In Brief

Jun 1st, 2008

Boeing completes hardware installation for SBSS Satellite Operations Center

The Boeing Co. in St. Louis finished installing the hardware for its Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) system’s Satellite Operations Center (SOC). The SOC has the necessary security certification to enable the SBSS program to begin integrated testing. “The SBSS SOC will transform Space Situational Awareness by providing a gateway to a responsive, taskable sensor,” says U.S. Air Force Col. James Jordan, commander of the Space Situational Awareness Group in the Space Superiority Systems Wing at the Space and Missiles Center in Los Angeles. “This capability is key to enabling the event-driven operations concept of the future.” The SOC is the operational command and control system for the SBSS mission. It will conduct mission planning, command satellites, manage satellite health, and perform mission data processing. The system includes industry-standard commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software that can be maintained with minimum influence on operations. The SOC’s redundant, open architecture also provides the flexibility to upgrade functionality and incorporate current and next-generation systems, Boeing officials say. The full functional build of the software has demonstrated command and telemetry processing with the SBSS space vehicle. The software is in segment testing. Boeing has overall responsibility for the SBSS system and is developing the SBSS Ground System with Harris Corp. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory.

NASA Polar satellite ends service after 12 years

After more than 12 years of collecting data on how Earth’s space environment is influenced by continual bombardment from radiation and particles from the sun, NASA has decommissioned its Polar spacecraft. Polar—built by Lockheed Martin—launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 24 Feb. 1996 and was the second element in NASA’s Global Geospace Science (GGS) program. In an orbit that loops over the Earth’s poles, the Polar spacecraft and its instruments have enabled scientists to study the movement of energetic charged particles above the polar regions, Lockheed Martin officials say. The spacecraft originally was required to operate for two years, yet the small satellite and its instruments continued sending back valuable data until this spring—more than 12 years later. The information yielded more than a thousand papers in refereed scientific journals and will continue to provide researchers a fertile field of discovery for years to come, company officials say. The other spacecraft in NASA’s GGS program, the Lockheed Martin Wind, launched on 1 Nov. 1994 and continues to operate in orbit around the L-1 libration point about one one-hundredth of the way from the Earth to the sun, where the gravitational pull of the Earth and sun and centrifugal force balance in such a way as to give an orbit of exactly one Earth year. The objectives of the Wind mission are to provide complete plasma, energetic particle, and magnetic field input for magnetospheric and ionospheric studies; determine the magnetospheric output to interplanetary space in the up-stream region; and investigate basic plasma processes occurring in the near-Earth solar wind. The NASA GGS program is part of a larger effort called the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program that was mounted by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

Northrop Grumman to provide New STARLite radar for U.S. Army UV application

Officials at the U.S. Army Communication-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J., selected Northrop Grumman in Baltimore to produce the multifunction radar for the Extended Range/Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) radar program. Under the terms of the $42 million contract with the Command’s Robotics and Unmanned Systems Program Management Office, Northrop Grumman will deliver 10 STARLite synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication radars to the Army. “STARLite will provide precision ground maps and indications of moving targets vital to surveillance and protection of forces on the ground,” says Dave Shrum, vice president of weapons and sensors for Northrop Grumman’s Land Forces Division. “STARLite’s light weight will enable its installation on armed UAVs alongside optical sensors, giving our warfighters unprecedented situational awareness and target coordination to reduce the ‘kill chain’ on a wide variety of UAV and manned systems.”

BAE Systems to develop secure communications network

BAE Systems in Burlington, Mass., will develop an intrinsically secure mobile military communications network designed to protect against cyber attacks. The company will develop and test network protocols that support the integrity, availability, reliability, confidentiality, and safety of network communications and data. The $8.5 million contract, awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Intrinsically Assurable Mobile Ad hoc Network (IAMANET) program, targets the security challenges of mobile ad hoc networks. Such networks are particularly susceptible to passive analysis and manipulation by adversaries. IAMANET will immunize networks against traditional cyber attacks such as protocol exploits, denial of service, data exfiltration, and propagation of worms. BAE Systems leads a research team to develop a system that combines advances in identity-based encryption, network coding, dynamic access control, and resilient distributed services. The team consists of the Calif. Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs. Work on the IAMANET contract will be performed at BAE Systems facilities in Burlington and Arlington, Va.

Army approves final design of WIN-T for warfighters

U.S. Army officials have approved the final design of increments 1 and 2 of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program, authorizing General Dynamics C4 Systems in Taunton, Mass., and partner Lockheed Martin to prepare for field testing in October 2008. After testing WIN-T will deploy on-the-move communications capabilities in 2009. WIN-T will be the Army’s primary battlefield communications network. The approval follows critical design reviews (CDR) last January and February. During the CDRs, the Army assessed the systems’ final designs to validate that baseline requirements would be met. A key success factor in these CDRs was the detailed plan to enable mobile battle command down to the company level, General Dynamics officials say. In particular, WIN-T Increment 2 will provide tactical communication nodes, mobile points of presence, vehicle wireless packages, and soldier network extensions to enable mobile battle command in a completely ad-hoc, self-forming, self-healing network. These warfighter-mobility features will support a commander’s ability to exercise command-and-control and synchronize warfighting functions from anywhere on the battlefield. Other team members include BAE Systems, Harris Corp., and L-3 Communications.

Raytheon to upgrade satellite communication terminals

Raytheon in Marlborough, Mass., won a contract to produce and install upgrade kits for the Army’s Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal, or SMART-T. The upgrades will be installed on joint and international terminals for the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps as well as for Canada and the Netherlands. The advanced extremely high-frequency kits expand by a factor of four times the data rate of existing SMART-T systems. The Army’s SMART-T was the first AEHF system to go into production with the proven capability to communicate with the next generation of AEHF communications satellites. AEHF is the Department of Defense’s primary system to provide protected satellite communications through 2020. Canada and the Netherlands will receive an AEHF-only version of the terminal.

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