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28 Nov 18. White House Seeks Alternatives to Independent Space Force. Pentagon leaders were dutifully double-timing toward a new military branch. Then they got new marching orders. For months, Pentagon officials have been rushing to prepare plans for an independent Space Force, a sixth branch of the military ordered up by President Trump. But since Oct. 26, they have been marching to new White House orders: go back and look at different ways to reorganize the military’s space operations.
One of the four new options is an old one, defense officials said: a space corps that would be part of the Air Force, the way the Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy. The proposed structure is similar to a bipartisan proposal that passed in the House but failed in the Senate last year.
Why the second thoughts? The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, suggested that some in the Trump administration fear that the proposed independent Space Force might not make it through Congress.
A former senior defense official said Pentagon officials would be more comfortable with a space corps within the Air Force, but feel Trump’s comments that he wants a “separate but equal” space force have given them little wiggle room.
The four options, according to one of the officials, include: 1) an Air Force-owned space corps that includes only Air Force assets, 2) an Air Force-owned space corps that also takes space-related troops and assets from the Army and Navy, 3) an independent service that takes from the Air Force, Army, and Navy, and 4) an independent service that takes from the three services plus parts of the intelligence community.
Vice President Mike Pence and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan — who are leading the reorganization of the military’s space operations — are scheduled to meet Thursday. The two are to discuss the options.
“As part of an ongoing review, the Department is developing options for a Space Force as a sixth military service branch to implement the President’s vision and guidance,” Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, a Defense Department spokesman, said in an email.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.
No matter which option is chosen, the new organization is likely to be called “Space Force”, according to an Oct. 26 White House memo to the Pentagon. The memo is from Scott Pace, who is the National Space Council’s executive secretary, and Earl Matthews, who directs defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council, and it asks the Pentagon for alternate recommendations.
“As we work to meet the President’s intent of establishing a separate but distinct branch of the Armed Forces for Space, [we] request that the Department of Defense provide analysis and recommendations to the President on the optimal organizational construct to meet his intent,” they wrote.
The memo asks the Pentagon to decide whether it would be “best served by the establishment … of a new independent military department or whether the new Space Force would be most effectively organized as a separate service within the Department of the Air Force.”
The latter option would likely mimic the Marine Corps’ relationship to the Navy. The Marines are run by a four-star general overseen by the civilian Navy secretary.
Four times in the two-page memo, Pace and Matthews stress that the Pentagon’s recommendations should meet the “President’s intent” of establishing a space force. The term “space corps” is not used in the memo.
The memo was sent four days after Defense One published details from a draft of the Pentagon’s proposal to Congress. That draft proposed an independent service that would draw assets from the three spacefaring services but not the National Reconnaissance Office or other parts of the intelligence community.
“[W]e’re trying to produce what the President wants, which is a Space Force capability,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Nov. 21.
Mattis also downplayed the price tag associated with the new force, which remains a live argument in a Pentagon that President Trump may have told to cut spending. “For one thing it’s simply a shifting of costs,” Mattis said. “It’s not an increase, so we’re trying to…get clarity to you on that.”
Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said a space force would cost taxpayers an extra $300m to $550m each year. That’s because billions of dollars would be moved from the Air Force, Navy and Army budgets into the new service. (Source: Defense One)
28 Nov 18. SEAKR to develop prototype for USAF’s PTS anti-jam capabilities. Aerospace and defence company SEAKR Engineering has secured a contract to build advanced space processing prototype for the US Air Force’s (USAF) protected tactical satellite communications (SATCOM). Under the deal, the company will define requirements, and develop, refine and test advanced space digital processing prototypes for protected tactical SATCOM (PTS) anti-jamming capabilities. To be delivered to the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center, the prototypes will be developed under a contract with the Space Enterprise Consortium, managed by Advanced Technology International. The project will enable the USAF to attain its mission goal of resiliency in space and ground communications to tactical troops in both benign and contested environments.
SEAKR Engineering will use its expertise in radio frequency communications to carry out work on the project. It will use prototypes and performance simulations to demonstrate PTS anti-jam capabilities and requirements.
Work will focus on establishing current baseline digital processor capabilities, defining driving requirements and technologies for PTS anti-jam, establishing processing component trade studies, and developing initial prototypes.
SEAKR Engineering will define processing system requirements and digital processor architecture to support a PTS Space Hub to manage traffic on board the spacecraft.
The processing systems provided by SEAKR covers four generations of architectural capabilities, which help support the complete range of payload processing performance requirements.
According to the company, previous study and prototype advancements offered by it have strengthened the US Department of Defense’s ability to solve highly complex challenges in order to safeguard US troops and ensure national security. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 Nov 18. Amazon adds antenna service for satellite data; courts space industry. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) said on Tuesday it was starting a new antenna service for uploading and downloading data from satellites, in a bid to lure space industry and other customers to the cloud.
The world’s No. 1 cloud computing company said it was aiming to make data transfers from space cheaper and easier through 12 antennas that will allow direct transmission to its data centers across the globe.
The company also announced a partnership with Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), whose satellite receivers would connect directly to AWS Ground Stations to help manage data downloads in real time and meet unanticipated demand.
Amazon said the capability would be available to AWS customers in the government or regulated industries, a key area for the company as it bids for a $10bn contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.
“It’s not so simple dealing with satellites if you actually want to be able to upload and download data,” said Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services’ chief executive. He was in Las Vegas to announce the service, which he called a “total game changer for how people can interact with satellites.”
Amazon’s founder and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, is well known for his interest in the final frontier, and he privately owns space company Blue Origin.
In September, Reuters reported that AWS was in talks with Chile to house and mine massive amounts of data generated by the country’s telescopes. The company already provides a cloud platform for the Hubble Telescope’s data and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia. (Source: Reuters)
27 Nov 18. Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) announced a strategic collaboration to integrate the new AWS Ground Station service with Lockheed Martin’s new Verge antenna network. AWS and Lockheed Martin are bringing these two highly capable systems together to provide a solution that addresses customer needs for resilient satellite uplinks and downlinks. Through this integration, customers using AWS Ground Station gain the ability to download data from multiple satellites at the same time and to continue downloading data even when unplanned outages like a weather event impact parts of the network. And, Lockheed Martin Verge customers benefit from being able to upload satellite commands and data through AWS Ground Station and to quickly download large amounts of data over the high-speed AWS Ground Station network. Both Lockheed Martin Verge and AWS Ground Station customers can now integrate satellite data with the rich portfolio of AWS services, including compute, storage, analytics, and machine learning. Immediate and continuous access to the latest satellite data is critical in use cases such as public safety, military missions in fast-evolving threat environments, and real-time weather observations for cargo ships and airlines. Today, there are thousands of satellites orbiting the earth and collecting data, including Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, which are ideal for collecting data for Earth observation and currently comprise about 63 percent of the active satellites now in orbit, according to United Nations data. Traditionally, government organizations or enterprises who have required access to satellite data needed to build or lease ground antennas to communicate with the satellites at significant cost and effort. Further, customers often require antennas in multiple countries and U.S. locations to download data when and where they need it without waiting for the satellite to pass over a desired location. All of this requires significant capital investments and operational costs to build, manage, and maintain antennas, compute infrastructure, and business logic at each antenna location. By combining Lockheed Martin’s distributed network of satellite receivers with direct AWS Ground Station access, the two companies are delivering a next-generation space solution that will help address the growing need for satellite ground communications and data management while reducing capacity constraints and enabling satellite customers to scale their satellite data downlinks in real-time to meet unanticipated demand across a broad variety of situations.
“Together, AWS and Lockheed Martin are providing satellite operators increased flexibility, resiliency, and scale in a complete connectivity solution, ground architecture, and cloud environment for integrated satellite and data management operations,” said Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space. “Our collaboration with AWS allows us to deliver robust ground communications that will unlock new benefits for environmental research, scientific studies, security operations, and real-time news media. In time, with satellites built to take full advantage of the distributed Verge network, AWS and Lockheed Martin expect to see customers develop surprising new capabilities using the service.”
“AWS and Lockheed Martin have a long, deep relationship and over the past several years it’s become apparent that together we could bring greater capabilities to our public sector and commercial customers,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector for AWS. “Today we are taking the next step in this relationship. The integration of AWS Ground Station with Lockheed Martin Verge brings the unique capabilities of both companies to mutual customers, enabling them to control satellites across both networks and downlink data faster with more resiliency.”
Because many AWS Ground Station antennas are co-located with AWS Regions, both AWS and Lockheed Martin customers gain low-latency, local access to other AWS services to process and store this data. For example, they can use Amazon EC2 to control satellites and downlink data, store and share the data in Amazon Elastic Block Store, Amazon Elastic File System, or Amazon S3, use AWS Virtual Private Cloud for secure communications between Amazon EC2 instances and the AWS Ground Station antenna gateway, hunt for real-time business insights with Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce, apply machine learning algorithms and models with Amazon SageMaker, add image analysis with Amazon Rekognition, and improve data sets by combining satellite data with IoT sensor data from AWS IoT Greengrass. AWS customers can combine these capabilities to build exciting applications that might use image recognition to identify and protect endangered animals, machine learning to predict faulty construction or industrial systems, or analytics to estimate oil production or assess agriculture yields in real time.
“Access to geospatial information gives customers the confidence to make critical decisions. For space startups like Spire Global, AWS and Lockheed Martin are unlocking the potential of nearly continuous and uninterrupted access to satellite data along with the ability to analyze and leverage that data using the broad and deep cloud services available in AWS,” said Robert W. Sproles, Ph.D. and Program Manager, Ground Stations, for Spire Global, Inc. “The combination of Lockheed Martin Verge and AWS Cloud will allow multiple satellites to downlink simultaneously, which will increase satellite constellation throughput and reduce latency for our customers.”
Customers can easily request Lockheed Martin Verge as their preferred downlink directly through the AWS Ground Station console or from the Verge management console. Once Lockheed Martin Verge receives and processes satellite data, customers can access it directly in their virtual private cloud (VPC) in AWS Regions. For AWS customers in the government or regulated industries, this includes the AWS GovCloud and Secret Regions that carry the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret. Lockheed Martin Verge will be available in private beta today for customers with satellites that support S-band frequencies and can downlink in the Denver, Colorado area. General availability and expansion to the higher frequency X-band will be announced in the future.
26 Nov 18. Training the Space Force: How the Military Will Prepare for Future Battles. When President Donald Trump announced earlier this year that he was asking the U.S. military to begin the process of establishing a sixth armed service that would focus on space, Washington pundits and analysts wasted no time lauding or decrying the move. Although details on what a future space force could look like are still nebulous and the reorganization requires congressional approval, industry is already thinking about how it can provide future space warriors with simulators and training equipment to prepare for battle.
While these skirmishes likely won’t include hand-to-hand combat in full astronaut gear, space warriors will need to understand how to deal with hostile actions from adversaries that could include everything from electronic warfare attacks that jam signals, or even missile strikes that obliterate key satellites, experts have said.
While Air Force Space Command already takes the lead in equipping and training, a dedicated space force could be advantageous, said Gene Colabatistto, CAE’s group president for defense and security.
There is an opportunity to consolidate space with “an intent to focus attention … and ultimately resources to ensure that the space mission is not held subordinate to all the other missions that defense and national security has to execute,” he said in an interview.
It will be important to train from the tactical, operational and strategic levels, he noted. At the tactical level, the military already has some space-based systems in its flight simulators.
“Clearly when we build a flight simulator and a high-fidelity cockpit, that cockpit will be outfitted with avionics that depend on GPS,” he said. “Whether it’s GPS, satellite communications, or some other service provided by space-based assets, the operator needs to know that they’re there. They need to know the capabilities and limitations. They need to know how to use it.”
While such training already occurs, it will need to be enhanced in order to prepare for future threats, he said.
Mission planners must also be trained, Colabatistto said. They need “to understand what other systems are out there to include ones they may not know about today, and get them to actively ask not just what are we doing but what can we do, and can we organize our space-based assets in a way … [that changes how they] support the commander?” he added.
For industry, this presents a number of opportunities, he said.
The first “opportunity for us is to make sure that space-based capabilities are fully represented in our synthetic environment,” he said. “That includes both friendly and the opposing forces space-based capabilities.”
CAE already supports Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s mobile training teams’ efforts to understand the capabilities and limitations of space systems, he noted.
The company sees space training “as a market segment that we may be able to expand” into, he said. “I’m encouraged because I think that’s a market segment where more funding will flow and it connects directly to our core users — the operational users of aircraft, ground combat systems and ships.”
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions is also eyeing opportunities that may emerge should a space force come to fruition, said Frank Backes, the company’s senior vice president for satcom products and federal satellite solutions.
How a space force trains would likely be different than the way the military currently educates its operators, he noted.
“Current space training systems are space-program focused,” he said. “You would have a training system that is focused on GPS or remote sensing satellites or milsatcom, as an example, and the current training environment is sufficient to support introductory training.” That includes both flying satellites and working on payloads that may be hosted on space assets.
“Space force training kind of opens the aperture to include anomalies of those satellites and threat training to understand how adversaries may attack a particular satellite capability,” Backes said.
A major part of that will be attack response training, he noted. If an adversary uses an anti-satellite missile to target a U.S. space asset, there would be an extremely limited amount of time to react.
“If that satellite that they’re shooting down is in geosynchronous orbit you might have … 45 minutes [or] an hour and a half to deal with that situation,” he said. “But if your satellite were in a low-Earth orbit, you might only have five to 10 minutes.”
But not all space threats are as dramatic as an anti-satellite missile. Sometimes it could be a competitor jamming a communication signal and knocking out access to a particular satellite for a period of time, Backes said.
“If it’s timed exactly right it might have some pretty catastrophic effects,” he said.
Future training for a space force will require multi-media systems, Backes said. That will include virtual, augmented and mixed-reality technology.
“Some of those might be free-play environments,” he said. “You’d have a group of people doing the attacking side and then you would have a group of people on the other side dealing with the interpretation of those attacks and the potential responses.”
Crew-level mission training would also be key, Backes added.
“Let’s say you have a crew in … [a] GPS operations center and they need to not only understand how to fly the GPS satellite and how to manage the GPS payload, but … they would also need to understand what threats could possibly be impacting the GPS system and then how to respond to those particular threats,” he said.
Simulations will be particularly important as training with real space assets would be prohibitively costly in many cases, he added.
Kratos is interested in how a space force could translate into new business opportunities, Backes noted.
“Because a lot of the threats against our space systems are new, we’re in an environment right now where the DoD and other agencies that use space systems need to first define the nature of the threats that the space warfighters are going to deal with,” he said. “Once those threats have been defined then we can start looking at training curriculum to be developed against those particular threat environments.”
During a recent breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Brig. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt, director of operations and communications at Air Force Space Command, discussed ways the service currently trains its space warriors. That includes everything from classrooms to large-scale exercises with coalition partners.
While Burt would not comment on how the establishment of a dedicated space force would affect training, she did note that the Air Force recognizes that it must beef up its curriculum in order to overmatch adversaries who are investing in counter-space capabilities.
When Burt entered the Air Force at the end of 1991, space was a benign and peaceful environment. Now near-peer competitors such as Russia and China “are absolutely competing with us in space … and putting up capabilities that put our assets at risk,” she said.
The undergraduate space training program for both officers and enlisted airmen at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, will be increasing from 77 to 111 days to add depth, she said. It will also raise the required security clearance level needed to participate so instructors can talk about threats in greater detail.
Air Force Space Command is also putting a premium on wargaming and collaborating with coalition partners, she said.
For example, the Schriever wargame, which took place at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, wrapped up in October. A number of countries including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Germany, France and Japan participated.
“We have definitely taken it to the next level,” Burt said. The wargame looked at technology that is anticipated to be fielded over the next 10 years and examined what a space engagement in the 2028 timeframe may look like.
The objectives of the game included: working with international partner capabilities; gaining insight into resiliency and deterrence through synchronization of space and cyberspace operations; examining various combined command-and-control frameworks; and identifying strategic and operational contributions of space and cyberspace in multi-domain conflict, according to Air Force Space Command.
The latest game focused on the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.
The command is also taking part in events known as Space Flag, which mirror the famed Red Flag aerial combat exercises that take place at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Burt noted.
The organization has completed four Space Flag events in the past two years.
The exercises are a way for space operators to learn how to participate in large force employment, Burt said. They include a number of organizations such as Air Combat Command, the National Space Defense Center, the Combined Space Operations Center and the National Reconnaissance Office.
The command utilized a Boeing-owned virtual warfare center to execute its most recent Space Flag, she said.
“It takes a lot to run these, but we get about 50 folks through the game at a time,” she said. “We’re working hard with Boeing. The facility they have is incredible. But we’re only using a portion of the space. We’re trying to figure out how to … put more operators through a given rotation.”
The command has currently budgeted for three additional Space Flag exercises. There is a push from Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson to increase coalition involvement, Burt said.
One of the command’s biggest shortfalls is with simulators, Burt said. The service needs newer, more cutting edge systems that can prepare operators for new threats. The Air Force plans to increase funding for them, she added.
Bill Ostrove, an analyst at Forecast International, said until there is more clarity on what a space force would look like, it would be difficult to say what specific training opportunities would present themselves. However, it is likely that there will be an influx of personnel who will require more familiarity with space.
“There would also be opportunities just from the expanding mission and the expanding role of space within DoD — which is certainly related to space force — but not necessarily only because of space force,” he said.
Ostrove noted that the proliferation of cubesats — small satellites that are less costly than traditional systems — may help train space warriors.
“Because they are so much cheaper you can use them to practice with,” he said. “If you’re spending $100,000 on a satellite you can take a lot more risk with it than a $100m satellite. So if we do see a dedicated space force, we could see more opportunities for cubesats … as a learning tool for incoming personnel into that new branch.” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
27 Nov 18. US Army Moves Ahead With Small Satellite Program. The US Army has selected Huntsville, Alabama-based Dynetics to supply its next pair of nanosatellites, the company announced in November. While the service is not well known for its satellite program, the Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command Technical Center have been developing tactical satellites about the size of a football to help fill remote sensing gaps.
One example is Kestrel Eye, a 110-pound, low-cost technical demonstration satellite launched in August 2017. It is designed to give battlefield commanders near real-time imagery, according to Army press releases. Service leaders at the time of its launch lauded their ability to completely control the imaging process, from the tasking of the spacecraft to disseminating the information, without relying on the other services’ remote sensing platforms.
The Gunsmoke-L small satellite program will host the next generation of tactical space support payloads designed to operate in low-Earth orbit for a minimum of two years. They will “demonstrate advanced information collection,” according to an Army website.
Dynetics will work with the technical center’s space and strategic systems directorate, which will include research, development and demonstration of the support payloads.
“We have won many civilian space contracts, and to move into the military space arena strengthens our portfolio. We are looking forward to taking on this challenge of creating small satellites that will meet the Department of Defense’s space support goals,” said Mike Graves, Dynetics space systems department manager and Gunsmoke-L program manager.
The company will take two years to develop the pair of spacecraft and qualify them for launch. It will also support on-orbit demonstrations utilizing the technical center’s small satellite ground control system located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to provide command, control and communication for at least one year, with an option for a second year, the statement said. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
26 Nov 18. XpressSAR selects IAI’s TecSAR. XpressSAR has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI’s) TecSAR technology for its high-resolution x-band satellite constellation. Under the agreement, XpressSAR will purchase up to four TecSAR synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites along with associated support services for launch, in-orbit testing, commissioning and establishing ground operations to control the constellation. IAI will be responsible for the manufacturing of satellites and other services needed to deliver an operational constellation in space. XpressSAR will operate the satellites in inclined orbit for commercial and government customers worldwide. The TecSAR satellite carries a SAR payload, designed to provide images during day, night and all weather conditions, including under cloud cover, for high-resolution intelligence operations. The TecSAR satellites are small and light in weight, providing advanced manoeuvrability and image resolution quality and quantity. (Source: Shephard)
27 Nov 18. Gilmour secures MOA with RUAG Space. Australian-based rocket company Gilmour Space Technologies has signed a long-term collaboration and supply agreement with global launch industry supplier RUAG Space.
The memorandum of agreement (MoA), the first of its kind in Australia, explores the use of RUAG Space’s new range of FlexLine carbon composite products in Gilmour Space’s proprietary hybrid rockets.
Gilmour Space CEO and founder Adam Gilmour said, “RUAG Space has a long history of providing reliable launch technologies for rockets like the Ariane 5, Vega and Atlas.”
The Queensland-based company is targeting to launch small satellites weighing up to 100 kilograms into low-Earth orbits from 2020, and up to 400 kilograms from 2021.
Gilmour aims to bring two low-cost launch systems for sub-orbital and orbital launches: the Ariel, which is scheduled for operation in the first quarter of 2019, and the Eris, which is scheduled for introduction in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Ariel provides sub-orbital launch capability with an estimated launch price of US$9,000 per kilogram, a max payload of 130 kilograms and altitude of up to 150 kilometres.
“With this collaboration, we look to leverage on their proven expertise, while lowering our launcher development costs and time-to-market,” Gilmour explained.
Gilmour claims that the Ariel payload bay is 50 per cent larger than other sounding rockets and supports industry standard payload modules, which are recoverable with the optional installation of a parachute recovery system.
The Eris system provides orbital launch capacity (low-Earth orbit) with an estimated launch price of US$25,000-38,000 per kilogram depending on the payload mass, with a max payload of 400 kilograms. Eris is a three-stage launch system propelled by eight of the G-70 hybrid rocket engines developed by Gilmour Space Technologies
Holger Wentscher, senior vice president launchers at RUAG Space, said, “Our new FlexLine products offer weight optimised, reliable and user-friendly solutions, at best-in-class series cost.”
RUAG Space is a leading supplier to the space industry in Europe, with a growing presence in the US. With more than 1,300 staff across six countries, it develops and manufactures products for satellites and launch vehicles playing a key role both in the institutional and commercial space market.
“It has been very exciting to see the progress that Gilmour Space and Australia have made in the space domain since we first met at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide last year; and we look forward to collaborating with them in their goal to provide lower cost access to space from Australia,” Wentscher said. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Nov 18. WA satellite start-up to help expand state’s space sector. Australia’s infant space industry is opening the door for a number of start-ups like Western Australia-based Picosat Systems to develop niche capabilities, while serving as test beds to support the development of WA’s own space industry sector.
Established in 2017, Picosat Systems aims to deliver low-cost, low-risk technology solutions through the picosatellite PocketQube (PQ) format, which comes in one, two and three-unit sizes, with a focus on providing access to space for Earth observation (EO) and telecommunications technology verification and research missions.
Conrad Pires, co-founder and CEO of Picosat Systems, said, “We started in this area because it allows us to develop a low-cost platform, we can use picosat units for earth observation, telecommunications and a variety of other sectors as technology demonstrators, proof of concept and research missions.”
Picosatellites are a class of small satellites with a mass of 100 grams to one kilogram. The form factor Picosat is using for these picosatellites is the PQ. A single unit PQ is five centimetres cubed and PQs can be built in one, two or three units’ size.
All of these are smaller than a single unit Cubesat, which is 10 centimetres cubed in size, Cubesat are classed as a nano-satellites and have a mass of one kilogram to 10 kilograms.
The recent announcement of the Australian Space Agency has provided Picosat, as with other emerging Australian space companies, the policy direction and government co-ordination lacking until now.
This means of national co-ordination and investment has also translated to a growing emphasis on developing space technology and the space industry in WA to leverage the industry, academic and scientific expertise present within the state.
“We are here looking to take advantage of the Space Agency and both the national direction and opportunities it provides for space start-ups like us,” Pires explained.
Picosat has targeted key sectors within the WA economy that utilise space-based technologies like EO, telecommunications and related technologies, like the mining and resources sectors.
The company aims to address the opportunities and challenges presented by these industries with the planned development of larger small satellite platforms (e.g. nano- and micro-), including a focus on intelligent satellite systems like swarming and AI, as well as space situational awareness.
Pires expanded on this, saying, “We are looking to partner with the mining and resources sector here in Western Australia, who are heavy users of Earth observation assets to support resource development and address the challenges mining and resources companies may face when dealing with space systems or technology.”
Before broad market saturation, the company plans to verify its space and ground-based technologies and capabilities with the launch of a technology demonstrator picosatellite, OzQube-1 into low-Earth orbit (LEO).
This minimum viable product (MVP) is a one unit EO PQ that will take images of Australia and transmit them back to Earth to Picosat’s low-cost ground station, with work on finalising the construction of OzQube-1 and the ground station under way.
Picosat has leveraged the growing international collaboration within the space sector to partner with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
(ICRAR) in late 2017 to conduct a zero gravity (zero-g) flight, which saw a hand-held deployer containing the OzQube-1 tested in zero-g onboard a European Space Agency zero-g flight.
This focus on international collaboration has also helped develop robust relationships with West Australian universities, and broader Australian universities, to support the development of a highly-capable and sustainable Australian space industry and supporting workforce.
“Picosat has been collaborating with a number of universities, particularly here in Western Australia, to help develop the skills and research capacity Australia needs to support the development of the local space ecosystem and environment,” Pires explained.
Pires reinforced the company’s commitment to supporting the development of WA’s own space industry and ecosystem, particularly for start-ups through the continued engagement with both the state and federal government’s expert reference group and the WA government’s investigation into the space industry’s capability within WA.
“We are approaching space from multiple avenues, whether it is research and development, commercial partnerships with the mining and resources sector or lobbying the state and federal governments, because we’re finally starting to see the space industry in Western Australia and at a national level come together and we can help inform the support services and infrastructure for other start-ups,” Pires said. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Nov 18. Kleos Space signs agreement for Scouting Mission data. Kleos Space has announced the signing of a commercial agreement with UK-based Intelligence Management Support Services (IMSL) for the purchase of Kleos sourced data. The commercial agreement will see Kleos supply IMSL with Scouting Mission Data for integration with related analytics to government and industry customers around the world.
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space, said, “The agreement with IMSL follows in the footsteps of the formation of Kleos Space’s UK subsidiary. To access the £4.6bn Ministry of Defence-planned spend in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) programs to 2026, we need to work with trusted intelligence partners.”
Through its offices in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and the US, IMSL will integrate Kleos Scouting Mission data and offer analytical services globally post launch. Intelligence domain and data analytics expertise will allow IMSL to deliver significant enterprise capability enhancement from Kleos to customers.
Further to this, through a detailed understanding of the user’s tasking, IMSL will develop a clear vision of the requirements and efficiently assist the client to fulfil their operational ambitions, maximising the utility of Kleos data.
“IMSL is one of the world’s leading defence industry service companies, assisting many private organisations and governments with their anti-terrorism and crime monitoring activities,” Bowyer explained.
Under the non-exclusive agreement, Kleos data scientists will provide support to IMSL for the development of solutions for end-user applications.
Andy Green, managing director of IMSL, said, “We are very excited and look forward to being part of this innovative venture. IMSL’s history of development, in-depth interpretation and utilisation of data for customers internationally, fits well into the Kleos model and will offer an immediate product to clients.”
The multi-satellite system of the Kleos Scouting Mission will form the cornerstone of a constellation that delivers a global picture of hidden maritime activity that enhances the intelligence capability of government and commercial entities when AIS (automatic identification system) is defeated, imagery unclear and targets out of patrol range.
Built by GomSpace, the Kleos Space satellites are on track to be launched on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand in the second quarter of 2019. The agreement will allow Kleos Space to access the global intelligence market without delay following the successful collection of data from its satellites in space.
Kleos Space is a space enabled, activity-based intelligence, data as a service company based in Luxembourg. Kleos Space aims to guard borders, protect assets and save lives by delivering global activity-based intelligence and geo-location as a service.
The first Kleos Space satellite system, known as Kleos Scouting Mission, will deliver commercially available data and perform as a technology demonstration. KSM will be the keystone for a later global high capacity constellation. The Scouting Mission will deliver targeted daily services with the full constellation delivering near-real time global observation. (Source: Space Connect)
27 Nov 18. Sky’s the limit for Australian Optical Astronomy. The Commonwealth government has officially launched Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) to support and enhance the capabilities of Australia’s optical and space observation technologies, with a focus on enhancing the nation’s space industry. AAO will bring together and boost Australia’s existing strengths in optical technology and will take on a commercial and industry focus, while continuing strong engagement with the global community by designing and developing equipment for world-leading facilities.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said, “The work of the research sector partnership, led by Macquarie University, will maximise the scientific and economic returns of Australia’s engagement with international astronomy projects by boosting our global competitiveness.”
The transfer of the instrumentation team to Macquarie follows the disestablishment of the Australian Astronomical Observatory, previously a division of the Australian government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS).
Professor Michael Steel, interim director of AAO-Macquarie and head of physics and astronomy at Macquarie, said earlier in the year, “The consortium will build new optical astronomy instruments for the world’s largest telescopes, create new opportunities for Australian industry, and enhance career pathways for young scientists and engineers.”
As part of the same restructure, the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory will henceforth be operated by ANU on behalf of a 13-university consortium. The development of the new AAO is supported by a four-year, $20m government investment through NCRIS (the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy), managed by Astronomy Australia Limited.
“These strategic investments are enabling Australia’s highly-respected astronomers to contribute to global discovery, inspire the public, and transform technology with the potential to change lives,” Minister Andrews said.
The AAO has a world-renowned reputation for building successful precision instrumentation for the world’s largest telescopes. It has particular strengths in the use of fibre optics and positioning systems that allow telescopes to observe many astronomical objects simultaneously, massively increasing the productivity and flexibility of observatories around the world and opening new views of the universe and its contents.
Speaking at the launch, member for Bennelong John Alexander acknowledged the work undertaken by partners at Macquarie University, the Australian National University, the University of Sydney and Astronomy Australia Limited in establishing the new entity.
“Australian Astronomical Optics is a great example of the power of industry and research partnerships, and there are many more opportunities in optics and spectroscopy, robotics, automated manufacturing and precision engineering. The AAO will lead new applications for optical technology that range from medical imaging, to the airline industry and to spacecraft components – the sky’s the limit,” Alexander said.
The AAO now leads the design and construction of a new system that builds on this legacy in partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), positioning thousands of fibres simultaneously, which will allow the most comprehensive survey of our own Milky Way galaxy and the large-scale universe ever done.
AAO will continue to advance astronomical instrumentation for large ground-based telescopes like Gemini (e.g. GHOST spectrograph, which will measure the properties of the oldest stars in the universe), ESO’s Very Large Telescope (e.g. proposed MAVIS imager and spectrograph, which will explore the formation of star clusters across cosmic time), and next generation ‘Extremely Large Telescopes’ (e.g. MANIFEST for GMT, which will facilitate the detection of the earliest galaxies, and the faintest stars in our galaxy). The AAO will also continue to engage with the emerging opportunities in space (e.g. proposed SkyHopper CubeSat telescope, aimed at detecting Earth-like planets and measuring radiation from the first galaxies to light up the universe). (Source: Space Connect)
19 Nov 18. New Components Added by Inmarsat to Fleet Secure. Inmarsat has introduced two new components to the firm’s maritime cyber security service, Fleet Secure, as the company continues to develop solutions that combat ever-increasing cyber threats faced by ship owners and ship managers. Vessel operators will benefit from a powerful, multi-layered endpoint security solution, Fleet Secure Endpoint, which is based on advanced technology from ESET, provider of digital security, and powered by Port-IT and protects desktop computers and other systems connected to a vessel’s network. Fleet Secure Endpoint has been developed to remove infections and thwart hackers before damage occurs to onboard endpoints and connected systems. The solution will be available for commercial use from January 2019 and is compatible across Inmarsat’s maritime portfolio of services, including Fleet Xpress, FleetBroadband and Fleet One. It also complements the Inmarsat’s own satellite and ground network enabling consistent cybersecurity standards to be maintained.
Inmarsat has also launched a training app for mobile devices, Fleet Secure Cyber Awareness. This enables seafarers to educate themselves on the tactics that cyber criminals might employ in attempting to infiltrate a company’s IT infrastructure.
Peter Broadhurst, SVP of Safety and Security for Inmarsat Maritime said, said that many attempts to gain unauthorized access to IT infrastructure require some sort of activation by an end-user in order to infect a system and cause further damage. These attacks are often heavily disguised so as to trick and manipulate end-users into unwittingly granting permission. It is a priority for every fleet operator and ship manager — shore-side and at sea — to ensure their systems are properly protected. As this enhancement to Fleet Secure demonstrates, Inmarsat is constantly monitoring the ever changing cyber security landscape and devising new tools and approaches for addressing potential problems; ensuring that ships and their crew remain safe –physically and virtually. (Source: Satnews)
19 Nov 18. SES Networks Endorses Intellian’s Multi-Band Antennas. Seamless Access to Any SES Satellite Constellation in Seconds. Intellian has announced that SES Networks has endorsed Intellian’s 2.4 meter, multi-band, MEO and GEO broadband antennas that provide seamless access to virtually any satellite constellation within seconds for use on their Ku-, Ka- and C-band satellites.
These frequency-agile and orbit-agnostic capabilities, enabled by Intellian’s antennas and the firm’s new Intelligent Mediator Solution, ensure that the equipment’s capabilities are future-proof for customers seeking the fastest and most reliable broadband connectivity.
The new Intellian v240MT solution provides the unique capability of switching between different satellite frequency bands as needed without any user intervention required. This, then, ensures the best solution for the geographic location and flexibility in achieving the highest throughput. Intellian’s solution, when combined with SES Networks’ satellite-based services, provides truly global, tri-band, multi-orbit coverage that delivers connectivity scaling from 100 Mbps through to multiple Gbps of dedicated capacity to a single vessel. Intellian v240MT systems have already been installed globally on a number of vessels and are now available for shipment from Intellian’s worldwide logistics centers.
Stewart Sanders, EVP of Technology at SES Networks, said that the company is very focused on solutions that optimize the user experience. As the only satellite operator offering communications services that leverage GEO and MEO satellites, SES strongly believes that a multi-orbit, multi-band maritime solution delivers the optimal combination of performance, reliability and, ultimately, user experience at sea. The capabilities of Intellian’s new antennas contribute to a frictionless user experience and they have the potential to enable our customers and their end users to fully benefit from our unique multi-orbit approach. Eric Sung, CEO of Intellian, commented that the company is proud to have managed to deliver the world’s first tri-band and multi-orbit antenna to the industry. The collaboration with SES Networks has enabled Intellian to connect vessels with an innovative and powerful solution that delivers record-breaking connectivity speeds across all satellite frequency bands with the introduction of the v240MT system. (Source: Satnews)
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