Isotropic Systems Signs Contract with SES GS to Initiate Multi-Orbit Trials of Next-Gen Multi-beam Antenna Technologies for U.S. Military

READING/RESTON, 24 September 2020 (SES GS PR) – SES Government Solutions (SES GS), a fully-owned affiliate of SES, and Isotropic Systems, a leading developer of transformational broadband terminal technologies, today announced a two-phased antenna evaluation contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, working in close collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Engineering Team, for tests of Isotropic Systems’ multi-beam terminal over SES’s O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation to ultimately unleash next-gen connectivity across the battlefield.  

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Air Force Hyperspace Challenge Accelerator Now Accepting Applications for 2020 Cohort

2020 Cohort Theme Centers on Building Trusted Autonomous Technology for Space

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNM Ingenuity PR) — Hyperspace Challenge, a business accelerator run by the Air Force Research Laboratory and CNM Ingenuity for the U.S. Space Force, announced today it is now accepting applications for its 2020 cohort, which begins in October. The application period is open through Sept. 10.

This year’s theme, Trusted Autonomy, seeks technology that can provide the government and participating military agencies with secure, trustworthy autonomous and automated solutions for space. Prior accelerator themes have included Small Satellite Technologies (2019) and Geospatial Data Analytics (2018).

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NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission Nears Completion

Green Propellant Infusion Mission in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

by Lance Davis
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA just validated a new type of propellant, or fuel, for spacecraft of all sizes. Instead of toxic hydrazine, space missions can use a less toxic, “green” propellant and the compatible technologies designed to go along with it. In a little over a year since launch, NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) successfully proved a never-before-used propellant and propulsion system work as intended, demonstrating both are practical options for future missions.

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AFWERX Awards Accion Systems $2.25 Million Phase II SBIR Contract

Air Force Award Will Drive Advanced Development and Commercialization of Multi-Mode In-Space Propulsion System.

BOSTON, Mass., August 11, 2020 (Accion Systems PR — In-space propulsion pioneer Accion Systems announced today that it has been awarded a follow-on Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX, in partnership with Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). The award recognizes the successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contact earlier this year and exciting promise for Accion’s TILE ion electrospray propulsion for use in national security missions. 

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Sierra Nevada Unveils Two New Satellite Platforms

SNC Platforms Offer Increased Capacity and Range, Maximizing Versatility

SPARKS, Nev. (August 06, 2020)  Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security company owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, added two new satellite platforms to its spacecraft offerings, the SN-200M satellite bus designed for medium-Earth orbit (MEO) and the SN-1000, offering increased payload capacity for MEO and other orbits.

The SN-200M variant specifically adapts SNC’s standard SN-200 bus for the MEO radiation environment. The SN-1000 is a demonstration platform based on the SN-200M bus flying an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA).  Both satellites build on the flight heritage gained from the Air Force Demonstration and Science Experiment (DSX) program. Last June, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) launched DSX into MEO and it has been operating successfully on-orbit for the past year.

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BlackSky to Track COVID-19 Impact on Military Readiness

U.S. Air Force to utilize BlackSky’s artificial intelligence and machine learning analytics platform to maintain force readiness and secure the supply chain.

HERNDON, Va. – July 21, 2020 – BlackSky, a leading provider of global monitoring services powered by geospatial intelligence and advanced AI/ML analysis, has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract through AFWERX and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) to monitor the efficacy of COVID-19 mitigation efforts worldwide.

The contract calls for BlackSky to monitor overseas U.S. military bases and help maintain secure supply chains using its Spectra artificial intelligence and machine learning platform. Near-real time global monitoring capabilities will track the spread of COVID-19 to ensure the protection of deployed personnel, and secure critical nodes of the supply chain.

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Next X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle to Carry 2 NASA Experiments

X-37B after landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: USAF)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the U.S. Space Force, is scheduled to launch the sixth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6) on May 16 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

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Space Force Identifies USAF Missions for Transfer to Newest Service

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — In a significant step that enhances the U.S. Space Force’s capabilities and development, the Department of the Air Force has identified 23 U.S. Air Force organizations whose space-related missions will soon transfer to the Space Force.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, in conjunction with Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, directed the transfer which entails shifting space missions from Air Force organizations into the newest military branch.

Currently, Space Force is comprised primarily of units which previously fell under the former Air Force Space Command prior to the service’s establishment on Dec. 20, 2019.  

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AFRL, Masten & NASA Collaborate on Successful Testing of Methane Engine

The Masten 25k lbf thrust Broadsword rocket engine. (Credit: Masten Space Systems/Matthew Kuhns)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and Masten Space Systems Inc. successfully tested a liquid methane rocket engine, the first of its kind tested at AFRL.

AFRL and Masten signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement in December 2018. The agreement enabled Masten to test the Broadsword 25K engine at AFRL’s rocket testing facility at Edwards Air Force Base in Test Area 1-125 and complete NASA’s Tipping Point contract requirement of a ten second hot fire test.

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Blue Moon Program Fact Sheet

Blue Moon crewed landing vehicle. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s advanced development programs and Blue Moon lunar lander.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

Advanced Development Programs

Blue Origin is developing advanced technologies to enable space exploration and development, including a NASA Tipping Point contract to mature cryogenic liquid propulsion for integrated large-scale lunar lander applications and several years of progress on the Blue Moon Lunar Lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine.

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Blue Origin Fact Sheet on New Glenn, Engine Development

New Glenn is a reusable, vertical-landing booster with 3.85 million pounds of thrust, (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s New Glenn rocket and its BE-3, BE-4 and BE-7 engine development program.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

New Glenn

Named after John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, New Glenn is a single configuration, heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to low Earth orbit, geostationary transfer orbit, cislunar and beyond. Its first stage is fully reusable and built for 25 missions initially.

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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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L3Harris Technologies Passes Preliminary Design Review for Experimental Satellite Navigation Program

U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) satellite. (Photo: L3Harris Technologies)
  • Defines design baseline for U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3
  • Demonstrates ability to move quickly for rapid acquisition prototype programs
  • Allows L3Harris to continue development of newly named Air Force vanguard program

MELBOURNE, Fla. (L3Harris Technologies PR) — L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has reached a major milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) project – passing the preliminary design review that defines the spacecraft’s path to delivery and allows the program to move to the next phase of development.

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AFRL, Blue Origin Partner on Test Site for BE-7 Lunar Lander Engine Development

The Altitude facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California, does tactical scale research on next generation rocket motor and engine components, propellant formulations, and subsystems; and high vacuum research on satellite components, subsystems, and systems. Research testing includes solid rocket motor testing at simulated altitudes up to 120,000 feet. The complex has been used for space simulation to validate thrust vector control systems, baseline a standard for solid rocket motor propellants, research extendible nozzle cones, and systems, and research space qualified ignition systems. (Credit: Blue Origin)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory and Blue Origin are developing a new test facility for the Blue Origin BE-7 lunar lander engine at the AFRL rocket lab here.

Capital improvements, funded by Blue Origin, will allow BE-7 testing in a simulated space-like environment. Planned work includes adding liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellant capabilities, along with other facility upgrades.

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China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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