space

August 17, 2021
By George I. Seffers
Panelists discuss cybersecurity and cooperation among nations during TechNet Augusta 2021. Photo by Michael Carpenter

It may take a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, but it can take a whole society to keep a country secure.

The term “whole-of-government” has been popular since at least the early 2000s to describe a multidepartment, multiagency effort to gain an advantage or keep the nation secure. The term has been used, for example, to describe counterterrorism efforts.

April 15, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: William Potter/Shutterstock

From the virtual realm to zero gravity, China is posing a serious threat to U.S. national security that goes far beyond the Earth. With a strategic thrust designed to buttress and expand the reach of the Chinese Communist Party, the country is engaged in a long march for control that currently includes operations inside the United States as well as in orbit and beyond.

April 14, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The differences in acquisition systems, the lack of effective communication and the uncertainties associated with the Congressional budgets all create real impediments to space innovation, says Gen. Bob Kehler, USAF (Ret.), of Kehler and Associates, speaking virtually during AFCEA International’s Partnering for Space Power in 2021 and Beyond event on April 13.

Before the explosion of the private sector’s low-earth orbit satellite constellations and commercial launch services, the divide between space-based capabilities used for national security purposes and solutions from the commercial sector was considerable. Technological investments by industry have created innovative and cost-effective solutions for the space domain, which can no longer be ignored by the Department of Defense, asserts Gen. Bob Kehler, USAF (Ret.), of Kehler and Associates.

April 1, 2021
By Shaun Waterman
NASA astronauts Shannon Walker (l), Victor Glover (second from l), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi (second from r), and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins (r), walk toward their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The November launch was the first time NASA personnel had traveled into orbit aboard a commercial space vehicle.  NASA/Joel Kowsky via Flickr

Ever since the Sputnik scare of 1957, space has been front and center on the U.S. national security agenda. Successive administrations have highlighted the essential role of space-based capabilities such as GPS, satellite imagery and real-time global communications in undergirding U.S. military power.

January 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Army soldiers in a Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) at Osan Air Base, Korea, stand ready to provide early warning of missile launches. JTAGS units run by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) defend U.S. forces worldwide.  U.S. Army photo

The benefits of space are being delivered to the ground-based warfighter in greater degrees as the Army taps the ultimate high ground for cutting-edge capabilities. Operational assets once available primarily to commanders now are reaching down to the individual in the foxhole. Coupled with new technologies, these activities empower warfighters while giving commanders more information and options for decisions.

September 17, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Photomarine

China is steadily pursuing its global goals based on a series of core issues that are not likely to be affected by international actions, said a panel of experts. The United States must take bipartisan actions to boost its own standing relative to China, even if the upcoming election results in a change of parties in the White House come January 2021.

These were among many points introduced by experts in a breakout session during the second day of the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit being held online September 16-18. They assessed China’s activities in and against the United States and recommended some actions to be taken by U.S. leaders.

September 1, 2020
By Carine Claeys
An artist’s concept shows the full operational capability Galileo satellite on station above the Earth. With the constellation forming the backbone of Europe’s positioning, navigation and timing assets in space, Europe has geared up to address the growing threat picture confronting its space systems.  ESA

The European Union has established the basis of an organizational structure to safeguard its important satellite assets, particularly those that provide vital positioning, navigation and timing data. As its Galileo constellation has grown in size and significance, the European Union is establishing the necessary organizational infrastructure to build and coordinate a collective effort to secure space against a broad range of threats.

August 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off, carrying the company’s StarLink low-earth-orbit networking satellites. Flooding near-earth space with hundreds of satellites is the future of orbital activities as satellite construction expenses and launch costs continue to come down.  SpaceX

The next era of satellite communications is upon us in the form of low-earth-orbit constellations aiming to revolutionize personal connectivity, according to satellite experts. These new satellite swarms are being driven by technology innovations simultaneously with the growth of less-expensive launch services. The result will be an explosion in the number and type of orbiters serving their earthbound hosts while raising the bar for support technologies on the ground.

August 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off from Vandenber Air Force Base on January 19, 2019. With its rapid fielding pace, the Space Development Agency plans to launch initial capacity of its new network in 2021. U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson

The threats to the U.S. military and the nation are such that additional space-based capabilities must be rapidly fielded. A proliferated low-earth-orbit constellation of satellites and sensors will connect to the military’s tactical legacy datalinks and weapons systems to deter against advanced threats. In particular, beyond-line-of-sight targeting capabilities and enabling the detection, tracking and fire control of advanced missile threats will be a part of the system that the Space Development Agency deploys as part of its National Defense Space Architecture, or the NDSA, says the agency’s director, Derek Tournear.

July 30, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A DARPA cubesat placed into orbit from the International Space Station contains an experiment in which microelectronic mechanical systems (MEMS) change the mirror shape of an optical system to generate high-quality imagery. Space is just one area in which the agency is boosting its research to meet new challenges. Credit: NASA photo

New research areas and greater emphasis on existing sciences define the way ahead for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Longstanding areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum sciences and directed energy systems now are sharing the spotlight with antiviral research, space systems and operational biotechnology as the agency aims deeper into the new decade.

July 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Lightweight Surface Manipulator System (LSMS), a surface version of TALISMAN, would help offload lunar landers and construct facilities on the Moon.  NASA

Robots have led the way for human space exploration, and NASA is counting on them to serve as partners in the next round of endeavors. The space agency is teaming with industry on new technologies that will develop innovative robotic systems and offer capabilities that are key to expanding the reach of humans beyond Earth.

November 21, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A panel of -6s from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command organizations discuss the importance of the space and cyber domains. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

Widespread changes among the military services are leading to a return to core missions complemented by a greater emphasis on new technology realms. As a result, back to basics is flavored by space and cyber domains that pose challenges of their own.

A panel of -6s from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) organizations outlined these challenges on the third day of TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019, held November 19-21 in Honolulu. Led by the INDOPACOM J-6, Maj. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, USAF, the panelists addressed a number of challenges facing their organizations and the U.S. military at large.

September 18, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Speaking yesterday at the Air Force Association’s ASC 2019 conference, Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, USAF, commander, U.S. Space Command, and commander Air Force Space Command, explains that the new combatant command will comprehensively train combat-ready space warfighters.

The U.S. military’s 11th combatant command, the U.S. Space Command, which the Defense Department stood up on August 29, is taking shape. Led by Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, USAF, who is also the commander of the Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, the Space Command has a singular focus of protecting and defending the space domain, Gen. Raymond explained.

The commander spoke with reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference on September 17 at National Harbor, Maryland.

 

The Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, California, has been awarded a $1,084,529,525 modification (P00017) to previously awarded contract FA8802-19-C-0001 for systems engineering and integration support for the National Space Community. This contract modification provides for the exercise of Option Year One for fiscal 2020 services being procured under the multiple year contract. Work will be performed at El Segundo, California, and is expected to be completed by September 30, 2020. Total cumulative face value of the contract is $2,158,348,065. Fiscal 2020 research and development funds are being used and no funds are being obligated at the time of the award.

September 5, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Exploring the need for intelligence in the newly emphasized space domain at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit on September 5 are (l-r) Chris DeMay, founder and CTO, Hawkeye 360; Stacey Dixon, deputy director, NGA; Tina Harrington, director, SIGINT, NRO; and Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, USAF, deputy commander, Air Force Space Command.

With space assuming greater importance as a military domain with its own designated command, the U.S. intelligence community must dedicate assets and procedures to providing vital information about space-based operations. For decades, the ultimate high ground was a valuable source of intelligence across the spectrum of national security. Now, its value as an intelligence target is growing as much as its importance as an operational domain.

July 28, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
HawkEye 360 and Lockheed Martin collaborate to bring space-based RF mapping and analytics technology to the commercial sector. Image courtesy HawkEye 360

A Virginia-based radio frequency and analytics startup wants to go where no commercial business has gone before.

HawkEye 360, a subsidiary of Allied Minds, is teaming with Lockheed Martin and Deep Space Industries to launch the small business' RF detection, mapping and predictive analytic technologies to detect radio frequency (RF) from space for global commercial and government use, giving customers a unique intelligence offering that cuts across air, land and sea networks.

March 26, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
An example of neutron imaging: On the left, lilies photographed through an open cask. On the right, a neutron imaging system used to photograph the lilies through the lead walls of the cask. This image demonstrates the power of neutrons to easily pass through otherwise impenetrable materials.

The notion of nefarious scientists re-engineering the genetics of living organisms to then weaponize their new specimens has some researchers jostling for the upper hand, including those at the U.S. Defense Department’s main research agency.

August 26, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The release of new high-quality positional information on space debris of unknown origin will help satellite owner-operators better protect their space assets. The U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) now can run a program that shows where space objects are and where they will be, as well as the potential for these objects colliding. This information has been added to Space-Track.org.

June 25, 2014
 

The U.S. Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center awarded a $1.86 billion contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., for production of the fifth and sixth Space Based Infrared System geosynchronous missile-warning satellites. SBIRS is the next-generation strategic missile-warning system replacing the 1970s Defense Support Program constellation.

June 6, 2014
 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a $452 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for re-entry system/re-entry vehicles (RS/RV) subsystem support. The acquisition provides sustaining engineering, maintenance engineering, aging surveillance, modification of systems and equipment, software maintenance, developmental engineering, production engineering, and procurement of the MMIII RS/RV subsystem and related support equipment. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Hill AFB, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8214-14-D-0002).
 

May 23, 2014
 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, California, has been awarded a $20 million modification (P00004) to FA8810-13-C-00001 for acceleration effort in support of the production of Space-Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) 5&6 satellites. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $346,849,435. The contract modification is for planning and production parts including hinges, valves, structures and special test equipment to support the SBIRS GEO 5/6 satellite production. The Space and Missile System Center (SMC), Los Angeles Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

May 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Scientists will use the new capability to study the formation of interstellar grains in the outflow of carbon stars.

NASA scientists at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, reproduced the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.


At Ames, scientists use a specialized facility called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) to recreate and study dust grains similar to those that form in the outer layers of dying stars. The research can help them understand the composition and evolution of the universe and creation of planets, to include Earth-like planets, according to a news statement.

December 31, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

NASA could send a team of astronauts into space to explore an asteroid located close to the Earth's orbit, according to Harvard University. The NASA Asteroid Robotic Retrieval Mission would involve capturing a near Earth object called NEO 2009BD, dragging it onto a new trajectory that traps it in the Earth-moon system and investigating it. A near Earth object is an asteroid whose orbit brings it close to the Earth's orbit.

This particular asteroid was discovered in January 2009. Its orbit pattern puts the object close to the Earth-moon system again in late 2022, when the proposed mission would take place.

December 30, 2013
 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., has been awarded an $116,069,077 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification (P00548) on contract (F04701-02-C-0002) for Space Vehicle (SV) 4 launch operations and support to integrate the space vehicle into the launch vehicle. The contractor will perform pre-launch planning and preparation activities for the launch and early orbit operations rehearsal campaign. The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity.

December 19, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

NASA has selected 10 education organizations to share approximately $7.7 million in grants with the hope of attracting more students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. The money will go toward interactive exhibits, virtual worlds, professional development activities and community-based programs.

November 14, 2013
 

Honeywell International Inc., Aerospace-Clearwater (Space), Clearwater, Fla., has been awarded a $7,279,938 modification (P00048) to an existing cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (FA9453-08-C-0263) for the Strategic Systems and Launch Technologies (SSLT) program. The contract modification is for an in-scope add work to Option III for additional work required to identify, test, and modify the design to develop a radiation hardened loop closure Application Specific Integration Circuit for the Strategic Fiber Optic Gyro. Detachment 8, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Contracting Division, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is the contracting activity.

September 18, 2013
 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking ideas and technical proposals for how to best develop a fully reusable unmanned aircraft that would provide access to space faster, easier and at a lower cost than current satellite launch vehicles. According to Jess Sponable, manager of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, the agency aims to build on proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system that can be used to launch payloads into space, return to Earth and repeat the process the next day. Technical goals include the ability to fly 10 times in 10 days achieving speeds of more than Mach 10.

July 22, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $9,552,979 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide security hardware, associated software, equipment installation, system test, accreditation, certification and delivery of nuclear weapon security system equipment at U.S. Navy Installations. This contract contains options, which if exercised, will bring the contract value to $10,917,152. The Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00030-13-C-0043).  
 

July 11, 2013
 

Seven projects from six universities will be put to the test in NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation’s 2014 Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge, a program designed to heighten students’ interest in spaceflight-related disciplines and complement NASA’s current research and development on deep-space habitats.

June 14, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
The Boeing Co., Seal Beach, Calif., has been awarded a $10,892,553 cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for contractor logistic support, analysis, and Type III anomaly support for the Space Based Space Surveillance Block 10 System. This modification provides for the exercise of an option for these services, which are provided under the basic contract. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center/Space Superiority Directorate, Los Angeles, Calif., is the contracting activity.

April 26, 2013
George I. Seffers

NASA has exercised a contract option with Lockheed Martin Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., to provide continued mission control systems services, development, maintenance and operations support as part of the Facilities Development and Operations Contract. The extension has a total estimated value of $166.8 million and extends the period of performance through Sept. 30, 2014. The total contract value has been increased to $1 billion. Lockheed Martin will provide support for the hardware, software, data and displays systems used to train for and execute all human spaceflight missions supported by the Mission Operations Directorate at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

April 24, 2013
 

The U.S. Defense Department has signed a space situational awareness (SSA) memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Australia’s Department of Defence. The MOU permits the the two countries to exchange SSA data, which facilitates transparency and improve flight safety.

Advanced data exchanges support launches, maneuver planning, on-orbit anomaly resolution, electromagnetic interference reporting and investigation. In addition, sharing this information assists in identifying launch anomalies and decommissioning activities as well as supports on-orbit conjunction assessments.

March 15, 2013
George I. Seffers

NASA has selected three companies to provide engineering solutions and products to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The companies are Radiance Technologies Inc. and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., Huntsville, Ala., and Wyle Laboratories Inc., Houston, Texas. The performance-based, cost-reimbursement fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts have a potential value of $350 million. The contracts have a five-year performance period with a minimum order quantity value of $1 million.

March 8, 2013
 

To facilitate multinational operations, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has set a future communications project in motion to study the terrestrial and satellite communication network systems in European Union (EU) countries. In this initial step of what will be a four-phase project, the primary EU member states’ existing and future assets will be inventoried. During the first phase of the project, operational scenarios and capability requirements will be identified. The second and third phases will involve identifying the required technical specifications to support these scenarios and the potential capability gaps. During the final phase, radio frequency spectrum will be analyzed to determine which bands are available.

November 9, 2012
George I. Seffers

 
Pacific Defense Solutions LLC, Kihei, Hawaii is being awarded a $9,724,737 cost plus fixed fee contract for space situational awareness research and development. The contracting activity is Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. 

December 7, 2011
 

Students age 14 to 18 can compete to have astronauts in space carry out their experiments if they win the Space Lab challenge. Budding scientists must upload a video outlining their idea, but they don't have to carry out the experiments themselves. A public vote and international panel of experts will judge the finalists from each age group (14 to 16, and 17 to 18) and each region-the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. The two global winning experiments will be performed on the International Space Station and beamed live via YouTube. The winners also receive additional prizes.

November 1, 2011
 

A new strategy for certifying commercial launch vehicles aims to expand the number of companies qualified for space launch missions. The entrant launch vehicle certification strategy is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. The three agencies outlined the joint strategy for certifying new entrants to encourage competition and provide a level playing field for all competitors.

September 2, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

No matter how vast it seems, even space gets a little crowded. Hundreds of active satellites and thousands of pieces of space junk clutter the area surrounding Earth-from lost astronaut tools to pieces of rockets. With the potential to travel at 17,500 miles per hour, even the smallest objects pose a big risk to spacecraft. To help track and identify the debris, the U.S. Air Force is replacing its aging and outdated Air Force Space Surveillance System, which has been in service for 50 years.

March 1, 2011
By George Seffers

The Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory, State College, has been awarded a $150 million contract modification to increase the contract ceiling, providing up to 1,560,000 additional staff hours to provide research, development, engineering, test and evaluation. The core areas include guidance, navigation and control of undersea systems, advanced thermal propulsion, materials and manufacturing technology, atmosphere and defense communications and other related technologies. Research and development areas include, but are not limited to, missiles, radar, sonar, space, undersea warfare, anti-air warfare, command, control and communications, and other related technologies.

January 7, 2011
By George Seffers

NASA has awarded a sole-source contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Systems Engineering for In-Space Servicing. This 18-month contract has a value of $31 million. Lockheed Martin will provide systems and discipline engineering support to develop and execute two demonstrations to test and verify new robotic servicing capabilities using the Dextre robot aboard the International Space Station. The Canadian Space Agency's Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or Dextre, is a two-armed robotic system designed to perform intricate maintenance and servicing tasks, which previously would have required spacewalks.

November 23, 2010
By Rachel Eisenhower

The Sky Map application from Google turns Android phones into a stargazing tool with the click of a button. And a new "time travel" feature lets you see images of the sky from the past and the future. Users can identify constellations, planets, grids and deep sky objects just by holding their device towards the sky. The free app determines the locations of the planets and stars, zooms in and out, and directs users towards specific objects using a search function. The app utilizes sensors built into the device to portray a map or chart of any place the user is located without accessing the phone's camera.

September 15, 2010
By Henry Kenyon

Throughout time, humans have explored their surroundings, crossing oceans and landmasses in pursuit of knowledge and glory. This thirst for knowledge also turned eyes skyward, causing the curious to try to understand the vastness of existence around the planet Earth. As technology advanced, the desire to venture into the cosmos became increasingly possible, until man walked on the moon and equipment traveled much farther away. Fortunately for those who are still on terra firma, gathering information about the universe is much easier than launching on a rocket ship. People can learn and discover more about deep space through adventures in cyberspace without the need for oxygen tanks or special suits.

August 20, 2010
By George Seffers

NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, has awarded a one-year contract option to ASRC Aerospace Corporation of Greenbelt, Maryland, for technical, engineering and scientific services in the areas of aeronautics, microgravity science, space exploration and related science and technology activities in support of Glenn's Lewis Field and Plum Brook Station, Sandusky, Ohio. The option has a value that will not exceed $50 million and increases the value of the contract to $260 million.

July 23, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The United States military has for decades invested in sophisticated and expensive technologies that take years, sometimes even decades, to develop. While those systems provide an advantage on the battlefield, the nation can no longer afford to continue the same strategy, according to Dr. Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Department’s premier agency for developing advanced technologies.

July 11, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Air Force’s newest secure satellite communications terminal draws from existing U.S. Army and Navy systems already in operation. The new production for the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals, or FAB-T, evolved from technologies established in the Army’s Secure Mobile Antijam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) and the Navy’s Multiband Terminal (NMT).

June 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
Seaman Alex Snyder, USN, right, explains the functions of the helm on the navigation bridge of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to Maj. Gen. Chen Weizhan, deputy commander of the People’s Liberation Army, Hong Kong Garrison, center, and Col. Li Jiandang, Hong Kong Garrison liaison officer during a distinguished visitor embark.

China and Russia represent two of the most robust, comprehensive concerns to worldwide stability. Almost every major geostrategic threat—cyber attack, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, capable military forces, political influence, economic power, sources of and high demand for energy—is resident in those two countries that often find themselves at odds with the United States and its allies. Decisions by their leaders on how to engage with the rest of the world, and how the two sovereign states decide to relate to each other, will have major effects on geopolitics.