Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status Report #138

Frontier Status Report #138

February 19, 1999

Dale M. Gray

The Russians appear to be leading the space race at the moment. In the past two weeks, they have launched three rockets with five satellites and three cosmonauts. ILS, which launched one of the Russian Proton rockets also launched an American Atlas Rocket. Other news of note include China's continued plans to have its own manned space program, Canada's expanding role in the satellite frontier, and the United Kingdom's rejection of ISS participation.

Highlights of the week of February 19 include:

  • Russians launch what may be the last crew to Mir
  • ILS Proton launches Telestar 6
  • ILS Atlas launches JCSAT-6
  • HGS-1 experiences battery problem
  • Contact reestablished with Galileo


NASA announced this week that three Russian cosmonauts have been added to upcoming Shuttle flights to the International Space Station. Valery Ivanovich Tokarev (Colonel, Russian Air Force) has been named to the STS-96 mission. This second mission to the orbiting station will bring supplies necessary for the Service Module connection mission. Yuri Ivanovich Malenchenko (Colonel, Russian Air Force), who was previously assigned to STS-96 has been moved to STS-101 along with Boris W. Morukov. STS-101 is the second logistics flight to the station.(M.D., Ph.D.) (NASA PR).

To help prepare the way for its grueling five flight year, NASA has resorted to scavenging museum pieces to keep the shuttle fleet flying. Last week, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama was contacted by the Marshall Space Flight Center and the United Space Alliance. The museum has a full size shuttle exhibit which features flight articles in the solid rocket boosters. NASA wants to swap out the forward assemblies of the SRBs with mock-ups. New forward assemblies are reported to cost between $5 and $10 million each and take about three years to construct. The assemblies will replace units that have been damaged or lost since 1981 (Reuters).


In an interview on Ekho Moskovy radio, head of the Russian Space Agency Yuri Koptev admitted that Russia had let down its international partners on the space station project. "The schedule for building the station was developed so that everything began overall from a Russian segment, so all of our mistakes, all of our delays create a basis for delaying everything else, I have to say above all that we are letting our partners down a little." The Service Module, more than a year behind schedule is set to be shipped to Baikonur for launch next month. After four or five months of testing and the installation of the remaining components, the module will be launched on a Proton rocket in August or September. Koptev also stated that once the Service module was in orbit, it would become clear that Russia wasn't the only ones behind schedule (Reuters).


Soyuz TM-29 carrying the Mir-27 crew was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on February 19 at 11:17 pm EST. On board were Russian Viktor Afanasyev (50), French astronaut Jean-Pierre Heignere (50) and Slovak Ivan Bella. Bella will stay on the station for eight days and then return to Earth with the current commander of the station, Gennady Padalka. Ivan Bella's flight was made in exchange for writing off a $20 million debt to Slovenia. The French government paid $20.6 million for Heignere's flight. This is Heignere's second trip to Mir. The launch marks the 13th anniversary of the Mir space station which was launched by the Soviet Union on February 20, 1986. Afanasyev has had two previous tours on Mir. Since funds to continue the Mir space station program are lacking, this launch may also be the last crew rotation for the station. During its career, Mir has been host to over 100 cosmonauts and astronauts (Flatoday; Reuters).

Florida Today Article


On February 16 an ILS Atlas 2AS (AC-152) carrying JCSAT-6 was launched from pad 36A of the Cape Canaveral Air Station at 8:45:26 pm EST. The launch was delayed an hour to work out issues involving the Centaur upper stage liquid oxygen fill and drain valves. The rocket was powered by two Rocketdyne MA-5A engines and two pairs of Thiokol castor IVA strap-on solid rocket boosters. The Pratt & Whitney RL-10 Centaur upper stage burned twice at T+ 5.5 minutes and T+ 25 minutes to put the satellite into a 258 x 96736 km x 24.1 degree supersynchronous transfer orbit. The JCSAT-6 satellite was released into orbit 30 minutes into the flight. It will be placed in a geostationary orbital slot at 124 degrees East longitude. JCSAT-4 which is currently at the 124 degree East slot will be moved to 128 degrees where it will serve as an on-orbit spare. This was the 42nd consecutive successful launch of the Atlas rocket system
(Jonathan's Space Report; Flatoday).

JCSAT-6, an HS-601 satellite, was built by Hughes. The 2900 kg satellite was originally scheduled for launch in July of 1998, but two technical issues concerning the plating of relay switches and a lightning strike at the processing building pushed the launch into 1999. The launch has since been pushed back by minor technical issues. The 32 transponder satellite based on the popular HS 601 platform will be used to relay communications and broadcast services for Japan Satellite Systems Inc. of Tokyo
(Hughes PR; Flatoday; LaunchSpace; Frontier Status)


On February 15 an ILS Proton carrying Telestar 6 was launched from Baikonur, Kazakstan at 12:12 am EST. The Krunichev Proton-K rocket had a Energiya Blok DM3 upper stage and a Marquardt R-4D apogee engine. The 3, 674 kg Telstar 6 was placed into a 6638 x 35756 km x 17.4 degree orbit by the Blok DM stage. The orbit was then raised to a 15,037 x 35,800 km x 7.9 degree transfer orbit by the first R-4D burn. Spacecraft separation was at 6 hours and 41 minutes
(Jonathan's Space Report; Space Cast).

Telstar 6, a FS-1300 satellite was built by Space Systems / Loral and will operate as part of the Loral Skynet system. It will provide video and data transmission services to North and Central America from its position at 93 degrees West Longitude. The satellite features 24 C-band and 28 Ku band transponders. The spacecraft will produce over 8,000 watts of power from silicon solar arrays measuring 31 meters across. The satellite is expected to have a 12 year lifetime
(Jonathan's Space Report; Flatoday; ILS PR).

Space Cast Article


Launch attempt number 10 was attempted on February 13. The launch was postponed 23 minutes before launch due to a technical issue. A momentary spike on the current monitor to the first stage controls package was detected. The spike was in one of two power sources for the first stage electronics package. The launch will be recycled for February 23


In addition to a heavy lift rocket, China also appears to be developing a reusable space shuttle as part of their manned space flight program. A Chinese engineer stated in articles carried by AFP and the BBC that the Chinese shuttle would be smaller than the American shuttle and would more closely resemble the Japanese HOPE prototype. China's "Project 921" manned space program is expected to first go into space using a non-reusable capsule similar to the Russian Soyuz


Remote Sensing

The US government is objecting to a Canadian request for a launch of a Canadian-made remote sensing satellite. Rumors that the CIA and other intelligence agencies fear that the high-resolution images of the $305 million Radarsat-2 will be used to "snoop on Americans" and thereby compromise national security. The MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates company-owned satellite will replace RadarSat-1 in late 2001 or early 2002. Radarsat-1 was launched by NASA in 1996. Canada is hoping to deal with US national security concerns as a separate issue to a negotiated launch agreement
(Toronto Sun; Reuters; SpaceNews).

Telesat Canada

The Gloucester, Ontario based Telesat Canada has announced plans to expand satellite services to South America. As the company's monopoly over satellite services to Canadian broadcasters and phone companies erodes, Telesat Canada is expanding its reach to the rest of the Americas. The company plans to launch Anik-F next year. The company originated with the federal government in 1969, but was sold to a consortium of the largest Canadian telephone companies in 1992
(Michael Lewis, The Financial Post).


On February 18, the BBC carried an article in which the British National Space Council (BNSC) recommended that United Kingdom should not join in the International Space Station effort. The argument boils down to "it does not offer sufficient return for the money spent". UK involvement in the station would probably cost about 100 million and would entitle the country to place one astronaut on the station. A spokesman for the BNSC stated at the 200 million annual space budget was already committed and that any ISS involvement would require new funding. The UK passed up the opportunity to become involved in 1987, but recently Lord Sainsbury has been eviewing that decision and his report is now with Prime Minister Tony Blair
(Andrew Newstead; BBC).

BBC Article


Brazil has placed two of its geostationary orbital slots up for bid. Under the rules of the sealed bid process, companies must submit at least 1.85 million reals ($989,300) for each. Loral Skynet, Telesat Canada and American Star Telecomunicacoes S. A. are said to be interested in the slots.



The Stardust mission is now in cruise mode. Analysis of the trajectory of the spacecraft indicates that the launch during the instantaneous launch window on February 12 went so well that the first trajectory correction maneuver will not be necessary. As a result, the spacecraft may be able to activate its imager during its second pass by the Moon on February 22. The Dust Flux Monitor will be activated this coming week. The Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer will be tested in the next two weeks.


Controllers were able to reestablish normal control of the Galileo spacecraft February 10 after the craft executed two turns to point the radio antenna back to Earth. The craft had gone into safe mode immediately after a January 31 fly-by of Europa when the craft's internal monitoring systems detected the spacecraft was taking too long to make a turn. While data from the encounter was saved on on-board recorders, distant observations of Europa, Io and Jupiter were canceled. Subsequent analysis indicates that two of the craft's sun sensors may have been affected by the prolonged exposure to Jupiter's radiation. The problem is not expected to impact the remainder of the mission. Normal cruise operations were reestablished February 11 with testing of systems and transmission of Europa encounter data initiated

JPL Web Page



The former AsiaSat 3 which was salvaged by Hughes by two loops around the moon has reported a problem with its battery. One of the battery cells of the HS-601HP satellite failed in a similar manner to the battery failures on PAS-5 and Galaxy 8I. The problem will result in reduced performance during the bi-yearly eclipse periods experienced by all satellites in GEO


Aerospatiale / Matra Hautes

This past week the French government issued a decree clearing the way for the privatization of Aerospatiale and its merger with Matra Hautes Technologies (MHT). Lagardere Group which is MHT's parent company will pay between FF850 million and FF2 billion to the French Government for a 33 percent share of the company. Twenty percent of the company will be sold on the stock market and two to three percent will go to Aerospatiale employees. The merger has yet to be cleared by the European Commission

Lockheed Martin

GE American recently ordered four A2100 GEO satellites from Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. The spacecraft, designated GE-6, GE-7, GE-8 and GE-9, will be used to supplement coverage by GE-1 through GE-4 (GE-4 will be launched this fall). The satellites will be launched beginning in the fall of 2000. GE-6 will be a very large hybrid C/Ku band A2100. The other satellites will be based upon the smallest A2100 bus available. No value was placed on the order
(Lockheed Martin PR).


GenCorp Aerojet has been awarded a contract for a new generation of solid rocket motors for Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 rocket. The contract with options is estimated at $500 million. The Atlas 5 is Lockheed Martin's EELV family of launchers built around a Common Core Booster which was re-badged last week. GenCorp Aerojet was awarded the contract on the basis of their extensive experience producing solid rocket motors for Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs
(GenCorp Aerojet PR).



Hughes Network Systems (HNS) announced February 15 that it had been selected by Euronet to provide very small aperture technology (VSAT) satellite technology to communicate with a pan-European network of more than 1,000 ATM machines. HNS was selected because it currently provides all the needs of Euronet while giving the expandability of new services such as broadcast advertising. HNS currently holds a 60 percent market share of the global VSAT market, having shipped more than 200,000 terminals

Hughes Network Systems Web Page


When Gilat Satellite Networks of Petah Tikva, Israel purchased GE Spacenet, McLean, Virginia, among the assets was a contract with the US Postal Service worth $100 to $150 million. Gilat will provide the Postal Service with 34,000 with very small aperture terminals (VSAT), ground equipment and satellite time. It is said to be the largest contract ever for a private satellite communications network



The US Customs Service has arrested four individuals on charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute counterfeit DirecTV System access cards. The arrests were the result of a long-running investigation in Blaine, Washington. Three of the men involved were Canadian citizens while the fourth was a citizen of both Mexico and the United States. In addition to criminal charges the men were also defendants in a July 1998 civil suit in which they were ordered to pay DirecTV and NDS Americas $14.7 million. NDS Americas is DirecTV's encryption provider. A similar case of signal piracy involving three men resulted in guilty pleas last year while another case in Montana is pending
(DirecTV PR).

Sky Report Web Page

It should be noted that fraud is an unfortunate side-effect of active frontiers. Signal piracy is comparable to the "salted" gold mines or the stock fraud that seemed to appear with every active American mining frontier. Such crime is the inevitable consequence of the frontier economy outstripping civilization's ability to identify criminal behavior, enact laws and to provide mechanisms of enforcement. The point that criminals begin to be prosecuted on a frontier is seen by some to be the boundary where the frontier begins to be incorporated into civilization
(Frontier Model).



The Greyhound bus company is in the process of installing a satellite-based security system in its buses. The system features GPS functions along with two-way voice communications via local cellular services. The On-Guard Tracker System is manufactured by ATX Technologies and is currently being tested on 10 coaches. An additional 250 units will be installed by the start of summer and if successful, the units will be installed in all 2,400 buses in the Greyhound system. The system provides contact with emergency services at a touch of a button or contact with the Greyhound operation support center with the push of another button. It will also provide alternate route information and weather information

Space Cast Article


October Sky

In a decade that featured high-tech deep-space action adventures, the movie October Sky traces some very down to earth benefits of the space program. In the movie Homer Hickam's life is changed by the launch of Sputnik. He is inspired to pursue academics and to win a science fair. Ironically, the film is directed by Joe Johnson, who began his career as a visual-effects contributor to the Star Wars trilogy
(Flatoday movie review).

Deep Space 2

NASA is sponsoring a contest to name the two Mars impact probes of the Deep Space 2 mission. The names can be two related names from history or from mythology. A short essay supporting the choice, up to 100 words should accompany submissions. A $4000 CompUSA gift certificate will be awarded the winner. Entries should be submitted by April 30, 1999. Complete rules, an entry form and further information about Deep Space 2 are available at or by writing to: Name the Mars Microprobe Contest, JPL, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, MS 301-235, Pasadena, California 91109.


Courtesy J. Ray
and R. Baalke.

  • February 19 - Soyuz TM-29, Mir-27 crew rotation, Baikonur, Kazakstan.
  • February 23 - Delta 2, flight 266, USAF ARGOS, SUNSAT & ORSTED, SLC-2, Vandenberg AFB.
  • February 26 - Ariane 44L, flight 116, Arabsat-3A & Skynet-4E, Kourou, French Guiana.
  • March 1 - Pegasus XL, flight 26, WIRE, Vandenberg AFB.
  • March 14 - SeaLaunch Zenit - Inaugural flight, dummy payload, equatorial Pacific.
  • March 18 - ILS Proton (Blok DM), Asiasat-3S, Baikonur, Kazakstan
  • March 21 - 26 - ProSpace, March Storm, Washington DC.
  • March 27 - Delta 3, flight 268, Orion-F3, Cape Canaveral Air Station.
  • March 31 - Pegasus XL, TERRIERS/MUBLCOM, Vandenberg AFB.
  • April 4 - Athena 2, Ikonos-1, SLC-6, Vandenberg AFB.
  • April 7 - Titan 4B, classified payload, SLC-4 East, Vandenberg AFB.


With the recent launch of the Soyuz rocket containing the Mir-27 crew, the population of space has risen to 5. The Soyuz capsule contains one Russian, one Slovenian and one French cosmonaut. Two Russians remain on the Mir space Station. This marks the completion of 3452 days of continuous human habitation in space since the reoccupation of Mir on September 8, 1989. The first element of the International Space Station has been in orbit for 92 days. Because of continued delays to the Service Module, the occupation of the International Space Station is once again uncertain, but will probably begin in about 11 to 14 months.

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