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(16 August 2020 – Arianespace) On Saturday, August 15 at 22:04 UTC, Ariane 5 Flight VA253 was successfully performed from the Guiana Space Center, orbiting two satellites produced by Northrop Grumman: Galaxy 30 for Intelsat, and MEV-2 for SpaceLogistics, a 100% subsidiary of Northrop Grumman; along with BSAT-4b, built by Maxar Technologies for the Japanese operator B-SAT.

Ariane 5 Flight VA253 launch (courtesy: Arianespace)

“Arianespace is delighted to have served two loyal customers – Intelsat and B-SAT – as well as Northrop Grumman’s subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC,” declared Stéphane Israël, the Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace. “As part of this mission, three satellites were deployed by the most powerful Ariane 5 ever launched, thus demonstrating the competitiveness of our launch solutions and our capability for continuous innovation.”

The Galaxy 30 UHD video distribution/broadcast and broadband satellite, built for global network operator Intelsat, will cover North America.

BSAT-4b will be used for Ultra-High-Definition (UHD, 4K and 8K) direct-to-home television broadcasting across Japan, in conjunction with its twin, BSAT-4a, launched by Arianespace in 2017.

The Arianespace relationship with satellite operators Intelsat and B-SAT has continued for several decades, and has grown stronger over time. Since 1983 – the date of the first mission for Intelsat – Arianespace has launched 61 satellites on behalf of this global operator. For B-SAT, the Japanese operator has entrusted Arianespace with the launch of its entire fleet – a total of 10 satellites.

Flight VA253’s third passenger, the Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2), is a satellite servicing vehicle designed to dock with satellites in orbit. It will provide life extension services. MEV-2’s first customer will be the Intelsat 10-02 satellite, which has been in service in geostationary orbit since 2004 and will have its operational life extended by five years.

The triple-payload launch performed with Flight VA253 to orbit two telecommunications satellites and a servicing spacecraft is a first for Ariane 5.

Another important point: Flight VA253 utilized the Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher, developed and produced by ArianeGroup, which has increased its payload capacity by 85 kg. for this flight with the introduction of a new vehicle equipment bay (VEB) – bringing total capacity for the satellite payloads to 10,200 kg. on missions to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

This Ariane 5 launcher is thereby the most powerful ever operated by Arianespace, marking the culmination of the continuous improvement program for Ariane 5’s performance and competitiveness that was implemented in 2016 by ArianeGroup for the benefit of Arianespace. It has provided a performance gain 300 kg., which continues to be available for customers on Ariane 5 missions planned until the end of the launcher’s operation.

The Ariane 5 launcher is a joint European government-industry program. Arianespace is responsible for marketing and operating Ariane 5 launches from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, with support from teams of the French space agency (CNES) and the European Space Agency (ESA) – which is responsible for the Ariane programs. All industrial activities relating to Ariane 5 are managed by ArianeGroup. This includes the equipment and structures, the manufacturing of engines, integration of the various stages, followed by integration of the complete launcher in French Guiana before its delivery to Arianespace for liftoff.

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 650 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

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Most advanced SBIRS missile warning satellite ready for 2021 launch

Most advanced SBIRS missile warning satellite ready for 2021 launch

(2 December 2020 – Lockheed Martin) Lockheed Martin today announced the U.S. Space Force has determined the fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite (SBIRS GEO-5) is complete and ready for launch in 2021.

Built in a record time and at no additional cost to the government for the upgrade, SBIRS GEO-5 is the first military space satellite built on the company’s modernized, modular LM 2100 combat bus. SBIRS GEO-6, launching in 2022, is also being built on the new bus designed for speed and resilience.

Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS GEO-5 satellite, the first military space satellite built on a modernized LM 2100 combat bus, built in record speed, is ready for a 2021 launch. (courtesy: Lockheed Martin)

“SBIRS’ role as an ever-present, on-orbit guardian against global ballistic missile threats has never been more critical,” said Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Systems. “In 2019 alone, SBIRS detected nearly one thousand missile launches, which is about a two-fold increase in two years.”

“Completing the production of a complex missile-warning satellite during the challenging COVID environment is a huge accomplishment and is a testament to Lockheed Martin’s professionalism and dedication to the security of our Nation,” said Capt. Alec Cook, Space and Missile Systems Center’s SBIRS GEO-5/6 Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations lead.

Both SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 are slated to join the U.S. Space Force’s constellation of missile warning satellites, equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors, which protect our nation 24-7. These sensors collect data that allow the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.

SBIRS GEO-5 was officially completed on Oct. 29, 2020.

LM 2100 Bus: Focuses on Speed and Resiliency

The LM 2100 bus is the result of a Lockheed Martin internally-funded, multi-year modernization initiative. It is designed to provide greater resiliency and cyber-hardening; enhanced spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics; common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing; and a flexible design that reduces the cost to incorporate future, modernized sensor suites.

“We added even further enhanced resiliency features to the LM 2100 to create an initial ‘combat bus’ for the Space Force. SBIRS GEO-5 has proven itself a valuable incremental step towards achieving the resilient missile warning that will be provided by the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 System, the follow-on to SBIRS,” added McCormick.

In June 2015, the Air Force agreed to rebaseline SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 to upgrade both satellites to Lockheed Martin’s modernized LM 2100 bus at no additional cost. From that point, SBIRS GEO-5 was completed in approximately five years, in line with the government’s need to increase production speed and address emerging threats, and still supporting the government’s original 2021 launch date.

Besides SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6, the LM 2100 space vehicle is the baseline for three Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites expecting to launch starting in 2025; and the future GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites, which are expected to launch starting in 2026.

Lockheed Martin is proud to be part of the SBIRS team led by the Production Corps, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Division, at the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Azusa, California, as the payload integrator.

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

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EM Solutions secures second L3Harris order

EM Solutions secures second L3Harris order

(3 December 2020 – EM Solutions) EM Solutions has recently received a second order to supply its Ka-band transceivers for the L3Harris Technologies Panther II Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT).

The new contract, valued at more than $US2M, will deliver over 100 Ka-band transceivers to L3Harris across the first half of 2021.

Ka band transceiver (courtesy: EM Solutions)

EM Solutions CEO Dr Rowan Gilmore, said “We are delighted to have been chosen as the exclusive provider of our latest broadband Ka-band transceivers into the new Panther II program. These transceivers build further upon our core technology that has been supplied over recent years into numerous maritime, airborne and land mobile systems. Based on the latest GaN technology, they cover both the military Ka-band spectrum and commercial Ka-band as well.”

Jerry Adams, general manager of VSAT for L3Harris, said “L3Harris and EM Solutions have been working for several years to perfect a transceiver that had the right size and weight for the Panther II terminal, yet was powerful enough to meet the tough WGS satellite certifications. The new transceiver fits the bill perfectly.”

Adams continued “We are pleased that our collaboration with EM Solutions has yielded such great results, so that our Panther II manpack terminal will remain at the forefront of military satellite communications, globally. The Panther II terminal is the smallest physical terminal in use by the Marines. It can be carried as a manpack and set up by an individual within 10 minutes.”

The contract award to EM Solutions follows an earlier order to supply 50 transceivers that are already being delivered to L3Harris.

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Contract signed for new Copernicus ROSE-L mission

Contract signed for new Copernicus ROSE L mission

(3 December 2020 – ESA) ESA and Thales Alenia Space have today signed a contract to develop the new high-priority Copernicus Radar Observation System for Europe in L-band (ROSE-L) environmental monitoring mission – as part of Europe’s Copernicus programme.

The contract was signed in the presence of Riccardo Fraccaro, Undersecretary of the Italian Prime Minister’s Office, and ESA’s Director General, Jan Wörner.

With launch planned in 2028, ROSE-L will provide continuous day-and-night all-weather monitoring of Earth’s land, oceans and ice, and offer frequent images at a high spatial resolution.

During its 7.5-year lifetime, the ROSE-L mission will realise new information that cannot be gathered by existing satellites or through other means. ROSE-L will deliver essential information on forests and land cover, leading to improved monitoring of the terrestrial carbon cycle and carbon accounting.

The mission will also greatly extend our ability to monitor minute surface displacements and helping detect geohazards. It will automatically map surface soil moisture conditions and monitor sea and land ice, greatly helping climate change research and mitigation.

Radar Observation System for Europe in L-band (ROSE-L) (courtesy: Thales Alenia Space)

From its 690 km polar orbit, ROSE-L will carry an active phased array synthetic aperture radar instrument. The radar antenna will be the largest planar antenna ever built measuring an impressive 11 metres by 3.6 metres – roughly the size of 10 ping-pong tables.

With a contract secured worth €482 million, Thales Alenia Space in Italy is the prime contractor for the mission, with Airbus Defence and Space in Germany responsible for the radar instrument. The industrial team includes 29 companies (including 15 SME’s) from 15 countries.

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, said, “I am extremely glad to sign the ROSE-L contract today. ROSE-L will not only complement the radar capabilities of the current Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, but will also provide a new set of measurements of vegetation, ice and ocean parameters. It will be a key satellite mission to better understand climate change and simulate its impact on humankind.”

The European Commission’s Director-General for Defence Industry and Space, Timo Pesonen, commented, “We are happy to see the signature of the ROSE-L contract today. Its features are expected to respond to several needs we have identified in particular in land management and in ocean monitoring. We look forward to welcoming ROSE-L in the Copernicus Constellation.”

The contract for ROSE-L is the last of the six new high-priority candidate missions to be signed. The six Copernicus high-priority Sentinel Expansion missions are planned to complement the current capabilities of the Sentinels and address EU policy priorities and gaps in Copernicus user needs.

The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data, as well as a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring and natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

Copernicus is the biggest provider of Earth observation data in the world – and while the EU is at the helm of this environmental monitoring programme, ESA develops, builds and launches the dedicated satellites. It also operates some of the missions and ensures the availability of data from third party missions.

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