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NewsBeamFig1.jpg Army Satellite Success With SpaceX
The U.S. Army’s first satellite in more than 50 years piggybacked into low Earth orbit Wednesday as part of SpaceX’s launch of its two-stage Falcon 9 booster rocket and prototype reusable space capsule, Dragon. About 45 minutes after the 8:43 a.m. CST liftoff, the Army SMDC-ONE (Space and Missile Defense Command - Operational Nanosatellite Effect) nanosatellite deployed from the second stage of the rocket, which also carried other payloads. Ground stations at the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command headquarters on Redstone Arsenal and at Colorado Springs, Colorado, quickly began receiving data from the satellite about the health of its systems.

“The launch and deployment of the first SMDC-ONE nanosatellites is intended to demonstrate the concept of sending and receiving data from unattended ground sensors using small, low-cost, low Earth orbit satellites,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, commanding general, Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

The nanosatellites would be constantly overhead, collecting data from ground sensors and relaying it over the horizon to commanders, according to John London, program manager in the SMDC Technical Center. The nanosatellites can also be used for communications and, if the concept proves feasible, could quickly be configured for other specific missions.

The ultimate goal is to have satellites that cost around $300,000 each and are either secondary payloads aboard other rockets — as in Wednesday’s SpaceX launch — or that could be put in orbit virtually on demand by a new class of smaller boosters, the Multipurpose NanoMissile System. Dynetics in Huntsville is already working on MNMS, which has a goal of putting a nanosat in orbit for about $1 million. The team hopes to have a sub-orbital flight test, complete with satellite, in 2011, and an orbital test in 2012.

This is the Army’s first satellite development program since the 1960 Courier 1B communications satellite. The SMDC-ONE satellites each weigh less than 10 pounds and are about 14 inches long. In April 2009, SMDC took delivery of eight of the four-kilogram satellites at the end of a one-year contract effort led by Miltec of Huntsville, Pericle Communications Company, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Clyde Space Limited of Glasgow, Scotland. Two more of the SMDC-ONE satellites are scheduled for a launch in late 2011.
SpaceX Dragon Launches Mystery Payload (Cheese In Space!)
While SpaceX was planning the first civilian launch from the Cape yesterday, rumors were flying about the ‘secret’ payload on board the Dragon. Twenty-four hours later, the launch was successful — the Dragon cycled twice at speeds of up to 17,000 miles per hour all the while carrying a large round mystery payload that turned out to be — cheese — in a tribute to Monty Python!

Upon landing successfully in the Pacific Ocean, the Dragon was recovered and... the cheese wheel was found to be in fine condition. Imagine the cheers that went up as the seal was broken and the payload inspected. Guess that’s why when they were smiling for the press they said, “Cheese!” No one said space stuff had to be boring... perhaps there were some crackers handed out to the recovery team to go with the cheese?

Sail Ho!
On December 6th at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA, for the first time, successfully ejected a nanosatellite from a free-flying microsatellite. NanoSail-D was successfully ejected from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT, demonstrating the capability to deploy a small cubesat payload from an autonomous microsatellite in space.
Nanosatellites, or cubesats, are typically launched and deployed from a mechanism called a Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD) that’s mounted directly on a launch vehicle. This is the first time NASA has mounted a P-POD on a microsatellite to eject a cubesat. FASTSAT, equipped with six science and technology demonstration payloads, including NanoSail-D, launched Friday, November19th at 8:25 p.m. EST from Kodiak Island, Alaska. During launch, the NanoSail-D flight unit, about the size of a loaf of bread, was stowed inside FASTSAT in a P-POD.

The NanoSail-D flight results will help to mature this technology so it could be used on future large spacecraft missions to aid in de-orbiting space debris created by decommissioned satellites without using valuable mission propellants. After ejection, a timer within NanoSail-D will begin a three day countdown as the satellite orbits the Earth. Once the timer reaches zero, four booms will quickly deploy and the NanoSail-D sail will start to unfold to a 100 square foot polymer sail. Within five seconds the sail fully unfurls. If the deployment is successful, NanoSail-D will stay in low-Earth orbit between 70 and 120 days, depending on atmospheric conditions. NanoSail-D is designed to demonstrate deployment of a compact solar sail boom system that could lead to further development of this alternative solar sail propulsion technology and FASTSAT’s ability to eject a nanosatellite from a microsatellite — while avoiding re-contact with the FASTSAT satellite bus.

NanoSail-D was designed and built by engineers in Huntsville and managed at the Marshall Center with technical and hardware support from NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. This experiment is a combined effort between the Space and Missile Defense Command, Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, both located in Huntsville, Alabama. And NASA’s FASTSAT launched on the STP-S26 mission, a joint activity between NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program. The satellite was designed, developed and tested at the Marshall Center in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville. Dynetics provided key engineering, manufacturing and ground operations support for the new microsatellite — Thirteen Huntsville-area firms, as well as the University of Alabama in Huntsville, were also part of the project team.

NewsBeamFig4.jpg How To Pack with Aplomb
The Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses, or O/OREOS, nanosatellite managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center, successfully launched at 5:25 p.m. PST on Friday, November 19th, 2010, from Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

O/OREOS rode into orbit aboard a four-stage Air Force Minotaur IV rocket. Also aboard were the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Test ProgramSat-2 (STPSat-2), NASA’s Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, payload bus which carried the NanoSail-Demonstration (see story in BEAM), NASA’s first solar sail, as well as other satellites developed by universities and industry. The goal of the O/OREOS mission is to demonstrate the capability to conduct low-cost astrobiology science experiments on autonomous nanosatellites in space.

Scientists will apply the knowledge they gain from O/OREOS to plan future experiments in the space environment to study how exposure to space changes organic molecules and biology. These experiments will help answer astrobiology’s fundamental questions about the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. Approximately 19 minutes after launch, O/OREOS separated from the Minotaur IV rocket and entered low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 400 miles. About three hours after launch, amateur radio operator, Marco Bruno, in Torino, Italy received the first signals from O/OREOS.

After a spacecraft checkout period, O/OREOS autonomously initiated the first of two experiments, which will last approximately six months and transmit data for as long as a year. The second experiment will start on Friday, November 26, 2010. Now that
O/OREOS is activated and has begun transmitting radio signals to ground control stations at Santa Clara University, the nanosatellite will send mission data to the NASA Mission Management and science teams at Ames for analysis.

The STPSat-2 launch was the STP’s 26th small launch vehicle mission. The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Wing at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, has overall management of the STPSat-2 mission. The Small Spacecraft Division at Ames manages the O/OREOS payload and mission operations with the professional support of staff and students from Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California, in support of the Astrobiology Small Payloads program under the Planetary Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington.

Falcon 9 — A Window To The Future
The first Falcon 9 demonstration package launched successfully from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on December 8th at 10:43 a.m., EST, with the Dragon capsule now in orbit. There is true cause for celebration at SpaceX with this successful event, as the first private, commercial space company has launched their product from the Cape. At 8:01 PST, the Dragon capsule separated from its second stage and trunk and performed two Earth orbits, as controllers put the spacecraft through several maneuvers. Dragon then re-entered the atmosphere for a Pacific Ocean splashdown, approximately 500 miles west of the Mexican coast. (Also see the “Army Satellite Success” and the “Cheese In Space” news item earlier in this news section of SatMagazine.)

Polishing Up The Project
The first flight mirror segment for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) primary mirror has completed its final polishing process, the first of 18 segments that comprise the Observatory’s 21 ft. primary mirror.

NewsBeamFig5.jpg Northrop Grumman Corporation is leading the design and development effort for the space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Performed at Tinsley Laboratories Inc. in Richmond, Calif., the optical fabrication process is one of the longest and most rigorous steps in mirror manufacturing. Each of the 18 primary mirror segments undergoes high precision grinding, aspheric polishing and testing to tolerances as tight as 20 nanometers, or less than a millionth of an inch. Each mirror segment is polished and tested at least 30 times. After each polishing cycle, the mirror segment is cooled to 80K (-315 deg. F) in a liquid nitrogen chamber to test the polishing process, which ensures that when the mirror segment reaches cryogenic temperatures, it will change its shape into the exact optical prescription needed for the mission.

The mirror segment will next be sent to Quantum Coatings, Inc. in Moorestown, N.J., where a thin coat of gold is deposited on the mirror’s optical surface to increase its reflective properties. The layer of gold measures 120 nanometers, a thickness of about a millionth of an inch or 200 times thinner than a human hair. The segment will next be shipped to Ball Aerospace where actuators will be added, and then on to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for a cryotest at minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (near absolute zero). The first mirror segment will be closely followed by the remaining 17 segments.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s nexgen space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

NewsBeamFig6.jpg A Brilliant Project
Austria will launch its first satellites into space next year. The satellites will be used to measure variations in the brilliance of stars, a project leader from the Technical University (TU) of Graz announced last week.The two cube-shaped satellites, each measuring 20 centimetres (eight inches) per side and weighing seven kilograms (15 pounds), are part of a joint project with Canada and Poland entitled “BRITE” (Bright Target Explorer).

Developed by TU Graz and the Technical University of Vienna, in collaboration with the University of Toronto in Canada, the two mini-satellites will measure the light intensity of stars with more precision than was possible until now. This could help explain how stars are formed and reveal further clues about the history of the universe, he explained. The Austrian satellites will be launched aboard an Indian rocket in late July, although a clear date as not yet been set. Four further satellites — two from Poland and two from Canada — will follow in 2012. Ground control stations in Graz and Vienna, as well as compatible stations in Poland and Canada, will download data from the satellites. The satellites’ life expectancy is estimated at two years, but they could survive longer, as well.

NewsBeamFig7.jpg TanDEM-X’ Milestone
TanDEM-X passed another important milestone: the radar mission’s test phase has concluded in less than six months according to plan, paving the way for routine operations - the collection of elevation data - in 2011.

The TanDEM-X mission was developed by the German Aerospace Center in collaboration with Astrium, and is operated from DLR Oberpfaffenhofen. The objective of the mission is to create a highly accurate three-dimensional elevation model of Earth’s entire surface.

Immediately after it was launched to its 514-kilometre high orbit on 21 June 2010, the satellite was operating nominally, and sent back its first high resolution images after just three and a half days. TanDEM-X was thoroughly tested and calibrated over the following months.

This included the first close formation flight with TerraSAR-X, launched in 2007, during which the two radar satellites flew at a distance of just a few hundred metres from each other. This formation flight made it possible to take simultaneous images of Earth’s surface from two different points of view - crucial to the three-dimensional mapping of the entire globe.

Double Delivery
Globalstar, Inc. (Nasdaq:GSAT) has taken delivery of two new second-generation satellites from manufacturer Thales Alenia Space. NewsBeamFig8.jpg

Globalstar expects to take delivery of four additional satellites in early 2011 and all six satellites will then be shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. There, they will undergo preparations and testing for launch using the highly reliable Soyuz launch vehicle. In October, Globalstar successfully launched six new second-generation satellites using the Soyuz.

Globalstar signed a contract with satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space in late 2006 for the design, manufacture, and delivery of its 2G constellation satellites. In 2007, Globalstar contracted with launch services provider Arianespace for a total of four launches of six satellites each using the Soyuz. Globalstar plans to integrate the 24 new second-generation satellites with the eight first-generation satellites that were launched in 2007, to form a 32 satellite constellation. The new satellites are designed to support Globalstar’s current lineup of voice, Duplex and Simplex data products and services including the Company’s lineup of SPOT retail consumer products.

Crucial Canberra Communications
NASA has taken the next step toward a new generation of Deep Space Network antennas.

A $40.7 million contract with General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies, San Jose, California, covers implementation of two additional 34-meter (112-foot) antennas at Canberra, Australia. This is part of Phase I of a plan to eventually retire the network’s aging 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) antennas. The Deep Space Network (DSN) consists of three communications complexes: in Goldstone, Calif.; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia. NewsBeamFig9.jpg

The 70-meter antennas are more than 40 years old and are showing signs of surface deterioration from constant use. Additional 34-meter antennas are being installed in Canberra in the first phase; subsequent phases will install additional 34-meter antennas in Goldstone and Madrid. The 34-meter beam waveguide antennas are essential to keep communications flowing smoothly as NASA’s fleet of spacecraft continues to expand. In addition, the waveguide design of the antennas provides easier access for maintenance and future upgrades, because sensitive electronics are housed in a below-the-ground pedestal equipment room, instead of in the center of the dish.

NewsBeamFig10.jpg A Delightful Deployment
Boeing has reported that the 22m L-band reflector on the SkyTerra 1 satellite has been successfully deployed. (link to the SatNews’ original news item regarding antenna deployment difficulties. All deployment indicators are nominal and Boeing will continue a series of on-orbit check-out procedures over the next several months prior to handing SkyTerra 1 — and the first Space Based Network — over to its LightSquared customer.

Payload Signed Up
Thales Alenia Space has signed a contract with Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales SA, ARSAT, to supply the payload for the second Argentine geostationary telecom satellite ARSAT-2, a part of the SSGAT program (Sistema Satelital Geoestacionario Argentino de Telecomunicaciones).

NewsBeamFig11.jpg INVAP, the Rio Negro Province high-tech powerhouse located in San Carlos de Bariloche, already involved in the manufacturing of observation satellites, was selected by ARSAT as prime contractor for ARSAT-2. To be fully compatible with the tight schedule of the program, the payload provided by Thales Alenia Space will be integrated, assembled and tested in INVAP facilities before being mated with their platform. ARSAT-2 follows the ARSAT-1 contract signed in September 2009: the Nahuel-1 satellite was already built by Thales Alenia Space.

ARSAT-2 is slated to enter service in 2013, and will be positioned at 81 degrees West. It will provide data, telephone and television transmission services for South and North America. Weighing about 3 tons at launch, it will offer a design life of 15 years. The payload will be fitted with 4 C- and 16 Ku-band transponders and will use 3.4 kW of power.

Webb Work
The first completely finished primary mirror segment for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has passed its final cryotest in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
This last successful cryotest demonstrates that the mirror segment, an engineering development unit and flight spare, has fully demonstrated its ability to meet the needs of the Webb Telescope program. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is leading the Webb Telescope design and development effort for the space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colorado, is the principal optical subcontractor for the Webb Telescope program, responsible for developing the telescope optics.
The mirror segment was recently coated to maximize its reflectivity in the infrared part of the spectrum. During the final cryotest, the mirror segment is chilled to -415 degrees F and telescope engineers take extremely detailed measurements of how the mirror’s shape changes as it cools. Cryotesting verifies that the mirror will change shape into the exact optical prescription needed to accurately image distant stars and galaxies. The primary mirror engineering development unit will be closely followed by 18 primary mirror flight segments.

Ahead Of GPS Schedule
NewsBeamFig13.jpg The 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colorado, has completed its sustainment software release for the GPS operational control segment ground system ahead of schedule.

The software release, which was scheduled to be complete in early January 2011, was accomplished ahead of schedule on December 8th, thanks to the dedication and teamwork by the Space and Missile Center’s GPS Directorate and the 2nd Space Operations Squadron. “The sustainment initiative was transparent to GPS users worldwide,” said Col. Harold Martin, chief, Positioning, Navigation and Timing Division, Air Force Space Command Directorate of Requirements.

This sustainment release is part of a larger on-going effort by the Air Force to improve and maintain the current GPS ground system before the next generation GPS control segment is deployed in 2015,” added Colonel Martin. “The GPS constellation remains healthy, stable and robust with 31 operational satellites on-orbit providing precise positioning, navigation and timing worldwide, free of direct charges to users.” i

A Proper Grounding
GMV has announced a contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation to provide the ground system for the Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite.

NewsBeamFig14.jpg The Republic of Azerbaijan selected Orbital to build the nation’s first commercial communications satellite. GMV will integrate the entire ground system for the Azerspace/Africasat-1a GEO satellite, including the satellite telemetry and telecommand system based upon GMV’s product hifly, the flight dynamics system based upon GMV’s product focussuite, the payload management systems based upon smartHz, as well as the ground equipment monitoring and control.

GMV will provide two antenna ground stations with satellite control centers in Azerbaijan and one satellite control center in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. With an expected launch in 2012, GMV plans to install the ground system in 2012.

Naval Nanos
Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, December 8, 2010, as secondary payloads on a Space Exploration (SpaceX) Technologies, Inc., Falcon 9 launch vehicle, two NRL Naval Center for Space Technology designed and built nano-satellites have been deployed to evaluate nano-satellites as a platform for experimentation and technology development.

NewsBeamFig15.jpg Known as the CubeSat Experiment (QbX), the two 3U (30x10x10 cm) CubeSat buses were built by Pumpkin, Inc., San Francisco, Calif., and provided to the NRL by the National Reconnaissance Office’s (NRO’s) Colony Program Office. This is the first flight of the Pumpkin-built Colony I spacecraft bus and is being used to evaluate the performance of the vehicle as a platform for experimentation.

NewsBeamFig16.jpg Engineers from the NRL Spacecraft Engineering Department are in the checkout phase of the 3U CubeSats, the NRL developed tracking, telemetry and command (TTC) radio is fully functional, providing reliable two-way data transfers and the flight software, ported from previous and ongoing NRL programs to the Pumpkin Colony I processor, is providing an onboard scheduler for routine vehicle control and operation.

Spacecraft attitude is controlled by, and operates in, a novel “Space Dart” mode. Due to the low orbit (300km) atmospheric drag provides a stabilization torque that, used with reaction wheels and torque coils, provides stable pointing to within five degrees of Nadir throughout the orbit. The system has been verified on both vehicles and is providing a stable platform for continued experimentation.

The primary payload launched aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 was the Dragon Module. Developed by SpaceX and sponsored by NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the Dragon Module is an initiative to develop private spacecraft to ferry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Flight software, antennas, and the TTC radio were built and integrated by the NRL, as was the developmental communications payload. Environmental testing of the completed package was also performed at NRL. Ground stations on the east and west coasts provide coverage for command loads and data collection.