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Thursday, April 23, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Apr 17 – Apr 24 2015)


Fly Through A 3D City Of Stars To Honor Hubble | Video

Based on Hubble Telescope data, Space Telescope Science Institute’s (STSci) astrovisualization team produced this awe-inspiring journey through the heart of the star Westerlund 2 cluster. 20,000 light years from Earth, this busy stellar community hosts some of the hottest and bright stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.


Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Risinger (, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz3D Team, STScI), and J. Anderson (STScI), Digitized Sky Survey 2, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), Westerlund 2 Science Team

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Construction of Turksat’s 1st Domestic Satellite Now Underway

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Turksat on April 19 said construction of its first domestically produced satellite, Turksat 6A, has formally begun four months after the project was approved and that the satellite would not be in orbit before 2020.

In a statement to Turkey’s government-owned press service, Turksat Chief Executive Ensar Gul said the Turksat 6A program development budget remains 548 million Turkish lira, or $203 million at current exchange rates.

The assembly, integration and test activities of Turksat 6A Satellite will be performed at the Turkish Aerospace Industries' Assembly, Integration and Test Center in Ankara. Credit: TAI

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Thales Alenia Space Details Elaborate Tech Transfer Deal with Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO — Satellite builder Thales Alenia Space of Europe, as part of what may be the most elaborate satellite technology-transfer contract ever signed, will be joining forces with Brazilian companies to develop local expertise in satellite thermal control, onboard propulsion, solar arrays and ground support, the company’s chief representative in Brazil said.

Other areas to be a focus of contracts include onboard optical instruments and optical instrument base plates.

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NASA Mulls Spy Agency's Telescopes for Dark-Energy Mission

NASA is considering requesting money in next year's budget to eventually start using two space telescopes it received from the United States' spy satellite agency, a senior official told

NASA received the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in 2012. They have the same resolution as the agency's famous Hubble Space Telescope, but a field of view 200 times wider.

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Blue Origin To Begin Test Flights Within Weeks

WASHINGTON — Blue Origin, the commercial spaceflight company backed by founder Jeff Bezos, will soon start flight tests of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle, a Federal Aviation Administration official said April 21.

George Nield, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, said at a meeting of the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board here April 21 that he expected Blue Origin to begin test flights in a “couple of weeks.”

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Canada’s New Space Budget Extends ISS Commitment to 2024

PARIS — The Canadian government budget issued April 21 includes a commitment to increase Canada’s spending on satellite telecommunications at the European Space Agency and to continue as a partner in the international space station to 2024.

The Economic Action Plan, as announced, would direct an additional 30 million Canadian dollars ($24.6 million at current exchange rates) to ESA’s Advanced Resarch in Telecommunications Systems, or ARTES, program over four years starting in 2016. ARTES includes a range of projects, many of them co-financed by industry, relating to satellite telecommunications.

The International Space Station's robotic Canadarm2 shown moving the HTV-3 Exposed Pallet for installation on JAXA's HTV cargo vehicle. Credit: NASA

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DLR Renews Cooperation with SNC on Dream Chaser

PARIS — The German Space Center, DLR, and Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) have renewed for another two years their cooperation on SNC’s Dream Chaser lifting-body spacecraft to focus on both crewed and uncrewed mission applications.

The agreement, which stretches through 2017, follows a 2013 no-exchange-of-funds arrangement in which DLR, which is Germany’s space agency, and Sparks, Nevada-based SNC investigated possible European contributions to the Dream Chaser. OHB SE of Bremen, Germany, was part of the original study called Dream Chaser for European Utilization.

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Congress Questions Balance of NASA’s Proposed Budget

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden faced strong criticism of his proposed 2016 budget during a pair of congressional hearings in Washington April 16, including questions about the future of the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) program.

At a hearing of the House Science space subcommittee on the morning of April 16, Bolden was forced to defend decisions in the agency’s budget request to increase funding for commercial crew, Earth science and space technology, while decreasing funding for the Space Launch System and Orion programs compared to 2015.

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