Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 26 September 2006
04:43 pm ET


With Success of Atlantis Half of ISS Now Assembled


The safe landing of the space shuttle Atlantis only marked the beginning of a challenging series of missions dedicated to completion of the international space station (ISS), NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said here Sept. 21. “We are rebuilding the kind of momentum that we’ve had in the past and that we need if we’re going to finish the space station,” Griffin said. “We have an awesome task ahead of us. The space station is half-built and we have half to go.”

During their 12-day mission Atlantis’ six-astronaut crew, commanded by veteran shuttle flyer Brent Jett, delivered a massive 17.5-ton pair of trusses and new solar arrays to the ISS during a busy mission to kick off an orbital construction effort that stalled as NASA recovered from the 2003 Columbia accident.

Atlantis astronauts staged three spacewalks in four days to install the Port 3/Port 4 truss segments to the space station’s port side and unfurl their solar arrays to their maximum 73-meter wingspan. The solar arrays, representing about one-fourth of the station’s final power grid, will begin feeding the outpost in earnest in December.

NASA plans at least 14 more shuttle flights — beginning with STS-116 aboard the Discovery orbiter in December — to complete the ISS by September 2010, when the agency plans to retire its orbiter fleet to make way for its new Orion capsules.

Michael Leinbach, NASA’s launch director, said Atlantis’ multiple launch postponements — and then its one-day landing delay — have cut a planned 110-day turnaround for the orbiter by more than 10 days.

Atlantis’ landing was delayed one day to conduct an unprecedented third inspection of their orbiter’s heat shield before landing to ensure its integrity after several mysterious bits of debris were spotted floating around the orbiter Sept. 19. A flight controller at NASA’s shuttle Mission Control room spotted the debris during a routine Earth observation, shuttle officials said.

Image analysts were unable to identify the object, shuttle officials said, though some engineers think it could have been a small piece of plastic inadvertently left between tiles along Atlantis’ underbelly.


USAF Space Programs Trimmed in Conference

The U.S. Air Force’s budget requests for several space programs were trimmed back by the conference committee sorting out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act, but most of those programs will have more money than they do in the 2006 budget.

The conferees chose to reduce the Air Force’s $867 million request for the Transformational Satellite (T-Sat) Communications System by $130 million, and reduced the $266 million request for Space Radar by $80 million. The Senate had proposed cutting the T-Sat request by $230 million, and Space Radar by $100 million; the House had proposed cuts of $100 million and $65 million, respectively. The current budgets for T-Sat and Space Radar are $429 million and $98 million, respectively.

The conferees also approved an $80 million reduction to the $936.5 million request for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, citing “expected launch delays and cost efficiencies.” The House had recommended reducing the request by $244 million, while the Senate had recommended full funding. The current budget for the program is $798.9 million.

The Pentagon’s $406 million request for a new high-speed missile interceptor was cut by $48 million. The Senate had recommended cutting the request for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, which is under development by Northrop Grumman Corp., by $200 million, while the House had supported full funding in 2007. The current budget for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor is $202 million.

The conference committee’s work must be approved on the floors of the House and Senate before it goes to the president for his signature.

USAF Hopes To Speed Deployment of GPS 3

The U.S. Air Force is hoping to accelerate the GPS-3 satellite navigation program by offering a bonus for delivery of the first satellite ahead of the scheduled 2013 date.

Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, commander of Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, said during a press conference Sept. 29 that the Air Force would like to take delivery of the first GPS-3 satellite as early as 2011, and will offer contractual incentives to make that happen. He noted that the predecessor program, GPS-2F, has encountered “serious challenges.”

Boeing is building the GPS-2F satellites and is competing against Lockheed Martin for the multibillion-dollar GPS-3 contract. The Air Force anticipates making a contract award in May or June 2007, Hamel said.

The GPS-3 procurement has been delayed by several months as Defense Department officials worked to come up with an acquisition strategy for the program, which some industry officials see as a model for the incremental, or block development approach championed by Air Force Undersecretary Ronald Sega.

Between 24 and 32 satellites will be built under the GPS-3 program. The procurement is expected to be split into blocks of four to eight satellites, with capabilities improving with each successive block.

USAF Personnel Cutbacks Could Hurt Space Acquisition

The U.S. Air Force’s plan to reduce military staffing levels by 40,000 jobs and reduce contractor support by 25 percent over the next five years could cause the service some unintended problems in its space acquisition programs , according to a study released Sept. 22 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office .

While the Air Force appears to have reviewed the potential effect of those reductions on parts of its space work force, it has yet to conduct an assessment that covers the entire picture, according to the report, which was titled “Defense Space Activities: Management Actions are Needed to Better Identify, Track, and Train Air Force Space Personnel.”

The report noted that staffing shortages already exist at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, which handles the acquisition of most unclassified space systems and where 37 percent of critical acquisition jobs are already unfilled and half the workload handled by contractors. The report also noted that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) relies heavily on Air Force personnel for its classified space acquisition work, and could face difficulty in light of the planned Air Force staffing reductions.

The report also noted that the number of acquisition officials with the highest level of certification at the Space and Missile Systems Center dropped from 28 percent of the center’s personnel in 1996 to 15 percent as of 2005. According to the report, the reasons for the decline include the NRO’s priority in choosing staff and a drop in the overall level of personnel joining the Air Force with technical degrees.

U.S. To Switch Launch Ranges To GPS Tracking System

The U.S. government agencies responsible for managing the nation’s two main space launch ranges have agreed that starting Jan. 1, 2011, all launches from the facilities will rely on GPS for vehicle tracking. Currently, the ranges rely primarily on ground-based radars for launch vehicle tracking.

The switch to GPS-based tracking has been under discussion for several years. Ronald Sega, undersecretary of the Air Force, said the Space Partnership Council, a collection of U.S. agencies that includes various Defense Department organizations, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA, finally agreed in principle to the change in May.

The switch became official U.S. government policy Sept. 20, Sega announced at the Space 2006 conference in San Jose, Calif., organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“In line with the National Space Transportation Policy that directs NASA and the Defense Department to transfer launch bases and ranges to a predominately space-based range architecture, NASA is investing in the GPS-based tracking technology,” NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said in an e-mail. “However, the major launch ranges are managed and operated by the Defense Department. NASA is prepared to implement GPS metric tracking consistent with Defense Department plans for the transition.”

At least one U.S. company, Space Information Laboratories Inc. of Santa Maria, Calif., has developed a GPS-based tracking and telemetry device that a company official said is qualified for installation on rockets. Marty Waldman, a co-founder of the company, said the shoebox-sized device was developed at a total cost of roughly $2 million and can transmit tracking data to range safety officials either directly or via the Iridium and Globalstar commercial satellite systems.

Sats
Show Ocean Warming
Despite Recent Cooling Trend

Analyzing data from NASA’s Jason and Topex/Poseidon satellites and a broad array of ocean moorings, floats and shipboard sensors, researchers have found that the average temperature of the water near the top of the Earth’s oceans has cooled significantly since 2003. Specifically, the researchers found that the average temperature of the upper ocean increased 0.09 degrees Celsius from 1993 to 2003 and then fell 0.03 degrees from 2003 to 2005.

NASA, in announcing the findings Sept. 21, noted that the recent decrease is equal to about one-fifth of the heat gained by the oceans since 1955 and said the findings suggest that global warming trends do not always have a steady predictable effect on ocean temperatures.

“This research suggests global warming isn’t always steady, but happens with occasional ‘speed bumps,’ ” Josh Willis, a co-author of the study at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said in a press release. “This cooling is probably natural climate variability. The oceans today are still warmer than they were during the 1980s, and most scientists expect the oceans will eventually continue to warm in response to human-induced climate change.”

Intelsat IS-802 Failure Similar to 2005 Incident

Intelsat’s IS-802 satellite failed in orbit Sept. 21 in an incident that bore similarities to a January 2005 failure of an Intelsat satellite with the same design.

The IS-802 satellite, operating from 33 degrees east longitude, served telecommunications customers in Africa and the Indian Ocean region. Washington-based Intelsat said most of the affected customers would be transferred Sept. 22 to other Intelsat satellites.

Intelsat said the IS-802 generated less than $30 million in annual revenue. The IS-802 is not insured, in keeping with Intelsat’s policy of not covering its satellites for loss after their first year in orbit. IS-802, a Lockheed Martin 7000 model, was launched in 1997. It is the same model as the Intelsat IS-804 satellite, also launched in 1997, that abruptly failed in January 2005.

Intelsat operates two other LM 7000 spacecraft — the IS-801 and IS-805. “Intelsat currently does not know if there is a connection” between the most recent failure and the January 2005 failure, which resulted in the total loss of the satellite, the company said in a Sept. 22 statement, adding that ground controllers have been able to maintain communications links with the IS-802, which is “under control and accepting commands.”

Intelsat and Lockheed Martin completed their analysis of the January 2005 failure in November of that year. Intelsat said in subsequent filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that, while its three other Lockheed Martin 7000 satellites had the same design defect, “the risk to any individual satellite is low.”

The investigation into the January 2005 failure concluded it was caused by “a high current event in the battery circuitry triggered by an electrostatic discharge that propagated to cause a sudden failure of the high-voltage power system,” Intelsat said.

Next Ariane 5 Launch Delayed Until Oct. 12

The launch of the next Ariane 5 ECA vehicle has been delayed by two weeks, to Oct. 12, following a request from one of its two satellite customers for more time to evaluate a rocket-component replacement that has already been completed, the Arianespace consortium announced Sept. 22.

The Evry, France-based launch consortium said it has replaced the electronic hydraulic piloting hardware that maneuvers the two solid-fueled strap-on motor nozzles, steering the rocket on liftoff. The switch followed suspicions of an anomaly in the hardware mounted on the two motors.

Arianespace said one of its customers requested more time to evaluate the equipment replacement, forcing a delay of two weeks. The launch will carry the large DirecTV 9S satellite for U.S. satellite-television broadcaster DirecTV Inc., and the smaller Optus D1 telecommunications satellite for Australia’s Optus telecommunications services provider.

The launch also will carry Japan’s LDREX-2 experiment, a scale model of the Large Deployable Reflector to be launched for mobile communications on the Japan space agency’s ETS-8 telecommunications satellite. The 211-kilogram LDREX-2 will deployed following launch in a maneuver expected to last about 45 minutes. Once deployed, it will measure six meters in diameter, compared to the 19-by-17-meter size of the antennas aboard the ETS-8 satellite.

KEI Motor Fired in Test of Boost Phase Interceptor


Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co. successfully fired a Stage 1 rocket for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) program Sept. 14.

The test is the second for the KEI motors, which are being designed for use on the U.S. boost-phase missile interceptor, according to a Sept. 14 press release from Northrop Grumman. Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman and Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon are working on a team that will lead the first KEI booster flight test in 2008.


T-Sat Will Have Advanced Features in a Small Package

The first two satellites in the U.S. Air Force’s planned Transformational Satellite communications system, or T-Sat, will have the all of the new technology features of subsequent platforms but on a smaller scale, according to service and industry officials.

Industry comments were due Sept. 22 on a draft request for proposals for the futuristic T-Sat system, which will incorporate laser-optical crosslink and Internet Protocol (IP) router technology to dramatically increase the bandwidth available to U.S. forces starting next decade.

The laser payloads on the first two satellites will enable them to relay data between one another at speeds of roughly 10 gigabits per second, whereas subsequent T-Sat satellites will have crosslink speeds of up to 40 gigabits per second, said Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, commander of Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The predecessor Advanced Extremely High Frequency system satellites, by contrast, will be able to transfer data to between themselves at speeds of roughly 60 megabits per second, according to Len Kwiatkowski, vice president and general manager of military space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. .

The initial T-Sat satellites also will be able to communicate with high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles using laser links, Kwiatkowski said . Lockheed Martin is competing against Boeing Co. for the multibillion-dollar T-Sat prime contract.

The first two T-Sat satellites also will have onboard IP routers that will enable them to utilize bandwidth far more efficiently than circuit-based systems. These initial IP routers will have about half the throughput capacity of those on subsequent T-Sat platforms. Additional IP router capacity is not needed on the first T-Sat satellites in part because they each will have one extremely high frequency antenna providing communications to mobile forces, whereas subsequent T-Sat satellites will have two such antennas.

The final request for proposals on the T-Sat space segment is expected in May, with a prime contract award to follow before the end of the year, nine to 12 months later, Hamel said.

Alliance To Build Robotic Arm for Next Mars Rover

Alliance Spacesystems LLC has received an engineering contract to build a robotic arm for NASA for use in its next Mars rover mission, slated for 2009, the company said in a Sept. 15 press release.

This is the fourth robotic arm that the company has built for Mars spacecraft, according to the press release from Pasadena, Calif.-based Alliance.

The arm is nearly 1.8 meters long and is five-jointed. Several instruments, such as cameras and geology tools, will be mounted on the arm, according to the release.

The dollar amount of the contract was not disclosed.

SAIC Finalizes Purchase of Engineering, Info Company

Engineering firm Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has completed its acquisition of a Calif.-based aerospace engineering and information technology company.

SAIC has purchased Torrance, Calif.-based bd Systems, Inc., according to a Sept. 11 SAIC press release . Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, the release said.

Bd Systems will be maintained as a subsidiary associated with SAIC’s space and geospatial intelligence business, the release said.

Raytheon Completes NPOESS Ground System Software Test

Raytheon has finished testing its ground system software for the early stages of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program, the company announced Sept. 7.

The testing was completed two months ahead of schedule, according to a Sept. 7 press release from Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon. The company is working with the

NPOESS team led by Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif.

Intelsat, Telenor Agree To Link Networks in Europe

Intelsat and Telenor have agreed to connect their fiber networks in London .

The new agreement will extend Oslo-based Telenor’s programming in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and Intelsat will be able to expand its network’s geographical reach further into Europe, according to a Sept. 8 press release from Bermuda-based Intelsat.

Andrew Will Build, Market QinetiQ Satellite Antenna

Andrew Corp. has won a contract to build and market QinetiQ satellite antennas. The antenna automatically aligns itself to an appropriate satellite dish, according to a Sept. 10 press release from QinetiQ. The antenna primarily is used by oil and gas, energy and construction customers, the release said.

Under the agreement, Westchester, Ill.-based Andrew will manufacture and develop the physical design of the antenna while Hampshire, U.K.-based QinetiQ will enhance it, and license its electronics and software elements, the release said.

Intelsat To Provide European Hand-held TV Service Content

An Italian broadcasting company is using an Intelsat satellite to distribute content for the first mobile hand-held television service to be offered in Europe, according to a Sept. 8 press release from Intelsat.

Reti Radiotelevisive Digitali of Milano, Italy, is using Bermuda-based Intelsat’s IS-905 satellite to distribute 12 television channels for its 3 Italia network. The hand-held television service, called WalkTV, launched in June and currently has 140,000 subscribers, according to the release.

NASA Creates Venture Capitol Fund for New Technologies

NASA is establishing a privately managed strategic venture capital fund modeled after the CIA’s In-Q-Tel, one of NASA Administrator Mike Griffin’s former employers.

Tapped to manage the fund is Red Planet Capital Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based nonprofit organization that will use venture capital and a NASA investment of about $75 million over five years to promote broader private-sector participation in NASA activities.

NASA said in a Sept. 20 press release announcing the fund that it hopes its partnership with Red Planet Capital will allow the space agency to gain “earlier and broad exposure to emerging technologies.”

Arlington, Va.-based In-Q-Tel has played a similar role for the CIA since 1999. Griffin served as In-Q-Tel’s president and chief operating officer from 2002 to 2004.

Orbital To Build Satcom System for Austin, Texas

Orbital Sciences Corp. will build a satellite-based communications system for the transportation authority in Austin, Texas, under a new $12.5 million contract.

Orbital will provide a dispatch network and automatic vehicle location system for Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to a Sept. 15 press release from Orbital. The company first will install the dispatch system for the Metro’s Special Transit Services, and later equip bus services and commuter rail service, the release said.

Orbital also was awarded a $10 million contract to build a transit management system in Westchester County, N.Y., according to a Sept. 14 press release from Orbital.

Ansari
To Conduct Research For ESA During ISS Visit


Space tourist Anousheh Ansari will conduct a series of experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA) during her stay on board the international space station, under a scientific agreement with the agency.

Ansari and the Expedition 14 crew launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Sept. 18. Ansari will conduct research for ESA on the response of the human body’s response to microgravity on board the space station, according to a Sept. 15 press release from Space Adventures Ltd., the Vienna, Va.-based private launch company that arranged for Ansari’s spaceflight .


Boeing Selected To Design Heat Shield for Orion CEV

NASA has picked Boeing’s Huntington Beach, Calif.-based operation to support the design and development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle’s protective heat shields. The 16-month contract has a maximum value of about $14 million.

Under the contract, Boeing will provide NASA with additional samples of a proprietary candidate heat shield material for additional testing and evaluation at NASA Ames Research Center, the Mountain View, Calif.-based NASA facility leading development of Orion’s heat shields.

The material, one of several candidates under consideration for Orion’s heat shields, is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator, or PICA for short. It is manufactured by

Boeing subcontractor Fiber Materials, Inc. of Biddeford, Maine,

Boeing is also expected to complete a preliminary PICA heat shield design and deliver a full-scale manufacturing demonstration unit.

Orion’s heat shields must prevent the crewed capsule from burning up when it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere upon returning from missions to the international space station and eventually the Moon.

Denver Launches Network For Geospatial Industry

The city of Denver has launched an online information network devoted to the geospatial industry.

The network, known as the Geospatial Industry Workforce Information System, helps workers stay aware of new job opportunities, according to a Sept. 13 press release from the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA).

The network was funded through a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, given to GITA and the Association of American Geographers , according to the press release .

U.S. Air Force Awards Ball LEOSS Contract

The U.S. Air Force has selected Ball Aerospace as prime contractor for a space sensor program.

Boulder, Colo.-based Ball will serve as prime contractor for Phase A of the Lightweight Electro-Optical Space Sensor (LEOSS) program, according to a Sept. 14 Ball press release .

The experiment will examine how these sensors can be used for locating and tracking objects in space, the release said.

The first phase of the contract will deal with technology research. Later phases of the program may include a flight demonstration, the release said. The dollar amount of the contract was not disclosed.

NASA Invests in Photon Thruster Research

NASA has invested $400,000 in research devoted to photon thrusters that maneuver spacecraft.

The Bae Institute, a space and medical technologies research firm based in Tustin, Calif., has received the grant as a follow-on to a previous $75,000 grant awarded last March. During this new phase of the grant, the firm will demonstrate photon thruster technology in a vacuum chamber to simulate space conditions, according to a Sept. 13 press release from the Bae Institute.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Settles Into Martian Orbit

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) reached its planned flight path Sept. 11 after six months of working to shape its orbit pattern, and has obtained its first radar images from space.

The MRO’s orbit ranges in altitude 250 kilometers to 216 kilometers above the planet’s surface, according to a Sept. 12 NASA press release . The next step for the device is the readying of its spectrometer, which is scheduled for Sept. 27 , according to the a Sept. 12 press release from NASA

Scientists Find Lunar Meteorite in Antarctica

Scientists have discovered a lunar meteorite in Antarctica, the second of its kind ever to be found on Earth.

The first lunar meteorite was found on Dec. 11, 2005, in an ice field in the Transantarctic Mountains, according to Sept. 14 NASA press release.

Scientists who have been studying the meteorite since say its composition is unusual, showing unique weathering patterns. Scientists may be able to uncover information on the early history of the Earth and Moon, particularly impact-related events, according to the release .

SAIC To Integrate NATO Missile Defense System

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has been chosen to integrate a missile defense system for NATO under a $95 million contract, the company announced Sept. 18.

The six-year contract is for the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system , which will help NATO tie together its existing weapon and communications systems into an integrated defense system, according to a Sept. 18 SAIC press release.

Most of the work for the contract will be done in the Netherlands, according to the release .

RT Logic Receives Awards For Its Work on NPOESS

A subsidiary of Integral Systems has received two awards for its work on a government-sponsored environmental satellite system.

RT Logic, the ground systems segment of Lanham, Md.-based Integral, received awards from two defense contractors for its work on the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), according to a Sept. 11 press release from Integral.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology Division of Redondo Beach, Calif., awarded RT Logic its 2005 NPOESS Outstanding Supplier Award. Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems of Garland, Texas, named RT Logic its NPOESS 2005 Supplier of the Year.

RT Logic is providing processor systems and telemetry for the NPOESS program.

American Sports Content to Middle East Via Globecomm

Globecomm Systems will provide sports programming content to a Middle East-based satellite provider under a new contract.

Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Globecomm will contribute video feeds from its Long Island-based teleport to Gulfsat of Kuwait, according to a Sept. 12 Globecomm press release . The content will include games from Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, the release said.

The financial terms of the three-year contract were not disclosed.

SAIC, Lockheed Partner on U.S. Border Defense Program

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) will partner with Lockheed Martin on an upcoming U.S. border defense contract.

San Diego-based SAIC will provide engineering and design support for Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin’s bid for the Secure Border Initiative Program under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a Sept. 11 SAIC press release .

The program is designed to integrate a number of border patrol technologies, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the release.

The contract, scheduled to be awarded in late September , is expected to be a six-year, multi billion dollar program, the release said.

Raytheon Awarded Space Surveillance Contract

The U.S. Air Force awarded a $950,000 contract to Raytheon Co. to conduct experiments intended to help improve the service’s ability to monitor objects in space, according to a company news release dated Sept. 14.

Under the contract, Raytheon will conduct simulations at the Maui High Performance Computing Center through 2008 to assess the ability to fuse various sources of data to support space surveillance operations, and are intended to lead to future upgrades for space surveillance systems, according to the news release.

Raytheon’s work under this contract will play a critical role in improving the military’s ability to identify and track objects in space, Mary Petryszyn, vice president for joint battlespace integration at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, said in the news release.

Sp
acenet Debuts Small Business Residential VSAT

Spacenet has introduced a new satellite broadband service for small businesses and residential users.

The service, known as StarBand Nova, uses Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) technology to deliver faster speeds for a lower cost than their traditional StarBand service , offering prices for the hardware as much as 70 percent lower than previous versions, according to a Sept. 19 press release from McLean, Va.-based Spacenet.

The equipment is a next-generation of technology that allows the company to offer the same speeds at lower prices, according to the release

The Nova Ultimate option is aimed at office users who want always-on broadband access, and the Nova Pro service is targeted at residential users in rural areas according to the release.

The Nova Ultimate service is retailing at $129 per month, and pricing for the Nova Pro will be announced later this month, the release said .

ICG Debuts New Voice, Data System for Maritime Users

International Communications Group (ICG), a reseller of Iridium Satellite products, has introduced a new maritime communications device.

The MIS-200 is a dual-channel communications system that provides voice and data links for maritime vessels, according to a Sept. 13 press release from Newport News, Va.-based ICG.

The system includes two transceivers for use in the L-band spectrum, with one dedicated to data and the other to voice.

EMC Delivers Emergency Satcom Kit to Beirut

Emerging Markets Communications (EMC) has installed a satellite communications emergency kit to be used in Beirut, Lebanon.

The EMC Quick Deployment kit includes pre-configured antennas specifically designed to be deployed quickly for emergency response situations, according to a Sept. 15 press release from Miami-based EMC.

EMC spokeswoman Cynthia Leibman said that the company could not reveal its customer for the installation or the dollar amount of the contract, saying only that it was a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

The kit was installed during August, according to the release, and is now fully operational.

5th Space Tourist
Signs Deal for ISS Trip

U.S. citizen Charles Simonyi has signed a contract to fly to the international space station (ISS) aboard of a Russian TMA spacecraft, Aleksei Krasnov, head of the Federal Space Agency’s manned space flights directorate, told reporters in Moscow Sept. 20.

Simonyi, who has worked as Director of Application Development and chief architect at Microsoft, already has begun training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City near Moscow.

Krasnov said Simonyi would fly to ISS before 2008 and so will a Malaysian and a South Korean. All of the so-called third seats on Soyuz-TMA’s, which fly to ISS, are booked until 2008, Krasnov said.

Krasnov said he cannot rule out that U.S. businesswoman Anousheh Ansari — who was to have returned from ISS on Sept. 29 — will fly to this station again sometime in 2008.