Launches

By | August 4, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

Another Major Loss For SpaceX As Falcon 1 Suffers Separation Failure During Ascent

Space X Still Has More Missions Planned, And It Remains Set To Provide Commercial Transport Services To Supply Space Station

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or Space X, suffered its third loss in as many launch attempts when the first and second stages of its Falcon 1 rocket failed to separate, Space X announced.

NASA has provided seed money to Space X for the firm to develop commercial orbital transportation systems, or COTS, for logistics missions carrying materiel to the International Space Station after the NASA space shuttle stops flying in 2010. The replacement U.S. spacecraft system, Orion-Ares, won’t have its first manned mission until 2015.

Further, NASA in April gave SpaceX a contract that potentially could be in the billion-dollar class to use SpaceX Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets to transport cargo into space.

How much money SpaceX would receive would depend on how many launches NASA wishes to buy.

Also, Space X has hoped to usher in an era of low-cost, private launch services.

Space X CEO and CTO Elon Musk said the latest failure "was obviously a big disappointment."

At least the first stage of the Falcon 1 worked well, he observed in an email to employees.

That involved "the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9," which performed in a "picture perfect" fashion, he stated.

The launch occurred at the Kwajalein Atoll, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, on Omelek Island, part of the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA).

"Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation, causing the stages to be held together," Musk explained. "This is under investigation and I will send out a note as soon as we understand exactly what happened."

The stages are supposed to separate with the firing of explosive, pyrotechnic bolts.

Previously, Space X saw a launch failure on March 20 last year when separation went well but there was excitation or gyration of the second stage. Also, on March 24, 2006, a fuel line leak caused the loss of the space vehicle shortly after liftoff. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Monday, March 27, 2007.)

But Musk said the back-to-back, three-for-three failures have left him undaunted, vowing he will press on. A successful businessmen in earlier ventures, Musk has poured millions of dollars into his attempt to create a private access to space.

He disclosed that Space X also has accepted a large investment, as a hedge against a potential failure that in fact occurred Saturday.

"As a precautionary measure to guard against the possibility of flight 3 not reaching orbit," as in fact turned out to be the case, "SpaceX recently accepted a significant investment," Musk announced. His memo didn’t name the source of the investment. "Combined with our existing cash reserves, that ensures we will have more than sufficient funding on hand to continue launching Falcon 1 and develop Falcon 9 and Dragon. There should be absolutely zero question that SpaceX will prevail in reaching orbit and demonstrating reliable space transport. For my part, I will never give up and I mean never."

Musk stressed that despite the three failures, Space X still has ample future missions remaining.

"The most important message I’d like to send right now is that SpaceX will not skip a beat in execution going forward," he told his employees. "We have flight four of Falcon 1 almost ready for flight and flight five right behind that. I have also given the go ahead to begin fabrication of flight six."

He also is looking forward to a future move into a much larger rocket.

"Falcon 9 development will also continue unabated, taking into account the lessons learned with Falcon 1," he wrote. "We have made great progress this past week with the successful nine engine firing."

Falcon 1 is a two-stage, liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene powered launch vehicle. The first stage is powered by a single SpaceX Merlin 1C Regenerative engine that was used for the first time on the weekend launch, and worked well.

The second stage is powered by a single SpaceX Kestrel engine.

Falcon 1 is the first new orbital rocket in more than a decade. Merlin is the first new American hydrocarbon engine for an orbital booster to be flown in more than 40 years and only the second new American engine of any kind in more than a quarter century, according to Space X.

Falcon 1 carried a payload stack of three separating satellites.

The Trailblazer satellite was developed by SpaceDev of Poway, Calif., for the Jumpstart Program of the Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office, as a test platform to validate the hardware, software and processes of an accelerated microsatellite launch.

Falcon 1 also carried two small NASA satellites: PRESat, a micro laboratory from the Ames Research Center, and NanoSail-D, an ultra-thin solar sail developed by the Marshall Space Flight Center, in collaboration with Ames Research Center.

The three separating satellites were attached to the Falcon 1 second stage via the Secondary Payload Adaptor and Separation System, (SPASS), developed by ATSB, a company owned by the Government of Malaysia that develops and commercializes space technology.

These are scheduled future Space X launches:

 

Customer Target Date Vehicle Launch Site
US Government & ATSB Q3 2008* Falcon 1 Kwajalein
ATSB (Malaysia) Q3 2008* Falcon 1 Kwajalein
US Government Q4 2008* Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral
MDA Corp. (Canada) 2009 Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral
Avanti Communications (UK) 2009 Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral
NASA COTS – Demo 1 2009 Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral
NASA COTS – Demo 2 2009 Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral
SpaceDev 2009 Falcon 1 Kwajalein
NASA COTS – Demo 3 2010 Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral
MDA Corp. (Canada) 2010 Falcon 1 Kwajalein
Swedish Space Corp. (Sweden) 2010 Falcon 1 Kwajalein
Bigelow Aerospace 2011 Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral

PAST MISSIONS

 

Customer Launch Vehicle Launch Site
DemoFlight 2 March 20, 2007 Falcon 1 Kwajalein
DemoFlight 1 March 24, 2006 Falcon 1 Kwajalein

*Target dates are for vehicle arrival at launch site. Source: Space X

Paveway Missile Passes Trials For U.K. Royal Air Force: Raytheon

The Paveway IV missile passed capability demonstration trials for the U.K. Royal Air Force, Raytheon Co. [RTN] announced.

Those tests at China Lake, Calif., showed the full range of operational capabilities of the next-generation general purpose air-to-ground weapon system.

Paveway IV Weapon System is a low-cost, day-night, all-weather, general purpose precision-bombing capability.

The trials, which demonstrated Paveway IV integration with RAF Harrier GR9 strike aircraft, included release of 14 operational weapons demonstrating capability across the full range of Paveway IV operational parameters.

Raytheon Systems Limited is the U.K.-based subsidiary of Raytheon Co. It is a prime contractor and major supplier to the U.K. Ministry of Defence and has developed strong capabilities in mission systems integration in defense, national security and commercial markets. RSL also designs, develops and manufactures a range of high technology electronic systems and software at its facilities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Compared with standard 500-pound class weapons, the enhanced capabilities of Paveway IV include: insensitive munition warhead with increased penetration; cockpit selectable terminal fuzing with air burst and post impact delay; highly reliable second environment sensing via unique arming maneuver; delayed arming to minimize collateral damage; and GPS anti-jam resistance via inertial-only guidance mode.

Paveway IV is integrated on the Harrier GR9. It currently is being integrated on the Tornado GR4, Typhoon and Joint Strike Fighter.

Precision Attack Missiles Are Launched In Test

Non-Line-of-Sight-Launch System Precision Attack Missile (PAM) weapons were launched successfully.

Netfires LLC, a joint venture of Raytheon Co. [RTN] unit Missile Systems and Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] unit Missiles and Fire Control, leads the program.

"The success of Control Test Vehicle-2, CTV-3 and CTV-4 allows us to conclude the first phase of controlled test flights," said Scott Speet, executive vice president of NetFires LLC and Raytheon’s NLOS-LS program director. "NLOS-LS is now ready to begin the guided flight test phase in September."

To prove the missile’s stability during flight, the test stressed the airframe to its limits using high-gravitational force maneuvers. The PAM joined the network after launch and operated as a node on the net throughout the flight using its onboard radio.

The NLOS-LS is one of the 14 Future Combat Systems core systems. As part of the FCS systems-of-systems, the NLOS-LS will meet the requirements of the Army’s future brigade combat teams by providing increased capability for the current force’s modular teams.

NLOS-LS provides the brigade commander immediate, precise and responsive fires on high-payoff targets with real-time target acquisition and battle effects. It is also one of the key Littoral Combat Ship mission modules.

Compared to systems with equivalent firepower, the NLOS-LS provides a modular, persistent, responsive, networked and rapidly deployable precision-strike capability against moving and stationary target

Intelsat Satellite Delivered To Launch Base, Space Systems/Loral Announces

A satellite built for Intelsat was delivered to Sea Launch, which will handle orbiting the bird, Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) announced.

Space Systems/Loral, a unit of Loral Space & Communications, delivered the satellite at Long Beach, Calif., home port for Sea Launch.

Galaxy 19 is the fifth satellite SS/L has shipped this year.

It also is the 43rd satellite that SS/L has provided to Intelsat and it is the ninth SS/L-built spacecraft to be taken to orbit by Sea Launch. Following the planned launch next month, there will be 56 Space Systems/Loral satellites currently in orbit.

Galaxy 19 is based on the SS/L 1300 space-proven platform, which provides the flexibility to support a broad range of applications and technology advances, according to the company.

Russia To Use ICBM To Launch Thai Satellite Wednesday

Russia will use a converted RS-20 Voyevoda intercontinental ballistic missile to launch a Thai Earth observation satellite on Wednesday, according to the Russian RIA Novosti news service.

The Russian Strategic Missile Forces announced the rocket will rise from a silo in the southern Urals, the news agency reported.

That launch was arranged with Kosmotras, a Russian-Ukrainian joint venture, which converts RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) missiles into Dnepr launch vehicles.

The old ICBM will loft the THEOS space imagery satellite, a European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. product made by EADS unit EADS Astrium, for the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology.

A cartographic asset, the satellite will aid agriculture, forestry and other areas.

NASA’s Shuttle and Rocket Missions

Updated — August 1, 2008 – 4 p.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

Launch Window: 12:36 – to 12:43 p.m. EDT

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: 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. 27 *

 

Mission: LRO/LCROSS

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

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

Description: LRO will launch with the objectives to finding safe landing sites, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment and test new technology. The Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite mission is seeking a definitive answer about the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

Date: April 10

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: Sept. 15 *

 

Mission: Mars Science Laboratory

Description: The Mars Science Laboratory is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life and to determine the planet’s habitability.

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: November +

Mission: WISE

Description: The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) will survey the entire sky in the mid-infrared with far greater sensitivity than any previous mission or program ever has. The WISE survey will consist of over a million images, from which hundreds of millions of astronomical objects will be catalogued.

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: Jan. 26

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: 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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