Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 13 March 2006
11:15 am ET


 

Ondas Media to Appeal FCC Ruling on WorldSpace

Ondas Media of Spain intends to pursue development of its efforts to develop a satellite radio system in Europe despite a U.S. regulatory decision that gives Ondas competitor WorldSpace priority over radio frequencies both companies intend to use.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 1 upheld an earlier FCC decision to permitting WorldSpace to launch its AfriStar-2 satellite into the same U.S.-registered orbital slot as its AfriStar-1 spacecraft, which has a solar-array defect and is expected to need replacement by the end of the decade.

Washington-based WorldSpace intends not only to replace the AfriStar-1 coverage, but also to expand one of its beams to bolster its provide a fuller service in into Western Europe. AfriStar-1 is today covers Africa and available in parts of Western Europe, but WorldSpace the company has not developed the European market and would have difficulty appealing to customers in northern Europe with AfriStar-1’s current footprint.

Madrid-based Ondas had urged the FCC to refuse WorldSpace’s request, saying that other satellite radio initiatives in Europe would be undermined if they had to work around the AfriStar-2 coverage area because of a WorldSpace priority.

The FCC countered had argued that prospective competitors to WorldSpace in any event would need to coordinate with AfriStar-1 and likely could not coexist with that satellite, with or without an AfriStar-2 coverage extension.

Robert A. Mazer, an Ondas co-founder and board member with Ondas attorney Vinson & Elkins LLP of Washington, said March 9 that Ondas has filed an appeal of the FCC’s latest decision.

Mazer said that Ondas, which plans a four-satellite system of four satellites in highly elliptical orbit over Europe , could coexist with AfriStar-2 because of the limited frequencies the WorldSpace satellite will have to serve Europe.

“We always assumed we would have to coordinate with WorldSpace,” Mazer said. “That is doable. Our purpose in challenging the FCC decision was to focus on the future and be sure the FCC did not set a precedent that others might use.”

WorldSpace’s AfriStar-2 satellite has been in storage for several years at prime contractor Alcatel Alenia Space’s plant in France. WorldSpace has estimated it will cost about $40 million to refurbish the satellite, and at least $70 million more to launch it.

WorldSpace spokeswoman Judith Pryor said March 8 that the company is still focusing on getting receiving European regulatory authority to install ground-based repeater receiver//REPEATER??–WF/fixed–wf/// stations to boost AfriStar-2’s the satellite’s signal. She said it was unclear when the AfriStar-2 satellite would be launched.

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Germany Approves Two Earth Observation Missions

The German aerospace agency, DLR, has given final approval for financing two Earth observation satellite missions, one in radar and one carrying a hyperspectral imager.

The Tandem-X satellite, is scheduled to be launch ed by early 2009, and will operate with the TerraSAR-X X-band radar spacecraft that is slated scheduled for launch late this year. Like TerraSAR-X, Tandem-X will have three imaging modes, with swath widths of 10, 30 and 100 kilometers and corresponding ground resolutions of 1, 3 and 16 meters.

The 770-kilogram EnMAP hyperspectral satellite, planned for launch in 2009 or 2010, will have a 30-meter ground resolution of 30 meters, operate in 200 channels and will examine environmental phenomena worldwide.

U.S. Agencies Ordered to Appoint Geospatial Czars

In a move designed to reduce waste and maximize the U.S. government’s buying power, the White House has directed 27 federal agencies to appoint a senior-level official to oversee and coordinate investments in geospatial data products.

In a March 3 memo, Clay Johnson, deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget, said coordination among U.S. agencies in geospatial activities has improved but that “much work remains to identify and optimize Federal government investments.” The memo was issued to most of the major U.S. civilian and defense agencies, from the U.S. Defense and State departments down to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The agencies have 45 days from the date of the memo to appoint a senior geospatial information officer.

To try to keep the government from overspending and duplicating its data, most departments which use space-based intelligence information now must appoint a senior official to oversee geospatial activities, according to a memo from the president’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Twenty-seven agencies, ranging from the Department of State to the Small Business Administration, were sent the memo March 3.

The U.S. Department of State and Small Business Administration were among the recipients of the March 3 memo from Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

While noting that Though the memo noted that coordination between departments on geospatial activities issues has improved, Johnson it added that said “much work remains to identify and optimize Federal government investments.”

Tester, Boeing Exec See GMD Differently

Boeing Co.’s top missile defense executive and the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester offered divergent assessments of the effectiveness of the missile shield the company is deploying to protect U.S. territory.

Boeing Co.’s top missile defense executive gave a ringing endorsement to the estimated effectiveness of the national missile shield the company is building for the Pentagon, despite a more measured prognosis on the previous day from the military’s senior weapons tester.

Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, told reporters on March 10 that he has “complete confidence” in the Ground Based Midcourse Defense System’s ability to shoot down an incoming ICBM.

However, David Duma, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, told the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee on March 9 that while he hoped that troops could use the interceptors that have been deployed in Alaska and California would be able to shoot down an incoming missile, testing to date “does not indicate that you can count on it.”

NATO to Seek Integrator For Missile Defense Efforts

NATO is likely will to issue a formal request for proposals in early May for an effort companies to integrate the various missile defense systems being developed or used by member nations, according to Mitch Kugler, director of strategic initiatives at Boeing Missile Defense Systems in Arlington, Va. //MY TWEAKS. CQ??–WF//yes–js/

Boeing is competing against Northrop Grumman Corp. and SAIC for the that contract, which is expected to be worth about 100 million euros ($120 million) and will likely will be awarded in September, Kugler said during a March 10 briefing for reporters.

Advanced EHF Terminal Has Milstar Compatibility

Recent tests demonstrated show that a mobile terminal designed by Raytheon Co. for use with the U.S. Air Force’s planned ‘s Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) communications satellites is compatible also can work with the existing Milstar satellites, the company said in a March 9 press release.

The new terminal, built under the U.S. Army’s Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal program, successfully acquired a Milstar satellite and used it to exchange data with a legacy Milstar terminal, Raytheon said. The Advanced EHF terminal was located at Raytheon’s facilities in Marlborough, Mass., and the legacy terminal was at Fort Monmouth, N.J. ///WERE SMART-T TERMINALS AT BOTH SITES??—WF///

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Skynet Hits Milestone In Advisory Services

//NEED TO SEE THIS ITEM AGAIN–WF/// Loral Skynet, a Bedminster, N.J., subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications, has marked its 10-year anniversary providing satellite advisory and control services to other satellite operators, including such companies as EchoStar Communications Corp., Sirius Satellite Radio and XTAR LLC, Loral Skynet announced March 8. ///LORAL SKYNET OPERATES ITS OWN SATELLITES. IF THIS IS SOME SORT OF SECONDARY LINE OF BUSINESS, WE NEED TO DRAW THAT DISTINCTION MORE CLEARLY–WF//I changed the lede to say “advisory and control services” -BA/

For 10 years, Loral Skynet, whose primary business is leasing transponders aboard its own satellites, has provide control services to EchoStar for theadvised in operations of the EchoStar 1 spacecraft, which delivers DISH Network satellite television to nearly 12 million customers in the United States. Loral Skynet The company also advised in operations of operates the EchoStar 2, 5, 6 and 8 satellites, as well as XTAR’s XTAR-EUR spacecraft, which provides X-band services for government customers. capacity to the United States.

For Sirius Satellite Radio, Skynet designed a satellite ground control network with operations at Sirius headquarters in New York, and in Panama and Ecuador.

Bigelow Aerospace To Use Kinesix Suite

Bigelow Aerospace will use Houston-based Kinesix Software’s new KX Edge Development Suite to establish dynamic graphical displays at Bigelow’s mission control center in Las Vegas for the company’s first test launch of an inflatable space module later this year, Kinesix announced March 6.

Bigelow Aerospace, the entrepreneurial space tourism firm founded by hotel tycoon Bob Bigelow, will use a new software suite developed by Houston-based Kinesex Software for dynamic graphical displays at its mission control center in Las Vegas, Kinesex announced March 6.

The KX Edge Development Suite software suite , to be officially released which formally will launch on the market in April, allows users companies to display real-time data across hundreds to even thousands of workstations using complex graphics. Bigelow is the first end user for the KX Edge Development Suite, Kinesex said in a press release.

Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas is planning to launch its the first prototype Earth-orbiting inflatable space habitation space module this year atop a Dnepr booster provided by under contract with ISC Kosmotras, a Russian and Ukrainian rocket-for-hire company. The module It will lift off into space in compact form, and deploy itself then once on orbit will deploy itself using inflatable technology to offer several hundred cubic meters of interior space for human habitat. Bigelow Aerospace plans ultimately to deploy a series of inflatable hotels in orbit.

NPOESS Circuits Clear Important Test Hurdle

Radiation-Hardened Chips

Pass Northrop Demand Tests

High-speed integrated Integrated circuits that have been adapted for to function in space and provide data speeds up to 100 times faster than circuits used in space today have passed a key series of tests on the road to qualification for use aboard the Northrop Grumman demand tests to be used on the next generation of U.S. polar-orbiting weather environmental satellites, Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., announced March 8.

The Fault Tolerant 1394 integrated circuits can handle have been radiation-hardened to enable serial and network spacecraft communications, handling data at speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, or about 100 times faster than integrated circuits used on satellites today. This speed should be sufficient to manage large amounts of data that will be generated by sensors on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and a precursor satellite called the NPOESS Preparatory Project, Northrop Grumman said in a press a risk-reduction mission, according to the release.

Testing of the circuits was performed on the NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite, which is being built by is located at prime contractor by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., which is building the NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite. ‘ Colorado facilities.

Northrop Grumman is the is the prime contractor for NPOESS.

UAL Flights To Offer XM Radio Music Stations

United Airlines (UAL) of Chicago ///LOCATION? CHICAGO??–WF/// will offer its begin offering passengers XM Satellite Radio music channels beginning in March under an agreement between the companies this month so passengers can listen to as many as 19 different music stations while in flight , UAL announced March 2.

XM spokesman David Butler said via e-mail that UAL passengers can listen to up to 19 different channels depending on the type of aircraft they are flying aboard. Butler would not disclose the length or terms of the agreement.

XM Satellite Radio of Washington offers commercial-free music and talk programming for over 6 million subscribers.

Com Dev To Supply More EHF Components

Com Dev International Ltd. of Cambridge, Ontario, will produce switch assemblies and beam-select subsystems for the U.S. Defense Department’s third Advanced Extremely High Frequency ( A EHF) satellite project under a follow-on contract worth approximately $5.7 million, Com Dev announced March 8.

The hardware order is expected to be completed and delivered to Advanced EHF payload builder prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., ///LOCKHEED MARTIN IS PRIME ON THIS PROGRAM. NORTHROP GRUMMAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PAYLOAD–wf//ok, ba/ by late the end of the 2007 fiscal year . Com Dev, which has worked on the Advanced EHF program since May 2002, will perform the work at its locations in Cambridge and in Aylesbury, England , locations .

Attack on U.S. Satellites Might Not Be Casus Belli

The U.S. government’s policy on how to react to an attack on one of its satellites remains unclear despite all the talk about defensive and offensive counterspace, space control and space superiority, according to the commander of joint space operations at the U.S. Strategic Command.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. William L. Shelton said that in war-game s exercises, U.S. policymakers have proved reluctant to strike back at a country that has disabled a U.S. military space asset in a way that does not capture the world’s attention.

“Those of us in the space forces of course have been very fired up” and ready to respond to such an attack in war simulations, Shelton said. That has been less true of the military and political hierarchy.

“Am I really going to start a war with Country X because they took out a satellite? The national command authority has always been very reluctant.”

Shelton said he is concerned not only about military space assets but about the security of commercial hardware as well. He said estimates are that in 2006, $209 billion will be spent globally on commercial space applications.

“If you think through history, things that have been commercial at that level have been challenged at some point in time,” Shelton said.

Shelton also heads the 14th Air Force, which is part of Air Force Space Command. ‘s Air Force Space Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., which is responsible for Air Force space forces. He said he is most worried about an eventual enemy ground-based laser attack on U.S. satellites using a ground-based laser, even though satellite jamming is the least-expensive option for disabling satellites today. U.S. use of space.

“The easiest is jamming,” Shelton said. “I cannot go into details, but we have seen some very unsophisticated folks engage in jamming with very simple devices — almost Radio Shack kind of stuff. But what worries me most is a ground-based laser attack. There are some estimates that say it is many years off. I’m not so sure.”

Until recently, the U.S. Defense Department was the only space power willing to talk openly about defending space assets. That is slowly changing, according to French air force Maj. Gen. Patrick de Rousiers, head of the Euro-Atlantic division of the French joint defense staff.

“The last time I counted, there were 34 nations that have or have said they want to have optical or radar satellites,” de Rousiers said. “So there will be a proliferation of satellites by 2020 among emerging countries, and we will need to know what potential adversaries can hear, see and say.”

In addition to using space for space surveillance, de Rousiers said European governments should begin “to think about defending our space assets. This is a relatively new idea [in Europe] and could not have been expressed publicly until recently.”

SSTL Faces Competition In Small Satellite Niche

Small satellite specialist Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) is counting on its ability to turn a profit at low cost to fend off a challenge from the much larger EADS Astrium, which has begun is targeting a market that was all but invented by SSTL.

SSTL Chief Executive Sir Martin Sweeting conceded that his company’s recent loss to EADS Astrium of a contract with the Algerian government for two small optical Earth observation satellites represents a direct challenge for his company. But he questioned whether a company the size of Astrium can profitably compete with SSTL over the long haul.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Sir Martin said. “I am not sure a large company can stay in this end of the market and make it a profitable business. A project here and there, OK — but over the longer term, I have my doubts.”

EADS Astrium officials say they are counting on developing a small satellite product line that will become profitable once sales have been made to it has been sold to several customers.

In 25 years of operations and after 26 small satellites launched for mainly government organizations custsomers , Guildford, England-based SSTL has become accustomed used to winning contests for satellites weighing of less than 200 kilograms for customers with limited budgets.

SSTL has even won orders even on EADS Astrium’s home turf of France, for two eavesdropping demonstrator satellites, Cerise and Clementine, launched respectively in 1995 and 1999 for the French Defense Ministry.

EADS Astrium has since reshaped its product line to include smaller satellites for Earth observation that, like the SSTL satellites, are is able to pack higher resolution and other capacity onto smaller satellite platforms with each year.

The Algerian government is a previous SSTL customer, having purchased the less-capable Alsat-1 satellite that was launched in 2002. For its new satellites, Algeria wanted higher-performance in the form of spacecraft with substantial on board data storage capacity and relatively high ground resolution.

The more recent competition was for higher-resolution satellites and represented for EADS Astrium a first-ever entry into this market sector size of spacecraft . EADS Astrium, prime contractor for the French government’s Spot Earth observation satellites, has developed a smaller product line and has scored successes in Thailand and Taiwan. But the Algerian contest was EADS Astrium’s first win for satellites that clearly fall in SSTL’s core market business .

But just as As EADS Astrium has been reaching moving downward on the satellite-size scale to market to harvest demand stimulated over the years by SSTL, SSTL has been moving up market to larger and higher-resolution spacecraft.

The British government’s Topsat satellite launched in 2005 has a 2.8-meter-resolution imager, and the Beijing-1 satellite, also launched in 2005, has a 4-meter imager. Topsat, which weighed 150 kilograms at launch, carried a price tag of was built for 15 million British pounds ($26.3 million) including launch.

The two companies’ new market positioning has set up what is I likely to be a regular competition in the coming years. EADS Astrium and SSTL have been the two most active companies on the global Earth observation satellite market.

The Algerian contract featured not just satellites, but a full system including ground facilities and training of Algerian personnel.

France The French government retains strong ties to its former colony, and both the French and British governments were active supporters of their respective bidders. British Prime Minister Tony Blair went so far as to endorse the SSTL bid in a letter to the Algerian government, according to Sir Martin and EADS Astrium officials.

But the promise of a longer-term cooperation by the French space agency, CNES, was something the SSTL bid could not match.

Earthquake Relief Team Finds Maps Hard to Get

NATO’s first attempt to deploy its rapid-response force — in a humanitarian -aid mission following the Pakistani earthquake in October 2005 — ran into logistical hurdles when the Pakistani government and a relief organization specializing in satellite imagery refused to provide detailed maps of the stricken area, according to a NATO official involved in the effort.

Maj. Soenke Fischhoefer of NATO’s Geospatial Branch in Belgium said the 26-nation organization’s NATO Response Force (NRF) struggled to plan its aid deployment because of a lack of up-to-date maps of the earthquake area, which is in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan.

The region is the subject of a longstanding border dispute between Islamabad and New Delhi. Upon On entering the area at the request of the Pakistani government last October, the NRF soon realized that the Pakistani authorities were the only ones in possession of 1:50,000-scale maps of the specific area in which the NATO team NRF was assigned to work.

Because of sensitivities regarding Kashmir, the NRF NATO force was denied access to the maps, Fischhoefer said.

Fischhoefer said NATO ordered its own new maps and subsequently made do with Dutch maps at a scale of 1:100,000 scale that were had been produced by the former Soviet Union.

NATO also ran into delays when it solicited satellite data via from the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters. Charter member nations agree to provide satellite imagery free of charge during disasters. But the organization’s bylaws apparently restrict recipients to nonmilitary organizations. That would exclude NATO, despite the fact that in this case NATO was working on an entirely humanitarian, nonmilitary assignment.

Fischhoefer said satellite imagery eventually was provided to NRF. When asked whether the problem had been resolved for the future, he said: “I hope so.” He said nongovernmental organizations performing relief work in the area also had have refused to give NATO access to their satellite maps.

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European Union Center Expecting Helios-2 Deal

The European Union Satellite Center expects to gain be granted access to imagery from France’s high-resolution Helios-2 optical satellite by late 2006 and will be pay ing “very favorable rates for it,” said center Director Frank Asbeck, the center’s director , said .

As was the case in the late 1990s with Helios-1, the satellite center — funded on an a la carte basis by individual European governments including France and its junior partners in Helios-2 — will be granted conditional access to Helios-2 imagery with an annual quantity limit on the number of images .

For Helios-1, the center was obliged to pay the equivalent of about $40,000 per image. Asbeck said the new formula that probably will take effect in late 2006 gives the center favorable Helios-2 purchase terms. He declined to specify the terms.

Helios-2 is a purely military satellite whose images are not otherwise sold.

The Torrejon, Spain, center, whose annual budget of 10.2 million euros ($12.28 4 million) includes about 1.8 million euros to purchase imagery, uses the buys satellite data to perform analyses of crisis situations, troop movements and other security-related events on behalf of the European Union Military Staff.

Asbeck said the center has also has received informal assurances from the Italian and German governments that it will have for access to those nations’ future radar satellite systems. Formal , and that formal negotiations would begin this year on the terms of that access, he said.

The European Union Satellite Center is fighting for survival in a European political context that might otherwise seem highly favorable to it. European governments have agreed to a long-term program called Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) whose goal includes much of what the satellite center already does.

But the often complex and overlapping responsibilities of different European governmental bodies has had the effect of leaving the satellite center outside of most discussions of GMES. The center’s Its funding mechanism — unanimous approval of European Union members nations does not help matters.

“The chain is only as strong as the weakest link and there are a couple of weak links in our chain, unfortunately,” Asbeck said. “So our development has been rather static.”

The center currently employs about 70 people full time, including some 22 trained imagery analysts. As radar imagery arrives in quantity from the German and Italian systems, new analysts likely will be needed, Asbeck said, speculating that to fulfill Europe’s announced ambitions in security-related observation, the center could do with at least 50 analysts.

Currently image analysis done in France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe is not shared with the satellite center. Asbeck said the center will never replace national imagery analysis means. But ultimately the center should be able to facilitate access to intelligence based on imagery produced by individual nations and made available to the center, he said.

Skynet Hits Milestone In Advisory Services

//NEED TO SEE THIS ITEM AGAIN–WF/// Loral Skynet, a Bedminster, N.J., subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications, has marked its 10-year anniversary providing satellite advisory and control services to other satellite operators, including such companies as EchoStar Communications Corp., Sirius Satellite Radio and XTAR LLC, Loral Skynet announced March 8. ///LORAL SKYNET OPERATES ITS OWN SATELLITES. IF THIS IS SOME SORT OF SECONDARY LINE OF BUSINESS, WE NEED TO DRAW THAT DISTINCTION MORE CLEARLY–WF//I changed the lede to say “advisory and control services” -BA/

For 10 years, Loral Skynet, whose primary business is leasing transponders aboard its own satellites, has provide control services to EchoStar for theadvised in operations of the EchoStar 1 spacecraft, which delivers DISH Network satellite television to nearly 12 million customers in the United States. Loral Skynet The company also advised in operations of operates the EchoStar 2, 5, 6 and 8 satellites, as well as XTAR’s XTAR-EUR spacecraft, which provides X-band services for government customers. capacity to the United States.

For Sirius Satellite Radio, Skynet designed a satellite ground control network with operations at Sirius headquarters in New York, and in Panama and Ecuador.

Bigelow Aerospace To Use Kinesix Suite

Bigelow Aerospace will use Houston-based Kinesix Software’s new KX Edge Development Suite to establish dynamic graphical displays at Bigelow’s mission control center in Las Vegas for the company’s first test launch of an inflatable space module later this year, Kinesix announced March 6.

Bigelow Aerospace, the entrepreneurial space tourism firm founded by hotel tycoon Bob Bigelow, will use a new software suite developed by Houston-based Kinesex Software for dynamic graphical displays at its mission control center in Las Vegas, Kinesex announced March 6.

The KX Edge Development Suite software suite , to be officially released which formally will launch on the market in April, allows users companies to display real-time data across hundreds to even thousands of workstations using complex graphics. Bigelow is the first end user for the KX Edge Development Suite, Kinesex said in a press release.

Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas is planning to launch its the first prototype Earth-orbiting inflatable space habitation space module this year atop a Dnepr booster provided by under contract with ISC Kosmotras, a Russian and Ukrainian rocket-for-hire company. The module It will lift off into space in compact form, and deploy itself then once on orbit will deploy itself using inflatable technology to offer several hundred cubic meters of interior space for human habitat. Bigelow Aerospace plans ultimately to deploy a series of inflatable hotels in orbit.

NPOESS Circuits Clear Important Test Hurdle

Radiation-Hardened Chips

Pass Northrop Demand Tests

High-speed integrated Integrated circuits that have been adapted for to function in space and provide data speeds up to 100 times faster than circuits used in space today have passed a key series of tests on the road to qualification for use aboard the Northrop Grumman demand tests to be used on the next generation of U.S. polar-orbiting weather environmental satellites, Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., announced March 8.

The Fault Tolerant 1394 integrated circuits can handle have been radiation-hardened to enable serial and network spacecraft communications, handling data at speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, or about 100 times faster than integrated circuits used on satellites today. This speed should be sufficient to manage large amounts of data that will be generated by sensors on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and a precursor satellite called the NPOESS Preparatory Project, Northrop Grumman said in a press a risk-reduction mission, according to the release.

Testing of the circuits was performed on the NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite, which is being built by is located at prime contractor by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., which is building the NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite. ‘ Colorado facilities.

Northrop Grumman is the is the prime contractor for NPOESS.

UAL Flights To Offer XM Radio Music Stations

United Airlines (UAL) of Chicago ///LOCATION? CHICAGO??–WF/// will offer its begin offering passengers XM Satellite Radio music channels beginning in March under an agreement between the companies this month so passengers can listen to as many as 19 different music stations while in flight , UAL announced March 2.

XM spokesman David Butler said via e-mail that UAL passengers can listen to up to 19 different channels depending on the type of aircraft they are flying aboard. Butler would not disclose the length or terms of the agreement.

XM Satellite Radio of Washington offers commercial-free music and talk programming for over 6 million subscribers.

Com Dev To Supply More EHF Components

Com Dev International Ltd. of Cambridge, Ontario, will produce switch assemblies and beam-select subsystems for the U.S. Defense Department’s third Advanced Extremely High Frequency ( A EHF) satellite project under a follow-on contract worth approximately $5.7 million, Com Dev announced March 8.

The hardware order is expected to be completed and delivered to Advanced EHF payload builder prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., ///LOCKHEED MARTIN IS PRIME ON THIS PROGRAM. NORTHROP GRUMMAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PAYLOAD–wf//ok, ba/ by late the end of the 2007 fiscal year . Com Dev, which has worked on the Advanced EHF program since May 2002, will perform the work at its locations in Cambridge and in Aylesbury, England , locations .

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AMC-23 Satellite Completes

Orbit Tests, Begins Service

 

AMC-23 Enters Service After On-Orbit Testing

SES Americom’s AMC-23 satellite, which was launched Dec. 29, 2005, has successfully completed on-orbit tests and has now is now in serving customers in the Pacific Ocean region from its entered service at its 172 degrees east orbital location to serve customers in across the Pacific Ocean region , the company announced March 2.

AMC-23 is a hybrid C- and Ku-band satellite built by Alcatel Alenia Space of France and Italy and based on the company’s Spacebus 4000 platform spacecraft . The Launched Dec. 29, 2005, the satellite’s Ku-band payload is being used by providing Connexion by Boeing ‘s to provide high-speed in-flight Internet service. The C-band payload also is serving various commercial and government customers, SES Americom of Princeton, N.J., said in a press according to the release. //MY CHANGES. CQ?/–WF/yes, BA/

The satellite can serve customers throughout the Pacific, including western North America, East Asia and the South Pacific.

NASA Supercomputer To

Be Used for Outside Research

NASA Supercomputer Time Alloted for Outside Research

Several researchers around the United States will have the opportunity to use one of the NASA’s supercomputers at NASA’s the Ames Research Center, in Moffett Field, Calif., to solve computationally intensive research problems under an agency new NASA program award , NASA the agency announced March 3.

NASA has allotted over 4.5 million hours of supercomputing time on Columbia, one of the world’s largest and most productive supercomputers, to multiple several research groups under its National Leadership Computing System initiative, the agency said in a for several research groups to use Columbia, one of the world’s largest and most productive supercomputers, according to the news release.

Four major research projects in particular will use these hours: the Cloud-Resolving Tropical Simulation for Studying Scale-Interactions and Hurricane Variability at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.; Modeling the Rheological Properties of Suspensions: Application to Cement Based Materials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md.; Interaction of Turbulence and Chemistry in Lean Premixed Combustion at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in San Francisco; and Massively Parallel Approach to the Nonlinear Response of a Mott Insulator at Georgetown University in Washington.

U.S.-German GRACE Mission Detects Antarctic Ice Loss

NASA’s GRACE Detects Big

Ice Mass Loss in Antarctic

Researchers using data from the NASA-German Aerospace Center ‘s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission have found that the mass of the Antarctic ice sheet has decreased significantly between April 2002 and August 2005 — enough to cause a 1.2-millimeter rise in global sea levels within the survey period , NASA announced March 2.

Researchers Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr of the University of Colorado at Boulder determined that found Antarctica’s ice sheet decreased by 152 cubic kilometers during in the survey periodwhich is about the same amount of water the United States consumes in three months — during the survey period, according to a NASA the news release. Overall, this decrease amounts to a 0.4-millimeter rise in global sea levels each year.

The Using the twin GRACE satellites , which detect track minute changes in Earth’s gravity field as a result of regional changes in planet mass distribution. The, the satellites enabled the researchers were able to measure variations in the Antarctic ice sheet and overcome surveying complexities brought on by the large size of the ice sheet.

“The GRACE mission is in unique in its ability to measure mass changes directly for entire ice sheets and can determine how Earth’s mass distribution changes over time,” Velicogna said in the release.

European Mapping Firm Buys Vexcel Camera System

Eurosense, one of Europe’s largest aerial mapping firms, has purchased an aerial mapping system from Vexcel Corp. of Boulder, Colo., that includes a high-resolution camera and a server for image archiving, cataloging and processing, Vexcel announced March 1.

The system includes the UltraMap server and the Vexcel UltraCam, a high-resolution panchromatic camera. No financial details were disclosed.

Jacobs Sverdrup To Support Operations at White Sands

Jacobs Sverdrup, an advanced-technology engineering services group based in Tullahoma, Tenn., will provide test and evaluation support at NASA’s Johnson Space Center White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M., under a three-year contract worth $162.5 million, NASA announced March 1. //GOOD LEDE. THIS IS THE WAY TO DO CONTRACTS–WF//

The contract also includes two one-year-extension options that, if exercised, would bring its the contract value up to approximately $271 million.

Jacobs will provide support services for propulsion, materials and component testing, and other operations beginning May 1.

//DID THE ANNOUNCEMENT PROVIDE MORE DETAILS, SUCH AS WHICH FLIGHT ROUTES THE SERVICE WILL BE OFFERED ON FIRST? ALSO, LET’S NOTE THAT THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT WERE NOT DISCLOSED, UNLESS YOU FIND OUT OTHERWISE–WF//I have a call out on this item. They gave little detail about the agreement, but we’ll see if the XM spokesman has any more to add -BA/

Raytheon Co. Delivers STSS Payload to Northrop

Raytheon Co. has delivered the first Block 06 sensor payload for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites to prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., Raytheon announced March 6.

The Block 06 payload consists of an infrared sensor suite that will be integrated into the STSS satellites to help detect and track long-range missiles threats in the midcourse portion of flight. The two STSS Block 06 satellites are slated to launch in 2007 ///WHEN//according to a June 2005 article by Jeremy, BA/ for a series of missile-tracking demonstrations.

The STSS mission consists of two experimental satellites that will be launched for a demonstration will be made up of low-orbit satellites with ground-based stations to support a national missile defense system.

Northrop Grumman awarded Raytheon of Waltham, Mass., a contract worth approximately $200 million for the STSS sensor payloads in 2002. Northr u op Grumman is refurbishing the two satellites for the mission under a Missile Defense Agency contract originally valued at $868 million.

As prime contractor, Northrop Grumman received an $868 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency.

Japanese Space Tourist Begins Cosmonaut Training

Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto has received medical approval from the Russian Federal Space Agency to begin cosmonaut training for his scheduled September 2006 ride to the international space station aboard a Soyuz TMA-9 capsule rocket , Space Adventures, which brokers space tourist flights arranges the launches of private explorers into space , announced March 6.

The first phase of Enomoto’s training includes cosmonaut theoretical and physical training as well as Russian language tutoring. He is Japan’s first private citizen space explorer heading for the space station.

Space Adventures of Arlington, Va., has launched helped arranged space station visits by three private citizens explorers into space : Californian Dennis Tito in 2001, South African Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, and Gregory Olsen of New Jersey in 2005.

Low-Cost Globalstar Service Intended for Emergencies

Globalstar LLC, which provides mobile voice and data communications via satellite, has launched a new low-cost service that is intended for use in the United States during emergencies, the Milpitas, Calif.-based company announced March 2.

The Globalstar Emergency Plan will be priced below $30 a month and is aimed at government organizations, businesses and private citizens concerned about emergency preparedness, the company said in a news release.

“The past two years we’ve seen devastating hurricanes hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and many individuals and business owners have requested that we introduce an emergency rate plan that does not include a monthly airtime bundle or the associated monthly cost for those minutes,” Dennis Allen, Globalstar’s senior vice president for U.S. sales and marketing, said in the news release. ” … Now these customers can be prepared in the event the standard terrestrial lines of communication are significantly damaged or destroyed.”

New Forecast Model Could Aid Solar Storm Preparation

//BRAD, I TWEAKED THE HEAD BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE FORECASTING MODEL IS NEW. PLS REDO IF THE MODEL IS NOT NEW–WF//

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., predict the next sunspot cycle will be 30 to 50 percent stronger than the previous one using a computer model of solar dynamics as a forecasting tool, the center announced March 6.

The prediction was made using a newly developed///NEWLY DEVELOPED??–WF//yes, BA/ computer model of solar dynamics that This model could greatly help groups prepare for solar storms, which originate near sunspots and can disrupt communications and power systems or alter the orbits of satellites.

Using computer simulations and observations of the Sun’s interior taken by the with NASA-European Space Agency ‘s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, these scientists predict the next sunspot cycle (Cycle 24) will begin in late 2007 or early 2008, and will likely reach its peak around 2012. The research was funded by NASA’s Living With a Star program and the National Science Foundation.

In a series of test runs, the Predictive Flux-transport Dynamo Model predicted simulated the strength of the past eight solar cycles with more than 98-percent accuracy. These forecasts are can be generated in part by tracking the subsurface movements of the sunspot remnants of the previous two solar cycles.

Solar storm activity ebbs and flows on The Sun goes through approximately 11-year cycles , from peak storm activity, to quiet and back again . A current of plasma that circulates between the Sun’s equator and its poles over a period of 17-22 years acts as a conveyor belt for these sunspots, which are centers of solar activity. ///MY CHANGES. CQ??–WF//yes, BA/

Solar storms originate near sunspots and occur when twisted magnetic fields in the Sun suddenly snap and release a tremendous amount of energy, bombarding the Earth with charged particles that which can greatly affect sensitive electronics including terrestrial power grids and satellites operations in Earth orbit.

The complete Cycle 24 forecast appears in the March 2006 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

Orbital Buys L-3 System To Control Thor-2R Satellite

L-3 Telemetry-West, a division of New York-based L-3 Communications, will provide its InControl-NG satellite command and control ground system for the Thor-2R telecommunications satellite under a contract with satellite builder Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., L-3 announced March 6.

The Thor-2R satellite , owned by Telenor Satellite Broadcasting of Norway, is will be based on Orbital’s Star STAR satellite platform and will provide Ku-band telecommunications and direct-to-home television broadcasting services from Telenor’s 1 degree west longitude orbital location. It is slated for launch in late 2007.

Vivian Shelton, a spokeswoman for L-3, said the company was not releasing financial details about the contract.