Sponsored By Viasat
29 May 19. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced the availability of its new Ka-band Global Aero Terminal (GAT-5518) to provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) services on government and business aviation aircraft — from government-focused Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and fixed-wing military platforms to VIP business and corporate jets. The compact terminal delivers the industry’s highest data rates for an 18 inch antenna, providing the highest forward link capacity (to the aircraft) and highest return link capacity (from the aircraft) to perform high-bandwidth applications such as advanced video streaming services. The GAT-5518 is the latest satellite communications (SATCOM) innovation to join Viasat’s broad portfolio of Ka-band aero antenna systems. Use cases include:
- Government and military mission sets: The GAT-5518 can meet a variety of requirements for UAV and fixed-wing aircraft, from performing real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); enabling operational-support airlift missions; moving personnel and equipment across the battlefield; providing advanced situational awareness; en-route mission planning; MedEvac and telemedicine services; search and rescue; and border and maritime surveillance to name a few. Additionally, the terminal was designed to leverage Viasat’s Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) architecture, which allows users to seamlessly operate across commercial and government SATCOM networks. The HAN architecture conceives an end-to-end network that provides mitigation against congestion situations, intentional and unintentional interference sources and cyber threats through implementation of layered resiliency in highly-contested environments.
- Business and corporate jet applications: The GAT-5518 terminal delivers an enhanced solution for business and corporate aircraft, providing VIP passengers with superior performance for live video teleconferencing, voice calls, corporate VPN access, web browsing and audio, video and live TV streaming among other applications.
“We’re focused on delivering advanced antenna systems that meet in-flight connectivity requirements across multiple airframe and end-user types,” said Kent Leka, general manager, Antenna Systems at Viasat. “In designing and developing new aero terminals we take into consideration the broad user base and application sets to ensure the terminal’s viability across various markets. We’re confident the compact GAT-5518 will provide broader operational flexibility to enhanced reliability and resiliency to meet the diverse needs of business and military users.”
The GAT-5518 terminal completed the rigorous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) D0-160G certification process. This certification confirms the terminal’s ability to provide reliable IFC services across the full International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Ka-band spectrum, which includes commercial and Mil-Ka frequency bands; across varying polarity layouts; across multiple orbital regimes, including both medium earth orbit (MEO) and geosynchronous (GEO) satellite systems; and across multiple network and ground infrastructures. The terminal is also expected to be forward-compatible, enabling it to leverage current and future Viasat satellite systems, as well as operate over third party satellite networks.
The terminal is made up of a two-axis steerable, two-way Ka-band antenna with an integrated antenna control unit (ACU), an antenna power supply unit and a modem. The GAT-5518’s antenna can be tail, fuselage or hatch-mounted.
The Viasat GAT-5518 is available today, and was shipped ahead of schedule to key government and military customers.
29 May 19. USAF wants to expand tactical data network to space. The U.S. Air Force wants to use a small satellite in low earth orbit to help offer beyond-line-of-sight tactical communications to soldiers on the battlefield. Such a satellite would be outfitted with a Link 16 terminal. Link 16 is a tactical data exchange network that provides a picture of where friendly and enemy forces are located, allowing the military to share a common understanding of the battlefield. Military leaders rely on Link 16 as a critical tool in identifying friend from foe in the heat of a battle.
But to date, Link 16 technology has only been capable of line-of-sight communications. That means that forces not within line-of-sight communications are not receiving the most complete understanding of where troops are located on the battlefield.
Now the Air Force wants to change that.
On May 22, Viasat announced that it had been awarded a $10m contract through the Space Enterprise Consortium to develop the first Link 16-capable spacecraft under the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles XVI program. The satellite will be placed in low earth orbit and operate within the company’s hybrid adaptive network, allowing Link 16 users to communicate worldwide.
“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,” the company said in a press release. “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 expected launch date for the spacecraft is summer 2020, a company representative said. (Source: Defense News)
30 May 19. Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes First Stage Test for OmegA Rocket. OmegA on track to support certification launch in 2021. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully conducted a full-scale static fire test of the first stage of its new OmegATM rocket today in Promontory, Utah. This milestone keeps OmegA on track to perform its first launch in 2021 and begin operational launches of national security payloads in 2022.
“The OmegA rocket is a top priority and our team is committed to provide the U.S. Air Force with assured access to space for our nation’s most critical payloads,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, flight systems, Northrop Grumman. “We committed to test the first stage of OmegA in spring 2019, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
During today’s test, the first stage motor fired for approximately 122 seconds, producing more than two million pounds of maximum thrust—roughly the equivalent to that of eight-and-a-half jumbo jets. The test verified the performance of the motor’s ballistics, insulation and joints as well as control of the nozzle position.
Last October, the U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $792m contract to complete detailed design and verification of OmegA and launch sites. Today’s test verified performance of the first stage solid rocket motor for the intermediate version of OmegA.
The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act specified that a domestic next-generation rocket propulsion system “shall be developed by not later than 2019.” With today’s successful test fire, Northrop Grumman demonstrated the company is on track to meet this Congressionally-mandated schedule.
“Congratulations to the entire team on today’s successful test,” said Kent Rominger, OmegA vice president, Northrop Grumman. “OmegA’s design using flight-proven hardware enables our team to meet our milestones and provide an affordable launch system that meets our customer’s requirements and timeline.”
A full-scale static fire test of OmegA’s second stage is planned for this fall.
OmegA’s design leverages flight proven technologies from Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus®, Minotaur and AntaresTM rockets as well as the company’s interceptors, targets and strategic rockets. Northrop Grumman has conducted nearly 80 successful space launch missions and has decades of experience launching critical payloads for the U.S. Department of Defense, civil and commercial customers.
The company’s vehicle development team is working on the program in Arizona, Utah, Mississippi and Louisiana, with launch integration and operations planned at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The program will also support thousands of jobs across the country in its supply chain.
30 May 19. Contest opens to win a satellite launch. Maybe it had to happen. You can now enter a contest to win a free satellite launch. The International Astronautical Federation (IAF), in co-operation with Russian space company GK Launch Services, have announced an exclusive contest for a free launch of 1U CubeSat on the company’s first commercial mission.
“We cordially invite all IAF member organisations to participate in the competition and profit from this unique opportunity to win a launch operated by GK Launch Services,” they announced.
Launch is planned for second quarter 2020. The organisers says this aims to reach out to space university teams from emerging countries. The IAF has multiple Australian member organisations and Australia would appear to qualify as an emerging space nation.
This isn’t a very big satellite – a standard 1U CubeSat has a usable volume of 10 centimetre cube (10x10x10) and can mass no more than 1.3 kilograms. That would make it perfect for a science or technology experiment.
It will be launched as a secondary payload on a Soyuz-2.1a/Fregat, the latest generation of Soyuz launchers that feature high reliability and multi-functionality, from Baikonur Cosmodrome. GK Launch Services was established in 2017 by Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Roscosmos State Space Corporation and International Space Company Kosmotras.
“We are happy to provide a launch opportunity to a 1U CubeSat on our first commercial mission. It is important to GK to support scientific projects, especially those made by students,” said GK Launch Services chief executive Alexander Serkin.
Applications will have to include a description of the bidding organisation and background experience with CubeSats, a description of the proposed CubeSat mission, description of available integration, test facilities and ground station, and information on funding and readiness.
A joint IAF-GK Launch Services selection board will review the applications and select the winner, which will be announced at the IAC 2019 conference in Washington. That takes place from 21-25 October.
Applications must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 8 August.
It may not be quite as cool as winning your own satellite launch, but NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names, stencilled on chips, to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.
The list is open until 30 September. NASA even issues a boarding pass with frequent flyer miles of more than 300m. (Source: Space Connect)
30 May 19. Inmarsat goes with Airbus to build next generation of mobile broadband satellites. The contract is for three next-generation GX satellites, with the first scheduled to launch in the first half of 2023. Inmarsat Plc (LON:ISAT) has chosen Airbus as the manufacturer of a trio of new satellites for its Global Xpress (GX) network with the partnership to provide a step-change in GX’s capabilities, according to the satellites operator. Inmarsat launched GX in 2010 and Rupert Pearce, its chief executive said it remains the world’s only truly seamless global mobile broadband network. This upgrade will be compatible with existing GX terminals, be future proof and cut the lead time from orders to orbit, he said.
Airbus will build three next-generation GX satellites, with the first scheduled to launch in the first half of 2023. The European group built the Inmarsat-4 spacecraft, Alphasat and is currently working on the Inmarsat-6 satellites.
Inmarsat CEO Pearce pointed out that the new contract marks the start of a new long-term strategic partnership between the companies, noting: “GX has rapidly become a very significant and sustained revenue growth contributor for Inmarsat.”
Once the three new satellites are in orbit, the GX network will comprise ten satellites. (Source: proactiveinvestors.co.uk)
30 May 19. The Satellite Applications Catapult has signed an agreement with the Jinjiang District People’s Government of Chengdu to establish a Sino-British Cooperation Centre. The centre, which will be based in Jinjiang District, Chengdu, will provide both Chinese and British enterprises working in the field of satellite applications with partnership and investment opportunities. It will assist UK SMEs looking to enter the Chinese market, support UK companies to collaborate on innovative projects in the Chinese and Asian markets and lead research and development projects to drive collaboration between China and the UK.
By 2025, the centre aims to create a $4bn opportunity for global export, by identifying significant global challenges which can be addressed using data from satellites.
This development marks the beginning of a new focus of activity for the Satellite Applications Catapult which already has operations in South America and has worked on innovative projects in over 22 countries. This centre will be the Catapult’s first base in Asia and will create significant opportunities for it to continue its work in growing the UK economy, co-located in the world’s second largest economy. The Catapult has already engaged innovative UK SMEs in initial discussions with Chinese partners, and will be actively seeking more UK companies and research organisations who are interested in developing products and services both for the Chinese market and in collaboration with Chinese businesses, researchers and investors.
The deal has been supported by Professor Yu Xiong, Chair of Technology and Operations Management in Newcastle Business School of Northumbria University, who has been an advisor to and initiator of the project and Mr James Wang from ELI Holdings, who is acting as the Catapult’s sponsor in Chengdu.
Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult said, “The Satellite applications industry is by its very nature, global and the growth of the UK space sector relies on the take-up of innovative products and services by customers around the world. By creating a centre in China, we will enable UK businesses to access one of the largest markets in the world and develop a new range of collaborative opportunities to increase the global impact of our work.”
Chen Lizhang, Secretary of CPC Jinjiang District Committee, said “As the centre of commerce, business, finance, and culture of Chengdu, we warmly welcome international corporations to make investments and do business in Chengdu city and Jinjiang District”
28 May 19. ASI to Launch CubeSat Demo that Could Lead to Quicker Access to Satellite Data. Spacecraft Features MITRE Antenna that Could Benefit Government Communications and ISR Missions.
Analytical Space Inc. (ASI) is launching a technology demonstration spacecraft intended to pave the way for users on the ground to gain faster access to satellite data. The spacecraft features a patented MITRE antenna that could help enable that application, as well as government missions including tactical communications and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
ASI’s 3U CubeSat, dubbed Meshbed, will perform on-orbit testing of MITRE’s Frequency-scaled Ultra-wide Spectrum Element (FUSE) antenna. The initial on-orbit demonstration will be dedicated to data collection to explore U.S. government applications for the MITRE technology. Meshbed will then shift its focus to testing ASI’s data relay capability, expanding on the testing achieved by its tech demo predecessor, Radix, which deployed from the International Space Station in 2018.
MITRE developed the FUSE antenna in collaboration with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as part of an effort to conserve topside space on ships. This new class of antennas has a novel electromechanical interface that eliminates the need for radio frequency connectors, reducing cost, weight and size. The company recently received three patents for FUSE, which has been successfully demoed in the field, and some of the technology has been transitioned as a multi-function system. R&D Magazine recently honored the MITRE team with an R&D 100 award for the FUSE antenna.
A new variation of the antenna built entirely of metal was further developed at MITRE. The latest breed (patent-pending) is scalable for CubeSat missions, maintains the same features from the original invention, and is produced at a more compelling price-point because of the use of metal additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. By solving the problem of fitting a wideband antenna onto a CubeSat and demonstrating that it can operate in the harsh space environment, FUSE will accelerate the development of high-performance and multi-function systems, with a wide range of applications that includes military use and commercial satellite communications.
Incorporating the wide frequency range of FUSE on Meshbed will enhance the satellite’s capacity to communicate with other satellites, a critical component of ASI’s data relay service. Together with the results from Radix, the testing performed on Meshbed will inform the development of future capabilities in ASI’s global network. The network will dramatically expand the downlink capacity of Earth observation satellites, which currently face severe constraints relaying data.
MITRE and ASI began working together through the MassChallenge startup accelerator as part of MITRE’s Innovation Bridge activities, an initiative to connect startups with government agencies.
“This partnership demonstrates our agility in collaborating with commercial and not-for-profit partners to develop innovative solutions,” says Dan Nevius, CEO of ASI. “We’re looking forward to working with MITRE to continue developing and testing innovative solutions to meet government needs while fostering growth in the commercial sector.”
“This is a great example of MITRE’s ability to take technology developed to solve a difficult challenge for one of our government sponsors and accelerate technology development via government / commercial-partnered collaborative environment at an affordable cost,” said Jay Schnitzer, MITRE’s chief technology officer. “Working together with government and industry, we can apply our deep expertise to solve potential barriers to the effective use of small space systems.”
MITRE’s mission-driven teams are dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. Through public-private partnerships, as well as the operation of federally funded R&D centers, we work across government to tackle challenges to the safety, stability, and well-being of our nation.
Analytical Space is launching a network of relay satellites that will provide a high-speed data connection for Earth observation satellites. ASI’s network will allow satellite operators to generate more data and get it to the ground faster, all while using their existing hardware. By dramatically expanding downlink capacity, our network will unlock new possibilities for innovation in space, and enable insights to optimize the global economy. (Source: ASD Network)
30 May 19. UK Space Agency provides £2m to develop horizontal spaceflight. Future spaceports can apply for a share of £2m to support plans for small satellite launch from aircraft and sub-orbital flight from the UK, Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced.
Sites such as Newquay in Cornwall, Campbeltown and Glasgow Prestwick in Scotland, and Snowdonia in Wales are already developing their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions. The £2m ($3.66m) strategic development fund, opened by the UK Space Agency, will help sites like these accelerate their plans further.
The potential spaceports can now submit applications to enable research into the market opportunities offered by new and emerging horizontal spaceflight technologies. Grant recipients can then use this research to develop an individual business case for offering horizontal launch services from the UK in the early 2020s, better positioning themselves to engage with potential suppliers and investors.
Minister Skidmore said, “The UK space sector is thriving, and horizontal spaceflight is an exciting prospect which could provide services to our world-leading small satellite industry as well as international customers and space tourists.”
As part of its £50m spaceflight program, in July 2018 the government announced support for the establishment of a vertical spaceport in Scotland. This additional funding opportunity will support the development of horizontal spaceports in the UK, further growing the market for both small satellite launch and sub-orbital flights.
“This new fund will help develop ambitious proposals to enable spaceplanes and aircraft capable of deploying satellites to operate from future UK spaceports, as part of the government’s modern industrial Strategy,” Minister Skidmore explained.
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere expanded on these comments, saying, “The UK’s spaceflight expertise means we are ready to thrive in the new space age, encouraging innovation and creating jobs. This fund provides a chance for UK spaceports to take the initiative and become global leaders in this field.”
The UK Space Agency is driving the growth of the space sector as part of the government’s industrial strategy and continues to be a leading member of European Space Agency, which is independent of the EU. The UK is also playing a major role in space exploration and science, with a British built rover going to Mars in 2020.
The demanding environment of space means that investments in the sector generate new knowledge and innovations that extend far beyond the space industry. For example, satellites provide services that enable a wide range of economic activities, supporting industries worth £300bn to the UK.
Claire Barcham, director of commercial space at the UK Space Agency, said, “The UK Space Agency is helping prospective spaceports seize the commercial opportunities offered by the increasing demands for launch. We are working closely with the industry to ensure the UK becomes a global leader in providing access to space for small satellites and sub-orbital vehicles.”
Earlier this year, the UK Space Agency revealed that every £1 of public spending generates up to £4 in value for the recipients in the space industry, with additional benefits to the UK economy.
30 May 19. Space sector key focus for Minister Andrews after ministerial reappointment. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has voted for continuity with the reappointment of Karen Andrews as the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology – with the growth of Australia’s space sector a key objective.
Minister Andrews welcomed her reappointment, saying, “As a mechanical engineer before my time in Parliament, I am delighted to continue in this portfolio, and build on the Liberal National government’s achievements since 2013, including the National Innovation and Science Agenda, which I worked on during my time as Assistant Minister for Science.”
In a statement, she added, “I will continue to work to strengthen Australian industries so they can drive our nation’s economic growth and create more jobs, and I will ensure this country’s science and technology sectors continue to thrive and position Australia at the forefront of new developments in these fields.”
Australia’s space sector will figure strongly in Minister Andrews continued role as the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.
“I am pleased to continue to propel Australia’s space sector into the future after we established the Australian Space Agency in 2017,” she said.
The Coalition recognises the value of science to Australia’s future jobs and prosperity and said it has demonstrated this through its investment into science agencies – like CSIRO, AIMS and ANSTO – and the innovative work they do.
“I am particularly delighted to continue to assist girls and women to chase their dreams in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – to level gender inequity and ensure there is greater female representation in STEM studies and careers,” Minister Andrews added.
Minister Andrews was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra. (Source: Space Connect)
29 May 19. The Satellite Applications Catapult, in collaboration with the UK Space Agency (UKSA) have extended their partnerships with organisations in the South-West and South-Coast regions, through their jointly funded Regional Centres of Excellence programme. Following a successful initial three-year programme of activities to stimulate growth of the use of satellite data and technologies by businesses and academia in the South, the Centres programme has been further extended to March 2022. The University of Portsmouth and the University of Exeter act as lead organisations on behalf of their partners in the respective regions. The Centre partnerships bring together academic, industrial, government and third-sector partners delivering widespread technological and economic benefits with local, national and international impact. The expansion will continue to focus on satellite remote sensing, navigation and communications projects demonstrating the enormous business potential of exploiting satellite technology, while facilitating investment and export growth in the longer term. Improving limited rural connectivity, appropriately disseminating health data and supporting the Blue Economy are just three of the key challenges facing the South-Coast and South-West.
Professor Adrian Hopgood of the University of Portsmouth, Director of the South-Coast Centre of Excellence, said “In this second phase we will support targeted projects based on three core topics of Transport and Logistics, Autonomous Systems, and Offshore Assets. Professor Djamila Ouelhadj, Operations Director of the South-Coast Centre added “We are delighted to have established partnerships with more than 20 organisations to help deliver tangible business benefits and to support significant investment in regional growth.”
Kim Conchie, Chief Executive at Cornwall Chamber of Commerce added “The South West Centre of Excellence has proved a really effective focal point for promoting Cornwall as a serious player in the growing space industry and as a rallying call to SMEs to gather expertise and confidence from the Centre and from each other.”
Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth, UK Space Agency, said: “From Portsmouth to Penzance, south and southwest England have an incredible industrial heritage and great potential to continue to thrive in the growing space industry. Through these renewed Centres of Excellence, alongside our business incubation programme, we’re ensuring that the regions have a strong future in jobs, innovation and growth in line with the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.”
Stuart Martin, CEO at Satellite Applications Catapult said, “The Centres of Excellence have become an integral and high-profile presence within the space community in the UK over the last three years, and we are delighted that these partnerships have been extended. Their success demonstrates the ambition of the organisations involved, and the ongoing commitment of both the Catapult and the UKSA to the growth of the UK space sector.”
Collectively, these partnerships exist to support the region’s ambitions to capture a share of the high-tech jobs to be created in space businesses and academic departments across the UK.
28 May 19. Collins Aerospace M-Code CGM certified. Collins Aerospace Systems has received the GPS Directorate (GPS-D) security certification from the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center for its Military Code (M-Code) Common GPS Module (CGM). The certification validates compliance to the stringent Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) hardware and software security design specification.
With security certification, the US Department of Defense can significantly expand MGUE receiver integration and testing locations supporting the operational deployment of M-Code.
Close to 800 Collins Aerospace M-Code receivers have been provided to weapons, surface and airborne platform integrators for the MGUE programme so far. Independent testing confirmed the receivers provide enhanced anti-jamming capabilities within the lowest power solution available. The ground-based receiver utilises the smaller Type-II form factor making it suitable for lightweight, dismounted GPS receiver applications.
The security certification serves as the foundation for M-Code products that are currently in prototype or full development status for ground, weapons, and airborne mission applications. The same security-certified CGM, re-used on all of these products, will help expedite the integration of M-Code into more platforms in the future. The security certification also allows Collins Aerospace’s CGM-based M-Code receivers to be eligible for export to US allies through the foreign military sales programme. (Source: Shephard)
29 May 19. Kleos satellite launch window confirmed for August. ASX-listed Kleos Space, a provider of space-powered radio frequency reconnaissance data, is confirmed for an August 2019 launch on a Rocket Lab Electron. All preparations by Kleos on the Kleos Scouting Mission satellites are on track for mission readiness and will be onsite, ready for flight preparation as soon as the Rocket Lab customer area is ready to accept the Kleos team for integration activities.
Satellite testing will conclude with a complete system test using KSAT (Kleos Scouting Mission ground station service provider) specialist ground station equipment, immediately prior to flight acceptance review and dispatch to launch site.
Andy Bower, CEO of Kleos Space, said, “Kleos technical team have applied themselves exceptionally well to achieve this stage mission-readiness for the Kleos Scouting Mission and continue to optimise the post launch phase of the mission to ensure revenue generating data starts flowing as quick as possible.”
All four satellites have successfully completed all the necessary checks with Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built Maxwell dispenser, which is used for deployment from the Electron kick stage to low-Earth orbit.
Pre-flight testing of critical functions within the detection systems on the satellites used for the creation of the Kleos geolocation data have performed significantly better than specification, this improvement will further increase accuracy and product value.
The Kleos Scouting Mission satellites are to be commissioned in a precise 500-kilometre sun-synchronous orbit as part of a rideshare mission with Rocket Lab, which has advised that the 14-day launch window will be publicly notified approximately 20 days prior to the target launch date.
“They have also worked well with GomSpace to improve the satellites’ capabilities, further enhancing our offer to the market,” Bower added.
These comments were echoed by Rocket Lab’s senior vice president of global launch services, Lars Hoffman, who welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Kleos.
“We’re excited to give the Kleos Scouting Mission satellites a first-class ride to orbit on Electron. We’ve worked closely with the Kleos team to design a tailored rideshare mission that lays the strong foundation for a future constellation,” he said.
Kleos Space is a space enabled, activity-based intelligence, data as a service company based in Luxembourg. Kleos Space aims to guard borders, protect assets and save lives by delivering global activity-based intelligence and geolocation as a service.
The Kleos Scouting Mission will deliver commercially available data and perform as a technology demonstration. KSM will be the keystone for a later global high capacity constellation.
As the world’s leading small satellite launch provider, Rocket Lab provides frequent and reliable access to orbit for small satellites. Rocket Lab designs, manufactures and launches Electron, the world’s first fully carbon composite orbital launch vehicle, powered by 3D printed engines. Electron launches from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, the world’s only private orbital launch site.
Since its first launch in May 2017, Rocket Lab has precisely delivered 28 satellites to orbit on Electron for a range of government and commercial mission partners, including NASA, the US Department of Defense Space Test Program and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). (Source: Space Connect)
29 May 19. Adelaide set to host 19th Australian Space Research Conference. South Australia is to hold the 19th Australian Space Research Conference later in the year, strengthening its position as the nation’s space state. This annual conference is sponsored and organised by the National Committee for Space and Radio Science and the National Space Society of Australia, with the support of the Mars Society of Australia, and this year will include the South Australian Space Forum organised by the South Australian Space Industry Centre.
ASRC follows the 2017 International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which attracted more than 4,500 delegates and is regarded as a key driver in Adelaide being chosen to host the new Australian Space Agency (ASA).
Adelaide Convention Bureau chief executive Damien Kitto said Adelaide won ASRC after hosting event organisers at its Destination South Australia 2018 showcase. He said this was one of many business events in the space and defence sectors that it would bring to SA.
“The legacies of these events, as was the legacy of the IAC, will continue to provide opportunities for innovation, investment and trade to South Australia,” Kitto said.
“With state government’s commitment and development of the Innovation Hub at Lot Fourteen, we look forward to promoting this exciting genre to the world as we have and will continue to do successfully within the health sciences arena off the back of the BioMed City development.”
The Adelaide Convention Centre is quite close to Lot Fourteen, site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, now being transformed into an innovation hub.
That’s the home of the Australian Space Agency and the new Mission Control Centre for Australian space activities. There will also be an educational Discovery Centre.
SA is also home to the new SmartSat CRC – the Cooperative Research Centre for Smart Satellite Technologies and Analytics – which was launched last month.
That’s the largest space industry research collaboration in Australian history and involves universities, research organisations and private industry. (Source: Space Connect)
27 May 19. European Commission seeks industry research partners for GNSS U-Space applications. The European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (Small to medium sized enterprises) seeks industry partners to help accelerate the use of EGNOS and Galileo, the European GNSS (EGNSS) components, in the UAS market, “putting in place the necessary means at service provision level for facilitating the operational use of EGNSS by operators and their approval by aviation authorities.”
The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is Europe’s regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) that is used to improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs), such as GPS and Galileo. It has been deployed to provide safety of life navigation services to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe.
The research is part of the “Horizon 2020: EGNOS and Galileo as a U-space Service” programme.
The procurement documents are available for unrestricted and full direct access, free of charge, at: https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-display.html?cftId=4696
Reference number: 746/PP/GRO/RCH/19/113057
Value excluding VAT: EUR 500,000.00
Duration in months: 18 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
28 May 19. Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a contract worth up to $977m by the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, to provide the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) worldwide satellite communications and support for its headquarters, components and major subordinate units operating around the world. Under the Blanket Purchase Agreement contract, the work can extend up to eight years and services can be requested by the customer that will not exceed $977m. Leonardo DRS will provide USSOCOM’s Global Access Network (GAN) system, an end-to-end custom-engineered, global commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) solution, engineered to meet USSOCOM’s unique COMSATCOM needs.
USSOCOM requires an integrated satellite and terrestrial telecommunications system to support the dissemination of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence information between USSOCOM, its components, and their major subordinate units as well as selected U.S. government agencies and activities directly associated with the special operations community. Network connectivity includes satellite transmission and terrestrial services, which connect communication hubs to deployed communication nodes located in the continental U.S. and outside the continental U.S. in support of deployed Special Operations Forces.
“We are dedicated to delivering a strong, secure and comprehensive technical solution that ensures U.S. Special Operations Forces have connectivity when and where it is required,” said Dave Fields, senior vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Global Enterprise Solutions business unit. “With our deep experience in this program, we understand our customers’ needs for this unique and critical mission,” Fields said.
For the past seventeen years, Leonardo DRS has been providing its GAN service with commercial satellite bandwidth, a satellite operations center support, and a secure and accredited terrestrial network to USSCOCOM. Under this new contract, the company will also continue to design, manufacture and qualify the worldwide commercial satellite communications system.
The Leonardo DRS Global Enterprise Solutions business unit is a leader in providing mission-critical global communications and enterprise IT solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Federal Government as well as commercial and international customers. Its services include end-to-end global communications, satellite communications fiber and wireless terrestrial back-haul, managed network services and applications, cyber security, network operations, enterprise IT, and IT staffing.
28 May 19. SAS spruiks cutting-edge nanosat tech. Australian space company Sky and Space Global (SAS) has said it is at the cutting edge of the space industry and its team had been at the lead in almost every aspect of the emerging commercial nanosatellite communications sector.
But its notable technical achievements had not been well understood by shareholders. SAS co-founder and chief technical officer Meidad Pariente said several recent discussions with shareholders highlighted a lack of visibility on many of its notable technology achievements.
“In many aspects of commercial space endeavours, Sky and Space Global is at the forefront, and for some we are leading and setting the tone,” he said in a letter to shareholders.
“We are not resting, we push ourselves to always be on the forefront of technology and innovation while evaluating processes and performance so we can learn and improve … after all we’re changing the world.”
But it was not easy to improve the world and do something no one has done before, Pariente said.
“Sky and Space Global’s talented team has been able to lead and be the first in almost every aspect of the emerging commercial nanosatellite communications sector,” he said.
SAS, based in Perth, is well advanced in plans for what it calls the Pearls constellation of as many as 200 nanosatellites in equatorial orbit, providing low cost communications, data and internet services for markets in Africa, South America and Asia.
Under the new 6U agreement with Danish satellite builder GomSpace, there will be an additional constellation high inclination orbits, allowing full global coverage, including Australia, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina and Canada.
The first launch is planned for early next year. However, the company has faced its share of challenges, including cash flow problems and the loss of two board members who are still to be replaced.
Pariente said SAS did infrastructure – building communications roads in space, envisaging the entire scope of work, developing all network related aspects of translating technology to business.
He said SAS had signed more than 40 contracts and that was not trivial.
“This is a huge confirmation from the market that we’re on the right path and there’s a very strong need and demand for our services,” Pariente said.
SAS already has some runs on the board. In June 2017, it launched its Three Diamonds nanosatellites aboard an Indian rocket for technical risk reduction and to demonstrate its capabilities to customers.
“We have also been able to use the Three Diamonds for business intelligence spectrum monitoring from space in order to map frequency usage by ground and space systems in our future service zones,” he said.
“The spectrum monitoring task, which was never intended to be one of the Three Diamonds’ mission goals, is equivalent to performing a site survey for real estate prior to commencing the build process.”
Pariente said developing the Pearls required technological breakthroughs, particularly developing launch canisters.
“D-Orbit from northern Italy accepted the challenge and with carbon-fibre composite materials and a design used for electric Formula-1 racing cars. They managed to design, test and qualify the strongest, lightest canister in the new space industry available today,” he said.
Pariente said controlling more than 200 nanosatellites in five different orbits, maintaining relative distance with an ability to perform avoidance manoeuvres if required and providing 24/7 coverage service was a very complex challenge.
That required either a large operations team or a cutting-edge innovative autonomous algorithm that allows the nanosatellites in the constellation to interconnect and maintain their relative location and distance.
“In the last year and a half we have developed, with the aid of a group of world-class aerospace engineers from SCISYS Darmstadt, an autonomous algorithm that allows satellites, for the first time, to autonomously manoeuvre by sharing information and making group decisions to keep the constellation up and running and avoid collisions with other space objects,” he said.
“This algorithm is already being tested in a system-of-systems super-simulation.”
Pariente said this would run in parallel on multiple cloud processing servers and was one of the most complicated ever built.
That will allow SAS to run network performance check scenarios, which include more than 200 satellites and more than a million users.
To allow user access, SAS needs to develop a ground terminal but it has proved challenging to find someone able to produce a suitable terminal that is low cost, has low power consumption, is portable and durable.
Pariente said $10 difference in cost was not a lot but it became significant for production of hundreds of thousands.
“After searching the globe, screening proposals and talking to engineers, we managed to narrow down our options to two manufacturing candidates that were found to be suitable for our commercial needs,” he said.
To operate the satellites and ground services, SAS had to develop its own proprietary software products, which it had done through its own software powerhouse.
“Anyone with deep pockets can purchase hardware and launch satellites … having them function like ours, well that is a massive challenge and achievement,” he said. (Source: Space Connect)
27 May 19. Aussie space industry ready for launch: Dr Megan Clarke. The head of the new Australian Space Agency (ASA), Dr Megan Clark, has said there is palpable momentum in the space sector in every state and territory. Although only formed on 1 July last year, ASA has already notched up a long list of achievements in its goal of of tripling the space sector’s contribution to Australia’s GDP to $12bn, and creating up to 20,000 new jobs. In an address to the Australasia Satellite Forum in Sydney this week, Dr Clark said ASA’s purpose was crystal clear.
“It is to transform and grow a globally respected space industry in Australia, to do that through partnerships, and to make sure all Australians are inspired by looking up and seeing what Australia is doing in space,” she said.
“When you’re a small agency you absolutely need to be focused in your purpose and I can assure you, we are.”
Dr Clark cited a lengthy list of achievements in less than a year of ASA operations.
It’s signed four memorandums of understanding with overseas agencies: CNES of France and with the Canadian, UK and UAE space agencies.
ASA has also represented Australia at a number of international space forums.
“We have been doing the simple job that the country asked us to do, which was to open the doors internationally, be one voice, and allow our researchers and industry through the doors that previously had been blocked or shut to them,” Dr Clark said.
In Australia, ASA has signed a number of statements of strategic intent to indicate its direction and seek strategic alignment from industry partners, Airbus, Sitael, Goonhilly, Boeing, Nova Systems, Lockheed Martin and Woodside.
Dr Clark said there was now $1.3bn worth of projects in the civil space pipeline, well up from a few hundred million of recent years.
Half those projects are in communications and ground infrastructure, while 20 per cent are in leapfrog research and development and another 20 per cent in positioning and navigation.
“I’m very encouraged by not just the amount of that pipeline, but where it’s actually going,” she said.
A number of launch licences were in the pipeline. Dr Clark said that was more than Australia has done in the last 40 years.
On the legislation front, Federal Parliament had passed the Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Act 2018and ASA has now started consultation on the associated regulations.
These will set out insurance requirements for launch or return with the objective of reducing the barriers to entry. (Source: Space Connect)
28 May 19. Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration to support ESA project. Space cameras to monitor the deployment of satellites and check the health of spacecraft will be developed under the Pioneer-IODA project by Swiss-based Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration. The contract falls under ESA’s Pioneer-IODA Partnership project, which helps companies to develop new technologies and demonstrate them in space – often a pre-requisite to their market acceptance. The initiative forms part of ESA’s program of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).
Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration has 20 years’ experience of developing lightweight, low cost, low power consumption cameras, making them ideal for use on satellites.
The company will now develop an imaging platform composed of several cameras and control electronics with advanced processing capabilities that can be configured for different applications, including the mapping and characterisation of space debris.
Stephane Beauvivre, chief executive of Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration, explained, “We are delighted to join the ESA ARTES Pioneer Partnership Project and to promote innovation in New Space in partnership and collaboration with Airbus as the prime of Pioneer-IODA.”
The Pioneer-IODA project comprises a ground segment and a space segment based on a customised OneWeb platform (also called the ArrOW platform) with multi-mission payload hosting capabilities.
“This opportunity allows us to demonstrate in orbit a complete payload and to characterise its behaviour in real space conditions, as well as its performance with several use cases. We are grateful to the institutional partners to support this initiative, allowing us to bring our innovations to the market,” Beauvivre added.
Claude Lorda, Airbus space project manager, said, “Following the success of the first six OneWeb satellites, we now see a much clearer path to further develop the potential of the ArrOW platform and its capabilities for hosting and demonstrating innovative technologies in orbit.”
Khalil Kably, ESA Pioneer Programme manager said, “The Pioneer Partnership Project is all about innovation validation in orbit, in the most cost-effective environment. We are delighted to support space champion partners who take up the challenge to achieve this, such as Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration.” (Source: Space Connect)
24 May 19. Link Microtek microwave rotary joint is key element of new Ka-band satcom-on-the-move antenna system from ADS International. A dual-channel Ka-band microwave rotary joint designed and produced by Link Microtek is playing a crucial role within a new stabilised antenna platform developed by Italian firm
ADS International S.r.l. (email@example.com) for high-end satcom-on-the-move (SOTM) applications. Typically mounted on vehicles for either commercial or military use, the new ADS system features a low-profile radome that houses a 4-port, wideband flat-panel waveguide-array antenna together with ancillary hardware. Operating at 19.2-21.2GHz in Rx and 29-31GHz in Tx, the dual circular polarisation system covering military and commercial Ka-band is ideal for the latest high-data-rate requirements and, being fully European made, is free from any ITAR/EAR restrictions. Key to the operation of the ADS antenna system are two of the Link Microtek rotary joints – one for azimuth and one for elevation – which enable RF signals to be fed from the static side of the system to its rotating side.
The central transmit channel of each rotary joint is implemented in WR28 waveguide and delivers up to 50W of microwave power (CW) over the frequency range 29 to 31GHz with an insertion loss of just 0.5dB and a VSWR of 1.3:1. This allows the signal from the BUC, which is connected to the system port, to be transferred through a waveguide transmission line all the way to the antenna, thus minimising losses.According to Steve Cranstone, managing director of Link Microtek, power loss is a major consideration in the system design. “To be able to transmit 50 watts at Ka-band frequencies, you need quite expensive amplifiers, so it is important not to lose too much of that power on the way to the antenna,” he said. “Using CST electromagnetic simulation software to verify the performance of the rotary joint design, our engineering team was able to ensure that the waveguide transmit channel would keep any loss to a minimum.”
The outer receive channel, meanwhile, uses SMA coaxial connectors to cover L-band frequencies from DC to 2.15GHz with a maximum CW power of 10W, as well as providing the DC voltage needed for powering the two LNBs which are located on the rotating side of the system, right on the back of the antenna with the aim of maximising the G/T. Isolation between the channels is greater than 35dB. Manufactured from aluminium, the rotary joints weigh only 160g and measure 49mm in length with a body diameter of 36mm and a flange diameter of 55mm. They have an operating temperature range of -40 to 55degC, satisfy the typical military environmental conditions of MIL-STD-810G and are tested to over 1 million rotations.
Steve Cranstone again: “The design and manufacture of this type of rotary joint presents a significant challenge in a number of ways. Inside each one are scores of tiny individual parts, which have to be crafted to high precision and tight tolerances before being carefully assembled by hand. Despite this intricate, almost watch-like design, they have to be robustly constructed to withstand the particular mechanical stresses associated with SOTM systems so that they deliver reliable long-term operation.”
For ADS, chief engineer Marco Formaggi said: “We have been delighted with the performance of the rotary joints supplied by Link Microtek. The company’s many years of experience and expertise in this field enabled it to satisfy all of our technical and commercial requirements and helped us produce an innovative antenna system employing the most advanced technology available.”
24 May 19. Amazon Web Services Reveals AWS Ground Station for Satellite Control and Data Delivery. Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), has announced the general availability of AWS Ground Station, a new service for customers to control satellites from AWS and download data from satellites into AWS Global Infrastructure Regions using a fully managed network of ground station antennas located around the world.
Once customers upload satellite commands and data through AWS Ground Station, they can quickly download large amounts of data over the high-speed AWS Ground Station network, immediately process it in an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance, store it in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), apply AWS analytics and machine learning services to gain insights, and use Amazon’s network to move the data to other regions and processing facilities.
Getting started with AWS Ground Station takes just a few clicks in the AWS Management Console to schedule antenna access time and launch an Amazon EC2 instance to communicate with the satellite. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments, no ground infrastructure to build or manage and customers pay-by-the-minute for antenna access time used. To get started with AWS Ground Station, visit https://aws.amazon.com/ground-station
Satellites are being used by more and more businesses, universities and governments for a variety of applications, including weather forecasting, surface imaging, and communications. To accomplish this today, customers must build or lease ground antennas to communicate with the satellites. This is a significant undertaking and cost as customers often require antennas in multiple countries to download data when and where they need it without waiting for the satellite to pass over a desired location.
The antennas are just the start of the infrastructure requirements as customers need servers, storage, and networking in close proximity to the antenna to process, store, and transport the data from the satellite. Then customers must build business rules and workflows to organize, structure, and route the data to employees or customers before it can be used to deliver value. This requires significant capital investments and operational costs to build, manage, and securely maintain antennas, compute infrastructure, and business logic at each antenna location.
AWS Ground Station allows customers to more easily and cost-effectively control satellite operations, ingest satellite data, and integrate the data with applications and other cloud services running in AWS.
Using AWS Ground Station, customers can save as much as 80 percent of their ground station costs by paying for antenna access time on demand and they can rely on AWS Ground Station’s growing global footprint of ground stations to downlink data when and where they need it. These ground stations are also located in close proximity to AWS Regions around the world, so customers can store, process, and analyze the data locally, rapidly gain insights, and then quickly take action.
The recency of data is particularly critical when it comes to tracking and acting upon fast-moving conditions on the ground. This timeliness depends on frequent communications between ground stations and satellites, which can only be achieved with a large, global footprint of antennas maintaining frequent contact with orbiting satellites. For example, as fast-moving environmental, geopolitical, or news events unfold on the ground, AWS Ground Station customers can downlink current data to any of the AWS ground stations around the world. Customers can get timely data sooner, rapidly experiment with new applications, and deliver products to market faster without buying, leasing, or maintaining complex and expensive antennas and infrastructure.
AWS Ground Station’s self-service graphical interface makes it easy to identify downlink opportunities, communications windows, and schedule antenna time. This enables customers to review confirmed times in the console and cancel or reschedule prior to the scheduled contact time.
Because AWS Ground Station antennas are located in close proximity to AWS Regions, customers have low-latency, local access to additional AWS services to process and store data. For example, they can use Amazon EC2 to control satellites and downlink data, store and share the data in Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS), or Amazon S3, use Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) for secure communications between Amazon EC2 instances and the AWS Ground Station antenna gateway, hunt for real-time business insights with Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce, apply machine learning algorithms and models with Amazon SageMaker, add image analysis with Amazon Rekognition, and improve data sets by combining satellite data with IoT sensor data from AWS IoT Greengrass. AWS Ground Station is available immediately in U.S. East (Ohio) and U.S. West (Oregon) and will expand to additional regions and locations in the coming year.
Shayn Hawthorne, GM, AWS Ground Station, said that satellite data offers customers a profound way to build applications that help humans explore space and improve life on Earth, but the cost and difficulty of building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to downlink and process the data has historically been prohibitive for all but the most well-funded organizations. The goal of AWS Ground Station is to make space communications ubiquitous and to make ground stations simple and easy to use, so that more organizations can derive insights from satellite data to help improve life on earth and embark on deeper exploration and discovery in space. Customers can rely on AWS Ground Station’s global footprint to downlink data when and where they need it, get timely data, and build new applications faster based on readily available satellite data, without having to buy, lease, and maintain complex and expensive infrastructure.
Dr. Walter Scott, Maxar’s CTO at Maxar Technologies, said the company is preparing for the launch of its next-generation satellite constellation, WorldView Legion, in 2021. The addition of WorldView Legion enables the firm to image the most rapidly changing areas on Earth more than 15 times per day and triple the company’s capacity to collect 30 cm, resolution imagery. AWS Ground Station will provide Maxar with more opportunities and capacity to downlink and analyze the large amount of data WorldView Legion will be sending back to Earth, enabling the firm to extract insights from the data for customers when and where it matters.
Thales Alenia Space, drawing on more than 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth Observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor Earth, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space is excited to collaborate with AWS to expand its New Space leading technologies to address the ground segment, including providing additional tools and features for AWS Ground Station customers. Viktoria Otero del Val, SVP Strategy, M&A and New Business Initiatives at Thales Alenia Space, added that the company integrates their innovative leading space technologies with the ones from partners within the firm’s ecosystem, such as AWS Ground Station, to help customers optimize the use of this planet’s — and the solar system’s — resources to help build a better, more sustainable life on Earth.
Myriota is a satellite IoT connectivity provider that enables customers to send small messages at ultra-low cost from anywhere on Earth. By securely delivering data direct to a constellation of LEO smallsats, Myriota’s unique patented and proven technology provides IoT connectivity in locations where terrestrial providers cannot operate, including oceans and the Australian outback. As an AWS Partner, Myriota is already using AWS for its processing and cloud-based delivery. Dr. David Haley,CTO for Myriota, noted that with massive scale, long battery life, and direct-to-orbit connectivity for IoT, Myriota is helping customers with vital applications, such as sensor telemetry, low-value asset tracking, and device monitoring and control. The AWS Ground Station Network provides an exciting opportunity to further increase operational efficiency and reliability for our customers at massive scale.
Capella Space is an information services company providing on-demand Earth Observation data via advanced space radar. Capella provides persistent, reliable, and affordable products and services through its constellation of 36 high-resolution, high-capacity Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites, which can see through clouds and at night, permitting imaging during bad weather or low light conditions. Payam Banazadeh, CEO of Capella Space, noted that the company is entering a new era of Earth Oobservation, with near real-time access to this changing world at the fingertips. Providing low-latency and actionable information from space is going to change how industries use space.The company is excited to be collaborating with Amazon on AWS Ground Station along with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Rekognition to provide persistent satellite monitoring, closing coverage gaps and delivering data that can save lives and protect the planet.
NSLComm helps lower size, weight, and power barriers for smallsat launches, designing and manufacturing space-qualified antennas that, once in space, unfold like parachutes to 10 times their original size, offering customers significantly more processing power and higher throughput than other smallsats. The small footprint and high throughput of NSLComm antennas reduce overall satellite launch load costs, increase transmission precision and power, and lower satellite data transmission price. Dr. Raz Itzhaki, founder and CEO of NSLComm, reported that the firm’s aspiration is to make smallsat communications more affordable. Low-cost, high-speed satellite communications can help provide, for example, better in-flight connectivity. NSLComm antennas open a wide array of new applications in the space market. The company is already collaborating with AWS by integrating NSLSat-1 and NSLComm constellation design with AWS Ground Station services to provide more affordable satellite control and telemetry to our customers.
D-Orbit’s core service is InOrbit NOW, a large-scale, space transportation service that delivers CubeSats into precise orbital slots, using ION CubeSat Carrier, a sort of cargo vehicle developed and operated by the company. Instead of simply unpacking a batch of cubesats in bulk into a single region of Earth’s orbit, ION CubeSat Carrier moves across orbits, depending on the operational requirements, and delivers each small satellite precisely where it is supposed to go. The company also offers a space control platform that supports the activities of ground control teams for multi-spacecraft satellite missions. D-Orbit is committed to promoting a positive environmental space impact, reducing the threat of space debris to Earth, and to opening space to a wide variety of business opportunities. Luca Rossettini, D-Orbit’s CEO, said that at D-Orbit, the aim is to preserve a profitable and sustainable space environment to meet the needs of customers, while making space safer for everyone. The company’s collaboration with AWS Ground Station, a remarkably flexible and scalable platform, is an essential element in our roadmap towards a space logistics infrastructure.
Open Cosmos provides simple and affordable small satellite missions to help solve the world’s biggest challenges and this enables organizations from across a wide range of industries to use space technologies as a tool. Open Cosmos removes barriers to space access by simplifying the technology, offering a one-stop-shop to orbit, and reducing both time and cost. Open Cosmos offers payload development and qualification services, provides end-to-end space missions, constellation services, and in-orbit demonstration services. Rafael Jordá Siquier, CEO and Founder of Open Cosmos, revealed that the company is working hard to disrupt the way the space industry operates and to open up this technology so people can truly engage in having a global impact. Whether it is a local government agency wanting to predict where the next wildfire might break out, an NGO wanting to deliver humanitarian aid, or a telecoms company launching a service in a remote area, the firm’s customers are having an immediate global impact with the company’s solutions. AWS Ground Station is perfectly aligned with the Open Cosmos mission as it helps the firm to enable customers to scale without any additional CAPEX or OPEX investments so that they can focus on innovation and speed instead of operational planning.
Spire Global Inc. is a data and analytics company that collects data from space to solve problems on Earth. Owning and operating one of the largest satellite constellations in the world, Spire identifies, tracks, and predicts the movement of the world’s resources and weather systems so that businesses and governments can make smart decisions. Peter Platzer, CEO, Spire Global Inc., indicated the company has witnessed a heightened awareness and an increasingly global need for satellite-based, Earth Observation data for business, especially in the fields of weather, maritime, and aviation. The flexibility of AWS Ground Station gives Spire the ability to satisfy that growing customer demand by flexibly augmenting the company’s own global ground network capabilities. With AWS, Spire Global can collaboratively build a platform for a new kind of data solution which is rapidly becoming an industry standard. (Source: Satnews)
23 May 19. First satellites for Musk’s Starlink internet venture launched into orbit. SpaceX, the private rocket company of high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched the first batch of 60 small satellites into low-Earth orbit on Thursday for Musk’s new Starlink internet service.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 10:30 p.m. local time (0230 GMT Friday), clearing a key hurdle for a business venture that Musk hopes will generate much-needed cash for his larger ambitions in space.
The launch came a week after two back-to-back countdowns for the mission were scrubbed – once due to high winds over the Cape and the next night in order to update satellite software and “triple-check” all systems.
The 60 satellites flown into space were released into orbit as planned about an hour after Thursday’s launch, and the Falcon 9’s main-stage reusable booster rocket flew back to Earth for a successful landing on a barge floating in the Atlantic.
SpaceX said it would probably take another day to learn whether all the satellites deployed were functioning properly. Each weighs about 500 pounds (227kg), making them the heaviest payload carried aloft by SpaceX to date.
They represent the initial phase of a planned constellation capable of beaming signals for high-speed internet service from space to paying customers around the globe.
Musk has said he sees the new Starlink venture as an important new revenue stream for his California-based Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, whose launch service income he expects to top out at around $3bn a year.
He told reporters last week that makes Starlink pivotal in helping pay for his larger goals of developing a new spacecraft to fly paying customers to the moon and for eventually trying to colonize Mars.
“We think this is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon,” said billionaire Musk, who is also chief executive officer of automaker Tesla Inc.
At least 12 launches carrying similar payloads are needed to achieve constant internet coverage of most of the world, Musk said. For now, Starlink is only authorized for U.S. operations.
Musk faces stiff competition. Airbus SE-backed OneWeb launched its own clutch of satellites in February, while LeoSat Enterprises and Canada’s Telesat are also working to build data networks.
In each network, the tiny satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a technological shift made possible by advances in laser technology and computer chips.
Musk said SpaceX would begin approaching customers later this year or next year. As many as 2,000 satellites will be launched per year, with the ultimate objective of placing up to 12,000 into orbit. (Source: Reuters)
24 May 19. Developing Australia’s anti-satellite capabilities as a deterrent. The increasing dependence and vulnerability of space-based intelligence, surveillance and communications assets, combined with the ever-advancing pace of anti-satellite technology, is opening avenues for Australia to leverage domestic expertise to develop a credible, cost-effective ‘multi-domain’ force multiplying, deterrence capability.
Australia’s rapidly modernising military capabilities has typically focused on developing traditional conventional air, land and sea-based capabilities, supported by enhanced Australian industry capability. While platforms like the Army’s growing web of integrated, networked platforms like the Boxer CRV, next-generation air and missile defence systems, Navy’s Hobart and Hunter Class ships, the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, P-8A Poseidon and the E-7A Wedgetail are individually highly capable platforms – their reliance on integrated, secure and highly capable space-based networks is a key weakness.
This vulnerability is not unique to Australia and its period of modernisation and capability development – rather, every modern military, including those of major powers like the US, Russia, China and India, are all equally dependent upon the uncontested access to their own integrated space-based communications, intelligence and surveillance networks.
Recognising this, each of these powers have begun to heavily invest in both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ kill methods for leveraging these vulnerabilities – in conjunction with advanced space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities – to protect their own vulnerable assets in the face of a simmering global space-arms race. Australia has maintained a long-term interest in SSA capabilities, signing an agreement to co-operate with the US in 2010, which serves as an avenue for Australian industry and Defence organisations to integrate as part of a new US strategic deterrence umbrella.
Dr Malcolm Davis, senior analyst from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, identified the changing dynamic of this next-generation space arms race, particularly given the advent of increasingly accessible nano-satellites and the growing traditional ‘counterspace’ capabilities, saying: “The cost of using space for benign or malign purposes is dropping, and there’s an accelerating proliferation of Space 2.0 technologies.
“In 2019, China and Russia are the two key counterspace threats in terms of traditional ASAT technologies. By 2035, the spread of technology that can be applied in an ASAT role, whether in space or from the ground, will mean the number of potential counterspace powers will grow rapidly, and Australia’s space capabilities will come under greater threat.”
Dr Davis elaborates, “Space is contested because peer adversaries such as China and Russia are developing a suite of counterspace capabilities, including co-orbital and direct ascent anti-satellite weapons, as well as ‘soft kill’ counterspace capabilities based around electronic warfare, cyber attack and, potentially, directed-energy weapons.”
It is important to identify as Dr Davies outlined to Defence Connect, “The best course of action for Australia is to consider a counterspace capability focused on developing a ‘soft kill’ system that doesn’t contribute to additional space debris.”
So how does Australia leverage its existing SSA and growing technological capabilities to develop its own counterspace capabilities? Given the nation’s expertise in SSA and specific technologies, namely hypersonics, what joint ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ kill anti-satellite system options are available to Australia?
Enhancing SSA and ‘soft kill’ capabilities
Australia’s world-leading SSA capabilities combined with renewed government focus on developing an offensive domestic cyber capabilities, domestic development of directed-energy weapons to ‘dazzle’ or ‘blind’ competitor space assets, and the nation’s growing electronic warfare capabilities provide avenues for Australia to develop a complementary ‘soft kill’ capability.
Australia’s world-leading JORN network and the Harold E Holt base outside of Geraldton in WA, combined with the continuing development of ionosphere scanning technology and the development of space-based tracking and related situational awareness capabilities by local companies, including EOS Systems, Sabre Astronautics and their joint participation in the US Space Fence program, additionally supports the nation’s push to develop a credible SSA and soft kill capability.
The rapid development of peer and near-competitor anti-satellite and counterspace capabilities, recently exemplified by the successful Indian anti-satellite weapons test and the resulting threat of space debris, requires the development of a robust and considered Australian response – enabling the nation to protect and deter its sovereign space interests while supporting the long-term development of Australia’s own sovereign space capabilities.
Last Resort: A joint Force ‘hard kill’ counterspace/anti-satellite capabilities
The modernisation of the ADF – namely the introduction of next-generation, multi-domain capabilities across each of the ADF’s branches – provides interesting avenues for Australia to develop a reliable, survivable and complementary counterspace and anti-satellite capability.
In particular, the Navy’s acquisition of advanced surface combatants, in the Aegis-powered Hobart and Hunter Class destroyers and frigates, serves as the basis of the sea-based leg of Australia’s own counterspace capability – albeit a final resort option given the dangers posed by space debris.
The power of the Aegis Combat System and continued upgrades in development and in-service with the US Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, in the form of ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability packages added into the Aegis system and advancing SPY radars supporting targeting and tracking by advanced SM-series missiles, provides avenues for Australia to leverage these capabilities in conjunction with the nation’s major strategic partner.
Developing and implementing these naval capabilities does require the modernisation of Australia’s Aegis fleet to incorporate the BMD capabilities, as well as the introduction of the SM-3 series missiles, provides the nation with a credible anti-satellite deterrent capability. Meanwhile, the nation’s recognised leading-edge phased-array radar and SSA capabilities through companies like CEA Technologies and EOS Systems provide further avenues for Australia to develop a niche, leading-edge capability to fulfil Australia’s unique tactical and strategic requirements.
Additionally, the planned acquisition of the integrated air-and-missile-defence and battle management system as part of AIR 6500 builds on examples of US Air Force from the early-1980s through to the early-2000s, which sought to combine ever increasing computational power from ground and space-based sensors to ‘shooter’ platforms, namely fighter and bomber aircraft equipped with advanced air-launched anti-satellite weapons systems.
Australia’s expertise in developing hypersonics, combined with the development of an integrated fifth-generation force on the back of the F-35, provides additional ‘last resort’ avenues for the nation to develop leading-edge technologies, approaches and doctrines for leveraging the ‘hard kill’ vulnerabilities of potential adversaries. (Source: Space Connect)
21 May 19. ULA’s Vulcan Centaur Rocket Completes System CDR Milestone. United Launch Alliance leaders and engineers completed an important milestone with the conclusion of the system Critical Design Review (CDR) for the company’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket — the system-level CDR is the final review of the design for the overall rocket.
The system CDR was a week-long detailed review of the entire Vulcan Centaur system with the primary focus to verify all of the elements will work properly together as a system. As part of the certification process with the U.S. Air Force, Air Force representatives are included as part of the design review.
When the first Vulcan Centaur rocket flies in less than two years, a high percentage of the rocket will have flown before on ULA’s Atlas launch vehicle including the fairing, upper stage engines in a dual configuration, avionics, software and solid rocket motors.
ULA and its suppliers have invested in and modernized the factory in Decatur, Alabama, bringing in state-of-the art manufacturing technologies. Flight hardware is already being built for the first flight, and the production is on schedule for the initial launch in 2021.
With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.
Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, said this is a tremendous accomplishment for the ULA team and a significant milestone in the development of a rocket — signaling the completion of the design phase and start of formal qualification. Vulcan Centaur is purpose built to meet all of the requirements of the nation’s space launch needs and its flight-proven design will transform the future of space launch and advance America’s superiority in space. ULA’s Atlas and Delta rockets have served as the backbone for American space launch for decades and the company’s next-generation rocket will advance this rich heritage. Vulcan Centaur will provide higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and precision. Vulcan Centaur brings together the best of Atlas and Delta technology, and the company is flying all of the major components that the firm can on Atlas V first to reduce the risk for ULA customers on the first flight. (Source: Satnews)
20 May 19. Earth to Sky Smallsat to Launch with Delta Satellite Solutions. Earth to Sky, Inc. (ETS) has inked a definitive launch services agreement with Delta Satellite Solutions, Inc. (DSS) — the launch will occur in March 2021 to 550km. SSO and will place 120 cubesats on-orbit. Delta Satellite Solutions is a provider of affordable rides and payload and satellite integration services for academic institutions and was founded with the intention of connecting the STEM world to engage in real world experiences for space exploration. Many universities and high schools provide the experience of designing, developing, and creating smallsats but few have the opportunity to put them in space.
Chris Barker, President of ETS, said the company is very excited to be working with DSS, supporting opportunities for educational institutions to fly cubesats. The company’s Sleek Eagle launch vehicle mated with the firm’s Cubesat Ring dispenser is capable of launching dozens of cubesats and other satellites on a single mission.
Evelyn Torres Bada, President of DSS, added that the educational market for cubesat missions is significantly underserved. 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. She added that the current high cost of flying cubesats, even as secondary payloads, has prohibited most from launching. The company’s price point is significantly under today’s costs and the firm plans to meet this large and growing need. DSS understands 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: Satnews)
20 May 19. An NSR Bottom Line: 5G — Real Satcom Opportunity or Trojan Horse? The next set of standards ruling mobile networks, 5G, has the potential to change the way we interact and perceive the world to make it a digital experience. Multiple exotic use cases have created a ton of buzz, sometimes highlighting capabilities that at first glance might seem incompatible with satellites. Can satellites participate in the 5G ecosystem? Are there tangible market opportunities for SATCOM in 5G, or is it just a continuation of an endless fight for spectrum?
Fact — 5G goes well beyond cellular and aims to offer a unified network architecture where all access technologies work in sync, be it fiber, microwave, satellite, or others. This must be the key takeaway for SATCOM as 5G opens a window of opportunity for seamlessly integrating within the mainstream telco ecosystem.
5G can certainly become the next driver of growth for SATCOM and, according to NSR’s Wireless Backhaul and 5G via Satellite, 13th Edition report, 1 out of every 3 new $ in capacity revenues for Backhaul in the next 10 years will be directly attributed to 5G.
Demystifying 5G and Latency
The Mobile industry has done an excellent job in communicating the many extravagant use cases that 5G will (eventually) enable. From monitoring every bit of information in millions of devices, to immersive video or autonomous vehicles, among others, 5G has and continues to feed ever rising expectations for a connected world. All these applications are aggregated into 3 different categories as per the ITU:
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband (basically faster speeds)
- Massive Machine Type Communications (IoT for everything, everywhere)
- Ultra-reliable and Low Latency Communications
Two out of the three families of applications can be perfectly served via satellite. Actually, satellites can offer an overlay to enhance network resiliency and achieve ultra-reliable communications so the only challenge for SATCOM is to serve low latency applications. Is this enough to disqualify SATCOM for 5G?
Performance targets need to have the correct context. Ultra-low latency requirements will be solved at the edge, without the need for backhauling traffic to the core. Otherwise, even terrestrial backhaul technologies would be unable to meet the 1 ms requirement. Similarly, the 20 Gbps peak data traffic is usually mentioned to question SATCOM capabilities to meet 5G requirements. However, this target is for hotspot areas, and the minimum user experience data rate for wide area coverage is fixed at 100 Mbps, a benchmark achievable by SATCOM today.
All in all, satellite can meet 5G requirements. In fact, 5G won’t realize its full potential without satellite as it will be a key enabling technology in use cases like mobility or ubiquitous connectivity. The true benefit of 5G for satellite is that it opens the opportunity to seamlessly integrate with ground networks. But for this vision to materialize, it is vital for the future of the industry to ensure that 5G protocols can work seamlessly over satellite networks.
The industry has taken this very seriously, and numerous actors actively participate in the 3GPP standards discussions with the objective to make satcom transparent and very easy to adopt by MNOs.
Finding Opportunities in the Hype
NSR is confident 5G will generate numerous opportunities for the industry. 5G Cellular Backhaul and Hybrid Networks alone will generate close to $1bn in satellite capacity revenues by 2028. Despite the excitement around 5G, this will take time to develop, and the market impact won’t be noticeable before the second half of 2020s. The good thing is that the key use cases for satellite in 5G can be stimulated, and sometimes even captured, today:
Backhaul: Beyond the traditional connectivity to remote locations, an easier integration with terrestrial networks could help develop new use cases like network resiliency, emergency response, IoT and network offload.
Trunking: A long-established application that could see a boost with the arrival of 5G. Mobility: While 5G puts a lot of focus on connecting vehicles, there will be many instances where this would need to be complemented by satellite.
Hybrid Networks: With capabilities moving to the edge, the explosion of OTT services and the transition to higher quality video, satellite will see the opportunity to multicast content to edge servers.
Furthermore, 5G can have peripheral benefits such as accelerating the phase out of 2G and 3G networks pushing 4G further into rural areas where satellite plays a key role in the Backhaul mix.
The Hidden Risks of Spectrum Reassignment
While most of the interests around 5G between SATCOM and terrestrial align, the eternal discussion for spectrum is hotter than ever. Even in this point, terrestrial 5G and SATCOM could find ways to work together, for instance with the proposal by the C-Band Alliance to share spectrum and accelerate the deployment of 5G via a private auction process for interested entities to seek access to the cleared spectrum. While this seems to be a win-win proposal for terrestrial and satellite operators, the indirect implications for SATCOM need to be studied carefully.
With C-band fill rates over North America around 60 percent, the C-Band Alliance proposal to reassign 40 percent of the spectrum doesn’t seem to be a big disruptor of the supply-demand dynamics in the region once factors like enhanced compression, migration to higher bands and additional satellite supply (CBA announced operators would launch 8 additional satellites to re-allocate demand) are taken into consideration.
The windfall for operators with C-band over the U.S. of a private auction are potentially very large. Not only do “Status Quo” demand forecasts (if there were no spectrum reallocation) trend downwards, but the 2017-2027 North America C-Band Cumulative Capacity revenue forecast of $4bn pales by comparison with the $30bn estimated value for the 180 MHz the CBA wants to repurpose for 5G terrestrial operators. Another question is what percentage of the spectrum value will satellite operators be allowed to capture?
In any case, this proposal has big risks that might have not been analyzed with enough perspective. Beyond the contagion effect towards other regions, this can have a tremendous destabilization impact on the industry. Acknowledging that the value of spectrum can be much higher than the capacity revenues directly generated by C-band leases, Satellite Operators can become very competitive on capacity pricing to boost their market share and claim a higher share of the rights over compensation for spectrum reassignment.
5G and SATCOM are symbiotic. 5G needs satellite to realize its promises, and satellite can find solid opportunities seemingly integrating with the general telecom ecosystem. While some of the most touted performance requirements for 5G seem to disqualify satellite (latency, throughput), the reality is that satellite will be a key enabling technology in the 5G ecosystem.
5G will not only accelerate growth in traditional use cases like Backhaul and Trunking, but it has the potential to unlock new verticals like vehicle connectivity or Hybrid Networks. Secondary effects like new levels of expectations for connectivity in rural areas will also be beneficial.
C-band reassignment is a double-edged sword. While the windfall can be very generous (if governments really let it happen), there is certain contagion risk and, more importantly, it can add further instabilities to a market with enormous pressure already.
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This analysis and article were authored by Lluc Palerm-Serra, NSR Senior Analyst, Spain.
Mr. Palerm joined NSR as an analyst in 2015. His primary areas of focus are Satellite Broadband and Ground Segment covering key growth areas such as new markets unlocked by HTS, opportunities opened by innovations in ground segment, how SatCom integrates in the telecom ecosystem, Enterprise VSAT, Consumer Broadband or Cellular Backhaul. He is the lead author for NSR’s VSAT and Broadband Satellite Markets (VBSM) report, industry’s unique Commercial Satellite Ground Segment (CSGS) report, and Wireless Backhaul via Satellite (WBS) report. Mr. Palerm regularly participates in consulting projects related to demand forecast for new satellite systems, new markets entry strategy or ground segment equipment and services demand for emerging opportunities among others.
Prior to joining NSR, Mr. Palerm worked at Zero2Infinity in technical and business roles. While involved in the startup, he worked in the mission analysis for the company’s microsat launcher project and leaded the development of a rocket engine prototype successfully tested. He also contributed to the project’s business plan with market research and financial assessment. Lluc undertook fund raising efforts and built the relation with customers. Graduated as an Aerospace Engineer from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (2011), he collaborated with one of its research centers developing CFD codes (CTTC). Afterwards, he received a Master in Management from ESADE Business School (2012) specializing in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. (Source: Satnews)
20 May 19. Arianespace Signs On to Launch the Spanish EO Satellite SEOSat for ESA. Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA/Earth Observation Programs directorate) have signed a launch services contract with a Vega launcher for SEOSat (Spanish Earth Observation SATellite) for Spain’s Center for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI – Centro para el Desarrollo Technologico Industrial). SEOSat/Ingenio is a high-resolution optical imaging mission of Spain — the flagship mission of the Spanish Space Strategic Plan. The satellite will be launched along with the French CNES space agency’s TARANIS satellite aboard a Vega launch vehicle in the first semester of 2020 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).
The satellite will have a mass at liftoff of approximately 840 kg. and will be placed in SSO at an altitude of about 670 km.
The SEOSat/Ingenio mission is devoted to providing high resolution multi-spectral land optical images to different Spanish civil, institutional and government users, and potentially to other European users in the framework of the European Copernicus program and GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems).
The overall mission objective is to provide information for applications in cartography, land use, urban management, water management, environmental monitoring, risk management and security.
CDTI is funding the mission and has responsibility for programmatic aspects of the program. The project development managed by ESA as support to a national mission in the context of the European Earth Observation Architecture. A launch services procurement assistance agreement to this effect was signed between ESA and CDTI in Madrid on May 17, 2019. Within the agreement, CDTI has entrusted ESA with the technical and contractual management of the industrial activities, thus being in charge of the procurement of the SEOSat/Ingenio system’s space and ground segments.
The SEOSat/Ingenio spacecraft is the first built by an industrial consortium of the Spanish space sector companies led by Airbus Defense and Space/Spain.
Following the contract signature, Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA said that the company is happy to sign the agreement with CDTI and the contract with Arianespace. This marks a strong cooperation with Spain in the field of Earth Observation with the ESA support to the development of the SEOSat national mission. The firm looks forward to launch early next year and to complement with SEOSat/Ingenio the European Earth Observation Architecture and to add another mission to the Third Party Missions portfolio of ESA.
Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, added that the company is delighted Arianespace has been selected by ESA to launch SEOSat/Ingenio, reinforcing the firm’s relationship with Spain — a country that also is very involved in European launcher programs. Orbiting this satellite for the benefit of Spanish and European citizens — on a Vega launcher together with another institutional mission for France — reasserts Arianespace primary mission: ensuring European independent access to space. (Source: Satnews)
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