News of August 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

August 31
The launch campaign for the third commercial flight of Arianespace's Ariane 5 (V130) has resumed in Kourou. The L506 vehicle, an Ariane 5G, has been rolled back to the Final Assembly Building where it will be mated with its two payloads, Société Européenne des Satellites' Astra 2B and GE Americom's GE-7. The launch campaign had been put on hold in mid-July in order to conduct tests on the thrusters of the launcher's Attitude Control System (SCA) after a similar thruster failed in a development test in Europe and the related investigation identified a faulty assembly of two elements as a potential weakness on existing hardware. The launch is now slated for September 14.
Editor's note: Ariane 5G's SCA provides roll control of the whole vehicle after its solid boosters have been jetissoned and 3-axis control to its upper stage during its boost phase and the release of the payloads.
August 28
Space America Inc., of Huntsville, Alabama, plans to develop the Enterprise 4 launch vehicle under private financing and targets a first launch in March 2003 with a payload capability og 4,500 kg to geostationary (transfer?) orbit. The Enterprise 4 is described as a 3-stage expendable vehicle using kerosene and liquid oxygen as propellant and will be launched from the new Virginia Space Flight Center in Wallops Island, Virginia. Commercial launches, beginning in July 2003, will be sold for US$40/45 million each according to Space America officials who also claim that break even could be reached with 4 flights per year. Work on the Enterprise 4 design is said to have begun in 1995. A subscale demonstrator, the Enterprise 1 has been under development since 1997 and is tentatively scheduled for launch in December 2001.
Editor's note: Space America has been working on NASA's Fastrac low-cost rocket engine.
August 28
Lockheed Martin Commercial Space has delivered the N-Sat 110 direct broadcasting satellite in Kourou for a launch on an Arianespace Ariane 4 vehicle "during Fall." N-Sat 110 will be jointly operated by two of Japanese satellite operators, Space Communications Corp. and JSat Corp.
August 24
Boeing claims that despite reaching a subsynchronous transfer orbit with an apogee some 5,000 km below nominal, the Delta 3's third flight was a full success. According to Boeing, "based upon the evaluation of flight data, the orbit of the simulated payload is within the expected range as corrected for vehicle drag and atmospheric conditions on the day of launch." For this mission, the Delta 3's second stage burned to propellant depletion.

DM-F3 Summy Payload Injection Orbit
 

Nominal (a)

Lowest (b)

Actual (Boeing)

Actual (NORAD)

Highest (b)
Perigee

185 km

179 km

179.5 km

190 km

181.7 km
Apogee

25,408 km

20,048 km

20,694 km

20,655 km

23,403 km
Inclination

27.5°

n.a.

27.62°

27.63°

n.a.
Arg. Per.

174.2°

n.a.

n.a.

173°

n.a.

(a) as given by Boeing before the flight. (b) as given by Boeing after the flight.
 



H-2A
(NASDA)
August 23
Japan's National Space Development Agency has conducted a 150-sec. captive firing test of the core cryogenic stage of its new H-2A vehicle. This was the 4th captive firing performed on the actual launch pad with the Ground Test Vehicle/Ground System Test (GTV-1). According to NASDA the test was successful and a chamber pressure of 122.4 bars (12.4 MPa) was reached in the LE-7A engine.
 
 
August 23
Boeing's Delta 3/8930 launch vehicle eventually met success on its third flight by lofting a 4,300-kg dummy mass onto a subsynchronous transfer orbit according to Boeing press releases. This success would clear the vehicle for future commercial flights and qualified the new cryogenic upper stage which is also planned for use on the Delta 4M vehicle. However, according to U.S. Space Command data, reported by Jonathan McDowell, the dummy spacecraft was released onto a 190 x 20,655 km orbit with a 27.63° inclination, far below the intended 183 x 25,778 km (or 185 x 25,408 km?) orbit with a 27.5° inclination. If these data are confirmed, this would mean that the vehicle underperformed significantly. Next Delta 3 flight is tentatively planned not before mid-2001.
Editor's note: The mission plan for this US$85-million demonstration flight mimicked that of the Delta 3's failed second launch on May 5, 1999. The Delta 3 had also failed on its very first mission, on August 27, 1998. Early U.S. Space Command data for the dummy payload's orbit (51 x 19,841 km x 28.05°) were obviouly wrong.
August 21
The third flight of a Boeing Delta 3/8930 vehicle, due on August 23, could be delayed as a U.S. Air Force downrange tracking station in Antigua, West Indies, had to be closed due to hurricane Debby.
 



Delta 3/8930
(Boeing)
August 16
Boeing has issued the final investigation report on the launch failure of its second Delta 3 vehicle on May 5, 1999. The report confirms that the failure was caused by a breach in the thrust chamber of the second stage's Pratt&Whitney RL10-B2 engine.
 
Download the report in pdf format.
 
 
August 15
Boeing's dummy satellite to be launched as a test payload on its third Delta 3 vehicle on August 23 will be used as a calibration target for electro-optical space imaging systems by the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
August 14
Japan's Institute for Space & Astronautical Science is reportdely considering the possibility to launch its Muses-CN asteroid probe atop a Starsem Soyuz-Fregat or Soyuz/ST vehicle in late 2002 as a back-up to its own M-5 vehicle. An ISAS delegation attended the launch of the last pair of Cluster 2 satellites from Baykonur on August 9.
Editor's note: The M-5 failed on its third flight on February 10, 2000. ISAS had to change its target for the Muses-CN mission to provide more time to qualify the M-5 for the mission. Launch was previously planned in June 2002 to the asteroid Nereus and is now due in November or December 2002 to reach the near-Earth asteroid 1998SF36 in September 2005.
August 11
Starsem's Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle demonstrated its robustness on its latest flight, on August 9, by overcoming a mishap on the third stage of the Soyuz U booster vehicle. The stage apparently failed to provide its requested velocity by some 100 m/s due to unsufficient propellant loading as the fueling process had been shortened by 5 minutes. The NPO Lavochkin-built Fregat upper stage was able to provide an additional 70/80 m/s velocity to compensate and eventually saved the mission.
August 7
Japanese newspaper Nikkei Weekly confirms that Rocket System Corp. has fully repaid Hughes Space & Communications the amount of US$36 million following the cancellation of a bulk oredr for ten satellite launches onboard the H-2A vehicle. Negotiations were completed on July 31. The amount will be funded through loans guaranteed by RSC's shareholders. Meanwhile, Space Systems/Loral, although it has not cancelled a similar bulk order, got total refund of a J¥800-million (US$7.4-million) prepayment.
Editor's note: Hughes cancelled its order in the wake of two consecutive failures of the H-2A's predecessor, the H-2, on February 21, 1998, and November 15, 1999.
August 4
Arianespace now plans to launch its next Ariane 5G vehicle on September 14. This flight (V130) was previously planned on July 25 but had to be postponed after an anomaly was pinpointed on a monopropellant thruster during a long-duration ground firing test in Europe as part of the development of the new "Versatile" Storable Propellant Upper Stage (EPS/V) to be introduced on Ariane 5ESV in 2002. The thruster was part of the Attitude Control System (SCA) mounted on the Vehicle Equipment Bay and provides roll control to the whole vehicle after separation of the solid boosters and 3-axis control during upper stage burn and payload deployment. An investigation revealed a problem in the brazing of two pieces inside the thruster and Arianespace, with Astrium which manufactures the thrusters, decided to check all similar thrusters, including those of the SCA already mounted on the Ariane 506 vehicle planned for the V130 mission, before resuming flights.
Editor's note: Arianespace's next launch remains that of an Ariane 44LP-3 on August 17 for the V131 mission.
August 1st
International Launch Services confirms the previously announced launch contract to loft Spain's Hispasat 1D satellite in the third quarter of 2002 atop an Atlas 2AS vehicle. The deal, unveiled by Hispasat SA on July 4, was reportedly concluded at a very low price, possibly lower than US$65 million according to various industry and business sources.
Editor's note: It is not clear whether this contract is considered part of the 13 launch commitments announced on July 24 by ILS. If this is the case, then ILS still has one Atlas 2AS available in its books. Among the customers identified for these launches are Astrolink LLC (presumably for 4 satellites), the new ICO/Teledesic venture (one ICO satellite, possibly removed from the Delta 3 launch manifest), GE Americom (presumably for at least 4 satellites) and Loral Space & Communications.

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 Government Launchers

August 18
The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office has reportedly awarded a US$300,000 contract to AeroAstro to develop a new standardized secondary payload adapter for piggyback launches on U.S expendable vehicles, such as Delta 2, Delta 4 or Atlas 5, as well as non-U.S. launchers, like Ariane 5, or NASA's space shuttles.
August 10
A falling debris from the CZ-4B vehicle which lofted the Zi Yuan 1 China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite on October 14, 1999, apparently caused a fire in Brittany, near the city of Rennes, on July 31. The fire reportedly destroyed facilities owned by two local companies.

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 Small Launchers

August 26
The second Dnepr 1 launch was scrubbed on its second attempt, a few minutes before liftoff. The scrub was trigerred by an abnormal reading of a pressure sensor monitoring a propellant tank on the vehicle's first stage. The launch is now postponed to late September as the vehicle will have to be extracted from its launch silo for expertise. A malfunction in the vehicle's propellant supply system has reportedly been detected
August 25
The second commercial flight of a RS-20 intercontinental ballistic missile converted into a Dnepr 1 launch vehicle was called off seconds before liftoff from a silo in Baykonur, due to a software mishap. The launch, commissioned by MKK Kosmotras to put 5 microsatellites into orbit, is postponed to August 26.
 



VS-30/Orion
(IAE/CTA)
August 21
Brazil's Space & Aeronautics Institute, part of the Aerospace Technical Center (CTA/IAE), and Germany's DLR aerospace research center, jointly launch a VS-30/Orion prototype suborbital rocket from the Alcântara Launch center in the second half of August. DLR plans to use this new vehicle, based on a Brazilian S30 solid rocket motor as first stage and an Orion motor supplied by DLR Mobile Rocket Base (Moraba) as second stage, to fly microgravity payloads as a complement for its Texus (360-kg payloads) and Mini-Texus (100-kg payloads) current launch systems. The VS-30/Orion XV01 vehicle reached an altitude of 315 km and provided about 7 minutes of microgravity conditions to its 160-kg test payload.
 
 
August 15
Go Taikonauts reports that China's 6th Academy in Inner Mongolia has completed the overall design of the solid rocket motor for the SLV-1 all-solid (partially reusable?) small launch vehicle under development for Space Solid Fuel Rocket Carrier Co., Ltd.
Editor's note: The 6th Academy is presumably just another name for Hexi Co. in Huehot which developped solid kick motors for CZ-2C and CZ-2E launchers.

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 Missile Systems

August 30
The two versions of India's Agni ballistic missile are now fully operational and ready for serial production according to an Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official quoted by Defense News. India currently owns ten Agni 1 and two Agni 2 prototypes. The two missiles are able to carry a 1,000-kg warhead with a range of 1,500 km for the Agni 1 and 2,500 km for the Agni 2. Their cost per unit is US$5 million for the Agni 1 and US$8 million for the Agni 2. The DRDO's Missile Research Laboratory and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. could produce some 18 Agni 2 missiles per year.
Editor's note: The Agni missiles are based on the core stage of Indian Space Research Organisation's former SLV-3 and ASLV launchers.
August 22
The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency awarded Brown & Root Services a US$10-million increment to a US$81.8-million contract to participate to the joint U.S./Russian Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program's Integrated Liquid-fuel Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Project. Brown & Root will assist Russian authorities in dismantling RS-16 (SS-17), RS-18 (SS-19) and RS-20 (SS-18) missiles and launch canisters, dismantling RS-20 launch silos and disposing of liquid propellant from these missiles and other missiles to be dismantled on behlaf of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) treaties. Total value of the contract if all options are exercized could amount to US$283.9 million.
Editor's note: Brown & Root is already under contract with DTRA to assist Kazakhstan to eliminate 104 RS-20 silos, 16 launch control silos, 2 RS-20 training silos and to dismantle 26 others silo structures.
August 22
The U.S. President, William J. Clinton, is expecetd to make a decision on the actual development and deployment of the controversial U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system within one week according to U.S. Department of Defense officials. A DoD delegation has arrived in Copenhaguen to discuss the building of a NMD radar station in Thule, Greenland, with Danish and local Greenland authorities.
August 21
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) is the first of three contractors selected by the U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center for a US$496-million program for planning, analysis, engineering, integration, modeling, and simulation in the areas of space weaponry, ballistic missile systems, and command, control, communication, and intelligence systems through June 2003.
August 18
Stratfor, a U.S. intelligence consulting company, reports that Pakistan may have test flown its first Ghauri 3 ballistic missile on August 15 deliberately on India's independence day. Seven objects were detected on a suborbital trajectory over Baluchistan (Southern Pakistan) and crashes into the mountains east of the city of Quetta. The Pakistani government denies that any missiles landed in Pakistan, but has dispatched army troops and militia to locate the impact sites
August 12
North Korea admits that it has been selling missile technology to Iran and Syria according to South Korean press sources. In a press conference in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il said that its proposal to stop developing ballistic missiles if the United States or other countries would launch North Korean satellites for free was "a laughing matter" with Russian president Putin who apparently misunderstood his sense of humor. Citing hundreds of million dollars of revenues generated by North Korean missile industry, Kim made it clear that he would not stop its missile development unless he gets paid for an expected financial loss.
Editor's note: In talks with the United States, North Korea has asked for US$1 billion a year for three years ascompensation.
August 10
Pakistan's foreign minister Abdul Sattar denies allegations by a report issued on August 9 by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency which claims that China is supplying Pakistan with advanced missile technology. The minister also points out that Pakistan has not received any recent complaints from the United States on the issue.
August 9
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has issued an "Unclassified Report the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions" to the U.S. Congress. Among its findings, the report points out that Russian companies and state-owned institutions have continued to provide ballistic missile technology to Iran in 1999 although the Russian government had promised to forbid such technology transfers. It also claims that China has expanded its help to Pakistan for the development of ballistic missiles and was also involved in similar activities in North Korea, Iran and Libya.
Editor's note: This report, which covers the period from July 1st to December 31, 1999, gives new arguments to the opponents to the lifting of quotas Russian commercial launch services which are due to expire on December 31. The U.S. government is negotiating with Russia to lift these quotas in exchange for guarantees regarding missile technologies transfers to countries like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria or North Korea.
August 9 - Erratum
U.S. Defense Department officials report that the first qualification flight of the Boeing Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI), designed to serve as the booster vehicle for the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system's Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), has been postponed from early October to November and is likely to slip into early 2001. The first of two Booster Verification Test (BVT) flights was initially due in April 2000. The first full-scale test flight of the GBI/EKV combination is tentatively set for the first quarter of 2001 but is likely to be delayed by at least 3 months.
Editor's note: The GBI is based on an Alliant TechSystems Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) as first stage with two Pratt&Whitney Orbus 1A motors as second and third stages.
August 7 - Erratum
The assessment on the development of a limited U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system by experts from the U.S. Department of Defense will take longer than planned due to "a number of difficult issues [which] remain to be resolved" according to U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. The Defense secretary is thus unlikely to recommend a course of action to the U.S. President William J. Clinton before early September.
Editor's note: It has been determined that the failure of the latest interception test by an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) on an incoming dummy warhead on July 8 was caused by a faulty databus on the EKV's booster, a Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV). the PLV, composed of upper stages of a decommissioned Minuteman 2 missile, is an interim launch vehicle as operational EKVs, if any, will be launched by a new vehicle, the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI), under development by Boeing and based on an Alliant TechSystems Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) as first stage with two Pratt&Whitney Orbus 1A motors as second and third stages. First test flight of a GBI is tentatively due on October 2.
August 3rd
North Korea has reaffirmed to Russia, in a confidential exchange of letters, that its plans to cancel its intercontinental ballistic missile program if other countries will launch two or three North Korean satellites a year at their own expense. The satellites will be for "peaceful purposes", according to North Korea. "Concerned countries", which have criticized its missile program, should pay for the launches, North Korean officials suggest.
August 3rd
The U.S. Air Force announces that the Minuteman 3 Guidance Replacement Program has reached its Initial Operational Capability (IOC) requirement on July 20. The GRP, led by Boeing Electronic Systems & Missile Defense with Honeywell as a major subcontractor, replaces aging guidance system electronics on the Minuteman 3 ICBMs to maintain in-flight and weapon system reliability, as well as system supportability, beyond the year 2020. The first upgraded guidance set was deployed in August 1999. IOC required 720 hours of strategic operational alert for each of 10 new guidance sets mounted on the missiles as well as 4 additional support sets. Boeing was awarded a full production contract in December 1999 and an additional contract expecet in next December will bring the number of guidance sets ordered to 228. A total of 652 units will eventually be needed to supissile fleet.
August 2nd
Russian president Vladimir Putin has reportedly fired six top generals, led by former Defense minister Igor Sergeyev, who refused to cooperate with his plan to downsize the country's nuclear ballistic missile system.

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 RLVs and Reentry Systems

August 29
Workforce reductions are jeopardizing NASA's ability to safely support its ambitious Space Shuttle launch manifest according to a report issued on August 15 by the U.S. General Accounting Office. The report, requested by Senator John McCain, cites internal NASA documents to illustrates the loss of skilled engineers and technicians while NASA prepares to double its annual number of launches to support the long-delayed assembly of the International Space Station. Between 1995 and 1999, NASA's full-time workforce for the shuttle shrank from 3,000 to 1,800. Ten shuttle flights were conducted from early 1998 to mid-2000 while 18 are planned from mid-2000 to late 2002. NASA officials discovered in late 1999 that many employees didn't have the necessary skills to properly manage avionics, mechanical engineering and computer systems, according to the GAO report.
Download the GAO report.
August 26
About 3,500 defects have been detected on NASA's space shuttle orbiter Columbia during its overhaul in Palmdale, California, i.e. five times more than on the other orbiter vehicles. The effects on the schedule for Columbia's return to flight are not known yet. Columbia was due to return to Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, in November, with its next flight planned in July 2001. Any delay would not affect the schedule for International Space Station assembly flights as Columbia is not involved in the program.
August 25
NASA's Langley Research Center has awarded a US$99,488 contract to Pratt&Whitney for a R&D study on low-speed engines for hypersonic vehicles, with an emphasis on single-stage-to-orbit designs.
August 24
According to SpaceRef.com, NASA is considering the possibility to delay the test flights of its X-34 hypersonic demonstrator by two years and to reduce its actual number of flights as a new management philosophy focusing on "mission success" would be applied to the program. The delay, which would add significant costs to the program, would allow to perform more propulsion tests on the ground and to modify the vehicle's avionics to add redundancy and a "man-in-the-loop" control capability. Unpowered test flights were previously planned to begin in early 2001. The number of powered flights would be reduced from 27 to 6 or even 2, all to be performed at Dryden Flight Research Center. The maximum speed could also be lowered from Mach 8 to Mach 2.5.
Editor's note: The X-34, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. is the first of the Pathfinder vehicles developed under Marshall Space Flight Center's Future X program. It was due to demonstrate technologies for future reusable launch systems. At Mach 2.5, it would fly slower than a SR-71 spy plane.
August 24
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has awarded four small businesses 90-day contracts, totaling US$902,000, to study concepts for alternate access to the International Space Station using so-called "emerging" (i.e. unproven) launch systems on behalf of the 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program. The contractors are Andrews Space & Technology (US$195,000), Microcosm Inc. (US$198,000), HMX Ltd. (US$245,000) and Kistler Aerospace Corp. (US$264,000). "Established" launch services companies are studying similar concepts under contracts issued by the Kennedy Space Center.
Editor's note: Andrews developed a two-stage-to-orbit design for Kelly Space & Technology on behalf of a NASA contract. Microcosm is developing the Scorpius family of low-cost expendable launch vehicles. HMX designed the Roton manned vertical-take-off-and-vertical-landing single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle whose development was later led by Rotary Rocket and the Liberty low-cost expendable launch vehicle. Kistler is still developing its K-1 two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch system and will study how it could be used for emergency ISS resupply.
August 17
United Space Alliance has selected five contractors for Phase 1 studies, worth US$200,000 each, for NASA's Space Shuttle Orbiter Cockpit Avionics Upgrade Program. The five contractors will conduct proof of concept studies regarding the upgrade of space shuttle orbiter cockpit systems with commercial-off-the-shelf equipment and software. Three contractors will be selected in November for US$2-million Phase 2 contracts covering actual design and testing. The final phase of the upgrade effort is planned to be completed in late 2003. The five Phase 1 contractors include Ball Aerospace & Technology, teaming with Kaiser Aerospace & Electronics.
August 17
NASA is considering a delay of the STS-92 mission to the International Space Station as a Control Moment Gyro (CMG) on the Station's Z-1 truss may need to be repaired after a spare CMG component failed during a thermal acceptance test. STS-92 is tentatively slated on October 6, with space shuttle Discovery delivering the Z-1 truss and a third Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA-3) to the ISS.
August 16
NPO Lavochkin is preparing a second test flight of its Inflatable Reentry & Descent Technology (IRDT) demonstrator in May 2001 atop a GRTsKB Makeyev Shtil vehicle launched from a submarine at sea. The US$0.7-million spacecraft would be lofted onto a suborbital trajectory with a landing planned in Australia.
August 11
NASA plans to reduce the ground processing time between two consecutive flights of a Space Shuttle Orbiter from 100/120 days today to 70/80 days in order to allow 7 to 8 flights per year as needed for the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station.
 



X-33
(Lockheed Martin)
August 10
NASA has no plan to give up its X-33 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator program according to NASA's program manager, Gene Austin. However, due to the need to replace the wedge-shaped vehicle's multilobe composite liquid hydrogen tank by a new metallic tank, the first launch is now unlikely to occur before 2002.
Editor's note: The X-33 program was initiated in June 1996 with the selection of Lockheed Martin's VentureStar design and a first flight targeted in March 1999. Since then, US$800 million have been spent by NASA and US$350 million by Lockheed Martin in the project. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has revised its VentureStar design to a significantly different aerodynamic shape compared to that of the X-33 demonstrator.
 
 
August 10
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center announces that it has awarded a series of contracts totalling about US$16.5 million since June for risk reduction studies regarding a 2nd generation Reusable Launch Vehicle program.

 Contractors

 Date
 Contract values
 Andrews Space & Technology

 July 20
 US$300,000
 Boeing

 August 7
 US$4.7 million
 Boeing Rocketdyne

 July 27
 US$1.32 million
 Futron Corp.

 June 22
 US$72,000
 Kelly Space & Technology

 July 24
 US$3.14 million
 Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Astronautics Operations

 July 26
 US$4.6 million
 Orbital Sciences Corp.

 July 14
 US$1.6 million
 Pratt&Whitney, Liquid Space Propulsion

 July 28
 US$543,000
 Space Access LLC

 July 5
 US$333,000
     
August 4
A 80% subscale prototype of NASA's X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) demonstrator, Vehicle 131R, performed a two-hour captive flight beneath the wing of a NB-52 carrier aircraft, at the Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards AFB, California, to test its slightly new shape, avionics and aerodynamic control surfaces . The former Vehicle 131 has been modified to evaluate the new X-38 aerodynamic shape, designed by France's Dassault Aviation. A captive flight, to test its 735-sq.m parafoil with this new shape and to demonstrate the actual CRV guidance and navigation software, provided by the European Space Agency, is scheduled for October 1st.
 



Hope-X
(NASDA)
August 2nd
Japan's Science & Technology Agency, which overviews the National Space Development Agency's programs, has decided to put the Hope-X unmanned minishuttle program on hold. The decision is said to be related to the actual concept of launching the 20-t Hope-X spacecraft atop an uprated H-2A vehicle. An advisoty panel recently proposed to launch the Hope-X from a reusable jet aircraft instead. First launch of Hope-X was planned in 2004.
Editor's note: Japan has already spent US$238 million in the Hope-X program and flown various demonstrators such has the Orex reentry shield in 1994, the Hyflex hypersonic demonstrator in 1996 and the Alflex automated landing demonstrator, also in 1996. Two Hypersonic Flight Demonstrators were under development in cooperation with France's CNES.
 

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 Space Propulsion

August 29
The U.S. production line for Russian RD-180 engines will not be operational until 2005 according to Boris Katorgin, general designer of NPO EnergoMash. The production line, to be managed by RD AmRoss LLC, a joint-venture of NPO EnergoMash and Pratt&Whitney Space Propulsion, will be set up only after technology safeguard agreements between the U.S. and Russia, which are due to protect Russian technologies and prevent proliferation, are finalized. NPO EnergoMash is currently under contract with Lockheed Martin to deliver 18 RD-180 engines for use on Atlas 3 vehicles. This contract includes options for up to 101 engines, including improved versions designed to power the Atlas 5 core stage. Four engines have already been delivered, including the one flown on the Atlas 3A maiden flight on May 24. Two more are being readied for shipment.
Editor's note: This delay in the availability of U.S.-built RD-180s confirms that the first flights of the Atlas 5 under the U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) procurement, now planned in 2003, will be conducted with Russian-built engines although a U.S. production capability was required.
August 29
NPO EnergoMash plans to begin ground-testing of its new RD-191 engine, a single-chamber derivative of the four-chamber RD-170/171 and dual-chamber RD-180 engines, in late 2000. The RD-191 is due too power the core stage of GKNPTs Khrunichev's Angara family of launchers. First engine deliveries are due in the first half of 2002.
August 23
Two Boeing Rocketdyne XRS-2200 aerospike cryogenic engines have been mated together at NASA's Stennis Space Center to simulate the complete propulsion bay of the X-33 single-stage-to-orbit demonstrator. The dual engine combination will begin full-scale static firing tests no earlier than October. The test campaign, which requires some changes in the test facilities, will last through the first half of 2001.
August 22
Interfax reports that Rosaviakosmos and the Russian Foreign Ministry are preparing to sign a technology safeguard agreement with the U.S. Administration to implement a series of measures in order to preclude the unsanctioned use of the RD-180 engine and uncontrolled technology transfers in connection with the engine's production in the U.S. on behalf of RD AmRoss, a joint-venture by NPO EnergoMash and Pratt&Whitney.
Editor's note: The U.S. production line for the RD-180 was a prerequisite by the U.S. Department of Defense before selecting the Atlas 5 launcher for the Evolved Expandable Launch Vehicle (EELV) procurement in order to ensure that the U.S. will not rely on foreign suppliers for its startegic government launches. However, Lockheed Martin has ordered 101 RD-180s from NPO EnergoMash and will stockpile them. Only a very limited series of engines is likely to be produced in the U.S. if any.
 



The AD2 antiproton decelerator
(CERN)
August 10
Scientists of CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, announce that they plan to build and trap atoms of antimatter for experiments. The atoms of antihydrogen will be slowed down to a tenth of the speed of light through an antiproton decelerator (AD2) and stored inside atoms of helium to form metasatble antiprotonic helium atoms or "atomcules" lasting up to 3 microseconds.
Editor's note: Antimatter is considered as a promising propellant for future interplanetary or even interstellar spaceships. However, its study is still made very complex as natural antimatter exists only in cosmic rays and both nautural and artificial antimatter is travelling at relativistic speeds (i.e. more than 0.1 c).
 
 
August 10
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has awarded a 27-month contract, worth US$7.5 million, to Boeing's McDonnell-Douglas subsidiary, in St. Louis, Miss., to develop and build an experimental Pulse Detonation Engine (PDE). The contract includes options for a 9-month extension. McDonnell-Douglas will work with NASA's Glenn Research Center and Dryden Flight Research Center to validate PDE inlet and integration performances through a series of test flights.
August 9
The third static firing of a demonstration solid rocket motor designed for fleet ballistic missiles using commercial technology and manufacturing methods has been successfully performed at U.S. Navy's Naval Weapons Center, in China Lake, California. The test was conducted by an team consiting in U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs, Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Missiles & Space Operations, Alliant Techsystems and Thiokol Corp. and featured a low-cost motor chamber as well as commercial propellant grain and nozzle components representing a 50% direct cost reduction compared to a similar Trident 2 (D5) third stage motor.

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 Spaceports

August 31
Arianespace receives a second Ariane 5 mobile launch table in Kourou. This new table will allow to process two Ariane 5 launchers in parallel and thus to ramp up the launch rate of Europe's new heavy-lift launch vehicle. In 2001, this second launch table will also be used for fuelling tests of the new ESC-A cryogenic upper stage due to be introduced on the upgraded Ariane 5ECA in February 2002.
Editor's note: Three Ariane 5 launches are planned from mid-September to December 2000.
August 28
A U.S. Department of Defense advisory panels has recommended that U.S. commercial launch providers support modernization of U.S. space launch ranges. According to the Defense Science Board Task Force's "Report on Air Force Space Launch Facilities," issued in June but recently unveiled by Space News, US$573 million are needed to maintain the facilities this year and only US$492 million is available for this purpose. Moreover, the U.S. Air Force will have to face a shortfall in its launch range operations and maintenance budget of about US$22 million per year through 2008.
Editor's note: Under U.S. legislation, the U.S. Air Force is only allowed to collect fees directly associated with a commercial launch. In Europe, Arianespace contributes for about half of the cost to maintain the launch range in Kourou.
August 18
The foreign ministers from Venezuela and Guyana will meet on August 24-25 to discuss the border dispute regarding the Essequibo region where Beal Aerospace plans to build its US$100-million commercial spaceport for its BA-2 launch vehicle. The meeting will prepare talks between the presidents of the two countries during a summit of South American leaders in Brasilia at the end of the month.
Editor's note: Venezuela is claiming the region of Guyana located west of the Essequibo river. This disputed area represents some 60% of the territory of Guyana and is rich in gold, timber and other resources.
August 9
The government of Guyana expects groundbreaking work for a US$100-million commercial spaceport for Beal Aerospace's BA-2 launch vehicle to begin in the Essequibo region within 12 to 18 months. A first launch from the site, which will be in an area disputed by Venezuela, is expected in 2005.

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 Industry

August 12
Russian motorist NPO EnergoMash denies reports about a Boeing possibly acquiring a stake in the company. NPO EnergoMash is currently owned 80% directly by the Russian government and 20% by RD-Invest, an investment firm controlled by Rosaviakosmos.
Editor's note: NPO EnergoMash is a key supplier to Boeing's main U.S. rival in space transportation, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, as it manufactures the RD-180 engine for the core stages of the Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 families of launchers.
August 10
NPO Energiya complains that Rosaviakosmos still owes it some US$40 million for completed work related to the International Space Station modules, including the Zvezda resource module launched on July 12. According to Energiya's president Yuri Semyonov, the launch of a Progress M1 cargo spacecraft to the ISS on a Soyuz U vehicle on August 6 was not paid by Rosaviakosmos but by Energiya as a "goodwill gesture."

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 Launch Market

August 30
China's State Oceanic Administration announces that it will launch its first oceanic observation satellite, Hai Yang 1 in 2001. This 340-kg satellite will be based on the new CAST968 small satellite bus developped by the Chinese Acadamy of Space Technology. Its launch is due atop a CZ-4B vehicle departing from Taiyuan on a shared launch with another payload, presumably the Feng Yun 1D polar meteorology satellite. SOA plans to launch similar satellites every two years in the decade.
August 25
PO Kosmicheskaya Sviaz (PO-KS) has awarded a contract to NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki (NPO-PM) to build a replacement satellite for the Ekspress A1 satellite lost on October 27, 1999, in the launch failure of a Proton K/DM vehicle. Ekspress A1R, paid by the insurance of the original Ekspress A1, will be ready for launch by late 2001.
August 23
Motorola is finalizing its plan to destroy the 66 satellites of the Iridium constellation after the bankrupt global satellite telephony company failed to find a buyer. A bankruptcy court hearing originally set for August 23 to discuss possible takeover bids for the US$5-billion venture has been canceled because no qualified buyers emerged.
August 21
OAO Gazprom's subsidiary Gascom and RKK Energiya have eventually signed the contract for the manufacturing of four additional Yamal satellites. Two Yamal 200 communications satellites will be launched during the third quarter of 2002 onboard a single Proton vehicle.
Editor's note: Yamal 200s were initially due for launch in 2000.
August 19
The project team for NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) has determined that it cannot meet its planned December 2001 launch date. The actual duration of the delay will be determined after mid September.
Editor's note: The 950-kg SIRTF is currently the first payload planned to fly a Delta 2H vehicle (i.e. a Delta 2 with Delta 3's GEM-46 strap-on boosters), specifically a Delta 2/7920H.
August 18
The Turkish National Defense Ministry has officially selected Alcatel Space to design and build two observation satellites under the Turkish Intelligence Satellite Supply Project (ATA). The contract under negotiation is reportedly worth US$204 million.
Editor's note: Turkish authorities had previously selected Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI) with a bid valued at US$208-270 million, depending on sources, and based on the Ofeq design already flown on behalf of Tsahal. Alcatel's bid is presumably based on its Isys design which combines a high-resolutiom imaging payload with its Proteus small satellite bus.
August 16
Iranian officials report that "numerous bids" have been issued by international satellite manufacturers to build the Zohreh national geostationary communication satellite system.
August 16
The launch of a large spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office is postponed for 24 hours due to a faulty electronics card in the ground equipment at Vandenberg AFB. A Lockheed Martin Titan 404B vehicle is expected to loft a 14,500-kg new-generation Lacrosse radar observation satellite into low-Earth orbit.
August 12
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. has signed an agreement with Algeria's National Space Technology Center (CNTS) to develop and build the AlSat 1 microsatellite for a launch in 2002.
August 10
Turkey has reopened the competition for the procurement of a military observation satellite after Alcatel Space presented a second bid, lower than the winning US$208-million proposal by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI) and based on its Ofeq design already flown on behalf of Tsahal. Alcatel's bid is presumably based on its Isys design which combines a high-resolutiom imaging payload with its Proteus small satellite bus. Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp. have also issued bids according to Space News while Orbital Sciences Corp. is said to be interested to join the competition.
August 10
NASA has approved the launch of two Mars Exploration Program Rovers instead of one in May/June 2003. The 150-kg rovers, designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Cornell University, will perform a hard-landing under the protection of an airbag cocoon, like the Mars Pathfinder probe in 1996. The two rovers will be launched by two Boeing Delta 2 vehicles on May 22 and June 4, 2003. The second rover will add about US$150 million to the US$350 million needed to launch the first one to Mars.
August 8
Japan's National Space Development Agency announced that the launch of its three modules onboard U.S. Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station will have to be delayed by one year as the program is getting late on schedule. The two-module Kibo laboratory is now expected to be lofted in the first half of 2004 while an international life-science laboratory incorporating a centrifuge will be two years late thus postponing its launch to mid-2006.
August 8
PanAmSat Corp., NetSat 28 Company LLC and Morning Star Satellite, the three operators which had their operating licenses for Ka-band satellites revoked by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in June have appealed that decision. The three U.S. operators failed to meet a March or May 1998 deadline to begin manufacturing their proposed satellites and did not ask for any extension. Each company claimed that the failure to comply with the requirement was caused by "extenuating circumstances that should not have spurred the agency to strip them of their licenses."
Editor's note: The revoked licenses had been awarded in mid-1997 for four orbital slots to Morning Star Satellite (at 62°W, 30°E, 107.5°E and 14Sat 28 (at 95°W) and two to PanAmSat (at 59°W and 125°W). NetSat 28 reportedly selected Space Systems/Loral in January to build its satellite. Forteen candidates have applied for the second round of Ka-band licenses in the U.S.: CAI Data Systems Inc. (to be taken over by Worldcom), Loral CyberStar Inc., TRW, Celsat America Inc. (feeder links only), Hughes Communications Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp., Directcom Networks Inc., SkyBridge, @Contact, PanAmSat, KaStarCom World Satellite Inc., Pegasus, GE Americom (for additional frequencies) and Pacific Century Group. Under International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rules, the United States will lose any priority rights to the slots if operational satellites are not deployed in the orbital positions by November 2004.
August 7
NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki has begun development of a new satellite bus, dubbed Ekspress 1000, for low-cost geostationary communication services. The 1-ton class spacecraft will be designed for single launch onboard Soyuz 2 vehicles or as triplets on Proton launchers.
August 3rd
New Skies Satellite NV (NSS), Intelsat's commercial spinoff, has contracted with Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems to procure the NSS-6 satellite for a launch planned in the last quarter of 2002. Based on Lockheed Martin's A2100 modular bus, NSS-6 will carry about 75 Ku-band and 12 Ka-band transponders to service six footprints in Asia.
Editor's note: The NSS-6 designation was previously given to the former Intelsat K-TV built by Astrium (then Matra Marconi Space). The contract for this satellite was cancelled in 1999 as MMS failed to meet some delivery deadlines due to defects reported on several solar arrays delivered by subcontractors. Astrium declines to comment on the dispute with NSS. The former NSS-6 is completed and in storage in Toulouse. NSS still holds a contract with Arianespace for the launch of NSS-6.
August 3rd
NASA's associate administrator for space science, Ed Weiler, confirms that since the proposed budgets for new NASA space exploration missions will have to be increased by up to 40% after the bach-to-back failures of the US$165-million Mars Polar Lander and US$125-million Mars Climate Orbiter missions, some current projects might actually be cancelled. However, he denied rumors about the cancellation of the Pluto-Kuiper Express mission. In addition, Mr. Weiler noticed that some cost savings expected with the introduction of cheaper launch vehicles will not be achieved. "Surprise, surprise, some of those launch vehicles aren't going to be as cheap as some of the people promised,'' he said.
August 2nd
In its second quarter results statement, Loral Space & Communications reports that it has contracted with its subsidiary Space Systems/Loral for the procurement of a communication satellite based on its LS-1300 bus, tentatively dubbed Skynet Brazil 1 and slated for launch in mid-2002 into a Brazilian geostationary slot. Moreover, it also announces that Space Systems/Loral has been selected by Thailand's Shin Satellite plc to design and build the iPStar 1 high-power broadband communication geostationary satellite for a launch in 2002. Based on the improved LS-1300S bus, iPStar 1 will carry 90 Ku-band and 10 Ka-band transponders. The contract, valued at about US$350 million, includes an option for iPStar 2. The two contracts are for in-orbit deliveries.
 


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