United Launch Alliance (ULA) managers have concluded that there is no risk to their Atlas V vehicle for the March 9 launch of STP-1, following investigations into the commonality issue between their Lockheed Martin rocket and the failure of Sea Launch’s Zenit 3SL vehicle carrying NSS-8 on January 30.
Meanwhile, Sea Launch have lost one of their previously manifested launches, with the next-generation SPACEWAY 3 satellite now riding on an Ariane 5.
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**Atlas V – STP-1 Live Update pages**
The ULA launch from Cape Canaveral is a six satellite mission to be carried by the Atlas V. The US Air Force’s Space Test Program-1 (STP-1) will include MidSTAR 1, FalconSat 3, STPSat 1, CFESat, Astro (Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter) and NextSat.
The Atlas V uses a RD-180 core stage engine, while the Zenit 3SL utilizes the RD-171, which share commonality via their manufacturer in Russia, NPO Energomash, leading to the initial grounding of the Atlas V.
The launch – which will also debut ESPA ring payload adaptor – has been delayed since its initial launch date back in October, but fears that Atlas could suffer an additional delay of many months following the Sea Launch failure have now been dismissed.
The investigation will continue, focusing on the exact cause of the failure, which Sea Launch have been silent on since the start of last month. However, Sea Launch president Rob Peckham recently raised hopes that their return to flight will take place this year, with a projection of two launches in 2007.
Initially, five launches were set to take place in 2007, and the fallout of the failure has seen one customer switch to a major rival of Sea Launch, with Hughes Network Systems, LCC moving to Arianespace as the launch provider for their SPACEWAY 3 satellite.
The Ariane 5 heavy launcher will launch SPACEWAY 3 into geosynchronous transfer orbit from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch date is projected for August 2007.
‘This is a very exciting time for Hughes,’ said Pradman Kaul, chairman and CEO of Hughes. ‘With the launch of SPACEWAY 3, Hughes will enter a new era as a satellite system operator, augmenting our market leadership in delivering broadband satellite services worldwide. We are confident that Arianespace will provide a reliable launch service and eagerly anticipate providing new, value- added solutions to our customers in the coming months.’
The SPACEWAY 3 satellite is the first in the world to switch and route broadband traffic on board, enabling single-hop communications between satellite terminals, eliminating the requirement for traffic to be routed through a central hub earth station.
The SPACEWAY 3 satellite’s advanced antenna technology allows the dynamic formation and shaping of spot beams, enabling the flexible management of capacity and delivery of true bandwidth- on-demand services. The satellite will operate in the globally assigned Ka-band spectrum and will deliver a wide range of new high-speed communications services for IP data and multimedia applications to North American enterprise, consumer, and government customers.
‘Arianespace considers it a great honor to have been selected by the world’s largest satellite broadband company, Hughes, to place the SPACEWAY 3 satellite into orbit,’ said Arianespace CEO, Jean-Yves Le Gall. ‘Arianespace’s SPACEWAY 3 mission for Hughes will launch robust new broadband communications services delivered via satellite.’
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