NewsBrief November 20, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: November 20, 2020

NASA using AI to improve astronaut communications systems in space

(fedscoop) The deep, dark void of space is a place you really want your communications systems to work. So NASA is turning to artificial intelligence to improve helmet-to-helmet connections between astronauts in space. The space agency has long been working to improve spacesuits and the communications systems used to ensure astronauts can talk to each other. But often the links produce “garbled” or non-communicative noise. NASA is looking into how AI can help fix that broken communication, Chief Data Officer Ron Thompson said Wednesday at FedTalks, produced by FedScoop. Read More

Army Wants Data Analytics to Spot ‘Emerging Tech Leaders’

(Nextgov) The Army plans to groom a new class of “emerging technology leaders” and wants to use data science and machine learning to identify the best soldiers for the job and where their talents are most sorely needed. Fielding new technologies in the government and military space requires deep technical skills, an encyclopedic knowledge of federal policy and procurement and strong leadership willing to push through barriers and ensure sustained support. Having all these skills in one place usually requires a team of individuals. Read More

MDA receives commercial contracts for on-orbit servicing technologies

(SpaceDaily)The OSAM-1 mission, formerly known as Restore-L, will demonstrate robotic servicing technologies in orbit, including satellite refueling, assembly and in-space manufacturing. The SPIDER payload’s lightweight 16-foot (5-metre) robotic arm will assemble multiple antenna reflector elements to form a single, functional 9-foot (3-metre) communications Ka-band antenna. MDA has announced that it has signed multiple contracts with Maxar Technologies to provide advanced space robotics technologies for the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER), a technology demonstration on NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission. Read More

DOD fails third audit, but sees progress with cost-savings

(FCW) The Defense Department completed its third audit of its nearly $3 trillion enterprise, but it still has a ways to go before it passes one. Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist said the audit covering fiscal year 2020 has yielded “returns that significantly outweigh its cost by improving business operations” as DOD looks to continue reforms “for greater affordability.” DOD is expecting seven clean or unmodified opinions. Results from four audits are expected to be completed by Dec. 15 and March 25, 2021, including one for the Defense Information Systems Agency, two Navy funds, and one for DOD’s inspector general office. Read More

National Reconnaissance Office launches new intelligence satellite

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — The National Reconnaissance launched a new intelligence satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Nov. 13, marking the American agency’s fourth successful launch of the year. “We’re excited to be back at CCAFS with another successful launch alongside our partners at ULA [United Launch Alliance], the 45th Space Wing, and the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The successful launch of NROL-101 is another example of the NRO’s commitment to constantly evolving our crucial national security systems to support our defense and intelligence partners,” said Col. Chad Davis, director of NRO’s Office of Space Launch. Read More

New support for UK space hubs unveiled

(SpaceDaily) The UK Government has backed the development of new ‘space hubs’ across England as well as providing funding to support projects in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each area, dubbed a ‘space hub’, will use Government funding to bring together local authorities, expertise and businesses to create a strategy for how their area can take maximum advantage of the commercial space race. Harwell in Oxfordshire established itself as a space hub in the last 10 years, and Ministers want to replicate this success in other areas. Funding is going to seven locations – including the North West, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire – to ensure space is a priority for regional economic growth and attract commercial investment from space companies to these areas. Read More

Meeting the future: Dynamic risk management for uncertain times

(McKinsey & Company) Beyond the profound health and economic uncertainty of our current moment, catastrophic events are expected to occur more frequently in the future. The digital revolution, climate change, stakeholder expectations, and geopolitical risk will play major roles. The digital revolution has increased the availability of data, degree of connectivity, and speed at which decisions are made. Those changes offer transformational promise but also come with the potential for large-scale failure and security breaches, together with a rapid cascading of consequences. At the same time, fueled by digital connectivity and social media, reputational damage can spark and spread quickly. Read More

How Large Companies Can Grow Their Data and Analytics Talent

(MIT Sloan) While many companies are hiring data scientists and other types of analytical and artificial intelligence talent, there is little consensus within and across companies about the qualifications for such roles. The term data scientist might mean a job with a heavy emphasis on statistics, open-source coding, or working with executives to solve business problems with data and analysis. The idea of data scientist “unicorns” who possess all these skills at high levels was never very realistic. Read More

DoD wants industry’s help in taking out space trash

(Federal News Network) In March, the military announced that its space fence is fully operational and can now track items that are 10 centimeters or larger in size. Now, the military service in charge of space as a warfighting domain is looking for some garbage-astronauts to take out the trash. Leaders of the Space Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (SRCO) and Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMSC) said Wednesday that they are interested in ways the commercial sector can help the military with junk floating around the Earth’s orbit. Read More

Virus won’t stop 65th year of NORAD tracking Santa on Christmas Eve

(Air Force Times) WASHINGTON — Children of the world can rest easy. The global pandemic won’t stop them from tracking Santa Claus’ progress as he delivers gifts around the globe on Christmas Eve. The North American Aerospace Defense Command has announced that NORAD will track Santa on Dec. 24, just as it has done for 65 years. But there will be some changes: Not every child will be able to get through to a volunteer at NORAD’s call center to check on Santa’s whereabouts, as they have in years before. Read More