Sponsored By Viasat
09 Oct 18. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced the availability of secure cloud-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications over Viasat’s global satellite communications (SATCOM) architecture and line of sight (LOS) tactical network technologies for warfighters on the move. By offering a secure, integrated network of cloud-enabled solutions, Viasat can reduce warfighters’ cognitive loads in order to make more accurate, informed, lifesaving decisions with accelerated speed across the battlespace. At this week’s Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C., Viasat completed a successful connectivity demonstration focused on bringing access to advanced cloud capabilities to the tactical edge. The demo, which was attended by a number of representatives from the U.S. Army, showed how Viasat’s SATCOM architecture and LOS tactical network can provide a holistic communications solution by integrating Link 16, Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking, Wi-Fi and LTE technologies to significantly enhance situational awareness at the tactical edge and fulfill emerging U.S. government concepts of operation. Throughout the demonstration, Viasat’s SATCOM network and LOS technologies provided a secure, high-speed, resilient backbone connection to link connected devices to media-rich AI and machine learning-based applications offered by a number of today’s cloud technology providers.
“Viasat is partnering with global cloud computing leaders to bring advanced AI and machine learning-based operational capabilities to the warfighter—from predictive analytics and media rich intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data to prescriptive outputs,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Through Viasat’s modernized end-to-end communications network, we will empower warfighters with advanced data-driven insights and operational capabilities that will allow them to make the most informed decisions possible—even in the fog of war. Today’s demonstration shows the power of our SATCOM network and LOS innovations to deliver the next-generation internet of battlefield things (IoBT) to significantly improve military readiness and mission effectiveness.”
Viasat will provide ubiquitous and secure SATCOM required to access cloud-enabled military applications via its Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) concept. The HAN provides access to Viasat’s end-to-end SATCOM innovations such as active cyber defense, layered resiliency and elite satellite capacity to support a range of operations requiring IoBT and cloud-based applications. The HAN allows users to seamlessly operate across different networks (both government and private sector), creating an end-to-end layered, resilient network that is unique to Viasat and not offered by any other provider today.
08 Oct 18. During the recent Saber Strike 2018 exercise, which was intended to build readiness across U.S. Army and NATO coalition forces, Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, proved its Multi-Mission Terminal (MMT), known to the United States Department of Defense as the AN/TSC-241, is battlefield ready, and can help warfighters and first responders rapidly communicate during times of crisis. With the Saber Strike field validation, Viasat’s MMT is now battlefield-validated for immediate use and purchase across all U.S. and other Five Eyes (FVEY) military branches, including U.S. and international Special Operations Forces, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marines. Viasat’s MMT delivers high-quality IP-based voice, video and data networking across multiple networks in both highly contested and benign environments around the globe. Using a portable terminal design, the MMT is an ideal networking solution for forward operating bases (FOBs) and emergency response operations, where warfighters and first responders can securely access networks and establish command post communications quickly and easily. Set-up of the MMT proved simple during the field exercise, as field personnel were able to use the MMT’s integrated smartphone app to establish communications in less than thirty minutes with minimal training—which also indicated potential costs savings for military customers.
The Saber Strike 2018 report detailed key performance advantages of Viasat’s MMT, which included:
- Enhanced connectivity with a small footprint: Viasat’s MMT provided Saber Strike forces with enhanced satellite connectivity with a very small logistical footprint. This enabled robust data to be sent to Beyond Line of Sight units, significantly enhancing situational awareness across the battlespace.
- Resilient, high-quality performance on multiple networks: The MMT produced robust throughput on high-capacity Ka-frequency bands throughout the duration of the Saber Strike exercise. In addition, Viasat’s MMT also demonstrated proven satellite connectivity in the Ku-band with enhanced upload and download performance when compared to other legacy systems.
- Added flexibility: One of Viasat’s MMTs operated entirely on batteries during the Saber Strike exercise, demonstrating its logistical flexibility in an austere environment.
- Ease of use: Viasat’s MMT was set up three separate times over the course of the 22 hour maneuver, demonstrating its portability and ease of use for U.S. and international coalition forces. The Saber Strike report noted the improved set-up/take-down of the MMT when compared to legacy terminals.
“The innovative capabilities of our MMT further illustrate Viasat’s ability to quickly deliver cutting-edge technologies for warfighters today, while anticipating and addressing the mission needs of tomorrow,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “The Saber Strike 2018 exercise validates the performance advantages of this portable hybrid terminal across multiple satellite networks and ease of use for both U.S. and international coalition forces.”
The MMT is designed to integrate into Viasat’s Hybrid Adaptive Network architecture, which allows users to seamlessly operate across different networks (both government and private sector), creating an end-to-end network that provides mitigation against congestion situations, intentional and unintentional interference sources and cyber threats through implementation of layered resiliency in highly contested environments. In addition, the MMT’s Software Defined Modem (CBM-400) will allow customers to switch between multiple waveforms and upgrade to Viasat’s next-generation Ka-band network in real-time. Viasat’s MMT is now available for purchase across all U.S. military and government branches.
10 Oct 18. Boeing HorizonX Ventures Invests in Accion Systems to Propel Satellite Capabilities. Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced its investment in Accion Systems Inc., a Boston, Mass.,-based startup pioneering scalable electric propulsion technology to transform satellite capabilities in and beyond Earth’s orbit.
Accion’s new Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray (TILE) in-space propulsion system aims to increase the lifespan and maneuverability of satellites and other vehicles in space. Leveraging a non-toxic, ionic liquid propellant and postage stamp-size thrusters, the TILE system is smaller, lighter and more cost-effective than traditional ion engines.
“Accion’s scalable technology can help bring game-changing capabilities to satellites, space vehicles and customers,” said Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “Investing in startups with next-generation concepts accelerates satellite innovation, unlocking new possibilities and economics in Earth orbit and deep space.”
Founded in 2014 by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers, Accion is redefining in-space propulsion. Accion has received annual contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense for the past three years. In June 2018, Accion Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Natalya Bailey was named to MIT Technology Review’s annual list of Innovators Under 35 for her visionary leadership.
“Our TILE product family gives satellites greater capabilities, and at the size of a postage stamp, it fundamentally rewrites the relationship between mass and propulsion,” Bailey said. “Boeing’s aerospace leadership will help us deliver safer, higher performance next-generation propulsion systems to market for satellite and deep space exploration applications.”
Boeing HorizonX Ventures led the investment round with participation from GETTYLAB. The investment and partnership will help Accion grow its manufacturing and connect with Boeing experts, resources and state-of-the-art facilities.
Boeing HorizonX Ventures targets investments that help scale startup innovation in aerospace. Its portfolio is made up of companies specializing in autonomous systems, additive manufacturing, energy and data storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning, hybrid-electric and hypersonic propulsion and Internet of Things connectivity.
The investment continues Boeing’s legacy of adopting next-generation technologies to advance satellite capabilities. In 2011, Boeing introduced the first-ever all-electric satellite propulsion system, the 702SP, and has continued to bolster its satellite capabilities with recent investments in Millennium Space Systems and Bridge Sat. Inc.
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in more than 150 countries.
02 Oct 18. Globalstar’s $16m Contract Ensures MIL-SAT Will Provide Next Gen LEO Tracking Antennas. The announcement comes as Globalstar, Inc. (NYSE American: GSAT) awards a $16m contract (plus options) to MIL-SAT Global Communications LLC to provide and deploy Cobham SATCOM SeaTel next generation Tracker 6000 LEO tracking satellite antenna systems, thereby replacing existing Globalstar gateway antennas located around the world.
Globalstar’s decision is a result of considering MIL-SAT’s 15 years’ expertise in Cobham SATCOM SeaTel antenna system design and integration, LEO/MEO tracking solutions, infrastructure deployment, and robust global support capability. The Cobham SeaTel Tracker 6000 gateway antenna provided by MIL-SAT reveals their expertise in global LEO/MEO tracking technology. MIL-SAT’s expertise includes advanced high speed GEO, LEO, MEO, Drone and Missile Tracking antenna systems used in a variety of Communication, Search And Rescue (SAR), Navigation AIS, and DOD tracking applications. MIL-SAT is respected for “Sat Com in Motion” solutions utilizing technology built exclusively around the Cobham SATCOM SeaTel product line and they offer Global Antenna Deployment supporting large scale worldwide export, integration and repair services of teleport gateway, maritime antenna infrastructure and advanced military solutions.
Globalstar provides mobile satellite voice and data services for customers in industries such as government, emergency management, marine, logging, oil & gas and outdoor recreation that rely on Globalstar to better conduct their business and maintain peace of mind and access emergency personnel. Additionally, Globalstar’s data solutions and its SPOT products are useful for various asset and personal tracking, data monitoring, SCADA and IoT applications. The company’s products include mobile and fixed satellite telephones, the innovative Sat-Fi2 satellite hotspot, Simplex and Duplex satellite data modems, tracking devices and flexible service packages.
David Kagan, chief executive officer of Globalstar stated that as they continue to focus on the growth of Globalstar, and this investment will allow them to expand their second generation coverage and operate their ground stations more efficiently while continuing to provide the best service to their customers worldwide.
Don Richardson MIL-SAT President with 33 years experience supporting Cobham SATCOM SeaTel antennas, talks about the new Cobham SATCOM SeaTel LEO Satellite tracker antenna saying that absolutely the best antenna SeaTel has produced to date, accurate, dependable, easy to install, light weight, with low cost of ownership. Customers shouldn’t have to settle for anything less.
Cobham offers an innovative range of technologies to commercial, defense and security markets, from deep space to the depths of the ocean. With 10,000 employees worldwide, Cobham designs and manufactures high performance products under the AVIATOR, EXPLORER, SAILOR and SeaTel brands.
Kirby Nell, Business Development Manager for Tracking Antennas at Cobham SATCOM, adds that Globalstar and Mil-SAT have selected the Tracker 6000 because of the CAPEX and OPEX efficiencies allowing a 90 percent reduction in operating electrical costs as well as cutting install time and costs by more than half over conventional solutions. Additionally, Cobham SATCOM is the only company to have ever produced these types of systems at a scale measured in tens of thousands of units globally. This positions the company uniquely to extend the same benefits to new LEO and MEO constellations in the pipeline, with the factory capacity to meet predicted demand. (Source: Satnews)
03 Oct 18. Forrester Reports: Leosat Satellite Connectivity Faster than Fiber and SES Discusses OneWeb. Journalist Chris Forrester of Advanced TV and a Senior Contributor to Satnews Publishers has posted a story at his company’s infosite that Leosat is planning to place between 78 and 108 satellites into orbit at 1400kms. in altitude. The first satellites are due for launch in 2021. The company says it already has around US$700m in client commitments. Japan’s JSAT and Spain’s Hispasat have invested in the company. The satellites will work uniquely by transmitting signals directly from satellite to satellite using optical laser-type links. Leosat says partially due to physics and partially due to its unique design, the Leosat High Throughput Satellite (HTS) network will provide faster high-throughput links than existing satellite systems and outperform terrestrial fiber links in speed on long-distance network routes.
Satellite Evolution magazine recently carried an interview with Ronald van der Breggen, the CCO of Leosat, who said that Leosat’s technology will make it competitive against fiber communication, as in space bits travel at the speed of light, i.e., 50 percent faster than in a fiber optic cable. The fastest cable connection between London and Singapore requires 192ms., while Leosat claims their technology can connect both cities in 120ms.
In a note to investors issued by equity analyst Sami Kassab from bankers Exane/BNP, he stated, “Leosat says its technology is able to compete against fiber and, hence, considers its market as the global data communications market, which Van der Breggen claims is 200 times bigger than the current satellite market. He also argues that its rooftop-to-rooftop connectivity offers a more secure network environment than traditional terrestrial networks.
“In the context where OneWeb, Leosat and other LEO constellation projects have yet to close their financing, the Leosat CCO makes an attractive case for taking share from global telcos in the multi trillion communication market,” says Kassab. “However, the oversupply of HTS capacity and related pricing pressure makes us sceptical about the economic success of all these upcoming constellations. In our view, consolidation or failure are also plausible outcomes in the LEO segment.”
Also at Advanced TV is an article entitled “Can SES win an advantage over OneWeb?”
Would-be ‘mega-constellation’ OneWeb (which wants to orbit 900 smallsats to cover the planet with broadband connectivity) is late with its satellites, which are reportedly costing more to build than estimated, and that is giving Wall Street the jitters with their financial forecasts.
Asked whether these problems being experienced by OneWeb would give satellite giant SES a competitive advantage, SES recently appointed CEO Steve Collar admitted it would do SES no harm. “We are not substantially influenced by OneWeb, because fundamentally we firmly believe that we have the right solutions for the market,” he said, continuing, “I am on record as being something of a LEO sceptic, not directed at LEOs themselves but at the current generation and architectures around. It is basically because they are so expensive, and not just the satellites but the whole supporting infrastructure. It has some considerable technical challenges, which are not insurmountable but come with enormous complexity.
“The delays being suffered at the moment are not surprising to anyone, and I am firmly not critical because the whole concept is challenging. But it comes down to the economics, and I do not see how investing $4 to $5bn up front with no market in place, and having to replace the satellites in five years or so, [works]. We did this with O3b, and saw how the business grew and expanded over time, and helped by the scalability of the network. But comparing us with the ‘big bang’ approach and having to ramp up extremely quickly makes no economic sense.” (Source: Satnews)
04 Oct 18. The Largest SATCOM Order Ever is Received by L3 Narda-MITEQ. The order is for Earth station equipment from SED Systems, a division of Calian Ltd, with ultra-high frequency upconverters and Ka-band up and downconverters. Narda-MITEQ produces the RF/Microwave equipment for the satellite communications Earth stations.
These outdoor weather sealed units, provide state-of-the-art frequency conversion from L-band signals to ultra-high frequency bands. With our multi-band units, frequency bands are upconverted, amplified and transmitted to the satellite. L3 Narda-MITEQ provides frequency up and down converters, test loop translators, switchover systems, amplifier systems both single thread and redundant, equalizers, fiber optic links, uplink power controllers, and custom SATCOM solutions.
L3 Narda-MITEQ combines more than 60 years of innovation and expertise in microwave and RF technology and designs and manufactures standard and custom products with stock delivery offered for an extensive offering of catalog components. Offered is a broad range of Passive and Active Components, Subsystems, Switches, SATCOM Solutions, Space Flight Components, as well as RF Safety monitoring equipment. Our products and services support defense, research, communications, and medical and scientific end markets. To learn more about L3 Narda-MITEQ, please visit the company’s website at
Mitch Haft, Director of SATCOM Sales at L3 Narda-MITEQ, said that this solidifies the company’s SATCOM position for the next generation, as operating frequencies move higher to support the demand for faster connection speeds. With the firmn’s new product offerings, L3 Narda-MITEQ can supply the full frequency range that worldwide customers demand.
04 Oct 18. Norway’s First Hybrid Rocket to Reach Space Demos New Hybrid Propulsion Technology. Norway’s first hybrid rocket to reach space has now demonstrated new hybrid propulsion technology for a cleaner, safer, more flexible method of powering small launch vehicles. Soaring up to five times the speed of sound from the Andøya Space Center, the 9 meter long Nucleus sounding rocket passed the edge of Earth’s atmosphere to reach an altitude of more than 107 km. in less than three minutes.
After its suborbital flight, the rocket returned to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, 180 km. off the coast of Norway. The payload, supplied by the Andøya Space Center, comprised electronics that transmitted inflight data and video for further analysis, as well as a dispenser to eject six ‘daughter payloads’ at altitude.
Nammo, in partnership with ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Program, designed and built the new hybrid motor driving this rocket. The motor combines liquid and solid propellant.
Nammo selected highly concentrated liquid hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer reacting with a rubber-like substance as fuel. These substances are safe to handle and the byproducts of combustion are mostly water and carbon dioxide — making the motor environmentally friendly too. The oxidizer and solid fuel remain separated inside the rocket until mixed at ignition. Hybrid propellants have low evaporation rates so the rocket can be loaded safely, well before launch. This reduces the cost of launch service operations compared with other technologies. The fuel, being a non-toxic, non-explosive solid, simplifies manufacturing and handling, further lowering cost.
Being able to vary the flow of oxidizer during flight and thus the thrust meets a wide range of mission requirements, the motor can even be shut down and reignited for complex missions. The aim is for hybrid propulsion to match the precision offered through liquid propulsion, while lowering risks and costs, which would be ideal for smaller European launch sites like the Andøya Space Center.
This demonstration will provide valuable data on the behavior of this hybrid propulsion system in flight. The next step is to build a larger motor to increase thrust from today’s 30kN to about 75–100kN, extend the burn time, and to reduce weight and cost.
01 Oct 18. China’s Newest Laser Satellite Developed for Anti Submarine Warfare is it a New ‘Death Star’ for Submarines? China is developing a satellite with a powerful laser for anti-submarine warfare that researchers hope will be able to pinpoint a target as far as 500 metres below the surface.
It is the latest addition to the country’s expanding deep-sea surveillance programme, and aside from targeting submarines – most operate at a depth of less than 500 metres – it could also be used to collect data on the world’s oceans.
Project Guanlan, meaning “watching the big waves”, was officially launched in May at the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology in Qingdao, Shandong. It aims to strengthen China’s surveillance activities in the world’s oceans, according to the laboratory’s website.
Scientists are working on the satellite’s design at the laboratory, but its key components are being developed by more than 20 research institutes and universities across the country.
Song Xiaoquan, a researcher involved in the project, said if the team can develop the satellite as planned, it will make the upper layer of the sea “more or less transparent”.
“It will change almost everything,” Song said.
While light dims 1,000 times faster in water than in the air, and the sun can penetrate no more than 200 metres below the ocean surface, a powerful artificial laser beam can be 1 billion times brighter than the sun. But this project is ambitious – naval researchers have tried for more than half a century to develop a laser spotlight for hunting submarines using technology known as light detection and ranging, or lidar.
In theory, it works like this – when a laser beam hits a submarine, some pulses bounce back. They are then picked up by sensors and analysed by computer to determine the target’s location, speed and three-dimensional shape.
But in real life, lidar technology can be affected by the power limitation of the laser device, as well as cloud, fog, murky water – even marine life such as fish and whales.
Added to that, the laser beam deflects and scatters as it travels from one body of water to another, making it more of a challenge to get a precise calculation.
China military develops robotic submarines to launch a new era of sea power
Experiments carried out by the United States and former Soviet Union achieved maximum detection depths of less than 100 metres, according to openly available information.
That range has been extended in recent years by the US in research funded by Nasa and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A device developed by DARPA, for example, was mounted on a spy plane and achieved reliable results at a depth of 200 metres, detecting targets as small as sea mines.
But some doubt whether the Chinese team will be able to go any further with its device.
“Five hundred metres is ‘mission impossible’,” said a lidar scientist with the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is not involved in the project.
“They [project researchers] won’t be able to break through the darkness guarded by Mother Nature – unless of course they are Tom Cruise, armed with some secret weapons,” said the researcher, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Is China’s nuclear attack submarine too easy to detect?
Still, the government has agreed to fund the research – in part because the team has come up with an innovative approach that has not been tried before, according to a scientist involved in the project who was also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The device is designed to generate high-power laser beam pulses in different colours, or frequencies, that allow sensitive receivers to pick up more information from various depths. Those laser beams can scan an area as wide as 100km, or concentrate on one spot just 1km wide.
It will be used in conjunction with a microwave radar, also mounted on the satellite, to better identify targets. Although the radar cannot penetrate water, it can measure the surface movement with extremely high accuracy – so when a moving submarine creates small disturbances on the surface, for example, the radar will tell the satellite where to throw the laser beam.
Once it has been developed, the laser device is likely to be made by the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shaanxi province. The institute gained attention recently for the lightweight laser weapons it is developing, particularly a device the size of an assault rifle that it claims can set fire to a target from nearly 1km away.
Zhang Tinglu, another researcher involved in the project, said the main target for the satellite was the thermocline – a thin layer of water where the temperature changes abruptly.
He declined to elaborate on the role of the satellite in anti-sub warfare, but the thermocline is known to be important for submarine captains because it can reflect active sonar and other acoustic signals. That means a vessel could potentially avoid detection in the thermocline, but not by a laser beam.
Song said the team aimed to use every available sensing method to achieve the maximum possible depth of detection.
“Sometimes there may not be enough light to reach 500 metres and back, but we can still try to work out what’s down there by taking an indirect measurement at a shallower depth,” he said.
The laboratory has yet to give any indication as to when the satellite will be ready, but Song said the team was under pressure. “There’s still heaps of problems that we need to solve,” he said.
China has been investing heavily in military hardware, including anti-submarine technology, as it grows increasingly assertive in the region and beyond.
Last year, Chinese scientists claimed to have made a breakthrough in magnetic detection technology with a device that can monitor tiny disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by metallic objects such as submarines.
Researchers are also working on sensors using cutting-edge quantum technology to chase the gravitational abnormality that a submarine creates in a large body of water.
Powerful listening devices have also been planted in strategic seabeds near the American naval base in Guam and in the South China Sea, some of which can “hear” low-frequency sounds from more than 1,000km away.
China is also developing underwater gliders and high-speed underwater drones to collect information on a large scale in global waters.
The world’s next fastest supercomputer will help boost China’s growing sea power
At the national marine science lab in Qingdao, researchers are working on an exascale supercomputer called “Deep Blue Brain” that, when completed in 2020, aims to be the most powerful computer on the planet – about 1,000 times faster than the fastest computers today.
That project also ties in with the laser device – data collected by the satellite and other assets in China’s global ocean surveillance network will be streamed to the supercomputer in Qingdao for research and analysis.
The laboratory’s website says the supercomputer will then use the masses of data along with artificial intelligence to recreate the world’s oceans, in unprecedented detail, in digital form. The Chinese government says it wants to use that “virtual ocean” to help forecast events ranging from extreme weather to the likely outcome of a sea battle, based on the conditions. (Source: Satnews/South China Morning Post)
06 Oct 18. Who will build the payload for the US Air Force’s new missile warning system? The payload on the next generation of the U.S. Air Force’s missile warning satellite system will be developed by the winner of a competition that pits two defense industry giants against each other. Raytheon and a team from Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace will compete to develop the mission payload for the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geo Synchronous (GEO) Block 0 missile warning system, according to an Oct. 4 release from Lockheed Martin.
The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $2.9bn contract in August to build three-geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites. Lockheed Martin then selected the two teams as potential sub-contractors on Sep. 28, about 45 days after the original contract was rewarded.
“The Raytheon and Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace teams were selected due to their ability to meet stringent schedule and capability requirements,” according to the Lockheed Martin release.
The two teams are now tasked with developing detailed mission payload designs and will compete their solutions for potential use on the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system. These mission payloads contain advanced sensors that meet national security satellite requirements and are used to help detect missile launches across the world.
The procurement of the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system also offers a look at the Air Force’s plans to achieve space supremacy through a series of rapid procurement programs, or as the Air Force dubbed it, “Go Fast” acquisition. Air Force officials say they are targeting the first GEO satellite delivery in 60 months.
“As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “The next generation missile warning satellite will be a pace-setter.”
The Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system will follow the current Space Based Infrared System. Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor on SBIRS with Northrop Grumman as the major subcontractor on the payload. The program took nearly 15 years from the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology initial approval of the program to the launch of the first satellite in 2011. Lockheed Martin expects to select a winner in the payload competition in 2020, with the Air Force targeting the first Next-Gen OPIR launch in 2023. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Oct 18. Today, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, Germany, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) announced it is studying interest in flying commercial payloads aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The market analysis is the first step toward the company’s vision of bringing commercial opportunities to deep space and fostering a thriving commercial marketplace beyond low-Earth orbit. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for Orion, the world’s only spacecraft designed for human deep space missions that will take astronauts farther into space than they have ever gone before.
The company is asking for both domestic and international organizations to provide ideas of commercial payloads that would fly on one of Orion’s upcoming missions to the Moon and back. The payloads could be for science, STEM, art and entertainment, data or any other commercial endeavor. Payloads can be flown in the interior crew cabin or mounted to the exterior and can be static or deployable.
Lockheed Martin is working with NanoRacks to perform the study. NanoRacks is the leading provider of commercial access to the International Space Station, with services including safety, launch manifesting, payload integration, logistics and astronaut crew operations. The company has brought more than 700 payloads to the space station.
“Access to the Moon and deep space for commercial entities opens up new worlds for all of us. It advances science, powers innovation, and inspires a new generation of engineers,” said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager and vice president of Human Space Exploration, Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space. “We’ve seen that model work on the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, and now, working with NanoRacks, we’re applying that same successful model to deep space.”
Building on a proven and robust infrastructure in Orion, commercial access to deep space could be offered at a reasonable price and with a high degree of confidence in success.
“At NanoRacks, we pride ourselves on knowing exactly what our commercial customer needs are for a growing number of in-space platforms and knowing how to deliver efficient services at a competitive price. That is why we see this effort with Lockheed Martin as a win-win,” said Jeffrey Manber, CEO and Co-Founder of NanoRacks. “Lockheed Martin brings unmatched capabilities in engineering, mission management, and deep space vehicle design. NanoRacks delivers a strong understanding of the market and an ability to match the needs of customers with a technical solution. Working together, we believe we can prepare for future missions by creating unprecedented opportunities and building a solid foundation for commercial opportunities at the Moon and, one day, beyond.”
Commercial payloads on Orion are a natural starting point for future expansion into areas like the lunar Gateway, landers, and even Mars spacecraft. By starting with Orion, industry could work with NASA and the international community to standardize the interfaces between national exploration ships and commercial payloads. Doing so will make it much easier to plug into future exploration platforms and give commercial providers a predictable and simplified design and engineering framework.
Although NASA is aware of the market assessment there is no current agreement or commitment with NASA on how this would be implemented.
To submit an idea for a commercial payload or to learn more, visit: www.lockheedmartin.com/flyonorion
04 Oct 18. Trump May Fire Air Force Secretary Over Space Force Pushback: Report. US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson may be on the outs with President Donald Trump over the service’s reluctance to advance his Space Force proposal, according to a report from Foreign Policy published Thursday. As a result, Trump is considering removing Wilson, who was confirmed as the 24th Air Force secretary last May, after the midterm elections next month, Foreign Policy reported, citing three anonymous sources with knowledge of the matter. The Air Force on Thursday referred all questions to the White House. The White House did not respond to Military.com’s request for comment by press time.
A possible replacement being floated for Wilson is Alabama Republican Mike Rogers, who had put an emphasis on space in the months preceding the Space Force idea.
Lawmakers including Rogers last year proposed a military entity known as “Space Corps” within the Air Force to oversee the mission. But in November, they ended up removing language in the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the service to stand up the detachment.
Nevertheless, in March, Rogers and others renewed their efforts to convince the Air Force it was time to create a military entity to protect U.S. technologies in space, saying it was possible to stand up a Space Corps in a three-to-five-year timeframe.
Weeks later, Trump revealed that his administration wants to create a sixth branch of the military to focus on protecting military space assets. The president’s issue with Wilson stems from the service’s efforts to undercut the Space Force proposal, Foreign Policy said. She and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein instead outlined how the service’s space budget propels the Pentagon’s mission forward against emerging threats such as Russia and China.
“As the president said yesterday, the new National Defense Strategy for space recognizes that space is a warfighting domain. We appreciate the president and the vice president’s leadership on space,” Wilson said when addressing the issue during a House Appropriations Defense subcommittee March 14.
The Air Force — the service seen as “the leader in space,” overseeing operations since the mid-1950s — has also proposed its own space boost over the next 12 years.
Wilson recently spoke of the necessity for the Air Force to continue to hone its space mission in some way, announcing at the annual Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference that seven new space squadrons would be part of its 386 operational squadron plan, dubbed “The Air Force We Need.”
The additional space squadrons are needed “so that we can dominate in space, where we have not been threatened in the past,” she said in a speech at the conference.
That same week, Wilson wrote in a memo that the Defense Department will need roughly $12.9bn over five years to resource the personnel and infrastructure for the Trump administration’s proposed Space Force.
Wilson is the third woman to serve as the Air Force secretary, after Deborah Lee James, who served under President Barack Obama, and Sheila E. Widnall, who served under President Bill Clinton’s administration.
Wilson graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1982, part of the third class to include women.
She served as a Republican in Congress from 1998 to 2009, representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. She chaired the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, and was senior ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She also served on the House Armed Services Committee for four years. (Source: Military.com)
26 Feb 18. Space Catapult Startup Will Soon Launch Into Action. A catapult is undoubtedly cheaper than a rocket. But is it possible? A launch startup is hoping to make companies in the spaceflight industry more equal by removing the need for expensive rocket boosters and the fuel that propels them. With a design that seems more Wile E. Coyotesque than a legitimate space launch plan, a company called SpinLaunch is working on a means of catapulting items into space.
The company is working on building a spinning centrifuge — a piece of equipment that rotates an object around a fixed point — which will harness enough momentum to sling a payload into space. Sources told TechCrunch that the centrifuge will be able to launch satellites at hypersonic speeds around 4,800 kilometers per hour (3000 mph).
There is also talk of using supplemental rockets to give the payload an extra boost to help push it through Earth’s atmosphere and into space. Even with the supplemental rockets, the SpinLaunch system could be a means of making launches cheaper and more accessible to smaller companies that want to get satellites or other equipment into orbit.
NASA had previously looked into developing a catapult launching system of its own, but discovered that designing a cost-effective catapult wasn’t possible. However, SpinLaunch founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney insists that his company’s proposed method will be different than NASA’s past attempts.
Yaney told TechCrunch, “SpinLaunch employs a rotational acceleration method, harnessing angular momentum to gradually accelerate the vehicle to hypersonic speeds. This approach employs a dramatically lower cost architecture with much lower power.”
TechCrunch reported that two sources said physicists who have looked into the company’s plans foresaw some potential challenges. Air resistance on the cargo may be significant hurdle that SpinLaunch’s catapult has to overcome. If the cargo hits the Earth’s atmosphere without enough momentum, its density could effectively act as a physical barrier to it ever reaching space.
SpinLaunch has a target price of $500,000 per launch, a far cry from SpaceX’s $62 million price tag for a Falcon 9 launch. Even companies and other entities who find cheaper launch alternatives to be too expensive may be able to launch satellites. If the startup is able to deliver on its lofty promises, we could see an entirely new level of democratization in commercial spaceflight.n (Source: https://futurism.com)
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