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starship-design: FW: SpaceViews -- July 1998 by Boston NSS [part 1 of 2]

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Subject: SpaceViews -- July 1998 by Boston NSS [part 1 of 2]

This is the July 1998 "SpaceViews" (tm) newsletter, published by the 
Boston chapter of the National Space Society.  

For a description of related e-mail lists maintained by the Boston NSS, or 
to stop receiving this SpaceViews newsletter, see the instructions at the
end of part 2 of this issue.

The next Boston meetings are Saturday, July 11, 11am-4pm
	Boston NSS picnic, 102 Sanborn Lane, Reading, Mass.
and Tuesday, July 14, 1998, 7:30pm
8th floor, 545 Main Street (Tech Square), Cambridge; 
	Speakers: Vickie Kloeris, John Lewis, and Laura Supra
	"The Lunar-Mars Life Support Test Project Phase III 90-day
	 Test: The Crew Perspective" 

See "Upcoming Boston NSS Events" later in this newsletter for more

Future meetings are on the first Thursdays of each month: 
	August TBD, September 3, October 1

SpaceViews is available on the WWW at http://www.spaceviews.com 
and by FTP from ftp.seds.org in directory /pub/info/newsletters/spaceviews

See the very end for information on membership, reprinting, copyright, etc.
Copyright (C) 1998 by  Boston Chapter of National Space Society, 
a non-profit educational 501(c)3 organization.

All articles in SpaceViews represent the opinions of the authors and do not
necessarily represent the views of the Editor, the National Space Society 
(NSS), or the Boston chapter of the NSS.


                            S P A C E V I E W S
                         Volume Year 1998, Issue 7
                                 July 1998

*** News ***
	SOHO Spacecraft Tumbles, Feared Lost
	Energia Threatens to Abandon Mir
	Congress, Goldin Debate Space Station
	Nearby Extrasolar Planet Discovered
	Mars Pathfinder Science Work Continues
	Lewis Spacecraft Failure Report Released
	HALO Launch Attempt Fails
	Beal Aerospace Plans Larger Booster
	Third Ariane 5 Launch Delayed to October
	Atlas Launches Comsat, Zenit Delayed
	SpaceViews Event Horizon
	Other News

*** Articles ***
	NOTSNIK:  The Navy's Secret Satellite Program
[continued in part 2]
	Doing Space: Making It Happen

*** Book Reviews ***
	Comets Friend and Foe
	Filling in the Drake Equation

*** NSS News ***
	Upcoming Boston NSS Events
	Boston NSS June Lecture Summary
	Philadelphia Area Space Alliance News

*** Regular Features ***
	Jonathan's Space Report No. 364
	Space Calendar

Editor's Note: On our reader survey earlier this year, we asked if people
would be interested in a weekly update version of SpaceViews.  The response
was overwhelmingly in favor of such a feature.  So, I'm proud to announce
that later this summer SpaceViews will be coming out approximately weekly
(actually, four times a month: on the 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd of the
month, at least initially, to maintain a regular schedule.)  This change
will take effect by September, and perhaps earlier in August.

This change should also alleviate one of the problems people have had about
the e-mail issues: their large size!  Many mail programs, such as America
Online's, have problems with large files, and either split them into
smaller pieces or convert them into file attachments.  By spreading the
content out over four issues a month, instead of two, we hope to reduce or
eliminiate this problem.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns about this
change, contact me at jeff@spaceviews.com.

A couple of minor notes: We're experiencing some technical problems with
the Web site right now, because of unannounced changes by the company that
hosts the site.  The site is up, but some features may be unavailable.  We
apologize for the problems and hope to have everything working by later
today.  Also, the July 15 issue of SpaceViews Update may be delayed a few
days while the editor is traveling.

Jeff Foust
Editor, SpaceViews -- http://www.spaceviews.com/

			       *** News ***

		   SOHO Spacecraft Tumbles, Feared Lost

	Controllers lost contact with the NASA/ESA Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft late Wednesday, June 24 as
the spacecraft apparently lost control, and mission officials fear the
spacecraft may be a total loss.

	Contact was lost with SOHO at 7:16pm EDT (2316 UT) June 24,
during a routine maintainence period. The spacecraft entered an
Emergency Sun Reacquisition (ESR) mode at that time, as it fired its
thrusters in an effort to realign itself with the Sun.

	However, all telemetry was lost from the spacecraft and has
not been regained.  Efforts to raise the spacecraft using NASA's Deep
Space Network over the last sveral days have not succeeded.

	Engineers have continuous access to a 34-meter (112-foot)
antenna "for the next few days" to transmit commands to the spacecraft
at 10 times the normal power, according to project officials.  A
70-meter (230-foot) antenna is also being used to try and pick up
telemetry from SOHO.

	Launchspace magazine reported that its sources within the SOHO
project think it is likely contact will not be regained with SOHO, and
the spacecraft will be a total loss.

	NASA was more optimistic, however, in a June 30 press release.
Engineers believe the spacecraft is spinning such that the solar
panels do not see the Sun. However, the angle of the spacecraft is
changing as it goes around the Sun, increasing the amount of sunlight
falling on the panels each day.

	Engineers believe that within a few weeks, the panels may be
generating enough energy to power up the spacecraft's batteries and
permit communications with Earth to be restored.

	A joint NASA/ESA inquiry board was announced June 30 to
investiagate the incident.  The board will be chaired by Prof. Massimo
Trella, ESA Inspector General, and Dr. Michael Greenfield, Deputy
Associate Administrator for the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance
at NASA.

	SOHO was launched on an Atlas II rocket on December 2, 1995
from Cape Canaveral.  It completed its nominal two-year science
mission in April, although daily scientific operations jhave continued
since then.

	The spacecraft is in a "halo orbit" around the Earth-Sun L-1
libration point, about 1.5 million kilometers (900,000 miles) sunward
of Earth.  Engineers believe they can successfully predict the
location of SOHO for about five months, before orbital pertubations
force SOHO out of its halo orbit.

	The spacecraft features twelve instruments, three from the
U.S. and nine from Europe, dedicated to the study of the Sun. 
Findings made by scientists using SOHO data include an explanation for
the extremely high temperatures of the solar corona, the discovery of
"sunquakes" on the photosphere, and the discovery of more than 50
sungrazing comets.

		     Energia Threatens to Abandon Mir

	Energia, the Russian company that operates the space station
Mir for the Russian Space Agency (RSA), said Friday, June 26 that it
would abandon the station as early as August if the space agency does
not pay any of the money it owes for station operations.

	Energia officials say RSA owes the company 440 million rubles
(US$70 million) in station operations costs for this year.  RSA has
not paid any of the money it owes this year, Energia said.

	A decision to abandon Mir could come as soon as July, several
weeks in advance of the scheduled launch date of the next crew.  The
current crew of Talgat Musabayev and Nikolai Budarin is due to return
in August.  Their stay cannot be extended because of the limited
lifetime of the Soyuz return vehicle currently docked to Mir.

	Energia officials met with RSA leaders on Friday to discuss
the status of the station and to consider "nonstandard solutions" to
the problem, according to Itar-Tass.  Those nonstandard solutions were
not publicly discussed.

	Energia president Yuri Semyonov said the company wants to keep
Mir operational, but believes it is the Russian government's
responsibility to pay for it.  "We are absolutely against abandoning
the station, and if we do that it will be the government's
responsibility," he said.

	RSA director Yuri Koptev agreed the situation is serious.  "If
we cannot act, there will be a situation when we will have to lift off
the crew from the Mir in August and close the station," he said.

	If abandoned, Mir would likely lose attitude control and start
tumbling after a short time.  It could then reenter the Earth's
atmosphere uncontrolled, with the danger of large pieces landing
intact in urbanized areas.

	RSA currently plans to deorbit Mir in a series of controlled
thruster burns, with the goal of reentering the station over the
Pacific by the end of 1999.  The first of four thruster burns was to
take place earlier this month, but was postponed when budget problems
prevented the timely launch of a replacement cargo vehicle that would
have been used in the deorbiting procedure.

		   Congress, Goldin Debate Space Station

	Projected cost overruns in the International Space Station
project was the subject of considerable debate during Congressional
hearings Wednesday, June 24, as NASA Administrator Dan Goldin defended
the program, predicting dire consequences if the station was canceled.

	"If we cancel the space station, we will be canceling manned
space flight," Goldin said at a meeting of the House Science
Committee.  "If we cancel the program, we will be a second-class power
and there would be international repercussions."

	The hearing was convened after the release the previous week
of NASA's response to the independent Chabrow report, which concluded
earlier this year the station would need up to an additional $3
billion and three years before completion.

	NASA agreed with most of the conclusions in the Chabrow
report, although claimed the additional costs could be held to a
little over $1 billion with a delay of one year.

	Members of the committee asked Goldin what steps the agency
was taking to deal with the station's problems, including a number of
delays in the completion of the Russian-built Service Module.  Goldin
did not give specifics but said a number of plans were being

	Goldin's assurances that NASA was working on the problem did
not soothe members of the committee, who attacked NASA and the Clinton
Administration for failing to do enough to support the station and
deal with Russian delays.

	The program was likened to a "fine kettle of fish that are
starting to smell," in the words of Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), while
Rep. Sherwood  Boehlert (R-NY) said that Goldin's optimistic opening
statement "looked like Mary Poppins wrote it."

	While there is little the committee can do at the present time
to affect the space station, committee chairman F. James Sensenbrenner
(R-WI) said he and ranking minority member George Brown (D-CA) sent a
letter to the White House, asking the Office of Management and the
Budget to deliver a plan to Congress in 30 days to deal with the space

	"We need a plan, not a continuing series of ad hoc adjustments
to the latest station funding or programmatic crisis," Brown said.

	Meanwhile, another person testifying before the committee said
the station costs could grow even further.  Allen Li of the General
Accounting Office said more money may be needed to track orbital
debris and protect the station from it.

	"NASA's requirements for space debris tracking will require
the Defense Department to upgrade their capabilities," Li told the
committee.  Such upgrades and additional station shielding could cost
up to $5 billion, he said.

		    Nearby Extrasolar Planet Discovered

	Two astronomers who are among the world's leaders in the
discovery of extrasolar planets reported this week they they have
discovered another extrasolar planet orbiting a star near the Sun.

	Geoffrey W. Marcy of San Francisco State University and Paul
Butler of the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and colleagues, reported
at a conference Monday, June 22 that they had discovered a planet
orbiting the star Gliese 876, just 15 light-years from Earth.

	The planet has a mass about 1.6 times that of Jupiter, our
solar system's largest planet, and orbits the star about 0.2
astronomical units (30 million kilometers, 18.6 million miles) away. 
It takes 61 days for the planet to complete an orbit around Gliese

	The discovery has been confirmed by a European team of
astronomers led by Xavier Delfosse of Geneva Observatory in
Switzerland.  "It's very convincing that they have confirmed the
finding," Marcy told Science News.

	Gliese 876 is a small star with only about one-third the mass
of the Sun and one-fortieth its brightness.  It's the smallest star
yet around which planets have been discovered.  the discovery hints
that planetary systems "may be a common occurrence among stars that
are quite different from the Sun," Marcy said.

	Calculations by Didier Saumon of Vanderbilt University show
that the planet, presumed to be a gas giant like Jupiter, would have a
temperature at its cloudtops of about -76 degrees Celsius (-105
degrees Fahrenheit).  While far below the temperature of liquid water,
it would be possible for it to exist in deeper, warmer layers of the

	Marcy warned, though, that "we shouldn't go into a feeding
frenzy about this," noting that liquid water could not aggregate
together into an environment supportive of life.  Any moons the planet
might have, though, could be more hospitable to life.

	The discovery brings to 12 the number of extrasolar planets
discovered, Marcy said.  Astronomers in Geneva are expected to
announce the discovery of additional extrasolar planets in the next
few weeks.

		  Mars Pathfinder Science Work Continues

	Scientists are continuing to analyze the data returned by the
Mars Pathfinder spacecraft, nearly a year after it landed on the Red
Planet, and are coming up with some surprising conclusions about the
history of the landing site.

	"Many of the things that we said last summer during the
excitement of the landing have held up well," project scientist
Matthew Golombek said at a press conference June 29.  "But we have now
had more time to study the data and are coming up with some new

	Much of the work is focused on the nature and origin of the
geology in the landing site, located in Ares Vallis.  The area had
been considered a likely site of flooding during Mars's warmer, wetter
past, a conclusion supported by Pathfinder data.

	However, Golombek said little has changed in the landing site
over the last two or more billion years, with the exception of some
wind erosion.  Golombek speculated that the flooding in Ares Vallis
took place after a major climate change that made Mars cold and dry
took place.

	The winds that are slowly stripping away the rocks at the
Pathfinder landing site are likely depositing material elsewhere on
the planet, Golombek said.  "Amazonis Planitia, for example, probably
has one to two meters [3.3 to 6.6 feet] of fine powdery dust that you
would sink into if you stepped on it," he noted.

	Scientists are also trying to understand how rocks enriched
with silicon that Pathfinder and its rover Sojourner found could have
been formed.  The rocks are similar to andesites found in Iceland and
the Galapagos Islands on Earth, according to spectrometer scientist
Joy Crisp.

	Crisp said the rocks could have been formed by volcanic
processes, like on Earth, or through sedimentary processes driven by
water.  The rocks could also have been formed in a meteor impact, and
may be more ordinary basaltic rocks with a high-silicon outer coating
caused by weathering.

	Crisp said one way to determine how the rocks were formed is
to study their textures.  However, she noted, there isn't enough
information in the Pathfinder images to come to any conclusions about
their origin based on this technique.

	Other research has focused on dust devils, localized
spiraling, gusting winds seen on Mars as well as Earth.  Steven
Metzger of the University of Nevada analyzed Pathfinder images
downloaded from the Internet and applied special processing techniques
to them to discover several more dust devils, including five seen on a
single Martian day.

	Dust devils may be one way to explain how the Martian surface
is covered with the same kind of magnetic iron- and silicon-rich soil,
according to JPL planetary scientist Diana Blaney.  Blaney also said
meteor impacts into wet regolith early in Martian history may have
helped form the soil, although she said the formation is a "very
complicated story."

	Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997.  It and its
rover, Sojourner, returned data on the Martian surface and atmosphere
until late September, when a battery on the lander apparently died. 
The mission was officially ended November 4, although a final,
unsuccessful effort to contact the lander was made in March.

	Scientists are now turning their attention to the two 1998
Mars missions, scheduled for launch at the end of the year and early
1999.  Mars Climate Orbiter will study Martian weather from orbit,
while the Polar Lander will set down in the layered terrain near the
south polar cap in an effort to understand and nature and composition
of the layers of dust and ice there.

		 Lewis Spacecraft Failure Report Released

	A combination of a flaw in an attitude control system and
insufficient monitoring by ground personnel led to the failure of the
Lewis spacecraft just days after launch last August, a review board
reported Tuesday, June 23.

	The Lewis Spacecraft Mission Failure Review Board did conclude
that NASA's new "faster, cheaper, better" management philosophy, of
which Lewis was one of the first products, was sound, but not
effectively applied for this program.

	The spacecraft, launched August 23, 1997, went into a flat
spin three days after launch.  The spin cut power and communications
to the satellite, which were never restored.  Unable to adjust its
orbit, the spacecraft reentered the Earth's atmosphere a month later
and was destroyed.

	The spacecraft used an attitude-control system adapted from
one used on the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) spacecraft. 
The board found that TRW, builders of both spacecraft, failed to
properly test the attitude-control system on Lewis, which was
stabilized differently that TOMS.

	After launch, the spacecraft started to spin up, perhaps by
imbalances from thruster firings.  The spin eventually overloaded the
spacecraft's control system while it was in an autonomous "safehold
mode", leading to the out-of-control spin.

	The board also concluded that project managers erred in
believing the spacecraft could be adequately controlled in safehold
mode with only a small ground crew to monitor the status of the
spacecraft. These errors combined caused the failure of the mission.

	Lewis was a $65-million spacecraft designed to test advanced
instruments and technologies useful for remote-sensing spacecraft. It
and a companion spacecraft, Clark, were cornerstones of NASA's
philosophy of "faster, cheaper, better" started by administrator Dan

	The Clark spacecraft was canceled earlier this year because of
cost overruns and concerns that the spacecraft would not be able to
meet its intended goals.

	The failure of Lewis should not be construed as a failure of
this philosophy, though, the board noted.  "I do not think that this
concept ["faster, cheaper, better"] is flawed," said Christine
Anderson, chair of the failure board.  "What was flawed in the Lewis
program, beyond some engineering assumptions, was the lack of clear
understanding between NASA and TRW about how to apply this philosophy

	"NASA's Office of the Chief Engineer is developing 'lessons
learned' from this project and other 'faster, cheaper, better'
efforts," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA associate administrator for
Earth Science, "and we intend to apply them to all our future

			 HALO Launch Attempt Fails

	In an event project officials called "embarrassing, but not
disaster," an attempt to launch an amateur-built rocket into space
failed Saturday, June 21 when the rocket slipped out of its launch
cradle as its balloon lifted off.

	A helium-filled balloon lifted off from a NASA barge in the
Gulf of Mexico southeast of New Orleans late Saturday morning.  The
balloon was to carry the Project HALO (High-Altitude Lift-Off) Sky
Launch 2 rocket to 30,000 meters altitude (100,000 feet) before the
rocket engine fired.

	However, a balloon tether snagged on the rocket as the balloon
lifted off, lifting the rocket off its launch cradle unde the balloon. 
The rocket fell 1.5 meters (five feet) to the deck of the barge as the
balloon floated skyward.

	The rocket suffered some minor damage in the fall, including a
cracked nosecone, broken fin, and a dent in the oxidizer tank, but the
rocket appeared to have escaped major damage.

	After the launch, HALO team members said a new launch may be
attempted in late fall, provided about $5,000 can be raised to cover
repair costs.  Project officials said the NASA barge used for the June
launch would not be available for future launches, requiring the team
to find their own launch site, file with the FAA, and possibly
purchase liability insurace, whose premium could far exceed the cost
of the rocket.

	HALO team members had hoped a successful launch would make the
rocket the first amateur-built rocket to fly into space.  The
suborbital rocket would have to have flown above an altitude of 91.6
km (56.8 mi, 50 nautical miles),the NASA and the U.S. Air Force
definition of the boundary of space.

	The hybrid SL-2 rocket uses a combination of solid and liquid
fuels. In this system, the solid fuel, pure asphalt, is safely kept
away from the liquid propellant, nitrous oxide (better known as
"laughing gas") until the rocket is ignited. The fuel combination
provides about 85% of the efficiency of the best solid-propellant
systems, HALO team members say.

	HALO, a project of the Huntsville, Alabama chapter of the
National Space Society, has relied on volunteer labor and donations to
develop their "rockoon" launch system.  Saturday's launch did include
support from NASA, as the space agency provided the launch barge and
the helium for the balloon.

		    Beal Aerospace Plans Larger Booster

	Beal Aerospace, a Texas-based startup launch firm, announced
last week it was skipping plans for a smaller expendable booster in
favor of moving directly ahead to a more powerful rocket capable of
competing with the largest existing commercial offerings.

	The company is scrapping plans for the BA-1 booster in favor
of the larger BA-2, according to a June 16 company announcement.  The
BA-2 will be able to place 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs.) -- two medium to
large communications satellites -- in geostationary transfer orbit. 
The BA-2 would directly compete with such rockets as the Ariane-5.

	"The BA-2 has always been the ultimate goal," said company CEO
Andrew Beal. "Given our past successes, I am extremely confident that
we can develop the BA-2 and dramatically reduce the cost of space

	The three-stage BA-2 will use what's billed as the world's
largest rocket engine, a hydrogen peroxide-fueled engine capable of
producing 13.4 million newtons (3 million pounds of thrust), twice
that of the F-1 engine used in the Saturn V.

	"Hydrogen peroxide is key to the simplicity of our design,"
said program manager Scott Frazier. "It is safe, environmentally
benign, and has fundamentally different combustion properties which
bypass previous engine development problems associated with large
thrust chambers." 

	A scaled-down version of the engine was tested successfully in
late May and early June, the company said.

	No date for the first launch of the BA-2 was announced.  The
company had planned to start launching the BA-1 by late 1997, using a
launch site on Sombrero Island in the Caribbean.  The company has an
option to lease the launch site from the island nation of Anguilla.

		 Third Ariane 5 Launch Delayed to October

	The European Space Agency announced Tuesday, June 16, that the
third launch of the heavy-lift Ariane 5 booster has been delayed to
October because of a change in payload.

	Ariane 503 was scheduled for a September launch, carrying the
Eutelsat W2 communications satellite and the Atmospheric Reentry
Demonstrator (ARD), a technology demonstration satellite.

	However, Eutelsat decided last week to fly its W2 satellite on
an existing Ariane 4 booster after its W1 satellite was damaged during
tests at an assembly facility in France.  The W1 satellite was to fly
on the Ariane 4 in July.

	ESA and Arianespace, builders of the Ariane rocket, were
unable to find a commercial payload for the Ariane 503.  "The search
for a new passenger cannot be reconciled with the planning schedule
leading to entry of Ariane-5 into operational service," ESA said in a
press release.

	In place of the W2 satellite, ESA will fly a "representative
mock-up" of the W2 satellite, making the ARD the only real payload for
the launch.  The time needed to build and test the mock-up will delay
the launch from September to mid-October.

	The flight is the last of three qualification flights planned
for the heavy-lift booster.  The first flight, Ariane 501, ended in
failure less than a minute after launch in June 1996 when the booster
veered off course.  Problems with the control software were blamed for
the failure.

	Ariane 502 lifted off last October, carrying two test
satellites.  However, the main engine of the booster shut down early,
placing the satellites in the wrong orbit.  The error was traced to
excessive roll torque in the engine, a problem since corrected.

	The ARD is a unmanned spacecraft designed to test critical
reentry technologies.  It will fly a suborbital mission, reentering
over the Pacific Ocean and splashing down.  Technologies tested in the
ARD may later be used in plans for a European crew transfer vehicle
launched by the Ariane 5, possibly based on the American X-38 vehicle
being tested as a space station lifeboat.

		   Atlas Launches Comsat, Zenit Delayed

	An Atlas II booster launched an Intelsat communications
satellite June 19 while the launch of a Ukrainian Zenit booster was
delayed by at least a week June 24 by problems with its guidance

	The Atlas IIAS lifted off at 6:48pm EDT (2248 UT) from Cape
Canaveral, Florida.  The Intelsat 805 satellite separated from the
booster about a half-hour after launch.

	The satellite, which will take up a position in geosynchronous
orbit at approximately 60 degrees West, will be used to relay
communications between the Americas and Europe.  Those communications
are planned to include video and electronic communications.

	The launch of the Zenit-2 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, was
scheduled for June 23 but delayed a day by problems with the booster's
orientation system.  The unit was repaired, but failed again before
Wednesday's scheduled launch.

	The booster will be taken off the launch pad to an assembly
shop for repairs, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency told
Itar-Tass. Repairs will take at least a week to complete, he said.

	The Zenit-2 will launch five satellites.  The main payload is
a Russian Resurs remote sensing satellite, designed to return
environmental and weather data.  Four smaller satellites, representing
several nations including Chile, Thailand, and Israel, will perform a
variety of experiments.

	The launch is the first for the Zenit since a May 1997 launch
ended in an explosion shortly after liftoff.  The Zenit has
experienced other launch failures in the recent past as well.

			 SpaceViews Event Horizon

July 1:		North American preimere of asteroid-impact movie 

July 1: 	Launch of Zenit booster from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, 		
		 carrying five satellites

July 4:		Launch of M-5 booster carrying Japanese Planet-B 
		 spacecraft (Mars mission)

July 14:	Launch of the Sinosat 1 communications satellite on a 
		 Long March 3B.

July 21:	Galileo flyby of Europa

August 13-16:	Mars Society Founding Convention, Boulder, Colorado

				Other News

HGS-1 in Earth Orbit: The HGS-1 (formerly AsiaSat 3) satellite entered
geosynchronous orbit June 17, after completing two flybys of the Moon.
Launched on Christmas Day last year, the satellite was stranded in an
inclined transfer orbit when the upper stage of its Proton booster
failed. Engineers at Hughes, working with the satellite's insurers,
guided the spacecraft on a trajectory that allowed the spacecraft to
reach geosynchronous orbit using only the limited feul supplies
onboard. Hughes Global Services is now looking for customers for the
satellite, temporarily stationed over the Pacific.  "The lunar
recovery mission team did an outstanding job," HGS president Ronald
Swanson said.  "It really validates the viability of this technique
for future missions."

Comet Discovery Award:  Amateur astronomers who discover new comets
will now not only win fame, they'll win fortune, too -- up to $20,000
in prize money in an award announced by the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory (SAO) June 15. The Edgar Wilson Award, named after a late
Kentucky businessman with an interest in astronomy, will provide prize
money for comets discovered by amateur astronomers using amateur
equipment. The prize money will be divided among all qualifying
amateurs based on the number of comets each astronomer discovers. 
Prizes will be awarded on a yearly basis, with the first prizes to be
announced around July 1, 1999.

International Mars Collaboration: The United States and France may
work together on a Mars sample return mission slated for a 2005
launch, officials from the two countried announced June 18.  Under the
proposed agreement CNES, the French space agency, would provide an
Ariane-5 booster to launch the spacecraft and some spacecraft
components, including an orbiter. NASA would provide the lander,
rover, and other equipment, and retain overall management of the
mission, with participation by American and French scientists. The
announcement comes as the U.S. and Europe struggle to support future
Mars missions: cost overruns and budget cutbacks have forced the
Athena rover off a NASA 2001 lander, and the European Space Agency is
struggling to fund its Mars Express mission, planned for 2003, at the
same time as other space science projects.

Hubble Discoveries: The Hubble Space Telescope has returned images of
a giant dust disk, resembling the hubcap of a car tire, surrounding a
suspected black hole in a distant galaxy. The dust disk, about 3,700
light years across in the galaxy NGC 7052, may have been formed by the
collision of the galaxy with a smaller galaxy in the distant past. 
Astronomers have also used Hubble to uncover a warming trend on
Triton, Neptune's largest moon. Triton's temperature has warmed by
about five percent -- from 37 to 39 kelvins (-392 to -389 degrees
Fahrenheit) -- since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989. A team of
astronomers led by Jim Elliot of MIT believe the warming trend is
caused by seasonal changes, as Triton is approaching an "extreme
southern summer" where much of the southern hemisphere of the moon is
in constant sunlight.

Commercial Radarsat Approved: A California company announced June 22
that it has received permission from the federal government to build
and launch the world's first commercial radar satellite that can
provide high-resolution images to government and private users.  The
Radar1 satellite, built by RDL Space Corporation, will provide 1-meter
resolution images, day or night, in any kind of weather, starting in
2001. Such images are widely used by the Defense Department and have
also been used, at much lower resolutions, for geological research.

In Brief: Houston and Dolores Woods of Nashville, Tennessee, must be
thankful they decided not to sleep in Saturday morning, June 13. A
small lump of metal -- believed to be a meteorite -- struck their
house and landed on their bed at around 9am.  The Woods were not in
bed at the time of impact. The meteorite was examined at a local
science museum and turned over to the Smithsonian for further
analysis... Cinescape OnLine reported last week that director James
Cameron had approached NASA about flying on the shuttle to film a
movie about the construction of the International Space Station.  Both
Cameron and NASA have denied those reports.  NASA wouldn't want
Cameron around the space station anyway, since Cameron directed
"Titanic"... The world preimere of the asteroid-impact movie
"Armageddon" was held June 29 at the Kennedy Space Center. As more
than one person pointed out, it's a bit ironic that NASA, which has
announced additional support for the detection of potentially
hazardous near-Earth objects, has thrown its support behind a movie
that is far less credible (or perhaps far more unbelievable) than Deep
Impact, which got essentially no NASA support...

			     *** Articles ***

	       NOTSNIK:  The Navy's Secret Satellite Program
			    by Andrew J. LePage


	Like the other branches of the United States military during
the early years of the Space Age, the Navy's "space program" actually
consisted of several, largely independent space projects run by
different internal bureaus and laboratories.  While the Navy Research
Laboratory (NRL) ran the Vanguard program under the watchful gaze of
the public, the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at China Lake,
California was secretly conducting an independent military satellite
program whose existance was not acknowledged until 1994.  

	NOTS, under the direction of the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance
(BuOrd), had been responsible for the development rocket-based weapons
for the Navy since its inception in 1943.  During the years leading up
to the Space Age, engineers and scientists at NOTS were already busy
performing research on suborbital and satellite ocean surveillance
systems.  With the launch of Sputnik, a NOTS team proposed an
all-solid-fuel launch vehicle based on the motors in the Army's
Sargent missile. However, the Army turned down their request for the
rocket motors.  

	Undetered, NOTS engineers went back to the drawing board and
by early 1958 came up with a remarkably innovative means of orbiting a
payload with available hardware.  The new NOTS satellite proposal,
called "Project Pilot", used a six-stage air-launched system capable
of orbiting a 1.05 kilogram (2.3 pound) satellite.  This system would
serve as a technological pathfinder for the Navy's future rapid
response reconaissance systems.  The technical director of BuOrd's new
space program office, John Nicolaides, approved the project and
development immeadiately proceeded with a $300,000 budget and a four
month deadline.  Subsequently Project Pilot received the nickname
"NOTSNIK" based on a combination of NOTS and Nicolaides' name but also
partly as a play on the "Sputnik" moniker.

The NOTSNIK Launch Vehicle

	The "first stage" of NOTSNIK was a specially modified Douglas
F4D-1 "Skyray" jet fighter supplied by BuAer.  When the F4D-1 entered
service in 1956, it was the Navy's first carrier-based delta-winged
jet fighter.  The 13.9 meter (45.67 foot) long F4D-1 to be used for
NOTSNIK, serial number 130745, was a specially modified, stripped down
version used for high speed trial flights.  With its Pratt and Whitney
J57-P-2 turbojet on full afterburner, this plane was capable of
attaining speeds of Mach 1.05.  

	The tight clearances and limited payload capability of the
Skyray set the limits on the size and weight of the subsequent five
stages of the NOTSNIK launch vehicle.  This rocket had a total length
of 4.38 meters (14.4 feet), a fin span of 1.65 meters (5.42 feet) and
weighed only 950 kilograms (2,100 pounds).   Even with the mass of the
Skyray included, NOTSNIK is the smallest known system ever built to
launch satellites.  The rocket was mounted on a standard Aero 7A bomb
rack under Skyray's port wing.  A fuel tank of like mass was carried
under the starboard wing to balance the load.

	During a launch, the Skyray would proceed at an altitude of
10.7 kilometers (35,000 feet) to the air-drop zone located in the
Navy's test range over the Santa Barbara Channel in the Pacific Ocean
just west of Los Angeles.  Before release the pilot would start a 2-G
pullup at Mach 0.9 to start a "bomb toss" manuever.  At an altitude of
12.5 kilometers (41,000 feet), the rocket would be released at a speed
of 742 kilometers (461 miles) per hour and an angle of 50 degrees to
the horizon.  Three seconds later the first of the solid rocket stages
would ignite.

	The second and third "stages" of NOTSNIK made use of a common
airframe.  Each "stage" consisted of a pair of modified HOTROC motors
like those used by the Navy's ASROC anti-submarine weapon and produced
126.4 kilonewtons (28,400 pounds) of thrust for 4.86 seconds.  During
ascent the burn of the second stage would be followed by a 12 second
coast before the third stage ignited.  After third stage burnout, the
vehicle would coast for another 100 seconds.  At an altitude of 79.4
kilometers (49.4 miles) the second/third stage structure was
jettisoned and the fourth stage was ignited.

	This stage consisted of an X-241 rocket motor manufactured by
the Allegheny Ballistic Laboratory.  Based on the X-248 motor
developed for the NRL Vangaurd rocket, the X-241 produced 12.11
kilonewtons (2,720 pounds) of thrust for 36 seconds.  After another
coast of three seconds, the fifth stage would come to life.  This 14.9
kilogram (32.9 pound) motor was designed at NOTS and produced 5.14
kilonewtons (1,155 pounds) of thrust for 5.7 seconds.  After this
stage burned out, NOTSNIK was travelling at 8.44 kilometers (5.25
miles) per second in a near-polar orbit with a apogee of about 2,400
kilometers (1,500 miles).  But with a perigee of about 60 kilometers
(40 miles), this orbit would be very short-lived.  

	A small 568 gram (1.25 pound) solid rocket sixth stage
integrated with the satellite payload would be fired 53 minutes and 20
seconds after release.  Also developed at NOTS, this tiny motor
produced 765 Newtons (172 pounds) of thrust for one second and would
raise the NOTSNIK satellite's perigee to a safe 2,250 kilometers
(1,400 miles) allowing the mission to begin.

The NOTSNIK Satellite

	With a mass of 1.05 kilograms (2.3 pounds) and a diameter of
20 centimeters (8 inches), the doughnut-shaped NOTSNIK satellite is
among the smallest orbital payloads ever launched.  This
battery-powered satellite was constructed at NOTS China Lake facility
and carried a single instrument - an infrared "television" scanner. 
Similar to the units supplied by the Navy for the USAF lunar orbiters,
this simple imager was hardly a "television" in the usual sense.  A
small mirror focused light onto an infrared detector which would use
the rotation of the satellite to scan a line in the scene.  The
forward motion of the satellite itself would then allow a picture to
be built one line at a time.  While the crude images produced by this
system would have little intelligence value, the experienced gained
would be valuable in developing more capable follow-on systems.

	The images produced by the satellite would be transmitted to a
network of about a half dozen portable MINITRACK stations scattered
around the globe.  Because of the small size of the satellite, the
system would only operate for about three orbits before the batteries
were depleted, long enough to verify that orbit had been achieved and
attempt to secure some images.

	Since orbital reconnaissance was a touchy subject at the time,
NOTSNIK and its mission were kept top secret. Except for those with a
need to know, NOTSNIK's "cover story" was that it was to conduct
radiation measurements in support of Project Argus which would assess
the effects of nuclear detonations in space.  The satellite's small
size and short lifetime made it unlikely that it would be detected by
anyone outside the program.

	Hardware development proceeded at a rapid pace during the
spring of 1958.  But before actual flights of the system, a pair of
ground-launched test flights were to be performed to assess the
modifications made to the HOTROC motors.  A NOTSNIK rocket mockup with
two live HOTROC motors was prepared for launch from the G-2 test range
at China Lake on July 4, 1958.  In an unintended Independence Day
fireworks display, the rocket exploded one second after launch.  An
investigation of the failure indicated that a crack in the solid
rocket motor's grain was at fault.  A second ground test firing two
weeks later was even less successful.  With eight seconds left in the
countdown, a glitch in the  electrical system caused the rocket to
blow up on the test stand.  Despite the two failures, project managers
proceeded with an orbital attempt based on their engineers' past
experience and their faith in this simple launch system.

NOTSNIK Launch Attempts

	On July 25, 1958, only a week after the last unsuccessful
NOTSNIK ground test, Navy Pilot Commander William W. West climbed into
the cockpit of the BuAer Skyray carrying a NOTSNIK rocket in the first
all-up test flight.  Once Commander West reached the the drop zone, he
performed the required pullup maneuver and released the rocket. 
Because of the sudden loss of weight from his port wing, West's Skyray
banked sharply to the right making further observations of the rocket
difficult.  With the sudden burst of smoke and flame from the ignition
of the second stage, West and the pilot of the chase plane lost sight
of the rocket and assumed it had failed.   

	While most of the tracking network shutdown after the apparent
failure, the station in Christchurch, New Zealand did not and
reportedly detected the NOTSNIK satellite in orbit.  While no useful
images could be extracted from the weak signal, it did appear that the
launch was successful afterall.  NOTSNIK thus became the first
air-launched satellite - almost 32 years before the first Pegasus

	With a success under their belt, a second orbital attempt was
made on August 8, 1958.  The HOTROC motors blew up on ignition ending
the mission.  Another pair of ground tests were conducted on August 16
and 17 to once again verify the design.  Both flights failed about
three seconds after ignition when their stabilizing fins broke free. 
Obviously the structure had difficulties with the stresses of launch
and required changes.  

	With little time left before the end of the program, the
remaining four NOTSNIK rockets were prepared for launch in rapid
succession.  The third orbital attempt on August 22, 1958 started well
with the accelerating rocket observed disappearing over the horizon. 
Later signals were received by the New Zealand station during the
scheduled first and third orbital passes apparently confirming that
orbit had been achieved.  As with the first mission, the signals were
too weak to obtain usable images.  

	The next mission flown on August 25 ended 3.75 seconds after
release when one of the HOTROC motors exploded.  The following day the
fifth attempt ended when the rocket failed to ignite and fell into the
Pacific.  The final NOTSNIK orbital attempt on August 28 ended when
the rocket broke up after a second stage HOTROC motor failed to
ignite. With this last flight, the first phase of the NOTSNIK program
drew to a close.


	Plans for additional NOTSNIK flights were not approved and
development efforts instead shifted towards upgrading the existing
rocket design.  One project, called Caleb, sought to build an improved
air-launch system but was eventually cancelled because of political
pressure from the USAF who wanted to monopolize military space
launches.  While it would not launch payloads into orbit, Caleb did
fly as part of the Navy's secret high altitude "Hi-Hoe" program with
the last flight in 1962 reportedly reaching an altitude of 1,167.3
kilometers (725.5 miles).  Another follow-on program, called NOTSNIK
II, sought to develop an anti-satellite capability.  This still-secret
program is thought to have made at least two test flights during the
early 1960s.  

	The NOTSNIK rocket was not the only part of the program to
continue development.  The infrared scanner carried by the NOTSNIK
satellite also flew on the ill fated USAF lunar probes as part of
Operation Mona.  After these failures to return usable data, the
design was eventually flown as a secret secondary experiment on some
early flights of the Navy's Transit experimental navigation satellite. 
The camera operated satisfactorily and returned usable images, thus
vindicating its design and providing useful data for future imaging


Peter Pesavento, "US Navy's Untold Story of Space-Related Firsts", 
	Spaceflight, Vol. 38, No. 7, pp. 239-243, July 1996
Peter Pesavento, "Secret Revealed About the Early US Navy Space 
	Programme", Spaceflight, Vol. 38, No. 7, pp. 243-245, July 
Joel W. Powell, "Rockets Red Glare", Quest, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 58-61, 
	Spring 1994
Joel W. Powell, "The Nots Air-Launched Satellite Programme", Journal 
	of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 50, No. 11, pp. 
	433-440, November 1997
Keith J. Scala, "A History of Air-Launched Space Vehicles", Quest, 
	Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 34-41, Spring 1994

[continued in part 2]