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06 Sep 19. ASA launches Adelaide Mission Control Centre consultations. The Australian Space Agency has started consultations with industry on the shape of the new Mission Control Centre in Adelaide.
From that centre, it’s planned that SMEs and researchers will be able to control small satellite missions and access to space enabled data. That doesn’t mean larger organisations won’t be able to use the facility, though it is intended primarily for civilian rather than military use. This will also support joint national and international projects led by the Space Agency.
The Mission Control Centre is being jointly funded, with $6m from the federal government’s Space Infrastructure Fund and $2.5m from the South Australian government, making a total $8.5m, provided over three years.
The project will be delivered through an open grant process, with the successful applicant building and operating the centre, which will be located on the ground floor of the McEwin Building at the Lot Fourteen technology precinct in Adelaide. It will cover an area of about 60 square metres, not including server space. The Mission Control Centre will complement the new home of the Space Agency and be closely linked to the Australian Space Discovery Centre.
The agency has a number of objectives in mind. The centre will serve as a platform for SMEs, including start-ups and researchers. to control small satellite missions, national or international joint missions, provide access to space-enabled data, and participate in training, research and development.
It will provide an enduring, accessible operating model for industry and other organisations to access the capability of the Mission Control Centre.
The centre will have a broad range of capabilities. It will be able to acquire and track satellites, track vehicles and payloads launched from Australia and support Australian missions for flexible durations, including once only, regular intervals or ongoing.
It will be able to connect to international space agencies for joint missions, as well as support missions in all orbits and deep space, perform downlink and uplink communications for data exchange and satellite control, and display data through a public interface available to visitors of the Australian Space Discovery Centre.
Finally, it will be able to acquire and display live video feed from space, for example from the International Space Station and the Lunar Gateway.
The Space Agency said it proposed that there be a single stage application lodged online.
Applications for grant funding will be assessed against criteria outlined in the final Mission Control Centre Grant Opportunity Guidelines, which will be further developed through this consultation process.
More information about the consultation process is available here. https://consult.industry.gov.au/space/mission-control-program-design/user_uploads/space-infrastructure-fund–sif—mission-control-centre-consultation-paper-1.pdf
06 Sep 19. Fleet secures capital raise to support new launch ops. Fleet Space Technologies has used a new round of capital raising to secure $11m, with the intention to launch a series of slightly larger nano-satellites into space in 2020 to deliver internet-of-things technology across the mining and agriculture sectors.
Among the new investors is wealthy Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing, whose infrastructure companies own just over half of South Australia’s electricity provider SA Power Networks.
Fleet now has four CubeSats in orbit, launched in late 2018, providing internet of things (IoT) services for energy and resources companies in the US and Australia.
But demand has been so great it has decided to launch additional satellites. Fleet co-founder and chief executive Flavia Tata Nardini said the company needed to launch more satellites soon and decided to conduct a new capital raise. Fleet’s current constellation comprises a mix of 1.5U and 3U CubeSats, two launched on a RocketLab mission from New Zealand and then one each on Indian and SpaceX Falcon launches. Launches were in November and December last year.
Fleet’s next satellites are likely to be four larger 6U CubeSats, providing greater capacity and capability. Launch is planned for mid to late next year.
Fleet, based in Adelaide with just over a dozen employees, expects to double in size with this new investment.
This was Fleet’s second capital raising since it was founded in 2015.
The latest round was led by new investors Momenta Ventures and Mr Li’s Horizons Ventures, while existing investors Grok Ventures and Blackbird Ventures also participated, as did the Kennard family, owners of Kennards Hire.
Demand for IoT services, which is pushing the need for additional satellites, is coming mainly from energy and natural resources applications. Most of Fleet’s existing customers use Fleet IoT applications for asset tracking and management.
Fleet plans to use some of its new capital to boost customer support.
Ms Nardini said for IoT services, Fleet needed to be close to customers to provide assistance and it wasn’t just about putting in more modems.
Fleet is in competition with other firms offering IoT services either by satellite or ground infrastructure.
However, Fleet said it has a more flexible approach and works with a number of IoT protocols, not just a fixed architecture, and that’s why it has managed to attract so many customers.
Fleet is the first investment for Momenta Ventures’ new IoT fund.
“We believe that the next wave of innovation in connected industry will be powered by low power, wide area networks, and see satellites complementing terrestrial networks to provide coverage anywhere, anytime,” said Momenta Venture principal Lee Carter.
“We are excited to see how Fleet’s technology and constellation of satellites can become crucial to bringing the possibilities of the IoT to the far reaches of the globe,” said Horizons Ventures director Patrick Poon. (Source: Space Connect)
06 Sep 19. Saber Astronautics supports USAF Space Operations Exercise. Australia-based Saber Astronautics was one of 19 commercial companies and nine US Military organisations joining the “Sprint Advanced Concept Training for Space Situational Awareness” (SACT-SSA) event.
During the event, Saber provided real-time operational support from their Mission Control Centres in Sydney and Colorado. SACT is a US Air Force run event to test the combat readiness of its space forces. The event draws upon a combination of real-world, commercial and defence assets to sense and retrieve data of space threats and to conduct orbital manoeuvres.
This was a live event using both commercial and defence sensors to detect and locate spacecraft in flight. With the number of space objects set to triple over the next decade, there are new businesses developing sensors to find objects in space, with telescopes and radars cropping up around the globe.
The USAF is investigating new ways to collaborate and to integrate these new commercial capabilities into their day-to-day operations
The director of Saber Astronautics USA, Nathan Parrott, noted the responsiveness of the teams, saying, “SACT-2 provided a wonderful opportunity for us to test PIGI in an operational environment to model live on-orbit manoeuvres using actual real-time sensor data.”
The Saber Astronautics role was to supply software called the Predictive Interactive Groundstation Interface (PIGI) software, to manage thousands of space objects observed by sensors provided by the rest of the team.
High quality visualisation of the space environment is critical in situations where operators need to be able to understand and make decisions on large volumes of information.
Saber also provided commercial Mission Control Centres, called the Responsive Space Operations Center (RSOC), which used PIGI and other tools to understand the impacts of decisions. RSOC is based in Colorado (Daywatch) and Sydney (Nightswatch) to support global operations.
“Saber’s Australian team (Nightswatch) did a wonderful job of taking over operations to provide a full, 24-hour operational window for SACT, which was a first for the event. This was a capability that was very much welcomed by our US allies,” added Parrott.
Saber’s international presence allowed, for the first time in the SACT exercise, the successful integration of operations from the US Space Operations Center (SPOC) to Australia, providing 24-hour operational readiness from Saber’s RSOCs. They received data from sensors, compared with known and expected satellite positions, measured divergences, and identified manoeuvres for live spacecraft.
SACT-2, which ran from 26-29 August in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was the second such event to be operating in partnership with the US Air Force. SACT-2 networked commercial sensor providers to track satellites and make live operational decisions in partnership with the USAF.
The next SACT event (SACT-3) is scheduled for December 2019, where Saber Astronautics is again expected to play a leading role. (Source: Space Connect)
05 Sep 19. Space Vehicles XVI programme a ‘small part to a larger solution.’ The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is investigating the use of low Earth orbit satellites to extend the range of the Link 16 tactical datalink, with a critical design review scheduled for October.
The Space Vehicles XVI programme is currently at the proof of concept stage, which involves integrating a payload within a commercial satellite for a low-cost technology demonstration.
‘XVI is a commercially-provided cube sat that we’ll be hosting Link 16 from space,’ 2nd Lt Shawn Hamel, the mission manager for the XVI programme, told Shephard.
‘And what we are looking to do is show how a commercially-provided bus can be integrated with the Department of Defense payload for a low cost technology demonstration. And specifically we’re looking to demonstrate the use of Link 16 from low earth orbit.’
Hamel said that one of the main goals of the project was ‘to show that there are no changes needed to the terrestrial terminals’, and that the AFRL was looking to ‘see what the uses are for Link 16 from space’.
With Link 16 migrating towards infantry use, technologies that overcome Link 16’s limitation of needing line of sight to communicate are proving attractive to the US and its allies.
The programme is currently aiming to test at low Earth orbit, as this is where radiation levels from the sun are lowest. This will help to prevent damage to some of the technology within the payload.
With the Pentagon looking at technologies that enable multi-domain operations, the Space Vehicles XVI programme is a ‘small part to a larger solution’.
However Hamel noted: ‘I really wouldn’t be able to speak to what that larger solution is. That’s a matter of our operational users and how they want to interpret the technology that we explore.’
Having awarded a 22 month contract to Viasat in February, AFRL carried out the preliminary design review in July, with critical design review coming up in October. After this AFRL will start testing on integration of the payload, before finally moving on to working on the spacecraft themselves.
In a press release in May, Viasat announced that the company’s Link 16-capable LEO satellite was designed to fit the Viasat Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) satellite communications (SATCOM) concept.
‘The HAN architecture will allow users to operate across commercial and government SATCOM networks and multiple orbital regimes, creating an end-to-end multi-layered solution resilient to network congestion, intentional and unintentional interference and cyber threats – even in highly-contested environments,’ the company said. (Source: Shephard)
05 Sep 19. Why the Pentagon could need a National Space Intelligence Center. Space is a war fighting domain and there hasn’t been a single panel or discussion about military space in the past year where that phrase has failed to be uttered.
That’s because American assets in space, from the position, navigation and timing signal provided by GPS satellites to early warning missile detection satellites, are increasingly seen as targets by adversaries. Increasingly the military is looking to protect those assets and the nation’s space capabilities.
A major part of that work will be developing intelligence for the space domain, said Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, deputy commander of the Air Force Space Command, He was speaking at the Intelligence and National Security Summit Sept. 5. While in the past the military has been focused on what intelligence leaders can gather from space, the future will require the military to think about what intelligence it can gather about the space domain.
“We need to think really really hard now about intelligence for space. Where is that intelligence expertise, the processes, the capabilities that we have to understand what’s actually happening in the space environment to support Gen. [Jay] Raymond in his capacity at U.S. Space Command for a potential war that may extend to space,” Shaw said.
Part of that shift will require developing personnel who can understand and analyze data about the space domain.
“We are going to have to grow intelligence professionals for the space domain that support operational and foundational intelligence for a potential war that extends to space. That’s going to be a major focus for us,” he said.
In the future, he said, that need for information could lead to the development of a National Space Intelligence Center, but in the meantime the military will likely bolster current efforts at the National Space Defense Center and other existing organizations.
“In the near to mid-term a Space Force is probably going to leverage what’s at NSDC already. It’s possible —possible — that in the future there is a separate national space intelligence center,” he said.
“I am fond of saying that I think that some of the best experts we have in intel for space are at NSDC and at Wright-Patterson in the space squadrons there,” Shaw added. “I mean, every time I go there I am just wowed by the things that they understand and are doing. We just need to, I think, scale that up. And it’s mostly foundational. It needs to translate into the operational intelligence support.”
Shaw added that the Air Force has made its own strides on building more space-minded intelligence officers. In the last two years, their space training course for intel officers has expanded from two to five weeks. Those efforts will only continue to grow with the establishment of a separate Space Force, said Shaw, which will oversee the training of its own intelligence officers.
All of this is essential to protecting American military satellites in orbit.
“We have to have capabilities to protect and defend otherwise vulnerable capabilities in orbit,” explained Shaw. “You have to have, as I mentioned, the space domain awareness to understand what’s going on in space, and it cannot be at a tempo that doesn’t operate at the speed of war.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Sep 19. Who should take the lead on the military’s space-based sensor layer? The White House is concerned that the Senate’s version of the annual defense policy bill could place undue limitations on the Pentagon as it works to build a space-based sensor layer capable of detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons.
The Senate bill would put responsibility for development and deployment of the space-based sensor layer squarely in the hands of the Missile Defense Agency. Furthermore, it would require on-orbit testing of hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensors to begin by December 31, 2021.
In a Sept. 4 letter to the chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the Trump administration claims these provisions “would limit DOD’s ability to establish the most cost-effective missile defense architecture for the Nation.”
The letter reveals the differing opinions in Washington on which Department of Defense organization is best suited to steer the satellite project.
The White House claims it’s too early to set a lead agency for a space-based sensor layer and to set design requirements. According to the administration, the MDA is currently conducting an analysis of alternatives while the Space Development Agency is building a prototype of a constellation in low earth orbit that would host the space-based sensor layer.
The differing positions play into ongoing confusion from industry over who should have custody of a space-based sensor layer. It also muddies how the Space Development Agency relates to organizations such as the MDA, which is in charge of missile defense, and the Air Force, which has and is building missile tracking satellites.
Currently, the hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensors appears to be a joint project between MDA, SDA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
“MDA is working with the (SDA), DARPA, and the U.S. Air Force to conduct prototype concept design activities for a space-based missile tracking sensor system known as Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor,” Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the former head of the Missile Defense Agency, said in an April 3 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “As part of an integrated multi-tier [overhead persistent infrared radar] enterprise architecture, HBTSS would detect and track additional and emerging threats using persistent infrared sensors.”
At a July industry day, SDA leaders further explained how the agencies are working together on developing a space-based sensor layer. When faced with questions from industry over the perceived overlap between the SDA and the MDA, especially when it comes to hypersonic tracking sensors, SDA Acting Director Derek Tournear explained it this way:
“SDA is responsible for developing and fielding capabilities,” he said. “This means that we will incorporate any and all capabilities that fit our needs provided by whomever. This means we’ll team with the MDA to help with missile tracking, as an example, the Army and others for target custody, as another example, and commercial obviously wherever they can help.
“The SDA does not want to build every satellite needed for the future National Defense Space Architecture. There are many partners already developing capabilities, which we can and will incorporate,” he added.
In this setup, the MDA would develop the actual sensors and inform the SDA on how they can fit into their overall architecture; the SDA would be in charge of actually fielding the satellites which will hold the MDA payloads.
In the letter, the White House clearly claims that giving responsibility for development and deployment of the space-based sensor layer to the MDA would limit the Pentagon as it works to develop this capability. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Sep 19. Funding for satellite facility in Guam will pay for border wall. Funding for a new satellite communications facility in Guam is being diverted to pay for barriers on the U.S. border with Mexico, but the move could leave the base at risk of communications interruptions that would hinder operations on the battlefield. On Sept. 4, the administration announced it was diverting $3.6bn from 127 military construction projects to go toward 11 barrier projects along the southern border. Among those projects is $14.2m for a new command, control, communications, computers and intelligence satellite communications facility at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
Funding for the SATCOM C4I facility was set aside in fiscal year 2017 to ensure that a diverse communications system would be available to support what’s needed on the battlefield. The current facilities “lack the redundancy and diversity necessary to ensure continuous communications operations,” according to the Air Force fiscal year 2017 budget request.
Without this new facility, the Air Force claimed that Andersen’s communications were at risk of interruptions, be they man-made, technical or natural, and any interruptions could severely impact theater operations. At the time, a contract for the facility was expected to be awarded by February 2017 and construction was slated to be completed by December 2018. According to a list of projects circulated by the Pentagon earlier this year, the estimated award date has since been moved to January 2020. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Sep 19. Skykraft, ELA partner to boost satellite and launch capabilities. Space company Skykraft and rocket launch company Equatorial Launch Australia have signed a strategic partnership agreement to leverage the strengths of the two firms. Skykraft, a company that spun out of UNSW Canberra, is a designer and manufacturer of small satellite constellations for a broad range of space-based services. ELA is set to operate of Australia’s first commercial spaceport, located near Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory.
ELA chief executive Carley Scott said this teaming arrangement brought together space industry skills and expertise from across Australia.
That would demonstrate the clear path to space available for leading Australian technology developers through launch from the Arnhem Space Centre.
“Launching from Australia means local companies do not need to go overseas. This saves precious time and financial resources in the race to get Australian cutting-edge technology in space,” she said. “As a UNSW Canberra spin out company, Skykraft is well positioned to build on the $20m investment into UNSW Canberra for the creation of Australia’s largest spacecraft design and engineering capability. Skykraft engineers are now working at full speed toward the development of SmallSat constellations.
“Access to the Equatorial Launch Australia site will close a gap, providing confidence around efficient access to space.”
Skykraft managing director James Prior said the letter of strategic intent with ELA was a key step in the development of Australia’s ability to conceptualise, design, build, launch and operate entire satellite constellation missions from within Australia.
“Equatorial Launch Australia’s Space Centre near Nhulunbuy in the NT is ideally positioned to access a wide variety of orbits. Skykraft requires this type of space access to achieve its aim of delivering rapid, flexible and adaptable space missions,” he said.
In a joint statement, the companies said combining Skykraft’s rapid constellation design and manufacture capability and ELA’s ability to tailor launch options through their spaceport, plus access to a wide selection of launch vehicles, would provide Australia and the broader space community with an end-to-end solution for rapid, flexible and responsive space access. NASA plans to launch four sounding rockets from Nhulunbuy next year. (Source: Space Connect)
05 Sep 19. More funding needed to support Australian presence in global space race. No one has ever suggested space activities were cheap, especially on an international stage, where Australia aspires to be.
The Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA), founded in 1992 to promote the growth of the Australian space industry, has given an interesting insight into what investments of particular sums will buy.
This was contained in the SIAA submission to the Australian Space Agency on the government’s $15m International Space Investment initiative.
ISI is intended to support certain as yet undecided projects with international space agencies, boosting linkages, as well as the domestic space sector.
To put the $15m funding into perspective, the SIAA cited some examples based on member experience, which give a rough indication of the funding levels required for different tiers of engagement with international space projects.
Starting at the bottom, SIAA said $250,000 would buy a concept of operations or a slight improvement in a software tool or start of engagement with an international space entity.
Doubling that to $500,000 buys a slight improvement or readiness maturity in a hardware device or investigation for a new standard with some indirect association with an international space entity.
A full $1m buys a project proposal to work with an international space entity.
Going to $3-5m buys a top up of a current project or only the start of a new project with international space entity involvement.
Finally, $5-10m buys a start on a significant space infrastructure project for the local space industry ecosystem, with some international space entity involvement.
SIAA said only the last two items were likely to boost the Australian space industry on a trajectory able to deliver sustainable growth and jobs to meet the Australian Space Strategy objectives.
That goal is no less than to triple the size of the Australian space sector from $3.9bn to $12bn and to double the size of the Australian space workforce from 10,000 to 20,000 jobs by 2030. SIAA said current ISI program funding levels would only allow for two or three of these boost projects, which was unlikely to be sufficient to establish a proper Australian presence in the international space sector.
“In this context the ISI funding would seem to be at the extreme low end of what is realistically required to establish a sustainable Australian presence in the international space marketplace,” it said.
Just the same, SIAA said it welcomed the ISI initiative as a first very small step towards reaching the agency’s long-term strategic objectives. (Source: Space Connect)
30 Aug 19. Raymond’s First SPACECOM Move: Two New Subcommands and Their Leaders. Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting is the new head of SPACECOM’s Combined Force Space Component Command; Gen. Tom James leads the new Joint Task Force Space Defense. Space Command (SPACECOM) head Gen. John Raymond today announced two new subcomponent commands and their leaders: one for day to day operations including with allies; the other to “conduct space superiority operations.”
Raymond yesterday told reporters at the Pentagon the two new subcommands were being stood up — giving us a whole new set of acronyms to be learned. He did not, however, provide the names of the new leadership or the exact breakdown of their functions.
“To ensure USSPACECOM can conduct its mission decisively, I am establishing two subordinate commands with distinct and defined mission areas to ensure the command is postured to protect and defend, while also increasing joint warfighter lethality and strengthening partnerships,” Raymond said in today’s release.
The Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC), commanded by Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting, will “plan, integrate, conduct, and assess global space operations” for both US commanders and those of allies and partners, according to a SPACECOM press release.
Whiting was formerly head of the 14th Air Force and deputy Joint Force Space Component Commander at Strategic Command (STRATCOM) at Vandenberg AFB.
The CFSCC will work through four existing centers of operations that previously reported to Strategic Command (STRATCOM): the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) at Vandenberg that includes allied partners; the Missile Warning Center at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado; the Joint Overhead Persistent Infrared Center at Buckley AFB, Colorado; and the Joint Navigation Warfare Center located at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. “Additionally, CFSCC executes tactical control over a number of Air Force, Army, and Navy space units,” the press release explains.
For a half century, DRS has provided military forces around the world with advanced technologies and capabilities to meet their mission needs. Here are some highlights.
The Joint Task Force Space Defense (JTF-SD), commanded by Army Brig. Gen. Tom James, will “conduct space superiority operations in unified action with mission partners to deter aggression, defend space capability, and when directed, defeat adversaries throughout the continuum of conflict,” the release said.
James previously served as director of operations and exercises at the Joint Force Space Component Command. Breaking D readers will remember that James announced that one of SPACECOM’s initial focuses would be satellite communications, under a new SATCOM Integrated Operations Division.
The JTF-SD will oversee the National Space Defense Center (NSDC) at Schriever where the Intelligence Community’s space operations are integrated with the military. The NSDC is at the heart of the new “unified defense concept of operations” announced Aug. 20 at the National Space Council meeting by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. As we reported, that plan would for the first time put the National Reconnaissance Office’s fleet of spy satellites under the control of the US military during conflict.
It also will oversee the “Space Situational Awareness Units and Emerging Space Defense Units” formerly assigned to STRATCOM, the release said.
“Over the past decade, our great power competitors have developed technologies that threaten our critical national assets in space,” Raymond added. “The U.S. has no desire to see a conflict in space, and we are working hard to ensure no country believes they can gain a terrestrial advantage by extending a conflict to space. It’s important to understand that, like all nations, we have the inherent right of self-defense, so purposeful interference with space assets vital to our national security will be met by leveraging our multi-domain capabilities across air, land, sea, cyber and space, and all of our instruments of national power.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
03 Sep 19. Russian satellite creeps up to Intelsat satellite – again. A Russian satellite has sidled up to yet another satellite in geostationary orbit, reigniting concerns that it could be stealing data or could cause a collision. Since launching in September 2014, a Russian satellite known as Luch or Olymp has caused friction in the national security space community as it traverses across geostationary orbit. Geosynchronous satellites are separated into wide segments of space in order to avoid interference with each other, but Russian operators have ignored that setup with Luch, preferring instead to travel through the orbit, creeping up on other commercial and government satellites. By invading that space and snuggling up to another satellite, some worry Luch is theoretically able to intercept the ground signals directed at the targeted satellite, though it’s not clear from the limited amount of publicly available information if this is happening.
On Aug. 27, TS Kelso of CelesTrak, which tracks and provides orbital information, reported that Luch was now approaching an Intelsat satellite.
Each day, Kelso reviews a list of all satellites that are moving in geostationary orbit. Most of the time, what Kelso sees are satellites drifting a bit in their assigned orbit, relocating to a new area or even being decommissioned. But knowing Luch’s history of invading other satellites’ space, Kelso kept an eye out as it moved and took notice when it stopped moving again ― right next to Intelsat 17. According to the Secure World Foundation’s Global Counterspace Capabilities report released in April, Luch has stopped briefly in 17 different longitudes in the last five years.
But little is known about Luch. The Russian government hasn’t been forthcoming with information about the secretive space vehicle and officials have not discussed their plans for the satellite. Attempts by commercial satellite companies to contact the Russians about the satellite have reportedly proven fruitless.
According to Todd Harrison, director of the aerospace security project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the United States’ understanding of Luch is also limited due to its location and the lack of public information about the satellite.
“It’s about 22,000 miles above the surface of the earth. So it’s not something we can see with great fidelity, even with a powerful telescope,” said Harrison. “But what we can do is observe it’s behavior, and it’s been up there for several years.”
“What we’ve observed is this satellite moves around the geostationary belt and it will sidle up close to other satellites and stay there for a while, and then move along to other satellites,” explained Harrison. “So that suggests that it’s some sort of inspection or data collection vehicle.”
Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit focused on sustainability in space, agreed.
“In general, what we’re seeing from the U.S., Russia and China so far […] are growing interest in two activities related to national security. One is collecting intelligence and the other is space situational awareness,” said Weeden. “Our best guess for what Luch is doing is some form of electronic intelligence collection.”
Kelso added that Luch is moving on to new satellites faster than it used to.
“It looks like initially, the ‘visits’ were many months long but have gotten shorter over time,” he said.
While Kelso didn’t know every satellite Luch had visited, he said a number of them belonged to Intelsat, a major commercial satellite operator.
Intelsat did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the biggest concerns for operators who see Luch approaching their satellite is the possibility that Luch will be able to steal their transmissions. Because signals from earth to a geostationary satellite are broad, another satellite operating close enough to the intended recipient could pick up that signal as well.
However, it’s not immediately clear whether Luch is actually intercepting that data, making it difficult for operators to retaliate or cry foul or whether it is simply wreaking havoc. And while concern over data collection is real, Harrison added that to date observers have seen no offensive capability. That means that beyond encryption, there’s little that companies can do to protect their satellites or data–if they even need protecting.
“Just inspecting is not offensive. It’s not inherently destabilizing, but, you know, it does make people uncomfortable when the country doing the inspection is a potential adversary, like Russia,” said Harrison.
The only plausible response operators have is to encrypt the data passing through a targeted satellite, he said.
“Always encrypt everything,” said Harrison. “Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. It may seem obvious, but if satellite operators think that any of the data they’re transmitting to or from their satellites or between satellites is going to be safe without encryption, they’re wrong.”
But even if there is no malicious intent behind Luch’s activities, Kelso warned that the game the Russians are playing is inherently risky.
“I am very concerned about LUCH (OLYMP)’s activities. I realize there is likely a larger geopolitical game being played here, but getting close to another satellite in orbit without any way to communicate intent is a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Satellite operators think they know exactly where their satellites are, but Kelso noted that there is a high degree of uncertainty when tracking an object that high in orbit. Additionally, operators can make navigation decisions based on different sets of data, meaning one satellite can zig while another zags or stands still. Differing delays in information only further complicate matters, leading to increased risks of collision. These factors compound with a satellite like Luch, where the operators decline to communicate with other operators.
“It’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong if operators don’t work together to share orbital data and communicate intent (upcoming maneuvers),” said Kelso. “It will only take one operator doing the wrong thing at the wrong time to jeopardize everything in GEO, so we all need to work together.”
A major issue in the debate over Luch is that the existing legal framework makes it difficult to call out the Russians for this activity. There are no widely accepted norms of behavior that apply to this situation and there’s no legal framework banning this sort of activity.
“The bigger question is this issue of norms of behavior for space. We really don’t have any that are well established,” said Weeden. “This is a big struggle the space community is having in general, to kind of determine which of these activities are normal? Which of these activities are responsible? What should kind of ‘too close’ be?”
Part of the reason no norms have been developed is that Russia isn’t the only nation operating satellites that appear to be inspection vehicles. The United States runs the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, where observational satellites operating in geostationary orbit can fly closer to unknown objects to provide a closer look. China also has its own inspection satellite, though Harrison noted that unlike Luch, the satellite only appears to sidle up to other Chinese satellites. Complicating matters further is that there are some benign activities these inspection satellites can be up to.
“The Russians didn’t invent this stuff,” said Weeden.
“This is one of the challenges that’s out there for the international community–to start to establish norms of how close is too close to get to another object in GEO?” said Harrison. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
03 Sep 19. Startup Kleos Nabs Air Force NanoSat Ship-Tracking Deal. Data from Kleos satellites will be able to cue other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites or aircraft as they spot ships. Luxembourg start-up Kleos has won an Air Force small business innovation research contract (SBIR) contract to pitch its nanosatellite technology for using radio frequency (RF) tracking to locate “hidden” ships, such as illegal fishing and pirate vessels as well as benign watercraft with malfunctioning transponders. Kleos has yet to launch its first satellite, after a delay at RocketLab (that launches from New Zealand) pushed the planned launch back from last month to sometime in October. A spokesperson for the firm said the satellites are now going to be launched under a rideshare program with SpaceFlight Inc. on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV) sometime in the last quarter of this year.
Its initial “Scouting Mission” concept is for four nanosatellites — about the size of a shoebox according to the company — to be placed in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at about 500 kilometers. A second set is planned for sometime in 2020, building up to a constellation of at least 28 satellites.
The Phase 1 SBIR for the Air Force will involve “delivery of a report including technical feasibility, financial sustainability and meeting defense needs” by Oct. 23, according to a company press release, that if deemed of interest will open the door to a Phase 2 tech demo.
The tiny satellites, built by Danish company GomSpace, weigh only about 10 kg, and work together to geolocate RF transmissions from ships using very high frequency (VHF) spectrum, with the constellation able to provide an accuracy between “200 meters to 3 kilometers depending on conditions,” according to the Kleos website. The first four satellites are ready to fly; another four with a refined configuration is currently under manufacture. The second-generation satellites are designed to provide better coverage near the equator.
Kleos envisions the system being used for maritime situational awareness by commercial firms and governments alike, to keep track of maritime traffic, identify potential pirate ships and illegal activities and/or conduct search and rescue operations by tracking ships not broadcasting via the required Automatic Identification System(AIS).
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.
The satellites fly in very close to each other, “each one equipped with radios for detecting the use of the VHF spectrum, used by push to talk walkie talkies etc. That data is then sent to our ground segment where it is processed through our geolocation algorithms to provide the customer where and when the VHF activity took place,” a Kleos spokesperson said in an email. “Kleos data is a complimentary enhancement for existing data sets, used to cue other space or air breathing assets, and has been welcomed by the existing ecosystem of ISR and analysis companies.”
Kleos also intends to sell its data as a service to subscribers, offering a three-tiered level of access.
Maritime safety and security is increasingly an issue for both the US and its European allies, particularly in the Pacific and the Persian Gulf. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is increasingly turning its attention to acquiring geolocation products and services, David Gauthier, director of NGA’s new Commercial & Business Operations office, said during the GEOINT 2019 in June. Kleos in June announced that it had won a new infusion of 1m Euro ($1.2m) from Luxembourg, bringing its state financing up to nearly 3m Euro ($3.3bn), and allowing it to apply for European Space Agency’s Business Applications Program — with a contract possible by the end of 2019. The company, founded in 2017, went public on the Australian stock market last year and shares are now going for about 0.30 Australian dollars (0.20 USD) each, with its US market cap at $13.95m, according to Markets Insider. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Sep 19. Increasing allied role in space a ‘priority’ for Space Command head. The newly installed head of the reborn U.S. Space Command, doesn’t want to go it alone anymore.
“Historically, we haven’t needed to have allies in space,” Gen. Jay Raymond said Aug. 29 at the Pentagon. But now, as space becomes a full-on war-fighting domain, working with allies is “a big growth area for us. And I think it’s going to provide our country a big advantage. We’re stronger together.”
Raymond acknowledged that working with allies isn’t always easy, given the nature of intelligence sharing restrictions and concerns about letting foreign nationals — even those from countries closest to the U.S. — into operation centers.
That has improved in recent years, partly due to the creation of the Combined Space Operations Center, which includes personnel from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
“We are working very closely with our partners, specifically our Five Eyes partners, France, Germany and Japan. We exercise together, we train together, we conduct war games together,” Raymond said, referring to a five-strong partnership of the U.S., the U.K, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The other reason the U.S. largely operated alone in space? The reality that few countries around the world had space-launch capabilities. That also has changed over the last 15 years, with a number of military partners and allies around the globe, including Israel, Poland, Turkey, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates having stood up new space agencies to cash in on the growing commercial space boom.
In the lead up to Space Command’s launch, the U.S. and the U.K. strengthened space partnerships. Britain is the first international partner to formally sign up for an American-led coalition called Operation Olympic Defender aimed at strengthening allies’ abilities to deter hostile actions by rivals in orbit. Britain also last year awarded a contract for its first-ever domestic space launch facility.
The growth of commercial space has opened up opportunities for the Pentagon to host military payloads on satellites put into orbit by other nations. That process began with Norway and Japan, and Raymond indicated a desire to see more hosted-payload programs.
“We absolutely are open for new partnerships; we’re eagerly working those partnerships,” Raymond said. “I mentioned the countries that we’re working very closely with today, but we are looking forward to continuing to expand that. That’s one of the priorities of the command.” (Source: Defense News)
04 Sep 19. Aussie space start-ups to participate in SA Venture Catalyst Space program. Five start-up space companies have been chosen to participate in the University of South Australia’s second Venture Catalyst Space program, backed by the SA government’s Space Innovation Fund. That’s done through the SA Innovation and Collaboration Centre (ICC) and its tailored six-month incubator program, which aims to develop innovative ideas of selected space companies. The five space start-ups will each receive funding, access to training and workshops, one-on-one mentorship, a modern co-working space and cutting-edge technical resources and tools. Participating companies are FireFlight, Nano Spaces and Lookinglass from Adelaide, India’s Astrogate Labs and Lux Aerobot from Canada. The companies will work with global industry expert advisers, including ICC entrepreneurs in residence Kirk Drage, chief executive of LeapSheep; Terry Gold; and former NASA astronaut Pam Melroy, director of space technology and policy for Nova Systems.
SA Premier Steven Marshall said the program provided an excellent platform to grow the local space ecosystem by building a culture of entrepreneurship and supporting start-ups to scale-up successfully.
“It’s exciting to see the next cohort of early-stage start-ups chosen for this program, which has proven success in supporting entrepreneurs to transform their cutting-edge ideas into sustainable businesses in our state,” he said.
“We are committed to building a culture of entrepreneurship in South Australia, and this program supports our state’s objectives to capture the opportunities of space to grow our economy and create high-value jobs.”
UniSA ICC associate director Jasmine Vreugdenburg said the program aimed to help grow and develop future leaders in the space industry.
“The program will deliver high calibre support to the five selected companies, focusing on enhancing their global competitiveness and rapidly accelerating exceptional ideas or projects on the world stage,” she said.
“We’re thrilled with the response from all applicants and very pleased that they have chosen to call Adelaide home during their stint with the program.”
FireFlight produces a system for real-time mapping of bushfires and post fire hotspots, which has been used operated in the US, Australia and Indonesia during the past two years.
Nano Spaces aims to investigate nanofluidic devices that can be integrated on nanosatellites for precision positioning using safe, clean and cost-effective fuels.
Lookinglass is an AI smart mirror and satellite-enabled platform that detects the symptoms and progression of degenerative health conditions like Parkinson’s and dementia.
Astrogate Labs, based in Bengaluru, India, does high-speed communications for smallsats, using proprietary technology on the satellite and ground optical terminals that provides simplified lower cost communications.
Lux Aerobot, based in Montreal, produces atmospheric satellites, essentially satellites in high altitude balloons, providing the first real-time imaging of Latin America and Oceania. (Source: Space Connect)
04 Sep 19. Australian Government aims to drive space sector growth with new infrastructure and investment programs. The Industry Department has launched the government’s two new space sector programs from this year’s budget, the Space Infrastructure Fund (SIF) and the International Space Investment (ISI) initiative.
That followed a consultation process in which stakeholders, including industry, associations, state governments and academia, were canvassed for their thoughts.
The general view appears to have been that the government is on the right track, although funding is modest and timelines constrained, given the ambition to triple the size of the Australian space sector from $3.9bn to $12bn and double the size of the Australian space workforce from 10,000 to 20,000 jobs by 2030.
For instance, the Space Industry Association of Australia said extremely modest funding levels had to be spread across twin goals of opening doors to international space agencies for Australian firms and providing tangible support to expand the capability and capacity of Australian space organisations.
“The design is further constrained by the funding profile over the next three years set by the Australian federal budget and the need to get companies under contract as quickly as possible to enable them to meaningfully spend the $3m allocated for the 2019-2020 financial year,” the association said.
“The SIAA is concerned that these constraints will drive a suboptimal program design that will in effect become a template for possible future programs.”
The South Australian government said within the approved funding envelope, the Australian Space Agency would likely only be able to support a few high quality proposals.
“While we understand the need to launch this funding as soon as possible to ensure the success of this initiative, we are concerned that the proposed timeline for the process of submitting applications will not be sufficient,” it said.
The SIF is a $19.5m investment in seven infrastructure projects to drive the growth of Australia’s space sector, filling infrastructure gaps to support businesses and researchers to participate in the global space economy. Projects under the SIF include a mission control in South Australia, a robotics command and control centre in Western Australia to support the use of robotics and automation in space, future space manufacturing capability at the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and supporting facilities in Tasmania to track space objects. The ISI initiative provides $15m over three years and aims to support supporting projects enabling Australia to participate in the activities of international space agencies. The ISI initiative will open later this year to help unlock international space opportunities for Australia and to expand the capability and capacity of the space sector. (Source: Space Connect)
04 Sep 19. EM Solutions secures multiple Defence project wins. Brisbane-based EM Solutions has successfully landed two contracts from the Australian Department of Defence Innovation Hub to develop next-generation satellite ground terminal capability. The first is a $1.9m contract to develop a low-profile, flat panel antenna satellite communications terminal. Based on a novel, low-cost ‘leaky-wave’ antenna developed in concert with researchers at the University of Queensland, this system is intended to provide improved communications capability from land, air or sea platforms to any satellite.
EM Solutions CEO Dr Rowan Gilmore said, “These contract awards further strengthen our collaboration with the both the Royal Australian Navy and the ADF’s Joint Capability Group, and demonstrates their confidence in the existing Cobra systems we have already installed on their patrol boats and frigates.”
In the same announcement from the Australian Minister for Defence Industry, the company was awarded a $5.8m contract to continue its development of a ruggedised satellite communications terminal for potential deployment on current and future Royal Australian Navy vessels.
This project aims to deliver a prototype communications terminal for testing and demonstration.
“We are delighted that these latest awards will enable us to continue to develop leading-edge communications systems tailored to their specific requirements,” Dr Gilmore added.
EM Solutions is a leader in the design and manufacture of products that assist in the delivery of real-time voice, data and multimedia anywhere in the world. Employing a team of specialist engineers at its head office in Brisbane, EM Solutions designs and supplies leading-edge satellite and microwave communication technology for customers in the global defence and maritime industries, as well as broadcasting and telecommunications sectors. Over the last 15 years, EM Solutions has built a customer base of more than 200 of the world’s largest system integrators and telecommunication companies, delivering high-quality products and service. (Source: Space Connect)
01 Sep 19. Sandia Labs picks up good vibrations in rocket launches. The history of rocketry is a history of iterative mistakes. Explosive propulsion carries with it all the hazard contained in the phrase, and error can come from any point of design, assembly, and launch, all cascading in a bright flash or a dull thud. Engineers left to piece over the remains to decipher what went wrong.
Sandia Labs, the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based nuclear and defense research apparatus, announced Aug. 30, it had completed a series of successful tests with a new sensor system to see how sensitive, experimental payloads handle the vibrations of flight.
It is, in other words, a way to move fast without breaking things.
The tests took place on so called HOT SHOT sounding rockets, with HOT SHOT being a rough backronym from “High Operational Tempo Sounding Rocket Program.” The sounding rockets are fired from Sandia Labs’ Kauai Test Facility in Hawaii and contained “scientific experiments and prototypes of missile technology.” The purpose was to see if componentslike onboard computers or structural brackets can “function in the intense turbulence, heat and vibration a missile experiences in flight.”
By outfitting the sounding rockets with what the Lab describes as pea-sized instruments to measure vibration, Sandia estimates it can potentially trim a year off the testing timeline for the rockets.
To test the applicability of readings from vibration sensors, researchers at Sandia launched a rocket with vibration sensors, and then tested to see if, using data from only a few vibration sensors, they could infer the data from the remaining vibration sensors.
Further tests are needed to see if the vibration sensors will routinely be as successful collecting information as initially promised. Sandia launched two rockets at Kauai August 28, and for those tests will have ground microphone data to cross-reference as another source of vibration data. In two subsequent tests on August 28, Sandia used ground microphones as another source of data to cross-reference with the vibration data to confirm their findings. If all goes well, the Lab will be able to continue iterating design for “prototype nuclear deterrence technologies,” at a higher tempo than it was previously. When it comes to iterating the technology of deterrence, Sandia is, forever, undeterred.
02 Sep 19. ASA launches streamlined rules for space operations. Australia now has an updated and streamlined regulatory framework for space launches and returns. Australian Space Agency head Dr Megan Clark said this was a vital step in the agency’s goal of transforming and growing the Australian space industry.
“The way we interact with space is changing, and there has been a rapid transformation of the sector in recent years,” she said.
“By updating the regulatory framework, we are improving Australians’ access to space, while continuing to uphold our strong values to ensure safety of activities on Earth and in space.
“These reforms ensure that Australia’s space regulation accommodates technological advancements and does not unnecessarily inhibit innovation in Australia’s space capabilities.”
The updated framework under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 came into effect at the weekend and sets new rules covering launches from aircraft in flight and launches of high-power rockets.
The act now incorporates three new rules covering general provisions for launches and returns, special provisions for high-powered rockets and insurance requirements.
The Space Agency said these measures streamline the approvals processes and adjust the insurance requirements to appropriate risk levels for launches and returns.
The rules provide further detail and clear information to applicants on requirements they need to meet for Australian space activities.
Under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018, approval is needed to undertake certain space activities in Australia.
That includes launching a space object from Australia, returning a space object to Australia, operating a launch facility in Australia, and launching or returning a space object overseas, if you’re an Australian national with an ownership interest.
The updated framework provides greater clarity and flexibility for the Australian space industry and ensures there is suitable consideration of the need to remove barriers to participation and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
The framework also considers safety of space activities and the risk of damage to persons or property and implementation of certain obligations under the UN Space Treaties.
The general rules for launches and returns set out various terms and conditions.
To conduct a launch, the applicant has to provide a range of information, including the intended purpose, description and the rocket and payload and risk hazard analysis.
For example, the holder of a launch permit must notify the Minister at least two days before launch, confirming the date and launch window, alternative launch and the planned trajectory.
After the launch, the permit holder must notify the Minister of orbital parameters of the space object and a report on compliance with the launch safety standards in the Flight Safety Code.
The Space Agency won’t start assessing applications for high-power rocket launches activity until June next year.
So, what does it cost to conduct a launch in Australia? Fees are still under consideration and no fees are currently applicable for an application. The agency said it would conduct consultations on any rules related to the operation of a fee framework before these are introduced. (Source: Space Connect)
02 Sep 19. Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), has begun working with its first undisclosed customer on a 2020 delivery of the company’s latest-generation Miniature PLGR Engine – M-Code (MPE-M) GPS receiver. The new MPE-M, announced this summer, is ideal for lightweight, ground-based applications such as radios, blue force trackers, targeting devices, vehicle LRU’s and small unmanned aircraft. The MPE-M has the same Type-II small form factor as the MPE-S and is designed to be easily integrated into platforms that utilize the MPE-S today. According to independent testing, the MPE-M is the lowest Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) small Type II form factor ground receiver available and incorporates Collins Aerospace’s recently certified Common GPS Module (CGM).Available now, the MPE-M is authorized for export to U.S. allies through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Collins Aerospace expects to release full-rate production pricing late this fall in preparation for responding to Request for Proposals by early 2020 with expected deliveries to begin by the end of that year. The company already has received multiple requests for MPE-M prototypes for lab use in preparation for M-Code migrations before the waiver expires and the mandate takes effect.
30 Aug 19. INTERSTAT Acquires Capacity for African Broadcast Services with Azercosmos’ Azerspace Satellites. Azercosmos has secured a long term agreement with INTERSAT, one of the largest providers of VSAT services in Africa. According to the agreement, INTERSAT will use Azerspace-1 and Azerspace-2 satellite resources on C- and multiple Ku-band beams covering Africa in order to deliver more reliable and highly competitive broadcast services to its customers. INTERSAT is now fully equipped to deliver end-to-end broadcast solutions including Satellite Uplink, Satellite Downlink, and Turnaround services for broadcast customers from around the world who intend to expand their coverage in Africa. (Source: Satnews)
29 Aug 19. Will LEOs Create a Trillion-Dollar Industry? An NSR Analysis. The Space industry is progressively attracting more interest from the investment community — in fact, investment banks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch expect the Space industry to grow to more than $1trn by 2040. Expectations from private investors are not far behind… Jeff Bezos justified the investment in the Kuiper constellation based on the potential for it to “move the needle” for Amazon, a company generating annual revenues of $233bn USD. Is the addressable market big enough to support these projections?
The satellite communications industry and its derived applications (DTH, Consumer Broadband, Backhaul, Mobility, etc.) has historically been a big portion of Space revenues and would need to contribute to future growth to reach those market potentials. According to NSR’s Global Satellite Capacity Supply and Demand, 16th Edition report, SATCOM wholesale capacity revenues will reach $24.7bn by 2028. Assuming the same 6.8 percent CAGR as in the 2018-2028 period, the industry would generate $54.5bn annually by 2040. Even adding in elements such as satellite manufacturing, launch and ground equipment, the total is a good distance from the $1trn projection. Given this, are there any hidden use case that could boost the industry to a trillion-dollar Space economy?
The Expectations from the Investment Community
As per Morgan Stanley, the main source for growth for the Space industry, apart from Second Order Impacts, will be Broadband. The investment bank expects the vertical to become a $95bn market by 2040, growing from somewhere in the neighborhood of $2bn today. While NSR agrees on the fact that many Satellite Broadband use cases are still underpenetrated today, stimulating demand has not been easy and sustaining high growth rates over decades could exhaust the addressable market.
Connecting the Other Half. Really?
“Connecting the other half of the population,” referencing to the fact that 50 percent of the population remains unconnected, is a recurrent motto within the satellite industry. However, NSR believes the addressable market is significantly smaller. The Broadband coverage gap “only” represented 10 percent of the world population according to GSMA. When one also weights in other factors such as available income or digital skills, the potential market for SATCOM can be defined realistically. Based on estimates developed on NSR’s VBSM17 report, the addressable market for Satellite Consumer Broadband accounts for 435 million households. Service penetration outside North America is still at minimal levels and NSR projects solid growth coming from this vertical.
However, one must bear in mind that revenues per user extracted in emerging markets will be significantly smaller than the $84.26 ARPU that ViaSat realizes in the U.S. and NSR estimates a global average ARPU (considering users connecting through Wi-Fi aggregation points) in the neighborhood of ~20 USD by 2028. This yields a total market potential of $104bn. This is the theoretical roof of the market, but NSR considers the realistic opportunity to be smaller than that given existing challenges such as the “usage gap”, the difficulties in creating distribution channels or competition from alternative technologies.
It Is Not (Only) About the Bandwidth
No one can deny how impactful digital inclusion is to enhance the economy and well-being, from better education and healthcare to more efficient companies and greater market opportunities. An important concept is sometimes referred to as “digital spillover,” when technology accelerates knowledge transfer, business innovation, and performance to achieve a sustainable development and economic impact. Huawei estimated the digital spillover to have an impact on the GDP x2.5 times larger than the actual investment in digital assets. In fact, Morgan Stanley estimates that over $400bn from their $1trn Space-economy from 2040 will come from “Second Order Impacts.”
NSR acknowledges that there are multiple use cases that could be enabled by satellite connectivity. For example, as observed in BDAvS3 report, satellite big data could generate $17.7bn in 10 year, cumulative revenues by 2028. Consequently, it won’t come as a big surprise that the big supporters of LEO constellations are, at the same time, strongly positioned to capture opportunities in these “Second Order Impacts.” From connecting self-driving cars, delivering truly ubiquitous cloud services or enhancing communications cybersecurity, actors like Softbank, Google or Amazon could greatly benefit from seeing LEO constellations become operational. Some established actors are anticipating this transition and trying to capture a portion of these additional revenues — for example, SES forging a collaboration with IBM Cloud.
From a thriving startup ecosystem to ultra-rich individuals investing in the industry or investment bankers valuing the Space economy in trillions of dollars, Space is increasingly enticing for investors. However, one must not be carried away by Silicon Valley dreamers and do a balanced analysis of the market opportunity.
Markets such as Consumer Broadband have created enormous expectations but, while it is true that the addressable market is massive and the opportunity is still largely untapped, stimulating demand presents its own challenges and NSR is more cautious projecting the growth of the vertical estimating revenues in $17.3bn by 2027, or what is the same, 16.6 percent market penetration over Total Addressable Market.
While raw bandwidth is being commoditized, the increased dependence on digital technologies is opening (in parallel) sizable opportunities for value added services. In fact, the big investors behind LEO constellations are well positioned to benefit from these second order impacts of ubiquitous connectivity. (Source: Satnews)
28 Aug 19. EXOS Aerospace Receives Rocket Engine Contract from Fenix Space. EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc. has announced that Fenix Space, Inc. has awarded the firm a glider rocket engine contract, with the key deliverable (full-up demonstration testing) due in the next 45 days. The engine development component of a $1.5m proposal calls for Exos Aerospace to provide a ~4800# thrust Lox Ethanol engine and conduct a customer demonstration of the same at full thrust and throttled to about 2500# thrust before the end of August.
Fenix Space, Inc. is an offshoot of Kelly Space & Technology, Inc, a privately-held aerospace, defense, technology and testing services company. Fenix is co-located with Kelly Space at its Aerospace Research and Development Center at the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California. Fenix Space’s vision is to create and commercialize technologies that will open space to large-scale commercial development and apply these space technologies to beneficial use on Earth, which harmonizes with EXOS Aerospace’s vision to make space access more affordable.
In a recent article in Inland Empire Community News, Mike Gallo, a managing director and CTO for Fenix Space, discussed his mindset to focus on the vision for large-scale commercial development of space as well as how communities can benefit from these space activities. Fenix works with local communities to expand business interests and provide unique opportunities for residents to pursue careers in advanced technology development.
In like fashion, John Quinn, COO of EXOS Aerospace has a multi-dimensional focus. While the main objective of EXOS Aerospace has always been to make access to space more attainable with their reduced-cost, fly-now capabilities, Quinn focuses strongly on the SPACEedu — and SPACEaid — programs offered by EXOS. This has led to high school students being able to fly an experiment for less than the cost of the football team’s jerseys, to the Mayo Clinic being able to fly glioblastoma cells for leading-edge, ground-breaking medical research that will potentially save thousands of lives.
EXOS Aerospace’s contract with Fenix Space, Inc., will support advancing airborne launches using a tow plane and autonomous glider as a way to increase rockets capability and launch flexibility. Both companies are enticed by the unique environment spaceports are providing to commercial customers and believe working together on this project will result in capabilities to help Exos Aerospace make SPACE available.
Over the next 45 days, EXOS Aerospace and Fenix Space will release highlights of the milestones reached as these small companies complete a major project that will have a ripple effect of positive advancements for the space industry, as a whole. (Source: Satnews)
02 Sep 19. Australian Space Agency grows space industry with leading-edge downstream capabilities. The Australian Space Agency has signed a statement of strategic intent and co-operation with Australian SME FrontierSI, which delivers spatial information services through a partnership model with the government, industry and university sectors.
Dr Megan Clark, AC, head of the ASA, welcomed the signing with FrontierSI, noting the importance of working with industry that has strategic objectives that align with Australia’s Civil Space Strategy.
“The Australian Space Agency is working to transform and grow the Australian space industry, including growing the Australian space economy from $3.9bn to $12bn by 2030,” Dr Clark said.
FrontierSI said is also committed to increasing diversity and building the future workforce by making space accessible to students and professionals in areas not traditionally aligned with the space industry, including city planning, health and agricultural sciences.
Dr Clark added, “FrontierSI’s collaboration model, together with its focus on developing downstream markets for space derived information services, align with many of the objectives and priorities outlined in the Australian Civil Space Strategy, particularly supporting next-generation positioning, navigation and timing infrastructure, Earth observation services and leapfrog R&D.”
Dr Graeme Kernich, CEO of FrontierSI, commented on the enormous growth of the spatial sector and its influence on other industries.
“We are now seeing unprecedented use and dependence on space and spatial technologies. Above all, FrontierSI enables collaborations that deliver high impact solutions for our partners and clients,” Dr Kernich explained.
“FrontierSI has a long history of commitment to this sector and we look forward to a new era of collaboration with the Australian Space Agency that will enable industry to develop new services that integrate current, emerging and future space and spatial data innovations.”
The ASA is working to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry. This signing with FrontierSI is a further step towards the agency’s goal to triple Australia’s space economy to $12bn and create another 20,000 jobs by 2030. Australia’s 10-year plan for the civil space sector is outlined in Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028. (Source: Space Connect)
28 Aug 19. C-COM’s Latest Auto Pointing Antenna and More will be on Display at IBC2019. At the upcoming IBC2019 many companies will be sharing their latest and greatest. Among those with their newest will be C-COM’s auto-pointing antenna and steerable phased array antenna at C-COM’s Booth 5.C55. Highlighting the latest in C-COM design is the iNetVu® MP-80-MOT, a fully motorized, auto-acquire, 80 cm carbon fiber one-case backpack antenna. This sturdy and lightweight system will point to any programmed satellite with just the push of a button on the NEW iNetVu® 8020 Controller. Highly portable, the multi-segment manpack can be easily hand-carried by one person and assembled in less than 10 minutes without tools.
Also in the booth will be iNetVu® Ka-75V Driveaway, the 75cm, auto-deploy, vehicle-mounted antenna, authorized for use on ViaSat Exede® Enterprise, and on KA-SAT NEWSSPOTTER NEWSGATHERING service by Eutelsat. The system is fully motorized and configured with the iNetVu® 7024 Controller to provide fast satellite acquisition within minutes, anytime anywhere. The iNetVu® FLY-981 Flyaway will also be on display at C-COM’s booth. Paired with the iNetVu®7710 Controller, the fully automatic and transportable 98cm Ku-band flyaway antenna system comes in three robust cases and can be field converted to Ka-band. (Source: Satnews)
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