|News of November 2002
Dates are those of the events (in UT) when available.
THIS PAGE IS IN WORKS !!!
UNCOMPLETE DRAFT NEWS COVERAGE
|Launch Table Glitch Causes Ariane 5ECA Delay
maiden launch of Europe’s Ariane 5ECA (V157), the uprated version
Ariane 5, was scrubbed in the final seconds before liftoff
due to a software glitch on the launch table (T2) on November 28
in Kourou. At 6.8 sec. from the ignition of the launcher’s Snecma
Vulcain 2 main engine, two pyrotechnic devices – known as
AMEFs, a French acronym for "chilldown igniters" – were fired
on the mobile launch table below the engine to burn the gaseous hydrogen
resulting from the engine chilldown process. At the same time, the two
cryogenic arms disconnected properly from the new ESC-A upper stage
and retracted on the umbilical mast. For an unknown reason, the ground
software managing this final part of the pre-launch sequence did not get
confirmation of the AMEF firing and interrupted the launch operations.
The launcher was immediately placed into a safe mode and is currently
being emptied of its propellant.
the cryogenic arms were disconnected, the upper stage is defuelled through
purge lines, a lenghty process which will take 25 hours to complete. The
launcher will then be rolled back to the Final Assembly Building and prepared
for another launch attempt. A firm launch date will be announced after
expertise of the table to find the cause of the software or sensor glitch.
Arianespace tentatively schedules to launch in the week of December
This delay might cause a short postponement of the following Ariane 4 flight (V156), scheduled on December 12, as three to four days are necessary to reconfigure the launch site between two launches. It will not affect the launch campaign for the Ariane 5G+ vehicle planned to loft European Space Agency‘s Rosetta probe on January 13 (V158). The campaign began on November 18 on the other mobile launch table (T1).
Editor’s note: Despite earlier reports, there was no problem with the cryogenic arms, the valves in the Vulcain 2 engine were not opened and the engine was not ignited. As a launcher initially planned for manned space flights, Ariane 5 was designed for launch aborts with on-pad engine ignition and shutdown as a nominal mode. The current event, although termed as "launch abort", actually did not involve any engine ignition. Only one Ariane launcher went in a launch abort mode with engine ignitions: the first launch attempt of the very first Ariane 1 in December 1979. The flight was successfully conducted a few days later.
|Proton Upper Stage Failure
Proton K launch vehicle failed to deliver its payload, the
5,250-kg Astra 1K
direct broadcasting satellite, onto its proper transfer orbit due to the
failure of its Block DM-2M upper stage. The upper stage, built
by RKK Energiya,
performed correctly on its first burn to achieve a low Earth orbit at
an altitude of 175.5 km. However, the stage apparently failed to
restart and the satellite was released on its parking orbit. A Russian
State Commission is being formed to investigate the launch mishap. International
Launch services, which sold the launch to SES-Astra,
will form a Failure Review Oversight Board to define corrective actions.
by Alcatel Space
for SES-Astra under a contract signed in 1998, Astra 1K is the largest
communication satellite ever launched. It was due to replace Astra 1A,
1B and 1C at 19.2°E. The failure will not cause any disruption in
SES-Astra’s services. The Luxembourg-based operator had contracted a €292-million
insurance coverage for the launch and early in-orbit operations.
Update: Due to its low altitude, Astra 1K will fall off orbit within hours. CNES, Alcatel Space, SES-Astra and insurers are expected to decide to boost it onto a higher orbit to conduct at least early in-orbit testing of some of the satellite’s innovative technologies, including plasma propulsion. According to technical sources, there is not enough propellant onboard, even including xenon gas for the plasma thrusters, to reach geostationary orbit from the present very low Earth orbit.
Editor’s note: This failure should not affect the future launch schedule for ILS missions as the next flight, tentatively planned for late December (but likely to slip to January), will involve a Proton M/Breeze M version, which does not use the Block DM stage, to loft Télésat Canada‘s Nimiq 2 direct broadcasting satellite. However, it should delay a Russian government mission with the Proton K/DM version with three Uragan satellites to replenish the Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass). This failure is also likely affect Sea Launch‘s schedule as the Zenit 3SL‘s third stage is a customized version of the Block DM. Sea Launch’s next flight is tentatively planned for mid-January.
|Delta 4 Maiden Flight Success
new Delta 4 launch vehicle logged a success on its maiden
flight, lofting Eutelsat’s W5
communication satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. The Delta 4
flew in its Delta 4M+ (4,2) version with a stretched
version of Delta 3‘s upper stage and its 4-m diameter payload
fairing and a pair of 33,200-kg Alliant
Techsystems GEM-60 strap-on boosters. The mission also marked
the first flight of Boeing
Rocketdyne‘s RS-68 3,315-kN engine. The launch occured at the
opening of the 70-min. launch window.
Update: Depending on sources, W5 was injected into a transfer orbit either 539 x 35,921 km, inclined 13.49° or 562 x 35,777 km inclined 13.6°. Boeing itself gave only a 539 km altitude for the perigee. The targeted orbit was 537.6 x 35,966.1 km, inclined 13.5° with an allowable dispersion of ±292 km for the apogee and ±.117° for the inclination (way beyond the standard 3-sigma accuracy: ±136 km and ±.02°).
Editor’s note: Delta 4’s second flight is tentatively planned for February 2, 2003, to loft a U.S. Air Force Defense Satellite Communication System 3 (DSCS-3-A3) spacecraft. this flight will introduce the Delta 4M version with no strap-ons. Up to five Delta 4 missions are planned in 2003, including the first launch of the Delta 4H version with two RS-68-powered Common Booster Core stages as strap-on boosters and the first launch from Vandenberg AFB, California.
|Delta 4 Maiden Flight Scrubbed
maiden flight of Boeing‘s
new Delta 4 launch vehicle was scrubbed after a series of
technical glitches forced to move the liftoff time throughout the 70-min.-long
launch window. The launch was called off several times during the final
countdown due to technical problems with the service tower’s swing arms
and the first stage’s C-band communication system, as well as due to wind
speed at ground-level temporarily exceeding the 30-km/h limit. The final
hold came at 2 min. 22 seconds to launch, some 54 min. into the launch
window, after the countdown software indicated that a fill valve had not
close properly, preventing nominal pressurization in a liquid oxygen tank.
A new launch attempt is tentatively planned on November 20.
Editor’s note: Any further delay would cause range conflict with Endeavour’s launch on November 23 and force a postponement to November 25 at the earliest.
|Lockheed Martin to Market Japan’s GX
Martin will take over marketing of Japan’s new GX (Galaxy Express)
medium-lift launcher currently under development. Ishikawajima-Harima
Heavy Industries (IHI), the GX prime contractor, and its six industrial
Heavy Industries, Kokusai
Sohko Kakubishi, Kawasaki
Heavy Industries, Japan
Aviation Electronics Industry and Fuji
Heavy Industries), have signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin which
will provide technical assistance to the Galaxy Express (Galex) consortium
for the development. The first commercial launch is tentatively scheduled
in April 2006.
Editor’s note: The latest design for the GX launcher (formerly known as J-1U or J-2) is based on an Atlas 3 first stage, with its NPO Energomash RD-180 engine, provided by Lockheed Martin Astronautics. IHI is developing a liquid oxygen/liquid natural gas upper stage. The GX will be able to loft payloads of 1,000 to 1,400 kg to Sun-synchronous or geostationary transfer orbits. Total development cost is around J¥60 billion with the Japanese government paying for one-third.
|Delta 4 Cleared for Flight
|Boeing‘s new Delta 4 launch vehicle has finally been cleared for its maiden flight, on November 19. Concerns about its upper stage Pratt&Whitney RL10B-2 engine have been lifted as the engine was manufactured in 1998 and is not related to a more recent batch built in 2002 which included an engine showing microfractures on a pump turbine blade after ground testing.
|Delta 4 Debut Slips Again
has postponed the maiden flight of its new Delta 4 launch
vehicle from November 16 to November 19.
The delay will be used to assess new data provided by Pratt&Whitney
regarding the RL10B-2 engine powering its cryogenic upper stage.
Microscopic fractures were detected on a fuel pump turbine blade following
routine test and evaluation inspections on an engine on the ground.
Editor’s note: The maiden flight of the Delta 4 was initially planned in January 2001. The vehicle was assembled in January and erected on its launch pad on April 30. It has been used for fueling rehearsals since August 1st with a 5-second ignition of its Boeing Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine on October 14.
Delta 4M+ (4,2)
|A welding defect in the RL10B-2 powering its upper stage was the cause of the launch failure of the second Boeing Delta 3 on May 5, 1999.
|MHI Takes Over H-2A Production/Marketing
Heavy Industries has signed an agreement with Japan’s Space Activities
Commission (SAC) to take over production, marketing and operations of
the H-2A series of launchers. MHI was the only bidder for SAC’s
selection. The takeover will be effective in 2005, with the 10th launch
of the H-2A, at no cost to MHI which will only pay about US$246,000 per
launch to the Japanese government as royalties for H-2A patents. The National
Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) which conducted the development
of the H-2 and H-2A vehicles, will remain responsible for the Yoshinobu
launch facilities at its Tanegashima Space Center.
|Editor’s note: The MHI takeover technically cancels a previously negotiated agreement between Arianespace, CNES and NASDA for mutual backup of Ariane 5 and H-2A launchers for European and Japanese government launches. MHI is a traditional business ally of Boeing for which it provides structural elements for its Delta 4 series of vehicles.
|EELV Cost Raised by Strap-on Boosters
|As U.S. military payloads got heavier, the cost of U.S. Air Force‘s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, under which Boeing and Lockheed Martin have developed the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 families of launchers, has increased by US$529 million according to a U.S. Department of Defense selected acquisition report. To accommodate these larger payloads, Boeing and Lockheed Martin will have to rely on thrust augmented versions of their vehicles, featuring solid strap-on boosters developed by ATK for the Delta and Gencorp Aerojet for the Atlas. A renegotiation of existing launch contracts is likely.
|Editor’s note: Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin designed the baseline version of their vehicles (Delta 4M and Atlas 5/401) to meet EELV specifications. Since the commercial market required slightly larger payload capacities, both later had to derive new versions with strap-on boosters. Possibly the whole development program could have been optimized if the U.S. Air Force had anticipated the growth in size and mass of its payloads and designed its specifications accordingly.
|South Korea Flies KSR-3
Korea’s Advanced Research Institute successfully flew its first liquid-fuelled
rocket, the KSR-3, from its Anheung test range. The 14-m-tall two-stage
suborbital vehicle, powered by a 120-kN engine, reached an altitude of
42.7 km and flew 84 km downrange before ditching in the Yellow
Sea. The KSR-3 is a major step toward the development of an indigenous
launcher, the KSLV-1, which might fly in 2005 with a payload capability
of 100 kg. Development of the KSR-3 was initiated in December 1997
with a budget of WON78 billion (US$64 million).
Editor’s note: KARI’s earlier KSR-1 and KSR-2 vehicles were powered by solid motors. The KSLV-1 is planned to evolve into the more powerful KSLV-2 (1,000-kg payload, 2010) and KSLV-3 (1,500 kg, 2015). An uprated KSR-3 with two liquid strap-on boosters derived from the first stage is also under development. KARI’s industrial partner in its rocket rogram is apparently Hyundai Aerospace.
|Third VLS Postponed to April
Aerospace Technical Center
(CTA) has set a new launch date on April 7, 2003, for the third
qualification flight of its VLS-1 national launcher. The flight
was previously scheduled for December 15 but a postponement was required
due to delays in the release by the Brazilian
Space Agency (AEB) of a R$5-million budget to complete the program.
AEB only received the funds in early November. Since September, the program
has received only R$0.4 million to prepare the flight. Two preparatory
flights of suborbital sounding rockets are due on November 24 and
26 from the Alcântara
Launch Center (CLA).
Editor’s note: The VLS-1 failed early into flight on its two previous launch attempts, on November 2, 1997 and December 12, 1999.
|Scuds Over California
Scud ballistic missiles were launched from Vandenberg
AFB, California, on November 14 and 25, on behalf of the U.S.
Missile Defense Agency. The launches were conducted under a 3-year
program to support missile defense in order to gather flight and signature
Editor’s note: No detail was given on the origin of the Scud missiles used on these test flights, which were described as 11-m-high, weighing 5,900 kg apiece and similar to Iraqi Al-Hussein missiles (i.e. R-17 "Scud B"). Several thousands of Scud missiles are reportedly deployed by more than 20 countries worldwide, including Iraq, Iran (as Shahab 1), Lybia, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. This was the first time a Scud was launched from Vandenberg. However, two Scuds were previously flown flown by MDA (then the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization) from Bigen Island, Aur Atoll, Marshall Islands, in February and March 1997 as targets for interception tests by the Patriot Advanced Capability 2 (PAC-2) air defense system.
|India Rejects Counter-Proliferation Pact Too
rejects the newly proposed International Code of Conduct (ICOC) against
ballistic missile proliferation, backed by Europe and the United
States. The Indian Ministry
of External Affairs criticized the proposed
agreement which does not make any clear distinction beteween ballistic
missiles and space launch vehicles and might thus question "the
right to peaceful uses of space technology." According to Indian
officials, previous counter-proliferation regimes proved inefficient.
India claims to be committed to maintaining effective export controls
and asks for "greater transparency in policies and practices
of countries in the area of ballistic missile technology."
|China Refuses Counter-Proliferation Code
has refused to join the newly proposed International Code of Conduct
(ICOC) against ballistic missile proliferation. The Chinese government
is opposed to a provision in the agreement, backed by Europe and the
United States, requiring signatory states to disclose upcoming missile
tests and to submit a yearly report on such tests.
|RLVs, Reentry and Manned Systems
|Canadarm Problems Might Delay Endeavour Flight
|NASA is reviewing options for its plans to launch the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station after its Canadian-built remote manipulator system was structurally damaged during an on-pad incident. The 15.3-m-long arm was hit by workers installing an access platform who tore its insulation and scratching its surface. The platform was installed to access a suspected leaking oxygen hose. the oxygen leak was the cause of the launch scrub on November 11. If the arm cannot be flown, the mission could be delayed to January or NASA could decide to fly Endeavour without its arm. The main objective of the STS-113 mission is to deploy the 12.2-ton P1 section of the ISS truss and this could actually be performed by the station’s own arm. The current launch objective is November 23.
|New SRB Separation Motors
Marshall Space Flight
Center is looking for an alternate source for the solid fuel separation
motors used on the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters. The current
motors are provided by United
Technologies’ Chemical Systems Division. A 26-month development and
qualification effort could be engaged later.
Editor’s note: Each booster carries four separation motors on its aft skirt and another four in its nose cone. The motors are approximately 88 cm long and 33 cm in diameter. Each of them delivers 89 kN of thrust for 1.02 second.
|Soyuz in Kourou Agreement Underway
European-Russian agreement on the building of a Soyuz launch pad
in Kourou will be ready within weeks according to French
prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. the French government is also
"optimistic" on finding a financing for the €250-300-million
project "by early 2003."
Editor’s note: The framework agreement will be discussed by ESA‘s council in December and could be officially approved by the European space ministers at an extraordinary ESA council meeting on space transportation in February. Breaking ground work would then begin by mid-2003 at the Malmanoury site, some 10 km north-west from the Ariane launch pads, in order to enable a first Soyuz launch from French Guiana by late 2005.
|New Job Cuts at KSC
170 aerospace workers will be laid off following NASA‘s
decision to cancel the upgrade of its computer system at Kennedy
Space Center. Lockheed
Martin will lay off 167 and United
Space Alliance another 50.
Editor’s note: The chekout launch and control system project was canceled on September 17 as it was already 5 years behind schedule and US$300 million over budget. Moreover, according to an independent review, it would have cost US$15 million more per year to operate than the current system dating from the 1970s.
|Intelsat Cancels Intelsat 10.01
has cancelled its order for the Intelsat 10.01
satellite from Astrium
claiming that delays in the spacecraft delivery exceeded 240 days. Intelsat 10.01,
a 5,700-kg Eurostar 3000 class satellite carrying 23 Ku-band and 56 C-band
transponders, was due for launch atop a Sea
Launch Zenit 3SL
in the third quarter of 2003 for a deployment in geostationary orbit at
50°W. Status of the launch contract is unknown.
Editor’s note: Intelsat 10.01 was ordered in January 2000 as NI-Alpha 1. It was then scheduled for launch in the 3rd quarter of 2002 to replace Intelsat 705. The cancellation, still under negotiation, is likely part of Intelsat’s policy to improve its accounts prior to its IPO as the expected market for its new generation of satellites – in particular Latin America for Intelsat 10.01 – is unlikely to match its earlier prospects. Astrium is still under contract to provide Intelsat 10.02, due for launch on a Proton M/Breeze M in late 2003.
|Astra 1K Raised to Safe Orbit
1K satellite, which was left into a low earth parking orbit following
the failure of its launch on a Proton K/DM3 vehicle on November 25,
has raised its orbit from 156 x 171 km to 217 x 362 km
to prevent an early reentry. Alcatel
Space, builder of the 5,250-kg spacecraft, is reportedly studying
several plans to save at least part of the mission. Astra 1K was designed
for 13 years of operational lifetime using either its Astrium
S400 bipropellant engine or its Snecma
SPT-100 stationary plasma thrusters for North-South station keeping.
According to technical sources, the redundant liquid propellant and xenon
gas reserves might be enough to reach an operational geostationary orbit
with still 2-3 years of operational lifetime left. In any case, SES-Global
and Alcatel will at least try to experiment some of Astra 1K new technologies
including dual deployment reflectors, cross-shaped solar arrays and plasma
Editor’s note: Although Astra 1K is stranded in an orbit quite similar to that of the International Space Station (in terms of altitude and inclination, not for its orbital plane), SES-Global does not consider the option of salvaging the US$280-million spacecraft with a shuttle mission to recover it or equip it with a perigee kick motor.
|Generali Pulls Out of Space Insurance
Generali SpA, once the largest member of the space insurance community,
has decided to withdraw from the space market, considering that the current
volatility and uncertainty within this sector is incompatible with its
strategy of sustained long-term development. Generali will maintain its
links with the space industry and might re-enter the market when conditions
improve. Generali has been involved in space insurance for almost 40 years.
Editor’s note: Although it was amongst the largest underwriting capacities on the space insurance market, in recent years Generali had the reputation of engaging only small amounts in space insurance policies.
|Malaysia/South Korea Military Microsat
will cooperate with South Korea in the development of its US$13-million
Aperture Camera Satellite (MACSat). South Korea’s SaTReC
Initiative Co. Ltd. which has been working on the
200-kg observation satellite since November 2001, was joined by
Technology (M) Sdn. Bhd. (ATSB). MACSat will be launched in 2004
onto a 685-km-high Sun-synchronous orbit, on an unidentified vehicle.
The satellite will reportedly have military applications. It will carry
a visible and near infrared imager with a ground resolution of 2.5 m
in panchromatic mode and 5 m in multispectral mode.
|FCC Reinstates Echostar’s Ka-band License
Federal Communications Commission has decided to reinstate one of
the Ka-band operating licenses held by Echostar
Satellite it revoked in July,
stating that the operator demonstrated it actually had met the deadlines
to build and launch its satellite system. The FCC reportedly took into
consideration "not previously presented" information
regarding the Echostar 9 hybrid C/Ka-band satellite under manufacturing
by Space Systems/Loral,
which will be launched to a geostationary slot at 121°W in early
2003. The license required manufacturing of the satellite to begin before
|XM-3 Needed by 2005
Radio might have to launch its third satellite as soon as 2005 as
its current fleet is exxperiencing a rapid decrease of its power. XM-Rock
and XM-Roll satellites, launched in XX, were both based on Boeing
Satellite Systems‘ BSS-702 bus, and featured advanced solar arrays
enhanced by concentrators. Due to a generic design flaw, these concentrators
have been damaged by fogging and the two satellites might no longer have
enough onboard power to broadcast 100 digital audio channels each by late
2005. According to Space
News, an option under consideration would be to colocate the two satellites
at a single slot and share the broadcasting mission between them while
the second slot would be occupied by XM-3, a third satellite built as
a ground spare.
Editor’s note: XM satellites were initially built to last at least 17 years. Even if they are colocated, XM-Rock and XM-Roll will have to be replaced before early 2008.
|SES Americom Completes Insurance Deal
Americom has finalized a US$1.3-billion insurance placement to cover
launch and 1-year of orbital life for six satellites to be launched between
January 2003 and late 2004 on three families of launchers. The deal, one
of the largest in space insurance, was reportedly negotiated by Marsh
at lower rates than the current market based on the high reliability levels
reached by SES Global‘s
fleet thanks to tight procurement and prelaunch control procedures.
More than 20 underwriters from France, Great-Britain, the United States
and Bermuda are involved in the deal.
|PanAmSat Cancels Galaxy 8iR Order
Corp. has terminated its order for a Boeing
Satellite Systems BSS-601HP satellite due to replace its damaged Galaxy
8i spacecraft. According to PanAmSat’s
10-Q filing with the U.S.
Security Exchange Commission, the order was cancelled because of manufacturer’s
default and PanAmSat will receive a US$72-million refund. Galaxy 8iR was
initially planned for launch atop a Sea
Launch Zenit 3SL
vehicle in Q3 2002 to replace Galaxy 8i for broadcasting services
over Latin America.
Editor’s note: PanAmSat’s customer for Galaxy 8iR’s capacity had rescinded its pre-launch booking. Galaxy 8i was launched in December 1997 and suffered battery problems as soon as 1998. In October 2000, it lost three out of its four Boeing Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS) thrusters resulting in a dramatic cut of its operational lifetime initially due to last till 2012 and now expected within months. Galaxy 8i’s activities have been taken over by Galaxy 3C, a BSS-702 satellite launched in June 2002. Sea Launch’s contract was signed with Boeing Satellite Systems and will likely be assigned to another payload.
|Shin Inks iPStar 1 Financing Loans
|Thailand’s Shin Satellite pcl has signed loan agreements worth US$390.2 million to finance its iPStar 1 broadband communication satellite. Two eight-year loans will be guaranteed by the U.S Export-Import Bank (US$184.5 million), to cover the cost of the Space Systems/Loral-built spacecraft, and by the French export-credit guarantee company Coface (US$80.7 million), for its launch by Arianespace on an Ariane 5 vehicle. The remaining US$125 million will be borrowed on a four-year loan from eight commercial syndicated lenders including Citibank and BNP Paribas. The loan clears the way to the completion of the 6.7-ton satellite and its launch by late 2003.
|Agencies and Governments
|Canada Supports Emerging Technologies
|The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a series of 26 contracts worth a total of C$7.4 million to support new technologies development for space applications. Among the innovative technologies supported by these contracts are a gyrowheel attitude control system developed by Bristol Aerospace Ltd. for the SciSat 1 satellite or a lidar-based automated planetary landing system developed by Optech Inc. and the University of Sherbrooke to equip future Mars landers.
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