Archive for the ‘Satellites’ Category

In a profoundly optimistic and interesting set of prognostications, Spaceflight Now reports on the outlook for the space industry.  In short, most of it looks mighty fine.  Here are some of the highlights forecast for the world-wide space industry.

Regarding meteorological and terrestrial observation satellites:

  • Revenues at $1B in 2009 and could quadruple in a few years
  • About 260 new satellites launched in the next decade, about double the 128 launched between 1998 and 2008
  • Growth to $27.4B in the next decade versus $20.4 in the last decade
  • Profits derived from space-based capabilities increasing at 16% per year for the next decade
  • Thirty-four nations involved in satellite observation programs by 2018 versus eight in 1997

Regarding communications satellites:

  • Average revenue growth of about five percent in the next five years
  • More than 30 large new satcoms being produced with a value around $7.5B
  • Twenty new satellites launched in the last 18 months for terrestrial digital TV
  • 2800 new satellite TV channels appeared in 2008 bringing the total to 24000
  • Satellite data transmission grew 10 percent in 2008

Regarding launch:

  • 10-year forecast for launch vehicles at $48B–totals 636 launch vehicles
  • The split: U.S 161; Russia, Ukraine, and China 306; Europe 92; India, Japan, and Israel 73

The bad news:

  • U.S. Atlas 5 and Delta 4 launch vehicles largely priced out of the commercial market

New Scientist reports that astronomers are concerned about restrictions on the use of lasers.  Astronomers use lasers to focus their telescopes. 

The lasers, which are needed to adjust the adaptive optics of the telescopes, also appear to be capable of disrupting certain satellite sensors.

Air Force Space Command has “restricted when and where US observatories can fire them, and the observatories have voluntarily complied, with little impact on astronomy.”

However, restrictions which started about two years ago may now be more burdensome, increasing from a few blackout periods per night to hundreds.

Astronomers don’t really know what the risk to the spacecraft is.

While the U.S. Air Force takes the heat in the article (and the comments, many of which are quite comical), it is likely Space Command is only the messenger here.  Consider a few of the comments (in paraphrase), with rejoinder:

  • So what of the satellites from other nations, EU, Russia, China etc? They don’t matter?
    • Of course they matter, but the USAF doesn’t control those nations’ communications on this topic with the U.S. observatories
  • If the Air Force feels the need to spy on mountain tops…they should do so at their own risk
    • The Air Force doesn’t fly spy satellites; those belong to the intel community.  Anyway, the U.S. mountain tops are already pretty well understood.
  • Iran can stop worrying and just build thousands of vertically aimed lasers.  They can build what they like then
    • As one commenter points out, a satellite attack can be considered an attack on U.S. sovereignty
  • The government is messed up if it is more important to monitor the globe than to look into the universe
    • Well, that’s your opinion

Have a great day!

The link reports half the two-piece payload fairing did not separate from the second stage as it should have. The extra weight turned the effort into another sea-sat (maybe a land sat). The fairing issue sounds analogous to the Orbiting Carbon Observatory failure, which rode on an OSC provided Taurus XL.

Piracy has been joined by intelligence in the fee-for-service realm. Anyone, or any nation-state, with a credit card now has an excellent chance to buy top-notch overheads. Add analysis in the form of people paying attention and bam! you have intel.

The 15,000-plus pound TerreStar satellite, about the size of a small school bus, is now on orbit. According to the satellite’s manufacturer, Loral, over a million man-hours went into its creation. The satellite is designed to serve North America with “blended” terrestrial and space based communications and provide better service than either method alone.