NASA Extends Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System Mission

Illustration of one of the eight CYGNSS satellites in orbit above a hurricane. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a contract to the University of Michigan for the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) for mission operations and closeout. A constellation of eight microsatellites, the system can view storms more frequently and in a way traditional satellites are unable to, increasing scientists’ ability to understand and predict hurricanes.

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Iridium Awarded $30 Million R&D Contract by the U.S. Army for GPS Hosted Payload

Credit: Iridium

MCLEAN, Va., June 24, 2021 (Iridium PR) – Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) today announced it has been awarded a research and development contract worth up to $30 million by the United States Army (Army) to develop a payload to be hosted on small satellites that supports navigation systems, guidance and control for the global positioning system (GPS) and GPS-denied precision systems. The new experimental Iridium payload is intended to be hosted by another Low Earth Orbit (LEO) commercial satellite constellation, complementing the Iridium® constellation’s capabilities.

Through this contract the Army intends to develop this payload to support the concept of a rapidly deployable smallsat constellation to provide more effective sensor-to-soldier data transmission when in the field. The development of this new payload is based on Iridium Burst® technology, a unique service that can transmit data to millions of enabled devices at a time from space.

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Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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The Rise Fund Announces $100 Million Strategic Investment in Climavision

Partnership will Accelerate Growth of Newly Launched High-Resolution Weather Solutions Platform, Filling Critical Coverage Gaps in Existing Radar Networks

SAN FRANCISCO & FORT WORTH, Texas & LOUISVILLE, Ky.–(Rise Fund/Climavision PR)–The Rise Fund, TPG’s global impact investing platform, today announced a $100 million strategic investment in Climavision, a pioneering weather services and intelligence platform powered by a private network of high-resolution radars, GPS-RO data, and proprietary software to vastly improve the timing and accuracy of weather forecasting and to fill low-level gaps in existing weather surveillance.

Climavision was formed out of Enterprise Electronics Corporation (EEC), the world’s largest privately held commercial supplier of weather radar systems. EEC, which is majority controlled by the Cookes family, has a 50-year history and more than 1,200 installations across 95 countries. By combining lower altitude, proprietary data with cutting-edge machine learning and AI technology, Climavision’s one-of-a-kind offering provides 10x higher resolution and more accurate forecasting to address critical coverage gaps left by existing radar networks across the U.S.

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SMC Awards $228 Million OCX 3F Contract to Raytheon Intelligence and Space

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) awarded a $228 million contract to Raytheon Intelligence and Space for the Global Positioning System (GPS) Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) Follow-On (OCX 3F) on April 30.

The OCX 3F program is part of the GPS Enterprise Modernization effort.  GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system that provides accurate positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) for military and civil users worldwide. The GPS OCX Blocks 1 & 2 System, planned for delivery in 2022, will represent a major evolution in capabilities for the GPS enterprise.  In addition to supporting the latest DoD standards and practices for cybersecurity, it also supports a number of advanced features over the legacy GPS Ground Segment. 

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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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Galileo will Help Lunar Pathfinder Navigate Around Moon

Lunar Pathfinder will relay signals from other Moon missions. (Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Lunar Pathfinder mission to the Moon will carry an advanced satellite navigation receiver, in order to perform the first ever satnav positioning fix in lunar orbit. This experimental payload marks a preliminary step in an ambitious ESA plan to expand reliable satnav coverage – as well as communication links – to explorers around and ultimately on the Moon during this decade.

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L3Harris Awarded $137 Million Contract for Four Additional Payload Mission Data Units for GPS III Follow-on

MELBOURNE, Fla. — L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has received contracts totaling $137 million for four navigation payload Mission Data Units (MDU) for future GPS III Follow-on (GPS IIIF) satellites.

Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for GPS III/IIIF, selected L3Harris in 2018 to design and build the first two fully-digital MDUs, the heart of the satellite’s navigation payload. The MDU generates more powerful GPS signals and assures clock operations for GPS users.

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Sentinel-6 Passes In-orbit Tests with Flying Colors

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.

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NASA Advancing Global Navigation Satellite System Capabilities

Deployment of Bobcat-1 from the International Space Station. (Credit: Nanoracks)

by Danny Baird
​NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program office

NASA is developing capabilities that will allow missions at high altitudes to take advantage of signals from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) constellations — like GPS commonly used in the U.S. These signals — used on Earth for navigation and critical timing applications — could provide NASA’s Artemis missions to the Moon with reliable timing and navigation data. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program is developing the technologies that will support this goal.

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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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NASA Explores Upper Limits of Global Navigation Systems for Artemis

An Orion spacecraft approaches the lunar Gateway. (Credit: NASA)

By Danny Baird
​NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program office

The Artemis generation of lunar explorers will establish a sustained human presence on the Moon, prospecting for resources, making revolutionary discoveries, and proving technologies key to future deep space exploration.

To support these ambitions, NASA navigation engineers from the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program are developing a navigation architecture that will provide accurate and robust Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services for the Artemis missions. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals will be one component of that architecture. GNSS use in high-Earth orbit and in lunar space will improve timing, enable precise and responsive maneuvers, reduce costs, and even allow for autonomous, onboard orbit and trajectory determination.

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GPS III SV04 Receives Operational Acceptance

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.–Global Positioning System III Space Vehicle (SV) 04 received United States Space Force’s Operational Acceptance approval on Dec. 1- marking yet another significant milestone for the GPS III program, Space and Missile Systems Center and USSF.

It is the fourth GPS III satellite delivered into the operational constellation in the past 12 months and the second in the past three months. Additionally, this is the first GPS III vehicle delivered to the warfighter through an expedited satellite control authority transfer process, which cuts ten days off the previous operational acceptance timeline. 

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Space Capital Launches Second Institutional Fund, Space Talent Careers Site

Space Capital has launched its latest institution fund, Space Capital II, to invest in three areas. The company has also launched a careers site called Space Talent.

Managing Partner Chad Anderson writes in Medium:

Building upon insights from The GPS Playbook, we plan to deploy Space Capital II in the following thematic areas:

Geospatial Intelligence
Applications:
– AgTech
– InsurTech
– ClimateTech
Distribution:
– Synthetic Data

GPS (precise/micro positioning)
Applications:
– Sensor fusion
– AR
– AdTech
– Mobility
– Autonomous Systems
Distribution:
– Next-generation mapping infrastructure
– Precision navigation

Communications
Applications:
– IoT
– Logistics
Distribution:
– 5G
– Cybersecurity

To further stimulate growth in these areas we’ve launched Space Talent, a free career platform and central resources hub built for the global ecosystem of companies at the intersection of space and tech. With over 9,000 jobs and 550 companies across 50 countries, Space Talent matches credible employers with top talent while providing insights into an ever-expanding range of opportunities. The platform also helps founders experiment, build, and finance new businesses by providing resources and the opportunity to receive up to $1.5M in funding from Space Capital and our affiliates.