|News of February 2002|
Dates are those of the events (in UT) when available.
|First Atlas 3B Successfully Launched||
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°.
|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||
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||
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||
|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||
|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||
is reportedly evaluating two options for the launch of the mothballed
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||
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||
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.
|ILS to Begin Marketing of Angara|