Space Development Agency Seeks Next-Gen Architecture in First RFI

Figure 1: Notional architecture from SDA 60-day study. (Credit: Space Development Agency)

Space Development Agency
Next-Generation Space Architecture
Request for Information
SDA-SN-19-0001
July 1, 2019
[Full Solicitation]

SDA requests information from industry related to satellite bus, payload, applique, and launch concepts that can contribute to an agile, responsive next-generation space architecture. SDA has developed a notional suite of capabilities, as depicted in Figure 1, to include multiple constellations (or “layers”) addressing the eight priorities listed above. Each layer provides an integral and integrated capability to the overall architecture.

The SDA’s notional architecture is predicated on the availability of a ubiquitous data and communications transport layer and assumes the use of small, mass-produced satellites (50-500 kg) and associated payload hardware and software. The SDA is considering the use of transport layer spacecraft as substrates for other layers, allowing for the integration of appropriate payloads based on each layer’s needs.

Seven layers are proposed:

  1. Space Transport Layer: Global, persistent, low-latency data and communications proliferated “mesh” network to provide 24×7 global communications.
  2. Tracking Layer: Indications, warning, targeting, and tracking of advanced missile threats.
  3. Custody Layer: 24×7, all-weather custody of all identified time-critical targets.
  4. Deterrence Layer: Space Situational Awareness (SSA) of, and rapid access to, the cislunar volume.
  5. Navigation Layer: Alternate Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) for GPS-denied environments.
  6. Battle Management Layer: Distributed, artificial intelligence-enabled Battle Management Command, Control and Communications (BMC3), to include self-tasking, self-prioritization (for collection), on-board processing, and dissemination, supporting delivery of perishable space sensor-derived data products directly to tactical users.
  7. Support Layer: Mass-producible ground command and control capabilities, user terminals, and rapid-response launch services (small- to medium-class).

Proposed concepts should align to one or more of the layers described above. SDA prefers comprehensive solutions that include open architectures (e.g., buses that support multiple payloads and software appliques, and payloads/software capable of integration aboard multiple buses) and leverage commercial capabilities, existing or planned.

Made in Space Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

Made in Space will continue to pursue the development of advanced glass alloys and 3-D manufactured structures for space interferometry missions under a pair of contract awards from NASA.

The space agency selected the additive-manufacturing company for awards under phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The contracts are worth a maximum of $750,000 apiece for up to two years.

“The next step in the industrialization of LEO is the formulation of base materials, such as specialty glasses, that can be refined into higher value products in microgravity,” the company said in a summary of its proposal. “The Glass Alloy Manufacturing Machine (GAMMA) is an experimental system designed to investigate how these materials form without the effects of gravity-induced flows and inform process improvements for commercial product development.”

(more…)

US Air Force Selects Slingshot Aerospace to Bring AI to SSA

SpaceNews reports the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded a two-year $6 million contract to Slingshot Aerospace of Los Angeles to customize its artificial intelligence space situational awareness software for military use.

The commercially developed Orbital Atlas “will enable warfighters to pivot from traditional space situational awareness focusing on space catalog maintenance toward a more tactical, predictive solution,” said Melanie Stricklan, chief technology officer and co-founder of Slingshot Aerospace.

The company uses artificial intelligence to analyze data from satellites, aerial drones and other sources. Slingshot announced the Air Force award on Friday and will be demonstrating the Orbital Atlas this week at the Space Symposium’s “Orbit Lounge.”

The contract was a competitive award by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Superiority Systems Directorate. “SMC is eager to tap into the innovations of artificial intelligence and cloud computing,” Stricklan said.

NorthStar E&S, ExoAnalytic Solutions Team on Space Situational Awareness

LONDON, April 1, 2019 (NorthStar Earth & Space PR) – A strategic cooperation between ExoAnalytic Solutions of Foothill Ranch, California and NorthStar Earth & Space of Montreal, Quebec was announced today at the 2019 Space Situational Awareness Conference in London.

The two companies will collaborate on the development of new commercial services to protect satellites and other high-value space assets from potentially catastrophic collisions with space debris and other orbiting objects. The comprehensive global telescope network of ExoAnalytic Solutions and the sensors deployed on NorthStar’s satellite constellation, will combine to enable space situational awareness information of unique dimension, precision and timeliness.

(more…)

EU Shapes its Future Space Policy Program

BRUSSELS (European Union PR) — The EU is designing its space policy programme for the years 2021-2027. EU ambassadors meeting in Coreper today confirmed the common understanding reached by the Romanian Presidency with the European Parliament on the draft regulation on an EU space programme.

The common understanding excludes financial and other horizontal aspects of the programme, which will depend on the future overall agreement on the next multiannual financial framework.

(more…)

NorthStar Earth and Space Raises $39.5 Million for Global Environment Information Platform

Earth as seen from the DSCOVR spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

MONTREAL (NorthStar Earth and Space PR) — Human beings have left a legacy to Earth which threatens the sustainability of our planet and the livelihoods of future generations.  The cause: a lack of tools to manage and monitor our impact on the environment. NorthStar Earth & Space Inc. (NorthStar E&S) is pleased to announce C$52 million [US$39.5 million] in additional financing from strategic partners for the development of NorthStar, a global environment information platform which will transform humanity’s ability to manage our impact on Earth and its natural resources.

(more…)

Air Force Seeks Top Space Awareness Innovators with ‘VQ-Prize’ Competition

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force and the Wright Brothers Institute are offering cash prizes for the creation of visualization tools, including Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality solutions, that will enhance DOD space operator understanding and awareness of satellites and other objects in Earth orbit in a competition that is set to run from October 29 through January 15, 2019.

(more…)

Britain, Australia Sign Space Agreement

BREMEN, Germany (UKSA PR) — The United Kingdom and Australia will co-operate on activities including communications technologies, space situational awareness and satellite navigation, Science Minister Sam Gyimah announced today (3 October).

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, provides a framework for collaborative activities and the exchange of information, technology and personnel between both nations.

(more…)

CBO: Implementing Space Situational Awareness Act Would Cost $127 Million

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it will cost $127 million over five years to implement a House bill that gives the Department of Commerce authority to provide civilian space situational awareness and traffic management.

Of that amount, the Department of Commerce would spend $118 million for fiscal years 2019-23.

“The bill would authorize the appropriation of $20 million annually to implement the civil space situational awareness program, and an additional $5 million annually to develop and implement the pilot program,” the CBO report stated.

NASA would spend an additional $9 million over this period to establish and operate a research center focused on space situational awareness and traffic management.

Some of the costs of the program would be offset by fees.

(more…)

House Science Committee Approves the American Space SAFE Management Act

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved H.R.6226, the American Space Situational Awareness and Facilitation of Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act), introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). This bill will establish the Department of Commerce as the civilian agency to provide civil space situational awareness and traffic coordination.

Chairman Smith: “This bill is an important step to secure the United States as the leader in space traffic management and improves the safety of all space operations. The number of commercial satellites in space are predicted to grow from 1,300 active satellites today to more than 10,000 in the next few years. Now is the time to solidify the role of the Department of Commerce in the development of space traffic standards and guidelines. The creation of an open basic data system that combines information from American commercial and government actors, as well as international entities, will provide for the overall safe operation and management of space. This bill also better enables the Department of Defense to focus its resources on national security.”

(more…)

House Science Committee Approves American Space SAFE Management Act

Lamar Smith

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The House Science Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would transfer responsibility for space traffic management and situational awareness from the Defense Department to the Commerce Department over the objections of Democrats who said the measure rubber stamped a half-baked Trump Administration plan.

“This bill is an important step to secure the United States as the leader in space traffic management and improves the safety of all space operations,” Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement. “The number of commercial satellites in space are predicted to grow from 1,300 active satellites today to more than 10,000 in the next few years. Now is the time to solidify the role of the Department of Commerce in the development of space traffic standards and guidelines.”

The American Space Situational Awareness and Framework for Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act) is in line with Space Policy Directive 3, which President Donald Trump signed earlier this month. The program’s main goal is to prevent satellites from colliding with orbital debris and each other.

(more…)

UK to Play Major Role in Space Weather Mission Concept

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — Teams from across the UK will work on a concept for a future European mission to help reduce the global risk of damage caused by space weather.

Space weather occurs when the sun ejects material which can be highly charged, super heated and hazardous to manmade infrastructure and human life in space.

(more…)

Study Finds FAA Could Take Over Space Situational Awareness from Air Force

In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.
In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.

A Department of Transportation (DOT) review has found that it would be possible for it to take over responsibility for space situational awareness from the U.S. Air Force.

(more…)

USSTRATCOM Signs Space Situational Awareness Agreement With UAE Space Agency

UAE_Space_Agency_LogoCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (UAESA PR) — The United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) entered into an agreement with the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to share space situational awareness (SSA) services and information today at the 32nd Space Symposium.

The arrangement, which will enhance awareness within the space domain and increase the safety of spaceflight operations, was formalized in a memorandum of understanding that was signed by His Excellency, Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, the UAESA chairman, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clinton E. Crosier, USSTRATCOM director of plans and policy.
(more…)