December 25, 2010

Russia Begins Proton Launch Campaign (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Eutelsat Communications confirmed today that the launch campaign of its KA-SAT satellite by an ILS Proton Breeze M vehicle has resumed at the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch is scheduled in the night of 26 to 27 December 2010. (12/25)

JAXA Set to Close Exhibition Following Cost-Cutting Panel's Recommendation (Source: Mainichi)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)'s Tokyo exhibition pavilion will close its doors permanently on Dec. 28 despite its increasing popularity following a government cost-cutting panel's recommendation to shut the facility. JAXA's showroom, JAXAi, opened in September 2004 in a bid to advertise the country's space activities through the display of a real rocket engine and other space-related items. (12/25)

Russia to Launch New-Generation Satellite on Jan. 20 (Source: Interfax)
Russia plans to launch a new-generation geostationary hydrometeorological satellite, Elektro-L, on January 20, 2011, from the Baikonur spaceport. The launch was originally planned for December 25. "The launch of a Zenit-2SB launch vehicle coupled with a Fregat-SB upper stage and carrying the first Elektro-L satellite will open the Russian 2011 space launch program."

The source explained the postponement of the launch by the fact that the Fregat-SB is an absolutely new version of an upper stage, and therefore "a decision has been made to carry out the full cycle of additional tests of all of its systems and check its technical and design documentation." (12/25)

Up From Akatsuki's Failure (Source: Japan Times)
An H-IIA rocket blasted the Venus planetary probe Akatsuki (daybreak) into space on May 21. But Akatsuki, Japan's first spacecraft sent to explore Venus, failed to orbit Venus after overshooting the planet due to engine trouble. The craft was developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency at a cost of ¥25.2 billion. Its failure stands in stark contrast to the space probe Hayabusa (peregrine falcon), which succeeded in collecting dust particles from the asteroid Itokawa. (12/25)

Indian GSLV Rocket Explodes After Leaving Launch Pad (Source: MSNBC)
A rocket carrying an Indian communications satellite exploded seconds after lift-off from a launchpad in India on Saturday in a potential setback for its commercial space business. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) exploded in the first stage of the flight, leaving a trail of smoke and fire. The initial launch of the GSAT-5P satellite had been pushed back because of an engine defect. Click here for photos. (12/25)

LEO-to-GEO Tug: Cheaper Than a Delta-IV Heavy (Source: Space Business Blog)
In response to recent blog posts about LEO tugs servicing Iridium’s satellite constellation, readers have been asking me about other uses for orbital tugs. One tug use that keeps coming up in our discussions is a LEO to GEO transfer tug. Such a tug would pick up a payload in LEO and transfer the payload to GEO, drop the payload off in the correct orbit, and return to LEO for its next payload.

Although there are some intriguing propulsion technologies on the horizon that make the case for such a tug easier to close, could a transfer tug be developed today with today’ s propellants to serve the extreme ends of the GEO Satellite market (projected for the next decade to be 20-25 satellites per year)? Click here to read the analysis. (12/23)

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