown here at Maxar’s manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California, ahead of shipment to launch base. These satellites will provide primarily video distribution services to customers in the continental U.S. Photo is courtesy of Maxar.
The 120-minute launch window opens at 11:06 a.m. ET (16:06 UTC). A backup launch opportunity is available on Sunday, November 13, with the same window.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched Dragon’s first crew demonstration mission, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and 10 Starlink missions. (Source: Satnews)
12 Nov 22. Intellian’s new NX PM VSAT terminal receives WGS Certification. Intellian Technologies, flagship v130NX PM Dual-Ka (AN/USC-73) terminal has been certified for use on the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation. Intellian Technologies is a provider of feature-rich, satellite communications solutions. WGS is a high-capacity United States Space Force satellite communication system, developed in partnership between the Defense Departments of the U.S., Canada, Australia and other member nations.
Communications and Navigational Warfare logo. DEL 8 is a space mission delta of Space Operations Command.
Intellian’s v130NX PM Dual-Ka (AN/USC-73) is now approved for use on the WGS satellite constellation by the United States Space Force, Space Delta 8 (USSF), without any caveat or special stipulations. The terminal provides Naval WGS users unprecedented flexibility to access WGS without the complexity inherent in legacy WGS/DSCS certified maritime terminals.
Built upon the field tested and market proven NX series, the v130NX PM Dual-Ka terminal features the AptusNX antenna management and control system which provides an intuitive interface for configuration and maintenance.
Intellian’s v130NX PM Dual-Ka (AN/USC-73)
The v130NX PM is certified for multi-carrier Ka-band services on WGS. It was designed completely to support Intellian’s Orchestra policy-based connectivity management system. The certified WGS configuration includes Intellian’s Intelligent Mediator IM8, an active RF matrix switch that mediates top-side terminals and below-deck modems or waveforms. These capabilities provide the crew with additional unprecedented layers of connectivity resiliency for their respective missions.
This terminal was designed to meet the modern requirements of the US DoD. The v130NX PM Dual-Ka (AN/USC-73) terminal electronically switches between Military and Commercial Ka-band services, to provide resiliency and orbit diversity without the manual intervention necessary with previous WGS certified maritime antenna systems.
“WGS Certification is one of the most stringent and intensive certifications for any satellite communication hardware system to complete successfully. Additionally, Intellian is extremely proud to have achieved the “unconditional use” classification. The successful WGS Certification of the v130NX Dual-Ka validates Intellian’s position as a leading designer and supplier of cutting-edge satellite communications systems. We are thankful for the opportunity to work with our DoD customers to help solve their complex communications challenges” said Sam McKee, General Manager of Intellian Technologies USA, Inc. (Source: Satnews)
12 Nov 22. ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicle lofts NOAA’s / NASA’s JPSS-2 satellite to orbit. A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 mission for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) lifted off on November 10 at 1:49 a.m., PST, from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Once separated, LOFTID reentered Earth’s atmosphere, deployed its parachute and landed off the coast of Hawaii. This experiment demonstrates how an inflatable aeroshell, or heat shield, could deliver heavy payloads safely through the atmosphere to the surface of Earth and potentially other planets.
“We depend on accuracy and timeliness of weather prediction models for enhanced weather forecasting and climate observations. Our ULA team is proud to launch the JPSS-2 mission that supports advanced forecasting of extreme weather and global climate monitoring,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “Additionally, we look forward to reviewing the data collected from LOFTID as we explore Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) technology for engine reusability on our future Vulcan rocket. Successfully deploying these two payloads is a monumental achievement; thank you to our mission partners for their outstanding teamwork.”
“The NASA and ULA public-private LOFTID partnership was the ideal pairing opportunity for demonstrating our Vulcan reuse plans,” said Mark Peller, ULA vice president of Major Development. “This demonstration allows ULA to focus on launch integration applications for engine recovery including parachute development, transportation and recovery, flight environments, precision navigation for landing and recovery and more.”
Leveraging a legacy of 100 percent mission success launching more than 150 missions to explore, protect and enhance our world, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider with world-leading reliability, schedule confidence, and mission optimization. We deliver value unmatched by any launch services company in the industry, a tireless drive to improve, and commitment to the extraordinary. (Source: Satnews)
12 Nov 22. DARPA’s robotic servicing of GEO sats demo mission aims for a 2024 launch + Naval Research Lab + SpaceLogistics project involvement.
All component-level tests are complete on DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program and the on-orbit demonstration mission is on schedule for launch in 2024 — the RSGS goal is to enable inspection and servicing of satellites in GEO, where hundreds of satellites provide communications, meteorological, national security, and other vital functions. Currently, no options exist for visual diagnosis, upgrades or repairs of a malfunctioning satellite’s components.
Integration of the robotic payload with the spacecraft bus will begin in 2023, followed by testing and verification of the combined system. After launch in 2024, the host vehicle will use highly efficient electric propulsion to climb to GEO. Following a period of checkout and calibration activities, the program anticipates on-orbit satellite servicing activities will begin in 2025.
In 2020, DARPA partnered with SpaceLogistics, a Northrop Grumman company, to provide the spacecraft bus, launch, and operations of the integrated spacecraft in exchange for the ability to use the robotic payload to provide commercial servicing once on-orbit. DARPA is funding the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to lead development of the RSGS robotic servicing capabilities.
The on-orbit system DARPA is providing will include two robotic arms, multiple robotic tools, on-orbit checkout and calibration equipment, equipment stowage ports, cameras and lighting, and associated avionics boxes running advanced robotics control flight software. Each arm consists of seven, high-strength, high-performance joints as well as a tool drive. Avionics boxes provide power, data and control services to the arms.
The RSGS arms are robust enough to be fully testable in Earth gravity. Few, if any, other spaceflight robotic arms, either past or in development, meet this design criterion. This unique characteristic is what makes this combined servicing system singularly capable on-orbit, as well as fully ground testable.
To ensure survival of RSGS during launch stresses and years of operations in the harsh environment of space, both the RSGS robotics payload and the partner-provided bus will undergo extensive testing prior to launch. Major tests include those for basic functionality, vibration stresses simulating those during launch, electromagnetic tests to ensure components work together without interference, and thermal-vacuum exposures that simulate the extreme temperature and vacuum conditions of the space environment.
As with most space systems, RSGS is tested in each of these modes at a component level (by joint or box), then after arm assembly, and again at the vehicle level. The first assembled arm has successfully completed functional, vibration, and electromagnetic testing, and is preparing to begin thermal vacuum testing. The second arm is completing integration and will begin environmental testing this fall at NRL.
RSGS is intended to remain on-orbit over the long term, solving problems on existing spacecraft as they arise. DARPA designed RSGS with the ability to resupply it during flight with additional tools and hardware, enabling it to solve unanticipated or emerging challenges in GEO. With the advent of this in-space robotic capability, a variety of new services will become possible – from rescuing a new spacecraft that encounters a deployment anomaly, to upgrading older satellites that still have useful life. With RSGS, DARPA is establishing the trajectory for an on-orbit servicing industry that benefits both government and commercial clients.
“We are seeking to create a persistent operational dexterous robotic capability in geosynchronous Earth orbit,” said Ana Saplan, RSGS Program Manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “This will enable on-orbit satellite repair and upgrade, extending satellite life spans, expanding the capabilities of existing satellites, enhancing spacecraft resilience, and improving the reliability of the current U.S. space infrastructure. Through public-private partnership, DARPA will help propel this technology from demonstration to operational capability. Soon, instead of relegating satellites to space junk because of a broken part or lack of propellant, our robot mechanic will be making repair ‘service calls’ in space.”
“This partnership will enable revolutionary servicing capabilities to commercial and government users for visual diagnostics, upgrades, orbit adjustment, and satellite repairs,” Bernie Kelm, Superintendent of the Spacecraft Engineering Division, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST), said. “As the robotic payload developer, we designed this innovative set of spaceflight hardware and software that will advance national capabilities in satellite servicing.”
NRL developed the robotic tool to grapple customer satellites via their standard launch vehicle interface and procured another tool to capture resupply elements that are compatible with DARPA’s Payload Orbital Delivery (POD) design standard.
“Our diverse team of NCST engineers has focused their efforts on the robotic payload for the RSGS Program for the last seven years,” William Vincent, NRL’s RSGS program manager, said. “The Robotic Payload is one of NRL’s most complicated payload developments ever.”
NRL engineers developed multiple power and control avionics running on a distributed SpaceWire network to support an extended duration mission to control all the sensors and actuators in a robust and redundant manner. NRL procured panchromatic and color cameras, alongside designing LED lighting units to provide situational awareness during robotic activities.
“Our algorithms team developed machine vision, position control, collision avoidance, and compliance control algorithms that support robotics control and enable autonomous grapple capabilities,” Vincent said. “The algorithms are implemented in flight software which also provides all of the command-and-control functionality for the payload and provides control interfaces to the spacecraft bus.”
Robotic motions require special planning to ensure safe spacecraft operations. NRL has developed the Integrated Robotic Workstation (IRW) to accomplish just that. The IRW supports mission planning for the development of new mission activities. Once a mission is planned, the IRW supports screening activities to pre-screen all robotic motion commands in a payload simulator to verify command loads before they are sent.
Finally, using NRL’s Neptune® ground control software, the IRW commands all robotic payload activities and displays and trends payload telemetry during operations. To execute this effort, a skilled systems engineering team spent years performing system analyses, documenting requirements and interfaces, and generating a robust verification and validation plan.
“The engineers worked closely with the integration and test teams to ensure the system meets all requirements as it comes together for component, subsystem, and payload level testing,” Vincent said. “Once complete, the robotic payload will enable the wide range of missions envisioned and future missions not yet imagined.”
The RSGS team completed environmental testing of the first of two flight robotic arm systems. This included simulating the launch environment in NRL’s vibration lab, simulating both the vacuum and extreme temperature ranges of space in NRL’s thermal vacuum (TVAC) chamber, and ensuring electromagnetic interference (EMI) functionality in EMI chamber testing.
During TVAC testing, the robotic arm system demonstrated performance over temperatures representing actual on-orbit conditions. Under the harsh temperature and vacuum conditions of space, the robot arm performed a variety of operations including running pre-planned robotic calibration movements, tool actuation, and camera and light functions.
The second robotic arm system is integrated with a separate testbed that has the entire flight avionics suite. The second arm system has completed environmental testing. Robotic performance testing to demonstrate and verify robotic algorithms’ function is underway in the Robotics Testbed (RTB) at NRL’s Space Robotics Laboratory. The RTB consists of a non-spaceflight version of the flight robotic arm system and avionics hardware running flight software. This high-fidelity robotics testbed allows ground verification of many system-level robotic performance characteristics for the RSGS payload.
Compliance Control algorithm characterization and Marman Ring Detector algorithm performance characterization have been completed. Contact dynamics testing uses a sled floating on a thin layer of air to simulate the arm contacting client space vehicles ranging in mass from 75 – 3,000kg (165 – 6,613lbs.). Grapple, articulation, and release testing is scheduled later this summer.
“The systems engineering and verification efforts required by RSGS are extensive,” Amy Hurley, NRL’s Lead Systems Engineer, said. “It is amazing to see years of systems engineering and a strong verification and validation plan come together successfully.” (Source: Satnews)
12 Nov 22. Israeli + US space agencies work together + welcome partnerships to advance the space tech market.
“A private Israeli space venture recently propelled our nation into the club of four countries that have landed on the moon,” said Uri Oran, Director General of the Israel Space Agency at an US Israel Space Tech event, which took place at the Virginia Tech Briefing Center in Arlington in October. A second $100m privately funded and managed mission, called Beresheet 2 (Beresheet is the Hebrew name for the first book in the Bible, Genesis), is slated to launch in 2024.
“As we trend toward a $1-trillion space market,” added Oran, ”one of the Israel Space Agency’s priorities is to develop a national infrastructure to be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to build private space ventures.”
Attended by representatives of space related start-ups and established technology firms, as well as government and other stakeholders, the event followed by just three weeks the first meeting of the U.S.-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology held in the White House.
NASA’s Dr. Eliad Peretz, Lead Researcher for New Space Missions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, noted NASA’s openness to private sector participation when he briefed the group on access points for companies to receive NASA funding to support its core research tasks, including Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.
Starburst Aerospace, an innovation catalyst and the only aerospace accelerator in Israel, is exploring establishing a startup accelerator program in Virginia to facilitate co-development between industry leaders to solve the aerospace industry’s most pressing technological challenges, according to Noemie Alliel, Managing Director of Starburst Israel who presented at the event.
“The program will support pre-seed and seed-stage startups and focus on accelerating the product-market fit with key design partners from Starburst’s global ecosystem that will provide beta site and funding,” said Alliel.
NASA’s Dr. Eliad Peretz (right) holding a device that identifies and tracks space “garbage” to prevent collisions. Scout CEO Eric Ingram (left) from Norfolk, VA developed the product.
The Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), a state agency developing economic, cultural and educational connections between Israel and Virginia, hosted Space Tech along with the Arlington County Economic Development Agency and TYPE5, a space tech investment group. Virginia Israel Advisory Board’s Executive Director Dov Hoch said he is working with Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera to develop a STEM education program involving Virginia students with the Israel lunar lander Beresheet 2.
“We envision a learning program that will lead to launching a student digital payload to the moon, then a yearlong engagement with the lunar orbiter involving Virginia students communicating with and monitoring activities in space,” said Hoch.
“We were thrilled to partner with VIAB to host the US-Israel Space Tech Event in Arlington,” said Marian Marquez, Acting Deputy Director of Arlington Economic Development. “Earlier this year, I met with Israeli tech companies in Tel Aviv that are driving space innovation with important commercial and defense applications, and we have many great companies here in Northern Virginia doing the same. Space Tech brought them together.”
The Arlington gathering built on momentum in space tech collaboration between Virginia and Israeli companies that started in 2021 when Wakefield, Virginia, based Mil-SAT partnered with Israel’s Over-SAT in a joint venture to create Cassiopeia Space Systems Inc. (CSS). CSS presented their RIGEL Satcom Terminal at Space Tech. “I am very proud and excited to be working with Over-Sat on this game-changing technology for the new LEO networks,” said Don Richardson, CSS Director.
The venture’s initial $1-m funding came from the US-Israel Bi-National R&D fund (BIRD) whose Deputy Executive Director, Limor Nakar-Vincent, presented at Space Tech, encouraging attendees to explore R&D partnerships with Israeli companies who can receive up to $1.5-m in non-dilutive funding.
Other presenters included Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest defense company whose US headquarters is in Herndon, Virginia; Kevin Pomfret, partner at Williams Mullen Law Firm and member of the Space Law Committee of the International Bar Association; and Professor Vassilios Kovanis, Virginia Tech Innovation Campus Founding Faculty Member and Bradley Department ECE Director of the ECE Meng, who presented the relevance of Virginia Tech’s work in quantum computing as an enabling technology for space related concerns and provided a briefing on the Innovation Campus.
“To me, Space Tech was the ‘first step’ in space-related partnerships between Virginia and Israeli companies,” said VIAB’s Hoch. “It was a marvelous follow-up to an event in 2021 when then Governor Northam invited an Israeli Ministry of Defense unmanned systems delegation to Virginia. Earlier this month, UVision, an unmanned Israeli defense contractor, opened a facility in Stafford.” (Source: Satnews)
14 Nov 22. Argotec’s ArgoMoon smallsat ready for deployment with the launch of the Artemis 1 mission on November 14th. In less than a week, ArgoMoon will be among the first satellites deployed in the Artemis 1 mission, the historic test flight of the Orion spacecraft built to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
Designed, developed and operated by Argotec, ArgoMoon is equipped with two cameras. One camera will take high-resolution photos of the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, the Earth and the Moon to validate the stage’s progress. Images from a second camera will power ArgoMoon’s autonomous onboard navigation system.
ArgoMoon is a 6U satellite, built on Argotec’s highly reliable Hawk 6 platform. Its advanced technology and AI programming enable it to navigate and stabilize itself without human control.
ArgoMoon is similar to LICIACube, the smallsat that captured the impact of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe that successfully changed an asteroid’s trajectory. The more than 600 images captured by LICIACube of the impact have proven to be invaluable to the scientific community’s study of asteroids and planetary defence. However, while LICIACube had 15 days advance deployment before its fly-by, ArgoMoon will be deployed from the SLS four hours after take-off and its mission will start immediately.
Artemis I is the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, an uncrewed Orion spacecraft, and the ground systems at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is scheduled for launch on Monday, November 14th.
“ArgoMoon comes with high expectations, and it is one of the most difficult missions we have ever performed,” said David Avino, CEO and founder of Argotec. “With the remarkable performance of LICIACube capturing the DART mission, we are excited to again support NASA. We are proud to be the only European satellite on this extraordinary mission, which paves the way for humanity’s return to the Moon.” (Source: Satnews)
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