Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 20 September 2007
12:04 pm ET













Japanese H-2A Launches Selene Lunar Orbiter











Japan’s large Selenological




and Engineering Explorer (Selene)




lunar orbiter mission




, also known as Kaguya, was successfully launched by an




H-2A rocket




from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex in Tanegashima, southern Japan, Sept. 14,




the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and H-2A manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries




announced.



The 2022 variant of the




H-2A, featuring




two large




and two




smaller




solid strap-on boosters, initially hoisted the 2,885-kilogram Kaguya spacecraft into a parking orbit with a perigee of 281.3 kilometers and an apogee of




233,300 kilometers




.





Kaguya
,




built by NEC-Toshiba Space Systems Ltd. of Yokohama, has been billed by JAXA as the most ambitious lunar




science mission since Apollo. The orbiter




carries 13 major science instruments to study the composition of the Moon,








its origin and its evolution, and to scout the




lunar surface




for possible future exploration, according to JAXA.

The 55 billion yen ($485 million) Kaguya mission is a drastically simplified version of the original Selene




mission, which




included a lander that was eliminated for budgetary reasons.




The mission now comprises a main spacecraft weighing 1,984 kilograms that will orbit the Moon at an altitude of 100 kilometers and




two 50-kilogram sub satellites:




one for data relay, also orbiting at 100 kilometers, and another that will operate in a highly elliptical orbit to study the Moon’s gravitational field.







Kaguya
is scheduled to undergo two burns and inject itself into a lunar orbit about 127 hours after launch, after which the main satellite and the subsatellites will separate.




Kaguya is designed for a one-year mission.







ATK To Build Prototype Small Satellite Thruster



AlliantTechSystems (ATK) of Minneapolis won




a $3.3 million contract to develop, build and test a multi-mode small-spacecraft propulsion system for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the company announced in a Sept. 11 press release.



The system uses chemical and electrical propulsion and




could provide unique maneuvering flexibility for




small spacecraft, ATK said. ATK and partners Busek Co. Inc.




of Natick, Mass., and American Pacific of Las Vegas were one of six teams that




developed concepts during




the first phase of the project in 2006 and were the only team selected to move on to the development phase.







The prototype will be delivered in September 2008. If the design is deemed successful by the Air Force, a $4.7 million contract option may be exercised for the ATK team to integrate the propulsion system into a




flight system for further development and testing.







U.S. Air Force Bid for UAV Lead is Rebuffed



Pentagon leaders have rejected




a




U.S. Air Force proposal to take the lead role in military




unmanned aerial vehicle




(UAV




) procurement




, and instead




will establish a task force to address important issues regarding those systems, according to a Sept. 13 memorandum signed by Gordon England, deputy defense secretary.

The task force will report to the Deputy’s Advisory Working Group on UAV issues, and will pick organizations within the military to lead work in areas including civil airspace integration, frequency spectrum and bandwidth utilization, and payload management, according to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Space News.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, (R-Ala.) ranking member of the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, praised the decision not to designate the Air Force as executive agent for UAVs in a news release issued




Sept. 14. Putting the Air Force in charge could have restricted Army and Navy participation in UAV development, Sessions said in the news release.

England’s memo also calls on the Pentagon’s acting acquisition chief to make recommendations that could lead to increased competition for new UAV programs, and directs the merger of the Predator and the Sky Warrior UAV acquisition programs.



The Sky Warrior is a derivative of the Predator; both vehicles are built by General Atomics. Bringing the programs together will enable use of a common data link, as well as common procurement, sustainment and training activities, according to the memo.





Russian Soyuz Rocket Launches Foton Capsule





The Russian Foton-M3 capsule carrying 43 experiments for European governments was




launched successfully into a




300-kilometer orbit




Sept. 14 by




a Soyuz-U rocket that lifted off




Russia’s BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced.

ESA and several individual European governments together provided 43 experiments in fluid physics, biology, technology-demonstration and other fields – a total of 400 kilograms of payload that includes an 18-kilogram aquatic module built for ESA and for the German Aerospace Center, DLR. Called Aquahab, it is carrying a single-celled Euglena gracilis organism, described as an active swimmer, as well as a small fish.

ESA uses the Russian Foton craft as well as suborbital systems to conduct experiments that may one day be performed on a longer-term basis aboard the international space station. ESA’s Columbus habitable laboratory is scheduled to be attached to the station following a U.S. shuttle launch scheduled for December.

The Foton-M3 is ESA’s ninth Foton mission since 1991. It is scheduled to operate for 12 days in orbit before returning to Earth for recovery and analysis of the experiment hardware.

NASA said in a press release Sept. 11 that agency scientists are collaborating with Russia on some of the Foton M-3 experiments.





Opportunity Descends Into Martian Crater After Test




The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity made its first move into the red planet’s Victoria Crater Sept. 14 following a cautious test the previous day to make sure it will be able to back out when the descent is over.

Opportunity performed a quick in-and-out wheel slippage test Sept. 13 driving about 6 meters




inside the crater’s rim, John Callas, Mars rover project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said in a Sept. 13




news release.



The next day Opportunity began a multi-week investigation of the crater’s inner slope.



The robot explorer was set to enter into the crater in late June when a series of dust storms broke out and threatened to cut off sunlight to its solar cells. More than two months later, the dust from those storms has settled and both Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, have largely recovered.





NSSL Lands Satcom Deal With UK Defense Ministry



NSSL, the London-based provider of mobile satellite solutions and equipment, won a contract extension potentially worth more than 200 million British pounds ($406 million) to provide commercial satellite services to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, the company said.

Under the contract, NSSL will provide satellite handsets, services and Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) integration assistance worldwide for the British military. BGAN is Inmarsat‘s newest and most capable satellite broadband service. NSSL’s contract, which falls under the umbrella of the Defence Ministry’s Skynet 5 satellite communications program, runs until 2020, the company said.




SAIC Wins Space Command System Support Contract



Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has been awarded an initial indefinite quantity/indefinite delivery contract potentially worth




$49.5 million to provide systems support to U.S. Air Force Space Command, the company announced in a Sept. 13 press release.

The contract has a base period of four months and




four one-year options




.




SAIC will oversee 14 subcontractors providing technical services for government systems including weapon




systems for the Space and Missile Systems Center Space Logistics Group.

NASA Adjusts Plan for Initial Activity on Moon










NASA has revised the lunar exploration architecture it rolled out last December to feature more habitation and surface mobility capabilities earlier than previously planned.

Doug Cooke, NASA deputy associate administrator for exploration systems, told a Space Transportation Association audience in Washington Sept. 11




that NASA envisions using dedicated landers to put as many of three dedicated habitation modules onto the Moon’s surface during the early phases of the program




rather than building living quarters into the space-constrained landing craft that




astronauts will take to




the surface.

“Rather than have small habitation chunks that we take along with the crew [since] that part of the down mass is always going to be squeezed … we decided that we should probably put down a larger hab on a dedicated lander and probably use two or three at most, but have it be larger and put it down early,” Cooke said.





Cooke said NASA’s latest thinking about the human lunar expedition it hopes to undertake around 2020 also envisions sending a pair of pressurized two-person rovers to the Moon relatively early in the program. The rovers, which NASA is calling the Flexible Rover Exploration Device, or FRED for short, would have built-in radiation protection and would be capable of traveling fairly long distances.



Cooke said




NASA Administrator Mike Griffin was briefed on the revised architecture Sept. 7. More details will be rolled out at upcoming meetings, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’




Space 2007 Conference and Exposition in Long Beach, Calif., Sept. 18-20.












Avanti

Signs Contract for Launch Aboard Falcon 9


















Start-up commercial satellite operator Avanti Communications Group plc of London has contracted with Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to launch Avanti’sHylas broadband




satellite aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in mid-2009, Avanti announced Sept. 10.

The contract with SpaceX




of El Segundo, Calif., includes options for the launch of three other Avanti satellites on the drawing boards. It is almost certain to be criticized by Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium as another example of a European taxpayer-funded project




bypassing European launchers that these same taxpayers also support.

The 17-nation European Space Agency (ESA) paid about 35 million euros ($48.2




million) of the estimated 120 million-euro




cost to develop and build




Hylas
, which is being built by a new joint venture of Astrium Satellites of Europe and India’s state-owned Antrix Corp.

Astrium
is providing Hylas‘ innovative flexible Ku- and Ka-band payload, which was developed in part under ESA contract. The ESA funding was provided by the British government.

Hylas
is expected to weigh around 2,600 kilograms at launch, according to Astrium and ESA estimates.



Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall








has repeatedly criticized the Italian government’s use of U.S. rockets instead of Europe’s Ariane 5 vehicle. He




has said European governments that financed




development of the Ariane 5 should use that vehicle almost exclusively




to launch their taxpayer-funded satellites




.

SpaceX
Chief Executive Elon Musk, in Sept. 6 remarks at Euroconsult’s satellite-finance conference, announced the contract for Falcon 9 but did not name the customer. Avanti, whose stock trades on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market, disclosed the deal




Sept. 10.

SpaceX
is developing Falcon 9 as a medium




-lift complement to the company’s smaller Falcon 1 vehicle, which has failed to reach orbit in two flights to date, including one earlier this year.




The company plans a third Falcon 1 launch attempt in early 2008.

SpaceX
has announced that Falcon 9, to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.




, will make its first demonstration flight in late 2008.

Avanti
Chief Executive David Williams, in Sept. 5 remarks at the Euroconsult conference, said Avanti expects to announce contracts for three satellites in the next six months, which when added to Hylas will give the company a four-satellite in-orbit fleet in 2012.

In a Sept. 10 interview, Williams said Avanti’s government funding has come from British taxpayers and did not come with any specific or implied obligation to use Europe’s launchers, which starting in 2009 will include Russia’s medium-lift Soyuz launched from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Williams said recent failures of Russian and Ukrainian rockets suggest that Russia




has




quality-control issues to work through. These issues, plus the fact that the European version of Soyuz has never flown, helped drive Avanti’s choice of SpaceX, he said.

While SpaceX has start-up issues of its own and has never placed a payload into orbit, Williams said Avanti and SpaceX share a belief




that the space industry needs to adopt new business models and substantially reduce its costs




.

“The economics of space need to change,” Williams said. “We are a start-up company and SpaceX is as well and we share certain ideas on the direction the industry should take. This guy [Musk] has invested more of his personal money in the space business than anyone ever has. We have had a hard look at the technology and we believe in SpaceX.”

Williams said the British government, which has invested very little in




Ariane 5 development, is unlikely to protest the choice of SpaceX.

“There is no element in my contract structure that obliges me to use a European launcher,” Williams said. “Second, the Ariane 5 is a high-quality vehicle but it’s also very expensive. Third, as a businessman my obligation is to my shareholders and customers.”











KEI First-Stage Motor Test Fired a Third Time






The




first-stage rocket motor for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI)




completed its third test firing Sept. 7, KEI prime contractor Northrop Grumman Mission Systems of Reston, Va., said in a Sept. 7




press release.

Alliant
TechSystems is developing




the first- and second-stage




motors for the KEI, and the test was conducted at that company’s




Promontory, Utah, facility. The first-stage motor




now has completed three of five planned static firing




tests, while the second-stage motor has completed one of five planned tests with another scheduled for mid-October. The first KEI booster flight test is planned for 2008, Northrop Grumman said.

Initially designed to intercept missiles in the boost phase from mobile platforms, the KEI




now is planned to be launched from land-based silos due to scaled back funding. The KEI now is envisioned as an eventual replacement for the




Ground-based Midcourse Defense system interceptors. Northrop Grumman won a $4 billion prime contract to develop the KEI system in 2004.





Lockheed Martin Mates SBIRS Spacecraft, Sensor




Lockheed Martin Space Systems




of Sunnyvale Calif., has mated the spacecraft bus and sensor




payload for the first geosynchronous-orbit Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning satellite




, according to a Sept. 10 company press release.

The spacecraft bus is the satellite’s structural foundation and incorporates the propulsion system and other command and control subsystems.




SBIRS will provide early warning of ballistic missile launches for the military.

Lockheed Martin and payload subcontractor Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems




of Azusa, Calif., now will




begin system-level environmental and acceptance testing in preparation for the satellites scheduled




launch in early 2009.




Aerospace Corp. Opens Colorado Springs Office






The Aerospace Corp.




of El Segundo, Calif., opened a new regional office building Sept. 12 in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to a Sept. 6 company press release.



The Aerospace Corp., a federally funded research and development center that provides engineering support for U.S. military space programs, has about 130 employees in the Colorado Springs area, mostly




supporting of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base there. The 7,020-




square-meter




facility is built on




property leased from the Colorado Springs Airport Authority.




1st GPS 2F Assembled, Ready for Ground Tests








Boeing Integrated Defense Systems of St. Louis has finished assembly of the




first of the U.S. Air Force GPS 2F navigation satellites




, which




will begin launching in 2008, a Sept. 12 company press release said.

GPS 2F will add new capabilities to the positioning system’s constellation, including a new civil signal, onboard encrypted military code, crosslink enhancements and signal power and design life increases. Boeing is under contract to build 12 GPS 2F spacecraft for the Air Force’s GPS Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles. This will be the final block of GPS 2 satellites before GPS 3 satellites are scheduled to begin launching in 2013.



The company




now is preparing for environmental tests designed to confirm the structural and mechanical integrity of the satellites during launch and while on orbit.




Testing will ensure the satellites will separate properly from the launch vehicle and be able to handle high sound pressure levels and extreme temperatures.




NASA’s Ikhana Aircraft Helps Combat Wildfires




NASA’s Ikhana unmanned aerial Vehicle (UAV) has come to the aid firefighters battling blazes in central California and the Pacific Northwest, taking infrared imagery of the affected areas, according to the agency’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.



Ikhana




observed




12 separate wildfires




– eight in California, two in Idaho and two in Washington -during a 20-hour period Sept. 7 and Sept. 8,




Vince Ambrosia, Ikhana principal investigator at Ames, said in a Sept. 12 e-mail.



Based on a U.S. military




Predator UAV built by San Diego-based General Atomics Corp., Ikhana




used an infra-red scanner to help area firefighters to see temperature differences and flames otherwise hidden by smoke. The imaging data, collected by the Ames-developed infrared scanner, then was overlaid on corresponding maps from GoogleEarth




.

“All fire camps that we are delivering data to are extremely happy with the capabilities and the ability to see areas that they have lacked ‘intelligence’ on,” Ambrosia said in an e-mail message to his research team. A copy of the message was provided to Space News.







Ikhana




took off and was flown remotely from




NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at




Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The




flight was the third test run using the Ames infra-red scanner. The two earlier flights




, in August, observed




11 wildfires in California,


Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.










Telenor

Exec Can Accept Six-Month Thor 2R Delay






The chief executive of




Telenor
Satellite Broadcasting says they can absorb a six-month delay in the launch of their




Thor 2R spacecraft resulting from




the grounding of the




commercial Proton-M rocket




following




a Sept. 6 launch failure. However, a delay much longer than that would have a measurable impact on Telenor’s planned expansion, J. Cato Halsaa, the Norwegian satellite-fleet operator’s




chief executive said Sept. 12.





Thor 2R




had been scheduled for




launch late this year aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton-M launch vehicle. But the rocket’s failure, which occurred shortly after liftoff,




will




shut down ILS operations for an undetermined number of months as ILS and the Russian government investigate what happened.

Halsaa
said the transponders aboard his company’s three in-orbit spacecraft are just about booked to capacity.




Continued demand for capacity from new satellite-television channels in the Nordic region, plus the gradual introduction of high-definition television, which requires more bandwidth than standard-definition TV, is forcing Telenor to plan for new capacity. In addition, the company is broadening its coverage in Central and Eastern Europe.



“We can handle a launch delay without problems when it comes to our current contracts and customers,” Halsaa said in an interview. “But our expansion plans will begin to have difficulties if the delay lasts longer than six months. At that point opportunities for growth will be compromised.”

The 2,500-kilogram Thor 2R is under construction at Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. Halsaa said the satellite could fit easily onto a European heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket as a co-passenger with another telecommunications spacecraft, but noted that for the moment Ariane 5’s launch manifest is full.



There remains a possibility that another satellite under construction at Orbital Sciences and scheduled for launch in the next 12 months could fall behind schedule, creating an opening on the Ariane 5 manifest.



“Right now Ariane is the only other possibility,” Halsaa said. “For the moment, the most realistic possibility for us is to wait for our slot on Proton and hope that it will not be too long.”






Soyuz To Launch French Eavesdropping Satellites





A Russian-built Soyuz rocket




will launch the French Defense Ministry’s four Elisa electronic




-intelligence demonstration satellites




along with




the first of two dual-use Pleiades high-resolution optical imaging




spacecraft in late 2009 from Europe’s Guiana Space Center, the Arianespace commercial-launch consortium announced Sept. 11.

Each Elisa spacecraft, under construction by Astrium Satellites with payload electronics provided by Thales Group, is expected to weigh about 135 kilograms at launch. The satellites employ the Myriade




platform developed by the French space agency, CNES, and already used for several military




and civilian Earth observation spacecraft.

France’s defense-procurement agency, DGA, and CNES have agreed to divide the estimated 115 million euros ($158 million) in estimated Elisa project costs.

Arianespace will begin operating Russia’s Soyuz rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana,




in mid-2009 under an agreement brokered by the French and Russian governments, and the European Space Agency.






Registration is Open for Team America Challenge





Registration has




opened for the sixth annual student model-rocket competition known as the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the




Aerospace Industries Association, which sponsors the contest, said in a Sept. 6 press release.

The 2008




contest is open to students in grades 7-12. Teams can represent any U.S. school or non-profit youth organization.



Contestants must build a model rocket from scratch and launch it with an onboard payload of two raw eggs to an altitude of 225 meters in a mission lasting about 45 seconds. The eggs must be recovered intact, and the contest will be scored on a point system based on how close entrants come to the specified mission criteria.



Teams will have until April




17, 2008, to conduct




a qualifying rocket launch to compete in the finals the following month, where $60,000 in scholarships will be awarded. The finals will take place May 17 at Great Meadow field events center in The Plains, Va.



Team entry forms, along with $90 for registration, are due Nov. 30 to the Arlington, Va.-based Aerospace Industries Association.






Radyne Has No Regrets About Buying AeroAstro



The global market for satellites weighing around 200 kilograms or less is expected to triple, to $225 million a year, by 2011 as military and non-military customers realize how much capability




can now be packed into




small platforms, Radyne Chief Executive Myron Wagner said.

Phoenix-based Radyne Corp. recently purchased small-satellite builder AeroAstro on the assumption that AeroAstro’s business niche is about to take off in the United States and elsewhere.

In a Sept. 5 presentation to investors, Wagner said Radyne is receiving inquiries from large-satellite builders interested in placing sensors and other electronic




payloads onto AeroAstro’s platforms.

Wagner said small-satellite production is among the most dynamic sectors




of the spacecraft hardware




industry, which itself is expected to grow by 14 percent a year through 2010 as U.S. government demand, and new commercial telecommunications markets, continue to expand.

Radyne
, whose stock is traded on the U.S. Nasdaq exchange, recently secured a new $60 million credit facility from a bank syndicate led by Citigroup and Wells Fargo HSBC Trade Bank. Wagner said Radyne continues to be on the lookout for new acquisitions after its $17.25 million




purchase of AeroAstro.






Fab-T Military Radios Successful in Testing





Boeing Integrated Defense Systems




of St Louis has successfully demonstrated a new radio system designed to communicate with secure military communications satellites that are




beyond a line of sight, the company announced Sept 4.





During the testing, the company’s Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) radio communicated with an orbiting Milstar satellite.




FAB-T also will




be compatible with the military’s forthcoming Advanced




Extremely




High Frequency satellite communications system.



The FAB-T system includes radios, antennas and user interface hardware that can accommodate data transfer rates as high as 300 megabits per second. Ground-based antennas receive and transmit data from and to the satellite, and the antennas relay this data to and from the user’s radio. The system includes software and hardware products from Boeing, RCI, ViaSat and L-3 Communications. Initial deliveries, including ground terminals and five airborne platforms, are scheduled for December 2008.




Marshall Communications Wins DISA Contract Award



Marshall Communications Corp., of Ashburn, Va., nabbed




a




three-year, $3.7 million contract to provide video satellite network management and remote terminals for the




Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a Sept. 6 company press release said.

Marshall will provide its




two-way SkyMarshall service to




DISA’s




Tactical Service Provider, a program that supports mobile troops with high-bandwidth data networks. This service provides up-to-the-minute video capabilities and connectivity to the Defense Information Service Network. Marshall will provide




network-management and help-desk support from the company’s




Ashburn headquarters.
















ESA Compiles Collection of XMM-Newton Observations





Data from Europe’s XMM-Newton space telescope has been compiled to create what the European Space Agency (ESA) says is the largest single collection of astronomical X-ray scans.





The 2XMM Serendipitous Source Catalogue was




compiled for ESA by the XMM-Newton Survey Science Center during XMM-Newton’s six




years of observations. The collection will aid




researchers studying high-energy celestial objects




, ESA said in a Sept. 7 press release




.

ESA’s
XMM-Newton has made




nearly 247,000 observations of X-ray emissions




from almost 192,000 different sources.



With its ability to scan 360 degrees in any dimension, the XMM-Newton-created collection








complements




more detailed




small-area observations from the NASA Chandra X-ray telescope and XMM-Newton itself, according to the release.




































Texas Firm To Market NASA Nanotechnology



An Austin, Texas,




company has licensed a process for making nano-scale carbon tubes that was developed by




NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Greenbelt, Md., facility said in a Sept. 4 press release.

Having already tested a prototype, Nanotailor now hopes to make Goddard’s single-walled carbon nanotube technology




commercially available by the end of 2007.



Carbon nanotubes are microscopic graphite sheets rolled into




cylinders with great strength and




electrical conductivity properties.




NASA views carbon nanotubes as building blocks for micromechanical devices and for other applications and has invested in the technology.





Commercial




applications for the technology




include




construction, medical, manufacturing and imaging




, according to the Goddard press release.

“All industries currently using multi-walled tubes will be able to benefit from this technology,” Reginald Parker, Nanotailor’s chief technology officer, said in a prepared statement.

With a thickness of




one carbon-atom




layer




, single-walled carbon nanotubes




are stronger, less expensive and easier to produce than multi-layered carbon nanotubes, according to the release.



Nanotailor
licensed the manufacturing technology through




NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which is designed to provide commercial outlets for NASA-developed technologies




.




GLAST Research Coupled With Ground Observatories



Astronomers using NASA’s planned Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope (GLAST) will have an easier time making corresponding observations at different wavelengths using ground-based telescopes under an agreement between the U.S. space agency and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), NASA said in a Sept. 4 press release.

The agreement enables scientists whose GLAST research proposals have been peer reviewed to automatically be granted observing time on one of 10 observatories operated by NOAO, which is funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, NASA said. This agreement will streamline the process of scientific discovery because the research proposals will only have to go through the peer-review process once, NASA said.

“This is a win-win situation, fostering important connections between scientific communities and organizations,” GLAST project scientist Steve Ritz of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a prepared statement. “Every part of the spectrum tells a different story. Having simultaneous observations will lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of some of the most powerful phenomena in the universe.”

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems of Gilbert, Ariz., built GLAST for a five-year mission starting in late 2007 or early 2008 to study gamma-rays and their sources.

Signed Aug. 20, the agreement is similar to another arrangement NASA made for GLAST with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in May.




Ames Awards Deal for Engineering Services



Los Angeles-based construction management firm Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall will provide architectural and engineering support services to the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, Calif., under a contract potentially worth $45 million, Ames said in an Aug. 30 Ames news release.

The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract covers support services that include providing information technology management and power supply studies to the facility Ames spokeswoman Carol Dones said in a Sept. 5 e-mail response to questions.

The contract has a one-year base period and four one-year options, the release said. The work began Aug. 31, Dones said.




iDirect Opens Regional Headquarters in Dubai



Herndon, Va.-based iDirect has opened a new headquarters for the Middle East and Africa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, an Aug. 29 iDirect press release said.

The company’s Vision Technology Systems subsidiary currently provides satellite-based broadband solutions for more than 40 network operators in the region.

The Dubai office now is open with four employees; another two are slated to be hired by next year, Katie Pryor, a spokeswoman from Sheffield Marketing Partners, said in a Sept. 6 e-mail response to questions.

“Dubai is the financial and commercial capital of the Middle East and a strategic hub for telecommunications in the region,” Rash Jhanjee, iDirect regional vice president for Middle East and Africa, said in a prepared statement.




NASA, Discovery Team Up For 50th Anniv. Coverage



NASA and Discovery Communications announced Sept. 5 a broad media partnership to commemorate the U.S. space agency’s 50th anniversary in 2008.

The Silver Spring, Md.-based media conglomerate plans to air special programming in the spring and summer of 2008, that will celebrate NASA with never-publicly-broadcast archival footage. Podcasts and interactive features on Discovery’s Web sites are also in the plans.



“This partnership with Discovery enables NASA to bring the excitement of 50 years of exploration and discovery to a wider audience,”




Robert Hopkins, NASA’s chief of strategic communications, said in a statement announcing the agreement. “This leverages NASA’s compelling content with Discovery’s state-of-the-art production capability and technology to tell the NASA story – past, present and future – through a variety of media and platforms.”

NASA and Discovery are teaming through a non-exclusive Space Act Agreement that involves no exchange of funds.