USAF Decides To Buy Third SBIRS High from Lockheed

The U.S. Air Force notified industry

June 21 that it plans to issue a sole-source contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems to build a third Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) High satellite, with an option to purchase a fourth spacecraft.

The notice, which was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities

Web site, said that the contract

also will cover the purchase of a third and fourth SBIRS High sensor to be placed on a classified satellite in a highly elliptical orbit


The third and potentially fourth dedicated SBIRS High satellite would require “minimal modifications,” according to the notice.

The Pentagon

originally had planned to buy five


High satellites that are intended to

be placed in geosynchronous orbit. When the contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin Space Systems in 1996,

the Defense Department also had plans to buy for less than $2 billion ground systems plus two payloads to be hosted on classified satellites in highly elliptical orbits.

However, technical difficulty that drove the estimated price tag above $10 billion led the Defense Department to scale back its planned purchase of geosynchronous satellites in late 2005 to two satellites, with the possible purchase of a third, depending on progress with the first satellite.

Air Force officials over the past year have said that the SBIRS program has progressed well enough to return to the original plan of buying at least five satel

lites from Lockheed Martin.

Investigation of Atlas 5 Launch Problem Begins

The U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance are reviewing telemetry and other data to determine the cause of the problem experienced during the June 15 launch of a classified payload aboard an Atlas 5 rocket, according to a June 21

Air Force news release.

The news release noted that the Centaur upper-stage engine experienced “degraded performance” during the launch, but said that it was not considered a failure, and that the classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite

still is expected to be able to perform its mission.

Rick Oborn, an NRO spokesman, declined to comment on the status of the satellite.

Joe Davidson, a spokesman for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, did not respond by press time to questions about

the review and whether it would lead to delays on upcoming Atlas 5 launches.

Bigelow Prepares for Launch of Genesis 2

Bigelow Aerospace is expected to launch its next expandable space module, Genesis 2, some time the week of June 25.

“Genesis 2 is prepped and ready to go for a late June launch,” said Mike Gold,


counsel for the Las Vegas

-based company. As the second privately built pathfinder spacecraft for Bigelow Aerospace, Genesis 2 will be placed into Earth orbit by a Dnepr rocket launched from the ISC Kosmotras Space and Missile Complex near Yasny, Russia.

Genesis 1 was launched by a Dnepr rocket

July 12, 2006, and remains in good operational condition. The outside appearance and size of the new module will be identical to Genesis 1 – approximately 4.4 meters

in length and

1.9 meters

in diameter, expanding to 2.54 meters

in diameter once it is in orbit. It is a one-third scale version of the manned commercial space modules Bigelow Aerospace hopes to launch in the future.

Arianespace Signs Deals To Launch Nine Satellites

Arianespace signed launch-services contracts with the Indian Space Research Organi

(ISRO) and with Norway’s Telenor Satellite Broadcasting for the launch of the Insat 4G and Thor 6 telecommunications satellites in late 2008 and mid-2009, respectively, Arianespace announced.

Those two deals brought to nine the number of new contracts that Arianespace announced during the week of the Paris air show. The company also signed contracts for single launches with Arabsat and Rascom in addition to a five-launch deal it signed with SES, of Luxembourg.

4G, built by ISRO, will be orbited by an Ariane 5 rocket. The satellite is expected to weigh 3,200 kilograms at launch and to carry 18 Ku-band transponders and a navigation payload.

Thor 6, built by ThalesAlenia Space, is expected to weigh 3,000 kilograms at launch and to carry 36 Ku-band transponders. It will be launched by either an Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket or the medium-lift Russia Soyuz vehicle, which is scheduled to begin operating from Europe’s Guiana Space Center

in 2009.

Arianespace Chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall

signed a contract June 20 for delivery of the first four Soyuz vehicles to Europe’s

French Guiana launch base. The first two Soyuz

are expected to arrive in late 2008. Also signing the Soyuz delivery contract was Anatoly Perminov, director of the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, and the heads of the Soyuz manufacturing team including Alexander Kirline, director-general of the Samara Space Center, the Soyuz prime contractor.

Austrian Officials Release Suspected Roskosmos Spy

Austrian authorities

on June 21 released

a senior Russian space agency (

) official who had been detained 10 days earlier on suspicion of spying.

Kupalova, a spokeswoman for the Russian embassy in Vienna, Austria, identified the man as Vladimir Vozhzhov and said he was on embassy premises and was expected to return to Moscow shortly. The official Roskosmos Web site identifies Vozhzhov as the deputy head of the agency’s international cooperation department.


Igor Panarin thanked Russian diplomats for securing release of an agency employee but refused to confirm his identity.

was in Vienna as part of the official Russian delegation to the 50th session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which took place June 6-15.

Young Nominated for Top Pentagon Acquisition Job

U.S. President George W. Bush intends to nominate John Young to serve as the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, according to a White House news release dated June 20.

Young, who currently serves as the director of defense research and engineering, would succeed Kenneth Krieg, who announced

June 6 that he plans to retire

July 20

or sooner if his replacement is confirmed by the Senate prior to that date.

Young’s previous jobs include serving as assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, and as an aide to the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Wanda Austin Promoted To Lead Aerospace Corp.

The Aerospace Corp. has selected Wanda M. Austin to succeed William F. Ballhaus Jr. as president and chief executive officer. Austin, who is senior vice president of the Aerospace Corp.’s national systems group in Chantilly, Va., will replace Ballhaus after his Jan. 1

retirement, according to a June 20 company press release.

Austin, a member of the NASA Advisory Council and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, will be succeeded by Manuel De Ponte, general manager of the corporation’s MilSatCom division.

Austin was picked by the corporation’s board of trustees after a nationwide search in which the board was assisted by the executive search firm of Heidrick & Struggles.

Boeing Finishes Assembly, Testing of 1st WGS Satellite

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of Seal Beach, Calif., has completed integration and testing of the U.S. Air Force’s first Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite, scheduled to launch in August aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, Boeing

said in a June 18 press release.

The WGS system is designed to enhance and eventually replace the current Defense Satellite Communications System, increasing the amount of bandwidth available to U.S. forces and reducing the military’s dependence on


services, according to the release. The satellites will be capable of transmitting using X-band and Ka-band frequencies.

Boeing is building five WGS satellites – three Block 1 and two more-capable Block 2 versions – for the Air Force under a contract that includes an option for a sixth, the company said. The contract for the five satellites is worth about $1.6 billion and $1.9 billion if the sixth is added, Boeing spokesman Dick Garlick said June 20


“One WGS satellite will provide more communications capacity than the entire Defense Satellite Communications System constellation that’s currently on orbit,” Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, said in a prepared statement.

Mikulski Miffed by Response To Calls for Space Summit

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) chastised the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush June 20 for what she characterized as its “tepid response” to a bipartisan congressional request for a summit to discuss civil space issues.

Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with NASA oversight, took issue with the fact that the White House response came not from the president but from two of his senior aides.

“While I appreciate the response from departing OMB [Office of Management and Budget] Director Rob Portman and White House Science advisor John Marburger, I regret the President did not address this invitation himself,” Mikulski said in a statement.

She said she would continue working with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to address what she and other lawmakers say is an inadequately funded civil space program and welcomes discussions with White House officials on the matter. “However, I will continue to seek a new dialogue with the President,” she said.

In a June 11 letter to Mikulski and the other lawmakers that called for the summit, Marburger and Portman said they believe the president’s budget requests since 2004 have provided adequate resources to fund a balanced space program that includes human exploration, science and aeronautics. The White House officials shifted blame for NASA’s funding woes to Congress, noting that “recent appropriations for NASA fell significantly below requested amounts.”

White House plans to increase NASA’s budget in 2007 were derailed when Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that funded most U.S. civilian agencies at their 2006 levels.

“The President agrees we need an open and candid dialogue on the path forward to sustaining a balanced, robust space program,” the White House officials said in their letter, which was released June 20 by Mikulski’s office. “With that in mind, we, along with Administrator Griffin, would welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss civil space and other important topics in coming weeks, as permitted by your schedule.”

Lockheed Team Cleared To Begin Production of MUOS

A team led by Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., has been cleared to begin production of a new generation of mobile communications satellites for the U.S. Navy, the company said in a June 20 news release.

Following a series of production-readiness reviews, the team is set to build the first two Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites along with the full ground segment, the press release said. Lockheed Martin’s MUOS contract includes options to build three more satellites and has a potential value of $3.26 billion.

The geostationary orbiting MUOS satellites will provide mobile communications to U.S. Navy

vessels and other forces deployed in remote regions of the world in the ultra-high-frequency band. MUOS is the designated replacement for the Navy’s existing UHF Follow-on satellite system.

Lockheed Martin’s teammates on the program include Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, Calif., and General Dynamics C4 Systems of Scottsdale, Ariz.

The first MUOS satellite, along with the complete ground system, is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2010. Lockheed Martin said the design reviews, including a critical design review, were completed before the May 31 date specified in the MUOS contract.

Schlumberger To Distribute Intelsat Maritime Service

Satellite operator Intelsat of Washington and Bermuda has launched a new maritime broadband communications service and signed oilfield services and technology giant Schlumberger as a distributor, Intelsat said in a June 19 press release.

The C-band Network Broadband Global Maritime service will be marketed primarily to the shipping and oil and gas industries by selected distributors. Under a multi

year deal, Schlumberger, whose principal offices are in Houston, Paris and The Hague, Netherlands, will distribute the service to oil and gas companies and will have responsibility for installation, maintenance and support.

In a separate announcement June 18, Intelsat said it

will lease capacity aboard its IS-8 satellite to

New Zealand-based ANZ Teleport & Broadcast Ltd. for the provision of direct-to-home (DTH) television services in that country and possibly beyond


Terms of the multi

year contract were not disclosed,

Intelsat spokesman Nick Mitsis said via e-mail

June 19


Intelsat’s IS-8 SW Pacific Beam also covers other markets beyond New Zealand, giving us the ability to address new DTH opportunities in a cost-effective manner,” Matt Robson, ANZ’s general counsel, said in a prepared statement.


To Work for Suborbital Tourism Firm

George Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society, has taken a second job

as a senior advisor to Virgin Galactic, the suborbital space tourism venture backed by Richard Branson. According to sources, Whitesides will continue to serve as head of NSS, splitting his time between the two jobs.

Whitesides will start

with Virgin immediately, advising the company

on government and regulatory issues and advocating on its behalf.


Grumman To Build Prototype Engine Turbopump

Northrop Grumman Space Technology will continue development work on a cryogenic upper-stage rocket engine under a contract extension awarded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the company announced June 19.

The Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) program is aimed at building and testing a turbopump for a 40,000-pound-thrust engine, the company, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., said. The new contract, valued at $10.9 million, calls for Northrop Grumman to assemble a prototype turbopump that will undergo testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., by mid-2009.

The latest contract brings the total value of Northrop Grumman’s work on the turbopump development effort to $30.8 million, the company said.

“Under the USET contract, we’re developing advanced rocket engine design tools that are broadly applicable to a wide variety of rocket engine types and oxidizer and fuel combinations,” Tom Romesser, vice president for technology development for Northrop Grumman Space Technology, said in a prepared statement.

Former New Skies Exec To Run Protostar Asian Office


has opened a new office in Asia to expand its operations, a June 18 company press release said.

The Bermuda-based company announced its new Singapore office at the CommunicAsia conference there. It will be headed by EuiKoh, a former Asian regional executive with Intelsat and New Skies Satellites. Koh also is a past president of the Asia Pacific Satellite Communications Council.

plans to lease capacity aboard its geostationary satellites to direct-to-home satellite television providers. The first of its satellites, ProtoStar 1 (formerly Chinasat 8), is planned for launch in mid-2008 by Arianespace of Evry, France.

EMS SatcomTo Supply Gear for Boeing 747-8

EMS Satcom of Ottawa

will develop a

satellite communications system for

Boeing new 747-8 jetliner

under a contract with Rockwell Collins,

EMS Satcom

said in a June 18 press release.

Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is supplying

the communications system for the latest variant of Boeing’s 747 line,

due out in 2009.

The EMS Satcom system

will be used with Inmarsat‘sSwiftBroadband service, EMS Satcom spokeswoman Kate Murchison said in a June 19 e-mail response to questions. London-based Inmarsat operates a fleet of mobile communications satellites.

The terms of the contract were


disclosed but EMS Satcom expects to get revenues

of approximately $15 million over the next 10 years from this contract, Murchison said.

“The rising trend in Europe and in parts of Asia where airlines are starting to offer more in-flight [passenger] communications services will help to drive the North American demand for such services,” Paul Domorski,

president and chief executive of EMS Technologies,

said in a prepared statement.

$16.7 Million Order Placed for Ares Parts

NASA has placed an order for $16.7 million worth of aluminum lithium and metal ingots it needs to get started on the early development of the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle upper stage.

The firm-fixed price contract, which runs through August 2008, is being awarded to Bettendorf, Iowa-based Alcoa North American Rolled Products.

NASA expects to select a production contractor to manufacture the cryogenic liquid-fueled upper stage at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans by early September. The Boeing Co.

and an AlliantTechsytems team, which

includes Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, submitted competing bids for the upper-stage work back in April.