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21 Jun 19. South Australian budget continues investment in space sector. South Australia is boosting its credentials as Australia’s space state with the state’s budget allocating an extra $600,000 to help entice international space companies to set up in Adelaide.
SA Premier Steven Marshall said the Lot Fourteen high technology precinct, the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, will be a hub for world-class research to drive technological innovation.
The development of Lot Fourteen is a joint project of the SA and federal governments though the 10-year, $551m Adelaide City Deal.
“Lot Fourteen is being rapidly transformed into the innovation capital of the nation, with the Australian Space Agency, SmartSat CRC, Mission Control and the Space Discovery Centre all to call Adelaide home,” Premier Marshall said.
“When combined, these developments represent a total investment of close to $300m, placing South Australia in the perfect position to support the federal government’s objective to triple the size of Australia’s space economy to $12bn by 2030.”
Premier Marshall said this was attracting companies from across the defence, space and cyber sectors to establish themselves at Lot Fourteen and take advantage of the unparalleled collaborative opportunities on offer.
“The federal government and state government’s enormous investment in Lot Fourteen has enhanced South Australia as a highly attractive place to invest in the industries of the future,” he said.
The new funding is on top of $1 m to support the Australian Space Agency, which was established last year, and $300m of investment under way in the space industry.
The SA budget also provided support for six SA-based National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities, some with particular application to the space sector.
That’s the Australian National Fabrication Facility, which produces high-tech optical components and devices, and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, which provides Australian land observations to measure changes in Australia’s land-based ecosystem biodiversity.
SA Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said this investment in facilities would allow the state’s brightest minds to be at the forefront of Australia’s innovation and science research agenda.
“South Australia’s growth in the space, defence and cyber sectors is complementary to the investments being made in the national innovation and science agenda,” he said.
19 Jun 19. To strengthen collaboration and integration across its portfolio, Boeing [NYSE: BA] is relocating the headquarters of its Space and Launch division to Titusville, on Florida’s revitalized Space Coast.
Space and Launch, a division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, currently has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
“Looking to the future, this storied Florida space community will be the center of gravity for Boeing’s space programs as we continue to build our company’s leadership beyond gravity,” said Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and Chief Executive Officer Leanne Caret. “The time is right for us to locate our space headquarters where so much of our space history was made over the past six decades and where so much history awaits.”
In announcing the relocation of the headquarters to a region that includes Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base, Boeing leaders said the timing of the move makes sense for multiple reasons:
— The Boeing-built X-37B uncrewed, reusable space vehicle continues to perform record-setting, long-duration missions for the U.S. Air Force.
— Boeing’s satellite programs anticipate increased tempo in local payload processing and launch activity.
— The company is enhancing its focus on mission integration and launch system operations in collaboration with Air Force partners nearby at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, and strengthening relationships with Air Force Space Command in Colorado and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
— The CST-100 Starliner commercial spacecraft is preparing for two flight tests later this year ahead of operational missions to the International Space Station beginning in 2020.
— Boeing continues to achieve milestones toward delivery of the first two core stages of the world’s most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System, for uncrewed and crewed missions to the moon’s orbit leading to the first crewed lunar surface landing in 50 years, and then to Mars.
— The International Space Station is poised to follow NASA’s road map for commercialization of low Earth orbit, even as this national laboratory is positioned for continued scientific and technological research until at least 2030.
— The United Launch Alliance joint venture continues to meet vital launch needs for national security, scientific and telecommunications missions through its Atlas and Delta rockets, while entering the formal qualification phase for the new Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.
— Boeing is studying and advancing future space capabilities in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“Boeing has been a dominant presence on the Space Coast for six decades, and this move represents a continuation of that legacy and future commitment,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Space and Launch. “Expanding our Boeing presence on the Space Coast brings tremendous value for our commercial and government space programs through focused leadership, strategic investment, customer proximity and additional contributions to the vitality of the region.”
The headquarters move will have no impact on Boeing’s space operations in other states, including California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana.
“Boeing will continue to be a dynamic space presence in its existing locations, contributing to the vitality of those aerospace hubs, collaborating with our regional partners, and inspiring future generations of space engineers, technicians and innovators,” Chilton said.
19 Jun 19. USMC to test drone-killing laser weapon. The U.S. Marine Corps is testing a prototype laser weapon that could be used by war fighters on the ground to counter enemy drones, according to a Wednesday news release.
The prototype Compact Laser Weapons System — or CLaWS — is the first ground-based laser approved by the Defense Department for use by ground troops, the Marine Corps explained.
The program is on a rapid prototyping, rapid delivery track, the service said.
“This project, from start to finish — from when we awarded the DOTC [Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium] contract, to getting all the integration complete, all the testing complete, getting the Marines trained, and getting the systems ready to deploy — took about one year,” said Lt. Col. Ho Lee, product manager for ground-based air defense future weapons systems at Program Executive Office Land Systems.
The Defense Department believes lasers are a more affordable alternative to traditional firepower and that they prevent drones from tracking and targeting Marines on the ground. The release notes the laser is not a standalone weapon, but is meant to serve as part of a larger counter-drone system.
If the prototype is successful, it could be incorporated into fixed-site and mobile capabilities designed to counter unmanned aircraft, the Marine Corps said.
The Army and Navy are also exploring the possibilities of laser technology. (Source: Defense News)
19 Jun 19. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design dual small deep space spacecraft to visit near-earth asteroids in a mission called Janus, led by the University of Colorado Boulder. One of NASA’s Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) finalists, Janus is designed to fly by two binary asteroids, or asteroids orbiting a common center of mass, to image the system using both visible and infrared cameras. These small satellites will launch in 2022 to reach the asteroid system in 2026.
“We are excited to partner with University of Colorado on this challenging mission to be among the first small sats to return science data from beyond Earth orbit,” said Chris McCaa, Janus program manager at Lockheed Martin Space. “Janus will provide the opportunity to blend our long heritage of mission success in deep space with the small sat paradigm, helping to pave the way for a new generation of deep space explorers. Combining our track record of delivering on principal investigator-led missions and the caliber of this science team will give us all a greater understanding of the working of our Solar System.”
Downselected for this next phase of NASA’s SIMPLEx program, Lockheed Martin will be working toward preliminary design review. SIMPLEx is a cost-capped program focusing science investigations on any Solar System body, except for the Earth and the Sun, using small spacecraft lighter than 180 kg. The Janus mission is designed to meet these requirements. The mission will investigate how binary asteroids form and evaluate existing theories of how these constantly changing systems evolve.
Deep space missions present challenges beyond what the typical small sat mission encounters in low-Earth orbit. For example, power systems must handle a range of Sun distances and telecommunication systems need to be able to transmit over long distances and be compatible with the Deep Space Network. Lockheed Martin brings the experience of deep space exploration system integration into the design of these ESPA-class, dual small satellites weighing in at about 40 kg each.
“All deep space missions require a balance of reliability and schedule assurance to be successful and, unlike a mission to low-Earth orbit, you must meet the planetary launch window. The asteroids won’t wait for us,” said McCaa. “To meet those challenges, we will be applying proven methods from missions such as OSIRIS-REx and Lucy as well as leveraging lessons learned while developing other small sat missions such as LunIR.”
The Janus mission is led by Principal Investigator Dan Scheeres of University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder, Colorado. If selected in the final stage, Lockheed Martin Space will design and build the spacecraft and provide mission operations after launch. Malin Space Science Systems will provide the instrument suite including visible and infrared cameras. The selected investigations will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
18 Jun 19. UNOOSA signs MoU with Ministry of Digital Development, Defence and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan. On the margins of the 62nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Digital Development, Defence and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan to cooperate in the use of space-based information, space science, technology and applications for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In particular, the two parties will work together on the use of space-based information to support the full disaster management cycle. They will jointly facilitate innovation in the space sector and work together on capacity-building activities, including through enhancing the skills of scientists, students and other specialists in the space sector, as well as facilitating their participation in joint scientific research activities and projects.
UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “UNOOSA is proud to have signed this MoU with the Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a country with an illustrious tradition in enabling space exploration and innovation. Together, we will promote further innovation in the sector and we will help humanity leverage the full potential of space science and applications, which keeps growing every day, for fostering sustainable development”.
The Vice Minister of Digital Development, Defence and Aerospace industry of Kazakhstan, Marat Nurguzhin, said: “This MoU will be a good basis for the development of cooperation between the Ministry and the United Nations in the field of outer space activities”. (Source: Google/http://spaceref.com)
19 Jun 19. Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, has announced that the company has been awarded a responsive launch prototype contract from the Department of Defense (DOD), facilitated by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
SpinLaunch is developing a kinetic energy-based launch system that will provide the world’s lowest-cost orbital launch services for the rapidly growing small satellite industry. In 2018, the company received $40m in a Series A financing round from Airbus Ventures, Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.
The recently published State of the Space Industrial Base states that the future and growth of the U.S. space economy is “critically dependent on continuing reductions in the costs and risks associated with launch. There is a bifurcation of launch providers between lower-cost, ‘bulk’ carriers…and higher-cost, ‘niche’ providers offering lower lift-mass, but launch to a specific orbit.”
“SpinLaunch fills this gap by providing dedicated orbital launch with high frequency at a magnitude lower cost than any current ‘niche’ launch system,” stated Yaney. “This will truly be a disruptive enabler for the emerging commercial space industry. There is a promising market surge in the demand for LEO constellations of inexpensive small satellites for disaster monitoring, weather, reconnaissance, communications and other services.”
In January 2019, SpinLaunch moved from Silicon Valley to its new 140,000 square foot headquarters in Long Beach, California and last month broke ground on a new $7m test facility on 10 acres at New Mexico’s Spaceport America. First kinetic energy flight tests are expected to occur early 2020 and the company has announced its plans for first launch by 2022. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Jun 19. Luxembourg Space Agency approves €1m grant for Kleos. ASX-listed Kleos Space has confirmed that the Luxembourg Space Agency has approved an additional €1m ($1.63m) financial grant (non-equity) support for data product development. With the funding support approval from the Luxembourg Space Agency, Kleos has entered the European Space Agency Business Applications program process and aims to be on contract with initial funding receipts by the end of 2019.
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space said, “The Luxembourg Space Agency ecosystem is highly supportive of commercial enterprises, assisting with product development financing and also licencing.”
Currently, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is home to approximately 50 space companies and research labs. The space sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP is among the highest ratios in Europe.
The country’s expertise in international finance and dedicated funding resources foster the sustainable and ongoing development of the country’s space capabilities. The funding, conditional on successful launch of the Kleos Scouting Mission, will be applied towards further developing Kleos data products, enhancing capability and increasing revenues. 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 first Kleos Space satellite system, known as Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM), will deliver commercially available data and perform as a technology demonstration. KSM will be the keystone for a later global high capacity constellation. (Source: Space Connect)
19 Jun 19. SaT5G project announces successful demonstrations of 5G over satellite use cases at EuCNC 2019 event in Valencia. The SaT5G project today announced the operation of a number of successful demonstrations of 5G over satellite at the 2019 European Conference on Networks and Communications (EuCNC 2019) in Valencia, Spain.
The project vision is to develop a cost-effective plug-and-play satcom solution for 5G to enable mobile operators and network vendors to accelerate 5G deployment across all geographies and multiple use cases whilst at the same time creating new and growing market opportunities for satcom industry stakeholders.
Over-the-air MEC-based layered video streaming over a 5G multilink satellite and terrestrial network
The demonstration showcases a network which integrates 5G over parallel satellite and terrestrial delivery paths to provide enhanced Quality of Experience (QoE) for users consuming 4K video content. The innovative demonstration highlights how a Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) proxy can incorporate bit-rate adaptation, link selection and enhance layered video streams for future satellite and terrestrial integrated networks. The demonstration is undertaken in partnership with Avanti’s high-throughput HYLAS 4 GEO satellite capacity, University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre testbed network and VT iDirect’s 5G-enabled satellite hub platform and satellite terminals.
Over-the-air multicast over satellite video for caching and live content delivery
The demonstration showcases over-the-air satellite multicast technology for the delivery of live channels using a MEC platform for Content Delivery Network (CDN) integration with efficient edge content delivery. The demonstration highlights the benefits, in terms of bandwidth efficiency and delivery cost, of using a satellite-enabled link for provisioning live content in a 5G system. The demonstration is undertaken in partnership with Avanti’s high-throughput HYLAS 4 GEO satellite capacity, Broadpeak’s CDN, University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre testbed network and VT iDirect’s 5G-enabled satellite hub platform and satellite terminals.
Video demonstration for delivery of 5G connectivity services to airline passengers
The demonstration showcases 5G technology aboard aircraft, leveraging virtualized services for content distribution. An integrated approach for the delivery of 5G connectivity services based on a Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satcom solution will be introduced. The innovation targets the next-generation inflight entertainment services to passengers and connectivity solutions for airplanes with a combined satellite and terrestrial 5G network. The demonstration is undertaken in partnership with Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ virtualised A320 airplane cabin mock-up and connectivity infrastructure, Broadpeak’s content delivery platform, Gilat Satellite Networks’ Taurus VSAT unit and virtualised satellite hub, i2CAT’s terrestrial satellite resource coordinator (TALENT), Quortus’ mobile network core, and SES’s low-latency high-throughput O3b MEO satellite constellation.
Demonstration of local (MEC) content caching in 5G with hybrid backhaul network
Using a satellite emulator testbed, TNO demonstrates local access using an established satellite and terrestrial backhaul link with User Plane Function (UPF) located at a MEC node for content delivery. The UPF in the MEC node is used to handle requests for the local content with the ability to optimally select between satellite or terrestrial links depending on available capacity, network policy, link performance and the type of end-user profile. The innovation lies with the ability to set up connections for downloading content with the DASH Enabled Network Element (DANE) collocated with UPF, which can now handle both satellite and terrestrial links simultaneously.
Video demonstration of 5G New Radio (NR) over satellite networks
The University of Oulu demonstration jointly defined with Thales Alenia Space shows that with some modifications, it is possible to apply 5G NR over satellite links for future satellite systems. As listed in 3GPP TR 38.811, the key issues that need addressing include higher latency and increased Doppler shift. The demo concentrates on the uplink random access process.
Demonstration of Hybrid 5G Backhauling to extend services for rural markets and large-gathering events
The Ekinops demonstration showcases how a standard 5G User Equipment (UE) leverages a hybrid backhaul and validates the performance required by 5G services, including packet loss mitigation and remediation. The solution provides tangible measurements of very high QoE achieved by combining satellite-terrestrial links bandwidths for fast upload and download traffic and the terrestrial link low latency for interactive traffic. The demonstrated 5G-hybrid backhaul relies on state-of-the-art multipath protocols and shows satellite as a viable backhaul link for 5G service.
18 Jun 19. Collaboration between space agencies sets precedent. President of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hiroshi Yamakawa was welcomed to the 282nd meeting of the European Space Agency Council – held at ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
For decades, the European Space Agency and JAXA have worked in close collaboration to better understand the universe. From Earth observation missions to spacecraft exploring Martian moons, Mercury or distant asteroids, ESA and JAXA continue to show how international co-operation makes space exploration more effective and ultimately more successful. On his first visit to ESA mission control, Yamakawa delivered a presentation highlighting 40 years of co-operation between ESA and JAXA, most recently illustrated by the launch of BepiColombo, the joint ESA-JAXA mission currently en route to Mercury.
Rolf Densing, ESA’s director of operations, said, “We are thrilled to welcome president Yamakawa into the heart of Europe’s mission control centre. Our agencies have achieved a great deal together so far, and we are looking forward to many more shared adventures in future.”
The European and Japanese space agencies also recognised the huge importance of space missions to deliver better understanding of our changing planet by gathering data crucial for Earth science and for tackling climate change.
The joint ESA-JAXA EarthCARE satellite will include four cutting-edge sensors, including the first Doppler radar in space, the Cloud Profiling Radar, provided by JAXA. As well as providing this critical instrument, JAXA will be responsible for a portion of the science data processing and distribution, ensuring the information can be used by scientists worldwide.
Similarly, ESA is distributing data from JAXA’s GOSAT-1 and -2 satellites across Europe, both providing critical new information on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
During the ESA Council meeting in Darmstadt, ESA director general Jan Wörner and Yamakawa signed an agreement on XRISM – the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission – which will study extremely energetic phenomena in the universe.
XRISM will be launched in the early 2020s from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, with hardware components and support for science management and planning provided by ESA. In return, ESA will be granted observation time, to be allocated to scientists affiliated to institutions in ESA member states.
Wörner welcomed the continuing collaboration, saying, “While competition is undeniably a driver, co-operation can be a powerful enabler. In the co-operation with JAXA, the European Space Agency demonstrates its expertise in international partnership.”
On the ground, ESA and JAXA are planning a feasibility study for a much-needed new antenna, which would increase capacity to communicate with future missions.
Deep-space communication is vital to the success of all missions. ESA ground stations supported JAXA’s Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, which arrived at asteroid Ryugu last year.
The two agency leaders also recognised the importance of space safety activities to protect people, the planet and global space infrastructure from hazards such as near-Earth asteroids, space weather and space debris, as well as cyber-security threats originating on Earth.
“Together, we travel further, explore deeper and understand the universe and ourselves better,” said Wörner. (Source: Space Connect)
17 Jun 19. Deep Learning Model Automates Satellite Image Analysis. Lockheed Martin announced it has developed a satellite imagery recognition system named Global Automated Target Recognition (GATR). This system uses open-source deep learning libraries to quickly identify and classify objects or targets in large areas across the world. This might save image analysts countless hours of manually categorizing and labeling items within an image. GATR runs in the cloud, using Maxar’s Geospatial Big Data platform
(GBDX) to access Maxar’s 100 petabyte satellite imagery library and millions of curated data labels across dozens of categories that expedite the training of deep learning algorithms. GATR learns by itself what the identifying characteristics of an object area or target are, for example, learning how to distinguish between a cargo plane and a military transport jet. The system scales quickly to scan large areas, including entire countries. GATR uses deep learning techniques common in the commercial sector and can identify ships, airplanes, buildings, sea- ports, and other structures. So far the system has shown a high accuracy rate of well over 90% on the models the company has tested so far. It only took two hours to search the entire state of Pennsylvania for fracking sites – that is 120,000 square kilometers, Lockheed Martin stated.
“There is more commercial satellite data than ever available today, and up until now, identifying objects has been a largely manual process,” said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Mission Solutions. “Artificial Intelligence models like GATR keep analysts in control while letting them focus on higher-level tasks.” “I am not an expert on what oil production sites are, and I don’t have to be,” added Mark Pritt, principle investigator for GATR at Lockheed Martin. “This system teaches itself the defining characteristics of an object, saving valuable time training an algorithm and ultimately letting an image analyst focus more on their mission.” GATR builds on research Pritt’s team pioneered during a Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) challenge, called the “Functional Map of the World.”
Connected Airborne Battlespace Scenario (df) Airbus announced a successfully completed flight demonstration of a connected airborne battlespace scenario, centred on a MRTT aircraft. The test was carried out as part of the development of Airbus’ Network for the Sky (NFTS) programme. This follows on from last August’s demonstration in Canada of secure mobile communications using a stratospheric balloon to simulate a HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo Satellite), such as Airbus’ Zephyr UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). NFTS combines various technologies – satellite and ground communications, air-toground, ground-to-air and air-to-air tactical links, 5G mobile communications and laser connections – in a resilient and interoperable mesh network. For this demonstration an MRTT aircraft had been equipped with Janus, Airbus’ new tri-band (Ku-Ka-MilKa) satellite antenna, as well as the latest version of the Proteus satellite modem, which is highly resilient against interference and jamming, and Airbus’ aircraft links integration management system (ALIMS). This exercise paves the way for the development of the core capability for SMART MRTT connectivity, which will allow the MRTT to act as a high-end communication node. Network for the Sky (NFTS) sets the foundation for the connected airborne battlespace, with the objective to offer a full operational capability by 2020. The NFTS programme is part of Airbus’ Future Air Power project and, according to the company, it is fully aligned with the development of the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS). (Source: ESD Spotlight)
17 Jun 19. The U.S. Air Force’s fifth Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) built Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite (AEHF-5) completed encapsulation into its payload fairing in preparation to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its launch window is currently scheduled to open at 6:00 a.m. EDT on June 27.
AEHF-5 is the most recent addition to the constellation that provides global, survivable, highly secure and protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms.
This fifth satellite will add another layer of flexibility for provision critical strategic and tactical protected communications to the warfighter. This added resilience to the existing constellation will help ensure warfighters can connect globally to communicate and transmit data at all times.
“The team has worked exceptionally hard to get us where we are today, preparing to launch SV5 less than a year after we launched SV4, and I am proud of their contributions to the program,” said Mike Cacheiro, vice president for Protected Communications at Lockheed Martin Space. “This is the result of commitment and dedication from the entire AEHF team and our partners at the US Air Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center.”
Lockheed Martin developed and manufactured the satellite at their production facility located in Sunnyvale, California. After the satellite was built, it shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station courtesy of a C-5 aircraft from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base.
The AEHF team is led by the Military Satellite Communications Directorate at the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the AEHF.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
17 Jun 19. XTEK, Skykraft sign agreement for composite spacecraft and launch systems. Defence technology company XTEK, a specialist in composite materials and structures, has signed a memorandum of understanding with space company Skykraft to jointly develop a range of new small spacecraft and launcher systems.
Both companies are based in Canberra. For XTEK, this represents a first significant step into the space sector. XTEK managing director Philippe Odouard said the agreement with Skykraft would provide an opportunity to expand their target market.
“This deal represents a significant commercialisation milestone for our composite capabilities and provides us with a good opportunity to work closely with Skykraft on some exciting space solutions,” he said.
“Importantly, it provides a valuable opportunity for us to expand our capabilities and presence beyond defence and into the growing Australian space composites sector.”
Skykraft grew out of the University of NSW Canberra Space and comprises a team of academic and professional staff, specialising in satellite research, design, manufacture, testing, launch and ongoing orbital maintenance.
The company has $20m invested and has conducted eight satellite missions.
“Skykraft has the experience and skills necessary to conceptualise, innovate and design, build, test and operate entire space missions including constellations. Our area of speciality is spacecraft up to 180 kilograms in size that allow the delivery of real world actionable information,” Skykraft says on its website.
Under the new agreement terms, XTEK and Skykraft will work together to develop the hardware and identify opportunities for supply of products from XTEK’s production facility. XTEK will develop advanced composite fibre-reinforced-plastic required for the spacecraft, and will manage design and processing technologies of components.
The company has already started work on a lightweight carbon fibre satellite structure for Skykraft. That would be produced using XTclave composite curing technology delivered from its engineering facility in South Australia.
XTEK initially developed this technology for producing advanced ballistic protection laminates for soldier body armour and it enables production of lighter, stronger and stiffer composite items.
XTEK’s main business is in the defence sector but it has been increasingly interested in using its composites capability for other applications.
For space, the advantages are high strength to weight ratios and a reduction in outgassing. That’s where plastics release volatile gases and is a particular problem in the vacuum of space.
Odouard said XTEK planned to create a space composites design and production capability at a new factory. (Source: Space Connect)
13 Jun 19. Blue Canyon Technologies’ Dozen Spacecraft Doing Their Various Jobs. Success Results in a Larger Production Facility.
Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), a small satellite manufacturer, now has a total of 12 spacecraft on-orbit since the launch of its most recent satellite deployed earlier this year, and all of the spacecraft buses are operational and in various stages of mission operations.
Currently BCT is building more than 60 spacecraft for government, commercial and academic missions. Many of these 60 spacecraft are planned for launch in the second half of 2019.
In May the company announced it will provide 12 precision pointing platforms, built on the company’s FleXcore™ product, to Capella Space, an information services company providing Earth observation data on demand.
Highlights from some of the company’s recent launches include:
- Several 6U spacecraft for NASA-sponsored programs for Earth-observation and deep space science
- Multiple Microsats and 6U spacecraft for government sponsored programs
With their healthy business comes the need for ample space to produce the satellites. As a result Blue Canyon Technologies has doubled in size over the past 12 months and plans to open its new 80,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility next year. (Source: Satnews)
17 Jun 19. The Automatic Target Recognition/Automatic Target Identification Capability (ATR/ATID) developed by Danish Defense and Security company Terma on a contract with NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Management Agency (NAGSMA) has successfully passed the Formal Verification and Security Accreditation. The system is now installed at the operational site at Sigonella Airbase at Sicily.
The delivery of the system is implemented according to the contractual schedule.
The ATR/ATID Capability will assist the operators in the control room in interpreting Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from the remote-controlled Global Hawk aircraft using Artificial Intelligence techniques.
”The ATR/ATID Capability developed by Terma will provide increased intelligence data processing for the NATO AGS operators in the surveillance of large areas,“ says NAGSMA General Manager Volker Samanns.
“It also shows the specific competences of Terma in developing and managing demanding software projects together with NAGSMA”, he added.
“To fulfill this exiting program, Terma has brought several of our core competences within radar technology and signal processing in play, and I’m convinced it will benefit the operational value of the NATO AGS system”, says Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Steen M. Lynenskjold, Terma.
The next step in Terma’s involvement is to secure a complete integration of the ATR/ATID Capability into the AGS Core system which is in the process of being delivered and installed this year. According to plans, this will be finalized end of 2020. (Source: Satnews)
11 Jun 19. A New Fuel for Satellites Is So Safe It Won’t Blow Up Humans. Later This Month, a small satellite will hitch a ride on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket for the world’s first demonstration of “green” satellite propellant in space. The satellite is fueled by AFM-315, which the Air Force first developed more than 20 years ago as an alternative to the typical satellite juice of choice, hydrazine. If successful, AFM-315 could make satellites vastly more efficient, shrink satellite deployment time from weeks to days, and drastically reduce the safety requirements for storing and handling satellite fuel, a boon to humans and the environment. Looking to the future, scientists working on the fuel say it will play a large role in helping get extraterrestrial satellite operations off the ground.
Hydrazine is a volatile fuel that will ruin your day—and perhaps your life—if you’re exposed to it. To fuel a satellite you need a lot of safety infrastructure, including pressurized full-body “SCAPE suits” just to handle the stuff. AFM-315, on the other hand, is less toxic than caffeine, so all you need is a lab coat and a pump. “We literally sat in a room next to a plastic jug of it when we were fueling the satellite,” says Chris McLean, an engineer at Ball Aerospace and the project lead on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission.
Unlike hydrazine, which has a consistency similar to water, AFM-315 is viscous. But its fuel density would increase the “miles per gallon” delivered to a satellite by 50 percent, compared with the same volume of hydrazine.
McLean says one of AFM-315’s biggest selling points after safety is the fact that it doesn’t freeze. AFM-315 is a liquid salt, which means that at extremely low temperatures, it undergoes a glass transition instead. This transforms the fuel into a brittle, glass-like solid, but it doesn’t cause the fuel to expand like frozen water or hydrazine. This attribute prevents fuel lines and storage containers from cracking under stress. Moreover, its glass transition point is extremely low, so the fuel wouldn’t need to be heated on the satellite—a big power suck for other missions. McLean says this will make more power available for other instruments or systems on the satellite, which could open up new possibilities in missions to other planets.
But for all its advantages, AFM-315’s journey from conception to launch has been a long one. First developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in 1998 as an alternative satellite fuel, McLean says it found limited use due to its high combustion temperature, which was about twice that of hydrazine. This required exotic—and expensive—materials to prevent damage to the satellite. By the late 2000s, the cost of manufacturing propulsion systems that could handle the heat from AFM-315 was low enough to make it feasible to use, but no company wanted to risk fueling their satellites with an experimental propellant. If AFM-315 was ever going to be widely adopted by the satellite industry, McLean says, it would have to prove itself in orbit. Thus NASA’s Green Infusion Propellant Mission was born.
Originally slated to launch in late 2015, the green propellant mission got caught up in the delays that plagued the development of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. On June 24 it is scheduled to fly on the second operational mission of the Falcon Heavy along with several other payloads, including an atomic clock being tested for deep space navigation.
The green propellant satellite bus was developed by Ball Aerospace and is outfitted with four 1-newton thrusters and one 22-newton thruster that will be used to test the AFM-315 propellant. During its 13-month mission it will use the thrusters to perform orbital maneuvers, such as lowering its orbit and changing its attitude or tilt, to test the performance of the propellant.
McLean says there are already customers interested in using the green propellant if the demonstration flight goes well. That means satellites could be flying operational missions around Earth as soon as 18 months after the demonstration. Looking to the future, McLean says AFM-315 could be especially useful for exploring cold regions of the solar system, such as the Martian poles. Looks like the Red Planet just got a little more green. (Source: Satnews)
11 Jun 19. Ten Million Euros to Fund the First Demonstration of GLoT by NanoAvionics, KSAT and Antwerp Space. NanoAvionics and consortium partners KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services) and Antwerp Space have been awarded 10m euros funding by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020, ESA’s ARTES and private investors. The funding is for the first demonstration of the pre-cursor stage of the Global Internet of Things (GIoT) smallsat constellation with one or more IoT/M2M (machine-to-machine) service providers as pilot customers. The consortium will not enter the IoT/M2M business directly. Instead it will offer a GIoT constellation-as-a-service in a B2B setup to existing and emerging IoT/M2M operators.
The GIoT system combines the core strengths of the consortium’s partners in a one-stop-shop offer, giving IoT/M2M service providers the means to be economically viable, globally scalable and competitive. NanoAvionics’ constellation-as-a-service will give service providers a ten-fold reduction in the cost of their global IoT/M2M communications. The GIoT system will also lower the entry barriers for IoT innovators and enable them to devise new ways of M2M communications.
The GIoT system consists of NanoAvionics’ reliable smallsat buses powered by chemical propulsion and enabling constellation synchronization, launch brokerage services, global real-time connectivity enabled by KSAT’s technically mature ground stations network, Antwerp Space’s inter-satellite link via geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites and NanoAvionics’ modular and scalable mission control system.
At the end of next year, the pre-cursor stage, consisting of two to three of NanoAvionics’ interconnected smallsats, will be launched into LEO. The final GIoT constellation will form an interconnected network with 72 satellites and global real-time coverage towards the end of 2023.
The funding for this innovative European project will allow NanoAvionics and partners to develop and launch the pre-cursor stage of the GIoT constellation, taking it from technology readiness to customer on-orbit testing and preparing it for commercialization and scale-up. In particular, the funding will enable NanoAvionics to upgrade its current buses with Antwerp Space’s inter-satellite link for connection with GEO satellites and testing the satellites’ compatibility with KSAT’s network. It will also allow NanoAvionics enhance its modular and scalable mission control system to manage multi-satellite and multi-instrument constellations. The latter will match the various requirements and transceivers operated by different IoT/M2M service providers.
Each nano-satellite, based on NanoAvionic’s preconfigured nano-satellite buses, has up to 10U of payload volume, allowing multiple IoT communications providers to place their M2M transceivers in them. Antwerp Space and KSAT, through their mission control and data distribution system, will connect this nano-satellite constellation with the terrestrial Internet. An Antwerp Space inter-satellite link on each nano-satellite will provide real-time connectivity with traditional GEO satellites. The GIoT constellation will send direct communications from the LEO satellites to KSAT’s global network of ground stations.
The earliest applications by IoT/M2M providers using this new generation of space-based IoT constellation-as-a-service will be in the transport and energy industries. For example, their small sensors on pipelines and oil platforms would be able to send their data to monitoring centres. By using location-based devices providers can let transport companies track aircraft, ships and even individual shipping containers through the most remote regions of the planet. The GIoT will also enable Telco operators to offer cellular network coverage over oceans, a service that so far only exists within developed regions.
Frank Zeppenfeldt, from ESA’s satellite communications group said: the organization is excited to support the GIoT project because we recognize the importance that IoT/M2M and satellite connectivity play for the next level of innovation in almost every industry. ESA’s ARTES program will fund the development of the inter-satellite link from smaller satellites in LEO to commercial GEO communication satellites and will demonstrate low cost data-relay services.
Vytenis J. Buzas, CEO of NanoAvionics, added that the phenomenal support by both the European Commission and European Space Agency shows the importance of this GIoT project and their confidence in our world-class partners and NanoAvionics to deliver it. IoT promises to bring new levels of efficiency to transport, manufacturing and other industries but it needs real-time coverage and lowered cost. While there have been many activities in the IoT/M2M market and a lot of advancement in hardware there is a clear lack of the satellite and ground infrastructure that is required for generating downstream revenue for an IoT market expected to reach $3.21bn by 2023.
Arild José Jensen, KSAT vice president of global sales, noted the GIoT solution will enable global real-time connectivity for IoT/M2M service providers, and the KSAT contribution will be enabling access to KSATlite, a global ground station network optimized for smallsat constellations, By leveraging the KSATlite network, where the corner stones are automated operations and standardization, GIoT operators will be able to tap into a global, operational and perfectly scalable ground station as-a-service solution. Together with the partners, the company will facilitate continuous connectivity for the GIoT satellites, thereby providing a unique capability which will open up new opportunities for IoT/M2M service providers.
Koen Puimège, Managing director of Antwerp Space.Providing communications to low-cost IoT devices in remote regions has always been difficult and quite expensive. Today’s cellular networks only provide coverage for densely populated parts of the world’s landmass, which comprises less than 20 percent of the total Earth surface. Equally, Earth-to-orbit transmissions via traditional satellites require expensive, energy-consuming technology. The market opportunity for this GIoT constellation is to cover the remaining 80% with low cost communication services. (Source: Satnews)
11 Jun 19. Russia Planning on IoT Constellation, Gonets-2.
Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos will deploy a new grouping of Gonets-2 satellites for the Internet of Things (IoT), according to Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozinin a posting at the TASS infosite.
“We are deploying a new Gonets-2 grouping… This will be the Internet of things. This system is capable of promptly transmitting information from ground sensors,” the Roscosmos chief said. “Sensors will be installed on the ground, in particular, on dams, bridges and railways. If their condition deviates from the norm, the sensors will transmit a signal to Earth’s remote sensing satellites within the Gosudarevo Oko (Sovereign’s Eye) system, which will start monitoring a particular facility and involve additional resources for re-transmitting the signal.”
The Roscosmos chief spoke earlier about the proposal to create a system of remote sensing satellites to monitor natural resources and man-made processes. This task has been set to develop Russian regions and the national economy, he explained.
Roscosmos spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko earlier said that the project of the Sovereign’s Eye space monitoring system was at the stage of its approval in the relevant ministries and agencies. The project was also undergoing the stage of its feasibility study. (Source: Satnews)
12 Jun 19. GigaSat and Inmarsat Provide Canadian Armed Forces with Satellite Terminals In Record Time. Shared Services Canada (SSC), an initiative of the Canadian Government to provide information technology services to the various Canadian governmental agencies, has through Inmarsat, successfully fulfilled requirements to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with medium and large multiband satellite terminals.
The provision of multiband Earth ground stations terminals to DND marks start of a new relationship between GigaSat and Inmarsat. While the usual time period for supplying such an order is in the region of six to nine months, the DND terminals were built and delivered in just six weeks.
GigaSat, part of Ultra Electronics CIS (Communications & Integrated Systems), in partnership with Inmarsat, a major provider of mobile satellite communications, has successfully delivered 16 satellite multiband Earth ground station terminals to Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) in record time.
The terminals are designed to be deployed globally to access worldwide global satcom (WGS) military communications, as well as commercial satellite network operators. The Inmarsat type-approved terminals will allow Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) to access mission critical voice and data networks across the world.
With the Wideband Ka- capabilities, the terminals enable DND to also access Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) military or commercial Ka-band, High-Capacity Payload (HCP) to augment their own WGS capacity, providing a fully redundant and secure alternative. (Source: Satnews)
11 Jun 19. Cloud Based System Designer for RF Over Fiber Links Intro’d by ViaLite Communications. ViaLite customers can now design their own RF over fiber systems online. Developed for complex system designs where multiple DWDM products are required, ViaLite Communications’ new cloud based System Designer is the first of its kind for RF over fiber links. It simplifies the whole design process and allows customers to visualize and confirm performance characteristics prior to purchase and deployment.
The tool — which was designed and built in-house — uses a drag and drop approach, allowing users to select items from a pallet of components and build up their system design. Once completed, the customer can analyze their design using a built-in process which calculates the end-to-end system performance and records the results to file.
“This ground breaking tool demonstrates our commitment to customers and the vision of a vastly simplified design process; giving customers the power to manipulate and try different deployment setups before purchasing,” said ViaLite Product Manager, John Golding.
Designs can be published as a PDF document, which incorporates a link performance summary, parts list, rack usage and schematic output of the full end-to-end system. Four license options are available, starting with a single day limited access trial. Standard and Premium licenses give progressively more access to features for more complex designs over periods of up to 12 months. Subscription costs are waived if the user purchases a certified design, created using the system.
Additionally, ViaLite offers an optional paid Design Architect service, enabling the user to have their system design fully assessed and checked by a ViaLite expert. On approval, a ViaLite certified design number is added to the design. The tool subscription costs are waived if the user then purchases a certified design.
The tool was first demonstrated in May and generated a lot of interest. It will also be displayed on ViaLite’s stand 1V1-12 at CommunicAsia, Singapore, this June. ViaLite’s new C-band RF over fiber link products (rack chassis card and purple OEM module) will also be on display. The C-band Link, which also covers L- and S-band, has a full operational range of 500 MHz — 7.5 GHz.
12 Jun 19. Another Successful SpaceX Launch. Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation from Vandenberg AFB. Rising majestically from the fog bank surrounding Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the SpaceXDragon launch vehicle has successfully pushed Canada’s latest Radarsat satellite into orbit. In addition, the Dragon’s stage one plowed back through the fog, accompanied by a sonic boom, and landed securely on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg. Falcon 9’s first stage for launch of this RADARSAT Constellation Mission previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission in March of 2019.
The RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) is the evolution of the RADARSAT Program and builds on Canada’s expertise in Earth Observation (EO) from space. It consists of three identical C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) EO satellites.
Built by MDA, a Maxar company, the three-satellite configuration of the RCM will provide daily revisits of Canada’s vast territory and maritime approaches, including the Arctic up to four times a day, as well as daily access to any point of 90 percent of the world’s surface. The RCM will support the Government of Canada in delivering responsive and cost-effective services to meet Canadian needs in areas such as maritime surveillance, ecosystem and climate change monitoring as well as helping disaster relief efforts.
- The RCM will help create precise sea ice maps of Canada’s oceans and the Great Lakes to facilitate navigation and commercial maritime transportation. Each satellite also carries an Automatic Identification System receiver, allowing improved detection and tracking of vessels of interest.
- The highly accurate data collected by RCM will enable farmers to maximize crop yields while reducing energy consumption and the use of potential pollutants.
- Like RADARSAT-2, the RCM will support relief efforts by providing images of areas affected by disasters to help organize emergency response efforts and protect the local population.
The Falcon 9 liftoff continues on course from Vandenberg AFB. Image is courtesy of SpaceX.
SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base has a long history dating back to the early 1960s. Originally an Atlas launch pad activated in 1962, SLC-4E was in active use until its last Titan IV launching in 2005.
SpaceX’s groundbreaking was in July of 2011 and extensive modifications and reconstruction of the launch pad were completed 17 months later. SLC-4E consists of a concrete launch pad/apron and a flame exhaust duct. Surrounding the pad are RP-1 and liquid oxygen storage tanks and an integration hangar.
Before launch, Falcon 9’s stages, fairing and the mission payload are housed inside the hangar. A crane/lift system moves Falcon 9 into a transporter erector system and the fairing and its payload are mated to the rocket. The vehicle is rolled from the hangar to the launch pad shortly before launch to minimize exposure to the elements. (Source: Satnews)
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