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By | November 13, 2006

      Arianespace To Launch Up To Three Sats For TerreStar

      Arianespace, the large French commercial launch services firm, was tapped by TerreStar Networks Inc. to launch up to three satellites, according to Arianespace.

      The first satellite may go up about a year hence. TerreStar I will be launched into geostationary transfer orbit by an Ariane 5 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

      TerreStar, a U.S.-headquartered subsidiary of Motient Corp. [MNCP] signed a “Launch on Demand” contract for TerreStar I with Arianespace.

      The space asset will be the largest commercial communications satellite ever launched into geostationary orbit.

      “We are very proud of our role in the development of the TerreStar system,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace CEO. “Winning a contract from this pioneer in new communications technologies once again underscores the excellent service and solutions offered by Arianespace.”

      The “Launch on Demand” contract between TerreStar and Ariannespace, a first in the industry, provides for up to three dedicated launch vehicles and entitles TerreStar to a launch window for TerreStar I, commencing in November 2007.

      The contract includes options for two additional launch vehicles, which TerreStar may assign to affiliates for operations in Europe or elsewhere.

      Robert H. Brumley, Motient president and CEO said, “We made the strategic decision to execute a firm, fixed-price contract for launch vehicles with Arianespace to avoid preemption by priority customers.

      “Arianespace’s success record and professional reputation were the key differentiators that led us to choose them for this critical mission. This partnership will help bring the next evolution in mobile communications to the North American and European markets and is further demonstration of TerreStar’s continued commitment to meet its regulatory requirements and business objectives.”

      This is the 277th launch contract won by Arianespace since being founded in March 1980.

      TerreStar I is currently under construction by Space Systems/Loral [SS/L] in Palo Alto, Calif. and will be the 33rd platform built by SS/L to be launched by Arianespace.

      TerreStar I will offer up to 500 spotbeams and a design life exceeding 15 years.

      Arianespace Will Launch Lockheed AMC-18 Satellite Next Month

      Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 launch vehicle to lift the AMC-18 satellite sometime next month, Arianespace announced.

      The SES AMERICOM satellite made initial contact with launcher hardware last week, in final pre-launch preparations continued.

      AMC-28 was built by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] unit Commercial Satellite Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif. The satellite is based on the Lockheed A2100 sat.

      A protective container holding the satellite during its cargo aircraft journey to French Guiana was raised into the vertical position at the spaceport. AMC-18 was lowered onto the cone-shape payload adapter structure that serves as the installation interface with Ariane 5.

      The SES Americom AMC-18 will be orbited by Ariane 5 along with the WildBlue-1 spacecraft, which is to expand satellite-delivered broadband connectivity for homes and small businesses across the United States.

      After deployment by Ariane 5, AMC-18 will operate from an orbital position of 105 degrees west.

      AMC-18 is equipped with 24 C-band transponders and will provide cable television services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean.

      With a design life of 15-plus years, it will expand the SES fleet of satellites that distribute cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

      Boeing Delta IV Rocket To Launch GPS Satellite Soon

      A global positioning navigation satellite will be launched in the middle of this month from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., The Boeing Co. [BA] announced.

      The satellite will be lifted on a Delta II rocket, according to Boeing, which didn’t specify a date or time for the liftoff.

      That should continue a series of successful launches for the company.

      For example, a Boeing Delta IV rocket carried a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 4.

      It was the second West Coast mission completed for the U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

      Liftoff of the Delta IV Medium occurred at 5:53 a.m. Pacific time from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 6. The DMSP-17 payload was successfully deployed approximately 18 minutes later.

      “The DMSP constellation has the critical job of providing specialized weather data to aid the U.S. military in planning operations at sea, on land and in the air,” said Dan Collins, vice president of Boeing Launch Systems. “The Delta team is proud to contribute to this important capability for national defense with this first launch of a DMSP satellite aboard a Delta rocket.”

      This was the seventh Delta IV launch since the configuration began flying in November 2002 and the third of the Medium configuration. This was the first direct injection mission for Delta IV.

      The Delta IV for the DMSP-17 mission comprised a common booster core and first stage powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68 engine.

      The second stage was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with an extendible nozzle. A four-meter-diameter composite fairing topped the stack and encapsulated the payload.

      SLC-6 is the West Coast launch site for the Boeing Delta IV family of launch vehicles that provides the Air Force the strategic capability to launch national security satellites to polar, Sun-synchronous and high-inclination orbits. It can support all five configurations of the Delta IV family.

      Major suppliers for the Delta IV family are Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, Calif., for first and second stage engines; Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Minneapolis, Minn., for composite and propulsion technologies, and L-3 Communications Corp., New York, N.Y., for the guidance computer.

      2007 Space Shuttle Launches Tentatively Set For March 16, June 28 and Sept. 7

      Space Shuttle Atlantis will launch no earlier than March 16 for the STS-117 mission to the International Space Station (ISS), delivering new solar arrays and truss segments, according to NASA Kennedy Space Center media affairs.

      That continues the ISS construction job that resumed this year when Atlantis took the P3/P4 truss and solar array to the ISS in September.

      Construction work on the ISS was interrupted for years after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, when both the orbiter vehicle and crew were lost because of damage to a wing.

      Another mission will occur no earlier than June 28, when Space Shuttle Endeavour will transport a truss and a storage asset to the ISS.

      Then Atlantis will launch on the STS-120 mission no earlier than Sept. 7 to install a structure that would link laboratories from various nations that will be installed on the ISS later.

      Finally, Discovery will perform another mission sometime in October 2007, with no specific date set yet.

      These launch dates will permit more time for preparing shuttles for flight, and for other purposes.

      Discovery also will perform the last shuttle mission this year. It was set to lift off no earlier than Dec. 7 at 9:38 p.m. ET in a window extending until mid-month. But the liftoff may be moved to Dec. 6, as added insurance that the shuttle won’t be flying at yearend, when its computer wouldn’t be able to recognize the rollover to the new year, 2007.

      Proton Breeze M Launch Vehicle Lofts Arab Comms Satellite

      A Proton Breeze M launch vehicle Wednesday lifted an Arab BADR-4 communications satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome into orbit, where the space asset will provide an array of communications services including direct-to-home TV signals.

      That will serve people across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe.

      International Launch Services (ILS) launch vehicle achieved separation of the satellite, which was in the correct orbit: Actual: 3155.7 km perigee x 35,830.9 km apogee x 14.173 degrees inclination Predicted: 3150 km perigee x 35,786 km apogee x 14.2 degrees inclination

      The satellite was built by Astrium, which contracted for the launch on behalf of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization, ARABSAT, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The satellite is a Eurostar E2000+ model. Protons also have launched five of the heavier Astrium Eurostar E3000 spacecraft.

      ILS is an American company, headquartered in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. The joint venture partners are Space Transportation Inc., a privately held corporation based in the British Virgin Islands, and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia of Moscow.

      The Proton vehicle launches both commercial ILS missions and Russian government payloads from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is operated by the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) under lease from the Republic of Kazakhstan.

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