Sponsored By Viasat
14 Oct 19. First-Ever State of Military Communications Study Finds Current Military Technology Falling Behind; Putting Missions at Risk.
In an era of constant technological advances, defense agencies are falling short of battlefield expectations when it comes to military communications technologies, according to a study released by Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of Government Executive Media Group, in partnership with Viasat, Inc., a global communications company. Based on a survey of over 300 U.S. active military and Department of Defense (DoD) participants across the nation, this study investigated the role of military connectivity and evaluated the practicality and effectiveness of U.S. military communications technologies.
“Our survey reveals an alarming number of defense professionals who lack basic levels of connectivity needed to accomplish their objectives,” said Daniel Thomas, director of the Government Business Council. “Respondents are vocal that changes must be made to the acquisition front and center, to keep pace with commercial innovations and equip users with vital battlefield capabilities. This is a clarion call to military leadership across the board.”
Among others, key findings from the study include:
- Expectations of connectivity on the battlefield are high, but largely unmet 68% of survey respondents say they expect the same level of connectivity and access to trusted and timely information on the battlefield as they get in the civilian world. However, less than half of respondents (46%) feel they have the level of connectivity needed to successfully execute their mission objectives. And 98% of respondents say they are disrupted to a point where they are left with a complete loss of connectivity on the battlefield.
- At risk of falling behind new threats
Only 27% of respondents believe the DoD’s budget priorities for communications technology allow the U.S. to effectively keep pace with escalating geopolitical threats.
- Organizations are facing significant barriers to network modernization efforts
Respondents noted that the three biggest challenges facing their organizations’ network modernization efforts are an inability to keep pace with commercial technology, procurement inefficiencies and limited funding. 70% of respondents feel that adopting new acquisition processes would allow their organization to update technologies at the speed of relevance.
- Emerging cloud-based systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities will be critical to future mission success
Over 60% of respondents agree cloud-enabled technologies will play an increasingly significant role in enhancing and accelerating the U.S. military’s decision-making capabilities. In addition, 81% of respondents agree it’s critical for U.S. military forces to have access to a modernized end-to-end satellite and terrestrial networks to make cloud-enabled technologies and the Internet of Battlefield Things a reality across the battlespace.
From a partner perspective, Viasat believes senior leaders in the DoD are beginning to recognize this acquisition problem. These leaders are turning their focus toward transforming the status quo by adapting the DoD acquisition process and culture to address this issue and enhance technological capabilities across the battlespace. However, the State of Military Communications study findings illustrate much more needs to be done to ensure that battlefield communications technology is up to the challenge of assuring resilient, secure connectivity in the most demanding, high pressure situations and to provide the capabilities needed to deter complex, escalating, multi-dimensional threats from near-peer adversaries.
“The State of Military Communications survey, a first of its kind study, indicates the compelling need for enhanced communications technology to be delivered to our military forces on a much faster timeline so that warfighters have the same connectivity during their deployment as they have at home,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “Acquisition models must adapt to better leverage private sector technology, so that military connectivity can keep pace with accelerating private sector technology trajectories. By increasingly leveraging private sector capabilities in the vital technology sectors of satellite communications, tactical networking, cybersecurity and cloud-based systems, the DoD can maintain information dominance at the tactical edge, which is crucial to mission success across the current and future technology driven battlespace.”
For a complete report of the study’s results, click here. http://cdn.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/viasat_report_state_of_military_communications_technology.pdf
17 Oct 19. MUOS SATCOM system declared ready for full operational use. The US Navy has completed a multiservice operational test and evaluation of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and declared it ready for full operational use.
A series of critical test and evaluation phase events involving the next-generation narrowband military satellite communications system has showcased its full operational capability.
MUOS is ready for the transition into unrestricted operations.
Following the assessment, the navy has declared the system as ‘operationally effective, operational suitable and cyber survivable’.
MUOS is a navy-led effort that provides narrowband, beyond line of-sight, point-to-point, and netted communication services.
The satellite-based communications network serves the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government organisations.
The test and evaluation phase evaluated the performance and suitability of MUOS in an operationally representative environment.
The navy’s Operational Test and Evaluation Force was assisted by representatives from the US Army and Marine Corps.
US Navy PEO C4I and Space Systems lead John Pope said: “Sailors and marines can already use MUOS in situations like humanitarian response, disaster assistance and training.
“Now, these same advanced communications capabilities will be available in the tactical warfare environment. The advantages MUOS provides will help the warfighter compete, deter and win on the battlefield.”
MUOS is an on-orbit five-satellite constellation that will provide 16 times the capacity of the legacy system.
Each of the satellites carries two payloads supporting both the UHF satellite communications system and the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform capabilities.
The WCDMA capability will provide enhanced effectiveness, information security and global reach for operational missions.
MUOS will meet user requirements such as operational availability, mobility, and high data rates.
Navy Communications Satellite Program Office programme manager captain Chris DeSena said: “This is the last critical milestone before turning MUOS over for full operations and I am very proud of the entire team that contributed to this outstanding achievement.
“The capability MUOS brings to the warfighter is revolutionary in terms of narrowband communications, and I look forward to seeing the potential of MUOS fully realised.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Oct 19. USAF retires Satellite Vehicle Number 38 for GPS III satellites. Satellite Vehicle Number 38 (SVN-38) has been decommissioned to make way for the next generation of Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellites at the US Air Force’s (USAF) Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, US.
The 2nd Space Operations Squadron (SOPS) chief bus system analyst first lieutenant Kristina Brandes stated that the satellite was retired as it reached the end of its operational life.
Kristina Brandes said: “It’s one of our oldest satellites that launched 22 years ago. Once we turn off the transmitter (one of the final commands), it will basically be dead in the air…it will be tracked as space debris.”
The SVN-38, a block II A vehicle, will be located at medium Earth orbit (MEO). Although the satellite had a design life of seven and a half years, it lasted 22 years.
2nd SOPS operations director lieutenant colonel Michael Schriever said: “We tell [people during] tours, all the time, that the reason our constellation is so healthy is because of the airmen who control it.
“[There are] a couple decades of experience here across the members who are taking care of these vehicles. Their expertise enables the vehicles to live well past their design life, making sure we can command [and] control it providing the best service to our global users.”
The squadron has so far decommissioned a total of 37 satellites.
The first GPS III satellite for the USAF was launched in December last year, while the second was launched in August.
GPS III satellites are designed to provide improved position, navigation and timing services and advanced anti-jam capabilities.
Built by Lockheed Martin, the advanced satellites will deliver three times better accuracy and up to eight times more powerful anti-jamming capabilities. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
18 Oct 19. Adelaide start-up conference to feature space professionals. A stellar line-up of space professionals will be in Adelaide next month to talk space at the SouthStart conference for start-up businesses.
That includes NASA deputy director for technology and research investments, Dr Christyl Johnson, and Kfir Damari, co-founder and vice-president for education for Israeli space company SpaceIL.
On the Australian side will be head of the Adelaide-based Australian Space Agency Dr Megan Clark, coalition-founder and chief executive of Fleet Space Technologies Flavia Tata Nardini, and Dr Alex Grant, Myriota co-founder and CEO.
SouthStart will be held from 15-21 November in Adelaide and will feature a start-up boot camp, workshops and presentations by a range of executives and entrepreneurs. The main conference will be held on 20 and 21 November in Adelaide Convention Centre.
Following the success of the 2018 event, which was attended by more than 650 people, the South Australian government agreed to contribute $350,000 to the event.
Announcing that funding earlier this year, SA Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said SouthStart had brought fresh ideas and great value to the local innovation eco-system and made a welcome contribution to the state’s economy.
He said state government initiatives were making SA the nation’s start-up epicentre.
“SouthStart complements these initiatives by providing delegates a fantastic opportunity to learn from world-leading business and innovation leaders about their journeys and global trends that will be vital for businesses to survive and thrive in the digital age,” he said.
Dr Johnson and Dr Clark will discuss building Australia’s space industry and share their insights on the partnership between the Australian Space Agency and NASA, which plans to land the next man and first woman on the moon by 2024.
Damari will talk about Israel’s privately funded venture to land a probe on the moon, which failed at the last moment, with the lander crashing into the moon surface.
In particular, he’ll discuss how his start-up rallied Israel behind their goal and what’s planned next.
“Through my personal experience in building the first privately funded spacecraft that reached the moon, I have found that the greatest resource to handle all challenges on our way to reaching our goals, were: resilience, collaborations and perseverance. All of which I am looking forward to sharing and enhancing when we all meet,” he told Adelaide’s The Advertiser. (Source: Space Connect)
16 Oct 19. Planet has a new subscriber for its satellite imagery. As part of the ongoing transition of responsibility for commercial satellite imagery from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to the National Reconnaissance Office, the NRO awarded Planet a contract for daily commercial imagery. (Planet Labs, Inc.) The National Reconnaissance Office has taken over the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s subscription for Planet’s commercial satellite imagery, the NRO announced Oct. 15.
As part of that swap, the NRO awarded Planet an unclassified, multi-year subscription service contract for daily 3-5 meter resolution images. The NRO claims that the new contract is comparable to the company’s previous contracts with the NGA and includes access to daily unclassified imagery.
“With its large constellation of satellites, Planet can image country–and even continent-sized areas–every day,” said Pete Muend, director, NRO’s Commercial Systems Program Office, in a statement. “This capability to provide daily revisit over large areas of the Earth gives analysts unparalleled opportunities to discover and monitor activity for a wide range of applications.”
Since 2017, the NGA has been transitioning its responsibility for acquiring commercial satellite imagery for the intelligence community to the NRO, which is also charged with operating the nation’s spy satellites. The NRO issued four study contracts to commercial companies, including Planet, earlier this year to assess whether they can meet government requirements.
“With the transition, NGA can continue to shift its focus to emerging commercial GEOINT products and services that uniquely support our user community,” said David Gauthier, director of NGA’s Source Commercial and Business Operations Group. “NGA’s 2016 Planet subscription played a role in our analytic transformation, where we are now focused less on pixels and more on information content and services.”
As a result, “the NRO is committed to ensuring NGA and its customers continue to have access to Planet imagery to perform the vital analysis needed to create value-added geospatial products for our partners and policy makers,” said Muend. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
14 Oct 19. LeoLabs’ New Radar Tracks Tiny Space Debris. LeoLabs CEO and co-founder Dan Ceperley says the firm has a mission “to drive a new era of transparency in LEO.”
LeoLabs today announced a unique radar for tracking space objects, based in New Zealand to improve monitoring of satellites and debris over the Souther Hemisphere — where even DoD has limited satellite tracking ability.
“It’s got a number of ‘firsts’,” CEO and co-founder Dan Ceperley told Breaking D, including being “the first phased array radar for space in the Southern Hemisphere, where collision prevention isn’t as good, especially over the South Pole.” The radar is based in the Central Otago region (famous for its pinot noir wines) of New Zealand’s South Island.
The “Kiwi Space Radar”, unveiled today at the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army, also is the “first commercial radar to be able to detect objects down to 2 centimeters in diameter in Low Earth Orbit,” Ceperley added. That is, about the size of a marble. Most current ground-based space tracking radar can only see objects bigger than 10cm, about the size of a softball, in LEO — including those operated by the US military to provide space situational awareness (SSA).
Phased array radar — unlike classic radar using large dish antennas — can rapidly switch point of view from one side of sky to other, he explained. LeoLabs can track up to 1,000 space objects per hour, and thus serve to cue other radar that can then “zoom in” on objects of interest. “We can help establish what is benign,” Ceperley said, and thus “power defense users” and “provide independent confirmation” of possible collisions or malicious activity.
LeoLabs, a Silicon Valley startup founded in 2016, intends to create a network of six radar. The next three will be located near the equator, in the far north and in the far south to ensure global coverage. Ceperley said that the company isn’t ready to announce the exact locations, but explained that they are looking at areas that are geopolitically stable for US company investment, and can provide enough support for radar operations such excellent Internet connectivity.
However, LeoLabs doesn’t sell radars — it sells access to its data and analytical products via subscriptions. The company has four different sets of customers, Ceperley said, including defense organizations, regulators, satellite operators (including NASA) and insurers.
The American Soldier is evolving from low-tech grunt to high-tech warrior. For decades, the infantry have gotten the least investment in new equipment. Now that’s changing.
The firm already is working with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Defense Innovation Unit since 2017 under a program called CAMO, (Commercially Augmented Mission Operations). While Ceperley wouldn’t disclose the size of the contract, he explained that LeoLabs is participating in AFRL’s effort to explore how commercial SSA services “can augment and help improve DoD’s understanding of space.”
Back in April, Air Force acquisition head Will Roper told Breaking D that LeoLabs, ExoAnalytic Solutions, Numerica and Rincon all are providing their space data and analytical toolsets to the Air Force as it experiments with how to integrate a wide variety of data sources, and use agile software development, to improve its SSA and battle management systems.
One facet of the effort is called the Unified Data Library (UDL), which Maj. Gen. Kim Crider, the data integration guru at Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), says is “an enterprise data repository for managing access, integration and dissemination of data across multiple levels of security.” In turn, the UDL is used to inject data into AFSPC’s Enterprise Space Battle Management Command and Control (ESBMC2) system that also will ingest information from the Intelligence Community.
But the company has a broader mission, according to Ceperley: “to drive a new era of transparency in LEO.” “There just is not a lot of data about the risks in LEO,” he explained at a time when space activity in the region (from about 100 kilometers to 2,000 kilometers above sea level) is exploding. Ceperley said he’d like to see the data generated by LeoLabs’ radar network help set a goal to “contain the debris problem” to some optimum level, and allow operators to figure out how to adjust their activities to do so.
Further, mindful that many new operators are not rolling in financial capitol or years of expertise, one of LeoLabs’ newest services, called LeoTrack and launched in August, is tailored for operators of one to five satellites, and provides an option to buy off-the-shelf navigation data so the operator doesn’t have to understand how to equip the satellite to do so. According to a LeoLabs’ press release, the LeoTrack offers “satellite operators a full range of monitoring capabilities, including precision tracking of satellites, orbital state vectors, predictive radar availability, scheduled passes, and real-time orbit visualization for constellations as well as individual satellites.” Ceperley said the service costs about $2,500 per satellite per month, which in the scheme of SSA services market is pretty low.
In addition, LeoLabs is working closely with the New Zealand government under its ground-breaking SSA and space traffic management (STM) program that will allow the New Zealand Space Agency to track every satellite launched from its territory, monitor their health, keep an eye out for potential collisions, and ensure that all operators are following licensing rules regarding satellite disposal and debris mitigation. The cloud-based Space Regulatory and Sustainability Platform (SRSP) uses LeoLabs radars, as well as analytical tools such as mapping software and conjunction prediction.
Ceperley sounded almost giddy about the potential of the New Zealand program to safeguard the future space environment and change the way governments regulate the space industry. “They are the first regulators to keep a close eye on activity in orbit,” he said, noting that most government license processes, including in the United States, focus only on pre-launch licensing. Using the SRSP platform, he said, New Zealand will “develop an understanding about what’s normal behavior in space and what not,” and in turn be able to “drive drive the discussion, using actual data, about what’s responsible or not,” and to “lead the response to to next the next big crash.”
Indeed, according to several space analysts, the New Zealand program puts them far ahead of any other country in attempting to solve the STM problem, despite the Trump Administration’s push to lead the rest of the world in setting space norms and best practices.
The administration’s efforts, embodied in Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2) on licensing for commercial space and SPD-3 on STM, are stalled due to variety of internal bureaucratic as well as congressional food fights. As we reported a few weeks ago, the interagency task force to update US space debris mitigation rules hit an impasse on Sept 18, putting the dispute on the table for the National Space Council to sort out.
Meanwhile, the long-awaited Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) designed by the Commerce Department to streamline licensing for commercial remote sensing operators has stalled amid interagency disagreement and industry pushback. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in August said the rules would be out by the end of October, but source say as of now the rule package remains blocked by interagency squabbling.
Finally, Congress has steadfastly refused to provide authorization or funding to give Commerce the primary role in regulating the commercial space industry, and in becoming the agency to lead a civilian SSA service — taking over the job of helping commercial and foreign operators safely control their satellites and avoid collisions from the newly created Space Command. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
16 Oct 19. Thaicom and China Great Wall Sign MoU on UAV Development. Thaicom Public Company Limited (THCOM) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC)—a leading player in commercial launch services, satellite systems, and space technology cooperation.
The companies will cooperate in the area of application development for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and BeiDou—China’s proprietary Global Navigation Satellite System (BDS). The deal is part of Thaicom’s ambition to diversify its business and enter the emerging next technology markets through the integration of space, air, ground and maritime networks.
Speaking about the deal, Anant Kaewruamvongs, Chief Executive Officer Thaicom, commented:
“China Great Wall is an important strategic partner for Thaicom. As we are defining our new vision and making inroads into new business areas, the next phase of our company and future growth is fuelled by new partnerships and Thaicom’s integrated next generation service platform.”
Anant added: “With the fast-growing number of connected devices, terrestrial networks alone cannot keep up with the dramatic growth in data traffic and requirement for everywhere connectivity in the digital age, where a vast number of emerging new markets and services need to be accommodated. Space and airborne communication infrastructures are the backbone of the smart connected solutions for the emerging digital ecosystem on the ground. Therefore, our next-generation service platform seeks to integrate space, air, ground and maritime networks for agriculture, telecom and government services.”
Liu Qiang, Chairman of the Board, China Great Wall Industry Corporation, added: “Satellite and aerial technologies enable smart applications and data analysis for these markets. China Great Wall’s know-how and vast experience in space and aerial technologies including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) makes us an ideal partner for Thaicom to grow their business further.” (Source: UAS VISION/ Satellite Pro)
14 Oct 19. Do war fighters have the SATCOM connectivity they need? Survey says. A survey of war fighters published by commercial satellite company Viasat shows less than half of respondents have the necessary level of connectivity to execute their mission objectives.
The survey is the result of a partnership between Viasat, a satellite communications provider with a long history of military contracts, and the Government Business Council. According to Ken Peterman, Viasat’s president of government systems, the survey is likely the first state of military communications study.
The survey, released Oct. 14 on the first day of the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference, includes 330 defense leaders selected from 500 respondents, with representatives of all branches of the military.
The survey’s topline result was that war fighters do not have the levels of connectivity they need.
According to the survey, there’s a gap between what levels of connectivity war fighters expect and what they have. While 68 percent of respondents expect the same level of connectivity on the battlefield as in the civilian world, only 46 percent felt they had the connectivity needed to successfully execute their missions.
Furthermore, 23 percent of respondents said U.S. defense communications technology was either behind or far behind its adversaries, with another 37 percent saying the U.S. was on par with those adversaries.
Resiliency was also an area of concern, with 60 percent of respondents saying “improvements in defense communications technology are most needed to strengthen the military’s ability to maintain secure connectivity in the face of digital threats.”
For Peterman, the survey results confirmed his understanding of the state of military satellite communications and the needs of war fighters.
“The results of the survey are really clear, and I think that it’s insightful and it forces us to confront the reality that the status quo is not working, that this technology is not getting to the war fighter fast enough,” said Peterman. “We can’t take five to seven years to validate a requirement, budget the money, establish an acquisition strategy, and then finally, five or seven years in, issue an RFP and say ‘who wants to bid on this?’”
Seventy percent of those surveyed said they agreed that adopting new acquisition processes would allow them to update communications technologies at the speed of relevance.
Viasat and Government Business Council said they expect to conduct the study annually. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
10 Oct 19. Perspective: Satellite Innovation 2019. Satellite Innovation has become the most important West Coast event for satellite professionals who follow the evolving technologies and market opportunities related to satellites and space.
With roughly 800 attendees, the conference filled the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, to overflow capacity. The conference is conducted from October 8 to 10 and featured more than 120 expert speakers with 17 in-depth sessions, three keynote presentations and an exhibition hall with more than 60 participating companies.
Now in its third year, the symposium brought together leaders from government and commercial organizations as well as investment and research firms and covered the gamut from GEO, LEO and Earth Observation (EO) opportunities to the innovations that are driving the industry forward. There was a focus on technology advances such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and the software-defined solutions that are redefining satellite capabilities. The antennas and ground networks that connect satellites to useful applications were discussed as well as the increasing importance of cybersecurity.
As always at this Silicon Valley event, there were discussions about investment strategies and the opportunities for new capital as well as speculation on market growth related to in-flight connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the start-ups expected to drive the industry into the future. A panel session titled, “Growth Through M&A, Partnerships or New Capital – Evaluating the Path Forward,” included panelists from Boeing HorizonX, Facebook and several venture capital firms as well as investment bankers, were also represented on a panel titled, “What do Capital Markets Need? Successful Financial Strategies,” moderated by Satellite Finance Editor-in-Chief Jason Rainbow.
Among the highlights were three thought provoking keynote addresses by Stephen Spengler, CEO of Intelsat, Mark Dankberg, Chairman and CEO of Viasat, and Dr. Fred Kennedy, former Director of the U.S. Space Development Agency.
Standardization was an important theme on Day One of the conference. According to Steve Spengler, 5G is not in the future — it is now — and the U.S. is running behind China and South Korea in adopting the new standard. He believes that satellites or a variety of High Altitude Platforms (HAPS) must be part of the 5G solution in order to assure ubiquity and to serve populations that are currently left behind when it comes to high speed communications.
Spengler said that satellite’s challenge has been that it was considered an appendage to the network space and had a reputation of being slow, expensive and complicated. High throughput satellites and increasing capacity are changing this equation and enabling the business case to close in terms of cost, however, he said that complexity is still a major hurdle when it comes to fully integrating satellite into the greater communications infrastructure.
According to Spengler, moving from hardware-based satellite systems to software-based systems will help simplify how satellite is used. He noted that in five years, 70 percent of satellites are expected to be software defined, but we need to do more on standards to assure the simplicity that the consumer experience demands.
He noted, “But we have to do more on the standards side. Suppliers, partners in this ecosystem have to work together on standards… we really have to amplify the effort. Things have to be easier. If we do that, it will foster growth and adoption of our solutions.”
In the second, Day One keynote, Mark Dankberg reiterated the importance of the economics of satellite broadband and noted that it must be self-sustaining. He agreed with Spengler that flexibility to allocate bandwidth is crucial to success. He noted that, while latency is an issue in some applications, that network congestion is far worse and results from not having enough bandwidth where it is needed.
The third keynote of the conference was held on Wednesday morning, the second day of the conference. In conversation with Chris Stott, CEO of Mansat, Dr. Kennedy discussed why he left the Space Development Agency, which was supposed to have the goal of leapfrogging the current DoD space architecture. He stated that now is a time when the U.S. Air Force is very open to new ways of doing business and that now is the time for disruption.
He implied, however, that he wanted to run the Space Development Agency like an innovative start-up, but leadership refused to give him the autonomy and resources needed and he did not get support for leveraging commercial investment in space.
“I’m a big fan of commercial leveraging,” he said. “and I think that the time is right to create a private sector USG partnership to go off and do some pretty incredible things that would benefit DoD, but that wasn’t everybody’s opinion…”
He said we’ve grown complacent over the past 20 to 30 years, with today’s satellites looking nearly the same as ones that were built 20-30 years ago. Kennedy believes that the government needs to bring innovators forward like DARPA did by funding SpaceX’s early launches.
His vision is for proliferated architectures that provide no easy targets for adversaries, and in effect act as a deterrent. He also noted that building thousands and thousands of mass-produced inexpensive “things” is a natural place to speed up innovation. However, he said, “heritage currently remains the name of the game.”
Kennedy also noted that private capital plays a unique role in advancing capabilities, but government needs to take risks by investing in places where private capital doesn’t. He gave the example of how few wish to build low cost optical terminals and this is something that government investment could support.
He commented that the U.S. led the world into the space age but now has begun to lag behind its competitors. He cited ITAR as an example of a policy that may have been counterproductive and lamented that there is too much risk aversion and the U.S. government needs to take strong steps to restructure the process through which space technology is developed and procured.
In addition to the keynotes, there was a broad range of speakers with significant messages. Word among attendees was that the level of quality speakers was exceptional at this conference.
Hughes, which is a leader in satellite broadband, ground terminals and managed networks, had speakers on three different panel sessions. Rick Lober, VP of Defense and Intelligence Systems at Hughes, discussed the implications and ramifications of using space as a warfare domain, and Rajeev Gopal, VP of Advanced Programs, weighed in on next-generation GEO systems.
Additionally, Reza Rasoulian, VP of Broadband Satellite Services at Hughes, formerly with Carnival Cruise Line, discussed next generation mobile systems including maritime services. They all addressed a recurring theme for the conference, which is that no single technology can make up a truly ubiquitous global network and the connected future requires both terrestrial fixed and wireless, and satellite delivery systems.
Market and Technology Briefs
In an interesting divergence from typical satellite conferences, Satellite Innovation included 12 market and technology briefs on topics ranging from launch and constellations to satellite servicing on orbit and phased array antennas. These engaging 15 minute sessions included Nathan de Ruiter, Managing Director of Euroconsult Canada, who discussed today’s landscape of satellites under development. Euroconsult recently released a report which forecasts the satellite communications market will return to growth in 2020 driven by demand for broadband applications including rural connectivity, in-flight communications, as well as cellular backhaul.
De Ruiter said, “Satellite operators and manufacturers are adopting a varied mix of innovative approaches and technologies in order to improve the competitiveness of their satellite fleets and capacity.” He broke the technologies into three categories including cheaper, smaller and more agile.
De Ruiter also moderated a panel discussion on cybersecurity. Speakers included experts from SpeQtral and ID Quantique who explained how advances in quantum computing are both a threat and an advantage to satellite communications. SpeQtral uses quantum key distribution systems for extremely secure communications, based on entangled photons.
David Mitlyng, COO of SpeQtral, said they are the only company outside of China that has demonstrated entangled photon communications on orbit. He said, “Quantum is the next big innovation for security and the technology is mature and ready to deploy.”
How the proposed constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites will impact the industry remains a key question. There were multiple discussions about the potential for OneWeb, Project Kuiper, Starlink, Telesat LEO, LeoSat and others to succeed and speculation on which might merge with others and which might be left on the drawing board.
In addition to the communications satellite mega-constellations, the number of Earth Observation (EO) and remote sensing satellites is also expected to proliferate. The mitigation of space debris also continues to be a concern relative to the number of planned launches and constellations of small satellites. Most of the smallsat companies claim to have viable plans to prevent interference and collisions, but that remains to be seen. The question is whether LEO orbit will become a big traffic jam, like highway 101 was in the morning on the way to the Computer History Museum.
The proliferation of smallsat constellations, both in the U.S and around the world, is driving demand for small launch vehicles. However, there were surprisingly few alternative launch providers on the program, apart from Relativity Space and Spaceflight, Inc., which is a rideshare company and isn’t building its own launch vehicle.
Melissa Wuerl, Vice President of Business Development at Spaceflight, Inc. presented a launch systems market brief. She said there are 140 launch vehicles in development across the globe. The number of available launch vehicles well exceeds projected launches, and she noted that the industry will need to adjust.
Unlike many satellite conferences, the exhibition areas at Satellite Innovation are spread throughout the venue. Exhibitors included many of the essential subsystems and services that make satellite communications possible. There were providers of antennas, electronic components, propulsion systems and satellite network integrators among others discussing and demonstrating their latest advances. With an eye to both the commercial and government markets, both start-up companies and industry veterans participated.
Key to this Silicon Valley conference is the opportunity to network with colleagues, competitors and knowledgeable experts. The conference is large enough to attract key industry leaders but also small enough that everyone is accessible to one another.
Show management put it well, saying, “A continuing, and viable satellite and space environment is highly dependent upon the ability of thought leaders to cement their progressive strategies into new technologies and product offerings. Core to these endeavors are a strong professional network, a deep knowledge of how the satellite industry functions, and insight into what changes lie ahead.”
Satellite Innovation provided an ideal opportunity for this sharing of ideas and building of new relationships. Attendees were gratified to absorb information in conference sessions, to meet with market dominant innovators, and they left with a better idea of the changes they need to implement in their organizations to optimize their position in the rapidly evolving satellite industry. (Source: Satnews)
10 Oct 19. DARPA Awards SEAKR Engineering with Blackjack LEO Demo Program Contract. SEAKR® Engineering, Inc. (SEAKR) has been awarded a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pit Boss contract supporting the Blackjack Proliferated Low Earth Orbit Demonstration Program — Key contributors to SEAKR’s Pit Boss effort are Microsoft, Applied Technology Associates (ATA), Advanced Solutions Inc. (ASI), Kythera Space Solutions and NKrypt.
DARPA’s Blackjack program focuses on integrating commercial satellite technologies into a constellation of affordable, small, secure, and resilient military satellites. SEAKR’s Pit Boss solution will support the BlackJack program’s mission as a next generation on-board processor leveraging off-the-shelf electronics adapted through design implementation to function reliably in space. To deliver an extensible, scalable, and adaptable solution, SEAKR’s Pit Boss aims to deliver state of the art processing capability incorporating autonomous operations, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning techniques, and bridged terrestrial and on-orbit technologies.
SEAKR’s processing system for DARPA’s Blackjack program leverages four generations of architectural capability supporting the full spectrum of payload processing performance requirements, with a high level of on-orbit reconfigurable processing capability. Pulling from its established heritage capabilities, strength in RF communications, along with the continuous product and architectural advancement, SEAKR continues to define leading edge, state-of-practice processing systems in partnership with Government, Civil, and Commercial entities.
DARPA’s Blackjack program aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for a global high-speed network in low Earth orbit (LEO) that provides the Department of Defense with highly connected, resilient, and persistent coverage.
SEAKR’s previous study and prototype advancements have successfully contributed to our customer’s ability to solve complex challenges imperative in advancing capability to meet today’s most daunting mission objectives. Key technologies being deployed and leveraged include: ADC and DAC Technologies, FPGA-based Processing Technologies, and ASIC-Based Processing Technologies.
For all involved in the satellite and space industry and the various market segments that add value to these dynamic environments, the 2020 SmallSat Symposium is truly worth your consideration for attendance.
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)
10 Oct 19. OneWeb’s Web Expands Even Further in Florida with Swedish Space Corporation’s Eight New Antennas. Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has completed assembly and installation of eight new antennas at their site in Clewiston, Florida. The antennas will be used for supporting OneWeb, the global communications company whose mission is to connect everyone everywhere through a global satellite constellation.
Because SSC and OneWeb entered into a strategic partnership regarding global ground network support for OneWeb’s global network, SSC’s specific service agreement includes the implementation and hosting of one of OneWeb’s Satellite Network Portals (SNP) at SSC’s ground station in Clewiston, Florida. As a result, eight new antennas have been constructed and operations are now ready to begin at full strength.
Dan White, Head of Market Region Americas for Satellite Ground Network Services at SSC said that it has been an intense period of extensive work with new installations at their Florida site in Clewiston. The upgrades are essential for their ability to fully serve OneWeb. With these eight new antennas they increase their capacity for future projects.
He added that they were excited when OneWeb selected their Florida facility for the project, and it feels even more exciting as they are now able to provide services for their first set of satellites. They look forward to continuing their successful relationship with OneWeb and are very proud to be an integral member of their team, enabling seamless internet access globally. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.