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.
UPDATE, 12/10/13: Space News is reporting the failure was caused by an unspecified malfunction in the rocket’s third stage. The vehicle’s builder, the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, is investigating.
The failure of a Long March 4B rocket has destroyed the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS-3).
“There was a malfunction of a launch vehicle during flight and hence satellite positioned in orbit has not been provided. Preliminary evaluations suggest that the CBERS-3 has returned to the planet,” according to a statement posted on the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) website.
Space 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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The state of Florida and emerging South American economic power Brazil spent the month of October strengthening their economic ties, with a particular focus on aerospace cooperation. The activities included an exchange of trade missions and the announcement that Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer will expand its operations in Melbourne, bringing 600 jobs to Florida’s hard-hit Space Coast.
The following stories are excerpted from Space Florida’s most recent newsletter.
Florida-Brazil Trade Mission Results in Business Development Leads
In early October, Space Florida President Frank DiBello had the opportunity to conduct a trade mission to Brazil, meeting with 20+ high-tech and aerospace executives that expressed interest in doing business in the United States. The mission was hosted by the Brazil-Florida Chamber of Commerce.
ACS PRs — The Brazilian Government has made a planned contribution of R$33,333,333 [$14,671,361] to the ACS capital. Transfer of these funds was authorized by the Presidential Decree dated 23.08.2013 and published on 26.08.2013 in the Diário Oficial da União, the official newspaper.
The Decree also mentioned the equivalent contribution of the Ukrainian Party realized by means of intergovernmental transfer.
The Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) has approved the State Scientific and Technical Space Program of Ukraine for the period of 2013-2017 and accepted for consideration the Draft Law on Financial Support of the Cyclone-4 Project Implementation.
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.”
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.
The first launch of the Ukrainian Cyclone 4 rocket from Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center, originally set for next year, has been delayed:
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Ukrainian counterpart Victor Yanukovich agreed Friday on a plan to launch a jointly developed satellite from the South American nation in 2014….
That partnership dates from 2003, when Brazil and Ukraine embarked on the Cyclone 4 Alcantara project, which involves developing a launch vehicle to put satellites into orbit from the Alcantara base in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhao.
The $588 million venture is part of Brazil’s drive to join the club of countries capable of launching satellites, now limited to the United States, Russia, China, France, India, Israel, Japan and Ukraine.
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.
KYIV, Ukraine, March 2, 2012 (Worldwide News Ukraine PR) — Ukrainian State Space Agency informed that in 2011 Ukraine joined China, the EU, Russia, and the USA becoming one of the top five space rocket launching countries in the world. Since 1991 Ukraine grew into a significant player in the field of space industry, having launched 125 rockets and delivered into orbit 238 satellites that belonged to 19 countries.
As of today Ukraine has launched its rockets from four space launch facilities across the globe. By 2013, the country will start using the fifth launching platform for rocket launches as a joint Ukrainian-Brazilian project Alcantara Cyclone Space will be complete. The binational project will provide a launching facility in one of the most advantageous locations on the planet.
McTier PR:Brazil and Ukraine have decided to deepen the strategic partnership and strengthen cooperation in the spheres of space and military science. This was discussed at the meeting of the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation in Brazil, Mercadante, with Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov.
Mercadante said the strategic cooperation in the space between the countries and expressed interest in signing the relevant contracts for 20-30 years with the possibility of private sector involvement.
In particular, he noted the prospects for bilateral cooperation in the Cyclone-4 project.
Ukraine Space Agency PR — The project “Cyclone-4 – Alcantara” is on schedule, the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych said in an interview with Ukrainian media in Sao Paulo.
“We now go on to the updated schedule, which developed in the last year,” said Victor Yushchenko. He added that the delay in project implementation has been linked to funding problems, press services report.
The head of state called the project profitable, and it will give the opportunity to develop the aerospace industry.
The President expressed confidence that the technologies used in Ukraine within the project “Cyclone-4 – Alcantara” can be used also in the national economy. “This technology, which we will gradually transfer to the national economy. This is the latest technology – something we very often do not have enough,” said Viktor Yanukovych.
In case you are wondering what Charlie Bolden is up to these days (and I know you are), the NASA chief is on a four-nation outreach visit to Latin America this week that is taking him to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica. The trip is apparently a follow-up to an earlier visit to the region by President Barack Obama, according to press reports.
On Monday, Bolden met with Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno in Santiago to discuss bilateral scientific cooperation and consulted with members of the Chilean Space Agency (ACE). Cooperative efforts discussed included programs to measure the movement of ice and to prevent geological hazards. The testing of Mars surface vehicles in the Atacama Desert was also on the agenda.
Moreno also thanked Bolden for NASA’s assistance in helping to rescue 33 trapped miners last year.
Bolden will be in Brazil on Thursday, where he will to sign a joint cooperative agreement on the Global Precipitation Measurements program that focuses on collecting international rainfall data.
The Gazeta do Povo reports on plans by the Dilma government to significantly increase space spending in Brazil, a boost that will allow for the launching of two new rockets:
The Brazilian Space Program will receive $ 2.1 billion federal investment over the next four years. Among the main goals are to launch four satellites and the construction of a rocket. Resources are provided in the Plan (PPA) from 2012-2015 and have the objective of restructuring the country’s space policy. Experts said the reorganization of the sector is strategic and can generate a leap of technological development in Brazil…In 2010, the budget was $ 300 million.