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By | September 10, 2007

      Proton Rocket Fails In Launch, JCSAT-11 Satellite Lost

      The Proton Breeze M rocket failed after liftoff while carrying a JCSAT-11 telecommunications satellite for JSAT Corp. of Japan, Krunichev announced.

      It was the second failure in five years for the Proton Breeze M.

      Failure was caused by an anomaly in second-stage operation that prevented the lifter from inserting the satellite into orbit.

      Khrunichev expressed regret to JSAT and all partners involved in the mission.

      The launch was organized by International Launch Services, a joint venture of Space Transport Inc., Khrunichev and RSC Energia set up to provide marketing, sales and mission management for Proton launches.

      Shortly after the failure, the Russian State Agency formed a state commission to investigate the anomaly and report on the results of its findings.

      Commissioners will determine causes of the launch failure and work up its recommendations for a corrective action plan to prevent such anomalies in future.

      Khrunichev stated it will work to return Proton Breeze M to safe flight as soon as possible.

      Proton Breeze M is an upgraded version of the principal heavy-lift vehicle in Russia’s space program, the Proton. With 40 years of its flight history and an overall record of over 325 launches, Proton is among the most reliable launch vehicles and has been used to insert governmental and commercial payloads into near- Earth orbits and escape trajectories.

      The Proton Breeze M version, operational since April 2001, is characterized by high power capacity and improved performance. The JCSAT 11 mission was the 17th Proton Breeze M flight overall.

      JCSAT-11 marks the 34th A2100 spacecraft designed and built by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT].

      Under ILS auspices Proton Breeze M has executed 16 commercial missions, out of which two missions failed, since its inaugural commercial flight in 2002.

      India Launches Telecommunications Satellite, Signaling Future Opportunity

      India launched a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket with a telecommunications satellite payload that may herald expanded launch-business openings for the south Asian nation, according to Itar-Tass.

      The advanced satellite was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) in Sriharikota in the Bay of Bengal.

      Liftoff came after a one-day delay forced by bad weather, and a two-hour delay caused by a technical glitch that required systems tests.

      A similar three-stage 49-meter-long rocket of about 414 tons made an abortive launch on July 10 last year in a flight that lasted but 61 seconds.

      One stage of the GSLV has four boosters. The second stage uses liquid fuel, while the third stage, which puts the satellite in orbit, has a Russian cryogenic engine.

      The launch aimed to put the super-modern telecom satellite INSAT-4CR into a circumterrestrial orbit and thus broaden television and communication resources of India.

      That 2,130-kilogram satellite was designed and produced at the ISRO center in Bangalore. This satellite is identical to one lost in the abortive launch last year.

      The satellite is carrying 12 high powered Ku-band transponders for DTH services, video picture transmission and digital satellite news gathering.

      Kinetic Energy Interceptor Completes Rocket Motor Test

      The Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) ballistic missile defense (BMD) system completed a Stage 1 rocket motor test, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced.

      Conducted at the Alliant Techsystems [ATK] test facility in Promontory, Utah, this month, it was the third successful Stage 1 test in the past 18 months, according to MDA.

      In the test, the Stage 1 rocket motor ignited properly and successfully completed a full-duration burn during the test, meeting test objectives which included an elevated firing temperature and a successful performance of the new hybrid booster nozzle throat.

      This is yet one more successful test in a larger move to forming a multi-program shield against incoming enemy ballistic missiles, an effort led by MDA.

      Except for the Airborne Laser program, (please see separate stories on ABL in this issue), KEI alone takes out enemy missiles in their most vulnerable "boost" phase, shortly after liftoff from a launch pad or silo.

      The KEI is a three-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile interceptor that is approximately 40 inches in diameter and 466 inches long, using a kill vehicle to slam into the enemy weapon and destroy it.

      Once operational, KEI will be capable of carrying the future multiple kill vehicle system now in development, which involves a shotgun approach to missile defense using several small interceptor kill vehicles aboard a single missile to defeat not only a hostile missile warhead but also any decoys or countermeasures that could be present.

      KEI will use high-acceleration rocket motors to intercept intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles during their boost, ascent and midcourse phases of flight.

      As of now, KEI remains on schedule to conduct a booster rocket flight test in 2008. It will shoot down a target missile in flight a couple of years later.

      KEI will be an important future element of the overall Ballistic Missile Defense System as part of an integrated, layered defense against ballistic missiles of all ranges, during any phase of their flight.

      Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] is the KEI prime contractor, with Raytheon Co. [RTN] as the principal subcontractor.

      "Confidence in KEI continues to be extremely high," said Craig Staresinich, Northrop Grumman KEI vice president and general manager. "This program has accomplished everything the MDA has set out for it to do, in large part because of our rigorous testing program. This, coupled with the enormous talent we have on this program, has enabled us to reach several critical knowledge points. Each test proves the viability of the KEI booster. We look forward to the next six tests as we prepare to further demonstrate our capability next year."

      Initial results from the test matched expectations for performance and integrity.

      That test marks the third of five planned tests to be conducted of the Stage 1 motor. With each test, the team reduces risk by deriving data from each subsequent test to optimize design performance and finalize development of the flight configuration motor.

      In addition to these three Stage 1 tests, the team has also proven the Stage 2 motor concept and plans four more tests of that motor in Elkton, Md., through next year.

      The Northrop Grumman KEI team is nationwide, with major operations in Fair Lakes, Va.; Huntsville, Ala; and San Bernardino, Calif. Principal teammates include Raytheon, Tucson, Ariz.; ATK, Promontory, Utah, and Elkton, Md.; Orbital Sciences [ORB], Phoenix and Chandler, Ariz.; Honeywell, Tempe, Ariz.; Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif.; Ball Aerospace, Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Kuchera, Johnstown, Pa.

      Arianspace Sees Two-Satellite Launch At End Of Month

      Arianespace expects to launch two satellites at the end of this month, according to the company.

      The firm took delivery of the Ariane 5 launcher for its upcoming dual-payload mission, which will orbit the Intelsat 11 and Optus D2 satellite payloads from the European Spaceport in French Guiana.

      The Ariane 5 GS vehicle was transferred from the Spaceport Launcher Integration Building — where it was assembled under the management of prime contractor Astrium Space Transportation, to the Final Assembly Building — where Arianespace will oversee installation of the two satellites.

      Liftoff of the mission is set for the end of September. The flight will be Arianespace’s fourth with the workhorse Ariane 5 this year.

      Both satellites for the upcoming Ariane 5 flight were built in the United States by Orbital Sciences Corp. [ORB] of Dulles, Virginia.

      Australian-based Optus will operate Optus D2 for the development of new business opportunities in the direct-to-home market, as well as offering new data services and services bundling.

      This second satellite in the Optus D-series fleet follows Optus D1, which was orbited by an Ariane 5 in October.

      Optus D2 will have a liftoff mass of approximately 2,350 kg. Its STAR satellite bus will provide 3.8 kilowatts of payload power to service the 24 active transponders. To be positioned at 152 degrees East, the craft has a mission design life of 15 years.

      Atlas 5 Cape Canaveral Launch Slips A Week To Sept. 21

      A hardware fix prompted by an earlier launch failure is delaying an Atlas 5 launch from Cape Canaveral to Sept. 21, rather than the expected liftoff Thursday.

      That launch Sept. 21 now is set for 8:10 p.m. from Launch Complex 41.

      A valve that caused a fuel leak in an ill-fated June 15 launch has been replaced.

      NASA still expects to launch the Dawn spacecraft Sept. 26, however.

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