Sponsored By Viasat
02 Oct 18. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced it has made new security capabilities available for U.S. and international Five Eyes (FVEY) naval forces. Viasat introduced its integrated Mobile Dynamic Defense (MDD) cybersecurity software for use at sea to securely capture and distribute sensitive data to onshore counterparts, and defend against rapidly evolving cyber threats during a maritime mission. MDD is highly valuable for maritime platforms because of its ability to provide the necessary policy enforcement and in-mission configuration flexibility without a connection to a remote management system by using the information assurance “Defense in Depth” model, which weaves together multiple layers of security controls and countermeasures. This model enables the Viasat MDD platform to ensure sensitive information hosted on the end user device (EUD) is continually checked and protected from compromise – even if the EUD is disconnected from the military operations center.
“Hackers are increasingly looking to compromise mobile devices as a way to gain access to classified government and military data,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “By providing Viasat’s MDD software, naval personnel now have the ability to provision and configure devices as a mission changes—which can help secure highly-sensitive mission information and defend against emerging cyber threats—even at sea.”
MDD software is an integral component of Viasat’s comprehensive cybersecurity platform, which analyzes terabits of data across commercial and government networks on a daily basis to defend against some of the world’s most sophisticated cyber threats. Viasat currently offers secure, high-speed and resilient SATCOM-enabled services via its Hybrid Adaptive Network concept for a range of U.S. and FVEY military operations.
Viasat’s MDD security capabilities are now authorized for purchase by naval and maritime customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
05 Oct 18. US Air Force looks for help on new, hard-to-jam, satellite waveform. In the face of a rising near-peer threat to electronic communications, the Air Force is pressing forward with efforts to develop a new, more resilient, harder-to-jam waveform that soldiers could use on the battlefield.
The service expects to receive responses from industry soon on a recent request for information around protected satellite communications. The request sought industry guidance on how best to implement a new, more resilient protected tactical waveform (PTW), which enables anti-jamming capabilities within protected tactical SATCOM.
“The Air Force is looking to protect our warfighter’s satellite communications against adversarial electronic jamming,” the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) said in a written statement to C4ISRNet.
The threat comes from “adversarial electronic jammers that are intended to disrupt and interfere with U.S. satellite communications,” leaders at SMC said. Protected tactical SATCOM is envisioned to provide worldwide, anti-jam communications to tactical warfighters in benign and contested environments.
The quest to solidify satellite communication links has taken on increasing urgency in recent years. As satellite communications has emerged as an integral component in the military’s command and control infrastructure, potential adversaries have stepped up their ability to disrupt such links.
“Tactical satellite communications are vital to worldwide military operations,” the agency noted. “Our adversaries know this and desire to disrupt U.S. satellite communications. The Air Force is fielding Protected Tactical SATCOM capabilities to … ensure warfighters around the globe have access to secure and reliable communications.”
Industry is excepted to play a key role in the development and deployment of any new waveform. Officials at SMC said that early prototyping efforts will be conducted through the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), which is managed by Advanced Technology International. SpEC acts as a vehicle to facilitate federally-funded space-related prototype projects with an eye toward increasing flexibility, decreasing cost and shortening the development lifecycle. The organization claims 16 prototype awards to date, with some $26m in funding awarded.
Understanding the protected tactical waveform
Government documents describe PTW as the centerpiece of the broader protected tactical SATCOM effort, noting that it provides “cost-effective, protected communications over both military and commercial satellites in multiple frequency bands as well as broader protection, more resiliency, more throughput and more efficient utilization of satellite bandwidth.”
A flight test last year at Hansom Air Force Base suggested the emerging tool may soon be ready to deliver on such promises.
While SMC leads the PTW effort, Hanscom is working in collaboration with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the MITRE Corp. to conduct ground and airborne terminal work.
Researchers from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory flew a Boeing 707 test aircraft for two and a half hours in order to use the waveform in flight. With a commercial satellite, officials gathered data on the PTW’s ability to operate under realistic flight conditions. “We know this capability is something that would help our warfighters tremendously, as it will not only provide anti-jam communications, but also a low probability of detection and intercept,” Bill Lyons, Advanced Development program manager and PTW lead at Hanscom, said in an Air Force news release.
The test scenario called for the waveform to perform in an aircraft-mounted terminal. Evaluators were looking to see whether its systems and algorithms would function as expected in a highly mobile environment.
“Everything worked and we got the objectives accomplished successfully,” Ken Hetling, Advanced Satcom Systems and Operations associate group leader at Lincoln Laboratory, said in an Air Force press release. “The waveform worked.”
Asking for industry input should help the service to chart its next steps in the development of more protections. While the request does not specify when or how the Air Force intends to move forward, it is clearly a matter not of whether the military will go down this road, but rather when and how. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Oct 18. Investing in Australia’s satellite capabilities. The Australian Space Agency has signed a statement of strategic intent with Sitael Australia, a designer and manufacturer of satellites. The agency supports the long-term development and application of space technologies, growing Australia’s domestic space industry and securing our place in the global space economy. Sitael Australia is a subsidiary of Sitael S.p.A, the largest privately-owned space company in Italy.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews welcomed the signing, which occurred during the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany yesterday, saying, “This signing will further drive Australia’s position in the global space race and assist in growing our share of the world’s space economy, estimated to be worth around US$345bn.”
The statement of strategic intent is confirmation of Sitael’s support of Australia’s capability for developing small satellites, investment in operations, ground stations and R&D, Minister Andrews explained.
Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark AC, said Sitael was committed to the Australian space industry and the broader use of space across a wide range of sectors of the economy.
“This initiative aims to solve communications challenges that will provide enhanced connectivity, navigation improvements and monitoring of our country and its resources,” Dr Clark said.
The Commonwealth government has committed $41 m to establish the Australian Space Agency and is investing more than $260m to grow Australia’s space satellite infrastructure.
This is part of the government’s investment of around $2.4bn to grow our space sector, and research, science and technology capabilities.
Sitael Australia opened a new branch in Adelaide in June 2018, becoming one of the leading local companies in the design and manufacture of satellites of up to 300 kilograms.
Sitael signed a letter of intent with SA company Inovor Technologies at last year’s International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, for the purposes of developing joint technological and commercial activities.
The global space industry is now worth $420bn per annum and growing by 10 per cent each year, and is forecast to be worth more than US$1trn by 2040. Currently, Australia’s space industry is estimated to be worth $3.94bn a year. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Oct 18. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has selected Raytheon and a Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace team to compete as potential mission payload providers for the U.S. Air Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geosynchronous (GEO) Block 0 missile warning satellite system. This payload competition between Raytheon and Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace will be executed as part of the Phase 1 contract for the Air Force’s Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites. The competition includes development scope through the Critical Design Review (CDR) phase. As part of a program heralded by the Air Force as a pacesetter for “Go Fast” acquisition, Lockheed Martin selected the two suppliers on September 28 — just 45 days after the company’s own prime contractor award. The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin the contract for rapid development of the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system on August 14. The Raytheon and Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace teams were selected due to their ability to meet stringent schedule and capability requirements. They are now tasked to develop detailed designs and compete their solutions for potential use on the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites. A final down-select is expected at the end of the CDR phase in 2020. Next Gen OPIR is a new missile warning satellite system acquisition program that will deliver advanced capabilities to keep pace with adversary advancements. It will succeed the Space Based Infrared System by providing improved missile warning capabilities that are more survivable and resilient against emerging threats. The Air Force implemented Next Gen OPIR as a rapid acquisition program with Lockheed Martin targeting the first GEO satellite delivery in 60 months.
“Next Gen OPIR is a very important program for our nation, with a challenging schedule, and set of technical and resiliency requirements, different than prior programs,” said Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for OPIR systems. “We recognize that this is a watershed program for the Air Force, and we understand the need to ‘Go Fast’ to ensure our national security posture stays ahead of emerging global threats.”
Lockheed Martin is working with the Air Force on a variety of initiatives to increase the speed of satellite acquisition, including introducing more commonality of parts and procedures into production, building predictability into schedules and supply chain orders, and incorporating additive manufacturing.
03 Oct 18. Israel Plans Anti-Missile Nano Satellite Constellation. Israel is planning constellations of nano satellites, built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), that will allow almost continuous coverage of “areas of interest,” which are likely to include Iran, Syria, Lebanon and other countries, according to experts that are not connected in any way to the program. IAI refused to comment. The first nano satellite was developed by IAI and was launched into space in 2017 as part of a scientific experiment. The 5-kilogram satellite — approximately the size of a milk carton — is equipped with special cameras able to identify various climatic phenomena, and a monitoring system that allows the choice of areas to be imaged and researched.
”We are developing the capability to launch a constellation of Nano satellites. The large number of satellites will give us the capability for a much higher rate of revisits, and actually a continuous monitoring of areas of interest.” says Opher Doron, general manager of IAI’s Space Division.
The nano satellites optical payloads are smaller and the quality of their optical payloads is lower. ”But by using a temporal resolution method this problem is dealt with in a very effective way,” Doron claims. “This method is not directly related to the quality of the sensor but is based on the frequency of revisits over a site.“
The other problem with smaller satellites is color. “Resolution is, of course, very important but we also work on improving the color quality of the images, Doron said. “A good intelligence expert does not need color to extract, the needed intelligence from a satellite image, but when it comes to decision-makers, color is of great importance.”
What underpins all this? It takes a ballistic missile 12 to 15 minutes to travel from Iran to Israel. The earlier a launch is detected and the earlier the trajectory of the missile can be plotted, the better the chances to intercept it far from its designated target.
Today, low orbit Ofeq spy satellites visit “areas of interest” in wide intervals so their optical or radar payloads cannot keep a persistent watch. When it comes to the ballistic missile threat, this is a major problem. Israeli sources say that some 30 minutes are needed from the command to prepare a ballistic missile for launch until it is ready for launch, and this if the protection silos are well equipped. If the enemy is aware of the “visiting” time of the spy satellites over his territory this can be the perfect time to avoid detection of the preparations until the launch itself.
Once launch occurs, Israel is supposed to get warnings from Lockheed Martin’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS),the US constellation of geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites. The U.S also deploys an X-band radar system in southern Israel to improve detection of ballistic missiles. This complements the layer supplied by the Green Pine radar, part of the Israeli Arrow missile interceptors.
The first nano satellite was launched from India on the PSLV-C37 launcher with 103 other nano satellites. The plan to build and launch nano satellites first emerged a decade ago. A joint company of IAI and Rafael would undertake the mission. But that plan was deserted.
Yizhak Ben Israel, chairman of the Israeli space agency, served in the Israeli air force and later was in charge of developing Israel’s most advanced and classified military systems at the development directorate in the Defense Ministry. He notes that, although nanosats possess much less exquisite capabilities than SBIRS or other large satellites, “when you use a constellation of such satellites the combined capability can be very effective in missions like locating missile launchers.” The other advantage of nano satellites is their price: “You go from hundreds of million of dollars for a full size imaging satellite to some millions of dollars when it comes to a nano satellite.”
Not directly related to the nano satellite program but part of Israel’s space effort, IAI teamed with British start-up company Effective Space to make a fleet of special satellites weighing roughly 880 pounds that can refuel other satellites in space. IAI signed an agreement for technological and financial cooperation with the smaller company. While Effective Space is headquartered in London, its CEO, Arie Halsband, was general manager of IAI’s space division before starting his own company. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
04 Oct 18. Australian Space Agency launches new international partnerships. The Australian Space Agency has formally entered into memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with counterpart agencies in Canada and the UK as part of the government’s plan to launch a vibrant new space industry in Australia. These MoUs will help all three nations develop their respective space programs and take advantage of the rapidly-expanding global space industry.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews welcomed the MoUs, signed overnight by the head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark AC, president of the Canadian Space Agency, Sylvain Laporte, and chief executive of the United Kingdom Space Agency Dr Graham Turnock.
“Forging international partnerships is vital to building Australia’s space industry and ensuring our businesses can compete on the world stage,” Minister Andrews said.
The signing of the new MoUs took place at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) being held this week in Bremen, Germany. The IAC is an annual meeting of international space agencies and industry, and was hosted for the second time in Australia in 2017.
As part of the 2018-19 budget, the government is investing $41m over four years to establish and operate Australia’s first-ever national space agency. The government is also investing more than $260m to develop world-leading core satellite infrastructure and technologies, including better GPS for Australian business and regional Australians, and improved access to satellite imagery.
Dr Clark said, “These signings provide a further positive contribution that co-operation in space science, research, technology, services, applications and international governance can bring. Growing existing relationships with the United Kingdom on the likes of CSIRO’s NovaSar satellite project, Airbus’ Zephyr solar-powered unmanned aircraft and Canada’s co-operation in Earth observation with Geoscience Australia provides more opportunity to jointly identify projects like these that can be supported and developed in both countries.”
The Space Agency’s focus will be on fostering international space partnerships and opening the door for local businesses to compete in the global space economy, helping to drive job growth, with initial priorities including:
- Communications technologies, services and ground stations;
- Space situational awareness and debris monitoring;
- Positioning, navigation and timing infrastructure;
- Earth observation services;
- Research and development;
- Remote asset management; and
- Developing a strategy to position Australia as an international leader in specialised space capabilities.
The Australian Space Agency is working to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Oct 18. Ahead of this year’s NBAA-BACE, Satcom Direct (SD), the business aviation solutions provider announces the launch of SD Scheduler, a cloud-based software solution. SD Scheduler further enhances the SD ecosystem, providing centralized management of aircraft and flight information, as well as customized reporting and analytics to support the entire flight operation. SD Scheduler optimizes work flows and simplifies communication across all parts of the operation, from pre-flight planning to post-flight reporting. Scalable and customizable, SD Scheduler meets the unique requirements of individual flight departments, making data more available to support the needs of today’s dynamic flight operations.
SD FlightLogs℠, the post-flight component of SD Scheduler, captures automated information for accurate and efficient post-flight reporting. This data moves efficiently through the SD Pro ecosystem to update CAMP Systems Inc.’s Maintenance Management system, which synchronizes the aircraft with flight operations and enables aircraft maintenance status to be viewed in SD Pro and SD Scheduler. The reliable and secure design meets corporate IT cybersecurity needs, and SD’s Agile software development continuously enhances the system.
“In SD Scheduler we have created a continually evolving software system that adapts to the changing business aviation environment. Through its capacity to synchronize with every element of flight operations, it supports the ability to align all members of the flight team – as well as passengers, corporate offices, and vendors – to keep operations secure, streamlined and efficient. Integration with third parties also gives customers the flexibility to create a product that enhances their daily operations. Our aim is to continue to deliver proactive tools that deliver up-to-date information to keep flight departments efficient, safe and seamlessly synchronized,” said Jim Jensen, SD Founder and CEO.
SD Scheduler is currently being implemented with the first twelve customers, and is commercially available by additional flight departments. SD will be demonstrating the benefits of SD Scheduler and SD Pro at this year’s NBAA, booth 250 and static display SD40.
03 Oct 18. Today, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, Germany, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) experts revealed the company’s crewed lunar lander concept and showed how the reusable lander aligns with NASA’s lunar Gateway and future Mars missions. The crewed lunar lander is a single stage, fully reusable system that incorporates flight-proven technologies and systems from NASA’s Orion spacecraft. In its initial configuration, the lander would accommodate a crew of four and 2,000 lbs. of cargo payload on the surface for up to two weeks before returning to the Gateway without refueling on the surface.
“NASA asked industry for innovative and new approaches to advance America’s goal of returning humans to the Moon, and establishing a sustainable, enduring presence there,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space. “This is a concept that takes full advantage of both the Gateway and existing technologies to create a versatile, powerful lander that can be built quickly and affordably. This lander could be used to establish a surface base, deliver scientific or commercial cargo, and conduct extraordinary exploration of the Moon.”
The unique orbit of the lunar Gateway provides global lunar access for a lander. Having the ability to visit multiple sites with a reusable lander supports many international, commercial, and scientific communities, in addition to NASA’s sustainable exploration of the Moon. After a surface mission, it would return to the Gateway, where it can be refueled, serviced, and then kept in orbit until the next surface sortie mission.
“The Gateway is key to full, frequent and fast reusability of this lander,” said Tim Cichan, space exploration architect at Lockheed Martin Space, who presented the lander concept at IAC. “Because this lander doesn’t have to endure the punishment of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, it can be re-flown many times over without needing significant and costly refurbishment. That’s a major advantage of the Gateway and of a modular, flexible, reusable approach to deep space exploration.”
The investments made in technology developed for Orion can be re-used to reduce the cost, complexity and development timeline. Some of the human-rated, flight-proven systems used in the design include avionics, life support, communications and navigation systems, and a light-weight version of its crew module pressure vessel.
Reusable landers are enabled by the lunar Gateway and are important for sustainable exploration. Additionally, landed human lunar missions and a lunar orbiting outpost are valuable to prepare for sending humans to Mars. While the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, there are still many lessons that apply to a future crewed Mars lander, such as: operations experience in a challenging and dynamic environment, operating and refueling out of orbit, long-duration cryogenic propulsion, and terminal descent navigation, guidance and control.
03 Oct 18. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has delivered the first Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements, or SeeMe, satellite to DARPA. Assembled on the company’s advanced missile production lines, the new SeeMe satellite will provide greater situational awareness to soldiers on the ground. DARPA’s SeeMe program is designed to show that small satellites can be built affordably to give small squads timely tactical imagery directly from a small satellite. A future constellation of small satellites would deliver high-resolution images of precise locations of interest to the soldier’s handheld device.
“Ground troops can’t always get immediate access to the larger, military and commercial satellites,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “These smaller, SeeMe satellites will be dedicated to soldiers, providing them with real-time images from space when they’re needed most.”
Using its automated missile production lines, Raytheon can build large numbers of these highly reliable, small satellites quickly and affordably.
DARPA will integrate the Raytheon-built SeeMe satellite onto a Spaceflight Industries payload that will be launched into low-earth orbit on a SpaceX rocket later this year. Military users will have an opportunity to evaluate the satellite’s performance during missions in early 2019.
Eventually, a SeeMe constellation may comprise several types of small satellites, each lasting one to five years before de-orbiting and burning up, leaving no space debris and causing no re-entry hazard.
02 Oct 18. $24m Kapooka defence satellite ground station construction kicks off. Construction of a new Defence satellite ground station has officially begun, with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Defence Minister Christopher Pyne at Kapooka to kick off the construction phase of JP 2008 Phase 5B2. SGS-E will be a key component of the Australian Defence Force’s future satellite communications (SATCOM) capability, delivered by Northrop Grumman Australia and Viasat under Joint Project (JP) 2008 Phase 5B2. The facility will provide the ADF access to military communications satellites such as the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation, which allows ADF personnel deployed across the Indo-Pacific region to connect to strategic information communications technology networks in Australia. Additionally, SGS-E will provide access to a range of commercial communications satellite services.
“I’m pleased to be at Kapooka – The Home of the Soldier – today with representatives from the project’s contractors, Northrop Grumman Australia and Viasat, for this ground-breaking activity which will provide flexibility to the Australian Defence Force wideband beyond-line-of-sight communications,” Minister McCormack said.
Commercial building company Hansen Yuncken is leading construction of SGS-E, with AECOM providing design and civil engineering support. The construction will begin later this year and is estimated to provide more than 100 jobs across 22 different trades.
Ian Irving, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Australia said, “Northrop Grumman and Viasat will provide the ADF a comprehensive and proven solution for taking full advantage of Australia’s investment in the WGS communications system. Our solution will also provide the ADF the flexibility necessary to accommodate future needs.”
The SGS-E project is a major Defence beyond-line-of-sight communications capability and has a requirement to integrate with the ADF communication networks. The DTCN provides the terrestrial communications connectivity needed by SGS-E to extend the Defence strategic networks to deployed ADF assets in support of operations. The DTCN at Wagga is currently being upgraded under the JP 2047 – Terrestrial Communications Project for existing Defence needs.
Minister Pyne said the new ground station would provide site and frequency redundancy to the WGS visible from mainland Australia.
“Once completed in 2021 the ground station will provide the satellite communications gateway on the east coast of Australia, and in conjunction with the Wideband SATCOM NMS will deliver a holistic satellite communications network management and situational awareness capability to the ADF,” he said.
“This will ensure the ADF has an end-to-end communications service consistent with the operational need for network enabled operations. Today’s ceremony represents the beginning of construction work, which is critical to the broader $220m program to significantly enhance the communications capability of the ADF while providing local jobs during the construction phase.”
28 Sep 18. Norway’s FFI developing low-light satellite technology with US Navy. The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (Forsvaret forskningsinstitutt: FFI) is developing low-light satellite technology in collaboration with the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), Jane’s has learned. The organisations are adapting a camera that will be installed on the NorSat-4, a maritime surveillance satellite belonging to the Norwegian Space Centre, the country’s space agency. Low-light technology is a focus for Norway, which conducts surveillance in challenging Arctic conditions. The technology could potentially be used on other satellites, said FFI Principal Scientist Torkild Eriksen. The space domain is a major emphasis for the FFI, which works with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence (MoD), Kongsberg, and other organisations internationally to research future military and commercial technologies. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 Oct 18. Gilmour Space Technologies secures $19m to launch next-gen rockets. Australia and Singapore-based Gilmour Space Technologies has secured $19m to scale-up and launch the company’s first commercial hybrid rocket to space in 2020, supported by a growing group of Australian venture capital firms seeking to enhance the domestic space industry. The Series B round was led by top-tier venture capital firms in Australia: Main Sequence Ventures, which manages Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) innovation fund; and Blackbird Ventures, which led Gilmour Space’s $5m Series A in May last year. Other investors include US-based 500 Startups, which increased its stake from the Series A; as well as new venture capital, family-office and private investors.
Gilmour CEO and founder Adam Gilmour explained the difficulty of small launch scenarios and the role Gilmour will play in commercialising the launch process for small satellites, saying, “The small satellite revolution is gaining momentum globally, with thousands of small sats slated to launch into low-Earth orbits (LEO) over the next five years, these new players will be challenged by high launch costs and limited launch opportunities. Gilmour Space is developing a new breed of hybrid rockets that will offer dedicated LEO launches to small satellite customers at very competitive prices.”
The company plans to launch Eris-100 in 2020, a three-stage commercial vehicle capable of carrying 100 kilograms to LEO; followed by Eris-400 in 2021, a clustered-engine vehicle for payloads of up to 400 kilograms.
“I believe our progress puts us at a technology readiness level (TRL) of six, well ahead of most small launch competitors globally. The fact that we’ve come this far on relatively little funding is also a testament to our innovative engineering and low cost manufacturing capability,” said Gilmour.
The Eris system provides orbital launch capacity (LEO) with an estimated launch price of US$25,000-38,000 per kilogram depending on the payload mass, with a max payload of 400 kilograms. Eris is a three-stage launch system propelled by eight of the G-70 hybrid rocket engines developed by Gilmour Space Technologies.
Gilmour said, “This round of investment will give us the safe runway we need to build and launch our first commercial hybrid rocket to orbit in 2020.”
Although space investments are comparatively new to investors in the Asia-Pacific region, they are starting to take notice. According to lead investor Martin Duursma, a partner at Sydney-based Main Sequence Ventures, “Gilmour Space is a great example of the rise of innovation in the Australia space industry”.
This is supported by Blackbird co-founder Rick Baker, who said, “This Queensland-based rocket company is well on its way to developing, building and launching a commercial orbital rocket for under $30m in capital raised. The result will be a low-cost rocket that is going to change the economics of small launch.”
Since January, Gilmour Space has achieved a number of key milestones: it completed a series of ground tests on its proprietary orbital-class hybrid rocket engine, generating a record 80 kilonewtons (18,000 pounds) of thrust; signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA (the first private company to do so in Australia); attracted two high-profile space veterans to its advisory board; and is preparing for a sub-orbital test flight in a few months time. Gilmour Space plans to launch its first hybrid rockets to suborbital space in 2018, and to LEO in 2020-21. (Source: Defence Connect)
28 Sep 18. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) Australia proudly hosted the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, at Kapooka today to turn the first sod at Satellite Ground Station East (SGS-E), commemorating the new facility construction. SGS-E will be a key component of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) future satellite communications (SATCOM) capability, delivered by Northrop Grumman Australia and Viasat under Joint Project (JP) 2008 Phase 5B2. The facility will provide the ADF access to military communications satellites such as the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation, which allows ADF personnel deployed across the Indo-Pacific region to connect to strategic information communications technology networks in Australia. Additionally, SGS-E will provide access to a range of commercial communications satellite services.
“Northrop Grumman and Viasat will provide the ADF a comprehensive and proven solution for taking full advantage of Australia’s investment in the WGS communications system,” said Ian Irving, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. “Our solution will also provide the ADF the flexibility necessary to accommodate future needs.”
The Hansen Yuncken company is leading construction of SGS-E, with AECOM providing design and civil engineering support. The construction will begin later this year and is estimated to provide more than 100 jobs across 22 different trades. Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide.
27 Sep 18. ULA selects Blue Origin engine to power launch vehicle. The United Launch Alliance has selected Blue Origin to provide the engine for its Vulcan Centaur boost phase launch vehicle, a big win for the Jeff Bezos-founded company. The BE-4 design was selected over Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 system, ULA announced Thursday. Two of the engines, each capable of 550,000 pounds of thrust, will power the boost vehicle.
“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with Blue Origin and look forward to a successful first flight of our next-generation launch vehicle,” said Tory Bruno, ULA CEO, in a statement (ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing).
“We are very glad to have our BE-4 engine selected by United Launch Alliance. United Launch Alliance is the premier launch service provider for national security missions, and we’re thrilled to be part of their team and that mission,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in the same statement. “We can’t thank Tory Bruno and the entire United Launch Alliance team enough for entrusting our engine to powering the Vulcan rocket’s first stage.”
The selection comes four years and ten days after a Sept. 17, 2014 press conference in Washington where Bezos and Bruno unveiled the BE-4, and the selection of the engine is a major point in Vulcan’s somewhat dramatic history.
For years, ULA had a monopoly on military space launch capabilities, with the company’s Atlas V launch vehicle relying on Russian made RD-180 engines to get to orbit. That agreement worked fine, until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 set off a wave of questions on the Hill as to why the U.S. was relying on Russian technology to get key military systems into space — and lining the pockets of Russian elites with close ties to President Vladimir Putin in the process.
The ensuing fight, spurred on in part by ULA’s rival SpaceX, ended with Congress putting a banin place on long-term use of the Russian engines, and with ULA deciding to design a brand new launch vehicle — the Vulcan, unveiled in April 2015.
Aerojet Rocketdyne — which in 2015 considered a bid to buy ULA outright for a reported $2bn, before being rejected by Boeing and Lockheed — isn’t locked out entirely on the program, however, as the company’s RL10 engine for the Centaur’s upper stage. After the announcement, Aerojet CEO Eileen Drake tweeted out, “We’re excited to be part of the #Vulcan team, with our RL10C-X engine powering the upper-stage. The RL10 has been the nation’s premier high performance upper-stage engine for decades.”
ULA says Vulcan is expected to be ready for its first flight in mid-2020. Other component manufacturers include Northrop, L‑3 Avionics Systems RUAG. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
28 Sep 18. On Sept. 20, Northrop Grumman successfully conducted the first static test fire of its new Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM), the GEM 63, at its Promontory, Utah, test area. The rocket motor fired for 110 seconds, allowing engineers to gather data needed to qualify the newest addition to the GEM family. This fourth generation GEM motor is being developed by Northrop Grumman for use on United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle. The GEM 63 motor will be used as a direct replacement of the previous strap-on boosters on the Atlas V rocket beginning in July 2019. Northrop Grumman reached this static test milestone in three years – record time for such a complex drop-in solution to an existing launch vehicle.
The 63-inch diameter booster capitalizes on existing designs, common materials and low cost manufacturing processes developed on Northrop Grumman’s previous GEM, Orion and CASTOR® motors. At 65 feet long, the GEM 63 is the longest single-case solid rocket motor Northrop Grumman has ever built. The successful completion of the GEM 63 static test enables full production to begin. Northrop Grumman’s first GEM was the GEM 40. Nine GEM 40 motors helped boost the first 7000-series Delta II rocket in 1990, and this month, the 132nd – and final – Delta II launched, ending the 28-year, 1,003-motor GEM 40 era.
Northrop Grumman’s second generation GEM motor was the GEM 46, of which 54 motors flew on six successful Delta II-Heavy launches. The third generation GEM motor was the GEM 60, of which 62 motors have flown on 25 successful Delta IV launches. Northrop Grumman’s new GEM 63 motor builds on this extensive flight history.
The GEM 63s will fly for the first time on an Atlas V beginning in the late summer of 2019. Each Atlas V mission may include up to five GEM 63 strap-on boosters depending on the mission needs. The second GEM 63 static fire test, scheduled for December, will satisfy additional requirements for certification of the rocket motor by the U.S. Air Force.
In addition to the new GEM 63, Northrop Grumman is using internal funding to develop the GEM 63XL (XL for extended length) for use on ULA’s Vulcan rocket. At 72 feet long, the GEM 63XL will be the longest single-case solid rocket motor ever built. The first GEM 63XL case has already been wound at Northrop Grumman’s new winding facility in Clearfield, Utah, where a team of engineering, quality, operations and facilities team members worked through many challenges to bring a lengthened and upgraded winding machine online. The GEM 63/63XL contract for ULA’s Atlas and Vulcan launch vehicles “is our future,” said John Slaughter Jr., vice president, propulsion systems commercial programs, Northrop Grumman. The five-year contract with five years of options is a “solid building block as we continue to mature GEM 63 and 63XL.”
The GEM 63 line of motors is a continuation of Northrop Grumman’s heritage of innovation that leads toward the reliability and affordability that ULA and the Air Force have learned to expect. With the impressive display of power shown on the test stand in Utah, Northrop Grumman is on track to give ULA vehicles a solid boost far into the future.
26 Sep 18. ThinKom’s First Aero Terminal Reaches Connectivity with SES’ O3b MEO Satellites. Success for ThinKom Solutions, Inc. regarding the ground test that included a vehicle-mounted ThinKom Ka2517 aeronautical antenna that acquired successive O3b MEO satellites at 13-degree elevation and successfully tracked them for 30-minute periods. All the while the satellites traversed from west to east, resulting in the successful completion of the first ground test of its ThinAir® Ka2517 Ka-band phased-array satellite antenna with the SES’ O3b constellation of medium-Earth orbit (MEO) satellites. The test was conducted in August 2018 at ThinKom’s facility in Hawthorne, California, in collaboration with SES Networks. ThinKom said this test is a precursor to a flight test, expected to take place before the end of 2018. This will be the first in-flight demonstration of a ThinKom antenna communicating through a non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation and will demonstrate the ability of ThinKom’s phased-array antenna to auto-track and perform seamless beam switching through aircraft roll, pitch, and yaw motions.
O3b is the first NGSO satellite constellation capable of delivering commercial broadband communication services. The constellation orbits the Earth at about 8,000 km altitude, along an equatorial path, allowing much larger visible Earth angles than low-Earth orbit (LEO) constellations currently being evaluated.
Bill Milroy, ThinKom Chief Technology Officer said that ThinKom’s unique patented low-profile phased-array antennas have been designed for interoperability on geostationary (GEO) and MEO satellites with the agility and switching speed to move seamlessly from beam-to-beam and constellation-to-constellation. Agility tests have proven that their antenna achieves switching speeds of less than one second, more than fast enough to support beam switching with no interruption in connectivity.
He continued that the ground test, and the coming aero tests, are important steps in showing the ability of the ThinKom antenna to operate on the O3b MEO satellite network, and will pave the way to full commercialization.
Stewart Sanders, Executive Vice President of Technology at SES Networks added that innovation in terminal technology is key for scaling SES Networks’ proven MEO system for mass connectivity. They’re delighted to collaborate with ThinKom and to continue growing a partner ecosystem that will redefine the standard for their industry. This development aligns with our aim to make it faster, easier and more affordable to expand service reach to our customers and their end users. (Source: Satnews)
25 Sep 18. MoU Signed Between ThinKom and Telesat for Enterprise User Terminal for LEO Satellite Constellation. ThinKom Solutions, Inc. and Telesat have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly develop a Ka-band enterprise user terminal for Telesat’s planned LEO constellation of satellites. As an initial step in the process, ThinKom’s ThinAir® Ka2517 phased array antenna system, which is currently in production for commercial and government in-flight connectivity (IFC), will be used for over-the-air testing on Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite over the next few months.
Telesat’s state-of-the-art LEO constellation will combine the company’s global spectrum rights in Ka-band with Telesat’s proprietary LEO architecture to transform global communications. The constellation will deliver an unsurpassed combination of capacity, speed, security, resiliency, latency and low cost. Telesat’s LEO constellation will accelerate 4G/5G expansion, bridge the digital divide by bringing fiber-like high-speed services into rural and remote communities, and set new levels of performance for commercial and government broadband on land, sea and in the air.
ThinKom and Telesat will collaborate in the development of a new Telesat LEO-compliant enterprise terminal for terrestrial applications. Building on ThinKom’s disruptive antenna technology and Telesat’s commercial and technical expertise in satellite communications, the new terminal will be cost effective while delivering high-performance connectivity for applications including mobile backhaul, Wi-Fi hotspots, isolated cable and DSL networks, and remote institutions.
Michel Forest, Director of Engineering at Telesat, said that ThinKom’s new terminal, combined with the revolutionary value proposition of Telesat’s LEO constellation, will unlock new satellite communications market opportunities with better value economics for service providers and their customers. Easy to deploy, cost effective and agile beam antenna technology are key requirements for the company’s Telesat LEO constellation, which will be able to allocate bandwidth seamlessly and instantly where it’s most needed. Live, over-the-air testing with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite will validate that the ThinKom Ka-band aero antennas, which currently operate on geostationary satellites, meet all of the Telesat LEO system requirements.
Bill Milroy, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of ThinKom Solutions, noted that ThinKom’s patented phased-array architecture provides rapid switching speeds without the drawbacks typical of electronic scanning antennas in terms of limited instantaneous bandwidth, poor low look-angle performance, high power consumption and lower aperture efficiency. The company’s proven antenna technology has the versatility to support an integrated LEO constellation solution offering gap-free pole-to-pole coverage with automatic beam switching, rapid outage recovery and network optimization for different geographical regions. This means ThinKom can offer a fast-track path to commercialization of a fully interoperable, multi-orbit solution in the near term. (Source: Satnews)
25 Sep 18. Ariane 5 Celebrates Multiple Successes Including a Dual Satellite Sendoff and the 100th Launch. Kudos to Arianespace with today’s successful 100th launch of Ariane 5 from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana). This event was the result of the efforts of an enormous network of specialists and employees whose common goal was to see this mission’s success of placing two telecommunications satellites Horizons 3e and Azerspace-2/Intelsat38 into orbit weighing a total of 9,940 kg… and they did.
Arianespace’s Statement In 22 years of service the Ariane 5 has launched more than 170 satellites to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) as well as the Rosetta probe, five transfer vehicles (ATV) to resupply the International Space Station (ISS), and 12 satellites for the European Galileo navigation service
The performance of this Ariane 5 ECA was 9,940 kg net total mass for the two satellites and 10,827 kg gross mass (including the ACU – payload adaptors, the SYLDA – Ariane dual launch system, and the LVA 3936 – Launch Vehicle Adaptor). Since 2016, the net performance gain for Ariane 5 has increased by 150 kg.
Alain Charmeau, CEO of ArianeGroup stated that, “Launching 10 metric tons into orbit is now normal business for Ariane 5, and this 100th lift-off is an opportunity to celebrate the expertise of the teams at ArianeGroup, Arianespace and all of their industrial partners across Europe, who are working constantly to improve their capabilities and the performance and competitiveness of our launcher, while at the same time preparing the arrival of Ariane 6 in just two years from now.
“I warmly thank them and the European Space Agency, CNES and all our partners in European space, with whom we celebrate this success. Without the interest and constant support of the political powers in Europe over these two decades, this success would not have been possible. During the course of these 100 flights since 1996, Ariane 5 has not only supported the development of the European and global space industry in the field of telecommunications, but has also contributed to exploration and to science.
“Soon Ariane 6 will take up the torch. Until that time, other impressive missions await Ariane 5, whose next flight is a very important one: BepiColombo which will head for Mercury next month. Ariane 5 has not yet written the final page of its space legend.”
As well as the 170 telecommunications satellites placed in geostationary transfer orbit over the past 22 years, Ariane 5 has also launched payloads to numerous different orbits: the second flight of the recoverable ARD capsule; the XMM, Herschel and Planck telescopes; the Rosetta probe; the ENVISAT Earth observation satellite; two HELIOS remote-sensing satellites; five ATV automated freighters to resupply the International Space Station and, more recently, 12 navigation satellites for Europe’s Galileo constellation. Ariane 5 thus confirms its reputation as the world’s most reliable commercial launcher.
In celebration of this 100th launch, more than 7,000 people around Europe virtually launched Ariane 5 themselves on social media. This successful joint campaign by ArianeGroup, Arianespace, CNES and ESA was launched on July 25 to raise awareness about Ariane 5 among the people of Europe. Finally, the various ArianeGroup sites in France (notably in Kourou) and in Germany, celebrated this 100th launch by sharing memories and future ambitions with their 9,000 employees and all their partners.
As the industrial lead contractor for development and operation of the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers, ArianeGroup coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including more than 350 Small and Medium Enterprises. ArianeGroup oversees all the industrial activities, from the performance improvements and studies necessary for Ariane 5 up to its production, the provision of data or software specific to each mission, without forgetting marketing activities via Arianespace. This chain includes equipment and structures, engines manufacturing, integration of the various stages and finally launcher integration in French Guiana.
Other statistics pertaining to Ariane 243’s launch include
- 75h consecutive success by a launcher fitted with a Vulcain® 2 engine
- 100th success by a launcher fitted with the solid propellant strap-on boosters (EAP)
- 140th consecutive success by a launcher fitted with the HM7B engine
Today’s launch sent off two satellites, Horizons 3e and the Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38
Horizons 3e was deployed from Ariane 5’s upper payload slot and is owned by a joint venture of Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation. Built by Boeing using Intelsat’s EpicNG design, it will provide coverage for aeronautical and maritime mobility, fixed and wireless operators, as well as mobility and government customers. In addition, Horizons 3e is the first satellite in Intelsat’s EpicNG spacecraft series to feature entire Ku-band spot beams utilizing multiport amplifiers that optimize power across the spacecraft.
As Ariane 5’s upper passenger on Flight VA243, Horizons 3e is owned by a joint venture between Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT, marking the fourth collaboration between the two companies.
Horizons 3e completes the Intelsat EpicNG network’s global coverage, bringing the next level of high-throughput services to the Asia-Pacific region and expanding coverage in the Pacific Ocean. The all-digital Horizons 3e payload represents a continued evolution of the award-winning Intelsat EpicNG platform. It features full beam interconnectivity in C- and Ku-bands and also includes a multiport amplifier that optimizes power across the satellite, enabling a power adjustment of each spot beam to better meet a customer’s throughput demands. This feature brings additional efficiency and flexibility to address regional and application requirements for broadband, mobility and government customers operating in the Asia-Pacific and Pacific Ocean.
The 6,441-kg. satellite will provide 30 gigabits per second of bandwidth for fixed and mobile customers, and it is to be stationed at the 169 degrees East orbital location to replace Intelsat 805.
Horizons 3e is the 60th Intelsat satellite, as well as the 20th for SKY Perfect JSAT, to be launched by Arianespace — and as such, it embodies more than 35 years of shared success in the unique partnership between Intelsat, SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and Arianespace.
Chicago-headquartered Boeing is the prime contractor of Horizon 3e. It is the 56th satellite from this manufacturer to be launched by Arianespace.
The Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 co-passenger to be orbited by Flight VA243 from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position was produced by SSL, and is designed to provide a range of telecommunications relay duties at the service of its two operators — Intelsat and Azercosmos, a company owned by the government of Azerbaijan Republic.
Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 is a multi-mission satellite to be located at 45 degrees East.
For the second time, Arianespace will support the development of Azercosmos — the premier satellite operator in the South Caucasus region — by launching Azerbaijan’s second geostationary satellite, Azerspace-2.
It will be Azercosmos’ second telecommunications satellite and is to expand on the current capacity of Azerspace-1. Azerspace-2 will also increase the coverage area and spectrum of services provided by Azercosmos. The satellite’s planned orbital position is only one degree away from the current Azerspace-1 orbital location at 46 degrees East, which creates favorable opportunities for existing and new customers to start expanding their current satellite solutions.
The satellite will offer enhanced capacity, coverage and service offerings to support growing demand in the region for Direct-to-Home (DTH), government and network services in Europe, Central and South Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
It is ideally designed for smaller antennas and has cross-connectivity between East Africa, West Africa and Central Africa, Europe and Central Asia.
Intelsat 38 will provide Ku-band capabilities and deliver continuity of service for the Intelsat 12 satellite located at 45 degrees East. The satellite will host leading Direct-to-Home television platforms for the fast-growing Central and Eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. It will support the growth objectives of customers operating in these regions. Intelsat 38 will also provide critical broadband connectivity for corporate network and government services in Africa. Built by California-based SSL, a Maxar Technologies Company, Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 offers 35 active transponders in Ku-band. Its designed lifetime is more than 15 years. It will be the 65th satellite based on an SSL platform to be launched by Arianespace. (Source: Satnews)
24 Sep 18. Five Antennas for the SCISYS Heinrich Hertz SATCOM Mission to be Built by MT Mechatronics Germany. The Mainz-based company MT Mechatronics Germany, a subsidiary of MT Aerospace AG, has been awarded a contract for the production and delivery of five antennas by prime contractor SCISYS Deutschland GmbH for the ground segment of the “Heinrich Hertz” national satellite communications mission. The five ground stations with antenna diameters between 7.3 to 13 meters will be performing various functions within the ground segment (in Germany). They will make it possible to control the satellite, execute and monitor the experiments and utilize the communication payloads on board of the satellite.
With the German “Heinrich Hertz” satellite communications mission, it will be possible to test new technologies under the extreme conditions of outer space and to carry out around 20 communications, antenna and satellite technology experiments on board the satellite. In addition, the satellite will be fitted with an independent telecommunications payload, which will be used by the Federal Ministry of Defense for communication purposes. Heinrich Hertz is being sponsored by DLR Space Management using funds provided by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and with the participation of the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg).
Hans Steininger, CEO of MT Aerospace AG and thus the parent company of MT Mechatronics, said that the firm is pleased that SCISYS has selected us as the supplier for the antenna technology. This underscores MT Mechatronics’ capabilities and skills in the field of military satellite communications. (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.