August 24, 2003

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Russian Space Agency Gets 100 Million Dollar Budget Boost

Russia is to boost its space budget by some three billion rubles (100 million dollars) next year, the head of the Russian Space Agency said Tuesday.

The additional funds, a supplement to Russia's 2004 budget, "mean we will be able to actively develop the International Space Station project," he said, as quoted by the Interfax-AVN news agency.

The extra money will also enable Russia to increase the number of its satellite launches for communications and scientific purposes.

According to the Russian Space Forces, the space wing of Russia's armed forces, around 100 Russian satellites are currently in orbit, including 60 of military application.

Since the February 1 Columbia space shuttle disaster in which US astronauts died, triggering the suspension by NASA, the US space agency, of its shuttle flights, the burden of servicing the ISS has fallen entirely on Russia.

The Russian finance ministry presented the government with its draft 2004 budget earlier this month.

The draft will be given three readings in parliament before being passed into law before legislative elections scheduled for December.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

ESA uses SMART Propulsion

Europe's first probe to the Moon, SMART-1, is about to begin a unique journey that will take it into orbit around our closest neighbor, powered only by an ion engine which Europe will be testing for the first time as main spacecraft propulsion.

The European Space Agency's SMART-1 spacecraft was delivered to Kourou, French Guiana, on July 15 and is currently being prepared for launch atop an Ariane 5 during the night from August 28 to 29. The launch window will open at 20:04 local time (01:04 on August 29 morning CEST) and will remain open for 26 minutes.

SMART-1's ion engine will be used to accelerate the probe and raise its orbit until it reaches the vicinity of the Moon, some 350,000 to 400,000 km from Earth. Then, following gravity assists from a series of lunar swingbys in late September, late October and late November 2004, SMART-1 will be 'captured' by the Moon's gravity in December 2004 and will begin using its engine to slow down and reduce the altitude of its lunar orbit.

As ESA's first Small Mission for Advanced Research in Technology, it is primarily designed to demonstrate innovative and key technologies for future deep space science missions. However, once it has arrived at its destination, it will also perform an unprecedented scientific study of the Moon. SMART-1 is a very small spacecraft (measuring just one cubic metre). Its solar arrays, spanning 14 metres, will deliver 1.9 kW of power, about 75% of which will be used for the probe's 'solar electric' propulsion system.

In its role as technological demonstrator, SMART-1's primary goal is to test this new solar electric propulsion system. This is a form of continuous low-thrust engine that uses electricity derived from solar panels to produce a beam of charged particles that pushes the spacecraft forward. Such engines are commonly called ion engines, and engineers consider them essential for future, long-range space missions. SMART-1 will also test miniaturised spacecraft equipment and instruments, a navigation system that, in the future, will allow spacecraft to autonomously navigate through the solar system, and in addition to a new short-wavelength communication system, a space communication technique by means of which SMART-1 will try to establish a link with the Earth using a laser beam.

Once it enters into a near-polar orbit around the Moon in January 2005, SMART-1 will also become a science platform for lunar observation. SMART-1 will search for signs of water-ice in craters near the Moon's poles, provide data to shed light on the still uncertain origin of the Moon, and reconstruct its evolution by mapping its topography and the surface distribution of minerals and key chemical elements.

SMART-1 will be the second ESA-led planetary mission to be launched in 2003 after Mars Express in June.

[ANS thanks European Space Agency for the above information.]

Nigeria to Launch own Satellite Next Month

Nigeria will next month launch its own satellite, to be used for surveillance and data gathering, Nigeria's Science and Technology minister said Wednesday.

The remote sensing satellite will be launched in Russia but mission control and ground station monitoring will be based in Abuja.

He said a deal for the 13-million-dollar project was sealed in November 2000, adding that 15 Nigerian engineers and scientists had been trained to handle it.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Japan to Launch 18 Satellites

Japan plans to launch 18 earth orbiters, including four spy satellites, through 2007 under a newly arrayed schedule of rockets shots, an official says.

The first of the spy satellites is scheduled for launch next month, with others slated for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

The schedule forms the basis for space exploration policy after the nation's three aerospace agencies merge this October into the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said the deputy director of space development at the ministry of science and education.

Among the planned missions: A moon observation satellite, a sun observation satellite, two star observation satellites, a broadband Internet satellite, a greenhouse gas monitoring satellite, a weather satellite and an orbiter to monitor rainfall.

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS. RS-12. RS-13. RS-15. RS-20. AO-7. AO-10. UO-11. UO-14. AO-16. LO-19. FO-20. UO-22. KO-23. KO-25. IO-26. AO-27. FO-29. GO-32. SO-33. PO-34. UO-36. AO-40. SO-41. SO-42. NO-44. NO-45. MO-46. AO-49. SO-50

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Scott Lindsey-Stevens, N3ASA,