In The News

By | April 14, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

GeoEye-1 Earth Imaging Satellite Complete, General Dynamics States

Integration and environmental testing of the GeoEye-1 Earth imaging satellite is complete, producer General Dynamics Corp. [GD] announced.

General Dynamics is the prime contractor and integrator of the spacecraft and telescope for GeoEye, Inc. [GEOY].

GeoEye-1 will remain at the General Dynamics space systems facility until it is shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., for launch. A launch window opens Aug. 22.

"GeoEye-1 has now completed testing based on our proven processes that resulted in the successful in-orbit performance of all 10 satellites previously built by General Dynamics," said David Shingledecker, vice president and general manager of integrated space systems with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

Bill Schuster, GeoEye’s chief operating officer, said that GeoEye-1 "was delivered on budget without any change orders which often increase costs. GeoEye-1 and this class of satellites are an ideal system for broad-area imagery collection and mapping for our government and commercial customers."

GeoEye-1 is part of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) NextView program.

The NextView program is to ensure that NGA has access to commercial imagery supporting its mission to provide timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence for national security.

According to the companies, when operational, GeoEye-1 will be the world’s highest resolution commercial imaging satellite, designed to take highly precise images of the Earth from 425 miles (684 kilometers) in space.

The 4,310 pound satellite will collect imagery that can distinguish objects on Earth as small as 0.41meters, or about 16 inches.

TSAT Electronics Pass Test, Boeing Announces

The Boeing Co. [BA] and its industry partners demonstrated readiness of the advanced electronics that will be used in the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT).

Tests of the TSAT Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) demonstrated the microchip’s functionality, speed and suitability for spaceflight. Those tests, completed late last year at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, simulated the most challenging radiation environment TSAT will experience during operation.

Those tests are the result of more than 10 years of partnership between Boeing and IBM. The TSAT ASIC chip is the fourth generation of IBM terrestrial ASIC technology qualified for space use. The first appeared in 2001 in a Boeing-built satellite-based mobile communications system.

This used an ASIC chip designs that represent the most challenging functions required of TSAT. Tests simulated the harsh environment of space with a cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator that accelerates electrons using a high-frequency alternating charge.

The Boeing contractor team consists of Cisco Systems, Hughes, IBM, Harris Corp., Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., LGS Innovations, Raytheon, General Dynamics C4 Systems, L-3 Communications, BBN Technologies, EMS Technologies, SAIC and Innovative Communications Engineering.

That team submitted its TSAT Space Segment proposal to the Air Force July 30. The Air Force is expected to announce the winner of the multibillion-dollar contract later this year.

Satellite, On Orbit For A Quarter-Century, Still Works

A Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] satellite still works after 25 years on orbit, even though it was designed to last just 10 years, the company announced.

The first of six Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system spacecraft reached the quarter-century mark April 4.

That TDRS-1 satellite tracks and communicates with low-Earth-orbiting satellites. Altogether, TDRS-1 provided more communication coverage to the space shuttle mission it serviced in 1983 than the entire network of NASA tracking stations had provided in all previous shuttle missions.

A communication signal relay system, TDRS transmits voice, television, and digital and analog data between users’ satellites and control centers on Earth. The system is capable of transmitting and receiving data from customer satellites over their entire orbit, greatly enhancing the productivity of space assets.

In total, the six Northrop Grumman-built TDRS spacecraft have logged more than 40,000 mission days on orbit, delivering more than 800,000 hours of service.

The TDRS-1 satellite triumphed over a number of challenges that confronted the determined spacecraft immediately after it was launched from Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-6) in April 1983.

For example, it nearly was lost when the boost motor failed to insert the satellite into the proper orbit. NASA Goddard and Northrop Grumman engineers devised a novel solution — against all odds — that used tiny one-pound thrusters onboard the spacecraft to nudge it over a period of months into the proper geosynchronous orbit.

Because of the increasingly high inclination of its adjusted orbit, TDRS-1 was used in ways never expected. This unforeseen circumstance allowed TDRS-1 to be the first satellite to connect to the Internet, to provide a link for the first live Webcast from the North Pole, and to provide a link for the first wireless phone call from the North to the South Pole.

TDRS-1 also provided scientists at the Amundsen-Scott Base at the South Pole a year-round ability to return high volumes of science data.

The satellite was used during a medical emergency, allowing doctors in the U.S. to guide a welder through surgery on a woman diagnosed with breast cancer.

TDRS-1 is part of a constellation of six geosynchronous satellites built by Northrop Grumman Space Technology. Expected to collectively provide service for somewhere between 42 to 60 years, the constellation is approaching 104 years of operation without a single satellite being retired from service, based on the 10-year planned life of each satellite.

The six TDRSS satellites number among the 26 successful geosynchronous spacecraft built by the company in the last 25 years, all of which are still operating.

SBIRS Software Design Review Complete, Lockheed Announces

The software design review for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous orbit (GEO) spacecraft is complete, Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] announced.

That flight software provides command and control of SBIRS, a platform that is to provide early warning of missile launches, and simultaneously support other missions including missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace characterization.

Nearly 80 representatives from the Air Force, the nonprofit Aerospace Corp. and the Department of Defense participated in a detailed Integrated Design Review (IDR) at Lockheed facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Under contract to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the SBIRS prime contractor, enhanced SBIRS flight software to enable more robust command and data handling, fault management and safe-hold capabilities on the GEO satellite system.

An integral component of the spacecraft command and data handling subsystem, the fault management system responds when an anomaly is detected in normal operations, putting the satellite into a safe state while operators on the ground analyze the situation and take corrective action.

Successful completion of the IDR allows the team to proceed with final development and delivery of flight software blocks necessary to support pre-launch spacecraft testing, including thermal vacuum testing which will validate spacecraft performance at temperature extremes greater than those expected during on-orbit operations.

After the extensive environmental and final integrated test phase, the spacecraft will be shipped to the Air Force late next year in preparation for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Fla.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., and Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] unit Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., the payload integrator, are developing SBIRS for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The Air Force Space Command operates SBIRS.

Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to provide two HEO payloads and two GEO satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The Lockheed Martin team has delivered both HEO payloads and the first GEO satellite launch is scheduled for late next year.

The first HEO payload has completed initial on-orbit deployment and checkout and demonstrated that its performance meets or exceeds specifications. The program is in early stages of adding additional GEO spacecraft and HEO payloads to the planned constellation.

ATK Cites Its Widely Varied Programs During Space Symposium

Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK, is involved in myriad major space and missile programs, Ronald D. Dittemore, senior companywide vice president and president of ATK Launch Systems, said.

He briefed media members during the National Space Symposium at Colorado Springs, Colo.

Among other systems, ATK is involved in the existing space shuttle program where ATK is in the solid rocket booster effort. Also, the company is providing portions of the Ares I rocket that will boost the next-generation Orion space capsule into orbit. As well, ATK is working on the Launch Abort System rocket at the very top of the tall stack, an abort system that can whisk the space capsule and its astronauts away from danger in a crisis. And the company is in the solid rocket booster program for Ares V, the heavy-lift rocket for the next-generation spacecraft program.

The same ATK skirt and thrust vector control gear will be used in the next-generation spaceship as were used on the space shuttle.

ATK also is involved with missiles and missile defense programs, including Minuteman III, Trident II D5, and missile defense target missiles.

Then there are commercial launch programs, including Delta II and Delta IV, Taurus and Taurus II, the SLV and Pegasus.

Live chat by BoldChat