Industry Notebook
Nov 15, 2008

November 2008 – According to reports from the Shanghai Daily, China will launch an exploration satellite to Mars in September 2009 and a new carrier rocket will launch in 2013, according to an official from the Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The announcement was made before the opening of the 2008 China Air Show in Zhuhai City in southern Guangdong Province.

Wang Li, of Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, was quoted by the Guangzhou Daily as saying: “A ­Chinese satellite will take a Russian spaceship to Mars after an 11-month journey in the summer of 2010. It will gather data on Mars’ space environment and the relationship between solar wind and the planet’s magnetic field.” September was selected for the launch because it will reduce time needed to reach Mars, Wang explained.

Seen here, the Long March 4B rocket lifts off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province. Its main cargo entered orbit 13 minutes later and a second, smaller Chinese spacecraft was ejected 40 seconds after that. The launch marks the first solid step in China’s exploration of Mars.

Officials from the Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) say China aims to attain the world level in space technology development by building a comprehensive aerospace industry by 2015.

The new Long March 5 carrier rocket will launch in 2013 with a capacity of 25 tons in low orbit. The most advanced carrier rocket presently can take a capacity of 9.5 tons into low orbit. It will be used for manned missions and to transport large telescopes, moon explorers, outer space explorers and application satellites weigh­ing up to 20 tons. A model of Long March 5 has reportedly been set up at the China Air Show.

The National Space Agency plans to send a robotic vehicle to the moon by 2012 in the second phase of its Chang’e lunar exploration project.

China is soon expected to open tendering for the country’s first moon rover, according to earlier reports. At least 13 research institutes are interested in bidding for the contract which is estimated to exceed 1 billion yuan (US$147 million).

RapidEye Satellite Mission Releases Images
October 2008 – MDA’s Information Systems group announced the first public release of images generated by the RapidEye satellite constellation mission developed by MDA for RapidEye-AG. The image at left shows the area of El Bolsón in Argentina, near the Argentinian-Chilean border.

RapidEye AG is an ISO-­certified geospatial information provider focused on integrating customized and industry specific solutions into the workflow of global customers in agriculture, forestry, energy, infrastructure, government, security and emergency. The RapidEye mission includes a constellation of five Earth Observation satellites and the related ground infrastructure.

RapidEye AG is planning to operate the mission to deliver agricultural land information products and services such as crop monitoring and mapping, yield prediction, and natural disaster assessment. Insurance and food companies, farmers, government and other agencies and institutions throughout the world will regularly receive up-to-date products and services of the highest quality. In addition, RapidEye will offer unique and highly competitive products to cartography customers.

The RapidEye Satellite Constellation consists of five identical satellites, each weighing about 150 kg and approximately 1 cubic meter in size. The satellites carry optical push­broom type imagers that collect imagery of the Earth with a Ground Sampling Distance of 6.5 meters. The imagers operate in five different colours (Blue, Green, Red, Red Edge and Near Infrared). RapidEye has the capacity of imaging over 4 million km2 per day and is capable of imaging any point on the Earth on any day.

MDA is the prime contractor of the RapidEye mission. MDA had a direct responsibility for the mission design, the spacecraft design and the ground image planning and processing system. As a subcontractor to MDA, SSTL in Guildford, UK designed and built the ­spacecraft bus, the Spacecraft Control Centre (SCC), and performed the spacecraft Assembly Integration and Test. MDA’s other subcontractor is Jena Optronik GmbH, in Jena, Germany. Jena Optronik designed and built the imaging payloads. The launch, by a Dnepr Launch Vehicle, was provided by ISC Kosmotras.

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), a Government of Canada Crown corporation, acts as the contracting agency between MDA and RapidEye-AG.

C-Series China Contract
July 2008 – Bombardier Aerospace signed a contract with the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), a subsidiary of the state-owned aviation industrial entity China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC I), to supply the centre fuselage on the new Bombardier CSeries aircraft.

“Shenyang has a proud ­history as an industrial base in China and aerospace [is] one of our key ­priorities,” said Mr. Wang Ying, Vice Mayor of Shenyang Municipality. “The goal of the Shenyang National Aviation and High-Tech Industrial Base is to be China’s largest single site for final assembly of regional jets, business jets, light aircraft and jet engines. On the occasion of this announcement between Bombardier Aerospace [we] offer our support to AVIC I as it invests in a new facility in Shenyang for its subsidiary company SAC.” Bombardier and AVIC I announced an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) in June 2007 for a longterm strategic cooperation in the 90- to 149-seat commercial aircraft market.

November 2008 – At the China Air Show, Liao Xuefeng, Bombardier Business Aircraft Director of Sales in China, said that China’s airplane market holds big opportunity due to the construction of new airports and possible tariff reductions for foreign airplane import. Six Chinese airline companies are currently operating 34 Bombardier aircraft.

Alenia North America Marks Delivery of First C-27j “Spartan” for North America
October 2008 – Aircraft delivery for the Joint Cargo Aircraft program is on schedule and on budget. Alenia North America ­formally marked the delivery of the first C-27J “Spartan” aircraft manufactured for a North American program, specifically the U.S. Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program.

“Our commitment to the North American market and to future North American programs and opportunities is strong, and we feel that the circumstances of this delivery show our ability to produce on schedule and on budget,”said Marcello Cianciaruso, Vice-President of Canadian Programs for Alenia North America-Canada.

The delivery ceremony for the JCA aircraft was held in Waco, Texas, in conjunction with Alenia partner and JCA prime contractor L-3 Communications. The C-27J Spartan was selected in 2007 as the Joint Cargo Aircraft, and the U.S. Armed Forces’ plan is to ­purchase 145 aircraft, rising to a total of over 200 units in 10 years.

“Alenia North America has approached a number of Canadian companies with Requests for Information for potential work to be done on C-27J aircraft coming off the upcoming North American production line,” said Alenia North America President Giuseppe Giordo. “We have also negotiated Memoranda of Understanding with potential Canadian partners. We continue to believe that the possibility for linkages of high-quality IRBs and innovation in Canada increases in the event of the launch of a fixed-wing search and rescue program in the coming months.”

Li-ion batteries for SCORPENE submarines
November 2008 – The DCNS Group is investigating integration of new-generation batteries with SCORPENE submarines, a concept that promises to double submerged endurance. Current-generation diesel-electric submarines use lead-acid batteries. To improve performance capabilities, DCNS has been working on the integration of new-generation lithium ion batteries.

This important inno­vation was presented at the UDT (Under­sea Defence Technology) Pacific 2008 show in Sydney, Australia, on 4 November.

This new technology promises to double submerged endurance at high speed while at the same time reducing the indiscretion rate, increasing range, improving safety and requiring less maintenance, all essential criteria for submariners.

The SCORPENE design is compatible with both Li-ion batteries and the MESMA air-independent propulsion system (AIP). MESMA alone enables a SCORPENE to patrol at low speed for three weeks at a time without broaching the surface.

To achieve this breakthrough, DCNS has been working in close cooperation with Saft, a world leader in the design, development and production of high-technology batteries. Saft assembles Li-ion cells to form battery modules and modules into a battery system, complete with the necessary control electronics and software, to power a submarine in complete safety. The Li-ion cells developed for this application are similar to those used on satellites and have already proven their long lifetime. Saft is a supplier of Li-ion batteries for both manned and unmanned underwater vehicles.

Telesat Manages Orbit Ops
November 2008 – Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) announced that both it and its joint venture partner Mobile Satellite Ventures (Canada) Inc. have selected Telesat to manage in-orbit operations of both the MSV-1 and MSV-2 next-generation satellites to be launched into respective U.S. and Canadian orbital slots. Telesat now manages flight operations of MSV’s current generation MSAT satellites.

Telesat will conduct in-orbit operations of MSV’s two next generation satellites, currently scheduled for launch in 2009 and 2010, from its Satellite Operations Center in Ottawa, Canada, and its back-up facility in Mount Jackson, Virginia. MSV-1 and MSV-2 will be two of the most powerful commercial satellites ever built, enabling the company’s next generation network to provide seamless, transparent and ­ubiqui­tous wireless Canada and U.S. coverage to conventional handsets and devices.

“It is critical to select a highly experienced and qualified satellite operator to fly the ­company’s most valuable resource – its spacecraft,” said Robert M. Sorbello, vice president for Space Segment for Mobile Satellite ­Ventures. “We are confident that we have chosen the best possible organization to provide in-orbit management of our two next generation satellites that will offer integrated satellite-terrestrial communications across North America.”

Telesat operates a global fleet of 13 satellites in-orbit (with two more under construction) and provides tracking, telemetry and control (TT&C) services for 13 third-party satellites, including both of MSV’s current generation satellites.

“Operating satellites on behalf of third parties such as MSV ... to focus on what they do best – delivering advanced wireless solutions to their customers,” said David Wendling, vice president of Space Systems for Telesat.

Telesat will perform pre-engineering work to prepare for the launch of MSV’s satellites, including developing software for operating and controlling them while in flight. MSV will continue to manage network operations of its entire North American system, both current and next generation services, from its Network Operations Centers in Reston, Virginia, and Ottawa, Canada.

Lynx Radar Capabilities Demonstrated During Patrol Operations on Southwest U.S. Border
October 2008 – A leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical reconnaissance radars, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., announced that its Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor successfully identified illegal crossing activity along the U.S. southwest border during recent border patrol operations conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) out of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

The Lynx SAR is performing day-to-day border search operations onboard a CBP Predator B unmanned aircraft system, also manufactured by GA-ASI.

Despite cloud cover and ground haze obscuration, the Lynx SAR’s weather penetration and wide-area scan capabilities have repeatedly resulted in successful ­missions with all objectives achieved.

“The Lynx radar’s wide field-of-view and ability to pinpoint activity allows operators to cue EO/IR [Electro-Optical/Infrared] payloads or ground units to investigate anomalies,” said Linden P. Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.  “Lynx SAR’s broad-area and all-weather surveillance capabilities continue to maximize the value and search area of the sophisticated and long-endurance Predator B UAS during CBP border patrol operations.”

The Lynx radar provides the all-weather precision capability to detect time-sensitive targets and offers a long-range, wide-area surveillance capability that can provide high-resolution SAR imagery slant ranges well beyond effective EO/IR range.

The radar also incorporates a broad area GMTI (Ground Movement Target Indicator) scanning capability to detect moving vehicles and cue the EO/IR ­payload via the CLAW® payload control software.

SKY WARRIOR has First Successful Flight via SATCOM
October 2008 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., along with “Team Sky Warrior” partners AAI Corporation and L-3 Communication Systems-West, today announced the successful first-attempted automatic takeoffs and landings of a Sky Warrior® UAS controlled from the AAI-developed Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) One System® Ground Control Station (OSGCS). Three automatic landings were successfully executed in August, at GA-ASI’s El Mirage Flight Operations Center in Adelanto, California, followed by three successful automatic takeoffs in September.

GA-ASI’s Sky Warrior aircraft was under full line-of-sight command and control through the L-3 Communication Systems-West Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). Automatic takeoff and landing utilizing TCDL represents a significant technical advancement in ER/MP UAS Program development and an important step in the maturation of diverse technologies prior to fielding the system, which is expected in July 2009. 

“Control of Sky Warrior from the ER/MP One System GCS marks another successful milestone in the fielding of the aircraft system and in meeting the Army’s requirement for increased autonomous operation,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

The first successful flight of Sky Warrior from the OSGCS via over-the-horizon Ku-Band satellite communications (SATCOM) took place on July 24th. This is a major move forward in providing the Army with multiple data link options.

The Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of a multi-year contract for the ER/MP UAS Program calls for 17 Sky Warrior aircraft and seven OSGCS.  The total program, including potential follow-on production, is estimated at over $2 billion. Team member contributions to the program are: GA-ASI, Sky Warrior UAS; AAI Corporation, OSGCS; L-3 Communication Systems-West, TCDL and SATCOM communications; and SPARTA, Inc., logistics support services.
© Frontline Defence 2008