Satellite Evolution Global - May 2024

Page 1


Competitive enablers

The word “competition” brings to mind a contest or a rivalry, so it is easy to think of SpaceX and Blue Origin as going head-to-head. Both companies intend to be long-term leaders in the space industry. Both were founded at roughly the same time, and both have been privately financed to the tune of about US$10 billion—and in the case of Blue Origin, probably more. If you look at these companies as competitors, SpaceX is winning. Its Falcon 9 family of rockets have enjoyed 333 successful missions and Starlink now has more than 5,760 fully operational satellites in its mega constellation. In contrast, Blue Origin has flown New Shepherd only 23 times and Amazon’s Project Kuiper has a mere two prototype satellites in orbit. But there is more to Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ efforts than a race to the top. These brilliant and very successful businessmen are dedicated to enabling humans to be a multi-planetary species. Musk aims to get humanity to Mars in the next five to ten years. Jeff Bezos says that he would love to see a trillion humans living in our solar system on giant space stations. To realize these dreams, and the space economy that comes along with them, starts with building fully reusable (and reliable) rockets that can carry enormous payloads at a price point that players can afford. SpaceX is getting closer and closer to having a fully functional Starship. Blue Origin’s New Glenn is slated to launch for the first time later this year. Having these two heavy lift vehicles fully operational and available will certainly boost the space economy, but the real game changer will be in both companies’ ability to manufacture at a rapid clip for a reasonable cost.

This is by no means easy, but Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have already shown us that they have the ingenuity and staying power to enable the creation of a powerful space infrastructure that can support not only their visions, but the manifestations of many other entrepreneurs. To quote Bezos, “The marker of success will be when you can have a really valuable space company started in a dorm room; then we know that we’ve built enough infrastructure so that ingenuity and imagination can really be unleashed.” Competitors or not, our industry needs both of these companies not only to succeed but also to thrive. In this issue of Satellite Evolution Global, we learn a lot more about the evolution of the space economy and role that SpaceX and Blue Origin are playing from Chad Anderson, founder and managing partner of Space Capital. We also hear from Per Norén, CEO of Ovzon, who shares his thoughts about the company’s near-term agenda and future opportunities. Joshua Cryer, President, and CEO of Reticulate Micro explains how the application of quantum mathematics can dramatically improve the security of video at the tactical edge. Dr. Wei Shu, CTO of Zero Error Systems provides an overview of how Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) semiconductor devices and Radiation Hardening by Design (RHBD) are democratizing space exploration. In addition, Thorsten Stremlau of Trusted Computing Group discusses the protection of satellite infrastructure through trusted standards. | May 2024 3 #Ovzon #ReticulateMicro #ZeroErrorSystems #TCG #SpaceCapital
Photo courtesy Ovzon

Features & Market Reports

MILITARY: | May 2024 4 Editorial Contents DS Air Publications Boxer Retreat, Langhurstwood Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4QD, United Kingdom T: +44 1403 473982 | Email: | Satellite Evolution Global - May 2024 - Volume 3 No. 3 ISSN: 2755-1326 Cameraman James Shortland Executive Editor Crispin Littlehales Managing Director David Shortland Publishing Director Richard Hooper Business Development Manager Belinda Bradford Circulation Manager Elizabeth George Production No part of this publication may be transmitted, reproduced or electronically stored without the written permission from the publisher. DS Air Publications does not give any warranty as to the content of the material appearing in the magazine, its accuracy, timeliness or fitness for any particular purpose. DS Air Publications disclaims all responsibility for any damages or losses in the use and dissemination of the information. All editorial contents Copyright © 2024 | DS Air Publications | All rights reserved Regulars Satellite News & Analysis 6 Executive Movers & Shakers 34 #TCG #SpaceCapital #ReticulateMicro #Ovzon
The unfair advantage: Video at the tactical edge 18 COMMERCIAL: Security in the Stars: Protecting satellite infrastructure through ‘trusted’ standards 28 COMMERCIAL: How COTS and RHBD are democratizing space exploration 30 Multimedia Editor Simon Shortland Executive Q&A Q&A Per Norén, CEO, Ovzon 10 Q&A Chad Anderson, Founder and Managing Partner, Space Capital 22

SES to acquire Intelsat in compelling transaction focused on the future

EUROPE: SES and Intelsat have announced an agreement for SES to acquire Intelsat through the purchase of 100% of the equity of Intelsat Holdings S.a.r.l. for a cash consideration of $3.1 billion (€2.8 billion) and certain contingent value rights. The combination will create a stronger multi-orbit operator with greater coverage, improved resiliency, expanded suite of solutions, enhanced resources to profitably invest in innovation, and benefit from the collective talent, expertise, and track record of both companies.

The combination will deliver greater value for customers and partners, as well as providing a compelling alternative in the new era of growth, innovation, and competition for the satellite communications industry.

The transaction, which is subject to relevant regulatory clearances/filings and customary provisions concerning cooperation and measures in seeking such regulatory clearances, which are expected to be received during the second half of 2025, is fully supportive of SES’s financial policy and is underpinned by expected total synergies equivalent to 85 percent of the total equity value of the transaction. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of both companies and Intelsat shareholders holding approximately 73 percent of the common shares have entered into customary support agreements requiring them to vote in favour of the transaction.

Transaction highlights

• Delivers €2.4 billion (NPV) of synergies (85 percent of equity consideration) with 70 percent executed within three years afterclosing.

• Expands multi-orbit satellite-based capabilities, spectrum portfolio, and global ground network to serve customers.

• Increases revenue in high demand and growing Networks segments representing ~60 percent of expanded revenue base.

• Combines complementary investment in space, ground, and network innovation to unlock future value and opportunity.

• Brings together a wealth of collective talent, expertise, engineering knowledge, and go-to-market capabilities.

• Company([1]) will benefit from gross backlog of €9 billion, revenue of €3.8 billion, and Adjusted EBITDA of €1.8 billion.

• Medium-term Adjusted EBITDA growth driving future free cash flow (FCF) generation outlook.

• Commitment to investment grade metrics with net leverage below three times within 12-18 months after closing.

• Commitment to annual dividend of €0.50 per A-share with expanded FCF base supporting potential for future increases.

Adel Al-Saleh, CEO of SES, commented: “This important, transformational agreement strengthens our business, enhances our ability to deliver world-class customer solutions, and generates significant value for our shareholders in a value accretive acquisition which is underpinned by sizeable and readily executable synergies. In a fast-moving and competitive satellite communication industry, this transaction expands our multi-orbit space network, spectrum portfolio, ground | May 2024 6
Satellite News & Analysis #SES #Intelsat

infrastructure around the world, go-to-market capabilities, managed service solutions, and financial profile. I am excited by the opportunity to bring together our two companies and augment SES’s own knowledge base with the added experience, expertise, and customer focus of the Intelsat colleagues.

Going forward, customers will benefit from a more competitive portfolio of solutions with end-to-end offerings in valuable Government and Mobility segments, combined with value-added, efficient, and reliable offerings for Fixed Data and Media customers. This combination is also positive for our supply chain partners and the industry in creating new opportunities as satellitebased solutions become an increasingly integral part of the wider communications ecosystem.

Our expanded business will deliver sustained EBITDA growth and strong cash generation, in turn supporting incremental profitable investment in capabilities and solutions to fulfil rapidly expanding and evolving customer demand while also delivering sustained returns to shareholders.”

David Wajsgras, CEO of Intelsat, commented: “Over the past two years, the Intelsat team has executed a remarkable strategic reset. We have reversed a 10-year negative trend to return to growth, established a new and game-changing technology roadmap, and focused on productivity and execution to deliver competitive capabilities. The team today is providing our customers with network performance at five 9s and is more dedicated

than ever to customer engagement and delivering on our commitments. This strategic pivot sets the foundation for Intelsat’s next chapter.

By combining our financial strength and world-class team with that of SES, we create a more competitive, growth-oriented solutions provider in an industry going through disruptive change. The combined company will be positioned to meet customers’ needs around the world and exceed their expectations.”

SSC next gen OPIR Polar Program completes Space Vehicle CDR

NORTH AMERICA: Space Systems Command (SSC) successfully passed a major milestone, completing the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Polar (NGP) Space Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR) on April 25, 2024.

This CDR is the culmination of over 50 subsystem, mission payload, and space vehicle design reviews, and confirms the detailed design maturity and readiness to proceed with system fabrication, coding, assembly, integration, and test of the space vehicle. This major milestone for the NGP program demonstrates the space vehicle’s design will meet the northern hemisphere strategic missile warning warfighter requirements and counter evolving threats. | May 2024 7
#SpaceSystemsCommand #PolarSpaceVehicle #SES Satellite News & Analysis

This successful CDR milestone shows the space vehicle meets standards and is on track to continue our launch planning efforts,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Laliberte, materiel leader for SSC’s NGP program. “As a major component of our series of checks and evaluations, this success boosts our confidence the program will deliver essential capabilities to the warfighter to counter aggressive actions from US adversaries. We leveraged and streamlined acquisition authorities on the Next Gen OPIR program to prototype solutions, using available industry capabilities and mature technology ensuring we can rapidly deliver improved capabilities for the warfighter.”

NGP is designed to provide a resilient space-based global missile warning capability against emerging missile, counter-space, and cyber threats, and will succeed the legacy Space Based Infrared Systems Highly Elliptical Orbit hosted program. Next Gen OPIR continues the nation’s missile warning mission as SSC and Space Development Agency continues to develop the future resilient-missile warning, tracking and defense architecture.

“The NGP system is a critical cornerstone of our nation’s deterrence strategy, providing a strategic missile warning capability with unrivaled performance and resilience against any adversary. As China and Russia continue to modernize, our system provides the Nation with an unblinking eye that warns us of impending attacks against our homeland and our allies. It is critical to field these systems within cost, schedule and with the right technology, allowing our nation to maintain our strategic

This successful CDR milestone shows the space vehicle meets standards

advantages in space,” said Capt. Christian Chavez, space vehicle and resiliency lead, SSC NGP program.

Space Systems Command is the US Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring, developing, and delivering resilient capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in, from, and to space. SSC manages a $15.6 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defense and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, academic and allied organizations to outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.

Hughes opens state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and private 5G Incubation Center in Maryland

NORTH AMERICA: Hughes Network Systems has announced the opening of a new cutting-edge manufacturing facility and private 5G incubation center in Germantown, Maryland, underscoring the long-standing commitment of Hughes to technological advancement and fostering local talent in the region.

The Hughes Manufacturing Facility (EXM) produces USmade hardware that powers the networks on which people, enterprises, and governments everywhere depend, like the Hughes HT3000W JUPITER ™ System satellite modem and the Hughes HL1120W Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite terminal. In addition to about 400 engineers, technicians and manufacturing staff, the Hughes EXM facility utilizes advanced robotics to assist in the manufacture of high-tech products such as satellite modems and terminals. The EXM facility will also serve as a testing ground for private 5G solutions just now reaching the market for Enterprise applications as well as secure 5G networking applications critical to the US Department of Defense.

"Hughes has deep roots in this community. Our capabilities evolved from a long-ago startup in Rockville, Maryland, and we have grown into what is now the leading provider of broadband satellite services, products, and managed network solutions," said Paul Gaske, COO, Hughes. "The EXM facility allows us to continue a proud tradition of designing and manufacturing leading edge products here in Maryland."

Located in the Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology on the Montgomery College campus, the new manufacturing center will offer hands-on training and educational initiatives for students, helping to develop a pipeline of local technical talent. Students will be able to interact with leading engineers at Hughes through internships, mentoring, and shadowing opportunities. This 140,000-square-foot space is the first-ever manufacturing facility on a community college campus in the US.

As a leading satellite technology and managed service provider for government entities and defense agencies, Hughes will use the new manufacturing center to provide the US Department of Defense with much-needed, secure onshore manufacturing capabilities. | May 2024 8 Satellite News & Analysis #5G #SpaceSystemsCommand #Hughes

"The opening of EXM solidifies our dedication to technological innovation, engineering expertise, and fostering the next generation of industry leaders," said Hamid Akhavan, President and CEO, EchoStar. "The products imagined, designed, and fabricated in this building further advance our mission of connecting everyone, everywhere."

Saudi Arabia to launch a Centre for Space Futures in the Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Network

MIDDLE EAST: The World Economic Forum has signed an agreement with the Saudi Space Agency to establish a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) focused on space.

The Centre for Space Futures, set to open in autumn 2024, will be hosted by the Saudi Space Agency. It aims to facilitate public-private discussions on space collaboration, incorporating best practices from the Forum and its communities into the global space sector, and generate contributions to accelerate space technologies.

“From monitoring the effects of climate change to increasing human connectivity via satellites, the impact of the global space sector on Earth cannot be overstated,” said Jeremy Jurgens, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “The addition of the Centre for Space Futures into the C4IR network recognizes the importance of addressing various topics such as space technological innovation, policies and regulatory, as well as sustainability.”

The Centre for Space Futures is the first centre in the C4IR network to focus exclusively on space. It will work alongside the existing national centre, C4IR Saudi Arabia, to advance Saudi Vision 2030, the country’s roadmap for economic diversification, global engagement and enhanced quality of life.

“The centre is committed to fostering a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable space economy globally. By developing principles, expanding knowledge, refining models and cultivating partnerships, we aim to responsibly harness the vast opportunities of space,” said Mohammed Al Tamimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Agency. | May 2024 9 Satellite News & Analysis
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Ovzon: A greater calling to connect and protect

Ovzon 3, which launched successfully early this year, is both smaller and more powerful than other GEO satellites and is specifically designed for the missioncritical operations performed by Ovzon’s defense, public safety, emergency services, and NGO customers. The satellite is expected to be fully operational by midyear and represents an important milestone for the 18year-old Swedish company. We interviewed Per Norén, Ovzon’s CEO, to delve into the company’s near-term agenda and discuss the opportunities that lie ahead.

Question: Ovzon was founded in 2006 with the mission of driving mobile satellite solutions. How has the company evolved over the years?

Satellite Evolution Global

Per Norén: From the start, Ovzon’s founders set out to create the smallest mobile satellite terminals with the highest throughput. They were excellent engineers and were the first to build terminals the size of a laptop. Rather than being a 1-to-3-meter antennas with tripods that needed to be assembled and geared exactly towards the satellite, these were able to be carried in a backpack and connect automatically within minutes. Customers included Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), as well as media outlets that needed connectivity in specific situations and very remote areas.

Then Ovzon signed its first big customer—the US Department of | May 2024 10 Q&A Ovzon
Ovzon’s founders set out to create the smallest mobile satellite terminals with the highest throughput. Photo courtesy Ovzon

Defense (DoD)—which is still very important to the company. The DoD set requirements for mission critical satellite communications in areas where there is limited to no infrastructure or where the users must not be seen or heard. DoD customers also need guaranteed connectivity.

It was our customers who wanted us to be the integrator and provide both the terminals and the satellite service because they liked the performance and innovation of our solutions. Thus began our evolution into being a fully integrated service provider with satellite capacity networks and the last mile unique capability of delivery through the terminal to the end user.

We’ve been focused on our customers from the beginning, developing terminals that find the satellite fast by themselves. Our mobile satellite terminals don’t have to be in open space to find the signal. They are in a specific configuration with resilient and secure communication channels. It’s all about providing the highest communication capability with guaranteed performance in a mobile environment so that users can move around and not be jammed or disconnected.

Question: You assumed your leadership role with Ovzon in 2021. What attracted you to the company and what has surprised you most in your role as CEO?

Per Norén: During my entire career, I have been attracted to unique and specialized organizations that become the best in the world at what they do. I have taken on business and leadership assignments that have required solving hard problems plus I have the portfolio of leadership capabilities, experiences, successes, and failures that fit very well into building a world class company. Having been born in Sweden and having lived in the US for almost 20 years, the international aspect of Ovzon attracted me as well.

Ovzon had components that are very important to me when I consider a new leadership role: the competence level, skills, and mix of capabilities of its people; a customer-oriented culture; unique technologies and a global perspective. Ovzon was like an unshaped diamond with all the pieces there, but it needed to be built, scaled, nurtured, and strategically positioned to grow and deliver value to all stakeholders.

Ovzon also has committed owners who have been there for a long time. They have the guts and vision to invest in the people and this uniquely integrated end to end service.

What surprised me the most Is that there is not a problem that we cannot solve technologically. There is not a customer need that we cannot address. There are very few companies that have made it through what Ovzon has made it through in terms of technical development, service delivery, understanding customers, and scaling ubiquitously.

In the satellite business, there are only a few examples of extreme success. A company might look great from the outside, but the profitability and sustainability are not there. I sleep well at night, though, because I have great owners, a great board, great leaders, and people coupled with superb technology, and the ability to deliver services with the highest performance, mobility, and resiliency.

Question: Performance, mobility, and resiliency are mission critical to your SATCOM-as-a-Service offering. Who are some of your current customers and how are they using your systems?

Per Norén: Our customer base consists of organizations that need mission critical SATCOM-as-a-Service. Our largest group are defense customers who are on the ground, in the air, and on the water and who use both | May 2024 12
Ovzon Satcom-as-a-Service. Image courtesy Ovzon

manned and unmanned vessels. There is also the national security aspect which demands intelligence and data gathering as well as decision making.

The second largest is public safety, including fire and rescue services as well as police and border control professionals. Fire and rescue workers not only need to react when there is an incident, they also need to be proactive and predictive to mitigate or even avoid catastrophes. Many of these customers are seeking unmanned capabilities to do surveillance so that they can know if something is going to happen ahead of time. We fit that brief very well with our small antennas and terminals that offer resiliency and redundancy and high data throughput.

Our service is also used to help with refugee situations where there are men, women, and children pouring into an area and there’s no connectivity. These individuals sacrifice their lives to get to a better situation and their needs must be met. For example, we worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Colombia where our equipment was used to ensure there were health services for those who lived in the jungle, far from any infrastructure. Indeed, many NGOs functioning in dire situations and executing rescue operations depend on us to provide the only reliable way of communicating.

Question: What sets Ovzon apart from other satellite operators?

Per Norén: What sets us apart besides our integrated services is the design of the satellite itself. Most of the existing GEO satellites that were built in the last twenty years and have regional or fixed beams. While they cover a large area, you can’t change the throughput or the security or the communication ability in a crisis. Ovzon 3 has five independent, steerable antennas which can be directed within minutes. These spot beams provide a combination of power density (EIRP) and antenna receive performance (G/T). You can concentrate the energy of the satellite or the beam onto a specific area. This capability is necessary for our customers who are on the frontlines dealing with emergency situations. They need to be able to operate in a GPS denied environment and not be jammed or disturbed. Our customers also need to be able to move quickly from on point to another.

Ovzon 3 has a powerful in-orbit On-Board-Processor (OBP) that directly connects deployed terminals across multiple beams when teleports are degraded, destroyed, or otherwise unavailable. Think of it as a software-enabled gateway in the sky. The OBP can create a closed loop communication system between the terminals we have in our networks. This is like a sovereign capability for governments that can be used for protecting, supporting, and connecting with other nations as well as providing a unique capacity within their geographic domain. It drives interoperability between countries because you can share the service with others.

Question: The Ovzon 3 satellite launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 3, 2024. Can you provide details on this “small GEO” and how it works?

Per Norén: Weighing 1,500 kilograms, Ovzon 3 was

designed in a modular fashion and built by Maxar Technologies using a Legion-class bus and electric propulsion. It was the first geostationary satellite small enough for the Falcon 9 rocket to land back on Earth again and not on a water platform. It is also the first commercial satellite to use Redwire’s Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) unfurlable wings which were first demonstrated on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017. The smaller size and weight, coupled with the solar array wings and electric propulsion system means the satellite is likely to exceed its documented lifetime of 15 years and last up to even 20. What’s more the OBP design enables us to do upgrades to the ‘satellite’ from the ground.

Question: What are the key challenges you are facing as you prepare Ovzon 3 to be fully operational?

Per Norén: I believe we have retired a lot of risk by having it produced, launched, and on its way to orbit. We did a lot of preparation on the ground systems as well. The satellite is fully healthy, and we are able to continuously track it. Our production partner, Maxar, is currently managing the orbit raising. They will then hand over satellite operations control to Eutelsat which will manage that for us.

There were no issues during all the tasks and checks that took place during and after launch, so I believe it is going very well. We see a straightforward orbit raising process and the satellite should reach its destination sometime in the early part of June. We should be fully operational and entering service by mid-year. Of course, this is the space industry, and things can happen, but we are not nervous about it. We are excited and focused on | May 2024 14
#Satellite #Security #NGOs
OVZON 3 satellite. Photo Maxar Space Systems

getting it ready to be utilized by our customers. The big opportunity here is how fast we can deploy it and with whom, because we have a lot of new customers interested. As I mentioned, we’ve moved all the way from the field teams up to government level strategic discussions around our capabilities. Who will be the first to have our satellite run their own network and their own beam in a sovereign, integrated way? Our challenge or opportunity is how quickly will we get to full capability utilization of the satellite, which is a very different challenge to have compared to many other players experiencing anomalies and technical difficulties.

Question: Where do you see Ovzon headed in the next one to five years?

Per Norén: Ovzon has gone from being very broad and trying to do many things to focusing on offering integrated service for mission critical operations. We will use our proprietary technology and solutions and the innovations we’ve developed to continue to serve those core markets in the short term. But then I believe we’ll be able to expand into other domains.

Ovzon 3 covers one third of the Earth and I foresee us

making decisions to create at least two, if not more satellites over the next five years. We will have a global network where we serve the world’s critical missions with connectivity via satellite relay. We will also have new applications and technological advancements. We’ll be connected to cloud-based capabilities where data and analytics will be used to drive efficiency, predictability, and decision making.

All of that is part of our future but first comes first and we need to make sure that what we are doing works flawlessly. We need to scale in a smart way and drive a profitable business but never let go of these three fundamental principles: customers first, people always, and ubiquitously being smart about business.

This is not an industry for the faint of heart. Our company needs to rely upon its ability to attract, develop, and retain people who believe both in the mission and the company and who can thrive in the environment and the culture. It’s not just about market share and money, it’s about being the best in the world at what you do. Although we recognize there is a future in other areas, for now, we have a greater calling to protect and connect the world and humanity.

Ovzon 3 launch. Photo courtesy Ovzon | May 2024 16
#MissionCritical #Satellite #Security Q&A Ovzon

The unfair advantage: Video at the tactical edge

The tumultuous landscape of war is perpetually compromised. Video is an essential tool that delivers instantaneous clarity, cutting through the fog of war and providing critical information to determine friend from foe. The application of quantum mathematics can dramatically improve the security of video from source to sight, providing warfighters with the assurance that what they see is reliable.

Joshua Cryer, President, and CEO of Reticulate Micro

War is messy. Even with the advent of advanced technologies that enable rich situational awareness, sometimes innocent civilians become unintended casualties and friendly forces suffer from misguided kinetic weapons. Sometimes even the best intelligence is blurred by the smoke of conflict, becomes twisted in the confusion of broken communications, or is altered through the process of language translations. Politicians and commanders are left navigating through a morass of obscure threats and opportunities. The fog of war of war veils the truths of conflict. Truth itself often becomes the first causality of war.

This grave concern is highlighted by the recent tragedy stemming from the Gaza offensive in Israel, where Israeli forces struck the World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid convey, killing seven aid workers. Israel’s ever-impressive intelligence apparatus, enabled by a technologically superior military surveillance ecosystem, still managed to miss the mark in this tragic event. The best communications. The best processes. And still, mistakes were made. The act was allegedly unintended, but that offers little consolation.

The fog of war is further compounded by an age of polarizing pundits, evolving artificial intelligence, unbridled immediate access to global information through the proliferated internet, and an inability to believe what you see - thanks to deep fakes. Adding to these technologyinduced quandaries is the factor of quantum computing. While quantum computing holds deep potential and promise to radically transform the lives of humanity for the better, positively impacting medicine, engineering, and mathematics, in the wrong hands, it can break modern data encryption and cripple every aspect of our lives. Bank accounts, email passwords, and secure communications can all be compromised with quantum technology. The quantum threat poses a grave danger to the battlefield, potentially compromising the secure communications between commanders and their subordinates, allowing hostile forces to intercept mission-critical planning, alter

content in real time, or determine the locations of opposing forces.

In this future hellscape, warfighters are left unable to discern fact from fiction and the real from the perceived as events unfold, and piecemeal reports rapidly route through compromised communications chains. Video gives military forces an unfair advantage over opposing forces that are technologically disadvantaged. Ensuring this video is unadulterated and available in real-time is essential for mission success.


Since the 1950s, the United States and Allied Forces have benefited greatly from the unfair advantage of advanced communications. Radar helped the Allies detect aircraft and ships during World War II, crucially improving offensive and defensive capabilities. Advanced satellite technologies provided the United States with superior communications, surveillance, and space-based monitoring that were decisive in winning the cold war. The 20-year war in Afghanistan showed time and time again how advanced communications capabilities enabled friendly forces with enhanced situational awareness, delivering decisive victories in the spectrum between minor skirmishes and major offensives.

The Predator UAV became a critical ingredient in the recipe of victories in Afghanistan by delivering persistent video of battlefield objectives with a bird’s eye view. Ground forces could rely on these platforms to deliver realtime video of objectives, day or night, to attain unprecedented clarity of the locations of hostile forces, friendly forces, and non-combatants. This rich visual information helped reduce the risks associated with ambushes, accidental fratricide, and collateral damage.

The first versions of the video downlinks from UAVs were unencrypted, making them easily interceptable. Before long, the Taliban discovered that sometimes the video feeds could be seen on standard televisions when they were tuned to the right frequencies. For a short time, this unintended discovery began to tip off the Taliban, and in some situations, gave them an equitable information | May 2024 18 #Video #quantummathematics #warfighters
Joshua Cryer, President, and CEO, Reticulate Micro

advantage. Allied forces quickly remedied this issue by implementing high assurance cryptography and resilient waveforms to obfuscate voice and video communications, assuring secure communications between friendly forces, and denying enemies access to mission critical content. Now, the high ground of encrypted communications that allied forces enjoy is under the emerging threat of quantum computing.


Quantum computing is a transformative technology that fully embodies the entire gamut of our overused colloquialisms used to describe evolutionary technologies. Quantum computing is trailblazing, groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting, game-changing, mold-breaking, bleeding edge technology. It almost sounds like the introduction for the entertainment wrestler Rick Flair (I hope you earn that Emmy, Rick). Math problems that currently take eons to solve with computers based on Von Neumann architectures can be solved in minutes and seconds with quantum computers. While the benefits of this technology have the potential to completely change every facet of society for the better, there is a very real dark side to Quantum computing.

In the context of communications, the looming threat of Quantum Computing is the breakdown of classical cryptography that currently secures digital communications and financial transactions. Existing secure data that uses current cryptographic technologies can be retroactively vulnerable , enabling the unauthorized decryption of historical information. This means encrypted files that are stored in the cloud can become vulnerable to hacking overnight. Bad actors will have access to banking records, personal identifiable information (PII), medical history, family photos, and text messages – the security that society takes for granted in the everyday rhythms of life will be fully compromised.

Nation-states that are first movers in quantum computing can dominate markets by solving problems faster than their competitors. The disruption could potentially devastate global markets, yet the issue receives little press. The Quantum threat is a massive Gray Rhino –highly probable, high impact, and largely neglected. Coined by policy analyst Michele Wucker, Gray Rhinos are

anything but random, occurring after a series of warnings and evidence. Fortunately, there are potential solutions that can be emplaced and implemented before it is too late and modern society’s communications are completely compromised.


The good news is that this Gray Rhino can be countered. The first step is developing, implementing, and deploying cryptographic systems that are secure against threats from both classical and quantum computing. In this phase, quantum mathematics will be applied to classical encryption methodologies. The method will likely combine quantum-based extreme randomization with the quantum distribution of keys, functioning as a “drop-in replacement” for extant methods for randomization and key management. This approach will harden current cryptography, while entirely new quantum-based cryptographic techniques are created and refined.

The impact for video in military operations will be massive. The application of quantum mathematics to current miliary encryption will forestall the ability for adversaries to break mission-critical communications, and compromise mission effectiveness.

Additionally, the extreme randomization will have a direct positive impact on compression techniques and technologies, specifically relating to Fourier transforms and discrete wavelet transforms, by promoting better energy compaction in wavelet coefficients. The quantum-sourced randomization helps to distribute significant wavelet coefficients more uniformly, enhancing the effectiveness of the coding process in those areas. The compression efficiency is improved, the reconstructed images have a potentially higher quality, and distortion is minimized.

Video improvement on the battlefield is three-fold. First, video compression is vastly improved, enabling higher quality video streaming over disadvantaged connections or transports. Second, the security is enhanced with postquantum encryption, precluding interception of the video by enemies. The third, and final improvement is better connections, and quantum-mathematics can even enhance the modulation of radio signals that carry video on the battlefield.


By harnessing the power of quantum mathematics for good, all our communications will become ultra-secure and extremely reliable. In the context of video, the applications of quantum mathematics will galvanize the quality and security of video from source to sight. I am proud to say that Reticulate Micro is a pioneering firm in this field. The application of this technology will enhance resilience and access to video on the battlefield, democratize access to real-time video-based information, and burn away the fog of war. In place of potentially compromised content, warfighters will be able to trust and rely on video at an unprecedented level. The information chain of custody for military operations will become unquestionable, which will be beneficial for directing military operations with high trust as well as auditing operations when they do not go as planned. | May 2024 20
at the Tactical Edge
Sometimes even the best intelligence is blurred by the smoke of conflict. Quantum mathematics and advances in video encoding can ensure video intelligence of the battlefield is clear and ultra-secure from source to sight. (photo credit: iStock) Video

The space economy: Ready for take off

When it comes to the space economy, no one knows more than Chad Anderson, founder and managing partner of Space Capital, who recently wrote the definitive book on the subject. As exciting and explosive as the last decade has been for our industry, Anderson believes that the technological advances and market applications which lie ahead will not only be transformative but will also drive dramatic market growth. We sat down with Anderson who shared his insights on what he believes is the greatest business opportunity the world has ever known.

Question: What is your definition of the space economy and why do you think it presents such a great business opportunity?

Chad Anderson: Most people are looking at the opportunity in the space economy through a very narrow lens. They think about the Apollo moon landings and the International Space Station (ISS) and these grand human achievements, but they don’t think about the entrepreneurs who are transforming nearly every major industry here on Earth. That’s the opportunity that we are focused upon.

Just think about where we are today. GPS has delivered trillions of dollars in economic value and some of the largest venture returns that we’ve ever seen. GPS, as massive as it is, represents just one of several areas of opportunity. The same thing is playing out in other key satellite technology stacks like geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and satellite communications (SatCom). Together these orbital assets make up the invisible backbone of the world’s largest industries today. The modern global economy runs on space technology.

Now, think about the applications that are being developed on top of this valuable infrastructure. It’s not just the cool technology that we can build, but how we’re using it to provide us with insights and intelligence that improve our everyday lives. The opportunity becomes very big very fast and that’s where we are today.

In the space economy today, 90 percent of what’s going on is in satellites (the three tech stacks mentioned earlier: GPS, GEOINT, SatCom) and nine percent is in launch, which is an important piece of the puzzle but a difficult business model. Then there are the emerging areas in lunar, in-space transportation, logistics, manufacturing, space stations and the like. All of this is nascent and represents only one percent of the total market, but there are new technologies coming online which makes those market opportunities much more real than they’ve ever been.

We are on the precipice. The growth that we’ve seen over the last decade or so has been powered by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and now they have a new vehicle. When Starship comes online, the cost of launch will be lowered by another order of magnitude making space more accessible than it’s ever been before, thereby enabling a lot of these new emerging areas. Lower cost and ease of access does wonders for innovation. That’s what makes this the most interesting time to be investing in the space economy. | May 2024 22 Q&A Space Capital
Q&A Satellite Evolution Global

Question: All eyes are on Space X’s Starship which appears to be getting close to being fully operational. What does the success of Starship mean to the space economy?

Chad Anderson: It unlocks a whole set of new opportunities and SpaceX is already getting billions of dollars in contracts from NASA and other government agencies for those new capabilities. So, there’s a lot of room for SpaceX’s valuation to grow.

SpaceX and its Falcon 9 vehicle removed the barriers to entry. The company published its pricing and brought transparency to the market. Starship promises to have the same sort of impact. When you’ve got a massive vehicle that is fully and rapidly reusable, means we can put more things into orbit than we ever have before. That’s going to enable things like the Starlink constellation which means we can connect the most remote places on the planet bringing billions of consumers and enterprises online.

In addition, we can put up new satellites with new capabilities that we’ve never been able to launch before. Think about the James Webb Space Telescope. The most difficult part of this incredibly advanced scientific instrument was the fact that it was so large. Its mirror had to be folded up origami style and unfurled 5.5 days after launch. Had NASA used Starship, JWST could have launched as one whole piece.

Starship will be able to launch a lot of innovative infrastructure that will allow us to power our economy. It will also make much of existing infrastructure obsolete. For instance, there are currently space station companies that have raised billions of dollars to build permanent stations in orbit. Those will all need launch vehicles to take people to and from their stations. With Starship you could

have a hotelier come out and get the whole thing decked out with amenities and launch the clients for their week or month-long visits.

The same goes for manufacturing. Whereas with a permanent station, you need the equipment already on board or you need missions to go up and install the equipment, with Starship, you have the up mass and the down mass already solved and you can go up and down whenever you wish. It starts to call into question whether you even need a permanent station in orbit.

When we start landing on the Moon, we will need sophisticated rovers. There are small companies and large defense contractors building the equipment we’ll need on the lunar surface. However, when you’ve got Starship’s capabilities, you will be able to launch the kind of heavy equipment that Caterpillar and other heavy equipment manufacturers produce. Starship starts to open a lot of doors and increases participation by making it easier for more new entrants to the market. More competition means more innovation and lowers costs for everyone which translates into more opportunities to do interesting things and make money.

Question: Blue Origin rolled out its New Glenn heavy lift vehicle on the launch pad in February. The company says it will launch later this year. If, indeed, New Glenn’s launch is successful, what impact might that have on the industry?

Chad Anderson: SpaceX dominates the entire market now. There were 200 launches globally and SpaceX launched half of them. It would be great to have some competition from New Glenn which is much larger than Falcon 9 but a bit smaller than Starship. Blue Origin is looking to reuse that vehicle as well, landing the booster in a fashion similar to that of the Falcon 9 rockets.

One interesting thing about Blue Origin and SpaceX is that they were founded in the same year and about the same amount of capital has been invested into both. We know what SpaceX has done but most of Blue Origin’s activities have been done behind closed doors with a single shareholder, Jeff Bezos, who has been able to move at his own pace. They have a suborbital vehicle that has flown to space a few times and they’re building a space station with Sierra Space. They’ve got a lunar lander as well as contracts from NASA to deliver humans to the Moon. Blue Origin has grand plans beyond just rocket launches but I think the only reason we’re taking the company so seriously is because of the person who is backing it. We know he has the passion and the means to pull it off, but it’s been a long time so it would be great to see them cone online and start bringing some of these projects to fruition.

Question: In the past couple of years, we’ve seen many nations, big and small, invest in satellite and space technology. What does this global desire for spacebased assets mean to the growth of the space economy?

Chad Anderson: Space technologies are critical for our national security and our economic stability. World leaders are beginning to wake up to the importance of this infrastructure. A funny little anecdote is that after the election, the Biden administration made it clear that their | May 2024 24
Q&A Space Capital
Photo courtesy Space Capital

emphasis was on the problems here on Earth, rather than what was going on in space. Their top priority was climate. The administration held a big meeting to bring together the world’s best and brightest minds on the subject. The experts explained that to understand what’s happening to our climate, we need satellites because 50 percent of all climate variables can only be monitored from space. What’s more, they told the administration that 99 percent of all weather data comes from space. After that, the White House changed its tune and decided that space infrastructure and orbital assets were indeed essential.

It’s not just climate of course. GPS powers the global economy. The timing piece of it is what enables our financial markets. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute, likens our dependency on spaced-based technology to Great Britain’s dependence on the oceans in the 17th through 19th centuries. The White House has now placed the protection of these assets in orbit, along with space traffic management, high on the list of priorities. In the UK, King Charles unveiled his Astra Carta, which was focused on space sustainability. It’s clear that governments around the world are paying attention to the protection of our orbital infrastructure.

We’ve seen this play out over the last couple of years. For example, in 2022, during the steepest point of the decline in the financial markets, governments were continuing to invest and spend on space technology. The National Reconnaissance Office made their largest ever satellite imagery purchase in the second quarter of 2022, the most difficult point in a challenging economic market. Clearly the way to thrive and survive is to offer something that is mission critical, to be providing information and insights that are indispensable—and that’s what you get from satellite companies. When the world becomes more dynamic and uncertain, people want more information so they can understand and deal with the situation.

Question: The US DoD and other defense ministries are turning to commercial suppliers to deliver satellite

communications and other space-based assets. Indeed, within the last three years, the DoD’s space investments have grown at an annual rate of 20 percent. Do you see this trend accelerating in the future?

Chad Anderson: The DoD recently released the first-ever Commercial Space Integration Strategy which calls for the development of ways to facilitate space solutions built by commercial companies. The Russian invasion of Ukraine put a spotlight on the growing capabilities of commercial space companies. It was Starlink that kept the Ukrainians connected and it was our Earth observation satellites that gave us the truth of what was happening on the ground. These are powerful tools and that’s what is driving record revenues for companies across our portfolio. We are seeing how essential these capabilities are to economic stability and national security. The DoD is also relying on them as well as doing some very interesting things in this space too.

I feel like there is a symbiotic relationship developing. The fact that both stakeholders want to work together and are motivated to do so just means that strong growth is going to continue.

Question: We hear a lot about the increasing importance of space traffic management, but far-reaching solutions have yet to materialize. How do you see this playing out?

Chad Anderson: The first thing is recognizing that we’ve gone from a few hundred satellites in orbit to thousands and we’ll have tens of thousands in the very near future with a potential for hundreds of thousands. The existing solution, Space Fence, which is operated by the US Space Force, was built for that prior world. It currently tracks 25,000 space objects as small as ten centimeters. That is sufficient for where we used to be, but we’ve got more and more activity up there, not to mention debris, and it’s imperative that we keep our orbits safe.

One of the companies that we’ve invested in is LeoLabs which was spun out of Stanford Research Institute in 2016. The company has created a network of six or seven | May 2024 25
#Space #Satellite #Economy #Commercial #Suppliers Q&A Space Capital

ground-based radars around the world to provide more timely data with regular updates.

This way, we can have a much better handle on how things are moving and where they are moving. LeoLabs can build these systems in a fraction of the time and one percent of the cost of the Space Fence. What’s more, this suite of radars can track objects that are two centimeters. That’s a step change in capability and orders of magnitude less expensive.

The next part of the solution lies in getting the data from LeoLabs and other data providers and making it accessible to others. The US Commerce Department has taken over management of our orbits and space traffic management from the DoD, so the issue is now being treated in a way similar to the way we treat the oceans.

Another company in which we’ve invested, Kayhan, is doing the space traffic coordination piece. Once you have good data on where things are, then you want to be able to coordinate between operators to avoid a potential collision. Now we’re getting better data and a networking solution to coordinate with other players. Those are good solutions, but we are still on the front end of this issue and have a lot of work yet to do. The tools that we need are being funded and the capability is now coming online, so we’re in good shape.

Question: In what ways do you see artificial intelligence (AI) revolutionizing the satellite and space industry?

Chad Anderson: The problem with AI is that you need data and there’s not enough real data to go around. We’ve invested in a company called which offers a Platform as a Service (PaaS) for data scientists, computer

vision engineers, and developers who need to create and deploy synthetic data generation for AI and machine learning (ML). Gartner says that 90 percent of all AI is going to be trained on synthetic data which is far superior to real data in a lot of ways.

The beachhead market that is ready to go for this platform is the geospatial market which uses data that’s coming from Earth observation and remote sensing satellites.

This market has been dealing with large datasets for a long time and they’ve been applying AI and ML to annotate them and derive useful insights from them. I believe the most interesting things that are happening in computer vision AI are happening in space and that’s driving the AI market forward.

Question: The headline from the Q4 Space IQ is that approximately US$300 billion has been invested into some 2,000 unique space companies over the last decade. Do you see this trend continuing?

Chad Anderson: When Starship comes online, so much potential will be unleashed that it’s going to make all the industry records thus far look miniscule. We are on the front end of a super cycle here with Starship as the great enabler. I think that’s going to impact the number of satellites in orbit, the number of companies that are operating in space, and the number of companies terrestrially that are leveraging this technology. I also think that this will fuel the growth of new company developments and new investors that are interested in this as a category. Indeed, we are already seeing this, and I have no doubt that it is going to continue. | May 2024 26
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Security in the Stars: Protecting satellite infrastructure through ‘trusted’ standards

Last year saw the announcement of the EU Commission and High Representative’s European Space Strategy for Security and Defence. Presented for the first time on 10 March 2023, the joint communication outlined a framework for greater safety, security, and sustainability for space-based technologies, while providing insight into the preparatory work currently underway that will enable safer access to space.

Thorsten Stremlau, Trusted Computing Group (TCG)

Broken into a series of five actions, the European Space Strategy for Security and Defence aims to “allow to EU to protect its space assets, defend its interests and deter hostile activities in space”. The first action is to develop a shared understanding of space threats, examining the counterspace abilities and main threats likely to place items within EU’s Space Domain at risk. This considers everything from the physical space environment and different orbits and spacecraft to infrastructure (ground and launch), radio frequency links and user terminals. To increase a common understanding of threats leveled against the Space Domain, the High Representative are to prepare a classified annual analysis which will draw from the intelligence of Member States.

The second action, resilience and protection of space systems and services in the EU, proposes a series of initiatives to increase the resiliency of satellite operations. These include the proposal of a new EU Space Law to provide common security and sustainability frameworks, as well as the creation of an Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (ISAC) to devise and share best practices. The strategy aims to enhance the EU’s technological sovereignty and ensure long-term autonomous access to space.

Responding to space threats covers the measures identified for the mobilization of relevant security tools. This means greater characterization of inappropriate behaviors in orbit, as well as exercises that will test and develop the EU’s response time to space threats. Use of space for security and defense, on the other hand, proposes the launch of two pilot projects: one to test the delivery of initial

space domain awareness services, the other to test a new Earth observation governmental service. This should better connect space, defense and security operations across the EU and ensure greater training while encouraging more collaboration in research and development. Finally, partnering for responsible behaviors in space aims to promote regulated rules and principles for acceptable behaviors in outer space. Looking outwards to countries such as the United States, through this action the EU wants to bolster the existing security cooperation with their partners.


The Strategy’s aims are noble and should be music to the ears for those operating in the sector. With demands for digital connectivity soaring, we are now seeing a significant number of satellites being launched into space. The benefits of these technologies are well-known, from military surveillance and intelligence gathering, to broadcasting and enhanced navigational applications. Yet when it comes to security, more needs to be done, and this strategy indicates growing awareness.

This need for greater satellite security was evidenced in a recent academic paper, which identified a number of security vulnerabilities in satellite infrastructure. Researchers from the Ruhr University in Bochum and the Cispa Helmholtz Center for Information Security investigated the firmware of three Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to assess their resiliency. When investigating a sample size including ESTCube-1, OPS-SAT and Flying Laptop, the lack of basic security principles was evident: the group uncovered six major security vulnerabilities, including “unprotected telecommand interfaces” which operators use to communicate with the technology in orbit. The researchers also found issues within an outdated code library used by a range of satellites.

It only takes one satellite to be corrupted for an entire network to crumble. In 2022, hackers disabled key communications in Ukraine through an attack against | May 2024 28
#Strategy #Security #Space #Threat
Thorsten Stremlau, Trusted Computing Group (TCG)

Viasat, a US based satellite company. This not only resulted in a blackout of communications within Ukraine, but also in a disruption of connectivity across wider Europe, leaving thousands cut off from the internet. With the increasing sophistication of cybercrime, it has become difficult to establish how much data has been compromised, or even where an attack has originated. Should a hacker install malware or utilize another attack type against satellite infrastructure, sensitive and potentially critical data can be stolen and weaponized, leaving the security of whole nations at stake.


If the EU is to achieve the goals set out in their space strategy and overcome the weaknesses found in current satellite infrastructure, then its attention needs to turn to the latest computing standards. As satellite communications continue to advance, so too have the solutions available to secure them. Choosing the right architectures, specifications, and technologies can quickly reduce the severity of cyberattacks. Not-for-profit standards organizations like the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) are playing a crucial role in making these readily available.

For most of these organizations, the concept of trusted computing forms the cornerstone of their work. At the most basic level, the concept provides assurance that computers and connected technologies will only boot and operate in a predictable, reliable manner. This creates a safe environment where data stored and utilized within a system can be accurately authenticated. Trusted computing leverages hardware Roots-of-Trust (RoT) to establish secure platforms for software to run on, fortifying the communication channels between it and the user. Establishing hardware-based trust mechanisms provides software exclusive access to designated areas of memory in order to safeguard sensitive data.

Already successfully implemented in a range of sectors and technologies, the concept of trusted computing can

be extended to ensure optimal protection of the satellite industry.

Ensuring authentication of communications must be at the forefront of any satellite operator’s mind, especially in light of the industry reports now coming to light. This means checks should be carried out at every stage of data transmission. When considering satellite infrastructure, a hardware RoT such as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) can be used to sign and verify that any data present originates from a trusted source. If any attempts are made to infiltrate and modify any codes found within a system, a TPM provides mechanisms to protect, detect, attest, and recover from an attack.

Widely available specifications such as Cyber Resilient Module and Building Block Requirements (CyRes) can also fortify satellite systems, reducing the likelihood of persistent malware while protecting any critical codes or data. Three key security principles are delivered through CyRes: the protection of updatable, persistent code and configuration data, the detection of vulnerabilities that have not been patched or when corruption has occurred, and the reliable recovery of systems to a known, trusted state. This enables operators to trust that the satellite, and by extension that the data obtained from it is what is claims to be. In the event the infrastructure has been hacked, operators have the tools to return it back to a reliable, trusted state.

Governments and agencies must also consider a satellite’s positioning within its supply chain. These types of threats have now becoming commonplace, with Gartner predicting that over 45 percent of organizations across all sectors will experience attacks on their supply chains. This makes the adoption of correct guidance and specifications even more crucial. Standards that can verify the integrity of equipment linked to satellites will not only benefit the technology itself but improve the security of a number of sectors. The goal should now be for universal adoption to ensure all involved in the design and manufacturing process are adequately protected as well. | May 2024 29
Image courtesy Shutterstock

How COTS and RHBD are democratizing space exploration

The space industry has been rather conservative over the past decades, but a revolution is coming. New components are making space exploration more accessible. So-called COTS semiconductor devices unlock entirely novel applications and help make technology more reliable, bringing space exploration to a new era.

Wei Shu, PhD, CTO of Zero Error Systems

For decades, the space industry, predominantly governed by governments and space agencies, has maintained an unwavering conservatism, placing heavy reliance on space-grade semiconductor components known for their exceptional reliability. However, these components come at a steep cost, exhibit dated performance characteristics, and are often challenging to procure. These Radiation Hardening by Process (RHBP) semiconductor solutions are manufactured with special materials and proprietary foundry processes with stringent qualification test criteria that ensure zero defects under radiation.

Such manufacturing facilities can easily cost billions of dollars. The return on investment (ROI) has traditionally been lengthy, due to the fact that there were relatively few satellite launches in the past. Only big semiconductor manufacturers were able to afford such expensive manufacturing facilities. The result was fewer space-grade semiconductor options for satellite companies along with higher price tags for such space-grade components.

communication, data access, earth observation, and surveillance services are not able to afford such expensive space-grade components due to constant pressure by their end customers (e.g. service providers) to keep the system delivery price down. Hence, many satellite companies now build their satellite electronics systems with Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) semiconductor devices to meet the lower cost requirement and to attain higher processing capability to support the sophisticated space missions.


Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that provide

State-of-the-art COTS semiconductor components play a pivotal role in the emergence of new space movements. New space players are non-traditional satellite subsystem or space electronics manufacturers that want to apply niche computing, imaging, or AI capabilities in space applications. Due to the availability of low-cost satellite building kits and associated COTS semiconductor solutions via the Internet, small teams have begun to build their own satellites and develop applications on them. COTS semiconductor devices unlock entirely novel applications that were once deemed impossible, such as AI deployment and data centers in space.

However, the widespread adoption of cutting-edge COTS components in space faces a significant obstacle: radiation in the extraterrestrial environment. These COTS devices are not meant to thrive in high-radiation environment. Heavy ions in space can cause single event effects such as single event latch-up (SEL) which is a type of short circuit that results in mission failure. It can also cause a single event upset (SEU) that causes bit flip. For example, ‘0’ becomes ‘1’ and vice versa, which corrupts the data. Service providers that launch these satellites suffer major losses when the system fails in space as a satellite can easily cost hundreds of millions of dollars. These failed satellites also become space debris.

According to ESA’s space debris office, it is estimated there are 36,500 objects larger than 10cm; one million objects between 1 and 10cm; and 130 million objects between 1mm and 1cm in orbit. While only a few collisions | May 2024 30
#COTS #Semiconductor #Space
Wei Shu, PhD, CTO, Zero Error Systems Founders: NTU Prof Joseph Chang (centre) holding the new ZES smart chip, with CTO Dr Shu Wei (right) and co-founder Dr Chong

have been documented so far, each one creates more debris. The more debris, the likelier further collisions become.


Commercial satellites, which often serve critical functions, demand a minimum operational lifetime of five to seven years but with COTS, the lifespan is significantly lower due to single event effects. Radiation protection for COTS components is a multifaceted challenge. While passive shielding using thin aluminum films effectively mitigates accumulated radiation effects, it cannot address single event effects, as energetic particles can easily penetrate through shielding and cause damage to semiconductors. In essence, effective protection against single event effects requires active electrical measures. This gives rise to Radiation Hardening by Design (RHBD) semiconductor solutions.


RHBD at the silicon level is probably the most challenging but effective approach. It is challenging because it achieves radiation hardening by solely relying on integrated circuit designs based on standard complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor (CMOS) processes, which are readily available in all semiconductor foundries. Unlike Radiation Hardened by Process (RHBP) devices, no proprietary process is involved. It is effective because it fundamentally resolves the weakness of standard CMOS processes and hardens it at the circuit level. RHBD at the component level is arguably the most optimized approach as it achieves radiation hardening with minimum overhead and effort by directly hardening COTS components against radiation. Figure 1 depicts one comprehensive approach of RHBD hardening for a COTS component such as Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), micro-Controller (µC) and micro-Processor (µP). This approach serves to improve

power reliability and data integrity of the COTS component.


Specifically, power reliability is deemed one of the most critical vulnerabilities. Enhancing power reliability is twofold. First, the direct current (DC) power regulator must be reliable so as to provide a robust and constant output voltage. It is already challenging for state-of-the-art COTS on earth, and radiation in orbit makes it even harder. Second, as COTS suffer from micro-SEL, the short circuit effect in the long run will severely shorten the lifetime of COTS components, hence the lifetime of satellites.

Data integrity, on the other hand, is critical for dataintensive digital applications, and is often quantified by soft error rate. It is generally very challenging to reduce soft error rate, particularly for COTS memory devices. Triple Modular Redundancy (TMR) is a common approach to ascertain data integrity.


In short, RHBD at the component level is probably the most efficient approach for space applications, as it enables virtually all COTS components to function in space at substantially lower cost and minimum overhead.

The space industry is currently at the cusp of a revolution, and it is becoming increasingly evident that this transformation will significantly hinge upon the adoption of advanced COTS semiconductor components combined with effective RHBD approaches. Depending on the risk tolerance and budget constraints of each project, one of the RHBD methods mentioned would be a suitable choice. In short, the convergence of cutting-edge COTS technology and robust RHBD strategies holds immense promise for shaping the future of space exploration and satellite missions. | May 2024 32
Democratizing Space Exploration #Radiation #RHBD #DataIntegrity
Figure 1: RHBD Hardening COTS Components

Kevin Steen appointed to head up combined business group

Eutelsat Group has announced that Kevin Steen has been appointed by the Eutelsat America Corp. (EAC) Board of Directors to the position of President and CEO of EAC. He will also continue his existing role as President and CEO of OneWeb Technologies (OWT). EAC and OWT completed their combination earlier this year and will go to market as a single EAC entity.

EAC is a subsidiary of Eutelsat Group, delivering communication services and solutions to US Government and Military customers around the globe in support of national security missions.

Prior to his appointment as President and CEO of EAC, Kevin served as the CEO of OWT since 2022 and the CEO of iDirect from 2017 until 2022. Kevin is recognized as a leader in the satellite industry with a track record of success utilizing organic and inorganic growth strategies. Steen joined iDirect in 2010 and served in multiple roles including Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Business Development. Kevin brings over 30 years of technology and business experience to his new role. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Denver.

Commenting on the appointment, Pamela A. Drew, Board Chair said at EAC: “We are pleased to welcome Kevin to Eutelsat America Corp. and are confident his extensive experience will be an asset to us as we merge the two companies. The combination of OWT and EAC brings an unparalleled, multi-orbit satellite communications capability to address the unique mission needs of the US Government.”

Steen added: “I look forward to leading a seamless integration of the OWT and EAC teams. It is an exciting time for our industry and the new EAC is poised for great success, leveraging the geosynchronous satellite capabilities of Eutelsat and the low earth orbit satellite capabilities of OneWeb.”

Kayhan Space strengthens Executive Team amid rising Government demand for commercial space traffic coordination capabilities for SDA

Kayhan Space has named seasoned military and space intel veteran Mark Mueller as Vice President of Government Growth to lead the company’s development and delivery of Space Domain Awareness (SDA) and Action plus Offensive and Defensive Space Control solutions for a range of classified and unclassified government missions.

Mueller brings more than 35 years of experience in the US Government Intelligence Community, Air Force, and Space Force, including Chief of Space Intelligence Data for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Most recently, he served as senior advisor to USNORTHCOM and USSPACECOM at Peterson SFB in Colorado, where he directed the deployment of worldwide Command, Control, and Intelligence sharing capabilities with allied nations. He has played pivotal roles throughout his government career in understanding adversarial threats through data and space analytics that ultimately provided key defensive and offensive capabilities in space.

“Mark is joining Kayhan Space at a pivotal and strategic time, as we intensify our collaborative work with US Government civil and military agencies to advance vital national space and intelligence capabilities,” said Siamak Hesar, Kayhan Space Co-Founder and CEO. “Our highly scalable mission modeling and simulation solutions are already providing government missions with real-time threat assessment and threat mitigation action plans, and we are on track with an aggressive roadmap aimed at providing warfighters with rapid decision-making aid in space.”

Kayhan Space was recently awarded an Office of Space Commerce contract to provide active data curation, as part of a pathfinder effort under the Traffic Coordination System for Space (TraCSS). This critical work will help define quality indices to meet necessary accuracy and precision in support of spaceflight safety. Kayhan Space has completed multiple research and development programs for the US Government, including extensive work in support of the US Space Force and as a participant in Cohort 2 in the SDA Tools, Applications, and Processing (TAP) lab in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The objective of this effort is to demonstrate a complete end-to-end capability supporting the defense of critical National Security space assets. | May 2024 34
#Eutelsat #OneWeb #KayhanSpace
Kevin Steen, President and CEO, Eutelsat America Corporation and OneWeb Technologies

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.