SCOUT Awarded AFWERX SBIR to Revolutionize Space Domain Awareness

Artistic rendering of OVER-Sat observing congestion in orbit. (Credit: SCOUT Inc.)

ALEXANDRIA, Va., November 16, 2021 (SCOUT Inc. PR) — The US Government’s formation of the US Space Force definitively established its commitment to space domain awareness (SDA), but only recently has it cast its focus to commercial innovative SDA. SCOUT Inc. is proud to announce that the Air Force Research Lab, via AFWERX, made a tangible commitment to revolutionary SDA capabilities with a Phase I SBIR contract awarded this month. SCOUT will work under contract to improve detection, tracking, and identification of resident space objects by fusing ground- and space-based sensor data.

SCOUT is supported in this effort by Kayhan Space, another startup focused on space situational awareness and collision avoidance technologies. Eric Ingram, the CEO, and co-founder of SCOUT, spoke of the partnership between SCOUT and Kayhan: “Kayhan Space is a provider of actionable orbital traffic management solutions, and will help us deliver better SDA data even faster.” 

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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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Blackjack Program Successfully Deploys Two Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Achievement is key step toward realization of global high-speed space network

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA successfully deployed two satellites on June 30 as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. Both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning well and progressing through checkout and commissioning. Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack  program, the Mandrake 2 mission will prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.

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Space Development Agency Successfully Launches First Missions

WASHINGTON (SDA PR) — The Space Development Agency today announced the successful launch of its first two satellite missions, Mandrake II and Laser Interconnect Networking Communications System (LINCS) and the Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET) payload, on June 30 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.

The launch, supported by SpaceX’s Transporter 2, an all-rideshare Falcon 9 mission, carried aboard SDA’s first two sets of experimental satellites, designed and built with government and industry partners, to gather data on optical communication terminal (OCT) performance in low-Earth orbit (LEO), along with the POET payload to demonstrate on-orbit data fusion, proving out core capabilities required for SDA’s future development efforts.

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General Atomics Partners with Space Development Agency to Conduct Space-to-Air Optical Communication Experiment

Laser Interconnect and Networking Communication System (LINCS) CubeSats. (Credit: General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems)

SAN DIEGO, 02 JUNE 2021 (GA-EMS PR) – General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it was awarded a contract by the Space Development Agency to demonstrate space-to-air optical communication using GA-EMS’ Laser Interconnect and Networking Communication System (LINCS) and a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper®. This contract is in conjunction with an upcoming experiment where GA-EMS and SDA are partnering to launch the LINCS system and conduct a series of experiments demonstrating space-based optical communication starting later this summer.

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Mynaric Opens DC Office to Focus on Laser Communications, Appoints Global Senior Sales Team

MUNICH & LOS ANGELES, February 2, 2021 (Mynaric PR) – Mynaric can announce today that it is expanding its U.S footprint by opening an office in Washington D.C. to place its team closer to U.S. government organizations driving the adoption of laser communication.

The U.S. government is the driving force for the rapid deployment of laser communication capabilities, currently, and as such also a catalyst for the adoption by commercial stakeholders. The Space Development Agency alone is expected to procure up to 150 satellites equipped with laser communication capabilities in 2021 as part of its Tranche 1 Transport layer and Mynaric is seeing increased interest from the sector following its selection for two U.S. governmental programs last year.

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SpaceX Wins $150 Million Launch Contract from SDA

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean observation satellite lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST) Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (Credits: NASA TV)

SpaceX has won an $150.45 million contract from the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (SDA) to launch up to 28 satellites.

SpaceX will conduct the first of two launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in September 2022. SDA wants the entire 28-satellite constellation in orbit by March 31, 2023.

SDA’s constellation will be composed of small and medium size spacecraft, with 20 data-relay and eight missile-warning satellites.

The satellites will be divided into two planes of 14 spacecraft each deployed in 950 km high near-polar orbits.

Global Leader in SSA/STM Officially Launches as Independent Company

EXTON, Pa. (COMSPOC PR) — COMSPOC Corp. — a global leader in space situational awareness (SSA), space domain awareness (SDA), and space traffic coordination and management (STCM) — commences as an independent company and no longer a subsidiary of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI). 

COMSPOC retains all SSA/STCM intellectual property, contracts, the products and services associated with SSA, SDA, and STM as well as its research arm, the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI), and the free space data service, CelesTrak. COMSPOC will also continue to provide staffing and resources for several global organizations including the Space Data Association and the Space Safety Coalition.

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DOD Official Outlines Space Strategy

WASHINGTON (DOD PR) — In June, the Defense Department released its Space Strategy document. That document lays out the department’s four-pillar strategy for work that needs to be done in space within the next decade and beyond.

Justin T. Johnson, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, discussed that strategy at a virtual Heritage Foundation event today.

The first line of effort, he said, is for the U.S. Space Force to build a comprehensive military advantage in space.

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Lockheed Martin To Build 10 Small Satellite Mesh Network In Two Years

Tranche 0 architecture. Numerical values are notional. (Credit: SDA)

LITTLETON, Colo., Sept. 1, 2020 (Lockheed Martin PR) – The Space Development Agency (SDA) awarded a Tranche 0 contract of the Space Transport Layer to Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to demonstrate a mesh network of 10 small satellites that links terrestrial warfighting domains to space sensors – all launching in just two years.

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Space Development Agency Awards Satellite Contracts to Lockheed Martin, York Space System

Tranche 0 architecture. Numerical values are notional. (Credit: SDA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (SDA) has awarded Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems contracts worth a combined $281.5 million to build 20 communications satellites that will beam data to military forces around the world.

Lockheed Martin’s contract is worth $187.5 million. York Space Systems received a contract worth $94 million. Each company will provide 20 satellites.

The contract awards are part of the Transport Tranche 0, which aims to create “an interoperable mesh network of tens of satellites to provide periodic low-latency and high-capacity data connectivity,” according to program documents.

The spacecraft will have optical cross links and networking that will allow them to communicate with each other. They will also have Link 16 military tactical data link network and Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) payloads.

“The Transport Layer will serve as the backbone of the architecture by providing assured, resilient, low-latency military data and connectivity worldwide to a full range of warfighter applications,” SDA said.

All 20 satellites are to be launched by September 2022.

Mike Griffin Sets Up Consulting Firm, Joins Rocket Lab Board

Mike Griffin

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Fresh off a short-lived and rocky tenure overseeing the establishment of the Pentagon’s new Space Development Agency (SDA), former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has set up a consulting firm and joined Rocket Lab’s Board of Directors.

“We are honored to welcome Mike to Rocket Lab’s board of directors,” said Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive Peter Beck in a press release. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from the civil, defense, and commercial space sectors that will be invaluable to our team as Rocket Lab continues to grow and meet the ever-evolving launch and space systems needs of the national security community and commercial sectors alike.”

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Griffin, Porter to Depart Defense Department

Mike Griffin

Defense Department Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin and his deputy, Lisa Porter, have resigned from their posts effective June 10 to jointly pursue an unidentified opportunity in the private sector, Breaking Defense reports.

Griffin, who previously served as NASA administrator, was brought on board in February 2019 to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming research, development and procurement systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA) and other measures.

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Derek Tournear Named Director of DOD’s Space Development Agency

Derek Tournear

WASHINGTON (DoD PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced the selection of Dr. Derek Tournear as the first permanent director of the Space Development Agency. 

Established in March, the Space Development Agency is responsible for unifying and integrating the Department’s space development efforts, monitoring the Department’s threat-driven future space architecture, and accelerating fielding of new military space capabilities necessary to ensure U.S. technological and military advantages in space. To achieve this mission, SDA is defining the National Defense Space Architecture—an integrated, coherent architecture capable of addressing the eight critical, yet unmet, priorities of the DoD Space Vision.

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Mike Griffin Alienating Friends & Enemies Alike, Firing Scientists at New Pentagon Job

Mike Griffin

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has had a tumultuous time since taking over as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering in February.

In his role as the Defense Department’s chief technology officer, Griffin has been criticized for his efforts to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming development and procurement of new systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA).

Key personnel have departed as critics have attacked Griffin for what they view as his erratic management and decision making. In addition to SDA, he is in charge of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

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