Electrical Glitch Forces Postponement Of Ariane 5 Launch

The scheduled Ariane 5 lift-off has been postponed by Arianespace following detection of an electrical problem on the launch vehicle.

The rocket had to be moved, from the launch area at the European spaceport in French Guiana in South America, back to a vehicle assembly building, Arianespace reported.

A new launch date will be announced later.

Both the launcher and its dual-satellite payload are in a safe mode.

To fix the glitch, the Ariane 5 was moved back to the Final Assembly Building. The electrical problem involves a flight support unit on one of the launcher’s two solid propellant boosters, and this unit will be swapped out with a new one.

The flight will be the fifth Ariane 5 mission this year.

The launcher carries the Skynet 5B and Star One C1 satellites.

Skynet 5B was built by Astrium, and will be delivered in orbit to Paradigm Secure Communications. The spacecraft is to provide military telecommunications services for U.K. armed forces, NATO and other countries.

Star One C1 is a Thales Alenia Space-manufactured satellite, which will be used by Brazilian satellite operator Star One for communications, multimedia and broadband Internet services over South America.

Defense Support Program Satellite Launches From Cape Canaveral

A Delta IV Heavy lifter boosted the 23rd and final Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite into orbit after a launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 37, Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] announced.

It was the sixth type of launch vehicle used to orbit DSP sats, and the first time employing a Delta IV Heavy from United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of The Boeing Co. [BA] and Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT].

The Air Force birds form a military intelligence constellation of satellites in geosynchronous orbit that watch for enemy missiles, such as Russian and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile liftoffs and launches of missiles from submarines.

The DSP constellation has been aloft starting 37 years ago, at the height of the Cold War.

It has provided early warning of ballistic missile launches aimed at the United States and its allies. DSP has served the nation continuously since becoming operational, monitoring the globe and detecting, characterizing and reporting on ballistic missile launches in peacetime and in conflict.

The first DSP initially monitored Soviet and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles and Soviet short-range, submarine-launched ballistic missiles from a geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth.

Following the end of the Cold War, the system started monitoring tactical ballistic missiles, and, in recent years, has even been used to detect and study large fires and volcanic eruptions.

“DSP has established an excellent performance record, reliably delivering data to the warfighter with no interruption in service, despite different threats and changing requirements,” said Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Space Technology.

Northrop Grumman builds and integrates the spacecraft and infrared sensor for the Air Force Space and Missile Center. Its teammates include Aerospace Corp., and Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.

The DSP system has received four major upgrades, permitting the satellites to exceed their initially required design lives by 150 percent. DSP longevity has provided an extra 163 satellite-years on-orbit to date, which is the equivalent of delivering 30 to 50 additional satellites without the cost of the launches, Northrop estimated.

The sensor has also grown in capability. System life was extended by adding a thermal control system to keep the focal plane array cool and by redesigning hardware to counter the effects of radiation and surface contamination. Improving onboard data processing and adding a data control unit has eliminated unexpected data losses, allowed for independent sensor tuning, and maximized the availability of lower intensity data.

The system has also benefited through an evolutionary jump in ground processing capability. Ground processing was re-hosted to a significantly more powerful operating system. This allows the DSP system to process all available data, improve background control and line of sight determination algorithms, improve data fusion, process multiple assets, and evolve the mission capabilities into the tactical arena.

Another factor contributing to DSP’s longevity and reliability is Northrop launch integration skills, which have been proven on five different launch vehicles to date. The upcoming launch, on the Delta IV-Heavy, will be the sixth launch vehicle to give DSP a lift but the first Delta IV-Heavy to boost the satellite into orbit.

In addition to building and integrating 23 DSP spacecraft with missile-detecting infrared sensors, Northrop provides day-to-day technical assistance for DSP at Schriever and Buckley Air Force bases; conducts satellite performance analysis, anomaly resolution and early on-orbit testing at its Telemetry and Orbital Test Station and Satellite Payload Orbital Test Station; and has built software systems that help to process, display and distribute DSP satellite data to national command authorities.

African Satellite Arrives At Spaceport For Launch On Ariane 5

The first pan-African telecommunications satellite arrived at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America, prior to its launch in coming weeks on an Ariane 5, Arianespace announced.

This would be the sixth Ariane 5 mission this year, Arianespace reported. Rascom 1 landed at Cayenne’s Rochambeau International Airport aboard an Antonov An-125 cargo jetliner, and was transferred to clean room facilities for pre-launch checkout.

The satellite is to be lofted along with the Horizons-2 telecommunications spacecraft on an Ariane 5 mission.

It will be the first time that Arianespace has performed six Ariane 5 missions in one year, and is part of the company’s launch rate acceleration to a stabilized pace of eight Ariane 5 flights annually by 2009.

Rascom 1 was built by Thales Alenia Space as part of a turnkey contract with the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization (RascomStar-QAF). It will provide telecommunication services in rural areas of Africa, as well as domestic and international connections, direct TV broadcast services and Internet access across the African continent. The satellite’s coverage footprint also extends beyond Africa to include parts of Europe and the Middle East.

The spacecraft is based on the Spacebus 4000B3 platform and is designed for an operational lifetime of 15 years. Rascom 1 carries 12 Ku-band transponders and eight C-band transponders, and will weigh about 3,200 kg. (7,055 pounds) at launch.

Both the Rascom 1 and Horizons-2 passengers for this Ariane 5 mission were signed as new payloads just this year, underscoring Arianespace’s reactivity in responding to customer launch timing requirements.

Horizons-2 was developed for the Horizons Satellite LLC joint venture of Intelsat and JSAT, and will provide services that range from digital video, high-definition television (HDTV) and IP-based content distribution networks, to broadband Internet and satellite news services for the continental United States, the Caribbean and parts of Canada.

Launch Schedule


Dec. 6 + STS-122

STS-122 will deliver the Columbus European Laboratory Module and will be the twenty-fourth mission to the International Space Station.

Launch Time: 4:31 p.m. EST


Feb. 14 + STS-123

Mission STS-123 on Space Shuttle Endeavour will deliver the pressurized section of the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module (ELM-PS) on the twenty-fifth mission to the International Space Station.

Launch Time: 11:57 a.m. EST

April 1 * STSS Demo

STSS Demo is a midcourse tracking technology demonstrator and is part of an evolving ballistic missile defense system. STSS is capable of tracking objects after boost phase and provides trajectory information to other sensors and interceptors.

To be launched by NASA for the MDA.

April 17 *STSS ATRR

STSS ATRR serves as a pathfinder for future launch and mission technology for the Missile Defense Agency.

To be launched by NASA for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

April 21 * GOES-O

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program, the multimission Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series N-P. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science. GOES-O is a NASA/NOAA mission that will launch off a ULA Delta IV launch vehicle from Launch Complex 37.

April 24 + STS-124

Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 will transport the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM RMS) to the International Space Station.

Launch Time: 8:26 a.m. EDT

May 29 * GLAST

An heir to its successful predecessor — the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory — the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope will have the ability to detect gamma rays in a range of energies from thousands to hundreds of billions of times more energetic than the light visible to the human eye. Radiation of such magnitude can only be generated under the most extreme conditions, thus GLAST will focus on studying the most energetic objects and phenomena in the universe.

June 15 OSTM/Jason 2

The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite will be a follow-on to the Jason mission. It will launch on a Delta II launch vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

June 15 IBEX

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer will launch from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll and Wake Island from an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket.

June 25 + TacSat-3

NASA will support the Air Force launch of the TacSat-3 satellite, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. TacSat-3 will demonstrate the capability to furnish real-time data to the combatant commander. NASA Ames will fly a microsat and NASA Wallops will fly the CubeSats on this flight in addition to providing the launch range.

Aug. 7 * STS-125

Space Shuttle Atlantis will fly seven astronauts into space for the fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight, the crew will repair and improve the observatory’s capabilities through 2013.

Launch Time: 8:24 a.m. EDT

Sept. 18 + STS-126

Mission STS-126 on Space Shuttle Endeavour on assembly flight ULF2, will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station.

Launch Time: 8:08 p.m. EDT


The mission objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are to advance the Vision for Space Exploration by confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

Dec. 1 * SDO

The first Space Weather Research Network mission in the Living With a Star (LWS) Program of NASA.

Dec. 15 OCO

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory is a new Earth orbiting mission sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program.


Feb. 16 Kepler

The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone.