Aug 05, 2012 19:51 UTC
Dream Chaser & Atlas V
With the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, American manned missions to the International Space Station have mostly involved Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft, which costs about $63 million per seat. The lone exception has involved the commercial space innovator SpaceX, whose unmanned Dragon capsule docked at the ISS in May 2012. NASA continues to pursue its own Space Launch System heavy rocket and Orion capsule for manned spaceflight, but in the mean time, its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program aims to spur development of lower-cost American options that could supplant or supplement Soyuz.
These “space taxis” will rely on heavy-lift rockets to make it into space. Their purpose isn’t military, but their configurations are good news for the USA’s space industrial base. SpaceX has a slot, of course, and the other 2 winning entries will use Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V EELV. Overall, 7 firms entered, and the 3 winners are:
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Jul 29, 2012 17:37 UTC
Latest updates[?]: New channelizer explained; WGS-10 ordered.
The US military needs a bigger data firehose. In an era of streaming data from proliferating UAVs and other persistent surveillance platforms, and the need for control of those systems anywhere in the world, bandwidth is almost as important as fuel. Commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) can fill some of the gaps, but it’s expensive, and may not be available when needed. The Wideband Gapfiller SATCOM (now Wideband Global SATCOM) program began as a way to ease these problems in the near term, but went on to become one of the twin pillars of US military communications, alongside the hardened AEHF constellation. Both satellite types expanded their roles after the super-high bandwidth T-SAT program was canceled. instead, the USA is adding WGS and AEHF satellites in space, even as it makes both programs multi-national efforts here on earth.
WGS is a set of 13-kilowatt spacecraft based on Boeing’s model 702 commercial satellite. These satellites will handle a significant portion of the USA’s warfighting bandwidth requirements, supporting tactical C4ISR(command, control, communications, and computers; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance); battle management; and combat support needs. Upon its 2007 launch into geosynchronous orbit, WGS Flight 1 became the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest capacity communication satellite. WGS F4, launched in January 2012, offers further improvements, as do satellites from WGS F8. The constellation is set to grow to 10, including international participation.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article covering the WGS program’s specifications, budgets, travails, international partnerships, and contracts, with links to additional research materials.
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Jul 22, 2012 20:14 UTC
The Israeli Air Force has known since December 2008 that its fleet of A-4 Skyhawk jet trainers and light attack aircraft would leave service. It took until July 2012 to sign a contract for the Skyhawk’s successor, despite justifiable complaints from South Korea that the process lacked full professional formality. The first M-346 Master trainers should begin arriving in Israel around mid-2014, where they will be operated by the IAI/Elbit “TOR” joint venture as a public-private partnership service to the IAF.
Italy’s M-346 eventually beat KAI’s supersonic T-50, thanks to a combination of air force evaluations, geo-political considerations, and countervailing industrial offers. For most countries, “industrial offsets” mean sub-contracting work in their country, sometimes even in sectors of their economy outside of the defense industry. Israel’s weapons industry is far more developed, however, and so their advanced trainer competition saw “industrial offsets” as the purchase of full-fledged Israeli weapons systems. South Korea was already a customer for Israeli radars, UAVs, and missiles, and was seen as the favorite thanks to their relationships and their jet. Italy was a much smaller customer, but relations between Silvio Berlusconi and the Jewish state had been good for a long time. By October 2011, reports surfaced that Italy had made Israel a very impressive offer – one that would make Italy a major export customer for strategic systems, even as it equalized purchases on both sides. In the end, it was an offer the Israelis couldn’t, and didn’t, refuse.
The deal’s components are as follows:
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Dec 07, 2011 16:15 UTC
Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA recently received a $92.2 million cost-plus-award-fee contract to continue service under the 5-year,sole source MILSATCOM Orbital Operations and Logistics Support contract. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, CA, and the contract will run to Nov 30/12. The SMC/PKL at Peterson Air Force Base, CO (FA8808-10-C-0002, PO 0029).
That contract support operations and sustainment for older Milstar and Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) satellites. New secure AEHF broadband satellites are just beginning to come on station to supplement the older Milstar birds, and the 1st block of broadband WGS satellites is operational as the successors to DSCS, but maintaining older systems is also important to the US military. See December 2009 coverage for more details.
Nov 28, 2011 12:23 UTC
Latest updates: NPP interim satellite; DWSS testing; NPP Launch and data transmission.
The National Polar-orbiting Observing Satellite System (NPOESS) was a joint program of the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce and NASA to replace less sophisticated weather satellites that are expected to fail over the next several years. It would help develop 3-7 day weather forecasts for civilian and military purposes, including weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Unfortunately, the program ended up billions over budget, and 6 or more years late. Some gaps in coverage are possible during that time, if enough older satellites fail.
In November 2005 testimony given at a House of Congress Science Committee hearing, the Administrator of NOAA and the Undersecretary of the Air Force promised new cost and schedule estimates and policy options, as well as fuller and more rapid information. NPOESS was openly described as “a program in crisis.” Just under 5 years later, that crisis came to an end with a program split into civilian (JPSS) and military (DWSS) systems, and a 5-year NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite that will test key instruments and serve as a capability bridge:
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Sep 06, 2011 20:28 UTC
In physics, a moire pattern is an interference pattern created, for example, when two grids are overlaid at an angle, or when they have slightly different mesh sizes. It’s an appropriate name for DARPA’s Membrane Optic Imager Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) project, which aims to use diffractive optic membranes to conduct tactical video surveillance from space. That’s very useful when looking at territory where an intruding UAV is likely to be shot down, or when conducting operations to find, say, mobile SCUD missiles within a large potential area.
Making that happen involves a 20-meter diameter optic membrane surveying an area of more than 10 x 10 km at least once a second, with ground resolution better than 2.5 meters, and the ability to detect moving vehicles. Field of regard would be larger, of course, at 10 million square kilometers that could be covered from geosynchronous orbit. Finally, satellite cost also has to come in at under $500 million per copy. How hard could all that be? Hard enough for DARPA, apparently…
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