Qioptiq logo Raytheon


Sponsored By Viasat



21 Sep 18. Space company Kleos on track for satellite constellation launch. Kleos Space has signed a contract with US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab to launch the first of its satellite constellation to monitor and locate radio signals from ships. Kleos, a Luxembourg-based company that listed on the Australian Securities Exchange last month, hasn’t specified how many satellites will be aboard the initial launch. But eventually the constellation will number 20, geolocating maritime VHF transmissions. That allows accurate location of vessels in distress, as well as those not broadcasting Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals. Kleos said that would allow governments and organisations to detect activity such as drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy, as well as identify those in need of search and rescue at sea. The initial launch of what Kleos calls the Kleos Scouting Mission in mid-2019 will be aboard an Electron Rocket from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. Kleos’ satellites are being built by Danish company GomSpace.

Kleos said the satellites will be integrated into Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built Maxwell dispensers and deployed from the Electron kick stage into low Earth orbit.

Rocket Lab’s unique kick stage, powered by the 3D printed Curie engine, is designed to circularise small satellite orbits and perform complex manoeuvres, including multiple engine burns, to deploy many satellites into different orbits.

This provides unmatched mission flexibility, making it ideal for deploying and replenishing constellations.

“Rocket Lab’s technology provides us with the flexibility we need to grow our satellite constellation and respond to the demanding market needs. We are thrilled to launch our first satellites with a new space company which meets our business philosophy,” said Kleos Space chief executive Andy Bowyer.

“Our technology will provide accessible and commercial solutions to respond to global concerns regarding surveillance, intelligence gathering and defence issues. The Kleos Scouting Mission will deliver targeted daily services with the full constellation delivering near-real-time global observation.”

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said small satellite technology like that of Kleos Space was increasingly playing a vital role in informing decisions on the ground that protect people and the environment.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kleos Space to provide them with the rapid and reliable access to orbit needed to build and replenish small satellite constellations,” he said.

Rocket Lab is a US company with a New Zealand subsidiary. The company conducted trial launches of its Electron rocket from its facility on the Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island in May 2017 and January this year. The first commercial launch will likely occur later this year.  (Source: Defence Connect)


20 Sep 18. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) conducted its first ground test of a 63-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) today in Promontory, Utah. Utilizing advanced technologies, the company developed this new rocket motor for use on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle. Northrop Grumman began developing the motor just three years ago, reaching this static test milestone in rapid time for such a complex drop-in solution to an existing launch vehicle. The team developed the innovative design that tailors motor performance to meet ULA design objectives under a cooperative development program.

“Northrop Grumman has been supplying solid propulsion motors for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964,” said Scott Lehr, president, flight systems, Northrop Grumman. “As ULA’s largest legacy supplier of solid propulsion, we’re pleased that our most recent product has reached this important milestone. The successful completion of this test enables full production to begin.”

The GEM 63 motor will be used as a direct replacement of the previous strap-on boosters on ULA’s Atlas V rocket beginning in July 2019 with the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission that will use five boosters. Additional missions will follow, each of which may include up to five solid rocket motors.

The relationship with ULA began in 1964 when Thiokol (a Northrop Grumman predecessor company), in Huntsville, Alabama, provided three CASTOR® I strap-on rocket motors for the Delta D rocket. Several years later, CASTOR IIs flew on the Delta E rocket, and subsequently CASTOR IVs helped launch higher-performing Delta rockets. Also, CASTOR IVAs flew on the Atlas IIAS vehicle from 1993 to 2004, when 120 solid rocket boosters flew on 30 successful Atlas IIAS launches. Prior to the current Delta IV heavy launch vehicle, Northrop Grumman provided the large three-segmented Solid Rocket Motor Upgrade (SRMU) strap-on booster for the Titan IVB rocket. Thirty four SRMUs successfully flew on Titan IV from 1997 to 2005.

Northrop Grumman, then Hercules, began developing the GEM family of strap-on motors in the late 1980s with the GEM 40, 1,003 of which have subsequently flown on 132 successful Delta II launches. The company also developed the GEM 46, 54 of which flew on six successful Delta II-Heavy launches. Northrop Grumman later developed the GEM 60, and to date 62 of these motors have flown on 25 successful Delta IV launches. The company’s family of GEM 63 rocket motors builds on this extensive flight history.

Northrop Grumman is also developing a GEM 63XL motor using internal funding for use on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which will fly with up to six GEM 63XLs per flight. The first GEM 63XL case, which is the longest non-segmented, monolithic case ever manufactured, has already been wound at a new facility in Clearfield, Utah.

Both versions of the GEM 63 family use common materials and processes to maintain a high-reliability, low-cost product. The next GEM 63 motor test, scheduled for November, will satisfy additional requirements for certification by the U.S. Air Force.

19 Sep 18. Global Satellite Launch and Space Insurance Market 2018-2022. Growing Demand for Small Satellites to Boost Demand, Technavio. Technavio has published a new market research report on the global satellite launch and space insurance market for the period 2018-2022. The global satellite launch and space insurance market 2018-2022 is expected to grow to USD 1,311m during the forecast period, according to the latest market research report by Technavio.

A key factor driving the growth of the market is the rising number of satellite launches. The demand for satellite-based services such as EO, climate monitoring, and reconnaissance from the telecommunication industry is growing in several countries. Advances in satellite technology and the development of low-cost small satellites and nanosatellites have also increased the demand for new satellites. Several countries and private spaceflight companies are planning to increase their number of satellite launches during the forecast period. This market research report on the global satellite launch and space insurance market 2018-2022 also provides an analysis of the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook during the forecast period. Technavio classifies an emerging trend as a major factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline. In this report, Technavio highlights the growing demand for small satellites as one of the key emerging trends in the global satellite launch and space insurance market:

Global satellite launch and space insurance market: The growing demand for small satellites

The number of small satellites that were launched into the orbit had increased significantly in the last decade. Small satellites could be as small as a shoe box or as large as a washing machine.

“Small satellites cost less and require low capital investment to manufacture. The demand for small satellites is high for applications such as scientific exploration and EO as the low cost allows the deployment of several satellites, which enables simultaneous measurement and collection of real-time data,” says a senior analyst at Technavio.

This market research report segments the global satellite launch and space insurance market by product (launch insurance and space insurance), by end-user (satellite manufacturers and satellite operators), and geographical regions (APAC, EMEA, and the Americas).

The EMEA led the market in 2017 with a market share of close to 77%, followed by APAC and the Americas respectively. The region is expected to continue to dominate the market during the forecast period.

Looking for more information on this market? Request a free sample report

Technavio’s sample reports are free of charge and contain multiple sections of the report such as the market size and forecast, drivers, challenges, trends, and more.

Some of the key topics covered in the report include:

Market Landscape

  • Market ecosystem
  • Market characteristics
  • Market segmentation analysis

Market Sizing

  • Market definition
  • Market size and forecast

Five Forces Analysis

Market Segmentation

Geographical Segmentation

  • Regional comparison
  • Key leading countries

Market Drivers

Market Challenges

Market Trends

Vendor Landscape

  • Vendors covered
  • Vendor classification
  • Market positioning of vendors
  • Competitive scenario


18 Sep 18. Intelsat encrypting Five Eyes as contested operations increase. The safe transference of data is of the upmost importance to civil and military operators alike; however, the conduct of clandestine missions conducted by multinational actors in the evolving digital battlespace must be undertook securely without interference and Intelsat General Communications (IGC) is using encryption to protect these missions. Global communications company IGC provides communications and satellite infrastructure networks to enable operators the capacity to have broadband connectivity, multi-format video broadcasting, in addition to secure SATCOM and mobility services.

Lesley Rahman, director of engineering at IGC LLC, explained to Shephard in a statement how the company’s satellites interplay with civil and military customers information sharing.

‘The Intelsat EpicNG satellites employ the most advanced digital payload in the commercial sector today, providing enhanced protections against jamming and interference, one of the most common threats to satellite communication.

Rahman added: ‘Providing even more protection, the Intelsat EpicNG spot beams and wider bandwidth segments are compatible with the [US] Air Force’s Protected Tactical Waveform, providing cost effective protection in multiple frequency bands.’

In July of this year, IGC confirmed that the company was partnering with Hughes for high throughput satellite (HTS) capabilities for rotary-wing platforms which through its adoption enables further security measures. An IGC spokesperson stated the ‘inherent’ capabilities of its HTS spotbeams to ‘mitigate’ threats: ‘In order to jam, an attacker must be in the same beam as the satellite. Intelsat’s HTS spot beams are much smaller than traditional widebeams and are different in frequency, polarisation, or both from the adjacent beams.

‘This means that the jammer has to be within this much smaller HTS beam in order to jam. If the attack is outside that specific spot beam, the jammer cannot succeed.’

The spokesperson continued to explain that as a result of the organisation’s EpicNG satellite’s nominal beam size at 125MHz enables capacity for ‘mitigation techniques’ when it is considered in line with the Ka band which is 25MHz. Furthermore, the company in its approach to cybersecurity adheres to US DoD security measures and more widely across government departments.

Rahman explained further: ‘By utilising layered security measures and retaining complete, end-to-end control of both the space and terrestrial components of our global network, IGC is able to detect, prevent and mitigate cyber threats.’

Half of the battle with cybersecurity is knowing that threats look to challenge and disrupt SATCOM networks utilised by multinational operators like the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance. IGC is motivated to facing this trial head on through encryption methods.

‘In recognition of the fact that space is becoming an increasingly contested environment, and with adversaries recognising the advantage that the US military and NATO and FVEY allies gain from their satellite infrastructure, Intelsat has made the additional investment to design, equip, and operate the majority of their satellites using cryptographic systems that have been reviewed and approved by the NSA.

‘These systems are used to secure the commands between the ground and the satellites and more recently, to secure the telemetry as well, which is the information travelling from the satellite to the ground regarding its health, safety, and monitoring,’ Rahman stated. (Source: Shephard)

18 Sep 18. New Space Force price tag fuels Capitol Hill skeptics. Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman had already decided to lead opposition in the U.S. House to President Donald Trump’s “Space Force” proposal. But a widely leaked Air Force estimate that creating a space force as a new military service would cost $13bn over the first five years only stiffened Coffman’s resolve. Coffman, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee and sits on its Strategic Forces Subcommittee, was sure other lawmakers agree with him.

“A really bad idea is a ‘Department of Space,’” Coffman said in an interview Tuesday, adding, “I feel confident we can block this. The president will not have the votes.”

Creating a “separate but equal” Space Force as Trump has proposed will require congressional action. The administration is expected early next year to submit proposed legislation, which for now let the Air Force’s estimate take center stage.

To Coffman, whose district includes Buckley Air Force Base and the 460th Space Wing, the Air Force has not focused enough on space, while China and Russia work to threaten U.S. military’s space-based assets.

It’s vital that the U.S. has assured access to space and that its assets be defensible, but he said he favors the approach in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which establishes a new combatant command for space. He’s not convinced a new service would deliver more capability for the price.

“I think we have made some progress reducing bureaucracy in the Pentagon,” Coffman said of the HASC’s recent work. “I just can’t imagine going in the other direction for no real value.”

Susanna Blume, an analyst with the Center for a New American Security, said the cost estimate raises concerns about impacts for the Pentagon, but with so much undecided about what a Space Force will do, it’s hard to speculate who the winners and losers would be.

“You don’t create a large chunk of new bureaucracy for free. And given that there is no new growth in the defense budget on the horizon, yes, things will have to be cut to pay for it,” Blume said. “I think the Air Force is likely to bear the brunt of it, as that’s where the preponderance of the space mission resides now.”

Clouding things further, the overall price tag may not be realistic, according to Todd Harrison, a space expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“This estimate is way too high. It’s as if the Air Force is trying to sabotage the idea by making it seem much broader and more expensive than it really would be,” Harrison said, who added that part of the $13bn is actually earmarked for U.S. Space Command.

With the $13bn cost estimate, opponents on Capitol Hill can make it an argument against Pentagon waste. To boot, Coffman said he can point to the initial opposition from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who asked for a chance to address the problem better with the existing organization. (Both have since fallen behind the president.)

Though HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chair Mike Rogers, R-Ala., is a vocal proponent of Space Force, a split among Republicans could be deadly to the proposal. That’s especially so because HASC ranking Democrat Adam Smith, of Washington state, in recent days came out as a strong opponent.

Smith could galvanize Democrats, just as they have a strong chance of taking control of the House in midterm elections. In the scenario, Smith would likely become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, key Republicans in the Senate seemed open-minded but lukewarm on Tuesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had yet to see the Air Force estimate. He did have a lot of questions and called the $13bn figure, “a lot of money.”

“We’ll evaluate it all. We have to look at the cost, purpose, what would it do, will this add another layer of bureaucracy, will it add another layer of security,” Shelby said. “What does this do to the Air Force, does it strengthen it, weaken it, create another agency? They’ve got some explaining to do, I believe.”

Shelby was deferential to the Senate Armed Services Committee which has yet to hold a single hearing on this presidential priority. On Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., would not commit to holding hearings on the idea.

Inhofe was initially skeptical of a sixth branch and has yet to take a strong position since Trump threw his weight behind the idea. Last month, he said he was waiting to hear the cost after Mattis appealed to him in a recent meeting.

“The Air Force is primarily affected by this. I think they’ve been doing a pretty good job, but I don’t know what you get for $13bn, so I don’t know. I haven’t changed [positions],” Inhofe said.

Inhofe acknowledged the tension between the potential price tag and statutory budget caps, set to return for 2020 and 2021: “You’re adding $13bn over a period of time we may determine could be better spent on something else.”

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and its Budget Committee, said it was hard to take Trump’s proposal seriously yet.

“I’m just struck by the fact that the president and others have talked about this and have not come to the Armed Services Committee to share what it means, how they would do it and what it would cost,” Kaine said. “That leads me to question the seriousness of the proposal.” (Source: Defense News)

17 Sep 18. LM Introduces Mission Planning System That Connects Systems and Assets Across Domains. Success in future conflicts will require the ability to operate across a resilient network that connects disparate systems and assets across different domains. To move toward this future, Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has introduced the Multi-Domain Synchronized Effects Tool (MDSET), which links traditionally stove-piped resources to create synergistic effects and shorten the “data to decision cycle.”

“In planning missions, our troops need the agility to succeed amidst uncertainty,” said Dr. Rob Smith, vice president of C4ISR and Unmanned Aerial Systems. “MDSET provides that agility by removing centricity from operational planning and paving the way for true multi-domain mission effects planning and replanning at speed and at scale.”

MDSET addresses the complexity of the multi-domain battle by transforming command and control into a collaborative cross domain decision-making framework. Assimilating essential information from stove-piped systems into one intuitive system, MDSET creates a comprehensive picture of the integrated plan, allowing decisions to be made based on concurrent (vs. serial) situational awareness of activity in all domains.

To further the development of multi-domain enabled technologies, Lockheed Martin has hosted a series of wargames – most recently this past August – that explore the processes needed to support rapid and continuous operational planning. The MDSET system played a significant role at these wargames, where the system gave participants unified command and control capabilities in the context of a multi-domain battlespace. (Source: ASD Network)

17 Sep 18. Pushing Back on Pentagon’s First Blueprints for Trump’s Space Force. In a pointed memo, Heather Wilson counters several Space Force proposals championed by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Standing up the Pentagon’s new Space Force will cost nearly $13bn over five years, according to U.S. Air Force estimates, Defense One has learned. That estimate is included in a Sept. 14 memo from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. In the 16-page memo, Wilson lays out her own plan for standing up the new branch of the U.S. military championed by President Trump. She also pushes back on various aspects of Shanahan’s Space Force plan. In particular, Wilson argues against the proposal to create a Space Development Agency to oversee satellite acquisition and to establish a new top-level position in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

“[T]here is no need to establish an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space, nor is there any benefit to either establishing an additive agency or moving programs to a temporary holding organization,” she wrote.

Related: What Trump’s Space Force Announcement Means

Related: 5 Unanswered Questions About Space Force

Related: Opposition to a Space Force Simmers in the Senate

Wilson — who in the past objected to removing military space activities from the Air Force — argues that her plan “establishes a clear mission, directly related to the strategic problem we’re trying to solve.”

The memo also says the Air Force estimates that creating Space Force will cost more than $3bn in its first year and an additional $10bn over the four following years. The Air Force estimates the Space Force would total about 13,000 people.

Defense One reviewed a copy of the memo, which Wilson alluded to in a speech given Monday at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

In her State of the Air Force address, Wilson said the Air Force — which oversees the lion’s share of military space activities — must play a role in the creation of a Space Force. Defense sources have said that the Air Force was largely cut out of a Pentagon effort that started the process of standing up the Space Force.

“As airmen, we have a responsibility to develop a proposal for the president that is bold and that carries out his vision,” Wilson said on Monday.

Earlier this year, Shanahan laid out the Pentagon’s initial plans to change the way it oversees space, saying the Defense Department would stand up U.S. Space Command, a combatant command that would oversee warfighting in space, and a Space Development Agency for buying satellites. In her memo to Shanahan, Wilson calls for the Air Force Space Rapid Capabilities Office to become the Space Development Agency, a new satellite buying organization championed by Shanahan.

“This office exists now and has the personnel and expertise to develop and field the warfighting capabilities needed by U.S.Space Command,” Wilson writes.

The Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal, which is slated to head to Congress in February, is expected to include legislation calling for the creation of a Space Force, according to defense officials. If Congress approves the Space Force, Wilson, in her memo, writes that Air Force space personnel and projects could be transferred to the new service in fiscal 2021. Wilson said the Space Force must have deeper ties with the intelligence community.

“That proposal must contain all of the elements needed for space to be fully successful as a department,” she said. “It must maintain a close connection between acquisition and the warfighter and it must deepen the already close connection between military space and the space elements of the intelligence community.”

Combining the National Reconnaissance Office into a Space Force was not part of a Pentagon plan to start reorganizing its space forces in advance of the creation of a new branch of the military that President Trump desires.

Wilson, in her memo to Shanahan, calls for the head of the National Reconnaissance Office to also be the head of the Air Force Space Rapid Capabilities Office, “establishing a unity of command for these organizations.”

Wilson, in her speech, said the Air Force will continue its restructuring of its Los Angeles-based Space and Missiles Systems Center, the organization that oversees most of the Air Force’s satellite buys and launches.

“The Air Force proposal accomplishes several things: it focuses Department attention on what problems need to be solved; maximizes the utilization of existing resources; avoids the creation of duplicative functions; and provides a path to accomplishing the President’s vision for a separate Department of the Space Force,” Wilson writes in the memo. “The approach avoids disrupting programs and increasing risk to ongoing effort, while providing a vision for a comprehensive space force.” (Source: Defense One)

18 Sep 18. Victoria stakes claim as the Place for Space. Victoria is upping its bid to become Australia’s space state, with a campaign saying just why it should be home for the new Australian Space Agency. The campaign is titled Victoria: The Place for Space and highlights the state’s space credentials, which include 250 companies in the space sector, employing some 2,300 people. Space business generates more than $400m revenue for the Victorian state economy every year.

Victorian Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll said the state’s bid for the Australian Space Agency was all about Victorian jobs and the future of its economy. “We’re already a leader in aerospace research and development – which makes us an obvious choice to help co-ordinate national and international collaboration on space,” he said. “Companies like Opaque Media Group who have worked in collaboration with NASA are another example of the specialist expertise we have in Victoria and sets us apart from the rest of the pack.”

Opaque has developed the award-winning virtual reality Earthlight spacewalk, which simulates repair missions on the International Space Station, in consultation with NASA, which now uses the program to train its astronauts.

Opaque Media Group also provides virtual reality training programs for Boeing.

The company is receiving a grant from the Victorian government’s Defence Industry Supply Chain Program to help the business secure more high value contracts in aerospace, defence and national security.

Although an early pioneer of space, hosting British launches and even launching its own satellite, Australia’s space business languished. Australia used a wide range of space services but, unlike other OECD nations, had no national space agency. That was recognised in the recent inquiry, which called for creation of a guiding national space agency. The government agreed and the Australian Space Agency was officially launched in May, with the federal budget allocating initial funding of $41m. The agency is based in Canberra within the Federal Industry Department with former CSIRO head Dr Megan Clark as its inaugural head. In its bid to become permanent home for the Australian Space Agency, Victoria cites its extensive aerospace sector, including world-class research and development centres, seven engineering schools, leading space data analytic capabilities and advanced manufacturing expertise. It says it’s also a leader in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education, from the Victorian Space Science Education Centre to Australia’s top engineering and technology universities. Major Australian space-related science and technology companies are based in Victoria, including Lockheed Martin, Thales, Boeing and BAE Systems.

“The size of Victoria’s space industry and our expertise in advanced manufacturing and research and development make Victoria the perfect location to base the manufacturing and development functions of the agency,” it said.

“Australia’s space sector is expected to triple over the next decade, meaning Victoria’s space sector could potentially create up to 4,000 new jobs and boost the economy by $1.3bn.” (Source: Defence Connect)

17 Sep 18. Northrop Grumman saw the end of an era with the final flight of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta II rocket. On Sept. 15, Delta II successfully boosted NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation satellite (ICESat-2), designed and built by Northrop Grumman, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. ICESat-2 will provide precise measurements of the changing height of Earth’s glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice. The satellite will enable scientists to measure the topography of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in unprecedented detail. “ICESat-2 demonstrates the company’s expertise in delivering high-quality Earth science satellites that help scientists gain a better understanding of the changes that can affect the planet’s frozen and icy areas,” said Steve Krein, vice president, science, environmental and weather programs, Northrop Grumman. “As a key focus of NASA’s Earth science research, ICESat-2 paves the way for scientific discoveries that will yield new data on the potential effects of a changing Earth.”

Northrop Grumman sites in California and Maryland provided numerous ICESat-2 subsystems, including the satellite’s diaphragm propellant tank, pressurant tank, solar arrays and heat pipes. Protecting ICESat-2 during Delta II’s final flight was a 10-foot diameter composite payload fairing built by Northrop Grumman’s composite center of excellence in Iuka, Mississippi, and the last four Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) 40 strap-on solid rocket boosters, that provided an additional 460,000 pounds of maximum thrust, were manufactured at two Northrop Grumman facilities in Utah.

Originally designed and built by McDonnell Douglas, Delta II entered service in 1989, and Northrop Grumman and its heritage companies have been a vital part of that unprecedented 30-year success.

“This is an emotional launch for me” said Mark Pieczynski, vice president, business development, flight systems, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. Prior to joining the company in 2007, Pieczynski held a series of senior-level positions on Delta launch vehicle programs for McDonnell Douglas, The Boeing Company and ULA. “With this last Delta II launch, I have been part of delivering 97 satellites to orbit atop the Delta II. I’ll miss her.”

Northrop Grumman has been supplying solid propulsion motors to ULA and its predecessor companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964 and is ULA’s largest legacy supplier of solid propulsion.

“As the Delta II program finishes its long, successful run, we note that more than 1,000 GEM 40 strap-on boosters have helped launch 132 Delta II missions, including today’s,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “The Delta II rocket enjoys the longest consecutive success record in commercial rocket motor history.”

The Northrop Grumman connection continues

As one program comes to an end, another begins. Northrop Grumman began developing a 63-inch diameter GEM motor about three years ago, and is planning its first static fire for Sept. 20 in Promontory, Utah. Using advanced technologies, the company developed this new rocket motor for use on ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicle.

“I’m proud to be part of a company that has been supplying solid propulsion rocket motors for more than 50 years,” said Scott Lehr, president, flight systems, Northrop Grumman. “We’re pleased that our most recent product has reached this important milestone, as we prepare to continue serving ULA.”

The GEM 63 motor will be used as a direct replacement of the previous strap-on boosters on ULA’s Atlas V rocket beginning July 2019 with the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission that will use five boosters. Additional missions will follow, each of which could include up to five solid rocket motors.

Northrop Grumman is also developing a GEM 63XL motor using internal funding for use on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which will fly with up to six GEM 63XLs per flight. The first GEM 63XL case, which is the longest non-segmented, monolithic case ever manufactured, has already been wound at a new facility in Clearfield, Utah.

“It’s an exciting time for Northrop Grumman to play a large role in the future of rocket propulsion,” said Lehr. “Our history shows an impressive launch record, and I’m confident our future will do the same.”

15 Sep 18. USAF awards next GPS satellite contract. Lockheed Martin has scooped up a contract, worth up to $7.2bn, for the latest batch of next-generation GPS satellites. The award decision comes as little surprise, as Lockheed Martin is the incumbent on the GPS III program responsible for manufacturing the first 10 satellites. It was also the sole bidder on the most recent contracting vehicle, which will span an additional 22 satellites.

“The world is dependent on GPS, from getting directions to getting cash from an ATM machine or trading on the stock exchange,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in a statement. “These satellites will provide greater accuracy and improved anti-jamming capabilities, making them more resilient.”

Three companies — Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman —won Phase 1 contracts for the follow-one program in 2016 to perform feasibility studies, but the Boeing and Northrop Grumman dropped out of the competition. Boeing in April 2018 confirmed that it did not bid on the opportunity, stating that the solicitation “emphasized mature production to current GPS requirements and did not value lower cost, payload performance or flexibility.”

Later that month, Northrop Grumman also acknowledged its own decision not to compete, with Kathy Worden, its president and chief operating officer, saying that the opportunity was “not attractive.”

Although the contract was awarded with less competition than the Air Force might have anticipated, the service touted the program’s acquisition strategy. By eliminating reviews and speeding up source selection — perhaps possible because there was only one bidder — the service was able to shave five months from the schedule, it said.

The Air Force also pointed to the fixed price contract as a sign of progress, as Lockheed Martin will be responsible for eating any cost overruns.

“Through this acquisition, we are demonstrating many of the principles of our SMC transformation,” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of Space and Missile Systems Center. “Getting to a manufacturing steady state in a fixed price environment will allow us the opportunity to realize substantial cost savings, deliver on a planned schedule, and provide avenues for needed warfighter capability upgrades in the future.”

Lockheed Martin in August shipped the first GPS III satellite from Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., to Cape Canaveral, Fla., ahead of its projected launch in December. The first of this newest batch of follow-on satellites, called GPS IIIF, is expected to be available for launch in 2026. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)


15 Sep 18. Advanced technologies from Northrop Grumman support launch of ULA’s Delta II rocket and deployment of NASA’s satellite. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today announced the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation spacecraft (ICESat-2), built by the company for NASA, successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. In addition to manufacturing the spacecraft, Northrop Grumman also provided propulsion, key composite structures, a space navigation system and other components on the Delta II launch vehicle. This event marks the final launch of the Delta II rocket.

ICESat-2 will provide precise measurements of the changing height of Earth’s glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice. The satellite is carrying the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS), built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which will measure the height of a changing Earth one laser pulse at a time. The instrument will enable scientists to measure the topography of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in unprecedented detail. With 10,000 laser pulses per second, the fast-shooting laser technology allows ATLAS to take measurements every 28 inches along the satellite’s path.

“ICESat-2 demonstrates the company’s expertise in delivering high-quality Earth science satellites that help scientists gain a better understanding of the changes that can affect the planet’s frozen and icy areas,” said Steve Krein, vice president, science, environmental and weather programs, Northrop Grumman. “As a key focus of NASA’s Earth science research, ICESat-2 paves the way for scientific discoveries that will yield new data on the potential effects of a changing Earth.”

Northrop Grumman designed and manufactured the ICESat-2 spacecraft at its Gilbert, Arizona, satellite manufacturing facility and will provide mission operations at its Dulles, Virginia, site. The company built the satellite on its flight-proven LEOStar-3™ platform, which will be also used for the upcoming Landsat-9 and JPSS spacecraft. Company facilities in California and Maryland provided numerous subsystems, including the satellite’s diaphragm propellant tank, pressurant tank, solar arrays and heat pipes for two components on the spacecraft. Northrop Grumman also supplied its Scalable Space Inertial Reference Unit (Scalable SIRU™) navigation system for the satellite to enable spacecraft attitude control and sensor pointing/stabilization. The Scalable SIRU is the industry standard for high-precision, long-life attitude control solutions supporting commercial, government and civil space missions.

Northrop Grumman also manufactured the Delta II rocket’s four Graphite Epoxy Motors 40 (GEM 40), which provided an additional 460,000 pounds of maximum thrust during today’s launch. Northrop Grumman has been supplying solid propulsion motors to ULA and its predecessor companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964 and is ULA’s largest legacy supplier of solid propulsion.

“As the Delta II program finishes its long, successful run, we note that 1,003 GEM 40 strap-on boosters have helped launch 132 Delta II missions, including today’s,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “The Delta II rocket enjoys the longest consecutive success record in commercial rocket motor history.”

Northrop Grumman manufactured the GEM 40 motors in Utah, the Delta II rocket’s 10-foot diameter composite fairing in Mississippi and the rocket’s second stage helium and nitrogen pressurization bottles in California.

15 Sep 18. Brazil space station open for small satellite business. Brazil is ready to launch small commercial rockets from its space base near the equator as soon as it agrees to safeguard U.S. technology that is dominant in the industry, the Brazilian Air Force officer managing the space program said on Friday.

Brig. Major Luiz Fernando Aguiar said Brazil wants to get a piece of the $300bn-a-year space launch business by drawing U.S. companies interested in launching small satellites at a lower cost from the Alcantara base on its north coast.

“The microsatellite market is most attractive today and we are interested in the 50 to 500-kilo niche,” Aguiar told Reuters at the base’s main launch pad. “We are developing a rocket for microsatellites. For that this tower is totally ready.”

Space cooperation between the United States and Brazil took a big step forward when they signed a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) agreement last month during a visit to Brasilia by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. The accord on sharing real-time tracking data on objects and debris in space is needed to develop a satellite launching business without the risk of collision. Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) in December visited the Alcantara space center, which is especially attractive to smaller firms, such as Tucson, Arizona-based rocket-maker Vector Launch Inc, because its equatorial location cuts fuel costs by a third allowing heavier payloads. But Brazil’s plan to become a new hub in the space industry will depend on concluding a technology safeguard agreement (TSA) with the United States to protect sensitive American space launch and satellite technology, Aguiar said. Without it, no U.S. rocket can blast off from the South American country.

A previous attempt at a U.S.-Brazilian space partnership was scuttled in 2003 when the TSA ran into resistance from the leftist government of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and was thwarted by Brazilian lawmakers.

Aguiar said that agreement floundered because it allowed the U.S. unverified access to the Alcantara base that was not acceptable on sovereignty grounds. A new Brazilian proposal under consideration by the U.S. government will be more “palatable” to the Brazilian Congress.

The TSA is seen by Washington as opening opportunities for greater cooperation in aerospace and defense between the two countries.

The market for small satellite launches is expected to grow fast in the next few years and the U.S. space industry is keen to see new launch capacity in the world and a quick resolution to the negotiation of the TSA with Brazil.

“Demand for launch services has outstripped supply globally and another launch site is needed. Because of its location, Alcantara offers advantages no other site in the world provides,” an industry source said.

Aguiar said the government will set up a company called Alada to market the launch site. He said the Air Force has been in talks with Brazilian aerospace company Embraer SA on how to manage the business going forward.

One possibility, Brazilian Air Force officials said, is a joint venture with Embraer’s satellite company Visiona, which is not part of the planned $4.75bn tie-up between Boeing and Embraer’s commercial aviation arm. (Source: Reuters)

14 Sep 18. GPS III satellites are nearly ready to launch, but what’s being done on terra firma to support them? The U.S. Air Force is getting ready to deliver the first of its next-generation GPS III satellites into orbit later this year, and expects the new satellites to deliver significant capability improvements. But much work also needs to be done on Earth to make sure the Air Force is able to get the most out of the platforms. That’s why Lockheed Martin will begin a series of updates to the architecture’s ground control system following the initial launch, according to a statement from the company. These updates will give the Air Force get a head start on testing and operations before the majority of the constellation is in place.

The Air Force placed Lockheed Martin on contract in 2016 and 2017 to upgrade the existing Architecture Evolution Plan (AEP) Operational Control System (OCS) called GPS III Contingency Operations (COps) and M-Code Early Use (MCEU), respectively. Just as the GPS III satellites themselves are equipped with improved anti-jamming technology and more accurate signals transmission capability, the ground systems and software that control them need to be upgraded as well.

The Air Force has also worked with Raytheon on the estimated $6bn Operational Control Segment program, often referred to as OCX. That program is expected to serve as the primary ground control system for the GPS III program but has been behind schedule. SpaceNews recently reported the target completion date for Block 1 of the program is June 2021. Block O, the launch and checkout system, was delivered in September 2017. Lockheed Martin’s contingency program will allow the existing control system to support and integrate more powerful GPS III satellites. Modifications will support GPS III satellites in their position, navigation and timing missions, coordinating their movement with GPS IIR, IIR-M and IIF satellites already in orbit. A second set of upgrades, known as the MCEU modernization program, will focus on the development of M-Code, a new advanced signal designed to improve anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities. The program will improve the existing ground system and allow it to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation. In other words, MCEU modernization will help the Air Force integrate and test GPS III satellites into the current constellation earlier. COps is on schedule for delivery in May 2019 and MCEU is scheduled for delivery in January 2020. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)


13 Sep 18. US$1bn+ for LeoSat Enterprises. LeoSat Enterprises has achieved an important milestone by securing commercial agreements valued at over US$1bn — these pre-launch agreements span a wide range of fast-growing data and mobility sectors that include Enterprise, Telecoms, Government and Finance. Big Data and Cybersecurity are driving the need for new communications infrastructure. Data volumes are exploding with more data carried in the past two years than in the in the entire history of the human race. Global networks are already carrying more than 1 Zeta Byte of traffic and this is forecast to grow exponentially. This is having a lasting effect on the satellite communications industry, with the need to invest in and deploy resilient and future-proof networks to deliver connectivity and services. In recent months, LeoSat also announced the first details in the development of the ground system with an agreement with Phasor Solutions, the developer of leading, enterprise-grade electronically-steered antenna (ESA) systems.

Mark Rigolle, the CEO of LeoSat Enterprises, said that the company believes that LeoSat can truly fuel worldwide economic growth by offering the firm’s customers the fastest, most reliable and secure global infrastructure for data communications. These commercial agreements valued at more than US$1bn clearly demonstrate LeoSat’s progression from a new networking concept to a unique solution that resonates with customers and has also attracted the firm backing of two leading satellite companies — SKY Perfect JSAT and Hispasat. While the perception of satellite for data communications is often seen as a last resort, LeoSat will change that by pairing the speed of fiber with the ubiquity of satellite and adding a new dimension of ultra-security.  The company will deliver a paradigm shift in expanding the existing satellite services market and will open up new markets for space-based data networking for enterprise, telecoms and government communications across the globe.

Mark Rigolle, the CEO of LeoSat Enterprises, is participating in the upcoming Satellite Innovation event that will be in session from October 8 to October 11 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Mark will be a speaker at the LEO and MEO Internet Constellations session, which will be underway at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10.

This session will offer attendees information regarding emerging constellations that offer broadband, with much lower latency than GEO satellites, that are being proposed by several companies. Analysts agree that the advent of these huge fleets of smallsats in non-geostationary orbits have the potential to change the paradigm for satellite communications and internet connectivity in particular. What capabilities can we expect from these various constellations coming online? (Source: Satnews)

12 Sep 18. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Awards Seven Geospatial Analytics Contracts. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has awarded seven contracts for advanced geospatial analytics research under Topic 6 of the Boosting Innovative GEOINT Broad Agency announcement. The BIG BAA contracts are part of NGA’s effort to enhance the ability to use advanced algorithms and machine learning to characterize geospatial data. The intent is to provide insight and context, and to use automated technologies to develop timely and accurate foundation data. NGA received 171 whitepapers under Topic 6, Advanced Geospatial Analytics. NGA solicited 29 proposals from those.

NGA awarded one-year research contracts for the Characterization of Geospatial Data (Subtopic 6.2) to OGSystems, Raytheon Company, and SRI International. The specifics of each contract are as follows:

  • OGSystems’ research will utilize machine learning algorithms and panchromatic electro-optical imagery for land use characterization and agricultural crop assessment. The research aims to identify parameters pertaining to specific crops and growth cycles that would advance NGA’s ability to analyze crops.
  • Raytheon’s research will utilize machine-learning analytics to process spectral datasets, enabling NGA to aggregate spectral and spatial data collection from a full range of commercial and Government sources into a single big-data database, suitable for automated analysis using artificial intelligence and data mining tools.
  • SRI International’s research will exploit deep learning technologies to provide NGA with the ability to automatically detect complex infrastructure along with related components and entities. Their approach uses structured spatiotemporal inference for site activity monitoring over large temporal span and methods that identify temporal variations, trends and spatial correlation.

NGA awarded one-year research contracts for Foundation GEOINT (Subtopic 6.3) to Booz Allen Hamilton, Decisive Analytics Corporation, Raytheon Company and the University of Texas at Austin Applied Research Laboratory. The specifics of each contract are as follows:

  • Booz Allen Hamilton will research a fully automated, scalable solution for nonlinear registration of images and point clouds collected using any sensor, providing improved geospatial accuracy and value to the NGA analyst by reducing the need for manual preprocessing. Their adaptive nonlinear registration machine-learning algorithm would enable fully automated geospatial product generation.
  • Decisive Analytics Corporation will research the automated discovery and classification of foundation data from multi-modal data using configurable algorithms that operate on multi-spectral data to perform automated Foundation Feature Data extraction.
  • Raytheon will research the modification of algorithms for registration of 3D data sets to accommodate NGA-standard rigorous error model. Their proposed research will enhance automated algorithms for photogrammetric registration/adjustment of multiple 3D datasets to include rigorous propagation of error covariance from the adjustment process. This will enable fusion of multiple 3D data sets collected over the same area of interest, providing geolocation improvements.
  • The University of Texas Applied Research Laboratory proposed scalable solutions for automated, verified and validated terrain surface models. They proposed to enhance NGA Foundation products by providing a correction to existing Foundation Digital Terrain Model data using 12-meter TanDEM-X radar data.

A BAA allows agencies to solicit proposals pertaining to basic and applied research. NGA published the BIG BAA to seek input from industry and academia in measuring the value of GEOINT content delivered to diverse customers in a cloud environment. Announcements of specific research topics are published at FedBizOpps.gov. The award of research contracts under Subtopic 6.1 (Discovery) are expected later this year.

Executive Comment

Gregg Black, NGA’s senior authority for commercial imagery and services, stated that the agency is very happy with the robust response from industry and academia. NGA sought creative solutions to GEOINT challenges and received exactly that — the agency hopes that many of these research projects yield results can be integrated into the NGA enterprise to improve operations. (Source: Satnews)

12 Sep 18. SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 and Sends Telstar 18 VANTAGE Satellite Soaring. The night launch took place without a hiccup, on Monday, September 10th, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully lifted off at 12:45 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida carrying the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite was deployed approximately 32 minutes after liftoff. Following stage separation, the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Telstar 18 VANTAGE is the third high throughput satellite (HTS) in Telesat’s global fleet and the first with coverage over the Asia Pacific region. Its innovative payloads will provide Telesat’s customers with a new level of performance and value to serve growing satellite broadband requirements on land, at sea and in the air. Built by SSL, a Maxar Technologies Company, Telstar 18 VANTAGE will replace and expand on the capabilities of Telesat’s Telstar 18 satellite through its extensive C-band capacity over Asia, its Ku-band HTS spots over Indonesia and Malaysia, and its five additional Ku-band beams.

Located at 138 degrees East, the coverage of Telesat’s newest satellite reaches across Asia all the way to Hawaii — in both C and Ku-bands — enabling direct connectivity between any point in Asia and the Americas.

Its Ku-band payloads of HTS spot beams and focused regional beams will provide customers operating in Southeast Asia, Mongolia, Australia and New Zealand, and the North Pacific Ocean with greater choice and flexibility to serve today’s bandwidth intensive applications.

Telesat VANTAGE satellites combine focused regional beams with powerful HTS spot beams enabling users to maximize throughput and spectral efficiency while optimizing network performance. By implementing these advances on Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Telesat customers across the Asia Pacific region will have a competitive edge in meeting growing demand for satellite broadband from mobility markets — both aero and maritime, enterprise network operators and from leading telecom companies.

Telstar 18 VANTAGE is expected to enter commercial service this fall after it has completed orbit raising and on-orbit testing. The satellite has a 15-year design life. (Source: Satnews)

12 Sep 18. Potential $600m for DigitalGlobe’s Contract with National Reconnaissance Office. Maxar Technologies’ (NYSE: MAXR) DigitalGlobe subsidiary has received a potential two-year, $600m contract from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to continue to provide the U.S. Government (USG) access to the company’s WorldView satellite constellation and image archive. The EnhancedView Follow-On (EVFO) contract has a one-year base term and an option year worth approximately $300m per year, according to the NGA. NRO awarded the re-compete on August 29 after the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency transitioned the EnhancedView imagery acquisition contract to the company. Artistic rendition of DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite.

The EnhancedView program (data sheet at this direct link…) seeks to provide authorized government staff with access to high-resolution commercial imagery derived from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1, 2 and 3 satellites to support homeland defense, national security, disaster and emergency response missions.

NRO Director Betty Sapp said that the award of the EVFO is an important first step in the NRO’s strategy of embracing commercial imagery as a key element of the agency’s current overhead architecture and a critical and integral element of the NRO’s future overhead architecture. (Source: Satnews)

08 Sep 18. GMV’s Largest Contract of 250m Euro. Also the Biggest Contract Ever Awarded by Spain’s Space Industry. Imagine GMV’s pride of learning that they are on the receiving end of their largest contract totaling 250m euro, and that the amount is also the largest contract that Spain’s Space Industry has ever awarded. Additionally, more good news — GMV is priming a project team in which 60 percent of the work will be carried out by Spanish firms, directly employing about 200 people

The news was announced that the technology multinational GMV, provider of system integration, development and engineering, has won a bumper contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for maintenance, development and upgrading of Galileo’s Ground Control Segment (GCS). Galileo, the famous flagship of the European Union’s now flourishing space business, is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system.

GMV’s framework contract with ESA is worth a total sum of 250m euro, already including a signed-and-sealed contract for the first Work Order, in itself worth around 150m euro. This establishes the venture as the biggest contract ever signed by GMV in its entire history.

Additionally, the agreement is the biggest contract ever signed by Spain’s space industry as a whole. All this represents a huge boost for the company while also posing a great challenge that places GMV and Spain in a highly visible position. GMV is leading an industrial team made up by several European firms, with Group GMV as the most prominent as well as Spanish industry. Approximately 60 percent of the work will be carried out by Spanish firms; in all, the project will give employment to about 200 people, over 100 of them from GMV.

The Ground Control Segment is responsible for monitoring all constellation satellites and includes all the necessary components for this purpose: the control center, the orbital dynamics system, mission planning, operational support, simulation tools, the key management facility, network security, the telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) stations and the interconnection between all these components. The GCS comprises the main operations center, located in Munich (Germany) and Fucino (Italy), as well as the various monitoring stations spread throughout the world.

As well as taking on critical GCS items, GMV, as part of its overall responsibility for the whole ensemble, will also attend to management of all the above mentioned functions, in all the sites identified, in liaison with the European Space Agency (ESA), as an end client.

Its main remit is maintenance of all the already deployed systems, assuring operations already underway and organizing the future upgrading of the whole system. The cybersecurity aspects, led and developed by GMV, weigh especially heavily in the overall deal. This is the result of an essential part of the system to be maintained and upgraded, after all, calls for management of secure access to information of the Galileo constellation and management also of regulation-signal and high-performance access security keys. The GCS contains all necessary components for these management tasks, and the ultimate responsibility for the proper functioning of these components falls to the project.

In the words of GMV’s CEO, Jesús B. Serrano who said that this is an unprecedented contract for GMV, won by fighting off fierce competition from the top space companies and reflecting GMV’s growing leadership. This contract award likewise represents a huge responsibility, which the company takes on with all the confidence of a team of exceptional professionals. This milestone will enable them to chalk up a workforce of over 2,000 engineers by 2019, making GMV Europe’s biggest medium-sized space company.

From its inception GMV has grown as a firm across all its areas, but especially so in the space and cybersecurity sectors, as proven by them winning more contracts year after year and increasing its turnover.

Now after a 34-year history, the company’s ongoing development has always been driven by ESA’s programs, managed by the Industrial Technology Development Center (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial: CDTI) dependent on the Spanish Ministry of Science Innovation and Universities (Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades).

Likewise, the European Union’s Galileo program, represented in the European Commission and its agencies by the Ministry of Public Works (Ministerio de Fomento), has always been another crucial growth factor for GMV. In the last five years GMV’s staff, currently 1800-strong, has grown by 44 percent. Its worldwide leadership in satellite ground control systems is further cemented by this contract, that shores up its position as a worldwide benchmark in satellite navigation and cybersecurity. (Source: Satnews)


At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield.  As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea.  Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight.  We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible.  And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.


Back to article list