May 26, 2014

Sea Launch Lofts First Satellite in More than a Year (Source: Space News)
A Russian-Ukrainian Sea Launch-3SL rocket on May 26 successfully placed the Eutelsat 3B commercial telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, a return to flight some 15 months after a spectacular failure that destroyed an Intelsat satellite. Operating from its floating platform located at 154 degrees west longitude on the equator in the Pacific Ocean, Sea Launch’s three-stage Zenit-3SL deposited the 5,967-kilogram Eutelsat 3B into a transfer orbit after two burns of its Block DM upper stage. (5/26)

SLS Engine Prepared for the Test Stand (Source: RocketSTEM)
Formerly known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine, the RS-25 accumulated more than one million seconds – or almost 280 hours – of hot fire experience during 135 missions and numerous engine tests like the one pictured here. Four RS-25 engines will power the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and the engine will go back in the stand for testing this summer at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (5/25)

Water in Dragon Capsule Didn’t Affect Returned Cargo (Source: NewSpace Journal)
Any water leakage in, or into, the capsule does not appear to have caused problems for the payloads returned from the station. “All early-return cargo was delivered on time Tuesday as planned and is in good condition,” NASA spokesperson Rachel Kraft said in response to an inquiry about the reported water intrusion.

“Early-return cargo included about 660 pounds of ambient and cold stowage science samples for which all temperature requirements were met... The remaining cargo from Dragon is on its way back to NASA facilities in Houston and is expected to arrive on Friday,” the statement continued. “Initial indications show no issues with the returned hardware, which will undergo normal inspection upon arrival in Houston.” (5/25)

Request for Alternative GPS 3 Payloads Draws Five Responses (Source: Space News)
Five companies have expressed interest in replacing Exelis as the payload provider on the next-generation GPS 3 satellite navigation system now in development and production, an official with prime contractor Lockheed Martin  said. Exelis’ struggles on the payload — resulting in delays and one very unhappy U.S. Air Force customer — prompted Lockheed Martin to consider switching suppliers beginning with the ninth satellite in the series.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is so far under contract to build eight GPS 3 satellites, with Exelis providing the payloads. “It’s a possibility,” Mark Valerio, vice president of military space business at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said on the chances of holding a competition. (5/23)

Russian Launch Countdown Resumes without Canada (Source: Space News)
The launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket from which a Canadian satellite was removed in protest against Russia’s actions in Ukraine has been rescheduled for June 28 and will carry U.S., British and Norwegian satellites. The builder of one of the British satellites, Surrey Satellite Technology, confirmed that its TechDemoSat-1, built for the British government and carrying eight separate experiment payloads, is now preparing for a June 28 launch from Baikonour.

Liftoff of the Soyuz rocket, equipped with a Fregat restartable upper stage, had been pending the readiness of its main passenger, Russia’s Meteor-M2 meteorological satellite, designed to operate in a near-polar low Earth orbit. The Canadian government in late April barred the launch of Canada’s M3M Sat, which was to be used by exactEarth of Canada to reinforce exactEarth’s constellation of satellites providing data on maritime traffic via signals picked up by the satellite sensor and relayed to coastal authorities.

Two other satellites performing just about the same function – but built for Russian and Norwegian companies – are among the Soyuz passengers. (5/23)

Japan Satellite to Survey Disasters (Source: Space Daily)
Japan successfully launched a new mapping satellite on Saturday that will be used to survey damage from natural disasters and changes affecting rainforests. The Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 (ALOS-2) will be able to see scars left by catastrophes such as Japan's 2011 tsunami as well as monitor progress made in reconstruction, officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. (5/24)

Water Mission Boosts Food Security (Source: Space Daily)
ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission has gone beyond its original scientific brief of delivering critical information for understanding the water cycle - this versatile satellite is now being used to predict drought and improve crop yield in regions prone to famine.

The US Department of Agriculture use satellite images and soil moisture data to help identify abnormal weather that may affect the production and yield of crops. Using this information, they publish monthly estimates of world production, supply and distribution. (5/23) 

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