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14 Mar 19. New MoU to provide ‘real-time’ satellite communications. Audacy and ICEYE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see ICEYE given the capability to image a location from satellites just minutes after passing, “anywhere on Earth, at all times”. The MoU will see the two space companies “explore enabling continuous satellite communications for ICEYE’s SAR satellite constellation via Audacy’s inter-satellite data relay network”.
Audacy is a space communications service provider that delivers “real-time spacecraft connectivity”, and is developing the world’s first commercial inter-satellite data relay network that is estimated for rollout in 2021.
“We are building the new communications backbone for the emerging space economy and Audacy’s network is well-placed to serve a wide variety of customers, including the growing geospatial intelligence community,” said Dr Ralph Ewig, CEO of Audacy.
“Real-time connectivity will expand the capabilities of Earth observation services across the globe and will rapidly seed product development for our earliest customers.”
Audacy said its network of medium-Earth orbit relay satellites and ground facilities “aims to deliver real-time connectivity to both commercial and government users, anywhere from launchpad to lunar distance”.
ICEYE is an Earth observation company that is creating the world’s largest synthetic-aparture radar (SAR) satellite constellation.
“ICEYE is launching radar imaging satellites to provide governments and commercial industries with timely and reliable imaging. Audacy’s communications network complements the approach we’ve used so far, and helps us bring additional value to the market,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE.
“We’re eager to provide our customers with radar satellite imaging at unprecedented timelines – in the future measured in just minutes.”
The companies added, “This unique capability is unlike current industry standards, where satellite imaging companies need to wait for their satellites to pass over a ground station in order to send commands or receive data.
“This ‘store-and-forward’ limitation creates unnecessary delays in tasking and severely hampers the ability to respond to urgent imaging needs.” (Source: Space Connect)
13 Mar 19. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has developed a new LTE-over-Satellite system designed to provide connectivity to remote regions, including areas without cellphone coverage, boats off-shore, or during natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, catastrophic floods or volcanoes. New hotspots connect existing phones to satellites for reliable 4G connections.
“When disaster strikes, cell phone networks often go down – whether because of the event or because of the sheer volume of traffic,” said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Mission Solutions at Lockheed Martin Space. “So, it’s important to have new ways to connect families and first responders with people who would be otherwise cut off from contact.”
Typically, during an emergency that knocks out cellular networks, specialized satellite phones are the only option for mobile connectivity. While satellite phones will still play a key role in disaster recovery, Lockheed Martin’s LTE-over-Satellite solution lets people complement satellite phones with their existing commercial phones to connect to a pop-up cellular network that is connected directly to a satellite. The system takes advantage of the fact that 4G devices are now widespread across the world. According to a 2018 Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) report, LTE now accounts for more than a third of all mobile subscriptions globally (35.7%). LTE offers broadband data rates in addition to voice and SMS, so important photos, files and commerce can still take place even if traditional communications infrastructure is disrupted.
The new mobility system isn’t limited to use during natural disaster or terrorist attacks, it can be potentially used by offshore fisherman located far from cell towers, remote mineral production outposts, scientific and research stations, and in agriculture operations.
Hotspots can be mounted to vehicles, trucks, or ships to provide additional connectivity. For example, with a vehicular-mounted device, LTE-over-satellite connectivity follows a first responder straight to the scene without a separate device. It can be used on cargo trucks to transmit locational data, shipment information and allow vital voice communication to connect with a central dispatcher.
14 Mar 19. Space Agency and ACT sign industry development MoU. The Australian Space Agency and ACT government have set a trajectory to further drive the growth of Australia’s space sector with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The MoU will establish a framework of co-operation in the development of space-related industries as the Australian Space Agency looks to strengthen the national space sector from its location in Adelaide. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the agreement outlines key areas where the agency can work with the ACT government to boost the growth of Australia’s space industry.
“Our plan to further grow Australia’s economy includes an aim to triple the size of Australia’s space sector to $12bn and create up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030,” Minister Andrews said.
Some of the areas of co-operation under the MoU include quantum communications, deep space communications, design, test and qualification of space hardware, space situational awareness, and space law.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the signing demonstrated his government’s commitment to supporting space industries, including critical infrastructure, saying, “With nearly one in four Australian space industry jobs based in Canberra, we recognise that building partnerships in this sector will strengthen the local and national industry and create more jobs here in Canberra.”
Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark AC said the agreement supports the agency’s purpose to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry.
“All states and territories have a vital role to play in growing our space sector. We’re continuing to work closely with all jurisdictions across Australia as we establish our location in Adelaide,” Dr Clark said.
The Australian Space Agency was established in July 2018 with an initial investment of $41m over four years in its development as part the government’s plan to grow the sector, and create an additional 1.25 million jobs over the next five years. Additional MoUs with other states and territories are expected to follow. (Source: Space Connect)
13 Mar 19. Pentagon officially stands up Space Development Agency, names first director. The Pentagon has formally stood up the Space Development Agency, and named its new director, according to a memo obtained by Defense News. The memo, signed out by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan March 12, immediately stood up the SDA as a new office under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin. The office will be directed by Fred Kennedy, the current director of the Tactical Technology Office, which falls under the purview of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Per his bio, Kennedy, a retired Air Force colonel, served as senior policy adviser for national security space and aviation in the National Security and International Affairs division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration.
“The SDA will define and monitor the Department’s future threat-driven space architecture and will accelerate the development and fielding of new military space capabilities necessary to ensure out technological and military advantage in space for national defense,” Shanahan wrote in the memo. “The SDA will unify and integrate efforts across the Department to define, develop and field the novel and innovative solutions necessary to outpace advancing threats.”
Per the document, the SDA will be responsible for guiding programmatic policy developments for next-generation military space capabilities that reside within the Defense Department. In essence, it will serve as the unifying office for the department on space acquisition.
The director will have special hiring authorities for civilian employees to bring in highly qualified experts and noncompetitive short-term hires for up to 18 months.
Shanahan and Griffin have previously talked about the SDA as the core of what the Pentagon will do in the space domain. In October, Shanahan described it as “where all the players go” if they want to do something with space assets, later telling Defense News that he needs someone in that job focused on how to architect common standards across the department.
“This is that integrated environment that we have to protect, and the best way to be able to provision for the future is to develop a foundation that’s rooted in a very well-defined architecture and standards,” said Shanahan, then the deputy secretary of defense. “And the standards aren’t just simply for interfaces, these are design standards, you’re manufacturing standards, these are test standards — so it’s a suite of those things.”
However, the idea has been criticized by outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who in February said there should be public conversations on whether the organization was necessary.
“I think there’s still concern — I know I have some concerns — about what is the mission of this entity, why do we think it would be better than what we currently do and what exactly will it be focused on conceptually,” Wilson said last month at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium.
While the SDA is independent for now, the plan is to transfer it to a stand-alone Space Force, something Shanahan said remains the long-term plan, writing: “Coordination of requirements and transition decisions will occur through the normal processes once SDA transfers to the U.S. Space Force. Until that time, the Department will evaluate additional consolidation of space development organization and management.” (Source: Defense News)
13 Mar 19. In memo, Air Force secretary slams Space Development Agency as not ready for prime time. The Space Development Agency was officially established as of March 12 — a move that goes against the wishes of the U.S. Air Force’s top civilian, who slammed the Pentagon’s plan for adding bureaucracy, creating risk by removing jobs and starting a new project that has yet to be validated, according to a memo obtained by Defense News.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s memo, dated Feb. 28, offers a scathing rebuke of the Space Development Agency, a pet project for both acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin.
The top Air Force official argues that the Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD, has not adequately laid out how to transfer the authority of the SDA to the Space Force, which was provisioned in a Jan. 19 memo by the defense secretary titled “Guidance for the Establishment of the Space Development Agency.”
The SDA also “appears to replicate existing ones already ordered by Congress,” she wrote. She points to a memo by the OSD, which states that the SDA would be modeled on organizations like the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, even as the service Air Force has launched a space-focused version of the agency called the Space Rapid Capabilities Office.
“Until the Space Development Agency has a uniquely identifiable mission that cannot be accomplished by current organizations, the plan should not move forward,” she wrote.
Over the past month, Wilson has emerged as a strong critic of the SDA, telling reporters in February that she still had questions about the mission of the organization and over what it could do differently or better than existing entities.
She has since announced her resignation and is set to leave her office in May. However, her dissent is notable, because the next Air Force secretary will be tasked with leading the U.S. Space Force ― if its creation is approved by Congress. The new military branch is slated to at some point be tasked with overseeing the SDA, which is currently under Griffin’s purview.
Asked by media Wednesday why he felt the Air Force and Wilson were being so vocal in pushback against the SDA, Griffin paused for several seconds before saying “I’m not sure I really know. and so I won’t comment. I can’t get into people’s motives and not everybody who has spoken may have even the same motives. I note, and it has been noted within the media, that the Air Force has broadly disapproved of secretary Shanahan’s decision. Everybody can’t always agree.”
Griffin then went on to note that the Air Force has been resistant to change before, citing the introduction of the ICBM and unmanned systems, before adding “I would not choose to single out the Air Force, or indeed any other entity. It is a general rule that large, existing organizations do not respond well or favorably toward new innovations. It would be an exception if they did embrace a new idea. So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
When the Pentagon released its legislative proposal for the Space Force, there was noticeably little included about the SDA. A senior Pentagon official, however, said that was by design to focus the attention on the Space Force creation, adding that a new memo on the SDA is coming, perhaps as soon as this week.
On the disagreement between Wilson and Griffin on the role of the SDA, the official was blunt: “Dr. Griffin will win in the end on this one.”
Wilson’s memo responds to a second memo out of the OSD, titled “Qualification of Savings to Establish Space Development Agency,” which lays out an argument that as many as 55 civilians and 75 military jobs could be cut across the current space portfolio, which would offset the projected government staff requirement for the SDA.
Those cuts would come from the Missile Defense Agency (20 civilians and 15 military personnel), the U.S. Air Force Remote Sensing Directorate (15 civilian and 30 military), and a trio of service divisions focused on protected satellite communication, wideband SATCOM and advanced development (20 civilian and 30 military).
A fully staffed SDA will feature approximately 225 personnel, made up of 67 civilian, 45 military and 113 support contractors, per the memo. That would leave a net cut of 18 jobs across the department, which the qualification memo states will definitively save the Pentagon money.
In essence, the SDA would be a leaner, less bureaucratic alternative to existing space procurement organizations by stripping personnel from a number of agencies and eliminating a handful of Defense Department positions altogether.
But that’s too risky a gamble to make without further analysis, Wilson argues in a different memo to Griffin dated Feb. 26.
“The ‘Quantification of Savings’ paper suggest that harvesting personnel from existing office that perform critical missions today ‘could’ result in savings, without addressing the risk to such programs if personnel were removed,” Wilson wrote. “The plan should not move forward until the proper analysis has been completed and coordinated. Absent rigorous supporting analysis, validation and verification of such savings, we do not recommend Secretary of Defense certification.”
Griffin, however, says he sees the work being done by SMC and the space RCO as separate missions from that of the SDA. On the RCO, he pointed out that SDA cuts across the entire department while the Air Force office is more limited, although “I would be utterly surprised if we didn’t have, from space development agency, some useful working relationship with space RCO. I would expect that we would.”
As to SMC, “they have a very important function with continuing to produce and oversee the legacy space architecture, the things we have in space today that we surely don’t want to give up. but this is a new capability with new functions,” he said. “It’s not about SMC. It’s about creating new capabilities as rapidly and as effectively as we can.”
In addition to criticizing the structure of the SDA, Wilson also lambasted its first major procurement effort.
The first big project the SDA will work on is what the memo calls the “transport layer” in low-Earth orbit — a large number of mass-produced small satellites networked together to provide “global, persistent, low-latency data transfer between and among the space and ground elements and the strategic and tactical military users of the next-generation architecture.”
In the long term, the SDA will be charged with procuring “not just the data transport layer but additional capabilities such as an alternate positioning, navigation and timing system, low-latency targeting, and improved detection, tracking and defense of ballistic and advanced missile threats.”
However, Wilson argues that the Air Force and the director of the Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation office are still conducting detailed work on whether that disaggregated satellite architecture will be better than current plans.
“It is premature to conclude that a massively proliferated low-Earth obit architecture would be more resilient in the face of deliberate attack than alternative, similar price architectures,” she writes. “The proposed plan requires in-depth supporting analysis and validation by the warfighting.”
Griffin, for his part, cast the need for the transport layer as long-overdue, saying “this is not a task currently being received by the air force or anyone else. It’s not a duplicative task. It’s a new thing we’re doing to meet known mission requirements for a threat driven space architecture.”
“My guess is that’s going to keep me busy for a while,” he later said, when asked if the SDA has plans for other future projects. “We’re not trying to solve world hunger here. We’re taking on a specific and very important challenge that means a lot tome personally, and that’s my first priority.”
Speaking last month at the Air Force Association’s winter meeting in Orlando, Wilson was upfront about her skepticism of the SDA.
“I have some concerns about what is the mission of this entity, why do we think it would be better than what we currently do, and what exactly will it be focused on conceptually,” she said. “I expect there would be public discussions on this. Conceptually, it would be stood up and then rolled into a Space Force, which means that it would be in a new agency that would exist for probably less than a year. So I think there [are] still questions.”
The fight over the SDA is, in many ways, a fight over who controls the future of the space portfolio. Getting the Space Force to live within the Air Force, even if just temporarily for a few years, was a major win for Wilson and her team. But the SDA exists outside the Air Force, and will only move within the Space Force when, or if, that new branch stands up independently.
Notably, the fiscal 2020 budget request included $306m to stand up the headquarters of the Space Force, establish U.S. Space Command and create the Space Development Agency — and of those three, the SDA got the most money, with $149.8m in new funding that cannot be transferred from other parts of the budget.
It’s unclear what this money will go toward. The budget provides a general description of the role of the SDA, saying it will “will have a development mindset and will be focused on experimentation, prototyping and accelerated fielding, as well as leveraging commercial technologies and services.” However, it does not lay out why the SDA’s stand-up costs are equal to that of U.S. Space Command and the Space Force combined, especially as the SDA — with 20 transfers and 30 new employees — is smaller than the other two offices.
Asked about that dollar figure, Griffin declined to comment, but said details will be available when the Pentagon’s j-books are released in the near-future.
In the past, Shanahan and Griffin have talked about the SDA as the core of what the Pentagon will do in the space domain. In October, Shanahan described it as “where all the players go” if they want to do something with space assets, later telling Defense News that he needs someone in that job focused on how to architect common standards across the department.
“This is that integrated environment that we have to protect, and the best way to be able to provision for the future is to develop a foundation that’s rooted in a very well-defined architecture and standards,” Shanahan, then the deputy secretary, said. “And the standards aren’t just simply for interfaces, these are design standards, you’re manufacturing standards, these are test standards — so it’s a suite of those things.” (Source: Defense News)
12 Mar 19. Kleos Space signs channel partner agreement with US defence company. Kleos Space has announced it has signed a channel partner agreement with newly-created specialist US-based defence company, Victoria Falls Technology. The agreement allows the “procurement and integration of Kleos’ radio frequency reconnaissance data into US Defence programs”, including those included in the US Air Force Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program.
In the event that Kleos’ channel partner’s proposal is selected by the US Air Force, development work would commence in 2020 and be carried out over a one-to-two-year period, with a revenue generation opportunity for Kleos Space valued between US$750,000-US$3 m.
“As Kleos will be able to provide its customers with an unprecedented view of global maritime activity, we are very excited to have signed this agreement with a key US-based defence company and will work closely with them to ensure success,” Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space said.
“This agreement highlights the benefit of our business model to provide commercially independent data for the defence and intelligence communities, allowing them to access an enhanced maritime security picture as well as verify existing anti-terrorism and crime monitoring datasets.”
Under the non-exclusive agreement, Victoria Falls Technology would be able to “procure and incorporate Kleos’ Scouting Mission Data into their defence offering and as part of ‘innovation and research project’ proposals.”
Kleos Scouting Mission features a multi-satellite system that will “form the cornerstone of a constellation that delivers a global picture of hidden maritime activity, enhancing the intelligence capability of government and commercial entities when AIS (automatic identification system) is defeated, imagery unclear and targets out of patrol range.”
Kleos’ first satellites are “on track” to be launched later this year on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket out of New Zealand.
The company also said the SBIR program could lead to further long-term projects.
“Partnerships with trusted intelligence providers in key target markets, such as the US, is an important part of Kleos’ long-term market strategy,” said Bowyer. (Source: Space Connect)
11 Mar 19. Ball Aerospace to work on second phase of Hallmark programme. Ball Aerospace has received a contract to work on the second phase of the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Hallmark programme. The objective of the Hallmark programme is to provide improved capabilities to plan, assess, and execute US Military operations in space.
Under the contract, Ball will continue to work on the Space Evaluation and Analysis Capability (SEAC) testbed and conduct three additional evaluation events.
These events will see the company conduct mock space operations exercises to evaluate software tool performance.
The company will partner with independent software development teams for the evaluation events.
DARPA’s Hallmark programme is advancing the development of technologies that provide real-time space-domain awareness, informing the command and control and protection of assets in space.
Ball was previously selected to perform five evaluations of the testbed during the first phase of the programme.
Ball Aerospace Systems Engineering Solutions vice-president and general manager Steve Smith said: “Our revolutionary open architecture approach brings commercial capabilities and best practices like rapid integration of new services and secure DevOps to the Department of Defense.
“We look forward to continuing the successful demonstration of our enterprise software architecture’s capabilities during the second phase of the Hallmark programme.”
The company noted that its approach to the SEAC testbed design removes bottlenecks associated with single-contractor integration in traditional acquisition models. The software development practice allows external tool developers to design and test capabilities in an operations environment without compromising system security or stability, Ball added. Last year, the Hallmark programme awarded Phase 1 contracts to 11 organisations to strengthen existing commercial technologies and add capabilities. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
11 Mar 19. Kratos and Corvid to provide sub-orbital flight vehicles to US Navy. A team of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ Space & Missile Defense Systems business and Corvid Technologies has received a single-award $223m contract to supply sub-orbital flight vehicles to the US Navy. The five-year contract requires the team to provide system engineering, vehicle design, manufacturing, integration, and launch support services for sub-orbital flight vehicles. The navy intends to use these vehicles as ballistic missile defence system (BMDS) test targets.
Under the terms, Kratos and Corvid will also develop and test prototype weapon systems.
Kratos Defense & Rocket Support Services division president Dave Carter said: “Kratos is excited to work collaboratively with the Corvid lead team to provide low-cost, sub-orbital launch vehicle solutions to the US Navy.
“Our highly knowledgeable industry team is prepared to leverage its extensive experience from the aegis readiness assessment vehicles (ARAVs) programme to provide sub-orbital rocket systems to meet the requirements of our long-time navy customer.
“Kratos is focused on providing responsive, affordable, and reliable sub-orbital vehicle solutions to meet emerging advanced target and hypersonic system needs.”
The sub-orbital flight vehicles are exo-atmospheric rocket-based vehicles that can deliver payloads and test articles into a flight regime of interest for systems being assessed.
They will be used by the US Navy, other government agencies and Japan under the foreign military sales programme.
The team will perform the majority of the contract work at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The remaining work will be carried out in locations that include Mooresville in North Carolina, Las Cruces in New Mexico, and Huntsville, Alabama. Completion of the contract is expected by February 2024. (Source: naval-technology.com)
09 Mar 19. The US Army hopes a new satellite will help alleviate congestion. The U.S. Air Force is expected to launch the next satellite in its Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) program as early as March 13, a move that will bolster the military’s foundational communication network. The addition comes at a time when the military is under increasing pressure to build up its communication capacity as tactical battlefield sensors and other data feeds create the need for added throughput.
“The more data we use, the more congested it gets. Having more satellites gives us greater capability to deliver more information in a hurry,” said Army’s Lt. Col. Anthony Whitfield, Product Manager, Wideband Enterprise Satellite Systems (PdM WESS).
WGS is the military’s fundamental communications network and has an estimated cost of about $4bn, according to the Government Accountability Office. The system of 10 satellites, built by Boeing, provides bandwidth and communications for tactical C2, C4ISR, battle management and combat support information.
While WGS-10 was originally slated to complete the constellation, it now seems likely more satellites may come. In the most recent omnibus spending bill, Congress appropriated funding for two additional WGS satellites, although SpaceNews reported there are questions about funding the launch of those payloads.
Should those future satellites come to fruition, Army leaders would have no complaints. In addition to fielding the ground control units that operate the constellation, “the Army is also one of the biggest users of WGS, and anything that can help us to deliver information across the globe for our senior leaders to make decisions — we would welcome that,” Whitfield said.
In fact, the Army has taken steps lately to bolster its own operation capacity around WGS.
In 2018 the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence unveiled a wideband training and certification system (WTCS), for students enrolled in the school’s Satellite Systems Network Coordinator Course. Soldiers training to staff the Army’s wideband satellite communications operations centers (WSOC) located at five military installations worldwide, can use the system to leverage classroom learning against simulations generated from real-world events.
“By using [that training system] to ‘train how we fight,’ WSOC operators will be better prepared to deliver their 24/7, no-fail mission to enable satellite communications for our Warfighters. It is all about operational readiness, the Army’s number one priority,” said Col. Enrique Costas, the Program Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems, in announcing the new training tool.
The Army’s focus on supporting WGS falls in line with an overall military emphasis on the importance of satellite communications.
“We must continue to build a robust SATCOM network that includes our allies and partners and leverages commercial SATCOM industries to integrate, synchronize, and share global SATCOM resources,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, told the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee in 2018. “Our protected wideband communications are essential for allowing the warfighter to communicate in contested environments.”
WGS-10 also will bring with it a more sophisticated payload, with more robust communications capabilities.
“It provides the bandwidth to transfer your data ― that hasn’t changed ― but we are always looking to move that data faster,” Whitfield said. “When we originally built WGS 1, 2 and 3 they were built to certain specs, they provided a certain capacity. Over time it has gotten better. We moved forward, we have continued to build additional capacity.”
For security reasons, Army leaders have not disclosed the exact nature of the latest enhancements.
In addition to supporting American forces, the enhanced networking capability will be leveraged by a coalition of allied forces that support the WGS constellation, including Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Looking ahead, SATCOM analysts have said that the congressional nod toward WGS 11 and 12 could shift the dynamic away from commercial satellite providers, who have long been angling for a bigger piece of the military space market. It remains to be seen, though, whether and how the Pentagon will decide to pursue future WGS acquisitions.
“There has been an analysis of alternatives for what’s next. That analysis has been conducted and we are awaiting further guidance. Right now, we don’t know what is next,” Whitfield said.
05 Mar 19. OneWeb Selects GMV’s C2 Technologies for Command and Control of the Constellation. GMV will be helping to achieve all of the OneWeb constellation goals, having won the contract in 2016 for developing the command and control (C2) center of the entire constellation. On February 27, at 21.37 UTC, the first six satellites of OneWeb’s constellation were successfully launched on a Soyuz rocket from the Kourou spaceport — these six satellites form part of a constellation to be initially comprised of 648 LEO satellites, possibly building up to as many as 900 satellites as needed to meet clients’ growing needs.
OneWeb’s constellation, the most expansive broadband satellite system ever developed, will provide connectivity for bns of users around the whole world, taking communications networks to areas that would otherwise be unconnected. The system can provide global 3G, LTE, 5G and WiFi access at affordable prices to users right around the world.
This launch marks the transition from successful proof-of-concept to the commercialization of OneWeb “for everyone, everywhere,” all in the interests of bridging the digital divide. OneWeb has now initiated the deployment of the biggest satellite constellation ever produced; from the close of this year, the company will regularly launch about 30 satellites each month. OneWeb has also committed to connecting up to six schools in formerly unconnected regions of the world: Alaska, Nepal, Honduras, Ecuador, Rwanda and Kyrgyzstan.
After weighing up diverse C2 platforms, OneWeb opted for GMV’s product line, technologies that are capable of meeting OneWeb’s specific and complex needs while adhering to a tight development schedule.
GMV’s C2 system has been installed in the constellation’s UK and U.S. operation centers and will be providing access to the command process and telemetry, automation of contacts between the satellites and ground antenna as well as keeping track of the overall state of the constellation. GMV’s command and control center includes different solutions from its in-house real-time product line, such as hifly® for satellite monitoring and control; flyplan, for automation of contacts, and fleet Dashboard, developed in collaboration with OneWeb’s operations team, which will provide global knowledge on the state of the constellation. (Source: Satnews)
16 Jan 19. EDA GOVSATCOM Demo project enters execution phase. EDA’s Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) Pooling and Sharing demonstration project (GSC Demo) entered its execution phase this Tuesday 15 January with the first meeting of the Project Arrangement Management Group taking place in Madrid.This means that the project is now ready to provide GOVSATCOM services to meet the GOVSATCOM demands of Member States and European CSDP actors through pooled capabilities (bandwidth/power and/or services) provided by contributing Member States. This governmental pooled capability is set up to provide satellite communication (SATCOM) resources that cannot be obtained on the commercial market with sufficient level of guaranteed access and security. The GSC Demo corresponds responds to an existing need and is fully in line with the revised 2018 Capability Development Plan and its related EU Defence Capability Priorities. It has also to be seen in the light of the ongoing efforts within the European Union to establish an EU GOVSATCOM within the EU’s next space programme. Furthermore, the GSC Demo project also complements EDA’s EU Satcom Market project, already in place since 2012, which provides commercially available SATCOM and CIS services in an efficient and effective manner.
Today’s milestone was achieved after intensive work done since June 2017 to establish a Project Arrangement. Under the leadership of Spain, all 15 contributing EDA Member States of the project (Spain, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom) accepted the Project Arrangement as baseline for mutual support and collaboration. Norway, which has signed an Administrative Arrangement with the Agency, is also contributing to the project.
EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq, who attended today’s meeting in Madrid, stated: “The role of satellite communication in a European strategic autonomy perspective cannot be overstated. I am pleased to say that EDA has played its part in facilitating SATCOM solutions for the EU for some time and in an incremental fashion that has proved quite successful. This GSC Demo project together with the Agency’s EU SatCom Market project underlines the importance of SATCOM and confirms the priority that has been granted to this capability during the most recent revision of the Capability Development Plan”.
Major General Salvador Alvarez Pascual, the Deputy Director of Programs in the Spanish Ministry of Defence, said: “Now it is time to start this project which is the result of significant work of experts from different nations. Spain will face the chairmanship of the Project Arrangement Management Group with confidence to have a good cooperation. The project will fulfill our common objectives and targets and provides the ideal opportunity to test its governance“.
Reliable, stable and secure communications are crucial in any CSDP mission and operation. Yet, terrestrial network infrastructures are not available everywhere, for instance in areas hit by natural disasters, at sea, in the air or in hostile zones. SATCOM can be the solution: rapidly deployable, flexible and distance insensitive, SATCOM can offer communication links where terrestrial networks are damaged, overloaded or non-existent.
However, access to SATCOM cannot be taken for granted at any time, especially not when governmental users require them at short notice and without pre-arranged agreements. In situations of high demand, competition with other users of commercial SATCOM capacities creates a risk of non-availability and high costs. Against this backdrop, EU leaders decided in 2013 that there was a need for a new solution combining the advantages of commercial and military satellite systems in order to address both civil and military needs through European cooperation. The European Defence Agency, in collaboration with the European Commission and the European Space Agency, since then is preparing the next generation of GOVSATCOM.
GOVSATCOM is seen as a capability that is placed in between the commercial satellite communication market and the highly protected military satellite communication capability.
The project originates from an EDA Steering Board decision of November 2013 which tasked EDA to pursue its work on GOVSATCOM coordination with Member States, the European Commission and the European Space Agency in order to propose a comprehensive programme for Member States who wish to participate. After a sound preparatory work, the aforementioned EDA Member States decided in June 2017 to establish the GSC Demo project and intensify their collaboration in GOVSATCOM. (https://www.eda.europa.eu)
05 Mar 19. DataPath Joins the Swedes to Enter the Maritime Satcom Market and Provide Antennas with Solutions. DataPath travels to Sweden to take a step in the maritime satcom market to bring their DataPath Maritime Antenna System. DataPath, Inc., provider of communications solutions, announced its entrance into the maritime satcom market after signing an exclusive reseller agreement with Advanced Stabilized Technologies Group (ASTG) of Stockholm, Sweden. DataPath will market and sell the maritime antenna system under the brand name DataPath Maritime Antenna System.
The antennas are built with a unique 4-axes gimbal technology, which is ideal for vessels operating in harsh and unfriendly environments needing no loss of electromagnetic compatibility, radio performance or reliability. The solution features proven technology, is fast, robust and boasts no dead angles — all imperative in a maritime satcom solution.
DataPath’s Chief Executive Officer, Sherin Kamal, stated that the ASTG maritime solution is a significant addition to their portfolio, allowing DataPath to serve their customers with even broader satcom and wireless solutions. The market has been asking them for a maritime solution with the same innovative, modular and robust design as their current VSAT offering and he is very excited to now be able to satisfy their customers’ request. Not only will they offer a Maritime solution that meets all the standards required for military use, but with the innovative and creative design from ASTG, they now offer a high-end solution at a very attractive price point.
The CEO of ASTG, David Svenn, commented that they are glad to announce deeper cooperation with DataPath for the distribution of their high-end maritime VSAT antennas. ASTG has put great effort into adapting the new product portfolio for the high-end users to whom the products are intended. They feel confident that the partnership with DataPath is the right platform to approach the market and are excited to have immediate access to an established and successful global sales network.
The DataPath Maritime Antenna System now joins a wide range of portable satcom solutions from the company, including the extremely rapid deployment Q-Series antenna systems and the quick deployment C-series terminals. These portable satellite systems can be configured with DataPath’s line of fixed and transportable (Hub) satcom systems. (Source: Satnews)
07 Mar 19. A Morgan Stanley Research Focus: Intelsat S.A. — C-Band Concerns Resurface, Risk/Reward Balanced. Over the past couple of weeks, at the Morgan Stanley annual TMT conference during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as the Verizon analyst day, the potential of 5G and the importance of spectrum has again been emphasized.
There has been a particular focus on mmWave and mid-band spectrum to enable network deployments. Despite this backdrop, the company has seen Intelsat’s stock pressured by a number of events. However, the firm continues to believe that the most likely scenario is that the FCC approves a C-Band Report and Order, perhaps in June or July, largely based on the C-Band Alliance proposal, although even in that situation, a wide range of monetary outcomes are possible.
Intelsat’s stock has been impacted by negative headlines — the recent weakness in Intelsat stock has been attributed to a number of factors that include:
1) Weak 2019 core guidance
2) Rising opposition to the C-Band Alliance plans including from some in Congress
3) Talk of a national 5G network
4) Preston Padden stepping down as Head of Advocacy and Government relations at the C-Band Alliance.
Morgan Stanley does not see any of these issues derailing an FCC Report and Order later this year.
The C-Band Alliance plan remains the more likely outcome — despite these concerns, the company continues to believe that the administration, the FCC leadership and a number of the carriers are keen on moving forward rapidly with the C-band process to help drive 5G deployment in the U.S.
The 3.7-4.2 GHz band continues to become more important globally as a key 5G component. Regarding timing, the NPRM was released last June and, despite the government shutdown, Intelsat recently noted “regarding timing, we are still expecting the timing to be roughly the middle of the year, as the last word from the FCC was they wanted to get an order out in the second quarter of 2019.”
The C-Band plan is likely the only feasible way to get the spectrum transferred during the life of this administration, as a move to an alternative process would likely move past the next election. Factors influencing spectrum valuation — despite the firm’s positive view on the likely path, there is plenty that could delay or derail the process, with potential litigation possible if the Report and Order is supportive of the C-Band Alliance plan. There are several key factors which remain outstanding which will likely be key to determining the value of the spectrum including:
1) The band plan and sale process
2) The outcome of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger
3) Potential taxes, fees etc.
On the windfall gain issue, the company notes that the broadcasters did not pay for the spectrum they sold in the broadcast incentive auction in 2017 for more than $10bn. (Telecom Services & Cable/Satellite: 5G Spectrum Primer).
Valuation discounting c. $18bn in gross spectrum value — the company notes that at last night’s (March 5) closing price of $17.76, the current Intelsat enterprise value include an estimated $5 bn plus of net proceeds for spectrum if an assumption is made that the satellite business is valued at c. 7x the mid-point of 2019 EBITDA guidance. That equates to c. 32 cents per MHz/pop or c. $18bn in gross proceeds, using 180 MHz and assuming $2bn of clearing costs, a 30 percent haircut for taxes and fees and a 45% share to Intelsat.
The price target valuation is based off a 7.0x satellite EV/EBITDA + 37.5c/MHzPOP C-band value
- Increased competition
- Bidding wars over satellite service prices as supply grows. Several competitors also have high throughput satellites (HTS) coming online. These HTS could lower pricing across the existing fleets.
- Satellite anomalies – Intelsat’s revenue growth is highly dependent on additional capacity from upcoming satellite launches
- Weak credit markets – Refinancing debt at attractive rates may be dependent on market conditions
- FCC decision on C-band – A FCC decision on how to repurpose the C-band for mobile use may vary from Intelsat’s preferred outcome. (Source: Satnews)
03 Mar 19. The National Security Space Launch Program is Established by the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program name has been officially changed to the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program.
The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directed the name change from EELV to NSSL effective March 1, to reflect consideration of both reusable and expendable launch vehicles future solicitations.
Col. Robert P. Bongiovi, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate, is joined by 2nd Lt. Lauren Peterson, youngest officer in the directorate, to mark the creation of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program Heritage Center during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
In 1994, the NDAA directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a modernization plan for space launch capabilities. In response, the Air Force initiated the Space Launch Modernization Plan, also known as the Moorman Study, that identified options and cost for the future of space launch. On August 5, 1994, President Clinton signed a National Space Transportation Policy as a partial response to assigning responsibility for expendable launch vehicles to the DoD. The final result was SMC’s EELV program to develop a family of launch vehicles for medium to heavy payloads.
Col. Robert P. Bongiovi, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate, is joined by past Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program managers and directors after unveiling the new logo of the National Security Space Launch program. The NSSL program replaces the EELV program after a name changing ceremony held March 1 at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California to honor the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.
The NSSL program is designed to continue to procure affordable National Security Space launch services, maintain assured access to space and ensure mission success with viable domestic launch service providers. The program is driven to provide launch flexibility that meets warfighter needs while leveraging the robust U.S. commercial launch industry, which has grown significantly during the past five to seven years.
Colonel Robert Bongiovi, Director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise Directorate, said that as the NSSL program embarks on a new chapter making launch services more agile and effective for the warfighter, it honors more than 25 years of EELV history — tthe program boasts a remarkable legacy of the successful launches of 75 National Security Space missions, placing more than $50bn of space warfighting assets on orbit. As NSSL commences, it is focused steadfastly on the future as this is one of the most critical times in the national security space history. The program is committed to 100 percent mission success and providing the most innovative, flexible, and affordable services to meet National Security Space mission needs and maintain U.S. dominance in space.
Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the global positioning systems, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems, space situational awareness capabilities, and space superiority. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power ms 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.