News of

August 1999

This page is a draft and lacks several external hyperlinks
August 31
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems confirms the previously announced development of the Delta 2 Heavy launch vehicle for the launch of NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) in late 2001. The Delta 2H is based on a core Delta 2 vehicle with Alliant Techsystems GEM-46 strap-on boosters from the Delta 3. With a payload capacity of 2,065 kg to geostationary transfer orbit, this version will help fill the gap between the current Delta 2 and the Delta 3 before the introduction of the Delta 4. SIRTF is currently its sole manifested payload. NASA reportedly pays for the Delta 2H development.
August 30
Lockheed Martin Astronautics' Atlas family of launchers is cleared for flight resumption. The Atlas fleet has been grounded for four months following the launch failure of Boeing's second Delta 3 on May 5. That failure was related to a new manufacturing process on the thrust chamber of the Pratt&Whitney RL10B-2 engine which powers the Delta 3's second stage and is quite similar to the RL10A-4 engines which are powering the Centaur upper stages on the Atlas vehicles. RL10A-4 engines due to fly on Atlas launchers are undergoing X-ray and ultrasound checks. Atlas missions will resume on September 10 with the launch of an Atlas 2AS carrying the Echostar 5 direct broadcasting satellite, followed by an Atlas 2A on September 30 to loft US Navy's UFO-10 military communication satellite, and the first launch ever of an Atlas Centaur from Vandenberg AFB, with an Atlas 2AS carrying NASA's Terra Earth observation spacecraft sometime in October.
August 30
Arianespace announces that its next Ariane 4 launch, due September 1st, is postponed to September 3rd on customer's request to allow further checks on the payload, the Koreasat 3 satellite built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems.
August 27
ICO Global Communications files for bankruptcy after failing to raise an additional US$600 million to complete its initial funding. ICO had awarded a US$1-billion contract to Hughes Space & Communications for the procurement of launch services for the deployment of its 12-satellite constellation. Hughes subcontracted these launches to International Launch Services (ILS) for two Atlas 2AS and four Proton K/DM3 launches, Boeing Expendable Launch Systems for five Delta 3 launches, and Sea Launch for one Zenit 3SL launch.
August 27
NASA is finalizing plans for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding powered test flights of the X-34 hypersonic flight demonstrator from Edwards AFB, California, due to begin in early 2000. NASA currently considers flying the X-34 from various sites in California (with overflights of Nevada and Utah), New Mexico and Florida (with possible contingency landing sites in North and South Carolina).
August 27
The first truely commercial launch of Sea Launch's Zenit 3SL is on hold due to technology transfer licensing issues. Both the vehicle and its payload, the DirecTV-1R direct broadcasting satellite built by Hughes Space & Communications, are ready but the launch has to be delayed unless a firm insurance coverage can be set up. Non-U.S. underwriters willing to provide coverage for this mission have been denied access to all technical and even industrial information regarding the satellite unless proper export licenses are issued.
August 27
NASA selects 103 research proposals for innovative technologies under the second phase of the 1998 edition of its Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). Following feasivbility studies conducted under SBIR'98's Phase 1, projects selected under this Phase 2 will be awarded a total of US$62 million to proceed with development studies through 2001.
 
Space-transportation related proposals are:

Company Technology
Space Transportation
Advanced Ceramics Research ZrC/Cf composites for low-cost, lightweight engine components
Engineering Sciences, Inc. Integrated tool for launch vehicle base-heating analysis
Hyper-Therm High-Temperature Composites Thick-section, lightweight CVI silicon carbide matrix composite components via reactive joining
Ion Optics, Inc. Electrodynamic tethers thermal control through surface texturing
Kestrel Corp. Ultraspectral imaging for propulsion system health monitoring
NPL Associates Fusion power unit for space applications
Omni Technologies, Inc. Very high speed video and data transmission techniques
Visual Computing Systems Corp. SEMA-based motor for electric auxiliary power unit
Experimental Flight Research
Orbital Technologies Corp. Vortex combustion ramjet (VCRJ)
Tao of Systems Integration, Inc. Real time shock location sensor
Explore and Settle the Solar System
Applied Research Associates Inc. Advanced CNC manufacturing of composite thermal protection systems for Earth or planetary aerocapture and entry
Achieve Routine Space Travel
Lynntech, Inc. Environmentally safe disposal of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide wastes
Makel Engineering, Inc. Miniature smart sensor module for simultaneous hydrogen, oxygen, pressure, and temperature measurement for launch applications
Optimal Engineering Solutions Expert system for analysis and optimization of products and processes
Power, Propulsion and Thermal Technology
Busek Co. Inc. Colloid thrusters for micro and nanosatellites
Materials, Structures, and Environmental Effects
J.V. Poplawski & Assoc. Advanced analysis package for high speed multi- bearing/shaft systems
Design Tools, Systems Analysis, and Simulation
Spectrum Astro, Inc. Optimal orbit transfer analysis for advanced space systems
Spacecraft Miniaturization Technologies
Energy Science Laboratories, Inc. Composite ion thruster

August 26
Kazakh officials report that 99 additional pieces of the Proton K vehicle that failed on July 5 were found in Northern Kazakhstan. These new debris included parts of toxic propellant tanks. The government of Kazakhstan may decide to increase the amount of the damage to be paid by Russia which was previously estimated worth US$288,000 as 40 large and 100 small pieces of wreck had been found.
August 25
Following the release of a report on the X-33 advanced technology demonstrator program by the U.S. General Accounting Office, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, head of U.S. House's Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee blames NASA underfunding by the U.S. administration as the cause of the program's failure to meet schedule and objectives.
(Download the GAO report in PDF format)
August 24
The launch of a Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas 2A vehicle carrying US Air Force's DSCS-3-B8 military communication satellite is postponed from late October to January or February 2000 after wiring defects were pinpointed in other DSCS-3 satellites being manufactured by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. The satellite has been brought back to the factory for inspection.
August 13
Arianespace announces that there will be only one Ariane 5 launch this year, the V119 mission in December. The L504 vehicle will carry European Space Agency's X-ray Multi Mirror observatory to a highly elliptical orbit.
August 11
U.S. intelligence officials report that rocket fuel has been delivered to North Korea's launch facility, presumably in preparation for a test launch of the Taepo Dong 2 intermediate range ballistic missile. However, the missile itself has not been shipped to the launch site yet.
August 6
The Space Transportation Office of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects some 1,500 to 1,700 space launches over the next decade.
August 4
Raffaello, the second of three Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLM), to be used as a reusable logistics carrier for servicing of the International Space Station, is delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Built in Turin, Italy, by Alenia Aerospazio for the Italian Space Agency, (ASI), the 4,500-kg module was loaded into an Airbus "Beluga" carrier aircraft. First flight of Raffaello is planned in July 2000 onboard Space Shuttle Endeavour for the STS-100 mission.
August 2
China successfully performs the second test flight of its new, all-solid, DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile. The 3-stage missile, with an estimated range capability of 8,000 km, was launched from the Wuzhai Missile & Space Center to a remote test area, presumably near the Lob Nor nuclear test site in Sinkiang. The DF-31, which will be launched from mobile pads, is expected to be deployed by China in 2002.
 

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