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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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 and H3 HATS Detail Successes with World’s First Industrialized Optical Communications Terminal for Airborne Applications

Optical communications terminal on H3 HATS aircraft. (Credit: Mynaric)

MUNICH (Mynaric PR) — Mynaric and H3 HATS today announced the successful start of a joint demonstration campaign to showcase laser communication capabilities for high-altitude long endurance aircraft using industrialized optical communications terminals. Initial flights of the campaign demonstrated key performance criteria of Mynaric’s HAWK product currently in pre-series production onboard one of H3 HATS’ aircraft. Where previous tests of this nature have used one-off prototypes or technology demonstrators, today’s announcement marks the world’s first demonstration of an industrialized optical communications terminal for airborne applications.

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Ministry of Defence Makes £9.5 Million Investment for Military Space Communications

LONDON (Ministry of Defence PR) — The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have awarded a £9.5 million [US $13.1 million] contract to In-Space Missions Ltd for the build of the Titania satellite, which will undertake vital research on the next-generation of communications technology.

To be launched in 2023 and approximately the size of a washing machine, the satellite will support the ‘Titania Operational Concept Demonstrator’ which is exploring the military utility of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) direct-to-earth free-space optical communications (FSOC).

As modern battlespace technology requires increasingly high bandwidth, FSOC has the potential to transform military communications with its ability to transfer large volumes of data, with a low risk of detection or interception.

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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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General Atomics Partners with Space Development Agency to Conduct Space-to-Air Optical Communication Experiment

Laser Interconnect and Networking Communication System (LINCS) CubeSats. (Credit: General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems)

SAN DIEGO, 02 JUNE 2021 (GA-EMS PR) – General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it was awarded a contract by the Space Development Agency to demonstrate space-to-air optical communication using GA-EMS’ Laser Interconnect and Networking Communication System (LINCS) and a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper®. This contract is in conjunction with an upcoming experiment where GA-EMS and SDA are partnering to launch the LINCS system and conduct a series of experiments demonstrating space-based optical communication starting later this summer.

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NASA Space Operations Budget Request Fact Sheet

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle begins its separation from the station after undocking from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Operations
($ Millions)

The FY 2022 Budget for the Space Operations account consists of four areas: International Space Station (ISS), Space Transportation, Space and Flight Support (SFS), and Commercial LEO Development.

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