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Sep 2019 | No Comment

US Space Command established

In a move to enhance the United States’ space superiority capabilities, President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike R. Pence, Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond formally established the United States Space Command during a ceremony held Aug. 30 at the White House.

At the direction of the President of the United States, the Department of Defense established U.S. Space Command as the 11th unified combatant command, with Raymond as its congressionally confirmed commander. Establishing USSPACECOM is a critical step that underscores the importance of the space domain and its strategic contributions to U.S. national security. The USSPACECOM establishment will accelerate the United States’ space capabilities to address rapidly evolving threats to U.S. space assets and the importance of deterring potential adversaries from putting critical U.S. space systems at risk.

USSPACECOM is a geographic combatant command with a global area of responsibility defined as the area surrounding the earth at altitudes equal to or greater than 100 kilometers above mean (average) sea level. The new command is globally integrated with the other geographic combatant commands and prepared to support its partners to meet today’s threat on a global scale. www.af.mil

EDRS-C successfully launched

The second satellite to join the constellation that forms the European Data Relay System (EDRS) has been successfully launched. It was launched on board an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 6 August at 21:30 CEST (19:30 UTC).

EDRS enables people to observe Earth almost live, accelerating responses to emergency situations and spurring the development of new services and products that create jobs and increase prosperity. It is dubbed as the ‘Space Data Highway’ by its private operator Airbus – uses innovative laser technology to dramatically cut the time needed for Earth observation satellites to deliver information to the ground. The satellites can transmit data at a rate of up to 1.8 Gbit/s. The latest satellite, called EDRS-C, will operate in geostationary orbit. It will join its sister EDRS-A, which was launched in January 2016.

EDRS is a new, independent European satellite system, and is a public–private partnership between ESA and Airbus as part of ESA’s efforts to federate industry around large-scale programmes, stimulating technology developments to achieve economic benefits. www.esa.int

Chinese scientists test satellite positioning technology

Chinese scientists have successfully tested a satellite positioning technology called pulsar navigation, catching up to the United States, which was the first to do so last year.

Researchers with the Institute of High Energy Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said on Thursday that a Chinese scientific satellite had managed to calculate its own position in space by using the X-ray emitted by a small, distant star for reference.

With a margin of error of just 3.3km (2 miles), the accuracy was an improvement of more than 30 per cent on a similar Nasa experiment last year, which had a 5km margin of error.

Many nations have joined the race to develop new satellite positioning and navigation systems that can work independently in space without the need for reference signals from ground stations, but none are yet ready for use in the fi eld. There are many challenges, including developing detectors with extremely high sensitivity that can pick up weak signals from tiny stars thousands of light years away.

China’s Insight-HXMT satellite and Nasa’s NICER/SEXTANT instrument, which is mounted on the International Space Station, are both aimed at neutron stars that emit pulses of electromagnetic radiation with a regularity that makes these pulsars more stable than an atomic clock for timekeeping. That means the absolute position and relative speed of a satellite or spacecraft can be deduced by measuring the difference in arrival time of signals from the pulsars, which usually take the form of X-rays.

It would be an improvement for existing satellites and spacecraft – including global navigation systems such as the American-owned GPS, China’s Beidou and Russia’s Glonass – which depend on signals generated by command centres on the ground to perform such calculations.

The X-ray pulsar navigation technology was initially developed for deep space missions in which communication with Earth is challenged by the enormous distance involved. Nasa has already announced plans to use the technology on spaceships taking astronauts to the moon and Mars.www.scmp.com

China’s super-thin atomic clocks achieve mass production

China’s super-thin rubidium atomic clock, which is just 17 millimeters thick, has been put into mass production, said its manufacturer. The clock, developed in 2018 by a research institute under China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp Ltd, is the key to the positioning and timing accuracy of BeiDou navigation satellites.

Compared with the previous generation, the new clock is smaller in size but performs better. It adopts a plug-in design, making it easy to insert and remove on circuit board. With stronger resistance to high temperatures, it can work at 70 C. www.chinadaily.com

Law on ratification of the agreement on the application of GLONASS and Beidou systems

At a meeting of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on July 26, 2019, the Federal Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation in the use of GLONASS and Beidou for Peaceful Purposes was approved.

The Intergovernmental Agreement was signed on November 7, 2018 in Beijing during the 23rd regular meeting of the heads of government of Russia and China.

The agreement creates the legal framework for cooperation in the development and production of civil navigation equipment using GLONASS and Beidou systems, as well as the development of Russian-Chinese standards for the use of navigation technologies using both systems, in particular, standards for the control and management of traffic flows crossing Russian-Chinese border.

In particular, within the framework of the Agreement, it is planned to deploy on a reciprocal basis GLONASS and Beidou measuring stations in the territories of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. www.roscosmos.ru

Fiji, Cuba, Vietnam to have GLONASS stations

Roscosmos has conducted negotiations with a handful of countries, including Cuba and Fiji, about placing GLONASS satellite stations on their territory, according to the company’s 2018 annual report. As of now, there are 11 GLONASS stations outside of Russia.

Factory warranty of half of operating Glonass satellites expired

More than half of satellites of the Russian global navigation system GLONASS are operating despite the expiry of the warranty period established by the manufacturer, according to data of the satellites’ operator, GLONASS System Control Center.

13 out of 23 operating satellites, which were launched between 2007 and 2011, exceeded the warranty period established by the manufacturer, Information Satellite Systems Reshetnev (part of Roscosmos). All of them belong to the Glonass-M series, which have a guaranteed 7-year lifespan. The oldest satellite, which was launched in 2007, exceeded the warranty period by five years.

All in one GNSS/INS Navigation

Australia’s Advanced Navigation, which specializes in a broad range of fields including sensors, GNSS, inertial navigation, RF technologies, acoustics, robotics, AI and algorithms, offers the GNSS Compass, a fully integrated wheelmark certified GPS/ INS navigation and heading solution.

It contains a 9 axis IMU that is integrated with a dual antenna GNSS system with high performance antennas. It is designed to provide higher heading accuracy than magnetic systems and does not require any calibration or setup. The system is plug and play for NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 integrations, requiring no setup or configuration. www.advancednavigation.com

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