On October 20, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions unveiled a virtual product. It gave the software platform the name OpenSpace. Its purpose is to make it easy for the satellite ground system to adapt as soon as possible whenever the conditions change. The president of the Training and Cyber division, Phil Carrai, says that the software will make it easy for the satellite ground system to transition to the 5G infrastructure. He also said that it is the first ground system that is both dynamic and software-based.
As far as government and commercial satellites are concerned, software-defined payloads make communication easy and flexible. Nevertheless, that is not true about satellite ground systems. The period required for installing a ground station’s custom hardware or software is a couple of weeks. Consequently, it takes a relatively long time for successful communication with a new constellation or satellite.
Over the years, a lot has been done regarding the space side. Now, Carrai wants the same to happen on the ground side. Once that happens, it will be possible to have ground systems that are reliable and resilient.
Fortunately, OpenSpace can fix that. It makes it possible to carry out RF data transfers through internet-protocol networks. The RF data packaging becomes possible because of the digitization of the radiofrequency spectrum around the antennas. Kratos achieves that through the software platform.
According to its product management vice president Greg Quiggle, the ground system will soon resemble an Ethernet network. The software will benefit both satellite and ground station operators. It will promote its ground systems’ reliability, security, resiliency, and adaptability. Equally important, an exercise that took several weeks will be happening in real-time. Consequently, responding to changes in network resources, threats, and user demands improves. It also marks the end of the manual implementation of ground functions.
So far, Kratos has released three virtual network functions. The inaugural one was a wideband receiver released in August. Then, it released a pair on October 20, responsible for missions involving remote sensing and Earth observation.
In progress is a collaboration between Kratos and Microsoft to develop Azure Orbital fully. Upon its completion and launch, users will transfer data from satellites to the Azure cloud, then process and store it accordingly.
According to Microsoft’s principal product manager in charge of Azure Networking Yves Pitsch, OpenSpace is a savior. It allows the company to provide its customer with a functional, easy-to-use, and economical platform. He added that being a virtual operation makes it easy for Microsoft to achieve scalability and flexibility. As a result, serving various customers, satellites, and missions regardless of their needs using corresponding hardware, becomes achievable.