Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 15 May 2006
10:42 am ET


NASA, ATK Test Reusable Shuttle Rocket Motor

NASA and ATK Launch Systems successfully test fired April 28 a full-scale reusable solid-rocket motor used to loft the U.S. agency’s space shuttle into orbit, with preliminary data indicating all 62 test objectives were met, NASA announced the day of the static firing.

The flight-support motor, FSM-12, burned for nearly 123 seconds — the same amount of time a reusable solid rocket burns during a space shuttle launch. The test was performed by ATK Launch Systems, the manufacturer of the shuttle’s solid-rocket motor, at its test facility in Promontory, Utah.

“Full-scale static testing continues to be a key element of our ‘test before you fly’ standard that we apply to our processes, material, hardware and design changes,” Jody Singer, manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said in the release. “Testing such as this is important to ensure continued quality and performance.”

During actual liftoff, two reusable solid-rocket motors are required to launch the 2 million-kilogram shuttle, with each engine providing an average 2.6 million pounds of thrust for the first two minutes of flight. The solid-propellant rockets loft the shuttle to an altitude of 45 kilometers. At that point they separate from the orbiter and fall into the ocean to be retrieved and refurbished.

Starsys Delivers Gear for DARPA’s Orbital Express Demonstration

Starsys Inc. has delivered two major subsystems for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Orbital Express on-orbit servicing demonstration to prime contractor Boeing Integrated Defense Systems of St. Louis.

The subsystems are the Spacecraft-to-Spacecraft Separation System and the Orbital Express Capture system, according to a May 1 press release from Starsys parent company SpaceDev of Poway, Calif.

The Orbital Express program is designed to examine the feasibility of using robotic systems to refuel and reconfigure satellites while in orbit. It is scheduled for launch in October 2006, according to the release. The Starsys hardware will aid with separation of the two Orbital Express spacecraft after launch and with capturing and docking of the spacecraft before servicing.

Iridium Offering Package Aimed at First Responders

As hurricane season approaches, Iridium Satellite LLC of Bethesda, Md. is offering a deployable emergency communications package for government first responders.

The package is for voice and data communications and can be used for asset tracking, directing equipment supplies, and other needs, according to a May 1 Iridium press release. It can include items such as satellite phones, voice and data transceivers, solar charges, docking stations and other tools, the release said.

Iridium spokeswoman Liz DeCastro said that first responders can customize their own personal combination of hardware and services to meet their individual needs. They also can rely on Iridium’s partners for interoperability platforms so they can use Iridium phones to communicate with their existing radios or even with other satellite or mobile phones.

“Interoperability is no longer an issue,” DeCastro said.

Vietnam Telecom to Offer IPSTAR-Based Services

Vietnam Telecom International (VTI), a subsidiary of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications, will offer VSAT-IP broadband services in Vietnam using Shin Satellite’s iPSTAR satellite, according to a joint press release issued by the companies April 28.

Hanoi-based VTI’s VSAT-IP service is designed to provide broadband services to rural parts of the country. Shin Satellite of Thailand began serving the Asia-Pacific region using its iPSTAR satellite in early 2005.

VTI also will provide iPSTAR-based trunking services to two Vietnamese mobile service providers — Vinaphone and Mobifone — to allow them to extend their networks without additional roll-out costs, the press release said.

Raytheon and ATK Test Standard Missile-3 Motor

Raytheon Co. and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) have verified the design of the new Block 1A third-stage motor for the Standard Missile-3 in a test that simulated the vacuum of spaceflight, according to an April 25 news release from Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon.

The April 24 verification test took place in a high-altitude chamber at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. It was the second demonstration of the Block 1A design, which updates minor obsolete technology in the Standard Missile-3’s Block 1 third-stage .

The motor boosts the Standard-Missile 3’s kinetic kill vehicle out of the atmosphere and toward to its target. The Standard Missile-3 is a component of the sea-based missile defense system under development by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Raytheon is the prime contractor on the Standard Missile-3, while ATK of Edina, Minn., builds the Block 1A third-stage motor.

NASA Names Members of Expedition 14 Station Crew

NASA announced May 2 the three me mbers of the crew that will occupy the international space station (ISS) beginning this autumn: NASA astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria and Sunita Williams, and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin.

Lopez-Alegria will command the Expedition 14 crew and serve as NASA station science officer during his six-month stint aboard the ISS. Tyurin will serve as flight engineer and Soyuz commander. Williams is scheduled to join the Expedition 14 crew as a flight engineer after traveling to the station aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor on the STS-116 mission, according to the NASA news release. No launch date has been scheduled for STS-116, which is in the launch queue behind STS-121 — scheduled for no earlier than July 1 — and the STS-115 mission, also with an undetermined launch date.

Lopez-Alegria was selected as an astronaut in 1992 and flew his first shuttle mission, STS-73, in 1995. He later visited the ISS on shuttle missions STS-92 in 2000 and STS-113 in 2002, participating in five spacewalks and logging 42 days in space.

Tyurin was selected to be a cosmonaut in 1993 and was flight engineer aboard the station for the Expedition 3 crew in 2001. He has logged 125 days in space.

Williams was selected as an astronaut in 1998. She has logged 2,770 flight hours in 30 types of aircraft, and has served as a NASA liaison in Moscow supporting the Expedition 1 crew and station robotics work. STS-116 will be her first spaceflight.

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Clay Anderson will serve as the backup commander and flight engineer, respectively. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will be the backup Soyuz commander and flight engineer.

DataPath to Supply Georgia With Portable Satcom Post

DataPath Inc. of Duluth, Ga., will provide the Georgia Office of Homeland Security-Georgia Emergency Management Agency with a mobile satellite communications center that will allow first responders to communicate when a disaster knocks out terrestrial communications, DataPath announced May 2.

The DataPath 3450 Portable Command Post provides police, fire, rescue and military personnel with the ability to establish voice, video and data connectivity via satellite in the event of an emergency when terrestrial communications are not available. Users are able to establish communications in less than 30 minutes from any location to deploy emergency response services.

No financial details on the agreement were disclosed.

NASA Teams With AOL To Spark Interest in Space

NASA and AOL are teaming up to launch a series of webcasts aimed at sparking the interest of young people in space exploration, NASA announced May 1.

The first webcast of the “KOL (AOL’s Kids Online service)-Expeditions NASA Earth Crew Missions” series occurred May 4 in honor of National Space Day, where students were able to talk with Expedition 13 crew members aboard the international space station. Other scheduled webcast participants include astronauts Paul Richards and Ricky Arnold, as well as James Garvin, the chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The Web site hosting the webcasts is designed to provide kids, parents and teachers with interactive missions, video content and other activities to spark interest in science and technology. The project is made possible through a Space Act Agreement between AOL and NASA’s Office of Education and Space Operations Mission Directorate.

The Web site is available at www.kolexpeditions.com.

Hispasat’s Net Profit Soars on Latin American Growth

Growth in its new Latin American market from the Amazonas satellite launched in 2004 helped Spanish satellite operator Hispasat quadruple its net profit in 2005 and increase revenues by 18 percent, Madrid-based Hispasat said.

Revenues were 99.66 million euros ($124.6 million), an 18-percent increase over 2004 due largely to the success of Amazonas, which Hispasat said was 66 percent occupied after just a year in service. The satellite, launched in August 2004 into the 61 degrees west orbital position over Brazil, suffers from a fuel leak that will reduce its planned 15-year operational life. But it is expected to function normally for up to 10 years, according to Hispasat.

Net after-tax profit for the Hispasat Group was 9.8 million euros, compared to 2.2 million euros in 2004. EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was 69.3 million euros, or nearly 70 percent of revenues.

During 2005, Hispasat said it acquired Amazonas landing rights in Nicaragua, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatamala. Amazonas is equipped with the Amerhis on-board processing system that perhaps higher transmission speeds for broadband satellite services. The satellite delivers broadband service, mainly for government-backed rural education, in 10 nations in Latin America, Hispasat said.

Hispasat is 27.7 percent owned by satellite-fleet operator Eutelsat of Paris.

Hispasat’s Latin American operations are conducted by Hispamar of Brazil, a joint venture between Hispasat and Telemar, a large Brazilian telecommunications company.

Microsoft To Keep, Expand All Vexcel Business Units

Microsoft officials said May 4 that the company will keep all of Vexcel’s existing business units and expand its aerial camera production.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft officially announced its acquisition of Vexcel Corp. during a teleconference May 4, though it had confirmed the deal was in the works back in March. The company has not disclosed the price it paid for the Boulder, Colo.-based remote sensing company.

John Curlander, former chief executive officer of Vexcel and now a general manager for MSN Virtual Earth, said there are no plans at this time to scale down any of Vexcel’s operations, such as its work building satellite ground systems.

Stephen Lawler, another general manager with the Virtual Earth business unit, said Microsoft chose Vexcel because of its talented employees, government relationships and its various assets.

Lawler said Microsoft might consider additional acquisitions in the remote sensing arena to round out its work on Virtual Earth. He also said Microsoft would be looking to make the Virtual Earth experience more “three-dimensional,” incorporating street-side imagery to give the view from a head-on perspective and other enhancements. Lawler said the platform also provides opportunities for unique types of advertising revenue.

Curlander said the company hopes to create a partnership network between imagery collectors, processors and value-added developers. “I think this is a huge boon for the mapping and remote sensing industry,” Curlander said.

The subsidiary plans to step-up production of its UltraCam aerial camera product line, Curlander said.

“I think you’ll see some new cameras coming out in the future,” he said.

Remote Sensing, Telecom Firms Create Partnership

Global Relief Technologies (GRT) of Portsmouth, N.H. , along with GeoEye of Dulles, Va., and Telenor Satellite Services of Rockville, Md., will partner in an effort to bring satellite imagery to emergency relief workers.

Under the partnership GRT will provide, via satellite through Telenor’s services, a Web-based technology that can be used to download imagery provided by GeoEye, from remote locations, particularly in the field.

GRT’s Web-based technology integrates satellite communications and imagery, data collection software and other tools, according to a May 3 press release from GRT.

NASA Teams with X Prize On Lunar Vehicle Contest

NASA will conduct a $2 million competition in conjunction with the Santa Monica, Calif.-based X Prize Foundation for teams to develop vehicles that would go to the Moon. The Lunar Lander Analog Challenge will take place at the X Prize Cup Expo in Las Cruces, N.M., Oct. 20-22, according to a May 5 press release from NASA.

During the competition, which will take place around the Las Cruces International Airport, competing teams will demonstrate their vehicles’ ability to launch vertically, hover in mid air and land on a target more than 100 yards away from starting position, with the ability to repeat the maneuver.

The foundation’s participation in the project, which consists of running the competitions and providing the venue, is being done free of charge to NASA, the release said.

Former Integral CEO Gets No Jail Time for Sex Offense

Steven Chamberlain, former chief executive officer of Integral Systems Inc. of Lanham, Md., will not receive jail time after pleading guilty to a fourth-degree sex offense involving a 14-year-old girl.

Chamberlain was given a suspended sentence and five years of supervised probation at a disposition hearing May 4 before Howard County Circuit Court Judge Diane O. Leasure.

Chamberlain pleaded guilty to the offense April 26 as part of a plea agreement. He originally had been charged with two felony charges for his sexual misconduct, which occurred at his Columbia, Md., home on a number of occasions between November 2003 and May 2004. He resigned from his post at Integral just days before the plea.

“I sincerely wish he had done this a year ago,” former Integral board member Bonnie Wachtel said of the guilty plea in an e-mail. “I can’t see that anything has been gained by the delay except to damage the credibility of everyone involved.”

Wachtel had resigned from Integral’s board in April after protesting a number of Chamberlain’s leadership decisions.

Howard County Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa Romano had asked the court to give Chamberlain jail time for the offense, but the judge indicated that a jail term would exceed sentencing guidelines. T. Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, said May 4 that the judge had called for a pre-sentencing investigation, which looked at matters such as the defendant’s prior history, when determining her verdict.

Chamberlain is allowed no contact with the victim or her family, will have to pay restitution in the amount of $7,201 to the victim’s family, and as part of his sentence must continue with psychological counseling.

EADS Astrium To Build Hot Bird 9 for Eutelsat

EADS Astrium will build the Hot Bird 9 direct-broadcast television satellite for Eutelsat Communications of Paris under a contract announced May 4. Launch is scheduled for late 2008.

Hot Bird 9, carrying 64 Ku-band transponders and generating 11 kilowatts of power, will be stationed at Eutelsat’s 13 degrees east longitude orbital slot, the company’s prime television-broadcast position over Europe. It will be used as a backup for any of the other Hot Bird satellites located there.

It is the second consecutive satellite Eutelsat has ordered from EADS Astrium, following the February announcement that the fleet operator had become the first commercial customer for a new satellite design featuring a collaboration between EADS Astrium and the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Antrix commercial arm.

EADS Astrium Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier said in an interview before the Hot Bird 9 announcement that his company expects to win three commercial telecommunications satellite contracts between now and the end of June. The Eutelsat order would be the first of those. The Arabsat satellite organization of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is expected to order a satellite from EADS Astrium to replace the Arabsat 4A satellite that was lost in a February launch failure of the Proton M rocket , according to industry officials.

Maxus Sounding Rocket Completes Seventh Flight

The German-Swedish Maxus suborbital sounding rocket made its seventh consecutive successful flight May 2, providing 12 minutes of microgravitiy conditions for a suite of European Space Agency (ESA) science experiments following launch from northern Sweden’s Esrange Space Center, the Swedish Space Corp. (SSC) announced.

Powered by a Castor 4B solid-fueled motor, the Maxus 7 vehicle reached an altitude of 702 kilometers before deploying its parachute. The five ESA experiments, including biological samples, performed as expected and were recovered by helicopter to be returned to their managers for evaluation within 85 minutes of liftoff, according to SSC.

The Swedish Space Corp.’s Esrange facility conducts Maxus launches under a joint venture with EADS Space Transportation of Germany, which assembles the Maxus rockets. Saab Ericsson Space of Gothenburg, Sweden, builds the Maxus on board guidance system, with Kayser-Threde of Munich responsible for the payload service systems.

Maxus and the smaller Texus rockets provide exposure to low-gravity conditions for experiments that are being considered for orbital flight. Maxus’ first flight occurred in 1991.

Student-Built Unisat-4 Headed to Baikonur June 10

The Unisat-4 microsatellite built by students at the University of Rome, the fourth in a series of experimental spacecraft, is scheduled to be flown to the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan June 10 in preparation for a June 28 launch aboard a Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr rocket.

Dnepr, launched from an underground silo, is a converted SS-18 ballistic missile that has performed five space-launch missions so far for customers in France, Japan, Britain and elsewhere.

Unisat-4, a 12-kilogram spacecraft designed to test components that have not yet been proven in space, is one of five spacecraft to be aboard the next launch. The goal of the mission is to give aerospace engineering students hands-on experience in satellite construction.

Filippo Graziani, director of the university’s aerospace engineering school, said Unisat satellites take about two years to build. The previous Unisat satellites were launched into low Earth orbit in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Globecomm Wins $4.5 Million In Government Contracts

Globecomm Systems Inc. of Hauppauge, N.Y., will provide indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity end-to-end satellite-based communications under multiple awards valued at $4.5 million from an unidentified U.S. government customer, the company announced May 1 .

NASA Exercises ISS Contract Extensions with Boeing

The Boeing Co. will continue to provide support services to the international space station (ISS) from the company’s Houston facilities for an additional year — through Sept. 30, 2008 — under $318 million in contract extension options exercised by NASA, the space agency announced May 2.

Under the contract, Boeing will continue to develop hardware and software for the station as well as provide engineering and production support on the U.S. segment of the station. This work includes managing station subsystems, electrical parts, environments and electromagnetic effects. The original contract was issued Jan. 13, 1995, and is valued at $13.3 billion, including all exercised options.

Ex3 Wins Award To Maintain NASA Incident Report System

Efficient Enterprise Engineering Inc. (Ex3) of Tempe, Ariz., will help support and maintain NASA’s Incident Reporting Information System under a five-year contract valued at $8 million, NASA announced May 3. Ex3 will be responsible for system management, system training services and other operational support, according to the release.

ATK Delivers Motors for Boost Vehicle-Plus Program

Lockheed Martin has taken delivery of the first two Orbus 1A motor assemblies from Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for the Boost Vehicle-Plus program, one of two interceptor rocket designs for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Ground Based Midcourse Defense System, Lockheed Martin announced April 26.

The motors will serve as the second and third stages on the first of eight boosters Lockheed Martin is supplying under contract to Boeing Co. of Chicago, the prime contractor for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense System.

ATK is scheduled to ship another 14 Orbus 1A motor assemblies this year from the company’s Elkton, Md., facility. Lockheed Martin is integrating the boosters at its plant in Cortland, Ala.

ND Satcom Signs Partner For Indian Joint Venture

ND SatCom of Friedrichshafen, Germany, a provider of defense communication systems and very small aperture telecommunication (VSAT) systems has formed a joint venture with an Indian company to market the company’s products in India and the surrounding region.

ND Satcom announced May 3 that it has teamed with Grintex India Ltd. of Gurgaon, India, near New Delhi to form a 50-50 partnership that will be known as ND SatCom-Grintex Communications Ltd.

ND SatCom Chairman Klaus Classen said the new company “represents our long-term commitment to become a major provider of satellite communication solutions in this important emerging market.”

ND SatCom is 25.1 percent owned by satellite-fleet operator SES Global of Luxembourg, whose recent purchase of competitor New Skies Satellites of The Hague, Netherlands, was in part motivated by New Skies’ success in the Indian market. Augusta Technologie AG, a diversified industrial telecommunications company, owns the remaining 74.9 percent of ND SatCom .

Ball Aerospace’s Michael Cerneck New Swales CEO

Michael Cerneck, former vice president and general manager of defense operations at Ball Aerospace, will become the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Swales Aerospace May 22. He replaces interim CEO John M. Klineberg, who will remain a member of Swales’ board of directors, the company announced April 26.

In his previous position, Cerneck was responsible for business development and program performance for defense- and intelligence-related efforts, as well as chair of Ball’s program management board.

Prior to Ball, he served as director of space systems for TRW’s Space and Laser Programs division — working on such projects as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the National Polar- orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

Bogdan Picked as Director Of Space Environment Center

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has named Thomas Bogdan director of its Space Environment Center, in Boulder, Colo., according to an April 28 NOAA news release.

Bogdan replaces Ron Zwicki, who had been serving as acting director since Ernest Hildner retired in 2005 after holding the job for 19 years. Bogdan, who spent the past eight years as senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, will take over in May.

U.S. Air Force Extends Range Contract With ITT

ITT Industries Systems Division of Cape Canaveral, Fla., will continue work on the U.S. Air Force’s western range data network under a $6.6 million contract modification from the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, the Air Force announced April 27.

ITT Industries is enhancing the capability of the network to take in both classified and unclassified data from various platforms such as GPS satellites and C-band radars, process this data and then deliver it as classified or unclassified to the network’s instrumentation sites, according to the news release.

The work is set to be completed by March 2008, with the award modification not to exceed $6.7 million.

Japan Taps Connexion For Government’s 747s

Connexion by Boeing will provide in-flight Internet access for e-mail, data and voice services aboard two Japanese government-owned 747-400 aircraft starting in February 2007, Connexion by Boeing, a business unit of Chicago-based Boeing Co., announced May 2. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 747-400 executive aircraft provide transportation for the emperor of Japan as well as the country’s other top-ranking officials. Installation of the Connexion by Boeing antennas aboard the aircraft will be performed by Japan Airlines, according to the release.

Canadian Commemorative Coin Honors ISS Robot Arm

The Royal Canadian Mint will issue coins May 15 celebrating the 5th anniversary of the installation of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at the international space station during the first spacewalk conducted by a Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, using the original Canadarm.

The coins will be available in 14-karat gold with a 300 Canadian-dollar face value, and in sterling silver with a 30-dollar face value, limited to 1,000 and 20,000 mintings, respectively. The silver edition also features a selective hologram of the robotic arm in space.

Despite the face values, the gold coin will be priced at 1,089.95 Canadian dollars ($976), while the silver will sell for 79.95 Canadian dollars.

Air Force Dedicates New Schriever Space Complex

The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has dedicated its new home for military space operations to the late Air Force Gen. Bernard Schriever, the “father of military space,” Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, commander of SMC, said in a news release dated April 24, the day of the dedication ceremony.

The new Schriever Space Complex is a four-building facility located on 52 acres of government-owned land in El Segundo, Calif. — approximately a half kilometer from its old home.

SMC is responsible for the procurement of military space systems as well as for on-orbit checks, testing and maintenance of military satellite constellations.

Pioneering NASA Astronaut Eileen Collins Retires

Astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot — and later command — a U.S. spacecraft, is hanging up her spaceflight wings to pursue more terrestrial exploits, NASA said May 1.

Collins, 49, commanded NASA’s first shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia disaster, and is a veteran of four orbiter flights throughout her 16-year astronaut career. The shuttle commander is retiring to pursue private interests and spend more time with her family, NASA said.

“Eileen Collins is a living, breathing example of the best that our nation has to offer,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a statement. “She is, of course, a brave, superb pilot and a magnificent crew commander.”

NASA selected Collins to join the astronaut corps in 1990. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel, Collins became NASA’s first female shuttle pilot in 1995 on the STS-63 mission, the U.S. agency’s first to the Russian Mir space station .

Collins also served as pilot during NASA’s STS-84 flight to Mir in 1997, and became NASA’s first female shuttle commander in 1999 when she led the Columbia orbiter’s STS-93 mission that launched the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

As commander of the Discovery orbiter during the July-August flight of STS-114, Collins led her six crewmates on NASA’s first shuttle flight since the 2003 loss of the Columbia orbiter and its crew.

The mission tested a series of shuttle safety improvements, inspection tools and fuel tank modifications, as well as restocked the international space station .

Lockheed Martin Launches Missile Defense Test Payload

Lockheed Martin successfully launched a suborbital payload April 28 to study missile defense sensor readings as part of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Measurements-Countermeasurements Program , according to a news release from the Bethesda, Md.-based company .

The payload was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, on a SR19 suborbital launch vehicle over the Pacific Ocean. The Measurements-Countermeasurements Program provides testing for the MDA’s missile defense system.

Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., integrated the launch vehicle and provided launch services as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin. The payload was developed by the Sandia National Laboratories near Albuquerque, N.M.

Northrop UAV Could Help Monitor Drug Trafficking

Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV ) has demonstrated its ability to provide drug-trafficking surveillance on the southern U.S. border, tracking both low-flying aircraft and fast-moving boats of the type frequently used to smuggle illegal substances, the Los Angeles-based company announced May 1.

Global Hawk UAVs flew in three 28-hour tests in February and March over known drug-trafficking routes in the southern United States, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. The UAVs accomplished the goals of detecting low-flying airplanes from altitudes of over 96,000 kilometers and also locating and tracking small boats used in drug trafficking.

The UAVs were launched from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and flew along the smuggling routes to the U.S. Air Force Southern Command’s facility in the Caribbean . The flights were controlled from Northrop’s Unmanned Systems facility in San Diego.

“This exercise demonstrated how the Global Hawk system could assist military combatant commanders and homeland security officials to stem the flow of illegal drug trafficking in the air and on the water,” James Kohn, Northrop Grumman’s program manager for the demonstrations, said in the news release.

NASA Seeking Partners for Minority Academic Program

NASA has issued a request for proposals to strike a cooperative education agreement that will offer one-year competitive scholarships to minority students in hopes of diversifying the future science and technology work force, NASA announced May 1.

Under its Minority University Research and Education Program, NASA expects to award one cooperative agreement to a minority-serving educational institution that could be worth up to $1.75 million annually for a total performance period of three years.

One-year scholarships worth up to $10,000 will be awarded to qualifying freshmen, sophomores, juniors and transfer students, who also will receive a stipend to participate in an internship.

“NASA’s Office of Education is committed to providing opportunities for all students to explore and develop their full learning potential,” Angela Phillips Diaz, acting NASA assistant administrator for education, said in the news release.

Linux To Provide System For NASA Supercomputer

Linux Networx of Bluffdale, Utah, will provide NASA’s Center for Computational Sciences at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., with a supercomputing system that will be used to study weather and climate data as well as simulate astrophysical phenomena, Linux announced May 1.

The Custom Supersystem will supplement the center’s supercomputer architecture to improve performance to as many as 40 trillion floating-point operations per second, Linux said in a press release.

The Custom Supersystem also will provide increased storage for raw computer data to optimize speed and performance.

The Custom Supersystem was ordered by Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., which manages the acquisition and installation of supercomputer systems at the Center for Computational Sciences.

No financial details of the contract were disclosed.

Lockheed Martin Delivers SBIRS Sensor Subsystem

Lockheed Martin has delivered payload pointing hardware and software for the first geosynchronous-orbit Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) to Northrop Grumman, its main subcontractor on the missile warning satellite system, Lockheed Martin announced May 1.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., is the prime contractor for the U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS system . Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Azuza, Calif., is responsible for the satellites’ infrared sensors.

The sensor operations will be controlled by the Pointing and Control Assembly and associated software, which will allow the SBIRS satellite to scan an area of interest for infrared activity while simultaneously monitoring another area.

After integration and testing, Northrop Grumman is expected to deliver the completed payload back to Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale in mid-2007 for final assembly and testing. The launch of the first geosynchronous-orbit SBIRS spacecraft is slated for 2008, according to the release.

ICG to Equip New Jets With Iridium Terminals

The International Communications Group (ICG) will provide Iridium satellite terminals for Bombardier Aerospace’s new Challenger 605 business jets that are slated to enter service in the third quarter of 2007, according to an April 26 news release from ICG.

ICG of Newport News, Va., is a supplier of Iridium satellite services and will outfit Challenger 605 jets with its ICS-200 dual-channel satellite phone systems for global voice and data services. ICG also has equipped Quebec-based Bombardier’s Challenger 300, 604 and 605 aircraft as well as its Global 5000 and Global Express XRS jets.

Comments: Warren Ferster, wferster@space.com