Space Micro Receives USAF Contract To Develop Air-To-Space Lasercom

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Space Micro PR) — Space Micro, powered by Voyager Space, has been selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) AFWERX program for an award to develop an air-to-space laser communications system.

Under this contract, Space Micro, a leader in space-based laser communications, addresses some of the most challenging air-to-space laser communications problems, which are primarily caused by the regular instability of Earth’s atmosphere. Space Micro’s laser communications products have been developed for commercial and government customers and are now evolving into a key solution for highly directional, long-distance, high-bandwidth telecommunications for air-to-space connective applications.

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SpaceX Receives $102 Million Contract for Military Rocket Cargo Delivery

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded SpaceX a $102 million contract to provide more concrete data on how the company’s reusable Super Heavy/Starship vehicles could be used to rapidly deliver cargo to remote locations on Earth. C4ISRNET reports:

The U.S. Air Force in its fiscal 2022 budget request designated the program one of AFRL’s Vanguard efforts, boosting its profile as a potentially transformational technology. [Program manager Greg] Spanjers told C4ISRNET in an email this week the program represents “a big-bet [science and technology] investment,” noting its designation as a Vanguard effort is a recognition it could offer a “game-changing capability.”

To date, AFRL has awarded several Rocket Cargo contracts for analytics, landing material research, wind tunnel sensors and command-and-control systems development, but this week’s award to SpaceX is the first deal with a launch vehicle provider. According to Spanjers, the lab is engaged with other launch providers and will consider awarding additional contracts later in the program.

Spanjers said the SpaceX work is focused in four areas: collecting data from commercial orbital launches and landings; exploring cargo bay designs compatible with U.S. Transportation Command containers and support rapid loading and unloading; researching landing systems that can operate on a variety of terrain; and demonstrating the heavy cargo launch and landing process.

Capella Space Awarded Commercial Radar Contract By National Reconnaissance Office

Capella will demonstrate high-resolution SAR imagery capabilities as part of the National Reconnaissance Office’s Broad Agency Announcement Framework for Strategic Commercial Enhancements

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 20, 2022 (Capella Space PR) — Capella Space, an information services company providing high-quality, high-speed Earth observation data on demand, today announced a new contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to demonstrate the company’s synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery capabilities. Through this contract, Capella will work with the NRO to provide SAR data modeling and simulation, end-to-end regional imagery responsiveness demonstrations, theater downlink demonstrations and sample imagery delivery.

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Kaboom! ABL Space Destroys Second Stage in Test at Mojave

ABL Space Systems lost a second stage during a test in Mojave on Jan. 19, 2022. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A loud boom echoed across California’s Mojave Desert on Wednesday afternoon. I would normally pay little attention to it given how common such occurrences are in Mojave. But, this one was different: instead of nearly daily boom-boom of jet fighters from nearby Edwards Air Force Base going supersonic, this one was a single large BOOM!

And oh, there was a giant cloud of black smoke rising from the rocket test area at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Someone’s engine test had clearly gone awry.

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NASA Releases Autonomous Flight Termination Unit Software to Industry

The NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit. (Credits: NASA)

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA has provided an advance release of its NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU) software code to the launch industry, a critical milestone toward the final certification of NAFTU, which is on-track for February 2022.

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5 Things to Know About a Pair of Small But Mighty Weather Instruments

The COWVR and TEMPEST instruments are in the truck of a SpaceX Drago cargo spacecraft launched to the International Space Station on Dec. 21, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Launched Tuesday to the space station, the COWVR and TEMPEST two instruments could lead the way to big improvements in gathering key information for weather forecasting.

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Biden Nominates Frank Calvelli to Serve as USAF Assistant Secretary for Space Acquisition

WASHINGTON (White House PR) — Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individual to serve in a key role:

  • Frank Calvelli, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition, Department of Defense

Frank Calvelli, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition, Department of Defense

Frank Calvelli is a senior leader in Booz Allen Hamilton’s national security program, working on space and intelligence initiatives. Prior to joining Booz Allen Hamilton in 2021, he had a 34-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, having spent over 30 years assigned to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) – a joint Intelligence Community/Department of Defense organization responsible for designing, building, launching, and maintaining America’s intelligence satellites.

From July 2012 to October 2020, he was the Principal Deputy Director of the NRO, where he provided overall day-to-day management of the organization and oversaw a large portfolio of space activities that included satellite and ground system acquisition, systems engineering, and satellite mission operations.

During his government career, Calvelli received several awards, including the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Service, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the CIA Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, and the NRO Distinguished Performance Medal.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer science from the State University of New York at Potsdam, and an M.B.A. from Loyola University Maryland. He is married to Melissa Calvelli and has four children. 

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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Air Force Research Laboratory Partners with Google Cloud to Accelerate Collaboration and Drive Research Mission Success

WASHINGTON, D.C. AND DAYTON, OHIO (Google Cloud PR) – Google Cloud announced November 3 that the Air Force Research Laboratory has chosen to deploy Google Workspace as a pilot program among a segment of its workforce of scientists and engineers. The initial deployment has dramatically enhanced engagement with its worldwide network of external research partners.

AFRL is a global research enterprise supporting two services, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force. From laser-guided optics enabling telescopes to see deeper into the universe than ever before, to fundamental science that has spawned innovations in quantum computing and artificial intelligence, AFRL rapidly scales discovery to deliver leading-edge technologies for the military. Core to the success of AFRL’s mission is engaging with world-leading scientists, small businesses, large industry, and other government agencies to build communities that drive innovation.  

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AFRL Selects Deputy Technology Engagement Officer for Space Science and Technology

Dr. Andy Williams, center, Air Force Research Laboratory Deputy Technology Executive Officer for Space Science & Technology, explains the engineering of the Roll-Out-Solar Array, or ROSA, to U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich during a past visit to AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Credit: AFRL)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory has selected Dr. Andrew Williams for the Deputy Technology Engagement Officer for Space Science and Technology (D-TEO), overseeing the lab’s responsibility to carry out the U.S. Space Force mission.

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COSMIC-2 Achieves Full Operational Capability

Diagram shows how COSMIC-2 satellites detect how GPS satellite signals are distorted, or bent, as they travel through the Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) is a network  of six small satellites, each about the size of a standard kitchen oven, designed to improve weather prediction and model accuracy as well as space weather monitoring capabilities.

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Orbit Fab, U.S Air Force Sign CRADA for On-Orbit Refueling Technology

SAN FRANCISCO, October 14, 2021 (Orbit Fab PR) — Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ company, has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space Vehicle Directorate, and the Spacecraft Technology Division to advance on-orbit refueling technology.

Orbit Fab will offer a ubiquitous supply of propellant in Earth orbit. Providing satellites the right fuel, in the right location, when they need it, will enable next generation capabilities for in-space refueling, servicing, assembly and manufacturing. Under the collaboration, Orbit Fab will share technical details and make available its hardware products, such as the RAFTI (The Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) and a cooperative docking guidance solution. The Air Force, in return, will review Orbit Fab’s refueling technologies, advise on requirements and designs, and make available its facilities for advancing performance and qualification. The knowledge exchange will allow Orbit Fab to bring to market its products for both defense users and commercial companies.

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Astra Space Reveals Cause of Launch Failure, Sets Window for Next Flight

Rocket 3.3 makes a wobbly liftoff from Kodiak Island after losing a first stage engine. (Credit: NASASpaceflight.com/Astra Space webcast)

ALAMEDA, Calif., October 12, 2021 (Astra Space PR) – Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) today announced a commercial orbital launch on behalf of the United States Space Force. The launch vehicle, LV0007, will carry a test payload for the Space Test Program’s second mission STP-27AD2. The launch window is divided into two segments: the first segment is open from October 27, 2021 through October 31, 2021, and the second is open from November 5, 2021 through November 12, 2021. LV0007 will launch from the Astra Spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska.

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Tomorrow.io Awarded $19.3 Million U.S. Air Force Contract to Support Company’s First Weather Radar Satellites

Agreement Positions Tomorrow.io to Deliver Data to the Air Force, Other Government Organizations and Commercial Entities. 

Boston, September 30, 2021 (Tomorrow.io PR) – Tomorrow.io, the world’s leading weather intelligence and climate security company, today announced that it was awarded a $19.3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to support deployment of its proprietary radar-equipped weather satellites. The contract paves the way for a first-of-its-kind, commercially-owned constellation of approximately 32 small satellites to provide global coverage of 3-D precipitation and other critical weather and ocean observations, with much faster revisit times than currently available. 

Tomorrow.io will offer data-as-a-service from its spaceborne radars to the U.S. Air Force and other governmental agencies worldwide, while the main use will be direct ingestion into its proprietary modeling suite, which includes numerical weather models, AI-enabled nowcasting and flood forecasting. These cutting-edge models power Tomorrow.io’s Weather Intelligence Platform™, used by hundreds of businesses and organizations to plan for and respond to increasingly extreme weather and climate conditions. 

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Colorado Congressional Delegation Asks Air Force Secretary to Suspend Move of US Space Command to Alabama

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The eight-member Colorado Congressional delegation has asked U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to suspend all activities related to the move of the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) from Colorado Springs to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. pending the completion of two on-going reviews.

“This move undermines our ability to respond to the threats in space and is disruptive to the current mission. Additionally, significant evidence exists that the former president’s political considerations influenced the final decision to relocate USSPACECOM to Redstone Arsenal. As such, we urge you to formally suspend any actions to relocate the USSPACECOM headquarters until the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have completed their respective investigations into the basing decision and you complete your review,” the delegation said in a Sept. 30 letter to Kendall.

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