Frustrated over delays with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, DARPA is considering launching an innovative experimental satellite on India’s PSLV rocket, SpaceNewsreports.
Jeremy Palmer, program manager for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, told attendees at the Milsatcom USA conference that officials are hoping to launch the eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology (eXCITe) satellite during the second half of fiscal year 2018, i.e., from April to September 2018.
The eXCITe spacecraft consists of 14 small satlets aggregated together into a single payload weighing 155 kg. The satlets, which are supplied by NovaWurks, have autonomous capabilities and are capable of operating individually or being aggregated into larger, more capable satellites.
eXCITe was originally scheduled to fly as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. It would have been deployed from a Spaceflight-supplied Sherpa payload dispenser, which aggregates smaller secondary payloads.
However, repeated slips in SpaceX’s launch schedule required Spaceflight to seek alternative rides to space for payloads that would have been deployed by the Sherpa dispenser.
DARPA would need a U.S. government waiver to fly eXCITe on the PSLV. The government has been granting an increasing number of waivers to American satellite manufacturers who say there is a shortage of domestic launch opportunities.
U.S. launch companies have pushed back agains the waivers, saying India’s PSLV and GSLV launchers are subsidized by the nation’s space agency, ISRO. A number of U.S. companies are developing launch vehicles specifically aimed at the small satellite market, but none has yet made a succesful flight to orbit.
ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan has retired, ending his five-year tenure as head of India’s space agency on a high note following the successes of Mars Orbiter Mission and the inaugural launch of the GSLV Mark III rocket.
Indian media are reporting that Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry of the earth sciences, has been given the responsibility of running ISRO until a replacement for Radhakrishnan is named in about a month.
The resignation will allow Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who was elected in May, the opportunity to appoint a new chairman for the space agency.
Indian media report that Radhakrishnan’s term in office was supposed to expire in August, but he was given a four-month extension that allowed him to preside over the launch of the first GSLV Mark III rocket in December.
A trio of orbital launches by SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corporation and ISRO will kick off the new year during the week ahead. Scaled Composites is also scheduled to conduct the third powered flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo on Jan. 9.
A trio of orbital launches by SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corporation and ISRO will kick off the new year during the first week of January. Scaled Composites is also likely to conduct a third powered flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo by Jan. 10.
UPDATE: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch has been shifted to Tuesday evening.
China has kicked off a busy month with the successful launch of the Chang’e-8 lunar rover mission. There are 15 launches on the manifests of the world’s rocket companies in December. If all missions are completed and none are added, there will be 85 orbital launches for the year.
SpaceX is the next to go on Tuesday evening, with the company hoping its third attempt to launch the SES-8 communications satellite is a charm. The launch window opens at 5:41 p.m. EST, and SpaceX will webcast the attempt.
The company is hoping to get one more launch in by the end of 2013 on Dec. 20 with the Thaicom 6 satellite as the payload. Some other notable launches scheduled for December include:
Antares/Cygnus: Orbital Sciences first commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station (Dec. 17);
Soyuz 2-1v: The first flight of Russia’s “light” version of the venerable booster (Dec. 23);
GSLV/GSAT 14: India will make a re-flight of a cryogenic engine that failed to fire during its inaugural mission in April 2010 (TBD);
Long March 4B/CBERS 3: China will launch a Earth resources satellite jointly developed with Brazil (Dec. 10);
Atlas V/Delta IV: These two ULA military launches will bring the company’s total to 12 for the year (Dec. 5 & 12);
SCHEDULED LAUNCHES FOR DECEMBER 2013
AIST & Calibration Spheres
Long March 3B
Long March 4B
Long March 3B
Long March 4B
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The launch of GSLV-D5 (with Indian Cryogenic Stage), scheduled for 16:50 hrs on August 19, 2013, had to be called off due to a leak observed in the UH25 Fuel system of the Liquid Second Stage, during the last lap of the countdown.
At the time of calling off the Countdown, the GSLV Vehicle was loaded with 210 tons of liquid and cryogenic propellants. About 750 kg of UH25 Fuel had leaked out, leading to contamination of the area around the launch pad.
The quality control problems that have plagued India’s GSLV launch vehicle re-emerged on Monday as ISRO was forced to scrub a crucial launch after a fuel leak was discovered. ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan made the announcement:
“Leaky proponents observed in the second stage. We need to make an assessment of the cause of the leak in GSLV-D5 vehicle,” the ISRO chief said.
“We will announce a new date for the launch of GSLV- D5 satellite,”” he added, suggesting that getting the GLSV-D5 back on steam will take time.
The launch, which will place a communications satellite in orbit, is a major test of the nation’s domestically produced cryogenic third stage. The inaugural launch of the engine failed on April 15, 2010.
This would have been the first GSLV launch in nearly three years. The rocket put a satellite into the Bay of Bengal after going out of control on Christmas Day 2010.
The GSLV has been plagued by problems over the years. with two successes, one partial success and four failures since 2001.
If at first you don’t succeed, spend three years re-engineering and re-testing anything and everything and then try, try again.
That’s the story of ISRO’s experience with developing a cryogenic upper stage, an advanced technology mastered by only a handful of the world’s space powers. On August 19, the Indian space agency will launch its second domestically produced cryogenic stage, capping off a three-year effort to recover for its first failed attempt.
On April 15, 2010, the first and second stages of the GSLV rocket fired nominally. However, the cryogenic upper stage engine fired for only .5 seconds before the fuel pump failed. The premature cutoff sent the GSAT-4 spacecraft to a watery grave at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal.
Most rockets take about nine minutes to put their payloads into low Earth orbit, going from a dead stop on terra firma to 17,500 miles per hour.
In the case of India’s GSLV rocket, it takes several years longer. That’s the typical interval between launch attempts. You then have to add on a couple of more years to account for all of the GSLV’s launch failures. Of seven launches over nearly 12 years, India’s largest rocket has notched only two successes and one partial success. The last fully successful flight occurred in September 2004.
But, ISRO is, if nothing else,doggedly persistent. In April, the Indian space agency will attempt to launch a GSLV rocket fitted with its second domestically produced cryogenic upper stage. The launch will take place exactly three years after the turbo pump on the first homemade cryogenic engine malfunctioned, sending the GSAT-4 communications satellite into the Bay of Bengal. That failure came after 17 years of work on cryogenic technology.
ISRO officials are planning to commercialize parts of its space program and add a new launchpad as the space agency prepares for its 100th mission next week.
India’s workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which has completed 20 consecutively successful launches under the eagle eye of ISRO, is one such technology that the agency is hoping to hive off to private players. Today, about 80% of the vehicle is put together with parts supplied by the private industry. If K Radhakrishnan, the current chairman of ISRO and a manager trained at the Indian Institute of Management at Bangalore has his way, then the entire vehicle itself could well be made and launched by private players.
While the Chinese celebrate the launch of a three-member crew to the Tiangong-1 space station, two former chairman of India’s space agency ISRO are looking on with both admiration and regret. As China’s program has moved slowly but steadily forward, India’s plans for human space missions have slipped from around 2016 into the early to mid-2020s.
India’s top space scientists praised China’s maiden mission of manned docking of its space lab even as New Delhi’s own human space flight programme seems to have lost momentum.
“It’s a wonderful thing that has happened,” ex-Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, U R Rao told PTI here. “Essentially, they are making sure that they are going ahead systematically with manned mission programme”. …
He said India has not started any manned mission programme at all. “We have to have much larger and much more powerful launch vehicle,” Rao said.