Sponsored By Viasat
22 Jul 19. Viasat Selected to Showcase its Satellite-Based Hybrid Adaptive Networking Capabilities at the U.S. Air Force Event: AFWERX Vegas. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today it has been selected by AFWERX, a U.S. Air Force (USAF) program dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation within the service, to showcase its Hybrid Adaptive Network concept at AFWERX Vegas, an event focused on solving real-world U.S. Air Force challenges, held July 23-24, 2019. Selection to participate in AFWERX Vegas addresses the USAF’s interest in a multi-network, multi-orbit satellite communications (SATCOM) system that leverages commercial innovation to enhance resiliency, performance and warfighter capabilities across a multi-domain battlespace.
Specifically, Viasat will participate in the AFWERX Multi-Domain Operations Challenge, which aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the United States’ and its allies’ integrated operations in the areas of air, space, land, sea, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum. This challenge provides Viasat the opportunity to work with the USAF and Department of Defense (DoD) to further develop, deploy, and demonstrate its Hybrid Adaptive Network concept with the potential to provide future communications services to the government for multi-domain operations.
Conceptually, Viasat’s Hybrid Adaptive Network architecture will allow users to seamlessly roam across commercial and government purpose-built SATCOM networks, creating an end-to-end communications solution that provides the flexibility to avoid congestion, interference, and cyber threats through layered resilience in highly-contested environments essential for multi-domain command and control.
“Viasat is honored to be selected by the USAF to showcase current Hybrid Adaptive Network capabilities and use this opportunity to incorporate new, integrated services such as real-time network management; visualization and control; automated network selection; real-time active cybersecurity; and real-time situational awareness capabilities for resilient multi-domain operations,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “We are already providing advanced global connectivity services to some of the most high-profile leaders within the U.S. Government and DoD via a multi-network, multi-orbit SATCOM system and we’re looking forward to participating in the AFWERX program to bring the next generation of hybrid networking, with intelligent automation and game-changing resilience, to the battlespace.”
Viasat currently offers a range of products and services designed to fit into its Hybrid Adaptive Network SATCOM architecture. Hybrid Adaptive Network-designed products, such as Viasat’s KuKarray multi-orbit, multi-band terminal, have already been field-proven to operate across multiple satellite radio frequency bands, network protocols, and orbital regimes.
AFWERX was launched by the USAF in 2017 as a dual-purpose technology accelerator program that focuses on enhancing relationships with commercially viable companies with dual-purpose technologies that have both private sector and government applications.
25 Jul 19. Florence Parly Unveils France’s Military Space Strategy. France will invest an additional 700m euros in military space by 2025, to strengthen its surveillance capabilities and equip itself with self-defense capabilities in space. This sum is in addition to the 3.6bn euros already provided for military space programs in the 2019-2025 Military Program Law.
“Today, our allies and adversaries are militarizing space. And, even as reaction times are getting shorter and shorter, we must act. We must be ready.”
Thursday, July 25, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, visited the Air Defense and Air Operations Command (CDAOA), located on Air Base 942 Lyon Mont-Verdun, to unveil the major orientations of France’s new military space strategy.
A real challenge, space has become a place of confrontation that is becoming increasingly militarized. Essential for the smooth conduct of military operations, our satellites and their backup have become strategic imperative. That’s why Florence Parly announced that France would invest an additional 700m euros in military space by 2025, to strengthen its surveillance capabilities and equip itself with self-defense capabilities in space. A sum that will add to the 3.6bn euros already provided for military space in France’s 2019-2025 Military Planning Law (LPM).
The space strategy unveiled by the Minister of Armies is divided into three areas: organizational, legal and capability.
Progressive stand-up of Space Command
As announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 13, a new space command will be formed in Toulouse on September 1. It will be placed under the authority of the Air Force which will become the Air and Space Force. Its role will be to federate and coordinate all the assets devoted to military space.
“In the long term, it must be able to conduct all of our space operations, acting under the orders of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and, like all of our operations, in coordination with the Operational Planning Center (CPCO),” Florence Parly said.
With a team of 220 people, the new Space Command will gradually increase in scope over the duration of the military programming law, and will be fully operational by 2025.
To implement its space strategy, the minister wants a change in the legal texts governing the use of space so as to integrate the specificity of military space operations. “I decided that the Ministry of the Armed Forces would assume the role of space operator,” she explains. “If we want to be able to carry out real military space operations, we need to develop an autonomy of action. ”
Finally, Florence Parly announced that she wants to improve the space defense capabilities, through a new weapons program called “Mastering Space”. It will integrate two components: surveillance and active defense.
Currently, France is one of the few nations to have its own space surveillance capabilities, thanks to the Graves and Satam radars as well as the CNRS and Ariane Group telescopes.
“Tomorrow, we will use more sophisticated means and services,” the minister said. “The successor to Graves will be designed to be able to detect shoe-box-sized satellites at a distance of 1,500 kilometers.” In order to better protect our satellites, actions will be taken, such as the integration of surveillance cameras on the Syracuse communications satellites for their self-protection, and the acquisition of patrol nano-satellite patrols from 2023.
Thanks to these future surveillance capabilities, an active defense can be put in place. The minister warns that this is only for self-defense and is not an offensive strategy: “If our satellites are threatened, we will consider dazzling those of our opponents. We reserve the time and the means for the response: it may involve the use of power lasers deployed from our satellites or our patrol nano-satellites,” she said.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Armed Forces Ministry)
25 Jul 19. Chinese rocket startup puts satellites into orbit for first time. A rocket developed by iSpace put satellites into orbit after a launch from a state facility in northwestern China on Thursday, marking the first successful orbital launch by a privately funded Chinese firm.
iSpace’s Hyperbola-1 rocket blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 1 p.m. (0500 GMT) Thursday, sending two satellites and payloads into a predetermined orbit, the company said in a statement on its official Wechat account.
The successful orbital launch was preceded by two failures since late last year by other startups. Beijing-based Landspace attempted to deliver a satellite into orbit in October 2018 but failed. In late March this year, a rocket developed by OneSpace also failed to reach orbit. Tens of private Chinese space companies have joined a race in recent years to develop rockets capable of delivering low-cost micro-satellites with commercial applications, backed by mostly Chinese venture capital.
In May 2018, OneSpace became the first private firm to send an independently developed rocket into space. That was followed by successful suborbital launches by iSpace four months later.
The next step was to send a payload into orbit, which is partly inspired by the recent technological success of U.S. firms, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin.
The State Council, or cabinet, said in a white paper in December 2016 the space industry was an important part of China’s overall development strategy.
One of China’s near-term tasks is to develop major satellite systems of remote sensing, communications and broadcasting, and navigation and positioning. President Xi Jinping has made becoming a space flight superpower a priority for the government since coming to office in 2012. The government aims to send a permanent manned space station into orbit by around 2022. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jul 19. USAF considers new SSA telescope in Australia. The US Air Force has plans to expand its network of space situational awareness (SSA) telescopes, with a new facility in Australia possible.
That would be located at the Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, NSW, and is in addition to another US SSA telescope to be located at Exmouth, Western Australia. That would substantially increase USAF capability to monitor space objects, including satellites and space junk, from the southern hemisphere. The USAF is also planning another SSA telescope at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Granada, Spain.
The three current sites of what’s called the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) are located at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean; and Maui, Hawaii. GEODSS is run by the US Air Force’s 20th Space Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The White Sands telescopes are in the process of relocation to Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station at Exmouth, WA, under an agreement signed in 2013.
The Australian Department of Defence announced in May that a new building to house these telescopes, built under Project AIR 3029 Phase 2, had been completed, with initial operating capability set for 2021. That was originally slated for 2017.
Harold E. Holt also hosts a US Air Force C-Band Space Surveillance Radar system, which reached full operational capability in 2017.
The GEODSS network of telescopes can objects down to the size of a basketball out to 40,000 kilometres. Each site has three one-metre telescopes equipped with Deep STARE digital cameras, able to track multiple objects.
The USAF revealed its interest in expanding the GEODSS network with a request for proposal (RFP) seeking competitive proposals to manage, operate, maintain, and provide logistical and general support services for the GEODSS system.
It notes the potential future sites, in Australia and Spain, but doesn’t explain why new observatory sites are being considered.
Subject to the appropriate agreements, Australia would be unlikely to have any problems with expanding SSA capability.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, said in May the telescope going to Exmouth would increase capacity to detect and track objects in space in order to manage threats, including space debris, and predict and avoid potential collisions.
“Air Force is working with Australian industry and educational institutions to build domestic space surveillance capability for Australia,” he said.
The US has been working on integrating SSA observation data from allies into a space object catalogue to improve ability to track satellites and other objects and help space operators avoid in-orbit collisions.
USAF Space Command is developing a Unified Data Library, with the aim of integrating allied and commercial data with data from the US space surveillance network and classified sensors and sharing that with non-US defence operators. (Source: Space Connect)
26 Jul 19. Adelaide Uni research team wins ESA global competition. A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide has defeated some of the world’s most prestigious universities and space technology companies at an international space competition, hosted by the European Space Agency.
The South Australian team – including Dr Tat-Jun Chin, Dr Bo Chen and Dr Alvaro Parra Bustos – edged out 50 competitors to win the global Pose Estimation Challenge by using machine learning and 3D vision algorithms to determine the most accurate orientation of an object in space.
As part of the challenge, teams were given an image of a space object – such as a non-functioning satellite – and were required to determine the orientation of the object in relation to the observer from close rendezvous.
The observer may be another satellite that is tasked to recover or destroy the object.
Director of machine learning for space engineering at the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) Dr Chin said the team’s success in the global challenge strengthens the University of Adelaide and AIML’s reputation as leaders in developing data-driven solutions to space engineering problems.
“[Winning this competition] opens doors and captures people’s attention. It sends a message to the rest of the world that the University of Adelaide and AIML is in the game,” Dr Chin said.
“What sets our solution apart from the others is the unique combination of machine learning and 3D vision algorithms –these are two areas we have strong expertise in at the university at the AIML.
“Figuring out the orientation of an object is a long-term study problem in computer vision and AI. If you want to program a robotic arm to make coffee, you need to figure the orientation of the object with respect to the robot; we are now applying those techniques in space.
“We are one of the few teams in the world doing this in space.”
To develop their solution, the team were able to leverage the University of Adelaide’s Phoenix High Performance Computing cluster to train their novel model on data made available by the competition organisers.
Dr Chin said the know-how generated through the competition will enable the researchers, who have an existing research partnership with Inovor Technologies and DST Group supported by an ARC Linkage grant, to further contribute to the mission of space situational awareness (SSA).
The Australian Space Agency has identified SSA as a priority area and includes the task of mitigating the risk posed by space debris to space applications.
“SSA is traffic management; not only managing operational things that you can control, such as space assets and infrastructure, but the things you can’t control, like space debris,” Dr Chin said.
“It’s about finding out what went where so the next time when you are launching a new space asset, or trying to change the orbital parameters of your current asset, you know it’s not endangered through collision or other incidents.
“SSA has always been regarded an important capability, but it’s becoming a more pressing issue because of increasing space commercialisation.”
South Australian Space Industry Centre chief executive Richard Price congratulated the team and said the win was further evidence that Australia is creating world-leading technology for space applications.
“It’s fantastic to another incredibly talented team from South Australia representing the nation and winning a global competition; their success is just another example of South Australia’s leadership in space technology,” he said.
“This huge win will no doubt open doors for the team and create even more opportunities in this exciting industry for business, right here in South Australia.” (Source: Space Connect)
25 Jul 19. Aussie rocket company prepares for rocket test launch. Queensland-based rocket company Gilmour Space Technologies is preparing for its next launch, again from outback Queensland, perhaps in the next week.
This will be Gilmour’s second launch – in July 2016 the prototype “reusable ascent separation article” (RASTA) reached a height of about 5,000 metres. This launch will feature the proprietary single stage “One Vision” rocket, which will reach an altitude of about 100 kilometres, the edge of space.
“We’ve spent the last few months integrating new software into our mobile launch system, and expect to be rolling out very soon for the test launch,” said Gilmour chief executive Adam Gilmour.
The company carried out a final ground engine test run this week.
“We are completing the final dress rehearsal before we had from here out to the launch site. This is a flight test and it is important for us because there is a really big difference between testing a rocket motor on the ground and putting it into a vehicle and sending it up,” Gilmour said.
“We can take everything we need and launch pretty much from anywhere in Australia.”
Gilmour Space Technologies has big plans. Next it will launch Eris-200, a three-stage commercial vehicle capable of launching a 100-kilogram payload to low-Earth orbit.
That will be followed by Eris-400 in 2021, a clustered-engine vehicle for payloads of up to 400 kilograms.,The actual site for this launch hasn’t been disclosed, other than that it’s from a property south of Mount Isa. For this launch, the One Vision rocket will be tracked by Cingulan Space, a company that specialises in providing satellite ground terminal services.
The company is based in Yass, NSW, a town better known for its fine wool production.
“Cingulan is a ground segment as a service company. We are 100 per cent Australian-owned and we are proud that we have Australia’s Space 2.0 east coast and west coast satellite tracking stations,” said founder and chief executive Keith Rosario.
“Based on our expertise, we also provide engineering consultancy services to our customers to try and help them achieve their space mission. Their success is ours.”
Cingulan ground stations are located at Yass and south of Perth, Western Australia. The company also has a mobile capability.
Mr Rosario said Cingulan had been working in support of Gilmour Space Technologies for their upcoming test flights.
“We have been providing radio frequency engineering test and field support to that team. For launches, that’s launch tracking and range telemetry. For that we have to be relatively close to the launch site,” he said. (Source: Space Connect)
24 Jul 19. ULA CEO: Component Issues that Delayed Summer Launches Won’t Affect Vulcan Rocket. A component issue that has prompted delays of two scheduled launches this summer aboard United Launch Alliance (ULA) rockets will not translate over to the joint venture’s forthcoming space vehicle, the CEO said July 19.
“This is a routine thing that happens” building up to a launch, said Tory Bruno during a Friday panel on space competition at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.
Bruno noted that national security launch customers order the rocket 100 to 200 weeks in advance, and at that point, stakeholders set the launch date as well. ULA consistently works to launch within two weeks of the scheduled launch date, “the date we set 200 weeks before,” he emphasized.
A scheduled June launch of the Air Force’s latest Advanced EHF satellite aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket was delayed until late July, the service announced June 23 (Defense Daily, June 24). Less than one month later, ULA revealed the launch of the Air Force’s second GPS III satellite aboard a ULA Delta IV rocket would be delayed from July 25 to the end of August at the earliest (Defense Daily, July 17).
The delays were due to an anomaly discovered during component testing at a supplier’s facilities, ULA said at the time. ULA is a joint launch venture between Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT].
Bruno said Friday the alliance is working through a “sibling issue: when a part fails during routine testing after being fabricated, its previously manufactured twin parts are then considered suspect.
“Our process is to immediately declare all parts in the world that haven’t been flown yet” unfit for use, Bruno said. The part is pulled off to be examined and replaced as needed, he noted. “This is routine.”
He denied that the delays to the two summer launches will impact the development of ULA’s newest rocket, the Vulcan Centaur heavy-launch vehicle in development for the Air Force’s next generation of national security launches. The Air Force awarded ULA a contract worth up to $967 m last October to help fund its development. The rocket is expected to be fielded by 2021.
ULA is planning to compete the Vulcan Centaur for the Air Force’s launch services procurement (LSP) procurement, for which requests for proposals are due Aug. 1. Launch companies including Space X, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems [NOC] are also expected to compete.
The contract is expected to be awarded in the second quarter of FY ’20, and would fund launch services in fiscal years 2020 to 2024 . (Source: Defense Daily)
23 Jul 19. Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio Win Contract from Italian Space Agency. They kick off development of Ital-GovSatCom, an innovative and strategic communications satellite system.
The Space Alliance between Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) announced today that it has signed a contract with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for the initial development of an innovative satellite system dubbed Ital-GovSatCom. This contract paves the way for a dynamic program within the scope of the Italian “Space Economy” initiative.
The contract, signed by Thales Alenia Space as the lead company in a temporary consortium (RTI), is the first within the scope of the Space Economy initiative, providing for both private and government participation. It is defined in a collaboration agreement between the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and 12 Italian regions (Abruzzi, Basilicata, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont, Apulia, Sardinia, Tuscany, Umbria, Aosta Valley and the autonomous province of Trento), to foster the development and competitiveness of the Italian space industry and provide high-performance services for both the government and commercial markets.
The Ital-GovSatCom program was originally Italy’s contribution to a European initiative called GovSatCom. Designed to give Italy a strong position in the strategic sector of governmental communications, its aim is to develop and operate an innovative and competitive satellite system providing secure, robust and reliable communication services for several government applications, including civil security, defense, humanitarian aid, telemedicine and maritime surveillance.
Thales Alenia Space in Italy is leading a consortium of Italian space companies that will be responsible for the satellite design and the main satellite subsystems, including an innovative payload. Telespazio will be in charge of the ground system and the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP), while also supplying all planned institutional services as part of the GovSatCom system.
The satellite will be compatible with launches by vehicles such as the Vega light launcher, built by AVIO. The complete satellite system, including the ground segment and related applications, calls on critical technologies from major Italian space industry players Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio, Leonardo, SITAEL and Space Engineering, along with a number of innovative small and medium-size enterprises (SME).
“The Space Alliance’s involvement in this first contract as part of the Space Economy initiative clearly reflects the Italian Space Agency’s trust in our experience and capabilities, especially our proven ability to deliver state-of-the-art satellites,” said Donato Amoroso, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Italy, and Luigi Pasquali, CEO of Telespazio, in a joint statement. “The contract signed today marks a crucial and strategic cooperation opportunity between ASI and the Italian space industry. It also confirms the new trend in space business, as well as the transformational Space Economy strategy that Thales Alenia Space has already implemented with the aim of becoming the leading manufacturer of innovative, competitive, modular and multipurpose satellites and the top supplier of secure services, delivering high added-value and competitive solutions to both the institutional and commercial markets.”
This contract marks the first step in a Space Economy project, starting with the design and development of space infrastructures and resulting in innovative products and services for communications, navigation and positioning, environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, etc. It will represent one of the most promising developments in the global economy in the decades to come. (Source: ASD Network)
24 Jul 19. What will the Space Development Agency really do? In the four months since it was officially established, the Space Development Agency has been a bit of a mystery. After Pentagon leaders asked for a new space architecture, it wasn’t clear whether the SDA was meant to replace the Pentagon’s existing satellite systems, incorporate them into its own architecture or take over responsibility for the current constellations. The agency released a notional architecture along with a request for information July 1, but that only seemed to fuel questions about how the agency’s plans would affect the Department of Defense’s existing systems.
Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said July 23 the SDA “is not the owner and arbiter of all things space for the national security community,” but what exactly is the agency’s place when it comes to space? At an industry day in Chantilly, Virginia, SDA leaders explained the agency’s mission and what makes it different than existing military space organizations and systems.
Resiliency via numbers
A major concern with the military’s current space architecture is that it is composed of small constellations of large, exquisite satellites. With each system being made up of so few satellites, the successful destruction or disabling of just one satellite can have a significant impact on the battlefield.
Recent war games have highlighted the vulnerability of American military satellites, Griffin said. American and allied forces have been disadvantaged in those games, he said, because adversaries quickly target the military’s few satellites.
“We don’t want to perpetuate a constellation of juicy targets,” said Griffin. “We want to confound the adversary.”
As a result, the SDA is committed to creating an architecture that provides “resiliency via numbers,” said Derek Tournear, the agency’s acting director. Instead of a space architecture characterized by a small number of large, expensive satellites, the SDA’s vision consists of hundreds of small satellites possibly hosting multiple payloads, all operating in a mesh network. Whereas the loss of one or two satellites in the military’s current systems could be crippling, a constellation of hundreds of satellites can brush off the loss of one or two space vehicles.
“It also takes a much larger and more concerted attack to take out a given percentage of capability,” explained Griffin. “Proliferation of our systems, where each individual asset has less capability but in aggregate they have all that we need is the path that we want to go down.”
Avoiding unnecessary redundancy
The SDA will not oversee every Air Force satellite system. Key programs such as the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system, the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, the Wideband Global SATCOM system and GPS are outside of the architecture SDA leaders are developing.
“The SDA does not want to build every satellite needed for the future National Defense Space Architecture. There are many partners already developing capabilities, which we can and will incorporate,” said Tournear.
Griffin specifically noted that the need for a proliferated space architecture did not mean that the Air Force should not continue using and building exquisite satellite systems.
“[Space and Missile Systems Center] will continue doing what they’re doing,” said Griffin. “There’s no overlap there.”
The SDA’s focus on resiliency helps explain which satellites the SDA wants to build. In the near term, the agency’s goal will be to augment the Air Force’s existing programs or provide back-up systems for the times those satellites are unavailable.
The most obvious example of this is the architecture’s position, navigation and timing layer. The military generally relies on the GPS constellation of satellites for position, navigation and timing data. The SDA architecture will provide alternative PNT data that the military can rely on when GPS is unavailable. Such a navigation layer would be redundant in that it would provides a service already widely used, but is valuable to the military because it would increases the resiliency of PNT data.
Other layers will serve as complements to other Air Force satellite systems. The proposed tracking layer would assist the OPIR satellite system, not replace it. However, it’s worth noting DARPA documents suggest that OPIR payloads could be hosted on their experimental Blackjack satellites.
“SDA is responsible for developing and fielding capabilities,” Tournear said. “This means that we will incorporate any and all capabilities that fit our needs provided by whomever. This means we’ll team with [the Missile Defense Agency] to help with missile tracking, as an example, the Army and others for target custody, as another example, and commercial obviously wherever they can help.”
The SDA is unique among Department of Defense space organizations in its leaders are talking relentlessly about speed. The agency wants to get satellites operating in space almost immediately and aims for two year periods for upgrades. The agency’s leaders are taking a “better is the enemy of good-enough” approach, meaning that they’re interested in fielding technology as soon as feasible, not waiting until they have the best possible version before fielding it.
“We want capabilities to the war fighter by fiscal year 2022,” said Tournear. “Obviously going fast, we will risk having some failures. That’s OK.”
Griffin added that with threats changing every five years in space, it no longer makes sense to develop space systems over 10 to 15 years. By circumventing the traditional Defense Department acquisitions process, the SDA hopes to get their systems into space far faster and then be able to upgrade them regularly through software updates or by launching new small satellites.
Open to new ideas
Throughout the event, presenters emphasized that the agency was not committed to the notional architecture as laid out.
“We’re not wed to any of the concepts you see,” said Tournear.
Tournear and others encouraged industry representatives to respond to the agency’s recent request for information, which seeks input on the agency’s notional architecture. Responses are formally due Aug. 5, though Tournear said that the agency was open to suggestions at any time. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Jul 19. OneWeb Satellites and partners OneWeb and Airbus transform space industry with world’s first high-volume satellite production facility in Florida.
- Opening marks a breakthrough in technology and manufacturing, enabling first-ever rapid production of communication satellites
- Supports deployment of OneWeb network to bring transformative internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere
- Facility provides ability to produce high quality satellites at speed, cost, standard, that wasn’t possible before
- Opening comes just months after launch of first satellites, now operational in space
OneWeb Satellites – a joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus – today officially opened the world’s first high-volume, high-speed advanced satellite production facility to bring transformative internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere.
Historically, satellites are custom built, costing tens of ms of dollars to build, and taking more than a year to produce a single one. The OneWeb Satellites facility is the first to employ industrial-scale mass production techniques for satellites, enabling dramatically reduced costs and production times that can deliver one satellite per production shift or two a day, while significantly expanding internet connectivity and making space technology far more accessible.
“OneWeb Satellites and its partners are transforming the satellite and space industry. By producing high quality satellites at a fraction of the cost and schedule of traditional manufacturers, we are not only enabling OneWeb to connect the planet, we are making space dramatically more accessible to everyone,” said Tony Gingiss, CEO of OneWeb Satellites.
The facility’s production capabilities will first support the rapid scaling of the OneWeb network, starting with a constellation of 650 satellites and scaling to 1,980 satellites delivering global connectivity.
With half the world’s population unconnected and inconsistent connectivity persisting as people travel more at sea and in the skies, the high-performance communication satellites built in this facility will enable high-speed internet access that can unlock healthcare, education, and economic advancements.
“This is a defining moment in the history of OneWeb, and the space industry. With today’s opening, we are one step closer to connecting the unconnected for the benefit of societies all over the world,” said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. “As we gear up for more satellite launches at the end of the year, this facility will ensure we can begin delivering global connectivity in some areas as early as next year and globally in 2021.”
The 105,500 square foot production facility, which has two production lines capable of producing two satellites a day, is helping to revitalize Florida’s Space Coast with 250 new high-tech jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs through the supply chain.
Government officials including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. Senator Rick Scott, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh, and business and community leaders in Merritt Island, Florida near the Kennedy Space Center attended the official opening with the team.
For Airbus, this new facility is the latest step in the company’s continued and long-standing growth in U.S. manufacturing, job creation and investment. Airbus utilizes 450 U.S. suppliers in 40+ states and has spent more than $187 bn in the U.S. since 1990. Airbus spending in the U.S. supports more than 275,000 American jobs.
“Airbus is manufacturing products in the U.S. from all of our business divisions – commercial aircraft, helicopters and now satellites,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas. “We take seriously our partnerships in the communities where we do business, and we’re proud to contribute our aerospace manufacturing expertise to the Space Coast with 250 new high-tech jobs in Florida. We are equally excited to welcome these new employees to the Airbus OneWeb Satellites team in the U.S.”
OneWeb Satellites’ game-changing manufacturing technology and facility also represent a tremendous opportunity for other commercial and government customers, providing end-users with dramatic cost savings and opening the door to missions that were previously unthinkable.
“The avenue for unlocking untapped human potential lies, yet to be paved, in space,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Private industry is a key partner in this effort as we are well on our way to a $1trin space economy and fueling a new revolution in technology in orbit.”
Chairman Pai added: “Since my first day as Chairman of the FCC, my number one priority has been closing the digital divide and bringing the benefits of the digital age to all Americans. Promoting innovative technologies will be critical to accomplishing that priority. Satellite constellations have the ability to deliver broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies. That’s why the FCC under my leadership approved OneWeb’s proposal and why I was pleased to attend the opening of OneWeb Satellite’s production facility. At the FCC, we’ll continue our work to make access to high-speed Internet available across the country.” (Source: ASD Network)
24 Jul 19. Rocket Lab prepares for major launch and production milestones. Space company Rocket Lab has notched up a significant achievement in preparation for its next New Zealand launch. Rocket Lab has now manufactured 100 flight-ready Rutherford engines, which power its Electron rockets.
These were named after New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), referred to as the father of nuclear physics.
So far 70 Rutherford engines have been launched on seven Electron missions, most recently the Make It Rain mission launched from the company’s site on the New Zealand north island at the end of June.
Rocket Lab’s next launch is scheduled for August, though the company hasn’t yet announced a date or a mission name.
Its payload will include another BlackSky imaging satellite plus a number of secondary payloads. The specific payload manifest will be disclosed closer to launch time.
The Make It Rain mission also included a BlackSky satellite. It’s planned for 60 of these satellites to make up an Earth observation constellation, providing near real-time global imagery with resolution of about a metre.
Each Electron rocket comprises nine of the 35-kilogram Rutherford engines in its first stage and one vacuum-optimised engine in its second stage. These are liquid fuel engines, powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen. Each engine produces 24,000 Newtons of thrust (5,500 pounds).
These engines are manufactured at the company’s facility in Huntington Beach, California, and assembled into the Electron rockets in New Zealand.
Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said the engine was designed from day one to be of high performance and also easily manufactured. The company makes extensive use of additive manufacturing for major components including combustion chambers, pumps and injectors.
“The design of the engine was really centralised around manufacturability. We planned on producing a lot of these engines, so we planned processes and designs that were very scalable,” he said.
“We just keep buying more and more 3D printers and just keep producing more and more engines.”
The company expects to take total engine production to 200 over the next year with rocket production to increase to one every two weeks.
This high rate of production means Rocket Lab has achieved a monthly launch tempo.
Rocket Lab is also building a second launch facility in the US. Its Launch Complex 2 is under construction at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, Virginia.
That will comprise an integration facility, launch pad and mission control and should be finished this year, with first launch likely next year.
“There is a strong business case for us to build that facility. We’re seeing a lot of interest, especially from government customers,” Beck said. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Jul 19. Link Microtek develops special microwave rotary joint for very-high-power satellite tracking system. Link Microtek, the specialist designer and manufacturer of microwave and RF components, has developed an X-band microwave rotary joint to meet the extremely demanding requirements of a satellite tracking system that transmits at a high pulsed power of 100kW, with a mean power of 4kW, over a wide frequency band of 2GHz.
Designed to transmit and receive at frequencies from 8.5 to 10.5GHz, the tracking system uses long runs of WR90 rigid waveguide, with six of the special single-channel rotary joints providing the necessary movement for elevation, azimuth and tilt.
Steve Cranstone, managing director of Link Microtek, takes up the story: “While single-channel rotary joints in themselves aren’t particularly tough to make, when you have that frequency bandwidth and those levels of power, it becomes a massive challenge.
“Any losses, even tiny ones, will generate a significant amount of heat, so thermal modelling was key in preventing internal overheating of the devices. What’s more, the customer’s system was unpressurised, so that made it very difficult to keep breakdown voltages to acceptable levels.”
Drawing on years of experience in this field, Link Microtek’s engineering team used CST electromagnetic simulation software to model those crucial aspects of the design and eventually came up with a rotary joint that could satisfy the stringent requirements of the customer’s specification. Incorporating a 10mm-thick heatsink to conduct the excess heat away, the rotary joints achieve a low insertion loss of less than 0.2dB and a VSWR of 1.2:1. They are manufactured from aluminium and measure 122mm in length with a heatsink diameter of 75mm. As the satellite tracking system is installed in an exposed coastal location, the rotary joints also feature chromium-free passivation for corrosion resistance and IP65 sealing to prevent the ingress of moisture and dust.
Steve Cranstone again: “This project really pushed us to the limits of the power that can be handled in such relatively small waveguide size. You might expect to be dealing with a 100kW peak power level at lower frequencies, but at X-band we had to be very, very careful to minimise the losses at every stage of design and production. Happily, our engineering team rose to the challenge and the customer was delighted with the result.”
22 Jul 19. Lockheed Martin team to build prototype phased array for USAF. A team of Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has received a contract to develop a multi-band, multi-mission (MBMM) prototype phased array. The $7.2m prototype contract was awarded by the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Innovation Unit. The agreement is part of the DoD’s efforts to modernise the existing US Air Force’s (USAF) Satellite Control Network, which is responsible for providing command, control, and communications for space vehicles.
MBMM will provide the capability to contact multiple satellites simultaneously across frequency bands, as opposed to traditional parabolic dishes that offer only one contact at a time.
In addition, the prototype will bring flexibility and reduce per beam cost.
Lockheed Martin Mission Solutions vice-president and general manager Maria Demaree said: “MBMM is a smarter way to quickly and affordably scale satellite transmission while lowering long-term maintenance costs for the airforce.
“Today, when a parabolic antenna goes down, it can take days to repair. With MBMM, it will take hours and won’t take the entire site offline. That’s a tremendous advantage.”
Lockheed Martin and partners will build prototype transmit and receive electronically steerable arrays (ESA).
Ball Aerospace will contribute its advanced phased array technologies. Each array will support L and S-band frequencies initially.
Kratos will provide its digital intermediate frequency (IF) technology and Cloud-enabled quantum radio to enable signal processing.
Ball Aerospace Tactical Solutions vice-president and general manager Rob Freedman said: “One electronically steered antenna can replace multiple dishes, enabling better performance, connectivity and affordability.”
Lockheed Martin noted that phased arrays are an effective solution as they remove the mechanical maintenance and keyhole effects of parabolic antennas.
The MBMM systems are expected to lower long-term sustainment costs for the USAF. It will be able to simultaneously undertake a range of missions, including command and control (C2), launch pad and ascent operations, radar and mission data transmission.
In May, the government awarded a contract to Harris to build and demonstrate a prototype ground antenna system to help expand the airforce’s space tracking abilities. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
22 Jul 19. USAF sticks with familiar face for support. The US Air Force is sticking with longtime contractor LinQuest Corp. for engineering support of its communications satellites, even as the Pentagon considers radical changes to its space architecture.
LinQuest doesn’t build the satellites themselves, but under the $562 m, seven-and-a-half year contract, the company provides engineering, integration and solution support for satellite systems and architecture. LinQuest was one of two companies to submit bids for the contract.
“We provide a model-based systems engineering capability and integration to assist the government from everything from the very start of a program […] to operations, monitoring operations and then we have sustainment,” said Chris Beres, general manager of the space systems engineering and integration group at LinQuest. “That is all, if you will, womb to tomb, part of the scope of this [MILSATCOM] contract.”
“This capability [helps the Air Force] assess and balance their investments, and how they inform their decisions with data that we provide. They can do portfolio optimization, course of actions, analysis of alternatives, what ifs, […] so they can figure out where they spend the next dollar, how they are going to set up their architecture,” he added.
The MILSATCOM contract covers support for both the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite system, which provides secure, anti-jamming communications for the military and the Wideband Global SATCOM system, as well as the AEHF sister program covering the Arctic, the Enhanced Polar System.
Beres said the new contract does not differ significantly from the services LinQuest was already providing. However, it comes at a time when the Pentagon is restructuring its space organization and rethinking its approach to the national security space architecture. Most notably, the Trump administration is working to establish a sixth branch of the military dubbed the Space Force that would take over many of the Air Force’s space-related activities. Less discussed but just as notable, the Air Force has begun restructuring its primary space acquisition arm, the Space and Missile Systems Center, and the Pentagon has established the Space Development Agency to design a new architecture for national security space satellites.
A notional space architecture released by the Space Development Agency envisioned a mesh network of satellites based within a commercial constellation in low earth orbit, with each satellite hosting multiple Department of Defense payloads. The network would encompass several layers of satellites, with each layer serving one or more of the Pentagon’s space-related functions. By spreading out those payloads over multiple smaller, cheaper satellites instead of putting up a handful of large, exquisite satellites that host a single payload, the SDA hopes to both save money and create a more resilient system where the loss of one satellite is less problematic.
It’s not clear at this point whether this new mesh network would absorb MILSATCOM programs if adopted, but the principles and capabilities behind SDA’s vision are also informing the next generation of military communications satellites that LinQuest will help develop under the new contract.
A major focus of the next-generation satellites is ensuring resilience through “diversification and disaggregation and proliferation,” said Beres. That can be seen in the follow-on satellites being developed to replace AEHF. There will ultimately be six AEHF satellites, the fifth of which is slated to be launched into orbit in August. The next-generation version will split into two, with one payload supporting strategic missions and a second payload supporting tactical missions. By disaggregating systems like this, the cost of losing a single satellite is partly mitigated and communications are made more resilient. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
19 Jul 19. US Army Network/Space. Maj. Gen. Pete Gallagher, director of the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team, said this week he is interested in exploring commercial industry’s space-based network technologies for future capability drops as the Army looks to integrate new tools into its network architecture. “There are some things involving in space with some of the commercial industry that we want to be able to leverage. It’s a different way of how we could do network transport from today,” Gallagher said. The Network CFT is working under a new model to drop capabilities every two years starting in 2021, and Gallagher added space-based tools are likely to be included in the 2023 capability set. “Both for low-Earth orbit and mid-Earth orbit, and even geosynchronous orbit for high capacity transport, we’re looking at some options for how all these different capabilities will fit. When they’re ready, we’re going to choose some units and get some feedback, and then we’ll accelerate if it’s ready and we have the fiscal resources aligned with that,” Gallagher said. (Source: Defense Daily)
19 Jul 19. Raytheon and UK Ministry of Defence team to develop new UK space capabilities. Team ARTEMIS Industry will build foundation for future UK space defence programmes. Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK Ministry of Defence to join Team ARTEMIS Industry, a collaboration between government and industry formed to fast track the launch of a small satellite constellation and enhance the UK’s sovereign space capability.
“In large part because of U.S. efforts to raise the profile of military space, allies are working hard to ‘close the space gap,'” said Air Vice-Marshal Rocky Rochelle, Royal Air Force chief of staff for capability.
Raytheon’s many decades of experience in developing space systems will be a significant boost to the MOD’s space plans and their commitment to launch a small satellite demonstrator within a year Team Artemis Industry.
“Raytheon provides advanced satellite-based mission planning and data processing capabilities to governments around the world,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “The collaboration between Raytheon and the UK Armed Forces will deliver new capabilities that directly benefit this important alliance.”
Raytheon and the UK MOD have previously partnered on several defence projects, including tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions used by the armed forces.
“Raytheon has worked with the UK for decades to develop exceptional defence, aerospace and cyber capabilities,” said Richard Daniel, CEO of Raytheon UK. “Being part of Team ARTEMIS Industry will only further strengthen that relationship as we work and invest to jointly develop and support the UK’s space systems.”
14 Jul 19. Significant 5G Platform Milestone Achieved by Avanti Communications. Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti) has confirmed a significant milestone in the 5GENESIS project with the successful integration and testing of the first release of the 5G Limassol platform in Cyprus.
A functional end-to-end network, enabled by satellite backhauling through Avanti’s HYLAS-2 satellite, with added virtualization capabilities at the core and edge networks of PrimeTel is now confirmed and this development paves the way to integrate a 5G core and a 5G base station next year as they become available from consortium partners Athonet and Eurecom, respectively. As part of the preparation for demonstrating a complete 5G End-to-End test case, the Internet of Things (IoT) application provided by the Universitat Politècnica de València has also been integrated into the platform with both its physical and virtual components at the core and at the edge. As part of the integrated setup, Avanti has installed a 1.2 meter, iDirect terminal to provide satellite backhaul bandwidth (15 Mbps downlink / 5 Mbps uplink) through HYLAS-2 to the Limassol platform using Avanti’s Gateway Earth Station located in Cyprus. The integration of the 5G Limassol platform is coordinated by Space Hellas Cyprus, who are responsible for the overall architecture. The platform itself is hosted at the premises of PrimeTel PLC, a private Cypriot Mobile Network Operator and Internet Service Provider, using their Limassol datacenter for hosting as well as providing local and remote connectivity to its terrestrial operational network. The Limassol platform is one of the five platforms comprising the 5GENESIS end-to-end 5G facility. (Source: Satnews)
14 Jul 19. Maxar to Build Ovzon’s First Satellite. Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR) has started production on a Legion-class geostationary satellite for Ovzon, a company located in the United States and Sweden that is dedicated to meeting the demand for increased mobile broadband connectivity in underserved regions. Ovzon selected Maxar in December of 2018 to build their 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 the spacecraft in the firm’s 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.
Megan Fitzgerald, Maxar’s SVP and GM, Space Solutions, said that the company’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. The firm is delighted to collaborate closely with Ovzon on the development of their first satellite using the Maxar architecture, which will deliver better communications from space for a better world here on Earth.
Magnus René, the CEO of Ovzon, added that the company selected Maxar to build Ovzon 3 as they have a strong reputation for 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.
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