EPIQ Space had the opportunity to interview Barry Lunn of Arralis at Space Tech Expo in Pasadena California. Barry discusses the future of the space industry. Plug and play millimeter wave systems on a chip and developing fully integrated RF Front-Ends has never been done before.
Developing the same technology for use on earth that can also be used in a satellite, meeting all of the environmental concerns with space, is a challenge.
This company will be very well positioned in the space industry with these unique products.
Tim Gray of Space Vector was interviewed by EPIQ Space at Space Tech Expo in Pasadena California. Tim discusses the need for additional talent in the industry to help support growth. Finding people with the right background with the appropriate degrees and experience to support the complexities of the industry continues to be a challenge in the US as the labor market tightens.
The challenges of additive manufacturing with new technologies is requiring unique solutions to ensure success. Extreme testing is pushing the envelope.
Developing products that can go to higher frequencies with approaches that could not be done before will provide a bright future for Space Vector.
Greg Knapp, Business Development Director, BAE Systems met with EPIQ Space at Space Tech Expo in Pasadena California and shares some insight into the latest trends in the space industry.
The challenges of providing higher performance processing similar to commercial applications while achieving radiation hardened requirements, has lead to new products which have begun to be rolled out.
BAE Systems continues to lead the industry with world class products for the satellite industry.
EPIQ Space had the opportunity to interview Donna Ridley of Ascent Aerospace at Space Tech Expo in Pasadena California. Donna explains in her interview the challenges associated with the industry and how Ascent Aerospace is addressing them head-on. Utilizing some of the worlds best practices including concurrent manufacturing, at times embedded with their customers.
Tight tolerances are a challenge throughout the satellite industry. Ascent Aerospace is able to maintain these tolerances with state-of-the art tooling. The latest tooling coupled with embedded support helps reduce risk, supporting their customers from design to production.
There are have been many interesting ideas to help clean space debris. ESA is reporting on an interesting idea using magnetics. Let’s hope the solution is put in place soon to ensure long-term viability of future programs. (Editor – EPIQ Space)
19 June 2017Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces.
This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space.
Such satellite swarms are being considered for future astronomy or Earth-observing missions – if their relative positions can stay stable they could act as a single giant telescope.
To combat space debris, interest is growing in plucking entire satellites from space. The biggest challenge is to grapple and secure such uncontrolled, rapidly tumbling objects, typically of several tonnes.
Multiple techniques are being investigated, including robotic arms, nets and harpoons.
Now researcher Emilien Fabacher of the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace, part of the University of Toulouse in France, has added another method to the list: magnetic grappling.
“With a satellite you want to deorbit, it’s much better if you can stay at a safe distance, without needing to come into direct contact and risking damage to both chaser and target satellites,” explains Emilien.
“So the idea I’m investigating is to apply magnetic forces either to attract or repel the target satellite, to shift its orbit or deorbit it entirely.”
Such target satellites would not need to be specially equipped in advance. Instead, such a tug would influence target satellites using their ‘magnetorquers’: reliable electromagnets already carried to adjust orientation using Earth’s magnetic field.
“These are standard issue aboard many low-orbiting satellites,” adds Emilien.
The strong magnetic field required by the chaser satellite would be generated using superconducting wires cooled to cryogenic temperatures.
Similarly satellites could also keep multiple satellites flying in precise formation, comments Finn Ankersen, an ESA expert in rendezvous and docking, formation flight.
“This kind of contactless magnetic influence would work from about 10–15 m out, offering positioning precision within10 cm with attitude precision 1–2º.”
For his PhD research, Emilien has been researching how the resulting guidance, navigation and control techniques would work in practice, combining a rendezvous simulator with magnetic interaction models, while also taking account of the ever-changing state of Earth’s own magnetosphere.
His research has been supported through ESA’s Networking/Partnering Initiative, which supports work carried out by universities and research institutes on advanced technologies with potential space applications. Emilien also visited ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands, to consult with Agency experts.
Emilien recalls that the concept originally came out of discussion with ESA experts, and he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to explore its feasibility: “The first surprise was that it was indeed possible, theoretically – initially we couldn’t be sure, but it turns out that the physics works fine.”
25 April 2017After nearly 13 years in orbit around Saturn, the international Cassini–Huygens mission is about to begin its final chapter: the spacecraft will perform a series of daring dives between the planet and its rings, leading to a dramatic final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September.
The manoeuvre put the spacecraft onto its ’grand finale’ trajectory: a series of 22 orbits, each lasting about a week, drawing closer to Saturn and passing between the planet’s innermost rings and its outer atmosphere. The first crossing of the ring plane will occur on 26 April.
With the repeated dives in this yet unvisited region, the mission will conclude its journey of exploration by collecting unprecedented data to address fundamental questions about the origin of Saturn and its ring system.
Launched in 1997, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft embarked on a seven-year voyage across the Solar System, eventually reaching Saturn in July 2004. Several months later, the Cassini orbiter released ESA’s Huygens probe, which landed on Titan on 14 January 2005 – the first landing in the outer Solar System.
The mission has greatly contributed to our understanding of the Saturnian environment, including the giant planet’s system of rings and moons.
Combining the data collected in situ by Huygens and the observations performed by Cassini during flybys of Titan, the mission revealed the atmospheric processes of this moon and their seasonal evolution, as well as the surface morphology and interior structure, which may include a liquid water ocean.
Enshrouded by a thick nitrogen-dominated atmosphere and partly covered by lakes and rivers, Titan has a weather and hydrological cycle that bears some interesting similarities to Earth. However, there are important differences: the key component there is not water, like on our planet, but methane, and the temperature is very low, around –180°C at the surface.
Over its 13-year mission, Cassini will have covered about half of Saturn’s orbit, in which the planet takes 29 years to circle the Sun. This means that the spacecraft has monitored two seasons on Titan, an object that can teach us much on the past and the future of Earth.
Another of Cassini’s breakthroughs was the detection of a towering plume of water vapour and organic material spraying into space from warm fractures near the south pole of Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus. These salt-rich jets indicate that an underground sea of liquid water is lurking only a few kilometres below the moon’s icy surface, as confirmed by gravity and rotation measurements.
A recent analysis of data collected during flybys of Enceladus with the Cassini Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer also revealed hydrogen gas in the plume, suggesting that rock might be reacting with warm water on the seafloor of the moon’s subsurface ocean. This hydrothermal activity could provide a chemical energy source for life, enabling non-photosynthetic biological processes similar to the ones found near the hydrothermal vents on the Earth’s ocean floor and pointing to the potential habitability of Enceladus’ underground ocean.
Following over a decade of ground-breaking discoveries, Cassini is now approaching its end. With little fuel left to correct the spacecraft trajectory, it has been decided to end the mission by plunging it into Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September 2017. In the process, Cassini will burn up, satisfying planetary protection requirements to avoid possible contamination of any moons of Saturn that could have conditions suitable for life.
Grand finale orbits
The grand finale is not only a spectacular way to complete this extraordinary mission, but will also return a bounty of unique scientific data that was not possible to collect during the previous phases of the mission. Cassini has never ventured into the area between Saturn and its rings before, so the new set of orbits is almost like a whole new mission.
These close orbits will be inclined 63 degrees with respect to Saturn’s equator and will provide the highest resolution observations ever achieved of the inner rings and the planet’s clouds. The orbits will also give the chance to examine in situ the material in the rings and plasma environment of Saturn.
With its radio science investigation, Cassini will measure Saturn’s gravitational field as close as 3000 km from Saturn’s upper cloud layers, greatly improving the current models of the planet’s internal structure and winds in its atmosphere. Scientists expect the new data will also allow them to disentangle the gravity of the planet from the tiny pull exerted on the spacecraft by the rings, estimating the total mass of the rings to unprecedented accuracy. ESA ground stations in Argentina and Australia will help receive Cassini’s radio science data, providing a series of 22 tracking passes during the grand finale.
The grand finale orbits will also probe the planet’s magnetic field at similarly close distances. Previous observations have shown that the magnetic field is weaker than expected, with the magnetic axis surprisingly well aligned with the planet’s rotation. New data to be collected by the Cassini magnetometer will provide insights to understand why this is so and where the sources of magnetic field are located, or whether something in Saturn’s atmosphere has been obscuring the true magnetic field from Cassini until now.
Cassini between Saturn and the rings
While crossing the ring plane, Cassini’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer will directly sample the composition of dust particles from different parts of the ring system, whereas the Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer will sniff the upper atmosphere layers of Saturn to analyse molecules escaping from the atmosphere as well as water-based molecules that originate from the rings.
“At last, we have now reached the final and most audacious phase of this pioneering mission, pushing the spacecraft once again into unexplored territory,” says Nicolas Altobelli, ESA Cassini project scientist.
“We are looking forward to the flow of exciting new data that Cassini will send back in the coming months.”
Notes for Editors
Cassini–Huygens is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and ASI, the Italian space agency.
For further information, please contact:
ESA Cassini–Huygens Project Scientist
Tel: +34 91 813 1201
ESA Science Communication Officer
Tel: +31 71 565 6799
Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
NASA has invested in ideas originating from small businesses for years. The significance of these investments have provided important contributions to the industry. It is great to see a continued investment and it is also great to see novel ideas continuing to come out of these enterprises. (Editor – EPIQ Space)
NASA Eyes Fusion Reactor Engines, Extraterrestrial Drilling, Other Far-Out Technologies with Latest Investment Selections
NASA has selected 399 research and technology proposals from 277 American small businesses and 44 research institutions that will enable NASA’s future missions into deep space, and advancements in aviation and science, while also benefiting the U.S. economy. The awards have a total value of approximately $49.9 million.
The agency received 1,621 proposals in response to its 2017 solicitation for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. From those, NASA selected 338 SBIR and 61 STTR Phase I proposals for contract negotiations. The SBIR Phase I contracts last for six months and STTR Phase I contracts last for 12 months, both with maximum funding of $125,000.
“The SBIR and STTR program’s selection of nearly 400 proposals for further development is a testament to NASA’s support of American innovation by small businesses and research institutions,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This program provides opportunities for companies and institutions to commercialize their innovations while contributing to meeting NASA’s goals and objectives across all mission areas.”
Selected proposals will support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations, and space technology. A sampling of proposals demonstrates the breadth of research and development these awards will fund, including:
High temperature superconducting coils for a future fusion reaction space engine. These coils are needed for the magnetic field that allows the engine to operate safely. Nuclear fusion reactions are what power our sun and other stars, and an engine based on this technology would revolutionize space flight
Advanced drilling technologies to enable exploration of extraterrestrial oceans beneath the icy shells of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which can be miles thick. This is critical for detecting past or present life in these off-world oceans.
New wheels for planetary rovers that dramatically improve mobility over a wide variety of terrains. This new design has multiple applications and could potentially impact any heavy-duty or off-road vehicle in diverse markets such as farming and defense.
Software-enabling collaborative control of multiple unmanned aircraft systems, especially in scenarios where uncrewed vehicles fly in close proximity to crewed flights. These types of operations also are of interest to national security and disaster relief missions, including fire management.
A leading-edge manufacturing process that enables recycling of used or failed metal parts by placing them into a press, producing a slab of metal, and machining it into a needed metal part in logistically remote environments, such as a space station or long-duration space mission. This area also is of interest to the manufacturing sector, since there is a need to reduce processing footprint.
Proposals were selected according to their technical merit and feasibility, in addition to the experience, qualifications and facilities of the submitting organization. Additional criteria included effectiveness of the work plan and commercial potential.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses have created 55% of all jobs in the United States since the 1970s. SBIR and STTR programs are competitive awards-based programs. They encourage small businesses and research institutions to engage in federal research and development, and industrial commercialization, by enabling them to explore technological potential and providing incentives to profit from new commercial products and services. The awards span 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The SBIR program is managed for STMD by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. STMD is responsible for developing the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.
For a list of selected proposals and for more information about the Small Business Innovation Research program, visit:
Space Parts Working Group met for a second day in Torrance California hosted by The Aerospace Corporation, in cooperation with U.S. Air Force Space Missile Systems Center (SMSC) and the National Reconnaissance Office. The satellite supplier community has come together to provide updates on the latest technologies available for the space industry.
Anaren acquisition of MS Kennedy created a need for recertification over the past several years for space applications. This has caused some delivery disturbance to the market. The business unit has completed its certifications and improving delivery. In addition, they announced a new LDO regulator family MSK5965RH and new 6 & 10 Amp Point of Load Regulators MSK 5062RH and 5061RH respectively.
STMicrolectronics has been introducing about one new product per month across their product portfolio. They have a new line of Power Schottky Diodes and a new family of Bipolar Transistors with faster switching (2ST1360 and 2ST2360). New family of LVDS Drivers and Receivers (RHFLVDS31A). New LVDS Serializer and Deserializer (RHFLVDS217A) and Dual MOSFET Gate Driver (RHRPM4424). BiCMOS Amplifiers (RHF330, RHR61 and RH-20x), 420MHz Differential Amplifier (RHF200), 16-bit Delta-Sigma DAC (RHRDAC1612), High Accuracy Fixed Voltage References (RHF100), Next Generation Low Dropout Voltage Regulator (RHFL6000A).
The satellite suppliers have invested heavily into the industry again this year developing tremendous products to help continue to push the industry to new levels.
EPIQ Space attended Space Parts Working Group (SPWG) this week. This is a conference hosted by The Aerospace Corporation, in cooperation with U.S. Air Force Space Missile Systems Center (SMSC) and the National Reconnaissance Office. For 45 years this conference is held annually in Torrance California for the Space industry to resolve problems with high-reliability electronic products. This is a fantastic event to allow product suppliers to the satellite industry to provide updates on their latest products and services. This comprehensive overview is held for two days providing updates from a host of companies.
Freebird Semiconductor announced a new line of High Reliability Gallium Nitride (GaN) High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT) Power Switching devices. With a low On-Resistance, the company has a line of products meeting Radiation Hardened requirements for typical Space applications.
Xilinx Virtex®-5QV FPGA (V5QV) platform is the industry’s first high performance radiation hardened reconfigurable FPGA. The device offers the highest density, performance and integration capabilities. These devices provide exceptional density, radiation hardening with flexible reconfigurability without the high risk of ASICs.
VPT has a new Rad Hard Point of Load (POL’s) converter for a 3.3V bus. In addition VPT has a new Space Qualified Inrush Current Limiter designed for a 28V bus with 100W and 200W feed capabilities. They are also introducing a new line of LDO Regulators.
The satellite industry has always had limited options to communicate new products. Space Parts Working Group is a great place to meet peers from the industry and get updated on the latest technologies.
ESA continues to advance the technology necessary to explore new space frontiers. The research and planning necessary to survive in the hostile environment continues to exceed expectations. (Editor – EPIQ Space)
Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.
16 March 2017Demanding electric, magnetic and power requirements, harsh radiation, and strict planetary protection rules are some of the critical issues that had to be tackled in order to move ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – Juice – from the drawing board and into construction.
Scheduled for launch in 2022, with arrival in the Jovian system in 2029, Juice will spend three-and-a-half years examining the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere, its set of tenuous dark rings and its satellites.
It will study the large icy moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which are thought to have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crusts – perhaps even harbouring habitable environments.
The mission will culminate in a dedicated, eight-month tour around Ganymede, the first time any moon beyond our own has been orbited by a spacecraft.
Jupiter’s largest moons
Juice will be equipped with 10 state-of-the-art instruments, including cameras, an ice-penetrating radar, an altimeter, radio-science experiments, and sensors to monitor the magnetic fields and charged particles in the Jovian system.
In order to ensure it can address these goals in the challenging Jovian environment, the spacecraft’s design has to meet stringent requirements.
An important milestone was reached earlier this month, when the preliminary design of Juice and its interfaces with the scientific instruments and the ground stations were fixed, which will now allow a prototype spacecraft to be built for rigorous testing.
The review also confirmed that the 5.3 tonne spacecraft will be compatible with its Ariane 5 launcher.
Operating in the outer Solar System, far from the Sun, means that Juice needs a large solar array: two wings of five panels each are foreseen, which will cover a total surface area of nearly 100 sq m, capable of providing 820 W at Jupiter by the end of the mission.
After launch, Juice will make five gravity-assist flybys in total: one each at Mars and Venus, and three at Earth, to set it on course for Jupiter. Its solar panels will have to cope with a range of temperatures such that when it is flying closer to the Sun during the Venus flyby, the solar wings will be tilted to avoid excessive temperatures damaging the solar cells.
The spacecraft’s main engine will be used to enter orbit around the giant planet, and later around Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede. As such, the engine design has also been critically reviewed at this stage.
Special measures will allow Juice to cope with the extremely harsh radiation that it must endure for several years around Jupiter. This means careful selection of components and materials, as well as radiation shielding.
One particularly important topic is Juice’s electromagnetic ‘cleanliness’. Because a key goal is to monitor the magnetic fields and charged particles at Jupiter, it is imperative that any electromagnetic fields generated by the spacecraft itself do not interfere with the sensitive scientific measurements.
This will be achieved by the careful design of the solar array electrical architecture, the power distribution unit, and the reaction wheels – a type of flywheel that stabilises the attitude.
The review also ensured that Juice will meet strict planetary protection guidelines, because it is imperative to minimise the risk that the potentially habitable ocean moons, particularly Europa, might be contaminated by viruses, bacteria or spores carried by the spacecraft from Earth. Therefore, mission plans ensure that Juice will not crash into Europa, on a timescale of hundreds of years.
“The spacecraft design has been extensively and positively reviewed, and confirmed to address the many critical mission requirements,” says Giuseppe Sarri, Juice project manager. “So far we are on schedule, and are delighted to begin the development stage of this ambitious large-class mission.”
ESA’s industrial partners, led by Airbus, now have the go-ahead to start building the prototype spacecraft units that will subjected to tough tests to simulate the conditions expected during launch, as well as the extreme range of environmental conditions.
Once the design is proved beyond doubt, the flight model – the one that will actually go into space – will be built.
For further information, please contact:
ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
Tel: +31 71 565 6799
Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
ESA Juice project manager
ESA Juice project scientist