Sea Launch Co.’s floating rocket-launch platform, Odyssey, has completed two months of repairs at Vancouver’s Victoria Shipyard and returned to its
Long Beach, Calif., home port for a final series of preparations before a
scheduled October launch of the 6,000-kilogram Thuraya-3 mobile communications satellite, Sea Launch President Rob Peckham said.
In an Aug. 8 interview, Peckham said
most of the necessary recertification of the platform’s seaworthiness was completed as repairs were being done, and as the platform was heading south toward
. It arrived at Sea Launch’s home port
“There are no recertification or regulatory hurdles that I can see now that would compromise our planned October launch date,” Peckham said.
The Odyssey platform was damaged during the January on-pad failure and subsequent explosion of the Sea Launch Zenit 3 SL vehicle, which was carrying the Boeing-owned
-8 telecommunications satellite.
But despite a spectacular video showing the entire platform disappearing into a fireball, the structure itself was not compromised. It was recertified as seaworthy and made ready travel to the
One major piece of
platform hardware, the 280,000-kilogram flame deflector, was destroyed. Located directly beneath the launch pad, it sustained the brunt of the explosion as the rocket collapsed onto the pad
A replacement flame deflector has been manufactured by the Design Bureau for Transport Machinery of Moscow and is expected to be fitted onto the Odyssey platform by late August.
Peckham said Sea Launch plans to give a series of detailed briefings to customers and insurers about the failure – blamed on a foreign object that compromised the first-stage engine immediately after ignition – in August. “We have been talking to them all along but we have not given them the ‘deep-dive’ briefings,” Peckham said.
DELAYED GLOBALSTAR LAUNCH
EXPECTED IN OCTOBER
‘s Soyuz-Fregat commercial launch vehicle
now is expected to return to flight in late October to place four mobile-telephone satellites into low Earth orbit following modifications to its
Fregat upper stage, according to industry officials.
That would be followed by a November or December launch of
‘s Radarsat 2 Earth observation satellite aboard a Soyuz-Fregat vehicle, with a possible launch of
‘s Giove-B navigation test satellite – if it’s ready – late in the year or early in 2008.
The successful May launch of four Globalstar satellites aboard a Soyuz turned up anomalies in the behavior of the Fregat upper stage and forced a grounding of the vehicle, which had been scheduled to launch the second and final batch of first-generation Globalstar spacecraft in July.
Milpitas, Calif.-based Globalstar Inc. is counting on these last eight first-generation satellites to help stem the decline in performance of its
40-satellite constellation as it prepares a second-generation system of 48 satellites, which are tentatively scheduled for launch starting in late 2009.
The Soyuz vehicle is marketed commercially
by the French-Russian Starsem S.A. company.
ICO GLOBAL SEEKS SECOND LAUNCH DEADLINE EXTENSION
ICO Global Communications is asking
regulators to approve a second extension of its
deadline to launch a
large two-way communications and broadcasting satellite, this time because of schedule slips associated with the
Atlas 5 rocket, ICO Global officials said Aug. 7.
In a conference call, ICO Chief Executive Tim Bryan said Lockheed Martin has informed ICO that the launch, which had been scheduled to occur by Nov. 30, will not occur before mid
said Reston, Va.-based ICO has filed a request for a deadline extension with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and does not expect the FCC to refuse it given that the cause is outside of ICO’s control. ICO is asking that the launch deadline be moved to January 15, and the in-service deadline for the full ICO system be moved from Dec. 31 to Feb. 15.
ICO’s launch contract is with Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services Inc. That company’s business director, Jack Zivik, informed
ICO in writing Aug. 3 of the schedule slip, and ICO included that letter with its FCC deadline-extension request.
In late 2006 ICO had requested that the satellite’s
June 30, 2007
, launch date be moved to November following delays in satellite-component development at prime contractor of Palo Alto, Calif., and several of Loral’s subcontractors.
The FCC granted that extension over the protests of ICO competitor of London.
ICO and Lockheed Martin say the Atlas launch manifest for 2007 has slipped for two reasons. The first is the June 15 underperformance of the vehicle’s Centaur upper stage in a launch of two classified
said June 28 that the Centaur’s problem
has been traced to a slow leak of its liquid hydrogen fuel during the coast phase between the first and second ignitions caused by a stuck
valve. The result was that the stage shut down four seconds short of its planned 900-second burn.
Air Force authorities have said the payloads nonetheless will be able to perform their mission.
Bob Day, ICO senior vice president for the space segment, said that even if the same problem occurred on the ICO launch it would not seriously affect the ICO satellite’s health or service life, in part because the
satellite is being placed into a conventional geostationary transfer orbit. To reach this orbit, the Centaur stage needs only a short coast period between the first and second burns, so the amount of Centaur fuel lost would be that much less.
The second reason for the six-week Atlas launch delay is
“unforeseen spacecraft processing issues that caused delays to the Atlas launches” scheduled this year before ICO, according to the Zivik letter.
Day said that while Space Systems/Loral would have been hard-pressed to make the November launch schedule, progress on the ICO satellite is proceeding swiftly now that the earlier component issues have been resolved. He said Loral will use the six additional weeks to perform more-extensive testing on the satellite.
He said ICO is taking advantage of a general decline in satellite-insurance rates to negotiate its final insurance package, which he said would be under contract
late this year.
Neither Bryan nor Day gave any updates during the call on their plans to purchase a second ICO satellite, which the company must do to meet its FCC commitments.
INTEGRAL SYSTEMS REPORTS RISE IN CLASSIFIED SALES
Satellite ground-control system provider Integral Systems Inc. posted a company-record $35.9 million in revenue for the third quarter of 2007 on the continued strength of its U.S. Air Force business and a sharp increase in sales to classified programs.
In an Aug. 9 conference call, Integral Chief Executive
attributed the company’s growth – revenue was up 24 percent over the same period last year-
Air Force contracts, including an extension to the Command and Control-System Consolidated
program. During the
three-month period ending
June 30, Integral’s net income rose 28 percent,
to $3.8 million, the company said in an Aug. 7 press release
Like the third quarter of 2006, the Air Force accounted for 55 percent of Integral’s sales during the 2007 third quarter, Integral said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. However, sales attributed to national – or classified – programs jumped from 1 to 9 percent during the 2007 third quarter, the filing said.
Sales to the
Navy remained steady at 8-9 percent of total revenue
, while the share
of revenue attributed to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declined
from 5 and 8 percent, respectively, to 3 percent each.
TO OUTFIT 2ND SHIP WITH AEGIS BMD SYSTEM
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors, of Moorestown, N.J., has been awarded a $33 million contract to provide the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability for a second Japanese destroyer, the company
an Aug. 7 news release.
Through a Foreign Military Sale,
the JDS Chokai will join JDS Kongo as the only non-American ships to be outfitted with the Aegis BMD system. It currently is being installed on the JDS Kongo, which will conduct its first intercept test later this year.
Four Japanese destroyers eventually will be Aegis BMD-capable. Raytheon Missile Systems
of Tucson, Ariz., has agreed to provide the Japanese with SM-3 interceptors for the system and will
begin delivering them later this year, a spokesman for Raytheon confirmed.
The Aegis Weapon System, the foundation for Aegis BMD, is deployed on 83 ships from six nations. Aegis BMD is installed on 16 of those ships and in testing has recorded nine ballistic missile intercepts in 11 tries.