Officials celebrated the fifth birthday of Kazakhstan’s space agency, Kazkosmos, on Tuesday as they looked ahead to building a full-fledged space industry that would serve as a key high-tech sector for the nation. A key part of this effort is cooperating with foreign space powers, including Europe, and training a new generation of aerospace workers abroad.
When the Soviet Union broke up 20 years ago, Kazakhstan inherited control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. However, the country lacked a space agency and much in the way of a domestic space industrial sector. There were few trained engineers and technicians, a problem the nation is still addressing today.
Aviation Weekhas a report on how the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) is implementing a new agreement designed to bring more competition to the government launch market. The effort, jointly agreed to by the Air Force, NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office last month, will affect multiple launch segments:
Large- and Medium-class Air Force Launches: United Launch Alliance currently has a monopoly on these missions with its Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. The Boeing-Lockheed Martin consortium will face competition from SpaceX (Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy), Orbital Sciences Corporation (Taurus II), and ATK/EADS Astrium (Liberty).
Smaller Satellites: The military has been using Orbital Sciences’ Minotaur rockets for smaller satellites, but the contracting arrangements for that program are expiring. ATK and Lockheed Martin have teamed up to bring back the Athena 1c and 2c rockets next year to compete in this market segment. These boosters are upgraded versions of earlier Athena rockets that had been mothballed due to lack of market demand. SpaceX might also compete for these launches with its Falcon 1e, a program that is currently on hold but might be revived in the future.
Orbital-Suborbital Small and Medium Spacelift Program (OSP-3): SMC is working on requests for proposals for this contract, which will include boosters of all sizes to support projects undertaken by the Space Development and Test Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M.
Space News is reporting that the competition for $200 million in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) funding is down to at least seven companies:
Orbital Sciences Corporation
Sierra Nevada Corporation
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)
United Launch Alliance (ULA).
Citing industry sources, the publication says that representatives from the companies were invited to Johnson Space Center in Houston earlier this month to discuss their proposals. NASA plans to award funds next month contingent on Congressional action on its budget.
EADS Astrium has disclosed that Singapore will be a partner in its suborbital spaceplane program.
At the Global Space & Technology Convention in Singapore, EADS Astrium executives announced that Singapore will be building a small-scale demonstrator of the spaceplane and may be involved in developing parts for the commercial product. EADS Astrium is also hoping Singapore will ultimately have a fleet of its commercial spaceplanes stationed at Singaporeâ€™s Changi Airport. (more…)
The plane, which would make short hops above the atmosphere, was announced in 2007 and then almost immediately put on hold because of the global downturn.
But Astrium, Europe’s largest space company, says internal development work continues and it will spend a further 10m euros (Â£9m) on the concept in 2011.
“We keep the investment going,” said Astrium CEO FranÃ§ois Auque.
“We continue to mature the concept, maintaining the minimum team, in order that when we find the relevant partnership we are ready and have progressed sufficiently,” he told reporters on Wednesday at the company’s rocket manufacturing facility at Les Mureaux just north of Paris.
Some news on Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to India, which included a stop at ISRO and the announcement a pair of commercial agreements:
Much like British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy chose to start his visit to India from Bangalore.
After landing at the HAL Airport, Sarkozy along with his wife Carla Bruni, ministers and business delegates, headed to the ISRO Satellite Centre where he was briefed on the Megha- Tropiques satellite, which is being co-developed by India and France.
* New orders totalling more than â‚¬8 billion * 11% increase in sales to over â‚¬4.8 billion * Astrium is developing new space based technologies for the environment
Paris, 19 January 2010 â€“ Astrium CEO FranÃ§ois Auque presented the companyâ€™s results for 2009 and its prospects for the coming year at the annual New Yearâ€™s press conference. In 2009 Astrium successfully delivered seven Ariane 5 launchers, which placed a total of 14 satellites in orbit and signed a contract worth more than â‚¬4 billion for a further 35 Ariane 5 launch vehicles. Launch highlights included the Herschel Space Observatory, the largest ever space telescope, the Hot Bird 10 broadcast satellite and the Amazonas 2 telecommunications satellite.
EADS Astrium develops space power concept BBC News
Europe’s biggest space company is seeking partners to fly a demonstration solar power mission in orbit. EADS Astrium says the satellite system would collect the Sun’s energy and transmit it to Earth via an infrared laser, to provide electricity.
Space solar power has been talked about for more than 30 years. However, there have always been question marks over its cost, efficiency and safety. But Astrium believes the technology is close to proving its maturity.
“Today we are not at an operational stage; it’s just a test,” said chief executive officer Francois Auque. “In order to implement a solution, of course, we would need to find partnerships and to invest, to develop operational systems,” he told BBC News.
â€œJohannes Keplerâ€, the second unmanned European cargo spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS), is currently undergoing its first flightworthiness and functionality tests as a fully integrated unit at the Astrium facility in Bremen. Preparations for the final system tests are running at full capacity.
The partnership between Astrium and JSC NC Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary (KGS), the national company charged with the development of Kazakhstanâ€™s space programme, has reached another major milestone with the signature of a contract for two Earth observation satellites, and the foundation documents to create a Joint Venture for the construction of an Assembly, Integration and Test Facility in Astana. (more…)
EADS, the European aerospace and defence company, has established a new subsidiary in Japan to help coordinate and support the Groupâ€™s marketing campaigns and industrial partnerships there. From its office in Tokyo, EADS Japan K.K. will aim to strengthen EADSâ€™ presence in the country and forge further long-term business relationships with Japanese industry and aerospace institutions.
An interesting item from Bulletins-electroniques.com via the CNES website:
A new type of plasma thruster (helicon double layer) invented by a physicist from the Australian National University (ANU) some years ago will be tested in a prototype satellite to be launched into space over the next four years . This is the first propellant propellant of this type and it will be the first time a spacecraft will use this type of propellant.
The project funded by the European company EADS Astrium will be collaboration between the ANU, the University of Surrey and EADS-Astrium. The propellant will be based on the double layer thruster helicon (HDLT for Helicon Double Layer Thruster) developed at the ANU. The principle of propulsion based on the electrostatic acceleration of a plasma by an electrical double layer.
Astrium and JSC National Company â€œKazakhstan Gharysh Saparyâ€ today announced the signing of a first contract to build a major satellite integration centre that will be part of the future Kazakhstan national space centre in Astana.
Astrium CEO FranÃ§ois Auque and Gavyllatyp T. Murzakulov, CEO of JSC National Company â€œKazakhstan Gharysh Saparyâ€, a company reporting to the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, have signed a technological and strategic partnership agreement that will allow Astrium to play an active role in the development of the Republic of Kazakhstanâ€™s space industry. (more…)
Aviation Week reports that EADS-Astrium is pushing Europe to fund the development of a new medium-lift launcher to replace the Soyuz 2 rocket that will begin operating later this year from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana: