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Veteran scientist Stefanie Tompkins takes the helm at DARPA

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Before returning to DARPA, Tompkins was vice president for research and technology transfer at the Colorado School of Mines.

WASHINGTON — Stefanie Tompkins on March 15 assumed the top post at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Tompkins is DARPA’s 23rd director.

She is a former military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and previously worked at DARPA for nearly a decade. From 2007 until 2017 Tompkins served as program manager and deputy director of the agency’s Strategic Technology Office, DARPA chief of staff, as director of the Defense Sciences Office and as the acting deputy director of the agency.

As a DARPA program manager, Tompkins led programs in GPS-free navigation and optical component manufacturing.

“Stefanie is someone who really knows and respects the agency and its importance to our national security,” said Peter Highnam, DARPA’s former acting director, who will continue to serve as the agency’s deputy director.

Before returning to DARPA, Tompkins was vice president for research and technology transfer at the Colorado School of Mines. She also held senior positions at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) managing research projects on planetary geology and imaging spectroscopy.

“I am honored and thrilled to return to DARPA, where breakthrough technologies are a near-daily occurrence. Such breakthroughs could not be more consequential for our national security, economic competitiveness, and our personal lives,” Tompkins said in a statement.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/veteran-scientist-stefanie-tompkins-takes-office-as-director-of-darpa/

Aerospace

Airbus launches shake-up of aerostructures activity in Europe

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Airbus launches shake-up of aerostructures activity in Europe

Image: Premium Aerotec

Airbus has provided more details of its industrial shake-up in Europe, primarily regarding aerostructures activities in France and Germany.

The aircraft manufacturer has reaffirmed its intention to build a stronger aerostructures assembly value chain across its industrial system to its social partners, and considers aerostructures assembly as core to its business.

Airbus presented its plans to create two integrated aerostructures assembly companies at the heart of its industrial system in order to reinforce its value stream management and prepare the company for its short- and long-term future.

As part of these plans, and upon successful completion of the ongoing social process, the new company in France would bring together the activities currently managed within Airbus in Saint-Nazaire and Nantes together with those of STELIA Aerospace worldwide.

Related: Aerospace Manufacturing spoke toAirbus’s head of zero emissions about its new zero-emission Hydrogen ZEROe aircraft

Another company in Germany would bring the activities of Stade and Structure Assembly of Hamburg together with those of Premium Aerotec in Nordenham, Bremen and partly in Augsburg, while rebalancing activities towards the upper part of the value chain and reviewing its involvement in the manufacturing of detail parts.

These two new aerostructures assembly companies, both wholly owned by Airbus, would no longer be suppliers to Airbus but become integrated within the Airbus perimeter, simplifying both governance and interfaces in a new industrial setup.

Their distinct status would also enable them to focus on their industry segment and be leaner and more agile, fostering competitiveness, innovation and quality to the benefit of the Airbus programmes of today and tomorrow.

Airbus also intends to create a new global player in the detail parts business, anchored in Germany. Born out of today’s Premium Aerotec, this new entity, with its scale and advanced technologies, would be empowered to capitalise on the significant long-term growth prospects with Airbus as well as external customers, on both civil and military platforms.

In Spain, Airbus continues to work on solutions with its social partners to optimise the current industrial and aerostructures set-up in the Cádiz area in order to ensure its viability, resilience and competitiveness for the future.

www.airbus.com

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Watch live: SpaceX readies for Crew Dragon launch before dawn Friday

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Live coverage of the countdown and flight of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, and Crew-2 astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet on a flight to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically below. Follow us on Twitter.

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OQ Technology secures launches for propriety satellites as connected device market ramps up

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TAMPA, Fla. — OQ Technology, a Luxembourg space startup created to connect internet of things (IoT) devices to 5G technology, has signed a multi-launch deal with rideshare specialist Spaceflight to loft its own small satellites.

The company has been running tests on satellites owned by Denmark’s Gomspace, demonstrating narrowband spectrum capabilities on the 3GPP standards used by terrestrial wireless providers.

OQ Technology’s first satellite will launch this year, according to founder and CEO Omar Qaise, followed by another in the 2021/2022 timeframe to provide “latency tolerant” services.

Those services, supported by hosted payloads on other satellites, will be for customers that do not need more than a few updates from sensors per day. Agriculture customers, for instance, that can wait a few hours for data about humidity or soil temperature.

OQ Technology announced April 6 that Lithuania-based NanoAvionics is building a satellite called MACSAT, based on its flagship 6U cubesat buses and equipped with S-band transceivers.

Qaise said OQ Technology’s Spaceflight agreement covers the launch of six more satellites in 2022. He said it will pick a manufacturer for those spacecraft in the middle of this year. 

The agreement includes an option for Seattle-based Spaceflight to arrange the launch of a second batch of satellites, which OQ Technology has earmarked for the end of 2022 or the start of 2023 to improve capacity and latency.

OQ Technology envisages a constellation of more than 60 spacecraft in total.

The venture expects to have “real-time coverage everywhere by 2024. In fact we are already in talks with oil and gas, and mobile telecom companies to provide service trials,” according to Qaise.

He told SpaceNews early customers are mostly in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America, although it is planning trials in the United States where it is considering expanding.

There is a bigger market for “real-time and latency intolerant applications,” Qaise added, including tracking smart cars, commanding and monitoring drones, telematics and alarms for fire or leak detection on oil pipes.

Qaise declined to say how much financing it has secured to date, but said “it is a mix between private funding and revenues from government and institutional contracts.”

Private investors from the United Arab Emirates are also supporting the startup.

IoT rush

OQ Technology is one of dozens of small satellite IoT startups that are racing to expand their services.

A flurry of IoT satellites launched in the last week of March, including inaugural satellites for two startups: Spain-based Sateliot and Australia’s Myriota.

Sateliot expects to begin offering commercial services next year, and like OQ Technology its network will work with 5G IoT standards used by terrestrial telcos.

Qaise said its satellites will be larger and more powerful than Sateliot’s, and will also have a first-mover advantage after earlier tests with its own patented technology. 

To accelerate market access and widen its geographical coverage, he said OQ Technology is also exploring partnerships with geostationary (GEO) satellite operators.

Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek said in August it had successfully tested narrowband IoT technology over Alphasat, the L-band satellite that U.K-based Inmarsat operates in GEO.

U.S. startup Skylo emerged from stealth in early 2020, with $116 million funding, to develop technology to connect IoT sensors to existing GEO satellites.

“In the end we should have a network of our own LEO satellites, hosted payloads, and partner GEO satellites to provide reliable and continuous 5G IoT coverage for users anywhere in the world,” Qaise said.

“I cannot comment on who we are talking with but we are starting to reach out to operators.”

Smallsat IoT companies have moved from design plans to real commercial service in the last couple of years, Northern Sky Research senior analyst Alan Crisp noted.

In addition to recent satellite launches, Crisp said an increasing number of partnerships are targeting specific applications, such as mining and agriculture, are also moving ahead.

“With these launches and partnerships, it is clear that smallsat IoT isn’t only gaining momentum, it is accelerating,” he told SpaceNews.

“And with each new satellite launched, reduced latency and higher quality of service is achieved, resulting in a more desirable product with each launch. Pricing isn’t quite as originally promised, yet these price points compared to existing satellite IoT services will open up a whole new market opportunity.” 

Smallsat IoT will grow to more than five million satellite terminals by 2029, according to the baseline scenario in NSR’s latest report on the market. 

“With so many potential smallsat IoT constellations being planned in the coming years, NSR’s high growth scenario identifies 15 million satellite terminals in 2029 should more of these constellations become fully launched,” Crisp said. 

“Smallsat IoT really does have the potential to expand the satellite market to a whole new type of customer.”

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Boeing delivers next F-15EX to US Air Force ahead of schedule

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Boeing delivers next F-15EX to US Air Force ahead of schedule

A Boeing-led industry team has delivered a second F-15EX fighter aircraft to the US Air Force earlier than the contract requirement.

The result of a collaboration across industry, the US Air Force and the Air National Guard, the F-15EX is a ready-now replacement for the F-15C that includes an all-new digital infrastructure.

“Moving from contract award to delivery in a matter of months enables the U.S. Air Force to get a head start on flight testing and demonstrates our commitment to exceeding expectations,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 programme manager. “Along with state-of-the-art avionics and survivability suite, the new F-15EX includes almost 3 miles of high-speed digital data bus to enable open architecture, which will keep it evolving ahead of threats for decades.”

The second F-15EX arrived at Eglin Air Force Base to begin testing with the first EX that was delivered last month.

In July 2020, the US Air Force awarded Boeing an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract for up to 200 F-15EXs to replace the undefeated but aging F-15C. The Air Force has announced initial basing locations in Florida and Oregon.

“Delivering the F-15EX to defend our freedom is a source of intense pride for the Boeing and industry team,” said Kumar.

www.boeing.com

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