Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 30 May 2006
02:37 pm ET


NASA Extends TIMED Mission Through 2010

NASA has extended the TIMED heliophysics mission through 2010. Launched in 2001, the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetic and Dynamics — or TIMED — spacecraft was to have ceased operations by October.

NASA announced May 25 that the extended mission will concentrate on observing the response of the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere to solar and geomagnetic phenomena not previously singled out for study during the satellite’s primary mission.

“During the next phase of our mission, we’ll embark on new investigations to better understand the mechanisms leading to the escape of our upper atmosphere,” said Sam Yee, TIMED project science at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the Laurel, Md.-based lab that built the TIMED spacecraft. “Investigating the processes behind the loss of oxygen and hydrogen will help us understand the evolution of other planetary atmospheres including Venus and Mars.

Yee said the extended mission would also “bring insights into atmospheric evolution and perhaps the fate of Earth’s atmosphere.”

Justice Clears Merger Of Intelsat, PanAmSat

The U.S. Department of Justice has given a green light to the proposed merger of Bermuda-based Intelsat Ltd. and Wilton, Conn.-based PanAmSat Holding Corp. The department put no conditions on the merger, according to a May 26 press release from Intelsat, but t he merger still requires the approval of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Intelsat is projecting that FCC approval should come sometime in either the second or third quarter of 2006, according to Intelsat spokeswoman Jodi Katz.

“This is definitely an achievement, and one of the milestones that we were waiting for,” Katz said in a phone interview May 26. “We were not expecting any conditions, but we’re pleased they didn’t put any on us.” The approval will allow Intelsat to move forward on further integration efforts, particularly in the sales and marketing areas, Katz said.

The company will be working over the next few weeks to complete its financing for the merger, though Katz declined to specify how it would be financed. The companies’ merger was announced August 29, 2005, and under the agreement, Intelsat will acquire PanAmSat for $3.2 billion.

Astrium Buys 42% Stake In Brazilian Component Firm

Astrium Satellites has purchased a 42-percent stake in Brazilian satellite-hardware supplier Equatorial Sistemas in a bid by the European company to tap into Brazil’s growing space program.

Financial details were not disclosed. Equatorial Sistemas, founded in 1996 and based in S�o Jose dos Campos, is a regular supplier to the Brazilian Space Agency, AEB, and Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, INPE.

The company is prime contractor for the Wide Field Instrument sensor aboard the China-Brazil Earth observation satellite (CBERS), and prime on development of the humidity sounder for NASA’s Aqua satellite. Astrium said the equity stake would enable it to “supply optical equipment … and radar systems for Brazilian space programs.”

Senate Confirms Hayden As DCI by 78-15 Margin

The U.S. Senate voted on May 26 to confirm Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency by a margin of 78-15. Seven senators did not vote. Hayden served from March 1999 to April 2005 as director of the National Security Agency. Since then he has served as principal deputy director of national intelligence

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SSTL’s Purchase of Sira Space Group Completed

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) has completed its acquisition of Sira Technology’s space group, a manufacturer of electro-optical instruments. In announcing completion of the deal May 23, Surrey officials said the acquisition — one of several vertical integration moves the company has made in recent years — rounds out the company’s remote sensing capabilities.

Officials at Guildford, England-based Surrey hope the acquisition — completed April 11 — will strengthen Surrey Satellite’s position as a mission prime contractor for space imaging systems and broaden its involvement in other European science and technology programs, according to the news release.

“We have already seen that when SSTL acquires previously outsourced activities, we can deliver even more rapidly and responsively,” SSTL Group Chief Executive Officer Sir Martin Sweeting said in the May 23 release.

In 2000, Surrey Satellite acquired Space Innovations Ltd., a small satellite company, and the solar panel manufacturing technology of Marconi Applied Technology.

“Sira’s imaging camera on the SSTL-built Beijing-1 microsatellite has already shown that we can produce world-class results together. Now we will see further benefits of complete industrial and technical integration of the optical payload and the satellite platform capability,” said Mike Cutter, SSTL Earth Observation and Technology business manager.

Appeals Court Upholds Lawsuit Against Echostar

A U.S. Appeals Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that Englewood, Colo.-based Echostar violated legislation that prohibits it from providing content from network affiliates such as ABC and NBC that originated in a different location than where the customer receiving the programming lives.

The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta May 23, orders a lower district court to issue a national injunction banning the practice.

The court’s 44-page ruling concluded that Echostar “willfully and repeatedly” violated the Satellite Home Viewer Act (SHVA).

“We have found no indication that EchoStar was ever interested in complying with the Act,” the ruling stated .

In a statement issued May 23, Echostar expressed disappointment in the ruling.

“While consumers are free to choose to read the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle or any other newspaper regardless of where in the United States they live, broadcasters successfully orchestrated passage of special interest legislation which prohibits consumers from watching network channels originating in other markets, except in limiting circumstances,” the statement said.

National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr applauded the ruling in a May 23 statement.

“This opinion affirms the importance of localism in television, and vindicates an eight year effort by TV broadcasters to stop EchoStar’s blatant and massive abuse of copyright law,” Rehr said.

Legislation Would Preserve Space Command Staff Levels

A Senate Republican joined with a House Democrat to introduce legislation May 25 aimed at discouraging the Pentagon from cutting jobs at Air Force Space Command.

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, offered the bill due to concern that Space Command could be singled-out for significant manpower reductions as the Air Force seeks to reduce its personnel levels by about 40,000 people.

Allard and Harman co-chair the Congressional Space Power Caucus.

The two lawmakers chose to introduce the bill as Congress prepared to adjourn for Memorial Day recess because they fear the Air Force might make those job cuts before lawmakers return in early June, according to a congressional aide.

According to a news release issued May 25, the legislation directs the Air Force secretary not to reduce staff to below January 2006 levels without first submitting a report to the congressional defense committees that justifies the move, assesses its impact, and assures that space operations and acquisition work will not be disrupted.

Harman said in the news release that cutting jobs at Air Force Space Command would create more inefficiency than it would eliminate.

“Our nation’s space program depends on the brains of dedicated women and men,” Harman said. “The military, civilians and contractors form a vital team, and deserve more than ham-handed implementation of a half-baked budget cutting plan.”

Allard noted in the news release that Air Force Space Command is working to fix space acquisition programs that have had problems due to poor management in the past.

“Taking away the people needed most to get these programs back on track is short-sighted and could set our space programs back years,” Allard said.

Allard has been one of the most vocal advocates for military space on Capitol Hill in recent years. He sent a letter in March to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complaining that space appeared to be declining in priority , and noting that he was disturbed by rumors that the four -star position of commander of Space Command could be reduced to the three -star level.

Rumsfeld said in April that the Space Command commander would remain a four-star position.

Rocket Challenge Team Comes Through Tragedy

A student team from Statesville Christian School in Statesville, N.C., defeated 99 competitors in the fourth Team America Rocketry Challenge May 20 despite losing two team members in separate fatal car accidents before the event , according to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), a key contest sponsor.

Myles Dunlap, Will Cobb and Michael Goetz earned a score of 1.79, reflecting a perfect altitude of nearly 244 meters and a flight time just two seconds off the target 45-second flight time.

The team named their rocket in honor of their lost teammates: Nathan Peeler and John Nichols, the AIA said in a May 20 news release.

“It was really hard to go on at first, but we decided we would press on and dedicate it to them,” Dunlap said in the news release.

The team members will share a $60,000 prize pool with other top finishers and secured a free trip to the Farnborough International Air Show near London this July — compliments of AIA-member Raytheon Co. of Waltham, Mass.

Notre Dame Academy of Toledo, Ohio, came in second with a score of 1.93, and West Point/Beemer Junior/Senior High School of West Point, Neb., nabbed third place with a score of 2.91.

Nearly 7,000 students from 678 teams around the United States participated in the qualifying rounds of the challenge.

It was the fourth year for the contest, a joint effort of AIA and the National Association of Rocketry. The event also is sponsored by NASA, the Defense Department, the Civil Air Patrol and 39 AIA member companies.

Voyager 2 Nears Solar System Boundary

NASA’s Voyager 2 probe could pass beyond the outermost layer of our solar system, called the “termination shock,” sometime within the next year, NASA scientists announced at a media teleconference May 23.

The milestone, which comes about a year after Voyager 1’s crossing, will be earlier than originally expected and suggests to scientists that the edge of the shock is about 1 .6 billion kilometers closer to the Sun in the southern region of the solar system than in the north. This implies that the heliosphere, a spherical bubble of charged low-energy particles created by the solar wind, is irregularly shaped, bulging in the northern hemisphere and pressed inward in the south.

Scientists determined that Voyager 1 was approaching the termination shock when the probe began detecting charged particles that were being pushed back toward the Sun by charged particles coming from outside the solar system. This occurred when Voyager 1 was about 85 astronomical units (AUs) from the Sun. One AU is the distance between the Earth and Sun , or about 150 million kilometers . Voyager 2 began detecting returning particles while only 76 AUs from the Sun .

The NASA researchers think the heliosphere’s asymmetry might be due to a weak interstellar magnetic field pressing inward on the southern hemisphere.

Currently, Voyager 1 is about 14.5 billion kilometers from the Sun and traveling at a speed of 3.6 AUs per year while Voyager 2 is about 11.7 billion kilometers away and moving at about 3.3 AUs per year.

Getty Images To Distribute DigitalGlobe Satellite Photos

Getty Images of Seattle will distribute DigitalGlobe’s high-resolution satellite imagery to media and other customers under a new agreement, DigitalGlobe announced May 24.

DigitalGlobe imagery has been used by the media to illustrate many breaking news stories, especially disasters like the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in December 2004, according to the news release.

The photos will be made available via gettyimages.com, with updated satellite imagery added daily, DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo., said.

BAE Releases Update of Image Analysis Software

BAE Systems of San Diego has released a new version of its SOCET SET geospatial analysis software, the company announced May 15.

The latest version, 5.3, requires less manual input for certain functions, reducing processing times, according to a May 15 press release from BAE Systems.

Kevin Malone, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ Geospatial eXploitation Products unit, said in the release that the changes were made in response to feedback from users of the software.

Honeywell To Develop UAV For Future Combat System

Honeywell Inc. of Morristown, N.J., will develop the smallest of four planned unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System program under a contract valued at nearly $61 million, the company announced May 24.

The Class 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system will be small enough to be carried on a soldier’s back and provide reconnaissance and surveillance information to forces on the battlefield. It will be based on Honeywell’s Micro Air Vehicle, a prototype developed for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that was successfully tested recently by the Army’s 25th Infantry division in Hawaii.

The contract was issued by Boeing Co. of Chicago and partner Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, prime contractors on the Future Combat System.

L2 Consulting To Distribute Iridium Equipment for ICG

International Communications Group (ICG) of Newport News, Va., has appointed L2 Consulting Services Inc. of Dripping Springs, Texas, as an authorized reseller of its Iridium-based satellite communications products targeted to the aviation market.

L2 will promote and sell ICG products in the military, government and civil cargo markets , according to a May 23 press release from ICG. L2 also will be responsible for product installation , technical support and service requests.

Content Services To Sell Intelsat Video Service

Content Services Inc. (CSI) of Portland, Ore., has signed on as a reseller of Intelsat’s newest video distribution platform .

Ampiage, Intelsat’s product, repackages video content from clients and sends it via satellite to cable and telecommunications providers, according to Intelsat’s Web site .

CSI will focus on delivering the content to the hospitality industry, municipalities, multi-dwelling real estate units, universities and planned communities, according to a May 22 press release from Intelsat.

ILC Dover To Develop CEV Re-entry Airbags

ILC Dover LP of Frederica, Del., will develop and demonstrate airbag concepts for the future landing system for NASA’s planned Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) under a contract worth up to $2 million, ILC Dover announced May 17.

Under the five-year contract from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., ILC will design and test the airbag landing system under a set of dynamic landing situations, according to the release. The contract also includes options for development and testing at Langley’s impact test facility.

ILC developed and built the airbag systems for NASA’s Mars Pathfinder lander and for the agency’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Hughes Revenues Climb During 2006 First Quarter

Hughes Communications Inc.’s total revenues increased by 10 percent, and its consumer and small-business broadband service revenues were up 20 percent, in the three months ending March 31 compared to a year earlier, the Germantown, Md., satellite-broadband company said in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Hughes, which markets its consumer/small business service under the HughesNet brand name, reported a net profit of $200,000 on revenues of $196.8 million for the first quarter of 2006. The company a year earlier reported a net loss of $14.4 million on revenues of $178.2 million.

As it prepares for the 2007 launch of its Spaceway 3 Ka-band broadband satellite covering North America, Hughes’ business model is shifting toward greater emphasis on bringing high-speed two-way data services to individual consumers and small businesses. Hughes expects to transfer many of its current customers to Spaceway 3, thereby reducing its payments to other satellite operators now providing mainly Ku-band capacity to Hughes.

Sales for this division were $69.8 million for the first quarter of this year, a 20-percent increase over the $58.4 million reported a year ago.

Hughes said that as of March 31, it had 291,600 subscribers, up from 275,000 at the end of 2005, according to the April SEC filing.

Hughes successfully concluded a $450 million debt offering in April. The financing will be used to pay off some $325 million in earlier debt, with the remainder to be spent for general corporate purposes.

The Spaceway 3 satellite is under construction at Boeing Satellite Systems International of El Segundo, Calif. Hughes said that as of March 31, it owed another $29 million in satellite-construction payments to Boeing, plus $73.7 million in payments to be made on the satellite’s launch. Spaceway 3 is scheduled to be launched by Sea Launch LLC of Long Beach, Calif.

Hughes said its total remaining Spaceway 3-related payments were $118.6 million as of March 31. This figure includes an estimated cost of launch insurance.

Some Hughes activities in China and South Korea were barred following the company’s January 2005 consent agreement with the U.S. State Department concerning allegations of improper technology transfer.

Hughes said in its SEC filing it is now eligible to seek a re-installment of its operating license in these countries “and intends to do so in the near future.”

A Chinese customer of Hughes is seeking compensation from the company because for what it alleges was a breach of contract. Hughes and the Chinese customer were in nonbinding arbitration for more than a year. In March these talks collapsed. “As a result, the arbitration is expected to resume,” Hughes said.

First Malaysian Astronaut To Visit Space Station

The Malaysian and Russian governments have agreed to send Malaysia’s first astronaut to Russia’s section of the international space station in late 2007 as part of a contract offset relating to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s purchase of Sukhoi fighter aircraft, Russia’s Rosoboronexport organization said.

A contract covering the training and launch to the space station of the Malaysian astronaut was signed May 19 in Moscow by Rosoboronexport Deputy Director General Viktor Komardin and Tan Sri Subhan Jasmon, secretary general of the Malaysian Defense Ministry, Rosoboronexport said in a May 19 announcement.

The Malaysian will fly not as a tourist, but as a “full member of the science and research program” to complete a series of experiments devised by the Malaysian Ministry of Science. Four Malaysian candidate astronauts are now being examined at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. Two finalists will be selected for the full training regime to prepare for the flight.

“Both countries are confident that the… space project will give solid impetus to further development of bilateral relations … in the sphere of military-technical cooperation,” Rosoboronexport said.

Astrium Satellites Plant Is Site of EADS Labor Protest

Astrium Satellites’ Toulouse, France, plant was the site of a labor demonstration May 23 following a call by two employee unions to show public support for a Sogerma aircraft-maintenance facility that is owned by Astrium’s parent, EADS, and threatened with shutdown.

In a statement issued after the demonstration, the two Astrium unions, CGT and CFDT, said the possible Sogerma plant closure and EADS’s recent attempts to sell Astrium to defense-electronics group Thales in return for an ownership stake in Thales illustrate the company’s fragility.

“In Toulouse, after EADS nearly succeeded in bartering Astrium for a position in Thales, and at a time when Astrium and [EADS] Space Transportation are merging — which means employment uncertainty — employees feel doubly worried,” the statement said. EADS is combining its Astrium and EADS Space Transportation companies into a single entity, to be called Astrium.

Fla. Program Aims To Spark Student Interest in Space

The Florida Space Authority is offering a program this summer that will allow Florida students in grades 7-12 to get hands-on experience in science and space disciplines that could lead to a profession in the aerospace field, the organization announced May 23.

The Florida Space Academy program will allow enrolled students to gain experience in real-world engineering and problem-solving situations in such fields as GPS, robotics, payload integration, rocket propulsion and space life sciences.

“The Academy is developed to inspire Florida students to investigate various space and science professions,” Winston Scott, executive director of the Florida Space Authority, based in Cape Canaveral, said in the news release. “We are actively recruiting Florida’s space work force by engaging students now as they begin to develop their career plans for the future.”

The one-week program — offered June 19-23 and June 26-30 — costs $300, with a 10-percent discount for students who have immediate family employed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Interested students can visit www.floridaspaceauthority.com to apply for the limited-enrollment program.

IPSTAR Gateway To Deliver Broadband to Northern China

China Satellite Communications Corp. (China Satcom) along with Shin Satellite have officially opened a new broadband satellite gateway in Beijing that will provide services to the northern part of China, Shin Satellite of Thailand announced May 24.

The gateway will provide high-speed Internet access as well as voice, data and multimedia applications via Shin Satellite’s Thaicom 4 (iPSTAR) satellite, which launched in August 2005. Two more gateways in Shanghai and Guangzhou are scheduled to be built this year to expand the broadband service throughout China, according to the release.

“In China, we are looking at a huge market with many large, unserved communities. Many of them require basic communications infrastructure, and our system could well handle up to 1 million people in China alone,” Dumrong Kasemset, chairman of Shin Satellite’s executive committee, said in the news release.

China Satcom was established as part of the Chinese government’s plan to extend satellite communications services in the country.

ATK Unit Purchases Linux Networx Supercomputer

ATK Launch Systems Group in Brigham City, Utah, has purchased a Linux Networx supercomputer that is expected to increase ATK’s ability to tackle complex physics problems and model sophisticated material behaviors, according to a May 22 news release from Linux Networx of Bluffdale, Utah.

The supercomputer will increase ATK’s computing capability to over 2.24 trillion floating-point operations per second. The system also includes a visualization subsystem to display large-scale analysis models as well as six terabytes in storage performance capacity, according to the release.

No financial details about the purchase were disclosed.

Saab To Build Separation System for Land Launch

Saab Ericsson Space of Sweden will provide the payload separation systems for the first two commercial Land Launch missions in 2007 under a contract announced May 19. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Saab Ericsson said it will provide two sets of payload separation gear to Land Launch — a Russian-Ukrainian Zenit 3SLB vehicle marketed by Sea Launch LLC of Long Beach, Calif. — for the PaAmSat PAS-11 and Horizons-2 telecommunications satellites, to be launched separately in 2007. Both satellites are being built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. Land Launch vehicles are operated from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Saab Ericsson said its latest payload separation systems are modular, enabling them to be used with several different rockets if a customer’s launch plans were to change.

Akari Sends First Image After 2-Month Checkout

After successfully completing a two-month on-orbit checkout, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s new infrared sky surveyor Akari delivered its first images – portraits of a nebula roughly 600 light years away, the European Space Agency (ESA), a partner on the project, announced May 22.

The spacecraft was launched Feb. 21 from the Uchinoura Space Centre in Japan and positioned in a polar orbit about 700 kilometers from Earth. The spacecraft used its Far Infrared Surveyor and near-mid-infrared camera instruments to capture images of reflection nebula IC4954 — a cloud of dust nearly 10 light years across that reflects the light of nearby stars.

The April 13 infrared images show newly formed stars in clouds of gas and dust that cannot be seen in visible light. The imaging instruments can survey the cosmos using six infrared wavebands, according to the release.

ESA provides data-processing support for Akari. Other international partners include several Japanese universities and institutes, Seoul National University in South Korea, and the particle Physics and the Astronomy Research Council.

China Moon Probe Readied For Launch in April 2007

Space officials in China are eying April 2007 for the launch of their first lunar orbiter — Chang’e-I.

The probe has been under development since early 2006 and makes use of China’s Dongfanghong 3 satellite platform. The lunar orbiter will be tested at the space launch center in December. If checkout goes well, the spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in April atop a Long March 3A booster.

According to the Wuhan-based Changjiang Daily, quoting Luan Enjie, director of the China National Space Administration, funding for Chang’e-I is 1.4 billion yuan – equal to $169 million.

One of Chang’e-I’s tasks will be to obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface. The orbiter is part of a three-step lunar program, Luan said during a lecture at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province.

Following the Chang’e-I orbiter mission China plans to land an unmanned vehicle on the Moon by 2010 and collect samples of lunar soil with an unmanned vehicle by 2020, Luan said.

“Only after we finish the three phases can we carry out the manned satellite project to probe the moon,” Luan stated.

ZG Aerospace To Launch Three Science Projects

ZG Aerospace, a Seattle-based space tourism company, is holding a competition for K-12 students who will compete to win a spot for their experiment on the company’s first suborbital commercial rocket launch from the Southwest Regional Spaceport in New Mexico this July, ZG Aerospace announced May 17.

The top three space projects will get to fly on the ZGS-1 payload on a commercial rocket developed by UP Aerospace Inc. of Highlands Ranch, Colo., which also will loft personal consumer items such as business cards, photographs and ashes. The rocket will reach space in 90 seconds to provide several minutes of weightlessness, according to the release.

“We hope that providing access to space for kids on board our flights will encourage their interest in space exploration and the future development of space travel,” Tom Gonser, co-founder of ZG Aerospace, said in the news release. The company said examples of the kind of projects suitable for the contest include an instrument that tests for cosmic radiation or a test of the effects of g-forces on the payload.

All project entries must be received by June 15. The guidelines for the projects can be found on ZG’s Web site at www.zgspace.com/MainSite/K12contest.htm.

L-3 Plans To Acquire Britain’s TRL Electronics

New York-based L-3 Communications has reached an agreement to acquire TRL Electronics of Gloucestershire, England, for 89.7 million pounds ($170 million) in cash, L-3 Communications said in a May 18 press release.

Shareholders still have to approve the agreement. TRL reported sales of 14 million pounds for the sixth months ending Sept. 30 , according to the release.

A radio and satellite communications company working in the government and defense arena, TRL produces a variety of products that aid in encryption and data security and protect against jamming.

WildBlue Extends Free Installation Thru June

WildBlue Communications of Denver has extended its free installation offer for high-speed Internet via satellite through June 30, the company announced May 22.

WildBlue provides satellite Internet service with download speeds up to 1.5 megabits per second to those areas not currently served or underserved by terrestrial high-speed Internet companies. WildBlue service is offered at $49.95 per month, with equipment available for $299. Installation would normally run at $179.95, according to the news release.

NASA Announces Host of Fellowship, Award Winners

Two NASA fellowship programs announced May 18 their 2006 selections: the NASA Administrator’s Fellowship Program and the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts Student Fellows Prize competition, which gives several undergraduates a $9,000 fellowship to investigate innovative ideas for space exploration.

The Administrator’s Fellowship Program offers its entrants access to NASA’s internal and informal information networks to expand knowledge and opportunities at minority institutions. The winners are Manmohan D. Aggarwal of Alabama A&M University; Beth A. Brown of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Dawn M. Elliott of NASA Kennedy Space Center; Louis J. Everett of the University of Texas, El Paso; Julius L. Harp of North Carolina A&T State University; Carolyn E. Knowles of NASA headquarters in Washington; John O. Lassiter of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Goang Liaw of Alabama A&M University; John Shebalin of NASA’s Johnson Space Center; Malcolm Stanford of NASA’s Glenn Research Center; and Michael Watson of Fisk University in Tennessee.

Winners of the undergraduate prize competition, with funding beginning Sept. 1, include: J. Michael Burgess of the University of Alabama; Daniella Della-Guistina of the University of Arizona; Jonathan Sharma of the Georgia Institute of Technology; Floris van Breugel of Cornell University; and Rigel Woida of the University of Arizona. Some of the winners’ ideas include utilizing near-Earth asteroids with tether technologies, protecting astronauts from interstellar radiation and identifying water on distant planets using neutron physics.

Butler To Lead European

Satellite Operators Assoc.

The European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) has elected Inmarsat Chief Operating Officer Michael Butler as chairman, replacing Enrico Saggese of Finmeccanica, and also plans to take “an aggressive stance towards changes in spectrum policy such as those being planned in the U.K.,” the Brussels-based organization said.

ESOA’s board appointed Christodolous Protopapas, chief executive of HellasSat of Greece, as vice chairman. ESOA’s chairmen and vice chairmen serve one-year terms of office.

The organization said it will attempt to persuade British regulatory authorities not to auction off L-band spectrum now reserved for satellite radio — a move the regulators have said they are considering as part of a broader auction of radio frequencies.

ESOA said its top priority in the coming months will be to improve satellite operators’ market access worldwide, and to assure that European regulators do not favor terrestrial technologies in their research and development policies.

Comments: Warren Ferster, wferster@space.com