|News of March 2002|
Dates are those of the events (in UT) when available.
|Contraves Delivers Atlas 5 Fairing||
has delivered the first flight model of the 5.4-m-diameter payload fairing
it developed for Lockheed
Martin's Atlas 5 launch vehicle. This 3,725-kg first
flight unit, a 20.4-m-long "short" version, is due to fly
in 2003 on the first Atlas 5/500 series launcher.
|Astrium Delivers Last Spelda||
has delivered the 45th and last Spelda dual launch structure for Ariane 4
It will be stored until its use on one of the last Ariane 4 flights
in late 2002 or early 2003.
|Atlas 5 Completes First Wet Dress Rehearsal||
Martin successfully completed the first on-pad fueling test of its
new Atlas 5 launch vehicle in Cape
Canaveral's SLC-41. The 59-m-tall vehicle - actually the first flight
model (AV-001) with a dummy payload under its fairing - was rolled out
from the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to the pad on its mobile
launch platform on March 6. The five-day "Wet Dress Rehearsal"
(WDR#1) began on March 11 and included propellant loading of both
the Common Core Booster (RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen) and the
stretched Centaur upper stage (liquid hydrogen and oxygen). On
a normal flight, all operations would be conducted from rollout of the
VIF to launch in 11 hours.
Update: Two more WDRs are due before the actual maiden flight in late June or July.
|Khrunichev/Energiya Dispute Settled||
Proton K/DM3 launch campaign for the Intelsat 903
satellite has resumed in Baykonur after a meeting between top management
from RKK Energiya
and GKNPTs Khrunichev.
Energiya had stopped the preparation for the flight arguing that Khrunichev
was late on payments. All issues have been solved according to a RKK Energiya
Editor's note: RKK Energiya is expected to be the biggest looser in the ongoing restructuring of Russian space transportation. With the replacement of its Block DM stages by a Khrunichev-built Breeze stage on the Proton M and no role in the new Angara family of launchers, Energiya will no longer play any industrial role in the International Launch Services consortium and might even be considered a competitor since the Block DM will continue to fly on Sea Launch's Zenit 3SL.
Other Energiya's launch vehicle programs currently underway are the Polyot air-launched booster for Vozdushniy Start and the Aurora, a vehicle proposed for launch from Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, if sufficient funding can be raised to complete the Asia Pacific Space Center launch complex.
|Arianespace Tests ESC-A Stage Interface||
and CNES have begun
demonstrating interfaces and operational processes on Ariane 5's
new ESC-A cryogenic upper stage in Kourou.
A fueling model of the Astrium-built
stage, has been mounted atop a mock launch vehicle on the Ariane 5 mobile
launch table no.2, which has been equipped with cryogenic arms. By late
March, the composite will be rolled out to the ELA-3 launch pad for a
series of simulated countdowns with fueling tests, including chilldown
and on-pad propellant draining.
Editor's note: The first flight of an Ariane 5ECA, with the ESC-A upper stage, is scheduled in August. The ESC-A, which incorporates the liquid oxygen tank, thrust frame and Snecma HM-7B engine from the Ariane 4's H10-3 third stage, will carry 14 tons of cryogenic propellant. The Ariane 5ECA will have the capacity to loft 10 tons of payload to geostationary transfer orbit.
|Atlas 5 Wet Rehearsal Postponed||
technical glitches prevented Lockheed
Martin Astronautics from completing the first fueling test on its
new Atlas 5 launch vehicle. The test, known as a "wet
rehearsal", has been postponed to March 13. The vehicle used
for this test is actually the very first flight model of the Atlas 5
(AV-001, in 401 configuration) scheduled for launch in June-July.
Editor's note: This fueling test was previously set for February 28. Two more such rehearsals are planned before the actual launch campaign.
|Atlas 5 Rolled Out to Pad||
|Lockheed Martin's first Atlas 5 launch vehicle (AV-001) was rolled out to its launch pad in Cape Canaveral's SLC-41 on its mobile transporter. The fully assembled vehicle, with a dummy payload simulator, will undergo a fueling test, known as a "wet rehearsal", to demonstrate interfaces and operational processes. This rollout was delayed by two weeks in order to ease a busy schedule for Atlas launch teams with two flights on February 21 and March 8.|
|Energiya Halts Proton Launch Campaign||
|RKK Energiya is halting the launch campaign of a commercial Proton K/DM vehicle as GKNPTs Khrunichev, the launcher's prime, is reportedly late in payments for delivered Block DM upper stages. RKK Energiya's top manager has refused to approve fueling operations on the vehicle's Block DM3 upper stage. These fueling operations must be completed by March 16 in order to enable a launch on March 30. The payload for this flight is the Intelsat 903 communication satellite built by Space Systems/Loral for Intelsat.|
|Four Delta 3s Converted to Delta 2||
Expendable Launch Systems has concerted four of its Delta 3
vehicles under production into Delta 2 vehicles in 2001 according
to a Form 10-K filing by The
Boeing Co. to the U.S.
Securities & Exchange Commission. The conversion work was conducted
in order to mitigate some of the risk related to work in process inventory
and supplier commitments for the Delta 3 program. Additional opportunities
for conversions are under review. Boeing plans to phase out the Delta 3
in 2004, after the current inventory of nine vehicles is depleted.
Update: Boeing's Delta 2 launch manifest includes three Delta 2H vehicles which feature the same Alliant Techsystems GEM-46 strap-on boosters as the Delta 3. Moreover, both vehicles use the same first stage liquid oxygen tank and propulsion.
|Atlas 5 Maiden Flight Delayed||
first flight of Lockheed
Martin's new Atlas 5/401 launch vehicle (AV-001) has
been postponed from May 9 to mid-June
at the earliest and could even slip to July due to delays in the delivery
of its payload, Eutelsat's
Hot Bird 6, according to International
A firm launch date will be announced after the satellite, built by Alcatel
Space, has completed its thermal vacuum testing.
|Ariane 5 Returns to Flight, Lofts Envisat||
11th Ariane 5G was successfully launched from the Guiana
Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, and lofted European
Space Agency's €2.4-billion Envisat
polar platform onto Sun-synchronous orbit.
This mission, designated V145, had been postponed since October 2001
after a launch mishap on the 10th Ariane 5 launch on July
12, 2001. Arianespace
plans four more Ariane 5 flights in 2002, including the maiden flight
of the Ariane 5ECA upgraded version, in August, with the
ESC-A upper stage able to deliver 10 metric tons to geostationary
|Ariane 5/H-2A Backup for Government Missions||
CNES and the National
Space Development Agency of Japan, are discussing a possible mutual
backup launch capability for European and Japanese government missions
onbord their Ariane 5 and H-2A launch vehicles. Compatibility
between Europe's Ariane 4 and Japan's H-2 vehicles has
been discussed since 1993 and between Ariane 5 and the H-2A since
1999. NASDA's Large Scale Deployable Reflector Experiment (LDREX) payload,
initially due to fly atop the first H-2A, eventually flew on an Ariane 5G
in December 2000. Similarly,
the Ariane 5 is proposed as a backup vehicle for the launch of
Japan's MT-Sat 1R meteorology and air traffic control satellite
Ariane 5 and H-2A
|IHI/ISAS Consider M-5 Derivatives||
|IHI Aerospace and Japan's Institute of Space & Astronautical Science are considering the development of a new small satellite launch vehicle based on existing motors from the all-solid M-5 launch vehicle. The so-called "M-5 Lite" would be based on the second, third and fourth stages of the M-5. This design would allow to loft 500-kg payloads to elliptical low Earth orbits (300 x 600 km) for about US$13 million. Development cost would amount to US$35 million with a first launch in 2005/2006. About 10 small science satellites could be launched by the new vehicle on a yearly basis. According to Space News, ISAS would like IHI to develop and market the launcher on its own, on a commercial basis, without any government funding. IHI and ISAS are also reviewing plans to reduce the recurring cost of the M-5 by 35-50% over the next three years.||
to the economy of scale which could result from the introduction of
the M-5 Lite, other options include the replacement of the first stage,
based on the 71.5-ton, two-segment M-14 solid rocket motor, by
an improved version with a filament wound composite casing or by a 66-ton
monolithic SRB-A currently used as strap-on booster on the H-2A.
A redesigned M-34 third stage is also proposed.
|DARPA Selects Rascal Awardees||
Defense Advanced Projects Agency has reportedly selected six industrial
teams for study contracts worth US$1-2 million each regarding its
Access, Small Cargo & Affordable Launch
(Rascal) system, according to the NASA
Watch website. The awardees would be Coleman
Aerospace, Delta V (with Alliant
Techsystems, A-Squared and I-Squared), Northrop
Grumman (with Orbital
Sciences Corp.), Pioneer
Rocketplane (with HMX),
and Space Launch
Corp. (with Scaled
Composites). The objective is to design a two-stage vehicle able
to loft 75-kg payloads to low-Earth orbit for US$10,000/kg with short
notice. The concept must be based on a Recoverable Launch Vehicle
as booster stage and an Expendable Rocket Vehicle as upper stage.
|Winds Cause Rokot Postponement||
first operational launch of a Rokot KM vehicle on behalf of
Eurockot Launch Systems
GmbH is postponed from March 16 to March 17
due to high altitude winds over the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
Update: Launched successfully on March 17.
|DARPA to Award Rascal Contracts||
Defense Advanced Projects Agency is about to award study contracts
for the proposed Responsive Access, Small Cargo & Affordable
Launch (Rascal) system able to loft 75-kg of payload to low-Earth
orbit for US$750,000 with short notice. Up to five concepts could be
selected to compete for a US$70-million contract to build and fly the
demonstration vehicle by 2006.
|GX Development to Begin in April||
|Actual development of Japan's new GX ("Galaxy Express") medium-lift launch vehicle will begin in April, at the opening of Japan's new fiscal year with a targeted initial launch capability in early 2006. This development is estimated at ´57-63 billion (US$430-475 million), of which the Japanese government will provide one-third through the National Space Development Agency, the Ministries of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Galaxy Express, a venture led by GX prime contractor Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI), will be in charge of the program and of the marketing and operations of the new vehicle. Initial launches will be conducted from NASDA's Tanegashima Space Center but Galaxy Express is also considering the building of an equatorial launch site on Kiritimati Island, Kiribati, in the Pacific Ocean. This new launch site would require an investment of ´26.5-40 billion (US$200-300 million).||
note: The GX launcher, formerly known
as the J-2 or J-1U, will consist in a hydrocarbon first
stage based on a Lockheed
Martin Atlas tankage and powered by a Russian NK-33
engine provided by GenCorp
Aerojet. The upper stage will be fuelled by liquid methane and liquid
oxygen and powered by a new engine developed by IHI. In addition to IHI
(32.4%), the partners of the Galaxy Express venture are Kokusai
Sohko Kakubishi Co. (19.6%), IHI Aerospace Co. (the former Nissan
Aerospace, 14%), Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries Ltd. (14%), Kawasaki
Heavy Industries Ltd. (10%), Japan
Aviation Electronics Industry Ltd. (5%). and Fuji
Heavy Industries Ltd. (5%).
Warning: Kiritimati Island is also known as Christmas Island but should not be confused with Australia's Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, where the Asia Pacific Space Center plans to build a launch site for Russia's Aurora launch vehicle.
|Coleman to Study Large Target Launch Vehicles Too||
Army's Space & Missile Defense Center has awarded a 4-month,
US$0.6-million contract to Coleman
Research Corp., a subsidiary of L-3
Communications, to study the development of a new family of target
launch vehicles on behalf of the U.S. Missile
Defense Agency's Enhanced Target Delivery System (ETDS) program.
A similar contract with Lockheed
Martin Space Systems was announced on March 27.
|Northrop Grumman to Provide Trident 2 Support||
The U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs has exercised a series of options, worth US$52.5 million, on a contract with Northrop Grumman Marine Systems for launcher subsystem support on Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missile systems deployed onbord U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy submarines through June 2005.
|Lockheed Martin to Study Large Target Launch Vehicles||
Army's Space & Missile Defense Center has awarded a 4-month,
US$0.6-million contract to Lockheed
Martin Space Systems to study the development of a new family of
target launch vehicles on behalf of the U.S. Missile
Defense Agency's Enhanced Target Delivery System (ETDS) program.
ETDS vehicles will have to be able to launch larger and heavier target
payloads for future ballistic missile defense testing in order to address
more complex engagement scenarios, including launches from remote, unimproved
land-based sites, as well as from sea-based and air-based platforms.
The study will also focus on mission flexibility, decreased launch cycle
time, and "realistic emulation of current and projected threat
|Refurbished Minutemen on Duty||
ten Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles with refurbished
motors have been returned to operational status on March 15 in U.S.
Air Force's Malmstrom
AFB, Montana. The motors of their three main stages have been emptied
of their initial propellant load and cast with a new one under the Propulsion
Replacement Program (PRP). The remaining 490 missiles will undergo
a similar refurbishment through 2008. Total cost of the program is estimated
at US$2.4 billion. The PRP is led by TRW
with major contributions by Thiokol
Refurbished Minuteman 3
delivery (U.S. Air Force)
|Russia Considers Own Missile Defense||
The Russian government's Security Council discussed the possibility to develop a National Missile Defense system to match current U.S. efforts in this field. Funding for the Russian Control Systems Agency, in charge of the development of early warning systems, has reportedly been increased by 25%.
|Successful Missile Defense Test||
|The U.S. Missile Defense Agency landed its fourth success in six attempts to intercept a simulated incoming intercontinental ballistic missile on behalf of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System flight test program. The Integrated Flight Target 8 (IFT-8), consisting in a dummy warhead and three decoy balloons, was launched from Vandenberg AFB, California, by an Orbital Sciences Orbital/Suborbital Program Target Launch Vehicle (OSP/TLV), based on a refurbished Minuteman 2 ballistic missile. Some 20 minutes later, a Lockheed Martin Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV), based on the second and third stages of a decommissioned Minuteman 2, was launched from the Kwajalein Missile Range, Marshall Islands, carrying a Boeing-Raytheon Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). The EKV separated from the PLV more than 2,250 km ahead of its target and successfully intercepted the warhead 10-minutes after launch, at an altitude of about 225 km.|
|Editor's note: On the latest successful test, on July 15 and December 4, only one decoy balloon was released with the target warhead. Moreover the PLV was reportedly guided by a beacon onboard the target warhead but the EKV used its onboard sensors for the final interception, after successful discrimination between the warhead and the decoy. The development campaign includes another 18 test flights and is not expected to be completed before 2006 or 2007. Each test flight costs about US$100 million.|
|MDA Outlines Plans for GMDS Testbed||
U.S. Missile Defense
Agency (MDA) has released new details on its plans to develop a testbed
for its Ground-based
Midcourse Defense System (GMDS) in Ft. Greely, Alaska. The initial
testbed, available in 2004, will consist of five silos for ground based
interceptors with sparing command launch equipment. According
to Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of MDA, this initial facility would have
the capability to "stop an extremely limited missile strike from
upgrades will allow to support missile
tests in the boost and terminal phases. MDA's plans also includes upgrades
of the Kwajalein
Missile Range and other locations to enhance launch capabilities and
range safety to add new interception areas in order to "reduce
artificiality in testing and add realism to test scenarios such as multiple
engagements." The MDA also plans a US$13.9-million upgrade of the
Kodiak Launch Complex
at Narrow Cape, Kodiak Island, Alaska, for the GMDS test program.
Editor's note: The 2004 deadline for the implementation of a GMDS testbed in Ft. Greely is suspected to be dictated by political considerations as the current U.S. administration would like to set up an initial GMDs capability before the end of its mandate.
|TRW Gets Minuteman Warhead Contract Extension||
|TRW ICBM Systems was awarded an estimated US$169.7-million increase on a contract signed in 1998 with U.S. Air Force's Ogden Air Logistics Center to design and demonstrate safety enhanced reentry systems for Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The contract runs through September 2006. TRW will award subcontracts to Lockheed Martin Mission Systems (US$69.6 million) and to Boeing Space & Communications (US$35.6 million).|
|Report Pinpoints Problems on Early Missile Defense Test||
U.S. General Accounting
Office has issued a report about irregularities found in an early
flight test of the ground-based midcourse Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle's
sensors in June 1997. The report refutes initial statement by the
Missile Defense Organization (now the U.S.
Missile Defense Agency) that the Boeing
infrared sensor's performance and warhead discrimination were 'excellent'
during the IFT-1A test. According to GAO scientists, sensor overheating
severely limited the EKV's discrimination abilities. The report also claims
that contractors did not mention the gravity of these problems to government
Download GAO's report (pdf, 552 kb)
|Boeing/OSC to Develop Alternate Booster for MDA||
and Orbital Sciences
have been awarded new contracts to develop an alternate design for a silo-launched
ground-based interceptor vehicle due to boost the Exo-atmospheric Kill
Vehicles as part of the U.S. Missile Defense's Ground-based
Midcourse Defense System. As lead contractor for the overall missile
defense effort, Boeing was awarded a US$425-million contract by the U.S.
Missile Defense Agency to develop and test the second design, or Alternate
Booster Vehicle (ABV), before September 2007. Orbital Sciences
will act as primary subcontractor to Boeing under a US$400-million development
contract running through 2006. If the ABV design is eventually picked
up by Boeing, a US$535-million production, deployment and support contract
could follow with 70 vehicles to be built from 2003/2004 to 2010. Development
of the competing commercial off-the-shelf Ground-Based Interceptor
will be transfered to Lockheed
Martin Missiles & Space. The GBI was initially designed by Boeing
with motors provided by Alliant
TechSystems and Pratt&Whitney
Chemical Systems Division.
Editor's note: Orbital's ABV design is a three-stage booster based on its Pegasus and Taurus vehicles. It was selected by MDA in January. The GBI, which is 18-month behind schedule, failed on its second test flight on December 13, 2001.
|RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems|
|Pioneer to Study Mars Deceleration System||
|China Launches Shenzhou 3||
launched its third prototype Shenzhou spaceship atop a Chang
Zheng 2F (CZ-2F "Long March") vehicle. The
7.8-t spacecraft will orbit for several days at an altitude of 335 km
and an inclination of 42.4°, conducting a series of scientific experiments
before separating in three elements. The reentry capsule will return
to Earth while the service module will burn in the atmopshere. The orbital
section is expected to stay in orbit for up to six months. Unlike previous
Shenzhou flights, in November 1999 and January 2001,
Shenzhou 3 does not carry monkeys but an instrumented dummy "yuanghuang"
(astronaut) to prepare for future manned missions. If the Shenzhou 3
mission is successfully completed, a first manned mission could occur
in late 2003, after one or two more unmanned tests flights. Shenzhou 3
is reportedly carrying an unidentified piggyback microsatellite to be
released in flight.
|Cosmopolis 21 Suborbital Spaceplane Unveiled||
Suborbital Corp. and U.S. Space
Adventures Ltd. have unveiled their proposed Cosmopolis 21
(C-21) rocket-powered suborbital manned spaceplane designed to carry
"space tourists" to the edge of space. The 3.5-ton C-21 spaceplane
would be released by a Myasishchev M-55X "Geophysika" high altitude
research plane at an altitude of 20 km. It would then ignite its
solid propellant kick motor to reach a maximum altitude of 100 km,
providing about 3 minutes of microgravity conditions, before reentering
the atmosphere and landing on a conventional runway. The C-21, which
will need US$10 million to develop, is due to begin regular flights
by 2004-2005, with one pilot and two passengers. Total cost of the program
would reach US$70 million with two M-55X carrier aircraft and a
fleet of seven spaceplanes.
|Panel Warns NASA on Shuttle Safety, CRV||
Safety Advisory Panel has released its annual
report on NASA's
safety issues and concluded that greater efforts are needed in areas such
as space shuttle upgrades and the development of a Crew
Return Vehicle. According to the report, NASA lacks long-term
planning and is focused day-by-day survival of its manned space program.
This resulted in the postponement of upgrades in favor of the procurement
of additional spare parts to keep the shuttle orbiters flying in
their current configuration. The panel also warns that privatizing of
the space shuttle fleet would result in higher risks. Regarding the International
Space Station, the panel recommends to continue work on the X-38
demonstrator to enable the crew to expand from three to seven as the current
limited crew "will not be able to perform all the required tasks without
impacting crew health, safety, and/or performance."
Read The 2001 ASAP Report (pdf, 2 Mb)
|Astrium/Babakin Joint Venture to Market IRDT||
Lavochkin's Babakin Space Center have formed a joint-venture,
Return & Rescue Space Systems GmbH, to market the Inflatable Reentry
& Descent Technology (IRDT) developed by Babakin. Two IRDT
demonstrators were flown on the maiden flight of Starsem's Soyuz-Fregat
vehicle on February 9, 2000,
on behalf of the European Space Agency
and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (now part of Astrium). A second IRDT test
flight is due in June-July. Astrium holds 51% of the joint-venture and
Babakin 49%. IRDT systems could be used for low-cost return of payloads
from the International Space Station, on planetary missions or
for the recovery of upper stages.
Editor's note: Astrium was given exclusive rights on IRDT development and marketing by a MoU signed with Rosaviakosmos in June 2001. On the two IRDT demonstrators flown in 2000, only one was recovered after landing in a snowstorm in the Orenburg oblast. The innovative inflatable heatshield performed successfully but did not deploy to its full extent and the 110-kg spacecraft was damaged on impacting the ground.
|A larger model, to recover the 1,200-kg Fregat upper stage, could not be located after reentry. A third demonstrator was reportedly flown on a suborbital trajectory on July 20, 2001 with the Planetary Society's Cosmos solar sail demonstrator and lost in the failure of the RSM-50 Volna launch vehicle. The IRDT concept was initially developed for the surface probes of the Mars 1996 mission, lost at launch on November 1996 in the failure of the last Proton K/D vehicle.|
|Third Shenzhou Flight Imminent||
launch of China's third Shenzhou man-rated spaceship could occur
shortly according to Chinese state press sources. The prototype spaceship
is reportedly on its CZ-2F launcher on the launch pad in Jiuquan
Space Launch Center. The mission has been postponed from late 2001 due
to problems with "product quality." Shenzhou 3 will fly an improved life
support systems with an instrumented dummy astronaut ("yuhangyuan").
A CZ-2F vehicle was reportedly removed from the launch pad in late July
or early August 2001 and sent back to the assembly plant. In case of success,
the first manned flight could occur as soon as 2003 on the fourth or fifth
Editor's note: According to some source, the Shenzhou 3 flight will not occur before June. A second CZ-2F launch pad is reportedly under construction in Jiuquan and might indicate that China plans to conduct multiple launched and possibly orbital rendezvous missions in the near future.
|SpaceHab Contracted for Two More Missions||
|SpaceHab was awarded a US$42.4-million contract modification by NASA to fly its Logistics Single Module and Integrated Cargo Carrier for two more missions to the International Space Station, STS-116 (12A.1) and STS-118 (13A.1), in May and September 2003, respectively.|
|U.S. DoD Considers RLV R&D Initiative||
The U.S. Department of Defense is studying plans to launch a National Aerospace Initiative to consolidate its R&D efforts regarding hypersonic propulsion and advanced space launch systems, according to Space News. The 25-year effort would include flight demonstration of concepts and technology about every other year. Some US$30-40 million could be allocated to begin the activities in FY2003.
|Atlantis to Fly With Three SSME Bk2 Engines||
Space Shuttle Atlantis will be the first to fly with a complete
set of three upgraded Boeing
Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) for mission STS-110
on April 4. The SSME Bk 2
upgraded engines include an improved high-pressure liquid hydrogen turbopump
developed by Pratt&Whitney.
This new pump incorporates a cast housing without welds, an integral shaft/disk
with thin-wall blades and ceramic bearings. The upgrade is designed to
increase reliability of the engines. Atlantis has already flown with a
single SSME Bk2 in July 2001
as also did Endeavour in December
Editor's note: SSMEs have already undergone several upgrades to improve relaibility and performance. In 1995, the Block 1 upgrade introduced a redesigned liquid oxygen turbopump, a two-duct engine power head and a single-coil heat exchanger. In 1998, the Block 2A upgrade incorporated a larger-throat main combustion chamber.
|India Test Improved Solid Rocket Motor||
Space Research Organisation has successfully completed the second
and last firing test of an improved solid rocket motor for the third
stage of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in Sriharikota Range,
Uttar Pradesh. This motor, which features an optimized composite casing
and nozzle and an increased propellant loading, delivered up to 85 kN
of thrust (at sea level) for 112 seconds. It will be first used on the
PSLV-C4 mission, in late 2002, to increase the vehicle payload capacity
to geostationary transfer orbit by 70 kg.
|India Conducts Long Duration Cryogenic Engine Firing - Recent Update||
Indian Space Research Organisation
has successfully conducted the first long-duration hot firing test of
the indigenous cryogenic engine developed under the Cryogenic Upper
Stage Program (CUSP) at its Liquid
Propulsion Systems Centre in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The 75-kN engine,
turbopump-fed and regeneratively cooled, completed a 720-sec. burn. This
was the fifth firing test in the program. The first test, on February 9,
lasted a mere 10 seconds. It was followed by two 40-sec. burns and one
lasting 200 seconds. The CUSP engine is planned to fly on the third test
flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) in
Editor's note: The CUSP stage is due to replace the 12KRB cryogenic upper stage designed and supplied by Russia's GKNPTs Khrunichev. In flight, the CUSP engine will have to operate for 740 seconds.
The certification process requires a qualification for 1,400 seconds of combustion. The development program suffered a major delay after a failed firing attempt on February 16, 2000, which was aborted after 15 seconds due to due to a leak of helium from a punctured tube which prevented liquid hydrogen supply to the engine.
|Europe/Russia Cooperation on Methane Engine||
of seven European and Russian engine manufacturers will jointly study
and develop a large, reusable liquid oxygen/methane-fed engine, dubbed
Volga, for future European advanced space transportation systems.
A MoU was signed between France's Snecma
Moteurs, Germany's Astrium
GmbH, Sweden's Volvo
Aero and Belgium's Techspace
Aero, as well as NPO Energomash, KB KhimAvtomatiki and the Keldysh
research center from Russia. The partners plan to invest €20 million
in a preliminary 3-year definition phase, to identify operational requirements
and develop relevant technologies. Two more years will be needede to
develop an engine demonstrator. About €200 million will be
needed to complete the development and qualification of the engine.
The 4,000-kN Volga engine will be designed for up to 50 flights. Provided
that sufficient funding is raised for its development, it could be available
as soon as 2009.
|Test Mishap Confirmed on Atlas 5 Motor||
solid rocket motor developed by GenCorp
Aerojet to serve as strap-on booster for Lockheed
Martin's Atlas 5 series of launchers, failed during
a qualification firing on March 15 in Sacramento, California. This 95-sec.
hot firing test was the first of two qualification tests intended to
clear the way for the operational use of the motor. Some 30 sec. into
the test, a pressure drop was reported apparently due to a burnthrough
in the motor's nozzle. However, the test is claimed to have successfully
demonstrated cold temperature start-up (4°C) and a new inhibitor
designed to provide softer liftoff dynamics. According to Aerojet, the
mishap should not have any impact to the overall test schedule. A development
firing test of the motor was successfully performed on August 30,
flight of an Atlas 5 version with strap-on boosters is due in 2003.
|Historical Test Stand Renovated in Edwards||
Stand 1-D in Edwards
AFB, California, one of the largest rocket engine test stand in the
U.S., is being renovated on behalf of the U.S.
Air Force Research Laboratory. The 18-month, US$12.6-million effort
includes upgrading the stand, built in the 1960s for the Apollo program,
to current environmental requirements as well as modernizing its electrical,
plumbing and instrumentation systems. The upgraded test stand will be
suitable for of hot firing tests of liquid oxygen-kerosene fueled engines
delivering up to 6,500 kN of thrust.
Editor's note: This faciliity will presumably be used for firing tests of new hydrocarbon-fueled engines developed under NASA's Space Launch Initiative.
|Second Firing Test for Atlas 5 Booster||
Aerojet has conducted the second in a series of three horizontal
hot-firing tests of a new solid rocket motor designed to serve as a
strap-on booster for Lockheed
Martin Astronautics new Atlas 5 series of launchers.
The 18-m-tall motor, 155-cm in diameter, will be the largest monolithic
solid rocket motor ever flown with a launch mass of 40,825 kg.
Results of the 95-sec. test have not been released yet. The first firing
est was conducted in August 2001.
|TRW Gets Minuteman Motor Contract Extension||
ICBM Systems was awarded an estimated US$32.5-million modification
on a contract signed in 1998 with U.S.
Air Force's Ogden
Air Logistics Center to face cost increases in the the Propulsion
System Rocket Engine Life Extension Program for Minuteman 3
intercontinental ballistic missiles. These cost overruns are reportedly
resulting from some U.S. government facilities not being available and
an extended the development phase combined with a delayed production phase
due to funding shortfalls. The contract now runs through March 2012.
TRW will award a US$21-million subcontract to Atlantic
Editor's note:The Propulsion System Rocket Engine Life Extension Program is designed to refurbish the post-boost, liquid-propulsion stage of the Minuteman 3 missiles.
|Alliant to Provide ABV's Motors||
Techsystems announces that it will receive a US$300-million subcontract
by Orbital Sciences
Corp. to provide Orion solid rocket motors for the U.S.
Missile Defense Agency's Alternate Booster Vehicle. Orbital
was awarded an initial US$425-million contract by MDA on March 4
to develop the ABV.
Editor's note: Alliant is already providing its GEM-40 motor for the first stage of the commercial off-the-shelf Ground-Based Interceptor designed by Boeing and whose development has been transfered to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space. Alliant's Orion motors are flown on Orbital's Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur vehicles.
|Cosmos 1 Solar Sail Slips to September||
announces that the launch of its prototype solar sail, developed
under the Cosmos 1 project, has slipped to September. This postponement
was caused by many factors including delays in the production of solar
arrays due to heavy snowstorms in Central Russia, longer development
time to add redundancy, test mishaps and the need to replace the solar
sails which had been packed for too long before the launch. A formal
launch date will be set by late March.
|Tata Steel to Deliver GSLV Launch Platform||
Tata Steel will deliver a 750-ton mobile launch platform for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to the Indian Space Research Organisation, in Sriharikota Range, Tamil Nadu, later this month. The platform (19.2 x 19.2 x 8 m) features a special refractory lining for multiple use and cryogenic arms for on-pad fuelling of the upper stage. Under a Rs 140-million (US$3-million) contract, Tata Steel is due to build a second platform.
|Ukraine to Define Tsyklon 4 Launch Pad in Alcântara||
team of Ukrainian engineers will settle in Brazil's Alcântara
Launch Center in late March or early April in order to define
the exact location for a future launch pad for NPO
Yuzhnoye's new Tsyklon 4 launch vehicle. A joint-venture
of Yuzhnoye, with Brazilian and U.S. partners, will be incorporated in
the near future to market the vehicle. According to NKAU, the Ukrainian
space agency, five intergovernmental agreements are being worked on this
Editor's note:The Tsyklon 4 was initially planned to be developed under a partnership with FiatAvio but the Italian motorist is now focusing in priority on the development of the Vega small launch vehicle for ESA.
|Cost of Soyuz Pad in Kourou Revised||
|The cost of building a launch complex for Soyuz vehicles in Kourou has been revised from US$250 million to US$180 million, according to French aerospace weekly Air&Cosmos. If approved by ESA's council in June, the investment could be shared between Russia, ESA and European industry, each providing US$60 million.|
|Energiya and Khrunichev Lay Off||
RKK Energiya and GKNPTs Khrunichev are reportedly conducting significant cuts in their workforce due to unsufficient funding from the Russian government on national programs and Russia's involvement in the International Space Station.
|U.S. DoD Discourage Would-be TRW Bidders||
|The U.S. Department of Defense is said to have informally discouraged Boeing and Lockheed Martin from making a counter bid for TRW, citing anti-trust concerns. TRW is currently facing a hostile US$5.9-billion bid from Northrop Grumman. Rival bids have been expected from Boeing, General Dynamics, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin.|
|Lockheed Martin Avoids Strike||
|Lockheed Martin has reached tentative agreements with the local International Association of Machinists unions at its Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space facilities in Sunnyvale, California, thus avoiding a previously announced strike movement.|
|Lockheed Martin Workers Ready for Strike||
|Workers of several Lockheed Martin plants plan to go on strike on March 11 asking for better contracts, with improved wages, health insurances and pensions. Among the plants affected are Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space facilities in Sunnyvale, California, and multiple Lockheed Martin's facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida.|
|AKO Polyot on Strike||
of Omsk-based AKO
Polyot aircraft plant plan to go on strike on March 6 as they have
not been paid since November 2001. Polyot's space activities should
not be affected by the strike as workers of the space branch are reportdely
paid in due time.
Editor's note: AKO Polyot, which is in charge of assembly of Antonov An-70 carrier aircraft, is prime for the Kosmos 3M launch vehicles and in charge of integration for several series of NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki spacecraft like the Uragan satellites for the Glonass global navigation system and the Tsikada/Parus navigation satellites. Production of the Kosmos 3M was reportedly stopped in 1995 but some 10 vehicles are still in storage.
|TRW Rejects Northrop Grumman's Bid||
TRW's board voted unanimously
to reject Northrop
Grumman's unsolicited US$5.9-billion takeover bid, qualifying the
offer as "grossly undervalued." Northrop Grumman had issued
its proposal on February 21 with a deadline on
March 3. Northrop Grumman has announced that it will pursue its attempt
to takeover TRW through an hostile bid on the company.
Editor's note: While Northrop Grumman had proposed to buy TRW shares at US$47 each, the stocks had reached US$50.05 at New York Stock Exchange on March 1st. Some analysts expect other large aerospace companes like Boeing or Lockheed Martin to issue bids on TRW too.
|Mercury Probe Gets Go Ahead||
Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory has received NASA's
approval to begin manufacturing on the Mercury
Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (Messenger)
spacecraft after successful completion of the project's critical design
review. Actual integration of the spacecraft elements will begin in
|Boeing Sets Up Team for MUOS||
Space & Communications has set up an industrial team to compete
for U.S. Navy's Mobile
User Objective System (MUOS), a future military communication satellite
system designed to replace the current UHF Follow-On (UFO) series. The
Boeing-led team will include ViaSat,
Hughes Network Systems,
TRW Space & Electronics,
Harris Corp. and
International Corp. (SAIC). Two 14-month study contracts, worth
US$40-million each, will be awarded later this year in order to select
a prime contractor in late 2003. Initial operational capability for
the new system is expected in early 2008, with full capability by 2013.
|NPO-PM Begins Work on Vinasat||
Russia's NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki has reportedly begun work on Vietnam's first geostationary communication satellite. The US$197-million Vinasat will carry 28 transponders and will be launched in late 2004 atop a Proton vehicle. It will later be located by 132° East.
|European Ministers Unlock Galileo||
ministers of Transports of the European
Union have eventually approved their share of the funding for the
controversial €3.3-billion Galileo
global navigation satellite system. The ministers approved a €450-million
budget under the TransEuropean Network (TEN) program which will add
to another €100 million previously awarded by the Council
and to the €550 million awarded in November
2001 by the European
Space Agency. These funds will cover the €1.13-billion development
and validation phase of the program through late 2004. No funding has
been approved yet for the following €2.1-billion deployment phase
nor for the operations and replenishment of the constellation which
will cost an estimated €220 million per year.
|DLR Supports TerraSAR-X||
DLR aerospace research
center will invest €100 million in InfoTerra's
X-band synthetic aperture radar observation satellite. A contract will
be signed with Astrium
in April. Astrium will invest some €30-40 million of in-house
funds, to develop the ground segment. The 1,250-kg satellite, based
on Astrium's new AstroBus platform, is tentatively planned for launch
in late 2005 or 2006, presumably on a MKK
Kosmotras Dnepr launch vehicle.
|Boeing Reports Problems on TDRS-I||
Satellite Systems reports that its US$280-million TDRS-I tracking
& data relay Satellite, launched on March 8
atop a Lockheed Martin
Atlas 2AS, on behalf of NASA,
is experiencing pressurization problems with one of its four propellant
tanks. TDRS-I was launched onto a 247 x 29,135 km subsynchronous
transfer orbit with a 27.1° inclination. The problem was presumably
pinpointed after two initial burns, on March 11 and 13, first to raised
the perigee to 433 km then the apogee to geostationary altitude.
A further burn was performed on March 19, raising the perigee to
3,521 km and lowering the inclination to 21.4°.
|Alcatel/Arianespace Take Stake in Agrani||
Space and Arianespace
have signed an agreement with Essel Group's Agrani
Satellite Services Ltd. to support the development and launch of
the Agrani 2 satellite. Alcatel will invest US$15 million
for a 9.75% stake and Arianespace US$5 million for 3.25%. A formal
contract is expected to be signed shortly between Agrani and Alcatel
Space for a turnkey delivery. The Agrani 2 satellite is planned
for launch atop an Arianespace Ariane 5 vehicle in late
2003. Total cost of the Agrani 2 project is estimated at Rs 11.5 billion
|Pakistan Announces Communication Satellite||
claims that its first communication satellite
will be launched by year end. An announcement was made by the country's
federal minister for Science & Technology, Dr. Atta ur Rehman, who
added that a contract will be signed within 6 weeks. The satellite
will feature C, Ku and Ka-band capacity and located by 38° East.
|NASA Selects Technologies for ST-7 Mission||
has selected Stanford
University and Busek
Co. to provide the Disturbance Reduction System technology for its
Space Technology 7 mission to be flown in 2006. Stanford University
will provide a highly sensitive gravitational reference sensor that will
measure the position of a spacecraft with respect to an internal free-floating
mass in a pure vaccum environment. Busek will provide a set of miniature
ion thrusters to control the spacecraft's position with extremely
fine precision. The US$62.6-million ST-7 mission will be flown under NASA's
New Millennium program
in order to demonstrate this technology for future science missions such
as a spacecraft designed to detect gravitational waves.
Editor's note: This concept of using a free-floatting mass inside the satellite to compensate atmospheric drag was first tested in 1972 with the Triad mission.
|European Leaders Push Again for Galileo||
their meeting in Barcelona, heads of governments from European
15 member countries reaffirmed their support to the €3.3-billion
global navigation satellite system.
A final funding decision on the first phase of the program is expected
on March 25-26, at a meeting of European transport ministers.
Editor's note:For the first phase of the program, the European Union is expected to fund a €450-million budget to complement the €528-million investment already agreed by the European Space Agency in November 2001.
|DARPA Taps Boeing for Orbital Express Phase 2||
U.S. Defense Advanced
Projects Agency has selected the team led by Boeing
Phantom Works for the second phase of the Orbital
Express satellite servicing technology demonstration program.
The team was awarded a US$99.1-million increment to its previous study
contract and will invest US$13.4 million on its own in the program.
This 42-month phase will include development of a prototype servicing
satellite, the Autonomous
Space Transport Robotic Operations (ASTRO) satellite, and a target
serviceable satellite, NextSat. The two will be flown onto orbit in 2005
to demonstrate the feasibility and utility of autonomous, robotic on-orbit
satellite servicing, using a standard, non-proprietary servicing interface.
Editor's note: Boeing's team includes Ball Aerospace & Technology, TRW Space & Technology, MD Robotics and Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. The other teams were led by Sanders and by Spectrum Astro.
|NASA Prepares Mars Scout AO||
of Space Science plans to issue an announcement of opportunity (AO)
in April for its proposed Mars
Scout missions. The Mars Scouts will be small science missions to
Mars orbit or surface intended to complement the major, strategic Mars
missions planned under NASA's Mars
Exploration Program (MEP) as well as by other non-U.S. space agencies.
Selection of missions is planned for late 2002 with a first flight opportunity
Editor's note: Mars Scout probes will be launched as auxiliary payloads on commercial flights to geostationary orbit and will use onboard propulsion systems to reach Mars.
|Alcatel Loses Two, Wins One SES Satellites||
Global has cancelled orders for two satellites from Alcatel
Space and awarded the French satellite manufacturer a contract for
one new spacecraft. The cancelled orders were for the AMC-22 and AMC-23
satellites ordered for SES
Americom in 2000 as GE-3i and GE-4i. The new satellite, based on the
Spacebus 4000 bus, will weigh 4,850 kg at launch and carry 60
Editor's note: SES Global denied an earlier report that the new satellite will be designated AMC-23 again.
|Astrolink Contracts Terminated||
contracts to build and launch the Astrolink satellites have been terminated
in Q4 2001 according to a Form 10-K filing by Lockheed Martin Corp.
to the U.S. Securities &
Exchange Commission. Lockheed
Martin Commercial Space had been contracted to build four Advanced
A2100 type satellites and International
Launch Services was due to provide two Atlas and two Proton
Update: Astrolink International LLC, owned 31% by Lockheed Martin, failed to raise more than US$1.3 billion out of the US$3.7 billion it need to complete the constellation. The initial investors, Lockheed Martin, TRW, Telespazio and Liberty Media, reportedly gave up in October 2001.
|SBIRS-Low Restructuring Plan Due in April||
Missile Defense Agency is expected to issue a restructuring plan
for the low-Earth orbit segment of the Space-Based InfraRed Satellite
(SBIRS-Low) system in April. U.S.
Department of Defense's proposed budget for FY2003 delayed the program
by two years.
|U.S. Navy to Issue RfP for MUOS||
The U.S. Navy is about to release a RfP for the design and development of its future Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). Two 14-month study contracts, worth US$40-million each, will be awarded later this year in order to select a prime contractor in late 2003. The new system will have to be fully deployed before 2013 as the U.S. Navy plans not to order any further satellite beyond UFO-11.
|WildBlue on Hold||
Systems/Loral has suspended all activities on the two WildBlue broadband
communication satellites while WildBlue
Communications investors are looking for additional funding according
to Space News.
The venture, backed by
already secured US$440 million, but needs another US$400 million
to resume its activities.
|Shin Gets Ex-Im Bank Loan for iPStar||
The U.S. Export-Import Bank has eventually approved a US$250-million loan to Thailand's Shin Satellite in order to support its iPStar satellite program despite protests by competing U.S. and European operators, namely Hughes Network Systems (leader of the SpaceWay program), PanAmSat and New Skies Satellites. The spacecraft is being manufactured by Space Systems/Loral and should be completed by December 2003 and ready for launch in 2004, on a launcher yet to be selected.
|Agencies and Governments|
|Japan's Space Budget to Decrease in FY2002||
|Japan plans to spend J¥267.5 billion (€2.33 billion) in space for FY2002, due to begin on April 1st, a 5.2% decrease compared to FY2001. J¥29.9 billion (€260 million) will be devoted to space transportation. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT) will provide J¥164 billion (€1.43 billion), mostly to fund the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). NASDA's budget will amount to J¥144.7 billion (€1.26 billion), including J¥11 billion (€96 million) for the H-2A launch vehicle and J¥2.6 billion (€23 million) for the Hope-X unmanned spaceplane demonstrator program. Meanwhile, ISAS will receive J¥18 billion (€157 million), including J¥2.1 billion (€18 million) for the M-5 launch vehicle.||
Ministry of Economy,
Trade & Industry (METI) will get J¥11.9 billion (€104 million)
for space activities, with J¥2.5 billion (€22 million)
to be spent on the Unmanned
Space Experiment Recovery System (USERS) and J¥2.37 billion
(€21 million) to be invested in R&D efforts to support the
design of space transportation systems. The Cabinet
Office will invest J¥67.7 billion (€589 million),
mostly to support its Information Gathering Satellite program of military
observation satellites. The Ministry
of Land, Infrastructure & Transport (MoLIT) will get J¥19.6 billion
(€170 million), of which J¥11.7 billion (€101 million)
will be spent to support the MT-Sat 1R satellite for meteorology
and air traffic control. Other ministries involved in the space budget
are the Ministry
of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts & Telecommunications
(Sômushô, J¥3.6 billion, €31 million),
of Agriculture, Forests and Fishing (MAFF, J¥539 million,
€4.7 million), and the Ministry
of Environment (MoE, J¥250 million, €2.2 million).
Editor's note: USERS is due for launch onto low earth orbit in August on the third H-2A, together with a geostationary data relay satellite. Two IGS satellites are slated for launch atop an H-2A vehicle in early 2003. MT-Sat 1R is due for launch on a H-2A vehicle in 3Q 2003 with an Arianespace Ariane 5 booked as a back-up launch option. MT-Sat 1R will replace MT-Sat 1 which was lost at launch on November 15, 1999, on the failure of the last H-2 vehicle.
|European Satellite Operators Form Association||
Nine European satellite operators have decided to form the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) in order to present the interests of their sector before key European organizations including the European Union's bodies and the European Space Agency. The ESOA members are Europe*Star, Eutelsat, Hispasat, Inmarsat Ventures, New Skies Satellites, Nordic Satellit AB, SES Global, Telenor and Telespazio.
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