News of November 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
Spaceports | Industry | Launch Market | Agencies and Governments

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IN MEMORIAM, ALBERT DUCROCQ, 1921-2001
FRIEND AND MENTOR


  Commercial Launchers

First Commercial H-2A Slips Too
November 16

The launch of the first H-2A vehicle sold by Rocket System Corp. will slip from February 2003 to July/August of the same year as its payload is getting late. The MT-Sat 1R satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral for Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure Transport and the Japan Meteorological Agency, will provide weather monitoring from geostationary orbit as well as mobile communication services, mostly from aircarft in flight for air traffic control.
Editor's note: MT-Sat 1R will replace the similar MT-Sat 1 which was lost in the launch failure of the last H-2 on November 15, 1999. It is also supposed to provide in-orbit replacement for Japan's sole remaining meteorology satellite, the 6-year old Himawari 5, which has exceeded its planned lifetime.

Ariane Production to be Streamlined
November 16

In order to improve the competitiveness of the Ariane launch system, the European space ministers have asked ESA to prepare a consolidation of the Ariane production processes to streamline the relationship between the industrial partners. A consolidated approach with only one prime for the stage and one for its propulsion will be applied for the development of the new ESC-B stage and its Vinci engine. Proposals for an industrial take-over of the whole vehicle will have to be finalized for mid-2002.
Editor's note: Currently, the operational Ariane 5 launchers are produced under prime contractorship of Arianespace with seven primary contractors: Astrium GmbH (upper stages and dual launch structures), Astrium SAS (vehicle equipment bay), Contraves Space (payload fairing), EADS CASA Espacio (payload adapters), EADS Launch Vehicles (core stage and booster stages), Europropulsion (solid propulsion) and Snecma Moteurs (cryogenic propulsion).

Arianespace Plans Two Launches in January
November 14

Arianespace plans to resume Ariane 5 launches by late January and to launch another Ariane 4 before that according to a new provisional launch manifest posted on the company's website. An Ariane 42L is due to loft India's Insat 3C on January 16 while the next Ariane 5 will loft ESA's 8-ton Envisat polar platform.
Editor's note: Insat 3C was initially due to fly with Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 2 on an Ariane 5 in September but the launch was delayed after Ariane 5 experienced a launch mishap on July 13. Atlantic Bird 2 went alone on an Ariane 44P on September 25.

Intelsat 903 Launch Delay
November 6

In the report on its results for the 3rd quarter of 2001, Space Systems/Loral announces that the launch of the Intelsat 903 satellite, expected in late November, has now slipped to early 2002. However, the launch of the long-delayed DirecTV-5 satellite is still due in 2001.
Editor's note: Intelsat 903 was due to fly on a Proton M vehicle and was moved to a Proton K upon request by Intelsat. A swap to an Ariane 4 has been considered with Intelsat 904 moving from Ariane to Proton in case of launch schedule conflicts.

ILS Worried by DirecTV-5's Late Delivery
November 5

International Launch Systems has asked Space Systems/Loral to deliver its DirecTV-5 satellite before the end of November if it wants it to be launched before the end of the year. The satellite is being checked after a major power loss affected PanAmSat's PAS-7 which is of similar design. The launch of DirecTV-5 has been postponed four times since October 2000 and moved from a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS vehicle to a GKNPTs Khrunichev Proton K/DM-2M launcher in September to cope with conflicting schedules. According to Space News, ILS has warned that it will not move the satellite back to an Atlas launch if it experiences further delays.
Editor's note: DirecTV-5 was initially planned for launch in 1996 as Tempo 1. The last remaining Atlas 2AS launch slot, which was freed by DirecTV-5 in September, has been sold to Space Communications Corp. (SCC) for its Superbird 6 satellite. ILS has no low-cost Atlas 2AS launch opportunities left and can only sell Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 launches as back-up to the Proton flights.

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  Government Launchers

NASDA Postpones First Operational H-2A
November 14
Japan's National Space Development Agency has decided to postpone the first operational mission of its new H-2A launch vehicle to November 2002 at the earliest. This 3rd flight of the improved H-2, due to loft NASDA's 2nd Advanced Earth Observation Satellite (Adeos 2), as well as three piggyback microsatellites, was previously planned for late February 2002 but NASDA prefers to wait for a complete analysis of the vehicle's qualification flights before proceeding with operational missions. The 4th and 5th flights, respectively scheduled in July/August 2002 to loft the first Data Relay Test Satellite and the Unmanned Space Experiment Recovery System, and in early 2003 with the MT-Sat 1R meteorology and air traffic control satellite, are expected to slip accordingly, The second qualification flight of the H-2A, with the MDS-1 technology satellite, remains on schedule for late January.
H-2A
(NASDA)

Editor's note: The Adeos 2 satellite was initially due to fly in 2000 on the last H-2 vehicle but the launch was cancelled in the wake of the H-2 launch failure on November 15, 1999. MT-Sat 1R will replace the MT-Sat 1 satellite lost on that launch.

Delta 4 Heavy Demo Flight Slips to 2003

November 12

As expected, the maiden flight of Boeing's largest Delta 4 vehicle will slip from late 2002 into the first quarter 2003, according to Space News. The move was apparently triggered by a decision by Space Systems/Loral, customer for the third Delta 4, to delay the launch of its Estrela do Sul satellite from the third to the fourth quarter of 2002.
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
(Boeing)

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  Small Launchers

Canadian Microsatellite on Rokot
November 20

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has signed a contract with Eurockot Launch Services for the launch of its Microvariability & Oscillations of STars (MOST) microsatellites on the first Rokot KS mission in October 2002. This 60-kg spacecraft, developed by Dynacon Enterprises Ltd. and built at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), MOST is the first of a new series of science microsatellites to be launched by the CSA.
Editor's note: This launch will demonstrate the modified Breeze KS upper stage and Eurockot's new "Launch a Piggy" commercial service for piggyback payloads on launches for Russian communications and remote sensing satellites.

France Supports Vega
November 15

During ESA's ministerial council meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, France has agreed to invest €40 million in ESA's Italian-led Vega small launcher in order to cover most of the missing budget for its development.
Editor's note: During ESA's previous ministerial council, in 1999, France had withdrawn from the program and almost caused its cancellation, argueing that no actual market existed for the vehicle.

NPO-KS to Buy Dialog Satellite in Orbit
November 12

NPO Kosmicheskaya Sviaz has signed an agreement with GKNPTs Khrunichev to buy its Dialog small geostationary communication satellite when it is successfully reaching its final orbit. This "Delivery In Orbit" procurement is a first for NPO-KS which usually had to procure the satellites and launches step by steps through Rosaviakosmos. The Dialog spacecraft, based on Khrunichev's Yakhta bus, will be delivered in low Earth orbit by a Rokot KS launcher and will rely on an onboard xenon propulsion system to raise its orbit.
Editor's note: Two Dialog satellites have reportedly been sold to Intersputnik, and are also scheduled to fly on Rokot KS vehicles in 2003. Khrunichev plans to subcontract the launches to Eurockot Launch Services. Each Dialog satellites will carry 6 to 8 C/Ku transponders.

Taurus Failure Cause Identified
November 7

The investigation on the launch failure of an Orbital Sciences Taurus vehicle on September 21 has identified the cause of the mishap as a stuck actuator in the second stage's thrust vectoring system. The actuator apparently seized up for five seconds after ignition, causing the vehicle to veer off course, before control could be restored.

First Picture of Kaituozhe 1 Released
November 6


KT-1
(SSRC)

The first picture of China's new Kaituozhe 1 (KT-1, formerly SLV-1) all-solid launch vehicle was released by Aerospace China and spotted by Go Taikonauts. A model of the vehicle, under development by Space Solid Fuel Rocket Carrier Co. Ltd. (SSRC), was actually on display on behalf of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. (CASIC), in September in Beijing during an exhibition. The maiden flight of the KT-1 is still scheduled for 2002.
Editor's note: The displayed model suggests a 20-m-tall four-stage design based on China's DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile with two solid upper stages. The 2-m-diameter first stage features four nozzles. SSRC is a consortium including
China Machinery & Electronics Engineering Integrated Design Department, China Space Machinery & Electronics (Group) Co., the Space Solid Fuel Rocket Propulsion Technology Research Institute, the Controls & Electronics Technology Research Institute and the Chenguang (Group) Co. Ltd.

ARPA Studies Little Rascal
November 5

U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Program Agency is studying a concept of partly reusable vehicle for quick on-demand launch of small payloads to orbit. The Responsive Access Small Cargo Affordable Launch (Rascal) project would be based on a reusable first stage and an expendable upper stage to loft microsatellites of less than 50-kg in 24 hours for 44k$/kg. ARPA expects to develop a prototype within 4 years.

Eurockot Signs with Japanese Institute
November 2

Japan's Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer (USEF) has signed a launch agreement with Eurockot Launch Services GmbH to loft the first satellite of the Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System (Servis) atop a Rokot KM vehicle from Plesetsk, Northern Russia, in 2003. The contract was concluded through Eurockot's Asian agent, Mitsui Bussan Aerospace. The 1,000-kg SERVIS-1 spacecraft, under development by Mitsubishi Electric Co. will operate on a 1,000-km-high Sun-synchronous orbit to experiment the use of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components and technologies in actual space environment on behalf of the JapanŐs Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Organization for New Energy and Industrial Technologies Development (NEDO).
Editor's note: Eurockot has a joint marketing policy with Starsem which was reportedly negotiating for the launch of the two SERVIS missions on Soyuz-Fregat vehicles.


Rokot KM
(Eurockot)

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  Missile Systems

U.S. Wants China to Stop Missile Assistance to Pakistan
November 30
The U.S. State Department is asking again China to stop any assistance in missile development and related technology transfers to Pakistan. This condition is considered mandatory to lift existing sanctions on Chinese companies which include the current refusal to issue any export license for U.S.-built satellites and European-built satellites incorporating U.S. components due for launch atop Chinese boosters.   

Editor's note: In order to enable its current military operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. administration has lifted its non-proliferation sanctions on Pakistan in September.

Russia Reaches Start-1 Objective
November 30

The Russian Armed Forces announce that, by December 4, they will have reached their objective of a nuclear arsenal reduced to 6,000 warheads as required by the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start-1) which took effect in December 1994.

Lockheed Martin Gets Trident 2 Support Contract
November 29

U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs awarded a US$283,45-million contract to Lockheed Martin Missile & Space for support to its deployed fleet of Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles for FY2002.

Next Missile Defense Intercepton Test Imminent
November 29

  
Minuteman 2 and PLV
(U.S. Air Force/LMMS)

The fifth interception attempt of a simulated incoming intercontinental ballistic missile warhead will be conducted on December 2 (December 1st PST) by the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization as part of the development program for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Segment (formerly the National Missile Defense system). The US$100-million test will involve a refurbished Minuteman 2 ballistic missile launched from Vandenberg and lofting a dummy warhead with a balloon decoy toward the Kwajalein Missile Range, in Marshall Islands. A Raytheon Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), launched from Kwajalein atop a Lockheed Martin Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) will then attempt to intercept the incoming warhead. For the first time the refurbished Minuteman 2 carrier rocket will be an Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Orbital Suborbital Program's Target Launch Vehicle (OSP/TLV). Previous launches used the Multi-Service Launch System (MSLS) provided by Lockheed Martin Astronautics.
Editor's note: The reported cost of an OSP/TLV launch is US$11 million while the MSLS flights were quoted at US$21 million each. As on the previous test, on July 14, a beacon in the warhead will be used to bring the EKV in the vicinity of its target before the actual interception demonstration begins.
Russia Scraps Railborne Missile Launchers
November 27

In order to comply with the provisions of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start-1), Russia has begun the dismantlement of its railborne missile launch systems. A train carrying launch containers and control equipment for RS-22V (SS-24 'Scalpel) intercontinental ballistic missiles has been moved from storage at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, in Northern Russia, to Braynsk for disposal.

Egypt Suspected of Missile Deal with North Korea
November 26
The U.S. State Department intends to ask Egypt for clarification regarding an alleged secret deal with North Korea to acquire long-range ballitic missiles. Israeli and South Korean sources have reported that North Korea intends to export 24 Nodong 1 missiles and their manufacturing technology to Egypt. The Nodong 1 has a reported 1,350-km range.   

Editor's note: According to U.S. sources, North Korea earned US$580 million by selling 250 missiles to Middle East countries during the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s.

Missile Defense Target Flight Aborted
November 9

A refurbished sea-launched ballistic missile had to be destroyed 52 sec. after launch from the Kodiak Launch Center, Alaska, due to a loss of telemetry. The vehicle, made of two Lockheed Martin Polaris sea-launch ballistic missile stages and a Pratt&Whitney Orbus kick motor, did not veer off course before its flight termination system was initiated. This launch, the first of 20 Strategic Target System (STARS) missions to be conducted from KLC by U.S. Army's Space & Missile Defense Center for the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, was heading southward to simulate the flight of a warhead and accompanying decoys to evaluate discrimination capabilities by ground-based radars in California.
Editor's note: According to local opponents to the STARS program, the launch was conducted under bad weather conditions.

Minuteman 3 Test Flight
November 7

An unarmed Minuteman 3 ballistic missile was launched from Vandenberg AFB, California, toward the Kwajalein Missile Range in Marshall Islands. The missile's dummy warhead hit its target according to the U.S. Air Force. This flight was previously planned as part of a dual launch to be conducted in mid-September. The two launches werepostponed after the terrorists attacks of September 11. Since the objectives of the second launch required the availability of downrange tracking radar which is currently down for maintenance, it will be conducted at a later date.
Editor's note: As part of its new wartime communication policy, the U.S. Air Force no longer provides schedules for its missile and satellite launches.

Russia Flexible on ABM Issues
November 6

Russia may revise its position regarding amendments to the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty signed in 1972 between the Soviet union and the United States. In an interview, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated that Russia's position was "flexible" and that "a compromise can only be found as a result of very intense negotiations." President Putin is due to meet U.S. president George Walker Bush on November 13-15.

  
China Prepares ICBM Test Flight
November 5

China is preparing a test launch of an unidentified intercontinental ballistic missile, presumably a DF-31, from its Wuzhai Missile & Space Center, Shanxi. The launch is due before mid-November according to Russian military diplomatic sources. The DF-31 is reportedly planned to enter operational status in 2002.
Editor's note: Depending on the missile's caharacteristices and the test objectives, the test flight could aim at a target in the Taklimakan desert, in the Xinjiang Uygur (Eastern Turkestan) province or into the Pacific Ocean.

Topol Flight Success
November 1st

Russian Strategic Missiles Forces (RVSN) and the Russian Space Forces successfully launched a RS-12M 'Topol' intercontinental ballistic missile from Plesetsk, Northen Russia. Its dummy warhead reportedly hit its target at the Kura test range, Kamchatka, some 7,000 km downrange.

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  RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems

Endeavour Launch Postponed Beyond Spacewalk
November 30

NASA and Rosaviakomos have revised their plans for the launch of STS-108 mission to loft the replacement crew and logistics to the International Space Station. Endeavour's liftoff has been postponed to December 4 in order to enable a spacewalk by the current ISS crew on December 3 to remove a foreign object in the Zvezda module's aft docking bay which prevents hard docking of a Progress M1 resupply ship.
Editor's note: The Progress M1-7 spacecraft is attached to the ISS only by its docking probe. The removal of the 'foreign object' (apparently a cable) will allow effective docking with latches and fluid connections. Unless this 'hard docking' is complete, the ISS will remain in free drift mode and no further rendezvous will be attempted to prevent the Progress ship from breaking loose.

Faulty Progress Docking Delays Shuttle Launch
November 29

NASA is delaying its next shuttle mission to the International Space Station by at least 24 hours as Rosaviakosmos' latest Progress M1 resupply ship did not dock correctly with the outpost on November 28. The Progress M1-7 spacecraft was successfully launched by a Soyuz FG vehicle on November 26 and docked apparently smoothly two days later. However, complete docking with all latches engaged could not be confirmed. Unless firm docking is completed and checked, no shuttle docking will be allowed with the station, as the stresses induced could break the 7-ton spacecraft loose. The launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on the STS-108 mission, due on November 30 has slipped to December 1st at the earliest.


Progress M1
(Rosaviakosmos/NASA)
Editor's note: Russian source indicate that a 'foreign object' might be the cause of the docking mishap. A similar event happened on April 9, 1987, with the docking of the Kvant 1 research module to the core module of the Mir space station. A spacewalk had to be performed on April 11 to remove a plastic bag from the docking bay.
Third Shenzhou Flight Expected in December
November 23

China is likely to conduct the third unmanned test flight of its Shenzhou man-rated vehicle in December according to analysts. Senior officials from the Chinese National Space Administration have announced that the first manned flight is due before 2005 and that plans were being set up for future manned missions to the Moon.
Editor's note: Since no picture have been released from the Shenzhou 2 recovery capsule after its landing in January, a partial failure of this second test flight can be assumed.

ESA's Future Launcher Program to be Revived
November 16

ESA's ministerial council has set target dates in 2004 and 2007 respectively to decide the development of experimental systems to demonstrate reusable launch vehicle technologies and to decide the actual development of a full-scale reusable launch system. The 2004 term is also planned to decide the next step of evolutions for both the Ariane 5 and Vega launchers. To prepare for these decisions, a Future Launcher Preparatory Program (FLPP) will be defined from earlier proposals by ESA and national agencies and finalized for a kick-off decision expected in the second quarter of 2002. A two-phase program is foreseen, with a first three-year phase to address the technologies for the development of experimental vehicles beginning by mid-2002.
Editor's note: The Future Launcher Technology Program (FLTP) was approved with a €48-million budget by ESA's last ministerial council in May 1999 in Brussels but could not be implemented due to rivalries between agencies and was discontinued by the Edinburgh Council, with its funds being re-allocated to the preparation of FLPP. Several proposals were drafted for a FLTP-2 program for this council meeting with a tentative €270-million budget request but as no consensus could be reached in time, the budget line was removed from the proposal.

X-37 Gets FY2002 Funding
November 16

A budget to continue the development of the NASA/Boeing X-37 space maneuvering vehicle demonstrator has reportedly been approved by the U.S. Congress on behalf of the FY2002 budegt for the Space Launch Initiative. This budget would allow to reach the atmospheric drop test phase of the program.
Editor's note: The U.S. Air Force has announced its intent to stop financing its share of the project by the end of FY2002.

ESA's Space Freighter Takes Shape
November 12


ATV on Ariane 5
(EADS-LV)

EADS Launch Vehicles is about to assemble the first model of ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle, a 20-ton cargo spacecraft designed to service and reboost the International Space Station. The ATV's Service Module has been shipped by Astrium from Bremen, Germany, to ESA's ESTEC Technical Center, in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, where it will be mated in December to the Cargo Carrier module delivered by Alenia Spazio in July. This integrated structural & thermal test model will undergo 11 months of acoustic, thermal and vibration testing. The manufacturing of the first flight model will begin in mid-2002 for a first mission to the ISS in 2004.
Editor's note: Each expendable ATV will be flown atop an Arianespace Ariane 5ESV launcher.
Europe and Canada Unpleased by Shrunk ISS Capability
November 7
ESA and the Canadian government have sent letters to the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and to the U.S. State Department to express their concerns about NASA's latest plans to keep the International Space Station within budget. According to the letters, these plans no longer comply with the U.S. obligations under the terms of the InterGovernmental Agreement signed in 1996 to govern the international partnership. ESA and Canada both consider that the cancellation of three modules, the delayed development of a Crew Return Vehicle and the reduction of the number of Space Shuttle flights to the orbital outpost will prevent ESA and Canada to perform significant science onboard the station. They urge the U.S. administration to reconsider this position.


Editor's note: ESA's share in the ISS program is planned to reach €8 billion over the whole program's life. Canada's own investment amounts to C$1.4 billion from 1984 to 2004.

Russian Soyuz Flights to ISS to Stop in 2005
November 7
Rosaviakosmos has announced that under the terms of its 1996 agreement with NASA and the other International Space Station partners, it will stop providing Soyuz flights to the orbital complex in January 2005. According to this InterGovernmental Agreement (IGA), Russia had to provide such flights for the first 50 months of manned occupation of the station, which began in November 2000. The Soyuz will remain available for Russian and commercial flights beyond that date.
Editor's note:
Due to NASA's decision to delay the development of a full-scale Crew Return Vehicle from the X-38 demonstrator, such a vehicle cannot be available before 2006 at the earliest.
Experts Say NASA Should Cut STS Flights to ISS
November 2

NASA should slow down its Space Shuttle launch schedule for the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station if it wants to stay within its planned US$8.3-billion budget for 2002-2006 according to the ISS Management & Cost Evaluation (IMCE) task force. In its report to NASA's Advisory Council, the group estimates that the projected budget is "not credible for the core complete baseline without radical reform" and concludes that one flight should be cut in 2003 and 2004 and two flights in 2005 and 2006, to stabilize the launch rate at only four missions per year. The report will be used by NASA to draft its budget recommendations for FY2003.
Editor's note: Under the latest available ISS assembly plan (Revision F, August 2000), 7 shuttle missions to the ISS are due in FY2002, 5 in FY2003, and 6 per year in FY2004-2006. At the proposed launch rate, the ISS assembly, with the current limited crew capabilities, could last through 2008.
Download the IMCE Report

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  Space Propulsion

Solid Booster Firing in Kourou
November 20

A modified Ariane 5 Solid Booster Stage was test fired by CNES in Kourou, French Guiana, on behalf of ESA's Ariane 5 R&T Accompaniement (ARTA-5) program in order to qualify upgrades and new sources for various materials and equipment. The 240-t motor delivered up to 6,850 kN of thrust for 125 seconds. Among the major test objectives were the qualification of a new nozzle with less elements - to reduce production costs and cycles - of a redesigned upper segment propellant load with 2.2 ton of additional propellant. The test also qualified Wecco as a U.S.-based secondary source for amonium perchlorate.
Editor's note: The redesigned propellant load, which will allow to loft 200 kg of additional payload to geosynchronous transfer orbit, had already been tested on a previous static firing test on May 16, 2000.

RBCC Test Stand in Stennis
November 19

NASA's Stennis Space Center is about to select a contractor to build a new test stand for Rocket-Based Combined Cycle (RBCC) engines. This facility will be available in early 2003.

Brazil Test VLS-1 Motor
November 9

Brazil's Aerospace Technical Center (CTA) has coducted a static firing test of the 7-t S-43 solid rocket motor used as the first and booster stages of the VLS-1 national launch system. The test, performed at CTA's Coronel Abner propellant plant, qualified modificationson the motor's propellant, thermal protection and liner. The third test flight of the VLS-1 is tentatively scheduled in the second half of 2002

Aestus Test Stand Qualified
November 10

Germany's DLR conducted the qualification vacuum test firing for a modified test bench in Lampoldshausen, Baden-Würtemberg. The P4.2 stand will be used to qualify the modified ignition sequence for the Astrium Aestus engine as part of Arianespace's recovery plan for its Ariane 5 launcher. The stand has been equipped with "damping" propellant tanks in order to test the engine with its actual flight propellant lines.
Editor's note: Some 70 Aestus ignition tests have already been conducted on the stand since August and prior to its modifications.

Cracks Found in SSME Turbopump
November 9

Small cracks have been reported on a valve in the liquid oxygen turbopump of a Boeing Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engine which flew in July 1999 on Space Shuttle Columbia. Although two similar turbopumps have been mounted on Space Shuttle Endeavour for a liftoff scheduled on November 30, NASA doesn't plan to delay the launch any further as preliminary analysis show that the cracks would have no effect on the engines performance.

X-43A Launch Mishap Investigation Continues
November 8


HSLV/X-43A
(OSC/NASA)

The NASA Mishap Investigation Board is continuing its investigation on the failure of the Orbital Sciences Hyper-X Launch Vehicle (HXLV) which doomed the flight of the first X-43A scramjet test vehicle on June 2. The vehicle, derived from the first stage of OSC's Pegasus launcher, is undergoing wind-tunnel testing at NASA's Langley Research Center. No single root cause for the failure has been identified yet and the board considers a more complex cause to be likely.
Editor's note: The Pegasus launch system remains grounded untill the completion of the investigation.
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