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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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.

FCC Unanimously Approves Ligado’s Application to Facilitate 5G and Internet of Things Services

Conditions Will Protect Incumbents from Harmful Interference

WASHINGTON (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission announced that it has approved with conditions Ligado’s application to deploy a low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the L-Band that will primarily support 5G and Internet of Things services.

The order approving Ligado’s application was adopted without dissent and will promote more efficient and effective use of our nation’s spectrum resources and ensure that adjacent band operations, including the Global Positioning System (GPS), are protected from harmful interference.

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A Summary of U.S. Counterspace Capabilities

Global Counterspace Capabilities:
An Open Source Assessment

Secure World Foundation
April 2020

Full Report

The following excerpt from the report summarizes U.S. counterspace capabilities.

The United States has conducted multiple tests of technologies for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in both low Earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), along with tracking, targeting, and intercept technologies that could lead to a co-orbital anti-satellite (ASAT) capability.

These tests and demonstrations were conducted for other non-offensive missions, such as missile defense, on-orbit inspections, and satellite servicing, and the United States does not have an acknowledged program to develop co-orbital capabilities. However, the United States possesses the technological capability to develop a co-orbital capability in a short period of time if it chooses to.

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A Summary of China’s Counterspace Capabilities

China’s 2007 test of its ground-based ASAT missile destroyed one of its own defunct satellites in LEO. The graphic depicts the orbits of trackable debris generated by the test 1 month after the event. The white line represents the International Space Station’s orbit. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Global Counterspace Capabilities:
An Open Source Assessment

Secure World Foundation
April 2020

Full Report

The following excerpt from the report summarizes China’s counterspace capabilities.

The evidence strongly indicates that China has a sustained effort to develop a broad range of counterspace capabilities. China has conducted multiple tests of technologies for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in both low earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous orbit (GEO) that could lead to a co-orbital ASAT capability.

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A Summary of Russia’s Counterspace Capabilities

In 2009, the defunct Cosmos 2251 satellite and the Iridium 33 satellite collided in Earth’s orbit. A Livermore visualization shows the orbits of the two satellites prior to the collision among the thousands of other satellites in low-Earth orbit. The collision occurred where the two orbital paths cross near the North Pole. (Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Global Counterspace Capabilities:
An Open Source Assessment

Secure World Foundation
April 2020

Full Report

The following excerpt from the report summarizes Russia’s counterspace capabilities.

There is strong evidence that Russia has embarked on a set of programs over the last decade to regain many of its Cold War-era counterspace capabilities. Since 2010, Russia has been testing technologies for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in both low Earth orbit 9LEO) and geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) that could lead to or support a co-orbital anti-satellite (ASAT) capability. Evidence suggests at least two active programs: a new co-orbital ASAT program called Burevestnik that is potentially supported by a surveillance and tracking program called Nivelir.

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Space Force Delays Next GPS Satellite Launch by 2 Months Due to COVID-19

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) – The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has decided to reschedule the launch of GPS III SV03 (GPS III-3) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to minimize the potential of COVID-19 exposure to the launch crew and early-orbit operators.

The current GPS constellation is healthy, allowing for a strategic pause to ensure the health and safety of our force without operational impact.

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Xplore Receives USAF Award for Innovative Commercial Capabilities Around the Moon

Lunar orbiting satellite. (Credit: Xplore)

SEATTLE, April 6, 2020 (Xplore PR) – Xplore Inc., a commercial space company has announced they have won an Air Force award to study positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions for cislunar space. The award category, for commercial and technical innovations between the Earth and the Moon — is entirely new for the Air Force, which is investigating the capabilities necessary to extend operations beyond geosynchronous orbit to now include cislunar space.

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Final Steps Underway To Operationalize Ultra-Secure, Jam-Resistant GPS M-Code Signal

Global Positioning System (Credit: DOT&E)

U.S. Space Force, Lockheed Martin upgrade Operations Control Segment (OCS) and refresh GPS constellation with new satellites

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co., Mar. 27, 2020 (Lockheed Martin PR) – The final steps to fully-enable the ultra-secure, jam-resistant Military Code (M-Code) signal on the Global Positioning System (GPS) are now underway.

As part of the U.S. military’s effort to modernize GPS, the U.S. Space Force has been steadily upgrading its existing GPS Ground Operational Control System (OCS). The Space Force recently announced Operational Acceptance of the GPS Contingency Operations (COps) upgrade, developed by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT). COps enabled control of the operational GPS constellation, now containing 21 M-Code capable GPS satellites, including Lockheed Martin’s first two GPS III satellites, until the next generation OCX ground control system is delivered.

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Raytheon Wins $378 Million Contract to Replace GPS Computer Hardware

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) — On March 26, the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program instructed Raytheon to replace the computer hardware in OCX prior to system delivery due to sale of IBM’s computer product line to a Chinese company.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the IBM x86 product line sale to a foreign owned company, Lenovo on Aug. 2014. The agreement ensures IBM supported their hardware until August 2022. At the time of the sale, the Government identified this as a major impact to OCX by creating an unacceptable cyber risk. However, the Government waited on implementing a fix until Raytheon showed promising program performance in delivering OCX.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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COSMIC-2 Brings Data Boost to NOAA

https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/content/cosmic-2-brings-data-boost-noaa

Artist’s rendering of a COSMIC-2 satellite. (Credit: NOAA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A fleet of six small satellites, designed to improve weather prediction and space weather monitoring, are now officially providing data to NOAA that will soon be incorporated into their forecast models, agency officials said today.

The satellites, which were launched last June and completed a seven-month instrument and data evaluation process, make up the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2).

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Failure of Aging Satellites Could Leave U.S. Partially Blind to Space Weather

Diagram of DSCOVR spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Tne failures of three aging satellites the United States relies upon to forecast space weather could leave the nation partially blind to electromagnetic storms that could severely disrupt electrical grids, communications systems, aviation and Global Positioning System (GPS) dependent navigation.

“The observations that we rely on to provide alerts and warnings are critical. Should we lose some of the key spacecraft that we talk about, I won’t say we’re blind but we’re darn close. It will impact our ability to support this nation’s need for space weather services. And I don’t want to see that happen,” said William Murtagh, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

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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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Trump Issues Order for Protection of GPS-Reliant Infrastructure

NASA’s Orion spacecraft that flew Exploration Flight Test-1 on Dec. 5, 2014 is seen on the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, began manufacturing the Orion crew module in 2011 and delivered it in July 2012 to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where final assembly, integration and testing was completed. More than 1,000 companies across the country manufactured or contributed elements to the spacecraft. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Executive Order

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable and efficient functioning of critical infrastructure.  Since the United States made the Global Positioning System available worldwide, positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services provided by space-based systems have become a largely invisible utility for technology and infrastructure, including the electrical power grid, communications infrastructure and mobile devices, all modes of transportation, precision agriculture, weather forecasting, and emergency response.  Because of the widespread adoption of PNT services, the disruption or manipulation of these services has the potential to adversely affect the national and economic security of the United States.  To strengthen national resilience, the Federal Government must foster the responsible use of PNT services by critical infrastructure owners and operators.

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