Archive for September, 2010

ST-22 Mission Update – 6 satellites mated to dispenser

ROSCOSMOS is now reporting that Pre-launch operations continue at the MIK-112 Upper Composite Integration Facility(UCIF) as all 6 Globalstar-2 satellites are now fueled and mated to the composite lightweight dispensers. Integration with the Fregat stage and final integration with the Upper Composite Faring will be completed in the UCIF before the 6 hour train ride to deliver the completed upper stage assembly to the MIK-40 processing facility at Site 31 for integration with the 3rd stage approximately 1 week before launch.


Protected: Globalstar ATC Extension-Public Interest Considerations – 100 Million in Tax Payer Monies is not enough “Public Interest”??

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Updated -The Globalstar ATC Extension Request/FCC Order – The Abridged Edition

Not only was the FCC’s decision on Globalstar ATC “shocking” to many observers as Tim Farrar, President of the Mobile Satellite Users Association described it. The concepts for the denial of it appears somewhat suspect from an analytical standpoint.

In the final determination, the most stark error in the FCC’s analysis appears to be the analysis of the relationship between the delay of micro-electronic sub-assemblies from the L’Aquila Thales manufacturing facility in Italy, and satellite Thruster assemblies from RAFAEL in Israel.

The results of this earthquake in both human (over 300 souls perished), and infrastructure loss was widely reported in the US Press. Among the losses was catastrophic damage to the Thales Alena Space Plant, where manufacture of certain payload micro-electronic assemblies was underway for Globalstar’s new satellite constellation. After careful inspection, the plant was deemed unsafe for the return of Thales employees in the L’Aquila area.

In its ruling, the FCC appears to have highlighted the effects of this tragic event on the ultimate access and availability of Globalstar satellites from the prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space. Here, the FCC chose to parlay the earlier slow down in the production cycle due to the reported lack of contractual payments by Globalstar to Thales, beginning in very late 2008/early 2009, to the ultimate availability of satellites in September 2010. The FCC opined that it was this several month slow down in the production cycle, due to lack of funding from Globalstar, that ultimately led to the delay in the availability of Globalstar’s satellites and their launch requirements to meet the July 1, 2010 MSS Coverage and Spare satellite milestone requirements.

In its September 14th Order, the FCC opined that

Thus, delivery of the satellites was well behind schedule even
before the April 2009 earthquake. Indeed, had work proceeded as originally scheduled, the impact of the earthquake may have been lessened. If more components had been fabricated at the L’Aquila factory before the earthquake struck, those same components presumably could have been integrated into their respective modules at other Thales facilities.

Here the FCC highlighted the effects of the Earthquake in L’Aquila, and opined that the delay “may” have been avoidable IF Globalstar had provided continued funding, and the underlying work by Thales had not slowed before the Earthquake on April 6th, 2009. This analysis appears to be based on conjecture and assumptions as the FCC provides no references to data points to support this argument. Thus, the FCC is simply assuming that more assemblies would have been manufactured before the seismic event, IF funding had not been delayed several month earlier.

This analysis seems somewhat justified, as these assemblies are built in a “production line”, one after another. Globalstar actually admitted that Thales possessed 5 completed micro-electronic assemblies, which were recovered from the L’Aquila plant after the Earthquake.

…..although most of the completed components were salvaged before aftershocks made the plant too unstable to visit.

As a matter of fact, COFACE, and its underwriters and insurers, required an increased on-orbit checkout period after the first launch to test these micro-electronic assemblies recovered from the Thales L’AquIla factory after the earthquake. July 30 Letter @ Page 2

In addition to the physical damage that delayed the delivery schedule for the components being manufactured at the L’Aquila plant, as Globalstar previously explained, after the earthquake the French Government acting through COFACE and Globalstar’s French lenders required a 5 month longer than budgeted in-orbit testing period after the first launch to assure no “infant mortality issues” arose in the first six satellites launched with hardware FROM L’Aquila.

Thus, the FCC assimilates a slow down in financing in early 2009, which may well have caused a delay in the availability of satellites, and the FCC’s analysis may appear justified. Well, justified that is, if you are only launching 6 satellites. But, Globalstar is not just launching 6 satellites. Thales is building 24 satellites, in four batches of 6 satellites per production run. Is the FCC suggesting here that ALL 24 microelectronic assemblies from the L’Aquila plant were going to be produced before the April 6th, 2009 Earthquake? Then claim that several months of delays in the availability of funding that slowed the underlying production work, provided the opportunity for only 5 of the 24 sub-assemblies to be complete and readied for integration at other Thales facilities? After all, Globalstar required ALL 24 satellites ‘on-orbit’ in order to meet the MSS ATC Coverage and Spare Satellite Gating Requirements. Five satellites on-orbit would provide no benefit, as they needed ALL 24 new spacecraft to meet coverage and spare satellite gating requirements.

After all, the real problem in the analysis is that these concepts “might” have been reasonable for the satellites that were then under production. But, it appears the FCC fails to realize that there were 18 other satellites behind the satellites that comprised the “First Batch” of 6. So in reality, it appears that any financial delays that you might attribute to the first batch of 6, or even 12, is inconsequential as to the availability of the final batch of 6 satellites that were required to meet the ATC gating requirements. Globalstar contends that while there were some delays in the availability of the sub-assemblies associated with the L’Aquila Earthquake and Thales factory. The overwhelming delay in satellite delivery and availability was caused by a 15 month delay in the delivery of the Satellites Thruster Assemblies from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel.

@ Page 3 Public Version. In NOVEMBER 2009, Globalstar contacted Thales to express concerns as to wheather the thrusters would meet technical specifications to which the parties had agreed and whether Rafael was maintaining an effective quality control process. Thales and Rafael subsequently committed to deliver and install the thrusters for the first through eighth satellites by April 23, 2010 – a delay of more than thirteen months from the original schedule. In fact, however, the actual delivery of the thrusters for the first eight satellites was not completed until June 1, 2010 – a total delay of more than fifteen (15) months.

As a matter of fact. Iridium, in its April 2010 “Petition to Deny” surprisingly appears to agree with this concept. Iridium appears to opine that while there may have been some delays encountered due to the Earthquake, these delays would not significantly alter the ultimate delivery schedule of Globalstar’s satellites from its prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space.

In the FCC Globalstar Order, the FCC actually highlights this position presented by Iridium
Globalstar Order:@8

Furthermore, Iridium contends that Globalstar’s
assertions regarding delay resulting from the earthquake are contradicted by a reported statement by Thales Alenia’s Chief Financial Officer in July 2009 that Thales could “re-engage full production quickly enough to complete the 24 [Globalstar] satellites in time for launches in 2010.

Iridium opines in its April 5, 2010Petition to Deny@7

“Thales’ Chief Financial Officer Patrice Durand noted that “the Globalstar work had been ‘suspended for several months’ before [certain] new financing was made available” and that “the contract had been subjected to a “temporary stop-work order.” Thales then noted that it could “re-engage full production quickly enough to complete the 24 satellites in time for launches in 2010.” At that time, Thales did not indicate that the earthquake would delay delivery of Globalstar satellites. Globalstar has made no showing explaining what has changed since July 2009.

Here, Iridium clearly opines that in reality, the events of the April, 2009 L’Aquila Earthquake actually had no part in the delay of the satellite deliveries to Globalstar. Iridium opined that the FCC should deny Globalstar’s extension request because the effects of the L’Aquila Earthquake were unquantified, and according to Thales’ Executives in referenced Press Releases, the components that were sourced from L’Aquila could be “re-engaged to full production quickly enough to complete the 24 satellites in time.”

Globalstar then provided the documentation as to clarify the ultimate delay of the satellites from Thales being the Thruster assemblies.

Now we understand where the actual delay transpired from. It was not the components from the L’Aquila factory, which encountered some production delays due to the April 6th earthquake. More so, the longest delays came from an Israeli sub-contractor whose production facilities and development areas were not subject to the effects of an earthquake. Thus, any delays associated with financing in late 2008 would not have been amplified by an Act of God like the earthquake which struck the L’Aquila facility. As a matter of fact, Globalstar actually agreed to accept the thrusters, even though they “did not meet all the original performance specifications” @ Public Version Page 3″ due to technical development delays.

However, conversely, in its final ruling, the FCC opined that @14.

The record indicates that the thrusters for the first batch of satellites were delivered to Thales more than [REDACTED] after the delivery date specified in the initial manufacturing contract. However, the record nowhere indicates that late delivery of the thrusters impacted the deployment schedule of the second-generation satellites. Rather, the record shows that the dates by which Thales was required to complete construction of the satellites were postponed as a result of the missed payments and the temporary closing of the L’Aquila facility. Even with the delay in thruster production, the record shows that the thrusters were delivered to Thales well before the revised date by which Thales was required to complete construction of the satellites. Thus, it does not appear that the later-than originally- scheduled delivery of thrusters had any impact on satellite deployment.

The first question that needs to be asked is why the FCC chose to [REDACT} the amount of delivery delay of the thrusters from the original contract, which was March 3, 2009? This information was provided in the public portions of Globalstar's letter dated July 30, 2010. The letter clearly indicates the original required delivery dates of the Thrusters and the subsequent revised delivery dates. The number that should have been provided in the REDACTED space in the FCC Order was "15 months". Perhaps the publicly provided 15 month figure might have diminished the apparent relevance of the micro-electronics delay from L'Aquila which served as the focus for the reasons surrounding the FCC decision to deny Globalstar Extension Request?

But, the Commission's underlying conclusion that the L'Aquila micro-electronic assemblies delays was greater than the Thruster dealys, seems at odds with the data supplied. Here the FCC appears to claim that deliveries of the Thruster assemblies on June 1, 2010 for the first batch of 6 satellites had no effect on the ultimate delivery of the satellites to Globalstar.

The FCC however reaches the conclusion that the delay in funding in late 2008, which slowed production at the L'Aquila factory before the earthquake, ultimately delayed the delivery of the micro-electronic assemblies required for the first satellites.
The FCC reached this conclusion even though Iridium provided documentation showing that Thales Executives stated their production for assemblies from L'Aquila could be "re-engaged" quickly enough to prevent a delay in satellite delivery.

The FCC then rules that the delivery of the Thruster assemblies provided no greater delay, than the delay presented by the lack of micro-electronic sub-assemblies from the L'Aquila facility. Then, since the delay of those micro-electronic sub-assemblies from L'Aquila was deemed as the underlying culprit in spacecraft availability. Those delays were ultimately tied to several months of funding reduction in late 2008/early 2009.

So the FCC determined that the delay in Thrusters had no role in the delivery of the satellites, but the delivery was actually delayed by the micro-electronic sub-assemblies from L'Aquila even though Iridium provided documentation to rebuff this assertion. Hence the delay in satellite delivery was ultimately blamed on a short term delay in funding and therefore, deemed to be wholly within the control of Globalstar.

There is only one problem with this thesis. And that is.

Thales already had 5 completed micro-electronic assemblies from L'Aquila in hand when the Earthquake struck in April, 2009.

Yet, Thales did not deliver the first 3 satellites to Gloalstar until August 9, 2010? While the first Thruster assemblies were delivered from Rafael on June 1, 2010.

How can the micro-electronic sub-assembly delay from L'Aquila be greater than the delivery delay of the Rafael thruster assemblies on June 1, 2010, when 5 completed micro-electronic units were recovered from L'Aquila in April, 2009? This is simply Not Possible.

Thales had 5 completed micro-electronic assemblies from L'Aquila in hand in April, 2009, but, did not receive the Thruster assemblies until June, 2010, and the first three satellites were not delivered until August 3rd, 2010. Thus it seems difficult to understand the FCC's comprehension of timelines in this situation. How can L'Aquila subassemblies being on hand in April 2009 be later than the delivery of Thruster assemblies in June 2010? If the L'Aquila micro-electronic assemblies were the critical missing component, then why didn't Thales deliver the first 3 satellites on-time as originally claimed possible by Iridium. After all, Thales had possession of the components from L'Aquila since April, 2009.

As a matter of record, one of the FCC's main justifications for denial of the Globalstar Extension Request was that a production slow-down due to reduced funding levels from Globalstar MAY have delayed production of the micro-electronic assemblies at L'Aquila, and IF the funding slow down had not occurred, then PERHAPS more micro-electronic assemblies could have been produced before the seismic event in April, 2009.

@13 Indeed, had work proceeded as originally scheduled, the impact of the earthquake MAY have been lessened. IF MORE components had been fabricated at the L'Aquila factory BEFORE the earthquake struck, those same components, PRESUMABLY COULD have been integrated into their respective modules at other Thales facilities."

However, it is vividly apparent that Thales was unable to deliver even the satellites which they had possessed the requisite L'Aquila sub-assemblies since April 2009. So in reality, it appears that even if there was no slow down in funding from Globalstar, and Globalstar had accurately predicted via prescience, the April 6th, 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, and had authorized Thales for 24/7 production from L'Aquila, so that ALL 24 micro-electronic satellite sub-assemblies would be completed before April 6th, 2009 earthquake. The availability of finished satellites would not have changed in any material format, due to the delay in delivery of the first set of 8 Thruster assemblies from RAFAEL, on June 1, 2010. Which then provided delivery of the first 3 satellites about 1 month later on August 9, 2010.

Hence, it is impossible for the delay in the delivery of 3 satellites on August 9th, 2010 to be caused by the micro-electronic assemblies from L'Aquila, because Thales had possessed 5 finished micro-electronic assemblies for over 1 year. Therefore, in no way, shape, or form was the delay for the micro-electronic assemblies greater than that of the Thruster assemblies because the Thruster assemblies for the first 3 satellites delivered on August 9 2010, were delivered five weeks earlier, and the micro-electronic sub-assemblies from L'Aquila were delivered nearly 14 months earlier.

Additionally, the FCC ruled in the final Order that:@14

The record indicates that the thrusters for the first batch were delivered to Thales [REDACTED] (15 Months) after the delivery date specified in the initial manufacturing contact. However, the record nowhere indicates that the late delivery of the thrusters impacted the deployment schedule of the second generation satellites.

Now we don’t know about anyone else, but it sure appears that the July 30 Letter @ Page 3 (PDF Page 6) spends a great deal of time explaining the underlying delays in the delivery of the thruster assemblies which were originally scheduled for delivery on March 3, 2009, and later delayed until April 23, 2010, and then finally delivered on June 1, 2010. However somehow the FCC has determined that “the record nowhere indicates that the late delivery of the thrusters impacted the deployment schedule of the second gerneration satellites.”

Here it appears the FCC may have failed to read all of the underlying data provided by Globlastar before it rendered its decision. After all, the July 30, 2010 letter is clearly “in-the-record”, and the letter clearly provides exact delivery dates and relevant delays.

In the final analysis, the FCC chose to ignore these facts and instead chose to deny the Globalstar Extension Request. While appearing to claim Globalstar should have possessed certain uncanny capabilities such as prescience to predict Earthquakes and Globals Financial Meltdowns. Then provided Open Range with a 60 STA to find alternate spectrum or terminate services and vacate Globalstar’s ATC spectrum.

Unfortunately, the real loser here is the American Tax Payer. The US Treasury has nearly 100 million dollars of Taxpayer monies invested in Open Range as part of a larger 267 Million dollar Federal Government Loan Package. This is not some “Privately Funded” Broadband Provider. This system was partially built and funded with the tax-payer dollars paid by average Americans like you and me.

In a September 10, 2010 letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Ex-FCC Commissioner Johnathan Adelstein provided Chairman Geneachowski with an overview of the Financial reprocussions of a denial of the Globalstar ATC Waiver Application could have on the future of the Rural Utilities Service programs and potentially on the US Treasury.

Moreover, the Open Range loan represents the single largest loan of the RUS Broadband Program. A loan failure of a large magnitude could significantly affect the subsidy rate of the program and necessitate larger Congressional appropriations, or would otherwise result in what could be a major reduction of the agency’s present lending levels. Such a result could severely curtail the program and would be contrary to the mission of the RUS and the Commissions’ shared goal of expanding broadband throughout the U.S., especially during this time of constricted private capital.

Thruster assemblies delayed in Israel, and Micro-circuits delayed in Italian earthquakes over one year ago seem millions of miles away from the possibility of nearly $100 million dollars in tax payer monies gone to waste.

As their own web site says, REBOOT.

Protected: Open Range… 100 Million Dollars of Tax Payer money on the line. Is this all a waste of Tax Payer monies?

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Iridum vs. ISatPhone Pro, Frost & Sullivan says Iridium LEO technology wins.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – September 21, 2010 – Individuals and organizations routinely require global, 24×7 access to communications even when a wireless network or a wireline phone isn’t available. These users include emergency first responders, maritime users, remote oil and gas workers, disaster recovery personnel, military and government agents, and countless others.

In an effort to provide satellite phone users with information on two of the handset products currently available in the market, and provide an independent evaluation of their service quality, Frost & Sullivan conducted an exhaustive study of the differences between satellite phone devices and services and detailed those in a report published September 21, 2010. Frost & Sullivan’s intent is to aid those end users and decision makers responsible for purchasing, deploying, or using personal satellite communications devices.

Frost & Sullivan found it valuable to compare the features and performance of the latest industry model, Inmarsat’s IsatPhone Pro, with those of the market leader and industry standard, the Iridium 9555™ satellite phone. Frost & Sullivan also compared Iridium’s network of 66 low-Earth orbit satellites to that of Inmarsat’s constellation of three geosynchronous orbit satellites. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were conducted.

Read the entire Press Release below:

  Press Relese

FCC grants Open Range 180 Day STA. Tells Open Range to vacate the S Band.

FCC wants Open Range off the S Band.

Today the FCC granted Open Range a 180 day STA in order to provide additional time for Open Range to acquire alternative spectrum.

Readers might ask why the FCC wants to clear ATC from the S Band given the statements in the National Broadband Plan, and over 100 Million in Tax Payers money tied up in the project?

More on that later…

  Open Range STA

Coming Soon – The L’Aquila Earthquake.

If an Earthquake that destroyed a satellite component manufacturing facility in Italy is deemed irrelevant to extend milestone requirements, then SkyTerra better come up with a better excuse as to why the launch of the SkyTerra-1 satellite is delayed. Because the FCC is no mood to hear stories about delayed production assemblies. Even if the production facility that they were being manufactured in was destroyed by an earthquake.

Our source in Moscow claims the SkyTerra-1 launch will now take place around November 14th. That is not going to even meet SkyTerra/LightSquared’s first extension request. So LightSquared may need an extension, of an extension. That may be hard to swallow since SkyTerra claimed that the construction of the satellite was nearly complete in early May of this year (SAT-MOD-20100405-00064, Exhibit C, @1).

And SkyTerra/LightSquared’s Milestone extension request clearly states that.

Delay in the completion of the satellite construction was principally caused by development and integration issues associated with the advanced satellite system design, notably the state-of-the-art 22-meter L-Band reflector and spacecraft test programs.

Note it does not state that the delay was “exclusively” caused by development and integration issues.

The FCC ruled that Globalstar’s delay in the development and integration issues with its satellites’ components were actually caused by funding issues nearly 20 months earlier beginning in late 2008, with its prime contractor Thales.

SkyTerra has had a storied history of financial problems during the construction of the SkyTerra-1 satellite. Highlighted by a case of Boeing increasing vendor financing to SkyTerra by over an additional 40 million dollars in vendor financing in the middle of 2008.

The entire MSS industry will be watching this decision very closely. Including the President of the Mobile Satellite Users Association, Tim Farrar, who recently opined.

“However, last week also brought more ominous news for Harbinger in the form of the FCC’s denial of Globalstar’s ATC waiver request. As we noted at the time, Harbinger faces aggressive buildout milestones and has a pending request for a waiver of the SkyTerra-1 satellite launch deadline. If the FCC is sending a signal to Harbinger that it will not tolerate missed deadlines due to funding problems, which was the principal rationale for the Globalstar ruling, then investors in LightSquared will have to worry about how valuable the spectrum assets would be if LightSquared failed or otherwise could not meet the FCC’s deadlines. Indeed Harbinger’s own “voluntary commitments” included the condition that the LightSquared “authorizations” (its ATC license and perhaps even its MSS license depending on the interpretation of this phrase) will automatically be “null and void” without any need for further action by the Commission if LightSquared fails to meet the buildout milestones.”

Maybe it’s just us, but, doesn’t it seem odd that the FCC hasn’t investigated whether the spacecraft component delays reported by SkyTerra were not at least minimally caused by financial issues in 2008? Perhaps the FCC should ask for some documents from Boeing, as they did from Thales.

We will have complete coverage of the SkyTerra-1 proceeding.

Protected: Coming Soon… Is the FCC actually “ATC band clearing” the “S Band – Big LEO spectrum” and if so, to who’s benefit?

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“Blue Sky” Comments on Globalstar ATC extension proceeding.


TerreStar finally releases Genus™ Satellite Phone

TerreStar GENUS™ Dual-Mode Cellular/Satellite Smartphone Now Available From AT&T

DALLAS, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ — For many people it’s crucial to stay connected wherever life takes them. Thanks to a new offer from AT&T*, it’s now easier and more convenient than ever before to have mobile coverage in remote locations or when the cellular network is unavailable.
AT&T’s new Satellite Augmented Mobile Service with the TerreStar™ GENUS™ dual-mode cellular/satellite smartphone is now available for enterprise, government and small business customers. Intended to be used primarily as an everyday mobile device, the TerreStar GENUS smartphone is an innovative dual-mode device with cellular wireless capability as the primary default mode and satellite access capability as a secondary option for voice, data and messaging.
The access to the TerreStar™ satellite network enables wireless communications coverage in remote areas for government, energy, utility, transportation and maritime users, as well as backup satellite communications capabilities for public safety agencies, first responders and disaster recovery groups.
With just one phone number and one smartphone device, users with a line of sight to the satellite will have access to expanded voice and data roaming coverage in the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and in territorial waters. The TerreStar GENUS runs on the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system to provide rich features and functionality, including a touch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, camera and GPS.

Read the entire Press Release below:

  Press Relese