SMC Announces Plan to Award Contracts for 12 Rideshare Launches to 6 Companies

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

In an effort to support its industrial based during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has announced its intention to award 12 small satellite rideshare launches to six companies.

The awards will be made to:

  • Aevum
  • Astra
  • Rocket Lab USA
  • Space Vector
  • VOX Space
  • X-Bow.
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SMC Awards $309 Million Contracts for Rapid Weather Prototyping Efforts

EWS Notional Distributed Architecture (Credit: SMC EWS Program)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMC PR) — The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has awarded three Other Transaction Authority agreements, totaling $309 million, to develop prototypes for the Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) program. The awardees, each a member of the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), are:  

  • Raytheon Technologies
  • General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (subcontractors: EO Vista/Atmospheric & Environmental Research (AER)/Braxton Technologies)
  • Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA) (subcontractors: Tyvak/Science & Technologies Corps (STC)/AER/Lockheed Martin)
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Report: Market Unlikely to Support More than 2 Launch Providers

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (USAF PR) — Last summer, the Department of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise requested a RAND Corp. study of the heavy lift launch market.

The RAND study, released today, confirms the heavy lift launch market is unlikely to support more than two U.S. launch providers in the long term, and highlights the short term schedule risks of transitioning to new providers. The National Security Space Launch Phase 2 strategy assumes a limited market and mitigates much of the transition risk. The Department is pleased the RAND report supports the major elements of its National Security Space Launch strategy.

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US Space Force TETRA-1 Satellite Prepared for Launch After 15-month Integration

Engineers work on the TETRA-1 satellite. (Credit: Millennium Space Systems)

Millennium Space Systems achieved a 60 percent faster development time

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., April 21, 2020 – Less than 15 months after contract award, Millennium Space Systems has designed, manufactured, assembled and integrated the U.S. Space Force TETRA-1 satellite. The work was completed 60 percent faster than previous missions, improving the U.S. Space Force’s ability to advance the TETRA-1 technologies more quickly.

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Space Surveillance Telescope Sees First Light Through US & Australian Partnership

Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. — In partnership with the Australian Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) Program recently achieved “first light” on March 5, 2020, reaching a key milestone after it was moved from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico to Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station in Western Australia.

“This key Space Domain Awareness, or SDA, partnership builds on the long history of close defense space cooperation between the United States and Australia and has been a cornerstone of our continued alliance,” said Gordon Kordyak, SMC Special Programs Directorate Space Domain Awareness Division chief.

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Space Force Delays Next GPS Satellite Launch by 2 Months Due to COVID-19

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) – The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has decided to reschedule the launch of GPS III SV03 (GPS III-3) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to minimize the potential of COVID-19 exposure to the launch crew and early-orbit operators.

The current GPS constellation is healthy, allowing for a strategic pause to ensure the health and safety of our force without operational impact.

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Space Micro Wins $3M Lasercom Award at USAF Space Pitch Day

SAN DIEGO (Space Micro PR) — At the USAF Space Pitch Day, Space Micro received a $3M award by the USAF Space and Missile Center (SMC) for the development of modified laser secure communications terminals to be used for upcoming Air Force missions.

The U.S. Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) conducted its Pitch Day to enable the quick acquisition of technologies for military use. Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics has championed these rapid acquisition events.

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Raytheon Wins $378 Million Contract to Replace GPS Computer Hardware

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) — On March 26, the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program instructed Raytheon to replace the computer hardware in OCX prior to system delivery due to sale of IBM’s computer product line to a Chinese company.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the IBM x86 product line sale to a foreign owned company, Lenovo on Aug. 2014. The agreement ensures IBM supported their hardware until August 2022. At the time of the sale, the Government identified this as a major impact to OCX by creating an unacceptable cyber risk. However, the Government waited on implementing a fix until Raytheon showed promising program performance in delivering OCX.

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Legislation to Create Space Force as 6th Branch of Armed Forces

The White House and Congress have worked out a deal that will establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Services in exchange for 12 weeks of paid leave for federal employees with newborn babies.

The details of the Space Force taken from a summary of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are below.

Space Force

The FY20 NDAA recognizes space as a warfighting domain and establishes the U.S. Space Force in Title 10 as the sixth Armed Service of the United States, under the U.S. Air Force. In doing so, the NDAA provides the Secretary of the Air Force with the authority to transfer Air Force personnel to the newly established Space Force. To minimize cost and bureaucracy, the Space Force will require no additional billets and remains with the President’s budget request.

The conference agreement creates a Chief of Space Operations (CSO) for the U.S. Space Force who will report directly to the Secretary of the Air Force and become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the first year, the CSO may also serve as the Commander of U.S. Space Command. The CSO will provide updates to the committees of jurisdiction every 60 days, with briefings and reports on implementation and establishment status. The conference report also creates:

  • A Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, as the senior space architect, who will:
    • Provide a renewed focus on the acquisition of space systems as the Chair of the Space Force Acquisition Council, ensuring integration across the national security space enterprise;
    • Synchronize with the Air Force Service Acquisition Executive on all space system efforts, and take on Service Acquisition Executive responsibilities for space systems and programs effective on October 1, 2022; and
    • Oversee and direct the Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and Space Development Agency.
  • An Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy as the senior civilian in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for oversight of space warfighting.

USAF Space and Missile Systems Center Payloads Arrive at Space Station

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMSC PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully delivered the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats and Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) to the International Space Station.

The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A Nov. 2 at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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Atlas V Launch Set for Thursday

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Aug. 5, 2019 (ULA PR)) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The launch is planned for Aug. 8 at Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Today’s forecast shows a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The two hour launch window begins at 5:44 a.m. ET.

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ULA Delays Atlas V, Delta IV Missions

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V551 rocket carrying the Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency 5 (AEHF-5) satellite for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is delayed, due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier which has created a cross-over concern. 

Additional time is needed for the team to review the component anomaly and determine if any corrective action is required to the launch vehicle. Launch of the AEHF-5 mission is now targeted for no earlier than Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.

AEHF satellites provide highly-secure, jam-proof connectivity between U.S. national leadership and deployed military forces. Atlas V rockets successfully launched the first four AEHF satellites in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2018.

The AEHF-5 launch will mark the 80th Atlas V mission since the inaugural launch in 2002 and the 10th in the 551 configuration. The rocket features a kerosene-fueled common core booster, five solid rocket boosters, the hydrogen-fueled Centaur upper stage and a five-meter-diameter payload fairing.

The ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the GPS III SV02 mission for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is delayed, due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier which has created a cross-over concern. 

Upon further evaluation, additional time is needed to replace and retest the component on the launch vehicle. Launch of the GPS III SV02 mission is now targeted for no earlier than Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.

NASA Prepares to Launch Twin Satellites to Study Signal Disruption From Space

This visualization shows the relative density of certain particles in Earth’s ionosphere. The E-TBEx CubeSats will explore how signals from satellites to Earth can be disrupted as they pass through this region. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s twin E-TBEx CubeSats — short for Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment — are scheduled to launch in June 2019 aboard the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 launch. The launch includes a total of 24 satellites from government and research institutions. They will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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