Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status Report #3

Frontier Status Report #3

June 17, 1996

Dale M. Gray

The space frontier advanced slightly during the week of June 17,1996. Rumors of mergers, advances in launch processing and three examples of rebound from disaster have entered the news. There is also steady, if unspectacular advances in medicine and space-related technology. The Russian election also added an element of uncertainty to the mix.

Rumors are flying that McDonnel-Douglas the makers of the DC-X and the Clipper Graham are negotiating a merger with Rockwell, makers of fine shuttles and other space related systems. This merger would give McD the corporate heft to tackle designing and launching the proposed RLV. It is interesting McDonnel-Douglas, a industry giant in aviation is positioning their entire company so as to be a major player in access to space. Mergers of former competitors to achieve an appropriate scale of operations is a hallmark of a developing frontier (FLATODAY).

In an age where rocket launches are routinely delayed, the next scheduled Titan IV launch from Florida has been moved up one day, due to efficient process flow. The launch is now scheduled for July 1 and so will miss the holiday weekend. It is a top-secret mission (or as secret as they can make it with FLATODAY on the job). This is the third Air Force launch of the system this year.

Despite problems generated by the failure of the Ariane 5 launch system, the ESA successfully launched an Ariane 4 rocket this past wee k (AW&ST).

The ESA is not planning on adding an additional qualification flight of their new Ariane 5 launch system. The decision to go ahead with the originally slated test launches was driven by a conviction that the cause of the June 5 failure of the first rocket will be understood relatively soon. The Agency is also under pressure to reduce its budget - - adding an additional qualification flight would require additional funding (AW&ST).

In a related development, the Lockheed Martin Launch Vehicle LMLV-1 (Formerly LLV-1 Lockeed Launch Vehicle) program which got off to an equally bad start last year is now slated to launch the NASA Clark and Lewis exploratory probes. The first launch of the LLV system last year had to be destroyed in flight. However, because the vehicle was designed to provide detailed telemetry of flight, the company has come to a good understanding of what went wrong and has convinced NASA that they have been able to correct this weaknesses in the system. LocKMart is so confident of their data that the Clark mission will be atop the next LMLV-1 to be launched, probably in November with Lewis to follow sometime next year (FLATODAY).

The Chinese too appear to be overcoming their problems associated with the disastrous explosion of a LongMarch 3B on February 15 that killed a number of people downrange - - the second rocket explosion in as many years. The Chinese are now preparing for three launches beginning in July. Hughes Space and Communications constructed the satellite to be launched in July. Two other launches have been scheduled later in the year (FLATODAY).

The recent shuttle mission of the Endeavor tested a thermal transfer system that achieved a record 932F. The system is used to transfer heat from various spacecraft systems and transfer it to radiating fins. The system utilizes potassium in three different states (solid, liquid and gas). The test system contained three heat pipes, a flight computer, control electronics and a power distribution system. The experiment is a small but important step in man's continuing effort to live and work in space (AW&ST).

Testing on the Z-1 truss for the space station has been successfully completed in a buoyancy tank in Huntsville, AL. The structure is a key component of the station and will house systems for communications and tracking, attitude stabilization, thermal control, and electrical power distribution. Testing established procedures for assembly and maintenance in space (AW&ST).

Shannon Lucid continues her work in MIR. This week she collected data on the immune system which becomes suppressed during prolonged weightlessness. The Humoral Immunity tests involves an injection of an immune system stimulant and measuring the body's response (FLATODAY).

The Russian election is completed. Boris Yeltsin and his communist opponent both came in at around a third of the vote. This will necessitate a run-off vote in July. Should the leadership return to the communist party, the cooperation between Russia and the US in the International Space Station and other areas may be strained (NBC, ABC, CNN).

Please feel free to comment on these developments, correct errors and add additional developments of the week. Expression of emotional reactions to the news and my comments is also sought (both positive and negative). Those unsure of my frontier model criteria may privately e-mail me for an explanation that has previously appeared in this forum.


>This merger would give McD the corporate heft to tackle designing and launching the proposed RLV.<

You make it sound like they need this to make the RLV. Not so. If the merger does not go through they still could be the eventual winner of X-33 and go on to build the RLV.

They are the maker of the Delta launch vehicle, most of Skylab, a good portion of ISS, Gemini capsule, etc. So they have an equal heritage in space vehicles as Rockwell except for engines (i.e., Rocketdyne). Rockwell Inc. is dropping their aerospace division because they want out--they are selling and asked MDC to buy.

(Robert Witholder)


Thanks for the correction on the McD - Rockwell business. I had assumed that they wanted to get bigger to handle upcoming bigger projects. Your comment is exactly the kind of feed-back I need to keep on track.


Dale, the McDouglas-Rockwell deal (assuming that it is for real--I can neither confirm nor deny) is not a merger, properly speaking. It is a purchase of Rockwell International Corporation's aerospace assets by McDonnell Douglas Corp. When it is all done, Rockwell will still be a separate corporate entity, sans aerospace, which would not be the case in a true merger. However, it will have the effect of a merger, from the standpoint of the space industry (except for the lack of Rockwell International's capital and credibility).



Thanks for the clarification on the Rockwell business.

BTW, I received your letter and am looking at schedules for October, will mail a reply shortly (I'd have replied sooner, but my daughter had her tonsils out yesterday).


Hi Dale,

Read your Frontier Status 3 the other day, and was most impressed with the breadth of coverage.

Could you please send me the Frontier Model criteria? Thanks.

Jonathan Nally
SKY & SPACE Magazine


Please forward the following to Jonathan Nally.

(The Frontier Model was inserted in this space.)

I hope this will be useful for you.


I just signed on with CompuServe and this is the kind of info I'm looking for. Keep up the good work. And thanks.

Jim (Rohrich)


Welcome to CompuServe and the forum. Things are a little slow now that it is summer, but it has been known to get quite lively in the winter when there are interesting things happening in the world of space flight.

Thanks for the kind words on my postings. Positive feedback helps keep me going while the negative feedback keeps me honest. I do want to say that it has been both fun and in a way - - easy. There are some very talented writers out there doing the hard work of gathering the information into the articles I have been working with. I hope you will be able to use my source notes to track down the original articles and get it from the "horse' mouth".

And I mean it when I say I am inviting comments. I miss things (it is a big world out there) and am not a "rocket scientist", so don't be afraid to put your 2 cents in.

I have just finished a draft of my frontier model as well and will probably down-load it into a library. Will let people know when I do.

Talk to you later.


Index for Frontier Status Report 1996

Home Tour Join! Contents Team News Catalog Search Comm
Sources of information. ASI W9900480r1.1
Frontier Status Report is written by Dale M. Gray. Maintained by by ASI Web Team.
Additional web formatting by Simone Cortesi. FSR is also archived on the web at
Copyright © 2001 Artemis Society International, for the contributors. Updated Sat, Oct 20, 2001
Maintained with WebSite Director. Internet services provided courtesy of CyberTeams.