Briefs

by












  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 27 February 2008
02:50 pm ET











The End Nears for Ulysses Mission









Ulysses, a joint European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA solar mission, will be retired in the near future. The spacecraft no longer has enough power; it uses a radioactive isotope to run all of its heating, science and communications systems at once, ESA said in a Feb. 22 press release.



Without efficient use of its heating system, its hydrazine fuel supply will freeze once its temperature falls to 2 degrees Celsius and it then will be unable to maneuver.




“We expect certain parts of the spacecraft to reach 2 [degrees Celsius] pretty soon,” Richard Marsden, ESA’s Ulysses project scientist and mission manager said in the release.











Burt Rutan Undergoes Open-Heart Surgery




Burt Rutan, famed aerospace designer and head of Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif.




, underwent open-heart surgery earlier this month to battle a medical malady that produced severe fatigue. In a Feb.




22 e-mail to reporters, Rutan said he wanted to get the word out about




his health problem. Rutan said




his ailment, constrictive pericardium, had given him extreme fatigue for some five months.



Rutan
had




open-heart surgery at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles




Feb. 7.





“Feeling better every day,” Rutan said. “The complete recovery takes about three months.”



Rutan said he had a very strong case of the disease, which was difficult to diagnose and put him out of commission for six months.




Hale Promoted, Shuttle Program Gets New Boss




NASA announced Feb. 22 that John Shannon would succeed Wayne Hale as space shuttle program manager.



Hale has been promoted to NASA deputy associate administrator for strategic partnerships. Though he will report to NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, William Gerstenmaier, Hale will remain at Johnson Space Center in Houston in what NASA described in a press release as a strategic leadership position. Hale was named space shuttle program manager in September 2005. Shannon has been his deputy since November of the same year.




Europe Willing To Buy U.S. Parts for Galileo




Managers of Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system are willing to purchase U.S.-built components for Galileo satellites and have assumed that U.S. government technology-export hurdles would not be an issue, according to Giuseppe Viriglio, director of navigation at the European Space Agency (ESA).

The 30-satellite Galileo project is often presented as guaranteeing Europe’s strategic autonomy in positioning, navigation and timing services. As such, the principal contracts will be awarded only to European companies, Viriglio said. But for subsystem components Galileo builders will be free to use contractors outside of Europe, even if that means being subject to U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, rules, he said.

“The situation with ITAR is complicated, but we have no intention of exporting Galileo, so ITAR should not be a problem,” Viriglio said Feb. 21.








Gilat’s Strong Financials Attract New Suitor




Gilat Satellite Networks of Israel, a builder of satellite ground equipment, will decide “in the coming weeks” on a strategic transaction, but company officials declined Feb. 21 to confirm a buyout offer from MivtachShamir Holdings Ltd.





Israel’s “Globes” financial Web site reported that MivtachShamir




, an existing Gilat shareholder, is offering to purchase Gilat. In the conference call, Levinberg said Gilat’s board was reviewing an unspecified strategic transaction and would make a decision “in the coming weeks.”

Petah
Tikva-based Gilat, which in 2007 was thought to be an acquisition target of rival Hughes Network Systems, reported a 14 percent increase in revenue for 2007, a year in which revenue




increased every quarter.

Revenue growth in 2007 was especially strong from business in Russia and Africa, Gilat Chief Financial Officer Tal Payne said in a Feb. 21 conference call. Gilat Chief Executive AmiramLevinberg said the company expects to increase revenue




by at least 10 percent again in 2008 as developing markets continue to grow.



For 2007, Gilat reported revenue




of $282.6 million, up 14 percent from 2006. Net profit, at $22.3 million, more than doubled from 2006. The company sells very small aperture terminals, or VSATs, for corporate and government networks providing two-way voice and data links. Gilat often manages the network after the hardware sale.

Gilat
said its biggest geographic market remains the United States, which in 2007 accounted for 34 percent of the company’s revenue, followed by Latin America, where Gilat did 27 percent of its business. Asia, with 14 percent, was Gilat’s third-largest sales region.

But the share of all three of these markets in Gilat’s revenue




declined in 2007 because of sharp growth in Europe, which includes the fast-growing Russian market, and in Africa. Gilat said Europe, which in 2007 accounted for 13 percent of the company’s revenue




, was up 103 percent compared to 2006. Growth in Africa, in revenue terms, was 86 percent in 2007, with African customers now accounting for 12 percent of Gilat revenue




.






Raytheon Forms GOES-R Ground Systems Team






Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems will lead a team in the competition to build the ground system for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s next generation of geostationary-orbiting weather satellites, according to a company news release dated Feb. 21.

Raytheon’s team in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R ground system competition will include Lockheed Martin Corp., Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Omitron, Orbital Network Engineering, Silicon Graphics Inc., STC-METSAT, SM Resources Corp., RT Logic and Photon Research Associates, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon.

Other companies hoping to win the contract include Harris Corp., which announced its intention to compete




in April 2007. Sleighton Meyer, a Harris spokesman, said in a Feb. 22 e-mail that the company’s team includes Boeing Mission Systems, Honeywell Technical Systems, AER, Carr Astronautics, ERT and Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.

Integral Systems also is planning to compete for the GOES-R ground systems contract, according to Jeff Benesh, Western Region vice president in Integral’s government division.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration initially had planned to award a single contract for both the GOES-R space and ground segment, but elected to separate the two contracts last year.

John Leslie, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the agency expects to award the GOES-R ground system contract early this summer. The first GOES-R satellite is expected to launch in April 2015.


NASA, Northrop To Team On Advanced Civil Radar




NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems have agreed to collaborate on advanced civil radar systems for use on future Earth-observation and space science missions.

Under the Space Act Agreement signed Feb. 21 in Annapolis, Md., Northrop Grumman engineers will work with Goddard scientists to identify civil space applications for various radar technologies the aerospace contractor developed as part of its work on military programs, according to Joseph Ensor, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Space & ISR Systems Division. The technologies that will be examined for their application to civil space missions include space-qualified electronically scanned arrays, wideband electronics, and lightweight mesh antenna technology.

Goddard officials hope the collaboration will lead to smaller, less costly space-based radar systems for Earth-observation and planetary exploration.

“The mass, power, and other requirements of current planetary radar remote sensing instruments make them extremely challenging and costly to fly to Mars and icy moons such as Europa and Titan,” Jim Garvin, Goddard’s planetary science lead on the agreement, said in a statement. “Having the compact, agile, and scientifically versatile technology that this agreement will produce can help us achieve entirely new, ultra-high resolution measurements of the surfaces and shallow interiors of not only Mars but also of icy satellites, asteroids, Venus, and Mercury, in a cost-effective fashion.”

Ensor
said the collaboration would begin with a “fairly low level of activity” focused on laying out agreed upon objectives and milestones.




IpStar Subscription Growth Slows in 2007



Satellite-fleet operator Shin Satellite Public Co. Ltd. of Thailand reported a drop in revenue




in 2007 compared to 2006, blaming slower growth in subscriptions to its IpStar satellite-broadband service and the rise in value of the Thai baht, Shin announced Feb. 20.

Shin said sales from satellite transponder leasing and related services, including the broadband service, totaled 3.98 billion baht ($127




million), down 8.7 percent from the previous year. Revenue from the three Thaicom satellites – a fourth was taken out of service in 2006 – was 2.2 billion baht, down 13.4 percent from a year earlier. IpStar sales were down 2 percent, to 1.77 billion baht, in part because sales of IpStarterminals, and thus the signing up of new service customers, slowed to 38,000 in 2007, a 4.8 percent decline from the previous year.

Partly offsetting the drop in IpStar terminal sales were increased transponder-lease revenue from the IpStar satellite, also known as Thaicom 4, Shin said. Shin said IpStar service, now available in seven nations, will be licensed in four new countries – Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia – by mid-2008.






Esrange Launches Three German Experiments









A suborbital Texus sounding rocket carrying three microgravity experiments for the German Aerospace Center, DLR, was




launched successfully Feb. 21 from Sweden’s Esrange facility in northern Sweden, providing six minutes of near-weightless conditions for the payload, the Swedish Space Corp. (SSC) announced.

The experiments, all funded by DLR, were managed by Astrium, Kayser-Threde and SSC itself. One of the experiments was to study the incidence of motion sickness among 72 small fish, and how the affected fish adapted. The reaction of the fish was filmed, with the recorded sequence recovered by helicopter along with the Texus rocket and the other experiment hardware.



The other two experiments were in hydrodynamics and heat transfer, with a view to improving spray-cooling methods in industry; and in fluid mechanics.



SSC said Esrange’s next launch will be of a Maser rocket, a system managed by SSC. The Maser 11 vehicle has been reserved for four experiment modules financed by the European Space Agency.









Deep Impact To Image 5 Stars for Small Planets






While traveling to a flyby of comet Hartley 2 in October 2010, NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft is aiming its telescope at five stars to search for smaller-sized planets beyond our solar system.

The observations are part of Deep Impact’s extended mission, dubbed Epoxi. The probe completed a flyby of comet Tempel 1 July 4, 2005.

The mission is targeting five stars that already have been shown to be orbited by planets, specifically hot




gas giants like Jupiter that orbit very close to their host star, according to a Feb. 7 NASA press release. Those observations were made by ground-based teams, Drake Deming, Epoxi deputy principal investigator, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail message.

The Epoxi team, based at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is using light-based detection techniques to find smaller planets, Deming said. “In the most favorable case, we can pick up planets down to the size of Earth,” he said. The Epoxi team decided Jan. 22 to focus Deep Impact’s telescope to look for other planets orbiting the five stars, the release said.







SES Expected To Pick Loral To Build NSS-14



SES is expected to order its biggest-ever satellite from Space Systems/Loral, a 70-transponder satellite called NSS-14 that will be launched in late 2010 into SES New Skies’ 22 degrees west orbital slot, according to industry officials.



NSS-14 will be launched into a slot currently occupied by NSS-7. Once NSS-14 is successfully in position, NSS-7 will be moved to an undisclosed orbital position, where, depending on frequencies available at the new slot, it will provide up to 47 transponders of new capacity for SES New Skies.



Loral and SES officials declined to comment on the contract, but industry officials said it is likely to be announced within a week.



Palo Alto, Calif.-based Space Systems/Loral’s 1300 satellite frame has been among the most successful commercial satellite platforms in the past five years, prompting Loral to expand its production capacity by leasing plant space and hiring dozens of new engineers to meet its schedule commitments to customers.






Europe Urged To Share Encrypted Galileo Signal



The vice president of the European Commission said Feb. 21 that the United States and other European allies should have access to the encrypted service of Europe’s future Galileo satellite navigation system, just as U.S. allies have access to the military signals of the U.S. GPS system.



“I don’t see any reason why there should not be reciprocity in this,” Jacques Barrot, who is also European transport commissioner, said during a press briefing at a satellite navigation conference here. “In my view there will be reciprocity” in the use of Galileo’s Public Regulated Service (PRS).

PRS is Galileo’s highest-quality, most-reliable signal and is designed to be used by first responders and perhaps military forces as well. Non-European Union nations specifically have been barred from access to PRS. Even China and Israel, both of which have signed Galileo partnership agreements and invested in Galileo, have been told that PRS is off limits to them.

U.S. military GPS signals are made available to U.S. NATO allies to provide highly accurate guidance and navigation for use with a wide variety of military systems. But who will have access to PRS, and for what uses, remains unclear – particularly since some European governments are uncomfortable with the idea of any military use of Galileo, even by their own defense forces.



Whether the U.S. military would seek access to PRS signals is unclear. Galileo will not be in service until 2013 at the earliest, and the system needs to be proved. But after often bitter negotiations, Europe agreed to move PRS away from the radio frequencies used by GPS’s future military code after U.S. authorities argued that a frequency overlap was unacceptable.



With the frequencies now separated, weapon systems carrying both PRS and GPS military code receivers would be more jam-resistant insofar as a signal that jammed one would not necessarily affect the other. Resistance to jamming, both intentional and unintentional, has been a high priority in the design of next-generation GPS satellites and continues to be a concern for Galileo PRS designers.




Eumetsat Signs Contract To Continue Data Service



Eumetsat has signed a contract with T-Systems and Media Broadcast that will enable Europe’s weather satellite organization to continue delivering weather data through its EumetCast service through January 2014, Darmstadt, Germany-based Eumetsat announced Feb. 19.





Under the contract, valued at 12.8 million euros ($18.8




million), T-Systems and Media Broadcast will supply Eumetsat weather satellite data to customers at a rate of 15 megabits per second, increasing by 1 megabit per second each year. A ground station in Milan, Italy, will be added to the network to improve service availability. The service is delivered via a conventional telecommunications satellite to about 2,700 subscriber facilities.

Media Broadcast will operate the service and




also will oversee communications between the Eumetsat spacecraft and Eumetsat’s control center in Darmstadt.



The EumetCast model has been adopted by the Group on Earth Observations in collaboration with the U.S. and Chinese meteorological organizations.





Brazil OKs Globalstar‘s Ground Station Deal



Globalstar has received Brazilian regulatory approval to purchase a Loral-owned gateway operator, a purchase that will permit Globalstar to expand its data-transmission service, called Simplex, in South America.

The approval by Brazil’s telecommunications regulator, Anatel, follows a January agreement between Globalstar




of Milpitas, Calif., and New York-based Loral Space and Communications for the sale of the gateway to Globalstar for about $6.5 million, mainly in Globalstar stock. The gateway includes three satellite ground stations that provide




communication links




with Globalstar’s constellation of low-orbiting satellites, which provide a global mobile communication service.



Globalstar will upgrade the ground stations to provide Simplex coverage throughout Brazil and parts of northeast Argentina and the coastal areas. “With this expansion Globalstar will be able to offer its customers seamless simplex data coverage in North and South America, stretching from Alaska south to Argentina,” Globalstar said in a Feb. 21 press release.







Swedish Space Corp. Buys Chilean Ground Station



Swedish Space Corp. (SSC) has purchased a Chilean satellite ground station and its existing contracts as part of a strategy of further extending SSC’s reach beyond its Esrange facility in northern Sweden, SSC announced Feb. 20.

SSC is buying the Centro de EstudiosEspaciales (CEE) from the University of Chile in Santiago. Financial terms were not disclosed. CEE’s existing contracts, many of them with customers that also use SSC’sEsrange, will be transferred as part of the purchase, and the 60 CEE employees will be retained, SSC said.











GLAST Launcher 1st Stage Arrives at Cape Canaveral









The first stage of the Delta 2 rocket




that will




launch NASA’s Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) has arrived at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a Feb. 13 NASA press release said.

The second stage of the United Launch Alliance-built rocket already is at the facility.

GLAST, which will study gamma-rays and their sources during a planned five-year mission, is slated to launch from the Cape Canaveral complex




May 16.







Infoterra Group Sets up TerraSar-X Shop in Spain




Astrium Services’ Infoterra Group has created a joint venture with Spain’s Cartographic Institute of Catalonia and with Hisdesat of Spain to distribute high-resolution TerraSAR-X satellite radar data, Astrium announced Feb. 18.

The new company, to be called InfoterraServicios de Geoinformacion SA, or Infoterra SGSA,




also will develop applications and services for agricultural, environmental and defense-related customers, Astrium said. Like the other Infoterra divisions, the Spanish company will use airborne imagery, and data from optical satellites, in addition to its radar product line.

Astrium
will own 60 percent of Infoterra SGSA. Military satellite-services provider Hisdesat, which is co-owner, along with




New York-based Loral Space and Communications, of




the Xtar military satellite communications services company, will own 20 percent, as will the Cartographic Institute of Catalonia.

Infoterra
has divisions in Britain, France, Germany and Hungary.






Glenn Funds Research in Heat-Tolerant Electronics



Inprox Technology Corp., a Boston-based sensor technology developer, has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to develop




positioning sensors composed of heat-resistant silicon carbide for use in spacecraft, turbine engine controls and automotive engines, the company said in a Feb. 18 press release.

Silicon carbide-based electronics can function at temperatures as high as 600 degrees Celsius, whereas




conventional silicon-based electronics lose their effectiveness above




temperatures of 350 degrees Celsius, the release said.





“The capability to embed electronics in a device without the need to provide cooling provides a substantial advantage for many applications in sensing and control,” Phil Neudeck, Inprox’s team leader on the project, said in a prepared statement.



The research is sponsored by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at




Glenn Research Center.








ATK Gets Extension of Shuttle Motor Contract



NASA has awarded AlliantTechsystems (ATK) Launch Systems Group




of Brigham City, Utah, an $812.5 million contract modification for reusable solid-rocket motors for the space shuttle, ATK said in a Feb. 15 press release.

Under the




contract modification,




ATK will




continue to provide




the giant




motors and associated support services to NASA in coordination with shuttle launches through Sept. 30, 2010. The space shuttle is slated to retire in 2010.

The original cost-plus-award-fee contract was awarded in October 1998, the release said. The total contract value is now $3.9 billion, ATK spokesman George Torres said in a Feb. 21 e-mail message.










Kepler Spacecraft Sensors Undergo Testing at Ames



Imagining sensors designed to detect Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars are undergoing testing




at NASA’s Ames Research Center at




Moffett Field, Calif., a Feb. 19 NASA press release said.

The sensors are part of the payload for NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, slated to launch in February 2009.

“We expect to find dozens of planets in the habitable zone of solar-like stars that are terrestrial-size, rocky planets, similar to Earth,” William Borucki,




principal investigator for the Kepler mission at NASA Ames, said in a prepared statement.



The imaging sensors are designed to detect the slight variations in a star’s luminosity caused as an orbiting planet passes between




it




and the Kepler telescope.







Marshall Chief: Alabama OK With Lunar Robotic Plan



NASA’s top official in Alabama does not anticipate opposition from the state’s congressional delegation




to the U.S. space agency’s recently announced plan to put its science directorate in charge of a program of low-priced robotic missions to the Moon.

“We’ve talked to them already,” NASA Marshall Space Flight Director David King said Feb. 20, referring to Alabama’s elected representatives in Washington






. “We think it’s a good plan and I think they’re behind it.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.),




ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee




that funds NASA, added $42




million to the space agency’s 2008 budget to continue work on a Marshall




-led robotic lunar lander mission that NASA sought to cancel last year on grounds that it




could not afford it.

NASA now intends to use at least some of that money




to plan




a $60 million to $70 million-a-year lunar science




initiative featuring low-cost robotic missions. The program would




launch a small science orbiter to the Moon by 2011 and follow




that in 2014 with




a pair of mini-landers that would be part of a network of geophysical stations across the lunar surface that NASA hopes to create with international partners.







The




projects NASA intends to pursue under the revamped robotics program are intended to be much cheaper than the heavily




instrumented lunar lander Marshall had once expected to build.

King said NASA plans to spend the next six months studying its new lunar robotics initiative in greater detail.

“We are in the process of doing a phase-A study to determine what needs to be done … But clearly there are some things we’d like to do. There’s some capabilities we can put on the surface of the Moon or place in orbit around the Moon that would be beneficial prior to putting boots on the Moon,” he said.

NASA has two unmanned lunar probes slated to launch late this year – the six-instrument Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and a tag-along surface impactor mission called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS.

In addition to the newly proposed 2011 lunar science orbiter, NASA




intends to launch that same year the Moon-bound spacecraft Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, a Discovery-class project picked in 2006.










Ball Wins Contract for Extended ICESat Mission



NASA awarded Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. a contract to support an extended mission for the agency’s Ice, Clouds, and land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, the Boulder, Colo.-based company said in a Feb. 20 press release.

Ball spokeswoman Roz Brown said the contract has a six-month base period and five options, each for six months. The six-month increments are worth $1.2 million apiece and cover tasks including data collection and technical support, she said.

Ball built the satellite platform, or bus, for the ICESat mission, which was launched in January 2003 for what was expected to be a five-year mission studying ice formations, land topography, clouds and aerosols. Ball said the mission has been extended until at least 2010.











Astronomy Mission Ideas Selected for NASA Funding



NASA has selected 19 science teams to develop concept studies to help the space agency decide on possible future missions in astronomy and astrophysics, a Feb. 15 NASA press release said.

The results of the studies are expected




in March 2009, the release said. The combined cost of the studies – the individual contracts are valued at between




$250,000 and




$1 million – is




approximately $12 million




, the release said.



One of the missions being studied involves




putting an array of radio telescopes on the Moon’s far side to observe the early universe. A team




led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge is working on that concept, a Feb. 19 MIT press release said.

The MIT




researchers want to study the roughly 1 billion-year period near the beginning of the Big Bang known as




the “cosmic Dark Ages,” the university said.



Looking that far back into the past is difficult to do from Earth or




Earth orbit because the highly sensitive antennas that are required are subject to interference from the




ionosphere and radio-frequency




transmissions, the MIT press release said.



Among the other concepts selected for study are




two different exoplanetary searches




by teams based at the University of California, Berkeley, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and a census of black holes by a team led by the




Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge.






Raytheon Awarded SM-3 Contract Worth $1 Billion



Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., won




a five-year, $1 billion contract from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to supply 102 Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 1A interceptors,




a Feb. 15 Defense Department contract announcement




said. Twenty-seven of those missiles are bound for Japan, the announcement said.



The




SM-3 missiles are used in the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, which is being installed on 18 U.S. Navy Ships and three Japanese ships. The missiles for Japan




were purchased through a U.S. State Department foreign military sale. All of the missiles under this contract will be delivered by the end of 2011, the




Defense Department announcement said.



Raytheon




already was under contract with the MDA for




32




Block 1A interceptors




, all of which will be delivered by the end of this year, an MDA official said.



The latest contract




will be the final U.S.




purchase of SM-3 Block 1A missiles. Future MDA purchases will be of the more-capable Block 1B variant, MDA budget documents show.









Northrop Italia Wins NATO Missile Work




Northrop Grumman Italia, a Northrop Grumman Corp. subsidiary, has been selected by MBDA Italia to provide the navigation and localization system for NATO’s Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), a U.S.-European regional missile defense program now in the design and development




phase.





Northrop Grumman Italia’s navigation systems will support the MEADS system’s radars and launchers, according to a Feb. 18 company press release. MEADS is a joint venture between the United States, Germany and Italy that was created in 2004. It aims to be a rapidly deployable system that will protect mobile forces and fixed installations from missile threats, unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft. MEADS will eventually replace Patriot missile systems in the United States and Germany and the Nike Hercules missile systems in Italy.

The MEADS system recently completed its System Preliminary Design Review. The MEADS team




now is focusing on detailed design work for the system in preparation for the Critical Design Review in 2009. Initial flight tests of the system are scheduled for 2011.









U.S. Firm To Distribute Indian Sat Imagery



ASRC Management Services of Washington, has signed a three-year agreement with Antrix Corp. to be the sole U.S. distributor of




imagery collected by two Indian




Space Research Organisation




(ISRO) satellites, according to a Jan. 28 ASRC press release.



Antrix
, the commercial arm of




ISRO




, will allow ASRC




to sell imagery from India’s Resourcesat-1 and Cartosat-1 satellites. ASRC




will pay an undisclosed fixed price plus a certain percentage based on the amount of imagery it sells, the company’s president, Tim Lewis, said in an




interview.



ASRC




already has an agreement in place to provide imagery to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is in negotiations with other U.S. government customers, Lewis said. The company




also will become the sole U.S. ground station partner for Antrix, receiving data collected over the United States almost instantaneously.



Resourcesat-1 has been on orbit since 2003 and collects visible and near-infrared imagery with 5.8-meter resolution and lower-resolution imagery in other spectral bands. Cartosat-1 was launched in 2005 and has two black-and-white cameras




that allow stereo viewing of 54-kilometer swaths of Earth at 2.5-meter resolution.



Space Imaging of Denver became the exclusive U.S. distributor of ISRO satellite imagery




in 1994. Dulles, Va.-based GeoEye inherited that contract when it bought Space Imaging in 2006. When the contract expired Dec. 31, 2007, GeoEye and Antrix




mutually agreed to end their relationship, GeoEye spokesman Mark Brender said.



Meanwhile, GeoEye signed a three-year contract with ASRC




effective the beginning of this year to continue operating a




ground receiving station in Norman, Okla., as it had done under




its contract with Antrix, Lewis confirmed. That ground station receives data directly from the ISRO satellites.











Cosmonauts Update Iridium Phones




Russian cosmonauts recently replaced their old Iridium satellite phones for a newer version, Iridium Satellite of Bethesda, Md., said in a Feb. 7 press release.

The 9505 handsets, which had been used since August 2003, have been replaced by the 9505 A handsets. The cosmonauts use the satellite phones, coupled with a GPS receiver, after returning to Earth from the international space station so they can be located by search and rescue teams.

“The Soyuz descent vehicles often land in very remote regions of Russia which are not covered by terrestrial telecommunication networks,” Greg Ewert, executive vice president of Iridium, said in the press release




.











New Aeronautics Scholarship at NASA



NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate




is accepting applications for a new scholarship program for U.S. citizens, the space agency announced




Feb. 13.



Second-year undergraduate students can receive up to $15,000 for two years of study, while graduate students can receive $35,000 for three years.



Scholarship submissions are being accepted from Feb. 22 to March 17 for award this fall, according to a Feb. 13 NASA news release.

If awarded one of these scholarships, the student must be admitted into an aeronautical engineering program or a related field at an accredited U.S. university by fall, the release said. The student does not have to do be enrolled in such a program until then.