News of January 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

First Atlas 5 Moved to Integration Facility
January 29

Lockheed Martin‘s first Atlas 5 Common Core Booster stage will be moved to the 90-m-high Vertical Integration Facility next to the SLC-41 launch complex in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on February 4. There it will be erected on a mobile launch table. It will be mated with its stretched Centaur upper stage two days later in preparation for the vehicle’s maiden flight on May 9. A power-up "launch verification readiness test" is scheduled on February 11. A transfer to the pad is planned on February 25, with a dummy payload under the fairing for a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR): three days of fueling test and countdown demonstrations. Two more WDRs are due on March 26 and April 10.
Editor’s note: The CCB and the Centaur stages have already been mated in the VIF in October 2001 for a demonstration of ground handling equipment before being unstacked and stored in the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center to receive their flight avionics.

Atlas 5/401
First Delta 4 Takes Shape
January 28

The two stages of Boeing‘s first Delta 4 vehicle have been mated together at SLC-37 processing facilities in Cape Canaveral. The 40-m-long, 5-m-diameter Common Booster Core stage and the cryogenic upper stage were assembled horizontally. Roll-out is due in mid-February. Two Alliant Techsystems GEM-60 strap-on boosters will be added on the pad. The vehicle is currently due for launch on July 15.

Ariane 5 Moves Toward Flight Resumption
January 25
Arianespace‘s Ariane 5G is about to resume flights with the launch of ESA‘s 8,200-kg Envisat polar platform on March 1st (February 28 at Kourou time). On January 19, the Aestus engine due to power the vehicle’s upper stage has successfully completed a series of 10 acceptance tests at DLR‘s test center in Lampoldshausen, Germany. The engine was transferred to Astrium‘s facilities in Bremen, for integration on the EPS stage which will be shipped to French Guiana on February 1st. There it will be mated on the launcher which has been erected in October 2001. Meanwhile, qualification testing of the revised ignition sequence is continuing in Lampoldshausen with two more engines.
Editor’s note: The Ariane 5G launcher has been grounded since July 13 when a faulty ignition of the Aestus engine caused a 20% loss in performance and an early propellant depletion resulting in an injection with a lower-than-planned apogee.


One of the two payloads, Orbital Sciences‘ BSAT-2b, was considered lost as its solid apogee kick motor could not perform the necessary maneuvers to reach geostationary orbit. ESA’s Artemis is using its experimental ion thrusters to compensate and will reach geostationary orbit by mid-year.

U.S. Government Aid Asked for Delta 4/Atlas 5
January 25
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are jointly seeking substantial financial support from the U.S. administration according to the Wall Street Journal. Several hundreds of millions of dollars are reportedly needed to ensure that both Boeing’s Delta 4 and Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 families of launchers will be available for government missions on behalf of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program despite the dramatic drop in commercial launch prospects. A plan has been drafted to provide both EELV contractors extra revenue for unspecified quality-control, enhanced-engineering and additional “mission reliability” tasks. Moreover, some early EELV launch coantracts awarded to Boeing could be transfered to Lockheed Martin to compensate an initial imbalance between the two. For next procurements, U.S. Air Force would try to keep a balance between the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 launch orders.   
Delta 4 and Atlas 5
(Boeing/Lockheed Martin)

The U.S. Department of Defense is worried that the dearth of commercial orders could prompt one of the companies to cut investment before the vehicle can reach full operational status. Both vehicles are due to have their first launches in 2002, but, according to defense officials, it will take several years for each system to demonstrate reliability.
Editor’s note: Boeing and Lockheed Martin were each awarded a US$500-million development contract for its own vehicle in October 1998. In addition, Boeing was awarded 18 launch contracts totalling US$1,377.9 million in value and Lockheed Martin another 9 worth US$649 million. Boeing later received two of Lockheed Martin’s launch contracts and was awarded a US$141-million contract for an additional demonstration launch of its heavy-lift version. Boeing reportedly invested US$1.5 billion of its own funds to complete the development while Lockheed Martin has spent US$750 million of in-house funds in its design and does not expect any payback until "beyond 2010."

Boeing to Phase Out Delta 3 in 2004
January 23

Boeing plans to phase out its ill-fated Delta 3 launcher as soon as the current inventory is flown. Nine vehicles are reportedly available, seven of which have firm assigned payloads, all of them under a bulk contract by Boeing Satellite Systems. Two launches are due in 2003, to fly a GOES meteorology satellite for NASA and an ICO mobile broadband communication satellite for ICO Global. Another GOES and four more ICOs are on the manifest for 2004.
Editor’s note: Remaining Delta 3 launch contracts by Boeing Satellite Systems and Space Systems/Loral are assumed to have been turned into Delta 4 launch contracts or cancelled.

15 Proton Launches in 2002
January 17

GKNPTs Khrunichev announces that it will conduct 15 launches of its Proton vehicle in 2002 instead of 12 has initially planned. The three new additional missions are two commercial launches postponed from 2001, for the launch of the Intelsat 903 and DirecTV-5 satellites, and an additional military mission for the Russian ministry of Defense.
Editor’s note: Khrunichev’s figure doesn’t match Rosaviakosmos announcement of 10 flights of Proton from Baykonur (13 flights assuming that all remaining military missions will also fly on Proton).

Intelsat Contracts with Boeing, ILS
January 15
The newly privatized Intelsat has officially awarded two launch contracts, one with Boeing Launch Services and the other with International Launch Services, to loft its next generation of satellites, the Astrium-built Intelsat 10, during the second and third quarters of 2003. The two 5.7-ton Eurostar 3000 satellites will fly atop an upgraded version of the Zenit 3SL provided by Sea Launch Co., and a GKNPTs Khrunichev Proton M/Breeze M.
Editor’s note: Boeing claims to have actually signed its launch contract on December 12, 2001, while ILS’s contract is reportedly the first of 2002. Industry sources report that Sea Launch’s bid was below US$60-million, i.e. well below the quoted price of the Zenit 3SL vehicle (US$80-85 million).
Proton M and Zenit 3SL
(ILS/Sea Launch)

The current demonstrated payload capacity of the Zenit 3SL to geostationary transfer orbit is 5,250 kg but Sea Launch claims to be able to increase it by 14% within one year by some minor modifications such as the removal of some equipment and the increase of the second stage’s RD-120 engine’s thrust.
The Proton M/Breeze M Combination was initially selected by Intelsat to loft its Intelsat 901 satellite in 1997. Delays in the vehicle development forced to move the satellite to an Arianespace Ariane 4 launch and revise the contract for the launch of Intelsat 903 atop a standard Proton K/DM3. The Proton M/Breeze M was tested once, in April 2001. A second qualification flight is due in 2002. It is the first time since the Intelsat 5 series in the late 70s that Intelsat backs off from its conservative policy of selecting only flight-proven launch systems.

Delta 4’s Maiden Flight Delayed
January 7

Boeing Launch Systems has reportedly delayed the first flight of its Delta 4 launch vehicle from late April to mid-July upon request from its customer Eutelsat.
Editor’s note: The payload for this maiden flight will be the original W1 satellite which was damaged during testing in Alcatel Space‘s facilities in Cannes, France, in June 1998.

Insat 3C Launch Slips
January 7

Arianespace‘s first launch of the year, an Ariane 42L due to loft Indian Space Research Organisation‘s Insat 3C communication satellite, has been postponed by one week, from January 16 to January 23 to allow final checks on the payload.
Editor’s note: Insat 3C was initially due for launch in September 2001 atop an Ariane 5G but the launch was delayed and the launcher was replaced by an Ariane 4 after the performance shortfall on the 10th Ariane 5 launch on July 13. Insat 3C’s planned co-passenger, Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird 2, was successfully launched by an Ariane 44L on September 25.

Arianespace Announces its Objectives for 2002
January 7

Arianespace plans to conduct 12 to 14 launches in 2002 in order to loft 17 to 19 satellites. Five flights of Ariane 5 are scheduled, beginning with the launch of European Space Agency‘s Envisat in late February. The European space launch provider will post losses worth about €50 million for 2001, against €242 million for 2000. The company plans to get out of the red in 2002. The losses were mainly due to the delays and extra costs induced by Ariane 5’s launch mishap in July. With only 8 launches for 11 satellites, sales have reached a mere €800 million, compared to €1,108 million for the previous year.
Editor’s note: Nine Ariane 4 vehicles are still available and could be all launched in 2002 if all the satellites are delivered timely.

Arianespace Unveils Two Contracts Signed in 2001
January 7

Arianespace has unveiled two final launch contracts signed in 2001, one with Orbital Sciences Corp., to loft the BSAT-2c digital broadcasting satellite for Japan’s B-SAT, and one with Europe’s Eutelsat to launch its Hot Bird 7 direct broadcasting satellite. BSAT-2c is tentatively set for launch in early 2003 while Hot Bird 7 is planned for launch in the third quarter of 2002. In all, Arianespace has signed 13 launch contracts in 2001, including 10 for commercial customers, two for the European Space Agency and one for Délégation Générale pour l’Armement, the French ministry of Defense’s procurement agency, on behalf of Alcatel Space. Its backlog now includes 51 firm launch contracts including 9 to loft Automated Transfer Vehicles on servicing and reboost missions to the International Space Station.
Editor’s note: BSAT-2c is a replacement for the BSAT-2b which was stranded in a low geostationary transfer orbit by the lack of performance of an Ariane 5G vehicle on July 13, 2001. Arianespace claims to have signed launch contracts with Eutelsat for both the Hot Bird 6 and 7 satellites although Hot Bird 6 has also been announced by International Launch Services as the planned payload for the maiden flight of Lockheed Martin‘s Atlas 5 launcher.

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  Government Launchers

DMSP Satellite Delayed Again
January 23

U.S. Air Force‘s latest Lockheed Martin-built Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft, which has been postponed continuously since two failed launch attempts on January 20 and 21, 2001, is now facing further delay after its onboard propulsion system failed during pre-launch leak testing on January 16. A leak was pinpointed on a valve on an hydrazine thruster. The launch, expected on February 1st from Vandenberg AFB, California, atop a refurbished Titan 2 ballistic missile, has been postponed to February 13 at the earliest.

Second Flight of H-2A Slips
January 15

Japan’s National Space Development Agency has decided to delay the second qualification flight of its H-2A launch vehicle from January 31 to February 3 as adverse weather forced to postpone a pre-launch engine performance test.
Editor’s note: The H-2A flew flawlessly on August 29, 2001, in a standard 202 configuration (2 SRB-A solid strap-on boosters) with a single 4S fairing. On its second flight, the vehicle will feature an improved 2024 configuration (2 SRB-A and 4 Castor 4A-XL SSB strap-on boosters) and a 4/4D-LC dual launch fairing combination.

Boeing Authorized to Procure UFO-11 Launch
January 2

Boeing Satellite Systems has received a contract modification by the U.S. Navy authorizing the procurement of launch services for its UFO-11 military communication satellite. The satellite will be flown atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B vehicle in late 2003 under a launch contract signed in March 2001 with International Launch Services.
Editor’s note: Although a firm launch contract with ILS was announced on March 27, 2001, it appears that this was only an option which was formally exercised as soon as the contract modification was notified.

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  Small Launchers

Ukraine-Brazil Agreement on Tsyklon 4
January 9
A memorandum of unterstanding on space cooperation between Ukraine and Brazil will be signed during a trip by Brazilian president Fernando Enrique Cardoso to Ukraine on January 16-17. The MoU will cover cooperation between the National Space Agency of Ukraine (NKAU) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB). Also discussed wikll be the resumption of negotiations regarding the commercial launch operations of NPO Yuzhnoye’s Tsyklon 4 vehicle from the Alcântara Launch Center.

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  Missile Systems

Missile Defense’s Cost Increasing
January 31
The United States would need to spend between US$23 billion and US$64 billion through 2015 to develop and build its proposed ground-based and sea-based missile defense systems according to a report issued by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment (GMDS) alone, with a single site in Alaska and 100 deployed Ground-Based Interceptors would cost US$23-25 billion through 2015. The yearly budget to operate the system would amount to US$600 million. Adding a second site, with 125 more GBIs and the lower segment of the Space Based InfraRed System (SBIRS-Low) constellation to improve accuracy, would raise costs to US$51-58 billion by 2015. That system would cost about US$1.2 billion a year to operate. With a third site and a total of 375 GBIs deployed, the cost would reach US$64 billion with a yearly operating cost of US$1.4 billion. These latest estimates for the ground-based missile defense system are 13 to 26% higher than the previous estimates released in April 2000. A proposed constellation of 24 space-based high-energy laser satellites, also under preliminary study by the U.S. Department of Defense, would cost US$56-68 billion to develop and build through 2025, and another US$300 million per year for operations. A single laser satellite would cost US$4-5 billion.
Read CBO’s Report to the U.S. Senate (pdf, 56 kb).
Russia to Acquire More Topol Ms
January 29

Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) plan to acquire six Topol M intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2002, the same number as in 2001.

Trident 2 Contracts for Lockheed Martin
January 28

Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space was awarded three contract extensions by U.S. Navy‘s Strategic Systems Programs, amounting to US$301 million, for the production of Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles for FY2002. A US$248.5-million contract covers production, requalification and related services through September 2006, with a US$67-million subcontract to ATK Thiokol Propulsion for the propulsion part. A second contract, worth US$27.6 million through June 2004, covers the delivery of three Engineering Development Units, support equipment and software upgrades associated to modified specifications on test missiles. The third contract is actually a US$24.9-million option on FY2001’s production contract for requalification of materials and processes used in the production of the missile’s Boost Propulsion Motors. A US$21.4-million subcontract will go to Thiokol.

India Test Flies Agni MRBM
January 25
India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation has flown a shorter version of its road-mobile Agni intermediate range ballistic missile on a 700-km short-range trajectory. This 15-m-long missile, which features a modified version of the standard Agni solid propellant first stage and no second stage, has a reported range of 800-900 km with a 800-kg payload. Its development was approved in October 1999 following Pakistan’s offensive in Kargil, Kashmir.
Editor’s note: DRDO has already developed and flown two versions of the Agni, the 1,500-km-range Agni 1 and the 2,500-km-range Agni 2. Both are based on a first stage initially developed for Indian Space Research Organisation‘s SLV-3 and ASLV civilian launch systems.
Agni Demonstrator, Agni 2 IRBM
and Agni 1 MRBM (DRDO)

The original Agni 1 (now referred to as ‘Agni’), which was flown three times in May 1989, May 1992 and February 1994, now appears to have been only an interim development, using a modified liquid-fueled Prithvi SRBM as upper stage, and never due to go into serial production. Actually, India always presented it as a technology demonstrator. The new MRBM version will be referred to as ‘Agni 1’. Development of a rail-mobile Agni 3, with a 3,500-4,000-km range, has been confirmed. A test flight is expected in late 2003.

Minuteman Derivative Still Considered as GMDS Booster
January 25

The U.S. Space Command asks the U.S. Missile Defense Agency not to reject definitely a proposal by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space to develop a booster for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment‘s Exo-atmopsheric Kill Vehicle‘s on the basis of decommissioned Minuteman ballistic missiles, after selection of Orbital Sciences as prime for an Alternate Booster Vehicle to compete with Boeing‘s own Ground-Based Interceptor. A memo was reportedly released on December 17. According to TRW, decommissioned Minuteman 2 stages could beneft from the same solid motor refurbishment process as the Minuteman 3 stages currently processed on behalf of the Propulsion Replacement Program (PRP), for which TRW is prime. According to U.S. Space Command estimates, 143 M-55 and 89 SR-19 motors could be made available for GMDS booster development with no impact on other programs such as the use of Minuteman 2 stages for target purposes and Payload Launch Vehicles.

Minuteman 2
(U.S. Air Force)
Editor’s note: Orbital’s recently selected ABV design is based on Minuteman 2 stages combined with elements from the Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur launch systems. The M-55 is the first stage of the Minuteman 2 and 3 missiles, it is also flown as first stage on Orbital’s Target Launch Vehicle (TLV) and Minotaur. The SR-19 is the second stage of the Minuteman 2 and 3 missiles, it is also flown as first stage on Lockheed Martin’s PLV launch system, Coleman Aerospace‘s Hera and Orbital’s Quick Reaction Launch Vehicles (QRLV-2 and 3 versions), and as second stage on Orbital’s TLV and Minotaur.
Orbital Selected for GMDS Alternate Booster
January 18

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has reportedly selected Orbital Sciences over Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space and Boeing to develop an Alternate Booster Vehicle for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment‘s Exo-atmopsheric Kill Vehicle. Orbital’s design, based on a mix of elements from its Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur launch system, was prefered to Lockheed Martin’s proposal of a refurbished Minuteman 2 ballistic missile. Orbital was previously awarded a US$11-million study contract for the ABV and could earn up to US$1 billion worth of production work for an operational system. The ABV is proposed as an alternate solution to the commercial off-the-shelf Ground-Based Interceptor developed by Boeing. The GBI, which is 18-month behind schedule, failed on its second test flight on December 13, 2001.
Editor’s note: Orbital’s ABV is likely to be very similar to its Minotaur and Target Launch Vehicle which are both derivatives of the Minuteman 2 missile with a upper parts from the Pegasus/Taurus family.

Pegasus Launch Delayed by GBI Failure
January 15
The flight of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s next Pegasus XL air-launched vehicle has been postponed again, from January 24 to February 1st at the earliest after the dramatic failure of Boeing‘s second prototype Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI), under development for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment, on December 13, 2001. Alliant Techsystems provides both the Pegasus XL’s Orion stages and the GEM-40 graphite epoxy motor as the GBI first stage. Common elements between the GEM and Orion stages are under review to ensure that they are not involved in the launch mishap.
Editor’s note: The payload on this Pegasus XL mission is NASA‘s High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (HESSI) which has been posponed from a targeted July 2000 launch date after being damaged during ground testing in March 2000. It was postponed further several times due to various technical issues and to the failed launch of a Pegasus derivative, the HXLV, to boost NASA’s X-43A hypersonic testbed to Mach 7 on June 2, 2001.

Pegasus XL

On December 13, in Vandenberg AFB, California, a GBI prototype veered off course seconds into flight and had to be destroyed by range safety officers. The GEM-40 is also in use as a strap-on booster on Boeing‘s Delta 2 launch vehicles. However, no delay has been reported yet on the vehicle’s next mission, due to loft a cluster of five Iridium satellites on February 8.

Next GMDS Interception Test More Complex
January 14

The next interception test to be conducted in late February for the development of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency‘s Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment will involve more sophisticated target decoys.
Editor’s note: Recent interception tests in July and December, 2001, used only a single reflective balloon as a decoy to distract the Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle from its real target: a dummy warhead.

Report Details Chinese Missile Buildup
January 9

China is dramatically improving its strategic ballistic missile forces according to an unclassified yearly report released by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. The report states that China is about to replace its silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (DF-4 and DF-5) by new road-mobile missiles (DF-31 and DF-41). In 2015, China will be able to deploy 75 to 100 warheads, primarily targeted at the United States. The report also confirms that Iran, Iraq and North Korea are working to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capacity. North Korea is likely to conduct a second test launch of its Taepo Dong missile shortly.
Editor’s note: Phased-out Chinese ballistic missiles are likely to be turned into launch vehicles like the CZ-1D for the DF-4 or the CZ-2C for the DF-5. Currently deployed are 12 DF-4s targeted at Russia and 20 DF-5 targeting the United States.

Increased Non-Missile Threat on the U.S.
January 9

The United States are more likely to suffer terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction carried by ships, trucks or airplanes than to be hit by a foreign long-range missiles, according to the unclassified yearly report released by the U.S. National Intelligence Council.
Editor’s note: This estimate could spark new debates over the US$8-billion budget awarded by the U.S. administration to the missile defense effort in 2002.

Greenpeace USA Agrees to Stop Missile Protest
January 9

Greenpeace USA has agreed to stop its attempts to delay U.S. missile defense tests for five years in exchange for a reduction of charges against 14 activists who were captured on July 15 off the coasts of Vandenberg AFB, California, while demonstrating against a missile defense interception test. The activists were charged of felony conspiracy and faced up to 11 years of prison.
Editor’s note: Due to Greenpeace’s activists, the launch of a refurbished Minuteman 2 missile carrying the Integrated Flight Target 6 (IFT-6) was delayed by 40 minutes. The IFT-6 composite (a dummy warhead and a balloon decoy, were launched toward the Kwajalein Missile Range and the warhead was successfully intercepted and destroyed by an Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle.

BMDO Becomes Missile Defense Agency
January 4

The U.S. Departement of Defense has redesignated its Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) as the Missile Defense Agency. By elevating the organization to an agency status, the DoD is reportedly willing to emphasize the national priority on missile defense systems. The MDA is in charge of developing Ballistic Missile Defense Systems (BMDS) able to intercept incoming missiles during their boost, midcourse and reentry phases. As the BMDO, the MDA will report to the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics (AT&L).
Editor’s note: The BMDO was created in 1984 as the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) to overview the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) effort. It was turned into BMDO in May 1993 to reflect its shift of focus from defense against a massive nuclear attack by the Soviet Union to protection from limited missile strike on remote theaters of operations (Theater Missile Defense) or nuclear blackmail by so-called "rogue states" (National Missile Defense).

Chinese ICBM Test Failure
January 3

A Chinese test vehicle, presumably a CZ-1 launcher or a DF-4 intercontinental ballistic missile, reportedly blew up during a test flight for a new warhead according to U.S. intelligence. The missile was apparently launched from Wuzhai and heading to a test range in the Lop Nur desert, Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang). The mishap occurred during first stage propulsion.
Editor’s note: The test launch had been notified to Russia in early November. The CZ-1, a civilian derivative of the DF-4 ballistic missile, has not flown since 1995 although a new version, the CZ-1D is reportedly under development.

Reinhold to Provide Minuteman Components
January 2

Reinhold Industries was awarded a US$13-million contract by ATK Thiokol Propulsion to provide composite components for the refurbishment of all three Minuteman 3 stages under U.S. Air Force‘s Propulsion Replacement Program. The current contract covers deliveries through March 2003 but includes options worth an additional US$80 million for full rate production through 2007.

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  RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems

Northrop Grumman Hires Andrews on SLI Study
January 31 

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems has awarded a US$1.75-million contract to Andrews Space & Technology for market analysis, business planning, systems engineering, and launch vehicle design services in support of the 2nd-generation Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) architecture design study it is currently conducting on behalf of NASA‘s Space Launch Initiative. Northrop Grumman was awarded a US$15.7-million contract by NASA in December 2001 for this effort.
Editor’s note: On behalf of SLI, AS&T is already studying the feasibility of its “Alchemist” Air Collection & Enrichment System (ACES) which would liquefy atmospheric oxygen for future air-breathing space propulsion systems. Under NASA’s Future Space Transportation Study, in 2000, it has also designed a two-stage-to-orbit RLV design, dubbed "Gryphon".

An ATV Shelter for the ISS Crew
January 29

European industry officials propose to use the pressurized cargo carrier of ESA‘s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) as an orbital shelter for an enlarged science crew onboard the Internationational Space Station before a fully operational crew rescue vehicle is availble, according to French aerospace weekly Air&Cosmos. The scenario is based on a crew composed of a permanent support team of 3 and a science team of 2 astronauts. In case of emergency. the permanent support team would leave the ISS in their Soyuz vehicle while the science team would take refuge inside the ATV. The 20-ton resupply and reboost ship is designed with an operational of 6 months attached to the ISS and the two astronauts could wait there for a rescue Soyuz vehicle to be launched to recover them.

X-33 Tank Won’t Move to Florida
January 28

NASA has scrapped plans to move a large tank developed for the ill-fated X-33 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator from Glenn Research Center, Ohio, to Kennedy Space Center, Florida, due to a lack of funds. The tank was proposed for use as a test article for future reusable launch vehicles development efforts under the Space Launch Initiative.

Second Round of SLI
January 25

NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center is launching the secound round of activities on behalf of the Space Launch Initiative by requesting proposals for technologies, experiments and risk-reduction studies for the preparation of the so-called "second-generation reusable launch vehicle." Proposals by U.S. industry and research centers are due on March 27.
Editor’s note: On behalf of the first round of SLI, NASA has already awarded two series of contracts, worth US$886 million, to 22 prime contractors in May and December 2001. Total budget for SLI is expected to amount to US$4.8 billion through 2006.

Aerojet Delivers X-38 Deorbit Stage
January 25

GenCorp Aerojet has delivered to NASA‘s Johnson Space Center the Deorbit Propulsion Stage it developed for the X-38 crew return vehicle demonstrator. The DPS will be mated to X-38 Vehicle 201 for acceptance testing, followed by system integration, combined structural testing. It is due to fly with Vehicle 201 onboard Space Shuttle Columbia in late 2004 or early 2005 and provide deorbit burn for the demonstrator.
Editor’s note: The DPS was developed and built under a US$23-million contract awarded by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in August 1998.

Crawler Problem Delays Shuttle Rollout
January 24

A problem reported on the 2,500-t crawler-transporter vehicle at NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center has forced to postpone the rollout of Space Shuttle Columbia to the launch pad by at least 48 hours. The fault was identified a bearing in the steering linkage on one of the crawler’s four "trucks." The delay will not affect the launch schedule for mission STS-109 to service the Hubble Space Telescope which is still due for liftoff on February 28.

X-33 Elements to be Preserved
January 23

The elements of the uncompleted X-33 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator will be moved from its assembly line in Palmdale, California, to a hangar in Edwards AFB, California, by late January as the U.S. Air Force eventually decided to preserve it as a test structure for future development of a 2nd generation reusable launch vehicle or a military space plane.

Japanese Reentry Demonstrator Ready to Fly
January 21

Japan’s Institute for Space and Astronautical Sciences is readying its Demonstrator of Atmospheric Reentry System with Hyper Velocity (DASH) experiment which will be lofted piggyback on the second qualification flight of the new H-2A launch vehicle on February 3. DASH will test materials for future sample reentry capsules coming from heliocentric orbit with high-speed hyperbolic trajectories relative to Earth. The 89-kg spacecraft, which will be released in geostationary transfer orbit, consists in a 70-kg carrier satellite and a 19-kg, 40-cm-diameter reentry capsule. After three days, the capsule will be released and accelerated to a velocity exceeding 10 km/s in order to conduct reentry over the Sahara desert in Mauritania, protected by a carbon phenolic ablation heat shield. A parachute system will allow recovery of the demonstrator.
Editor’s note: DASH paves the way for future Japanese sample return missions the first of which will be the Muses-C asteroid probe to be launched in late 2002 on a M-5 vehicle and planned to return samples from asteroid 1998 SF 36 in June 2006.

NASA to Test Ceramic Composites
January 17

NASA‘s Glenn Research Center plans to hire the Southern Research Institute for a testing campaign of ceramic matrix composites (CMC) materials and hybrid structures incorporating CMC, foam core and PMC.

NASA Plans Alternate Access to the ISS
January 11

NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center plans to proceed with a one-year study on concepts for an Alternate Access to the Station (AAS) system which would carry payloads to the International Space Station on a commercial basis. A formal request for offer was released. The proposed concept would involve an unmanned orbital transfer vehicle able to carry from 1,500 kg/flight to 17,300 kg/year of payload to the ISS, in pressurized and /or non-pressurized environment. A set of 5 reference missions has been defined. Contracts are expected in April. Total budget for this first phase is about US$135 million. Concept selection in mid-2003 could lead to full development under the Space Launch Initiative program with technological development flights in 2004 and a demonstration flight in 2005 prior to full commercial capability from 2006 on. Total budget for this second phase would be about US$120 million
Editor’s note: A preliminary 90-day study has already been conducted by eight bidders in late 2000: Andrews Space & Technology, Boeing Space & Communications, Coleman Aerospace, HMX, Kistler Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Microcosm and Orbital Sciences. The 2004 technological flights would apparently be those of Orbital’s Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technologies (DART) test vehicle and Kistler’s Automated Rendezvous & Proximity Operations (ARPO) flight experiment. NASA also plans to contribute to test flights conducted by Orbital and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Program Agency under the Orbital Express program for satellite servicing demonstration. A US$25-million contribution is expected.

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  Space Propulsion

Rocketdyne Selects RS-83 Design
January 28


Boeing Rocketdyne has selected a final design for the RS-83 engine it is developing on behalf of NASA‘s Space Launch Initiative, among 5,500 identified potential combinations. Proposed as a main propulsion system for future reusable launch vehicles, the 2,900-kN RS-83 will be a cryogenic staged-combustion engine, rated for a 100-mission life cycle, twice the planned mission life of the current Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME), also developed by Rocketdyne. Other design features include easy access turbopumps with hydrostatic bearings, electrical actuators inherited from the XRS-2200 linear aerospike engine and advanced health monitoring systems. Several subsystems, like the preburner, will also be derived from the RS-68 expendable engine. A System Design Review is now due in March and could lead to a 14-month detailed design phase with a full-scale prototype test-fired in 2003.
Editor’s note: Boeing Rocketdyne was awarded a US$62.7-million contract in May 2001 to begin development of the RS-83 as a fuel-rich staged-combustion main engine. A competing design, the 2,650-kN COBRA (Co-Optimized Booster for Reusable Applications), is under study by Pratt&Whitney and Gencorp Aerojet. Selection between the two concepts is expected in the third quarter of 2003.
RBCC Test Facility at Stennis
January 24

NASA‘s Stennis Space Center has awarded a US$3.8-million contract to Laughlin Environmental to build a test facility for Rocket-Based Combined Cycle propulsion systems. RBCC testing is expected to begin in SSC in 2003.

Hybrid Motor Test Completed at Stennis
January 17
NASA‘s Stennis Space Center has successfully conducted the fourth and last firing test of a 1,100-kN hybrid rocket motor under the Hybrid Propulsion Demonstration Program. The 27-second burn was designed to evaluate propulsion stability and fuel retention at burnout which are two major drawbacks of hybrid propulsion. The 56.7-ton motor – 13.7-m-long with a 1.8-m diameter – will now be disassembled, inspected and stored for future technology testing activities. It was developed by a consortium consisting of Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Boeing Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems, Thiokol Propulsion and Pratt&Whitney’s Chemical Systems Division.

Editor’s note: The HPDP was initiated in 1995 on behalf of NASA and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Program Agency. Four Hyperion hybrid-powered sounding rockets were launched from November 1996 to April 1997 from Wallops Flight Facility. The test campaign initially expected to begin in 1996 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, was eventually moved to SSC with a first firing on August 13, 1999. Plans for firing tests on a second motor, using hydrogen peroxide instead of liquid oxygen, have been reported.

NASA Prepares a Study on Propellant Sloshing
January 11

NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center has issued a request for proposal for a study on the "nutation behavior of spinning space vehicles with on-board liquid propellant" based on available flight and ground-testing data.
Editor’s note: The topic of propellant sloshing affecting satellite stability will also be studied by European Space Agency‘s Sloshsat-Flevo spacecraft, to be released in low-Earth orbit by Space Shuttle Atlantis in April 2003 on the STS-115 mission to the International Space Station.

Minuteman Propulsion Replacement Program Option
January 8

TRW has exrecised a one-year, US$191-million option on its contract with ATK Thiokol Propulsion and Pratt&Whitney Space & Missiles Propulsion for the refurbishment of all three Minuteman 3 stages under U.S. Air Force‘s Propulsion Replacement Program (PRP). Thiokol’s share in the contract is 60%.
Editor’s note: Under the PRP, Thiokol is responsible for demilitarization of each stage as well as production of 1st-stage motors and ordnance systems. Pratt&Whitney; produces the 3rd-stage motors. The two jointly produce the 2nd stage motors.

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Cryo Tanks for Christmas
January 31

Russia’s RKK Energiya has ordered 13 cryogenic tanks from OAO UralKrioMash to ship cryogenic propellant to Christmas Island’s Asia Pacific Space Center in support of the Aurora launch vehicle. The tanks are due for delivery in October 2003.

Russia Plans All-Mission Capacity From Plesetsk
January 29

Russia’s vice minister of Defense, Gen. Aleksandr Kossovan, announces that beginning in 2005, Russia will have the capacity to conduct all types of space launches from its Plesetsk Cosmodrome, in Northern Russia. Some Rbl 5 billion (US$167 million) will be invested to improve the site.
Editor’s note: This capacity will come from the introduction of the heavy-lift versions of GKNPTs Khrunichev‘s Angara family of launchers which will use a modified Zenit launch pad and be able to loft large payloads to geostationary orbit from the high-latitude site, possibly through a lunar flyby to cancel the high orbital inclination. This announcement doesn’t mean that Russia will withdraw from Baykonur before the end of this decade but it could help the Russian Military Forces to gain more funding to modernize the Plesetsk launch site. It might be used too to support talks with Kazakhstan for the lease of the Baykonur site. Currently Russia pays a yearly fee, worth US$115 million, to operate the site.

Guiana Fishermen End Blockade
January 23

A fleet of shrimp fishing boats ended its 18-day blockade of Kourou’s Pariacabo and Cayenne’s Degrad des Cannes harbors in French Guiana. The protest movement was organized to support claims for additional subsidies and prevented Arianespace‘s Colibri freighter ship from delivering launch vehicle elements to the Guiana Space Center. The Colibri had to cast at Devil’s Islands, off the coasts of the launch site. The delay will not affect Arianespace’s upcoming launch campaigns as the Ariane 5 and Ariane 4 vehicles for the next launches were already in storage on site.

21 Launches Planned From Baykonur in 2002
January 14

Rosaviakosmos announces that 21 space launches will be conducted from Baykonur, Kazakhstan, in 2002. These will include 10 flights of Proton vehicles for "commercial missions", 6 of Soyuz launchers for servicing the International Space Station, and two flights of the Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr launch system. The remaining three more launches, with "three different classes of vehicles", will likely be related to Russia’s military programs and involve a mix of Proton, Soyuz and Zenit launchers.

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Experts Approve SNPE’s Plan for Toulouse Plants
January 23

TNO, of the Netherlands, an independent expert, has approved Groupe SNPE ‘s plan to resume industrial activities in its chemical plants of the Toulouse area. The facilities, which have been closed since the explosion of the nearby AZF (Atofina) fertilizer production plant, on September 21, will no longer produce or use phosgen and will focus on the production of rocket propellant for Arianespace and fine chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry. A final decision by French authorities on work resumption is expected shortly.

Groupe SNPE’s Plan for Toulouse Facilities Examined
January 11

Groupe SNPE ‘s plan to resume industrial activities in its chemical plants of the Toulouse area is being examined by the Regional Direction for Industry, Research and Environment (DRIRE). The plan presented in a report issued on December 28, is also evaluated by TNO, of the Netherlands, as an independent expert. The facilities had ceased activity on September 21 after the explosion of the nearby AZF (Atofina) fertilizer production plant. To comply with new, more restrictive safety regulations, the facilities will no longer produce or use phosgen and will focus on the production of rocket propellant for Arianespace and fine chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry.
Editor’s note: Groupe SNPE facilities in Toulouse produce monomethyl-hydrazine (MMH) for Ariane 5‘s upper stage and of ammonium perchlorate for solid propellants.

Lockheed Martin to Lay Off 700
January 10

Lockheed Martin Space Systems plans to reduce its workforce at its Astronautics Operations unit in Denver, Colorado, by about 700, i.e. about 10% of its current staff. Several of the positions will likely be eliminated through attrition, although some layoffs are expected. The restructuring is reportedly linked to the closure of the Titan 4 production line as well as to the completion of an unidentified classified program.
Editor’s note: The last Titan 4 launcher, currently under construction, will be shipped to Cape Canaveral in April and put in storage until its planned launch in late 2003. Six Titan 4s and three Titan 2s are still due for launch through August 2002. Lockheed Martin Astronautics has already cut its workforce by 600 in 2001, with only 100 actual layoffs.

Loral Fined for Technology Transfer to China
January 9

Loral Space & Communications has agreed to pay a civil fine of US$14 million over 7 years to the U.S. State Department to settle an illegal technology transfer case with China which began in 1996 when a preliminary report issued by an Independent Review Committee (IRC) on the failure of the first CZ-3B launch vehicle was sent to China although it included sensitive technological information. Loral neither denied or admitted the charge. This fine will add to US$6 million of export compliance costs previously agreed with the U.S. administration.
Editor’s note: The first CZ-3B vehicle failed shortly after liftoff, on February 15, 1996. The vehicle veered off course before clearing the launch tower and crashed on a nearby village 22 seconds later. At least six casualaties were reported and a much higher death toll was rumored. The Space Systems/Loral-built Intelsat 708 satellite was lost. According to the Cox Report, the IRC report provided by Loral to China in May 1996 in violation with U.S. export control regulations included detailed information on launch vehicle’s inertial measurement unit designs and testing procedures. Such information is suspected to have been used to improve Chinese satellite launch vehicles as well as ballistic missiles. The settlement of this case is not expected to lead to a lift of the ongoing ban on satellite exports to China. Satellites currently awaiting export licenses for launches on Chinese boosters include Loral’s Chinasat 8 (delayed since 1998), for China Telecommunications & Broadcasting Satellite Corp., and Alenia Spazio‘s Atlantic Bird 1, for Eutelsat. Also applying for a similar license is Loral’s Apstar 5, for APT Satellite. Astrium‘s Intelsat APR-3 was cancelled by Intelsat in 2001 due to the lengthy licensing procedure.

Kvaerner Creditors Approve Debt Restructuring
January 3

The creditors of Kvaerner AS, a 20% sherholder of Sea Launch Co., have approved the restructuring of the Anglo-Norwegian shipbuilder’s debt. This vote is a clearance for Kvaerner’s bailout by its main competitor Aker Maritime, as decided in November.

Alcatel Layoffs in Cannes
January 2

Alcatel Space plans to lay off some 150 to 200 workers at its satellite manufacturing facility in Cannes, on the French Riviera. The job cuts, which represent about 10% of the workforce at the site are likely results of the decrease in satellite orders in 2001 (4 compared to 11 in 2000) and the cancellation of the orders for the GE-2E and GE-3E satellites announced in December by SES-Global after its merger with GE Americom. Editor’s note: Alcatel Space plans to reduce its overall workforce by about 450 employees as a result to cope with a reducing workload. Alcatel Space employs some 6,000 people in France.

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  Launch Market

Wideband Gapfiller Contracts for Boeing
January 31
Boeing Satellite Systems has been awarded three contract options, totalling US$336.4 million, by U.S. Air Force‘s Space & Missile Systems Center to complete and deliver the first two satellites for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army joint-service Wideband Gapfiller Communications Satellite system and advance work on the third satellite. A US$204.2-million contract will cover manufacturing of WGS-1, to be ready for launch in January 2004. WGS-2 will have to be delivered in October 2005 under another US$119.2-million exercised contract option. A US$13-million complement provides for the procurement of advance parts for WGS-3. All three satellites are based the BSS-702 high-power satellite bus.
WGS satellite (BSS)
Editor’s note: Boeing was awarded a US$160.2-million contract in January 2001 for the development and initial long-lead items procurement for three WGS satellites. The contract still includes additional options which could bring its value to US$1.3 billion. Currently, two WGS are due for launch on Boeing‘s Delta 4 vehicles and one on Lockheed Martin‘s Atlas 5.
NASA May Revive Space Nuclear Reactor Program
January 31

NASA is reportedly requesting funding for development of a new-generation space nuclear reactor to support future space exploration programs.
Editor’s note: The latest U.S. effort in space nuclear reactor development was the SP-100 program, managed by NASA’s JPL and GE Astro (now part of Lockheed Martin) which was terminated in 1992, after US$450 million had been spent, in favor of cooperation with Russia on the Yenisei thermionic reactor on behalf of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. (now Missile Defense Agency). That project folded up too in 1995 and hardware was turned to the U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency (now Defense Threat Reduction Agency). Space nuclear reactors could provide power for deep space electrical propulsion systems as well as to space-based high-energy weaponry.

Orbimage to File for Bankruptcy Protection
January 30
Orbital Imaging Corp. (Orbimage), the space imaging subsidiary of Orbital Sciences Corp., announces that it will file for bankruptcy protection under U.S. "Chapter 11" regime by early March to restructure its debt and prevent a possible collapse. The filing was expected in December but was postponed after a US$13-million payment by insurers following the loss of the OrbView 4 high-resolution imaging satellite on a Taurus vehicle on September  21, 2001. Orbimage still plans to launch its OrbView 3 satellite on a Pegasus XL in September and to emerge from "Chapter 11" regime before year-end.
Russian Ministry of Defense to Buy Satellites, Launchers
January 29
The Russian ministry of Defense plans to procure 8 satellites and 4 launch vehicles in 2002. In 2003, the procurement of 11 satellites and 8 launch vehicles is planned. The budget for military space programs in 2002 is reportedly 12% higher than in 2001.
Editor’s note: The difference between the number of satellites and the number of launches suggests that two triplets of Uragan satellites will be procured in 2002 and one more in 2003 to replenish the Glonass satellite positioning system.
NPO-PM Begins Ekspress AM Production
January 24

Russia’s NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki has begun the production of a series of five Ekpsress AM communication satellites, to be fitted with advanced communication payloads provided by Alcatel Space (AM-11 and AM-22) and NEC, for PO Kosmicheskaya Sviaz. The first launch is scheduled for February 2004, presumably on a Proton vehicle.

China Plans to Buy Israeli Satellites
January 17

China plans to buy three Israeli-built Amos HP communication satellites in order to improve its satellite network to prepare for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Total amount of the procurement is estimated at US$200-250 million. Launches will be conducted on Russian or Chinese vehicles. The deal is reportedly a compensation by Israel after the sale of its Phalcon radar observation aircraft to China was cancelled in July 2000 under pressure from the United States. China has asked for US$1 billion in compensation for the failed deal.
Editor’s note: Built by Israel Aircraft Industries‘ MBT division, the Amos HP is an improved version of the 1,200-kg-class Amos communication satellites of which one model was launched in 1996 and two more are due in 2003 and 2005.

Israel Approves Milcomsat Program
January 16 

Israel’s ministry of Defense has reportedlyapproved the principle of a US$390-million program to develop, build and launch a military communication satellite system. A feasibility study on Israeli industry’s capability to provide such a system is underway and should be completed within weeks. Israeli Air Force will head the project.

WorldSpace Loses Orbital Slot
January 16

WorldSpace‘s right to operate its Ameristar direct radio braodcasting satellite from Trinidad & Tobago’s 95° West geostationary have expired as the spacecraft was not into operations on its January 15 deadline. According to Alcatel Space, prime contractor for the Worldstar satellite series, there is no plan to launch the third satellite in the series in the short term although WorldSpace’s litterature still announce a launch in "early 2002."
Editor’s note: Ameristar is currently manifested on an Arianespace Ariane 5 launch under a contract signed in 1996 with Alcatel.

NASA Withdraws from Astrometry Mission
January 9

NASA has decided not to fund the Full-sky Astrometric Mapping Explorer (FAME) mission into its actual manufacturing phase amid doubts over the 1,031-kg spacecraft’s capacity to meet its planned accuracy. FAME is led by the U.S. Naval Observatory and was awarded a US$162-million budget by NASA in 1999 on behalf of the Medium-sized Explorer (Midex) program. Launch to geostationary orbit was due in July 2004 atop a Boeing Delta 2/7925-10 vehicle.

Space-Based Laser Demonstration Cancelled
January 7

TRW and Lockheed Martin have begun dismantling the Space Based Laser Integrated Flight Experiment (SBL-IFX) program as a consequence of the FY2002 budget reduction from US$170 million to a mere US$50 million following funding cuts in the Defense Appropriations budget by the U.S. Congress. The remaining budget prevents in-space demonstration, but some basic technology development is expected to proceed.
Editor’s note: About US$240 million have already been spent in the program. Launch of the 18-t demonstrator was due circa 2013, presumably on a Boeing Delta 4H. Total cost of the program was estimated at US$3 billion to completion.

OSC Selected to Build Asteroid Orbiter
January 3

NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected Orbital Sciences Corp. to develop and build the Dawn probe under a US$80-million contract. One of the two Discovery missions selected by NASA on December 21, Dawn will be launched atop a Boeing Delta 2/7925H vehicle on May 27, 2006 and enter orbit around the two largest asteroids of the main belt, Vesta (4) in July 2010 and Ceres (1) in August 2014. The 1,245-kg spacecraft will be based on OSC’s LEOStar bus and will incorporate a JPL solar-electric propulsion system composed of three NSTAR xenon ion thrusters.

DFH-4 Planned for 2005
January 3

The Chinese Academy of Space Technology has begun development work on the next generation of Chinese national geostationary communication and broadcasting satellites, the DFH-4. This new generation of satellites, carrying about 50 transponders and with a 15-year lifetime, will be available in 2005.

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  Agencies and Governments

NASA Selects Small Business Projects
January 25

NASA has selected 9 out of 15 research proposals under the 2nd phase of its 2000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR’2000) program which will receive further two-year contracts with a total value of up to US$4.5 million. Among these prohjects, four have direct applications in space transportation activities:

Academic Partner
NASA Center
Information Technology
Accurate Automation University of Alabama Intelligent control for autonomous remote spacecraft.
Qualtech Systems University of Connecticut Real-time onboard and remote vehicle health management.
Space Propulsion
Information Systems Laboratories University of Alabama in Hunstsville Specific impulse analysis of solid materials for ablative laser propulsion.
Rocket Engine Test Operations
NanoSonic Virginia Tech Nanostructured high temperature optical filters for protection of spectroscopic instrumentation.
Japan and South Korea to Cooperate in Space
January 23

Japan’s National Space Development Agency and South Korea’s Aerospace Research Institute have reached a basic agreement to promote cooperation in space. A joint team of expert has been formed to identify fields for cooperation. A report is due before May.
Editor’s note: KARI is leading South Korea’s efforts in space launch systems development with the KSR series of vehicles and could largely benefit from a cooperation with Japan on small launchers.

Russia and Brazil to Discuss Space Cooperation
January 10

Russian and Brazilian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Fernando Enrique Cardoso, are expected to discuss various aspects of space cooperation between the two countries in a meeting on January 14. According to Rosaviakosmos, Russia could get involved in the improvement of Brazil’s VLS launch system. In addition Russia is reportedly interested in participating to the US$1-2-billion modernization of the Alcântara Launch Center in order to accomodate Russian launchers to provide a low cost access to geostationary orbit. More joint space activities are also foreseen in the field of remote sensing.
Editor’s note: Brazil’s VLS-1 small launcher, developed by IAE/CTA, has failed twice in two launch attempts in November 1997 and December 1999. A third qualification launch is due for the third quarter of 2002.

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