News of June 2002

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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  Commercial Launchers

Atlas 5 Slips Again
June 27

The maiden flight of Lockheed Martin's new Atlas 5 launch vehicle has been delayed from July 29 to August 6 in order to allow some series of tests to be re-run. The third "wet dress rehearsal", initially due for late June, has been delayed to July 15-17. The launcher's payload, Eutelsat's Hot Bird 6, was delivered in Cape Canaveral on June 12.

Belgian City Sponsors Ariane Flight
June 27

The next Ariane 5 vehicle, due for launch on July 5, was officially christened "Ville de Charleroi", to honor this Belgian city, home of Alcatel ETCA. The launch will be largely celebrated in the city as part of a major public relation operation organized by the Community of Ariane Cities, which brings together Arianespace, its industrial partners and the cities and regions where they are located in Europe and French Guiana. Such operations are expected to be conducted about once a year, each time to highlight a different city.

Proton Launch Postponed
June 22

The launch of a GKNPTs Khrunichev Proton K/DM3 vehicle, due to loft the Echostar 8 direct broadcasting satellite for Echostar Corp. on behalf of International Launch Services, has been scrubbed shortly before liftoff due to an unspecified anomaly on the Space Systems/Loral-built satellite. No date has been given yet for a second launch attempt.

SES-Americom Taps Arianespace/ILS for 4 Launches
June 18
SES-Americom announces that it has signed two launch contracts with Arianespace, to loft its AMC-13 and AMC-15 satellites on Ariane 5ECA vehicles, and two more with International Launch Services, to loft its AMC-10 and AMC-11 satellites atop the last two Atlas 2AS vehicles. AMC-13 (the former GE-2i) is a 4,900-kg Alcatel Space Spacebus 4000 carrying 60 C-band transponders. It will be launched in the second half of 2003 and located over the Pacific Ocean by 172°E. AMC-15 (the former GE-15) is a 4,200-kg hybrid Ku/Ka satellite designed to complement SES-Americom's direct broadcasting service at 105°W. It will be based ona Lockheed Martin A2100 bus and launched in the second half of 2004.
AMC-13 (Alcatel)

AMC-10 and AMC-11 (GE-10 and 11) are 2,120-kg A2100 satellites, each carrying 24 C-band transponders for the U.S. cable networks. They will be launched at 135°W and 131°W in 2004.
Editor's note: AMC-13 was previously manifested on an Atlas 5. ILS apparently moved two military payloads to Atlas 3 vehicles in order to free two Atlas 2AS for these commercial flights. According to SES-Global, these "new" contracts integrate elements of existing launch commitments. Arianespace already held two launch contracts with SES-Global with no assigned payload (one was initially contracted for Astra 1K, now manifested on a Proton K in August) while ILS backlog included at least three firm launches for SES-Americom with no assigned payload, one on Atlas (previously reported for AMC-13) and two on Proton. ILS also holds firm launch contracts for AMC-9 and AMC-12 on Proton vehicles.

Hot Bird 6 in Florida
June 17

Alcatel Space has delivered Eutelsat's Hot Bird 6 direct broadcasting satellite in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This 3,900-kg Spacebus 3000B3 spacecraft will be the maiden payload for Lockheed Martin's new Atlas 5 launch vehicle, currently due for launch on July 29.

Sea Launch Returns to Flight
June 15

A Zenit 3SL was successfully launched from the Odyssey off-shore platform, anchored by 154°West on the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, carrying PanAmSat's Galaxy 3C satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. This launch had initially been planned for July 2001 but was postponed for 11 months due to a failure epidemic which affected all Boeing Satellite Systems BSS-702 satellite's solar array concentrators. Galaxy 3C had to be modified with BSS-601-type solar arrays in order to prevent similar power loss. As BSS-702s form the bulk of Sea Launch's manifest, the Zenit 3SL has been grounded too since its last flight on May 8, 2001.
Editor's note: Upcoming Sea Launch flights will loft PanAmSat's Galaxy 8IR for Boeing Satellite Systems in August, Echostar 9 for Space Systems/Loral in October, and Galaxy 13/Horizons 1 for PanAmSat in December.

MBSAT Launch Goes to ILS
June 11

International Launch Services has sigend an agreement with Space Systems/Loral for the launch of its MBSAT mobile multimedia satellite on a Lockheed Martin Atlas 3 vehicle (presumably a 3A version) during the last quarter of 2003. This 3,600-kg satellite will be delivered in orbit to Japan's Mobile Broadcasting Corp. (MBC) to provide audio, video and data services to mobile users in Japan and South Korea.
Editor's note: This launch agreement is likely not a new contract but rather a firm payload assignement on one of the remaining two Atlas 3 launch contracts already signed by SS/L in 1996.

No Profit on Delta Launches Through 2005/2006
June 10

Boeing does not expect to make any profit on its Delta 4 launches until 2005/2006 when the new vehicle "should get acceptance by the market" according to Jim Albaugh, President of Boeing Space & Communications, quoted by Space News. Operations of the much more profitable Delta 2 is expected to continue through the end of the decade. Albaugh also considers that due to the current market conditions, the U.S. government should focus its launch contracts on only one of the two families of vehicles developed under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
Editor's note: Boeing's Delta 4 got 22 out of 29 EELV launch contracts awarded to date and is the only family to include an heavy-lift launch capability.

New Rules for U.S. Space Tranportation
June 3

The U.S. policy on space transportation and remote sensing, considered as wital for the U.S. national security and economy, will be revised circa February 2003 by the U.S. National Security Council. Proposals for rulemaking will be issued on October 31 for space imagery and on November 30 for space transportation.

Atlas 5 Slips
June 3

The maiden flight of Lockheed Martin's new Atlas 5 launch vehicle has slipped from July 8 to July 29. According to International Launch Services, the delay was dictated by a need to "coordinate the schedules" with the spacecraft manufacturer. The first Atlas 5 will loft Eutelsat's Hot Bird 6 satellite built by Alcatel Space.

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  Government Launchers

NKAU Asks for Funds
June 27

NKAU, Ukraine's national space agency is reportedly asking the Ukrainian parliament for a US$300-million budget for its third 5-year space plan. Under the second plan, NKAU's budget amounted only to US$15.5 million per year. The third plan would include continuous development of the Tsyklon 2K and Tsyklon 4 vehicles as well the Zenit 2M and the Dnepr M. For Earth observation, NKAU is developing the Sich 1M ocean observation satellite and the Sich 3 radar satellite. They would be complemented by a series of MS microsatellites. Other Ukrainian space projets include a series of experiments onboard the International Space Station and the study of the Lybid communication satellite.
Editor's note:
All of NKAU projects will be conducted with NPO Yuzhnoye as prime contractor. The new budget request does not include the US$100-million funding needed to develop the proposed Oril air-dropped launch vehicle.

Zenit 2
SAC issues Space Strategy Guidelines
June 26
The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology's (MEXT) Space Activity Commission has issued a report on "Goals and Japan's Approach to Space Activities" giving the main strategic directions for a scaled-down Japanese space program. In addition to an earlier postponement of the development of the GX (former J-2) medium-lift launch vehicle by the Galaxy Express private consortium led by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI), SAC confirms the need to reassess the design of heavy-lift versions of the H-2A launch vehicle by the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) with respect to actual market prospects. Moreover, SAC has decided that no further money will be made available for the M-5 launch vehicle, developed by the Institute for Space & Astronautical Sciences (ISAS).

Plans for reusable launch vehicle demonstrators have been put on hold until the end of the decade. SAC also considers the reinstatement of previously discontinued programs such has the Mission Demonstration Satellites (MDS) and the Unmanned Space Experiment Recovery System (USERS) space platforms.
Editor's note: NASDA and ISAS are due to merge in 2004. M-5 vehicles will be flown in the current configuration through 2005. IHI Aerospace Co., its prime contractor, plans to developed an" M-5 Lite" version for the commercial market.

H-2A, GX and M-5 (NASDA/ISAS)
ESA to Restructure European Space Transportation
June 13

European Space Agency's council has decided to form a working group of high-ranking delegates to prepare a series of proposals for the restructuring of Europe's space tranportation in order to ensure the continuity of an affordable European autonomous access to space despite the decrease of the commercial market. The working group will focus on the restructuring of the launch vehicle production industry with two primary contractors for each launch system, one for the vehicle and one for the stages. It will also evaluate options to guarantee a minimum institutional launch market for European launchers, for instance ESA could procure a batch of 15 Ariane 5 and 10 Vega launchers over 5 years for its own needs and those of European governments. These proposals will be presented to ESA's council for approval in December.
Editor's note: The primary contractors for Ariane 5 would be the future launcher company, dubbed "LICO", to be formed from EADS Launch Vehicles and Astrium's launcher activities, for the vehicle, and Snecma, for its propulsion system. Arianespace will remain prime contractor. For Vega, ELV SpA, the joint-venture of the Italian space agency ASI and FiatAvio, will be responsible for the vehicle and FiatAvio for its propulsion systems.

Atlas to Launch Mars Probe
June 11
NASA has awarded a contract to International Launch Services for the launch of its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probe atop an Atlas 3 vehicle (presumably a 3B version) in 2005. The contract is actually the first exercised intermediate-class launch service option on the NASA Launch Services (NLS) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract signed with Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services in June 2000. The 1,975-kg spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will have to be boosted onto an escape trajectory to Mars during a 21-day planetary window that extends from August 8 to August 28, 2005, for an arrival to Mars between March 3 and March 11, 2006. MRO will provide high-resolution imagery of the planet's surface and communications relay for the following missions through late 2010.

Editor's note: This will be the first launch of an interplanetary probe by an Atlas vehicle since the two Pioneer Venus missions in 1978. NASA has already awarded five medium-class launch service contracts to Boeing's Delta 2 under the NLS procurement. The competitors for this mission were Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5, and Boeing's Delta 3 and the Delta 4.

Boeing Selected for EELV Piggyback Launch System
June 7

The U.S. Space & Missile Systems Center has awarded a US$11.5-million contract to Boeing Services of Richardson, Texas, for the integration of Integrated Payload Stacks comprising an EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) and a set of up to six microsatellites to be flown piggyback on an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. This Multiple Space Vehicle (MLV-05) contract runs through January 2006.
Editor's note: The ESPA has been expected to be demonstrated in flight in 2003 on a Boeing Delta 4, carrying a U.S. Air Force Defense Satellite Communication Systems spacecraft as primary payload. It could also be used in 2004 to carry the three 20-kg Nanosat Constellation Trailblazer satellites under NASA's Space Technology 5 mission. Another flight is tentatively set for 2005, also on Delta 4, to carry the three TechSat 21 demonstration satellites and AeroAstro's STPSat 1.
Download the ESPA User's Guide (pdf, 1.36 Mb).

Boeing/MHI Discuss Cooperation
June 5

Boeing is reportedly holding talks with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries regarding cooperation on the development of engines and components for the H-2A launch vehicle. The Japanese government is expected to decide the transfer of the responsibility for the H-2A industrial production and operations from the National Space Development Agency of Japan to MHI in June.
Editor's note: Boeing and MHI are already partners in the H-2A and Delta 4 programs for the manufacturing of structural elements of the cryogenic upper stages for the two vehicles. Moreover, MHI is developing the MB-60 cryogenic engine with Boeing Rocketdyne.

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  Small Launchers

South Korean Microsat on Kosmos 3M
June 18

The South Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) has reportedly contracted with Russia's ZAO Puskoviye Uslugi for the launch of its 110-kg Uribiyol 4 (KaistSat 4) microsatellite piggyback on a Kosmos 3M flight in 2003.
Editor's note: The W10-billion (US$8-million) Uribiyol 4 had previously been expected to fly piggyback on an Indian PSLV or a European Ariane launch vehicle.

GX Development Delayed
June 18
The actual development of Japan's GX (former J-2) medium-lift launch vehicle by the Galaxy Express private consortium led by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) has been delayed by a subcommittee of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology's (MEXT) Space Activity Commission. The subcommittee approved the vehicle's design based on an Atlas first stage provided by Lockheed Martin and powered by a NPO Energomash RD-180 engine. However, it pointed out that the U.S. export control regulations prevent full technical assessment. The subcommittee recommended to continue the studies without starting actual development. The GX introduction, in 2006, is likely to slip.
Editor's note: The development of the GX 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), the MEXT, and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). 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%).

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  Missile Systems

U.S. Senate Keeps an Eye on Missile Defense Tests
June 27

Following U.S. Department of Defense's decision to classify technical information and results for missile defense interception test flights, the U.S. Senate is asking for "thorough" reports to Congress on each test in both classified and unclassified form. According to the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticism, particularly by the scientific community, has been helpful by forcing the Missile Defense Agency to adopt a more exhaustive and realistic test process.

DoD to Merge Space/Strategic Commands
June 25

The U.S. Department of Defense has proposed a plan to merge its Space Command and Strategic Command in order to consolidate its early warning and missile defense systems with its nuclear and conventional ballistic and airborne strike capacity. The new joint command will be based in Offutt AFB, Nebraska, home of the Strategic Command.

Boeing Rocketdyne Bets on Missile Defense Work
June 22

Boeing's Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power plans to expand its activities in missile defense to compensate for the lower than expected prospects in commercial launch systems, according to company officials. Rocketdyne reportedly operates at only 30% of its capacity in the production of engines for expendable launch vehicles. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has already contracted with Rocketdyne for the propulsion system of a Complementary Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (CEKV), under study by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Raytheon and Spectrum Astro to compete with the current EKV developped by Raytheon and GenCorp Aerojet. Maiden flight of the CEKV is due circa 2007/2008. Rocketdyne will also supply upper stage propulsion for the next-generation booster proposed for MDA's Ground-Based Missile Defense System (GMDS).
Editor's note: With the phasing out of Lockheed Martin's MA-5-powered Atlas 2 series of launchers, Rocketdyne's commercial products line is now limited to the RS-27 and RS-68 engines for Boeing's Delta 2 and Delta 4 vehicles respectively.

Silo Work Begins in Fort Greely
June 15

Work has begun on the first silos for the Ground-Based Missile Defense System (GMDS) in Fort Greely, Alaska, two days after the official expiration of the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty which prevented such activities. The launch facility, woth six initial silos, is expected to be completed by September 2004. It will then be used for for ground testing and training.

More M45 Missiles Ordered
June 15

France will extend the production of its M45 sea-launched ballistic missiles by one year. EADS Launch Vehicles, Snecma and Groupe SNPE will produce up to 16 additional missiles for the French strategic forces in order to bridge the gap with the introduction of the more modern M51 which may slip due to technical difficulties.

Russia Considers START-2 Treaty Obsolete
June 14

As a consequence of the United States' withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic MissileTreaty, Russia considers that the 2nd Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-2), signed in January 1993, has become obsolete too. This treaty, ratified by the U.S. Senate in January 1996 and by the Russian Duma in April 2000, was due to become effective in 2003. Russia now considers itself free to place multiple warheads on its Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles. The new Topol M missiles are reportedly designed to carry 3 warheads each. Their production could be reduced from 20 to 5/6 missiles per year, to accomodate the available warheads. Moreover, Russia could decide to keep some of its RS-20 (SS-18 "Satan") and RS-18 (SS-19 "Stiletto") ballistic missiles into active duty beyond late 2007, which was the deadline for their elimination under the START-2 regime.
Editor's note: The RS-20 is the basis for MKK Kosmotras Dnepr launch system while the RS-18 is the base vehicle for Eurockot's Rokot and NPO Mashinostroeniya's Strela launcher. Even if such missiles will not have to be destroyed before late 2007, they are unlikely to remain available for commercial use long after that date due to taechnical obsolescence.

Aries Intercepted
June 13

An Aries target vehicle launched from a test facility in Kauai, Hawaii, was successfully intercepted and destroyed by a SM-3 missile fired from U.S. Navy's USS Lake Erie in the Pacific.
Editor's note: The Aries target vehicle is based on the Gencorp Aerojet SR19 motor from the second stage of Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

ABM Treaty Expires
June 13

The Anti-Ballistic MissileTreaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union on May 26, 1972, has expired, six month after the announcement by U.S. president G. Walker Bush, of the United States' withdrawal, on December 13, 2001. The United States are now free to develop and test a full scale ballistic missile defense system and related tracking systems.

Peacekeeper Returns to Flight
June 3

An unarmed MX Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully launched from a silo in Vandenberg AFB, California, and delivered nine dummy warheads over the Kwajalein Missile Range, in the Marshall islands, some 7,700 km downrange. The US$71-million missile used in this "Glory Trip 31PA" test flight, conducted under the Force Development Evaluation program, was randomly selected among the 50 operational missiles deployed at Warren AFB, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to check the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM force. This launch originally was scheduled for May 15, but was delayed after the guidance system shut down a few days before.
Editor's note: On the previous such test flight, on July 27, 2001, the missile had to be destroyed in flight for an unspecified reason.

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  RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems

Japan to Reduce Contribution to ISS
June 23
Japan's National Space Development Agency plans to reduce its yearly contribution to the International Space Station program by one third to reflect the reduced capability of the international outpost due to NASA's plan to limit the size of its crew to 3 astronauts after the cancellation of the Habitat module and the Crew Return Vehicle. With a yearly budget limited to ¥40 billion (US$330 million), NASDA may have to cancel the logistics module of its Kibo Japanese Experiment Module and could terminate the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV) program of automated resupply ships. The Japan-built Centrifuge module could slip to 2010.

Editor's note: Japan had been expected to deliver 12 metric tons of goods and materials per year to support a crew of 7. With only 3 crew members onboard, only 6 tons will be needed. NASDA expected to be able to conduct an average 15.4 hours of science activities per week but this figure will drop to 2.6 hours a week with the currently limited crew capacity.

Cracks in Atlantis LH2 Line
June 21

Cracks have been detected in one of the three liquid hydrogen lines in the tail section of Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis. Three small cracks have been repotedly spotted in the main propulsion system flow liner. The line, which feeds one of the three Boeing Rocketdyne SSME engines, was not in danger of leaking according to NASA. Investigation is underway to determine whether the cracks result from a faulty manufacturing process and if it could cause contamination in the propellant line. Meanwhile, extra inspections have been ordered on Discovery but not on Columbia although it will fly on July 19, for the STS-107 mission.
Editor's note: Atlantis is currently due to fly on August 22 for the STS-112 mission.
Discovery is undergoing a maintenance period and will not fly before June 2003.

Phoenix Drop Tests Planned in Sweden
June 17

Astrium has selected the Swedish Space Corp. to conduct a series of atmospheric test flights of its Phoenix demonstrator at the Vidsel missile test range in Northern Sweden. The 6.9-m long, 1,200-kg subscale model of Astrium's proposed "Suborbital Hopper" design for a future two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle will have to demonstrate fully automated approach and landing system after being released at an altitude of 2.5 km by a Boeing Vertol CH-46 helicopter. The drop test are scheduled in March-April 2004 but their preparation will begin in August. SSC's Esrange Division will conduct the test campaign with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration's Testing Directorate (FMV) within their joint North European Aerospace Test (NEAT) range. SSC will provide the Phoenix carrier system.

Phoenix (Astrium)
More Tanks for NASA's Space Shuttle
June 15

NASA has awarded a 6-year extension, worth US$341 million, to its contract with Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems to build an additional 35 Super Lightweight External Tanks for the Space Shuttle. The tanks will be produced at a rate of at least 6 per year, instead of 8 for the previous series. This is the sixth production batch to be ordered and the first tank is due for delivery at NASA's Kennedy Space Center this year. The contract's overall value now amounts to US$1.15 billion.

FLPP May Start in December
June 13

A revised version of European Space Agency's Future Launcher Preparatory Program (FLPP) will be worked out and presented to ESA's council in December as part of the integrated proposal for the future European space transportation policy. The FLPP is expected to prepare technologies that will enable Europe to decide the development of a next generation space transportation system by 2007.
Editor's note: FLPP was withdrawn from the agenda of ESA's council meeting at ministerial level in November 2001.

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  Space Propulsion

NASA Seeks Hypersonic Intake Design for TBCC Engines
June 22

NASA's Glenn Research Center is consulting potential sources for technical assistance to develop an air intake for "third generation reusable launch vehicles" in conjunction with its Revolutionary Turbine Accelerator (RTA) project. GRC's Inlet Branch is currently developing air intake designs for single-stage-to-orbit and two-stage-to-orbit vehicle concepts powered by turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engines, as well as for the proposed X-43B research flight vehicle.

HyShot Failure Report Released
June 18

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its final report on the anomaly which caused the loss of University of Queensland's HyShot scramjet demonstrator after launch from the Woomera Rocket Range, Southern Australia, on October 30, 2001. The report pinpoints the failure of a fin assembly on the Terrier Orion suborbital rocket as the likely cause of the loss of control which led to the crash of the vehicle some 100 km downrange. Astrotech, the launch vehicle provider, had mounted Nike fins on the Terrier stage to ensure greater flight stability, but the fins were apparently damaged by high aerodynamic loads or by rocks ejected at liftoff. As a consequence vehicle assembly and pre-launch processes will be revised. A second flight is tentatively scheduled on July 29.
Editor's note: The experimental axisymetric scramjet, designed by UQ's Centre for Hypersonics, was due to operate at a velocity of up to Mach 7.6 between 35 km and 23 km of altitude, after reentry from an apogee of 350 km and before crashing into the ground some 370 km downrange. The HyShot program cost amounts to A$1.5 million (about €800,000).
Download the ATSB's Failure Report (pdf, 920 kb).

NASA's Plasma Research Under Review
June 5

NASA's Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory (ASPL), at the Johnson Space Center, was awarded US$600,000 to continue its activities through October. The ASPL ran out of budget by the end of May. This extension will allow to assess the results of the laboratory studies on a Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engine concept which could pave the way for future interplanetary spacecraft propulsion systems.
Editor's note: The VASIMR engine concept, under study with MSE Technology Applications Inc., would use three linked magnetic cells to turn liquid hydrogen into plasma, heat it and eject it to provide thrust. This propulsion system could power a manned ship to Mars by continuously accelerating during the first half of the trip then continuously decelerating during the second half to reduce the flight duration from 10 to less than 4 months.

VASIMR concept
NASA Funds Expected for RS-84 Development
June 5

Boeing Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power expects to receive an additional US$24 million under NASA's Space Launch Initiative to begin the actual development of its new RS-84 reusable hydrocarbon engine for future reusable booster stages. A prototype engine could be available by 2006. Boeing Rocketdyne has been designing this oxidizer-rich staged combustion engine under an initial US$34-million contract awarded by NASA on May 17, 2000 as part of the first phase of the SLI. The RS-84, which derives from earlier studies on reusable fly-back boosters for the Space Shuttle, will be able to deliver a thrust of more than 4,500 kN at sea level with a 100-mission lifetime.
Editor's note: Under the first phase of the SLI, Boeing Rocketdyne was awarded a US$62.7-million contract to inititate design and technology developments for the RS-84 and the RS-83 fuel-rich staged combustion cryogenic engine as well as for technology risk reduction studies on advanced turbopumps for rocket-based combined cycle engines.

Aerojet to Look After Minuteman Stages
June 3

U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center has awarded a US$9.3-million extension to a contract with Gencorp Aerojet for engineering and technical support regarding the maintenance and aging surveillance for the stockpiled SR19 motors from deactivated Minuteman 2 ballistic missiles through June 2009.
Editor's note: The Aerojet-built SR19 motors were used for the missile's second stage and are currently flown as first stage on the Coleman Aerospace Hera, Lockheed Martin Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) and Orbital Sciences Storm 2 vehicles and as second stage on all Minuteman 2 derivatives.

SR19 motors

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Vandenberg Wildfires Contained
June 20

Firefighters in Vandenberg AFB, California, have contained a wildfire that broke out on June 15 and consumed 31.5 The fire, the third largest in 30 years, did not endanger the launch facilities. No fatalities were reported.

ESA Clears Soyuz for Kourou Launches
June 13

European Space Agency's council has given its clearance for the installation of a new launch complex for Soyuz/ST vehicles within the Guiana Space Center in Kourou. A resolution, approved by the council, links Soyuz's access to Kourou to the cooperation of Russian industry and research centers with Europe on future space transportation systems including hydrocarbon engines, reusable propulsion systems and reusable stages. A framework agreement will be negotiated and possibly signed in late 2002. The Soyuz will be operated in Kourou by Arianespace. No budget was decided. If a funding can be found, the Soyuz launch complex could be ready mid-to-late 2005.
Editor's note: The project still needs official approval by the French government who owns the Guiana Space Center. The latest cost estimate for the proposed launch pad is €275 million.

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Four Compete for TRW take Over
June 25

In addition to Northrop Grumman, which has extended its US$6.68-million acquisition bid to June 28, three major aerospace groups are candidate for the take over of TRW Inc., according to the Wall Street Journal. The new bidders are General Dynamics, Raytheon and the U.S. unit of BAE Systems. TRW has already agreed to sell its aeronautical business (formerly Lucas Aerospace) to Goodrich for US$1.5 billion on June 18.
Editor's note: Northrop Grumman has been bidding for TRW since late February. Its initial hostile bid was worth US$5.9-million.

Astrium Restructures
June 18

Astrium is restructuring its activities effective July 1st in order to achieve greater integration of existing assets and better operational and financial performance. The new organisation includes four satellite business divisions (Military Communications Systems; Telecommunications Satellites; Earth Observation, Science and Navigation; and Equipment and Subsystems) in addition to the Space Infrastructure Division, which is linked to EADS Launch Vehicles through a cooperation agreement.
Editor's note: Astrium was formed in May 2000 with the merger of France's and Great-Britain's Matra Marconi Space (MMS) with Germany's Dornier Satellitensysteme (DSS) and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace's Raumfahrt Infrastruktur (DASA-RI) division. MMS was formed in 1990 by the merger of France's Matra Espace with Great-Britain's Marconi Space Systems. It took over British Aerospace Space Systems in 1994. Astrium currently owns facilities in France, Germany, Great-Britain and Spain.

BAe Plans to Leave Astrium
June 13

Great-Britain's BAe Systems Plc is still stuying the option to sell its share in Astrium, the European satellite manufacturer created in May 2000 by the merger of Matra Marconi Space and DaimlerChrystler Aerospace's space activities, according to French daily trade newspaper Les Echos. Its 25% stake could be sold to EADS which already owns the remaining 75%, depending on the current retsructuring of EADS space businesses and an evaluation of Astrium's assets. Astrium's internal restructuring is planned for July 1st and should lead to a staff decrease from 8,000 to about 6,800 employees.
Editor's note: BAe Systems' stake in Astrium come from Marconi's 49% stake in Matra Marconi Space, the joint-venture incorporated in 1990 by France's Matra Espace and Great-Britain's Marconi Space Systems. MMS later bought British Aerospace Space Systems in 1994. Matra was merged with Aerospatiale in June 1999 to form Aerospatiale-Matra, which merged with Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (DASA) and Spain's Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA) in July 2000 to form the European Aeronautic Defence & SpaceCo. (EADS), thus consolidating Matra's and DASA's stakes in Astrium.

SNPE to Resume Work in Toulouse Shortly
June 13

A clearance decision allowing France's Groupe SNPE to resume production of ammonium perchlorate and monomethyl-hydrazine for Ariane launchers at its Isochem facility in Toulouse is expected after the publication of a report by a local information committee, due in late June. Isochem was closed on September 21, 2001, following the explosion of the nearby AZF (Atofina) fertilizer production plant. SNPE could be allowed to resume its least dangerous chemical activities, excluding the use of highly toxic phosgen, for three years, until a new production facility is built, farther from the city of Toulouse or on another SNPE site in St Jean d'Illac, 20 km from Bordeaux.
Editor's note: To increase its strategic reserves, which would have been depleted by late 2002, Arianespace had to purchase a first batch of ammonium perchlorate from Williams Equipment & Controls Co. (Wecco), of South West Jordan, Utah, at a price 50% higher than that of SNPE. Moreover, the purchase was subject to export licensing by the U.S. State Department.

Wildfire Threatens Lockheed Martin Plant
June 13

Lockheed Martin Astronautics is reportedly reviewing fire emergency procedures as forest fires coming from the Rocky Mountains are nearing its facilities in Waterton, near Denver, where is located the integration line for the Atlas vehicles. Between four and six Atlas vehicles and one spare Titan are at Waterton, along with various spacecraft components. No propellant is stored in the facility. If evacuation is necessary, no attempt will be made to move the launchers, according to Lockheed Martin. The fire was 10 km southwest of the facility by late June 10. Some 40,000 residents of the southwestern Denver area, including those living near Roxborough State Park, next to the plant, have been told to prepare for an emergency evacuation.
Editor's note: In addition to the Atlas production line and the now closed Titan production line, Lockheed Martin Astronautics' facilities in Denver house the company's interplanetary probe and classified military satellite activities.
See maps of the wildfire progression (June 12, June 13, from Rocky Mountain News).

Russian Space Industry Consolidation Planned
June 11

The Russian government plans to consolidate the space and defense industry before 2006 with the creation of six large space "kontserns", according to Aerospace Daily. GKNPTs Khrunichev, (Proton and Angara boosters) will lead the State Corporation Khrunichev, incorporating 7 smaller companies. Nine companies in Korolev, near Moscow, will form the State Corporation for Aviation, Space & Rocket Instrument Building. Russia's main satellite manufacturer, NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki (NPO-PM), will become the Reshetnyov State Rocket & Space Corporation and take over most of the space companies in the Siberian region, possibly including AKO Polyot. Other kontserns will be led by RKK Energiya, NII Teplokhnoe Tekhnologiya (NII-TT), NPO Energomash and GRTsKB Makeyev. In addition, the Rocket & Space Defense Systems Kontsern will be formed with 12 companies in Moscow under the Russian Control Systems Agency. NPO Mashinostroeniya will become the Military Industrial Rocket Corporation Reutov-Albatross, and will concentrate on cruise missile systems.
Editor's note: Energiya will likely lead Russia' manned spaceflight effort while NII-TT, the manufacturer of Topol missiles and Start launchers, will presumably be in charge of solid propulsion and ground-based ballistic missiles, Energomash of liquid propulsion and Makeyev of sea-launched ballistic missiles. The Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress), which manufactures the Soyuz launchers, does not seem to be mentioned directly in this restructuring plan.

BAe Evaluates TRW Buy Out Too
June 10

The North American unit of Great-Britain's BAe Systems Plc has initited talks with TRW Inc. for the possible acquisition of some of its defense businesses.
Editor's note: TRW is already the target of an unsolicited US$6.7-billion takeover bid from Northrop Grumman Corp.

NASDA Suppliers Stop Production of Space Components
June 6

The National Space Development Agency of Japan ha notified the Space Activity Commission of Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT) that its suppliers have decided to close down the production line for 184 out of the 346 components qualified for space applications, like solar cells or gyroscopes, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The situation is worse for semiconductors with only 2 out of 122 components to be kept into production. These components are key for the manufacturing of Japan's launch vehicles and satellites. NEC, Toshiba, Hitachi and some others will no longer be able to provide these components on demand due to the uncertainty on the future of Japan's space program and the high maintenance cost of the production lines.
Editor's note: In the near future, NASDA will rely on stockpiled components until new qualified sources are identified, presumably in the U.S. or in Europe.

ISRO to Transfer Work to Industry
June 5

The Indian Space Resaerch Organisation is reportedly planning to transfer some of its programs to the industry to take benefit of an increasing space budget. Under a new Industrial Participation Policy, to be implemented as part of the 10th Plan (2002-2007), ISRO will increase its investment in industry to Rs 60 billion (US$1.2 billion), compared to Rs 29 billion (US$600 million) under the 9th Plan. Actually, ISRO plans to transfer the prime contractorship for some of their launch vehicle and satellite programs to the industry in the near future. Uder the 10th Plan, ISRO will conduct 36 space missions including 6 GSLV launches. After 2008, ISRO expects the industry to take up responsibility for all its production activities.
Editor's note: ISRO has over 500 industrial contractors and has already transferred 245 technologies to the industry for commercial exploitation. However, ISRO is still prime contractor for all its satellites and launch vehicles and provides about 30% of the PSLV and GSLV launchers production work.

Lockheed Martin/Loral Consider Satellite Joint-Venture
June 5

Lockheed Martin and Loral Space & Communications are studying the possible combination of their commercial satellite businesses (Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems and Space Systems/Loral) into a joint-venture in order to reduce costs and improve competitiveness to face increasing competition from Boeing Satellite Systems, according to the Wall Street Journal. This joint venture would be the 2nd satellite manufacturer in the world, after Boeing, and would be able to offer lower prices and to compete with European manufacturers more aggressively.
Editor's note: Lockheed Martin was recently rumored to be considering the sale of its commercial satellite unit. While Loral has been contracting with every launch provider in the world in recent years, Lockheed Martin has contracted only with its International Launch Services subsidiary.

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DMSP Contract Extended
June 28

U.S. Air Force's Space & Missile Systems Center has awarded a US$251.3-million ext