While the Pentagon moves closer to
deploying a national missile defense system and commercial launch companies
are courting space customers, NASA eyes a Jupiter fly-by at year’s end.
Europe’s new aerogiants are grappling with the messy business of post-merger
Russia’s Zvezda Service Module isn’t set for launch until mid-
July — providing engineers can cure the Proton Launch Vehicle’s ailing second
stage engines.
China, still smarting from the nuclear secrets spy
allegations, is under scrutiny from intelligence agencies to see if China’s
“Shenzou” technology shows potential for evading missile defenses.

These, and other challenges to the global aerospace industry, are
contained in a free executive briefing released today from the editors of
Aerospace Daily.

  • Will the National Missile Defense program be ready for its deployment
    readiness review in June? The program hit a snag in January when the
    Raytheon-built exoatmospheric kill vehicle failed to intercept. The
    Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) says all is on track.
    Critics, including the Pentagon’s own department of operational test
    and evaluation, recommend delaying the review until a test analysis of
    the planned spring flight.

  • If the Pentagon recommends deployment of the first NMD site in June,
    will the White House adhere to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
    which stipulates a single site at Grand Forks, ND? Or, will Congress
    push for NMD deployment in Alaska, a site that experts say would
    protect the entire U.S.?

  • Will the Pentagon continue to fund both Theater Missile Defense systems
    now in development — the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)
    missile and the Navy’s Theater Wide (NTW) system? While THAAD is said
    to be in the lead after hitting targets in two successive flight tests,
    other officials are said to favor the mobility of the Navy’s NTW.

  • How will BMDO meet the challenge of ensuring system interoperability at
    17 TMD facilities? Will financial constraints delay the upgrade of
    sensor and laser systems?

  • How much will Congressional budget-cutting delay the introduction of
    the Air Force’s F-22 fighter program?

  • How will U.S. space officials handle Russia’s decision to keep Mir I
    operational? Is there enough hardware to support both Mir and the
    International Space Station?

  • The NASA/Lockheed Martin X-33 reusable launch vehicle prototype — once
    seen as a successor to the Shuttle — still lies in pieces in a hangar
    in Palmdale, California. Why did the X-33’s composite liquid hydrogen
    tank fail? Can it be repaired?

  • After the failure of the Mars probes, what is the likely success of
    NASA’s Cassini spacecraft that is programmed to fly by Jupiter in
    December, 2000 and rendezvous with Saturn in July, 2004?

  • In the wake of apparent leakage of U.S. satellite technology to China,
    the U.S. State Dept. now issues satellite export licenses much to the
    chagrin of industry leaders who claim a slow-down in export licensing.
    Will Congress bow to industry and return this function to the Commerce

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