Next year will mark the fortieth anniversary of man first setting foot on the Moon. Back in the early 1970s it was all systems go for human exploration of space but somehow the momentum was lost, and other priorities took over. Just maintaining an orbital presence above the Earth has been full of challenges with Space Shuttle failures and delays to the International Space Station.
According to Unison Industries, its new dual direct spark ignition system (DDSI) successfully lit the Pratt & Whitney RL 10A-4-2 engine on the Lockheed Martin Atlas V Expendable Launch Vehicle’s Centaur upper stage. Launching from Cape Canaveral on August 21, the Centaur’s first RL 10A-4-2 main engine started after the separation of the first stage after just four-and-a-half minutes.
The failure of a Russian Proton rocket in March has thrown the schedule for the launch of Inmarsat’s third and final I4 communications satellite into question, according to Inmarsat officials speaking today at a satellite user conference in San Diego. The third satellite supporting SwiftBroadband aero data and voice services will be positioned over the Pacific Ocean region, completing the I4 coverage network.
Boeing cleared a major hurdle in the development of its recently announced air-traffic management system after the Federal Communications Commission granted the Seattle-based company a mobile satellite service license. The move allows Boeing to build a medium-earth-orbit constellation of non-geosynchronous satellites in the 2-GHz band.
The Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request for NASA includes an overall increase for space exploration, but aeronautics research continues to fall short, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said last month. The request totals $17.6 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent from Fiscal Year 2008.
Northern Airborne Technology, a British Columbia-based subsidiary of the Chelton Group, last month introduced a lightweight satcom system that routes calls through the Globalstar network of 48 low-earth-orbit satellites. The system consists of the STX100 transceiver, PTA12 dialer/adapter and a Globalstar antenna, and provides coverage over about 80 percent of the earth, including polar regions and some mid-oceanic regions.
Despite the fundamental role of clouds in weather, there is much we don’t know about them. NASA intends to do something about that under a 24-month, satellite-based mission scheduled to launch next year. Called CloudSat, the program is aimed at better understanding how clouds affect climate in terms of their thickness, height, absorption, and water and ice content.
Former astronaut Curt Brown stood in front of nearly 1,500 guests at the NBAA 14th Annual Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference last month and fought back tears as he remembered seven fellow astronauts who had died just two days earlier in the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. “I came close to canceling [this appearance],” he told the audience, and then asked for a moment of silence to honor those lost.
A bustling airport in an otherwise desolate landscape served as the backdrop for the unveiling of what’s been hailed as the world’s first private space venture.
Based on the success of the SpaceShipOne (SS1) suborbital craft’s ascent on June 21 (AIN, July, page 2)–becoming the first privately funded manned spacecraft to reach 100 km (328,000 feet)–designer Burt Rutan is confident that he and his company, Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, will win the $10 million Ansari X Prize by year-end.