Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015 - 18:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Flammendes Inferno auf der Sonne: Fragmente von Plasma fliegen mehr als 350.000 km hoch.


TOWERING INFERNO: On May 15-16, a magnetic filament that astronomers have been monitoring for days rose up and erupted. Jett Aguilar of Quezon City, the Philippines, caught a massive fragment of plasma flying more than 350,000 km high:


"I used a Lunt solar telescope to image the event," says Aguilar. "It was magnificant."
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) also recorded the eruption. Watch this movie. SDO captured not just one but two filaments of magnetism exploding. Both hurled CMEs into space. NOAA analysts are modeling the storm clouds to determine if they will hit Earth. Stay tuned.
Quelle: Spaceweather

Tags: Astronomie 


Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015 - 18:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Sprite Saison 2015 beginnt


SPRITE SEASON BEGINS: High above Earth in the realm of meteors and noctilucent clouds, a strange and beautiful form of lightning dances at the edge of space. Researchers call the bolts "sprites"; they are red, fleeting, and tend to come in bunches. Note to sky watchers: Sprite season is underway. Martin Popek photographed these specimens over Nydek, Czech republic, on May 13th:


One night later, May 14th, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, "I captured my first sprites of the season," reports photographer Jan Curtis. "The thunderstorm that produced them was about 200 miles to my south-southwest."
Because sprites are associated with thunderstorms, they tend to occur in late spring and summer. Thunderstorm season is sprite season.
"Sprites are a true space weather phenomenon," explains lightning scientist Oscar van der Velde of the Technical University of Catalonia, Spain. "They develop in mid-air around 80 km altitude, growing in both directions, first down, then up. This happens when a fierce lightning bolt draws lots of charge from a cloud near Earth's surface. Electric fields [shoot] to the top of Earth's atmosphere--and the result is a sprite. The entire process takes about 20 milliseconds."
Although sprites have been seen for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now "sprite chasers" routinely photograph sprites from their own homes. "I used up a Watec 910HX security camera with UFOCapture software to catch my sprites," says Popek. Give it a try!
Quelle: Spacewather

Tags: Astronomie 


Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015 - 18:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Fehlstart von Proton M mit Centenario Satelliten am 16.Mai



Centenario Satellite
BSS-702HP GEM Platform
Separated spacecraft mass: 5325 kg
Launch Vehicle: 
Proton M/Breeze M
705,000 kg (1,554,000 lb), including payload
58.2 m (191ft)
Launch Date:
May 16, 2015
Launch Time:
11:47 Baikonur
08:47 Moscow
00:47 Mexico
05:47 GMT
01:47 EDT
Launch Site: 
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Pad 39
Launch Customer:
The Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT), Mexico
Satellite Manufacturer:
Boeing Satellite Systems International, California, USA
Launch Vehicle Manufacturer:
Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center,
Moscow, Russia
Launch Services 
International Launch Services, Virginia, USA
Satellite Use: 
Weighing over 5.3 metric tons at lift-off, the Centenario satellite is a fourth generation Boeing
satellite to serve Mexico and the first 702HP GEM for Mexico.  Centenario will provide mobile
satellite services to support national security, civil and humanitarian efforts and will provide
disaster relief, emergency services, telemedicine, rural education, and government agency
operations The satellite carries a 22 meter L-band reflector that enables connectivity to
handheld terminals, complemented by a 2-meter Ku-band antenna. The Centenario satellite is
part of an end-to-end satellite communications system that provides 3G+ communications
services for voice, data, video and internet access to terminals on multiple
platforms. This next-generation satellite system for Mexico consists of three satellites, two
ground sitesand associated network operations. It is Mexico’s next-generation satellite
communications system.
Satellite Statistics: 
_L-band multi-spot beam flexible payload for Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)
_Planned orbital location:  113.1 degrees West longitude
_Anticipated service life:  15 years
Mission Profile: 
The Proton M launch vehicle, utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, will lift off from Pad 39 at 13:07 local time  (2:07 am Mexico time, 7:07 am GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with the Centenario satellite on board. The first three stages of the Proton utilize a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the Centenario satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory. From this point in the mission, the Breeze M will perform planned mission maneuvers to advance the orbital unit first to a circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit, and finally to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Separation of the Centenario satellite will occur approximately 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff.
Target Orbit at Separation:   
_Perigee: 4163
_Apogee: 35736 km
_Inclination: 23.0 degrees
Spacecraft Separation: 
Approximately 9 hours and 13 minutes after lift-off
ILS Mission Statistics: 
_2nd ILS Proton Launch in 2015
_89th ILS Proton Launch Overall
_1st SCT satellite launched on ILS Proton
_18th Boeing Satellite Launched on Proton
Live Broadcast: 
LAUNCH – 16 May, 2015
Baikonur to Washington Eutelsat 10A will begin at 0100 Eastern/0500 GMT
Live test for Mexico will begin at 0100 Eastern/0500 GMT
Live Broadcast starting at 0130 Eastern/0530 GMT
Launch is scheduled for 01:47:39 Eastern/05:47:39 GMT
Launch Broadcast concludes at 0215 Eastern/00615 GMT
EBU REF 15/034178/01
            UPLINK FREQ.: 14360 MHZ POL Y
            DOWNLINK FR.: 11060 MHZ POL X
            SD 625 16:9 50Hz DVB-S2 8PSK 4.9373 Ms/s FEC 3/4,
             Pilot:on Roll-off 0.20 (MPEG2 4:2:2 10.7514 Mbps)
AUDIO:3     N/A
AUDIO:4     N/A
Eutelsat 113WA / C101(F) (Formerly SatMex 6)
U/L; 5949.5, D/L 3724.5
Beam; C1
Pol; H uplink/V downlink            
9 MHz
DVB-S2 8PSK, MPEG 4 (H.264):
FEC:  3/4
Sym Rate:  7.5
Info Rate:  16.331
Pilot On
H.264 (MPEG 4)
Roll-Off 20%
Quelle: ILS
Update: 15.05.2015
Russia Proton-M Carrier Rocket to Deliver Mexican Satellite to Orbit

According to Russian Space Agency, launch of Mexico’s MexSat-1 communications satellite on a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan is scheduled for May 16.
The launch of Mexico’s MexSat-1 communications satellite on a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan is scheduled for May 16, a Russian Space Agency source told RIA Novosti on Friday.
“The launch of the Proton-M is scheduled for May 16 at 8:48 a.m. Moscow time [05:48 GMT],” the Roscosmos source said.
The 5.4-ton MexSat-1 satellite provides communication services for Mexico and parts of South America.
Quelle: Sputnik
Update: 16.05.2015
Russian Rocket Carrying Mexican Satellite Crashes in Siberia
A Russian rocket carrying a Mexican satellite malfunctioned and crashed Saturday in Siberia shortly after its launch — the latest mishap to hit Russia's troubled space industry, whose Soviet-era glory has been marred by a series of launch failures.
The rocket, a Proton-M, was launched from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan on Saturday morning.
Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, in a statement described the accident as a malfunction and said it was looking into what had happened. Russian news agencies quoted authorities in eastern Siberia as saying they are searching for the third stage of the rocket, which is believed to have crashed in the Zabaikalsky region that borders Mongolia and China.
There were also concerns about the tons of toxic fuel the rocket was carrying, which could have exploded at the crash site. Roscosmos would not provide any further details about the accident, including the exact site of the crash.
The Proton-M rocket has a history of mishaps, leading to the loss of three navigation satellites last year.
The Interfax news agency quoted industry sources saying the crash could result in the suspension of all upcoming Proton-M launches, including the next one in June for a British satellite.
In a separate space failure Saturday, Roscosmos also reported that the Progress spaceship failed to ignite its engine and failed to adjust the orbit of the International Space Station. The agency said it was looking into why that happened and said the space station's crew was not in any danger from the incident.
Observers say post-Soviet Russia's space program has been hampered by a brain drain and a steady erosion of engineering and quality standards.
In April, an unmanned Russian space supply ship carrying 3 tons of goods failed to dock with the International Space Station after it went into an uncontrollable spin after the launch.
That failure prompted Roscosmos to delay both the landing of some of the space station's crew and the launch of their successors. Roscosmos space agency chief Igor Komarov said the April 28 launch failure was caused by a leak of fuel tanks in the Soyuz rocket's third stage. Left in low orbit, the Progress cargo spaceship fell to Earth over the Pacific on May 8.
A Russian official said three of the orbiting space station's six-person crew, who had been scheduled to return to Earth in early May, were asked to stay in orbit until early June and the launch of their replacement crew was pushed back from late May to late July.
Quelle: abc-news
Helicopter of Emergencies Ministry to check area where Proton’s debris may fall
An emergency situation happened during the flight of Proton-M carrier, which was launched on Saturday from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 08:47 Moscow time
MOSCOW, May 16. /TASS/. A Mi8 helicopter of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has left for an area, to where debris of Proton-M carrier may fall, a source at the space sector told TASS on Saturday.
"From the Khilok settlement in the Chita region, the helicopter went to the proposed area, which is about 130 kilometres from the settlement," the source said.
Local residents have not reported or claimed anything regarding possible debris.
An emergency situation happened during the flight of Proton-M carrier, which was launched on Saturday from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 08:47 Moscow time, at 08:56 Moscow time, one minute to the scheduled separation of the Briz-M booster and the Mexican MexSat-1 space apparatus, which was to be taken to the orbit.
Quelle: TASS
Quelle: ILS
Russian Proton rocket fails on satellite mission
Anatoly Zak, Russian Space Correspondent
Sen—The Russian space program has suffered another launch failure, crippling its commercial operations, just weeks after a major accident grounded the main carrier of its human missions.
The Proton rocket lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday, May 16, carrying the MexSat-1 communications satellite for the Mexican government. The initial phase of the flight seemed to go smoothly until an official commentator suddenly declared a "non-nominal situation" and interrupted the live broadcast of the launch slightly more than eight minutes into the flight, during the operation of Proton's third stage.
The International Launch Services (ILS), which markets Proton missions to commercial customers around the world, also covered the initial phase of the mission live, however could not confirm the status of the rocket or the satellite by the end of its broadcast. The company's representative admitted some loss of telemetry from the mission, however reported that other available information, including data from NORAD radar had indicated a normal flight.
After several minutes of confusion, the official Russian media reported that the launch had failed during the operation of the rocket's third stage. According to the Interfax news agency quoting unnamed sources, the remnants of the vehicle had been expected to crash in the Chita Region in Eastern Russia.
According to preliminary analysis of available telemetry, a failure of steering engines on the third stage could have caused the accident, the agency reported. 
In the meantime, an online broadcast of key mission milestones based on the live telemetry from the launch came with a considerable delay and stopped before the planned engine cutoff on the third stage of the Proton rocket.
Around half an hour after the accident, the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) announced that a "non-nominal situation" had taken place during the Proton launch and its cause had to be investigated. The same press-release also said that a planned orbit correction of the International Space Station (ISS) with the engines of the Russian Progress cargo ship had not taken place either.
A similar Progress ship was lost moments after its separation from the third stage of the launch vehicle on April 28. Although the root cause of the accident still remains unknown, the Soyuz-2-1a rocket was blamed, leading to a domino effect of delays in the operation of the ISS.
After the latest accident with the Proton, the two main rocket families in the Russian rocket fleet are out of commission.
A nominal flight profile of the Proton rocket with the MexSat-1 communications satellite.
Quelle: SEN
Update: 22.00 MESZ
No threat to environment after Proton rocket accident - Russia’s met office
MOSCOW, May 16. /TASS/. An accident with the Proton-M rocket carrier poses no threat to environment, Russia’s Roshydrometcentr meteorological office said on Saturday.
"According to data available by the Roshydrometcentr Situational Centre, assessments of possible aftermaths carried out by specialists of the Roshydromet Typhoon research centre testify that there is no threat of environmental pollution for Russia and bordering states resulting from the accident," the press service said.
An emergency situation happened during the flight of Proton-M carrier, which was launched on Saturday from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 08:47 Moscow time. At the 497th second, one minute to the scheduled separation of the Briz-M booster and the Mexican MexSat-1 space apparatus, which was to be taken to the orbit, an emergency situation was fixed in the rocket-carrier’s third stage. The third stage and the satellite were falling from the height of 161 kilometres, which is sufficient to have all the debris burn up in the atmosphere. The area where they may fall is south-west of the Siberian Baikal region. A preliminary reason of the accident with Proton is a failure of the steering engines of the third stage.
Initially, the launch had been planned for April 29, but was postponed at the client’s request. Boeing, which made the apparatus, needed more time to check the equipment on board.
An interdepartmental commission will look into circumstances of the emergency and make appropriate decisions.
Proton fragments not found in Russia’s Baikal area - Emergencies Ministry
MOSCOW, May 16. /TASS/. Fragments of the Proton-M rocket have not been recovered in the area near to Lake Baikal but the search operation is underway, the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s press service told TASS on Saturday.
"According to local authorities’ reports, rocket fragments have not been detected, there is neither destruction nor fumigation," the spokesperson said. "The population and economic facilities are not facing any danger."
Operative crews and the ministry’s aircraft are scouring the area, the press service said.
"Residents in the area near Lake Baikal have been informed immediately amid the abnormal situation following the Proton-M rocker carrier launch," he said. "The local emergences subsystem has been engaged in the search operation in the region. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry’s operative crews alongside local authorities have inspected economic and housing facilities".
Roskosmos requests weather data in area of Proton's possible falling
A source at local law enforcement authorities added "there are unconfirmed reports about fallen debris in Krasnochikoy district
Russia's space authority, Roskosmos, has requested from weather forecaster Roshydromet information about weather conditions in the area of Proton's possible falling in Baikal region, a source in the space sector told TASS on Saturday.
"As the poisonous fuel remained in the rocket's tanks, during the falling it could spread in the atmosphere," the source said. "Thus, Roskosmos was asking about wind directions and possible precipitation."
A source told TASS earlier on Saturday, a Mi8 helicopter of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has left for an area, to where debris of Proton-M carrier may fall.
"From the Khilok settlement in the Chita region, the helicopter went to the proposed area, which is about 130 kilometres from the settlement," the source said.
Local residents have not reported or claimed anything regarding possible debris.
A source at local law enforcement authorities added "there are unconfirmed reports about fallen debris in Krasnochikoy district." "It is a distanced territory, and specialists are to verify the information."
There is no information about casualties or destruction.
An emergency situation happened during the flight of Proton-M carrier, which was launched on Saturday from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 08:47 Moscow time, at 08:56 Moscow time, one minute to the scheduled separation of the Briz-M booster and the Mexican MexSat-1 space apparatus, which was to be taken to the orbit. The third stage and the satellite were falling from the height of 160 kilometres, which should be sufficient to have all the debris burn up in the atmosphere. The area where they may fall is south-west of the Siberian Baikal region. A preliminary reason of the accident with Proton is a failure of the steering engines of the third stage.
Initially, the launch had been planned for April 29, but was postponed at the client’s request. Boeing, which made the apparatus, needed more time to check the equipment on board.
Proton’s previous launch was on March 19, where it took to the orbit Russia’s Express-AM7 communications satellite.
Precisely a year ago, the carrier rocket Proton-M, which was launched from Baikonur together with the communications satellite Express-AM4R, has burnt up in the dense layers of the atmosphere. The non-deployment of the communications satellite Express-AM4R into orbit was caused by an abnormal situation, Irina Zubareva, press secretary of the Roskosmos director, told TASS then.
Quelle: TASS
Update: 17.05.2015
Mexico not to suffer financially due to loss of satellite after Proton accident — Minister
According to Esparza, the satellite was insured for its full value and "this sum will be fully refunded"
MEXICO CITY, May 17. Mexico will not sustain economic losses due the loss of its MexSat-1 communications satellite following the crash of the Proton-M carrier, Mexico’s Minister of Communications and Transportation Gerardo Ruiz Esparza told a news conference in the city of Hermosillo on Saturday.
© Roskosmos
Medvedev orders to set up commission for identifying responsible for Proton failure
According to Esparza, the satellite was insured for its full value and "this sum will be fully refunded." He added that the Mexican authorities had invested $300 million in the creation of the satellite and another $90 million - in its blast off from the Baikonur space port."
Commenting on the Proton crash, the minister noted that "it was quite clear that such risks did exist" during the launch of a space vehicle.
Quelle: TASS

Tags: Proton-M-Crash Raumfahrt 


Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015 - 11:10 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Der neu ausgestattete Airbus A310 bereit für Zero-G-Flüge


Der neu ausgestattete Airbus A310 auf der Startbahn, bereit für seinen ersten Flug für die Forschung in der Schwerelosigkeit nächste Woche. Trotz seines Gewichts von bis zu 157 Tonnen können speziell trainierte Piloten das Flugzeug in einen Winkel von 40-50° steuern und so kurze Perioden der Schwerelosigkeit erzeugen. Auf der Spitze jeder geflogenen Kurve gleichen sich alle Kräfte auf Passagiere und Gegenstände an Bord der Maschine aus und bringen sie und auch das Flugzeug selbst durch den freien Fall in einen Zustand der Schwerelosigkeit.
Jedes Mal, wenn die Maschine steigt und wenn sie nach einem Abstieg wieder hochzieht, wirken die Kräfte auf Passagiere und Gegenstände in diesem A310 beinahe zweimal so stark wie bei normaler Schwerkraft – eine Person, die auf der Erde 80kg wiegt, wird sich während etwa 20 Sekunden fühlen, als wiege sie 160kg.
Die Möglichkeit, praktische Experimente in der Schwerelosigkeit und Hypergravitation durchführen zu können, zieht Forscher verschiedener Disziplinen an, darunter Biologie, Physik, Medizin und angewandte Wissenschaften.
Die französische Firma Novespace führt diese Parabelflüge seit über 25 Jahren durch. Letztes Jahr wurde ein neues Flugzeug erworben, das den treuen Vorgänger, einen Airbus 300, ersetzt. Die meisten Sitze wurden ausgebaut, um so viel Raum wie möglich im Inneren zu schaffen. Gepolsterte Wände sorgen für eine weiche Landung der Forscher – denn die Änderungen der Schwerkraft können schon mal hart zu nehmen sein. Spezielle Monitore wurden installiert, um einem Techniker zu ermöglichen, die Systeme des Flugzeugs zu überwachen, während es an seine Grenzen gebracht wird  –  es handelt sich ja nicht um eine Kreuzfahrt.
Die erste wissenschaftliche  Forschungsreihe zur Einweihung des neuen Flugzeugs wird am 5. Mai starten, als Kooperation der drei wichtigsten Forschungspartner der Firma Novespace: der ESA, der französischen Weltraumagentur CNES und dem Deutschen Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt, DLR.
Bei den Experimenten geht es um das Testen des schwachen Äquivalenzprinzips im atomaren Maßstab; das Verstehen, wie Menschen Objekte in verschiedenen Gravitationszuständen fühlen; Untersuchungen, wie das menschliche Herz und die Aorta reagieren; das Testen von neuem Equipment für die Internationale Raumstation; das Ausprobieren von neuen Techniken zum Start von Nano-Satelliten; eine Untersuchung, ob pharmazeutische Mittel ohne Schwerkraft funktionieren werden; das Verstehen von Staubwolken in unserem Sonnensystem und das Entstehen von Planeten sowie das Forschen an möglichen Triebwerken für Mars-Flugzeuge.
Quelle: ESA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015 - 10:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Hubble Focus auf elliptische Galaxie NGC 3923


The glowing object in this Hubble Space Telescope image is an elliptical galaxy called NGC 3923. It is located over 90 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra.
NGC 3923 is an example of a shell galaxy where the stars in its halo are arranged in layers.
Finding concentric shells of stars enclosing a galaxy is quite common and is observed in many elliptical galaxies. In fact, every tenth elliptical galaxy exhibits this onion-like structure, which has never been observed in spiral galaxies. The shell-like structures are thought to develop as a consequence of galactic cannibalism, when a larger galaxy ingests a smaller companion. As the two centers approach, they initially oscillate about a common center, and this oscillation ripples outwards forming the shells of stars just as ripples on a pond spread when the surface is disturbed.
NGC 3923 has over twenty shells, with only a few of the outer ones visible in this image, and its shells are much more subtle than those of other shell galaxies. The shells of this galaxy are also interestingly symmetrical, while other shell galaxies are more skewed.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 16. Mai 2015 - 18:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Buzz Aldrin: Nächster Präsident sollte versuchen, innerhalb von 20 Jahren den Mars zu kolonisieren


“We explore or we expire. It is built into our human genes, the curiosity to look elsewhere to find better locations."

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk the moon, said he would encourage the next U.S. president to commit to colonizing Mars within the next 20 years.
When asked about the importance of public and private partnerships for space exploration, Aldrin said the private sector usually does a better job.
“Your greatest legacy is in front of you by making a commitment within two decades for the United States to lead international humans to permanence on the planet Mars,” Aldrin said when asked by his son, Andrew, how he would justify the need for human presence on Mars to the next president.
“This can be your legacy and the legacy of the first pilgrims that stepped foot there because we know the disadvantages of landing and then bringing people back and then landing again, and that’s wishy-washy. What do you want to do? Do you want to colonize or not? If you don’t, stay in orbit, that’s nice and safe, but somebody else will go down there. That doesn’t mean spend years in orbit. Go in there because we have fixed the surface to be a very acceptable, habitable location for growing people,” he added.
Aldrin’s comments were made at the Human to Mars Summit 2015, hosted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and George Washington University (GWU). His son, Andrew, the current president of Moon Express, moderated the discussion.
Aldrin, 85, was asked why he prefers human space exploration instead of remotely exploring space via satellites and other technology.
Quelle: PJ-Media

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. Mai 2015 - 18:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - USAF arbeitet an Vision von günstigen Weltraum


Concept art for ULA's Vulcan launch system 
The words “affordable” and “national security space” systems are not often paired together.
The Air Force and other agencies involved in building, launching and operating satellites are better known for cost overruns.
Air Force, National Reconnaissance and Navy satellite programs were for decades plagued by delays that ultimately cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Sending the largest spacecraft to orbit was handed over to a monopoly in 2005 resulting in spiraling launch fees. And often lost in this equation was the inefficient and high price of the ground systems that carry out day-to-day satellite operations.
“Space acquisition isn’t broken and we can achieve affordability,” Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy at the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said at the recent Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
There are movements in all three industry sectors — satellite acquisition, ground systems and launch — that have the potential to make space more affordable.
Pawlikowski, the former commander of the space and missile center, asserted that the Air Force had turned around its beleaguered satellite development enterprise. 
“Everybody talks about the horror stories,” she said. “We need to stop beating ourselves up over space acquisition.”
All of the Air Force’s highest profile spacecraft acquisitions were at one time delayed by years and suffered from cost overruns. Advanced EHF and Wideband Global System communication satellites ended up being lofted years after their original dates, and hundreds of millions over budget. The space-based infrared system suffered a similar fate, as did GPS II, she noted. 
“We figured out how to make those systems affordable,” Pawlikowsi said. The Air Force space procurement budget has been reduced from $11 billion to $6.7 billion since the Budget Control Act of 2012 took effect, and the service continues to successfully acquire new blocks of these spacecraft, she said, ascribing some of the success to the Better Buying Power initiatives promulgated by the Defense Department’s Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall.
One change was going from cost-plus to fixed price contracts. That took care of the age-old problem of requirements creep — adding features to a program while it is under development. That has always been tempting for spacecraft developers since the satellites, once lofted, can last 10 to 15 years, and acquisition personnel wanted to ensure they had the most up-to-date technology aboard.
“It disciplines the government because when you have a fixed-price contract you can’t change things around as easily because you understand the costs associated with doing that,” Pawlikowski said.
The center had to learn to understand and refine requirements and the risks associated with them, she added. As an example, the space fence — a ground-based radar system designed to track spacecraft and orbital debris  — was originally budgeted as a $6 billion program, but is now $1 billion, she noted.
A recent Government Accountability Office report on space acquisitions delivered to the Senate Armed Services Committee after Pawlikowski’s speech — “Some Programs Have Overcome Past Problems, but Challenges and Uncertainty Remain for the Future” — acknowledged that some of the space and missile center’s acquisition efforts had turned around.
Cristina T. Chaplain, director of GAO acquisition and sourcing management, said most of Air Force Space Command’s programs are mature. The command is working its way through a series of analysis of alternative reports that may radically change space architecture, and it is not committed to many new development programs.
Meanwhile, one of its few new programs, GPS III, has been delayed by 28 months because of problems with its navigation payload, GAO said. Its GPS next-generation operational control system is experiencing “significant schedule delays and cost growth.” Software and cyber security upgrades may push its delivery back by four years.
Pawlinkowsi said: “We can draw our best lessons on things we have done in the last five or 10 years.” Nevertheless, she described the Air Force space acquisition enterprise as a “recovering alcoholic.” It had at one time plenty of funding, but those days are over. Fiscally, the command is in for some tough times, she said. Meanwhile, demand for space services continues to grow. ”We can’t rest on our laurels,” she added.
Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force space and missile center commander, said Pawlinkowski had reviewed 33 past and current programs to determine the reason for the delays.
“We intend to assure that we don’t make the same mistake twice,” he said.
The center will bring back developmental planning in a disciplined away, he said. It will retire the risks of developmental technology before building new spacecraft around it. He has instituted more frequent contractor and program feedback, not just during periodic reviews. “This will be a tough thing to do,” he acknowledged.
The center has established an advanced development directorate, which is a center of excellence for new technologies to be inserted before a program reaches milestone A decisions.
“We have to reduce risks through demonstrations and pathfinders and rigorously analyze alternatives,” he said. 
Often ignored, but vitally important for reducing costs, are ground systems. 
Sequestration began a drive to create common architectures and applications that may end up making ground systems more affordable, said Bob Canty, vice president of business development for Raytheon intelligence and Earth observation.
Satellite control systems were developed in stovepipes. Each fleet has its own operators, software and hardware. There is little automation, so ground stations must be manned around the clock, he told reporters.
SpaceX's GPS III satellite
Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. John Hyten said he wants a common ground system that can operate any satellite.
“We have spent tens and hundreds of millions of dollars on stand-alone ground systems … If we keep on going on this path, we’ll have five separate ground systems to operate five separate satellites. It’s the dumbest thing in the world,” he said in a speech at the symposium.
“We have to get to common ground system … and we’re going to get to it one way or another. We cannot fail in this endeavor,” he said.
Canty said before the budget crunch, the desire on the part of Space Command was to simply share data. Now, with a push for affordability, those two goals are dovetailing.
“You’re starting to see both of these things working together. As you get more common, the sharing is easier and you start getting into different ways of looking at how I can leverage the enterprise and leverage the data itself,” Canty said.
Greaves said: “Ground systems are becoming more capable of handing more complexity in terms of constellation management, infusing more types of data, delivering combat relevant information.”
Vincent Sica, vice president of ground solutions at Lockheed Martin, said it is necessary to separate the information technology backbone layer and the applications layer.
Ground station applications “were so interwoven with IT operating systems and services, that anytime you made any change you had to change the entire ground system from the IT layers to services and applications.”
A new modular separation — or what he called an “enterprise service bus” —  has been slowly evolving over the past few years, allowing for more commercial-off-the-shelf products and services, he said. “We’ve had some applications where we have shown significant savings by going to a private cloud infrastructure,” he said.
There are also big savings to be had in software testing, which can account for 50 percent of any upgrade. The modularity allows for more application plug-ins, which cuts down the need for tests.
It has been a slow process because these are systems being used 24/7 to control vital satellites. He likened it to changing wheels on a car while still driving.
“You have to do it in a systematic way. Nobody has big budgets out there for big bang transitions,” he said. The transition is being made as software coding is being updated. “When you do have a new start, you obviously want to build it that way from the beginning and you can certainly see the benefits of that. In many cases you don’t see that scenario.” 
The Air Force is also looking for efficiencies on the ground with its new consolidated Air Force satellite control network modifications, maintenance and operations (CAMMO) program. The service currently has different contracts to cover development, sustainment and operations of the ground control systems. CAMMO will bring all these functions under one contract and team.  
That will give the Air Force an efficient trouble shooting process with one team responding to restore service, Sica said.
“I believe you should see significant savings that could be put into modifications and future upgrades,” he added.
Canty said: “Once I get these systems common, now I can operate these globally with one overall sustainment type of model.” The Air Force and other services will move toward managed services, he predicted.
Raytheon has already seen a 50 percent reduction in computing infrastructure, floor space, power and sustainment costs at ground control facilities, he added.
Common ground “transforms the way you look at your operations with better insight into data for analytics, improved agility and response time and enable smart network sensors,” Canty said.
Meanwhile, the private sector is poised to come in and offer more managed services in order to help reduce the cost of space.
The Air Force in October awarded commercial satellite communications provider Intelsat General a study contract to investigate whether such companies could take over the day-to-day tracking, telemetry and control of the Wideband Global Satcom satellites.
“Intelsat, with global operations that span over 400 antennas and that achieve 99.99 percent availability, has demonstrated that we can provide our customers with more cost efficient operations without sacrificing innovation, resiliency, quality or security,” Intelsat president Kay Sears said in a statement.
WGS spacecraft technology is based on commercial satellite systems, so a commercial satellite operator should be familiar with its operations. The comsat sector’s ground control costs are one-fifth of the U.S. military’s, the statement noted.
Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, senior vice president, government strategy and policy at Inmarsat Inc., a comsat provider, said her company is offering an end-to-end communication system that include terminals that connect the war fighters to satellites.
It provides terminals, the satcom, a service level agreement and technology refresh.
“They hold us accountable to a service level agreement and a committed information rate,” she said. This may be particularly attractive because military customers often put off refurbishing or replacing their radios and terminals for budget reasons, she said.
This is another element the government can put in its portfolio to consider its investment strategies, she said. Inmarsat already has one “small scale” U.S. government customer for this managed service, although she declined to disclose its identity.
Without assured access to space, national security satellites cannot make it to orbit. The government long ago stopped acquiring its own rockets and instead asked contractors to provide launch services. Only two companies at the time were able to manufacture rockets powerful enough to loft the heaviest satellites: Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
They formed United Launch Alliance in 2005 and the joint venture has had a monopoly on heavy lift since then. Launch fees rose dramatically over the past decade, although GAO’s Chaplain said that those costs are now under control.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is expected to have its first rocket certified for national security launches this summer, and is beginning the process of having its Falcon 9 Heavy certified.
Meanwhile, ULA announced that it will scrap the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets it currently employs and develop a new launch system it calls the Vulcan. It is aiming to send the first rocket to orbit in 2019.
The space launch industry is fundamentally different — and much healthier — than it was in the past, Hyten said. “That’s the good news. But it is a very complicated industry.”
Ultimately, the Air Force must have at least two competitors to guarantee assured access to space, Hyten told reporters in Washington, D.C. The Air Force wants more competition to bring costs down. But questions remain: “If I’m buying launch as a service, how do I then make sure I still have access to space in this commercial partnership?” Hyten asked.
“If one provider is 5 percent cheaper than the other, and both are equally effective, you still have to keep the second operator in business,” he said. There will have to be launches carved out for the second provider to meet the national policy objectives. “That’s a very complicated business arrangement that we’re going to have to work out with our partners.”
Chaplain acknowledged that space is a difficult field. “We recognize DoD has made strides in recent years in enhancing its management and oversight of space acquisitions and that sustaining our superiority in space is inherently challenging, both from a technical perspective and a management perspective.” 
Quelle: NDIA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. Mai 2015 - 11:20 Uhr

Astronomie - Frische Theorien über dunkle Materie: die Dunkle Materie besteht aus schweren Teilchen


An image comparing the data showing the many galaxies and the X-ray emission from the hot gas (left) with the model of the hot gas (right). The "comet" shape of the X-ray data is well reproduced by the model


Fresh theories about dark matter
The results of the work led by Tom Broadhurst, the Ikerbasque researcher of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, challenge the accepted view that dark matter is made up of heavy particles
Tom Broadhurst, the Ikerbasque researcher in the Department of Theoretical Physics of the UPV/EHU, together with Sandor Molnar of the National Taiwan University and visiting Ikerbasque researcher at the UPV/EHU in 2013, have conducted a simulation that explains the collision between two clusters of galaxies. Clusters of galaxies are the biggest objects that exist in the universe. They are collections of hundreds of thousands of galaxies pulled together by gravity.
Tom Broadhurst, the Ikerbasque researcher in the Department of Theoretical Physics of the UPV/EHU, together with Sandor Molnar of the National Taiwan University and visiting Ikerbasque researcher at the UPV/EHU in 2013, have conducted a simulation that explains the collision between two clusters of galaxies. Clusters of galaxies are the biggest objects that exist in the universe. They are collections of hundreds of thousands of galaxies pulled together by gravity.
In general, galaxy clusters grow in size by merging with each other to become increasingly larger. Gravitational forces cause them to slowly come together over time despite the expansion of the universe. The system known as "El Gordo", the biggest known cluster of galaxies, is in turn the result of the collision between two large clusters. It was found that the collision process compresses the gas within each cluster to very high temperatures so that it is shining in the Xray region of the spectrum. In the Xray spectrum this gas cloud is comet shaped with two long tails stretching between the dense cores of the two clusters of galaxies. This distinctive configuration has allowed the researchers to establish the relative speed of the collision, which is extreme (~2200km/second), as it puts it at the limit of what is allowed by current theory for dark matter. 
These rare, extreme examples of clusters caught in the act of colliding seem to be challenging the accepted view that dark matter is made up of heavy particles, since no such particles have actually been detected yet, despite the efforts being made to find them by means of the LHC (Large Hadron Particle Collider) accelerator in Geneva and the LUX (Large Underground Xenon Experiment), an underground dark matter detector in the United States. In Tom Broadhurst's opinion, "it's all the more important to find a new model that will enable the mysterious dark matter to be understood better". Broadhurst is one of the authors of a wave-dark-matter model published in Nature Physics last year.
This new piece of research has entailed interpreting the gas observed and the dark matter of El Gordo "hydrodynamically" through the development of an in-house computational model that includes the dark matter, which comprises most of the mass, and which can be observed in the Xray region of the visible spectrum because of its extremely high temperature (100 million kelvin). Dr Broadhurst and Dr Molnar have managed to obtain a unique computational solution for this collision because of the comet-like shape of the hot gas, and the locations and the masses of the two dark matter cores that have passed through each other at an oblique angle at a relative speed of about 2200 km/s.  This means that the total energy release is bigger than that of any other known phenomenon, with the exception of the Big Bang.
Tom Broadhurst has a PhD in Physics from the University of Durham (United Kingdom). Until being recruited by Ikerbasque, he had done research at top research centres in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Israel, Japan and Taiwan. He has had 184 papers published in leading scientific journals, and so far his work has received 11,800 citations from other scientists.
In 2010, he was recruited by Ikerbasque and since then has been carrying out his work at the UPV/EHU's department of Theoretical Physics. His lines of research focus on observational cosmology, dark matter and the formation of galaxies.
Quelle: University of the Basque Country

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 16. Mai 2015 - 11:10 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISRO´s neue Multi-Objekt-Tracking-Radar kann Raumschrott verfolgen

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is close to commissioning its new, home-made radar system that is capable of tracking several objects at the same time.
The radar will give ISRO the capability to better handle future space missions that involve re-entry of modules back into the earth’s atmosphere, and to track space debris.
The system will be tested during the next PSLV rocket launch in June; its commissioning could take three more months.
Disclosing the ‘multi object tracking radar’ to journalists here, M Y S Prasad, Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre (from where Indian rockets are launched), said the radar could see objects as small as half a square meter in size, up to 1,000 km away.
“As far as we know, only five other companies in the world have the capability to build radars of this sophistication,” Prasad said, naming Raythaeon, Northrop Grummer, Lockheed Martin, of the US, Thales, Canada-Europe, Elta of Israel and NEC of Japan.
While it would cost Rs. 800 crore to buy a radar of comparable capabilities from the international market, ISRO built it for Rs. 245 crore, without any dedicated manpower, Prasad said.
V Seshagiri Rao, a former Director of the radar project, said the software developed in-house would be worth another Rs. 100 crore. The project was approved in August 2012 and has been completed in time.
Unlike the disc radars that keep spinning, the 35-tonne MOTR is a stationary, 12-metre-long, 8-metre-tall rectangular radar that contains 4,068 individual radiating elements. All these emit radio-frequency waves that combine to form a single beam. The beam can be electronically steered so that the a third of the sky is scanned. Since the radar’s base can be rotated to three positions, the entire sky can be covered.
Without this radar it would be extremely difficult for ISRO to handle manned space missions that involve the ‘crew module’ (and some other parts of the rocket) re-entering the atmosphere, because tracking them as they descend is crucial.
Since the radar can also track small objects, ISRO expects to use it to protect satellites in the ‘low earth orbit’ region (mainly, remote sensing satellites) from being hit by debris.
ISRO today uses NASA’s debris data for that purpose. Prasad said ISRO had to manoeuvre satellites out of harm’s way as many as 12 times in the last five years. Now the data from the radar will supplement NASA data to enhance ISRO’s capacity to protect satellites.
All but the dome that covers the whole system were designed by ISRO and made by Indian industry, Prasad said. The dome had to be imported because there was no Indian supplier who could assure ‘RF transparency’.
He said the radar could be put to several other uses as well. For instance, less sophisticated versions could be used by airports.
He did not want to comment on the military uses of the radar, but he observed that similar radars of Israeli make are being bought by military establishments all over the world.
Quelle: The Hindu

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. Mai 2015 - 11:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - USAF SBIRS HEO-3 ist in geplanter Umlaufbahn


LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- The Air Force has successfully completed the on-orbit checkout of the third Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) sensor operating in a highly elliptical orbit (HEO-3) over the northern hemisphere. 
HEO-3 was launched in 2014 on a host satellite. HEO-3 is the first major delivery from the SBIRS Follow-on Production contract, which also includes the third and fourth SBIRS geostationary satellites and the fourth HEO payload.
"This truly was a monumental effort by our Contractor, Government, and Aerospace team.  I am extremely proud of the hard work and perseverance of the launch team, the operations team and the countless other professionals whose dedication to the warfighter made this success possible," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Space and Missile Systems Center commander. "With the successful on-orbit checkout of this payload, SMC has once again delivered on our commitment to the warfighter.  This sensor is a critical component of the on-orbit constellation of Missile Warning sensors, and enhances the combined constellations of Defense Support Program (DSP) and SBIRS satellites."
The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.  Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrup Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., is the payload integrator.  The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colo., operates the SBIRS system.  The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, Combatant Commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers.  The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation's ballistic missile defense system, expands the country's technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.
Quelle: USAF

Tags: Raumfahrt 


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