Powering the Future of Space Exploration: DIU Launching Next-Generation Nuclear Propulsion and Power

Nuclear thermal propulsion system. (Credit; USNC-Tech)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 17, 2022 (DIU) — The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is advancing two different approaches to accelerate ground and flight testing for nuclear-powered prototypes: compact fusion and next-gen radioisotope concepts.  The ultimate objective is to launch a successful orbital prototype demonstration in 2027 of each approach.

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Tic Tac Oh! Are Strange Objects Sighted in U.S. Skies Extraterrestrial?

They’re unidentified objects that fly…just don’t call them UFO’s!
They’re not saying it’s aliens…but they’re not saying it’s not
Congress holding first hearing in more than 50 years on Tuesday

Part II of II

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During my recent visit to Roswell, NM, I toured a museum that posited the U.S. government covered up the crash of a spaceship with four aliens on a ranch outside the city 75 years ago. Although I came away far from convinced this actually happened, there was one thing I saw there that was seemed quite credible. (Part I: The Truth is Out There, Just Maybe Not in Roswell)

I wandered into the museum’s small theater, which was showing an Australian news report on what the Pentagon has labeled unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) — what back in the day were known as unidentified flying objects (UFOs). (Apparently the DoD decided a rebrand was needed to make them sound less crackpotty.)

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House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee to Hold Open Hearing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. EDT, the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman André Carson (D-Ind.), will hold an open hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena. Following the open portion of the hearing, the subcommittee will hold a closed, classified briefing.

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U.S.-South Korea to Deepen Cooperation in Defense Space Sector

WASHINGTON (ROK Ministry of National Defense PR) — The ROK Ministry of National Defense and the US Department of Defense held the 18th ROK-US Director-General-level Defense Space Cooperation Working Group (SCWG) in Washington DC on April 25, 2022.

This meeting was attended by Cho Yong-geun, Minister for North Korea Policy of the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense and John D. Hill, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy of the United States of America, as representatives of both sides.

After the signing of the Korea-U.S. Defense and Space Cooperation (SCWG) Agreement (TOR) at the Korea-U.S. Security Council Meeting (SCM) in October of ’12, the National Defense and Space Cooperation Council (SCWG) was held 17 times from ’13 to ’21.

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SpaceX’s Ability to Thwart Russian Jamming of Starlink Called “Eye Watering”

Starlink Premium antenna. (Credit: SpaceX)

Popular Mechanics reports that the Pentagon is studying how SpaceX was able to quickly thwart attempts to jam Starlink satellite broadband receivers the company sent to Ukraine to help the nation defend itself against a Russian invasion.

The U.S. Department of Defense is casting envious eyes on Elon Musk’s SpaceX after the aerospace company swiftly responded to an “electronic warfare attack” in Ukraine last month. SpaceX donated Starlink terminals to Ukraine to help the country stay connected in wartime, but Russian signal-jamming attempted to thwart those plans. The notoriously bureaucratic Pentagon says it’s a model for responding to threats that it can’t currently match—but desperately needs to…..

According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, some Starlink terminals near the front line in Ukraine were experiencing jamming, presumably from Russian military electronic warfare units. Musk later tweeted that the company quickly “reprioritized to cyber defense & overcoming signal jamming,” and issued a fix within a day, broadcast to all Starlink terminals. The fix reportedly involved changing a single line of software code.

A one-day turnaround for software fixes is par for the course for commercial businesses, especially startups, but not for the government. Dave Tremper, director of electronic warfare for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, told attendees at an industry conference that SpaceX’s handling of Russian jamming in Ukraine was “eye-watering.”

SpaceX has sent 5,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine, including 3,667 donated by SpaceX and 1,333 purchased by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

U.S. Commits to Not Conduct Direct-ascent Anti-satellite Tests

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers opening remarks at the first meeting of the National Space Council, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington. Chaired by Vice President Harris, the council’s role is to advise the President regarding national space policy and strategy, and ensuring the United States capitalizes on the opportunities presented by the country’s space activities. (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

New U.S. Commitment on Destructive Direct-Ascent Anti-Satellite Missile Testing

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (White House PR) — Today at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States commits not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile testing, and that the United States seeks to establish this as a new international norm for responsible behavior in space. The Vice President also called on other nations to make similar commitments and to work together in establishing this as a norm, making the case that such efforts benefit all nations. 

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Hughes Announces Distribution Agreement with OneWeb Technologies

Turnkey managed LEO services available now to DoD for single- and multi-transport SATCOM implementations worldwide

Pictured, left to right: Rick Lober, Vice President & General Manager, Defense & Intelligence Systems, Hughes; Tim Kopra, President, OneWeb Technologies; Ian Canning, Chief Operating Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Steve Perreault, Chief Financial Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Jeff Lessner, Vice President, Hughes; Leslie Blaker-Glass, Vice President, Hughes
Pictured, left to right: Rick Lober, Vice President & General Manager, Defense & Intelligence Systems, Hughes; Tim Kopra, President, OneWeb Technologies; Ian Canning, Chief Operating Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Steve Perreault, Chief Financial Officer, OneWeb Technologies; Jeff Lessner, Vice President, Hughes; Leslie Blaker-Glass, Vice President, Hughes (Image Credit: Hughes Network Systems, LLC)

GERMANTOWN, Md. (Hughes Network Systems PR) — Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), an innovator in satellite and multi-transport technologies and networks for 50 years, today announced it signed a distribution agreement with OneWeb Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of OneWeb, to deliver managed Low Earth Orbit (LEO) services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The agreement follows the launch of the industry’s first managed LEO satellite communications (SATCOM) network for the DoD, an implementation led by Hughes in the Arctic region for the U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL).

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SwRI’s New Space System Integration Facility Supports Smallsat Development

SwRI’s new 74,000-square-foot Space System Integration Facility will allow rapid response to customers needing to design, assemble and test spacecraft, particularly small satellites for emerging “new space” applications, including support for the commercial and U.S. Department of Defense arenas. (Credit: Southwest Research Institute)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 4, 2022 (SwRI PR) — Southwest Research Institute has added a new, 74,000-square-foot Space System Integration Facility to its San Antonio headquarters. The SwRI facility can rapidly respond to customers needing to design, assemble and test spacecraft, particularly small satellites for emerging “new space” applications, including support for the commercial and U.S. Department of Defense arenas. The building is scheduled for completion in June 2022.

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Hughes Selected to Deploy Private 5G Network for DoD

GERMANTOWN, MD, March 21, 2022 (Hughes PR) — Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), an innovator in satellite and multi-transport technologies and networks for 50 years, today announced the award of an $18 million contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) to deploy a standalone 5G network at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state. The Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) was issued through the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) consortium, a collaboration to engage industry and academia to develop and mature technologies in the field of information warfare that enhance Navy and Marine Corps mission effectiveness. Hughes will serve as the prime contractor connecting the base with a secure 5G network to support operations, maintenance and flight traffic management. The Hughes 5G network will utilize spectrum from DISH Wireless, the only carrier capable of providing the right combination of low band, mid band, and high band (mmWave) spectrum. This work is part of on-going DoD 5G experimentation led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

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Orbit Fab Awarded $12 Million AFWERX Contract for Refueling DOD Satellites

LAFAYETTE, Colo. (Orbit Fab PR) — Orbit Fab has been awarded a $12 Million AFWERX Strategic Funding Increase and Tactical Funding Increase (STRATFI) contract to integrate its Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface (RAFTI) service value on to DOD assets and provide refueling services.

Orbit Fab was founded in 2018 with the mission to build the in-space propellant supply chain. Orbit Fab has developed the RAFTI (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) service valve in partnership with the Space Force. RAFTI is a fueling port that enables spacecraft to be refueled on-orbit and can be used as a drop-in replacement for existing satellite fill-and-drain valves. RAFTI has been selected as the primary refueling interface for multiple DoD on-orbit refueling missions and this STRATFI will enable Orbit Fab to scale its operations to reliably serve government and commercial refueling demand. 

“Orbit Fab is excited to expand our collaborative partnership with DoD and to support our Gas Stations in Space refueling services,” Jeremy Schiel, Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer of Orbit Fab, Inc.

About Orbit Fab Inc.

Orbit Fab believes a bustling in-space economy is a precondition to permanent jobs in space. By providing a ubiquitous supply of satellite propellant in LEO, GEO, and cis-lunar space (branded Gas Stations in Space), the company improves existing space business models (communications and Earth observation) and helps open new industries like space tourism, manufacturing, and mining. Orbit Fab has racked up a number of world-firsts: the first-ever commercially available in-space refueling port (RAFTI), the first-ever private company to resupply the International Space Station with water, and the first-ever satellite fuel depot. The future for satellites is no longer restricted to the fuel they are launched with. Orbit Fab delivers the fuel and other materials that are needed, where and when they are needed, to enable business models never before thought possible. The company recently announced its first commercial fuel sale to Astroscale, a private orbital debris removal company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

AFRL/AFOSR to Conduct Sound Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops for Hypersonics Research

Sounding rocket lifts off from Wallops Flight Facility. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil-Ervin)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A launch of a two-stage suborbital sounding rocket for the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s BOLT II flight experiment is set to take place the evening of March 21 at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Live coverage of the launch will be provided on NASA Wallops YouTube channel. Officials at NASA Wallops project the launch to be visible anywhere from 10 to 120 seconds from parts of seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as Washington, D.C.

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OneWeb Suspends Satellite Launches From Baikonur

Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 27, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Friday launch of 36 OneWeb broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome is officially canceled as the London-based company refused demands from the Russian government amid growing international tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The Board of OneWeb has voted to suspend all launches from Baikonur,” the company said in a one-sentence statement.

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Russia Holds OneWeb Satellites Hostage; No Launch Unless Company & British Government Meet Demands

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In what is likely the first hostage drama involving communication satellites, the head of the Russian space program has demanded that the British government divest its shares in OneWeb and that the broadband satellite operator not provide services to foreign militaries in order to launch a new batch of spacecraft. The move comes amid growing tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions imposed on the country by western nations.

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that unless these demands are met, Russia will refuse to launch 36 OneWeb satellites that sit atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket currently on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled for Saturday morning Moscow time.

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Northrop Grumman Selected by Space Development Agency to Develop Prototype Constellation Supporting Joint All-Domain Command and Control Network

Tranche 1 Transport Layer mesh satellite communications network. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The program leverages the company’s heritage MILSATCOM programs, commercial partnerships, and industry-leading laser communication technology to enable worldwide communications

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 28, 2022 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today received an award with a potential value of $692 million from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to produce and field an innovative, proliferated constellation of 42 low-Earth orbit (pLEO) satellites for the Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) mesh satellite communications network.

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