Signals & Space Monthly Briefing

May 2019

Prepared by the CyberWire (Wednesday, May 1, 2019)

Bandwidth usage appears to be an export control loophole.

The US restricts the export of satellite technology to China (and to other countries as well). But apparently services delivered by satellite are less rigorously controlled. An investigative piece in the Wall Street Journal describes how China has been able rent bandwidth on US satellites and apply it to communications in disputed areas. The article calls out Boeing and the Carlyle Group as two witting or unwitting enablers of the dodge, but the problem clearly extends beyond any two companies. The argument in favor of selling bandwidth has been that the trade is so lucrative that profit from it would be reinvested in ways that maintain an American technological edge. It was also assumed that the services would be used for benign, essentially civilian purposes, "like broadcasting sports." The reality has proven a bit more problematic, as the satellites have enabled military and security communications that served both international assertion and domestic repression.

Hong Kong is semi-autonomous, and is treated differently from the rest of China by US export regulations. And the satellite bandwidth passes through a Hong Kong firm, AsiaSat, which serves as a reseller and effectively a cutout for users in the rest of China, prominently including the Peoples Liberation Army. Critics of the arrangement hope there's an kill-switch built into the system, to lie there unobtrusively until the US needs it.

A military tech-sharing agreement modeled on the Five Eyes.

A report by William Greenwalt, former deputy undersecretary of defense for industrial policy, takes up a different export control problem. If it's too easy to sell satellite bandwidth to China, it seems to hard to trade innovative technology among the Five Eyes, that is, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greenwalt proposes rule changes that would allow the US and its closest allies to share crucial military technologies with each other (Breaking Defense). It would update the National Technology and Industrial Base for an era of renewed great power competition, and it would use the Five Eyes intelligence cooperation regime as a model for a new approach to the National Technology and Industrial Base. (Four of the Five Eyes are already encompassed by existing policy and legislation surrounding the National Technology and Industrial Base. Only New Zealand is outside looking in.)

Greenwalt offers four recommendations:

  1. "Establish a governing body of NTIB members to address harmonization of industrial-base issues."
  2. "Harmonize technology-transfer laws, regulations, policies, and practices to establish an integrated defense-industrial base."
  3. "To the maximum extent practicable, limit socioeconomic and acquisition process barriers to cooperation."
  4. "NTIB industrial-base approaches should serve as a test bed for innovations in international cooperation, be applied on a case-by-case basis to other close allies, and further civil-military integration between Silicon Valley and the Department of Defense."

As interesting as the recommendations are the three problems he argues the current NTIB poses for US technological development:

"First, there is a residual US focus on Cold War technologies that have long since proliferated to US adversaries, leaving allies with the burden of compliance. Changing business practices, such as the outsourcing of logistics and maintenance activities to the private sector, have exacerbated this compliance burden. Second, export contamination—or the so-called “ITAR taint”—and the extraterritorial application of US export-control laws limit the industrial base available to US defense programs, and has incentivized both allies and the commercial market to develop their own solutions that deliberately avoid US technology and persons. The third is the emerging possibility that other countries will incorporate the most intrusive parts of US export-control systems into their systems. As foreign technologies become increasingly important, this mirror imaging of export-control process around US standards could eventually have a dramatic impact on US operations by placing limitations on the use of foreign technology" (Leveraging the National Technology and Industrial Base to Address Great Power Competition)."

Bringing greater flexibility to satellite operations.

Air Force Space Command leaders speaking at the 35th Space Symposium discussed their plans for coming up with more flexible and cost-effective approaches to satellite communications. Congress has long been uneasy with what critics perceived as the stovepiped rigidity of the Air Force's approach to this family of technologies. A new satellite communications strategy is expected from the Air Force later this year. It's expected to feature close partnership with industry to move innovative and adaptable solutions more quickly to initial operational capability (Via Satellite).

Some of that flexibility will come from satellites designed to receive new missions while in orbit (C4ISRNET). New, readily adaptable ground stations are envisioned as an important element of the sought-after mission agility and resilience (Breaking Defense). And at the tactical level, integration of satellite communications into the Defense Department's enterprise management and control vision is seen as a must (ExecutiveBiz). The community is being called to move away from a model in which systems are designed competitively to preclude interoperation toward a more collaborative and flexible design approach (C4ISRNET).

Commercial satcom services are moving toward greater flexibility as well. This can be seen in the increasingly common practice of selling the services into the civilian aviation market on an hourly pricing model (Get Connected).

SpaceX received FCC approval to fly the satellites it intends to use for its 1500-spacecraft Starlink Internet-delivering constellation (Verge). It's an ambitious project, but the company is raising the money it needs to carry it out (Wall Street Journal).

OPIR update.

The Air Force remains committed to its Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program. The Service is working to reprogram $623 to support Next-Gen OPIR (Inside Defense).

A new ISAC aims to facilitate cyber information-sharing across the space sector.

Among the other announcements at the 35th Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs at the beginning of April was the formation of a Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, S-ISAC. The new ISAC will be formed within the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs, which is itself close by Schriever Air Force Base and its National Space Defense Center (CyberScoop). ISACs are sector-specific public-private partnerships designed to facilitate risk information sharing and collective defense against a full spectrum of threats to the members' cybersecurity. Companies working in the space sector will be encouraged to make the acquaintance of S-ISAC, which will in all probability work with sister organizations in the National Council of ISACs.

S-ISAC can be expected to complement the supply chain cybersecurity measures the Department of Defense is working to deliver to smaller contractors (FedTech).

Traditional acquisition and rapid acquisition.

Litigation has cleared the way for the Department of Defense to move forward with its multi-billion-dollar JEDI cloud acquisition program (Washington Business Journal). Amazon and Microsoft are the two competitors (Nextgov).

Cybersecurity products, services, and solutions continue to attract the attention of Services' and agencies' fast-track, non-traditional acquisition paths. GSA has updated Schedule 70 with its Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services Special Item Number (Fifth Domain). The Air Force has developed an alternative to the notoriously sclerotic authority-to-operate process (Federal News Network), and the Army is awarding up to $982 million for cyber research and development under its R4 contract vehicle (Fifth Domain)

Space junk and space operations.

Concerns raised by India's test of an anti-satellite interceptor last month are still on US military leaders' minds. The Indian test shot down a decommissioned satellite in low earth orbit. The debris was at a lower altitude than many critical assets (like the International Space Station) but a number of observers and policymakers denounced the shoot-down as risky and irresponsible. (US Strategic Command is said by Reuters to be tracking two-hundred-fifty fragments of satellite and interceptor the exercise,"Mission Shakti," produced. India's embassy in Washington said the test was conducted in the "upper atmosphere" so as to leave no trash behind, but that's not the story Strategic Command's radars are telling. And, "Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin' radars" isn't likely to be a winning diplomatic démarche, even among friends.)

On April 11th Air Force General John Hyten brought the matter up in testimony before Congress. His point was essentially an environmental one: if nations keep flinging junk into orbit, eventually we'll find our access to space severely restricted. “If we keep creating debris in space, eventually we are going to get to the point where it’s very difficult to find a place to launch, very difficult to find a place to put a satellite, to operate a satellite without having to maneuver it all the time to keep it away from debris," General Hyten testified. He proposes developing workable international norms to keep the vicinity of earth as garbage-free as possible. "All of those things are complicated and have to be worked in an international perspective,” he said (CNBC).

SpaceX has been thinking about the problem of debris in planning for its 1500-satellite Starlink constellation: the plan the FCC approved this month involved the satellites orbiting at half the altitude originally planned, the better to ensure that any defunct spacecraft quickly reenter safely (Ars Technica).

Space traffic and space jams.

Operational satellites have also been seen passing closer to one another than many operators are comfortable with. There's even some jostling going on in geosynchronous orbit, although that seems more a matter of intentional Russian and American maneuvering than it does overcrowding (Breaking Defense). But up there, ten kilometers amounts to arm's length.

How to keep track of all the things in orbit.

The Joint Mission System (JMS) designed to give the US military Space Situational Awareness is widely regarded as a troubled if not outright failed program. To provide an alternative source of Space Situational Awareness, the Air Force has decided to upgrade Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC), which has been operating at Cheyenne Mountain since 1979. Raytheon got the contract, and is proud of having taken the work from concept to proven solution in less than a year (Space Daily). SPADOC has been revived and extended beyond its planned end-of-life, and it may persist long enough for integration into the coming Space Fence, the centerpiece of which is planned to be a system of ground-based S-band radars, and into the still-taking-shape Enterprise Space Battle Management Command and Control (ESBMC2) (Breaking Defense). ESBMC2's future direction is still hazy, but it may be foreshadowed by a contract the Air Force has given Slingshot Aerospace to develop its Orbital Atlas predictive space situational awareness software for military use. Orbital Atlas is a commercially developed, artificially intelligent system that will be tested at Vandenberg and Schriever Air Force Bases (Space News).

New space race update.

The prospective leaders of the incipient US Space Command are already looking toward muscular deterrence and operations in cislunar space (Breaking Defense).

America's return to the moon looks as if it will ride a Falcon Heavy (Computing). SpaceX has achieved successful flights and recoveries with the heavy-lift booster, and, despite a setback during testing of its Dragon capsule (no injuries during the accident) seems likely to beat Boeing to commercial crewed spaceflight (Ars Technica).

China says it intends to build a moonbase within the decade, and they're eyeing a location near the moon's south pole for their research base (New York Post). Why the south pole? Probably, observers hint darkly, because Beijing would like to hog the water there.

"I live in Colorado Springs. I only work in cislunar space."

The new Service appears headed for eventual approval. Many companies are looking forward to a windfall as Space Force begins to contract for the systems and services it will need (Defense One).

Right now Colorado Springs seems to be the frontrunner (with competition from California, Florida, Alabama, Virginia, Texas, and Louisiana--all except the final entrant have obvious competing claims) for Space Command's terrestrial home (UPI).



Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting China, the European Union, Japan, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.

Selected Reading

Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities (8)

Trends (1)

Marketplace (35)

Products, Services, and Solutions (26)

Technologies, Techniques, and Standards (20)

Design and Innovation (8)

Research and Development (20)

Academia (1)

Legislation, Policy, and Regulation (29)

Litigation, Investigation, and Law Enforcement (4)

Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities

China Exploits Fleet of U.S. Satellites to Strengthen Police and Military Power (Wall Street Journal) Tangled ownership and offshore firms helped Beijing win access to superior technology, despite U.S. law preventing satellite sales to China. U.S. firms including private-equity giant Carlyle Group and Boeing Co. indirectly facilitate the efforts.

Top US military officer responsible for space warns of an urgent danger: Junk (CNBC) America's top military officer responsible for defending the U.S. from extraterrestrial threats warned lawmakers Thursday of an urgent danger: space junk.

The Stellar Dance: US, Russia Satellites Make Potentially Risky Close Approaches (Breaking Defense) US GSSAP satellites moved to within 10 kilometers of five Russian GEO-based satellites between 2016 and 2018, new Russian space observation data shows.

The chicken-and-egg debate about new threats in space (C4ISRNET) Years before Space Force, nations set in motion the current state of weapons aimed at orbit.

North Korea test-fires a new tactical guided weapon (Military Times) North Korea said it test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon” in an announcement Thursday that was possibly an attempt to register displeasure with the deadlock in nuclear talks with the United States without causing those coveted negotiations to collapse.

European powers express growing concern about Iranian missiles (Axios) They're calling for more scrutiny, especially of nuclear-capable systems.

Russians' GPS meddling creates navigation threat with far-reaching consequences (FreightWaves) Russia-based GPS hacking has led to 9,883 suspected incidents across 10 locations, including 1,311 civilian maritime vessel navigation systems since February 2016.

Ship navigation risks: defining the threat of GPS spoofing (Ship Technology) Ship navigation risks: as the digitisation of shipping continues, the spoofing of GNSS signals presents a concern to the industry and cybersecurity experts.


The New Revolution in Military Affairs (Foreign Affairs) For the U.S. military to succeed on the battlefields of the future, it will need a force built around large numbers of small, inexpensive, expendable, and highly autonomous systems.


Pushback continues as Air Force prepares to request bids for space launch services ( HASC Chairman Adam Smith is said to be unsatisfied with the Air Force’s response to his concerns about the Launch Service Procurement competition.

The Air Force Launch Plan Must Work (Breaking Defense) The Air Force has no choice but to pursue the current Launch Services Agreement. The plan is to have the three current launch partners — United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin — work on a $2.3 billion effort to design three space launch variations.

Air Force joins growing list of agencies paving a new cyber-approval path (Federal News Network) Air Force undersecretary and chief information officer Matt Donovan signed a memo March 22 detailing the new authority to operate (ATO) process that is about speed and rigor.

Deloitte reports on technology forces reshaping space sector (SpaceNews) Emerging digital technologies and innovative operating models will expand the role of space in multiple economic sectors, according to, “Tech Trends 2019: Space industry perspective,” a report released April 15 by Deloitte.

'Space Force' Windfall Unclear for Eager Defense Companies (Defense One) At Space Symposium, satellite makers big and small say they’re seeing the Pentagon awarding contracts faster, but still aren’t sure what to expect.

National security: An industry where fair markets just don't cut it (TheHill) Everyone loves the feeling of sipping their fair-market coffee while having a breakfast of sustainably-grown toast, free-range chicken eggs and locally-sourced greens. We love that feeling because we know that somewhere, someone is having a b

Defense Industry Companies Launch Supply Chain Cybersecurity Task Force (AiThority) The DIB Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) announced today the chartering of the Supply Chain Cybersecurity Industry Task Force to identify

GSA adds new cyber services to its tech acquisition vehicle (Fifth Domain) The new contract format better addresses the government's need to protect high value assets, according to the General Services Administration.

The Army is willing to spend big to support the cyber mission (Fifth Domain) A $982 million contract will cover research and development in support of cyber electromagnetic activities.

Air Force space launch competition caught in political crossfire (Space News) While Blue Origin is asking for a delay in the LSP decision, ULA is said to be fiercely opposed.

Lawmakers spar big-time on behalf of rocket companies (Roll Call) Billions of dollars and the future of national security are at stake in the fight over a new generation of space rockets by Space X and Blue Origin.

Another Launch Startup Gets Work from US Air Force (Defense One) New Zealand-based Rocket Lab will orbit a trio of satellites as Pentagon hunts for cheap ways to put sensors in space.

For OmegA, U.S. Air Force launch competition is a must-win ( The stakes could not be higher for OmegA as it prepares for two critical static-fire tests of its solid rocket motors this year with the goal to launch its first payload in 2021.

SpaceX Is Raising $500 Million Amid Internal Questions Over Satellite Internet Business (Wall Street Journal) Elon Musk’s SpaceX is raising another $500 million in funding as its president has raised questions about the viability of an internet-via-satellite business considered key to the company’s growth.

JEDI procurement moving forward after judge lifts stay (Washington Business Journal) The Pentagon is one step closer to awarding its massive $10 billion cloud computing contract after a federal claims court judge on Monday lifted a stay placed on the procurement process.

Langevin says let’s get on with the JEDI contract (Federal News Network) A top House Armed Services Committee Democrat says there has been enough protesting of the JEDI contract.

Pentagon Says No JEDI Conflict, Narrows Field to AWS and Microsoft (Nextgov) The Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract could be awarded by mid-July.

DISA Awards Two Contracts to Build a Moat Around the Pentagon’s Internet (Nextgov.) The two selected vendors will prototype cloud-based systems that isolate the department’s internal network from the public internet while still allowing employees to browse the web.

Microsoft Stock is No Longer a Dark Horse in Race for JEDI Contract (InvestorPlace) Microsoft's Azure has improved recently, leaving MSFT stock better positioned to benefit from winning the JEDI deal.

Microsoft Unveils Two Secret Data Centers Built for Classified Government Data ( Microsoft is building data centers and expanding security capabilities to compete with Amazon to host sensitive government data.

Microsoft progresses on secret cloud ahead of JEDI decision (Federal Times) Microsoft plans to offer private previews of its Azure Secret cloud while it awaits accreditation.

GAO Denies Protest Over $55M Deloitte Army Cyber Deal (Law360) The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday denied MacAulay-Brown's protest over a nearly $55 million Army cyber analytics deal awarded to Deloitte, saying it has "no basis to question" the Army's evaluation of Deloitte's proposed price, which was millions less than MacAulay-Brown's.

Raytheon services biz continues shift beyond traditional defense (Washington Technology) Raytheon's government services business continues to bet on itself and partnerships as it pursues more space, cyber and command-and-control opportunities.

Northrop Grumman Awarded Cyber Enterprise Services Contract by US Air Force (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) The U.S. Air Force has selected Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) to deliver Cyber Enterprise Services (CES) on U.S. Cyber Command’s Unified Platform. Northrop Grumman is one of five companies each...

SAIC increases space startup collaboration ( Josh Jackson, executive vice president and general manager of SAIC’s Solutions and Technology Group, said SAIC is working with around a dozen startups through accelerators in Austin, Texas and Colorado Springs, Colorado, to make their technology more available to U.S. government customers.

SAIC Wins NASA Safety, Mission Assurance Engineering Contract (AP NEWS) NASA awarded Science Applications International Corp. (NYSE: SAIC) the Safety and Mission Assurance Engineering Contract (SMAEC) II worth up to $292 million.

Serco Inc. Lands $53M Task Order for Navy Systems Support, Dave Dacquino Quoted (GovCon Wire) Serco Inc. will provide support for information assurance and var

CACI awarded $810M to support Air Force mobile command and control systems (Washington Technology) CACI International has received an $810 million sole-source contract to support the Air Force's mobile command and control systems.

CACI Wins $71 Million Task Order to Provide Sensor Systems Acquisition Services to U.S. Army (BusinessWire) CACI International Inc (NYSE: CACI) announced today it has won a $71 million task order to provide sensor systems acquisition services to the Army Pro

Mercury Systems Announces Acquisitions of The Athena Group and Syntonic Microwave (West) Two acquisitions expand scale and breadth of Company’s security and RF capabilities. Deepen market penetration in core embedded security and EW markets. Open new growth opportunities in C4ISR, DoD research laboratories and Intelligence Community.

Mercury Systems Receives $9.0M RF Microelectronics Order for Advanced Airborne Electronic Warfare Application (Nasdaq) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, announced it received a $9.0 million follow-on order from a leading defense prime contractor for precision-engineered radio frequency (RF) subsystems integrated into an advanced airborne electronic warfare program.

Mercury Systems to Deliver Intel Select Solution for Hardened Security with Lockheed Martin (Nasdaq) Solution to provide full stack, system security at cloud scale

L3 to Deliver Electronic Warfare Aircraft to Australia With Next-Generation Capability (BusinessWire) L3 Technologies (NYSE:LLL) announced today that it has been awarded a prime contract with an estimated value of more than $1 billion to deliver four a

Thales is selected by Switzerland for an image intelligence system (Geospatial World) Switzerland: Switzerland has selected Thales for an image intelligence system — drawing on their expertise in advanced multi-source data analysis technologies, Thales is optimally positioned, according to the company, to support governments in their fight against constantly evolving threats. Thales develops systems that governments need to maintain surveillance and identify and assess the ever-expanding array …

Parsons makes IPO filing public (Washington Technology) After months of SEC review, Parsons Corp. makes its registration for an initial public offering available for all to see.

Products, Services, and Solutions

FCC approves SpaceX’s plans to fly internet-beaming satellites in a lower orbit (The Verge) Changing the destination for more than 1,500 satellites

China adds new satellite to its Beidou network that aims to rival GPS (South China Morning Post) There are now 20 satellites in orbit for the navigation system, which is expected to be completed next year.

NASA safety panel offers more detail on Dragon anomaly, urges patience (Ars Technica) "Firing of eight SuperDracos resulted in an anomaly."

What’s Known About the SpaceX Crew Dragon Accident (WIRED) During engine tests of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft this past Saturday, the vehicle experienced what the company has characterized as an "anomaly."

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft had an anomaly during tests Saturday (Ars Technica) No one was injured, fortunately.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon Safety Test Went Very Wrong. Here's Why That Matters (Live Science) SpaceX tested the escape system on its Crew Dragon capsule. Smoke from the failure was visible for miles.

SpaceX’s test failure shows exactly how spacecraft get made (Quartz) You may have heard: Space is hard. So it's not quick or easy to find out why things go wrong, even for Elon Musk's company.

SpaceX Astronauts Will Almost Certainly Beat Boeing to ISS (The Motley Fool) When it comes to the space race, even if Boeing loses, it can still be a winning investment.

3 New Rockets Are on Track for 1st Test Flights in 2021 ( Meet OmegA, the Vulcan Centaur and New Glenn.

Boeing to provide high-speed SATCOM avionics for P-8A Poseidon aircraft (Military & Aerospace Electronics) U.S. Navy avionics experts are asking the Boeing Co. to provide as many as eight high-speed satellite communications (SATCOM) upgrades for the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft

Lockheed Martin begins testing on GPS 3 ground system (C4ISRNET) Lockheed Martin’s Contingency Operations ground system, which is expected to help fly GPS 3 satellites, began testing this week.

Amazon to offer broadband access from orbit with 3,236-satellite ‘Project Kuiper’ constellation (GeekWire) Amazon is joining the race to provide affordable broadband internet access around the globe via thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit.

Stratolaunch, the World's Biggest Airplane, Takes Flight (WIRED) Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's legacy moonshot, an aircraft to carry rockets to space, hit 17,000 feet.

Boeing Now Targeting August For Launch Of Uncrewed Starliner Capsule (90.7 WMFE) Boeing is delaying the test launch of a space capsule that will soon ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. The company blames a scheduling conflict.

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy's first commercial mission and successfully lands all three rocket boosters (Computing) The SpaceX rocket carried a telecoms satellite for Saudi Arabia-based firm Arabsat,Communications

We can admit it—we’re dazzled by the controlled fury of the Falcon Heavy (Ars Technica) This very tall image of 27 engines firing is worth checking out.

SpaceX Lands All 3 Boosters of the World's Most Powerful Rocket (WIRED) The first commercial flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy ended with two boosters touching down on land while a third alighted on its drone ship out at sea.

After delays, SpaceX's powerful Falcon Heavy lifts off in Florida (UPI) SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off on schedule at 6:35 p.m. Thursday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, the second launch for the biggest rocket in use today.

NASA could use a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to send astronauts back to the Moon (Computing) NASA's Jim Bridenstine says the agency is considering SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket and ULA's Delta IV Heavy rocket for the Agency's Moon mission,Communications

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch might mean moon missions for Elon Musk (Quartz) The world's most powerful rocket needs to show off for NASA.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Spacecraft Successfully Completes Rendezvous and Berthing with International Space Station (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today announced that the “S.S. Roger Chaffee” Cygnus™ spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and berthing maneuvers with the International Space Station earlier this morning....

Northrop Grumman Successfully Launches 11th Cargo Delivery Mission to the International Space Station for NASA (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully launched its AntaresTM rocket carrying a CygnusTM spacecraft today at 4:46 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at...

Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Second Ground Test of New Rocket Motor for United Launch Alliance Atlas V (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) conducted its second ground test of a 63-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) today in Promontory, Utah. The company developed this new side-mounted rocket motor to add power...

Mercury Introduces High-Performance Quad Socket 2U Rugged Server (Nasdaq) Expands rugged server portfolio for workload-intensive and virtualized edge applications

Mercury Systems Introduces Second Generation of Space-Qualified Solid State Drives in 6U SpaceVPX Form Factor (Nasdaq) Improved error correction algorithms for long-term data integrity in radiation-intense environments

Mercury Systems Unveils First OpenVPX Blade Server Powered by Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processors for Artificial Intelligence Applications (West) Next-generation edge processing technology enables advanced C4I processing, autonomous platforms and smarter missions

Technologies, Techniques, and Standards

Link 16 Hits the Ground Running (SIGNAL Magazine) Link 16 networks support theaterwide engagements from air to ground and ground to ground.

New Space ISAC plans to elevate the industry's awareness of cyberthreats (CyberScoop) At a time when corporations are planning to blanket the heavens with high-tech hardware, the space industry is responding with the creation of an information sharing and analysis center — a nonprofit organization that helps to track cyberthreats for member companies and related government agencies. The Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (S-ISAC) will be housed in Colorado Springs, Colorado, within the National Cybersecurity Center, itself a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization created to improve awareness about securing cyberspace.

When it comes to satellites, less can be more (C4ISRNET) The Pentagon is taking baby steps toward smaller satellites after previous iterations became oversized targets.

It’s time for military SATCOM to adapt (C4ISRNET) To maintain superiority in an increasingly competitive global military landscape, new network architecture must be enabled to assure resilient, uninterrupted communications from any location at any time.

Four technologies that will transform maritime satcoms (Riviera) Martyn Wingrove examines the forces that will shape maritime connectivity over the next decade and beyond

Ground Stations Can Boost Mix Of Small & Exquisite Sats: Raytheon (Breaking Defense) Modern space strategy, with its focus on resilience, requires “understanding the capabilities of each satellite and managing them as a constellation:” Jane Chappell, vice president of Raytheon's Global Intelligence Solutions (GIS) mission area.

Raytheon’s Jane Chappell: Satellite Ground Stations, Automated Tech Can Support Intell Missions (ExecutiveBiz) Jane Chappell, vice president of global intelligence solutions at Raytheon, has said ground stations and automated technologies could help the U.S. military and intelligence community utilize small and large satellites, Breaking Defense reported Monday.

Are reprogrammable satellites ready for prime time? (C4ISRNET) A new generation of satellites is coming to the launch pad, and it’s promising a tectonic shift in satellite operations.

Lockheed to Deploy New Satellite Architecture to Support In-Orbit Mission Changes; Rick Ambrose Quoted - GovCon Wire (GovCon Wire) Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will integrate a new software-defined

How the Navy is changing its thinking on information warfare (C4ISRNET) Vice Adm. Matthew Kohler, the Navy’s top information warfare officer, reveals how the service is shifting as the battlefield evolves.

Cyberwarriors get first look at critical new tools (Fifth Domain) The U.S. Air Force delivered to U.S. Cyber Command the first iteration of Unified Platform, a new cyber platform that will give teams important tools and help with coordination.

This isn’t your dad’s denial and deception (C4ISRNET) In a multidomain environment, electronic decoys could be critical to units' survivability.

USAF and Raytheon to modernize space debris tracking system (Intelligent Aerospace) The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and a consortium of tech firms led by Raytheon are modernizing and simplifying the legacy Space Defense Operations Center, a 1990s-era system that tracks and monitors space debris.

What About JMS? Air Force Reanimates ‘Old Clunker’ Space Tracking System (Breaking Defense) JMS was supposed to revolutionize how the US tracks objects in space. Its billion-dollar bust means the Air Force must revive SPADOC, a widely reviled vestige of the 1980s.

The DoD’s cyber training platform heads to the next step (Fifth Domain) The Army is pursuing the next build of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment.

How the Army will sustain its tactical network of the future (C4ISRNET) The rapid insertion of commercial off-the-shelf systems looks to revolutionize the Army's next-generation tactical network, but it also brings challenges for the sustainment community.

How agencies can protect legacy IT as they modernize (Fifth Domain) As the federal space makes the jump to the cloud and focuses on attracting young talent, there’s a real fear that mission-critical systems will become unprotected while the people that understand them become scarce.

The National Guard decodes how to beat encrypted attacks (Fifth Domain) Cyber Shield 19 aims to train National Guardsman on best practices in cyber detection while building industry partnerships.

AFCYBER Airmen reach ‘firsts’ in global exercises (DVIDS) Air Forces Cyber Airmen, acting in their role as Joint Forces Headquarters-Cyber (Air Force), concluded a series of global exercises March 26, 2019.

A New Perspective Aids Cyber Inspections Amid Mission Risk (SIGNAL Magazine) The Defense Department is employing a new design for its Next Generation (NEXTGEN) cybersecurity inspection that links the inspection to an organization’s operational mission.

Design and Innovation

Can the Pentagon sell Silicon Valley on AI as ethical war? (C4ISRNET) At a Defense Innovation Board listening session, Pentagon Counsel makes case for military AI, to some public skepticism.

The Pentagon is Investing in Space Robots to Repair Satellites ( The robots would service military, government and commercial spacecraft more than 22,000 miles above the Earth.

DARPA’s director on how the Pentagon can transition innovation (C4ISRNET) Steven Walker, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, shares his thoughts on the Defense Department's relationships with the tech community and the Pentagon’s next moonshot.

All This ‘Innovation’ Won’t Save the Pentagon (Defense One) The Defense Department, a hierarchy fixated on technology, is unequipped to confront a world of disruptive challenges.

Why the government can’t lead IT innovation by itself (Federal Times) The federal government is no longer the monolith it once was for technology research and development.

What the Air Force learned from insurgents’ networks (C4ISRNET) Air Force leaders plan to experiment this summer with a mesh network that would allow military users in hard-to-reach areas to connect to the service’s top secret network and share intelligence information without the fear of losing service.

Roper: Air Force Cloud May Track & Target All From Space To Ground — EXCLUSIVE (Breaking Defense) Let's not get too carried away. "We've got to earn our way to cislunar," Will Roper said with a chuckle. "We've got to prove we can do LEO and GEO well." Still, "this isn't too far fetched."

Measures of Power (Foreign Affairs) On the lasting value of net assessment.

Research and Development

Northrop Grumman Launches New Research Consortium for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) launched a new research consortium with universities to advance machine learning and artificial intelligence programs. The REALM consortium is an industry-academia partnership to...

China pledges to have first moon base within a decade (New York Post) The Chinese space agency has spent the first few several months of 2019 exploring the far side of the moon after being the first nation to successfully perform a soft landing on the half of Earth’s…

NASA to conduct simulated asteroid impact exercise with European Space Agency (Computing) Asteroid impact simulation comes ahead of a live test planned for 2022

Japan Is Testing Earth's Asteroid Defense System (Popular Mechanics) In order to figure out how asteroids explode, JAXA fired a projectile at one.

Air Force Launches Electronic Warfare Roadmap: EMS ECCT 2.0 (Breaking Defense) The Air Force is looking across the enterprise to build a comprehensive map of all electronic warfare capabilities for the second stage of its landmark service-wide probe of how to bolster the Air Force’s EW and cyber warfare capabilities.

Northrop to Help Develop, Implement Tools on Cybercom's Unified Platform (ExecutiveBiz) Northrop Grumman received a two-year, $24M contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop and incorporate technical capabilties into a unified platform designed to support U.S. Cyber Command operations.

NASA offers $69 million contract to SpaceX to deflect asteroids (Computing) Demonstration mission expected to be launched in June 2021

Air Force Seeks Research Proposals from Industry and Academia (SIGNAL Magazine) The service looks to spur innovation with its $100 million Broad Agency Agreement.

After its first attempt botched the landing, SpaceIL commits to second Beresheet lunar mission (TechCrunch) The minds behind Israel’s SpaceIL attempted lunar landing convened today to begin planning for a second lunar mission. In an announcement yesterday, the chairman of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, said that the leaders of the group behind the Beresheet launch would begin meeting to find a new group of …

DARPA Picks Three Competitors For Launch Challenge Prize (Breaking Defense) Tucson-based Vector Launch, Virgin Orbit, and a "stealth" startup can compete for prizes up to $10 million in the DARPA Launch Challenge.

DARPA Seeks to Make Scalable On-Chip Security Pervasive (Mil Aero) For the past decade, cybersecurity threats have moved from high in the software stack to progressively lower levels of the computational hierarchy, working their way towards the underlying hardware.

Israeli spacecraft crashes onto moon after technical failures (Reuters) Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed onto the moon on Thursday after a series of...

SpaceX fires up prototype 'Starhopper' engine for the first time (Computing) Test caused windows to rattle in homes located near SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas facility

Pentagon confirms it is ending the Jason advisory contract, but group’s work may continue (Defense News) A group of outside advisers to the Pentagon are losing their contract.

The Pentagon Is Killing a Key Independent-Research Program ( For decades, JASON studies helped DOD and other agencies get outside perspectives on scientific and technical topics.

Pentagon’s Jason group is not worth mourning (Defense News) While a rather novel concept in the 1960s, it's not so much today.

Not dead yet: Nuclear weapons agency moves to save Jason advisory group (Defense News) The NNSA is prepared to keep the JASON contract alive, at least for the short term.

After Pentagon Ends Contract, Top-Secret Scientists Group Vows To Carry On (NPR) The 60 or so members of the Jasons are normal academics by day. But each summer, they come together to study tough problems for the military, intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.

Are Humans Fit for Space? A ‘Herculean’ Study Says Maybe Not (WIRED) Scientists around the world compared the genomes and health changes of twin astronauts. Scott Kelly (left) flew in the International Space Station for a year while Mark Kelly stayed on Earth.

U.S. Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs (POLITICO) The service says it has also "provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety."


Northrop Grumman Signs Agreement with JAXA and Young Astronauts Club of Japan for Collaboration in Space Education (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Young Astronauts Club of Japan (YAC) for collaboration in space-related education...

Legislation, Policy, and Regulation

Japan, US Confirm Cyber-Attacks in Scope of Security Treaty ( The move is aimed at monitoring movements of military satellites operated by China and Russia.

Saber rattling: China and US at a dangerous military tipping point (CNBC) China is threatening retaliation over the THAAD missile system deployed at the Osan Air Base in South Korea.

The chill in US-Russia relations has some worried about stumbling into a military conflict (Military Times) The deep chill in U.S.-Russian relations is stirring concern in some quarters that Washington and Moscow are in danger of stumbling into an armed confrontation that, by mistake or miscalculation, could lead to nuclear war.

Air Force Unveils S & T Strategy to Confound China, Russia (Breaking Defense) Air Force wants China and that other, much poorer competitor known as Russia, to worry the US is in the early stages of fielding weapons systems that will tip the strategic see-saw to the American side. As outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson made clear here today, it is, in part, a cost-imposition strategy.

Who Wants to Be the New Air Force Secretary? Perhaps Not Many ( Experts warn it may not be so easy to find top-notch candidates willing to be the new Air Force secretary.

SDA’s Kennedy: Cislunar Space The Next Military Frontier (Breaking Defense) As commercial activities such as mining expand from Earth to the Moon, there will be "a need for the equivalent to a Navy or Air Force" to protect that region of space, says SDA chief Fred Kennedy.

Air Force leaders on space deterrence: ‘At some point, we’ve got to hit back’ (Defense News) The top two Air Force officials hinted at this year's Space Symposium that the U.S military would take offensive actions in space if needed to deter an enemy.

NATO approves spending at US forces support site in Poland, eyes expanded presence in Black Sea (Stars and Stripes) NATO said construction on the site near Powidz, Poland, will begin this summer and is expected to take about two years to complete.

‘The 21st-Century Space Race Is On’ (Foreign Policy) Michael Waltz, Congress’s first Green Beret, talks about the new Space Force and America’s budding commercial launch industry.

To Deter Enemies, US May Eventually Flex Space Muscle (Air Force Magazine) Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Wednesday the US may eventually demonstrate its offensive space capabilities in order to deter potential threats.

The U.S. Is at Risk of ‘Chain of Command Confusion in Space,’ Report Warns (Bloomberg) Command and control of military space operations unclear: CRS. Shanahan expected to testify on space force issues on Thursday.

National Reconnaissance Office could join Space Force down the road, Shanahan says (Defense News) The NRO could eventually join the Pentagon.

Stage is set for critical Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Trump's Space Force proposal ( SASC wants to how the Space Force will support and integrate with U.S. Space Command and the Space Development Agency.

Space Force Draws Senators’ Skepticism Over Costs, Bureaucracy (Bloomberg GOV) Senators peppered top Pentagon officials with doubts about Space Force plans Thursday and said they remain undecided on whether to authorize the new military service.

Did the Pentagon do enough to convince Congress it needs a Space Force? (Defense News) Pentagon officials were on the Hill to address a key pressure point to convince Congress to support its plan for the war-fighting domain of space.

Rep. Mike Turner on why he’s softened on Space Force, and the importance of an East Coast missile defense site (Defense News) The lawmaker seems more supportive of plans to establish to Space Force, but that doesn't mean Congress will accept the administration's proposal as is, he tells Defense News.

Rep. Jim Cooper talks Trump’s Space Force takeover, and what’s next for nukes and missile defense (Defense News) Should there be a separate service for space? We check in with the head of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

Six Air Force Bases in Running for Space Command Headquarters: Report ( The Air Force is narrowing down the best location to house the Defense Department's newest unified combatant command.

Colorado is front-runner for Space Command home (UPI) New branch of the military dedicated to space is likely to be based in Colorado, at least temporarily, according to experts and an industry advocate in Florida.

US Army terminal missile defense system is headed to Eastern Europe (Defense News) A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system is deploying to the eastern flank this summer.

Editorial: StratCom Commander John Hyten is a strong choice for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Omaha World-Herald) At StratCom, he has demonstrated a strong strategic sense and an analytical ability that would serve the Joint Chiefs well.

Air Force hopes new organization can boost electronic warfare (C4ISRNET) Air Force leaders are touting the creation of a new information warfare organization earlier this month as a way to show the increasing importance of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.

How America Plans to Stop the Next Inside Threat (The National Interest) The government has big plans to reform its security clearance process.

Air Force S&T plan changes promotions, adds CTO position (Federal News Network) The new science and technology strategy dictates how the Air Force will invest in research through 2030.

SAUDI ARABIA : New Saudi Space Agency takes on more staff (Intelligence Online) Former astronaut Sultan bin Salman will make his first trip to Moscow as head of the new Saudi Space Agency

Competition with China requires new technology transfer rules for US allies and Silicon Valley (Defense News) The time has come for new defense export reforms, says a former Pentagon official and key staffer for Sen. John McCain.

Leveraging the National Technology Industrial Base to Address Great-Power Competition (Atlantic Council) Read the Publication (PDF) In US law, the National Technology and Industrial Base (NTIB) comprises the industrial bases of the United States and three of its closest historical allies, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Canada was included...

Trump makes security clearance transfer official with executive order (Federal News Network) After months of promises that the move was imminent, President Donald Trump has made the transfer of the governmentwide security clearance program from the Office of Personnel Management to the…

DOD Steps Up Supply Chain Security Programs for Smaller Contractors (FedTech) With tens of thousands of suppliers involved in the Pentagon supply chain, visibility is vital.

Litigation, Investigation, and Law Enforcement

Acting defense secretary cleared of wrongdoing in probe of his ties to Boeing (Washington Post) The Pentagon watchdog’s office reviewed more than 7,300 pages of documents, including 1,700 that were classified, its report says.

Contractors Are Giving Away America’s Military Edge (Bloomberg) The Pentagon needs to hold suppliers responsible for security lapses.

Despite the ‘potential ethical violations,’ JEDI moves forward (Federal Times) Two companies have been selected to move forward in the Department of Defense's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract consideration.

We Love the Pentagon’s ‘Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure’ (War is Boring) This story originally appeared on Nov. 18, 2014. Ethically, it’s been a rough few years for the military. In July 2013, an Air Force major general went on an epic five-day bender while on a diplomatic mission in Russia. That November, Navy officials launched an investigation into misconduct involving top...

Compiled and published by the CyberWire editorial staff. Views and assertions in source articles are those of the authors, not CyberWire, Inc. or Cosmic AES


Sign up to get the Signals & Space monthly briefing - powered by the CyberWire.

Prior Issues

Cosmic AES - Experts in Space and Communications