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06 Oct 23. UK leadership in space sustainability.
Find answers to questions about space junk, the risk to satellites in orbit, and how space sustainability can help, as well as the UK Space Agency’s work to address these issues.
Space plays an increasingly crucial role in our daily lives, and the issue of space debris looms large on the horizon. Imagine a scenario where everyday services like TV, navigation, weather forecasting, and online banking are disrupted due to a satellite collision. This is a rising concern and why the UK government is taking bold steps to mitigate the risks associated with space debris by investing in national capabilities and international cooperation.
Scale of the debris challenge
Statistical models estimate that there are approximately one million pieces of space debris measuring between 1 cm and 10 cm, with a staggering 130 million more pieces between 1 mm and 1 cm in orbit. Of these, around 36,500 objects larger than 10 cm are actively tracked, with 31,010 already catalogued. These include relics of the past such as old satellites, spent rocket bodies, and fragments from previous collisions.
Risk to active satellites
Active satellites that provide vital services here on Earth are at risk of collision with other satellites and the huge quantity of human-made debris in orbit around our planet which is why we work to promote the responsible use of space. This is very wide ranging and achieved through a combination of regulation, development of sustainability standards, technological advancements, missions like debris removal, and robust surveillance and tracking services that provide timely warnings for satellites in imminent danger as well as warnings if debris is predicted to fall on UK territory.
UK commitment to tackling space debris
The UK, in accordance with the National Space Strategy, is ramping up its efforts in space sustainability. This includes two Active Debris Removal Phase B mission studies which were awarded to Astroscale and ClearSpace in September 2022 (totalling £4 million). These will help the UK Space Agency decide which mission concept to take forward to a fully-fledged design and launch phase, culminating in 2026 with a demonstration of the nation’s capability to rendezvous, dock with, and deorbit two defunct UK satellites.
Astroscale: Securing Space Sustainability
Ten years ago, Astroscale’s CEO and Founder, Nobu Okada, made a promise to himself that he would find a solution to the space debris issue by the end of 2020. A decade on, over 500 people – from engineers and mission operators to project managers and support staff – have joined Nobu on his quest, working in the UK, France, Israel, the USA and Japan. With solutions ranging from managing satellites that have reached the end of their life, to removing large space debris objects, to future refuelling and recycling services, Astroscale is developing innovative and scalable solutions across the spectrum of in-orbit servicing. A first mover in the rapidly growing in-orbit servicing industry, Astroscale is blazing a trail towards a safer space environment for future generations.
The UK Space Agency is funding Astroscale to continue developing its technology and capability to remove unprepared inactive satellites from Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The Cleaning Outer Space Mission through Innovative Capture (COSMIC) will harness Astroscale’s Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) and robotic debris capture capabilities to remove 2 defunct UK satellites currently orbiting Earth by 2026.
Visit Astroscale’s website to find out more, or their Careers page for opportunities to join the team.
ClearSpace: Revolutionising Space Missions
Founded in 2018, ClearSpace is on a mission to revolutionise space missions. With dynamic engineering teams spread across their offices in Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Luxembourg, and the United States, ClearSpace is developing technologies that span the gamut of in-orbit servicing applications. From disposal and in-orbit transport to inspection, assembly, manufacturing, repair, and recycling, ClearSpace aims to usher in a new era of sustainable space operations and foster a circular space economy.
ClearSpace has been selected by the UK Space Agency to develop an Active Debris Removal mission capable of removing multiple dangerous objects from space. The Clearing of the LEO Environment with Active Removal (CLEAR) mission, which will advance key technology building blocks, is a catalyst for the development of commercially viable disposal services.
Visit the ClearSpace website to find out more about its efforts to combat space debris with the CLEAR mission. Visit their Careers page for opportunities to join the team.
What else are we doing about space sustainability?
We take a multi-faceted approach to delivering on our space sustainability commitments, investing heavily in both European Space Agency (ESA) and national initiatives. Alongside debris removal and in-orbit servicing and manufacturing, we have teams working in areas such as space surveillance and tracking, regulation and standards, and, crucially, international cooperation.
Through ESA, we are a major investor in the ClearSpace-1 mission to remove a piece of debris from orbit, planned for 2026. Through ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme, we have supported an initiative led by Astroscale and partnered with OneWeb, to remove a non-operational telecommunications satellite which may prove a hazard to future orbital operations (set for launch in 2026). We are also lead nation on the important ESA space weather monitoring mission, Vigil.
Space surveillance and tracking
The UK Space Agency is working closely with the Ministry of Defence to develop national space observation and monitoring capability. Using data from a network of ground-based sensors, this will help keep satellites safe from collision, protect our critical national infrastructure, and enable our satellite industry to continue thriving.
Analysts at the UK Space Operations Centre are already providing observation and monitoring information to government users and rolling out a Space Surveillance & Tracking (SST) service to UK-licenced satellite operators for the first time this year under a project called Monitor your Satellites (MyS). This warns operators of possible collisions so they can manoeuvre out of the way if needed. MyS is currently in the public beta phase, and the service currently monitors over 90% of satellites with active licenses in the UK.
Regulation and standards
Safe, secure and sustainable practices require an agreed set of rules, regulations and guidance. These help maximise access to an environment whilst minimising the burden placed on it and its users – this is true for every environmental domain on earth (maritime, land and air), and applies equally to space. Novel and innovative operations that break the traditional mould of launching into an orbit around our planet mean we need to evolve our regulatory environment.
We have recently launched a Consultation on Orbital Liabilities, Insurance, Charging and Space Sustainability. This looks at policy initiatives on liability, insurance and charging for licence fee applications which incentivise the adoption of more sustainable practices. The consultation also covers actions the UK is taking on sustainability, as well as looking at questions on longer-term sustainability to help inform thinking. This includes a proposal to develop a longer-term sustainability roadmap and work to develop a set of sustainability principles (the Earth∞Space Sustainability Initiative).
Space is global – there are no borders – so working together effectively at the national and international level is crucial to ensure coherence and alignment.
The primary, multilateral forum for international engagement is the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) which decides the future of global and commercial space regulation. The UK has an excellent reputation and plays a strong role at COPUOS, allowing us to drive forward the agenda on key issues relating to space and sustainability. The UK is also funding a number of initiatives through the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to promote understanding and adoption of the Long-Term Sustainability Guidelines, as well as wider capacity building on space regulation.
In the new era of space exploration, the UK is taking bold steps towards a cleaner, more sustainable future in space. These efforts promise a brighter and more secure space environment for generations to come. As we journey deeper into the cosmos, we must all embrace this opportunity for progress and innovation, ensuring a legacy of responsible space stewardship that will benefit future generations.
06 Oct 23. Saudi Arabia poised to become global player in space defence systems. The kingdom has become a top-eight defence spender as it eyes opportunities in the space sector. Saudi Arabia has become one of the top eight countries worldwide in global defence spending amid a push to position itself as an aerospace power on both a Middle Eastern and international level.
After the US, China, India, Russia and the UK, Saudi Arabia is the sixth largest defence spender worldwide, according to GlobalData’s Space Systems in Aerospace and Defence report.
This is part of the kingdom’s push to fortify its defence capabilities in a region rife with geopolitical tensions – and to establish a thriving, profitable military-industrial complex.
Space defence systems are expected to play a key role in this expansion. Nations have pricked their ears at announcements that the global space economy is forecasted to be worth $1trn by 2040. There lies considerable value in elements such as gold, platinum, iron and cobalt which can be retrieved from moon-orbiting asteroids.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia sent its first astronauts to the International Space Station on a vessel built and controlled by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. This included Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher, who became the first Saudi woman in space as part of the private Ax-2 mission.
The Saudi Space Agency
A Saudi presence at the International Space Station builds on the formal launch of the Saudi Space Agency in 2018.
Under the chairmanship of Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who became the first Arab to travel into space in 1985, the agency operates two Earth observation satellites: SaudiSats 5A and 5B. These are widely believed to conduct both civilian and military missions.
Saudi Arabia also has a majority share in the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation (Arabsat), which operates seven communications satellites. The report says Saudi Arabia intends to establish an independent space force branch in its military to protect its space assets going forward.
27 countries have operated military space systems. Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Iran, Qatar, and South Africa are among those boasting a sole indigenous defence satellite.
Saudi pushes for a military-industrial complex
Over the next five to ten years, the commercialisation of space will be one of the most impactful trends influencing military satellite systems, the report says.
There is a significant overlap between the commercial and defence space sectors, with “few firms operating as pure play in either sector”.
This overlap will be key as Saudi Arabia looks to establish its own military-industrial complex. Self-sufficiency has long been the focus of Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman’s ‘Vision 2030’, which aims to bolster its domestic defence industry, innovate satellite technology, and forge strategic alliances on the global stage.
Saudi’s defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP averaged 7.9% over 2019–23, one of the highest ratios in the world.
With such spending, Bin-Salman covets the geopolitical clout and weapons offered by an alliance with the US above all.
Access to the US’ drones, missiles, jets and nuclear weaponry was a leading factor in bringing Saudi Arabia to the table at landmark US-brokered negotiations to normalise relations between Riyadh and Middle Eastern rival Israel on 26 September. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Oct 23. CesiumAstro, SES, and Hughes Team Up to Demonstrate a Scalable Ka-Band Active Phased Array SATCOM Terminal. CesiumAstro, SES, and Hughes announced today the successful over-the-air (OTA) demonstration of a scalable Ka-band active phased array terminal for satellite communications (SATCOM).
Conducted by CesiumAstro throughout the months of June and July in Austin, Texas, the demonstration paired the company’s medium form factor terminal with the Hughes HM400 software-defined modem connecting through SES’s geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellite. This news is a key milestone on CesiumAstro’s roadmap to flight-qualify its Ka-band SATCOM terminal on commercial and defense platforms. CesiumAstro recently announced a contract to demo its terminal aboard a U.S. Air Force MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial system (UAS) in support of the military’s need for enhanced, higher throughput connectivity aboard airborne vehicles.
CesiumAstro’s SATCOM terminal seamlessly connected with SES’s satellite on both stationary and mobile platforms, demonstrating transmit and receive link closure to the satellite, and to a Hughes ground station in Woodbine, Maryland. The CesiumAstro team surfed the internet as well as streamed full-motion video and a live webcam feed from the terminal to a remote site, replicating the required capabilities of commercial inflight connectivity and UAS intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
“We appreciate SES and Hughes for their support on this OTA demonstration,” said Shey Sabripour, founder and CEO of CesiumAstro. “Flat-panel SATCOM with multi-beam and multi-orbit capabilities is game-changing in both the commercial and defense airborne terminal markets.”
“This demonstration showcased the functionality and maturation of the industry’s first multi-beam capability allowing utilization of the terminal’s electronically steerable beam to maintain connectivity on the move,” said Wayne Phelps, program lead at CesiumAstro. “We look forward to many more program successes over the next six months as our team completes our next set of demonstrations for this terminal.”
As previously announced, CesiumAstro will complete a flight demonstration with Airbus in early to mid-2024. The company is on schedule to deliver hardware for this demonstration in Q3 2023.
“The Hughes team is proud to join CesiumAstro and SES in demonstrating the power and flexibility of satellite connectivity in meeting mission requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager, Defense & Government Systems Division, Hughes. “This is an excellent example of how the Hughes Military air and ground system supports Beyond Line of Sight (BLoS), resilient communication and the implementation of Primary Alternate Contingency Emergency (PACE) plans.”
To learn more about CesiumAstro’s Ka-band SATCOM terminal, visit cesiumastro.com/SATCOM or reach out to .
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with offices in Broomfield, Colorado; El Segundo, California; and the United Kingdom; CesiumAstro builds high-throughput, software-defined phased array communications payloads for airborne and space platforms, including satellites, missiles, UASs, and more. CesiumAstro’s full-stack, multi-mission hardware and software solutions enable a range of commercial, civil, and defense objectives. CesiumAstro provides full in-house design, manufacturing, and testing capabilities based on the ISO AS9100 standard. To learn more, visit cesiumastro.com.
SES has a bold vision to deliver amazing experiences everywhere on earth by distributing the highest quality video content and providing seamless connectivity around the world. As the leader in global content connectivity solutions, SES operates the world’s only multi-orbit constellation of satellites with the unique combination of global coverage and high performance, including the commercially-proven, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b system. By leveraging a vast and intelligent, cloud-enabled network, SES is able to deliver high-quality connectivity solutions anywhere on land, at sea or in the air, and is a trusted partner to the world’s leading telecommunications companies, mobile network operators, governments, connectivity and cloud service providers, broadcasters, video platform operators and content owners. SES’s video network carries ~8,000 channels and has an unparalleled reach of 366 m households, delivering managed media services for both linear and non-linear content. The company is listed on Paris and Luxembourg stock exchanges. Further information is available at: www.ses.com.
Hughes Network Systems, LLC, an EchoStar (Nasdaq: SATS) company, provides broadband equipment and services; managed services featuring smart, software-defined networking; and end-to-end network operation for ms of consumers, businesses, governments and communities worldwide. The Hughes flagship internet service, HughesNet®, connects ms of people across the Americas, and the Hughes JUPITER™ System powers internet access for tens of ms more worldwide. Hughes supplies more than half the global satellite terminal market to leading satellite operators, in-flight service providers, mobile network operators and military customers. A managed network services provider, Hughes supports half a m enterprise sites with its HughesON™ portfolio of wired and wireless solutions. To learn more, visit http://www.hughes.com or follow HughesConnects on Twitter and LinkedIn. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
05 Oct 23. Northrop joins Starlab plan to replace ISS. Northrop Grumman is set to drop plans to develop its own commercial space station to instead collaborate on the Starlab project. The station, led by Voyager Space, is also supported by rival primes Lockheed Martin and Airbus.
Starlab has been in development for several years, with Voyager winning a contract from NASA for commercial low-Earth orbit (LEO) development in 2021, worth $160 m.
The contract is part of NASA’s plan to future-proof orbital space operations once the International Space Station is retired in 2030.
NASA plans to transition its space activities to using commercial space stations such as Starlab or Axiom Space’s planned space station.
On Wednesday, Voyager said it would work with Northrop to develop technology that would allow the prime’s Cygnus spacecraft to autonomously dock with Starlab, providing cargo services.
“Autonomous docking – the ability for two spacecraft to dock independently from human controllers – is a critical technology enabling complex in-orbit and deep space operations,” said Voyager Space in a statement.
“Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft will be utilised to deliver pressurised cargo to Starlab over an initial five-year period to support future human spaceflight missions.
“The Cygnus spacecraft has completed 19 missions, delivering over 138,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS.
“Cygnus has already demonstrated several advanced capabilities, including the ability to function as a laboratory while docked to ISS, deploy satellites, and reboost the station’s orbit.”
The Starlab space station is expected to include a docking node and bus, and an inflatable module that will be able to house up to four astronauts at one time.
It comes after Space Connect reported in January that Airbus would work with Voyager on Starlab, providing technical expertise in the design and support of the space station.
“This collaboration is an important step in making Starlab a reality, providing a foundation for long-lasting European and American leadership in space,” said Airbus’ executive vice president of space systems, Jean-Marc Nasr
His sentiments were echoed by Dylan Taylor, chairman and chief executive of Voyager Space, who released a statement regarding the partnership.
“Working with Airbus, we will expand Starlab’s ecosystem to serve the European Space Agency (ESA) and its member state space agencies to continue their microgravity research in LEO.” (Source: Space Connect)
04 Oct 23. Space Force seeks bids for next phase of national security launches. The Space Force is seeking bids for the next phase of national security launches, solidifying its push to diversify its pool of military launch service providers.
Space Systems Command, which executes the majority of the Space Force’s acquisition programs, announced the National Security Space Launch request for proposals Oct. 5.
“The resiliency and affordability of this approach will benefit our growing domestic launch industry and provide the capability, supply chain stability, capacity, and launch efficiency needed for our NSSL missions,” Col. Doug Pentecost, program executive officer for assured access to space, said in a statement. “This transformative strategy ensures our ability to secure our nation’s interests by creating a more resilient space architecture through proliferation, disaggregation, and orbital diversity.”
After years of relying only on United Launch Alliance to fly its satellites, the Space Force in 2020 opened its launch program to competition. That year, it chose SpaceX to launch 40% of its missions between fiscal 2022 and 2027 and ULA to launch the remaining 60%.
The ordering for those missions ends after fiscal 2024, and the Phase 3 solicitation will cover the program’s next bulk buy. The service issued multiple draft solicitations earlier this year and garnered feedback from companies before releasing the final RFP. In that document, the service pursues a two-lane approach to procuring launch services, a departure from its Phase 2 contract.
Lane 1 is for commercial-like missions and small launches and will have room for an unlimited number of companies who won’t have to meet all certification requirements. The strategy also will allow new providers to on-ramp to Lane 1 as they demonstrate rockets that meet the Space Force’s requirements.
Lane 2 is reserved for more demanding missions with more challenging requirements, similar to the current contract shared by ULA and SpaceX. While an early draft limited competition to two providers, a later version opened it to three companies and the final solicitation solidifies that approach.
“As we continue to drive speed in our acquisitions, NSSL Phase 3 is critical to our ability to put new space capabilities on orbit quickly,” Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration Frank Calvelli said in the statement. “I am extremely proud of the SSC team and the innovative work they have done to define a new dual-lane approach to launch, and the addition of a third launch service provider in Lane 2.”
The Space Force anticipates awarding contracts for Lane 1 next spring and Lane 2 next fall.
The Lane 2 landscape includes incumbents SpaceX and ULA as well as other companies developing launch vehicles that could be approved to fly national security missions in the coming years. That includes Blue Origin, owned by bnaire Jeff Bezos, whose New Glenn rocket is in the midst of the certification process. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Oct 23. Israel Aerospace Industries sells spy satellites to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s space agency, Azercosmos, acquired two multi-spectral electro-optical spy satellites from Israel Aerospace Industries as part of the Azersky-2 program.
The Azeri Agency and the Tel Aviv area-based company did not disclose the satellite model or value of the contract in announcing the deal, but both have previously said the agreement is worth about $120m, and Defense News learned that the model is the OptSat-500.
This is the first announced sale of this new model of the satellite, which is different from the OptSat-3000 supplied to the Israel Defense Forces.
The satellites will replace the Airbus satellite used by Baku, which was launched in 2014 and from which communication was cut off, and will be launched into orbit in 2026 and 2028. According to IAI, the new satellites are capable of taking pictures with a resolution of 50cm, have a lifespan of about 7 years, and Its price is about a third of the OptSat-3000.
The Azersky-2 program includes a long-term business partnership between the Israeli firm and the Azercosmos in the establishment of innovation, entrepreneurship, academic and study ecosystem in the field of space. The deal also brings Israel reconnaissance capabilities closer to the Iranian border that Azerbaijan shares.
Azerbaijan is one of the IAI’s and IDF’s largest customers, procuring weapons that played a key role in the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“This project is unique for both Azercosmos and Israel Aerospace Industries, and will undoubtedly contribute to the development of space cooperation between our countries,” Samaddin Asadov, Azercosmos’ chairman, said in a statement. “I consider our cooperation to be an important step in the development of human capital and space technologies in the country.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
iLAuNCH to develop radiation-proof coatings for satellites
04 Oct 23. The iLAuNCH research collaboration’s next project will see it try to develop light, radiation-proof coatings for LEO satellites.
The organisation hopes its work with start-up New Frontier Technologies will ultimately bring down the cost of launch, given payloads are usually billed per kilogram of weight by launch providers.
The $180m iLAuNCH trailblazer is a partnership between academic institutions and more than 20 industry partners aimed at accelerating the development of the space manufacturing sector.
On Tuesday, its executive director, Darin Lovett, said the new collaboration will develop protective coatings for carbon composite components that are deployed in space for long durations.
“We are developing world-class sovereign manufacturing capability that is cost competitive and utilises the latest advancements in materials – vital for realising the full potential of an Australian space manufacturing industry,” he said.
The coatings have to balance saving weight with being able to withstand a range of environmental hazards experienced in LEO, such as UV irradiation, atomic oxygen and space debris.
“These environmental hazards can cause surface erosion, cracking, and delamination of composite materials, which can lead to a reduction in the mechanical properties of the material and can compromise the structural integrity of the spacecraft,” said iLAuNCH.
“The project will leverage material research capacity in the Research School of Physics at the Australian National University; including nanomaterials fabrication and characterisation, x-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging, and space testing capability at the Australian Advanced Instrumentation Centre (AITC) at Mt. Stromlo.”
New Frontier Technologies CEO Paul Compston said, “The target applications are satellite structures such as struts, booms and reflectors.
“The primary aim of the project is the development and validation of carbon-fibre/thermoplastic composite structures for these applications with coatings that provide improved radiation shielding and resistance to atomic oxygen degradation.
“We will develop coating application methods that are compatible with our automated composites manufacturing technology to produce structures that are lightweight, to help to reduce launch costs, and have added protection once deployed in the harsh space environment.”
New Frontier Technologies is based in the Momentum Industry Hub, a start-up incubator at the Australian National University.
The business says it has access to some of the most advanced 3D scanning technology and simulation. (Source: Space Connect)
05 Oct 23. SPACE: THE HUMAN STORY By TIM PEAKE. PENGUIN CENTURY | 26TH OCTO.BER 2023 |HARDBACK | £22.00. The first human history of space travel – from the Apollo missions to our journey to Mars – by Britain’s beloved astronaut.
Only 628 people in human history have left Earth. In Space: The Human Story, astronaut Tim Peake traces the lives of these remarkable men and women who have forged the way, from Yuri Gagarin to Neil Armstrong, from Valentina Tereshkova to Peggy Whitson.
Full of exclusive new stories, and astonishing detail only an astronaut would know, the book conveys what space exploration is really like: the wondrous view of Earth, the surreal weightlessness, the extraordinary danger, the surprising humdrum, the unexpected humour, the newfound perspective, the years of training, the psychological pressures, the gruelling physical toll, the thrill of launch and the trepidation of re-entry. The book also examines the surprising, shocking and often poignant stories of astronauts back on Earth, whose lives are forever changed as they readjust to terra firma.
Publication of the book comes on the eve of NASA’s plans to return to the moon, fifty years after an astronaut last walked on the lunar surface. In 2024 the Artemis II mission will send four astronauts to orbit the moon. In 2025 Artemis III will send the first woman and the first person of colour to step on the lunar surface. What will separate these upcoming moonwalkers from the legendary Apollo crews? Does it still take a daring-do attitude, super-human fitness, intelligence, plus the ‘Right-stuff’ – a fabled grace under pressure? And how will astronauts travel even further – to Mars and beyond? Space: The Human Story reveals all.
Tim Peake was the first British ESA astronaut to visit the International Space Station. He is also a No.1 best-selling author and an inspirational communicator of science to audiences of all ages. A former Apache helicopter pilot, flight instructor and test pilot, Tim was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. After years of arduous training Tim was assigned to a mission to the International Space Station in May 2013. He launched to space on 15 December 2015. Tim was the first British astronaut to perform a spacewalk (EVA) and took part in over 250 scientific experiments during his mission. His Principia mission inspired the nation and focused on educational outreach, engaging more than 2 m schoolchildren across Europe in over 30 projects during his time in space. Tim was awarded a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II.
05 Oct 23. World-First in high resolution satellite thermal imaging defines new era of Climate Monitoring.
- SatVu receives world-first high resolution thermal imagery from recently launched thermal imaging satellite: HOTSAT-1
- Significant milestone as British company SatVu transitions into commercial operations
- Diverse range of applications highlight HOTSAT-1’s ability to revolutionise industries – providing actionable data for informed decision-making and sustainable practices to aid transition to Net Zero.
- First Light image details highlight the unprecedented potential of thermal infrared satellites as indispensable tools for monitoring urban heat stress, industrial energy waste and pollution, wildfires and other climate events, in near real-time.
SatVu, the pioneering British climate tech company today announces a significant achievement in space technology, releasing the First Light imagery from its revolutionary thermal imaging satellite, HOTSAT-1 at the same time as announcing their move into commercial operations.
This milestone is a major step forwards towards a new era in Earth observation and climate monitoring.
HOTSAT-1, named in homage to its cutting-edge thermal imaging capabilities, was launched into orbit in June aboard a SpaceX rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
SatVu are now releasing their First Light imagery and video – paving the way for a world-changing journey of data collection and analysis.
This represents a significant stride forward in SatVu’s mission to leverage space technology for climate and environmental insights as they launch commercial operations. As the first satellite in the planned constellation, HOTSAT-1 will provide invaluable and unique data enabling transformation in economic activities and energy efficiency, aligning seamlessly with global Net Zero goals and SDGs.
HOTSAT-1’s initial images provide unique insights and new data layers across various geographical locations.
- In Canada – the imagery reveals active fire fronts (in this case, as at July 28th, 2023) vividly depicted in orange, enabling emergency responders organisations to predict speed of progression and potential paths of impact.
o The smoky aftermath, portrayed in a light blue hue, showcases the scorched terrain left in the fires’ devastating wake.
o Unlike previous images typically collected by current satellites, SatVu’s imagery uniquely utilises high resolution thermal infrared wavelengths.
o This distinct perspective unveils a much higher resolution view of the area unobscured by smoke, which is impenetrable at visible wavelengths. This coupled with insight into course and speed derived from the video captured, means that firefighters can better manage the fire front safely by identifying and extinguishing small hidden fires. Moreover, the fact that SatVu’s images can also be captured during the night underscores the unprecedented potential of high resolution thermal infrared satellites as indispensable tools for global fire fighting activities.
o This visual account not only highlights the gravity of the situation but also serves as a catalyst for broader discussions on climate change, disaster response, and the urgent need for advanced monitoring technologies.
- In Chicago – images were captured with the potential to monitor rail logistics.
o The technology discerns locomotive thermal signatures and train speeds, offering crucial data for transportation and logistics optimisation.
o This independent verification of data is key when monitoring net zero targets and optimisation offers both energy and cost-saving value to customers.
- In Las Vegas – the high-resolution observations shed light on urban heat islands.
o This imagery delivers unprecedented access to heat island insights within local environmental planning.
o This information is invaluable as heat stress is having a catastrophic impact on populations globally and the urban heat island effect means we are currently wasting energy on excess cooling.
- In Cushing – the imagery highlights the benefits of industrial activity monitoring.
o This illustrates how SatVu’s technology can be used to monitor oil storage facilities and pipelines.
o This data will become invaluable for energy-related decision-making, providing unique insights on the operating capacity of facilities and offering the ability to ensure industrial regulations are being adhered to.
Anthony Baker, CEO and Co-founder, SatVu: “As we receive the First Light imagery from HOTSAT-1, we are thrilled to announce the transition of our thermal imaging satellite into commercial operation. This milestone not only reflects the dedication and hard work of our entire team but also underscores our commitment to using advanced technology for the betterment of our planet. HOTSAT-1’s ability to capture valuable thermal imagery with applications ranging from logistics optimisation to environmental planning and energy-related decision-making is truly groundbreaking. With this achievement, we move forward with renewed determination, working towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future, where space technology plays a pivotal role in shaping our world for the better.”
To date, SatVu has secured a total of £30.5 m ($37.9 m) in Venture Capital funding. With the satellite transitioning into its operational phase, SatVu’s focus has now shifted to converting Early Access Programme customers into revenue bookings, bringing novel datasets to market, and building a scalable organisational structure.
With the successful launch and start of commercial service complete, SatVu anticipates embarking on a Series B fundraising round in Q1 2024 to propel the growth of their satellite constellation, enabling high-frequency thermal monitoring at scale.
Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, Dr Paul Bate, commented: “Congratulations to SatVu. The successful receipt of First Light imagery from their thermal imaging satellite, HOTSAT-1, marks a milestone in the evolution of Earth observation and climate monitoring.
“This achievement highlights the remarkable capabilities of UK space technology and demonstrates the pivotal role that innovation can play in addressing global challenges. HOTSAT-1’s ability to provide actionable data across sectors will empower organisations with a clearer picture of our energy impact, so they can make better and more effective, climate-conscious choices to benefit both our planet and its people.”
These initial images demonstrate the incredible potential of HOTSAT-1 to provide detailed and actionable information across a range of critical industries. SatVu is eager to continue this journey of discovery and innovation as they work towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.
03 Oct 23. DoD Releases Space Policy Review and Strategy on Protection of Satellites. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently released to Congress a combined response to the Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA requirement for a Space Policy Review and the Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA requirement to make publicly available an unclassified strategy for the protection and defense of on-orbit assets. Informed by the 2022 National Defense Strategy and other Department- and national-level guidance, the response to Congress communicates the strategy of the Department of Defense to defend its national security interests in space from the growing scope and scale of counter-space threats by:
- Assuring critical space-based missions by accelerating the transition to more resilient architectures and by protecting and defending critical systems against counter-space threats;
- Strengthening the ability to detect and attribute hostile acts in, from, and to space; and
- Protecting the Joint Force from adversary hostile uses of space.
To do so, DoD will leverage a breadth of options across all operational domains to deter aggression and, if deterrence fails, to prevail in conflict. The unclassified report can be found here: https://media.defense.gov/2023/Sep/14/2003301146/-1/-1/0/COMPREHENSIVE-REPORT-FOR-RELEASE.PDF (Source: glstrade.com)
03 Oct 23. Iran satellite launch – FCDO Statement. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has released a statement in response to Iran launching the Noor-III satellite on 27 September. FCDO spokesperson said: “On 27 September Iran announced the successful launch of the Noor-III satellite using the Qased Space Launch Vehicle which uses technology essential for the development of a long-range ballistic missile system. Iran has taken this action despite repeated calls from the UN Security Council to halt its ballistic-missile programme. Iran’s actions further prove its disregard of international restrictions and highlight the grave threat posed by the regime to global security. Alongside partners, the UK remains committed to taking every diplomatic step to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to hold the regime to account for its malign activity around the world.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
03 Oct 23. U.S. Army Awards Comtech $48.6m for Next Generation EDIM SATCOM Solutions. Comtech (NASDAQ: CMTL) announced today the company was recently awarded a $48.6m contract to deliver Enterprise Digital Intermediate Frequency Multi-Carrier (EDIM) modems in support of U.S. Army satellite communications (SATCOM) digitization and modernization programs.
Under the contract, Comtech will design, develop, test, and deliver EDIM units and provide hardware, software, and sustainment services to support performance enhancements for EDIM solutions. Comtech’s EDIM modems are designed to support multiple satellite providers and will become one of the primary modems used for U.S. military SATCOM. Comtech’s EDIM modems will also replace the aging Enhanced Bandwidth Efficient Modem (EBEM) currently supporting Army, Navy, and Air Force SATCOM users with an advanced digital and software-defined platform.
“Our EDIM SATCOM modems are designed to enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to move to digitized, hybrid satellite network architectures-enabling warfighters to easily roam across orbital regimes and blend capabilities from traditionally disparate networks to maintain an information advantage in the world’s most challenging geographies,” said Ken Peterman, President and CEO, Comtech. “This strategic contract award further illustrates the trust of our DoD customers and Comtech’s ability to deliver innovative software-defined solutions that meet the mission demands of today and can easily adapt to meet the operational needs of the future. Our EDIM modems are designed to continuously evolve over time with the ability to introduce performance enhancements and new blended services that can reduce operator burden and significantly enhance all-domain mission effectiveness.”
Built on open architecture standards, Comtech’s EDIM solutions are designed to be easily integrated with other terrestrial and non-terrestrial communications systems to enabled unified hybrid network infrastructures that will bring forward a new era of blended, smart-enabled connectivity.
Comtech’s portfolio of defense technologies and services, including those provided under this contract, are uniquely designed to align with Space Force Enterprise SATCOM vision and deliver capabilities that will enhance Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control operations. Comtech’s expansive portfolio of defense and security technologies is designed to continuously evolve over time to enable digitalized SATCOM ground network infrastructures; introduce 5G, 5G advanced and 6G capabilities; and integrate Comtech’s proven Dynamic Cloud Platform services across blended terrestrial, non-terrestrial, military and commercial networks to significantly enhance mission effectiveness in future all-domain operations.
03 Oct 23. USAF Research Lab awards design contracts for nuclear powered spacecraft. Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin and Westinghouse Government Services won contracts from the Air Force Research Laboratory to advance technologies for nuclear powered space vehicles.
The project is part of an AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate program called Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-orbit Nuclear Power, or JETSON.
The goal of the project is to advance nuclear fission technology to produce small power reactors for space vehicles. AFRL is seeking a reliable and constant source of electricity for satellites.
The contracts were announced Sept. 29.
Intuitive Machines, a startup based in Houston that specializes in space infrastructure, received a $9.4m contract to design a spacecraft concept that employs compact radioisotope power system, electric or hybrid propulsion.
Westinghouse Government Services, based in Hopkins, South Carolina, won a $16.9m contract to “mature relevant technologies, conduct analyses, trade studies, and explore risk reduction strategies to investigate how a high power, nuclear fission-system could be implemented from a subsystem, spacecraft, and architecture standpoint.”
Lockheed Martin Space, based in Denver, was awarded a $33.7m contract “to mature the technical design of the JETSON spacecraft systems and subsystems to a preliminary design review level of maturity, and to fully develop the overall program development and test program planning through critical design review.”
All three contracts extend through December 2025.
The three vendors were selected by NASA in June 2022 for phase 1 studies of fission surface power systems, small nuclear reactors intended to support later phases of the Artemis lunar exploration campaign. Each team received $5m for initial design studies. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Space News)
02 Oct 23. Planet Nine confirms multiple SD Plane Simple Ku-band® terminals as Satcom Direct becomes preferred connectivity supplier. Planet Nine Private Air has selected Satcom Direct, the business aviation solutions provider, as its preferred connectivity supplier. The Van Nuys, California-headquartered operator has acquired multiple Plane Simple Ku-band terminals to upgrade its fleet over a three-year period, with its Bombardier Global Express airframes already being equipped with the advanced connectivity solution.
Installation of the SD Plane Simple® Ku-band terminals, which have been purpose-built for the business aviation sector, will give Planet Nine passengers and customers access to the Intelsat FlexExec network, the only dedicated business aviation airtime on the market. In addition, the SD FlightDeck® Freedom datalink service will be added to the cockpit. Passengers will benefit from improved productivity, enhanced entertainment and increased data speeds powered by the consistent high-speed broadband. At the same time, the crew will optimize the power of FDF flight tracking, automated real-time information about hazardous weather, geo-notifications, security events and other critical flight path data for improved situational awareness. The agreement also includes award-winning 24/7/365 global customer support, multilingual services, cybersecurity solutions and access to certified connectivity training.
Activations of the first Plane Simple Ku-band terminals and FlightDeck Freedom services are already underway or scheduled for five of the Planet Nine aircraft. The first two Bombardier Global Express have already been redelivered with the Plane Simple Ku-band terminals installed and activated. A third Global Express is imminent, with a further two aircraft being equipped with the advanced connectivity technology before the end of the year.
“Planet Nine exemplifies how retrofitting our Plane Simple antennas can breathe new life into an airframe. These aircraft are designed to last for more than three decades, yet the technology is changing on a daily basis. We have designed agnostic systems that future-proof aircraft, and we know this ability to continuously update the connectivity offering was a major factor in Planet Nine’s decision to engage our services, products, and support capabilities,” says Michael Skou Christensen, chief commercial officer for Satcom Direct. “The addition of our hardware and the Intelsat FlexExec service will deliver an impressive new suite of reliable connectivity options to Planet Nine’s elite customers worldwide.”
The mixed fleet of thirty-two airframes features predominantly large cabin aircraft, including Bombardier Global types, Gulfstream models, and Dassault Falcon airframes.
“Our clients expect cutting-edge aircraft, comfort, safety, and best-in-class customer experience as we deliver distinctive service to discerning clients. Passengers expect broadband connectivity as standard, and we have chosen a solution that definitively differentiates our business. Adding services that have been innovated by aviators for aviators and purpose-built for business aviation users elevates our offering to a whole new level. Selecting the right partner to offer consistent, reliable, global connectivity from a single resource that also delivers outstanding customer service adds real value to our offering and to our customer experience,” says Matt Walter, co-founder Planet Nine.
29 Sep 23. US Army taps DRS, Intelsat for pioneering SATCOM service pilot. “It will provide commercial SATCOM subscription services, which include SATCOM coverage in different locations, terminals, bandwidth, training if required by the unit and help desk services,” Paul Mehney, public communications director for Army PEO C3T, told Breaking Defense.The Army has contracted DRS Global Solutions and Intelsat for its long-awaited pilot program for acquiring satellite communications services — that is, buying access in the same way that individuals subscribe to a mobile phone plan.
“This is a blanket purchase agreement with an approximate $3.6 m ceiling for each of the two vendors,” Paul Mehney, director of public communications for the Army’s Program Executive Office, Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), told Breaking Defense.
“It will provide commercial SATCOM subscription services, which include SATCOM coverage in different locations, terminals, bandwidth, training if required by the unit and help desk services. The goal of this pilot is to establish a managed subscription service (marketplace) that encompasses SATCOM capabilities that are currently being used in private industry. The ‘marketplace’ in essence entails a contractual vehicle for which funding can be placed to order within the scope capabilities for a period of 12 months,” he explained.
The Satellite Communications (SATCOM) as a Managed Service (SaaMS) pilot is intended to “inform decisions on the Army’s potential use of commercially leased SATCOM network services that would be flexible and tailorable to changing mission needs, versus procuring, fielding, sustaining and modernizing the equipment in house,” the Army said in an announcement today. The actual contract was awarded on Tuesday.
“A SaaMS business model could more efficiently support Soldiers in diverse locations with diverse mission challenges during large scale combat operations,” said Col. Stuart McMillan, project manager for PEO C3T’s Tactical Network, in the announcement. “A SaaMS business model could also provide for rapid tech insertions and opportunities to mitigate surge requirements.”
Mehney said that pilot is expected to start in the first quarter of fiscal year 2024 in several regions around the globe. If successful, he added, the Army intends “to open up to a multi-vendor approach so vendors that may not be part of this pilot will have an additional opportunity to compete.”
“SaaMS would not be a one-size-fits-all model,” he added, rather one that could be tailored to a “wide variety of different missions and threats.”
Further, Mehney explained, the Army doesn’t intend to hold only one event to evaluate the pilot’s success, rather “to enable operational units to use the capability to best suit their needs and roll it into their existing training events” that each will provide feedback.
Commercial SATCOM providers have long urged DoD and the services to move from buying bandwidth in fits and starts to service contracts. Major SATCOM providers — such as Hughes (a subsidiary of SATCOM giant Echostar), Viasat, Intelsat, Inmarsat, SES and Eutelsat — have argued that this would not only ease problems with service gaps that have long plagued troops in the field, but also be cheaper and allow speedier integration of new technology.
The Space Force — led by Space Systems Command’s new(ish) Commercial Space Office (COMSO), and the Space Warfighting Analysis Center — has been working to shift its acquisition strategy toward greater reliance on commercial solutions, in particular the use of SaaMS.
COMSO’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office has long bought SATCOM services from Iridium, and has served as a middleman between other SATCOM providers and military users via the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), with funds coming the Defense Working Capital Fund. And in July, the office worked with DISA to grant its first-ever contracts for communications services from proliferated low Earth orbit satellites to 16 providers. The five-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts guarantee each vendor a minimum of $2,000, and puts them in the running for future task orders. The winners included DRS and Intelsat, as well as ARINC, Artel, Capella Federal, BlackSky Geospatial Solutions, Hughes Network Systems, Inmarsat Government, KGS, OneWeb Technologies, PAR Government, RiteNet Corporation, Satcom Direct Government (SDG), SpaceX, Trace Systems, and UltiSat.
Further, the Pentagon has two separate top-level strategies underway to look at how to spur commercial space integration: one spearheaded by Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman and Air Force Assistant Secretary for Space Acquisition and Integration Frank Calvelli, the other by the Defense Department’s Space Policy czar John Plumb. So far, however, the Space Force has been slow to shift significant funding to the use of commercial satellite services.
The Army effort thus is being watched keenly by commercial SATCOM firms, along with a similar pilot being run by the Marine Corps.
Interestingly, while the Marine Corps is going alone on its pilot, the Army chose to go through COMSO to arrange contracting via the the existing Commercial Satellite Communications (COMSATCOM) Subscription Services contract currently managed by DISA and the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization. COMSO, however, is due to take over such contracting authority. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense.com)
02 Oct 23. Iran Says it Successfully Launched Imaging Satellite Amid Tensions with West. Iran claimed on Wednesday it successfully launched an imaging satellite into space, a move that could further ratchet up tensions with Western nations that fear its space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Iranian Communication Minister Isa Zarepour said the Noor-3 satellite had been put in an orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above Earth’s surface, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. It was not clear when the launch took place.
There was no immediate acknowledgment from Western officials of the launch or of the satellite being put into orbit. The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iran has had a series of failed launches in recent years.
The most recent launch was carried out by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has had more success. Gen. Hossein Salami, the top commander of the Guard, told state TV that the launch had been a “victory” and that the satellite will collect data and images.
Authorities released footage of a rocket taking off from a mobile launcher without saying where the launch occurred. Details in the video corresponded with a Guard base near Shahroud, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) northeast of the capital, Tehran. The base is in Semnan province, which hosts the Imam Khomeini Spaceport from which Iran’s civilian space program operates.
The Guard operates its own space program and military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces and answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It launched its first satellite into space in April 2020. But the head of the U.S. Space Command later dismissed it as a “tumbling webcam in space” that would not provide vital intelligence. Western sanctions bar Iran from importing advanced spying technology.
The United States has alleged that Iran’s satellite launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution and has called on Tehran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The U.S. intelligence community’s 2022 threat assessment claims the development of satellite launch vehicles “shortens the timeline” for Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile because it uses similar technology.
Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons and says its space program, like its nuclear activities, is for purely civilian purposes. U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, say Iran abandoned an organized military nuclear program in 2003.
Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space. The program has seen recent troubles, however. There have been five failed launches in a row for the Simorgh program, another satellite-carrying rocket.
A fire at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in February 2019 killed three researchers, authorities said at the time. A launchpad rocket explosion later that year drew the attention of then-President Donald Trump, who taunted Iran with a tweet showing what appeared to be a U.S. surveillance photo of the site.
Tensions are already high with Western nations over Iran’s nuclear program, which has steadily advanced since Trump five years ago withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers and restored crippling sanctions on Iran.
Efforts to revive the agreement reached an impasse more than a year ago. Since then, the IAEA has said Iran has enough uranium enriched to near-weapons grade levels to build “several” nuclear weapons if it chooses to do so. Iran is also building a new underground nuclear facility that would likely be impervious to U.S. or Israeli airstrikes. Both countries have said they would take military action if necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Iran has expressed willingness to return to the 2015 nuclear deal but says the U.S. should first ease the sanctions. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Voice of America News)
25 Sep 23. Monday morning’s successful launch from California of SpaceX’s 21 Starlink smallsats. A success once again today, Monday, September 25 at 1:48 a.m. PT, Falcon 9 launched 21 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This launch in California was just two days after the successful Starlink sendoff in Florida.
This was the sixth flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched SDA-0A and now five Starlink missions.
The Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth safely, landing on a SpaceX drone ship at sea about 8.5 minutes after launch.
It was the sixth liftoff and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage, according to a SpaceX mission description.
Starlink is SpaceX’s internet megaconstellation that has more than 4,750 operational satellites in LEO, and more to come soon.
SpaceX is targeting Monday, September 25 at 1:48 a.m. PT (08:48 UTC) for a Falcon 9 launch of 21 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. If needed, four backup opportunities are available starting at 2:03 a.m. PT (09:03 UTC) until 4:04 a.m. PT (11:04 UTC). Six backup opportunities are also currently available starting on Monday, September 25 at 11:59 p.m. PT (06:59 UTC on September 26) until 3:42 a.m. PT (10:42 UTC) on September 26.
This is the sixth flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched SDA-0A and four Starlink missions. Following stage separation, the first stage will land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean. (Source: Satnews)
25 Sep 23. Space System Command (SSC) opens new TAP Lab for Space Domain Awareness (SDA) innovation. Noting that “current space domain awareness systems are stove-piped and disaggregated,” a September 2023 Department of Defense (DoD) report on space policy and strategy calls for integrating space domain awareness systems to fully leverage data from DoD, other U.S. Government agencies, and international and commercial partners.
Modeled after SSC’s highly successful missile warning TAP Lab in Boulder, which is focused on battlespace awareness and missile detection, tracking and warning, the Colorado Springs TAP Lab was stood up within two months of Lt. Gen. Mike Guetlein’s (SSC Commander) May 2023 directive.
The collaborative working space is designed to advance space domain awareness by rapidly onboarding “apps to close gaps,” decomposing kill chains into atomic parts, prioritizing needs with operators, mapping needs to technologies, and enabling on-boarding onto existing platforms in order to quickly integrate solutions into operations.
The Lab is currently partnering with MITRE, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Aerospace, and the Supra Coder program to provide foundational services, data and code sharing solutions to speed innovation within government and ease the integration of commercial technology.
The Lab’s primary customers are subordinate units of DEL 2, the U.S. Space Force’s Space Domain Awareness Delta, including the 18th Space Defense Squadron, 18th SDS Detachment 1, and 19th SDS.
Through Project Apollo, the new TAP Lab will facilitate three-month innovation cycles with external partners up to four times per year. The first cohort, expected to start on October 26th, will focus on one (or more) of three specific challenge statements: maintain custody of launches within minutes and predict intermediate and final orbits; classify, ID and evaluate space objects within seconds; and/or provide semi-automated, real-time, data-centric decision aids for an Operation C2 center. (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 23. AccelerComm, Radisys, RFDSP + TTP partnership to deliver high-performance space-based cell service on LEO satellites. This partnership combines expertise and IP from these companies, together with additional technology from partners, to propose a 5G regenerative gNodeB solution that is tailored to support high-performance 5G services in the challenging environment of a Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN).
In a typical LEO deployment, a constellation of fast-moving satellites covers a wide geographical area using a large number of beams per satellite to cover a multitude of subscribers. The 5G Regenerative NTN solution includes Option-2 split gNB with a distributed unit (DU) on the satellite payload with a ground-based, centralized unit (CU) and 5GC.
The solution handles unique regenerative NTN-specific requirements of extremely high mobility with frequency re-association between the DU, GW and CU serving a region and large-sized cells spanning multiple countries requiring country-specific CN routing. Moreover, any gNodeB platform for space applications will be highly constrained in size, weight, and power, and must be able to work in a hostile space environment.
The joint, LEO Regenerative reference solution will be designed to meet the growing demand for satellite-based eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband) and IoT (Internet of Things) services. This makes it an ideal solution for businesses and organizations that need to connect people and devices in remote locations, or for governments looking to provide internet access to all citizens.
The solution will support a large number of beams and high subscriber density and will be delivered on a space-hardened platform optimized for low power and size. It includes a range of advanced developments in the areas of beam-to-cell mapping, beam forming, NTN beam management and well-defined interfaces to SATCOM infrastructure.
The O-RAN compliant gNodeB leverages Radisys’ split, NTN-capable CU, DU software with AccelerComm’s LEOphy and RFDSP’s Low-Phy, a Layer 1 modem that delivers enhanced performance for LEO satellite communications combined with TTP’s DFE and Beam Scheduler. Radisys’ CU/DU supports optimized mechanisms for handling signaling load due to high mobility, along with a power-optimized scalable software that manages the varying system requirements of beams and users.
LEOphy boasts the lowest error rates, with dedicated features to overcome the specific challenges of NTN channels, such as high path losses, differential delays, Doppler shift, long propagation delays, and rapid fluctuations in signal amplitude and phase caused by atmospheric effects. As a result, it ensures a high-reliability link without having to resort to lower coding rates and low-order modulation schemes, thereby maximizing spectral efficiency.
TTP’s DFE supports Crest Factor Reduction (CFR) to improve the efficiency of the RF power amplifier and its Beam Scheduler enables optimized beam hopping and switching functionality to maximize network capacity based on real-time traffic demands.
The 5G Regenerative gNodeB is combined for an end-to-end, NTN solution, with Radisys’ 5GC, available on Kubernetes container platform and small form-factor x86, ARM, and which can handle both NR-NTN and IoT devices.
“Deploying 5G gNodeB on a LEO satellite payload, brings a unique set of challenges for satellites passing over at extremely high speeds, including large cell coverage optimization, high doppler handling and users’ mobility. With onboard regenerative deployments, the complexities compound. Onboard power and resource constraints require low compute, storage footprint CU, DU software and performance-efficient beam hopping that goes beyond 3GPP specifications. Radisys is excited to partner with AccelerComm, RFDSP and TTP to define and develop an NTN solution addressing the regenerative gNodeB challenges and enable their customers to deploy LEO constellation satellite services.” — Munish Chhabra, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Software and Services, Radisys
“There has been an explosion in interest around combining satellite and traditional mobile communications systems. However, for satellite 5G to be truly successful there are a number of performance and efficiency challenges which have to be overcome. Solving these requires building on the existing 3GPP technologies to create a tailored solution built to deal with the unique challenges of operating around a thousand kilometres from Earth at speeds of over 7km per second, all while dealing with power and resource constraints. We are delighted to be working with our partners Radisys, RFDSP and TTP to develop this high-performance solution which will open-up a whole new market for delivering 5G services from space.” — Rob Barnes, Chief Marketing Officer, AccelerComm
“A 5G NTN LEO regenerative gNodeB deployment presents unique challenges when compared to Terrestrial gNodeB. In order to serve the number of beams and support the density of subscribers required, the gNodeB will have to be heavily optimised and tightly integrated with the overall payload functionality.TTP is pleased to partner with AccelerComm, RFDSP and Radisys to define a highly scalable and low power gNodeB solution, that will enable LEO operators to efficiently deliver 5G NTN services.” — Peter Kibutu, TTP’s Advanced Technology Lead NTN
“Recognizing the growing demand for 5G physical layers for non-terrestrial applications and their unique requirements, based on our conformance-tested 5G NR low PHY for terrestrial networks, we built a fully-featured 5G low PHY solution for NTN including a unified interface with high PHY for both options 6 and 7.2x, Doppler shift compensation, digital front-end design, beamforming, and control of multiple simultaneous beams for maximal spectral efficiency. We are happy to be a part of the 5G NTN ecosystem.” — Prof. Ping Liang, founder and CEO, RF DSP Inc. (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 23. IoT + NTN mobile technologies are propelling a billion dollar satellite service market. ABI Research’s recently published white paper explores the ascending satellite Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) market. According to the company, there will be more than 175m NTN mobile connections worldwide by 2030, according to The Ascending Satellite NTN Market, the latest whitepaper from ABI Research.
The growing adoption of satellite services in the communication sector is driven by the deployment of satellite constellations for low-latency, high-throughput network applications and extending terrestrial network coverage. By the decade’s end, these shifts will translate to $124.6 bn in annual satellite services revenue.
The Third Generation Partnership Project‘s (3GPP) initiative is having a profound impact on the SATCOM industry, with a wave of notable satellite operators looking to take advantage of the market opportunity being created by the convergence of satellite communications and terrestrial cellular networks.
On the other side of the coin, smartphone manufacturers and chipset makers are making moves that highlight excitement for consumer-grade devices supporting satellite communications via Narrowband (NB)-NTN, NTN unmodified, and eventually, 5G New Radio (NR)-NTN.
“Satellite communications services have seen a new wave of enthusiasm and convergence with terrestrial networks looking to extend past their coverage zones and bridge the digital divide. We are witnessing a growing trend of operators leveraging software-defined satellites and multi-orbit solutions to meet the connectivity demands of the future.” — Andrew Cavalier, Satellite Communications Industry Analyst, ABI Research.
“Much of this growth is thanks to the smaller form factor of satellites, as well as reduced launch costs by 98 percent, thanks to reusable rockets by SpaceX, and better economies of scale thanks to standardized satellite bus and payload design. All these developments make it more affordable to launch satellites into orbit and offer SatCom services to a wider audience, driving further market developments.” — Jake Saunders, Vice President, Asia Pacific, ABI Research. (Source: Satnews)
29 Sep 23. L3Harris breaks barriers in secure SATCOM with HAAM-R Modem at Northern Edge. L3Harris Technologies showcases its Protected Tactical Waveform-enabled HAAM-R modem, enhancing secure SATCOM connectivity in contested environments.
L3Harris Technologies, a name in communication solutions, showcased its Protected Tactical Waveform-enabled Half Airborne Transport Rack (ATR) Airborne Modem – Resilient (HAAM-R) during the US Indo-Pacific Command’s Northern Edge 2023 exercise.
During the exercise, L3Harris presented its Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW)-enabled HAAM-R modem hosted on a Honeywell-owned Boeing 757. This modem’s demonstration highlighted its ability to maintain secure warfighter SATCOM connectivity in contested environments, reinforcing its role in national defence.
Brendan O’Connell, President of broadband communications at L3Harris, expressed his enthusiasm for the company’s capabilities, stating, “Our capabilities provide warfighters long-range, higher-bandwidth communication in the presence of jamming across all domains.
This resilient modem is just one of the many PTW-enabled communication products L3Harris is developing to provide enhanced security and real-time communications for the warfighter.”
The culmination of years of advanced communications engineering and testing, this waveform demonstration represents an advancement in long-range fire solutions for the US military.
The PTW mission capability enhances warfighter connectivity within the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System but also bolsters the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control enterprise, further strengthening international partnerships.
HAAM-R is a key component of L3Harris’ portfolio of solutions designed to meet the demands of multi-domain and coalition operations. It is adaptable to various platforms, including fighter jets, bombers, mobility units, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, and specialty-mission platforms.
L3Harris developed HAAM-R under a contract with the US Air Force’s Aerial Networks Division at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
In a rapidly evolving landscape where secure and resilient communication is paramount, having the tools and technology needed to ensure warfighters remain connected and informed is becoming more important, regardless of their challenges. In other Northern Edge 2023 business developments, General Atomics Aeronautical’s SeaGuardian unmanned aircraft system also supported the exercise, and Northrop Grumman‘s MQ-4C Triton demonstrated its targeting capability during the training. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
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.