News of October 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

October 27
The 100th launch of an Ariane 4 vehicle is postponed by 24 hours, from October 28 to October 29 due to high-altitude winds over the Guiana Space Center in Kourou.
 



BA-2
(Beal)
October 23
Beal Aerospace announces that it ceases all operations effective this day. The company was developing the 60-m-tall BA-2C launch vehicle using a low-cost hydrogen peroxide propulsion system. In his statement, Andrew Beal, the company's chairman and founder, estimates that NASA's effort to subsidize competing launch systems hampers the development of commercial space transportation systems by the private sector.
 
 



Zenit 3SL
(Sea Launch)
October 21
Sea Launch scores a new success wit the fifth launch of its Zenit 3SL vehicle. For the first time, a satellite weighing more than 5 metric tons at launch was boosted to geostationary transfer orbit. The Boeing-built 5,108-kg Thuraya 1 geomobile communication satellite is the first of a new generation of heavy communications satellites which can be launched only onboard Sea Launch's Zenit 3SL, Arianespace's Ariane 5G or GKNPTs Khrunichev's Proton M vehicles unless the most powerful versions of Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 and Boeing's Delta 4M+ vehicles enter service in 2002/2003 at the earliest.
Editor's note: As another milestone, Thuraya 1 is also the first geostationary satellite too heavy to fly on Ariane 4. As Europe's workhorse for the 90s nears will perform its 100th flight on October 28, this is the end of an era. The current record performance for a launch to geostationary orbit is held by an Ariane 5G with 5,964 kg on September 14.
 
 
October 19
Liftoff of Sea Launch's fifth Zenit 3SL vehicle, carrying the 5,108-kg Thuraya 1 geomobile communication satellite, is delayed by 48 hours to October 21 due to an unspecified ground instrumentation problem. The launcher is on the Odyssey Launch Platform, stationed by 154 degrees West on the Equator, 3,000 km south-west of the company's Homeport in Long Beach. The customer for the launch is Boeing Satellite Systems (formerly Hughes Space & Communications), which will perform an in-orbit delivery for Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications..
October 13
Arianespace has signed two more launch contracts with Orbital Sciences Corp. and Alcatel Space. On behalf of OSC, Arianespace will launch N-Star c, a 1,600-kg mobile communication satellite built by OSC and Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems for Japan's NTT DoCoMo, in late 2001 or early 2002. In the second quarter of 2002, an Ariane vehicle will also loft Stellat 1, a 4,100-kg Spacebus 3000B3 broadband communication satellite built by Alcatel for Stellat, a joint-venture of France Télécom and Europe*Star Ltd. Arianespace's backlog now stands at 50 primary payloads (including 9 ATV cargo ships for the International Space Station).
October 13
International Launch Services reportedly plans to launch its second Atlas 3A during the third quarter of 2001 and its first Atlas 3B in the fourth quarter. Commercial payloads are planned on both flights but have not been identified yet. The first Atlas 5/401 is due in March 2002, and the first of the Atlas 5/500 series in September 2002.
October 10
Sea Launch's Odyssey Launch Platform has departed from its Homeport in Long Beach for a 3,000-km cruise in the Pacific Ocean to the company's launch area by 154 degrees West on the Equator. Launch of the fifth Zenit 3SL, carrying the Thuraya 1 geomobile communication satellite, is due on October 19. The customer for the launch is Boeing Satellite Systems (formerly Hughes Space & Communications), which will perform an in-orbit delivery for Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications.
Editor's note: The Zenit 3SL has been improved to be able to carry the record-breaking 5,108-kg satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. The launch has reportedly been insured for about US$800 million. So far, the Zenit 3SL has scored a 75% success rate in 4 flights.
October 2
Beal Aerospace is reportedly laying off some 80 employees, i.e. almost half of its workforce, as its BA-2 launch vehicle is running late on schedule and out of budget. The company, 99% funded by its founder Andrew Beal, may postpone full vehicle development in favor of a step-by-step development approach.

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 Government Launchers

October 30
Boeing has shipped its first Delta 4 Common Booster Core stage from its Decatur manufacturing facility, in Alabama, to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Mississipi, where the 38-m-long stage will undergo a series of full scale static firing tests.
October 23
The launch of Lockheed Martin Titan 401B/Centaur vehicle (B-41), due to loft the Milstar 2-F2 military communication satellite directly to geostationary orbit, has been postponed from December to February 2001 after heater problems were detected on another Milstar 2 satellite during ground testing.
Editor's note: With only one launch pad left in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (SLC-40) after SLC-41 facilities were dismantled to prepare for the build-up of the new Atlas 5 launch complex, any Titan 4 delay derails the whole launch schedule as at least six months are required between launches. The postponement of the previous launch had already bumped the B-41 flight from October to December. Similarly, the current delay will surely cause the following flight, with a Titan 402B/IUS lofting the DSP-22 early warning satellite, from mid-2001 to later into the third quarter.
October 20
Boeing is about to announce that the first launch of its new Delta 4 vehicle (presumably a Delta 4M version) will be conducted in November 2001 with a yet-to-announce commercial payload.
October 17
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has issued a request for information to companies involved in the development of new launch systems to assess their possible use as alternate access to the International Space Station. In order to foster the development of commercially-viable launch systems, the request also includes industry comments and statements of interest about potential capability development to address the commercial launch market.
October 13
During the International Astronautical Federation annual congress in Rio de Janeiro, China has unveiled its design for its new series of hydrocarbon-fueled heavy-lift launchers. Two versions are under study, featuring either a single-stage or a two-stage core vehicle and four hydrocarbon-fueled booster stages. With a launch mass of about 800 tons and a height of 50 to 55 m, the 1.5-stage version would loft 23 tons of payload to low Earth orbit while the 2.5-stage version is designed to carry 11 tons to geostationary transfer orbit. The Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicles Technology is in charge of the development. CALT is also working on the development of the CZ-2E(A) vehicle, a modernized CZ-2E with stretched boosters and a ea new avionics from the man-rated CZ-2F, which will be able to launch 11.8 tons to low Earth orbit. The smaller CZ-1D, which is based on a CZ-1 first stage with a second stage powered a pair of YF-40 engines (from the CZ-4B's third stage) and a solid third stage, is slated to make its first flight in 2001.
October 11
The launch of a US$200-million military communication satellite for U.S. Air Force's Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS) on a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2A vehicle, initially due on October 12, has been postponed indefinitely due to a problem with the spacecraft's Initiation Timer Switch, a device intended to trigger some vital actions during its in-orbit deployment. Depending on the results of tests currently underway on the Lockheed Martin-built satellite, a new launch date could be set on October 19.
Editor's note: The U.S. Air Force is reportedly paying some US$80 million for the launch.
 



Delta 4H
(Boeing)
October 9
U.S. industry and military sources confirm that the U.S. Departement of Defense plans to spend US$141 million to fund the initial launch of Boeing's Delta 4H heavy-lift launch vehicle in late 2002 or early 2003. Moreover the launches from Vandenberg AFB of two Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), initially planned on Atlas 5 vehicles, have been transferred to Boeing's Delta 4M. Boeing has quoted its commercial launch price for the Delta 4H from US$148 million to US$160 million depending on the required performance.
Editor's note: The Delta 4H is the only vehicle left in the heavy-lift category of U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle procurement. Its first operational flight is tentatively set for late 2003 to loft a Defense Support Program (DSP) early warning satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Station.
 

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 Small Launchers

October 24
Russian-Ukrainian launch provider MKK Kosmotras, which markets the Dnepr family of vehicles, plans to conduct two commercial launches (3rd and 4th flight of Dnepr 1) from Baykonur in September and October 2001. Both launches will loft clusters of small satellites and microspacecraft. Talks are reportedly underway with potential customers.
Editor's note: In June, Kosmotras had set its third launch in March 2001. Among the payloads that may fly the Dnepr in 2001 are five satellites built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. for its Disaster Monitoring Constellation, a solar sail demonstrator sponsored by the European Space Agency and four data gathering microsatellites for SpaceQuest Ltd. One of these flights should also carry a Multiple Payload Adapter developed by One Stop Satellite Solutions.
October 20
During a meeting of the European Space Agency's council, Italy and other member countries have endorsed a plan to reinstate the Italian contribution (worth ¤63 million) in several major programs, such as the development of improved versions of Ariane 5, the funding of maintenance and upgrade work at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, The Ariane 5 Technology Accompaniment (ARTA-5) program or the Future Launcher Technology Program. In exchange, Italy will be able to proceed with the development of the Vega small launch vehicle on behalf of ESA with minor contributions from other countries. Total cost of the program will be ¤330 million (US$280 million), about three quarters of which would be funded by Italy. Actual contributions by other membre countries will have to be confirmed before November 10 (see below). The new Vega, tyo be available circa 2004, will use the proposed P80 solid rocket motor for its first stage. This advanced 80-t motor, which will feature a composite casing, will be developed separately under a ¤128-million program for which Italy will provide 52% of the funding (¤66 million) and France 35% (¤45 million).
Editor's note: Italy's role in the Ariane 5 Plus program (mainly the development by FiatAvio of the liquid oxygen turbopump and powerpack for the new Vinci cryogenic engine) has been on hold since May 1999 after France refused to fund a significant share of the Vega program because of its lack of market. As the second largest contributor in the new Vega program, Spain reportedly expects to build on its own expertise gained on the now-defunct Capricornio launcher program.
A ¤370-million budget has also been reported for Vega, encompassing the building of a dedicated launch pad in Kourou (it may also include the ¤43 million already spent on the project).
 
 Proposed National Contributions to the New Vega Program
 Country

 Share

 Amount
 Italy

 70-80%

 231-264 M ¤
 Belgium

 5-8%

 16.5-26.5 M ¤
 Spain

 5-8%

 16.5-26.5 M ¤
 The Netherlands

 3-5%

 10-16.5 M ¤
 Switzerland

 2%

 6.5 M ¤
 France

 1.5%

 5 M ¤
 Sweden

 1%

 3.5 M ¤
 Total

 87.5-105.5%

 289-348 M ¤

 1 ¤ = US$ 0.85
 



Athena 1
(LM Astro)
October 20
The U.S. Air Force has decided to launch its PICOsat (P97-1) microsatellite in September 2001 with a NASA payload on the last Lockheed Martin Athena 1 vehicle rather than on a dedicated Minotaur launcher provided by Orbital Sciences Corp. which would be available only 6 months later. PICOsat is a 67-kg MB-70 "Uosat" spacecraft built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. in Great-Britain. The Athena 1 launch is due from the new Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, with NASA's Starshine 3 satellite, a 40-kg passive satellite for orbitography, as the second payload.
Editor's note: This launch was initially contracted by NASA in 1996 to loft the Clarke experimental remote sensing satellite. After the program was terminated in 1998, it was assigned to launch the Vegetation Canopy Lidar (VCL) spacecraft in 2000. However, this launch was postponed to mid-2001 then to May 2002 and the mission is now likely to be cancelled.
 
 
October 13
EarthWatch's QuickBird 1 satellite, due for launch on a Kosmos 3M vehicle on October 25, may have been damaged during pre-launch processing according to French aerospace weekly Air&Cosmos.
October 7
The first launch of an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL vehicle from Kwajalein Missile Range, Marshall Islands, has been postponed to October 9 due to a telecommunication glitch between the launch control center locatd at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the satellite's ground station in Kwajalein.
 



Vega
(FiatAvio)
October 4
FiatAvio has presented a revamped version of its Vega small vehicle program whose development on behalf of the European Space Agency was hampered in October 1999 when France, which was expected to be the second largest contributor, refused to commit any funds. The new Vega is now a 4-stage vehicle, 30-m high, aimed at lofting about 1.5 ton to a 700-km altitude Sun-synchronous orbit for US$15 million. As prime contractor, FiatAvio will be responsible for about 60% of the development. The funding source is still unclear.
Editor's note: ESA has spent ¤43 million in the Vega program through late September. Further funding on the project might be discussed during the next meeting of ESA's council on October 19.
 
 
October 1st
Orbital Sciences' "Stargazer" carrier aircraft has landed in Kwajalein Missile Range carrying the fully integrated Pegasus XL vehicle (nicknamed "Renee") due to loft the joint NASA/Massachusetts Institute of Technology High Energy Transient Experiment 2 (HETE-2) spacecraft to orbit on October 7. This will be the first orbital launch ever from Kwajalein.

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 Missile Systems

October 31
TRW Space & Electronics reports that the first serial production remanufactured Minuteman 3 Stage 1 solid rocket motor, provided on behalf of the Propulsion Replacement Program (PRP), was successfully test-fired at the Thiokol Propulsion test range in Promontory, Utah.
Editor's note: The TRW-led PRP replaces the stage 1, 2 and 3 solid rocket motors of aging Minuteman 3 ballistic missiles with new remanufactured motors to extend their operational life until 2020.
October 31
Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, head of Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN), proposes to make decommissioned strategic ballistic missiles available on the commercial launch market in order to collect funds to finance the remaining operational forces. According to Gen. Yakovlev, about 250 Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles are scheduled to be removed from service by 2009, in part because of U.S.-Russian disarmament treaties, and could be sold for up to Rbl 20 billion (US$700 million), i.e. 10% of the entire Russian defense budget for 2001.
October 30
Russian and French Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac, the latter currently heading the European Union, have jointly "condemned" any potential changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
Editor's note: The deployment of the proposed U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system would require significant changes to the ABM treaty which prevents deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems to protect the whole territory of either the United States or Russia (initially the Soviet Union) in order to maintain the deterrence of existing nuclear weapons and prevent another race for more nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.
October 28
The Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) will add only six Topol M (RSM-12) to its fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2000 instead of ten as expected, according to Defense News. As funding will be reduced in 2001, only two missiles could be added next year.
October 26
A U.S. delegation which will resume missile talks with North Korea will ask for more details on that country's alleged proposal to drop its ballistic missile development in exchange for free satellite launches according to a U.S. State Department official. The North Korean proposal was reported in July by Russian president Vladimir Putin after its return from a trip to North Korea. This proposal was later qualified as "a joke" by North Korean officials.
Editor's note: Development and sale of ballistic missiles has often been presented by North Korean authorities as one of the country's rare source of currencies.
October 20
Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Missiles & Space Operations was awarded a US$25.6-million contract by U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Program for modifications on the Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missile's telemetry, flight termination, and tracking subsystem packages following changes on specifications. Lockheed Martin was also awarded a US$7.9-million contract for a series of studies on reentry vehicles for Trident missiles
October 20
The U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Program has exercised a US$17.4-million option on a contract with Raytheon Systems for repairs on Mk6 Missile Guidance System Electronic Assemblies on Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles through September 2001.
October 13
Raytheon announces that its Ground-Based Radar Prototype (GBR-P) system under development for the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system has successfully completed a discrimination test on September 28 by identifying incoming warheads and decoys launched by to Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles from Vandenberg AFB.
Editor's note: One of the second missile's Mk12 warheads was carrying the Slender Hypervelocity Aerothermodynamic Research Probe (SHARP-B2), developed by the NASA's Ames Research Center as part of Marshall Space Flight Center's Future X program. This flight experiment, which was successfully recovered at sea, was intended to test Ultra-High Temperature Ceramic (UHTC) material which could be used to design reentry vehicles with sharp leading edges thus improving their aerodynamic behavior in the atmosphere.
 



Trident 2
(LMSS)
October 10
Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Missiles & Space Operations was awarded a contract worth US$521.8 million to US$541 million (depending on sources), by U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs for the production of 12 Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles during FY2001 and support to their deployment through FY2005. Production of these missiles will begin in 2001, with an expected delivery in 2003. They will be used for retrofit into four U.S. Ohio-class nuclear submarines (USS Henry Jackson, USS Alabama, USS Alaska and USS Nevada) which are being converted from Trident 1 (C4) to Trident 2 (D5) missile systems.
Editor's note: This contract apparently covers a US$70-million subcontract to Thiokol Propulsion to supply the solid rocket motors for the missiles. Since serial production began in 1987, the U.S. Navy has purchased 384 Trident 2 (D5) missiles.
 
 
October 10
ITT Industries has completed the purchase of Aerotherm, a designer and manufacturer of reentry vehicles and ballistic missile systems, from DynCorp. The US$8.4-million company will be integrated into the Advanced Engineering & Sciences division of ITT's defense business.
October 5
Boeing Electronic Systems & Missile Defense was awarded a US$52.6-million contract by U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs to provide support and maintenance for inertial navigation systems and gyros onboard U.S. Navy's and British Royal Navy's Trident sea-launched ballistic missiles through September 2003.
October 2
BAe Systems Applies Technologies was awarded a US$41-million contract by U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs to provide system integration support for the Trident 1 (C4) and Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles' interface control programs including special technical investigations through September 2002.
October 2
Following the second successful flight of Dnepr 1 vehicle on September 26, Russian Strategic Missile Forces have decided to extend to 24 years the operational service life of the RS-20 missiles which have not yet been dismantled. The latest Dnepr 1 was refurbished from a 21-year-old RS-20. Following a third flight in 2001, it is expected that the service life will again be extended to 25 years.

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 RLVs and Reentry Systems

October 31
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has awarded a six-year contract, worth about US$1.15 billion, to Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Michoud Space Operations for the procurement of 35 additional Super Lightweight External Tanks for the Space Shuttle program. The first tank of this sixth production batch is due for delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in 2002.
October 18
NASA reports that two out of eight bolts used to secure one of Space Shuttle Discovery's two Solid Rocket Boosters on the launch table failed to separate completely during the launch of the STS-92 mission on October 11. It was the first time in 11 similar mishaps reported over the previous 99 launches that two rather than one bolt had been affected. According to NASA, the incident didi not put the mission at risk at any moment.
October 10
Space Shuttle Discovery's launch for the STS-92 mission suffers its fourth postponement, again by 24 hours, to October 11, after a pin used to secure tools on access platforms on the launch pad has been found in an inaccessible area in the lower strut between the orbiter and its external tank only three hours before liftoff. There is concern that the fallen pin may be disloddeged during ascent and cause damage to the spacecraft. To remove the pin, NASA plans to move the pad's rotating service gantry back around the shuttle.
October 9
Space Shuttle Discovery's liftoff for the STS-92 mission is delayed by 24 hours, to October 10, due to high wind levels over the Cape Canaveral area which caused pre-launch work to fall behind schedule.
October 5
NASA postpones the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-92 mission to October 9 in order to replace a faulty pogo suppression valve on a liquid oxygen line and to complete an engineering investigation regarding an orbiter/external tank bolt which failed to retract after tank separation during the STS-106 flight.

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 Space Propulsion

October 30
NASA has requested the U.S. National Research Laboratory to stop work on the development of the Interim Control Module (ICM), a space tug designed from the propulsion module of a classified military satellite to provide a contingency re-boost capability in case of Russia's inability to launch the Zvezda service module or Progress resupply ships. The partly assembled ICM will be mothballed.
October 26
A test mishap on a Boeing Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engine at NASA's Stennis Space Center on June 16 was caused by a contamination as special tape was left in the engine's fuel system during processing. According to the investigation board, about 150 sq.cm of tape, routinely used for temporary closure or as protective barrier during processing and assembly of the engine, was inadvertently dropped in the engine and went unoticed before the firing test. The tape went on the fuel and oxygen preburner injectors as well as in the fuel preburner. It blocked the multiple fuel-inlet holes causing an oxygen-rich mix, which rapidly increased temperatures beyond the engine's normal operating limits and melted some components upstream of the engine fuel pump. The engine controller automatically shut down the engine 5 seconds into the 200-second test when sensors reported the off-limits temperature.
Read the investigation report (in PDF).
 



XRS-2200 (Rocketdyne)
October 24
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Boeing Rocketdyne have completed the assembly of a propulsion system incorporating two XRS-2200 aerospike cryogenic engines for ground testing at the Stennis Space Center. The twin-engine composite, which simulates the full propulsion bay of the X-33 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator, will begin its test campaign within weeks with a series of short bursts to be followed latet by full firings. At least nine firing tests of the twin engines are due before they are shipped to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, for integration on the X-33 demonstrator.
Editor's note: A series of 14 static firing tests on a single XRS-2200 engine was completed in May. Among the objectives of the twin engine testing is the study of interactions between the two plumes with parallel and differential throttling of the coupled engines. Differential throttling is planned to provide yaw control to the vehicle during ascent.
 
 
October 19
NASA's Glenn Research Center has awarded a US$1.2-million contract to Pratt&Whitney Space Propulsion to study maintainable composite hydrocarbon rocket-based combined cycles propulsion systems.
October 13
NASA's Langley Research Center has awarded a US$20-million contract to GASL Inc. for services regarding hypersonic scramjet flow path development and testing.
October 3
Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Missiles & Space and Astronautics Operations have selected Primex Technologies as preferred supplier of Hall effect thrusters for various civilian and military satellite programs.
October 2
Lightcraft Technologies Inc. set a new record by successfully flying a 12.2-cm-diameter laser-boosted capsule to an altitude of 71 m at U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range. The 12.7-second flight involved a U.S. Army 10-kW pulsed carbon dioxide laser operated in open air. A total of seven vertical flights were carried out with three Lightcraft weighing less than 51 grams each.
October 2
Thiokol Propulsion was awarded a US$9.2-million contract by the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center to test improved propellant loading, booster cases and nozzles on behalf of the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology (Phase 2) Boost and Orbit Transfer Demonstration program. The effort will last through March 31, 2005.

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 Spaceports

October 18
Russia is on schedule to pay its annual fees for the use of the Baykonur Cosmodrome despite its current budget problems, according to the Kazakh Government. In 2000, Russia has already paid US$85.5 million of its US$115-million fee.
October 12
Officials of spaceport authorities from Alaska, California, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and other U.S. states will meet in Washington on October 18 to discuss common federal policy and legislative issues, including tax exemptions for spaceport bonds, indemnification for commercial launches, export licensing and technology transfer safeguards, as well as the reconstitution of the U.S. National Space Council.
October 11
The French ministry of Transports has signed an agreement with NASA for the use of the Istres air base runway, near Marseilles, as a Transatlantic Abort Landing site for the Space Shuttle.
Editor's note: In the late 80s, Istres was planned to become a landing site for European Space Agency's Hermes spaceplane.
October 5
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is investigating the industry for a possible study on enhanced flight termination systems for sounding rockets, expendable and reusable launch vehicles, and ballistic missiles as well as non-space-related vehicles such as tactical missiles, remotely piloted vehicles and aerial targets. Such systems could command engine cutoff or place the vehicle in a recovery mode. The first phase of the study would focus on current range infrastructures and evaluate compatibility with new command links.

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 Industry

October 22
Honeywell International Inc. has agreed to be acquired by General Electric Co. under a last-minute deal worth US$45 billion in stocks. Honeywell was previously negotiating a US$40-billion merger agreement with United Technologies Corp. but the talks stopped on September 20 after Honeywell admitted o be negotiating with another bidder. UTC is the parent company of famous space motorist Pratt&Whitney while Honeywell Space Systems is a leading provider of space avionics. GE has no direct involvement in space transportation.
October 20
United Technologies Corp. is in talks with Honeywell International Inc. regarding a possible merger. UTC is the parent company of famous space motorist Pratt&Whitney while Honeywell Space Systems is a leading provider of space avionics.
October 19
Boeing Space & Communications Division posted a US$14-million loss on the third quarter of this year compared to US$137 million of profits on the same period last year. According to company officials, the loss is due to an increased R&D effort on the Delta 4 launch vehicle and the proposed Connexion-by-Boeing airborne satellite-based Internet-access project.
October 16
Aeroflex Inc. has acquired Altair Aerospace Corp., a provider of software for the space industry involved in guidance systems for launch vehicles. Altair will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aeroflex and renamed Aeroflex-Altair Cybernetics Corporation.
Editor's note: Altair Aerospace has been under contract by Boeing since 1997 to provide software and services for its Delta 4 family of launchers. Altair had previously been involvde in the ill-fated Conestoga small launcher program.
October 6
Boeing has completed the US$3.75-billion acquisition of Hughes Space & Communications which will now be known as Boeing Satellite Systems Inc. (BSS), a business unit part of the Boeing Space & Communications Group.

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 Launch Market

October 30
PO Kosmicheskaya Sviaz (PO-KS) has signed a US$98-million contract with Alcatel Space for the development of communication payloads for the Ekspress AM11 and AM22 satellites which will be manufactured by Russia's NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki. The two 2,600-kg satellites will be launched from Baykonur, Kazakhstan, atop Proton vehicles in 2002. A third satellite, Ekspress AM1, featuring a communication payload provided by NEC, is also slated for launch by a Proton in 2002.
October 30
Rosaviakosmos, the Russian aerospace agency, is reportedly considering the possiblity to use the FGB-2 control module as a resupply and reboost vehicle for the International Space Station in case it cannot raise enough funds to pay for the planned 15 Progress M1 cargo ships it is due to deliver. The FGB-2 module is under manufacturing at GKNPTs Khrunichev. It was initially planned as a back-up for the Zarya module successfully launched in 1998.
Editor's note: The FGB-2 is currently planned to be refurbished as a commercial module by Boeing and Khrunichev.
October 30
A last-minute US$25-million bid has been issued by a group of investors to bail out the Iridium 66-satellite low-earth orbit constellation. The proposal is headed by a new venture dubbed Iridium Satellite LLC and involves Boeing as the possible operator of the constellation. A deal could be closed by November 30.
Editor's note: Iridium LLC is expected to run out of funds to control the in-orbit satellites by October 31.
October 30
Globalstar Telecommunications reports a US$97-million loss for the third quarter of 2000, i.e. five times larger than predicted. Although the company admitted that its revenues and number of subscribers (21,300) were far below expectations, it claims to have enough cash to keep operating through May 2001.
Editor's note: Space Systems/Loral is still under contract with several launch providers to loft replenishment satellites for the Globalstar constellation: with Boeing Expendable Launch Services for two Delta 2 flights and Starsem for a single Soyuz U/Ikar launch.
October 26
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has unveiled its revised long-term strategy for the exploration of Mars. After the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter next year and a pair of small rovers in 2003, NASA now plans to launch a high-resolution remote sensing orbiter, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in 2005 and a large rover, presented as a "long-range, long-duration mobile science laboratory" with 270 kg of instruments, in 2007. An 18-month programmatic systems engineering study will refine the costs and technology needs for these two missions. This revamped Mars exploration program will cost about US$400-450 million per year for the next five years. In addition, a series of small "Scout" missions, launched piggyback on geostationary launch vehicles such as Ariane 5, Atlas 5 or Delta 4, will also be flown beginning in 2007 (instead of 2003 as planned earlier).
The proposed sample return mission, initially planned in 2005 and expected to be postponed to 2009 has actually slipped to 2014. A second mission is also planned for 2016. However, NASA is studying options to conduct the first mission as soon as 2011. France's CNES and Italy's ASI will participate in this exploration program.
The French ministry of research too has provided some information on France's involvement in the NASA-led program. France is mostly expected to provide launch services on Ariane 5 vehicles as well as sample collection systems. In 2007, an Ariane 5 vehicle will also launch an experimental probe to Mars to validate the aerocapture concept which would allow an incoming space probe with a thermal shield to decelerate by diving directly into the upper atmosphere of Mars. After entering Martian orbit, the probe will release the four small Netlanders developed by CNES with Belgian, German and Finnish contributions to form a sismologic network on the surface, as well as a U.S-built lander model which will demonstrate precision landing with a parachite and retrorockets. The orbiter will also release a grapefruit-sized target and rendezvous with it to simulate the recovery of a sample canister. Total cost for France would amount to ¤412 million.
Editor's note: Although the original JPL/CNES Mars Sample Return Mission was planned for a launch on an Ariane 5 in 2005, the new mission in 2011 or 2014 will apparently be launched by a U.S. vehicle.
October 25
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is about to unveil its revised long-term plan for the exploration of Mars on October 26. According to CNN, the new plan would include a high-resolution remote sensing orbiter in 2005 and a "major lander and rover" mission in 2007. Each mission will be budgeted about US$200-300 million. The proposed joint NASA/CNES mission to collect and bring back samples with a pair of probes sharing an Ariane 5E launch has been potsponed from 2005 to 2009 at the earliest.
Editor's note: No information has been released yet on which vehicle could fly these new Mars missions. Due to a requirement to have logged 14 consecutive successful flights to be eligible for such a launch, Boeing's Delta 3 and Delta 4 as well as Lockheed Martin's Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 vehicle might not be available for the 2005 mission. A launch on a Delta 2H is likely if the orbiter and its cruise stage do not exceed maximum payload capability. For the 2007 lander, a launch on Atlas 5 or Delta 4 can be expected although an agreement signed with France could actually result in an Arianespace Ariane 5E vehicle eventually lofting the U.S. probe.
October 24
The U.S. Foundation for the Non-governmental Development of Space claims to have signed an agreement with MirCorp to fly a 7-km electrodynamic tether experiment, nicknamed "Firefly", onboard the Mir space station. The US$1.5-million experiment, which would require an extra-vehicular activity to install outside the station, is intended to use electrical power generated by the station to interact with the Earth's magnetic field and provide clean, low-cost, atmospheric drag compensation.
Editor's note: On the same day, the Russian government announced its decision to destroy Mir in late February 2001 if no non-governmental budget can be found to fund its operations. The Progress M43 resupply ship, launched on October 16 and docked with the station four days later, was used on October 25 to re-boost the Mir on a higher orbit. A more powerful Progress M1-type spacecraft, carrying 1.7 t of propellant, will be launched to Mir in January 2001 and will be used to control the destructive atmospheric reentry of the 115-t orbital complex over an unpopulated part of the Pacific Ocean. Despite this, MirCorp is still planning to fly a paying passenger, U.S. millionnaire Dennis Tito, to Mir in January 2001 and has announced an Initial Public Offering worth US$117 million in early 2001 in order to keep the station in operation.
October 23
Spanish satellite operator Hispasat SA plans to issue shortly a request for proposal regarding the procurement of large hybrid Ku/Ka-band satellite, Hispasat 1E, for a launch in 2003.
October 20
European Space Agency's council has approved a plan to fund the launch of the 3,100-kg Artemis (Advanced Research & Technology Mission) spacecraft atop a commercial launch vehicle in 2001 through a loan on funds which were not spent in the agency's budget. This loan could be reimbursed later by commercial revenues from the satellite. Launch providers have been sollicited to bid for the launch. A formal selection is expected at ESA's next council meeting in December.
Editor's note: ESA's long-delayed Artemis experimental communication satellite was initially due to be launched on the maiden flight of Ariane 5, then planned in 1995. It was later manifested on the maiden flight of the H-2A under a non-exchange-of-funds agreement Japan's National Space Development Agency which would have given the Japanese agency a part-time access to the satellite's experiments. In September, NASDA decided to fly the first H-2A with only an instrumented payload due to major incertainties regarding the vehicle's propulsion system.
October 14
The European Space Agency's Science Directorate confirms the selection of future space missions under the Horizon 2000+ program proposed in September by the Space Science Advisory Committee. The newly selected programs include two "Cornerstone" missions due not to exceed US$500 million (excluding instrument costs). These will be Bepi-Colombo, a 2,500-kg Mercury orbiter to be launched by an Ariane 5 in 2009, and the Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics (GAIA), a 3,000-kg astrometric observatory, also due to ride an Ariane 5 in 2011, which will map a billion stars. Other, smaller "Flexi" missions include a 50% participation to NASA's Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission, due for launch in 2009 atop a Delta 2/7925H (or equivalent) vehicle, to study gravity waves, a 15% contribution to the NASA-led Next-Generation Space Telescope (NGST), due for launch in 2009, and a Solar Orbiter, launched from Baykonur by a Soyuz-Fregat, which will reuse technologies developed for Bepi-Colombo. If more funds are available, ESA could also launch Eddington, a 1,200-kg astrosismology mission which would also ride a Soyuz-Fregat.
October 13
France and Italy are expected to sign an intergovernment agreement on the joint development of the Pleiades remote sensing constellation as a follow-on to the current Spot system. The 800-kg satellites will be developed under prime contractorship of CNES, the French space agency, and based on a Astrium Leostar bus with an imaging payload designed by Alcatel Space. Two optical satellites are tentatively planned for launch in late 2005 or early 2006 and mid-2007. Four X-band radar satellites, will be developed by ASI, the Italian space agency, for launches between 2003 and 2005.
October 13
Canada is reportedly studying a national military observation satellite dedicated to the identification of high altitude orbiting satellites.
October 9
European Transport ministers are slated to meet in October in order to decide whether they will give a go-ahead for the 3-billion euros Galileo European global navigation satellite system at the European Union Transport Council meeting of December 21, following the completion of definition studies on the system's design, financial, legal, operational and international aspects. As of today, the European Union's Commission and the European Space Agency have already committed 1.45 billion euros in the project.
Editor's note: Two concepts for the Galileo constellation are currently under study by the industry. One, proposed by Astrium, would involve 30 satellites in a 24,000-km altitude medium Earth orbit. The other concept, fostered by Alcatel Space, would include 24 medium-Earth orbit satellites and 8 geostationary relays. In both cases, most of the launches should be provided by Arianespace and Starsem.
October 6
CNES, the French space agency, has approved the full development of the Corot mission for stellar photometry. The 490-kg satellite will be launched in October 2004 either on a Rokot vehicle supplied by Eurockot, or on a PSLV provided by the Indian Space Research Organisation.
October 6
Loral-led Mexican satellite operator SatMex is studying the possibility to launch two more geostationary satellites.
October 1st
Go Taikonauts reports that China plans to launch an experimental "breeding satellite" circa 2002-2003. This recoverable spacecraft will carry seeds of grass, trees and crops to monitor their development in microgravity.
 


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