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SpaceNews 2012 | The Year in Review: March
France drops plans to privatize its military satellite telecommunications assets by selling the Syracuse 3 satellites in orbit to a private company and then leasing back the capacity.
United Technologies Corp. announces plans to sell Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the primary U.S. maker of liquid-fueled rocket engines.
Members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee criticize U.S. Air Force plans to close the Operationally Responsive Space Office and terminate the Space Test Program, which were divulged as part of the service’s 2013 budget request.
The U.S. Air Force says the most advanced capabilities of its next-generation missile warning system will be delayed because funding for the ground processing segment was diverted to getting the first satellite into orbit.
Asia Broadcast Satellite of Hong Kong and Mexico’s Satmex join forces to buy four Boeing 702 SP satellites, an all-electric design that keeps the satellites’ weight low enough to launch two at a time aboard Falcon 9 rockets. The two operators will be the first customers of the new Boeing platform.
The Arab Spring uprising causes a sharp increase in intentional signal interference for Middle East satellite operators Nilesat and Arabsat, including sophisticated, high-power jamming from likely government installations.
A French government strategy paper says ESA ultimately should fall under European Union control and that the EU should help finance Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. The issue divides France and Germany; the German government wants ESA to remain independent.
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket launches the Intelsat 22 telecommunications satellite. It carries a UHF-band payload for the Australian government, which in turn has leased much of the capacity to the Pentagon.
SES of Luxembourg, invited by ESA to comment on the debate over Europe’s next-generation rocket, comes down clearly in favor of an Ariane 6 capable of launching one satellite at a time.
Telesat secures $2.55 billion in new credit and pays shareholders a large, one-time dividend after its owners, PSP of Canada and Loral of New York, are unable to find a buyer willing to meet their terms for the satellite operator.
Intelsat publicly complains that U.S. Air Force warnings of close approaches involving the company’s on-orbit satellites and other space objects lack the necessary reliability.
A U.S. government official invites Russia to observe a test of the Pentagon’s Aegis sea-based missile defense system as part of an effort to ease Moscow’s stated concerns about U.S. plans to deploy similar but more advanced capabilities on European soil.
Jeanne Becker, the first executive director of the Center for the Advancement for Science in Space, resigns. The nonprofit was set up in late 2011 to manage non-NASA science at the international space station.
NASA Associate Administrator Chris Scolese becomes director of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Marshall Space Flight Center Director Robert Lightfoot moves to Washington to take Scolese’s place.