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SATELLITE SYSTEMS, SATCOM AND SPACE SYSTEMS UPDATE

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08 Jan 20. What we know about Iran’s counter-space weapons. Does Iran have the ability to destroy American satellites or otherwise deny the unique capabilities they afford United States war fighters?

It’s certainly a question worth asking amid heightened tension between the two nations following the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military official, in a Jan. 3 drone strike.

Iran responded Jan. 7 with a barrage of missile strikes on two U.S. bases in Iraq. While the situation appears to have de-escalated since the strikes, which did not result in any casualties, bilateral tension remains high. Should either nation decide to take escalatory military action, what threat does Iran pose to America’s space-based capabilities?

Much has been made of the likelihood that Iran’s space launch program could be used to advance ballistic missile development. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ annual Space Threat Assessment, Iran’s “efforts in space are often viewed as a thinly-veiled cover for its developing ballistic missile program.”

Similarly, the same rockets Iran is using to launch satellites could theoretically be converted to direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons, though Johnson was skeptical of the likelihood of that.

Said his colleague Kaitlyn Johnson, the associate director of the think tank’s Aerospace Security Project, of the alternative use: “It’s a potentiality. They have never tested one or indicated they would be able to test one.

“Part of having a direct-ascent capability is to be able to know where your target is — to track it in flight — but also to have the general space situational awareness to know the exact orbital position of that target satellite, and they don’t have those capabilities yet.”

There appears to be wide agreement on that point. Both the Secure World Foundation’s “Global Counterspace Capabilities” report and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s “Challenges to Security in Space” document found that Iran does not have direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons.

“Technologically, it is unlikely Iran has the capacity to build on-orbit or direct-ascent anti-satellite capabilities, and little military motivations to do so at this point,” according to the Secure World Foundation report, which was released April 2019.

Iran seems to be focusing on denying America’s space capabilities rather than physically neutralizing an on-orbit satellite, said Johnson.

“[Iran is more focused on] jamming technologies, cyber intrusions, because those technologies are a little cheaper [and] more easy to develop, and of course cyber is a universal skill set that can be applied to other things than hacking satellites or ground stations,” Johnson said. “That’s where we see most of Iran’s focus is, in developing those kinds of counter-space capabilities versus the big, flashy, direct-ascent [anti-satellite weapons] like what India tested back in March.”

According to a DIA report titled “Threats to Security in Space,” Iran recognizes the strategic value of denying the United States’ space-based capabilities, and Tehran has developed technologies that can do just that. The Iranian government has satellite communications and GPS jamming capabilities, the DIA reported, and Iran may be a significant factor in the proliferation of GPS jammers.

In 2011, Iran claimed to have used jamming and GPS-spoofing technology to land an American RQ-170 stealth drone in its territory. While the U.S. did confirm that the drone landed in Iran, it’s unconfirmed if Iran was responsible for the landing, or how its forces may have been involved. There are suggestions that Iran was able to jam the military GPS signal and then spoof the civilian GPS signal to bring down the drone.

“The U.S. has never acknowledged that it was actually spoofed, so it’s a little hazier there,” Johnson noted. “But their jamming capabilities are pretty advanced.”

There have been multiple instances of Iran jamming commercial satellite broadcasts over the years. What’s less clear is whether Iran is capable of jamming the U.S. military’s satellites, which have varying degrees of anti-jamming capabilities.

Additionally, Iran could have a system capable of blinding U.S. satellites with lasers. While a 2011 report claimed Iran had such a system, there is little public information backing that up, according to CSIS. Depending on the system’s sophistication and scale, it could prevent American spy satellites from taking pictures over Iran, thus denying war fighters the crucial geospatial intelligence on which they depend.

Johnson expects Iran will largely follow the same trajectory in developing counter-space weapons.

“I think they will continue to use their space launch systems as a test bed of technologies to build out their ballistic missile programs and then continue to invest in these lower-technology, lower-cost, but high-impact weapon systems like jamming and cyber capabilities.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

08 Jan 20. Thales Alenia Space and Thales sign concept study contract with French defense procurement agency for a Stratobus type platform.

Thales Alenia Space (the joint venture between Thales, 67% and Leonardo, 33%) and Thales have signed a contract with The French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) to carry out a concept study concerning intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications using a StratobusTM type platform to meet French army operational needs.

The aim of the contract is to study the benefits of continuous stratospheric platforms to improve and expand France’s defense capabilities. More specifically, the contract includes studies of:

  • An operational concept study for an ISR mission including exercises simulating its use in theaters of operation.
  • A full-scale demonstrator concept, capable of flying in the stratosphere to demonstrate the in-flight performance of an ISR mission of this type.

StratobusTM type stratospheric solutions offer two main advantages:

  • It significantly increases the area monitored by a single platform, especially by eliminating terrain masking
  • It offers an ability to linger over an area, thus improving resilience in relation to current naval, airborne, ground and space solutions.

“The aim of this contract is to assess the relevance of StratobusTM type continuous stratospheric solutions to meet defense needs, and also marks a major step forward in the definition of a possible operational solution in conjunction with users” said Jean-Philippe Chessel, Director of the StratobusTM product line. “It will enable us to prepare the foundations for the development of a complete solution, including high-reliability autonomous avionics, as well as all control aspects. We are aiming to carry out a flight demonstration by the end of 2023. The StratobusTM project has been supported by the French government from the outset within the scope of the Investment in the Future plan and a European regional development fund (FEDER) for the French Riviera region.” (Source: ASD Network)

09 Jan 20. Starlink launches another 60 satellites in next step to global broadband network. Elon Musk’s SpaceX now operates the world’s largest satellite constellation with the successful launch of another 60 of its Starlink broadband satellites this week. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday Australian time, the third Starlink launch. That makes 182 satellites launched – 60 launched in May and another 60 in November plus a pair of earlier prototypes – though not all will be part of the final constellation.

That could be as many as 12,000 satellites, providing global broadband internet.

Not all will be part of the constellation – three didn’t work and two will be intentionally de-orbited to test decommissioning procedures.

This latest batch were placed in an orbit at 290 kilometres where the company will perform checks before raising them to their final orbit at 550 kilometres.

As with past launches, SpaceX sought to recover key components of the Falcon to be used again.

The rocket’s first stage landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” out in the Atlantic Ocean, completing its fourth launch, including the first batch of Starlink satellites.

However fairing catcher ship Ms Tree was unsuccessful in netting a fairing half after the launch.

One of the latest batch of 60 has been given a darkening treatment to make it less reflective. That’s to answer concerns of astronomers that a large number of small bright satellites will destroy night observation of the stars.

The latest launch means Starlink has overtaken Planet as the world’s largest satellite operator. Planet operates a constellation of 150 observation satellites.

SpaceX plans to deploy the first 1,584 satellites at 550 kilometres to accelerate rollout of its service and also reduce the risk of creating additional space junk.

In that orbit, failed satellites will naturally fall out of orbit due to atmospheric drag within 25 years, the period suggested by NASA and other global space agencies.

SpaceX planned to conduct up to half a dozen launches of Starlink satellites in 2019 but ended up doing just the two.

To catch up, the company is planning up to 24 launches this year. With each carrying 60 satellites, that would take the Starlink constellation to more than 1,500.

Musk said last year that Starlink would be economically viable at 1,000 satellites and 12,000 would be a very successful outcome.

Others are also planning big constellations of small internet satellites, though nothing on the scale of Starlink. OneWeb is planning for 1,980 satellites, Amazon wants a 3,236-satellite constellation, and Telesat is designing a network of around 300. (Source: Space Connect)

07 Jan 20. Satellogic to Launch Two NewSat Mark IV Spacecraft. Scheduled Launch Will Increase Satellogic’s In-Orbit Capacity. Satellogic, the first company to develop a scalable earth observation platform with the ability to remap the entire planet at both high-frequency and high-resolution, today announced the impending launch of two new Earth Observation satellites. China Great Wall Corporation (CGWIC) will deliver the spacecraft to Low Earth Orbit via a Long March 2D rocket scheduled to launch from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 2:53am GMT on January 15th.

Both Satellogic satellites are equipped with two payloads: a multispectral camera with 1m resolution and a hyperspectral camera at 30m resolution. The launch will bring the total number of Satellogic spacecraft in orbit to 10. Satellogic has secured launch agreements to put another 80+ satellites in orbit over the next 24 months. The launch scheduled for January 15th falls under the multiple-launch agreement that Satellogic and CGWIC signed in January of 2019 for a series of dedicated launches to build out Satellogic’s Earth Observation Satellite Constellation.

Today, Satellogic is also announcing the expansion of their Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) facility in Montevideo, Uruguay. The expanded facility features 16 work cells and new training rooms to accommodate Satellogic’s growing engineering workforce. The upgraded facility also leverages Lean Manufacturing methodology and has implemented Kanban signals to control production levels and to balance workforce distribution. The facility has also implemented the 5S methodology in its operations. Satellogic’s AIT facility focuses on standardization, zero defects and zero waste as Satellogic continues to scale up the company’s production system.

“We are always looking for ways to better meet our customers’ needs, which is why we’re excited to share the details of our upcoming launch and AIT facility expansion,” said Emiliano Kargieman, Satellogic’s CEO and founder. “With these expanded capabilities on earth and in-orbit, we are prepared to further scale our production and deliver insights at high-resolution and improved frequency for our customers. These expanded capabilities serve as important milestones for Satellogic, as we continue to track towards a completed Earth Observation satellite constellation.”

The two spacecraft will serve to increase Satellogic’s in-orbit capacity, enabling the company to serve new Dedicated Satellite Constellation (DSC) customers and deliver increased data for solutions and imagery services. Satellogic’s DSC offerings have seen increased traction, as governments look to kickstart or supplement their space programs. Satellogic also provides actionable insights based on AI and data analytics to a broad range of industries, including agriculture, forestry, energy, finance & insurance, and critical infrastructure, among others.

“All of us at Satellogic are thrilled to have two more spacecraft in orbit,” said Marco Bressan, Satellogic’s Chief Product Officer. “This launch expands our capacity to serve present and future customers. We have a full pipeline, and we’re in an excellent position to meet the rising demand for geospatial solutions and services at a disruptive cost.”

The spacecraft, Sophie and Marie, were named in honor of Sophie Germain, the mathematician and physicist, and Marie Curie, the physicist and chemist. Satellogic has a tradition of naming their spacecraft after important women scientists. Ada and Maryam, two Satellogic spacecraft launched in 2018, were named for mathematicians Ada Lovelace and Maryam Mirzakhani.

Satellogic recently announced the close of $50M in funding to further scale Satellogic’s existing constellation and drive continued commercial expansion. The company has seen continued market demand for both their DSC and Data Services and Solutions offerings, including a $38M agreement with data science company, ABDAS, to deliver exclusive access to a dedicated constellation of satellites over the Henan Province in China.

Founded in 2010, Satellogic is a global company with 180 employees and offices in Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Montevideo, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Beijing, Charlotte and Miami. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)

08 Jan 20. US and Five Eyes continue to expand space domain co-operation. New Zealand representatives have attended the US Combined Forces Space Command (CFSCC) weekly operational forum, the first time this has involved all Five Eyes nations.

Five Eyes is the term used to describe intelligence sharing and collaboration between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US.

And in a further step in the growing co-operation between the US and ally nations, a UK officer has for the first time signed the weekly combined space tasking order.

The US Space Command said operational co-ordination in the space domain continued to expand, with the growing partnership between the US, Canada, Australia and the UK in the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC). Also involved are Germany, France and New Zealand.

“USSPACECOM maintains strong international alliances and partnerships to conduct operations in and through the space domain,” it said.

“Given the increasing complexity of the space environment, the coalition provides a unified response to a variety of threats presented in the warfighting domain of space. The CSpOC is primed to conduct such operations.”

CSpOC, which reports to the Combined Force Space Component Command – a subordinate command of the newly re-established USSPACECOM – executes the operational command and control of space forces to achieve theatre and global objectives.

That operates 24/7, co-ordinating, planning, integrating, synchronising and executing space operations.

USSPACECOM said recently, New Zealand space operations representatives attended the CFSCC weekly Products Brief (CPB), the operational forum where coalition space strategy is synchronised.

This was the first time the CPB occurred at the truly Five Eyes level of integration, it said.

The second milestone occurred when Deputy Director of CSpOC, RAF Group Captain Darren Whiteley, signed the weekly Combined Space Tasking Order.

This was the first time a coalition partner signed the order under Operation Olympic Defender (OOD) tasking the CFSCC subordinate units.

OOD is a multinational program to share information and resources, allowing partners to to leverage and synchronise existing capabilities.

CSpOC was stood up in July 2018 to co-ordinate space operations across the Department of Defense, other US agencies, allies, commercial and civil space partners.

“Allied partnerships are critical to defending our assets at home and in the space domain,” Gp Capt Whiteley said.

“The threat is expanding and international collaboration is essential to strengthen deterrence against hostile actors. Through these partnerships we are able to expand the depth and multiply the effects we can have to those evolving threats.” (Source: Defence Connect)

05 Jan 20. USAF advances military SATCOM through WGS 11+ platform. The US Air Force (USAF) Space and Missile Systems Center is harnessing modern satellite communication technology through the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS)-11+ platform to deliver twice the capability.

According to Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, the WGS-11+ adapts new technologies to provide more coverage beams and more beam-formed bandwidth.

SMC’s Production Corps and Portfolio Architect’s Mission System Integration team collaborated with Boeing and concluded a Systems Requirements Review (SRR) agreement together with the army and navy.

Together, they worked to ensure the system’s technical baseline will increase value for troops on a five-year schedule.

The WGS team is embedded at the Boeing facility and could apply lessons obtained from extensive testing performed by a similar commercial space programme using the same digital payload technologies.

Following the completion of SRR, the WGS-11+ team has initiated production and prototyping of Pathfinder hardware units to reduce the risk for the final production build on its ‘Road to Preliminary Design Review’ campaign.

WGS-11+ will be capable of forming unique coverage areas anywhere within the field of regard.

SMC Production Corps Geosynchronous / Polar Division chief John Dukes said: “The resilient design will deliver combatant commanders twice the mission capability through contested environments, improving capacity and coverage to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.”

WGS Aerospace Platform lead Dr Mark Peterson said: “WGS-11+ enhances operational flexibility and performance to better serve the warfighter, the system will provide more coverage beams than the entire existing WGS constellation.”

The WGS-11+ platform will also enable seamless broadband interconnectivity for X-band and Ka-band users. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

05 Jan 20. Commercial Technology Leveraged by SMC to Enable WGS-11+ to Deliver 2x Capabilities. Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS)-11+ is a Space and Missile Systems (SMC) Center Pacesetter for the rapid application and fielding of commercial technology. The SMC Production Corps and Portfolio Architect’s Mission System Integration team jointly championed a successful first-ever, cross-corps Systems Requirements Review (SRR) to help the Government and Boeing reach a mutual agreement on a system performance specification to satisfy warfighter needs quickly.

The WGS program office, leveraging enterprise partnerships and a collaborative culture with Army, Navy, and Boeing systems engineers, worked closely together to ensure the system’s technical baseline will maximize value to the warfighter on an aggressive 5-year schedule.

The WGS team, embedded at the Boeing facility, has been able to apply lessons learned from extensive testing performed by a similar commercial space program utilizing the same digital payload technologies. With SRR complete, the WGS-11+ team has initiated production and prototyping of Pathfinder hardware units to reduce risk for the final production build on its “Road to Preliminary Design Review” campaign.

WGS capability evolves significantly with each generation of spacecraft. WGS-11+ adapts innovative technologies to provide more coverage beams, more beam formed bandwidth and more frequency re-use than heritage systems. WGS-11+ will be capable of forming unique coverage areas anywhere within the field of regard—each sized optimally as mission needs demand. The satellite will have much greater inherent resilience to threats than prior vehicles.

The ability to provide seamless broadband interconnectivity for X-band and Ka-band users, and features to operate in a contested environment—provide the global responsiveness for U.S. and Allied Forces to support missions ranging from warfighting to humanitarian relief efforts. Additionally, the system remains a viable government host platform for rapid prototyping and additional enhancements with mission partners are being considered.

Colonel John Dukes, Chief of the Geosynchronous/Polar Division, SMC Production Corps, said the resilient design will deliver Combatant Commanders twice the mission capability through contested environments—improving capacity and coverage to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Dr. Mark Peterson, WGS Aerospace Platform lead, noted that WGS-11+ enhances operational flexibility and performance to better serve the warfighter—the system will provide more coverage beams than the entire existing WGS constellation.

Major Brandon Castillo, WGS-11+ Program Manager, added that SMC is excited to deliver this game-changing capability to the warfighter.

Boeing developed a new variant of its 702 satellite for the WGS-11 addition to the constellation, one that offers greater bandwidth efficiency and signal power than previous satellites in the fleet. (Source: Satnews)

03 Jan 20. US proposes new export controls on satellite imagery software. Trump administration moves to restrict sales of emerging technologies and AI products. The Trump administration has proposed to slap new export controls on geospatial imagery software, as it rolled out the first in a series of measures to restrict sales of emerging technologies and artificial intelligence products to countries including China. The US commerce department announced the step in a notice in the US Federal Register notice, saying the items needed to be subject to the trade restrictions because they offered the US a “significant military or intelligence advantage”. The US also said a multilateral regime should be set up to control sales of the software. The move by the Trump administration follows a 2018 law designed to tighten export controls on emerging technologies mainly to prevent China and other US strategic adversaries from gaining control of the most cutting-edge technologies. The US administration has moved relatively slowly to implement the law, amid fears in Silicon Valley that sweeping restrictions on sales of technology to China could backfire financially as well as from a national security perspective, by preventing exchanges between US and Chinese researchers that could lead to more innovation. (Source: FT.com)

02 Jan 20. OneWeb Satellites Launch Deferred to January 30. The first launch of UK telecommunications satellites OneWeb from Baikonur Cosmodrome is scheduled for January 30, a spokesman for Glavkosmos, subsidiary of Russian space agency Roscosmos, has stated.

In late November, a source at the spaceport revealed that the launch of OneWeb satellites had been postponed from January 23 to later in January or February due to delays in the production of satellites. Before that, the launch was planned for December 19 and was postponed for a similar reason.

“Work on the launch of OneWeb satellites is on schedule, according to which the first launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome is scheduled for January 30, 2020,” the spokesman said.

A total of 34 satellites will be launched via the Soyuz-2.1b rocket with the Fregat-M booster, he added.

Roscosmos signed contracts with French company Arianespace and UK’s OneWeb in June of 2015 for carrying out a total of 21 commercial launches to bring 672 satellites to space atop the Soyuz rockets from Kourou, Baikonur and Vostochny spaceports.

OneWeb plans to create a constellation of satellites that will provide broadband Internet access to users around the world fully covering the Earth’s surface. In cooperation with Roscosmos, the UK communications company sent up its first satellites in February and has planned its next two launches for the end of this year and the first half of 2020.

In April 2019, OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said that the initial constellation of 650 satellites would begin to provide commercial services in 2021. The constellation is expected to include about 2,000 satellites by 2026. (Source: Satnews)

02 Jan 20. Key Allied Space Partnerships Expanded by USSPACECOM. National security in the space domain continues to expand its operational coordination and capabilities between the U.S. Space Command and allied nations. A multi-national space force, a strategic defense partnership between several nations including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, operate together at the Combined Space Operations Center. Additional nations collaborating on space operations with the CSpOC include Germany, France and New Zealand.

USSPACECOM maintains strong international alliances and partnerships to conduct operations in and through the space domain. Given the increasing complexity of the space environment, the coalition provides a unified response to a variety of threats presented in the warfighting domain of space. The CSpOC is primed to conduct such operations.

The CSpOC, which reports to the Combined Force Space Component Command – a subordinate command to the newly re-established USSPACECOM – executes the operational command and control of space forces to achieve theater and global objectives. It operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week, continuously coordinating, planning, integrating, synchronizing and executing space operations; providing tailored space effects on demand to support combatant commanders; and accomplishing national security objectives.

Recently, New Zealand space operations representatives attended CFSCC’s weekly Products Brief (CPB), the operational forum where Coalition space strategy is synchronized, and CFSCC’s Master Space Plan and Combined Space Tasking Order are communicated and approved. This was the first time the CPB occurred at the truly “Five Eyes” level of integration. Five Eyes is a military term used to describe intelligence sharing and collaboration between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the United States.

The second historic milestone occurred when Deputy Director of CSpOC, Group Captain Darren Whiteley – a Royal Air Force officer from the United Kingdom – signed the weekly Combined Space Tasking Order. It was the first time a coalition partner signed the order under Operation Olympic Defender (OOD) tasking the CFSCC subordinate units. OOD, which is a multi-national effort intended to strengthen deterrence, optimize space operations, improve mission assurance, enhance resilience and optimize space assets by engaging with U.S. government partners and allies, involves sharing information, data and resources. It is a method for partners to leverage and synchronize existing capabilities.

CSpOC stood up in July 2018 to create a unity of effort in space operations across the Department of Defense, U.S. interagency, allies, commercial and civil space partners. Adding allies to OOD, builds upon the success of the CSpOC and enhances the overall command’s capability to collectively defend vital assets in space.

Retaining U.S. and allied space superiority requires a combined approach. USSPACECOM’s existing partnerships with allied and commercial entities are foundational to its combat effectiveness. Through these partnerships with the CSpOC, USSPACECOM will continue to broaden and strengthen its mission throughout its assigned Area of Responsibility, but most especially within USSPACECOM’s subordinate commands.

Captain Whiteley said that allied partnerships are critical to defending the nation’s assets at home and in the space domain. The threat is expanding and international collaboration is essential to strengthen deterrence against hostile actors. Through these partnerships, depth can be expanded and the effects on evolving threats can be multiplied. (Source: Satnews)

02 Jan 20. Russian Rokot Pushes Three Smallsats Plus a Military Satellite to Orbit. On December 27 at 2:11 a.m., Moscow time, the Russian Briz-KM upper stage delivered to orbit a military satellite plus three Gonets-M communication smallsats, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

In a statement from the ministry, they said that the Rokot light carrier rocket was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome (Arkhangelsk region) and delivered three Gonets-M communications spacecraft and the spacecraft of the Russian Defense Ministry to the orbit at the assigned time.

The launch of the Rokot rocket and delivery of the spacecraft to the orbit were carried out in the routine mode, the ministry added.

The defense ministry said that JSC Gonets SatCom has assumed control over the Gonets-M satellites, adding that after delivery to the orbit, the control over the Gonets-M spacecraft was transferred to the operator, who will continue controlling them throughout the orbital flight.

These smallsats were built by Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems and weight approximately about 300 kilograms — their life expectancy on-orbit is five years. No information, as of this writing, has been offered regarding the Russian military satellite payload.

This is the second launch of the Rokot rocket from Plesetsk in 2019. The previous Rokot launch was successfully carried out on August 30. Moreover, combat crews of the Space Forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces have launched six more Soyuz-2 carrier rockets from the Plesetsk cosmodrome during 2019. (Source: Satnews)

02 Jan 20. FCC Gives OK To SpaceX for More Satellites. On December 19, 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the application1 of Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX) to further modify their previously authorized 4,425 non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) fixed-satellite service (FSS) satellite constellation using Ku- and Ka-band spectrum2.

Specifically, the agency has now authorized SpaceX to increase the number of orbital planes authorized for operations of SpaceX’s satellites at the 550 kilometer (km.) orbital shell, to reduce the number of satellites in each orbital plane and to reconfigure existing satellites in its constellation accordingly.  In doing so, the FCC denies petitions to deny or defer SpaceX’s application3.

Grant of this application will allow SpaceX to accelerate the deployment of their satellite constellation to deliver broadband service throughout the United States, especially to those who live in areas underserved or unserved by terrestrial systems.

On April 26, 2019, the FCC’s International Bureau (Bureau) granted SpaceX’s request to modify its initial authorization and allowed SpaceX to: (1) reduce the number of satellites in the constellation from 4,425 to 4,409; (2) operate 1,584 satellites previously authorized to operate at an altitude of 1,150 km. at the lower altitude of 550 km.; and (3) make related changes to the operations of the satellites in this new lower shell of the constellation.

1Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, Request for Modification of the Authorization for the SpaceX NGSO Satellite System, IBFS File No. SAT−MOD−20190830−00087, filed August 30, 2019 (SpaceX Second Modification Application).

2See Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, Application for Approval for Orbital Deployment and Operating Authority for the SpaceX NGSO Satellite System, Memorandum Opinion, Order and Authorization, 33 FCC Rcd 3391 (2018) (SpaceX Authorization).

3Petition to Defer of SES Americom and O3b Limited (filed Oct. 15, 2019) (SES/O3b Petition); Letter from Nickolas G. Spina, Counsel to Kepler Communications, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC (filed Oct. 15, 2019) (Kepler Letter).  Kepler’s Letter comprises (1) a petition for reconsideration of the SpaceX First Modification Order (as defined in n.4 below) (Kepler Letter, Recon Petition) (2) a petition to defer or deny this SpaceX Second Modification Application (Kepler Letter, Second Mod Petition), and (3) a petition to defer or deny SpaceX’s request for special temporary authority to launch its second tranche of satellites (Kepler Letter, STA Petition). (Source: Satnews)

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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.

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