Iridium’s LEO constellation of ## active and ## spare satellites relay signals to each other directly, unlike other systems that require multiple hops between space and the ground to send signals around the world. In June 2010, the company named France’s Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor to construct the communications payload for Iridium’s second-generation, ##-satellite constellation Iridium NEXT.
A new laser technology, designed to create precise lenses and mirrors for space telescopes, is able to inscribe numbers inside glass without damaging it. The laser operates in a manner similar to lasers used in laser eye correction, by beaming energy through the surface of the glass to make changes within.
The Open Initiative on the Use of Space Technologies to Support the World Heritage Convention is a program sponsored by ESA and the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Open Initiative focuses on the use of satellite imagery to identify and protect U.N.-designated world heritage sites and alert local authorities to changes that could pose a threat to those sites.
In June 2010, Israel launched the OFEQ-9 reconnaissance satellite which joined ## others already in operation. China’s utilization of space for military purposes is even harder to gauge due to the country’s lack of transparency in its space programs. In 2010, the country launched ## Yaogan satellites with the stated purpose of engaging in scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring. Many space analysts believe that the true mission of these satellites is for reconnaissance or other military purposes.
The satellite services sector, which includes fixed and mobile satellite services, registered $## billion in 2010 revenue, up from $## billion in 2009. Both types of services communicate information in video, voice, and data formats. Fixed satellite services (FSS) refer to the delivery of satellite communications to stationary ground receivers that can be moved from one location to another but do not work while in transit. Mobile satellite services provide similar capabilities but the communication link ties to mobile receivers, such as satellite telephones or in-flight communications.
The dominant providers of international fixed satellite services (FSS) are Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, and Telesat. These four companies collectively own nearly half of all GEO commercial communications satellites (125 satellites, or 47% of the total), and represented 49% of total FSS market revenues in 2010.
Despite the recession and financial crisis, the European space workforce has continued to add jobs. According to data collected by Eurospace, the nonprofit European space industry association, 31,369 full time equivalent (FTE) employees worked in the European space sector in 2009. This marked a net increase of 1,068 FTEs, or 3%, between 2008 and 2009.
GEO satellites provide a wide fixed coverage area, making them ideal for reaching a community of stationary antennas that do not need to track a moving object in space. The dominant providers of international fixed satellite services (FSS) are Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, and Telesat. These four companies collectively own slightly more than half of all GEO commercial communications satellites, and represented ##% of total FSS market revenues in 2008.
Ground stations are an essential but often overlooked segment of space infrastructure. Ground stations connect satellites to terrestrial networks and collect satellite information ranging from tracking and telemetry to imagery and scientific data. The stations also upload information to spacecraft, including command and control data, software upgrades, and other mission-critical instructions. Employees at some ground stations process, analyze, and distribute satellite-based data, products, and services.
A technology developed by ESA is helping rural areas to provide on-demand public bus service. In many rural areas, public transportation connections are infrequent. Governments are reluctant to increase public transportation services where revenue does not justify the expense.