Final Delta

In the early 1970s, McDonnell Douglas set out to upgrade its Delta to carry satellites that were too heavy for the 2000 series, but not so large as to need an Atlas-Centaur. As introduced in 1975, the 3914 was its 2000 series counterpart with Castor IV (TX-526) strap-ons and a Star 37 third stage with a capacity to geosynchronous transfer orbit of 930 kilograms. In 1980 the third stage was replaced by the PAM-D. This Payload Assist Module was developed by McDonnell Douglas for use by Shuttle...

Global Stars frustration

GlobalStar was close on Iridium's heels. A Delta II from Canaveral put its first four satellites into orbit on 14 February 1998.H65 By the time of Iridium's initiation of The first five Iridium satellites are loaded onto the dispenser. The first five Iridium satellites are loaded onto the dispenser. service, GlobalStar had eight of its 48-satellite constellation in orbit, and was planning to launch a further 36 by the end of the year, sending them on three Zenit 2 launchers. The insurance...

The Shuttle

Telstar, the world's first commercial communications satellite, was developed by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT& T) as a private venture, and launched by NASA on a Delta on 10 July 1962. Although the satellite relayed the first television across the Atlantic, large swivelling antennas were required to communicate with it and the 6,000-kilometre apogee restricted its use as a longdistance relay to brief periods. On 31 August 1962 the US government passed the Communications...

Notes

Harvey, Springer-Praxis, 2004, p. 82. 3. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 26 August, 1996, p. 25. 6. Flight International, 31 May-6 June 1995, p. 55. 7. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 26 February 1996, p. 68. 8. In fact, this satellite had been deployed by a Space Shuttle in February 1984 as Westar 6, but its PAM stage had fizzled and it had been retrieved by a Shuttle in November of that year, refurbished, and sold to AsiaSat, which booked it for relaunch by...

Atlas Agena

The decommissioned Atlas-D missiles were fitted with Agena upper stages for use as space launchers. As the Agena was stretched to carry more propellant, and its engine was made both more powerful and capable of being restarted in space, it became available in A, B and D models (the planned C model was cancelled). The Atlas-Agena-A employed the MA-2 power plant.14 Two of four launches failed. On the first launch, on 26 February 1960, the Agena with the first satellite for the Missile Defense...

The demise of the H

On 15 November 1999 the first stage of an H-2 shut down 107 seconds short of what was to have been a 5-minute 46-second powered ascent. After coasting ballistically, the vehicle staged 30 seconds early. The second stage - which was marking the debut of the LE-5B that had been built for the H-2A - ignited 8 seconds later, but was unable to make up the inherited velocity shortfall and was destroyed by the range safety officer at an altitude of 45 kilometres. The debris fell into the Pacific near...

Thor

In 1946, as the US Army fired off the V-2 missiles that it had captured from Germany, the Naval Research Laboratory ordered a study of a high-performance sounding rocket to be its successor. This led to the issuing of a contract to the Glenn L. Martin Company to develop the Viking, utilising the XLR-10 rocket motor that (as in the case of the engine of the V-2) burned alcohol and oxygen. On 1 August 1955 President Dwight Eisenhower told the Navy to manage the Vanguard project to place a...

Losing Columbia

The reason for delaying STS-51L's launch had been to allow time for the icicles on the service structure to melt, lest these be shaken loose by the sonic shock of the vehicle lifting off and strike the delicate tiles of the thermal protection system on the belly of the orbiter. Although the ascent of Columbia for STS-107 on 16 January 2003 seemed to be uneventful, a routine examination the next day of the film from the long-range tracking cameras revealed that at T + 82 seconds a piece of foam...

A close call for Columbia

On 23 July 1999, STS-93 was launched to deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Five seconds after lift-off, Eileen Collins, the first female Shuttle commander, reported warning lights indicating that Columbia had suffered a major electrical failure. A sudden voltage drop on an electrical bus had disabled the primary controllers on two of the three SSMEs. The controllers were to run the engines in response to commands issued by the general-purpose computers. Although the ascent was able to...

The loss of Challenger

On 27-28 January 1986 the overnight chill threatened the water pipes on Pad 39, so the valves were opened to allow the water to flow to prevent the pipes freezing. It was so cold that soon the gantry walkways were laced with sheets of ice, and icicles adorned the structure. The next morning, the launch of STS-51L was held for two hours to allow the ice to melt. Nevertheless, when Challenger lifted off at 11 38 EST the temperature was 15oC below that of any previous launch. At Thiokol, a group...

Failure and redundancy

The term 'anomaly' is widely used in spacecraft operations to denote the unexpected behaviour of a system. An anomaly sometimes indicates an extant or imminent failure, but not always. In this book, we generally restrict our attention to cases where something actually goes seriously wrong. Not all failures are fatal to the spacecraft,1 and, in fact, the most impressive feats of space systems engineering tend to be those that overcome failures. Impressive though such recoveries may be, they...

Atlas

In April 1998 Lockheed Martin renamed the Atlas IIAR the Atlas III.162 It had been hoped to make the first flight before the end of 1999, but the manufacturing fault in the RL-10 engine (revealed by a Delta III on 4 May 1999) meant that the Centaur stage of the Atlas was also grounded for four months.16V64 Meanwhile, the Atlas IIIA that had been undergoing test on Pad 36B in May for launch in June was removed.16V66 The plan was to re-erect it in January 2000 and launch it a few months later...

Atlas Centaur

Titan Iiib

The Centaur was a powerful upper stage that used a pair of RL-10 hydrogen-burning engines. On the first test of the Atlas-Centaur on 8 May 1962, the shroud collapsed early in the ascent.22 On 27 November 1963 the Centaur achieved orbit, but on 30 June 1964 it suffered a hydraulic failure. The flight on 11 December 1964 succeeded, but on 2 March 1965 the vehicle exploded on the pad. After two successes it made its operational debut on 30 May 1966 by dispatching Surveyor 1 to land on the Moon. On...

IUS malfunction

When Challenger made its debut on 4 April 1983 as STS-6, it carried TDRS 1 for NASA's Tracking and Data The deployment of the HS-376 satellite Anik C2. Relay System. As this 2.2-tonne satellite was too heavy for a PAM, it used the more powerful IUS, and this 18-tonne stack was carried lengthwise, filling the bay. The first step in bringing the stack to life was to elevate the cradle to 30 degrees. The two-stage IUS was heavily instrumented and the control system of each of its stages was...

Sea Launch loses ICOs satellite

On 13 March 2000, after two successes, Sea Launch had its first loss. The launch got off to a good start, with the first stage of the Zenit 3SL separating at T+145 seconds and the shroud jettisoning 32 seconds later, but contact was lost 2 minutes short of the end of the second stage's 6.5-minute burn. The earlier launches had been due east along the equator in order to achieve geosynchronous transfer orbit, but with the ICO F1 satellite heading for a medium orbit at 10,600 kilometres inclined...

Back to expendables

After its mishap in 1985, the Titan 34D remained grounded until 18 April 1986 when one lifted off carrying the final KH-9 film-return reconnaissance satellite. Unfortunately, at T + 8 seconds it exploded at an altitude of 800 feet. The fragmental debris and burning propellant caused severe damage to SLC-4E and the nearby facilities. The explosion also created a toxic cloud that rose to an altitude of 8,000 feet before being blown out to sea.1 Each strap-on of a Titan 34D comprised five full...

Slow pace

The Titan IVA-Centaur that left Pad 41 on 3 May 1994 had an unenviable record on the ground. It was rolled out from the Vertical Processing Facility on 14 June 1991, only to be rolled back a year later when inspections found corrosion in the joints of its solid rocket motors. After the investigation into a Centaur failure in August 1992 it was rolled out again, only to be held up by a repeat of the Centaur problem in March 1993. In July 1993, in order not to exceed the 18-month limit for solid...

Disastrous debut

As the Athena I lifted off for its inaugural launch on 15 August 1995 from SLC-6 at Vandenberg, looking diminutive among the pad facilities built for much larger rockets, the programme was some nine months behind schedule.53 The vehicle was carrying the 150-kilogram GEMstar data-relay satellite for CTA Space Systems. It was to put the satellite into a polar orbit at an altitude of 680 kilometres, but at T 160 seconds it veered off course and the range safety officer destroyed it some 466...

Losing Optus B

The Long March 2E was the Long March 2C two-stage launch vehicle augmented by four liquid strap-ons. Able to put 9.5 tonnes into low orbit or insert 3.5 tonnes into geosynchronous transfer orbit, it had a capability approaching that of the Ariane 4 or Proton.10,n On its maiden flight on 16 July 1990 it carried Pakistan's first satellite, Badr. On 14 August 1992 it deployed Optus B1, which was an HS-601 for the Australian Telecommunications Company formerly Aussat, now Optus . As it was a...

Mixed results

In 1989 the Spaceport Florida Authority was formed to support the activities of the commercial launch companies using the Castor 120 motor. It refurbished Pad 46, right on the tip of the Cape Canaveral promontory, which had previously been used to test the Trident missile for the Navy.H65 An artist's impression of an Ikonos satellite. An artist's impression of an Ikonos satellite. An Athena II ready to launch on 24 September 1999 with Ikonos 2. On 7 January 1998 an Athena II from Pad 46 placed...

Losing China Sat

After losing ChinaSat 6A, the China Telecommunications Broadcasting Corporation - a division of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications - ordered an HS-376 directly from Hughes the first US satellite to be built specifically for China to relay voice, fax, data, television and other C-Band services for the domestic market while an improved third-generation DFH satellite was developed incorporating Ku-Band systems supplied by Daimler-Benz Aerospace.54,5V6 This satellite, ChinaSat 7, was...