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 Athena II ready to launch on 24 September 1999 with Ikonos 2.

On 7 January 1998 an Athena II from Pad 46 placed NASA's Lunar Prospector on course for its survey of the Moon. In January 1999 an Athena I from Canaveral launched ROCSat 1, the first of three remote-sensing satellites built for Taiwan by TRW.66 In early 1999 Raymond S. Colladay, the president of Lockheed Martin Astronautics, which made the Athena, observed that the market for small satellites was developing very slowly.67 On 27 April 1999 an Athena II was dispatched from Vandenberg to insert the Ikonos 1 high-resolution commercial imaging satellite into Sun-sunchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 675 kilometres, but the shroud snagged.68 The electrical failure that was suspected was confirmed by the investigation.69*70 In fact, it was a design flaw that could have struck previously. The aluminium-lithium shroud was in two pieces, each with a pyrotechnic charge at its base. A few milliseconds after these charges fired, others were to split the shroud lengthwise to enable its segments to fall away. However, the shock from detonating the charges at the base momentarily dislodged the connectors that were to carry the signal to the charges inside the shroud. Although the structure was free, since its halves had not separated it was held in place by the payload. Unable to compensate for the 635-kilogram 'dead weight', the third stage fell into the atmosphere over the South Pacific. An Athena II with a revised shroud successfully launched the replacement satellite on 24 September 1999.71

Despite a run of seven commercial launch successes, the prospects for Athena I were uncertain due to the shrinking market. However, the future for Athena II brightened in 2001 when NASA added the rocket to its launch services contract, along with the Delta and the Atlas. On 29 September 2001 an Athena I made the first orbital launch from the newly built facility on Kodiak Island in the Aleutians. When the Clark satellite was cancelled, its launcher had been reassigned to NASA's Vegetation Canopy Lidar, but this was grounded in 2000 by technical

An Athena II ready to launch on 24 September 1999 with Ikonos 2.

A Taurus lifts off on 20 May 2004 with ROCSat 2.

problems. With no prospect of a commercial launch, the vehicle was offered to the Air Force, which assigned Picosat for the Department of Defense's Space Test Program. Picosat was to have ridden a Russian Dniepr rocket in 1998 but the prohibition on flying military payloads on non-US rockets had prevented this. It was accompanied by a trio of student-built satellites that had been sponsored by the Air Force.72 In view of the dearth of commercial payloads, Lockheed Martin announced that it was placing the Athena in "stand by''.73

TAURUS

The Taurus was a Pegasus stripped of its wings and mounted on a Castor 120 for vertical launch.74,7S Introduced on 13 March 1994, it started well with five straight successes. Then on 21 September 2001 the drive shaft of the actuator for the thrust-vectoring system seized momentarily, causing the vehicle to veer off course. Even although the system recovered, the resulting velocity shortfall made it re-enter over the Indian Ocean. In addition to QuickTOMS for NASA and Orbview 4 for Orbimage (a company that was part owned by OSC), it had a commercial package for Celestis containing a residue of the ashes from 50 cremations. Since the Alliant Techsystems Orion 50S engine of the first stage of the Pegasus formed the second stage of the Taurus, the problem with the thrust-vectoring system raised the possibility that this had contributed to the loss of the X-43A.76

MED-LITE DELTA

In December 1994 NASA invited bids for the 'Med-Lite' contract to supply a launch vehicle for payloads between the mass ranges served by the Pegasus and the Delta II.77 A requirement was that the vehicle be able to orbit a payload with a mass half of that of the Delta II at the same cost per unit of mass. On 1 February 1995 OSC submitted its Taurus but McDonnell Douglas won the contract with the 7300 and 7400 forms of the Delta II, which employed only three and four strap-ons respec-tively.78,79,80,81 The first launch on 24 June 1999 deployed the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer for the Origins programme.82 NASA hoped to launch up to 14 such payloads over the next decade, including many of the Discovery-class deep space missions.83,84,85

NOTES

The 1st 'Med-Lite' Delta II model 7320 lifts off on 24 June 1999 with the FUSE satellite.

http://www.fathom.com/course/ 21701717/session4.html Backroom Boys, Francis Spufford, Faber and Faber, 2003. http://www.fathom.com/course/ 21701717/session5.html http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanav-eral/Launchpad/6133/blackarrow.html http://www.fathom.com/course/ 21701717/session6.html http://www.vought.com/heritage/spe-cial/html/sscout8.html Spaceflight Revolution, J.R. Hansen, SP-4308, NASA, 1995. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4308/ ch7.htm

'Get 'em Up, Scout!', J.A. Harriss, Air & Space, March 1989. Spaceflight Revolution, J.R. Hansen, SP-4308, NASA, 1995. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/factsheets/Scout.html OSC cheekily dubbed the carrier aircraft an air-breathing first stage. http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/Pegasus/index.html Aviation Week & Space Technology, 30 May 1994, p. 30. Flight International, 1-7 June 1994, p. 17. Spaceflight, March 1997, p. 78.

Aviation Week & Space Technology, 30 May 1994, p. 31. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 July 1994, p. 30. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1 August 1994, p. 28. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 8 August 1994, p. 69. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 26 April 1993.

22. http://www.orbcomm.com/

23. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 17 August 1993.

24. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 10 April 1995, p. 67.

25. Flight International, 15-21 March 1995, p. 24.

26. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 27 September 1993, p. 49.

27. Flight International, 12-18 April 1995, p. 17.

28. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 24 April 1995, p. 17.

29. Flight International, 12-18 April 1995.

30. Flight International, 3-9 May 1995, p. 21.

31. http://leonardo.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/QuickLooks/orbcommQL.html

32. http://centaur.sstl.co.uk/SSHP/data/data_orbcomm.html

33. Spaceflight, March 1997, p. 78.

34. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 3 July 1995, p. 21.

35. Flight International, 18-24 October 1995, p. 32.

36. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 September 1995, p. 60.

37. Spaceflight, March 1997, p. 78.

38. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 11 November 1996, p. 28.

39. NASA Press Release 96-231, 8 November 1996.

40. http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/99/3.11.99/WIRE.html

41. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 24 May 1999, p. 61.

42. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 9 June 1997, p. 32.

43. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 22 November 1999, p. 18.

44. In doing so, the X-43A would claim the Mach 6.7 record set by the rocket-powered X-15 piloted by Pete Knight in 1967.

45. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 31 March 1997, p. 22.

46. Spaceflight, September 2001, p. 361.

47. Spaceflight, January 2002, p. 14.

48. http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Newsroom/ResearchUpdate/X43A/

49. http://www.Spaceflightnow.com/news/n0410/16x43a/

50. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4018117.stm

51. Flight International, 21-27 September 1994, p. 39.

52. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 14 August 1995, p. 64.

53. Flight International, 30 August-5 September 1995, p. 24.

54. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 21 August 1995, p. 18.

55. Spaceflight, June 1998, p. 202.

56. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 28 August 1995, p. 67.

57. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 September 1995, p. 53.

58. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 18/25 December 1995, p. 96.

59. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 7 April 1997, p. 42.

60. Flight International, 30 August-5 September 1995, p. 24.

61. Flight International, 22-28 March 1995, p. 20.

62. Flight International, 5-11 July 1995, p. 20.

63. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 19 May 1997, p. 17.

64. Flight International, 11-17 January 1995, p. 43.

65. Flight International, 3-9 May 1995, p. 21.

66. Flight International, 21-27 June 1995, p. 39.

67. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 8 February 1999, p. 69.

68. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 3 May 1999, p. 45.

69. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 24 May 1999, p. 61.

70. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 14 June 1999, p. 82.

71. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 October 1999, p. 41.

72. Spaceflight, January 2002, p. 18.

73. Spaceflight, February 2002, p. 50.

74. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 21 April 1997, p. 65.

75. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 13 March 2000, p. 57.

76. Spaceflight, December 2001, p. 494.

77. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 12-19 December 1994, p. 27.

78. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 March 1996, p. 61.

79. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 21 April 1997, p. 65.

80. In line with the four-digit designation scheme, the 7300 series had three GEMs and the 7400 had four.

81. http://www.spaceandtech.com/spacedata/elvs/delta2_sum.shtml

82. http://fuse.pha.jhu.edu/

83. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 7 November 1994, p. 67.

84. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 5 December 1994, p. 40.

85. Whereas the Delta 7900 series uses nine GEM strap-ons and can place approximately 5 tonnnes into an easterly low orbit, the Delta 'Med-Lite' would have a capacity of 2 tonnes.

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