Archive for May, 2011

Indian Space Cadets

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Excellent idea: establish a space engineering school to assure a steady stream of qualified new employees for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). 150 graduates of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) will go straight to meaningful jobs at the ISRO. Via IBNLive

“By the third week of June, the first batch will be out. The students are presently in the middle of their projects which should be completed by mid-June. By July, they will be posted to various units,” IIST director KS Dasgupta said. All students who achieve a specific cutoff mark set by the IIST will be directly absorbed into various units of the Space Department, he said.

The first batch has about 150 students in three BTech courses offered by IIST Avionics, Aerospace Engineering and Physical Sciences. Meritorious students have a job assured at the over 20 spacerelated units of ISRO, including research facilities such as the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL).

Five of the first-batch students are presently doing their projects at the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), US, while one is set to attend an advanced ninemonth course in aerospace engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Inaugurated on September 14, 2007, by the then ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair, the IIST was ISRO’s answer to the acute human resources crunch the space agency expected to face in the immediate future. The USP of IIST was an assured job at some of the most technically advanced institutions in the country. The students also sign a bond promising their services for a minimum of five years.

For a time, IIST operated out of a temporary campus at Veli. In 2010, the IIST fully shifted to a permanent campus at Valiyamala adjacent to ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 05/27/2011

Friday, May 27th, 2011

NBN Co steps up satellite plans to provide broadband service to remote communities in Australia.
[Satellite Today – 05/27/2011]

SES Astra signs first contract with an Italian broadcaster, Promosat, for DTH services in Italy.
[Satellite Today – 05/27/2011]

NASA selects Fibertek to design, develop, fabricate, test and deliver laser systems for the Ice,Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 mission to measure Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, scheduled for 2016 launch.
[SatNews – 05/26/2011]

U.S. Military satellite, the first Space Based Infrared System satellite, successfully reaches orbit and is performing as required.
[Satellite Today – 05/26/2011]

Northrop Grumman to transition work from NPOESS program to Defense Weather Satellite System (successor to the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) under authorization from U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
[SatNews – 05/26/2011]

Satellite broadband gets contentious as smaller and independent companies and cooperatives fight for a share of funds to be provided government broadband programs.
[TMCnet – 05/26/2011]

Aquarius/SAC-D satellite with Argentina-built observatory to be launched June 9 on a three-year mission to map global changes in salinity at the ocean surface.
[PR Newswire – 05/26/2011]

AsiaSat expands its Tai Po Earth Station in Hong Kong.
[Satellite Today – 05/26/2011]

Nordic Maritime Singapore chooses KVH’s TracPhone V7 for onboard communications.
[GlobeNewswire – 05/26/2011]

OnAir and TriaGnoSys launch most lightweight inflight connectivity solution for business jets, connecting to the plane’s existing satellite communications system to provide inflight wireless connectivity for passengers.
[Business Video News – 05/26/2011]

SES Astra increases download speed of its broadband service beyond 10 Mbps.
[Satellite Today – 05/25/2011]

Space Micro wins NASA award for research and development of Satellite Interoperability for Microwave Access – SIMAX – intermodule cluster communications system.
[SpaceRef – 05/26/2011]

Remembering – on May 25, 1945, Arthur C. Clark predicts the future by inventing it, as he proposes using space satellites for global communications including television broadcast.
[Wired – 05/25/2011]

Space shuttle Endeavour, on its final mission, successfully delivers MIT researchers’ Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, designed to search for antimatter and dark matter and measure cosmic rays, to the International Space Station.
[R&D Magazine – 05/25/2011]

Singapore’s first locally-built micro-satellite in space, X-Sat, begins transmitting images back to Singapore.
[Satellite Today – 05/25/2011]

Telesat satellite 14R Estrela do Sul 2 hits a snag as its northern solar array fails to fully deploy.
[Satellite Spotlight – 05/25/2011]

Busy launch schedule for Arianespace continues – next up, two launches in July – from French Guyana (ASTREA 1N and BSAT 3c/JCSAT 110R), and from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (six Globalstar satellites).
[Satellite Spotlight – 05/25/2011]

Vizada unveils Vizada XChange, their new all-in-one maritime satellite communications platform providing secure and controlled communications integrating voice and broadband data for ship operations and crew.
[SatNews – 05/25/2011]

New Brunswick telecommunications company Xplornet Communications gets $230M in private financing as it plans two new satellites to expand its wireless and satellite broadband networks across Canada to reach rural households.
[Business Journal – 05/25/2011]

Iridium offers free calling from ships equipped with its terminals to the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations center, in newly announced anti-piracy program.
[GlobeNewswire – 05/25/2011]

South Africa should develop its own satellite manufacturing capacity and stop relying on other countries, says its Science and Technology Minister, as its Cabinet approves in principal buying an equity stake in satellite manufacturer SunSpace.
[Business Day – 05/25/2011]

Working group evaluating 150 different GPS devices and will explore mitigation solutions to address perceived problems with GPS signal interference by LightSquared’s plans for ground-based use of its satellite spectrum.
[ – 05/24/2011]

Eutelsat’s Skylogic signs distribution agreement with Tliasonera for Tooway service in Finland.
[Satellite Spotlight – 05/24/2011]

SES Astra signs new 3-D TV capacity deal with Penthouse Digital Media Productions.
[ANTESKY – 05/24/2011]

Spot Connect satellite communications app available on App Store; allows iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users to transmit messages via satellite from virtually anywhere in the world.
[GlobeNewswire – 05/24/2011]

Qualcomm announces product support for Russian GLONASS satellite system, with ability to utilize both the GPS and GLONASS networks simultaneously for greater location performance.
[USA Market News – 05/24/2011]

Congolese service provider Microcom upgrades its network to extend the range of services for Central and Western Africa clients with Newtec Elevation hubs in Germany and the U.S.
[SatNews – 05/24/2011]

Detecon Al Saudia launches Geo-Redundant VSAT service in Saudi Arabia powered by iDirect’s Evolution platform.
[PR Newswire – 05/24/2011]

Comtech EF Data and KNS integrate SuperTrack marine stabilized antenna systems and ROSS Open Antenna Management technologies for enhanced maritime solutions.
[GlobeNewswire – 05/24/2011]

Former Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher and communications consultant and political analyst Jamal Simmons join Internet Innovation Alliance, the broad-based coalition supporting broadband availability and adoption for all Americans, as honorary Chariman and Co-Chairman.
[EON – 05/24/2011]

Recent discoveries in remote areas such as the Artic push the Oil & Gas sector further away from terrestrial service, driving satellite connectivity in the digital oilfield.
[NSR – 05/24/2011]

Both satellites launched May 20 by Ariane 5 ECA rocket, ST-2 and Gsat-8, are on-orbit and healthy in geosynchronous orbit.
[Space News – 05/23/2011]

New incoming Dish CEO Joe Clayton makes known that Dish plans to aggressively utilize recent acquisitions Blockbuster, Hughes Communications, and DBSD North America to create new video platform to compete with streaming providers like Netflix.
[Home Media Magazine – 05/23/2011]

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services signs authorized distribution agreement with Spanish company Equipos Navales Industriales.
[Satellite Today – 05/23/2011]

KVH ships 1000th CommBox Ship/Shore Network Manager, supporting changing needs for commercial maritime industry onboard communications.
[Globe Newswire – 05/23/2011]

Judge rules that creditors can vote on DBSD sale to Dish Network.
[Wall Street Journal – 05/23/2011]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

Estrela do Suck It

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Telesat can’t catch a break. Telstar-14/Estrela do Sul, a spacecraft that’s had on-orbit problems for years. Its replacement launches beautifully, but one of the solar arrays isn’t fully deployed.

Too many moving parts, rocket scientists. Better to use exploding bolts!

The report, via Space News

The Telstar 14R/Estrela do Sul 2 telecommunications satellite launched May 21 has failed to deploy one of its two solar arrays, a defect that, if permanent, will curtail owner Telesat Canada’s growth plans in South America, Telesat and satellite builder Space Systems/Loral announced May 25.

The satellite’s south array has fully deployed and is providing power, but the north array has not. Ottawa-based Telesat said that if the situation is not corrected, Telstar 14R will be able to provide “at a minimum” the same level of service of the satellite it is replacing, the Telstar 14/Estrela do Sol spacecraft launched in 2004.

Archaeology From Space

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

A new program on BBC One, “Egypt’s Lost Cities,” features the work of Sarah Parcak, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama’s Laboratory for Global Health Observation.

She’s using infrared satellite imagery to locate entire cities, some buried for centuries, by studying remnants of mud brick buildings, for instance. They’ve found 3,000 ancient settlements, which includes 1,000 tombs and 17 pyramids. Good show!

Check out her book, Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology, so you too can become familiar with her ways.

Grímsvötn Eldfjall frá Geimnum

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

That’s right, rocket scientists, weather spacecraft have seen the erupting Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland and it’s pretty cool. This one’s from Meteosat-9:

The animation shows Meteosat-9 observations from the High Resolution Visible (HRV) channel, providing measurements with a resolution of 1 km at the sub-satellite point, representing roughly a 3-5 km resolution over Iceland. At around 19:15 UTC, a very rapid eruption of the Grímsvötn volcano occurred, which is visible from the animation below. The eruption is transporting a large amount of water vapour and ash significantly higher than the cloud deck heights over Iceland.

Meteosat-9 is located on the Greenwich Meridian, while the GOES-13 spacecraft, also a weather observation satellite, is located at 75º West. So here we have a different angle…

For Sale: Moon Rocks

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

There’s got to be a good story behind this one. Some looney wanted to sell moon rocks. Yeah, she’s from California…

A woman who tried to sell what she said was a rare piece of moon rock for $1.7 million was detained when her would-be buyer turned out to be an undercover NASA agent, officials said Friday.

The gray rocks, which are considered national treasures and are illegal to sell, were given to each U.S. state and 136 countries by then-President Richard Nixon after U.S. moon missions and can sell for millions of dollars on the black market.

NASA investigators and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies detained the woman after she met Thursday with an undercover NASA investigator at a restaurant in Lake Elsinore, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the sheriff’s office said. The investigation was conducted over several months.
Authorities swooped after the two agreed on a price and the woman, whose name has not been released, pulled out the rock.

NASA planned to conduct tests to determine whether the rock came from the moon as the woman claimed.

“We don’t know if it’s lunar material,” said Gail Robinson, deputy inspector general at the space agency.

Joseph Gutheinz, a University of Phoenix instructor and former NASA investigator who has spent years tracking down missing moon rocks, said a lunar curator at a special lab at Johnson Space Center would carry out the testing. Among the substances the rock could contain is armalcolite, a mineral first discovered on the moon and named for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who was on the Apollo 11 lunar mission crew.

The woman has not been arrested or charged. It was unknown how she obtained the rock or came to the attention of NASA.

Gutheinz said the woman could face theft charges if the rock is genuine, or fraud charges if it is not.

What would you do with a moon rock if you had one? “That’s my moon rock.”

“You’re a looney!”

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 05/20/2011

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Space shuttle Atlantis on deck for grand finale launch of the space shuttle program on May 31.
[SatNews – 05/20/2011]

Ariane 5 rocket lifts two satellites into orbit; ST 2 of joint company Singapore Telecommunications and Chunghua Telecom of China, and India’s GSAT 8 satellite.
[Spaceflight Now – 05/20/2011]

American Geophysical Union calls on Congress to restore funding to the Joint Polar Satellite System for continuous data for weather forecasting, as an expected active hurricane season approaches.
[SatNews – 05/20/2011]

Hughes Europe forms U.K. initiative to promote satellite broadband.
[Satellite Today – 05/20/2011]

Smart, of the Philippines, to offer first satellite phone service for Filipino seafarers.
[Pinoy Worldwide – 05/20/2011]

ORAS-1 space vehicle approved for shipment to NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility for integration with Minotaur I launch vehicle.
[SatNews – 05/20/2011]

Camber Corporation acquires EADS North America Defense Security and Systems Solutions.
[Washington Technology – 05/19/2011]

West Point balloon satellite successfully travels to edge of space (85,000 ft.) and back, bringing high quality videos and still pictures.
[Army – 05/19/2011]

SES satellite ASTRA 1N arrives at European Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
[SatNews – 05/19/2011]

Stratos nears completion of FleetBroadband deployment on 55 vessels for Harren & Partner.
[PR Newswire – 05/19/2011]

Thales Alenia Space awards GMV contract to supply flight dynamics system for O3b satellite constellation.
[SatNews – 05/19/2011]

Tesacom is first business to have Iridium license in Panama.
[Globe Newswire – 05/18/2011]

ORBCOMM signs MOU with Taiwan’s Council for Economic Planning and Development to assist in its plans to enter Taiwan market through potential partnership with local businesses.
[EON – 05/19/2011]

Space shuttle Endeavor carries postage stamp-sized satellites into space.
[The Atlantic – 05/18/2011]

ORBCOMM completes acquisition of substantially all of the assets of StarTrak Systems from Alanco Technologies.
[SatNews – 05/18/2011]

GATR supports local agencies and tornado victims with critical satellite connectivity.
[EON – 05/18/2011]

The Shipping Corporation of India selects Stratos to deploy FleetBroadband on its fleet of 156 ships.
[PR Newswire – 05/18/2011]

Cubic Defense Applications introduces digital data link that operates in KU, C, S, L and UHF-bands at data rates from 200Kbps to 45 Mbps, can fit in a shirt pocket, and weighs less than 1.7 pounds.
[SatNews – 05/18/2011]

Debate over LightSquared’s plans for first broadband network based on satellites hinges on plan for traditional land-based transmitters.
[National Journal – 05/18/2011]

Integral Systems introduces ultra-compact and efficient 200 Watt Ku-band SSPA offering small package and minimal heat production.
[SatNews – 05/18/2011]

Advantech Wireless signs distributionagreement with TRISPEC for resale of Advantech products throughout Canada.
[Satellite Spotlight – 05/18/2011]

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite provides images of smoke across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Northwest Territories, Canada, from over 100 fires.
[SatNews – 05/18/2011]

ViaSat receives award from Thales Alenia Space to supply Ka-band transceiver modules for the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation.
[PR Newswire – 05/17/2011]

TeleCommunication Systems announces immediate availability of commercial service for the Cisco Internet Routing in Space solution aboard the Intelsat IS-14 satellite.
[SatNews – 05/17/2011]

At Newtec-hosted seminar in Miami, President of Euroconsult USA Susan Irwin predicts robust growth in emerging markets for satellite broadcasting in next decade.
[Advanced Television – 05/17/2011]

New Deloitte business case study states that transforming the global air transportation system from ground-based communications and radar control to satellite-based navigation systems will generate significant savings for airlines and passengers.
[SatNews – 05/17/2011]

MTN Satellite Communications receives Hot Companies and Best Products award from Network Products Guide.
[PR Newswire – 05/17/2011]

Indian Space Research Organisation plans to set up advanced R&D center in field of spacecraft technologies in Karnataka’s Chitradurga and rocket sub-systems integration facility near spaceport of Sriharikota in coastal Andhra Pradesh.
[SatNews -= 05/17/2011]

TS2 Satellite Technologies selected by Polish Government to provide global accessibility for its anti-terrorism and VIP security services.
[TMCnet – 05/17/2011]

Ball Aerospace & Technologies successfully completes thermanl vacuum testing for NASA’s NPOESS Prepatory Project satellite, advancing it toward planned October 25, 2011 launch.
[SatNews – 05/17/2011]

Russian Satellite Communications Company and Eutelsat Communications will partner on commercialisation of broadband and data network services in Russia using KA-SAT.
[PR-USA – 05/17/2011]

VT iDirect to offer new web and UDP optimization solutions through reseller agreement with ZipLink.
[SatNews – 05/17/2011]

According to International Telecommunications Union, the price for broadband service is falling dramatically across the globe.
[Satellite Today – 05/17/2011]

PortVision introduces WorkBoat communications and tracking service with two-way cellular and satellite service with least cost routing at half the cost of satellite-only services.
[EON 05/17/2011]

Space shuttle Endeavor lifts off on its final flight as wife of flight commander, wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, watches from wheelchair.
[NY Times – 05/17/2011]

Satellite Industry Association applauds release by Departments of Defense, State, and Commerce of interim report assessing national security impact of reforming United States export control policy for satellites.
[SatNews – 05/16/2011]

ISRO to launch France’s Spot 6 satellite.
[Satellite Today – 05/16/2011]

Opening of Morganza Spillway on Mississippi River is captured in image from NASA’s EO-1 satellite.
[SatNews – 05/16/2011]

Integral Systems, a Columbia company providing services to the satellite industry, to be acquired by San Diego military contractor Kratos.
[Gazette – 05/16/2011]

About 3,000 fishing vessels in 28 coastal provinces of Vietnam to be equipped with satellite monitoring devices in August.
[SatNews – 05/16/2011]

Globecomm Systems ranked 12th in large-sized companies category as one of best companies to work for in New York.
[SatNews – 05/16/2011]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

Rain Fade Rights

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As a satellite TV customer, there are times when the weather messes with your reception. The interference from rain/snow between you and the spacecraft with cause an outage and you can’t do anything about (rain fade or attenuation). I get that.

Now let me tell you why I’m pissed off.

I switched to Dish Network from cable in 2004 and we had some outages, but the storms had to be pretty big to knock out the signal (we were looking at 110°/119° West). Then I went back to cable so I could get MSG-HD. The Voom channels start going away to make room for a bunch of useless HD channels. Forget that — I went for the DirecTV bundle with Verizon DSL.

Big mistake. We had an outage every time it rained or snowed. I’d call DirecTV a half-dozen times to complain, hoping to get either a credit or a technician to come out an peak the antenna. No chance, valued customer. Either I sign up for a “maintenance” contract for $60 annually, or pay $50 for the tech to come out. Forget that.

Went back to Dish Network and I haven’t had a problem since (now looking at 61.5° West). Ever since I cancelled DirecTV, I’d had 3 or 4 “retention specialists” call and probably a half-dozen “come back” letters. Where were you during my moment-of-truth? Forget that, too.

Who cares about rain fade credits? Maybe trial attorneys should read up on it, in light of the current flooding around Old Man River. Prompted by the Alabama Attorney General’s office, cable and satellite TV providers are offering replacement equipment and suspending billing because of the flooding, caused by storms. The satcom statements, via WSFA-TV

DISH Network provided the following statement about its response: “Taking care of our customers who have been impacted by any disaster, including tornadoes, is our top priority. DISH Network has a disaster policy in place and works with affected customers on a case-by-case basis to determine the best solution. We normally provide several no-cost options for victims to suspend their satellite service, including a pause of service, with no equipment fees.”

Ellen Filipiak, Sr. Vice President for Customer Service at DIRECTV, stated, “We join all service providers in Alabama in a sincere expression of sympathy for the people of Alabama who lost loved ones and homes in the terrible storms that hit the state last month. We are working with both our customers and employees in Alabama to help them rebuild as well as reconnect their TV services.  And to ease the burden and worry for our customers who were affected by the disaster, we have suspended accounts for those who were without power, offered free service calls and have waived equipment replacement costs and all other fees. More broadly we are also providing support to all victims of the storm through the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.”  Consumers may contact DirecTV by calling 1-800-531-5000.

Think about that. Will other storms that cause widespread outages in a particular area also become subject to crediting customers for service interruptions? Makes sense to me.

Really High Definition TV

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Dude, they busted the Dish Network truck. No TV party tonight.

The U.S. Border Patrol is out to get you, via KGBT-TV

More than $2.3 million dollars of marijuana is off the streets after Border Patrol agents learned a cloned Dish Network van was being used to smuggle drugs.

U.S. Border Patrol agents reported tha the seizure happened in the rural Starr County community of La Casita on Wednesday, April 20th.

Court records were not immediately available but Border Patrol agents reported spotted a Dish Network van exiting a brushy area near the Rio Grande River.

Working on a tip that are drug smugglers are now using counterfeit vehicles from well-known companies as a cover, Border Patrol stopped the van.

Border Patrol agents reproted immediately noticing a strong odor of marijuana. Investigators looked inside and found 100 bundles with close to 3,000 pounds of marijuana worth $2.3 million dollars inside.


Ooh, A Pwasma Spectwometer!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

In addition to Cornell’s cracker-sized satellite, another part of STS-134‘s payload is WISPERS or Canary — a plasma spectrometer designed and built by the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland.

Canary, a plasma spectrometer, will investigate the interaction of approaching spacecraft with the background plasma environment around the ISS and disturbances in the ionosphere caused by space vehicles. The device will also provide a better understanding of the origin and impact of plasma irregularities in the Earth’s ionosphere, and demonstrate low-cost techniques for monitoring those conditions. Canary is the second Wafer Integrated Plasma Spectrometers (WISPERS) device created by APL; engineers used innovative MicroElectroMechanical (MEMS) technology when designing WISPERS to reduce size and energy consumption while increasing sensitivity. The first WISPERS device was launched last year aboard FalconSat-5. “Canary and WISPERS will provide on-orbit data for understanding how spacecraft operations affect the natural environment,” says Robert Osiander, principal investigator for WISPERS at APL.
Canary gathers particles of plasma (an electrically-charged gas) through a hole smaller than the diameter of a human hair; the particles are then sorted according to energy and type by a titanium electrostatic analyzer less than a tenth of an inch thick. By measuring the type and energy levels of plasma around it, Canary can provide warnings of potentially hazardous operating conditions.

“Canary will add an important new tool to those we use to understand the near-Earth space environment,” says Larry Paxton, a space scientist at APL and member of the Canary team. “Canary will also demonstrate a new, cost-effective approach to supporting our nation’s operations in space.”
Canary was built by APL in coordination with the Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center (SPARC) at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and was funded in part by the Naval Research Laboratory‘s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program. Canary is part of the STP-H3 payload, which is integrated and flown under the direction of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program. Canary is scheduled to be installed on the ISS on flight day 3.