News of

April 1999

April 30
Boeing decides to postpone the second flight of its Delta 3 launcher to May 5 at the earliest in order to assess any potential implication of the Titan 4B/Centaur failure. The Delta 3's new second stage is powered by a RL10-B2 engine provided by Pratt&Whitney. The Centaur upper stage was powered by a pair of RL10-A3s.
(see the Launch Log)
April 30
A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Titan 401B/Centaur heavy-lift failed to release its payload, the US$800-million Milstar 2-F1 military communication satellite, into its targeted geostationary orbit. According to the commander of U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing, the vehicle's Centaur upper stage performed its three burns but earlier than planned. Ther payload was thus released on 740 x 4,997 km orbit. Total cost of the mission amounted to US$1.23 billion. This is the third failure of a Titan 4 vehicle mission in a row. Total cost of this string of failures exceeds US$3 billion.
(see the Launch Log)
April 30
Orbital Sciences Corp. will begin preliminary design work on a commercial reusable launch vehicle able to loft up to 3,600kg to orbit at half or one third the cost of current launchers. This project was unveiled during the roll-out ceremony, at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, of the first of three X-34 reusable hypersonic demonstrators built by OSC. During the next few months, the X-34 will undergo captive carry tests underneath OSC's "Stargazer" carrier aircraft in order to get a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the carrier aircraft's modifications.
April 30
Globalstar LP has decided to revise its launch plan for the deployment of its low Earth orbit constellation. A Soyuz-Ikar launch contracted from Starsem is postponed from May to September whilst a Delta launch provided by Boeing Expendable Launch Systems is moved from early November to mid-July. Globalstar's new schedule, described below, no longer includes an Ariane 4 launch, tentatively planned in September, which will be used by Space Systems/Loral to loft another satellite.

Date Vehicle Provider Constellation
June Delta 2/7420 Boeing 24
July Delta 2/7420 Boeing 28
July Delta 2/7420 Boeing 32*
August Delta 2/7420 Boeing 36
September Soyuz-Ikar Starsem 40
October Soyuz-Ikar Starsem 44
November Soyuz-Ikar Starsem 48**
December Delta 2/7420 Boeing 52

(*) Minimum for initial operations. (**) Nominal constellation.

April 30
The U.S. Navy has successfully completed two test flights of its Trident 2-D5 sea-launched ballistic missile off the coasts of Florida. These were the 84th and 85th consecutive successful tests of the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Trident 2-D5.
April 29
Snecma's Rocket Motor Division (former SEP), DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, FiatAvio, Volvo Aero and TechSpace Aero unveil their new integrated team center in Vernon, Normandy, which will be in charge of developing the 155-kN Vesco restartable cryogenic engine for Ariane 5's new ESC-B upper stage.
April 29
NASA unveils the new US$200-million "glass cockpit" developed to upgrade its fleet of space shuttle orbiters and recently mounted on Atlantis.
April 29
The United States and South Korea have agreed to sign a MoU lifting all existing restrictions on the development of commercial rockets in South Korea.
April 29
The Lockheed Martin Astronautics Anomaly Investigation Team determines that on the Athena 2 (LM-005) vehicle launched on April 27, the 518-kg payload fairing failed to separate and prevented the upper stage, the Primex-built Orbital Adjust Module (OAM) to reach orbital velocity.
April 28
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center issues a Request for Quotation for a Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) cryogenic thrust chamber demonstration unit.
April 28
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center completes negotiations with Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems for a US$625.6-million contract to purchase materials needed to build 60 space shuttle External Tanks (ETs). This is the last of three procurements which will allow Lockheed Martin Michoud to proceed with a sixth production batch of ETs, the first to comprise only Super Lightweight Tanks (SLTs). The current fifth production batch will be completed in August 2001 with the delivery of the 119th ET.
April 28
Waiting for the results of an investigation on the April 9 failure of a Boeing Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), NASA has decided not to mate its US$1.5-billion Chandra X-ray Observatory to its own IUS, thus delaying the launch of the STS-93 shuttle mission previously due on July 9.
April 28
AKO Polyot's Kosmos 3M launcher makes a successful entry in the world of commercial launch systems by lofting DLR's Abrixas astronomy satellite. The launch was provided by Cosmos International GmbH, a subsidiary of OHB-System which manufactured the Abrixas spacecraft.
April 28
The European Commission gives its green light for the merger of Aerospatiale, parent company of Aerospatiale Lanceurs Stratégiques & Spatiaux (L2S), and Matra Hautes Technologies, parent company of Matra Marconi Space (MMS).
April 27
Telemetry contact with a Lockheed Martin Astronautics Athena 2 (LM-005) vehicle, carrying Space Imaging's Ikonos 1 high-esolution remote sensing satellite, was lost 8 minutes into flight and could not be restored though downrange ground stations. Status of the payload is now unknown. An investigation is underway.
April 27
Alliant TechSystems delivers the first of the X-33 hypersonic demonstrator's two composite liquid hydrogen tanks to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Built by Alliant in Clearfield, Utah, and bonded by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space in Sunnyvale, Calif., the 2,000-kg tank will undergo pressure and load tests before being shipped to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works' facility, in Palmdale, Calif., for integration in the X-33. The second tank is scheduled for delivery during the third quarter.
April 26
Kistler Aerospace may raise some US$50-million from Taiwan to develop its K-1 two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle, in exchange for some technology transfer. Kistler still needs to find an additional US$200 million to complete its project.
 

 For additional information regarding launch vehicles, payloads and space industry, refer to
 THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE INDUSTRY REPORT
 A biweekly newsletter jointly published by
 Launchspace Publications and Takyon International.

April 24
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center test fires the second model of its Fastrac engine during 12 seconds.
April 23
The fourth attempt to launch Boeing's second Delta 3 vehicle was aborted when the onboard computer failed to send an ignition command to the first stage's engine. No date has been set for next attempt.

  Photo Gallery: Deltas On Pads (An Insurer's Nightmare)

 

 

 

 

 


On this picture taken April 12 from Lighthouse Rd. in Cape Canaveral Air Station, two Boeing Delta launchers can be seen sitting on their pad, awaiting launch. On the left is SLC-17B with the second Delta 3 carrying the Orion 3 communication satellite. On the right is SLC-17A with a Delta 2/7925 due to loft a Navstar 2R global positioning satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The distance between the two pads is about 150 m. The US$35 million Delta 2 will thus be in the "danger zone" when the second Delta 3 (still unproven) eventually lifts off (see latest schedule). In January 1997, a Delta 2 lifting off from SLC-17A blew up 485 m in the air, showering the launch complex with burning solid propellant and flaming debris. Fortunately, no launcher was on SLC-17B at the time. Photo © Takyon International.

 

April 22
Arianespace announces that the first commercial flight of its new Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher is postponed from mid June to early July due to delays in the delivery of its payload.
(Monitor the Ariane 504 launch campaign)
April 22
The X-34 reusable hypersonic demonstrator will be rolled out at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on April 30. The 18-m long test vehicle, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. will later be mounted beneath the "Stargazer" carrier aircraft, a modified Lockheed L-1011 TriStar used as an air-launch platform for Orbital's Pegasus rockets, for a series of captive flights. Unpowered drop tests are planned in August or September, and rocket-powered flights are scheduled for January or February 2000.
April 22
ZAO Puskoviye Uslugi, the Russian space launch venture held by RKA and NITs Kompleks, has been awarded a US$24-million launch contract by West Indian Space Ltd. to loft three high-resolution Earth Remote Observation Satellites (EROS) atop Start 1 vehicles departing from the Svobodniy cosmodrome, in Amur oblast, Eastern Siberia. The first launch is planned in December. Cayman Islands-based West Indian Space Ltd. is a joint venture of Core Software Technology, Electro Optics Industries Ltd. (El-Op) and Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd (IAI). Five more EROS satellites are planned for launch through 2003.
April 22
Virgin may contribute US$120 million to Rotary Rocket Co.'s Roton project of commercial single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle according to British The Times newspaper. Virgin is considering the possibility of marketing space tourism flights using the Roton system.
April 21
DaimlerChrysler Aerospace selects Kaiser Marquardt's R-4D bipropellant thruster to power European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). Each ATV will feature four 490-N R-4D thruster for orbital maneuvers, rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) and ISS reboost firings.
April 21
United Start Corp. has been awarded a contract by EarthWatch Inc. for the launch of its 980-kg QuickBird 1 commercial remote sensing satellite atop a Kosmos 3M vehicle from Plestsk in December 1999. United Start is a joint-venture of Arizona-based Assured Space Access Inc. and ZAO Puskoviye Uslugi, the Russian space launch venture held by RKA and NITs Kompleks. This contract had already been announced in 1996 by United Start Corp.'s predecessor, Cosmos USA Inc., which was a joint-venture of Assured Space Access Inc. and AKO Polyot, the manufacturer of Kosmos launchers.
April 21
NASA's Kennedy Space Center has modified an existing contract with Lockheed Martin Astronautics to allow the launch of the 433-kg Vegetation Canopy Lidar (VCL) spacecraft atop an Athena 1 vehicle departing from Alaska's new commercial spaceport, in Kodiak Island, in August 2000. The original contract had been signed for the launch of the Clark experimental remote sensing satellite but this program was terminated in early 1998.
April 21
Thiokol Propulsion announces that it has been selected by Kosmotras to market the Dnepr family of launchers outside Russia and Ukraine. Dnepr launchers are based on deactivated RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles developed by Ukraine's NPO Yuzhnoe. Following the first orbital launch of the Dnepr on April 21, over 150 RS-20 missiles are available for refurbishment through 2007 in compliance with the START-2 disarmament treaty.
April 21
The Indian Space Research Organisation has decided to delay the maiden flight of its new Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) from late 1999 to early 2000.
April 19
NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) cancels its plan to contract with Saddleback Aerospace for a preliminary design of actively-cooled engine cowl leading edges for the Hyper-X hypersonic flight vehicles. The current leading edge cooling method is considered "acceptable".
April 19
Arianespace board, meeting on April 20, is expected to review new proposals to expand its family of launchers. According to Martin Ransom's Go-Ariane, citing AW&ST Daily, these include a non-cryogenic Ariane 4 Lite vehicle derived from the current Ariane 44P to loft single payloads to geostationary transfer or Sun-synchronous orbits, the launch of Starsem's Soyuz 2 vehicles from Kourou, a vehicle based on Ariane 4's first stage and the second stage of Japan's H-2A.
 

 For up-to-date information regarding launch vehicles, payloads and space industry, refer to
 ISIR NEWSLINE
 An on-line news service provided by
 Launchspace Publications and Takyon International.

April 16
The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) is developing an improved version of the CZ-4 vehicle with 8 solid strap-on boosters. According to Theo Pirard of Space Information Center, reporting in Air&Cosmos, this CZ-4 (8S) launcher would be able to loft 2,670 kg to geostationary transfer orbit and 7,800 kg to low Earth orbit. First flight is scheduled in 2001.
April 16
NASA's Kennedy Space Center releases a draft request for proposal regarding future NASA Launch Services (NLS). Comments on this draft RfP are due by May 10. The release of the final RfP is planned on June 4.
April 15
Arianespace is awarded a dual launch contract by Orbital Sciences Corp. (OSC) to loft the B-Sat 2a and 2b direct broadcasting satellites on behalf of Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corp. atop Ariane 4 or 5 vehicles in October 2000 and June 2001. These are the 198th and 199th launch contracts signed by Arianespace since its incorporation in 1980.
April 15
Pakistani military forces testfly the Shaheen short range ballistic missile from the Sonmiani naval base. The missile has a reported range of 750 km.
April 14
Florida's Commerce & Economic Development Committee votes a series of bills to support spaceport activities. The adopted measures include tax incentives for spaceport facilities and tax exemptions for spaceport activities as well as the creation of a Florida Commercial Space Financing Corporation with a US$5-million loan capacity to support funding for customers of commercial launch systems in Florida.
April 14
Eurockot Launch Services GmbH completes a US$4-million equity investment in DBS Industries Inc. (DBSI), as part of the launch service agreement announced April 1st regarding the deployment of the E-Sat constellation of messaging smallsats.
April 14
Singapore-based Asia Pacific Mobile Telecommunications (APMT) terminates a US$450-million contract with Hughes Space Communications for the in-orbit delivery of the APMT-1 geostationary mobile communications satellite and procurement of a ground-based spare. Hughes failed to secure the necessary export license to ship the APMT-1 spacecraft to China for a launch atop a CZ-3B vehicle in 2000. Hughes currently has five launches booked on CZ-3B vehicles and one on a CZ-3.
April 14
In response to India's Agni 2 test flight, Pakistani military forces launch the Ghauri 2 intermediate range ballistic missile from the Tilla Firing Range in Malute, Jhellum District. The new missile, an improved version of the Ghauri flown in April 1998, has a reported range capability of 2,000 km (2,300 km with a reduced payload). However, due to safety constraints, the missile's test flight has been limited to 1,150 km.
April 13
Arianespace's launch manifest is disrupted again by delays in the deliveries of satellites. Next Ariane 4 mission, due on April 28, has been delayed to May 19 at the earliest after traces of silicon adhesive have been found on the solar arrays of its payload, New Skies Satellites' K-TV1 direct broadcasting satellite. The following mission, the first commercial flight of Ariane 5, has now slipped to July due to delays in the delivery of the WorldSpace's AsiaStar direct audio broadcasting satellite which will share the payload fairing with PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia's Telkom 1. The Eutelsat W4 satellite, which is still planned to be ground-delivered to Eutelsat in May, was considered for this flight. However, it will be launched later on the third quarter on a standard Ariane 4.
April 13
NASA announces that the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) atop a Boeing IUS from the space shuttle orbiter Columbia's cargo bay, due on July 9, will be delayed until full completion of the investigation on the failure of an IUS after launch by a Titan 4B vehicle on April 9.
April 12
The European Space Agency (ESA) unveils its funding proposals for optional programs to be discussed by its Ministerial Council meeting in Brussels on May 11/12.
The proposals include several space transportation-related programs:

Programs

Budgets

Ariane 5 Plus (Step 2, till end 2001) 462 Mo Euro US$500 Mo
Vega (Step 2, till end 2002) 317 Mo Euro US$340 Mo
Ariane 5 ARTA (2001-2002) 161 Mo Euro US$170 Mo
Ariane 5 Infrastructure (2001) 26 Mo Euro US$28 Mo
Future Launcher Technology Program (till end 2001) 70 Mo Euro US$75 Mo
CSG Kourou (2001) 87 Mo Euro US$95 Mo

 

 For additional information regarding launch vehicles, payloads and space industry, refer to
 THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE INDUSTRY REPORT
 A biweekly newsletter jointly published by
 Launchspace Publications and Takyon International.

April 11
Indian press report suggest that a contract is being negotiated with Arianespace to loft the Insat 3A satellite atop an Ariane vehicle in the first quarter of 2000.
April 11
As previously announced, India's Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) conducts the first test flight of its Agni 2 improved intermediate range ballistic missile at from the Balasore rocket range on Wheeler Island, Orissa. The new missile is a military derivative of the SLV series of civilian satellite launchers. It is reportedly able to deliver a 1,000-kg nuclear weapon to 2,000-km or a 500-kg warhead to Beijing or Shanghai. The Agni 2 uses a solid propellant second stage replacing the liquid propellant Prithvi short range missile used as upper stage of the Agni 1.
April 10
South Korea's Agency for Defense Development test flies its NHK-4 Hyonmu short-range ballistic-missile (SRBM) from Kohwa island. The test was limited to a 40-km range but, depending on sources, the Hyonmu has a range capability of 180 to 296 km.
April 10
The back-up liquid oxygen tank for the X-33 hypersonic demonstrator is being prepared in NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to undergo a series of stress tests. The aluminium test article, similar to the actual flight model, will be applied internal and external loads to simulate pre-liftoff, liftof, ascent, return and landing.
April 10
The U.S. Air Force announces that the DSP-19 early warning satellite, launched by a Titan 4B vehicle on April 9, is stranded in transfer orbit. The Lockheed Martin Astronautics Titan 4B vehicle, which was returning to flight after the dramatic failure of the last Titan 4A vehicle on August 12, 1998, apparently performed correctly, as well as the perigee motor of the Boeing Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). It is not known yet if the IUS apogee motor, which was due to ignite some 6 hours 33 minutes into flight, eventually fired. Both IUS motors are provided by United Technologies Chemical Systems Division (CSD). This was the first flight of an IUS featuring an improved flight controler as part of an updated avionics.
April 9
Components of Energiya heavy-lift launch vehicles are auctioned in Samara, Russia. The components, which include two 50-m high and 8-m diameter core stage structures, reportedly contain 1,630 t of steel, 220 t of aluminium and almost 9 t of titanium. Starting price was Rbl 1.318 million (U$52,500).
April 8
Kistler Aerospace is trying to raise part of the US$145 million it needs to begin test flights of its K-1 reusable launch vehicle from Taiwanese and Hong-Kong interests. According to South China Morning Post, reported by Dragon in Space, Kistler needs US$45 million to complete the first of two launch towers in Woomera, Australia, and US$100 million to complete the assembly of its first two K-1 vehicles. The first launcher is 80% complete and the second 20%. A maiden test flight is tentatively planned for early 2000.
April 7
NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) plans to contract with Saddleback Aerospace for a preliminary design of actively-cooled engine cowl leading edges for hypersonic flight vehicles. A formal Request for Quotation (RfQ) will be issued later this month.
April 7
Representatives of U.S. Air Force Space Command, NASA and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) meet to discuss cooperation on the X-37 reusable orbital vehicle and the development of secondary payload adapters for the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 vehicles.
April 7
Italy's FiatAvio and France's Aerospatiale Lanceurs Stratégiques & Spatiaux (L2S) plan to incorporate a joint venture before the end of April. Tentatively dubbed "Vega Spazio", the new company will act as prime contractor for European Space Agency's Vega small launch vehicle.
April 4
New U.S. government federal reviews are delaying the export of the Chinasat 8 satellite to China for launch atop a CZ-3B vehicle. Space Systems/Loral, which built the satellite, may have to pay a US$174-million refund yto its customer.
 

 For up-to-date information regarding launch vehicles, payloads and space industry, refer to
 ISIR NEWSLINE
 An on-line news service provided by
 Launchspace Publications and Takyon International.

April 2
Snecma's Rocket Motor Division (former SEP) rolls out the first Vulcain 2 engine in its Vernon plant. This improved Vulcain engine (serial number M201) will be shipped to DLR's test site in Lampoldshausen on April 30 for static firing tests on the P5 stand. The Vulcain 2 is delivered ahead of the 1996 schedule which had planned the test campaign to begin on June 15, 1999. The 1,350-kN Vulcain 2 is intended to power the core stage of the Ariane 5E, the improved Ariane 5 vehicle due for maiden flight in 2002.
April 2
Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) interrupts again the qualification test campaign of the LE-7A cryogenic engine after a 5th static firing, lasting 350 sec., on March 30. As after the 4th test, a defect was reported in the engine's pre-burner injector. The qualification engine will be shipped back to the factory for further inspection. The 6th firing test, due on April 8, is postponed indefinitely. The LE-7A will power the core stage of the H-2A launch vehicle.
April 1st
Russia's Northern Fleet test flies an unidentified sea-launched ballistic missile, presumably a RSM-50 Volna, from a Delta 3 class nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea. The missile's warhead reportedly reached its target in Kamchatka.
April 1st
Boeing Phantom Works and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) complete the Interim Design Review (IDR) for the The Solar Orbit Transfer Vehicle Space Experiment (SOTVSE) which is intended to demonstrate solar thermal propulsion in space.
April 1st
DBS Industries confirms and complements a contract signed in June 1997 with Eurockot Launch Services GmbH for the launch of six E-Sat messaging satellites by clusters of three atop two Rokot vehicles. First launch is due in the first quarter of 2001.
April 1st
India's Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) plans to conduct the first test flight of its Agni 2 ballistic missile on April 7 or 8, from the Balasore rocket range. The Agni 2 is a 1,800-km range military derivative of the SLV series of civilian satellite launchers.

 For additional information regarding launch vehicles, payloads and space industry, refer to
 THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE INDUSTRY REPORT
 A biweekly newsletter jointly published by
 Launchspace Publications and Takyon International.

 

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