Sponsored By Viasat
12 Nov 19. Viasat’s Ka-band Business Aviation In-flight Connectivity System Receives Type Certification for Embraer Praetor 600 Aircraft.
Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, announced today its Ka-band business aviation in-flight connectivity (IFC) system received Type Certification (TC) from the FAA, EASA and ANAC certifying its use on the Embraer Praetor 600 mid-sized business jet. Viasat’s IFC system will be offered as a line-fit option, and will provide passengers and crew high-speed, high-quality in-flight internet connections required to enjoy advanced streaming services including Viasat Unlimited Streaming; conduct multi-site video conference calling; use corporate virtual private networks, email and cloud services; and leverage other bandwidth-intensive business and entertainment applications—at all stages of flight.
The Viasat business aviation IFC solution uses Viasat’s Global Aero Terminal 5510, which will tap into the vast combined capacity offered by ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 and European Ka-band satellite platforms today, and will be forward-compatible with Viasat’s future-generation satellite constellation, ViaSat-3—with no additional hardware upgrades.
“We are very excited with the opportunity to be selected as a line fit connectivity option for the Praetor aircraft family. Praetor owners will have access to Viasat’s Ka-band in-flight connectivity system which leverages its unrivaled capacity enabling an amazing customer experience,” said Claudio D’Amico, business area director, Business Aviation, Viasat. “Praetor 600 passengers and crew will be able to simultaneously experience high-speed internet connections for streaming high-quality content and accessing critical business and entertainment applications. The forward compatibility of this system will allow the Praetor 600 to take advantage of Viasat’s continual innovation, ensuring an onboard connectivity experience recognized for its quality, performance and speed.”
Viasat’s Global Aero Terminal 5510 is an optimal connectivity solution for mid-sized cabin business jets due to it being the most compact business aviation satellite internet system on the market, while offering unmatched capacity and an experience that lets passengers and crew simultaneously stream video, movies, music, voice and more. With only three line-replaceable units (LRUs), the Viasat Global Aero Terminal 5510 provides distinctive advantages: it does not require space in the baggage compartment as it can be installed in the non-pressurized areas of the aircraft, and it lowers overall installed system weight compared to competing offerings, which can potentially offer fuel savings. (Source: ASD Network)
15 Nov 19. Rocket Lab unveils new, faster rocket production facility. Rocket Lab has revealed a new custom-designed robotic manufacturing system, which can turn out the key components of an Electron rocket in 12 hours, a process that used to take more than a fortnight.
This very large piece of equipment, located in the company’s production facility in Auckland, New Zealand, will substantially increase the rocket production rate in line with the company’s ambition to boost launch rates.
It’s been named Rosie, after the robotic housekeeper from the long running cartoon series The Jetsons.
Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said Rosie could quickly handle much of the machining needed to produce rocket stages and was a massive change to their production process.
“It takes every carbon composite component from Electron and effectively processes all of those components so they’re ready for final assembly. We can process a complete Electron now in 12 hours,” he said, according to a report in SpaceNews.
Rosie occupies 140 square metres of factory space, which is big enough for an entire Electron rocket first stage, as well as the smaller second and kick stages plus payload fairings.
Part of Rosie was made in Italy and the rest in New Zealand. That won’t mean a reduction in the company’s workforce but some workers will be redirected to other areas.
Beck said that would relieve workers of some of the less desirable tasks in the manufacturing process. He said you wouldn’t find anyone in the composites industry who loved sanding carbon fibre.
Rocket Lab launches from its facility on New Zealand’s North Island but is also planning a facility in the US.
The company announced in August it planned to attempt to recover and reuse Electron first stages in order to lift its rate of launches, with a goal of launching weekly.
“Even though we intend to recover stage one, obviously stage two, the fairing and a lot of components still need to be built fresh for each flight,” Beck said.
“Rosie is really the enabler to try and get close to seven days.”
Rocket Lab has yet to attempt a recovery and will take the next step towards reuse of an Electron at the next launch. That’s set for a two-week window from 25 November.
The Electron in that launch features modifications to eventually allow recovery, though that won’t be attempted this time.
Beck said their engineers would be monitoring the first stage on re-entry and testing the ability to direct its descent.
He said the biggest challenge in lifting the rate of launch might not be in production of the launch vehicles but in the readiness of customers.
“We’ve turned the space model a little bit on its head. Generally, we find we are ready before our customers now. It’s difficult to predict customer readiness,” he said. (Source: Space Connect)
13 Nov 19. USAF, Allies Team To Find Space Startups. The new effort focuses on space situational awareness, space data analytics, space communication, artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite servicing. The US Air Force is encouraging commercial startups in allied countries to bring innovative space tech to its attention for possible funding.
Technology areas being explored include space situational awareness, space data analytics, space communication, artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite servicing.
The innovation hub Techstars has launched a new industry accelerator focused on space and allied connectivity, Techstars Allied Space Accelerator. The Ministries of Defense of the Netherlands and Norway, and the Norwegian Space Agency are co-sponsoring the initiative.
Just like other Techstars efforts, the program tries to bring commercial firms and their cutting edge products into the defense world. But rather than physically bringing start-ups and potential military customers together in the same place, the Allied Space Accelerator is run as a virtual program.
Techstars currently has hubs in Boston and Los Angeles.
“The new mentorship-driven accelerator will focus on the next generation of space technologies with a concentration on companies in the commercial space industry. The accelerator will run similar to other Techstars accelerator programs, but will operate in a predominantly virtual manner that will not require participating companies to relocate to a physical hub for the duration of the 13-week program, a necessity for most of Techstars’ accelerators,” a company press release explains.
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.
“Participating companies will partake in the program through a heavily digital experience complemented by three 1-week on-site visits with the accelerator’s governmental partners,” the release adds. “During these in-person week-long sessions, founders will convene to work together, build camaraderie, connect with mentors and foster relationships with the partners.”
The Techstars Allied Space Accelerator will run for 13 weeks from June-September, 2020. The program is accepting applications starting today through March 3, 2020.
The goal is to equip startups to be able to pitch the Air Force and allied governments ideas for products and services as a first step towards a DoD contract. Usually, Techstars and other innovation hub proteges are funded via the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and Other Transactional Authority (OTA) money rather than via traditional contracting.
The Air Force effort to broaden its use of non-traditional funding methods is being championed by Acquisition czar Will Roper, who has personally been involved in most of the service’s recent pitch day processes including the one at Techstars in May.
The Techstars Allied Space Accelerator effort follows the Air Force’s first Space Pitch Days, held in San Francisco Nov. 5-6. During that meeting, the service awarded $22.5 million in $750,000 SBIR increments to 30 companies. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
13 Nov 19. Applications open for Space Agency funding grants. The Australian Space Agency (ASA) has opened applications for the government’s new space grants program, which allocates sums from $100,000 to $4m to eligible companies and research organisation.
This funding is for projects to build capability and capacity of the Australian space sector through engagement with international space agencies or their supply chains.
The guidelines for the International Space Investment Expand Capability program were launched in October following consultations across the country.
The government said these grants would support Australian businesses and research organisations to become involved with international space agencies or established international space programs.
The program objectives are to unlock international space opportunities for the Australian space sector, expand sector capability and capacity, and support job creation.
They also aim to demonstrate the Australian space sector’s ability to successfully deliver space-related products and services internationally and to support projects contributing to building a vision and an Australian space sector that inspires businesses, the community and the next generation of space workforce, researchers and entrepreneurs.
Grants are only available to companies incorporated in Australia or to publicly funded research institutions.
Applications close on 17 December.
The grants program, launched in the budget, isn’t enormous – $15m over three years, with $3m in 2019-20, $5m on 2020-21 and $7m in 2021-22.
Eligible activities may include research and development, product and service development, commercialising existing products and services, process design and engineering, buying, constructing, installing or commissioning of equipment or software, relevant training and skills development, and collaboration and partnership development.
Those seeking grants will need to demonstrate that a a minimum 80 per cent of the investment will be made in Australia for the benefit of Australian space industry firms.
They will also need to show how the proposed project will build the capability and capacity of the Australian space sector and how it will support jobs creation and unlock international opportunities. (Source: Space Connect)
14 Nov 19. OneWeb plans January 2020 launch of 30 satellites. Adding to the growing constellations of small satellites in low-Earth orbit, UK-based space telecommunications company OneWeb has planned its first launch of 30 satellites for January.
OneWeb plans an initial constellation of 650 satellites but the long-term plan is for around 2,000 satellites.
Like StarLink, which plans a constellation of some 12,000 satellites, OneWeb will provide lower cost internet broadband services and internet of things (IoT) connectivity.
In February, OneWeb launched its first six satellites aboard a Soyuz rocket through European launch provider Arianespace.
That launch was delayed for more than six months, largely to allow for additional satellite testing.
“We are targeting our next launch for mid-to-late January and remain on track for monthly launches thereafter and to begin service in the Arctic in late 2020 and global coverage in 2021,” the company told SpaceNews.
“We are taking the utmost care to prepare for launch and therefore are taking a few extra weeks to conduct additional tests on the satellites which will be shipped in December for launch.”
OneWeb said it will launch at least 30 satellites with each future Soyuz mission.
Although the February launch was on a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana, future launches will be from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, avoiding scheduling conflicts with upcoming Arianespace launches.
OneWeb is planning a a Soyuz launch every three weeks. OneWeb chief executive Adrian Steckel stressed the need for speed in a panel discussion last month.
“It does us no good to put up 35 satellites and wait six months and then put up another 35. We need to get these things up as quickly as possible,” he said.
Steckel sees launch prices as continuing to fall over the next two-10 years.
In addition to the 20 planned Soyuz launches, OneWeb also plans to launch 30 satellites on the maiden flight of Arianespace’s Ariane 6 in the second half of next year.
Four years ago, OneWeb contracted for 39 Virgin Orbit LauncherOne missions but cancelled all but four in 2018. Virgin has sued, claiming OneWeb still owed US$46.32m of a US$70m termination fee.
LauncherOne said Virgin has been paid more than US$48m for future launches it won’t have to provide. It also said the US$6m cost of a LauncherOne mission is double or triple current market prices.
The case is still winding its way through the US court system.
LauncherOne is planning its first commercial mission for next month. This is a two stage rocket that actually launches from an aircraft at high altitude. OneWeb and its biggest investor Softbank, is also in litigation with satellite operator Intelsat following a failed merger. Intelsat has claimed breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy to steal secret information. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Nov 19. Microlab and RF Connect Partner to Offer a New and Innovative GPS Signal Distribution Solution. Microlab, a Wireless Telecom Group company (NYSE American: WTT) and RF Connect, have partnered to develop a new and innovative in-building GPS signal distribution system. The new system consists of an integrated GPS repeater and distribution network in a package enabling precise and controllable GPS coverage, the first of which will be deployed in a testing facility of a major American automotive manufacturer. Incorporating signal conditioning and fine tuning of output power for each antenna, this new platform ensures the GPS signal does not extend beyond the desired test zone range. Driving these innovative capabilities is the new Microlab GPSD209 GPS Signal Conditioner, a 2 input, 9 output splitter with signal conditioning through variable gain settings and the ability to switch GPS outputs on and off in response to an external control signal.
It is often assumed that wireless signal availability, including GPS, is ubiquitous, however, that is not always the case and in-building environments pose many challenges for connectivity. Indoor use of GPS is often intermittent and unreliable, requiring a repeater to bring the outdoor signal inside. Microlab, with its expertise in RF and microwave products for signal distribution and deployment and RF Connect with its expertise in wireless communication and connectivity solutions were able to identify the challenges associated with bringing a GPS inside and controlling the coverage, as both continue to address unique connectivity requirements for in-building communications systems worldwide.
“Unique problems require unique solutions,” said Jeff Hipchen, Executive Vice President at RF Connect. “Rather than design, deploy and coordinate carriers for an indoor cellular network to support the use of smartphones, which is a typical use case, we adapted to deliver a ‘GPS DAS’ that uses privilege-based licenses to enable the testing of GPS navigation systems on vehicles inside a testing facility. Microlab’s agility and out-of-box thinking resulted in a specialized solution that will empower us to better address this market segment.”
“Just like cellular signals, GPS signals cannot easily penetrate building materials. This results in intermittent or non-existent GPS signals within a building,” said Luke Getto, Director of Product Management at Microlab. “Our solution captures the GPS signal on the rooftop and rebroadcasts it into a customer facility, so their equipment and devices behave as if it is outdoors.”
The Microlab GPSD209 Signal Conditioner provides 5 to 35 dB of gain range per output port using manual step attenuators for adjustment. The active section is designed to provide -55 to -85 dBm of absolute power range with a -90 dBm GPS signal input. The step attenuators can be adjusted in 1 dB increments from 0-30 dB for fine tuning GPS signal distribution. Three of the 9 ports share an external switch control that disable GPS signal. In this initial deployment the switch is connected to garage door sensors. GPS re-transmission is halted when the doors are opened allowing the test facility to bring vehicles in for testing while remaining in compliance with regulatory requirements regarding rebroadcasting and distorting GPS signals outdoors. To learn more about Microlab or RF Connect solutions, visit https://microlabtech.com/ or https://www.rfconnect.com/.
About RF Connect
RF Connect is a global leader and innovator providing telecom/wireless services to design, optimize and manage high performance wireless networks today and in the future. With an impressive portfolio backed by cutting-edge technology and top-notch teams with proven success in high profile and complex venues, RF Connect is at the forefront of world-shaping wireless technology exceeding expectations as a world-class company providing network solutions to customers that demand the utmost in reliability, security and scalability across their wireless network infrastructures. For more information visit www.rfconnect.com or LinkedIn.
About Wireless Telecom Group
Wireless Telecom Group, Inc., comprised of Boonton Electronics, CommAgility, Microlab and Noisecom, is a global designer and manufacturer of advanced RF and microwave components, modules, systems and instruments. Serving the wireless, telecommunication, satellite, military, aerospace, semiconductor and medical industries, Wireless Telecom Group products enable innovation across a wide range of traditional and emerging wireless technologies. With a unique set of high-performance products including peak power meters, signal analyzers, signal processing modules, LTE PHY and stack software, power splitters and combiners, GPS repeaters, public safety monitors, noise sources, and programmable noise generators, Wireless Telecom Group supports the development, testing, and deployment of wireless technologies around the globe.
Wireless Telecom Group, Inc.’s website address is www.wtcom.com. Except for historical information, the matters discussed in this news release may be considered “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such statements include declarations regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of the Company and its management. Prospective investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could materially affect actual results. Such risks and uncertainties are identified in the Company’s reports and registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
13 Nov 19. Industry partnership to create new wave of SA space manufacturing. South Australia-based Myriota, a global leader in nanosatellite internet of things connectivity, has confirmed a partnership with global manufacturer Motherson to produce its Myriota Module; a cutting-edge, low-powered device that securely transfers data to the Myriota Network of satellites from anywhere on the planet.
Production is well underway, with Motherson already manufacturing tens of thousands of Myriota Modules. The units are being manufactured at Motherson’s South Australian design and manufacturing facility, and subsequently delivered across the globe.
Myriota’s growing list of partners and customers include Optus, Amazon’s AWS and Boeing. It is the first partnership that Motherson has entered into with a space or internet of things (IoT) business within Australia; enabling Motherson to expand its business into these industries.
Dr David Haley, Myriota co-founder and CTO, said the collaboration shows that it is possible to keep design and manufacturing within South Australia.
“Myriota and Motherson are examples of two South Australian businesses excelling in their respective industries. Our partnership demonstrates that manufacturing capabilities in South Australia – which once primarily served the automotive industry – have diversified into new sectors, including Australia’s growing space sector,” Dr Haley explained.
Motherson will manufacture millions of units of the Myriota Module in South Australia over the next five years. Built on an edge computing platform, the Myriota Module allows for third-party integration with a huge range of sensors and devices.
These devices communicate directly with Myriota’s nanosatellites to provide sensor data updates on valuable resources to a wide range of businesses.
Sam Vial, Motherson business development director for Asia-Pacific, said the partnership is an important step in diversifying its business.
“We’re thrilled to become Myriota’s manufacturing partner and expand our operations to include the space and IoT sectors. This partnership will help to sustain jobs in our South Australian facility, with products being both designed and manufactured locally,” Vial added.
One of the first customers to benefit from the partnership is Zepiro. The Australian business recently purchased their first order of Myriota Modules for use by clients in the mining sector, and COO Damien Cox said that the business is very excited about the potential.
“The Myriota Module provides a great market opportunity for our business in industries like mining and agriculture where long-endurance remote resource monitoring is vital. The low-cost and robust nature of this technology allows us to economically retrieve critical telemetry from difficult to access locations,” Cox explained.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall was elated to see South Australian manufacturing being leveraged in order to support the growth of the state’s space industry.
“This is yet another example of two companies collaborating across this exciting, high-growth industry in our state, creating the jobs of the future. Myriota is a proud South Australian company now making an impact on an international scale. Partnerships like this bolster South Australia’s reputation as a global leader across the space sector, attracting even more national and international companies to invest in our state,” Premier Marshall said.
Based in Adelaide, a focal point of the Australian space industry and home of the Australian Space Agency, Myriota has a growing portfolio of more than 20 patents, and support from major Australian and international investors.
With deep heritage in telecommunications research, world-first transmission of IoT data direct to nanosatellite was achieved in 2013.
Motherson Group is a global group, providing full system solutions to the automotive industry, from design, simulation and prototyping to tooling, moulding, painting and final assembly of highly integrated modules. (Source: Space Connect)
08 Nov 19. USAF Testing Novel ISR Sensors For LEO Sats. Aerospace was able to build and test both sats within 16 months, and launch them after only 18 months — a fraction of the average seven to eight years it traditionally has taken the service.
The Air Force’s ground-breaking Rogue CubeSats will launch from the International Space Station in early 2020 to test new short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors that can see through smoke and haze, as well as process the gathered imagery.
“Data provided to the Air Force will help in investigating potential uses of the capability and as a pathfinder for ingesting LEO data into existing processing algorithms,” SMC said.
The two satellites, according to Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Development Corps, carry both visible-light and infrared sensors, as well as a high-speed laser communications downlink. In particular, the experiment will help to establish proof of concept for the new SWIR sensor as a potential capability for future mission applications.
SWIR sensors are special. They can see through smoke and haze night and day. They can detect, and differentiate, among types of gas and chemicals on the surface (allowing users to discriminate wood from plastic, for example.) SWIR sensors also can detect invisible laser beams.
SWIR cameras based on Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAS) require no cryogenic cooling, which means they are lightweight and so optimal for small satellites. Further, because SWIR is a reflected energy like visible light, it can identify objects at night without additional illumination.
Such sensors are currently in vogue as potential enablers of a number of commercial and military capabilities, from SWIR LIDAR for autonomous vehicles to Earth imaging to surveillance cameras to telecommunications to weapons guidance. A number of commercial satellite imaging firms, such as Maxar Technologies, already are using SWIR sensors.
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.
Rogue Alpha and Beta, build by the Aerospace Corporation, are 3-unit CubeSats (CubeSats are structured as modular cubes) about the size of a shoebox. They were launched to the ISS on Nov. 2 by an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket. The two tiny satellites will subsequently will be launched from the ISS into a 500 kilometer orbit, and undertake imagery gathering and processing experiments for about a year, SMC’s Development Corps told Breaking D in an email. They will naturally re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere within two to three years so as not to become space debris.
Another goal of the project was to demonstrate new, rapid development and acquisition methodologies.
“Rogue Alpha/Beta gets its name from its new approach to rapid acquisition,” the SMC official explained. “Instead of taking years to design and build while costing tens of millions of dollars to fund and launch like traditional satellites, the CubeSats demonstrate design and build at a fraction of the cost to achieve quick lessons learned.”
Aerospace was able to build and test both sats within 16 months, and launch at 18 months out — a fraction of the average seven to eight years it traditionally has taken the service. The company did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
“The program will provide insight for future rapid reconstitution efforts, enabling a cost effective, resilient, and adaptive ability to maintain U.S. space warfighting capabilities,” SMC said. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
09 Nov 19. Bridging the space information gap between government and industry. The space industry now has its own information sharing and analysis center. But what does an ISAC actually do, and why does the United States need one dedicated to space?
There are about two dozen ISACs within the United States. These nonprofit organizations essentially act as an industry go-between, sharing knowledge about cybersecurity and other threats.
“ISACs are member-driven organizations that gather, analyze and disseminate cyberthreat information among themselves and with the government,” explained Jaisha Wray, cybersecurity director of the National Security Council, Nov. 7 at the CyberSat19 conference. “Because these ISACs are sector-focused and member-driven, they can select the specific cyberthreat information and perform analysis on what is particularly relevant to the industry in which the members operate.”
But until this year there was no ISAC dedicated to space.
“ISACs represent what is known as critical infrastructure to the country, and space was not recognized as critical infrastructure,” said Frank Backes, a senior vice president at Kratos. “We know space is critical infrastructure, but it wasn’t recognized formally by [the Department of Homeland Security] as critical infrastructure.”
However, that all changed 18 months ago. Following conversations between Kratos, the Trump administration and the Science and Technology Partnership Forum, a Space ISAC was formed, first announced in April. And Nov. 7, after months of workshops and the addition of new members, the new group held its first board meeting.
Just an hour before that first board meeting at CyberSat19, Backes and other members of the board sat down to explain what makes the new organization unique.
Part of what makes the Space ISAC unique, explained Backes, is the variety of companies and types of services within the space industry, all of whom he wants participating in the new organization.
“There are launch providers, and we want launch providers to be part of the organization. There are space vehicle manufacturing companies that we want to be members in the ISAC. There are space communications companies that we want to (be members),” said Backes.
The Space ISAC even has board members that aren’t involved with manufacturing space vehicles or operating large constellations of satellites.
“We don’t do satellites. We’re not going to build Mars rovers. But what we do deal with data and information,” said Chris Bogdan, who leads Booz Allen Hamilton’s aerospace business and represents the company on the Space ISACs board. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to be able to bring some of that expertise in — in how you protect data and how you move data around and the threats that go along with that — to the ISAC, and both educate folks and ourselves get educated on what the art and the science of space is, especially in the commercial industry today. So it’s kind of a win-win for Booz Allen.”
Another unique aspect to the space industry is the role commercial companies play in providing space-based services, especially satellite communications. The Space ISAC will ensure that these commercial companies get the cybersecurity information they need to protect their systems and national security space as a whole.
“The difference we see in this Space ISAC from [the Defense ISAC] is we’re bringing in the commercial companies,” said Clark VanBuskirk, vice president for advanced program development for Lockheed Martin Space, who joined the board Nov. 7. “Especially with the volume of those commercial companies being at times smaller, they are not going to have the resources that Lockheed may have to put in place, like our information defense framework that we have in place to cover our own network. So this way, we can help keep ourselves tied together for those activities.”
“I’m hearing an awful lot of DoD saying, ‘We want to leverage the commercial space industry for a lot of what we do, whether it’s to back up the capabilities that we have to actually using their satellites as an onboarding place for some of the stuff we want to do,’” said Bogdan. “If commercial space is going to play some role in the military and intel side of space, well, then it’s probably good for the commercial space side to understand the vulnerabilities that DoD is already seeing in our space architectures.”
Additionally, national security space is an international industry. The supply chain for any space vehicle or payload likely spans multiple continents, and appropriate cybersecurity needs to follow that supply chain. Additionally, there are international companies that play a large role in national security space.
“We’re definitely incorporating both commercial and international companies into the organization,” added Backes, pointing out that one international company, SES, had already joined the board. “SES is an important player, but we’re also reaching out and talking to OneWeb and other players as well, and now that we’re having our first board meeting today, literally, our goal is then to discuss how we’re going to open membership up to the rest of the space community.”
Moving forward, the Space ISAC will serve as the primary communications channel for space threats and best cybersecurity practices for industry. (Source: glstrade.com/)
12 Nov 19. Airbus welcomes Australia as up and coming space nation. Airbus, a major player in space technology, sees Australia as an up and coming space nation and a partner of choice as both prepare for the next generation of space industries. The company is already well established in Australia, with 1,600 people mostly supporting Australian Defence Force helicopters, but it plans to set up a space division in Airbus Australia Pacific.
“We see Australia investing massively in space,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, head of space systems for Airbus.
“We want to be the Australian partner of choice. We already have a company of 1,600 people in Australia doing helicopter maintenance with Airbus Australia. You will soon see a division of space within the company to serve Australia.”
In a briefing to journalists in Germany, Mr Nasr said that before being in charge of space, he headed Airbus Asia Pacific based in Singapore and spent considerable time in Australia meeting the Australian Space Agency and also South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.
“A lot of steps have been taken, investing in R&D capability, having developments launched in Australia with partners, and we are going to do more,” he said.
Airbus was an early partner to the Australian Space Agency, signing a Joint Statement of Strategic Intent and Cooperation in September last year.
One the defence side, Airbus is pitching for JP9102, a $2-3bn project to deliver next-generation military SATCOM capabilities.
Currently, Australia relies on the US military WGS system plus some commercial satellites, but the future system will feature greater Australian sovereignty, capability and more redundancy.
Mr Nasr said Airbus was in ongoing discussions. Airbus proposes to draw on its experience in providing satellites communications networks for the UK and France.
“What Australia wants to do with JP9102 is completely feasible with the solution we have in our hands. Going with us will be a shortcut for Australia,” he said.
“We don’t see this as a program to sell from Europe to Australia. We expect this to be the start of an Australian-based story. It’s about a sovereign Australian program.
“Our goal in discussions with Australia is to set up what is necessary in Australia to make it a completely Australian program with Australian jobs and Australian operators.”
Mr Nasr said space was in the Airbus DNA. He said space was key to everything, and Airbus was present in all areas of space activities, including human space flight.
Airbus started in the space business in 1965 with the launch of the first European satellite named Asterix.
The company is now responsible for 50 per cent of all commercial launches by its subsidiary Ariane, for up to 50 per cent of Earth observation satellites and more than 25 per cent of all telecommunications satellites.
Mr Nasr said the US had decided to return humans to the moon, but there would be no boots on the moon in 2024 without Airbus.
The company is in charge of developing the service module for the Orion spacecraft, which will take humans to the moon and eventually Mars. That provides power, propulsion and life support for the crewed capsule.
“We work with partners all around the planet. We have plans to expand beyond what we do in the US on the moon race,” he said. (Source: Space Connect)
10 Nov 19. Earth and ocean observation technologies to be worth trillions: Science Minister. The report recently released by Commonwealth shows Earth and marine observing is currently worth $29bn to Australia and $543bn to APEC economies. The value to Australia is forecast to increase to $96bn by 2030, or $101bn if Australia makes the most of opportunities to collaborate with other APEC economies.
Earth and marine observing is the collection, analysis and interpretation of information on the Earth’s natural systems and has broad applications in disaster management, mining and agriculture.
“Digital technologies using Earth observation data are changing the way we live and work and offer opportunities to deliver enormous economic growth and job creation across a variety of industries,” Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said.
Minister Andrews launched the report at the 2019 Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Week in Canberra.
“This data can be used to improve transport logistics, increase agricultural productivity and predict weather changes to improve natural disaster response. This report further emphasises how embracing digital technologies will help to grow our economy, create local jobs, and benefit everyday Australians.”
The report also found that there was an extra $183 bn in value to be realised by 2030 if the APEC regions works together.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan is hosting the international GEO Week Ministerial Summit, welcoming representatives from more than 40 countries.
Minister Canavan said Earth and marine observation plays a critical role in the mining industry, where collaboration in new technologies is critical to unlocking new growth.
“In mining exploration, this technology can generate topographic maps or detect oil seeps from deep water petroleum reserves. Our resources sector is amongst the best in the world and a leader in adopting new technology to boost exploration and productivity,” Minister Canavan explained.
Minister Canavan added, “The report estimates that the current economic value of Earth and marine observation to our mining industry is $4 bn. We want to grow that even further so we can keep creating jobs and wealth for Australians on the back of advancing technology.”
The government has also invested $36.9m dollars in Digital Earth Australia, which uses satellite technology to produce useful information in areas such as soil and coastal erosion, land use, resource management and the availability of water. This investment is part of the government’s broader plan to use Earth observation and mapping technology to create new opportunities and grow the economy. (Source: Space Connect)
07 Nov 19. NSR Analysis: The Grand C-band Debate: Too Early to Predict a Winner? Two years since Intelsat first proposed it, C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 GHz) repurposing has been a consistent news maker. Marred with differences of opinion on spectrum proceeds vs. the urgency of 5G deployment in the U.S., the proposal has been a political talking point:
- Whether to repurpose spectrum privately or publicly?
- And what happens to the proceeds, and how much does the U.S. Treasury stand to benefit to fund rural broadband projects?
From an initial 100 MHz originally offered by Intelsat, the position changed to 200 MHz repurposing with the C-band Alliance (now Intelsat, SES and Telesat comprising CBA) in early 2019. The latest proposal offers 300 MHz up for auction within 36 months (100 MHz in first 18 months). Is this timely enough?
To answer the above questions – let’s looks at the fundamental reasoning: Currently 120 million households in the U.S. rely on video programming over C-band, which is largely leased (>90 percent) by Intelsat and SES (U.S.), making use of more than 250 transponders on several satellites, including data related applications as well – as presented by NSR in its 3rd Sept Op-ed.
Even though such a massive market exists (>$350M revenue YoY in short term), this mid band spectrum is arguably best suited for 5G, and thus in line with other countries – it needs to be auctioned for 5G.
Why 5G? Because there is an urgency towards growing GDP (fuelled by a magnitude higher bandwidth) and given that China is rolling out 5G (in 2019-2020) at least 2-3 years ahead of the U.S.
But why CBA? Because it is an assortment of all C-band lease providers in the U.S., thus making it easier to efficiently repurpose.
This A-B-C-D approach has been lauded within the telecom/satellite industry, and equally criticized for reasons that a private auction limits U.S. Government of critical funds to build rural broadband and that small satellite operators (who currently don’t lease capacity in U.S. on C-band) aren’t compensated for their current supply.
NSR’s Position and Financial Implications for Satellite Operators
With the above reasoning, NSR believes that the critical need to rollout 5G and the case for rural broadband will overpower other arguments, leading to a combination of proposals being considered by the FCC – from the CBA, by representatives of U.S. Congress and the Cable Association.
While probability of public auction grows day by day, lag in timeline will most certainly affect the urgency need for 5G as well as compensation to operators. In it’s U.S. C-Band Repurposing for 5G: Impacts and Analysis report, NSR estimates that CBA operators could land proceeds (post U.S. Treasury cut and Tax) between $6.7-$9bn for a sale between 200-300 MHz.
NSR estimates that up to 40 percent of proceeds amount could be taxed on top of a significant ~35-45 percent tranche going to the U.S. Treasury for rural broadband purposes in a public auction. While operators could spend up to $1.4bn costs for repurposing 200 MHz spectrum, they could well cough up to $2.5bn with 25 percent-35 percent cost upside (due to stringent timelines) in case of a 300 MHz auction.
Thus, the Minimum Net Proceeds for a 200 MHz case are estimated in the range of ~$6.7B, while this could be towards ~$9B in the scenario of 300 MHz case on account of higher MHz sale, albeit higher satellite + ground segment repurposing costs, higher percent proceeds to Treasury and missed short-medium term revenues towards data applications. The higher costs are expected given changes needed at consumer side equipment to allow for better transmission and compression (DVB-S2X and HEVC), resulting in 50 percent bandwidth gains a well as adding filters to Earth stations to account for changed frequencies.
While the upside remains very high ($6.7-$9B in Net Proceeds) for satellite operators to repurpose mid C-band spectrum, significant challenges remain with timelines extending up to 5 years (on account of probable 2022 auction + time to replace satellite/ground segment). The race to 5G with China, the negative GDP impact due to 5G rollout delay and the existing legal framework on protecting current C-band leaser rights does push the CBA case, and it is expected that the FCC/Treasury will negotiate a fair share of proceeds to the U.S. to enable this sale without long-term litigation.
Meanwhile, mobile operators are expected to remain cautious on spectrum spending vs 5G infrastructure deployment, with limited resources on hand, possibly giving indirect support to this extended timeline for repurposing. (Source: Satnews)
07 Nov 19. How the Space Cybersecurity Working Group fosters communication. In September 2018, the Trump administration added space cybersecurity to the National Cyber Strategy.
Of course, adding space cybersecurity to a strategy document doesn’t automatically make those systems secure from cyberthreats. In the year since that document was adopted, the Space Cybersecurity Working Group has been trying to make the administration’s desire that United States space assets are cybersecure a reality.
“The National Security Council, in very close coordination with the National Space Council, as well as the Office of the vice president, decided to form an inner agency group called the Space Cybersecurity Working Group,” explained Jaisha Wray, cybersecurity director of the National Security Council. “The goals of our working group are to identify and coordinate and prioritize U.S. government efforts to manage cybersecurity risks to space systems.”
As the cybersecurity director of the National Security Council, Wray is in charge of developing international cybersecurity partnerships. Previously she served as the acting deputy director of emerging security challenges at the Department of State, where she helped build space and cyber policies. At the CyberSat19 conference Nov. 7, Wray explained how her Space Cybersecurity Working Group was fostering communications between various organizations to enhance cybersecurity in space.
Key to developing effective cybersecurity across the nation’s space systems is communication, be it between space and cyber communities, the U.S. and international partners, or the government and industry, said Wray.
“What we saw was that across departments and agencies in the U.S. government, the space and the cyber people are often located in different offices in different bureaus, and so one of the early successes of our working group is simply just bringing these folks together to try to reduce stovepipes, compare notes and provide updates,” she explained.
Those meetings are ongoing and have been embraced by both communities, said Wray.
The National Cyber Strategy also directed the National Security Council to enhance partnerships between the U.S. government and commercial and other space-faring nations.
“This is particularly important since our efforts in space are becoming increasingly intertwined, both commercially and internationally, and we must ensure that all space systems — not just U.S. government satellites — are protected from cyberthreats,” said Wray. “However, a key challenge is convincing others to spend the extra money and resources necessary to make their satellites more secure when the extent of the threat is not always well known or available in the public domain. So this is why both internationally and with industry we plan to enhance our efforts to raise awareness and share information on cyberthreats and to develop and share best practices and principles to counter these threats.”
On the industry front, the working group is backing the efforts of the newly established Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). ISACs are member-driven groups that work with the government to spread information through industry. The formation of a separate Space ISAC was announced in April, and the group held its first board meeting Nov. 7.
“We were very pleased to see and now support the efforts of the new Space ISAC, which will help gather, analyze and disseminate critical cyberthreat information related to space among the federal commercial and international community,” said Wray.
While the technical side of enhancing space cybersecurity presents its own challenge, it’s clear that a major gap in implementing cybersecurity in space is connecting the various stakeholders, be they commercial companies, various agencies or other countries.
“I’m confident that through the Space Cybersecurity Working Group, we can continue to make progress and working cooperatively to address these threats,” said Wray. (Source: Fifth Domain)
07 Nov 19. All systems ‘Go’: How China plans to control space. The nation’s top official for assessing the military capabilities of foreign powers believes China is playing a specific game in space in its efforts to become the premier power in space.
Go is a board game invented in China thousands of years ago where players strategically place stones on a board to capture the most territory.
“The object of Go is to block and deny territory to your opponent. Unlike chess, you’re not going after a king or a queen and there’s not a final move where you’re declared victor. You add up points on the board based on the amount of territory or space that you control. Think of that in the context of aerial denial and aerial defense,” said Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Nov. 7 at the CyberSat19 conference.
Looking to the South China Sea, where China has built artificial islands to further its claims to the area, Ashley said he saw a direct connection between the ancient board game and China’s modern military strategy.
“I started seeing literally what is a game of Go being played on the planet,” said the director. “That game is also being played in space.”
The DIA is responsible for informing the military, policy makers and — to an extent — the public on the military capabilities and intentions of foreign nations. As the head of that agency, Ashley said China wants to use space to further its influence, with ambitions that extend far beyond its own borders
“Their recent defense white paper places an increased focus on worldwide use of full-spectrum operations to safeguard Beijing’s increasingly complex and far reaching interests, interests that go well beyond the [Indo-Pacific region],” said Ashley. “Beijing stresses that the national security issues facing China becomes far more subjects, extends over a greater range and cover a longer time span than any time in their country’s history.”
In pursuit of that goal, the Chinese government wants to be able to offset any space-based capability that might be advantageous to the United States, be it military, civilian or commercial, said Ashley. Furthermore, the director explained that China’s doctrine insists that those space-based capabilities, including reconnaissance, early warning, communication and navigation systems would be potential first targets of an attack.
China has been building up its anti-satellite weapons since 2007 to include kinetic weapons, jamming devices that can block GPS or satellite communications, and ground-based lasers. China also has a repair/inspection satellite on orbit that could be used to damage other satellites.
“I’m sure you can imagine the dual-use capability of such a satellite,” said Ashley.
Russia has its own inspection satellite on orbit, as does the United States. DARPA is also developing a satellite with robotic arms for the United States, which it wants on orbit by 2022.
China has also built up its own space capabilities, and Ashley noted that China will boast the largest GPS-like system in space by 2020.
“China has conducted more space-oriented operations in 2018 than any other nation and possesses 250 military, civilian and commercial satellites in orbit — second only to the U.S.,” said Ashley.
The DIA has put out two unclassified reports detailing China’s counter-space efforts: one on China’s military ambitions and capabilities as a whole and a separate report on threats to space more broadly.
The potential threat posed by China to space has spurred a response from the government, said Ashley, including the stand up of a U.S. Space Command and the imminent creation of a Space Force.
“I’ve painted a rather negative picture of things that are evolving,” said Ashley. “It will take vigilance and determination to preserve space as a peaceful domain.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Nov 19. Hiber’s Smallsat IoT Network is Now Live. Following the launch of its first smallsats into the stratosphere in late 2018, Dutch startup Hiber has announced that the firm’s Internet of Things (IoT) network is now live.
After only three years of product development, the commercial launch of the fully automated end-to-end service known as Hiberband, marks the latest step for Hiber, where it will see its first customers trialing the technology.
Hiber’s first customers will be trialing the service over the coming months with projects based in the 90% of the world that have previously lacked a network. Hiber is unlocking a $100bn opportunity for growth in the wider IoT market and the network will power projects working hard to improve people’s lives and make a positive impact on the environment.
Existing terrestrial networks (such as Lora, NB-IoT or GSM) only work in urban areas, while traditional satellites that provide wider coverage are expensive and power hungry. Hiberband is disrupting global connectivity by empowering individuals and organisations to reliably transmit data (text message size) from the world’s most hard-to-reach places for less than a dollar per month per device with its state of the art end-to-end service.
With more than 70 customers already signed up, projects on every continent will benefit from Hiberband. Any industry operating in remote and developing areas can use the network, with early adopters being from government, environment, transport & logistics, agriculture and mining. A sample of some of the first uses cases to trial the network include:
– Soil Moisture Monitoring – Monitoring soil moisture levels on farms helps farmers understand whether their crops need water. The sensors developed by Hiber partner Royal Eijkelkamp ensure that farmers make the right irrigation decisions, reducing water waste and increasing crop yields. Hiberband makes this solution globally available.
– Beehive Monitoring – Bees have been facing the threat of extinction for more than fifteen years, and Hiberband’s technology will be instrumental in ensuring successful cultivation and preservation of bee colonies. Bee farmers can monitor the environment inside hives anywhere on the globe using sensors connected via Hiberband, ensuring that the conditions are optimal for bee survival and honey production.
– Crop Monitoring / Post Harvest – Monitoring crops will help farmers across the world reduce food waste and spoiled crops. Centaur Analytics has developed an “Internet-of-Crops™” platform that monitors the condition of harvests all the way from the farm to the consumer. Hiber enables Centaur to provide customers in the US and globally with updates on crop conditions no matter where they are in the world.
Hiber will introduce two networks, Hiberband Direct (a modem + antenna that talks directly to Hiber’s satellites) and a gateway solution, Hiberband Via, which can operate on LoRa (a network widely used for IoT connectivity), Bluetooth or WiFi. Hiber launched its first two satellites from sites in Sriharikota, India and California, USA in November and December, 2018. It will be launching its third and fourth satellites in Q1 2020 also in Sriharikota, India.
Laurens Groenendijk, Managing Director Commercial and co-founder at Hiber (and co-founder of JustEat and Treatwell) said, “We are extremely proud to announce that after only 3 years of hard work, Hiberband is the first network of its kind to become operational on a global scale. We have the team, partners, technology and regulatory building blocks in place to shortly be the industry leader. With full freedom to operate everywhere in the world, we are looking forward to supporting our customers wherever they need to be.”
Sotiris Bantas, CEO at Centaur Analytics said, “Earth’s growing population combined with climate change is placing enormous stress on the world’s food supply chain. The lack of transparency in the chain is causing about one third of the crops in the world to be wasted before consumption. Together with Hiber, we are now able to effectively monitor crops after harvest globally – no matter the location. This means that Centaur and Hiber together combat food waste and promote sustainability, while at the same time providing new business opportunities for producers, traders, and CPG companies.” (Source: Satnews)
04 Nov 19. France, Israel, Japan, Russia, and the U.S. Vie to Supply High-Res Earth Observation Satellites to Vietnam. Earth observation satellite manufacturers from France, Israel, Japan, Russia, and the United States are vying to build a high-resolution imaging satellite for Vietnam, according to French online publication Intelligence Online.
The Vietnamese government has reportedly allocated a budget of U.S.$1bn over the next few years for the Earth observation programme.
French company Thales and its subsidiary Thales Alenia Space are running their bid for the project out of the regional office in Singapore and are believed to be in discussions with Vietnamese officials in Hanoi, although Intelligence Online reports that these talks have been held up due to a dispute on the French side.
Another French company, Airbus Defence and Space, is also competing to provide its proposed Earth observation satellite to Vietnam, with its sales and marketing director Guy Limouzin leading the charge in Hanoi.
Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space have teamed up in the past to build high-resolution Earth observation satellites to countries like Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
Other competitors for the bid include Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) who have built the high-resolution Ofek reconnaissace satellites for the Israeli government and have dispatched Singapore-headquartered consultant Haya Meshel to Hanoi on their behalf.
Israeli defence and security firms such as Rafael and Elbit Systems are already well established in Vietnam, and IAI recently supplied Hanoi with three of its Heron-1 unmanned aerial vehicles.
From the United States, Lockheed Martin are in the race to supply Vietnam with its Earth observation satellite, and according to Intelligence Online, also have a team of consultants in Hanoi pitching to and lobbying government officials there.
Lockheed Martin are well known in Vietnam having built two communications satellites for Hanoi, VinaSat-1 in 2008 and VinaSat-2 in 2012.
Russia is also thought to be lobbying Vietnamese officials to build their imaging satellite, though it is not known at the time of reporting which entity or entities is representing the interests of Moscow.
Finally, Japanese companies are also vying for the Vietnamese contract using their longstanding trade and economic ties with Hanoi as leverage. Only recently it was announced that Japanese satellite manufacturer NEC signed a contract with the Vietnamese government to build the LotuSat-1 Earth observation satellite that is being paid for by Japanese international aid funds. (Source: Satnews/SpaceWatch Asia Pacific)
04 Nov 19. China Launches Three Chinese Satellites Plus a Sudanese SRSS-1 Smallsat. On Sunday November 3, China launched a new Earth Observation (EO) satellite, Gaofen-7, which will play an important role in land surveying and mapping, urban and rural construction and statistical investigation, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
The Gaofen-7, launched on a Long March-4B rocket at 11:22 a.m. (Beijing Time) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province, is China’s first, civil-use, optical transmission, three-dimensional surveying and mapping satellite that reaches the sub-meter level, CNSA said.
The satellite and carrier rocket were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The users of the Gaofen-7 satellite will be mainly from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Bureau of Statistics.
Via the same carrier rocket, three other commercial and scientific experiment satellites including one developed for Sudan were also sent into space.
The satellites onboard include Gaofen 7, Xiaoxiang-1 08, Whampoa 1, all belonging to China, plus a remote sensing satellite owned by Sudan. The Sudan Remote Sensing Satellite, SRSS-1, was developed for the Sudanese government by the Shenzhen Aerospace Oriental Red Sea Satellite Co.
The Sudanese smallsat was designed for both civil and military remote sensing mainly over Sudan, whose objectives are to generate a comprehensive, cost-effective and reliable data base on the topographic mapping, natural resources for developmental planning, exploration of natural resources, environmental monitoring, agricultural monitoring and yield estimation and beside public security (intelligence) and defence applications. The aim of the government is toward the establishment of the space industry in Sudan by owning the first Sudanese satellite and the development of ground facilities in Khartoum North.
The development of the Gaofen-7 has achieved a breakthrough in sub-meter level 3D mapping camera technology, meeting the highest mapping accuracy requirement among the Gaofen series Earth observation satellites, CNSA said. The satellite can obtain high-resolution optical 3D observation data and high-precision laser altimetry data and can realize 1:10,000 scale satellite 3D mapping for civil use in China, according to CNSA. (Source: Satnews)
04 Nov 19. Aerospace Corporation’s Rogue CubeSats Successfully Delivered by Cygnus Spacecraft to ISS for SMC. The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully launched the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta Cube Satellites on November 2, 2019.
Lift-off occurred at 9:59 a.m. ET from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia. The Cygnus capsule will mate with the International Space Station and the satellites will remain there until deployment in early 2020.
SMC and partners have now reported that the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats have been successfully delivered to the International Space Station.
The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A November 2 at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft, which carried the Aerospace Cubesats to orbit aboard the S.S. Alan Bean, named in honor of the Apollo 12 moonwalker and Skylab 2 astronaut who died last year, was successfully grappled by the Canadarm 2 robotic arm on November 4 at 4:10 a.m. EST over the island nation of Madagascar for berthing to the space station’s Unity module by NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. The cubesats will remain there until deployment in January 2020.
The Aerospace Cubesats have officially achieved their priority mission of developing a smallsat LEO constellation in just 18 months. The cubesats will now collect data on cloud backgrounds to inform future LEO missions. The Air Force will also utilize this program’s data to investigate potential uses of the capability.
Colonel Dennis Bythewood, SMC’s program Executive Officer for Space Development, noted that the Cubesats have been successfully delivered to the International Space Station and SMC is now awaiting their deployment so that data can be collected for future space development missions.
Dr. Jeff Emdee, GM of the Space Development Division at The Aerospace Corporation, said the company is pleased to have delivered the Aerospace Rogue CubeSats to the International Space Station. The cubesats were conceived under the firm’s Agile Mission Assurance initiative to demonstrate a rapid reconstitution capability and were designed and produced for SMC’s Development Corps in less than 18 months using the small form factor of the proven AeroCube platform.”
This delivery, on Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo flight to the space station and the first under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations. The NG-12 Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until January before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Original launch news story
The Aerospace CubeSats have officially achieved their priority mission of developing a small LEO constellation in just 18 months. The satellites will now collect data on cloud backgrounds to inform future LEO missions. The USAF will also use this program’s data to investigate potential uses of the capability.
The Rogue CubeSat Program, a dual smallsat program co-developed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and The Aerospace Corporation, finished preparations for launch and was fully integrated onboard Northrop Grumman’s Antares Cygnus launch vehicle at Wallops Island, Virginia, on November 1.
Colonel Dennis Bythewood, Program Executive Officer for Space Development, said the successful launch of the Aerospace CubeSats marks a huge achievement for SMC and its partners. This mission has set a precedent for speed and will also provide us with much needed data for future space development programs.
The cubesats were designed, built, and tested by The Aerospace Corporation, a national nonprofit corporation that operates as a federally funded research and development center dedicated to advancing the nation’s missions in space. The Rogue Cubesats design emphasizes Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) sensors, non-exotic parts and features a high-speed laser communications system that will enable downlinks of large image files. These dual smallsats will also use novel wavelengths for infrared sensing.
The mission priority is to investigate the feasibility of developing small and low-cost satellites as a means of rapidly reconstituting a proliferated LEO constellation. Rogue has succeeded so far by meeting its targeted 16-month design, build, and test timeline. The satellites will also work on jump starting LEO cloud scene processing and provide test data for new short-wave infrared band satellites. (Source: Satnews)
04 Nov 19. The First Iodine-Propellant Smallsat is Launched. The satellite was sent into space by a Long March 4B (CZ-4B) carrier rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China’s Shanxi Province, on November 3, 2019, at 11:22AM (Beijing time). The 6U smallsat, built by Spacety, includes an iodine propulsion system developed and built by ThrustMe.
Known as the I2T5, this propulsion system uses a first-of-its-kind, non-pressurized, cold gas thruster fueled by solid iodine. Designed with cubesats in mind, the I2T5 will help ensure a sustainable space industry by extending the lifetime of satellite missions, and enabling collision avoidance maneuvers. In the future, ThrustMe’s additional, iodine based, electric propulsion systems, will additionally enable orbital changes, constellation phasing, and orbit maintenance.
Ane Aanesland, Co-Founder and CEO of ThrustMe, said this is a historic launch in so many ways: for ThrustMe, for Spacety and for the whole space community. Iodine propellant is finally being demonstrated in space. The first time iodine was discussed as a good candidate to replace pressurized gases, such as xenon, was in 2008. Since then, many research institutions, companies and space agencies have worked on developing iodine propulsion systems, including NASA with its IceCube mission. That ThrustMe is the first company to succeed in launching the first propulsion system operating with iodine as a propellant highlights the significant impact startups can have on innovation and technology advancements.
This is ThrustMe’s first launch and the company has developed a wide portfolio of smart propulsion systems for smallsats. This mission puts ThrustMe on the map as one of the few space startups with commercially available and space proven propulsion products.
This launch also demonstrated a notable change in the space industry, where startups from Europe and Asia joined forces to develop a mission with an extremely rapid development time, from idea to launch in less than a year, from contract to launch in eight months. ThrustMe and Spacety, with this first launch together, have demonstrated the importance of open minded international collaborations, according to the firms.
The I2T5 has already generated significant customer traction and will be used to propel an ISIS 6U spacecraft for the Royal Thai Air Force, to be launched in 2020, as well as the ROBUSTA-3A satellite developed by the Université de Montpellier. Several other commercial contracts have also been signed, but these clients and missions remain confidential at this stage.
The development and industrialization of the I2T5 has been supported by the French government via the BPIFrance I-LAB, and the European Unions’ Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 823337. The French National Space Agency (CNES) is now supporting future I2T5 enhancements.
Dmytro Rafalskyi, Co- Founder and CTO of ThrustMe, added that the I2T5 is designed for cubesats — it required only six weeks from identifying a real market need, to having a first working prototype. This was achieved by leveraging all of the work already done to develop the iodine propellant storage and feed system for the ion engine.
Weijia REN, Co- Founder and CTO of Spacety Today, noted that when the company spoke with ThrustMe about the impressive achievements they had made in the development of iodine fueled propulsion, the company knew that Spacety would be up to this historic task to make it to space in record time. The firm also saw the potential in a long-term collaboration with ThrustMe to provide the best propulsion solutions to clients in China. The majority of 3U and 6U cubesats do not have any propulsion capability as no viable solutions are offered that are safe, simple, and cost effective. Satellite operators are weary of expensive and paperwork-intensive products that include pressurized systems or flammable propellants. (Source: Satnews)
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