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17 Jul 19. ViaSat Inc., Carlsbad, California, is awarded a $90,768,631 modification to its current indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00039-15-D-0008) to increase the ceiling of the existing production contract line item number (CLIN) of the referenced contract. This ceiling increase will implement the capabilities identified in the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) Memorandum dated Aug. 20, 2018, wherein the JROC endorsed the advanced capabilities of Concurrent Multi-Netting-4 (CMN-4), Concurrent Contention Receive, and Enhanced Throughput as the Department of Defense baseline for all future upgrades to any platform requiring Link-16. In response to the JROC memorandum, current Link-16 platform users identified the need for the procurement and/or retrofit of 3,370 additional Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) CMN-4, F-22 Raptor, Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) terminals. This increase in scope will be in addition to the current scope in the original Class Justification and Approval (CJ&A) No. 17,226 approved April 25, 2014 for the MIDS JTRS; the amended CJ&A No. 18,012 approved Jan. 18, 2017, for the addition of the MIDS JTRS TTNT development effort; and CJ&A No. 18,415 approved on Sept. 11, 2018, for the addition of MIDS Modernization Increment 2, retrofits, and additional MIDS JTRS terminals, not including F-22s. The modification will increase the contract value to $789,000,000. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, Air Force and MIDS Program Office, as well as to the governments of Austria, Chile, Finland, Israel, Jordan, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This contract also includes purchases to NATO and all NATO nations under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Carlsbad, California, and work is expected to be completed May 2020. No additional funding will be placed on contract or obligated at the time of modification award. Existing contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Future contract actions will be issued and funds obligated as individual delivery orders. This contract modification was not competitively procured because it is a follow-on sole-source, multiple-award procurement pursuant to the authority of Title 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1): only one or a limited number of responsible sources (Federal Acquisition Regulation subpart 6.302-1(a)(2)). Non-competitive procedures were approved for this modification under CJ&A 19,415. Naval Information Warfare System Command, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity.
18 Jul 19. UK, US militaries join forces to keep the upper hand in space. Britain has joined forces with the United States in a coalition aimed at bolstering space defenses against hostile actions by rivals such as China and Russia, according to Britain’s defense secretary. In a second space-related tie-up, the two countries are partnering in a project to field a small-satellite demonstrator within a year, Penny Mordaunt told delegates at the Air and Space Power Conference in London on July 18.
Britain is the first international partner to formally sign up for what is a little-known, American-led coalition called Operation Olympic Defender aimed at strengthening allies’ abilities to deter hostile actions by rivals.
Mordaunt said over the next 18 months that Britain will send eight personnel to the U.S. Combined Space Operations Center in California to support the operation.
Britain will join the U.S. and other international partners in a coalition formed to “strengthen deterrence against hostile actors in space and reduce the spread of debris in orbit,” she said.
Mordaunt told the audience of air force chiefs and others that rivals were already “doing all they can to disrupt access to services” like global communications, intelligence, surveillance and navigation.
The defense secretary laid out the scale of threats already posed in space.
“China has tested hit-to-kill interceptor missiles increasing deadly debris and threatening every sovereign space enterprise. Russia is conducting sophisticated on-orbit activities, developing missile interceptors to threaten satellites and electronic warfare systems to jam satellite signals. And nonstate actors and cyber hackers have the potential to scramble satellite data and manipulate Earth-observation data to their advantage,” she said.
“The U.K. must be ready to face these dangers and [the Ministry of] Defence must play its part … but we know we cannot compete in this contested and dangerous world alone,” she added.
With “partnership” the name of the game, further evidence of Anglo-U.S. cooperation in space also came through Mordaunt’s announcement of a trans-Atlantic team of British and American personnel formed under the banner of Team Artemis to launch a constellation and undertake research into the military potential of small satellites.
Industry is expected to be involved. More details of the program will likely be revealed at the Royal International Air Tattoo opening at Fairford air base, southwest England, on July 19.
Mordaunt said Britain will invest £30m (U.S. $37m) in Artemis. But Royal Air Force officers said the total amount of money available to the program would be significantly larger.
The two allies are fast-tracking the development and hope to launch the demonstrator within 12 months.
For the most part, Britain dominates the small-satellite market, with the Airbus-owned company Surrey Satellite Technology alone accounting for 40 percent of the market share worldwide.
Surrey Satellites developed the Carbonite 2 spacecraft to demonstrate the ability of small, low-orbit satellites to provide high-resolution, full-motion video and imagery in color.
Carbonite 2 was launched on board the Indian PSLV rocket. The Artemis spacecraft, however, is likely to be launched from a dedicated small-satellite launcher able to demonstrate speed of response required to deploy the spacecraft in low orbit.
The government didn’t directly address the issue of launch, but Mordaunt’s announcement that an RAF test pilot has been seconded to work on Virgin Orbit’s small-satellite launch program seems to indicate the direction of travel.
Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket was recently successfully launched from under the wing of a 747 aircraft over the Mojave desert, opening the way for the company to deploy commercial payloads.
The company is considering using an airfield in Newquay, western England, as a spaceport to operate the 747 launch service.
The head of the Royal Air Force, who is about to step down from the job, announced the service is reforming 23 Sqn as a space squadron responsible for day-to-day space command and control, including the flying of satellites and coordination with allies.
While Mordaunt lifted the lid on some space thinking this week, industry executives and others are still awaiting the release of the MoD’s defense space strategy, which has been repeatedly postponed. It’s the key document detailing how Britain intends to develop its approach to space in the decade ahead.
Although now heavily revised, it’s been awaiting publication for well over a year. The last plan to publish in May was scuttled by the sacking of then-Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
The latest from the MoD on publication came in the form of a written parliamentary answer last week: “Our strategic work on space has developed significantly and will play a key role in spending review decisions. We expect to publish later this year.” (Source: Defense News)
17 Jul 19. ATLAS Space Operations Announces Support for AWS Ground Station. ATLAS Space Operations, a leading innovator of ground communications in the space industry and a member of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN), today announced support for AWS Ground Station within the ATLAS Space Operations Freedom™ Network. The collaboration provides customers an expanded network of satellite ground stations, simplified satellite management, and easy access to other AWS services for data processing, storage, and analysis.
“ATLAS is working with AWS to simplify communications for satellite operators, and I think our customers are going to love leveraging AWS Ground Station from our network.”
“ATLAS’ status as a member of the AWS Partner Network stems from our shared value of customer prioritization,” said Sean McDaniel, CEO and Co-Founder of ATLAS. “ATLAS is working with AWS to simplify communications for satellite operators, and I think our customers are going to love leveraging AWS Ground Station from our network.”
As a member of the APN, ATLAS continues to simplify complex tasks by optimizing the value-added AWS services and features that satellite operators need to facilitate a mission. Whether you’re conducting scientific research or operating a mega-constellation of satellites imaging the Earth, ATLAS gives you the Freedom™ to focus on your mission. ATLAS has pre-integrated Freedom™ with the AWS Ground Station network, which means both new and established AWS users are fully covered.
ATLAS provides access to AWS services within the Freedom Platform, allowing satellite operators to access a fully managed ground network for satellite communications, as well as data processing and distribution. Among the many value-added AWS services and features that can be accessed are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for optimizing network scheduling and load balancing; Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for cloud storage, recording satellite passes, and operations meta-data; Amazon CloudWatch for network monitoring and application level system monitoring; and AWS Site-to-Site VPN for secure ground site/cloud connection.
For example, consider a team of scientists and entrepreneurs who have created a constellation of Earth observation satellites for polar orbit. They need assurance that their data will arrive within a specified timeframe, which is the responsibility of a ground service provider. Should an anomaly arise with a satellite, waiting for the next pass over a pole won’t be acceptable. Through a single integration with Freedom™, ATLAS can provide optimal access to any ATLAS or AWS Ground Station antenna — on demand, and in near-real time. This process provides the end customer with peace of mind knowing that their valuable space assets will be able to deliver critical information. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Jul 19. Comtech wins US Army funding for upgraded BFT satellite terminal. Comtech Telecommunications’ Command & Control Technologies group has received funding from the US Army to develop an enhanced version of its next-generation MT-2025 Blue Force Tracking (BFT) satellite terminal.
The company will equip the advanced terminal with a dual-mode BFT satellite transceiver and new antenna nulling technology.
The Command & Control Technologies group won the $4.2m funding through its subsidiary Comtech Mobile Datacom.
Also known as the Blue Force Tracker-2 High Capacity (BFT-2-HC) Satellite Transceiver, the MT-2025 transceiver supports the army’s Blue Force Tracking-2 (BFT-2) system.
It is fully backwards compatible with the US Army’s Blue-Force Tracking-1 situational awareness system (BFT-1). In addition, the transceiver is designed to comply with BFT-2 protocols.
The BFT system enables commanders and troops to obtain situational awareness on the battlefield.
Comtech Telecommunications president and CEO Fred Kornberg said: “These awards demonstrate the army’s high confidence in Comtech’s BFT technology and innovation capabilities that can be used on future BFT systems.
“Comtech remains committed to providing the US Army and its soldiers with the most innovative technology, enabling them to successfully complete all their missions, regardless of electronic warfare environments.”
The company is providing sustaining support for the US Army’s BFT-1 system and has so far supplied in excess of 100,000 BFT-1 mobile satellite transceivers.
In February last year, Comtech received an initial order from the service to supply MT-2025 transceivers in support of the BFT-2 system.
Comtech’s MT-2025 offers secure and reliable two-way messaging and can meet high data rates and encryption requirements. BFT-2 is part of the US Army’s Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) programme, which provides a friendly force tracking system. (Source: army-technology.com)
17 Jul 19. Are LEO satellites approaching a breaking point for the Pentagon? Broadband provided by low earth orbit satellites could soon be cheaper than fiber networks, said Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a transformation that would be a boon to the Pentagon’s efforts to put its own assets in LEO constellations for missile warning capabilities, communications and more.
The ongoing miniaturization of satellites along with developments in rocket technology are lowering costs of building and launching large constellations, making them increasingly attractive to the commercial sector, he said.
“Satellites are becoming smaller, so miniaturization is a key piece of what’s happening in the satellite sector,” said Selva during a June 28 conversation at the Brookings Institute. “But it’s not just miniaturization. It’s integration, so the capacity to make a small satellite that will do multiple things. Similarly, if you want to specialize that same satellite, the integration of sensors into storage and transmission methodologies that allow you to build a much more elegant sensor on a smaller platform that demands less power. And so the value of each pound you put in space is rising. So the value of each satellite is going up.
“If you can imagine in your mind’s eye launching a school bus-sized satellite or a collection of beer keg-sized satellites, that’s an entirely different architecture. So the value per pound of what’s going into space has gone way up,” said Selva.
Multiple companies have filed plans to launch constellations with hundreds of satellites to provide commercial broadband services. SpaceX, for instance, launched 60 small satellites into LEO in May as part of Starlink, a constellation of thousands of satellites capable of providing global broadband. Facebook, OneWeb, Telesat and Amazon are all pursuing similar projects.
Selva’s comments seem to line up with the aspirations of DARPA’s Blackjack program. Blackjack envisions about 20 small satellites placed within a commercial constellation, with each satellite hosting multiple Department of Defense payloads, from missile warning to communications systems. In doing so, Blackjack takes advantage of both miniaturization and integration.
The Space Development Agency, a new organization created to develop how the Pentagon will organize its assets in space, appears to support the Blackjack vision. In its brief existence, the SDA has released a notional space architecture that would build on Blackjack, using multiple LEO constellations to host DoD payloads and replace larger single-purpose satellites.
The other development Selva credits with making LEO constellations more affordable is rocket technology.
“We’re turning a corner in two ways in the development of new rocket technologies. One is simplicity. So imagine a 3-D printed, disposable rocket that has no moving parts. Those actually exist,” said Selva. “They’re capable of launching a set of satellites, a collection of about 1,500 kg of beer keg-sized satellites, every six days.”
On the other end of the spectrum, said Selva, are companies using autonomous landing technology to create reusable rockets. Both SpaceX and Blue Origen have successfully landed reusable rockets.
“The fact that we don’t have to replace all that hardware actually gives you a model that says over time, you reduce the price per pound of quality that you put into orbit. And that makes possible conversations like broadly distributed low earth orbit constellations that can provide broadband internet on a global scale. People imagined that in the late ’90s, but because it was so expensive to put a satellite on orbit fiber killed the satellite constellations.”
The replacement of fiber networks with satellite broadband could become a reality if satellites continue trending towards affordability.
“We may be approaching a break point in the cost of the technologies that says proliferating low earth orbit constellation of broadband internet satellites will be much more useful that a web of fiber that circles the earth,” said Selva. “I’m not suggesting for the moment that that’s an absolute, but when you get to that break point you’re in a different business model.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Jul 19. Ambitious Space Programme outlined by the Defence Secretary. Today’s defence related news includes coverage of the Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt’s speech this morning where she outlined the MOD’s ambitious space programme. The Defence Secretary committed £30m to fast-track the launch of a small satellite demonstrator within a year.
The small satellite demonstrator, which will be supported by a new transatlantic team of UK and US defence personnel, named Team ARTEMIS, will sit alongside a host of other programmes that will demonstrate the UK’s leading future role in space. (Source: U.K. MoD)
ADS welcomes announcements from the Air and Space Power Conference
Following several announcements from the Air and Space Power Conference, ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “The future of defence will be shaped by new threats in non-traditional domains such as space and cyber. Today’s announcements, by the Secretary of State for Defence, signal the UK’s ambition and determination to lead in these important new domains. The UK is a world-leader in small satellite technology having built 40% of all small satellites currently in orbit. It is great that this is recognised by the MoD and they are planning to utilise this homegrown expertise for strategic advantage. Yesterday’s announcement that Rolls-Royce have been awarded a contract worth £10m to develop hypersonic propulsion systems alongside its technology partners BAE Systems and Reaction Engines, also shows the industry’s commitment to developing new capability and supporting world class UK technology.”
17 Jul 19. USAF satellite communications get more resilient signal . A new wideband communications satellite will give the Air Force more resiliency and a stronger signal from space according to a July 10 news release from the service’s 4th Space Operations Squadron. The 10th satellite in the Wideband Global SATCOM system was officially handed over to the Air Force during a July 10 ceremony when the 4th Space Operations Squadron accepted control. The satellite launched into orbit on a Delta IV rocket from United Launch Alliance March 15 and has been undergoing testing by Boeing, the satellite’s prime contractor, to verify that it was performing properly and had arrived in geostationary orbit.
The latest addition to the constellation will provide increased resilience and capacity and provide more bandwidth for Army users on the battlefield. According to the Air Force, the satellite will add 17 percent more signal strength to the system.
“Anytime we put a satellite vehicle in orbit, we are gaining more resiliency, which is important in an operationally contested and degraded environment,” added Lt. Col. Timothy Ryan, 4th SOPS commander. “More importantly, it gives more of the abilities and the capabilities of the satellite to the war fighter.”
For years, this vehicle was expected to be the final satellite in the WGS constellation, with the Air Force looking at alternative ways to provide wideband communications, including buying commercial services. But in 2018, Congress overrode the Air Force and fully funded an additional two satellites in the series.
On April 19, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $605m contract modification with $300m available immediately to produce the 11th satellite. That modification brings the total value of Boeing’s current WGS contract to $2.5bn. Work is expected to be completed by Nov. 20, 2023. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Jul 19. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has acquired its first satellite ground control station to support future space research activities for the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Based at Portsdown West, Hampshire, the ground station will use its 6.3m diameter antenna to direct satellites in both low-Earth and geosynchronous orbits, and will form a core part of the Dstl Space Science & Technology (S&T) programme.
Scientists from Dstl’s Space Group will develop and test software for satellite operations, and train civilian and military personnel in satellite mission operations. Towards the end of 2019, the ground station will task its first satellites, before progressing to control multiple satellite missions and other ground assets by 2021.
This ground station represents the first of a number of significant steps in conducting in-orbit research and concept demonstrator missions for the benefit of the MOD to better understand the space domain to enable freedom of action for future UK operations. This includes the protection of UK operations against emerging space-based threats.
Dstl Chief Executive, Gary Aitkenhead, commented: “Dstl is building world-class expertise in developing systems for the space environment. Creating a ground infrastructure for future Space S&T missions is a key milestone in the continued rapid growth in our Space programme, supporting both Dstl, our colleagues across the MOD, and our other national and international partners.”
18 Jul 19. UK announces ‘ambitious’ defence space programme. The UK government has announced what it describes to be an “ambitious” defence space programme that will see more than GBP30m (USD37.25m) invested in a number of separate but related efforts.
Speaking at the 2019 Chief of the Air Staff’s Air and Space Power Conference (ASPC) in London on 18 July, Secretary of State for Defence Penny Mordaunt outlined the initiatives that she said would enhance the United Kingdom’s defence capabilities in the face of evolving threats from hostile actors in space.
“Space underpins everything,” she said, adding, “The successful military powers of the future are going to be those that most easily and quickly assimilate change [in the defence environment] to their advantage.”
The six new efforts outlined by Mordaunt comprise a satellite development and launch programme, a counter counter-satellite effort, the secondment of a military test pilot with a commercial space launch organisation, the creation of a new military command to oversee operations in the space domain and beyond, a competition to boost the capabilities of UK satellites in orbit, and the building of new ground control station facilities.
The small satellite demonstrator programme will see a constellation of satellites launched into low-earth orbit within a year, to be funded through an initial GBP30m from the government’s Transformation Fund. This effort, which may eventually see live high-resolution video beamed directly into the cockpits of Royal Air Force (RAF) combat aircraft, is being supported by the newly founded Team Artemis.
The counter counter-satellite effort will see the UK become the first international partner in the United States’ Operation ‘Olympic Defender’, which is geared at countering the threat posed by hit-to-kill technologies that are being developed to bring down satellites in orbit. The UK will add eight personnel to this mission located at the Combined Space Operations Center in California over the coming 18 months. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jul 19. Space Force: What Is It Good For? Missing in the national security space conversation, says Aerospace Corporation’s Russ Rumbaugh, is how space operations can and should fit with diplomacy and foreign policy. Instead, he said, the debate is solely about “how do I win the war I see.” Congress and the Pentagon need to answer this question: what problem is the Space Force trying to solve?
While it might seem a straightforward question, it isn’t. Not only are there direct questions about how does an independent service for space resolve problems challenging US national security space operations and management, experts say. There is an elemental debate inside the military, the Intelligence Community and Congress about the future of warfare and space power’s role in it.
Unfortunately, the current discussion about the Space Force tends to be more narrowly defined.
“When people talk about the current debate they tend to think about this in terms of who’s in charge, who’s in control — the classic rice bowl debate,” says Jamie Morin, vice president of Defense Systems Operations at the Aerospace Corporation. “The focus has been on the ‘who’s in charge question’ and how the different (congressional) committees have different perspectives on that, and the department’s proposal’s in a different place. But the broader question is still what problem are we solving? And some of the differences in perspective are because different people have different ideas about the problems that we’re solving.”
The House and Senate, in their competing versions of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), have taken differing approaches to separate the Air Force’s space activities into a Marine Corps-like structure — which the House calls a Space Corps and the Senate calls a Space Force. Both bills differ (more or less dramatically) with the Space Force proposal put forward by the Pentagon. And none of these takes on what a Space Force should look like go all the way to establishing a new Department of Space, as originally advocated by President Donald Trump.
Sadly, the problems that plague national security space are myriad, making the challenge of figuring out what to address — much less how to do so — extremely difficult.
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“It’s not an easy issue: it’s not one where the Senate says $10 and the House says $5 and we compromise at $7.50. That’s not we’re dealing with here,” Morin says.
Speaking to me after today’s seminar, “Changing Spaces and Places: National Security Space in a Time of Transition,” cosponsored by the Aerospace Corporation and George Washington University, Morin articulated a laundry list of issues:
“Is it an acquisition problem, in that we’re too slow? Is it a ‘what we try to buy problem’ in that our architectures aren’t designed right? Is it a human capital problem, in that we’re not recruiting and training and retaining the people we need and promoting the right people? Is it a resource advocacy problem, in that you don’t have powerful enough people pounding the table and making the case for appropriate investments in space capability? Is a lack of operational concepts? Is it an inability to adapt doctrine and thinking to an emerging contested domain?”
This has led to a situation where “different advocates for change will point to different parts of that problem, and while many of them have views in common, when you get to the bottom of this there’s still significant differences — at the very least in terms of which of these is most important,” he said.
But the lack of cohesion about national security space goes even deeper, says Russ Rumbaugh, systems director for the Aerospace Corp’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy.
“There are a bunch of people who care very deeply about national security who are making decisions now, and they don’t quite understand why they are making them. That’s because the people who are advising them aren’t quite saying what they what to say,” he says.
For example, he explains, some Space Force advocates who are focused primarily on the need for establishing ‘space control’ talk about ‘deterrence by denial’ — that is, taking actions to decrease or eliminate the value to an adversary of an attack on US space systems. But what they are really trying to do, he says, is to obfuscate the fact they really want to attack the other side’s capabilities.
“That’s why,” he says, “you continue to have this disconnect between the space policy conversation and the broader defense policy conversation — because the broad policy conversation… is about how do you deter the bad guy” rather than about the goal of space operations themselves.
This tendency to speak in code about what kind of space operations are required in the future — and the fact that military space operators can’t agree about what’s needed — has directly led to what Rumbaugh calls a “muddled” conversation now underway about the Space Force, as well as about the overarching organizational structure of national security space.
Rumbaugh has developed a kind of taxonomy on space operations. He says he hopes it will help break the space geek code so that “people who are making decisions right now can better understand what they are doing.”
These schools of thought range from those who want to “Keep the Plumbing Running” by continuing to focus space activities on supporting traditional military operations to those championing a far reaching “Galactic Battle Fleet” where space power is supreme — a school that champions not only space-based weapons but includes concepts like a Coast Guard in space.
In between these extremes is the currently dominant school of thought within the Air Force, which is “Space Control First.” This assumes space control and warfighting in space must happen first to protect the ability of space assets to fulfill their various missions. “It’s air superiority in space,” Rumbaugh said. Air Force space leaders are most concerned with “winning” the war when it happens, and that implies championing a need for new offensive weapons.
Missing in the national security space conversation, he adds, is how space operations can and should also fit with diplomacy and foreign policy. Instead, he said, the debate is solely about “how do I win the war I see.”
Rumbaugh’s study, “What Place for Space: Competing Schools of Operational Thought in Space,” is due to be released in the next few weeks. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
17 Jul 19. Expected ULA Launch of Second GPS III Satellite Delayed. The scheduled launch of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the Air. Force’s second GPS III satellite has been delayed until the end of August due to an issue discovered in testing, the alliance said July 17. The launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 2 was originally scheduled for July 25 but is now targeted
for no earlier than Aug. 22, according to a ULA tweet. An anomaly was discovered during component testing at a supplier, “which has created a cross-over concern,” the tweet said.
United Launch Alliance is a joint venture formed by Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Boeing [BA]. The component was a common part used in the upper stage of both the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles, said Julie Arnold, ULA spokeswoman in a Wednesday email to Defense Daily. She did not specify what the component was or provide the name of its supplier.
“During final acceptance testing of the component at the supplier, the support equipment measured off-nominal voltage,” she said in the email. “The team is reviewing the data and inspecting the hardware to determine root cause. Additional time is needed to replace and retest the component on the launch vehicle.”
The launch will mark the final payload launch aboard ULA’s Delta IV “Medium+” configuration. Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the GPS III program, said the second space vehicle was “ready for launch” July 8 (Defense Daily, July 8). The third GPS III satellite has been declared “available for launch.” (Source: Defense Daily)
16 Jul 19. Made In Space (MIS) has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) a subcontract to support NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) demonstration of the autonomous robotic manufacturing and assembly platform, Archinaut, on a flight mission. The flight demonstration contract award marks the second phase of the NASA-funded Archinaut technology development program which was initially awarded in 2016.
“Demonstrating additive manufacturing in space will open up new doors in the design and construction of space structures that to date have been limited by the volume of a launch vehicle,” said Richard Stapp, vice president, resiliency and rapid prototyping, Northrop Grumman. “Effectively building structures in space is one of the next big steps in our continuous journey of space exploration.”
The objective of Archinaut’s flight demonstration mission is to construct two 10 meter solar arrays, on orbit, to power a small satellite. The Archinaut system will be integrated into an ESPA class satellite bus and launched into space. Once on orbit, Archinaut will employ its extended structure additive manufacturing capabilities and advanced robotics to manufacture and assemble the satellite’s power generation system. The Archinaut-created solar array will yield nearly five times the power currently available to ESPA-class satellites.
Archinaut’s flight demo mission will demonstrate transformative, near-term benefits for the satellite industry. Robust small satellite power systems manufactured on-orbit, would reduce launch mass and cost by allowing small satellites to host power-intensive payloads previously reserved for larger platforms. These benefits could drastically lower the barrier of entry for new users and revolutionize satellite design.
This flight demonstration contract award follows a successful ground-based testing campaign of Archinaut’s core additive manufacturing and robotic assembly technologies, qualifying the Archinaut platform for spaceflight. Northrop Grumman supported phase 1 of Archinaut development by hosting thermal vacuum testing at Space Park in California. This testing marked a critical milestone in the Archinaut program to validate the technology readiness of Archinaut’s system for the space environment. Northrop Grumman’s resiliency and rapid prototyping program leveraged its extensive engineering expertise in avionics and systems integration during the first phase of the program.
17 Jul 19. Success for EOS satellite with 21 years of operations. Australian-based Electro Optic Systems (EOS) has announced a major milestone with 21 years of operation of its EOSCOM communications test satellite. After 21 years of operation, the satellite continues to provide EOS with unique capabilities for the development of advanced communication technologies and devices. EOSCOM was launched on 17 July 1998 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite design, fabrication and placement in orbit was conceived, planned and funded entirely by EOS, with the Russian Space Agency providing support under contract to EOS.
At the time of its launch, EOS designated the satellite as ‘Westpac’ to recognise the key role of the Western Pacific Laser Ranging Network (Westpac) in experiments associated with the initial science program for the satellite. The Westpac organisation is a multi-national collaboration in space research and operations.
Speaking on the 21st launch anniversary of EOSCOM, Dr Ben Greene, the group CEO of EOS, welcomed the milestone, saying, “EOS is proud of the contributions to science made through the use of EOSCOM. Knowledge acquired through the satellite is being applied to the protection of our environment and to mitigate other societal threats.”
EOS has provided key office holders in Westpac since its foundation in Canberra in 1994. Five Westpac member countries have commercially acquired and deployed EOS space technology and products.
After completion of the science program in 2013, the satellite was renamed EOSCOM to reflect its long-term mission as an EOS communication test bed. Key missions undertaken during the initial science program included:
- Relativistic effects on photons: EOSCOM carries optical retro-reflectors to facilitate laser tracking with low power laser beams. Prior to the launch of EOSCOM all satellite retro-reflectors were designed to implement physical corrections required be relativity, but their successful operation could not exclude other important physical theories.
- Gravity field probing: Prior to the launch of EOSCOM the earth’s gravity was being mapped to high accuracy using laser tracking of satellites. By 1995 this activity was limited in its progress by knowledge of the location of the centre of mass of each spacecraft, relative to the reflecting surface providing the laser tracking signal. Gravity acts only through the satellite centre of mass.
- Global warming and sea levels: The gravity field and laser tracking accuracy improvements achieved from 1998 now allow special-purpose satellites to monitor sea level and ice mass globally, with sea level accuracy of three millimetres if data is averaged for 12 months. EOS has made strong contributions to these developments, in part through technologies developed through EOSCOM.
“Despite all it has already achieved, EOSCOM is still a leading space platform for investigating quantum entanglement scales, and for developing long-range, ultra-wideband optical communications technology,” Dr Greene added.
These three science missions have been successful, contributing to the pool of technology now being used against major global challenges. EOSCOM is now serving in its long-term role in supporting development of EOS products for communications and SSA (space situation awareness). This role leverages the unique design elements of EOSCOM in several key areas.
These science missions have included a range of specialist missions, including:
- Ultra-wideband optical bandwidth: Almost all space communication today uses microwave technology, which is limited in bandwidth to around 500 GigaHertz. This limit will be reached in the next few years, and there is global demand for higher bandwidth. Optical communications using optical fibres can provide 20 TerraHertz, or 40 times the bandwidth of microwave technology. However, the delivery of those higher optical bandwidths from point-to-point in space, without a fibre to contain the optical energy, has never been achieved. New devices are needed. A key part of communication device development and qualification is testing, and EOSCOM is the only optical communication test satellite capable of testing transmit and receive bandwidths of 20 TerraHertz in space.
- Long range quantum entanglement: The management and control of entangled photons is fundamental to the development of optical quantum communications. Recently, the Chinese Micius satellite achieved fame when it demonstrated the preservation of photon entanglement over 1,200 kilometres. This was almost 10 times longer than previously achieved. The EOSCOM satellite was designed to allow entanglement testing over 2,500 kilometres and these new limits will be explored soon.
“The information and data EOS can extract from EOSCOM operations is a major advantage to EOS, as the sole owner of EOSCOM, in the development of the next generation of communication systems. The satellite is important in our programs for progressive bandwidth extension as well as more radical leaps in quantum communications,” Dr Greene added.
EOS Defence Systems specialises in technology for weapon systems optimisation and integration, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for land warfare.
EOS Space Systems specialises in applying EOS-developed optical sensors to detect, track, classify and characterise objects in space. This information has both military and commercial applications, including managing space assets to avoid collisions with space debris, missile defence and space control. (Source: Space Connect)
17 Jul 19. Commonwealth satellite navigation and positioning body rebrands itself. The section of the federal government’s Geoscience Australia that deals with national satellite-based location systems has rebranded itself as Positioning Australia. It apparently considered a number of possibilities, such as National Positioning Infrastructure, National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC), Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) and Positioning for the Future.
The Canberra-based organisation said there had been a number of names and projects to encapsulate what Geoscience Australia is delivering for Australia’s positioning capability.
That understandably caused confusion and frustration with stakeholders, it said.
”To rectify this, we have undertaken an extensive rebrand process to develop a cohesive brand solution and consolidate our key messages. We’re pleased to welcome you to Positioning Australia,” it said.
“Our mission going forward is to enable Australian industry to progress and thrive by providing the necessary infrastructure for better positioning technology and allow for innovation across all sectors.
“We want to provide information, advice and leadership to help empower the future goals and capability of Australian industry.”
To support this work, its website has been updated with clearer information, industry benefits and case studies.
Positioning Australia aims to set standards and improve technology to allow better use of satellite navigation services across Australia.
These have already proved incredibly useful across a whole range of industry sectors, down to individual smartphone users accessing Google Maps and services such as Uber.
The government is helping. In the last budget, it announced an investment of $224.9m to improve positioning capability and its use even further.
That comprises funding of $160.9m for development of an Australian SBAS to enable even more precise position fixing and $64m for upgrading Australia’s ground network through the NPIC. Though the US global positioning system (GPS) is the best know satellite navigation system, there are actually many other systems developed by other countries.
Australia is actually in the fortunate position of having high visibility to six such systems – the US GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, Japan’s Quasi Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), the European Union’s Galileo, China’s BeiDou and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
Each system contains multiple satellites and can be used by land, sea and airborne users in all weather conditions, anywhere and anytime.
“We’re working to ensure that accurate positioning information is widely available to the community through the Positioning Australia program,” it said on its website.
That’s being delivered through ground station infrastructure known as the NPIC and a system to deliver corrected positioning signals directly via satellite technology through an Australian SBAS.
“Together, these will provide more reliable positioning information, allowing for innovation and efficiency across a range of scenarios such as agriculture, transport, emergency management, mining, engineering and logistics,” it said.
“Current technology typically allows for positioning within five-10 metre accuracy but through this program, accuracy will be improved to within three centimetres in areas with mobile phone coverage and 10 centimetres everywhere else.” (Source: Space Connect)
09 Jul 19. Honeywell award signifies critical role of GX for U.S. government. Inmarsat is proud to announce that long-time, value-added manufacturing partner, Honeywell, has been selected to provide the JetWave™ satellite communication (SATCOM) systemfor 70 C-17 aircraft as a part of the Fixed Installation Satellite Antenna program for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
The award underscores the continuing innovation that our Global Xpress service brings to U.S. government customers and the critical role it will play in the operations of these aircraft.
Honeywell’s JetWave’s Ka-band Fuselage-mounted antenna (MCS-8100)/Tail-mounted antenna (MCS-8000) will be combined with Global Xpress to deliver the most extensive global coverage for a reliable command-and-control link – including over water, on non-traditional flight paths and in remote areas – for the beyond-line-of-sight communications system.
JetWave will support and improve the en route communication capabilities for the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, resulting in real-time situational awareness for the aircrew, soldiers on board, and ground-based command leadership, ultimately enabling better decision-making and enhancing safety.
The expanded communications capabilities will include real-time weather, video conferencing, large file transfer, encryption capabilities, in-flight briefings, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance video and secure communications. High-throughput reliable wideband will allow aircraft in transit to be linked with command elements and forces anywhere in the world. With the improved situational awareness, mission operators will be able to better assess and adjust to the battlefield environment, en route and in real time.
Honeywell’s JetWave satellite communications system allows users to connect to Global Xpress, the first and only end-to-end commercial Ka-band network from a single operator that delivers worldwide service.
Through Global Xpress, Inmarsat Government is bringing the advantages of seamless, consistent, high-throughput wideband connectivity to U.S. government users anywhere, anytime.
Global Xpress has proven its superiority as a readily available, dependable, flexible and affordable option for global access and uniform coverage, with reliable quality of service from one edge of a spot beam to another, backed by solid service level agreements and committed information rates worldwide.
Our future innovation arrives at no capital expense for our customers. Once we implement and tests these new improvements, users simply “connect” and get to enjoy the benefits.
The C-17 Globemaster III is critical for airlift capability, delivering troops and cargo to bases in any environment. JetWave provides the DoD’s C-17 aircraft with global, seamless, high-data-rate communications while travelling to overseas locations. The system’s interoperability and real-time updates enable the DoD aircraft to remain in continuous communication with ground elements as they deploy.
The initial order of 10 JetWave systems will be delivered to the U.S. DoD by June 2019, and the overall program runs through 2021.
Honeywell reached a similar agreement in 2017 with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to provide a fuselage-mount antenna on a C-130J Hercules military transport aircraft. That agreement was expanded in April 2019 as the RAAF announced plans to include JetWave on five additional Hercules aircraft. These planes are frequently used to deliver disaster relief in Australia and the Pacific region. JetWave successfully demonstrated on the first C-130J its ability to use several secure military applications that previous technology couldn’t enable due to bandwidth restrictions, including live video streaming and encrypted file transfer.
16 Jul 19. MOU to support Australian development of satellite IoT capability. The Australian Space Agency has signed a statement of strategic intent and co-operation with Australian space start-up Myriota, to enhance the capabilities of Australia’s space industry.
Myriota, global leader in nanosatellite internet of things (IoT) connectivity, and the Australian Space Agency have signed a statement of strategic intent aimed at expanding Australia’s growing space industry.
In a world-first, Myriota is the first Australian start-up to sign such an statement; joining international powerhouse Boeing, as well as other significant space companies, who penned their own statement of strategic intent with the Australian Space Agency in April.
With a specialisation in telecommunications, knowledge and experience in R&D, IP creation and satellite operations, Myriota is a growing player in Australia’s space industry; developing products for global and local applications, while contributing to the growth of Australia’s space sector in the area of satellite communications.
Deputy head of the Australian Space Agency, Anthony Murfett, welcomed the statement and its contribution to the transformation of Australia’s space sector.
“This statement embodies the transformation we are witnessing in the space industry both here in Australia and around the world – it demonstrates that businesses of all sizes can make a significant contribution to Australia’s space industry,” Murfett said.
“The Australian Space Agency goal is to triple the size of the Australian space sector from $3.9bn to $12bn, and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030. This statement highlights how companies are contributing to the growth of the sector and how space technologies can help other areas of the economy. Myriota is a global leader in nanosatellite internet of things connectivity, and their use of nanosatellite technology is used to solve issues affecting everyday Australians, including water and agricultural management in regional Australia.”
Myriota is an Australian company specialising in the provision of IoT data connectivity via low-Earth orbit satellite, which aims to enable Australian and global industries to obtain the sensor and location data they need to digitally transform their businesses.
“The establishment of the Australian Space Agency comes at a time when nanosatellites and IoT are helping to solve major issues that have long plagued Australian businesses, such as manual water monitoring in regional Australia,” Dr Alex Grant, CEO and co-founder of Myriota, said.
“We’ve outlined our growth plan,s which include adding 25 satellites to our constellation and expanding our team to 50 people by 2022 in order to support the delivery of these solutions.”
The statement outlines a number of plans that the Adelaide business has for growth, including:
- Expanding its current constellation to 25 satellites by 2022;
- Hosting 10 internships per year across the business to encourage interest in STEM, with a particular focus on growing female involvement in technology companies;
- Growing the number of employees from 25 to over 50 by 2022; and
- Delivering sensor connectivity for lunar and planetary exploration missions.
“We’re passionate about fostering a diverse STEM workforce. Our strategy has a particular focus on developing initiatives that profile the achievements of female tech leaders, while investing in women in STEM programs to creating a thriving female workforce,” Dr Grant continued.
Australia’s plan for the civil space sector is outlined in Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028. The Australian Space Agency is responsible for whole-of-government co-ordination of civil space matters. It is the primary source of advice to the government on civil space policy. This involves:
- Providing national policy and strategic advice on the civil space sector;
- Co-ordinating Australia’s domestic civil space sector activities;
- Supporting the growth of Australia’s space industry and the use of space across the broader economy;
- Leading international civil space engagement;
- Administering space activities legislation and delivering on international obligations; and
- Inspiring the Australian community and the next generation of space entrepreneurs.
Founded in 2015 to commercialise technology generated at the University of South Australia, Myriota has developed an ultra-low-cost satellite IoT service. Its cutting-edge technology makes IoT possible for a wide range of remote industries including agriculture, asset tracking, utilities and defence. Current deployments include asset tracking and monitoring, agricultural water monitoring, environmental monitoring and more. (Source: Space Connect)
14 Jul 19. Kleos Space signs agreement with L3 Harris. ASX-listed Kleos Space has partnered with US technology firm L3 Harris to market its satellite service geo-locating maritime radio transmissions to US government agencies. Under this agreement, L3 Harris will place the Kleos product suite on its GSA Earth Observations Solutions schedule and prepare and present mission scenario demonstrations to the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
“The valuable data Kleos provides will allow mission critical geospatial solutions to be offered to the US defence community,” said Kleos chief executive Andy Bowyer.
A GSA Schedule Contract is a US government procurement process that allows a product to be sold across the US federal government, including to the Department of Defense. During the term of the contract, any federal customer can order any quantity of the good or service. Kleos said L3 Harris, formed from the merger of L3 Technologies and Harris Corporation last month, had decades of experience delivering mission critical technologies to the US intelligence community and geospatial intelligence customers.
That was done through forming partnerships with agencies to effectively collect, process, manage, analyse and deliver mission data.
Kleos plans to launch four eight-kilogram CubeSats into low-Earth orbit as the primary payload aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch from New Zealand next month.
These four satellites will form the Kleos Scouting Mission, the start of an eventual constellation of 20 satellites providing global monitoring of maritime radio frequencies.
That allows accurate location of vessels in distress, as well as those not broadcasting automatic identification system (AIS) signals. AIS is the maritime version of aircraft transponder identification systems.
Kleos, based in Luxembourg, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in August last year, raising $11m to fund its operations.
Government agencies can use that information to enhance border and maritime security and safety.
Kleos doesn’t this niche market all to itself. US start-up Hawkeye 360 also tracks radio signals from space. It launched its first three satellites last December and is now marketing its services.
Kleos has also appointed a regional space expert Pierre Duquesne as its sales representative for the South American market.
Duquesne has more than 20 years’ experience in different business development, marketing, sales and general management roles in the regional space industry, most recently as managing director for Airbus Intelligence in South America.
According to The Corporacion Andina de Fomento, the development bank of Latin America, the Latin America and the Caribbean maritime and port sector will grow substantially by 2040, with planned investments exceeding €45bn in the coming decade. (Source: Space Connect)
14 Jul 19. EU’s GPS Satellites Have Been Down for Four Days In Mysterious Outage. Galileo, the EU’s global navigation satellite system, has been down for four days, since July 11, following a mysterious outage. All Galileo satellites are still non-operational, at the time of writing. According to a service status page, 24 of the 26 Galileo satellites are listed as “not usable,” while the other two are listing a status of “testing,” which also means they’re not ready for real-world usage.
The European GNSS Agency (GSA), the organization in charge of Galileo, has not published any information in regards to the root of the outage, which began four days ago, on Thursday, July 11.
On that day, the GSA published an advisory on its website alerting companies and government agencies employing the Galileo system that satellite signals have degraded and they “may not be available nor meet the minimum performance levels.”
The agency warned that the Galileo system “should be employed at users’ own risk.”
The GSA published a more dire warning on Saturday, July 13, when it said that Galileo was experiencing a full-service outage and that “signals are not to be used.”
At the time of writing, the service is nearing 100 hours of downtime.(Source: defense-aerospace.com/ ZD Net)
13 Jul 19. Can commercial satellites revolutionize nuclear command and control? The rapid growth of commercial space makes the use of non-government satellites for nuclear command and control increasingly tempting, according to one official. During a speech June 26, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said that the service — which oversees both the United States’ ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as strategic bombers capable of delivering nuclear warheads — was open to the idea of using private sector satellites.
“Whether it’s Silicon Valley or commercial space, there’s unlimited opportunities ahead right now for us in terms of how we think differently on things like nuclear command and control,” said Goldfien. “I, for one, am pretty excited about it.”
The military has increasingly turned to the commercial sector to expand its capabilities more cost efficiently. For instance, the National Reconnaissance Office — the agency in charge of the nation’s spy satellites — announced that it was looking to expand the amount of satellite imagery it buys from commercial companies. The Air Force has also expressed interest in developing a hybrid architecture for satellite communications, which would see war fighters able to switch between commercial and military satellites as they move through coverage areas.
According to Goldfein, there’s no reason that commercial capabilities could not similarly be applied to nuclear C2.
“The work that we’re doing in connecting the force and building a network force around the services in the conventional side has equal applications to the nuclear command and control side, because at the end of the day what we need is resilient capable architecture that keeps the commander in chief connected,” said Goldfien.
“So 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 in bringing low-Earth orbit capabilities that will allow us to have resilient pathways to communicate.”
Currently, the military relies primarily on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency System for the nuclear sector. With four satellites in orbit and a fifth to be launched later this month, AEHF provides highly secure, anti-jamming communications for the military and national leaders like the commander in chief. It wasn’t clear in Goldfein’s comments whether he was interested in using commercial capabilities to augment, replace or work as a backup to AEHF and other military satellite systems. He did note that the sheer volume of satellites in some commercial constellations provides increased survivability for the network.
“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, our answer ought to be, ‘Peh, I’ve got five other pathways. And you want to take out 1,000 satellites of my constellation, of which I have five? Knock yourself out.’ That’s what I see is going to be a significant way that we’re going to be able to leverage,” said Goldfein.
The possibility of lowering costs is another major incentive to turning to the commercial sector to begin providing the communications necessary.
“What we want to eventually get to is the reversal of the cost curve. Right now it actually costs us more to defend than it takes to shoot. And we want to reverse that so it actually costs them more to shoot than it takes for us to defend,” explained Goldfien.
Goldfein pointed to commercial launches as an area where competition had helped drive down costs.
“Increased access to affordable launch and smaller payloads that are more capable has caused this rapid expansion of commercial capabilities in space,” he said.
“That may be one of the most exciting developments that we have going forward, because industry is going to help us solve many of these problems.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
15 Jul 19. Federal government invests $6m to grow WA’s space capability. Minister for Industry, Technology and Science Karen Andrews has announced the federal government has allocated $6m to advance West Australian space capabilities.
Minister Andrews has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with WA Science Minister Dave Kelly securing the investment.
That’s aimed at encouraging partnerships and engagement with the global space ecosystem to drive economic growth in WA and nationally, and comes in two parts:
- $4.5m towards a robotics and artificial intelligence mission control facility, which will advance the remote operation of autonomous and robotic systems in space; and
- $1.5m to support space data analysis facilities, which will support analysis of satellite data for uses such as mining, agriculture, emergency services and maritime surveillance. It will build capability in data analysis for space missions.
Minister Andrews said the agreement was directed at supporting WA’s space sector to create jobs, diversify the economy and boost innovation.
“This MoU outlines key areas where the Australian Space Agency can work with WA to support business and academia,” she said.
“This agreement will leverage WA’s growing space capabilities in areas such as adopting the robotics and automation capabilities in the resources sector for use in space.
“Every state in Australia has an important role to play as we aim to triple the size of the Australian space sector to $12bn and create another 20,000 jobs by 2030.”
For its part, the WA government has allocated $2m for WA’s partnership with the Australian Space Agency (ASA), with additional funding to be considered in future budgets.
Minister Kelly said the signing of this MoU would unlock national and international opportunities for WA businesses and academia to grow the state’s space industry.
“The robotics and artificial intelligence mission control facility will be a key component in the development of the nation’s capability to advance robotic and autonomous activities in space. WA is well placed to play a leading role in this endeavour, building on our world-leading industry expertise in remote operations,” he said.
“The support to access and analyse space-sourced data will provide benefit to WA across a range of sectors, and will build capability that could lead to a greater role for WA in the analysis of deep space mission data.
“It’s great to see our submission to the ASA in August 2018 showing real dividends for the WA space sector.”
ASA head Dr Megan Clark welcomed the signing of the agreement.
“WA hosts significant civil and defence space infrastructure including the recently opened Airbus Zephyr flight base, has existing collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), and will support the agency’s role in strengthening Australia’s relationship with these and other international space agencies,” she said.
WA and other states all competed to host the ASA, which eventually went to South Australia. The state has substantial space facilities. WA hosts the ESA tracking station at New Norcia, run by the CSIRO, and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Pathfinder and Murchison Widefield Array radio telescopes.
Construction of the full SKA will take place over the next decade. A twin facility will be constructed in South Africa. This multinational project will create the world’s largest and most capable radio telescope.
WA also hosts facilities for tracking objects in space.
“Western Australia’s southern hemisphere location and latitude were ideal for space situational awareness and networks that required global coverage of space assets. They create significant opportunities for space situational awareness, optical communications, astronomy, space operations, and defence space applications,” the WA government said. (Source: Space Connect)
13 Jul 19. France to create space command within air force – Macron. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday he had approved the creation of a space command within the French air force to improve the country’s defence capabilities. Addressing military personnel a day before the Bastille Day parade, Macron said the new military doctrine setting up a space command would strengthen protection of French satellites. He said the investment involved had yet to determined.
“To give substance to this doctrine and ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a space command will be created next September in the air force,” Macron said, adding that it would later become the Space and Air Force.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said last year she was committed to giving France strategic space autonomy in the face of growing threats from other powers amid a race in space militarisation.
The French military spending programme for 2019-2025 has earmarked 3.6bn euros ($4.06bn) for investments and renewal of French satellites.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation aims to recognise space as a domain of warfare this year, four senior diplomats told Reuters in June.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration announced a plan last year to create a new “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the military by 2020.(Source: Reuters)
12 Jul 19. Maxar Begins Production on Legion-class Satellite for Ovzon. Maxar’s Legion-class bus will enable Ovzon to further revolutionize mobile broadband by satellite, offering the highest bandwidth with the smallest terminals. Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR) today announced that it has begun production on a Legion-class geostationary satellite for Ovzon, a company located in the United States and Sweden dedicated to meeting the demand for increased mobile broadband connectivity in underserved regions. Ovzon selected Maxar in December 2018 to build its first satellite, Ovzon 3, which will provide extremely versatile mobile broadband communications for small vehicles, aircraft and users on-the-move. Now that Ovzon has secured financing to build the satellite, Maxar will begin building it in its Palo Alto, California manufacturing facility. The satellite will be based on the mid-size Legion-class platform, formerly called the SSL-500, and is expected to be launched by SpaceX in 2021.
“Maxar’s Legion-class platform offers the benefits of the company’s proven technology and performance from the 1300-class satellite bus with a lower cost and smaller form factor,” said Megan Fitzgerald, Maxar’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Space Solutions. “We’re delighted to collaborate closely with Ovzon on the development of the first satellite in their architecture, which will deliver better communications from space for a better world here on Earth.”
“We chose Maxar to build Ovzon 3 because they have a strong reputation of delivering world-class, reliable products backed by industry leading customer service and manufacturing agility. Ovzon 3 is an important first step towards fulfilling our strategy to further revolutionize mobile broadband by satellite, offering the highest bandwidth with the smallest terminals,” said Magnus René, Chief Executive Officer of Ovzon.
The operations of DigitalGlobe, SSL and Radiant Solutions were unified under the Maxar brand in February; MDA continues to operate as an independent business unit within the Maxar organization. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
09 Jul 19. Blue Canyon Technologies’ Smallsats Support Two NASA Ames/MIT CLICK Flight Demo Missions. Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been selected by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Small Spacecraft Technology program and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, in collaboration with the University of Florida and MIT, to provide multiple 3U spacecraft for the firm’s Lasercom Infrared Crosslink (CLICK) smallsat flight demonstration missions. The cubesats will be used for separate demonstration missions: the first is a laser space-to-ground demonstration mission and the second will demonstrate laser crosslinks and ranging in low-Earth orbit. The new communication capabilities demonstrated by CLICK will enable new classes of smallsat missions, such as swarms for remote sensing or global constellations for communications.
The 3U spacecraft uses BCT’s heritage XB1 avionics to provide a state-of-the-art cubesat platform that maximizes payload volume. The spacecraft includes ultra-high-performance pointing accuracy, a robust power system, command and data handling, RF communications, and dedicated payload interfaces. The spacecraft bus will be developed and tested at BCT’s Spacecraft Manufacturing Center in Colorado.
BCT is currently building more than 60 spacecraft for government, commercial and academic missions. The company has doubled in size over the past 12 months and plans to open its new 80,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility in 2020.
George Stafford, CEO and President of Blue Canyon Technologies, said the company has a unique advantage as a spacecraft bus provider as it is equipped to support high-rate body-pointed lasercom capabilities with our flight-proven precision stability and pointing.
Kerri Cahoy, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, added that demonstrating precision timing and ranging over a lasercom crosslink using BCT CubeSat platforms will enable new capabilities for coordinated and distributed sensing missions. (Source: Satnews)
09 Jul 19. China Planning to Launch an EO Constellation. This is the age of satellite constellations, writes Leah Yecla at International Business Times — following SpaceX and Amazon, China now has plans to launch a constellation of EO satellites, controlled by Artificial Intelligence (AI). China Central Television, a state broadcaster, revealed that the AI-controlled constellation is set to be realized by 2021. A total of 192 individual, AI-controlled, LEO satellites will form a constellation to be known as the Xingshidai. The constellation will be used for traffic as well as environmental monitoring as well as have use in a disaster prevention role. Xingshidai will use multiple resolution sensors. This will ensure that no low-quality images will be sent to Earth and prevent the unnecessary use of resources for low-quality images and data. As of this writing, the Xingshidai satellites are rolling out of production. ADASpace, a Chengdu based Chinese private company, is manufacturing the satellites.
Bringing the AI controlled satellite constellation to orbit is another element that China has likely ironed out. A group headed by Wang Long, project manager of the Chinese team behind the operation, will use the Julang-1 booster rockets to launch the satellites to orbit — the cost will be approximately 25m yuan (£2.87m). Julang-1 has the capability of reaching 600 kilometers (372 miles) in altitude and will be able to carry as much as 330 lbs. (150 kg.) weight. (Source: Satnews)
08 Jul 19. Europe is Designing Satellites that ‘Surf’ their Way Past Space Debris. Humans routinely send spacecraft into orbit to ensure services on the ground and to explore other planets. This extraordinary ability comes with a great responsibility: our space activity risks contaminating the space surrounding the Earth, but also other planets and moons that have potential for past or present life.
Space benefits humanity by making many of our activities on Earth possible: telecommunication, weather forecasting, geolocation through the global navigation satellite system used for ground, maritime and air traffic, as well as remote sensing for monitoring the health of our planet. At the same time, scientific missions increase our knowledge of our solar system, while enabling the development of new technologies, science and space exploration.
However, increased space activity comes at a cost, both in terms of fuel consumption for spacecraft and space debris produced. This debris is in the form of spacecraft abandoned at the end of its operational life, or remainders of space missions and upper stages of launchers, along with all the fragments resulting from collisions and explosions in orbit.
The very existence of the more than 900,000 pieces of debris larger than 1 centimeter in size – large enough to damage operational satellites due to their high orbital speed – poses a serious threat to the sustainability of space activities. The amount of space debris has been rising exponentially, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).
An environmental problem
Interestingly, the growth in space debris has followed a similar trend to many other environmental stressors such as carbon dioxide, ocean acidification, tropical forest loss and terrestrial biosphere degradation. Indeed, all these issues have several aspects in common. Given their global nature, the solutions require strong international cooperation for defining mitigation measures. Indicators of this problem that are relevant, accepted, credible, easy to monitor and robust against manipulation and errors must be agreed upon internationally.
The space debris problem also compels us to use radar and visual telescopes to determine the orbit of space debris, and to develop mathematical and numerical approaches to model their evolution in space and time, as well as tools for collision-avoidance and end-of-life manoeuvres. Many uncertainties must be taken into account in the predictions, such as the Earth’s atmosphere and its interaction with the solar activity, the physical characteristics of uncooperative objects, and untraceable fragments, which make it impossible to achieve a perfect prediction of the debris’ orbit and evolution. (Source: Satnews) (Source: Satnews)
08 Jul 19. NSLSat-1 is Launched to Orbit by a Soyuz-2.1b from Vostochny With New Cloth High Speed Antenna. NSLComm’s first satellite, NSLSat-1, has been successfully launched by a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Far-Eastern Russia. The company is pioneering privately-backed spaceflight and has designed fabric-like, flexible dish antennas that expand in space to offer high-throughput communications for smallsats that is up to 100 times faster than that of today’s best performing smaller satellites, while also offering substantial cost savings (around 10 times) for larger satellites.
The technology permits antennas to be stowed during launch in a compact volume and deploy while in orbit, saving mass, volume, and supporting structures. Post deployment, the antenna has an innovative “smart” subreflector, the FlexoSub, enabling the antenna to compensate for any reflector shape imperfections and change ground patterns while on the fly.
According to the company, this technology is the only solution that can bring high-speed broadband connectivity to and from small terminals, allowing for a full array of applications around IoT and sensors, in areas such as agriculture, mining, oil & gas, shipping, government and more. The technology can also support large pipes of data for internet and video at costs that are significantly lower than current satellite communication technology offers.
The company is initially targeting the government, IoT and high-throughput and trunking markets, worth an estimated $50bn annually. Once in space, NSLSat-1 will be tested with a number of tier-one partners from across the automotive, telecom and travel industries. Several weeks ago, NSLComm signed an agreement with Amazon Web Services for the use of AWS Ground Station, a network of ground stations for satellites.
NSLComm, in cooperation with its partners, expects to launch 30 satellites by 2021 and hundreds by 2023, enabling its network of nano-satellites to provide a high-speed worldwide communications for its customers network via an orbiting constellation.
NSLComm’s investors include Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), OurCrowd, Cockpit Innovation and Liberty Technology Venture Capital. The company is also supported by the Israel Space Agency and Kodem Growth Partners in New York City.
Raz Itzhaki, Co-Founder and CEO of NSLComm, said the launch of NSLSat-1 is a significant achievement for the company and what the firm believes to be a watershed moment for the entire satellite industry. NSLComm’s technology represents one of the biggest leaps in satellite antenna performance-to-weight ratios and, with this launch, the firm is on a mission to prove that high-speed satellite communications can be done faster, cheaper and more effectively than it has been to date.
Yoav Tzruya, General Partner at JVP, said NSLComm is changing the satellite communication market in a meaningful manner, providing two to three orders of magnitude improvement in cost per bandwidth, and unlocking a myriad of new applications for several multi-billion dollar markets.
Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israel Space Agency, added that the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science & Technology supports innovative startup companies with cutting edge technology in order to increase their competitive capacity and to expand the Israel space ecosystem. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.