News of June 2000

Dates are those of the events (in UT) when available.
 
Commercial Launchers | Government Launchers | Small Launchers
Missile Systems | RLVs and Reentry Systems | Space Propulsion
Spaceports | Industry | Launch Market

 Commercial Launchers

June 28
Boeing announces that it was awarded a launch contract by Canada's MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) on June 23 to loft its 2,600-kg Radarsat 2 radar remote sensing satellite onto a 798-km, 98.6° Sun-synchronous orbit. Radarsat 2 is tentatively scheduled for launch atop a Delta 2/7920 vehicle from Vandenberg AFB in April 2003. MDA has just received a C$106.5-million (US$72-million) contract from the Canadian Space Agency to cover the launch procurement and additional work on the satellite.
June 27 - Erratum
Despite earlier announcements stating that the Russian Ministry of Defense had agreed to swap its Proton K launch vehicle featuring Phase 2 modifications on its RD-0210 engines with the standard Proton K launcher, booked by Rosaviakosmos to loft the Ekspress A3 civilian communication satellite on June 24, the launch was actually conducted with the originally planned unmodified vehicle. The upgraded military vehicle is slated to launch the Geyzer military data relay satellite on July 4. The Phase 2 engine modifications hacve already been flown successfully on June 6 but a second flight is mandatory before they are used on the three-stage Proton K vehicle due to loft the long-delayed Zvezda resource module to the International Space Station on July 12.
June 27
Lockheed Martin has decided to postpone the launch of NASA's TDRS-H tracking & data relay satellite atop an Atlas 2A vehicle, from June 29 to June 30, in order to conduct additional checks on the two Pratt&Whitney RL10A-4 engines due to power the launcher's Centaur upper stage. A thrust valve recently malfunctioned during a ground test firing at Pratt&Whitney's facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.
June 26
Boeing announces plans to consolidate its Delta launch vehicle production in to its facilities in Pueblo, Colorado, and Decatur, Alabama. The transition of work from Huntington Beach, California, and Pueblo will begin in the third quarter of 2000. By the second quarter of 2002 Boeing will reduce its owned and leased Huntington Beach facilities by 56,390 sq.m. About 300 production jobs will be eliminated in manufacturing and up to 300 positions will be eliminated in associated support functions.
 

New dispatch of activities from Huntington Beach and Pueblo
   Pueblo, Colo.  Decatur, Ala.  Huntington Beach, Calif.
 Delta 2  Payload attach assemblies,
 Blankets and wire harnesses,
 Tubing/welded ducts,
 Subassembly work.
 Skin machining, processing and formings,
 Ring manufacturings,
 Center bodies,
 Engine frames and aft skirts,
 Equipment shelves,
 Socketrons and thrustbeams,
 Fisrt-stage tank assembly.
 Second stage steel tanks,
 Hydraulics,
 Composites.
 Delta 3  Tubing/welded ducts,
 Subassembly work.
 Skin machining, processing and formings,
 Ring manufacturings,
 Center bodies,
 Engine frames and aft skirts,
 Equipment shelves,
 Socketrons and thrustbeams,
 Payload fairings (from Pueblo)
 Composites.
 Delta 4     Tubing/welded ducts,
 Payload fairings (from Pueblo),
 Blankets and wire harnesses (from Pueblo),
 Upper stage assembly (from Pueblo).
 Metal fairing.
 Other activities         Electronic modification and rework,
 Delta development,
 Titan 4 fairing.
 
June 21
A Rosaviakosmos delegation arrives in Washington, D.C., to negotiate a new agreement on commercial space launches from Russia beyond late 2000. The U.S. administration is reportedly considering to lift Russian launch quotas before the end of the year.
 



Zenit 3SL
(Sea Launch)
June 20
Sea Launch announces that it has completed its Return to Flight/Systems Readiness Review on June 12. The Sea Launch partners, Boeing, RKK Energiya and NPO Yuzhnoye approved the results from the investigation report issued on May 22 by the Sea Launch Failure Review Oversight Board regarding the failure of the third Zenit 3SL launch on March 12. Sea Launch plans launch resumption by late July. Meanwhile, the payload planned for the next flight, PanAmSat's PAS-9, is delivered at Sea Launch's Homeport, in Long Beach, by its manufacturer, and Sea Launch's customer for the mission, Hughes Space & Communications.
 
June 20
Starsem unveils its own concept for a piggyback launch adapter for small payloads. Its design is a conical ring, which fits between the Fregat upper stage and the primary payload adapter, and features four consoles each carrying an attachment ring. This adapter, which will be proposed on both the Soyuz-Fregat and Soyuz/ST vehicles, will allow to launch up to four 125-kg microsatellites for US$1 million each. It will be available for the Soyuz/ST maiden flight, currently planned in the second half of 2001.
June 20
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory presents its EELV Secondary Payload Adapter, a 114-kg, 61-cm-tall cylindrical structure intended to provide piggyback launch opportunities for microsatellites of up to 180 kg on Boeing Delta 4 and Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 launch vehicles. The ESPA features six lateral attachement rings to carry the auxiliary payloads perpendicular to the launcher's axis. According to AFRL, 60% of the 28 U.S. Department of Defense launches already contracted on behalf of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program have an excess payload capability of more than 450 kg. Following Critical Design Review in September, the ESPA will be ready for launch as soon as December 2002. NASA has expressed its interest in using the ESPA to launch its Nanosat Trailblazer Constellation (Space Technology 5) mission piggyback on the second EELV launch, now due in May 2003 to loft a Defense Satellite Communication System spacecraft onboard a Delta 4M. On a fully-loaded ESPA launch, each smallsat could be lofted to orbit for US$1-2 million.
June 19
The Russian Ministry of Defense has agreed to swap its Proton K launch vehicle featuring Phase 2 modifications on its RD-0210 engines with another, standard Proton K launcher, booked by Rosaviakosmos. The former military vehicle will fly between June 22 and 24 to loft the Ekspress A3 civilian communication satellite while the unmodified Proton will wait for the Geyzer military data relay satellite which will be ready for launch not earlier than July 7. The Phase 2 engine modifications hacve already been flown successfully on June 6 but a second flight is mandatory before they are used on the three-stage Proton K vehicle due to loft the long-delayed Zvezda resource module to the International Space Station on July 12.
Editor's note: This information was later denied, see Erratum on June 27.
June 19
After two unsuccessful attempts to stack the second stage of its next Delta 2/7925 vehicle atop two different interstage sections, Boeing eventually succeeded with a third interstage section, thus clearing the vehicle for launch between July 15 and 17. The flight, to loft a U.S. Air Force Navstar global positioning satellite, was initially due on June 15.
June 16
NASA has awarded two 10-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts potentially worth up to a total of US$5 billion to Boeing Expendable Launch Systems and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services to provide launch services for up to 70 missions on behalf of its NASA Launch Services (NLS) procurement. Boeing will provide launch services onboard its Delta 2, Delta 3 and Delta 4 vehicles. Lockheed Martin will presumably propose similar services onboards its own Atlas 2, Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 series of launchers.
 
Under this procurement, Boeing was awarded a firm contract, worth more than US$168 million, to provide three firm Delta 2 launches with options for five more flights, worth more than US$248 million. The payloads for these three firm flights are Aura (formerly EOS-Chem) in December 2002 or June 2003 on a Delta 2/7920, Deep Impact in January 2004 on a Delta 2/7925H) and Messenger in March 2004 also on a Delta 2/7925H.
June 16
Arianespace has ordered 40 sets of Ariane 5 booster cases to MAN Technologie AG for about DM300 million (US$150 million) under the second Ariane 5 procurement batch (P2). Another contract, potentially worth an additional DM200 million (US$100 million) is still under negotiation to supply structural elements for the core cryogenic stage and tankage for the storable propellant and cryogenic upper stages.
June 16
NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki is considering the possibility to launch its Glonass global navigation satellites on Soyuz-Fregat instead of Proton vehicles from 2002 on.
June 14
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems officially announces its plan to conduct a US$85-million demonstration flight of its Delta 3 launch vehicle with a dummy payload on August 19. Boeing claims that several customers were interested to fly the mission but that none of them could meet its schedule.
June 13
Negotiations for a new agreement between Russia and the United States regarding commercial launch services are planned in the second half of June in Washington D.C. The U.S. government reportedly considers the possibility of lifting the current launch quotas later this year if Russia can demonstrate its efforts regarding non-proliferation of ballistic missile technology. The quotas, instated in January 1996 and due to expire in late 2000, are limiting Russia's commercial launches to 16 missions to geosynchronous and transfer orbits and only half of any low earth orbit constellation. The agreement was extended to 20 launches as the market exceeded 80 commercial launches from 1996 to 2000.
Editor's note: Since the last launch quotas were instated, Russia has performed 15 commercial geostationary launches.
June 12
According to Space.com, Rosaviakosmos' Space Marketing Center (SMC) which announced that it would sue Pizza Hut Inc. if it proceeds with its plan to fly its logo on a Proton K vehicle, has no longer exclusive rights to market advertising space on Russian launchers. SMC was created by the former Russiaon space agency RKA before its was turned into Rosaviakosmos in May 1999. Since then the new aerospace agency has been allowed to conduct commercial activities on its own and no longer needed to rely on SMC. Moreover, Pizza Hut contracted directly with the Proton vehicle's manufacturer, GKNPTs Khrunichev. Pizza Hut's logo will fly on the Proton K vehicle due for launch between July 10 and 12 to loft the Zvezda resource module to the International Space Station.
June 9
Space.com reports that there is some confusion on the Proton launch manifest in late June due to some rivalry between Rosaviakosmos and the Russsian Ministry of Defense. Under an agreement with NASA, two Proton vehicles featuring modified RD-0210 Phase 2 engines on their second and third stages are due to be flown successfully before a third one can loft the long-delayed Zvezda resource module to the International Space Station. The first vehicle was launched on June 7 and the second was planned to launch a military Altair data relay satellite on June 20. However, since this spacecraft is late, Rosaviakosmos proposed to swap the vehicle with a standard Proton which was planned to launch the Ekspress A3 satellite on June 22. The military reportedly refused the deal and announced their plan to launch their satellite from Baykonur on June 30. International Launch Services plans to launch a standard Proton K on June 29 to loft the Sirius 1 direct radio broadcasting satellite.
Editor's note: Since there are four active Proton, launch pads in Baykonur, it is theoretically possible that all the launches take place within a few days.
 
 



Breeze M upper stage cutaway and broken down views
showing the jettisonable toroidal tankage section (Khrunichev)
 
 
June 6
A GKNPTs Khrunichev Proton K vehicle was successfully launched from the Baykonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, at 02:59Z and lofted a composite payload, consisting of the new Breeze M maneuverable stage and the last Gorizont communication satellite. On its first test flight, the Breeze M performed a series of maneuvers before releasing the Gorizont 45 spacecraft onto geostationary orbit some 9 hours after liftoff. The Breeze M stage then conducted a deorbit burn in order to reenter the atmopshere and be destoyed. The vehicle was also the first to feature RD-0210 Phase 2 engines incorporating design modifications decided after the failure of the previous Proton K/Breeze M launch attempt on October 27, 1999. The first flight of the Proton M/Breeze M combination is now due in late August or early September.
Editor's note: Two Proton K flights with modified RD-0210 engines are due before the vehicle is cleared for launch of the Zvezda resource module to the International Space Station.
 
 
June 5
During his visit in Kyiv, U.S. president William J. Clinton has announced the end of launch quotas for Ukrainian launch vehicles as a reward for the country's efforts to counter ballistic missile technology proliferation. The quotas, previously due to expire in late 2001, limited Ukraine's access to commercial launches to five missions to geosynchronous and transfer orbits plus eleven on behalf of the Sea Launch consortium.
Editor's note: No launch to geostationary orbit has ever been conducted or is currently planned by Ukraine. Sea Launch has conducted two commercial launches to geostationary transfer orbit (including one demonstration flight) and is planning to perform three more in 2000 and two to six in 2001. Although the U.S. government's move is politically significant, it now seems highly unlikely that the Ukrainian quotas could have been exceeded.
June 5
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems has ordered precision measurements on the stages of a Delta 2/7925 vehicle undergoing launch preparation on pad in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as previous attempts to stack the second stage on the first stage's interstage section have failed as the elements did not fit together, even after an interstage section swap. Boeing expects that the measurements will show which element is at fault. The launch, initially due on June 15 has slipped to June 21 and is now postponed indefinitely. The payload for this flight is a Navstar Block 2R global positioning satellite for U.S. Air Force.
June 4
NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki (NPO-PM) will ship the Express A3 satellite from Krasnoyarsk to Baykonur, Kazakhstan, on June 5. The third satellite in the Ekspress A series is due for launch atop a Proton K/DM booster in mid-to-late June.
 



J-2 concept
(NASDA)
June 2nd
Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. has confirmed that it is in talks with GenCorp Aerojet, Japan Aviation Electronics Industry Ltd., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Astronautics Operations and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to set up a joint-venture in order to develop and operate the new J-2 (or J-1U) launch vehicle. Nissan Aerospaxe, which was planned to be a major partner in the program, will become a wholly owned IHI subsidiary, IHI Aerospace Co., on July 1st. According to Japanese daily newspaper Nihon Keizai, the new venture will provide about on third of the ¥40-billion (US$370-million) budget needed to develop the new vehicle. The other two thirds will be provided by the National Space Development Agency of Japan. The J-2 is due to be available in 2004 with a payload capability of some 3,000 kg onto a 200 km altitude low Earth orbit.
Editor's note: The J-2, designed under IHI prime contractorship, is apparently based on a subscale Atlas stage, designed by Lockheed Martin, powered by a single NK-33 engine supplied through Aerojet. The second stage would be built by Mitsubishi and powered by an IHI engine burning liquid oxygen and methane. JAE will be in charge of the avionics and Kawasaki of the payload fairing.
 
 
June 1st
MKK Kosmotras has unveiled its launch manifest with 13 flights of Dnepr vehicles through mid 2004. Piggyback launch opportunities are available on 9 of these flights for payloads weighing between 240 and 1,000 kg. Next Dnepr flights are due on August 25, 2000 and by early 2001.
June 1st
Sirius Satellite Radio's Sirius 1 spacecraft has been delivered at the Baykonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, and is beginning its final processing in preparation for a launch atop a Proton K/DM4 vehicle provided by International Launch Services. The launch is currently slated between June 28 and July 3.
June 1st
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems has decided to postpone the upcoming launch of a Delta 2/7925 vehicle, slated for June 15, after a problem was reported during the stacking of the vehicle's stages on pad in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The problem arose with the mating of the second stage on top of an interstage section, as the two elements did not fit properly. The interstage section was removed and replaced but since the problem remained a defect is now suspected on the 2nd stage itself. A tentative new working launch date has been set for June 21. The payload for this flight is a Navstar Block 2R global positioning satellite for U.S. Air Force.

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 Government Launchers

June 20
Japan's National Space Development Agency has successfully conducted a 10-second captive firing test of its H-2A vehicle's cryogenic core stage at the Osaki launch complex facilities of the Tanegashima Space Center. The firing test involved the full-scale H-2A Ground Test Vehicle (GTV-1). A second firing test is tentatively planned on July 1st.
 



H-2A GTV
(NASDA)
June 15
Japan's National Space Development Agency is conducting a series of interfaces tests between the H-2A Ground Test Vehicle (GTV-1) and the Osaki launch complex facilities at the Tanegashima Space Center. These tests will be followed by a captive firing test of the vehicle's cryogenic core stage on June 20.
 
 



ATV on Ariane 5
(old configuration with no upper stage)
(ESA)
June 7
The European Space Agency has signed a contract, worth more than EUR1 billion (US$1 billion) with Arianespace to book 9 dedicated Ariane 5 flights to loft Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) to the International Space Station from late 2003 through 2014. The 20-ton unmanned cargo ships will be flown atop Ariane 5ESV launchers and released on a 300 km circular orbit inclined at 51.6°. They will use their onboard propulsion system to rendezvous with the ISS and deliver propellant, equipment and goods. The ATV will also reboost the ISS to compensate for its natural orbital decay.
Editor's note: ESA's previous plans were to launch the ATV on an Ariane 5 with no upper stage and release it on a low-perigee transfer orbit (50 x 300 km, 51.6°) from where it would have needed to fire its own thrusters to circularize. The introduction of the new ESP/V maneuverable upper stage has allowed Arianespace to propose to launch the cargo ship to a stable and safer orbit, with no need to adapt the launcher to a new flight configuration.
 
 
June 5
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Astronautics Operations was awarded a US$23.2-million increase to a previously signed contract by the U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile System Center to provide for nine Upgraded Solid Rocket Motor (SRMU) cases and case qualification to support tthe Titan 4B launch program.
June 1st
The National Space Development Agency of Japan reportedly plans to launch the Japanese Ministry of Transport's MT-Sat 1R satellite atop a H-2A vehicle during JFY2002 (April 2002 to March 2003).
Editor's note: MT-Sat 1R is intended to replace MT-Sat 1 which was lost in the launch failure of a H-2S vehicle on November 15, 1999.

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 Small Launchers

June 9
Japan's Institute for Space & Astronautical Science issues its final report on the failure of its M-5 launch vehicle on February 10. According to the report, a 3-mm-long crack in the first stage nozzle's heat-resistant material expanded due to high loads at liftoff and lead to the rupture of the nozzle element. ISAS suspect the crack occurred during the manufacturing or processing phases and went undetected in prelaunch inspections. In the future ISAS may replace the graphite-based heat-resistant material by 3-dimensional carbon-carbon which three times more resistant.
Editor's note: ISAS reportedly does not use X-ray or ultrasonic techniques in its prelaunch inspections.
June 4
Interfax reports that the launch of West Indian Space Ltd's EROS A1 commercial remote sensing satellite on a Start 1 vehicle is now planned for October 1st, from Russia's new Svobodniy cosmodrome. The launch had previously been scheduled in July.

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 Missile Systems

June 30
The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency has awarded a US$2-million increment to a US$12.1-million contract initiated on March 8 with Morrison Knudsen Corp. for the disposal of high energy solid propellant from decommissioned RS-22 (SS-24) former Soviet ICBMs through mid-2004. If all options are exercized, the contract may reach a value of US$76.3 million.
Editor's note: The NPO Yuzhnoye-built RS-22 was considered for use as the basis of new families of air-launched or ground-launched space launchers under the names Space Clipper and Talisman, the latter in partnership with France's Dassault Aviation.
June 30
Pakistan denies U.S. allegations that China may have resumed work on a M-11 missile assembly plant it started building in Pakistan in 1990. U.S. concerns have been reported in the Far Eastern Economic Review on June 22.
 
June 29
Russian and Chinese governments will discuss ballistic missile defense issues during a summit in Beijing on July 18 and 19.
June 26
Iran will conduct the second test flight of its Shahab 3 missile, a local version of North Korea's No Dong 2 MRBM, within weeks, according to Israeli intelligences sources quoted by daily newspaper Ha'aretz. The 1,300-km range missile was test-flown for the first time on July 21, 1998 but had to be destroyed about 100 seconds into flight. According to the Israelis, Iran has not put the missile into production yet and is about 5 years from being able to fit it with a nuclear warhead.
June 22
According to British newspaper The Sunday Times, Israel has conducted a series of test flights of sea-launched cruise missiles from submarines in the Bay of Bengal in May and plans to deploy a deterrence submarine force in the Mediterranean , the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
June 21
North Korea claims that the moratorium on ballistic missiles testing remains in force "due to the continuing preparations for summit talks with the United States."
June 21
The U.S. Department of Defense confirms that it plans to conduct its third interception test of a prototype National Missile Defense (NMD) system Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) by July 7.
Editor's note: This target date has been announced in our Launch Log section since mid May.
June 19
The current schedule for the development and implementation of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system is "overly ambitious" according to a confidential report to the U.S. Defense Secretary quoted by The Washington Post. The report warns of a "substantial schedule risk, but not particularly high technical risk,'' of a fundamental engineering or scientific flaw in the system, which is now being tested. Among the main potential sources of delays, the report pinpoints the Ground-Based Interceptor whose initial test flight has been postponed from early this year to September and is unlikely to be available for a full-scale interception test in early 2001 as planned.
June 16
Five Russian military servicemen and six crewmembers of a transport ship were injured following a minor nitrogen tetroxide leak from a liquid-fuelled RSN-50 Volna sea-launched ballistic missile during a routine unloading operation from the cargo hold in Konyushkovo Bay, 60-km East of Vladivostok. The missile was part of a batch of decommissioned missiles being returned to the factory for reprocessing.
Editor's note: Russian-built liquid-fueled missiles are usually filled with storable propellants and sealed before deployment in silos or submarines.
June 15
A group of administration lawyers from the U.S. State and Defense departments and the National Security Council has issued a report stating that the United States could begin the deployment of a U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system without violating the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty signed with the Soviet Union in 1972.
June 9
According to The New York Times, interception tests carried out to prepare for the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system have been faked by the U.S. Department of Defense. After early sensor test flights had showed that the seekers could not discriminate the actual warhead from the decoys, Pentagon officials decided to replace them by easy-to-identify decoys on full-scale interception tests. The U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization aknowledged the decision but denies that the program had engaged in any deception or dumbing down and claims the testing program would be extremely useful and the resulting weapon would defeat crude warheads launched by "inexperienced nuclear powers" that might emerge in the future, like Iran, Iraq or North Korea.
Editor's note: At least 16 interception tests are planned under the NMD development program. Two have already been performed on October 3, 1999 and January 19, 2000. The second test failed. A third test is due on July 8.
June 9
Russia has given details on its proposal for a joint European missile defense system. According to Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov, Russia proposes a joint assessment of the character and scale of possible missile threats, followed by the development of an all-European non-strategic (less than 3,500-km range) anti-ballistic missile system and the creation of a European multilateral center for early missile warning. The proposed system could be developed on European technologies as "Russia has no intention to make West-European nations depend on Russian anti-missile technologies," Ivanov said. In the meantime, Ivanov confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not try to persuade North Korea to drop its missile program during his upcoming state visit.
June 9
The Pakistani Foreign Office reacted to U.S. comments on its nuclear armament by issueing a statement claiming that its nuclear capability is "modest and solely aimed at deterring aggression."
 


   
Pakistan's Ghauri and India's Agni
June 8
According to U.S. Defense officials, Pakistan owns 25 to 100 nuclear warheads, i.e. up to five times more than what India is thought to possess. Most importantly, Pakistan is now thought to possess about 30 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. These include Chinese M-11 short-range missiles and its Pakistani variant, the Tarmuk, as well as North Korean Nodong intermediate-range missiles, known locally as the Ghauri.
 
 
June 7
The U.S. Department of Defense announces that it will study Russia's proposal for a joint missile defense system to counterbalance threat from so-called "rogue states."
June 5
During his visit in Rome, Russian president Vladimir Putin estimated that Europe should set up its own ballistic missile defense system with participation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States.
June 4
U.S. and Russian presidents William J. Clinton and Vladimir Putin have issued a joint statement after two days of summit talks. According to the statement, both government have agreed that "there is an emerging ballistic missile threat which must be addressed" but the United States and Russia "have not agreed on how best to do so." The two presidents "have acknowledged that the ABM treaty foresees the possibility of changes in the strategic environment that might require it to be updated.'' U.S. and Russian experts will work to try to narrow their difference on missile defense in the coming days.
June 4
According to Israel daily newspaper Ha'aretz, quoting unidentified U.S. sources, China is providing technical assistance to Iran and Syria to develop advanced ballistic missiles with major technology trandsfers in the fiels of rocket engines, guidance systems and solid propellant. China is said to have sold Iran materials for the development of solid rocket motors, to have set up a factory to manufacture NP-110 engines and to have introduced advanced guidance systems, including space-rated sensors.China is also said to have built a fully equipped missile test range in Iran as well as a wind tunnel facility in Lybia.
June 1st
Russian president Vladimir Putin suggests that the United States and Russia should cooperate to jointly develop a "missile shield" in order to protect themselves from attacks by so-called "roge states." Shortly before, senior U.S. defense officials had announced that the United States have proposed cooperation with Russia on theater missile defenses and early warning systems in an attempt to convince Russian authorities to allow a modification of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which is needed for the deployment of the National Missile Defense system.
June 1st
Speaking in Lisbon at the beginning of his trip over Europe, U.S. president William J. Clinton claimed that the United States are ready to share their National Missile Defense (NMD) technology with their European allies.

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 RLVs and Reentry Systems

June 30
NASA's Langley Research Center plans to contract with the University of Florida's Department of Aerospace Engineering to investigate processes to reduce matrix cracking in polymer matrix composite (PMC) materials when subject to extreme temperature conditions as in cryogenic tanks of Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs).
 



Roton C-9
(Rotary Rocket)
June 26
Gary Hudson, founder and chief executive of Rotary Rocket, is leaving the company and plans to return to aerospace consulting. Rotary Rocket has reportedly postponed any further work on its Roton C-9 reusable manned launcher concept unless it completes a new business plan and brings in new partners.
Editor's note: In 4 years, Rotary Rocket has spent about US$33 million in the Roton design and barely demonstrated that a rotor-powered reentry vehicle could be piloted above the ground for final approach and landing. Rotary Rocket claims that it needs only another US$150 million to complete the development of a fully reusable single-stage-to-orbit vehicle powered by a set of low-cost Fastrac engines.
 
 



X-34
(DFRC)
June 9
NASA's X-34 hypersonic technology testbed demonstrator program is undergoing a major restructuring in the wake of a series of reports regarding recent NASA program failures. Among the major changes in the X-34 program is a review of its avionics to inject some redundancies before the vehicle is prepared for powered flights. The initial X-34 design did not include redundancy. Moreover, additional system-level tests will be introduced in addition to the already planned five unpowered drop tests of the A-1A vehicle. These unpowered flights are now planned to begin in January or February 2001. The A-1A is currently undergoing tow-tests on a runway which should be completed by late July. Powered flights with the A-2 and A-3 vehicles have been postponed to 2002.
 
 

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 Space Propulsion

June 29
China has recently conducted a static firing test of a liquid oxygen/kerosene engine at the Fengzhou Test center.
Editor's note: Hydrocarbon propulsion is considered to be one of the basic technologies to be developed by China for its next generation of launch systems.
June 28
Due to program delays, NASA's Stennis Space Center is freezing its plans to build a new test stand for Rocket Based Combined Cycle (RBCC) engines through October 1st at the earliest.
June 26
Two U.S. Republican congressmen, senator John McCain and representative James Sensenbrenner, respectively chairman of the U.S. Senate's Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee and chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, have requested the U.S. General Accounting Office to investigate into design difficulties and a reported US$100-350 million cost overrun regarding the 14,500-kg U.S. Propulsion Module (USPM) for the International Space Station.
Editor's note: Boeing was awarded a US$542-million contract by NASA in 1998 to design the USPM, initially planned for launch in 2003. A two-year delay in the project has recently been reported and NASA has asked TRW to review Boeing's work. On June 15, NASA also began consulting the industry, allegedly considering the possibility to rescind Boeing's contract and to transfer the work to another contractor.
June 25
Boeing Rocketdyne and AstriumGmbH announce the completion of a static firing test campaign for their 55-kN RS-72 (a.k.a. Aestus 2) engine. The 14th and last firing in the camapign was actually conducted on May 3rd, at NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. The RS-72 is a derivative of Astrium's Aestus pressure-fed engine with a new turbopump design developed for Rocketdyne's XLR-132 engine.
June 22
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is setting up a team to review the recent emergency shutdown of a Boeing Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) during a static firing test at Stennis Space Center on June 16. The firing involved a SSME development model featuring a smaller combustion chamber in order to validate the engine's capability to operate at higher-than-normal temperature levels. The 200-second firing, intended to test a new high-pressure hydrogen turbopump configuration, was automatically aborted after about 5 seconds when higher-than-expected temperatures were reporetd by internal sensors.
 



GEM-60 firing test
(ATK)
June 22
ATK successfully conducts the third and last qualification static firing of its GEM-60 (Graphite Epoxy Motor) solid rocket booster motor. GEM-60, an enlarged version of Delta 3's GEM-46 and Delta 2's GEM-40 will be used as strap-on booster on Boeing's future Delta 4M+ vehicles. It features a thrust-vector control system designed by Moog with a composite nozzle provided by Hitco. Marvin Engineering supplies the main metal components.
 
 
June 22
The European Space Agency's council, which met in Paris, decided not to approve the joint proposal by Snecma and Pratt&Whitney to develop tthe SPW2000 engine for future versions of Ariane 5 as well as for its U.S. competitors Atlas 5 and Delta 4. Snecma will have to proceed with its European partners on the previously approved Vinci engine design. The council also approved a strategy document for future space transportation programs which includes the development of a prototype 80-ton monolithic solid rocket motor with a composite casing, the P80. Italy is ready to fund about 65% of this effort. This motor could later serve as the core stage for a future small launch vehicle while its composite casing technology could be applied on future versions of Ariane 5 to increase their payload capability.
June 16
The 200-second firing test of a Boeing Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) at NASA's Stennis Space Center is aborted after 5 seconds. The firing, intended to test a new high-pressure hydrogen turbopump configuration, involved a SSME development model featuring a smaller combustion chamber in order to validate the engine's capability to operate at higher-than-normal temperature levels.
June 15
Germany's aerospace agency DLR and France's space agency CNES and aerospace research establishment Onera have signed a 5-year agreement on joint research activities in the field of liquid propulsion systems for launch vehicles. Under this agreement, DLR and Onera will put together their research facilities to form a European center of excellence. the main topics covered by the agreement encompass cryogenic propellants combustion (LOx/LH2), hydrocarbon propellant combustion (LOx/Kerosene), instabilities in high frequency combustion, and exhaust plume detachment in nozzles.
June 15
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center issues a request for information prior to the selection of a contractor to develop the much-delayed U.S. Propulsion Module (USPM) for the International Space Station, initially planned to be provided by Boeing. The USPM is due to provide additional on-orbit reboost and attitude control capability for the ISS through 2015 as a U.S. redundancy to Russian propulsion systems. A contractor will be selected during third quarter to deliver the USPM no later than mid-2003.
June 14
The U.S. administration has fined Lockheed Martin Corp. US$13 million for violating the rules for sharing rocket technology with China. Lockheed Martin will have to pay US$8 million over four years and to spend US$5 million to improve security by setting up a comprehensive computer control system to give the U.S. State and Defense Departments access to all of the company's export activities in the field of missiles and space technology, also for four years.
Editor's note: The U.S. State Department charged Lockheed Martin Corp. with violating the Arms Export Control Act in April. Lockheed Martin allegedly provided a scientific assessment of the Chinese-built EPKM solid rocket motor. Also known as GF-46, the 210-kN motor was built by China's Hexi Corp. and used as a perigee kick stage atop the CZ-2E vehicle for the launch of the AsiaSat 2 satellite, built by Lockheed Martin Astro Space, in November 1995.
 



VASIMR concept
(JSC's ASPL)
June 13
NASA's Johnson Space Center has signed an agreement with MSE Technology Applications Inc. to jointly develop a Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engine currently under study by JSC's Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory. The VASIMR engine concept would use three linked magnetic cells to turn liquid hydrogen into plasma, heat it and ejects it to provide thrust. Using a VASIMR propulsion system to power a manned ship to Mars by continuously accelerating during the first half of the trip then continuously decelerating during the second half would reduce the journey duration from 10 to less than 4 months.
 
 
June 12
On behalf of its Revolutionary Aero-Space Engine Research (RASER) program unveiled on May 9, NASA's Glenn Research Center is consulting small businesses and U.S. minority educational institutions for capability statements regarding various concepts such as intelligent propulsion controls, pulsed detonation engines (PDE), combined cycles propulsion systems and propulsion systems design tools as well as the development and demonstratation of a proof-of-concept lightweight, low-cost, and high reliability advanced rocket propulsion systems for second and third generation reusable launch vehicles.
June 10
NASA Watch reports that NASA is about to sollicit bids for the development of the much-delayed U.S. Propulsion Module (USPM) for the International Space Station. The USPM, with an in-orbit fueling capability, had initially planned to be developped by Boeing but the program has suffered a US$200-million overrun through numerous changes in requirements. NASA now plans to acquire three modules without any refueling capability. The new concept is to swap these modules, having one attached to the ISS while another is ready on the ground and the third is undergoing refurbishment. Two modules would have to be ready for launch onboard the shuttle by late 2002. Boeing, GenCorp Aerojet and Lockheed Martin are likely bidders.
June 7
A half-scale prototype of the "Star of Tolerance" solar sail, jointly developed by DLR and the European Space Agency, is unveiled at the ILA'2000 airshow in Berlin. Under the US$45-million project, a 40 x 40 m sail will be launched atop a Dnepr 1 vehicle in late 2001.
 



SRB-A firing test
(NASDA)
June 2nd
Japan's National Space Development Agency conducts the second horizontal static firing of a qualification model of the SRB-A solid rocket booster (QM-2) at the Ground Combustion Test Facilities for Solid Rocket of the Takesaki launch site at the Tanegashima Space Center. Although nozzle erosion problems detected during previous tests have reportedly been solved, damages were reported to the throat insert which moved to the upstream side of the nozzle at the end of the 103-sec. burn and caused further damage to the carbon fiber reinforced plastic radiation shield and the rear liner insert.
Editor's note: The 2,250-kN SRB-A is a 65-ton monolithic solid rocket booster under development by Nissan Aerospace Co. and intended to replace the H-2's segmented SRB as strap-on booster on the H-2A launch vehicle. It features a composite casing provided by Thiokol. Previous static firing tests of the SRB-A were conducted on August 3, 1999 (QM-1), March 17, 1999 and July 21, 1998.
 
 

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 Spaceports

June 28
BBC reports that Malaysia and Japan are considering cooperation the build-up of a near-equatorial launch site in the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, northwest of the island of Borneo. A paper on the project will be presented to the Malaysian Prime Minister's cabinet in July. Several candidate sites have already been spotted according to the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.
June 22
Soil pollution by rocket propellant has been detected in three areas of the Altai oblast, in Russia, as result from impacts of spent rocket stages adter launches from Baykonur, Kazakstan. According to Itar-Tass, the territorial administration has set up a team of experts to investigate the pollution and detrmine the amount of financial compensations to be paid to the region.
June 22
NASA's Kennedy Space Center and U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing have signed an intergagency agreement to form a Joint Planning & Customer Service office for Cape Canaveral Spaceport.
June 19
Russia and Kazakhstan have signed a new memorandum regarding the use of the Kazakhstan-based Baykonur Cosmodrome by Russia. The text plans a prolongation of Russian presence in Baykonur as well as a cooperation between the two countries on the development and launch of joint space missions and the training of experts for the Kazakh space sector.
June 12
The High Court of Guyana is judging a constitutional motion against the government and Guyana and Beal Aerospace regarding the sale of a 400-sq.km area in the Waini region of Essequibo County to build up a US$100-million commercial spaceport for Beal's BA-2 vehicle. According to the plaintiffs, the deal, signed on May 19, is unconstitutional since it sells part of Guyana's national territory to a foreign entity.

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 Industry

June 29
Brazil and Russia have set up a joint commission to study space cooperation activities such as the joint development of high-resolution imaging satellites, development of a liquid-fueled injection module for Brazil's VLS launchers as well as the possible use of Brazil's Alcantara Launch Center by Russian launch vehicles. Officials from AEB, the Brazilian space agency, and Rosaviakosmos will meet on September 20 to review proposals of cooperation projects.
June 20
According to French daily financial newspaper Les Echos, France's Snecma, which has recently restructured as a holding company, is looking for acquisitions and is ready to propose merger agreements with other European motorists such as FiatAvio in Italy or Volvo Aero in Sweden.
June 14
Primex Technologies has completed the acquisition of Kaiser Marquardt Inc.'s bipropellant propulsion systems business in a transaction worth US$22.4 million. This activity will complement that of Primex which manufactures monopropellant thrusters and is also involved in electric propulsion systems.
June 8
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is consulting the industry for a study regarding enhanced flight termination systems for expendable and reusable launch vehicles, ballistic and tactical missiles, sounding rockets, full-scale and subscale aerial targets and remotely piloted vehicles.
June 8
Starsem and Eurockot have formed a strategic partnership to coordinate their marketing and development efforts as their main shareholders Aerospatiale Matra (35% in Starsem) and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (51% in Eurockot through Astrium GmbH) are due to merge shortly to form the European Aeronautics, Defense & Space (EADS) company. A joint management board, headed by Starsem's and Eurockot's CEOs will be set up to carry out the agreement.
Editor's note: This strategic partnership is the first step of a rationalization of European space transportation industry on a family of launch systems consisting of Ariane 5, Soyuz/ST and Rokot vehicles.
June 6
Itar-Tass reports that a delegation of the economics committee of the Cheliabinsk Oblast administration has just returned from China with several contracts signed. according to the committee's chairman, Vladimir Dyatlov, China is highly interested in the deliveries of engineering products and space rocket technology.
Editor's note: It is not clear in Itar-Tass's statement if any rocket technology has been sold to China as part of the recently signed contracts. Cheliabinsk Oblast, in Southern Urals, is the home of GRTsKB Makeev, lead producer of Russia's sea-launcched ballistic missiles, and NII Germes, which develops structural elements for space systems and liquid-fueled thrusters.
June 5
Boeing has signed an agreement with Verkhnaya Salda Metallurgical Association (VSMPO), a major Russian titanium producer, to expand existing cooperation. VSMPO's titanium and alloys could be used on future Boeing spacecraft and launch systems.
Editor's note: VSMPO already supplies about 20% of all titanium used in Boeing commercial products and has a deal worth US$250 million over six years.

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 Launch Market

June 30
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has revoked operating licenses to three U.S. operators which have failed to meet a May 1998 deadline to begin manufacturing their proposed Ka-band satellites and did not ask for any extension. The revoked licenses had been awarded in mid-1997 to Morning Star Satellite (at 62°W, 30°E, 107.5°E and 147°W), NetSat 28 Company LLC (at 95°W) and PanAmSat Corp. (at 59°W and 125°W).
Editor's note: NetSat 28 reportedly selected Space Systems/Loral in January to build its satellite.
June 29
The Harbin Institute of Technology is developing the Tansuo 1 ("Exploration 1") remote sensing microsatellite which will be launched piggyback on a Chinese vehicle in 2001.
June 29
Orbital Sciences Corp.'s subsidiary, OrbComm, is streamlining operations on its 35-satellite messaging constellation and plans to reduce its workforce by 20%. Effects on the operations of the OrbComm system are unknown yet. OSC is reportedly looking for a new partner for its venture as Teleglobe, OrbComm's current main shareholder recently missed a US$8-million payment. OrbComm announces that no further satellite procurement is to be expected in the short term.
Editor's note: Two launches for OrbComm are still on the Pegasus XL launch manifest, tentatively slated for October 2000 and January 2001.
June 28
The government of Hong Kong has awarded an operating license to Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) for its AsiaSat 4 telecommunication satellite. Launch is due before mid-2002.
Editor's note: AsiaSat 4 was ordered to Hughes Space & Communications in November 1998 as AsiaSat 3SB. A launch on a CZ-3B vehicle was reportedly booked from China Great Wall Industry Corp., also in November 1998.
June 23
OHB-System expects to receive an order for an Abrixas 2 X-ray astronomy satellite in September. Abrixas 1 failed shortly after launch atop a Kosmos 3M vehicle in April 1999. Abrixas 2 could be launched by the third Kosmos 3M vehicle booked by DLR through OHB-System's Cosmos International GmbH venture.
June 23
U.S. Air Force Academy and France's Ecole de l'Air have agreed to cooperate on the development of two microsatellites under the Falconsat 2 program. France may propose a piggyback launch on an Ariane 5 Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-5).
June 22
The European Space Agency is looking for an alternate launch opportunity for its Proba small satellite currently planned for launch piggyback on an Indian PSLV booster. The mission was initially set for mid-2000 but slipped to 2001/2002 due to a reshuffle in Indian Space Research Organization's launch manifest. Meanwhile, Verhaert Design & Development is looking for partners to develop a follow-on Proba 2.
June 20
CNES has issued a user's manual for its Proteus modular small satellite platform developed in partnership with Alcatel Space. The Proteus bus has already been selected for the following missions: Jason 1 (Oceanography, Delta 2/7920, February 2001), Picasso-Cena (Aeronomy, Delta 2/7420, March 2003), Corot (Astroseismology, Rokot or PSLV, October 2004), Jason 2 (Oceanography, Delta 2/7920, 2004), SMOS (Environment, Rokot, June 2005) and Megha-Tropiques (Climatology, PSLV, 2005).
June 19
The Technical University of Berlin is discussing with Morrocco's Royal Remote Sensing Center regrading a project to build a second Maroc-Tubsat microsatellite. Maroc-TubSat 1 is currently in Moscow where it is prepared for launch atop a Zenit 2 vehicle in late September.
June 19
France's CNES has initiated two major proposals in the field of microsatellites. First is a constellation of microsatellites to be developed in coordination by all countries which would accept to join the project. A joint working group will be set up by late 2000 or early 2001 to define in common a mission that would respond to all countries' needs. A full interoperability of satellites will allow each partner to receive data from the whole constellation. Then CNES has organized a meeting on the standardization of microsatellite/launchers interfaces.
June 19
Eutelsat has signed a contract with Astrium to procure the Hot Bird 7 direct broadcasting satellite. Delivered in the second quarter of 2002, this 3,300-kg spacecraft, based on Astrium's EuroStar 2000+ bus, will carry 40 Ku-band transponders. Eutelsat will later contract for launch service.
June 19
U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito, 59, head of the Wilshire Associates investment firm in California, has signed a US$20-million contract with MirCorp to fly a 10-day mission onboard the Mir space station in April 2001.
June 13
Thailand's Shin Satellite Plc will select a prime contractor to build its US$400-million iPStar satellite within one month. Formerly known as Thaicom 4, iPStar is planned for launch in 2002.
June 12
NASA plans to launch a subscale demonstrator of its Next Generation Space Telescope in October 2004. Dubbed Nexus, it will carry a 2.8-m-diameter telescope of the same design as NGST's 8-m instrument. The NGST is due to succeed to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.
June 9
Germany and France have agreed to cooperate on a European military observation satellite system based on France's Helios 2 optical satellites and a new radar satellite system to be developed under German leadership. Astrium GmbH and OHB-System have each been awarded a DM7.5-million (US$3.7-million) contract for competitive studies on the SAR-Lupe radar satellite system. Astrium proposes to develop four 650-kg spacecraft based on its FlexBus platform for launches either on four Rokot vehicles provided by Eurockot for US$56 million or on two Soyuz launchers supplied by Starsem for US$70 million. OHB-System which leads a team composed of RST, Sartech, ESG and IABG, plans six 500-kg satellites plus a demonstrator to be launched as soon as 2003. The operational sextet would be flown on three Kosmos 3M launchers bought for US$36 million through OHB's Cosmos International GmbH, or as a single cluster on a Boeing Delta 3 vehicle quoted at US$85 million. Total cost of the program is estimated between DM500 million and DM1 billion (US$250/500 million).
Editor's note: A previous similar program, Horus, was cancelled in 1998 as the German government could not get approval for the funding. The new system will likely be based on smaller and cheaper satellites than planned for Horus.
June 1st
Castle Harlan Inc., a prominent New York-based investor firm, proposes to acquire the bankrupt US$5-billion Iridium system for US$50 million.
 


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