Sponsored By Viasat
21 Feb 19. President Trump Issues Space Policy Directive-4: Establishment of the United States Space Force. President Donald J Trump has issued Space Policy Directive-4: Establishment of the United States Space Force. This Directive calls on the Secretary of Defense to develop a legislative proposal establishing the Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces. The Space Force will initially be established within the Department of the Air Force. It also launches a joint interagency review by the National Space Counsel and the National Security Council to recommend changes to space operational authorities to address the threats posed by foreign adversaries and requires the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to create collaborative mechanisms to improve space capabilities and operations. (Source: glstrade.com)
21 Feb 19. Thales partners with Spaceflight Industries to disrupt smallsat industry. A joint venture between Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries is set to disrupt the global smallsat industry by producing cost-effective satellites at a new state-of-the-art smallsat production facility. The Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries joint venture saw the creation of LeoStella, a smallsat design and manufacturing company, which recently announced the inauguration of its production facilities. The first satellite produced by LeoStella will be an Earth-observation satellite for BlackSky’s constellation; it is scheduled to be completed by the end of Q1 in 2019. The company is contracted to manufacture the next 20 satellites in BlackSky’s constellation.
“With the growing number of constellations, there is a large demand for efficient smallsat production and LeoStella is uniquely positioned to address that demand,” said Chris Chautard, LeoStella CEO.
When operating at capacity, LeoStella’s production facilities will enable the company to produce up to 30 satellites a year, ranging from Earth-observation and telecom satellites. Additionally, LeoStella has spent the last year selecting its suppliers and forming partnerships with key vendors.
Brian O’Toole, president of Spaceflight Industries and CEO of BlackSky said, “LeoStella is positioned to disrupt the smallsat industry. The company is critical to BlackSky’s success as we work to get our constellation on orbit quickly. Part of making space more accessible is lowering all the costs associated, including the design and construction of the assets placed on orbit. LeoStella will make constellation production lean, nimble and affordable.”
Viktoria Otero Del Val, EVP strategy at Thales Alenia Space, echoed these comments, saying, “LeoStella is fully in line with Thales Alenia Space’s strategy to match the new needs for new space. It will complement and leverage its undisputed experience of mass production for constellation with its success of Globalstar, O3B and, more recently, Iridium NEXT, making Thales Alenia Space the worldwide leader for constellations.”
LeoStella is a state-of-the-art satellite design and manufacturing company transforming constellation construction by building smallsats cost-effectively and at scale. Based in Tukwila, Washington, LeoStella is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries, founded to meet the growing demand for efficient satellite manufacturing from the increasing number of constellations.
Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures.
Dedicated to improving our planet and society from the high vantage point of space, Spaceflight Industries’ distinct approach removes the complexities and high cost that once prohibited the majority of organisations from getting to space and observing our planet. Through its services, Spaceflight and BlackSky, the company is enabling timely and affordable access to space while redefining how we observe our planet in real time across every spectrum. (Source: Space Connect)
19 Feb 19. Interactive Space Simulation for Nanosatellites. Pioneer partner Open Cosmos are taking mission development to a new dimension, using a virtual reality-like simulation that replicates life in orbit for space technologies. Through an innovative combination of a plug-and-play test platform and software, the UK Harwell-based SME is slashing the time it takes for space missions to be designed and qualified for launch. Their online ‘beeApp’ software helps define a full space mission from the ground up, including selection of launchers, ground stations and satellite size. Based on those parameters, it runs simulations on the orbits, amount of power received by the satellite from the sun, and when it can communicate with the ground. This data is then used to create the optimal mission profile.
Once that has been decided, their ‘beeKit’ hardware emulates the size, on-board computer and electrical interfaces of a real satellite, to facilitate the design and testing of the actual payloads.
When linked, these two tools can simulate the mission in space, and how the payload will perform. The beeApp simulates the amount of available solar power, the ground station passes and the payload’s modes of operation and plays it back to the real payload installed in the beeKit. That then records the behaviour of the payload as if it was in orbit, providing the mission owners with the data they need to either improve the design or proceed with the mission as is.
Moreover, the kit hardware is a match for Open Cosmos’ beeSat operational platform, and can be tested along with the payload for the usual mechanical space-qualifying tests, such as vibration and thermal vacuum testing. This means that after the payload has proven to be able to withstand the replicated conditions of launch and space in the beeKit, it can immediately be integrated with the beeSat spacecraft platform, ready for the real thing.
Open Cosmos then takes care of all technical, legal, logistical and operational processes to bring the payload into orbit at minimal cost.
The company developed the tools under the ‘SAPION’ project of ESA’s ARTES Pioneer programme.
Khalil Kably, ESA Pioneer Programme Manager, said: “Pioneer is designed to support companies like Open Cosmos to provide in-orbit validation for other parties as what we call Space Mission Providers.
“Our purpose is to de-risk our partners’ investments to answer market needs, and we saw a real need to reduce the barriers that can impede the development of disruptive ideas and help Europe’s space sector remain at the cutting edge of technological innovation.”
Dani Sors, Open Cosmos Head of Customer Success and Florian Deconinck, Head of Strategic Partnerships presented their beeApp and beeKit tools to an audience of ESA experts and Member State delegates at ESA ECSAT on Harwell Campus, UK, on 6 February.
Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth, UK Space Agency, said: “The UK is the largest funder of satellite telecommunications research and applications through ESA. We continue to work closely with partners across Europe and the rest of the world to help space start-ups like Open Cosmos transform their exciting ideas into commercial realities, resulting in jobs, growth and innovation throughout the UK.”
Remco Timmermans, Open Cosmos Head of Communications, said: “Open Cosmos makes space accessible to new players, using new technology, in the shortest timeframes currently possible. We support anything from Earth observation, scientific instruments, telecommunications or new technology demonstrations, and can get a payload in orbit in much less than the usual time and at a fraction of the cost.
“There is a broad community of people with ambitious ideas struggling to get to orbit. Open Cosmos partners with that community to realise their space mission. The Open Cosmos Call to Orbit, supported by ESA, makes the beeApp and beeKit available for free, to start building the missions of tomorrow. “We make space accessible by making space missions simple.” (Source: ASD Network/European Space Agency (ESA))
19 Feb 19. Trump officially organizes the Space Force under the Air Force … for now. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a directive centralizing all military space functions under a new Space Force, which will be overseen by the Department of the Air Force.
While it is technically up to Congress to approve the creation of the Space Force, a sixth military branch that would organize, train and equip a corps of military space personnel, Trump’s signing of Space Policy Directive 4 marks the first time the administration has made clear how the new service would fit into the existing military structure.
According to SPD-4, the Space Force will initially reside under the Department of the Air Force and it will be led by a civilian undersecretary of the Air Force for space as well as a four-star general serving as the Space Force chief of staff — a measure that is less ambitious than the stand-alone service originally envisioned by the president.
An Air Force-led space service is thought to be more palatable to congressional critics, and coincides with draft versions of the legislative proposal that circulated throughout the Pentagon over the past months, which Defense News first reported on in December.
However, an administration official who spoke to reporters Tuesday morning maintained that putting the new service under the Air Force was “a step toward a future separate military department for space” and that the administration would make periodic reviews to see when it would make sense to deliver a second legislative proposal calling for a separate Department of the Space Force.
One of the biggest congressional critics of a separate space service, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, released a statement seemingly in support of SPD-4. That would be a massive reversal from his previous stance, which saw Turner trying to block legislation to stand up a Space Corps in 2017.
“Today’s signing of the Space Policy Directive – 4 is the first step in a process which may create the capabilities we need to ensure our success in the domain of space,” said Turner, who is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee.
“I believe it is important that space capabilities remain under the Air Force’s domain As we look towards Congress’s responsibility in legislating further on this issue, I look forward to working with my counterparts on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee to ensure that the President’s proposal satisfies our space needs, is cost effective, and results in increased capabilities.”
SPD-4 stipulates that all uniformed and civilian personnel currently supporting space operations will funnel into the Space Force. That means that certain Army and Navy personnel could find themselves in a new service under the discretion of the Air Force.
“We don’t anyone to be hurt if they transfer over into the Space Force,” the administration official said. “We’ll be moving, I think, fairly slowly, focusing on the headquarters functions to begin with, and then there will a lot of activity that will simply be moved over for people doing space operations. Then we will be laying out career tracks for people farther up.”
Meanwhile, intelligence agencies like the National Reconnaissance Office will continue to reside separately from the Space Force, as will agencies like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It’s still unclear how much it will cost to stand up the service. The senior administration official told reporters that initial costs would amount to less than $100m on top of what the services already budgeted to carry out space operations, but there may be a need to increase funding for military space activities in the future.
“If we take more aggressive actions for building up resiliency of our systems, creating counter-space capabilities and counter adversary threats, those things will cost more money,” he said.
In September, the Air Force released its own $13bn estimate of the costs over the next five years to stand up both a Space Force and a U.S. Space Command, a unified combatant command that will oversee space operations. That proposal also would integrate elements of NRO with the Space Force — a path of which the administration opted out.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said she stands by that estimate, even as Patrick Shanahan, now the acting secretary of defense, contends that creating a Space Force could cost less than $5bn.
During an event at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday morning, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein confirmed that the president would sign off on a plan laying out how the Space Force would be organized.
But the most important step to move space operations forward, Goldfein argued, is to set up a U.S. Space Command led by a four-star combatant commander — a move that does not need the approval of Congress and is separate from the Space Force directive.
“What’s going to roll out today is a service within the Department of the Air Force,” he said. “There’s a thousand decisions that have to be made to be able to work to the intricate details of how we move forward in establishing the service within the Department of the Air Force. But essential to me though, first and foremost, is the combatant command.”
As only Congress can create a new branch of the military, the administration’s next step is putting forward a “legislative proposal” that the House and Senate can consider passing into law.
“We’re going to get the proposal up to them as soon as we can. Initial informal conversations, I think, have been very encouraging,” the administration official said. “I think it can get done this year.” (Source: Defense News)
19 Feb 19. COMSAT offers Iridium Certus to US DoD, government and commercial users. With the final satellite in place linking the much-anticipated Iridium Certus NEXT constellation together, COMSAT now offers this powerful new service to aero, land-mobile, IoT and maritime users. In addition, the U.S.-based satellite connectivity business is the exclusive service provider for Air Force Space Command’s (AFSPACE) Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) program. The advanced multi-service Certus platform supports critical connectivity needs regardless of location, terrain, and weather. Significantly the COMSAT Certus service also enables military, government and enterprise users to transmit classified or sensitive information, using the highly secure and reliable voice and data low earth orbit satellite communications network.
Users of COMSAT’s Iridium Certus are supported by a 24/7 Network Operations Center and customer care, always managed by cleared, award-winning staff in the United States. Customers also have access to value added services such as COMSAT Zone®, a sophisticated online SIM card account management portal giving service providers the capability to activate/deactivate, manage usage, set up alerts and monitors for SIM cards. In addition, COMSAT IRIS®, designed to be a secure portal, serves as a complete online account management tool enabling government and commercial end users the ability to access near real-time user account information 24-hours a day. Both COMSAT Zone® and COMSAT IRIS® are supported by a free web- based tool accessed through a simple point-and-click interface and menu. Customers can purchase additional hardware, SIM cards and airtime through the DISA Storefront, the U.S. government’s General Service Administration agency, or via COMSAT directly via www.satcomstore.com.
“Certus, accessed through COMSAT, offers much more than inherent Communications Security (ComSec) and seamless global coverage for military and enterprise customers. From the single network platform, we can now connect aero, land-mobile, IoT and maritime uses securely, and more cost effectively from anywhere in the world, including the extremities of the poles. This enhanced communication improves final mission critical success in dynamic environments and significantly enhances commercial opportunities,” said COMSAT President David Greenhill.
The augmented network provides extended terrestrial and cellular capability supporting high-value services which improve operational efficiency. The scalable system with its unique overlapping architecture improves reliability and delivers powerful connectivity access from smaller, lighter devices bringing increased broadband access to a wider audience.
Satcom Direct (SD), an affiliate of COMSAT, is also an Iridium Aero Market Certus Value-Added Reseller and will provide the new service to the business aviation market in 2020. SD Avionics, the hardware division of SD, has been appointed as a Value-Added Manufacturer for Iridium Certus and is currently developing an aero terminal scheduled for release in 2020.
14 Feb 19. Space Agency secures new collaboration partnership. The Australian Space Agency has signed a major new memorandum of understanding (MoU) facilitating closer international partnerships in the space industry. Space Connect can confirm that the Australian Space Agency (ASA) has secured a new MoU with the United Arab Emirates Space Agency. Deputy head of the Australian Space Agency Anthony Murfett said the MoU signing was another milestone for the agency, demonstrating a commitment to fostering Australia’s growth in the global space economy.
“The agreement will facilitate co-operation across shared areas of interest, including exchange of best practice, and support academic and research capability,” Murfett said.
The signing of the agency’s fourth MoU took place on the grounds of the Australian Space Agency’s new home, Lot Fourteen in Adelaide, which will host local space industry businesses and support the growing defence industry sector.
Director general of the UAE Space Agency, His Excellency Dr Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, also welcomed the agreement, saying, “This agreement builds on the longstanding bilateral relationship between the UAE and Australia, and we are delighted to be working with the Australian Space Agency with whom we share much in common as relatively young entrants into the international space community. We are firm believers in the importance of international co-operation and collaboration in space.”
The Australian government is investing $41m over four years to establish and operate Australia’s first-ever national space agency and more than $260m to develop world-leading core satellite infrastructure and technologies. (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Feb 19. SCISYS and Southern Launch announce partnership. SCISYS Deutschland and Southern Launch have partnered up to utilise SCISYS’s software capabilities for Australia’s future Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex mission control centre. The Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex is currently under development by Southern Launch and is located along the southern coastline of Australia. The complex is dedicated to the launch of small-lift launch vehicles towards polar and sun-synchronous orbits, being designed to launch rockets between nine and 29 metres tall with a payload capacity of 50 to 400 kilograms.
Southern Launch will also develop and market SCISYS’s ground segment, mission control and other related software capabilities and offerings to the “broader Australian market” as part of the teaming Agreement.
“This agreement is the start of a long-term relationship with the broader Australian space ecosystem,” said Ulli Leibnitz, director SPACE, SCISYS Deustchland.
“Over the coming years, SCISYS and Southern Launch will develop further collaborations and research and development projects aimed at developing the next generation of trusted artificial intelligence algorithms and advanced mission control centre solutions.”
The two companies were introduced to each other last year at the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC) in Adelaide.
“The centre was proud to initiate collaboration between Southern Launch and SCISYS, with the partnership likely to unlock future growth opportunities for the broader space community in South Australia,” said Richard Price, chief executive of SASIC.
Lloyd Damp, CEO Southern Launch, said, “Teaming with SCISYS Deutschland GmbH provides Southern Launch and the wider Australian space and high-tech ecosystem with a strong platform for future technology developments.”
SCISYS Deutschland supplies bespoke software systems, IT-based solutions and support services to space, media and broadcast, government, defence and commercial sectors.
Southern Launch is yet to conduct a demonstration launch, however their website promises that will happen “as soon as possible”. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Feb 18. Leo Aerospace Plans to Make SmallSat Launches Far More Accessible. A startup that plans to use high-altitude balloons to deploy rockets has successfully fired a test launch, moving closer to their goal of helping end the backlog of smallsats that wait months or longer to “hitch” a ride on larger rockets.
Leo Aerospace LLC, a Purdue University-affiliated startup based in Los Angeles, launched its first “rockoon,” a high-power rocket from a reusable balloon platform, from the Mojave Desert in southern California in December. A video is available at this direct link…
The company aims to revolutionize access to space for those looking to launch smallsats that weigh up to 25 kilograms, or about 110 pounds. The company plans to be a “dedicated” launch for microsatellites, serving one customer at a time.
SpaceWorks Enterprises Inc. issued a report last year estimating that as many as 2,600 smallsats will be launched over the next five years. To accomplish this, more companies that can send the satellites into space are needed.
Large aerospace launch companies generally cater more to large satellite companies, leaving microsatellite companies to wait to see if there is any leftover space available and the smallsat operator must try to find rockets that will deploy the equipment somewhere in the vicinity of where they would like to be located. Even then, this process can require months to maneuver into place after already waiting for months for smallsat deployment.
With the test launch completed, the startup founders are now planning to move on to their next phase, which involves raising $8m to fund the company for the next two years. They also are looking to add personnel, including a VP for business development and VP of engineering. They are looking for people experienced in the aerospace industry who can bring valuable aerospace know-how to the firm.
The team spent two months in Australia last summer taking part in Startmate, an accelerator program, and plans to conduct at least some of their launches Down Under. Leo Aerospace’s long-term business plan includes engaging in a number of launches from Australia as regulations and air traffic can allow companies to fly more frequently,.
The startup’s work aligns with Purdue’s Giant Leaps celebration, celebrating the university’s global advancements in space exploration as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.
Leo Aerospace received their start at Purdue and received guidance from the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. The rocket scientists developed their business plan and learned what they needed to do to move forward.
Leo Aerospace already has begun taking letters of intent from smallsat companies. Hepfer said the company doesn’t plan to start selling launches until it is ready to begin launches. Leo plans to begin doing suborbital launches next year and break the edge of space by 2021. Suborbital launches allow scientists to gather information about the atmosphere and other research data.
The goal is to be able to start launching microsatellites into orbit by 2022. Those microsatellites will be able to monitor the health of crops, to track global commodity supplies and to advance scientific exploration.
Michael Hepfer, head of product development for Leo Aerospace and a senior in Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering, said it was thrilling to see that first launch after all those months of hard work and planning. This launch confirmed early testing that using high-altitude balloons and rockets to send microsatellites into space will work. It’s like taking a bus compared to taking an Uber. He added the advantage Leo Aerospace will have over larger companies is that the firm’s clients will be the smallsat companies and they will be able to deploy to precise locations. Additionally, using the high-altitude balloon as a launch pad will save money because it will deploy the rocket from up to 11 miles into the atmosphere. At that altitude, there is 95 percent less atmosphere, meaning there is much less drag, which means Leo Aerospace can use smaller rockets and less fuel.
Hepfer noted that the launch in December, which did not include a satellite deployment, provided Leo Aerospace with valuable data. He said the firm received great information about what happens to the balloon craft when the rocket is launching because it shakes, vibrates, and twists — next time a bigger rocket is launched, the company will know what changes need to be made beforehand. The big challenge was figuring out how to integrate a high-altitude balloon with the logistics of attaching a rocket to it and then launching it remotely,. A big part of that was automating a many of the systems as the balloon is going to be out of sight when the rocket is launched.
Dane Rudy, the company’s CEO and a graduate of Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, added that the company believes it should be as easy to put a microsatellite into space as it is to ship a package across the country. There will be no more need for ridesharing or hitchhiking. (Source: Satnews)
15 Feb 19. LeoStella Inaugurates State-of-the-Art Smallsat Production Facility. Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries joint venture plans to disrupt the smallsat industry by producing cost-effective satellites at scale. LeoStella, a smallsat design and manufacturing company, today announced the official inauguration of its production facilities in Tukwila, Wash. The company is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries. Formed in March 2018, LeoStella has been developing a state-of-the-art production facility to construct smallsats cost-effectively and at scale.
“With the growing number of constellations, there is a large demand for efficient smallsat production and LeoStella is uniquely positioned to address that demand,” said Chris Chautard, LeoStella CEO. “LeoStella is a unique blend of deep knowledge and expertise from Thales Alenia Space and innovation and agility from Spaceflight Industries. With the new facility, we are equipped to design and manufacture smallsats efficiently.”
The first satellite produced by LeoStella will be an Earth-observation satellite for BlackSky’s constellation. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of Q1 in 2019. The company is contracted to manufacture the next 20 satellites in BlackSky’s constellation.
“Small satellite constellations are unlocking a wide range of new information products for broad market opportunities,” said Brian O’Toole, president of Spaceflight Industries and CEO of BlackSky. “LeoStella is a critical element in the BlackSky constellation strategy, delivering robust satellite development and production that enables resilient, high-performing space capability. This ability to quickly innovate, produce and deliver assets to market quickly is disruptive for the industry.”
When operating at capacity, LeoStella’s production facilities will enable the company to produce up to 30 satellites a year, ranging from Earth-observation to telecom satellites. Additionally, LeoStella has spent the last year selecting its suppliers and forming partnerships with key vendors.
“LeoStella is fully in line with Thales Alenia Space’s strategy to match the new needs for new space,” said Viktoria Otero Del Val, EVP Strategy at Thales Alenia Space. “It will complement and leverage its undisputed experience of mass production for constellation with its success of Globalstar, O3B and more recently Iridium NEXT, making Thales Alenia Space the worldwide leader for constellations.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
15 Feb 19. Iran confirms second failed satellite launch – NBC News. Iran bid to launch a second satellite in the past two months has failed, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with NBC News published on Friday.
Its effort to launch a satellite last month also failed. Despite both failures, Zarif’s confirmation is likely to raise tensions with the United States, which is concerned the long-range ballistic technology used to send satellites into space could also be used to launch warheads. A representative for the U.S. National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iran views its space program as a matter of national pride. Tehran has denied that the space vehicle launches and missile tests violated a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Last month, Iran said a satellite it tried to launch did not reach adequate speed and failed. Iran’s telecommunications ministry said at the time that the satellite, named Payam, was intended to be used for imaging and communications purposes for about three years.
Iran launched its first domestically-built satellite in 2009, on the country’s 30th anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution. This month, Iran marked the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment on the NBC News report which was widely quoted by Iranian news outlets, including the state news agency IRNA. (Source: Reuters)
14 Feb 19. DARPA delays key Launch Challenge deadline. Key Points:
- DARPA delayed an important Launch Challenge milestone, allowing additional teams to pre-qualify
- The partial US federal government shutdown affected the launch licence approach, a programme requirement
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) delayed an important deadline by 30 days for its Launch Challenge (DLC), allowing additional teams to pre-qualify.
Todd Master, DLC programme manager, told two reporters on 12 February that the reason for the delay is that the Federal Administration Agency’s (FAA’s) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) was unable to issue launch licences, a programme requirement, due to the partial federal government shutdown that ran from December 2018 to January 2019.
Master, speaking at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s (CSF’s) Commercial Space Transportation conference on 12 February, said 18 teams have pre-qualified or passed the first stage of approval for DLC. He said that about 55 companies attended a proposer’s day in Los Angeles in May 2018. Many of these companies were in various stages of maturity.
The shutdown did not affect the Pentagon, but did affect the AST. Master said the federal government shutdown hurt DLC as there is considerable back-and-forth between AST and companies who apply for launch licences.
There are three steps to qualifying for DLC: pre-qualification, DARPA application, and qualification; receipt of a ‘complete enough’ designation from the FAA; and launch licence approval by the FAA.
Previously, teams that did not receive their FAA launch licence by 1 February could not qualify for the launch phase. Master declined to say how many teams had completed the three-step process.
DLC consists of two phases: the qualification phase and a launch phase featuring two launch competitions. Completing the qualification phase qualifies teams for an initial USD400,000 per awardee.
The launch phase consists of two launches. The first launch, a successful low earth orbit (LEO) mission to the correct orbit, results in a USD2m prize award. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Feb 19. University launches new Interdisciplinary Space Master. The University of Luxembourg announces the launch of a new two-year Interdisciplinary Space Master study course in the fall of 2019. The Master programme aims to provide students with the required engineering skills in the space industry, along with both deep and broad knowledge to manage space-related business activities. The Interdisciplinary Space Master has the support of Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy and the Luxembourg Space Agency and of a number of industry partners. “With the new study programme, the University responds to the growing need for graduates who are uniquely qualified to contribute to a growing and dynamic industry,” says University Rector Stéphane Pallage. Using a project-based learning approach, graduates will obtain a fundamental understanding of the scientific bases and technical requirements to manage space missions. Courses will touch upon space systems engineering, space operations, space resources utilization, space data mining and intelligent systems, satellite communications, and robotics. “Our programme is unique in that graduates will obtain a fundamental technical understanding of space-related projects, as well as the business, legal, and financial fundamentals required to develop start-up and scale-ups, as well as support the larger, established space companies,” adds Vice-Rector Tonie van Dam.
Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy said: “The Interdisciplinary Space Master further reinforces the dynamism of the national sector driven by the SpaceResources.lu initiative and the appeal of space and its potential. By training young people for their professional insertion into Luxembourg’s space ecosystem, the Master programme blends in with the government’s objective to become Europe’s hub for NewSpace activities, in particular in the field of exploration and use of resources in space.”
Luxembourg has a dynamic and growing space sector, with more than 50 private, public and academic players. In the context of its unique framework for the exploration and commercial utilization of resources in space, about 20 space companies have established a presence in Luxembourg in the last three years. Technological progress, cheaper access to space and interest from investors are expected to fuel the growth of the industry in the near future.
Claude Meisch, Minister of Higher Education and Research said: “The Space Master programme will be offered by two University Faculties, one interdisciplinary centre and industry experts and therefore the programme will have a unique interdisciplinary orientation. This Master programme of the University will provide a strong contribution to the economic development of the space sector.”
To ensure alignment of the programme with business requirements, the Master Course was developed with input from important players in the space sector. Some of these companies endorse the programme by offering internships to students.
The Luxembourg Space Agency contributes funding to support the programme. This funding serves to establish two new laboratories to support project-based learning and to recruit three professors who have in-depth expertise in space.
Marc Serres, CEO of the Luxembourg Space Agency, commented: “The Interdisciplinary Space Master is unique in Europe. The aim of this master program is to have in Luxembourg a constant pool of skilled engineers and innovative entrepreneurs creating the future leading commercial space enterprises. The students will acquire various skills needed by the local space companies and develop the entrepreneurial mindset needed to be successful in the development of a new space industry, in particular in the space resources sector.”
11 Feb 19. Airbus Expands Their Optical Production Capabilities for Satellites. Airbus is expanding their aerospace activities at the company’s site in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen, near Munich. The firm has reached two new milestones, with Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder and Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, giving the green light for the modernization of solar array production for satellites as well as for the commissioning of expanded clean rooms for optical satellite instruments. In total, the company will be investing approximately 25m euros. In February of 2019, Airbus will begin building an Industry 4.0* factory to automate and digitize the production of solar arrays for satellites. This will require a complete revamp of the production building, during which the site will be expanded by 800 m2 to a total of 5,500 m2. A robotic assembly line will also be introduced.
This 15m euros investment demonstrates the company’s ability to remain competitive on the world market, while the automated assembly line will allow throughput times and costs to be halved. This state-of-the-art technology will safeguard 170 jobs and position the company to maximize future growth opportunities, such as satellite constellations or ‘New Space’ approaches. Furthermore, ongoing cutting-edge research will be supported, particularly in the area of scientific satellites, such as the Jupiter mission or missions to the Sun or Mercury.
In addition Airbus will use the clean room (expanded by 250m2 to a total of 1,700 m2) for the integration of satellite-based optical instruments, an area in which Airbus has invested more than 10m euros at their Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen site. The new clean room will be used by some of the 150 employees in the Optical Instruments business unit to build the MERLIN instrument (Methane Remote Sensing Lidar Mission). MERLIN is a Franco-German satellite project to measure the methane concentration in Earth’s atmosphere to improve understanding of climate change.
Dirk Hoke, the CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said that the aerospace site in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen has not only shaped the history of cutting-edge technology over the last 60 years, it is also actively shaping the future. The company’s solar array production marks the firm’s entry into the age of Industry 4.0, with the site now boasting the largest clean room for optical satellite integration in Germany. This will improve the company’s competitive standing worldwide and will contribute towards safeguarding local jobs.
* According to Forbes, Industry 4.0 is a current trend in manufacturing that involves a
combination of cyber-physical systems, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), which together create a smart factory. (Source: Satnews)
10 Feb 19. SES’ New Additions… Four O3b MEO Satellites Arrive at Arianespace for March Launch. SES has announced that four, new, O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites have arrived safely at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, in preparation for launch by a Soyuz rocket from Arianespace in late March 2019.
The new Ka-band satellites will join SES’s existing constellation of 16 MEO satellites manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, orbiting at approximately 8,000km. from Earth and serving customers based in more than 40 countries. By increasing the size of the constellation from 16 to 20 satellites, SES Networks will offer enhanced coverage while providing greater service availability and reliability to cater to the increasing demand for bandwidth in the government, telecom, cloud, maritime and energy markets.
The O3b fleet of MEO satellites is the only proven non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation to provide carrier-grade commercial broadband services today. According to the company, O3b is the only satellite-based system capable of delivering MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE2.0) certified services, which meet the same stringent functional and performance requirements of CE2.0-certified terrestrial fiber services. The combination of O3b’s fiber-equivalent performance and massive geographic reach means the system can deliver high-performance data solutions — including cloud services and applications — across the globe. Enabled by the O3b system, SES Networks is the only satellite-based provider to be certified as an IBM Cloud Direct Link Service Provider.
With these four new satellites, SES completes the first generation of a high-power, high-throughput fleet of 20 satellites operating in MEO. Each satellite has a mass of approximately 700 kilograms at lift-off and provides capacity of more than 10 Gigabits per second. Additionally, the MEO system’s next generation, O3b mPOWER, is the only fully-funded NGSO broadband system in development and will be fully-integrated and backward compatible with the existing O3b system starting in 2021.
Ruy Pinto, the CTO at SES, said that since becoming operational in 2014, the unique offering of the O3b MEO system has transformed communities and disrupted industries by empowering people with new opportunities. Expanding the O3b constellation enables the company to continue elevating the connectivity experience, driving digital transformation and increasing cloud-scale adoption, by seamlessly integrating satellite-based services into the broader global terrestrial network. (Source: Satnews)
13 Feb 18. GOES-17 is Now NOAA’s Primary Satellite for All Pacific Weather Phenomenon. GOES-17 is now operational as NOAA’s GOES West satellite — the satellite will serve as NOAA’s primary geostationary satellite for detecting and monitoring Pacific storm systems, fog, wildfires, and other weather phenomena that affect the western United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. GOES-17 GeoColor view of the Northern Hemisphere, acquired on Feblruary 9, 2019.
The latest milestone for GOES-17 comes exactly 11 months after the satellite first reached its geostationary orbit 22,000 above Earth. Launched March 1, 2018, GOES-17 is NOAA’s second advanced geostationary weather satellite and the sister satellite to GOES-16 (also known as GOES East). Together, the two satellites provide high-resolution visible and infrared imagery as well as lightning observations of more than half the globe — from the west coast of Africa to New Zealand and from near the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle.
GOES-17 has already been helping forecasters track the weather and other environmental hazards in places such as California, Alaska and Hawaii. The satellite began transmitting its first images from its new orbital position in November of 2018. Since then, forecasters have been using GOES-17 data to see weather forming over the northeastern Pacific Ocean, where many weather systems that affect the continental U.S. first form.
Until recently, high-quality data coverage of the Pacific Ocean was sparse. Now that GOES-17 data is available, forecasters have access to more detailed views of high-impact weather systems and other environmental hazards such as wildfire smoke and volcanic ash.
For example, GOES-17 helps forecasters predict the intensity and impact of Pacific storms that hit the West Coast. These include atmospheric river events that bring heavy rain and high-elevation snow to California and the Pacific Northwest, especially during the winter months.
In Hawaii and the central Pacific Ocean, GOES-17’s high-resolution visible and infrared imagery will improve hurricane forecasts and allow meteorologists to better predict areas of intense rainfall. In 2018, Hawaii set a new national rainfall record when 49.69 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. The state also faced several tropical weather threats in what became an active hurricane season in the Central and Eastern Pacific.
Forecasters in Hawaii and other remote territories like the Marshall Islands and American Samoa are also now able to track thunderstorms in real-time. The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on-board GOES-17 helps forecasters determine when thunderstorms and convective weather events are intensifying or becoming more dangerous. In 2018, the National Weather Service began using GLM data to issue severe thunderstorm warnings and keep the public out of harm’s way.
Among the benefits of GOES-17’s high-resolution and rapid-scan capability is the satellite’s ability to detect wildfires and monitor smoke coverage in near real-time. The dry climate of the western U.S. makes the region especially vulnerable to wildfires. In 2018, for example, California faced one of its deadliest and most destructive wildfire seasons on record. Providing high-definition images as often as every minute, GOES-17 helps forecasters distribute critical information to firefighters and emergency managers that saves lives. Real-time imagery of smoke plumes from fires also improves air quality forecasts.
GOES-17 has been especially valuable to Alaska, where NOAA’s older geostationary satellites provided far less coverage. The state’s vast territory and sparse population mean that Earth-based observations from radar, aircraft and buoys, are limited.
The satellite’s combinable image channels (known as “multi-spectral imagery”) help forecasters distinguish between clouds, snow-covered ground and sea ice around Alaska’s coasts. These advanced imaging capabilities mean safer, more accurate aviation and shipping forecasts, especially during Alaska’s long, dark winter months, when visible satellite imagery is less useful.
Fog and icy conditions often cause flight delays and impact airport operations. At Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, fog occurs almost daily during winter. The airport is the second-busiest cargo airport in the U.S. and fourth-busiest in the world, which makes understanding the timing of fog and low clouds especially important. Just as GOES-16 data helped airlines mitigate flight delays at San Francisco International Airport in early 2017, GOES-17 data will help forecasters to predict when fog will form and clear with much greater accuracy.
Among GOES-17’s many benefits to Alaska is the satellite’s ability to track volcanic ash clouds. Data from GOES-17 makes it easier to determine the site of an eruption, as well as the height and direction in which an ash cloud is moving. Forecasters share this information with other agencies, such as the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Volcano Observatory to issue volcanic ash advisories and other warnings to keep air travel safe.
Now that the satellite is operational, GOES-17 replaces GOES-15 as NOAA’s GOES West satellite. The latter entered service in December of 2011. However, due to technical issues with GOES-17’s Advanced Baseline Imager — or ABI, the satellite’s main instrument — GOES-15 and GOES-17 will operate in unison until early July 2019. The overlap will allow scientists and engineers to make sure that GOES-17 is performing adequately before the older GOES-15 satellite gets placed in storage as a backup. According to Dr. Stephen Volz, the Director, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, the GOES-17 ABI is now projected to deliver more than 97 percent of the data it was designed to provide, a testament to the dedication of the engineers and all of the GOES project team members.
Michael Ottenweller, a National Weather Service forecaster at the Anchorage, Alaska field office, said that in his nearly six years forecasting here, he has never seen a product revolutionize the ability to forecast the way GOES-17 has — the advent of GOES over this domain makes forecasting tangibly easier and better. He described a recent experience forecasting fog over southwestern Alaska. Before GOES-17 data was available, forecasters would have to wait for data from polar-orbiting satellites passing over Alaska. Now, not only do is there reliable data, but that data can be looped. This changes everything. The GOES constellation will continue to meet the needs of forecasters across the country. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.