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SpaceNews 2012 | The Year in Review: June

X-37B spaceplane after landing. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo

The U.S. Air Force’s second unmanned X-37B spaceplane returns to Earth after a classified mission that lasted 469 days.

Intelsat announces Epic, a new generation of high-throughput satellites using C- and Ku-bands that utilize Intelsat’s orbital slots over ocean routes.

Satellite television broadcaster Dish Network weighs an appeal of a U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruling that denies Dish’s right to an orbital slot at 148 degrees west, which Dish had left vacant since 2009.

The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office donates two large telescopes left over from a classified program to NASA for possible use in a space science mission.

ESA agrees to continue preparations for a 2013 launch of its Sentinel 1A Earth observation satellite despite the fact that the European Commission has been unable to commit to paying to operate the satellite as part of the GMES program.

The U.S. Navy cancels the JMAPS small satellite effort, raising doubts about the future of Comtech’s AeroAstro microsatellite manufacturing division.

Iridium Communications announces the creation of Aireon LLC, designed to provide air traffic management payloads on Iridium’s second-generation constellation, Iridium Next. Harris Corp. and ITT Exelis are major contractors for Aireon terminals and engineering.

O3B Networks wins a contract with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to provide Ka-band broadband links to the world’s largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, starting in mid-2013.

The U.S. Air Force solicits industry proposals to study advanced sensors and alternative approaches to a next-generation weather satellite system.

China Investment Corp. agrees to purchase a 7 percent ownership stake in European satellite operator Eutelsat in a transaction with Spain’s Abertis, which is reducing its Eutelsat stake.

European space scientists give final approval to the Euclid space telescope, for launch in 2020, after spending months verifying the cost credibility of the billion-dollar mission.

The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency tells GeoEye it will be canceling key elements of the company’s EnhancedView satellite imagery contract.

Canada’s MDA Corp. agrees to purchase U.S. satellite builder Space Systems/Loral for $1.1 billion, including $875 million in cash.

Boeing and United Launch Alliance sue the U.S. Air Force, claiming the service owes them $385 million in deferred costs on the Delta 4 rocket program.

Israel’s Spacecom selects Israel Aerospace Industries to build the Amos 6 communications satellite, with MDA to provide the payload.

Hispasat of Spain, in an unexpected move, orders two satellites from Orbital Sciences Corp., one of which will debut Orbital’s new higher-power satellite frame.

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket launches a classified satellite in the third of four planned launches for the NRO over a five-month period.

Pete Rustan, a former senior manager at the NRO and a space technology pioneer, dies at age 65.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducts the second straight successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block 1B interceptor following a late 2011 failure.

The upper house of Japan’s parliament, or Diet, approves a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s space management structure.

NASA announces it has canceled the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer X-ray telescope due to cost growth.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency taps several firms to design Phoenix, a mission to build small communications satellites from the remains of bigger spacecraft left in graveyard orbits.

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