Space force

Navy seeks to improve space play, including through Space Force

NRL’s Naval Center for Space Technology provides the robotic arms for DARPA’s Geosynchronous Satellite Robotic Servicing Experiment. (DARPA)

WASHINGTON — With the Navy’s growing interest in space capabilities, the service has increased spending on research and development of its sailors’ space expertise, according to the Naval Research Laboratory’s top space official.

“I would say the Navy has really invested a lot more in the last few years in space,” Steven Meier, director of the NRL’s Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST), said during a National Security Space-sponsored webinar. Association.

For example, he said, the Navy has long had a “space executive” and recently established a Marine Space Officer program.

This latest effort, launched last August, is to recruit officers from a designated “Maritime Space Officer” cantonment, (187x) “to form a community of maritime space integration and planning professionals. says a Navy press release.

The Navy, including the NCST, is also in the process of detailing its specific space-related requirements to support maritime operations – in part to convey those requirements to the Space Force.

“We’re trying right now in the Navy to put together requirements documents … to say, ‘Hey, the Navy has unique maritime mission requirements,'” Meier added, with the idea of ​​”passing them on” to Space Force” is in charge of all DoD space.

But in the meantime, the NCST continues to focus on research to help the Navy meet its own needs. Noting that “many people don’t map the navy and space together,” he clarified that these needs and interests fall into five baskets:

Meier pointed out that the NRL had been involved in the research and development of space systems since the dawn of the space age, and that the NCST had a number of cutting-edge programs underway ranging from the construction of satellites and components to the provision of operational ground stations.

For example, NCST provides the robotic arms to DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program, designed to create an operational “skillful” robotic repair capability in space to increase the resiliency of America’s satellite architecture. . After some uproar in the program that caused delays, the RSGS demonstration — run in partnership with Northrop Grumman’s SpaceLogistics — is set to take off in 2023, according to the DARPA website.

In another cooperative program, NCST is supporting the Space Development Agency (SDA) in the development and ground system management of its initial set of data relay and missile tracking satellites, known as Tranche 0. .

“We do all of their mission management for Tranche 0, which is 28 satellites,” Meier said. “So we do mission management, systems engineering, business studies, whatever needs to be done to do the whole ground segment.”

The center also operates its own Blossom Point ground station in southern Maryland, which Meier said was the first satellite ground station to operate on US soil. It’s unique, he added, because it’s “truly 24/7, off, self-contained.”

Another ground station, hilariously called Pomonkey but much more seriously supporting classified space tracking missions from low Earth orbit to deep space, has the “fastest 30m full motion antenna” in the United States. United,” Meier said. “It can turn 360 degrees for a full circle in just under two minutes,” he pointed out. And according to its slides, the antenna also has “customizable RF systems frequency coverage from 0.1 to 22 GHz.”

Meier said one of the strengths of the NCST is that the center works on “end-to-end” space systems.

“So we have people doing things from orbitology to design, construction, assembly, integration, testing and ultimately operation,” he said, with more just a hint of pride.