Putting its money worries aside, Russia will be pushing its space technology at Le Bourget. The Khrunichev Space Centre (5B/4) will feature a scale-model of the first component of the International Space Station (ISS). Called the Functional Control Block (FGB), the 20t module will be launched aboard a Proton booster in June 1998, to inaugurate the assembly of the ISS. The FGB will provide propulsion and power through the early assembly stages, along with fuel storage and a rendezvous and docking pod for the Russian Service Module, which is scheduled to be launched in December 1998. Khrunichev will also display a model of the venerable Russian Proton launcher, together with the uprated Proton M and a new, planned satellite launcher, the Angara.

Le Bourget is well known for its permanent display of an Ariane booster. The last show at Paris featured the debut of the new Ariane 5, which was still to be launched. A year later, in June 1996, it suffered a catastrophic mid-ßight explosion after a guidance-system failure. In its adjacent pavilion (14), the European Space Agency (ESA) will be keen to put on a bullish show, despite industry rumours that the troubled Ariane 5 may not make another flight until early in 1998, rather than the September date being talked about previously.

Another major ESA project, which is taking off on 5 October, will be the Huygens spacecraft. The Aerospatiale-built craft will ride piggyback with NASA's Cassini aboard a Titan 4 en route for the planet Saturn. The Cassini will enter orbit around the planet, while the Huygens will land on the Saturnian moon Titan, with the aide of a Martin Baker parachute system.

The Arianespace pavilion (15) will also be close to the Ariane 5 model. Arianespace, which will take over the Ariane 5 later in 1998, will be marketing a new operation this year. Called Starsem, it is owned by Arianespace, Aerospatiale, Russian company Samara and the Russian Space Agency. Starsem's aim is to market and develop Russia's most successful satellite launcher, the Soyuz, which has had 1,000 successful launches, including a record 100 consecutive successes.

Japan's aerospace industries will be featuring the H2 satellite launcher, which is being uprated to enable it compete more effectively in the commercial market. On the US side, a key part of the Lockheed Martin show will be the X-33 demonstrator vehicle of a re-usable launcher system, the VentureStar.

Source: Flight International