Archive for August, 2009

STS-128 Launch

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Nice shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral:

With seven astronauts and a host of experiments and equipment on board, space shuttle Discovery completed a flawless ascent into orbit Friday night to begin a two-day chase of the International Space Station. With Commander Rick "C.J. " Sturckow at the controls, the shuttle lifted off on-time at 11:59 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will rendezvous and dock with the station Sunday and the crew will begin transferring equipment to the outpost during the 13-day mission.

After flying up on Discovery, Nicole Stott will trade places with station resident Tim Kopra, who went into space last month aboard Endeavour. Equipment and science racks for the orbiting laboratory are riding inside the Leonardo cargo module, which is secured tightly inside Discovery’s payload bay. The module will be lifted out of Discovery and locked onto the station so the crew can transfer the gear efficiently. The treadmill named for comedian Stephen Colbert also is aboard Discovery and destined for the station.

The video…


String It

Friday, August 28th, 2009




Once you get in to String Theory, it is positively mind-boggling — especially when you begin considering multiple dimensions. New Scientist did a small piece on multiple dimension (more than three).

I like the TED clip myself…


Some of this stuff will help us travel the galaxy — and beyond.

WBMSAT News Bits for August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28th, 2009

TerreStar-1 completes in-orbit testing and is operating normally.

[Satellite Today – 08/28/2009]

William H. Robbins, 82, a retired NASA scientist who was part of a NASA team honored with an Emmy in 1985 for improving satellite-communications technology, died Saturday in Cleveland.
[ – 08/27/2009]

Planned for launch today, August 28, the space shuttle Discovery is to carry aloft Leonardo, the Multi-Purpose Pressurized Logistics Modules developed by Thales Alenia Space; the MPLM will carry 15,200 pounds of cargo needed for scientific experiments and to support the International Space Station’s crew.
[SatNews – 08/27/2009]

GPS IIR-21(M), the last of the modernized GPS IR satellites, is declared operational for users just 10 days after launching from Cape Canaveral.
[SatNews – 08/27/2009]

WildBlue demonstrates how it can deliver download speeds that are up to 12 times faster than its current speeds if it gets a new high-capacity satellite that could cost around $500m to build, launch, and insure; the company hopes to get stimulus money to help with the cost.
[SatNews – 08/27/2009]

Shaw Direct will launch AMC in HD in Canada by satellite, the first to bring Quebec the award-winning series in HD.
[Marketwire – 08/27/2009]

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency certifies and accepts the Space Based Infrared Systems, Highly Elliptical Orbit data for use in support of technical intelligence missions.
[SatNews – 08/27/2009]

Landsat 5 is again in good health after reported difficulties resulting in the halt of imagery operations; the one millionth scene download, of the Grand Canyon, is available on the internet at no cost.
[SatNews – 08/27/2009]

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency unveil a new ground station in Guam that will track spacecraft from JAXA’s upcoming Quasi-Zenith satellite system, designed to work seamlessly with the U.S. Global Positioning System and provide improved navigation satellite coverage over Japan and surrounding areas.
[SatNews – 08/27/2009]

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is spending $213m to develop a small launch vehicle in 2010 to reduce satellite launch costs by two-thirds.
[Satellite Today – 08/27/2009]

South Korean satellite launch failed when fairing did not open, causing satellite to overshoot the target altitude; satellite likely burned up in the atmosphere during re-entry.
[Bloomberg – 08/26/2009]

Sirius XM Radio unveils a dock that turns an iPhone into a satellite radio receiver, letting users listen to premium satellite radio programming.
[Reuters – 08/26/2009]

The Indian Space Research Organisation plans launch of Oceansat-2, a unique integrated satellite to track marine life and identify potential fishing zones, in September.
[SatNews – 08/26/2007]

Univision expects to realize as much as $175m in 2009, and $350m over next three to five years, from 140 multiyear retransmission-consent agreements with U.S. cable and satellite operators.
[Multichannel News – 08/26/2009]

Globalstar Inc. subsidiary SPOT LLC satellite GPS Messenger will be sold in Best Buy retail locations nationwide.
[Global Newswire – 08/26/2009]

Vizada partner Compass Systems recognized for outstanding customer service to government clients.
[BusinessWire – 08/26/2009]

ProtoStar will auction its two satellites on October 14 following decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Delaware approving the sale.
[Satellite Today – 08/25/2009]

Iridium is contracted buy government of Newfoundland and Labrador to provide satellite service to motorists along Canadian highway.
[Satellite Today – 08/25/2009]

Lockheed Martin satellite built for Sky Perfect JSAT of Japan was successfully launched by Arianespace on Friday, August 21.
[Business Journal – 08/24/2008]

First launch of a Russion Soyuz rocket from the European Space Agency base at Kourou in French Guiana is postponed until April 2010 due to a delay "linked to a mobile launch pad."
[SatNews – 08/26/209]

Kazsat, Kazakhstan’s first satellite, built by the Russian Krunichev Space Center and orbited in June 2006 will be be discarded; control of the satellite was lost in June 2008, restored, then lost permanently in October 2008.
[SatNews – 08/24/2008]

GSA and DISA form satellite communications partnership to create a common marketplace for commercial satellite communications services offering significant savings to defense and civil agencies as well as local and tribal governments.
[hotindienews – 08/24/2009]

SkyTerra Communications is 70.7% owned by Philip Falcon’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund as disclosed in an amended 13D filing with the SEC due to activity on August 19.
[seeking alpha – 08/24/2009]

NASA may turn to private contractors for much of the work now handled by government workers in effort to cut $30b to $50b from program to return astronauts to the moon.
[SatNews – 08/24/2009]

DirecTV, after being rated the nation’s highest-rated TV provider six years in a row, loses its top ranking to AT&T’s U-Verse and Verizon’s FIOS TV.
[Multichannel – 08/24/2009]

Three months after launch, TacSat-3 completes calibration phase and begins crucial validation stage.
[SatNews – 08/24/2009]

Saturday morning Australian time, Optus D3 is successfully launched from French Guiana, slated to provide services for Australia and New Zealand.
[SatNews – 08/23/2007]

Cyprus satellite communications provider Planetsky enters new markets with VelocitySAT services including cellular and PSTN/PTT backhaul, VoIP, IP Backbone, Broadcasting, FPN’s, virtual DSL, Disaster Recovery, and space segment availability.
[ – 08/23/2009]

Russia plans 3-decade manned space flight program; hopes program will be basis for international effort with target direct to Mars as well as a permanent base on the moon.
[IEEE Spectrum – 08/20/2009] 

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services


Ted Kennedy Remembered

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Nice piece on Sen. Kennedy on’s "Washington Unplugged."

Watch CBS Videos Online

And the comments on were many indeed.

LCROSS Anomaly

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

"Anomaly" is a very bad word when referring to in-orbit spacecraft. That’s what the LCROSS team is dealing with now, via

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 11:58:30 PM EDT

Upon starting an early morning communications pass on Aug. 22, 2009, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission operations
team discovered the spacecraft had experienced an anomaly.

According to spacecraft data, the LCROSS Internal Reference Unit (IRU) experienced a fault. The IRU is a sensor used by the spacecraft’s attitude control system (ACS) to determine the orientation and trajectory of the spacecraft. The anomaly caused the spacecraft ACS to switch to the Star Tracker Assembly for spacecraft positional information and caused the spacecraft’s thruster to fire excessively, consuming a substantial amount of fuel. Initial estimates indicate that the spacecraft still contains sufficient fuel to complete the full mission.

LCROSS mission operations declared a ‘spacecraft emergency’ and were allocated additional communications time on the Deep Space Network. The team conducted procedures to mitigate the problem and were able to restart the IRU and reduce fuel consumption to a nominal level. Automatic operations procedures also were implemented to minimize the possibility of another IRU anomaly from occurring while the spacecraft is out of contact with the ground. Since the re-start of the IRU, the spacecraft has not experienced any additional problems.

The team continues to actively assess and mitigate the situation and is in contact with the manufacturers of the IRU and star tracker to investigate the root cause of the problems. Mission managers remain optimistic the LCROSS mission can reach its successful conclusion with projected impact at the lunar south pole currently set for 4:30 a.m. PDT on Oct. 9, 2009.


Greece Fire

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009


 Nice satellite imagery via the University of Maryland’s FIRMS (Fire Information for Resource Management System) and NASA’s MODIS Rapid Response System.  MODIS: Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.

The fires near Athens were brought under control recently. Here’s a video report:


And here’s more on MODIS, the rocket science behind the imagery…



Naro Rocket Launch

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009



Spectacular launch from South Korea’s Oenaro Island earlier today:

South Korea launched its first rocket Tuesday, just months after rival North Korea’s launch drew international anger, but space officials said the satellite it carried failed to enter its intended orbit.

A Science Ministry statement called the launch a "partial success," as the satellite separated from the rocket normally before entering a different orbit.

The launch could boost South Korea’s space ambitions, but the North warned it would keep a close eye on the international response. There was no immediate comment from North Korea.

The two-stage Naro rocket — delayed several times since July due to technical glitches — lifted off Tuesday from South Korea’s space center on Oenaro Island, about 290 miles (465 kilometers) south of Seoul, about 5 p.m. (0800 GMT, 4 a.m. EDT).

It was South Korea’s first launch of a rocket from its own territory. Since 1992, it has launched 11 satellites, all on foreign-made rockets sent from overseas sites.

The rocket, built with Russian help, was carrying a domestically built satellite aimed at observing the atmosphere and oceans.

Lots of witnesses…


 Quality video, too…


Langford Rocket

Monday, August 24th, 2009



South of Buffalo (N.Y.), off State Route 75, is an interesting sculpture garden — including this steel rocket. Found a few in the area, including Griffis Sculpture Park in Ashford Hollow, not far from Ellicottville — the "Aspen of the East."

View Larger Map

This part of Western New York State is full of vibrant farming communities, so you can expect a different kind of rocket science on display: tractor pulls. Like this one in Langford, held on 2 August 2009…

WBMSAT News Bits for August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Intelsat announces the 45th anniversary of its operation, having launched the Early Bird, or Intelsat 1, satellite over the Atlantic on April 6, 1965 as an intergovernmental organization.
[Satellite Today – 08/21/2009]

Southwest Airlines prepares to begin fleetwide rollout of Wi-Fi in first quarter of 2010 using Row 44’s satellite service.
[Information Week – 08/21/2010]

WildBlue pursues $30m slice of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to help subsidize satellite broadband connections for about 10,000 homes in Colorado and Wyoming and another 10,000 i Arizona which are not served by high-speed cable, fiber, or DSL lines.
[Digital Cable News – 08/21/2009]

Satellite testing of KVH mini-VSAT in Australia and New Zealand is complete and it has been activated for service there, providing Internet and voice communications needs for maritime and aeronautical applications.
[PRNewswire – 08/21/2009]

Lunar Orbiter, launched in June, uses wave amplifier to transmit massive amounts of data at 100 Mbs; with Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, launched at the same time, NASA hopes to find suitable landing site for future manned mission to moon.
[Computer World – 08/20/2009]

Harris wins multi-year contract to provide high-speed internet and advanced voice and data to Carnival Corp. cruise ship passengers.
[Satellite Today – 08/20/2009]

Government of Canada invests $8.7m in next generation mobile satellite communications research and development undertaken by EMS SATCOM.
[Canada News Center – 08/20/2009]

Ariane 5 rocket scheduled to lift off Friday with dual payload of 4,000 Kilo JCSAT-12 satellite to provide communications for Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, and 2,500 kilo Optus satellite for Australian and New Zealand TV and broadcasting services.
[AFP – 09/20/2009]

Verizon squares off against traditional cable providers and satellite TV companies, demonstrating the ability to tie together a cellphone with its FiOS TV service.
[Wall Street Journal – 08/19/2009]

Iinternational Datacasting acquires Comtech Tiernan in cash transaction of over $2m.
[Satellite Today – 08/19/2009]

Nimiq 5 delivered by Space Systems/Loral to International Launch Services Baikonur Space Center in preparation for September 18 launch.
[Satellite Today – 08/19/2009]

SkyTerra seeks $37m of federal stimulus money from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to deploy two new wireless devices, to work on both terrestrial and satellite systems, for public safety workers.
[Business Journal – 08/19/2009]

South Korea cancels first launch of satellite from its territory due to a technical problem.
[NY Times – 08/19/2009]

TerreStar selects BroadSoft VoIP application to power its new satellite mobile broadband service to launch later this year.
[TMCnet – 08/19/2009]

Landsat 5 experiences anomaly rendering it out of control with power at critical levels, but spacecraft is stabilized.
[Satellite Today – 08/18/2009]

Lockheed Martin plans to cut workforce by 4.5%, but plans do not include cut back of facilities expansion in Philadelphia.
[Business Journal – 08/18/2009]

iDirect platform excels during speed, mobility, and disaster testing at Fort Monmouth military exercise.
[PRNewswire – 08/18/2009]

Private Equity Firm Greenhill’s plan to take over Iridium is approved by FCC.
[Forbes – 08/17/2009]

A United Launch Alliance Delta II becomes last rocket to lift off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 17A as it carries aloft the twenty-first and last GPS AIIR satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
[NASA Spaceflight – 08/17/2009]

ISS Reshetnev wins contracty from Russian Radio Research and Development Institute to develop AM5 and AM6 satellites; will work with Thales Alenia Space.|
[Satellite Today – 08/17/2009]

While fears of the bottom falling out for all MSS operators due to the economic crisis have been overestimated, cautions is still the best attitude for the short term.
[NSR Report – August 2009]

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services

Death of a Star

Thursday, August 20th, 2009



An optical image from the 0.6-m University of Michigan/CTIO Curtis Schmidt telescope of the brightest Radio Planetary Nebula in the Small Magellanic Cloud, JD 04. The inset box shows a portion of this image overlaid with radio contours from the Australia Telescope Compact Array. The planetary nebula is a glowing record of the final death throes of the star. (Optical images are courtesy of the Magellanic Cloud Emission Line Survey (MCELS) team).


The current Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society is reporting on super planetary nebulae, with University of Western Sydney Associate Professor Miroslav Filipovic going so far as to call them sexy in an interview with ABC:

Filipovic believes planetary nebula images are the most impressive objects in the galaxy.

"When you look at the Hubble pictures, they are the sexiest pictures you can find," he says.

According to Filipovic, it’s important to understand how super planetary nebulae form, particularly as they represent the fate of our Sun.

"This is something that will happen to us in about five billion years from now," he says.


Get a load of the abstract:

We report the extragalactic radio-continuum detection of 15 planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Magellanic Clouds (MCs) from recent Australia Telescope Compact Array+Parkes mosaic surveys. These detections were supplemented by new and high-resolution radio, optical and infrared observations which helped to resolve the true nature of the objects. Four of the PNe are located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) and 11 are located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Based on Galactic PNe the expected radio flux densities at the distance of the LMC/SMC are up to ∼2.5 and ∼2.0 mJy at 1.4 GHz, respectively. We find that one of our new radio PNe in the SMC has a flux density of 5.1 mJy at 1.4 GHz, several times higher than expected. We suggest that the most luminous radio PN in the SMC (N S68) may represent the upper limit to radio-peak luminosity because it is approximately three times more luminous than NGC 7027, the most luminous known Galactic PN. We note that the optical diameters of these 15 Magellanic Clouds (MCs) PNe vary from very small (∼0.08 pc or 0.32 arcsec; SMP L47) to very large (∼1 pc or 4 arcsec; SMP L83). Their flux densities peak at different frequencies, suggesting that they may be in different stages of evolution. We briefly discuss mechanisms that may explain their unusually high radio-continuum flux densities. We argue that these detections may help solve the ‘missing mass problem’ in PNe whose central stars were originally  1–8 M . We explore the possible link between ionized haloes ejected by the central stars in their late evolution and extended radio emission. Because of their higher than expected flux densities, we tentatively call this PNe (sub)sample –’Super PNe’.

Sexy indeed.