News of October 2001

Dates are those of the events (in UT) when available.

Commercial Launchers | Government Launchers | Small Launchers
Missile Systems | RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems | Space Propulsion
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  Commercial Launchers

Superbird 6 to Fly on Atlas
October 30

Japan's Space Communications Corp. (SCC) has awarded a contract to International Launch Services to loft its Superbird 6 on an Atlas 2AS vehicle in October 2003. The satellite will be a BSS-601, built by Boeing Satellite Systems under a contract signed in September.
Editor's note: All the remaining Atlas 2AS flights had been booked but one became available in September when the launch of DirecTV-5 was moved to a Proton. The last Atlas 2AS have reportedly been sold at low cost as Lockheed Martin Astronautics is closing this production line in favor of its new Atlas 5 family of launchers.

Russia Plans 11 to 14 Proton Flights in 2002
October 25
GKNPTs Khrunichev announced that it plans to fly 11 to 14 Proton vehicles from Baykonur, Kazakhstan, in 2002. Seven to eight missions will be conducted for commercial customers on behalf of International Launch Services. Among these commercial satellites to be flown on Proton vehicles in 2002, would be Société Européenne des Satellites' Astra 1K, Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd.'s Asiasat 4, GE Americom's GE-12, Télésat Canada's Nimiq 2, and Echostar Satellite's Echostar 8. Two or three more flights are planned on behalf of Rosaviakosmos to loft communication satellites. Two or three more flights are scheduled to launch communication and navigation satellites for the Russian Military Space Forces.
Proton K/DM-2M
(GKNPTs Khrunichev)

Editor's note: Other commercial launches in 2002 could include the DirecTV-5 and Intelsat 903 satellites, currently manifested in late 2001 but likely to be postponed to next year. According to earlier announcements by ILS, Asiasat 4 and Nimiq 2 are currently planned to fly atop an Atlas 3 and an Atlas 5/500, respectively. These Proton launches should be back-up reservations. Other launches taken into account by Khrunichev may include several ICO satellites and the first Astrolink broadband communication satellite although thses launches are unlikely to occur before 2003. Rosaviakomos launches include ESA's Integral gamma ray observatory as well as possibly the Ekspress A1R or Ekspress AMs or Yamal domestic communication satellites. Military launches would include at least one triplet of Uragan positioning satellites to replenish the Glonass global navigation satellite system.

Atlas 5 Reach Major Milestones
October 18
Lockheed Martin Astronautics announces several milestones for its Atlas 5 launch vehicle program with the assembly of the first Atlas 5 booster stage (AV-001) on its mobile launch table in Cape Canaveral's refurbished SLC-41 launch facility on October 11. A stretched Centaur upper stage was stacked on top of the booster on the following day. Later, a dummy satellite mass and a simulated payload fairing will be added on top of the launcher for further compatibility tests. This "Booster on Stand" operation will end a series of validation tests for the ground infrastructure. The actual launch campaign for the vehicle's maiden flight in May will begin in January.
Atlas 5


In parallel, the Atlas 5 booster stage's RD-180 engine completed its 150th firing test in the U.S. and has reportedly been certified for all Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 flight profiles.
Eight RD-180 engines have been delivered to Lockheed Martin Astronautics by Russia' NPO EnergoMash and five more are being prepared for shipment before the end of this year.
Editor's note: Lockheed Martin and its marketing arm International Launch System claim to conduct a progressive transition from the Atlas 2 to the Atlas 5. Before the Atlas 5 maiden flight, the booster's RD-180 engine, a derivative of the RD-170/171 flown on the first stage of Zenit launchers and Energiya's strap-on boosters, will have flown twice and the new, stretched Centaur upper stage only once. Under a US$1-billion contract signed in June 1997, 101 RD-180 engines have been ordered by Lockheed Martin to NPO EnergoMash.
AeroAstro to fly SPORT on Ariane 5
October 17

AeroAstro and Malaysia's Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd have signed an agreement to jointly develop and fly their Small Payload Orbit Transfer (SPORT) module for a demonstration flight piggyback on an Ariane 5 in late 2002. The SPORT module was designed to serve as a microsatellite bus for small payloads or as an orbit transfer module for microsatellites. It will be flown on Ariane 5 missions to geostationary transfer orbits and will use an onboard propulsion system to bring back its payloads into low Equatorial orbits.
Editor's note: AeroAstro has signed an agreement with Arianespace in May 2000 to market SPORT on Ariane 5 launches. Astronautic Technology plans to use the SPORT design to develop the LEqO constellation for messaging services.

False Alarm in Arianespace HQ
October 17

No pathological agent was detected in the suspect mail received at Arianespace's headquarters in Evry, near Paris. All activities have returned to normal.

Suspect Mail Reported in Arianespace HQ
October 15

A suspect mail was reportedly discovered in Arianespace's headquarters in Evry, near Paris. The offices were evacuated and the teams were moved to other locations. An investigation is underway by a French military laboratory to determine whether the suspect mail could carry pathological agents.
Editor's note: Arianespace launched 130 out of the current 207 active geostationary communication satellites and thus played a major role in the development of communication and information services in the world. Arianespace has also been the primary launch service for the Muslim world by lofting five Arabsat satellites as well as three Türksats and one Eurasiasat for Turkey; one Palapa, one Cakrawarta and one Telkom for Indonesia; two Nilesats for Egypt and two Measats for Malaysia.

Boeing Confirms Delta 4 Customer
October 9

Boeing Expendable Launch Systems reportedly confirms that the customer for its very first Delta 4 launch vehicle, in late April 2002, will be Eutelsat with an unidentified satellite. The announcement, which was not backed by any official statement, was made during the dedication ceremony for the Delta 4 launch complex at Cape Canaveral's SLC-37 after completion of the initial 37B pad. The US$250-million facility will accommodate all five versions of the Delta 4, including the Delta 4 Heavy, and incorporates an Horizontal Integration Facility, partly funded through a US$24-million state financing by the Spaceport Florida Authority.
Editor's note: According to Space News, the first payload of the Delta 4 could be the Alcatel Space-built W1 communication satellite which was damaged during ground testing in June 1998. A US$50-million claim was reportedly filed for the loss of W1 which was not considered recoverable after it was doused by a fire extinguishing system during payload testing in Alcatel's facilities (then Aerospatiale's) in Cannes. The W1 designation was later given to an Astrium-built satellite, initially ordered as Ressat and launched in September 2000. A rumor regarding the launch of the Alenia Spazio-built Atlantic Bird 1 on the first Delta 4 flight has been denied by Eutelsat. However, Alenia still has to obtain a U.S. State Department export license for the satellite's U.S.-built components in time to allow a launch on a Chinese CZ-3A "Long March" booster in early 2002. Alenia Spazio's current contract for Atlantic Bird 1 includes a delivery on orbit.
Eutelsat has contracted for launches on three upcoming maiden flights: Arianespace's Ariane 5ECA (Hot Bird 7), Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 (Hot Bird 6) and Boeing's Delta 4. In the past it also flew the first Atlas 3 (W4) in May 2000 and the first Atlas 2 (Eutelsat 2-F3) in December 1991. Actually, its very first satellite, Eutelsat 1-F1 even flew the first Ariane 3 in August 1984 but the launch had been contracted by the European Space Agency.
SLC-37 was used to launch six Saturn 1 and two Saturn 1B vehicles for NASA from 1964 to 1968. It was decommissioned in 1970. A 37A pad may be added to the new facility if the launch rate requires it.

Delta 4 CBC Lands in Florida
October 4

The first flight model of Boeing's Delta 4 Common Booster Core stage has arrived at Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, onboard the M/V Delta Mariner ship. Before its actual launch, in late April 2002, the 48-m-long stage will be used for a static hot firing test on Cape Canaveral's refurbished SLC-37 pad.

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  Government Launchers

Titan 2 Delayed Again
October 25

A Lockheed Martin Astronautics refurbished Titan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile, which was planned to launch a military meteorology satellite from Vandenberg AFB, California, last January, is experiencing another delay, from November 14 to late December at the earliest, after leaks were reported on turbopump seals in its Aerojet LR87-AJ-11 first stage engine. The turbopump assemblies will have to be removed and the faulty seals replaced before the launch operations can resume. The stage has been on the launch pad since October 12, 2000, and this lenghty wait is thought to have caused the leaks.
Editor's note: The Titan 23G G-9 'Cindy Mary' vehicle was initially planned for launch on January 20, 2001 but experienced numerous delays and postponements due to ground equipment and onboard malfunctions, payload anomaly and range conflicts.

PSLV Lofts Satellites to Multiple Orbits
October 22

The Indian Space Research Organisation launched its 6th Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C3) from its Sriharikota Range in Tamil Nadu. The four-stage vehicle releades its main payload, the 1,108-kg Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) on a 568-km-high Sun-synchronous orbit. The PSLV was also carrying two piggyback microsatellites. German DLR's BIRD-1 was released on the same orbit as TES while the vehicle's fourth stage was re-ignited to boost ESA's Proba on an elliptical orbit (568 x 638 km).
Editor's note: Little information has been released on TES. The US$25-million program was reportedly decided in July 1999, following skirmish with the Pakistani army in the disputed area of Kargil, in Kashmir, which led to the May-June 1999 conflict with Pakistan. It could also be related to Pakistan's "nuclear outing" in May 1998 and the initial testing of the Ghauri 2 IRBM in April 1999. The mission of TES is likely to focus on the demonstration of military observation sensors. A senior Indian defense official said that Indian defense forces plan
to use the satellite to map the borders with China and Pakistan.

Third CZ-2F Flight Qualified
October 20

The third CZ-2F launch vehicle recently completed flight qualification and will be transported from Beijing to Jiuquan shortly, according to Go Taikonauts, quoting Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology information. The launcher, described as the first "full status" CZ-2F, is expected to loft the third prototype Shenzhou spaceship.

Delta 4 Heavy Demo Flight May Slip

October 15

The maiden flight of Boeing's largest Delta 4 vehicle is likely to slip from late 2002 into the first quarter 2003 according to Space News.
Editor's note: Under its initial Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle contract awarded in 1998, Boeing had to conduct a demonstration flight before the first operational mission, in this case the launch of U.S. Air Force's DSP-23 early warning satellite, currently due in August 2003. As prospects for a commercial payload on this mission did not materialize, the U.S. Department of Defense agreed in October 2000 to pay US$141 million to fund the flight. However, Boeing is still allowed to sell payload capacity to a commercial customer. The Delta 4H vehicle is reportedly able to deliver 13,130 kg of payload into geostationary transfer orbit.

Delta 4H
PSLV Slips to Late October
October 8


The upcoming flight of an Indian Space Research Organisation PSLV launcher has been postponed to the end of October, between the 22 and the 31, as one of its payloads, presumably India's secretive Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) is getting late.
Editor's note: On this mission, the PSLV will carry two piggyback payloads: ESA's Proba autonomous operations testbed satellite and Bird 1, a remote sensing technology microsatellite for Germany's DLR. Their integration on the vehicle is due on October 16. TES is reportedly a technology satellite for multiple sensors and new Indian-developed equipments. Some sources suggest it is a prototype spy satellite or at a least a demonstrator for future military payloads.

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  Small Launchers

Taiwanese Suborbital Rocket Fails
October 23
A two-stage solid-fuelled suborbital rocket developed by the Chung Shan Institute for Science & Technology (CSIST), Taiwan's main defense research center, failed when its second stage did not ignite. The launch was performed from Chiupeng and was intended to loft a science payload to an altitude of 80-140 km to study neutral winds and vortices in the ionosphere. Instead the faulty rocket reached only 15 km and plummeted into the sea. The National Space Council sponsored the mission and contracted the military-run CSIST to develop the rocket from its Tien Kung 1 (Sky Bow) air defense missile. Reported development cost amounted to T$50 million (US$1.45 million). The payloads were developed by Taiwan's National Central University and Clemson University of South Carolina.

Editor's note: The 900-kg, 5-m-long Tien Kung 1 missile has been operational for theater defense since 1988. It has a reported range of 50 km. A more pwerful version, the 8-m-long Tien Kung 2, was introduced in 1993 with a 80-km-range. In the late 1970s, Taiwan attempted to develop a 950-km-range ballistic missile, the Tien Ma (Sky Horse) but this secret program was scrapped in 1981 under pressure from the United States. It was apparently revived in 1989 as a satellite launch vehicle project but no further information was ever released.

Tien Kung 1
Rokot to Launch Iridium in June
October 18

Eurockot Launch Services GmbH confirms that it will launch a pair of Iridium satellites for Iridium Satellites LLC in June 2002 atop a Rokot KM vehicle on behalf of a contract signed in 1999 by the previous Iridium LLC venture. A "pathfinder campaign" was conducted in September in Plesetsk with dummy satellites to demonstrate Eurockot's capability to conduct the mission.
Editor's note: The Rokot demonstration flight, in May 2000, lofted two dummy satellites simulating a pair of Iridium satellites.

Dnepr Launch Slips
October 18

MKK Kosmotras has decided to postpone the launch of its next Dnepr 1 vehicle from early December 2001 to the first half of 2002 as one of the U.S. payloads is reportedly late on schedule.
Editor's note: In addition to Italy's Unisat 2, to be flown for the University of Roma "La Sapienza", the next Dnepr is planned to carry a Multi-Payload Adapter provided by One Stop Satellite Solutions to carry a batch of nanosatellites.

Athena Program Shelved
October 8

Lockheed Martin Astronautics has reportedly put its Athena small launcher program in standby following the last of its manifested launches on September 30. With no more launch planned and little prospects for additional launch contracts, all 50 technical personnel have been reassigned and the commercial staff has been downsized to only one person. The hardware has been placed in storage. A decision to officially terminate the program could be taken in 2002.
Editor's note: The Athena family was first developed in the early 1990s as LLV (Lockheed Launch Vehicles) by Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. (now Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Missiles & Space Operations) in order to compete with Orbital Sciences' Pegasus and Taurus for government launches. The design was also reportedly tailored to allow the launch of Lockheed-built Iridium satellites either on dedicated flights (LLV-1) or by pairs or clusters (LLV-2 and 3). The LLV-3 design, with solid strap-on boosters was never developed.

Rokot Launch Slips to 2002
October 8

The first operational launch of Eurockot's Rokot KM vehicle has been postponed from November to February 2002 due to an unspecified technical problem on its payload, the two Gravity Recovery & Climate Experiment spacecraft built by Astrium for Germany's DLR aerospace research agency and NASA's JPL.
Editor's note: The Rokot KM flew once, on May 16, 2000, on a demonstration flight with two dummy satellite mass simulators.

Still Looking for Cause of HXLV Failure
October 4

The investigation board in charge of identifying the cause of the mishap on the Orbital Sciences Corp. HXLV booster which led to the loss of NASA's first X-43A hypersonic scramjet demonstrator on June 2 has ruled out most of the 600 identified potential sources for the malfunction and now expects to find a multiple cause for the failure. The investigation team is still working to fully understand the causal relationship among many elements, mostly regarding the vehicle's control system and aerodynamics which represent most of the remainig suspected sources. Extensive wind tunnel testing of a vehicle model and functional testing of the control system are underway. Orbital Sciences' Pegasus vehicles, which use a first stage very similar to the HXLV, will remain grounded until the end of the investigation.

HXLV and X-43A
Editor's note: The HXLV is a modified version of the Pegasus vehicle's first stage designed to withstand higher aerodynamic loads when flying at velocities of Mach 7 to 10 in the atmosphere while the standard stage is supposed to reach such speeds above the dense layers of the atmosphere. On June 2nd, the HXLV veered off course 5 to 10 seconds after ignition and had to be destroyed by safety officers at 51 seconds. A rumor rapidly spread out that the vehicle had been lost because of missing pins in its control surfaces which had caused them to fall off shortly into flight. This rumor was rapidly dismissed. The HXLV is based on the same Alliant Techsystems Orion 50S solid rocket motor as the second stage of the Taurus 2110 vehicle which veered off course for a few seconds before recovering its trajectory on September 21. The mishap caused the loss of the Orbview 4 and QuikTOMS spacecraft which could not achieve orbital velocity. Next Pegasus flight, tentatively planned for November 18, is due to loft NASA's HESSI satellite.
Ukraine/Brazil Funding for Tsyklon 4
October 3

The National Space Agency or Ukraine (NKAU) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) have agreed to jointly fund the preliminary study phase to prepare for the launch of NPO Yuzhnoye Tsyklon 4 vehicles from Brazil's Alcântara Launch Center. NPO Yuzhnoye is expected to complete a feasibility and cost assessment study by late October. Total cost of the project is estimated at US$100-200 million, with the preliminary phase amounting to about 5% of this sum. NPO Yuzhnoye reportedly hopes to launch about 5 to 6 times per year from Alcântara.
Editor's note: Italy's FiatAvio, which was planned to have a major involvement in the Tsyklon 4 program, announced in June that it will focus its activities on ESA's Vega launcher and play little role, if any, in this program at this point.

Tsyklon 4

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  Missile Systems

Ukraine Blows Up Last Missile Silo
October 30

As scheduled, Ukraine blew up the last of its intercontinental ballistic missile silos, a RS-22 launch complex near Pervomaisk, Nikolayev oblast.
Editor's note: 178 silos from the Soviet era have been destroyed since 1996, including 46 for NPO Yuzhnoye-built RS-22 missiles and 132 for RS-20 missiles.

Russia to Ease Policy on Missile Defense Testing
October 28

Russia is about to ease its policy regarding the preservation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972 and could allow the U.S. to proceed with its planned missile defense testing according to the U.S. National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice. Russia may agree to permit the tests, if the U.S. administration decides to put off any decision on withdrawing from the ABM treaty.

SMC Studies New Role for Deactived MX ICBMs
October 26
U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center (SMC) is studying options to use stages from decommissioned MX Peacekeeper inetrcontinental ballistic missiles to launch suborbital and orbital payloads. As the existing force of 50 MX missiles currently deployed could be retired under a proposal issued in June by the U.S. Department of Defense to the U.S. Congress, some 75 sets of stages could become available for the Rocket System Launch Program (RSLP) which currently relies on stages from deactivated Minuteman missiles. A request for information on this topic has been released to the industry with answers due on November 2. A formal RfP is planned for January 25, 2002. Refurbishment cost for the whole MX fleet could amount to US$475 million.
MX Peacekeeper
(U.S. Air Force)

Editor's note: First stages of MX Peacekeeper missiles have been used as first stage of Orbital Sciences Taurus 1000 vehicles since 1994. Three flights have been conducted to date. E'Prime Aerospace Corp. (EPAC) has been studying a family of launchers, dubbed Eagle, based on the MX missile since the 1987.

Russia Launches RS-18
October 26

A RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from Baykonur, Kazakhstan, on a demonstration flight. Its dummy warhead successfully hit its target in Kamchatka.
Editor's note: The RS-18 (SS-19 "Stiletto") is the basis of Eurockot's Rokot and NPO Mashinostroeniya's Strela launch vehicles.

U.S. DoD Postpones Two Missile Defense Tracking Tests
October 24

The U.S. Department of Defense has postponed indefinitely two radar tracking demonstrations which could have been considered as a violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty signed in 1972 with the Soviet Union. According to an official statement, the tests would have involved a ship-mounted Aegis radar to track a Minuteman 2 ballistic missile launched from Vandenberg AFB, California, on October 24 as a target for an Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle to be launched from Kwajalein Missile Range in the Marshall Islands. On November 14, the Aegis radar would have tracked the upper stage of a Lockheed Martin Titan 23G launch vehicle due to loft a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program payload, also from Vandenberg.
Editor's note: Although presented as a decision to preserve the ABM treaty before a next round of negotiations with Russia, this postponement
had already been dictated by technology. The Minuteman 2 launch has slipped to late November or early December several weeks ago while the Titan 23G launch, on hold since January, has been delayed to December by technical problems. However, the two related Aegis tracking tests have apparently been scrapped for the time being.

TRW Gets Minuteman Guidance Replacement Contract
October 24

U.S. Air Force's Ogden Air Logistics Center, of Hill AFB, has exercised a US$180.9-million option on a contract with TRW ICBM Systems for the production of 80 NS-50 missile guidance sets, 36 RS cable sets, two missile guidance set controls, two missile guidance computers, three gyro stabilized platforms and three gyro compass assemblies in support of the Guidance Replacement Program for the Minuteman 3 ballistic missile for FY2002. However, this option covers activities through July 2004.

U.S. to Move Beyond ABM Treaty by Mid-2002
October 24

The U.S. administration plans to give a 6-month notice to Russia in November, announcing its intent to conduct a missile defense activity that could breach the existing Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty signed with the Soviet Union in 1972. If no further progress has been made in revamping the treaty to allow the deployment of the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Segment (formerly the National Missile Defense system), the U.S. plan to withdraw.

Last RS-22 Silo to be Dismantled
October 24

(NPO Yuzhnoye)

Bechtel National, Inc. announces that it will dismantle the last remaining RS-22 intercontinental ballistic missile launch silo in Ukraine on October 30. The silo, located in Pervomaysk, 400 km south of Kyiv, will be destroyed on behalf of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programmanaged by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start 1). Since being awarded its contract in June 1998, Bechtel has been responsible for the removal, defueling and partial neutralization of 46 RS-22 missiles and the dismantlement of their launch silos and related facilities.
Editor's note: Bechtel has also been in charge of dismantling 130 RS-20 missile silos, in Ukraine too
Russia Test Launches SLBM
October 18

Russia's Northern Fleet launches an unidentified Sea-Launched Ballistic Missile, presumably a RSM-54 'Shtil' from a submarine cruusising in the White Sea. After a 7,000-km suborbital flight, the missile's dummy warhead reportedly hit its target at the Kura testing range in Kamchatka.

Ukraine Got US$361.5-million for Nuclear Disarmament
October 12

Ukraine has received US$361.5 million out of a planned US$511-million grant promised by the United States, Germany and Canada to eliminate its nuclear weaponry and the related industrial infrastructure within 7 years. The United States gave US$350 million to dismantle Ukrainian ballistic missiles and will provide an additional US$150 million to complete the work. Germany gave US$9 million for the destruction of 18 RS-18 missile silos and 9 RS-22 missile silos. Canada invested US$2.5 million in environmental projects related to the elimination of weaponry of mass destruction. More than 500 companies are reportedly involved in Ukraine's disarmament effort.

OSC to Develop Air-Launched Ballistic Targets
October 12

Orbital Sciences Corp. was awarded a US$24-million contract by U.S. Army's Space & Missile Defense Command (SMDC) to develop and launch 4 Short Range Air Launch Target on behalf of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. The targets, based on surplus solid rocket motors from decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles, will be dropped under a parachute from a Lockheed C-130 Hercules carrier aircraft and fired on 500-km-range trajectories in order to simulate incoming ballistic missiles for U.S. Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense systems. The air-launch concept will allow to simulate attacks from locations and directions were no launch site is available.
Editor's note: The targets will presumably be developped from one or two of the upper stages of Minuteman 2 missiles.

M51 First Stage Completes Pressure Test
October 10

The composite casing for the first stage motor of the M51 French sea-launched ballistic missile successfully completed a milestone pressure test. The case was filled with water to simulate the pressure it will have to withstand during an actual combustion. This composite structure, 6-m-high and 2.3 m in diameter, is the largest composite casing ever manufactured in Europe. It was built by EADS Launch Vehicles for Snecma Moteurs which shares the prime contractorship for the missile's propulsion with Groupe SNPE under the G2P consortium. EADS-LV is also prime for the overall vehicle. The M51 is due to replace the current M45 on France's latest generation of submarines by 2008.
Editor's note: Snecma and Groupe SNPE are planned to merge their solid propulsion business by year end to form the Herakles joint-venture, due to take over prime contractorship for the M51's propulsion.

Trident 2 Guidance Repair Contract
October 9

Raytheon Systems was awarded a US$12.3-million contract by U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs to provide repair services for Mk6 missile guidance systems on Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles during FY2002.

Raytheon Modifies EKV
October 5

The next interception test by the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Segment (formerly the National Missile Defense system) has been postponed to late November or early December as Raytheon is performing minor modifications to the Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). Raytheon is reportedly improving the vehicle's software based on lessons learned from the previous interception tests. Additional ground tests will also be conducted before the next flight. A specific launch date will be decided in early November when the EKV and its support hardware will be shipped to Kwajalein Missile Range, in the Marshall Island, where it will be mounted atop a Lockheed Martin Payload Launch Vehicle.

OSC is TRW's Contender on LPB
October 4

Orbital Sciences Corp. announces that it has been selected by U.S. Army's Space & Missile Defense Command (SMDC) for the second phase of its Liquid Booster Development Program. Under a US$22-million contract, OSC will design a liquid-fuelled booster stage which could be used as a representative target for theater missile defense and later national missile defense systems. This 18-month effort will include a full-scale static firing of the booster engine. OSC's design, based on technologies developed for the NASA/U.S. Air Force Upper Stage Flight Experiment (USFE) program, will compete with another concept developed by TRW Space & Electronics which already announced its selection for a US$24-million on September 26. A final development phase is expected to include detailed liquid booster system design, development and a flight test in early 2004. The eventual booster, fuelled by non-toxic propellants (hydrogen peroxide and kerosene), will simulate "Scud" types of missiles. A following production contract is expected to be worth US$100-million over 6 years.
Editor's note: Five companies were selected for an initial study in early 2001. Current Hera target vehicles are based on solid-fuelled stages from the Minuteman ballistic missile series. Several Scuds have also been acquired by the SMDC to serve as targets.

Russia Test Launches Topol ICBM
October 3

A 15-year-old RS-12M "Topol" intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully launched from Plesetsk by the Russian Military Space Forces and hit a training target at the Kura range in Kamchatka.

U.S. Senate Approves Military Spending
October 3

The U.S. Senate has approved a US$344-billion defense bill for FY2002 which includes a US$8.3-billion budget for the development of missile defense systems. If needed, US$1.3 billion could be shifted by the administration from this missile defense budget to increase a US$6-billion budget for counter-terrorism efforts. The Senate dropped a provision by the Armed Services Committee that required approval by the U.S. Congress to fund any missile defense tests that would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty signed in 1972 with the Soviet Union.