September 14, 2003

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NASA Names New Chief Scientist

NASA's new chief scientist is John Grunsfeld, KC5ZTF, an astronomer and astrophysicist who also worked on the Hubble Space Telescope during two shuttle missions.

Grunsfeld replaces Shannon Lucid. A veteran astronaut and scientist, she took the job in February 2002 and helped prioritize the scientific goals of the International Space Station. She also updated NASA's policy on research grants.

Lucid will return to Houston to work at Johnson Space Center.

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

PCSat Around the Clock

Steve Diggs, W4EPI, reports that PCsat's telemetry counter is showing counts over 800 meaning it has been alive for more that 12+ hours without a reset.

Thus it appears she's working round-the clock. Enjoy!

[ANS thanks Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, for the above information.]

Historic First Gathering of Satellite Chief Executives

Chief executives from various satellite operators met in Paris on September 8 to discuss the critical role satellites can play in meeting the needs of the Information Society. This first session of the two organizing groups focused on the importance of building a clear understanding amongst governments and stakeholders of how satellites can serve the broadband needs of businesses, individuals and communities in developing and developed nations.

Broadband objectives in different countries that call for universal access to high-speed networks within the next five years can only be met if satellites are a contributing technology, particularly for rural communities and for developing countries.

The leading satellite operators discussed co-operation in advocacy and governmental outreach in order to build positive national regulatory environments that reduce barriers to the deployment of advanced satellite communications systems. They also discussed national fees and regulatory measures which, if excessive, could become an obstacle to national and cross-border satellite service provision.

The CEOs underlined the need for the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) and the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) to work together on building improved awareness of how satellite communications provide enormous public benefits. These include facilitating commerce, advancing global security and providing immediate and ubiquitous access to telecommunications infrastructure.

"For decades, satellites have been instrumental in achieving key public policy goals, including connecting all nations with basic telecommunications services and they also play a vital role in providing global services in telemedicine and distance learning" said Richard DalBello, President of the SIA.

The next meeting of the satellite operator CEOs has been set for Spring 2004 in Washington, DC. The satellite executives today expressed their interest in having other Operators in the satellite communications industry join them at the next meeting.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Titan Carries Spy Satellite into Orbit

A Titan rocket lifted off with a roar over the Space Coast earlier this week, brilliantly illuminating a bank of low clouds as it soared with a spy satellite toward orbit.

The rocket was carrying secret cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office. The Air Force wouldn't release details about the spy satellite. Separation of the satellite from the upper stage was to take place several hours after launch.

After this launch, there are three Titan 4 rockets and one Titan 2 left in Lockheed Martin's stable.

The rockets have carried mostly military satellites, but they also launched the two Viking missions to Mars, the two Voyager missions to the outer planets of our solar system, and the Cassini probe, which will reach Saturn next year.

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

Updated Antenna Will Help Out NASA During Busiest of Times

With the help of friends down under, calling home is about to get easier. With NASA-funded upgrades planned for this summer, the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, celebrated by the movie "The Dish" for its role in the first moonwalk, will once again help communicate with spacecraft exploring the solar system.

Owned by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the 64-meter (210-foot) antenna is located near the town of Parkes, Australia. With upgrades to handle the current deep space transmission standards, Parkes will take on some of the workload of NASA's Deep Space Network.

Managed by JPL, the Deep Space Network is the largest telecommunications system in the world. With antennas in Spain, Australia and California's Mojave Desert, the Deep Space Network is a network of antennas that allow us to have two-way communications with spacecraft at all times. JPL is overseeing the Parkes upgrades and integrating Parkes into the Deep Space Network for several months of operations.

Starting this coming November and peaking in January 2004, an unprecedented fleet of spacecraft will require communications for critical maneuvers. Among the potential users of the Parkes antenna are NASA's Mars Odyssey, the Mars Global Surveyor, the two distant Voyagers, the Stardust mission, the recently launched Space Infrared Telescope Facility and the European Mars Express.

Although not part of the Deep Space Network, the Parkes antenna has been used by NASA before to support the Apollo moon missions, the Galileo spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, and both Voyager missions during their grand tour of the solar system.

The major improvement is adding a microwave system that allows for reception in the X-band frequency currently used by all JPL missions. The X-band frequency has a larger spectrum that allows more data to be transmitted. Better performance will also be achieved by extending the antenna's solid paneling by 10 meters (about 33 feet).

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Satellites Tracking Could Greatly Facilitate Pay As You Go Driving

Death and taxes may be unavoidable, but road tolls and car insurance could be made fairer if satellite-assisted distance pricing is implemented. The European Space Agency (ESA) is funding Irish provider of location technology products Mapflow to undertake a feasibility study to look into the possibility of implementing a pan-European road tolling system.

The research aims to establish whether satellite technology can be used to calculate the cost of motoring. A plan exists to complement this activity with a real demonstration of the virtual tolling concept in the greater area of Lisbon.

Potential benefits of a harmonised road tolling system would be fairer implementation of charging on a 'pay for use' basis, lower costs as the need for physical infrastructure is reduced and also reduced congestion.

Germany recently received EU approval to implement a new tolling system for goods vehicles. The system - currently being tested - uses the US-operated Global Positioning System (GPS). The government hopes to raise 650 million euros a year through the new charges.

Satellite-assisted tolling would make use of Galileo, Europe's planned satellite navigation system. Galileo is a joint initiative between the European Commission and ESA to develop a global navigation system, scheduled to be operational by 2008.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

NASA Selects Beryllium Mirror Tech For Next Gen Space Telescope

Northrop Grumman Corporation's Space Technology sector is the prime contractor leading the design and development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Following a thorough and detailed evaluation, beryllium was selected as the material for the JWST primary mirror.

With the selection of beryllium as the technology for the James Webb Space Telescope's (JWST) primary mirror, the team led by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation is on schedule for the development of the nation's next generation space telescope. The selection comes one year after the team was awarded a contract to build JWST by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Northrop Grumman made the selection following a detailed process that took advantage of insights from a panel of experts representing the contractor team, NASA and the science community. The team had selected beryllium as the mirror technology for its original proposal.

Subsequently, the team tested the technology and performed a six-month evaluation, during which the team reviewed the technology's implementation plans, technical performance and manufacturing schedule. Facilities, staffing and cost factors also were considered.

Mirror production will begin within the next few months. The mirrors will be incorporated into optical assemblies, mounted onto the telescope structure and then subjected to a series of tests at cryogenic temperatures, individually and as an integrated system.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Donna & Craig QRT at the National Weather Service

Craig and Donna are gone. The electronically assembled speech of the two lasted just one year as the automated voices of the National Weather Service.

Taking their place is next-generation called Tom. He is programmed in such a way that the speed and intensity of his computer-generated voice can be adjusted to make severe weather warnings sound more urgent and emotional.

[ANS thanks Amateur Radio Newsline for the above information.]

ARISS School Contacts

ARISS Contact Schedule and Successful school list updated 2003-09-11 01:00 UTC

So far this month Astronaut Ed Lu, KC5WKJ, successfully contacted:
Webster High School Webster, New York 2003-09-10
Cornell University Ithaca, New York 2003-09-04
Boulder High School Boulder, Colorado 2003-09-03

Next contact is scheduled for Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii on Monday 2003-09-15 16:57 UTC via WH6PN.

Check out Ed Lu's webpage:

The latest ARISS announcement and successful school list is now available on the ARISS web site. Several ways to get there.

Latest ARISS announcements and news

Successful school list

[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, 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,