News of

July 1999

This page is partly a draft and lacks several external hyperlinks
July 30
The failure of the Proton K vehicle on July 5 was caused by a particle of aluminium entering the turbopump of the second stage's engine number three. According to Anatoli Kiselev, director general of GKNPTs Khrunichev, talking to Russian newspaper Izvestia, "the fire was started by a stray of aluminium particle in a seam between the cover and the apparatus as a result of a defect in a weld." A particle weighing less than 0.2 grams could have caused the failure. Nevertheless, Khrunichev expects to resume launches in late August and to loft four commercial payloads on behalf of International Launch Services (ILS) before the end of the year.
July 27
Japan's Sankei newspaper, quoting unnamed Japanese and U.S. sources, reports that North Korea is improving and expanding facilitiues at its ballistic missile launch site. New facilities include propellant storage and fuelling stations.
July 26
The U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science introduces the H.R. 2607 bill, to be discussed as the 'Commercial Space Transportation Competitiveness Act of 1999' which proposes to give a 10-year extension third-party liability regimes for commercial space transportation activities in the United States which were due to expire at the end of this year. The current regime provides a US$1.5-billion coverage beyond limits of launch providers' own insurance coverage.
July 26
The Russian Government agrees to pay US$287,000 to Kazakhstan in compensation for damage caused by the crash of the upper stages and payload of a Proton K vehicle on July 5.
July 22
NASA issues preliuminary requirements for a Crew/Cargo Transfer Vehicle (CCTV) as part of Phase 3 of the NASA Space Transportation Architecture Studies. The CCTV would be a space vehicle to carry humans and/or cargo between Earth and orbit as a low-cost early complement por replacement to the Space Shuttle. The requirements include the capability to transport four crew to the International Space Station, four times a year, but also crews and goods to higher orbits to service future Lunar or Mars vehicles or even facilities at L1 or L2 Lagrangian points. Availability is due no later than 2010.
July 20
In addition to compensation for the crash of a Proton K vehicle on its territory and payment of arrears for the rent of the Baykonur Cosmodrome by Russia, the government of Kazakhstan asks for an interesment in the launch contracts involving vehicles departing from Baykonur.
July 20
Arianespace announces its plan to order 20 Ariane 5 vehicles from European space industry. This order will be composed of two batches of 10 vehicles with plans to later extend the procurement to 50 vehicles. Delivery of these new launchers is due from late 2001 to 2004 at a rate of 8 to 10 per year. Firm production contracts will be announced shortly. These new launchers will be of the new Ariane 5 Plus series which integrates upgrades from the Arianespace-sponsored Perfo 2000 effort and the Ariane 5 Evolution program funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). These two programs have been merged with the Ariane 5 Plus program decided by ESA's ministerial council in May in order to rationalize the resources. The restructured Ariane 5 Plus program is now managed by Arianespace's Ariane Development Division.
 
As a consequence, as soon as late 2001, Ariane 5 vehicles will be available with the new ESC-A cryogenic upper stage to loft up to 10,000 kg of payload in dual launch to the geostationary transfer orbit. A restartable EPS-V bipropellant upper stage will be also available for deployment in low- and medium-Earth orbits.
 
Arianespace has already ordered 14 Ariane 5 vehicles in June 1995, 13 of which are still to be launched.
July 20
Launch of NASA's space shuttle Columbia is aborted 7 sec. before lift off from Kennedy Space Center's LC-39B after an excessive concentration of gaseous hydrogen was reported in the orbiter's aft compartment. Manual cutoff was ordered half a second before ignition of Boeing Rocketdyne SSME engines. NASA reports that the launch call off was actually triggered by a faulty sensor which recorded a 640 ppm concentration while the actual level was about 114 ppm, i.e. well below allowable limits. A new launch attempt has been set for July 22. This 48-hour scrub is dictated by the need to replace external igniters which are used to burn the gaseous hydrogen vented on the pad during engine chill down and start up to prevent any explosion at actual ignition.
July 20
The U.S. House of Representatives has included a US$3-million grant to California's Spaceport Authority in the current defense appropriation bill. The grant will support the building of a universal launch complex for the California commercial spaceport located within Vandenberg AFB.
July 19
Aviation Week & Space Technology reports that Space Systems/Loral is planning to pull its Telstar 7 satellite from the maiden flight of Lockheed Martin Astronautics' new Atlas 3A vehicle, now due in September, in order to launch it on an Ariane vehicle. Space Systems/Loral currently holds three firm contracts with Arianespace including two which are not assigned to any identified payload. All Atlas launches are currently delayed until completion of the investigation on the failure of a Pratt&Whitney RL10B-2 cryogenic engine on Boeing's second Delta 3 vehicle on May 5. The Atlas 3A features a single RL10A-4 engine on its Cen,taur upper stage.
July 19
NASA's Glenn Research Center has awarded a US$341,403 contract to Boeing Rocketdyne to develop a Hall effect plasma thruster.
 

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

July 16
The failure of a Pratt&Whitney RL10B-2 cryogenic engine on the second flight of Boeing's Delta 3 launch vehicle on May 5 may have been caused by a change in the manufacturing process of the RL10 series of engines. According to a NASA statement, the manufacturing process for a reinforcing structure of the engine's thrust chamber was recently modified. The RL10A-4 engines to be flown on Atlas vehicles have been checked in search for a similar problem. The engines due to power the Centaur stage of the Atlas AC-137 vehicle might have been affected by the change of manufacturing process too. AC-137 was planned for launch in May to loft the GOES-L geostationary meteorological on behalf of NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. The launch has recently been delayed to October at the earliest for celestial mechanics reasons. The Centaur upper stage has been unstacked from the vehicle to allow inspection of its two RL10 engines.
July 16
NASA's Glenn Research Center has awarded a US$499,266 contract to Unison Industries, of Norwich, N.Y., to develop a pulsed plasma thruster.
July 16
NASA's Glenn Research Center has awarded a US$162,277 contract to Ceramic Composites Inc., of Millersville, Md., to develop carbon-carbon optics for an advanced ion propulsion system.
July 15
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) plans to contract with Thiokol Corp. to manufacture complex composite structures in support of the development of the Fastrac engine and, possibly, other space flight applications. Under this contract, Thiokol would have to provide composite components and test articles - apparently mainly Fastrac thrust chambers and nozzles - at a pace of three to four components per month, with very little lead-time and at very low cost. This contract would support MSFC's own effort to complete development and qualification of the Fastrrac engine in time for the first powered flight of the X-34 hypersonic flight demonstrator.
July 15
TRW Space & Electronics has completed 25,000 sec. of hot fire testing on the TR312 advanced bipropellant apogee engine at its Capistrano Test Site. During these tests, a flight-like prototype of the TR312 engine, which features a patented iridium-coated rhenium thrust chamber, was able to deliver 490 N of thrust with a specific impulse (Isp) of 325 sec., burning monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and nitrogen tetroxide. Qualification of the TR312 is expected in early 2000. An improved version of the engine, burning hydrazine instead of MMH, is planned to be qualified later with a demonstrated Isp of 330 seconds.
July 14
GenCorp Aerojet will provide a US$12.3-million propulsion system for the US$286-million Messenger probe to be built by John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory under NASA's Discovery program for low-cost exploration of the Solar System. Aerojet's propulsion system will consist in a set of 4- and 21-N monopropellant thrusters with a single 670-N bipropellant main engine. This propulsion system will be used to correct the spacecraft's trajectory after launch in the second quarter of 2004 to allow two flybys of Venus and two of Mercury as well as the final orbital injection around Mercury in September 2009.
July 14
The U.S. government agrees to add four launches to the quota imposed to GKNPTs Khrunichev's Proton K vehicle for commercial launches to geostationary orbit. This increase was planned in the January 1996 agreement in case the number of commercial missions to geostationary orbit between 1996 and 2000 exceeds 80. The current count of such launches since 1996 is already at 92. The previous quota would have forced International Launch Services (ILS) to stop its commercial missions to geostationary orbit using the Proton by year end. According to the Wall Street Journal, another increase is expected in 2000.
July 14
The government of Kazakhstan lifts the ban on Russian launches from Baykonur after Russia eventually agreed to pay Kazakhstan US$50 million in cash in November and US$65 million in goods next year. Lifting the ban will allow the launch of a Soyuz U vehicle, carrying a Progress M cargo spacecraft to Mir, on July 16. Progress M42 is planned to deliver equipment that will allow remote control of the Mir space station for its destructive reentry in early 2000. It will also deliver food and water for the Russian-French crew onboard. The launch, initially planned on July 14, had to occur before July 20 when Mir's orbital drift will put the station out of reach from Baykonur for about a month.
July 14
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Boeing Phantom Works have signed a US$173 million cooperative agreement to jointly develop the X-37 technology demonstrator on behalf of the Future X Pathfinder program. Under the four-year agreement, Boeing will develop the X-37 as a 120% scale derivative of the X-40A Space Maneuver Vehicle under development for the U.S. Air Force. The X-40A is due to begin drop tests from a B-52 carrier aircraft in the third quarter of 2000 and the U.S. Air Force plans to contribute US$16 million to the X-37 program as a complement to its own effort. The X-37 will be assembled and tested in 2000 and 2001. Atmospheric drop tests are scheduled in late 2001 and two orbital missions are already planned, with the first scheduled in late 2002 or early 2003. As a reusable technology testbed it will be deloyed in orbit for up to 21 days to perform experiments before autonomously reentering the atmosphere and landing. Boeing was selected for final negotiation regarding the development of the X-37 in December 1998.
July 13
First declassified information on Iran's new Kosar ballistic missile is made public during a U.S. House of Representative's Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee hearing.According to Middle East proliferation expert Kenneth Timmerman, Iran's Kosar missile was developed around the RD-216 engine developed for Soviet Union's R-14 (SS-5) intermediate range ballistic missile in the 1950s. The 1,745-kN RD-216 is currently produced by Russia's NPO EnergoMash and in use on the first stage of the Kosmos 3M launch vehicle. The Kosar is designed as a follow-on to medium-range Shahab 3 and 4 medium range ballistic missiles. The hearing was held regarding the H.R. 1883 bill which would prohibit extraordinary payments by the U.S. government to the Russian space agency, RKA, unless the Russian government policy is clearly opposed to proliferation in Iran, measures are taken by Russian authorituies to prevent missile technology transfers to Iran and no such technology transfer from RKA or any related organization has been reported for on year.
July 13
Arianespace announces its plan to resume launches in August with two Ariane 42P-3 flights. V118, on August 4, will loft PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia's Telkom 1, and V120, on August 26, will carry Korea Telecom's Koreasat 3. Both satellites are built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. The first commercial launch of Ariane 5 (V119) is delayed waiting for the delivery of its payloads. The launcher has been ready for launch since early May. Arianespace plans six Ariane launches between September and December. Actual launch dates will depend on the delivery of satellites in Kourou. Technical studies are underway to allow the launch of the following satellites on Ariane 5 in 1999 depending on their availability: WorldSpace's AsiaStar, Societe Europeenne des Satellites' Astra 2B, India's Insat 3B, Eutelsat's W4 and European Space Agency's XMM.
July 12
NASA's Langley Research Center intends to contract with the University of Florida to conduct a study on nonlinear thermal/structural optimization of reusable launch vehicle cryogenic tanks.
July 12
Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) plans to resume the qualification campaign of its LE-7A cryogenic engine with a short ground firing test July 17. A full duration test is planned July 22. The test campaign was interrupted after the 5th firing test, on March 30, after a defect was detected in the slit part of the engine's pre-burner unit. The LE-7A will power the core stage of NASDA's new H-2A launch vehicle.

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

July 9
A Russian state commission to investigate the failure of a Proton K vehicle on July 5, has been formed. It is headed by Gen. Col. Vladimir Nikitin, first deputy to the commander in chief of the Russian Strategic Forces (RVSN). An internal investigation is also conducted by GKNPTs Khrunichev which built the Proton K vehicle and the Breeze M upper stage. According to Dr. Anatoly Nedaivoda, head of the Khrunichev investigation board and deputy of Gen. Col. Nikitin in the State Commission, the failure was caused by a problem in the second stage propulsion system some 277 sec. into flight. Temperature in the combustion chamber of engine #3 increased significantly. This caused the propellant lines and fuel tank to melt, leading to propellant spill and explosion of the second stage. The third stage, the Breeze upper stage and the payload were destroyed 325 sec. into flight by aerodynamic forces.
 
Debris were spread on an area about 80 to 90 km long by 8 to 10 km wide near Karkaralinsk, Karaganda oblast, Kazakhstan. All debris were reportedly recovered.
 
Proton K's four second stage engines are built by KB KhimAvtomatiki. Three are RD-0210s and one is a RD-0211 with a gas generator. Preliminary results of the failure investigation are expected on July 20.
July 9
A subscale model of the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype completes its fourth free flight over NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards AFB, California. Vehicle 132 was released from a B-52N carrier aircraft at an altitude of 9,600 m and performed a 31-second glide before deploying its parafoil. This drop test, the second of Vehicle 132, allowed to conduct aerodynamic verification maneuvers and check improvements made to the drogue parachute. The test flight was initially due on June 24 but was postponed due to electrical problems.
July 9
Teledesic LLC signs a multiple launch contract with International Launch Services (ILS) to loft part of its 140-satellite low-Earth orbit constellation for broadband communications. The contract covers three launches on GKNPTs Khrunichev's Proton M and three on Lockheed Martin Astronautics' Atlas 5 to launch "a significant portion" of the Teledesic constellation. In addition, the contract includes five options for each vehicle. Teledesic is also evaluating launch services from other launch providers worldwide.
July 9
Following the export control issues pinpointed by the Cox Report, the U.S. Congress is looking for a US$600-million budget to support upgrades of existing U.S. Air Force launch facilities both in Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg AFB in order to improve the national launch capacity and decrease the reliance on non-U.S. launch services. However, only US$7.5 million could be awarded for short term improvements including equipment upgrades and increased workforce to support commercial launches.
July 8
U.S. Navy's Observation Island missile-tracking ship leaves Yokosuka naval base in Japan, presumably to patrol off North Korean coasts in order to monitor an expected test-flight of the Taepo Dong 2 ballistic missile. A similar ship, the Invincible, which carries a Cobra-Gemini radar system, left Sasedo naval base on July 7.
July 8
Up to 40% of the semi conductors and gas burners used in North Korea's Taepo Dong missiles were imported from Japan according to an investigation led by two Japanese legislators who interviewed North Korean defectors. The two lawmakers, Ichita Yamamoto and Keiichiri Asao, consider that Japan must adopt stronger export control rules.
July 8
The launch of a Ukrainian Zenit 2 vehicle, carrying the Okean O-N1 observation satellite, is postponed due to the ban on launches from Baykonur imposed by the government of Kazakhstan.
July 8
Kazakh authorities are reportedly checking water supply and soil in the area of the Proton vehicle crash, on July 5, for traces of contamination by toxic propellant. According to the Kazakh Space Agency, up to 300 sq.km could have been contaminated and might have to be evacuated. The government of Kazakhstan is putting pressure on its Russian counterpart for payment of its more than US$300 million of arrears regarding the rental of the Baykonur facilities on Kazakh territory.
July 7
Sea Launch selects Prescient Technologies to provide its DesignQA software as its engineering design quality assurance system.
July 7
In an interview to be published July 12, NASA's administrator, Dan Goldin, considers that the U.S. government should provide more support to private industry for the development of reusable launch vehicles.
July 7
NASA's Langley Research Center plans to contract with the University of Dayton for a 3-year study on operations modeling and analysis for space transportation launch concepts.
July 6
The government of Kazakhstan requests a ban on all Russian launches from Baykonur until the failure investigation on the July 5 Proton failure is completed. The ban mainly affects the launch of a Zenit 2 vehicle due July 8 and that of a Soyuz U expected to loft a Progress cargo spacecraft to the Mir space station on July 14.
July 6
The first XRS-2200 aerospike engine is rolled out at Boeing Rocketdyne facilities in Canoga Park, California. The engine, designed to power the the X-33 advanced technology demonstrator, will be shipped to NASA's Stennis Space Center, in Bay St.Louis, Miss., for ground testing du to begin in August. A 250-sec. test firing is planned in September. Three more engines are being built: two flight models for the X-33 and one for back up.
July 6
SpaceDev and Lockheed Martin Astronautics have signed a cooperative agreement to investigate development and marketing of low-cost space access for small payloads. Under the agreement, the two companies plan to stack two or more SpaceDev MiniSIL spacecraft onto a Lockheed Martin Athena vehicle, thereby filling the payload fairing with SpaceDev's standardized spacecraft buses. SpaceDev will then sell "tickets" for small demonstration payloads to ride-share on these spacecraft. Such piggyback payloads could account for 10% to 30% of revenue from the Athena launch services. SpaceDev is offering complete, fixed price packages for payload rides at about US$4 million, or an entire spacecraft with customer payloads for approximately US$17 million.
July 5
North Korea claims that flight testing its Taepo Dong 2 ballistic missile is a "sovereign right" and criticized the U.S. administration for suggesting that a test launch would threaten ongoing talks with the North Korean government.
July 5
A three-stage Proton K vehicle fails shortly after liftoff from Baykonur, Kazakhstan. The Russian rocket, manufactured by GKNPTs Khrunichev, was carrying a payload composed of the first Khrunichev-built Breeze M maneuverable upper stage and a Gran (Raduga) military communication satellite built by NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki. This mission was to test the Breeze M stage - which is due to replace the RKK Energiya-built Block DM-2 as upper stage of Khrunichev's Proton launchers - by boosting the Gran satellite from low-Earth orbit to geostationary orbit. The Gran satellite was insured for about US$15 million.
 
According to Russian sources, telemetry from the vehicle was first lost for one second some 280 seconds into flight during the second-stage burn. The rocket was seen deviating from its nominal trajectory about 50 seconds later. Telemetry signal was eventually lost some 390 seconds into flight during the third-stage burn although it is not clear whether the second and third stages actually separated. The rocket was then 14 km below its targeted trajectory. The vehicle's wreckage was tracked by ground systems until it fell in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, some 1,000 km downrange. A 200-kg debris was said to have crashed in a courtyard but no injuries or casualties were reported.
 
A state commission is being formed to investigate the failure. Proton vehicles will be grounded until the cause of the mishap is identified and corrected. A launch due July 30 to loft Eutelsat's Russian-built Sesat communication satellite has been delayed indefinitely. The launch of RKA's Zvezda service module to the International Space Station, tentatively due in November, might also be affected.
July 5
North Korea is ready to test fly a missile says Song Il Ho, head of North Korean foreign ministry's section for Japan affairs. Although ot mentionned by Mr. Song, the missile is presumably the new Taepo Dong 2 ballistic missile.
July 5
A French startup company, PolySpace Technologies of Montbonnot, is about to begin marketing a computer program, IABC, designed to analyze mission-critical software, such as flight software on satellite launch vehicles, to detect and pinpoint glitches. Developed on behalf of France's National Research Institute on Computer Science and Automatism (INRIA), the IABC program was first tested to check the Ariane 502 flight software in 1997. The program is currently operating on several satellite programs and is used to check Ariane 504's flight software.
 

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

July 4
Agence France Presse reports that Indian authorities seized a North Korean cargo ship carrying components for missile production to Pakistan. The Ku Wol San, owned by North Korea's Puhung Trading Co. was inspected while offloading sugar in the port of Kandla, Gujarat. Indian experts reportdely found heavy-duty presses, lathe machines for flattening and milling high-grade steel sheets, a plate bending machine for the manufacture of engine casings, toroidal air bottles for missile warhead guidance, two set of theodolites, three electronic weighing machines, a digital micron soldering machine, 1.5-mm forged steel bars and a water refining and filtration machinery to purify water for washing missile casings. According to Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times, this equipment was being shipped to a missile factory in Fatehjung, Pakistan.
July 2nd
Germany's MAN Technologie and France's Cryospace are incorporating a joint-venture, EuroCryospace, to develop cryogenic tanks for Ariane 5's new ESC cryogenic upper stages. Cryospace is a joint-venture of Aerospatiale Matra Lanceurs and Air Liquide which provides cryogenic tank assemblies for Ariane 5's EPC core cryogenic stage.
July 2nd
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center selects 13 proposals of innovative technologies for reusable launch vehicles which could be developed and demonstrated under a series of contracts and cooperative agreements worth a total of US$16 million.
 
Selected proposers are:

Company Technology Value
Aerojet Corp. Monolithic catalyst bed US$150,000*
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems Composite panel technologies US$1.2 million
Boeing Rocketdyne Turbopump development and
advanced ignition peroxide technology
US$4 million**
FMC Corp. Safe production and storage of peroxide US$70,000*
Lockheed Martin Astronautics Autonomous flight safety and
peroxide upper stage hybrid technologies
US$4.7 million*
Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems Composite liquid oxygen tanks for X-34 US$2.5 million**
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Validation of aluminium matrix composite housings US$800,000*
Orbital Sciences Corp. Hydrogen peroxide enrichment unit US$800,000*
Southern Research Institute Ultrasonic spectroscopy of bonded structures US$100,000
Space America Inc. Regenerative cooling of Fastrac rocket engine thrust chamber US$900,000*
Techland Research Inc. Advanced inlet design technologies US$70,000*
TRW Space & Electronics Group Advanced catalyst beds US$400,000*

(*) Contract, (**) Cooperative agreement.

July 1st
NASA's Johnson Space Center awards a US$12.6-million contract to Moog Inc. for the procurement of electromechanical actuators for the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype.
July 1st
China is preparing to test fly a DF-31 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. According to the Washington Times, preparation for the test flight was spotted near Wuzhai, Central China, by spy satellites operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. A DF-31 test flight was expected in December 1998 but was apparently cancelled.
July 1st
Boeing Rocketdyne recently broke a world record in space propulsion when it test-fired its new RS-68 cryogenic rocket engine at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's Test Stand 1-A in Edwards AFB, California. During its first 100% power level static firing test, the RS-68 engine delivered some 2,900 kN of thrust, the highest thrust ever provided by a cryogenic engine. The RS-68 is planned to power the core booster stage of Boeing's Delta 4 family of launch vehicles.
July 1st
NASA's Langley Research Center plans to contract with Saddleback Aerospace to procure three high temperature ceramic leading edge test specimens for coating evaluation tests as part of the X-43/Hyper-X program. Ceramic leading edges will be used on the X-43 flights at speeds of up to Mach 7.
 

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