Navy wants to work with Army to use small satellites for tactical communications

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The Navy is interested in cooperating with the Army on using small satellites for tactical communications.

An unnamed senior defense official said that, in the event of a conflict with an adversary like China, the Navy and Army will need to cooperate using simple, low-bandwidth communications.

That could be performed using small satellites launched on short notice, a concept long advocated by proponents of operationally responsive space. [Breaking Defense]


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The U.S. Air Force said it is putting pressure on Raytheon to fix a troubled GPS 3 ground segment program. The Air Force announced Monday it was extending by nine months the schedule for deploying the GPS 3 Operational Control System (OCX) ground control network, citing “realized program technical risks.” An Air Force spokesperson said the service was “placing a lot of pressure on the contractor,” Raytheon, to get the OCX program back on track. Raytheon said the latest extension did not represent a delay in the program but instead additional schedule margin. [SpaceNews]

Twelve transponders on an aging SES communications satellite have failed. The company said that it lost 12 transponders last month on NSS-806, a 19-year-old C- and Ku-band satellite, representing nearly one third of that satellite’s overall capacity. SES said that malfunction, along with the failure of the AMC-9 spacecraft in June, will have only a temporary effect on the company’s finances given the scheduled launch early next year of a new satellite, SES-14. [SpaceNews]

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is facing a schedule conflict for its planned launch next October. JWST is scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 in October 2018, but ESA’s BepiColombo mission to Mercury is also planning an Ariane 5 launch the same month. A NASA Advisory Council committee meeting last week discussed the potential conflict, which could result in JWST being delayed until the spring of 2019 due to BepiColombo’s limited launch window and the need for “full access” to payload processing facilities at the Kourou, French Guiana, spaceport for several months leading up to JWST’s launch. [SpaceNews]

AsiaSat’s next satellite is scheduled to launch on a Proton next month. AsiaSat said its AsiaSat-9 satellite is now expected to launch on a Proton Sept. 28, in what will be that rocket’s third commercial launch this year. A Proton will launch the Amazonas-5 communications satellite before AsiaSat-9, but International Launch Services has not announced a launch date for that spacecraft. [SpaceNews]

Luxembourg’s new space resources act goes into effect today. The act, passed by the country’s parliament last month, gives companies there rights to resources extracted from asteroids or other celestial bodies. It also sets up a system for the country to authorize and supervise such ventures in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty. Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, said he is in discussions with fund owners who want to invest more than one billion euros into space ventures in the country. [Reuters]

NASA announced $14.3 million in small business technology awards Monday. The 19 awards are part of Phase 2 of its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The technologies covered by the awards range from hybrid rocket engines to spacecraft instruments. [NASA]

An Earth-sized planet orbiting a nearby star may not be able to retain its atmosphere. Astronomers have yet to be able to learn details about any atmosphere around Proxima b, a planet orbiting the star Proxima Centauri just 4.25 light-years away. Scientists, though, modeled what would happen to the Earth if located at the same distance from Proxima Centauri, and found the star’s intense radiation would strip away the atmosphere 10,000 times faster than what Earth actually experiences. “Proxima b’s atmospheric loss rates here are so high that habitability is implausible,” said one of the authors of the study. [NASA/GSFC]