Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Issue WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

 "Zombie" satellite Galaxy 15 finally tamed – following loss of earth lock the satellite’s batteries drained; the Baseband Equipment command unit reset, and the satellite began accepting commands.
[Space Ref – 12/28/2010]

Arane 5 scheduled to launch Hispasat 1E and Koreasat 6 from Kourou on December 28.
[Space Ref – 12/28/2010]


KA-SAT successfully launched from Baikonur spaceport by Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket.
[ITAR-TASS – 12/27/2010]

TerreStar creditors agree to reorganization plan, allowing EchoStar to buy $125M of preferred stock as part of plan.
[Satellite Today – 12/27/2010]

German broadcaster ARD leases capacity from Eutelsat and SES to bring programming to German soldiers in Afghanistan.
[Satellite Today – 12/27/2010]

Pakistan to launch its first indigenously developed communications satellite in 2011 from a launch site in China.
[Associated Press of Pakistan – 12/27/2010]

An Indian Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle carrying a telecommunications satellite is destroyed after veering off course.
[Space News – 12/27/2010] wants to buy commercial satellite Terrestar-1 from its bankrupt operator to bring affordable internet to the World’s poor.
[Fast Company – 12/27/2010]


Six-ton Ka-Sat, bigger than recently launched Hylas, to serve customers in the so-called "hot-spots" of Europe, providing tens of millions of households with speeds generally up to 10Mbps.
[Press TVG – 12/26/2010]

Another NASA spinoff – inflatable antennas can be installed and de-installed quickly and support emergency satellite communication.
[Space Ref – 12/24/2010]

ViaSat receives $13.8M delivery orders from PM Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below that include installation and test of satellite ground station and control center equipment.
[Trading Markets – 12/24/2010]

China helps Bolivia fund its first communications satellite.
[News24 – 12/23/2010]

Globalstar takes delivery of two satellites from Thales Alenia Space.
[SatNews – 12/22/2010]

Harris to supply SAR military satellite payload.
[Satellite Today – 12/22/2010]

Norsat Ka-band BUC is used in antimatter study at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland.
[SatNews – 12/22/2010]

RapidEye’s first large scale mosaic, depicting all of Germany, is now for sale.
[SatNews – 12/22/2010]

Mexico pays Boeing $1B to build satellites for communications and security; Boeing to team with Orbital Sciences in meeting requirements.
[Fox Business – 12/21/2010]

Intelsat selects SatLink of Israel for iDirect VNO solution to provide its clients with managed hub services.
[Digital Producer Magazine – 12/20/1010]

Scientists hope to use Iridium satellite network, whose satellies carry magnetometers, to help predict solar storms and provide advisories to satellite operators.
[Scientific American – 12/20/2010]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010


Here’s the video…


It’s gonna be a long night.

WBMSAT News Bits December 17, 2010

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Lockheed Martin A2100 commercial communications satellite fleet achieves milestone of 300 years of cumulative successful in-orbit operations.
[PR-USA.NET – 12/18/2010]

Lockheed Martin is awarded a contract modification worth approximately $1.4B by the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate for the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite.
[U.S. Air Force web site – 12/17/2010]

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace sign launch Service & Solutions contract for the Sentinel-1A satellite as part of the European program GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).
[SatNews – 12/17/2010]

GVF (Global VSAT Forum) unveils a global initiative to facilitate delivery of state-of-the-art connectivity solutions in support of corporate-social-responsibility projects supported by the oil, gas, mining, banking, and other
enterprise sectors.
[SatNews – 12/17/2010]

Harris is awarded 30-month $42M contract by Sierra Nevada Corporation to supply antenna and radar electronics for satellite to provide military commanders in the field timely, high-resolution images of Earth’s surface.
[SatNews – 12/17/2010]

DISH Network delivers variety of 3D movies including "Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," "The Last Airbender," "A Christmas Carol" and "Step Up 3D."
[SatNews – 12/17/2010]

Russia’s Mission Control Center loses contact with the International Space Station for about three hours on Thursday before resolving a fiber-optic network problem.
[SatNews – 12/17/2010]

Globalstar successfully tests new second generation satellite with its first commercial telephone call.
[SatNews – 12/16/2010]

Italian COSMO-SkyMed constellation fully operational and complete with arrival of system’s fourth satellite in its final orbit position.
[SatNews – 12/16/2010]

NASA’s Mars Odyssey, which launched in 2001, will break the record Wednesday for longest-serving spacecraft at the Red Planet.
[SatNews – 12/16/2010]

India’s Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Fo6) is scheduled to launch the GSAT-5 Prime satellite on December 20.
[The Hindu – 12/16/2010]

RF Monoliothics ships one hyundred millionth surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter used in satellite digital radio receivers.
[SatNews – 12/16/2010]

Chambers Communications pulls its Oregon ABC affiliates from Dish Network’s system when the two are unable to reach agreement on rates, which Dish says Chambers wants to increase by 500%.
[hd-report – 12/17/2010]

Iridium expects falling equipment sales to hurt its 2011 revenue.
[Bloomberg – 12/16/2010]

Army’s first satellite in decades, a tiny nano-satellite, is slated for experiments to demonstrate technologies that will be used by a number of identical satellites.
[Signal Online – 12/16/2010]

DigitalGlobe wins three imagery supply contracts in China.
[Satellite Today – 12/16/2010]

According to NSR’s Government and Military Satellite Communications report just released, the industry will continue revenue gains until 2019 despite the imminent troop drawdown and complete withdrawal of allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[SatNews – 12/16/2010]

Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency renew space science and technology partnership agreement through 2020.
[Satellite Today – 12/16/2010]

Initial tests of HYLAS 1 satellite have gone well as it makes "excellent progress" toward supplying satellite broadband services to consumers and businesses in the UK.
[ – 12/16/2010]

XINHUA’s CNC World English channel to reach out in Europe, Middle East, and Africa on Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD, EUROBIRD, and W7 satellites.
[PR Newswire – 12/16/2010]

Obama signs bill to prevent advertisers from abruptly raising the volume of TV commercials louder than regular programming.
[Washington Post – 12/16/2010]




Wikileaks accuses New Zealand government of spying on Fiji’s Military Forces using satellite monitoring facility in Waihopai Valley.
[ – 12/16/2010]

The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration satellites show ability to maximize defended areas through earlier tracking of launched missiles.
[SatNews – 12/15/2010]

Thales Alenia signs contract with Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales SA, ARSAT, tor supply payload for the second Argentine geostationary telecom satellite ARSAT-2.
[SatNews – 12/15/2010]

SES ASTRA wins CME as anchor customer for its 31.5 degrees East orbital position (ASTRA 1G + ASTRA 2C).
[SatNews – 12/15/2010]

RRSAT expands New York metropolitan area fiber connectivity.
[PR Newswire – 12/15/2010]

ViaSat and the Joint Program Executive Office for Joint Tactical Radio System integrate commercial mobile SATCOM networks with JTRS networks to interconnect air, land, and sea forces.
[Satellite Spotlight – 12/15/2010]

China Great Wall Industry to deliver orbital communications satellite and ground application system to Bolivia.
[People’s Daily Online – 12/15/2010]

SES obtains $171.5M insurance policy covering construction and launch of QuetzSat satellite.
[Space News – 12/15/2010]

Boeing says antenna reflector on satellite built and launched for LightSquared has been successfully fully opened, resolving malfunction discovered after launch in November.
Bloomberg – 12/14/2010]

Orbital Sciences submits proposal to NASA in response to Commercial Crew Development-2 contract solicitation, for a "blended lifting body" vehicle to launch atop expendable launch vehicle.
[ – 12/14/2010]

Basic build-up of the milestone 200th Ariane for launch is now complete at the Spaceport in preparations for February launch of European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
[SatNews – 12/14/2010]

NASA loses contact with the nanosatellite NanoSail-D, launched last week from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTSat).
[Satellite Today – 12/14/2010]

SES plans expansion in Africa with much needed additional capacity and new local offices and staff.
[SatNews – 12/14/2010]

Arianespace reschedules launch of HISPASAT 1E and KOREASAT 6 to allow one customer to perform complementary checks on its payload.
[SatNews – 12/14/2010]

Iran plans second spaceport.
[SatNews – 12/14/2010]

Export-Import Bank of U.S/. approves $171.5M loan to support export of Ku-band broadcast satellite by Space Systems-Loral to SES S.A. of Luxembourg.
[SatNews – 12/14/2010]

SES ASTRA signs capacity agreement with Ukraine’s Ukrkosmos for video delivery via its 31.5 degrees east orbital position.
[SatNews – 12/14/2010]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

Pwanet Season

Thursday, December 16th, 2010




 I can almost see this as a new TV show on Discovery Channel: Planet Hunters. Not as easy as you think…

Finding Earth-size planets is a difficult task because the transit-signals, the dimming of the star’s light caused be a planet moving in front of the star, are so shallow. For a Jupiter-size planet, the transit depth is ~1% of the star’s brightness. For an Earth-size planet transiting a Sun-like star the decrease in brightness is less than .001%. Ground-based surveys have not reached the sensitivity to detect such planets around stars similar to our Sun, but with NASA’s space-based Kepler mission, launched in March 2009, astronomers are primed to start a new era in the study of exoplanets. Even with the exceptional data from the Kepler telescope, finding these Earth-sized planets will be extremely difficult, but in the age of Kepler, the first rocky planets will likely be detected including the potential to find Earth-like planets residing in the habitable zone, warm enough to harbor liquid water and potentially life on their surfaces.

Get started here, rocket scientist.

Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting pwanets!




Geminid Meteor Shower

Monday, December 13th, 2010


Get up early on Tuesday! Why? Because, via StarDate Online

The Geminid meteor shower will be at its best a few hours before dawn on Dec. 14, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

The Geminids are one of the most reliable meteor showers. This year, skywatchers can expect to see dozens of meteors per hour, rising to more than 100 meteors per hour at the shower’s predicted peak at 5 a.m. CST.

Skywatchers will also be able to see meteors on the night of Dec. 13, but viewing will improve after midnight when the waxing gibbous Moon sets.

Geminid meteors appear to fall from near the star Castor, one of the “heads” of the constellation Gemini, the twins. The meteors are not related to Castor. They are debris from an asteroid called Phaethon. The shower recurs each year when Earth passes through this debris strung along Phaethon’s orbit around the sun.

The Geminid shower was the first to be linked to an asteroid. Most meteor showers occur when Earth crosses the orbit of a comet. Though the Geminid shower was discovered in the 1860s, it was in 1983 that astronomers identified Phaethon as the shower’s source.

For your best view of the Geminid meteors, get away from city lights. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Lie on a blanket or reclining chair to get a full-sky view. If you can see all of the stars in the Little Dipper, you have good dark-adapted vision.

WBMSAT News Bits December 10, 2010

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Russian State Commission states that Proton M not at fault in loss of GLONASS satellites, but ILS, Khrunichev, Eutelsat, and Astrium KA-SAT mission team stands down for a week to review report.
[SatNews – 12/10/2010]

Obama administration proposes export control modernization.
[Satellite Today – 12/810/2010]

SatMAX Corporation announces master teaming agreement with Nsite which will provide another government contract avenue.
[SYS-CON Media – 12/10/2010]

MeshTV, experienced provider of end-to-end satellite transmission, upgrades streaming content service to allow multiple live streams to mobile devices.
[Satellite Spotlight – 12/10/2010]

Mobexx adds satellite communications to Mentor Ranger in vehicle work alone system.
[MHW Magazine – 12/10/2010]

South Australian satellite ground station supports NASA mission, tracking SpaceX Dragon’s descent from low-earth orbit.
[IT News – 12/10/2010]

Marlink will provide Sealink VSAT service to GC Rieber Shipping, a global operator of vessels within the subsea, polar expedition, and marine seismic segments.
[SatNews – 12/10/2010]

IDC wins Supterflex receiver order worth $1.15M from unnamed pan-European content distribution company.
[Satellite Today – 12/10/2010]

BIG CBS Networks launches BIG CBS {Prime, first of three new English entertainment channels, on AsiaSat 3S.
[SatNews – 12/10/2010]

Cheese for Monty Python is mystery civilian payload carried by SpaceX Dragon in successful launch.
[SatNews – 12/09/2010]

The Army’s first satellite in 50 years rides into orbit aboard the Falcon SpaceX vehicle.
[ – 12/09/2010]

Milestone 200th Ariane under preparation for February Automated Transfer Vehicle mission, which will service International Space Station.
[SatNews – 12/09/2010]

FCC plans to seek greater role in disputes between programmers and cable and satellite distributors.
[LA Times – 12/09/2010]

Inmarsat names Globe Wireless’ Globe iFusion the 2010 Maritime Solution of the Year.
[SatNews – 12/09/2010]

LA Police department selects Spacenet satelllite service to help manage emergency situations across the city.
[Trading Markets – 12/09/2010]

OmniGlobe Networks EMEA is first company to receive full MENOS certification for Fast News Gathering terminal developed in close cooperation with Newtec and the Arab States Broadcasting Union.
[SatNews – 12/09/2010]

Geoeye to acquire Spadac, a geospatial predictive analytics company, for $46M.
[Satellite Today – 12/09/2010]

GeoSpatial Experts, developer of firs photo-mapping software package, introduces three new GPS Camera bundles designed for geotagging and mapping digital photographs.
[SatNews – 12/09/2010]

Thales Alenia Space will build W3D satellite for Eutelsat Communications.
[Satellite Spotlight – 12/08/2010]

Cisco uses satellite router to make first VoIP call without the support of any terrestrial infrastructure to route the call.
[Urgent Communications – 12/08/2010]

NASA selects small business research and tech projects, including small satellite construction companies.
[ – 12/08/2010]

Thuraya expands commercial partnership with Etilisat to provide IP and maritime service in the UAE.
[Zawya – 12/08/2010]

Vizada to supply VSAT equipment and lease Ku-band satellite capacity to European Union Rule of Law mission in Kosovo.
[Satellite Today – 12/08/2010]

Lockheed Martin-build BSAT-3b satellite begins service for Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation of Japan.
[PR Newswire – 12/08/2010]

Frequency Electronics contract for providing timing and frequency sources for satellites could exceed $30M with options.
[Satellite Spotlight – 12/08/2010]

FCC regulation of internet providers, allowing companies to bill customers according to amount of internet usage, could put brakes on online video industry, handing cable and satellite providers a victory.
[Washington Post – 12/08/2010]




Malfunction preventing deployment of antenna on LightSquared’s new satellite launched Nov. 14 may imperil discussions with companies for capacity on its new network.
[Bloomberg – 12/08/2010]

Newtec satellite modulators deployed in fleet  of one of largest European public broadcasters, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR).
[SatNews – 12/08/2010]

NASA ejects NanoSail-D nanosatellite from its Fast, Affordable Science and Technology satellite.
[Satellite Today – 12/08/2010]

OnAir has agreement with Solar Impulse to supply satellite broadband connectivity during its attempt to become first solar powered aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth.
[SatNews – 12/08/2010]

Three GLONASS-M satellites launched earlier this week to complete Russia’s Global Navigation System failed to reach orbit, presumably falling into Pacific Ocean.
[Russia beyond the headlines – 12/07/2010]

Telespazio selects Arianbespace to launch Sicral 2 satellite in 2013.
[Satellite today – 12/07/2010]

Inmarsat launches satellite phones into Vietnam.
[DZ Times – 12/07/2010]

Echostar meets highest department of defense security requirements for satellite services.
[Marketwire – 12/07/2010]

Thrane & Thrane releases Aviator 200 airborne solution in Middle East.
[Satellite Today – 12/07/2010]

Comtech Telecommunications receives second 6-month contract extension to Movement Tracking System program with U.S. Army, to provide satellite airtime and equipment through July 2011.
[Globe Newswire – 12/07/2010]

Inmarsat reports that 30% of some 11,000 satcom terminals providing satellite services to government, commercial, and corporate aircraft are in business aircraft.
[Aviation Week – 12/07/2010]

Encompass Digital buys Ascebnt Media’s content distribution business.
[Satellite Today – 12/06/2010]

Thales Australia signs deal to supply satellite communications for Australia’s three new air-warfare destroyers.
[ – 12/06/2010]

Sirius XM-5 satellite ready for service.
[Satellite Today – 12/06/2010]

Orbcomm declares new ground station at Hartebeeshoewk, west of Pretoria New Zealand, operational.
[engineering news – 12/06/2010]

Arianspace to launch Franco-Italian Milcom satellite in 2013.
[Space News – 12/06/2010]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

Heard Over Haiti

Thursday, December 9th, 2010



The DEMETER spacecraft’s instruments assisted geophysicists with their analysis of ultra-low frequency electromagnetic waves before and after the Haiti earthquake in January, 2010. DEMETER stands for Detection of Electro-Magnetic Emissions Transmitted from Earthquake Regions.

You can download the paper here and read for yourself. Personally, I like MIT’s Technology Review and how they explain it to us…

 The anecdotal evidence of electromagnetic effects associated with earthquakes is legion. Various accounts link earthquakes with mysterious light and heating effects. Then there is the widespread evidence that certain animals can sense impending quakea, possibly because of a sensitivity to low frequency electric fields.

But good data is hard to come by. Geoscientists have been measuring the currents that flow through Earth beneath our feet for over 100 years. These so-called telluric currents are thought to be generated by friction and piezoelectric effects within rock. And the flow of electrons they cause has been linked to various atmospheric phenomena such as thunderstorms.

But the role these currents play in earthquake physics is unknown. It makes sense that any currents generated by friction and piezoelectric effects should be dramatically influenced by the relative movement of different parts of the crust.

But these effects occur over vast distances and at frequencies that are hard to measure and difficult to separate from background noise. Which is why DEMETER was launched , (DEMETER stands for Detection of Electro-Magnetic Emissions Transmitted from Earthquake Regions).

Now Michael Athanasiou at the Technical University of Serres in Greece and a few buddies say that DEMETER spotted good of evidence of a change in ultralow frequency radio waves in the ionosphere above Haiti in the run up to the quake. "The results reveal a significant increase of the energy of ULF waves, up to 360%, for a period of one month before the main earthquake compared with the energy of the background," they say. That’s a dramatic increase. These emissions dropped gradually in the month after the quake.

The implications are interesting. Athanasiou and co say: "The results of this paper clearly indicate that ULF electromagnetic waves can be very useful in revealing possible precursor seismic phenomena."

That’s carefully worded and for good reason. Any talk of earthquake prediction needs to be qualified with a good deal of hedging. It may well be that the crust generates more low frequency waves in the build up to an earthquake but there may be other mechanisms that produce a similar signal but are not linked to quakes.

These effects would have to be teased apart before a forecast of any use could be made.

Then there is the problem of the timescale over which these emissions are produced. The increase in pressure that causes earthquakes occurs over geological timescales. It’s not yet clear how this process changes the emission of low frequency em waves.

That means the predictions from this kind of data may be never be any better than the ones geophysicists already make, ie giving the percentage likelihood of a big ‘un in the next 50 years, for example. That helps with things like building standards (in developed countries that can afford to implement them) but it is not much use in preventing the kind of catastrophe that hit Haiti in January.





(a) The average energy of the pre-earthquake signals recorded by the satellite during night-passing, for 100 days before the main earthquake as well as for the aftershock signals for 50 days. (b) The average energy per 25 days of the observed signal during the night, for 100 days before and 50 days after the earthquake.

SpaceX Falcon 9/COTS-1 Launch

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010



Watch the launch from KSC pad 40 live on A big deal for private launchers, the demo payload Dragon is test whether it will one day get supplies to the ISS. The low-down, via SpaceX

This is the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station and encourage the growth of the commercial space industry.

COTS is also an acronym used by government acquisition officials for ―commercial off-the -shelf,‖ meaning that the government should, when possible, take advantage of commercially available products of equal quality and utility when doing so is the most cost-effective option.

After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will make at least 12 flights to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA awarded in 2008. The $1.6 billion contract represents a minimum of 12 flights, with an option to order additional missions for up to $3.1 billion. Only SpaceX has the ability to return cargo from the station.

This has been a strong government-commercial partnership. SpaceX has only come this far by building upon the incredible achievements of NASA, having NASA as an anchor tenant for launch, and receiving expert advice and mentorship throughout the development process.

With the savings NASA will see by using SpaceX for low-Earth transportation, billions of dollars are freed up for other activities such as accelerating exploration efforts that go beyond low-Earth orbit, advanced telescopes and Earth science missions.

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.

 Go Falcon 9!

Fly Me To Papua New Guinea

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010



Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, Telesat — all big satellite operators who continually try to get their stories out and reported on by the general business media, and, if they’re lucky, some broader medium. Doesn’t happen much, unless there’s a catastrophic failure during launch or in-orbit.

Along comes Kosta Grammatis with an idea to buy the Terrestar-1 spacecraft and move it from 111 West to a location assigned to Papua New Guinea, possibly 31.5 West over West Africa or something closer to home. So guess what happens. They put up a Web site to raise $150,000 to get it started.

Futurismic’s Paul Raven posts something on it yesterday,  Boing Boing picks it up, then Gizmodo.  Expect this to go viral in a way the major satcoms can only dream of.

But seriously, I doubt secured debtors such as EchoStar will let this baby go to another location. It’s in a good spot for broadcasting in the S-band. Free Internet? Good luck building modems for the masses. And each modem needs electricity, so get busy with power generation, too.

Let’s see just how big this gets.

IPTV Going Wireless

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

IP-PRIME was killed by SES two years ago. Was that a smart move or not? Talk to the people out in the field and they think it could have worked. It was a solid technological solution to many video service providers in "the fly-over states." So you think the other remaining big IPTV enablers are making their "bucket lists" these days? Not quite.

Avail-TVN recently announced a deal with Verizon FiOS TV, so their wholesale model has gotten stronger over the last couple of years. As for FiOS TV, they apparently have stopped their fiber build-out altogether, focusing instead on turning up service for their current market of homes-passed. That doesn’t include neighborhood, unfortunately. No problem: I dumped DirecTV for DISH Network and I love the new offering from the 61.5 West orbital location.

So what’s FiOS TV up to? How will they expand? The likely answer is wireless. Not on their current CDMA network, but rather on the new LTE service, being turned up on Sunday. As it won’t be for phone traffic, figure it will eventually carry IPTV. Considering the Seattle market is expected to benefit from a 16 Mbps throughput, that’s just about perfect for HDTV channels (MPEG-4 H.264). Hey, they’re switched at the C.O., so why not? Customers don’t care whether it’s satcom, coax, fiber or wireless — as long as the signal comes through in HD, they’re good to go.

Perhaps Verizon has it right in stopping fiber builds and focusing instead on using LTE for video services. Hey, if DISH Network can stream live TV to iPads today, the future can surely rely on wireless.

Just don’t call me "Shirley."