Sponsored By Viasat
11 Dec 19. A new radar to track space objects is almost ready. A new ground-based radar built to detect and track tens of thousands of objects in space has entered a trial period, the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center announced Dec. 10. The move puts the system one step closer to being officially accepted by the Air Force for regular use.
Located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Space Fence will use advanced solid-state S-band radar technology to track objects as small as small as 10 centimeters in low and medium earth orbit. With that increased capability, the new system will be able to closely follow space objects, maneuvers, launches and more.
With multiple mega-constellations in development, the need for systems that can effectively provide this level of space situational awareness is paramount. According to NASA, more than 17.6 million pounds of material are already in orbit, and the number of satellites and debris in space is only expected to grow in the near future, increasing the likelihood of collisions that could result in even more debris and increased danger to active satellites.
Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor on Space Fence and was awarded a $914m contract for the project in 2014.
“Space Fence will revolutionize the way we track and classify objects that threaten both manned and unmanned military and commercial space assets critical to our national defense and economy,” said Rob Smith, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Radar and Sensor Systems in a statement. “The Air Force Space Surveillance Network currently tracks about 25,000 objects. When Space Fence comes online, the catalog will experience significant growth and when fully operational, Space Fence will be the world’s largest and most advanced radar system, providing unprecedented space situational awareness.”
Early testing has already demonstrated the systems advanced capabilities. During a March experiment, the Space Fence was able to pick up the orbital debris from an Indian anti-satellite test and plot out their next crossing times. The Air Force anticipates declaring operational acceptance of the new system following the trial period. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
12 Dec 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced that Saturn Satellite Networks has selected the OmegA space launch vehicle to launch up to two satellites on the rocket’s inaugural flight scheduled for spring 2021. OmegA will launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B and insert the SSN satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
“The OmegA rocket expands Northrop Grumman’s launch capabilities beyond our small and medium class rockets, which have successfully launched nearly 80 missions,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, flight systems, Northrop Grumman. “Expanding the company’s launch capabilities to the intermediate/heavy class with OmegA complements our national security satellite portfolio and enables us to better support our customers.”
Jim Simpson, CEO of Saturn, said, “We are excited to launch Saturn’s NationSat on Northrop Grumman’s OmegA launch vehicle’s inaugural mission. OmegA’s performance, payload accommodations, and rigorous certification program assures us it is a great fit for NationSats and our customers.”
Last October, the U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $792 million Launch Services Agreement to complete detailed design and verification of the OmegA launch vehicle and launch sites.
“The first flight of OmegA is a key step in our certification process for the U.S. Air Force National Security Space Launch program,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “Having Saturn’s NationSat on board for this mission further demonstrates the versatility of OmegA to serve other markets including commercial and civil government.”
Precourt continued, “Our customer’s mission comes first, whether OmegA is launching a commercial satellite or a national security payload. At the end of the day, we deliver the customer’s spacecraft where it needs to go.”
“Northrop Grumman designed OmegA to use the most reliable propulsion available—solid propulsion for the boost stages and flight proven RL10 engines for the upper stage—to ensure exceptional mission assurance for our customers,” Precourt added. “Northrop Grumman’s technical expertise is both broad and deep, and we bring unmatched experience, stability and a strong customer focus to every partnership.”
Northrop Grumman has a distinguished heritage in space launch. In 1990, the company developed Pegasus™, the world’s first privately developed space launch system. The company’s Minotaur launch vehicle has achieved 100 percent success on its 18 space missions and nine suborbital missions. Northrop Grumman’s AntaresTM rocket has launched more than 70,000 pounds of food, equipment and supplies to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
12 Dec 19. Rocket Lab debuts fully autonomous flight termination system. Rocket Lab has successfully flown a fully autonomous flight termination system (AFTS) for the first time on the company’s Electron launch vehicle. The AFTS flown on the company’s most recent mission, ‘Running Out Of Fingers’, makes Rocket Lab one of only three US launch companies to fly with an autonomous system.
AFTS is a GPS-aided, computer-controlled system designed to terminate an off-nominal flight, replacing traditional human-in-the-loop monitoring systems. AFTS is crucial to increasing launch frequency and providing responsive launch capability, while maintaining the highest industry safety standards.
The AFTS reduces the turnaround time between missions and provides greater schedule control by eliminating reliance on ground-assets and human flight termination operators.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck welcomed the milestone achievement, saying, “The AFTS is yet another way Rocket Lab is innovating to increase the pace of launch and support responsive launch capability for small satellites.
‘Running Out Of Fingers’ hosted the first fully autonomous system on Electron. The launch followed four ‘shadow’ flights where the AFTS unit was flown on the vehicle for testing while traditional ground-based flight termination infrastructure remained in place.
With the first fully autonomous mission now complete, all future Electron missions from Launch Complexes 1 and 2 will fly with the AFTS.
“As we move to an autonomous system, I’d like to thank the dedicated teams from White Sands Missile Range and Alaska Aerospace Corporation, who have provided ground-based flight termination system support for Electron missions since our first launch in 2017. Their support has ensured the safety of every Electron mission and they have contributed to our record of mission success for customers,” Beck added.
Flight termination systems are a vital part of launch operations. Traditionally, flight termination infrastructure is a ground-based system that involves a human making the decision to terminate a mission in the event of a launch vehicle straying from a pre-determined flight path.
Naomi Altman, Rocket Lab’s avionics manager and project lead for the AFTS program, explained, “I’m immensely proud of the team here at Rocket Lab that has made AFTS on Electron a reality. For AFTS to be part of Electron’s 10th launch was the cherry on top of a monumental year for the whole team.”
By contrast, the AFTS is an independent, self-contained subsystem mounted onboard the Electron launch vehicle. It eliminates the need for a ground-based infrastructure by moving the flight termination function to the launch vehicle.
“Reaching this milestone is also testament to the ongoing support of government agencies and contractors who worked closely with us to bring the AFTS online,” Altman said.
The system makes flight termination decisions autonomously by using redundant computers that track the launch vehicle using Global Positioning System and onboard sensors, combined with configurable software-based rules, that identify where the rocket can safely fly.
If a rocket goes off course the AFTS will issue a command to terminate the flight by shutting down the engines.
The AFTS also delivers faster response times and improved monitoring as the launch vehicle travels downrange, providing over-the-horizon tracking capabilities that are not limited by line-of-sight tracking such as that required by ground-based instrumentation at the launch site. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Dec 19. Grants open for Australian space infrastructure project. The Australian Space Agency has announced the launch of a grant opportunity to support the establishment of the Mission Control Centre at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide. The grant opportunity will award a single grant of $6m to establish the Mission Control Centre. This centre will allow start-ups, small to medium enterprises, and researchers to control satellite missions and access space-enabled data.
The Space Infrastructure Fund is a $19.5m investment in seven infrastructure projects to drive the growth of Australia’s space sector.
The Robotics, Automation and AI Command and Control Centre grant opportunity will award a single grant of $4.5m to establish the Robotics, Automation and AI Command and Control Centre in Western Australia.
This centre will allow start-ups, small to medium enterprises, and researchers to control autonomous operations in space.
Filling gaps in Australia’s space infrastructure allows businesses and researchers to focus on growing and developing their day-to-day operations, and providing space-related solutions to drive economic benefit across the whole economy.
It is aimed to provide new tools for farmers, supporting emergency services and helping manage drought. It also provides the tools businesses need to access international opportunities – opening doors for Australia internationally.
The projects form an important element of the Australian Civil Space Strategy, primarily addressing the ‘national’ pillar to increase capability in the sector. They will be developed in locations across Australia, providing investment in multiple states and territories, and building upon Australia’s National Civil Space Priorities and strengths.
Project to be delivered as part of the $19.5m Space Infrastructure Fund include:
- Space manufacturing facilities (NSW, $2m): Supporting the delivery of future space manufacturing capability, and development of high-tech skills and new space objects.
- Mission control (SA, $6m): A platform for SMEs and researchers to control small satellite missions, enabling real-time testing and accelerated improvement of satellite technology.
- Tracking facilities upgrade (Tas, $1.2m): Upgrading infrastructure to support precision tracking of satellites and spacecraft.
- Robotics, automation and AI command and control (WA, $4.5m): Allowing SMEs and researchers control over autonomous operations in space; building capability in space technologies.
- Space data analysis facilities (WA, $1.5m): Providing SMEs and researchers with space data analysis capability for agriculture, mining, emergency services and maritime surveillance.
- Space payload qualification facilities ($2.5m): Providing capability for SMEs and researchers to test space equipment and have it mission-ready in Australia.
- Pathway to launch ($0.9m): Undertake work to address the active interest and growing readiness in industry for launch in Australia, while ensuring safety on Earth and in space.
Through this investment the Australian government is growing a competitive and sustainable industry. This will help support the creation of another 20,000 jobs and contribute to tripling the size of the Australian space sector to $12bn by 2030. Applications close 5pm AEDT Tuesday, 4 February 2020. Find out how to apply for the Mission Control Centre grant opportunity here and the Robotics, Automation and AI Command and Control Centre grant here. (Source: Space Connect)
12 Dec 19. Gilmour Space announces Australian Space Agency partnership. Queensland-based Gilmour Space Technologies has confirmed a partnership with the Australian Space Agency, with the aim of having an orbital vehicle ready for launch in 2021.
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the Gold Coast-based Gilmour Space Technologies specialised in rocket technologies, highlighting the exciting developments underway in Australia’s space sector.
“This new partnership shows the breadth of capabilities being developed in Australia, supporting our mission to develop and grow the Australian space industry over the next 10 years,” Minister Andrews said.
“Gilmour Space is an innovative local company attracting significant investment and overseas attention. The Gilmour team is already working on technologies with NASA to support future missions.”
Minister Andrews, who witnessed the signing between Gilmour Space and the Space Agency, added, “This new partnership shows the breadth of capabilities being developed in Australia. Gilmour’s stratospheric growth in recent years is a terrific example of the economic and job opportunities in the space sector.
“Dynamic companies like this also will inspire our next generation of space entrepreneurs by championing the role of space here on our shores.
“When Aussie kids see Gilmour technologies being used by NASA astronauts, it will inspire them to dream big and get involved in space science and engineering.”
Gilmour Space Technologies chief executive Adam Gilmour said the company was proud to be a leader in the development of rocket technologies.
He said they understood the crucial need to work with government and industry.
“Growing the Australian space industry together is vital to its long-term success,” Gilmour said.
The government has committed more than $600m to grow the space sector in Australia to $12bn and create another 20,000 jobs by 2030.
Gilmour Space Technologies was founded in 2015 when Gilmour quit a 20-year banking career to pursue a lifelong passion for space.
It’s now one of Australia’s leading space companies, with more than 40 employees.
Gilmour has developed a hybrid rocket with 3D-printed fuel, with the aim of developing a lower-cost satellite launch capability.
In July 2016, its prototype “reusable ascent separation article” (RASTA) reached a height of about 5,000 metres.
However, the test launch of the One Vision rocket from a property in outback Queensland at the end of July didn’t get off the ground when a component failed just before blast-off.
It was planned it would reach an altitude of 20-30 kilometres, about halfway to space and was intended as a flight test of the proprietary orbital class hybrid rocket engine and to demonstrate mobile launch capability.
Australian Space Agency deputy head Anthony Murfett agreed, saying, “Gilmour Space has raised the profile of Australia’s space industry across the globe and inspired our children to get involved in space activities. The agency and Gilmour Space share the objectives of enhancing the capability, capacity and competitiveness of Australia’s space industry while being globally responsible.”
“It’s been an exciting year for us and indeed for Australia,” said Gilmour, who also sits in the Agency’s Space Industry Leaders Forum. “There’s a lot of work yet to be done, many more opportunities to be explored, and we certainly look forward to growing the space industry here, together.”
The ultimate aim is to conduct lower cost commercial satellite launches.
Earlier this year, Gilmour’s achievements were recognised with the 2019 Advance Award for Advanced Manufacturing. (Source: Space Connect)
11 Dec 19. NRO looks to add new types of commercial imagery. The National Reconnaissance Office is considering adding new commercial capabilities to its growing portfolio that can take satellite images despite inclement weather and geolocate a broad range of radio frequency signals from space.
On Dec. 11, the agency announced that it was awarding two data integration study contracts: One to Capella Space for commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and one to Hawkeye 360 for commercial radio frequency (RF) remote sensing.
“The NRO is interested in better understanding the current capabilities of a variety of commercial vendors and assessing how those capabilities could potentially support the NRO’s national security mission,” said Pete Muend, director of the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office. The NRO oversees the development, acquisition and operation of the nation’s intelligence satellites.
SAR uses radar to produce images, meaning it’s unaffected by cloud cover, darkness or inclement weather.
“Capella’s SAR service provides high revisit rates and images in all weather and lighting conditions. SAR also captures amplitude and phase history enabling the extraction of valuable information such as material properties, digital elevation mapping, and precise changes and movements, not available with optical imagery,” said Dan Brophy, vice president of government services at Capella Space, in a statement.
According to the intelligence agency, this makes SAR perfect for intelligence analysis, battlefield reconnaissance, land and ocean monitoring, and natural resource and agricultural monitoring and assessment.
RF remote sensing, on the other hand, provides “analytics to identify and geolocate a broad set of RF signals, including broadcast messages such as shipborne Automatic Identification Systems,” according to the NRO.
“With these two contracts, we are exploring the integration of commercial SAR and RF in ordering and imagery delivery into the NRO architecture,” Muend said. “These latest study contracts reflect the NRO’s commitment to full seamless enterprise integration of multiple sources and diverse phenomenologies.”
The two awards join a growing suite of study contracts the NRO has issued this year as they work to take over responsibility for acquiring commercial imagery from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency—a decision made by the intelligence community in 2017. NRO leaders have said they intend to use the study contracts to look at commercial capabilities and determine whether they meet government requirements.
In June, the agency announced that it was issuing it’s first three study contracts for traditional electro-optical imagery to BlackSky Global, Maxar Technologies and Planet. In September they followed that up with a study contract for hyperspectral imagery to HySpecIQ, which uses the unique spectrum of each pixel in an image to identify an object. (Source: Defense News)
11 Dec 19. Northrop Grumman is working with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on a project to rapidly infuse space technological innovations to incrementally develop component technologies needed for a prototype solar energy collection system. The project is designed to provide constant, consistent and logistically agile power to expeditionary forces operating in unimproved areas such as forward operating bases. These forces require assured power that will be transmitted via radio frequency (RF) from spacecraft.
“Northrop Grumman has been a proud partner of U.S. Air Force space initiatives for many decades,” said Candace Givens, vice president, program management, Northrop Grumman. “We are dedicated to developing and providing innovative space solar technology and hardware to ensure mission success for our expeditionary forces around the globe.”
Northrop Grumman is developing and delivering the critical hardware elements to AFRL to support space-based experiments for rapidly prototyping and demonstrating this leading-edge technology.
As stated in a recent Air Force press release, “Energy is a strategic enabler and potential vulnerability for our nation and our Department of Defense (DoD),” said Col Eric Felt, director of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate. “To ensure DoD mission success, we must have the energy we need at the right place at the right time. The Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project is a very interesting concept that will enable us to capture solar energy in space and precisely beam it to where it is needed. SSPIDR is part of AFRL’s ‘big idea pipeline’ to ensure we continue to develop game-changing technologies for our Air Force, DoD, nation, and world.”
SSPIDR will study and analyze the concept of a space-based power collection and transmission capability using light weight, high efficiency solar cells coupled with RF transmitters to meet the project objectives. The project will culminate by testing the components of a space-based power collection and transmission demonstration system, capable of capturing solar energy and converting to RF energy for beaming power to the ground.
09 Dec 19. This company will keep airwaves clear for military satellites. Kratos will provide 24/7 bandwidth monitoring for the Combined Space Operations Center under a potentially five-year $39m contract, the company announced Dec. 6. Formerly known as the Joint Space Operations Center, CSpOC provides command-and-control operations to ensure US Strategic Command has the space capabilities needed to support joint military operations. CSpOC is the lead integrator for space-related services ranging from space situational awareness to satellite communications to position, navigation and timing.
Under the sole-source contract, which was issued Nov. 22, Kratos will provide CSpOC 24/7 electromagnetic interference resolution services for bandwidth used by the military. Using its global network of antennas and sensors, the Colorado Springs-based company will monitor bandwidth leased from commercial satellites and bandwidth provided through military-owned satellites for electromagnetic interference. If interference is detected, Kratos will identify, isolate and geolocate interfering signals to help resolve the issue.
“Kratos’ commercially owned and operated global RF space domain awareness network uses proprietary sensors and software to collect and deliver persistent, day or night real-time data. The global network augments U.S. government satellite communication with detection services for anomalies, maneuvers and interference,” said Matt Langenbahn, vice president of RF sensing systems for Kratos in a statement.
The initial $7.7m base year began Dec. 1 with work expected to be completed Nov. 30, 2020. If the government chooses to exercise its four option years following the base year, the total value of the contract would rise to $39m. (Source: Defense News)
08 Dec 19. Barrett, Rogers consider declassifying secretive space programs. The U.S. Air Force’s top civilian and a key member of Congress agreed Saturday on the need to declassify a large amount of information about America’s military space programs to both intimidate foes and encourage support among the public.
“Declassifying some of what is currently held in secure vaults would be a good idea,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said during a panel at the Reagan National Defense Forum. “You would have to be careful about what we declassify, but there is much more classified than what needs to be.”
Fellow panelist Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said he met with the secretary earlier in the week to discuss that very issue, calling the information on space programs “overwhelmingly classified.”
For Rogers, that overclassification is one of the reasons it’s been so difficult for him and others to build support both in the public and with other members of Congress for a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military under the Air Force uniquely focused on space as a war-fighting domain.
“As members of the Armed Services Committee and the defense appropriators, we get it. But we have to have our other colleagues in the Congress to be supportive of us making the changes we need and the resources we need into this,” he said. “It’s not going to happen until they understand the threat and the dependence we have. And I don’t think that can happen until we see significant declassification of what we’re doing in space and what China and Russia are doing, and how space is in their day-to-day lives.”
Once Americans have access to that currently classified data, they will throw their support behind a Space Force, he concluded.
“The lack of an understanding really does hurt us in doing things that we need to do in space,” added Barrett. “There isn’t a constituency for space even though almost everyone uses space before their first cup of coffee in the morning.”
The two declined to say how much of the black space portfolio could move into the public, nor when changes would start happening. But Barrett pledged that it would be a focus for her office moving forward, a sign that progress could come during 2020.
The push comes as the intelligence community is also moving to declassify more information to combat threats posed by China, Russia and other nations. Then-Principal Deputy Director of Intelligence Sue Gordon stated in June that declassification is key to combating attempts by foreign powers to target American civilians for data collection. And that same month, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called on the intelligence community to declassify more data to combat the growing threat that China’s government poses to American businesses.
The Defense Intelligence Agency has made efforts to make more unclassified information available to the public through a series of reports on the military capabilities of other nations. Earlier this year the agency released a report on the threats to space that was entirely unclassified, although that approach limited what information the agency could reveal.
For Barrett, that same approach to declassification needs to be taken for space.
“America is the best there is in space. Yet, as we watch the trajectory of potential enemies, we see that the relationship is changing. America is also the biggest user of space,” she said. “Our way of life is more dependent on space than any other nation’s, and our capability in space was predominantly built at a time when we thought space was a benign environment.” (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 19. UK Conservatives promise new Space Command if returned to power. Should the British Conservative Party be re-elected at the upcoming general election, it will create a UK Space Command.
The Conservatives have set out that and other promises in their election manifesto.
“We will adapt to new threats, investing more in cyber security and setting up the UK’s first Space Command,” it said.
The election is to be held on 12 December and pits the Conservatives led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson against Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn.
The Conservatives have been in power in the UK since 2010. The central election issues remains Brexit – the UK exit from the European Union.
The Conservatives’ election manifesto included a promise to exceed 2 per cent of GDP on Defence spending but also substantial spending on social programs, including 50,000 more nurses for the NHS, to counter Labour’s big spending program.
If the Conservatives are re-elected and fulfil the Space Command promise, Britain would become the second European country to create a dedicated command structure for military space activities.
Earlier this year, France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly announced plans to create a Space Command within the French Air Force. This new body would have a limited mission to counter hostile forces in space.
Britain’s closest ally the US is also in the process of standing up its new Space Command.
Both Russia and China already have Space Commands in place within their armed forces. Both possess anti-satellite capabilities, as do other nations such as India.
Australia doesn’t yet have a Space Command within the Australian Defence Force but is acknowledging that space will be a crucial domain for any future conflict.
Like every other armed force, the ADF relies on space-based systems for command and control, communications, Earth observation and intelligence and navigation.
There’s a growing expectation that in any significant future conflict adversary space systems would be targeted at the outset, either by non-kinetic means such as jamming or by missile systems.
With Brexit looming, the UK and Australia are working on stronger defence ties and also a closer relationship in space matters.
The UK is developing a new synthetic aperture radar satellite surveillance system and has recently opened competition for the Skynet-6 military satellite communications program.
So far the Conservatives are on their own in proposing a UK Space Command as neither of the other major parties, Labour nor the Social Democrats, have mentioned military space matters in their manifestos. (Source: Space Connect)
07 Dec 19. The Space Force Appears Cleared For Launch. Congress has agreed on a plan to create a Space Force, a new branch of the military wanted by President Trump, lawmakers hinted on Saturday. The House and Senate’s compromise on the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act is expected to be filed on Monday, Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum. Smith declined to give details until the bill is finalized.
“I’ve been glowing for the past day,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who along with Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., have been trying to create the new service since 2017. “The hay’s not in the barn yet, but it’s real close to the barn door.”
Rogers said lawmakers are expected to vote on the NDAA on Wednesday.
“We’ve worked out the peripheral issues. Space Force was not one of those,” he said. “It’s been agreed upon for a couple of months as far as the structure.”
The House and Senate each proposed their own versions of the Space Force, which has been championed by President Trump. The House-approved version had less bureaucracy than the Senate version.
“The biggest concern is maximizing efficiency, minimize the amount of money spent,” Smith said Saturday when asked what he’ll be watching for as a Space Force is stood up. “We don’t need to create a whole bunch of more positions. It’s really more a matter of realigning the priorities. It’s not a matter of creating another big bureaucracy.
“You’ll see the details when they come out, but we worked in a bipartisan way to try to keep that stuff under control and not just give a blank check out there to go create another institution,” Smith said.
After initially looking to create a new military department for space, the Trump administration earlier this year proposed creating a Space Force within the Department of the Air Force — an arrangement that structured the new branch just like the Marine Corps being part of the Department of the Navy.
In August, the Pentagon created U.S. Space Command, a combatant command to focus on space warfighting. The Trump administration has said the move is necessary to make sure satellites critical to the military and the world’s economy are protected from weapons being developed largely by China and Russia. (Source: Defense One)
08 Dec 19. Time to Move Forward With Space Force, Air Force Secretary Says. A lack of understanding by Americans of the importance of space is hurting the effort to establish the Space Force, the secretary of the Air Force said yesterday.
“Communication, navigation, information: everything is dependent upon space, but people don’t recognize that,” Barbara Barrett said at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum, in Simi Valley, California. “There isn’t a constituency for space — even though almost everyone uses space before their first cup of coffee in the morning.”
The Space Force is expected to be a separate service under the Department of the Air Force.
Barrett said she believes most Americans remain largely unaware of the extent to which they depend on space in their daily lives. Water and power systems, for instance, depend on space technology, as do things such as ATMs and gas pumps.
“I’ll bet fewer than 10% of the American public recognizes that since 2011, the only way American astronauts can get to our $110bn investment, 225 miles up at the International Space Station … is by buying a seat from the Russians,” Barrett said.
“We are dependent upon others for much of our space access. And that’s just not the position that America should be in or want to be in,” she said.
For decades, Barrett said, the U.S. has led the way in space. Though it is still a leader, losing that edge has become a real risk, she said. And the secretary said the nature of the space environment has changed, making the U.S. vulnerable.
“Our capability in space was predominantly built at a time when we thought space was a benign environment,” Barrett said.
“In 2007, the Chinese demonstrated their ability to take satellites — their own satellite in that case — out of the skies,” she said. “So we know we are now vulnerable. So the assets upon which we depend are now vulnerable.”
The U.S., Barrett said, has more to lose than any other nation from malicious activity in space. This makes a space force even more critical.
“Our way of life is more dependent upon space than any other nation,” she said. “It is important for America to get on the case of space. And we have got to be able to deter derogatory action in space, and if deterrence doesn’t work, we need to be prepared to be something other than a victim with our space assets. So where we are is ahead, but that lead is shrinking, and our vulnerability and our dependence is greater than anyone else. It is time for us to move forward with a space force.”
A Dual-Purpose Mission
Barrett said the new Space Force would be responsible for defending assets in space — to protect defense and commerce systems already there, for instance — but also responsible for creating and using space assets to enable forces on Earth.
“We have to be able to defend what we have there that we count on,” she said. “We need to build, put things in space that can themselves be defended. We need to then be able to use space as an enabler for our war fighters in other domains. So we need to be able to have free access to space for ourselves and others — benevolent others.”
While the Air Force became an independent service in 1947, its lineage traces directly back to the Army’s Aeronautical Division, which was established in 1907. In a similar fashion, the Space Force is expected to be largely carved out of the Air Force. It’s been more than 100 years since the United States military has created a new service in the way it now hopes to build the Space Force.
“This will be a … talent-driven, technologically-based entity,” Barrett said. “We’ll get a lot of help and a lot of input on how to do it. But we’re putting the A-team on it and we’re working to build the very best system. There will be a lot of contested elements as we go through the process. But I think what you can rely upon is that there are people looking at this that are doing it with a lot of thought and a lot of attention.” (Source: US DoD)
03 Dec 19. Griffin: DoD Can’t Rely on Commercial Satellite Communications. Griffin’s seeming skepticism about commercial ventures to provide global broadband and Internet services is in stark contrast to the enthusiasm bubbling out of the Air Force and the Army.
Communications satellite constellations such as those being launched by SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat and Amazon, haven’t proven they can make money so the Pentagon needs to build its own Low Earth Orbit (LEO) network, says DoD Research & Engineering czar Mike Griffin.
This puts Griffin somewhat at odds with the Air Force and Army, who are going full steam ahead to try to leverage the new LEO satcom systems. But Griffin told an audience at the Chamber of Commerce’s launch seminar today that, in his assessment, the business case for commercial broadband and Internet mega-constellations in LEO “is a tough one to close. I won’t say that it is permanently un-closable … but it is a tough business case.”
This means, he said, that there is a need for “a national security communications substructure to any future architecture that we might either buy ourselves or rent from other people. …The national security community has an absolute need for guaranteed communications. It has to be guaranteed in wartime. …It has to be guaranteed in a harsh environment, manmade and natural. It has to be, to the extent we can do so, secure.”
This is why, he said, the Space Development Agency (SDA)’s second priority — after building a LEO-based missile tracking constellation aimed at low-flying hypersonic cruise missiles — is to build a data communications ‘transport layer’ to link satellites to shooters on the ground.
The data transport satellites are only one part of SDA’s nascent National Defense Space Architecture that comprises seven layers of satellite constellations and ground stations. According to SDA’s July request for proposal, the Space Transport Layer will be a “Global, persistent, low-latency data and communications proliferated ‘mesh’ network to provide 24×7 global communications.”
Griffin’s seeming skepticism about the future market viability of commercial ventures to provide global broadband and Internet services is in stark contrast to the overt enthusiasm for so-called ‘proliferated LEO architectures’ bubbling out of the Air Force and the Army.
The Air Force has a number of efforts to define how large commercial satellite constellations in LEO can be tapped to provide alternatives to current capabilities and functions provided by small numbers of very expensive, ‘exquisite’ satellites that Air Force Gen. John Hyten, now vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has famously referred to as “fat, juicy targets.” The hope is that the Air Force can reduce costs and improve resiliency via investing in commercial LEO systems, rather than building its own constellations.
For example, the Air Force is currently experimenting with using SpaceX’s Starlink constellation to provide direct data links to various service aircraft under a program nicknamed Global Lightning. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) program, formally named Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI), is one of the central pillars of Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper’s efforts at digital transformation to underpin Multi-Domain Operations.
Likewise, Army leaders are practically begging the commercial satcom industry to help them figure out how to obtain low-cost, low-latency, 24/7 communications for soldiers in the field. In particular, Army leaders want industry to help develop technologies to simplify the receivers required for access to communications satellites, including commercial broadband mega-constellations in LEO.
“We see the need to expand beyond the communications capabilities that we have today, and we are very excited about emergence of opportunities in LEO and MEO space,” Joe Welch, deputy program executive officer for command, control and communications-tactical (C3-T), said Oct. 16 during a presentation at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference. The C3-T office procures and integrates the tactical components of the Army’s networks, one of the Army’s ‘Big Six’ modernization priorities.
The Army has been experimenting with small sats to support ground troops, and is also eyeing how it might leverage commercial technologies, he said. As a first step, he added, the Army has been experimenting with terminals to link to commercial LEO and MEO satellites, with the goal of developing a prototype terminal by 2023.
However, Griffin’s and the two services’ approaches are not necessarily in conflict, Janice Starzyk, vice president of commercial space for Bryce Technologies, told Breaking D today.
Griffin’s skepticism about market sustainability is “fully reasonable,” she said, noting that two companies planning mega-constellations in lower orbits went out of business (LeoSat and Audacy) in the last two weeks. On the other hand, she said, the services are being offered access to satellites already being launched and they are wise to see if they can take advantage. The key — if DoD were to invest early in one or more operators, it would change the market dynamic.
“I agree with both sides,” she said. “You either have to build it yourself, or you have to pay, to back someone to build it.”
But, for his part, Griffin doesn’t seem interested in making those investments — at least for commercial satcom. (Source: Breaking Defense)
04 Dec 19. Hughes Selected by SES for a Proper SES-17 Grounding. Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) will employ the Hughes JUPITER™ System to enable services on the SES-17 satellite, which is being built by Thales Alenia Space for SES (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) and is expected to launch in 2021.,
The agreement calls for Hughes to supply its next-generation ground network system, including data centers and hub equipment, which will operate over SES-17, a satellite with a highly flexible payload optimized for aviation connectivity and other high-powered data services across the Americas, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean.
The JUPITER System is the satellite platform for VSAT networks, designed and optimized for broadband services over both high-throughput and conventional satellites. For fixed applications, each JUPITER terminal supports 300 Mbps of throughput — ideal for applications such as cellular backhaul and Community Wi-Fi hotspots.
In aero applications, the JUPITER terminal is capable of delivering speeds greater than 600 Mbps and incorporates the latest air interface standard for satellite transmissions. Supporting a superior passenger experience, the JUPITER System enables airlines to deliver uninterrupted, gate-to-gate, high-performance connectivity.
Elodie Viau, SES-17 System Program Lead, SES, said that for network operators and enterprise, aero, and maritime customers, the fully digital SES-17 spacecraft will introduce the ability to modify networks in real time in response to changing bandwidth demands. SES-17 will feature the company’s Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) system, a dynamic software solution that will efficiently synchronize the firm’s space and ground resources to offer maximum agility and adaptivity to real-time changes. To turn that flexibility into reality, SES needed a ground network solution that matches in terms of efficiency and performance and the company will be working together with Hughes to leverage the JUPITER platform with the ARC system.
Royce Hernandez, Senior Director, Hughes, added that the company appreciates the opportunity to strengthen the firm’s relationship with SES by supplying the ground network to enable flexible, efficient, high-performance services on SES-17. SES’s selection of the advanced JUPITER System further validates it as the worldwide platform of choice for efficient, high performance satellite broadband solutions that will fulfill customer needs today and into the future. (Source: Satnews)
02 Dec 19. China’s First Electromagnetic Satellite Bears Fruitful Results. China’s first seismo-electromagnetic satellite Zhangheng 1 has obtained fruitful electromagnetic data, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The satellite has enabled China to obtain a global geomagnetic map and an ionospheric map with its own intellectual property rights. It has obtained information about global ground artificial sources, magnetic storms and signals of earthquakes above 7 magnitude. It also helps with understanding the coupling mechanisms of the lithosphere, atmosphere and ionosphere. Shen Xuhui, the chief scientist of the satellite, said China is expected to have three electromagnetic satellites in orbit by 2022, offering support for earthquake forecasting as well as space weather monitoring and warning. Developed by DFH Satellite Co Ltd under the CASC, the satellite Zhangheng 1 was launched on February 2, 2018. The satellite was named after Zhang Heng, a renowned scholar of the East Han Dynasty (25-220), who pioneered earthquake studies by inventing the first-ever seismoscope in the year 132. (Source: Satnews/ChinaDaily)
01 Dec 19. Kacific’s First Satellite Obtains Tata Connectivity Support. Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) has selected Tata Communications1 to provide terrestrial connectivity services as the company prepares for the launch of their first satellite, Kacific1 — Tata Communications will provide global internet and state-of-the-art cyber security services for Kacific’s Ka-band satellite network.
Tata Communications operates a global network that reaches more than 200 countries and territories and serves over 7,000 customers globally that represent over 300 of the Fortune 500. The company’s global network will provide multi gigabit connectivity with unparalleled redundancy and security to Kacific. Kacific will benefit from the Tata Communications’ advanced subsea fibre network which underpins the internet backbone, where its network carries around 30% of the world’s internet routes.
Kacific1 is a High Throughput Satellite (HTS) that will use 56 high-power Ka-band beams to deliver affordable, high-speed broadband to telecommunications companies, internet service providers and governments in South East Asia and the Pacific.
Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux, noted that the company chose to enter into this arrangement with Tata Communications because of the sophistication and scale of the company’s global network and its unrivaled security expertise. Kacific’s high-speed broadband will reach people living across both the most remote rural locations and the most densely populated urban centers in the Asia Pacific region. Tata Communications has a highly skilled network and security team and a leading edge technology that will support the Kacific1 satellite IP delivery network to deliver optimal and redundant performance across the region. Relying on that network, the Kacific satellite system will make internet connectivity affordable for millions of people who are currently unserved or under-served.
Brian Morris, VP and GM of Global Media and Entertainment Services at Tata Communications, added that robust connectivity is the foundation of any digital solution. At Tata Communications, the firm understands the need for a network that is global, reliable, secure and scalable and believes in Kacific’s vision to bridge the digital divide by providing high-quality broadband access to underserved areas of the Asia Pacific. Tata is pleased to work with Kacific to provide them a unified service across security and network management. (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.