News Briefs


  Space News Business

News Briefs

posted: 01 March 2005
04:58 pm ET

ESA‘s Cluster Mission is Extended Through 2009

The European Space Agency (ESA) has extended the Cluster sci�entific mission through 2009 to per�form additional measurements, ESA announced Feb. 18.

The four identical Cluster satel�lites (above) were launched in pairs in July and August 2000 on a mission to study solar wind and its interaction with the protective magnetic shield that surrounds Earth. The Cluster satellites fly in formation between 200 kilometers and 19,000 kilome�ters from each other, and perform their studies in conjunction with ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Obser�vatory spacecraft.

The Cluster mission, originally funded for two years, currently is op�erating under a three-year extension. During the new four-year extension, the distance between the spacecraft in the formation will be altered to allow Cluster to perform the first measurements of space plasmas on small and large scales simultaneously, and study new regions of space previ�ously unexplored by the mission . The latest extension is funded at 30 mil�lion euros ($39.8 million).



RT Logic Ships Parts for NPOESS Control System

RT Logic of Colorado Springs, Colo., has delivered components for the ground sys�tem that will be used to control the next gen�eration of U.S. polar-orbiting weather satel�lites, the company announced Feb. 14.

RT Logic, a subsidiary of Integral Sys�tems Inc. of Lanham, Md., is providing the command, control and communication seg�ment for the National Polar-orbiting Opera�tional Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), which is being jointly developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmos�pheric Administration and the Air Force.

The RT Logic-supplied systems will man�age the overall mission, including opera�tions and data delivery. RT Logic developed six payload pre-processor systems and five telemetry and command modems, which will be installed at ground stations in Sval�bard, Norway.

Raytheon’s Intelligence and Informa�tion Systems unit in Aurora, Colo., is pro�viding the NPOESS ground system for over�all prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif.

The first spacecraft is scheduled for launch before the end of 2009.

NASA and Navy to Share Info on Safety Procedures

NASA and the U.S. Navy have signed an agreement to share information on their safety polices and procedures, NASA an�nounced Feb. 16.

Under the memorandum of agreement between NASA’s Office of Safety and Mis�sion Assurance and the Naval Sea Systems Command, personnel from the two organi�zations will participate in audits of manage�ment programs and projects performed by each other.

Under previous agreements, NASA per�sonnel have observed an audit of a subma�rine safety program, while Navy personnel participated in a space shuttle return to flight safety and mission assurance audit.

EMS to Supply System for Russian Telecom Network

EMS Technologies Inc. won a contract to provide a broadband satellite network sub�system to Russia’s Morsviazsputnik organiza�tion, EMS announced Feb. 16.

EMS’s Satellite Networks division, based in Montreal, will deliver a DVB-RCS system to be installed in Russia. Such systems allow satellite operators to offer broadband serv�ices such as Internet access, video confer�encing and wireless networking to cus�tomers via satellite. The EMS system can provide download speeds of up to 45 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 4 megabits per second. Terms of the contract were not released by EMS.

Army Extends Northrop’s Work on Weather System

Northrop Grumman received a one-year follow-on contract from the U.S. Army to continue development of a system that pro�vides weather information to troops in the field , the company announced Feb. 15.

Under the extension, Northrop Grum�man’s Information Technology Sector of McLean, Va., will integrate off-the-shelf soft�ware into the Integrated Meteorological Sys�tem, which includes self-contained termi�nals that can be vehicle-mounted or carried by soldiers. The new software will improve the system’s forecasting capabilities .

Northrop Grumman also will develop new interfaces to support additional sensor input and satellite data communications as well as software to allow the units to share information via the Army’s Internet-style network.

Northrop Grumman has been the sys�tem integrator for the Integrated Meteoro�logical System since 1992. The latest follow-on contract, worth $5.9 million for the first year of work, includes five option years.

Odin Scientific Mission Extended for Fifth Year

The Odin international science mission has been extended for a fifth year, Swedish Space Corp., which built the satellite plat�form, announced Feb. 15.

Odin, launched into a 600-kilometer or�bit in February 2001, carries instruments de�veloped by Canada, Finland and France to study the upper atmosphere as well as survey interstellar space for water and oxygen. The spacecraft was designed to operate for two years and spends half of its time pointed to�ward Earth and half pointed toward space.

The extension will allow Odin to contin�ue its observations until April 2006, Swedish Space Corp. of Kiruna, Sweden, said.

Tut to Supply Equipment for Space Shuttle Data System

United Space Alliance awarded a con�tract to Tut Systems Inc. for a broadband network that will supply information on NASA’s space shuttle, Tut Systems an�nounced Feb. 22.

Tut Systems, located in Lake Oswego, Ore., will deliver broadband network equip�ment that will be integrated into a ground measurement system at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The hardware will be installed on three mobile launcher platforms and provide data to the launch control center. Tut Systems spokesman Jeff Schline de�clined to discuss any aspects of the contract.

Houston-based United Space Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., maintains and operates the space shuttle orbiters for NASA.

Apache Corp. Enters Into DigitalGlobe Partnership

Oil and gas exploration company Apache Corp. has joined DigitalGlobe’s En�terprise Partner Program, DigitalGlobe an�nounced Feb. 22.

The Enterprise Partner program, launched in September 2004, offers partici�pants easier access to geospatial information and products developed by Longmont, Colo.,-based DigitalGlobe. Partners pay an annual fee for access to DigitalGlobe’s satel�lite imagery archive as well as future imagery acquisitions.

Apache, headquartered in Houston, also has operations in Canada, the United King�dom, the North Sea, Egypt and western Aus�tralia.

NOAA Issues Contract for Remote Sensing Survey

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmos�pheric Administration (NOAA) awarded a contract to Global Marketing Insights Inc. to perform market research in remote sensing technology, the company an�nounced Feb. 22.

Under the Survey and Analysis of the Remote Sensing Market in Aerial and Spaceborne applications contract, Cleve�land-based Global Marketing will study the political, economic and technical trends that will influence the global remote mar�ket over the next decade. The study is ex�pected to be completed by the end of 2005, the company said.

Raymarine Introducing DTH Receiver for Boats

Raymarine of Nashua, N.H., plans to offer a new satellite television system for boaters, the company announced Feb. 17.

The Raymarine 45 Satellite TV System, which is scheduled to be available in North America this spring and in Europe this summer, is compatible with all direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television servic�es, Raymarine said.

The antenna is housed in a 45-cen�timeter-tall dome, and the company plans to unveil a 60-centimeter product by the end of 2005, which could pick up weaker signals.

SES Americom Network |To Utilize ViaSat Equipment

ViaSat Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif., will supply a two-way broadband satellite networking system to SES Americom, ViaSat announced Feb. 15.

ViaSat will provide its Surfbeam Ku-band satellite terminals to allow SES Americom of Princeton, N.J., to expand its networking services.

The multiyear deal includes a gateway, terminals and support services through Vi�aSat’s Network Operations Center. Finan�cial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Northrop Grumman UAV Manufacturing Facility To Produce Global Hawk Components

Northrop Grumman Corp. is expanding the work planned for its unmanned systems facility in Jackson Coun�ty, Miss., to include the manufacturing of components for the U.S. Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial ve�hicle (UAV) , according to a company news release issued on Feb. 18.

The facility, initially designed to manufacture Fire Scout unmanned helicopters (above) for the U.S. Army and Navy, will more than double in size to handle the Glob�al Hawk work.

The Fire Scout UAV can provide surveillance, reconnais�sance, communications relay and targeting capabilities . The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft that provides high-resolution imagery to military commanders.

Manufacturing operations of the components for both vehicles are expected to begin in January 2006. Final assem�bly and testing of Global Hawk UAVs will continue at the Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Palmdale, Calif.

Budget Hit List Includes Space, Missile Defense

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) tagged some of the Pentagon’s biggest missile defense and space pro�grams as ripe for termination in a list of options for members of Congress look�ing to reduce the federal budget.

Those options include halting development of the U.S. national mis�sile defense system after fielding the ini�tial test bed in Alaska and California. The planned follow-on activities in�clude more radar sensors and intercep�tors for use with those two sites as well as a third interceptor base, according to the report.

Canceling the follow-on work on the Ground Based Midcourse Defense sys�tem would enable the Pentagon to iron out the kinks in the existing system and maintain a limited capability to defend against a missile launched from North Korea, according to the CBO report.

This could save $13 billion through 2015, according to the report, dubbed “Budget Options” and released in Feb�ruary .

Another option is terminating the Airborne Laser, which features a modi�fied Boeing 747 aircraft that would use a directed energy beam to shoot down ballistic missiles in their boost phase. Eliminating that program could save $2 billion through 2009, the CBO said.

The report noted that the laser sys�tem thus far has not generated suffi�cient power to disable ballistic missiles at long ranges, and the aircraft could be vulnerable to enemy fire if forced to op�erate closer to missile-launching sites. Ground- or sea-based interceptors might be able to perform the same mis�sion at a lower cost and with a less risky development path, according to the re�port.

Another option involves canceling the U.S. Air Force’s Space Radar satel�lite development effort . The Air Force currently plans to spend $2.2 billion on the development of those satellites from 2006 through 2009, according to Air Force budget documents .

The Space Radar program is facing technical challenges with its power sys�tems, and airborne platforms may pro�vide a better vantage point for surveil�lance of the ground, according to the report.

Pentagon Awards Will Aid University Research

The U.S. Defense Department in�tends to make $43.9 million worth of awards to 108 academic institutions for the purchase of research instrumenta�tion, according to a Feb. 18 Pentagon press release.

There will be 212 awards under the Defense University Research Instru�mentation Program (DURIP), with award values ranging from $60,000 to $990,000 for an average of $207,000. The DURIP program is intended to support purchases of equipment that enhance a university’s defense-related research capabilities.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The awards are intended to support research capabili�ties in areas such as information tech�nology, propulsion, remote sensing in�strumentation and advanced materials.

Sirius Satellite Radio Lures NASCAR Away from Rival XM

Sirius Satellite Radio signed a five-year broadcasting and marketing agree�ment with the U.S. National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), snatching the popular sport from rival XM Satellite Radio, Sirius announced Feb. 22.

New York-based Sirius will begin broadcasting races and other NASCAR events in 2007 under the $107.5 million deal. The two organizations will devel�op a marketing campaign, and Sirius will be allowed to sell advertising time on the NASCAR channel it will create.

The deal will take effect when NASCAR’s current agreement with XM of Washington, signed in January 2000, expires at the end of the 2006 season.

XM and Sirius have engaged in a content duel as they seek to secure ex�clusive programming deals in order to distinguish their respective satellite ra�dio offerings.

Previous agreements mainly have been revenue-sharing deals with small fixed payments, but the companies have begun to pay cash to land estab�lished stars and programming . Sirius will pay $500 million to broadcast radio personality Howard Stern and gave the National Football League $188 million in cash and $32 million in stock for broadcast rights. XM will pay $650 mil�lion to broadcast Major League Base�ball for the next 11 years.

The shift by NASCAR could signal another rise in programming costs for both companies as they begin to renew existing arrangements , according to Alden Mahabir, an analyst with Vintage Research of New York .

“We cannot help but wonder if un�due competition will ultimately spell problems for both XM and Sirius,” Ma�habir said in a written note to investors. “With respect to NASCAR specifically, we believe Sirius is paying significantly more than XM, but do not know XM’s cost specifics.”

While the NASCAR shift could have an impact on subscriber expectations for the two companies, Mahabir said it was too early to alter forecasts.

U.S. Renews Radarsat’s Landsat Products Deal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture exercised its final option on a contract with Radarsat International for crop-monitoring products based on data col�lected by the U.S. government’s Land�sat 7 satellite, the company announced Feb. 23.

Radarsat International of Rich�mond, British Columbia, obtains Land�sat 7 imagery from the U.S. Geological Survey, which operates the satellite and is responsible for distributing and stor�ing the data that it collects.

Brad Dorn, remote sensing coordi�nator for the Crop Assessment Division within the Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service, said Con�gress mandated that funding for agency’s Landsat 7 data-purchasing program be funneled through a com�mercial company, and Radarsat submit�ted the lowest bid.

The value of the one-year option is $750,000, bringing the total value of the five-year deal to $3.8 million.