Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 31 January 2007
02:27 pm ET




Europe-Based Interceptors Would Address


Iran


Threat

 

Long-range missile interceptors that the Pentagon hopes to install in
Poland
would not pose a threat to the ICBM portion of
Russia
‘s nuclear deterrent force, according to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

 

Obering said the Pentagon hopes to have an operational interceptor field in
Poland
by 2011 or 2012 to counter a potential threat from
Iran
, although he cautioned that there is no firm agreement yet from the Polish government. The Pentagon also is working on an agreement under which the
Czech Republic
would host an X-band radar that has been used to support
U.S.
missile defense tests from the Kwajalein Atoll, Obering told reporters during a Jan. 25 conference call.

 

The missile interceptors in
Poland
would be operated by
U.S.
forces; the sensor on Czech soil would not require operators on site, but would require
U.S.
personnel for maintenance and defense purposes, Obering said. The projects would cost about $3.5 billion combined, he said.

 

The Pentagon expects to have 14 Ground Based Midcourse Defense System interceptors in place at
Fort Greely
,
Alaska
, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base,
Calif.
, by the end of February, Obering said. The MDA is hoping to deploy the same type of interceptor in
Poland
.

 

Obering said 10 interceptors in
Poland
is too small a number to counter
Russia
‘s large ICBM fleet. Besides, he said, they would not be in position to engage a Russian missile launched toward the
United States
.

 

However, the interceptors would be sufficient in number and well-positioned to counter a threat from a country like
Iran
, Obering said. While
Iran
has not yet tested a missile capable of striking the
United States
, Obering said Islamic republic appears to be working on one and could demonstrate the capability through a space launch program that
Tehran
has discussed publicly.

 

Obering noted that the MDA received only about $30 million of the $57 million it requested this year for study work on the European site, and that the reduction probably slowed the notional deployment timetable by six to eight months.

 

 

Court Rules for Loral in Dispute with Cablevision

 

Loral Space and Communications has won a 16-month court battle with a Cablevision Systems Corp. subsidiary over disputed payments following the sale of Cablevision’s direct-broadcast television satellite to EchoStar in March 2005, New York-based Loral announced Jan. 24.

 

The ruling, by the New York State Supreme Court, will result in an award of about $51 million from the Cablevision subsidiary, Rainbow DBS Holdings Inc., to Loral.

 

Loral had sold its interest in Rainbow DBS to another subsidiary of Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision for $33 million plus 8 percent annual interest in March 2001, with the payment withheld until the sale of the Rainbow 1 satellite and most of the other assets of the start-up satellite-television company.

 

EchoStar Communications Corp. purchased Rainbow 1 and related assets in March 2005 in a deal that closed in November 2005.

 

Loral had argued that the sale should result in an immediate payment for its former Rainbow ownership stake. Cablevision disputed the point, and Loral filed suit in September 2005.

 

 

GeoEye to Reschedule Next Satellite Launch

 

Commercial imaging satellite operator GeoEye of Dulles,
Va.
, is seeking to reschedule the launch of its next-generation spacecraft from the second to the third quarter of 2007 due to instrument integration and range-availability concerns, the company said in a Jan. 19 press release.

 

The GeoEye-1 camera, built by ITT Corp.’s Space Systems Division of Rochester, N.Y., was delivered to the Gilbert,
Ariz.
, facilities of the satellite manufacturer General Dynamics C4 Systems in mid-January, GeoEye said.

 

The satellite is now undergoing integration and testing, but that process “may not be concluded in time to support a launch this spring for which it is currently scheduled,” the release said. Because of that, and due to what GeoEye characterized as a busy schedule for the Delta 2 rocket, the company is seeking the later launch slot.

 

Last April, GeoEye’s main competitor, DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo., announced that the launch of its WorldView-1 satellite imaging would be delayed at least six months, to mid 2007, because of problems found during integration and testing.

 

Space Systems/Loral Nabs Contract for Echostar 14 Space Systems/Loral will build the EchoStar 14 satellite for delivery in 2009, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based satellite manufacturer announced Jan. 24. It is Loral’s second commercial satellite win of the year and follows a seven-satellite harvest for the company in 2006.

 

Loral, which is completing construction of the large EchoStar 11 satellite scheduled for launch later this year aboard a Sea Launch rocket, said the EchoStar 14 direct-broadcast television satellite will use Loral’s 1300 satellite frame.

 

In a separate contract, Loral will provide services to TerraStar Networks Inc. to integrate the TerreStar-1 satellite, under construction at Loral, with a satellite beam-access subsystem being built by Hughes Network Systems LLC. The Hughes contract with TerreStar is valued at $38.1 million, and the Loral integration contract is valued at $22.5 million, TerreStar owner Motient Corp. said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated Jan. 24. TerreStar-1, part of a hybrid terrestrial/satellite two-way communications system, is scheduled for launch aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket late this year or early in 2008. The TerreStar-2 satellite, also being built by Loral, is scheduled for launch in 2009.

 

 

NATO Orders Globecomm Friendly Force Trackers

 

Globecomm Systems has received a $13.1 million contract from NATO to integrate its GPS-based friendly force tracking system into hundreds of additional vehicles, the Hauppauge, New York-based company announced Jan. 23.

 

The award is on top of a previous $7.8 million NATO contract to design and install the friendly force tracking system, bringing the value to $20.9 million, Globecomm said in a press release.

 

The tracking system will enable NATO forces to identify the position of NATO personnel, as well as allied multi-national forces in the field, Globecomm said. The technology is designed to reduce fratricide and friendly fire incidents.

 

The friendly force tracking system will utilize the EMS SATCOM’S eNcompass PDT-100 satellite communications terminal system with Insite Technologies geoOPS AVL software platform.

 

 


India


and


Russia


Sign Glonass Access Accord

 

India
and
Russia
formalized an agreement Jan. 25 under which
India
will have full access to
Russia
‘s Glonass satellite navigation signals for both military and civilian purposes. The agreement was signed in
New Delhi
,
India
, by Gopalan Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Anatoly Perminov, director-general of the Russian Federal Space Agency.

 

Under a separate agreement,
Russia
will launch a satellite dubbed Youthsat built by Russian and Indian university students.

 

The Glonass satellite system fell into disrepair following the breakup of the
Soviet Union
, but
Russia
has made replenishing the fleet a priority in recent years.
India
and
Russia
have been negotiating Indian access to the system for two years. In November 2005 the two sides agreed in principle on the granting of such access. Under an agreement signed last March,
India
will launch a Glonass-M satellite and participate with
Russia
in development of the next-generation Glonass-K satellites.

 

Russia Plans To Phase Out Two Launchers, Svobodny
Russia
‘s military will phase out the Soviet-era Cyclone and Cosmos-3M launch vehicles and shut down the Svobodny Cosmodrome in the
Far East
, according to Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, commander of the Russian Space Forces.

 

Popovkin said there are several Cosmos-3M vehicles remaining and that the Space Forces has no plan to replenish their numbers. The Cosmos-3M was designed by the Yuzhnoye design bureau in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, but built by the PO Polyot Organization in Omsk, Russia. The seldom-used Cyclone rocket was designed and built by Yuzhnoye.

 

Speaking to reporters in
Moscow
Jan. 23, Popovkin said the Space Forces will rely on the Rockot rocket – a converted ICBM – for launches of smaller satellites until the lightweight version of the planned
Angara
family of launch vehicles is available.

 

The Russian military has been steadily cutting back on use of equipment produced outside
Russia
since the break-up of the
Soviet Union
to reduce dependence on
Ukraine
and other former Soviet republics.

 

Popovkin also said the Space Forces will shut down the seldom-used Svodbodny launch pad located in the Russian Far East. Popovkin said Space Forces will continue to use the facility in the Amur region for space monitoring.

 

 

White House Taps Clapper For Pentagon Intel Post

 

U.S. President George W. Bush announced his intent to nominate James R. Clapper to serve as the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for intelligence in a White House statement dated Jan. 22.

 

Clapper, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general, currently is serving as the chief operating officer for government services at DFI International, a Washington-based consulting firm, according to the White House statement.

 

In his last government assignment, Clapper was director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). His long career in military intelligence included a stint as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

 

 

Italian Economic Ministry Funding Military Satellite

 

Italy
‘s Ministry of Economic Development is financing a major portion of Alcatel Alenia Space’s contract to build the Sicral-1B military telecommunications satellite, to be ready for launch by late 2007, Alcatel Alenia Space said.

 

The French-Italian satellite manufacturer said it signed a contract valued at 103 million euros ($134 million) in late 2006 with the Italian Ministry of Defense to complete Sicral-1B and its control center in
Vigna di Valle
,
Italy
. The Economic Development Ministry provided financing as part of its industrial competitiveness and high technology development program, Alcatel Alenia Space said in a statement.

 

The satellite’s construction began in 2003 with a separate contract, valued at 72 million euros, covering certain development costs for Sicral-1B and its ground installations. Alcatel Alenia Space said it expects a final contract to complete Sicral-1B’s ground infrastructure later this year.

 

Sicral-1B will carry three UHF, five SHF and one EHF/Ka-band transponder and is expected to operate for 10-12 years, depending on which launch vehicle is selected.

 

Italy
and
France
are discussing a possible joint development of a military telecommunications satellite to be launched around 2010-2011 that would carry payloads originally intended for
Italy
‘s Sicral 2 and
France
‘s
Syracuse
3C satellites.

 

Italy
,
France
and
Britain
have signed a contract to provide satellite communications capacity to the NATO alliance.

 

 

ISRO Halts Test Firing of Cryogenic Rocket Engine

 

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aborted a planned long-duration test firing of an indigenous upper-stage rocket engine just seconds after ignition Jan. 19 after “certain anomalies were observed,” ISRO spokesman S. Krishnamurthy said.

 

The test firing at ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri 300 kilometers southeast of
Bangalore
was designed to last for 720 seconds, replicating the flight profile of the cryogenic engine. The domestically developed engine is intended to replace a Russian-built model now used on ISRO’s Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

 

Krishnamurthy characterized the setback as minor and said ISRO will attempt the same test three weeks after the problem is identified and corrected. He said the exact nature of the problem is not known yet but would not rule out a false reading from sensors monitoring the test.

 

Krishnamurthy noted that during a 50-second test firing Oct. 28, the engine performed “exactly as predicted.”

 

ISRO began the 3.36 billion rupee ($76 million) engine development program in 1993 after
Russia
, under pressure from the
United States
, backed out of a deal in which it was to provide
India
with technical assistance.
Russia
instead sold seven cryogenic engines to ISRO.

 

The Indian-built cryogenic upper stage is slated to debut on a GSLV by March 2008, and Krishnamurthy said that schedule will not be affected by the recent test incident. ISRO had planned for that mission to take place this June, but revised its schedule following last July’s failure of a GSLV carrying the Insat 4C satellite. The next GSLV mission, scheduled for this July, will use a Russian-built upper-stage engine and launch a replacement for Insat 4C.

 

 

QinetiQ Finishes Testing GOCE Xenon-Ion Thrusters

 

Qinetiq Group plc of
Britain
has completed testing of xenon-ion thrusters to be used on board the European Space Agency’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) Earth observation satellite scheduled for launch later this year, Qinetiq announced.

 

Two Qinetiq T5 thrusters will be used on GOCE to provide precise compensation for the atmospheric drag the satellite will encounter in its operating orbit of around 240 kilometers in altitude. The drag otherwise would disturb GOCE’s measuring instruments.

 

Qinetiq in 2001 signed a contract valued at $9.1 million to provide the thruster assemblies. The company said its T5 thrusters will need only 40 kilograms of xenon gas for GOCE’s 20-month mission. The company also has started work to qualify its next-generation T6 ion thrusters, which Qinetiq is designing for longer-term, deep-space missions.

 

 

Raytheon Co. To Continue Missile Shield Radar Work

 

Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems of Tewksbury, Mass., received a contract option worth $19 million to provide continued support for radar sensors that play a role in the
U.S.
national missile defense shield, the company said in a Jan. 22 press release.

 

The contract option was exercised by Boeing Missile Defense Systems of Arlington, Va., the prime contractor for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Ground Based Midcourse Defense System.

 

Under the contract, Raytheon provides engineering services to ensure continued operations of the Upgraded Early Warning Radars at Beale Air Force Base in
California
and Fylingdales in the
United Kingdom
, and the Cobra Dane radar sensor in
Shemia
,
Alaska
.

 

The base contract, originally awarded in August, was valued at $10 million and ran through December. The recently exercised $19 million option runs from January through December 2007, said Joyce Melikian, a Raytheon spokeswoman.

 

 

DLR Testing Radio System Utilizing Aging Satellites

 

The
German
Aerospace
Center
, DLR, has begun testing prototypes of a satellite-radio system that could use aging telecommunications satellites in inclined orbits to beam radio programming to automobiles, DLR announced.

 

The demonstrations of the proposed Ku-Mobil system have been funded in part by the European Space Agency’s Artes telecommunications research program. In addition to DLR, Ku-Mobil partners include satellite operator SES Astra, carmaker BMW and radio broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

 

Ku-Mobil backers estimate that a standard Ku-band telecommunications satellite nearing the end of its useful life could switch off the thrusters that keep it stabilized on the north-south axis, with the fuel savings used to keep the satellite operating beyond its scheduled retirement. A satellite with an estimated six months of operations remaining when fully stabilized could actually be useful in the less-stable orbit for another four years, according to Ku-Mobil participants.

 

To receive programming from these less-stable satellites, which cannot be used for television broadcasts to fixed rooftop antennas, users would need to be equipped with small tracking antennas.

 

DLR says that instead of providing a constant stream of radio programming, a satellite used for Ku-Mobil would send packets of information to be stored on a radio’s hard drive to be played when the satellite link is unavailable. “Uninterruptible data flows … are not required for this new type of delivery system,” DLR said in a Jan. 24 statement outlining the Ku-Mobil project.

 

 

Northrop Set To Deliver 1st Advanced EHF Payload

 

Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., has integrated the payload uplink and downlink antennas for the U.S. Air Force’s first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) secure communications satellite, the company said.

 

In a news release dated Jan. 23, Northrop Grumman said it expects to deliver the package to Advanced EHF prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., by the end of January.

 

Northrop Grumman is Lockheed Martin’s teammate on the Advanced EHF program, with responsibility for the payloads. Northrop Grumman expressed hope that its work on the Advanced EHF satellites, slated to begin launching in 2008, will help reduce risks on the Air Force’s next-generation Transformational Satellite (T-Sat) communications system, where the company has a similar contracting relationship with Lockheed Martin. Boeing is competing against the Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman team for the T-Sat prime contract.

 

 

ISRO’s 1st Recoverable Capsule Successfully Recovered

 

India’s first recoverable space capsule, designed to test indigenously developed atmospheric re-entry technologies, made a successful return to Earth Jan. 22 after 12 days in orbit, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced.

 

The capsule was recovered from the
Bay of Bengal
about 140 kilometers East of Sriharikota, from where it was launched along with three other payloads Jan. 10 aboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The capsule, also carrying microgravity experiments, operated in a 637-kilometer circular polar orbit. ISRO said deorbit operations were executed from its control center in
Bangalore
supported by a network of ground stations in
India
,
Mauritius
,
Indonesia
,
Canada
and
Norway
.

 

ISRO spokesman S. Krishnamurthy told Space News Jan. 22 that the two microgravity experiments conducted aboard the capsule – one in metallurgy and the other in the synthesis of nano-crystals – were successful.

 

“Everything including the heat shield performed to satisfaction,” Krishnamurthy said.

 

 

Northrop Set To Complete ICBM Guidance Upgrade

 

Northrop Grumman Corp. of
Los Angeles
will continue updating the guidance systems on the
U.S.
fleet of Minuteman 3 missiles under a $98.7 million contract option awarded in December by the U.S. Air Force.

 

The award begins the final production phase of Northrop Grumman’s ICBM Guidance Replacement Program contract, the company said in a Jan. 18 press release. The total nine-year contract, worth $1.5 billion to Northrop Grumman, is expected to wrap up in February 2009, the company said.

 

The work will help extend the service life of the Minuteman 3 fleet to 2020, the press release said.

 

The Guidance System Replacement program is part of a wider ICBM-fleet upgrade effort led by Northrop Grumman and known as the ICBM Prime Integration program. The company said it booked more than $819 million worth of ICBM Prime Integration program work during 2006. Supporting Northrop Grumman on the effort are Boeing Co. of Chicago; Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md.; ATK of Edina, Minn.; and more than 20 subcontractors, the release said.

 

 


TCS Nabs


U.S.


Army Order For Satellite Terminals

 

TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS) of
Annapolis
,
Md.
, will provide satellite communications terminals for the
U.S.
military under a $10.8 million contract.

 

The contract was awarded under the U.S. Army’s World Wide Satellite Systems program, a purchasing vehicle for which TCS is one of six eligible contractors. This contract, awarded by the Army’s Communications-Electronics Lifecycle Management Command, based in Ft. Monmouth, N.J., is to provide terminals to the service’s Military Transition Team, according to a Jan. 23 press release from TCS.

 

The contract is for three years. If all its options are exercised within that time period, it could be worth up to $29 million to TCS, the release said.

 

The terminals will be used to provide encrypted voice, video and imagery data, the release said.

 

 

2.5-Meter Spot Imagery Comes to Google Earth

 

Spot Image of Toulouse, France, has signed a multiyear agreement with Google Earth to furnish 2.5-meter-resolution imagery of selected European areas from the Spot 5 satellite, Spot Image announced Jan. 22.

 

Financial terms were not disclosed. Spot Image Chief Executive Herve Buchwalter said in a statement that the agreement with the Web-based Earth imagery provider will “enlarge the community of people who enjoy images taken by the Spot satellites. … I am convinced it will contribute to growing public interest in this technology.”

 

 

Group Urges White House To Boost Space Science Budget

 

The Planetary Society sent the White House a petition urging U.S. President George W. Bush to increase funding for NASA’s space science programs before sending his 2008 federal spending request to Congress Feb. 5.

 

The petition, containing 5,000 signatures, was delivered Jan. 19 to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to the Pasadena, Calif.-based space exploration advocacy organization.

 

NASA’s most recent five-year spending plan called for holding space science spending flat through the end of the decade in order to fund development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares rockets the U.S. space agency is building to replace the space shuttle and enable a return to the Moon by 2020. Previous plans had forecast budget increases for space science in anticipation of significant reductions in space shuttle spending that NASA no longer believes are possible.

 

“Space science and exploration are inseparable,” Louis Friedman, the Planetary Society’s executive director, said in a statement. “The Administration is cutting missions of scientific exploration and research to pay for space transportation; this will diminish public support and interest in the space program.”

 

 

Northrop Technology Helps CNN Show Satellite Photos

 

CNN’s “The Situation Room” program is using a computerized display system featuring satellite imagery to illustrate some of its stories under a new agreement with Northrop Grumman Corp. of
Los Angeles
.

 

Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Collaboration Environment (ICE), which includes a TouchTable design to display and manipulate commercial satellite imagery, allowing CNN to show where events that are the subject of news stories took place, according to a Jan. 22 press release from Northrop Grumman.

 

CNN has used the ICE to show the procession route for U.S. President Gerald Ford’s funeral, and following current U.S. President George W. Bush’s prime time speech Jan. 10 outlining his new
Iraq
policy, displaying various areas around
Iraq
and how
Baghdad
would be secured, according to Nothrop Grumman spokesman George Seffers, who responded to questions via e-mail Jan. 25.

 

To create the ICE, Northrop Grumman worked with GeoEye Inc. of Dulles, Va.; ESRI of Redlands Calif.; TouchTable Inc. of Pasadena, Calif.; and MDA Federal Inc. of Rockville, Md.

 

 

Northrop, University To Study Uses of Composites

 

Northrop Grumman Corp. is collaborating with the
University
of
New Orleans

National
Center
for Advanced Manufacturing to study and demonstrate how composite structures could be used for future NASA vehicles, according to a Jan. 16 press release from Northrop Grumman.

 

The company and institution will look specifically at applications for composite materials on NASA’s planned Ares launch vehicles, according to Martin McLaughlin, Northrop Grumman’s project manager for Ares. Composites are being examined because of their light weight and adaptability, McLaughlin said.

 

Northrop Grumman of
Los Angeles
is funding the partnership with discretionary funds, but McLaughlin declined during an interview Jan. 19 to reveal how much the company is investing. The team began processing trials at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in
New Orleans
in December, and more testing is planned for later in 2007.

 

 

EDS Lands Contract With European Space Agency

 

EDS will manage corporate information technology services for the European Space Agency (ESA) under a five-year contract worth $97 million contract.

 

Under the contract, EDS of Plano, Texas, will manage desktop computers, messaging capabilities and mobile computing for more than 4,000 users, according to a Jan. 24 joint press release from EDS and ESA.

 

EDS also will be responsible for network security, including firewalls, antivirus measures and other services.

 

 

XM Sweetens Deal for Pre-Owned Honda Buyers

 

All certified pre-owned Honda models equipped to receive XM Satellite Radio will come with three months of complimentary satellite radio service under a new trial program.

 

Honda models equipped with XM receivers include the Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Odyssey, Pilot and Ridgeline, according to a Jan. 23 press release from Washington-based XM. XM has a similar program for Acura vehicles.