News of January 2001

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

January 26 - ILS Claims 16 Contracts in 2000
International Launch Services announces that its has won 16 firm launch contracts, with 17 more launches in option, in 2000. Lockheed Martin-led The breakdown beteween Atlas and Proton launches was not given. Total value of the firm contracts is quoted at more than US$1 billion for a total backlog worth about US$3 billion. The main customers are identified as Teledesic, Astrolink, GE Americom, AsiaSat, Hispasat and "satellite manufacturers."
Editor's note: All launch contracts claimed by ILS have not been fully identified. Only three firm contracts were officially announced for Asiasat 4 (Atlas 3), Eutelsat's W4 (Atlas 3A - Launched) and Hispasat 1D (Atlas 2AS). It is not clear whether the launch contract with Eutelsat was actually taken into account in 1999 or 2000. Also reported (but without official announcements) were four launches for Lockheed Martin's Astrolink venture (two launches on Proton and two on Atlas 5 with mutual backup), GE Americom's GE-14 (Atlas 2AS), GE-12, GE-1i and GE-2i (on three Proton Ms). No detail is available on the launch contracts by Teledesic but a persistent rumor identifies them with six contracts (three on Atlas 5, three on Proton M) already announced in 1999.
January 23 - Sea Launch to Prevent Customers from Aborting Launches
Sea Launch is reportedly planning to prevent its customers from triggering a launch abort in the last seconds before liftoff of its Zenit 3SL vehicles. On January 8, a false alarm on the payload led to an abort requested by the customer only 11 seconds before liftoff. As the pre-ignition sequence was underway, the launcher then had to be shipped back to the Long Beach Homeport, in California, for refurbishment. A new RD-171 engine is being mounted on the vehicle for a new launch attempt tentatively set on February 28. It is not clear yet how much Sea Launch will charge its customer, Boeing Satellite Systems, for this 50-day multimillion delay.
January 22 - Boeing Consolidates Delta Programs
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems has decided to merge its Delta 2, Delta 3 and Delta 4 programs "in order to provide continuity of service to Delta 2 and Delta 3 customers." This consolidation, which comes after the reorganization of the production lines in June 2000, is expected to allow streamlining of the relations with suppliers through a centralized interface.
Editor's note: The move is suspected to be a first step toward the early phasing out of the ill-fated Delta 3 in favor of the new Delta 4 launch vehicle.

Proton K/DM3
January 22 - Two Astras on Proton in 2001
Luxembourg-based Société Européenne des Satellites announces that it has eventually selected International Launch Services to loft its two upcoming large direct broadcasting satellites in 2001, using Proton K vehicles. Astra 2C, a 3,728-kg Boeing 601HP satellite, provided by Boeing Space Systems, is now due for launch in June, while the 5,250-kg Astra 1K, a Spacebus 3000B3S built by Alcatel Space, will fly in December.
Editor's note: SES had one firm launch contracted on Proton with no assigned payload since 1997, it is likely to be used for Astra 2C with a standard Proton K/DM3 combination. Astra 1K will also fly the Proton K/DM3 but its larger mass will presumably lead to a launch to lower transfer orbit with the satellite using its onboard plasma thrusters to reach its final geostationary altitude. SES also holds two firm launch contracts with Arianespace as backup launch opportunities for the Proton.

January 16 - Uprated Ariane 5 Slips
The first flight of the Ariane 5ECA version, with the new ESC-A cryogenic upper stage, is now scheduled in May 2002, a three-month slip compared to previous annoucements. Seceral technical difficulties have been reported with the ESC-A program but are now solved. Another cause for the delay is the qualification of the new Snecma Vulcain 2 engine for the uprated EPC cryogenic core stage. Some problems have been detected during high stress tests on the new liquid oxygen turbopump developed by Fiat Avio and are now being solved.
Editor's note: The captive firing tests for the Vulcain 2 began in June 1999 and 59 hot firings have been conducted through the end of 2000, logging 20,300 seconds of working time. Another 50 tests are planned before the maiden flight, representing about 20,000 seconds of cumulated burn time.

Ariane 5 and 4
January 10 - Arianespace Confirms Losses...
Arianespace confirms the rumors regarding its negative results in 2000. The European launch provider posted sales worth about ¤1.1 billion (US$1 billion) with a net loss of about ¤200 million (US$190 million). Final figures will be given by mid-year after they have been endorsed by the shareholders. This is the first time in 20 years of operations that Arianespace goes in the red and, according to its chairman & CEO Jean-Marie Luton, talking to journalists this morning in Paris for the traditional New Year's press conference, it should be back in the black in 2001. Among the claimed causes of last year's losses are the high cost of the Ariane 4/Ariane 5 overlap (which provides an assured access to space to Arianespace's customers during the introduction of Ariane 5), the uncompetitive production cost of the early Ariane 5s as well as Arianespace's heavy investments in production tools and operational facilities, in Europe and French Guiana, in the completion of Ariane 5's qualification and in the development of upgraded versions of Ariane 5 to be introduced in 2002. According to Arianespace, the current situation has been prepared for years through large provisions.
Arianespace plans to launch five Ariane 5s and six Ariane 4s in 2001. Six Ariane 5s are scheduled in 2002 and seven in 2003 which will see the phasing out of Ariane 4. A launch rate of 8 Ariane 5s per year is scheduled from 2004 on.
... And Signs Launch Contracts
Arianespace also announced the four last launch contracts signed in 2000 with DirecTV Inc. for DirecTV-4S, a 5-ton-class direct broadcasting satellite to be built by Boeing Satellite Systems and launched in late 2001 or early 2002, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for Insat 3A and Insat 3E, an hybrid communications/meteorology satellite and a fully communications-dedicated satellites due for launch in late 2001 and late 2002 respectively, and with Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. for the launch of its 1,300-kg Amos 2 communications satellite in late 2002 or early 2003 which will be operated by Spacecom Ltd.
Arianespace's backlog now stands at 49 primary payloads (including nine 20-ton Automated Transfer Vehicles to resupply the International Space Station) and is worth ¤4.45 billion (US$4.2 billion)
Editor's note: Arianespace did not announce the launch contract for European Space Agency's Advanced Reseach & Technology Mission (Artemis) spacecraft although the selection has already been made public by the ESA.

Zenit 3SL
(Sea Launch)
January 10 - Zenit Postponed to Late February
Sea Launch has decided to bring back its two ships and the Zenit 3SL launch vehicle it had deployed in the Mid Pacific to its Homeport in Long Beach, California, following the aborted launch attempt on January 8. According to Sea Launch, the abort was trigerred by automated control systems 11 seconds before liftoff due to uncorrect measurements by sensors which detected an unspecified anomaly within the satellite while actually all conditions were nominal. However, the abort came 4 seconds after the pre-ignition sequence had begun in the vehicle which thus will need to undergo a new 2-to-3-week-long preparation process in Long Beach, including a swap of the first stage's RD-171 engine. A new launch attempt has now been scheduled on February 28. This 50-day delay will result in the slippage of the following launch, also carrying an XM Radio digital audio radio broadcasting satellite, from March to mid-April.

January 8/9 - Ariane 4 Delayed
High altitude winds in Kourou force Arianespace to postpone the launch of an Ariane 44P (V137), due on January 8, by 48 hours.
Editor's note: The launch had already been postponed twice: first on December 8 to allow additional checks on the launcher's fairing and then on December 11 under request by the customer, Alcatel Space, after an anomaly was reported on the satellite's onboard computer.
January 8 - Sea Launch Aborted
Sea Launch's Zenit 3SL suffers an abort 11 seconds before liftoff on January 8 due to an unspecified technical anomaly. The launch is expected to be postponed by at least 4 days.
January 3rd - Arianespace Resumes Launch Preparation
Arianespace is resuming operations in Kourou to prepare for the launch of an Ariane 44P-3 on January 8 to loft the Eurasiasat 1 (Türksat 2A) satellite.
Editor's note: Launch preparation was put on hold on December 11 as Alcatel Space asked for complementary checks on the satellite.
January 1st - Quotas Expired
The quota regime imposed by the U.S. administration on Russian commercial space launches has expired.

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 Government Launchers

January 26 - Titan 4 Delayed by Faulty Navigation Unit
The launch of a Lockheed Martin Titan 4B/Centaur vehicle carrying a Milstar 2 strategic and tactical relay satellite has been delayed from February 4 to February 10 at the earliest after an anomaly was detected on an Inertial Navigation Unit during acceptance tests at the production facility. The launch had already slipped from February 2 due to the multiple postponement of the launch of a Titan 23G vehicle in January.
January 23 - Titan 2 Postponed to April
The U.S. Air Force has eventually decided to postpone indefinitely the long-delayed launch of its US$193-million DMSP-5D3-F16 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) spacecraft a Lockheed Martin Astronautics Titan 23G vehicle after anomalies were detected in the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space-built satellite's inertial measurement unit. As about two months will be needed to refurbish the Titan vehicle which has been fuelled with corrosive propellant for 10 days, the next launch attempt is now due in mid-April at the earliest.
January 22 - Last Titan 2 Launch Attempt Set
A final attempt to launch a Lockheed Martin Titan 23G refurbished ICBM to loft U.S. Air Force 's DMSP-5D3-F16 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) spacecraft to orbit is scheduled on January 23. The launch has already been postponed four times since January 18 and in case of another launch mishap, the whole Titan 2 vehicle would be replaced, causing at least a 60-day postponement. On January 21, the launch was aborted twice, first 19 seconds before ignition due to a faulty valve sensor, then 10 minutes later as the automatic sequencer detected the end of the launch window apparently fractions of second before the ignition of the first stage's Aerojet LR87-AJ-11 engine. Later traces of Aerozine 50 propellant were detected in the atmosphere on the pad forcing the launch crew to check for a possible leak.
January 21 - Titan 2 Launch Abort
The Lockheed Martin Titan 23G launch vehicle carrying the U.S. Air Force DMSP-5D3-F16 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) spacecraft suffered a launch abort. A new launch date will be set shortly.
January 20 - Titan 2 Launch Scrubbed
The launch of a U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft atop a Lockheed Martin Titan 23G launch vehicle has been scrubbed 3 minutes before liftoff due to a spacecraft commanding anomaly. A new launch attempt is planned on January 21.
January 19 - Progress Launch Rescheduled
The launch of the Progress M tug to Mir atop a Soyuz U vehicle has been reset for January 24.
January 18 - Mir Mishap Delays Progress
The launch of a Progress M tug to Mir, initialy due on January 18, was scrubbed after the Mir space station lost attitude control a few hours before the planned liftoff due to a power failure. The launch, atop a Soyuz U vehicle, could be conducted as soon as January 21 if needed. If ground controllers cannot restore attitude control, a Soyuz TM ferry with an emergency repair crew could be sent to the station. The Progress M tug will be loaded with 2.5 times more propellant than normal Progress cargo ships in order to pilot the reentry of the 130-t orbital complex over the Pacific Ocean in early March.

Titan 23G
January 17 - Titan 2 Slips One More Day
The launch of a U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft has been postponed again, from January 19 to January 20 in order to allow the replacement of faulty test cables on the launch pad. The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft will fly atop a retired Titan 2 ICBM refurbished as a Titan 23G launch vehicle. The launch might be delayed again if the temperature drops below a minimum of 1.7°C in the last 24 hours before launch. Such low temperatures could deteriorate the ablative skirt on the Titan's second stage.

January 15 - ESA Increases Launchers Budgets
The European Space Agency will invest ¤593.9 million (US$565 million) in its launch vehicle programs in 2001, a 12% increase compared to the budget in 2000. In 2001, ¤637.5 million (US$610 million) will also be spent on manned space programs which, with a 31% surge, are replacing launchers as the agency's largest program in terms of budget. ESA's council will meet at ministerial level on November 14 and 15 in Edimburg, Scotland, to discuss numerous programs such as the development of the ESC-B cryogenic upper stage for the Ariane 5ECB version in late 2005, the second phase of the Future Launcher Technology Program - which should include the development of demonstrators - and the funding of launch infrastructures.
January 14 - GSLV Being Stacked
The stacking of Indian Space Research Organisation's first Geostationary Satellite Launch vehicle (GSLV) has begun in Sriharikota. The 129-t solid first stage has been erected and mated with four 40-t liquid strap-on boosters and the 35-t liquid second stage. The cryogenic upper stage, provided by GKNPTs Khrunichev, will be added shortly. Launch is now due between February 25 and 28.
January 10 - DMSP Titan 2 Launch Delayed
The launch of a U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft has been postponed from January 18 to January 19 after a sun shade on the satellite was damaged during pre-launch processing. The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft will fly atop a retired Titan 2 ICBM refurbished as a Titan 23G launch vehicle.
January 9 - Extra Funds for Atlas NRO Launch
U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center has awarded a US$6.4-million increase to an existing contract with Lockheed Martin Launch Services for the launch of an unidentified U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload atop an Atlas 2AS vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December 2001. US$3.2 million have already been paid under this contract.
January 5 - GSLV in February
Indian Space Commission chairman, Dr. Krishnaswami Kasturirangan, announces that the first flight of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is now due for early February.

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 Small Launchers

January 27 - Computer Glitch Caused Tsyklon Failure
A Russian-Ukrainian interagency commission has confirmed the computer failure scenario for the loss of a NPO Yuzhnoye Tsyklon 3 launch vehicle on December 27, 2000. According to the commission, at the ignition of the S-5M third stage, 368 seconds into flight, a control system orderd an emergency shutdown preventing the vehicle and its payload from reaching orbital velocity. The S-5M stage and the six-satellite cluster it carried reentered the atmosphere and disintegrated over the East Siberian Sea.
January 25 - Intersputnik Satellites on Rokot
GKNPTs Khrunichev has signed a contract with Intersputnik for the launch of two small Intersputnik 100M communication satellites to geostationary orbit using Rokot small launch vehicles. The Intersputnik 1 and 2 satellites will be lofted from Plesetsk, Northern Russia, in early 2003. Each satellite will carry 10 to 16 C- or S-band transponders.
January 23 - Rafael Proposes Microsatellite Launcher
Rafael, the Israeli ministry of Defense's armament development authority, proposes to develop a microsatellite launch vehicle from its Black Sparrow air-launched target missile. The proposed vehicle would have a payload capability of 50 to 80 kg to low Earth orbit. Tests have already been conducted on a modified missile and a first satellite test launch is reportedly planned for later this year. Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd is also working on the development of a microsatellite launch systems operated from a Lockheed C-130 Hercules carrier aircraft.
Editor's note: Designed as a target for the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) defense system, the 1,260-kg Black Sparrow is based on Rafael's Popeye AGM-142 air/surface standoff missile and launched from a Boeing F-15 Eagle aircraft. The satellite launcher version would be fitted with a larger solid rocket motor.

Rokot KM
January 23 - QuickBird 2 on Rokot
Itar-Tass reports that the launch of EarthWatch's QuickBird 2 satellite is now due in August atop a Rokot vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia. Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, which markets the Rokot, has not confirmed this information yet.
Editor's note: QuickBird 2 was previously planned for launch atop a Kosmos 3M under a contract with Russia's ZAO Puskoviye Uslugi through its U.S. agent United Start. Unfortunately, the launch of QuickBird 1 on a Kosmos 3M on November 20 ended in failure. The actual status of the launch contract is unknown.

January 18 - Odin in Svobodniy
Swedish Space Corporation's Odin small science satellite has been shipped to Svobodniy, Amur Oblast (Eastern Siberia), for processing prior to its launch atop a Start 1 vehicle, now due on February 20.
January 15 - European Industry Backs Vega
European space industry will find about 10% of the total cost for the development of European Space Agency's Italian-backed Vega small launch vehicle. The companies involved in the program have also agreed to cover all cost overruns and to guarantee a low reccurring cost for the controversial vehicle.
Editor's note: The Vega development program is planned to cost about ¤330 million (US$280 million). Its primary and main contractor will be Italy's FiatAvio.

January 10 - VLS Gets Funding Boost
The Brazilian government plans to increase its budget for launch vehicle development in 2001 by 200%, reaching R$12 million (US$6.2 million). However, according to officials at the Instituto de Aeronautica e Espaço (IAE), in charge of developing the VLS launch system, this budget, which will reach R$26 million (US$13.4 million) over two yearts is not enough as R$37 million (US$19 million) are needed to complete the development program. The VLS program, which suffered two launch failures in two launch attempts in November 1997 and December 1999, will be reviewed in February 2001 and a new generation of launch vehicles will be defined in partnership with other countries. Talks have been reported with Russia, France, Italy, Germany and Ukraine. The third flight of the VLS-1 is now due for the end of the year with a test payload.
Editor's note: The VLS program was expected to lead to the development of at least three different launchers: the VLS-1, for 100-kg class satellites, the VLM (a VLS-1 minus its strap-on boosters), for smaller satellites, and the VLS-2, possibly incorporating a larger first stage developed in partnership with France, for larger payloads. A partnership with Argentina has also been announced several times. Russia, Italy and Ukraine, as well as the United States and Israel, have expressed their interest in launching their own boosters from Brazil's Alcântara Launch Center (CLA).

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 Missile Systems

January 26 - Bush Backs NMD, Considers ABM Treaty Obsolete
U.S. President George W. Bush reaffirmed its support to the deployment of a U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system "capable of protecting the United States and its allies," even if this means abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, signed in 1972 with the Soviet Union to prohibit nationwide missile defense systems. The new U.S. State Secretary, Colin L. Powell, qualified the ABM treaty as "probably no longer relevant to our new strategic framework,'' while the new U.S. Defense Secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, called it "ancient history."
Editor's note: On several occasions, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia will scrap all existing arms control agreements if the United States back out of the ABM Treaty. However, according to U.S. defense analysts, the economic situation in Russia prevents the country from developing a similar system as the NMD nor to increase (or even maintain at its current size) its nuclear arsenal.
January 25 - India to Introduce Agni 2 in 2001
India plans to introduce the Agni 2 intermediate range ballistic missile into its operational forces later his year, according to V.K.Atre, scientific adviser of India's Defense minister. The nuclear-capable missile, which underwent its second test flight on January 17, would have a range of about 2,000 km according to experts.
Editor's note: A similar annoucement was also made shortly after the missile's initial test flight in April 1999.
January 25 - ATK Test Fires GBI Booster
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has completed the static firing test of a GEM-40 (Graphite Epoxy Motor) solid rocket motor with thrust vector control developed on behalf of Boeing to serve as the first stage of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system's Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) vehicle. This first test qualified the motor and the nozzle. A second test is expected shortly to qualify the thrust vector control system. According to ATK, the NMD program could generate more than US$200 million of solid propulsion activity over the next eight years.
Editor's note: The first test flight of the GBI was initially due in early 2000.
January 21 - Ukraine to Build New Russian ICBMs
An agreement has been signed by Russia and Ukraine under which Ukrainian industry (presumably NPO Yuzhnoye) will develop and build a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles for Russia according to Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Agni 2 IRBM
January 18 - Agni 2 Test Flight
India's Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducts the second test flight of its Agni 2 improved intermediate range ballistic missile, from the Balasore rocket range on Wheeler Island, Orissa. This missile, the most powerful developed by India to date, is a military derivative of the SLV series of civilian satellite launchers. It is reportedly able to deliver a 1,000-kg nuclear weapon to 2,000-km or a 500-kg warhead to Beijing or Shanghai. The Agni 2 uses a solid propellant second stage replacing the liquid propellant Prithvi short range missile used as upper stage of the Agni.
Editor's note: The test launch occurred during the visit of Chinese Parliament's chairman Li Peng to India. The first Agni 2 launch was conducted on April 11, 1999.

January 12 - Rumsfeld Wants NMD Boost
United States' future secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee, announced that the development of the controversial U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) system will be one of his major goals, along with increasing defense spending in general.
January 11 - Trident Motor Contract
U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs have exercized a US$22-million option on the FY2001 Trident 2 (D5) Missile Production & Deployed System Support contract signed with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Missiles & Space Operations. The option covers materials and processes requalification for the production of Boost Propulsion motors through December 2004. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) will receive a US$19-million subcontract to conduct the work in its Magna, Utah, facility.
January 5 - Pakistan to Test New Missile
Pakistan plans to test fly a newly developped ballistic missile, the Haider 1, during the second week of March. This missile, reportedly more precise than the Shaheen, was officially developed by Pakistani scientists and will be able to carry a nuclear weapon.

Hera and Minuteman 2
(Coleman/US Air Force)
January 4 - Russia Claims U.S. Violate Treaties
The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterates its claims that the United States are violating the first Strategic Arm Reduction Treaty (START-1) and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty by destroying only the first stage of its Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles and storing their second and third stages for other uses such as the manufacturing of Coleman Research's Hera ballistic target vehicles. Russian authorities consider the two-stage vehicle, which was developed from the second and third stages of retired Minuteman 2 missiles and incorporates the guidance system from the Pershing 2 medium-range missile, as a new Medium-Range Ballistic Missile, formally forbidden by the 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).

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 RLVs and Reentry Systems

January 31 - Second X-43 in Dryden
NASA's second X-43A unpiloted hypersonic research vehicle has been delivered to Dryden Flight Research Center, in Edwards AFB, whre it will be processed for flight. The first X-43A has completed electrical and mechanical tests and was mated to its HXLV booster (a Pegasus XL first stage) on January 10 and has since undergone a series of mission simulations. It is due for flight in "early summer."
January 26 - Atlantis Back on Pad Again
NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis has been moved again from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to the LC-39A launch pad after final checks on its solid rocket boosters' wirings. A new launch date for the STS-98 mission to the International Space Station has been set on February 7, one day later than planned, to allow a docking on the third day of mission.
January 26 - Shenzhou 2 Landing Mystery
Ten days after the landing of Shenzhou 2's recoverable capsule, still no picture has been published of it nor of its reported passengers (a monkey, a dog, a rabbit and several snails), suggesting that the recovery may have failed or that the capsule may have been damaged on landing.
January 25 - NASA Reshuffles Shuttle Schedule
NASA has modified its launch schedule for Space Shuttle missions in 2001 following the 3-week delay of the STS-98 mission to allow further wiring checks on Atlantis' Solid Rocket Boosters. The new schedule moves one of the two flights initially planned with Columbia to next year. The final choice on which mission the oldest orbiter vehicle will fly in November has not been made yet.

New Shuttle Launch Schedule for 2001
Flight New Date Previous date Orbiter Mission Payload
STS-98 Feb. 7 Feb. 6 Atlantis ISS-5A Destiny (U.S. Lab)
STS-102 Mar. 8 Mar. 1 Discovery ISS-5A.1 Leonardo (MPLM-1)
STS-100 Apr. 19 Apr. 19 Endeavour ISS-6A SSRMS, Raffaello (MPLM-2)
STS-104 June 8 May 17 Atlantis ISS-7A Airlock
STS-105 July 12 June 21 Discovery ISS-7A.1 Donatello (MPLM-3)
STS-108 Oct. 4 Oct. 4 Endeavour ISS-UF1 Logistics Flight
or STS-109
Nov. Aug.
or Nov.
Columbia - Spacehab or
HST Repair Mission
January 24 - Rotary Rocket to Auction Off Assets
Rotary Rocket Co. plans to auction all of its facilities and hardware in Mojave, California, on February 23. Only its 19.5-m-tall Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV) will be preserved and moved to another location. Auctions will begin on February 3. The sale will be conducted by Tri-State Auction Systems.
Editor's note: In 4 years, Rotary Rocket has raised and spent about US$30 million. The company claimed to be able to develop and operate a fleet of manned, reusable, single-stage-to-orbit vehicles, dubbed Roton 9C, for a mere US$150 million. Only little preliminary development on a propulsion system due to boost the 180-t vehicle to orbit was reported in 1997/98. Most of the company's public efforts were focused on demonstrating the feasibility of a rotor-powered vertical landing design through three test flights of the Roton ATV demonstrator in Jumly, September and October of 1999.
January 23 - Kelly/Vought Team for 2nd Generation RLV
Kelly Space & Technology and Vought Aircraft Industries have teamed to bid for NASA's 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program with a concept dervieved from Kelly's Astroliner air-towed launch system. Under the teaming agreement, Kelly will act as prime contractor while Vought will develop key technology elements.
Editor's note: The Astroliner (formerly "Eclipse Astroliner") was designed as a 38-m-long winged vehicle towed to an altitude of 6,000 m by a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The vehicle would then ignite onboard rocket engine to reach a suborbital trajectory with a 120-km apogee and release an expendable upper stage to deliver its payload to orbit. The tow-to-launch technology was demonstrated in 1998 with a C-141A aircraft towing a modified QF-106A Delta Dart interceptor
January 19 - NASA Creates RLV Program Office
NASA has created a "2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle" program office to coordinate efforts within the Space Launch Initiative (SLI) in order to support the development of a new RLV which may fly in 2010. Actual development is expected to begin in 2005, building upon experience to be learned from the X-33 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator, the X-34 hypersonic research vehicle and the X-37 reusable space vehicle demonstrator.
January 16 - Shenzhou 2 Capsule Lands
China's Shenzhou 2 man-rated spacecraft released its orbital module and reentered after 108 orbits in 7 days. The reentry capsule landed safely in Inner Mongolia. The 2-t orbital module, which might be a prototype of a future space station, raised its orbit to 388 x 404 km and is expected to conduct science experiments for about 6 months.
January 15 - Wire Checks Delay Atlantis
NASA has ordered Space Shuttle Atlantis to be rolled back from its launch pad to Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building in order to undergo an additional series of inspections to assert the integrity of cables in its Solid Rocket Boosters. The roll-back is scheduled on January 19 and a new launch date for the STS-98 mission to the International Space Station has been tentatively set on February 6. This delay is also expected to affect the launch of the following shuttle flight, with Discovery on STS-102, which might slip a few days from its current March 1 target date.

(Lockheed Martin)
January 11 - X-33 Stays in Palmdale
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has signed a two-year lease agreement with SR Technics, the heavy aircraft maintenance arm of SAirGroup (formerly Swissair), to keep its assembly line for NASA's ill-fated X-33 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator in the 95,000- sq.m Air Force Plant 42 Site 9 hangar in Palmdale, California.
Editor's note: The previous lease agreement expired in December and SR Technics recently asked for an increase of the rent in order to force Lockheed Martin out or to pay for a US$1-million modification of the hangar structure in order to separate the X-33 assembly area from the large aircraft maintenace area, as required to comply with U.S. safety standards. Moving the X-33 assembly line to another location would have meant at least 7-month delay in the program according to engineers.

January 2nd - Atlantis Rollout Slips Again
The long-delayed rollout of NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to the LC-39A launch pad is postponed again, to January 3, due to a computer malfunction in the crawler transporter vehicle. Launch of Atlantis on the STS-98 mission to the International Space Station is now due not earlier than January 19.

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 Space Propulsion

January 30 - LE-7A Engine Test Delayed
Japan's National Space Development Agency had to postpone a key static firing test of a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries LE-7A engine three times due to an unspecified computer glitch. The 6-min. combustion test, due to gather data on the engine's behaviour prior to the maiden flight of the H-2A launcher in the third quarter of this year, was first planned on January 20, then January 24, then January 27. It has now apparently been delayed to March. According to NASDA, on each attempt, the test was canceled by computer systems. This may have been caused by "outmoded" equipment in use at the Tanegashima Satellite Launch Center's test facility.
January 29 - SSC and Volvo to Market Green Propellant
Swedish Space Corp. and Volvo Aero have formed a 50/50 joint-venture, ECAPS (Ecological Advanced Propulsion System) to demonstrate and market a new, non-hazardous, propellant for thrusters, called HPGP 101 (High Performance Green Propellant), to replace highly toxic hydrazine. ECAPS expects to receive a SEK11-million (US$1.2-million) contract by SSC early this year to demonstrate HPGP 101's performance and begin the development of satellite thrusters using the new propellant.
January 24 - Indian Cryogenic Engine Due in 2002
The development of India's indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine is expected to be completed by March 2002, according to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. chaiman and managing director C.G. Krishnadas Nair, quoted in the Deccan Herald newspaper. HAL has supplied propellants tanks for the cryogenic upper stage program (CUSP) led by the Indian Space Research Organisation to replace the initial Russian-built cryogenic upper stage of its Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
January 23 - ARC to Build Solid Fuel Ramjet
Atlantic Research Corp. has been selected to develop a solid fuel ramjet engine for U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center's Solid Fuel Ramjet Missile Technology Program. This 18-month program, led by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control, intends to develop and test an airbreathing solid fuel ramjet propulsion system combined with carbon-carbon structural components to demonstrate technologies for future hypersonic missiles. ARC will design the ramjet engine and counduct ground testing.
January 12 - Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Contract
MSE Technology Applications Corp. was awarded a US$25-million, 5-year contract by the Arnold Engineering Development Center for R&D activities regarding the design of an hypersonic wind tunnel to support testing of advanced jet engines and space vehicles prototypes at Arnold AFB.

HyShot experiment in flight (University of Queensland)
January 5 - UQ Prepares Scramjet Test
The University of Queensland's Centre for Hypersonics plans to fly the first of its two HyShot scramjet in-flight test missions in late March or early April from the Woomera Rocket Range, Southern Australia. A Terrier Orion suborbital rocket will carry an experimental scramjet propulsion system to an altitude of 350 km. The scramjet will be operated during reentry at a velocity of 2.4 km/s (i.e. Mach 8), between 35 km and 23 km of altitude. This HyShot 1 launch was initially due in October 2000. An HyShot 2 is being planned. Total cost of the HyShot program is AU$1.05 million.
Editor's note: Also participating in the project are British Aerospace Australia, the British Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA), NASA's Langley Research Center, the Australian Department of Science & Technology (DSTO), South Korea's Seoul National University, Germany's DLR, the Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI), Alesi Technologies, AECA and Luxfer Australia.

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January 31 - Russian Senators Ratify Space Launch Technology Agreement
The Russian Federation Council ratifies the technology safeguard agreement between Russia and the United States to prevent unauthorized technology transfers in connection with the launch of satellites covered by U.S. licenses on Russian vehicles from Plesetsk, Svobodniy and Kapustin Yar sites. The agreement had already been ratified by the Russian Duma in December.
January 30 - South Korea Selects Launch Site
South Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology has selected the island of Woe Narodo (or Oenarodo), near Kohung, Cholla province, to build a 130-billion won (US$102-million), 165,000-sq.m. launch site for its future indigenous space launch vehicle. Groundwork is due to be completed in 2003 and the facilities should be built by 2004 in order to support a first launch in 2005.
Editor's note: The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) flew its KSR sounding rockets from South Korean Air Force's Anhung Combined Test Site, near Taean, Ch'ungch'ong province, but, due to azimuth constraints, this site would have allowed only space launches to retrograd orbits. Woe Narodo won over another proposed site in Yangari (or Yangar-ri), near Namhae, in the Kyongsang province.
January 24 - China/Sweden TT&C Agreement
China Satellite Launch & Tracking Control Co. (CLTC) has signed a cooperation agreement with Swedish Space Corp. (SSC) on mutual TT&C station support. CLTC will provide access to its network of ground stations in China and South Tarawa Island (Kiribati, central Pacific Ocean) as well as its mobile stations and tracking ships. SSC operates stations located in Sweden, Norway and Svalbaard Islands. It also has access to the PrioraNet global network of stations through an agreement with Universal Space Network. China expects to rely on the Swedish stations for a first mission late this year.
Editor's note: The late 2001 mission could be the second China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS-2), currently slated for launch in October on a CZ-4B vehicle or the third test-flight of the Shenzhou manned spacecraft.
January 11 - South Korean Spaceport
South Korea plans to invest US$101 million to develop a launch site on its southern coast for its future national launch vehicle to be available in 2005. Two candidate sites have been selected for this 450,000-sq.m facility which will include an assembly building, a launch pad and a tracking station.

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January 31 - ATK Purchases Thiokol
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) will acquire Thiokol Propulsion from Alcoa Inc. for US$685 million in cash. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter.
Editor's note: With this acquisition, ATK will take over Thiokol's business in Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters, Castor booster stages, Star kick stages, Minuteman and Peacekeeper missiles propulsion and Thiokol's activities in composite materials. These activities are redundant with some of ATK's own product lines, mostly the GEM booster stages and composite materials. A restructuring should be expected in these fields.
January 25 - Russia to Form Space Forces
The Russian Federation's Security Council has approved the withdrawal of the Military Space Forces and the Rocket Space Defense Forces from the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) to form the Russian Space Forces.
January 24 - Primex Shareholders Approve Acquisition by GD
Shareholders of Primex Technologies have massively approved the proposed acquisition of the company, a major U.S. supplier of bipropellant and monopropellant thrusters for satellites and upper stages as well as of military ordnance, by General Dynamics. The US$270-million transaction, announced on November 9, 2000, is expected to close on January 26.
January 23 - P&W Purchases Propulsion Technology Business
Pratt&Whitney has taken over the Astronautics & Aerosciences Division (AASD) of Adroit Systems Inc. (ASI). This unit, to be renamed Pratt&Whitney Seattle Aerosciences Center under Pratt&Whitney's Advanced Engines Program organization, has developed leading-edge technology in fluid mechanics and advanced combustion concepts such as pulse detonation technology.
January 23 - Israel/Ukraine Ties on Missiles, Space
Israel and Ukraine have signed a space cooperation agreement covering both ballistic missile and space activities.
January 23 - EADS Plans Launchers Consolidation
EADS and BAe Systems are negotiating to merge the launcher activities of their Astrium joint-venture with EADS Launch Vehicles, a 100% EADS-owned subsidiary. The move is dictated by the need to shave structural costs for the production of Ariane 5 launch vehicles, which will have to be halved before 2005. Such a merger would encompass Ariane vehicle equipment bays activities from Astrium SAS in Toulouse and the Orbital Infrastructure division of Astrium GmbH in Bremen and Ottobrunn. According to EADS the new venture will also take over participations from EADS and Astrium in Starsem and Eurockot Launch Systems GmbH.
Editor's note: Astrium is owned 75% by EADS and 25% by BAe Systems. EADS owns 35% of Starsem and Astrium 51% of Eurockot.
January 16 - Snecma Unveils 2000 Results
Snecma Moteurs has posted sales worth about FF4.4 billion (US$635 million) for its space propulsion activities in 2000, a rather stable figure compared to 1999.
January 9 - SNPE to Increase Capital
The French government has approved a plan to increase the capital of state-owned Groupe SNPE in 2001 to support the company's development in the space and defense sectors. The amount of this increase is not frozen yet but SNPE's chairman & CEO, Jean Faure, expects it to reach FF500 million (US$72 million). Groupe SNPE is preparing the merger of its space propellant and high energy materials activities with Snecma's own solid propulsion business to form a 50-50 joint-venture in 2001. After completion of joint studies, the project will be presented in April to Snecma's and SNPE's employee management commities. The newly-formed entity, tentatively dubbed "Herakles", would have a turnover of about FF3 billion (US$435 million), possible reaching FF4 billion (US$575 million) within three years as Ariane 5 and the M51 sea-launched ballistic missile programs are ramping up.
January 9 - Alenia Talks to Boeing
Following the failure of its merger talks with Astrium in December, Italy's Alenia Aerospazio is reportedly discussing with Boeing to form a joint satellite venture.
Editor's note: Alenia Aerospazio is involved in satellite manufacturing as well as communication and remote sensing payloads. It is also Europe's center of excellence regrading pressurized modules. As such, it plays a prominent role in the development of ESA's Columbus laboratory module and Automated Transfer Vehicle, an unmanned cargo ship to resupply the International Space Station, as well as the Boeing-designed Node 2 and 3 modules and the Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLMs) built for NASA on behalf of the Italian Space Agency.
January 9 - Astrium/Spacehab Agreement
Astrium GmbH, will expand its partnership with Spacehab Inc. through a US$15.4-milion sale-leaseback agreement regarding the Space Shuttle's Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) program in order to develop new versions of the unpressurized payload carrier system such as a deployable carrier and a vertical carrier. Additional developments may later include an Express carrier, a propulsion pallet and a cryogenic carrier.
Editor's note: Astrium GmbH is integrator of the ICC for Spacehab and has been holding a 11.5% stake in the venture since 1999.
January 5 - Northrop-Grumman Buys Litton Shares
Northrop Grumman Corp. has commenced its cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of Litton Industries Inc. as part of the acquisition process announecd by the two companies on December 21. Northrop Grumman will pay US$80 per common share and US$35 per Series B preferred share.
January 3 - L-3 Buys Coleman
L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. has acquired Florida-based Coleman Research Corp. from its parent company Thermo Electron Corp. for US$60 million. The deal could be worth an additional US$5 million if Coleman achieves certain performances targets for 2001. Coleman Research is involved in space transportation and ballistic systems through its Coleman Aerospace unit which provides Hera target vehicles to the U.S. Department of Defense and is the U.S. partner of the LeoLink partnership which plans to market the LK launchers, a U.S.-built derivative of Israel's Shavit, in the United States.

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 Launch Market

January 29 - Agrani to Buy Existing Alcatel Satellite
Agrani Satellite Services Ltd. plans to acquire an existing communications satellite which has been in storage at Alcatel Space's facilities in Cannes since 1997. The Spacebus 3000-type spacecraft had been built as Thaicom 4 under an option to the Thaicom 3 procurement contract with Shinawatra Satellite (now Shin Satellite). The satellite will renamed Agrani 2 and modified with 24 C-band and 14 Ku-band transpoonders to provide direct broadcasting, Internet access and other communication services to India and surrounding regions. It will be available for launch in the third quarter of 2002. Agrani has already selected Arianespace's Ariane 5 for the launch. The US$250-million project will be funded through a US$100 million in equity and through loans for the remaining US$150 million. The Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) is expected to provide a US$76-million loan.
Editor's note: As Afro-Asian Satellite Communications Ltd. (ASC), Agrani has already ordered two HS-601-class satellites for mobile communication services from Hughes Space & Communications (now Boeing Satellite Systems) in January 1995. The US$700-million deal fell short has ASC could not raise the necessarty funding. In May 1998, ASC signed a contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems for a single A2100AX satellite but again the deal did not materialize despite backing financial institutions led by the Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) as the U.S. State Department denied to isse an export license for the satellite.
January 29 - France and Italy Foster Observation Constellation
France and Italy have agreed to jointly develop a US$930-million constellation of small remote sensing satellites for both military and civilian uses. A cooperation agreement was signed to merge France's Pleiades system (two high-resolution optical satellites) with Italy's revamped Skymed-Cosmo system (four radar satellites). Launches are planned between 2003 and 2006. Radar payloads will be provided by Alenia Aerospazio and optical payloads by Alcatel Space. Astrium will provide the buses for the two optical satellites.
January 25 - NASA May Cut One Mars Rover Mission
NASA is considering the option to launch only one Mars Exploration Rover (MER) instead of two in May and June 2003 in order to ease the development schedule and optimze the use of its Deep Space Network communication system.
Editor's note: Launches have been contracted on Boeing Delta 2/7425 vehicles for both MER missions.
January 23 - Hispasat Approves Amazonas Project
Hispasat has approved a ¤237-million (US$225-million) investment to procure and launch its first satellite over Brazil. The 4,500-kg Amazonas satellite, carrying 36 Ku- and 27 C-band transponders, will be launched in late 2003 and located by 61 degrees West. Selection of the prime contractor is due in July.
January 23 - Turkey Cancels Satellite Bid
Turkish authorities have decided to cancel a leading bid by France's Alcatel Space to provide a military observation satellite system in 2003. The cancellation comes as a retaliation after the French parliament eventually decided on January 18 to recognize the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 as a genocide. Alcatel's bid, based on the Proteus small satellite bus, was reportedly worth US$149 million (US$259 million according to different sources) and had been selected over competition from Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. and Orbital Sciences Corp.
Editor's note: According to industrial sources, final talks on the contract were actually on hold due to some difficulties between the contracting parties.
January 22 - Asiasat Considers European Manufacturers
Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (Asiasat) is reportedly considering the procurement of its Asiasat 5 satellite from a European manufacturer to escape tight U.S. satellite export regulations. Not only the current rules virtually preclude any attempt to launch a U.S.-built satellite from China, but they also hinder communication between U.S. satellite manufacturers and heir Chinese customers. The Asiasat 5 RfP has been issued to "all major satellite manufacturers", including Alcatel Space and Astrium.
January 17 - Eutelsat Discusses Satellite Plans
Eutelsat plans to contract with Boeing Satellite Systems to procure a Boeing 376HP spin-stabilized satellite as its e-Bird 1 internet-dedicated satellite to be launched in the second quarter of 2002. According to Giuliano Berretta, Eutelsat plans to launch three satellites in 2001: Eurobird 1 on March 2 (on Ariane 5), Atlantic Bird 2 by mid-year (on an Ariane vehicle), and Atlantic Bird 1 at the end of the year (on a CZ-3B). A satellite co-located with W3 and tentatively dubbed W3A, will be needed circa 2003 according to Berretta.
January 16 - Ball to Develop RAMOS Sensors
Ball Aerospace & Technologies was awarded a US$62.5-million contract by the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization to develop and integrate sensor systems for the Russian American Observation Satellites (RAMOS) program through June 2010.
Editor's note: The RAMOS experiment is a joint Russian-American space research program using simultaneous stereo-optical imaging for target detection and backgrounds suppressionas well as potential significant improvement in environmental monitoring. RAMOS will comprise two satellites, the American Observation Satellite (AOS) and the the Russian Observation Satellite (ROS), and associated ground site equipment.
January 11 - Russian Docking Module Slips
New delays have been reported in the completion of the orbital tug which will bring the 1st Docking Compartment (DC-1) to the International Space Station after a launch atop a Soyuz U vehicle. Launch of the unpowered module was initially due in February and is now officially set on June 1st. However, RKK Energiya still lacks US$1 million to complete the tug.
Editor's note: More funding problems are reported with all other Russian modules with work stopped at early manufacturing or even design stages. Next major item, the 16-t Solar Science Platform, was due for launch in October 2002 aboard a U.S. Shuttle but will most likely miss the deadline.
January 8 - Indian Astronomy Satellite Approved
The Indian cabinet has given its approval for the development of a new X-ray astronomy satellite, dubbed Astrosat, by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Launch is tentatively scheduled in 2005 atop a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
January 8 - Melco to Build MT-Sat 2
Japan's Ministry of Transports has selected Mitsubishi Electric Co. as prime contractor for its MT-Sat 2 navigation and air traffic control satellite tentatively due for launch in 2004. Boeing Satellite Systems will provide the satellite bus and Alcatel Space its communications payload.
January 8 - SS/L to Build Apstar 5
Asia Pacific Telecommunications (APT) Satellite Company Ltd. has awarded a US$230-million contract to Space Systems/Loral to build its new Apstar 5 communication satellite which will be launched in February 2003. This 4,845-kg satellite, based on the LS-1300 bus, will replace Apstar 1 at 138 degrees East with 38 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders. APT Satellite is in charge of providing a launch service for Apstar 5. A China Great Wall Industry Corp.'s CZ-3B launcher has reportedly been selected.
January 8 - Go for UFO-11
The U.S. Navy has given its green light to Boeing Satellite Systems to begin the manufacturing of the 11th UHF Follow-On (UFO-11) military communications satellite for a launch now due in 2003.
January 5 - China Studies ASAT
The Chinese Academy of Satellite Technology's Small Satellite Research Institute has reportedly developed a new concept of anti-satellite system. Dubbed "parasitic satellite," the system relies on nanosatellites (<1kg to a few tens of kg) which would "dock" on target satellites. In case of conflict, these nanosatellites would be activated to jam or destroy their "hosts." Launch is expected on China's proposed future two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle.
January 5 - Mir Destruction Ukaze
Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasynov, eventually signs the decree authorizing the destruction of the 137-t Mir space station through a destructive piloted reentry over the Pacific Ocean in late February or early March.
January 4 - No Final Soyuz to Mir
Rosaviakosmos eventually decides not to fly the Soyuz TM32 mission to Mir unless a major failure, such as a total computer shutdown or a problem during docking with the Progress M1-5 tug vehicle, prevents its piloted reentry now due on March 5.
January 4 - Four Discovery Candidates Selected
NASA's Office of Space Science has downselected three candidate missions for its Discovery program of low-cost exploration of the inner Solar System, extended this time to the search of our galactic neighborhood. They are Ames Research Center's US$286-million Kepler space telescope to detect Earth-sized planet around nearby stars, Jet Propulsion Laboratory's US$296-million Interior Structure and Internal Dynamical Evolution of Jupiter (INSIDE Jupiter), a Jupiter orbiter to study the Jovian magnetosphere and atmosphere, and University of California's US$271-million Dawn probe to study asteroids 1-Ceres and 3-Vesta. Each of the three teams will first receive US$450,000 for feasibility studies. A final selection is due in late 2001 for a launch around 2005 or 2006. In addition, NASA plans to provide a US$35-million contribution to the CNES-led Netlander mission, a four-lander mission to be launched in 2007 on the Ariane 5ECA already carrying the U.S./French Mars Aerocapture & Sample Return Orbiter Demonstrator.
January 3rd - Boeing Gets Milsatcom Gapfiller
An industrial team led by Boeing Satellite Systems was awarded a US$160.3-million contract by U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center to design a gapfilling military communication satellite, based on its Boeing 702 bus, and provide support to the manufacturing of a first batch of three spacecraft to be ordered later. The Wideband Gapfiller Satellite (WGS) will be launched in early 2004 as a complement to the current 3rd generation Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS-3) before the introduction of the future Advanced Wideband Satellite system tentatively scheduled for 2008. The contract includes options for the procurement of the first batch of three satellites as well as for another three with their associated spacecraft and payload control equipment which could bring total value of the deal to up to US$1.306 billion through 2010.

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