Sponsored By Viasat
02 Apr 19. Viasat Introduces Second-Generation Hybrid Ku-/Ka-band In-Flight Connectivity Antenna System for Commercial Wide-body Aircraft. Hybrid In-Flight Connectivity System Provides Commercial Airlines an Accelerated Migration Path to the ViaSat-3 Global Network.
Viasat Inc., (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today the introduction of its second-generation Ku-/Ka-band shipset, inclusive of an advanced hybrid antenna and complementary radome. The latest dual-band system, aimed at the commercial wide-body aircraft market, will keep passengers and crew connected across commercial Ku- and Ka-band Geosynchronous and Non-Geosynchronous satellite networks, virtually anywhere they fly around the globe. The shipset sets into motion an accelerated migration path for commercial airlines to operate on Viasat’s global network. It immediately enables worldwide roaming connectivity for new or retrofit aircraft – serving a large and growing portion of their routes on the fastest Ka-band networks, and the balance on global widebeam or spotbeam Ku satellites. Airlines can steadily migrate a greater proportion of their routes to the faster, more economical Ka-band service enabled by a growing array of partner satellites as well as the global ViaSat-3 constellation planned for launch in 2021 and 2022.
Viasat has years of expertise in delivering dual-band antenna systems to the global market. The Company’s first-generation shipset served airframes ranging from commercial narrow-body planes to larger senior leader government aircraft.
“Hybrid antenna systems are not new to Viasat—we have nearly two decades of experience deploying and managing these systems,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Aviation, Viasat. “Similar to the first generation, Viasat’s latest dual-band system promotes smooth transitions among multiple satellite beams across Ku- and Ka-band networks. Our next-generation Ku-/Ka-band terminal is the most capable and flexible solution for commercial wide-body aircraft—giving them a global solution today—with piece of mind that the technology deployed will be forward-compatible with the innovations in spacecraft technology of tomorrow.”
- For airlines: Viasat is providing a forward-compatible hybrid shipset solution that leverages today’s Ku- and Ka-band networks, but enables airlines to easily transition to the faster, more reliable, more economical Ka-band networks of tomorrow.
- For passengers and crew: Viasat’s hybrid technology allows for continuous connectivity when in-flight.
How it works
In-flight, customers will have access to all the Ka-band satellites currently participating in Viasat’s global network (WildBue-1, Anik-F2, ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 and KA-SAT, as well as nbn’s SkyMuster I and II and other current and future partner satellites). When out of Ka-band coverage, service will switch to the Ku-band network. Viasat is continuing to add Ka-band capacity to its global network through partnerships and via its ViaSat-3 global Ka-band constellation, comprised of three ultra-high capacity satellites that are expected to offer complete visible Earth coverage. The first two ViaSat-3 class satellites are under construction to serve the Americas and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) markets, respectively. These two satellites are expected to be launched by the 2021 timeframe. Viasat has also recently commenced a third ViaSat-3 class satellite for Asia Pacific (APAC), expected to be launched in the 2022 period—enabling full global Ka-band coverage. (Source: ASD Network)
05 Apr 19. Adelaide’s Lot 14 welcomes expansion of satellite integration company. South Australian satellite company Inovor Technologies has announced its expansion into a new state-of-the-art satellite integration facility at Adelaide’s space innovation precinct, Lot Fourteen. The company’s new facility in the Hanson Building at Lot Fourteen will include an electronics laboratory, cleanroom, and design and testing areas, and will support the company’s future growth.
Inovor Technologies is the only private Australian company that designs and integrates satellites in Australia using a local supply chain, after its establishment in SA in 2019.
Inovor will integrate nano satellites manufactured in Australia, which can be used to track objects in space, deliver Earth imaging direct to clients, track fires, floods and earthquakes, as well as detect activities such as illegal deforestation.
Premier Steven Marshall said this showed SA is benefiting after being chosen as the home of the Australian Space Agency.
“Inovor’s arrival at Lot Fourteen further strengthens South Australia’s defence and space credentials, and is again proof that the Australian Space Agency’s is a real draw card for start-up and scale-up business,” he said. “Importantly, this move will generate jobs for engineers and scientists, with Inovor flagging the potential to expand its workforce and production capability in the future.”
Inovor Technologies founder and chief executive Dr Matthew Tetlow said the strategic move into new facility at Lot Fourteen opens up new opportunities for collaboration in the space sector.
“Lot Fourteen is an environment where exciting things are happening and opportunities will emerge because we’re next to entrepreneurs, innovative companies, as well as government and potential defence and civilian customers,” Dr Tetlow said.
He added, “Being close to the Australian Space Agency is important because proximity to decision makers is key. Lot Fourteen also offers us the flexibility to expand our premises as we are anticipating increasing our capacity over the next few years so that we are able to build multiple satellites at any one time.”
Inovor technologies is an Australian company that offers specialist development services and satellite mission solutions. Inovor provides turnkey nanosatellite solutions for clients using its Apogee nanosatellite bus. (Source: Space Connect)
05 Apr 19. Space strategy to set path for development of Australian space sector. Nothing inspires quite like space and Australia’s new space agency, only in its second year of operations, is on the right trajectory to grow a globally respected space industry, says the agency’s inaugural head Dr Megan Clark. In the foreword to the new Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028, Dr Clark said this strategy provided the certainty of a long-term framework around which the space sector can plan for long-term transformation and growth of the industry.
She said Australia has a strong and dynamic space sector, with high ambitions, great potential characterised by creativity and entrepreneurship and a sense of discovery.
“We have listened to what the sector has told us through consultations across all states and territories and we have sought to reflect the view of the nation in this strategy,” Dr Clarke said.
Dr Clark said threaded through the strategy were its values – Australia as a responsible global citizen, being safe and secure in space and on Earth, achieving shared ambition through partnership, doing what we say we will do, embracing entrepreneurship and inclusion and being curious to learn more.
The strategy sets out four central pillars and the seven National Civil Space Priorities. Priorities one and two – position, navigation and timing, and Earth observation – received some funding in the 2018 budget.
Priorities three and four – communication technologies and ground infrastructure – will be a focus in 2019-21. This week’s budget provided funding for a mission control facility in Adelaide.
The remaining priorities will be the focus of attention in 2021-28. The strategy said the global space sector was growing rapidly and was a significant part of what’s termed the fourth industrial revolution.
It’s worth US$350bn today, with forecast growth to more than $US1.1trn by 2040.
“In Australia alone, the space sector is growing strongly and outperforming the broader economy. The Australian space sector is expected to grow at an annualised 7.1 per cent over the five years through 2023-24. The industry value added over the decade to 2023-24 is also expected to grow at an annualised 8.6 per cent, compared to an expected growth in Australian GDP over the same period of 2.7 per cent,” it said.
“Strong space economies like the US and Europe are underpinned by large aerospace industries, while Australia will need to grow capabilities through its start-up and growing space businesses and attract international partnerships.”
The strategy will be implemented in three phases over the next decade, building on work undertaken by the Space Agency since it was formed in July 2018.
- Phase 1: Involves setting conditions for growth, including establishing international and national partnerships and setting up collaborations for research. It includes amending the Space Activities Act 1998, which could allow manned space flight from Australian territory.
- Phase 2 (2019-21): Involves building on relationships and implementing STEM initiatives and partnerships with industry to develop the future diverse and inclusive workforce, including Indigenous engagement and internships.
- Phase 3 (2021-2028): Will involve building success, including the final four priority areas, establishing joint international missions and further engaging in the region.
The strategy sets principles for government investment. That investment will need to align with National Civil Space Priorities, target a gap in the market, market failures and inefficiencies.
It will include enabling infrastructure that will bring industry to scale and will leverage contributions from other sources, such as academia or research organisations, industry, state and territory governments and international counterparts. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Apr 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) conducted its second ground test of a 63-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) today in Promontory, Utah. The company developed this new side-mounted rocket motor to add power to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle. The maximum thrust of the GEM 63 is 373,000 pounds or roughly the equivalent of five B-2 Spirit bombers. Up to five GEM 63 motors can support a single Atlas V launch.
“The Northrop Grumman team developed the GEM 63 motor in just three years, an impressive accomplishment for such a complex drop-in solution to an existing launch vehicle,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman.
The GEM 63 team developed the motor under a cooperative development program with ULA. Northrop Grumman has been supplying solid propulsion motors for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964 and is ULA’s largest legacy supplier of solid propulsion. Northrop Grumman’s expertise in solid rocket boosters combined with ULA’s history of reliability results in a strong partnership that guarantees assured access to space for national security.
“This test is an important step in the development of these new boosters for the Atlas V launch vehicle and we thank Northrop Grumman for the continued partnership and outstanding teamwork,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “By flying key hardware first on our Atlas V rocket prior to flying it on our Vulcan Centaur rocket, it provides increased confidence for the first flight of our new rocket in 2021.”
The first ground test, conducted in September 2018, qualified the motor for use as a strap-on booster for the Atlas V. Today’s test satisfies additional requirements for certification by the U.S. Air Force. The first launch using GEM 63 motors will take place in 2020.
In addition to the GEM 63 motor, Northrop Grumman is also developing a GEM 63XL motor for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket. Both versions of the GEM 63 family use common materials and processes to maintain a high-reliability, low-cost product. The first GEM 63XL case, which is the longest non-segmented, monolithic case ever manufactured, has already been wound at a new facility in Clearfield, Utah, and is currently in the structural qualification process.
03 Apr 19. Raytheon and USAF to modernise legacy space debris tracking system. A Raytheon-led consortium is partnering with the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) to modernise and simplify the legacy space debris tracking and monitoring system Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC). The SPADOC is a 1990s-era system that reached the end of its planned service life. The USAF intends to replace SPADOC with modern systems in a bid to simplify operations and enable greater space situational awareness and collision avoidance capabilities. However, the development of the new system is expected to take several years before it becomes operational.
Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services programme director Dave Fuino said: “Within just a few months we brought together a team, developed the technology to modernise it, got it on contract and held a series of demos to prove it worked. We went from concept to proving the solution in less than a year, which is really remarkable.”
As part of the modernisation project, Raytheon and AFLCMC will use modern computer hardware to emulate SPADOC’s capabilities, providing the same functionality as the existing system. Known as SPADOC Emulation Analysis Risk Reduction (SPEARR), the emulated environment is expected to provide a greater sustainable system that requires minimum maintenance and offers significant reductions in power and cooling consumption.
The reduced consumption is due to the integration of SPADOC’s capabilities into two small server racks instead of being spread over 1,000ft² of an ageing, analogue computer system.
US Air Force Legacy Space Branch chief Bob Taylor said: “SPADOC provides critical space-tracking capabilities that we must sustain and maintain while we wait for new systems to come online.
“At the same time, it’s critical that we address the obsolescence risk of an ageing SPADOC system. So we came up with a really innovative, modern solution to this problem.”
Taylor added that the team used proven emulation technology to find a solution and reduce obsolescence risk. Raytheon and AFLCMC will now focus on evaluating options for fielding SPEARR. Other partners in the project include a.i. solutions, Zivaro and E&M Technologies, and emulation companies Fundamental Software and M2 Technologies. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
03 Apr 19. Another Launch Startup Gets Work from US Air Force. New Zealand-based Rocket Lab will orbit a trio of satellites as Pentagon hunts for cheap ways to put sensors in space. Rocket Lab, a startup that aims to put satellites into low Earth orbit inexpensively, has a big new customer. The United States Air Force will launch three experimental satellites aboard one of Rocket Lab’s Electron rockets this April in New Zealand, service officials said Wednesday.
The satellites —the Space Plug and Play Architecture Research CubeSat-1, the Falcon Orbital Debris Experiment, and Harbinger — will help the service explore software-defined radio and avionics; tracking of space objects and debris; and the ability of commercial satellites to meet Defense Department space requirements, respectively.
The Air Force used the Defense Innovation Unit’s’ Commercial Solutions Opening process “to competitively and rapidly award DoD launch service agreements with non-traditional, venture-class companies,” a service press release said.
It’s a big win for a company valued at a little over $1.2bn. Rocket Lab launched an experimental satellite for DARPA on March 28 and had previously, satellites for U.S. Special Operations Command and microsatellite maker Planet Labs.
With the help of advanced 3D printing for the parts on the company’s Rutherford engine, Rocket Lab hopes to bring the cost of a launch down from a reported around $6m to just $5m and eventually conduct 55 launches per year. The news comes as the Pentagon seeks ways to loft constellations of imaging satellites into low Earth orbit, creating a “sensor layer” that Defense Department officials say is essential to tracking future Russian and Chinese hypersonic missiles.
Several military leaders made that point again on Wednesday at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., expressed impatience with how slowly the Pentagon was getting the new sensor layer into space, a hold-up he attributed to the ongoing reorganization of the military’s space efforts.
“This seems like a thing we should be doing now,” Heinrich said, referring to a new sensor layer. “Isn’t this an urgent need that we ought to be focused on now?” he asked Defense Undersecretary for Policy John Rood.
“Senator, I would agree that this is a high-priority need,” Rood answered. “The hypersonic testing that we see being conducted by countries like is a noteworthy concern.” (Source: Defense One)
03 Apr 19. Rocket Lab launches DARPA’s R3D2 satellite in orbit. Rocket Lab has launched an experimental satellite for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The launch is the company’s first this year and sent a prototype reflect array antenna on board Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle to orbit. DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) mission aims to space-qualify a new type of membrane reflect array antenna to improve radio communications in small spacecraft. The antenna is made of Kapton membrane and is as thin as a tissue. It is designed to pack tightly inside the R3D2 satellite for stowage during launch, before deploying to its full size of 2.25m in diameter once it reaches low Earth orbit (LEO). The idea behind the design is to provide the capability of large spacecraft in a much smaller package, removing the need for satellite owners to build large satellites. According to DARPA, the mission involves monitoring antenna deployment dynamics, survivability and radio frequency characteristics of a membrane antenna in LEO. Through the mission, the agency hopes to validate emerging concepts for a resilient sensor and data transport layer in LEO. This is expected to pave the way for a space-based internet. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor to build and integrate the 150kg R3D2 satellite. MMA Design supplied the antenna for the mission, while Trident Systems built R3D2’s software-defined radio and Blue Canyon Technologies provided the spacecraft bus.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said: “The unique requirements of this mission made Electron the perfect launch vehicle to lift R3D2 as a dedicated payload to a highly precise orbit.
“We look forward to continuing to provide frequent, reliable and rapidly acquired launch services for innovative small satellites.”
The mission took around 18 months from satellite design and development to launch. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
03 Apr 19. DoD Schedules Five R&D Small Launches in 2019 Under Rapid Agile Launch Initiative. The Pentagon’s Space Test Program is partnering with several non-traditional small launch providers to send five advanced research-and-development payloads into low Earth orbit (LEO) this year, Air Force officials said April 4. The Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI) has awarded five launch missions to three launch providers scheduled for 2019, which will send 21 satellites into space for $25.6m, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate said Wednesday.
Rocket Lab USA, a privately owned small satellite launcher, will deliver the first mission next month, while VOX Space, a subsidiary of Virgin Galactic, is slated to take the second mission, Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Anderson, chief of the DoD Space Test Program Branch, said in a media call that day. The first mission, dubbed STP-27RD, will lift off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand aboard the companies “Electron” two stage orbital expendable launch vehicle, Anderson said. An AFSMC strategic communications plan document viewed by Defense Daily states that the Space Test Program and Rocket Lab are eyeing April 15 for initial launch capability, with a two-week launch window.
The first RALI mission will include three DoD science and technology experiments, including a joint experiment between the United States and Sweden, an Air Force Academy space experiment and a technology demonstration sponsored by the Army Space and Missile Defense Center.
Rocket Lab successfully launched a prototype reflect array antenna to orbit for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on March 29.
The second mission, dubbed STP-27VP, will utilize Virgin Orbit’s “LauncherOne” rocket, which is air-launched from a 747 mothership dubbed “Cosmic Girl,” Anderson said. The system can operate from various locations, and initial flights will take place from Mojave Air and Space
Port, California, with other sites to be determined. The mission launch will be LauncherOne’s third flight, per AFSMC.
Anderson declined to provide more details regarding launch windows or location, stating only that the launch is scheduled before the end of this calendar year. He also declined to name any other launch providers that could be involved in future launches this year. These two first missions were procured by the Space Test Program in partnership with Defense Innovation Unit, Anderson said. “We leveraged DIU’s knowledge of commercial technology companies and their commercial solutions offering process to competitively and rapidly award launch service contracts with non-traditional launch providers,” he said.
The RALI program was launched via a congressional plus-up to the STP’s fiscal year 2017 budget to procure “venture class small launch vehicles” to fly R&D payloads. That funding has grown to over $25m, Anderson noted. The Defense Department’s Space Test Program is part of AFSMC’s Space Development Corps and is based at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Source: Defense Daily)
03 Apr 19. The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and a consortium of tech firms led by Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) are modernizing and simplifying the legacy Space Defense Operations Center, a 1990s-era system that tracks and monitors space debris.
Dave Fuino, program director for Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, said: “Within just a few months we brought together a team, developed the technology to modernize it, got it on contract and held a series of demos to prove it worked. We went from concept to proving the solution in less than a year, which is really remarkable.”
The SPADOC system reached the end of its planned service life. The U.S. Air Force is planning to replace it with modern systems that will simplify operations and provide greater space situational awareness and collision avoidance capabilities. However, the new system won’t come online for several years.
“SPADOC provides critical space-tracking capabilities that we must sustain and maintain while we wait for new systems to come online,” said Bob Taylor, U.S. Air Force Legacy Space Branch chief. “At the same time, it’s critical that we address the obsolescence risk of an aging SPADOC system. So we came up with a really innovative, modern solution to this problem.”
Raytheon and AFLCMC decided to emulate SPADOC’s capabilities with modern computer hardware. The new emulated environment, SPADOC Emulation Analysis Risk Reduction, known as SPEARR, is designed to provide a more sustainable system that requires less maintenance. The new hardware will provide the same functionality as today’s system, making it easy to learn and operate.
Additional benefits are significant reductions in power and cooling consumption. Most of these reductions are because all of SPADOC’s capabilities are now integrated into two small server racks instead of spread over 1,000 square feet of an aging, analog computer system.
“We used proven emulation technology to help solve our challenge, significantly reducing obsolescence risk,” said Taylor. “Innovations in programmatic and technical approaches drove a smarter, better and faster solution. The next step is to evaluate options for fielding SPEARR.”
“Between the experience of our NORAD teammates, a.i. solutions, Zivaro and E&M Technologies, and leading emulation companies Fundamental Software and M2 Technologies, we addressed the aging SPADOC system. It’s a game changer,” said Fuino.
02 Apr 19. 1st satellite in European SpaceDataHighway forges 20,000 successful laser links. The European Data Relay System (EDRS)—dubbed the “SpaceDataHighway” by its private operator, Airbus—has passed another milestone. EDRS-A, the first satellite in what will eventually be a global constellation, has made its 20,000th successful optical link to its customer satellites since its launch in January 2016, marking a world first in laser communication in space. This milestone provides further evidence that ESA’s Partnership Projects initiative successfully develop sustainable end-to-end systems, right up to in-orbit validation. The system is a public-private partnership between ESA and Airbus, with significant investment by the German Space Administration DLR.
Satellites that are used to monitor the Earth operate from low-Earth orbits and usually relay the information they have acquired only when they are in a direct line-of-sight with a ground antenna.
EDRS-A rides much higher in the sky, where it can maintain a continuous connection with its ground stations and an almost permanent one with the low-Earth orbiting satellites. The system uses secure laser communication to receive data from the low-Earth orbiting satellites and beams the information back to Earth via radio frequency.
“Earth observation satellites have orbits that mean having to wait up to 100 minutes to transmit information to the ground. That can be a problem when you need information immediately, for example, when trying to provide aid during flooding or wild fires, or help ships navigating through ice sheets,” says Michael Witting, EDRS project manager at the European Space Agency.
“EDRS provides data to the ground rapidly because of its bird’s eye view from its geostationary orbit. Its point-to-point transmission using cutting-edge laser communication technology means data can be transmitted at very high speeds, and it is hard to jam the signal or to eavesdrop on it. EDRS is another example of how ESA’s Partnership Projects federate industry around large-scale programmes, achieving a competitive leap forward and economic impact.”
At present the system is used to collect information from the European Union’s Copernicus programme of Earth observation satellites. EDRS is due to start transmitting data from the Columbus module of the International Space Station later this year, and the system is also open to other commercial customers. (Source: ASD Network/Source: European Space Agency (ESA))
02 Apr 19. ESA’s ‘Cubesat Central’ for Smaller Missions Into Space. ESA has set up a dedicated unit to work on the standardised nanosatellites called ‘CubeSats’, teaming up with European companies to develop low-cost technology-testing missions. Missions in preparation include a double CubeSat to test rendezvous and docking techniques, and one to explore near-Earth asteroids.
A fast-growing sector of Europe’s space economy, CubeSats are small satellites based on standardised 10 cm cubic units – compact enough to fit inside a backpack, but increasingly capable of delivering valuable results from orbit. Last year’s ESA CubeSat GomX-4B tested orbit control manoeuvres with micro-propulsion and intersatellite radio links for rapid data relay.
This year, three ESA technology-testing CubeSats for atmospheric reentry measurements, ozone monitoring and solar radiation studies are on the way to launch, and other ESA directorates are now developing their own missions.
“We’ve been working with many small- to medium-sized European companies within this new part of the space sector,” comments Roger Walker, heading ESA’s new CubeSat Systems Unit at its ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands. “Our projects aim to fly promising new technologies in space at low cost, and rapid pace, which our partner companies can then exploit commercially.
“We’ve set up a standardised lean project approach, by tailoring existing European Coordination for Space Standardization regulations specifically for CubeSats – the European rulebook for mission development. It’s a way of managing risk throughout the CubeSat engineering and qualification process, to draw maximum benefit from these nanosatellites in terms of timeliness and low cost while ensuring the missions will work as planned and remain within their low budgets.
“These standards have been well received by our industry partners, and some of them are adapting them for their own commercial projects. Having such an ESA stamp of approval is valued highly by commercial customers who are looking at using this emerging technology.”
Deep expertise on miniature technologies
ESA’s new CubeSat Systems Unit is planned as a centre of excellence, building up deep expertise in miniaturised technology and equipment and CubeSat systems integration, at the service of CubeSat projects across the Agency.
Roger adds: “We’re overseeing a total of nine CubeSat projects at the moment at various stages of design and development, including two highly innovative missions that form part of our CubeSat roadmap presented to ESA Member States for funding in our General Support Technology Programme at the Space19+ Ministerial Conference later this year.
“The M-ARGO Miniaturised – Asteroid Remote Geophysical Observer, is a solo CubeSat for asteroid exploration [LINK to image caption] while the RACE, Rendezvous Autonomous CubeSats Experiment, will test out autonomous rendezvous and docking capabilities for CubeSats – opening up new ways of running missions as multi-CubeSat ‘aggregated satellites’ that could be build up in space over time.”
Meanwhile ESA’s Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications is developing a Pioneer series of CubeSat missions, to trial novel telecoms technologies, ESA’s Directorate of Operations has OpsSat due to fly – an in-orbit testbed for innovative mission control software – and the Directorate of Earth Observation is due to fly FSSCat, a double CubeSat mission for tandem observation of the polar regions.
ESA’s Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration is considering a CubeSat mission to test out a key capability for Mars Sample Return – optical detection and navigation to a sample container from orbit while its the Science Directorate is also adapting some CubeSat technologies for operation in the deep space environment as well as studying the potential use of CubeSats in support of planetary science missions.
Support for reaching space
ESA is also providing access to ground facilities – control rooms and ground stations – as well as know-how via the Agency’s ESOC mission control centre for universities, startups and businesses aiming to get their own CubeSats and small satellites into space.
“In general we see good support from ESA Member States who don’t have a strong national space programme,” explains Roger. “They might ask us to run projects with their industry, benefiting from our technical management expertise. Another strength is that we can set up collaborations across Member States, when all the critical technology needed is not available in a single country, linking up companies to make a viable mission.”
The CubeSat Systems Unit – part of ESA’s Systems Department Project Office Project Office of the Systems Department, in ESA’s Directorate of Technical and Engineering Quality – can also facilitate access to CubeSat-friendly test facilities, such as the vibration and thermal test equipment of ESTEC’s Mechanical Systems Lab, and the Magnetic Coil Facility used to measure a CubeSat’s residual magnetic field – increasing the precision of attitude control systems using onboard ‘magnetotorquers’.
“One of the price and performance advantages of CubeSats is their use of ‘commercial off the shelf’ parts,” says Roger.
“But these items can be susceptible to space radiation. What we have done and continue to do is organise proton beam testing of electronics boards for multiple CubeSats at once, using the various radiation facilities that ESA has access to, screening them for vulnerabilities in a major de-risking exercise.”
ESA’s antenna test facilities are also at the disposal of CubeSat developers; a Dutch-made Hiber nanosatellite designed to serve the Internet of Things was recently evaluated in ESTEC’s state-of-the-art Hertz chamber.
And because CubeSats are all built to the same dimensions, the Agency can help find them low-cost launch opportunities using standardised deployment devices.
The inaugural flight of the ESA-developed ‘Small Spacecraft Mission System’ dispenser – devoted to CubeSats and other small satellites – on a Vega launcher takes place this June.
CubeSat Industry Days
Europe’s CubeSat industry is made up of dozens of companies. “A good barometer is attendance of our CubeSat Industry Days, which take place every two years,” notes Roger.
“We had more than 250 participants for the last event from over 150 different organisations, and it’s looking like a lot higher attendance still for our next Industry Days in June, discussing all aspects of the CubeSat sector.”
How we make a space mission
ESA is Europe’s space agency, enabling its 22 Member States to achieve results that no individual nation can match. ESA combines space mission development with supporting labs, test and operational facilities plus in-house experts covering every aspect of space, supported through the Agency’s Basic Activities. (Source: ASD Network/Source: European Space Agency (ESA))
03 Apr 19. Engage! New space strategy sets vision for Aussie space sector. Dr Megan Clark head of the Australian Space Agency has officially announced the next step in supporting Australia’s ability to participate in joint space missions with international partners and multi-lateral organisations.
Dr Clark said, “It lays out a phased investment in our national civil space priorities for Australia and sets a timetable for regulatory reform to enable launch to space from Australia and the foundations for human space flight from Australia.”
The new strategy, released in conjunction with the federal budget, stands on four pillars:
- To open the door for Australian innovators and grow a connected, respected and globally competitive space industry in Australia;
- To increase Australian space capability from areas of strength, addressing challenges and transforming and growing an Australian space sector that lifts the economy and takes us into areas of future competitive advantage;
- To promote a responsible space sector culture that is globally respected and ensures national safety and security under an appropriate regulatory framework that meets international obligations and standards; and
- To create a workforce with a vision to build an Australian space sector that inspires industry, researchers, government and the Australian community to grow the next generation of the space workforce.
Activities under these pillars will be guided by seven national civil space priorities – position, navigation and timing; Earth observation; communication technologies and services; space situational awareness and debris monitoring; leapfrog research and development, robotics and automation; and access to space.
“Australia’s space sector must also address the challenges of a fiercely competitive and rapidly growing space sector while building scale and addressing market barriers,” Dr Clark said.
She said the first two – position, navigation and timing, and Earth observation – received funding in the 2018 budget. While communication technologies and ground infrastructure will be a focus in 2019-21 with this week’s budget funding a mission control facility in Adelaide.
“The agency has a vital role to help open the door internationally for our research and industry sectors and set a relevant legal and regulatory framework that meets our international obligations and facilitates growth in our industry while maintaining safe and secure operation in space and on Earth,” Dr Clark said.
She added that the time was right for Australia to leverage its competitive advantages – unique location to connect with space, robotics, sensors and automation, advanced communication, quantum technology, rocket propulsion, space medicine and astronomy – to take a place in the global space sector.
Dr Clark said Australia’s space sector touched virtually every sector of the Australian economy. That includes sending satellites and spacecraft into space as well as using space to help us communicate, locate and see the Earth in new ways.
“Australia has a strong and dynamic space sector, with high ambitions, great potential characterised by creativity, entrepreneurship and a sense of discovery,” she said.
Dr Clark said ASA would report every two years on progress towards the goal of tripling the space sector contribution to Australia’s GDP to $12bn and creating 20,000 more jobs by 2030.
“This strategy provides the certainty of a long-term framework around which the sector can plan its activities towards the long-term transformation and growth of the industry,” she said.
The Australian Civil Space Strategy outlines the government’s plan to transform and grow our space industry over 10 years. Both the government and Australian Space Agency envision an industry that lifts the broader economy, inspires and improves the lives of Australians. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Apr 19. Northrop Grumman signs MOU to support Japanese space industry development. Northrop Grumman has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Young Astronauts Club of Japan (YAC) for collaboration in space-related education programs. The MoU was signed by Stan Crow, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Japan; Nozomu Sakuraba, director of JAXA Space Education Centre; and Mamoru Endo, executive managing president of YAC.
“I am delighted about signing this agreement with our partners, JAXA and YAC. This partnership, in support of STEM education, will help inspire the next generation of space pioneers,” Crow said during the signing ceremony.
Under the terms of the MoU, the three partners will develop space-related education programs in Japan and the US. These programs will encourage students to consider careers in the space industry as they also develop important skills such as teamwork and critical thinking.
Sakuraba added, “Our mission at JAXA is to pursue innovative research and development in the aerospace field for the benefit of people throughout the world. Co-operation with companies such as Northrop Grumman and organisations such as YAC help us realise this mission.”
The Young Astronauts program was established in 1984 by US president Ronald Reagan and journalist Jack Anderson, with the goal of using space to encourage students to take a greater interest in maths and science. Reagan also wanted the Young Astronauts to develop friendships with the future space explorers of other countries.
YAC of Japan held an inaugural meeting in August 1986 in Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture and by November, the club was officially established with the approval of the Japanese prime minister. The YAC of Japan became a public interest incorporated foundation in August 2012. Since its establishment, the club has led space education and international exchange activities for youth across Japan.
JAXA was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). It was designated as a core performance agency to support the Japanese government’s overall aerospace development and utilisation.
JAXA, therefore, can conduct integrated operations from basic research and development to utilisation. JAXA became a national research and development agency in April 2015, and took a new step forward to achieve optimal R&D achievements for Japan, according to the government’s purpose of establishing a national R&D agency.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernisation to customers worldwide. (Source: Space Connect)
02 Apr 19. Government budget set to boost growth of Australia’s space sector. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed a major funding announcement to support the development of Australia’s burgeoning space sector with a new National Space Infrastructure Fund. The government is backing its commitment to Australia’s growing space sector with a new $19.5m in the 2019 federal budget for a National Space Infrastructure Fund.
Industry Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said this meant money on the ground to help triple the size of the Australian space sector to $12bn and increase employment to 30,000 jobs by 2030.
“Australia’s pioneering space sector is developing rapidly and we need to maximise this growth for the benefit of the broader economy,” she said.
Ms Andrews said the investment in space was underpinned by the new 10-year Australian Civil Space Strategy that would seek to ensure Australian space business could gain a larger share of the US$350bn global space economy.
“The space fund will support the coalition’s plan to help create 1.25m more jobs over the next five years.
Australia’s space business is booming but it’s starting from a relatively low base. Australia launched its own rockets in the 1960s but successive governments failed to pursue this early advantage. Last year the new Australian Space Agency was launched to foster the national space industry. Ms Andrews said the Space Infrastructure Fund included $2 m for the delivery of future space manufacturing capability in NSW. It will also fund a $6m Mission Control Centre in South Australia which would ceate a platform for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and researchers to control small satellite missions. That would enable real time control and testing of Australian satellite technology to accelerate development. Ms Andrews said the government had now committed more than $73m to support the development of Australia’s space sector. That includes $47.7m to establish the Australian Space Agency, $19.5m for the Space Infrastructure Fund and $6m for the Space Discovery Centre. To ensure, space and other high technology business of the future can attract the skilled workers they need, the government has launched a $3.4m package to support greater participation of women and girls in in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). That includes funding to extend the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative in higher education and research institutions. (Source: Space Connect)
02 Apr 19. Connecting with Myriota’s new technology for a future battlefield. Australia-based Myriota’s nano-satellite technology has demonstrated capability enhancements for an array of sensors and devices to talk directly to low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, without the need for additional and costly infrastructure. On the battlefield, it’s not always viable to install vulnerable terrestrial infrastructure such as towers, gateways and other land-based structures. It’s simply not practical.
A 250-strong cohort of Canadian, New Zealand, UK and US defence scientists were testing emerging technologies that could improve the effectiveness of military personal operating in complex urban environments, and Myriota’s Internet of Military Things (IoMT) was also put to the test.
Defence Science and Technology (DST) is responsible for science and technology that helps to safeguard Australia’s national interests. It is the second largest publicly funded R&D organisation in Australia with over 2,300 staff, scientists and engineers.
“Myriota’s Internet of Military Things (IoMT) prototype terminals raised interest amongst the defence forces participating in the Contested Urban Environment 2018 (CUE18) challenge, which included Australian, Canadian, UK and New Zealand Forces – all envisaged further applications beyond chemical detection,” a spokesperson from Defence said at the CUE18 forum. Two prototype terminals that communicate directly with LEO satellites were deployed during CUE18. Each sent small packets of data that included a timestamp, location and status. An additional set of three terminals that used existing terrestrial infrastructure were also trialled.
All five terminals were programmed to simulate the detection of a chemical attack and remained under surveillance throughout the trial. When triggered, the terminals created an alert that was sent to the “Common Operational Picture”.
“Using the data collected at the challenge, DST is now looking to further develop Myriota’s innovative IoMT terminals for the specific needs of the Australian Army,” the spokesperson explained.
Low in cost, and with the ability to be rolled out and collect relevant information from across the battlefield, the application of Myriota’s devices and network was a success. Participants also recognised the potential benefit of quickly populating a large area with a network of smart sensors to increase freedom of manoeuvre. (Source: Space Connect)
04 Apr 19. Amazon plans to launch over 3,000 satellites to offer broadband internet. Amazon.com Inc on Thursday confirmed its plan to build a network of over 3,000 satellites through “Project Kuiper” to provide high speed internet.
The project will launch a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to people globally who lack basic access to broadband internet, the company said. Details of the project were filed with the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union last month.
Amazon’s satellite project faces stiff competition from similar ventures from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX and Airbus-backed OneWeb among others. In February, OneWeb launched its first six satellites. Companies such as 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. Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin also signed a deal with Canada’s Telesat to launch part of satellite constellation. (Source: Reuters)
02 Apr 19. Germany begins reusable rocket study. Germany’s space agency DLR has begun work on a reusable launcher concept that would see rockets captured midair, before being landed by a plane. The three-year study, called FALCon (Formation flight for in-Air Launcher 1st stage Capturing demonstration), would see the development of a winged first-stage booster, or a “rocket catcher”, employing an international team that will build on previous simulations and flight experiments.
Dr Martin Sippel, DLR’s FALCon project leader, confirmed that the European Commission granted €2.6m for the project. The project leader said that the idea for the project came from evaluations on “how to save mass on the rocket”, and looking at how to save fuel compared with other reusable rockets, which require extra fuel to slow the vehicle when it returns to Earth.
“If we tow it back, we save on the mass of the complete propulsion system for fly back, that provides a performance advantage,” Dr Sippel said.
Such a system wouldn’t be operational for over a decade, however, according to a road map for the FALCon program.
“Assuming we are successful in getting funding, then we could develop to, say, at least a [technology readiness level] of 6 by 2028, so it could be ready for a next-generation reusable first-stage [that could be] operational in 2035,” Dr Sippel said. “That’s a rough road map.” Full costs for the project have also not been finalised, Dr Sippel added. (Source: Space Connect)
02 Apr 19. European Space Agency exoplanet satellite ready to launch. The European Space Agency’s exoplanet satellite, Cheops, has been declared ready to fly after successfully completing a series of final spacecraft tests. Cheops will lift off as a secondary passenger on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket launching from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will be stored at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Madrid for a few months before being shipped to the launch site, targeting the launch time slot between 15 October and 14 November in 2019.
Günther Hasinger, ESA director of science, said, “We are thrilled to be launching Cheops later this year. With its ultra-high precision observations of stars that we already know to host exoplanets, the mission will enable a first-step characterisation of the composition and nature of planets beyond our solar system.”
Cheops is a follow-up mission: it will make observations of bright, exoplanet-hosting stars to measure small changes in their brightness due to the transit of a planet across the star’s disc, targeting in particular stars hosting planets in the Earth-to-Neptune size range.
Knowing when and where to point in the sky in order to catch these transits makes Cheops extremely efficient, maximising the time it spends monitoring actual transit events.
“It has taken over five years of work to get to this point, and we are within budget and fully on schedule, so we are extremely satisfied to see the satellite finally ready for flight,” Nicola Rando, ESA Cheops project manager said.
The transit observations will yield precise measurements of a planet’s size. Combined with known information about the mass of the planet, this data will make it possible to determine its density, providing vital clues about its composition and structure, indicating for example if it is predominantly rocky or gassy, or perhaps harbours significant oceans.
Hasinger said, “Cheops is ESA’s first satellite dedicated to exoplanets, paving the way to two more missions in the coming decade and consolidating European leadership in exoplanet science.”
Following in the steps of Cheops, ESA’s PLATO, the Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars mission, and ARIEL, the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey mission, will be launched in the late 2020s to discover and further investigate new worlds around other stars.
Cheops is an ESA mission implemented in partnership with Switzerland, with important contributions from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Apr 19. Astrocast Successfully Launches Second Test Nanosatellite. Satellite Tests Clean Propulsion Technologies for Rapid Separation, Collision Avoidance, and De-Orbiting. Astrocast announced today the successful launch of its second IoT Nanosatellite. The launch, piloted by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), took place yesterday from the Satish Dhawan Space Center. This second mission will offer more opportunities to customers interested in testing the Astrocast IoT communication services. This mission will also focus on a set of propulsion technologies designed for separation, collision avoidance and de-orbiting.
“It is very important that companies think about the entire lifecycle of their nanosatellites. As a Swiss company, we will lead by example and do everything we can to keep space clean. Using a set of reliable and flight proven technologies, Astrocast is building the ability to control, maneuver and ultimately de-orbit its satellites,” said Fabien Jordan, CEO of Astrocast. “We can avoid collisions from other satellites, easily de-orbit and re-deploy satellites for technology upgrades, and reduce the amount of space debris left at the end of a satellite’s lifecycle. This nanosatellite represents the first of many technology advances we aim to develop toward the security and longevity of our network.”
The ability to control, reposition and de-orbit nanosatellites is key to lessening the amount of space debris that is currently plaguing low-earth orbit missions. Collision avoidance is an ongoing battle. Astrocast is the first to test a series of technologies that will allow them to have greater control and maneuverability of their network once it is launched. These technologies include:
- Gas propulsion
- Electric propulsion
- Automatic de-orbiting
- Backup communications
“It is important that companies begin to think long term about the nanosatellites they launch into orbit. Clean nanosatellite technology is possible, and we are taking some of the first steps toward this,” Jordan said.
This is the second test of the Astrocast IoT Nanosatellite network. The first test, launched in December, is fully stabilized with a working payload and is operating nominally. Astrocast is a nanosatellite network of 64 CubeSats specifically designed to transmit and receive low bandwidth data from IoT devices. Astrocast will be the first nanosatellite solution to deliver all of these features:
- 100% coverage of the globe including remote areas
- Lowest latency low earth orbit network
- Two-way communications
- L-Band and S-Band frequencies
- Communication module smaller than a credit card designed in partnership with Airbus
- 256 bit encryption with multi-level security
- Patented data protocol developed and optimized for satellite IoT
- Low-cost and ultra-low power chipset optimized for Astrocast
- Miniaturized antenna
- Low-cost data plans
- Web application for monitoring assets and subscription plan.
Astrocast SA, in partnership with the European Space Agency, Airbus, and Thuraya, is developing an advanced nanosatellite network for the Internet of things (IoT). Airbus and Astrocast have developed a low-cost ASIC and module that provides the most power efficient satellite modem for IoT applications. The constellation will consist of 64 CubeSat satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and will provide low latency global coverage. Astrocast was founded in 2014 by the developers of SwissCube, one of the longest lasting, operational nanosatellites in space. For more information visit www.astrocast.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
01 Apr 19. ThinKom Solutions, Inc., today announced the successful completion of in-flight connectivity trials of its ThinAir® Ka2517 phased-array antenna mounted on the Proteus high-altitude long-endurance aircraft. The Proteus satellite data communication package was developed as a joint effort involving ThinKom, Inmarsat Government and Scaled Composites. The trials included initial tests in Chantilly, Virginia and the Mojave Air and Space Port, California, culminating in a series of demo flights at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The ThinAir antenna delivered a 25 Mbps return link and a 5 Mbps forward link operating at over 50,000 feet altitude through an Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band satellite in geostationary orbit. The phased array maintained connectivity to the satellite each flight, including during take offs, in-flight maneuvers and landings. Further, the ThinAir antenna was able to send the full 25 Mbps from the aircraft at an elevation angle of 25 degrees, while providing data rates of 12 Mbps at elevation angles as low as 15 degrees.
ThinKom supplied the Ka2517 phased-array antenna in a low-profile 7.8-inch high radome, along with an adaptor plate, antenna controller and transceiver electronics. Scaled Composites designed and built a custom fairing to mount the radome on the aircraft’s fuselage and integrated the ThinKom system with the payload on the aircraft.
Inmarsat Government developed and provided the system’s modem manager, PRO-MODMAN, designed specifically for the Ka2517 to operate on Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band steerable beams. The PRO-MODMAN integrates the capability of a DVB S2X modem with the flexibility of an OpenAMIP configurable system controller.
“These successful in-flight demonstrations further validate the ThinAir Ka2517’s capability to provide uninterrupted broadband connectivity with near-zero aerodynamic drag – an important consideration for many classes of UAVs and long-endurance missions flying at extreme altitudes,” said Bill Milroy, Chief Technology Officer of ThinKom Solutions. “I would like to thank the superb engineering teams from Inmarsat Government and Scaled Composites who worked with us to achieve this important milestone. This was truly a team effort.”
“Inmarsat Government was pleased to support this important joint demonstration using the Inmarsat Global Xpress capability. The results of the trials proved, once again, that highly mobile government customers can rely on Global Xpress – a globally-available high-throughput, flexible and interoperable connectivity solution that provides coverage wherever and whenever required,” said Steve Gizinski, Chief Technology Officer, Inmarsat Government.
Proteus is a twin-turbofan tandem-wing aircraft originally developed and built by Scaled Composites in 1998. It is currently owned and operated by Scaled Composites. The experimental aircraft is designed to carry payloads up to 2,000 lbs. at altitudes from 50,000 to 63,000 feet and remain on station more than 14 hours. It is intended to support the demonstration of piloted and UAV missions, including telecommunications, reconnaissance, atmospheric research, commercial imaging and space launch.
01 Apr 19. Satellite connectivity proves life saving. Satellite communication is supporting the ongoing disaster relief efforts in south-eastern Africa two weeks after Cyclone Idai left a trail of destruction, satellite manufacturer Inmarsat has identified. After heavy rains hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe on 14 March, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) – a global network of humanitarian, private sector and government organisations – activated the United Nations Connectivity Charter.
Under the charter, satellite operators, including Inmarsat, guarantee access to vital communications support in the event of disasters.
Inmarsat-sponsored Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) is also on the ground in the badly affected coastal region around Beira in Mozambique, where the telecommunications infrastructure was destroyed by winds of up to 200km/h. The emergency telecoms agency team installed a Global Xpress (GX) terminal at the airport 48 hours after the tropical storm hit, giving humanitarian aid agencies a vital high-speed satellite internet connection to co-ordinate activities.
Within two days, the number of users doubled from 350 to 796 and the amount of data exchanged tripled from 41GB to over 118GB. As a result, TSF has installed a second GX terminal at the co-ordination centre.
The Disasters Emergency Committee, which is co-ordinating UK charities’ Cyclone Idai appeal, estimates that 2.5 million people across the affected region are in need of help. Flooding remains severe and the full scale of the disaster has yet to become clear as search and rescue operations continue into areas that remain inaccessible other than by air. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Apr 19. Rocket Lab conducts first launch of 2019. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket has launched from New Zealand, marking the first launch of the year for the start-up spaceflight company. The booster delivered to orbit the Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) spacecraft, an experimental satellite that will be operated by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The R3D2 mission “intends to space-qualify a prototype reflect array antenna to improve radio communications in small spacecraft”, with launch taking place from the Māhia Peninsula in NZ.
The original mission was due to launch in February, however it was delayed in order to allow Northrop Grumman, builder of the R3D2 antenna, more time to complete checks and tests.
“The R3D2 antenna, made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, packs tightly inside the small satellite for stowage during launch, before deploying to its full size of 2.25 metres in diameter once it reaches low-Earth orbit,” Rocket Lab said in its mission description.
Rocket Lab’s last launch was in December, when the Electron Rocket delivered 13 CubeSats to orbit for NASA, and the company is aiming to conduct at least 11 more missions this year.
Issues with the video transmitter on Electron and inclement weather pushed the launch of the R3D2 back by nearly a week, after its month-long delay. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Apr 19. Single Indian rocket puts satellites in three orbits, in first for nation. An Indian rocket on Monday placed domestic and foreign satellites in three different orbits on a single flight, a first for the nation and a low-cost option that could burnish its reputation for pioneering affordable options in space.
The launch of a domestic intelligence satellite and 28 foreign ones came less than a week after India used an anti-satellite missile to take down one of its own satellites, demonstrating a capability only China, Russia and the United States had possessed previously.
The state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said 24 satellites from the United States, two from Lithuania and one each from Spain and Switzerland were positioned in Monday’s launch, in addition to India’s EMISAT satellite.
“This particular mission is very special for ISRO,” its chairman, K. Sivan, said after the launch from India’s southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh.
“This is for the first time the PSLV is carrying out three orbital missions in a single flight,” he said in a speech, referring to the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle family of rockets.
Sivan, who previously told media the “three-in-one” launch would help cut costs, said the agency aimed to complete 30 more missions this year, including India’s second lunar exploration programme known as the Chandrayaan-2.
Among the satellites in Monday’s launch are 20 earth-imaging satellites of Planet Labs Inc, a private satellite operator based in San Francisco.
Two of the satellites, one from Lithuania and another from Switzerland, will be used for the “Internet of Things”, or connecting physical devices to the Web, the agency added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the agency on the launch and said his government was working on raising citizens’ interest in science and their respect for scientists.
ISRO wants companies such as state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Mumbai-based conglomerate Larsen & Toubro to build its rockets in future.
Last year India said it expected to spend less than 100bn rupees ($1.4bn) on its first manned space mission to be launched by 2022, suggesting it is likely to be cheaper than similar projects by the United States and China.India’s 2014 launch of an unmanned Mars mission cost $74m, just a fraction of the $671m spent by U.S. space agency NASA on its MAVEN Mars mission. ($1=69.3080 Indian rupees) (Source: Reuters)
25 Mar 19. ViaLite Shares an Innovative Product Line at Shows … Sees Purple with C-Band Link. ViaLite RF will be and has been busy traveling with a new product line. The company was at the CABSAT and Telemetry shows this March, and will be taking booths at four more exhibitions worldwide this year, beginning with NAB in Las Vegas in April (booth C12039). The other exhibitions are Satellite in Washington DC (booth 518), CommunicAsia in Singapore and IBC in Amsterdam, and for the first time, ViaLite will be at CommunicAsia in June at booth 1V1-12, which is a key international communication and broadcast technology trade event for satellite operators, system integrators and media/entertainment professionals. The new C-Band Link, being showcased at all of these shows, generated positive feedback with live demonstrations at its CABSAT launch in Dubai. Providing a wide frequency band of allViaLite’s RF over fiber links, with an operational range of 500 MHz – 7.5 GHz, it is suitable for use in a wide range of satcom and broadcast applications as well as some surveillance and weather radar system
ViaLite has launched a new C-B and RF over fiber link. With a C-Band uplink/downlink frequency range of 3.4–7.1 GHz, the link is suitable for use in a wide range of satcom and broadcast applications, as well as some surveillance and weather radar systems.
By removing the need for a down converter to convert signals to an IF band, the C-Band Link reduces deployment costs and complexity. Another benefit is that there is no signal attenuation across the site from the dish to the operations center.
The ViaLiteHD C-Band Link is available either as a rack chassis card or as a new purple OEM module, and comes with a five year warranty as standard.
“The C-Band Link has the highest frequency band of all our RF over fiber links and we anticipate it generating a lot of interest,” said ViaLite Marketing Manager: Natasha Miller.
Discounted/free exhibits passes are available, courtesy of ViaLite, for NAB with the code: LV9822 and for the Satellite show in May with code: VIAL440. (Source: Satnews)
27 Mar 19. SatixFy and ST Engineering’s Joint Venture, JetTalk, to Show Aero, a Fully Electronic Terminal, at Aircraft Interiors Expo. JetTalk, a joint venture between SatixFy UK Limited and ST Engineering, will be showcasing their state-of-the-art In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) satellite Aero terminal, based on SatixFy’s Electronically Steered Multi-beam Antenna Array (ESMA) technology, at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, April 2-4, held at the Hamburg Messe, Germany.
JetTalk’s Aero all-in-one terminal is fully electronic. With no moving parts, it allows fast and simple installation, maintains the highest reliability and is low maintenance. Able to simultaneously communicate with multiple GEO/MEO/LEO satellites, the terminal provides aircraft passengers with continuous seamless broadband IFC. The terminal supports acquisition and tracking capabilities for multiple beams at multiple polarizations and integrates SatixFy’s next generation modem baseband ASIC for a comprehensive terminal solution supporting any external modem.
Charly Ben Chetrit, the JetTalk Chairman, said that with high demand for onboard real-time video streaming over the internet and high bandwidth consuming social media applications, 300 to 450 passengers in larger jets will soon require a grade of service of up to 1 Gbps during flights. Moreover, most local and regional lines run by single-aisle aircraft are eagerly awaiting an IFC solution that has a quick and simple installation and calibration to compete in the market and offer added value services to their passengers.
JetTalk Aero terminal consists of software defined antenna, as such it supports multiple satellite operators with its future proof SDR (Software Defined Radio) modem and offers straightforward integration with available networks or broadcast operators
Each tile is ESMA based, containing SatixFy’s family of dedicated System on a Chip (SoC) devices. The Beamformer (“Prime”) is an industry-new true-time delay chip for pointing and tracking multiple beams from an array of radiating elements. Each element is connected to the RFIC chip (“Beat”) which serves as up and down converter LNA and PA per element. Together, the Prime and Beat create the basis for the ESMA tile.
The Aero terminal offers embedded LEO/MEO support, is software configurable and enables customers the flexibility to migrate to new constellations when available, and with inherent make-before-break capability.
JetTalk is a Joint Venture Company between SatixFy UK Limited and ST Engineering and is developing a satellite antenna system to deliver higher performance with significant cost savings for airline operators, providing enhanced broadband connectivity experience for in-flight passengers. (Source: Satnews)
28 Mar 19. Space Force nominees coming within ‘weeks,’ Shanahan says. The nominees to lead President Donald Trump’s new Space Force could be announced in “weeks, not months,” according to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. Travelling in Florida Thursday, Shanahan said that he already has nominees in mind for the top spots of the Space Force. Under a proposal from the Pentagon, the new service will live under the secretary of the Air Force. However, it will be led directly by an under secretary of the Air Force for space (who must be nominated and confirmed by the Senate) and the service’s chief of staff, a four-star position who will also serve on the Joint Chiefs. Members of Congress have expressed concern that the new Space Force, along with the new Space Command and Space Development Agency, will lead to increased overhead, particularly among uniformed officers. Congress has already imposed a cap on the number of general officers in the Pentagon, with the goal of reducing that total by the early 2020s.
“It’s going to be different from what the White House proposed,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said in remarks to a defense industry audience at a McAleese & Associates conference March 13. “Three more four-star generals are not going to make us stronger in space.”
Still, Shanahan said Wednesday that he sees “a lot of support” from Congress on Space Force as a whole.
“The fundamentals, there wasn’t push back on that. Push back was on, how do we make it more nimble, how do we make it more cost effective? I cheer when I hear that kind of language. That’s music to my ears,” he said.
There have also been questions in the expert community about whether there are enough bodies to fill out the three space organizations, given that the space realm has not, in the Pentagon’s own description, been treated as enough of a priority. Shanahan pushed back on that idea as well, saying “I don’t worry about finding the talent.”
“We have such depth. It’s really about how we organize to harness it,” he added. “But we are deep in space talent. Now, how do we unleash it to address what we talked about earlier — environments becoming even more contested.”
But on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. David Thompson, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, did acknowledge that the Pentagon is carefully considering how to structure new organizations given the finite number of general officers in the space field.
“With these organizations growing, it does put a stress on the inventory, as it would in any case,” he told reporters. “I will tell you that our leaders inside the department, inside the Air Force, understand that and are doing very careful planning today and for the future.”
One name off the list for Space Force leadership is the Air Force’s top space official, Gen. John Raymond. He was tapped this week to lead Space Command, in a dual-hat role that will also see him continue as head of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
While the Air Force has been the lead service in space, a number of Navy offices will eventually be incorporated into the new Space Force. Could the Space Force look to the Navy to lead the new service?
Asked whether that option was in play, Shanahan would only repeat twice: “We have a good plan.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Apr 19. USAF Requires $632m in Above-Threshold Requirements Funding to Launch New Early Warning Satellites by 2025. As the Air Force continues to develop its next generation of early missile warning satellites, it requires an additional $632m in fiscal year 2019 to meet an initial launch capability of 2025 for its first satellite, officials said this week. Last year, the service set an ambitious goal of fielding the first next-generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) space vehicle by 2023, within five years of the program’s launch. Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper said in a May release that “This is an important system for the nation, and to ‘go for the gold’ by targeting five years instead of nine years allows us to pick up the pace to defend the nation.”
However, the service has fallen behind on that “gold medal” goal and will require additional funding from Congress to meet a 2025 initial launch timeline, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC) Commander Lt. Gen. John T. Thompson said March 27 during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee on Capitol Hill.
“We originally envisioned being able to go as fast as 2023. However, the costs in the budget were just not able to make us to that gold-medal level,” Thompson said in response to questions from SASC Strategic Forces Chair Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).
Further, the service is requesting two above-threshold reprogramming (ATR) authorities – one for fiscal year 2018 funds and one for FY ’19 funds – that would allow it to remain on track for a 2025 initial launch, he added.
“We are still looking for about $600m worth of above-threshold-reprogrammings that
we’re working very closely with the [Defense] Department and the Hill” to approve, he said.
“The FY ‘18 ATR was approved by the Hill … but not all of the sources were. So we’re trying to get the sources in line.” The service is requesting $400m in FY ’19 ATR authorities, Thompson said.
Congress approved $344m in above-threshold reprogramming in the FY ’18 budget, the Air Force said in an email to Defense Daily March 28. “However, the sources approved were only sufficient to fund $112m of the requirement, leaving a remaining unfunded balance of $232m,” Maj. Will Russell, an Air Force spokesman, said. “Adding this shortfall to the $400m unfunded requirement in FY ’19 brings the total FY ’19 reprogramming requirement to $632m.”
Over half of that request would go toward payload development, increasing personnel support and expediting design, engineering and requirements development, the Air Force said. The remaining funds would pay for increasing spacecraft development personnel in support of systems engineering and requirements development, support long-lead item procurement for communications and other hardware, and “restore full efforts to design and build other key bus components.”
Thompson noted that the service has still managed to accelerate the program two years ahead of what would typically be expected under a traditional procurement program, stating that the Section 804 authorities that Congress approved for the Air Force have been “a godsend” for keeping the program on track.
“Using those rapid prototyping authorities from section 804, we were able to put both layers, if you will, of our Next-Gen OPIR on contract within six months, saving at least a year of time from the standpoint of what we’ve had to do when we were conducting a traditional source selection,” he said.
The Air Force has a quarterly requirement to come to the Hill and update lawmakers on the program, along with the rest of its Section 804-related efforts, Thompson noted. “We want to make sure that the rigor and the robustness of the oversight that we’re providing the contractors is there from the get go. We also want to make sure that our board of directors – the Congress – is kept fully appraised of what we are doing.”
The Next-Gen OPIR program is slated to replace the Air Force’s current constellation of Space-Based Infrared Surveillance satellites with five systems in Geosynchronous orbit and two Polar satellites. The service last May announced its intent to award a sole-source contract to Lockheed Martin Space [LMT] to define requirements, create the initial design and identify and procure flight hardware for a satellite to operate in geosynchronous orbit. It awarded the not-to-exceed $2.9bn contract for three Next-Gen OPIR satellites under Block 0 in August 2018 (Defense Daily, Aug. 14, 2018).
It awarded a second sole-source contract worth $47m to Northrop Grumman
Aerospace Systems [NOC] to analyze system and program requirements for the polar satellites. Lockheed Martin this past October down-selected Raytheon [RTN] and a Northrop Grumman-Ball Aerospace [BLL] team to compete to provide the Next-Gen OPIR mission payload, with a final provider to be selected in 2020 following critical design review (Defense Daily, Oct. 4, 2018). (Source: Defense Daily)
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