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26 Sep 19. UNSW researchers to support Defence satellite capabilities. A team of researchers from UNSW Sydney has announced research and development of a next-generation satellite imagery capability, which will be used to help Defence determine the state of seas, amongst other applications. Real-time information about wild seas and unfavourable ocean conditions could be used to make shipping more safe and efficient, thanks to passive radar technology being developed by UNSW Sydney engineers. This new technology has also piqued the interest of the Australian Defence Force because of its ability to “see” through cloud and tree cover while maintaining radio silence – providing enhanced tactical and strategic capability for the ADF.
Professor Andrew Dempster of UNSW’s School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications has been developing and trialling a new type of receiver that looks for satellite navigation signals bounced from the Earth’s surface in a process called reflectometry.
Reflectometry looks at the GPS signals that come directly from satellites, as well as where, and at what angle, the signals bounce off the Earth’s surface. He and his colleagues have built four generations of receivers that are designed to look for these bounced GPS signals from satellites overhead.
“This most recent generation of our GPS receivers we have put into space aboard CubeSats,” said Professor Dempster, who is also director of the Australian Centre of Space Engineering Research.
CubeSats are miniaturised satellites used in space research, which are a fraction of the cost to launch and maintain due to their tiny proportions – the UNSW-EC0 satellite was 10cm x 10cm x 20cm and about 2kg. A CubeSat fitted with “Namuru” or “Kea”, two of the receivers tested so far, is able to provide live analysis of the ocean conditions, or sea state, by recording bounced GPS signals from the sea’s surface.
Professor Dempster explained: “What we do is measure the delay from the satellite to surface and back to the receiver on the satellite. Because there are multiple facets on ocean waves that it can reflect from, it means that we get a wider response in that delay from the different angles where the signals are reflected. The rougher the seas, the wider the response. We also measure the Doppler frequency shift in those reflected signals.”
Using this information, someone looking at the information recorded by the receiver may be able to deduce the wave heights, direction of the waves, wave length (distance between waves), wind speed and wind direction.
Professor Dempster further explained the benefit for commercial and, by extension, naval operations: “As an example of how it could be useful, gas companies often refuel their big tankers out at sea, which means safety can be compromised by weather conditions. So, if you can refuel your ship for an extra half an hour because you have better knowledge of changes in sea state, then you can start putting a dollar value on what that time-saving means to your company.”
As well as sea conditions, the device can also pick up ships in the area because the GPS signal bounces off a vessel in a different way. “This is one of the reasons the ADF is interested in it,” Professor Dempster said.
“Five years ago, we took one of these receivers on a plane and flew it over a forest and recorded the raw signal and played it back through our new instrument. As we flew over the forest, we were able to pick out a power pylon, which would otherwise be hidden from view. This shows that infrastructure that stays hidden even in satellite images can now be detected,” Professor Dempster added.
The receiver could also be put to good use by integrating it with a remotely piloted aerial system, where it could be used potentially to map floods.
There is also potential for such capabilities to be integrated into high-altitude persistent systems, which fly autonomously at twice the altitude of regular aircraft and, being powered by solar, can stay flying for months. (Source: Defence Connect)
25 Sep 19. UK to invest £1.5m in space defence technology. The UK Government has announced it is pumping £1.5m into shortlisted projects from Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) competition to improve ‘resilience, awareness and capability in space’.
Out of the 60 companies that registered bids in the ‘Space to Innovate’ competition, 12 projects will receive funding.
In competition documents, the Defence And Security Accelerator (DASA) said: “The space environment is becoming increasingly congested and contested. Satellites are becoming smaller and are being launched more frequently. This creates many challenges as well as opportunities for defence and security.”
In response to this challenge, the technology under development covers a range of space systems from threat warning and detection to communications systems. The competition presented four challenges for the UK: technologies for defending future UK space assets, ‘novel sensing and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) enablers, characterisation of objects in space and their intent, and overcoming the technical issues of ‘Space to Sea Level’ optical communications.
Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced the funding at the UK Space Conference, in Wales, saying: “It’s vital we harness the ideas of the brightest and best innovators to improve the UK’s resilience and awareness in space.
“Faced with growing threats to UK interests, programmes like those selected today will boost our intelligence capability and help us stay ahead of our adversaries.”
Funding for the projects is coming from Dstl and the UK Space Agency intending to offer a ‘boost the surveillance capability of UK satellites and identify potentially hostile actors in space’.
Demonstrators from the competition will be shown at a demonstration day expected for summer next year where the government will award more funding for successful projects to be further developed.
Dstl chief executive Gary Aitkenhead said: “Our role at Dstl is to provide innovative solutions, underpinning science and technology to access the best space has to offer for defence and security, but also to protect our interests against growing threats.
“I am delighted that the competition has unearthed a breadth of UK expertise from a good mix of industry, academia, and SMEs. And I welcome the UK Space Agency’s investment which will ensure that the civilian market will also benefit”
The funding comes amid a recent push for further development of UK space-based assets, which has seen the UK establish a team to launch and control a small satellite constellation, £6bn set aside to develop SKYNET 6 and a £70m contract for QinetiQ to develop satellite receivers.
Projects that won funding from the government include an Oxford Space Systems project to change the radio frequency signature of satellites to confuse attackers, an MDA space and robotics system to warn satellites of incoming threats and a University of Warwick project that will use infrared sensors to classify objects in low-earth orbit.
The full list of funding recipients includes MDA Space and Robotics, Oxford Space Systems, University of Strathclyde, Harwell Associates Limited, University of Warwick, Fraunhofer UK, Teledyne e2v, VEOWARE, mBryonics, and QinetiQ. Two other companies have been awarded funding, although they have yet to be announced pending final contract discussions. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
25 Sep 19. Tasmania signs MOU with Australian Space Agency. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments, which will see the further development of Australia’s space industry.
Minister Andrews said the signing is an important step in integrating the work of the Australian Space Agency with Tasmanian efforts and capability – building on the government’s announcement of a $150m commitment to invest in the nation’s space sector, supporting NASA’s Moon to Mars mission.
“The space industry presents tremendous economic and job opportunities for Tasmania and all of Australia, especially after this week’s $150m commitment from the Morrison government to invest in Australian businesses to contribute to NASA’s Moon to Mars mission,” Minister Andrews said.
Minister Andrews added, “The agreement will support Tasmanian businesses and research institutions to participate in international space projects and missions, while supporting the development of space skills in the state’s workforce.”
Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said the signing was an exciting development and Tasmania was ready to participate fully in supporting local industries, job-creating investment and the national effort in space.
“Advanced manufacturing is a key economic driver for our state, and the government is firmly committed to maintaining the growth in this important sector, which directly employs around 18,500 Tasmanians.
“Today’s MOU, coupled with our strategies to grow our advanced manufacturing and science and technology industries, will further enhance Tasmania’s reputation for high-quality, niche products and give our businesses the confidence and opportunity to grow,” Mr Hodgman said.
The impact of this agreement was further expanded upon by Tasmanian Minister for Science and Technology Michael Ferguson, who said the state was well placed to participate in Australia’s growing space industry.
“Tasmania’s investment in new hypobaric facilities, growth of our advanced manufacturing skills base, our radio telescope network and our Antarctic gateway put Tasmania in a strong position,” he said.
The MOU will also support the rollout of the Space Infrastructure Fund starting this year, which will invest $1.2m in space-tracking facilities in Tasmania.
Minister Ferguson added, “Through signing this MOU, our tracking facilities will play an even more prominent role in the next chapter of space exploration.”
The fund will support the upgrade of existing infrastructure to commercial standard to allow precision tracking of satellites and spacecraft for orbit and de-orbit tracking.
This MOU will also build awareness of the geographical advantages of Tasmania for the space industry and the specialist capabilities the state brings to space science and remote medicine as pioneered by the Australian Antarctic Division.
The Commonwealth has invested $533.3m in Australia’s space capabilities as part of a plan to triple the size of the sector to $12bn and create an additional 20,000 new jobs by 2030. (Source: Space Connect)
24 Sep 19. Intel agency will test hyperspectral images from industry. The National Reconnaissance Office has awarded a commercial imagery study contract to HySpecIQ as a way to better understand the company’s imagery capabilities and how commercial hyperspectral images can fulfill some of the intelligence communities geospatial needs.
Hyperspectral images comprise light from hundreds of colors across the electromagnetic spectrum, giving any object a unique signature. Analysts can study individual pixels of an image to identify specific objects or materials.
“HySpecIQ is developing interesting new hyperspectral imaging capabilities that have the potential to contribute to our current and future overhead architecture,” said Pete Muend, director of the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office in a Sept. 23 statement.
The award is one of four study contracts the NRO has set up as it prepares for the next generation of commercial imagery procurements in 2020.
In 2017, the Trump administration announced that the NRO would be taking responsibility for purchasing commercial imagery for the intelligence community from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. As part of its efforts for preparing for commercial imagery procurements in 2020, the NRO announced in June that it had awarded three commercial imagery study contracts to BlackSky Global, Maxar Technologies and Planet. The HySpecIQ contract is the first award offered to a commercial hyperspectral imaging company and represents the NRO’s interest in expanding its commercial imagery purchasing to diverse phenomenologies, a move the NRO said it would make in June.
“The next step is going to be looking at other contractors and other phenomenologies, radar and others, that are just in the incubation period in the commercial world,” Troy Meink, the director of the NRO’s geospatial intelligence directorate, said at the time.
All four studies will help the agency understand the satellite imagery capabilities of the respective companies and determine whether they reach government requirements. The value of the awards was not included in the announcement. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
24 Sep 19. The Space Development Agency’s plans have changed. Here are the revisions. When the Space Development Agency formally launched in March, it was billed as a major step forward for the Pentagon’s growth in space, with an ambitious plan to launch hundreds of small satellites into orbit. But just four months into the job, Fred Kennedy, the group’s first director, quit, leading to questions about whether the strategy for which he advocated would last — or if the group itself had a future.
Derek Tournear, a space expert with a background in industry and stints at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as well as Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, stepped in to fill the void left by Kennedy’s departure. But while Kennedy’s vision is largely still intact, Tournear has tweaked it in ways he believes will better serve the Pentagon.
“There’s a lot of small changes,” Tournear told reporters Sept. 18 during the Air Force Association’s annual conference. “The biggest overall change is the ability to operate in a slightly higher LEO [low-Earth orbit] environment.”
One change involves the transport layer — a set of hundreds of satellites, each costing between $12m and $20m, which will provide the backbone of the Space Development Agency’s architecture. The transport layer was to sit in LEO at a height of about 400-500 kilometers. Under Tournear, that height shifted to about 1,000-1,500 kilometers, primarily due to advances in off-the-shelf electronics, he said.
That change “flows down throughout the entire architecture” and means fewer satellites are needed in each layer because of the coverage that extends as height increases. However, Tournear noted, the change in satellite numbers won’t be “significant” and will still involve something in the range of 200-300 systems on every layer of the SDA plan.
Other changes were driven by feedback from a July request for information, which Tournear said garnered more than 150 responses.
“We received a lot of technical data that we did not have before, that helped us mature what we think state of the art is for capabilities on the satellites. That will allow us to customize when we actually put out solicitations. A lot of that had to do with exactly what orbits, and the number of satellites, we needed to be able to field for different missions. And then we got another class of responses that were really focused on big-picture architecting on how you can get all these big systems to work together. And that certainly narrowed down what our architecture looks like now,” he said.
He noted that feedback is being factored in with “tranche 0,” a group of dozens of satellites planned to launch in fiscal 2022 as test beds for the broader transport layer.
One change the Pentagon hoped to see but didn’t get was a $15m reprogramming request. Congress rejected the request earlier this year. Tournear said the denial means the agency will stay on its current path instead of quickening existing processes.
“The reprogramming was only to accelerate our plan. Our plan [is] to hit those dates for fiscal 2022 and fiscal 2024: FY22 is our “tranche 0” (our training tranche), and “tranche 1” is FY24. That was always based on what was in the president’s budget request, which is the roughly $150m in FY20, no money in FY19. Since we didn’t get that reprogramming request, we didn’t get any money in FY19. It didn’t hurt that plan, but it did prevent us from accelerating beyond that plan.”
In the short term, the SDA is focused on getting a small-scale demo of the transport layer up and running, with two optical cross-links that share information among the satellites as well as beaming down to ground stations. Tournear said to expect contract solicits for that test to come “imminently,” followed by solicitations for experiments for tracking advanced missile threats. (Source: Defense News)
25 Sep 19. Black Sky Aerospace rockets towards manufacturing solid rocket boosters. Queensland-based Black Sky Aerospace has been given the green light by regulators to begin the process towards the manufacture of solid rocket motors. The South-East Queensland space company, based in the City of Logan, will be the first manufacturer of its kind in Australia and will be able to provide access to solid fuels for orbital and suborbital launch vehicles.
Solid rocket motors (SRMs) are the fuel (propellant) that boosts rockets into space, such as the boosters on the space shuttle, and is the preferred fuel to use by many space launch companies due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. SRMs are particularly useful, too, in the ever-emerging market that requires responsive access to space. This is because SRMs have a long shelf life and can be stockpiled with little upkeep, yet still be ready to use many months or years later.
Director of Black Sky, Blake Nikolic explained, “Our propulsion arm is integral to the bigger picture for us; without fuel, the industry stalls. Our SRM manufacturing provides industry with accessible rocket boosters, made right here in Queensland.”
Black Sky Aerospace has spent several years planning to step its operation over from the US to New Zealand, to its now permanent home in Logan, Queensland; opening both domestic and international markets for the product.
“This also allows us to continue with our testing and launch capabilities that we carry out at our facility in Goondiwindi,” Nikolic added.
The one-stop shop for SRM, testing and launch will make the logistics of space work and research far less challenging for companies looking to send their payloads in to lower-Earth orbit.
Logan City Council Director of Strategy and Sustainability, David Hansen, applauded Black Sky’s latest achievement and said Logan is positioning itself as a world-class innovation city.
“City of Logan continues to punch above its weight when it comes to tech and innovation companies launching big ideas – and rockets. Council is a proud supporter of Black Sky Aerospace and seeing its trajectory from start-up to become a scaled-up manufacturer and leading exporter is exciting for the city,” Hansen said.
“The direct economic impact means more jobs for Logan, but it also puts the city on the international map as a reputable base for the future of the aerospace industry,” Hansen added.
The first batch of solid rocket motors is expected to be ready for delivery before the end of 2019. (Source: Space Connect)
25 Sep 19. Airbus eyes in the sky enhance ability to protect the ocean. With over 70 per cent of the world’s surface covered by oceans, we have often lacked in looking after them. Airbus, however, has seen a surging interest in the use of traditional satellites and pseudo-satellites as a means of monitoring pollution levels and the health of the environment.
An estimated 41 per cent of our oceans are adversely impacted by human activity on land. A significant portion of the waste we create ends up flowing into the ocean, including 8 million tonnes of plastic each year – the same as 57,000 blue whales. Plastic debris is thought to kill more than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.
Whether by accident or design, humans are also responsible for adding other garbage, oil and toxic waste to the ocean. The need to actively reduce the causes and consequences of marine pollution has never been greater – a message spread by events like World Cleanup Day on 21 September. In order to manage the problem, we need to know exactly what we’re dealing with.
Earth observation satellites, which normally operate between 200 and 1,000 kilometres above the Earth, are proving increasingly valuable. They can detect changes in sea state, ocean colour, temperature and reflectance caused by objects in the water. This information helps governments, researchers and environmental organisations detect and monitor areas of pollution and work out how to combat them.
Florian Thirion, maritime marketing manager, communication, intelligence and security at Airbus, explained the importance, saying, “The ocean is the least monitored area on the planet. With increased pollution and damage to marine habitats, there is a growing need to better monitor this vast area of the Earth’s surface.”
Earth observation satellites are able to capture images of huge areas multiple times a day, ranging from a few hundred square kilometres to more than 50,000. The quality of image data across an area remains consistent.
That data falls into two categories – optical and radar. Optical satellites produce imagery similar to a classic photograph – as the human eye sees the world. As such, they can only produce images under the right light and weather conditions. Radar satellite imagery, however, can produce images day or night in almost any weather.
“The role of Earth observation is becoming increasingly valuable, offering effective global insight and providing detailed very high-resolution satellite imagery to support current monitoring efforts from traditional flying platforms and patrol vessels,” Thirion said.
So, what can they see? Airbus’ TerraSAR-X radar satellite can capture images with resolutions of up to 40 metres, making it ideal for detecting objects across large areas and highlighting changes in surface patterns – an oil spill, for example. The company’s Pléiades constellation of optical satellites have a resolution of 50 centimetres – one pixel for every half a metre – but cover a smaller area. That makes them good at identifying specific boats or objects previously detected by a radar satellite.
The images are used by a variety of organisations, from the European Space Agency (ESA) to coastguard authorities and the United Nations. In the last couple of years, Airbus satellites have helped to detect and monitor oil spills, shipwrecks and toxic gulf weed in the Caribbean.
The company also provides imagery to Waste Free Oceans, which collects and transforms ocean waste into new, innovative products like emergency shelters, educational material and furniture. And it is partnering with The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch-based company looking to deploy floating garbage collectors many of hundreds of metres long.
Detecting plastic isn’t easy. Ocean waste patches are mostly made up of tiny pieces too small for satellites to detect. ESA is funding research that uses the Airbus-built Sentinel-2 satellites in an attempt to solve the issue. Because plastic has a different light signature to vegetation, scientists are developing an index to analyse each pixel of a satellite image. By refining the approach and using machine learning, it hopes to build up a clearer picture of marine plastic pollution.
Airbus is also working on new solutions to the problem. In 2020, it will launch the first satellites in its Pléiades Neo constellation, capable of delivering images with a resolution of 30 centimetres. Zephyr, the company’s high-altitude pseudo-satellite, will soon be able to provide additional local image support from its position in the stratosphere, 20 kilometres above Earth. (Source: Space Connect)
20 Sep 19. UK Space Conference. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) seeks to exploit the full potential of Space for UK Defence and Security. We’re looking forward to attending the UK Space Conference in Wales from 24-26 September 2019 and engaging with our customers, industry partners and potential suppliers. Come and see us on Stand C11. The winners of the Space to Innovate competition, run by the Defence and Security Accelerator on behalf of Dstl, will also be announced during the conference. Dstl is involved in a wide array of Space projects. In September 2019 we awarded a design study to Airbus for a cluster of ultra-high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar satellites for the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Known as Project Oberon, the satellite cluster – which will be the first of its kind ever in orbit – will give greater accuracy of data and finer resolution compared to a single satellite.
This year we also acquired our first satellite ground control station to support future Space research activities for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) based at Portsdown West, Hampshire. This represents the first of a number of significant steps in conducting in-orbit research and concept demonstrator missions for the benefit of the MOD to better understand the Space domain to enable freedom of action for future UK operations, including the protection of UK operations against emerging Space-based threats.
With such an exciting array of programmes, there are many opportunities for companies to harness their novel and innovative technologies in Space. Dstl is keen to engage with large and small companies to exploit the full potential of Space. Previous experience of working with the defence sector is not necessary. We look forward to seeing you in Wales.
23 Sep 19. NASA and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) have finalized a contract for the production and operations of six Orion spacecraft missions and the ability to order up to 12 in total. Orion is NASA’s deep space exploration spaceship that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Moon and bring them safely home. Lockheed Martin has been the prime contractor during the development phase of the Orion program.
“This contract clearly shows NASA’s commitment not only to Orion, but also to Artemis and its bold goal of sending humans to the Moon in the next five years,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “We are equally committed to Orion and Artemis and producing these vehicles with a focus on cost, schedule and mission success.”
The agency’s Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contact for NASA to issue both cost-plus-incentive fee and firm-fixed-price orders. Initially, NASA has ordered three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III-V for $2.7bn. Then in fiscal year 2022, the agency plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI-VIII for $1.9bn.
OPOC will realize substantial savings compared to the costs of vehicles built during the design, development, test and evaluation (DDT&E) phase.
Up to six additional Orion spacecraft may be ordered under the IDIQ contract through Sept. 30, 2030, leveraging spacecraft production cost data from the previous six missions to enable the lowest possible unit prices.
The first spacecraft delivered on this contract, Artemis III, will carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon in 2024, where they will dock with the Gateway and ultimately land on the surface using a lunar landing system. Orion is a critical part of the agency’s Artemis program to build a sustainable presence on the lunar surface and to prepare us to move on to Mars.
Reusable Orion crew modules and systems, use of advanced manufacturing technologies, material and component bulk buys and an accelerated mission cadence all contribute to considerable cost reductions on these production vehicles.
“We have learned a lot about how to design and manufacture a better Orion—such as designing for reusability, using augmented reality and additive manufacturing—and we’re applying this to this next series of vehicles. Driving down cost and manufacturing them more efficiently and faster will be key to making the Artemis program a success,” said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin Space. “One must also appreciate how unique Orion is. It’s a spaceship like none other. We’ve designed it to do things no other spacecraft can do, go to places no astronaut has been and take us into a new era of human deep space exploration.”
Lockheed Martin and NASA recently announced the completion of the Orion crew and service module being developed for the Artemis I mission, an uncrewed mission to the Moon. Work on the spacecraft for the Artemis II mission, the first crewed flight to the Moon, is well underway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
22 Sep 19. Orolia launches new GNSS test and simulation suite. The Orolia GSG-8 GNSS simulation and test platform showing a simulated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a GNSS receiver flying a circular pattern with a simulated static jammer. The graphs at the bottom of the screen show signals from the different GNSS constellations and the impact of the jammer as the UAV comes in range.
Orolia has developed a new global navigation satellite system (GNSS) testing and simulation suite following its acquisition of Skydel and Talen-X and launched it at the 2019 DSEI exhibition in London.
Jean-Yves Courtois, CEO of Orolia, said the spoofing and jamming of GNSS was a concrete and rising threat to military operations, citing several recent reported incidents.
Courtois asserted that assured position, navigation, and timing (APNT), either by adopting defensive measures to protect the GNSS capability or by using alternative solutions, is an urgent requirement that many countries are now addressing.
An important part of this work is identifying the vulnerabilities of existing GNSS receive equipment to a range of different threats and then testing the solutions devised to mitigate the threats or provide countermeasures.
The company’s new suite includes the latest version of its GNSS signal generator (GSG) testing solution GSG-8 and the Skydel-based simulators GSG Wavefront and GSG Anechoic. Cortois emphasised that these have been developed based on the software-defined radio approach, using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and some COTS software such as computer graphics. This provides a very flexible testing and simulation environment that can be easily adapted through software changes.
GSG Wavefront produces multiple spoofing or jamming signals in a consistent and coherent way: a required characteristic for testing anti-jam antennas. GSG Anechoic is used in an anechoic chamber and physically radiates signals, which Courtois said can provide slightly system behaviour results to a computer simulation. It supports up to 32 radio frequency outputs, has a high jamming power of 110 dB, and can support GPS encrypted codes. GSG-8 provides a single platform for GNSS signal testing, providing a range of threat scenarios. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Sep 19. Prime Minister’s US trip heralds major deal for Australian Space Agency. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews have confirmed an investment deal which will see Australian businesses and new technologies developed that will support NASA on its inspirational campaign to return to the Moon and travel to Mars. The Morrison Government is positioning Australia for lift-off with a $150m investment into Australian businesses and technologies – the five-year investment will see the Australian Space Agency foster the new ideas and hi-tech skilled jobs that will make Australian businesses a partner of choice to fit out NASA missions.
The Government’s support means Australian businesses and researchers will have the opportunity to showcase their immense knowledge and capabilities in projects that can support NASA’s Moon to Mars mission, such as Project Artemis and the Lunar Gateway.
It will also support Australian businesses to become more competitive in international space supply chains and to increase Australia’s share in a growing US$350bn global space market.
The Australian Space Agency will work closely with NASA to identify how they can best support their missions after the signing of a joint Statement of Intent on expanding cooperation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment would benefit all Australians with more jobs, new technologies and more investment in businesses that would grow the economy.
“We’re backing Australian businesses to the moon, and even Mars, and back. We’re getting behind Australian businesses so they can take advantage of the pipeline of work NASA has committed to,” Mr Morrison said.
The Prime Minister added, “There is enormous opportunity for Australia’s space sector which is why we want to triple its size to $12n to create around 20,000 extra jobs by 2030. We’ve partnered with the US in almost all of their missions to space for the last 60 years and this investment paves the way for the next 60. The growing amount of space sector work and innovation will also inspire the next generation to see the future of a career in these fields for the long term.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said this was a milestone moment for the booming Australian space industry, but would also benefit everyday Australians.
“This agreement is all about opportunity, for us to take the Australian space sector to the next level, grow our economy and create new local jobs. Space also drives technology which has a profound and everyday impact on the lives of Australians – from disaster management, to helping farmers better manage their land and predict drought, through to improving GPS,” Minister Andrews explained.
“That’s why as a Government we established the Australian Space Agency just over 12 months ago and are investing strongly.”
The Government also welcomed greater cooperation with the US on a number of other cutting-edge science and technology issues – including holding a joint senior level dialogue to further collaboration on frontier technologies central to the national interest and security.
Enhanced cooperation on hydrogen safety, lithium-ion battery recycling and collaborative science was also announced.
22 Sep 19. A Conversation With Peter Waskowic, Director of Satellite Communication Products, SED Systems (a Division of CALIAN Ltd.). SED Systems has been in business for more than 50 years — the company’s technology extends from their SATCOM products to system engineering solutions to complex problems and Q/V-band antenna and RF systems.
The company offers complex RF system designs as well as the deployment of gateways and the firm is a forerunner in Ka-band gateway development as well as a premier provider for Q- and V-band. SED has continually evolved in step with the satellite industry offering a broad range of capabilities and technologies.
The key focus is RF gateways and SED Systems specializes in designing and deploying those innovative gateway designs for their customers around the world. The firm also offers satellite uplink products, such as single-channel and multi-channel modulators. To expand their capabilities in that area, the company announced earlier this year their rollout of large aperture composite carbon fiber antenna products that serve the needs of large-scale earth stations and TT&C systems. This carbon fiber antenna line offers compelling new innovations and cost effectively supports the very demanding surface tolerance accuracy required by the higher frequency bands. D4 helps to support this market segment as it has a wider frequency range that is ideal for the higher bandwidth applications found in current and planned HTS systems.
In addition, SED Systems builds a number of specialized software and hardware systems to perform satellite frequency and capacity planning, as well as resource management. During the last few years, they have greatly expanded their offerings for the cable television marketplace and are now one of the world leaders in distributed access architectures such as the DOCSIS 3.1 Remote PHY technology.
The firm also builds many unique and custom software and hardware products. Whatever their customers need, the company can build, as they have more than 100 system engineers, hardware designers, digital and signal processing experts as well as software developers on staff to ensure those dreams become reality.
Decimator D4 is SED Systems’ latest generation spectrum analyzer. The firm has had Decimator products in the marketplace for over 10 years and the D4 is their fourth generation of the product line. D4 includes evolutionary as well as new features.
The Decimator D3 has been extremely popular and the D4 includes all of the capabilities of that product, as well as several new capabilities. The frequency range of the unit has been increased to 6.5 GHz on the high end, which provides direct functionality for C-band transmit and receive signals. This also makes the product ready for the higher frequency IFs that are required for new Q-/V-band systems.
In terms of new D4 features, the key item is the signal analysis capability for the satellite standard DVB-S/S2/S2X. The D4 can simultaneously demodulate as many as 16 signals and also provides digital demodulator characteristics, such as EVM and a constellation display. A future planned feature is for D4 is transport stream output. The user interface has been updated to meet current standards. The HTML5 user interface runs on all browsers and devices — this enables the D4 to efficiently run locally or remotely from any location around the world.
The main technology drivers for the platform are the new signal analysis capabilities that allow broadcast facilities (and other customers) to integrate the D4 into their systems and to provide improved monitoring capabilities at a reasonable price within teleports and uplink facilities. The D4 is also a general purpose signal processing platform with extra processing power that can be harnessed to provide custom capabilities as needed for the company’s existing and new customers that have specialized requirements. In particular, the increased frequency range is highly useful for new Q-/V-band satellite transponders that use more bandwidth and require an extended frequency range to monitor signals. The Decimator is SED System’s flagship product line and the company is delighted to be able to introduce the new features of this offering to IBC attendees, as the unit has high relevance to the broadcast industry that attend IBC. SED Systems is currently launching and taking orders for the Decimator D4 and units will be shipped into the marketplace this fall/winter.
The software systems the firm builds for resource management, frequency planning and capacity planning provide satellite operators with the tools to maximize satellite bandwidth resources. This results in operators being able to squeeze more revenues and margin out of their existing assets.
SED Systems offers products, services and entire systems as COTS solutions, or as custom developed solutions for specific customer requirements. SED is involved from the earliest stages of concept development and requirements definition through the full duration of long term support over operational lifetimes of 15+ years. Their 50+ years in business combined with high levels of repeat business from many long term customers demonstrates their ability to consistently provide solutions with compelling value. (Source: Satnews)
18 Sep 19. There’s a New Space Safety Coalition that’s Got Major Organizations Signing Up. A gathering of notables in Hawaii — Maui to be exact — has resulted in a first-of-its-kind global ad hoc coalition dedicated to developing and maintaining a set of “living” space-safety best practices was announced today at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference – (AMOS). The SSC and its coalition members will publish, coordinate, and periodically update these best practices in order to keep them well-aligned with responsible space operations and the evolving understanding of the orbital debris environment, to address gaps in space governance and promote better spacecraft design, operations, and disposal practices associated with long-term space operations sustainability.
Participation in the SSC is open to space operators (including governmental or intergovernmental entities), space industry associations and space industry stakeholders. Oltrogge added that they welcome entities to join this collective global effort to develop voluntary standards and best practices to enhance space safety and sustainability.
The Space Safety Coalition, formed in 2019, publishes a set of orbit-regime-agnostic best practices for the long-term sustainability of space operations. These best practices are generally applicable to all spacecraft regardless of physical size, orbital regime or constellation size, and directly address many aspects of the twenty-one consensus Long-Term Sustainability (LTS) guidelines approved by the United Nations Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) in June 2019. (Source: Satnews)
10 Sep 19. SpaceX’s Request to Modify Plans for Starlink Satellites + Boeing’s Smallsat Strategy. In a posting by journalist Chris Forrester at the Advanced Television infosite, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in an application filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is asking if it can dramatically modify its previously approved orbital plans.
Musk wants the SpaceX’s fleet of ‘Starlink’ satellites to triple the number of orbital planes, each at 550 kms. high. In essence, the plan is for 72 orbital rings circling the Earth instead of the approved 24. This will have, says SpaceX, the effect of achieving greater launch efficiency and an improved spread beam coverage.
The company said, “The proposed respacing would require fewer launches of satellites — perhaps as few as half — to initiate service to the entire contiguous U.S. Globally, the modification would enable more rapid coverage of all longitudes to grow toward the Equator, as well as bolstering capacity over in areas of greater population density.”
SpaceX in May orbited one batch of 60 satellites — not all of which are working. Five are being deorbited, and the company now says that it expects to make “several more” launches this year. SpaceX has plans for four more launch flights this year according to the FCC filing, with the first probably later in October.
If approved, SpaceX will have just 22 satellites in each ring instead of the 66 per orbital ring initially envisioned. The scheme is then to have the system up and working in time for next year’s hurricane season over the U.S.
The FCC has approved SpaceX’s plans for almost 12,000 satellites, with 1,600 of them operating from 550 kms. high. The other plans approved include 7,500 satellites to orbit at between 335 to 346 kms. and another 2,800 at heights of between 1,100 and 1,325 kms.
Additionally, Forrester is reporting that aerospace giant Boeing used the opening of the Euroconsult World Satellite Business Week in Paris to outline the company’s plans for a new range of satellites.
The new versions are Boeing 702X, a direct follow-on from its well-established Boeing 702 variants which have flowed out of its El Segundo facility since 1997. Boeing 702X is based on a range of seven satellites on order for SES subsidiary O3b, an MEO fleet that’s being readied for 2021 launch.
While the SES/O3b fleet weigh just 1,100 kgs. each, the new geostationary version will weigh some 1,900 kgs. (net, unfueled) and could be ready for launch in three years. The SES O3b versions will be launched, probably as a triple payload, by SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.
Boeing’s VP/Global commercial sales, Eric Jensen, talking to reporters, said that the new satellites embrace reprogrammable software-defined solid-state payloads. The savings in on-board processing and cabling is dramatic, and includes 3D printing techniques. (Source: Satnews)
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