Sponsored By Viasat
10 Apr 19. Viasat Next-Generation Link 16 Products Achieve Advanced Concurrent Multiple Reception Capabilities Sought by U.S. Military. The U.S. military recently identified the need for Concurrent Multiple Reception (CMR) capabilities in Link 16 products as a way to enhance communications and reduce network congestion on Link 16 networks. CMR enables a Link 16 radio to receive multiple messages simultaneously versus legacy radios that can only receive one message at a time. Taking a proactive approach, Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today it has successfully integrated CMR advancements into its extensive line of next-generation Link 16 products—ahead of emerging government requirements—to help ensure warfighters have assured access to mission-critical information when using Link 16 communications—regardless of location (air, land or sea) or platform (aircraft, ground vehicle, ship or dismount).
The CMR features have now been implemented in the latest version of the KOR-24A Small Tactical Terminal (STT), of which over 1,400 units have been fielded by the U.S. and International customers, as well as the AN/PRC-161 Battlefield Awareness and Targeting System – Dismounted (BATS-D) handheld Link 16 radio. As a result, the new capabilities are also now resident in the Viasat Move out / Jump off (MOJO) expeditionary tactical gateway system and Viasat’s other embedded product lines. These features, coupled with the Link 16 Enhanced Throughput modes that were already resident in Viasat’s next-generation products, will enable network planners to fully optimize network performance enabling maximum participants sharing maximum capacity of information to support mission requirements.
“We listen to our customers, understand their pain points and develop products and capabilities that will better serve the needs of today’s warfighter,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Our proven non-developmental item (NDI) business model is designed to deliver new capabilities significantly faster, at lower lifecycle costs and with lower risk to the customer when compared to traditional acquisition programs and timelines. Bringing CMR capabilities into our Link 16 portfolio will allow military personnel to have battlefield depth—creating a networked force that will have significantly shorter decision cycles, increased effectiveness and improved safety.”
Viasat’s NDI-driven development processes will bring CMR Link 16 capabilities to products that provide users with access to simultaneous, resilient communications streams of mission-critical data. Viasat’s CMR Link 16 capabilities will also allow U.S. military customers to both expand the number of units with direct digital access to key tactical data while also addressing network congestion in order to adapt to emerging mission requirements and maintain a tactical edge across today’s battlespace.
04 Apr 19. Viasat, Expedition Communications Empower Businesses across Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with High-Speed Satellite Internet.
Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, and Expedition Communications, a trusted wholesale satellite internet and telecommunications company, announced today a partnership to deliver high-speed satellite internet to businesses and government agencies across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through this relationship, Expedition Communications will sell, install, maintain and provide customer support for Viasat’s high-quality satellite internet service across the islands. Viasat has satellite internet coverage over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with its ViaSat-2 satellite, the world’s most advanced high-capacity communications satellite.
Viasat’s satellite broadband speeds are faster than many of the islands’ current telecommunications services. By using Viasat’s business internet service, many of the islands’ businesses and government organizations can reliably connect critical business applications such as cloud-based collaboration, Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), email, point-of-sale transactions, high-speed file transfers, streaming video, Internet of Things (IoT) applications and more. The Viasat business internet service can also be used as a diverse business continuity back-up service, providing a resilient secondary internet connection for businesses who can’t afford to have downtime related to terrestrial infrastructure outages. In fact, Viasat and Expedition Communications paired up after Hurricane Maria to provide critical disaster recovery connectivity to clinics throughout Puerto Rico.
“All businesses, regardless of where they decide to set-up operations, should have access to a quality internet network,” said Dean Eldridge, CEO of Expedition Communications. “By collaborating with Viasat, we are enabling businesses to adopt technologies that were previously unavailable to them. Viasat’s advanced satellite system is helping organizations be competitive and connected–across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands–enabling them to expand the types of business applications they can use.”
Cody Catalena, vice president and general manager, Global Business Solutions at Viasat continued, “In working with Expedition Communications, we are able to support the expanding economies of both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We can provide businesses on both islands an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of satellite internet—with speeds, reliability and affordability that keep a business running—continuously, even when other communication services are down.” (Source: ASD Network)
10 Apr 19. DARPA Picks Three Competitors For Launch Challenge Prize. Tucson-based Vector Launch, Virgin Orbit, and a “stealth” startup can compete for prizes up to $10m in the DARPA Launch Challenge.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is giving $400,000 to each of three companies chosen to compete in the “DARPA Launch Challenge” to demonstrate rapid and responsive launch of small payloads. Tucson-based Vector Launch, Virgin Orbit, and a “stealth” startup will now have the opportunity to compete for prizes up to $10m for successfully proving they can successfully launch twice in a row within a short timeframe from being provided mission parameters, DARPA told reporters here April 10.
Progress on the competition should be welcome news to Will Roper, Air Force Acquisition Chief, who is excited about the advent of small launch competition. In an interview here today with my colleague Colin Clark, he said: “We’ve got to grow the industry base. We’d be foolish not to.” The Air Force has its own small launch program underway as well, with New Zealand firm Rocket Lab announcing on April 5a planned launch this month of three small experimental payloads under the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI) program.
Whereas Vector plans to use a traditional vertical launch rocket, Virgin Orbit is using a horizontal launch system that launches a rocket from an airplane. Vector is developing the Vector-R for payloads below 60 kilograms and the Vector-H for carrying payloads weighing 315 kilograms up to 250 kilometers.
The DARPA Launch Challenge, initiated in April 2018, is designed to “fundamentally shift military space capabilities to enable on-demand, flexible, and responsive launch of small payloads” to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), according to an agency press release. The first phase award, announced on April 10, was given to the companies that met the challenge’s qualification requirements, including successfully garnering a Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) launch license. As a next step, DARPA in January or February 2020 will challenge the competitors to launch a payload to LEO within two weeks from one of eight predetermined sites, after receiving notice of the launch site only a few weeks prior and exact details on the payload and intended orbit just days before.
Todd Master, DARPA’s program manager for the competition, said that each successful team will win $2m. They then will be required to do it again within two weeks, at a different site and with a different payload, to win the top prize of $10m. The second-place team will get $9m and the third $8m” ranked by factors including mass, time to orbit, and orbit accuracy,” according to DARPA. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
10 Apr 19. ‘Space Force’ Windfall Unclear for Eager Defense Companies. At Space Symposium, satellite makers big and small say they’re seeing the Pentagon awarding contracts faster, but still aren’t sure what to expect.
As the Pentagon reorganizes its oversight of space and figures out the right mix of its future satellites, a similar transformation is going on with companies who build the spacecraft, rockets, and technology the Defense Department seeks. Traditional large defense firms and small commercial startups are watching closely to see whether Congress will approve the Trump administration plan to create a Space Force, a new sixth branch of the military, and how the new Space Development Agency plans to create a web of hundreds of new military satellites in low-earth orbit.
“We’re in a really critical transitional time, it’s very transformational for something that we all know that we all feel every day,” Bill Gattle, president of Harris Corporation’s Space and Intelligence Systems segment, said in an interview at the Space Symposium, a trade show of military, civilian and commercial space professionals. “It’s changing pretty radically.”
Pentagon efforts to develop new satellite constellations are fragmented, however, and there remains a debate about what kinds of satellites the military should use. In recent years, there have been warnings that China and Russia are building weapons that could shoot down, jam, or hack the Pentagon’s larger navigation, communications, missile warning, and weather satellites. Those intelligence predictions have prompted a call for smaller and cheaper satellites that are closer to Earth and could serve as backups to the larger satellites in higher orbits.
Fred Kennedy, who has been put in charge of the Space Development Agency, has been tasked by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan with coming up with a plan, or architecture, for this new generation of satellite constellations.
“We’re going to be operating a little differently,” Kennedy said at a Tuesday briefing. “If you want to operate with the SDA, we’re trying to move quicker.
“If companies can be flexible, it’ll be better. And if they can’t, well, we’ll see what happens,” he said.
Speed is the name of the game right now.
“Today we just have a lot of ‘we gotta move, go,’ Harris Corp’s Gattle said. “That’s helping, but as industries mature, structure has to come. And the structure has to not kill the speed and affordability.”
Air Force officials say stripping bureaucratic policies will allow them to launch new missile-warning satellites more than three years faster than planned. But only after the get the OK from Congress to realign $623m to buy hardware for the satellites.
“I think industry has gotten the clear indication that speed matters and that the biggest problem is not on their side of the table with the engineering work, it’s on our side of the table to delegate authority down so that our program managers are managing their programs and not managing the Pentagon,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said.
Some company executives already are seeing the Pentagon award contracts faster. Among them, Boeing and Hughes, who are building a secure ground stations for military communications satellites. The companies were recipients of one of the first Pentagon contracts awarded using new rapid buying authoritiesfrom Congress.
“It seems like the [Defense Department] is holding true to its word that it is simplifying and speeding up its acquisition cycle,” said Richard Lober, Hughes vice president and general manager of defense and intelligence systems.
“I think it works well, particularly for programs like communications where commercial technology is just rapidly moving. It may not make sense for the next aircraft carrier or the next fighter jet … but for communications [and] networks, doing things quicker makes a lot of sense.”
At the same time, legacy companies already in the space business are looking to retool the way they’re structured to get ready for the boom in new satellite buys and the rockets needed to launch them. Among them is Aerojet Rocketdyne, which builds engines for the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets widely used for military space launches.
“I think to some degree, the heritage companies who all have proven track records are being viewed as expensive and relatively slow,” said Jim Maser, senior vice president of the company’s space business unit. “I think we’re kind of lumped into that.”
Part of the way Maser plans to change the stereotype is by partnering with other companies like Sierra Nevada.
“One of the ways I want to accelerate our ability to go fast is to build relationships with some of the entrepreneurial companies and to team with them so that jointly we can go faster,” Maser said. “They can build their reputation based on having an organization and a team that has proven capability, and we can build on their reputation and their culture by going fast and eliminating bureaucracy and slow decision making and get velocity into the system.”
Planet, a California-based company with more than 300 small imaging satellites orbiting Earth, is acquiring Boundless Spatial, a St. Louis-based geospatial software company, to create a subsidiary for its government business. (The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is among the company’s defense customers.)
The addition of Boundless Spatial will allow the government and Planet “to have high-bandwidth conversations and come up with good architectures to understand what we feel comfortable [with] about being open in commercial, and how do we create the new pathways and pipes in order to make sure that we can actually get information to those who need it the most, quickly,” said Robbie Schingler, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Planet.
Harris plays in both the large military satellite world, building components on new GPS III satellites, and builds smaller, quick response satellites, so Gattle created two units, one for the large satellites and one for the go-fast ones.
He compared his internal struggle — managing two workforces with different mindsets — to the Pentagon disputes over how best to buy satellites. The Air Force has purchased its large, expensive satellites, which usually take decades to field, through the Space and Missiles Systems Center. But it also can buy one-off satellites to address urgent battlefield needs through the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (much of their work is classified). Now there’s the new Space Development Agency, eyeing small, cheap constellation satellites.
“What we see from our perspective that both SDA and SMC have a role to play,” Rajeev Gopal, vice president of advanced programs at Huges. “In some areas, big satellites make sense. In some areas, a lot of small satellite make sense. We are ready to support both of them because we can leverage our commercial experience and technologies.” (Source: Defense One)
10 Apr 19. USAF Planning to Stand Up Space Force by 2024, Pending Lawmakers’ Approval. Should Congress approve the creation of a new Space Force under the Air Force, the service plans to begin standing up the new branch within 90 days of the legislation being signed, and to have a fully operational Space Force by 2024. Pentagon and Air Force officials are scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on the plan to create the DoD’s sixth branch dedicated to space as lawmakers continue to mull whether to support the effort.
Internal documents labeled “predecisional” that circulated the Pentagon last week and that were reviewed by Defense Daily shed some light on current plans for the Space Force’s transition, programs it could include and its future relationship to the intelligence community. The documents state that the transition will be phased over five years, between fiscal years 2020 and 2024. The headquarters will be established in FY ’20 to prepare for mission transfer over the next two years, while additional force build out will occur in 2023 and 2024. That timeline is realistic, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters Wednesday at the
Space Foundation’s 35th annual Space Symposium here.
“We need to be ready to move out smartly in the event that – or when – Congress passes its legislation on a Space Force, and there are thousands of decisions that would need to be made,” she said.
The goal is to be able to stand up initial components of the Space Force, such as financial services or planners, within 90 days of the legislation being signed. That would involve about 160 personnel, Wilson said.
A work plan was developed in conjunction with all of the services and was led by a two-star Air Force general as part of the Space Force Planning Task Force, she added. It was completed on March 22 and is being reviewed by other relevant agencies, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Feedback is due back later this week, Wilson said. The document notes that the task force aims to identify critical actions required to stand up an initial Space Staff by Oct. 1.
It reaffirms recent DoD talking points that the Space Force will cost $72m in fiscal year 2020, and $500m per year in additive costs once fully operational – around FY ‘24. That $500m per year will include $300m to maintain the Space Force headquarters, $110m in education and training, $20m for a “Warfare Center for Space,” $50m for a “Space Personnel Center” and $20m for a “Doctrine Development Center.”
Final decisions are still being made regarding which capabilities and programs would transition from the current services to the Space Force. But examples cited of programs and offices moving over include the Navy’s satellite communications program, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS); the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC), Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) and satcom management overall. Examples of programs that will not be moved over include user terminals and capabilities unique to a service’s core mission. Transfer does not necessarily mean the personnel will physically change locations, the document says. “Rather it means changing reporting, identifying clear roles and responsibilities, and establishing avenues for greater focus for space missions.”
The Space Force will be made up of about 15,000 personnel, a third of that number being civilians. The services identified 13,982 Air Force billets, 502 Army billets and 67 Navy billets that would fit under a new Space Force, and the document projects an additional 1,900
personnel will be needed for to staff the headquarters and to develop space expertise. The document identifies over 7,000 billets from the intelligence, command-and-control, and acquisition/R&D communities that could be transferred into the Space Force by FY ’24. Over 1,100 of those would come from the NRO. The plan appears to be that the Space Force will take over Air Force Space Command elements and functions currently operated by the NRO. However, the document emphasizes that the NRO and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) will not be absorbed by the Space Force. It notes that those agencies support all
national intelligence customers including the Defense Department and that integrating them would create risk and disrupt delivery of key capabilities. A six-month study is underway in which the defense secretary and the director of national
intelligence will “create and enhance mechanisms for collaboration between DoD and the IC to increase unity of effort and the effectiveness of space operations.” Lawmakers’ reception to the creation of a new Space Force have remained mixed, with many acknowledging the need to increase the focus on space, but expressing concern about creating
additional bureaucracy. Witnesses scheduled to testify before SASC on Thursday include Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, U.S.
Strategic Command Commander Air Force Gen. John Hyten and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. (Source: Defense Daily)
09 Apr 19. Shanahan Touts Unity in Space-Force Pitch, But Disagreements Clearly Remain. It’s a key week for proponents of the Trump administration’s space reorganization — and their detractors. This was supposed to be a week in which Pentagon leaders would “share our thinking and lay out our unified, whole-of-government plan to ensure U.S. leadership” in space. But less than an hour after Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan uttered those words, It became clear that deep disagreements remain about how to reorganize the U.S. military’s orbital operations. In her own speech here, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson warned about new plans to launch clouds of inexpensive satellites to augment larger ones that are more capable, yet ostensibly more vulnerable to jamming, cyber attack, or destruction by China and Russia.
“Launching hundreds of cheap satellites from the Earth as a supplement for the complex architectures where we provide…will result in failure on America’s worst day,” Wilson said.
She did not mention the new Space Development Agency by name, but her target was obvious to most of the thousands of military and commercial space professionals gathered at the annual Space Symposium.
A better idea, Wilson said, is using the low-Earth-orbit satellites being developed by the Air Force and through its Space and Missile Systems Center, the service’s satellite and launch buying command.
Wilson is stepping down as Air Force secretary next month to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Her remarks at the Space Symposium are just her latest jab at the Space Development Agency, which she has said duplicates Air Force functions and “should not move forward” until it has a “uniquely identifiable mission that cannot be accomplished by current organization.”
A former defense official pointed to other ways the Pentagon’s space reorganization efforts are duplicative.
“It is more than a little ironic that the acting defense secretary is calling for the unification and consolidation while at the same time they are creating multiple more organizations with, apparently, different visions for the future,” a former defense official said.
Later Tuesday morning, Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S.Strategic Command who has been nominated to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, appeared to play diplomat between Shanahan and Wilson. At a briefing with reporters, Hyten said the Space Development Agency and the newly reorganized Space and Missile Systems Center will take risks to move faster in new satellite development.
“What we as a nation have to understand is that both of those are going to be part of the solution in the future,” he said. “We have to make sure that we allow people to take risks and fail every once in a while.”
There is a lot at stake this week as Shanahan and other Pentagon officials work to convince Congress, which has the final say about several steps of the proposed reorganization, including the creation of a Space Force, a new branch of the military ordered up by President Trump. Shanahan, Wilson, Hyten, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford are scheduled to testify alongside one another at a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the proposals.
At the Symposium, Shanahan painted a dark picture of what could happen if America’s satellites are attacked.
“The threat is clear: we’re in an era of great power competition, and the next major conflict may be won or lost in space,” Shanahan said during a keynote address.
Shanahan said a Space Force — which, if approved by Congress, will be part of the Air Force just like the Marine Corps is part of the Navy — is necessary to defend against new Chinese weapons that could destroy or interfere with U.S. satellites relied on by the military, global financial institutions and ordinary people around the world. He singled out Chinese weapons that could jam U.S.communications, intelligence, and navigation satellites.
While there is general agreement about the threat, lawmakers are far from convinced about that the Pentagon’s Space Force is the solution. Some say it undermine U.S. space efforts by adding costly bureaucracy.
In his speech, Shanahan attempted to connect with ordinary Americans just as much as the space professionals assembled at the annual symposium. His language was rather clear and plain, a contrast to the highly technical remarks that generally prevail here. The acting secretary sought — through his speech and in an interview with Fox News’ Brett Bair that will air this week — to show U.S. citizens just how much they rely on military satellites, for navigation, ATM transactions, and more.
“Just as we developed the U.S. Navy to ensure free navigation of the seas, we need a military organization to ensure free navigation of the stars,” he said.
Shanahan also tried to downplay the Space Force’s price tag, which is estimated to be $500m per year by 2024, by saying the new service will cost every American just $1.50 per year.
Shanahan cited China “deploying directed energy weapons, and we expect them to field a ground-based laser system aimed at low-earth orbit space sensors by next year. They are also prepared to use cyberattacks against our space systems, and have deployed an operational ground-based [anti-satellite] missile system.” He also pointed to Russia’s development of anti-satellite weapons.
Defense officials argued the United States must get organized before a catastrophic event occurs.
“We can wait, but then we’ll probably be doing something like this in a couple years, once there’s a significant event that forces us to do it,” the official said. “We’d rather lean forward, be prepared, organize for the future rather than organize for the past. we think this is a way to get after it.”
A senior defense official tried to distance the Space Force from Trump, who first called for the new branch of the military about a year ago. The official noted that Congress had been asking the Pentagon to explore ways to reorganize its space activities, while the House passed legislation two years ago calling for a Space Corps, which is similar to the administration’s Space Force proposal.
While some lawmakers and their staffs have been skeptical of the need for a new service, they have championed the need to reorganize the military’s space activities, which are largely centered in the Air Force, but also within the Army and Navy. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith has rejected Trump’s Space Force proposal, saying that his committee will come up with its own plan. (Source: Defense One)
08 Apr 19. Kratos to Serve as Founding Member of Space ISAC. New Center for Satellite Industry Security Information Sharing and Analysis Unveiled at the 35th Space Symposium. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: KTOS), a leading national security solutions provider, today announced that the company will serve as the founding member of the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Space ISAC), which was unveiled today during a classified session at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a service to the industry and with the support of the U. S. Government, Kratos has provided the initial funding and support required to set up this critical organization.
ISACs are sector-specific, member-driven organizations stood up by the U.S. federal government to collect, analyze and disseminate all-hazards actionable threat and mitigation information to asset owners, operators, and members.
The need for a Space ISAC was conceived by the Science & Technology Partnership Forum in 2017 in response to recognized information sharing gaps within the cybersecurity and space community. The Forum’s goal was to enhance the community’s ability to prepare for and respond to vulnerabilities, incidents, and threats; disseminate timely information; and serve as the primary communications channel for the sector with respect to this information. The Forum shared this vision at the 34th Space Symposium in May 2018.
The formation of the Space ISAC supports the White House’s National Cyber Strategy, published September 23, 2018, which states that “the Administration will enhance efforts to protect our space assets and support infrastructure from evolving cyber threats,” while working “with industry and international partners to strengthen the cyber resilience of existing and future space systems.” Phil Carrai, President of Kratos Technology & Training Solutions Division, said, “It is an honor for Kratos to support such an important initiative. Protecting space assets is becoming an increasing challenge, both from cybersecurity threats and from the increasing challenges in the RF domain in the form of jamming, unintentional interference, Space Situational Awareness and other growing threats. Only by sharing data and experiences across government and industry will we be able to counter them effectively.”
Kratos is a technology-focused, mid-sized defense and communications solutions company supporting 90 percent of U.S. space missions and most of the world’s largest government and commercial satellite operators, both government and commercial. Kratos is also actively engaged in deploying space cybersecurity architectures, including guards, crypto, protected communications, application security, and cloud certification.
To facilitate the Space ISAC’s origination and organization as the founding member, Kratos has coordinated the organizational planning and federal government charter, funded the Space ISAC startup costs, and developed the operational plan for the Space ISAC. Kratos will continue to provide leadership within the Space ISAC and will recruit other industry-focused companies and organizations to build a robust Space ISAC membership.
Frank Backes, Senior Vice President of Kratos SATCOM Products and Federal Space Solutions and the acting President of the Space ISAC, said, “Kratos recognizes the need for an industry-led organization dedicated to securing space assets. As the Space ISAC’s founding member, Kratos will continue to play a leading role as the ISAC takes the next steps of establishing its Board of Directors, recruiting additional member companies and standing up an information portal.” (Source: ASD Network)
09 Apr 19. New SDA Director Unveils Notional Space Architecture, Outlines Top Agency Priorities. The leader of the new Space Development Agency (SDA) unveiled April 9 a notional future space architecture that the agency plans to develop over the next few years during his first public appearance as SDA director at the Space Foundation’s 35th annual Space Symposium here. The main priority is to build a proliferated communications and transport layer enmeshed network in low-Earth orbit, that will be resilient and upgradeable, and be derived from commercial systems wherever feasible, said Fred Kennedy, who previously led the DefenseAdvanced Research Projects Agency’s Tactical Technology Office. Additional capability layers would be fielded at a later date, to be positioned “anywhere between here and the moon.”
“Anyone who is tasked to plan or fight a future war with a peer competitor will need unperishable data on demand at scale around the globe, because our adversaries are cutting into our decision timeline. And we don’t have a choice, we have to respond,” he said.
The Space Development Agency will build out “a comprehensive architecture” to address eight critical priorities outlined in the Pentagon’s August 2018 report on the organization of national
security space, Kennedy said. He revealed six out of the eight priorities, which include:
- Detecting advanced missile threats and defending against them;
- Deploying an alternate position, navigation and timing capability to mitigate the growing threat to GPS;
- Deploying a consolidated highly autonomous battle management system to allow for rapid response to a variety of threats by all fielded forces, and by anyone who subscribes to the network;
- Capitalizing on advances in artificial intelligence to maintain constant custody of critical military targets worldwide, essentially creating “the internet of military things;”
- Extending situational awareness from the Earth up to lunar orbit while developing the means to efficiently and critically maneuver in that area “and to do whatever else it takes to dissuade adversaries from attempting to deny or degrade our space-based capabilities;”
- Enabling this new architecture by encouraging companies to build rapid response, small and medium-launch vehicles.
The notional space architecture comes from the agency’s recently completed 60-day study, which Undersecretary of Research and Engineering Mike Griffin directed DARPA and Kennedy to complete in a Dec. 6 memo, Space News first reported.
Kennedy said Tuesday that the numbers of systems listed for each layer in the architecture should be taken “with a serious grain of salt,” but that the order of magnitude is about correct. The agency is anticipating hundreds, if not a thousand additional small satellites being launched to offer a variety of capabilities. A more refined plan should be presented to Pentagon leadership by the end of fiscal year 2019, with the goal of deploying the first assets on orbit, along with associated ground capability, by 2022, he said.
The enmeshed sensor layer is the agency’s number-one priority, as all other efforts are predicated on its resilient, low-latency, global indications capability, he added.
The SDA’s second priority is mitigating advanced missile threats, and the agency will work with the Missile Defense Agency, DARPA, the Air Force and other partners to field a tracking layer capable of providing worldwide detection, indication and tracking of adversary threats, Kennedy said. “Other layers will follow, on deployment timelines of two years and perhaps even less,” he said.
The SDA plans to take advantage of commercially developed technologies and systems, but as the commercial market can be unpredictable, “we are prepared to go work this problem independently if we have to,” he said.
The agency, along with DARPA and its Blackjack program, will work with companies building mass-produced space aircraft, ground command-and-control systems “in a box,” commercial launch services and low-cost user terminals to build the new space architecture, Kennedy said.
DARPA’s Blackjack program plans to field 20 spacecraft by late 2021, and SDA plans to work closely with DARPA to apply lessons learned and transition critical technology and systems to the new architecture, he said. The goal of SDA’s planned efforts is to emulate the smartphone industry’s approach to upgrades, Kennedy noted. “We are not building exquisite systems intended to last a decade or more. To the extent possible, we’ll be buying and building commodities which we can update and replace or upgrade on short order.”
Earlier at the conference, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson appeared to take some shots at the SDA’s plans during her final keynote speech at the Space Symposium as she plans to leave the Pentagon at the end of May.
She said the idea of a “one size fits all” architecture with small satellites would be disastrous for national security, and added “launching hundreds of cheap satellites into theater as a substitute for the complex architectures where we provide key capabilities to the war fighter will result in failure on America’s worst day if relied upon alone.” That analysis came from the Air Force’s own separate 90-day study that sought to examine the service’s future space strategy, she said.
Wilson has previously stated that she has “some concerns” about the mission of the Space Development Agency, and how it would serve a different purpose from current space-related organizations. (Source: Defense Daily)
09 Apr 19. Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the Australian Space Agency have signed a Statement of Strategic Intent to help advance the agency’s goals to expand Australia’s domestic space industry. By 2030, Australia would like to grow the space market segment from AU$3.9bn to AU$12bn and double space industry employment from about 10,000 today to 20,000.
The agreement features Boeing support for investments in R&D, innovation, STEM education and government programs aligned with the Australian Space Agency’s priorities.
“Expanding our relationship with the Australian Space Agency is a significant step for Boeing and a reaffirmation of our longtime teaming with Australia in space,” said Jim Chilton, Boeing senior vice president, Space and Launch. “It means a lot that we’ve signed this agreement during a year when the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, when both Boeing and Australia played important roles in that historic achievement. We see great opportunity ahead for all of us as Australia continues to grow its space industry and national capabilities.”
Boeing has a long history of space-related projects in Australia, including:
— Launch of four new space R&D projects with Boeing’s research partner of 30 years, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
— Use of Boeing-built Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) and IS-22 satellites by the Australian Defence Force.
— Boeing Defence Australia is the prime contractor for the Australian Defence Force’s Project LAND 2072 Phase 2B Currawong Battlespace Communications System, which will include Australian-developed satellite communications terminals for accessing the WGS satellite network.
09 Apr 19. Boeing Australia’s development of a virtual reality training system for the CST-100 Starliner, which will take passengers or a mix of crew and cargo on missions to low-Earth orbit.
— Boeing HorizonX Ventures’ investment in Adelaide-based Myriota, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup seeking to revolutionize satellite communications by providing low-cost access to high-value data in remote locations.
— A Boeing partnership with the University of Queensland, DST Group and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory on the successful Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program.
Dr. Megan Clark AC, head of the Australian Space Agency, said the signing of the statement was an example of how collaboration and engagement across countries is an important aspect of the growing space economy, both in Australia and internationally. “This Statement of Strategic Intent highlights Boeing’s existing collaboration with CSIRO, universities and industry in broad areas such as space debris monitoring, advanced manufacturing and fuel production in space, on-orbit imaging, VR and remote space craft operation,” Dr. Clark said. “This partnership opens the doors for Australian innovators to participate in the global supply chain of the space sector.”
Boeing’s STEM efforts in Australia span universities and non-profits in order to help develop the future engineers and leaders of Australia’s space industry. Boeing supports Space Squad, the Australian Youth Aerospace Association, the Australian Space Design Competition, and FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology) including its exciting robotics program “Mission Moon.”
The Australian Space Agency is responsible for whole-of-government coordination of civil space matters. The Agency will transform and grow a globally respected space industry, and to reach and inspire all Australians through seven National Civil Space Priorities – Position, navigation and timing; Earth observation; Communication technologies services; Leapfrog R&D; Space situational awareness; Robotics and automation; and Access to space. Through the Agency, Australia aims to significantly grow its market segment from 10,000 jobs and a market size of $3.9bn to up to another 20,000 jobs and $12bn by 2030.
10 Apr 19. Space may serve as a regional flashpoint between China and the US. China’s strategic rivalry with the US and its energetic space program, with capabilities for hard and soft kill of satellites, means space may be the most dangerous regional flashpoint.
Associate professor Jian Zhang, of the University of NSW Canberra, said China had emerged as a major space power, with the second largest number of satellites in orbit after the US and plans to land a man on the moon by 2030. Last year, China made 38 successful launches against 34 for the US.
The Chinese military has also been studying space warfare for more than a decade, China has successfully tested an anti-satellite missile, and a Chinese satellite, billed as intended to clean up space junk, could actually be designed to take out communications and observation satellites. China is also developing an aircraft with a capability to venture further into space.
“Given the current intensifying strategic rivalry between China and the US, a case may be made that the most dangerous regional flashpoint is not in the South China Sea, not in the Taiwan Strait, perhaps not in the Korean Peninsula but in outer space,” Zhang told the Future Warfare Conference in Canberra.
He said China’s interest in space was a matter of national prestige but the dominant consideration was its strategic and military interest, driven by a deep sense of insecurity.
“Some Chinese military analysts actually argue that the number one threat faced by China is actually the threat to its space security,” Zhang said.
Despite China’s great progress, the US remains far superior in space capability, although US President Donald Trump’s proposed US Space Force was in response to earlier moves by China and Russia.
In 2015, China established what it called the Strategic Support Force, responsible for cyber, electronic and also space warfare.
Zhang said China was not just testing but had already made the organisational changes and force development for space warfare.
China believed space warfare was critical to fighting and winning an informationalised war.
Zhang said there were two types of space warfare – hard kill, in which target satellites were destroyed, and soft kill, when they were electronically jammed or spoofed. China’s military preferred soft kill, largely because it was reversible and potentially deniable.
“It’s clear that space warfare has now become a most important part of China’s military planning and force development and this area needs to be watched,” he said.
“The PLA favours an asymmetric capability targeting perceived US vulnerability, especially soft kill technology that could lead to dangerous miscalculations.”
Zhang said China’s guiding principles were to achieve unfettered access to, and use of, space and to deprive an adversary of the ability to do so. China’s focus was on deterring the US, developing asymmetric capability and promoting space control regimes that were favourable to China. (Source: Defence Connect)
10 Apr 19. SAS finalises agreement to expand proposed nanosat network. Australian space company Sky and Space Global (SAS) has finalised a new head of agreement with Danish satellite company GomSpace for supply of additional nanosatellites to expand the proposed SAS internet and communications constellations to deliver global coverage. The pending announcement prompted SAS to request the Australian Securities Exchange to place it in a voluntary trading halt company late last week. That will now be extended to Thursday to bed down changes to the board, with two directors, Michael Malone and Di Fulton, resigning and a search for replacements now under way.
“We have an exciting path ahead that will further strengthen SAS as a dominant player in the global space market. I would like to thank Michael and Di for their contributions at board level,” said Meir Moalem, SAS managing director and chief executive.
Moalem said over the last few months the company had identified a growing demand for internet of things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) services.
“The SAS team has reacted to that demand and we are now planning to launch a global coverage constellation as a first step. This will open up new markets and new potential for revenues, strengthening us on our path toward a real-time communications network,” he said.
SAS is planning what it calls the Pearls constellation of around 200 nanosatellites, providing a low cost communication network for commercial use across a number of sectors the telecommunications and international transport industries. The company listed on the ASX in 2016 and has a current market capitalisation of $58.98m. SAS said the planned launch of the first batch of nanosatellites had been moved from mid-2019 to early-2020.
Memorandums of understanding (MoU) had been signed with Arianespace and Rocket Lab to broaden launch opportunities and to provide additional contingencies and launch options.
When signed, the launch services agreement with Arianespace will confirm a launch commitment for 88 nanosatellites utilising Arianespace Vega launchers operated from the Guiana Space Centre.
Under the terms of the MoU with US firm Rocket Lab, SAS will assess whether it could meet technical, operational, commercial and scheduled launch requirements for a first launch during third quarter this year. That could occur from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch facility.
SAS said the time extension allowed it to grow its potential customer base and enhance revenue opportunities with existing customers.
“Following this change of first batch of nanosatellites to a global coverage constellation and the provision of IoT and M2M data coverage, 16 of the company’s existing customers have expressed their intent to increase the value of their existing agreements with SAS,” it said.
The new nanosatellites will be launched into high inclination orbits, allowing full global coverage that will include new markets in Australia, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina and Canada.
SAS has also signed reseller agreements with Singapore-based Streamcode and German firm T-Systems South Africa. The company said that had strengthened its progression to monetise its nanosatellites once launched into space.
The new agreement with GomSpace follows an earlier 2017 agreement development for development and production of a nanosatellite platform. This contract was valued at €64.5m and so far €7.2m has been paid.
GomSpace said it and SAS had conducted talks on an additional constellation of nanosatellites and the two companies had now agreed on the principle terms.
Delivery will be in two batches, the first of eight satellites by the end of 2019 and a second optional delivery of another eight next year.
“We are very happy that we can support Sky and Space Global with this global coverage constellation for IoT and M2M solution, and that we find a new way to corporate on the original project,” said Niels Buus, GomSpace CEO. (Source: Space Connect)
09 Apr 19. Rocket Lab to Provide a Speedy Ride to Orbit With New ‘Photon’ Spacecraft. Rocket Lab USA has designed a new spacecraft dubbed “Photon” with the intent of launching small satellite payloads into low Earth orbit within four months from order to orbit, company officials announced April 8.
“This is kind of the next level of democratization of space, said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO during a media roundtable Monday at the Space Foundation’s 35th annual Space Symposium here. “The Photon is a fully functional spacecraft bus – you can bring just your payload or your idea.”
The in-house designed and built platform is intended for missions such as technology demonstrations, risk reduction pathfinders, constellations and hosted payloads, with an available payload mass of up to 170kg, or about 374 pounds. It was developed as a configurable platform and could serve missions such as communications, remote sensing, and Internet of Things (IoT).
The first operational Photon will be launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand in the fourth quarter of 2019, Beck said. Future missions are in active planning for 2020 with both commercial and government customers, he added. Manufactured in the company’s Huntington Beach, California facility, Photon was designed as an integrated part of the Rocket Lab mission experience from the start of the company’s Electron launch vehicle program, Beck said. Electron received flight certification in 2016.
“Small satellite operators want to focus on providing data or services from space, but building satellite hardware is a significant barrier to achieving this,” he said. “The time, resources and
expertise required to build hardware can draw small satellite operators away from their core purpose, delaying their path to orbit and revenue.”
Lars Hoffman, Rocket Lab’s senior vice president for global launch services, said the goal is to make the process “as seamless, as streamlined as possible” for smallsat operators.
“We’re offering Electron dedicated launches, rideshare launches on your schedule at a price point that’s very affordable for all of our customers. And now we’re expanding our options … with Photon, with the chance to get your payload on orbit and not have to worry about anything else.”
Photon is an evolution of the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage, which has been successfully deployed on four orbital Electron missions, according to Rocket Lab. The spacecraft can support missions with an orbital life span of up to five years, and includes an S-band communication system, a high-performance attitude control system, and a robust avionics suite. As Photon comes online, Rocket Lab expected to accelerate the pace of launch, with Electron currently scheduled to launch about once per month through 2019 and more planned for 2020,
Hoffman said. The company in March successfully launched a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) R&D payload into LEO, and is scheduled to deploy several small research payloads on Electron later this month under the Pentagon’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative. Photon will be an important asset as Rocket Lab works to confirm new national security orders, and Beck noted that responsive access to space and a robust spacecraft architecture are critical for defense and natsec missions. “Photon enables you to deploy sensors or experiments in suchan incredibly short timeframe,” he said.
Hoffman added: “Very similar to a lot of the airborne sensors that are flown today, we’re talking about building a layer in LEO [and] enabling that for a lot of our customers. And the national security customers are no exception.” Having rapid access to low Earth orbit would “supplement and complement all that they have on orbit already and provide additional resiliency in the overall architecture,” he added. Construction continues at Rocket Lab’s new launch complex at Wallops Bay, Virginia, and the site is slated to come online later this year, Beck said. “We’re very excited to have that Eastern board capability here in the U.S.,” he said. (Source: Defense Daily)
09 Apr 19. Welcome to the Pentagon’s ‘Space Week.’ Will it define the department’s future in orbit? It starts with a speech by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. That’s followed up quickly by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, then Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. Later, throw in Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, incoming Space Command head Gen. Jay Raymond and a group of international air chiefs.
And that’s just on Tuesday.
Welcome to what top Shanahan staff have internally dubbed “Space Week,” a three-day stretch where Pentagon officials will lay out their competing views for the future of the department’s space architecture, as Congress launches its own debate about whether those plans should be adopted and how.
It starts with two days of speeches at the annual Space Symposium and culminates on Thursday. Shanahan, Wilson, U.S. Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten and Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs, will appear on an unusually stacked panel in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that day.
Despite all the action, a senior defense official, speaking ahead of the week’s events, tried to downplay the importance of the week to the Pentagon’s plans for the future, saying “not really” when asked if this is a make-or-break moment for the department’s push to create U.S. Space Command, a Space Force and the Space Development Agency.
But the official did acknowledge “this week is an opportunity to make our case to the American public, to the space community and to the Senate in particularly on Thursday.”
And Brian Weeden, a former Air Force officer and space expert with the Secure World Foundation, said this would be a “huge week for the administration’s national security space proposals,” although he points to Thursday’s hearing as the main event.
“I expect them to make a strong PR push for everything at the symposium, but the real test will be convincing Congress,” Weeden said. “So far, the DoD has not been able to answer why they need both Space Force and [U.S. Space Command], and how that solution will fix the current problems with [Air Force Space Command] to Congress’ satisfaction.”
In many ways, Shanahan’s presence at the Space Symposium is symbolic of how quickly space has become a major priority for the Pentagon.
The show was, for years, fairly sleepy from a defense standpoint. Major contractors would attend, as would those Air Force and government officials who directly deal with space. But the level of officials at the conference this year — both from the U.S. and abroad, with a special conference of global air chiefs hosted by Goldfein to discuss space issues — is unprecedented.
The timing of the Senate hearing, just after many of the key officials dealing with space will make speeches at the symposium, means the proponents of the Pentagon’s plan will have a chance to hone their public remarks before facing lawmakers.
The senior Pentagon official described the Defense Department’s thinking as a case of wanting to get ahead of a problem, rather than dealing with it later.
“We can wait, but then we’ll probably be doing something like this in a couple years once there’s something significant, a significant event that forces us to do it,” the official said. “We’d rather lean forward, be prepared, organize for the future rather than organize for the past. We think this is a way to get after it.”
Shanahan will have to pitch the trio of agencies to a potentially skeptical Congress, where members seem to have largely embraced the idea of Space Command but remain divided on whether the Space Development Agency or the Space Force are necessary, and if or when they should come into existence.
“It’s going to be different from what the White House proposed,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said last month. “Three more four-star generals are not going to make us stronger in space.”
The senior Pentagon official said to expect three key messages from Shanahan. First, “that the status quo is not working, or will not keep us ahead of the threat” going forward, hence the need for the new architecture. Second, that “space is now a physical domain that we need to protect and defend,” and that other physical spaces — sea, air and land — have their own military branches, so a Space Force is the logical next step.
And finally, that while the impetus for a stand-alone Space Force has come from President Donald Trump, the push for a new space organization actually came from congressional marching orders two years ago, and the Pentagon is just following through.
“One of the things that we want to tee up is this whole organizational review … that Congress actually teed up,” the official said. “A large part of why we’re having this conversation is Congress” — and hence, Congress should support it in some bipartisan fashion, the official added.
That strategy appears to line up with comments from Rep. Jim Cooper, the Tennessee Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services’ Strategic Forces Subcommittee, who recently told Defense News that Trump “obviously hijacked our proposal and exaggerated it. Now it’s returning back to the centrist proposal that it always was.”
“I’m hopeful that the president did not hopelessly politicize the issue when the Republican campaign committee announced a competition for the best space patch. I thought that was a terrible development,” Cooper said. “Hopefully Trump’s involvement, especially now that the actual proposal is much more like our original proposal, hopefully that will de-politicize it.”
Potential fault lines
Shanahan’s pitch was visible in the kickoff event of Space Week, the acting secretary’s speech on Tuesday morning at Space Symposium.
“We realized that although we have the talent we need and the technology at our fingertips, the department does not currently have the organizational and leadership structure necessary to move fast, leverage new technology and defend our space interests,” Shanahan said.
“Rather than watch the world evolve around us, we are seizing the strategic initiative. We went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan. This plan will impose costs on our would-be adversaries and deny them any perceived benefits — to paraphrase President Reagan, peace in space requires strength in space.”
In another sector of the speech, he said: “Our military is structured around physical domains: Navy on sea, Army on land and Air Force on air. Given the changes in the environment, we now need a military service dedicated to protecting and defending space — the Space Force.”
For those who follow Pentagon intrigues, the back-to-back speeches of Shanahan and Wilson provided a preview of fault lines for the SASC hearing. The two have clashed over the formation of the Space Force and the Space Development Agency over the last eight months; and with Wilson officially announcing plans to leave the Pentagon in May, some wondered if her comments would entirely line up with Shanahan’s.
While not directly countering anything Shanahan said, Wilson used her speech to hype the work of the service’s Space and Missile Systems Center, whose future is somewhat uncertain under the Pentagon’s tripartite space plan. She also warned against centralizing control over acquisition, noting that acquisition reform is something on which she has focused during her time in the service.
“It’s a lot harder to do it than talk about it,” Wilson said to applause. “The Air Force is doing it.”
Wilson also talked up the Space Force — which will at least for now live under the Air Force — and Space Command, without mentioning the Space Development Agency.
However, she did say an Air Force study has found that “increasing the numbers of satellites helps, but numbers alone are not enough,” in what may have been a swipe at the SDA’s plan for a major constellation in low-Earth orbit. Later, again without naming the SDA, Wilson described a plan similar to the SDA’s and said it would “result in failure on America’s worst day if we rely upon” that plan alone.
“The analysis shows that clearly,” she said.
Should members of Congress target on that potential split, Thursday’s hearing could become a can’t-miss event for Pentagon watchers. (Source: Defense News)
08 Apr 19. The chicken-and-egg debate about new threats in space. The final frontier is contested space. Nations across the globe are at work developing tools and techniques to survive a conflict in the heavens, should it occur. With the United States appearing to move toward a more formal Space Force and in light of new anti-satellite missile demonstrations, it’s worth examining where, exactly, other nations stand in terms of counter-space capabilities.
The 2019 edition of the Secure World Foundation Global Counterspace report builds on the 2018 version, and could hardly be more timely. On March 27, India announced it had successfully demonstrated an anti-satellite missile, by destroying one of its own low-orbiting satellites. In the United States, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan used the test as an opportunity to emphasize the nature of space as a contested domain.
But what are the current dynamics of contesting the heavens?
Disturbances in orbital posture predate Space Force
“The big changes to Chinese doctrine and space organization happened a few years ago when they created their Strategic Support Force,” said Brian Weeden, Director of Policy Programming at the Secure World Foundation and co-editor of the report. “This is a new military organization that combines space, electronic warfare, and cyber capabilities. And I think it’s important to highlight that, unlike the U.S., China is not viewing it in a domain-centric way.”
Rather than treating space as a stand-alone domain, Weeden said China’s Strategic Support Force is “focused on how space, electronic warfare, and cyber can be used together for military effects instead of focusing on space as a domain by itself.”
The impetus behind this change is terrestrial at heart. Given that the change occurred years ago, it’s likely a response to how the United States relied on space assets during the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This focus on space in response to U.S. activity is hardly a response unique to China.
“The Russian activities are part of a years-long effort that predates the U.S. announcement of a Space Force,” says Victoria Samson, Washington office director of the Secure World Foundation and co-editor of the report. “What I think we’re seeing is an increased willingness to speak more openly in unclassified media about the Russian counterspace capabilities, and this is probably partially (but not entirely) shaped by U.S. statements about space being a warfighting domain.”
Missiles still matter
A missile launch is a clarifying event. The most revealing part of India’s anti-satellite launch is that it shows off the country’s ability to track and target satellites, which was unclear before the launch.
“For years, Indian officials have been pointing to their ICBM and missile defense interceptors as their potential ASAT weapons, but hadn’t demonstrated that they could actually track and target a satellite,” Samson said.
For context, India’s interception took place at a similar place in orbit as the United States’ Burnt Frost interception in 2008, and was well below where China’s 2007 anti-satellite interception hit. One advantage of lower orbit interceptions is that most of the debris tends to get pulled down towards earth, but the angle of the interception might have worked against it and kicked some debris into higher orbits, where it will remain a hazard for some time.
To outline some legal and binding clarification for the threat missiles pose to objects in orbit, the United Nations Group of Government Experts has been negotiating in Geneva to come up with the rough shape of how a treaty on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) might work.
“They did not come to a consensus on this,” Samson said, “largely because of the disparity amongst members (which included the U.S., Russia, China, and India) as to whether legally-binding efforts are needed to ensure that space is safe and stable: the U.S. argues for normative behavior, while Russia, China, and India have long argued for a treaty-based approach.”
Between a deep stare and an explosion
Right in its executive summary, the report states that the “evidence shows significant research and development of a broad range of kinetic (i.e. destructive) and non-kinetic counterspace capabilities in multiple countries. However, only non-kinetic capabilities are actively being used in current military operations.”
One of the more novel systems is Russia’s Burevestnik, an anti-satellite platform deployed in orbit. Precious little about the Burevestnik is available in the open source, other than the existence of the program itself.
What researcher do know indicates some role for the Burevestnik in rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO), a sort of orbital positioning tool where one satellite demonstrates its ability to interfere with another satellite. Besides Russia, China and the United States have demonstrated RPO techniques and capabilities. Because these use assets already in space, they’re unlikely to be covered by any rule-making that focuses narrowly on surface-to-orbit means of attack.
There is also the not-insignificant matter of lasers, or more formally, directed energy weapons. The 2019 report includes sections on directed energy weapons and research for China and the United States.
“We’d refrained from including those in the previous year because there just wasn’t much data,” said Weeden, “There’s still not a lot of data, but enough to include it in the report.”
Continuity, not collapse
Space has been a contested domain of military importance since humans first put objects into orbit. While formal moves towards a dedicated U.S. military apparatus focused on orbit grab attention and conjure images of Starfleet, the reality is that changes into how the heavens are managed build on trends that predate anything as ephemeral as the present moment. Space Force is part of a milieu that exists because of prior trends in space militarization across the globe.
“In terms of what’s happening in the world, I think it’s not so much any one big change but rather that the trends we identified in the previous report are continuing,” Weeden said. “There’s strong evidence that the U.S., Russia, and China are all developing counterspace technologies and putting in place the policies and doctrines to use them in future conflicts.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Apr 19. It’s time for military SATCOM to adapt. Imagine you’re a soldier deployed to a forward area, reliant on your SATCOM terminal for mission-critical communications. Now, imagine you’re redeployed to a new region where satellite capacity has not yet been contracted. Military leaders and war fighters report that additional transponded SATCOM capacity can take weeks or even months to resolve. In short order, that warzone becomes an isolated zone, and you are cut off from mission command.
Building and deploying a flexible, enterprisewide military SATCOM architecture must be made a national security priority. The Department of Defense has already implemented this model for wireline and wireless networks, and SATCOM must come next in order to deliver real-time global situational awareness to any war fighter, any time, any place.
To enable this much-needed military enterprise SATCOM architecture, government and commercial sectors must work together to fulfill the DoD’s enterprise management and control (EM&C) vision while also promoting SATCOM system interoperability.
Unfortunately, closed SATCOM systems are competitively designed not to operate with other systems. This outdated model stifles capabilities and innovation — and, most significantly, it jeopardizes missions with single-threaded network connectivity. Both military and commercial SATCOM providers must function under a common management and control architecture standard to better equip and inform the war fighter. This is where EM&C is critical.
EM&C would enable the continued use of proprietary implementations, allowing the DoD to upgrade elements of a communications system, such as the modem or antenna, without having to replace entire systems, losing time and money in that process.
The effort to create a military enterprise network has launched just as DoD leadership is actively looking to expand the role of space in national security matters. Last year, the Joint Chiefs of Staff published a Space Operations document, which states “The United States considers unfettered access and freedom to operate in space to be a vital interest.” This paper and the U.S. Air Force’s latest work on SATCOM networks all support the need to sustain space access for the collective security of the United States and its allies. The National Security Strategy also recognizes that “collective action is needed to assure access to the shared spaces [such as] space — where the dangerous behaviors of some threaten us all.”
To maintain superiority in an increasingly competitive global military landscape, leaders and their teams must be able to rely on resilient, uninterrupted communications from any location at any time. Incorporating innovative commercial technologies will help meet the rising resiliency requirements for future military SATCOM networks. Military network terminals need to access a mix of frequency bands (Ku, Ka, X), satellite architectures (GEO, MEO, and LEO), and even terrestrial wireline and wireless communications. This is to create one global, enterprise network that lends the DoD increased capacity, flexibility and resiliency with mission-critical interoperability at the network level.
For this global enterprise network to function, however, system interoperability is vital. Consider how cellular and IP networks comprise various, compatible systems and transport technologies: you don’t need to use a mobile phone supplied by your cellular service provider in order to connect. Today’s commercial networks are also harnessing the strength of this interoperable approach. Just as the industry works together to benefit commercial and consumer networks, national security and military networks must also benefit from architectures that can transport agnostic, multi-path networks. To further military SATCOM interoperability, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center sponsored the series of COMSATCOM Pilot and Pathfinder programs. The first two pilots successfully demonstrated how a software-based network management concept can improve military communications by leveraging standard interfaces, such as modem-to-antenna and modem-to-network. Using an open standards approach, this network technology supports the DoD’s EM&C vision by leveraging new innovations, increasing competition and ultimately delivering substantial cost savings when compared to today’s operation of “stove-piped” networks.
Communications technology has changed drastically in just the last decade. Uninterrupted communications and situational awareness have become central to military operations in today’s contested environments. A significant percentage of situational awareness and intelligence depends on air and space-based collections, especially in contested areas where local ground assets cannot easily transmit or receive data. Space-based platforms complement ground, maritime and airborne intelligence sources by providing decision makers with timely, accurate information that can create a decisive advantage across all phases of potential conflicts. The military must maximize the opportunity of combining commercial network technology and SATCOM system interoperability to achieve the EM&C vision and to keep the mobile war fighter connected, wherever the mission goes. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Apr 19. Harris Corp. [HRS] has received $84m to produce an experimental satellite dubbed Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) that will demonstrate new position, navigation and timing capabilities that could improve the resiliency of the GPS constellation, the company said April 8. The contract was awarded in December 2018 by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the program seeks to leverage Harris’ longtime experience in developing GPS signals and support to see how a small, rapidly launched satellite can augment the capabilities and resiliency of the GPS constellation and assist with coverage in contested environments.
Harris will design, develop, integrate and test NTS-3, which will simultaneously broadcast military and earth coverage signals at increased power levels, enabling it to operate in contested environments. It is currently scheduled to launch in 2022. The company will leverage over 40 years of GPS and space antenna experience to support NTS-3. It has been developing and sending PNT signals for the U.S. military since the mid-1970s, when the initial NTS program run by the Navy provided the precursor to GPS, said Chris Forseth, vice president and general manager for Harris’ space superiority business in an April 3 interview with Defense Daily. Harris has provided navigation technology for every U.S. GPS satellite ever launched, he noted. The goal of NTS-3 is to augment the resiliency and capabilities of the current GPS constellation, Forseth said. The company is using phased array antenna technology for the first time in this area and plans to use next-generation capabilities to create stronger coverage for GPS and “put more waveforms in space,” he added. The program “is really is trying to drive innovation and experimentation,” he said. “This is something that gets launched; it has focus all the way up to [Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond], that allows us to provide additional resiliency into the global position system and augment” the next-generation GPS III follow-on program. The time keeping system will use a variety of timing sources intended to improve mission stability, anomaly detection and correction, and its design will enable Harris to rapidly develop and deploy new waveforms to reprogram and update the satellite throughout its lifecycle, the company said in a Monday press release. The Defense Department partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory as well as the Air
Force’s GPS program office on this effort, Forseth said. It is a prime example of what the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base is trying to leverage with its SMC 2.0 effort, he noted: “How do you take programs of record and keep the innovation pipeline open?” The contract was awarded using Other Transaction Authorities, and timeline from Harris presenting its first white paper to contract award was around six months, he said. The Space Enterprise Consortium (SPeC) assisted with the contract programmatics, but it was awarded by AFRL and AFSMC in December 2018 under a full and open competition, Forseth said. SPeC is a group of small and large organizations representing traditional and non-traditional defense contractors initiated by AFSMC to assist with research, development, (Source: Defense Daily)
08 Apr 19. A key element of the revolutionary SABRE™ air-breathing rocket engine successfully passes the first phase of high-temperature testing. Precooler technology will enable a wide variety of high-speed flight and advanced propulsion systems. Reaction Engines’ precooler heat exchanger successfully achieved all test objectives in the first phase of high-temperature testing designed to directly replicate supersonic flight conditions and future tests are planned at even higher temperatures. The precooler is a key element of Reaction Engines’ revolutionary SABRE engine and is a potential enabling technology for advanced propulsion systems and other commercial applications. The ground-based tests saw Reaction Engines’ unique precooler successfully quench the 420°C (~788°F) intake airflow in less than 1/20th of a second.
The intake temperature replicates thermal conditions corresponding to Mach 3.3 flight, or over three times the speed of sound. Mach 3.3 matches the speed record of the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft, the world’s fastest jet-engine powered aircraft produced to date and is over 50% faster than the cruising speed of Concorde. In the recent tests, the compact precooler achieved all test objectives and achieved 1.5 MW of heat transfer, the equivalent to the energy demand of 1,000 homes; successfully cooling incoming air from a temperature at which hot steel starts to glow. The tests are the first phase in an extensive test programme which will see the precooler test article (HTX) exposed to high-temperature airflow conditions in excess of the 1,000°C (~1800°F) expected during Mach 5 hypersonic flight.
The significant testing milestone occurred at Reaction Engines’ recently commissioned TF2 test facility located at the Colorado Air and Space Port, US. The TF2 test facility has been constructed by Reaction Engines to undertake ground based ‘hot’ testing of its precooler technology. The technology has already passed an extensive range of tests in the UK where its performance was fully validated at ambient air temperatures.
Commenting, Mark Thomas, Chief Executive, Reaction Engines, said, “This is a hugely significant milestone which has seen Reaction Engines’ proprietary precooler technology achieve unparalleled heat transfer performance. The HTX test article met all test objectives and the successful initial tests highlight how our precooler delivers world-leading heat transfer capabilities at low weight and compact size. This provides an important validation of our heat exchanger and thermal management technology portfolio which has application across emerging areas such as very high-speed flight, hybrid electric aviation and integrated vehicle thermal management.”
To replicate the conditions the precooler will experience at hypersonic speeds, the TF2 test facility uses a General Electric J79 turbojet engine formerly used in a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom aircraft to provide high-temperature airflow. Engineers at Reaction Engines’ Culham headquarters constructed the HTX precooler test article and after initial testing it was shipped to Colorado at the end of 2018, and ‘hot’ tests commenced in early March 2019.
In addition to the hot precooler tests being conducted in the US, Reaction Engines is in the final stage of constructing its TF1 test facility at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, UK, where it will undertake ground-based testing of a SABRE engine core. Over the last four years Reaction Engines has raised over £100m from public and private sources and has secured investment from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing HorizonX.
04 Apr 19. SES’s O3b MEO Satellites Successfully in Orbit. The tune of 20 high-performance satellites built by Thales Alenia Space for SES to deliver more communications services across the world The four latest satellites in the O3b constellation built by Thales Alenia Space, JV between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%, as prime contractor for SES were successfully launched today from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana (South America) by a Soyuz rocket operated by Arianespace.
With the launch of these four latest satellites Thales Alenia Space is supporting SES to scale its current MEO constellation to 20, which started in June 2013 with 4 satellites. Thanks to these high-performance satellites, SES Networks, the data business unit of SES, offers communications services to telecommunications, maritime, aeronautical, and energy markets, as well as governments and institutions across the world.
O3b satellites are positioned at an altitude of 8,000 km along the equator and are four times closer to the Earth than satellites in geostationary orbit. Operating in the Ka-band, they offer telecommunications and Internet connectivity services at a fiber-like speed across the globe.
“Thales Alenia Space is very proud of this successful last launch – said Jean-Loïc Galle CEO Thales Alenia Space – By building O3b constellation we are helping our customer SES grow their market and improve communications services across the world . Thanks to our unrivaled expertise we are ready to offer new telecom solutions that provide even higher performance, with more integrated and digital systems.”
Thales Alenia Space’s global leadership in the constellation market . As prime contractor for a total of 125 satellites in three constellations, Globalstar 2 (24), O3b (20) and Iridium® NEXT (81), Thales Alenia Space is clearly the benchmark partner in the development and deployment of low and medium orbit telecom satellite constellations. (Source: ASD Network)
08 Apr 19. Kleos’ Scouting Mission satellites enter testing phase. Kleos Space has confirmed that its Scouting Mission satellites have entered the testing phase in preparation for final acceptance after successfully passing the test readiness review. The review was conducted by GomSpace, the company building Kleos’ satellites, and involved the critical assessing of the following components:
- Interface control documentation;
- Radio frequency (RF) subsystems;
- Verification planning;
- Acceptance test plans and criteria;
- RF test procedures, downlink test plans;
- Geolocation payload verification;
- End-to-end test procedures; and
- Hardware availability.
The successful review confirmed that the hardware is “on track” for the initial Scouting Mission satellites to be launched on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand by the end of the second quarter of 2019.
The satellites will be integrated into Rocket Lab’s bespoke Maxwell dispensers for low orbit deployment following a final acceptance review, due by May.
“Kleos continues to achieve important milestones on schedule and in line with our plans. GomSpace’s nanosatellite expertise has met and exceeded our expectations. We are focused on completing the final acceptance of the satellites on schedule,” said Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space.
“Kleos will be on the path to commercialisation with the launch of our Scouting Mission satellites, generating revenue following the successful collection of data. Our Scouting Mission satellites will provide daily intelligence geolocation data-as-a-service (DaaS) while our larger constellation will provide near-real time updates.”
The Scouting Mission system involves multi-satellites and will “form the foundation 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”.
The independent, activity-based intelligence, geolocation DaaS will enable governments to detect and locate activity such as drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy, and identify those needing search and rescue at sea. (Source: Space Connect)
08 Apr 19. NZ space launch industry blasts off with USAF small test satellites. As Australia’s space industry moves towards a launch capability, New Zealand is regularly blasting off into space, with the latest a deal with the US Air Force for a series of launches later this year. The US Air Force has entered a contract with Rocket Lab, a private US space company that operates the launch facility on the tip of the Mahia Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island.
Rocket Lab conducted its first launch in May 2017 and has made a number of successful launches, most recently for US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
That launch into low-Earth orbit late last month aimed to space-qualify a new type of deployable reflective antenna array for future use on small communications and other satellites. That was the Northrop Grumman R3D2 – Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration.
The company said it was selected for this launch because of its proven track record and ability to support rapid acquisition of small satellite launch capabilities. The DARPA R3D2 mission was launched just over 18 months from conception, a very significant reduction in traditional government acquisition time frames.
Rocket Lab said the nexst mission for its Electron rocket was scheduled for late April and would launch three small technology demonstration satellites for the US Air Force.
The three satellites mass a total 180 kilograms, the heaviest payload so far aboard the company’s Electron rocket.
This forms part of the USAF Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI), mandated by the US Congress to conduct commercial launches at far lower cost than traditional military launches. Congress allocated US$14.5m to the program in 2017, with US$5.7m to Rocket Lab for a dedicated launch.
“RALI demonstrates rapid procurement and the responsiveness of commercial launch, dedicated launch for small payloads to militarily-relevant orbits, on-demand responsiveness and increased operational tempo over legacy national launch architecture,” Lieutenant General David Thompson, Vice Commander of USAF Space Command told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
Rocket Lab plans to launch around one satellite per month and is turning out an Electron rocket every 30 days from its facilities in California and Auckland. The company is developing a second launch site in Virginia, which should be ready for its first mission by end of year.
In hosting an active commercial space launch facility, New Zealand is well ahead of Australia.
So when will Australia conduct the first launch by a private company?
Access to space – conducting its own launches – is a central pillar of the new Australian Space Strategy, which nominates a time frame of 2021 or beyond. It may happen sooner, with Gold Coast company Gilmour Space Technologies planning a test launch of its One Vision rocket this year and to go commercial in 2021. (Source: Space Connect)
05 Apr 19. Relativity Contracts with Telesat to Provide Launch Services for Telesat’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Constellation. Relativity Will Use Its Completely 3D Printed Terran 1 Rocket for Telesat LEO Launches. Relativity, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader, today announced a contract with Telesat, the renowned global satellite operator, that allows Relativity to play a role in Telesat’s innovative LEO satellite constellation. Telesat will now have access to faster, more frequent and more flexible launches at the lowest cost using Relativity’s Terran 1, the world’s first fully 3D printed rocket designed and built using Relativity’s groundbreaking proprietary 3D printing technology platform.
This is the first time Telesat, or any major global satellite operator, has selected a completely venture-backed aerospace startup for launch services. This contract further solidifies Relativity’s leadership in the emerging NewSpace launch services market. With its reinvention of the rocket-building process, Relativity is positioned to become a valued launch partner for Telesat’s LEO program.
Traditional aerospace manufacturing relies on fixed tooling, a complex supply chain, and extensive human labor. Traditional rockets are comprised of more than 100,000 parts, resulting in expensive, complex rockets that take 18 months or more to build and launch. Relativity is building the first and only aerospace platform to integrate machine learning, software, and robotics with metal 3D printing technology to optimize every aspect of the rocket manufacturing process, disrupting 60 years of aerospace technology. The company’s Terran 1 rocket is built from raw material to launch-ready in less than 60 days, and has 100 times fewer parts than traditional rockets. Terran 1’s unique architecture can be rapidly changed and scaled as satellite companies develop new capabilities.
“Telesat’s LEO constellation will transform global broadband connectivity with unprecedented performance and affordability and this agreement with Relativity provides Telesat with a number of advantages for achieving our objectives,” said Dave Wendling, Telesat’s Chief Technical Officer. “Early in our LEO program we decided that, in addition to working with outstanding leaders in satellite manufacturing and launch services who we know well, Telesat should also include NewSpace companies whose technologies and manufacturing methods offer lower costs and greater flexibility for deploying our constellation. Relativity is just such a company with their metal 3D printing, use of robotics and other advances. Telesat continues to establish a world-class supplier team to construct, deploy and operate our global LEO network and we are very pleased to welcome Relativity to the Telesat LEO program.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Telesat, a renowned industry leader, and support launches for their innovative LEO constellation with our adaptable and completely 3D printed Terran 1 rocket,” said Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity. “Our disruptive, autonomous 3D printing platform ensures we can quickly scale support for Telesat’s constellation, while accelerating launch lead time and reducing launch costs per satellite. Relativity’s partnership with Telesat will better connect and secure our planet.”
Relativity is on track to conduct its first orbital test launch at the end of 2020, and continues to grow a customer manifest of leading global satellite operators, commercial companies, and government payloads. The company recently became the first venture-backed company to secure a launch site Right of Entry at Cape Canaveral LC-16 from the U.S. Air Force, adding to its portfolio of major government partnerships including a 20-year exclusive-use CSLA agreement at the NASA Stennis Space Center E4 test complex, and membership on the National Space Council advising The White House. The company is expanding its infrastructure this year with a fourfold expansion to over 350,000 square feet of operations, production, testing, and launch facilities, including securing a polar orbit capable launch site. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
04 Apr 19. Ensuring NASA’s Space Launch System Has the Propulsion It Needs.
- All 16 RS-25 engines slated for the first four SLS missions have successfully demonstrated flight worthiness.
- All flight controllers for NASA’s first four SLS flights have successfully completed testing.
- The new RS-25 engine controller, which regulates and monitors engine thrust levels, health and performance, has 20 times the processing capability of the shuttle-era controller.
With today’s successful 500-second hot-fire test of Engine 2062 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed acceptance testing of all 16 RS-25 engines and flight controllers needed to support the first four flights of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The final flight controller was tested on Engine 2062, which is slated to fly on the second mission of SLS, the first crewed mission.
At the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program, 14 of 16 engines in the SLS inventory had previously flown; two new engines were built from spare components. Last year, Aerojet Rocketdyne hot-fired one of the two remaining engines (Engine 2063) that had never flown and, with today’s test of Engine 2062, all 16 engines have completed acceptance testing.
“Generating 512,000 pounds of thrust, the RS-25 engine is a modern marvel, making it the ideal engine to power the SLS,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “We’ve made a major technological leap with modern, upgraded flight controllers; the new controller has 20 times the processing capability of the shuttle-era controller and weighs 50 pounds less.”
The flight controller is a key component of the RS-25 engine; it serves as the brain of the engine and enables communication between the rocket and the engine, relaying commands and transmitting performance data. Additionally, the controller regulates thrust and fuel mixture ratio while monitoring the engine’s overall health and status.
All four of the RS-25 engines slated for Exploration Mission-1 are complete and ready for integration into the core stage, as is the RL10 engine used on the rocket’s upper stage. The four RS-25 engines for Exploration Mission-2 are scheduled to be complete in September of this year.
“The excitement is building for the debut flight of SLS,” added Drake. “With today’s test, we are ensuring NASA’s new SLS rocket has the propulsion it needs for future flights carrying humans and cargo to multiple deep space destinations.” (Source: ASD Network)
06 Apr 19. Are reprogrammable satellites ready for prime time? A new generation of satellites is coming to the launch pad, and they are promising a tectonic shift in satellite operations. Where satellites once were tailored to a single mission and effectively locked into their role upon launch, several manufacturers are moving to embrace this vision of a satellite with functions that can be reprogrammed, a spacecraft that can take new applications on board in order to expand its range of performance.
Today’s best satellites “are durable, they are capable … but honestly they don’t evolve much once they are launched,” said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of mission solutions at Lockheed Martin Space. Emerging software-defined satellites, or smart sats, will literally be programmable on the fly. “The satellites are going to be able to adapt.”
That kind of flexibility helps to define the promise of the emerging smart sat approach.
‘Smarter than ever’
Lockheed Martin undertook a multi-year, self-funded effort to develop its soon-to-launch smart sat capability. The new technology will interface with all of the company’s satellite busses and ground systems, and it will be programmable, company officials said.
“It adapts on the fly so we can evolve technology and missions as our customer needs evolve,” said Sonia Phares, vice president of systems, software, cyber, and operations at Lockheed Martin. “We can integrate onboard artificial intelligence and machine learning, making our satellites smarter than ever.”
Also underway, Boeing said it will design and build seven super-powered medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites for SES. The O3b empower satellites will carry digital payload technology, giving them a greater range of flexibility, according to Boeing documents. SES describes power as not just a satellite system but rather “an end-to-end managed data services ecosystem.”
And Eurtelsay makes similar claims for its Quantum satellite. Coverage, power, frequency and bandwidth: “Each of these features can be reconfigured in-orbit throughout the satellite’s lifetime,” the company noted.
Lockheed Martin officials said they have multiple launches planned later this year for unspecified commercial and military customers. “We have production level code that is on a satellite right now,” Phares said.
Because ground controllers will be able to update the smart sat’s security system in response to emerging threats, end users should see a more robust cyber-defense posture, Phares said.
The ability to adjust a satellite’s performance parameters could also make it easier to handle big data-processing loads more effectively. Say, for instance, engineers develop an app that will allow for on-board processing of data that formerly had to be sent down to Earth-based analysts. An end user could substantially reduce the bandwidth demand, by sending down only data that requires analyst expertise.
Reduce, reuse …
With software as the basis for a satellite’s operations, it may be possible to leverage space hardware more effectively.
“Say you had a communications satellite delivering coverage of western Europe, but a couple of years after it launches, the demand in eastern Europe grows substantially,” Demaree said. Rather that deploy another satellite to close the gap, it might be possible to reconfigure the existing asset to cover the changed mission requirement.
Or suppose a weather satellite stops functioning. With smart sats, the end user could pick up the flow of needed data by reprogramming other satellites. It’s already possible to pull such data from multiple sources, “but today you’d have to stitch that data together on the ground,” said Demaree. Rather than take that expensive and time-consuming route, a smart sat might allow the user to redirect other assets to cover the weather mission.
There are limits to this approach. Software may enable a satellite to make new or better use of its existing hardware, but the satellite still will be constrained by the sensors that it has on board.
“You are not going to turn an imaging satellite into some other kind of satellite. It will have the payload that it has, but you can optimize that,” Phares said. Existing sensors can be made more efficient, or repurposed for alternate uses beyond what was originally envisioned.
A number of technology trends have come together to make smart sats possible, including the advent of the hypervisor and the rise of multi-core processing. Lockheed Martin has leveraged these via an open-standards approach so that the software-driven methodology can be applied across a range of hardware platforms and ground control capabilities.
The net result should be a satellite architecture that is more nimble and more readily adaptable to changing missions.
“The way the flight software and the payload software today are coded, it is very mission specific. When we do an upload it’s just to fix an issue,” Phares said. With smart sats, by comparison, “we can constantly update the capabilities of the satellite, as opposed to just fixing.” (Source: Defense News)
06 Apr 19. What does Britain have in the works for its upcoming space strategy? For months, analysts and industry have been waiting on the release of a new space strategy for the United Kingdom, one that would lay out steps forward for the U.K.’s future in the increasingly important war-fighting domain. But the report has yet to materialize, even after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson pledged it would be out before the end of 2018.
So when might the document roll out?
According to Gen. Gordon Messenger, the U.K.’s vice chief of the Defence Staff, the government expects to release an interim report in the spring/summer time frame, with the final report coming later in the year, following the government’s conclusion of the comprehensive spending review, which will set London’s budget for several years.
As to why the document was delayed: “The reason is because we want it to have some substance,” Messenger told Defense News during a recent visit to Washington.
“We just wanted to signpost a little bit more substance to industry and to our partners on where we sit in terms of space capability. And [so we paused] just to reflect a little when we were at risk of producing a very broad policy statement rather than something that might have a little bit more substance to it.”
“I’m guilty of delaying it, and I think it would be difficult for us to push out anything of substance before the spending review now, to be honest,” he added, opining that industry should feel more confident the document will have money attached, as it will be released after the spending review.
During the interview, Messenger outlined a few priorities for that document: first, the development of a geostationary orbit for communications to bolster the U.K.’s Skynet constellation; and second, a replacement for the capability gap that now exists after the European Union pushed Britain out of the Galileo program.
“We are examining a number of options, not all of them space-based, to look at the gap that Galileo was designed to deliver, now that we are almost certainly no longer in the Galileo program,” he said. “That’s quite a complex debate, but certainly has a space dimension to it.”
Finally, he noted that the U.K. is looking at the “merits” of a low-Earth orbit constellation for a “variety of potential uses.” That is notable, as the U.S. Defense Department is prioritizing the creation and launch of a low-Earth orbit constellation. Given close ties between the U.S. and the U.K. on defense matters, including intelligence sharing and strategic weapons, it is possible the two could find common ground on such a system. Messenger confirmed he talked about that program while meeting with Pentagon research head Mike Griffin, the driving force behind that constellation. (Source: Defense News)
01 Apr 19. Contract Signed Between Swedish Space Corporation and Airbus for Pléiades Neo Constellation Support. Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and Airbus have signed a contract for SSC ground segment support services to the new Pléiades Neo constellation of very high resolution Earth Observation satellites — this contract marks an important step in the long-term partnership between SSC and Airbus and extends the capabilities of both companies. The first two very high resolution Pléiades Neo satellites will be launched in mid-2020, followed by a second pair in 2022. They will join the existing Airbus constellation of optical and radar satellites, and will offer enhanced performance, and the highest reactivity in the market.
SSC will provide comprehensive ground segment support for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP), as well as routine on-orbit support for Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TT&C) and data reception. The core SSC ground network for Pléiades Neo will consist of the unique dual polar ground station solution of Kiruna, Sweden and Inuvik, Canada – often referred to as “Kinuvik” as it is operated as a virtual single polar station. The partnership also includes an option to provide potentially higher data volumes at a later stage, using the southern hemisphere station of Punta Arenas, Chile.
The optimized and highly resilient SSC ground network provides effective tasking and downloading of large data volumes more than once every orbit, enabling rapid delivery of Pléiades Neo data from anywhere on Earth.
The ground network has been designed by SSC and Airbus to complement Airbus’ Direct Receiving Stations (DRS) as well as the Airbus SpaceDataHighway relay satellite system, while being flexible to adapt to changing seasonal needs and to give critical network diversity.
François Lombard, Head of Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space, said the Pléiades Neo constellation will be adding two million km² per day at 30cm resolution to Airbus’ imagery offering. As tasking and downloading will be possible in every orbit, up to 60 times a day for the constellation, the company needs to rely on very efficient commercial polar communication services.
Stefan Gardefjord, CEO at SSC, added that Pléiades Neo is a cutting edge, very high resolution, Earth Observation constellation and this contract represents a huge milestone in the close cooperation between Airbus and SSC. (Source: Satnews)
02 Apr 19. China Building ASAT Capabilities via Laser Tracking Technologies — Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon. Bill Gertz, the senior editor at the Washington Free Beacon, has posted a most interesting report at the aforementioned infosite that commercial satellite images have provided the first photographs of a secret Chinese anti-satellite laser base in western Xinjiang province, along with other high-technology weapons facilities. The laser facility is located near a lake and is about 145 miles south of the Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The facility was discovered by retired Indian Army Col. Vinayak Bhat, a satellite imagery analyst who specializes on China.
China is using its satellite tracking stations located throughout the country as a means of identifying and targeting satellites.
“Once the accurate satellite path and other data is known, directed energy weapons located at five different places can take over the task,” Bhat said.
The Xinjiang base is one of those laser bases that include four main buildings with sliding roofs that Bhat assesses contain high-powered chemical lasers powered by neodymium. Bhat estimates that the smaller shed with the sliding roof is a laser tracker. Taken together, the Chinese can fire one to three of the lasers against an orbiting satellite that China is seeking to disrupt. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) stated in a report made public in February that China is set to deploy a ground based laser cannon next year. (Source: Satnews)
01 Apr 19. RADARSAT-1 Satellite Imagery Now Available to the Public, Courtesy of the Canadian Government. The Canadian Space Agency and the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation are making RADARSAT-1 synthetic aperture radar images of Earth available to researchers, industry and the public at no cost — the 36,500 images are available through the Government of Canada’s Earth Observation Data Management System. The RADARSAT-1 dataset is valuable for testing and developing techniques to reveal patterns, trends and associations that researchers may have missed when RADARSAT-1 was in operation. Access to these images will allow Canadians to make comparisons over time, for example, of sea ice cover, forest growth or deforestation, seasonal changes and the effects of climate change, particularly in Canada’s North.
This image release initiative is part of Canada’s Open Government efforts to encourage novel Big Data Analytic and Data Mining activities by users. Canada’s new Space Strategy places priority on acquiring and using space-based data to support science excellence, innovation and economic growth.
- The RADARSAT Constellation Mission, scheduled for launch in May 2019, builds on the legacy of RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2, and on Canada’s expertise and leadership in Earth observation from space.
- RADARSAT-1 launched in November 1995. It operated for 17 years, well over its five-year life expectancy, during which it orbited Earth 90,828 times, traveling over 2 billion kilometres. It was Canada’s first Earth observation satellite.
- RADARSAT-1 images supported relief operations in 244 disaster events.
- RADARSAT-2 launched in December 2007 and is still operational today. This project represents a unique collaboration between government and industry. MDA, a Maxar company, owns and operates the satellite and ground segment. The Canadian Space Agency helped to fund the construction and launch of the satellite. It recovers this investment through the supply of
- RADARSAT-2 data to the Government of Canada during the lifetime of the mission.
- Users can download these images through the Earth Observation Data Management System of the Canada Centre
for Mapping and Earth Observation, a division of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). NRCan is responsible for the long-term archiving and distribution of the images as well as downlinking of satellite data at its ground stations.
The Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said that the Canadian government continually seeks to better understand the impact that humans are having on the environment. RADARSAT-1 has provided the agency with a comprehensive and valuable group of images of Canada from space and these images can now be shared openly with Canadians so that they can chart environmental changes in the country over time.
Mike Greenley, Group President of MDA, said the company is proud to support the Government of Canada in making this valuable data available to the public. The RADARSAT program has and continues to provide a historical record of changes on our planet since the launch of RADARSAT-1 in 1995. MDA continues to work on new approaches that wll extract valuable insights from this rich archive. (Source: Satnews)
01 Apr 19. Arianespace Preparing for Launch of Four SES O3b Satellites. Preparations for Arianespace’s upcoming Soyuz mission from French Guiana at the service of SES have marked a new milestone as the payload of four O3b satellites and their dispenser have been integrated on the medium-lift launcher’s Fregat upper stage. During activity in the Spaceport’s S3 payload integration building, the quartet of O3b satellites and their tube-shaped dispenser system were installed atop Fregat – which is to perform three propulsive burns before deploying the spacecraft into circular orbit during Soyuz’ mission duration of 2 hours, 23 minutes and 51 seconds. Scheduled for a midday liftoff on April 4, Soyuz will deliver a total payload lift performance of 3,198 kg.
Flight VS22 will be Arianespace’s fifth in supporting SES’ expansion of its satellite constellation. Operational since 2014, the O3b network delivers fiber-equivalent connectivity, and is part of SES’ vision of connecting people and empowering them with opportunities. The first 16 spacecraft for O3b were orbited by four Soyuz vehicles operating from French Guiana in 2013, 2014 and 2018. Each satellite – built by Thales Alenia Space – weighs about 700 kg. at launch and provides more than 10 Gbps of capacity.
By increasing the size of the constellation from 16 to 20 satellites, SES Networks will offer enhanced coverage while providing greater service availability and reliability – catering to the increasing demand for bandwidth in government and in the telecommunication, cloud, maritime and energy markets. Arianespace’s Flight VS22 will be its fourth mission of 2019 – and the second this year with a Soyuz launcher from the Spaceport. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.