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11 Oct 23. US Space Force pauses use of AI tools like ChatGPT over data security risks. The U.S. Space Force has paused the use of web-based generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT for its workforce over data security concerns, according to a memo seen by Reuters.
A memo dated Sept. 29 and addressed to Guardians, the name Space Force calls its workforce, prohibits personnel from using such AI tools including large-language models on government computers until they receive formal approval by the force’s Chief Technology and Innovation Office.
It said the temporary ban was “due to data aggregation risks.”
Uses of generative AI, powered by large language models that ingest huge troves of past data to learn, have exploded in the past year, underpinning ever-evolving products such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT that can swiftly generate content like text, images or video off of a simple prompt.
Lisa Costa, Space Force’s chief technology and innovation officer, said in the memo that the technology “will undoubtedly revolutionize our workforce and enhance Guardian’s ability to operate at speed.”
An Air Force spokesperson confirmed the temporary ban, which was first reported by Bloomberg.
“A strategic pause on the use of Generative AI and Large Language Models within the U.S. Space Force has been implemented as we determine the best path forward to integrate these capabilities into Guardians’ roles and the USSF mission,” Air Force spokesperson Tanya Downsworth said in a statement.
“This is a temporary measure to protect the data of our service and Guardians,” she added.
Costa said in the memo that her office had formed a generative AI task force with other Pentagon offices to mull ways to use the technology in a “responsible and strategic manner.”
More guidance on Space Force’s use of generative AI would be released in the next month, she added. (Source: Reuters)
11 Oct 23. Space Force seeks proposals for Project Apollo technology hub. The Space Force is taking applications from companies and universities for the first round of space domain awareness projects at its Colorado Springs, Colorado-based technology hub, Project Apollo.
The technology accelerator, focused on improving the service’s ability to identify and track objects in space, will kick off its first three-month innovation cycle Oct. 26. The initial projects will get after capability gaps in three areas: space launch custody, object identification and decision aids.
“Project Apollo aims to fill those gaps quickly by providing a tools- and data-rich ‘sandbox’ for industry, academia and government to quickly formulate, test and prove solutions,” Space Systems Command said in an Oct. 10 statement.
In the area of space launch custody, the service is interested in capabilities that use unclassified and commercially available data to quickly detect a space launch, predict its orbit and trajectory and pass that information to a sensor that can then track that object. Object identification involves using things like behavior, frequency and radar emissions and orbital data to detect space objects.
Project Apollo is also focused on capabilities that can take data gathered through launch custody and object analysis and provide it to decision-makers in a simple and intuitive manner. These “decision aids” should require minimal training and help users make quick decisions about the implications of engaging a potential threat.
Maintaining insight about what’s happening in orbit is a top priority for the Space Force. The service maintains a network of ground and in-space radars and sensors aimed at supporting that mission, but they lack cohesion. A Defense Department space strategy review released last month highlighted these “stovepiped systems” as a barrier to creating a “comprehensive understanding of the complex and congested space operational environment.”
“In an increasingly dynamic and congested space domain, [space domain awareness] requires an integrated sensor system that leverages DoD, other U.S. Government, and international and commercial partner services,” according to the September report.
Project Apollo is one of the Space Force’s two Tools, Applications and Processing, or TAP Labs. The first of those labs is located Boulder, Colorado, and is focused on battlespace awareness and missile detection.
The intent is to drive collaboration among various agencies and institutions and use that work to quickly field new capabilities.
To date, the Project Apollo hub is partnered with Mitre Corp., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Aerospace Corp. and the Space Force’s Supra Coder initiative, which supports data and coding within the service. (Source: glstrade.com/ C4ISR & Networks)
09 Oct 23. University of Melbourne’s SpIRIT satellite nears launch.
The SpIRIT nanosatellite built by the University of Melbourne has passed tests to verify its performance and is now on its way to California for launch.
Once in orbit, the 11.5-kilogram device will deploy solar panels and thermal radiators to search for gamma rays – the elusive phenomenon created when stars die or collide.
The project is a unique collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, which has created the scientific instruments on board.
Professor Michele Trenti, the SpIRIT mission’s principal investigator, appeared on the Space Connect Podcast last year to discuss the project. You can listen to the episode above.
SpIRIT was originally due to launch in April but is now targeting a blast off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base on a Space X Falcon-9 rocket by the end of this year.
The Australian partners are Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, Sitael Australia, and Nova Systems, while the Australian Space Agency supported the project with almost $7 m in grants.
“SpIRIT will be part of a network of six satellites looking for the elusive rays as part of the HERMES Scientific Pathfinder Constellation mission,” said the University of Melbourne.
“The mission will also test a University of Melbourne thermal control system that lets nanosatellites host sensitive instruments requiring precise temperature control that otherwise could only fly on satellites 10 times heavier.
“The 11.5-kilogram nano satellite uses the popular CubeSat design as its framework and is the first Australian-made scientific satellite in space since the 58-kilogram Federation microsatellite 21 years ago.
“The compact powerhouse will also carry cameras (including a selfie stick), guidance systems, an electric propulsion thruster, and computers.
“After its California launch, the team will then spend about four months testing and commissioning the satellite in the extreme conditions before full operations begin. SpIRIT is designed to work for about two years before returning to Earth to burn up on re-entry.
“Once in orbit, SpIRIT will commence its mission to demonstrate made-in-Australia technological innovations and to investigate the mysteries of the cosmos through international scientific cooperation.”
Professor Trenti said there is a growing role for big science in smaller craft.
“It will take time, but I’m looking forward to receiving images and scientific data back from SpIRIT,” he said.
“However, it is already an incredible achievement just to go through the full satellite development cycle.” (Source: Space Connect)
07 Oct 23. Amazon launches first test satellites for Kuiper internet network. Amazon’s (AMZN.O) first pair of prototype satellites for its planned Kuiper internet network were launched into space on Friday from Florida, the company’s first step before it deploys thousands more into orbit to beam internet service globally and compete with SpaceX’s Starlink.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket emblazoned with the Amazon logo lifted off from Cape Canaveral shortly after 2 p.m. Eastern time (1800 GMT), carrying the two Kuiper test satellites, a long-awaited mission Amazon initially had intended to launch using different rockets.
The mission aims to test Amazon’s first pieces of technology in space as the e-commerce and web services giant looks to deploy 3,236 more satellites in the next few years and offer broadband internet globally, a feat Elon Musk’s SpaceX is targeting with its nearly 5,000 Starlink satellites in orbit.
In the days leading up to the launch, Amazon divulged few specifics about the two satellites, which were built at its satellite plant in Redmond, Washington.
The launch live stream hosted by the United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture, ended shortly after the rocket’s liftoff without showing the deployment of the satellites. Amazon later said the two satellites were deployed and its mission operations center had made contact with them.
Amazon has vowed to invest $10 bn into its Kuiper project, which was announced in 2019, the year SpaceX began deploying its first operational Starlink spacecraft.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is requiring Amazon to deploy half its planned satellite constellation by 2026.
The market for broadband internet service from low-Earth orbiting satellites is viewed as being worth up to tens of bns of dollars in the next decade.
With Starlink making SpaceX the world’s largest satellite operator, Amazon’s other rivals include Canada’s Telesat, which has not yet launched satellites, and French satellite firm Eutelsat’s OneWeb, which mainly offers its internet service to governments and businesses.
Like SpaceX, Amazon aims to target individual consumers and enterprise customers with Kuiper, pulling from its devices playbook to build consumer terminals at a company cost of $400 each – though it has not yet announced prices. SpaceX’s consumer Starlink terminals are priced at $599 each.
To deploy the rest of the Kuiper network, Amazon last year announced a bulk launch deal for 83 launches – the largest commercial rocket procurement ever – from various rocket companies, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, ULA and Europe’s Arianespace.
Amazon and Bezos, its founder, are facing a shareholder lawsuit over that launch deal that accuses the company of failing to do proper due diligence and failing to consider potentially cheaper rockets from its rival SpaceX. SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket has been central to Starlink’s swift deployment. (Source: Reuters)
07 Oct 23. Spain’s PLD Space launches private rocket in milestone for Europe. Spanish company PLD Space launched its recoverable Miura-1 rocket early on Saturday from a site in southwest Spain, carrying out Europe’s first fully private rocket launch in a glimmer of hope for the region’s stalled space ambitions.
The startup’s test nighttime launch from Huelva came after two previous attempts were scrubbed. The Miura-1 rocket, named after a breed of fighting bull, is as tall as a three-storey building and has a 100-kg (220-pound) cargo capacity.
The launch carries a payload for test purposes, but this will not be released, the company said.
Mission control video showed engineers cheering and congratulating one another as the rocket rose into the night sky.
“My voice is shot after so much shouting,” said a triumphant Raul Torres, CEO of PLD Space, shortly after the launch.
He said all rocket systems worked “perfectly”, adding that the company would now focus on tripling its workforce. “This is just the beginning.”
Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez posted on social media: “The launch of the Miura 1, the first rocket with 100% Spanish technology, has been a success. A milestone that positions Spain’s research and development at the forefront of space transportation.”
The flight lasted 306 seconds. However, its maximum height of 46 kilometres was barely half the altitude its mission planners had hoped for, according to space.com.
The partly reusable launcher landed in the Atlantic Ocean and the company will recover it later on Saturday, it said in a statement.
A first attempt to launch the Miura-1 rocket in May was abandoned because of high-altitude winds. A second attempt in June failed when umbilical cables in the avionics bay did not all release in time, halting the lift-off as smoke and flames spewed from the rocket.
Airspace, areas of the sea and roads were closed around the high-security launch site ahead of the third lift-off attempt.
Europe’s efforts to develop capabilities to send small satellites into space are in focus after a failed orbital rocket launch by Virgin Orbit from Britain in January.
That system involved releasing the launcher from a converted Boeing 747. Competitors lining up to join the race to launch small payloads include companies in Scotland, Sweden and Germany.
Saturday’s mission on the Miura-1 demonstrator was the first of two scheduled suborbital missions. However, analysts say the most critical test will be the development of orbital services on the larger Miura-5, planned for 2025.
The small rocket launch took place under the shadow of recent disruption to Europe’s mainstream space activities.
In July, the last launch of Europe’s largest rocket, the premier Ariane 5 space launcher, took place at the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Europe has until recently depended on Ariane 5 and its 11-tonne-plus capacity for heavy missions, as well as Russia’s Soyuz launcher for medium payloads and Italy’s Vega, which is also launched from Kourou, for small ones.
The end of Ariane 5 has left Europe with virtually no autonomous access to space until its successor, Ariane 6, is launched.
Russia halted access to Soyuz in response to European sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, the upgraded Vega-C has been grounded for technical reasons, and Ariane 6 is delayed until next year.
The European Space Agency said last week that Vega-C would not return to service until the fourth quarter of 2024, following a failed mission last December. (Source: Reuters)
10 Oct 23. Kymeta Launches First Multi-Orbit, On-the-Move Flat-Panel Antenna for Military Users Building upon proven expertise in providing resilient communications for demanding military environments, the Kymeta Osprey TM u8 HGL, a hybrid GEO-LEO terminal, will be commercially available in early Q1 2024 Redmond, WA — October 10, 2023 – World-leading flat-panel satellite antenna company, Kymeta (www.kymetacorp.com), announced today at AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition the launch of the Osprey u8 HGL, a hybrid geostationary/low Earth orbit (GEO/LEO) terminal purpose-built for military users. Leveraging Eutelsat Group’s (formally known as OneWeb) LEO satellite network, the Osprey u8 HGL is a complete, customizable solution that can be easily mounted on a wide array of military vehicles and vessels, providing connectivity on-the-move. This marks the first commercially available multi-orbit terminal and the first multi-orbit terminal on Eutelsat Group’s LEO network. Kymeta is taking orders now, with the first shipments set to go out in early Q1 2024. This new hybrid solution builds upon Kymeta’s existing portfolio of products and expertise. Kymeta’s military-focused Osprey u8 GEO terminal was launched in March 2022 and is currently in use by multiple branches of the United States Department of Defense in ongoing conflicts. In January 2023, Kymeta launched the Hawk™ u8 LEO, followed closely by the Peregrine™ u8 LEO for maritime customers in March, which have both been type approved on the LEO network, with shipments going out daily to global customers. With the Osprey u8 HGL, Kymeta will deliver truly resilient, autoPACE ready communications for the armed forces to meet the demands of challenging and rugged military environments. The multi-orbit capabilities of the Osprey u8 HGL will offer even greater availability, while being durable, highly customizable, low power, low visibility, and easy to use, requiring no satcom expertise. “In today’s modern military environments, connectivity on the move has cemented itself as one of the critical keys to success,” said Walter Berger, President and Co-CEO, Kymeta. “More than any sector, the military demands truly reliable, flexible, and durable on-the-move communications to enable its operational and training requirements. Our new terminal delivers military customers the resilient communications they need by allowing them to easily switch between LEO and GEO multi-orbit networks, always ensuring availability and redundancy. With the collaboration of both Eutelsat and OneWeb, now Eutelsat Group, we’re proud to continue our proven track record with the military to provide innovative, market-leading solutions.”
Chris Moore, retired 2* RAF Officer and VP Defence & Security at Eutelsat OneWeb added, “Each orbit has its unique strengths, so if you combine LEO and GEO together, you get the benefits of both, especially if you create a multi-layered architecture to make them work together. It’s this that will prove invaluable to armed forces, with users being able to route their data via the most optimal means.
“By partnering with Kymeta and its innovative terminal solutions like the Osprey u8 HGL, we can provide militaries with fast, high bandwidth and low latency connectivity – wherever they are in the world.” “The Kymeta Osprey u8 HGL multi-orbit on-the-move antenna is a leap forward in innovation, offering warfighters in military environments a lifeline when no other communications source might be available,” said Kevin Steen, CEO of OneWeb Technologies the U.S. proxy of Eutelsat OneWeb.
“We are proud to put this innovative new LEO-GEO multi-orbit solution in the hands of our U.S. military customers, empowering them with unmatched, truly reliable and resilient global connectivity capabilities.”
Kymeta is the industry leader in flat panel satellite antennas, providing purpose-built solutions across a variety of enterprise and military applications and unlocking the commercial value of space to address the vast, unmet demand for ubiquitous broadband and truly mobile connectivity for customers around the world. Its innovative metasurface technology, coupled with a software-first approach, delivers the first commercially available, metamaterial-based and electronically steered flat panel satellite antenna. Kymeta’s low-cost, low power and high throughput solutions make it easy to connect on the move or while stationary – for any vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or fixed platform – enabling industries on earth to transform their operations by harnessing capacity in space. Kymeta is a privately held company based in Redmond, Washington. For more information, visit kymetacorp.co
06 Oct 23. United Launch Alliance’s successful launch of Amazon’s Protoflight mission. The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Protoflight mission for Amazon’s Project Kuiper lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 2:06 p.m. EDT on October 6.
Photo by United Launch Alliance
Success. A picture perfect launch as Atlas V precisely delivers initial Project Kuiper prototype satellites.
A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Protoflight mission for Amazon’s Project Kuiper lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 2:06 p.m. EDT on October 6. Photo by United Launch
Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., (October 6, 2023) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Protoflight mission for Amazon’s Project Kuiper lifted off on Oct. 6 at 2:06 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. To date, ULA has launched 158 times with 100 percent mission success. The Protoflight launch is the first mission in a broader commercial partnership between ULA and Amazon to launch the majority of the Project Kuiper constellation.
“This initial launch is the first step in support of deployment of Amazon’s initiative to provide fast, affordable broadband service to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We have worked diligently in partnership with the Project Kuiper team to launch this important mission that will help connect the world. We look forward to continuing and building on the partnership for future missions.”
ULA’s next launch is the inaugural Vulcan mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The next generation Vulcan rocket will offer unprecedented flexibility in a single system with streamlined operations and greater affordability, while continuing to provide unmatched reliability and orbital precision.
Amazon purchased nine Atlas 5 launches for its internet constellation along with 38 flights aboard the forthcoming Vulcan rocket.
The Atlas V’s missions is used for interplanetary missions, military payloads and cargo deliveries to ISS. ULA’s Atlas V’s record includes more than 75 successful launches (as of March 2018) with no failures and is credited as one of ‘the most reliable in the world’ having launched the Pluto-bound New Horizons mission, the top-secret X-37B space plane and the Mars Curiosity rover.
In the future the Atlas V rocket will also be used to launch the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
Roll to Pad: Atlas V Project Kuiper Protoflight
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is transported from the Vertical Integration Facility to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in preparation to launch Amazon’s Project Kuiper Protoflight mission. (Source: Satnews)
04 Oct 23. SpaceX launches 22 Starlinks making this the 70th successful launch of the year. The cameras at the launch site were visibly shaking due to the strong winds, but the launch took place to everyone’s relief.
SpaceX launches … After numerous delays beginning on the evening of October 4th the launch took place in the wee hours of Thursday, October 5th.
SpaceX did not give a reason for the delay but high winds are buffeting the area.
The U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, based at Cape Canaveral, is warning of scattered showers rolling in off the Atlantic and breezy winds. They predict a 50-50 chance of a weather rule violation, with cumulus clouds and liftoff winds being the major concerns.
Following stage separation, the first stage landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX photo from Friday, September 29 launch
SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, October 4 at 10:45 p.m. ET for a Falcon 9 launch of 22 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This is the 70th mission of the year.
If needed, four backup opportunities are available starting at 11:38 p.m. ET until 1:57 a.m. ET on Thursday, October 5. Six backup opportunities are also currently available on Thursday, October 5 starting at 10:29 p.m. ET until 1:49 a.m. ET on Friday, October 6.
This is the eighth flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched CRS-26, OneWeb Launch 16, Intelsat IS-40e, and four Starlink missions. Following stage separation, the first stage will land on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX Starlink launches for October currently reveal only one on Wednesday, October 4, at 7:16 PM from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral SFS, Florida. The $67.0m launch on Falcon 9 will carry a batch of Starlink v2-mini satellites for their second generation high-speed Low Earth Orbit internet satellite constellation.
According to Wikipedia, as of August 2023, Starlink consists of over 5,000 mass-produced small satellites in Low Earth Orbit which communicate with designated ground transceivers providing internet to more than 2 m subscribers. (Source: Satnews)
01 Oct 23. SSTL + QuantX Labs partner to propel Australian quantum clock technology into space. Australian quantum technology into space. QuantX Labs quantum advancements to new heights through its KAIROS mission, which culminates in the launch into LEO and demo a nexgen optical atomic clock that promises to advance space-based, PNT (position, navigation and timing) capabilities.
QuantX Labs’ KAIROS Mission is the company’s space- based segment to provide an alternate, sovereign, PNT solution. The KAIROS Mission provides reliable, protected and precise timing signals to critical systems on the Earth and in Deep-Space. Encrypted timing signals assure integrity of the timing and position information.
The optical atomic clock, which was initially developed at the Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing at the University of Adelaide and supported by funding from the SmartSat CRC, will now undergo crucial developments to become space-ready. This evolution will be guided by the expertise of SSTL’s proficient system engineering team and propelled by the Australian Space Agency‘s Moon to Mars Demonstrator program.
A noteworthy benefit of this partnership is SSTL’s role as a provider of space systems engineering as well as a conduit to uplift the skill set of QuantX Labs engineering team, advancing Australia’s space technology and advancing the skills base in the space sector. QuantX Labs quantum expertise with SSTL’s deep space heritage in previous programs with European Space Agency (ESA) and involvement in NASA’s GNSS program, will form the foundations required to instigate groundbreaking advancements in PNT services for Australia.
The culmination of this collaborative effort is slated for early 2026, when QuantX Labs will launch and demonstrate its precision timing technology in low Earth orbit. A rigorous journey of testing and preliminary launches is planned over the coming years to validate the reliability and performance of the innovative quantum technologies in the space environment.
“QuantX Labs is thrilled to announce its collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), a global leader in small satellite technology and systems engineering consulting. This collaboration adds a crucial layer of expertise to our KAIROS mission, providing confidence that we will deliver robust engineering solutions and unparalleled reliability as we venture into space.” — Professor Andre Luiten, Managing Director of QuantX Labs
“SSTL is delighted to be collaborating with QuantX Labs, bringing our world-renowned space engineering expertise to support QuantX Labs next-generation optical atomic clock and the KARIOS mission.” — Clive Oates, Head of SSTL, Australia
“The Australian Government has identified quantum as a critical technology in the national interest. QuantX Labs’ quantum clock technology has the potential to transform the positioning, navigation, and timing services that underpin our daily lives, and we’re proud to provide support through the Australian Government’s Demonstrator Program. By drawing on SSTL’s extensive space engineering expertise to help get its quantum clock into orbit, QuantX Labs will be able to start developing valuable space heritage.” — Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency. (Source: Satnews)
01 Oct 23. IonQ announces deal with the Air Force Research Lab for quantum networking R&D. The deal comes one year after IonQ announced an agreement with AFRL to provide access to the company’s trapped ion systems and will further enhance AFRL’s research mission. As part of the contract, IonQ will deliver and set up systems at AFRL’s location in Rome, New York. This announcement follows an upswing of activity by the U.S. federal government supporting development of quantum technology, including Congress’ 2018 creation of the National Quantum Initiative (NQI), a broad, interagency program that secured funding for quantum research and development.
In the second quarter of 2023, IonQ achieved a record-setting $28 m in bookings. The deal also comes on the heels of a contract IonQ signed with Switzerland-based QuantumBasel to establish a European, quantum data center.
“AFRL is seeing incredible achievements on trapped ion quantum systems to enable and grow U.S. quantum technology, the innovation occurring on the front lines by industry will bring revolutionary technologies to our warfighters.” — Michael Hayduk, Deputy Director, Information DIrectorate, Air Force Research Laboratory
“As IonQ’s systems approach 64 algorithmic qubits (#AQ 64) and usher in the era of enterprise-grade, quantum computing, we are committed to supporting the nation’s security interests. This partnership will significantly help advance U.S. defense technologies as quantum computers increasingly become a prevalent centerpiece of national computing stacks. This agreement with AFRL will advance quantum communications, networking, and computing, while continuing our progress from basic research to directly supporting agency missions.” — Peter Chapman, CEO, Ion. (Source: Satnews)
04 Oct 23. Russian Luch (Olymp) 2 satellite approaching multiple GEO spacecraft. In recent days, Slingshot’s machine learning-based, object profiling engine has identified multiple maneuvers by the new Luch (Olymp) 2 satellite that are highly reminiscent of the behavior exhibited by its predecessor – suggesting that perhaps Luch (Olymp) 2 is now picking up where Luch (Olymp) left off. This behavior has resulted in numerous close approaches with other satellites in geosynchronous orbit. [You can read more about Luch (Olymp)’s behavior in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Space Threat Assessment 2023]
Slingshot’s machine learning-based, object profiling engine processes data from multiple sources to continuously and autonomously monitor the behavior of all GEO spacecraft – providing near, real-time, automated alerts of anomalous behavior by spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit, and generating valuable insights for space operators and nearby satellite operators.
Shortly after Luch (Olymp) 2 initiated its maneuver on September 26, 2023, Slingshot’s maneuver detection algorithms determined that Luch (Olymp) 2 had begun drifting westward at a rate of ~1°/day, before slowing its drift to ~.3°/day on October 2, 2023, near ~3° East, where it appears it will visit another “neighborhood” of GEO spacecraft.
After detecting the Luch (Olymp) 2 maneuver, the Slingshot Global Sensor Network validated the behavior identified by Slingshot’s algorithms and provided additional insights regarding the nature of the activity, with two projected close approaches of ~16 km and ~61 km taking place near ~2.9° East and ~3.1° East, respectively. (Source: Satnews)
09 Oct 23. Comtech (NASDAQ: CMTL) announced today that it was recently awarded a U.S. Army contract with a maximum ceiling value of $544m.
Under the contract, Comtech will provide onsite professional engineering services, as well as supply and support the company’s market leading satellite and terrestrial networking communications technologies for the Project Manager (PM) Tactical Network (TN) for the Global Field Service Representative (GFSR) support program.
The GFSR program provides ongoing communications and IT infrastructure support for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and NATO-enabling U.S. and coalition forces to maintain robust, resilient, and secure connectivity for global all-domain operations in all environments.
“This contract award further demonstrates the differentiated value of our networked communications technologies, as well as the unique, comprehensive domain expertise of our people providing professional engineering services for critical U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) missions across a comprehensive array of government programs,” said Ken Peterman, President and CEO, Comtech. “Comtech’s professional engineering services and our extensive portfolio of resilient, blended, smart-enabled networked communications technologies will help the DoD and coalition partners maintain an assured information advantage in an age of Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) operations.”
This task order was awarded on Comtech’s existing contract with the U.S. Army, which leverages the ten-year, $5.1 bn Global Tactical Communications Systems (GTACS) II indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle. Comtech was initially selected as one of multiple GTACS II IDIQ awardees in 2020. The GTACS II contract is designed to support of the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), and PM TN. GTACS II provides the rapid acquisition of a wide range of C3T hardware, software, engineering services and logistics support services with an emphasis on tactical satellite communications.
Comtech’s portfolio of defense technologies and services, including those provided under this contract, are uniquely positioned to deliver capabilities that will enhance CJADC2 operations. The company has extensive experience developing and deploying customized, interoperable, robust, and resilient communications systems for all branches of the DoD and coalition forces. Comtech’s expansive portfolio of defense and security technologies is designed to continuously evolve over time to meet emerging Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) use cases and enhance mission effectiveness in future all-domain command and control operations.
09 Oct 23. The Airbus-built THEOS-2 Earth observation satellite has been successfully launched on a Vega rocket from Kourou, Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency of Thailand (GISTDA) selected Airbus as partner for its next-generation national geo-information system in 2018.
Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, said: “This successful launch of THEOS-2, with its 50cm imagery, confirms Thailand’s position in the small circle of nations with sovereign access to high resolution geostrategic information. We will continue to support GISTDA’s ambitions to establish an all-encompassing geo-information system for the benefit of the Kingdom of Thailand.”
THEOS-2 follows the Airbus-built THEOS-1 satellite launched in 2008, which still continues to deliver imagery well beyond its 10-year operational lifetime. In the frame of THEOS-2 programme, GISTDA’s geo-information system benefits from satellite imagery collected by the Airbus constellation of optical and radar Earth observation satellites such as Pléiades and TerraSAR-X.
The contract also includes a second Earth observation satellite – THEOS-2 SmallSAT – from Airbus’ subsidiary SSTL, combined with a comprehensive capacity building programme involving Thai engineers in the development of applications, ground segment and the SmallSAT spacecraft itself. THEOS-2 SmallSAT is based on SSTL’s CARBONITE series of Earth observation spacecraft and has been delivered to Thailand.
SSTL also proposes a training programme for GISTDA to enable Thai engineers to design, manufacture, integrate and test similar small satellites in Thailand in the future.
The images from THEOS-2 programme will be key for GISTDA’s future Thai Earth observation system which will be used for supporting various aspects, including but not limited to, social and security management, city and economic corridor management, natural resource and ecosystem management, water management, disaster management and agricultural management.
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.