Cyclone-4 Development Not Affected by Ukraine Turmoil

Cyclone-4 first and second stages. (Credit: Alcantara Cyclone Space)
Cyclone-4 first and second stages. (Credit: Alcantara Cyclone Space)

Cyclone-4 Project Status Update
Via Alcantara Cyclone Space

The current events in Ukraine have not impacted the Cyclone-4 Project development. Currently, the Launch Vehicle development is progressing as scheduled, and it will be ready for delivery to Alcantara in the second half of 2015.

Cyclone-4 payload fairing separation test. (Credit: Alcantara Cyclone Space)
Cyclone-4 payload fairing separation test. (Credit: Alcantara Cyclone Space)

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Ukraine’s 2013 Year in Space Review

zenit_launch
Zenit launch from Baikonur

Ukraine had a mixed record in space in 2013. While the Dnepr rocket returned to service with a pair of successful launches after a two-year gap, one of two Zenit boosters ended up in a watery grave after it failed shortly after launch.

Ukrainian companies had better luck as a components supplier. Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares — which boasts a Ukrainian-supplied first stage — racked up two flawless flights. Meanwhile, the European Vega booster made a second successful flight with a Ukrainian fourth stage on board.

Meanwhile, a joint partnership with Brazil to launch the Cylcone-4 rocket from South America made progress even as it suffered additional schedule delays that have pushed back the maiden flight into 2015.

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Ukraine Looks to Extend Space Cooperation with U.S., China

Ukraine_logoSpace News has an extensive Q&A with Yuriy Boyko, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for Ecology, Natural Resources, Energy and Space. The interview primarily focuses on the nation’s space program, its joint Cyclone 4 launch vehicle program with Brazil, and its efforts to increase cooperation with the United States and China.

Some of the highlights:

  • Ukraine’s main launch vehicles include Zenit (Sea Launch, Land Launch), Dnepr (joint program with Russia), Cyclone 4 (joint program with Brazil), and the first stage structure for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares.
  • Ukraine spends between $400 million and $500 million on its space program mostly for science work, but receives about $600 million annually in revenues from commercial work;
  • Brazil and Ukraine have committed $1.5 million (split equally) over a three-year period to Cyclone 4, which should have its first test flight from the Alcantara Launch Center by early 2015;
  • The partners hope that South American countries with satellite programs will flock to the Alcantara facility on Brazil’s Atlantic coast;
  • The upper stage developed for the Cyclone 4 could be a good fit for the Antares rocket;
  • Boyko recently completed consultations with NASA and U.S. commercial space companies concerning cooperative programs, with the two governments establishing a framework for further cooperation;
  • There are no specific cooperative programs to announce yet between Ukraine and American government and private entities;
  • Ukraine would like to become involved in the International Space Station program;
  • Boyko says that Ukrainian specialists have extensive experience with radiation shielding technology, which could help the United States with human Mars and deep space missions;
  • Ukraine is consulting with China, which is very interested in developing large propulsion systems.

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Cyclone-4 Launch From Brazil Slips into 2015

The construction of the Cyclone-4 assembly and test facility. (Credit: HCA)
The construction of the Cyclone-4 assembly and test facility. (Credit: HCA)

Aviation Week reports the decade-long effort to launch Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket from Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center is going to take a little longer.

The inaugural flight has now slipped into late 2015 at the earliest, adding to what has already been years of delay. Meanwhile, costs of building the launch complex have nearly doubled and are approaching $1 billion.

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Brazil’s Cyclone-4 Project Hits Another Snag as Workers Laid Off

Ukraine's Cyclone rocket
Ukraine’s Cyclone rocket

Brazil’s decade-long quest to bring Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket to the Alcantara Launch Center is reported to have hit another snag, this time due to financial problems at the Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS) company. The Jorno do Brasil reports (via Google Translate):

According to sources close to the Alcantara Space Base, where the program is developed in the country, about two thousand [workers] contracted by ACS were discharged in the last two months. The scenery in this place is abandoned, as shown in photos uploaded to the Official Brazil. Most equipment has been rented and returned those remaining on the base are abandoned in the open air without any maintenance, according to the same sources….

Complaints received by the Journal of Brazil also relate to the subject of the work stoppage. According to the sources, to dismiss officials, heads of departments claimed that “it [layoffs] is happening because the company [ACS] has not paid the contractors.”

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Ukraine to Brazil: Come Up With More Money for Cyclone-4 Program

Ukraine's Cyclone rocket
Ukraine’s Cyclone rocket

A press release from the Ukrainian government:

Ukraine has called on Brazil to find financing in order to continue realization of the Cyclone-4 project.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil Antonio Patriota.

“An objectively successful project of our cooperation appears the Cyclone-4 Alcantara. The reliable realization of this project will contribute to increasing the authority of both your and our countries. In this complex situation the Government of Ukraine has approved a decision: for realization of this project to draw credit resources. We hope that the Brazilian side would use every opportunity to continue financing of their part of the project,” he said.

The release provides no details on precisely how much more Ukraine expects Brazil to put into the joint project, which began in 2002 with an expected first flight in 2006. The program has not launched a single rocket while suffering numerous delays and financial shortfalls. The maiden flight is now scheduled for sometime in 2014.

The launch vehicle is an enhanced version of the Soviet-era Cyclone-3 launch vehicle. It is designed to launch from Brazil’s Alcantara Space Center, which is located near the equator.

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Brazil Scales Back Launch Vehicle Plans

vls1_on_pad_2
By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Brazil has come out with a new strategic plan to guide its space efforts through 2021 that involves a significant change in its effort to develop a domestic satellite launch industry.

Brazil has scaled back an ambitious Southern Cross development program to focus on a series of smaller launch vehicles that appear to rely more on home-grown technology. The country also has forged a cooperative arrangement with Germany to develop a dedicated micro-satellite launch vehicle. Meanwhile, Brazil is continuing work on launching Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket from the Alcantara Launch Center in 2014.
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Brazil Briefs: Budget Figures, VLS Progress and Indian Cooperation

Some updates on the Brazilian space program:

  • Officials have budgeted $2.2 billion over the next three years for the nation’s space program, according to press reports. The largest chunk of the funds will go toward efforts to launch Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket from Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center. The inaugural flight is currently scheduled for late 2013. Another key priority is the CBERS-3 environmental satellite that Brazil is developing with China.
  • On March 29, engineers conducted the second test on the separation of the four drives of the first stage of the new VLS-1 rocket, a small satellite booster set to make its inaugural flight later this year. “Measurements were made of mechanical shock, vibration, almost static, distortion, simultaneous separation of the four drivers of the first stage, displacement, and the cover photo and video (HD and high speed),” according a press statement.
  • Brazil and India have agreed to strengthen cooperation in “such as remote sensing, data sharing and weather,” according to a joint communique issued after a summit between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “Brazil reiterated the desire to receive satellite images from Indian ResourceSat-2, given the successful cooperation in receiving data from an in-ResourceSat Ground Station Cuiabá. With regard to IBSA Satellite Project, the two leaders expressed their great interest in working together for the success of the program. A technical meeting is to be held in Bangalore in 2012.”
  • The two leaders also agreed to Indian cooperate in Brazil’s Science Without Borders program, under which the South American country seeks to educate 75,000 students abroad. The cooperation will involve an exchange of students and educators between the two nations and other educational activities.

 

High-Level Argentine Delegation to Visit Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center

By José Monserrat Filho
Head of International Cooperation Cooperation
Brazilian Space Agency (AEB)

On Thursday, March 15, a high-level delegation of Argentina will visit the Alcantara Launch Center (CLA) in Maranhao, considered one of the most privileged of the world space launch insurance, economic and competitive.

The tour meets at the invitation, in 2011, then President of the Brazilian Space Agency, Marco Antonio Raupp, now Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry on cooperation between the two countries for the peaceful uses of outer space.

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Brazil Sends Students to Study Rocketry in Ukraine

Editor’s Note: Brazil took a small, but significant, step this month in building up its domestic space capability by sending 10 aerospace engineering students to study in Ukraine.

The two nations are working on a joint project to launch the Ukrainian Cyclone-4 rocket from Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center.

The foreign exchange program is part of a much larger national program, Science Without Borders, that aims to educate scientists, engineers, technicians and others overseas to build up Brazil’s technical capabilities and competitiveness.

A report from the Brazilian Space Agency on the aerospace education exchange follows after the break.

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VLS-1 Launch Complex Readied at Alcantara

IAE PR — System Platform Release VLS-1 (SISPLAT) is nearing completion at the Alcantara Launch Center (CLA). The panels are already physically installed, the installed lighting, cameras installed Closed Circuit TV system, air conditioning and pressurization installed, Detection and Alarm Fire Fighting in the final stage, a protection system against lightning strikes in the final stage. According to the schedule of the Consortium JARAGUÁ / LAVITTA, will start next October to start tweaking and testing the installation of the automation system.

These activities will take place until late December or early January 2012. Concluded this phase is planned to integrate the mock-up (MIR), to receive the final piece in the months of March and April. This integration is only possible in March because it is the same mock-up that is in separation tests.

Ukraine Defense Minister Guarantees $250 Million for Joint Rocket Effort

Ukraine's Cyclone rocket

Brazilian Ministry of Defense PR — On a visit to the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, Defense Minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Yezhel Bronislavovych, said today that Ukraine is transferring its part of investment in Alcântara Cyclone Space (ACS), a binational company created to market business services from rocket and satellite Maranhão.

“We have the resources of U.S. $250 million to be invested from October. We are also open to transfer technology to a new satellite launcher, the Cyclone 5, which will be produced jointly with Brazil,” he said.

The Brazilian Defense Minister, Celso Amorim, said that ACS is a strategic project for Brazil.

“Most of the program is under the control of the Brazilian Space Agency, the Defense Ministry has only a small share, but the promised contribution is excellent news, which bodes well for technological cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

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Alcântara: The Spaceport of the Future?

Charles de Gaulle -- not one of Brazil's biggest fans.

“Brazil is the country of the future…and always will be.”

So wryly observed Charles de Gaulle decades ago, marveling at how South America’s largest country, blessed with enormous resources and an industrious population, was forever failing to live up to enormous potential.

Brazil seems to be on the verge of ending that cycle. Economic and political reforms of the past decade have put the nation firmly on the path to becoming a regional and global power. During the next five years, Brazil will shine on the global stage as it hosts two of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Summer Olympics and the soccer World Cup.

And yet amid the optimism, the nation’s future is clouded by a lack of trained workers, a critical shortage of investments in key areas, and an often disorganized government. Nowhere are these shortcomings more apparent than in the nation’s space program and, in particular, its efforts to turn its sleepy Alcântara Launch Center into a world-class spaceport.

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