Launches

By | July 21, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

Sea Launch Boosts EchoStar XI Satellite To Orbit

Sea Launch, the mobile seagoing launch platform, saw a Zenit-3SL rocket blast off to deliver the EchoStar XI broadcast satellite into orbit, the company said.

The bird will broadcast for DISH Network.

After lifting off from the Odyssey Launch Platform in equatorial waters, the Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 5,511 kg (12,150 lb) EchoStar XI satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 110 degrees West Longitude.

Operators at the Gnangara ground station in Perth, Australia, acquired the first EchoStar signals from orbit shortly after spacecraft separation. All systems performed nominally throughout the mission.

Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), the EchoStar XI spacecraft is designed for an orbital service life of 15 years, with 20kW of power to support the expansion of DISH Network’s capacity and capabilities to customers throughout the United States.

The Boeing Co. [BA] is a 40 percent partner in Sea Launch.

Full-Scale Missile Defense Test Postponed To Fix Circuit Boards

But Test Of Radar Systems Tracking Target Missile Goes Well

A test of radars tracking a target missile launched from Kodiak, Alaska, showed the sensors aced the trial, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced.

While MDA had hoped to use a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor missile in the test, that had to be postponed until late this year because of a computer card glitch.

So MDA launched the target missile with countermeasures, and challenged radars of missile defense systems to track it, which they did well.

The target was acquired and tracked by several space, ground and sea-based sensors which provided data to the missile defense system Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system, and also to the GMD fire control system in Colorado Springs, Colo., to support a simulated interceptor missile engagement.

Participating sensors included a transportable AN/TPY-2 X-band radar temporarily located in Juneau, Alaska; a Navy Aegis destroyer with a SPY-1 radar; an upgraded early warning radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and the Sea-Based X-band radar mounted on a floating platform and positioned in the Pacific Ocean.

This was the most challenging flight test of the missile defense system’s command and control software to date, the MDA stated. It required the system to process complex data from multiple sources simultaneously and develop an engagement solution necessary to intercept a threat-representative long-range ballistic missile target.

During the test, target tracking data from the radars was transmitted to the command and control system and the GMD fire control system.

Although the target missile entry into the planned intercept area in space was shorter than expected, a plan to intercept and kill it was generated and operational crews simulated the launch of a GMD interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Data also went to the Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, where operators developed an engagement solution for a simulated intercept using a sea-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor missile after receiving a target launch cue from the AN/TPY-2 radar in Alaska.

Armed services personnel performed much of the work in the test. The GMD program is led by The Boeing Co. [BA]. The sea-based system uses an Aegis radar, weapon control and guidance system by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] and a Standard Missile-3 interceptor by Raytheon Co. [RTN].

Program officials will spend the next several weeks sorting, cataloging and evaluating a huge amount of data obtained by the radars and command and control system based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Flight test results will help to r improve and refine performance of the missile defense technology that provides a defense against the type of long-range ballistic missile that could be used to attack an American city with a weapon of mass destruction, the MDA stated.

"This successful test verified that four sensors separated by thousands of miles can detect, track and provide precise trajectory information to help defend against a long- range ballistic missile attack," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems

The net result is that MDA last week managed to gain experience with those sensors in a simulated take-down of the target missile, even though it wasn’t able to use an actual interceptor in a real flight to take out the target.

That shoot-down test with the interceptor that had been slated to go off Friday instead may occur in December, after a glitch is fixed, according to Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering III, MDA director.

Originally, the plan was to launch the target missile from Kodiak, Alaska, and then launch the interceptor from Vandenberg, he explained.

The target would have been tracked by a mobile deployable radar, and also a radar at Beale, he told journalists at a Pentagon briefing.

The radars would have fed their tracking data to the interceptor to guide it toward the kill.

Also, the Navy would have had a surface combatant ship with an Aegis radar and weapons control system track the target to see whether that drew an accurate bead on the target missile.

But the full shoot-down version of the test had to be postponed, because computer circuitry in the interceptor was flawed. Obering emphasized that this was a minor production problem, and didn’t involve any basic flaw in the design or capability of the interceptor.

"It was a bad technique for soldering that caused the problem on the [computer circuitry] card," affecting all of the test interceptors, but not GMD interceptors that are operational, Obering explained.

The card problems meant there was a possibility of losing all test data, and given that tests are expensive, MDA opted to postpone the test until the problem could be fixed, Obering said.

So instead of executing the shoot-down test, MDA decided to launch the target and have it tracked by the forward deployable radar, the sea-based Aegis system, the SBX radar, and the radar at Beale AFB, he said.

That was fed to a simulated interceptor

Boeing Delivers Orbiting Satellite To DIRECTV

The Boeing Co. [BA] announced DIRECTV Inc. took on-orbit delivery of the DIRECTV 11 satellite, a direct-to-home TV broadcasting asset covering homes in the United States.

Sea Launch launched DIRECTV 11 March 19 on a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket from the floating equatorial launch site in the Pacific Ocean.

Boeing is a 40 percent partner in Sea Launch.

The newest spacecraft in DIRECTV’s fleet will begin transmitting additional national high-definition signals, expanding DIRECTV’s HD platform to up to 150 national channels and local HD channels in well over 100 markets by this fall.

The satellite was handed over eight days ahead of schedule.

DIRECTV 11 is the fourth Ka-band Boeing 702 satellite built for DIRECTV at the Boeing satellite manufacturing facility in El Segundo, Calif.

Crew Named For Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-128 Mission Next Year

NASA named seven crew astronauts who will launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis in the STS-128 Mission to the International Space Station on July 30 next year.

The giant vehicle will carry science and storage racks to the International Space Station.

Marine Corps Col. Frederick W. "Rick" Sturckow will command Atlantis, while retired Air Force Col. Kevin A. Ford will be the pilot.

Mission specialists are NASA astronauts John D. "Danny" Olivas, retired Army Col. Patrick G. Forrester, Jose M. Hernandez and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang.

The mission will deliver a new station crew member, Nicole Stott, to the complex and return Tim Kopra to Earth. Ford, Hernandez and Stott will be making their first trips to space. Stott and Kopra were previously assigned in February to station missions.

Atlantis will carry a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science and storage racks to the station.

The mission will include three spacewalks to remove and replace a materials processing experiment outside the ESA Columbus laboratory module attached to the space station, and return an empty ammonia tank assembly.

Sturckow flew as the commander of STS-117 in 2007, and was the pilot of STS-105 in 2001 and STS-88 in 1998. He considers Lakeside, Calif., his hometown. Sturckow has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State University. He was selected as an astronaut in 1994.

Ford considers Montpelier, Ind., his hometown. He has a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame, master’s degrees in international relations from Troy State University in Alabama and aerospace engineering from the University of Florida, and a doctorate in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000.

Olivas flew as a mission specialist and conducted two spacewalks during STS-117 in 2007. He was raised in El Paso, Texas. Olivas has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas-El Paso, a master’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and a doctorate in mechanical engineering and materials science from Rice University. He was selected as an astronaut in 1998.

Forrester flew as a mission specialist on STS-117 in 2007 and on STS-105 in 2001. He has conducted four spacewalks. He was born in El Paso, Texas. Forrester has a bachelor’s in applied sciences and engineering from the U.S. Military Academy and a master’s in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia.

He was selected as an astronaut in 1996.

Hernandez considers Stockton, Calif., his hometown. He has a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the University of the Pacific and a master’s in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He was selected as an astronaut in 2004.

Fuglesang flew as a mission specialist and conducted three spacewalks on STS-116 in 2006. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Fuglesang has a master’s in engineering physics from the Royal Institute of Technology and a doctorate in experimental particle physics from the University of Stockholm. He was selected to join the ESA astronaut corps in 1992 and began training at Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1996.

NASA’s Shuttle and Rocket Missions

Updated — July 15, 2008 – 10:30 a.m. EDT

Legend: + Targeted For | * No Earlier Than (Tentative) | ** To Be Determined

2008 Launches

Date: October +

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: Oct. 5 *

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: Oct. 8 +

Mission: STS-125

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 1:34 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: Nov. 10 +

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: Nov. 20 *

Mission: STSS Demonstrators Program – Missile Defense Agency

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17, Pad A

Description: STSS Demonstrators Program is a midcourse tracking technology demonstrator and is part of an evolving ballistic missile defense system. STSS is capable of tracking objects after boost phase and provides trajectory information to other sensors and interceptors. To be launched by NASA for the Missile Defense Agency.

Date: Nov. 24 *

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. 16 *

Mission: GOES-O

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta IV

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 37

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.

2009 Launches

Date: Jan. 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.

Date: Feb. 4

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. 12+

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: 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: April 30

Mission: STSS ATRR – Missile Defense Agency

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

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

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 15 +

Mission: STS-127

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the exposed facility of Japan’s Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station.

Date: June 15

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.

Date: July 30 +

Mission: STS-128

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Atlantis will use a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to carry experiment and storage racks to the International Space Station.

Date: Oct. 15 +

Mission: STS-129

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Discovery will deliver components including two spare gyroscopes, two nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly and a spare latching end effector for the station’s robotic arm to the International Space Station.

Date: Dec. 10 +

Mission: STS-130

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the final connecting node, Node 3, and the Cupola, a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the International Space Station.

2010 Launches

Date: Feb. 11 +

Mission: STS-131

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Atlantis will carry a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module filled with science racks that will be transferred to laboratories of the International Space Station.

Date: April 8 +

Mission: STS-132

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Discovery mission will carry an integrated cargo carrier to deliver maintenance and assembly hardware, including spare parts for space station systems. In addition, the second in a series of new pressurized components for Russia, a Mini Research Module, will be permanently attached to the bottom port of the Zarya module.

Date: May 31 +

Mission: STS-133

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver critical spare components including antennas and gas tanks to the International Space Station.

Source: NASA

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