News of November 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

November 30
Four RD-180 engines have been delivered by Russia's NPO Energomash to Lockheed Martin Astronautics on November 23. Despite earlier reports, not all of them will be integrated on Atlas 5 vehicles. Actually three are due to power Atlas 3 vehicles while engine No.9T will be iinstalled on an Atlas 5 common core booster (AV-001) in January in order to begin a series of "pathfinder operations" at the refurbished SLC-41 launch facility in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, beginning in April. The first flight of an Atlas 5 vehicle is still due one year later, in April 2002.
Lockheed Martin also reports the completion of the tankage for the first flight model of the stretched Centaur cryogenic upper stage for the Atlas 5. Dubbed Common Centaur, this 12.7-m long version of the Centaur, which can accommodate one or two Pratt&Whitney RL10A-4-2 engines, will be flown on the Atlas 3B and all versions of the Atlas 5 launch vehicles.
November 29
XM Roll, the first of XM Satellite Radio's two direct radiobroadcasting satellites will arrive at Sea Launch's Homeport in Long Beach, California, on December 2, to begin pre-launch processing before a scheduled January 8 launch on a Zenit 3SL vehicle.
Editor's note: XM Roll is the fourth Boeing 702-type satellite built by Boeing Satellite Systems (formerly Hughes Space & Communications) and the first not to fly an Ariane.
November 24
GKNPTs Khrunichev confirms that all four Proton launches booked by Hughes Space & Communications (now Boeing Satellite Systems) on behalf of ICO Global Communications (now New ICO), have been postponed from 2001 to 2002. Khrunichev expects to conduct up to 12 commercial launches in 2001 while only 3 to 4 are due in 2001.
November 24
The U.S. State Department announces that it will "resume the processing of licenses that are necessary for commercial space cooperation between U.S. and Chinese companies, such as launching US satellites in China." It also will "resume discussions as soon as possible on extending the 1995 U.S.-China agreement regarding international trade and commercial launch services."
Editor's note: The current agreement, which will expire at the end of 2001, allowed China to conduct up to 20 commercial launches to geostationary transfer orbits from 1996 to 2001. Only seven launches have actually been performed to date.
November 21
Arianespace breaks its second major payload performance in less than one week with the heaviest satellite ever launched on an Ariane 4, the 4,711-kg Anik F1. The Boeing-built B-702 spacecraft, owned by Telesat Canada, is also the most powerful ever launched (17.5 kW) and carries the largest communication payload to date (84 transponders).
Editor's note: Total performance, with the payload adapter, was 4,839 kg, slightly less than the all-time Ariane 4 record of 4,950 kg flown in December 1999 on the launch of Galaxy 11. For the previous week record see the Ariane 5 launch on November 16.
November 21
China officially announces that it will no longer provide technological assistance to countries developping nuclear weapons. In exchange, the U.S. State Department promises that it will lift its economic sanctions on China. The Chinese government plans to adopt an export-control list under which national companies will be required to get licenses to export "equipment, materials and technology that can be directly used in missiles, as well as missile-related dual-use items." According to multiple press reports, the State Department even committed to resume normal export licensing of satellites planned for launch on Chinese vehicles. China was accused to provide technological expertise to Iran, North Korea and Pakistan for the development of their ballistic missile systems.
Editor's note: The rationale of the decision to resume satellite exports to China is unclear as the ban was reportedly imposed to prevent China from accessing U.S. technology to improve its own ballistic missile forces and not as an argument to impose any non-proliferation policy. China Great Wall Industry Corp., which operates the Chang Zheng ("Long March") family of vehicles is under contract for launches for Space Systems/Loral (three CZ-3B launches including one for the long-delayed Chinasat 8 satellite) and Boeing Satellite (five CZ-3B and one CZ-3). The actual status of the Boeing contract, signed on behalf of Hughes, is unknown. It may have been rescinded as Hughes Space & Communications was acquired by Boeing in early October.
November 19
Upon request of its customer Telesat Canada, Arianespace has postponed the upcoming Ariane 4 launch from November 20 to November 21 to enable additional checks on the Anik F1 satellite.
Editor's note: At 4,711 kg, Anik F1 is the heaviest satellite ever launched by an Ariane 4.
November 16
The next flight of Sea Launch's Zenit 3SL, carrying a XM radiobroadcasting satellite, has been postponed from late December to sometime in January 2001.
Editor's note: The launches of XM Radio's two satellites by Sea Launch has apparently been swapped, XM Roll (XM-2) being on the first flight and XM Rock (XM-1) on the second, now presumably postponed at least to March 2001.
November 16
On the 4th commercial flight of its new Ariane 5G launch vehicle, Arianespace sets a new record with 6,313 kg of payload and adapters lofted to geostationary transfer orbit (actually a supersynchronous transfer orbit with an apogee at 39,200 km). The flights was also the first to feature the new Astrium Ariane 5 Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-5). This plateau will be used to loft piggyback payloads weighing up to 100 kg apiece on standard commercial missions.
November 15
Rosaviakosmos reports that revenues from space activities for foreign space agencies and commercial programs may amount to US$800 million in 2000, compared to US$40 million in 1993 and a maximum of US$880 million in 1998. In 2000, Russia conducted 24 launches and lofted 35 satellites onto orbit, including 20 for foreign customers. Five more launches are due by the end of the year, including three foreign ones (QuickBird 1 on Kosmos 3M, EROS-A1 on Start 1 and Sirius 3 on Proton K, all in November).
November 14
The fourth commercial flight of Arianespace's Ariane 5G is postponed by 24 hours (to November 16) due to an anomaly on the ground segment of the primary payload's telemetry.
Editor's note: The seventh Ariane 5 is intended to loft 6,313 kg of payload (including adapters) into a supersynchronous transfer orbit thus establishing a new load performance for missions toward the geostationary orbit.
November 6
The maiden flight of the Proton M/Breeze M combination has apparently been postponed indefinitely, apparently due to technical problems on a digital controller onboard the GKNPTs Khrunichev-built Proton M vehicle. The controller reportedly failed on several ground tests. According to Russian space magazine Novosti Kosmonavtiki, the launcher, which has been in Baykonur since July, might be shipped back to Khrunichev's facilities in Moscow for modifications.
Editor's note: The first operational flight of the Proton M/Breeze M was due to loft the Intelsat 903 satellite to geostationary transfer orbit sometime around mid-2001. This improved version of the Proton is ultimately planned to replace the current Proton K with its Block DM upper stage provided by RKK Energiya.

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 Government Launchers

November 29
Japan's National Space Development Agency officially postpones the maiden flight of its H-2A launch vehicle, from February 2001 to the third quarter of the year at the earliest. This delay was decided as a consequence of earlier problems in the development of the H-2A's core stage cryogenic engine, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries LE-7A.
Editor's note: The payload for this maiden flight will be an instrumented dummy spacecraft. An option also reported would be to fly the first H-2A with a standard LE-7 engine from the earllier H-2 launch vehicle.
November 22
NASA has decided to postpone the launch of a Boeing Delta 2/7326 vehicle, due to loft the Genesis solar wind particle sample return probe, from February 10 to June 6/16 in order to allow the teams at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to focus on the launch preparation of the 2001 Mars Odyssey probe on April 7.
November 15
Rosaviakosmos' director general, Yuri Koptev, complains that underfunding prevents the Russian aerospace agency from fulfilling its international space obligations regarding manned and science programs. According to Koptev, Russia is currently unable to deliver the Proton launch vehicle for ESA's International Gamma Ray Laboratory (Integral) which is due for launch in April 2002.
November 15
A Boeing Delta 2 multi-payload launch due on November 18 has slipped to November 19 after an unspecified contamination was reported on the payload composite. The Delta 2/7320 vehicle is due to loft NASA's first New Millennium Earth Observer probe (EO-1), together with Agentina's SAC-C remote sensing satellite and Sweden's Munin science microsatellite. University of Colorado's Citizen Explorer 1 (CX-1) microsatellite has been removed from the mission as it did not meet the deadline for integration on the launch vehicle.
November 9
The launch of a Boeing Delta 2/7925 vehicle, to loft a Navstar Block 2R satellite to replenish U.S. Air Force's Global Positioning System constellation, has been postponed from November 9 to November 10 to check that a locking nut was correctly installed on the fuel line for one its first stage's two vernier engines.
 



GSLV
(ISRO)
November 3
The maiden flight of Indian Space Research Organisation's Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is now set for the second half of February 2001. Indian press sources report that all elements of the vehicle are now at the Sriharikota Range and will be prepared for the launch. A mission of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), carrying an experimental military remote sensing satellite known as the Technology Evaluation Satellite, has now been bumped to mid-2001.
Editor's note: A third Indian satellite is due for launch in 2001: Insat 3C, which will be lofted to orbit by an Arianespace Ariane 5 vehicle.
 
 
November 3
NASA and the International Astronomical Union have released a statement regarding the near-Earth asteroid 2000 SG 344 which will come back in the vicinity of Earth in 2030 with a 1 in 500 probability of actually colliding the planet. Analysis of the asteroid's trajectory and luminosity suggests that it could be one of the four S-4B upper stages of Saturn 5 launch vehicles (Apollo 8, 10, 11 and 12) which eventually entered heliocentric orbit at the end of the missions.
Editor's note: S-4B stages on missions Apollo 13 to 17 were crashed on the Moon in order to investigate its inner structure by monitoring the echo of their impact through the sismologic network installed by the astronauts.
November 2
Alliant TechSystems (ATK) was awarded a contract by Boeing Expendable Launch Systems to manufacture composite aeroskirts for Delta 4 launch vehicles. The aeroskirts will be developped by ATK Aerospace Composite Structures Co. at its Southern Composites Center in Iuka, Mississipi, and delivered through 2003.

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 Small Launchers

November 28
EarthWatch is weighing different options for its QuickBird 2 satellite after the loss of QuickBird 1 shortly after launch by a Russian Kosmos 3M vehicle on November 20. QuickBird 2 was due for launch atop another Kosmos 3M by mid-2001 but EarthWatch has announced that it will take its final decision with respect to its shareholders' best interest.
Editor's note: As the government market for high-resolution commercial satellites is smaller than expected and EarthWatch will get a significant refund for its first satellite, a decision not to complete the QuickBird 2 satellite is presumably among the options under consideration.
November 27
The launch of the EROS-A1 commercial remote sensing astellite atop a Start 1 vehicle has been postponed from November 28 to December 5, due to "technical reasons," according to the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN).
November 25
A commission has been formed by Rosaviakosmos and the Russian ministry of Defense to investigate the loss of EarthWatch's QuickBird 1 satellite shortly after launch by a Russian Kosmos 3M vehicle on November 20. A preliminary investigation concluded that the booster performed correctly. However, a second stage mishap while out of telemetry stations range is the likeliest scenario according to analysts.
Editor's note: According to Jonathan Space Report, the last Kosmos 3M failure, in 1995, had a similar profile and was attributed to contamination in the oxidizer lines for the second stage KB KhimMash 11D49 main engine.
November 23
Despite radar evidence that the QuickBird 1 satellite was released on a suborbital trajectory after the failure of a Kosmos 3M launch vehicle on November 20, a Russian commission reviewing the launch claims that "according to telemetric measurements", the vehicle "performed normally in flight." The commission concludes that the failure was satellite-related.
November 21
The multipayload launch of a Boeing Delta 2/7320, carrying the first New Millennium Earth Observer probe (EO-1) for NASA, and the SAC-C remote sensing satellite for Argentina's CONAE, was the first to use the new Dual Payload Attach Fitting (DPAF) developed by Astrium. The 336-kg adapter made of aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastic-skinned aluminum honeycomb, which is based on Astrium Ltd.'s expertise acquired with the Speltra dual launch structures for Arianespace's Ariane 4 launchers, allows the Delta 2 to launch two satellites not specifically designed to fly together and thus to compete with smaller vehicles such as Orbital Sciences' Taurus or Lockheed Martin's Athena.
Editor's note: Two more Delta 2 flights involving DPAF are scheduled in 2001: in March on a Delta 2/7920, to loft the CNES/NASA Jason 1 oceanography satellite with NASA's Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energy and Dynamics (TIMED) mission, and in October, again on a Delta 2/7320, to loft two NASA payloads, the ICESat oceanography, altimetryu and gravimetry mission and the Cooperative Astrophysics and Technology satellite (Catsat). A third mission, in March 2003 on a Delta 2/7420, will presumably use the DPAF to accomodate two atmosphere monitoring missions: Picasso-Cena, again under a CNES/NASA cooperation, and the NASA/Canadian Space Agency Cloudsat.
November 21
The launch of EarthWatch's QuickBird 1 remote sensing satellite atop a Russian Kosmos 3M vehicle on November 20 has failed according to orbital parameters released by the U.S. Space Command. The upper stage apparently failed to circularize the orbit and the 950-kg Ball-built satellite ended on a 84 x 616 km orbit which caused it to reenter shortly after launch.
Editor's note: The cost of QuickBird 1 is estimated at about US$60 million but the launch was reportedly insured for US$265 million.
 



Polyot
(Energiya)
November 17
Yuri Koptev, director general of Rosaviakosmos, qualifies the Polyot airborne launch vehicle proposed by the AKK Vozdushnyï Start ("Air Launch") consortium as "inexpedient", since the launch market for 3,000-kg-class payloads to low Earth orbit is practically non-existent.
Editor's note: AKK Vozdushnyï Start plans to begin operations in 2003 with the two-stage Polyot vehicle, under development by RKK Energiya, deployed in flight by an heavy-lift Antonov 124 cargo aircraft. Total development cost of the project is estimated at US$120-130 million. The company's backers are AK Polyot, Russia's first privately-held airline company, RKK Energiya, Korporatsiya BoRo and KB KhimAvtomatiki.
 
 



Shtil 1
(Makeyev)
November 17
Rosaviakosmos plans to conduct four space launches onboard Shtil 1 modified sea-launched ballistic missiles in 2001. Two launches are scheduled in the first quarter: one to loft Izmiran's Kompass microsatellite for Earthquake detection and the other to test-fly a solar sail. Two more launches are slated for the third quarter with the second test-flights of a solar sail and of NPO Lavochkin's inflatable reentry shield. On this latter mission, the payload will be released onto a suborbital trajectory with a landing due in Australia. Rosaviakosmos also reports that development of a more powerful Shtil 2 version is underway with a payload capability of upto 250 kg to low Earth orbit.
Editor's note: NPO Lavotchkin tested its inflatable reentry shield on February 8, with the Inflatable Reentry & Descent Technology (IRDT) mission. A 110-kg demonstrator was recovered but the larger 1,800-kg Fregat upper stage, which featured a similar recovery system, was lost at reentry, possibly landing in the midst of a snowstorm. Kompass was initially due for launch in October 1996.
 
 
November 17
AeroAstro Inc. was awarded a US$3-million contract by Malaysia's Astronautic Technology Sdn Bhd to build its first Small Payload ORbit Transfer (SPORT) vehicle. The SPORT vehicle is intended to be launched piggyback atop an Ariane 5 vehicle to a geostationary transfer orbit and later to conduct a series of maneuvers in order to bring its Malaysian payload back to a low Earth orbit.
Editor's note: AeroAstro has a cooperative agreement with Arianespace for the development of a SPORT system compatible with the Ariane 5's Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-5).
November 16
China's Kaituozhe 1 (KT-1) small launcher successfully completes its design review and the project will officially enter the engineering phase.
November 16
Russia plans to conduct two space launches in 2001 from its Svobodniy cosmodrome near the Chinese border. Two Start 1 vehicles are slated for launch in February, to loft Swedish Space Corp.'s long-delayed Odin science satellite, and in the fourth quarter, carrying West Indian Space's EROS-A2 commercial remote sensing satellite.
November 13
U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center has awarded four indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts to Coleman Research Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Astronautics Operations, Orbital Sciences Corp. and Space Vector Corp. for the provision of suborbital launch services to conduct ballistic flight tests with ranges less than 5,500 km under the Sounding Rocket Program follow-on (SRP-2) effort. Total value of the procurement may amount to US$96 million.
November 11
The launch of a Start 1 vehicle on November 28 to loft the EROS-A1 remote sensing satellite for IWest Indian Space Ltd. could be postponed to early December for "technical reasons" according to ZAO Puskoviye Uslugi which manages the mission. The launch will be conducted from Svobodniy, using a mobile launcher designed for RS-12M "Topol" intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Editor's note: The launch was sold by United Start, Puskoviye Uslugi's agent in the United States, to Israel's ImageSat Corporation which will operate the Israel Aircraft Industries-built satellite for WIS.
November 10
The November 8 deadline for the US$250,000 Cheap Access To Space (CATS) competition organized by the Space Frontier Foundation in November 1997 for the first amateur team to reach an altitude of 200 km with a 2-kg payload has passed with no winner. The deadline will not be postponed and the competition is cancelled.
 



DF-31
(China)
November 7
According to Go Taikonauts, China's new all-solid SLV-1 small launch vehicle has been officially christened Kaituozhe 1 (Explorer 1). The vehicle is under development by Space Solid Fuel Rocket Carrier Co. Ltd. (SSRC) and is due to first fly in 2002.
Editor's note: The Kaituozhe 1 is supposed to be a civilian derivative of China's new DF-31 ICBM with a apayload capability of 100 kg into polar low Earth orbit (the 300-kg capability announced in initial statements in May might be for lower inclinations). Members of the SSRC consortium are China Machinery and Electronics Engineering Integrated Design Department, China Space Machinery and Electronics (Group) Co., the Space Solid Fuel Rocket Propulsion Technology Research Institute, the Controls and Electronics Technology Research Institute and the Chenguang (Group) Co. Ltd.
 

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 Missile Systems

November 30
U.S. and Russian delegations have met in Washington, D.C., to begin drafting the third Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start 3). The proposed agreement would cap strategic arsenals at 1,500 warheads on each side.
Editor's note: The Start 2 treaty, ratified by the Russian Duma earlier this year, limits the number of nuclear warheads for the United States and Russia to 3,500 each. The United States currently have some 6,000 warheads deployed.
November 30
A fire destroyed most of a U.S. Air Force ballistic missile launch support facility depending from the 91st Space Wing at Minot AFB, near Plaza, North Dakota. The fire broke out in a diesel generator room and forced 13 workers to escape to the surface while the two missile crew members sealed themselves in an underground shelter. No one was injured and the 10 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles in the area, which were constnatly monitored by the underground crew, were reported "safe and secure."
November 30
EADS Launch Vehicles and the G2P consortium (Snecma Moteurs and Groupe SNPE), respectively prime contractor and prime propulsion contractor for France's M-51 sea-launched ballistic missiles, officially announce that they have completed the negotiation with the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement, French Ministry of Defense's procurement agency, regarding the resumption of the development activities. A contract worth 2.85 million euros has been signed for one firm two-year phase and options for two more three-year phases. The M-51 maiden flight is now due in 2005 while the production contracts will be signed in 2003 to deliver the first batch of 16 missiles in 2008 for the launch of French Navy's fourth new generation submarine (SNLE-NG), Le Terrible ('The Fearsome").
November 28
The United States and Russia are about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on advanced notice for space and ballistic missile launches. The agreement will cover launches of all vehicles reaching 500 km in altitude or in range. The U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy have expressed strong concerns regarding the MoU considering it may hinder the development of new launch-on-demand systems as well as of a military spaceplane.
November 23
Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) claims that it will not be affected by U.S. sanctions and that it has no relationship with the nation's ballistic missile development. On November 21, the U.S. administration imposed a two-year ban on the import of certain U.S. technologies to Suparco and the Pakistanese Ministry of Defense. According to Suparco's secratry and chief scientist Naseem Shah, the aerospace agency has not imported anything from the United States since 1990.
 


  
Hera and Minuteman 2
(Coleman/US Air Force)
November 15
Russia is concerned by the United States fly-testing Coleman Research's Hera ballistic target vehicles according to Itar-Tass. Russia considers the two-stage vehicle, which was developed from the second and third stages of retired Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles and incorporates the guidance system from the Pershing 2 medium-range missile, as a new Medium-Range Ballistic Missile and a violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on the elimination of medium- and short-range missiles which was signed by the United States and Russia on December 8, 1987. Russian officials are asking for an immediate withdrawing of Hera test flights and the scrapping of all Minuteman 2 stages.
Editor's note: Hera target vehicles have been used mainly to test Lockheed Martin's Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missile. Minuteman 2 elements are too be scrapped under the terms of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1).
 
 
November 15
U.S. Air Force's Ogden Air Logistics Center has exercised a US$171.2-million option on a contract previously signed with TRW ICBM Systems for the procurement of 80 NS-50 missile guidance systems through December 2001 under the Minuteman 3 ballistic missile system guidance replacement program.
 



M-51 SLBM
(EADS-LV)
November 14
Final development of France's M-51 sea-launched ballistic missile will resume before the end of November as an agreement was reached between Délégation Générale pour l'Armement, the French Ministry of Defense's procurement agency, EADS Launch Vehicles, prime contractor for the program and the G2P consortium (Snecma Moteurs and Groupe SNPE) in charge of the propulsion, regarding the completion of the development program. Under this agreement, EADS will receive FF19 billion (US$2.4 million) over 8 years to complete the development while the G2P will be awarded FF5 billion (US$600 million) over 5 years. In order to shave costs, DGA now plans to conduct the fourth qualification test flight of the new missile after its introduction in 2008. An option to reuse the M45's upper stage instaed of developping a new stage is also under review.
Editor's note: The M-51 program was decided in January 1996 to replace French navy's current M-45. The M-51 is a cheaper version of the M-5, whose development had been decided in 1992 but was facing major cost difficulties. The program was officially instated under a FF3,765-million (US$500-million) two-year contract in September 1998 with a major cost reduction compared to Aerospatiale's proposal. In September, DGA decided to modify the development contracts while reporting a 40% cost overrun in the program. Workers at EADS-LV plants went on strike to protest against this decision. EADS acknowledged only a 10-15% overcost due to the new French regulation regarding the reduction of working time to 35 hours per week which will force the company to close its St.-Médard-en-Jalles plant for two weeks in November and December.
 
 
November 13
According to the head of Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN), Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, Russia may reintroduce multiple warheads on its ballistic missiles if the United States stick to their proposed policy to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty to allow the deployment of a U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system. Multiple Integrated Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) have been banned by the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-2), ratified in April by the Russian parliament.
November 13
Russian president Vladimir S. Putin proposes that Russia and the United States prepare plans to reduce their nuclear weaponry below the previously set target of 1,500 warheads each. However, he did not give a specific number. Under the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-2), ratified in April by the Russian parliament, Russia will reduce its nuclear forces to 3,500 warheads by 2007. The START-3 treaty, currently under negotiation, calls for a reduction to 2,000/2,500 warheads for each country. According to the Russian president, Russia is ready to reduce its forces to 1,500 warheads by 2008.
Editor's note: According to Western analysts, due to its dire economic conditions, Russia cannot affort more than 1,000/1,200 warheads in its strategic forces.
November 9
Northrop Grumman Marine Systems was awarded a US$9-million increase to an existing contract with U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs to provide launcher closures and gas generators for Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles through January 2002.
November 6
Kearfott Guidance & Navigation was awarded a US$16.9-million two-year contract by U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs for the procurement 44 Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) for Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles as well as 6 sets of subassemblies and refurbishment/certification of another 72 IMUs. The contract, which also covers technical support, includes options for an extension to January 2004 with a total value amounting to US$49.9 million.
November 6
Team SBL-IFX, a joint-venture of TRW Space & Electronics, Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space and Boeing Space & Communications was awarded a US$97-million contract by U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center for the second phase of the Space-Based Laser Integrated Flight Experiment (SBL-IFX) technology program through November 2001. The program is aimed at launching an experimental laser onto orbit in 2012 in order to demonstrate ballistic missile interception in 2013.
 



RS-18
(Khrunichev)
November 3
The Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) may decide to extend the operational life of their RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles to 2005 following the successful test-flight of a 25-year-old missile on November 1st.
Editor's note: Under the START-2 disarmament treaty, Russia may keep 105 operational RS-18 missiles with a single warhead each. Currently, the RVSN operates two RS-18 launch units with a total of 168 missiles, each carrying 6 warheads.
 
 
November 2
The Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) will retain their present status through 2006 when several operational ballistic missile units will be dismantled to cope with requirements from disarmament treaties, according to Sergei Ivanov, secretary of the Russian Security Council.
November 2
Lockheed Martin Space Systems was awarded a US$63.5-million contract by the U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs to provide navigation systems for U.S. Navy's and British Royal Navy's Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles through January 2003.
November 1
Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) have test-flown a 25-year-old RS-18 (SS-19 "Stiletto") ballistic missile from Plestesk. The dummy warhead successfully hit its target at the Kura testing ground on the Kamchatka peninsula.
Editor's note: The RS-18 is the basis of Eurockot's Rokot and NPO Mashinostroeniya's Strela launch vehicles.

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 RLVs and Reentry Systems

November 15
EADS Launch Vehicles has qualified the thermal protection material for Great-Britain's Beagle 2 Mars lander due to be released by European Space Agency's Mars Express probe in December 2003. The Beagle 2 will feature a Norcoat cork shield to protect it during reentry. It will then perform a hard landing with airbags on a "Mars-Pathfinder-style."
November 13
United Space Alliance will conduct additional inspections of Space Shuttle Endeavour before it is rolled out from the Kennedy Space Center's Vertical Assembly Building to its launch pad prior to the STS-97 mission due for launch on December 1st. These inspections were ordered in the wake of an investigation regarding a 10-cm long metal pin that had fallen 22 m onto a fuel line of Space Shuttle Discovery's external tank and was only spotted a few hours before its planned liftoff for the STS-92 mission in October.
November 10
Florida Spacegram reports that SpaceLiner Corp., a new Texas-based space transportation venture, has issued a Request for Proposal for components and services for its proposed two-stage reusable spaceplane system. SpaceLiner plans to operate its vehicle from Homestead Air Reserve Base in South Florida.
November 2
The refurbished initial subscale prototype of NASA's X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) demonstrator, Vehicle 131R, was test-flown from Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards AFB, California, 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. This drop-test also was the first to demonstrate European Space Agency's guidance and navigation software to be used on the actual CRV. The former Vehicle 131 was released from NASA's NB-52B carrier aircraft at an altitude of 11,000 m and immediatly encountered turbulence. The new flight control system failed after a few seconds causing the vehicle to enter a 360° roll for 30 seconds. It did not recover until the parachute was deployed. An anomaly was also reported during the drogue chute deployment but did not affect the release of the parafoil. At the end of the 9-minute glide, the 80%-scale-model of the CRV landed safely on Edwards AFB's dry lake bed.
Editor's note: Five to six more drop-tests are planned before a full-scale prototype, Vehicle 201, is released in orbit by Space Shuttle Columbia and tested on a real atmospheric reentry trajectory in 2002.

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 Space Propulsion

November 27
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center have awarded a US$7.9-million extension to GenCorp Aerojet's US$15-million contract under the Integrated Powerhead Program. This effort, initiated in 1994, intends to foster technologies for low-cost, lightweight and reliable rocket engines similar to those developed by Russian industry, to prepare for future highly reusable rocket engine. Aerojet's activity will now last through December 2003 with updated combustion systems designs to demonstrate critical technologies such as long life formed platelet liner combustion chambers, hydrogen cooled and milled channel nozzles as well as oxidizer and fuel rich preburners. A series of tests on a technology demonstrator engine is planned in 2003 at NASA's Stennis Space Center.
Editor's note: Aerojet also plans to use the results of this program in the joint development of the Cobra engine with Pratt&Whitney for next generation reusable launch vehicles.
November 27
The U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program office has reported that four more RD-180 engines will be delivered by Russia's NPO Energomash for integration on Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 vehicles. Three flight engines are already available in the U.S. for integration on Atlas 3 vehicles. Under the current schedule, the first of the new RD-180 engines will be integrated on an Atlas 5 common core booster in January.
 



RS-68
(Rocketdyne)
November 21
Boeing claims that the incident on a RS-68 engine during a static firing at NASA's Stennis Space Center earlier this month will have no consequence on the engine development. According to Boeing, which first denied the mishap, the engine suffered a fuel pump turbine blade failure which caused "quite limited". The RS-68, developed by Boeing Rocketdyne, has already completed 95 static tests and logged 4,665 seconds of operations. Qualification tests are scheduled to begin in February and last through the the third quarter. The RS-68 is due to power the common booster core stage of Boeing's Delta 4 family of launchers whose maiden flight is officially due in November 2001.
Editor's note: In the meantime, Lockheed Martin has completed the qualification of the RD AmRoss RD-180 engine for its Atlas 5 launcher, due to compete with the Delta 4, which has flown once on the Atlas 3A and logged 20,000 seconds of burn time.
 
 
November 18
The rumored failure of a Boeing Rocketdyne RS-68 cryogenic engine, which had been firmly denied by Boeing, was eventually confirmed by U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle deputy program director, Col. Sue Mashiko. According to earlier sources, the failure occured before or on November 9 during a static firing test at NASA's Stennis Space Center, has been denied.
Editor's note: The 2,891-kN RS-68 engine is designed to power the common booster core stage of Boeing's Delta 4 family.
November 16
SpaceDev has completed the first test firing of its new orbital Maneuvering & Transfer Vehicle (MTV) hybrid rocket motor at its headquarters in Poway, California. the test was successful and the motor was disassembled for inspection and evaluation. SpaceDev plans to develop the motor for three sizes of MTVs as well as a larger version for manned suborbital space planes.
November 11
SpaceDev plans to conduct the first test firing of its new orbital Maneuvering & Transfer Vehicle (MTV) hybrid rocket motor at its headquarters in Poway, California, on November 15. The 30/45-sec. static firing is scheduled at 10:00 am PST. A webcam broadcast is planned. SpaceDev reports that two preliminary firing tests have been conducted with success.
Editor's note: The MTV motor is about 30-cm long and 12-cm in diameter. It is designed to fly on SpaceDev's proposed orbital maneuvering and transfer vehicles for small satellites.
November 9
The rumored failure of a Boeing Rocketdyne RS-68 cryogenic engine, which had supposedly suffered a dramatic failure during a static firing test at NASA's Stennis Space Center, has been denied. This 2,891-kN engine is designed to power the common booster core stage of Boeing's Delta 4 family.

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 Spaceports

November 21
Spaceport Florida will conduct two LiteStar suborbital launches on December 12 and 13 to validate a new control system and launch rail infrastructure at Cape Canaveral's LC-20 pad. The control system, provided by Command & Control Technologies Corp., is a multi user, multi-vehicle system that will replace a previous van-based control system. The new rail launcher is compatible with large suborbital rockets and will support at least two Terrier-based launches in 2001.
November 16
Kazakhstan announces that it is ready to extend the lease of the Baykonur cosmodrome area to Russia for an additional 10 years. The current agreement, settled in 1994, already covers a 20-year lease.
 
 


            
Proton K and Proton M (Khrunichev), Soyuz U (TsSKB-Progress),
Dnepr 1 (Kosmotras) and Zenit 2 (Yuzhnoye)
 
 
November 17
Russia plans to conduct 25 launches from Baykonur in 2001: eleven Proton K and M, eleven Soyuz U (including eight toward the International Space Station), two Dnepr 1 and one Zenit 2 (to loft the long-delayed Meteor 3M-N1 satellite with 3 piggyback payloads). Two more Soyuz flights maybe added to launch Progress M tugs to Mir for its deorbiting.
Editor's note: The Proton launch manifest apparently includes the maiden flight of Proton M meaning that it has slipped beyond December. Other national payloads to be flown include a pair of Ekspress AYa communication satellites, the second Arkon military imaging satellite, the Elektro 2 geostationary meteorological satellite and possibly the long-delayed Spektrum-Roentgen-Gamma observatory. At least four commercial launches are scheduled on behalf of International Launch Services to loft PanAmSat's PAS-10, Intelsat's Intelsat 903 (announced on a Proton M), Société Européenne des Satellites' Astra 1K (although its is also manifested on an Arianespace Ariane vehicle and has recently been announced to have slipped into 2002) and Asiasat's Asiasat 4 (presumably as a back-up since the launch has been annonced on a Lockheed Martin Atlas 3).
The Soyuz launches may include two Starsem missions: a Soyuz-Ikar launch to loft a cluster of four Globalstar satellites and the maiden flight of the new Soyuz/ST version. The eight flights to the ISS include five of Progress M/M1 supply ships, two of Soyuz TM/TMA ferries and one for the Docking Module.
 
 
 


         
Rokot KM (Eurockot), Tsyklon 3 (Yuzhnoye),
Soyuz U (TsSKB-Progress) and Kosmos 3M (Puskovye Uslugi)
 
 
November 14
Russia plans to conduct 11 orbital launches from its Northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk in 2000, five of which are scheduled during the third quarter. These missions will include seven flights of Eurockot Rokot KM boosters (one for joint NASA-DLR Gravity Recovery & Climate Experiment mission in June and up to six more for the Leo One and E-Sat commercial messaging constellations provided that they can complete their funding), two of Tsyklon 3 (including one for the long-delayed Koronas F probe), one Soyuz (presumably for a military observation satellite) and one Kosmos 3M (to loft EarthWatch's QuickBird 2 commercial remote sensing satellite).
 
 
November 11
The Spaceport Florida Authority has awrade a one-year contract to Lockheed Martin Technical Operations to operate its LC-46 and LC-20 launch facilities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for orbital and suborbital missions. Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will conduct suborbital launches using SFA's LiteStar, Terrier, and Orion rockets, as well as two test launches for the SFA's ASAS suborbital upper-stage development program.
Editor's note: LC-46 can be used to launch Castor 120-based launch vehicles and U.S. Navy Trident 2 (D5) ballistic missiles. LC-20 is being refurbished to accommodate multiple suborbital launch systems such as the LiteStar, Terrier, Orion, and ASAS rockets as well as orbital launchers like the Minotaur and other Minuteman-based vehicles or the LeoLink family of rockets.
November 10
Rosaviakosmos is considering the possiblity to launch its new generation of global navigation satellites, Glonass M and Glonass K, from Plesetsk instead of Baykonur. A Proton-class vehicle could launch triplets of Glonass M or sextets of Glonass K satellites while a Soyuz vehicle could loft a single Glonass M or a pair of Glonass Ks.
Editor's note: Current 1,415-kg Glonass V satellites are launched by clusters of three on Proton K vehicles from Baykonur.
November 3
ITT Industries was awarded a US$81.2-million contract by U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center to support range systems improvement at both Eastern and Western Test Ranges through 2006. This Spacelift Range Systems Contract includes systems engineering through October 2006, instrumentation modernization design effort through May 2002, as well as developmental engineering, data management and maintenance through October 2001. This contract also covers support for the Multiple Object Tracking Radar network at the Eastern and Western Test Ranges, White Sands Missile Range and at locations in Great-Britain.
Editor's note: This contract reportedly includes options which could bring its total value to US$1.3 billion over 10 years.
November 2
The Venezuelan government is studying a proposal by Texas-based Lone Star Space Access Corp. to build up a commercial space launch facility in the southwestern part of the country. Local newspaper reported that the La Esmeralda Region, in venezuelan Amazonia, had been selected while officials refer to "some regions in the Orinoco-Apure area."
Editor's note: Lone Star, formerly known as Dynamica Research, is a candidate for the X-Prize competition. It proposes to fly tourists onto suborbital trajectories onboard its self-designed Cosmos Mariner spaceplane. For the last months, the Venezuelan government actively opposed plans by neighboring country Guyana to develop a commercial spaceport for Beal Aerospace's BA-2 vehicles in the disputed Essequibo region. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez even claimed that the U.S.-funded facility would lead to a U.S. military presence in the area. The Guyana spaceport project was shelved with Beal Aerospace's collapse in October.
November 2
A 14-km-long pipeline is inaugurated in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to provide pressurized helium to the new Boeing Delta 4 launch facility at SLC-37 from the Helium Production Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The pipeline will also serve as a backup helium source for Space Shuttle launches.
Editor's note: The KSC Helium Facility, which supplies pressurized helium for space shuttle launches through a dedicated pipeline can produce up to 51 cubic meters of helium per minute at a pressure of up to 400 bars.

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 Industry

November 29
Sweden's Saab Ericsson Space will acquire a 65% share in Fokker Space, the leading Dutch space company. The remaining shares will be acquired by Stork, a major aerospace company in The Netherlands. A letter of intent was signed and the deal is expected to be concluded in early 2001. As a consequence of the acquisition, Fokker Space will change its name to Dutch Space Industry BV (DSI).
Editor's note: Originally a member of the Fokker group, Fokker Space was established as an independent company in 1995 and thus went unaffected when the whole Fokker company collapsed in 1996. Mostly known for its solar arrays, Fokker Space is also a major contributor for the Ariane program as it provides thrust frames for the Ariane 5 core cryogenic stage.
November 10
GenCorp Aerojet and Pratt&Whitney have ended their negotiations to set up a space propulsion joint venture. Officially, due to "a number of unexpected issues in program transition and transition requirements," the two companies have concluded that they cannot "achieve the cost benefits required for their shareholders and customers." Space News cites the high cost of closing and relocating Aerojet production lines at Pratt&Whitney's facilities in San Jose, California (solid propulsion) and West Palm Beach, Florida (liquid propulsion).
November 9
General Dynamics Corp. unveils its plan to acquire Primex Technologies Inc., a major supplier of propulsion systems for satellites and upper stages which recently delivered its 10,000th satellite thruster to Lockheed Martin.
November 9
MAN Technologie AG has acquired Dowty Aerospace's space propellant tanks business. The former Dowty Space Projects unit, based in Wolverhampton, Great-Britain, will be renamed as MT Satellite Products Ltd.

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 Launch Market

November 30
Alcatel Space Industries was awarded a contract, worth 1.39 billion euros, by the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement, French Ministry of Defense's procurement agency, to develop France's Syracuse 3 next generation military satellite communications system. The Syracuse 3 satellite will be launched on an Ariane 4 vehicle in December 2003.
Editor's note: As the Ariane 4 will be phased out in 2003, Syracuse 3 could be its final payload. Syracuse 1 and Syracuse 2 were military X-band payloads onboard the Télécom 1 and Télécom 2 communication satellites.
November 30
Spacehab was awarded a US$10.5-million extension to an existing contract with Boeing to provide additional payload accommodation services for the STS-114 (ISS-ULF1) space shuttle mission to the International Space Station in June 2002. Spacehab's initial US$5.1-million contract covered the STS-102 (ISS-5A.1) mission in February 2001. Under this extended contract, Spacehab will introduce a new, deployable cargo carrier, the External Stowage Platform (ESP2). Derived from the Integrated Cargo carrier (ICC), the ESP2 will be attached to the ISS airlock as a permanent spare-parts stowage facility.
November 29
According to French weekly trade magazine "L'Expansion", Alcatel has decided to put its SkyBridge constellation project for high-data-rate communications on hold for a while due to difficulties in raisong the necessary US$6-billion budget for the project. The overall concept might be redesigned into a less ambitious geostationary constellation. Alcatel reportedly denied the information.
Editor's note: Alcatel has signed risk-partnership agreements with Boeing and Starsem to deploy the SkyBridge constellation into low Earth orbit onboard two Delta 3, four Delta 4M+ (5,4) and eleven Soyuz/ST launch vehicles. A demise of the SkyBridge low-Earth orbit constellation might prevent the completion of the Soyuz/ST development while the selection of a geostationary concept would bring Arianespace back in line as a strong contender for its deployment.
November 29
The U.S. Space Command reports that the Iridium 79 satellite reentered the atmosphere and broke up over the Arctic ocean. The satellite, which had failed in orbit two months after its launch on a Boeing Delta 2 on September 4, 1998, is the first of the ill-fated US$5-billion constellation to be destroyed after natural orbit decay. Another satellite, Iridium 85, which failed about 9 days after its launch, also on a Delta 2, on November 6, 1998, will reenter before December 17.
Editor's note: On 88 Iridium satellites launched, at least 19 have failed and will decay within months. The remaining satellites are about to be handed over to Iridium Satellites LLC, the venture which bought the whole operating constellation from Iridium LLC earlier this month.
November 24
PanAmSat confirms the in-orbit failure of its Galaxy 7 satellite on November 22 due to a faulty processor. An insurance claim worth US$132 million will be filed.
Editor's note: As Galaxy 7 was used mainly as an in-orbit back-up since the launch of Galaxy 11 in December 1999, which took over its active duty, no replacement satellite will have to be launched for it in the short term.
November 23
Multiple unofficial sources report the in-orbit failure of at least one and possibly two Boeing 601 satellites. PanAmSat's Galaxy 7 is reportedly lost while a major failure may also have ocurred onboard NASA's TDRS-8.
Editor's note: If confirmed, these failures will mean that the space insurance sector will report a net loss for the year 2000 as the Quickbird 1 launch failure already meant that losses would equal the cumulated amount of collected premiums. No delay is expected on upcoming Boeing Satellites launches as the next Boeing 601 is due to fly in 2002 (JC-Sat 8 on an Ariane). A Boeing 601HP, PAS-10, is still scheduled for the first quarter of 2001 on a Proton vehicle.
November 23
Indian Air Force chief, A.Y. Tipnis, asks for an increased Indian effort toward manned space flights to prevent the country from "lagging behind" in this field.
November 19
Rosaviakosmos is looking for additional funding to complete and launch the 6-ton Spektrum-Roentgen-Gamma (formerly Spektrum X/Gamma) spacecraft for which ten European countries and Israel have already delivered US$300-million worth of equipment. A launch is still considered technically feasible in 2001.
Editor's note: Initially due for launch in 1992, Spektrum-RG is being built by NPO Lavochkin as part of a series of large observatories based on a Prognoz GEO platform which was decided at the time of the Soviet Union. Further Spektrum missions, Spektrum-R (Radioastron) and Spektrum-UV, are considered dead.
November 16
StarBand Communications Inc., a joint-venture of Gilat, Echostar Communications Corp. and Microsoft Corp., plans to procure two satellites (one active and one in-orbit spare) for high-speed Internet delivery services over the United States. StarBand satellites are planned for launch in 2003.
November 16
The Canadian government has awarded three licenses to launch and operate new satellites. Telesat Canada was cleared to procure and launch a second Nimiq direct broadcasting satellite while Star Choice and ExpressVu were both allowed to deploy Ka-band satellites to provide high data rate services.
Editor's note: It is not clear yet whether Star Choice's and ExpressVu's licenses are for new satellites or services using capacities on existing or future commercial satellites.
November 16
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York has approved the sale of all operating assets of Iridium LLC to the new Iridium Satellite LLC venture which has contracted with Boeing to operate the ill-fated low-Earth orbit constellation.
November 9
Boeing Information Systems and Lockheed Martin Space Systems have each been awarded a one-year, US$16-million contract by U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center to study architectures for the third generation of Global Positioning System (GPS-3). The new constellation is tentatively planned to be operational from 2010 through 2030.
November 8
Great-Britain's Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. has signed a contract with the Nigerian government for the development and launch of its first satellite within the next two years. NigeriaSat 1 is a 80-kg-class microsatellite to be developed as part of SSTL's Disaster Monitoring Constellation which will include four other satellites provided by Great-Britain and Algeria (AlSat 1) as well as, potentially, China and Thailand. The £7.46-million (US$11-million) contract also includes a feasibility study regarding NigeriaSat 2, a geostationary communication satellite based on the 400-kg class Minisatellite platform developed by SSTL and introduced in 1999 with UoSat 12. Total cost of these developments could amount to US$75 million.
Editor's note: With two foreign partners signed in, the DMC network is now considered on tracks and the British National Space Center is due to release its promised funding under the £15-million (US$22-million) Micro Satellite Applications in Collaboration (Mosaic) program. Although no firm plan has been decided yet, the baseline DMC deployment scenario is based on a single launch by a Dnepr 1 vehicle provided by MKK Kosmotras. Similarly, the NigeriaSat 2 project would be the commercial application behind BNSC's Gemini project for the development of low cost small geostationary communication satellite also under Mosaic.
November 6
Space Radar Corp., a subsidiary of Research & Development Laboratories (RDL), had to surrender its license to build and operate a commercial radar remote sensing satellite due to allegations of fraud in the award of a U.S. government contract. Space Radar Corp., which was awarded its license in 1998, had planned to launch the Radar 1 satellite in 2001. No firm prime contractor was apparently selected however.
November 6
Luxembourg-based Société Européenne des Satellites, which operates the Astra network of direct broadcasting satellites, has ordered a new spacecraft from Boeing Satellite Systems. Astra 3A will be based on the vintage Boeing 376HP spin-stabilized bus and carry 20 high-power Ku-band transponders. It will be launched in the first quarter of 2002 and be deployed at a new orbital slot over Europe, 23.5°East, under an agreement with Deutsche Telekom.
November 3
NASA has cancelled the development by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of a 1-kg nanorover which was intended to be released on the surface of asteroid 1998 SF 36 in September 2005 by the Muses-C sample-return probe, currently under development by Japan's Institute for Space & Astronautical Science. The reasons involved to terminate this US$21-million program are mainly difficulties to keep it within budget and mass constraints.
Editor's note: The expected cost of the Muses-CN nanorover had reportedly reached US$60 million. This is the 4th JPL deep-space exploration program cancelled by NASA within tow years after the Pluto-Kuiper Express, the Mars 2001 Lander and the Champollion cometary lander. Japan's Muses-C is planned for launch atop a M-5 rocket in July 2002.
November 1
Intersputnik's board has approved the development of a new series of small/medium communication satellites, dubbed Intersputnik 100M, to complement its geostationary network. Each satellite will carry 10 to 16 transponders in C and S bands at first, later expanding to Ku and Ka bands. Launches will be conducted by triplets on Proton-class vehicles or one at a time on smaller launchers.
 


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