Iridium wins contract to develop hosted payload for Low Earth Orbit

Iridium has secured a $30 million research and development contract with the United States Army… The post Iridium wins contract to develop hosted payload for Low Earth Orbit appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

Iridium wins contract to develop hosted payload for Low Earth Orbit

Iridium has secured a $30 million research and development contract with the United States Army to develop a payload which will support the concept of a rapidly deployable small satellite constellation, with the goal of providing more effective data transmission to the soldiers in the field.

The payload will be hosted by another Low Earth Orbit commercial satellite constellation and used alongside Iridium’s existing network. Although the partner is not yet announced, it could include mega-constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon’s upcoming Project Kuiper, or satellites of the OneWeb and ViaSat constellations.

“This is one of the largest engineering contracts in Iridium’s history, and we’re pleased to once again bring the value of Iridium and our partner ecosystem to the fore at the request of the United States Army,” said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium.

“It also represents another phase in the evolution of our growing relationship with the DoD (Department of Defense), and we’re excited to engage in this experimental multi-constellation adaptation of our service.”

The experimental payload will be based on Iridium’s one-to-many global broadcast service, named Iridium Burst. Announced in 2014, Iridium Burst makes it possible to transmit data to millions of devices at a time using the high power channels of Iridium’s existing satellite network.

Coverage map of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation – via Iridium

It is especially useful for businesses, government agencies and the military to broadcast data. The development is also supported by Colorado-based Aerospace company, SEAKR Engineering, and Virginia-based Satellite company, Satelles Inc as subcontractors.

“Iridium has always been focused on providing innovative, reliable and high-value services to the U.S. warfighter,” said Scott Scheimreif, Executive Vice President of Government Programs at Iridium. “This program can help add to warfighter readiness to conduct a full range of military operations at a tactical level. This includes the ability to enhance effectiveness of military units, weapons and equipment during combat against near-peer adversaries.”

This project was initiated through an “Other Transaction Agreement” (OTA). The U.S’ Department of Defense created the Other Transaction Agreement to carry out the development and procurement of prototype projects and streamline the process for adopting new technologies.

Iridium’s own Iridium NEXT constellation was launched over the course of eight SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, with replenishment launches on contract with Relativity Space. CEO Matt Desch has also previously mentioned the possibility of Iridium working together with the Starlink constellation. However, the constellation(s) that Iridium will partner with for this newest contract is to be announced.

Iridium’s Operation Arctic Lynx

Iridium also recently announced a series of partnership-driven field exercises deploying Iridium technologies used by organizations primarily in the latitude of 60 degrees north and stretched as far as 82 degrees north. Named Operation Arctic Lynx (OAL), the exercise will take place until June 26, 2021 and involves the U.S Department of Defense, U.S federal agencies, Alaska state and local organizations, the Canadian government, scientific research organizations, and multiple aerospace industry companies.

During the exercise, Iridium’s broadband, Iridium Certus, Push to Talk (PTT), and Iridium Global Line of Sight are the main technologies being tested, alongside a variety of sensors capable of tracking, environmental monitoring, remote control functions and managing data and image delivery.

“Iridium’s Arctic and Antarctic communications capabilities have long been a part of the fabric of government, NGO and civil enterprise activities in those regions and now with our upgraded constellation and new technologies developed, we have turbocharged our portfolio of solutions to address an increasing range of polar communication requirements,” said Scheimreif.

“With more than 20 participating organizations, Operation Arctic Lynx will exercise the ability to provide real-time interoperability, communications-on-the-move, command-and-control and develop and maintain a common operational picture in austere polar regions. We’re proud to have so many esteemed organizations participating.”

During the operation, multiple voice, data, video and real-time communications threads will be exercised, starting from Utqiagvik, Alaska, located at 71 degrees north latitude, although the communication links will also be tested at a site even further north.

Located 82 degrees north is the Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut, Canada. It is the most northerly, permanently inhabited location in the world and one of a number of Arctic Weather Stations. Here, Iridium Certus technology will be tested to ensure reliable communications.

Teams utilizing Iridium satellite communications systems in the Arctic as part of Operation Arctic Lynx – via Iridium

Additional communication tests sites include the U.S South Pole Station and McMurdo Station in Antarctica, Oslo, Norway, London, U.K., and in the U.S. states of Texas, Arizona, Virginia and Florida.

Iridium’s newest broadband service: Certus 200

On June 22, Iridium announced their newest service, named Certus 200. It offers transmission speeds up to 176 Kbps and high-quality voice lines though a cost-effective antenna. This service is available for land-based and maritime applications using the terminals built by Thales. Iridium is also looking to offer aviation services, featuring L-band antennas and lightweight terminals. This system is currently under development and is expected to be operational in late 2021.

“Iridium Certus is a powerful connectivity platform, providing the flexibility for our partners to develop specialized terminals that enhance different capabilities across all industries,” says Bryan Hartin, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Iridium. “Iridium Certus 200 fills an important gap in our broadband portfolio, offering a more affordable product and service class, with reliable connectivity that will expand to more markets.”

The post Iridium wins contract to develop hosted payload for Low Earth Orbit appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

Source : NASA More   

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Seeing Saharan Dust from SpaceLast year, Godzilla made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. No, it...

Seeing Saharan Dust from SpaceLast year, Godzilla made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. No, it wasn’t a giant lizard monster, but a cloud of dust so large it could be seen from a million miles away in space.The plume of dust blowing from the Sahara Desert broke records and was nicknamed the “Godzilla plume.”This year, another massive dust plume is traveling across the Atlantic.The transport of dust from the Sahara to the Americas isn’t unusual: every year, winds pick up more than 180 million tons of dust particles from the Sahara Desert, move them over the African continent and carry them all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, depositing much of the dust along the way.What’s remarkable about the past two years is the size of the plumes. Last year, the “Godzilla plume” was the largest dust storm in our two decades of observations.Although this year’s plume has yet to complete its journey across the Atlantic, dust plumes from the Sahara often have important impacts on the Americas.So, why do the dust plumes matter?Before the Sahara was a desert, it was a lakebed, where nutrients like phosphorous and iron were deposited before the lake dried up. As a result, winds pick up these nutrients in the dust plumes. Some of these nutrients get deposited in the Atlantic Ocean, feeding marine life – iron, for example, is critical for marine life. Phosphorus is also a much-needed nutrient that fertilizes vegetation in the Amazon rainforest. The amount of phosphorus deposited by Saharan dust plumes into the Amazon every year – around 22,000 tons – is roughly equivalent to the amount that gets removed from the rainforest’s soil by weather conditions. In other words, long term, the dust plumes provide an essential nutrient to the Amazon’s vegetation.Both the dust plumes themselves and the conditions associated with them can also influence the formation of tropical storms during hurricane season. As climate change appears to be strengthening the strongest storms, understanding the relationship between dust plumes and hurricanes has only grown more important.The dust plumes can carry microbes that can be deadly and can worsen air quality, creating potentially dangerous conditions for sensitive populations. The iron in the plumes can also kick off blooms of toxic algae off the coast of Florida that result from the increase in nutrients in the ocean.What comes next for Saharan dust? We’re still looking into it!Some research suggests dust plumes will intensify with higher temperatures and dryer conditions, creating more loose dust to be picked up. However, other research shows that rising ocean temperatures and changing wind speeds would result in more rainfall and vegetation in the desert, reducing how much dust blows across the Atlantic.Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space!

Seeing Saharan Dust from SpaceLast year, Godzilla made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. No, it...

Seeing Saharan Dust from Space

Last year, Godzilla made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. No, it wasn’t a giant lizard monster, but a cloud of dust so large it could be seen from a million miles away in space.

The plume of dust blowing from the Sahara Desert broke records and was nicknamed the “Godzilla plume.”

This year, another massive dust plume is traveling across the Atlantic.

The transport of dust from the Sahara to the Americas isn’t unusual: every year, winds pick up more than 180 million tons of dust particles from the Sahara Desert, move them over the African continent and carry them all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, depositing much of the dust along the way.

What’s remarkable about the past two years is the size of the plumes. Last year, the “Godzilla plume” was the largest dust storm in our two decades of observations.

Although this year’s plume has yet to complete its journey across the Atlantic, dust plumes from the Sahara often have important impacts on the Americas.

So, why do the dust plumes matter?

Before the Sahara was a desert, it was a lakebed, where nutrients like phosphorous and iron were deposited before the lake dried up. As a result, winds pick up these nutrients in the dust plumes. Some of these nutrients get deposited in the Atlantic Ocean, feeding marine life – iron, for example, is critical for marine life. Phosphorus is also a much-needed nutrient that fertilizes vegetation in the Amazon rainforest. The amount of phosphorus deposited by Saharan dust plumes into the Amazon every year – around 22,000 tons – is roughly equivalent to the amount that gets removed from the rainforest’s soil by weather conditions. In other words, long term, the dust plumes provide an essential nutrient to the Amazon’s vegetation.

Both the dust plumes themselves and the conditions associated with them can also influence the formation of tropical storms during hurricane season. As climate change appears to be strengthening the strongest storms, understanding the relationship between dust plumes and hurricanes has only grown more important.

The dust plumes can carry microbes that can be deadly and can worsen air quality, creating potentially dangerous conditions for sensitive populations. The iron in the plumes can also kick off blooms of toxic algae off the coast of Florida that result from the increase in nutrients in the ocean.

What comes next for Saharan dust? We’re still looking into it!

Some research suggests dust plumes will intensify with higher temperatures and dryer conditions, creating more loose dust to be picked up. However, other research shows that rising ocean temperatures and changing wind speeds would result in more rainfall and vegetation in the desert, reducing how much dust blows across the Atlantic.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space!

Source : NASA More   

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