Nova Scotia Site Selected for Cyclone 4M Launches

Cyclone 4M (Credit: MLS)

HALIFAX, NS – DNIPRO, Ukraine (MLS PR) — Maritime Launch Services (MLS) Ltd., established in Halifax, is pleased to announce it has committed to a launch site location following a study of prospective sites across North America. An exhaustive review was conducted which assessed 14 potential locations over the last year.The preferred site is located in the Guysborough Municipality near Canso and Hazel Hill in Nova Scotia, Canada and would host a commercial launch complex for the Cyclone 4M orbital launch vehicle from Ukraine. The criteria evaluated through the study included access to polar/sun synchronous orbit, very low population density, proximity to multimodal transportation, and interest from the community, province and government.

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It’s Showtime for Revamped Antares Booster

Antares vertical on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital ATK)
Antares vertical on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

The Antares booster set to lift off on Sunday evening is a re-engineered version of a launch vehicle that exploded spectacularly after launch nearly two years ago.

The key change is the replacement of two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-26 engines in the first stage with RD-181 engines produced by NPO Energomash of Russia. The new engines are powered by liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene.

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Sea Launch Could Be Coming Back

Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)
Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)

It looks as if the moribound Sea Launch company could have a new lease on life.

Majority owner Energia has scheduled a press conference with the S7 Group on Tuesday during the International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. The invitation promises a major announcement about the future of the long troubled venture.

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IMF: Ukraine Space Sector Possibly Suffered 80 Percent Revenue Loss

The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)
The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares (aka, Taurus II) rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

The International Monetary Fund estimates the Ukrainian space industry lost up to 80 percent of its revenues following the Russian invasion of the eastern part of the country.

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Ukraine Space Industry on Verge of Collapse

The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)
The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

I was just looking at the website for Yuzhmash, which is Ukraine’s principle producer of launch vehicles. I ran across the following letter to employees published on Oct. 10. It includes this rather prediction:

“Pivdenmash [Yuzhmash] is in deep financial crisis, the main factor which is a precipitous decline in production. The current crisis is not irreversible, but the situation is close to the point of no return.

“The actual bankruptcy of the enterprise will result in the loss of Ukraine’s status as a space power, failure of the obligations of the State to enter into international agreements, irreversible loss of proven technologies.”

This was four months ago. And by all accounts, matters have only gotten worse. The fighting eastern Ukraine has intensified. The government’s finances haven’t improved. And employees were given two-month unpaid leaves in late January. That came after many months of 3-day work weeks and partial pay.

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Russia Severing Ties With Ukraine on Dnepr, Zenit Launch Programs

Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)
Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)

Roscosmos officials made announcements this week that they would be suspending a joint program with Ukraine to launch Dnepr rockets and were no longer interested in buying Ukrainian Zenit boosters, deepening problems for that embattled nation’s space program and its struggling Yuzhmash factory.

Dneprs are converted SS-18 ballistic missiles that are converted into satellite launchers by Ukraine’s Yuzhmash launch vehicle manufacturer. The boosters are launched by the Moscow-based Moscow-based Kosmotras International Space Company, which is Russian-Ukrainian joint venture.

Russian media report three Dnepr launches scheduled this year will be carried out. However, The Moscow Times reports the future of the venture remains cloudy. It is possible the program will end, or Russia will convert the missiles to satellite launchers without Ukrainian participation.

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Ukrainian Space Workers Rally for Back Pay

The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)
The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

Interfax-Ukraine reports that workers at the A.M. Makarov Southern Machine-Building Plant (PA Yuzhmash) in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine held a rally to protest the lack of pay and work.

The workers build Zenit and Cyclone-4 boosters as well as the first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares launch vehicle and the fourth stage for Europe’s Vega rocket. They are also involved in Dnepr, a decommissioned ballistic missile that has been converted into a satellite launcher.

The report indicates that since last July, employees have been working only three days per week and are pay $200 to $300 only once or twice per month. There’s also been a lack of new orders for their products.

The company owes about $150 million in back salaries and other payments, according to the story.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, whose country is responsible for much of Ukraine’s misery, Tweeted the following:

rogozin_yuzhmash_tweet

Report: Angara-A5 Could Replace Zenit in Sea Launch

Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)
Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

Here’s some more news about Sea Launch via TASS:

Russia’s new heavy-lift Angara-A5 rocket may replace the Ukrainian Zenit rocket in the Sea Launch project, a source in the space and rocket sector told TASS on Wednesday.

The announcement was made at the recent board of directors meeting of the RKK Energia space corporation. “The documents have already been submitted to the United Rocket and Space Corporation,” the source said.

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Yuzhmash Signs Agreement with Dnepropetrovsk Regional State Government

Zenit launch
Zenit launch

Ukrainian rocket maker Yuzhmash has signed an agreement under which the Dnepropetrovsk Regional State will provide financial and organizational support to the company and protect against being taken over by Russian separatists.

The announcement came in a May 8 press release. Yuzhmash produces the following launch vehicles and stages:

  • Zenit — used by Sea Launch and Land Launch for communications satellites
  • Dnepr — Joint Ukrainian-Russian program that uses converted Soviet-era ballistic missile to launch satellites
  • Antares — first stage structure and tanks for Orbital Sciences’s launch vehicle
  • Vega — fourth stage for Europe’s small satellite launch vehicle
  • Cyclone-4 — Joint Ukrainian-Brazilian commercial satellite launcher with inaugural flight planned from Brazil in 2015.

The full press release is reproduced after the break.

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Putin Eyes Ukraine’s Space and Defense Industries

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian Federation was left with some key installations and capabilities in newly-independent nations. Kazakhstan had authority over the main launch facility at Baikonur, while Ukraine found itself in control of ballistic missile producer Yuzhmash, the Yuzhnoye bureau that designs Yuzhmash’s rockets, and a host of other defense companies.

Today, more than 50 Ukrainian arms factories turn out technologies that are vital for the nation’s tottering economy and the Russian military that now threatens to invade it. The factories are located in the southern and eastern portions of Ukraine, where Moscow-based separatists have wrestled control away from local authorities.

With the fate of these regions and companies still very much up for grabs, the outcome is of concern far beyond eastern Ukraine. Launch providers in the United States, Europe and Brazil are looking on with great concern and trepidation.

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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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Failure Prone Zenit Launch Vehicle Successfully Returns to Flight

zenit3slb
Land Launch Zenit booster

The problem-plagued Zenit launch vehicle returned to flight on Saturday with the successful launch of the Israeli Amos-4 communications satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The 3.5-ton satellite, which was built by Israel Aerospace Industries for Israeli operator Spacecom, will deliver Ka- and Ka-band communications to the portions of the Middle East, Russia and south and east Asia.

This is the first successful flight of the rocket since the failure of a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL on Feb. 1. The launch vehicle crashed into the Pacific Ocean shortly after take-off when its first stage failed, taking the Intelsat 27 satellite down with it.

The Zenit launch vehicle, which has a success rate of just over 85 percent, was originally intended for multiple uses. Four Zenits were attached to the core of the giant Energia launch system designed to lift the Buran space shuttle into orbit. Zenits were also designed to fly separately as a replacement for the Soyuz booster for manned flights and as a satellite launcher.

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Orbital’s COTS Effort is a Global Affair

Orbital_COTS_InternationalNASA 60-Day Commercial Crew Update

Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) of Dulles, Va., has engaged top aerospace organizations in the United States and from across the globe to help develop the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus cargo spacecraft for upcoming space station cargo resupply missions. This approach supports timely and cost effective development of their new commercial cargo transportation system and is consistent with the National Space Policy of the United States which has a goal to “expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities”.

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