News of July 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



Zenit 3SL
(Sea Launch)
July 31
Sea Launch reports that it still plans to conduct two more commercial flights of its Zenit 3SL vehicle in 2000. A launch is due in late September to loft 5,250-kg Thuraya 1 geomobile satellite for the United Arab Emirates' Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications while a final launch is scheduled in late December, presumably for XM Rock, the first Digital Audio Radio Satellite from XM Radio.
Editor's note: RKK Energiya, a 25% partner in Sea Launch, had previously announced that the Thuraya launch will take place in October or even November. This launch is insured for US$800 million, a record-breaking coverage which was only exceeded by that of Thuraya 2 (to be launched in case of failure of Thuraya 1) which reaches US$1.2 billion.
 
 
July 25
Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) announce that at least 14 more space launches are planned from Russia and Kazakhstan for this year.
 


   
   
ILS Fleet: Proton K, Atlas 2AS, Atlas 3A and Atlas 5 (ILS)
July 24
International Launch Services announces new contracts for 13 firm launches worth more than US$1 billion, with options for 17 more launches. The customers, for unidentified number of launches, include Lockheed Martin-led Astrolink LLC, the new ICO/Teledesic venture, GE Americom and Loral Space & Communications.
The vehicles to be used are five Proton K and Proton M, provided by GKNPTs Khrunichev, as well as two Atlas 2AS and a mix of six Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 supplied by Lockheed Martin Space Systems. All the launches are due between 2002 and 2004.
Editor's note: In May, ILS officials told Space-Launcher.com that only 3 Atlas 2 vehicles were still available for commercial launches. Since then, ILS has assigned one of them to the launch of Hispasat 1D. With this new series of contract, all Atlas 2 launches have now been booked and ILS will have to propose its new Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 series for all upcoming bids.
 
 
July 20
Boeing posted sales worth US$14.8 billion during the 2nd quarter of 2000, with earnings amounting to US$620 million. These earnings were negatively impacted by a US$34-miillion one-time charge to prepare for the launch of a dummy payload on the third Delta 3 on August 23.
July 19
Arianespace has decided to postpone its next launch (V131) from August 11 to August 17 for "operational reasons", presumably to allow additional pre-launch processing for one of the payloads. Preparation of the Ariane 44LP vehicle for this flight has begun in Kourou on July 12. August 17 was actually the date previously planned for the mission but it had been tentatively brought forward by mid July after the previous flight (V130), with an Ariane 5G, was postponed from late July to early September.
July 18
Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (Cancom), the main customer for Telesat Canada's Anik F1 satellite, reports that the HS-702-type satelite is undergoing final pre-launch testing at Hughes Space & Communications' facilities in El Segundo, California, and will be shipped to French Guiana in September to be ready for launch anytime after mid-October on an Ariane vehicle provided by Arianespace.
July 18
One Stop Satellite Solutions (OSSS) has signed a MoU with MKK Kosmotras and Thiokol Propulsion, acting as Kosmotras marketing agent, to cooperate on small satellite integration management atop Dnepr vehicles. OSSS will provide integration of several small satellites into a single payload module based on its multi-payload adapter first flown on January 26 on the maiden flight of the Minotaur launch vehicle. The first Dnepr launch with such a multi-payload adapter is due in March 2001 with a OSSS technology satellite among the planned payloads Under the agreement, OSSS will have access to one Dnepr launch per year through 2007.
July 18
The U.S. administration denies earlier reports from Russia regarding the lifting of commercial launch quotas. Although the U.S. and Russian delegations have agreed thet there were no economic obstacles to canceling restrictions on the use of Russian launch vehicles for launching U.S.-built satellites, the U.S. administration will not formalize any agreement unless Russia can provide guarantees for non-proliferation issues.
July 15
The launch of a first pair of Cluster 2 plasma science satellites on a Starsem Soyuz-Fregat vehicle was scrubbed less than one minute before liftoff by an automated sequencer. If the problem can be corrected, the launch could be conducted on July 16.
July 14
Rosaviakosmos announces that an agreement has been reached with the U.S. administration to lift the existing quotas on commercial launches by Russian launch systems.
July 14
Sea Launch's 'Odyssey' launch platform and 'Sea Launch Commander' assembly & command ship (ACS) will leave the company's Homeport in Long Beach, California, on July 16 for a 11-day cruise to the launch area by 154°W on the Equator. The 'Odyssey' is carrying a fully assembled Zenit 3SL with its payload, PanAmSat's PAS-9 satellite. Launch is due on July 28.
Editor's note: Last Zenit 3SL launch ended in failure on March 12 due to a computer glitch that affected the attitude control verniers on the vehicle's second stage. Following completion of the failure investigation on May 22, a Return-to-Flight Readiness Review was conducted in early June clearing the way to flight resumption.
 


   
Ariane 5G and Ariane 44LP
(Arianespace)
July 13
Arianespace has decided to postpone its third Ariane 5 commercial flight after an anomaly was detected on an Attitude Control System (SCA) during long-duration tests in Germany as part of the development of a new maneuvering upper stage, known as the EPS/V ("Versatile"). The V130 flight, with the L506 Ariane 5G vehicle, was planned on July 25. It will be delayed to early September in order to allow additional checks on the vehicle's own SCA. The V131 flight, previously due on August 17 with an Ariane 44LP, has been brought forward to August 11.
Editor's note: The SCA is located on the Ariane 5G's vehicle equipment bay around the storable propellant upper stage (EPS). The SCA provides roll control for the whole vehicle after separation of the Solid Booster Stages (EAPs) and 3-axis control during the EPS burn and separation of the payloads.
 
 
July 6
Due to a two-month delay in the development of a bell-shaped liquid hydrogen tank for the ESC-A cryogenic upper stage, Arianespace and CNES, the French space agency, have decided to postpone the introduction of the new Ariane 5ECA variant of Ariane 5 from December 2001 to February 2002.
Editor's note: With a payload capability of 10 tons to geostationary transfer orbit, the Ariane 5ECA will be able to perform dual launches even with the heaviest payloads planned for the 2002/2003 timeframe.
July 4
Spain's Hispasat SA has selected International Launch Services (ILS) to loft its new Hispasat 1D satellite onto a geostationary transfer orbit in the last quarter of 2002. The 3-ton satellite, to be built by Alcatel Space Industries, will be launched by an Atlas vehicle.
July 2nd
Range conflict with the launch of the Zvezda resource module to the International Space Station, now scheduled on July 12 atop a three-stage Proton K, has forced the European Space Agency and Starsem to postpone the launch of the first pair of Cluster 2 plasma science satellites atop a Soyuz-Fregat vehicle to July 15. Both launches are due from Baykonur, Kazakhstan.

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 Government Launchers

July 31
NASA's Kennedy Space Center invites launch service providers to issue bids for its NASA Launch Services (NLS) procurement. Although two Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts have already been awarded to Boeing Delta Launch Services Inc. and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services on June 16, the competition remains open for ten years.
Editor's note: The NLS procurement, potentially worth up to a total of US$5 billion, covers up to 70 missions, three of which have already been slated for launch on Delta 2 vehicles.
July 31
Astrotech Space Operations was awarded a US$479,600 contract by NASA's Kennedy Space Center to provide launch site payload processing services for NASA's Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) and CONAE's Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas C (SAC-C) earth-observation satellites in Vandenberg AFB. EO-1 and SAC-C are due for launch in November atop a Delta 2-7320-10C vehicle.
Editor's note: This launch, previously expected on October 17, has been delayed for about one year. It will be the first to use the new Dual Payload Attach Fittings (DPAF) developped by Astrium Ltd.
July 26
The next launch of a Lockheed Martin Titan 4B from Vandenberg AFB has been delayed to August 16 at the earliest and might well slip to September as an unidentified problem was reported on its payload, a large classified imaging satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). This delay should affect the schedule for the launch of a Titan 23G due to loft the US$156-million NOAA-L civilian meteorological satellite from a nearby launch pad.
July 22
Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Missiles & Space Operations has shipped the 12th of 14 third generation Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS-3) spacecraft to Cape Canaveral to prepare for a launch slated on October 12. The DSCS-3B11 spaceraft is due to ride an Atlas 2A vehicle fitted with an Integrated Apogee Boost System (IABS) upper stage.
 


   
Titan 4B and Titan 23G
(Lockheed Martin)
July 20
The U.S. Air Force has decided to postpone the launch of a classified military imaging satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) atop a Titan 4B (B-28) vehicle from August 1st to August 11 in order to fix a minor leakage reported on an hydraulic actuator for one of the vehicle's two Solid Rocket Motor Upgrade (SRMU) boosters. This postponement will bump a planned Titan 23G launch initially due on August 18 from a nearby launch pad in Vandenberg AFB. For obvious safety reasons, the US$156-million NOAA-L meteorological satellite will be mated on the booster at SLC-4W only after the Titan 4B has successfully lifted off from SLC-4E. The Titan 23G launch is now slated for September 12
 
 
July 14
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to fly its first GSLV launch vehicle by late December or early 2001, according to ISRO's chairman, Dr. K. Kasturirangan. An exact launch date will be set depending on the actual pre-launch processing. On its first flight, the GSLV will feature a Russian-built cryogenic upper stage supplied by GKNPTs Khrunichev.
July 11
The U.S. Senate is considering major cuts on the U.S. Department of Defense's FY2001 budget requirement for space transportation programs. The Senate proposes to cut US$85 million from the US$469.7-million budget for Titan 4 launches and US$12 million from the US$288-million budget planned for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles. According to DoD officials, such cutbacks would delay Titan 4 launches for Milstar 2 (communications), Defense Support Program (early warning) and U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (imaging) satellites and force the U.S. Air Force to postpone one of the three EELV launches currently planned for 2003 to loft satellites for the Defense Satellite Comminication System (DSCS), the Defense Support Program (DSP) and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).
July 11
The U.S. Air Force has authorized Boeing Expendable Launch Services to begin production of the first Delta 4 launch vehicle procured on behalf of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract. This Delta 4M ('Medium') vehicle is due for launch in May 2002 to loft a Defense Satellite Communications System 3 (DSCS-3) satellite to geostationary transfer orbit.
Editor's note: A demonstration flight of the Delta 4 will have to be conducted prior to this flight. Boeing has scheduled it for April 2001 and claimed that it would carry a commercial payload. The U.S. Air Force has ordered 19 flights on Boeing's Delta 4 including two for the heavy-lift version. Boeing has set its goal at taking over 30 to 50% of the accessible launch market.
July 7
Russia's long-delayed Zvezda resource module has been fuelled and mated to its three-stage Proton K vehicle in preparation for its launch now set on July 12. Success of this launch is mandatory for the assembly of the International Space Station. The Proton was cleared for launch after fluctuating chamber pressure detected on the upgraded RD-0210 engines flown on the second stage of the latest Proton vehicle on July 4 have been put down to an errant sensor.

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 Small Launchers

July 31
ImageSat International announces that it has raised US$90 million in capital to fund the EROS (Earth Remote-sensing Observation Satellite) commercial project. US$65 million come from group of U.S. investors led by Pegasus Capital Advisors while the remaining US$25 million was provided by a group of French investors. These funds will allow to launch the first spacecraft in the 8-satellite constellation before year-end atop a Start 1 vehicle. The other satellites are due for launch between 2001 and 2003. Two more launches on Start have already been booked through United Start Corp.
Editor's note: ImageSat is a holding company owned 44% by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI) which builds the EROS satellites, 12% by Electro-Optics Industries Ltd. (El-Op) which supplies the imaging payload, and 44% by U.S.-based Core Software Technologies. The satellites will be owned by West Indian Space, which is owned by the same industrial partners as ImageSat.
July 31
Spaceflight Now reports that controllers of DLR's CHAMP satellite believe the Astrium-built spacecraft was hit by the payload fairing of its Kosmos 3M booster during launch on July 15. The mishap resulted in the failure of two Earth/Sun sensors possibly resulting in an increase consumption of nitrogen for attitude control. However, DLR still considers CHAMP's five-year mission to be achievable.
July 28
RapidEye AG has issued a request for proposal for the launch of its four-satellite RapidEye constellation in 2002. The 380-kg satellites will be built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
July 7
Astrotech Space Operations conducts a demonstration flight of its new Oriole suborbital launch vehicle from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. During its 10-minute flight, the Oriole reached an altitude of 368.5 km before it impacted in the Atlantic Ocean, 531 km downrange. The Oriole was developed under private funding by Astrotech, a unit of Spacehab, to loft science payloads or target vehicles onto suborbital trajectories. The vehicle is powered by a 92-kN GEM-22 graphite epoxy solid rocket motor developed by Alliant Missile Products, a subsidiary of ATK. On this first flight, the Oriole vehicle and its 316-kg instrumentation payload were boosted by a Terrier Mk12 solid rocket motor.
A video of the launch is available here.

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 Missile Systems

July 25
According to U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, testifying before the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee, a limited National Missile Defense (NMD) system would prevent "nuclear blackmail" against the United States and could "enhance deterrence and improve stability." Although admitting that results of the recent summit between North and South Korea are "encouraging", a "substantial threat" still exists from other countries and has even been acknowledged by Russian authorities. According to Cohen, Iran, Iraq and Libya are still working on a long-range missile capability. The cost of NMD quoted by Cohen amounted to US$20.3 billion through FY2007 and would cover the deployment of 100 Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) and the building of radar stations in Alaska, Great-Britain and Greenland. Of that cost, US$5.7 billion was appropriated prior to FY2001.
July 24
Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) is preparing to test launch a Topol M (RS-12M2) intercontinental ballistic missile within days. The test flight, initially planned for July 20/21 but delayed for unknown reasons, will be the first from a ground-based launch system as all previous Topol M test flights were conducted from silos according to the Interfax press agency.
 



North Korea's Teapo Dong
July 21
According to Russian foreign minister Georgi Ivanov, the recent proposal by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to stop the Taepo Dong long range missile program in exchange for international assistance to loft satellites to orbit does not mean that North Korea would receive missiles or missile technology to independently launch its satellites. Instead, North Korea would like other nations to launch its satellites.
 
 
July 21
Russian president Vladimir Putin has transmitted Russia's proposals on the basic directions for negotations of the Start 3 disarmament treaty to his U.S. counterpart William J. Clinton. According to Russian foreign minister Georgi Ivanov, Russia is willing to negotiate further reductions of its nuclear weapons stockpile on condition of preservation and strengthening of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which prevents the U.S. from deploying its proposed National Missile Defense (NMD) system.
July 19
According to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who met the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a two-day trip in the country, North Korea is ready to shelve its Taepo Dong long range missile program if "other nations provided it with rocket boosters for space exploration."
July 17
According to Izvestia, Russia's Defense minister, Marshal Igor Sergeyev, and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff, General Anatoli Kvashnin, met Russian president Valdimir Putin to discuss a plan to reduce the number of Russia's land-based missile-launchers from 756 to 150 by 2003 and to merge the Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) into the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Defense minister opposes the plan while president Putin claims that threr is no imminent restructuring of the RVSN at this point.
Editor's note: According to defense analysts, due to its dramatic cash-strapped situation, Russia may have to decide severe cutbacks in its missile forces in the coming years. Some U.S. congressmen even consider that it is useless to negotiate the Start 3 disarmament treaty with Russia since the Russian nuclear arsenal will be reduced even with no similar move on the U.S. side.
July 15
Iranian Revolutionary Guard's air forces conduct the second test flight of the Shahab 3 single-stage medium-range ballistic missile. Based on North Korea's Nodong 2 missile, the Shahab 3 has a reported range of 1,300 km with a 800-kg warhead and could target Israel or U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia according to Western analysts. They also estimate that Iran will have the capability to build nuclear weapons by 2005 and nuclear warheads for the Shahab missiles before 2010. Operational introduction of the Shahab 3 is expected in 2002.
Editor's note: The initial test launch of the Shahab 3 missile, on July 21, 1998, exploded about 100 sec. into flight due to a system failure. Iran is believed to have received missile technology from Russia and China to develop the Shahab 3. Iran also is working on the 2,000-km-range Shahab 4 rocket, possibly a derivative of North Korea's Taepo Dong, officially to be used only to launch satellites into space.
July 13
As part of a vote that approved the US$310-billion defense authorization bill, the U.S. Senate has voted (52/48) against a proposed measure that would have required further testing of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system, mainly against efficient decoys and countermeasures, prior to any decision whether to proceed with its deployment. The senators also rejected (81/18) an amendement that would have cancelled a US$463-million budget to maintain the Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missile system.
July 10
Three different malfunctions have been reported regarding the failed third interception test of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system on July 8, none of which is actually related to the Boeing-built Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). The Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) apparently failed to send a signal to the EKV that would have triggered the interception process, else the EKV did not separate from the PLV's upper stage and shut down itself at the end of its programmed timeline. Some sources also report that the upper stage eventually tumbled out of control, possibly due to a battery problem. Meanwhile a balloon decoy lofted by a Minuteman 2 vehicle also carrying a mock warhead and radar targets failed to inflate properly. According to U.S. Department of Defense officials, the failure does not affect the timetable for a decision whether to proceed with a full-scale development and deployment of the NMD. U.S. Defense Secretary still plans to provide its recommendation to the U.S. President in August. A fourth interception test could be conducted as soon as October.
 


   
A Minuteman 2 and a PLV
(BMDO)
July 8
The third interception test of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system, conducted on behalf of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, ends in failure as the Boeing-built Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) apparently failed to separate from the upper stage of its booster, a Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV). Under the US$100-million Integrated Flight Test 5 (IFT-5) operation, the EKV was launched from Kwajalein Missile Range, Marshall Islands, to intercept an incoming dummy warhead launched 20 minutes earlier onto a 7,000-km trajectory by a Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg AFB, California. The EKV precedently scored a successful interception on October 2, 1999 and a failure due to faulty sensor cooling system on January 19. Officially, the U.S. Department of Defense still plans to recommend the deployment of the NMD in the coming weeks but, following this second failure, any actual decision to field the NMD is unlikely before more successful tests are completed and will thus be postponed months beyond the U.S. elections at the end of this year.
Editor's note: Test flights of the Ground-Based Interceptor, the EKV's operational booster, have recently been postponed from July and September to October and November.
 
 
July 5
Greenpeace has established a media center near Vandenberg AFB, California, to demonstrate against the third U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) interception test planned on July 7 evening (local time). According to Greenpeace, the NMD "will ignite a new nuclear arms race." Greenpeace also plans to send its MV Arctic Sunrise ship into the danger zone off Vandenberg to prevent the launch of a Minuteman 2 ballistic missile carrying a dummy warhead to Kwajalein to serve as a target for the interception test.
July 4
Iran has built five launch pads for ballistic missiles according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
July 1st
According to the Washington Times, quoting a June 8 report from the U.S. National Security Agency, Russia is selling missile technology and components to North Korea. Missile component companies in Russia and Kazakhstan are said to provide missile technologies, including a special aluminum alloy, laser gyroscopes, connectors and relays, to Changgwang Sinyong, a government-owned North Korean company. Russian and North Korean companies are also cooperating for the delivery of Scud B missile components to Yemen. The NSA also reports that Russia is providing nuclear weapons components (mainly tritium gas) to Iran.
Editor's note: Washington Times' allegations come just in time to fuel the debate regarding the end of commercial launch quotas for Russia as negotiations, currently underway in Washington, D.C., are reportedly tied to non-proliferation issues.
July 1st
Iraq has resumed ballistic missile developments according to the New York Times. At least eight test flights of the Al Samoud short-range ballistic missile have been conducted recently by Iraq. The 150-km-range missile does not violate United Nations restrictions imposed after the Gulf War but it clearly shows that development have resumed in facilities which had reportedly been destroyed in 1998 by U.S. and British air strikes.

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 RLVs and Reentry Systems

July 29
NASA's X-34 hypersonic demonstrator suffered minor landing gear tire damage during its fifth two-test in Edwards AFB.
July 24
NASA's X-34 hypersonic demonstrator has undergone two more tow-tests on Edwards AFB's runway to check the vehicle's autonomous behavior before actual test flights. The Orbital Sciences-built demonstrator was towed behind a truck and released at speeds of 16 and then 48 km/h. Twelve such tests are planned during which the X-34 will be towed for distances up to 3,000 m and released at speeds up to 130 km/h. The test series is expected to last at least six weeks.
 



X-34 hypersonic test vehicle
(DFRC)
July 20
NASA's X-34 hypersonic demonstrator is beginning a six-week campaign of tow-tests on Edwards AFB's runway to check the vehicle's autonomous behavior before actual test flights. The Orbital Sciences-built demonstrator was towed twice behind a truck and released at speeds of 8 and then 16 km/h. The tests are actually due to simulate the vehicle's roll-out after landing, in order to check its guidance and navigation system, nose wheel steering, braking, rudder speed brake operation and rudder steering. Twelve such tests are planned during which the X-34 will be towed for distances up to 3,000 m and released at speeds up to 130 km/h.
 
 
July 19
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center officially releases a Request for Information regarding risk reduction for 2nd generation Reusable Launch Vehicles under its new Space Launch Initiative (SLI) program. The target objective is to improve vehicle reliability up to 99.99% while reducing operations costs to US$2,000 per kg or less. The RFI focuses on potential convergence between NASA and commercial mission needs as well as technological and operational requirements, while improving the competeitiveness of the U.S. launch industry, providing an alternate access vehicle to the International Space Station and enabling future evolutions to address "all critical mission requirements that may emerge." NASA plans to solicit proposals in the last quarter of 2000 to initiate systems engineering and requirements definition to further define requirements for commercial and NASA missions.
July 14
NASA has decided to extend the Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP) for Orbiter Vehicle Columbia by more than a month to allow additional testing of its wiring at U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. Columbia was planned to be ferried back to Kennedy Space Center in late September but will actually stay in California till early November. During its OMDP, Columbia was the second space shuttle orbiter (after Atlantis) to be fitted with a state-of-the-art "glass cockpit."
July 13
A systemic problem has been reported on NASA's spacesuits that may cause delays in all upcoming Space Shuttle flights. A contamination by hydrocarbon was detected on a spacesuit's secondary oxygene package regulator in June. In case this backup system would have been activated during a spacewalk, it could have set the spacesuit on fire.
Editor's note: Two spacesuits are required on each shuttle flight in order to conduct a spacewalk in case the payload bay doors cannot be closed normally before reentry.
July 10
According to the China News Agency and Hong Kong-based Chinese newspaper Mingpao, China still plans several unmanned test flights of its Shenzhou man-rated spacecraft prior to a first manned flight, possibly in 2002.
 



The X-38 (V131R) arrives at Dryden
(DFRC)
July 10
The refurbished initial subscale prototype of NASA's X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) demonstrator, Vehicle 131R, will be shipped back from Johnson Space Center in Houston to Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards AFB, California, on July 11. The former Vehicle 131 has been modified to evaluate the new X-38 aerodynamic shape, designed by France's Dassault Aviation, as well as to test its 735-sq.m parafoil with the new shape. With Vehicle 131R, NASA also plans to demonstrate European Space Agency's guidance and navigation software to be used on the actual CRV. A captive flight is planned for September, to be followed by a drop-test in the last quarter of 2000.
 
 



NASA's X-37
(NASA)
July 7
NASA is looking for passenger payloads to fly onboard its X-37 reusable spaceplane demonstrator which is planned to be released in-orbit by the Space Shuttle in late 2002. The 5.4-t vehicle, built by Boeing, can carry up to 225-kg of payload. Part of this capability on the first flight will be taken by flight instrumentation but a second flight is also scheduled.
 
 
July 6
Starchaser Industries Ltd. has successfully completed the first test flight of the emergency escape system for its Thunderbird suborbital manned rocket. The test, conducted from Morcambe Bay, Great Britain, involved the two-stage, 6.7-m long Starchaser-Discovery (formerly Starchaser 3a) rocket which actually flew to an altitude of 6 km. Starchaser, which gained sponsorship from The Discovery Channel, is competing for the Us$10-million X-Prize which will reward the first privately-funded reusable vehicle to carry 3-people to an altitude above 100 km twice in 14 days.

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 Space Propulsion

July 31
NASA issues an order to Boeing to stop all work on the 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 in order to rescind Boeing's contract and to transfer the work to another contractor. A decision is expected on August 18 regarding a new USPM concept. Three options have been proposed: a simple monopropellant reboost package, a redesigned Node with propellant tanks and an engine ('Node-X'), or a new vehicle incorporating a crew transfer tunnel.
July 31
SpaceDev Inc. reports that it has been granted two awards worth more than US$400,000 each buy the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to continue its studies on hybrid rocket motors design and development. This is a follow-on to a contract awarded by NRO in 1999 for studies on advanced hybrid rocket applications and Maneuvering And Transfer Vehicles (MATVs) which could fly on the Space Shuttle. This contract was completed in March. SpaceDev also received a US$200,000 grant by California's Western Commercial Space Center (WCSC) to support the building and equipment of its satellite and space vehicle manufacturing facilities.
July 27
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center plans to award a follow-on contract to the University of Maryland's Department of Aerospace Engineering to complete the development of a Micro-Newton Thrust Stand through November 2001. The stand will be used to test 1-10 mN thrusters and provide thrust measurements with a precision of +/- 0.1 mN in order to support nanosat formation flying programs requiring precise thrust levels and impulse requirements to this level.
July 21
Pratt&Whitney Space Propulsion has acquired Space Power Inc., of Sunnyvale, California, a manufacturer of high-performance electric propulsion systems, such as Hall effect thrusters, for satellite orbit transfer and stationkeeping.
 



LE-7A at test
(NASDA)
July 12
Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) confirms its plans to launch its first H-2A vehicle on a test flight in February 2001 despite a mishap during the second on-pad captive firing of the vehicle's LE-7A core stage engine. During the test, which involved the full-scale H-2A Ground Test Vehicle (GTV-1) on July 5, a faulty valve in the engine's liquid hydrogen turbopump failed to close properly.
Editor's note: The primary payload for the H-2A's maiden flight will be European Space Agency's Advanced Relay and Technology Mission Satellite (Artemis).
 
 
July 10
NASA's Glenn Research Center plans to order high temperature NiAl nozzle liners from Plasma Processes Inc. to test a 'revolutionary' rocket engine concept jointly developed with Williams International. The tests are currently planned in December 2000 and January 2001 .
July 5
NASA's Langley Research Center is about to awrad a study contract for a low-speed engine that could serve as a booster for future air-breathing hypersonic Vision vehicles. The purpose of this study will be to evaluate conventional and innovative cycles to identify the propulsion system that achieves aircraft system requirements based on previous studies that compared an afterburning turbojet and an Air Core Enhanced Turboramjet (AceTR) cycle engines. The Vision concept is a 1.2-m diameter engine planned for a 2020 vehicle Initial Operational Capability.
 



A laser-powered "Lightcraft"
(NASA/AFRL)
July 5
NASA and U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory plans to conduct a series of research flights with tiny laser-propelled "Lightcraft" in mid-August at U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range. The tests will involve U.S. Army's 10-kW pulsed-carbon-dioxide laser to zip 50-gram experimental vehicles over the desert.
 
 

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 Spaceports

July 21
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has renewed its protests regarding the building of a US$100-million spaceport by Beal Aerospace Technologies Inc. in the Waini region of Essequibo County, a major part of Guyana which is claimed by Venezuela. According to Chavez, the spaceport facilities could be used for military purposes and will be protected by U.S. military troops. Guyanese prime minister Sam Hinds denied the Venezuelan presidents allegation claiming that the spaceport will be sued only for commercial purposes, to launch Beal's BA-2 rocket, and that no provision has been made in the agreement for the presence of U.S. troops at the site.
July 18
Two train cars carrying propellant-loaded segments for the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters have derailed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center during a transfer from a storage yard to a processing facility. The two cars, each carrying a single segment, were part of a train carrying a total of six segments. The derailment occured at a speed of 5 km/h and damaged 10 m of tracks. No damage was reported on the segments.
July 14
The government of Guyana has decided to proceed with the building of a US$100-million spaceport by Beal Aerospace Technologies Inc. in the Waini region of Essequibo County, despite protests by Venezuela. Beal plans to use the spaceport to launch its BA-2 vehicle.
Editor's note: Venezuela has issued a series of protests against the project as Essequibo County, although located within the internationnally admitted borders of Guyana, is part of an area claimed by Venezuela.
July 11
NASA's Kennedy Space Center has conducted a series of field studies in Florida that could result into less constraining weather-related launch criteria for the Space Shuttle and expendable launch vehicles.
July 6
The Alaska Aerospace Development Corp. is seeking firms to provide launch support services at its Kodiak Launch Complex in Narrow Cape, Kodiak Island, Alaska.

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 Industry

July 25
Boeing and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have signed a new agreement to broaden their cooperation on the International Space Station. This agreement includes a range of U.S. payload integration for the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV), an automated resupply vehicle developed by Mitsubishi for the National Space Development Agency of Japan. The HTV is due to be launched atop a H-2A/212 vehicle begining in early 2004.
July 21
Lockheed Martin Space Systems posted sales worth US$1,780 million during the 2nd quarter of 2000 with earnings amounting to US$128 million. These results were higher than in 1999 as a result of previously anticipated Titan 4 contract modifications and the absence of additional charges related to 1999 Titan 4 failures. However, these results were negatively impacted by the expensing of start-up costs associated with the Atlas 5 program. Since the beginning of the year, Lockheed Martin Space Systems results have also been affected by a US$35-million charge on the Atlas program related to "market and pricing pressures" in the 1st quarter of 2000, as well as a more conservative assessment of future program performance on the Titan 4 program and lower volume on government launches.
Editor's note: The US$35-million charge on the Atlas program might be related to the complimentary price Eutelsat paid to launch its Eutelsat W4 satellite on the first Atlas 3A. According to some unofficial sources, the launch was sold for a mere US$35 million.
July 21
Alenia Aerospazio has signed a cooperative agreement with RKK Energiya regarding the supply of docking systems and related control avionics for European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). Alenia Aerospazio is subcontractor to EADS Launch Vehicles to provide the ATV's pressurized module which will hold the RKK Energiya-built docking module on its front end.
July 18
The U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Security Service (DSS) has officially withdrawn the Cogswell Award for Outstanding Industrial Security given to Loral Space & Communications on July 17 as the company is still under investigation for allegedly providing sensitive rocket technologies to China.
Editor's note: According to the Cox Report, as part of the investigation on the loss of the Intelsat 708 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, on the maiden flight of China's CZ-3B launch vehicle in February 1996, Loral may have supplied guidance technologies to Chinese industries which might have been used to improve the accuracy of Chinese ballistic missiles.
July 17
GenCorp and United Technologies Corp. have signed a letter of intent regarding the merger of their space propulsion units, namely Aerojet and Pratt&Whitney Space Propulsion, to form a new space propulsion company. A definitive merger agreement is expected before the end of the year. Pratt&Whitney would control the new venture while GenCorp would get 20% of the stocks and an amount in cash for most of Aerojet's space propulsion businesses, some of which will be relocated from the current Sacramento, California, facilities.
July 11
Aerospatiale Matra Lanceurs has been renamed EADS Launch Vehicles to reflect the merger of Aerospatiale Matra into the European Aeronautics, Defence & Space Company (EADS).
July 7
The European Aeronautics, Defence & Space Company NV (EADS) was officially incorporated in Amsterdam. As part of the European aerospace industry restructuring process, EADS will take over Aerospatiale Matra, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA) in the coming days. Initial Public Offering is due on July 10.

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 Launch Market

July 28
Castle Harlan Inc., which had proposed to acquire the Iridium system for US$50 million, has dropped its bid because it doubted the bankrupt US$5-billion venture would be able to produce steady revenues.
July 27
NASA eventually selected the Mars Exploration Program Rover as its baseline mission to Mars to be launched on June 4, 2003. The 150-kg rover, designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Cornell University, will be based on the former Mars 2003 Athena rover design and will perform a hard-landing under the protection of an airbag cocoon, like the Mars Pathfinder probe in 1996. Launch of the US$350-million mission will be conducted on a Delta 2 vehicle. Actually, NASA is now reviewing the option of sending two such rovers to two different locations. The second rover would be launched about one week after the first one, on a separate Delta 2 vehicle for an additional US$150 million. A final decision on the number of rovers is expected within weeks.
Editor's note: The Mars Exploration Program Rover was in competition with the Lockheed Martin-built Mars Surveyor Orbiter, a scientific orbiter simlilar in size to the current Mars Global Surveyor but with a ground imaging resolution capability of 60 cm.
July 27
Boeing and GKNPTs Khrunichev have announced their plans to develop and launch a Commercial Space Module (CSM) for the International Space Station. The 20,000-kg module, presumably based on the FGB-2 hull manufactured by Khrunichev as a back-up for the original Zarya (FGB) module, could be readied for launch atop a three-stage Proton K vehicle by mid-2002. The CSM could deliver up to 3,000 kg of goods and propellant to the ISS and provide up to 20 cu.m of stowage volume. It could accomodate both internal and external experiments. The CSM's final configuration, capabilities and value will be determined as the team works with potential customers and investors over the next several months. Private capital will be used to fund the effort.
July 26
According to NASA Watch, NASA is about to cancel the Pluto-Kuiper Express mission due to tight budget constraints related the the higher-than-planned cost of the Europa Orbiter mission and possible extra-costs for future Mars missions.
Editor's note: Pluto-Kuiper Express is tentatively planned for launch in December 2004 atop an Atlas 5 or Delta 4 vehicle with a Thiokol Star 48V kick motor.
July 26
Russia's Zvezda resource module successfully docked with the embryonic International Space Station at 00:45Z. This major milestone in the assembly of the US$60-billion manned orbital outpost clears the way for all much-delayed further assembly flights with 3 dedicated Space Shuttle flights due in 2000, 6 in both 2001 and 2002, 5 in both 2003 and 2004, and up to 8 in 2005.
July 25
British National Space Center has selected three small and micro satellite projects to be developed by British space industry to demonstrate new technologies under its £15-million (US$22-million) Micro Satellite Applications in Collaboration (Mosaic) program. The projects are Gemini, a 300-400-kg low-cost geostationary communication satellite to be developped by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.; Topsat, a project led by the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency and based on a 100-kg enhanced microsatellite bus provided by SSTL to demonstrate direct broadcasting of high resolution remote sensing data; and the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), a network of five 70-kg microsatellites to be developped by SSTL in partnership with China's Tsinghua University .
Editor's note: Topsat is tentatively planned for launch piggyback, possibly on on an Ariane 5 vehicle circa 2003. The baseline DMC deployment scenario is based on a single launch by a Dnepr 1 vehicle provided by MKK Kosmotras.
July 18
MirCorp announces that it plans to launch an unmanned Progress M cargo spacecraft to Mir during the 4th quarter of 2000 as well as two long-duration flights onboard Soyuz TM spacecships in early 2001 and mid-2001. This second mission will include a paying "Citizen Explorer" cosmonaut, U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito, who will spend about 10 days in the station and return to Earth with the previous crew.
July 18
The worldwide market for expendable launch vehicles (ELVs) will amount to about US$97 billion over the 2000-2019 period according to a report prepared by Forecast International/DMS.
July 18
Alcatel Space was awarded a contract by GE Americom to design and build four large communication satellites to be launched from late 2000 on. The 4-to-5-ton spacecraft will be the first to use Alcatel's new Spacebus 4000 high performance platform which features SPT Mk2 plasma thrusters for station keeping. Although Alcatel will be in charge of in-orbit deployment of the satellites, GE Americom will buy launch services on its own.
Editor's note: These four satellites are reportedly not the GE*Star Ka-band satellites for which GE Americom had selected Harris Corp. as prime with a proposal based on Alcatel's Spacebus platform.
July 17
The launch schedule for future Russian components of the International Space Station is overoptimistic according to RKK Energiya deputy general designer Yuri Grigoryev. Work on the elements to be launched beyond Docking Module 1 is practically at a standstill due to an acute shortage of funds, says Grigoryev who suggests a major revision of the schedule or the number of elements planned for the Russian part of the ISS.
 
Current Launch Schedule for the Russian ISS Modules
 Mission  Module  Launcher  Date
 ISS-1R  Zvezda (Resource Module)  Proton K  July 12, 2000
 ISS-4R  Docking Module 1  Soyuz U  Mar. 28, 2001
 ISS-3R  Universal Docking Module  Proton K  Oct. 2003
 ISS-5R  Docking Module 2  Soyuz U  Oct. 2003
 ISS-9R  Docking & Stowage Module  Proton K  Apr. 2004
 ISS-8R  Research Module 1  Soyuz U  Nov. 2005
 ISS-10R  Research Module 2  Soyuz U  May 2006
July 16
China has warned France that the sale of the RoCSat 2 remote sensing satellite to Taiwan would have a negative impact on relations between the two countries. RoCSat 2 is being manufactured by Astrium SAS (former Matra Marconi Space-France) under a US$70-million contract. An initial contract with Dornier Satellitensysteme (now Astrium GmbH) was cancelled as the German government did not provide in-time export clearance.
Editor's note: RoCSat 2 is tentatively planned for launch in 2003 atop a Rokot KM vehicle to be provided by Eurockot.
July 15
China's Tsinghua University is developing a nanosatellite, THNS-1, for remote sensing applications. The less-than-10-kg spacecraft will be launched piggyback in late 2001.
July 15
According to French aerospace weekly Air&Cosmos, CNES is studying the possibility to fly a Mars Sample Return Demonstration Mission in 2005. The mission will use half the capacity of an Ariane 5ECA vehicle and will demonstrate aerocapture in the Martian atmosphere as well as rendezvous and capture techniques in Martian orbit. This mission would pave the way to a full-scale Mars Sample Return Mission in 2007.
July 14
Under the TechSat 21 program, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a US$35-million contract to ITN Energy Systems Inc. for design, manufacturing and in-flight testing of a three-microsatellite constellation that will fly in formation before November 2004. Each microsatellite will weigh about 120 kg.
July 11
ICO-Teledesic Global Ltd., the holding incorporated by Craig McCaw to manage his investments in ICO Global Telecommunications and Teledesic, announced a series of investment agreements totaling more than US$315 billion from several major investors, including Eagle River Investments LLC, Indian businessman Subhash Chandra and Burtington Resources Inc. Leading investors are Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. (CD&R), providing US$150 million, and Bill Gates' own Cascade Investment LLC for another US$100 million. At least US$2.1 million are still needed to initiate operational service with the ICO satellites in 2003. New plans for the deployment of the ICO and Teledesic constellations are expected shortly. All ICO launches have been postponed to next year at the earliest.
Editor's note: Initial reports stated that new investors had agreed to pt US$1 billion in the venture.
July 7
Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI) has reportedly been selected as prime contractor for two military imaging satellite systems for Turkey and Singapore based on its Ofeq design already flown on behalf of Tsahal. Turkey is said to have a ordered a single satellite under a US$274-million (US$208-million?) contract. Turkey denied the deal, saying that negotiations were still in progress with various candidate contractors. Another bid, by Alcatel Space, worth US$350 million, has also been reported. Singapore is planning a more ambitious system, worth US$1 billion with a constellation of four to five satellites.
July 6
The China Meteorological Administration plans to develop and launch 10 advanced meteorological satellites over the next 10 years.
July 4
According to Hong Kong-based Chinese newspapers Wen Wei Po and Mingpao, quoted by Go Taikonauts, China is preparing for the second unmanned test flight of its Shenzhou man-rated spaceship in October. The Chinese-built Soyuz derivative will be flown from Jiuquan atop a CZ-2F launcher.
 


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