Sponsored By Viasat
22 May 19. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, has been awarded a contract by the Administrator of the Space Enterprise Consortium, under the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles XVI program, to deliver and test the first-ever Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft. Leveraging the Company’s leadership in satellite innovation and military communications, the Viasat-designed spacecraft is intended to enhance warfighters’ situational awareness by extending the range of Link 16 networks – using a constellation of satellites to provide greater access to Link 16 capabilities in contested or congested environments.
Under the XVI program, Viasat will become the first company to prototype and test space-based Link 16 capabilities compatible with fielded U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Link 16-enabled platforms, including ground vehicles, aircraft, maritime vessels, and dismounted users. The XVI program is a key step towards making a global Link 16-enabled LEO satellite constellation, transforming Link16 from a Line-of-Sight (LOS) to a Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) network, providing U.S. and allied military forces with ubiquitous, secure, high-speed and resilient communications necessary to improve the common operating picture across the global battlespace.
“The XVI award highlights Viasat technology leadership in Link 16 and space-borne tactical communications,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Our innovative spacecraft design and development coupled with expertise in next-generation tactical datalinks and cybersecurity places Viasat in a unique position to address the Department of Defense’s urgent need for a fast-to-market, cost-effective, space-based Link 16 solution to maintain a technological edge in contested environments.”
Viasat’s Link 16-capable LEO satellite is designed to fit the Viasat Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) satellite communications (SATCOM) concept. The HAN architecture will allow users to operate across commercial and government SATCOM networks and multiple orbital regimes, creating an end-to-end multi-layered solution resilient to network congestion, intentional and unintentional interference and cyber threats – even in highly-contested environments. The Link 16-capable LEO satellite will allow Link 16 networks to leverage the resilient, global connectivity capabilities of the HAN and share information with other warfighters, anywhere in the world.
Today, Viasat offers an extensive portfolio of Link 16 terminal configurations and form factors. Link 16 communications networks provide the U.S. and international allies with greater situational awareness by exchanging digital data over a common data link that is continuously and automatically updated in real-time, reducing the chance of fratricide or duplicate assignments, while significantly enhancing mission effectiveness.
22 May 19. Raytheon rejects report that $6.2bn GPS project will be delayed further. A new report suggests a critical piece of the next-generation GPS system that has already been plagued by delays could be pushed back even further, a conclusion disputed by primary contractor Raytheon.
A May 21 Government Accountability Office report concludes that development of the GPS next-generation operational control system (OCX), a $6.2 billion program that is already five years behind schedule, will likely continue to see delays given the Air Force’s penchant for underestimating the amount of time necessary to develop it.
OCX is an essential piece of the ground system infrastructure that will allow the Air Force to fully command and control the next generation of GPS satellites and is part of the ongoing efforts to modernize GPS. Unlike the current system, OCX will provide a cybersecure ground system that can use M-code, a more robust, encrypted GPS signal used by the military, as well as newer civilian signals that can improve accuracy.
Raytheon, the primary contractor for OCX, pushed back against the GAO’s findings in a statement.
“The GAO assessment was never discussed with Raytheon, and their findings are inaccurate,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon’s intelligence, information and services business. “From what we can tell, the assessment was likely based upon partial and stale information. We’ve met all of our program milestones and, importantly, held both schedule and cost performance objectives since September 2017. We will deliver the full system by our June 2021 contractual deadline.”
The GAO noted in its report that it interviewed Raytheon officials during its audit, which stretched from November 2017 to May 2019.
OCX is already five years behind schedule and $2.5 billion more expensive than anticipated, according to the GAO. The program has seen its costs grow from an original estimate of $3.7 billion in 2012 to $6.2 billion, a 68 percent increase, triggering a Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach in 2016. A Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach requires a program to be shut down unless the Department of Defense intervenes and approves a new, reasonable cost estimate. In response to the breach, the Air Force updated their program schedule in September 2018 and now expect the program to be completed by April 2023.
In 2016, the Department of Defense concluded that the cost overruns were due to an unrealistic schedule, underestimating the cost of cybersecurity measures, a lack of software expertise in the government and poor systems engineering by Raytheon.
“Systems engineering work was part of issue, but it was a complex combination of factors that drove the cost increases,” said Bill Sullivan, vice president of the GPS OCX program in a statement provided to C4ISRNET. “The DoD report is from 2016. Working closely with the USAF, we have made tremendous strides in the last 3 years. Proof of that progress was clearly evident in the 2018 launch of the first GPS III satellite.”
But the GAO suspects that further delays are likely due to what they characterize as an optimistic program schedule with significant development remaining. The report notes that while the speed of software development has improved, most of the reserve time built into the new program schedule has already been eaten up by the roll out of a new development methodology.
The Air Force has acknowledged that delays are also possible during a seven-month testing period following delivery by Raytheon due to “concurrency, test plan uncertainty, and risks of late discovery of problems.”
The GAO suggests that some of those delays could be addressed by an independent assessment of the full OCX program schedule by the end of the year, a step they say is in line with best practices. The report notes, however, that the Department of Defense disagreed with their recommendations.
Even as OCX has floundered in development, GPS modernization has been moving ahead. In December 2018, the first GPS III satellite was launched into orbit. With OCX not expected to be available until 2022 at the earliest, the Air Force has worked to update the current command and control system so that it can control the GPS III satellites, albeit without their more advanced capabilities. The upgrades should allow the current system to use a more limited form of M-code called M-code Early Use.
Raytheon made clear in response to questions the company had no intention of making any adjustments in response to the GAO report.
“We are on a strong path toward full system delivery, and we have no plans to make any changes to program execution based on the GAO report,” Sullivan said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
23 May 19. Honeywell’s JetWave SATCOM system to support USAF’s C-17 fleet. Honeywell has secured a contract to provide high-speed connectivity for the US Air Force’s fleet of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The contract was awarded by the US Department of Defense (DoD) as part of the Fixed Installation Satellite Antenna programme. Booz Allen Hamilton is the primary contractor on the project. Honeywell will provide the JetWave satellite communications (SATCOM) system for 70 C-17 aircraft.
The JetWave system is designed to provide seamless and reliable Ka-band connectivity for militaries around the world.
It offers connectivity to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite network, which delivers Ka-band satellite coverage around the globe, including over water, on non-traditional flight paths and in remote areas.
Honeywell Aerospace Defense Americas vice-president Steven Williams said: “JetWave supports real-time situational awareness for the aircrew, soldiers on board, and ground-based command leadership, ultimately enabling better decision-making and enhancing safety.”
Users can benefit from a range of services, including real-time weather, video conferencing, large file transfer, encryption capabilities, in-flight briefings, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance video and secure communications.
Broadband-class connectivity will allow the C-17 aircraft to be linked with command elements and forces worldwide in transit. This feature will help improve situational awareness and provide the ability to assess and adjust to the battlefield environment.
Honeywell Aerospace Defense Connectivity senior director Steve Hadden said: “The system’s reliable connection allows the aircraft to transform into a mobile communication hub en route to the battlefield, even in high-traffic areas. “JetWave has the bandwidth to support multiple users communicating and sharing sensor data to ensure mission-critical information can be transmitted at every step of the mission.”
The C-17 is known for its airlift capability and used to deliver troops and cargo to bases in any environment.
The first batch of ten JetWave systems will be delivered next month. The entire programme will run until 2021.
In 2017, Honeywell was contracted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to provide a fuselage-mount antenna on a C-130J Hercules military transport aircraft.
Last month, the agreement was expanded to include JetWave on five additional Hercules aircraft.
22 May 19. The U.S. Air Force Space Fence system detected the breakup field from an anti-satellite test conducted by India during a scheduled endurance exercise of the new space surveillance radar. As MICROSAT-R was expected to pass through the un-cued surveillance fence, Space Fence automatically issued a “breakup alert” indicating there were multiple objects within close proximity. Space Fence observed a significant amount of debris tracks surrounding the time of the event crossing labeled as uncorrelated targets. Long-arc tracking was initiated within the orbital debris cloud to form accurate initial orbit determinations. With this information, the system was able to automatically predict and correlate the next crossing time.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) system operators then prepared for the next crossing by setting up an enhanced sensitivity task volume ahead of the normal un-cued surveillance fence to increase the low altitude track duration. Although the Space Fence is currently in its test phase and not yet operational, the Space Fence un-cued surveillance coverage showed its unique ability to observe these events unfolding at different altitudes in real time. Although the anti-satellite test was conducted at approximately 300 kilometers, the debris cloud extended beyond the original parent object orbit.
“Although the Space Fence system is still under test, it continues to demonstrate its advanced capabilities providing operationally-relevant information in all orbital regimes from Low Earth Orbit through Geosynchronous Earth Orbit,” said Dr. Rob Smith, vice president and general manager of Radar and Sensor Systems for Lockheed Martin. “The criticality of space assets to both national defense and the world economy cannot be understated. As multiple new mega constellations consisting of thousands of satellites become a reality and the space domain continues to become more congested, the demand for more accurate and timely space situational awareness data will be of the utmost importance to the warfighter.”
The Space Fence system continues to track objects from the anti-satellite event through the government-led testing phase which began in early April.
Colonel Stephen Purdy, Director of the Space Superiority Systems Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, who oversees the Space Fence program said, “Space Fence is already proving itself as a capable system even before becoming operational. The Indian test showcased Space Fence’s capabilities in a real-world event. The system was able to quickly respond to a highly dynamic situation providing critical data. Space Fence is the latest in a long line of capabilities we are collectively bringing to the warfighter as we continue to build out space capabilities for the United States.”
22 May 19. India launches radar-imaging satellite. The Indian Space Research Organisation. (ISRO) has launched a radar-imaging Earth-observation satellite capable of capturing and relaying high-resolution images to enhance the Indian military’s surveillance capabilities.
Officials said the locally developed and built, day-and-night, all-weather 615-kg Radar Imaging Satellite-2B (RISAT-2B) was launched on 22 May at 0530 h local time from the ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, southern India, aboard the indigenously designed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C46 (PSLV-C46).
According to the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB), the satellite was placed in a 556-km Sun-synchronous polar orbit about 15 minutes after PSLV-C46 was launched.
“After separation, solar arrays of RISAT-2B were deployed automatically and [the] ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network at Bangalore assumed control of the satellite,” the PIB stated, adding that RISAT-2B is expected to become fully operational in the “coming days”.
Fitted with an IEEE X-band (NATO I/J-band) synthetic aperture radar (SAR), RISAT-2B is stated to have a life span of five years and is capable of capturing high-resolution images despite dense cloud cover. It can also provide “detailed images of the size of objects on Earth, structures, movement, and any situational change on the ground”, military officials told Jane’s.
RISAT-2B is the third such satellite launched by the ISRO over the past decade, and will replace the Israeli-built X-band, SAR-equipped RISAT-2, and the locally designed RISAT-1 with its IEEE C-band (NATO G/H-band)-based SAR. These satellites were launched in 2009 and 2012, but have reached the end of their operational lives.
The data provided by the new satellite will complement high-resolution images supplied by the ISRO’s Cartosat series of Earth-observation satellites launched from 2005, but which tend to be ‘blinded’ by cloud cover. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 May 19. General Atomics prepares for first OTB satellite launch. General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems’ (GA-EMS) Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite has arrived at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, US. The spacecraft will now undergo launch preparations ahead of its scheduled launch as part of the US Air Force’s Space Technology Program 2 (STP-2) flight on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “The arrival of the OTB spacecraft at Cape Canaveral marks the start of final preparations and integration on board the Falcon Heavy in anticipation of the launch, bringing our hosted payload customers that much closer to executing their missions.
“This will be our first OTB satellite launch, and we are extremely excited to be delivering new technology demonstrations into orbit that will help drive future space exploration.”
OTB satellites have the capability to host multiple payloads on a single platform.
The payloads hosted by GA-EMS’s OTB include Nasa’s deep space atomic clock, a US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) modular solar array, and an integrated miniaturised electrostatic analyser sensor payload developed by cadets at the US Air Force Academy.
GA-EMS Missile Defense and Space Systems vice-president Nick Bucci said: “OTB’s modularity and versatility allow for the simultaneous launch of multiple demonstration payloads on a single satellite.
“This eliminates the need for customers to bear the costly burden of a dedicated platform and launch.”
The company noted that the simultaneous launch capability offered by the OTB hosted payload platform will help increase the number of flight opportunities while allowing customers to access space in a cost-effective way. GA-EMS is also under contract to provide hosted services on two additional OTB satellites that are planned to be launched in 2021 and 2022.
In January this year, the firm received a hosted payload solutions (HoPS) mission delivery order from the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) for the Argos Advanced Data Collection System (A-DCS).
The SMC HoPS programme seeks to enable the placement of government payloads on commercial satellites. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
22 May 19. ASA seeks public and industry comment on new space launch rulebook. The Australian Space Agency has invited industry members to present their views on updated rules for launch and return of rockets from Australian territory. That aims to ensure the booming domestic space industry isn’t unduly disadvantaged by regulation, when compared with other nations. Australia’s space launch regulatory regime was based on the 1998 Space Activities Act, developed at a time when the space industry was in its infancy. In 2015, the government embarked on a review of that legislation to ensure it did not unnecessarily inhibit innovation in Australia’s space activities. The review concluded the 1998 legislation imposed an unnecessary level of inflexibility, a high level of insurance and financial requirements in comparison with other space-faring nations, and a focus on the type of organisation undertaking the activity rather than the nature of the activity.
Improvements were incorporated in legislation amending the 1998 law, designed provide improvements appropriate to Australia’s national context and supported participation in the Australian space industry. That was balanced against the Australian Space Agency role as a globally responsible regulator. The Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 passed both houses of Parliament in August 2018, became law on 31 August 2018 and is to commence on 31 August this year.
“It reflects consideration of removal of barriers to participation in activities, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, the safety of activities and the risk of damage to persons and property as a result of activities, and the implementation of certain obligations under the United Nations Space Treaties,” ASA said.
This broadens the regulatory framework to specifically include launches from aircraft in flight and provides for launch of high power rockets.
It also streamlines the approvals processes and insurance requirements for launches and returns. This regulatory framework is articulated in ‘rules’ instead of regulations to provide increased flexibility.
But does it work as it is supposed to in an environment of rapid technological change?
ASA is now seeking industry and public comment.
“Recognising the importance of the rules to future growth of the Australian space industry, as well as ensuring the safety of the Australian community, the Australian Space Agency is undertaking public consultation on the draft rules,” it said.
“The agency is seeking your considered evaluation of the practical implications of these rules, and welcome your comments and feedback during the consultation phase.”
ASA has released exposure drafts of the new rules for launch and return, for insurance requirements and for use of high powered rockets.
It will hold a series of consultation sessions in capital cities, starting in Sydney on 28 May and concluding in Canberra on 11 June. (Source: Space Connect)
21 May 19. Viasat Selected by General Services Administration to Modernize Operational Capabilities for U.S. Special Operations Forces and General Purpose Forces. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today it was awarded an IDIQ contract by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) on April 18, 2019, with a maximum ceiling of $450m to support Rapid Migration of Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Cyber (C5AD) Capability Best Practices for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and U.S. General Purpose Forces (GPF). Through this award, Viasat will deliver a diverse portfolio of technologies and services to advance communications, intelligence, security and operational capabilities for SOF and GPF warfighters operating across the battlespace. Viasatproducts and services included as part of the IDIQ were assessed, tested and validated to enable new concepts of operation, improve situational awareness, avoid fratricide and improve overall mission effectiveness for U.S. SOF and GPF.
The IDIQ contract is structured to meet the immediate needs of the Department of Defense (DoD) in mobile networking, cybersecurity and broadband satellite communications technology sectors. The flexible nature of the IDIQ will allow U.S. SOF and GPF to rapidly acquire and deploy a wide variety of new operational capabilities, products, systems and services in order to help significantly enhance overall SOF and GPF mission effectiveness and improve safety for warfighters operating across the battlespace.
21 May 19. Peraton wins US Army ground-based communications system contract. US company Peraton has won a $14.9m ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) secure communications operations and maintenance (SCOM) contract from the 59th Signal Battalion of the US Army.
Under the five-year indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity GMD SCOM contract, Peraton will operate and maintain defence satellite communications system (DSCS) military strategic, tactical and relay (MILSTAR) and defence red switch network (DRSN) equipment and terminals at Fort Greely, Alaska, US.
The contract will support the provision of secure end-to-end communications connectivity by the Missile Defense Agency to the US Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, 311th Signal Command Theater, 516th Signal Brigade and 59th Signal Battalion.
Peraton space, intelligence and cyber president Roger Mason said: “We are enthusiastic to continue our long-standing support of this vital national security mission.
“Peraton has been performing this work since 2009, with GMD SCOM representing the third successive contract award, now extending our trusted partnership for an additional five years.”
The DSCS constellation provides communications for the army’s ground mobile forces, the airforce’s airborne terminals, navy ships, the White House Communications Agency, the US State Department and other users across the world.
Previously, the Peraton team has been recognised as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) pacific facility of the year six times and as DISA global facility of the year in 2014 in the DSCS category.
With expertise in satellite communications, MILSTAR and DRSN, Peraton delivers performance excellence in advancing mission success.
The company, based in Herndon, Virginia, US, provides innovative, reliable solutions to the nation’s sensitive and mission-critical programmes and systems. It employs more than 3,000 people across the US and Canada. (Source: army-technology.com)
21 May 19. Australian Air Force takes delivery of space surveillance telescope. The Defence Estate and Infrastructure Group (E&IG) has handed over ownership of the new space surveillance telescope building to the Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).
The completed building and supporting facilities, located in Exmouth, Western Australia, are an important milestone in Project AIR 3029 Phase 2 – Space Surveillance Telescope. The space telescope will be housed in the new building and its installation is on track to meet initial operating capability in 2021.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, said the telescope would increase the capacity to detect and track objects in space in order to manage threats, including space debris, and predict and avoid potential collisions.
“These $97.2m facilities are the first of their type built for the Australian Defence Force and represent a significant achievement by Defence and Australian industry to enable the capability to be realised,” AIRMSHL Davies said.
The construction of the 270 tonne rotating dome enclosure and supporting facilities is a significant achievement for the Australian industry. The design and manufacture of the track and bogie mechanisms to allow the dome to rotate was undertaken by Hofmann Engineering, a Perth-based contractor, resulting in a world-leading product. The dome allows full 360 degree viewing of the night sky. Construction of the unique facilities by a combined team of contractors led by Aurecon as project manager/contract administrator and Sitlzer Construction as prime contractor demonstrated the capability of businesses local to the Exmouth area to deliver Defence projects.
“Air Force is working with Australian industry and educational institutions to build domestic space surveillance capability for Australia,” AIRMSHL Davies said. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 May 19. Preparing for the OmegA Rocket: How to do a Static Test. Tucked into the hillside off a quiet Utah highway, bunker-like buildings go relatively unnoticed among the brush. Deep inside one of these shed-like structures rests the work of dozens of the country’s best rocket scientists. Soon, years of development and dedication will culminate in a ten-second countdown and a smoke plume, but following this qualification test the opportunities are vast.
Recently, a team of technicians in Promontory, Utah, artfully manipulated the first stage of Northrop Grumman’s OmegA rocket into its final configuration using multiple cranes and other large tooling. After assembly, the 12-foot-diameter and 80-foot-long stage rests on supports, wiring spilling from its forward end and leading to data collection points carefully located based on precise measurements.
Northrop Grumman is building OmegA to launch intermediate to heavy national security payloads for the U.S. Air Force, as well as science and commercial payloads for other customers. Solid rocket motors with lightweight composite cases power the first and second stages. In a few weeks, the company will perform its first full-scale static test of the first stage, the bottom and most powerful portion of the rocket’s propulsion.
When talking to Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s flight systems division, it is immediately clear he is proud of the work going on at Promontory. “This first stage ground test is a major milestone. Three and a half years ago we said we would accomplish this test in the spring of 2019, and that is exactly what we are going to do. In the National Security market, schedule is everything,” he said.
In the remaining days leading up to the static test, currently scheduled for May 30, 2019, technicians will finish attaching instrumentation gauges and data recorders that will measure key characteristics such as thrust, vibration and burn rate. Then they will practice conducting the test, running through and repeating each step of the countdown multiple times. Performing these simulations ensures the team members have all the test systems calibrated and functioning properly.
“Every countdown step is critical and has to be performed with perfection,” says Jamie Barney, director of test and research operations, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “We have an extremely experienced team, but no one here is ever complacent about a rocket test.”
On test day, the entire test bay will roll back to expose the first stage motor attached to three “spacer” segments totaling 177 feet of white casing. When the countdown clock reaches zero, the igniter, housed in the forward segment, will rapidly ignite and pressurize the entire motor.
The motor will continue to burn for approximately two minutes, producing more than two million pounds of thrust channeled through a vectorable nozzle. During the test, 30 to 40 technicians and engineers will line the control room, closely monitoring the sensors, instrumentation, and cameras on and around the motor. They will collect approximately 700 data channels, gauging everything from case growth to component stresses to motor pressure to temperatures – all essential data to qualify this motor for flight.
“The first stage rocket motor is the heart of the OmegA vehicle,” says Paul Messer, OmegA first and second stage motor program manager, Northrop Grumman. “With the critical data from the static fire test, and the post-test inspections, we can qualify our products and ensure their reliability to our customers.”
For about six months after the test, the team will assess the data and disassemble, evaluate and dissect the hardware to observe the effects of motor operation. A post-assessment verdict of reliability across all systems will qualify the motor for flight.
“Successfully completing the full-scale static test later this month will be a significant milestone,” says Kevin Wilder, OmegA deputy program director, Northrop Grumman. “Everyone on the team is personally invested in this program, and we are all looking forward to OmegA’s first launch in 2021.”
20 May 19. SpaceX shares details on Starlink constellation program. SpaceX has provided new insight into its ambitious Starlink constellation program, which aims at providing a new space-based internet system to an unprecedented area of coverage, as the first set of satellites prepare to launch into orbit.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has revealed that the company’s target amount of satellites to launch to orbit are 12,000, with the Starlink program considered economically sound after the launch of 1,000.
“For the system to be economically viable, it’s really on the order of 1,000 satellites,” Musk said.
“If we are putting a lot more satellites than that in orbit, that’s a very good thing — it means there is a lot of demand for the system.”
SpaceX’s first launch with Starlink satellites is due to go ahead on 17 May, aboard the Falcon 9, with 60 satellites on board.
Moving forward, Musk confirmed that SpaceX could launch 1,000 to 2,000 satellites per year using its Falcon rockets.
“It’s a heck of a lot of launches. We will hopefully have Starship active by the time we are anywhere near 12,000 satellites,” Musk said, in reference to the company’s under-development reusable launch system.
After 400 satellites are launched, or seven missions, Starlink will provide continual coverage in limited areas, while 12 launches would ensure coverage of the US. After 24 launches, most of the world’s population would be covered, while 30 launches would cover the entire planet. (Source: Space Connect)
20 May 19. Design work concludes on WA astronomical supercomputers. Engineering design work has concluded for what will be the world’s fastest supercomputer, built to process the vast amount of data from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope in South Africa and Western Australia. What’s called the SDP (science data processor) itself will be composed of two supercomputers, one in Cape Town, South Africa to process data from the SKA-mid array and one in Perth to process data from SKA-low array. SKA is an international project consisting of thousands of antennas across the world, with central cores of operation in South Africa and in WA.
By combining signals from the large number of small antennas, SKA is in effect a single giant radio telescope capable of extremely high sensitivity and angular resolution, giving it the ability to determine where a signal originates. SKA will feature a total collecting area of approximately a square kilometre, which will make it 50 times more sensitive than any existing radio telescopes, allowing astronomers to survey vast areas of the sky in parallel for the first time.
In Australia, the core site, comprising some 130,000 individual antennas, will be at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory at Mileura Station near Boolardy in WA and operated by the CSIRO. Construction will begin next year.
Computer processing of data will be performed around the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth. Last week, Labor promised $7.5m additional funding for SKA should it win government.
The SKA SDP consortium, which includes the Pawsey Centre, has announced it has concluded five years of engineering design work on one of the two supercomputers to process the enormous amounts of data produced by the SKA’s telescopes.
The international consortium was led by the University of Cambridge in the UK and involved almost 40 institutions in 11 countries. SDP is the second stage of processing for SKA data and follows correlation and beamforming in the Central Signal Processor (CSP).
SKA’s SDP project manager Maurizio Miccolis said it had been a pleasure to work with such an international team of experts.
“We’ve worked with almost every SKA country to make this happen, which goes to show how hard what we’re trying to do is,’ he said.
“We estimate SDP’s total compute power to be around 250 PFlops – that’s 25 per cent faster than IBM’s Summit, the current fastest supercomputer in the world. In total, up to 600 PB of data will be distributed around the world every year from SDP – that’s enough to fill more than a million average laptops.”
The consortium role was to design computing hardware platforms, software, and algorithms needed to process data from CSP into science data products.
“SDP is where data becomes information,” said Rosie Bolton, SKA Data Centre scientist.
“This is where we start making sense of the data and produce detailed astronomical images of the sky.”
Because of the sheer quantity of data flowing into SDP – some five terabits per second or 100,000 times faster than the projected global average broadband speed in 2022 – it will need to make independent decisions in near real-time on what is noise and what’s worth keeping.
The team also designed SDP so that it can detect and remove man-made radio frequency interference (RFI) – for example from satellites and other sources – from the data. (Source: Space Connect)
20 May 19. Local companies team up on Australian defence satellite system. Two Australian companies, DEWC Systems and Southern Launch, have agreed to work together to deliver the first fully Australian, designed, developed, launched and operated defence satellite system.
The system, called the Miniaturised Orbital Electronic Warfare Sensor System (MOESS) project, aims to provide a fully Australian developed, owned and operated space-based electronic warfare capability.
MOESS will leverage off the recent growth of the Australian space industry capability to utilise CubeSats as a platform to make MOESS a cost effective and versatile capability solution.
As per their agreement, DEWC Systems will work with Southern Launch to be an early adopter of their satellite launch facilities at the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex on the Eyre Peninsula and for use of the Southern Launch test ranges for R&D activities.
“It is Southern Launch’s goal to help develop the resilient, space-enabled Australian Defence Force of the future, something that is shared by DEWC Systems,” said Lloyd Damp, CEO Southern Launch.
“The MOESS project, led by DEWC Systems will provide our Defence Force with a tactical edge that will ensure the safety and security of our soldiers. We look forward to working with DEWC on the project.”
The MOESS satellites will be launched from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, and enter polar low-Earth orbits to provide worldwide coverage at a “fraction of the cost of other launch sites”.
DEWC Systems is expecting to progress to flight trials next year, with in-space testing to take place in 2022.
“DEWC is a community of professionals, passionate about delivering Australian technical supremacy in the electromagnetic battlespace,” said Ian Spencer, CEO DEWC Systems.
“At DEWC Systems we are excited to be able to work with pioneers such as Southern Launch to realise our shared vision of a truly sustainable and thriving Australian space industry. Now is the time and South Australia is the place.”
The two companies said they “share a vision of building an effective and self-sustaining space industry ecosystem within South Australia”, and hope to inspire others to “make the leap” and turn their vision into a reality, through the collaboration and partnerships with the government of South Australia, Defence, academia and other industry partners. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 May 19. Commerce/NOAA’s Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing to Meet June 4 – (84 Fed. Reg. 21331) – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that its Advisory Committee on Remote Sensing (ACCRES) will meet Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT, at the Commerce Research Library, Herbert C. Hoover Building, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230. To avoid overcrowding should an unexpected number of members of the public attend the meeting, ACCRES invites interested members of the public to RSVP through this link. During the meeting, the Committee will receive updates on NOAA’s Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs activities and discuss updates to the commercial remote sensing regulatory regime. The Committee will also discuss updates in the regulations and trends in international regulatory regimes. (Source: glstrade.com)
17 May 19. Commerce/NOAA Proposes Changes to Licensing of Private Remote Sensing Space Systems –(84 Fed. Reg. 21282) – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) licenses the operation of private remote sensing space systems under the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992. NOAA’s existing regulations implementing the Act at 15 C.F.R. Part 960 were last updated in 2006. Commerce is now proposing to rewrite those regulations, as described in detail this Federal Register notice, to reflect significant changes in the space-based remote sensing industry since that time and to improve the regulatory approach overall. Commerce requests public comment on the new proposed regulations. Interested persons have until July 15, 2019, to submit their comments on these proposed changes. (Source: glstrade.com)
16 May 19. Space Launch Startup Earth to Sky Announces Launch Services Agreement with Delta Satellite Solutions. Earth to Sky, Inc. (ETS) announces the signing of a definitive launch services agreement with Delta Satellite Solutions, Inc. (DSS), a provider of payload and satellite integration services for academic institutions. The launch will occur in March 2021 to 550 km sun synchronous orbit and will launch 120 cubesats.
“We are very excited to be working with DSS, supporting opportunities for educational institutions to fly cubesats,” said Chris Barker, President of ETS. “Our Sleek Eagle launch vehicle mated with our Cubesat Ring dispenser is capable of launching dozens of cubesats and other satellites on a single mission.”
“The educational market for cubesat missions is significantly underserved,” said Evelyn Torres Bada, President of DSS. Various STEM and government programs support development of satellites but not flying them and, as a result, there are hundreds of cubesats in colleges and universities around the world that are waiting for an opportunity to fly. Ms. Torres Bada commented that “the current high cost of flying cubesats, even as secondary payloads, has prohibited most from launching. Our price point is significantly under today’s costs and we plan to meet this large and growing need. We understand the tremendous educational value and motivation that being part of a satellite program operating in space can be for students at all levels. These un-launched satellites could become a significant boon for STEM related subjects when they are orbiting the Earth.” (Source: ASD Network)
14 May 19. Rocket Lab to Launch Rideshare Mission for Spaceflight. Rocket Lab’s next flight will launch multiple spacecraft on a mission procured by satellite rideshare and mission management provider, Spaceflight.
The launch window will open in June, with the launch taking place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The mission is Rocket Lab’s seventh Electron launch overall and the company’s third for 2019, continuing Rocket Lab’s average monthly launch cadence. The flight follows dedicated missions launched for DARPA and the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program in the first months of 2019. The mission is named ‘Make it Rain’ in a nod to the high volume of rainfall in Seattle, where Spaceflight is headquartered, as well in New Zealand where Launch Complex 1 is located. Among the satellites on the mission for Spaceflight are BlackSky’s Global-4, two U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Prometheus and Melbourne Space Program’s ACRUX-1.
The spacecraft manifested on the mission will be delivered to precise, individual orbits by Electron’s Kick Stage. Powered by the 3D printed Curie engine, the Kick Stage carries the payloads to a circular orbit before employing a cold gas reaction control system to orient itself for precise deployment of each satellite at pre-defined intervals. This removes the risk of spacecraft recontact during deployment and ensures each spacecraft is deployed to the ideal orbit.
Rocket Lab has been delivering small satellites to orbit since January 2018. The company has launched 28 satellites on Electron for a range of government and commercial mission partners including NASA, the DOD Space Test Program and DARPA. Rocket Lab’s 2019 manifest is fully booked with monthly launches, scaling to a launch every two weeks by the end of the year. The first launch from the company’s second launch site, Launch Complex 2, at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, will also take place later this year.
Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck said rideshares have historically presented a challenge for small satellite operators, as they are often at the mercy of the primary payload’s schedule and orbit and said that this exciting mission with Spaceflight demonstrates the new level of freedom now offered to small satellite operators thanks to Electron. Rocket Lab puts small satellite operators in charge, offering an unmatched level of control over launch schedule. Thanks to Electron’s Kick Stage, the company also deliver sthe kind of precision orbital deployment normally reserved for a prime. (Source: Satnews)
15 May 19. Comtech EF Data’s Expansion of the Satellite Modem Product Line. More Form and Performance. Comtech EF Data Corp., a subsidiary within Comtech Telecommunications Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMTL) Commercial Solutions segment, recently expanded their satellite modem product line, introducing more form factor choices, the SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx™ Software Defined Modems, and enhanced performance options.
The SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx Software Defined Modems are the latest generation modem solutions featuring extremely compact form factors and software options. The new modems can be integrated with a variety of platforms and provide an upgrade path to support future requirements. The modems are designed to comply with the widest possible range of U.S. Government and commercial standards, and are compatible with the largest number of satellite modems in the industry.
The SLM-5650C CyberLynx model is an indoor product that operates from -10°C to +55°C using conductive cooling. The heat is transferred from the electronics to the housing and then to an external mounting surface, such as a trailer wall. The SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx model is a true IP67 rated Outdoor Unit (“ODU”) that is designed to meet MIL-STD-810G and operates from -32°C to +65°C.
The modems offer unparalleled protection of critical network traffic using advanced physical layer waveforms and proven TRANSEC protection. The SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx feature AES-256 TRANSEC that is fully compatible with Comtech EF Data’s new SLM-5650B and legacy SLM-5650A Satellite Modems.
In addition, the previously announced SLM-5650B Satellite Modem is now USARSTRAT Wideband Global SATCOM (“WGS”) certified, making it the ideal modem solution to enable protected communications for all WGS operators, including the United States Government and partner nations. The SLM-5650B Satellite Modem is targeted for critical commercial backhaul and government and military applications. It is fully compliant with MIL-STD-188-165A/B and fully complies with STANAG 4486 Edition 3, Annex E (“EBEM”). The SLM-5650B leverages the heritage and feature set of Comtech EF Data’s very successful SLM-5650A modem. The SLM-5650B supports backwards compatibility / inter-operability for existing SLM-5650A networks while providing enhanced performance.
The SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx Software Defined Modems and the SLM-5650B Satellite Modem are all commercially available. For additional configuration and pricing information on the modems, contact Comtech EF Data sales.
Jeff Harig, SVP Government Systems for Comtech EF Data, said building on the firm’s expertise with the installed and proven SLM-5650A and SLM-5650B Satellite Modems, the company has reduced the form factor (volume) of the SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx approximately 90 percent, has doubled the processing resources, reduced the maximum power consumption by 80 percent and increased the functionality compared to the SLM-5650A. The proven performance of the company’s offerings translates into reliability, scalability, and adaptability while optimizing space segment for mission-critical communications for government, military and commercial applications. (Source: Satnews)
14 May 19. The NAOS Satellite to be Launched Via a Vega-C Rocket. The “National Advanced Optical System” (NAOS) satellite manufactured by OHB Italia for the Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence will be launched by a Vega (Vega or Vega C) launcher. The satellite will be launched in 2022 from Kourou Space Center, in French Guyana. The satellite, built by OHB Italia, will weigh around 600 kg. at launch, will be positioned in SSO at about 500 km. and will have a nominal service life of at least seven years.
Designed to meet governmental and military needs, NAOS, a high-resolution satellite, will provide global coverage, as the result of the satellite’s ability to capture more than 100 pictures per day. The data collected by the satellite will allow Luxembourg to play a more active role in the defense efforts of Europe and NATO (North-Atlantic Treaty Organization).
Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio, stated that the company is proud to have received this new contract in that Vega has been selected, once again, for a strategic mission involving OHB Italia, Luxembourg and Arianespace. This contract further confirms the quality of the Avio product. (Source: Satnews)
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