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starship-design: FW: SpaceViews -- 1999 June 22

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Subject: SpaceViews -- 1999 June 22

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                            S P A C E V I E W S
                             Issue 1999.06.22
                                1999 June 22

*** News ***
	NASA May Cancel Two Planetary Missions
	ISS Orbital Maneuver Fails
	Layoffs at Rotary Rocket
	Another Mir Crew Planned for December
	NASA Launches QuikScat Satellite
	ESA Signs Mars Express Launch Contract
	Arianespace Plays Waiting Game with Satellite Companies
	Britain Seeks International Cooperation in Asteroid Search
	SpaceViews Event Horizon
	Other News

*** Book Reviews ***
	Back to the Moon
	Two Moon Art Books

			       *** News ***

		  NASA May Cancel Two Planetary Missions

	Proposed cuts that may trim up to $1 billion from NASA's 2000
budget could mean the end of two proposed planetary missions,
including a Mars lander, SpaceViews has learned.

	The Planetary Society has put out an alert claiming that two
proposed missions, the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander and the Space
Technology 4 (ST4) "Champollion" comet mission, will be canceled in
the near future by NASA.

	"NASA's budget is decreasing and funding for future space
science missions is in doubt, so apparently NASA is going to fix these
problems by canceling two missions that are proceeding on schedule and
within budget," The Planetary Society wrote in a alert.  "We strongly

	It's not clear why these two missions have reportedly been
selected with cancellation, since both are proceeding on schedule and
budget.  However, both missions have run into problems in the last

	Last summer mission planners elected to remove Athena, a large
rover originally planned to be included with the 2001 lander, because
of cost overruns and delays.  The rover was eventually replaced with
Marie Curie, a clone of the Sojourner rover that flew on Mars
Pathfinder, while Athena was delayed to the 2003 lander.

	Since then planning for the lander, which will feature a
number of educational projects as well as experiments oriented towards
future human missions to Mars, has proceeded smoothly.

	Earlier this year the ST4 mission team worked feverishly to
redesign the mission, which will land on the nucleus of comet Tempel 1
three years after a 2003 launch, after NASA threatened the New
Millennium Program mission with cancellation.

	The ST4 team at JPL did present a revised mission proposal
that combined orbiter and lander sections into a single spacecraft
that will land on the comet nucleus.  That mission proposal won
approval from NASA Headquarters officials in April.

	NASA's space science budget has been under pressure this year
because of delays with the launch of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory as
well as a separate servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope
needed this year to replace its failing gyros.

	NASA's proposed 2000 budget may be placed under additional
stress.  The Space Access Society reported June 18 that Congress will
maintain caps on the 2000 federal budget mandated by a
deficit-reduction plan, which could result in a cut of up to $1
billion in NASA's 2000 budget.

	The Clinton administration originally proposed a $13.6 billion
budget for NASA in 2000, less than $100 million below its 1999 budget.
A House authorization bill passed last month increased this amount
over a three-year period to $13.8 billion by 2002.

			ISS Orbital Maneuver Fails

	A orbital maneuver scheduled earlier this month to move the
International Space Station (ISS) away from a potentially dangerous
piece of orbital debris failed and left the station temporarily
without its guidance system.

	The maneuver was ultimately not needed, as ISS passed a safe
distance away from a Russian upper rocket stage, but the incident
raised concern among Russian and American officials about guidance and
control of the station.

	The Air Force Space Command notified NASA late last week that
a piece of orbital debris could pass within 1 km (0.6 mi.) of ISS
early Sunday, June 13.  Since this approach was too close for comfort,
NASA decided to maneuver the station away from the path of the debris.

	The maneuver was planned for late Saturday, June 12, and
commands were sent from Houston to Russian Mission Control in Korolev,
near Moscow, where commands are uplinked to ISS.  However, as sent to
ISS, the commands called for one of the thrusters on the Zarya module
to burn longer than allowed by the onboard computer system.  The
computer system on ISS thus decided to cancel the maneuver.

	ABC News reported that in addition to the canceled maneuver,
the whole guidance system on ISS shut down for 90 minutes -- nearly
one full orbit -- as a result.  This shutdown kept controllers from
doing any maneuvers to the station, a potentially hazardous situation.

	In the end, the maneuver turned out not to be necessary.  The
debris, thought by experts to be the rocket stage from the launch of
Cosmos 100, passed 7 km (4.3 mi.) from ISS.

	NASA officials explained that this was the first time such a
maneuver has been performed by ISS, and added that in the future such
an incident would be less of a problem since a crew on the station
could resolve the problem.  Nonetheless, American and Russian
officials plan to evaluate procedures for such maneuvers.

	"This is just the first of many opportunities to be humble,"
James Van Laak, deputy manager of space station operations, told ABC.
"I hope that everyone will keep in mind that were learning as fast as

			 Layoffs at Rotary Rocket

	Rotary Rocket Company, a startup firm privately developing a
reusable launch vehicle (RLV), has reportedly laid off a large
fraction of its work force because of funding problems.

	The news, first reported late Friday, June 18, has raised
questions among space activists about the actions, or inaction, NASA
has taken to support the private development of RLVs.

	Sources say Rotary Rocket has laid off most to all of its
employees not directly working on the prototype of its Roton RLV.  The
company will devote its remaining resources to complete the testing of
the Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV).

	Rotary has been testing the Roton ATV on the ground in
preparations for low-level atmospheric test flights.  Those tests had
been proceeding slowly, but Geoffrey Hughes, vice president for sales
and marketing at Rotary, told SpaceViews earlier this month that the
company had "more than enough funding" to complete the ATV testing.

	Hughes told SpaceViews on Monday, June 21 that an official
announcement about "managerial changes" would be made later in the
week.  He said the changes Rotary has made are "fairly major changes
for the better" that have been "taken in a different way than

	Rotary, which has raised $30 million of the $150 million the
company says it needs to build the first flight version of the Roton,
had been actively seeking additional investment in the company.  For
weeks the leading potential investor appeared to be British
businessman Richard Branson, head of the Virgin group of companies.
Company officials had publicly tried to downplay any possible
investment role Branson might have, although media in the US and
Britain played up reports of visits to Rotary Rocket's California
facilities by Branson this spring.

	The layoffs at Rotary have led some activists to speculate
that any deal for Branson to invest in Rotary fell through, and some
are pointing their fingers at NASA as a possible cause.

	Henry Vanderbilt, head of the Space Access Society (SAS),
noted that NASA administrator Dan Goldin was quoted in New Scientist
magazine last month as dismissing the Roton and other proposed private
RLVs as "system gimmicks to overcome the unbelievable lack of
technology that they have."

	"...[T]he New Scientist quote,... in the context of a story on
a possible Richard Branson investment on Rotary, looks to us far too
likely to have been a factor in Branson's presumed non-invest
decision," Vanderbilt concluded.

	"We cannot say for certain that recent NASA public positions
implicitly and explicitly advising against investment in Rotary and
other reusable launch startups were directly responsible for this turn
of events," Vanderbilt said.  "But they sure didn't help."

	Vanderbilt said a lack of any clarification of Goldin's
remarks, even after such requests by the SAS, was "inexcusable."  He
called for a "unambiguous repudiation of the totally unacceptable
anti-RLV startup investment advice" represented by Goldin's quote.

	       Report: Another Mir Crew Planned for December

	Russian will send a two-man crew to the Mir space station in
December to either prepare it for continued use or finalize plans to
deorbit it, the BBC reported Thursday, June 17.

	The BBC reported that Yuri Semionov, head of Energia, the
Russian company that operates Mir for the Russian Space Agency, said a
crew would be launched to Mir in December, four months after the
current crew leaves.

	The exact tasks the crew would undertake during the
apparently-brief stay on Mir are unclear.  It had been believed that
the current Mir crew would mothball the station prior to their
departure, so that it would be ready to be deorbited or put to use
should funding be found to continue operations.

	Any December docking would put to the test an upgraded
attitude-control computer that is planned to be installed on Mir
before the current crew leaves.  The current attitude computer on Mir
has failed several times, but the crew on Mir was able to bring it
back online and restore Mir's attitude.

	If the attitude system fails while Mir is unoccupied, the
station would lose attitude control and may start to tumble.  This
would make any docking difficult at best, and most likely impossible.

	Russian officials had announced earlier this month that Mir
would be left unoccupied after the current crew leaves in December,
marking the end of nearly 10 consecutive years of occupation of the
space station.  The station would remain in orbit, unmanned, until it
was deorbited over the Pacific Ocean in early 2000.

	The BBC report, which has not been verified by other news
agencies, did not specify the cost of the mission or who would be
paying for it.

		     NASA Launches QuikScat Satellite

	A Titan 2 booster successfully launched a NASA satellite
designed to study wind patterns over the oceans Saturday night, June
19, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

	The Titan 2, a refurbished ICBM, lifted off at 10:15 pm EDT
(0215 UT June 20) from Pad 4W at Vandenberg Air Force Base.  The
rocket successfully placed NASA's QuikScat (Quick Scatterometer)
spacecraft into polar orbit.

	QuikScat carries one instrument, called SeaWinds, designed to
measure the direction and speed of winds over the oceans.  The
instrument bounces radar signals off the ocean surface and measures
the signals that are returned, or "backscattered", to the spacecraft.
The backscatter varies according to the wave pattern on the ocean
surface, allowing scientists to infer the wind speed and direction at
the ocean surface.

	Scientists will be able to use this data to explore the
Earth's weather and climate, from the study of hurricanes and other
severe storms to monitoring the development of global weather systems
like El Niño.

	"Knowledge about which way the wind blows and how hard is it
blowing may seem simple, but this kind of information is actually a
critical tool in improved weather forecasting, early storm detection
and identifying subtle changes in global climate," said Ghassem Asrar,
NASA associate administrator for earth sciences.

	The QuikScat spacecraft was the first procured under an
"Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity".  This program allows for
the rapid development of spacecraft mission by selecting core systems
from a catalog provided by industry.  In this case the satellite
design was based on an existing commercial design by Ball Aerospace.
Total cost of the mission, including launch, was $93 million.

	The mission was rushed through after a similar NASA-built
scatterometer was lost when the spacecraft it was on, the Japanese
ADEOS earth-observing satellite, lost power in June 1997.

		  ESA Signs Mars Express Launch Contract

	The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a launch contract this
week with a French-Russian consortium for the launch next decade of
ESA's first Mars spacecraft.

	The agreement calls for the launch in June 2003 of the Mars
Express spacecraft on a Soyuz booster from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.  The
agreement was made between ESA and Starsem, a French-Russian company
that markets the Russian Soyuz rocket in the West.

	Mars Express will go into orbit around Mars six months after
launch, studying the planet from orbit with a suite of seven
instruments that will have an emphasis on mapping the planet and
looking for water.  Mars Express will also deploy a British lander,
Beagle 2.

	"I'm very happy to sign this contract with Starsem and to have
a launcher for Mars Express, the first European mission to the Red
Planet," said Roger Bonnet, ESA's director of science.

	The agreement comes one month after Mars Express received
final approval by the science ministers of ESA's member nations.
There had been some concern in past months that a tight ESA science
budget would squeeze out funding for the mission, but the budget
approved last month included enough money for the mission.

	Funding is not yet certain, however, for Beagle 2.  Funding
for the lander will come directly from Britain and not from ESA
sources, and to date the British government has not allocated the
final $40 million needed to build the lander.  However, with a British
commitment to spend over $100 million on a Earth-observing program,
Mars activists are hopeful that the additional funding for Beagle 2
can be found.

	The Mars Express launch will be the third ESA launch using a
Soyuz.  Two launches are planned in summer 2000 to launch the
constellation of four Cluster II solar science satellites.  All three
Soyuz launches will use the Fregat upper stage, based on the
propulsion system used to send the two Phobos spacecraft to Mars in
the late 1980s.

	  Arianespace Plays Waiting Game with Satellite Companies

	Arianespace, which has not launched a payload in two and a
half months, is unlikely to launch another until at least the end of
July as it waits for companies to deliver their satellites.

	These delays, caused by satellite and not launch vehicle
problems, could have an impact on the French company's bottom line,
which saw modest growth in 1998.

	Arianespace does not anticipate launching another Ariane 4
until late July at the earliest, when the K-TV direct broadcast
satellite for New Skies, a Dutch company, will be ready.  That launch,
originally planned for late April, was delayed when satellite
manufacturer Matra Marconi discovered problems with the spacecraft's
solar panels.

	Delays with other satellites have also pushed back the first
commercial launch of the heavy-lift Ariane 5 booster, originally
scheduled for early July.  No firm date has been set for that or any
other Ariane launch.

	There have been only two Ariane launches to date in 1999: the
February launch of British military and Arab commercial communications
satellites, and the early April launch of an Indian remote sensing

	Arianespace had originally planned to launch as many as 14
missions in 1999.  If launches start up again in late July as they
hope, the company believes it can still launch an additional 5-7
Ariane 4 and 3 Ariane 5 boosters by the end of the year, a pace that
would require up to two launches per month through the end of the

	"Faced with an unpredictable market, Arianespace offers three
key assets: flexibility, availability and anticipation," the company
said in a press release. "Arianespace is ready to increase its launch
rate starting end of July in order to compensate the important delays
in satellite delivery to French Guiana over the first semester."

	The delay could have a significant impact on Arianespace's
profits, which showed modest growth in 1998 according to figures
released June 16.  The company posted profits of 14 million euros
(US$14.6 million) on sales of $1.086 billion (US$1.13 billion) in
1998.  Profits were up 18.6% over 1997 and sales were up 8.6%.

	The company elected not to pay a dividend to shareholders so
that the money could be invested in future upgrades for the Ariane 5.

	Britain Seeks International Cooperation in Asteroid Search

	The British government would prefer to cooperate with other
nations to set up searches for near-Earth asteroids, rather than
establish its own program, the British science minister told
Parliament June 15.

	Speaking in the House of Lords, science minister Lord
Sainsbury of Turville told members that the preference of the
government would be to work with fellow European Space Agency
countries on any near-Earth object (NEO) detection programs.

	"The Government take the potential threat of impact by near
earth objects very seriously, but we regard it as an issue where a
common international approach is essential," Sainsbury said.

	Sainsbury was asked several times by members of the House of
Lords if it would be prudent for Britain to establish its own
"Spaceguard" program to search for NEOs, using such resources as the
Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.  On each occasion Sainsbury
declined to show support for such a British-only effort.

	"At the present moment, the Government have no plans to set up
a national spaceguard agency," he said, although a final decision
would wait until after the government reviewed reports from a recent
NEO conference in Italy. "Any additional work undertaken in the UK
must have benefit over and above that being taken internationally."

	The debate in the House of Lords comes three months after a
similar debate in the other branch of Parliament, the House of
Commons.  At that time, John Battle, the Minister for Energy and
Industry, told members the government would talk with British
astronomers and other experts on ways the UK could support NEO

	Since the March debate in the House of Commons, two asteroids
have been discovered on trajectories which have small but non-zero
probabilities of hitting the Earth next century.  Those discoveries
have intensified interest worldwide in continuing and expanding the
search for other NEOs.

	Sainsbury said the British government does not consider the
threat posed by NEOs to be a "trivial matter" but rather one that
calls for cooperation.  "Of all subjects which come before this House,
this is one in respect of which an international effort is the key,"
he said. "We shall play our part in that rather than acting

			 SpaceViews Event Horizon

June 23-24	First U.S. Space Tourism Conference, Washington, DC

June 24		Delta 2 launch of NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic
		 Explorer (FUSE) mission from Cape Canavwral, Florida
		 at 11:39 am EDT (1539 UT)

June 26		Proton launch of Russian Raduga comsat (and initial
		 flight of the Breeze-M upper stage) from Baikonur,

July 8		Delta 2 launch of four Globalstar satellites from Cape
		 Canaveral, Florida, at 5:17 am EDT (0917 UT)

July 15-16	Lunar Base Development Symposium, League City, TX

July 16 (NET)	Atlas 2A launch of the GOES-L weather satellite from
		 Cape Canaveral, Florida (under review)

August 12-15	Mars Society 1999 Conference, Boulder, CO

				Other News

Cosmonaut Record: Sunday, June 20 was just another day in space for
the crew of the Russian space station Mir. But for cosmonaut Sergei
Avdeyev, it was his 679th day in space ever, setting a new cumulative
record for most time spent in space.  Avdeyev broke the cumulative
mark of 678 days, 16 hours, and 35 minutes at 0256 UT June 20 (10:56
pm EDT June 19), previously held by cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov.
Polyakov sill holds the record for longest continuous space flight, at
438 days; Avdeyev, who has been on Mir since last August, will not
break that since he is due to return August 23.  Polyakov set the mark
with two previous six months stays on Mir in addition to the current

Proton Launch: A Russian Proton booster launched a European
communications satellite Thursday, June 17.  The Proton lifted off on
schedule at 9:49 pm EDT (0149 UT June 18) from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The Proton D-1-e and its Blok DM upper stage successfully placed the
Astra 1H satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.  The
satellite, operated by the Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES),
will be used to provide "broadband interactive applications to
low-cost user terminals."  The launch was the second commercial Proton
launch in a month; a Proton launched the Canadian Nimiq direct TV
satellite May 20.

U.S., Europe to Build Radio Observatory:  The United States and
Europe, and potentially other countries, will join together to build a
new radio telescope in Chile that promises to become one of the most
powerful in the world.  The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) will
consist of up to 64 12-meter (40-foot) radio antennas spread over an
area 10 km (16 mi.) across, capable of observing the sky at millimeter
and submillimeter wavelengths at very high resolutions.  The array of
telescopes will allow astronomers to make observations of everything
from the birthplaces of stars to distant galaxies created early in the
history of the universe, all at resolutions as sharp as 10
milliarcseonds, not currently possible with existing radio telescopes.
ALMA will begin with a three-year development phase, which will
include the construction of two prototype antennas.  Japan and Chile
have also expressed interest in joining the project.

Refurbished Telescope to Join Asteroid Hunt:  JPL announced plans June
21 to refurbish an existing telescope at California's Palomar
Observatory to turn it into a tool to search for near-Earth asteroids.
The 1.2-meter (48-inch) Oschin Schmidt camera telescope will get an
automated control system and electronic camera so that JPL's Near
Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) team can use the telescope in the
search for asteroids.  The telescope's larger aperture and wider field
of view should allow the NEAT team to discover more asteroids than
their current telescope, a 1-meter (39-inch) Air Force scope atop
Maui's Haleakala mountain.

Gemini Photos:  The first of the two 8.1-meter (319-inch) telescopes
of the Gemini project has returned extremely sharp images of Pluto and
its moon Charon.  The images, taken with an adaptive optics system
that compensates for the aberrations created by the Earth's
atmosphere, clearly resolved the two bodies as resolutions as sharp as
0.08 arcseconds.  The telescope, located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, has
not started regular science observations yet; its formal dedication is
scheduled for June 25-26.  A second, identical Gemini telescope is
under construction in Chile to observer southern skies.

			   *** Book Reviews ***
			       by Jeff Foust

Back to the Moon
by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.
Delacorte Press, 1999
hardcover, 448 pp.
IBN 0-385-33422-2

Buy this book at Amazon.com:

	It's not often that we review fiction books in SpaceViews; our
preference has long been for non-fiction books that explain what we do
(or don't) know about the universe, where we've been in space and
where and how we'll be going in the future.  However, Homer H. Hickam
Jr. is not an ordinary fiction writer and "Back to the Moon" is not an
ordinary piece of fiction.  The retired NASA engineer (and author of
"Rocket Boys", lated made into the movie "October Sky") has written a
compelling and realistic thriller full of shuttle and other

	"Back to the Moon" takes place a few years in the future, in a
world where a treaty is about to outlaw all fusion energy research.
One scientist has a test reactor that appears to show promise, but he
needs more helium-3 to show it can work.  Helium-3 is rare and
expensive on the Earth, but plentiful elsewhere, including the surface
of the Moon.  However, when an unmanned spacecraft designed to return
lunar soil samples is destroyed in a fire on Earth, its builder,
former NASA engineer Jack Medaris, finds an alternative way to obtain
soil samples, one that involves taking the shuttle Columbia on its
most incredible journey ever.  (We don't want to say too much more
about the plot of the book; that would spoil all the fun!)

	Like in nearly any thriller, the string of events in this book
seem mildly implausible, at the very least.  However, the technology
described in the book is not; Hickam based it on his own insider
knowledge of the space program as well as plans he knew for such
things as the ability to take a shuttle to the Moon.  The book is full
of technical jargon and descriptions, but there's also a fascinating
plot full of twists and turns up to the very end.  "Back to the Moon"
is a fun, interesting page-turner.

Apollo: An Eyewitness Account
by Alan Bean with Andrew Chaikin
Greenwich Workshop Press, 1998
hardcover, 176 pp., illus.
ISBN 0-86713-050-4

Buy this book at Amazon.com:

Full Moon
by Michael Light
Alfred A. Knopf, 1999
hardcover, 244 pp., illus.
ISBN 0-375-40634-4

Buy this book at Amazon.com:

	"Apollo: An Eyewitness Account" and "Full Moon" have some
basic similarities: both seek to provide new artistic perspectives on
our exploration of the Moon 30 years ago.  In addition, both are
oversized "coffee table" books that feature the writing of Andrew
Chaikin (of "A Man on the Moon" fame) in a supporting role. However,
each book goes about this in a different way: while Alan Bean paints
vistas of lunar exploration in "Apollo", Michael Light revisits the
archives of photos taken by the astronauts in "Full Moon".  Both are
equally successful.

	Bean, who was the LEM pilot on Apollo 12 and thus the fourth
man to walk on the Moon, had an interest in art dating back to before
he joined the astronaut corps, but didn't fully pursue it until after
he left NASA in 1981, when he chose painting as a way to communicate
his and other moonwalkers' experiences.  The subjects of his
paintings, done in a more impressionistic rather than realistic light,
run the gamut from the mundane (taking a core sample) to inspirational
(an astronaut raising his arms in victory in front of an American
flag) to fantasy (all three members of the Apollo 12 crew, including
command module pilot Dick Gordon, standing on the lunar surface.)  The
book includes dozens of color prints of these paintings, along with
commentary about Bean, Apollo 12, and painting.

	While Bean chose painting as his medium, photographer Michael
Light went into NASA's archives of thousands of photos from the Apollo
program.  Getting unprecedented access to the master rolls of film, he
rescanned the photos and selected over 100 to show in this book.  The
photos are far better than anything printed before, because of the
treatment Light provided: the sharpness, clarity, and colors are truly
incredible.  The photos are organized in an uncaptioned photo essay
that runs from liftoff through landing on the Moon to return to Earth;
a written essay by Chaikin follows along with further information
about the photos.

	Both "Apollo: An Eyewitness Account" and "Full Moon" provide a
useful visual look at the Apollo program that goes beyond the usual
set of photos used to illustrate the program.  Bean's art gives us a
glimpse of Apollo from the mind's eye of someone who went to the Moon;
Light's treatment of the Apollo photos gives us perhaps the best
images yet from the actual missions.  Both books carry fairly hefty
price tags, but if you're interested in the visual aspects of Apollo,
both books, particularly "Full Moon", are well worth it.

	This has been the June 22, 1999, issue of SpaceViews.
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