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Space Force stands up operations command in Colorado Springs

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The Space Operations Command, or SpOC, will be led by Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force on Oct. 21 is standing up its first field command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. 

The Space Operations Command, or SpOC, will be led by Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting. He will officially assume command in a ceremony Wednesday.

The SpOC will be responsible for organizing, training and equipping space forces assigned to combatant commands that conduct military operations around the world.

An existing SpOC at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, will be re-designated as SpOC West and will continue to conduct operations in support of combatant commanders, said Space Force spokesperson Lynn Kirby.

“Space Operations Command is the field command responsible for organizing, training and equipping forces to conduct space operations, and SpOC West is responsible for executing those missions,” Kirby said.

The Colorado-based SpOC is one of three major field commands under the U.S. Space Force.

A Space Systems Command will be stood up sometime in 2021 to oversee the development and acquisition of technologies. The third field organization will be the Space Training and Readiness Command — to be based at Peterson Air Force Base — responsible to educate and train space professionals.

Source: https://spacenews.com/space-force-stands-up-operations-command-in-colorado-springs/

Aerospace

2020 SpaceNews Awards Virtual Event

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• Winners announced live

• Panel discussion with 2020 honorees

Join us Monday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. Eastern as we reveal the winners of the 2020 SpaceNews Awards for Excellence & Innovation.

This one-hour live event features a panel discussion with four of this year’s honorees. You won’t want to miss this lively discussion of 2020’s key accomplishments and what lies ahead for civil, commercial and military space.

Panelists:
• Government Leader of the Year
• Company Leader of the Year
• Large Company of the Year (key executive)
• Startup of the Year (key executive)

Host:
• SpaceNews Editor-in-Chief Brian Berger

Moderators:
• Jeff Foust, SpaceNews senior staff writer
• Sandra Erwin, SpaceNews national security reporter
• Debra Werner, SpaceNews correspondent

Registration required for this free event.


Source: https://spacenews.com/2020-spacenews-awards-virtual-event/

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave agency in January

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SAN FRANCISCO — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who oversaw the agency’s work to streamline space-related regulation, announced plans to leave his post Jan. 20, 2021.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me.  To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege.”

During Pai’s tenure, the FCC streamlined satellite licensing regulations for commercial space startups and established rules for the upcoming auction of 300 megahertz of satellite C-band spectrum for 5G cellular network operators, prompting 13 orders for new C-band satellites.

“It’s also been an honor to work with my fellow Commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda,” Pai said in a statement. “Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety. ”

While Pai was chairman, the FCC also announced plans to award $20 billion in broadband subsidies under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and granted Ligado Networks permission to deploy a low-power broadband network opposed by commercial satellite operators, the U.S. Defense Department and the Commerce Department due to concern it would disrupt GPS signals.

Source: https://spacenews.com/ajit-pai-to-leave/

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SES to provide satellite connectivity for U.S. military ‘internet of things’

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SES has been tapped to provide satellite-based communications for the Advanced Battle Management System.

WASHINGTON — Satellite communications provider SES Government Solutions announced Nov. 30 it was selected by the U.S. Air Force to join the pool of vendors that will compete for contracts to build the military internet of things.

SES will compete to provide communications services for the Advanced Battle Management System program, or ABMS — an Air Force project that seeks to connect weapon systems and command centers so they can share data. ABMS is one piece of a larger Pentagon effort to build a military internet of things known as Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control. 

The Air Force requested $302 million for ABMS in fiscal year 2021, with projected funding of $3.2 billion over the next five years. A large group of vendors from across the defense, aerospace and tech industries have been selected so far to compete for up to $950 million worth of individual task orders the Air Force plans to award as it continues to test and develop the ABMS.

SpaceX’s Starlink and SES have been tapped to provide satellite-based communications for the ABMS. Starlink’s space internet is in low-Earth orbit, whereas SES has satellites in geosynchronous and medium-Earth orbit. 

“The commercial satcom we’ve seen is highly appealing to us,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisitions. 

The idea is to make ABMS an open architecture and to use commercial systems to link, for example, military combat aircraft that currently can’t pass information to other systems. The Air Force wants to be able to move data seamlessly from sensors to weapons systems and to cloud computing environments so information can be analyzed. 

Roper told reporters Nov. 24 that the ABMS architecture has been in the works for 18 months and that the Air Force will continue to conduct new demonstrations known as “on-ramps” over the coming years. 

He said ABMS will be a top priority for the Air Force, but it’s a challenging program that has many moving parts and is incompatible with the rigid military procurement system. “The internet of things has happened all around us but has not happened for the military,” said Roper. “The acquisition system we’ve inherited does not deal well with cross-cutting capabilities nor with capabilities that continually update.”

Roper directed in a memo Nov. 23 that the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office will be responsible for integrating and fielding ABMS technologies. The RCO manages some of the Air Force’s most cutting-edge programs such as the X-37B spaceplane and the B-21 stealth bomber. 

Source: https://spacenews.com/ses-to-provide-satellite-connectivity-for-u-s-military-internet-of-things/

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Launchspace Technologies proposes debris mitigation and collection constellations

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Launchspace Technologies continues to refine its concept for establishing one constellation of satellites to track objects in orbit and a second to collect debris over the equator.

Since the company unveiled plans in 2017 to send Debris Collection Units into equatorial orbits, Launchspace Technologies has conducted a study funded by the U.S. Air Force, signed a NASA Space Act Agreement and won support from Airbus for its plan to test technology on the International Space Station’s Bartolomeo platform.

“We are positioning ourselves for the time when orbital debris becomes a real problem,” said Marshall Kaplan, Launchspace Technologies chief technology officer. “One of these days soon, we’re going to find out that we’re losing satellites at a rapid rate because of debris. At that point, it will be critical to address the debris problem because if we allow it to continue, we will lose access to space altogether.”

For Launchspace Technologies, the first task is developing a constellation of satellites equipped with sensors into equatorial low-Earth orbit to keep track of other satellites in low-Earth and geostationary orbit in addition to monitoring orbital debris and other threats, said John Bauman, Launchspace Technologies CEO.

The company plans to sell subscriptions to the data it acquires with its initial constellation to customers interested in space domain awareness, space traffic management and orbital debris mitigation, Bauman added.

Launchspace Technologies plans to establish a second constellation of satellites operating be-tween 600 and 1,200 kilometers to collect pieces of orbital debris large enough to hurt satellites but too small to be tracked with ground-based sensors.

The debris collector satellites will be designed to move out of the way to dodge active satellites and large debris, while capturing small debris, Bauman said.

Kaplan has applied for and been granted patents related to this work. In early 2020, for example, Kaplan was granted a patent to equip satellites with radial thrusters “to evade threats, such as orbital debris and/or hostile spacecraft without losing its relative position within a satellite constellation or experiencing the diminished services often attendant such maneuvers,” according to the patent.

Launchspace Technologies signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in April to identify promising materials for collecting debris.

Kaplan envisions “a combination of plates with some filler material between the plates to absorb a lot of the energy.”

Launchspace Technologies plans to test its multilayer debris-collection technology for 12 months on Bartolomeo beginning in 2022. Airbus, which developed Bartolomeo and operates it with European Space Agency support, called the Launchspace Technologies demonstration mission “a bold step toward advancing the state of the art for debris collection and mitigation technologies and techniques,” in a Sept. 15 letter to Bauman.

Under the terms of the contract, Launchspace Technologies is paying fees to house its technology on Bartolomeo, but Airbus is not charging the company for transportation, astronaut crew time and other ISS resources.

Robert Walker, former House Science Committee chairman and former executive chairman of the Washington lobbying firm Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, began working with Launchspace Technologies to rally support for the company’s work.

Now, Walker, who founded moonWalker Associates in 2019, has joined the Launchspace Technologies board.

“I think the concept that they have is absolutely correct,” Walker said. “At the highest level both in the military and at NASA, no one has any real objections to this program. We are getting positive signals from the government, but we haven’t found an agency that’s prepared to step up with funding yet.”

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 16, 2020 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

Source: https://spacenews.com/launchspace-technologies-proposes-debris-mitigation-and-collection-constellations/

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