* Germany is to launch two geosynchronous military communications satellites by 2009, under the €1 billion SatcomBw Stage 2 programme. An EADS and ND SatCom team has been selected for negotiations over a consortium of T-Systems, OHB-System and Thales.

* NASA has delayed launch of the STS 114/Discovery Space Shuttle return-to-flight by a week to no earlier than 22 May "to review processing and other issues".

* NASA will search for signs of the ill-fated Beagle 2 lander once its Mars reconnaissance orbiter arrives at the planet in 2006, using its high-resolution camera and imaging spectrometer.

* Space Systems/Loral has signed a contract with ICO Satellite Management to build a 2GHz mobile communications satellite. The company is already building the first of two satellites for TerreStar Networks – the other company licensed to provide 2GHz mobile satellite services throughout the USA.

* China Satellite Communications has awarded Alcatel Space a contract for construction of Chinasat 9. The 22-transponder Ka-band direct broadcast satellite will be launched by a Chinese Long March booster in July 2007. China launched the Alcatel-built Apstar VI communication satellite by Long March 3B booster from Xichang on 12 April, for Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Holdings.

* Israel's Spacecom plans to launch its third communications satellite, Amos 3, on a Russian booster by the end of 2007. Amos 3 will operate in the Ku-band, but will also have two Ka-band transponders.

* US operator PanAmSat has ordered a fourth communications satellite from Orbital Sciences, with options for two more. PAS-11, with 18 Ku- and 16 C-band transponders, will follow Galaxy 12 launched in 2003 and Galaxy 14 and 15 set for later this year.

* The first Prometheus mission to demonstrate nuclear electric propulsion could fly to the Moon, Mars or an asteroid, while the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter has been delayed to at least 2017, says NASA.

Source: Flight International