NanoRacks Racks Up Another International Educational CubeSat Mission on the International Space Station

When CubeSats were first introduced they were a new concept, and now they are a thriving business for NanoRacks which has reached its successful fifteenth CubeSat Deployment mission from the Company’s commercially developed platform on the International Space Station. Recently they released five CubeSats into low-Earth orbit, making it NanoRacks’ one hundred and ninetieth CubeSat released from the Space Station, and the two hundred and twenty eighth small satellite deployed by NanoRacks overall. 

The CubeSats deployed were launched to the Space Station on the sixteenth contracted resupply mission for SpaceX from the Kennedy Space Center in December 2018.

NanoRacks offers an affordable launch opportunity, payload manifesting, full safety reviews with NASA, and managed on-orbit operations that provides an end-to-end solution that met all customer needs.
 
The satellites deployed and their timestamps were:

CAT-1/CAT-2: 10:25 GMT/4:25 CST
Delphini-1: 12:00 GMT/6:00 CST
UNITE: 13:40 GMT/7:40 CST
TechEdSat-8: 16:45 GMT/10:45 CST

UNITE and TechEdSat-8 were both selected for flight by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and were the two satellites launched for the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites-21 (ELaNa-21) mission complement, sponsored by the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP). 
 

The CubeSat Assessment and Test (CAT-1, CAT-2) investigations are being led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and use two commercial off-the-shelf spacecraft to support a government furnished equipment communications experiment.
 
And lastly, the Delphini-1 CubeSat comes from Aarhus University in Denmark, the University’s first-ever satellite. This proof of concept mission was created under a team effort of the University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, and Geoscience.
 
“Once again we are demonstrating the diverse CubeSat market that exists today” says External Payloads Manager, Henry Martin. “NanoRacks satellite deployment platforms enable affordable opportunities for everyone from high school, to the university level, to the professional researchers at the Applied Physics Laboratory. The International Space Station is the perfect testbed for those that are new to space and to those that have a long history in orbit, and having such frequent access and opportunity continues to open the door to a growing space marketplace.”
 

 

On the SmallSat Symposium Show Floor: KenCast to Demo Their Fazzt Platform

At the SmallSat Symposium 2019, February 4-7, in Mountain View, California, KenCast will demonstrate the latest KenCast Fazzt platform the company is bringing to market to enable secure, hi-reliable, cost-effective content delivery on the pending future satellite networks to fixed sites and vehicles-on-the-move.

The current dramatic changes — in satellite (HTS GEO, MEO, and LEO constellations) and terrestrial networking and cloud storage —- bring new operational capabilities and content delivery application opportunities on a global scale that have never been available before.  KenCast has continually enhanced their Fazzt content delivery platform over the last 25 year by extensive work for, and with feedback from, our major military, public safety, cinema industry, commercial, financial institution, lodging, and digital signage customers.

KenCast’s customers include:

  • DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency)
  • Hollywood/DCDC
  • The New York City Fire Department
  • NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration)
  • and others…

For these delivery applications, KenCast offers a wide range of products and services:

  • Optimal deployment and operation of these new satellite networks,
  • Customizing solutions to each customer’s requirements
  • Planned enhanced capabilities — remotely deployed periodically and repeatedly updated
  • Support for new hybrid networking opportunities, as these options arise, from constantly improving:
  • GEO
  • NGOS (MEO, LEO, Nanosatellite)
  • CDNs
  • Fiber, Laser 
  • Antennas

KenCast’s engineering expertise and services include:

  • Network Design and Optimization,
  • Cyber-Security plan, implementation, and service,
  • Staff training,
  • Remote IT monitoring and support services.

 

Teledyne Paradise Datacom and Infostellar Create Interoperability Between Stellar Station and QubeFlex LEO Modem.

Infostellar and Teledyne Paradise Datacom (Paradise), part of the Teledyne Defense Electronics Group, have announced the interoperability of Infostellar’s ground station sharing platform, StellarStation, with the groundbreaking QubeFlex™ LEO satellite modem, a flagship product of Paradise.

Infostellar and Paradise aim to provide LEO Satellite operators and ground station owners with a single seamless system able to integrate with existing ground stations by installing StarPass, Infostellar’s sharing device, at the ground station site. This device provides a link between the ground station hardware and StellarStation, which in turn allows Infostellar to rent unused antenna idle time from ground stations and supply it to satellite customers.

This interoperability between the QubeFlex™ modem and StellarStation bridges an “access gap” in the current market.  It enables a much larger swath of smaller end users globally to affordably access CubeSat data, without a capital investment in earth station equipment, while also giving ground station operators the opportunity to sell unused capacity.

Executive Comments

Andrew Young, Head of Ground Systems Engineering at Infostellar, said the QubeFlex Satellite Modem is the first off-the-shelf satellite modem the company has seen that was designed specifically for CubeSat and smallsat users. This, along with its track record of interoperability with a variety of CubeSat transmitters, is the reason Infostellar has added support for this product to the firm’s StarPass device.

Paul McConnell, Business Development Director for Paradise, noted that interoperability between space assets and ground segment has always been important to users. StellarStation takes the concept of interoperability a step further and together with Q-Flex provides a seamless, quick and flexible ground solution for new space.

Myriota’s IoT Product Uses Low Cost Earth-To-Satellite Comms Technology

Satellite communications company Myriota has announced the first of a string of commercial products that will use their low-cost Earth-to-satellite transmission technology.

The South Australian company has partnered with fellow Australian business Davey Water Products to add its Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to Davey’s TankSense product range, enabling farmers to receive water level data direct to their mobile phones. The product is expected to be commercially available in the second half of the year and will be the first mass-market water-level sensor to be connected via Myriota’s low-cost earth-to-satellite transmission technology. It will help farmers manage water usage and monitor livestock water supply in areas where cellular networks are unreliable or unavailable.

Myriota CEO Dr. Alex Grant said the product would benefit farmers who had faced exorbitant costs for satellite connectivity in the past or struggled to reliably monitor their water systems via existing technology. “Our technology removes the need for farmers to rely on cellular networks with patchy coverage, or spend large sums of money to connect to high-cost satellites,” hetsaid. “We’re excited that this partnership will lower the cost of water management in locations that up until now have had no cost effective way of retrieving data.”

Myriota launched their next generation of technology on Spaceflight’s SmallSat Express mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 late last year.

Myriota Business Development Executive Tom Rayner said the Davey Water Products sensor was the first of a number of new product announcements the company expected to make in the coming weeks. He said while agriculture was an important industry for Myriota, the company was also working on products for utilities metering, environmental monitoring, defence and in the asset tracking and logistics space.

We’re working with dozens of companies across a whole range of industry verticals and there are quite a few products in development,” Rayner said. “This is the first one we’ve announced and given the profile of Davey it’s one that we’re quite pleased about.”

Myriota has been scaling up since the company was spun out of the University of South Australia in 2015 and last year raised $15 million through a Series A funding round, with Boeing HorizonX Ventures among the contributors.

Rayner said 2019 would be the year the company’s products hit the mass consumer market. He said demand for the Davey product would be strong among farmers in Australia’s vast Outback and globally. “It’s a huge issue for people in Australian agriculture that they don’t have access to reliable, low-cost communications infrastructure, particularly for these IOT applications where the cost has to be ultra-low to make them work so we see a lot of demand here,” Rayner said. “But anywhere that you can’t justify the installation of a terrestrial-based tower this technology has got a place so we’ve already had strong demand for this product in North and South America, Asia and New Zealand — it really is global.”

Davey’s sensors are bolstered by their inbuilt AI capability, which rely on algorithms to increase the accuracy of predictions around when a tank will run out of water.

Davey Water Products General Manager Innovation Joel Gresham said the combination of the TankSense product with Myriota’s technology would provide a world first in terms of communicating with remote locations. “We launched the first AI driven monitoring and control app for tank water management last year and now, we’re embarking on another world first,” Gresham said. “Thanks to Myriota’s low cost satellite technology, farmers who have traditionally needed to manually check their tanks will now be able to monitor their assets seamlessly from any location.”

South Australia has been a major player in the nation’s space industry and is home to major Tier 1 defence companies and several emerging space start-ups. In December, the state’s capital Adelaide was announced as the home of Australia’s new space agency. Meanwhile, another Adelaide-based IOT space company Fleet yesterday announced in Amsterdam their plan to connect 1 million LoRaWAN devices around the globe for $2 per device per year.

Myriota uses exactEarth’s LEO satellite constellation for their connectivity solutions.

Story is authored by Andrew Spence of The Lead.

Kratos Successfully Commands Spacecraft Using the U.S.A.F.’s Enterprise Ground Services Framework

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: KTOS) has commanded an on-orbit spacecraft using the U.S. Air Force’s Enterprise Ground Services (EGS) framework.


The CCS-C provided consolidated MILSATCOM tracking, telemetry and command capability for 14th Air Force / 50th Space Wing launch and early orbit, on-orbit and anomaly resolution operations.
Photo is courtesy of the U.S.A.F.

This demonstration directly follows on the heels of three successful pathfinder studies announced earlier by Kratos for migrating the Command and Control System – Consolidated (CCS-C) ground system to the EGS architecture. CCS-C provides consolidated MILSATCOM tracking, telemetry and command capability for 14th Air Force and the 50th Space Wing.

The Kratos demonstration supports the U.S. Air Force’s strategic approach to implementing a common, service-based satellite ground infrastructure that will evolve current satellite ground systems into a single platform.  EGS is a critical enabling technology that is focused on a sustainable, resilient space architecture that can respond to emerging threats and protect space-based assets.

Kratos EGS software and services commanded an on-orbit spacecraft and demonstrated multiple capabilities supporting the EGS framework. These included the EGS service paradigm and dynamically allocating satellite ground resources and executing deployment automation with the ability to spin up new satellite command and control instances in less than 10 minutes.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a method of estimating technology maturity of critical technology elements of a program during the acquisition process. Evidence of TRL 8 was proven in the following ways:

  • Kratos Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software natively mapped into the EGS service paradigm.
  • The deployment automation solution was shown to work on two different vendor technology stacks.
  • Kratos EGS integration software completely decoupled each EGS service from all other services using the NASA Goddard GMSEC message bus.  
  • Kratos COTS software was utilized to demonstrate the implementation of EGS services including Telemetry and Command Processing, Automation, User Experience, Orchestration and a Range Interface.

TRL 8 readiness means that the actual system was completed and mission qualified through test and demonstration in an operational environment. 


Artistic rendition of the Altair Pathfinder satellite. Image is courtesy of Millennium Space Systems.

The entire test and demonstration was accomplished working cooperatively with Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing company, and their on-orbit Pathfinder spacecraft, Swedish Space Corporation with their worldwide ground antenna network and the U.S. Air Force’s Space Management Battle Lab (SMBL) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Executive Comment

Larry Lind, VP of Kratos Federal Program, said these capabilities are critical to achieving a resilient EGS and the agility needed to survive the new realities of space. In the past, the demonstration of a new satellite ground command and control station has taken months and, in many cases, years to execute. The test and demonstration of this first live contact run out of the Space Mission Battle Lab was made possible in less than three weeks and its success validated TRL 8 readiness of Kratos EGS technology.

C-COM Satellite Systems’ First Electronically Steerable Phased Array Antenna and a Big Speaker at SmallSat Symposium

C-COM Satellite Systems was… is… and will continue to be a busy company based upon their expertise in the world of antennas.

The company’s history reveals why they are thriving today as a result of their past forays in the realm of antennas. C-COM Satellite Systems are pioneers in the manufacturing of motorized antenna systems for the delivery of broadband internet to any location via satellite. 

The company manufactures its iNetVu® brand in Driveaway (vehicle mount), Flyaway (transportable), Manpack (backpack) and FMA (fixed motorized) format. Currently there are more than 8,000 systems deployed in over 100 countries.

That was then and this is now … where their latest endeavor finds them in partnership with the University of Waterloo creating its first Electronically Steerable Phased Array Antenna. C-COM tested its Ka-band, chip-based modules using the company’s patent-pending phase shifter technology in the summer of 2016. The proof of concept prototype is expected to come out in 2019.


Drew Klein

Coming from Ontario, Canada, to the SmallSat Symposium in California’s Silicon Valley, will be Drew Klein, the Director of International Business Development for C-COM Satellite. Klein will be a participant in a panel about Antennas Tracking and Phased Array Antennas on Wednesday, February 6th, 12:15 pm. 

Drew is responsible for the sales and marketing departments at C-COM and directs the promotion of the iNetVu®mobile antenna, the auto-deploy and fully motorized VSAT solution. 

Prior to joining C-COM in 2010, Drew worked in Los Angeles for 10 years where he was the President of a national commodity brokerage firm. The company’s key business line was sold to a Chicago based FCM.

In the year 2000, Drew graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Honours Science faculty (Biology) as the class valedictorian and as President of the local chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Drew and others will be attending the SmallSat Symposium which takes place from February 4 with workshops, then on to the Conference from February 5 – 7. The event is hosted by SatNews, which since 1983 has been a provider of a satellite news, media and events. The SmallSat Symposium is created to enable you and your company to secure a larger portion of the market share and then take part in the next stages of your growth. You can register here.

The interpersonal connections at SmallSat have also been given careful consideration so that attendees are assured of having the opportunity to network with both established organizations and new space entrants.

SmallSat Symposium will focus not only on new technology, but the business environment shaping its implementation. The event brings together more than 100 diverse speakers with deep industry experience as well as the opportunity to mingle and network while enjoying exceptional complimentary meals and refreshment breaks. 

 

Renesas Launches New Digital Isolators for SmallSats

Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE:6723) has introduced two, plastic packaged, radiation-tolerant, digital isolators that provide the highest isolation protection (2,500VRMS) from high voltage spikes in power supply stages and serial communications interfaces for use in LEO smallsats.

Private “New Space” companies plan to launch thousands of smallsats forming large constellations that operate in multiple LEO planes. Smallsat mega-constellations provide ubiquitous broadband Internet of Things (IoT) communications anywhere across the globe, and Earth Observation (EO) high-resolution imaging for sea, air, and land asset tracking.

The passive input ISL71610M and active input ISL71710M offer performance across key electrical specifications, including isolation voltage, data rate, common mode transient immunity, propagation delay, quiescent current, and dynamic current. Renesas’ Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) digital isolators can be replacements for optocouplers that are susceptible to cloudy optics from total ionizing dose (TID) radiation. Both GMR isolators can out-perform transformer-based digital isolators that experience electromagnetic interference (EMI) due to radiated emissions from edge and dipole radiation. The Renesas GMR digital isolators are characterization tested at a total ionizing doze (TID) of up to 30krads(Si), and for single event effects (SEE) at a linear energy transfer (LET) of 43MeV•cm2/mg.

In isolation partitioned power supply designs, the ISL71610M and ISL71710M provide an instantaneous 2.5kVRMS of isolation and 600VRMS continuous working voltage at 85°C. In serial communications subsystems that need the transmitter and receiver electrically isolated from each other, the ISL71610M operates up to 100 Mbps and the ISL71710M up to 150 Mbps. Both offer the New Space industry’s  6x higher than competitive solutions, which make them ideal for serial communications links, such as RS-422, RS-485, and Controller Area Network (CAN). The ISL71610M and ISL71710M both have significantly lower quiescent current than the competition, and the ISL71710M has nearly 4x lower dynamic current than Class V isolators.

Key Features of ISL71610M and ISL71710M

  • Supply range of 3V to 5.5V
  • Isolation voltage of 2.5kVRMS for 1 minute, and 600VRMS continuous
  • Data rates up to 100Mbps (ISL71610M), and 150Mbps (ISL71710M)
  • Common mode transient immunity of 20kV/µs (ISL71610M), and 50kV/µs (ISL71710M)
  • Propagation delay of 8ns (ISL71610M), and 10ns (ISL71710M)
  • Quiescent current of 1.3mA (ISL71610M), and 1.8mA (ISL71710M)
  • Full military temperature range operation
    • TA = -55°C to +125°C
    • TJ = -55°C to +150°C
  • Radiation characterization at Low Dose Rate (LDR) (0.01rad(Si)/s): 30krad(Si)
  • SEE characterization: No SEB/SEL, VDD = 7V; LET = 43MeV•cm2/mg

Isolated 100V Half-Bridge Power Supply Reference Design
The ISL71610M passive input digital isolator is used in Renesas’ radiation-hardened half-bridge power stage reference design. The reference design’s ISL73040SEH4Z evaluation board demonstrates a half-bridge power stage design capable of taking 100V input from a satellite’s solar panels and generating step-down power rail voltages–28V, 12V, 5V, and 3.3V — with a power efficiency of up to 94 percent. The ISL73040SEHEV4Z User Manual describes how to build a half bridge power stage with isolation using the ISL71610M, ISL73040SEH low side GaN driver and the ISL73024SEH 200V GaN FET. The user manual provides the bill of materials (BOM), and explains how to power the isolator and achieve dead-time control, and it includes layout guidelines to minimize overshoot and ringing on the GaN FET gate.

Isolated CAN Bus Application
The ISL71710M can be used with a single-ended CAN Bus input signal to provide fault tolerant serial communications isolation between the CAN Bus controller and ISL71026M rad-tolerant CAN Bus transceiver, or the ISL72026SEH rad-hard CAN Bus transceiver. This application can be extended to RS-422 by using the ISL71710 with the HS-26C31 rad-hard RS-422 transmitter and HS-26C32 rad-hard RS-422 receiver.

Executive Comment

Philip Chesley, Philip Chesley, Vice President, Industrial Analog and Power Business Division, Renesas Electronics Corporation, Industrial Analog and Power Business Division, Renesas Electronics Corporation, said that the ISL71610M and ISL71710M use a GMR inductive structure that is inherently immune to radiation effects, and build on Renesas’ six decades of spaceflight experience. GMR makes the company’s space-grade digital isolators more desirable than optical-based designs, and Renesas’ radiation-tolerant plastic flow provides the optimal cost versus radiation performance in comparison to Class V isolators.

Nanyang Technological University Launches its Ninth Satellite

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s (NTU Singapore) have successfully launched and deployed its ninth satellite. 

The AOBA VELOX-IV and SPATIUM-I (which was launched last October) are nanosatellites trialling new imaging and manoeuvring technologies in space. The NTU scientists plan to use their findings to build satellites robust enough to withstand what would be Singapore’s first lunar mission.

The scientists believe that a lunar mission may be achievable within five years, using satellites weighing no more than 100kg each, which would be lighter than any other that has made the 384,400-kilometre journey.

NTU’s 8th and 9th satellites were built in collaboration with Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), one of Japan’s leading universities for satellite research and engineering. 

The AOBA VELOX-IV nanosatellite was launched from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Epsilon-4 rocket, which lifted off last Friday, 18 January, at 8:50 am Singapore time.

The 2.8kg satellite carries two new technologies that will be tested and validated in space. First is a special low-light camera that can capture and observe in less than two seconds Earth’s horizon glow, a crescent of light occurring on the horizon just before sunrise and after sunset.

Its second new technology is a quad-jet plasma thruster that helps the satellite with altitude control, such as when it enters a lunar orbit. 
 
The SPATIUM-I which stands for Space Precision Atomic-click Timing Utility Mission, was launched from the International Space Station (ISS) in October last year and is currently completing its first phase of experiments.

The 2.6 kg satellite is the first nanosatellite in the world to successfully demonstrate a chip scale atomic clock (CSAC) working in Low Earth Orbit. This demonstrates that the ‘Built-at-NTU’ atomic clock keeps time with a stability of 0.2 billionths in a second, on a par with satellites a thousand times bigger. 

Such precision timing devices, which are critical to make on-board electronics function in synchronicity, are usually not found on smaller satellites due to limited space, low power supply and high cost.

The SPATIUM-I is also the first in a planned series of nanosatellites built by NTU that will map out earth’s ionosphere in three-dimension (3D). This will allow NTU scientists to understand the ionospheric morphology and its perturbations that have a pronounced effect on long-distance radio communications, navigation and weather patterns.

NTU Singapore Vice President (Research) Professor Lam Khin Yong said the successful launch and deployment of AOBA VELOX-IV and the SPATIUM-I respectively are important steps forward for NTU. 

“Building on NTU Singapore’s satellite engineering expertise over the last decade, our two latest satellite launches demonstrate our leading-edge space capabilities. We have shrunk advanced cameras, thrusters and the electronics capability of larger satellites into something the size of a shoebox,” said Prof Lam.

“Satellite technologies are considered the pinnacle of engineering, given that these machines have to be extremely robust and perform reliably in space, one of the most extreme environments known to mankind. The fact that NTU’s, indeed Singapore’s, first home-made satellite, X-Sat, is still operating after almost eight years, is a testament to the quality and robustness of NTU’s engineered satellites.”

Professor Mengu Cho, Director of Kyutech’s Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering, said, “SPATIUM-I and AOBA VELOX-IV are the second and third satellites developed together by Kyutech and NTU. The launches of the two satellites show that the research collaboration between the two universities has grown to multiple aspects.”

“SPATIUM-I is the first in a series of technology demonstrations toward the ionospheric mapping and weather forecasting mission utilising the precise reference signal generated by the chip-scale atomic clock. The mission may bring us tremendous scientific as well as practical and commercial values. AOBA VELOX-IV demonstrates technologies necessary for a future lunar mission, which I really wish to carry out jointly with NTU in the near future.”
 
“AOBA VELOX-IV was launched as a part of JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program. The satellite was chosen by JAXA because of the commercial value of technologies to be demonstrated by AOBA VELOX-IV, which are useful not only for the lunar mission but also for other Earth-orbiting CubeSat missions.”

NTU continues to be at forefront of Singapore’s satellite industry 

The AOBA VELOX-IV cube satellite was built by a team led by Mr Lim Wee Seng, Executive Director of NTU’s Satellite Research Centre, while its new altitude determination and control algorithm was developed by Prof Cho’s research team at Kyutech in Japan. It has two solar panels which unfold in space to form a solar array of 30cm x 20cm. 

Its primary mission is to capture Earth’s horizon during sunrise and sunset, which would pave the way towards eventually capturing the Lunar Horizon Glow, a phenomenon first observed by Apollo astronauts in the 1960s.

Capturing sharp images requires a superior low-light camera, altitude control algorithm and precise reaction wheels which can rotate and orient the satellite accurately at its target.

Its secondary mission is to test an improved quad-jet pulsed plasma thruster that generates ultra-hot plasma gases by burning solid Teflon fuel. It is used to precisely control the satellite’s angular momentum and rotation, which would be required when orbiting the Moon in any future lunar mission. 

SPATIUM-I is the result of innovative engineering by a joint team led by NTU Assistant Prof Holden Li from the NTU School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Prof Cho from Kyutech.

The team’s miniaturised atomic clock provides an accurate timing reference for the nanosatellite’s on-board electronics and has been successfully tested in space, opening up the possibility of synchronised working with future NTU satellites. 

This would allow a group of satellites flying in formation to perform joint missions, for example, the real-time three-dimensional mapping of the ionosphere plasma density, which is the ionized component of the Earth’s upper atmosphere consisting of free electrons that can interfere with electromagnetic waves and radio frequency, and in providing weather forecasting. 

SPATIUM-1 will also be testing out several Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technologies, which are miniaturised versions of the various mechanical systems used by larger satellites. One such application of MEMS will be in space-based Internet of Things (Space IoTs).

Currently, land-based Internet of Things (IoTs) are leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution in manufacturing, using sensor data to optimise manufacturing plants, while Smart City applications include monitoring and optimisation of urban traffic and city services.
However, land-based IoTs require infrastructure investment and have a limited range, especially where it does not make economic sense to install wireless transmission devices in smaller, remote towns and villages.

“With the latest NTU-Kyutech timing platform, we may be able to scale up the technology for Space IoTs, which would revolutionise the sensor network in infrastructure-poor regions of the world, to track valuable assets such as vehicles, ships and even livestock,” added Prof Li, principal investigator of the satellite and a scientist at the Temasek Labs @ NTU. “With close to half of the world’s population without access to the Internet, low-cost Space IoTs could be a feasible alternative for providing tracking and monitoring services.”

20 years of satellite expertise 

NTU’s first foray into space began 20 years ago. The first project was a communication payload codenamed Merlion, while the main satellite body was developed by the University of Surrey, UK. It was launched in 1999, making this year the 20th year anniversary milestone since NTU begun its space mission.

NTU has since designed, built and sent nine satellites into Earth’s orbit. The X-SAT, NTU’s microsatellite built in collaboration with the DSO National Laboratories, is Singapore’s first locally-built satellite which was launched into space in 2011.  

Since 2009, NTU has been running Singapore’s first satellite programme for undergraduates and postgraduates. For further information see Annex A.

Nanyang Technical University

Space-Qualified SSD Prototypes Shipped by Mercury Systems to Two LEO Satellite Suppliers

Mercury Systems has announced the first prototype shipments of the company’s 3U TRRUST-Stor VPX RT space-qualified secure solid-state drives (SSD) to two leading suppliers of LEO satellites.

Designed to operate reliably in high radiation environments, this device is the first commercial SSD leveraging VITA 78 SpaceVPX standards to reduce customer cost and mitigate program risk. In addition to commercial satellite applications, this device is ideally suited for high-altitude aircraft, airborne weapons and mission-critical ground computing systems.


Mercury Systems’ TRRUST-Stor VPX RT space-qualified secure solid-state drive is the first commercial SSD to leverage VITA 78 SpaceVPX standards.
Photo is courtesy of the company.

At the heart of the SSD is Mercury’s proprietary NAND controller with BuiltSECURE error correcting code (ECC) algorithms. These ECC algorithms mitigate radiation-induced byte errors, thereby enabling sustainable reliability and fault tolerance that are not available with competing storage solutions. As Mercury maintains 10 percent authority over the controller and its implementation, this device is readily customizable for non-traditional use cases when deemed critical to a customer’s program.

Honored with a Platinum award in the category of Trusted Computing in the 2018 Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards program, Mercury’s TRRUST-Stor VPX RT device provides long-term data integrity. Engineered into an open standards platform, customers can seamlessly integrate this device into the SpaceVPX ecosystem of processing boards and chassis without sacrificing affordability. As the need for radiation-tolerant devices for LEO satellites proliferates, system development around the SpaceVPX open standard architecture will be integral in supporting the growth of the space market.

Mercury’s dedication to all aspects of industrial security extends far beyond product design and into the cadence of its daily operations. The Company’s entire portfolio of advanced digital microelectronic solutions are designed and manufactured in a Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA)-accredited facility for design, packaging, test and broker services. Several of Mercury’s facilities have been recognized for excellence by receiving a Superior rating from the Defense Security Service (DSS).

Flight units are scheduled to ship in the first half of calendar year 2019.

Executive Comment

Iain Mackie, VP and GM of Mercury’s Microelectronics Secure Solutions group, said customer demand for commercial radiation-tolerant SSD devices for LEO satellites has far surpassed the company’s expectations as the firm continues to gain share in this dynamic market.

The First OneWeb Constellation’s Satellites Have Shipped to Launch Site

OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb, as delivered the first satellites for the OneWeb constellation.

The satellites were manufactured at the OneWeb Satellites facility on the Airbus Defence and Space Toulouse site and the first six have been shipped to Kourou for launch.  The first launch of the mega constellation is scheduled for February 19, 2019, on a Soyuz rocket.

OneWeb Satellites will now turn its focus to ramping up production of the full constellation of satellites in its new factory in Florida, demonstrating once again the agility of this JV. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a global communications company whose mission is to provide Internet to everybody, everywhere, and Airbus with its first order to include the production of ultra-high performance communications satellites.


Five OneWeb Satellites aligned at the Airbus facility.
Photo is courtesy of Airbus.

The Toulouse OneWeb Satellites facility is being used to validate the innovative production methods necessary to manufacture these satellites at a scale never achieved before, de-risk any potential issues, and lay the framework for the larger multi-line OneWeb Satellites factory near the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The satellites, weigh approximately 150 kg. and will operate in near-polar, 1,200 km., LEO orbit.

Executive Comment


OneWeb satellites being prepared for shipment.
Photo is courtesy of Airbus.

Tony Gingiss, the OneWeb Satellites CEO, said with this generation of satellites, the company is entering a new chapter in the story that started three years ago. The firm’s team is transforming the space industry and OneWeb Satellites is in the midst of demonstrating the company can deliver on the firm’s promises.