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Spacecraft, Launch Vehicles & Satellites
 
AXESAT SELECTS EUTELSAT 115 WEST B TO PROVIDE CONNECTIVITY IN SOUTH AMERICA
Friday, September 4, 2015

Source: Eutelsat SA

PARIS - Axesat, an enterprise connectivity provider in Latin America, has signed a multi-year, multi-transponder agreement with Eutelsat Communications' Eutelsat Americas subsidiary. Axesat will use Eutelsat capacity to provide corporate services in South American countries. Axesat has chosen the next-generation EUTELSAT 115 West B satellite to support its new phase of expansion. The all-electric satellite is on track to enter service next month.

Axesat will leverage the new satellite’s South American footprint that spans from Colombia to Chile, to enable customers in energy, agricultural, financial, educational and government sectors to remain connected, even in the most remote locations. Axesat will also use the EUTELSAT 113 West A satellite to provide corporate connectivity solutions in Mexico for the banking and retail industries.

EUTELSAT 115 West B, previously known as Satmex 7, is one of the first all-electric satellites ordered by a commercial communications satellite operator. Traditionally, satellites have used electric propulsion for station keeping, while using chemical propulsion to reach their intended orbit. The all-electric system will lower the satellites launch mass, reducing launch costs. The downside is that the satellites take longer to reach their intended orbit. However, due to the low cost, the market for all-electric satellites is expected to increase going forward.

In addition to its new technology, the satellite also represents a push by Eutelsat to increase its presence in Latin America. It will be followed into orbit in fourth quarter 2015 by the all-electric EUTELSAT 117 West B satellite that will be located at 117° West to boost capacity for Latin America broadcast markets. EUTELSAT 65 West A, the third satellite in the expansion roadmap of Eutelsat Americas, is scheduled for launch during the second half of 2016. It will feature high-power coverage of Brazil and Latin America in C, Ku and Ka-bands.

Source:  Eutelsat
Associated URL: http://news.eutelsat.com/pressreleases/axesat-selects-next-generation-eutelsat-1
Source Date: September 4, 2015
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 09/04/2015

 
 
NORTHROP GRUMMAN DEMONSTRATES SHARSHADE'S ABILITY TO IDENTIFY CELESTIAL OBJECTS
Friday, September 4, 2015

Source: Northrop Grumman Corp.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. - Northrop Grumman engineers and astronomers demonstrated the ability of a petal-shaped starshade to clearly see celestial objects during two, weeklong series of engineering tests on Kitt Peak at the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. This was the first time a starshade was tested against actual astronomical objects.

The team experimented with three different starshade designs, a circular shape and two petal-shaped designs. The petal-shaped designs demonstrated superior performance, allowing the team to clearly view objects surrounding Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and the stars Sirius and Vega.

"The physics of the circular shape have been known for years," said Steve Warwick, systems engineer, test lead, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "We were amazed at just how effectively the petal-shaped starshade design canceled the light coming from very bright planets and bright stars."

The starshade is a free-flying occulter intended to fly thousands of kilometers in front of a space telescope and block out the light of a nearby star, enabling astronomers to directly see planets surrounding the stars. The technology is specifically intended to detect Earth-like planets.

The 2.1 meter heliostat mirror at McMath-Pierce is conducive for starshade research as it provides distance between the starshade and the imaging telescope while tracking stars and planets to the accuracies required for long exposure times. McMath-Pierce is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Northrop Grumman has been working on the starshade, associated engineering and enabling technologies since 2004. The company performed tests in the Nevada desert in 2014 and 2015 using an LED as the star source - but the tests at McMath represent the first substantial times the starshade was tested against celestial bodies.

The search for exoplanets is a major push by NASA and other space agencies around the world. Many of the exoplanet discoveries have been made by telescopes in space, such as the Kepler satellite. However, ground-based observatories continue to make important discoveries, and also are used to verify potential exoplanets discovered by space-based observatories. Deploying starshades will increase the effectiveness of these ground-based telescopes.

Source:  Northrop Grumman
Associated URL: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsarchive/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=10
Source Date: September 4, 2015
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 09/04/2015

 
 
MARS EXPLORATION PROGRAM FEELS GOVERNMENT SPENDING CRUNCH
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NEWTOWN, Conn. - One factor limiting NASA's Mars exploration efforts is an overall U.S. government spending crunch. In recent years, overall NASA spending has been held flat as the federal government attempts to cut spending. NASA needs to support a wide range of programs. The Mars Exploration Program will need to compete for dollars with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), human spaceflight efforts, and even other planetary science missions.

That said, there are positive signs that spending at NASA will be maintained or even increase going forward. In addition, the Mars Exploration Program continues to receive strong support from NASA and Congress.

In response to the budget situation, NASA has moderated its plans for planetary exploration, which will improve the chances that Congress will support programs financially. Originally, the agency teamed with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a joint mission to Mar. However, as that program became too expensive for NASA, the space agency decided to develop its own mission to Mars.

The space agency will now develop its a Mars rover that will be a clone of the Curiosity rover currently exploring the Martian surface. Utilizing hardware from that mission will keep costs in check. The program is estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

NASA expects that the rover will launch in 2020. NASA will continue to operate the rover Curiosity on Mars' surface following a successful landing on August 6, 2012, and will operate the MAVEN (launched in November 2013) following successful insertion into orbit in September 2014. NASA has also begun investigating a Mars orbiter to launch in 2022 that will provide scientific observation and communications links for rovers on the planet surface.

Source:  Forecast International
Associated URL: www.forecastinternational.com
Source Date: September 3, 2015
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 09/03/2015

 

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