News of September 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

Software Glitch on Delta 4
September 27

Another problem was detected on the final countdown software of Boeing‘s Delta 4 launch vehicle during test of a debugged version. Boeing officials are confident that the anomaly, related to a ground-based equipment, will be fixed in time for a final mid-October launch reahersal. The maiden flight remains scheduled on November 3.

Arianespace Denies Massive Layoffs
September 27

Arianespace has formally denied a report by French aerospace trade newsletter Aéronautique Business regarding plans for a reduction of its workforce by up to one third in the first quarter of 2003. However, a lesser restructuring is studied to cope with dramatic reduction of the commercial launch market. Arianespace shareholders will discuss options at their next meeting on October 11.
Editor’s note: Arianespace currently has 300 employees in its headquarters in Evry, near Paris, and 80 in Kourou, French Guiana.

Nimiq 2 Moved to Proton
September 23

International Launch Services denies the report by Space News regarding an Atlas/Proton launcher swap to make room for the Hellas Sat 2 satellite for an early 2003 launch on top of the second Atlas 5/401 vehicle, The report annonced that ILS had moved Télésat Canada’s Nimiq 2 direct broadcasting satellite, previously due for launch on December 17 on the second Atlas 5, on a Proton launch in early 2003.
Editor’s note: ILS is currently in final negotiation with the Greek-Cypriot Hellas Sat Consortium Ltd. for Hellas Sat 2’s launch contract. Hellas Sat has insistingly asked for a launch before February 19.

Delta 4 Final WDR Set
September 23

Delta 4M+ (Boeing)

Boeing plans to conduct an on-pad fuelling test and countdown rehearsal of its new Delta 4 launch vehicle to check repairs on a faulty ground-segment software this week. The software is in charge of launch preparation in the final five minutes before liftoff and did not allow ground controllers to complet all tasks in due time during a previous launch rehearsal in late August. This final "Wet Dress Rehearsal," due to confirm all technical glitches have been solved, will be concluded with a 5-sec. Flight Readiness Firing of the Boeing Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine by early October in order to enable a launch by early November.
Spainsat to Fly Ariane 5
September 16

Arianespace has signed a launch contract with Hisdesat, the Spanish military satellite communications operator, to loft the Spainsat satellite atop an Ariane 5 vehicle in 2004. Spainsat is a 3,700-kg satellite built by Space Systems/Loral and carrying 13 X-band and one Ka-band transponders. It will be located at 30°West in order to replace the Seconsat X-band military payloads onboard the Hispasat 1A and 1B communication satellites.
Editor’s note: Hisdesat was incorporated in 2001 by Hispasat, INSA, EADS CASA Espacio, Indra and Sener. The contract value is rumored to be not more than US$45 million.

Latest Delta 4 Postponement
September 5

Boeing Launch Systems has delayed again the maiden flight of its Delta 4 launch vehicle from October 9 to November 3 at the earliest. This delay was decided after a ground segment software glitch was detected during the preparation for the second "Wet Dress Rehearsal" of the vehicle in Cape Canaveral.
Editor’s note: The Delta 4 was initially planned to fly in January 2001.

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  Government Launchers

Proposed Titan Budget Cuts
September 26

The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed to cut US$100 million in the US$335-million budget planned for the Lockheed Martin Titan 4 launcher program in FY2003 defense appropriations due to "chronic underexecution and excess end-of-year funds" of the program. If approved, this cut would cause the Titan program to run out of funds by May 2003 leading to the postponement of all further launches to FY2004. The affected launches would include that of a classified signal intelligence satellite recently postponed from December 2002 to June 2003, and of the TRW-built DSP-22 early warning satellite, which has slipped from November 2002 to the second half of 2003.

Titan 2 Destacked Again
September 22
The U.S. Air Force has decided to destack again the Titan 2G vehicle (G-9 ‘Cindy Mary’) due to loft the DMSP-5D3-F16 military weather satellite after problems were detected on soldering joints in one of the spacecraft’s instruments. The converted Titan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile will be removed from the SLC-4W launch pad in Vandenberg AFB, California, and replaced by the G-4 vehicle due to launch the Coriolis military satellite on December 15. The DMSP-5D3-F16 launch is now tentatively set for May 2003. Repairs on the satellite will cost US$4.6 million, bringing the total cost of the mission to US$459 million.

Titan 23G (LMA)

Editor’s note: The G-9 vehicle which was initially assembled in October 2000 for a launch due in January 2001. The mission was delayed a dozen of times due to a series of problems affecting the satellite, the launcher or the launch pad. The converted missile was already destacked in early 2002 to make room for another Titan 2G launch and reinstalled on pad in July. Coriolis had previously been delayed from August 2001 to January 2002 as a consequence of delays on other Titan 2 vehicles.

H-2A Launch Provider to be Selected
September 17

Japan will officially select its prime contractor to take over development, production and operations of the H-2A vehicle in November. The new prime, presumably Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, will be handed over all activities by the National Space Development Agency of Japan in 2005. Five more launches remain under NASDA’s responsibility.
Editor’s note: MHI is already prime for the vehicle’s core stages and cryogenic engines. This selection will probably lead to the take obver of all marketing operations from Rocket System Corp., the venture currently in charge of selling commercial flights on the H-2A. MHI is already Rocket System’s leading shareholder.

Sino-Brazilian Satellite Slips to 2003
September 14

The launch of the second China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS-2) has been delayed after two faulty components were detected on the satellite bus during pre-launch testing in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, China. The 1,500-kg satellite was due to fly atop a Chinese Chang Zheng 4B (CZ-4B) launch vehicle in October. The launch is now expected in the second half of 2003 as some 800 components will have to be checked.
Editor’s note: CBERS-2 was initially due for launch in late 2001. CBERS-1 was launched in October 1999 but its Wide Field Imager failed in June 2000 due to a short circuit caused by a faulty U.S. component.

Boeing Gets Funds for Delta Storage
September 13

Boeing Expendable Launch Systems was awarded a US$35-million modification to its MLV-3 contract awarded in 1993 by U.S. Air Force’s Space & Missile Systems Center for "launch operations and maintenance, post-production support and storage" for Delta 2 launch vehicles through September 2003.
Editor’s note:
This contract modification is likely to account for the slippage of the launches of two Navstar global positioning satellites into FY2003.

India’s PSLV Goes to GTO
September 12

The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully conducted the first launch of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle toward a geostationary transfer orbit. The PSLV-C4 vehicle injected the 1,050-kg Metsat 1 meteorological satellite on a 218 x 34,700 km orbit with an inclination of 17.7°. Metsat will later use its onboard thrusters to reach the geostationary orbit and psoition itself at 74°East. All previous six missions of the PSLV aimed at Sun-synchronous near-polar orbits.

FedSat Launch Agreement Signed
September 12

Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems (CRCSS) and Japan’s National Space Development Agency have finalized the agreement covering the launch of Australia’s 50-kg FedSat 1 microsatellite piggyback atop NASDA’s next H-2A, in November. The vehicle’s primary payload will be the second Advanced Earth Observation Satellite (Adeos 2). Two more microsatellites are also scheduled on this flight.
Editor’s note: The A$20-million FedSat program was initiated in 1996 to demonstrate Australia’s capability to develop microsatellites. FedSat 1’s launch was initially planned in November 2000, in time for the centenary of the Australian Federation in 2001.

Asteroid Could Be Rocket Stage
September 11

An asteroid detected in orbit around the Earth on September 3 could actually be a spent Saturn 5 third stage back into our planet’s neighborhood. The J002E3 object, currently on a chaotic orbit about 288,000 x 825,100 km around the Earth, was apparently captured when it flew near the Sun-Earth L1 libration point in April. It is likely to be the S-4B upper stage from the AS-507 vehicle, flown on the Apollo 12 mission on November 14, 1969, and injected into an highly elliptical Earth orbit after it boosted the Apollo Command & Service Module/Lunar Module composite onto its translunar injection orbit. It apparently escaped to solar orbit shortly after when it flew near the L1 point. J002E3 has about 20% chances of impacting the Moon in 2003 and a 3% chance to impact the Earth within 10 years.
Editor’s note:
All five S-4B stages on the Apollo 13 to Apollo 17 missions were voluntarily impacted on the Moon as part of sismology experiments. Built by Douglas Aircraft (now Boeing), the S-4B has a dry mass of about 13,300 kg.
Watch the orbital capture animation (animated gif, 1 Mb)

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  Small Launchers

Muses-C Launch Postponed
September 24

Japan’s Institute for Space & Astronautical Sciences has postponed the launch of its Muses-C near Earth asteroid probe from November 24 to May 2003 after an anomaly was detected on the spacecraft’s attitude control system.
Editor’s note: This launch will mark the return to flight of the IHI Aerospace M-5 vehicle after its launch failure on February 10, 2000.

KT-1 Maiden Launch Failure Confirmed
September 23

Industry sources have confirmed the loss of China’s Kaituozhe 1 (KT-1) all-solid 4-stage small launch vehicle on its maiden flight on September 15. The failure reportedly occurred on the vehicle’s second stage. The payload was a 50-kg educational microsatellite developed by Hangtian-Tsinghua Satellite Technology Ltd. (HTSTL).
Editor’s note: The second stage of the KT-1 launcher is presumably similar to that of the DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile.

KT-1 and DF-31
Third VLS-1 in December
September 20

Brazil’s Aerospace Technical Center‘s Aeronautics & Space Institute (CTA/IAE) is preparing the third qualification flight of its VLS-1 launch vehicle tentatively set for the first half of December. Shipment of the launcher’s elements to the Alcântara Launch Center was recently delayed in order to conduct some repairs on the launch site.
Editor’s note: Both previous launch attempts of the VLS-1 ended in failures in November 1997 and December 1999 due to failed ignition of a strap-on booster and of the core stage respectively. On this flight, the VLS-1 will loft an instrumented payload developed by the Brazilian Space Research Institute (INPE) and an Argentinean experimental nanosatellite.

ESA Taps Eurockot for CryoSat Launch
September 17

The European Space Agency has contracted Eurockot Launch Systems GmbH to loft its CryoSat ice observation satellite in June 2004. The 750-kg satellite, built by Astrium, will be launched into a 717-km orbit with a 92° inclination, from Plesetsk, Northern Russia, atop a Rokot KM launch vehicle. This will be Eurockot’s first launch for ESA.

KT-1 Maiden Launch Failure Rumored
September 15

The maiden flight of China’s Kaituozhe 1 (KT-1) all-solid small launch vehicle apparently ended in failure. According to Jonathan McDowell’s Space Report, the vehicle, presumably derived from the DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile, was carrying a 50-kg microsatellite and was aiming at a 300-km-high polar orbit.

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  Missile Systems

Proton Fuelled by ICBM Propellant
September 30

Russia has diverted liquid propellant from decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles to fuel commercial Proton launchers, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Defense. The heptyl and amyl propellant was initially planned to be processed into commercial products in a new facility, for which the U.S. DoD contributed US$95.5 million. However, as the facility building went late on schedule and the Proton launch rate increased in 2001, Russia changed its plans and the brand new facility could end up useless, the report reveals.
Editor’s note: Despite misleading comments in U.S. press, the ICBM propellant used on the Proton vehicles was not "funded" by the U.S. DoD.

TRW to Keep Looking After U.S. ICBM Fleet
September 11

U.S. Air Force’s Odgen Air Logistics Center has awarded a US$135.3-million contract modification to TRW ICBM Systems to continue keeping the U.S. fleet of Minuteman 3 and MX Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles in operational readiness conditions through September 2003. This activity will be conducted on behalf of the ICBM Prime Integration Contract awarded to TRW in December 1997.

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  RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems

ISS Crew Vehicle Revived in 2004
September 30

NASA‘s budget for FY2004 will include funds to begine development of a dedicated crew transfer vehicle for servicing of the International Space Station according to NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe. The space shuttle will be retained as the primary cargo carrier with up to 5 flights per year.
Editor’s note: In April, NASA unilaterally cancelled development of the X-38-based Crew Rescue Vehicle conducted in partnership with the European Space Agency and Germany’s DLR.

Energiya Proposes to Mothball ISS
September 26
According to its prime contractor, RKK Energiya, Rosaviakosmos encounters difficulties to meet its commitments to support the International Space Station and might propose to mothball the orbital and temporarily leave it unmanned. Under the intergovernment agreement, Russia has to provide six unmanned Progress freighters and two manned Soyuz ferries to support ISS activities each year. However, due to tight budgetary constraints, Rosaviakosmos has not been able to pay RKK Energiya, which had to contract loans to fund the missions and is now unable to repay a debt amounting to Rbl 1 billion (US$32 million).

Progress M1 freighter
(RKK Energiya)

Under the current funding level (Rbl 1.2 billion, i.e. US$38 million in 2003), Russia will not be able to provide more than the two Progress flights needed to reboost the ISS and prevent its uncontrolled reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Editor’s note: ESA‘s Automated Transfer Vehicle, which is due to take over the reboost mission from the Progress vehicles, will not be available until late 2004.

Japan’s Kibo ISS Module Delayed
September 10

Japan’s National Space Development Agency has informed NASA that its primary contribution to the International Space Station, the Kibo Japanese Experiments Module (JEM), will not be ready for launch until 2006. The Kibo module, composed of a laboratory and a logistics module, was previously due for launch in May 2004 and had already slipped to 2005. This new one-year delay is due only to tight budgetary constraints for Japanese administrations, according to NASDA. No technical difficulty has been reported on the completion of the 20,100-kg module. This delay will force NASA and the other partners of the ISS program to reshuffle the launch schedule for the elements of the station. As a consequence, NASA has asked NASDA to speed up the completion of the Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM) by one year, in order to have it available for launch in 2007. The CAM is provided by NASDA under a barter agreement with NASA for the free launch of the Kibo module onboard a U.S. space shuttle.
Editor’s note: This new delay will also affect the development and introduction of Japan’s automated resupply ship, the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV), and of the related heavy-lift version of its H-2A launcher.

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  Space Propulsion

SLI’s Cryo Engines Development to Be Halted
September 30

The first development phase of the Co-Optimized Booster for Reusable Applications (COBRA) staged combustion cycle cryogenicengine on behalf of NASA‘s Space Launch Initiative, was completed and the Marshall Space Flight Center, which conducts the program, has not exercised its contract option for the second development phase. The 2,650-kN engine had completed its prelimibary design review in June. Pratt&Whitney and Gencorp Aerojet have been paid US$57 million for this effort. Another US$68 million planned for further development will be saved for other programs. Boeing Rocketdyne‘s 2,900-kN RS-83 cryogenic engine is facing a similar fate when its first development phase is completed in May 2003.

Editor’s note: High-performance reusable cryogenic engines are no longer seen as a strategic asset in the SLI as architecture studies are now focusing on Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV) designs relying on hydrocarbon engines such as Rocketdyne’s RS-84, TRW‘s TR-201 or Russian engines proposed by P&W and Aerojet. 
SLI’s Cobra Engine Likely Cancelled
September 24

NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center may decide to cancel the second development phase of the Co-Optimized Booster for Reusable Applications (COBRA) staged combustion cycle engine under the Space Launch Initiative program. The program is jointly conducted by Pratt&Whitney and Gencorp Aerojet. The move would result from a shift in focus toward hydrocarbon engines as the new priority under SLI.

Antimatter Breakthrough at CERN
September 18

The first controlled production of large numbers of antihydrogen atoms at low energies has been performed by an international team of physicists using the Antiproton Decelerator facility at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland. Under the Athena experiment, clouds of about 10,000 antiprotons have been slowed down to a few millionths of the speed of light and mixed with about 75 million cold positrons to form atoms of antihydrogen. So far the experiment has produced about 50,000 atoms of antimatter. Such low-energies atoms will be used for major fundamental physic researches on matter/antimatter symetries.

Indian Cryo Engine Long Duration Test
September 14

The Indian Space Research Organisation has completed the longest test run of its indigenous cryogenic engine with a 1,000-sec. burn conducted at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test complex in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. This long-duration test also demonstrated higher thrust levels according to ISRO. The nominal burn time for the engine on the third stage of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will be 700 sec.
Editor’s note: ISRO’s cryogenic engine has been under development under the Cryogenic Upper Stage Program (CUSP) since 1994. It is planned to be introduced on the third qualification flight of the GSLV, tentatively expected in late 2003 or early 2004.

Kodama Reaches GEO
September 13

National Space Development Agency of Japan‘s Kodama Data Relay Test Satellite (DRTS) reached its final geostationary orbit using its maneuvering thrusters. The 2,800-kg satellite, based on Mitsubishi Electric‘s new DS-2000 bus, was successfully launched into geostationary transfer orbit by the third H-2A vehicle but was stranded into an elliptical orbit on September 13 after its bipropellant main engine shut off 103 sec. into its planned 204-sec. firing, presumably running out of oxidizer. The spacecraft, designed for a 7-year lifetime, has reportedly enough propellant to operate for 7.6 years.

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Ukraine/Brazil Joint Partnership
September 20

Brazil and Ukraine are expected to draft a partnership agreement regarding Tsyklon 4 missions from the Alcântara Launch Center (CLA), Maranhão, by late October. US$100 million will be invested into a new launch facility able to support 6 launches per year. Each country will contribute 50% of the total budget.

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Alcatel Space Plans Workforce Reduction
September 25

Alcatel Space has unveiled a restructuring plan including 400 layoffs in its facilities in Cannes, Toulouse, Nanterre and Valence in the first half of 2003 to face the collapse of the satellite manufacturing market.
Editor’s note: Alcatel Space currently has a workforce of 5,200 employees in France and 6,500 worldwide.

EU to Review TRW Buy Out
September 13

Northrop Grumman has officially notified the European Commission of its plans to acquire TRW Inc. in order to get clearance for the US$7.8-billion merger tentatively set to be completed by October 16. A similar review is also inderway by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Groupe SNPE Cuts Jobs in Toulouse
September 13

France’s Groupe SNPE has unveiled a plan to lay off 492 employees as a consequence of the partial closure of its chemical facilities in Toulouse, following the explosion of the AZF (Atofina) fertilizer production plant on September 21, 2001. Groupe SNPE was allowed to resume its least dangerous activities, such as the production of ammonium perchlorate and monomethyl-hydrazine for Ariane launchers in SNPE Toulouse, where 150 out of 450 employees will be offered early retirements and fine chemicals at Isochem. The Tolochimie plant, which used ighly toxic phosgen gas, will be closed.
Editor’s note: SNPE Toulouse is due to become part of SNPE Matériaux Energétiques (SME), the propulsion subsidiary of Groupe SNPE to be merged with Snecma Propulsion Solide in 2003 to form the Herakles joint-venture.

Alcatel/Astrium Merger Proposed
September 5

EADS has reportedly proposed to Alcatel to merge their satellite manufacturing subsidiaries, Astrium and Alcatel Space. Alcatel has announced that it ios not interested by the deal.
Editor’s note: This merger has been considered since the previous consolidation of European satellite manufacturers with the incorporation of Astrium in May 2000. Such a deal would likely need clearance by the European Commission since it would create a near monopoly in Europe. The European Space Agency has already expressed concerns thet having only one prime contractor left for its future satellite procurements would preclude fair negotiations.

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  Launch Market

Teledesic Gives Up Constellation Project
September 30

Teledesic LLC has officially asked Alenia Spazio to halt all activities on the two small satellites of a planned 30-satellite constellation for broadband multimedia services. According to Teledesic, current market prospects cannot justify the heavy expenditures needed to meet satellite manufacturing deadlines set by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to retain its operating license. While Teledesic claims to be looking for scenarios to preserve the ability to eventually deploy the constellation, a"significant tsaff reduction" is announced.
Editor’s note: Since 1990, Teledesic, the brain child of Microsoft‘s Bill Gates and McCaw Cellular’s Craig McCaw has been shrinking through various changes in the constellation’s design and leading prime contractor. The early concept was based on 840 active satellites and was decreased to 288 in 1998, then about 120 in 2000 and finally 30 in February 2002 when Alenia was selected to build an initail pair, part of a preliminary series if 12 satellites. Previous prime contractors for the Teledesic system were Boeing (formerly Rockwell) in 1997-1998 and Motorola SSTG in 1999-2000.

Alcatel/CAST to Build China’s DFH-4 Satellite
September 27

Alcatel Space has signed a partnership contract with the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) to develop and build the DFH-4 communications satellite. Alcatel will provide the payload module to CAST for integration into a complete spacecraft. The satellite, to be launched in 2005 by a China Great Wall Industry Corp. Chang Zheng (CZ ‘Long March’) vehicle will be operated by Hong Kong-based APT Satellite to provide communications and broadcasting services.
Editor’s note: Alcatel is already building the Apstar 5B satellite for APT.

MUOS Early Development Contracts
September 23

U.S. Navy‘s Space & Naval Warfare Systems Command (Spawar) has awarded two 14-month contracts, each worth US$40 million, to two industrial teams, led respectively by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, to begin the Component Advanced Development phase of Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), its next generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system. Lockheed Martin’s team includes Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space and General Dynamics Decision Systems with a design presumably based on its A2100 satellite bus. Raytheon’s team includes Space Systems/Loral, TRW Astro Aerospace and Honeywell and propose a designed based on SS/L’s LS-1300 bus. Both teams will work in parallel and a final contractor will be selected in January 2004 for a System Design & Development contract including the manufacturing of the first MUOS satellite, to be launched in 2008. The MUOS Program Production & Deployment contract will be awarded in mid-2006 and continue through 2023. MUOS will be part of U.S. Department of Defense‘s Advanced Narrowband Communications system and will replace the current Boeing-built UHF Follow-On (UFO) system.

Loral to Support APT’s Apstar 5
September 22

Loral Space & Communications’ Loral Orion satellite operating arm will share the development cost of the Apstar 5 satellite ordered in early 2001 to Space Systems/Loral by China’s APT Satellite Holdings Ltd. Loral Orion will reportedly invest US$115.1 million over 6 years to acquire a 50% stake in the project and reduce APT’s financial exposure.
Editor’s note: The Apstar 5 satellite is tentatively due for launch in the third quarter of 2003 atop a China Great Wall Industry Corp. Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B "Long March") vehicle. However, if the U.S. State Department does not issue the required export licenses to clear the U.S.-built spacecraft for shipment to China before September 30, APT and Loral have convened to look for an alternate launch provider. Loral is already looking for an buyer for the 4-year-old Chinasat 8 which could not be launched on a Chinese vehicle due to the U.S. ban on satellite exports to China. Loral will have to refund US$140 million to its customer, China Telecommunications & Broadcasting Satellite Corp. (CTBSC).

Three More WGS to be Ordered
September 20

The U.S. Air Force is expected to soon exercise options on its contract with Boeing Satellite Systems to order three more Wideband Gapfiller Satellites. Funding for the WGS-3, 4 and 5 spacecraft could be included in the FY2004 budget request.
Editor’s note: Under its current US$336.4-million contract, awarded in March, Boeing is due to develop and build WGS-1 and 2 and prepare long-lead equipment for WGS-3. These satellites are based on Boeing’s ill-fated BSS-702 bus. WGS-1 is scheduled for launch in early 2004 on a Boeing Delta 4 booster. WGS-2 will follow in 2005. Options for four more satellites (WGS-3 to 6) could increase the contract’s value to up to US$1.3 billion.

RapidEye Taps MDA as Prime
September 20

Germany’s RapidEye AG has selected Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) as prime for its 4-satellite constellation for commercial remote sensing and associated ground segment. Completion of this agreement depends of RapidEye’s abilty to raise a US$100-million funding.
Editor’s note: RapidEye had selected Great-Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) in January 2000 to provide the buses for the RapidEye satellites.

Energiya Unveils Mars Mission
September 19

RKK Energiya has unveiled a US$14-billion project for a manned expedition to Mars which could be conducted circa 2014-2015 "without any other participant country." Energiya’s concept for a crew of 6 would involve a 70-ton MOK interplanetary orbiter (derived from Mir’s core module), an electrical propulsion module ("solar tug"), a 62-ton landing module – including a rover, a shelter and a 22-ton two-stage ascent vehicle carrying a 4.3-ton crew capsule – and a cargo lander. Total mass would be up to 600 tons, with large solar arrays spanning 700 m to provide 15 MW of power and a cluster of electrical thrusters delivering 300 N of thrust. The flight would last two years with 30 to 60 days spent on the Martian surface. Launches would be provided by Energiya heavy-lift launch vehicles. To prepare for such a mission, Energiya would like to fly three demonstrators to test electric propulsion and large film-based solar arrays, two critical technologies for the Mars mission concept. These demonstrators would be flown to the International Space Station onboard Progress resupply ships, assembled and deployed by astronauts during Extravehicular Activities. The 225-kg Module-M demonstrator would use a 35-mN TAL-38 thruster to raise its orbit to 1,200 km. The 960-kg Module-M2 would aim at a Sun-Earth Lagrangian point, some 1.5 million km from Earth, with a 50-mN TAL-55 thruster. Eventually a 2,600-kg Mars Module would fly to Mars, powered by a 300-mN TAL-100 thruster.
Editor’s note: Another Mars mission concept, intended to fly a crew of six to Mars and back for US$20 billion, was presented by a Keldysh Research Center team in July.

Beagle 2 is Late
September 19

Great-Britain’s Beagle 2 exobiology lander might miss the flight to Mars on top of European Space Agency‘s Mars Express probe if it cannot meet a readiness deadline on January 15. Beagle 2, which is a nationally-funded experiment onboard the probe, is reportedly running over budget and behind schedule. The lander must be ready for shipment to Baykonur, Kazakhstan, by January, else Mars Express will be launched without it, atop a Starsem Soyuz-Fregat, in June 2003.
Editor’s note: ESA has lent €16 million to the British Open University to complete Beagle 2.

Canada Plans Contribution to Mars Missions
September 19

The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a C$0.4-million contract to MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to provide support in the definition of Canada’s contribution to European Space Agency‘s missions to Mars, and the NASA-led Mars Science Laboratory mission. Under this effort, MDA will conduct an assessment study of a laser-based sensor technology to land spacecraft on Mars as well as of the development of a robotic mining device to extract samples of the planet’s subsurface.

Vinasat Contract in Final Negotiations
September 17

Russia’s NPO Prikladnoy Mekhaniki is in final negotiation with Vietnam’s General Department of P&T for a US$200-million turn-key contract to build and launch the Vinasat communication satellite. Under the current plans, Vinasat would be based on NPO-PM’s Ekspress M bus and launched in 2004 atop a GKNPTs Khrunichev Proton booster. Its payload will incorporate 28 transponders.

EU to Review Proposed Eutelsat Buyout
September 13

The European Commission will review the proposed acquisition of Eutelsat by either Intelsat or PanAmSat Corp. and may ask for divestments in redr to clear the mergers. The Intelsat/Eutelsat combination would control 47% of the European market while tha PanAmSat/Eutelsat alliance would account for 37%. European regulations prevent any player from taking control of more than 40% of the market.
Editor’s note: Intelsat is reportedly offering between US$3.5 and 4 billion to take over Eutelsat.

TRW Gets 6th Extension on DSP Contract
September 13

TRW Space & Electronics was awarded a US$48.9-million extention to its 1996 contract for post-production support of its Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites through September 2003. This is the 6th such extension of the program by U.S. Air Force’s Space & Missile Systems Center.
Editor’s note:
Two DSP satellites remain to be launched. DSP-22 is tentatively due to fly on a Lockheed Martin Titan 402B booster in 2003 and DSP-23 on the first operational Boeing Delta 4H, also in 2003.

Hellas Sat 2 to Fly Atlas 5
September 12

The Greek-Cypriot Hellas Sat Consortium Ltd. has eventually selected International Launch Services to loft its Hellas Sat 2 satellite. The 3,450-kg satellite, built by Astrium and carrying 30 Ku-band transponders, will be launched atop an Atlas 5/401 vehicle in early 2003 and located at 39°East. It will be used to broadcast the 2004 Summer Olympics Games to be held in Athens. Hellas Sat reportedly requires to have its satellite launch by February 19, 2003.
Editor’s note: The Hellas Sat consortium includes the OTE Telecom. AvacomNet of Cyprus, the Cyprus Bank of Development, Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and Telesat Canada. It has already contracted with Deutsche Telekom to lease its aging Kopernikus 3 communications satellite to provide services from the 39° East slot in geostationary orbit before its license for this orbital position expires in September 2002. Hellas Sat’s initial plans included the purchase of two BSS-376-type satellites from Boeing Satellite Systems and their launch atop Arianespace Ariane vehicles in August 2002 and March 2004 for an estimated US$250 million. Under the new, revised plan, the Hellas Sat 2 is a refurbished "white tail" satellite bought from Astrium for a reported US$57 million. Total cost of the program, including launch and insurance is now less than US$170 million.
Backgrounder: The Hellas Sat 2 satellite was first contracted by Intelsat in January 1997 from Matra Marconi Space as Intelsat K-TV. In May 1998, the contract was transferred to New Skies Satellites, Intelsat’s commercial spinoff, and the satellite was renamed NSS-6. It was shipped to Kourou for launch on an Arianespace Ariane 4 vehicle in March 1999 and repatriated to Europe after a defect was detected on its solar arrays. New Skies then cancelled the procurement as its prospected Asia/Pacific market had collapsed while the satellite was being delayed. In February 2001, Intelsat bought the stored satellite again but required a Chinese launch on a CZ-3B as part of a deal involving Chinese operator Sino Satellite Communications Co. Ltd. (Sinosat). As the U.S. State Department refused to issue the necessary export license, the contract was rescinded in August 2001 and the satellite was returned into storage.

TRW/Ball to Build NGST
September 10

NASA‘s Office of Space Science has selected TRW Space & Electronics as prime contractor for its Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), which will be renamed the James Webb Space Telescope. TRW will be awarded a US$824.8-million contract to design and build the observatory’s primary mirror and spacecraft. Some US$200-million worth of work will be subcontracted to Ball Aerospace & Technologies which will develop the primary mirror system for the telescope itself. This 5,400-kg successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in 2010 by an expendable launch vehicle. It will be positioned at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point, some 1.5 million km from Earth, in the opposite direction to the Sun. The James Webb Space Telescope will carry an unfurlable sunshade and a deployable 6-m-diameter telescope mirror. Unlike Hubble, it is not designed for servicing. The program is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and includes cooperation with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
Editor’s note: NASA’s website names Lockheed Martin‘s Atlas 5, Boeing‘s Delta 4 and Arianespace‘s Ariane 5, as the proposed launch systems for the James Webb Space Telescope. TRW, which built the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO) was opposed to Lockheed Martin, builder of Hubble, on this contract.

SBIRS-High Contract Revised
September 6

U.S. Air Force’s Space & Missile Systems has awarded a US$2,152-million contract modification to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space to restructure the Space Based Infrared Systems High (SBIRS-High) development program through mid-2010. Lockheed Martin will subcontract 35% of this activity (US$753 million) to its Management and Data Systems subsidiary and another 35% to Northrop Grumman.
Editor’s note: Under the initial contract, awarded in 1996, Lockheed Martin was planned to deliver the first spacecraft in FY2002 and the full 5-satellite constellation by FY2006. A US$531.1-million contract modification was already awarded in December 1999 to delay the whole program by two years.

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  Agencies and Governments

CNES Budget Drops in 2003
September 25

CNES, the French space agency, will be allocated a €1,307-billion budget in 2003, a 2.7% decrease compared to the €1,343-billion budget for this 2002. This reduction might affect some of CNES ambitious projects such as the Premier demonstration mission for Mars sample return, currently planned in 2007 which could slip to 2009. This reduction might actually be compensated by a shift in payments of the French contribution to the European Space Agency.

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