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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Astrium Services Government Incorporated, Rockville, Maryland (FA8814-14-D-0001);
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.