Sponsored By Viasat
21 Aug 19. Viasat selects Blue Canyon Technologies for Link 16 LEO spacecraft. Viasat has selected Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) to support the US Air Force (USAF) programme to deliver and test the Link 16-capable low Earth orbit (LEO) spacecraft. In May, Viasat won a contract under the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles XVI programme to prototype and test space-based Link 16 capabilities. The capabilities are compatible with the fielded Link 16-enabled platforms, including ground vehicles, aircraft, maritime vessels and dismounted users. The spacecraft will provide troops with enhanced situational awareness by extending the range of Link 16 networks. BCT is required to design and manufacture a 12U small satellite bus. Viasat is responsible for the design and manufacture of the spacecraft’s payload. The Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft is anticipated to be launched next year.
BCT CEO and president George Stafford said: “To date, Link 16 technology has only been capable of line-of-sight communications. By demonstrating that Link 16 can operate in a space environment on small satellites, the US military can gain beyond-line-of-sight tactical advantages on the battlefield and ultimately keep our troops safer.”
Link 16 is a military tactical data link network that allows the US military and Nato allies to share critical information.
Using the encrypted radio frequency, different platforms such as aircraft, land vehicles and ships can exchange data and images in standard message formats.
The pilot project of the USAF is intended to assess the feasibility of using small satellites in LEO to relay better information to military assets and ground forces.
Viasat government systems president Ken Peterman said: “This Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft will address the Department of Defense’s urgent need for a fast-to-market, cost-effective, space-based Link 16 solution to maintain the technological edge needed in contested environments.”
The 12U spacecraft can provide a satellite platform that optimises payload volume. BCT will develop and test the spacecraft bus at its spacecraft manufacturing centre in Colorado, US.
The XVI programme is part of efforts to create a global Link 16-enabled LEO satellite constellation.
It will ensure secure, high-speed and resilient communications for the US and allied military forces. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
22 Aug 19. GPS III Satellite Launches with BAE Systems RAD750 Single Board Computers. The second GPS III satellite launched today from Cape Canaveral with our RAD750™ Single Board Computer on board. It will provide radiation hardened, high-performance onboard processing capability for the satellite’s mission to modernize the GPS constellation. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
The U.S. Air Force today launched its second GPS III satellite, the most powerful Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite ever built. BAE Systems’ RAD750™ Single Board Computer (SBC), part of Harris Corporation’s navigation payload for GPS III prime contractor Lockheed Martin, will provide radiation hardened, high-performance onboard processing capability for the satellite’s mission.
“Security and reliability are key to ensuring warfighters can depend on GPS signals,” said James LaRosa, director of Space Processor and Products at BAE Systems. “Our rad-hard RAD750 processor can withstand radiation doses a million times stronger than a fatal human dose, and that durability is valued on missions like the GPS III.”
To modernize the GPS constellation with new technology and advanced capabilities, the Air Force began launching its new, next-generation GPS III satellites in December 2018. GPS III is three times more accurate and has up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities over current GPS satellites. GPS III is the first GPS satellite to broadcast the new L1C civil signal to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo. The Air Force has announced plans to build up to 32 GPS III and IIIF satellites, for which BAE Systems’ SBCs could provide long-lasting computing power on each mission.
BAE Systems’ radiation-hardened electronics have been on board satellites and spacecraft for almost 30 years. The company has provided more than 900 computers from more than 300 satellites, and has provided the computers that power key national space assets such as Juno and Pathfinder.
Radiation hardened computers are produced at BAE Systems’ facility in Manassas, Virginia. The facility is a U.S. Department of Defense Category 1A Microelectronics Trusted Source.
(Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
23 Aug 19. Australia signals intention to work with Europe for future space missions. The Australian Space Agency has signed a joint statement of intent with the European Space Agency, which will pave the way for greater Australian involvement in future European space missions.
The statement outlines an intention to explore deeper co-operation and identify projects in a range of areas, including deep space communications, navigation, remote asset management, data analytics and mission support.
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said this was a big step forward for the Australian Space Agency.
“This signing will allow our agencies to explore further opportunities for co-operation, after 40 years of having worked together,” she said.
“It shows just how much momentum and excitement has been developed since the Coalition government established the Australian Space Agency last year.
“Having the Australian Space Agency to pursue these opportunities will play a big part in us reaching our goal of tripling the size of our space sector to $12 billion and up to an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030.”
Australia has maintained a long running involvement with ESA.
Under the existing agreement, Australia hosts the ESA deep space tracking station at New Norcia in Western Australia, operated by the CSIRO. A third antenna is set to be constructed on the site.
CSIRO works closely with the ESA on science missions in space.
Australia also has strong links with Europe on Earth observation.
Copernicus Australasia, a partnership of Australian governments and New Zealand’s Xerra Earth Observation Institute, works closely with the ESA to promote access to data from the European Commission Copernicus program’s Sentinel Earth observation satellites. This is managed by Geoscience Australia.
ASA head Dr Megan Clark said this new agreement would open more doors for Australian innovators and grow a connected and globally competitive space industry in Australia.
“We are delighted to start working with the European Space Agency to open up opportunities for our industry and researchers to participate in joint missions,” she said.
“We can offer world-leading expertise in remote operations that can be applied in space.”
The statement of intent sets the groundwork for more formal co-operation through a framework agreement, subject to ESA Council endorsement later in the year.
Australian involvement with Europe on space dates back to the 1960s when the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) launched a large number of rockets from Woomera.
In 1975, ELDO merged with the European Space Research Organisation to form the ESA. Australia, an associate member of ELDO, declined an invitation to join ESA. (Source: Space Connect)
23 Aug 19. Chinese comms satellite faces challenges after launch. China’s booming satellite launch sector has notched up a success and a failure in the space of a week. Launch start-up China Rocket Company launched its first rocket last weekend, successfully placing three civil satellites into orbit.
But on Tuesday, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua acknowledged that the Zhongxing-18 civilian broadcasting and communications satellite, launched the previous day, had apparently reached geostationary orbit successfully but had experienced anomalies that space engineers were investigating.
Just what is the problem hasn’t been disclosed.
Zhongxing-18 blasted off on an enhanced Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in south-west China on Monday morning but the official confirmation of success, usually delivered around an hour after launch, did not appear.
That prompted online speculation of a problem, which the Xinhua announcement confirmed.
“The satellite separated with the carrier rocket as normal, but is now working abnormally,” said the brief Xinhua report.
Speculation grew among Chinese space watchers and enthusiasts online as the hours passed with no official statement on the mission.
Early Tuesday, Xinhua reported that the satellite separated from the rocket stage as normal, but ChinaSat 18 “has experienced abnormalities, and space engineers are investigating the cause”.
Zhongxing-18 was to be operated by China Satcom, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation that specialises in satellite communications and broadcasting services.
Chinese media reported another unfortunate outcome of the launch, with spent rocket stages falling to Earth downrange of Xichang and killing two hapless cows.
That highlights another problem for China’s space business. Space website SpaceNews notes that three of China’s four national launch sites date from the Cold War when strategic considerations led them to be established far inland.
But now there are more rockets and more people, with spent rocket components falling near downrange towns and villages, sometimes damaging property. China is looking at re-using key rocket sections, which would minimise risk to those on the ground.
On a more successful note, China Rocket Coalition’s new solid propellant Jielong-1 (Smart Dragon) rocket placed a remote sensing and navigation satellite and two smaller experimental satellites into orbit.
The launch was conducted at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in inner Mongolia, China’s first spaceport.
However, showing the military links of much of China’s space program, the rocket took off from a white painted transporter erector launcher (TEL), a large multi-wheeled vehicle more commonly used to transport and launch ballistic and theatre missiles. (Source: Space Connect)
23 Aug 19. Successful lift-off for eighth Electron mission. Rocket Lab is one step closer to successfully introducing reusable launch vehicles after the lift-off of the ‘Look Ma, No Hands’ mission, which included a range of payloads and technology demonstrators.
The successful launch saw the first satellite in a new maritime surveillance constellation for UNSEENLABS. The launch also saw satellites deployed for rideshare provider Spaceflight, including the BlackSky Global-4 satellite and two US Air Force technology demonstrators.
At approximately 54 minutes after lift-off, all payloads were successfully deployed by Electron’s Kick Stage to a 540 x 540-kilometre orbit at a 45-degree inclination. The mission was Rocket Lab’s eighth launch overall and the company’s fourth launch for 2019, taking the total number of satellites deployed by the company to 39. The launch also continues Rocket Lab’s record of 100 per cent mission success for customers.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck welcomed the news of the successful launch, saying, “Thank you to our dedicated team for another flawless launch, and to our mission partners for entrusting Rocket Lab with the continued expansion of their constellations. Every mission is a privilege, but it was an especially proud moment for our team to launch another BlackSky Global satellite for Spaceflight just weeks after putting the last one in orbit.”
The launch vehicle also carried critical instrumentation to inform development efforts for Rocket Lab’s recently announced plans to recover and re-use Electron’s first stage.
“This mission was also another exciting step towards our plans to recover and reuse Electron’s first stage in future missions. The team is eagerly analysing the data as we work towards reusability,” Beck added.
Rocket Lab’s next mission is yet to be announced but is scheduled for lift-off from Launch Complex 1 in the coming weeks. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Aug 19. Hughes and VNC team to offer extended mobile communications. Hughes Network Systems and Virtual Network Communications (VNC) have launched a new offering that will extend mobile network connectivity, using an integrated combination of VNC’s deployable long-term evolution technology with Hughes’ Jupiter and HM satellite systems.
This new combination will be offered to support various applications, including for government, militaries, first responders, and commercial mobile network operators.
‘We’re excited to work with Hughes to help expand high speed 4G services cost-effectively in under-served parts of the world, as well as providing the tactical edge for military and first responders,’ Mohan Tammisetti, CEO of VNC, said.
‘VNC developed this innovative, edge-centric approach to positively impact lives and keep critical missions connected. Additionally, a new 5G solution is on our development roadmap and we look forward to integrating it with the Hughes Jupiter platform.’
For government and military customers, this is designed to provide wireless coverage for soldiers or first responders, while integrating the new Hughes HeloCell system with VNC’s LTE technology and the Hughes HeloSat system can provide beyond line of sight communications on rotary-wing aircraft.
The Hughes and VNC technologies combine to form an ‘airborne cell tower’ when installed aboard a helicopter or an unmanned aerial vehicle, which provides an extended cellular coverage radius of tens of kilometres, with the satellite terminal backhauling the mobile traffic to and from the network core.
This system can also scale to support more than 100 simultaneous active users on a single, layered system architecture.
‘Adaptable for rotary-wing aircraft and UAVs, the HeloCell solution is ideal for extending mobile connectivity in a disaster area or warzone,’ Wayne Marhefka, senior director of business development for the Hughes Defense division, said.
‘Together with VNC, Hughes can extend connectivity to soldiers and first response teams who need wireless communications to carry out their missions, especially in remote and disconnected environments. Integrating with our innovative HM and Jupiter systems technology, these new cellular capabilities will help the DoD build a layered and unified communications network architecture for faster and more-informed decision-making.’ (Source: Shephard)
22 Aug 19. Raytheon’s ground system supports second GPS III launch. GPS OCX will maneuver satellite into final orbit over 10 days. The U.S. Air Force used Raytheon Company’s (NYSE: RTN) GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX, to support the launch of its second GPS III satellite into space. The ground system will now spend 10 days maneuvering the satellite into its final orbit, demonstrating GPS OCX’s ability to simultaneously support multiple GPS III spacecraft on-orbit throughout the checkout and calibration process.
“GPS OCX performed extremely well during the first launch and has exceeded performance requirements in the months since,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “The team was well-prepared for this launch, and we’re confident the system’s performance will continue to be positive.”
GPS OCX, the enhanced ground control segment of America’s GPS system, has achieved the highest level of cybersecurity protections of any Department of Defense space system. Its open architecture design allows it to integrate advanced protections as they become available, and the system’s industry-leading cyber protections are why it will be used to support all future GPS III launches and GPS constellation operations upon operational acceptance.
Earlier this year, the team completed final qualification testing of the system’s modernized monitor station receivers, which can receive and decrypt all GPS III military and civil signals. Global installation of the receivers starts next month and keeps the program on track for full system delivery by the program’s June 2021 contractual deadline.
In addition to GPS OCX’s role, RGNext, a joint venture between Raytheon and General Dynamics Information Technology, provided operational launch support to ensure the safe launch of the United Launch Alliance’s Delta-IV rocket that was carrying the GPS III satellite. RGNext operates the launch range on behalf of the U.S. Air Force, providing maintenance, range safety, weather monitoring, communication and surveillance support for all launches conducted by defense, civil and commercial companies at the range.
22 Aug 19. Link Microtek produces complex microwave feed assembly for mobile satcom antenna system. Link Microtek, the manufacturer of microwave and RF subsystems and components, has designed and fabricated a complex microwave feed assembly for use in a customer’s Ku-band mobile satellite-communications antenna system. Widely used around the world by news crews, first responders, government agencies and military units, such mobile antenna systems provide a durable and quickly deployable solution for anyone requiring reliable satellite communications facilities in remote locations. The Link Microtek assembly incorporates a feed arm, transmit and receive filters, a rotary joint and an orthomode transducer (OMT). In addition to satisfying the tight space constraints imposed by the compact nature of the antenna system, the feed assembly had to achieve strict performance criteria regarding low transmission losses and cross polarisation, as well as high isolation between transmit and receive channels.
Steve Cranstone, Link Microtek’s managing director, takes up the story: “The integrated feed assembly plays a crucial role as it interfaces with the system’s transmit amplifier, conical feed horn and receive LNB,” he said. “It was certainly no easy task to bring together the various elements of the assembly and ensure that as a whole it delivered the requisite performance and reliability.”
The feed arm is formed of WR75 waveguide to handle the Ku-band frequency ranges of 13.75 to 14.5GHz for transmit and 12 to 13GHz for receive. This is linked via a length of semi-rigid waveguide to a transmit filter, which bends round to interface to the rotary joint – the purpose of which is to accommodate one of the degrees of movement as the foldaway satcom system unfurls once in situ. The simple external appearance of the rotary joint masks the complexity of its internal design, which consists of over 40 separate precision-engineered parts, including connectors, pins, cages, spring mounts and bearings. On the other side of the rotary joint is the OMT. The function of this device is to separate the transmit and receive signals, and in conjunction with the receive filter the OMT achieves an impressive isolation figure of over 100dB.
Steve Cranstone again: “While this was an extremely complicated and challenging project, our experienced engineering team was able not only to design and build the individual elements but also to integrate them successfully to meet all the stringent specifications demanded by such satcom applications.”
21 Aug 19. A new, more secure GPS signal could be ready by 2020. A fix that will allow military ground systems to receive a highly secure, military signal from GPS III satellites is on track for early 2020, according to Lockheed Martin executives. The news comes on the eve of the Air Force launching the second GPS III satellite into space. Liftoff is scheduled for the morning of Aug. 22 following a delay.
The GPS III satellites are capable of transmitting a unique, highly secure M-code signal for military use. However, the next-generation ground system that is being built to utilize M-code is behind schedule. According to a Government Accountability Office report, Raytheon’s next-generation operational control system (OCX), a $6.2bn program, is already five years behind schedule. While the GAO warned that more delays are likely, Raytheon has strongly rejected that claim.
Still, with one GPS III satellite on orbit and another scheduled for launch soon, the Air Force wants the current ground system to be able to use M-code, at least in a limited fashion. The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a contract in 2016 for contingency operations to update the current ground system, allowing access to some of the GPS III satellites’ more advanced capabilities.
“The latest upgrade of contingency ops has been officially delivered to the Air Force and is undergoing preparations for installation later this year,” said Jonathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin Space’s vice president for navigational systems.
He added that M-code Early Use, a limited version of M-code, will be available in 2020.
“I can say that we’re making excellent progress on the M-Code Early Use upgrade. We’re through software development and into our final testing on the code, and looking forward to getting it through qualification testing and delivered to the Air Force early next year,” said Caldwell.
The first GPS III satellite was officially handed over to the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing in May. The Air Force expects the GPS III satellites to slowly replace the current generation of space vehicles and provide more advanced capabilities than the legacy system.
“(It’s) a new generation GPS satellite, more powerful than those previous launched, offering improved accuracy, enhanced anti-jamming and a more robust design that will extend the spacecraft’s life,” said Col. Thomas Ste. Marie, vice commander of the 45th Space Wing in a media teleconference Aug, 20. “It’ll serve U.S. and allied war fighters across the globe while also serving countless civil and commercial applications.”
Lt. Col. Maggie Sullivan, the Air Force’s GPS III program manager added that the GPS III satellite signals are three times more accurate and eight times stronger than the legacy system. They will also be compatible with other navigation satellite systems, such as the European Union’s Galileo. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Aug 19. Submissions open for Sydney international space conference. Sydney will host the 43rd Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Scientific Assembly, with the call for submissions released this week. COSPAR 2020 will combine the latest in space research findings with activities designed to enrich the global space research community, the Australian Space Agency said.
That includes helping equip future leaders, workshopping with space industry and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.
The event will be held at Sydney’s International Convention Centre from 15-22 August 2020. In a message to international delegates, COSPAR organising committee head Professor Russell Boyce said Australia had the fastest growing space sector in the world and the space research community was vibrant and rapidly expanding into disruptive opportunities.
Professor Boyce and Professor Iver Cairns, chair of the COSPAR 2020 Scientific Program, said the new Australian Space Agency was prioritising the growth of research-enabled space industry and space-inspired education and STEM.
“We continue to pursue space science excellence in areas such as space and solar physics, space situational awareness, planetary science, astrobiology and more,” they said on the COSPAR website.
COSPAR was founded by the International Council for Science in 1958 and holds conferences every two years, most recently in Pasadena, California. The 2022 event will be held in Athens.
The theme of the 2020 Sydney Assembly is Connecting Space Research for Global Impact.
“This is particularly relevant to Australia,” the COSPAR Sydney website says.
“The assembly represents the next significant aiming point for Australia to showcase our space sector growth, with particular emphasis on research and innovation to support industry and world-class space science, in the context of what by then will be a young but rapidly maturing Australian Space Agency.
“Australian space activities will be showcased to the world of space research. This will lead to strengthening existing and growing new ties between Australia and international partners, resulting in collaborations and partnerships that will assist both the innovation and industry parts of the sector.”
The organisers note that COSPAR 2020 falls during Australian National Science Week in Australia, when the nation celebrates science through hundreds of events across the country.
“With the world of space research coming to Australia at that moment, the opportunity to stimulate the public and inspire the next generation of science and technology talent through exposure to space is enormous,” they said. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Aug 19. The U.S. Air Force’s second next-generation GPS III satellite, built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), is responding to commands, under control and now using its own internal propulsion system to get to orbit following its successful launch this morning.
At about 11:01 a.m. ET, Air Force and Lockheed Martin engineers at Lockheed Martin’s Launch & Checkout Facility near Denver declared they had full control of GPS III Space Vehicle 02 (GPS III SV02) shortly after the satellite’s separation from its United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket booster. The satellite, nicknamed “Magellan” by the Air Force, began its rocket ride to space with a 9:06 a.m. ET launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
GPS III SV02 is now climbing towards its operational orbit about 12,550 miles above the earth under the power of its own Liquid Apogee engines. Engineers at Lockheed Martin Space’s Waterton, Colorado facility are commanding the satellite using elements of the GPS Next Generation Operational Control System
(OCX) Block 0.
“GPS III SV02 is receiving and responding to commands just as planned. In the days ahead, we’ll finish orbit raising to our operational slot and then send the satellite commands telling it to to deploy its solar arrays and antennas,”
said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin Space’s Vice President for Navigation Systems. “Once we are set up, we’ll begin on-orbit checkout and tests, including extensive signals testing with our advanced navigation payload.”
GPS III SV02 is the second GPS III satellite designed and built by Lockheed Martin to help the Air Force modernize today’s Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation with new technology and capabilities. GPS III satellites provide 3x greater accuracy and up to 8x improved anti-jamming capabilities. GPS III also provides a new L1C civil signal, compatible with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Europe’s Galileo.
The First GPS III Satellite Completes On Orbit Testing GPS III SV02 will be the second GPS III satellite in orbit and the second GPS III satellite now being commanded from Lockheed Martin Space’s facility.
On December 23, 2018, the Air Force launched the first GPS III satellite.
Nicknamed “Vespucci,” GPS III SV01 underwent months of checkout and thorough testing of its advanced, new navigation payload provided by Harris Corporation.
“GPS III SV01’s performance exceeded expectations during testing,” Caldwell said. “On July 12, we officially completed all On Orbit Check Out & Test activities. We are excited to see this satellite move to the next phase and perform in an operational environment.”
That’s expected to happen later this year once the first satellite is handed over to the Air Force.
Thinking Ahead From the Ground Up
In preparation for this handover, in 2016, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin the GPS III Contingency Operations (COps) contract to upgrade its current GPS ground control system – the Operational Control Segment (OCS) – to be able to “fly” today’s 31-satellite constellation, as well as the new, more-powerful GPS III satellites, until OCX Block 1, still in development, is delivered.
Lockheed Martin delivered the GPS III COps software upgrade in May and it is currently undergoing preparations for installation.
COps is the latest GPS ground control upgrade project Lockheed Martin has had since it began sustaining the OCS in 2013. In November 2018, the company completed the AEP 7.5 upgrade — the largest architectural change in the system’s history — replacing significant code, hardware and software to improve the system’s cybersecurity capabilities and positioning the Air Force to better operate in contested, degraded and operationally limited environments.
In December 2018, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin the GPS Control Segment Sustainment II (GCS II) contract to continue to further modernize and sustain the OCS through 2025.
In 2020, the OCS is expected to receive the M-Code Early Use (MCEU) upgrade, which will allow control of M-Code, an advanced, new signal designed to improve anti-jamming and anti-spoofing, as well as to increase secure access to military GPS signals for U.S. and allied armed forces.
With GPS III SV01 and SV02 now on orbit, GPS III satellites continue to roll off the production line at Lockheed Martin’s advanced $128m GPS III Processing Facility near Denver. On May 27, the Air Force declared the GPS III
SV03 “Available for Launch” (AFL) and had the company place it into storage waiting for a launch date. GPS III SV04-08 are now in various stages of assembly and test.
In all, Lockheed Martin is under contract to build up to 32 next-generation GPS III/IIIF satellites for the Air Force. Additional “IIIF” capabilities will begin being added at the 11th satellite. These will include a fully digital navigation payload, a Regional Military Protection capability, an accuracy-enhancing laser retroreflector array, and a Search & Rescue payload.
Lockheed Martin is proud to be a part of the Air Force’s GPS III team. The GPS III team is led by the Production Corps, Mid-Earth Orbit Division, at the U.S.
Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.
22 Aug 19. Northrop Grumman flies final GEM 60 series rocket motors. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) provided the rocket boosters for today’s successful launch and deployment of the U.S. Air Force’s second Global Positioning System III-series satellite (GPS III SV02) on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium-Plus (M+) configuration rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. This launch marks the final flight for Northrop Grumman’s Graphite Epoxy Motors 60 (GEM 60) series rocket motors.
“Northrop Grumman’s long and successful rocket heritage plays an important role in maintaining assured access to space for national security,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “As we retire the 100 percent successful GEM 60, we look forward to flying evolved GEM motors on the Atlas V and future vehicles.”
For ULA’s Delta IV M+ configuration rocket, Northrop Grumman provided two 60-inch-diameter GEM 60 motors. At 53 feet long, the boosters burned for 90 seconds and together provided more than 560,000 pounds of thrust.
Northrop Grumman first began developing the GEM 60 motors to increase the payload-to-orbit capability of the Delta IV M+ launch vehicle ahead of its 2002 inaugural launch. This flight marks the final flight of GEM 60 motors after 17 years of 100 percent success. In total, the company manufactured 86 GEM 60 motors to be flown on 26 Delta IV launches.
From the GEM 60 motor, Northrop Grumman developed the 63-inch Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) and GEM 63XL variations under a cooperative development program with ULA. Up to five GEM 63 strap-on boosters can support a single Atlas V launch vehicle. The first GEM 63 boosters will fly in 2020. The GEM 63XL motor, currently in development, will support ULA’s Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.
Northrop Grumman also produced several components and structures that flew on today’s mission that included: the interstage, centerbody, thermal shield, composite payload fairing, payload attach fitting and the payload attach fitting diaphragm.
22 Aug 19. Philippines joins global space race with new national space agency. President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has authorised the creation of the Philippine Space Agency, which follows the recent launches of the Turkish Space Agency in February and the Australian Space Agency in July last year.
The Philippine Space Agency will co-ordinate all of the government’s space related activities and policy, now spread across multiple agencies.
The objectives include national security, hazard management and climate-change mitigation, along with research and development in satellite and other technologies, growing the country’s private space industry and international collaborations.
The Philippine Space Agency will start out with a budget of ₱1bn ($28.2m) from the Office of the President.
Continuing funding will come from the national budget and the Space Development Fund, established under the same legislation as the space agency. That will provide funding in annual instalments of ₱2bn over the next five years. The Philippines doesn’t immediately come to mind as a space nation but it has been involved in space activities since the 1960s when the administration of former president Ferdinand Marcos built a satellite ground station. Since then, the country has developed an active space sector, operating a number of satellites. Last year the first Philippine nano-satellite was launched from the International Space Station. Those involved in the Philippine space sector have welcomed the creation of a guiding agency.
“Back in 2013, it was still a dream for most of us in the field of space science, but we are very happy to see it finally come into fruition,” Rogel Mari Sese, president of Philippine space consultancy Regulus SpaceTech, said on the website Nature. Sese said the new agency would conduct research in space technology and support academic institutions doing research. (Source: Space Connect)
21 Aug 19. Who will control intel satellites during a battle in space For years, experts have warned that the jurisdictional firewalls between the intelligence community and the Pentagon over space assets were holding the United States back from harnessing its full capabilities on orbit. Now, a new detente has been reached between the two sides, but whether this marks a new status quo or just another layer of bureaucracy remains to be seen.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council Aug. 20, Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, announced that after “months” of analysis by the intel community and the Pentagon on how best to integrate with the new U.S. Space Command, a new group is being stood up to integrate the two sides.
“The intelligence community and Department of Defense have agreed to align U.S. Space Command and the [National Reconnaissance Office] into a new unified defense concept of operations at the National Space Defense Center,” Maguire said. “As part of U.S. Space Command, the National Space Defense Center is a joint DoD-intelligence community organization and will become the center of gravity for defending our vital interests in space.”
The National Space Defense Center was stood up several years ago as a rebranding of the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC. The office is based at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.
“For the first time there will be a unified structure that fully integrates intelligence community and department of defense space defense plans, authorities and capabilities to ensure seamless execution of space defense systems.”
Notably, Maguire said that should a conflict extend into space, the National Reconnaissance Office will “take direction form the commander of U.S. Space Command and execute defensive operations based on a jointly developed playbook and informed by a series of exercises and wargames.“
In the past, the NRO has stridently fought against any effort to fall under the Pentagon; the issue was particularly acute in the last year thanks to President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force, which some felt should include NRO.
Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation called the announcement a “big deal,” because putting all national security assets military and intelligence under a single command has always been a “big sticking point” for both the intel and military communities. But, he warned, “the devil’s always in the details.”
“They’ve been working for a few years now on trying to figure out what the response should be to a variety of different attacks. But then you have come up with a way to do the command and control across all those satellites, many of which have their own unique or custom ground systems,” he noted.
More mergers could come in the future. Some experts have advocated for designating a single entity to take charge of all military and space acquisitions, instead of the current fractured approach where the Air Force, NRO and Space Development Agency are all purchasing their own satellites. (Source: Defense News)
21 Aug 19. L3Harris Technologies Delivers Eighth GPS III Navigation Payload. Highlights:
- Highlights delivery momentum ahead of upcoming second GPS III satellite launch
- Continues production cadence of navigation payloads available for on-orbit testing
- Boosts GPS signal power, accuracy, flexibility and lifespan
As the U.S. Air Force prepares to launch its second next-generation GPS III satellite, L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) delivered its eighth navigation payload to GPS III satellite prime contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT). The first GPS III satellite launched in December 2018 and its navigation payload has performed beyond expectations on-orbit during pre-operational testing. In May, the Air Force declared the third GPS III satellite “Available for Launch,” pending a launch date. L3Harris payloads are also already fully integrated in the GPS III 4-6 space vehicles currently in production and testing at Lockheed Martin.
The GPS III navigation payload features a Mission Data Unit (MDU) with a unique 70-percent digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened processors and powerful transmitters – enabling signals three times more accurate than those on current GPS satellites. The payload also boosts signal power, which increases jamming resistance by eight times and helps extend the satellite’s lifespan. In 2017, L3Harris announced that it completed development of an even more-powerful, fully digital MDU for the Air Force’s GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program. The new GPS IIIF payload design will further enhance the satellite’s capabilities and performance. In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force selected Lockheed Martin for a fixed-price-type production contract for up to 22 GPS IIIF satellites. L3Harris is Lockheed Martin’s navigation signal partner for GPS IIIF satellites, and in January received a $243m award to provide the navigation signals for the first two GPS IIIF satellites, space vehicles 11 and 12. L3Harris’ expertise in creating and sending GPS signals extends back to the mid-1970s – providing navigation technology for every U.S. GPS satellite ever launched. While the Air Force originally developed GPS for warfighters, millions of people around the world and billions of dollars of commerce now depend on the accurate, reliable signal created and sent by L3Harris navigation technology. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
21 Aug 19. South Australia secures national tech, space and data innovation challenge. Adelaide will play host to a world-first technology innovation hackathon, which will see the space community and businesses across a variety of high-growth industries join forces to solve real-world problems using cutting-edge space technology and data.
The Gravity Challenge will coincide with Space Week 2019, being held in Adelaide from 30 September to 4 October, which also includes the 8th Space Forum and the 19th Australian Space Research Conference.
This is another major coup for South Australia’s burgeoning space scene.
Registrations are now open for the Gravity Challenge, driven by global giant Amazon, as well as Deloitte, which brings together entrepreneurs, universities, government and businesses to design and build solutions to real industrial, social and environmental problems, using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Deloitte space capabilities.
Premier Steven Marshall said securing the Gravity Challenge stems from recent discussions with Deloitte during a trip to Washington, DC.
“The fact that South Australia will play host to this world-first event is a testament to our vibrant space sector, and bolsters our position as a leader in the nation’s space endeavours,” said the Premier.
“The challenge will improve the way we exploit space technology and data to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of key sectors of our economy, including mining, defence, transport, logistics, health, telecommunications, tourism and agriculture.”
Deloitte’s Australian chief strategy and innovation officer, Rob Hillard, said many different industries have high value challenges that need addressing now.
“Industries like defence, mining, insurance and agriculture are facing increasingly difficult problems today. But a lot of companies don’t know that space data and solutions can be applied to almost any industry,” Hillard said.
He added, “So we’re encouraging businesses to put forward their most pressing issues, and let’s see if Australia’s best innovators can solve them, accelerating return on investment and creating new market offerings.”
Businesses and corporate organisations are being encouraged to sponsor problems, while entrepreneurs and researchers can now register their interest in taking part in the Gravity Challenge here https://www.gravitychallenge.space/home/industries. (Source: Space Connect)
21 Aug 19. UK invites Five Eyes partners to create new positioning system. Britain has reportedly invited Australia and others to join it in the creation of another satellite positioning system, since it has quit the European Union Galileo system due to Brexit.
UK newspaper The Telegraph reported that the UK Space Agency had held discussions with representatives of the “Five Eyes” security community – the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada – about the proposal.
Britain apparently has in mind the other partners providing funding or technological support in return for access to the new £5bn system’s most accurate military grade positioning signal.
The Australian Defence Force said officials had been briefed on a UK proposal to develop a sovereign global navigation satellite system.
“To understand the details of the proposal and develop a response, Defence is engaging Australian government agencies,” a spokesperson said.
“Any Australian involvement will be considered in-line with Australia’s national interests, other interests and the merits of the proposal.”
Australia currently uses the US Global Positioning System (GPS) for civil and military positioning. There are rival systems – the EU Galileo, China’s Beidou, Russia’s GLONASS, India’s IRNSS and Japan’s QZSS – each with its own satellite constellation and expanding area of coverage.
After sinking £1.2bn into the Galileo project, Britain gave up on the project in December. The UK’s problem was that only EU member states would be permitted access to the Public Regulated Service (PRS), the encrypted navigation service, much of which the UK developed.
The Galileo project began in 1999 with the objective of creating a 30 satellite constellation, reducing member nation reliance on US and other systems.
The first satellite was launched in 2012 with full rollout expected to be completed next year. The Telegraph said the UK Armed Forces were keen on Galileo on grounds that the US currently keeps back the best GPS service for its own military.
Military GPS is typically more accurate than civil systems but only because they can access more satellite signals. However, civil GPS augmentation systems, which Australia is embracing, provide a more accurate positioning than even military GPS.
In theory, the US and other position system operators can selectively degrade their signal. However, in 2000 the US undertook never to do that again because of the growing civil and commercial use of GPS.
For Australia, access to an additional satellite positioning system operated by a close ally could provide useful redundancy in event that GPS became unavailable in a conflict.
The Telegraph reported that UK officials believed the expertise gained from on Galileo meant they could build their own, with former prime minister Theresa May providing the Space Agency with funding to examine construction of a home grown positioning system.
It added that the government was set to decide in coming months whether to proceed. Support from Five Eyes partners could come in various forms, such as launch services and satellite firms contributing to the technology.
Australia already collaborates with the UK on its Skynet military satellite communications system, hosting a ground station in Mawson Lakes, South Australia.
“To actually deliver the program we need to have things on their territory,” said one source quoted by The Telegraph.
The Telegraph said it understood the UK was yet to start formal talks with potential partners as its own commitment to proceeding was so far unclear.
However, new British PM Boris Johnson is right behind the idea, saying Britain should proceed.
“Let’s get going now on our own position navigation and timing satellite and Earth observation systems – UK assets orbiting in space with all the long-term strategic and commercial benefits for this country,” he said in his first speech as PM. (Source: Space Connect)
21 Aug 19. Rocket Lab blasts off four satellites in latest launch from New Zealand. Rocket Lab has successfully launched four small satellites into orbit aboard an Electron rocket which blasted off from its New Zealand facility just after midnight local time.
That was the company’s fourth launch this year and the eighth so far. In line with the company’s practice of giving its launches oddball names, this one was called Look Ma No Hands.
That’s a reference to the launch procedure – the final step is to release the launchpad top clamp.
“Once Electron is free from the strongback’s grasp, it’s ‘look ma, no hands’ for Electron,” said Rocket Lab spokesman Max Munsey during the launch broadcast.
The last launch was called Make It Rain while the first launches were It’s a Test, which was followed by Still Testing and then It’s Business Time. This latest launch was postponed because of high winds at the launch site. Fifty-three minutes after launch, the rocket successfully deployed its onboard satellite payload into low-Earth orbit. That comprised three satellites from Seattle rideshare company Spaceflight, of which the largest was Global-4, the fourth high resolution imaging satellite for US company BlackSky. The company’s Global-3 was launched on the last Rocket Lab mission in late June. The other Spaceflight satellites were a pair of Pearl White 6U CubeSats for US Air Force Space Command. These were built by Tiger Innovations and will test new space technologies, including propulsion, power, communications and drag capabilities for potential applications on future spacecraft.
The fourth satellite was also a 6U CubeSat built by Danish company GomSpace and launched for French company UnseenLabs.
This constellation aims to deliver precise, reliable and secure maritime data, enabling organisations to monitor their own vessels and observe those that present risks, such as pirates and illegal vessels.
Rocket Lab’s next big challenge is to reuse its first stage. The company announced earlier this month it would seek to recover and reuse the previously expendable stage.
Rocket lab chief executive Peter Beck said at the time they just couldn’t build enough rockets to meet launch demand.
The Look Ma No Hands rocket carried a recorder in the rocket’s first stage to collect data during the first stage’s re-entry.
Beck said that data would provide critical information for future first stage recovery and would inform an upgrade of the Electron to allow the first stage to survive re-entry. That will begin with the 10th launch.
Eventually, the rocket first stage will be slowed by parachute and recovered in mid-air by helicopter.
Rocket Lab’s next launch is scheduled for October, carrying the Kleos Scouting Mission, four satellites to also monitor maritime radio frequencies. Kleos is based in Luxembourg and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and plans a constellation of 20 satellites. (Source: Space Connect)
20 Aug 19. When it comes to space, the Army is focused on the ground. Whether it’s satellite communication, position, navigation or timing data or targeting data, Army leaders knows space capabilities can make their job easier. But while the Air Force, Navy and intelligence community operate satellites in space, what is the Army’s role in the fourth domain?
“At the end of the day, probably the least most advantageous thing would be the Army trying to build its own satellite to be able to put in space,” Brig. Gen. Robert Collins, head of the Army’s program executive office of Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, said during an Aug. 16 media day. “We are looking to leverage what’s already out there.”
For Collins, the Army’s focus on space is using the tools developed and maintained by other agencies, such as the Air Force’s GPS for position, navigation and timing data, or looking to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to provide detailed mapping data. To do that, the Army wants a ground station capable of receiving data from all of the space assets held by other agencies.
“What we work on is the ground station, or the catcher’s mitt, to collect what’s in space,” Collins said.
“My ground station, I’ve almost looked at it like a LEGO, right?” Collins said. “I’ve got a base building block that my user interacts with, but it can be built on. Depending on commercial capability, I can tie into that. If [the National Reconnaissance Office] or NGA have things, I can tie into that.”
To take all that data and make it useful, Collins’ office is continuing development of Distributed Common Ground System–Army, a software platform that can layer intelligence data on maps to give war fighters a view of the battlefield or quickly pick out a safe and navigable route.
“As part of our multi-domain operations, I’ll tell you that if we want to target deep, we have to be able to see deep. In order to see deep, you have to do that at elevation, and what better place to do that than space?” he said. “There [are] a significant amount of layered sensors that are out there that we’d like to posture this to be able to collect from.”
Collins said such a ground station would ideally collect intelligence from manned and unmanned aircraft. By pulling in data from those sources, war fighters can create a holistic understanding of their environment that’s based on the most accurate, up-to-date intelligence.
He added that the Army is following commercial satellites as well, and he’s particularly interested in what capabilities microsats could bring to the battlefield. This could include commercially provided, space-based Wi-Fi. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
20 Aug 19. Australian Space Agency signs agreement with Speedcast International. The Australian Space Agency (ASA) and IT company Speedcast International have agreed to co-operate on key space technologies. Speedcast, described as the world’s largest provider of remote communications and IT services, said it was committed to developing the next generation of space innovators.
“This groundbreaking space initiative builds on our long history of providing connectivity services to emerging markets, and will advance global communications while driving economic growth opportunities in new regions,” said Speedcast chief executive Pierre-Jean Beylier.
ASA head Dr Megan Clark said, “We acknowledge the investment Speedcast is making in the Australian space sector, through the export of Australia’s satellite intellectual property and research and development to new areas.”
Through the statement of co-operation signed on Friday, Speedcast will support the Space Agency’s objective of tripling the size of Australia’s space sector and creating 20,000 new jobs by 2030.
Their statement of co-operation refers to the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 and identities key fields in which Australia will concentrate its development of the space sector.
That includes communications, position, navigation and timing, space situational awareness and debris monitoring, leapfrog research and development, Earth observation, robotics and automation on Earth and in space, and access to space.
Sydney-based Speedcast International said it is investing in the Australian space sector to accelerate satellite research and development into new areas for driving growth.
That includes satellite managed services in support of sovereign and international satellite operators, advanced internet of things (IoT) capabilities and space connectivity applications for key economic sectors, new products, software and services that leverage the company’s leadership position in maritime and mobility connectivity, and value-added services in collaboration with partners and suppliers. (Source: Space Connect)
20 Aug 19. Space Command to launch Aug. 29. The Pentagon will stand up a new combatant command before the end of the month, with the official launch of U.S. Space Command set for Aug. 29. Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday, Gen. Joe Dunford, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the date for the standup of the new organization, the first combatant command to be fully stood up since Africa Command was created in 2009.
Upon its standup, SPACECOM head Gen. Jay Raymond will inherit 87 units, covering “missile warning, satellite operations, space control and space support,” Dunford said. Raymond has previously said he expects to start with about 642 personnel pulled from U.S. Strategic Command. Army Lt. Gen. James Dickinson has been nominated to become the deputy commander.
Raymond has acknowledged that the standup of the new organization won’t be easy, telling members of Congress in written testimony from June that “my first priority will be to ensure the seamless transition of the command and control of critical space capabilities that the nation and the joint force depend on each and every day. Simultaneously we need to ensure we take steps to strengthen readiness and lethality as we complete our shift from a permissive environment to a posture for warfighting.”
The creation of the new combatant command is the first step towards the creation of a full-up Space Force, an idea that has been heavily pushed by President Donald Trump.
“This initiative is going to have a positive impact on our ability to grow the people and capabilities that we’re going to need in the future,” Dunford said of an eventual Space Force. “I’m confident the focus that a single service will bring to bear is going to have a profound difference.”
“The direction is clear. We understand it. And we’re moving out.” (Source: Defense News)
20 Aug 19. Kleos to work with world-leading cloud analytics specialists. Kleos Space, a space-powered radio frequency reconnaissance data provider, has announced its collaboration with Spire Global, one of the world’s largest space to cloud analytics companies. Kleos and Spire will collaborate to combine Spire AIS data with KLEOS RF data to create a new shared capability to bring safety at sea. The effort will support and augment tools for governments, maritime agencies and all organisations with strategic interest in detecting dark vessels. This collaboration represents the first time that an AIS provider and RF satellite provider have entered into an agreement where these datasets will be integrated. The collaboration opens up access to the respective customer bases for the company’s individual and combined products with Kleos being defence market focused and Spire commercial markets focused. By filtering with Spire’s accurate picture of legitimate maritime activity, the Kleos RF activity data rapidly delivers a view of dark maritime activity.
“Spire Maritime shares a desire to illuminate parts of the world just as Kleos does,” said John Lusk, general manager, Spire Maritime. “We continue to partner with the most innovative industry experts to create new access to highly relevant datasets for customers worldwide.”
Kleos’ CEO Andy Bowyer said, “The collaboration between Kleos and Spire will provide unprecedented detection of dark vessels. The safety at sea collaboration will provide an effective tool for governments, maritime agencies and other organisations with an interest in keeping our seas safe.”
Kleos’ independent data products provide defence, security and commercial users with access to a cost-effective daily geolocation intelligence. The Kleos Scouting Mission-1 satellites will provide daily geolocation observation, with Kleos’ planned full constellation providing near-real-time updates. Spire Global’s reputation for valuable data is due to its large constellation of fully owned and operated satellites that offer data and analytics for parts of the world where collecting data is notoriously difficult. (Source: Space Connect)
15 Aug 19. Small Businesses Sought for US Space Accelerator Program. The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate is reaching out to small businesses to explore space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies. The service is looking for companies that can fill technology gaps by working alongside the Catalyst Space Accelerator program, which is a public-private partnership. KiMar Gartman, director of the accelerator, said the research lab is interested in systems such as space-based sensors that can discriminate between different objects.
The organization offers a 12-week program that connects businesses with the military and subject matter experts in areas such as finance and law, she noted. This helps companies determine if their technologies would be able to meet the needs of potential customers, she noted. The program will culminate in a demonstration day for vendors to show their products to investors, such as the other military services.
“It just helps them to get an idea of whether or not their technology is relevant to the problem statement — those commercially and in the DoD,” she said. “We try to bring in the Army, the Navy [and] other Air Force units that would have interest in the technology.”
The goal is to have eight companies participate in the upcoming accelerator, which is scheduled for September, Gartman said. The next demonstration day is slated for November. The events are held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which is “one of the hubs of space,” Gartman said.
“We’re able to bring in all of these potential customers from the [military] bases and … [other] entities that are located right in the Colorado Springs area,” she said.
Connections made through the program could potentially result in federal grants, contracts or other transaction authority agreements, she noted.
“These companies can start applying for those [small business innovation research grants] and there seems to be more interest because they’ve gone through an accelerator,” she said.
Past event topics have included positioning, navigation and timing, and resilient commercial space communication, she noted. For the upcoming accelerator, the program will exclude ground-based technologies.
“We figured if we included ground-based, we’re going to get a lot of the same companies that we had in the last two,” she said. “[We] felt it would just be too broad of a swipe.
They were wanting to narrow it down a little bit.”
Candidates for the program are recruited through sources such as social media, websites and conferences, she noted. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
19 Aug 19. US Army Plans Ka Band for Gray Eagle. The U.S. Army plans to add Ka-band satellite communications capability for its fleet of General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs, the military service said on Aug. 13th..
General Atomics is to award a contract for the Ka-band integration in the first quarter of Fiscal 2020, a timeline that means that the contract award could come by the end of this year.
Todd Smith, the U.S. Army deputy project manager for PEO Aviation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office in Huntsville, Ala., said that initial operational capability for Ka-band enabled Gray Eagles will be in 2022. The full fleet is to scheduled to have Ka-band capability by 2027.
The military has 10 wide-band global satcom (WGS) satellites for the provision of real-time data and video to and from deployed forces and commanders, often in long-range and long-endurance operations.
A number of companies produce Ka-band terminals for aircraft, including Viasat, L3 Harris, Hughes, Honeywell, and Thales.
The Gray Eagle “switch to Ka band datalink allows the fielded units to utilize the WGS system with its high bandwidth capability, and its greater security, reliability and availability than currently used satellite communications systems,” said an Army official.
“The overwhelming majority of Ku-band satellites restrict an aircraft’s operational area to a single satellite beam, or footprint,” the official said. “Ka-band enabled Gray Eagle aircraft operating on WGS extend their range by transiting across WGS’s multiple Ka-band spot beams.”
Satellite service providers have, at times, argued over the relative merits of Ku-band and Ka-band satellites for military users. Intelsat General Corp., for example, has said that Ku-band is the “incumbent frequency for most deployed UAVs,” including the General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator and Gray Eagle and the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk. The company said that such UAVs “can realize substantial increases in throughput on Ku-band” high-throughput satellites (HTS) and that “replacing existing Ku-band antenna with Ka” on one airborne intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform can cost more than $1m.
In addition, Intelsat General has said that DoD buying bandwidth on Ka-band satellites, such as WGS and the Inmarsat I-5 constellation, can result in “purchasing many times the bandwidth required for the mission.”
“There is no such requirement for Ku-band HTS on the Intelsat Epic platform,” according to Intelsat General. “Military users are free to purchase only as much bandwidth as needed, making Ku-band HTS more economical to purchase.”
Last September, Chris Hudson, a senior technical advisor with Intelsat General, wrote that while a WGS-approved terminal provides access to some 500 leasable transponder equivalents (TPEs) of 36 MHz worldwide, “it pales next to Ku-band, which has a global supply of over 7000 leasable TPEs.”
“Ku-band provides the desired compatibility with an unrivalled depth and breadth of bandwidth options,” he wrote. “There are terminals with swap-out kits for C-, X-, Ku- and military Ka-band. Using a kit, an installer can swap a few terminal parts, even while in the field, and convert a terminal from Ku- to Ka-band operations, but this does not qualify as ‘seamless switching.’”
But the Army official said that TPEs “are just one of the many important metrics of satcom capacity.”
“Other important factors include security, coverage area, availability, and cost,” the official said. “A Ka-band enabled Gray Eagle operates in the commercial Ku-band spectrum as well as the military Ka-band spectrum. Having access to both frequency bands provides the platform with a variety of choices.” (Source: UAS VISION/Avionics International)
17 Aug 19. China state agency successfully launches rocket for commercial use – CCTV. Smart Dragon-1 rocket, China’s first rocket designed for commercial use, carrying three satellites lifts off from the launch pad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, China August 17, 2019. A Chinese government space agency successfully launched on Saturday its first rocket meant for commercial use, state television CCTV reported, as firms in the country compete to join a commercial satellite boom. Smart Dragon-1 rocket, which weighs 23 tonnes and was developed by a unit of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), successfully delivered three satellites into orbit after a launch in Jiuquan, Gansu, CCTV said. (Source: Reuters)
16 Aug 19. BAE Systems Australia partners with NSW government to support Western Sydney space hub. BAE Systems Australia has committed to deliver a cutting-edge aerospace, space and innovation research and development facility as part of a university and advanced manufacturing precinct being delivered at the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian was at BAE Systems headquarters in London to sign a memorandum of understanding with the company, which will ensure NSW leads the nation in developing tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
BAE Systems has a long track record of supporting the Australian Defence Force to maintain a capability edge, and the Western Sydney Aerotropolis will be the home of Australia’s future aerospace industry.
Western Sydney Airport will be a game changer for the region. Strategic planning for the greenfield land around the airport will unlock opportunities to deliver new jobs and homes supported by key infrastructure in the heart of Western Sydney, bringing us another step closer to realising a 30-minute city.
The Aerotropolis will make a significant contribution to 200,000 new jobs for Western Sydney by establishing a new high-skill jobs hub across aerospace and defence, manufacturing, healthcare, freight and logistics, agribusiness, education and research industries.
Premier Berejiklian said, “The Aerotropolis we are building around the Western Sydney Airport is a great opportunity for firms around the world to invest in NSW. BAE Systems Australia’s interest in NSW as a destination for this research facility is a huge vote of confidence in our economy and our plans for the new airport city.”
“This partnership will allow us to create the high-tech jobs we need to keep NSW as the number one jobs market in the nation,” the Premier added.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said the MOU will allow the company to explore the advantages of becoming a part of the innovation precinct at the new airport city.
“Australia has a long history of innovation in the defence industry, and the Aerotropolis in Western Sydney presents a great opportunity to build on that history,” Ms Costigan explained.
The announcement forms part of the NSW government’s commitment to creating 200,000 jobs in and around the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.
The Aerotropolis will be adjacent to the new 24-hour international (Nancy-Bird Walton) airport at Badgerys Creek. The new R&D facility will be located within a university being developed through a partnership between the University of Newcastle, University of NSW and University of Wollongong (the NUW Alliance), Western Sydney University and the NSW government. (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)
15 Aug 19. Gateway Antenna Supports More Efficiently Multiple Moving LEO Satellites. This company’s innovative solution will change the real estate of the world of antennas. No more large antenna farms with parabolic dishes with ThinKom Solutions new gateway concept.
ThinKom Solutions reveals its new innovative solution for efficient and effective land-based gateways designed to accommodate current and next generation low-Earth-orbit (LEO) and medium-Earth-orbit (MEO) satellite constellations.
The new gateway concept, which ThinKom describes as an “array of arrays,” will provide a superior alternative to the large “antenna farms” of parabolic dishes currently used for support of geostationary (GEO) satellites. It is based on ThinKom’s proven phased-array antenna technology, which is currently in use on over 1,300 commercial aircraft installations worldwide, in 10M+ hours of proven high-reliability operation.
Bill Milroy, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of ThinKom Solutions said that the proliferation of cubesats, nanosats, microsats and other miniaturized satellites will require a new way of thinking when it comes to gateway antenna technology. The answer is not to deploy more and larger dish farms. Instead, they’re proposing an entirely new paradigm that’s designed for the future yet employs currently available proven phased array technology.
Current-generation gateways employ large parabolic dishes that are necessarily limited to one link per dish. Further, they are unable to repoint quickly to a different satellite, given their complex drive mechanisms. These legacy systems are large, heavy, expensive to install and maintain, and can take months to deploy. Additionally, they are adversely affected by wind, snow, and ice loading and typically require a substantial concrete foundation or reinforcement of roof structure to support the weight and uplift forces of several thousand kilograms resulting from even moderate wind conditions. These multi-dish gateway sites must allow for sufficient separation in order to avoid dish-to-dish blockages, often requiring a relatively large swath of real estate.
ThinKom’s approach uses multiple, tightly arranged, phased-array antennas, which are coherently (and reconfigurably) combined. The antenna units work together to track multiple LEO, MEO and GEO satellites simultaneously with look angles between 5 and 90 degrees in elevation and full 360-degree coverage in azimuth. The software-defined system is reconfigurable in that a single array is capable of supporting multiple links, modifying the number of beams and radiation properties dynamically to meet the link budget and throughput demands of the ever-changing number of satellites in view. It does all this without the high-power consumption of electronically scanned arrays, which is a critical feature in areas that rely on solar power or are otherwise energy-constrained due to geographic location.
The array, to be initially deployed in S- and X-band operation (with higher frequencies brought on line as the market demands), is constructed in a fixed convex shape in order to provide maximum low-elevation coverage and minimize signal blockage while promoting the shedding of rain and snow. The visual signature of an array is less than two meters tall serving to eliminate the effects of high wind conditions and the footprint for a typical array (equivalent to eight 2.4-meter dishes or three 4.5-meter dishes or any mixed combination) occupies less than seven square meters, uniquely enabling flexible deployment in areas with limited real estate, such as rooftop locations.
Milroy continued that this radical new gateway concept is inherently flexible and scalable with far lower installation and maintenance costs. The low power and built-in redundancy provide greater reliability without routine maintenance, and individual units are hot-swappable in order to minimize or even eliminate downtime.”
He added that most importantly, they’re not out to reinvent the wheel. This solution uses their patented, proven phased-array antenna technology that is in service today, minimizing R&D and time-to-market. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.