Category Archives: Satellites

Are We At The Brink Of Space War? Russian Object 2014-28E could be a satellite-killer.

Space debris populations seen from outside geosynchronous orbit (GEO). Note the two primary debris fields, the ring of objects in GEO, and the cloud of objects in low earth orbit (LEO).

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering and Radar, Missiles & Combat Systems.  We think the news on mysterious Object 2014-28E launched by Russian military could be of interest to our readers.

A strange vehicle floating above our atmosphere could be Russia’s first piece of space weaponry launched since the end of the Cold War.
Called Object 2014-28E, it has been making unusual movements towards other Russian space vehicles over the past few weeks, and last night it was spotted moving over Guatemala.
It is now being monitored by Norad, the US Military space defence command, since no one can work out for certain what it is.
On the one hand it could be nothing more than a civilian project to help clean up space junk, or a craft for refuelling Russian satellites already in space.
But another, more sinister theory, is that it has been designed to damage satellites belonging to other nations, such as those of the US. In other words, it could be a “satellite killer”.
Patricia Lewis, research director at think-tank Chatham House, told the FT: “It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military. One possibility is for some kind of grabber bar.
“Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite. Or possibly there could be a satellite-to-satellite cyber attack or jamming.
She added that as long as countries are adopting military methods of attack on the ground, there is no reason why this shouldn’t extend to space. “It would be odd if space were to remain the one area that [militaries] don’t get their hands on,” she said.
It was only last week, after all, that hackers linked to the Chinese government infiltrated US federal weather satellites.
The fact that Russia has not declared the launch of this mysterious object has exacerbated fears of a revival of the Kremlin’s former project to destroy satellites. During the Cold War, Stalin introduced a project called Istrebitel Sputnikov for just this purpose, and sent military vehicles into space to damage US satellites.
The project came to an end in 1989 when the iron curtain fell – a time when many of the clandestine research projects Soviet and US engineers were working on were closed down.
But Russian military officials publicly stated that they would restart research if their relations with the US over anti-missile defence treaties deteriorated.
Given the many sanctions the West is currently placing on Russia due to its involvement in the Ukraine crisis, it seems like the time is ripe for Moscow to take up its space weapons once more.

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Two Galileo Satellites Are Parked In the Wrong Spots

The satellites were launched on Friday from French Guiana
The satellites were launched on Friday from French Guiana

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on spacecraft design. spacecraft quality control or spacecraft thermal design.

We think the news below could be of interest to our readers.

An international inquiry is under way into an embarrassing error which has left two multi-million European satellites that were launched from French Guiana in the wrong orbit.

On 22 August, a Soyuz rocket launched the fifth and sixth satellites of Europe’s Galileo project, a satellite navigation system that will eventually comprise 30 satellites designed to make Europe independent of U.S., Russian, and other GPS systems. Unlike most Soyuz launches, the rocket did not lift off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, but from Kourou, Europe’s space center in French Guiana.  Apparently the launch went off without incident, but it soon became apparent that the two satellites were injected into the wrong orbits. The upper stage of the Soyuz rocket, the Fregat-MT, injected them into elliptical orbits instead of circular ones, making the satellites unusable for GPS navigation.

The issue was the result of a frozen full pipe that delivered hydrazine to thrusters necessary to align the Fregat upper stage ready for correct orbital injection.

The freeze was the result of cold helium feed lines being installed in close proximity to the hydrazine fuel lines. They were collectedly the same support structure which led to a thermal bridge. This sequence of events occurred due to a design ambiguity which failed to recognize the possibility of thermal transfer between these components.

While it doesn’t help the two satellites that are now effectively lost to the Galileo network, it is at least a simple fix and will not result in delays to the next launch scheduled for December.

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Kids Will Have a Blast at NASA Goddard’s Model Rocket Contest

Where: NASA Goddard Visitor Center in Beltsville Maryland

When: Sunday July 20, 2014 noon to 4:00 pm

Who: Youth age 15 and younger
Upcoming Launches
June 28, Westminster
This is our quarterly sport launch at the Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster, MD.
July 6, Goddard
This is the usual monthly launch at Goddard Visitor Center.
July 19, Mt. Airy
This is our monthly sport launch at Mt. Airy, MD. Alex Mankevich is launch manager.
July 20, Goddard
Come join us at Goddard Visitor Center in Greenbelt, MD for our annual contest to commemorate the Apollo moon landing. This year marks the 45th anniversary of that historic event. We will be holding a spot landing contest that is free and open to the public. See the flyer for more information.

ATI Course Shines Light On Satellite Laser Communications

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of courses on Space & Satellite Technology.

As laser technology draw increasing attention from the satellite industry, Applied Technology Institute (ATIcourses) is ready with a specialized program designed for individuals interested in this new frontier in wireless communications. The course is aimed at engineers, scientists and other professionals grounded in traditional radio-frequency communications who want to be prepared as optical technology grows in prominence as a way to transmit data.

The program will provide an overview of the differences and similarities between laser- and RF-based communications. The class will train participants in how to design, implement and optimize laser communications systems, and will focus on the specific challenges laser-based communications systems must overcome to connect hardware in space and on the ground efficiently and reliably. Upcoming session is scheduled for April 28-30, 2014, in Columbia, MD.

The course will be taught by Dr. Hamid Hemmati, supervisor of the Optical Communications Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he has worked since 1986. Before joining JPL, Dr. Hemmati worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology. He specializes in the use of laser technology for space-based communications and is the editor and author of two books about optical communications.

For further information about ATI’s satellite laser communications course, including registration and cost details, visit

About Applied Technology Institute (ATIcourses or ATI)

ATIcourses is a national leader in professional development seminars in the technical areas of space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, engineering, and signal processing. Since 1984, ATIcourses has presented leading-edge technical training to defense and NASA facilities, as well as DOD and aerospace contractors. ATI’s programs create a clear understanding of the fundamental principles and a working knowledge of current technology and applications. ATI offers customized on-site training at your facility anywhere in the United States, as well as internationally, and over 200 annual public courses in dozens of locations. ATI is proud to have world-class experts instructing courses. For more information, call 410-956-8805 or 1-888-501-2100 (toll free), or visit them on the web at

Note: Accredited media are invited to attend for free.


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Tribute to Robert Nelson (1944 – 2013)

Dr. Robert (Bob) A. Nelson was an engineer’s engineer. He was a well-respected first as a physics teacher, and then after earning his PhD, as a satellite communications expert, an author, a consultant and an instructor for the Applied Technology Institute course
Satellite Communication Systems Engineering. Bob was president of Satellite Engineering Research Corporation, a consulting firm in Bethesda, Maryland. He also served for a number of years as the Technical Editor for Via Sat magazine. He was a coauthor of the textbook Satellite Communications Systems Engineering (second edition).

Dr. Nelson was born in Mount Vernon, New York August 14, 1944. Bob died on Sunday April 28, 2013 after a many month battle with cancer.  In spite of the cancer he remained professionally active until the end teaching, and even chairing a technical session during the Satellite 2013 conference in April 2013. He will be missed.

Dr. Nelson performed studies on satellite communications, orbit and constellation analysis, and spacecraft design for Space Systems/Loral, GLOBALSTAR, ICO, Sirius Satellite Radio, Arinc, NASA, Naval Research Laboratory, and many other companies and government agencies.

Dr Nelson earned a degree in Engineering Physics from Lehigh University and decided that he was called to the teaching profession.  He went on to complete a Master of Education from Lehigh and became a Physics and Math teacher for 15 years in Armonk, New York. His interest in Physics continued to grow and Bob his PhD in Physics from the University of Maryland He was a licensed Professional Engineer. He taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland and the long-running short course Satellite Communication Systems Engineering for ATIcourses.

Dr. Nelson’s clients included Space Systems/Loral, GLOBALSTAR, ICO, Arinc, Naval Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, NASA and many other companies and government agencies. He was an active member of the Space and Satellite community and was recently moderator at the Satellite 2013 session “Quest to Defy Physics: Ka-band and Rain Attenuation”.  He is coauthor of the textbook Satellite Communication Systems Engineering, 2nd ed. (Prentice Hall, 1993). Dr. Nelson was the Technical Editor of Via Satellite magazine. He was a member of IEEE, AIAA, APS, AAPT, AAS, IAU, and ION.

Essays on Space and Satellite Communications — by Robert A. Nelson


Dr Nelson was a respected and trusted colleague who had a passion and dedication for everything that he did.


Training budgets: Smaller is not an option


The debate on the budgets for the government organizations is pretty toxic in the US. Both US Navy and US Army alongside other organizations have declared budget shortfalls which effect many areas including training. Without commitment to training and learning new skills there can be no continuous improvement, which is one of the prime directives of any government or company.

The Applied Technology Institute (ATI) specializes in short course technical training in space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, systems engineering and signal processing. Since 1984 ATI has provided leading-edge public courses and on-site technical training to defense and NASA facilities, as well as DOD and aerospace contractors. The courses provide a clear understanding of the fundamental principles and a working knowledge of current technology and applications.


When your company does not want to pay for the training you really want, as an alternative, you can:

  • Spent your own personal money and funds; if you believe in it and then you will do it
  • Find a user group who are practicing the skills you desire
  • Don’t accept the classic answer from the boss, “How does X help the business?”. If the training is relevant to you achieving a goal of being a much better employee then of course it is relevant.
  • Find another organization to work for

A training manager with a good team can:

  • Fight for your team and their training; fight for your team’s budget and don’t let the senior management take it away
  • Give up your personal training for the entire year and suggest that they allocate the extra budget to training for your team members
  • Perhaps, it is time to evaluate the relationship with the preferred supplier of training. Has your firm been getting decent value from the PSL (preferred supplier list)?
  • Find alternatives to training like brown bag lunches and/or collaborate with other businesses

Everybody needs training and self-improvement.

Please share your opinion with us by commenting below.

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The future is here: Our children can partner with NASA on MARS studies

Who would have thought that our children can participate in NASA space and solar system studies directly?

Now they can thanks to New NASA science resource called Wavelength.

Wavelength site features hundreds of resources organized by topic and audience level from elementary to college, and out-of-school programs that span the extent of NASA science.  It not only lets users find nearly everything they want to know about NASA science, but it also allows them to provide direct feedback to NASA to enhance our products.

Seven Washington Academy fifth-graders in Belvidere, IL are doing just that.  Although the young scientists aren’t quite ready for NASA yet, they’re helping gather research for it.

Based on the information they gather, the students will propose a question to NASA — for example, was there ever ice on Mars? Then, the space agency will use the visible wavelength camera aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft in orbit around the red planet to take photos that can help the young scholars answer their original question. The students will use Skype to present their findings to NASA scientists, who will place data into a database for experts to use.

Aside from researching Mars, the process allows students to think independently and learn how to collaborate to solve problems.  This real-world application motivates students to question all theories and dive into studies themselves.

There are even resources that I can explore with my pre-school age daughter Alice.  You can find them here.


For access to NASA Wavelength, visit:

For information on NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, visit:

For information about NASA education programs, visit:

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Three new residents arrive at International Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft docked at the space station’s rooftop after a two-day orbital chase. Riding on the Soyuz were American astronaut Kevin Ford of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, who are beginning a five-month mission to the space station.

“We can see you, everything looks fine,” Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who was already onboard the station, told the approaching crew before the two spacecraft docked about 230 miles (370 km) over southern Ukraine.

Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin launched into space on Tuesday (Oct. 23) atop a Soyuz rocket that blasted off from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They are the second half of the space station’s six-person Expedition 33 crew, which is commanded by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. Malenchenko and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide round out the crew.

The Soyuz spacecraft is bringing some fishy friends to the space station in addition to its human crew. The spacecraft is ferrying 32 small medaka fish to the space station so they can be placed inside a tank, called the Aquatic Habitat, for an experiment to study how fish adapt to weightlessness.

Thursday’s Soyuz docking at the space station kicks off a flurry of arrivals and departures at the International Space Station.

A robotic Dragon space capsule built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX will depart the space station on Sunday (Oct. 28) and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. The Dragon capsule will return nearly 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of science experiment hardware and other gear back to Earth.

On Wednesday (Oct. 31), an unmanned Russian Progress spacecraft will launch toward the space station and arrive six hours later to make a Halloween delivery of food, equipment and other Halloween treats.

Williams, Hoshide and Malenchenko are in the final weeks of their mission to the space station, and will return to Earth Nov. 12. At that time, Ford will take command of the space station crew to begin the Expedition 34 mission.

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Lunar Honeymoon: Can NASA Really Take Us There Within The Next 10 Years?

We all wonder where NASA’s new space development program will take us.  What kind of technologies will we employ?  What planets will we visit?  What will happen to the International Space Station (ISS)?

All these questions and more where answered by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.

Here are the key notes.

  • Private researchers and tourists will be able to travel to ISS and other orbital destination (“Vacation All I Ever Wanted!”)
  • An international expedition will set out for a mission to asteroid (earlier plans were used during the filming of “Armageddon”)
  • A new planet containing water, i.e. habitable  will be discovered by The Webb Telescope
  • Every earthquake and tsunami can be predicted way in advance via personal hand held computer device
  • 98 percent of Earth-crossing asteroids are being tracked and cataloged
  • Bases and outposts are being set up on the Moon (Honeymoon anybody?)

You can read more of Ms. Garver’s comments here.

How realistic do you think those predictions are?  Please comment below.


If You Want to BE a Rocket Scientist, Maybe You should LISTEN to one

Each student will receive a new personal GPS Navigator with multi-channel capability
Video Clip: Click to Watch
Everything about Orbital Mechanics is Counterintuitive 

Award-winning rocket scientist, Thomas S. Logsdon really enjoys teaching this short course titled, ATI’s Orbital Mechanics: Ideas and Insights, because everything about orbital mechanics is counterintuitive.

In this comprehensive four day short course, Mr. Logsdon uses four hundred clever color graphics to clarify these and a dozen other puzzling mysteries associated with orbital mechanics. He also provides you with a few simple one-page derivations using real-world inputs to illustrate all the key concepts being explored.

For example, did you know that if you fly your spacecraft into a 100-mile circular orbit and:

• Put on the brakes, your spacecraft speeds up!

• Mash down the accelerator, it slows down!!

• Throw a banana peel out the window and 45 minutes later it will come back and slap you in the face!!!

Why not take a short course?

Since 1984, the Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has provided leading-edge public courses and onsite technical training to DoD and NASA personnel, as well as contractors. ATI short courses are less than a week long and are designed to help you keep your professional knowledge up-to-date.

Our courses provide a practical overview of space and defense technologies which provide a strong foundation for understanding the issues that must be confronted in the use, regulation and development of complex systems. Whether you are a busy engineer, a technical expert or a project manager, you can enhance your understanding of satellite systems in a short time. You will become aware of the basic vocabulary essential to interact meaningfully with your colleagues.

Determine for yourself the value of our courses before you sign up.

Click here for more information on this course

Click below to see slide samples from this course


Click below to see a video clip of this course on YouTube.

What You Will Learn When You Take this Course:

• How do we launch a satellite into orbit and maneuver it into a new location?

• How do today’s designers fashion performance-optimal constellations of satellites swarming the sky?

• How do planetary swing by maneuvers provide such amazing gains in performance?

• How can we design the best multi-stage rocket for a particular mission?

• What are libration point orbits? Were they really discovered in 1772? How do we place satellites into halo orbits circling around these empty points in space?

• What are JPL’s superhighways in space? How were they discovered? How are they revolutionizing the exploration of space?

After attending the course you will receive a full set of detailed notes from the class for future reference, as well as a certificate of completion. Each student will receive a new personal GPS Navigator with multi-channel capability. Please visit our website for more valuable information.

About ATI and the Instructors

Our mission here at ATI is to provide expert training and the highest quality professional development in space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, and signal processing. We are not a one-size-fits-all educational facility. Our short classes include both introductory and advanced courses. ATI’s instructors are world-class experts who are the best in the business. They are carefully selected for their ability to clearly explain advanced technology.

For more than 30 years, Thomas S. Logsdon, has conducted broad ranging studies on orbital mechanics at McDonnell Douglas, Boeing Aerospace, and Rockwell International His key research projects have included Project Apollo, the Skylab capsule, the nuclear flight stage and the GPS radionavigation system.

Mr. Logsdon has taught 300 short courses and lectured in 31 different countries on six continents. He has written 40 technical papers and journal articles and 29 technical books including Striking It Rich in Space, Orbital Mechanics: Theory and Applications, Understanding the Navstar, and Mobile Communication Satellites.

Dates and Locations

The next date and location of this short course is:

Jan 9-12, 2012 Cape Canaveral,FL

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