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.”


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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Russian, Ukrainian Rockets Prone to Failure in Recent Years

Another fine day for Russia's space program. A Proton crashes with three GLONASS satellites.
Another fine day for Russia’s space program. A Proton crashes with three GLONASS satellites.

The spectacular crash of Russia’s Proton rocket on Tuesday — with the loss of three navigation satellites — was simply the latest in a series of launch failures that have bedeviled the Russian and Ukrainian space industries over the last 30 months.

The table below shows a tale of woe that began in December 2010 and has resulted in the loss of 15 spacecraft and cost the heads of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and launch vehicle builder Khrunichev their jobs.




Upper Stage




Dec. 5, 2010ProtonBlock-DM3 GLONASS satellitesCrashed in Pacific OceanBlock-DM overfilled with fuel making it too heavy to send satellites into orbit
Feb. 1, 2011RockotBreeze-KMGEO-IK 2Stranded in useless orbitFailed restart of Breeze-KM
Aug. 18, 2011ProtonBreeze-MExpress-AM4Stranded in useless orbitBreeze-M under performance
Aug. 24, 2011Soyuz-UBlock-I (3rd stage)Progress M-12M freighterBurned up over SiberiaBlocked fuel line in third stage
Sept. 27, 2011ICBM
(Possibly Avangard)
Missile failed during initial test, crashed 5 miles from launch siteFailure of first stage
Nov. 9, 2011Zenit-2SB
Fregat (Russia)Phobos-Grunt (Russia)Stranded in Earth orbit, re-entered atmosphereFregat upper stage failure
Dec. 23, 2011Soyuz-2.1bFregatMeridian-5Re-entered over SiberiaFailure of Block-1 third stage engine
Aug. 23, 2012ProtonBreeze-MTelkom 3 (Indonesia), Express MD2Satellites stranded in useless orbits;  Breeze-M later exploded, creating large debris fieldBreeze-M failure
Dec. 8, 2012ProtonBreeze-MYamal-402Placed satellite in wrong orbit; satellite reached planned orbit using on-board propellantEarly shutdown of Breeze-M
Jan. 15, 2013RockotBreeze-KM3 Strela 3M Rodnik satellitesOne satellite reportedly lost, two others placed in orbit; controllers unable to maneuver upper stage to lower orbit for rapid re-entry into Earth’s atmosphereErratic behavior of Breeze-KM
Feb. 1, 2013Zenit-3SL
Block DM-SL (Russia)Intelsat 27Rocket and satellite fell into the seaFirst stage failure
July 2, 2013ProtonBreeze-M3 GLONASS SatellitesCrashed at launch siteFirst stage failure


Ukrainian Parliament Approves Five-Year, $316 Million Space Program

Ukraine_logoKIEV, Ukraine (Ukrainian Space Agency PR) — On May 21, 2013, the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament] of Ukraine has adopted the draft law, “On Ratification of the National Trust for Science and Technology Space Program for 2013-2017.”

Funding for the program is 2.58 billion hryvnia ($316 million), including the state budget – 1.12 billion hryvnia ($137.2 million).


Yuzhnoye, Special Aerospace Services Sign U.S. Teaming Agreement

special_aerospace_servicesBOULDER, CO (SAS PR) — Special Aerospace Services, a leader in aerospace systems engineering solutions, announced on April 10, 2013, that it has signed a teaming agreement with Ukrainian-based hardware and aerospace technology manufacturer, Yuzhnoye SDO. The teaming agreement will provide Ukrainian rocket engine technology, systems, and services to the U.S. market.


Ukraine Approves $14 Million Space Action Plan

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted the decree, “On approval of the action plan for the development of space activities and the production of space technology in 2013” (hereinafter – the Regulation) on October 17, 2012.

The purpose of the adoption of the Order – the solution of urgent problems of space activities in 2013, the continuation of the projects started in previous years and the implementation of the initial phases of the work under the draft national targeted science and technology space program for 2013-2017, which is approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

The indicative total budget funding for the implementation of the action plan is 114 million hryvnia [$13.95 million].


First Cyclone 4 Launch Slips into 2014

Ukraine’s Cyclone rocket

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.

Read the full story.

Soyuz Light Rocket Undergoes Bench Test as Plesetsk Prepares for Angara

Soyuz-2-1c undergoing testing. (Credit: TsSKB-Progress)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Two Russian companies moved forward over the past week on development of a pair of new launch vehicles. TsSKB-Progress conducted a major test of the new light-class Soyuz-2-1c booster while Khrunichev shipped Angara components to the Plesetsk spaceport for testing.

TsSKB-Progress completed a cold bench test on the first stage of the new booster on June 22. reports that the three-day test “reportedly rehearsed all processing and fueling procedures with the rocket all the way up to the liftoff command. It involved loading of 33.8 tons of kerosene fuel and 85.2 tons of liquid oxygen oxidizer onboard the first stage of the Soyuz-1 vehicle. The second cold test cleared the way to the test firing of the rocket’s propulsion system, which at the time was preliminary scheduled for August.”


Ukraine Celebrates 50 Years in Space

Ukraine recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first satellite launch into space. On March 16, 1962, the Cosmos-2 rocket lifted off with the Cosmos-1 satellite aboard. Both the rocket and the spacecraft were developed by the Ukrainian-based Special Design Office 586 (OKB 586), now known as Yuzhnoye SDO.

In addition to the Cosmos family of rockets, Yuzhnoye’s other launch vehicles include the Zenit rockets flown by Land Launch and Sea Launch, the Dnepr ballistic missiles used to launch small satellites, the Cyclone-4 boosters set to make begin flights out of Alcantara in Brazil next year, and the first stage tanks and structure for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s new Antares rocket that will lift off from Virginia later this year. The company also provides an upper stage for Europe’s new Vega launcher.

Ukraine’s contributions to space are often overlooked, and this anniversary went largely unnoticed outside of that nation. So,  I thought it would be nice to give the Ukrainians their due. I found an account of the launch prepared by the good folks at the Yuzhnoye press office. It begins after the break.


Ukraine’s 5-Year Space Plan Focuses on Public-Private Partnerships, Commercial Activities

UKRAINE SPACE AGENCY PR — At a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers February 15, 2012 approved the Concept of national targeted scientific and technical space program for 2013-2017 (hereinafter – the Program).

The concept defined the problem to be solved by directed program, an analysis of its causes, is the objective of the Programme on the basis of comparative analysis, the optimal solution of the problem and solve it, given the expected results of the program, as well as approximate the necessary financial resources.


Ukraine Sees Uptick in Space Sales as Sea Launch Returns to Flight

UKRAINE SPACE AGENCY PR — On January 27, 2011 at Ukrinform, the President of Ukraine HCA YSА Alexeyev held a press conference on the results of the space industry in 2011. Alexeyev said that last year the enterprises of the industry produced and sold products worth almost 3.4 billion UAH., Which is about 1.6 times more than in 2010. In general, the industry completed in 2011 with a net profit amounting to UAH 76.7 million.

Among the major achievements of President of Ukraine HCA said the successful August 17, 2011 launch of domestic spacecraft remote sensing, “Sich-2” on the “Dnepr”. At the present time has received more than 600 pictures of Earth’s surface.On this basis, the HCA Ukrainian specialists performed the first case the task of monitoring the clearing of forests, monitoring of germination of winter crops in different regions of Ukraine and monitoring of emergency situations.


Ukraine Ranks in Top 5 for Space Launches

Ukrainian Zenit rocket launch.

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.


Ukraine’s Space Agency Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Ukrainian Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)

UKRAINE SPACE AGENCY PR — On February 28, 2012 in the UNIA “Ukrinform” held a press conference on the 20th anniversary of the National Space Agency of Ukraine with the participation of the President of the National Space Agency of Ukraine, Hero of Ukraine Yuri Sergeyevich Alekseyev, and the first director of the National Space Agency of Ukraine, member of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Academician Vladimir Pavlovich Horbulin.

National Space Agency of Ukraine was established February 29, 1992 by Presidential Decree of LM Kravchuk. This has allowed Ukraine to begin forming their own state policy in the exploration and use of outer space.


Officials Eye New Upper Stage for Vega Rocket

Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2012)

Despite committing almost $1.5 billion to developing and flight testing its newest launch vehicle, Vega, Europe will spend even more money to upgrade the rocket.

European officials are eying the developing of a new German fourth stage to replace a Ukrainian-built RD-868 engine that was used on Vega’s successful inaugural flight on Monday. It’s not clear how much the new engine would cost.


Dragon Launch Slips to April as Musk Eyes SpaceX IPO

SpaceX’s launch of the first Dragon flight to the International Space Station has been delayed a month into late April, the company announced in a statement.

“The primary driver for the schedule continues to be the need to conduct extensive software testing,” SpaceX said. “This is a challenging mission and we intend to take every necessary precaution in order to improve the likelihood of success.”

Meanwhile, SpaceX founder Elon Musk says that the rocket company could make its initial public offering (IPO) of stock in 2013:

“There’s a good chance that SpaceX goes public next year,” Musk, 40, said yesterday in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, without elaborating.