NASA's bold repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope has inspired engineers to tackle another challenge -- using the robotic arm on the International Space Station to refuel a satellite. Aviation Week reports that the Canadian "Dextre" arm could use a special tool to cut into a spacecraft that was never designed to be refueled, pierce the insulation, and access the fuel plumbing.
Beware, enemies of India: Star Wars are back in fashion. With perennial (and nuclear armed) foe Pakistan always teetering on the brink of political collapse and neighboring regional superpower China taking greater strides into space technology, India has announced that it is developing an exo-atmospheric "kill vehicle" that will knock enemy satellites out of orbit.
Nothing lasts forever -- especially when it's government-funded -- and so, with just a few more missions, NASA will wrap up the Space Shuttle program in the year ahead, putting the period on a long chapter in America's history in space. But as its flagship shuttle program goes out to pasture for good, NASA will put an important three-piece climate research legacy into orbit that will help scientists going forward keep tabs on both global warming and solar weather events that affect life here on Earth.
In a break from their usual business of overthrowing South American governments, covering up alien landings, and broadcasting coded messages through my fillings, the CIA has revived a program that teams up spies and scientists for the study of climate change. Through the program, scientists get access classified images of the polar ice caps, as well as the chance to pick the targets of off-duty spy satellites.
Imagine your unit is working through a valley in Eastern Afghanistan trying to root out an insurgent group that's been operating from the mountains above. It would be strategically advantageous to know exactly who and what awaits you on the other side of each ridge, but the nearest Predator drone is busy monitoring a key mountain pass miles away. What would really be nice is a satellite – your own little eye in the sky – to beam down some real time images of the surrounding landscape. Kestrel Eye, a system of multiple lightweight, low-cost imaging satellites that can be repositioned from the field, aims to do just that.
Our friend the GeoEye-1 satellite, which tirelessly photographs the world at half-meter resolution from its constant orbit, swung by the Dubai Airport the other day and took this snap of the Dubai Airshow, in progress this week.
There was a time when a farmer simply tasted a clump of dirt to tell the fecundity of the soil. Now, a wide range of chemical analysis help instruct farmers on the optimal mix of fertilizer, pesticide and water. However, tests on soil samples are expensive and time consuming, and few farmers can afford to waste either time or money. And that's where the satellite imaging comes in.
Satellites currently must dodge an ever-growing gauntlet of other satellites and clouds of space debris, and this year the Pentagon has quietly upgraded its surveillance accordingly. The U.S. military announced yesterday that it now tracks 800 maneuverable satellites, compared to less than 100 prior to a February collision between an active U.S. satellite and a retired Russian communications satellite.
It’s been a busy day for India’s space agency. Underscoring the world’s largest democracy’s desire to become a serious player in the space business, the Indian Space Research Organisation launched seven satellites today, six of which belong to foreign nations.
India’s satellite, Oceansat-2, will enhance the ocean monitoring capabilities of the original Oceansat, which launched in 1999. Four of the other six satellites were German, while one was Turkish and one Swedish. Each of those carries a university-funded payload designed to conduct research on various new technologies.