March 25 News Items

US: North Korea Loading Rocket on Launch Pad (Source: AP)
North Korea is loading a Taepodong rocket on its east coast launch pad in anticipation of the launch of a communications satellite early next month, U.S. officials say. Regional powers worry the claim is a cover for the launch of a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said earlier this month that all indications suggest North Korea will in fact launch a satellite. North Korea faked a satellite launch in 1998 to cloak a missile development test. In 2006, it launched a Taepodong-2 that blew up less than a minute into flight. (3/25)

Ariane Chief Decries Pick of China for Satellite Launch (Source:
The head of European aerospace giant Arianespace expressed "shock" that a Chinese competitor has been chosen by Eutelsat Communications to launch a satellite into space. The choice of China "leaves us extremely perplexed," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, CEO of French rocket launch company Arianespace. Earlier this month China inked the deal with Eutelsat to launch the company's W3B satellite on one of its Long March rockets -- much to the chagrin of detractors like Le Gall, who fear that the agreement will anger the United States.

"Various governments -- most notably the United States -- have good reasons for wishing that there not be a technology transfer to China," he told AFP. Le Gall added that in his view, Eutelsat's decision to let China launch its satellite could be interpreted as being "hostile to the United States." Even though the Eutelsat satellite in question contains no American-made parts, Le Gall said that it does contain equally sensitive European-made components, which flouts the spirit of the ITAR rule. (3/25)

Nigeria, China Sign Pact to Replace Faulty Satellite by 2011 (Source: Xinhua)
Nigeria and China have signed a contract for a new communications satellite that will replace one sidelined by a power failure. According to the contract signed in Beijing on Tuesday, the replacement satellite has been named NIGCOMSAT-1R and is due to be launched by 2011 with no cost to Nigeria, the Lagos-based Guardian reported. The new space vehicle will replace NIGCOMSAT-1, which was launched on May 14, 2007, but was displaced on Nov. 10, 2008, because of a solar power failure that occurred on one edge of the satellite. (3/25)

Russians Taking Last "Space Tourist" to Station (Source: Technology Review)
A Russian Soyuz is delivering the last private tourist, U.S. software designer Charles Simonyi, to the space station. Since the station is expanding from three crew members to six, future Soyuz must be used to accommodate government astronauts who have been waiting years to live aboard the orbiting laboratory. Such heavy lifting for Soyuz puts an end, for now, to what was once a lucrative Russian space tourism program.

Since 2001, the Russians have flown six private spaceflight participants, who paid at minimum $20 million brokered through Virginia-based Space Adventures, for trips to space. Simonyi will be making his second trip, a $35 million deal, to the station. He is scheduled for a 12-day mission to perform research on bone density loss and lower-back pain in space, to work on Earth-observation studies, and to communicate with students. (3/25)

New Forecast Identifies 2,033 Space Payloads through 2028 (Source: Earth Times)
The Teal Group has revised figures for the Worldwide Mission Model survey of future space payloads. The study encompasses 2,033 payloads proposed through 2009-2028. The 2,033 payloads reflect a 2.5% increase over the 1,981 payloads counted in the Model for the period 2008-2027. Most of this growth can be attributed to a nearly 7% increase in the number of the civil payloads factored into the Model, based on more available information about scientific and technology satellites planned by the Chinese and Indian national space programs, as well as more small and micro satellites proposed by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Commercial payloads, which include traditional telecommunications and TV broadcasting, digital radio and direct TV broadcasting, broadband and mobile communications, and earth imaging satellites account for 41% of the payloads in the Model, as compared to 39% for civil payloads, 17% for military, and 3% for university. In Models released during the 2005-2007 the percentage of commercial payloads relative to other types of payloads steadily declined from 39% to 36.2% to 34.5%. This trend began to reverse in 2008 and continues in this year's Model, reflecting the dozens of replacement satellites for the Globalstar, Iridium and Orbcomm low earth orbit (LEO) mobile communications constellations

North America accounts for 40% of the total payloads in the Model; Europe, 22%; Asia & Pacific Rim, 16%; Russia and former states of the Soviet Union, 16%; Africa & Middle East, 3%; and Latin America & Caribbean, 3%. The United States alone accounts for 39% of the payloads. More than half of all the proposed military payloads are for the US Department of Defense (DoD). Approximately 23% of all the civil payloads are for NASA. (3/25)

Globalstar Announces Financing Deal (Source: Globalstar)
Globalstar announced that Coface has agreed to provide a guaranty in support of a proposed $574 million credit facility to be extended by a syndicate of banks to Globalstar as borrower. Coface, the export credit agency acting on behalf of the French government, has advised Globalstar that it intends to provide long-term credit insurance to facilitate the proposed credit facility. The credit facility and receipt of funding by Globalstar is subject to closing conditions and there can be no assurance at this time that any such closing will actually occur. (3/25)

Space Beat Getting Smaller (Source: Discovery News)
Anyone who tells you they’re not worried about losing their job either works for the government or lives in the land of Denial. So while it was a surprise, it certainly wasn’t totally unexpected to learn of the departure of a 23-year colleague and friend on the space beat, Mark Carreau, from the Houston Chronicle. This cut bleeds deeply, as Carreau is one of the top journalists on a beat that needs as many inquiring minds and serious voices as possible in the ongoing battle for technical accuracy and government accountability, both attributes that are quickly losing cache in the bottom-dollar mentality and fear gripping our society. (3/25)

Musk Talks Falcon-9 at DC Event (Source: Personal Spaceflight)
SpaceX founder Elon Musk gave a general overview of what SpaceX is doing on both the Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft. He said there are 19 orders for Falcon-9 missions (12 for NASA ISS resupply) with two additional orders forthcoming. He said the biggest obstacle to an on-time Falcon-9 inaugural launch this summer is the fairing and fairing separation system for the rocket, which SpaceX is doing in-house. SpaceX hopes to do 2-3 Falcon 9 launches this year and 4-5 in 2010. He said SpaceX is not affected by PlanetSpace’s protest of the commercial resupply contracts NASA awarded in December to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. Musk said that PlanetSpace has dropped its protest of the SpaceX award but is continuing to pursue its protest of the Orbital award. (3/25)

Space Research Bill Advances in Tallahassee, Picks Up Sponsors (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Economic Development Policy Council of the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 69 on Mar. 25, allowing the bill to advance to a final vote of the full House. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, and Space Florida voiced their support for HB-69 during the Council hearing. HB-69 would establish the Space Transportation Research & Development Institute (STRDI) in Florida Statutes. Led by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, STRDI is intended as a national multi-university initiative to tackle space transportation technology and policy challenges that would improve the competitiveness of the space launch industry.

A companion bill (SB-888) in the Florida Senate may be heard next week by the first of three committees assigned to consider it. Together, the bills now have garnered the support of 31 sponsors and co-sponsors in the Florida Legislature. Click here for information on HB-69. Other space-related bills this year include bills to establish tax incentives within a Commercial Launch Zone (HB-423), and to create a program through which space projects may be funded (HB-307). The Legislative Session runs through the first week of May. (3/25)

ILS to Launch Intelsat Spacecraft (Source:
International Launch Services announced Tuesday that it has agreed to launch an Intelsat spacecraft later this year that had previously been scheduled to be launched by a competitor. A Proton M will launch the Intelsat 16 satellite in the fourth quarter of this year. The 2,500-kilogram spacecraft is under construction by Orbital Sciences Corp. Intelsat had awarded a contract to Land Launch in 2008 to launch the spacecraft on a Zenit-3SLB. The ILS contract is the latest in a series of recent launch awards to ILS for spacecraft that had previously contracted for launches elsewhere. (3/25)

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