Airbus has received confirmation from ESA of a successful end to the In Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of CHEOPS after the IOC review on 25 March 2020. This critical phase was performed by Airbus in Spain with the support of the Instrument Team (University of Bern), Mission Operation Centre (INTA), Science Operation Centre (University of Geneva) and ESA.
The IOC phase started on 7th January and over the past two and a half months Airbus has conducted the operations to verify the performance of the satellite (platform and instrument), the ground segment and the science package. During this time the main goal was to consolidate the documentation, processes and procedures for use during the operational phase.
ESA recognised the great job done by the Airbus teams and stated there were no issues preventing routine operations from starting and confirmed hand-over of the mission operations from Airbus to INTA and the mission consortium.
Fernando Varela, Head of Space Systems in Spain, said: «The in-orbit delivery of the CHEOPS satellite is the culmination of the Airbus participation in the programme. It is the first European exoplanetary mission and the first ESA mission built by Airbus in Spain. The professionalism of the technical and engineering teams at Airbus was key to this success».
CHEOPS will be controlled by INTA and the mission consortium (University of Geneva and University of Bern). Nevertheless, Airbus is also ready to assist during the operational phase for the whole mission life.
CHEOPS marks the first time that Airbus in Spain has been the prime contractor for the whole mission, from satellite development, through launch, to LEOP and IOC. The entire mission development was completed in record time without delays and met the very tight budget. To do this, Airbus managed a team of 24 companies from 11 European countries, seven of them Spanish, confirming Airbus as the driving force behind the space industry in Spain.
As a reminder, CHEOPS is the first in ESA’s FAST TRACK missions programme whose main characteristics are low cost and a challenging budget. CHEOPS will characterise exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, observing known planets in the size range between Earth and Neptune and precisely measuring their radii to determine their density and understand what they are made of.
The final steps to fully-enable the ultra-secure, jam-resistant Military Code (M-Code) signal on the Global Positioning System (GPS) are now underway.
As part of the U.S. military’s effort to modernize GPS, the U.S. Space Force has been steadily upgrading its existing GPS Ground Operational Control System (OCS). The Space Force recently announced Operational Acceptance of the GPS Contingency Operations (COps) upgrade, developed by Lockheed Martin. COps enabled control of the operational GPS constellation, now containing 21 M-Code capable GPS satellites, including Lockheed Martin’s first two GPS III satellites, until the next generation OCX ground control system is delivered.
M-Code operational availability on track for 2020
The Space Force’s M-Code Early Use (MCEU) upgrade, delivered earlier this year, will enable the OCS to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation, as well as support testing and fielding of modernized user equipment, prior to the completion of the next-generation ground control systems.
This Spring, work will begin to install the components needed to command and monitor the M-Code encrypted GPS signal, which enhances anti-jamming and protection from spoofing, as well as increases secure access for our forces, into the GPS OCS. M-Code signals are currently available on all the on-orbit GPS IIR-M, IIF and III space vehicles.
A key to enabling M-Code is a new software-defined receiver Lockheed Martin developed and is installing at all six Space Force monitoring sites. The M-Code Monitor Station Technology Capability (M-MSTIC) uses a commercial, off-the-shelf general purpose Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to cost effectively receive and monitor M-Code signals. Operators can monitor the signal as needed. M-MSTIC complements MSTIC’s, which Lockheed Martin developed and fielded to replace aging hardware receivers that were becoming difficult and expensive to maintain.
«Our warfighters depend on GPS signals every day for many critical missions, so anything we can do to make these signals more resistant to jamming and spoofing is extremely important – and available today», said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin Vice President of Navigation Systems. «The more powerful GPS III/IIIF satellites coupled with Lockheed Martin’s upgrades to the GPS ground system are making that possible».
Second GPS III satellite joins GPS Constellation
On March 27, the Space Force declared Operational Acceptance of Lockheed Martin’s second GPS III satellite. Another M-Code enabled satellite, GPS III Space Vehicle 02, «nicknamed Magellan», is modernizing today’s GPS satellite constellation with new 3× greater accuracy and up to 8× improved anti-jamming capabilities. GPS III also provides a new L1C civil signal, compatible with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Europe’s Galileo.
Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to build up to 32 GPS III/GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites to help modernize the GPS constellation with new technology and advanced capabilities. The delivery tempo for these modernized GPS satellites will allow for several launches per year. The third M-code enabled GPS III satellite, named “Columbus,” is expected to launch in April, 2020.
Cyber security significantly hardened with Red Dragon Cyber Security Suite
Cyber defenses across the upgraded GPS system were recently evaluated by a government assessment team and passed the Operational Utility Evaluation. Lockheed Martin delivered the Red Dragon Cybersecurity Suite (RDCSS) Phase III upgrade during the fourth quarter of 2019, dramatically improving Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) visibility into GPS network traffic. Other add-ons include user behavior analytics to analyze patterns of traffic and network taps to improve data collections.
«GPS is an attractive target for our adversaries, so it was critical we bring our best cybersecurity defenses to the table», said Stacy Kubicek, Vice President of Mission Solutions Defense and Security. «Since we began sustaining the Ground OCS in 2013, we have systematically upgraded and replaced software and hardware – it’s now a very secure system».
Lockheed Martin has sustained the GPS Ground OCS since 2013. In November of 2018, the team completed the AEP 7.5 architectural change – replacing the hardware and software to improve resiliency and cybersecurity. In December of 2018, the Air Force awarded Lockheed martin the GPS Control Segment Sustainment II (GCS II) contract to further modernize and sustain the AEP OCS through 2025.
The GPS III team is led by the Production Corps, Medium Earth Orbit Division, at the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, at Los Angeles Air Force Base. The GPS OCS sustainment is managed by the Enterprise Corps, GPS Sustainment Division at Peterson Air Force Base. 2 SOPS, at Schriever Air Force Base, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on March 26 at 4:18 p.m. EDT. This marks the 83rd successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 138th launch for ULA and first mission for the U.S. Space Force.
The AEHF-6 satellite will bring additional capabilities and resilience to the constellation which already ensures «always-on» communications and the ability to transmit data anywhere, anytime. Once on orbit, AEHF-6 will complete the constellation, as well as mark the first launch under U.S. Space Force control. AEHF-6 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket in an Atlas V 551 configuration.
«While this is the final AEHF satellite launch, it really brings the constellation to full strength, capability and truly marks the beginning of the AEHF system’s full lifecycle», said Mike Cacheiro, vice president for Protected Communications at Lockheed Martin. «Still, it is a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, knowing this is our last launch for the AEHF program. Myself, as well as all of the employees who have supported the program at Lockheed Martin are incredibly grateful for our continued partnership with the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center».
AEHF-6 is part of the AEHF system – a resilient satellite constellation providing global coverage and a sophisticated ground control system. Together the constellation provides survivable, protected communications capabilities for national leaders and tactical warfighters operating across ground, sea and air platforms. The anti-jam system also serves international allies to include Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and now Australia.
Lockheed Martin developed and manufactured AEHF-6 at its satellite production facility located in Sunnyvale, California. In January, the satellite shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station courtesy of a Super Galaxy C-5 aircraft from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the AEHF system, and the AEHF team is led by the Production Corps, Medium Earth Orbit Division, at the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission has successfully completed several months of simulated space environment System level testing in the NASA-owned thermal vacuum chamber at Plum Brook Station in Ohio. The tests were conducted in two phases; a 47 day thermal vacuum test and a 14 day electromagnetic compatibility and interference test in ambient conditions which both simulate the conditions the spacecraft will encounter during its voyage to the Moon and back to Earth.
Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus, said: «Today marked an important milestone for the Artemis I mission to the Moon. We proved to our customers ESA and NASA that the European Service Module, designed and built by our engineers in Bremen – supported by companies in 10 European countries – meets the requirements to withstand the harsh conditions in space. The Artemis programme will land the first woman and next man on the Moon and bring them back safely to Earth, we are proud to contribute to this endeavour with all our know-how, expertise and passion».
The engineering teams from Airbus, the European Space Agency (ESA), Lockheed Martin and NASA are pleased with the results of this crucial test, which proves that the spacecraft is suitable to navigate safely through the extreme conditions that it will experience in space.
Orion will be transported back to the Kennedy Space Center to undergo further testing and prepare the spacecraft for integration with the Space Launch System rocket, beginning the next era of exploration.
ESA’s European Service Module built by Airbus under an ESA contract, will provide propulsion, power, air and water for the astronauts, as well as thermal control of the entire spacecraft. Artemis I will travel around the Moon and back to Earth. Airbus in Bremen is already building the second Orion Service Module for Artemis II, where astronauts will fly to the Moon and back to Earth for the first time.
About the European Service Module (ESM)
More than 20,000 parts and components will be installed in the ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support materials for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres/7.46 miles of cables. The first service module, which just finished the thermal-vacuum testing, was delivered to NASA in November 2018. The second service module is currently being integrated and tested by Airbus in Bremen.
During the development and construction of the ESM, Airbus has drawn on its experience as prime contractor for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which provided the crew on board the International Space Station with regular deliveries of test equipment, spare parts, food, air, water and fuel.
The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four meters in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres/62.34 feet across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes/18,960 lbs. of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes/28,660 lbs. In addition to its function as the main propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, the ESM will be responsible for orbital manoeuvring and position control. It also provides the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen, and regulates thermal control while it is docked to the crew module. Furthermore, the service module can be used to carry additional payload(s).
Boeing on January 8, 2020 delivered the core stage of NASA’s first Space Launch System (SLS) deep space exploration rocket, moving it out of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the agency’s Pegasus barge.
The event marks the first time a completed rocket stage has shipped out of Michoud since the end of the Apollo program. SLS Core Stage 1 is the largest single rocket stage ever built by NASA and its industry partners.
The rollout follows several weeks of final testing and check-outs after NASA’s declaration of «core stage complete» during a December 9 Artemis Day celebration at Michoud.
NASA will transport the SLS core stage to its Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in the next few days for «Green Run» hot-fire engine tests later this year. After inspection and refurbishing for launch, the stage moves to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At Kennedy, the core stage will be integrated with the Interim Cryogenic Upper Stage (ICPS) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the moon – the first launch of a human-rated spacecraft to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.
«The Boeing SLS team has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with NASA and our supplier partners to face multiple challenges with ingenuity and perseverance, while keeping safety and quality at the forefront», said John Shannon, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager.
SLS is the world’s most powerful rocket, evolvable and built to carry astronauts and cargo farther and faster than any rocket in history. Its unmatched capabilities will deliver human-rated spacecraft, habitats and science missions to the moon, Mars and beyond as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
«We are applying what we’ve learned from development of the first core stage to accelerate work on core stages 2 and 3, already in production at Michoud, as well as the Exploration Upper Stage that will power NASA’s most ambitious Artemis missions», said Shannon.
By order of Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, effective December 20, Fourteenth Air Force was officially redesignated as Space Operations Command (SPOC).
Air Force military and civilian personnel previously assigned to the Fourteenth Air Force are now assigned to SPOC by virtue of the redesignation action.
The SPOC directly supports the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF’s) mission to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations.
On December 20, President Donald Trump signed the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, officially establishing the USSF as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.
In accordance with a redesignation memorandum for record signed by Barrett, Major General John E. Shaw, former Fourteenth Air Force commander, was redesignated as commander of Space Operations Command; in addition to Shaw’s role as U.S. Space Command’s (USSPACECOM’s) Combined Force Space Component commander.
The SPOC provides space capabilities such as space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing, on behalf of the USSF for USSPACECOM and other combatant commands.
«It is an honor and privilege to lead the U.S. Space Force’s Space Operations Command. Every day, all around the planet, people count on us to make a difference – to provide a space-enabled combat edge to the warfighters that keep our country, our allies, and our partners safe», Shaw said. «We will not let them down».
Additional details about SPOC will be available in early 2020 – highlighting Space Operations Command’s critical roles and responsibilities in support of national security objectives.
The capsule-shaped aeroshell that will protect NASA’s Mars 2020 rover was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida on December 13, 2019. Built by Lockheed Martin, the aeroshell will encapsulate and protect the Mars 2020 rover during its deep space cruise to Mars, and from the intense heat as the entry system descends through the Martian atmosphere to the surface of Mars.
Because of the large mass and unique entry trajectory profile that could create external temperatures up to 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit/2,093 degrees Celsius, the heat shield uses a tiled Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) thermal protection system instead of the Mars heritage Super Lightweight Ablator (SLA) 561V. This will only be the second time PICA has flown on a Mars mission.
«Even though we have the experience of building the nearly identical aeroshell for the Curiosity Rover, the almost 15-foot/4.5-meter diameter composite structure was just as big a challenge to build and test 10 years later», said Neil Tice, Mars 2020 aeroshell program manager at Lockheed Martin Space. «We’ve built every Mars aeroshell entry system for NASA of its 40 years of exploring Mars, so we pulled from that experience to build this important system».
Along with the Curiosity mission, this is the largest aeroshell/heat shield ever built for a planetary mission at 4.5 meters (nearly 15 feet) in diameter. In contrast, the aeroshell/heat shield of the InSight lander measured 8.6 feet/2.62 m and Apollo capsule heat shields measured just less than 13 feet/3.96 м.
The backshell and heat shield were transported from Lockheed Martin’s Waterton facility in Littleton, Colorado where they were built, to nearby Buckley Air Force Base. They were then loaded onto an Air Force transport plane and flown to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Recently, Lockheed Martin integrated the MSL Entry Descent and Landing Instrument (MEDLI2) onto the heat shield and backshell. Provided by NASA’s Langley and Ames Research Centers, MEDLI2 will collect temperature and pressure data during the spacecraft’s descent through the Martian atmosphere.
The Mars 2020 rover is in testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California., which manages the Mars 2020 project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The mission will launch in July 2020 and land on Mars in February 2021 at the Jezero Crater.
A new global, military, satellite-based cellular network designed to revolutionize secure communications for mobile forces is now ready for full operational use in warfighting environments.
The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), developed by prime contractor Lockheed Martin with ground systems provider General Dynamics Mission Systems, was deemed operationally effective, operationally suitable, and cyber survivable, following successful completion of its Multiservice Operational Test and Evaluation (MOT&E). This summer’s rigorous MOT&E, conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, included participation from the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Mobile forces have been conducting early testing and training on MUOS since the network was approved for Early Combatant Command use in July 2016. In August 2018, U.S. Strategic Command approved MUOS for expanded operational use to include non-combat operations – like humanitarian response, disaster relief and further training. The successful MOT&E now makes MUOS’ advanced communications capabilities fully available to the tactical warfare environment.
Comprised of five geosynchronous satellites and four geographically dispersed relay ground stations, the MUOS network brings to mobile forces new, simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system. Users with new MUOS terminals will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid, as well as into the Defense Switched Network. MUOS also has demonstrated successful communication of Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) messages.
«MUOS is a game changer for our troops, providing incredible new voice and data capabilities with near global coverage from satellites that act like cell towers 22,000 miles above the Earth», said Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Military Space line of business. «Imagine leaping in technology from a walkie-talkie to a modern cellular phone with global reach. This is what MUOS is for our troops and its network technology will provide more than 10 times the communications capacity the legacy UHF SATCOM system can provide».
«MUOS will provide a level of voice and data communications capability that warfighters have never had using legacy SATCOM systems», said Manny Mora, vice president and general manager for the Space and Intelligence Systems line of business at General Dynamics Mission Systems. «With voice clarity and data speed rivaling what civilians enjoy on their cellphones, MUOS delivers a tactical communications and operational advantage. Wherever our forces are deployed, MUOS will be there».
Today MUOS’ satellites, built by Lockheed Martin, provide both the advanced, new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform and legacy SATCOM UHF communications signals to support troops as they transition over to the more-versatile cellular network. MUOS’ ground system, built by General Dynamics Mission Systems, has two locations in the United States, one in Australia and one in Europe – each supporting the system’s global, beyond-line-of-sight, narrowband communications reach.
The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence and Space Systems (PEO C4 and Space Systems), and its Communications Satellite Program Office responsible for the MUOS program, are based in San Diego, California.
NASA and Boeing have initiated a contract for the production of 10 Space Launch System core stages and up to eight Exploration Upper Stages to support the third through the twelfth Artemis missions.
Up to 10 additional core stages may be ordered under the contract, leveraging active labor, materials, and facility resources and supply chain efficiencies for production savings.
SLS is NASA’s deep space exploration rocket that will launch astronauts in the 27-metric ton Orion crew vehicle, plus cargo, from Earth to the moon and eventually to Mars. Boeing is the prime contractor for the rocket’s core stage, avionics, and variations of the upper stage. The rocket is designed to be evolvable for missions beyond the moon.
«We greatly appreciate the confidence NASA has placed in Boeing to deliver this deep space rocket and their endorsement of our team’s approach to meeting this unprecedented technological and manufacturing challenge in support of NASA’s Artemis program», said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch division.
«Together with a nationwide network of engaged and innovative suppliers we will deliver the first core stage to NASA this year for Artemis I», Chilton added. «This team is already implementing lessons learned and innovative practices from the first build to produce a second core stage more efficiently than the first. We are committed to continuous improvement as they execute on this new contract».
Boeing designed, developed, tested and built the first SLS core stage under the original NASA Stages contract, including refurbishing the company’s manufacturing area at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, building test versions of the SLS structures, and designing more efficient, modern tooling, all while abiding by stringent safety and quality standards for human spaceflight. The second core stage is simultaneously in production at MAF.
Boeing last year delivered the first upper stage, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion System, built by United Launch Alliance in Decatur, Alabama, for the Block 1 version of the evolvable vehicle. The more powerful Exploration Upper Stage design for the Block 1B version is in development, while the MAF facility is being prepared for that build.
SLS is the only rocket that can carry the Orion, and necessary cargo, beyond Earth orbit in a single mission, making it a critical capability for NASA’s deep-space Artemis program.
«Boeing has implemented advanced manufacturing technologies for design, test, and production of the core stages, which will make both core stage production and upper stage development faster, more efficient, and safer», said John Shannon, Boeing vice president and Space Launch System program manager. «The evolvable nature of the rocket will allow us to onboard new advances in materials and production technologies as we move forward to the moon and on to Mars».
NASA and Lockheed Martin have finalized a contract for the production and operations of six Orion spacecraft missions and the ability to order up to 12 in total. Orion is NASA’s deep space exploration spaceship that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Moon and bring them safely home. Lockheed Martin has been the prime contractor during the development phase of the Orion program.
«This contract clearly shows NASA’s commitment not only to Orion, but also to Artemis and its bold goal of sending humans to the Moon in the next five years», said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. «We are equally committed to Orion and Artemis and producing these vehicles with a focus on cost, schedule and mission success».
The agency’s Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) is an Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contact for NASA to issue both cost-plus-incentive fee and firm-fixed-price orders. Initially, NASA has ordered three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III-V for $2.7 billion. Then in fiscal year 2022, the agency plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI-VIII for $1.9 billion.
OPOC will realize substantial savings compared to the costs of vehicles built during the Design, Development, Test and Evaluation (DDT&E) phase.
Up to six additional Orion spacecraft may be ordered under the IDIQ contract through Sept. 30, 2030, leveraging spacecraft production cost data from the previous six missions to enable the lowest possible unit prices.
The first spacecraft delivered on this contract, Artemis III, will carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon in 2024, where they will dock with the Gateway and ultimately land on the surface using a lunar landing system. Orion is a critical part of the agency’s Artemis program to build a sustainable presence on the lunar surface and to prepare us to move on to Mars.
Reusable Orion crew modules and systems, use of advanced manufacturing technologies, material and component bulk buys and an accelerated mission cadence all contribute to considerable cost reductions on these production vehicles.
«We have learned a lot about how to design and manufacture a better Orion – such as designing for reusability, using augmented reality and additive manufacturing – and we’re applying this to this next series of vehicles. Driving down cost and manufacturing them more efficiently and faster will be key to making the Artemis program a success», said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin Space. «One must also appreciate how unique Orion is. It’s a spaceship like none other. We’ve designed it to do things no other spacecraft can do, go to places no astronaut has been and take us into a new era of human deep space exploration».
Lockheed Martin and NASA recently announced the completion of the Orion crew and service module being developed for the Artemis I mission, an uncrewed mission to the Moon. Work on the spacecraft for the Artemis II mission, the first crewed flight to the Moon, is well underway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.