Powering the Future of Space Exploration: DIU Launching Next-Generation Nuclear Propulsion and Power

Nuclear thermal propulsion system. (Credit; USNC-Tech)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 17, 2022 (DIU) — The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is advancing two different approaches to accelerate ground and flight testing for nuclear-powered prototypes: compact fusion and next-gen radioisotope concepts.  The ultimate objective is to launch a successful orbital prototype demonstration in 2027 of each approach.

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Tic Tac Oh! Are Strange Objects Sighted in U.S. Skies Extraterrestrial?

They’re unidentified objects that fly…just don’t call them UFO’s!
They’re not saying it’s aliens…but they’re not saying it’s not
Congress holding first hearing in more than 50 years on Tuesday

Part II of II

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During my recent visit to Roswell, NM, I toured a museum that posited the U.S. government covered up the crash of a spaceship with four aliens on a ranch outside the city 75 years ago. Although I came away far from convinced this actually happened, there was one thing I saw there that was seemed quite credible. (Part I: The Truth is Out There, Just Maybe Not in Roswell)

I wandered into the museum’s small theater, which was showing an Australian news report on what the Pentagon has labeled unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) — what back in the day were known as unidentified flying objects (UFOs). (Apparently the DoD decided a rebrand was needed to make them sound less crackpotty.)

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House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee to Hold Open Hearing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. EDT, the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman André Carson (D-Ind.), will hold an open hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena. Following the open portion of the hearing, the subcommittee will hold a closed, classified briefing.

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Hughes Announces Distribution Agreement with OneWeb Technologies

Turnkey managed LEO services available now to DoD for single- and multi-transport SATCOM implementations worldwide

Pictured, left to right: Rick Lober, Vice President & General Manager, Defense & Intelligence Systems, Hughes; Tim Kopra, President, OneWeb Technologies; Ian Canning, Chief Operating Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Steve Perreault, Chief Financial Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Jeff Lessner, Vice President, Hughes; Leslie Blaker-Glass, Vice President, Hughes
Pictured, left to right: Rick Lober, Vice President & General Manager, Defense & Intelligence Systems, Hughes; Tim Kopra, President, OneWeb Technologies; Ian Canning, Chief Operating Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Steve Perreault, Chief Financial Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Jeff Lessner, Vice President, Hughes; Leslie Blaker-Glass, Vice President, Hughes (Image Credit: Hughes Network Systems, LLC)

GERMANTOWN, Md. (Hughes Network Systems PR) — Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), an innovator in satellite and multi-transport technologies and networks for 50 years, today announced it signed a distribution agreement with OneWeb Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of OneWeb, to deliver managed Low Earth Orbit (LEO) services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The agreement follows the launch of the industry’s first managed LEO satellite communications (SATCOM) network for the DoD, an implementation led by Hughes in the Arctic region for the U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL).

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SwRI’s New Space System Integration Facility Supports Smallsat Development

SwRI’s new 74,000-square-foot Space System Integration Facility will allow rapid response to customers needing to design, assemble and test spacecraft, particularly small satellites for emerging “new space” applications, including support for the commercial and U.S. Department of Defense arenas. (Credit: Southwest Research Institute)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 4, 2022 (SwRI PR) — Southwest Research Institute has added a new, 74,000-square-foot Space System Integration Facility to its San Antonio headquarters. The SwRI facility can rapidly respond to customers needing to design, assemble and test spacecraft, particularly small satellites for emerging “new space” applications, including support for the commercial and U.S. Department of Defense arenas. The building is scheduled for completion in June 2022.

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Russia Holds OneWeb Satellites Hostage; No Launch Unless Company & British Government Meet Demands

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In what is likely the first hostage drama involving communication satellites, the head of the Russian space program has demanded that the British government divest its shares in OneWeb and that the broadband satellite operator not provide services to foreign militaries in order to launch a new batch of spacecraft. The move comes amid growing tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions imposed on the country by western nations.

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that unless these demands are met, Russia will refuse to launch 36 OneWeb satellites that sit atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket currently on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled for Saturday morning Moscow time.

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Northrop Grumman Selected by Space Development Agency to Develop Prototype Constellation Supporting Joint All-Domain Command and Control Network

Tranche 1 Transport Layer mesh satellite communications network. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The program leverages the company’s heritage MILSATCOM programs, commercial partnerships, and industry-leading laser communication technology to enable worldwide communications

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 28, 2022 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today received an award with a potential value of $692 million from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to produce and field an innovative, proliferated constellation of 42 low-Earth orbit (pLEO) satellites for the Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) mesh satellite communications network.

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DoD and Partners Release Combined Space Operations Vision 2031

WASHINGTON (DOD PR) — The United States joins Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in the joint release of the “Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Vision 2031” today. 

CSpO is an initiative to address the overarching need to encourage responsible use of space, recognizing challenges to space sustainability, threats presented by technological advances, and the increasingly comprehensive and aggressive counterspace programs of other nation states. The “CSpO Vision 2031” outlines the initiative’s overarching purpose and highlights its guiding principles, including: freedom of use of space, responsible and sustainable use of space, partnering while recognizing sovereignty, and upholding international law.

These guiding principles steer the initiative’s objectives and are supported by several lines of effort, from developing and operating resilient, interoperable architectures to fostering responsible military behaviors in space and sharing intelligence and information, all leading to the pursuit of a safe, secure, and sustainable space domain. 

CSpO Principals last met in December 2021, reaffirming their nations’ support to the Vision, including the intent to prevent conflicts extending to or originating in space and to hold accountable those who threaten the safety of the space environment and the space assets of others.  Representatives from the Department of Defense specifically addressed the importance of information sharing, leading to greater cooperation and interoperability, all key CSpO components.

The complete “CSpO Vision 2031” document is available here.

Orbital Insight Wins Department of Defense Contract to Develop Technology to Identify Intentional GNSS Disruptions

New platform will detect and characterize Global Navigation Satellite Systems spoofing operations using artificial intelligence and commercially available data

PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 10, 2022 (Orbital Insight PR) — Orbital Insight, the leader in geospatial intelligence, today announced that it has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to deliver a new technology platform for identifying intentional Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) interference and manipulation operations across the world. The platform will leverage commercially available data to detect GNSS spoofing, where falsified or manipulated GNSS signals are used to confuse adversaries or obscure illicit activities, presenting risk to both government and commercial operations. Orbital Insight was selected through DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) solicitation process seeking commercial solutions to counter the growing threat of GNSS disruptions to national security.

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FTC Sues to Block Lockheed Martin Corporation’s $4.4 Billion Vertical Acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc.

Agency Seeks to Prevent World’s Largest Defense Contractor from Eliminating Last Independent U.S. Missile Propulsion Provider and Further Consolidating Markets Critical to National Security and Defense

WASHINGTON (FTC PR) — Today, the Federal Trade Commission sued to block Lockheed Martin Corporation’s $4.4 billion proposed vertical acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc, the last independent U.S. supplier of missile propulsion systems. Aerojet supplies advanced power, propulsion, and armament systems, which are critical components for the missiles made by Lockheed and other defense prime contractors. The agency’s complaint alleges that if the deal is allowed to proceed, Lockheed will use its control of Aerojet to harm rival defense contractors and further consolidate multiple markets critical to national security and defense. This is the agency’s first litigated defense merger challenge in decades.

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Blue Origin Joins Pentagon’s Rocket Cargo Program

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Dec. 29, 2021 (USTRANSCOM PR) — U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) entered into its third cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), on December 17, 2021, with Blue Origin to explore the possibility of someday using rockets to transport cargo and people.

“Today, industry is energetically shaping space into a practical transportation mode–a trustworthy complement to our traditional global mobility options,” explained Vice Admiral Dee Mewbourne, Deputy Commander, USTRANSCOM. “Not every operation will call for logistics through space, but when we need to respond faster, or assure access in challenging environments, we recognize that space now offers a toolkit, not just a concept. At USTRANSCOM, we want our understanding of space transportation’s potential to keep pace with the technical and operational realities that are being built now.”

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Russian Defense Ministry Boasts of ASAT Accuracy, Dismisses Orbital Debris Risk & Blames United States for Militarizing Space

Location of the 24,000 debris larger than 10 cm in low orbit in 2020. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite condemnation from Western governments, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu seemed rather pleased with the results of an anti-missile test (ASAT) test that destroyed a defunct Soviet satellite, scattered more than 1,500 pieces of debris in Earth orbit, and endangered the seven-member crew of the International Space Station (ISS). TASS reports:

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Virgin Orbit to Launch Again by End of Year

LauncherOne (Credit: Mojave)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Coming off flawless back-to-back launches, the Virgin Orbit team has settled into a steady flight preparation rhythm with LauncherOne. [Earlier today], the fully assembled rocket that will carry our next customers’ satellites to space has left our rocket factory in Long Beach and headed up to the bare concrete pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port that serves as all the spaceport we need. Already, the rocket has been mated to the customized 747 that serves as our flying launch pad, mobile mission control, and fully re-usable first stage all at once.

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Capella Space To Become First Commercial SAR Company to Demonstrate Compatibility with the U.S. Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture

Capella satellites will use laser communications from Mynaric to  rapidly send and receive data

SAN FRANCISCO, November 9, 2021 (Capella Space PR) — Capella Space today announced the company will become the first commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) supplier to demonstrate Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL) compatibility with the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA)’s new NDSA. SAR data is a highly valuable asset for the SDA and the U.S. Department of Defense. The next generation of Capella’s persistent SAR monitoring capabilities will leverage new technology that enables high delivery speeds and direct access to its 24/7 all-weather data for U.S. Government customers.

Capella Space will install optical communications terminals (OCTs) on its commercial SAR satellites, starting in late 2022. This will enable the company to utilize highly efficient laser communications technology to send and receive data to and from its satellites in low Earth orbit, relaying data to compatibly equipped government satellites and military operations on the ground. The integration of OCTs onto Capella’s SAR constellation will drastically reduce latency from image collect to download and ensure spaceborne data is quickly available to inform critical decision-making for terrestrial missions.

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Intelsat and OneWeb Demo Global Multi-Orbit Satellite Service to U.S. Department of Defense

McLean, Va. (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, OneWeb (OWT), a global provider of innovative, secure satellite communications, and Linchpin Solutions, a leader in C5ISR systems and programs, successfully demonstrated a multi-orbit satellite communications solution for representatives of the U.S. Army and Department of Defense (DoD).

This is a strategic demonstration to the U.S. DoD that shows transport diversification between the geostationary orbit (GEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations with seamless switching between them.

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