Space Tech Speaker Spotlight on Erik J Eliasen, Vice President, National Security Space Programs, Swedish Space Corporation (SSC),which acquiredUniversal Space Network (USN)
The exponential growth of small satellites and the push within the U.S. Air Force to be more resourceful are two key factors driving current interest in ground architecture. As space opens up to more and more commercial players launching their own satellite networks, there is a mounting need for low-cost automated solutions. Many operators need to expand their ground capabilities to sustain their growing constellations, but are also very cost sensitive, so looking for truly innovative solutions. Simplifying this complex environment and improving ground systems architecture is a key focus area for Space Tech Conference, taking place May 24-26, Pasadena.
Erik Eliasen, VP National Security Programs at SSC, formerly Universal Space Network, will be leading the Enterprise Ground Services panel. He recently caught up with Conference Director Mindy Emsley to discuss the key challenges he currently faces, the importance of cross-domain solutions, and the impact of SCC’s Infinity Service on Air Force and government-run satellite ground networks, among other issues.
ME: Mindy Emsley
EE: Erik Eliasen
ME: Please tell us about your role as Vice President, National Security Space Programs at Swedish Space Corporation (SSC). What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?
EE: I joined SSC after a 20-year career in the US Air Force, where I had several opportunities to lead and follow some amazing thought leaders in military space operations. Now I am responsible for overseeing and advancing activities related to National Security Space Missions for SSC. My primary focus area is to help the military space customer better understand our commercial space service and how it may benefit their architectures and specific missions.
ME: What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities you face at present?
EE: Every challenge presents an opportunity! I applaud the Air Force for considering a new Enterprise Ground Segment (EGS) architecture, which can easily include a commercial services component. The challenge is that the imperative to make EGS happen is pushing against the status quo, and bureaucracy usually doesn’t move quickly. Other exciting opportunities exist in the commercial market. Specifically, the small-sat and cubesat revolution is reshaping the ground network service industry into a more affordable solution that is automated and more resilient. At SSC, we’re delivering a new service called SSC Infinity, which provides small-sat and cubesat operators with a cost-effective, nimble and necessary way to meet their ground network services needs.
ME: What impact do you think the SSC Infinity service could have on the Air Force and other government-run satellite ground networks, as they study ways to mitigate threats, and be more resilient and cost-effective?
EE: In the cases where the customer is willing to consider alternative architectures and standardization in the ground segment, SSC Infinity may be a highly resilient service option for consideration by on-orbit mission managers or program managers for constellations yet to fly. Resiliency can be delivered in many ways: sometimes through redundancy, sometimes with proliferation, sometimes dedicated connections, and even disparate systems that all can be combined in ways to mitigate threats, not only on orbit but in the ground segment as well.
ME: The topic of giant small-sat constellations has been generating a lot of buzz in the press. Google, SpaceX, OneWeb and others are talking about launching significant numbers of satellites in the foreseeable future. Do you think SSC Infinity, and other commercial ground network services, will be capable of supporting constellations like this?
EE: We at SSC believe that being able to scale ground network services in response to historically large constellations is fundamental to the success of SSC Infinity. Constellation size typically drives ground segment capacity needs, which puts a huge burden on programs. In many of these new constellations, the focus is on the data, not designing and maintaining elegant systems, especially the ground segment. The owner-operators of these constellations are focused on the sensors and delivering data, so there is an opportunity for a trusted and experienced company like SSC to reinvent ourselves along with our customers in a teaming approach where we each focus on our strengths.
ME: As we move to cross-domain solutions, what is the integration challenge with ground systems?
EE: It’s important to first acknowledge “why” the move to cross-domain solutions. I see cross-domain as a way to increase defense system ground systems capability while simultaneously reducing development, acquisition and operations cost; said differently, the DoD is challenging commercial and industry providers to deliver more for less. The challenge therefore becomes an issue in optimization between securing data, data sharing, ease of use, affordability and technology refresh/insertion in an architecture that doesn’t necessarily have an end state. The challenge in my opinion is less a technology-driven one and more a cultural one, where the DoD will rely on designing, architecting and evaluating systems in a requirements-based model, as opposed to migrating to a capability-based model where services and existing technology may be leveraged.
ME: The big conundrum is the goal of sharing data while maintaining security. How do you successfully take advantage of open-system tools and cut cost without increasing risk, especially in security?
EE: Open-system tools are certainly one way to deal with the problem. However, one that I think is overlooked is the systems themselves. I completely understand the DoD needing to follow policy and law. When there is only a process to build stove-piped systems, all you have left is open-system tools for data sharing. But if we could stop building single-mission systems, like just narrowband satellites and just wideband satellites and just whatever mission data satellites you can dream up, we might have an opportunity to open new doors.
ME: Can you tell us what you’re most looking forward to at the show?
EE: I am looking forward to attending the SpaceTech Conference because it brings together a diverse group of space experts, both military and commercial. In this way we will further the thought leadership on ground network services, which will hopefully contribute to new and better ways of accomplishing the respective missions.
Hear more from Eric on May 24, 1:30 - 3:00pm
About Space Tech Expo
America’s meeting place for space and defense technology returns to California for three days of knowledge sharing and networking alongside the largest supply chain exhibition of its kind.
With capabilities ranging from cryogenics, laser systems, materials, nanotechnology, imaging, environmental test, motion simulation, magnetics, capacitors, spacewire, NDT, and connectors through to electroforming, engineering services, precision machining, 3D printers, ground systems, mission management, and reconnaissance satellites, Space Tech Expo 2016 will bring a multitude of networking opportunities through focused receptions and events for attendees and exhibitors throughout the commercial, civil and military space supply chain. http://www.spacetechexpo.com/
Register for a free expo pass here >> https://registration.n200.com/survey/24id37gyd50ty/register
About Space Tech Conference
The Space Tech Conference agenda will examine how military and government organizations can deliver space missions by working closely with the commercial sector to leverage the latest innovative technologies and business models. The conference also takes a deep dive into the rapidly evolving space-to-space market and offers specific sessions examining the plethora of on-orbit services and technologies emerging.
On May 26, Space Tech Expo is delighted to host the free-to-attend Gov/Mil/Prime Requirements Day. The session will be held in the exhibition hall, allowing all attendees to participate and hear the upcoming space supply chain requirements of government and military organizations, as well as major prime contractors.
Key topics for 2016:
• Commercial, defence and new space – the inflection point
• Launch market trends – reusability and affordability
• Simplifying and improving ground systems architecture
• Commercialising new technologies
• Driving innovation with new space players
• Cross-sector collaboration in space situational awareness
• Enabling space-to-space commerce and on-orbit services
Book a conference pass here (prices start at $395) >> http://www.spacetechexpo.com/conference/conference-agenda
You might also like:
Subscribe today to receive all the latest aerospace technology and engineering news, delivered directly to your e-mail inbox twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Sign upfor your free subscription to the Intelligent Inbox e-newsletter at http://www.intelligent-aerospace.com/subscribe.html.