On the same day of Sea Launch’s most recent launch failure event which lost the Intelsat 27 spacecraft, on 1 February, Boeing filed a lawsuit against the firms RSC Enegria and Yuznoye at the US District Court in Los Angeles demanding the payment of $356 million. Boeing alleges it is owed the money according to agreement it made with its Sea Launch partners during the setting up of the joint firm which noted that should the firm fail or be restructured, Boeing woud be paid its part of its investment back.
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A Sea Launch Zenit 3SL launch vehicle attempted to launch the Intelsat 27 satellite at 0656 on 1 February from its Odyssey launch platform located on the Equator in the Pacific Ocean at 154 degrees West. Early reports indicate that after 25 seconds of flight the first stage engines stopped operating. After 40 seconds of flight all […]
The news that Lockheed Martin has finally got back into commercial manned spaceflight transportation by joining the Sierra Nevada led team building the second Dreamchaser spaceplane will probably be a relief to its board. For while Lockheed Martin beat its main rival Boeing to the glory of building the Orion space capule for NASA’s long range manned exploration extravaganzas (to borrow from Neil Armstrong’s quip: Orion was the one part of Project Constellation that could not be “executed”) in truth, this victory was a slightly hollow one.
Perhaps the ultimate in “risk takers” in the insurance profession are space underwriters. As they try to match premium income against the risk of losses, their annual results and even their job prospects can sometimes hinge on a single spacecraft or on a single rocket launch. Following the recent trend, 2012 was again a profitable year with a net underwriting result (i.e. before costs and expenses are deducted) of circa $400 million. But practitioners in this most glamorous and devil-may-care class are worried that the good times may not continue for long.
After Flightglobal’s Hyperbola revelation that the Breeze M (Briz M) upper stage had not peformed a planned post-satellite delivery final orbit-lowering/propellant depletion manoeuvre during the latest Rockot launch, Eurorockot, the firm that markets Russian-built Rockot launch vehicles, has confirmed that an investigation is underway and that subsequent Rockot launches including the planned early year launch of the European Space Agency’s Swarm mission will now be delayed.
An obscure mechanism which caused three Space Systems/Loral-manufactured satellites, Telstar 14, Telstar 14R and Intelsat 19 to have solar array failures during their launches/deployments has finally been discovered. In an interview conducted in the space newspaper Space News (7 January 2013), John Celli, President of the US spacecraft manufacturer Space Systems/Loral, revealed that the eight-year-old mystery into why three satellites had major solar array failures had been solved by an independent investigation team. It found that it was inadvertent solar array pressurisation and exposive decompression that was the underlying cause.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorised an $87.1 million guarantee of a loan extended by Crédit Agricole and other European lenders to a subsidiary of the Spanish satellite operator, Hispasat for the manufacture of the communications satellite Amazonas 4A. The satellite is to be constructed by the US spacecraft manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corporation and will carry 24 Ku-band transponders. The satellite is expected to be launched in 2014 and will be located over Brazil to provide direct-to-home high-definition television broadcasts to the Americas region.
In what is the first orbital launch of the year, three Russian military satellites Cosmos 2482, Cosmos 2483 and Cosmos 2484 were successfully launched into low Earth orbit on 15 January 2013 a Rockot/Breeze KM rocket launched from Plesetsk in Northern Russia at 1625 GMT. The spacecraft which use the Strela-3 Improved/Rodnik bus design built by ISS Reshetnev are used in a store/forward communications application. The Russian Intelligence community are believed to be users.
Men dressed in space suits have been seen around London’s landmarks as part of marketing efforts for the Lynx Space Academy – a competition to pick and train astronauts from suborbial spaceflights. The competition’s advertising line for the flight is compelling: “Leave a Man…Come Back a Hero.”
The most recent update of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) programme (and its CCiCap follow-on) had one interesting point: all three of the leading commercial firms involved, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX, plan to have their own test-pilot astronauts fly the initial suborbial and later initial orbital manned launches of their spacecraft: the CST-100, the Dreamchaser and Dragon respectively. These should take place in the 2015-16 time frame.
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