Russia’s Sphere Satellite Constellation Moves Toward Implementation

Sphere constellation satellite orbits. (Credit: Roscosmos)
  • 264-satellite constellation will provide broadband and Earth observation capabilities
  • Russia’s first mega constellation would be deployed in medium orbit
  • Government plans to spend US $370 million through 2024

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — After several stages of discussions and approvals in the government, the Federal Sphere project received a development plan supported by funding. In the coming years, emphasis will be placed on developing technologies and creating the first samples of spacecraft. The final decision on the number and composition of satellite constellations will be made based on the results shown.

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CLICK Team Tests Optical Communications Technology Ahead of Small Spacecraft Swarm Demonstration

Graduate students build the test assembly of the CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK, or CLICK, B/C engineering development unit in a clean room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. (Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NASA PR) — Teams from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville are currently testing components of NASA’s CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK (CLICK) B/C demonstration, aiming to validate that the technology can be packaged into a CubeSat and work as expected. CLICK B/C is the second of two sequential missions designed to advance optical communications capabilities for autonomous fleets of CubeSats.

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NASA’s Laser Communications Tech, Science Experiment Safely in Space

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload transmitting optical signals. (Credits: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and a NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory space weather payload to study the Sun’s radiation lifted off at 5:19 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

The payloads launched aboard the Space Test Program Satellite-6 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as part of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Test Program 3 mission.

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Exploring Together, NASA and Industry Embrace Laser Communications

Illustration of STPSat-6 with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload communicating data over infrared links. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Katherine Schauer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Our televisions and computer screens display news, movies, and shows in high-definition, allowing viewers a clear and vibrant experience. Fiber optic connections send laser light densely packed with data through cables to bring these experiences to users.

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NASA Sets Live Launch Coverage for Laser Communications Demonstration

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload transmitting optical signals. (Credits: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is taking a step toward the next era of space communications with the launch of its Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) on Sunday, Dec. 5. Live coverage of the launch is scheduled to air on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA App beginning at 3:30 a.m. EST.

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Voyager Space and Space Micro Inc. Announce Strategic Agreement

DENVER, Nov. 22, 2021 (Voyager Space PR) — Voyager Space Inc. (Voyager), a global leader in space exploration and infrastructure, today announced its intent to acquire a majority stake in San Diego-based Space Micro. Space Micro is a highly innovative engineering-driven business focused on advancing high-performance satellite communications, digital, and electro-optical systems with over 2.7 million hours of space flight heritage. Space Micro developed the world’s highest data rate Laser Communications Terminal in orbit. As part of the agreement, Voyager intends to provide strategic operations support to help advance Space Micro’s technology throughput to civil, commercial, and defense customers.

“For almost two decades Space Micro has developed game-changing technologies and provided trusted high-performance satellite communications systems,” says Space Micro Co-Founder and Chairman, David Strobel. “Today marks a huge step in our growth trajectory. The satellite constellation market stands at the tipping point of explosive expansion and now, with the Voyager team and operational functions by our side, we will be prepared to scale our technologies to meet these market needs.”

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NASA Invites Public to Share Launch of Laser Communications Demonstration

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload transmitting optical signals. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission. Launch is scheduled for 4:04 – 6:04 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

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UK Government Backs Space Technology to Tackle Climate Change

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Trailblazing technology that will help tackle climate change and predict global disasters using satellites is receiving new funding from the UK Space Agency.

Eleven UK organisations have been awarded a share of just under £7 million of government funding to put into action the latest advances in space innovation. The majority of the projects focus on climate change or environmental management, with others designed to secure our telecommunication systems and protect digital infrastructure against cyber-attacks.

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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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ESA Helps Start-ups Reach for the Stars

PARIS (ESA PR) — Four entrepreneurial small companies have won the chance to learn from senior figures at ESA and satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, following an ESA-backed competition.

ESA is boosting the commercialisation of space by helping entrepreneurs to gain access to large manufacturers and to share expertise.

Representatives from nine start-up companies pitched their space-based ideas to the manufacturer during a recent event. They received one-to-one expert feedback on becoming a partner, supplier or client to Thales Alenia Space.

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Mynaric Selected by Northrop Grumman as Strategic Supplier for Laser Communication

LOS ANGELES, 1 November 2021 (Mynaric PR) – Mynaric has signed a multi-year, strategic agreement with Northrop Grumman that identifies the company as a strategic supplier for laser communications in the space domain.

“The U.S. government is the driving force to deploy laser communication capabilities in space,” said Bulent Altan, CEO of Mynaric. “We are happy to have been selected as a strategic supplier by Northrop Grumman to pursue ongoing and upcoming programs in this important market segment and look forward to jointly providing secure and broadband communication to serve the U.S. government’s needs for distributed communication architectures.”

Earlier this year Mynaric submitted bids with a combined value in the mid-double digit million USD range to Northrop Grumman in the framework of multiple government space programs that are still pending contract awards by the U.S. government. Separately, Northrop Grumman will issue a purchase order for a set of CONDOR Mk3 terminals to kick-start the new relationship.

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Mynaric Adds Space Industry Leader Hans Koenigsmann to Supervisory Board

Longtime SpaceX Vice President nominated by supervisory board to replace resigning supervisory board member

LOS ANGELES, Calif., October 6, 2021 – Mynaric today announced that space industry leader Hans Koenigsmann was nominated to join its supervisory board. Koenigsmann was nominated by the supervisory board to replace resigning supervisory board member Gerd Gruppe, a former Executive board member of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), contingent on court approval. Mynaric wins Koenigsmann for his first advisory role outside of SpaceX where he acted in various high-profile leadership roles during a 20-year tenure

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SpaceX Launches 51 Laser-equipped Starlink Satellites From Vandenberg

Falcon 9 with 51 Starlink satellites aboard streaks across the sky over the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with 51 Starlink advanced broadband satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday night. The booster launched at 8:55 p.m. PDT, streaking southward across the nighttime sky.

The Starlink satellites are the first to be equipped with laser links to speed communications for SpaceX’s broadband service.

The booster’s first stage, which flew for the 10th time, landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Pacific Ocean. The stage had previously flown on the Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and seven Starlink missions.

One half of Falcon 9’s fairing halves previously supported NROL-108 and the other previously flew on GPS III-3 and Turksat-5A.

Mynaric Signs Multi-Million Dollar Deal with SpaceLink

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 2021 (Mynaric PR) — Mynaric and SpaceLink today announced the signature of a definitive agreement on the sale of optical inter-satellite link (OISL) terminals for satellites in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) with a total order volume of up to $28 million depending on exercised options and SpaceLink’s satellite prime selection. Mynaric expects to ship SpaceLink’s first units during the first quarter of 2023. The deal includes mutually agreed upon milestone payments leading up to initial delivery.

“The final details of this agreement are just the beginning of a strategic partnership designed to bring fast, highly secure and continuous communications between spacecraft and the ground. Our industrialized approach to production will allow us to meet the expanded needs as SpaceLink’s constellation grows,” said Tina Ghataore, President, Mynaric USA and Chief Commercial Officer, Mynaric.

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