Sponsored By Viasat
21 Oct 23. UKSA And JAXA Confirm Bilateral Collaboration For Viasat And MHI To Develop Inrange Satellite-Based Launch Telemetry System For Japanese H3 Launch Vehicle. The UK Space Agency (UKSA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have agreed to start bilateral collaboration to develop an in-orbit telemetry relay service, called “InRange”, which will be demonstrated on the H3 launch vehicle.
The bilateral collaboration for InRange builds upon the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed between both space agencies in 2021. Under this framework, InRange is jointly funded through UKSA’s International Bilateral Fund for the development of a new in-orbit telemetry relay service for space launch vehicles using Inmarsat-Viasat ’s global L-band network in geosynchronous orbit by Viasat and through JAXA for the transmitter and antenna development for the H3 launch vehicle by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI).
The UKSA contract announced today for Viasat is valued at £1.7m.
Viasat’s InRange service will reduce the dependency of launch providers on traditional ground-based infrastructure by providing a global in-orbit telemetry solution, using Viasat’s geostationary ELERA L-band satellite network.
By using the InRange service for the H3 Launch vehicle, launch trajectories can be optimized by removing reliance of line-of-sight coverage with ground stations during critical stages of the launch. In some cases, this will also reduce the fuel required to deliver spacecraft into orbit which will increase the mass available for the launch customer’s payload.
Viasat and MHI will work in collaboration to validate the InRange service and demonstrate the capability on an H3 launch. Japanese company NEC Space Technologies, Ltd. will also take part in this project, focusing on the L-band transmitter design which will be integrated into the H3 launch vehicle by MHI. JAXA will collaborate with the parties and play a technical role in integrating InRange into the ground infrastructure.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “the InRange service will be transformative for launch capabilities around the world, helping to make launch more sustainable by reducing both fuel needs and pressure on ground-based systems, so that spacecraft can take off on their journeys more efficiently.
“The UK Space Agency’s commitment to this project with ViaSat, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and our counterparts at JAXA, through our International Bilateral Fund, puts into practice our firm belief that space is a team sport and that working together with organisations around the world is what enables us to break the barriers of space technology.”
Gary Lay, Vice President of Viasat’s Global Government department, said: “we are delighted to be chosen as a flagship project that demonstrates the deepening ties between the UK and Japan’s respective space industries. We believe Viasat are ideally positioned to provide a reliable, responsive and cost-effective global telemetry system using our unique L-band ELERA network for Japan’s sovereign launch capability.”
Masashi Okada, Project Manager, H3 Project Team, Space Transportation Technology Directorate of JAXA, said: “JAXA remains delighted to announce the launch of the InRange project. We would like to thank the UK Space Agency for selecting the InRange project as a project that will contribute to strengthening the economic and strategic relations between the UK and Japan in space. The InRange service will increase the flexibility of the H3’s flight trajectories, and that will enable the H3 to meet the diverse needs of the launch customers than before. We will step up our efforts so as to successfully deliver the second test flight and will continue to promote the development of the H3 by realizing this project.”
Atsutoshi Tamura, Vice President and Senior General Manager of Space Systems at MHI said: ‘MHI is delighted to work with Viasat on this innovative project, InRange. During planning of a launch vehicle’s flight trajectories, we sometimes experience constraints due to limited visibility of the launch vehicle from ground stations. We believe that InRange is a solution that reduces such constrains and it will help us to continue to provide flexible launch services to a wide range of customers, for example commercial satellite operators and those planning planetary missions. We hope that this project will promote further collaboration between the UK and Japan in the space development industry.” (Source: ASD Network)
25 Oct 23. MDA Ltd. (TSX: MDA), a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly expanding global space industry, announced today at its Earth Insight customer conference that it has selected SpaceX to be the launch service provider for CHORUS, MDA’s next generation Earth observation constellation. CHORUS is targeted to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in the Q4 2025 launch window from Florida.
A collaborative multi-sensor constellation, CHORUS will bring together diverse and unique imagery and data sources and provide a new level of near real-time insight and innovative Earth observation services. Operating in a unique mid-inclination orbit, CHORUS will be able to image day or night, regardless of weather conditions, with daily access of up to 95% of the coverage area. From an industry-leading 700km-wide imaging swath down to sub-metre high resolution, CHORUS will provide the most extensive and unrivalled Earth observation radar imaging capacity available on the market in a single mission.
“The production of CHORUS is well underway and we are looking forward to once again working with SpaceX to launch our next generation Earth observation capability,” said Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA. “The Earth is big, dynamic and evolving daily, and our ability to see, measure and analyze what is happening in near real-time – and over time – is imperative to meeting the needs of our global customer base. The insight that CHORUS will provide to governments, companies and organizations around the world will drive decisions and action, and will help to solve some of the biggest problems facing our planet.”
In 2013, MDA became the first commercial customer to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Designed and manufactured by SpaceX, Falcon 9 is the world’s first and only orbital class reusable rocket.
With multiple sensors operating in a unique mid-inclination orbit, CHORUS will support higher imaging frequency between the mid-latitude areas of the northern and southern hemispheres. With tipping and cueing techniques, higher imaging performance, more imaging time per orbit, fast-tasking, faster delivery timelines and near real-time data exploitation aided by machine-learning and artificial intelligence, CHORUS will offer advanced, innovative Earth observation services, including:
- Protection of national security and sovereignty by providing critical time-sensitive data and intelligence on maritime and land activities;
- Detection of illegal activities such as overfishing, deforestation or bilge water dumping;
- Monitoring of critical infrastructure, transportation corridors, coastal erosion, land subsidence and the effects of climate change;
- Provision of timely information to support humanitarian aid and disaster response in the aftermath of floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes and marine oil spills; and
- Routine systematic observations for a variety of natural resources, industrial and geographic applications including agriculture, forestry, mining and exploration activities.
Through Canada’s successful RADARSAT program, MDA has created an internationally recognized reputation for excellence in near-real time, broad area, commercial SAR data for mission critical applications. The RADARSAT series includes RADARSAT-1 (1995), RADARSAT-2 (2007) and the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (2019). CHORUS will be MDA’s fourth generation Earth observation mission. (Source: PR Newswire)
27 Oct 23. US and Australia finalise ‘game-changing’ launch deal. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has signed off on a landmark deal in Washington that will allow more US satellites and rockets to blast off from Australian launch sites.
The two countries have been negotiating the “Technology Safeguards Agreement” since October 2021 and confirmation it’s been completed comes after an in-principal understanding was reached in May.
Currently, launching US spacecraft in Australia is difficult, given concerns about protecting sensitive US technology. However, the TSA will remove many of the barriers faced by firms in both countries.
Equatorial Launch Australia, which operates a spaceport in the Northern Territory, said the announcement clears the way for it to finalise new contracts, while South Australia’s Southern Launch described the breakthrough was a “game-changer” for the local industry.
PM Albanese signed the deal in Washington on Thursday with the US’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, but it still requires ratification by the Australian Parliament.
“Once it enters into force, American companies will be able to complete space launches from Australia while keeping their technology secure and adhering to our international nonproliferation commitments,” said Blinken.
“In Australia, American companies will have access to more high-quality launch sites so that they can increase the frequency of their operations.
“They’ll be closer to the equator, where the Earth spins the fastest, so their rockets get an extra boost and use less fuel. And, of course, Americans will gain some brilliant Australian colleagues.
“By opening new doors for the private sector, we’ll grow investment between our countries and help create good-paying jobs in both countries.
“And we’ll also help provide more opportunities for American and Australian firms to continue innovating and innovating together.
“Whether they’re using satellites to make GPS navigation more accurate or developing spacecraft to study the universe, these companies will help shape the future for our people, and for our planet, for decades to come.”
Southern Launch, which oversees both the Koonibba Test Range and Whalers Way Complex in SA, said the TSA will make launching US technology easier.
“This creates a circular process that will benefit the wider local space industry and put the skills and capabilities of Australian space companies to the forefront of the global space market,” said chief executive officer Lloyd Damp.
“Not to mention the incredible benefits that in-space manufacturing can provide to everyone in society – the TSA paves the way for a new era of space potential.”
ELA’s CEO, Michael Jones, said his business had been negotiating with US rocket manufacturers for several years now, and his team have been awaiting the TSA’s completion.
“Today’s events are great news for us and clears the way for us to finalise our contracts with US launchers.
“The agreement with the US will be the most comprehensive and detailed TSA of its kind for any nation and there has been a lot of effort by key Australian space industry parties and government entities behind the scenes to ensure we get it right.”
(Source: Space Connect)
25 Oct 23. Atlas, other ‘troubled’ Space Force programs to miss 2023 deliveries. The Space Force will not meet its target to deliver three long-delayed programs by the end of this year, despite a push from the service’s top acquisition official.
The projects include the Next Generation Operational Control Segment, or OCX, an in-demand ground system designed to operate modern GPS satellites; the Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System, dubbed ATLAS, a key space command-and-control system; and the Military GPS User Equipment program, MGUE, which is developing cards that enable anti-jam capabilities for GPS receivers.
“The current schedule for all three programs indicate they will not deliver in 2023,” Space Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told C4ISRNET in an Oct. 20 statement.
Since being named the first assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration last year, Frank Calvelli has challenged the Space Force to move faster to develop and acquire new systems. He’s issued a list of nine “tenets,” or guideposts, for acquisition programs, which calls for smaller and simpler designs, greater use of existing technology, improved coordination between contractors and government program managers and accountability for poor performance.
He’s also set a goal of delivering the ground systems that support satellite operations, data processing and decision-making on faster timelines — a long-time challenge for the service.
Calvelli’s first public push for these “long-standing, troubled programs” to achieve their fielding targets came in January. Speaking at a National Security Space Association conference, he said delivering these systems was a high priority.
“These albatrosses . . . have been dragging the department down for decades,” Frank Calvelli said Jan. 24 speech at a National Security Space Association Conference. “This is the year we’re going to get these programs delivered.”
Ten months later, not only are the programs unable to meet their end-of-year goal, they have accumulated additional delays over the last year that will push their delivery into next summer.
OCX was originally slated to field in 2016, but schedule uncertainty has been a persistent challenge for the program.
RTX, formerly Raytheon Technologies, is developing the system and delivered the first capability increment, Block 0, in 2017. Block 0 can support launches of GPS III satellites, the newest variant of the system, but can’t operate them once in orbit. Blocks 1 and 2 will provide that capability along with better performance and protections against cyber threats.
The program’s previous schedule called for blocks 1 and 2 to be delivered last January, but technical issues discovered during software testing delayed that plan until next spring. The service now expects OCX to deliver in June of 2024, according to McAndrews.
The Government Accountability Office said in a June report that a technical issue with the GPS System Simulator used for testing also contributed to the delivery delay.
RTX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
McAndrews said the service has “increased the frequency of senior level engagements” on the program, indicating those measures have “motivated changes in the vendor’s staffing posture as well as improvements in their test procedures and approach.”
While OCX development is led by a prime contractor, Space Systems Command serves as the lead integrator for the Space Command and Control program, which includes ATLAS.
Space C2 is comprised of several other hardware and software development efforts, but it’s the analysis and data processing capabilities from ATLAS that will allow the Space Force to decommission its 1970s-era Space Defense Operations Center, known as SPADOC.
The baseline capability for ATLAS, developed by L3Harris, is slated for delivery next August, McAndrews said. The service had previously expected the program’s minimum viable capability release at the end of this year, a milestone that had already been delayed from late 2022.
Once delivered, the system will enter a trial period before it’s validated for operations. The schedule for that trial phase is still being finalized, McAndrews said.
ATLAS development challenges are largely linked to the difficulty of coordinating the many capabilities that make up the Space C2 system, which is the Space Force’s role as the prime integrator. To address those issues, the service last year implemented a systems engineering and integration team and shifted personnel to focus on ATLAS delivery.
In a statement to C4ISRNET, L3Harris said the company is “working collaboratively” with the Space Force to complete the ATLAS capabilities required for initial operations by next August. In the meantime, the company has been making incremental deliveries, recently beginning its fifth such test event with SSC and the 18th Space Defense Squadron, the company said.
“We will continue collaborating with all parties to help meet timelines associated with SPADOC decommissioning and build upon the recent successes of our software deliverables,” spokeswoman Christina Hoggatt said in an Oct. 24 statement. “The community continues to work collaboratively to ensure capability transition and reliability are top of mind for delivery to the warfighter.”
RTX and L3Harris both have a role in MGUE, a phased effort to make the GPS receivers used across the services more resilient against enemy jamming and spoofing attempts. For Increment 1, L3Harris is developing the receiver cards for land systems and RTX is providing the aviation and maritime cards.
Increment 1 development began in 2017, and has faced continued development challenges linked, in part, to changing production plans. A June report from GAO highlighted progress on the effort, but warned that delays in the first increment’s integration could impact other parts of the program.
L3Harris has completed development of the ground cards, which are now being integrated and fielded. McAndrews said the maritime and aviation cards were certified last April to start testing and are expected to complete their final milestones next year. Specifically, the aviation card should be certified to begin operational test on the B-2 bomber in July and the maritime card on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer next October.
She said the program is “executing to its current acquisition program baseline.” Like on OCX, officials are closely monitoring the effort “to ensure compliance with performance standards.”
The Space Force didn’t provide details about what measures the service has taken to hold the companies accountable for any cost increases and schedule delays that are linked to their performance, though L3Harris said its contract terms and fee structures for ATLAS “remain unchanged.”
Asked whether RTX or L3Harris had been placed on the Contractor Responsibility Watch List — established in the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act as an acquisition oversight tool — McAndrews said the service “doesn’t comment publicly on specific Space Contractor Responsibility Watch List actions.”
The Space Force can place companies on the list for schedule and performance issues and could bar them from receiving new work.
Calvelli has indicated he would make use of the list when it’s warranted. In a November 2022 memo, he instructed the acquisition workforce to “not tolerate [the] bad performance that we have seen in some traditional large satellite and large ground . . . contracts.”
“Take corrective action and consider all tools available for poor performers including loss of fee, use of the Contractor Responsibility Watch List, and if necessary, stopping programs,” he wrote. “Industry works for you, so be a demanding customer.”
Moving forward, Calvelli is working with the space acquisition community to take a different approach to developing ground systems. Rather than field large, complex capabilities all at once, he wants programs to focus on smaller requirement sets that can deliver at a faster pace.
One example is the Rapid Resilient Command and Control program, or R2C2. The effort is an outgrowth of Space Systems Command’s Enterprise Ground Services program, or EGS, and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office’s Ground Command, Control and Communications program.
EGS, in particular, sought to bring together the service’s disparate network of ground command-and-control systems, but according to officials, its scope was too broad. In an attempt to narrow the program’s focus and deliver the capability more quickly, Calvelli reduced its requirements and shifted the program to the Space RCO in February.
Col. Greg Hoffman, director of the Space RCO’s strategic capabilities acquisition delta, said during an Oct. 19 Space Industry Day event that while past programs tried to “take on everything at once,” R2C2 and other ground programs moving forward will take a more simplified approach.
“Whereas legacy programs tried to take on a lot of scope, a lot of complexity, [and] focused on the entirety of the Space Force mission, we are simplified in our direction,” he said. “Right out of the chute, we have a much simpler problem to solve.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
25 Oct 23. Today, Unseenlabs, the world leader in radio frequency (RF) data and solutions dedicated to maritime vessel geolocation, is announcing the upcoming launch of BRO-10 and BRO-11, the 10th and 11th satellites of its pioneering constellation committed to ships detection at sea. The satellites are slated to lift off no earlier than November 2023 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 via Exolaunch for the Transporter-9 Mission. This is a significant leap in Unseenlabs’ technological advancement and service expansion.
Unseenlabs transcends conventional boundaries by providing unparalleled RF data, ensuring detailed vessel characterization and precise geolocation, finding application across a multitude of sectors worldwide, including governmental entities, NGOs, insurers, and more. As the global maritime landscape experiences a surge in ship activities, the necessity for a technology that extends reliable, large-scale monitoring is paramount.
With the addition of BRO-10 and BRO-11 to its satellite constellation, Unseenlabs amplifies its capability to deliver pivotal RF data and solutions to an ever-growing international customer base. The extended satellite fleet signifies not merely an enlargement of operational scope, but also an enhanced ability to monitor and characterize vessels globally, underscoring a tangible commitment to safeguarding marine assets and environments against illicit activities and threats.
Currently, Unseenlabs boasts a team of 70 and anticipates surmounting the milestone of 100 employeesin the forthcoming year, reflecting a company in robust growth and systematic structuration. Thisstrategic expansion solidifies Unseenlabs’ position as an undisputed global leader in maritimesurveillance solutions, as substantiated by its burgeoning client roster and heightened industryrecognition.
Jonathan Galic, CTO and Co-founder of Unseenlabs, remarked:
“The deployment of BRO-10 and BRO-11 symbolizes a vital juncture in our unwavering commitment tooffering technological solutions in maritime surveillance. Our unparalleled technology and dedicatedteam form the bedrock upon which our clients derive actionable insights, safeguarding their maritimeassets, and the larger marine environment.”
To accommodate its growth, in May of this year, Unseenlabs relocated to new, expansive headquarters, amove illustrative of both its present and futures ambitions. The new space not only facilitates streamlinedoperations but also provides an enriched environment to foster innovation and collaborative synergiesamong the expanding team.
Unseenlabs is the world leader radio frequency (RF) data and solutions provider for Maritime Domain Awareness. Its uniquetechnology allows the geolocation and characterization of any vessel at sea, at any time of the day or night, anywhere on theglobe, and in any weather conditions. Unseenlabs provides its customers with high added value data and solutions to fightagainst illegal activities at sea. Unseenlabs’ solutions represent a world benchmark in both space and maritime sectors.
25 Oct 23. Rocket Lab Receives Federal Aviation Administration Authorization to Resume Launches. Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume Electron launches from Launch Complex 1.
The authorization comes after Rocket Lab experienced an in-flight anomaly on September 19th during the Company’s 41st Electron launch. The FAA, the federal licensing body for U.S. launch vehicles, has now confirmed that Rocket Lab’s launch license remains active, which is the first step to enable launches to resume. Rocket Lab is now finalizing a meticulous review into the anomaly’s root cause, a process that involves working through an extensive fault tree to exhaust all potential causes for the anomaly, as well as completing a comprehensive test campaign to recreate the issue on the ground. The FAA is providing oversight of Rocket Lab’s mishap investigation to ensure Rocket Lab complies with its FAA-approved mishap investigation plan and other regulatory requirements. In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was granted official observer status to the investigation. The full review is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, with Rocket Lab currently anticipating a return to flight later this quarter with corrective measures in place.
During the September 19th mission, Electron completed a successful lift-off, first stage burn and stage separation as planned, before an issue was experienced at around two and a half minutes into flight shortly after second stage engine ignition. Flight data shows Electron’s first stage performed as expected during the mission and did not contribute to the anomaly.
“After more than 40 launches, Electron is a proven, mature design with a well-established manufacturing process behind it, so we knew the fault was going to be something complex and extremely rare that hasn’t presented in testing or flight before,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Our investigation team with FAA oversight has worked around the clock since the moment of the anomaly to uncover all possible root causes, replicate them in test, and determine a path for corrective actions to avoid similar failure modes in future. We look forward to sharing the details of the review once it is fully complete ahead of returning to flight this quarter.”
Electron is the second most frequently launched U.S. launch vehicle annually, relied upon by government and commercial satellite operators globally. Prior to the September 19th mission, Electron had completed 20 consecutive successful orbital launches and 37 successful missions total, deploying 171 satellites to orbit. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
25 Oct 23. UK Space Agency and Axiom Space sign agreement on plans for historic human spaceflight mission. Astronauts from the United Kingdom could fly to space on a future Axiom Space mission, thanks to a new agreement signed between the UK Space Agency and the Houston-based space company.
The UK Space Agency and Axiom Space logos, seen from space with the sun rising in the background.
The agreement between the UK Space Agency and Axiom Space sets out plans for the 2 organisations to work together to pursue a commercially sponsored, UK astronaut mission. The announcement comes as Science Minister George Freeman, is due to open the London Stock Exchange today (25 October), where he will speak about opportunities to bring further investment into the UK space sector.
On this future flight, the UK astronauts would launch to space, spending up to two weeks on orbit to carry out scientific research, demonstrate new technologies, and participate in education and outreach activities.
The mission would build on the UK government’s National Space Strategy and the UK Science and Technology Framework, which highlights the important contribution of international relationships to the UK’s capabilities and identifies five critical technologies; Artificial Intelligence, engineering biology, future telecommunications, semiconductors and quantum technologies.
George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:
The prospect of a historic UK mission with Axiom Space has the potential to inspire a whole new generation to reach for the stars, while supporting our efforts to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, so I look forward to seeing the next stage of this exploratory work develop.
We want to put the UK at the forefront of the global race for commercial space investment, continue to support scientists and engineers to test new technologies and carry out important research and, ultimately, bring the benefits back to people and businesses across the country.
Michael Suffredini, Axiom Space CEO, said: “Axiom Space is looking forward to working with the UK Space Agency on a future human spaceflight mission. With this agreement as the initial foundation, we will build a comprehensive mission plan in support of the UK’s national and agency objectives to advance its capabilities in space exploration and discovery. Together, we will look to harness the benefits of microgravity and help push the boundaries of innovation to advance our civilisation.”
The UK Space Agency is calling on UK universities, research institutions and industry to share their ideas for experiments and technology demonstrators which could be conducted by the crew on orbit over a two-week period.
The UK Space Agency is also interested in ideas from UK organisations for a national space education and public engagement programme alongside the mission to highlight the diverse range of rewarding careers available in the space sector, promote STEM uptake, and highlight the powerful role of space in the lives of UK citizens.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This agreement paves the way for UK astronauts to conduct scientific research in orbit, and to inspire ms of us here on Earth. It takes thousands of people to complete a crewed space mission and return the astronauts safely home, highlighting the huge variety of careers available in the UK space sector right now. There is much to do, and this agreement is the springboard for the UK Space Agency, Axiom Space and the mission sponsors to assess how we best push forward the frontiers of knowledge and innovation, and showcase the power of space to improve lives on Earth.”
The UK Space Agency is working with Axiom Space on plans for a commercial mission with the full support of the European Space Agency.
Daniel Neuenschwander, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, said:
ESA is working on Europe’s preparation of the post-ISS era and the development of a sustainable commercial space economy in Low Earth Orbit. This unique flight will allow ESA to enhance its actions with new partnership schemes and implement together with the United Kingdom a series of research experiments, which will further deepen the knowledge on exploration in and for Europe.
UKspace President, Dr Alice Bunn, said: “Since the first astronauts landed on the Moon over 50 years ago, human spaceflight has captured the imagination of bns of people. But space is no longer for the privileged few; we have witnessed incredible growth in the application of space technology and data to everyday lives, and we recognise the immense and specific value of humans being able to push the boundaries of science and technology operating within the unique conditions of space.”
For this reason, the agreement between the UK Space Agency and Axiom Space is an incredibly exciting one, providing the potential to extend the already significant innovation that our UK space sector is spearheading.
Axiom Space is the commercial space industry’s only full-service orbital mission provider, conducting end-to-end crewed missions to the International Space Station. The expert team at Axiom Space is helping nations and organisations build human spaceflight programs, develop astronaut selection programs, and provide the expertise needed to expand the international community of space explorers to a larger and more diverse representation of humanity. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
23 Oct 23. Airbus has enlisted the US defence group Northrop Grumman to bolster its bid for a share of a £6bn programme to build the next generation of communication satellites for the UK armed forces. The pan-European group, which builds satellites in the UK, was already among the contenders to build the giant geostationary military satellites, which will each be about the size of a bus. Airbus will now bid jointly with Northrop after agreeing a wider strategic partnership in military communications for the UK. They face stiff competition from US defence group Lockheed Martin and the Franco-Italian group Thales Alenia Space for the most lucrative portion of the contract: to build up to three wideband-capable satellites that will carry complex data such as video images. The “SkyNet 6” programme is expected to be one of the most hotly contested procurement contracts in the UK in years, underlining the critical role that space will play in the operation of modern militaries. The war in Ukraine has underlined the importance of data and secure communications, and the next generation of warships and fighter jets will rely on the rapid delivery of large amounts of data via satellites. The space industry was worth £17.5bn to the UK economy in 2020/21 and employed close to 50,000 people directly, according to the UK Space Agency. Airbus has operated the existing SkyNet 5 network for the Ministry of Defence for the past 18 years. It was awarded a contract to build the first SkyNet 6A satellite for launch in 2025 three years ago to fill the potential gap in capability before the next group of satellites is procured. The MoD has been keen to open elements of the work to wider competition. The new programme, SkyNet Enduring Capability, is split into two separate contracts: to deliver a constellation of up to three wideband-capable systems for more strategic communication needs, the first of which will be launched in 2028-2030; and a smaller contract to deliver a narrowband service that will be used by soldiers on the battlefield. The tender for the latter is already under way and Airbus, which had already teamed with Northrop Grumman for this contract, has been shortlisted alongside Thales. Airbus will also bid with Northrop for the larger contract after signing a memorandum of understanding with the US company to develop a broader collaboration in the UK. “The US spends more on understanding space than any other country on the planet. The UK has a fantastic capability in space already. Let’s have the best of both worlds,” said Ben Bridge, chair of Airbus Defence and Space UK. Northrop, one of the largest space companies in the world and which led the industry team for Nasa’s James Webb telescope, employs about 1,000 people in the UK. It provides cyber and maritime technology expertise to the Royal Navy among other things. Troy Brashear, vice-president of National Security Systems at Northrop Grumman Space Systems, said the partnership would provide customers with “innovative, reliable and affordable military satellite communications technology”. (Source: FT.com)
13 Oct 23. Success on Friday the 13th for SpaceX Starlinks satellite launch. On Friday, October 13 at 7:01 p.m. ET, Falcon 9 launched 22 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
This was the 14th flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, CRS-25, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G, mPOWER-a, PSN SATRIA, and now six Starlink missions.
This is the 14th flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, CRS-25, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G, mPOWER-a, PSN SATRIA, and five Starlink missions. Following stage separation, the first stage will land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. (Source: Satnews)
15 Oct 23. SSC supported the THEOS-2 launch. SSC is supporting the launch of Thailand’s high-resolution EO optical satellite — THEOS-2 — that was successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, on October 9th at 03:36 AM (CEST). The mission is designed to deliver ground-breaking imagery with a 0.50 meter ground resolution.
THEOS-2 (Thailand Earth Observation System-2) satellite serves as a complement to its predecessor THEOS-1, which was launched in 2008 and will be approaching the end of its operational life in the next few years. The satellite was built by Airbus Defence and Space for a nominal service life of at least 10 years and aims to provide the Kingdom of Thailand with an autonomous capability to acquire high-resolution images from around the world.
With the support of SSC, this mission is set to mark a significant milestone for Thailand’s national geoinformation system. The launch of Thailand’s THEOS-2 satellite is a major step forward in the country’s space technology and geoinformatics development. The satellite’s high-resolution imaging will benefit applications like urban planning, environmental monitoring, agriculture, and disaster management, enhancing Thailand’s capabilities in these crucial areas.
SSC will also continue to provide vital support after the LEOP to the THEOS-2 Control Center at GISTDA (Geo-Informatics & Space Technology Development Agency) in Si Racha, Thailand for its routine operations with full backup and emergency TT&C services.
The THEOS-2 satellite will fly at an altitude of 621 km in SSO and weighted about 425 kg at launch.
“SSC is proud to provide critical LEOP support connectivity services to another Airbus-built satellite mission, and to provide routine TT&C support to the Kingdom of Thailand’s national space agency GISTDA. We have long-term relationships working with both customers, and we are honored to have been selected as their key commercial ground station service provider on this important mission.” — Nick Priborsky, President of SSC Connect ground station services.
“GISTDA and SSC have been working together since the launch of THEOS-1 in 2008. SSC has played a crucial role in not only providing timely S-band communication service for THEOS satellite recovery but also in helping maintain the continuity of satellite data service at GIDSTA’s S-band antenna. SSC also provides flexibility in all aspects to GISTDA, such as full support and commitment from the technical team.” — Chakapanth Priyanupanth, Head of Satellite and Ground System Division, GISTDA. (Source: Satnews)
13 Oct 23. OQ Technology confirms the recent + successful launch of MACSAT smallsat. This pivotal development will strengthen OQ Technology’s space and ground infrastructures, while broadening satellite coverage. The satellite was launched from French Guiana on Sunday, October 8, 2023, and signal was acquired by a ground station in Lithuania.
By deploying the MACSAT satellite and augmenting its existing constellation of five satellites on-orbit, and with an additional four satellites set for a 2023 launch, OQ Technology underscores the deep commitment to the rapidly growing satIoT market. This market is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 20% from 2023 to 2032, with an expected valuation of US$ 18 bn by 2032. OQ Technology is strategically positioned at the vanguard of this shift, poised to seize a significant market portion and elevate its commercial achievements.
At the heart of this revolution lies the integration of 5G technology with satIoT. This combo heralds remarkable commercial advantages for businesses, governments, organizations, and individuals. OQ Technology has successfully connected cellular IoT devices to LEO satellites. As sectors such as energy, logistics, agriculture, maritime, and telecom firms show increasing interest in satellite cellular IoT solutions, OQ Technology is well positioned to cater to a broad range of clientele during the upcoming year.
“We are immensely proud to unveil the successful launch of the MACSAT satellite. I seize this moment to extend gratitude to the Luxembourg Government and the European Space Agency (ESA) for their unwavering trust and support for this mission. This significant stride will bolster both our space and terrestrial infrastructures, and further our commercial triumphs in the future.” — Omar Qaise, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OQ Technology. (Source: Satnews)
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.