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02 Jan 19. Top executive quits Lockheed Martin’s UK space business. Correction: A Lockheed Martin UK spokesman told Defense News that Patrick Wood’s resignation would not affect the company’s plans to build a major space business in the U.K.. One of Britain’s top space industry executives has quit Lockheed Martin UK and is departing the sector to take up a new post with a company best known for modification and support of military airlifters.
Patrick Wood, the director of international advanced programs and the executive responsible for Lockheed Martin Space’s U.K. business, resigned from his post late last month. The executive’s departure has prompted a restructuring of Lockheed Martin’s international space business sector, said a company spokesman in the U.K. Wood departs Lockheed Martin little more than 15 months after joining the company. His appointment was part of a drive aimed at fulfilling plans the U.S. defense giant has for carving out a significant role in Britain’s fast growing space sector.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Wood is exiting the space industry for a top job at the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, a Cambridge, England-based operation which focuses primarily on supporting Lockheed Martin C-130 airlifters for the Royal Air Force and other customers.
Wood’s entry on LinkedIn says he has left Lockheed Martin and is now chief technical officer and program management director based in Cambridge. No company name is mentioned.
A spokeswoman for Marshall confirmed Wood would join the company on Jan. 7 but declined to offer any further information ahead of an official announcement of his arrival expected in the next day or two. The company is not active in the space business, according to the spokeswoman.
Marshall also has land and maritime activities and is part of a privately owned company turning over nearly $3.3bn in sales in 2017 – some of it from an automobile retail business.
The company could be a major beneficiary of the Royal Air Force’s intention to buy Boeing Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft. Marshall has previously been touted as being earmarked to modify and fit out the aircraft at its Cambridge facility. A spokesman for Lockheed Martin UK confirmed Wood’s departure but declined to give any further details. The spokesman did say, though, that Wood’s resignation would prompt a restructuring in some parts of its space business but would not affect the company’s plans to build a major space business in the U.K.
“Following Patrick’s departure, we have moved swiftly to restructure our international space business area and will announce key appointments in due course. The relationships and insights that Patrick brought to, and leaves with Lockheed Martin, will enable us to continue to grow and achieve our long-term plan,” the company said in a statement.
Wood has worked in senior positions for Airbus for many years, mainly in space but also in sectors like engineering and electronics.
Wood joined Lockheed Martin Space from Airbus-owned, British-based Surrey Satellite Technology, where he was chief executive of the world’s leading small satellite builder.
Poaching Wood from Airbus was considered a coup for Lockheed Martin. It was seen by industry executives here as a statement of intent by the US company of its ambitions to build a British space engineering and industrial footprint.
Lockheed Martin is already leading an industry team using U.K. Space Agency money to look at several strategic programs, including the possible setting up of Britain’s first space launch port at a site in Scotland.
Wood’s exit from Lockheed Martin comes at a key time for the space defense industry here.
A long awaited Ministry of Defence space strategy, which has been stuck on a shelf for at least six months, and several major system procurements are approaching a decision on how to proceed.
The government will have to start taking decisions soon on the procurement of its next-generation Skynet 6 satellite communications network.
It will also need to decide how to proceed with the development of a replacement for the European Union’s Galileo global navigation system after Brexit following Brussels’ decision to exclude the U.K. from access to military and security data generated by the satellite network. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
29 Dec 18. Why older satellites present a cyber risk. The most cost-effective and simplistic cyberattack in space, one with the intent to bring down a targeted satellite, is likely to use an older satellite now viewed as space junk that still has fuel and can respond to communications. Hackers could then use that satellite to ram or force targeted space assets out of orbit. The benefits for the attacker are numerous. Consider that the life span of a satellite is as long as 30 years, and even afterward it can still orbit with enough propellant for functional communications. Space contains thousands of satellites, both active and inactive, launched by numerous organizations and countries, hosting more than 5,000 space-borne transponders communicating with Earth. Every transmission is a potential inlet for a cyberattack. Older satellites share technological similarities, providing opportunities to exploit systems for control and processing. Satellites may be based on hardware and technology from as long ago as the 1980s and are unlikely to have been upgraded after launch.
But cyberattacks can exploit a single system, or a limited group of systems, within a larger group of satellites. These space-borne assets have a variety of operating systems, embedded software, and designs from disparate technological legacies. As more nations launch satellites with a variety of technical sophistication, the risk for hijacking and manipulation through covert activity increases. A satellite’s on-board computer can allow for reconfiguration and software updates, which increase its vulnerability. For example, a satellite that will orbit for 10 years may be preprogrammed by a perpetrator for unauthorized usage when needed.
Even with the most-advanced digital forensics tools, tracing a cyberattack is complicated on terrestrial computer systems, which are physically accessible. Space-borne systems do not allow physical access, thus, lack of access to the computer system nullifies several options for forensic evidence gathering. The only trace from the perpetrator is the actual transmissions and wireless attempts to penetrate the system. If these transmissions are not captured, the trace is lost.
If the adversary is skilled, it is more likely the attribution investigation will end with a set of spoofed innocent actors whose digital identities have been exploited in the attack rather than attribution to the real perpetrator. Currently, nation-states are restrained by the political and economic repercussions of an attributed attack, but covert cyber war targeting US space assets removes the restraint of attribution.
A cyberattack resulting in a space collision would lack attribution and thus would be attractive to adversaries. A collision between a suddenly moving foreign satellite and a critical U.S. satellite would be neither a coincidence nor an accident. Or, even if a collision is narrowly avoided, a hacked satellite set on a crash course would force the targeted satellite to move – wasting fuel – and providing degraded service levels.
The easiest way to perpetuate this attack would be to hijack satellites from countries less technically advanced or from less-protected or outdated systems.
Post-mission disposal (PMD), the United Nations-led effort to remove satellites after their productive life spans, would require satellites to deorbit within 25 years after their mission ends. Naturally, this could happen faster, but it is drawn-out process and currently there are no tangible sanctions for noncompliance. If a satellite has a lifespan of 20 years, the additional 25-year allowance would increase the total number of years when the satellite can be remotely commanded for as long as 45 years.
Satellites launched in 1977, 1987, and 1997 are already technically outdated and several technology generations behind. The time between launch and end of the operation for a satellite is the foundation for its cyber vulnerability. It is a sound financial decision to use a satellite to the full extent of its lifespan. However, the question becomes: is it worth the risks? We must keep in mind technical leaps made since early space launches. Since technology today develops so quickly, PMD, in reality, increases the risk of cyberattack by hijacked satellites because it prolongs the time a satellite can be remotely commanded by signals exploiting obsolete and outdated communication equipment. In a future near-peer conflict, one of the potential adversary’s goals is to disrupt the United States’ space capabilities. Cyberattacks in space are no longer science fiction; they are a valid concern. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Dec 18. Japanese pursuit of next-gen space tech provides opportunities for Aussie leaders. The Japanese government has responded to China’s growing anti-space and defence capabilities with an unprecedented defence budget, which provides avenues for Australian space industry leaders to benefit from increased expenditure. The pre-war power has long sought to shake off the chains of the pacifist constitution enforced upon it by the US, UK, Australia and other allies following the end of the war in the Pacific. However, Japan’s geo-strategic realities have rapidly evolved since the end of the Cold War, when the US could effectively guarantee the security of the island nation. Growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and modernisation efforts resulting in the fielding of key power projection capabilities, including aircraft carriers and supporting strike groups, fifth-generation combat aircraft, modernised land forces, area-access denial and strategic nuclear forces, combined with growing political and financial influence throughout the region, have served to shake Japan’s confidence.
The JFY2019 Defense Related Budget Request reinforces Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to strengthening the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) through a number of initiatives, particularly developing key capabilities across existing and new domains, including AI, cyber, space and electronic warfare.
The rate of technological evolution has reshaped the field of warfare and the weapons and platforms that will be used. Japan’s proximity to China and developments in the ballistic missile, force projection, cyber capability and anti-space domains, in particular, have prompted a quick response from Japan.
Space is an area of intense focus for the JSDF, with the government seeking to invest about 27.01bn yen in a number of key space capabilities, including:
- 26.8bn yen to develop a space situational awareness (SSA) system in co-operation with major allies;
- 180m yen to enhance the command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities of the JSDF, including the vulnerabilities of satellites and their countermeasure, space-based electromagnetic surveillance to secure the stable utilisation of outer space; and
- 30m yen to develop and study SSA capability enhancements, including a space-based optical telescope to support the tracking and identification of space debris and unidentified objects that pose a threat to Japan’s satellites in geostationary orbit.
Australia’s developing local space industry, defence and academia are well positioned to benefit from Japan’s defence and space build-up across a number of areas.
In particular, Australia’s expertise in SSA capabilities, launch vehicle specialists, space-based internet of things (IoT), Earth observation, advanced manufacturing and advanced materials, from companies including EOS, Fleet, Kleos, the CSIRO, Myriota, Gilmour Space and Black Sky Aerospace to name a few, are well positioned to capitalise on the growing demand from Japan’s defence and aerospace industries.
Building on these key capabilities can be combined with Australia’s rapidly developing research and development credentials in hypersonics, artificial intelligence and cyber security to enhance the economic and strategic relationship between the two nations.
In particular, Japan’s heavy investment in hypersonic vehicles and the aforementioned SSA capabilities are areas that Australian industry can add value to the Japanese supply chain.
Australia and Japan are working closely to help maintain a peaceful Indo-Pacific, as affirmed under the Australia-Japan Special Strategic Partnership.
The Australia-Japan relationship is the nation’s closest and most mature in Asia and is underpinned by the strategic, economic, political and legal interests of both countries. The countries work closely in strategic alliance with the US, and lead in critical regional partnerships with countries such as India and the Republic of Korea.
Australia and Japan regularly participate in joint defence exercises and frequently consult on regional security issues, such as the nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches undertaken by North Korea.
The Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC) signed in 2007 provides a foundation for wide-ranging co-operation on security issues for both countries, including law enforcement, border security, counter-terrorism, disarmament and counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The JDSC also established the regular 2+2 talks between the respective foreign and defence ministers. (Source: Space Connect)
24 Dec 18. Mission Accomplished for ESA’s Butane-Propelled CubeSat. The cereal-box sized GomX-4B – ESA’s biggest small CubeSat yet flown – has completed its mission for the Agency, testing out new miniaturised technologies including: intersatellite link communication with its GomX-4A twin, a hyperspectral imager, star tracker and butane-based propulsion system.
“This multifaceted little mission has performed extremely well in flight,” says Roger Walker, overseeing ESA’s Technology CubeSats. “What its results demonstrate is that European CubeSats are now ready for operational deployment, as the first generation of CubeSat constellations in low Earth orbit for a variety of applications. So our post-flight review has declared ESA’s in-orbit demonstration mission a success, but in fact GomX-4B’s story is far from over. GomSpace, the manufacturer of the satellite, continues to operate the nanosatellite, while GomSpace’s subsidiary in Luxembourg will be in charge of mission exploitation.”
Much quicker to build and cheaper to launch than traditional satellites, ESA is making use of CubeSats based on standardised 10 cm boxes for testing new technologies in space.
GomX-4B was ESA’s first six-unit CubeSat, double the size of its predecessor GomX-3, built for ESA by GomSpace in Aalborg, Denmark, also the builder of GomX-4A for the Danish Ministry of Defence. The CubeSat pair was launched on 2 February from Jiuquan, China.
GomX-4B used its butane cold gas propulsion system to manoeuvre away from its twin, flying up to 4500 km away in a fixed geometry – a limit set by Earth’s curvature, and representative of planned CubeSat constellation spacing – to test intersatellite radio links allowing the rapid transfer of data from Earth between satellites and back to Earth again.
Supplied by the Swedish branch of GomSpace, the propulsion system allows the CubeSat to adjust its orbital speed in a controlled manner by a total of 10 m/s – a speed equivalent to a kicked football.
“Despite all our orbital manoeuvres, GomX-4B still has a lot of fuel,” comments Roger. “Of the original 130 grams of butane, only 13 grams were consumed during the mission.”
In another first, GomX-4B acquired the first hyperspectral images of Earth from a CubeSat. Cosine Research in the Netherlands and its partners constructed the hand-sized HyperScout imager for ESA. This divides up the light it receives into many narrow, adjacent wavelengths, gathering a wealth of environmental data.
The mission also proved that hyperspectral image processing can be performed aboard, to reduce the amount of data needing to be transmitted down to Earth. High-quality image acquisition requires good pointing accuracy and stability, so GomX-4B also trialled a miniaturised star tracker developed by Dutch CubeSat manufacturer ISIS to orient itself by its surrounding starfield, turning itself using fast-spinning reaction wheels.
A final experimental payload gathered data on how orbital radiation affects computer memories. The large amount of flight data returned by the mission is being analysed as a source of lessons learnt to guide the development of follow-on CubeSat missions, starting with GomX-5 whose 12-unit design begins next month at GomSpace. The GomX missions are funded primarily by Denmark in the ‘Fly’ element of ESA’s General Support Technology Programme to develop and prove leading edge space technologies. ESA has a trio of Technology CubeSats from Belgium planned to fly during the new year: Qarman to gather atmospheric reentry data, Simba to monitor Earth’s radiation budget and Picasso to monitor the troposphere and stratosphere. (Source: ASD Network)
23 Dec 18. GPS III and the demands of a dangerous new space age. After an aborted launch Tues., Dec. 18. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully carried its payload into orbit Sun., Dec. 23. With the launch begins the installation of a new constellation of GPS satellites and a looming question over the entire enterprise: Can communications in space be secured by good satellite design alone?
“Launch is always a monumental event, and especially so since this is the first GPS satellite of its generation launched on SpaceX’s first national security space mission. As more GPS III satellites join the constellation, it will bring better service at a lower cost to a technology that is now fully woven into the fabric of any modern civilization,” Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, said in a released statement.
“It keeps GPS the gold standard for positioning, navigation and timing information, giving assured access when and where it matters. This event was a capstone, but it doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re going to run a series of procedures for checkout and test to ensure everything on Vespucci functions as it was designed.”
The day the launch was aborted, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the president had signed an order to create U.S. Space Command, a sign that maybe design alone is insufficient for stability in orbit. The memorandum assigns to Space Command, among other responsibilities, “the space‑related responsibilities previously assigned to the Commander, United States Strategic Command.”
A Space Command previously existed from 1985 through 2002, when it was reorganized and its responsibilities were folded into Strategic Command. Worth noting, too, is that this is a distinct move from the possible creation of a distinct Space Force as an independent branch.
In the meantime, as the administration debates how and if it wants to transfer from a subtle to an explicit militarization of space, the satellites are going into orbit. GPS III satellites, made by Lockheed Martin, cost $577m apiece for the first 10. The program’s costs continue to rise, so that unit price may inch upward.
Each satellite is over half-a-billion dollars of vital asset, as expense as a half-dozen F-35As. When the Air Force talks about the alternatives it’s developing to GPS constellations, the conversation is often about finding ways to achieve the same effect without the singularly large expensive vulnerable targets. If there is a Plan B for GPS, it might be in clouds of smaller satellites. But GPS III remains Plan A and, for Plan A to work, it has to survive in an increasingly hostile orbit.
Here is the threat environment faced by satellites: The United States and China have both destroyed deorbiting satellites of their own with missiles and other nations are developing missiles that might be capable of shooting down satellites. To the extent that a vulnerability to missiles is managed, it is managed by deterrence, the threat of retaliation and the uncontrolled danger that debris in orbit poses to all satellites.
Yet it’s the nonkinetic attacks that remain the likely vulnerability and pathway into disrupting the functions of a satellite network. To that end, Lockheed Martin and the Air Force boast that the GPS III satellite has up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities, a metric that reveals the threat environment far more than it describes the measures taken against it. Reached for comment, Lockheed Martin decline to comment on what, exactly, was eight-times improved.
Adversaries who want to degrade the usefulness of GPS can do so in a variety of ways, and most of them involve obscuring or interfering with the signal. Nations such as Iran and North Korea, as well as expected players China and Russia, have electronic warfare capabilities that can interfere with the signals from commercial satellites, though their capability against existing and future military satellites is unknown. Cyber means of satellite interference were demonstrated by the Tamil Tigers in 2007, and other nonstate actors may also be able to interfere in a similar way, though one hopes cybersecurity for satellites has improved in the decade since. Spoofing signals can also fool GPS receivers into following false and deliberately malicious coordinates.
What GPS III’s anti-jamming capabilities acknowledge is that electronic warfare is hardly a terrestrial-only affair. The moves toward a Space Force, a unified Space Command and, even more ominously, an Air Force that declares space a “war-fighting domain” acknowledge the vulnerability of satellites to a variety of means of interference, disruption or destruction poses real security risks to the military narrowly and the functioning of the modern world broadly.
What is yet to be determined is if space, like cyber before it, will remain primarily a domain of espionage, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare, with the satellites regarded as physically inviolate nodes. The alternative is the space becomes a domain for kinetic war fighting, with massive, powerful, jamming resistant satellites a target for destructive missiles or other physical means. However it plays out, from the unified Space Command to the launch of GPS III, 2018 marks a change in how the United States views the role of the military in space.
What remains to be seen is if the change is durable and how the rest of the world adapts. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
23 Dec 18. Comtech EF Data Enhances Their Satellite Modem and Optimization Portfolio. Comtech EF Data Corp. a subsidiary within Comtech Telecommunications Corp.’s (Nasdaq: CMTL) Commercial Solutions segment, has set a new industry performance record for General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) Tunneling Protocol (GTP) acceleration, enabling faster downloads and enhanced Quality of Experience (QoE) in LTE and 5G networks. As the mobile industry is preparing for the introduction of 5G, Comtech EF Data has enhanced their award-winning satellite modem and optimization portfolio to support demanding mobile applications and services. The November 2018 Ericsson Mobility Report highlights that there are now 25 LTE-Advanced networks in the world supporting Gigabit download speeds. The report also states that with the introduction of 5G, user demand for mobile data services are expected to increase at a 31 percent CAGR until 2024.
Comtech EF Data is the primary satellite modem vendor that develops and manufactures an end-to-end portfolio of optimizers and modems in-house to accommodate high throughput in LTE and 5G networks over satellite. The latest test of the Comtech EF Data FX Series WAN Optimization solutions demonstrated 700 Mbps of throughout for a single IPv6 TCP session in an LTE environment. When paired with Comtech EF Data’s lineup of satellite modems or the Heights™ Networking Platform, the FX Series provides acceleration to maximize the throughput and usage of the link to the modem’s current capacity. When coupled with Comtech EF Data’s HX Series Load Balancing product, the total throughput can reach up to 5 Gbps, well within the performance goal established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 5G networks. In North America, a major satellite operator is already rolling out the solution in support of 3 Gbps to a single site while supporting hundreds of thousands of concurrent accelerated TCP sessions.
Richard Swardh, SVP, Mobile Network Operators for Comtech EF Data, said the company is recognized as the performance leader in satellite backhaul infrastructure equipment. With the latest additions to the firm’s portfolio, Comtech EF Data is again demonstrating the company’s commitment to supporting the most demanding mobile applications and services. Customers can be assured that by investing in the firm’s technology today, they have a solution that will grow and scale in line with ever-increasing demands for higher speeds as 5G is being deployed worldwide. (Source: Satnews)
23 Dec 18. UK space industry aims to chart post-Brexit course. Airbus is one company that has lost out on tenders as concerns rise over leaving EU. The grand salons of Lancaster House in London’s Whitehall played host to the great and the good of Britain’s space industry this month. But a star guest was missing from the Christmas reception: the minister with responsibility for space technology. Sam Gyimah had resigned from his post as universities and science minister a few days before in protest at the government’s Brexit policy. The news that the UK would walk away from the military aspects of Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation programme after being told by Brussels it would be excluded from them was, said Mr Gyimah, a “clarion call” that EU interest would take precedence after Brexit. The industry has a new minister Chris Skidmore — but the consequences of Britain’s decision are still being digested across the industry. Executives worry that while the UK space sector has attracted substantial amounts of private capital over the years, the uncertainty over Brexit and Galileo could impact the industry’s longer-term ambitions. “There is a view that there is a lot of money to be invested, there is venture capital funding here but the issues around Galileo have created uncertainty,” said one executive who attended the reception. Companies that have already lost out on contracts for Galileo because of Brexit include Airbus, the European aerospace group, while others that could be affected include CGI UK, formerly Logica, and FTSE 250 group Qinetiq. British industry has been closely involved in the development of Galileo since its launch in 2003 as the world’s first civil-run satellite navigation system. Brussels, however, had consistently argued that Britain would no longer have access to the secure elements of Galileo when it leaves the EU. In particular, it said that under EU law, countries outside the bloc cannot have access to Galileo’s public regulated service (PRS), an encrypted navigation system for government users. It is this decision that has hit Airbus, which designs and manufactures satellites at its Stevenage site, and has run Galileo’s sensitive ground control operations from Portsmouth. The company lost out in a competitive tender for a follow-on contract this summer. Around 100 jobs, most of them temporary, have been lost at Portsmouth as a result, sources close to the company confirmed. Airbus subsidiary and a spinout from the University of Surrey, Surrey Satellite Technology, SSTL, which makes the payload — or brains — for the current generation of Galileo satellites, has also been locked out of bidding to provide the fourth batch of satellites for Galileo — the first of a new type, which is under way. Other companies that have played a role on Galileo include CGI UK, which has provided much of the encryption used by PRS while Qinetiq is involved in the design and build of PRS receivers. Immediate concerns are focused on what will happen with the UK’s involvement in another EU-wide programme, the Copernicus earth observation programme. Non-EU nationals are not allowed to work on it but both sides say talks on the UK’s continued participation are continuing. The UK will remain a member of the European Space Agency which is independent of the EU. “It would be a limiting glass ceiling for the UK space sector if we can’t be involved in EU space,” said Andrew Shepherd, professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds. The UK government has said it will commit £92m towards a national alternative to Galileo but the industry is calling for a wider “sector deal” to help underpin a domestic space programme. “We have some ad hoc national investment in individual programmes . . . but what industry really needs now is a sustained national space programme running alongside our investment in the European Space Agency just like other EU countries such as France and Germany,” said Graham Peters, chair of UKspace, the industry trade body.
Britain has set an ambitious target of cornering 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030 in a sector dominated by the US, Russia, and China. Despite the shadow of Brexit looming over some of the larger companies in the industry there is still a strong current of optimism. Unlike France or Italy the UK has prioritised investments that will deliver commercial returns. As a result, the UK space industry is dominated by strong commercial sectors such as broadcasting and communications, which account for about three-quarters of all income generated by the industry, according to a 2016 report by London Economics, the research consultancy. Total income between 2014-15 was £13.7bn. Mark Boggett, chief executive of Seraphim Capital, the world’s first venture fund dedicated to the space industry, said while the sector “seems to get short changed on the allocation of public funds,” private capital has been pouring in. More venture capital funds have been committed in the last three years in the UK than the previous 15 years combined.
According to the Seraphim Space Index, a publication of global venture capital investment in the space technology sector, nine companies in the UK received $32m worth of funding from venture capitalists during the year to end September 2017. In the following year to end September 2018, that figure had increased to $185m invested into 20 companies. One area that has seen rapid expansion is the Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire, which currently boasts 89 organisations that make up the UK’s most concentrated group of commercial, public and academic organisations focused on space innovation. Angus Horner, director of the Harwell Campus Partnership, believes the sector is in a “more robust state than a decade ago”, noting that about 44 per cent of the world’s small satellites are made in the UK. “We have a very interesting ability to do some things quite well,” he said. He concedes that there is “immediate project and contract uncertainty for companies affected by Galileo” but said he is confident that “in the medium-term there will be a replacement programme”. As part of its industrial strategy launched last year, the government has set a target of spending 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product on research and development across sectors in a bid to improve Britain’s productivity. Mr Horner believes this target will help provide a “more strategic focus” for the space sector. Mark Thomas, chief executive of Reaction Engines, a company working on a propulsion system that is part jet engine, part rocket engine and whose backers include BAE Systems and Boeing, said government support has been “very important” to the company. With technological advances bringing the possibility of low-cost access to space ever closer, industry executives hope the UK will be able to leverage its success to build a truly sustainable industry — one backed by a national programme. (Source: FT.com)
23 Dec 18. Raytheon’s GPS OCX supports first-ever launch of modernized GPS satellite into orbit. The U.S. Air Force used Raytheon Company’s (NYSE: RTN) GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX, to support the launch of the first modernized GPS satellite into space. GPS OCX will now maneuver the GPS III satellite into its final orbit, a process that will take the ground control system 10 days to accomplish.
“The GPS OCX Block 0 launch and checkout system is foundational to the improved precision, navigation and timing of the entire constellation,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “And we’ll all benefit from the system’s unprecedented level of cybersecurity protections.”
The fully modernized GPS OCX Block 0 launch and checkout system will support the launch of future GPS III satellites, enabling the introduction of a new civil signal, enhanced military signals, and anti-jam capabilities. The ground system has achieved the highest level of cybersecurity protections of any Department of Defense space system, and its open architecture allows it to integrate new capabilities and signals as they become available, ensuring continued protection against future cyber threats. In addition to GPS OCX’s role, RGNext, a joint venture between Raytheon and General Dynamics IT, provided operational launch support to ensure the safe launch of the Falcon 9 rocket that was carrying the GPS III satellite. RGNext operates the launch range on behalf of the U.S. Air Force, providing maintenance, range safety, weather monitoring, communication and surveillance support for all launches conducted by defense, civil and commercial companies at the range.
23 Dec 18. Launch of the first GPS III satellite begins the modernization of the GPS constellation. At approximately 12,550 miles (20,200 km) up… turn left. You have arrived at a new era for the Global Positioning System (GPS). A major milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s plan to bring new technology and capabilities to the GPS constellation, the first Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)-built GPS III satellite began “talking” with engineers and operators from ground control, as planned, following its successful launch this morning.
GPS III Space Vehicle 01 (GPS III SV01) is now receiving and responding to commands from Lockheed Martin’s Launch and Checkout Center at the company’s Denver facility. Air Force and company engineers declared satellite control signal acquisition and rocket booster separation about 119 minutes after GPS III SV01’s launch. The satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 8:51 a.m. EST.
GPS III SV01 is the first of an entirely new, next generation GPS satellite designed to modernize the GPS constellation. GPS III has three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. Spacecraft life will extend to 15 years, 25 percent longer than any of the GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal will also make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Europe’s Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.
Once declared operational, GPS III SV01 is expected to take its place in today’s 31 satellite strong GPS constellation, which provides positioning, navigation and timing services to more than four billion civil, commercial and military users. The Air Force nicknamed the satellite “Vespucci” after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
“In the coming days, GPS III SV01 will use its liquid apogee engines to climb into its operational orbit about 12,550 miles above the earth. We will then send it commands to deploy its solar arrays and antennas, and begin on-orbit checkout and tests, including extensive signals testing with our advanced navigation payload provided by Harris Corporation,” said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for Navigation Systems.
Air Force and Lockheed Martin engineers are controlling GPS III SV01’s launch and checkout test using elements of the GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 0. Satellite control and operations are expected to shift to the Air Force’s current Operational Control Segment when GPS III Contingency Operations upgrades are fully implemented later this year.
“This is the Air Force’s first GPS III, so we are excited to begin on-orbit test and demonstrate its capabilities,” Caldwell said. “By this time next year, we expect to also have a second GPS III on orbit and users should be receiving signals from this first satellite.”
Lockheed Martin developed GPS III and manufactured GPS III SV01 at its advanced $128m GPS III Processing Facility near Denver. In September 2017, the Air Force declared the satellite “Available for Launch” (AFL) and had the company place it into storage. Last summer the Air Force “called up” the satellite for launch and Lockheed Martin delivered it to Florida on Aug. 20. On Dec. 8, GPS III SV01 completed pre-launch processing, fueling and encapsulation at Astrotech Space Operations, in Titusville, Florida.
GPS III SV01 is the first of 10 GPS III satellites originally ordered by the Air Force. GPS III SV03-08 are now in various stages of assembly and test. In August, the Air Force declared the second GPS III “AFL” and, in November, called GPS III SV02 up for a 2019 launch.
In September, the Air Force selected Lockheed Martin for the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program, an estimated $7.2bn opportunity to build up to 22 additional GPS IIIF satellites with additional capabilities. GPS IIIF builds off Lockheed Martin’s existing modular GPS III, which was designed to evolve with new technology and changing mission needs. On Sept. 26, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.4bn contract for support to start up the program and to contract the 11th and 12th GPS III satellite.
20 Dec 18. Can 3D-printed equipment survive the harshness of space? One problem with space is once you’re there you’re in the middle of nowhere. A broken tool or a missing part outside Earth’s atmosphere is a really big deal. Sending replacements is a long and expensive process, not to mention a risky one. In the “Star Trek” science fiction franchise, a machine on the Starship Enterprise known as the “replicator” offered astronauts a simple solution: create objects on-board, on-demand and out of thin air. Today, recent advances in 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, may be bringing the replicator closer to a reality.
There is just one problem: Before embracing 3D printing for space, scientists want to be sure that 3D-printed materials can function and survive in the harsh space environment over the long haul.
Harris Corporation, along with the International Space Station, is running an experiment to determine just that. The company announced plans Nov. 29 to send a 3D-printed radio frequency (RF) antenna into space to study how such a drastic change in environments will affect its performance.
“The objective is to fly an experiment consisting of 3D-printed materials and analyze the RF properties of those materials in a space environment,” said Dr. Arthur Paolella, senior scientist for Harris Space and Intelligence Systems.
Beyond the convenience of in-space conception, scientists see 3D printing as a promising method for manufacturing RF systems because of its low cost and ability to print complex shapes and conformable systems that traditional manufacturing cannot.
“3D printing provides the freedom to print complex structures more easily,” Dr. Paolella said.
“As far as we know, this will be the first systematic approach to analyzing 3D-printed materials for RF systems in space.”
The project is part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment, a series of experiments mounted on the outside of the International Space Station with the goal of investigating the effects of long-term exposure of materials to the harsh space environment.
There are several key environmental challenges that space operations will present to the 3D-printed materials.
One immediate concern is the extreme temperature variations seen in low-Earth orbit. Because spacecrafts move in and out of sunlight many times per day while orbiting around Earth, temperatures can range from -120 degrees Celsius to +120 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, the RF systems will have to withstand high levels of ultraviolet radiation; highly reactive levels atomic oxygen; and constant impacts from micrometeoroid and other orbital debris.
“The plan is to test the RF system at three points in the program: pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight,” says Paolella.
“We are very optimistic. The circuits developed to this date show good RF performance and have suitability for space applications.”
Harris has partnered on the project with the Israeli-based company Nano Dimension, known for its innovative 3D printers. Using Nano Dimension’s DragonFly 2020 printer, the companies have developed a 3D-printed proof-of-concept RF antenna designed to operate at 5.2 GHz and an RF amplifier with operation up to 6 GHz. The development of the hardware is expected to take one year, according to Paolella. Funding for the project came from the Harris Innovation Office and the Space Florida Foundation, the aerospace economic development agency of the State of Florida. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
20 Dec 18. India’s GSLV-F11 launches communication satellite GSAT-7A into orbit. India has launched communication satellite GSAT-7A on board the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F11). Lifted off from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, GSLV-F11 carried and injected the 2,250kg GSAT-7A into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). GSAT-7A is the 39th Indian communication satellite launched by GSLV, which is the fourth-generation launch vehicle with three stages. The satellite will improve communication systems of the Indian Air Force.
GSLV-F11 was the ‘seventh flight carrying indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage’ and the 13th flight of GSLV-MkII.
ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan said: “In the last 35 days, ISRO has successfully launched three missions from SDSC starting with GSLV MkIII-D2 on 14 November, PSLV-C43 on November 29 and finally GSLV-F11 today. GSLV has successfully injected GSAT-7A into a super-synchronous transfer orbit.”
Launch proceedings were overseen by mission director Mohan M and satellite director Killedar Pankaj Damodar.
Scientists at the ISRO’s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in the Indian state of Karnataka will now use GSAT-7A’s on-board propulsion system to inject the satellite in its final intended orbit.
Sivan added: “The cryogenic stage of this vehicle has been modified to increase the thrust rate. GSAT-7A is an advanced communication satellite with a Gregorian Antenna and many other new technologies. The testing and realisation of this satellite has been carried out meticulously by Ithe SRO team. We have signed off the year 2018 on a high and positive note.”
In June, India’s Union Cabinet approved $1.6bn funding for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and GSLV rocket programmes. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
19 Dec 18. Ovzon Signs On SSL to Manufacture The Company’s First Satellite. Ovzon has signed a contract with SSL, a Maxar Technologies company, for the manufacture of the company´s first GEO satellite. The total investment for the satellite (Ovzon-3) including manufacturing, launch, financing and insurance is estimated to approximately SEK 1.5bn (Swedish Krona). The satellite will feature a central, On-Board Processor (OBP), developed by Ovzon and already in manufacturing by a third party, tied to high performance steerable beams. With the new satellite, Ovzon will significantly increase the performance and coverage area of its existing service. The satellite is expected to be completed in 2021 and the launch period with SpaceX has been adjusted accordingly. The contract is conditional on Ovzon raising financing.
Per Wahlberg, CEO of Ovzon, said the satellite will enable new functionality such as single hop communication between very small terminals and will be a powerful future-proof tool to meet challenging communications requirements. The company now continues to strive to further revolutionize mobile broadband via satellite by offering the highest bandwidth through the smallest terminals.
Dario Zamarian, Group President of SSL, added that the company’s collaboration with Ovzon underscores the demand for a new class of communication satellite that is flexible, affordable and highly advance. SSL brings the innovation and heritage required to help Ovzon deliver a new class of mobile broadband service to its customers. (Source: Satnews)
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