L3Harris Awarded $117 Million Space Object-Tracking Modernization Contract

  • Supports US Space Force efforts to protect satellites
  • Maintains and upgrades space domain awareness and command and control systems
  • Third-year option continues work first awarded in 2020

MELBOURNE, Fla., April 06, 2022 (L3Harris Technologies PR) — L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has been awarded $117 million for option-year three of a U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command contract to continue maintaining and modernizing infrastructure to track objects in space. The Maintenance Of Space Situational Awareness Integrated Capabilities (MOSSAIC) program has an estimated contract value of $1.2 billion over 10 years.

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Space Situational Assessment 2021: The Growing Menace of Space Debris

Credit: ISRO

BENGALULU, India (ISRO PR) — Growing collision threats of space objects including orbital debris with the operational space assets have become a perennial problem for the safe and sustainable use of outer space.  These threats restrict the unhindered access to space and prompt all space actors to take appropriate measures to mitigate them.

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DOD Leaders Say Russia, China Provide Challenges to National Security

A Falcon 9 rocket launches on Jan. 6, 2020, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket, carrying an installment of Starlink satellites, was the first official launch of the United States Space Force. (Credit: Air Force Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker)

By David Vergun
DOD News

Every operational plan in the Defense Department rests on an assumption that strategic deterrence is holding, and in particular, that nuclear deterrence is holding, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said. 

“If strategic or nuclear deterrence fails, no other plan and no other capability in the Department of Defense is going to work as designed,” Navy Adm. Charles A. Richard, who testified today at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in review of the fiscal year 2023 Defense Authorization Request and Future Years Defense Program, said. 

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U.S. Denies Allegations That Starlink Satellites Had Close Encounters with Chinese Space Station

Shenzhou 13 launches to Tiangong space station.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The U.S. had denied claims that a pair of SpaceX Starlink satellites came close to hitting the Chinese space station last year.

“Because the activities did not meet the threshold of established emergency collision criteria, emergency notifications were not warranted in either case,” the U.S. said is a note verbale sent to the United Nations. “If there had been a significant probability of collision involving the China Space Station, the United States would have provided a close approach notification directly to the designated Chinese point of contact.

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Northrop Grumman-Built Space Sensor Satellites Launch in Support of US Space Force-8 Mission

Northrop Grumman-built GSSAP satellites collect space situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va., Jan. 21, 2022 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Two Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites were successfully launched into orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket today from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of the U.S. Space Force (USSF)-8 mission. The two satellites, GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6, will enhance space situational awareness, a top priority for the U.S. Space Force. In addition to manufacturing and delivering both GSSAP payloads, Northrop Grumman also provided the sole strap-on solid rocket booster adding propulsion to the rocket launch, as well as essential aeronautical components in support of the USSF-8 launch.  

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AFRL Announces Winners of Space University Research Initiative Funding Opportunity

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratoryvia its basic research office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, announced December 17, the winners of the newly established Space University Research Initiative (SURI) program – a first step in improving the transition of critical concepts from academia into revolutionary new military technologies for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force (USSF).

“Our way of warfare depends on space superiority and AFRL has a long history of research and development in support of this domain. With the recent standup of the USSF, along with the emergence of U.S. Space Command and new energy in the commercial space sector, we have exciting opportunities to modernize the way we lead and manage S&T,” wrote AFRL Commander, Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle in her 2021 Commander’s Intent.

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Crew Operations Aboard Space Station Return to Normal

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and U.S. Space Command continue to monitor the debris cloud created by a recent Russian anti-satellite test. The International Space Station and crew members are safe and have resumed normal operations. The largest risk from the debris was in the first 24 hours and telemetry from the space station indicates no issues during that time. About 1:20 a.m. EST today, radial hatches extending from the space station’s center, including Kibo, Columbus, the Permanent Multipurpose Module, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and Quest Joint Airlock, were reopened.

Following the incident, crew members were awoken, notified of the debris and asked to close specific hatches based on the space station’s safe haven procedures. Hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments also were closed initially, but were later opened when the higher risk period passed. Crew members’ daily tasks were adjusted during this time to accommodate the hatch closure. After closing the hatches, the crew then entered their Soyuz and Crew Dragon spacecraft for approximately two hours, from 2 a.m. – 4 a.m. EST. No debris avoidance maneuver was performed.

Space debris is tracked by Space Command and conjunction analysis is performed by NASA, with mitigations available for debris clouds and individual conjunction threats (such as debris avoidance maneuvers). If orbital debris were to strike the station and cause an air leak, the crew would close hatches to the affected module. If crew members do not have time to close the affected module, they would enter their respective spacecraft and, if necessary, undock from the space station to return to Earth.

This debris cloud that was just created has increased the risk to the station. The cataloging of the total number of identifiable pieces of debris is ongoing. Once the debris cloud is dispersed and items are tracked and catalogued, NASA will receive notifications of potential conjunction threats to the station and perform maneuvers as necessary. In addition, NASA will continue to perform visual inspections and review telemetry data to ensure vehicle health.

Teams are assessing the risk levels to conduct various mission activities. Any changes to launches, spacewalks, and other events will be updated as needed.

USSPACECOM: Russian Direct-ascent Anti-satellite Missile Test Creates Significant, Long-lasting Space Debris

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo.  (U.S. Space Command PR) –  Russia tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile on Nov. 15, 2021, Moscow Standard Time, that struck a Russian satellite [COSMOS 1408] and created a debris field in low-Earth orbit. The test so far has generated more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris.

“Russia has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability, and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations,” said U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander. “The debris created by Russia’s DA-ASAT will continue to pose a threat to activities in outer space for years to come, putting satellites and space missions at risk, as well as forcing more collision avoidance maneuvers. Space activities underpin our way of life and this kind of behavior is simply irresponsible.”

USSPACECOM’s initial assessment is that the debris will remain in orbit for years and potentially for decades, posing a significant risk to the crew on the International Space Station and other human spaceflight activities, as well as multiple countries’ satellites. USSPACECOM continues to monitor the trajectory of the debris and will work to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to safeguard their on-orbit activities if impacted by the debris cloud, a service the United States provides to the world, to include Russia and China.

“Russia is developing and deploying capabilities to actively deny access to and use of  space by the United States and its allies and partners,” Dickinson added. “Russia’s tests of direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons clearly demonstrate that Russia continues to pursue counterspace weapon systems that undermine strategic stability and pose a threat to all nations.”

Russia ASAT Test Destroys Old Satellite; ISS Crew Shelter in Return Capsules as Station Flies Near Orbital Debris

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

Updated on Nov. 15 at 4:35 PST with comments by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States has condemned a Russian anti-satellite test that destroyed a non-functioning 39-Soviet-era satellite that added more dangerous debris to Earth orbit.

“Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “The test has so far generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations.

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U.S. Navy Establishes Maritime Space Officer Designator for Joint Warfighting Effort

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo.  (U.S. Space Command PR) – U.S. Space Command is focused on building the command to compete and win, as it heads into its third year as America’s 11th Combatant Command. A huge part of that focus is to ensure space warfighters from each service have the technical knowledge and tactical acumen to integrate into the full range of joint space capabilities.

Each service brings unique talents to the Joint Force, and most recently, the U.S. Navy announced the establishment of the Maritime Space Officer designator.

“These sailors will integrate into our operations to help deter, compete and win against our nation’s most formidable competitors in space,” said U.S. Army Gen. Jim Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander. “All joint partnerships across the Department of Defense are pertinent to continue projecting global power with space capabilities.”

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South Korea to Boost Military and Civil Space Spending, Transfer Satellite and Launch Vehicle Technology to Private Sector

Test model of the Nuri (KSLV-II) booster. (Credit: Ministry of Science and ICT)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

South Korea plans to invest more than $14.25 billion over the next decade to improve its military and civil space capabilities. The Republic of Korea will transfer satellite and launch vehicle technology to the private sector to boost the nation’s domestic capabilities and improve its international competitiveness. The nation is also deepening defense and civil space cooperation with the United States.

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Feinstein, Padilla & Carbajal Urge Air Force to Consider Vandenberg as Permanent Base for STARCOM

Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 satellite lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Credit: ULA)

WASHINGTON (Dianne Feinstein PR)—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Representative Salud Carbajal (all D-Calif.) today expressed support for making Vandenberg Space Force Base the permanent location for the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) amid reports that the previous U.S. Space Command basing decision was based on politics, not merit.

“As you know, Vandenberg Space Force Base already plays an important role in space training and operations. Vandenberg trains space operators at the Air Education and Training Command’s 381st Training Group; manages missile testing; and launches satellites into polar orbit,” the members wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. “Further, Vandenberg’s proximity to California’s world-renowned aerospace industry, universities, and research institutions makes it well-suited to support the permanent establishment of STARCOM.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

September 10, 2021

Mr. Frank Kendall
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force
Washington, D.C. 20330-1670 

Dear Secretary Kendall:

We write to express support for Vandenberg Space Force Base as the permanent location of the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) and to ask that you ensure the selection process is based on a rigorous and objective evaluation of each proposed site.  We are concerned about reports that the previous Administration’s decision to establish U.S. Space Command at Redstone Arsenal was based on politics instead of the merits, and ask you to ensure this does not happen in future basing decisions. 

We are also concerned about the decision to temporarily base STARCOM at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  As you know, Vandenberg Space Force Base already plays an important role in space training and operations.  Vandenberg trains space operators at the Air Education and Training Command’s 381st Training Group; manages missile testing; and launches satellites into polar orbit.  Further, Vandenberg’s proximity to California’s world-renowned aerospace industry, universities, and research institutions makes it well-suited to support the permanent establishment of STARCOM.

We trust that under your leadership, future basing decisions will be carried out in an impartial manner and will follow established processes.  We look forward to working with you and your staff on behalf of Airmen, Guardians, and their families.  Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.  

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Salud Carbajal
Member of Congress 

Alex Padilla
United States Senator 

Trump Claims to have “Single-handedly” Moved U.S. Space Command From Colorado to Alabama

  • Controversial decision announced one week before Trump left office
  • Colorado’s leaders says comments confirm that political factors, not merit, led to decision
  • Two separate government investigations continue into move

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former president Donald Trump claimed on Friday to have “single-handedly” moved the U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama, adding fuel to the political firestorm that erupted over the controversial decision earlier this year.

“Space Force — I sent to Alabama,” Trump said. “I hope you know that. (They) said they were looking for a home and I single-handedly said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama.’ They wanted it. I said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama. I love Alabama,” Trump told the Alabama-based Rick & Bubba radio program.

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USSPACECOM Signs 100th Commercial Agreement to Share Space Data, Service

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  –  U.S. Space Command signed the 100th Commercial Space Situational Awareness Data Sharing Agreement in the history of the command with Libre Space Foundation, a non-profit entity, to initiate the two-way flow of SSA services and information.

The memorandum, signed July 1 by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Michael Bernacchi, USSPACECOM director of Plans, Strategy and Policy, will enhance the nation’s awareness within the space domain and increase the safety of global spaceflight operations.

“Our space systems underpin a wide range of services, providing vital national, military, civil, scientific and economic benefits to the global community,” said U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, commander of USSPACECOM. “Space situational awareness, which requires these types of cooperative agreements in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, is one of many approaches used to ensure all responsible space-faring nations continue benefitting from this critical domain.”

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OneWeb Demonstrates Network Capabilities to U.S. Government

MELBOURNE, Fla. (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, the global communications company, powered from Space successfully demonstrated its turnkey satellite-based communications system to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on March 2nd.

The event, which was conducted in front of service representatives from the US Space Command at OneWeb’s demonstration facility in Melbourne, Florida, represents the first time the solution has been demonstrated to the U.S. Government.

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