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17 Mar 23. UK and Japan sign arrangement to cooperate in space. Leaders of the Royal Air Force and the Koku-Jietai (Japan Air Self Defence Force) have signed Terms of Reference outlining future space cooperation. The UK’s Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, and Japan’s Chief of Staff of the Koku-Kietai, General Shunji Izutsu, signed a Terms of Reference document after talks at DSEI Japan, which is being held this week in Tokyo.
This arrangement establishes a framework for Space Engagement Talks, which will facilitate future cooperation between the Koku-Jietai and UK Space Command. This cooperation will cover areas such as operational knowledge sharing, collaborative exercises and training, and personnel exchanges. It also sets out a mutual desire for the sharing of space-related information through future information sharing arrangements.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “Japan is a valued international partner of the UK. We share common values and strategic interests, and we are working ever more closely in the face of global security challenges. The space domain is critical to our shared security and prosperity, and a vital area of cooperation, underpinned by UK Space Command and the Koku-Jietai.”
With an expected 10,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors from at least 15 countries, DSEI Japan is an opportunity for the UK to build and strengthen key relationships whilst promoting UK priorities in key areas such as air and missile defence, unmanned air capability, maritime, cyber and space.
Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command, said: “Our international partners are our greatest advantage in the space domain. This arrangement is an important step as we build our relationship with the JASDF, so that we can keep space safe, secure, and sustainable for the benefit of all.”
UK Space Command is the Defence lead for space operations, space workforce, and space capability. It’s a Joint Command, based at RAF High Wycombe, and staffed by personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force, alongside civil servants, and contractors. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Mar 23. An exclusive multi-million dollar deal between mu Space and OneWeb supports Low Earth Orbit (LEO) connectivity solutions in Mainland Southeast Asia. mu Space an aerospace manufacturer and satellite internet service provider based in Southeast Asia, and OneWeb a Low Earth Orbit satellite communications company have signed an exclusive deal to provide OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) connectivity solutions across mainland Southeast Asia including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia.
mu Space will be the one and only partner for OneWeb in mainland Southeast Asia and will be the sole distributor of a wide range of services to each sector including the government, telecommunications, aviation, maritime, land vehicle, backhauling and healthcare sectors to support the customer’s needs as connecting remote communities in the region. This agreement will help remote locations get internet connectivity and ultimately help their everyday lives. Remote monitoring of natural disasters like forest fires is just one life saving example that remote communities can gain through this agreement. Additionally remote education and healthcare are other possible use cases for the advanced connectivity offered by mu Space and OneWeb.
The deal could see an estimated revenue of $100m, or 3bn Baht, in the first six years of serving the Mainland Southeast Asia region, after the six years, mu Space has the right to extend the deal. OneWeb will have 648 satellites launched to space by the second quarter of this year, with trends further showing future next-generation satellite launches will only increase in the future, ultimately this deal could be worth three times, around 10 billion baht, the amount of the first 6 years.
Being pioneers in the space industry in their region, Southeast Asia, mu Space aims to connect the region to the rest of the world through space technologies and products that benefit the industry while promoting economic growth. With dedication and leadership, mu Space is committed to making a real impact through its innovations, and in changing the future of the space industry in Southeast Asia and beyond.
mu Space founder, CEO and CTO, James Yenbamroong, had the following to say about this exclusive deal:
“We are excited to announce this exclusive partnership as it signifies our strong and excellent relationship with OneWeb. The expansion of broadband internet connectivity to remote areas that lack connections is highly crucial and we’re glad to be part of making this possible through space and ground technologies. Our expertise and knowledge of our region, as well as innovative technology, enable mu Space to tailor solutions to provide an ideal supplement to each sector in each nation. Finally, on behalf of mu Space, I would like to express how proud we are to be a part of this innovation that will have a great influence and benefit our region.”
Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb, commented: “The last few years have shown us that remote internet connectivity is both exciting and vital across sectors such as enterprise, education, health and government. We are excited to partner with such a dynamic company, that is so well aligned to our goals, to further our reach across Southeast Asia and connect even more communities and enterprises. This international partnership marks another significant milestone for OneWeb as we look towards activating full global coverage later this year.”
This partnership will have a positive impact on the space economy in Southeast Asia, and most importantly it will help remote communities gain access to internet connectivity and improve their daily lives. mu Space and OneWeb are excited with the deal and the opportunity to improve lives using technology.
15 Mar 23. Space Force Focuses on Partnerships, Spirit, Combat Readiness. The U.S. Space Force’s $30bn budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 is about $3.9bn over what was enacted for the service in FY2023. More than 60% of the Space Force budget, about $19.2bn worth, is aimed at research, development, testing and evaluation.
Testifying yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman explained the challenges he sees in a contested space domain and how the Space Force aims to ready itself to meet those challenges.
“When describing space threats, it is important to account for two kinds: first, threats from space assets and second, threats to space assets,” Saltzman said.
Threats from space, the general said, include both China’s and Russia’s robust space-based capabilities which allow them to find, target, and attack U.S. military forces on land, at sea and in the air.
The U.S. also has assets in space — satellites that it relies on for communications and navigation, for instance — that are put at risk by the nation’s adversaries.
“Both China and Russia continue to develop, field and deploy a range of weapons aimed at U.S. space capabilities,” the general said. “The spectrum of threats to U.S. space capabilities includes cyber warfare activities, electronic attack platforms, directed energy lasers designed to blind or damage satellite sensors, ground-to-orbit missiles to destroy satellites and space-to-space orbital engagement systems that can attack U.S. satellites in space.”
To meet the challenges posed by adversaries, Saltzman told lawmakers that Space Force efforts in FY2024 will focus on fielding combat-ready forces, amplifying the Guardian spirit and strengthening the partnerships the Space Force relies on to accomplish its mission.
“My first priority is to build resilient, ready, combat-credible space forces,” Saltzman told lawmakers. “To do this, we are accelerating the pivot towards resilient satellite constellations, ground stations, networks and data links.”
The general said the Space Development Agency’s “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture,” or PWSA — previously called the “National Defense Space Architecture” — is a prime example of that effort.
The PWSA includes hundreds of satellites, delivered in “tranches” every two years, with each tranche providing more capability than the last. That total system involves a “mesh network” of hundreds of optically interconnected satellites in orbit that make up its “transport” layer. The PWSA also includes six additional layers: tracking, custody, deterrence, navigation, battle management and support.
Also part of building a resilient, ready and combat-credible force, Saltzman said, is emphasizing cybersecurity and preparing Space Force Guardians to detect and defeat cyber-attacks against networks, systems, ground stations, datalinks and satellites.
The U.S. Space Force stood up in December 2019, just over 3 years ago. Developing talent to staff the new service is a priority, Saltzman said.
“My second priority is to amplify the Guardian spirit by embracing a modern talent management process that recruits the best talent, develops and retains an elite workforce and empowers Guardians to succeed,” he said.
An example of that is the service’s constructive service credit program which allows experienced professionals from key fields to directly commission into the Space Force at ranks appropriate to their civilian experience.
“Over the last year we have also deployed space-centric curriculum for basic military training, Reserve Officer Training Corps and Officer Training School,” the general said.
The Space Force is also looking to a concept that allows personnel to more easily move between full-time and part-time military service — without causing damage to their careers — so that they can pursue enriching opportunities outside full-time military service. This concept is something Congress can help the service accomplish, Saltzman said.
Since taking over as chief of space operations, just four months ago, Saltzman said he has visited multiple combatant commands and also met with space chiefs in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“U.S. allies and international partners are eager for expanded collaboration with the Space Force, especially in areas that strengthen the effectiveness of coalition space operations and reinforce norms of responsible behavior,” Saltzman said.
Strengthen partnerships, he said, is the third priority for Space Force, Saltzman said.
“The Space Force will strive to eliminate barriers to collaboration, including overclassification, so we can build enduring advantages with our partners,” he said. “To date, personnel from over 50 countries have participated in training, education and exercise events hosted by the Space Force. We are also leveraging allies and partners to expand our warfighting capability.”
Saltzman also said that commercial partners and the technologies developed there, such as advanced power and propulsion, artificial intelligence and machine learning and in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing, are also a focus for increased partnerships for Space Force.
“The Space Force is the preeminent military space organization in the world,” Saltzman told senators. “Our adversaries seek to surpass the United States and challenge our advantage. We cannot and will not allow this to happen. Our Guardians will out work, out innovate and out compete our adversaries to ensure that we succeed.” (Source: US DoD)
16 Mar 23. UKZN’s Phoenix 1 D rocket successfully launched from Denel Overberg Test Range. The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN’s) Aerospace Systems Research Institute (ASRI) Space Propulsion Programme has successfully test-launched its Phoenix 1 D rocket from the Denel Overberg Test Range, with a second launch planned.
The hybrid test rocket took off from the Western Cape facility on Monday 13 March, carrying experimental sensors and cameras as part of the mission. The Phoenix-1D was expected to reach an altitude of up to 25 km.
Hybrid rockets used solid fuel with liquid oxidiser. Purely solid fuelled rockets are easier to handle but their thrust cannot be controlled and they are not as efficient as liquid fuelled rockets. While more complex, liquid fuelled rockets are capable of being throttled, shut down, and restarted.
The Minister of Higher Education Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, congratulated the ASRI on the launch. ASRI, formerly known as the Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG), is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. It is pursuing the development of suborbital sounding rockets (Phoenix) and orbital liquid rocket engine technology (SAFFIRE – (South African First Integrated Rocket Engine) under one integrated Space Propulsion Programme.
“I am proud of the young people driving this exciting programme at UKZN. They are a team of dedicated mechanical engineering students who have been working tirelessly on ensuring that the launch is successful,” said Nzimande.
He praised the Phoenix hybrid rocket programme, which is a skills-development initiative focused on suborbital launch vehicle design and testing. The rockets were developed as a technology demonstration platform from which future commercial sounding rocket programmes can be developed.
Nzimande added that the space industry is envisaged as one of the key drivers in addressing South Africa’s national priorities of job creation, poverty eradication, resource management and rural development.
UKZN is currently the only South African university pursuing an applied rocket propulsion programme, producing graduates with skills in advanced manufacturing, aerospace systems design, rocket launch operations and computational analysis.
The team is now preparing for the second and final test for the campaign, that of the Phoenix 1C, a low-altitude rocket and, weather-permitting, it will be launched with experimental payloads for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), SA National Space Agency (SANSA) and a private company that the engineers hope to recover. Depending on weather, launch will take place this week or next.
Both vehicles include design changes to the airframes and onboard systems that make them structurally more efficient, and form a critical part of ASRI’s mission to develop larger, orbital launch systems. The Phoenix 1C has a target altitude of 5 to 10 km and expectations are to recover its nose cone under a parachute.
On 14 March the programme presented STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Space Day where a group of grade 10 and 11 physical science learners from Hoërskool Bredasdorp attended. The learners attended a lecture on rocket technology, experience a radio-controlled aircraft demonstration and visited the ASRI Phoenix launch pad to have a close-up view of a hybrid rocket.
In March 2021, ASReG successfully launched the Phoenix-1B Mark IIr sounding rocket. It travelled 17.9km into the air, achieving a new African hybrid rocket altitude record. This was the third rocket variant to be developed by ASReG. The first, the Phoenix-1A, was flight tested in 2014, but experienced a nozzle failure that limited its altitude. The second launch, in 2019, of the Phoenix-1B Mark II, was unsuccessful because of a software fault, and it exploded on launch. Valuable lessons were learnt from past failures, which helped with the successful launch of the cost-effective Phoenix-1B Mark Iir, the Department of Science and Innovation said.
Sounding rockets carry experimental payloads to the upper reaches of the atmosphere or into space. They play a crucial role in facilitating experiments in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including biotechnology, astronomy, astrophysics, materials science and meteorology.
The Phoenix hybrid rockets were developed as a technology demonstration platform from which a future commercial sounding rocket programme can be developed.
The programme, a human capital development initiative, started in 2010, has produced a number of graduates with advanced engineering skills, and who have been absorbed into South Africa’s engineering sector with entities including Rheinmetall Denel Munition, SANSA, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Armscor. Human capital development is the main objective of the programme, together with developing indigenous space propulsion technologies, the Department of Science and Innovation said. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
15 Mar 23. Branson’s Virgin Orbit to pause ops, furlough nearly all employees – source. Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit (VORB.O) on Wednesday said it was pausing all operations from March 16 and a source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the satellite launch company was also furloughing nearly all of its employees.
Chief Executive Dan Hart told staff in a meeting that the furlough was intended to buy Virgin Orbit time to finalize a new investment plan to help pull the company out of its financial woes, according to the source, who attended the meeting.
Virgin Orbit’s shares dropped 18.8% to 82 cents in extended trading.
The duration of the furlough was unclear, but Hart said he would provide employees an update by the middle of next week on when they could return, the source said.
In a statement to Reuters, the company confirmed the operational pause but it did not give details on the furloughs.
CNBC first reported the news.
Last month, Virgin Orbit said it was investigating the failure of its mission in January to deploy nine small satellites into lower Earth orbit (LEO) from the coastal town of Newquay in southwest England. The mission failure was a major blow to the business and deepened its financial struggles.
“On the ops side, our investigation is nearly complete and our next production rocket with the needed modification incorporated is in final stages of integration and test,” the company said on Wednesday. (Source: Reuters)
14 Mar 23. Space Force wants to trim missile warning satellite program.
The U.S. Space Force’s fiscal 2024 budget proposes cutting one of five satellites from its Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared fleet, according to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.
Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites are meant to track ballistic missiles from polar and geosynchronous orbits, more than 22,000 miles above the Earth. The Space Force planned to build and launch three GEO-based and two polar-orbiting spacecraft, but Saltzman told the Senate Armed Services Committee today the service has changed its plans, reducing one GEO satellite from the mix.
The Space Force decided a “two-by-two” constellation — meaning two polar and two GEO satellites — would be “sufficient to ensure that the mission did not have any gaps,” he said.
Lockheed Martin is building the program’s GEO satellites under two contracts, awarded in 2018 and 2020, worth a combined $7.8bn.
“We look forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress as the president’s fiscal year 2024 budget receives full consideration in the months ahead,” the company said in a statement.
The Defense Department released its fiscal 2024 budget request this week, which includes $30bn for the Space Force. The service has yet to issue the programmatic details, so it’s not clear how cutting a satellite from the Next-Gen OPIR constellation will affect its spending plan in the coming year. However, officials said in a March 13 briefing the service is seeking a $243m increase for the program’s polar satellites and ground system.
In last year’s proposal, the service projected it would need $8.3bn for all Next-Gen OPIR segments between fiscal years 2024 and 2027. The first satellite is slated to launch in 2025.
The Space Force’s move to shrink the size of its Next-Gen OPIR program comes as the service is shifting its approach to tracking missile threats from space. The service has traditionally operated these satellites from GEO, but as Russia and China develop hypersonic missiles that can travel and maneuver at Mach 5 speeds, the Space Force wants to strengthen its defense against those weapons by launching smaller satellites to more diverse orbits. A 2021 review led by the Space Warfighting Analysis Center recommended an expanded architecture that includes smaller satellites in low Earth orbit, about 1,200 miles above the planet, and medium Earth orbit, which is located between LEO and GEO.
The Space Development Agency and Space Systems Command are building those LEO and MEO spacecraft under an program called Resilient Missile Warning and Tracking. The Space Force’s fiscal 2024 budget includes $2.3bn for the effort, $1bn more than it requested in FY23.
While Next-Gen OPIR will have a smaller part to play in that future vision, Space Force officials say it is important to keep the program in place until the service proves its new satellites can provide global coverage. Saltzman reiterated that message today, saying that because tracking missiles is a crucial mission, having continuity between old and new approaches is vital.
“It’s a pretty big technical shift,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we, for this no-fail mission, had some hedges.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
10 Mar 23. EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence to ensure a stronger and more resilient EU. Today, the Commission and the High Representative present for the first time a Joint Communication on a European Space Strategy for Security and Defence.
Space systems and services in the European Union are crucial for the functioning of our society and economy, as well as for security and defence. As such, the EU has identified space as a strategic domain. In the current geopolitical context of increasing power competition and intensification of threats, the EU is taking action to protect its space assets, defend its interests, deter hostile activities in space and strengthen its strategic posture and autonomy.
The Strategy is a direct implementation of the EU Strategic Compass adopted less than a year ago and which defined space, together with cyber and maritime, as contested strategic domains, the security of which must be ensured. It provides for a set of actions covering the following strands.
Shared understanding of space threats
The Strategy outlines the counterspace capabilities and main threats in space that put at risk space systems and their ground infrastructure, building on a common definition of the space domain. To increase the common understanding of threats across Member States, the High Representative will prepare a classified annual space threat landscape analysis at EU level, drawing on Member States´ intelligence.
Resilience and protection of space systems and services in the EU
The Strategy proposes actions to strengthen the resilience and protection of space systems and services in the EU. For this purpose, the Commission will:
- Consider proposing an EU Space Law to provide a common framework for security, safety, and sustainability in Space, that would ensure a consistent and EU-wide approach.
- Set up an Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (ISAC) to raise awareness and facilitate exchange of best practices among commercial and relevant public entities on resilience measures for space capabilities.
- Launch preparatory work to ensure long-term EU autonomous access to space, addressing in particular the security and defence needs.
- Enhance the technological sovereignty of the EU by reducing strategic dependencies and ensuring security of supply for space and defence, in close coordination with the European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency.
Responding to space threats
The strategy outlines concrete measures to mobilise relevant EU tools to respond to space threats, including to:
- Expand the existing space threat response mechanism, which is currently used for the protection of Galileo to all space systems and services in the EU.
- Better detect and identify space objects via access to space domain awareness information through relevant national space commands, to characterise inappropriate behaviours in orbit and protect EU assets.
- Carry out space exercises, including with partners, to test and develop further the EU’s response to space threats and explore solidarity mechanisms.
Use of space for security and defence
The Strategy proposes to maximise the use of space for security and defence purposes. The development of dual-use services requires to take into account defence requirements when preparing the evolution of the EU space programmes. The Strategy proposes to:
- Launch two pilot projects one to test the delivery of initial space domain awareness services building upon capacities of Member States, and a second one to test a new earth observation governmental service as part of the evolution of Copernicus.
- Better connect space, defence and security at EU level and ensure synergies and cross-fertilisation, notably in terms of research and development.
- Propose concrete measures to foster collaborative work between space and defence start-ups
- Enhance skills related to the development of space services for security and defence.
Partnering for responsible behaviours in space
The EU will strengthen its engagement in multilateral fora and promote norms, rules, and principles of responsible behaviours in outer space through concrete and pragmatic steps. The Strategy will deepen existing space security cooperation, in particular with the United States, and expand exchanges with other partners, including NATO, as well as other like-minded countries.
The Commission and the High Representative will soon present to Member States initial steps for the way forward in implementing the strategy. The Commission and the High Representative will report to the Council on a yearly basis on the progress achieved and potential further actions.
Last year, EU leaders identified space as a strategic domain in the Strategic Compass and called for an EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence. (Source: EDA)
15 Mar 23. Blue Origin expects New Shepard rocket’s return to flight in late 2023. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin expects to return its New Shepard rocket to flight by the end of 2023 after the vehicle suffered a mid-flight failure in September, a company sales executive said on Wednesday.
“We are looking to get back into flight with New Shepard by the end of this year,” Ariane Cornell, vice president of commercial and international sales, said at a conference in Washington.
The company has provided few details on an investigation into why its 59-foot-tall (18-meter-tall) New Shepard rocket aborted a research capsule roughly one minute after lifting off in Texas in September. No humans were aboard the rocket.
The mishap paused Blue Origin’s only active rocket at the center of its space tourism and microgravity research business. For those missions, New Shepard launches a capsule to the edge of space to float in microgravity for roughly five minutes before making a parachute-assisted return landing.
New Shepard has flown several crews of paying tourists and company-sponsored guests to the edge of space, including Blue Origin’s bbnaire founder Jeff Bezos on the rocket’s inaugural flight in 2021.
The company expected to complete a “technical review” of the New Shepard failure by December last year, a Blue Origin executive told the Washington Post in November, but it is unclear if that review has been completed. Cornell declined to provide details on where the investigation stands.
The U.S. Federal Aviation administration, which regulates commercial launch site safety, is overseeing Blue Origin’s investigation and must approve of its findings.
“Because we’re doing this in coordination with the FAA, I can’t get into those details,” Cornell said when asked about investigation delays. “I’m not sure if we’re gonna release the details. It’s something that we have to coordinate with the FAA.”
“The FAA does not prohibit commercial space operators from publicly discussing information about open mishap investigations,” said FAA spokesman Steve Kulm in response to a Reuters inquiry.
The FAA asks companies to “coordinate the release of factual information for awareness and to ensure any mention of the FAA’s oversight role in the investigation is properly portrayed,” Kulm added.
14 Mar 23. US Space Force commercial LEO deal due by May. The US Space Force (USSF) is poised to award several contracts to commercial satellite communications (satcom) companies, who will provide proliferated low Earth orbit (LEO) satcom capabilities to US armed forces and allies, the head of the service’s commercial satcom office said.
Officials from the USSF’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO) are in the midst of wrapping up the source selection process from industry offerings submitted for the Proliferated-Low Earth Orbit Commercial Satellite Communications (P-LEO COMSATCOM) services request for proposals (RFP), issued in November 2022.
“We are taking advantage of, you know, this emerging capability that’s being provided by companies like SpaceX, OneWeb”, and other emerging companies in the commercial satcom sector, said CSCO Chief Clare Grason. “We received a healthy interest and we are anticipating [contract] awards … around the May timeframe,” she said during a February briefing on current and future satcom capabilities for the US armed forces. (Source: Janes)
15 Mar 23. OneWeb ‘moves on’ from Soyuz-stranded satellites as its network nears completion. OneWeb, nearing completion of its internet-from-space network, has largely given up on trying to retrieve satellites worth $50m in a dispute related to the Ukraine conflict, the satellite operator’s chief executive said this week.
The company will launch from India the final batch of satellites needed to complete its global network on March 26 and said it expects to begin global service for new government and enterprise customers shortly after.
The British government-backed company in March last year canceled a planned launch of 36 broadband satellites aboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket after Russia’s space chief halted the mission in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dmitry Rogozin said at the time that his agency wanted OneWeb to provide guarantees that its satellites were not going to be used against Russia. Western sanctions following the invasion have impacted Moscow’s space industry, and Rogozin also demanded that Britain sell its stake in OneWeb.
OneWeb refused and canceled all its future Soyuz launches. But it has been unable to retrieve the satellites from their Soyuz launchsite at the Russia-owned Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellites are worth a combined $50m, OneWeb chief executive Neil Masterson said Tuesday.
“I spend no time thinking about it. We’ve completely moved on,” Masterson said, deferring any future retrieval efforts to government authorities. “There is value getting them back, but I can tell you that I’m not getting them back any time soon.”
The dispute was a temporary setback to OneWeb’s plan to create an initial constellation of 588 satellites to provide global broadband coverage, forcing the company to quickly secure new rocket agreements with the Indian Space Research Organisation and SpaceX.
OneWeb, which manufactures at least two satellites per day, had another batch of 36 satellites ready for launch soon after cancelling Soyuz, Masterson said. “The bigger issue for us was not so much the satellites, it was securing the launches,” he said.
Asked if Russia’s custody of the commercially sensitive technology raises security or competitive concerns for OneWeb, Masterson said: “It’s not a material problem.”
Even if Russia were to reverse-engineer the satellites it would pose no threat to the business, Masterson said, citing the company’s extensive supply chain, spectrum access, and other foundations of the satellite network. (Source: Reuters)
15 Mar 23. Intellian Technologies Inc., a leading global provider of feature-rich, resilient satellite communications solutions, will unveil their ARC-M4 Block 1 terminal at Satellite 2023 in Washington, D.C. Providing simultaneous X- and Military Ka-bands plus all commercial Ka, the Block 1 marks the next extension of Intellian’s Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) certified products.
WGS is a high-capacity United States Space Force satellite communication system, developed by the US Department of Defense and now includes partnerships with Canada, Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and other member nations. WGS Phase 1 testing has been completed and the terminal is expected to be approved for use on the WGS constellation by Q2 2023.
Intellian’s ARC-M4 Block 1 is a tri-band terminal for X-band, MIL Ka-band and ultra wide 2.5GHz commercial Ka-band networks. Naval customers can utilize simultaneous X-band and Ka-band transmit and receive when operating on a WGS satellite, giving unprecedented layers of resilient connectivity and throughput for mission critical operations.
ARC-M4 stands for Advanced Resilient Communications, Multi-mission, multi-role, multi-band, and multi-orbit. It’s designed for operation on LEO, MEO, GEO and HEO satellite orbits.
Built as a follow on terminal to the Intellian’s v130NX PM Dual Ka Block 0 terminal (AN/USC-73), the ARC-M4 Block 1 was developed with a “family of terminals” concept in mind keeping the importance of common CONOPs, common doctrine, ILS, sparing, and preventative maintenance across different antenna types and mission sets. The Block 1 incorporates the Intelligent Mediator 8 enabling users to electronically switch between waveforms, frequency bands, constellations, and orbits.
The ARC-M4 family of terminals are all designed to support full SATCOM shipboard automation through the implementation of Intellian’s ground-breaking Orchestra – the first Naval policy-based connectivity management suite.
Orchestra is a 3-tier connectivity policy creation, enforcement, and management system designed for high-intensity mission-critical and highly complex shipboard environments. It alleviates the need for manual intervention to swap frequencies, constellations, waveforms, or orbits in order to maintain connectivity.
The ARC-M4 family of terminals are commercially off the shelf and available now in volume production. Orders are being accepted for CY 2023 delivery for both v130NX PM Dual Ka Block 0 and ARC-M4 Block 1.
Sam McKee, General Manager and VP of Sales for Intellian USA said: “Intellian collaborated closely with the US Navy to develop the ARC-M4 family of terminals. The Block 1 terminal is the first simultaneous X- and MIL Ka-band terminal to have ever undergone the WGS Certification process. We’re delighted to be unveiling this new technology at Satellite 2023 because we understand how valuable this family of WGS terminals can be for our US Naval customers but also the impact these systems will have on all US-allied Global Navies.”
15 Mar 23. Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University join forces to unlock the future of space-based solar power. Lockheed Martin is celebrating STEM in British Science Week with Northumbria University by investing £150,000 in a project that aims to accelerate the delivery of space-based solar power. Combining science and technology, the project will use specialised photovoltaic cells that will collect and convert laser power into useable power for future space and lunar vehicles.
With this year’s British Science Week theme being ‘connection’, this technology has future applications that could include space-based solar power, that could deliver a consistent source of clean energy in all weather conditions and at all times of day. By harvesting the Sun’s energy, this new form of solar power could potentially beam electricity wirelessly from space to Earth, bringing a new source of zero carbon power to connect homes and businesses without the need for large amounts of land-based infrastructure.
Paul Livingston, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK, said, “Our collaboration with Northumbria University will advance the use of space-based solar power for satellites, space vehicles and potentially useable power back on earth. We are delighted to be helping grow the North East’s space economy and the overall industrial capacity and resilience of the UK’s space and manufacturing sectors.”
The collaboration follows years of successful experiments by Lockheed Martin into laser-based systems and builds on the business’ existing relationship with Northumbria University. This new project is an extension of the partnership announced last year, which has seen Lockheed Martin invest over £600,000 to support the development of skills, research and technology across the North East.
As part as Lockheed Martin’s commitment to raise awareness and celebrate science, engineering and technology across a wider target audience, the company recently hosted an event for the SME community at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. As well as this, Lockheed Martin brought together supply chain representatives at the Skills and Supplier Summit in Tyneside as well as launching Team Athena’s space camp in Newcastle, equipping the next generation with the skills required for thriving careers in the space and technology industry.
Professor John Woodward, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, added “Northumbria University is a UK front-runner in research into photovoltaics and solar energy and our reputation for world-leading research in space and satellite technologies has grown exponentially in recent years. This exciting project with Lockheed Martin combines these areas of excellence and will enable us to innovate further to find new ways to generate and store renewable energy.”
Lockheed Martin is also a strategic partner to the UK Government, working with the UK Space Agency to conduct northern Europe’s first vertical satellite launch from the SaxaVord Spaceport in Shetland and delivering a wide range of programmes for the Ministry of Defence.
14 Mar 23. Taiwan: Satellite-based communication initiative will bolster wartime communication resilience. On 12 March, the government approved the Ministry of Digital Affairs’ plan of deploying low-earth orbit satellite ground stations nationwide to bolster communication services and resilience during wartime. Such ground stations are likely to be deployed at approximately 700 sites by late 2024. The programme will sustain domestic and international communication services which would improve wartime socio-economic and political resilience. The approval followed the severing of two internet cables connecting Taiwan and Matsu islands, which are adjacent to China’s Fujian province in February, disrupting internet services on Matsu. The incident, the 27th since 2018, is believed to have been caused by Chinese fishing vessels operating as part of China’s maritime militia, but this remains unconfirmed. These ground stations would sustain economic and business resilience during a blockade or invasion scenario, which remains unlikely for the foreseeable future. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Mar 23. Sanctions further delay Russian missile early warning program in space. Russia launched its sixth Tundra early warning satellite in November and has four more to go before reaching its goal of 10 total by 2024. But sources say production problems and sanctions are among the issues delaying the space program.
The Defence Ministry’s Kupol constellation of satellites — an integrated space-based detection and combat control system — was designed to help the country track ballistic missile launches. Also known as EKS, Kupol serves as a replacement to the Soviet-era Oko and Oko-1 systems, which were operational from 1982 to 2019.
Russia wants at least 10 Tundra satellites in high-elliptical orbit — as well as a number of geostationary satellites — to support EKS. In late 2016, then-First Deputy Commander of the Aerospace Forces Lt. Gen. Pavel Kurachenko said the service planned to have all 10 in orbit by 2020.
But that year, the government-published newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported the Defence Ministry had plans to deploy a total of 10 by 2022. And around the same time as that report, a ministerial newspaper cited the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, then-Col. Gen. Sergei Surovikin, as saying the deployment of a group of orbital spacecraft for EKS is envisaged by 2024.
“The launch rate will be dictated by the need to replace aging or defunct satellites,” according to Bart Hendrickx, a longtime observer of Russia’s space program. “The minimum constellation they need for round-the-clock coverage is four. But it’s always good to have some redundancy, not only to safeguard against satellite malfunctions but also to reduce the chance of false alarms.”
Following the launch of the fourth Tundra satellite in May 2020, the general director of local aerospace company Energia announced the EKS constellation had reached “the minimum standard strength.”
While development of the EKS system began in 2000, it wasn’t until seven years later that the government signed a contract with Energia to supply the system. But repeated changes by the ministry to tactical and technical requirements caused production delays, according to the company.
Hendrickx said the main reason for delays “must be production issues.”
“And one can be fairly sure that these have to do largely with the sanctions,” he told Defense News, referring to economic restrictions placed on Russia as a result of its ongoing invasion of UkraiRussia launched its first Tundra satellite in November 2015 on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket with a Fregat upper stage. The country planned to launch two satellites per year, but only launched one each in 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Part of the production problem involves microelectronics, which are critical for satellites. Russia is heavily dependent on foreign components for space technology, which in and of itself causes delays, a manager of a Russian defense company told Defense News.
“Due to constant changes in suppliers and components, it is necessary to conduct new tests of systems every time, and evaluate them for the required characteristics of the Defence Ministry. This entails delays,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic.
“At first it was Western electronics; after 2014, it became electronics from China and Southeast Asia to a greater extent,” the source said. “In some cases, Chinese devices were purchased, from which microelectronics were extracted and installed on Russian devices.”
In January, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Yuriy Borisov, claimed that despite Western sanctions preventing the supply of microelectronics to the country, China has agreed to sell components meant for rocket and space-related technology. As for completely replacing foreign equipment on satellites, Nikolai Sevostyanov, adviser to the director general of Roscosmos, estimated it will take at least five years.
Another issue for the Russian government is the quality of the Soyuz-2.1b rocket’s Fregat upper stage, which has encountered at least five technical problems over the past nine years.
Pavel Luzin, an independent expert on space militarization, said it’s unlikely Russia will deploy the entirety of Tundra satellites by 2024.
“Rather, one launch per year will be continued. That is, they will complete the launch of satellites into the Molniya orbit no earlier than 2026,” he predicted, referring to a medium Earth orbit best for observing high latitudes.
According to NASA, a satellite in that orbit takes 12 hours to complete its orbit, but spends about eight hours of that over one hemisphere. In the Molniya orbit, a satellite moves in an extreme ellipse with the Earth close to one edge.
An integrated space system, like the EKS, performs best with satellites both in a high-elliptical orbit and a geostationary one. According to Surovikin, “the deployment of a high-orbit space reconnaissance system should begin from 2023.”
But Russian production of geostationary satellites is lagging behind other advanced nations. In Energia’s annual report for 2017, the company suggested the satellites were still in their design stage.
“Geostationary satellites seem to have a different payload and may even have a fundamentally different design. That may also be causing problems,” Hendrickx said.
The Angara vehicle
Russia chose the Angara launch vehicle to send the EKS constellation’s geostationary satellites into space to complement the Tundra systems. In 2020, the Defence Ministry signed a deal with space launch vehicle manufacturer Khrunichev Center for the production of four Angara-A5 rockets during the 2022-2024 time frame.
But when the ministry didn’t receive any rockets in 2022, it sued the center. The courts have so far ruled that the company pay the government nearly a third of the ministry’s monetary claim.
The ministry also sued Energia in 2019 over development disruptions related to a new Persei-KV upper stage for the Angara-A5. The court has since ruled in the government’s favor, though not to the extent sought by the ministry.
During the last launch of an Angara-A5 in 2021, the designers tested a Persei upper stage, but it was unsuccessful. In September 2022, a representative of Khrunichev Center said full-fledged serial production of the Angara family would begin in the city of Omsk by 2024.
It was announced in 2015 that production would move from Moscow to Omsk. Vladimir Nesterov, who provided design services to Khrunichev and died late last year, wrote in his book “Space rocket complex Angara: History of creation,” published in 2018, about the impact of the move.
“The established production cycle was disrupted, three large enterprises numbering about 16,000 people were withdrawn from the developer, production ties were undermined, development work suffered,” according to the engineer.
But despite delays and the absence of geostationary satellites for EKS, Russia’s defense minister said the launch of the sixth Tundra satellite means the country can now continuously monitor priority areas “in the Northern Hemisphere” — a subtle reference to the United States and its North Atlantic allies.
“At the same time, the current generation of satellites has a guaranteed period of at least seven years,” Luzin said. “But they can serve further beyond the warranty period.
“The problems are likely to be with their planned renewal, which in any case will need to start [around] 2025-2030.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
10 Mar 23. Rohde & Schwarz and SatixFy to demonstrate wideband DVB-S2X beam hopping and DVB-RCS2 at Satellite Show 2023. Rohde & Schwarz will showcase an end-to-end test infrastructure featuring its R&S SMW200A vector signal generator and R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer together with SatixFy’s Sx3099 modem ASIC demonstrating DVB-S2X Annex E wide bandwidth beam hopping and high bit rate DVB-RCS2 transmission.
Munich, Washington D.C., March 10, 2023 — Beam hopping provides a simple straightforward solution to the problem of adapting satellite resources to demand. It allows an increased aggregate capacity by plus 15 percent while reducing the unmet and excess capacity by 20 percent. The use of beam hopping is particularly appealing for future LEO constellations since it lowers on-board satellite power consumption, and it allows the implementation of half-duplex waveform to reduce user terminal costs and its power consumption as well. Rohde & Schwarz and SatixFy cooperate to develop test equipment and multi-beam SDR modem ASIC beam hopping ready, based on the DVB-S2X standard with DVB-S2X superframes and DVB-RCS2 waveforms.
SatixFy Israel, a company specializing in developing and selling SDR baseband chips, modems and electronically steered multi-beam antenna and Rohde & Schwarz, a leader in T&M solutions, are demonstrating during Satellite 2023 Show the wideband 1000 MHz DVB-S2X software defined radio (SDR) modem ASIC equivalent to 8 VSAT modems in a single chip in a common test setup.
The Sx3099 chip from SatixFy sets a record in terms of throughput exhibiting 1 Gsymb/s DVB-S2X beam hopping traffic in forward direction and 400Msymb/s throughput in RCS2, or 1 Gsymb/s in S2X in the return direction. The new wideband SDR modem is the only one in the market today supporting beam hopping (DVB-S2X Annex E Rev 2019) and VLSNR capable of multi-beam receive and transmit to support “make before brake” handover in LEO aero connectivity. The chip includes all the new superframe format types 5, 6 and 7 (pre-scheduled and “point and shoot” beam hopping). Sx3099 includes native support for DVB-RCS2 400 MHz transmission as well as complete software defined radio (SDR) for any other waveform.
The new modem’s multiple carriers beam hopping architecture (up to 4) enables substantially higher throughput from wideband (1GHz) satellite service to increase superior connectivity. The chip operates in VLSNR modes down to -10dB SNR and proprietary ELSNR modes (extremely low SNR) down to -20dB SNR and interfaces smoothly to SatixFy’s electronically steered antenna to operate 8 beams simultaneously over a single Sx3099 through a single ethernet port, for both data and control.
The R&S SMW200A and the signal and spectrum analyzer R&S FSW support the standard DVB-S2 / DVB-S2X with its latest version and with newly added annex E for beam hopping and the DVB-RCS2 standard as being used in upcoming LEO constellations. The R&S SMW200A vector signal generator is the first fully calibrated wideband solution with a bandwidth extension to an RF modulation bandwidth of 4 GHz and a signal generation across all frequencies and satellite bands up to 67 GHz on the market while the R&S FSW covers frequencies up to 90 GHz.
The DVB-S2X beam hopping demonstration is setup by the high-end vector signal generator R&S SMW200A providing a 500 MS/s DVB-S2X beam hopping signal with superframe 6 format on the forward downlink to the SatixFy Sx3099 SDR modem on the satellite IF of 1.225 GHz. The return uplink from the modem is modulated with a 380 MS/s wide DVB-RCS2 signal which is transmitted to the spectrum and signal analyzer R&S FSW. With the unique onboard DVB-RCS2 tool it is possible to analyze the spectrum and the signal quality with its content and also to decode the DVB-RCS2 signal.
The beam hopping demonstration can be experienced at the Satellite Show 2023 in Washington from March 14 to 16 at the Rohde & Schwarz booth 1326.
SatixFy is located at booth 2221 and looks forward to a further discussion on the Sx3099 chip.
03 Mar 23. SpaceX successfully launches 51 Starlink satellites. On Friday, March 3 at 10:38 a.m. PT, SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 launched 51 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The Starlink satellites are expected to release from the front end of the rocket all at once, instead of one-at-a-time or in pairs, as spacecraft often do when separating from a launch vehicle.
SpaceX says injecting the satellites into a lower orbit will allow time for checkouts before orbit-raising using their krypton ion thrusters.
This was the twelfth launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE, Transporter-4, Transporter-5, Globalstar FM15, ISI EROS C-3, and now three Starlink missions. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean. (Source: Satnews)
06 Mar 23. The 1st 3D printed rocket ready for launch. Relativity Space is scheduled for the first launch of their Terran 1 rocket, called “GLHF” (Good Luck, Have Fun), from Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch window opens at 1:00 p.m., ET, on March 8, 2023. This launch of Terran 1 is the first orbital attempt by Relativity and will not include a customer payload. As a two-stage, 110 ft. tall, 7.5 ft. wide, expendable rocket, Terran 1 is the largest 3D printed object to exist and to attempt orbital flight. Working toward its goal of being 95% 3D printed, Relativity’s first Terran 1 vehicle is 85% 3D printed, by mass.
Terran 1 has nine Aeon engines on its first stage and a single Aeon Vac on the second stage.
Like its structure, all Relativity engines are 3D printed and use liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid natural gas (LNG). These are the best mix for rocket propulsion as well as for reusability and the easiest to eventually transition to methane propulsion on Mars. (Source: Satnews)
07 Mar 23. SpaceX Falcon 9 administers the power and sends the next OneWeb set of satellites to LEO — OneWeb confirms successful satellite deployment. On Thursday, March 9th, SpaceX launched the OneWeb 17 mission to LEO via a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40 — photo below) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, Nilesat 301, and seven Starlink missions.
SpaceX stage 1 landing burn
Following stage separation, the first stage landed on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
SpaceX stage 1 successful landing at Cape Canaveral SFS LZ-1
OneWeb confirmed the successful deployment and contact of 40 satellites launched by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
OneWeb’s satellites separated successfully from the rocket and were dispensed using 3 separation groups over a period of 40 minutes, with the last separation occurring 1 hour and 35 minutes after launch. Signal acquisition on all 40 satellites have been confirmed.
This launch is OneWeb’s 17th to-date and the penultimate mission as the company is set to complete its first-generation (Gen 1) LEO satellite constellation and enable global coverage in 2023. With 582 satellites now in orbit, OneWeb will complete global footprint of its Gen 1 constellation with a launch set to take place later this month with ISRO/NSIL.
This launch enables OneWeb to continue expanding its connectivity capabilities as it grows its fleet of satellites and seeks to initiate services for more partners around the world. OneWeb already has connectivity solutions active today in key geographies across the globe and is bringing new areas online by partnering with leading providers including VEON, Orange, Galaxy Broadband, Paratus, Telespazio, and more. OneWeb and its partners are focused on the mission to bridge the digital divide and provide internet connectivity to a greater number of unconnected and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses.
Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, said, “This launch is an exciting milestone as we are now just one mission away from completing our Gen 1 constellation, which will activate global service in 2023. Now more than ever, OneWeb is dedicated to continuing the momentum we have garnered from the past 17 successful launches, to innovate alongside our trusted partners and deliver connectivity solutions at scale. Each launch is a group effort, and today’s success would not have been possible without the dedication of the entire launch team and our partners here in Florida.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Mar 23. Kratos Partners with XipLink to deploy satellite network acceleration as software on the OpenSpace Platform. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: KTOS) is partnering with XipLink, Inc. to enable their market leading network acceleration product — as an orchestrated, cloud-native software module running on Kratos’ OpenSpace dynamic satellite ground platform. XipOS enhances the user experience by dramatically improving link use and network efficiency, while reducing latency effects, improving response time by 30% or more.
In terrestrial and wireless networks, XipOS is typically deployed as software, maximizing flexibility, scalability and responsiveness while also reducing CAPEX costs. In satellite networks, however, XipOS has traditionally been installed as separate, dedicated hardware. That is because SATCOM networks are still trapped in purpose-built, hardware-based architectures, rather than the modern, software-defined networks common in the rest of the communications industry. Kratos’ OpenSpace Platform changes all that.
OpenSpace is the first and only generally available, software-based, ground system for satellite communications and other space networks. Fully virtualized and orchestrated, the OpenSpace Platform enables satellite network operators to achieve their digital transformation goals and mainstream their services with the rest of the global communications industry.
As an end-to-end software-based system, OpenSpace frees satellite network operators from the cumbersome limitations of purpose-built hardware, enabling them to incorporate value-added applications and respond in minutes to customer needs, multi-mission requirements and changing conditions.
The partnership with XipLink is a case in point. OpenSpace Platform users will now benefit from orchestrating XipOS immediately, on demand as a fully integrated component of their end-to-end satellite network, from the gateway all the way to the terminal at the network’s far edge.
Deployed as cloud native software, OpenSpace Platform users will get optimal benefit from XipOS features, including:
- Dramatic increase in link utilization, from 50-70% to 95% or more for connections exceeding 50 milliseconds
- Thirty percent or better response time for all connections, even at low latencies
- Session persistence that keeps connections alive longer, even in the event of minor outages or link changes
- Full-service orchestration across the OpenSpace Platform.
“Satellite terminals have historically been built on dedicated, proprietary hardware devices. As a result, companies like XipLink were forced to require additional hardware to deploy their applications, often at both the gateway and remote locations,” said Kevin Tobias, Director of Edge Product Management Solutions at Kratos. “With OpenSpace and Kratos’ recently introduced OpenEdge™ software-enabled satellite terminals, operators can greatly improve their time to revenue while dramatically reducing cost and complexity.”
“OpenSpace allows satellite operators to take XipOS out of dedicated hardware and deploy it to full advantage in a software-defined satellite communications network,” said XipLink CEO, Jack Waters. “As a result, cloud-native XipOS will provide the absolute best end user experience over satcom while maximizing revenue for today’s satellite service providers and the dynamic, hybrid networks of the future.” (Source: Satnews)
13 Mar 23. Intellian Technologies Inc., a global provider of resilient multi-constellation, feature-rich satellite user terminals and communications solutions, unveils their latest Electronically Scanned Array (ESA) technology at Satellite 2023, in Washington, D.C.
Intellian’s flat panel user terminal portfolio includes solutions designed to operate across fixed enterprise, land mobility, maritime, government and defence sectors. The full-duplex ESA user terminal will operate on the OneWeb satellite network, with production slated to commence in Q3 2023.
Flat panels are ideally suited for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) networks. The OneWeb LEO satellites requires satellite hand-overs approximately every two to three minutes depending on the user terminal’s geographical location. As such, Intellian’s flat panel is designed to electronically scan over wide field of view within hundreds of microseconds for seamless handovers. Intellian’s ESA product design focus has been on optimization of size, weight, power and cost so they can provide seamless connectivity for remote communities and minimal infrastructure, through to cellular backhaul solutions and installations on critical first responder vehicles.
The full-duplex user terminal, OW11FL, features a low profile weatherized antenna designed to deliver high reliability and performance to Enterprise customers. Paired with the CNX-WiFi indoor unit, the OW11FL delivers the ideal solution for enterprise, community broadband, and civil government applications.
The innovative modular ESA user terminal, designed by Intellian’s industry leading in-house engineers, has enabled parallel development of a half-duplex user terminal, and will facilitate rapid development of other configurations and form factors to address alternative markets and use cases including a military man-pack, also on display at Satellite 2023.
Intellian is a vertically integrated product company with their flat panel solutions designed at the Advanced Development Center and manufacturing taking place at Intellian’s state-of-the-art Campus 2, in Korea.
Eric Sung, President and CEO at Intellian Technologies Inc, said: “This milestone is a testament to our position as a leading technological innovator within the satcoms industry. By keeping production in-house at our state-of-the-art facilities, Intellian is able to deliver exceptional quality-assured products with scale and control over our supply chain. We are excited to unveil our new ESA technology at Satellite 2023 to the market and look forward to providing assured connectivity across fixed enterprise, land mobility, maritime, government and defence sectors.”
09 Mar 23. ATLAS Federated Ground Network triples in size following integration with Viasat Real Time Earth. ATLAS Space Operations has a new partnership with Viasat Real-Time Earth (RTE). The partnership between ATLAS and Viasat RTE makes 10 new antennas within the Viasat network immediately available to ATLAS clients, with two additional antennas available by the end of the year. For ATLAS, the partnership with Viasat RTE represents another significant expansion of its federated global ground network of 44 sites after adding 11 ground sites belonging to AWS last month. The federated network is operated by ATLAS’ proprietary communications and management software, Freedom™.
Through Freedom, ATLAS clients easily onboard their missions and manage data flow and pass execution from a single point of entry while the software abstracts away all hardware differences. The result is a network of networks that enables users to access many ground networks through a single provider — ATLAS.
Viasat RTE antenna
Beyond network capacity growth, the new partnership between ATLAS and Viasat opens new horizons for ATLAS clients through larger antennas. Most antennas in the Viasat RTE network are 7.3 meters — and larger diameter means stronger signal to support further missions. With these larger apertures, clients can now contact antennas in MEO and GEO orbits, opening expanded orbits for satellite operators.
ATLAS’ Freedom Platform User Interface (UI) – Tasks Requests Dashboard
“Through our partnership with Viasat we are expanding the global footprint of our federated network and demonstrating the usefulness of software in the SATCOM marketplace,” said Brad Bode, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of ATLAS Space Operations. “Developments such as this are less about infrastructure implications, and more about the utility of software to enhance hardware capabilities. Through Freedom we are able to extract far greater value from existing hardware without incurring additional costs. Using software to create one common ground solution allows us to offer extensive capabilities atop data delivery, such as automated insight into pass performance, Copilot to enable rapid onboarding, a superb user interface, and our single TT&C entry point in the cloud, no matter the site. Most importantly for our clients, Freedom is flexible and accessible through our unified interface, which means as our federated network grows, new antennas are immediately available to clients without any software changes on their end.”
“We view our partnership with ATLAS Space Operations as a true win-win for our companies and the industry,” said John Williams, Vice President of Viasat RTE. “We are already seeing enormous interest in this joint approach. Government customers flying a variety of assets appreciate the diversity of antennas available to them through a single interface, while commercial customers see the value in more antennas in different locations to significantly reduce the latency between data collection and data delivery.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Mar 23. SWISSto12 launches U.S. entity St12 RF Solutions. SWISSto12 SA (St12) has incorporated St12 RF Solutions, Inc. — this new entity will focus on engaging government and industry partners in the United States to commercialize advanced RF solutions.
SWISSto12 delivers RF cavity-based components, antennas and antenna array solutions based on 3D additive manufacturing technology. The company’s patented RF design, surface finishing and plating processes for the realization of complex RF solutions, together with advanced RF designs, are deployed in Aerospace missions that include satellite communications (SATCOM), surveillance and radar.
St12 RF Solutions, Inc. will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of SWISSto12, SA. Scott Wolf, an experienced executive in the US Aerospace market, has been appointed as operating executive for the entity and will report to a majority U.S. citizens Board of Directors, allowing St12 RF Solutions, Inc., to engage seamlessly with U.S. customers for export controlled and restricted programs and missions.
Frontgrade Technologies, a provider of RF technologies and related mission critical electronic solutions, collaborates with SWISSto12 in bringing these unique products to the U.S. market and customers by leveraging a production facility under a licensing agreement with SWISSto12.
Additive Manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing based on Selective Laser Melting (SLM), is an advanced manufacturing technology that has gained traction in the Aerospace industry over the last decade. AM for RF systems enables high precision formats and complex geometries that allow form factors and performance that cannot be achieved with standard manufacturing solutions. Integrated subsystems that combine multiple components in one single homogeneous part reduces weight and complexity, a key differentiator for prime companies where cost and space are at a premium.
Dr. Emile de Rijk, SWISSto12 (St12) founder and CEO, said, “This is a milestone in our strategy to engage customers in the US market with SWISSto12’s core capabilities. It is a clear sign of our commitment to the US market and our core mission of being a trusted partner for the development and delivery of differentiated RF solutions for critical missions. In concert with Frontgrade Technologies, our US partner, we will accelerate the introduction of highly responsive and competitive RF solutions to US customers.”
Scott Wolf, Managing Director of St12 RF Solutions, Inc, said, “The structure and proximity of St12 RF Solutions will enable us to seamlessly engage with our partner, Frontgrade Technologies, and US customers. We are well-positioned to address their most sensitive and challenging requirements and mission needs. St12 RF Solutions will unite experts in business, project management, engineering, and manufacturing technology to understand our customers critical needs and enable their next generation of critical systems based on the advantages of RF Additive Manufacturing (AM).”
Mike Elias, President and CEO of Frontgrade Technologies, said, “Our long-standing partnership with SWISSto12 has delivered mission-critical RF solutions to the US aerospace market for many years. With the launch of St12 RF Solutions in New Hampshire, we are looking forward to deepening this collaboration and further pooling our expertise. I am confident that our combined capabilities will produce the new designs needed to meet the high performance requirements of future space and defence missions.”
SWISSto12 pioneered the development of tailored and patented AM technologies that provide advanced RF performance, size and weight savings as well as product competitiveness through optimized manufacturing tolerances, surface finishes, plating techniques and RF designs. The technology and associated products address the increasingly challenging size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) requirements of Aerospace prime contractors. Since its inception in 2011, SWISSto12 has delivered thousands of qualified products and systems, based on AM technology, currently operating in space, airborne, sea and ground-based environments. (Source: Satnews)
14 Mar 23. DeTect Announces Production of its Largest Surveillance Radar. DeTect, Inc. announced that it has produced its largest and longest-range radar – the HARRIER BAR300 – with an extended range for aircraft detection of 30+ nautical miles. The BAR series radar is an X-band, solid-state air and marine surveillance radar in development by DeTect since 2021 for extended range airspace security, drone operation beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS), Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLS), bird monitoring and long-range coastal surveillance applications. The first production article is now in final certification testing at DeTect’s R&D range in Florida and is expected to be available on the market by the end of the second quarter 2023.
“With this radar, DeTect now offers a full range of 2D and 3D radars from small, lightweight, short-range units to large, long-range radars, allowing DeTect to deliver ‘The Right Radar for the Job’”, said Gary W. Andrews, DeTect’s President and CEO.
DeTect is a US-based radar manufacturer and integrator providing advanced surveillance technologies for air and marine surveillance, UAS operations support and security, and for bird monitoring and risk mitigation. The company has offices and manufacturing facilities in the US, Canada and Europe with over 600 systems delivered worldwide since 2003. (Source: UAS VISION)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power ms 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.