Home   News Index

Satellite News

Water in western U.S. measured from the sky; Satellites track land's consumption

Water management is serious business in the American West, where precipitation is scarce, irrigated agriculture is a major industry, new housing subdivisions spread across arid landscapes and water rights are allocated in a complicated seniority system. "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," water officials are fond of saying. But measurement -- trying to determine how much water is diverted from rivers and how much is pumped from hundreds of thousands of wells -- has been an inexact and expensive science. Now a tool developed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the University of Idaho is changing the face of water management and conservation by efficiently offering specific measurements of the water consumed across a large region or single field. The program, called METRIC for Mapping EvapoTranspiration with High Resolution and Internalized Calibration, was launched in 2000 with a NASA/Raytheon Synergy Project grant and is used by 11 states. Full Story   Washington Post_ 9/14/09

Venezuela's space agency part of elite Latin American satellite group, thanks to China

Last October, a new Chinese-built US$241 million communications satellite called Simon Bolivar or Venesat-1 was launched from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China on a CZ-3B rocket. It is owned by Venezuela. Uruguay also obtained a 10% stake in this satellite because Venesat-1 now occupies an orbital slot - essentially a parking space for a satellite approximately around 35,900 kilometers above Earth - assigned to Uruguay. Thanks to this Chinese-built satellite, Venezuela's space agency - known as the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities - has now joined an elite group in Latin America with working satellites. This elite includes Mexico, Brazil - which has enjoyed strong ties for many years with China in space - and Argentina. The pattern to date for China has been to pursue space-related agreements with countries holding vast energy and other natural resources like Brazil, Nigeria and now Venezuela.   Full Story   Asia Times_ 8/6/09

Space forecast predicts satellite production boom

A 10-year forecast of satellite and launcher markets has good news and bad news for hardware manufacturers: There will be many more satellites to build and launch, but the average manufacturing and launch price will increase only marginally, if at all, and may even drop after accounting for inflation. The 12th World Market Survey of satellite construction and launch trends produced by Euroconsult of Paris looks at the likely government and commercial satellite and launch landscape for the 10 years ending in 2018 and compares it to the 10 years ending in 2008.   Full Story   Space.com_ 6/15/09

Gravity satellite feels the force

Europe's innovative Goce satellite has switched on the super-sensitive instrument that will make ultra-fine measurements of Earth's gravity.  The sophisticated gradiometer will feel the subtle variations in Earth's tug as it sweeps around the globe.  Gravity data can tell scientists about the nature of the Earth's interior.  FULL STORY_BBC 4/7/09

U.S. and Russian satellites collide
In an unprecedented space collision, a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite ran into each other Tuesday above northern Siberia, creating a cloud of wreckage, officials said today. The international space station does not appear to be threatened by the debris, they said, but it's not yet clear whether it poses a risk to any other military or civilian satellites. "They collided at an altitude of 790 kilometers (491 miles) over northern Siberia Tuesday about noon Washington time," said Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The U.S. space surveillance network detected a large number of debris from both objects." 


New NASA satellite technology tracks global ice

Between 1.5 trillion and 2 trillion tons of ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted at an accelerating rate since 2003, according to NASA scientists, in the latest signs of what they say is global warming. Using new satellite technology that measures changes in mass in mountain glaciers and ice sheets, NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke concluded that the losses amounted to enough water to fill the Chesapeake Bay 21 times. Luthcke will present his findings this week at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, California. NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission uses two orbiting satellites to measure the "mass balance" of a glacier, or the net annual difference between ice accumulation and ice loss.   Full Story   CNN_ 12/16/08

Privately-financed SpaceX has third launch failure; Hoped to transport satellites for NASA and DOD

A privately funded rocket suffered a launch failure Saturday night, the third launch failure in as many attempts for an Internet entrepreneur who is hoping to develop private space delivery and transportation. The failure occurred about two minutes after the launch of the two-stage Falcon 1 rocket, which was manufactured by Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX. A failure prevented the two stages from separating after the launch from a central Pacific atoll, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a company blog. Musk, who co-founded PayPal and sold it to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, co-founded SpaceX that same year and secured a contract with NASA to replace the space shuttle after 2010 in servicing the International Space Station. The Falcon rocket was carrying three satellites for NASA and the Department of Defense. The failure marks the third time in a little more than two years that SpaceX fell short of orbiting Earth post launch.   Full Story   CNET_ 8/3/08

NASA considers student-led satellite projects

NASA is considering the development of a university-based, student-led satellite development initiative to begin passing the space exploration torch to a new generation. The American Student Moon Orbiter, or ASMO, concept invites students, faculty and industry leaders in the U.S. with experience in university-based, student-led spaceflight projects to respond to a Request for Information which is planned for release this month and will remain open for at least 90 days. The orbiter will be a small satellite that could orbit the moon and carry scientific instruments designed and developed by students. It is aligned with NASA's lunar exploration agenda. Under the ASMO concept, teams would learn directly from NASA mentors as part of a diverse, nationwide, higher education initiative that enables students to design, build, launch, operate and own a small spacecraft and its payload.  Full Story  NASA News Release_ 7/2/08

Bidding opens for the EU's Galileo Satellite Navigation System

A network of 30 navigation satellites will be discharged into space with the goal that by 2013 a European navigation system will provide signals worldwide. Like the U.S.'s military-run Global Positioning System the Galileo network of satellites will orbit the Earth and send down radio signals to receiving devices which will help people anywhere in the world recognize their exact location. Galileo will have six more satellites than GPS making it more precise. The much-delayed, EUR3.4 billion project will be publicly funded, after private aerospace and defense companies, the initial financiers, backed out doubting profitability.  Full Story  Dow Jones/NASDAQ_ 7/1/08

Boeing loses GPS satellite contract to Lockheed Martin

In another blow to Boeing Co.'s battered defense business, the U.S. Air Force on Thursday tapped rival Lockheed Martin Corp. for a contract potentially worth more than $3.5 billion to build a new generation of global positioning satellites. Chicago-based Boeing, which has a huge workforce in Southern California, would have made the satellites in El Segundo. The loss of the contract, known as Global Positioning System IIIA, was Boeing's third high-profile defeat in as many months. The company lost a $35-billion contest to build aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force in February and a $3.74-billion award to build unmanned spy planes for the Navy in April.  Full Story   Los Angeles Times_ 5/16/08 (logon required)

India launches 10 satellites in a day

India's space agency launched 10 satellites on Monday mainly belonging to Germany and Canada, the Indian Space Research Organisation said, boosting its space research capabilities. The satellites were carried into space by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle which blasted off from a space centre off the country's eastern coast near the southern city of Chennai. The Indian-made Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite, which is fitted with a high resolution camera for recording clear images from space was the main satellite launched, an ISRO spokesman said from the southern city of Bangalore. High resolution images and data from the satellite will be used to manage infrastructure and natural resources in the country, officials said. Full Story    Reuters_ 4/28/08

Canada bars sale of satellite maker to U.S. buyer

The Canadian government blocked the sale of the countryfs large space equipment and satellite maker to Alliant Techsystems of Minneapolis on Thursday. The $1.3 billion bid for the space operations of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates is the first takeover rejected under Canadafs 23-year-old foreign investment law. The proposal raised sensitive issues about Canadafs Arctic sovereignty that crossed party lines. It also revived a debate about control of Canadafs aerospace industry that stretches back to a 1959 decision to cancel the development of a Canadian fighter jet in favor of purchasing American aircraft. The move was all the more surprising given that it came from a Conservative government that has sought warm relations with the Bush administration and generally dismissed nationalist sentiment.  Full Story  New York Times_ 4/10/08 (logon required)

General Dynamics awarded $109 million Army contract for WIN-T Satellite Communications Terminals

General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies has been awarded $109 million from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J., to provide specialized satellite communications earth terminals and support services for Increment One of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program. Under the contract, General Dynamics will provide the U.S. Army 299 Satellite Transportable Terminals (STT) and two Unit Hub SATCOM Trucks (UHST). General Dynamics will also supply Ka-band upgrade kits and spares. The next-generation STT terminal can be configured to operate over Ku or Ka Band satellite frequencies. The new UHST provides Ku or Ka Band operation and increased modem capacity. Both the new STT and UHST are interoperable with previously fielded units. The SATCOM terminal award for WIN-T Increment One was made through the Armyfs World-Wide Satellite Systems (WWSS) contract vehicle managed by the Commercial Satellite Terminal Program (CSTP), which provides communications systems capable of overcoming bandwidth constraints for Department of Defense transformation programs worldwide.  Full Story  News Release_ 4/8/08

General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies selected to provide satellite-based communications systems and services to the U.S. Navy

General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies is one of seven contractors selected by the U.S. Navy to provide satellite communications systems and services under a potential five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract. The contract has no initial award value to General Dynamics; it has a maximum potential value of $490 million to all awardees if all options are exercised. The equipment and services will be used by the Navy to enable satellite-based voice, video and data communications across various frequency bands. The program is managed by the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C. General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies is a part of General Dynamics C4 Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD). Under terms of the contract, SATCOM Technologies will provide a variety of multi-band tactical satellite terminals and the systems it takes to run the terminals, including hardware, software and related services. Services will range from operations to logistics support.  Full Story  News Release_ 3/7/08

Pentagon declares satellite shootdown a success

The Pentagon declared on Monday that its mission to blast apart a defunct spy satellite with a missile fired from a Navy warship had been a success. The strike took place 247 km (153.5 miles) above the Pacific Ocean last Wednesday as the satellite sped through space at more than 17,000 mph (27,000 kph), according to U.S. officials. "By all accounts this was a successful mission," Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement. Cartwright said analysis of debris supported the initial conclusion that the missile had most probably destroyed the satellite's tank of hazardous hydrazine fuel as intended. The operation was the first time a sea-based missile has been used to hit a satellite, according to experts. The United States and the Soviet Union conducted anti-satellite tests in the Cold War but used other techniques.  Full Story  Reuters_ 2/24/08

US to try to shoot down dying spy satellite

Taking a page from Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon said Thursday it will try to shoot down a dying, bus-sized U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel on a collision course with the Earth. The military hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week — just before it enters Earth's atmosphere — with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean. The dramatic maneuver may well trigger international concerns, and U.S. officials have begun notifying other countries of the plan — stressing that it does not signal the start of a new American anti-satellite weapons program. Military and administration officials said the satellite is carrying fuel called hydrazine that could injure or even kill people who are near it when it hits the ground. That reason alone, they said, convinced President Bush to order the shoot-down.  Full Story  AP/Google_ 2/14/08

U.S. spy satellite, power gone, may hit Earth

A disabled American spy satellite is rapidly descending and is likely to plunge to Earth by late February or early March, posing a potential danger from its debris, officials said Saturday. Officials said that they had no control over the nonfunctioning satellite and that it was unknown where the debris might land. Specialists who follow spy satellite operations suspect it is an experimental imagery satellite built by Lockheed Martin and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in December 2006 aboard a Delta II rocket. Shortly after the satellite reached orbit, ground controllers lost the ability to control it and were never able to regain communication. “It’s not necessarily dead, but deaf,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an analyst of various government space programs. It is fairly common for satellites to drop out of orbit and enter Earth’s atmosphere, but most break up before they reach the surface, Mr. McDowell said. Such incidents occur every few months, and it is often difficult to control the satellite’s trajectory or its re-entry into the atmosphere. The debris, if any survives the fiery descent, typically lands in remote areas and causes little or no harm. Of particular concern in this case, however, is that the debris from the satellite may include hydrazine fuel, which is typically used for rocket maneuvers in space. Much of the fuel on the experimental satellite may not have been used and, should the tank survive re-entry into the atmosphere, the remaining fuel would be hazardous to anyone on the ground. It is likely, however, that the tank may rupture on re-entry, and that the fuel would burn off in a fiery plume that would be visible to the naked eye.  Full Story  New York Times_ 1/27/08 (logon required)

December, 2007

Russia launches final satellites for its own GPS
Russia successfully launched a rocket on Tuesday carrying the last three satellites to complete a navigation system to rival America's GPS.  The military-run GLONASS mapping system works over most of Russia and is expected to cover the globe by the end of 2009, once all its 24 navigational satellites are operating.  A space rocket blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on the steppes of neighbouring ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, from which Russia rents the facility.  FULL STORY_ Reuters 12/26/07

New York Times investigation: Failure to Launch, death of a spy satellite program

By May 2002, the government’s effort to build a technologically audacious new generation of spy satellites was foundering. The contractor building the satellites, Boeing, was still giving Washington reassuring progress reports. But the program was threatening to outstrip its $5 billion budget, and pivotal parts of the design seemed increasingly unworkable. Peter B. Teets, the new head of the nation’s spy satellite agency, appointed a panel of experts to examine the secret project, telling them, according to one member, “Find out what’s going on, find the terrible truth I suspect is out there.” The panel reported that the project, called Future Imagery Architecture, was far behind schedule and would most likely cost $2 billion to $3 billion more than planned, according to records from the satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office. It took two more years, several more review panels and billions more dollars before the government finally killed the project — perhaps the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects. The story behind that failure has remained largely hidden, like much of the workings of the nation’s intelligence establishment. But an investigation by The New York Times found that the collapse of the project, at a loss of at least $4 billion, was all but inevitable — the result of a troubled partnership between a government seeking to maintain the supremacy of its intelligence technology, but on a constrained budget, and a contractor all too willing to make promises it ultimately could not keep.   Full Story  New York Times_ 11/11/07 (logon required)

NASA ends successful FUSE satellite mission

After an eight-year run that gave astronomers a completely new perspective on the universe, NASA has concluded the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer mission. The satellite, known as FUSE, became inoperable in July when the satellite lost its ability to point accurately and steadily at areas of interest. NASA will terminate the mission Oct. 18. "FUSE accomplished all of its mission goals and more," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "FUSE vastly increased our understanding of our galaxy's evolution and many exotic phenomena and left a strong legacy on which to build the next generation of investigations and missions." Launched in 1999, FUSE helped scientists answer important questions about the conditions in the universe immediately following the Big Bang, how chemicals disperse throughout galaxies, and the composition of interstellar gas clouds that form stars and solar systems. FUSE was a joint mission of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the French Space Agency, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales. The Johns Hopkins University built the telescope and managed the mission. The University of Colorado, Boulder, built FUSE's spectrograph. The University of California, Berkeley, made the detectors.  Full Story NASA news release_ 10/17/07

Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe satellite detects gaping hole in the universe

The giant hole is devoid of galaxies, stars and even lacks dark matter, astronomers said on Thursday. The team at the University of Minnesota said the void is nearly a billion light-years across and they have no idea why it is there. Writing in the Astrophysical Journal, astronomy professor Lawrence Rudnick and colleagues Shea Brown and Liliya Williams said they were examining a cold spot using the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe satellite, and found the giant hole. The astronomers said the region even appeared to lack dark matter, which cannot be seen directly but is usually detected by measuring gravitational forces. The void is in a region of sky in the constellation Eridanus, southwest of Orion.  Full Story  Reuters_ 8/23/07

China develops Beidou satellite monitoring system for dangerous chemicals transportation: Report
The system, which has passed experts review, provides all-day data of dangerous chemicals transportation to Beidou navigation satellite and gives corresponding operational order, the Beijing Times said. Scores of sensors, equipped on every vehicle transporting dangerous chemicals, collect data and information of the vehicle as well as road condition. It even can report a traffic accident or detect the presence of alcohol in the driver. All the information are stored in a black box and transmitted to the satellite timely and corresponding operational signals are sent to the land control center. China sent its fourth Beidou navigation satellite on Feb. 3 this year to provide all-weather and all-day navigation and positioning information.  Full Story  Beijing Times/XinHua/People's Daily_ 8/13/07

Microsatellites may 'pose global threat'
A satellite, no bigger that a domestic fridge, blasts into orbit from a secret military launch site.  Controlled from the ground, it stealthily moves towards the satellite of a rogue enemy country. Suddenly it explodes, destroying the second satellite and shutting down the communication capability of the country instantly.  It may sound like the beginning of a James Bond film, but scientists in the US have warned about the potential misuse of satellite technology.  Weighing less than 100kg, microsatellites provide GPS navigation, weather predictions, and Earth observation just like traditional satellites, but they are faster to build and much cheaper. The high manoeuvrability of microsats enables them to perform tricky tasks such as refuelling and fixing satellites already in orbit, or correcting their trajectory to keep them on the right spot.  Microsatellites could also be used in more destructive circumstances. Being so small they are difficult to detect. Their movement in space is much nimbler than "full size" satellites, which can be as large as a bus.  FULL STORY_BBC NEWS 7/20/07

UK's BC Partners buys Intelsat majority stake for $4.6 billion

UK-based private equity firm BC Partners agreed on Tuesday to buy a majority stake in Intelsat Ltd., the world's largest commercial satellite operator, for $4.6 billion cash. The private equity group is buying a 76 percent stake in Intelsat, leaving the current private equity owners Apax Partners (APAX.UL: Quote, Profile, Research), Permira (PERM.UL: Quote, Profile, Research), Apollo Management and Madison Dearborn Partners, as well as management, with a 24 percent stake. Intelsat has a fleet of 51 satellites 36,000 km above the earth which provide fixed satellite services to media, network services and government sectors, according to its Web site.  Full Story Reuters_ 6/19/07

General Dynamics' SATCOM Technologies trailer to highlight outdoor booth #202 at AFCEA 2007

The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Tactical C4 Conference and Exposition is in Atlanta April 23-25. General Dynamics' Warrior™ 240T/TMST meets and exceeds the rigorous draft specifications for the Joint Network Node Satellite Transportable Terminal (JNN STT). Produced by General Dynamics' SATCOM Technologies, the Warrior 240T/Trailer Mounted SATCOM Terminal (TMST) can be configured for either SATCOM or Troposcatter Communications by operating over C, Ku, Ka and X-Band frequencies. It provides transmit and receive data rates up to 155 megabits per second and can be set up in less than 20-minutes. Chris Buck, Director of Government Programs for SATCOM Technologies, said, "The JNN draft specifications require substantial enhancements to STT performance, communications flexibility and reliability, while keeping the unit's weight to under 4,200 pounds for easy towing by up armored vehicles. The Warrior 240T/TMST meets all of the specifications and exceeds more than 20 of the most demanding requirements."  Full Story   News Release_ 4/18/07

Cutbacks imperil U.S. government climate study, panel says

The government's ability to understand and predict hurricanes, drought, and climate changes of all kinds is in danger because of deep cuts facing many Earth satellite programs and major delays in launching some of its most important new instruments, a government panel has concluded. The two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences, released last week, determined that NASA's earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, has experienced enormous cost overruns and schedule delays with its premier weather and climate mission. As a result, the panel said, the United States will not have the scientific information it needs in the years ahead to analyze severe storms and changes in Earth's climate unless programs are restored and funding made available.   Full Story  Washington Post/Boston Globe_ 1/21/07 (logon required)

December, 2006

Futuristic slingshot whips satellites into space

Astronauts are trained to withstand as much as nine times the force of gravity. (Three Gs, by comparison, could make the average guy pass out.) But even the toughest among them fall out of the running when it comes to a launch concept from a small civilian company in Goleta, California. To survive the ride on Launchpoint Technologies's invention, the payload has to be able to survive a brain-splattering 10,000 Gs. The system is still just an idea on paper, but the U.S. Air Force has awarded Launchpoint a two-year, $500,000 grant to prove it can work. As for the system's cost, its low power requirements would allow spy micro-satellites to be slung into orbit for $50,000, a small fraction of the current $5-million launch cost.  Full Story  Popular Science/CNN.com_ 12/22/06

Satellites can help predict where wildfires likely to occur - study

By studying shrublands in California, US researchers found that Nasa orbiters can accurately detect factors which contribute to fires developing. The authors said Earth observation satellites could monitor plant moisture and the ratio of dead to live material, and provide data on potential hotspots. The findings appeared in the journal Geophysical Research (Biogeoscience).  Full Story   BBCNews_ 12/21/06

New, multi-mode tactical terminals tested at Fort Huachuca

General Dynamics C4 Systems in collaboration with Raytheon Network Centric Systems has developed an innovative multi-mode tactical terminal that allows communication via satellite (using C-, X-, Ku-or Ka-Band) or via troposcatter (and/or diffraction or line of sight) in highly transportable, self-contained, field-configurable packages. The terminals incorporate modern, industry-leading carbon fiber, truck/trailer-mount or "fly-away" antenna systems to suit a variety of applications. The terminals were recently tested at Fort Huachuca for Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) certification, in coordination with the PM-Kuwait Iraq C4 Commercialization (KICC) office. In order to 'prove out' the terminal's capabilities, both troposcatter links and diffraction links were used in testing over surrounding mountain ranges. The average beyond-line-of-site distance was approximately 70 miles. Data rates of 20 Mbps were achieved in quad diversity, with IP-quality bit error rates. Capability to transmit an impressive 40 Mbps using dual diversity was also demonstrated over the same link. Full Story  Press Release_ 10/19/06

General Dynamics C4 Systems introduces revolutionary multi-mode Troposcatter/SATCOM terminals

General Dynamics C4 Systems has released a series of innovative multi-mode tactical terminals under the VertexRSI brand that allow communication via satellite (using C-, X-, Ku-or Ka-Band) or via troposcatter (and/or diffraction or line of sight) in highly transportable, self-contained, field-configurable packages. The terminals incorporate modern, industry-leading carbon fiber, truck/trailer-mount or "fly-away" antenna systems to suit a variety of applications. Now, quickly deployable tactical terminals can be utilized for reliable, high-speed troposcatter communication links that compete effectively with the utility and ease-of-use associated with satellite communications.   Full Story  Press Release_ 9/12/06

August, 2006

Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company to launch third telecom satellite in January

Chief Commercial Officer Saeed Al Hamli said the United Arab Emirates' Thuraya is also opening an office in Singapore to focus on the Far East markets and Australia, which would come under the coverage of the third satellite. "Thuraya 3 will bring within its coverage area Asian markets such as China, Japan, the Far East, Australia and some others too. We are opening an office in Singapore to manage operations in that region." Sea Launch Company will launch the third satellite that was built by Boeing Satellite Systems. Thuraya 3 will replace the ageing Thuraya 1 while Thuraya 2 will continue providing coverage for the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and some other markets.  Full Story Gulf News_ 8/21/06

July, 2006

Russian rocket carrying 18 satellites crashes soon after lift-off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhtan

Seventeen of the satellites were being launched for foreign customers, including the US and Italy. One of those was to have been the first satellite operated by Belarus, whose president, Aleksander Lukashenko, had gone to Baikonur to see the launch, local media reported. Last October, a Russian rocket crashed while carrying a European satellite that was to have monitored the thickness of the Earth's polar ice. Baikonur is the world's largest space centre.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/27/06

Iran seizes TV satellite dishes in crackdown

Iranian police have renewed a crackdown on television satellite dishes, banned for beaming Western “decadent” images into the Islamic Republic. A police spokesman said yesterday hundreds of dishes had been removed from homes in the capital Tehran and other cities this week as part of a campaign against “social vice”. Iran outlawed satellite dishes in the mid-1990s as part of efforts to curb the inroads of Western culture. But the ban was largely ignored under former president Mohamed Khatami who tried to increase social freedoms after he was elected in 1997. But after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidency last year with the backing of conservative clerics and Basij religious militias, hardliners have pressed for renewed restrictions, warning of a threat to Iran’s Islamic values.  Full Story  Gulf Times_ 7/27/06

Indian rocket veers out of control and explodes during satellite launch

The satellite was to be used for broadcasting television signals and transmitting data, media reported. It remained unclear what, if any, debris actually hit the ground. The nearly 4,800-pound (2,200-kilogram) satellite -- named INSAT-4C -- was India's heaviest satellite to date and Indian scientists were hoping a successful launch would help the country attract private clients in the multibillion dollar satellite launch market. India has had 11 successful rocket launches since its first satellite in the INSAT series was put into orbit in 1982. The country is also planning an unmanned moon mission for 2008.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 7/11/06

June, 2006

Canada's Coast Guard gets satellite link

The Canadian Coast Guard has selected the Telesat to provide ship to shore communications via satellite for its fleet.  Officials said the selection of the Canadian-based company represents the second commercial phase for the highly successful European Space Agency-supported project Marine eCommerce Applications, or MeC.  The project proved its capabilities last year when Telesat began offering Internet services to passengers aboard Canadian ferries.  The new agreement with the Canadian government calls for Telesat to provide satellite equipment to selected Coast Guard vessels to be used to access e-mail, watch satellite television and use Voice over Internet Protocol phones.  FULL STORY_UPI 6/8/06

U.S. Army awards $72.9 million contract to Georgia's DataPath for satellite terminals in Iraq

DataPath, Inc. announced the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) in Fort Monmouth, N.J., awarded the $72.9 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide specialized satellite earth terminals and support services for the Joint Network Node (JNN) program. The contract includes 92 DataPath ET 3000 Portables, which the U.S. Army refers to as Satellite Communications Transportable Terminals (STT), and two DataPath DKET 4530Ku Mobiles, which the U.S. Army refers to as Unit Hub SATCOM trucks. The JNN program provides portable communications to the U.S. Joint Forces in Iraq. The DataPath 3000 is a compact trailer-based satellite earth terminal that enables secure voice, video and data communications where no infrastructure exists. It delivers a tactical, rugged communications gateway to battalions for communications on-the-quick-halt (COTQH). DataPath has deployed 140 DataPath 3000s to Iraq since 2004.  Full Story Datapath press release_ 6/6/06

NASA satellite provides 'breathtaking' new details of clouds

Radar aboard a JPL-managed NASA satellite has given scientists never-before-seen 3-D details of clouds, the space agency announced Tuesday. CloudSat, which is equipped with cloud-profiling radar more than 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional weather radar, and another satellite -- NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) -- were launched April 28 from Vandenberg Air Force Base after six postponements. The two satellites were designed to uncover new information about clouds and their impact on the Earth's atmosphere, climate and water supply.  Full Story CBS_ 6/6/06

May, 2006

Next-generation weather satellite takes flight

Boeing launched an unmanned Delta rocket carrying a new U.S. weather satellite toward orbit Wednesday, the first with the ability to keep an eye on developing storms even when the solar-powered craft is in Earth's shadow.  The Boeing rocket carrying the satellite blasted off at 6:11 p.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, following a 15-month stay at the launch pad.  The mission was delayed due to technical problems with the rocket and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, and because of a machinists' strike.  The spacecraft is the first of three upgraded GOES weather satellites to be launched over the next few years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will use them to provide imagery and data for weather forecasting in North America and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.  The new satellite, designated GOES-13, will be the first to have enough battery power to continue data collection and transmission around the clock, even when the solar-powered craft is in Earth's shadow. Unlike its predecessors, the spacecraft also will be able to use sound wave technology to analyze the moisture content of storms. 


Russian military launches new spy satellite

A clandestine military payload was placed into orbit by Russian military forces Wednesday in a launch from the nation's northern space base. The craft is likely a new spy satellite that will serve the Russian defense ministry. The payload is officially called Kosmos 2420 under the discreet Russian military nomenclature for satellites. Kosmos 2420 could be a Yantar or Kobalt-class spy satellite to bolster Russia's declining military intelligence presence in space. If so, it will probably gather high resolution imagery of key international locations to be returned to Earth in re-entry capsules over the mission's lifetime.  Full Story  Spaceflightnow.com_ 5/4/06

Weather forecasters set to send satellite

Ready for the launch of a new weather satellite next month, government forecasters also are turning their attention a decade ahead to plan for what their eyes in the sky will need to be like in the future.  The GOES-N satellite is scheduled for launch in May, with two more launches over the next two years to complete that series of satellites.  That means it's time to plan for future satellites, expected to go up in 2014 or later, and the effort gets under way next week with a meeting of some 200 weather satellite experts in Broomfield, Colo.  The GOES satellites sit in fixed positions over a spot on the equator, one watching the East Coast and Atlantic Ocean, the other observing the West Coast and Pacific.  They provide visible images of storms such as hurricanes so often seen on television broadcasts. But they also carry instruments that collect infrared radiation which allows meteorologists to determine temperatures in the air and water, and other instruments that can determine humidity, wind and other details that aid in storm forecasting. The new satellite scheduled to go up in May should also benefit forecasters in hurricane season, which begins June 1.  Full Story_ AP 4/27/06

Japan sky-mapping satellite back on track

A Japanese satellite orbiting the Earth will start mapping the sky in May after scientists fixed a glitch in the navigation system, an official said Friday. Japan launched the 13.4 billion yen (US$112.6 million; euro93.1 million) Infrared Astronomical Satellite on Feb. 22, and had planned to start mapping the sky using infrared wavelengths from mid-April. But space officials soon found that they could not direct the satellite because a sensor used to track its position in relation to the sun was not working, said Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spokesman Shinji Nagai.  Full Story AP/Forbes_ 4/15/06

Canada's C-COM signs Spanish satellite re-seller

C-COM Satellite Systems has joined with NASSAT of Spain to jointly resell C-COM's iNetVu Mobile satellite-based antenna systems to NASSAT customers in Spain, Portugal and Andorra. NASSAT will be marketing, selling, supporting and providing extended warranties for the C-COM satellite platforms, and is in the process of adding sales and support infrastructure in Central and South America as well. One of NASSAT's first iNetVu customers is Telefonica S.A., the Spanish based worldwide provider of telecommunications services.  Full Story  Ottawa Business Journal_ 4/4/06

March, 2006

SpaceX rocket fails first flight

The US vehicle, developed by the Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was destroyed soon after take-off from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The vision of Elon Musk, co-founder of the electronic payment system PayPal, the Falcon was designed to cut the cost of current satellite launches. The rocket was attempting to carry a 19.5kg satellite to a low-Earth orbit of 450km. The satellite, FalconSat-2, was built by US Air Force Academy cadets to investigate the phenomenon known as "space weather". With the relatively low price of $6.7m (£3.8m) per flight, the Falcon 1 is making a serious attempt to undercut other players in what is an overcrowded launcher market.  Full Story  BBC News_ 3/24/06

Heavy-lift Ariane-5 rocket orbits two satellites, one military and the other for civilian communication

A heavy-lift Ariane-5 rocket put two telecommunications satellites into orbit after a long delayed launch from French Guiana late on Saturday, space officials said. Initially due to be launched on February 21, the mission was delayed three times because of technical problems. Twenty-seven minutes after the launch, the rocket released into a preliminary orbit the SPAINSAT, a 3.7 tonne satellite for Spain's Defense Ministry built in California by Space Systems/Loral. Five minutes later, the rocket orbited HOT BIRD 7A, a 4.1 tonne satellite for Paris-based telecoms operator Eutelsat. HOT BIRD will provide telephone, data and video transmissions across throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It was built by an industrial team led by Alcatel Alenia space. Eutelsat officials said HOT BIRD was one of the first satellites on the market broadcasting digital high definition television.   Full Story  Reuters_ 3/11/06

Six Saudi-built satellites to be launched this year
As part of an ambitious plan to promote space technology for commercial purposes, the Kingdom is preparing to launch six new satellites this year, said Prince Turki ibn Saud, vice president of the research institutes at the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). These satellites have been designed and fabricated by a team of Saudi scientists at the KACST’s Institute of Space Research in Riyadh.  “Five of the six satellites have been built for communications purposes and will be for commercial use, while the sixth spacecraft will be mainly utilized for earth observation,” said Prince Turki, who has played a pioneering role in promoting a world-class space program in Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia had previously launched a few experimental satellites with an aim of testing their commercial viability. The prince said that amateur scientists in universities worldwide are utilizing these Saudi satellites for their own projects.  “Now we think that the technology developed at KACST is highly reliable and is ready for commercial use,” said the prince. He also mentioned the long-term plan spearheaded by KACST researchers to create an aerospace industry with a focus on satellite-technology in the Kingdom.  FULL STORY_Arab News 3/10/06

Japan launches infrared satellite

Japan's space agency launched a rocket carrying an ASTRO-F infrared satellite Wednesday after a one-day delay because of rainy weather, the agency said. The M-V rocket lifted off from Uchinoura, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southwest of Tokyo, on schedule at 6:28 a.m. said Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spokeswoman Nobuko Sato. The one-tonne satellite ASTRO-F is an Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) that can map the sky at infrared wavelengths. The infrared satellite was first developed by Britain, the United States and the Netherlands.  The ASTRO-F's launch follows a string of successes for the agency, which has struggled in the past. The agency, also known as JAXA, launched two H-2A rockets from the remote, southern island of Tanegashima in January and February, each carrying observation satellites. Full Story_ CNN 2/22/06

Freedom Calls taps PanAmSat to help US military in Iraq call home
PanAmSat today announced that the Freedom Calls Foundation (Freedom Calls) had selected its subsidiary G2 Satellite Solutions (G2) to deploy state-of-the-art satellite communications services including telephone, web access, e-mail and multiple video teleconferencing sessions to connect soldiers in Iraq with their families in the U.S. A wholly owned subsidiary of PanAmSat, G2 focuses on providing communications solutions to the U.S. government. In early December, Freedom Calls hired G2 to replace their existing satellite service provider and to establish links to three locations in Iraq -- Al Asad, Taji and Fallujah. Using its global IP-over-satellite network, G2 was able to establish a private network for Freedom Calls with quality-of-service guarantees. Leveraging bandwidth on its PAS-10 Indian Ocean Region satellite, G2 worked with Freedom Calls to re-point antennas in Iraq to the Boeing 601 HP satellite and successfully connect the two countries. Full Story_PRNewswire 2/16/06

Lockheed Martin-built EchoStar X satellite launched successfully
The EchoStar X telecommunications satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin
for EchoStar Communications Corporation of Englewood, Colo., was successfully launched today aboard a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL launch vehicle from the Equator. Lift-off occurred at 6:35 p.m. ET and initial contact with the satellite, called acquisition of signal, was confirmed at 8:19 p.m. ET from the Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS) satellite tracking station in Uralla, Australia. Based on Lockheed Martin's high-power A2100AX platform, EchoStar X will operate from 110 degrees west and is designed for a minimum service life of 15 years. EchoStar X features a Ku-band direct broadcast (DBS) payload optimized to provide additional bandwidth for more satellite TV services for DISH Network
customers. Used in conjunction with other EchoStar satellites, EchoStar X
enables DISH Network to expand services and channel offerings for its
customers nationwide.  Full Story_ PR Newswire 2/16/06

NASA satellite technology helps fight invasive plant species

Products based on NASA Earth observations and a new Internet-based decision tool are providing information to help land and water managers combat tamarisk (saltcedar), an invasive plant species damaging precious water supplies in the western United States.  This decision tool, called the Invasive Species Forecasting System (ISFS), is being used at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Institute of Invasive Species Science in Fort Collins, Colo. It is the result of combining USGS science and NASA Earth observations, software engineering and high-performance computing expertise.   "The ISFS combines NASA satellite data with tens of thousands of field sampling measurements, which are then used to analyze past and present distributions of non-native plants and predict their future growth patterns," said Tom Stohlgren, director of the USGS National Institute of Invasive Science Species. Land managers and others can use it to generate color-coded maps to help predict and manage the spread of troublesome invasive species.  Full Story_ Press Release 2/15/06

EADS' Astrium wins satellite contract from Canada's Telesat

EADS satellite unit Astrium will build Telesat's new telecommunications satellite Nimiq 4. The value of the contract was not disclosed. This will be the third E3000 type satellite ordered from Astrium by Telesat. Nimiq 4 is expected to be completed in 2008 and will provide satellite television transmission to Canada.  Full Story  AFX/Forbes_ 1/17/06

December, 2005

Europe launches Galileo, a new era in satellite navigation

begins with Giove-A

Giove-A will demonstrate key technologies needed for Galileo, the 3.4 billion-euro (£2.3 billion; $4 billion) sat-nav system Europe hopes to deploy by 2010. The new network will give EU states guaranteed access to a space-borne precise timing and location service independent of the United States.  Full Story  BBC News_ 12/28/05

Defense companies battle over satellite program
The Boeing Co. is facing its last chance to win back a major slice of work on a constellation of costly spy satellites that is late, over-budget and tinged by parochial politics.  Satellite programs take years to develop and cost at least several billion dollars each, making them among the most expensive government purchases that lack public oversight.

Industry experts, congressional aides and intelligence veterans agree on this: Boeing hurt itself by over-promising on a multibillion-dollar plan to build the top-secret satellites that were smaller, cheaper and more functional than its competition.  Full Story_ Star Tribune 12/1/05

ISRO to launch 10-12 satellites in four years
The Indian Space Research Organization is planning to launch 10-12 satellites in the coming four years, according to the Minister of State. Satellites which have been approved by the Government and for which work is currently engaged include units for communication, cartographic mapping, remote sensing, weather and oceanography applications.  Full Story_ Times of India 12/1/05

Ariane-5 rocket launches two satellites
An Ariane-5 rocket lifted off from a launch pad in South America Wednesday evening, carrying a U.S. broadcasting satellite and an Indonesian telecommunications satellite.  The European rocket blasted off from the Kourou launch center in French Guiana at 6:46 EST (2346 GMT.) The rocket was carrying the Spaceway 2 and Telkom 2 satellites.

The Spaceway 2, owned by U.S. broadcast satellite company DirecTV, will ensure high-definition programming to U.S. subscribers and will expand standard-definition programming, Arianespace said.  Telekomunikasi Indonesia's Telkom 2 will expand satellite communications in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The satellites have a combined weight of 8,000 kilograms (17,636 pounds). Full Story_Pravda 11/16/05

Karel Van Miert appointed facilitator for EU's Galileo satellite program

Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Transport, has appointed Karel Van Miert, former European Commissioner, to take up the role of mediator for Galileo. Mr Van Miert’s mission will be to act as mediator between Member States and European industry in order to facilitate decisions on the Galileo programme. Over the past few weeks, some decisions at industrial level have been delayed for various reasons, partly because of the complexity of the industrial organisation. Galileo is the first big industrial EU project. Two experimental satellites are scheduled for launch by the summer of 2006. Full Story  Press Release_ 10/25/05

Russia halts rocket launches after European satellite failure

Russia's beleaguered space industry suffered another setback yesterday when officials suspended launches of a rocket system that had been used at the weekend in a failed attempt to put a European polar monitoring satellite into orbit. State television said Russia's space agency would not launch another Rokot missile until it had found out why a rocket crashed into the Atlantic. It was carrying the European Space Agency's Cryosat satellite, which monitors depletion of the polar ice-cap and gives vital clues on climate change. The £93m satellite was destroyed in the crash. The Cryosat was to spend three years monitoring the thin ice sheets covering the polar seas and the miles-thick ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Russian officials stressed that six previous launches of the Rokot had been successful.  Full Story  The Guardian_ 10/10/05

September, 2005

Review leads to upheaval in U.S. spy satellite programs

The high-level review led by John D. Negroponte, the new intelligence director, is stirring a major upheaval within the country's spy satellite programs, beginning with an overhaul of a $15 billion program plagued by delays and cost overruns. In a terse announcement last week, the National Reconnaissance Office, responsible for developing and launching the devices, said only that a Boeing Company contract to provide the next generation of reconnaissance satellites, known as the Future Imagery Architecture, was being "restructured." But government officials and outside experts said Mr. Negroponte had ordered that Boeing stop work on a significant part of the project, involving satellites with powerful cameras, under a plan to shift the mission to Lockheed Martin, Boeing's chief competitor. Full Story New York Times_ 9/30/05 (logon required)

August, 2005

Intelsat to acquire rival PanAmSat Holding Corp. for $3.2 billion
The acquisition creates the world's largest operator of satellites that distribute data and video programming for clients. Intelsat, which is a private company, will pay $3.2 billion, or $25 a share, for PanAmSat, executives at the companies said. Intelsat will also take over $3.2 billion in PanAmSat's debt. The combined company will have 53 satellites - 28 from Intelsat and 25 from PanAmSat - and annual revenue of $1.9 billion. Executives for the companies hope to receive regulatory approval for the deal in 6 to 12 months. Intelsat is particularly strong outside the United States, while most of PanAmSat's satellites hover over North America.  Full Story New York Times_ 8/29/05 (logon required)

Iran police hunt banned satellite dishes

Iran’s police forces have been instructed to use all means, including helicopters, to locate and confiscate privately-owned satellite dishes, which are illegal in Iran. A senior police commander in the north-eastern province of North Khorassan told local journalists in the provincial capital Mashad on Saturday that his forces have been using choppers to spot the satellite dishes and report them to ground units, which would then search the suspected homes and seize the dishes. Owners are imprisoned and expected to pay a heavy fine. The crackdown on satellite dishes was prompted by broadcasts from Iranian opposition groups whose television programs reportedly have a large audience in Iran.  Full Story IranFocus_ 8/20/05

July, 2005

China launches Shijian-7 (SJ-7) science experimental satellite

The satellite was launched atop a 'Long March 2D' carrier from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China's Gansu Province. The SJ-7 Satellite was designed to monitor space environment and conduct other special scientific and technological experiments with a three-year life span.  Full Story Press Trust of India_ 7/6/05

May, 2005

India launches high-tech imaging satellite that can map every house and street in the nation of more than one billion people

The CARTOSAT-1, carried by a locally built rocket, underlines India's efforts to expand into the lucrative business of satellite launch services and to tap space technology to speed development of the world's second most populous country. A version of the rocket, called the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), will also be used in India's first mission to the moon expected in 2007 or 2008.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/5/05

April, 2005

Vadim Belov becomes Director General of Intersputnit

Vadim Belov, Svyazinvest Deputy Director General, was nominated for Intersputnik Director General by the Russian Telecommunications Administration after the expiry of the term of office of Mr. G.Kudryavtsev. Mr. Belov¡¦s candidacy was unanimously supported by the 25 member countries of the Organization. From January 1999 to March 2005 Mr. Belov was Deputy Director General of OJSC Svyazinvest, in charge of corporate management, holding restructuring, development of regional companies, equity market, and direct investments. Intersputnik was established in 1971 under the intergovernmental agreement and is an international system and organization of satellite communications headquartered in Moscow, Russia. Full Story  Press Release_ 4/15/05

February, 2005

Relief as Japanese satellite launch succeeds
Japan successfully fired a state-owned satellite into orbit Saturday, February 26 in a key step toward restoring faith in its space program, 15 months after its previous launch attempt ended in failure.  The Japanese-built H-2A rocket powered into the evening sky leaving a huge plume of vapor above the launch site on the tiny island of Tanegashima, 620 miles southwest of Tokyo at 6:25 p.m. (4:25 a.m. EST).  The dual-purpose navigation and meteorological satellite is due to start operating in May.  Full Story_ Reuters 2/26/05

UK rail chiefs eye satellite navigation to improve rail safety

Satellite navigation data could, in theory, feed back in real time the positions of every train and item of rolling stock on the network to an accuracy of metres, or even centimetres. It could also tell controllers whether trains are running to timetable, and which services are running.  Full Story  BBC News_ 2/11/05

Upgraded Ariane-5 rocket orbits satellites
In a crucial mission for Europe's space program, an upgraded Ariane-5 rocket successfully orbited two satellites into space Feb. 12, - two years after a first attempt ended in failure. SLOSHSAT payload will study how fluids behave in space.  

Full Story _ Reuters 2/12/05

NASA picks shuttle shield repair tests
Looking to accomplish the most work in the shortest period of time, NASA managers have decided to test two techniques to repair heat shields during one spacewalk when the space shuttle returns to flight, agency officials said on Friday.  The tests require a spacewalking astronaut to dab a paint-like thermal barrier onto samples of damaged heat tiles -- a job which should take 60 to 90 minutes. 

Full Story Reuters_ 2/11/05

Satellite loss cuts Pacific links

Many remote areas of the Pacific have been cut off from the outside world after the loss of a telecommunications satellite. The $73 million Intelsat IS-804 satellite went out of alignment Jan. 15, according to New Zealand telecom authorities. Its loss prevented contact with 10 Pacific island nations and territories, as well as affecting many other countries in the region. Since the incident, communications with the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and Western Samoa have been restored through alternative satellites. Scott Base in Antarctica has made use of emergency-only backup services. But American Samoa, Kiribati, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were without outside telecommunication links. Other countries affected by the loss included South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vietnam, but they were able to switch immediately to a backup system.  Full Story BBC News_ 1/18/05

Indian Ocean tsunami measured by satellites as it raced across the seas

While a tsunami can rise to great heights when it arrives at the shore, such waves are often barely noticeable in the ocean. In this case, scientists found that two hours after the undersea quake that launched the tsunami, the wave was about two feet. An hour and 15 minutes later it was down to about 16 inches. After eight hours the main wave was down to about two to four inches, though a portion in the Bay of Bengal was still at about 10 inches, N0AA scientists said. The data, which took several days to analyze, came from the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason satellites operated NASA and the French space agency, CNES; the European Space Agency's Envisat and the U.S. Navy's Geosat Follow-On.  Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/10/05


WWW http://www.usdatanow.com

| About USDataNow | Comments & Suggestions | Linking to USDataNow | Submit Your News |
| Associations | Books | Education | Engineering Tools | Events | Federal Agencies | International | Reference & Resources |