Sponsored By Viasat
28 Aug 19. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced it has successfully upgraded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) control stations to comply with the new Integrated Waveform (IW) baseline. Using Viasat’s Visual Integrated Satellite communications Information, Operation and Networking (VISION) software platform, NATO gains greater communications interoperability, scalability and flexibility across legacy and next-generation platforms, which it expects will significantly enhance warfighters’ situational awareness and operational insights on the battlespace.
Viasat’s VISION platform is the first commercially-available software package to simultaneously support all 25-kHz legacy Demand-Assigned Multiple-Access (DAMA) and next-generation IW networks and services. The VISION platform has enabled the following benefits for NATO:
- Faster communications: VISION reduced time to access software from 90 seconds to 4 seconds;
- Better reliability: VISION offered greater reliability when compared to previous waveforms;
- Improved functionality: VISION doubled NATO’s channel efficiency; and
- Enhanced bandwidth: VISION gave network operators real-time capabilities to reconfigure UHF satellite networks to meet new mission profiles on-the-fly.
“Viasat’s close partnership with NATO has been instrumental in helping the agency transition to new IW standards ahead of government schedules,” said Giovanni Battista Durando, NATO Communications and Information Agency, Network Services and IT Infrastructure, SATCOM Service Area Owner. “By leveraging the Viasat VISION software, NATO network operators have gained more control over communications stations from a single terminal, simplifying operations and increasing the readiness of today’s warfighter.”
“This NATO upgrade was fielded on time and under budget—further demonstrating the value of Viasat’s agile business models and deep customer knowledge,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “By working closely to understand NATO’s most urgent needs, Viasat was able to deliver a cost-effective, scalable and interoperable technology capability needed to support emerging mission demands and help NATO warfighters maintain communications at the tactical edge.”
The Viasat VISION platform provides a single, user-friendly network management interface for legacy DAMA and IW services, inclusive of the ability to locally or remotely manage and control ground station networks, monitor status and system performance, track event/alarm management situations and add/remove services when missions change. By enabling interoperability between DAMA and IW platforms, NATO can double its channel efficiency without additional investment in the UHF space segment. This optimization doubles the number of users, giving more warfighters access to reliable, high-quality, resilient voice and data communications.
30 Aug 19. USAF X-37B space plane sets new record for mission length. The US Air Force’s mysterious X-37B plane has set a modest new record, staying in space longer than any previous X-37B mission. As of Friday that was 721 days, which is getting close to two years in orbit. The previous longest mission, called Orbital Test Vehicle 4 (OTV-4), was for 717 days starting in May 2015. The current OTV-5 mission started in September 2017 when the craft was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Not much is known about X-37B and even less about what it does up there.
The US Air Force provides a broad overview of X-37B missions – testing reusable spacecrafts and conducting secret experiments on guidance, navigation, and thermal protection systems as well as experimental flight and propulsion technology.
But the details of those experiments remain secret.
“The X-37B is the first vehicle since NASA’s Shuttle Orbiter with the ability to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis, but with an on-orbit time of 270 days or greater, the X-37B can stay in space for much longer,” the USAF fact sheet says.
The Boeing X-37B is a small unmanned winged spacecraft resembling a miniature space shuttle, intended for secret military missions for the USAF and US Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency (DARPA).
We definitely know it’s out there doing stuff as last month a Dutch satellite spotter named Ralf Vandebergh managed to spot and photograph the X-37B in orbit 300 kilometres above the Earth.
Vandebergh wasn’t using an iPhone or even a quality digital camera to obtain his images. He was actually using a 10-inch F/4,8 aperture Newtonian telescope with an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera. Tracking was fully manual through a 6×30 finderscope, he explained.
While, there are a number of images of X-37B on the ground on the internet, capturing it in space was quite an achievement.
OTV started out as a NASA project in 1999, with Boeing selected to perform development of what was called X-37A at its Phantom Works.
This subsequently transferred to the US Department of Defense, with the USAF subsequently developing its own version called X-37B.
One X-37A was made and two X-37Bs, with length of nine metres, wingspan of 4.5 metres and maximum take-off weight of just under five tonnes.
The first mission started in April 2010.
So far there have been just four completed missions. Mission OTV-1 ran for 224 days, OTV-2 for 468 days,OTV-3 for 674 days and OTV-4 for 717. OTV-5 is still up there.
The first four launches were aboard Atlas V rockets from Cape Canaveral while the fifth was on a Falcon 9.
The next launch is scheduled for December, which suggests OTV-5 will end its record-breaking mission some time soon.
There’s been plenty of speculation aboard what X-37B does out there, including keeping an eye on China’s Tiangong-1 space station module and testing new types of drive and sensor systems. (Source: Space Connect)
29 Aug 19. Department of Defense Establishes U.S. Space Command. At the direction of the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper established U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) today as the eleventh Unified Combatant Command. Gen. John W. Raymond is its Senate confirmed commander.
“To ensure the protection of America’s interests in space we must apply the necessary focus, energy, and resources to the task – and that is exactly what Space Command will do,” said Secretary Esper. “Gen. Raymond is acutely aware of the vital role that space plays in U.S. national security and our way of life and is an ideal choice to lead this new command. Establishing the United States Space Command as a unified combatant command is the next critical step towards the creation of an independent Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”
“Assured access to space is vital across the full range of military operations,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. “This step puts us on a path to maintain a competitive advantage in this critical war fighting domain.”
From establishment, Gen. Raymond will remain dual-hatted as Commander, U.S. Space Command, and Commander, Air Force Space Command. (Source: US DoD)
29 Aug 19. US to activate Space Command, paving the way for Space Force. The US will today stand-up the United States Space Command, which will unify command and control of the US space-based assets. This marks an important step in the creation of a US Space Force.
The current head of the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) General John Raymond will be in charge of the new United States Space Command (USSPACECOM), running both organisations simultaneously.
Speaking at a press event yesterday the US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, said: “I’m also excited for tomorrow’s activation of the United States Space Command. To ensure the protection of America’s interests in space, we must apply the necessary focus, energy and resources to the task, and that is exactly what Space Command will do.
“As a unified combatant command, the United States Space Command is the next crucial step towards the creation of an independent Space Force as an additional armed service.”
The creation of a unified space command, the US’ 11th combatant command, was prompted after calls for a US Space Force or Space Corps that would form the sixth branch of the US military.
The Department of Defence (DoD) has yet to confirm whether USSPACECOM will incorporate the entirety of the US Air Force space command, but the transfer of units and missions is set to begin in 2021.
International Institute of Strategic Studies senior fellow for military aerospace Douglas Barrie told Air Force Technology how the Space Command and Space Force will work: “The ‘Space Force’, the proposed creation of which was contentious, appears to be intended to better focus current capabilities emerging requirements in an increasingly contested domain. It will be under the auspices of the USAF, and will be run by Space Command.”
The US has also yet to confirm where the USSPACECOM will be based. It is expected to be operated out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado which already houses many of the USAF’s space operations.
The new Space Command will operate missile warning systems, satellites, space control and space support for the DoD. It is the first new command since the creation of the Cyber Command in 2009.
US Vice President Mike Pence announced the standing-up of the Space Command at a meeting of the US National Space Council last week.
The US previously had a Space Command, established in 1985 to control the space operations of the army, navy and air force. It was disbanded in 2002 after a revaluation of command and control structures following 9/11.
Last year President Donald Trump signed a directive instructing the DoD to formally form a Space Force that would see the US taking a more active role in space as a warfighting domain.
Barrie said: “In terms of assets it [the Space Force] will bring together the current on-orbit systems while also likely developing additional defensive, and likely offensive, capabilities and further exploring the utility of small satellite constellations as means of rapidly reconstituting space-based ISR, for example.
The creation of the US Space Command and eventual Space Force – if formed – is in part a response to the increasing activities of Russia and China in the space domain. In July, for instance, Chatham House released a report detailing Russian efforts to buzz NATO satellites.
Barrie added: “Russia has been making efforts to rebuild its military space architecture, while also developing air-and ground-based hard and soft-kill systems for satellite defeat. China is also building up its military space capability and is similarly pursuing anti-satellite capabilities.”
While the US DoD can restructure its unified combatant commands as it sees fit, the creation of the Space Force would require consent from the US Congress for authorisation and funding. Pence signalled that the necessary legislation would be put to Congress in due course.
Speaking about the Space Force, Pence said: “The United States Space Force will ensure that our nation is prepared to defend our people, defend our interests, and to defend our values in the vast expanse of space and here on Earth with the technologies that will support our common defence for the vast reaches of outer space”.
The US current annual defence budget passed with the inclusion of funding for a military space branch. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
28 Aug 19. NGA Re-Ups Maxar Imagery Contract. NGA’s Global EDG program is a good example of how the 2017 bifurcation of authority over commercial remote sensing acquisition between the NGA and the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO) — a transition that remains somewhat troubled –is supposed to work. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has re-upped it contract with Maxar Industries for access to the company’s web-based platform that allows NGA to disseminate its high-resolution imagery to government customers.
The new deal extending the Global Enhanced GEOINT Delivery (Global EGD) program kicks off Sept. 1 under a $44m one-year option, and includes options for three more annual tranches at the same price, according to an Aug. 27 Maxar press release.
“Since 2011, the Global EGD program has allowed warfighters, first responders, intelligence analysts and civil government users to tap into Maxar’s 100-petabyte historical imagery library and daily imagery collections for time sensitive, mission-critical planning and operations,” the press release said.
Canadian-based Maxar is a newish corporate entity formed from the merger of commercial remote sensing behemoth Digital Globe, data analytics firm Radiant Solutions and manufacturer SSL under MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. It finalized its US operational status earlier this year.
The Global EGD system is a “web portal and delivery platform” that allows NGA’s customers — i.e., US government officials in need of remote sensing imagery — to rapidly and easily find both current and historical imagery in Maxar’s vast library, a company official told me today. That remote sensing data and imagery is gathered by Maxar’s satellite constellations and licensed by the US government for its use, the official said.
“The Global EGD program has proven to be an essential capability for NGA and a broad array of U.S. Government users,” said Dan Jablonsky, Maxar CEO, in the corporate release. “With this contract, Maxar extends its decades-long standing as a trusted partner to the U.S. Government. We are proud to continue providing American troops, intelligence analysts and first responders with the information and insight to make decisions with confidence.”
The timeline of Leonardo DRS’s 50 years of innovation is peppered with notable technologies and capabilities that have given militaries around the world a warfighting edge. Here’s a look.
NGA’s Global EDG program is a good example of how the 2017 bifurcation of authority over commercial remote sensing acquisition between the NGA and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) — a transition that remains somewhat troubled –is supposed to work.
Maxar’s web platform is a type of ‘value added service’ that falls under NGA’s remit. The Global EDG program, however, does not involve the sale by Maxar of the images being accessed via that platform to NGA. Instead, NRO now is the acquisition authority for licensing the images from Maxar’s WorldView and GeoEye satellites.
NRO took over the legacy EnhancedView program from NGA in August 2018, under which the agency had been buying imagery from Digital Globe. The company had been the sole provider of commercial remote sensing imagery to the US government for decades. In September 2018, NRO issued a contract for the EnhancedView Follow-On program to DigitalGlobe. Rather than a firm long-term buy, however, that was a $300m, one-year contract for NRO to access data from Maxar’s WorldView and GeoEye satellites, with an option for another year’s worth of imagery for a total of $600m in potential work. Maxar in November 2018 won a contract extension that added a potential $300m to the deal (bringing the potential total up to $900m), via options for NRO to access data from its new WorldView Legion constellation (set to begin launching in 2021) through 2023.
However, NRO’s Director for GEOINT (geospatial intelligence) Troy Meink told reporters at the 2019 Space Symposium in June that the spy satellite office had signed “study contracts” with BlackSky Global and Planet, two commercial Earth observation start-ups, as potential EnhancedView Follow-On vendors. Maxar was also was awarded a study contract, designed to allow NRO to evaluated some of its new capabilities being ramped up for its commercial customers.
NRO is expected to make a decision by June 2020 about whether to continue the EnhancedView Follow-On program with only Maxar, choose one of the two newcomers, or buy imagery from all three. Given the almost insatiable USG desire for remote sensing data and imagery, smart bets are on the latter solution. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
26 Aug 19. DoD acquisitions chief: Pentagon unlikely to change Air Force launch procurement strategy. The Air Force launch service procurement competition in recent months has come under legal and political challenges. But the Pentagon currently has no plans to make any changes to the program, said Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“There are no changes imminent,” Lord said on Monday at a Pentagon news conference. But Lord did not completely rule out future revisions to the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement.
“We will see how things go and adjust if necessary,” Lord said.
Even though no contracts have yet been awarded, companies competing in the NSSL Phase 2 competition already have taken the Air Force to court. And there is legislative language proposed by the House Armed Services Committee to change the rules set by the Air Force for the program and create more opportunities for new commercial launch companies to compete.
Four companies submitted proposals for the Phase 2 procurement — United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin. SpaceX and Blue Origin both have pursued legal action against the Air Force, arguing that it has failed to create a level playing field for them and other companies to be able to challenge heavily favored ULA.
Although the NSSL program is run by the Air Force, is it one of a handful of major defense procurements that receives additional oversight from the Pentagon. Lord said she has listened to the concerns of the industry and has discussed them with the Air Force.
“I talk to the Air Force all the time,” Lord said. “Launch services is something that is of particular interest to us.”
Lord insisted that so far the NSSL program will stay on its current course. “I think we have been very transparent and very consistent with what the process has been for launch services, and we plan to continue with that.” (Source: glstrade.com/Space News)
27 Aug 19. Astroscale US Targets DoD Sat Servicing Market. “DoD is a customer like any other, with a future need for servicing its own satellites to extend mission life,” says Astroscale US President Ron Lopez. Japanese start-up Astroscale thinks its space junk technology can be used by the Pentagon for on-orbit satellite servicing, to build a foundation for its ultimate goal of building a space debris removal business, says Ron Lopez, president and managing director of the company’s new US unit.
“Debris removal is the immediate focus for the company, but there is a lot of [technology] applicability to adjacent areas of the market that end up leading to capabilities that the military needs,” Lopez explained in an interview. “DoD is a customer like any other, with a future need for servicing its own satellites to extend mission life.”
For example, Astroscale’s sensor and guidance technology that allows it to precisely rendezvous with a piece of debris could also be used by the Air Force to do the same with an active satellite, he said, to inspect it or to make repairs. Likewise, the firm’s docking technology is applicable to many types of servicing missions, such as re-fueling, that are of interest to DoD.
Astroscale US thus is seeking American partners to help it break into the military space marketplace — starting small with component and tech demos. “We are still in early stage of discussions, and trying to understand what the requirements are,” Lopez said. “We’ve been busy building partnerships with a lot of small- and mid-sized companies,” he added, to bring together “a very innovative set of technologies and capabilities” that can bring “value-added to the commercial marketplace and DoD as well.”
Astroscale launched its US subsidiary in April, opening an office near Denver and is slowly building a staff (currently number four full time employees.) The US subsidiary expands the company from the Japanese headquarters, and branches in Singapore and the United Kingdom. It recently garnered another $30m to its Series D funding that brings the total amount of capital raised in the round to $132m, according to the corporate website.
The company, founded by Japanese tycoon Nobu Okada in 2013, is fully aware that it is cannot make a business case for orbital debris removal today. There simply isn’t a country or a customer ready to pay to fully develop the technology required at the moment; nor is it clear that even if the technology is there customers would be incentivized to pay someone to take out their trash if there is no legal requirement to do so. Indeed, there may even be legal obstacles since the 1967 Outer Space Treaty deems debris the property of the launching state, meaning that a garbage collector would need permission of the owner to do so.
The timeline of Leonardo DRS’s 50 years of innovation is peppered with notable technologies and capabilities that have given militaries around the world a warfighting edge. Here’s a look.
Therefore, on-orbiting servicing is a nearer-term mission that will allow the company to continue to thrive and grow. “On-orbit servicing can enable space debris removal,” Lopez summed up. “We are working with customers who have an interest in adjacent missions; those interests help us develop our core technology.”
The Air Force actively has been exploring on-orbit servicing technologies through a series of small business and tech demo projects. For example, in July, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) updated its request for information (RFI) designed to help the service get a grip on the available industrial base for autonomous Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) and “InspectorSat capabilities,” as well as the limits of current commercial technologies. Responses were due Aug. 9.
Further, the space industry is lobbying hard for the Commerce Department to issue new US government rules to ease development of on-orbit servicing technologies and spur the market via more coherent licensing obligations. Licensing for satellites that can perform proximity operations — that is, can safely maneuver around another satellite or a piece of debris, dock with that object, and perform some function such as re-fueling — currently falls between agency cracks. Meanwhile, the CONFERS consortium, led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working to develop industry-created best practices for such tricky space operations.
Despite the hurdles for a non-US company to get its subsidiary fully credentialed to compete for DoD contracts, Lopez says being a wholly-owned Japanese company is a help, not a hindrance, because of the high level placed on cooperation in space by Tokyo and Washington. While bilateral and multilateral collaboration is often equated with simply “trying to fulfill political objectives,” Lopez stressed that it also helps the countries involved to reduce schedule and cost risks. “When we have real and evolving threats, the need is urgent and we have an environment where our tax dollars are constrained,” he said, “what that translates into is that collaboration is a way to reduce risks.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
27 Aug 19. After two years, the US Air Force is rethinking this space contract. The US Air Force is interested in new management for an organization aimed at accelerating contract awards for space-related prototypes and launched less than two years ago.
According to a request for information posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website Aug. 20, the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center is looking to re-compete the Space Enterprise Consortium Other Transaction Agreement which was awarded in 2017.
The Space Enterprise Consortium is a new organization focused on space-related prototypes, such as a space vehicle capable of expanding the Link 16 network to Beyond Line of Sight communications, that can award contracts faster than the traditional Department of Defense acquisition process. Prototypes can range from space vehicles to payloads to ground control systems to launch capabilities to software. The program is meant to open up opportunities for small businesses and nontraditional vendors to work with the government on space-related projects and to address the Air Force’s desire to move faster on acquisition. The Space Enterprise Consortium lists 52 awarded projects on its website, ranging from military GPS user equipment to a missile defense tracking system concept design. In 2017, the SMC established the Space Enterprise Consortium by awarding the Advanced Technology Institute, based in North Charleston, S.C., a $100m contract to act as the consortium manager. That contract was set to run out in November 2022.Now SMC is looking for responses from industry on how they would handle acquisitions and management of a space prototyping consortium as they seek to recompete the consortium management contract.
A major focus in the new competition is cybersecurity. According to the request, the Air Force wants the consortium manager to be aware of government cybersecurity requirements and promote cybersecurity best practices among consortium members.
In addition, the Air Force wants the next consortium manager to increase engagement with nontraditional venders, facilitate a smooth transition for existing member and improve the timeline from solicitation to award.
The Air Force is considering a $12bn ceiling for the award over a 10 year period. Responses are due September 6.(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Aug 19. The Pentagon wants to solve a deep space problem with three vehicles. The Pentagon wants to know what its adversaries are up to in the area immediately beyond geosynchronous orbit, and the Space Development Agency has a plan to deliver.
Currently, that blueprint involves three rapid, semi-autonomous Advanced Maneuvering Vehicles operating in cislunar space, the area between geosynchronous orbit and the moon’s orbit.
The SDA was launched in March to develop a proliferated architecture to address several Department of Defense needs in space, from detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons to providing alternative position, navigation and timing data. One part of the agency’s notional architecture is a so-called deterrence layer focused on activities in cislunar space.
That layer is meant to discourage bad behavior in deep space by other nations, said Jerry Krassner at the agency’s industry day July 23. Krassner heads up the SDA’s deterrence layer project. It does this by providing two types of information: Who owns the objects in space, and what those objects are up to. By providing that information, the deterrence layer will allow the military to respond in a way that it hopes will makes those missions too costly for adversaries to continue.
The SDA’s notional architecture proposes a four part deterrence layer. The first part, located in low earth orbit, would be made up of outward facing space situational awareness sensors capable of providing data on deep space objects located immediately beyond geosynchronous orbit. The second part would be two satellites operating in highly elliptical orbits providing other angles for detecting objects in deep space. The third part would include sensors operating in lunar orbit, and the fourth and final part would have them operating three Advanced Maneuvering Vehicles.
The AMVs appear to be a deep space counterpart to the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites. Operating in near-geosynchronous orbit, the GSSAP satellites are capable of rendezvousing with space vehicles in geosynchronous orbit to provide more data on them. While information on the proposed AMVs is limited, SDA leaders explained how they see the vehicles operating.
“The notional AMVs fit with the deterrence layer of the National Defense Space Architecture in that by flying to rendezvous with a suspect object returning from deep space (e.g. the region of the moon), the U.S. could communicate to a threatening nation that we know the location of their vehicle and, if we consider it an object of concern, the information provided from the AMV could support diplomatic demarches or similar responses that could deter the ultimate use of a weapon by the enemy,” an SDA official told C4ISRNET.
The agency is considering “equipping them with a camera or similar payload to demonstrate to the operator that ‘we know where it came from.’”
Furthermore, the agency insists the vehicles are not offensive weapons. An agency official said there was no plan to arm the vehicles or have them come into physical contact with any satellites while in operation.
The proposed vehicles would likely operate semi-autonomously in terms of execution with a man-in-the-loop for decision making and monitoring.
The SDA proposed three vehicles at their industry day July 23, but in a follow up email the agency clarified that the concept is still being defined and that officials weren’t wed to a specific number or size of the vehicles. Responses to the notional architecture, including thoughts on the AMVs, were due Aug. 5. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 Aug 19. Australia and coalition partners attend USAF Space Flag exercise. Australia has joined Canada and the UK at a US Air Force Space Command Space Flag exercise to test current capabilities to deter, deny and disrupt adversarial actions in the space domain. Attending for Australia was RAAF Flight Lieutenant Gene Elliott, Chief of Training for the USAF 460th Operations Support Squadron.
“Being able to participate in the first ever coalition Space Flag was a privilege,” he said.
“It was a great opportunity to bring our perspectives and talents to the fight given Australia’s relative infancy in the warfighting domain of space.”
“Space Flag is a great opportunity to build up the space cadre unlike we’ve done before with our Allies,” RAAF Air Commodore Robert Denney, Director General for Air Operations at Australian Defence Force Joint Operations Command.
USAF Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson said space military leaders from each participating nation met with Space Flag personnel to learn more about the exercise and its critical role for training warfighters in the space domain.
“The threat in space is real, and we must train like we fight – alongside our international partners – to maintain space superiority and deter conflict in the space domain,” he said.
Space Flag 19-3 brought new challenges and new opportunities to learn from coalition partners, chosen based on their current positions through existing agreements with the USAF 21st Space Wing, 460th Space Wing and Combined Space Operations Center.
“The coalition forces brought a different perspective that forced everyone to think outside our typical way of doing things as we integrated intelligence in space packages throughout mission planning,” said Technical Sergeant Sean Johnson, NCO in charge, 20th Space Control Squadron Intelligence Operations.
“As we brainstormed response methods, no idea was discounted, which speaks to the professionalism of each player.”
RAF Group Captain Steve Blockley, Director of National Air Defence and Space Operations, said Space Flag was a fantastic opportunity for the UK to participate and expand its role in future exercises.
“Just as we do for operators in the air, land and sea domains, this is a chance for our space operators to work alongside allies and create partnerships that will last throughout their entire careers,” he said.
Royal Canadian Air Force Brigadier General Kevin Whale, Director-General and Component Commander for Space, said Canada had a long history of collaborating with the US in space under NORAD and, more recently, the expanding and multinational Combined Space Operations initiative.
“Our integrated participation in Space Flag this year is a welcomed evolution of our collaboration that directly contributes to our shared interests in space,” he said.
More joint space activities are ahead.
This year’s Schriever Wargame, scheduled for September and conducted at the US Air Force Space Warfare Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, will include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US, as long-standing wargame partners.
France, Germany and Japan became partners in last year’s wargame and will participate in planning cycles this year before full integration in Schriever Wargame 2020. The Schriever Wargame is an annual event that focuses 10 years into the future to identify future force planning and systems integration requirements. (Source: Space Connect)
27 Aug 19. Increased Cyber Security for SARah. SARah is a project to renew the satellite-based radar reconnaissance of the German Armed Forces. From 2020 /2021, three satellites in a sun-synchronous orbit and two ground stations will deliver high-resolution radar images for ground reconnaissance. The space segment comprises two OHB satellites based on reflector technology (further development of SAR Lupe) as well as a satellite with phased array technology from subcontractor Airbus Defence and Space. Compared to the successful predecessor system SAR Lupe, the resolution, image size, computing and storage capacity have been increased. The second ground station increases the possible transmission times. In July 2013, OHB System AG was commissioned by the German Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Utilization of the Armed Forces to develop and manufacture the system. Measures to improve the cyber security of the system have now been set in a supplementary agreement in order to counter the current threats in the area of IT security and satellite communications. In the contract, the already optionally agreed operating phase was also adapted to the new requirements. SARah’s operating life is set at ten years.
www.ohb (Source: ESD Spotlight)
27 Aug 19. USAF Space Command conducts first Space Flag coalition exercise. The US Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has conducted Space Flag’s first coalition exercise at Aerospace Corporation’s facility.
Space Flag 19-3 brought together coalition partners from Australia, the UK, Canada, and the US for the Space Flag mission planning exercise held between 12 and 16 August. Space Flag focuses on mission planning at a tactical level in the space domain. The exercise is designed to allow space operators to complete missions in a contested environment.
As part of the exercise, around 160 members participated in Air Force Space Command’s ‘Fight Tonight’ exercise. Fight Tonight allows participants to simulate operations using current capabilities to ‘deter, deny and disrupt’ the actions of adversaries in space.
USAF Vice Chief of Staff general Stephen Wilson said: “The threat in space is real and we must train like we fight, alongside our international partners, to maintain space superiority and deter conflict in the space domain.”
The exercise allowed personnel to exchange thoughts with and learn from coalition partners. USAF 20th Space Control Squadron Intelligence Operations noncommissioned officer in charge technical sergeant Sean Johnson said: “The coalition forces brought a different perspective that forced everyone to think outside our typical way of doing things as we integrated intelligence in space packages throughout mission planning.”
AFSPC Operations and Communications director US Air Force brigadier general DeAnna Burt unveiled plans to integrate allied partners in future Space Flag exercises.
In April, AFSPC completed the sixth Space Flag 19-2 mission planning exercise. Space Flag, which started in 2017, is intended to enhance the capabilities of troops in the space domain. The exercise is designed on the lines of US Air Force Red Flag air combat training exercises. Many countries are looking to achieve and maintain a strong presence in the space domain, including the US, China and Russia. France joined the list last month with the announcement of a space command. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
24 Aug 19. New, modernized GPS ground system said to be on track. After years of delays, a new, modernized ground system for GPS satellites is on schedule for a June 2021 delivery, Raytheon leaders said.
The Next Generation Operational Control System, known as OCX, is expected to improve accuracy, process(?) the highly secure military code version of the GPS signal, increase cybersecurity and increase the number of satellites the system can control from around 30 to over 60.
Just hours after the second GPS III satellite launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Aug. 22, Bill Sullivan, Raytheon’s vice president of the GPS OCX explained the program’s state of play.
“It’s going very, very well and obviously we’re very excited about what happened today — that we had a successful launch and it’s good to get the satellites up into orbit,” said Sullivan.
The first block of the system, known as the launch and checkout system, was delivered to the Air Force in September 2017 and was used to control the second GPS III satellite during launch. Simultaneously, the system was still controlling the first GPS III satellite, which launched in December. According to Sullivan, LCS will control both satellites until they have gone through their testing period and the Air Force is ready to transfer them onto the legacy ground control system, which controls the rest of the GPS constellation.
“The launch and checkout system is a subset of the final system,” said Sullivan. “It’s fully cybersecure, and its responsibility is to support the launch and early orbit checkout of new GPS III satellites.”
So far, LCS is exceeding requirements, Sullivan said.
But OCX has a rocky past. The $6.2bn program is five years behind schedule and cost $2.5bn more than expected, according to a Government Accountability Office report. In 2016, the massive cost growth of the program triggered a Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach, which requires a program to be shut down unless the Department of Defense intervenes and approves a new cost estimate.
But as the ground system has been delayed, the next generation of GPS satellites has started to launch. In order to harness some of the GPS III satellite capabilities between the satellites’ launch and the availability of OCX, the Air Force has contracted with Lockheed Martin to upgrade the legacy ground system.
The program was rebaselined in 2017, and since then Sullivan said the project has held its cost and schedule. He added that the second and final block of OCX, which contains the complete system, is set for delivery in June 2021.
“We’ve actually completed development activities. All our software coding is done and all the elements of the system have been built and are in various stages of qualification,” Sullivan said. “What we’re currently doing is taking those elements of the system and integrating them together to be the complete system. And that integration is underway right now and runs into 2020.”
Following that, the project enters the formal test and sell off period, which runs into 2021.
Later this fall, Raytheon will begin deploying hardware, setting up monitoring stations in 17 locations worldwide.
“Progress is really good. We’re very pleased with where we are in the program and look forward to the next couple years and delivering the system to our Air Force customer,” said Sullivan. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Aug 19. EM Solutions secures Thales satcom supply deal. Brisbane-based EM Solutions has been awarded a $6.5m contract from Thales to supply satellite radio systems in support of a major connectivity program. EM Solutions’ ability to make timely modifications to their commercial off-the-shelf products to suit Thales’ specific customer requirements was a key factor in determining the contract award. In 2016, a framework agreement was signed between the two companies to streamline ordering, and in 2018, EM Solutions’ work was again recognised when it took out Thales Australia’s Supplier of the Year Award for Export Achievement.
Thales and EM Solutions have been collaborating through the work of the Thales global supply chain team. Anne Munro, who heads Thales’ GSC team, said, “Thales has built trust with EM Solutions over an extended period and it is as a result of good communications and its proven track record that Thales has the confidence in EM Solutions to deliver.”
For EM Solutions, the success in winning export business through the global supply chain program has meant an expansion of its test and assembly capacity.
Dr Rowan Gilmore, CEO, EM Solutions, said, “Because of this business, EM Solutions has expanded its capacity, purchased additional equipment and hired new staff to meet delivery requirements. We are delighted to extend our near-decade long track record in working with Thales globally.”
Similar products to those supplied are also in use in several of EM Solutions’ own on-the-move satellite terminals for a range of land and maritime applications, including the Cobra X/Ka tri-band Maritime Satellite Terminal, which is now operational on a number of different classes of Navy vessels both in Australia and internationally. (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Aug 19. US Army seeking new anti-jamming GPS antenna system. The US Army’s aviation directorate is seeking industry solutions to develop a new anti-jamming GPS antenna for its fleet of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The new antenna must be capable of operating at a 55,000 ft altitude and be able to link up with the service’s existing arsenal of GPS receivers and Fixed Radiation Pattern Antennas (FRPAs), according to a 26 August request for information (RFI) posted by the Product Manager Assured Airspace Access Systems (PdM A3S) division of the US Army’s Program Executive Office-Aviation. Industry proposals are due to programme officials by 23 September, the RFI said.
Prospective industry proposals must be capable of countering “at least 4 or more jammers within each of the 24 MHz bandwidths centered on L1 and L2 [broadcast frequencies] under static conditions,” while “simultaneously canceling signals from spatially distributed sources of interference” within the L1 and L2 bands, the solicitation stated. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
26 Aug 19. Space industry calls on Johnson to act on his words. Trade body wants government to commit £150m a year to innovation fund. The UK space industry is calling on the government to commit £150m a year to an innovation fund as part of a national programme that would recognise the sector’s importance. Graham Peters, chair of UKspace, the trade body that represents satellite operators and manufacturers such as Airbus, Inmarsat and US defence group Lockheed Martin, said a national space innovation fund was urgently needed to help commercialise research. “We need Boris Johnson to put his money where his mouth is,” said Mr Peters, referring to the UK prime minister’s first speech in July, where he said Britain should “get going now on our own position navigation and timing satellite and earth observation systems”. At a time when other governments were backing their own industries, the UK should follow suit and recognise its “importance to the digital economy and the military”. added Mr Peters. Last month, France became the latest country to announce a military strategy for space. A new US Space Command ordered by President Donald Trump at the end of last year is due to launch this week. The UK space sector has attracted significant amounts of private capital in recent years but has been relatively short-changed on public funds, according to industry executives. Calls for a “sector deal” — a formal partnership between the government and industry — have so far fallen on deaf ears despite a tough national target of cornering 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030 — in 2016/17 the figure was 5.1 per cent — in a sector dominated by the US, Russia and China. Mr Peters said the industry could play a big role in the government’s environmental agenda, noting that evidence collected by satellites has helped inform how climate change has affected the environment. The government’s UK Space Agency said it was “clear that the UK should build its national capabilities in space to bring long-term strategic and commercial benefits for this country”. Brexit also brings challenges for the industry, including that several British companies have been excluded from further involvement in the €10bn European Galileo satellite navigation programme. The UK has said it will pursue building its own secure global satellite navigation system and committed £92m to a feasibility study but significant investment will be needed to make it a reality. Questions remain over Britain’s continued involvement in Copernicus, another EU earth observation programme. “Whether or not Brexit was to happen and in what form, we need a national space programme,” said Mr Peters. Will Whitehorn, former president of Virgin Galactic who is due to become president of UKspace in the autumn, said there was scope for a much more “dynamic relationship” with government. One area where Britain could play a leading role, he added, was in the “space launch industry”. (Source: FT.com)
26 Aug 19. UN guidelines for long-term sustainability of outer space adopted. During its 62nd session, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) adopted a preamble and 21 guidelines for the long-term sustainability of space activities.
These provide guidance on policy and regulatory framework for space activities; safety of space operations; international co-operation, capacity-building and awareness; and scientific and technical research and development.
This is the result of more than eight years of work by a working group of the committee and efforts by experts from its 92 member states, with support provided by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
The committee encourages states and international intergovernmental organisations to voluntarily take measures to ensure that the guidelines are implemented to the greatest extent feasible and practicable. It also noted that the committee should serve as the principal forum for continued dialogue on issues related to the implementation and review of the guidelines.
Also at this session, the committee decided to establish a new working group to continue work on the long-term sustainability of space activities.
Peter Martinez, the chair of the working group on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, which concluded its mandate last year, commented, “This is a historic moment for the committee. It represents a significant step forward for ensuring the long-term sustainability of space activities, so that present and future generations from all countries can continue to enjoy the benefits of the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.”
The chair of the 62nd session of the committee, Andre Rypl, said, “We started this session talking about how we at COPUOS make the impossible possible. We have done just that. The guidelines on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and, more importantly, the decision to move forward and advance the concept of sustainability in space, is probably the most significant achievement of COPUOS in a decade”.
Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA, commented, “The office looks forward to continuing its efforts to assist states in capacity-building in space science, technology, law and policy. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities forms a key part of this work.”
The draft report of COPUOS is available http://www.unoosa.org/res/oosadoc/data/documents/2019/aac_105l/aac_105l_318add_6_0_html/AC105_L318Add06E.pdf (Source: Space Connect)
26 Aug 19. Nova IGS Network to deliver space ground connectivity to regional SA. Nova IGS Network will provide space ground connectivity for small satellite operators from regional South Australia, after the launch of a ground station network in Peterborough.
The ground station brings a new and sought-after capability to Peterborough and South Australia, offering a highly capable ground station service and R&D test bed for organisations needing to test concepts and ideas in the real environment, according to general manager of communication, information and space at Nova IGS Network, Nick Pengelly.
“With South Australia fast-becoming known as Australia’s space hub following the establishment of the Australian Space Agency headquarters at Lot Fourteen, and with the announcement of the SmartSat CRC, Peterborough was the ideal location for the founding node of our ground station network,” Pengelly said.
Defence SA has thrown its support behind the initiative designed to have the capacity to support the SA government and ASA activity out of Lot Fourteen, as well as catering for the data download needs of the ever-increasing number of satellites and constellations.
Pengelly added, “We believe the IGS network will become a critical element of Australia’s space industry eco-system and we are delighted to be working closely with Peterborough Council CEO Peter McGuinness to have the opportunity to contribute to the generation of innovation and growth in the district.”
Nova IGS Network has recently completed construction works for initial customers on the site. The network has also commenced upgrading the fibre connection to the Peterborough site, which will achieve backhaul download capacity in excess of 10GBps.
Tailored to meet the needs of current and future low-Earth orbit (LEO) and medium-Earth orbit (MEO) small satellite missions, the Nova IGS Network currently offers ACMA approved spectrum licenses for the conduct of UHF, S-band and X-band operations. Nova IGS Network is an Australian owned company, boasting Australia’s pre-eminent SATCOM capability with a wealth of experience and knowledge. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Aug 19. ULA’s Delta IV Medium’s Successful Last Launch and Statement Regarding U.S.A.F.’s GPS III SV02. Today’s final sendoff of the Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) configuration vehicle successfully launched the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Global Positioning System III SV02 Magellan satellite. The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) rocket lifted off on time at 9:06 a.m. EDT (1306 UTC) carrying the GPS III SV02 navigation satellite for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“As we seek to modernize GPS, we bid farewell and thank you to a launch vehicle with an excellent track record in the Delta IV (4,2). We look forward to this final, successful launch for this ULA mainstay,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for Space. “The GPS program is a prime example of SMC 2.0 as we continue to modernize our fleet at EPIC Speed.”
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, (August 22, 2019) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the second Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite, designated Magellan, for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on August 22 at 9:06 a.m. EDT. This mission marked the 29th and final flight of the Delta IV Medium rocket and the 73rd GPS launch by a ULA or heritage vehicle.
“Thank you to the team and our mission partners for the tremendous teamwork as we processed and launched this critical asset, providing advanced capabilities for warfighters, civil users, and humankind across the globe,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We are proud of the strong legacy of the Delta IV Medium program, and look forward to the future with our purpose-built Vulcan Centaur.”
The GPS III system, built by Lockheed Martin, represents the next step in modernization of the worldwide navigation network with a new generation of advanced satellites offering improved accuracy, better anti-jam resiliency and a new signal for civil users.
This mission launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) configuration vehicle, which included a 4-meter Payload Fairing and two Northrop Grumman solid rocket motors. The common booster core for Delta IV was powered by the RS-68A engine, and the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage was powered by the RL10B-2 engine, both supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
ULA’s next launch is Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, Orbital Flight Test, aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. ULA maintains a track record of 100 percent mission success with 135 successful launches. 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: Satnews)
21 Aug 19. Astrome Gearing Up to Distribute Satellite Internet to Emerging Economies. Astrome is making headway toward the firm’s mission to radically transform satellite broadband internet services.
The company has designed a satellite constellation that will complement terrestrial fiber and support the expansion of 4G and upcoming 5G networks into remote and rural areas and will also meet the ever-increasing data demand from consumers and Content Distribution Networks, such as Netflix and Amazon.
Having developed and patented its millimeter wave wireless communication technology, Astrome is now gearing up to launch SpaceNet —- an LEO constellation of 198 ultra-High Throughput Satellites (ultra-HTS). The company is building its financial layer using blockchain technology.
Astrome’s French subsidiary has created the SPW token that tokenizes all of SpaceNet’s data services. The tokenization will allow the company to pre-sell its internet services. Users possessing the tokens can access the firm’s internet offerings in the service regions, or, enable other users to access the company’s internet services after the constellation is launched. Astrome’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is ongoing under the French jurisdiction and SPW tokens may be purchased at https://www.astrome.io. The ICO adheres to the guidelines set out in the new French PACTE law. Astrome also has additional incentives to users who wish to purchase bulk capacity.
SpaceNet, with its total network capacity of 24 Tbps, is uniquely positioned to meet the growing demand for high capacity networks. In addition to fueling the 5G revolution with quality satellite backhaul, SpaceNet will also provide affordable, shore-like services to mariners and tourists who are sailing on the high seas. This would be a remarkable improvement from current state-of-the-art maritime connectivity which is sparingly available and exorbitantly priced. SpaceNet will also provide Direct-To-Home (DTH) internet and users can access the service with a flat, box-shaped integrated antenna equipment mounted on the rooftop.
There are a number of competitors all launching a much higher number of satellites than Astrome’s 198 satellites. Astrome differentiates itself by its patented technology, which offers 10 times more data throughput per satellite and 8 times lower CAPEX cost. Their patented technology has already been proven on the ground and the company plans a space test for early next year.
SpaceNet services will be available in emerging economies in South Asia, South East Asia, Africa, Middle East, South America, Australia, and parts of North America. The coverage region will also include several major shipping and air routes.
Astrome started out in 2015 as a startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Since then, the company has developed an innovative mmWave communication technology for both terrestrial and space communication. ‘GigaMesh’, Astrome’s product for the telecom markets, enables operators to upgrade their existing networks without laying additional fibre and serve their customers better. The product launch is expected to be later this year. (Source: Satnews)
19 Aug 19. ISRO’s South Asia Satellite Ground Station in Bhutan is Inaugurated. Furthering his ‘Neighborhood First’ policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Thimphu Ground Station of the South Asia Satellite during his two-day trip to Bhutan, stating that through satellites, the benefits of telemedicine, distance education, resource mapping, weather forecast and warnings of natural disasters reach even remote areas.
Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) GSAT-9 communications satellite, popularly known as the South Asia Satellite, launched in 2017 was envisaged as India’s gift to its neighbors to increase regional cooperation by leveraging the country’s position as a space power.
The Deccan Herald reported that Modi was joined by Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering to inaugurate the ground station, which cost ISRO Rs 7 crore. Modi noted that this (ISRO’s ‘Ground Earth Station’) will increase coverage of communication, public broadcasting and disaster management in Bhutan.
The Indian prime minister expressed happiness that young Bhutanese scientists would now travel to India to work on designing and launching Bhutan’s own small satellite.
The Earth station has been built and set up by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies Ltd. (ALDT), The Hindu reported. The report added that the Thimphu station took nine months to complete and that another Earth station in the Maldives has also been executed. The Nepal station should be ready by December, with more to follow in Afghanistan and other countries. (View an informative video at this direct link…)
Various news reports suggest that while the station will help Bhutan take advantage of the South Asia Satellite, it will also serve as a strategic function to counter China’s advanced satellite tracking station in the Tibet autonomous region. (Source: Satnews)
19 Aug 19. New Space Technologies Being Sought by Amazon Web Services and Deloitte in the Gravity Challenge in Adelaide. Amazon and Deloitte will spearhead a search for new space technologies across a variety of industries at an inaugural hackathon event in South Australia next month.
The Gravity Challenge will bring together space thought leaders and businesses across eight industries to collaboratively solve real-world problems using cutting-edge space technology and data. To be held on September 30 in Adelaide, South Australia, participants will use Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Deloitte space capabilities to design and build solutions to real industrial, social and environmental problems. The challenge will also kick off Space Week, which runs in Adelaide until October 4 and includes the 8th Space Forum and the 19th Australian Space Research Conference.
Registrations are now open for the Gravity Challenge in the areas of Mining & Energy Resources; Defence, Security & Military; Agriculture and Meteorology; Banking & Insurance; Telecommunications & Connectivity; Health & Life Sciences; Transportation, Logistics & Smart Cities, and; Travel & Tourism.
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.
South Australia has been a significant player in the nation’s space industry and is home to major Tier 1 defence companies and several emerging space start-ups, including Fleet Space Technologies, Inovor Technologies and Myriota, which have all announced new Internet of Things initiatives this year.
Deloitte’s Australian Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Rob Hillard, said many different industries had high-value challenges that needed addressing now and that Industries such as defence, mining, insurance and agriculture are facing increasingly difficult problems today. However, a lot of companies don’t know that space data and solutions can be applied to almost any industry. Business are now being encouraged to put forward their most pressing issues to see if Australia’s best innovators can solve them, accelerating return on investment and creating new market offerings. (Source: Satnews)
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