ESA Names First Director of Commercialization, Fills Earth Observation & Navigation Posts

Europe and the Mediterranean Basin as seen from the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) flown on board ERS-2 , the second European Remote-sensing Satellite of ESA. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — As of today, ESA has appointed three new Directors – for Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement, Earth Observation Programmes and Navigation. The new Directors were appointed by ESA Council at its meeting on 21 October; they will support the Director General with responsibility for activities and overall objectives in their respective directorates.

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Vladimir Putin to Roscosmos: Do More with Less

Russian President Vladimir Putin tours Vostochny Cosmodrome in September 2019. (Crredit: Roscosmos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Russian President Vladimir Putin has Roscosmos taken to task for failing to compete a series of goals even as his government prepares to cut the budget of the Roscosmos state corporation that runs the nation’s space program by more than $500 million.

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Xona Space Systems Fully Funded for First LEO Satellite Navigation Mission

SAN MATEO, Calif., September 22nd, 2021 (Xona Space Systems PR) — Xona Space Systems, the leading innovator in precision LEO satellite navigation services, announced today that it has raised a new funding round co-led by Seraphim Space Investment Trust (LSE:SSIT) and MaC Venture Capital, with participation from Toyota Ventures, Daniel Ammann (co-founder of u-blox), and Ryan Johnson (former CEO of BlackBridge, operator of the Rapideye constellation). Follow-on investors also include 1517 Fund and Stellar Solutions.

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS and Galileo have become the backbone of nearly every aspect of the modern connected world. However, threats to these legacy systems along with consumer demands for enhanced performance are increasing rapidly. 

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ESA Signs Contract for New Generation of Galileo Navigation Satellites

ESA has signed two contracts for an overall amount of €1.47 billion [$1.79 billion], to design and build the first batch of the second generation of Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Acting on behalf of the European Commission, ESA has signed two contracts for an overall amount of €1.47 billion, to design and build the first batch of the second generation of Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites.

Following an intense process of open competition, these contracts have been awarded to Thales Alenia Space (Italy) and Airbus Defence & Space (Germany) to create two independent families of satellites amounting to 12 Galileo Second Generation satellites in total.

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Audit Concludes Use of European Union Space Services Needs an Extra Boost

Galileo constellation (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

LUXEMBOURG (European Court of Auditors PR) — The European Union has not done enough to harness the full potential of its space programmes, according to a special report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). While the satellite-based programmes Galileo and Copernicus in particular provide valuable services and data, more efforts are needed to capitalise on the significant investment made (around €18 billion so far) and to optimise the benefits they bring to citizens and the economy. The auditors call for a comprehensive strategy, more targeted actions and better use of the regulatory framework for efficiently supporting the uptake of services.

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European Commission Awards €1.47 Billion in Contracts for 2nd Generation of Galileo Satellites

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — Today the Commission awarded two contracts for 12 Satellites (6 satellites each) for a total of €1.47 billion, to Thales Alenia Space (Italy) and Airbus Defence & Space (Germany) following an open competition.

With this, the Commission is initiating the launch of the 2nd Generation of Galileo, the European satellite positioning system. The aim is to keep Galileo ahead of the technological curve compared to global competition and maintaining it as one of the best performing satellite positioning infrastructures in the world while strengthening it as a key asset for Europe’s strategic autonomy.

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Memo on Space Policy Directive 7: U.S. Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy

Global Positioning System (Credit: DOT&E)

January 15, 2021

MEMORANDUM

SUBJECT: Space Policy Directive 7, The United States Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy

This Space Policy Directive establishes implementation actions and guidance for United States space-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) programs and activities for United States national and homeland security, civil, commercial, and scientific purposes. This policy complements the guidance set forth in Executive Order 13905 of February 12, 2020 (Strengthening National Resilience through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services), and the intersector guidance for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) included in the December 9, 2020, National Space Policy. This policy supersedes National Security Presidential Directive-39 (NSPD-39) of December 15, 2004 (United States Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy).

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The Good, the Bad and the Brexit: UK’s Participation in European Space Programs Curtailed by EU Departure

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:

  • Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
  • Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
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Russia Launches Advanced Glonass K Satellite

A Soyuz-2 rocket launches a Glonass K navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Oct. 25, 2020. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — On Sunday, October 25, 2020, at 22:08 Moscow time from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region, the combat crew of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces launched the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket developed by the Progress RCC (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) with a new generation spacecraft of the GLONASS system. The launch of the carrier rocket and the insertion of the spacecraft into the calculated orbit took place in the normal mode.

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UK Dumps Idea of Creating Independent Satellite Navigation System

LONDON (UK Government PR) — New options for a UK satellite navigation and timing capability programme to support the nation’s critical infrastructure will be explored by the government, it was announced today (Thursday 24 September).

The Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Programme (SBPP) will explore new and alternative ways that could be used to deliver vital satellite navigation services to the United Kingdom which are critical for the functioning of transport systems, energy networks, mobile communications and national security and defence, whilst boosting the British space industry and developing the UK’s own capabilities in these services.

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GMV Merges its UK Company with NSL

DIDCOT, UK (GMV Innovating Solutions PR) — GMV Innovating Solutions Limited, the UK aerospace company belonging to GMV, has signed a merger agreement with Nottingham Scientific Limited (NSL). GMV trades in the aerospace, defense, ICT and intelligent-transportation-systems markets while NSL is UK leader in satellite navigation and critical applications. After the agreement GMV becomes sole shareholder of NSL and sets up the company GMV NSL, to be integrated seamlessly into GMV’s set of companies.

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EU Space Budget Request Slashed

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The European Commission (EC) has slashed its space budget for 2021-27 from a proposed €16 billion ($18.8 billion) to €13.2 billion ($15.1 billion) due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the exit of Britain from the European Union (EU).

Under terms worked out last week by EU leaders, the space budget will devote €8 billion ($9.4 billion) on the Galileo satellite navigation system and €4.8 billion ($5.65 billion) to the Copernicus constellation of environmental satellites.

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China Completes Beidou Satellite Navigation System

Note: As of June 28, 2019. Adapted from Kazuhiro Kida and Shinichi Hashimoto, “China’s Version of GPS Now Has More Satellites than US Original,” Nikkei Asian Review, August 19, 2019.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China completed its Beidou satellite navigation system with a launch last week, fully standing up a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo constellation, and Russia’s GLONASS system and strengthening the nation as a space power.

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Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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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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