Ball Aerospace To Build Standardized Satellite

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. will develop a common satellite platform to host Pentagon experiments under contract with the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center that has a base value of $26 million.

The first Space Test Program-Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV) is scheduled to host an experimental sensor and launch in 2009.

Ball Aerospace’s contract includes one firm platform and options for another five, according to a March 31 company press release. Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace will build the STP-SIV platform with teammates AeroAstro Inc. of Ashburn, Va., and Broad Reach Engineering of Tempe, Ariz.

The Space Test Program, managed by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Detachment 12 at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, finds rides to space for experiments that have been given priority by a Defense Department-wide group called the Space Experiments Review Board. The goal of the STP-SIV program is to create more-flexible, lower-cost small satellites, enabling the Space Test Program to fly more payloads.

Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Griffith, director of the Space Test Program, said April 4 that the Defense Department intends to use the first STP-SIV bus for the Space Phenomenology Experiment, a mission to test an experimental sensor. Griffith said launch is targeted for 2009.

The STP-SIV platform will be designed to launch aboard virtually any rocket. Air Force officials said the first mission likely would launch on Space Exploration Technologies’ $6.7 million Falcon 1 rocket or share a ride with another payload on a different U.S. vehicle.

U.S. Missile Shield Almost Ready, Boeing Exec Says

U.S. national missile defense interceptors installed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., likely will be placed on alert in the near future, according to Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, prime contractor for the missile shield.

The Pentagon had expected to declare the Ground Based Midcourse Defense System operational by the end of 2004, but that schedule unraveled after consecutive test failures in December of that year and February of 2005. No new timetable for placing the system on alert has been announced.

Speaking with reporters during an April 4 breakfast at the National Space Symposium, Shanahan expressed frustration that flight testing slowed in the wake of the failures, in which the interceptors failed to lift off. But he said increased rigor adopted since then has paid off with a successful booster flight test in December, and a demonstration in February where an upgraded radar sensor at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., tracked a target missile.

Meanwhile, Boeing is hoping the Missile Defense Agency will begin funding development work on space-based interceptors in 2008, Shanahan said. The company is studying space-based lasers and hit-to-kill systems, but has not made any formal proposals to the agency, he said.

Boeing was a member of an industry team designing the Space Based Laser Integrated Flight Experiment, which was canceled in 2002.

Entrepreneurial Space Is Subject of Stanford Study

The Stanford School of Business is conducting a business-case analysis of the emerging entrepreneurial space industry. A report will be released in September at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2006 conference in San Jose, Calif.

G. Scott Hubbard, a Stanford visiting scholar and former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, Calif., is serving as an advisor to the project. Hubbard said seven MBA students have volunteered to conduct the analysis in exchange for academic credit. Hubbard said the analysis, which he believes to be the first of its kind, will look at entrepreneurial space efforts from three broad perspectives: access, platforms and demand.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView 1 Delayed by Integration Woes

Commercial satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo., will be at least six months late in completing construction of its next-generation WorldView 1 satellite, the company confirmed April 5 , a problem that could cost them future government sales.

DigitalGlobe is teamed with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., and ITT Industries of White Plains, N.Y., to produce the satellite under the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) NextView program. Ball is providing the satellite and integration while ITT is building the imaging payload.

WorldView 1 is being designed to take pictures sharp enough to distinguish objects as small as half a meter across, and is being financed largely by the $500 million data contract with NGA. Under the terms of the NextView contract, the satellite was expected to be completed in 2006, NGA said, but the company is now projecting mid-2007 as the completion date.

Chuck Herring, spokesman for DigitalGlobe, would not specify the reason for the delay, saying only that a problem was found during integration and testing and has since been fixed.

But Sue Meisner, spokeswoman for NGA, said the delay was due to problems with integrating the sensor subsystem on the satellite, and that DigitalGlobe had characterized it as an “industry-wide problem.” NGA was informed of the delay in February 2006, she said.

DigitalGlobe does not have a new completion date more specific than mid-2007. Herring said the company probably would not announce an exact delivery date until early next year.

Herring said NGA has “signed off” on the new schedule. Meisner said that NGA and DigitalGlobe are “still negotiating the full impact of the slip” contractually.

“However, it’s an imagery purchase contract, and the company is potentially at risk to lose the opportunity for future sales based on how they’ve done on this one,” Meisner said.

The delay has implications because the NGA will be forced to rely exclusively on existing satellites for commercial imagery for longer than expected.

“The current satellites we have now we expect will still provide imagery for the next several years, so that is something to tide us over,” Meisner said. “But we are looking into that subject with the satellite operators.”

Despite the problems, Meisner said the NGA still has faith in the commercial imagery industry.

“It’s a valuable resource to us, and will be in the future,” she said.

BAE and Surrey Partner To Sell Small Sats in the U.S.

BAE Systems and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. have signed an agreement to cooperate on the development of small satellites, officials from both companies said during a joint interview April 6 at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

While the initial focus of that work will be on spacecraft for the U.S. government market, the companies may work together in the future on satellites for the United Kingdom, according to Marshal Ward, vice president and general manager for space systems and electronics at BAE Information and Electronic Warfare Systems.

BAE will serve as the prime contractor in pursuit of U.S. government work, but Ward said the arrangement is a close partnership that will involve Surrey in projects from the beginning of design work .

Martin Sweeting, Surrey Satellite’s chief executive officer , said the partnership would marry Surrey’s satellite platform, or bus, technology with the payloads developed by BAE, and help Surrey’s products gain entry into the U.S. market.

Ward, a retired U.S. Air Force major general, said the companies are interested in the Pentagon’s effort to field inexpensive small satellites that can be launched on short notice, but he declined to talk about specific contracts that the companies may pursue due to competition sensitivity.

Sen. Roberts Wants Second ABL Aircraft Before 2018

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan. ) hinted that he will push for additional funding so that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) could begin work on a second aircraft equipped with an Airborne Laser (ABL).

At a hearing of the Senate’s Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee April 4, Roberts said he was “very concerned” about delayed funding for a second aircraft, which is a Boeing 747 equipped with a high-power chemical laser designed to destroy ballistic missiles in their boost phase. Roberts said that he was worried that not allotting funding for a second aircraft could delay its production until as late as 2018.

“It’s very disconcerting to me if we would have a 10-year delay,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what we would do with the highly skilled engineers we have working on the first plane.”

Chris Arnold, military legislative assistant to Roberts, said in a phone interview April 7 that 2006 estimates had put launch of the second aircraft at around 2012, but that the funding schedule outlined in the 2007 budget request would push that date out to around 2018 .

During the hearing, Roberts asked Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering, director of the MDA,”Would you be pleased if we allot additional funds for a second ABL aircraft?”

“I will never turn down offers for additional funds,” Obering responded.

Obering said that MDA is making “steady progress” meeting the schedule milestones put in place for the ABL in 2006, but that software integration challenges associated with the aircraft remain.

Confrontational Dordain French TV Interview a Hoax

A confrontational French television interview with European Space Agency (ESA) Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain that achieved wide circulation on the Internet in March is a hoax, according to ESA.

The interview, said to have occurred following a March 2 press conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida by heads of space agencies taking part in the international space station, never took place , ESA spokesman Franco Bonacina said.

In the interview, which was summarized by several Web sites and in space-oriented Internet chat rooms, Dordain is portrayed as reacting strongly to leading questions by a journalist clearly antagonistic to the space station. Dordain defends ESA’s role in the project.

The journalist is alleged to have been from France 2, a government-owned television network. Bonacina said April 6 that no such interview ever occurred and that France 2 has confirmed it had no journalist attending the space station press briefing.

Bonacina said ESA has informed at least one Web site that the interview is a fake but otherwise has taken no further action, hoping the incident eventually would be forgotten.

ViaSat Inc. Nabs Contract For MSV Ground Hardware

ViaSat Inc. won a $57 million contract from Boeing Satellite Systems International to provide ground-based hardware that will form spot beams to connect with the mobile-broadband satellites Boeing is building for Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV), Viasat announced. The contract includes options that could add $15 million to its value.

The ViaSat hardware, to include signal-calibration stations, will create spot beams to permit hand-held telephones and other mobile devices to communicate with MSV’s satellites with small antennas. MSV has said the telephones will resemble today’s cellular handsets. The satellite system will be complemented by a network of ground-based signal boosters called Ancillary Terrestrial Components, or ATCs, to permit indoor use. MSV has scheduled the launch of its first satellite in late 2009 and is seeking partners to finance its ATC network.

Orbital Express Experiment Set To Launch in October

The Pentagon’s Orbital Express mission, a two-satellite experiment to demonstrate techniques for in-orbit refueling and repair, now is scheduled for launch in mid-October after several delays due to technical problems, funding slowdowns and changes ordered in response to glitches on a previous docking experiment in orbit.

In an interview during the National Space Symposium, George Muellner, vice president of advanced programs for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, said the Orbital Express program picked up steam in the last year, partly on the strength of an endorsement by reitred Air Force Gen. Lance Lord , who at the time was commander of Air Force Space Command .

Muellner said funding for Orbital Express , sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has ebbed and flowed over the last several years as the program was stretched out to save money in individual budget years. But the funding stabilized enough in the last year to get the project through final review.

Muellner said the Orbital Express designers also looked closely at the problems with NASA’s Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) mission in April 2005. That mission went awry when DART inadvertently bumped into its rendezvous-partner spacecraft. Muellner said Boeing reviewed the incident and revisited the proximity-operations part of the mission.

Orbital Express includes the Astro spacecraft built by Boeing and the NextSat spacecraft built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which will rendezvous and dock.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Fred Kennedy, program manager for the Orbital Express experiment at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, said March 28 that Boeing appears to have straightened out the technical problems that nearly led to the program’s cancellation in the past. Kennedy said he did not foresee any obstacles to launching the experiment in October.

Review Prompts NPOESS Requirements Questions

The U.S. National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is about two-thirds of the way through its mandatory Nunn-McCurdy cost-growth review, and questions are being raised about whether its requirements should be pared back.

“We are at the point where alternative program structures have been put together,” Charles Baker, chief financial officer of the satellite division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) , told a panel here April 4 at the 22nd National Space Symposium.

“Some of the numbers are looking high, and people are going back and sharpening their pencils,” Baker said. “If we lower the requirements then the costs will go down.”

He made the case to industry representatives in the audience that they could help NOAA cope with pressure from on high. NOAA satellite managers, he said, were “getting a lot of heat not only from our departmental bosses [at the Department of Commerce] but also from that part of the [White House ] Office of Management and Budget that oversees us, so we need your help.” He said NOAA remained willing to do cost-plus type contracts, which contractors prefer for large, complex programs that produce only one or two products, but added: “However, we’ve got to see better performance out of the satellite industry as we go forward.”

The civil-military NPOESS system is being procured and managed jointly by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force.

Space Officials Grapple With Risk-Reward Balance

Aerospace officials in industry and government are still struggling to determine the right balance between pushing new technology that will keep the United States the leader in space and making sure that new satellite systems are not so risky that they fail to deliver once they reach orbit.

That much was clear during the April 4 panel discussion , “Research and Development Trades — Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary,” held during the Space Foundation’s 22nd National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“We were highly risk oriented. We looked for high payoff as we built this industry. It became more complacent so that today we are facing the other end of the spectrum, one that is very established and tries to eke out a little more capability,” said Pete Rustan, director of advanced systems and technology at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). “Keep looking for more revolutionary capabilities.”

Rustan’s plea was directed to both government and industry. He noted that the Defense Department and the NRO are “very risk averse” because they are so concerned about the potential for failure during the pursuit of advanced capabilities. In the end, those who pursue revolutionary improvements “will see great benefit from it,” Rustan argued.

Steve Nixon, deputy associate director for science and technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the intelligence and military communities “are in the midst of radical technological change today. In our everyday lives we are used to it, but in national security we struggle with it.”

He quoted National Security Agency estimates that the Internet will generate 647 petabytes (647 quadrillion bytes) of data each day in 2007. “This,” he noted, “has enormous implications in the intelligence world.”

Others on the panel favored the more-conservative approach for now. William Ballhaus, president of BAE Systems National Security Solutions, insisted that, “given our economic constraints we have to find the balance between” technology evolution and revolution. Industry and government have the chance “to shift that curve” between risk and innovation.

“Don’t just focus on space systems but focus on the user,” Ballhaus said. One of the answers might lie, he said, with greater emphasis on what ground systems can do, as opposed to space systems. Among the approaches that can be useful, he said, are integrating databases and using Web -based services to get the data to the user.

“This enables us to shift the curve in three ways,” he said. First, existing assets are used to improve performance. Second, commercial technologies result in cost efficiencies. “Third, as we move toward more integrated ground enterprises, that really does allow us to make investments in new space assets.”

Air Force Maj. Gen. Ted Bowlds, commander of the Air Force Research Lab, said he was “going to talk about money because in the end it is always about the money.” He noted that the lab will spend some $340 million on space-related projects next year.

He called on industry to stress the importance of research lab support in the early stages of a program when they go to senior Air Force leaders seeking long-term funding for a program . It could help funnel more money to the lab in the long run and bolster innovation.

Zero-G To Use Kennedy For Weightless Flights

Zero Gravity Corp. (Zero-G) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will use NASA’s space shuttle runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to conduct parabolic flights that allow paying passengers to experience periods of weightlessness, NASA announced April 4.

Under a Space Act Agreement, Zero-G will be able to conduct as many as seven flights a week at Kennedy while reimbursing NASA for support and runway maintenance costs. The agreement is the result of a successful pilot program between NASA and Zero-G back in November to use the space shuttle runway for non-NASA activities.

Zero-G’s G-Force One, a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, flies in a roller coaster-like pattern that gives passengers periods of weightlessness and reduced-gravity conditions.

G-Force One’s first commercial flight will take place June 24 from Kennedy’s near 4,600-meter runway. Under the agreement, Zero-G will be able to conduct as many as 280 weightless flights a year.

ATK Solid Motor Unit Renamed for New Role

ATK Thiokol has been renamed ATK Launch Systems Group to reflect its transition from a rocket-motor supplier to a provider of more-integrated launch hardware, the company announced April 3.

“Our ability to provide a systems approach to programs is in sync with many of our customers who increasingly want an integrated solution to their needs,” Ron Dittemore, president of ATK Launch Systems, said in the news release.

ATK Launch Systems has a contract to develop the first stage of NASA’s planned Crew Launch Vehicle, which will be based on the solid rocket motors the company has provided to the space shuttle program for years. ATK will develop a five-segment version of the motor for the Crew Launch Vehicle, which will loft NASA’s Crew Exploration Vehicle starting around 2014.

Other programs under the ATK Launch Systems umbrella will include solid rocket motors for other launch vehicles and sounding rockets as well as for missile defense interceptors, the company said.

ATK Launch Systems will have annual sales exceeding $900 million, with over 4,300 employees at its Utah facilities in Promontory, Magna and Clearfield, according to the press release.

Honeywell Units Sent To Alaska Aerospace

Honeywell of Morristown, N.J., has completed and delivered two mobile telemetry systems to the Alaska Aerospace Development Corp. to receive, process, distribute and archive instrument data from launch vehicles and payloads, according to a March 31 Honeywell news release.

The telemetry systems, which are based on a 24-channel design and powered by their own 40-kilowatt generators, receive signals from up to four S-band antennas to accommodate multiple data streams that are delivered to external data monitors.

The first integrated telemetry system is slated to debut by mid-2006 on a launch from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, which Alaska Aerospace owns and operates. Financial details on the contract for the telemetry systems were not disclosed.

HDNet To Air Shuttle Launches in HDTV

HDNet, a high-definition television network, will broadcast NASA space shuttle launches through 2010 under an agreement with the U.S. space agency, NASA announced March 29. HDNet also will provide a standard broadcast signal of the launches for use by mainstream media networks and NASA TV.

XM Radio Surpasses 6.5 Million Subscribers

XM Satellite Radio of Washington added over 568,000 subscribers during the first quarter of 2006, bringing its total number of customers to more than 6.5 million, the company announced April 3. XM said it currently is on track to reach its goal of 9 million subscribers by the end of 2006.

France Telecom Signs Connexion Marine Deal

France Telecom Mobile Satellite Communications of Cedex, France, will be the first sales associate to offer Connexion by Boeing maritime services, according to an April 5 Boeing press release.

Connexion by Boeing, a business unit of Boeing Co. of Chicago, provides in-flight Internet services via satellite to airline passengers. The company is expanding into maritime services, providing broadband connectivity to vessels at uplink speeds of up to 256 kilobytes per second and downlink speeds of up to 5 megabytes per second, according to the release.

The service will be offered by France Telecom immediately, the release said.

T-Sat Prototype Payload Successfully Tested

The Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman team competing to build the space segment of the U.S. Air Force’s Transformational Satellite (T-Sat) communications system has demonstrated prototype payload hardware that meets new U.S. government standards for laser communications interoperability, Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., said in a March 31 press release.

During the initial phase of testing, which ran from early November to mid-December of 2005, the prototype high-data-rate payload hardware was able to acquire and track a government-supplied laser communications system, the company said. The test was carried out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington.

The prototype hardware used mechanized mirrors to track the government-supplied system despite simulated spacecraft jitter, Northrop Grumman said. The second phase of testing is under way and is slated to wrap up by February 2007, Northrop Grumman said.

The T-Sat satellites will use laser crosslinks and Internet Protocol technology to dramatically increase the amount of bandwidth available to U.S. forces starting sometime next decade.

“Successfully completing this test on schedule represents an important milestone in retiring risk for [laser communications] technology that will be deployed in operational systems,” Stuart Linsky, vice president of satellite communications at Northrop Grumman, said in the release.

Northrop Grumman is the payload supplier as part of the T-Sat competitive team led by Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif. The team is competing against one led by Boeing Co. of Chicago.

New Horizons Instruments Pass Functionality Checks

T he mission team for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, launched Jan. 19 to explore Pluto, its moons and the Kuiper Belt beginning in July 2015, have successfully conducted in-flight functionality checks of the majority of the probe’s science instruments , according to a March 29 press release from the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., which manages the mission.

The team has successfully tested six of seven science instruments: Ralph, which will provide high-resolution color maps of Pluto’s surface; Alice, an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer; LORRI, or Long Range Reconnaissance Imager; SWAP, a solar-wind analyzer; PEPSSI, which will analyze plasma; and the Student Dust Counter. The instruments booted up correctly and were able to receive commands and send telemetry back to Earth.

The seventh instrument, a radio science experiment called REX, is incorporated into the electronics of the spacecraft’s communications system, and will be tested along with that system in mid-April, according to the release.

Alliance Spacesystems, Vision Composites Merge

Space robotics specialists Alliance Spacesystems Inc. (ASI) of Pasadena, Calif., and Vision Composites Inc. of Signal Hill, Calif., have signed an agreement to merge, ASI said in a March 29 press release.

The deal involves no exchange of funds, and the combined company will be known as ASI, according to Rene Fradet, ASI’s chief executive officer. Fradet will head the new company, while Vision Composites Chief Executive Ted Cheng will be vice president for space structures, Fradet said.

ASI, primarily an engineering firm, and Vision Composites, which focuses on manufacturing, have worked together on projects for NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman Corp. of Los Angeles, Boeing Co. of Chicago and Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Littleton, Colo.

There will be little consolidation of jobs , and each company’s facility will remain operational following the merger, which is expected to close July 1, Fradet said in an interview.

Northrop Grumman Corp. Begins ICBM Upgrades

Northrop Grumman has begun the full-rate production phase of a $500 million, six-year program to upgrade the U.S. Defense Department’s Minuteman 3 ICBM fleet with new re-entry vehicles , the Los Angeles-based company announced March 31.

The company was cleared to install Mark 21 re-entry vehicles on 500 Minuteman 3s after the third successful flight test of a modified ICBM Feb. 16. All of the Minuteman missiles are slated to be upgraded by 2011, according to the release.

Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. of Chicago are teammates on the project. Lockheed Martin developed electronic and mechanical hardware for the re-entry vehicle to interface with the Minuteman 3 missile, and Boeing modified flight software and replaced the guidance system.

Swales Delivers 2nd Bus For Themis Constellation

Swales Aerospace has delivered the second of five satellite platforms for NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions (Themis ) constellation, which will study the Earth’s magnetosphere, Swales announced in an April 3 press release.

Swales of Beltsville, Md., is prime contractor for the mission’s microsatellite platforms, or buses. The platforms are being delivered to Themis principal investigators at the University of California, Berkley, for science-payload integration.

Each of the five satellites will carry a suite of electric, magnetic and particle instruments to study magnetospheric instability — particularly the release of solar wind energy. The mission is slated to be launched in October 2006, according to the Themis mission Web site.

JSC Contracts with Al-Razaq For Management Services

Al-Razaq Computing Services in Houston will support financial and resources management at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), also in Houston, under a contract worth up to $24.5 million, NASA announced March 31.

The contract has a three-year base period and two, one-year extension options. Al-Razaq will specifically support JSC’s Resources Management Office and its Procurement and Financial Management division, providing cost estimates and analysis, budget development, database maintenance and other contract close-out duties.

Boeing Wins More Work Under Wideband Gapfiller

Boeing Satellite Systems of Los Angeles will provide ground-segment equipment along with the two configuration-control elements for the U.S. Air Force’s Wideband Gapfiller satellites under a contract modification worth approximately $7.8 million, the Air Force announced March 31.

Boeing’s initial contract called for two configuration-control elements, two sets of spares and on-site equipment training.

The configuration-control elements manage the payloads on the Gapfiller satellites.

Both sets of configuration-control equipment are set for delivery no later than Dec. 31, 2007. All work on the contract is scheduled to be complete by December 2010.

Boeing is prime contractor on the Wideband Gapfiller communications satellites.

Space Adventures Books Another Citizen Explorer

Space Adventures, the Vienna, Va.-based company that arranges spaceflights to the international space station for private citizens , has announced that International Software founder Charles Simonyi has signed on as a future passenger, the company stated in an April 3 news release.

Simonyi already has completed preliminary training and medical examinations as part of the program’s qualification testing. More details including his flight date and mission objectives will be released in the coming months, according to the news release.

“My immediate goal for the flight would be to study Russian and American engineering approaches and to learn from the experience,” Simonyi said in the release.

Space Adventures has arranged flights to the space station aboard Russian Soyuz vehicles for Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth and Greg Olsen. Daisuke Enomoto is currently undergoing training at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin cosmonaut Training Center for his scheduled September 2006 flight to the space station.

Shin Satellite Debuts New IPSTAR Satellite Modem

Shin Satellite Plc. of Thailand has debuted a new satellite broadband modem that the company said is suited for heavy network activity and reliable connectivity in areas of the Asia Pacific region where power supplies are not always stable , according to an April 4 news release.

The Enterprise Series IPX-9200 modem offers download speeds of 4 megabits per second and upload speeds of 2 megabits per second. The modem is compatible with a network of PCs as well as other network equipment, and can be used in corporate environments or for continuous and autonomous operations, according to the release.

The modem provides extra surge-protection circuits to compensate for power fluctuations in areas where the power supply is not reliably stable .

Shin Satellite delivers broadband via its iPSTAR/Thaicom-4 satellite, which covers 14 countries in the Asia Pacific. The satellite was built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., and launched in August 2005.

University of Alaska To Maintain Poker Flat Range

The University of Alaska Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks will provide launch range maintenance and mission support at NASA’s Poker Flat Research Range in Chatanika, Alaska, under a five-year contract worth approximately $13.7 million, NASA announced March 31.

The contract was awarded by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, which oversees the agency’s sounding rocket programs.