Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status Report #112

Frontier Status Report #112

August 28, 1998

Dale M. Gray

Another rough week for the Americans on the high frontier. For the second time in as many weeks, a major launch from the Florida coast has ended in dramatic failure. International efforts proved more successful with a safe landing of the Mir 25 crew, the successful remote docking of the Japanese Engineering Test Satellite, and Arianspace lofted ST-1 into orbit.

Headlines of the week of August 28 include:

  • Delta 3 first launch fails
  • Mir crew returns to Earth
  • Ariane 44P places ST-1 into orbit
  • SpaceDev selects asteroid Nereus for NEAP
  • Japanese Engineering Test Satellite-7 completes 2nd remote docking


The Mir 25 crew along with Yuri Butarin entered their return Soyuz capsule and undocked from Mir on Monday. Two hours later a deorbit burn sent the capsule into reentry. The capsule landed near Arkalyk, Kazakstan at 1:23 am EDT on August 25. The Mir 25 crew, commander Talgat Musabayev, flight engineer Nikolai Budarin, logged nearly 208 days in space. The Mir 26 crew of commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Sergei Avdeyev remained on the Mir station (Flatoday).


Managers for the International Space Station are considering replacement of the habitation module with an inflatable module designed for Mars missions. The transportation habitat, or TransHab, would be a large balloon constructed of 17 layers of ceramic fabric, polyurethane, foam, polymer film and Kevlar and would be highly resistant to micrometeor strikes. Impact tests of the layered skin of the TransHab show it to be superior to 1 1/2 inch thick layers of aluminum. At a cost of $200 million, the TransHab would provide three times the space as the habitation module now under construction. The TransHab would feature three levels, cathedral windows, picture windows, penthouse gym, kitchenette with a 12 place table and six bedrooms. The bedroom walls would be separated by a two inch walls of water that would protect against radiation and noise. The 26,000 pound module will be folded for launch on the Space Shuttle in early 2004 as the last major component of the International Space Station. Pending the September decision, construction on the TransHab would begin in 2001 (AP).


After being delayed from its Monday launch by hurricane Bonnie, Boeing finally launched its new Delta 3 rocket. The new, more powerful rocket lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Station at 9:17 pm EDT on Wednesday, August 26. The guidance system for the rocket malfunctioned 55 seconds into the flight. The guidance computer sent erroneous commands to the three main engines, control thrusters and three of the nine solid rockets. Ten seconds later the rocket ran out of hydraulic fluid need to steer the boosters. One minute and 20 seconds into the flight, the rocket pitched over and began to break up from aerodynamic forces. This triggered the automatic destruct system at an altitude of 10 miles. Debris from the rocket fell into the Atlantic about 10 to 15 miles from the Florida coast. Analysis of data transmitted from the rocket have established a problem with the rocket's control system. The financial loss from the explosion is set at $225 million. Boeing hopes to resolve the problem in time for a series of coming Delta 2 flights and February launch of the second Delta 3 rocket (Flatoday).

The 3,863 kg Galaxy 10 satellite destroyed by the Delta 3 loss was built for PanAmSat corporation by Hughes Space and Communications Company. The satellite is based upon the HS 601HP platform and features 24 C-band transponders and 24 Ku- band transponders. It will be placed in the 123 degrees West longitude orbital slot where it will serve the US and Caribbean (Hughes).


An Ariane 44P rocket was launched from Kourou, French Guiana at 7:07 pm EDT on August 15, 1998. The rocket, with the four strap on solid rocket booster configuration, lofted the 3255 kg ST-1 communications satellite for Singapore Telecom and Chunghwa Telecom. The satellite was manufactured by Matra Marconi Space. The satellite will take its place at the 88 degree East Longitude orbital slot where it will serve the Middle and Far East. The satellite generates 6.5 kW of power to operate 16 Ku- band and 14 C-band transponders. This is the 109th Ariane launch and 79th launch of the Ariane 4 series rockets (Arianespace.


An International Launch Services Proton rocket is slated to launch August 30 from Baikonur. The SES satellite will be placed into the 28.2 degree East longitude orbital slot where it will serve the United Kingdom with digital television, radio and multimedia services. The Astra 2A on-board is a Hughes HS 601HP platform with 32 Ku-band transponders powered by 7 kW from gallium arsenide solar panels. The satellite has both chemical thrusters and xenon ion propulsion. This is the sixth satellite that Hughes has constructed for SES (Hughes).


Spot Image

The Spot Image France has joined with the China Remote Sensing Ground Station to form a subsidiary, Beijing Spot Image Co. Ltd. The new company will operate the Spot direct receiving station in Miyun, 100 km northeast of Beijing and to market the data. China has a growing need for geographic information in planning, resource management, agriculture and other areas (LaunchSpace).


Northrop Grumman

In an effort to cut $300 million in expenses, Northrop Grumman plans to cut an additional 2,100 jobs by the end of 2000. With previously announced cuts and some expected new jobs, the Northrop Grumman work force will be reduced by 8,000 to a total of 46,000 employees. The cuts have been caused by reductions in military and aerospace orders. The bulk of the lay-offs will come from the closing of the B-2 stealth bomber plant in Pico Rivera. Other cuts will occur at divisions involved with production of components for the 747 and the production of the Navy F-18. The financially-troubled company was expected to merge with Lockheed Martin last year, but negotiations fell through when the federal government challenged the deal (AP).


John Keathley has been named the director of government services for Teledesic LLC. In the position, he will help define requirements for the government to purchase Teledesic services (Launch Space).


Eurockot Launch Services GmbH has been selected by DLR, the German aerospace center, for the launch of two Gravity Recovery Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft. Eurorocket will utilize the Rokot launcher which is a refurbished RS-18 intercontinental missile that will be launched from Plesetsk, Russia in mid 2001. This raises Eurokot's backlog to three launches (LaunchSpace).



The Japanese Engineering Test Satellite-7 successfully completed a second remote docking after two failed attempts. The Hikoboshi spacecraft docked with the Orihime spacecraft at 9:44 am EDT on August 27. The experiment was launched on an H-2 rocket by the Japanese National Space Development Agency in November of 1997 to test a critical technology for supplying the International Space Station. The first successful docking of the two craft occurred on July 7, 1998 (LaunchSpace).


Deep Space 2

The Deep Space 2 probe has completed thermal vacuum testing at JPL. The New Millennium Program technology validation mission will piggyback on the Mars Polar Lander which is slated for launch January 3, 1999. Just before landing, Deep Space 2 will deploy two microprobes to test the Martian subsurface. Findings will be relayed to the Mars Global Surveyor for transmission to Earth. Deep Space 2 will be shipped to Kennedy Space Center for integration into the Mars Polar Lander in mid- October (NASA).


As a result of a study conducted by Tony Spear, the Mars Pathfinder project director, it has been determined that the Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) mission design, spacecraft and project budget are feasible. Spear made a number of recommendations for the $50 million commercial mission, including changing the destination to the near-Earth asteroid Nereus . The asteroid will pass within 2.5 million miles of Earth in January 2002. NEAP launch is slated for April 3, 2001 and will be placed in the Earth/Moon system until January 12, 2002. It will then be sent to encounter Nereus on May 12, 2002 and complete its mission by June of 2002. The new target asteroid was selected because it offers better opportunities of finding water and carbon compounds. It will also be studied in detail by ground based telescopes beginning about four months before the arrival of NEAP. This offers the chance to augment and confirm ground-based observations (SpaceDev).


Courtesy J. Ray, and R. Baalke


  • August 29 - ILS Proton (Block DM), Astr-2A, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan.
  • September 7 - NPO Yuzhnoya Zenit 2, Globalstar Mission 3 (12 comsats), Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan.
  • September 8 - Delta 2, Iridium Mission -10, SLC-2 Vandenberg AFB.
  • September 15 - Ariane 44LP, Flight 110, PanAmSat-7, ELA-2 Kourou, French Guiana.
  • September 16 - ILS Proton (Block DM), Nimiq-1, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan.
  • September 20 - Pegasus XL, ORBCOMM-3 (8 communications satellites), Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
  • September 24 - Taurus, STEX & ATEx, Area 576 -East Vandenberg AFB.
  • October 3 - Ariane 44L, Flight 111, Sirius-3 & Afristar, ELA-2, Kourou, French Guiana.
  • October 6 - Atlas 2A, Flight 134, Hot Bird-5, pad 36B, Cape Canaveral Air Station.
  • October 13 - Ariane 503, MAQSAT 3, Kourou, French Guiana.
  • October 15 - Delta 2, Deep Space 1, Cape Canaveral Air Station.
  • October 19 - Iridium Mission -11, SLC-2 Vandenberg AFB.
  • October 19 - Atlas 2A, UHF Follow-On, Cape Canaveral Air Station.
  • October 26 - Pegasus XL, Brazil SCD-2/NASA Wing Glove, Skid Strip, Cape Canaveral Air Station.
  • October 30 - Shuttle Discovery, STA-95, Spartan 201, Hubble Orbital Systems Test, PanSat, pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center.
  • November 13 - Athena 2, Ikonos-1 (CRSS), SLC-6, Vandenberg AFB.


The current population of space is at the base-line of two - all Russians on the Mir space station. This marks the completion of 3266 days of continuous human habitation in space since the reoccupation of Mir on Sept 7, 1989. The first element of the International Space Station is slated for launch in 83 days.

Index for Frontier Status Report 1998

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