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28 Feb 19. Hughes delivers modems for MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles. Key Points:
- Hughes recently delivered its first HM400 units to GA-ASI for use on its MQ-9B UAVs
- The modem was customised for use on the aircraft
Hughes Network Systems recently delivered its first HM400 satellite communication (satcom) modems to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) for use on the company’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a company statement.
Rick Lober, vice-president and general manager of Hughes Defense & Intelligence Systems, told Jane’s on 25 February that the company will deliver additional modems every few months under the United Kingdom’s Protector programme production contract. The HM400 is a specialised, multiband modem that delivers up to 45 Mbps of throughput, which he called an industry-leading speed for UAVs. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Feb 19. Airbus, OneWeb aim for new satellite era with first launch. A rocket carrying six satellites built by Airbus SE and partner OneWeb blasted off from French Guiana on Wednesday, the first step in a plan to give millions of people in remote and rural areas high-speed internet beamed down from space. A successful launch could mark a new era in the satellite services industry. Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, LeoSat Enterprises, and Canada’s Telesat are working to enable data networks with hundreds or even thousands of tiny satellites that orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a radical shift made possible by leaps in laser technology and computer chips.
The growth in satellites will spur demand for rocket launch services, and a handful of venture-backed rocket companies are developing smaller boosters to deploy the smaller satellites at lower cost.
“We are looking in the next five years at potentially 10,000 satellites needing to be launched and we don’t have the launch capacity at this moment to do that,” aerospace consultancy Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres said.
The Arianespace Soyuz rocket lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana, at 6.37 p.m. (2137 GMT) carrying satellites made by the Airbus-OneWeb joint venture called OneWeb Satellites in Toulouse, France.
The refrigerator-sized satellites were expected to reach an altitude of 1,000km (620 miles) more than an hour after launch. It could take 24 hours to fully assess the health of the satellites.
OneWeb and others aim to expand the availability and speed of satellite-based internet compared to existing providers such as Hughes Network Systems, whose network is in a higher-altitude geostationary orbit. Hughes is also an investor in OneWeb and helping to build out its ground infrastructure.
OneWeb has raised more than $2bn from investors including Airbus, Coca-Cola, Qualcomm Inc, SoftBank and Virgin Group. It aims to have global broadband coverage in 2021 from about 650 satellites.
Virgin Group founder and billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson told Reuters that OneWeb’s launch gives them a multi-year market advantage over principal competitor Elon Musk’s SpaceX, though enough people lack internet globally to support both constellations.
“We think our network is going to be a better network and it’s going to happen quicker than his,” Branson said.
OneWeb plans to begin launching more than 30 satellites at a time every month starting as early as September so its constellation is nearly 25 percent complete by year-end, a person with direct knowledge of the project said.
Other firms say they are not far behind. Telesat, backed by Loral Space & Communications Inc, is targeting 2022 for broadband services from nearly 300 satellites.
Washington, D.C.-based LeoSat Enterprises says it has already signed more than $1bn in pre-launch provisional agreements for secure data transfers for global banks, telecoms providers and governments beginning in 2022.
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Reuters reported a major shake-up last year at SpaceX’s Starlink project, which Chief Executive Musk has said is critical as a funding source for his broader space transportation ambitions but faces challenges on development and testing.
A person with direct knowledge of the programme said SpaceX was driving towards a first “production launch” with money-making satellites in mid-2019.
SpaceX already has two test satellites in space and plans to launch a new design based on those “soon,” said one SpaceX official, who asked not to be named.
SpaceX has not chosen a location to manufacture the satellites or made a final decision on how it will build, sell and service the terminals that will link the satellite-based internet to users, people with direct knowledge of the project said.
Musk told employees in at least one meeting last year that SpaceX could decide to sell broadband to existing internet providers initially and worry about building out its own Earth infrastructure later, according to a person who attended the meeting.
SpaceX spokeswoman Eva Behrend declined to comment.
A SpaceX official said its initial batch of satellites were currently being manufactured, and its internal launch targets were on track, but the company has not announced a launch date.
The OneWeb project has forced Airbus to rethink the way it builds satellites, overhauling a painstaking, bespoke effort to introduce industrial methods and speed using assembly lines and automation.
The two companies plan to open what they say is the world’s first satellite mass-production factory at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in March for $85m. Production will ramp up to 15 satellites per week at a cost of $1m per satellite, executives say.
OneWeb Satellites Chief Executive Officer Tony Gingiss told Reuters the goal is to be making two to three satellites a day by early summer.
“That’s revolutionary in an industry where it costs $50m to build one satellite and normally takes months and a team of engineers to do,” Gingiss said. OneWeb has ground stations in Canada, Italy and Norway that allow the satellites to communicate with Earth, and has signed a partnership with Qualcomm to develop the technology that links the internet from space to different users, such as airlines. (Source: Reuters)
28 Feb 19. Defence provides update on Aussie research satellite. Under the current space program, an Australian miniature satellite, developed by the University of New South Wales Canberra under a research agreement with the Royal Australian Air Force, was launched from the US in December 2018.
The mission, known as Mission 1 (M1), is pushing the boundaries of small space technology for the Air Force. While efforts are still underway to communicate with the satellite, this is all part of the exploratory work.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, congratulated the team on the launch, saying, “This mission has provided the opportunity to build a team of engineers with the ability to design, build and operate satellites.”
The satellite program is a collaborative effort between the RAAF, UNSW Canberra, Defence Science and Technology and industry to demonstrate maritime surveillance technologies and provide new ways to enhance Australia’s future Defence space capability.
“With every mission we can take away valuable lessons that can be applied to future satellites. The next satellites in the program will now include additional communications paths, one of which operates independently from the rest of the satellite system,” AIRMSHL Davies added. (Source: Space Connect)
25 Feb 19. Joint Demos Try To Better Coordinate Ground Control & Satellites. The Air Force and other services, after decades during which America often built a highly capable military satellite but didn’t have the ground equipment to use it, are trying to claw back years and dollars of often wasted effort by holding joint experiments to test satellites and ground equipment at the same time.
“A lot of the things we are doing right now is to better synchronize the ground layer with the space layer,” Col. Russell Teehan, the Air Force’s Portfolio Architect of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center told me after a Mitchell institute breakfast. He said the approach today is: “don’t do a space demo; do an integrated ground and space demo.”
What’s the problem been? Here’s how the Government Accountability Office put it in 2009 (and it’s still a problem):
“Satellites, ground control systems, and user terminals in most of DOD’s major space system acquisitions are not optimally aligned, leading to underutilized satellites and limited capability provided to the warfighter. Of the eight major space system acquisitions we studied, three systems anticipated that their satellites will be launched well before their associated ground control systems are fully capable of operating on-orbit capabilities. Furthermore, for five of the eight major space systems GAO reviewed, user terminals were to become operational after their associated satellites reach initial capability — in some cases, years after.”
A key effort to correct this is the upcoming Navigation Technology Satellite 3, an experimental Position, Navigation and Timing bird expected to launch in 2022.
The Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space and Missile Systems Centerpicked Harris to build the bird on Dec. 20, following a wholesale restructuring of the program.
Braxton Technologies, of Colorado Springs, was picked in June 2017 to build ground stations for NTS-3. This will not only test both the satellite and the ground stations at the same time, but help move toward the larger goal for this pair of systems: to test a new form of GPS that can be sustained in the event of jamming and other attacks. A story by Military & Aerospace Electronics says Braxton “will look into different ways to reconstitute the ground control segment in the event of an attack; experiment with automated and lights-out operations; demonstrate space vehicle command and control through commercial ground antennas; show compatibility with the Enterprise Ground System (EGS) standards and the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) Mission System (JMS); and investigate modern processes to manage cyber risks.”
When I asked Teehan about the disconnect between satellites and ground stations at the Mitchell Institute event on Friday, he said he goes into every meeting with this in mind: “Don’t bring any piece of that system to me before it’s ready,” he said, noting that he and his colleagues at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center “stay very tight with the user base, the Army, the Navy. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure everyone knows what we’re doing, and they know what we’re doing, so when we deploy, it’s as a capability, not as a thing.”
During out chat, Teehan repeatedly mentioned NTS-3 as a key test of this approach. The Air Force is also doing its best once again to come up with standard satellite buses and those good ole “open architectures” to speed development and allow for faster upgrades. On its own, NTS-3 is likely to be really important to the future of the GPS constellation, because it’s the first experimental PNT bird to fly since the 1970s.
NTS-1 was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and launched in 1974 with two experimental technologies that helped improve the precision of GPS. NTS-2 launched in 1977. According to the Air Force, NTS-3 is the first “major DoD SatNav developmental program for experimentation since then.”
The Air Force Research Lab says NTS-3 program “will enable experimentation with multiple technologies and development of new concepts of operations. Technologies matured and knowledge gained from NTS-3 are expected to transition to future generations of GPS and potential augmentations to national PNT capabilities.”
And they should have a ground station to control the bird and collect data when the bird goes up, so it won’t just be spinning around with too little to do. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
26 Feb 19. Australia’s C-130J Super Hercules airlifters to get SATCOM upgrade. Australia is undertaking a series of upgrades to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules airlifter, improving connectivity, fuel payload and surveillance capabilities with the addition of new equipment. Working together with industry, the Royal Australian Air Force, or RAAF, has installed a wideband satellite communications system and is planning on fitting Litening pods onto one of its C-130J used as a capability demonstrator aircraft. RAAF is repurposing external fuel tanks from it retired older model C-130s to be fitted on its C-130J fleet.
Group Captain Tony Bull, director of capability development and transition at the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group, told Defense News at the ongoing Avalon Airshow that these modifications are part of the RAAF’s Plan Jericho umbrella, which seeks to transform the service into an integrated and networked 5th-generation Air Force.
The SATCOM suite features Honeywell’s JetWave Ka-band satellite communications hardware and Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite network. Since it was fitted onto the Jerich Demonstator C-130J in 2017, the suite has successfully demonstrated its ability to use a number of secure military applications that previous technology couldn’t enable due to bandwidth restrictions, including live video streaming and encrypted file transfer.
According to Bull, the SATCOM system allows personnel on board to be linked with command elements and forces elsewhere, improving their situational awareness even while in transit and allowing missions to be replanned, to assess the battlefield environment.
He said that the SATCOM trials have now proven the concept, and the program has since transitioned into a RAAF minor project with the intention being to eventually fit all of the RAAF’s 12 C-130Js with the SATCOM capability.
This SATCOM capability has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. Air Force, with personnel from Yokota Airbase in Japan, who also operate the C-130J, saying they were impressed by the capability when they encountered it during their interactions with the RAAF.
Bull also added that the plan to fit the Rafael/Northrop-Grumman AN/AAQ-28 Litening pod to the C-130J demonstrator, which was revealed recently, will allow the C-130J to conduct surveillance of a target area.
He gave the example of its potential use during disaster relief operation, with the pod being able to provide vision of a target area. Forces could then assess needs from either on board the aircraft, or use the SATCOM to stream video to a command or headquarters element elsewhere, and make decisions based on the situational awareness provided.
These capability improvements are meant to enhance the C-130J’s primary role as an airlifter, however, and the RAAF has no intention to expand the C-130J’s missions into that of a surveillance aircraft, for example.
Australia has a number of surplus Litening pods as it starts the withdrawal of its F/A-18A/B Hornet multirole fighters over the next few years. The pods were acquired by Australia in 2008 as part of its program to upgrade its fleet of Hornets.
Bull also touched on the installation of external fuel tanks onto the C-130Js, with five sets of the fuel tanks, which were previously fitted onto the RAAF’s retired C-130H aircraft, now available for use on the C-130Js. In addition to extending the range of the airlifters, the tanks could also be utilized during the forward arming and refuelling point or FARP operations to offload fuel without having to sacrifice the C-130J’s own internal fuel capacity or carry it in its main cabin. This frees up space in the aircraft to carry other cargo.
These modifications to the RAAF’s C-130Js are being conducted in conjunction with Airbus, which is also responsible for providing through life support for Australia’s C-130J fleet. The company, which has supported the fleet since 2009, signed a rolling contract in late 2018 to continue the work for an additional six years through to 2024. (Source: Defense News)
25 Feb 19. Alpha Unmanned Systems Selected for the Inmarsat UAV Pop-Up Lab. Alpha Unmanned Systems, a Spanish designer and manufacturer of remotely piloted gasoline-powered UAV helicopters, has been selected to participate in Inmarsat´s UAV Pop-up lab, a unique innovation programme exploring the value of satcoms in the commercial UAV sector.
Alongside six other UAV companies, Alpha Unmanned Systems will execute a range of missions using Inmarsat´s world leading, global satellite network, enabling Beyond Line of Sight operations and global resilient command and control capability for safer and more efficient flight operations.
As part of the Pop-up Lab, Alpha Unmanned Systems will integrate the Inmarsat connectivity services using the Cobham AVIATOR UAV 200 terminal onto its Alpha 800. The Alpha 800 is a tactical gasoline powered helicopter UAV that provides 3 hours of continuous flight with a 3 kg payload. It is equipped with the lightest and strongest airframe in its class and a military-grade autopilot with high precision GPS and sensors. The Alpha 800 was originally conceived for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and is now also used for many other services, including delivery of urgently needed supplies.
Using this equipment and services, Alpha will execute a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) mission to deliver urgent medical supplies in a limited/no radio-frequency coverage area. The mission will utilize Inmarsat satcoms to enable long-range control and real-time video streaming from the Alpha 800 tactical helicopter UAV, aiding the precision delivery of sensitive cargo such as medical supplies. The 3-hour flight time of the Alpha 800 means that a very large area can be covered, and its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities allow for very precise control during missions.
Inmarsat´s satellite technology brings tremendous benefits for UAV missions in remote areas with poor terrestrial network coverage or rough terrains where radio line-of-sight is hard to achieve. Utilizing Inmarsat’s global L-band network, the Alpha 800 will be easily deployed to execute missions anywhere in the globe, ideal for humanitarian agencies and governments with a need for precision delivery of sensitive, time-critical cargo in remote areas.
Eric Freeman, CEO of Alpha Unmanned Systems said, “Inmarsat´s satcom solution is great news for Alpha and our clients. Pilots can now execute longer missions, and in even more difficult terrain, while they themselves can be far from the Alpha 800 and its flight path.”
Jordan Picard, Digital Incubation Lead at Inmarsat, assured. “We are delighted to work with companies such as Alpha Unmanned Systems to push the boundaries of innovation in the commercial UAV sector. We are especially interested in the Alpha 800 as a platform to deliver medical supplies in remote environments given its unique VTOL capability and now, its longer flight range enabled by satellite.”
Trial outcomes will be presented at a showcase event on May 30 2019 at Inmarsat’s headquarters. (Source: UAS VISION)
25 Feb 19. Agreement for co-operation heralds new era for Aussie space industry. The Australian Space Agency has established a statement of strategic intent and co-operation with Lockheed Martin Australia, which marks a turning point in the development of Australia’s local space industry.
Strategic statements of intent and co-operation led by the Australian Space Agency with industry partners are designed to highlight areas of investment and growth for Australia’s unique potential in space research and development and commercial applications.
At the heart of the relationship is a shared vision for enabling and supporting a thriving Australian space sector through investment in space systems and services, technological capabilities, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education initiatives, which will be a key feature of Lockheed Martin’s STEM presence at Avalon this year.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the agency’s fourth statement of strategic intent with an industry partner is another step forward as the ASA grows opportunities for investment in space systems and services.
“Lockheed Martin is an ideal partner to help achieve the Liberal National government’s vision of tripling the size of Australia’s space sector to $12bn by 2030, creating up to 20,000 new jobs,” Minister Andrews explained.
Today’s signing adds to agreements already reached with Airbus, Nova Systems and Siatel.
Dr Megan Clark AC, head of the Australian Space Agency, welcomed this latest signing, saying, “The agreement with Lockheed Martin Australia will make a significant contribution to industry growth and will help to inspire the next generation of Australians through STEM education and community awareness programs focused on space.”
Rod Drury, managing director – Australia and New Zealand, Lockheed Martin Space, said the agreement highlighted Lockheed Martin Australia’s commitment to investing in partnerships with Australia’s research and industry communities while providing opportunities for technology transfer, innovation, local skilled jobs and sustainable business growth.
“The relationship with the Australian Space Agency further underscores our ongoing commitment to supporting the development of this exciting sector, which is rapidly emerging as a key enabler of Australia’s national security interests and the economy as a whole,” Mr Drury added.
Lockheed Martin continues to invest in several space-oriented initiatives and projects in Australia, including a joint research and development partnership with Curtin University to investigate the potential for commercialising of its Desert Fireball Network as a space situational awareness (SSA) capability. Other noteworthy programs include the ongoing development of Australia’s Satellite-Based Augmentation Services test-bed network, expanding the capacity underpinning Australia’s SSA, position navigation and timing ecosystem, as well as various STEM-focused initiatives.
“The relationship with the Australian Space Agency further underscores our ongoing commitment to supporting the development of this exciting sector, which is rapidly emerging as a key enabler of Australia’s national security interests and the economy as a whole,” Drury said.
The Space Agency’s focus will be on fostering international space partnerships and opening the door for local businesses to compete in the global space economy, helping to drive job growth, with initial priorities including:
- Communications technologies, services and ground stations;
- Space situational awareness and debris monitoring;
- Positioning, navigation and timing infrastructure;
- Earth observation services;
- Research and development;
- Remote asset management; and
- Developing a strategy to position Australia as an international leader in specialised space capabilities.
The Australian Space Agency is a whole-of-government body, with the purpose to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry and the use of space to lift the broader economy. This will be underpinned by strong international and national engagement.
Headquartered in Canberra, Lockheed Martin Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. The company employs more than 1,000 people in Australia working on a wide range of major programs spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Feb 19. ØRSTED – 20 Years IN Space. On Saturday, 23 February at 11:29:55 CET, it is exactly 20 years ago that Denmark’s first satellite Ørsted was launched on a Delta II launcher from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the aim of measuring the Earth’s magnetic fields.
During the months before launch, the satellite became extremely well known because launch after launch were cancelled. It took 11 attempts before what later became a huge scientific and business success was launched.
Ørsted has been very important for Terma in terms of PR and technology. Several of the technologies we use today within the onboard space segment as well as the Earth segment were kick-started by Ørsted, e.g. power technologies, development of critical software, sensors, and computers. Within the Earth segment, this includes mission control systems, satellite check-out systems, and test systems.
These technologies have been further refined and developed over the years, but they were formed during the design of Ørsted. And it was the contributions to the Ørsted program that to some extent positioned Terma as a reliable and serious space company, culminating so far with the overall project management and technical responsibility for ESA’s ASIM mission onboard the International Space Station.
Industrially speaking, the Ørsted satellite was a Terma project when it was finally launched in February 1999. However, at the very beginning this was not the case as both Per Udsen Co. and CRI were independent companies at the time. Per Udsen Co. constructed the eight-meter long boom on which the measuring instruments were mounted, and CRI developed the software and had the overall project management responsibility. Terma developed computers and electronics. Later, both CRI and Per Udsen Co. became a part of Terma.
With a minimum lifespan of 14 months in service, the 61 kg satellite was tasked to provide measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field and other scientific observations. For years, data were collected at the Ørsted control center at Terma’s premises in Herlev and forwarded to the Danish Meteorological Institute and later to DTU Space. As the Earth station is no longer in operation, this has now come to an end. And the connection to satellite was cut in 2015, but it might very well still orbit the Earth at a distance of 650 – 850 km.
In 2002, Ørsted was the cover story on the scientific magazine Nature. According to scientists, data from the satellite indicated that the Earth’s magnetic poles were about to reverse, a theory that was supported by other measurements. Further, data from Ørsted showed that the magnetic North Pole in 2002 was located north of Canada and that it moves up to 50 km pr. year. It was estimated that the magnetic North Pole in 2050 might be positioned in Siberia. The impact of this position could be more northern light and heavy space storms in Europe.
In February 2010, Ørsted was threatened by Space debris. Terma received a warning from NASA stating that a Russian satellite and Ørsted would pass each other within an estimated distance of 400-500 meters which is very little in this connection. Fortunately, Ørsted steered clear of the collision.
21 Feb 19. Strategic Relationship Initiated Between BridgeSat and Es’hailSat. Es’hailSat Qatar Satellite Company and BridgeSat have joined together with a strategic relationship that will provide businesses and governments across the Middle East with affordable access to laser-based satellite broadband services. This is the latest milestone toward BridgeSat’s goal of providing organizations worldwide with a faster, less expensive and most secure alternative to traditional radio frequency (RF) solutions for LEO and GEO applications. BridgeSat owns and operates a growing global network of optical ground stations(OGS) and complimentary satellite terminals that provide high-bandwidth, high-security solutions for unique applications while complementing RF in hybrid networks. Es’hailSat owns and operates a growing number of Ka- and Ku-band satellites that serve broadcasters, businesses and governments in the MENA region and beyond. Es’hailSat has recognized the growth of the communications market and is making the forward looking move to enhance its capabilities to support the space enterprise.
Under this strategic relationship, BridgeSat will build their first OGS for the Middle East, which will be co-located at Es’hailSat’s new satellite operations center in Doha, Qatar. The new OGS will support LEO and other satellite systems owned by Es’hailSat and other companies that are equipped with BridgeSat and other compatible space terminals.
Barry Matsumori, BridgeSat CEO, said this new relationship with Es’hailSat gives the company a critical gateway to the MENA region and is a major milestone toward the firm’s goal of providing organizations worldwide with fast, secure, enterprise-grade broadband services. BridgeSat sees partnerships with innovative companies worldwide as key for revolutionizing satellite communications.
Ali Al Kuwari, President and CEO of Es’hailSat, noted that the Es’hail-1 and Es’hail-2 satellites are fully operational and the company recently commenced satellite control and other satellite services from the firm’s state-of-the art teleport in Doha. Collaboration with BridgeSat is step forward for the company in expanding the type of services provided to customers in the region, beyond the traditional satellite services. (Source: Satnews)
21 Feb 19. Exos Aerospace Schedules Company’s Reuse Viability Test for SARGE, March 2. EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc. has announced their “Reuse Viability Test” for the company’s SARGE Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle (SRLV) — March 2, 2019, is the date s for the first reuse flight (Mission 1) of SARGE.
Exos completed the Pathfinder Launch on August 25, 2018, from Spaceport America. That was the first step in validating the SARGE SRLV that was flown and recovered for reuse. Exos gathered critical flight data that enabled advancing the design and setting them up for continued reuse of their SARGE vehicle. YouTube video recaps of the day are available for viewing at this direct link…
The “Mission 1” test flight of the SARGE reusable system will carry the commercial payloads flown under the programs listed below. A successful launch will further solidify the company’s plan to use this technology as the design basis of their Jaguar orbital launch vehicle with reusable first stage capable of carrying 100 kg. to LEO (200 to 400 km.).
Flight programs and associated payloads on the scheduled March 2nd 2019 flight include:
- SPACEedu – Help your school fund, build, fly and reuse CubeSat projects for their S.T.E.M research programs. Having already flown for many schools, Exos is literally taking education to a higher level. P1. Arete’ Greater Nanticoke Area Trojans (space thermal energy transfer experiment).
- SPACEbuild – Test or manufacture in space aboard an Exos vehicle for premium exposure to space flight conditions. The reduced cost of suborbital flights makes it a preferred risk mitigation step for qualifying orbital payloads. P2. NASA (Vibration Damper – TRL advancement), P3. University of Central Florida (Dust Aggregation experiment – SPACE-2 NASA REDDI Payload), P4. Agronautics, LLC (Space hops & grain), P5. SOLGW (memorabilia)
- SPACEaid – Perform breakthrough medical research by leveraging the ability to test in the microgravity and vacuum of space. With Exos we can return your payload within minutes of landing. The company’s soft (5G) launch and fin stabilization means a gentle ride for a payload requiring less effort in payload design over other commercial launch options. P6. Center for Applied Space Technologies (Sponsoring Mayo Clinic for two “BRIC66” payloads performing cell research)
- SPACEship – Launch from Spaceport American in New Mexico and Exos will deliver your payload to space and eject it to perform your test outside the company’s vehicle.* (LEO target aboard our reusable (first stage) Jaguar vehicle – late 2022).
* Ejected payloads have a >60day (normal) lead-time as Exos has to
license the payload ejection and your payload/recovery system must
meet FAA/AST safety requirements.
Exos Aerospace will next shift to commercial operations.
John Quinn, EXOS COO, said that with a successful flight, the company will leave the testing phase and focus on the engineering of the Jaguar reusable (first stage) LEO launcher. The company looks forward to supporting space research, manufacturing, and educational opportunities for the world by providing frequent suborbital flights that provide fast and affordable access to space. As the 36 foot tall 20-inch diameter SARGE rocket is designed for reusability, it is proving to be an excellent risk mitigation platform for the Exos orbital technology development program. The software and technology the company has developed is key to development of the reusable first stage of the firm’s planned Jaguar vehicle. SARGE and Jaguar will use NASA’s Morpheus flight code (acquired through a Space Act Agreement) that was modified by a team of Engineers from Exos Aerospace, Intuitive Machine, C-Squared Systems, Helios and XISP Inc.
John continued by stating the additional planning involves the development of orbital reuse life prediction as well as a focus on STEM education, adding that Exos plans to apply to the NASA REDDI program to fund the inaugural “National Science Fair” flight. (Source: Satnews)
19 Feb 19. Smallsat Growth on Shaky Ground, According to NSR Analysis and Report. The advent of small satellites and the enabling satellite miniaturization technologies have opened abundant opportunities in the space industry. From technology development and on-orbit demonstration missions, to mega satellite constellations, it has brought a palpable change in the space ecosystem. While the relative simplicity and the associated low-cost architecture are enabling (the much needed) easier access to the space applications, the challenge lies in the readiness of the existing infrastructure to support this rapidly growing market.
Despite a 30 percent decline in launch rates in 2018, smallsats are expected to regain growth in the near terms and over the next decade. NSR’s Small Satellite Markets, 5th Edition, forecasts more than 7,000 smallsats to be launched by 2027, with constellations expected to dominate the market which, in some cases, are planning to deploy unprecedented numbers at a record pace.
A market that has historically been relatively slow to develop will now experience an accelerated expansion. This is bound to put immense pressure on the existing infrastructure and the different stakeholders in the supply and value chain. A quick look at some of the elements of the industry below outlines the potential repercussions of this unparalleled growth in the market.
Satellite Manufacturing Constraints
Successfully and sustainably increasing the lead time of satellite manufacturing from an average two to three years per satellite to as many as 40 satellites per week (just for a single constellation) will rely upon supply chain management at all tiers of satellite manufacturing.
The requirements for space-approved components and materials create barriers to entry in the supply base. In addition, the understandable preference and benefits of choosing local suppliers for ease of operation as well as requirements such as ITAR further reduces the supplier pool.
Based on the current and estimated trends, as the pressure to keep the costs low and lead times short trickles down the supply chain. Tier 2 and Tier 3 components, such as electronic systems and subsystems, are expected to create considerable bottlenecks. While new companies are entering the market to help unblock the promised value and reduce certain constraints, as in the case of propulsion systems, the overall supply growth rate does not seem to be agile enough to cope with the growing demand.
Launch is already one of the biggest constraints in the industry. Although new players, such as Rocket Lab, are answering this ongoing problem by offering smallsat dedicated launchers at deeply reduced prices, the long-term sustainability of these services remains a concern, due to the challenging business case.
There is also a growing number of established players that include SpaceX, ISRO and Roscosmos that are offering rideshare options at highly competitive prices. However, scheduling delays (as experienced in the recent years) and sub-optimal orbit insertion, in many cases, makes this option less than ideal to adequately support the smallsat market.
In spite of the growing number of players, serving both dedicated and rideshare/ piggy-backing options, the launch segment is expected to remain one of the biggest bottlenecks of the small satellite market over the next decade.
Another seldom mentioned vulnerability of the growing smallsat market lies in the lack of adequate space traffic tracking and management regime. As the number of satellites on orbit starts to grow, there is a burgeoning risk of collision and general disarray, made even worse by the absence of propulsion on many small satellites. It is, therefore, imperative to establish and enforce rigorous, international regulations for the different phases of launch including pre-launch notification, on-orbit maneuver tracking, right-of-way evaluation, end-of-life disposal and re-entry, among others.
As the industry enters this new and essentially unfamiliar phase, having timely and — more importantly — accurate information will also be crucial for collision prevention as well as to enable execution of the regulations. In the past decade, a vast number of new players have entered this space with diverse business models targeting a multitude of applications. With the influx of innovative concepts from pay-per-use model to satellite-as-a-service model to mass production facilities, there is a solution for every requirement, making access to space easier than it has even been previously possible.
As the industry starts to get acquainted with the new “normal,” the vulnerabilities of the existing infrastructure are bound to be exposed — smallsat markets need a solid foundation to ensure the strong growth expected that will lead to a sustainable market in the space ecosystem. (Source: Satnews)
18 Feb 19. OneWeb Receives £18m from UK Space Agency for Next Gen Satellite Constellation. Affordable worldwide internet coverage is one step closer following an £18m of UK Space Agency funding having been awarded to OneWeb through the European Space Agency to aid in the development of the company’s next generation satellite constellation.
A global communications network in space, the system will be initially comprised of approximately 650 satellites and will scale to more than 900 satellites over time. This new £18m investment will go towards meeting the significant technical challenges of the project, placing the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.
The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering this technology, which is made possible by the UK’s ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and the UK’s capabilities in space and telecommunications via the agency’s modern Industrial Strategy plans.
UK business OneWeb, which is headquartered in London will employ up to 200 staff at their White City offices, is poised to take advantage of cost effective spacecraft launches and manufacturing to deploy hundreds of satellites that could provide more affordable internet connectivity to people and businesses across the world.
The OneWeb Sunrise program will initially focus on technologies for the next generation of satellite payloads, ground connections and space debris removal. The UK Space Agency investment will also support novel automation techniques and artificial intelligence to manage the proposed constellation of spacecraft and its interaction with terrestrial networks to realize global 5G connectivity.
This announcement comes as a result of the UK’s investment in the European Space Agency’s telecommunications research program — ARTES. ESA is independent of the European Union and hosts their European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) in Harwell, Oxfordshire. This news comes as the first batch of ten satellites of the OneWeb constellation are due to be launched on an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana next week, on February 26. Last month, EUTELSAT QUANTUM, the first satellite capable of being completely reprogrammed after launch, left the UK for final assembly and testing in France. In November of last year, Eutelsat and Airbus signed a new contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds that will see components and parts for two further communications satellites assembled in the UK. This means that six out of seven of the company’s next satellites will be partially built in Britain. According to the agency, the UK space sector is growing rapidly, employing 42,000 people and playing a major role in the global shift towards the commercialization of space activities — known as ‘New Space’.
The UK space industry is commercially focused with 82 percent of income from sales to consumers and businesses. The latest industry figures show it has an income of £14.8bn, employment of 41,900 and exports worth £5.5bn, while supporting a further £300 of UK GDP through the provision of satellite services to other sectors
Adrian Steckel, CEO, OneWeb, said providing access to people everywhere has been the mission and vision of OneWeb since the very beginning. The company will be able to realize this vision in part because of important partnerships such as this one with the UK Space Agency, ESA and a range of other important partners including the firm’s European and Canadian partners. Thanks to this support, OneWeb will focus together on next generation technologies that will be game changers for realizing global 5G connectivity. The company is excited about the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to develop novel automation techniques that could help manage this constellation in future and ensure such is done safely and responsibly in order to protect space for future generations.
Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications added that Sunrise is a prominent endeavor falling under the Satellite for 5G Initiative. This represents the exciting and required new direction ESA is taking in support of Member States’ industry to remain at the forefront of the most advanced developments within the space world as well as to enable the necessary complement to the terrestrial networks that satellites will have to play to ensure a successful and fully inclusive digitization of industry and society. This ESA project will span seven nations including Canada and is an example of how the UK will continue to work across Europe and globally. (Source: Satnews)
18 Feb 19. SSTL’s RemoveDEBRIS Satellite Has Removed Debris … Successful Capture Mission. A successful capture was completed by the SSTL-developed RemoveDEBRIS satellite. The harpoon was fired at a speed of 20 meters per second and penetrated a target made of satellite panel material. The harpoon and 1.5 meter target boom were designed by a team at Airbus in Stevenage, UK. The photo to the right shows the harpoon target bottom left, with the onboard camera to the right. The spherical structure in the center with the white cover is the net housing.
The success of the harpoon firing marks the third successful experiment for the RemoveDEBRIS project which has already demonstrated a net capture experiment and trialed its state-of-the-art LiDAR based vision navigation system to identify a target cubesat.
The RemoveDEBRIS satellite platform was designed and manufactured by SSTL to house two target cubesats and four debris removal technologies — a net, a harpoon, vision based navigation using cameras and LiDaR, and a de-orbit dragsail. The spacecraft is operated in orbit by SSTL’s engineers from the company’s Spacecraft Operations Centre in Guildford, UK.
The RemoveDEBRIS team is now preparing for the final experiment, which is scheduled to take place in March and will witness the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft inflate a sail that will drag the satellite into Earth’s atmosphere for destruction. A video produced by SSL of this event is available for viewing at this direct link…
The U.S. Space Surveillance Network tracks 40,000 objects and the estimate is that there are more than 7,600 tons of ‘space junk’ in and around Earth’s orbit — with some moving faster than a speeding bullet, approaching speeds of 30,000 miles per hour.
The RemoveDEBRIS consortium consists of:
- Mission and consortium coordination – Surrey Space Centre (UK)
- Satellite system engineering – ArianeGroup (France)
- Platform, avionics and spacecraft operations – SSTL (UK)
- Harpoon – Airbus (UK)
- Net – Airbus (Germany)
- Vision based navigation – CSEM (Switzerland)/ INRIA/ Airbus (France)
- CubeSat dispensers – Innovative Solutions in Space (Netherlands)
- Target CubeSats – Surrey Space Centre (UK)/ Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
- Dragsail – Surrey Space Centre (UK)
The RemoveDEBRIS project is co-funded by the European Commission and the research leading to the results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°607099. (Source: Satnews)
17 Feb 19. State-Of-The-Art SmallSat Production Facility Inaugurated by LeoStella. LeoStella, a smallsat design and manufacturing company, has inaugurated their production facilities in Tukwila, Washington.
The company is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67 percent) and Leonardo (33 percent), and Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries. Formed in March of 2018, LeoStella has been developing a state-of-the-art production facility to construct smallsats cost-effectively and at scale.
The first satellite produced by LeoStella will be an Earth Observation (EO) satellite for BlackSky’s constellation. The satellite is scheduled to be completed by the end of Q1 in 2019. The company is also contracted to manufacture the next 20 satellites in the BlackSky constellation.
When operating at capacity, LeoStella’s production facilities will enable the company to produce up to 30 satellites a year, ranging from EO and telecom satellites. Additionally, LeoStella has spent the last year selecting the firm’s suppliers and forming partnerships with key vendors.
Chris Chautard, the LeoStella CEO, said that with the growing number of constellations, there is a large demand for efficient smallsat production and the company is uniquely positioned to address that demand. 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, the company is equipped to design and manufacture smallsats efficiently.
Brian O’Toole, President of Spaceflight Industries and CEO of BlackSky, added that the firm is positioned to disrupt the smallsat industry. The company is critical to BlackSky’s success as all work to get this constellation on orbit quickly. Part of making space more accessible is lowering all of the associated costs, 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, noted that LeoStella is fully in line with Thales Alenia Space’s strategy to match the new needs for new space. The company will complement and leverage their 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: Satnews)
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