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13 Sep 19. BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold met up with Ken Peterman, President Government Systems, Viasat Inc. to ask for his views on the Skynet 6 announcement made at DSEI yesterday.
“Skynet 6 poses a new challenge, yet comprises a vital strategic opportunity for MOD and innovative UK industry partners to address collaboratively. We believe that if the MOD were to empirically analyze private sector technology capabilities and SATCOM services in a defense context, the results would reveal that the most reliable, secure, user-friendly and cutting-edge services are readily available to meet the needs of UK defense forces today.” Ken Peterman said.
“What benefits do you see in delivering Skynet 6?” The Editor asked.
“Skynet 6 is not only an opportunity to give UK forces the best possible SATCOM capabilities needed to maintain a tactical edge, it’s also an opportunity for the MOD to take advantage of both commercial and purpose-built capabilities in a way that will transform the way the UK MOD and private sector can collaborate on strategic programmes in the future,” said Steve Beeching, managing director, Viasat UK.
“Is Viasat well placed to bid for Skynet 6?”
“Our culture of innovation at Viasat and SATCOM technology leadership, fortified by our steadily increasing sovereign presence in the UK, favorably positions us for this very strategic Skynet 6 Programme.”
“Will you grow the Viasat UK presence as a result of this opportunity?”
“We are already expanding our current UK facilities. Our Viasat Government Systems business is committed to being a UK national asset and MOD’s most trusted partner. We don’t see Viasat as just a provider of new defence capabilities, but as a national asset: a caring partner that understands the real needs of today’s warfighters and acts quickly to effectively and affordably deliver capabilities that push the boundaries of what’s possible in order to significantly enhance mission effectiveness and improve warfighter safety. Viasat UK is providing the cutting-edge technology capabilities needed to help MOD realize the battle network of the future and we’re in a great position to offer the talent, in-depth experience and sovereign capabilities to support the nation as a national asset,” said Beeching.
“Over the past two decades, Viasat’s UK defense business has expanded to new strategic locations and developed an expansive portfolio of expertise and technology capabilities across tactical networking, information assurance, cyber security and satellite communications market segments. And the U.K. office is continuing to invest heavily in new talent and expertise across a number of Defence market segments. Within the last 18 months, Viasat’s UK Government Systems business doubled in size and now hosts around 100 defense and technology experts located across a number of locations throughout the country.”
“Is Viasat well placed to win a place on the Skynet 6 contract?”
“Yes, very much so, Viasat’s market-leading satellite communications, mobile networking, information assurance and cybersecurity capabilities hold great promise and will help enhance MOD force effectiveness, as the UK looks address threats from near-peer adversaries and reconfigure its forces for today’s rapidly evolving battlespace.”
12 Sep 19. Intelsat General Introduces FlexGround: The Optimal Solution for Mobility Without Sacrificing Speed. High Data Rates, Compact Terminals and Anti-Jamming Capabilities Ensure Mission Success—Even in the Most Austere Environments.
Flexible, Pay-As-You-Go Service Plans Combined with Global Availability Enable Troops to Rapidly and Cost-Efficiently Access Connectivity Around the World. Ground forces operate in an increasingly sophisticated, unpredictable environment, and the ability to instantaneously access high-data rate communications from even the most austere environments is critical to mission success. Many communications methods currently available have a cumbersome form factor, are expensive and do not satisfy the need for secure, high data rate bandwidth communications to the tactical edge. Intelsat General Communications (IGC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I) is changing this with today’s announcement of FlexGround, a new service that provides military troops around the world with fast, resilient and secure communications for mobility applications requiring compact terminals.
“Our new FlexGround service ensures that tactical users in remote environments around the world can stay connected,” said Skot Butler, president, Intelsat General. “The service’s high data rates and open architecture enable ground forces to use a wide array of ultra-portable antennas, providing them with the mission agility they need. The flexible service plans, pay-as-you-go option, and global availability enable troops to quickly access the connectivity they need whenever and wherever necessary.”
FlexGround supports a range of lightweight tactical and early entry user terminals, including Communications-On-The-Pause (COTP), Manpack and Emergency Responder communications. It enables data, voice and video communications including the ability to meet the High Definition Full-Motion Video (HD FMV) needs of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications.
Specifically, FlexGround delivers:
- A High-Performing, Resilient and Easily Accessible Network. Leveraging Intelsat’s multi-layered, Ku-band network and Intelsat EpicNG high-throughput satellite platform, FlexGround delivers unprecedented data rate transmissions enabling converged data, voice and video communications to the smallest, land mobile terminals. The combination of very high data rates, between 3x and 10x the speed of existing satellite networks, and the very small terminals provide ground forces with the optimal solution for mobility without sacrificing speed.
- Unprecedented Flexibility, Efficiency and Affordability. FlexGround also enables government customers to select among several service options, allowing them to choose a plan that is based on their data-rate usage, geographic and budgetary needs, without having to make an upfront commitment. FlexGround offers a flexible pay-as you go option that provides a budget friendly cost structure. The flexible service options provide for a full-time lease for long duration missions, or usage based on-demand service for limited-duration needs such as emergency response.
- Advanced Interference Mitigation Capabilities. Intelsat EpicNG satellites have smaller spot beams and an advanced digital payload which helps to quickly identify and mitigate attempts to disrupt signals in the field. Anti-jamming capabilities, combined with multiple layers of resiliency provided by Intelsat’s global network, ensure always-on connectivity, secure communications, and most importantly, a layer of security for the people who depend on them. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
12 Sep 19. Britain kicks off competition to manage ground stations for next Skynet satellite program. Britain’s defense secretary has fired the starting gun on an industry competition to manage the ground station element of the £6bn Skynet 6 communications satellite program.
“I can announce the launch of a new competition for an industry partner to operate and manage the ground stations, infrastructure and technology involved in this [Skynet 6] program,” Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said in a speech at the DSEI defense exhibition in London Wednesday.
The invitation to industry players could see incumbent ground service provider Airbus lose the contract after more than 15 years operating ground stations and satellites in the Skynet 5 private finance initiative deal with the British Ministry of Defence.
The ground station service deal with Airbus comes to an end in 2022.
Earlier MoD briefings to industry said they envisioned a contract award to the winning bidder around August next year.
Julian Knight, head of networks at the MoD’s Information Systems and Services organization said the government was about to enter a vital phase of the program.
“We are seeking an innovative partner that will ensure effective and consistent defense satellite communications and will look to continually maximize performance and value for money,” he said. “The successful bidder will also negotiate the MoD’s access to commercial satellite services, as well as managing the U.K.’s contribution and access to systems owned and operated by the U.K.’s allies,” said Knight.
Ken Peterman, president of government systems at Viasat, said he was pleased at the references to commercial capabilities being adopted as part of the program.
“We are very encouraged by today’s Skynet 6 announcement as it further demonstrates the value of commercial satellite trajectories and the need for an ecosystem that will allow war fighters to use both commercial and MoD purpose-built capabilities as one seamless enterprise.”
It’s not clear whether the British intend to use the Skynet 6 ground stations for non-communications satellite applications in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sector.
Airbus wasted no time officially declaring it would be bidding for what’s known as the service delivery element of the Skynet 6 program, and rivals are expected to follow suit in the next few weeks.
“Airbus has an outstanding track record of being the pioneer of secure mil satcoms within a commercial framework….We look forward to offering the MoD a modernized and enhanced service with Skynet 6,” said the European-based company in a statement.
Inmarsat, Viasat, Serco, Lockheed Martin UK and others are also expected to submit bids either leading or partnering in competing consortia.
A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin U Kconfirmed the company is “interested in participating” in the service delivery competition.
The service delivery element of the program is the first part of a wider Skynet 6 program also planned to include a raft of capabilities to provide next generation non-line of sight communications.
The competition for that element, known as enduring capability, is expected to get underway with an invitation to tender in the first quarter of 2020.
Some of the same companies interested in the ground station portion of the deal will be pitching for the future capability requirement.
Airbus is the main satellite player here but Lockheed Martin has been ramping up its U.K. space credentials and others like Viasat are also rapidly expanding their presence.
Airbus, the European space leader, has already secured a contract with the British to provide a new satellite known as Skynet 6A for capabilities to supplement the four Skynet 5 satellites currently in operation. Airbus was selected for 6A without a competition over a year ago, but the deal has yet to be signed.
A spokesman for Airbus in the U.K. confirmed the satellite contract had not been sealed but said he was optimistic the deal would be completed by the end of the year. The in service date for the satellite is targeted for mid2025.
Beefing up space capabilities has become a top priority for the British and the threat posed by rival nations was referenced by service chiefs speaking at the DSEI show.
Wallace referenced it as well.
“Today we’re having to deal with increasing threats to satellite-based navigation and the need for robust communications has never been more vital,” he said. “That’s why we’re developing Skynet 6, which will give our forces unparalleled capacity to talk to each other in any hostile environment.”
The British announced earlier this year they are collaborating with the U.S. on a project known as Artemis, aimed at researching the military potential of launching a constellation of small satellites.
The goal is to launch a demonstrator vehicle within 12 months. Small satellite development is pretty much dominated by the British, primarily through the Airbus owned Surrey Satellites Technology.
The British are also the first international partner to formally sign up for a little talked about U.S.-led coalition effort called Operation Olympic Defender, aimed at strengthening allies’ ability to deter hostile actions by nations like Russia and China.
Despite the new urgency to build a space capability, the British have still not published their long awaited space defense strategy detailing how the military intends to develop its space thinking in the decade ahead.
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, who recently took over as the chief of the air staff, declined to say when the document might surface or why its publication has been delayed for more than a year.
Industry executives though were more forthcoming. One executive, who asked not to be named, said one of the principal reasons for the delay was the haggling between Joint Forces Command and the Royal Air Force over who would end up controlling Britain’s military space activities. (Source: Defense News)
13 Sep 19. European Investment Bank to partner with European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) have signed an agreement to co-operate and support investment in the European space-based service economy. The signature took place in Prague during the celebration to mark the 15th anniversary of GSA. To explore new investment support for the European space-based economy, the EIB and GSA are bringing together their expertise and experience. The common objective is to create high-skill jobs in the EU and improve the day-to-day lives of Europeans by supporting innovative companies and accelerating the development of new applications that use European global navigation satellite systems and Earth observation data.
These applications could be used to ensure smooth navigation e.g. in search and rescue operations to save lives, for observing crops, and in precision farming to reduce the need for fertilisers and pesticides.
EIB vice president Ambroise Fayolle welcomed the partnership, saying, “Space is the final frontier, and there is a new worldwide ambition in reaching it. The EU’s global competitors and new private actors are investing heavily in the space sector. At the same time, new disruptive technologies and business models are emerging and changing the playing field.
“We need to make sure that Europe stays in the game. That is why we are particularly enthusiastic about this agreement with GSA. It is an important step to develop further support for European space entrepreneurs and businesses to eventually give them and the EU a competitive edge in this new space race.”
The global space economy has been evolving rapidly in recent years. On average it has grown by 6.7 per cent per year over the last 10 years, which is almost twice the 3.5 per cent average yearly growth of the global economy. This growth has been partially driven by the US, China and other countries that have developed new ambitious space missions.
The main driver, however, has been the ‘New Space’ phenomenon: a number of technological and business model innovations that have introduced new products and services and reduced the cost of accessing and using space.
Carlo des Dorides, GSA executive director, expanded on the new partnership, saying, “Our expertise in market intelligence for satellite navigation and in supporting new business opportunities – thanks to EGNOS and Galileo – is the basis of our agreement with the EIB. We are confident that our co-operation will bring the extra added value required by entrepreneurs to transform their application businesses into globally successful companies.”
The EIB is the European Union’s bank, the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union member states. It works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy and is the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lender.
The EIB provides finance and expertise for sustainable investment projects that contribute to EU policy objectives. More than 90 per cent of its activity is in Europe. Since 2009, the bank has lent over €1 billion to space-related projects.
As an official European Union regulatory agency, the GSA is in charge of managing the operations and service provision of Galileo and EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service), ensuring that European citizens get the most out of Europe’s satellite navigation programs in terms of innovation, competitiveness, economic growth and benefit to users.
GSA is Europe’s link between space technology and user needs. It works together with institutions, industry, service providers, SMEs, entrepreneurs and research institutions to respond to users’ needs and provide a satellite navigation service able to ignite a broad range of applications using location-based services and serve the user communities. (Source: Space Connect)
10 Sep 19. Avanti and Arabsat agree spectrum resolution. Avanti and Arabsat have reached an agreement that will allow both companies to operate their respective satellites – Avanti’s HYLAS 2 and HYLAS 3 and Arabsat’s 6A.
The resolution follows successful inter-operator talks in Cyprus concerning HYLAS 2 and 3, located at 31E, and the Arabsat 6A satellite located at 30.5E – as well as the associated networks in the frequency bands 17.7-20.2 GHz and 27.5-30.0 GHz.
The respective communications authorities in the UK and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ofcom and the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), have notified the agreement to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which settles the dispute amicably. This was done on the basis of a range of engineering and spectrum usage solutions.
The two operators can continue to provide vital communications to their customers, free from interference. The news comes at an important time for both businesses as they have recently launched new satellites – Avanti’s HYLAS 3 and Arabsat’s 6A.
The ITU process played a crucial role in the settlement. Avanti and Arabsat want to express their appreciation for the efforts of their communications authorities (Ofcom and the CITC), the ITU Radio Bureau and the Radio Regulatory Board.
Avanti’s CEO Kyle Whitehill said: “Avanti and Arabsat have been working together constructively since the start of the year, under the auspices of the ITU, to find a solution that enables both companies to serve their core markets. The agreement with Arabsat on HYLAS 2 and 3, combined with HYLAS 4 – which was unaffected by these discussions – puts Avanti in an optimal position to continue to serve its existing customers and to expand confidently in the future.”
Arabsat’s CEO Khalid Balkheyour commented “Our teams’ coordination meetings were held in a very professional way that resulted into a productive agreement.” “We are looking towards more future business cooperation and partnerships.”
12 Sep 19. ACT government to provide $1m grant for satellite constellation development. The ACT government has signed an agreement to provide a $1m grant to UNSW-based Skykraft to develop a satellite constellation as the national space race heats up.
Skykraft, a company that spun out of the University of NSW in Canberra, designs and manufactures small satellite (SmallSat) constellations for a broad range of space-based services.
Skykraft managing director James Prior said the ACT government’s grant would enable the company to begin immediate conceptualisation and design work for a SmallSat constellation providing global air traffic management capabilities.
He said this early definition work was significant as it established a tangible project for supply chain development and the creation of new space capabilities in the ACT.
“Importantly, this has enabled Skykraft to sign a memorandum of understanding with Spanish multinational technology company Indra for the design, manufacture and operation of this SmallSat constellation,” Prior said.
“I am excited about where this will lead. It places Skykraft in a unique position to establish a space-based global service in a niche market.”
The $1m ACT government contribution, alongside another $1.2m in cash and in kind from Skykraft, UNSW and Xtek, will position the company to tap into the development and manufacture of 200 SmallSats that will form this constellation.
The funding has been awarded as part of the ACT government’s Priority Investment Program and follows the signing of a strategic partnership between Skykraft and Equatorial Launch Australia.
This partnership brings together space industry skills and expertise from across Australia, enabling local companies to launch from Australia.
Skykraft draws on the extensive expertise and heritage of UNSW Canberra’s team of more than 50 engineers and academic staff, who are responsible for the design, construction and operations of the Buccaneer, M1, M2PF and M2 CubeSats. (Source: Space Connect)
10 Sep 19. Strategic partnership for Kythera and Clearbox. Clearbox Systems, prime contractor for the ADF’s SATCOM ground control element, and Kythera Space Solutions, a provider of dynamic management systems for next-generation satellites and networks, have entered into a strategic partnership to offer a joint space and ground control solution that supports ADF’s SATCOM vision and roadmap.
The future SATCOM operational environment is demanding, congested and contested. To meet the challenge, ADF requires SATCOM solutions that provide dynamic, responsive, resilient communications that are highly flexible, agile, interoperable and supportable.
The Clearbox-Kythera solution leverages Clearbox’s full complement of ground control systems that support ADF today, coupled with Kythera’s advanced Dynamic Satellite Network Operating System to enable autonomous satellite operations that dynamically delivers optimised communications service with unprecedented levels of flexibility, agility and resiliency.
The Clearbox-Kythera solution promises to usher in a new era of assured mission supportability for ADF, with the ability to exploit the latest flexible, processor-enabled, high throughput satellites (HTS), as well as legacy in-orbit assets to provide the highest quality communications service and minute-by-minute adaptability to changes in operational needs, environmental conditions and threats.
Jeremy Hallett, executive director at Clearbox Systems, said, “The ADF’s next generation SATCOM systems are increasingly complex, and ADF is rightly demanding solutions that provide flexibility and agility as well as resilience and redundancy.
“Kythera’s Dynamic Space Network Operating System enables us to meet these challenges head-on, providing ADF with unprecedented levels of dynamic, predictive and responsive satellite service.”
Dr Jeffrey Freedman, CEO of Kythera, expanded on this, saying, “The ADF talks about needing to be able to build a next-generation SATCOM service capable of responding to mission changes and adverse changes in capability within minutes.
“This is exactly what Kythera’s Dynamic Space Network Operating System is designed to do. With Clearbox, we are able to orchestrate space network assets and ground network components in real-time for optimised mission performance under the most demanding circumstances.”
Clearbox Systems is a technology company focused on developing new approaches and techniques for the operation and management of communications networks and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Developed in Australia and leveraging the best of the nation’s local and international partners, Clearbox Systems’ innovative software and hardware solutions are deployed spanning satellite communications, television and radio broadcast, air traffic control, terrestrial networks and intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare.
Kythera Space Solutions is a leading provider of dynamic management systems for next generation satellite payloads and networks. Sophisticated communication satellites with channelisation and beam forming capabilities promise satellite operators and their customers extraordinary flexibility, but at the risk of newfound complexity. (Source: Space Connect)
11 Sep 19. Australian military satellites vulnerable to cyber attack: ASPI. Australia needs to be prepared for cyber attacks that could take out satellites delivering key defence capabilities, including navigation, surveillance and communications, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has warned.
ASPI senior analyst Malcolm Davis said the ADF relied heavily on satellites and their loss would render it unable to fight in a joint and integrated manner or to take a modern, information-based approach to warfare.
“It would force us back to a more industrial level of warfare, where casualties are high, hostilities prolonged, and victory is anything but assured,” he said in an article on the ASPI The Strategist blog.
Dr Davis said a number of countries including Russia and China were developing counter-space capabilities including ground and space-based soft kill, including jamming and spoofing, laser dazzling and, most worryingly, cyber attack.
Countries like China and Russia, and even Iran and North Korea, were highly experienced in cyber warfare and directing such attacks against satellites was something they could do now and at relatively low cost, he said.
Non-state actors, including terrorist groups, could also strike at the heart of US and allied military capability.
“The nature of cyber warfare means that a state can conduct ‘grey zone’ operations in orbit with a low risk of detection or even complete anonymity,” Dr Davis said.
“And it doesn’t require a declaration of war. Vulnerabilities in supply chains, for example, could be exploited months or even years before a conflict begins, particularly if Western states depend on foreign suppliers of vital components.
“The reliance of Western armed forces on commercial satellites to augment bandwidth makes this an even greater concern.”
Dr Davis said effects of a cyber attack could be swift, delivering a first-strike advantage.
He said Australia must prepare for such attacks and understanding the threat was the first step.
“Australia’s defence and strategic policy community must ask how cyber warfare in space might emerge and what the likely impact of cyber attacks on satellites will be, both on the ADF’s ability to fight and on Australian society more broadly,” he said.
“Analysis must also be undertaken on how can the ADF respond to this threat.”
Dr Davis said how Australia could play a role alongside the US by burden-sharing to meet the cyber threat in orbit was an issue that needed further thought.
He said India’s test of an anti-satellite weapon in March led to an international outcry because it generated space debris and went against desired norms towards non-weaponisation of space.
“Soft-kill threats such as cyber attacks are more insidious and potentially more dangerous because they can be used without the fallout of space debris and offer scalable, potentially reversible effects,” he said.
“Australia must understand and meet the challenge of soft-kill counter-space threats to its critical space systems, including those in the cyber domain.” (Source: Space Connect)
09 Sep 19. Dunford: Spacecom Allows U.S. to Retain ‘High Ground.’ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presided over the presentation of the colors of U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said at today’s ceremony that reestablishing Spacecom is supremely important, allowing the United States to retain the high ground in this new world of warfare.
Space is now contested, and for security’s sake, the United States must retain its leadership in that domain, the chairman said.
Dunford looked back in history, noting that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, in 1957. In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. The United States correctly felt the nation was “falling behind in technological capability,” the general said.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy energized the nation, saying the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The cooperation of all branches of government and industry saw that goal succeed with Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969.
The U.S. military is facing another “Sputnik moment” today, Dunford said.
After decades of uncontested access to space, Russia and China pose challenges — developing electronic, directed energy weapons, as well as anti-satellite capabilities and more.
“The reestablishment of Space Command should be understood as part of a broader effort to maintain our nation’s competitive advantage in space,” the chairman said.
U.S. Space Command is an integral part of today’s National Security Strategy. Great power competition with Russia and China has returned. Iran and North Korea pose lesser, but still dangerous, challenges. Space Command must deter enemies from challenging U.S. space capabilities, and, if that fails, be able to soundly defeat any threat.
We formed this command as a foundational element of more effective joint warfighting.”
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“The competitive advantage we enjoyed after the Cold War has eroded,” Dunford said. “For the last two decades, our adversaries have studied us and developed capabilities designed to exploit what they perceive to be our vulnerabilities. That dynamic has been particularly evident in space.” Space is key to military command and control, missile warning, navigation, targeting and overall military capabilities.
Maintaining dominance in space means the United States will be able to fight and win on future battlefields. “We didn’t reestablish Space Command simply to compete in space,” Dunford said. “We formed this command as a foundational element of more effective joint warfighting.”
In his remarks, Spacecom Commander Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond said this is a strategic inflection point for the military. “There is nothing that we do as a joint force that isn’t enabled by space, and yet we can no longer have the luxury of assuming space superiority,” he said. The new command will focus on retaining and maintaining that superiority, he said.
Raymond said the new combatant command is built on the frame of the first U.S. Space Command, which was formed in 1985 and deactivated in 2002. But it is not the command of 2002, he added, because the world has changed. The command has been built “to compete, deter and plan in an extremely complex and quickly evolving strategic environment,” he said.
The command will deter conflict from beginning in or extending into space, Raymond said, and it will defend U.S. and allied interests. “To meet the new National Defense Strategy, the new Space Command has a much sharper focus on offensive and defensive operations,” he said.
The command will deliver space combat power to the joint and combined force, the general said, and it will develop ready and lethal space forces.
“A warrior ethos is a combat enabler,” he said. “We will take our existing space warfighting culture — established in the original Space Command, honed in the Cold War, hardened in the many conflicts since, and adapted to today’s strategic environment. We will further embed that warfighting culture in our greatest resource: our people,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
04 Sep 19. US Army Leaders Aren’t Waiting for Space Force to Invest in Low-Orbit Weapons. Army senior leaders on Wednesday mapped out the service’s plans to equip combat brigades with sophisticated space capabilities, following the Pentagon’s recent reiteration of support for establishing a U.S. Space Force.
Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said that the service has invested roughly $300m across the next five fiscal years in “low-Earth orbit” satellites to provide precision targeting.
McCarthy’s comments came about a week after the Pentagon activated United States Space Command — the first step in a larger space effort involving a proposal before Congress to create a U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.
“As we work our way through this Space Command and the pursuit of Space Force — this merger that is going in the Department of Defense — we recognize … some of this capability needs to be organic, particularly targeting capability,” McCarthy told an audience at the Defense News Conference near Washington, D.C.
Related: Pentagon Activates Space Command to Prepare for War in the Final Frontier
Leaders will work out over time “what will stay organic to the Army and what will ultimately go to this new organization if we get through this with the Congress,” he added.
In the interim, the Army is investing in several low-Earth orbit satellites, to be tested over the next 12 to 14 months at service installations such as the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.
“The intent is to bring that capability down to the brigade combat team echelon — something that you would have only seen as [a colonel] in a tiered Special Operations Command unit,” McCarthy said. “This capability is essential for our long-range precision fires portfolio.”
Gen. James McConville, the Army’s new chief of staff, said that the service is a “big user of space.”
“We are very dependent, from communications to precision navigation and timing, to early warning to targeting, so we want to make sure we are tied in well as we develop the Space Force,” he said.
But there may be Army-specific requirements for long-range targeting for the service to develop separately, McConville said.
“It’s just like all of the services, where maybe our priorities … for targeting certain weapon systems don’t meet the other services’ requirements or the space requirements, so we may invest in that ourselves,” he said. (Source: Military.com)
09 Sep 19. USAF awards funding to CRA for space situational awareness app. The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded funding to Charles River Analytics (CRA) to develop its augmented reality (AR) application to support the maintenance of space assets. CRA will use the additional funding to develop its Space Operation Visualizations Leveraging Augmented Reality (SOLAR) app to help improve situational awareness for operators.
The company highlighted the need for advanced software tools to allow operators to accurately track space assets and enable them to support military operations in space.
The entry of several nations in the space domain in the past decade has increased the need for greater importance on monitoring assets for potential threats.
Charles River Analytics Senior Scientist and SOLAR principal investigator Dr Michael Jenkins said: “Operators can make faster and more confident decisions with SOLAR because it fuses proven human-computer interaction technologies with next-gen augmented reality displays.
“SOLAR also offers intuitive visualisations and a workflow-centric graphical user interface. With SOLAR, operators can quickly make sense of outputs from novel AI, machine learning, and other advanced analytic tools developed by both Charles River Analytics and third-party companies.”
The firm developed SOLAR as part of the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Hallmark programme, an initiative to develop real-time systems and capabilities to meet challenges in space domain awareness.
The objective of the programme is to equip troops with the capability to collect and analyse space situational awareness data to improve decision-making in the space domain.
CRA and its partners developed the PICASSA analytic tool under Hallmark to improve understanding of the space environment.
The tool uses probabilistic modelling and simulation to enhance the detection of threats.
The company will demonstrate the SOLAR app at this year’s Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference in the US. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
09 Sep 19. Boeing [NYSE: BA] unveiled its 702X family of software-defined satellites, highlighting a 1,900kg variant for geosynchronous orbit. The 702X technology enables operators to adapt to changing market conditions by dynamically allocating bandwidth.
The 702X builds on Boeing’s existing success with the 702 series satellites. The 702X platform incorporates a mature design, with a medium Earth orbit version already in production. Advanced manufacturing processes dramatically reduce cost and schedule risk while allowing the 702X to be delivered to customers within three years.
The 702X satellites will allow operators to distribute capacity to a variety of end users, connecting businesses, ships, airplanes, autonomous vehicles and broadband internet users around the world. “Satellites are, and will continue to be, an integral part of our data-driven society,” said Eric Jensen, vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Satellites. “The 702X gives our customers the tools necessary to evolve with the market.”
The 702X is available to customers today. Boeing estimates the first 702X geosynchronous variant will be operational as soon as 2022.
05 Sep 19. Spectacular Image and Video Capture of Earth Managed by Raspberry Pi Camera Aboard SSTL’s DoT-1 Satellite. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) has released an image and video of the Earth captured from LEO by a commercial grade Raspberry Pi camera and computer on board a Demonstration of Technology satellite called DoT-1 that was launched to orbit via a Soyuz rocket in July of 2019.
The image is of the Mediterranean Sea, targeted over the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, and is believed to be the first acquired in LEO by a commercial, off-the-shelf, Raspberry Pi camera. Coincidentally, the image is remarkably similar in location to SSTL’s first image from space, acquired by the UoSAT-1 satellite in 1981. The video (available at youtu.be/SzmKks0nqTU) captures an area of Europe that includes the coasts of France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany with Denmark visible to the right and the UK obscured by heavy cloud cover to the left.
While the primary objective of the 17.5 kg., self-funded, DoT-1 satellite is to demonstrate SSTL’s new Core Data Handling System (Core-DHS) — accommodation was made available for some additional experimental payloads including the Raspberry Pi camera experiment, which was designed and implemented in conjunction with the Surrey Space Centre.
After image capture using the camera, the data was stored on the Raspberry Pi computer and then downlinked to SSTL’s ground station in Guildford via the Core-DHS. The new Core-DHS is designed to provide the same level of functionality as SSTL’s heritage equivalent avionics stack, but with a significantly reduced mass and volume, and it consolidates the S-Band Transmitter and Receiver, Global Positioning System, Attitude & Orbit Control System, Interface Module and Bridge and On Board Computer into one module.
In designing the new Core-DHS, emphasis was placed on ensuring the module is fast to manufacture, test and integrate and, through the architecture and choice of devices, there is also a reduction in power consumption versus the individual equivalent units. The use of the Core-DHS throughout SSTL’s platform range will ensure continuity in software architecture and operations and it is intended that this key building block will be supporting missions beyond LEO orbit and into GEO and Lunar orbits.
The DoT-1 satellite is an SSTL-Micro platform and is also flying further experimental payloads as part of SSTL’s ongoing R&D program. Further details of these experiments will be released in due course.
Sarah Parker, Managing Director of SSTL said the company is delighted with the success of the new, Core-DHS-based avionics which will give the firm’s customers the benefits of SSTL’s heritage avionics stack, but in a lower form factor to deliver improved power consumption and lower launch costs. The success of the Raspberry Pi camera experiment is an added bonus that can now be evaluated for future missions where it could be used for spacecraft “selfies” to check the operation of key equipment as well as for outreach activities.
The 2020 SmallSat Symposium starts on February 3, 2020, with workshops, then the Conference runs February 4 to 6 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The SmallSat Symposium is hosted by Satnews Publishers which, since 1983, has been a provider of a satellite news, media and events. This information packed forum was created to enable you and your company to secure a larger portion of market share as well as to take part in the next stages of your company’s or organization’s growth.
The personal connections at the SmallSat Symposium enable attendees to network with established organizations, subject-matter experts as well as ‘New Space’ entrants.
The SmallSat Symposium will focus on new technologies and the business environment that is shaping the implementation of smallsat constellations, smallsat launchers, the challenges facing the smallsat developer and actors as well as the enormous benefits of these advanced technologies that will benefit our world.
This event assembles more than 100 diverse speakers, all of whom possess deep industry experience. Additionally, numerous opportunities exist to mingle and network with peers while enjoying exceptional, complimentary meals and refreshment breakfast. (Source: Satnews)
01 Sep 19. ChinaSat-18 a Total Loss. ChinaSat-18 has been declared a total loss with an impact on the insurance industry of some $250m (226.4m euros) according to a posting by journalist Chris Forrester at the Advanced Television infosite. The satellite, the first in a new generation of craft to serve the Chinese DTH market, was launched on August 19 from the Xichang space center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The rocket appeared to work correctly, and initial reports were very slow to materialize and, 24 hours later, the Chinese were admitting there were abnormalities with the mission.
The Chinese-built High Throughput satellite is the first to use the enhanced DFH-4E satellite core and was designed for a 15-year lifetime in orbit. It was equipped with both Ku- and Ka-band technology.
It seems the satellite’s important solar panels failed to deploy. The craft was insured via the China People’s Property Insurance, which was the chief underwriter for the satellite. (Source: Satnews)
04 Sep 19. Partnership Between Hyperion Technologies and the Indian Technology Congress Association to Launch 75 Smallsats. On September 4, 2019, the Indian Technology Congress Association (ITCA) and Hyperion Technologies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together on an Indian student satellite program.
ITCA’s national initiative is backed by India’s vision for the year 2022, when the country completes 75 years of Independence. The resulting “Engineer Your Satellite” Program (EYS) is designed to build and launch 75 student satellites, integrating global best practices with frugal innovations, with the goal of achieving safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from LEO.
Thanks to the partnership between ITCA and Hyperion, students will gain better access to technical enhancements to develop a small satellite network constellation. In addition, they will receive expert support, mentoring and consultancy from the two parties. The collaboration will extend into the design and development of collaborative research projects related to the space industry, as well as into the organisation of relevant international events, workshops and competitions.
The signing ceremony occurred on September 4, 2019, at the Indian Technology Congress in Bangalore, India, in the presence of Ms. Akanksha Sharma, Senior Policy Officer at the Consulate General of the Kingdom of The Netherlands Bengaluru, and Mrs. Pramitha Ramaprakash, Chief Technology, ITCA.
Mr. Shanmugam, Chief Policy, ITCA, said the organization is happy to welcome Hyperion Technologies as a strategic partner and stakeholder. Their high performance ADCS solution is the perfect complement to the Engineer Your Satellite program and their expertise and knowledge in designing products primarily for small spacecraft aligns perfectly with the ITCA mission. Hyperion’s digital social workplace innovation fills the organization’s small satellite ecosystem need for solutions that make students more productive.
Bert Monna, CEO of Hyperion Technologies, added that the company is honored to be part of this ambitious program in the light of India’s Independence anniversary. Working with India’s high-tech universities will bring the company forward to test new technologies and to be on the cutting-edge. (Source: Satnews)
14 Jun 19. Cybersecurity from Space: Canada Invests in Quantum Technology. Our digital economy depends on keeping data safe from hackers, and cybersecurity is a priority for the Government of Canada. The Canadian Space Agency’s Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission will test quantum technology that protects communications in space. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is awarding a contract worth $30m to Honeywell for the design and implementation phases of the QEYSSat mission, according to today’s press release issued by the CSA. Current encryption methods are expected to be rendered obsolete within the next decade by the exceptional processing power of quantum computers. Slated for launch in 2022, QEYSSat will demonstrate quantum key distribution (QKD) technology in space. This emerging encryption technology will offer Canada a new, more effective method of securing the transfer of information.
Under this contract, Honeywell will build, test, deliver, provide training for and commission the QEYSSat satellite, which will create a link between ground and space to transmit encryption keys. The work is expected to extend until the end of 2022.
The QEYSSat mission is the culmination of a series of research and technology development activities undertaken by the Institute for Quantum Computing, with support from the Government of Canada. It will bring Canada a step closer to an operational quantum communications service from space, and will advance technology to help meet Canada’s cybersecurity priorities.
The lessons learned from the QEYSSat mission will be applied to develop future operational systems for government and provide safer, more secure access to services for Canadians. Commercial applications will include enhanced security for internet-based activities, as well as daily financial transactions such as ATM banking.
In addition to the safety and security principle of Canada’s Digital Charter, this initiative aligns with the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan and the new Space Strategy for Canada through enabling future secure communications, as well as enhancing security and sovereignty.
“The QEYSSat mission is another step forward in our government’s plan to foster a Canada where citizens have confidence that their data is safe and privacy is respected. In doing so, the development of these new technologies will also bring tremendous potential to transform markets and build a stronger economy that works for everyone,” The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, stated in the release. Current quantum encryption technology (QKD), relies on ground fibre-optic cables and is currently limited to a 200-kilometer distance. QEYSSat will seek to demonstrate QKD between a satellite and a ground network as a way to overcome the distance limits. Through testing and demonstration of the QKD in space, the CSA will provide a government-owned, space-based platform for federal stakeholders and Canada’s scientific community. (Source: Satnews/https://insidegnss.com/)
06 Sep 19. Space Expansion Presents Opportunities, Challenges for DOD. As more nations, businesses and militaries become involved in space, the amount of data that will become available will also increase, as will challenges and opportunities for the Defense Department, a panel of defense intelligence experts said yesterday.
“All the potential information that will be accessible on demand anywhere around the world will be exciting,” said Stacey Dixon, deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, during the Intelligence and National Security Summit, Sept. 5, at National Harbor, Maryland.
More daunting, she said, is what resources will be needed to create tools to use and store all that new data.
“We know that we can’t expand the number of people to be able to look at everything,” Dixon said. “So, it’s about really moving towards having that machine/human teaming, which provides a lot of other new challenges in the way we do things.”
She also said there will be opportunities to leverage partners — not just for the sensors they have, but for how they see fit to use the data created.
Tina Harrington, director of signals intelligence at the National Reconnaissance Office, said private sector advancements in space will allow the government to focus on “the things that we and we alone need to do, not the things that others can do.”
Harrington noted that adversaries will also operate in the new space domain. The U.S. will need to treat them the same way it treats their involvement in air, sea and land — “understanding what adversaries are doing, but we are not going to stop them,” she said.
Increased opportunities in space by industry can also be exploited by the DOD, said Maj. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of Air Force Space Command.
“The economic engines have been unleashed,” he said. “I hope that they are sustained, and that we would simply want to leverage the best of that from a government perspective and realize there are challenges associated … providing security in that environment, incentivizing further economic investment, but also being prepared for new threats.”
One risk of new ventures into space involves concern over the validity of data — ensuring, for instance, that it’s not compromised.
Dixon said industry must acknowledge that everyone is a target for somebody else. Transparency in what they’re doing about cybersecurity, she said, “will help us as a consumer of the information and the capabilities [they’re] providing.”
Still, she said, the government must take on the responsibility of validating the data it uses.
Harrington said she’s concerned with how data integrity and complexities in the supply chain might affect intelligence-gathering, especially when considering who is manufacturing tools or components of tools used to collect, process and store information.
“Supply chain is probably one of my biggest risk areas … [given] the number of things that have gone offshore,” she said.
Young people are really excited about space again. When we go to these recruitment activities there are a lot of folks very interested in getting into the government side in space.”
Tina Harrington, director of signals intelligence, National Reconnaissance Office
For example, Harrington said, if U.S.-based suppliers no longer see manufacturing a particular component as a viable business model, and those components are being supplied by an unverifiable vendor, “that very much hurts us from a government perspective.”
It’s not just government that needs to be concerned, either, she said. Top-level suppliers purchase subcomponents from their own pool of vendors.
“We want to know they have a trusted supply chain as well,” Harrington said.
Despite increased commercial interest in space — billions are being spent in the private sector, and competition for talent in that sector is increasing — Harrington said she’s not concerned the allure of money in the private sector will keep new talent from knocking on government’s door.
“Young people are really excited about space again,” she said. “When we go to these recruitment activities there are a lot of folks very interested in getting into the government side in space.”
Dixon noted that 300 interns have recently done work with NGA, and those young people are excited about what they saw.
“Many of those end up converting to government,” she said. “There are people who are still interested in coming though and working government missions and will sacrifice the potential money they can make somewhere else for that opportunity.”
Both Harrington and Dixon said a different challenge looms — the possibility that changes in the workforce will mean new talent will be interested in moving back and forth between government and the private sector throughout their careers.
“We need to be ready for that, so that it’s good for their career and it’s good for us,” Harrington said. (Source: US DoD)
10 Sep 19. Mission Microwave Technologies, LLC, a manufacturer of highly efficient Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs) and Block Up Converters (BUCs) and Intellian, the global leader of mobile satellite communication antenna systems, confirmed their progress in building extremely high throughput terminals for newly launched Ka band capacity and the completion of early deployment trials on a LEO constellation.
Intellian have designed high capacity mobile terminals for the rapidly growing Ka-band HTS (High Throughput Satellite) market and needed to be able to offer high power Ka-band solutions to support wide bandwidths and up to 32-ary advance modulation schemes. Based on Intellian’s prior and on ongoing work with Mission Microwave the companies have aligned their engineering efforts to create an exceptional product offer for maritime, mobile and LEO/MEO satellite operators.
Mission Microwave is providing a range of Ka and Ku-band Block Upconverters to Intellian with power levels up to 400 watts. Mission’s core capabilities in designing compact and highly efficient amplifiers have enabled Intellian to produce high performance terminals with industry leading efficiency and reliability that are now operating over HTS and LEO networks.
“We have developed a working relationship with Intellian that is beneficial to our joint customer base of satellite operators, service providers and end-users. Both companies’ have found a common goal in building a loyal and successful customer base using the most advanced technology available and providing those technologies in a commercial product with a proven long-term value..” said Steve Richeson, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Mission Microwave. “Intellian’s engineers have a thorough understanding of the requirements for mobile and tracking terminals and our team enjoyed working with them to overcome the challenges for this demanding commercial application of our products.”
“Our customers demand that we provide them with optimal solutions in terms of reliability, price and performance. The Mission Microwave products have inspired the industry with their dramatic increases in performance and reliability in an efficient and elegantly designed package. Intellian have found the Mission Microwave BUCs to be an enabling technology to help us serve our customers better and to expand into new market segments.” commented Intellian executive Jim Hatcher, Senior Director of Product Management.
The terminal systems provided by Intellian will provide connectivity to new generation networks operating beyond the reach of high capacity terrestrial and traditional satellite services. Intellian’s terminals rely on Mission’s BUCs providing reliable high performance in a compact and efficient package with state-of-the-art monitor and control capabilities to assure terminal performance in a range of challenging environments.
Mission Microwave continues to be at the forefront of the satellite terminal industry in shipping high power Ku and Ka Band BUCs for mobile applications in ground, maritime and other applications for both government and commercial industry sectors that require high efficiency, reliability and performance. Mission Microwave is exhibiting September 13-16 at the International Broadcasting Convention at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.