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starship-design: FW: SpaceViews -- 1999 May 8

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From: owner-spaceviews@wayback.com [mailto:owner-spaceviews@wayback.com]
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Sent: Saturday, May 08, 1999 1:57 PM
Subject: SpaceViews -- 1999 May 8

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			    S P A C E V I E W S
			     Issue 1999.05.08
                                1999 May 8

*** News ***
	Delta 3 Lifts Off But Puts Satellite Into Wrong Orbit
	Russia May Use ISS Soyuz for Mir
	Lockheed Martin Appoints Panel to Study Launch Failures
	German Satellite Encounters Problems
	Upgraded Software Enables Successful Galileo Flyby
	Russian Service Module Renamed
	Students to Participate in 2001 Mars Mission
	SpaceViews Event Horizon
	Other News

*** Articles ***
	The State and Fate of Small RLVs: A Report on the Space 
	 Access '99 Conference

*** Letters ***
	The Case for Privatization

                             *** News ***

        Delta 3 Lifts Off But Puts Satellite Into Wrong Orbit

	After a month's worth of delays, a Boeing Delta 3 lifted off
Tuesday evening, May 4, but a failure of the booster's second stage
stranded its payload in a useless low orbit.

	The Delta 3 launched the Orion 3 communications satellite at
9:00 pm EDT (0100 UT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the beginning
of its hour-long launch window.  The countdown and the launch were
problem free.

	However, Boeing launch controllers later reported that the
second of two burns scheduled for the Delta 3's second stage may have
been too short.  Boeing officials later reported at a late night news
conference that the second burn may not have taken place at all.

	The Orion 3 satellite is in a orbit of just 137 by 1,210 km
(85 by 750 mi.), the orbit the second stage and satellite were in
after the end of the stage's first burn.  Satellite controllers are
trying to use the spacecraft's own engine to raise its orbit so that
it can use its solar panels more effectively, otherwise the
satellite's batteries will die within a day.  It is unlikely the
spacecraft can be placed in its planned geosynchronous orbit.

	The launch, previously planned for May 2, was pushed back to
the 4th after the failure of the Centaur upper stage on a Titan 4B.
The Delta 3 second stage uses the same engine as the Centaur,
however, Boeing engineers decided the Delta 3 upper stage was
sufficiently different from the Centaur not to be a problem.

	A board of investigation has been convened to study the
incident, and started their investigation Wednesday, May 5.

	The failure is the second in two launch attempts for the
Delta 3.  The first, in August 1998, ended in failure just over a
minute after launch due to problems traced to the booster's guidance
system, which was not programmed to handle the vibrations from the
booster's strap-on boosters that are ignited after liftoff. These
vibrations caused a "roll instability" which eventually led to the
loss of the booster.

	There had been four previous launch attempts for this Delta
3, all of which were scrubbed by various problems with the booster
and range. The most recent launch attempt, on April 22, was aborted
when a software error prevented a command to start the booster's
engines from being sent to the rocket at T-0 seconds.

	The Delta 3 is a heavy-lift version of Boeing's workhorse
Delta 2.  It is capable of lifting payloads as heavy as 3,800 kg
(8,400 lbs.) into geostationary orbit, twice the capacity of the
Delta 2.  Boeing hopes the booster will gain a share of the growing
market for large comsats and related payloads.

	The Orion 3 satellite was to be used by the Loral Skynet
system for communications services for the Far East and the Pacific.

                   Russia May Use ISS Soyuz for Mir

	Russia is reportedly planning to use a Soyuz spacecraft that
was to launch the first crew for the International Space Station to
send a new crew to the Mir space station this August, according to
the Times of London.

	In an article published by the Times this week, the Russian
Space Agency will use $40 million given to them by NASA last month to
build the Soyuz spacecraft that will ferry a relief crew to Mir this
August, rather than send the first crew to ISS.

	NASA gave Russia the money on the understanding, but not
explicit agreement, that the funding would be used to complete a
Soyuz spacecraft that would be used for ISS.  The Times said the next
Soyuz spacecraft would not be ready until late next year.

	Russian space expert James Oberg told the Times that Russia
was willing do whatever necessary to keep Mir in orbit for at least
the near term.  "There is no way they will bring down Mir while the
ISS is unmanned," he told the Times. "Russia wants to be one step
ahead of America, and with Mir in space it is." 

	If the Soyuz in unavailable for the first ISS crew launch,
they could instead be transferred to the station on one of the
shuttle missions scheduled for ISS assembly and logistics this year.
However, in that case the crew would lack an escape vehicle, in the
form of a Soyuz capsule, in the event of an emergency on the station.

	"We are working on several contingency plans, including using
shuttles to go to ISS and modifying Navy satellites," NASA spokesman
Dwayne Brown told the Times. "We are also talking to our
international partners about how we can help Russia keep to its

	The "Navy satellite" is likely a reference to the Interim
Control Module, a modified Navy spacecraft that would provide station
propulsion if the ISS's Service Module was available on the station.

	Russia plans to launch the Service Module late this year.
Energia, the company that built the Service Module, also operates the
Mir space station and is seeking investors to keep the station in
orbit.  At the Service Module rollout April 26 company officials said
they were willing to take out loans to keep the station in orbit
until at least early 2000, even if no investors could be found.

	The most recent investor candidate, British businessman Peter
Llewellyn, is thought unlikely to have the $100 million Energia
claimed he would pay for a flight to Mir in August.  Llewellyn, who
claims that he was offered a free trip to Mir to promote a children's
hospital, was implicated in a number of scams while in the U.S.

	Space News, in its May 10 issue, shed some light on the
original investor that Energia claimed in December would support Mir
for three years.  According to a Russian Space Agency spokesman
quoted in the article, the investor was from Australia, and backed
out when the Russian government failed to provide guarantees quickly.

       Lockheed Martin Appoints Panel to Study Launch Failures

	Lockheed Martin has appointed an independent panel, headed by
a former Martin Marietta president, to study the recent rash of
failures by the company's launch vehicles, the company announced May

	The decision to create the panel comes on the same day the
Air Force officially declared the April 30 launch of a Milstar
satellite a failure, as the communications satellite is stranded in a
low orbit.

	The independent panel will be charged with making a
comprehensive study of program management, engineering and
manufacturing processes, and quality control procedures at Lockheed
Martin's Astronautics, Missiles and Space, and Michoud Space Systems
divisions. The panel's report will be due by September 1.

	Although the company claims a 97 percent "mission success"
rate, "it's also clear that recent launch vehicle missions have not
met their objectives," said Lockheed Martin president Pete Teets.
"This is unacceptable in a company that takes the concept of
performance and quality as seriously as Lockheed Martin does."

	The panel will be chaired by A. Thomas Young, a former
president of Martin Marietta.  Martin Marietta and Lockheed merged in
the mid-1990s to create Lockheed Martin.  The rest of the panel will
include experts from both within and outside of the company.

	Lockheed Martin has been hit with a string of three launch
failures in less than a month.  Two Titan 4B launches, on April 9 and
30, failed when their upper stages failed to place their payloads
into the proper orbits.  An Athena 2 failed to put the Ikonos 1
commercial reconnaissance satellite into orbit April 27 when its
payload fairing failed to separate, making the payload too heavy to
put into orbit.

	On the same day Lockheed Martin announced the panel, the Air
Force officially declared the April 30 Titan 4B launch to be a
failure.  A problem with the Titan 4B's Centaur upper stage stranded
its payload, a Milstar 2 communications satellite, into a useless
transfer orbit.

	Air Force officials say the satellite is functioning
normally, with its batteries fully charged and its solar panels
deployed.  Air Force and industry experts are studying ways to make
some use of the satellite.

	The Air Force has convened a separate accident investigation
board to look into the causes of the launch failure.

                 German Satellite Encounters Problems

	A German X-ray astronomy satellite launched last week has run
into problems with its power supply that may prevent the satellite
from carrying out its mission, SpaceViews has learned.

	At least one of eleven battery cells on the ABRIXAS
satellite, launched April 28 from Russia, have failed, according to
the German space agency DLR.  This problem with the power supply has
cut off communications with the spacecraft since May 1.

	According to reports first published on "The Cosmic Mirror"
news service, initial contact with the satellite after launch was
successful.  However, in subsequent passes over ground stations a few
hours after launch, a temperature problem was noted in the battery,
followed by sharp changes in voltage.  By April 30 contact with the
satellite was lost and has not been regained.

	An international effort has been mounted to try and regain
contact with the satellite, but project officials believe the best
chance to regain contact with ABRIXAS will not come until late June.
At that time the geometry of its inclined orbit will keep it in the
Sun for several consecutive days, which officials hope will give the
satellite enough power from its solar panels to resume contact with
ground controllers.

	ABRIXAS, which stands for "A Broadband Imaging X-Ray All-sky
Survey", was designed to provide the first complete survey of the sky
at X-ray energies of 0.5 to 10 KeV, higher than past X-ray
observatories like ROSAT. Scientists believe the satellite will be
able to discover about 10,000 new X-ray sources, such as black holes,
and be able to peed deeper into the heart of our own galaxy. The
satellite was built by the German company OHB for the German space
agency DLR.

	The satellite was launched April 28 on a Russian Kosmos-3M
booster from Kapustin Yar.  The launch, the first from the
once-abandoned site in southern Russia in over a decade, also placed
MegSat 0, a small Italian communications satellite, into low-Earth

          Upgraded Software Enables Successful Galileo Flyby

	Upgraded, "smart" software allowed NASA's Galileo spacecraft
to make a successful flyby of Jupiter's moon Callisto May 5, avoiding
problems that had foiled earlier flybys.

	The software, which allows the spacecraft to deal with an
electrical glitch on the spacecraft without disrupting observations,
was put to use twice in the days before the Callisto flyby, JPL
reported May 5.

	Three prior flybys of another moon, Europa, were disrupted
last year and early this year by glitches on Galileo.  Those glitches
triggered safe modes on Galileo which shut down scientific
observations as the spacecraft waited for instructions from Earth.
At least some of the problems were traced to electrical glitches.

	To prevent those problems from occurring again, spacecraft
engineers developed new software that was uploaded to Galileo prior
to this week's flyby.  The software was designed to recognize the
glitch and correct it without entering safe mode.

	The software was triggered twice on May 3, as Galileo
approached Callisto.  In both cases the software recognized the
glitch and determined it was not dangerous, and kept the spacecraft
out of safe mode.  This permitted a successful flyby of Callisto two
days later.

	A separate problem, though, did cause Galileo to switch from
its primary control system for its scan platform to a less accurate
backup system.  The change means some of the data from one of
Galileo's instruments may not be as sharp as planned, project
officials said.

	The flyby was the first of several scheduled to alter
Galileo's orbit. The "Perijove Reduction Campaign" will use four
Callisto flybys over the next four months to reduce the closest
approach Galileo makes to Jupiter, its perijove, from 643,000 km
(400,000 mi.) to 393,000 km (244,000 mi.).

	This change in orbit will allow Galileo to make one or two
close flybys of Io in October and November. Galileo has stayed
farther away from Jupiter because of the intense radiation
environment that close to the giant planet. The high-speed charged
particles, accelerated by Jupiter's powerful magnetic field, can
damage electronics on the spacecraft.

	Project engineers believe the spacecraft will be able to
survive the passage through the radiation in the vicinity of Io, but
are concerned that radiation exposure to the spacecraft's computers
may reset them or otherwise put the spacecraft into a protective safe
mode. Waiting until the end of the extended mission reduces the
effect of any damage to the spacecraft from the flybys.

                    Russian Service Module Renamed

	With little fanfare or official announcements, the Service
Module, a key Russian contribution to the International Space
Station, has been renamed "Zvezda".

	The announcement of the renaming was buried in the middle of
the latest ISS status report issued by NASA Thursday, May 6.  The
status report only noted that the Service Module was "recently" named
Zvezda, the Russian word for "star".

	The module was officially rolled out in an April 26 ceremony
at an Energia facility near Moscow, but no announcement of its
renaming was made then.  No other announcements of the module name
change were made; the rest of NASA's ISS Web site still uses the
generic "Service Module" name.

	The renaming is the latest in series that follows a general
philosophy to give station modules descriptive names while the
overall station retains the generic ISS moniker.  Most recently,
Japan renamed its major contribution, the Japanese Experiment Module,
"Kibo", a Japanese word for "hope".

	The first two station modules, the Russian-built FGB module
and the American Node 1 docking node, were renamed Zarya ("dawn") and
Unity respectively.  The U.S. laboratory module has been named
Destiny, while three cargo modules being built by Italy have been
named Leonardo, Donnatello, and Raffaello. 

	According to the NASA status report, Zvezda is scheduled to
leave it Moscow assembly facility by train May 20 for Baikonur, where
it will be prepared for launch.  Zvezda's departure date is the same
day the next shuttle mission, the next ISS assembly and logisitics
mission, is scheduled for launch.

             Students to Participate in 2001 Mars Mission

	The general public, and students in particular, will have
unprecedented access to a 2001 Mars mission as part of a Planetary
Society project announced Thursday, May 6.

	In the "Red Rover Goes to Mars" project, announced during
Space Day festivities in Washington, D.C. by former astronaut and
senator John Glenn and Bill Nye, selected students will become
integral members of teams working on the Mars Surveyor 2001 mission,
including roles operating the spacecraft's rover and robotic arm.

	Those students, selected from essay- and journal-writing
contests, will work during the mission from a simulated "Mars base"
while other students and the general public participate via the
Internet, including analyzing real-time data returned by the mission
and suggesting areas to explore and experiments to conduct.

	"We stand on the threshold of an exciting millennium of
exploration, one where the global public will become participants in
the exploration of other worlds," said Planetary Society executive
director Louis Friedman.  "Internet technology, which has opened up
communications here on Earth, will now provide worldwide access to
the adventure of planetary exploration."

	The mission will involve students with the control of the
Marie Curie rover, a nearly-identical twin to the Sojourner rover
that flew on the Mars Pathfinder mission, as well as a robot arm that
will be used to collect samples.

	Student participants will be limited to those born between
January 31, 1984 and January 31, 1991.  Those age ranges were
designed so that the students would be no more than 18 years old by
the time the spacecraft lands on Mars in April 2002.

	The project is an outgrowth of the society's "Red Rover, Red
Rover" program which allows students to teleoperate model rovers over
simulated Martian terrain at various sites on Earth.  Both that
program and the current project have been co-sponsored by the Lego

	The project is the second student involvement in the 2001
lander.  In March the Planetary Society announced a contest to
include a tiny student-designed "nanoexperiment" on the lander, as
part of an existing experiment package to be flown on the mission.

	More information about the "Red Rover Goes to Mars" project
can be found on the Web at http://rrgtm.planetary.org/.

                       SpaceViews Event Horizon

May 6-9		Space Studies Institute Conference on Space 
		 Manufacturing, Princeton, New Jersey

May 15		Delta 2 launch of Navstar 2R-3 GPS satellite from 
		 Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 6:28 pm EDT (2228 UT)

May 18		Pegasus XL launch of the TERRIERS and MUBLCOM 
		 satellites, staged from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 
		 California, at 1:05 am EDT (0505 UT).

May 20		Launch of the space shuttle Discovery on mission 
		 STS-96 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 
		 9:32 am EDT (1332 UT).

May 22		Proton launch of the Nimiq-1 comsat from Baikonur, 

May 23		Atlas 2A launch of the GOES-L weather satellite from 
		 Cape Canaveral, Florida (under review)

May 27-31	International Space Development Conference, Houston, 

May TBD		Titan 4B launch of the Lacrosse F4 satellite from 
		 Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (under review)

                              Other News

Liberty Bell 7 Located:  An expedition has located the Liberty Bell 7
capsule, in which Gus Grissom flew on America's second manned
spaceflight, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  The team located
the capsule May 1 five km (three miles) below the surface of the
ocean.  Plans to raise it were delayed, however, when a cable
connecting the command ship to the Magellan robotic submersible
snapped in rough weather just hours after the capsule was located.
The team plans to return in late June to recover the submersible and
raise the capsule.  The capsule sank shortly after splashdown July
21, 1961, nearly drowning Grissom, when the capsule's hatch blew.

New Asteroid Belts: Oxford University astronomers have found
theoretical evidence for two new, sparsely-populated asteroid belts
in the inner solar system.  Using computer simulations, N. Wyn Evans
and Serge Tabachnik found that asteroids in two circular belts, one
within the orbit of Mercury and the other just beyond the orbit of
the Earth, could exist there for the history of the solar system.  No
known asteroids have been linked to the inner belt, but at least
three recently discovered asteroids may have orbits consistent with
the outer belt.

Don't You Make My Black Holes Pink: Australian astronomers are
puzzling over the discovery of several black holes which, at visible
wavelengths, look pink.  The holes themselves are likely not pink,
noted Paul Francis of the Australian National University; rather,
dust and gas around the black hole is glowing pink.  "We really don't
have the foggiest idea" why they are pink, he said.

ISS Advertising: The Space Frontier Foundation announced this week
its opposition to recent NASA policy that would prohibit advertising
on any vehicles docking with or operating near the International
Space Station.  "Contrary to pronouncements by NASA Administrator Dan
Goldin, this shows that ISS is not open for business," said SFF
president Rick Tumlinson. "NASA says they want the private sector to
be prime users of the station, then they announce plans to gut one of
the cornerstones of commerce -- advertising."  Tumlinson said this
shows that NASA should turn over the operation of ISS, once complete,
to a port authority-like organization that would work with both
public and private organizations.

Moon Base Sites: Scientists have identified three areas in the Moon's
south polar regions that would be ideal for lunar bases.  In a paper
published in the May 1 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, the
group of American and Dutch scientists picked three locations that,
because of their altitude, would be in sunlight for 65 to 80 percent
of the time, making solar power a viable energy source for any base
there.  Nearby sites in constant darkness would be sources of water
ice for the sites. 

Briefly: Russia will not insure the launch of the Zvezda service
module for the International Space Station, Russian media sources
reported last week.  Neither the Russian Space Agency nor the Energia
corporation have the minimum $125,000 needed to purchase insurance
for the launch... Lockheed Martin will partner with TRW and Telecom
Italia to build the Astrolink satellite network, the company said
this week.  The service will provide high-speed Internet and
multimedia services initially to North America and Europe, and later
worldwide.  The first four satellites of the system will be launched
starting in 2002... John Glenn on a stamp?  The U.S. Postal Service
is accepting votes for the stamps it will include in its 90s
collection, the last in a series of stamps on a decade-by-decade tour
of the 20th century.  Glenn's return to space and "interplanetary
exploration" are two of 25 candidates for 15 stamps to honor the
decade.  Previous decades' stamp collections have included the space
shuttle for the 1980s, Pioneer 10 for the 1970s, and the lunar
landing for the 1960s.  Voting will continue through the end of the
month at local post offices and online at http://stampvote.msn.com.

                           *** Articles ***

                  The State and Fate of Small RLVs:
             A Report on the Space Access '99 Conference
                            by Jeff Foust

	The case for reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) has seemed
straightforward.  RLVs can launch their payload, return to Earth, and
be ready to launch another in a week or less.  Reusability and rapid
turnaround times reduce costs, making it far less expensive to place
satellites into orbit.

	The picture clouds a bit, though, when examined in more
detail.  The technical challenges -- and costs -- of developing RLVs
has limited most planned designs to relatively small payloads, such
as low-Earth orbit (LEO) comsats like Iridium and Teledesic.  While
the market for these appears large, it is also uncertain, and that
uncertainty is making it difficult for RLV companies to attract
investors.  Meanwhile, the larger aerospace companies are focusing on
the existing, growing market for heavy geosynchronous orbit payloads,
with expendables now and RLVs like VentureStar in the future.

	These issues were a primary focus of Space Access '99, an
annual conference held last month in Phoenix focuses on new
developments that promise to reduce the cost of access to space.  By
the end of the conference it was clear that there was no shortage of
technical solutions to make space access less expensive, but a dire
shortage of money to make it happen.

The Uncertain Market

	Market planning by RLVs developers has, in general, focused
on the growing market for LEO comsats.  LEO comsat constellations
could account for several hundred payloads in the next decade,
according to an analysis by the consulting company The Teal Group
earlier this year, as projects like Teledesic and SkyBridge get off
the drawing board and into orbit.

	Yet, there is considerable uncertainty in the market.
Iridium, which entered commercial service late last year, has run
into serious financial problems as it has been unable to attract
anywhere near as many customers as it planned.  The recent departure
of its CEO and chief financial officer has led to concerns that the
company may not be able to make it, as well as overall speculation
about how large of a market there really is for these services.
These concerns are likely the primary reason why potential RLV
investors are staying on the sidelines for the time being. 

	The constellations themselves are also changing, noted Eric
Laursen of International Launch Services, a Lockheed Martin/Russian
joint venture that markets Atlas and Proton boosters.  The number of
satellites in Teledesic's project has shrunk from around 1,000 to
288, with each satellite growing heavier and flying in higher orbits
-- two factors that work against small RLVs.

	This may prove critical, according to a market analysis
presented at the conference by Dave Salt.  Since Teledesic's
satellites account for about three-quarters of the "baseline"
payloads over the next several years, any successful RLV may be able
to launch at least one Teledesic satellite to be successful.  He also
noted that RLVs need to enter service by 2001 to be able to capture a
share of the projected surge in launcher demand that will last
through 2003, before it declines as current projected projects are
placed in orbit.

	In fact, the major aerospace companies are unconvinced there
is a market for any kind of launch vehicle for small payloads.  ILS's
Laursen noted that the largest area of growth is in GEO comsats
weighing over 5,500 kg (12,100 lbs.).  This is because customers want
as many transponders in orbit as they can get to lease or sell to
broadcasters, and the most efficient way to do that is with large

	Laursen said that Lockheed Martin has struggled to sell
flights on its Athena series of small launch vehicles.  He also noted
the potential new competition from Russia, where the Dnepr-1 rocket,
a converted ICBM, can place up to 3,200 kg into LEO at low cost, with
150 of the rockets available.

	Similarly, Boeing has no vehicle in use or planned for small
payloads.  Boeing's Dana Andrews said the company is designing an
RLV. Although details on their design had not yet been publicly
released, it would likely be a two-stage design capable of lifting
heavier payloads into orbit, rather than a direct competitor for
smaller RLVs already in the works.

RLV Company Updates

	With an uncertain launch market that's being dismissed by the
larger aerospace companies, it would appear that the group of
start-up RLV companies would face a steep uphill path to success.
And while that may be true, the companies speaking at Space Access
'99 showed every sign of optimism that their vehicles will be built
and be a success.

	Gary Hudson, CEO of Rotary Rocket, downplayed concerns about
the small LEO launch market.  The company's business plan is not
based on launching Teledesic satellites, he said.  He believes that
other markets besides satellite delivery are viable, including
servicing of satellites, transfer of International Space Station
crews, and eventually space tourism, although that market may be
10-15 years down the line.

	Hudson said the company plans to make the first flight of the
Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV), which was rolled out in a March 1
ceremony, in the next few weeks.  The company had just completed
tests on the rotors that will be used for the flights, which will
take place from Rotary's test facility at Mojave Airport, California.

	Rotary has raised about $30 million of the $150 million it
needs to complete its orbital vehicle.  Hudson downplayed reports
that Virgin's Richard Branson was investing in Rotary, calling
published reports "grossly wrong" but declining to elaborate.

	Mitchell Burnside Clapp of Pioneer Rocketplane outlined the
status of his company's Pathfinder RLV.  The Pathfinder uses
off-the-shelf technologies where possible, he said, ranging from an
RD-120 engine to brakes and tires used in the SR-71.  "Pioneer
Rocketplane is all about risk reduction," he said.  

	Clapp believes the vehicle will be able to put up to 2,250 kg
(5,000 lbs.) in LEO for $5-10 million a flight. He said the total
cost of the Pathfinder will be less than $300 million, a sum the
company is still raising.  Once full funding is found, he said, it
will take 35 months to go to first flight.

	Steve Wurst provided a look at the plans of Space Access LLC,
an RLV start-up that has shied away from the publicity other RLV
makers have sought.  Their SA-1 project would be a fully-reusable
two-stage system.  A first stage would take off from a runway and fly
most of the way into orbit using an ejector ramjet and engine.  It
would then deploy a second stage that would use a rocket engine to go
the rest of the way into orbit, deliver the payload, and return.

	The SA-1 would be capable of launching LEO and some GEO
satellites.  Wurst said a redesigned second stage would later be able
to transfer crews and supplies to the International Space Station.
Wurst said the company is doing wind tunnel tests on the SA-1 design,
and is looking to base their vehicle at the former Homestead Air
Force Base south of Miami, Florida.

	The uncertain market and lack of investors is also not
deterring companies, both new and established, from entering the
marketplace.  Orbital Science Corporation's Tim Lewis described his
company's concept for a "Space Taxi", outlined in Orbital's space
architecture study submitted to NASA.  The Space Taxi would be a
reusable vehicle launched atop an expendable vehicle like the Delta 4
Heavy, Atlas 5, or Ariane 5, capable of carrying 7 people into orbit.

	Universal Space Lines is also designing its own RLV, Space
Clipper, according to Jess Sponable.  The Space Clipper Experimental
(SC-X) would be a vertical take-off and landing vehicle designed to
test RLV technologies for future systems, he said.  It would
eventually become the second stage of a two-stage system, perhaps
with USL's Intrepid expendable booster also in development.  Sponable
said the SC-X would make test flights from White Sands as early as
2003, funding permitting.

	Bob Conger of Microcosm outlined his company's Scorpius
series of launch vehicles, starting with the SR-S suborbital rocket,
which flew for the first time in January.  The SR-S is the first in a
series of vehicles that will eventually build up to the Sprite
"mini-lift" vehicle and the Exodus medium-lift, capable of placing up
to 6,800 kg (15,000 lbs.) into LEO for $10 million.  While Scorpius'
vehicles are expendable, Conger said the company is also looking at

	The potentially-lucrative sounding rocket market is the
target of TGV-Rockets, according to Pat Bahn.  TGV is developing the
Modular Incremental Compact High Energy Low-cost Launch Experiment
(MICHELLE), a reusable suborbital launch vehicle that is designed to
provide more microgravity time for payloads under less stressful
conditions than current sounding rockets.  The vehicle would fly a
crew of three and 1000 kg (2,200 lbs.) of payload to altitudes of 100
km (62 mi.) and speeds of Mach 3.

	Bahn noted that the market for sounding rockets currently is
small -- about $100 million a year -- but other markets, from
military flights to ISS experimental qualification flights, combined
with the efficiencies gained by using an RLV with lower operating
costs, would result in a much larger market.  "Small markets add up,"
Bahn noted.  The company needs about $50 million to build the
vehicle, Bahn said.

The Role of Government

	The role government can and should play to promote cheap
access to space was also discussed at the conference.  Three such
roles were discussed: developing X-vehicles to test new concepts,
regulations to make RLV flights possible, and legislation to
financially support RLV development.

	Carl Meade of Lockheed Martin discussed the status of the
X-33.  He acknowledged that the project has had problems with the
X-33's engine and hydrogen fuel tank that have pushed back the date
of the first flight until mid-2000.  However, such problems should be
expected from X-vehicles, pointing to a chart which color-coded
technologies used in the vehicle green, yellow, or red based on how
ready for flight those technologies are.  "All X-vehicles are
yellow," Meade said.

	The Air Force and NASA will be cooperating on development of
technologies for a "space maneuver vehicle" (SMV), a small reusable
spacecraft that would be the upper stage of a launch vehicle capable
of going into orbit.  The Air Force has already been working on the
X-40, a prototype of which made a successful drop test in August from
Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.  More X-40 drop tests are
planned this fall from B-52s, according to the Air Force's Terry

	The Air Force will also get involved with the X-37, a similar
vehicle that is one of the first of NASA's Future-X projects.  NASA
and Boeing are working on a cooperative cost-sharing agreement to
develop the X-37. Robert Armstrong of NASA's Marshall Space Flight
center said NASA will conduct atmospheric flight tests of the X-37
before a shuttle flight as early as November 2001 where an X-37 is
carried into orbit and deployed so it can return to Earth.

	The Air Force would contribute funding to the X-37 to conduct
tests that would make the X-37, already similar to the Air Force's
proposed SMV, more like it.  This would include funding to test solar
arrays, attitude control systems, and sensors.  Armstrong said,
though, that potential applications are not driving the design of the
X-37; rather, the vehicle is testing technologies that might be used
in future reusable launch vehicles.

	However, tests of technology are not the only purposes
X-vehicles need to serve, USL's Sponable said.  Work also needs to be
done to test the operational aspects of vehicles to prove,
particularly to potential investors, that they can provide routine,
low-cost access.  A House authorization bill for NASA currently in
the works includes $160 million over three years for such "X-ops"
tests, although Sponable said that the first generation of RLVs will
"live or die" before those tests can be carried out.	

	Regulation of future RLV launches is also an issue, something
that was addressed by Manuel Vega of the FAA.  The FAA released days
before the conference proposed regulations for licensing the reentry
of RLVs.  The public comment period on those regulations has begun,
and Vega encourages the industry to provide feedback on the
regulations before the comment period ends July 21.

	Government loan guarantees, as proposed in legislation by
Senator John Breaux, also were discussed.  The guarantees are almost
universally opposed by launch vehicle companies outside of Lockheed
Martin.  One exception, though, is Space Access LLC.  Steve Wurst
noted that 20 percent of the loan guarantees would be set aside for
small businesses, which could be beneficial for companies like his.

	Tim Pleasant, a lawyer and professor at the University of
Phoenix, pointed out a major downside to companies that accept loan
guarantees.  If the company defaults, the government can step in and
claim all the assets of the company, including the RLVs themselves,
and then resell or operate them itself.  The bill, he concluded, is
"nobly intended but poorly carried out."

	It may be a moot point in the end, though, since the bill is
unlikely to leave the Senate's commerce committee.  Tim Kyger and
Henry Vanderbilt noted that the chairman of the committee, John
McCain, is running for President and is paying less time to committee
affairs.  Since no one else on the committee appears to care about
the bill, it is unlikely to be considered.

	Despite the problems and uncertainty in the market,
conference attendees are still very optimistic about the future, in
part because of the tremendous potential for new markets if low-cost
space access can be realized, including those not yet even
conceivable.  Trying to explain that future in space, noted Max
Hunter, would be like "trying to explain Hollywood to Queen

Jeff Foust is editor of SpaceViews.

                           *** Letters ***

                      The Case for Privatization

[Editor's Note: Letters can be sent to letters@spaceviews.com.]

	I beg to differ with Dian Hardison's viewpoint from the April
22 letters column (http://www.spaceviews.com/1999/04/letters3.html).
Since its 1991 peak, the space shuttle budget has dropped 29%, in
part because of the increasing responsibility that NASA has allowed
its contractor team (AW&ST, 4/26/99, p. L5). Over that same period,
the shuttle has also flown a higher sustained flight rate than at any
time in its history. The recent drop in flight rate is due to
critical payloads, ISS and Chandra, not being ready on time, not to
any problems with the space shuttle.

	Further privatization will result in more savings by
eliminating dual chains of management that create a "one man serving
two masters" syndrome at the worker-bee level, and by rewarding
results instead of effort on the part of the contractor. This is not
just a good deal for the taxpayers: it is vital to allow NASA to
refocus its energies on the exploration of the moon and Mars instead
of routine LEO operations. The government has made it fairly clear
that NASA's human spaceflight budget will not be increasing any time
soon. Therefore, the funding for any lunar/Mars efforts must come
from savings in the shuttle/ISS budget. Both programs will have to
operate leaner than they have ever done before. Based on past
performance, partial or total privatization of both programs is the
most promising means to this end.

Jorge Frank

	This has been the May 8, 1999, issue of SpaceViews.
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