Briefs

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  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 12 June 2007
04:39 pm ET






DoD’s

Military, Acquisition Leadership Shaken Up










In a sudden shakeup that will affect the leadership of Air Force space operations




Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced June 8 that he was recommending replacing the top military leadership.



Speaking at a Pentagon news conference, Gates announced that he would recommend that the president nominate U.S. Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chief of naval operations, to replace U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff rather than renominate Pace. In addition Gates said he is recommending




that the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Ed Giambiastiani, be replaced by Marine Corp Gen. James Cartwright, commander of Strategic Command.





Cartwright oversaw extensive changes to the missions and organization of Strategic Command, including creation of Joint Functional Component Commands for space and for missile defense. He




only recently had been extended for another year in that job, but will now be moving to Washington.







The Senate must confirm senior military positions the president nominates before they can take up new postings. Also, the most senior military postings have fixed terms of two years, though that can be waived in time of war. They also can be reappointed, and Pace and Giambiastiani were eligible for




reappointment this summer.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs is, by law, the president’s highest-ranking military advisor. However, he has no command authority. That is vested in the president and extends through the Secretary of Defense directly to the regional combatant commanders.



Gates said he wanted to avoid “a confirmation process that would not be in the best interest of the country.” He said he worried that “the focus of his confirmation process would have been on the past rather than the future” if he had renominated Pace and Giambiastiani.





Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a statement after Gates announced the changes in which he made it clear that the defense secretary had approached him to get a sense of the politics involved in Pace’s renomination. “In response to a request from Secretary Gates, I solicited the views of a broad range of senators. I found that the views of many senators reflected my own, namely that a confirmation hearing on Gen. Pace’s reappointment would have been a backward-looking debate about the last four years.



In addition to the changes Gates announced, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics




Kenneth Krieg announced his resignation late




June 6 to spend more time with his family.

Krieg
had been rumored for months to be on the way out. John Young, the Defense Department’s number two procurement official, is considered a likely candidate to replace him, several sources told Space News. Krieg’s resignation is due to take effect July 20 – or earlier if his successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate beforehand, according to a written statement posted on the Pentagon




Web site June 6.











Report on NOAA N-Prime Mishap Due End of June






An independent investigation into an April 14 accident that damaged one of the instruments aboard National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) N-Prime weather satellite has been completed.





Phil Sabelhaus, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope program manager, led a Mishap Investigation Team that looked into the root causes of the incident




. “We plan to at least have a draft report out by the end of June. The investigation is complete,” Sabelhaus said by email.

He declined to say more, citing NASA investigation rules. NASA is managing construction of N-Prime for the NOAA. One of N-Prime’s antennas broke loose from a nylon tether as contractors were shifting the craft’s position at the factory.

The antenna banged into the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), a sensor that will measure atmospheric temperatures for forecasters. The impact cracked optical reflectors designed to keep the sun from overheating the instrument. NASA and NOAA officials do not know whether the impact damaged AMSU internally.



Northrop Grumman, which built the instrument, is analyzing the impact by computer. Engineers are “looking at what kind of shock it received in the incident,” an N-Prime official said. The incident marked the second time N-Prime has been damaged at the factory. Sabelhaus‘ team lifted N-Prime from impound about 10 days after the most-recent accident.



“I’m guessing they do not see anything systemic here. That’s why they haven’t stopped us,” the N-Prime official said. Lockheed Martin technicians have begun installing thermal sensors onto the spacecraft in anticipation of moving it by shipping container to another building for thermal vacuum testing in August, the N-Prime official said. N-Prime is scheduled for launch in February 2009.


Delta 2 Launch of Dawn Postponed Until July 7

The Delta 2 launch of NASA’s asteroid-chasing Dawn spacecraft has been delayed until July 7 due to problems with a launch pad crane used to assemble the rocket and lift its payload into place.

Liftoff from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Station had been scheduled for June 30, but those plans had to be changed after the Pad 170-B crane broke down May 30, according to a U.S. Air Force official. There was no damage reported to either the rocket or the payload, which is being prepared for launch by Astrotech Space Operations under contract to Delta 2-builder United Launch Alliance.

Once launched, Dawn will begin an eight-year, 5.12-billion-kilometer




journey to the heart of the asteroid built to visit to dissimilar objects: asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

The roughly $450 million mission was canceled in early 2006 amid cost overruns, but top NASA officials reversed the decision following an appeal from the center in charge of the project, the Pasadena, Calif.-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The spacecraft was built by Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp.

2006 Satellite Industry Revenue Jumps 19.5%





Worldwide satellite industry revenue




grew at nearly twice the rate in 2006 as the previous five years, driven primarily by a big jump in manufacturing and continued strong performance in the services sector, according to a new industry survey.

Revenue




across the four major industry sectors was




$106.1 billion in 2006, a 19.5




percent increase over the previous year, the




Satellite Industry Association (SIA) said in its annual report on the state of the industry. The report is prepared by Futron Corp, which surveys the four main sectors of the satellite industry: manufacturing, launch, services and ground equipment.

David Cavossa, executive director of the SIA, provided a preview of the soon-to-be released report June 7 at the ISCe Satellite & Communications Conference in San Diego.



As in past years, satellite services, led by direct-to-home television broadcasting, accounted for the largest chunk of the industries’ revenues at $62 billion. That figure represents a 19




percent increase over the previous year, Cavossa said.



But the bigger story was satellite manufacturing, where revenue




jumped by more than 50 percent, to $12 billion, after experiencing a decline of nearly 24 percent




from 2004 to 2005. Satellite manufacturing revenue




typically is




booked when a




spacecraft is launched, and the SIA survey counted 101 payloads launched worldwide in 2006.

Despite the increase in the number of payloads placed into orbit, launch was the only industry sector that declined in 2006, Cavossa said. Revenue




in this sector dipped 10 percent, to $2.7 billion, due in part to the retirement of the high-priced Titan 4B rocket in 2005, Cavossa said.

The U.S. share of launch revenue




was just $1 billion in 2006, the survey found. “The United States is getting a smaller share of a smaller pie here,” Cavossa said.

Sales of satellite ground equipment grew by 14




percent in 2006, to $28.8 billion, Cavossa said.



Cavossa

Leaving SIA for Job with Arrowhead








David Cavossa, executive director of the Satellite Industry Association, will be leaving in mid




July to join one of the organization’s member companies, Arrowhead Global Solutions Inc., as vice president of government affairs.



Arrowhead of Fairfax, Va., is a communications solutions provider and one of the Pentagon’s three Defense Satellite Transmission Services-Global (DSTS-G) contractors. The DSTS-G companies procure commercial satellite capacity and associated services on behalf of U.S. military customers.

Cavossa
has been with the Satellite Industry Association, which represents satellite operators, manufacturers and ground-equipment suppliers, since 2001. He has led the Arlington, Va., group since June 2004.




WildBlue

Will Need More Satellite Capacity by 2010



WildBlue Communications Inc. of Denver, which provides consumer broadband services via satellite, is signing new customers at a rate that will require the deployment of additional capacity in about three years, according to David J. Leonard, the company’s chief executive officer.

The company has notified manufacturers of its potential interest in a new Ka-band satellite, but also is considering an arrangement in which it would lease capacity aboard a spacecraft built to its specifications but owned and operated by another firm, Leonard said. One potential partner in such an arrangement is Intelsat of Washington, a shareholder in WildBlue.

WildBlue
provides broadband services to consumers and small businesses in North America via its WildBlue 1 satellite, launched in December, as well as leased capacity aboard Telesat Canada’s Anik F2 satellite. Leonard said WildBlue 1 as a whole is about 5 percent booked, but that the satellite’s spot beams, particularly those covering the Midwest, are filling up at a rate that would see them completely booked in 18 to 24 months.




Boeing Completes Test of WGS Payload, Ground Link





Boeing Co. completed testing of the payload for the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) payload command and control system, according to a company news release dated June 5.





The testing featured a WGS ground station at the Camp Roberts Wideband Satellite Communications Operations Center in Paso Robles, Calif., connected with




a WGS satellite on the ground at Boeing’s El Segundo, Calif., satellite factory, according to the news release.


Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, said in the news release that the testing “closely simulated” the performance of both the WGS spacecraft, which is expected to launch this summer, and ground equipment.


USAF Gives Contractors More Funds, Time for AIRSS





The U.S. Air Force awarded contract modifications to two companies working on designs that could lead to a new generation of missile warning satellites, according to a Pentagon contract announcement dated June 4.

The modification added $8 million to a $24.8 million contract that Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., won in December, and $6.4 million to a $23.3 million contract that General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems of Gilbert, Ariz., received that same month for their work on the Alternative Infrared Satellite System (AIRSS) program.



Tonya Racasner, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a written response to questions that the contract modification exercises a planned option to allow the two companies to proceed toward a system definition review on the AIRSS effort.



The Air Force




originally had expected to need to launch the first AIRSS satellite in 2015, but that date could be revised to 2017, Racasner said.




Delaying the first launch of the satellites




also would be in keeping with concerns raised about the program by the House and Senate Armed Services




committees in their versions of the 2008 defense budget legislation, as well as an expected decision to purchase the third Space Based Infrared System




missile warning satellite, she said.


Lockheed Martin Completes Its Design Review of TMOS





Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services of Gaithersburg, Md., has successfully completed its system design review for the ground operations segment for the Transformation Satellite (T-Sat




) Communications System, according to a June 4 company news release.



Completion of the system design review for the T-Sat




Mission Operations System (TMOS) clears the way for the Air Force to issue a request for proposal for the final phase of the competition for the




T-Sat satellites, according to the news release.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems of St. Louis are competing to build the




T-Sat satellites, which




currently are expected to launch beginning in 2016. The T-Sat




contract is expected to be awarded in late 2007.

The TMOS system is intended to enable the T-Sat




satellites to plug into the Pentagon’s Global Information Grid to allow for improved military satellite communications around the world, according to the news release.

Ames Research Center Gets Computer System Upgrade





The IBM System p575+ supercomputer




is undergoing testing and evaluation at




NASA’s Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at




Ames Research Center




in Moffett Field, Calif.



The System p575+, which was developed by IBM of Armonk, N.Y., is being used to augment its Columbia system supercomputer, NASA announced in a June 6 press release. The contract price for the new IBM supercomputer was not




disclosed




.

The IBM supercomputer arrived the first week of May, said PiyushMehrotra, who leads the NAS applications group and managing the upgrade process, in a June 7 telephone interview.

At approximately 5.6 teraflops (a teraflop is a measure of a computer’s speed) the p575+ does not have the processing power of some of Columbia’s most powerful machines, according to Mehrotra. He said the computer is currently undergoing a




three-month evaluation period. “Our process is to get a small system, get a feel for what it’s good at,” Mehrotra said.

The addition of the p575+ is the first of a four-part effort to eventually replace the Columbia system, which was installed in 2004. Mehrotra said he expects Columbia to probably be replaced in 2009.

“With NASA’s high-end computing needs expected to continue during the next few years, we need to keep pace with improved technologies,” Mehrotra said in a prepared statement.

The IBM supercomputer will help with spacecraft design, climate modeling and astrophysics research.


JPL Software To Aid in Detecting Clogged Arteries





Technology developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.,




is providing medical doctors with a non-invasive means to monitor and diagnose the health of a patient’s arteries, NASA said in a June 6 press release.

Alone, standard carotid ultrasound analysis measures plaque buildup and blood flow within the artery. Coupled with the JPL’s ArterioVision software, the ultrasound measurement then can measure the thickness of the inner two layers of the carotid artery, the intima and the media.





The software,




developed through JPL’s Innovative Partnerships Program, a program designed to adapt NASA-developed technologies for the public good, is used to test people who do not have heart-related problems but might




be at risk for developing them in the future,




the release said.

The ArterioVision carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) procedure




was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April 2005, said Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Medical Technologies International Inc.,




which patented the software




. The




software enables the doctor to generate a CIMT measurement and compares the patient to others of the same age and sex to develop a risk profile.








NRAO Streamlines To Widen Access for Joint Use of Observatory, Space Telescope










The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has teamed with NASA to streamline the process for astronomers who want to use in tandem ground-based observatories and a new NASA space telescope scheduled to be launched in late 2007 or early 2008.





NASA’s Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), a




4,230-kilogram space telescope




is scheduled for launch no sooner than Dec. 14, the release said. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems of Gilbert, Ariz., built GLAST




for a five-year mission to study gamma-rays and their sources.



“By providing a simple procedure for astronomers to win observing time on radio telescopes to follow up on our new gamma-ray discoveries, we’re ensuring that we get the maximum scientific return from both,” said Steve Ritz, GLAST project scientist




at




NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,




Greenbelt, Md.



NRAO, a National Science Foundation research facility, operates the Very Large Array located in Socorro, N.M.;




the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in Green Bank, W.V.; and the Very Long Baseline Array




system
of ten telescope antennas across North America.





“Coordinated gamma-ray and radio observations of celestial objects will greatly enhance the ability to fully understand these objects,” NRAO Director Fred K.Y. Lo said in a prepared statement. “Astronomy today requires such multiwavelength




studies
, and this agreement paves the way for exciting, cutting-edge research.”







SOFIA Arrives at Dryden For 3-Year Test Program




NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) arrived May 31 at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center where it will spend the next three years undergoing flight tests before it begins


science operations.

The aircraft, a Boeing 747, spent the last several years in Waco, Texas, where contractor L-3 Communications Integrated Systems installed a 2.5-meter German-built telescope and made other major modifications, including adding a large retractable door that opens during flight.

NASA nearly canceled SOFIA in 2006




because of ongoing




budget and technical concerns, but ultimately decided to stick with the project, moving flight testing responsibility for the aircraft from




Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., south to Dryden. NASA has spent roughly $485 million on SOFIA since awarding the prime contract to Columbia, Md.-based Universities Space Research Association.

A NASA official said late last year that the project would cost an additional $250 million or so to finish. NASA expects SOFIA to be capable of remaining in service 20 years and deliver science on par with its other Great Observatory-class missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

Com Dev Building Stability Sensor for Webb Telescope





Com Dev International Ltd., a space hardware subsystems manufacturer, has begun production of an alignment device for the James Webb Space Telescope, the company announced June 4.

The Canadian Space Agency




awarded Cambridge, Ontario-based Com Dev




a contract for




39 million Canadian dollars ($36.




8 million)




April 30




to manufacture and test the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) for the Webb telescope.

The FGS will provide constant




directional data for the telescope, enabling it to maintain stability for improved image quality, according to




Com Dev’s Web site. Com Dev said FGS will provide precision better than one-millionth of one degree, or the equivalent of




a human hair from a distance of




3 kilometers




, the press release said.

Webb is a collaboration between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.





The FGS also will include a short-wavelength tunable filter camera, which






had been reported in November 2005scrapped to lighten




Webb’s weight load and ease its testing measures. The filter camera will detect very specific light wavelengths emitted by celestial bodies.






AeroAstro

Finishes Design Review for STP-SIV Program



AeroAstro has


successfully completed its preliminary design review




for a U.S. Air Force satellite program,




the company said in a June 4 press release.

AeroAstro
, along with Broad Reach Engineering of Tempe, Ariz., is a subcontractor for the Space Test Program Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV), a more flexible and lower cost small satellite capable of being launched aboard many different types of rockets.





Prime contractor Ball Aerospace




and Technologies of Boulder, Colo., was awarded a base contract of $26 million from U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in 2006. The contract contains an option for a total of six satellites.

AeroAstro
is responsible for providing satellite integration, launch, mission operation support and the satellite’s platform, or bus,




which is based on the AeroAstro STPSat-1 satellite bus.

AeroAstro
provided the analytical results of all




bus subsystems for the STP-SIV during the three-day review February 27-March 1 at its headquarters in Ashburn, Va., the release said.



The first




STP-SIV




is scheduled to host an experimental sensor and launch in 2009




.

NASA’s Messenger Captures Images During Venus Flyby



NASA’s Messenger [MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging] spacecraft made its closest pass to Venus June 5 and gathered data in conjunction with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express mission, according to a June 5 press releases from NASA and a June 4 press release from ESA.





Messenger, which was built and is operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of Laurel, Md.,




launched August 2004 on a Boeing Delta 2 rocket on a 7-year mission




to study Venus and Mercury




.



The orbiter will use the planet’s gravity to decrease its speed from




36.3 kilometers per second to 27.7 kilometers per second




to position the spacecraft for the trip




to




Mercury. Messenger will fly through a window about 337 kilometers above Venus’ surface.

“Typically, spacecraft have used planetary flybys to speed toward the outer solar system,” said Andy Calloway, Messenger mission operations manager at APL. “[Messenger], headed in the opposite direction, needs to slow down enough to slip into orbit around Mercury.”

Unlike its first Venus flyby in October 2006, Messenger will take observations and collect data from the planet. The previous time the sun was between Venus and Earth, which prevented the spacecraft from communicating with its operators and sending back data.





During this flyby




Messenger spent 30 hours




capturing observations of Venus’ surface, plasma environment, atmosphere, upper cloud layers and oxygen airglow, which makes the planet phosphoresce.







Space Foundation Plans To Conduct ITAR Impact Survey






The Space Foundation will be conducting a survey of space industry officials to determine the impact of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on








U.S. companies




, according to




a June 4 Foundation press release.

The ITAR compliance survey is




targeted toward




senior executives and program managers across all aspects of the space industry, including manufacturers, launch services and satellite providers, Kendra Horn, Space Foundation spokeswoman, said in a June 7 telephone interview




.

Since Congress shifted jurisdiction for communications satellite exports




from the Commerce Department to the State Department




in 1999, many in the space industry have complained that the switch has made




it more difficult for




U.S. companies to compete internationally.

“The goal of our survey is to capture credible, concrete data on the costs of ITAR compliance,” Marty Hauser, vice president of Washington operations, research and analysis for the Space Foundation, said in a prepared statement.

The Space Foundation expects to get results from the ITAR survey sometime this fall, Horn said.





Astrium

Satellites Get Deal To Manufacture Amazonas-2





Satellite-fleet operator Hispasat of Spain has contracted with Astrium Satellites to build a large Amazonas-2 telecommunications spacecraft to be placed into orbit in 2009 to add capacity to Hispasat’s South American market, Astrium announced June 6.

Amazonas-2 will be operated from 61 degrees west longitude in a Brazil-registered slot now occupied by the Astrium-built Amazonas satellite, which




was launched in August 2004 but has suffered a slow fuel leak that will force it into retirement before 2014.

Amazonas-2 will be an AstriumEurostar E3000 satellite frame carrying 54 Ku-band and 10 C-band transponders. The satellite is expected to weigh 5,400 kilograms at launch.

Madrid-based Hispasat, which is minority-owned by satellite-fleet operator Eutelsat Communications of Paris, reported in May that Amazonas was 88 percent filled and had been a key driver of the company’s 2006 revenue growth.

The Amazonas satellite now in operation, also built by Astrium, was supposed to continue to provide service for 15 years after launch, meaning until 2019. But a fuel leak that was spotted just after launch has reduced its expected operations to less than 10 years.





ISRO Expands Reach with New Brazilian Earth Station






Marking its presence for the first time in Latin America, the Indian Space Research Organi




sation
(ISRO) will equip a Brazilian




Earth station with instruments that will




enable it to receive and process data from India’s remote sensing satellites, ISRO spokesman S. Krishnamurthy told Space News. He said ISRO signed an agreement to this effect




June 4 in New Delhi with its Brazilian counterpart during a




visit to India by




Brazilian president LuizInacio Lula da Silva.

The agreement is the result




of




discussions that an Indian delegation led by ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair earlier had with representatives of the Brazilian Space Agency in May.







Krishnamurthy said the deal “is not commercial in nature but purely on a cooperative basis except for the fact that Brazil will pay for the data (imageries) received.” The agreement covers exchange of space scientists.









Saab Gets First Order from Loral for Satellite Receivers


Saab Space of Sweden has filled a big gap in its customer portfolio with a first order for telecommunications satellite receivers and converters from Space Systems/Loral, Saab Space was expected to announce June 11.

Saab Space will deliver four Ku-band receivers and 19 Ku-band frequency converters to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Space Systems/Loral in early 2008 to be integrated into the Nimiq 5 and NSS-12 satellites Loral is building for Telesat Canada and SES New Skies, respectively.

“Years of marketing efforts and of proving ourselves … to major satellite integrators now bear fruit,” said BengtSundh, director of telecom satellite sales at Saab Space. “The fact that we now have most satellite prime contractors as customers enables us to be more cost-efficient to the benefit of all parties.”

Saab Space now has three of the four principal U.S. satellite prime contractors as customers – Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Loral. Company officials say they are hopeful that Orbital Sciences Corp. will one day be a customer. In Europe, Saab Space is a regular supplier to Astrium Satellites. The other big European prime contractor, ThalesAlenia Space, has an in-house receiver and converter production facility.

Saab Space




also was expected to announce that it has won a contract with Northro




p Grumman Space Technology to supply two telemetry antennas for NASA’s Northro




p-built LCROSS – lunar crater observation and sensing satellite – to be launched in late 2008. The antennas, whose technology borrows heavily from similar gear Saab Space provided for Europe’s Smart-1 lunar orbiter, are to be delivered to Northro




p’s Redondo Beach, Calif., site late this year.







NASA To Launch Shuttle to Hubble in September 2008





The fifth and final repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope has been slated for launch Sept. 10, 2008, NASA announced June 7.

A seven-person crew from the Space Shuttle Atlantis will make the necessary repairs and upgrades during an 11-day mission. The servicing should keep the telescope operable through 2013 when the James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch.

The Endeavour will be in position to launch, if the crew of Atlantis needs to be rescued.

Since its initial launch in April 1990, Hubble has become a space icon. More than 6,300 scientific papers have been written using data gathered by Hubble, according to the NASA Web site.