Russia ASAT Test Destroys Old Satellite; ISS Crew Shelter in Return Capsules as Station Flies Near Orbital Debris

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

Updated on Nov. 15 at 4:35 PST with comments by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States has condemned a Russian anti-satellite test that destroyed a non-functioning 39-Soviet-era satellite that added more dangerous debris to Earth orbit.

“Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “The test has so far generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations.

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UK Working with Global Partners to Clear up Dangerous Space Debris

Location of the 24,000 debris larger than 10 cm in low orbit in 2020. (Credits: NASA)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency is today announcing a range of different initiatives aimed at supporting safe and sustainable space operations.

From developing our space tracking capabilities and promoting international efforts in space sustainability, to finding novel ways of removing space debris – the UK is leading the way to ensure the Earth’s orbit can continue to be used now and in the future.

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OQ Technology, GovSat Sign MOU to Collaborate on IoT Products for Defence and Government Sectors

LUXEMBOURG, 29 September 2021 (OQ Technology PR) – OQ Technology, a Luxembourg-based satellite 5G IoT company, and GovSat, a public-private joint venture between the Luxembourg government and satellite operator SES, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on developing and testing satellite-based IoT (Internet of things) and machine-to-machine (M2M) products aimed at defence and government sectors.

By combining OQ Technology’s 5G products and services with GovSat’s end-to-end satcom solutions, already supporting customers such as NATO, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Belgium Navy, the companies aim to offer highly scalable applications for air, land and maritime missions across the world. Customers of these future applications will benefit from access to real-time 5G IoT coverage, dedicated geostationary (GEO) capabilities, specialized frequencies and licenses, and a wider footprint of multiple beams.

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OneWeb Appoints Air Vice-Marshal Chris Moore CBE to its Team

  • 30-year experienced senior Royal Air Force officer chooses OneWeb
  • Specialist in deployable IT infrastructure, military operations, and cyber security
  • Extensive experience of satellite-services in defence operations

London, UK – 8 September, 2021: OneWeb, the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, announced today the appointment of Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Chris Moore CBE as Vice President, International Government and Trade Engagement, to its Government and Regulatory Affairs Team.

From 2017-2021, Chris was the Ministry of Defence (MOD’s) Director of Operations for Defence’s core IT services, leading a 1000-strong organisation responsible for integrating one of the most complicated IT estates in Europe, including corporate IT, military technology, satellite and cloud services, cryptographic distribution, defensive cyber operations and electro-magnetic spectrum management in order to generate competitive military advantage across the full range of global environments.

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Space to Become ‘Most Vital Domain’ For National Security, Say Defense Leaders in New KPMG/Space Foundation Report

  • Content based on interviews with nearly two dozen industry and defense leaders
  • Report determines that space domain partnerships are central to national security
  • Countries are realigning defense organizations to recognize the importance of space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 17, 2021 (Space Foundation PR) — Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocate organization founded in 1983 for the global space ecosystem, in partnership with KPMG International, today released a new report exploring how space will define the future of national security. The report “Navigating Space: A Vision for Space in Defense,” finds that space will likely define the future of national security and as the pace of innovation quickens, defense organizations see space domain partnerships as central to their national security.

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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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UK Space Command Officially Launched

Space Command will protect UK interests and capabilities in Space

HIGH WYCOMBE, UK (UK Ministry of Defence PR) — A special ceremony held at Space Command Headquarters, RAF High Wycombe yesterday marked the official opening of UK Space Command, with the first ‘Space Operator’ Badges presented to personnel.

Space plays a vital role in the Armed Forces ability to undertake the majority of defence tasks, with any disruption to the space domain leading to significant consequences on civilian, commercial, economic and military activity.

The stand-up of Space Command is a crucial step to ensure we protect UK interests in space and builds on the commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper, to invest an additional £1.4 billion on space over the next 10 years. The ability to operate in Space is further enhanced by an increase in Defence funding of £24 billion over the next four years, as announced by the Prime Minister last year.

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UKSpace Praises Government’s Plan to Establish Space Command

BORDON, UK (UKspace PR) — Plans to establish the UK’s own Space Command will “further enhance coordination of the UK military and commercial space operations” according to space industry association UKspace.

During an announcement about increased UK defence spending over the next four years, the Prime Minister said that the new Space Command – which will be a joint services command of the Ministry of Defence, to be established at a Royal Air Force (RAF) base – will protect the UK’s interests in space and control the UK’s first satellite launched from a UK rocket by 2022.

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Defence Secretary Announces Plans for UK Space Command

Ben Wallace

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace Speech at Defence Space Conference 2020
18 November 2020

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace talks about transforming in the new Space Age.

Good afternoon, it’s a great pleasure to speak to you at the end of what has clearly been a fascinating and wide-ranging conference.

The variety of speakers – over 45, from the UK and overseas, and military and civilian sectors, as well as academia and private industry – shows just how important space is, right across today’s society.

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Winners Announced for US/UK Partnered International Space Pitch Day

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF SMC PR) –  U.S Space Force’s Space And Missile Systems Center,  (SMC) along with its partners have announced the winners of International Space Pitch Day (ISPD). Small tech companies and start-ups from multiple countries had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of several U.S., U.K. and N.A.T.O. allied defense leaders on Nov. 16, 2020.

During the event, ten start-ups successfully secured same-day contracts and a slice of the $1M pot, to fast-track the development of their innovations. This marks the first time two nations have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event and the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to foreign companies.

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Virgin Galactic Pivots High-speed Aircraft Program in a Crowded Field

Credit: Douglas Messier

Virgin Galactic’s record of delays and broken promises raises doubts about its ambitious supersonic aircraft project as company founder Richard Branson fights to save his struggling empire in the midst of a global pandemic.

Updated on 10/27/20 at 12:39 p.m. PDT to include spending comparison of Virgin Orbit to Rocket Lab.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s dream of a suborbital Virgin Galactic vehicle zipping passengers between distant cities at hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 (6,174 km/h, 3,836 mph) is dead. At least for now.

In August, the space tourism company he founded pivoted to a slower supersonic Mach 3 (3,704 km/h, 2,302 mph) business jet. Virgin Galactic unveiled a mission concept for an aircraft that would carry 9-19 passengers at a cruising altitude of 60,000 ft (18,288 m).

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Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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“Self-eating” Rocket Wins UK Ministry of Defence Funding

GLASGOW, Scotland (University of Glasgow PR) — A ‘self-eating’ rocket engine which aims to put small payloads into orbit by burning its own structure as propellant has won financial support from the UK Government.

The Defence & Security Accelerator (DASA), part of the Ministry of Defence, has pledged £90,000 [$116,080] for further development of the autophage engine, which is being built at the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering. The development team hope that this new rocket could create launch opportunities at the spaceports emerging across the northern regions of the UK.

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Government Backs UK Companies Tackling Dangerous Space Junk

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Seven UK companies have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.3 million] to help track debris in space

  • Currently there are approximately 160 million objects in orbit – mainly debris – which could collide with satellites vital to services we use every day
  • UK Space Agency and Ministry of Defence sign formal agreement to work together on monitoring threats and hazards in orbit

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) –Seven pioneering projects which will develop new sensor technology or artificial intelligence to monitor hazardous space debris, have been announced today by the UK Space Agency.

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Reaction Engines and Rolls-Royce Announce New Strategic Partnership Agreement

Credit: Reaction Engines

ABINGTON, UK (Reaction Engines/Rolls-Royce PR) — Reaction Engines Ltd and Rolls-Royce plc today announced a new strategic partnership agreement to develop high-speed aircraft propulsion systems and explore applications for Reaction Engines’ thermal management technology within civil and defence aerospace gas turbine engines and hybrid-electric systems.

“We have been working closely with Reaction Engines for the past two years, including exploring the potential of high-Mach systems for defence applications, and I am delighted that we are able to strengthen that relationship,” said Mark Thompson, Director of Global Strategy & Business Development, Rolls-Royce. “This partnership follows our recent announcements with Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic.”

“Reaction Engines’ thermal management skills, added to our suite of existing technologies and capabilities, will further assist us as we explore opportunities in supersonic and hypersonic aviation,” Thompson added. “Building on our many decades of innovation, we will also explore the use of Reaction Engines’ technology within our aerospace gas turbines and its potential application in future hybrid-electric propulsion systems, as we look to make flying ever more efficient and sustainable.”

Additionally, Rolls-Royce is making a further investment in Reaction Engines as part of a wider funding round. The two companies have been working together since 2018, including on the first phase of a UK Ministry of Defence contract to undertake design studies, research, development, analysis and experimentation related to high-Mach advanced propulsion systems.

“This strategic partnership is about developing market ready applications for Reaction Engines’ technology in next generation engines and is a significant step forward for our technology commercialisation plans,” said Mark Thomas, Chief Executive of Reaction Engines. “Our proprietary heat exchanger technology delivers incredible heat transfer capabilities at extremely low weight and a compact size. We look forward to expanding our international collaboration with Rolls-Royce, a global leader in power systems, to bring to market a range of applications that will transform the performance and efficiency of aircraft engines, enable high speed – supersonic and hypersonic – flight and support the drive towards more sustainable aviation through innovative new technologies.”