After a one month mission in orbit, the Russian Bion M1 mission's capsule carrying animals and plants separated from the equipment module of the Bion-M spacecraft at 0232 GMT on 19 May and initiated re-entry. The capsule landed at 0312 GMT. circa 100 km northeast of Orenburg in Russia, near the Kazakh border. The mission involved experimenetal tests were conducted to examine the effect of microgravity and space radiation on space biological samples. Bion-M1 carried eight Mongolian gerbils, 45 mice, 15 geckos, snails, tilapia fish and containers with various microorganisms and plants. Most of the animals died on the flight due to a technical malfunctions with the gerbils being killed by oxygen starvation, while the fish died when the aquarium malfunction. Only 6 of the mice survived.
Recently in Satellites Category
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has formally converted two optons to construction orders for two weather satellites GOES T and GOES U from Lockheed Martin. The satellites were originally ordered as options in 2010 of the batch deal for GOES R and GOES S (delayed after a contract appeal from 2008). According to space news, the new deal is GOES T option/order is worth $175.9 million, and the GOES-U option/order is worth $139.7 million,
Astrium has been awarded a contract by the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) to build the Express-AMU1/Eutelsat 36C satellite. The Eurostar E3000 bus spacecraft will be placed into orbit by the Russian launcher Proton in 2015 and will be operated over 36 degrees East.The Express-AMU1/Eutelsat 36C will have 70 transponders to provide broadcast services in the European part of the Russian Federation in Ku and Ka bands and for broadcast markets developed by Eutelsat in sub-Saharan Africa. The multibeam Ka-band antennas feature a highly innovative array fed reflector antenna technology developed by Astrium. Express-AMU1/Eutelsat 36C will have a launch mass of 5,700 kg and a spacecraft power in excess of 15 kW. Its design lifetime is 15 years in orbit.
Artists impression of Express-AMU1/Eutelsat 36C. Courtesy: Astrium
The launch provider International Launch Services (ILS) and the commercial satellite operator Eutelsat announced a contract for the launch of a Eutelsat satellite in the 2014-2016 timeframe by ILS Proton M/Breeze M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan. This announcement was made the day after the successful Proton M/Breeze M launch of the Eutelsat 3D satellite.
At 1402GMT on 14 May 2013, a Proton M/Breeze M launch vehicle successfully lifted off from the Baikonur launch site near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan. On board was the Eutelsat 3D communications satellite being launched for the European satellite operator Eutelsat. Built by Thales Alenia Space and weighing in at 5470kg, the spacecraft was injected into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit. The satellite will use its own on-board engine to circularise itself into a Geostationary position and will be operated over 3 degrees East longitude.
Commercial launch provider International Launch Services (ILS) and commercial satellite operator, EchoStar Satellite Services, have signed an agreement for an ILS Proton M/Breeze M rocket to launch an unnamed satellite weighing in at more than 6,900kg in the late 2015 or early 2016 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Russian rocket firm Khrunichev is the majority shareholder of ILS and maker of the Proton launch vehicle.
As China flexes its financial,military and political might and continues to make border and island incursions into the disputed terrotories held by its neighbours (India, Vietnam, Japan. Philippines, Taiwan etc), fears remain that China may one day resort to full blown military action, especially if China's own prosperity or political stability ever falters. In being viewed as a potential enemy to USA and its allies, China is thus currently banned from receiving US miltary and space technology.
While the blanket nature of such export restrictions has been counterproductive to US space exports, critics have further pointed up the hypocrisy over this stance since it does not apparentlly prevent the US government from indirectly boosting the Chinese space programme in its own way. This was after the US Department of Defense sheepishly admitted that it is leasing communications capacity on China's Apstar 7 satellite in order to provide US forces operating in Africa some decent communications. The $10.6 million leasing contract officially expires in May and the US miltary want to renew it as there is little other communications capacity in the region - though their political masters are now expected to end it.
Update: They might be under fire for doing so, but the US Department of Defense has approved the renewal of the one year Apstar 7 capacity leasing contract with APT Satellite Holdings (which is indirectly part owned by the Chinese government) via Harris CapRock Government Solutions which provides the US armed forces with third party communications capacity. The contract is reportedly worth $10.7 million.