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04 Jul 19. NATO military satellites prove vulnerable to cyberattacks: Report. NATO satellites prove vulnerable to cyberattacks. Credits: US Air Force. NATO satellites that are vital to military missions are vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a study by the UK based Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House. The satellites used currently are susceptible to a variety of cyber-attacks including GPS spoofing, which could cause missiles to miss their intended targets and redirect to aircraft, ships or ground forces.
Another flaw highlighted in the report is the lack of NATO ownership over the satellites the military uses. While the alliance owns ground-based infrastructure, it requires permission to access member states’ satellites before they can be used.
Chatham House international security department research fellow Dr Beyza Unal, who wrote the report, said: “The problem is, we do not know which country is doing what.
“A vulnerability for a member state can become a vulnerability for the alliance… In that regard I think the most important step would be to ensure some kind of maturity model across the alliance. If they [NATO] say there are certain standards and guidelines that that the member states needs to follow that would really help to safeguard space-based assets.”
Unal said that NATO should look towards ensuring they have space assets on hand when they are needed.
“It only makes sense that NATO also starts to think about whether owning satellites or being able to use satellites when they are needed in a crisis or conflict time, or even for peacekeeping missions. The problem here is who will fund it… any additional cost needs to be explained to taxpayers,” she added.
One of the biggest threats to NATO is Russia testing the alliance’s capabilities in cyber, air and maritime fields, which Unal believes is also becoming apparent in space.
“It is believed that Russia has been buzzing the western satellites [coming too close to them]… Many countries are questioning the reason for that,” she said.
“There were states like France and Italy who accused Russia of trying to steal encrypted military data. These [buzzes] are concerning because we do not know what Russia is doing them for, decrypting the data and stealing the information. Or to try to understand how the western systems work.”
The report recommends a series of steps in order to sure up NATO’s future space capabilities, including the alliance taking a more active role in the development of technology and sparking discussions in member state to further the systems.
Other steps recommended are ensuring the safety of ground-based assets, more simplistic steps like making sure software and systems across NATO are up to date and increasing the cooperation between members so that if one state’s space assets are compromised another’s can be used.
The continued operation of space systems has become increasingly important in the past decade as more and more military systems become reliant on it. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq over 60% of munitions relied on spaced-based guidance to hit their targets.
BATTLESPACE Comment: This scenario was discussed at the recent Satellite 2019 Conference in Washington DC during a session chaired by Ken Peterman Viasat President of Government Systems. The panel discussed the use of multiple leasing contracts for governments rather than outright purchase of satellites which would not only give greater coverage of the battlefield but also allow frequency hoping between constellations to void any jamming scenarios. (See: FEATURES, Caveat Emptor)
04 Jul 19. Space Agency head says transformation well under way for space sector. A year on from the formation of the Australian Space Agency (ASA), its inaugural head said it has made good progress in guiding the nation’s space journey.
Dr Megan Clark said few things inspired quite like space and that has been exemplified during ASA’s first year.
“As we look forward, we will continue to highlight the transformation underway in the space sector and how this opens up opportunities for Australia,” she said in a message on the organisation’s first birthday.
“This transformation means companies small, medium and large can create their own business, and be prosperous in many exciting areas across the space economy. It means our research and development efforts can take Australia to the frontline of innovation in space.
“We look forward to communicating with the community to show the exciting things happening in Australia and in space. This includes how space will impact on all our lives, and how it will be an important enabler for many other industries – whether to support agriculture, emergency management, or new technologies like autonomous vehicles.”
Dr Clark said ASA was incredibly grateful for the support from researchers, industry and the wider Australian community. She said it was wonderful to see the $245m SmartSat CRC drawing a collective of nearly 100 partners and international collaborators – the largest space industry contingent in Australian history.
“We’re pleased to be playing our part in this nationwide effort. We have a great team who have worked hard over our first 12 months to establish a space agency that Australians can be proud of,” she said.
ASA already has notable runs on the board.
In April it released Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028, setting a national strategic pathway for Australia’s civil space sector.
That lays out seven civil space priorities over the next 10 years: position, navigation and timing; Earth observation; communications technologies and services; space situational awareness and debris monitoring; leapfrog R&D; robotics and automation on Earth and in space; and access to space.
Dr Clark said all states and territories have engaged to understand Australia’s space capabilities and to put forward strategies to transform and grow the industry.
“Our team continues to work closely with state and territory governments and industry as we further Australia’s objectives in space,” she said.
“The agency has signed agreements with the Canadian, French, UK and United Arab Emirates space agencies to explore where our nations can work together, and to further our shared ambition. Our conversations with NASA and the European Space Agency are progressing to explore more opportunities for collaboration.”
Australia’s space legislation has also been updated. That includes the passage of the Space (Launches and Returns) Amendment Act 2018, and associated sector consultation on the underlying rules.
“Finally, in support of our strategy, the agency is developing two new programs – the International Space Investment initiative, and the Space Infrastructure Fund,” she said.
“These are important programs that will serve to transform and grow Australia’s space industry into the future.” (Source: Space Connect)
03 Jul 19. Dutch Court Rules for Aerospace Giant Airbus in Battle Over Rocket Parts. Airbus, the world’s second largest aerospace and defense company, will finally be moving the parts needed for its Ariane 6 rocket to its manufacturing facility after winning a contract dispute with one of its suppliers.
The Ariane rocket family is a group of launch devices used to take satellites and other objects, including spacecrafts, into space. The Ariane 6 is the latest model and was commissioned by the European Space Agency in 2012.
ESA accepted a joint proposal from Airbus and French rocket manufacturer, Safran, for which the two companies formed Airbus Safran Launchers, later called the ArianeGroup.
One of the aerospace giant’s subsidiaries, Airbus Defense and Space, was contracted to be the major parts supplier for the Ariane 6. In turn, Airbus Defense and Space subcontracted some of the rocket component production to the Dutch company Spacetec BV.
The Ariane 6 project uses a top-down pricing model, which requires suppliers to agree to maximum prices for projects. The ArianeGroup agreement included strict price controls and deadlines for the completion of components. Failure to meet them could result in substantial fines for Airbus. In turn, Airbus required the same of its suppliers.
Spacetec outsourced the manufacturing of some of the components to its sister company, PM Aerotec. Both companies are owned by the same holding group, PM. In this agreement, however, Spacetec didn’t require the same strict controls.
PM Aerotec had cost overruns in the project and demanded 1.2m extra euros, more than double the original agreed price.
In turn, Spacetec demanded that Airbus pay the extra costs. When it refused, citing the terms of the contract, Spacetec refused to handover completed parts.
Concerned about the components, Airbus had them seized and stored at the Nederlands Taxatie en Adviesbureau, an independent appraisal agency. Airbus also canceled its contract with Spacetec and the dispute went to court.
A court in Almelo, a town in the eastern part of the Netherlands, heard arguments in the case on June 18. In its filing, Airbus claimed Joep Henk Lüth, the CEO of the holding group PM, is known for his “emotional and unpredictable way of doing business” and described the case as “pure blackmail.”
Airbus also claimed it was unaware that Spacetec’s manufacturing had been subcontracted.
The court ruled in favor of Airbus on Wednesday, finding that the “contract between Airbus and Spacetec is clear in terms of ownership and right of retention.”
Spacetec was ordered handover any remaining parts and pay Airbus’ legal fees.
In response to the ruling, Airbus said in a statement, “For decades, Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands has been working with thousands of partners and suppliers for the development of high-tech space products, also with good results for the production of the engine frames for the new European Ariane 6 launcher.”
Airbus also said the production of the Ariane 6 launcher was on schedule. Spacetec and PM did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment. (Source: Google/https://www.courthousenews.com)
03 Jul 19. The Pentagon’s new space agency has an idea about the future. The Defense Department’s next generation space architecture would consist of several layers based around a mesh network of small communications satellites, according to a document released by the Space Development Agency July 1.
A request for information lays out an early outline of what that new satellite architecture would look like and how the commercial sector can contribute to the effort.
The SDA is a new entity that the Pentagon established less than four months ago as part of the Trump administration’s focus on reorganizing the military’s space structure. The agency’s initial goal is to develop a next generation space architecture for military satellites in the face of near-peer adversaries’ growing interest in space.
“In an era of renewed great power competition with an emergent China and a resurgent Russia, maintaining our advantage in space is critical to winning these long-term strategic competitions,” read a request for information posted to the Federal Business Opportunities web site. “These potential adversaries are developing and demonstrating multi-domain threats to national security much faster than we can deploy responsive, space-based capabilities.”
The agency wants the new architecture to provide eight essential capabilities identified in a 2018 Pentagon report. In addition, the Pentagon wants to include development of deterrent capability, space situational awareness, a resilient common ground-based space support infrastructure, command and control systems and artificial intelligence-enabled global surveillance.
The Space Development Agency’s notional architecture is made up of several layers, each of which would contribute to at least one of the eight essential capabilities. They include:
A space transport layer: A global mesh network providing 24/7 data and communications.
A tracking layer: Provides tracking, targeting and advanced warning of missile threats.
A custody layer: Provides “all-weather custody of all identified time-critical targets.”
A deterrence layer: Provides space situational awareness—detecting and tracking objects in space to help satellites avoid collisions.
A navigation layer: Provides alternative positioning, navigation and timing services in case GPS is blocked or unavailable.
A battle management layer: A command, control and communications network augmented by artificial intelligence that provides self-tasking, self-prioritization, on-board processing and dissemination.
A support layer: Ground command and control facilities and user terminals, as well as rapid-response launch services.
The SDA’s immediate goal is the development of a transport layer consisting of a mesh network for communications and data in low earth orbit. As the agency has stated previously, that effort will rely heavily on DARPA’s Blackjack program – a project that will establish an initial transport layer with a 20 satellite constellation. The SDA wants to build sub-constellations around the Blackjack program to meet some of the needs it has identified, such as missile defense warnings and targeting, alternative positioning, navigation and timing services, and more. The constellation and associated sub-constellations will be made up of small mass-produced satellites in the agency’s vision, ranging from 50 to 500kg.
The next-generation space architecture posting is the first request for information that the agency has posted in its brief existence, and sets a tone for what it’s looking for from the commercial sector. Specifically, the SDA wants to know what capabilities and concepts the commercial sector can bring to bear on satellite buses, payloads, appliques and launches. Any proposal should fall into at least one of the suggested layers, the SDA stated.
“SDA intends to leverage investments made by the private sector in space capabilities (…), as well as industry best practices (e.g., mass production techniques for spacecraft buses, sensors, and user terminals),” stated the agency.
Among other things, the agency wants proposals for the following items: Small and cheap payloads that can provide high-bandwidth links between satellites; software that can track missiles from low earth orbit; software that can facilitate autonomous space sensor collection, processing and dissemination, and alternative methods for positioning, navigation and timing in case GPS is unavailable. In addition, the SDA wants feedback on the overall structure of its notional architecture. The SDA is also interested in industry concerns about data rights, security and protection, acquisition approaches and more.
In building this new architecture, the SDA is clear that it wants to be agile and flexible in adapting to new technology and threats, meaning it wants to be able to integrate upgrades within two year windows. While it’s not clear in the document how quickly the SDA wants to have the new architecture in place, the agency does emphasize that it is looking for efforts that can be demonstrated in less than 18 months.
Responses are due on August 5. The SDA plans to hold an Industry Day to connect with the commercial sector in the near future.
The document’s release comes shortly on the heels of Space Development Agency Director Fred Kennedy’s resignation in late June. Kennedy was the agency’s first director, having been originally appointed to the position by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan when the agency was stood up March 12. Derek Tournear, the assistant director for space within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering, was named the acting director of the agency June 24. Prior to taking the assistant director position, Tournear was the director of Harris Space and Intelligence research and development. He has also served stints at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
A Department of Defense spokesperson stated that Kennedy stepping down would not change the mission of activities of the agency.
All of this comes as the U.S. military has worked to revamp its efforts in space. In addition to the stand up of the SDA, the Trump administration is also pushing for the creation of Space Force, a proposed sixth branch of the military that would be housed within the Air Force. While the Senate Armed Services Committee endorsed a version of Space Force, the House Armed Services Committee proposed a Space Corps, which would not be an independent branch of the military. (Source: Defense News)
03 Jul 19. Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission Satellite System demonstrates Northrop Grumman’s integrated approach to mission success. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract by Space Norway to deliver its Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM) system. Northrop Grumman will design, manufacture and integrate two satellites in addition to providing critical ground infrastructure.
The ASBM satellites will carry multiple hosted payloads including an X-Band payload for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense and a Ka-Band payload for Inmarsat. Northrop Grumman announced last year that it will also provide two Extremely High Frequency eXtended Data Rate (EHF XDR) payloads for the Enhanced Polar System-Recapitalization (EPS-R) to the U.S. Air Force for integration on the spacecraft. The systems are designed to improve secure and continuous communications in the North Polar Region. Additionally, Northrop Grumman was selected to provide critical ground infrastructure for EPS-R.
“This contract award marks our first mission with Space Norway and we appreciate the confidence they have in our capabilities to deliver high quality communication satellites,” said Frank DeMauro, sector vice president and general manager, space systems, Northrop Grumman. “By using our flight proven GeoStar platform coupled with our end-to-end payload integration capabilities, we are eager to demonstrate our ability to provide innovative solutions that regularly exceed our customer’s mission needs.”
ASBM’s satellite system will be designed, built and tested at Northrop Grumman’s state-of-the-art satellite manufacturing facility in Dulles. The satellites will be based on the company’s proven GEOStar platform which has been integrated on more than 40 spacecraft. ASBM is scheduled for a dual launch in late 2022.
Space Norway was established in 2014 as a limited liability, governmentally owned company.
02 Jul 19. These 4 technologies are big problems for US military space. A recent report highlights the fact that the commercial space sector is an increasingly important part of the military’s efforts in space, but there are places where industry falls short. The national security space arena is a niche market, characterized by low production runs paired with a need for high-quality products. That combination makes it a difficult area for the commercial sector. While national security space increasingly relies on industry to provide components for space vehicles, the fact remains that in some key areas there are no domestic suppliers for critical technologies, leaving the United States dependent on foreign suppliers.
Here are four such technologies singled out in a recent report on the United States military’s industrial base:
According to the report, the commercial sector is not investing in the research and development needed to improve solar cells, which are used to power satellites. Businesses have maxed out the capacity for triple-junction solar cells, but do not appear capable of pushing forward to four- or five-junction solar cell technology. The Pentagon also wants solar cells that are able to withstand more radiation for longer than current products on the market.
Improving solar cells to get the same or more power out of even slightly smaller panels could have a major impact when it comes to launching a satellite into space, meaning that reducing solar panel size is highly valuable.
Starting in the 1990s, the domestic supplier market share for traveling-wave tube amplifiers — electronic devices used to amplify radio frequency signals to high power — dropped from 50 percent to just 12 percent. While that market has shown a slight recovery, the presence of heavily subsidized companies like Thales in France make it difficult for American companies to compete.
Precision gyroscopes are used in spacecraft to determine altitude and are essential to providing inertial navigation systems. According to the Department of Defense, there is only one domestic supplier of hemispherical resonating gyroscopes, resulting in long lead times — the report claims that the company can only produce one to two units per month. Fiber optic gyroscopes fair better with three domestic suppliers currently manufacturing them, but those companies are themselves vulnerable to overseas supply issues with their subcomponents.
Just one foreign manufacturer produces the substrates necessary for space infrared detectors, and the Pentagon warns that a disruption of any more than a few months of production of the substrates could negatively impact the quality and completion of American satellites.
Because of this, the U.S. government has used a Defense Production Act of 1950 provision that allows it to offer economic incentives to either develop, sustain or expand domestic production of technology critical to national defense, and an Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program is in the works to support the remaining two American foundries for one type of substrate. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
03 Jul 19. Intelsat wins significant satellite upgrade contract with regional partner. Intelsat has announced it has been selected by Lintasarta to support the deployment and expansion of Indonesia’s broadband and wireless communications infrastructure to bring reliable, consistent and affordable connectivity to millions of Indonesians. The five-year agreement will see Lintasarta use overlapping coverage from two of Intelsat’s high-throughput satellites, Intelsat 33e and Horizons 3e, which cover the Asia-Pacific and Pacific Ocean region, to provide communications to the widely dispersed population of Indonesia.
“Under our new agreement with Lintasarta, Indonesians will have access to fast, high quality and consistent broadband that will provide easy access to government, education and health services and support business operations,” said Intelsat vice president and general manager, networks, Jean-Philippe Gillet.
“We are pleased that Lintasarta has chosen to utilise Intelsat’s network to advance the government’s goal of building a more digitally inclusive society.”
The Indonesian government has committed to “fostering social development and accelerating equitable economic growth” by connecting 150,000 sites across the country by the end of 2023.
Three months ago, Lintasarta was selected by Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to advance its USO program, Internet Fixed Broadband and Mobile Cellular Backhaul over Indonesia via a GEO Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) System.
“We are honoured to have been chosen by Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology as one of the main providers of broadband connectivity for the BAKTI project,” said Ginandjar Alibasjah, datacom director, Lintasarta.
“Intelsat has become one of our trusted partners to support this project. Intelsat’s proven performance, redundancy and resiliency of its global network will allow us to rapidly scale and expand Indonesia’s network infrastructure, ensuring that all citizens, regardless of where they are located, will have access to broadband and internet connectivity.” (Source: Space Connect)
02 Jul 19. ATLAS Expands On-Orbit Customer Base, Bolsters Global Ground Network. ATLAS Space Operations, a leading innovator of ground communications in the space industry, continues to grow its on-orbit customer base with two additional launches this past week. BlackSky Global’s Global-3 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) COSMIC-2 both successfully launched into orbit, utilizing ATLAS for communications and data support.
ATLAS is tasked with providing ground station operations as well as telemetry, command, and data support for both BlackSky and NOAA’s newly deployed satellites. ATLAS will support the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations via their global network of ground stations, including their four newest antennas located in: Sunyani, Ghana; Harmon, Guam; Tahiti, French Polynesia; Chitose, Japan.
“ATLAS is proud to be a key support element for all of our customers who have successfully deployed from these historic launches,” said Sean McDaniel, CEO and Co-Founder of ATLAS. “We are committed to delivering valuable, low latency Earth imagery data for our BlackSky Global customers. We have been working with NOAA since early 2017 to build and test ground systems that are critical to the continuation of NOAA’s GPS Radio Occultation data collection mission via COSMIC-2. We share in the team’s excitement in achieving this much-anticipated milestone.”
NOAA successfully launched and deployed six satellites as a part of the June 25th, 2019 SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology (COSMIC-2) will orbit Earth collecting data for weather forecasting, climate monitoring and research space weather. The six-satellite constellation will help to improve weather prediction models for years to come, and provide three times the data COSMIC-1 was able to capture.
BlackSky’s Global-3 launched out of Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle as a part of the “Make it Rain” mission — a nod to the heavy precipitation in both Seattle and New Zealand. A division of Spaceflight Industries, BlackSky is a leader in geospatial monitoring and alert services that help organizations observe and understand global events by integrating a diverse set of sensors and data, including satellite imagery. Global-3 is part of a planned sixty-satellite constellation that will provide 1-meter resolution color imagery with frequent revisit rates of 95 percent of the Earth’s population.
The ATLAS network currently consists of thirty operational and planned antennas globally employing Freedom™, a proprietary software platform that allows for seamless customer integration into the communication network while optimizing all mission critical components and providing automated pass scheduling. The cloud-based software approach makes communicating with both commercial and U.S. civil spacecraft simpler and more cost effective by reducing capital expenditures at every ground entry point. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
03 Jul 19. SpaceX reveals first commercial mission target. A SpaceX executive has confirmed that the company’s first commercial mission for its Starship and Super Heavy launch system will likely take place in 2021. SpaceX vice president of commercial sales Jonathan Hofeller said that the company is in talks with possible customers for the first commercial launch of the system.
“We are in discussions with three different customers as we speak right now to be that first mission,” Hofeller said at the 2019 APSAT Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Those are all telecom companies.”
Earlier this year, SpaceX conducted several “hops” for testing the system, and Hofeller confirmed that it would further demonstrate these capabilities to potential customers.
“We have future hops coming up later this year,” he said.
“The goal is to get orbital as quickly as possible, potentially even this year, with the full stack operational by the end of next year and then customers in early 2021.”
SpaceX also indicated that the prices of their booster missions are constantly dropping, with previously flown missions reduced from $62m to $50m, and company founder and CEO Elon Musk has hinted that these prices will continue to be lowered. The reusable nature of the system means that prices will continue to drop. (Source: Space Connect)
29 Jun 19. The intelligence community’s space agency gets a new leader. The intelligence community’s space agency got a new director June 27. Christopher Scolese was confirmed by the Senate to lead the National Reconnaissance Office. Scolese testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier in the month, laying out his goals for the agency if confirmed. Those goals would focus on industry partnerships and artificial intelligence. He also testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in May, fielding questions about the NRO combating adversaries.
“Space is an increasingly contested domain with increased threats to both ground and space systems,” Scolese said in advanced questions released to the Armed Services Committee. “Therefore, I view resiliency as a top priority and a persistent challenge. If confirmed, it will be critical to leverage the latest technology in our space and ground systems to stay ahead of our adversaries.”
Scolese, who has worked with NASA since 1987, most recently served as director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
In his June hearing, Scolese outlined challenges he foresaw the NRO facing: integrating new technology without disrupting current operations; staying ahead of adversaries; and increasing the speed at which the agency handles data without compromising its integrity and reliability.
“We have a responsibility to infuse the latest technology into our programs to stay ahead of our competitors and adversaries and to ensure that we are providing the needed data quickly and efficiently,” Scolese said. “Our competitors and adversaries are not afraid to take risks. If the U.S. is to maintain its competitive advantage in space, we must be willing to try new technologies and accept that not all new technologies will be a success.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Jul 19. UN adopts guidelines for global use of space. After eight years of negotiations, the UN has adopted 21 guidelines for peaceful and sustainable outer space activities – with Australia playing an important role in the developing the guidelines. These non-binding guidelines provide guidance on policy and regulatory framework for space activities; safety of space operations; international co-operation, capacity-building and awareness; and scientific and technical research and development.
Australia played its part, with the new Australian Space Agency participating as part of Australia’s delegation at the recent meetings of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
Although non-binding, the guidelines set basic principles for use of space at a time when barriers to entry are lower than ever and more and more nations are participating in space activities.
This is the result of more than eight years of work by a working group of the committee and of efforts by experts from 92 member states, supported by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
The committee encourages states and international inter-governmental organisations to voluntarily take measures to ensure that the guidelines are implemented to the greatest extent possible.
The committee should serve as the principal forum for continuing dialogue on issues related to the implementation and review of the guidelines. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Jul 19. NATO considers space strategy that could include common defence. The NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels is set to launch a strategy for space that will make it a full operational domain alongside land, sea, air and cyber. That could become a reality perhaps as soon as the NATO summit in London in December. Although not a formal NATO member, Australia is termed a NATO partner and has steadily increased ties, including through operations in Afghanistan. So Australia definitely has interest in military uses of space.
The US is now standing up its new space force, which will stand on equal footing with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The US is actually quite late to this, as both Russia and China have established space forces, China the most recent in 2015.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said space was part of our daily lives.
“While it can be used for peaceful purposes, it can also be used for aggression,” he said.
“Satellites can be jammed, hacked or weaponised. Anti-satellite weapons could cripple communications, so it is important that we are vigilant and resilient.”
A key question for NATO will be whether and in what circumstances Article 5 could apply to an event in space. Article 5 is the NATO common defence pact, which stipulates that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all.
Stoltenberg said it was too early to speculate on how Article 5 could apply in space. However the issue will be crucial in the upcoming debate.
This is not new territory and NATO tried unsuccessfully to devise a space policy in 2011-12. The difference now is the space boom as space becomes more congested, contested and competitive, and a likely theatre of any significant future conflict. The Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC), an advisory body sponsored by 16 NATO member nations, played a central role in earlier efforts to draft a space policy.
“Command and control of military forces, precise air power, missile guidance, troop movements, environmental reconnaissance, and missile warning all have come to depend, to a large degree, on information relayed by satellites,” it said in a discussion article setting out the issues.
JAPCC said the value of policy was to enable oversight and coherence.
It raised a number of questions for consideration about why NATO needs a space policy.
“Would applying the concept of collective defence to space capabilities complicate an adversary’s decision to interfere with their use and thereby aid NATO’s deterrence posture,” it asked.
“Would co-ordination among NATO space capability providers increase effectiveness on behalf of NATO?
“Are today’s NATO forces adequately prepared to conduct operations without the assistance of space-based enabling technologies such as satellite
communications, global satellite navigation, ballistic missile early warning, satellite intelligence and meteorological support.”
Jamie Shea, NATO former deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges, said space had become more important for military use and for every day life.
“As NATO depends for its military operations on space, for communications for early warning to guide its weapons systems and so on, NATO has to take account of what happens on the land, sea, air and cyber space, all of the previous domains is increasingly going to be influenced by who dominates in space,” he told the ABC.
“What NATO is doing with this decision today is recognising this new reality and therefore authorising its military planners to start looking at what NATO has, what NATO lacks, how NATO can be better geared to protect these vital assets in space in the future.” (Source: Space Connect)
26 Jun 19. USAF Wants to Utilize Commercial Satellites for Nuclear Command, Control. The U.S. military is eyeing commercial satellites for nuclear command and control, said a top officer June 26.
“The work that we’re doing in connecting the force and building a networked force across the services in the conventional side has got equal application to the nuclear command-and-control side,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said during remarks at an event in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
“One of the areas that I think we’re going to be able to leverage significantly is … the rapid and exciting expansion of commercial space and bringing low-earth orbit capabilities that will allow us to have the resilient pathways to communicate,” he added.
The Air Force operates two of the three legs of the United States’ nuclear triad, to include the bomber force and ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, the Navy deploys ballistic missile submarines for the strategic deterrence mission.
The Air Force wants to reap cost savings by leveraging the commercial space industry, Goldfein said. Increased access to affordable launch services and smaller, more capable payloads has caused a rapid expansion in commercial offerings, he noted.
“Whether it’s Silicon Valley or commercial space, there are unlimited opportunities ahead right now for us in terms of how we think differently on things like nuclear command-and-control,” Goldfein said.
As adversarial nations such as Russia and China develop anti-satellite capabilities, the Pentagon wants more resilient satcom architectures.
“We want to get to a point, both in conventional and unconventional or conventional and nuclear, where if some portion of the network is taken out … I’ve got five other pathways” to communicate with military forces, Goldfein said.
The Air Force chief’s remarks come as the Pentagon is taking a closer look at its nuclear command, control and communications needs and fleshes out what technologies it plans to buy.
Existing systems are aging. The last major upgrade of the NC3 architecture took place in the 1980s, according to a report released earlier this year by the Mitchell Institute titled, “Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Command, Control and Communications.”
“I honestly can’t think of a more timely or important topic than our No. 1 mission, which is to work side by side with the Navy to provide a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent because generating global vigilance, global reach and global power has always been and always will be a simultaneous mission set,” Goldfein said.
When asked if the commercial space sector would shy away from working with the Defense Department, as some technology firms have for projects that involve artificial intelligence, Goldfein said he believes patriotic sentiment would convince members of industry to help.
“I really think we can come to that common ground because I see no shortage of patriotism in industry anywhere,” he said.
24 Jun 19. ‘Physics Are Physics’: Lockheed Sees More Big, Complex Sats.
“Physics are physics,” says Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “There are still some things for which a geostationary approach makes more sense. There are other areas that a Low Earth Orbit makes more sense, and everything in between.”
While much of the space market has been fixated on small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Lockheed Martin’s customers actually are demanding both more capability and bigger satellites, says Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space.
“You hear a lot of talk about how you want to simplify a lot of requirements, but our customers actually are going the other direction,” Ambrose told reporters at the Paris Air Show last week. He said both his military and commercial customers are increasingly looking for more complex and capable satellites.
Further, buyers of satellites for missions such as communications are not only still interested in geostationary orbit, but for bigger satellites with higher throughput (speeding data transmissions). “It’s not just typical GEO satellites,” he said, “They’re going big.“
In the end, Ambrose said, he expects that both the Defense Department and the commercial sphere will end up with mixed architectures for different mission areas. “Physics are physics,” he said with a chuckle. “There are still somethings for which a geostationary approach makes more sense. There are other areas that a Low Earth Orbit makes more sense, and everything in between.”
That philosophy echoes former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who has cautioned against the trend towards so-called ‘proliferated LEO’ especially for critical DoD missions such as early warning.
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The key to maintaining market share, Ambrose explained, is flexibility and agility. “Fundamentally as a business, I need to be there to enable the customer’s mission or capability no matter what.” It is for this reason, he said that Lockheed Space has over the past five years invested heavily in new manufacturing techniques, including robotics and augmented reality systems to reduce costs and speed production — including for big, complex satellites.
One way of doing this is to develop ‘generic’ satellite busses that have common interfaces and design standards so they can be mission-purposed with readily available payload packages as they come off the line. “You want to minimize the non-recurrings, he explained. “I shouldn’t have to re-do many of the subsystems over and over.”
This is similar to what the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Blackjack program is attempting. However, Ambrose said that Lockheed Martin has been working on such a bus configuration “for several years now” and currently has been “flipping software between two mission areas” on an experimental satellite bus in lab tests — although Ambrose said he “is not comfortable enough to take it to a customer yet.”
It also has put a heavy research focus on its SmartSat technology program, announced in March, to develop a software-defined satellite architecture that would allow spacecraft to be reprogrammed on orbit. Already, the company is integrating SmartSat technology on 10 projects, including the Pony Express and Linus Cubesat projects, according to a company press release. First launch is expected by the end of the year.
The Pony Express 1 is a pathfinder satellite “for a software-defined payload that will test cloud computing infrastructure,” the press release explained. Follow-on Pony Express missions will prove out RF-enabled swarming formations and space-to-space networking. The Linus project involves two Cubesats that will demonstrate and validate SmartSat capabilities as well as 3D-printed spacecraft components.
Further, Ambrose said he is very excited by the idea of satellite servicing to repair and replace electronics on orbit. While he said that Lockheed Martin is not really interested in satellite refueling because he sees it as a niche market, the concept of being able to put new computer systems on satellites whenever there is an upgrade available could be revolutionary.
“What I’m really after is: how can I service satellite for electronics,” he said. “Imagine … if i could go up and upgrade a processor every three to five years just like you do at home … or whenever you have a new capability.” He said Lockheed Martin currently is devoting considerable research and development attention on this concept.
24 Jun 19. Now Ready for Launch is the Ball Aerospace Smallsat for NASA’s GPIM Mission. A Ball Aerospace satellite used for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) is ready for launch, scheduled for no earlier than June 24 on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
Ball built the smallsat, which contains NASA’s first opportunity to demonstrate a new “green” propellant and propulsion system in orbit – an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems. As the prime contractor for GPIM, Ball Aerospace is responsible for system engineering; flight thruster performance verification; ground and flight data review; spacecraft bus; assembly, integration and test; and launch and flight support. The spacecraft bus is the smallest of the Ball Configurable Platform (BCP) satellites, which is about the size of a mini refrigerator, and was assembled in just 46 days.
The BCP provides standard payload interfaces and streamlined procedures, allowing rapid and affordable access to space with flight-proven performance. There are currently two BCP small satellites performing on orbit: STPSat-2, which launched in November 2010, and STPSat-3, which launched in November 2013. The two STP satellites were built for the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program’s Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV) project.
GPIM is part of NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions program within the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), and Christopher McLean of Ball Aerospace serves as the principal investigator. The mission will demonstrate the practical capabilities of AF-M315E, a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel and oxidizer monopropellant developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
In addition to STMD and Ball Aerospace, the GPIM team includes: Aerojet Rocketdyne; U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base; the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; and three NASA field centers — NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
GPIM is one of several payloads launching as part of the Department of Defense STP-2 mission managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Another payload, the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2) satellite, carries five Ion Velocity Meters built by Ball and designed by the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) that will measure one parameter of the space weather environment as part of a successful technology transfer program. COSMIC-2 is a joint mission including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Air Force, Taiwan’s National Space Organization and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, VP and GM, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace, said that GPIM has the potential to inspire new ideas and new missions, which could mean smaller spacecraft, faster and easier ground processing, longer design lives and more. Ball is also developing small satellites for two other NASA missions — the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) and the Spectro Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) missions. (Source: Satnews)
24 Jun 19. NorthTelecom Gains Inmarsat Fleet Xpress Distributorship Role. NorthTelecom has entered into a strategic distribution partnership with Inmarsat for that firm’s Fleet Xpress service to support the company’s strategy of providing global connectivity using the latest industry technology. This partnership agreement will allow NorthTelecom to create additional value for the firm’s existing and future clients from the Energy and Maritime industries who are looking for the latest high-speed, secure satellite communication and seamless mobility services.
With this partnership NorthTelecom is preparing to expand globally in the core markets of Energy and Maritime by selling Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress service. This partnership is expected to further enhance NorthTelecom’s mobility solution and services in the Middle East, Africa and Asia region.
Hadi Nazari Mehrabi, CEO, NorthTelecom, stated that Inmarsat is renowned for its robust, highly reliable satellite communication products, in particular Fleet Xpress, which is considered the Gold Standard in Maritime VSAT, and this will help the company to expand the service and solutions portfolio, allowing NorthTelecom to be one-stop satellite solution provider for all mobility services..
Eric Griffin, VP of Offshore Energy and Fishing, noted that Fleet Xpress is now installed on almost 7,000 vessels and is enabling digitalization in the maritime and offshore industries, bringing unrivaled vessel efficiency and communication benefits to crew. The company is setting a new standard in maritime communications and the firm is excited that NorthTelecom is joining the Fleet Xpress partner network. (Source: Satnews)
26 Jun 19. NSR’s Satellite Constellations Assessment Published. To bridge the digital divide, to connect the unconnected, here are the dreams of satellite HTS constellations. With more than half the planet currently unconnected, the addressable market and potential revenues look enormous.
Thus, the race to space, with operators chasing this opportunity, driven by the belief that Non-GEO HTS, specifically LEO constellations, will be able to provide unprecedented global coverage and market penetration at significantly lower price per bit. Excitement is rampant, spurring industry-wide developments, such as assembly line-like satellite manufacturing, more competitive launch options, and even unexpected incumbents. However, to date, only two operators have begun launching, with service not set to commence for another few years at the earliest. End-user terminals do not exist and are expected to lag behind satellite deployment. Customer channels, landing rights, and spectrum allocation remain serious, and unresolved, obstacles.
Given the amount of funding, at least $4bn in committed investment and capital estimated by NSR, and efforts invested, coupled with these challenges, the industry should be asking, “Are we sure the future of SATCOM lies in LEO constellations? Can they really connect the connected, or are we all making a leap of faith?”
NSR’s Satellite Constellations: A Critical Assessment, 2nd Edition report forecasts the cumulative revenue opportunity for Non-GEO HTS capacity and service will amount to $43.6bn, between 2018 and 2028. The Consumer and Enterprise Broadband Access segments drive the forecast, responsible for 79% of these revenues.
However, despite the potential of LEO constellations, NSR estimates that only 14% of the total HTS SATCOM market will be served by Non-GEO by 2028. To put it another way, Non-GEO HTS revenues will be 4x smaller than GEO, the majority of the addressable market will not be captured by Non-GEO, and the dream begins to look more like a financial nightmare.
Primarily, the driving force behind constellations is the belief that not only is the entire telecom business addressable by satellite, but that these future networks will greatly expand the addressable market. In short, virtually every person who could use these services, will be served by Non-GEO HTS. NSR heard from one large LEO HTS constellation player that the entire telecom spending ecosystem was “in play” for addressable business, and a quick top-down estimate of penetration of this market yielded a large LEO revenue play. Suffice it to say, this top-down logic could be met with a heavy dose of skepticism.
In reality, there are reasons why satellite has always been a niche market. Terrestrial services have established vendors, customers, equipment, and infrastructure, and while the satellite industry is excited about reaching 21 Tbps of global capacity by 2028 for Non-GEO HTS, people are signing up for Google Fiber and getting Gbps to their homes, today. And those that remain unconnected globally most often present challenges from an ability to pay standpoint, further limiting the potential for classic B2C access distribution.
Next, NSR believes that, despite the potential for global coverage, constellations will face severe challenges in reaching customers. End-user terminals, flat panel antennas (FPAs), necessary for delivering Non-GEO HTS, are in development, but expected to remain expensive, with little incentive on manufacturers to lower prices. Securing landing rights in all target markets also represents a sizable challenge since LEOs will compete against incumbents in all markets, which is not necessarily an easy battle to fight.
Pricing pressure on Non-GEO HTS capacity and service will also likely force a LEO to race to the bottom to compete with GEO and other constellation players, limiting the revenue opportunity unless the subscription base expands dramatically.
Of course, not all is doom and gloom for satellite constellations. Innovations throughout the value chain have made mass production and launch of satellites easier, though not “easy”, nor “cheap”. Partnerships and technology development for FPAs have increased greatly in recent years, with over 20 manufacturers now on the market. Access to space has also never been as open as today, with launch costs declining as more options are available for constellation players.
The excitement for satellite constellations shows no sign of slowing down, especially due to the efforts of notable industry champions such as Greg Wyler, Elon Musk and now Jeff Bezos. However, realizing the dream of connecting the unconnected is more than building a dam of capacity in the sky. There are clear obstacles regarding CAPEX costs, launch delays, under-developed terminal equipment, and difficult to establish customer channels and pricing that have to be overcome to realize it.
To deny the risks, give in to the hype and excitement of LEOs, and believe that “if you build it, they will come”, is not charting a clear, strategic path to success, but making a leap of faith. (Source: Satnews)
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