June 25, 2011

European Data-relay Project Battling Headwinds (Source: Space News)
A European project to relay data from low-orbiting Earth observation satellites to ground users via satellites in higher orbit is proving more difficult than expected to organize as government agencies and the private sector debate who manages what risks, European government and industry officials said. The latest evidence that the European Data Relay System (EDRS) was in trouble came when a planned June 23 contract-signing ceremony for a dedicated EDRS satellite was canceled at the last minute because the signatories had not agreed on terms. (6/24)

Astronomers Reach for Stars to Discover New Cancer Therapy (Source: OSU)
Astronomers’ research on celestial bodies may have an impact on the human body. Ohio State University astronomers are working with medical physicists and radiation oncologists to develop a potential new radiation treatment – one that is intended to be tougher on tumors, but gentler on healthy tissue.

In studying how chemical elements emit and absorb radiation inside stars and around black holes, the astronomers discovered that heavy metals such as iron emit low-energy electrons when exposed to X-rays at specific energies. Their discovery raises the possibility that implants made from certain heavy elements could enable doctors to obliterate tumors with low-energy electrons, while exposing healthy tissue to much less radiation than is possible today. (6/24)

Senate Authorizers: AEHF Block Buy Must Save 20 Percent (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee passed a bill June 17 that supports the U.S. Air Force’s plan to buy a pair of secure communications satellites with a fixed-price contract provided the service can prove it would cost 20 percent less than buying the satellites separately. (6/24)

NOAA Asks To Move $90M into Cash-strapped JPSS (Source: Space News)
NOAA on June 14 asked Congress to approve a revised 2011 spending plan that would shift $90 million lawmakers approved for other agency projects to a new polar-orbiting weather satellite program. NOAA proposes to boost spending on the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) to $471.9 million this year and pay for the increase in part by cutting spending on several of its other satellite programs. (6/24)

Inside Europe's Answer to NASA (Source: CBS)
ESA has 18 member states, mostly in Europe, but also including Canada, and it is NASA's counterpart across the pond. As for ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Center), it has a number of different mandates, but broadly speaking, they fall into four main areas: Developing and managing ESA missions; Supporting the ESA's space systems and associated technologies with technical and managerial expertise; Running an environmental test center for spacecraft; and providing the European space industry and corresponding institutions with logistical support. (6/24)

ESA to Fire Up Next-Gen Launcher (Source: Flight Global)
ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain has described 2011 as ESA's "year of launchers". He pushed that vision into the future by signing the Astrium-Avio-Snecma propulsion team to extend to a firing demonstration its work on a high-thrust cryogenic engine that could form the basis of ESA's next-generation launcher.

It will not fly until about 2025, but is intended to provide a medium-lift capability in a modular design, with a re-ignitable upper stage and options for strap-on solid propellant boosters offering extra thrust. ESA director of launchers Antonio Fabrizi said the basic configuration has yet to be decided, but that it is important to push ahead with this €60 million demonstration phase - work has been ongoing since 2007 - "to have something more complete" to evaluate. (6/24)

Nigeria Prepares to Launch Two Earth Observation Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
Nigeria has concluded plans to launch into orbit two satellites from Russia on July 7, a top government official with the country's National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has said. Director General of the agency Seidu Mohammed said the earth observation satellites, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X, would be launched on July 7 aboard a Dnepr launch vehicle. (6/24)

LightSquared Interference Could Cause $96 Billion a Year in GPS Losses (Source: Inside GNSS)
Research released yesterday (June 22, 2011) indicates that interference from LightSquared cellular broadband transmitters could cost manufacturers and users of commercial GPS technology up to $96 billion. A study prepared by NDP Consulting Group, “The Economic Benefits of Commercial GPS Use in the United States and the Costs of Potential Disruption,” presented results that assumed two levels of interference: a 50 percent and a total disruption of GPS positioning. (6/24)

Advance Orders Keeping ULA on the Launch Pad (Source: Denver Business Journal)
United Launch Alliance CEO Michael Gass sees a bright future for the company with new kinds of launches. He doesn’t expect the ups and downs of the aerospace industry to hurt his rocket-launch company. The Colorado-based giant launches missions contracted by clients several years in advance, meaning it’s currently launching missions bought before the national recession and federal belt tightening. So, while Lockheed Martin plans to cut 1,200 jobs this year, ULA has a busy manifest of monthly launches for the foreseeable future. (6/24)

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