Launches

By | February 25, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

Russian Firm Gazcom To Launch Two Satellites In First Half Of 2009

Gazcom, the Russian firm, will launch two Yamal-300 satellites in the first half of next year, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The company is the telecommunications arm of Gazprom, the huge Russian energy firm.

Under a contract with Rocket and Space Corp. Energia, the satellite producer, as of the end of last year, Gascom paid about half of the project fees.

Those newer satellites would add to three Yamal telecommunication satellites for Gazcom, designed and built jointly with Energia.

Robotic European Cargo Spaceship, The Automated Transfer Vehicle, Is Mounted On Huge Ariane5 Rocket; Crews Now Prepare To Attach Solid Rocket Boosters

Heavy-Duty Lifter System To Carry Automated Transfer Vehicle Into Orbit To Supply International Space Station; Launch Is March 8

The largest Ariane 5 payload ever has now been integrated on the launch vehicle, taking the upcoming historic mission with the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) one step closer to its March 8 liftoff, according to Arianespace.

That ATV will be a robotic cargo vehicle that will help supply the International Space Station.

Integration of the payload, along with the ATV power-up, occurred at the European Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

The two solid-propellant strap-on boosters for Arianespace’s second Ariane 5 flight of 2008 are ready for integration with their heavy-lift launch vehicle.

These large boosters rolled out of the assembly facility and were transferred to the Ariane 5 Launcher Integration Building for mating with the vehicle’s core cryogenic stage.

The boosters contain 240 tons of solid propellant each. They are ignited on the launch pad approximately six seconds after the startup of Ariane 5’s core stage Vulcain 2 main cryogenic engine. Together, the boosters and cryogenic main engine provide the thrust for Ariane 5’s liftoff and initial ascent. The boosters are jettisoned after some 140 seconds of operation, leaving the launcher’s core stage to continue with its climb-out.

Arianespace plans a total of seven Ariane 5 flights in 2008 as the company continues a ramp-up in the mission pace.

Launch Schedule

2008

Date: March 11 +

Mission: STS-123

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 2:28 a.m. EDT

Description: Mission STS-123 on Space Shuttle Endeavour will deliver the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module – Pressurized Section (ELM-PS) on the twenty-fifth mission to the International Space Station.

Date: April 17

Mission: STSS ATRR – Missile Defense Agency

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Launch Time: **

Description: STSS ATRR serves as a pathfinder for future launch and mission technology for the Missile Defense Agency. To be launched by NASA for the MDA.

Date: May 16

Mission: GLAST

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17 – Pad 17-B

Launch Window: 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. EDT

Description: An heir to its successful predecessor — the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory — the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope will have the ability to detect gamma rays in a range of energies from thousands to hundreds of billions of times more energetic than the light visible to the human eye. Radiation of such magnitude can only be generated under the most extreme conditions, thus GLAST will focus on studying the most energetic objects and phenomena in the universe.

Date: May 25 +

Mission: STS-124

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 7:26 p.m. EDT

Description: Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 will transport the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS) to the International Space Station.

Date: June 15

Mission: OSTM

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Launch Time: 4:47 a.m. EDT/1:47 a.m. PDT

Description: The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite will be a follow-on to the Jason mission.

Date: July 15

Mission: IBEX

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL Rocket

Launch Site: Reagan Test Site, Kwajalein Atoll

Description: IBEX’s science objective is to discover the global interaction between the solar wind and the interstellar medium and will achieve this objective by taking a set of global energetic neutral atom images that will answer four fundamental science questions.

Date: Aug. 8 *

Mission: GOES-O

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta IV

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17

Description: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program, the multimission Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series N-P. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science.

Date: Aug. 14 +

Mission: TacSat-3

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Minotaur Rocket

Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility – Goddard Space Flight Center

Description: NASA will support the Air Force launch of the TacSat-3 satellite, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. TacSat-3 will demonstrate the capability to furnish real-time data to the combatant commander. NASA Ames will fly a microsat and NASA Wallops will fly the CubeSats on this flight in addition to providing the launch range.

Date: Aug. 28 +

Mission: STS-125

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 8:24 a.m. EDT

Description: Space Shuttle Atlantis will fly seven astronauts into space for the fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight, the crew will repair and improve the observatory’s capabilities through 2013.

Date: Oct. 16 +

Mission: STS-126

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space Shuttle Endeavour launching on assembly flight ULF2, will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station.

Date: Oct. 28

Mission: LRO/LCROSS

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 41

Description: The mission objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are to advance the Vision for Space Exploration by confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

Date: Dec. 1 *

Mission: SDO

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 41

Description: The first Space Weather Research Network mission in the Living With a Star (LWS) Program of NASA.

Date: Dec. 4 +

Mission: STS-119

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space Shuttle Discovery launching on assembly flight 15A, will deliver the fourth starboard truss segment to the International Space Station.

Date: Dec. 15

Mission: OCO

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC 576-E

Description: The Orbiting Carbon Observatory is a new Earth orbiting mission sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program.

2009

Date: Feb. 1

Mission: NOAA-N Prime

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Description: NOAA-N Prime is the latest polar-orbiting satellite developed by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA uses two satellites, a morning and afternoon satellite, to ensure every part of the Earth is observed at least twice every 12 hours. NOAA-N will collect information about Earth’s atmosphere and environment to improve weather prediction and climate research across the globe.

Date: Feb. 16

Mission: Kepler

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17 – Pad 17-B

Description: The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth- size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone.

Date: March 1

Mission: Glory

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC 576-E

Description: The Glory Mission will help increase our understanding of the Earth’s energy balance by collecting data on the properties of aerosols and black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and how the Sun’s irradiance affects the Earth’s climate.

Source: NASA

Airborne Laser Nears Assembly Completion; Test Against Missile Seen Next Year

The Airborne Laser (ABL) ballistic missile defense platform is nearing completion, with installation of its laser weapon system that will be able to demolish enemy missiles and fry their electronics, The Boeing Co. [BA] stated.

Next year, the fully assembled ABL system will face a key test, in which it will shoot down a target missile.

Boeing, prime contractor on the ABL program, announced the installation of all six chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) modules on the ABL aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The ABL involves a heavily-modified 747-400F jumbo jet aircraft, containing the COIL high-powered lasers by Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] and the beam control/fire control system by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT]. Boeing also provides the battle management system.

Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering III, Missile Defense Agency director, said Feb. 12 that the ABL is making "tremendous progress" as it consistently hits its program milestones. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008.)

Overall laser integration is more than 70 percent complete, according to Boeing. Once plumbing and wiring installation occurs and final inspections of the laser are complete, system activation and ground tests of the laser inside the aircraft will begin. Facilities, testing and safety procedures at Edwards are being upgraded to accommodate laser tests in the aircraft hangar.

Aside from the lasers, much of the ABL system was in place on the prototype 747 aircraft last year. The gimbal-mounted device to aim the laser beam at an enemy missile was mounted in the nose of the aircraft, and much of the equipment to feed laser beams from the COIL units to the front of the aircraft also was in place.

The gigantic area for the COIL units at the rear of the plane then was vacant.

Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said teams working on the program have greatly reduced the time needed to install laser equipment.

The laser modules were demonstrated successfully in ground testing in late 2005 in the system integration laboratory at Edwards and completed the refurbishment phase late last year.

The low-power beam control and fire control systems demonstrated their capability last year by tracking an airborne target, measuring and compensating for atmospheric turbulence and firing a surrogate high-energy laser at the target. This dual-path approach demonstrated all key ABL technologies.

Integration of the high-energy laser in the aircraft will lead to ground and flight tests of the entire ABL weapon system, culminating in an airborne intercept test against a ballistic missile in summertime next year.

While some U.S. missile defense systems wait to strike enemy missiles until they are in their midcourse or terminal (final) phases of flight, ABL annihilates enemy weapons when they are most vulnerable, in their initial or boost phase, before they have time to spew forth confusing chaff, decoys or multiple warheads.

Also, once built, the ABL aircraft would provide the lowest cost per enemy missile killed, since lasers — beams of light — are cheaper than interceptor missiles employed by other missile defense systems.

ABL also would be effective for other missions, including destroying air-to-air, cruise and surface-to-air missiles.

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