satellite systems

May 21, 2019

Carlsbad, California-based Viasat Inc. announced on May 21 that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) had awarded the company a five-year, sole-source indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for rapid migration of command, control, communications, computers and cyber (C5AD) capabilities. The IDIQ, which has a maximum ceiling of $450 million, was structured by GSA to meet the immediate needs of the Department of Defense (DoD) in mobile networking, cybersecurity and broadband satellite communications technology sectors. 

November 2, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Col. James Reynolds, USAF, emphasizes that the Air Force can’t develop satellite communications like they did in the past, signaling a move away from single providers in some cases.

While the U.S. Air Force will always have purpose-built and single-provider satellite communications, it wants to move into more flexible constructs that would allow warfighters to jump between multiple providers, frequency bands and systems.

November 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
A new office at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center intentionally will be going after international partnerships for satellite communications, says Col. Timothy M. McKenzie, USAF, senior materiel leader, division chief, Advanced Development Division, MILSATCOM Systems Directorate. Credit: Katie Helwig

A burgeoning threat environment, an increasingly contentious space environment, the push toward rapid innovation and constant cost constraints are driving the U.S. military to pursue more partnerships to secure necessary satellite communications. The renewed interest in partnering with allies to get satellite systems into orbit will help shoulder the cost burden and enable the U.S. military meet its program needs, experts say.

June 4, 2018
Ensign Edward Hanlon, USN, along with a group of midshipmen, helped create the robotic satellite repair system AMODS, which will be launched into space for testing this summer.

Researchers at the Systems Engineering Department of the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, will remotely test for the first time an autonomous satellite repair system known as AMODS, after it is launched with Rocket Lab USA’s Electron rocket this summer, reports Matthew Schehl of the Navy News Service.

The U.S. Navy’s Morgan Lange, Edward Hanlon and Benjamin Keegan were midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy when they developed AMODS—the Autonomous Mobile On-orbit Diagnostic System—with guidance from Jin Kang, assistant professor, Aerospace Engineering Department, and director, Naval Academy Small Satellite Program.

April 2, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
SpaceX, which is pioneering the ability to re-use rockets for launches, just obtained governmental approval for a new satellite-based broadband system. Photo courtesy of SpaceX.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the application of Space Exploration Holdings LLC’s proposal to provide broadband satellite services to the United States. The company, known as SpaceX will build, deploy and manage a nongeostationary orbit (NGSO) system of 4,425 satellites. SpaceX’s proposed global fixed-satellite service (FSS) was authorized to operate in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) frequency bands, according to an FCC statement. 

December 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
U.S. troops conduct a so-called “jump test” of a new capability. Here they evaluate the Hughes HM300 portable X-band satellite terminal used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The U.S. Navy’s investment in its own fleet of high-altitude, long-range unmanned aerial systems called Tritons marks a detour from the military’s longtime use of satellite technology to connect its arsenal of big platforms such as Global Hawks and Predators. 

August 25, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Arianespace successfully launches its fourth Ariane 5 mission of the year, this time carrying a double payload with Intelsat-33e and Intelsat-36—the first time Intelsat blasted off two satellites on one rocket. Photo courtesy of Intelsat.

Forty-one minutes and 50 seconds after liftoff, sighs, applause and cheers of congratulations displaced the palpable tension on the 19th floor of the tower housing Intelsat in Tysons, Virginia—where a packed room of spectators had congregated to watch on big screen televisions Wednesday’s groundbreaking rocket launch.

May 27, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Sentinel-1 satellite

The Copernicus Masters competition, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO), seeks participants to submit ideas, applications and business concepts using Earth observation data that could lead to significant changes to the status quo in many fields. The international competition, with a deadline of July 13, offers cash prizes and support valued at more than 300,000 euros.

May 6, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
An Intelsat EpicNG satellite. Rendering courtesy of Boeing

Years ago, commercial satellite providers successfully nudged their way into the military space domain, providing critical bandwidth services for platforms for which the Defense Department could not, particularly for airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (AISR) missions. More than a decade later, some companies are gambling with technological improvements in hopes of retaining that hold on the lucrative market.