Sponsored By Viasat
06 Dec 19. SAS prepares to push ahead with planned 2020 satellite launch. Aussie space company Sky and Space Global (SAS) said it is proceeding towards the launch of its first eight commercial nano-satellites to provide global internet coverage, once it has raised more capital. In its financial report for 2018-19, the company said the company was seeking to raise a total of $15.875m through an offer to existing shareholders and to investors.
Complicating plans the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) issued a stop order in relation to the share issue prospectus. SAS said it expected that would be lifted with the lodgement of the financial report and resolution of ASIC concerns.
SAS incorporated in the UK in 2015 and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in May 2016. The company is based in Perth and is well advanced in plans for what it calls the Pearls constellation of as many as 200 nanosatellites in equatorial orbit, providing low-cost communications, data and internet services for markets in Africa, South America and Asia.
SAS is proposing an additional satellite constellation, allowing full global coverage, including Australia, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina and Canada. The company has more than 50 agreements in place for use of its services.
In 2017, SAS Global launched three prototype satellites on an Indian rocket to test its technology. SAS said that gave it more than two years of space proven heritage de-risking deployment, operations and the business model.
SAS remains in voluntary suspension from trading on the ASX. The company the suspension will end once the capital raising is completed, two Australian resident directors are appointed and all ASX requirements are satisfied.
In the latest report, SAS directors said in May 2019, SAS reached three years since listing on the ASX, with more than 50 potential future customers signed up.
The company’s skilled workforce has expanded, with 50 staff, supporting current and future operations.
“The company has been very busy putting in place the foundations necessary to become a successful global commercial nanosatellite company and a satellite communication service provider that sets new standards in the global space industry through technological innovation,” the report said.
The company plans for the commercial service of its 6U nano-satellites constellation to begin in fourth quarter next year.
SAS reported a consolidated loss of $30m for 2018-19, compared with $8.3m the previous year. (Source: Space Connect)
04 Dec 19. DoD, Commerce Wrangle New Commercial Remote Sensing Regs.
“It’s mostly a bunch of backward-looking colonels at DoD” causing the problems, said one industry source, “not the IC.”
The Defense and Commerce department are in talks over whether to relax rules for commercial remote sensing satellites that could be kicked upstairs to Secretaries Mark Esper and Wilbur Ross over the next few weeks, insiders say.
The Commerce Department wants to relax the rules. Some in the Pentagon don’t. The two sides are scheduled to meet tomorrow at the policy level to informally discuss post-comment period revisions to the Commerce Department rule-making originally issued in May, and hopefully smooth out remaining — or new — areas of friction. But, if a mutual understanding cannot be reached, a series of meetings up the chain of command will take place over the next couple weeks — perhaps all the way to the principals level.
Complicating the discussions, insiders say, is that there continues to be disagreement within the DoD about any relaxation of restrictions on commercial sales of remote sensing data.
“It’s mostly a bunch of backward-looking colonels at DoD” that are worried about potential negative impacts on national security of allowing more US commercial data into the market, said one industry source — rather than, as one would naturally suspect, officials at the National Reconnaissance Office.
Indeed, industry and government insiders say, a number of DoD policy-makers are sympathetic to industry’s argument that the remote sensing cat is already all the way out of the bag — with countries from Russia and China to India and South Korea already home to companies putting high resolution, low latency and persistent imagery on the market. For this reason alone, Esper may need to wade into the fray.
A Commerce spokesman did not respond to a request for comment by publication; DoD Public Affairs demurred.
In particular, some at DoD have been extremely leery of any roll back of restrictions on companies wishing to sell imagery of spacecraft on orbit, and from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites that can ‘see’ at night and through fog. (Breaking D readers may recall that the US Intelligence Community has long had an ‘It’s Complicated’ relationship status with would-be commercial providers of SAR and other geospatial imagery.)
Indeed, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has long been concerned about the proliferation of SAR capabilities. The DIA cited China’s development of SAR satellites, and jammers for such satellites, as a threat to US national security space assets in its January report, “Challenges to Security in Space.” It also considers developing Chinese and Russian capabilities to monitor satellites in space, commonly known as Space Situational Awareness (SSA), to be part of their counterspace capabilities.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department already has sent its revised draft rule-making to ease licensing of commercial remote sensing operators to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and formal interagency coordination.
“I am delighted to report that the Department’s rule on commercial remote sensing has been sent to OMB for interagency consideration,” Kevin O’Connell, director of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce, told the audience at the US Chamber of Commerce’s launch seminar on Tuesday.
OMB must decide whether the changes made from the original notice of public rule-making (NPRM) issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on May 14 are significant enough to warrant another round of public comment. NOAA, which falls under the purview of Commerce, currently is in charge of licensing commercial remote sensing. OMB also must broker the formal interagency review process, which the referral sets in train.
The revision of the commercial remote sensing rules was mandated by the White House in Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2), as part of the Trump Administration’s wider effort to cut red tape and promote commercial space industry innovation. To that end the new rules will operate with a presumption of approval, in contrast to the current process, which requires specific DoD and State Department approval for each license. In essence, the new rules would create a form of ‘generic’ license for most remote sensing activities, while applying a more robust process for those found to be of potential national security concern.
Under the original May 14 draft NPRM, the rules regarding sharing data from SAR and SSA operations would have remained more or less the same — in large part due to DoD pressure.
The May draft would have kept strict limits on commercial use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, including limiting resolution to 0.25 meters, and banning any transmission of SAR data to receivers outside the US. It further would have restricted satellite imaging of other spacecraft unless written permission is obtained, including limiting resolution to above 0.5 meters. Providing imagery of objects not included in the US military’s space object catalog and published in space-track.org would continue to be outlawed.
However, a number of commercial remote sensing satellites — including major players Maxar, Planet, HawkEye 360, BlackSky Global and Spire Global — formally objected to the proposed rules, arguing they would hobble international sales. Indeed, as colleague Caleb Henry first reported back in June, the Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES) representing the remote sensing industry was highly critical of the proposed rules at its June meeting. The industry comment period closed at the end of June; Commerce has been working on revisions ever since.
While industry sources say they remain a bit nervous, all indications are that Commerce took industry concerns seriously and made serious efforts to take them into account — which seems to be prompting even more distress from some quarters at DoD.
At the Aug. 21 meeting of the National Space Council, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledged industry concerns and vowed to issue new regulations “that encourage domestic innovation while ensuring the global competitiveness and market leadership of American companies.” (At that time, Ross said he expected the new rules to be finalized in October — something that obviously didn’t happen.)
“In re-crafting the rule, NOAA took into account many, many industry comments,” O’Connell said yesterday. “The rule recognizes the speed at which many new technologies are entering the market, including overseas. It also recognizes the ever-changing business models and where value is created in the volumes of diverse imagery data being sent back to Earth.”
O’Connell stressed that the space economy is “one of highest priorities of the Department of Commerce, and top priority of the administration.”
“The space economy continues to grow,” he added. “In July, the Space Foundation reported that the global space economy grew to $415bn, exceeding $400bn for very first time. Our major financial institutions projected the global space industry to be worth $1.3 trillion by 2040.”
O’Connell explained that “part of that value will come from improving or creating new services to enhance our lives on earth, while another part will come from the establishment of a cislunar economy.”
The Commerce Department has been a champion for new types of satellite operations, such as satellite servicing and re-fueling, as well as longer term potential commercial capabilities such as asteroid mining and lunar water extraction. DoD and the Air Force, too, have been intrigued by the potential for leveraging commercially developed maneuverable satellites and the possibilities for utilizing the orbital region beyond Earth’s gravity out to the Moon for future military space operations. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
04 Dec 19. USAF Space Command Works to Counter Adversary Exploits. From GPS location services to communications, the United States’ dependence on space capabilities is well documented, the vice commander of Air Force Space Command said.
The command is focused now on finding ways to ensure the nation’s continued access to space and to prevent adversaries from disrupting it. Chief among those efforts is recognizing threats posed by adversaries to current capabilities and finding ways to prevent them from being exploited, in particular, by hardening existing systems against threats, Air Force Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson said.
“We are building in capabilities to protect and defend the space systems that we have today on orbit and we expect to have on orbit in the near future,” Thompson said yesterday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored 2nd annual space summit in Washington.
“A large majority of them have not been designed to operate in conflict, to operate under threat. But we are very quickly adapting them to be able to be defended, to provide capabilities to defend them and to develop tactics, techniques and procedures under which to defend them,” he said.
Thompson also said that the United States is now, for the first time, doing in space something that it has done for decades — centuries even — on land, on the sea and in the air: partnering with allies.
For a long time, Thompson said, the U.S. was going it alone in space. “We relied on nobody else,” during the Cold War. He said that’s no longer true.
“We are rapidly moving to a new approach … a coalition of the willing, a coalition for the like-minded, a coalition that brings the capabilities that they need and we need to various scenarios and presents complicated situations to any potential adversary.”
Those partnerships aren’t just with militaries, but also with civil agencies like NASA and with commercial industry, he said.
Part of that partnering with commercial industry is in itself a specific effort the command is exploiting to keep abreast of adversaries, Thompson said.
He said it’s critical for the command to pay attention to what industry is doing in order to have the best, most game-changing technology possible. That includes new manufacturing techniques, the reusability of space systems and the proliferation of low Earth orbit satellite constellations, Thompson said.
“It is, in fact, a whole host of technologies and ideas, but first and foremost, it’s a matter of understanding what’s happening in the commercial sector today,” he said. “It’s understanding the investments that are made, understanding the capabilities they intend to provide and determining how we can adapt and apply and partner with parts of the commercial sector for the support of civil society, public safety, the commercial sector, but in our case especially, national security.”
Developing a “warrior culture” within the Space Force is also part of the effort that Thompson said the command is undertaking. That includes how Air Force Space Command conducts exercises, training, operational planning and wargaming.
“We are now building those exact same things into the training programs, the exercise programs, the operational programs for our space operators,” he said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Dec 19. Space Development Agency a ‘casualty’ of budget gridlock. The future of the Space Development Agency is absolutely necessary to delivering persistent, global space capabilities in an affordable and timely manner, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin. However, the ongoing budget gridlock puts the future of the fledgling agency at risk.
“Continuing resolutions, budget battles of any kind, are an enormous problem for the national security community,” said Griffin. “When the things we think we need to do are delayed or prevented by budget battles in Congress and continuing resolutions, it slows us down and in some cases prevents us from doing things that we earnestly believe we need to do. The Space Development Agency is one of, but by no means the only, casualty of our current situation.”
The administration requested $149.8m in new funding for the SDA for fiscal year 2020, and is reported to want almost $11bn over the next five years. Still, the agency needs Congress to approve that funding.
Griffin says he sees bipartisan agreement in Congress that the United States needs to reform its space architecture. But for now, the SDA is waiting for Congress to allocate them the funding needed to pursue the projects on its agenda, he said.
“I don’t know if we will ever get a budget,” said Griffin. “We will cope as best we can.”
Griffin oversaw the establishment of the SDA as a way to build the future national security space architectures while avoiding the conventional acquisition system, which was operating at too slow a pace to meet the military’s needs.
“Our government acquisition timelines tend toward the 15-year mark on average, from statement of need to operational capabilities. Our adversaries are using three- and four-year timelines consistent with what we used to be able to do,” said Griffin.
As an example, Griffin pointed to the F-117A stealth fighter, where there was only a 32-month stretch between signing a contract and getting an operational plane on the runway.
“If we can’t relearn how to do what we once knew how to do better than any other society, we will not prevail,” said Griffin. “So the Space Development Agency was created in the DoD to work outside the existing acquisition system to work with commercial space, to work with the purveyors of new architectures that will be more proliferated, more resilient and above all else, more timely in their application.”
For Griffin, the SDA was established to solve two overwhelming needs for the military: guaranteed communications and the ability to detect and track hypersonic weapons.
The SDA is currently looking to provide that first need through a layer of 70 satellites in low-Earth orbit. That large constellation provides resiliency through numbers, explained Griffin, and prevents a Pearl Harbor-type strike that could knock out all of the U.S. military’s guaranteed communications capabilities in a single blow. While the DoD will continue to purchase significant amounts of time on commercial communications satellites, that need for a resilient, guaranteed communications capability is unlikely to be provided commercially, he added.
Griffin also sees the SDA providing a LEO solution to detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons, which are much dimmer than the conventional ballistic missiles the Air Force’s current missile detection architecture was designed to handle. According to Griffin, the hypersonic challenge can be met in two ways: placing sensors closer to the missiles themselves (i.e., placing the sensors in LEO instead of geostationary orbit) or by putting even stronger sensors in GEO. In cooperation with the Missile Defense Agency, the SDA is taking the former approach.
“This will give us the persistent, global, low-latency surveillance, tracking, targeting and fire control we have to have to meet these new threats,” said Griffin. “If we take as our paradigm that this is going to be government business as usual, then I don’t know what the outcome will be, but … I can guarantee what the outcome won’t be: The outcome won’t be affordable and it won’t be timely.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Dec 19. Statement of intent signals new era of co-operation for EOS and Space Agency. The Australian Space Agency has signed a statement of strategic intent and co-operation with EOS Space Systems, the Canberra-based company specialising in space tracking systems.
Maintaining a comprehensive space situation awareness in Australia is a critical enabler for the nation to achieve its ambitions in space. The government has acknowledged the importance of this capability as a national priority area in the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019 2028.
EOS has developed and maintains an advanced space situational awareness capability in Australia. It designs and manufactures precision sensors and operates space facilities at Mount Stromlo, ACT, and Learmonth, Western Australia. This EOS capability significantly enhances Australia’s ability to measure, understand and respond to critical activities in space.
Anthony Murfett, deputy head of the Australian Space Agency, said that the joint statement aligns with the Australian Civil Space Strategy, which sets out a 10-year plan to transform and grow the space industry.
“Space situational awareness and debris monitoring is one of the seven National Civil Space Priorities outlined in the strategy. EOS Space Systems are building, operating and developing the infrastructure to track the growing number of objects in space and keep Australians safe, on Earth and in space,” explained Murfett.
EOS currently operates a network of space situational awareness sensors at Mt Stromlo in the ACT and Learmonth in Western Australia. This network currently tracks 10,000 space objects per week, and it will look to expand on this capability.
Low levels of light and radio interference in much of our regional areas gives us the unique opportunity to develop our commercial industry for tracking space objects.
“Australia’s geographic location in the southern hemisphere enables monitoring of parts of space from our unique view into the solar system,” Murfett added.
As EOS Space Systems looks to expand across more sites in Australia, it will bring with it advanced technology and high-tech jobs in infrastructure and systems operations to areas of regional Australia.
Professor Craig Smith, CEO of EOS Space Systems, welcomed the opportunity to work with the Australian Space Agency to help achieve Australia’s ambitions in space.
“This statement will assist Australia to grow its world-leading capabilities in space situational awareness and debris monitoring and space communications,” said Professor Smith.
EOS said it is committed to growing Australia’s space sector and the workforce it requires by investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives. It is proud to champion the development of women in STEM roles at EOS through scholarships and workforce programs.
He added, “Our business has been at the forefront of technical innovation in space for over three decades. EOS’ success is underpinned by an exceptional skilled local workforce and collaborative partnerships across government, Australian business, academia and research institutions.”
EOS said it looked forward to working closely with the Australian Space Agency, and through its position as a lead partner in the Australian government’s Space Environment Research Centre, to encourage greater collaboration between government, businesses, universities and space industry professionals.
The Australian Space Agency is transforming the space industry, with a goal to grow the Australian space economy from $3.9bn to $12bn and creating 20,000 new jobs by 2030.
Australia’s 10-year plan for the civil space sector will ensure our space sector can gain a larger share of the US$350bn global space economy. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Dec 19. Space defined as key frontier in future Great Power conflict. If a theme could be drawn across the range of exhibitions and conferences that have taken place in the US in 2019, it is a return to Great Power competition and the re-emergent and rising challenges of Russia and China.
The opening keynote at I/ITSEC 2019 in Orlando was no different, with the USAF Vice Chief of Staff Gen Stephen Wilson flatly pointing to China as being the greatest state competitor and one that in future could approach conflict as a peer rival to the US.
Further, the space domain would now be the key environment within which conflict would be won or lost.
‘Space is essential. If we lose [in] space, we lose. Period,’ Wilson warned.
Wilson went on to say that China’s advances over the past generation were born from an ‘all-of-nation’ effort that saw industry and the military working hand-in-glove.
‘For many years China was considered backwards, a developing state [but] the in the past four decades their growth has been tremendous. China is a legitimate competitor,’ Wilson stated. ‘China is all in to win, it’s an all-of-nation effort and what they call military-civil fusion.’
Wilson added that not only is China ‘a competitor’ but that in many respects it held an advantage over the US in areas such as purchasing power, number of STEM graduates and its efforts in VR, machine learning, space and hypersonic technology. In space, China achieved a global first in January 2019 when it landed a rover on the dark side of the Moon.
‘Fast forward ten years and ask yourself who the peer and who the near-peer will be,’ Wilson stated.
To this end, it was imperative that the US win the so-called ‘war of cognition’ and deliver next-generation technologies in VR and augmented reality to the military. According to Wilson, this would need to be a ‘whole-of-nation’ effort to deliver change ‘at the speed of relevance’, referencing the slow pace of military procurement programmes.
‘The defence department is embarking on the largest transformation in decades. We don’t just want industry’s help, we need industry’s help,’ he continued.
In an effort to create faster pathways for industry to get on contact to develop new technologies the USAF had created pitch days for companies to make their cases to the service, with decisions taken the same day regarding investment. (Source: Shephard)
03 Dec 19. Thales and ASA link up to strengthen Australia’s space industry. The Australian Space Agency said its new agreement with space and defence giant Thales will further strengthen Australia’s international space connections and create more local jobs.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the statement of strategic intent and co-operation is another important step in the federal government’s plan to create opportunities for Australian industry and new local jobs.
“Engaging with big international players like Thales will allow Australian businesses, including our advanced manufacturers, to carve out a place in the international space supply chain,” Minister Andrews said.
“Space is very much an international game and for Australia to succeed we need to play to our strengths and have our businesses and researchers working co-operatively.
“This statement is designed to mutually identify key areas of investment as well as potential research, development and commercial opportunities.
“The Morrison government plans to triple the size of the Australian space sector by 2030, adding $12bn to our economy each year, and creating 20,000 new jobs.”
Chief executive of Thales Australia Chris Jenkins said the company was looking forward to working with the Space Agency and harnessing the strength of its global expertise in the space sector to build Australia’s sovereign capabilities.
“Thales has been a long-term investor in Australia’s advanced technology sector, through comprehensive technology transfer and close collaboration with research agencies and specialised Australian SMEs,” Jenkins said.
“Together, Thales and the Australian Space Agency can build and develop the Australian workforce and SME sector to meet the future needs of the growing space economy.”
The Australian Space Agency has also this week signed a statement of strategic intent and co-operation with EOS Space Systems, which will establish further laser ranging sensors across Australia to increase the volume of space objects they track from 10,000 to 100,000 each week. (Source: Space Connect)
26 Nov 19. ESIM Decision by ITU WRC-19 Cheered by Viasat. Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) is now able to offer enhanced gate-to-gate in-flight connectivity and pier-to-pier maritime services through an international agreement signed by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Member States that open more Ka-band spectrum for satellite mobility solutions.
The treaty, which was signed at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) on Friday, November 22, 2019, provides access to four times more global Ka-band spectrum for satellite-powered aviation and maritime broadband connectivity. The treaty ensures that Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) can access the full Ka-band spectrum consistent with Viasat’s strategy — focusing on broadband mobility services operating worldwide — in preparation for the upcoming launch of its global Ka-band satellite constellation, ViaSat-3.
During WRC-19, Ka-band spectrum availability for ESIM received resounding support from the international community after comprehensive studies were completed and reviewed. The decision reaffirmed the WRC-15 decision that Ka-band is the optimal band for expanding satellite broadband services. It also ensures a harmonized international framework for authorizing ESIM services throughout the band and across the world, opening the door for airlines and shipping lines to digitize their fleets, and connect more passengers and crew on a single network.
Today, the airline industry is facing growing demand from passengers, crew and aircraft fleet operators and suppliers alike who expect gate-to-gate connectivity. New services that will improve flight operations as well as deliver enhanced passenger experiences will benefit from the added Ka-band spectrum for these services providing affordable, high-quality broadband in the air.
Mark Dankberg, Chairman and CEO, Viasat, stated the company is grateful for the global recognition of the importance of Ka-band satellite broadband for use on mobile platforms from aircraft, ships and ferries to buses and trains. Having a uniform regulatory framework for ESIM applications across nations will enable Viasat to meet escalating customer requirements for mobility service enhancements, while creating a broader environment for further innovation in the mobility sector.
Gilberto Lopez Meyer, SVP, Safety and Flight Operations (SFO) at the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), added that the airline community congratulates the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 for its successful work on the issue of ESIM. ESIM will support airlines in providing better broadband connectivity for on-board passengers. It will also serve as an enabler for airlines’ digital transformation effort in enhancing current and future gate-to-gate operations. (Source: Satnews)
02 Dec 19. SA company secures defence satellite contract. Inovor Technologies has been congratulated by the Minister for Defence Industry after beating international competition to secure a $2.5m Defence contract. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price paid tribute to the South Australian company for winning the contract to deliver a satellite bus that will be used to house equipment in space for the Buccaneer Main Mission.
“The Buccaneer program is aimed at improving our understanding of the outer atmosphere, in particular the ionosphere, which plays a key role in Australia’s world-leading over-the-horizon radar capability,” Minister Price said.
“Small, low-cost satellites like Buccaneer provide a unique opportunity to support the development of an Australian Space Capability for Defence and to rejuvenate Australian space research.
“The Defence White Paper highlights space research and space-based systems as an important part of Australia’s Defence capability and national security.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said this investment will improve Australia’s space capability but also shows how committed the Morrison government is to advanced manufacturing and the opportunities that space presents for those businesses.
“There is huge potential for our advanced manufacturers who are working in defence or other industries to expand into the space sector and vice-versa, which will see them grow and create new Australian jobs,” Minister Andrews said.
“The Morrison government is committed to tripling the size of the space sector to $12bn a year and an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030. To achieve that goal, we need to make sure we’re engaging businesses from a range of sectors.” (Source: Space Connect)
28 Nov 19. Inmarsat GX5 Satellite, Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, Now in Orbit. Inmarsat GX5 very-high-throughput telecommunications satellite successfully launched. The Inmarsat GX5 geostationary telecommunications satellite has been successfully orbited by Arianespace atop an Ariane 5 launcher from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. Built for Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), this satellite will boost Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) broadband network, offering more capacity for inflight Wi-Fi services covering the Middle East, and Europe. The world’s first and only globally available true broadband service delivered through a single operator, the Inmarsat GX service operates in the Ka-band and is designed and optimized for mobile applications.
Weighing less than 4 metric tons at launch, Inmarsat GX5 satellite is built around the Spacebus 4000 B2 platform. It is the most powerful telecommunications satellite that Thales Alenia Space has ever built in the Spacebus 4000 B2 category. It has an estimated design life of more than 16 years.
Inmarsat GX5 is the 17th telecommunications satellite designed by Thales Alenia Space to have been successfully launched this year.
“Thales Alenia Space is proud to have partnered with Inmarsat in building its GX5 satellite, which will serve airline passengers’ growing connectivity needs over Europe and the Middle East, as well as meeting increasing demand from maritime and government users” said Pascal Homsy, Thales Alenia Space Executive Vice-President, Telecommunications. “We currently offer a range of product lines tailored precisely to the new expectations of the telecommunications market. (Source: ASD Network)
29 Nov 19. Can hundreds of unrelated satellites create a GPS backup? The head of the Space Development Agency wants to use proliferated low-Earth orbit satellites for navigation when GPS is unavailable. As adversaries develop tools that can jam or spoof Global Positioning System signals, the military has prioritized the development of alternative sources of positioning, navigation and timing data for the war fighter. Solutions range from using real-time drone imagery to chip-scale atomic clocks, but at the Association of the United States Army conference Oct. 16, Acting Director Derek Tournear threw out another idea: using the positioning and timing data of the hundreds of satellites his agency plans to put in orbit for navigation.
The SDA was established earlier this year to rapidly develop a number of capabilities in low-Earth orbit, and the agency’s current plan calls for hundreds of satellites operating in LEO serving a variety of missions, from hypersonic missile detection and tracking to finding and identifying objects in cislunar space. An important component of that architecture is a data transport layer providing a crosslink between satellites in orbit and then bringing that data down to the ground. According to Tournear, that transport layer could be used to transfer positioning and timing data to ground users from satellites without having another dedicated PNT satellite system in orbit.
“If you have this crosslink between satellites, you can do timing transfer. So, you have very good timing information at the satellite level. If you have open communication down to any system and you can see multiple satellites, that gives you another means to use your existing comms system to get navigation independent of any other user equipment,” explained Tournear.
Using the precise timing and positional information of those satellites in LEO, users could triangulate their position in GPS-denied or -degraded environments. It’s essentially the same way smartphones can use cell towers for navigation if they can’t get a GPS signal.
“If you turn off your GPS receiver on your phone, you will still get a navigation signal on your phone based on cellphone towers, because the cellphone towers know their position and they know exact timing, so they can triangulate your position,” said Tournear. “That is not a replacement for how GPS is used for worldwide PNT coverage, but it is another way to get assured PNT and another way to validate a GPS signal.” (Source: Defense News)
29 Nov 19. This antenna can switch between LEO and GEO. The US Navy recently live tested a new antenna that can switch between satellites in low earth orbit and geostationary orbit, fulfilling a key need for the military moving forward. Using Intellian’s 1.5 meter antenna, the Navy was able to maintain a broadband connection while switching between Telesat’s satellites in low earth orbit and geostationary orbit. The demonstration shows how in a scenario where a satellite in geostationary orbit is attacked or denied, the antenna is able to switch to a LEO satellite to maintain a persistent broadband connection.
“Live testing over Telesat Ka-band satellites with Intellian’s 1.5m Ka convertible VSAT confirms that the antenna is an important innovation accessing space-based ‘layers’ of satellites in next-gen space architecture,” said Kurt Fiscko, technical director of PMW/A 170 at PEO C4I in a statement.
“One of the key elements that the government is looking for, particularly the military, is a path to more resilient, more flexible networking in space,” said Telestat’s Don Brown in an interview. “What Telesat is doing in this demonstration with Intellian is addressing one of the key proof points of future resiliency and flexibility … the ability to go between GEO satellite constellation and LEO constellations.”
According to Telesat’s Rich Pang, the antenna is perfectly sized for use on the Navy’s small ship variants.
Telesat is also a contractor working on DARPA’s Project Blackjack, an effort to demonstrate the military utility of a constellation of small LEO satellites. The Space Development Agency is building off of that effort to build the U.S. military’s next generation space architecture in LEO. Comprised of hundreds of small satellites in LEO, that architecture is meant to create resiliency through numbers and provide a backup to many capabilities that are currently provided through a few exquisite satellites in GEO.
“The real impetus for this demonstration is that the government has come out and said, ‘we don’t want to be locked into not only one particular provider, but we want to be able to operate in multiple regimes so we can be disaggregated and resilient,” said Pang. “So if someone attacks the GEO belt and takes out those assets I can switch to LEO, or vise versa. (Source: Defense News)
28 Nov 19. The U.S. 5G Hunger Games. A posting by journalist Chris Forrester at the Advanced Television infosite relays that analysts at research firm MoffettNathanson, in a note that uses this week’s news that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has refused the C-Band Alliance’s (CBA) scheme to sell off some of their satellite spectrum over the U.S., says the market is “starved” for mid-band spectrum for 5G — there was — and is — very real political pressure on the FCC to bring more mid-band spectrum to the market as soon as possible.
MoffettNathanson adds in the report that the CBA satellite operators “don’t actually own the spectrum they were supposedly going to sell”. The satellite operators would strongly argue that point and say that their spectrum is theirs insofar as it is licensed to them in perpetuity.
There are two major elements in terms of the CBA’s ability to consider the spectrum to be under their total stewardship. First, the operators have paid a lot for their spectrum. SES paid a high price to acquire GE Americom, for example, but along with Intelsat, the industry has invested billions of dollars over decades in the infrastructure that uses the spectrum.
Of course, Intelsat and SES have an obligation to their shareholders to protect these investments and assets. And second — and legally more importantly, of course — this spectrum has been officially licensed to them.
There are rights attached to these licenses, above all the right that these licenses are protected and not fundamentally altered or taken away against the operators consent. This protection is core to the role of the FCC and the legal framework of the U.S. Communications Act.
MoffettNathanson, and other analysts, suggest that Intelsat’s “implosion” this past week might help Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network. “The scarcity of mid-band spectrum works in [Dish’s] favour, at least to the extent that one believes that Dish is still a potential spectrum seller rather than a network builder. By this line of thinking, Verizon desperately needs mid-band spectrum, and the C-Band always was (and perhaps still is) their preferred option. But if C-Band isn’t an option anymore, at least in the timeframe Verizon needs, then that can only be good news for Dish Network, which may once again be the only source of available mid-band spectrum. If Sprint and T-Mobile lose the antitrust case brought by the State Attorneys General, as many increasingly view as likely, and Dish is therefore freed from the spectrum sale prohibitions that came with that settlement, then might we not be looking at Dish as a seller of spectrum again?”
The analyst’s argue — as with the CBA’s ‘ownership’ — that “it’s not clear that Dish actually owns the spectrum that some would have them sell. Their AWS-4 spectrum was never acquired at auction. Technically, Dish has a right of use. But the spectrum is owned by tax-payers.”
MoffettNathanson continues, stating, “Most of Dish’s spectrum was purchased at auction over the past decade. But Dish’s AWS-4 spectrum holdings were acquired when Dish Network bought two hybrid terrestrial satellite operators, BDSD and TerreStar, out of bankruptcy in 2012, and those holdings still comprise around 40 percent of Dish’s spectrum portfolio (by population-weighted MHz). Neither of those companies bought their spectrum at auction. Instead, they had been granted rights of use many years earlier (for a technology that, as it turned out, never worked). When Dish bought their assets out of bankruptcy, they acquired those same rights of use, and those rights of use were subsequently amended to allow for terrestrial-only use. Dish didn’t actually acquire the spectrum itself.” (Source: Satnews)
26 Nov 19. ISRO’s Successful Launch of 13 Nanosatellites. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that India’s PSLV-C47 successfully launched Cartosat-3 and 13 commercial nanosatellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.
PSLV-C47 lifted-off at 0928Hrs (IST) on November 27, 2019 from the Second Launch Pad of SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota. PSLV-C46 was the 74th launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the twenty-first flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with six solid strap-on motors).
Cartosat-3 satellite is a third generation agile advanced satellite having high resolution imaging capability.
13 Commercial Nanosatellites from USA were also successfully injected into designated orbit. These satellites were launched under commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
This is the 74th launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota. For all involved in the satellite and space industry and the various market segments that enhance these dynamic environments, the 2020 SmallSat Symposium is invaluable.
The 2020 SmallSat Symposium begins on February 3, 2020, with workshops on the first day. Then the Conference continues from 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 satellite news, media and events. This information packed forum enables you and your company to secure a larger portion of market share as well as to take a step into the next stage 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 the daily changes in 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 attracts 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)
26 Nov 19. Arianespace Launches Egypt’s TIBA-1, Inmarsat’s GX5 and Celebratory Statements. For its fourth and final mission of the year, Ariane 5 placed two communications satellites in geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), lifting off from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana): TIBA-1 and Inmarsat GX5. The TIBA-1, for Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of the Government of Egypt; and GX5 for the operator Inmarsat. The launch took place on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 18:23 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).
With this latest success, Arianespace once again proves its ability to support all satellite systems, even the most innovative, for both institutional and commercial customers.
Today’s launch also marks the 250th Ariane mission, a series that started with the first launch on December 24, 1979. Following the launch, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Israël said: “Arianespace is very proud to have launched the 250th Ariane on our eighth mission of the year, for Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of the Government of Egypt, and for a leading operator, Inmarsat, which has entrusted Ariane for 10 of its satellite launches.
“Over the past 40 years, the Ariane family has guaranteed both autonomous access to space for Europe and record availability for customers from around the world. Therefore, Arianespace fulfills its fundamental mission: to put space at the service of a better life on Earth. And the Ariane story will continue next year with the advent of Ariane 6, that perfectly addresses the evolving needs of our customers.”
The total performance required of the launcher was 10,479 kg, with the two satellites accounting for 9,630 kg. The payloads were injected into an optimized orbit inclined 5 degrees to the equator.
“250 Ariane launches in 40 years,106 Ariane 5 launches between 1996 and 2019, with 11 more by 2022 As each launch presents its own unique challenge, Ariane has constantly increased its efficiency, power, payload capacity and competitiveness in order to meet the needs of the world’s space market and contribute to the European space adventure. It is our firm intention to take this indisputable success story even further, and the adventure continues with Ariane 6, which will make its maiden flight next year,” said André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup.
“It is therefore with great emotion that, on behalf of everyone at ArianeGroup, I pay tribute to all the engineers and technicians whose talents and dedication have made Ariane such a success, as well as to Arianespace and all our industrial partners. Once again our thanks also go to the teams at the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency (CNES) for their continued confidence and support.”
ArianeGroup is the industrial lead contractor for the development and operation of Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers. The company coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies (including 350 SMEs) in 13 European countries. ArianeGroup oversees the entire industrial supply chain, from performance optimization and the corresponding studies associated with Ariane 5 to production, from the supply of mission-specific data and software to the marketing of the launcher by Arianespace. This chain includes equipment and structures, engine manufacturing, integration of the various stages and launcher integration in French Guiana.
Ariane Flight 250 in figures:
- 106th launch of an Ariane 5
- 81st consecutive nominal ignition of the Vulcain® 2 engine
- 106th consecutive nominal ignition of the EAP solid propellant boosters
- 146th consecutive nominal ignition of the HM7B engine
Arianespace at the service of telecommunications in Egypt
TIBA-1 is a civil and government telecommunications satellite for Egypt developed by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space as co-prime contractors. Thales Alenia Space designed and built the communications payload, which will provide broadband communications in Ka-band is the consortium’s lead, and Airbus Defense and Space is the direct Arianespace customer for this mission. TIBA-1 will be owned and operated by the government of Egypt. TIBA-1 is the 160th satellite launch by Arianespace for Thales Alenia Space.
TIBA-1 is the fourth satellite to be launched by Arianespace for Egypt, with Arianespace having deployed the three satellites for the operator Nilesat between 1998 and 2010. TIBA-1 also is the 22nd satellite launched by Arianespace for a mission in the cooperation between Airbus Defense and Space and Thales Alenia Space. It will be deployed by Arianespace into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), subsequently transitioning to its operational orbital slot position at 35.5 degrees East.
Airbus Defence and Space is Arianespace’s direct customer for this mission, continuing a strong cooperation between the two companies that extends back to Arianespace’s creation in 1980.
TIBA-1 will be the 127th Airbus satellite launched by Arianespace, as well as the 113th main passenger on a launcher from the Arianespace family. There currently is a total of 22 Airbus satellites in Arianespace’s order book.
GX5: Arianespace continues a long-standing partnership with Inmarsat
GX5 marks the 10th time since 1981 that Inmarsat has chosen Arianespace, reflecting the strength of this long-standing partnership.
Built by Thales Alenia Space for Inmarsat it will provide mobile services across the Middle East, Europe and the Indian sub-continent.
As the most advanced satellite in the GX constellation, GX5 will deliver greater capacity than the entire existing GX fleet combined (GX1-GX4). A very high throughput satellite (VHTS), GX5 will address the rapid growth in customer demand for GX services in Europe and the Middle East, particularly for satellite Ka-band Wi-Fi services from the Global Xpress (GX) fleet.
Located in a geostationary orbit at 11 degrees East, GX5 will deliver greater capacity than the entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4) combined and will support the rapid growth in customer demand for GX services in Europe and the Middle East, particularly for aviation passenger Wi-Fi and commercial maritime services.
It is equipped with 72 Ka-band fixed spot beams and four steerable beams to direct additional capacity where it is needed. GX5 is the start of an unprecedented enhancement in the overall capacity and capabilities of the GX network with a further seven advanced payloads scheduled to launch over the next four years.
This is the tenth time that Inmarsat has chosen Arianespace’s launch services, demonstrating a well-established trust – with the two companies’ relationship dating back to 1981. The mission with Inmarsat GX5 comes two years after Arianespace successfully launched the “condosat” Hellas Sat 3/Inmarsat S-EAN with an Ariane 5.
The Inmarsat GX5 satellite will be the 161st satellite manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched by Arianespace.
Six additional Thales Alenia Space satellites are included in Arianespace’s order book.
Arianespace’s November 22 mission will mark the eighth flight in 2019 by its launch vehicle family — which consists of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-size Soyuz and lightweight Vega. It will be the fourth this year using Ariane 5.
Ariane: 40 years of technical success to make life better on Earth
Today’s mission, VA250, marks a symbolic milestone in the history of Ariane, since it was the 250th Ariane launch since December 24, 1979 – when the cornerstone Ariane 1 version performed its maiden flight.
Just a few weeks away from celebrating its 40th anniversary, Ariane has built up an impressive record – a source of pride for all of Europe:
In 40 years (1979-2019), Ariane will have launched 451 satellites, for a total weight injected into orbit of nearly 1,302 metric tons.
From Ariane 1 to Ariane 5, payload capacity into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) has increased 10-fold, (from 1,073 kg. in 1979 for the maiden Flight L01 mission, to 10,495 kg. in 2019 for Flight VA250).
- 124 customers have chosen Ariane to deploy their missions.
- 31 different manufacturers have built the satellites carried by Ariane launchers.
During these past 40 years, Ariane has completed many iconic missions, such as launching the Galileo satellites, orbiting ATVs for servicing the International Space Station, launching the Herschel & Planck telescopes, and lofting the Rosetta spacecraft.
Arianespace looks forward to further milestones as well. For instance, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be launched by an Ariane 5 in 2021, while the JUICE mission to Jupiter’s moons will be launched from 2022 by Ariane.
After the completion of Ariane 5 operations in 2022, Ariane 6 will reach its full operational capacity in 2023. (Source: Satnews)
29 Nov 19. SES and Luxembourg Government Renew Orbital Concession, Establish New Fund for Space Sector. SES and the Luxembourg Government announced today that they have reached an agreement to renew SES’s concession to operate satellites flying under Luxembourg jurisdiction for 20 years, effective from January 2022 when the current concession expires, with an annual fee of EUR 1m from 2025 onwards. As part of the agreement and starting from 2022, SES will also contribute a maximum of EUR 7m per year into a fund to support and strengthen the Luxembourg space sector as well as benefit the wider local economy. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
25 Nov 19. Lacuna Space + Miromico Join Forces for ‘Space Ready’ IoT. Lacuna Space and Miromico have signed a collaboration agreement for the development and easy provision of ‘space ready’ and off-the-shelf communications devices using ultra low-power and low-cost satellite links. Following successful tests conducted this year the first commercial trials with Miromico devices and selected enterprise clients of the Swiss company in agriculture, environmental monitoring or asset tracking are starting in 2020. By using LoRa®1 the de-facto standard for low power wireless IoT, the life-time of battery operated IoT devices can be increased by years, saving operation and maintenance cost. The mutual use of LoRa also allowed Miromico to easily and quickly adapt their hardware and connect directly to Lacuna Space’s satellite.
In parallel to the field tests the two companies will develop a global distribution chain giving customers a simple way to buy modems, firmware, antennas and devices that will enable them to use the Lacuna Network. Semiconductor specialist Avnet Silica is working with Miromico to give easy access to IoT hardware. The first phase of the deployment of the Lacuna Network will be its constellation of 36 small satellites in LEO by the end of 2022. Orbiting at 500km. above the Earth’s surface, the Lacuna Space Network will provide ubiquitous communication for billions of new wireless IoT devices everywhere in the world including areas of no connectivity.
The devices on the Lacuna Network will seamlessly integrate with any LoRaWAN® (long range wide area network) network on the ground within reach. The LoRa-based space gateway on each satellite also uses the LoRaWAN communication protocol to receive short data messages from IoT sensors on the ground or at sea. This will provide the uninterrupted connectivity that is needed between terrestrial LPWAN (low power wide area networks).
Marcel Wappler, head of IoT & LPWAN at Miromico, said that a low-cost and low-power satellite link such as Lacuna Space’s technology built directly into every smart device will ignite a second IoT revolution. The company is facing a skyrocketing but yet unmet demand for smart devices with low power, affordable, and global connectivity. The lack of global connectivity is holding back endless applications, some of which will help to solve the most difficult challenges of our times such as enabling solar powered local grids in South America and elsewhere, improving agricultural yield, or tracking the global flow of goods or assets and monitor their carbon footprint. Together with Lacuna Space, the company can begin to meet that demand.
Rob Spurrett, CEO and co-founder of Lacuna Space, added that the company has been really impressed by Miromico and their depth of knowledge with LoRa devices was of great importance. The firm is being very selective in the choice of initial partners for the development of the company’s devices as these first steps are vital for Lacuna Spoace. Once the satellite constellation becomes operational, the demand will scale really quickly.
1LoRa stands for Semtech Corporation’s long range wireless radio technology that allows a carrier signal containing information to be spread over the entire frequency spectrum reducing interference and interception while requiring ultra low power. (Source: Satnews)
24 Nov 19. Comtech Telecommunications Brings UHP Networks into the Fold. Comtech Telecommunications Corp. (“Comtech”) (Nasdaq: CMTL) has agreed to acquire UHP Networks Inc. (“UHP”), a provider of innovative and disruptive satellite ground station technology solutions, for a purchase price of approximately $40.0m.
Founded in 2005, UHP is based in Canada and has developed revolutionary technology that is transforming the VSAT market.
Key Strategic Benefits for Comtech Include:
- Expands Comtech’s product line in the satellite ground station market, which has a growing need for reliable, high capacity satellite equipment, particularly in the private and high-performance enterprise VSAT market.
- Allows Comtech to integrate a revolutionary TDMA technology into Comtech EF Data Corp.’s industry leading HEIGHTSTM platform (which includes our HEIGHTS Dynamic Network Access (“H-DNA”) dynamic Single Carrier per Channel (“dSCPC”) technology).
- Brings new relationships with top tier U.S. mobile network operators, Fortune 500 global companies and international government agencies.
Fred Kornberg, President and CEO of Comtech, said that with end-markets for high-speed satellite-based networks significantly growing, Comtech’s acquisition of UHP is a significant step in enhancing the company’s solution offerings for the satellite ground station market. After months of extensive testing, Comtech believes that UHP’s innovative implementation techniques for time division multiple access (“TDMA”) technology are best-in-class. UHP’s disruptive technologies were developed starting with a blank sheet of paper, are unencumbered by legacy methods and provide the highest TDMA efficiency at the lowest cost available. Comtech is delighted to acquire UHP and expect the use of their incredible technology to expand globally for many years ahead.
Vagan Shakhgildian, President of UHP, said that he believes this strategic combination with Comtech is compelling. He expects their customers will significantly benefit from greater resources and capabilities than UHP could provide on a stand-alone basis. The company intendsto maintain a sharp focus on all scheduled and committed rollouts to customers and supporting all existing products, services, and agreements to customers, including value-added resellers, distributors, original equipment manufacturers and other strategic partners. All at UHP look forward to working with the Comtech management team to deliver world-class products to our existing customers and new customers around the world.
UHP offers several satellite routers which can process up to 450 Mbps of aggregate traffic with over 190,000 IP packets per second and have remarkably low TDMA overhead. UHP’s implementation of TDMA technology can result in a 20 percent efficiency advantage over other TDMA implementations at a much lower cost.
According to UHP, their routers are truly universal and can switch on-the-fly between modes using multiple configuration profiles that are built into the device. As such, it enables mobile network operators to expand cell phone service to rural areas with full and highly efficient coverage. UHP’s universal routers can provide for a self-healing architecture, known as Smart Redundancy™, which we believe is an industry first.
UHP has recently announced a next-generation, fully backward compatible, wideband platform that has 3x greater capability than its existing systems and which will allow High Throughput Satellite (“HTS”) satellite operators to combine different services and applications in just one carrier.
The purchase agreement for UHP includes the acquisition of a sister company and all of their intellectual property. All employees of UHP are expected to join and remain with the company and Mr. Vagan Shakhgildian will serve as President of UHP and have additional responsibilities to facilitate further growth of Comtech’s HEIGHTS solutions. The purchase agreement provides for an earn-out up to an additional $10.0m if certain agreed upon sales milestones are reached over a twelve-month period after close. The impact of the UHP acquisition with respect to Comtech’s fiscal 2020 financial guidance will be dependent on the timing of the closing of the transaction which is expected to occur late in the second half of fiscal 2020. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.
Comtech will provide financial and other information about the UHP transaction during its regularly scheduled conference call to review the results of its fiscal quarter ended October 31, 2019, the exact date and time of which will be announced in advance.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Proskauer Rose LLP and Torys LLP are serving as legal counsel to Comtech. KPMG M&A Advisory is serving as financial advisor to UHP. Dentons is serving as legal counsel to UHP. (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.