Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status 205

Frontier Status 205

June 2, 2000

Dale M. Gray

Frontier Status 205

June 2, 2000

by Dale M. Gray

Frontier Historical Consultants

Fourth Anniversary Issue

Only one launch of a hybrid target missile was reported for the week. However, during the week the Shuttle Atlantis completed its mission to the ISS and successfully landed, NASA prepared to deorbit Compton and the cosmonauts on Mir prepared to return to the ground. A new buyer for Iridium may have been found and Motorola stock split three for one. NASA is pumping up the Charisma of the frontier by entering into an agreement with DreamTime. Beal moves forward with its launch plans by selecting a new launch site in Guyana.

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Highlights of the week of June 2 include:

  • Atlantis returns home after trip to ISS
  • Compton GRO prepares for end of mission
  • Crew preparing to leave Mir
  • NASA links with DreamTime to pump up public
  • Space stocks soar with NASDAQ


The Shuttle Atlantis began the week docked with the International Space Station. Three of the visiting crew, Susan Helms, James Voss and Yuri Usachev, will return to the station next year as the second station crew. During the prior week, the crew had conducted a space walk to reseat an American crane, finish assembly of a Russian crane, add handholds and replace an antenna. After the spacewalk was over the crew opened the hatch to the space station and began the tasks of replacing batteries and recharging equipment. They also moved several tons of supplies including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fans. While the last crew to visit the station complained of noise and bad air, improvements to muffle noise and improve circulation appear to have worked. To complete their work at the station, the crew used the Shuttle's maneuvering engines to boost the station in orbit. The station will now be able to maintain orbit until the end of the year even if the Russians are not able to launch the Service Module (Florida Today; AP).

The Shuttle Atlantis separated from the ISS on . After a 3:05 minute deorbit burn at 1:12:10 a.m., the Shuttle glided down through the atmosphere for a touchdown on Kennedy Space Center Runway 15 at 2:20 a.m. on May 29. Total mission elapsed time was 9 days, 20 hours and 9 minutes. During STS-101, the Shuttle Atlantis traveled a bit over 4 million miles during the mission. If all goes well, Atlantis will be heading back to the Station on September 19 to outfit the Zvezda Service Module, which hopefully will be launched in July (NASA; Florida Today; Spaceflight Now ISS separation article; Spaceflight Now Landing article;


The International Space Station is currently in a 394 x 371-km orbit thanks to three orbit-boosting engine firings of the attached Shuttle Atlantis. The Shuttle raised its orbit by 38 km. All batteries and charging units appear to be functioning well after the maintenance. Three of the ten recently installed smoke alarms are giving anomalous readings (NASA; Spaceflight Now).

Pizza Hut

As the Proton rocket that will deliver the Zvezda Service Module enters final preparations, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency is suing Pizza Hut, Inc. The Space Marketing Centre (SMC) has filed suit in Moscow court stating that the company falsely stated that it had contracted to place a Pizza Hut logo on the ISS-bound Proton rocket. SMC and the Global Impact Communications Inc. have tried to approach Pizza Hut over the false claim, but have not receive a satisfactory answer. SMC is actively working to commercialize the Russian Space Program, but states that sponsorship of space launches must have an educational value (Space Daily).


The Mir space station continues to be in good health and Russian engineers have declared that is good for another 3-4 years. The two on-board cosmonauts Sergei Zaletin and Aleksandr Kalery have completed their planned experiments and are now preparing the station for autonomous operations. The station's oxygen generator and air cleaners will be turned off just prior to leaving. However, the dehumidifier will be left on to remove excess moisture that encourages microorganisms to grow. Once the air has been dried out, the dehumidifier will be turned off from the ground. The station will then be put in a slow spin to passively cool and stabilize the station (; SpaceDaily).

On Tuesday, the attached Progress supply ship was loaded with used hardware and trash. After the crew has left the station, it will be remotely commanded to a fiery reentry. The men will also extend the seats in their Soyuz capsule to accommodate the typical 2-3 cm of "growth" experienced by long-term station occupants. The pair, which arrived at the station on April 6, are expecting to return to earth around June 16 (Space Daily; Interfax).



The US Air Force successfully launched a hybrid rocket from Vandenberg AFB on Sunday, May 30. The Orbital Suborbital Program (OSP) created the rocket from three Minuteman II ICBMs. The three-stage rocket was constructed at a cost of only $11 million. One of the stages was from a Minuteman II built in 1966. The test was to see if recycled missiles could be used to launch target vehicles into space. The target launch vehicle successfully separated from the third stage (AP).



China is planning to market rockets using solid fuel ICBM technology. The Xinhuan News Agency reported that a new company, the Space Solid Fuel Rocket Carrier Co. Ltd. (SSRC) has been formed to research, design, manufacture and market solid propellant rockets. The rocket design will be based upon the Dongfeng ICBM, but will be marketed under the name of SLV-1. The rocket will be able to orbit payloads up to 300 kg (SpaceDaily).


Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Ltd. (IHI) of Japan has begun negotiations with six other aerospace firms to market the next generation J1 rocket. The J1 is currently underdevelopment by the National Space Development Agency (NASDA). The other companies include Lockheed Martin, Aerojet, Mitsubishi Corp., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Japan Aviation Electronics Industry Ltd., and IHI Aerospace. The venture is expected to cost up to 40-billion yen to bankroll a third of the development costs. The J1 follow-on is hoped to be on-line by 2004 and will be able to lift three-tonnes into orbit ( SpaceDaily).


Problems with satellite delivery continue to plague Arianespace. However, the consortium stated that Flight 130 is now slated for July 25 with SES Astra 2B and GE Americacom GE-7 as satellite payloads. The satellites will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket on the third commercial flight of the system (Reuters).

Delta 2

The next flight of the Delta 2 system has been delayed due to a problem fitting the second stage to the first stage. The two are separated by an interstage adapter, which was removed and replaced. The problem recurred. The two stages did not seal together in a perfect circle. Engineers are studying the problem to see which piece of the rocket is to blame. The problem will likely bump the launch of an USAF NAVSTAR GPS satellite from June 15 to June 21 ( Spaceflight Now).



China recently announced the completion of a new spacecraft tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C) network. Using the Internet, China has linked the Xi'an Satellite Control Centre in Shaanxi Province with eight ground tracking station and two Yuanwang tracking ships. The original TT&C system has also been expanded to include S band tracking. The network also links the new Dongfeng Launch Control Centre and the Beijing Spaceflight commanding and Control Centre. The new network is expected to increase the capabilities and the efficiency of network usage (SpaceDaily).


Beale Technologies has signed a deal to build a $100 million launch complex in Guyana in South America. The site selected is 450 miles northwest of the Arianespace launch facility at Kourou, French Guiana. The giant B-2 rocket being developed in Texas is expected to be able to loft communications satellites of up to 17,000 kg. Under terms of the deal, Guyana has offered Beal 75,000 acres at $3 per acre and a 99-year reprieve on taxes. In exchange Beal promised to hire 500 Guyana residents during construction and 200 residents during normal operations. Beal moved its proposed launch site to Guyana after negotiations with St. Croix fell through. Beal is undecided where to build its rocket plant and is still in negotiations with Cape Canaveral as a launch site (Florida Today).



Development of the computer-on-a-chip by TRW for Astrolink has been completed. The RH32S chip has been hardened against the radiation of space. The first five of the chips have been installed in development stations where they will be used to help produce Astrolink applications hardware. Each of the new chips contains the equivalent of 5 million transistors and replaces five of currently available chips. Each Astrolink satellite will have 16 of the new chips that will be the foundation for a distributed controller architecture. Astrolink's global broadband telecommunications system is expected to begin service in 2003 ( SpaceDaily).


NASA / DreamTime Holdings

NASA has made a five-year deal with DreamTime Holdings to bring the Shuttle experience direct to the public. Under the terms of the $100 contract, DreamTime will put shuttle launches and the International Space Station on the web and on TV. The company will also give Internet access to "tens of millions" of NASA photographs, documents, video clips and blueprints. The company also will work with NASA TV. The DreamTime deal is a result of the passage of the 1998 Commercial Space Act. DreamTime expects to have a content-heavy web site available within six months and HDTV broadcasts from the Shuttle Endeavor in 2001 -- followed soon thereafter by HDTV broadcasts from aboard the International Space Station. DreamTime derives its financial backing from its commercial partners Endeavor Agency, Excite@home, Lockheed-Martin, Sumitomo Bank and Omnicom (Florida Today; SpaceViews).

Russian Space Tourism

While it is still too early for the average millionaire to buy a trip to Mir, Russia has opened up its Gagarin Center training to the middle-class adventure seeker. For only $225 a person can take the Orientation to Space Suit Diving. For $700 the advanced Space Diver course is offered. However, for those serious about boosting their space credentials, there is the Space Suit Diver course for $6,000 which features underwater training in a real EVA suit. In the latter course, the customer practices real assembly procedures on a space station mock-up in the tank. The Gagarin center also offers courses in microgravity parabolas aboard an IL-76, the Russian version of the "Vomit Comet". Over 250 people have already taken the five to ten day courses, including 100 foreigners. Aside from hard currency, customers must be physically fit with a medical certificate from a physician stating they can handle the rigors of training (


Missile Shield

The US proposed anti-ballistic missile shield, which is a violation of the 1972 ABM Treaty between the US and the USSR, has sparked fears of a new arms race. This past week, after a meeting with President Clinton, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stated that "Everything must be done to prevent a resumption of the arms race". Other nations, including NATO allies and less- friendly nations such as China, have voiced similar concerns. Clinton replied that the US would share any new missile defense technology with its allies; stating that to keep it solely for the US's benefit would be unethical. This remark echo's President Ronald Reagan's offer to make the world a safer place by sharing the fruits of the "Star Wars" program. Clinton heads to a weekend summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the cooperative theater missile defense will be discussed along with other economic and world-health issues (AP;

Florida Space Budget

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has completed Florida's $51 billion state budget. While numerous local projects were cut from the final figures, $10 million for a state-funded research laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center and associated $4 million service road made the grade and were included in the final draft. The lab will be built by the state and leased by NASA. It will be staffed by state university professors doing support work associated with life sciences aboard the International Space Station (Florida Today).



The Cassini spacecraft enroute to Saturn is in good health with preparations being made for Trajectory Correction Maneuver 14 on June 14. Nearer to Earth plans to provide Science-data-over-the-Internet to remote sites is in place for Instrument Checkout 2 (ICO2). Instrument teams are verifying their ability to accept data.

NASA Cassini Page).


Although the Galileo spacecraft passed through Jupiter's inner system last week, scientists are only now getting to see photos taken during the last encounter with the moon Io. Because the large antenna could not be made to unfurl, data has trickled in at a slow, but steady, rate. The February images show detailed views of the Moon and changes in eruptions on volcanoes such as Tvashtar Catena. The February images show the eruption has slowed down, but that a new hot spot has emerged. Galileo is currently on its second extended mission to investigate Jupiter and its moons (SpaceViews; NASA; Spaceflight Now).

NEAR Shoemaker

Analysis of data from the Near Shoemaker spacecraft have revealed that the asteroid Eros is a remnant from the early formation of the solar system. The information came as a result of a powerful solar flare on May 4 that exposed the asteroid to X-rays. The X-ray/gamma ray spectrometer was then able to do an analysis of the constituents of the asteroid. This is the first time the composition of an "S" type of asteroid has been measured. The spacecraft continues to explore the asteroid from its 50- km orbit (SpaceViews; Cornell University; NASA; Spaceflight Now).


The Stardust spacecraft has completed Trajectory Correction Maneuver 3 to adjust its path for an Earth fly-by next January. The 72-second engine firing added 1.869 meters/second to the velocity of the craft. Stardust is enroute to an encounter with Comet Wild 2 in 2004. Two more TCMs are scheduled before the comet encounter.

Stardust Website).


Compton Gamma Ray Observatory

With only two gyroscopes operational on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), NASA managers are working to deorbit the 17-ton satellite. A series of four thruster firings will put CGRO into an orbit that passes through Earth's atmosphere. The first of these burns occurred on May 30 and the second on May 31. After the final two burns on June 4, frictional drag from the atmosphere will pull the spacecraft down even as it is being pulled apart and melted. Portions of the spacecraft are predicted to be strewn in a 16 x 1,426-mile long path across the eastern Pacific. Six tons of I-beams and bolts are expected to survive to splash down. The $670 million Observatory was deployed by the Shuttle Atlantis on April 5, 1991. The Observatory was the largest satellite deployed by the Shuttle fleet and was designed for on-orbit service. However, it was damaged early in its career and any repair effort would have exposed astronauts to dangerous rocket fuel. Additionally, the gyroscopes were placed deep within the structure of the Observatory and would not be easily serviced. Compton has long since exceeded its 2.5-year expected service life and fuel supply estimated to last 8 years. During its tenure in space, the CGRO recorded more than 2,500 gamma ray bursts and found that gamma ray explosions occur in distant galaxies nearly every day. Compton took its last reading, of our own sun on May 26. While scientists have stated that they could have worked around the gyroscope problems, NASA insisted on de-orbiting the spacecraft for safety sake. The CGRO is expected to hit the eastern Pacific at 2:20 a.m. June 4 (Florida Today; SpaceViews; NASA; Spaceflight Now).


The European Space Agency's Infrared Space telescope (ISO) has measured temperature variations on Pluto and its sister-moon Charon. Temperatures ranged from -235 to a not-so-balmy -210 degree. Pluto and Charon are nearly equal in size and rotate around a common center every 6.4 days. They are in gravity lock -- always showing each other the same side much the same as Earth's Moon. The pair are located 5,900 million km from the Sun. The results of the study are being prepared for publication in "Icarus" (ESA PR; SpaceViews; Spaceflight Now; SpaceDaily).


Tagish Lake Meteorite

The meteorite witnessed by thousands in Canada's Yukon and British Columbia has been officially named the Tagish Lake Meteorite. Fragments of the carbon-rich space rock have been recovered in pristine condition, making it one of the most valuable meteorite finds in the last 30 years. On January 18, 2000 a meteor estimated to have been originally 200 tons streaked across the far North American sky and exploded. Jim Brook recovered the first fragment of the rock from the frozen surface of Tagish Lake on January 25. The next day he found several dozen more fragments. Since that time scientists at The University of Western Ontario and University of Calgary have recovered over 500 fragments. Because the samples were not contaminated by exposure to the terrestrial environment, scientists are hailing the fragment recovery as the equivalent of a sample return mission from a rare carbonaceous chondrite meteor. Data from eyewitnesses and Department of Defense satellites has allowed researchers to determine the meteor's size, orbit and origin ( NASA; University of Calgary).



Telesat of Canada has selected Arianespace to launch the Anik F2 telecommunications satellite. Anik F2 is based upon the HS 702 platform built by Hughes Space and Communications. With a mass of 5,900 kg at launch, it is touted as the heaviest commercial telecommunications satellite ever launched. The satellite will feature 24 C-band, 32 Ku-band and an advanced Ka-band payload with 45 spot beams. It will be positioned at 111 degrees West longitude. It is expected to be launched in late 2002 by an Ariane 5 rocket (Arianespace/Telesat PR; Spaceflight Now).


XM Satellite

This past week XM Satellite Radio announced that it had formed an agreement with Best Buy Co. for Best Buy to begin selling XM Radio service. The XM service includes up to 100 channels of digital-quality radio programming for only $9.95 per month. The first satellite for the system is expected to be launched in November with service set to begin in the first half of 2001. Best Buy sells consumer electronics from 358 retail locations the U. S. (Reuters).



AeroAstro recently won a $1.2 million contract from the USAF to develop a differential GPS technology and intersatellite Ku-band communications link to help future satellites fly in precise formation. The "Star Ranger" system could be used on a variety of planned missions, including JPL's New Millenium's ST-3, the USAF Techsate21 and NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (AeroAstro; SpaceDaily).


China announced that it had successfully tested a new weapon that is capable of bringing down a cruise missile in flight. The weapon was reported to be mobile and could be carried by a single man (SpaceDaily).

Advanced EHF

The Department of Defense has approved the end of competition for the new Advanced Extremely High Frequency system. Two teams, one lead by Lockheed Martin and TRW and the other by Hughes Space and Communications, have combined their forces to work on the next generation of highly secure communications satellites. The combined players, designated the Advanced EHF National Team, will start the production phase of the contract in April 2001 and will launch the first of five satellites in late 2004. The estimated cost of the contract is around $2.5 billion. Under the new team arrangements, Lockheed Martin will lead with TRW contributing design digital processing subsystems, nulling antenna, and inter-satellite crosslinks. Hughes will provide systems integration, RF electronics and phased array antennas. The new satellites will have 10 times the capacity and six times the channel data rates of the Milstar II satellites developed and built by the same three partners. The loss of one of the new Milstar satellites during a launch failure has added urgency to the new EHF contract. By reteaming, the three companies promised to put the first of the new generation of satellites in orbit 18 months ahead of the original schedule (Florida Today; San Jose Mercury News).



The New York firm of Castle Harlan has submitted a proposal to Federal Court to acquire the assets of the bankrupt Iridium venture. The proposal is backed with a $50 million offer for the $5 billion system. If accepted, Castle Harlan will have 45 days to determine the viability of its business plan. Though officially shutdown in March, Iridium has since been quietly operating for the benefit of its subscribers and in the hopes that an 11th hour rescue would occur. To maintain even this low level of service has cost Motorola, Iridium's majority owner, several million dollars a month. Castle Harlan would submit monthly payments of $900,000 for the network. Castle Harlan was founded by John K. Castle, former CEO of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, the investment firm that has been Iridium's fiscal advisor (AP; Rich Golds; CNET).


Motorola stock got a boost this past week from a three for one stock split. After the split, the stock jumped the equivalent of 10 points and 18 points for the week; closing at 36.8125. Several investment firms have upgraded their ratings for Motorola stock (Reuters).

Boeing /Hughes

Antitrust concerns may delay the acquisition of Hughes satellite division by the aerospace giant Boeing. The European Commission, which helps protect European nations international trade, has asked for more information. On January 13 of this year, Boeing and Hughes announced that Hughes satellite division would be sold to Boeing. The deal would give Boeing a complete set of space services, while providing Hughes a capital influx to pay for its DirecTV expansion and wireless Internet projects. The deal is also being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for possible antitrust violations. Boeing is cooperating with all investigations (AP).


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 Previous Friday Change
Boeing BA 39.875 38.25 1.625
EchoStar DISH 47.0 38.6875 8.3125
GlobalStar GSTRF 9.03125 8.75 0.28125
Hughes Electronics GMH 109.9375 94.875 15.05625
Lockheed Martin LMT 24.3125 24.0625 0.25
Loral Space LOR 8.4375 7.6875 0.75
Motorola MOT 36.8125* 92.125 6.1042
Orbital Sciences ORB 13.625 11.8125 1.8125
Sirius SIRI 43.0625 37.00 6.0625
SpaceDev SPDVE.OB 1.0 1.35 -0.35
SpaceHab SPAB 4.625 4.6875 -0.0625
TRW TRW 50.6875 48 2.6875

*Motorola stock split 3 for 1 this past week.


Courtesy J. Ray and SpaceViews

  • June 4-6 - Proton / Briz, Gorizont 45, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
  • June - Zenit-2. Kosmos, Baikonur.
  • June 6 - Pegasus XL, TSX 5, Vandenberg AFB.
  • June 10 - Silicon Valley Space Enterprise Symposium, San Jose, California.
  • June 16 - Mir Crew 28 returns to Earth.
  • June 20 - Proton, Intersputnik Express-3A, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
  • June 21 - Delta 2, NAVSTAR GPS satellite, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
  • June 26 - Going Public 2000, Space Tourism Symposium, Washington, D.C.
  • June 28 - Cosmos-3M, CHAMP, MITA, BIRD, complex 132 Plesetsk, Russia.
  • June 29 - ILS Proton, Sirius 1 (CD Radio), Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan (Will likely slip to July).
  • 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.
  • Late June - X-43A-1, hypersonic test flight, Edwards AFB.
  • July - Ariane 5, Astra 2B and GE-7, ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana.
  • July 1 - Minotaur, MightySat II, Vandenberg AFB.
  • July 10-14 - Proton / Briz, ISS flight 1R, Zvezda Service Module, Baikonur, Kazakstan.
  • July 12 - Soyuz/Fregat, Cluster FM6 and FM7, Baikonur Cosmodrome.
  • July 15 - SeaLaunch Zenit-3SL, PanAmSat PAS-9, Odyssey launch platform, equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • July 20 - Lunar Development Conference, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • July 25 - Ariane 5, Astra 2B and GE-7, Kourou, French Guiana.


With the landing of the Shuttle Atlantis, the population of space has dropped back to the two Russian cosmonauts on board the Mir space station. Mir has been occupied for 58 days. Humans have spent a total of 242.5 man-days in orbit in the year 2000. The first element of the International Space Station has been in orbit for 561 days. The occupation of the International Space Station is expected to begin in the fall of 2000.



106 articles archived, 89 used

(c) Copyright Dale M. Gray June 2, 2000.

Dale M. Gray is the president of Frontier Historical Consultants. Frontier Status reports are a free weekly annotated index chronicling the progress of the emerging "space frontier". Send subscription requests (subscribe or unsubscribe).

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