Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status Report #201

Frontier Status Report #201

May 5, 2000

Dale M. Gray

The frontier was active this week with the launch of a weather satellite by the Americans and a reconnaissance satellite by the Russians. The Americans also test-fired two of their Trident II missiles.

This week marked the official start of the GPS gold rush. President Clinton announced the end signal degradation and the phasing out of selective availability. The ten-fold increase in accuracy in commercial GPS units will echo and reecho in the form of new applications throughout our society.

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Highlights of the week of May 5 include:

  • President Clinton ends GPS error
  • Atlas 2 launches GOES-L
  • Soyuz launches Russian reconnaissance satellite
  • Satellite responds to Internet protocols
  • Space Day celebrated May 4.
  • Hubble finds dark matter

SHUTTLE - Following last week's three consecutive launch aborts due to weather constraints, the Shuttle Atlantis has been rescheduled for a May 18 launch. The opening of the five minute launch window will occur around 6:33 a.m. EDT and will be finalized to synchronize with the orbital position of the International Space Station. Countdown is expected to begin in the morning of May 15. This will be the third US mission to the International Space Station. The payload features the SpaceDev Double Module, which is configured as a cargo carrier for supplies and equipment. The seven-member crew includes James Halsell (43), Scott Horowitz (24), Jeff Williams (R), James Voss (25), Susan Helms (32) and Yuri Usachev (376). Note: parentheses indicate number of days experience in space.


Interim Control Module: Following Russia's renewed commitment to the Mir space Station, the United States is actively developing the Interim Control Module. This module currently is on two-tracks for deployment. If the Russian's fail to put the Service Module in orbit by August of 2000, the ICM will be launched in early 2001* to assure the survival and growth of the station. If the Service module is deployed successfully this summer, then the ICM will be launched in 2001 and connected to the American side of the station to provide redundant control and propulsion resources. However, before the ICM can be completed, NASA must purchase a $5 million "pressure" dome from Russia so that the ICM can dock with the Zarya module. NASA must also buy a $9 million docking port. Russia currently is bundle the sales to the purchase of Soyuz 3- person rescue vehicles so that Russia will continue to play a key roll in the station. NASA has stated that Russia has not rejected a purchase plan involving only the dome and docking port. However, since NASA's own 6-person crew return vehicle, the X-38, will not be ready for several more years, NASA may settle for the bundle. The space station will only contain 3 crewmembers in the first years of operation (

* The ICM is still officially slated for a December launch, but the failure of a critical communications board in April has put its development behind schedule in testing and creating conflicts in the utilization of test facilities. The soonest the ICM can be shipped to Kennedy Space Center is this fall with launch in early 2001.

Space Media: The much-publicized private addition to the International Space Station, the Enterprise module, appears to be heading for an Initial Public Offering (IPO). SpaceMedia is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of SpaceHab. SpaceHab and RKK Energia plan on launching the Enterprise module late in 2002. The module will serve as a broadcast studio in space producing content in three areas: news, education and recreation. The IPO will make SpaceMedia separate entity. The plans have not yet progressed to registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which triggers a so-called "quiet period" when plans and projections cannot be discussed (

MIR - Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kalery spent the week conducting experiments, repairing systems and preparing for next week's space walk. The primary goal of the walk will be to test sealing equipment to coat the exterior of the station. The pair will also inspect the Mir core module exterior and the solar arrays on the Kristall module (CNN).


Atlas 2 / GOES: An ILS Atlas 2 rocket (Atlas Centaur AC- 137) was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 36A on May 3 at 3:07 a.m. EDT. The launch was delayed by 40 minutes to allow technicians to replace a faulty valve prior to fueling and to allow an orbiting object to pass (Collision Avoidance period- COLA). The launch of GOES-L was originally postponed by a year because of problems with the system used in the upper stage of the Atlas. At T+3 minutes the booster rockets completed their burn and were released. At T-4 minutes the rocket was high enough for the payload fairing to be released to reduce the rocket's mass. At T+4:45 minutes the sustainer engine completed its burn and separated. AT T+5:05 minutes, the two RL-10 engines of the Centaur upper stage ignited for its first five-minute burn. After coasting for 12 minutes, the Centaur engines ignited again for a 92-second burn. Following the burn the payload and upper stage were "spun- up" in preparation for satellite release. At T+29 minutes, the satellite was released in to a 42,309 km x 275-km orbit with an inclination of 19.99 degrees. This was the 49th consecutive successful launch of the Atlas 2 system (ILS PR; Spaceflight Now; Jonathan's Space Report).

The GOES -L satellite launch will allow the weather satellite to be in position and operational for the start of the year 2000 hurricane season. The $200 million spacecraft will use its on-board thrusters to move to geostationary orbit. There it will take its place as a back up to the six-year-old GOES 8 satellite that is already one year beyond its design life. The new GOES satellite is equipped with sophisticated infrared sensors that can detect potential hurricanes early in their formation. The spacecraft is fourth in a series of five GEOS satellites being constructed by Space Systems Loral. The satellite will be tested and monitored for the next two months. The spacecraft will be renamed GOES-11 when it is operational and turned over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Florida Today; ILS PR).

Soyuz / Cosmos 2370: A Soyuz-U rocket was launched on May 3 from the Baikonur LC1 launch complex (a.k.a. Gagarin's pad). The rocket lifted-off on schedule at 9:25 a.m. EDT. At T+9 minutes the satellite was released into a 183 x 277 km x 64.8-degree orbit that will likely be raised to 240 x 300 km in a day. Soyuz rockets have been used to launch reconnaissance satellites known as Yantar (Amber), but these launches usually occur from Plesetsk. The launch pad used is famous for the launch of both Sputnik-1 and Gagarin's Vostok-1 (Jonathan's Space Report;

Because of the classified nature of the payload, Russia has not revealed details of the mission or its satellite payload. However, the media has speculated that the payload is the first of a new cthe Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is responsible for 80 percent of the domestic space industry (Space Daily).


Internet Satellite Communication: Turning the tables on the Internet In the Sky Frontier that seeks to use satellites to access the Internet, Surrey Satellite Technology and the Goddard Space Flight Center have used the Internet to communicate with a satellite. On April 10, engineers working on the Operating Missions as Nodes on the Inte [Web formatting note: text was cut off here].


Russia: On May 3, the head of the Russian Aerospace Agency (Rosaviakosmos) Yuri Koptev announced to reporters that in 1999 the Russian space industry had recovered to a level last experience in 1993. The sector had grown at a rate of 22 percent for the last three years. While 36 percent of the financing for the sector comes from the Russian government, the remainder comes from foreign partners as payment for services. The sector was also able to raise $3 billion in foreign financing. Koptev stated that one of most important achievements of the past nine years was the preservation of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is responsible for 80 percent of the domestic space industry (Space Daily).


ABM Treaty: The White House has asked Russia to allow a modification of the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the US could deploy the first phase of an elaborate anti- missile system. Initially, the program would deploy 100 launchers and a new radar system by 2005. President Clinton is expected to urge President Putin to legalize the limited defense system when they meet in Moscow on June 4-5. Russia has Surrey up-loaded the required Internet software developed by VyTek LLC of Pittsburgh. Surrey then installed a standard Internet router at their ground station to complete the connection to the Internet. The first test involved basic Internet security measures to restrict access to the spacecraft. Testing in the coming month will focus on expanding the basic network capabilities and demonstrate the use of standard Internet protocols to perform a range of spacecraft functions. UoSAT-12 was launched in April of 1999 on a modified SS-18 ICBM converted to commercial use as the Dnepr launch system (NASA; Science Daily; Frontier Status 4/15/99).


ABM Treaty: The White House has asked Russia to allow a modification of the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the US could deploy the first phase of an elaborate anti- missile system. Initially, the program would deploy 100 launchers and a new radar system by 2005. President Clinton is expected to urge President Putin to legalize the limited defense system when they meet in Moscow on June 4-5. Russia has refused to alter the treaty, but has been willing to talk about the plan (AP).


Space Day: May 4 was celebrated internationally as the annual Space Day. At the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C., butterflies hatched raised in space took center stage in the celebration. Astronauts John Glenn, Bernard Harris, Jr., and Sally Ride spoke during the event and took part in an interactive Webcast (AP).

Liberty Bell 7: The restored Liberty Bell 7 capsule recovered from the depths of the Atlantic is being prepared for a nation wide tour. The capsule will be part of a 6,000 square foot traveling exhibit that will hit the road on June 17. The exhibit, sponsored by the Discovery Channel, showcases the 1961 flight of Virgil "Gus" Grissom and the events that led to the recovery and restoration of the capsule. "The Lost Spacecraft: Liberty Bell-7 Recovered" traveling exhibit's first stop will be the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex where it will be features for three months (Collect Space). The Internet site crossed over media boundaries this past week. The company began running television ads on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. The ad campaign was developed by Wolf Group New York and combines the fascination of space with "sense of fun and knowledge that appeals to all space fans" Lou Dobbs, the Chairman and CEO of stated that "'s primary mission is the popularization of space and through this campaign, we will ignite the world's curiosity and interest in all things space-related by reminding viewers how just how cool space really is." The commercials will also air during The Late Night Show with Conan O'Brien, Saturday Night Live, primetime and sports programming. The campaign will be supported by print ads in magazines and newspapers ranging from the National Geographic to Sky and Telescope to The Washington Post. Banner ads will be placed on prominent Internet sites such as Yahoo and (Business Wire).


NEAR Shoemaker: At 12:15 p.m. EDT on April 30, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft completed a 2 minute 20 second firing of its hydrazine engine. The maneuver altered the spacecraft's orbit around the asteroid Eros from 100 x 50 km to a circular 50 km orbit. The burn was also used to dump energy off of the four momentum wheels used to keep the spacecraft pointed at the sun. The maneuver also reduced the spacecraft's speed relative to the asteroid from 10 mph to 7 mph. The next orbital correction maneuver is slated for July 7 (JPL).

Stardust: On May 1, the Stardust spacecraft completed its first Interstellar Particle (ISP) Collection campaign. Commands sent from Deep Space Network caused the aerogel grid to be stowed. The spacecraft is now being prepared for Trajectory Correction Maneuver 3 on May 24. The spacecraft will rendezvous with comet Wild-2 in 2004 then swing back to return samples to Earth (NASA).


Hubble: Scientists have long wondered about the location of half the matter in the Universe. They believe that 90 percent of the matter in the universe is hydrogen, floating in the dark space between galaxies. In the May 1 issue of "Astrophysical Journal Letters" Todd Tripp, a Princeton University researcher has found evidence of the hydrogen using the Hubble Space Telescope. While the hydrogen cannot be seen, it heats oxygen into an excited state that can be observed. By observing quasars through the oxygen fog, the astronomers found they could indirectly observe the hydrogen. The existence of the super-hot hydrogen is theorized as part of supercomputer models of the expanding, evolving universe (AP).

HubbleSite Website


AssureSat: AssureSat, Inc. has awarded a contract to Space Systems/Loral for the construction of two specially-designed geostationary satellites. The AssureSat satellites will serve as back-up communications satellites for companies whose satellites are destroyed during launch or for malfunctioning satellites. The satellites will have the capability to move rapidly to new orbital slots and assume the duties of the lost satellite. The company will market its satellites as a back-up option for satellite communications companies and has signed a service agreement with Loral Skynet. The company sees its satellites as a valuable service to fill a void in risk management for satellite operators. To assure complete coverage for satellite failures, the satellites will be equipped with 36 C-band transponders, and 36 Ku-band transponders and will have 10 kW of power at end of life. The satellites will have steerable antennae and will be able to operate on all three ITU region frequency plans (Space Daily).


Iridium: Despite the impending deorbiting of the Iridium satellite constellation, Motorola with an 18 percent share in the company is reported to be seeking an eleventh hour buyer for the still functioning satellites. Several groups have come forward with plans to resuscitate the Iridium venture, but none to-date has been viable. Even a charitable organization has expressed interest in the system, but would not have been able to maintain the expensive system (Reuters).


Signal Degradation: In a press conference May 1, President Clinton announced that the artificial degradation of the Global Positioning System would end at Midnight May 3 (Greenwich Mean Time). The change allows commercial users of the system to establish position to within 20 meters. Previously, uncorrected commercial GPS receivers were accurate to only 100 meters. The change is part of a 1996 presidential directive to encourage the growth of the $8 billion GPS market. During the press conference Clinton committed the US to discontinue the use of Selective Availability by 2006. The President reserved the right to deny GPS signal on a regional basis when national security is threatened (White House PR;


Panasonic: Matsushita Communication Industrial Corporation of USA (MCUSA), a subsidiary of Panasonic, announced that it would be expanding its Peachtree City, Georgia facility. The new production operations will initially have a capacity of 350,000 Sirius satellite radio receivers a year, but is expected to expand to 1 million units per year capacity. The facility is expected to be completed in the fall of 2000 with pre-production samples coming off the line before the turn of the year. Sirius plans to offer 100 channels of commercial free music, news, sports and entertainment for a monthly fee of $9.95. The first Sirius satellite is scheduled to be launched on a Proton rocket on June 28 with inauguration of services in late 2000 (Business Wire).

Sirius Radio Website


Space Trash: This past week, South Africa was the recipient of two loads of space trash. The first landed in Worchester near Cape Town on April 29. The 30 kg metallic ball left a 20 cm impact dent in the ground where it hit. The next day a 100 kg tank landed in a nearby farm. NASA tentatively identified the fragments as part of a Delta 2 rocket that was launched in 1996. NASA had been expecting the rocket stage to reenter over South Africa. The falling objects hurt no one. The US has a standing policy to compensate anyone harmed by its falling space debris. NASA will send a representative to inspect the objects (Space Daily).

Love Bug: The voracious "love-bug" computer virus caused NASA to shut down its e-mail system on May 4. By the Friday afternoon NASA's 10 field centers were back on line with the exception of Houston. The Johnson Space Center e-mail system relies heavily upon Microsoft products, which proved especially susceptible to the virus. A NASA spokesman stated that no mission critical projects were affected, agency personnel used phones, faxes and direct conversations to conduct work as usual. JSC is expected to have its e-mail system up and running with new anti-viral software by Monday, May 8. The "love-bug" is thought to have caused over $1 billion in losses worldwide (


Trident II: Two Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles were test launched on April 30 from the USS Wyoming at the Easter Test Range. The flights mark the 88th and 89th consecutive successful launches of the system. The test is part of a continuing series to monitor safety, reliability, readiness and performance (Lockheed Martin PR).


Boeing: Boeing announced this past week that it would be moving its Aerospace Operations from Titusville to Oklahoma City. The move involves from 60 to 100 employees and could take up to a year. Employees that do not wish to move to Oklahoma will be offered jobs in other Boeing divisions or will be given severance packages. The move reflects a change of emphasis inside Aerospace Operations from space related work to military aircraft work (Florida Today).

Orbital Sciences: Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Virginia announced on May 4 that its new state-of-the-art satellite manufacturing facility (SMF) 20 miles west of Washington D. C. was ready for occupancy. The 125,000 square foot facility will house all of the company's satellite manufacturing, assembly and testing activities. The SMF features a 40,000 square foot high-by area, which will house a suite of environmental test equipment to simulate conditions of launch and operations in orbit. The SMF will also have two large clean rooms that have a combined area of 25,000 square feet. A command and control center for the OrbImage satellites will be incorporated into the building later this year (Orbital Sciences PR).

Spectrolab: As a result of its recently received approval to export its advanced technology solar cells, Spectrolab has obtained a contract with Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH (DSS) of Germany. Under the contract Spectrolab solar cells will be supplied to DSS for qualification testing in their space solar array systems. The arrangement could lead to the sale of several hundred thousand of the multi-junction solar cells through 2002. These gallium arsenide cells have an average efficiency of 24.5 percent (SpaceDaily).

SPACE STOCKS - The stock listing is for informational purposes only and not intended for trading purposes. Frontier Status shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Additional stocks may be listed by request (

Company                Ticker          Friday Close     Prev. Friday

Boeing                      BA              39.50            39.6875
EchoStar                    DISH            54.125           63.6875
GlobalStar                  GSTRF           10.0625          11.75
Hughes Electronics          GMH             89.6094          96.3125
Lockheed Martin             LMT             26.1875          24.875
Loral Space                 LOR              8.5625           9.8125
Motorola                    MOT            109.50           119.0
Orbital Sciences            ORB             13.625           12.5
Sirius                      SIRI            44.0625          39.6875
SpaceDev                    SPDVE.OB         1.625            1.50
SpaceHab                    SPAB             5.0625           5.125
TRW                         TRW             58.4375          58.5


Courtesy J. Ray, and J. Foust

Spaceflight Now - Tracking Station: World Wide Launch Schedule
Spaceviews Website

May 8 - Titan 4B, DSP Payload (B-29), SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Station.

May 10 - Delta 2, NAVSTAR GPS satellite, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

May 15- Eurockot Rokot, Experimental payload, Plesetsk, Russia.

May 15- Atlas 3A, Eutelsat W-4, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Inaugural Launch.

May 18 - Shuttle Atlantis (STS-101), ISS flight 2A.2A, Kennedy Space Center.

May 20 - Pegasus XL, TSX 5, Vandenberg AFB.

May 24 - Minuteman III, FTM-02, Vandenberg AFB.

May 24-26 - 5th ISU International Symposium, The Space Transportation Market: Evolution or Revolution, Strasbourg, France.

May 26-29 - International Space Development Conference, Tucson, AZ.

May 31 - Cosmos-3M, CHAMP, MITA, BIRD, complex 132 Plesetsk, Russia.

May 31 - Minuteman III, GT-172-GM, Vandenberg AFB.

Late May - Proton / Briz, Gorizont 45, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

June 8 - Proton, Intersputnik Express-3A, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

June 10 - Silicon Valley Space Enterprise Symposium, San Jose, California.

June 15 - Delta 2, NAVSTAR GPS satellite, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

June 28 - ILS Proton, Sirius 1 (CD Radio), Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

June 29 - SeaLaunch Zenit-3SL, PanAmSat PAS-9, Odyssey launch platform, equatorial Pacific Ocean.

June 29 - Atlas 2A, TDRS-H, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station pad 36A.

Late June - Proton / Briz, Geyser data-relay satellite (Russian Ministry of Defense), Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

July - Ariane 5, Astra 2B and GE-7, ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana.

July 10-14 - Proton / Briz, ISS flight 1R, Zvezda Service Module, Baikonur, Kazakstan.

July 20 - Lunar Development Conference, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada.

CENSUS - The population of space remains at two, both Russian cosmonauts on board the Mir space station. Mir has been occupied for 30 days. Humans have spent a total of 131.5 man-days in orbit in the year 2000. The first element of the International Space Station has been in orbit for 533 days. The occupation of the International Space Station is expected to begin in the fall of 2000.

Index for Frontier Status Report 2000

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