News of February 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
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  Commercial Launchers

First Atlas 3B Successfully Launched
February 21

Lockheed Martin‘s first Atlas 3B vehicle (AC-204) was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral‘s SLC-36B. The vehicle on the Atlas 3A‘s booster stage powered by a single NPO Energomash RD-180 engine and an stretched version of the vintage Centaur cryogenic upper stage powered by a pair of Pratt&Whitney RL10A4-1B engines. Both stages apparently performed flawlessly, demonstrating about 85% of the components for the upcoming Atlas 5 version . The mission was conducted on behalf of International Launch Services to loft a commercial payload, the Echostar 7 direct broadcasting satellite for Echostar Corporation. The 4,026-kg Echostar 7 was released on a 186.41 x 57,371 km supersynchronous transfer orbit, inclined at 22.88°. The reported targeted orbit had a perigee at 196.2 km and an apogee above 40,292 km with an inclination of 23.1°.
Watch the launch movie (Real).

Atlas 3B
Editor’s note: This is only the second flight of an Atlas 3 series booster. The first launch, with an Atlas 3A, was successfully conducted on May 24, 2000. According to insurance sources, the vehicle experienced an unexpected aerodynamic coupling phenomenon but without adverse effect on the mission. ILS denies any problem with the launch. Eutelsat‘s W4 satellite was successfully delivered to orbit and is performing nominally. The Atlas 3 series was initially presented as an interim step from the flight-proven Atlas 2 series to the new Atlas 5 design, demonstrating first the RD-180-powered booster stage (Atlas 3A), then the upgraded Centaur (Atlas 3B). However, delays and limited commercial success reduced the number of Atlas 3 flights before the introduction of the Atlas 5 to only two, leaving the new Atlas 5 with little flight experience of its main new components. The possibility of a third Atlas 3 flight before the maiden flight of Atlas 5 has been announced in late 2001 by ILS. This could mean a slippage of the first Atlas 5 launch, currently scheduled on May 9, beyond the next Atlas 3B mission, manifested on May 28 to loft the Asiasat 4 satellite for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. of Hong-Kong.
Intelsat Launch Slips
February 19
Arianespace announces that the launch of its 109th Ariane 4 vehicle, carrying the Space Systems/Loral-built Intelsat 904 on behalf of Intelsat, has been postponed from February 20 to February  23 in order to conduct additional checks on the launcher’s payload fairing. The following Ariane 5G launch, on March 1st, is not affected by this delay.
Editor’s note: The postponement was actually decided more than one week before this announcement but remained undisclosed, presumably per customer request.
Third Scrub for Iridium Launch
February 10
The third attempt in three days to launch a Boeing Delta 2 to replenish the Iridium constellation was scrubbed due to a faulty fuel sensor on the vehicle’s first stage. A fourth try is planned on February 11.
Update: Launched successfully on February 11.
Delta 2 Slips Again
February 9
The launch of a Boeing Delta 2 to replenish the Iridium constellation was scrubbed again, 3 hours 40 minutes before the planned liftoff, after a downrange Lockheed P-3 tracking aircraft reported mechanical problems. Another launch attempt is due on February 10.
Delta 2 Slips
February 8
The first launch of a Boeing Delta 2 to replenish the Iridium constellation since its bailout was scrubbed 55 seconds before the planned liftoff, due to wind gust just before the opening of the 5-second launch window. Another launch attempt has been set for February 9.
NASA Considers Launch Options for Triana
February 8
NASA is reportedly evaluating two options for the launch of the mothballed Triana Earth observation satellite. One would be to fly the 565-kg spacecraft as a secondary payload on an Ariane 5 vehicle. The US$20-million flight could be paid by France’s CNES and the European Space Agency in exchange for the data. ESA is currently evaluating the proposal. The second option would be a complimentary launch on a NPO Yuzhnoye Tsyklon vehicle arranged by a new U.S. commercial venture trying to market the Tsyklon.
Editor’s note: Triana was built under a mission concept initially proposed by former U.S. vice-president Albert Gore. The mission was cancelled in January 2001 after the controversial election of George Walker Bush as the new U.S. president. US$92 million have been spent yet on the project.
Ariane 5 and Tsyklon 3
Triana was planned to be launched by a NASA Space Shuttle and to use a Thiokol Star 48 kick motor to reach the Earth-Sun L1 libration point in order to continuously observe the illuminated side of the Earth. The completed spacecraft is currently in storage at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The Tsyklon was previously proposed commercially by Rockwell International (now Boeing) and a later by Daimler-Benz Aerospace (now Astrium). An uprated version, the Tsyklon 4, is reportedly under development in partnership with Italy’s FiatAvio.
SatMex 6 on Ariane
February 8
Satélites Mexicanos SA de CV (SatMex) has selected Arianespace to launch its next satellite, SatMex 6, on an Ariane 5 in early 2003. A formal contract is expected shortly. The 5,700-kg satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral on the basis of its LS-1300X (extended) bus, will carry 24 Ku-band and 36 C-band transponders. It will be located at 109.2°West to provide services over Mexico as well as most of Latin America and the United States.
Editor’s note: Space Systems/Loral was contracted for SatMex 6 in late 2000.
Ariane 5’s Flight Software Worth an Award
February 8

Sophie Meauffret, 36, an EADS Launch Vehicles engineer, was awarded the Robert Alkan Prize for her 10-year work on integrated algorithms which enabled the development of Ariane 5ECA‘s flight software. This optimized software, currently completing its flight qualification, will allow to reduce the quantity of hydraulic fluid needed to steer the vehicle’s nozzles and to save about 600 kg on the launcher’s mass. Its improved flexibility will also enable to reduce the cost and duration of flight preparation.
Editor’s note: The Robert Alkan Prize rewards innovative developments by young engineers which have found an operational industrial application.

ILS to Begin Marketing of Angara
February 1st

International Launch Services plans to begin marketing of GKNPTs Khrunichev‘s new Angara launch vehicle by late 2002. The maiden flight of the Angara 1.1, the smallest version in the family (1,700 kg to Sun-synchronous orbit, no geostationary transfer orbit capacity), is expected by late 2003. Heavy-lift versions of Angara are planned to be introduced circa 2005 in order to replace the current Proton by the end of the decade.

Next Ariane 5’s Upper Stage on its Way to Kourou
February 1st

Astrium has completed the integration of the EPS upper stage due to fly on Arianespace‘s next Ariane 5G, on March 1st (February 28, local time). The stage has been shipped to the Guiana Space Center, in Kourou, French Guiana, onboard an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft. The Aestus engine mounted on this stage was cleared for launch after a series of 10 acceptance tests in DLR‘s test center in Lampoldshausen, Germany.
Editor’s note: The last Ariane 5G flight, on July 12, 2001, could not reach its targeted geostationary transfer orbit due to an incident during the Aestus engine’s ignition resulting in a 20% thrust shortfall and an early propellant depletion. The incident was caused by water traces in the propellant lines which led to a detonation during ignition. The engine pre-launch processing and ignition sequence have been revised to increase the engine’s performance margins and sweep moisture out of the lines prior to propellant injection.

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  Government Launchers

DASH Failure Caused by Faulty Wiring, Not by H-2A
February 15
Japan’s Demonstrator of Atmospheric Reentry System with Hyper Velocity (DASH) spacecraft failed to deploy from its payload adapter atop the H-2A launch vehicle on February 4 due to a wiring error inside the spacecraft. According to the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, which flew the experiment piggyback on the second qualification flight of the launcher. The mishap was caused by an incorrectly wired connector that was to transmit a deployment signal from the launch vehicle to the satellite. The mistake apparently occurred early in the design stage, due to a copying error when drawing up final assembly blueprints in NEC Space Systems, now part NEC Toshiba Space Systems.
DASH would have released its capsule after 3 days (ISAS)
The US$4.5-million spacecraft was delivered to ISAS in December 1999 but the wiring mistake went unnoticed during acceptance tests since they were based on the faulty blueprints.
Editor’s note: Due to the faulty 89-kg microsatellite, the second flight of H-2A was considered a failure by some analysts although it successfully reached its targeted orbit and deployed its primary 450-kg payload. NEC Toshiba is also developing the Muses-C asteroid sample return probe whose reentry capsule design was to be demonstrated by DASH.
DMSP Removed From Titan Launcher
February 5
U.S. Air Force‘s latest Lockheed Martin-built Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft has been removed from the top of its Titan 23G launch vehicle and returned to the pre-launch facility in Vandenberg AFB, California, for repair. The launch of the US$193-million DMSP-5D3-F16 military weather satellite has been postponed continuously since two failed launch attempts on January 20 and 21, 2001. The latest glitch was a leaky valve on an hydrazine thruster. Next launch attempt is now expected in late April at the earliest but it could slip to the third quarter if the entire propulsion system needs to be replaced.
H-2A Logs Second Success, DASH Payload Silent
February 4
Japan’s National Space Development Agency (NASDA) successfully launched its second H-2A vehicle from Tanegashima Space Center. For this second and last qualification flight, the H-2A flew in a 2024 configuration, with four Thiokol Castor 4A-XL solid strap-on boosters (SSB) in addition to its standard pair of 60-ton SRB-A augmented solid rocket boosters, provided by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries. The SSBs were ignited by pairs in altitude. The vehicle also featured a 4-m diameter dual launch fairing. The vehicle successfully released its US$43-million primary payload – NASDA’s first Mission Demonstration Satellite (MDS-1) – into geostationary transfer orbit (480 x 35740 km, inclined 28.5°). Separation of the Demonstrator of Atmospheric Reentry System with Hyper Velocity (DASH) which was flown piggyback atop the lower fairing for Japan’s Institute of Space & Astronautical Science , could not be confirmed and no contact has been made with the 89-kg, US$4.5-million spacecraft. DASH was due to conduct an high-velocity reentry into the atmosphere on February 7 and land in Mauritania.

The launcher also carried an instrumented vehicle evaluation payload (VEP-3) which remained attached to the upper payload adapter. Quoted costs for the mission range from US$63 million to US$80 million.
Editor’s note:
The H-2A flew in a 202 configuration (2 SRB-As, no SSB) on August 29, 2001. Two operational flights are scheduled in 2002: in August to loft
the Unmanned Space Experiment Recovery System (USERS) platform to low Earth orbit and the DRTS-W data relay test satellite to geostationary transfer orbit, then in November to launch the second Advanced Earth Observation Satellite (Adeos 2) and three piggyback microsatellites. The configurations for these flights (202, 2022 or 2024) have not been announced yet.
Watch the second H-2A’s liftoff from Tanegashima (Real).

New Delay for 2nd H-2A Qualification Flight
February 2

Japan’s National Space Development Agency has decided to postpone the 2nd qualification flight of its H-2A launch vehicle by 24 hours, from February 3 to February 4 due to high wind condition over the launch site at Tanegashima Space Center.

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  Small Launchers

Russia/Ukraine Agreement on Tsyklon Upgrade
February 19

The Russian and Ukrainian space agencies, Rosaviakosmos and NKAU, have signed a MoU regarding the joint modernization of the Tsyklon launch vehicles, produced in Ukraine by NPO Yuzhnoye. The agreement, which will allow the participation of Russian space industry in the development of the new Tsyklon 4 version, was signed at the end of a two-day meeting in Kiyv. Ukraine and Russia have also decided to support MKK Kosmotras for the use of an area in Turkmenistan for the fall of Dnepr stages after launches from Baykonur, Kazakhstan. Rosaviakosmos and NKAU will also cooperate on the proposed "Desert Launch" project of flying Ukrainian-built Zenit 3SL and Zenit 2M vehicles from Baykonur in partnership with Sea Launch.
Editor’s note: Other topics discussed include a
draft agreement on the manufacturing, launch and joint operations of the Sich-1M oceanography satellite as well as the flight of Ukrainian experiments in the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

Tsyklon 4
The Tsyklon 4 was planned to be developed under a partnership with FiatAvio but the Italian motorist is now focusing in priority on the development of the Vega small launch vehicle for ESA.

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  Missile Systems

Boeing’s Missile Defense Integration Contract Extended
February 19
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has awarded a US$23.9-million contract to Boeing for additionnal engineering and integration support to the Missile Defense National Team through June 2002.
Editor’s note: These ‘additional’ activities are planned to be completed by the time the United States eventually withdraw from the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty signed in 1972 with the Soviet Union. The withdrawal will allow the MDA to conduct more complex test flights of its missile defense systems and to proceed with the development of a dedicated launch site in Alaska.
Northrop Grumman’s Trident 2 Contract Extended
February 19
U.S. Navy‘s Strategic Systems Programs have exercised a US$36.75-million option on a previously signed contract with Northrop Grumman Marine Systems for support activities to the deployed U.S. and British fleets of Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles through July 2004.
Russia Builds Silos for Topol M Missiles
February 14
Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) have prepared four new silos for Topol M intercontinental ballistic missiles in Tatishchevo, Saratov oblast. Two more silos are on order and a total of eight could be built if the Russian Ministry of Defense purchases six missiles in 2002 as planned. Six silos have reportedly been completed in 2001.
MDA Studies Miniature EKVs
February 13
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is reportedly considering the option of developing a miniature Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) concept to increase the interception capability of its Ground-based Midcourse Defense System. Instead of carrying a single EKV with advanced sensors able to discriminate an incoming warhead from its accompanying decoys, the Ground-Based Interceptor could deploy a cluster of 20-30 mini-EKVs to collide with every target available, either warheads or decoys. The objective of this new concept, which could come as a complement to standard EKVs, would be to reduce the development cost of the overall system.
More Trident Work for Lockheed Martin
February 11
U.S. Navy‘s Strategic Systems Programs have exercised a US$11,8-million option on the contract signed in 2001 with Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space for the production of Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles and support to the deployed fleet for the FY2002. The option covers initial requalification activities for the production gas generators for the missiles thrust vector control systems and post-boost control systems through January 2005.
Lockheed Martin’s Trident 2 Contract Extended
February 8
U.S. Navy‘s Strategic Systems Programs have exercised a US$12.6-million option on a previously signed contract with Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space for production of Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles and support to the deployed fleet for FY2002. The option covers the procurement of additional hardware and requalification activities through September 2006.
Code of Conduct Approved to Counter Proliferation
February 8

Delegates from more than 80 countries approved a draft proposal for international guidelines to counter ballistic missile technology proliferation after a two-day meeting in Paris. The participants included representents from every nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, Great-Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. Iran participated too. The text, to have the force of a political engagement rather than an international treaty, calls for each signatory to provide yearly updates on its ballistic missile programs and to notify the others of each test flight.
Editor’s note: North Korea and Syria refused to come. Iraq was not invited.

TRW Gets Extension on Minuteman Guidance Replacement
February 6
U.S. Air Force‘s Ogden Air Logistics Center has awarded a US$47.2-million extension to TRW on a contract signed in 1998 on behalf of the Guidance Replacement Program for the Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile system. This extension covers the procurement of to provide application specific integrated circuits through September 2004. Honeywell Solid State Electronics Center will supply the circuits under a US$32-million subcontract.

North Korea Condemns Japan’s H-2A

February 5

North Korea condemns Japan’s H-2A successful test flight again, citing it as a further attempt to ‘revive militarism,‘ and claims to be forced to increase its own ‘defense capabilities.’
Editor’s note: The H-2A is due to loft two pairs of military surveillance satellites in 2003 as a direct consequence to North Korea’s Taepo Dong ballistic missile test launch over Japan in August 1998. After the maiden flight of the H-2A in August 2001, North Korean propaganda claimed the launcher was a covert ballistic missile. North Korea has officially agreed to freeze its ballistic missile developments through 2003 but is highly suspected to be continuing its efforts under cover. South Korean sources report that numerous engines firing tests have been conducted. Propaganda against Japan’s space programs could be considered as an attempt to justify a resumption of ballistic missile test flights.
Read North Korea Central News Agency’s propaganda statement on the H-2A launch.

Pakistan Denies Chinese Support on Missile Programs
February 1st

The Pakistani Foreign Office again dismissed allegations by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency regarding a technological support by China to the country’s ballistic missile programs. "Pakistan’s missile technology is totally indigenous" claims a PFO statement. According to a CIA half-yearly report, China still provides significant assistance in solid rocket propulsion technology for Shaheen 1 and Haider 1 short range missiles. China is also expected to provide assistance in the development of the longer range Shaheen 2 missile.
Editor’s note: In November 2000, China promised to discontinue all ballistic missile technology transfer programs to other countries. The Shaheen 1 is a derivative of China’s M-9 missile.
Read CIA’s Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, January 1st – June 30, 2001 (html, 40 kb).

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  RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems

Cold Weather Delays Columbia Launch
February 28

NASA has decided to postpone the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia from February 28 to March 1st due to excessively cool weather conditions on the Kennedy Space Center. On this STS-109 mission, Columbia, returning to flight after a lengthy Orbiter Maintenance Down Period, will rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telecope which will be refurbished in space by the crew. About US$172 million of new equipment will be mounted on Hubble.
Editor’s note: Very low temperatures prior to launch (circa 0° Celsius), similar to those currently experienced in Florida, were among the reported causes for the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger in January 1986.

China Completes Simulated Shenzhou Flight
February 26

China’s Army Daily reports that a computer-simulated launch and flight of the Shenzhou 3 prototype manned spaceship has just been completed. The newspaper confirms that the mission is planned for a launch from Jiuquan Space Launch Center atop a CZ-2F vehicle during this winter, i.e. before March 20.
Editor’s note: According to analysts, the launch has been delayed from late 2001 by technical problems.

China’s Tracking Ships Complete Sea Trials
February 20
China’s fleet of Yuanwang tracking ships has reportedly completed a second campaign of sea trials to prepare the long-awaited launch of the third Shenzhou man-rated spacecraft.
Russia Proposes Jet-Launched Manned Suborbital Spacecraft
February 8
Moscow State Aviation Institute‘s Astra center is developing a rocket-powered suborbital manned spacecraft for space tourism which could be launched onto a suborbital trajectory from a Mikhoyan-Gurevich MiG-31S carrier aircraft. The vehicle would be released from the belly of the heavy fighter, performing a steep climb at 55°, at an altitude of 25 km. Under the impulse of a 20-kN rocket engine, a three-man crew could be lofted to an altitude of 130 km, and experience three minutes of microgravity before reentering the atmosphere and landing under a parafoil.
ISRO Studies Unmanned Recoverable Capsule
February 6
The Indian Space Research Organisation is developing a recoverable capsule to conduct microgravity experiments. The Microgravity Applications Recoverable Satellite (MARS) would be launched by a PSLV onto a 500-km low earth orbit with 250 kg of payload for missions of up to three months.
X-37 Has Wings, Will Be Dropped, May Fly
February 7

Boeing has completed the wings of the X-37 reusable spaceplane demonstrator it is jointly developing with NASA. The wings have been shipped from Boeing Phantom Works’ manufacturing facilities in Huntington Beach, California, to Palmdale, California, for integration on the X-37 fuselage, delivered earlier. Completion of the vehicle assembly is due in late 2003 in order to allow a first unpowered drop tests from a B-52N carrier aircraft planned by early 2004. Due to U.S. Air Force‘s announced withdrawal from the program in September 2002, plans to conduct orbital flights with the 6-ton demonstrator are currently under review.
Editor’s note:
The X-37 was initially due to conduct at least two orbital flights either onboard NASA’s Space Shuttles or atop expendable launch vehicles. The U.S. Air Force announced its intent to leave the program in September 2001.

Boeing’s ISS Contract Extended
February 7

NASA has awarded a US$936-million modification to Boeing‘s prime contract for the International Space Station. Boeing’s eight-year contract for ISS integration and operations was awarded in 1995 and will now run through December 31, 2003. Its total value now reaches US$10.7 billion.

Shuttle Refurbishment Moved to Florida
February 5
NASA has confirmed the long-expected decision to transfer the refurbishment and upgrade work on Space Shuttle orbiter vehicles from U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. With this move, NASA plans to save about US$30 million on each 18-month, US$100-million orbiter maintenance cycle by utilizing the existing orbiter processing work force to assist with the modification work. Under current estimates, 235 additional workers will be needed on each refurbishment cycle in KSC instead of 400 in Palmdale.
Editor’s note: Since the beginning of the Space Shuttle program in the 70s, all manufacturing and refurbishing work on the orbiters was performed in Palmdale.
NASA Considers Revamping CRV Program
February 5

As part of its plans to "refocus" the International Space Station program, NASA has decided to put the Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) program on hold, with no budget requested for FY2003. The program is not cancelled as US$20 million have been set aside from FY2002’s budget to support activities on the X-38 demonstrator. Among the options under consideration for the program restructuring is the use of the CRV “for crew transportation” to orbit. A study is underway under the Space Launch Initiative, regarding both the technical requirements for a crew transfer capability and opportunities for further non-U.S. contributions to the program. Its results are due by June 2002.
Editor’s note: A crew transfer capability for a CRV-derivative has already been proposed in late 1999 in the Crew/Cargo Transfer Vehicle (CCTV) Preliminary Requirements under the Phase 3 of the Space Transportation Architecture Studies. Transformation of the CRV in a full Crew Transport Vehicle (CTV) has also been studied by the European Space Agency as a possible follow-on to its involvement in the CRV program. ESA’s proposed CTV could be flown atop an Ariane 5 vehicle.

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  Space Propulsion

Snecma Tests PPS-X000 Plasma Thruster
February 26

Snecma has conducted the first test firing of the PPS-X000 stationary plasma thruster in its light propulsion facilities in Melun-Villaroche, near Paris. The thruster, developed in partnership with Russia’s OKB Fakel, provided 0.2 N of thrust. The PPS-X000 is designed to provide station-keeping on very large geostationary platforms, like the 7-ton-class Alphabus concept under study by Alcatel Space and Astrium.

Military Funds Sought for RD-180 Production and RL10 Back-up
February 25
U.S. Air Force is reviewing the possibility to finance the completion of a U.S.-based production line for NPO Energomash’s RD-180 engine said undersecretary Peter B. Teets, who also heads the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, in an interview to Space News. The RD-180 is considered a critical item as the engine for the core stage of Lockheed Martin‘s Atlas 5 series of launchers. In addition, the U.S. Air Force could foster the development of a new cryogenic engine for upper stages as a back-up for Pratt&Whitney‘s RL10 which is used on the upper stages of both the Atlas 5 and Boeing‘s Delta 4 and could ground the whole U.S. fleet of expendable launchers in case of failure. Candidates are GenCorp Aerojet AJ60 and Boeing Rocketdyne‘s MB-XX, under joint study with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.   
RD-180 and RL10

These financing could be part of a plan under study by the U.S. Department of Defense to support the two prime contractors of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program which experience difficulties in marketing their Delta 4 and Atlas 5 launch vehicles on a shrinking commercial launch market.
Editor’s note: A U.S. production capability for 100% of the launchers was required by the EELV contracts in order to ensure that U.S. government launch capability could not be dependent from a foreign country. A RD-180 production line was reportedly prepared by Pratt&Whitney in its facilities in West Palm Beach, Florida. However, the delivery of the first U.S.-built engine has been delayed many times, from 2000 under initial plans to 2008/2010 under the most recent estimates. In June 1997, Lockheed Martin Astronautics awarded a US$1-billion contract to NPO Energomash to provide 101 engines through its RD AmRoss joint-venture with Pratt&Whitney. The Atlas 5 also incorporates a payload fairing provided by Contraves Space, of Switzerland, and structural parts supplied by EADS CASA Espacio, of Spain. Similarly, Boeing’s Delta 4 includes tankage from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, of Japan, and extendible nozzles provided by Snecma Moteurs of France.

Snecma Investigates New Markets in Korea, Brazil
February 22

Snecma Moteurs‘ Liquid Propulsion Division is trying to expand its customer base and is discussing contributions to space launcher developments in both South Korea and Brazil. Snecma officials report advances in negotiations with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) which is in charge of the developement of a national space launch vehicle in South Korea. KARI officials are due to meet with their CNES counterparts on March 20. Similar talks could be conducted with India in the future, when this country join the Missile Technology Control Regime which prevents uncontrolled missile technology proliferation.
Editor’s note: The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is studying the KSLV family of launch vehicles, derived from its KSR series of sounding rockets introduced in 1993. A budget of 5.15 trillion wons (US$4.26 billion) over 10 years was announced in December 2000 to support this effort. Work on a US$115-million launch site is planned to begin in June in Woe Narodo (or Oenarodo), Island, near Kohung, Cholla province. A first launch could occur as soon as 2005. India is already producing and operating the Vikas engine which is based on an early version of Snecma’s Viking engine.

Vinci’s Fuel Turbopump to Begin Test Campaign
February 22
Snecma Moteurs will begin a three-month test campaign on the liquid hydrogen turbopump it designed for the 180-kN Vinci cryogenic engine by late March. The campaign will be conducted at Snecma’s test facilities in Vernon, Normandy. The pump, made of only 18 elements, includes a one-piece titanium rotor built using a new technology of isostatic powder compacting develop in partnership with Russia. It will provide 250 bars of pressure with a rotation speed of 90,000 rpm. The FiatAvio-built liquid oxygen turbopump will begin testing in June. The test campaign for the overall engine will be conducted in parallel in Vernon (horizontal firing tests, early 2003) and at DLR‘s center in Lampoldshausen (vacuum vertical testing, mid-2003). The Vinci engine is due to power Ariane 5‘s ESC-B cryogenic upper stage which is planned to be introduced by mid-2006 to enable a 12-metric ton payload capacity to geostationary transfer orbit.
Editor’s note: The Vinci engine is the first expander-cycle engine developed in Europe. Snecma and its partners (14 companies from 11 European countries, including Astrium, FiatAvio, Techspace Aero and Volvo Aero) have agreed to complete the development of the Vinci engine under a fixed budget of €400 million, about 50% of which will be subcontracted by Snecma. The engine will later be sold to Arianespace at the same price as the current HM-7B flown on Ariane 4‘s third stage or Ariane 5’s new ESC-A upper stage. The program was initiated on behalf of the European Space Agency in mid-1998 and received its final approval in November 2001 at ESA’s ministerial council in Edinburgh.
Aerojet Completes New Engine Test Facility
February 11
GenCorp Aerojet has completed construction of a new test facility for engines fed with hydrogen peroxide (non toxic) propellants. The facility will be used to test subscale components of the Advanced Reusable Rocket Engine (ARRE) under development by Aerojet for U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory‘s Space Maneuver Vehicle as well as to test the Liquid Booster System, a pump-fed peroxide engine under development for U.S. Army‘s Scud-lookalike target vehicles. The facility can test engines with high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide at sea level conditions but future upgrades will include a vacuum testing chamber.
India Test Fires Cryogenic Engine
February 9

The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully conducted a 10-second hot firing test of the indigenous cryogenic engine developed under the Cryogenic Upper Stage Program (CUSP) at its Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The program suffered a major delay after a failed firing attempt on February 16, 2000, which was aborted after 15 seconds due to due to a leak of helium from a punctured tube which prevented liquid hydrogen supply to the engine. Several other short duration firings are planned before going to long-duration trials.
Editor’s note: The CUSP engine is planned to be flown on the third test flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) in 2003. The second test flight and the initial operational flights of GSLV will use the 12KRB cryogenic upper stage designed and supplied by Russia’s GKNPTs Khrunichev. In flight, the engine will have to provide 75 kN of thrust for 740 seconds. The certification process requires a qualification for 1,400 seconds of combustion.

French Initiative on Advanced Combustion
February 8
Snecma, the French National Office for Aerospace Studies and Research (Onera) and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) have signed a convention for a five-year Advanced Combustion Initiative (Inca). The objective of the €100-million effort is to improve ‘cross fertilization’ of ideas between the different expertise of the partners in order to favor technological progress and breakthroughs in aerospace propulsion. Five main topics have been identified for joint research: combustion dynamics and control, injection and mixture, emissions and environment (mostly for airbreathing engines), and surface interaction and radiation. Six units of Snecma, five departments of Onera and 15 laboratories of CNRS are involved in the project. The cooperation is opened to other European motorists and research centers.
Mascotte test bench for cryogenic combustion studies (Onera)
Plasma Thrusters for Attitude Control
February 8
NASA reports that Pulsed Plasma Thrusters developed by Glenn Research Center have been used for accurate attitude control on the EO-1 experimental Earth observation satellite. The PPTs use solid Teflon as fuel. Electrical pulses turn Teflon into electrically charged gas which is accelerated by elctromagnetic forces to create microthrust (90 to 860 µN).
Editor’s note:
PPTs are considered for high accuracy pointing and constellation maintenance of future NASA and U.S. Air Force projects such as the Terrestrial Planet Finder observatory or the TechSat 21 constellation.
Artemis on Final Trip to GEO
February 1st

ESA‘s Artemis advanced communications satellite will resume its maneuvers to reach the geostationary orbit on February 5, using its onboard Astrium ion thrusters to increase its altitude. The maneuver will take six months to complete and will leave enough propellant for only 5 years of operational lifetime.

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Cape Canaveral Tracking Network Upgrade Delayed
February 25

The introduction of an upgraded telemetry and tracking system at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been delayed indefinitely due to some problems encountered during early testing. The system was not able to provide good quality data during initial test runs conducted since November 2001. Tests on actual space launches have been postponed from March to June. The new system will be declared operational when it has successfully been able to handle tracking and telemetry data from the actual launches of an expendable launch vehicle, a NASA Space Shuttle and a U.S. Navy sea-launched ballistic missile.
Editor’s note: This new system is under development by Lockheed Martin Mission System, under the U.S. Air Force Range Standardization and Automation Phase 2 program, and by ITT Industries Systems Division on behalf of the U.S. Air Force Spacelift Range System program. It is due to replace the current aging network which has been in use since the 1970s, allowing quicker reconfiguration of the launch site between missions.

Russia Claims to Progress on Christmas Spaceport Project
February 6
An Aurora launch vehicle could be launched from the Asia Pacific Space Center, on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, in late 2004 or early 2005, depending on the success of ongoing talks with Australia according to Rosaviakomos. One intergovernmental agreement has been signed between Russia and Australia on cooperation in space for peaceful purposes. More agreements and commercial contracts between the partners are still under negotiation, including an intergovernmental agreement on the protection of Russian technologies. In order to prevent technology transfers to Australia, all technical material for the site and the launch vehicles will be built in Russia and operated by Russian personel.
Editor’s note: Regular announcements on the progress of this project are to be expected in the coming months as Russia increases its pressure on its European partners for a decision regarding the building of a Soyuz launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana. ESA members are expected to give a final decision on the topic in June. Several countries, including Germany, Italy and Belgium, are opposing the deal.


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Snecma Creates Solid Propulsion Subsidiary
February 28

Snecma Moteurs‘ shareholders have approved the incorporation of a subsidiary, Snecma Propulsion Solide (SPS), to take over its establishment in Le Haillan, near Bordeaux. SPS will provide solid propulsion systems for Ariane 5‘s solid booster stages, France’s M45 and M51 sea-launched ballistic missiles and tactical missiles. It will also produce thermostructural composite materials for aerospace applications. SPS will be Snecma’s element in the future Herakles joint-venture with Groupe SNPE which will discuss the inception of its own subsidiary, SNPE Matériaux Energétiques (SME), on March 6.
Editor’s note: The new French government to be designated by the presidential and legislative elections in May-June is expected to announce the end of its monopoly on "powders and explosives" in order to enable the incorporation of Herakles. The joint venture will first take over 20% of both SPS and SME in late 2002. It will then increase its shareholding to 51% by early 2003 and to 100% in 2004.

ICC Panel Confirms Termination of Loral/Alcatel Alliance
February 25

Loral Space & Communications announces that an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration panel has confirmed the validity of Space System/Loral‘s termination of its satellite manufacturing alliance with Alcatel Space, effective February 22, 2002. Loral gave the required 1-year notice of the agreement termination on February 22, 2001. Alcatel contested the validity of the notice and asks for at least US$367 million in damages from Loral. According to Alcatel, Loral violated certain provisions of the agreements regarding the exchange of information, as well as other procedural or administrative provisions. An injunction had earlier been issued by a New York court at Alcatel’s request and been confirmed by a U.S. appeals court. The issue will not be settled until late this year according to both company officials.
Editor’s note: Loral teamed with Alcatel Space, Aerospatiale Satellites (now part of Alcatel), Alenia Spazio and Deutsche Aerospace (now part of Astrium) in 1991/1992 to form the Space Systems/Alliance. All partners withdrew but Alcatel when Loral restructured its ownership in 1997. Loral reportedly wanted to end its partnership with Alcatel to pursue talks for a possible alliance with Lockheed Martin.

Northrop Grumman Bids for TRW
February 22
Northrop Grumman has made an unsolicited US$5.9-billion bid to take over TRW, a major contractor for U.S. Department of Defense‘s satellites and ballistic missiles programs. If the deal is completed, Northrop Grumman plans to sell TRW’s automotive activities to focus on the aerospace and defense business. Northrop Grumman proposed to pay US$47 for each TRW share, a 18% premium over the closing price of US$39.80 on February 21. Northrop Grumman would also assume about US$5.5 billion of TRW debt.
Editor’s note: Northrop Grumman’s bid was announced shortly after the unexpected departure of TRW’s CEO, David Cote, which resulted in TRW stocks loosing 5% in two days. TRW shares soared up 26% after the announcement of the bid.
Boeing Satellite Plans Layoffs Too
February 21

Boeing Satellite Systems plans to reduce its workforce by 1,050 in order to increase its competitiveness whle the satellite market is shrinking. Another 1,000 posts might be terminated in 2003 if the trend continues. Boeing Satellite Systems, the former Hughes Space & Communications, has about 9,200 employees.
Editor’s note: Boeing has 38 satellites on its backlog (excluding classified military missions), potentially worth some US$5 billion.

Snecma/SNPE Talks Resume
February 15
Snecma and Groupe SNPE have officially resumed talks regarding their solid propulsion joint-venture Herakles. The new company could be incorporated during the third quarter. Within one year, it is expected to take over more than 50% of the solid propulsion subsidiaries of the two partners.
Editor’s note: Talks had been interrupted y mid-2001 as Snecma and Groupe SNPE due to a disagreement on the value of the two businesses. Snecma will shortly consolidate its solid propulsion activities into a single entity while SNPE is expected to initiate a similar move in early March.
BAe Executive Proposes Astrium Break-up
February 14
Astrium should be divided between its two shareholders according to BAe Systems plc‘s COO Mike Turner. BAe, which owns 25% of Astrium would like to take over the ground stations and satellite operations business and leave the satellite and launcher manufacturing units as well as the space infrastructure activities to EADS which owns the remaining 75%. BAe and EADS are currently negotiating the restructuring of their Astrium joint-venture to consolidate its launcher activities with those of EADS Launch Vehicles.
Editor’s note: Astrium was formed in May 2000 by the merger of Matra Marconi Space (owned 51% by Aerospatiale Matra and 49% by BAe) with the space activities of Daimler Benz Aerospace (DASA). Aerospatiale Matra and DASA merged in July 2000 to form EADS with Spain’s CASA. BAe’s share in Astrium comes from the former Marconi Space which merged with France’s Matra Espace in 1990. British Aerospace Space Systems was acquired by Matra Marconi Space in 1994 and its activities within Astrium are no longer related to BAe. Actually, BAe Systems is teaming with Lockheed Martin Space Systems to compete against Astrium Ltd for the Skynet 5 British military communication satellite system.
SNPE Moves Forward on Herakles
February 7
Groupe SNPE‘s executive board will hold an extraodinary meeting on March 6 to approve a restructuring of its solid propulsion chemicals business into a single entity in preparation for the incorporation of its Herakles solid propulsion joint-venture with Snecma, according to French business daily Les Echos.
Editor’s note:
Snecma will shortly create the Snecma Propulsion Solide subsidiary to take over all of its own solid propulsion business. At first Herakles will own 20% of each of the two subsidiaries. These shares will be increased to 50% in early 2003.
Alcatel Confirms Workforce Cuts
February 2

Alcatel Space has confirmed its plans to reduce its workforce by 450 employees in four of its facilities in France. The work’s council has agreed to cut 150 Alcatel positions and another 300 for temporary workers and subcontractor employees in Toulouse (communication payloads), Cannes (satellite buses), Valence (avionics) and Nanterre (headquarters). According to Alcatel, there will be no lay off, only early retirements.
Editor’s note: Alcatel Space, which employs some 6,000 people in France, has been affected by the cancellation of two large satellite orders, GE-2E and 3E announced in December by SES-Global after its merger with GE Americom. Another two GE satellite orders are also said to have been delayed.

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  Launch Market

Galileo Gets German Support
February 28

Germany has eventually agreed to support the financing of the proposed €2.95-billion Galileo global navigation satellite system which will be discussed by European Union‘s Transport ministers during their meeting in Brussels on March 25. The European Union is expected to fund a €450-million budget to complement the €528-million investment already agreed by the European Space Agency in November.
Editor’s note: Remaining objectors to Galileo are Austria, Denmark, Great-Britain, The Netherlands and Sweden.

Astrium to Build Skynet 5 Satellites
February 26
The British Ministry of Defence‘s Defence Procurement Agency has selected Paradigm Secure Communications, a joint venture of BAe Systems and EADS, to set up the Skynet 5 satellite system and deliver global military communications under a private finance initiative. A formal service contract, worth around £2 billion (€3.3 billion/US$2.8 billion) over 20 years, will be awarded by mid-year. Astrium will be in charge of building the Skynet 5 satellites, based on the Eurostar 3000 bus. The first launch is tentatively planned in 2005.
Editor’s note: Only two Skynet 5 satellites will be built, to provide a near-global coverage. No ground-based nor in-orbit spare is planned. Launches will likely be procured on a mix of European and U.S. launchers. The other bidder for this contract was Rosetta Global Communications, led by BT, Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space and BAe Systems, with a design based on the Advanced A2100 bus developed for Astrolink and launch services provided by Lockheed Martin Astronautics on Atlas 5 vehicles.
Kosmotras Proposes TropiSat
February 26

MKK Kosmotras is reportedly proposing to launch the TropiSat system for near-equatorial nations during the Asian Aerospace 2002 exhibition in Singapore. TropiSat-S satellites could be placed in highly elliptical orbits to provide communication services while the TropiSat-R system would be designed for remote sensing with two satellites in Sun-synchronous orbit. Cost of the TropiSat-S segment would amount to US$300 million for 14 years of operations. All launches would be conducted on Dnepr vehicles.
Editor’s note: MKK Kosmotras partners in this project have not been reported yet but could include Ukraine’s NPO Yuzhnoye.

CNES Approves Spot Follow-On, Mars Mission Studies
February 22

The executive board of CNES has approved further definition studies on the Pleiades remote sensing satellite system and the Premier program for Mars sample return technology demonstration. Definition studies will continue on the Pleiades project in order to allow a final decision to proceed by year end. Two 900-kg Pleiades HR satellites are planned for launch in late 2005 and 2006, on Rokot, Soyuz or PSLV. The Premier program, to be conducted in partnership with NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been revised toward a more cautious step-by-step approach. The aerocapture concept for the Mars orbiter has been dropped as mass constraints have been eased with a dedicated Ariane 5ECB launch in 2007. The Premier 07 orbiter will practice rendezvous without capture with dummy sample capsules in Mars orbit. The €500-million mission also includes the release of four Netlander surface probes. A MoU is planned to be signed with JPL in May.
Editor’s note: Built by Astrium, the Pleiades HR satellites will carry a high-resolution camera developed by Alcatel Space to provide 70-cm-resolution imagery with a 21-km-wide swath. A Pleiades CL with a widefield 2.5-m resolution is also proposed. Alcatel Space is prime for the Premier 07 mission. EADS Launch Vehicles and Snecma were competing for the now canceled aerocapture shield.

Saudi Arabia Plans Observation Satellite
February 22
Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking U.S. support to develop and launch a civilian remote sensing satellite "to monitor the kingdom’s development programs and energy resources."
NASA Might Shelve Some Future Mars Missions, Again – Corrected
February 19

MSRM concept
Scientists involved in NASA‘s Mars exploration programs are due to meet shortly to discuss possible restructuring of future missions in order to cope with the lack of long-term financing commitment in NASA’s proposed FY2003 budget. Cuts are likely to affect the proposed US$1-billion Mars Sample Return Mission under study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in partnership with France’s CNES and tentatively planned for beyond 2011. Also under consideration is the cancellation of one of the two Mars Exploration Rovers currently due for launch by mid-2003.
Editor’s note: The joint MSRM project initially planned a first launch of a French-built orbiter and a U.S.-built lander in 2005 by a single Ariane 5ECA. CNES is currently preparing the launch of a rehearsal mission, dubbed Premier (French acronym for Mars Sample Return and Implementation of Experiment Network Program), in 2007. NASA has contracted with Boeing for two Delta 2/7425 missions to launch the MERs in May and June/July 2003. Other NASA missions currently scheduled are the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005, a Mars Scout in 2007 and a nuclear-powered Mars Smart Lander in 2009. Up to 10 -SRM flights were considered for next decade.
Indian University Prepares Microsat
February 15
The Indian Space Research Organisation is teaming with the Anna University in Chemnai, Tamil Nadu, to develop a 60-kg-class microsatellite which will be launched piggyback on a PSLV mission circa 2005. The spacecraft will carry a store-and-forward payload to conduct messaging experiments.
Globalstar Files for Bankruptcy Protection
February 15
Globalstar LP announces that it has reached agreement with several of its major creditors to restructure its US$3.4-billion debt. In order to facilitate this restructuring – which includes buying the shares held by Loral Space & Communications and Vodafone plc in several Globalstar entities – the company has filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Editor’s note: Globalstar’s Chapter 11 filing has been expected since an announcement made by the company in November  2001. Alcatel and France Télécom recently announced the withdrawal of their joint-venture, TESAM, from Globalstar. Eight Globalstar satellites remain in storage. Two Globalstar launch contracts are still held by Loral atop a Boeing Delta 2/7420 and a Starsem Soyuz-Ikar vehicles.
FCC Plans to Simplify Licensing Processes
February 14
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has proposed plans to revamp its licensing processes in order reduce apllications cost and regulatory delays. Proposed plans would be either based on a "first come, first served basis" or would include deadlines for spectrum sharing negotiations.
Editor’s note: Current licensing processes usually take 3 to 5 years before an operating license is issued. A 10-year delay has even been reported.
Eutelsat’s Boss Complains About Satellite Prices
February 13
Eutelsat may delay further satellite procurements as the manufacturing costs are too high. According to Eutelsat’s chairman & CEO, Giuliano Berretta, satellites and launch costs used to be on a par in 2000, but while launch costs have experienced a dramatic drop satellite manufacturing costs have increased by about 20%. Currently, Eutelsat is planning to procure an Hot Bird 8 direct broadcasting satellite but may delay any firm contract decision unless lower prices are proposed.
Editor’s note: Recent Eutelsat launch contracts include flights on three new launch vehicles – Arianespace‘s Ariane 5ECA, Lockheed Martin‘s Atlas 5 and Boeing‘s Delta 4 – presumably procured at low cost.
India Plans New Spy Sats
February 13
India plans to launch at least four high-resolution remote sensing satellites for military and dual purposes through 2005 according to several reports by Hindustan Times. The success of the Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), launched on October 22, 2001, and providing 1-m-resolution imagery. The planned satellites include the Indian Space Research Organisation‘s Cartosat 1 in late 2002 and Cartosat 2 in 2003, both to be flown on PSLV. Also announced is a "space-based surveillance satellite" with a 50-cm ground resolution.
ESA Taps Astrium for CryoSat
February 8
The European Space Agency has awarded a €70-million contract to Astrium for prime contractorship on the first of its Earth Explorers missions, the CryoSat polar sea ice monitoring satellite. The 750-kg spacecraft is due for launch into polar orbit (720 km, 92°) in April 2004.
Editor’s note: Reference launch systems for the mission are Eurockot Launch ServicesRokot and MKK KosmotrasDnepr. Total cost of the mission aounts to about €140- million.
Galileo in Trouble Again
February 7

The European Commission has failed to convince delegations from states reluctant to the proposed €2.95-billion Galileo global navigation satellite system to invest in the system. During a private meeting, representants from the transportation ministries of Great-Britain, the Netherlands and Germany refused to contribute to an initial €450-million budget to complement the €528-million investment already agreed by the European Space Agency in November. At the same time, the European Parliament gave its support to the project but voted against the Commission’s plans for a public-private partnership to run the project.
Editor’s note:
France, Spain and Italy, the major supporters of the program, are reportedly considering a multilateral agreement which would leave the European Union outside of the program. The Galileo system is planned to provide better positioning accuracy than the U.S. Department of Defense‘s Global Positioning System and allow Europe to be self-dependent for navigational issues. The 21 to 38 satellites of the Galileo constellation are planned for launch from 2003/2004 through 2008.

SBIRS Constellations in Jeopardy
February 7
The U.S. Department of Defense is reportedly considering the restructuring of the U.S. Air Force‘s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) for early warning. An ongoing review of the SBIRS-High program, led by Lockheed Martin, will be completed by late April. SBIRS-High is a four-satellite geostationary constellation to replace the current TRW-built Defense Support Program system. It has gone through significant cost overruns and Lockheed Martin and its partner Northrop Grumman expect a US$85-million restructuring to keep the program on track. A US$814.9-million budget has been requested to support the program in FY2003. At the same time, the SBIRS-Low program has been delayed by two years and might be cancelled, according to the latest budget requests. This low-Earth orbit constellation, with 20 to 30 satellites, is due to provide midcourse tracking of ballistic missile in order to enable their interception by missile defense systems.
SBIRS-High satellite

Editor’s note: The SBIRS-High satellites are based on Lockheed Martin’s A2100 satellite bus. They are currently manifested for launch atop one Boeing Delta 4s and two Lockheed Martin Atlas 5s. Two teams are in competition for SBIRS-Low. One is led by TRW and includes Raytheon and Northrop Grumman while the other is led by Spectrum Astro with Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing as its partners. All launches are expected on Delta 4s frm Vandenberg AFB, California.

Hispasat Inks Amazonas Contract With Astrium
February 6
As announced in December, Hispasat has signed a contract with Astrium for the manufacturing and test of its Amazonas communication satellite. The 4,500-kg spacecraft will be based on Astrium’s Eurostar 3000S bus and will carry 32 Ku-band and 19 C-band transponders. Launch is tentatively planned in early 2004 on a launch vehicle to be selected later. The satellite will operate from a Brazilian geostationary slot at 61°West.
Editor’s note:
Total budget for the Amazonas procurement, including launch and insurance, amounts to about €290 million.
Agrani Gets U.S. Export License
February 4

The U.S. State Department has issued an export license for Agrani 2, an Alcatel Space-built satellite including U.S. components and intended to be sold to Essel Group’s Agrani Satellite Services Ltd. of India. This Spacebus 3000-type spacecraft is due for launch in 2003, by an Arianespace Ariane 5 vehicle or a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS provided by International Launch Services. Total cost of the project, which has been delayed 12 months by U.S. licensing issues, is estimated at US$250 million.
Editor’s note: The recent news that Agrani 2 might fly on an Atlas 2AS contradicts earlier reports that all remaining Atlas 2 vehicles have already been assigned. However, ILS might be restructuring its launch backlog. Agrani 2 is the former Thaicom 4 satellite which has been in storage at Alcatel Space’s facilities in Cannes since 1997. The spacecraft had been built under an option to the Thaicom 3 procurement contract with Shinawatra Satellite (now Shin Satellite) and will be modified with 24 C-band and 14 Ku-band transponders to provide direct broadcasting, Internet access and other communication services to India and surrounding regions. As Afro-Asian Satellite Communications Ltd. (ASC), Agrani had ordered two HS-601-class satellites for mobile communication services from Hughes Space & Communications (now Boeing Satellite Systems) in January 1995. The US$700-million deal fell short has ASC could not raise the necessary funding. In May 1998, ASC signed a contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems for a single A2100AX satellite but again the deal did not materialize despite backing financial institutions led by the Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) as the U.S. State Department denied to issue an export license for the satellite.

Teledesic Taps Alenia as New Prime
February 1st
Teledesic LLC has selected Alenia Spazio as its latest prime contractor for the latest version of its proposed satellite system for mobile broadband communications. An agreement was signed for the procurement of the first two Ka-band satellites. Alenia’s final competitor was Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. The redesigned Teledesic system is now composed of 30 medium-Earth orbit satellites. A first series of 12 satellites will provide initial continuous coverage on selected areas of the world and a further 18 will ensure global service capability. No information has been released yet on the technical characteristics of the satellites and no deployment date either. Teledesic is reportedly negotiating with Alenia as well as other manufacturers for the production of the remainder of the constellation. The first series of 12 satellites is expected to cost less than US$1 billion.
Editor’s note: With this announcement, Teledesic hopes to retain its operating licenses from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, although multiple redesigns should have turned them obsolete. Previous prime contractors for the Teledesic system were Boeing (formerly Rockwell) in 1997-1998 and Motorola SSTG in 1999-2000. During the same period, the constellation design decreased from 840 active satellites to 288 and later to about 120.

Two earlier concepts for Teledesic’s satellites

According to sources, Alenia will develop the spacecraft on the basis of its Prima small satellite bus. Teledesic currently holds six “firm” launch contracts with International Launch Services for three Atlas 5 and three Proton M flights but these are unilkely to be use to loft the pair of 500-1,000-kg class satellites. Alenia is also leading development of a competing geostationary system, EuroSkyWay, partly supported by the European Space Agency.

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  Agencies and Governments

India and Brazil to Cooperate in Space
February 28

The Indian Space Research Organisation and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) signed a memorandum of understanding regarding their cooperation in satellite and sounding rocket programs for space research and applications.

Russian Space Industry Made Money in 10 Years
February 20
Russian space industry’s turnover for the last 10 years exceeds US$3.5 billion according to Rosaviakosmos. This amount reportedly allowed to preserve the sector despite the lack of foreign investment in Russian industrial companies involved in space activities.
NASA’s Budget Request Issued
February 4
The U.S. administration is requesting a US$15-billion budget for NASA in FY2003 with a new emphasis on science and technology basics and reduced funding for the International Space Station and Space Shuttle programs. Advanced Space Transportation programs are the big winners with more than 50% of increase (62.6% for the Space Launch Initiative alone). However, this progression was planned at the inception of the program. As previously announced, a US$950-million, five-year effort on space nuclear reactors is proposed, with an initial budget of US$125 million, in order to provide electrical power for ion propulsion systems on future deep space probes. Although the budget for science missions could see a 19% growth, both the Pluto-Kuiper Express probe and the Europa Orbiter missions are cancelled. Instead, a new planetary exploration program, ‘New Frontiers’, is introduced to cover missions in the US$650-million budget class, i.e. twice the size of the current Discovery missions, with a yearly budget of about US$240 million from FY2005 on. This draft budget will be discussed by the U.S. Congress in September and October.
Abstracts of NASA’s Budget Request for FY2003 (in million of US$)
 Advanced Space Transportation
 2nd Generation RLV
Space Launch Initiative. CDR of a prototype system in July 2003.
 Space Transportation &
 Launch Technology
3rd Generation RLV: review of hypersonic propulsion systems.
 Space Shuttle
 Flight Hardware
This budget supports four flights in FY2003 and five in FY2004 with an average of four flights per year on the following years, dedicated to ISS servicing.
 Ground Operations
 Flight Operations
 Program Integration
 HSF Payload & ELV Support
 Payload Carriers & Support
Preparation of Space Shuttle payloads.
 ELV Mission Support
Support to the launch of 9 primary and 1 secondary payloads.
 Investment & Support
 Rocket Propulsion
 Test Support
 Space Science
 New Frontiers
New planetary exploration program.
 Explorer Program
 Mars Exploration Program
Launch of two Mars Exploration Rovers, preparation of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005), Mars Scout (2007) and Mars Smart Lander (2009).
 Discovery Program
 Earth Science
 Earth Observing System
Preparation of the launches of Aura, Calipso-Cena and Cloudsat in 2004.  
 Earth Explorers
 Space Station
Preparation of remaining U.S. elements of ISS.
 Crew Return Vehicle
Program on hold (not cancelled).
Editor’s note: With the cancellation of the Pluto-Kuiper Express probe, there is no longer any chance to visit Pluto before its tiny atmosphere freezes over for about 200 years.
References: NASA’s FY2003 budget summary (pdf, 24 kb). Budget narratives for aerospace technology (pdf, 16 kb), human space flight
(pdf, 20 kb), space science (pdf, 16 kb) and Earth science (pdf, 16 kb). Overall performance plan (pdf, 2.6 Mb).
Missile Defense Tops U.S. Military Space Budget for FY2003
February 4
The U.S. administration is requesting US$396.1 billion for military spendings in FY2003, i.e. a 13% increase from this year. This includes a US$7.8-billion budget for the Missile Defense Agency. In all US$8.6 billion are sought for missile defense programs with an objective to raise this figure to US$11 billion by FY2007. The budget request for the Midcourse Segment of missile defense (ground-based and sea-based) is in slight decrease, from US$3.76 billion to US$3.19 billion while the U.S. Air Force‘s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) grows from US$439 million to US$815 million. However MDA’s budget includes a US$138-million line for the development of improved targets and countermeasures (US$98 million in FY2002).
MDA’s PLV and GBI, U.S Navy’s Trident 2 (D5) and U.S. Air Force’s Titan 4, Delta 4, Atlas 5 and Delta 2
(LMM&S, Boeing, LMA)
Other budgets include US$626 million to acquire 12 Trident 2 (D5) sea-launched ballistic missiles, US$335 million to support heavy-lift launch missions on Lockheed Martin‘s Titan 4 vehicles, US$216.5 million for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program supporting Boeing‘s Delta 4 and Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 launch systems and US$48.2 million for the procurement of Boeing Delta 2 launch services (Medium Launch Vehicle/MLV-3 procurement batch).
Editor’s note: The missile defense targets funding covers plans to include future liquid propellant boosters under study by TRW and Orbital Sciences into the test program.

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