Trump Administration Formally Asks FCC to Reconsider Ligado Decision

The Trump Administration has formally requested that the Federal Communications Commission reconsider its approval to Ligado to construct a nationwide mobile broadband network that it says “will cause irreparable harms to federal government users of the Global Positioning System (GPS).”

The National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) filed the appeal to rescind the approval on behalf of the Trump Administration, particularly the departments of Defense (DOD) and Transportation (DOT).

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Northrop Grumman Wins $2.37 Billion Contract for Missile Warning Satellites

The U.S. Space Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a $2.375 million contract to develop two Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) missile warning satellites.

The award is a modification to a $47 million contract to analyze system and payload requirements for the two polar orbiting satellites.

“This modification adds Phase One for design/development, critical path flight hardware procurement, and risk reduction efforts leading to a critical design review to the basic contract,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

“Fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $70,500,000 are being obligated at the time of award,” Total cumulative face value of the contract is $2,419,295,532,” the statement added.

Northrop Grumman will perform the work in Redondo Beach, Calif. Work is expected to be completed by December 2025.

Defense Department Tries to Undo FCC Approval of Ligado Cell Network

The Department of Defense plans to appeal the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of a plan by Ligado to establish a cellular network that military officials believe will interfere with signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS).

SpaceNews reports:

“One avenue could be legislative action,” Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy told reporters May 6 following a lengthy Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where he testified along with other Pentagon officials.

Another channel to try to get the decision reversed would be to petition to the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said Deasy. The NTIA is an interagency organization that oversees the government’s spectrum policies.

The deadline for the Pentagon to file an appeal is May 29….

“We were surprised,” said Deasy. DoD for years was able to work through tough contentious issues with the FCC, he said, but on this one the process broke down.

In approving the application, FCC commissioners said restrictions placed on Ligado’s 5G cellular network would prevent interference with signals from the GPS satellite navigation system.

In the order approving Ligado’s application, the Commission included stringent conditions to ensure that incumbents would not experience harmful interference. For example, the Commission mandated that Ligado provide a significant (23 megahertz) guard-band using its own licensed spectrum to separate its terrestrial base station transmissions from neighboring operations in the Radionavigation-Satellite Service allocation. Moreover, Ligado is required to limit the power levels of its base stations to 9.8 dBW, a reduction of 99.3% from the power levels proposed in Ligado’s 2015 application.

The order also requires Ligado to protect adjacent band incumbents by reporting its base station locations and technical operating parameters to potentially affected government and industry stakeholders prior to commencing operations, continuously monitoring the transmit power of its base station sites, and complying with procedures and actions for responding to credible reports of interference, including rapid shutdown of operations where warranted.

Electron Roll-Out Complete at New Wallops Island Launch Complex

Electron booster on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Scheduled for Q3 2020, the mission will be Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil

LONG BEACH, Calif., April 29, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has rolled an Electron launch vehicle out to the Launch Complex 2 pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops, Virginia for the first time. The milestone is one of the final steps ahead of Rocket Lab’s first launch from Launch Complex 2 – a dedicated mission in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division. 

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Space Force Acquisition Council Looks to Safeguard Space Industrial Base from COVID-19 Impacts

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — In response to COVID-19, the Department of the Air Force is posturing to identify and provide support to the space industrial base, assessing sectors most impacted by the pandemic while creating an environment where companies in need can compete fairly in the event of supplemental federal relief funds.

“Our space industrial base is critical to our military and economy,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and U.S. Space Force Service Acquisition Executive. “The Space Force Acquisition Council held an emergency session to synchronize our response to fragile supply chains, at-risk workforces, and receding commercial markets and we’ll continue to work with the Department of Defense and Congress to get additional help.”

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Report: New Space Force Will Need Resources, Clear Definition of Warfighting Mission

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (RAND Corporation PR) — To meet the goals of the U.S. Space Force most space activities in the Department of Defense should be moved into the new service, according to a new report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. Moreover, it will be critical that the Space Force clearly define and clarify its space warfighting mission.

As the United States stands up the Space Force as a service within the Department of the Air Force, RAND was asked to assess which units to bring into the Space Force, analyze its career field sustainability and draw lessons from other defense organizations. The report focuses on effectiveness, efficiency, independence and sense of identity for the new service—the first created in the United States in 72 years.

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Report: Pentagon Needs to Do Better Job Protecting Space Assets

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As space has become a war-fighting domain, the Defense Department (DOD) faces challenges in assessing how its satellites can survive threats against them, erecting a Space Fence to better track satellites and debris in Earth orbit, and upgrading the Global Positioning System (GPS), according to a new report from the director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).

“The DOD intends to invest at least $100 billion in space systems over the next decade, and we are not alone,” the report stated. “We therefore must thoroughly understand how our systems will perform in space, particularly when facing manmade threats,” Robert F. Behler wrote in the 2019 annual report.

“Yet, the DOD currently has no real means to assess adequately the operational effectiveness, suitability, and survivability of space-based systems in a representative environment,” he added. (Download full report)

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U.S. Government Further Invests in Blue Canyon Technologies’ Next-Gen Reaction Wheels

BOULDER, Colo. (BCT PR) — Small satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been awarded an agreement with the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) serving as Department of Defense (DoD) Executive Agent for the Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III program.

The purpose of this Title III project is to establish and scale up domestic production capability for the manufacture of space-qualified Next Generation Reaction Wheels (NGRWs) and small Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs). BCT’s diverse and growing reaction wheel platform has the proven capability to enable a broad range of missions and technological advances, further reducing the barriers of space entry.

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Officials Provide Details on Building, Structuring and Operating Space Force

ARLINGTON, Va. (Space Force PR) — Senior officials from the Department of Defense and U.S. Space Force provided the most specific details to date Feb. 5 for how the newly born Space Force is constructed, its structure and the philosophy guiding decisions for bringing the first new military service since 1947 into full reality.

In broad terms, the Space Force must ensure the U.S. continues its superiority in space. Getting there, however, demands that the Space Force be “lean and agile” and mission-focused, said Lt. Gen. David Thompson, U.S. Space Force vice commander.

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Space Development Agency Releases Solicitations for New Technology

The Defense Department’s new Space Development Agency (SDA) has recently issued several solicitations as it looks to create a large satellite constellation and other systems.

On Jan. 21, SDA issued a broad agency announcement seeking “executive summaries, proposal abstracts and proposals for novel architecture concepts, systems, technologies, and capabilities that enable leap-ahead improvements” in military space systems covering the areas of transportation, tracking, battle management, navigation, deterrence and support.

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House Science Committee Approves Space Weather Bill

Space weather effects. (Credit: ESA/Science Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The House Science Committee has unanimously approved a bill designed to enable the federal government to coordinate its monitoring of and response to space weather events.

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Report: China Could Follow South China Sea Strategy in Seeking Space Resources

Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization (Credits: Joel Sercel)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.

“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.

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U.S. Space Force Officially Established as Sixth Branch of Armed Services

ARLINGTON, Va., December 20, 2019 (AFNS) — Today the President signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and with it, directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.

“We are at the dawn of a new era for our Nation’s Armed Forces. The establishment of the U.S. Space Force is an historic event and a strategic imperative for our Nation. Space has become so important to our way of life, our economy, and our national security that we must be prepared as a Nation to protect it from hostile actions,” said Secretary of Defense, Mark T. Esper. “Our Military Services have created the world’s best space capabilities. Now is the time for the U.S. Space Force to lead our Nation in preparing for emerging threats in an evolving space environment. This new service will help ensure we are postured to deter aggression, defend our national interests and outpace potential adversaries.”

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International Space Station Adds a Powerful New Camera

Orange County, Calif. (Credit: The Aerospace Corporation)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — Aerospace’s new infrared camera is now obtaining unique high-contrast, nighttime images from its home on the International Space Station (ISS). The 45-kilogram instrument, known as the Near Infrared Airglow Camera (NIRAC), will provide detailed observations of clouds at night for weather prediction, among other applications.  

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