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15 Aug 19. How Canada is enhancing its SATCOM coverage. Expanding its commitment to the space domain, Canada’s defence policy commits to ‘increased and predictable’ funding to deliver new capabilities, such as earth observation, space situational awareness, and satellite communications.
Ottawa is particularly focused on enhanced coverage of the country’s northern-most regions, which are largely devoid of such capabilities. Although the space domain may be a relatively new responsibility for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RFAC), the service has developed a five-year roadmap laying out the space framework for the armed forces.
Speaking to Shephard, Col Cameron Stoltz, director of space requirements within the RCAF, said, ‘We have an ambitious agenda to meet the requirements for the space domain that were laid out in Canada’s most recent defence policy from 2017… which recognises that spaces increasingly congested, contested and competitive.’
The mission for DG Space in Canada is to ‘develop, deliver and assure space capabilities in order to enable the joint warfighter at home and abroad’.
Stolz recognises that the reliance of militaries on space-based capabilities is only growing so the nation continues to cooperate with its international partners.
For example, August 2019 saw the launch of the US Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extreme High Frequency (AEHF-5) (pictured). The RCAF has noted that the launch of this satellite will allow the Canadian forces to have secure, protected communications in support of operations worldwide.
The joint services satellite system will comprise six satellites that will replace the 1990s-era Milstar satellites. Australia, the UK and the Netherlands have also partnered on the AEHF programme.
‘With respect to the Advanced EHF constellation and the way we have accessed that through our protected military satellite communications [PMSC] project, we find that secure and reliable satellite communications, as you know, are essential for command and control of military operations,’ Stolz commented.
PMSC provides Canada with secure communications ‘between 65 north and 65 south and terminals, for our land, sea, and air forces’.
Despite this, challenges remain and although Canada has access to these geostationary satellite constellations Stolz noted that there are still issues for Canada when communicating within the far north of the country.
‘That’s one of the challenges right now, that the geostationary satellites don’t provide the coverage above 65 to 70 degrees,’ he said.
In addition to this lack of coverage, because of the sparsity of communications infrastructure in the north, the Canadian Armed Forces now has coverage of this area as an outstanding requirement. The 2017 defence policy recognises these challenges, according to Stolz.
As a result, Stolz’s team has initiated the Enhanced Satellite Communications Project Polar (ESCP-P).
‘This has a goal of delivering this Arctic communications infrastructure. Specifically, the project will provide guaranteed, reliable and secure access in both narrow band and wide band in support of operations of the earth deck,’ he explained.
ESCP-P is due to have an initial operational capability no later than 2029 with a full operational capability in 2031 – although Stolz said that the RCAF will be ‘doing everything possible’ to advance that timeline.
Funding is projected at C$1bn ($75m)to C$4.99bn ($3.75bn).
He added that Canada has also received interest from its northern allies who wish to be part of the project. (Source: Shephard)
15 Aug 19. Satellite positioning could see billions pumped into local economy. Insights from a national trial of world-first satellite positioning technology has shown the potential to deliver more than $6bn to the Australian economy over the next three decades.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, told CQUniversity in Rockhampton that the new insights into a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) across Australia and New Zealand showed “huge advantages for a range of industries”.
“We all know how important GPS is to get us from point A to point B, but improved positioning is also essential to open up new opportunities for our businesses and industries,” Minister Canavan said.
“An 18-month test-bed by Geoscience Australia trialled new precise positioning technology across 27 projects in 10 industry sectors such as mining, farming, and even in the disability sector.
“An independent economic benefits analysis of the trial showed the economic benefits could top $6bn in Australia over the next 30 years through increased productivity, better health and safety outcomes and improved environmental management.
The SBAS trial across the Australasian region was funded by $12m from the Australian government, and a further $2m from the New Zealand government.
“SBAS provides instant, accurate and reliable positioning without the need for mobile phone or internet coverage, improving the accuracy of GPS positioning from 5-10 metres down to 10 centimetres across Australia and its maritime zones,” Minister Canavan said.
“This improved positioning is a particular game changer for operators who might be based in isolated areas, such as farmers and miners, with trials showing significant efficiencies across the board.
“The latest figures show a possible $820m saving in feed and fertiliser over 30 years through improved pasture utilisation, while mining could see a saving of $577m through improved efficiency of mining haul trucks.”
CQUniversity agriculture lecturer Dr Jaime Manning said the university had been undertaking a trial project to test the benefits of SBAS for livestock tracking.
“It’s great that we get to bring all this work together here at CQUniversity, because the trial was originally launched here in 2017,” Manning said.
“We have successfully demonstrated real benefits through the trial of SBAS-enabled GPS to improve the accuracy of on-animal sensing systems, which helps us to understand an animal’s behaviour and where they are in a landscape.
“For beef cattle producers in this region, this research means that in future we will be able to detect issues such as which parts of a paddock may be over-grazed, or if an animal is not moving normally and may be sick or lame.
“The enhanced accuracy provided by SBAS will also support the adoption of technologies like virtual fencing in more intensively-grazed pastures, which has been estimated in this report as potentially saving dairy farmers $100 per cow each year.”
The trial was led by Geoscience Australia in partnership with Land Information New Zealand with FrontierSI managing industry projects. (Source: Space Connect)
15 Aug 19. Space capabilities gap leaves ADF at severe disadvantage. China is developing the ability to rapidly attack the critical space infrastructure of the US and its allies, including Australia, before or at the outset of a future military conflict.
That created risk of a “space Pearl Harbor” is designed to leave the US and allies deaf, dumb and blind, warns Australian Strategic Policy Institute senior analyst Dr Malcolm Davis in a new paper.
He said the consequences of an effective offensive counterspace campaign would be severe, significantly diminishing overall military effectiveness of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
It would be forced to rely purely on terrestrial capabilities for vital tasks. In some cases, such as secure global communications and timely reconnaissance there would be no adequate or complete substitute.
“Such an outcome would severely erode the ADF’s ability to undertake information-led joint, integrated and coalition operations,” he said.
“The loss of access to space capability would rob the ADF of a means to fight war and conduct other military operations in a manner most conducive to likely success.”
The ADF relies on a range of space delivered capabilities for communications, navigation and surveillance. (Source: Space Connect)
So far Australia’s largest single investment is in space-based defence capability, and this was funding of one of 10 satellites in the US Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation. With a cost at around $1bn, it includes the satellite, launch and ground infrastructure, and gives Australia access to a tenth of the capacity of the WGS system.
Australia also has access to Defence payloads on the Optus C1 and Intelsat IS-22 commercial satellites. Defence plans to replace it all with a new Australian Defence SATCOM System (ASDSS) under program JP9102 from the mid-next decade. Project DEF 799 Phase 2 will potentially give the ADF a space surveillance capability. Australia also has access to the US Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation (as does everyone).
While, Australia has no national intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellite capability, it does have access to allied systems, specifically the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The joint facility at Pine Gap plus Exmouth provides Australia with important ground facilities. Australia also hosts ground facilities for space situational awareness (SSA), that is tracking space debris and other people’s satellites. But space is far from a peaceful commons. Dr Davis said space was contested, congested and competitive and fast becoming a war-fighting domain in its own right.
In previous decades space was seen primarily as an adjunct to traditional air, sea and land domains, with a presumption that they would remain untouched by warfare below.
China changed that in January 2007 with a successful anti-satellite missile (ASAT) test.
Dr Davis said that was a warning shot which ended the comfortable assumption that US and ally military forces would always have uninterrupted access to space capabilities and the ability to fight in a manner most conducive to their success.
He said space was set to become even more contested.
China and the USSR are developing a suite of counterspace capabilities.
That includes direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons, missiles launched from Earth to physically destroy a target satellite, and co-orbital ASATs which can manoeuvre close to a target satellite and then destroy it through collision or disable it by electronic attack or physical interference.
There’s also terrestrial counterspace capability, such as satellite uplink and downlink jamming and spoofing techniques, laser-dazzling and, ultimately, cyber attack.
While ASATs are certainly effective, the downside is a debris field just as likely to damage or destroy everyone’s satellites. More appealing for an adversary may be grey zone operations, including jamming and cyber attack.
Dr Davis said states would increasingly seek to avoid ASAT and counterspace capabilities that generated large amounts of space debris.
“The emphasis will be on soft kills with rapid, scalable and reversible effects, along with a requirement for deniability if not outright anonymity,” he said.
“Key capabilities of the space battlefield of 2035 will be directed-energy weapons, cyber attacks, advanced electronic warfare and ubiquitous jamming. Space war may happen at the speed of light, as satellites go dead without warning.”
Dr Davis said the ADF must therefore plan for fighting through a contested space environment to achieve operational success.
“Australia lacks the ability to undertake space negation, but we can expand our ability for defensive space control through augmentation, disaggregation and reconstitution, and in doing so fully utilise our sovereign space industry to support defence tasks,” he said.
“The starting point towards that goal must be the development of a clear and coherent space defence policy.”
Rather than relying on small numbers of large, complex and expensive satellites, Australia could improve space resilience with larger numbers of small satellites produced by Australian industry and launched from Australian territory.
That could have the effect of deterring an adversary, who would risk retaliation for an attack on space capabilities which has limited impact.
But could or should Australia develop a counterspace capability? Dr Davis said an Australian ASAT capability would run counter to Australia’s support for norms seeking to make space as much as possible a peaceful environment for co-operation.
However, Defence should consider a ground-based counterspace capability based on electronic warfare, jamming, laser-dazzling and cyber warfare, mostly as a means of deterrence.
As well, Defence needs to establish new organisational structures, concentrating space expertise in one body, rather than having activities spread across the Defence organisation. (Source: Space Connect)
13 Aug 19. Asian nations boost spy satellite capacities. Asian countries continue to enhance their satellite constellations, with China, India and South Korea all making recent announcements in the space realm.
China, for instance, successfully launched three additional Yaogan-30 tactical imaging/ELINT satellites aboard a Long March-2C carrier rocket from its Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on 26 July.
State media euphemistically reported that the high-revisit satellite triplet, the fourth in the series, will be used mainly for ‘electromagnetic detection and related technological tests’.
This particular Yaogan-30 Group 04 launch was the 308th mission for the Long March rocket series and it placed the satellites in an orbit 600km above Earth. The Yaogan-30 series built by the Chinese Academy of Science operates in threes in relatively close proximity so that they can accurately pinpoint signal emissions. It is believed that the remote-sensing satellites in a 35° orbit can locate military platforms such as aircraft carriers via their electromagnetic transmissions.
The first Yaogan-30 triplet lifted off on 29 September 2017, with successive launches on 24 November and 25 December the same year. Indeed, these three planes of Yaogan-30 triplets give roughly 120° of separation to effect reasonably effective SIGINT coverage. This constellation allows the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to pass over an area 19 times per day in vertical-imaging mode, or 54 times a day in off-vertical SIGINT mode.
The addition of the fourth triplet to the same orbital plane as Group 03 leads to an even 60° spacing between each member to further improve the revisit rate. It is expected that further launches will add to the other two Yaogan-30 planes, creating an eventual constellation of 18 satellites.
As mentioned, China is not the only Asian country to be launching satellites. On 22 May, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched a radar-imaging Earth observation satellite that can capture military-grade high-resolution images in all weathers by day or night.
The indigenously developed RISAT-2B weighing 615kg was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in southern India into a sun-synchronous polar orbit 556km above Earth. It possesses an X-band synthetic aperture radar, and its imagery will supplement pictures obtained from the ISRO’s Cartosat series of satellites, whose coverage is limited by cloud cover.
RISAT-2B has a five-year lifespan. It replaces the Israeli-built RISAT-2 as well as the Indian-built RISAT-1 launched in 2009 and 2012 respectively.
Meanwhile, South Korea named a consortium of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Hanwha Systems, along with Thales Alenia Space providing the SAR payload derived from its HE-R1000 product, as preferred bidder to develop new 425 Project reconnaissance satellites with an expected launch by 2025.
425 Project will see four satellites equipped with an SAR and one for high-resolution EO/IR images. KAI announced the success in a stock exchange filing on 5 December 2018, saying it was worth KRW588bn ($530m).
The new consortium replaces a preferred bidder chosen earlier, one that comprised LIG Nex1, Satrec Initiative and Airbus Defence and Space. Negotiations between the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and the latter grouping had broken down after the bidder had apparently asked to lower 29 of 129 specifications required by the ADD.
South Korea currently relies on three Arirang-series (KOMPSAT-3, -3A and -5) reconnaissance satellites to gather intelligence. LIG Nex1 and Airbus are developing the KOMPSAT-6 SAR satellite, but its launch has been delayed by 13 months till 2020. KOMPSAT-7, an EO/IR satellite, is slated for launch in 2021.
Seoul still relies heavily on American intelligence to monitor North Korea, so it is keen to boost its independent intelligence collection capacity. Of interest, and returning to the subject of China, the country is renting bandwidth on nine US satellites and is benefiting militarily from them, according to a Wall Street Journal article published in April 2019. For example, Chinese soldiers on military outposts in the South China Sea are using a 4G service, while Chinese police are using them in its efforts to stifle internal unrest.
Although US law prohibits US companies from selling satellites to China, there are no regulations covering how a satellite’s rented bandwidth is being used. One such bridge between China and the US is Hong Kong-based AsiaSat, which has funded nine American satellites so far.
The Wall Street Journal wrote, for example: ‘China’s Ministry of Public Security has described satellites as core to police operations. Its records show the ministry relied on a satellite called AsiaSat 4, manufactured by Boeing, and one called AsiaSat 5, made by SSL, as it worked to build rapid-response forces capable of providing real-time audio and video from the field.’ (Source: Shephard)
13 Aug 19. DARPA Selects BAE Systems to Develop Machine Learning Capabilities for Space Situational Awareness. BAE Systems has been awarded a Phase 2 contract to develop machine learning capabilities aimed to help the military gain better awareness of space scenarios for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The goal of DARPA’s Hallmark Tools, Capabilities, and Evaluation Methodology (Hallmark-TCEM) program is to not only develop and evaluate tools and capabilities that increase an operator’s understanding of space events, but also enhance the ability to select effective courses of action for any given situation.
Space assets such as satellites are becoming increasingly important and relied upon by the Department of Defense for communications, surveillance, and security. As part of Hallmark-TCEM, BAE Systems’ FAST Labs™ research and development team will build cognitive-based machine learning algorithms and data models aimed to give space operators the ability to identify abnormal activities and predict possible threats. The team will build on Phase 1 work of the program, and continue to leverage the decade-long development of the company’s Multi-INT Analytics for Pattern Learning and Exploitation (MAPLE)technology with a solution called MAPLE Automates Joint Indications and Warnings for Cognitive Counter-Space (MAJICS).
“Our technology builds data models based on normal activity and then ingests large amounts of real-time, streaming data to compare against the normal model and determine if any abnormal activity is occurring or will occur,” said Dr. John Hogan, product line director of the Sensor Processing and Exploitation group at BAE Systems. “By using this technology, we hope to reduce the operator’s workload by providing a solution that will automatically predict space events such as launches or satellite movements based on millions of pieces of data, helping them make rapid decisions to avoid any potential threats.”
BAE Systems’ research on the Hallmark-TCEM program adds to the company’s machine learning and artificial intelligence segment of its autonomy technology portfolio. The capabilities developed under the Hallmark-TCEM effort will be integrated into DARPA’s Hallmark Software Testbed (Hallmark-ST) program. Work for the program will be completed at the company’s facilities in Burlington, Massachusetts and Reston, Virginia. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
13 Aug 19. Vulcan Centaur Rocket on Schedule for First Flight in 2021. ULA Submits Proposal for US Air Force’s Launch Services Competition. At the United Launch Alliance (ULA) factory in Decatur, Alabama, production of the first Vulcan Centaur rocket continues, with shipment to the launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida scheduled for late next year for processing in preparation for its first launch in 2021.
“Atlas and Delta rockets have been the backbone of national security space launch for decades, building on a progressive history of technology development and advancement — Vulcan Centaur will advance this rich heritage,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Following the successful launch of our 134th mission just last week on our Atlas rocket, we submitted our purpose-built Vulcan Centaur rocket for the U.S. Air Force’s Phase 2 Launch Services competition. It is so exciting to see the first flight vehicle coming together at our factory.”
The Department of Defense has established a selection strategy to ensure a smooth transition to a U.S. engine, while introducing competition, driving down costs and safeguarding continued assured access to space by preventing any capability gaps. Nearly one year ago, the Air Force held a competition and awarded three Launch Services Agreements for public-private partnerships to develop launch vehicles. Phase 2 is the next procurement in the Air Force’s strategy.
“The nation is facing a contested space environment, and we are unleashing the energy of American ingenuity by developing Vulcan Centaur to meet our nation’s need for expanding space missions,” said Bruno. “Vulcan Centaur’s flight proven design, coupled with innovative technology, is transforming the future of space launch and will advance America’s superiority in space.”
ULA is the nation’s only full-range national security space launch provider and is the most experienced, with more than 130 launches and 100 percent mission success. Additionally, ULA and the heritage companies are the nation’s only firms who have ever flown the exquisite Category C heavy-class national security missions, thus providing the country with extreme confidence of continued low-risk mission performance.
“Vulcan Centaur will provide higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and orbital accuracy precision from our treasured cryogenic Centaur upper stage,” said Bruno. “ULA is the best partner for national security space launch, and we are the only provider to demonstrate experience flying to all orbits including the most challenging heavy-class missions, providing the bedrock foundation for the lowest risk portfolio of two launch service providers for the U.S. Air Force.”
In the factory, the fabrication of the structure for the first Vulcan Centaur rocket continues, and the team recently completed the booster structural test article in Decatur. In Florida, assembly of the new Mobile Launch Platform has begun in preparation for the first launch.
With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system and support life-saving technology. (Source: ASD Network)
14 Aug 19. Rocket Lab proposes plans for reusable Electron rocket. Drawing on the precedent set by SpaceX, Rocket Lab has revealed plans to recover and re-fly the first stage of its Electron launch vehicle. The move aims to enable Rocket Lab to further increase launch frequency by eliminating the need to build a new first stage for every mission. Work on Rocket Lab’s Electron first stage reuse program began in late 2018, at the end of the company’s first year of orbital launches. The plan to reuse Electron’s first stage will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will see Rocket Lab attempt to recover a full Electron first stage from the ocean downrange of Launch Complex 1 and have it shipped back to Rocket Lab’s Production Complex for refurbishment.
The second phase will see Electron’s first stage captured mid-air by helicopter, before the stage is transported back to Launch Complex 1 for refurbishment and relaunch. Rocket Lab plans to begin first stage recovery attempts in the coming year.
Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said reusing Electron’s first stage will enable Rocket Lab to further increase launch frequency by reducing production time spent building new stages from scratch.
“From day one, Rocket Lab’s mission has been to provide frequent and reliable access to orbit for small satellites. Having delivered on this with Electron launching satellites to orbit almost every month, we’re now establishing the reusability program to further increase launch frequency,” said Mr Beck.
A major step towards Rocket Lab’s reusability plans was completed on the company’s most recent launch, the Make It Rain mission, which launched on 29 June from Launch Complex 1. The first stage on this mission carried critical instrumentation and experiments that provided data to inform future recovery efforts. The next Electron mission, scheduled for launch in August, will also carry recovery instrumentation.
“Reusing the stage of a small launch vehicle is a complex challenge, as there’s little mass margin to dedicate to recovery systems. For a long time, we said we wouldn’t pursue reusability for this very reason, but we’ve been able to develop the technology that could make recovery feasible for Electron. We’re excited to put that technology into practice with a stage recovery attempt in the coming year,” Mr Beck added. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Aug 19. Blue Origin files protest in US Air Force’s launch vehicle competition. Blue Origin lodged a pre-award protest on Monday with the U.S. Government Accountability Office over concerns about the Air Force’s ongoing competition to develop a next-generation of rockets.
Blue Origin is arguing that the current structure of the launch service provider competition may favor incumbents and will perpetuate a duopoly, according to a Blue Origin fact sheet obtained by Defense News.
“As drafted, the LSP [launch service provider] RFP [request for proposals] includes evaluation criteria that are ambiguous and fail to comply with federal procurement statutes and regulations. This subjectivity of the criteria makes it impossible to accurately respond to the RFP,” the fact sheet states.
“To ensure the process maximizes value for the American taxpayer and protects U.S. national security interests in space, it is essential that the Air Force structure the LSP RFP in a way that fosters a fair and level playing field for new entrants.”
The Air Force released a solicitation for the second phase of the LSP competition in May and intends to downselect to two launch providers in 2020. Blue Origin is joined by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Northrop Grumman in vying for the series of contracts, which will be awarded over 2020 to 2024 for launches scheduled through 2027.
Blue Origin laid out three major objections in its protest to the GAO.
First, the company argues that the selection process is too vague, with ambiguous technical criteria. The Air Force plans to award contracts to the two competitors that — when combined — provide the best value. According to an industry stakeholder, Blue Origin is concerned that the Air Force could use that standard to award contracts to, for instance, the companies that place first and third instead of the top two competitors.
“As it is not clear what competitors will bid, the entire field of proposers are at a disadvantage,” the Blue Origin fact sheet reads.
The company is also worried about a provision in the solicitation that allows competitors to list “backup launch vehicles” that could be utilized in the event that the two new rockets selected by the Air Force cannot be launched due to technical issues or other problems.
Only the incumbents — United Launch Alliance and SpaceX — have rockets certified by the Air Force for this mission set, Blue Origin argues, putting it and the other new contender, Northrop Grumman, at a disadvantage.
That requirement could foster continued reliance on Russian rocket motors if ULA’s Atlas V, which is powered by the Russian-made RD-180, is allowed as a backup vehicle.
Additionally, Blue Origin contends that the Air Force’s decision to award contracts over a five-year period to only two providers unnecessarily restricts competition.
“Unless the Air Force changes its approach, this procurement will perpetuate a market duopoly in national security space launch well into the next decade, causing higher launch prices, less assured access to space, and a missed opportunity to expand our national security interests and bolster U.S. leadership in space,” the company stated in the fact sheet.
Ultimately, Blue Origin hopes that, if GAO sustains its protest, the Air Force will revoke its current RFP and makes changes that would remove all references to backup launch vehicles, reduce the number of launches solicited, and amend certain wording that the company views as either unclear or favorable to ULA and SpaceX, according to a redacted copy of its protest. The GAO has 100 days to make a ruling on a protest, making Nov. 20 its deadline to make a decision. Despite its objections, Blue Origin submitted its bid for the LSP contract on Aug. 9 and plans to move forward in the process no matter the outcome of its protest, the industry stakeholder told Defense News. Over the past months, Blue Origin has been vocal about its concerns over the LSP competition. In the run-up to the RFP release this spring, the company quietly made the case to Congress that the contract award, currently planned for 2020, should be delayed for a year or two to allow competitors to further mature their designs.
But Air Force leaders, who have defended the service’s approach as open and deliberate, don’t want to see a delay to the current schedule.
“We are ready to issue an RFP for the launch service procurements,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, head of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said in March. “All potential offerors have sufficient maturity, and we expect a full and open and robust competition.” (Source: Defense News)
13 Aug 19. Kleos Space orbit change to support growing market demand. ASX-listed Kleos Space has advised that it has changed launch providers for its Scouting Mission 1 satellites, which will now launch into a 37-degree inclination. The 37-degree orbital inclination gives the Kleos’ Scouting Mission 1 cluster of four satellites improved data collection by a factor of between 2 and 4.5 times over crucial shipping target regions such as the Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, and off the North Australia coast, South US coast and East and West African coasts when compared with the originally planned sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
Following the recent postponement of the launch of Kleos’ Scouting Mission satellites, Kleos investigated other available launch options with launch and mission management provider Spaceflight Inc. that would meet immediate market demand and potentially increase the value of the data collected.
Since the original choice of SSO was made over a year ago, the threat level in the equatorial regions has increased and Kleos has made significant progress in engaging the market and securing defence and security customers who have an interest in these regions, where increased coverage provides better data and improved mission critical information for customers.
Kleos’ CEO Andy Bowyer said, “The change in inclination opportunity allows Kleos to deliver more frequent and higher value coverage for a broad spectrum of users – through defence, security and commercial operations in their key areas of interest when compared to sun-synchronous orbit.”
Keeping within the Q4 2019 launch window, Kleos will now launch under a rideshare contract with Spaceflight Inc. on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) into a 37-degree inclination orbit. The scouting satellites are ready to fly.
The Kleos team has analysed and confirmed compatibility with the satellites flying in a 37-degree inclination. Unlike most earth observation missions which fly in an SSO to allow for the sun to illuminate their targets for imagery, Kleos technology means its satellites can observe RF transmissions at any time of day because they are not dependant on sunlight.
“When a ship goes dark to vanish from global tracking systems, Kleos satellites can locate them through their RF transmissions,” Bowyer said.
The PSLV is a highly reliable expendable medium-lift launch vehicle designed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The original SSO is nearly a polar orbit that maintains its relationship with the sun which is useful for power generation and for missions that rely on illumination of the target. SSO gave full global coverage, with good revisit times of the polar areas. PSLV C49 is in a 37-degree inclination, which is where the satellites’ orbit traverses between 37° North latitude and 37° South latitude.
“In the last month alone, at least 20 ships have switched off their transponders in the Strait of Hormuz to avoid detection. Our customers eagerly await our data,” Bowyer added.
The coverage is broadly bounded by Lisbon in the North and Melbourne in the South delivering far improved revisit times around the equatorial regions at the expense of coverage in the far North and South. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Aug 19. Myriota combines forces with Goanna Ag for satellite farm tech. Adelaide-based satellite connectivity company Myriota has teamed up with Queensland agriculture technology company Goanna Ag to produce satellite connected rain gauges and tank level monitors.
That means farmers can monitor rainfall and water levels in remote tanks anywhere, without the need for internet coverage or mobile phone connectivity. Myriota business development executive Tom Rayner said its “everywhere” communication solution was ideally suited to agriculture.
“With ground-based communications requiring capital and geographical prioritisation, there will be ‘black spots’ where data is lost, but through this collaboration with Goanna Ag, we have been able to overcome these challenges of cost and connectivity,” he said.
Goanna Ag chief operating officer Tom Dowling said the company had been working towards the solution for more than a decade.
“Thanks to our partnership with Myriota we have developed a game-changing solution that will drive on-farm efficiencies – particularly around water management and optimisation,” he said.
“Our clients know the value that comes from remote monitoring, but until now, the industry has been restricted by coverage and cost issues.”
Goanna Ag has conducted trials of a number of the rain gauges and water tank monitoring devices on farms and commercial releases is close. Each unit costs under $1,000 or combined for around $1,200.
Farmers can place pre-orders with sales expected to start in October.
Units are set to include three years of connectivity, data management and app access as standard.
Future versions of the rain gauges are expected to feature smart functionality, including point specific weather forecasting generated by the Bureau of Meteorology, aggregated and granular rainfall mapping and an initial on-the-go yield forecaster for dry-land cropping.
Myriota emerged from the University of South Australia in 2015 to commercialise research on internet of things (IoT)connectivity conducted by company founders Dr Alex Grant and Dr David Haley.
The company has developed a range of remote area connectivity solutions. For example, its water tank level monitoring system allows farmers to see water tank levels on their smartphone.
Data goers from the tank or gauge to orbiting nanosatellite and then to the cloud, and from there to the farmer. Although other satellite operators can provide this type of service, Myriota said it can do it far cheaper.
Myriota’s nano-satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December last year.
Myriota uses exactEarth’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December, for its connectivity.
Goanna Ag is based in Goodiwindi, Queensland and emerged from the innovation of former local agronomist Tom Dowling founded Goanna Telemetry in 2001. Last year, Goanna Telemetry merged with Discovery Ag to form Goanna Ag, developing farm sensors, including weather stations and soil moisture probes to provide growers with data to improve water use efficiency. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Aug 19. South Australia’s Lot Fourteen welcomes Neumann Space. South Australian start-up Neumann Space has joined the growing space ecosystem at Lot Fourteen, bolstering the precinct’s reputation as the ideal place for innovative collaboration across high-growth industries.
The company, which is developing cutting-edge propulsion technology to improve the thrust performance of satellites, is among a raft of new tenants at the nation’s premier innovation hub, and co-located with Inovor Technologies.
A memorandum of understanding between Neumann Space and Inovor Technologies has been signed to strengthen the collaboration on space technology development moving forward.
Under the agreement, Neumann will provide Inovor with the thrust propulsion system needed in its nanosatellites. This completes the Australian supply chain and demonstrates the developments taking place at Lot Fourteen as a direct result of the unparalleled collaborative opportunities.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said, “I’m delighted to see Neumann Space be a part of the thriving neighbourhood at Lot Fourteen, which is already home to the Australian Space Agency, SmartSat CRC, Myriota, Inovor Technologies and a growing cluster of companies in high-growth industries such as defence, space and cyber.
“I congratulate Neumann and Inovor on pledging to work together and committing to share expertise and experience. This level of collaboration will further strengthen the capability of our local space ecosystem, and help us make a footprint on a national and international scale.”
The Marshall Liberal government will also provide $850,000 in funding to support the growth and development of Neumann Space, through the Department for Innovation and Skills’ Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund.
Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said the decision of Neumann Space to relocate from Sydney to Adelaide was a vote of confidence in the South Australian economy and demonstrates how the innovation precinct at Lot Fourteen is going from strength to strength.
“The Marshall government is making this funding available on behalf of South Australian taxpayers because there are enormous economic and employment benefits flowing from the activity that is occurring in these emerging industries at Lot Fourteen,” Minister Pisoni said.
Peter Schultz, executive chairman of Neumann Space said Lot Fourteen is the ideal location for his company to thrive.
“We now know for certain we made the right decision to relocate the company from Sydney to Adelaide,” said Schultz.
“The vision, inspirational environment and understanding of the needs of technologically leading-edge start-ups is just right, and the state government should be congratulated on their vision.” (Source: Space Connect)
11 Aug 19. OneWeb’s Global Ku- and Ka-Band Spectrum is Secured. OneWeb has succeeded in bringing into use the company’s spectrum rights in the Ku- and Ka-band spectrum. To achieve this milestone, OneWeb’s satellites have been transmitting at the designated frequencies in the correct orbit for more than 90 days, enabling OneWeb to meet the requirements to secure spectrum bands over which it has priority rights under ITU rules and regulations. These rights will now be confirmed as the UK administration, which has filed our satellite system with the ITU, will complete the required Notification and Registration process of the company’s LEO network. By meeting the requirements of the ITU regulations, OneWeb is well on its way to securing spectrum rights to high priority Ku-band spectrum for service links, and Ka-band for its global gateways. It will now have access to over 6 GHz of spectrum that will enable it to deliver its high-speed, low latency connectivity.
This achievement is the latest in a string of major milestones charting OneWeb’s progress toward commercial service and full global coverage by 2021, including the successful launch of its first six satellites in February, the opening of its state-of-the-art Florida manufacturing facility earlier this month, and proving its ability to deliver low latency, high-speed services through its recent full HD streaming tests.
During the remainder of 2019, OneWeb will focus on commencing its monthly launch program of more than 30 satellites per month, building an initial constellation of 650 satellites on its way to 1,980 satellites. The first phase of the constellation will provide global coverage; and further additions to the network will be focused on adding capacity to meet growing customer demands.
Sustainability is a core OneWeb’s commitment to bridge the digital divide. In June 2019, OneWeb reaffirmed its promise to leave no trace in space with its Responsible Space commitments based on the premise that Space is a shared natural resource, which if used responsibly, can help transform the way we live, work, and connect.
Ruth Pritchard-Kelly, VP of Regulatory for OneWeb, said spectrum is a scarce resource and the ITU plays a vital role in the global management for access. The harsh reality for anyone trying to make a real impact on global connectivity is that no matter how good your network is, success is not possible without the correct spectrum. With the company’s spectrum now in use, OneWeb has proved it can bring together all the elements required —– in space, on the ground, and in between — to change the face of connectivity everywhere. (Source: Satnews)
10 Aug 19. Chinese space startup revs up for reusable rocket race. Chinese startup LinkSpace on Saturday completed its third test of a reusable rocket in five months, stepping up the pace in China’s race to develop a technology key to cheap space launches in an expected global boom in satellite deployment. (Source: Reuters)
LinkSpace’s RLV-T5 rocket blasted off in a desert in western Qinghai province at 0230 GMT. It flew as high as 300 meters (984 feet) before returning to the launchpad on its own after 50 seconds, CEO Hu Zhenyu, 26, told Reuters.
The Beijing-based company aims to conduct a “kilometer-level” test at some point, Hu said.
The RLV-T5 previously hovered 20 meters and 40 meters above the ground in two tests in March and April respectively. China envisions constellations of commercial satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed internet for aircraft and rural areas to tracking coal shipments and commuter traffic. Reliable, low-cost and frequent launches will be key, with recoverable or partially-recoverable rockets like the Falcon 9 from Elon Musk’s SpaceX one pathway to eventually affordable satellite deployment missions.
SpaceX has already used recoverable rockets on a number of orbital missions since a historic launch early in 2017, spurring Europe, Russia, Japan and China to speed up their own research into the technology or at least consider studying it.
LinkSpace’s test flight on Saturday came on the heels of a historic delivery of a satellite into orbit last month by privately owned Chinese firm iSpace. Beijing-based iSpace told Reuters last week that it was also planning to launch a recoverable rocket, in 2021.
The reusable design of its next-generation rocket could lead to a predicted cost reduction of 70%, iSpace estimated.
LinkSpace previously told Reuters it hoped to charge no more than 30 m yuan ($4.25m) per reusable launch. That’s a fraction of the $25m to $30m needed for a launch on a Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Pegasus, a commonly used small rocket. The Pegasus is launched from a high-altitude aircraft and is not reusable. (Source: Reuters)
08 Aug 19. Manifest Agreement with Firefly Aerospace Signed by Benchmark Space Systems. Benchmark Space Systems has signed a manifest agreement with Firefly Aerospace (Austin, TX) to secure a ‘ride’ to space in Q1 2020. Firefly and Benchmark Space have each completed extensive development and testing of their respective technologies and are primed for space. For Firefly’s inaugural Alpha Rocket launch, the target altitude of 300 km. provides an ideal environment for Benchmark Space to demonstrate the launch preparation and safety features of the DFAST propulsion system and run through a suite of maneuvers on-orbit. NearSpace Launch (Upland, IN) will provide their 3U FastBus satellite and mission support.
This announcement comes just a few days following the FCC’s timely revision of Part 25 satellite regulations that allow streamlined satellite licensing for spacecraft equipped with propulsion on board.
Benchmark Space’s DFAST product line was developed to provide the benefits of reliable, high-precision positioning and control capability with unprecedented safety and affordability. This innovative system uses inert, non-toxic powdered fuel that is filled before shipping and remains inert until a pressurization command is triggered on-orbit.
Benchmark’s CEO, Ryan McDevitt, stated that collision avoidance and controlled end of life de-orbit capabilities are a popular discussion topic within the space industry as we expect tens of thousands of new satellites to be orbiting our planet over the next decade. The ability to ship, store, and inhibit an assembled and fueled DFAST is a game changer for lowering launch manifest and operational costs. He added that the team is planning to debut their liquid-fueled system later in 2020, following the completion of a development program with the U.S. Air Force. (Source: Satnews)
08 Aug 19. Spaceflight Inc. Purchases First Commercial SSLV Mission from NewSpace India Limited. Spaceflight has purchased the first commercial launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) from NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) scheduled for launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, later this year. Spaceflight has already sold-out the entire manifest for this secured SSLV-D2 launch with spacecraft from an undisclosed U.S.-based satellite constellation customer. Spaceflight will aggregate the mission, delivering a single point of contact for the customer, handling all aspects of integration and mission management for the launch.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) developed the SSLV with a payload capacity of 500 kg. to mid-inclination LEO and 300 kg. to SSO, making it ideally suited for launching smallsats. By comparison, the larger Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from ISRO is capable of launching 1100 – 1600 kg. capacity payload into SSO.
With the completion of this mission, Spaceflight will have executed nine missions with ISRO, sending more than 100 spacecraft to orbit aboard its launch vehicles. The first SSLV mission will deploy commercial spacecraft in two different orbital planes.
For Spaceflight, this mission follows the successful launches of PSLV-C45 which deployed 21 rideshare spacecraft, GTO-1, which deployed the first commercial lunar lander in February aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, and SSO-A, the company’s historic dedicated rideshare mission, which launched 64 unique smallsats in December 2018. To date, Spaceflight has negotiated the launch of 270 satellites and has plans for approximately 10 missions in 2019 launching nearly 100 payloads across a wide variety of launch vehicles, including the Falcon 9, Antares, Electron, Vega, Soyuz, LauncherOne, and PSLV/SSLV.
Curt Blake, CEO and President of Spaceflight, said the SSLV is the much-needed solution to fill the gap in the portfolio of small launch vehicles. SSLV is designed for the launch-on-demand concept with very quick turn-around capability in between launches. SSLV is perfectly suited for launching multiple microsatellites at a time and supports multiple orbital drop-offs. The company is excited to add SSLV to our launch portfolio and manage many launches together — first to LEO mid-inclinations this year and SSO missions starting in the fall of 2020. Blake added that as the firm’s customers seek to populate their constellations, they want access to launch vehicles sized for their spacecraft and budgets, across a mix of rideshare and dedicated missions. ISRO has been a trusted and reliable launch partner for years with the PSLV, and we’re very excited to work with NSIL to offer customers the option to launch from SSLV, hence Spaceflight’s purchase of its first available launch. (Source: Satnews)
07 Aug 19. Orbital Debris Solutions to be Tested by TriSept, Rocket Lab and Tethers Unlimited. TriSept Corporation has signed comprehensive launch service agreements with Millennium Space Systems and Rocket Lab to support a unique mission aimed at helping to solve the ever-increasing LEO debris challenge. Millennium Space Systems is designing and building, and will be operating the Millennium RAPTOR satellites and working with TriSept to manage the mission for the DRAGRACER initiative.
This rideshare mission will launch aboard the Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle in early 2020. Once in space, the 25 kg. smallsat will split into two payloads to demonstrate how a new de-orbit technology, the Terminator Tape developed by Tethers Unlimited Inc., can help reduce orbital debris.
One of the test satellites will feature the deployable Terminator Tape, designed to add significant drag to the spacecraft and allow researchers to closely study how the device can dramatically accelerate reentry and the removal of orbital debris once a spacecraft reaches end of life. An onboard timer will trigger the tether deployment on the experimental satellite a few days into the mission, with reentry estimates in the two- to four-week range for the spacecraft with the Terminator Tape, and eight to 12 months without the enhanced drag device.
TriSept will provide full spacecraft integration with the launch vehicle and procurement of dispenser device hardware used to release the small satellites into space. TriSept is also leading collaborative efforts with Millennium Space Systems and Rocket Lab to secure regulatory approvals from U.S. and New Zealand space agencies.
Mike Scardera, VP of Advanced Concepts, Millennium Space Systems, said the DRAGRACER mission is all about providing an affordable, effective and scalable solution to the orbital debris challenge facing the LEO smallsat market and the global space industry. This is the first in a series of critical project missions the company expects to launch with TriSept. By working with such a seasoned support crew, the company can focus on building the best flight solutions for today’s challenges in space.
Rob Spicer, TriSept President and CEO, added that the collaborative relationship between TriSept, Millennium Space Systems and Rocket Lab is driving new innovative and meaningful missions in space, such as the DRAGRACER initiative dedicated to exploring creative solutions to the orbital space debris challenge. The company is honored that Millennium Space Systems has entrusted TriSept with the integration and management of this important mission aboard the firm’s second launch with the proven Rocket Lab Electron. DRAGRACER could ultimately help shape how the industry handles orbital debris for years to come.
Lars Hoffman, SVP of Global Launch Services, Rocket Lab, stated that this rideshare mission slated for launch aboard the firm’s Rocket Lab Electron is significant as Millennium Space Systems, supported by TriSept’s seasoned launch integration team, tackles one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today. Rocket Lab looks forward to working closely with these two space industry innovators in preparation for an exciting milestone launch of the DRAGRACER orbital debris initiative. (Source: Satnews)
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