Lockheed passes key milestone for 2008 GPS demo

SATNAV Lockheed Martin Space Systems has been given the go-ahead by the US Air Force to begin modifying a production GPS Block IIR-M navigation satellite to boost accuracy for civil aviation applications from 10m (33ft) to 1m, while reducing intentional or unintentional signal corruption. The modified spacecraft, one of five GPS IIR-M satellites remaining under Lockheed's 21-satellite contract for the Air Force's Global Positioning Wing, is slated to be launched next year. The test payload will temporarily transmit a new GPS civil frequency known as L5 that, when combined with the existing L1 civil frequency and the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), will allow for precision instrument approach capabilities without ground navigation aids. The military plans have a full constellation of 30-32 next-generation multi-frequency satellites, known as GPS III, in the 2015 timeframe.

SATELLIte refuelling race heats up

SPACE Two competing on-orbit satellite servicing companies - UK based-Orbital Satellite Services and Greco-German company Kosmas Georing Services - announced new designs and customers. Orbital's SMART-orbital life-extension (OLEV) spacecraft, based on the European Space Agency's lunar orbiter SMART-1, is 500kg (1,100lb) lighter than its 1,500kg predecessor, Conexpress-OLEV, and will service one satellite by docking with its apogee kick motor. Orbital has an undisclosed customer for its first mission and has identified 140 commercial satellites that, over the next decade, can be serviced by SMART-OLEV vehicles. Kosmas Georing's Hermes vehicle will be developed to service spacecraft for Middle Eastern satellite operator Arabsat. Refuelling by Hermes requires the client satellite's fuel valve to be fitted with a special coupling before launch. Each refuelling costs up to €10 million ($13.6 million) per 50kg of propellant. Hermes can refuel up to three satellites before itself requiring refuelling, and can attach a refuellable rocket motor.

elbit subsidiary gets in the composite spirit

CONTRACT Elbit Systems subsidiary Cyclone Aviation Products was awarded a $30 million contract by Spirit AeroSystems for the supply of composite structural components for commercial aircraft. Deliveries are scheduled to begin this year. The contract includes the supply of blocker doors for aircraft engines. Yoram Shmuely, co-general manager of airborne and helmet systems at Elbit Systems, says the contract is part of the company's strategy to become a major supplier of composite structural components to the aerospace industry.

Japan agrees cash to develop F-22 rival

STEALTH Japan's ¥4.8 trillion ($41.4 billion) defence budget request for fiscal year 2008 includes an initial ¥15.7 billion allocation from the nation's air force to support an advanced technology demonstration project to research stealth technologies to support the future production of an indigenous fifth-generation fighter. Japan's Technical Research and Development Institute has already conducted integration work on the so-called ATD-X project. A full-scale mock-up of a possible F-XX fighter design has already been produced, with the concept eyed as a successor to the air force's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/Boeing F-15s.

UK government must move to support industry

AEROSPACE Allan Cook, Cobham chief executive and newly elected president of the UK aerospace industry trade association, SBAC, has called on the UK government to quickly announce a successor to the axed Defence Export Sales Organisation (DESO) to support "the world's second largest" aerospace industry. Speaking to guests at the association's annual dinner in London, Cook said the decision to scrap DESO "represents a real setback. Here we are in a global market, with excellent products and services - and we severely compromise our route to the valuable export market! While we recognise that ministers will not reverse the decision, the need for an effective successor to DESO is paramount. Our questions to government are, do you remain fully committed to defence exports and will you provide sufficient resources to do the job properly?"

Source: Flight International