Sat-ND, 16.11.96

Sat-ND 96-11-16 - Satellite and Media News

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Hot Bird 2 - will it ever be launched?
There definitely is a unusual silence surrounding the launch of EUTELSAT
Hot Bird 2. Maybe all those delays are just too embarrassing for
International Launch Services... strange that one doesn't even find any
news agency reports. But anyway, here's what has happened over the last few
day. Marcello Berengo Gardin sent me the following eyewitness report. Thank
you very much!

I was at Cape Canaveral to attend the launch, and I just got back in Rome
this morning. Well, here's the story. 
The first launch attempt (on the afternoon of November 13) was cancelled
because of strong winds. At wind speeds of more than 23 mph, the Atlas
can't be rolled out of the tower, so ILS said "no go." The next day, when
weather forecasts were still pessimistic, Eutelsat nevertheless agreed to
try to launch. 
At T-180 min., ILS discovered an anomaly within the fuel start system of
the rocket, and said "no go" again. 
Another attempt to launch has been performed yesterday evening (I suppose
that the results were the same...) If the weather will be good, another
attempt will be made this evening and tomorrow. But according to forecasts,
it will get even worse over the next days.
The launch windows for the Atlas rocket with Hot Bird 2 on board are as
Nov. 16 - Open at 21.45 CET, closed at 23.19 CET (duration 1.34)
Nov. 17 - Open at 21.46 CET, closed at 23.19 CET (duration 1.33)
Nov. 18 - Open at 21.46 CET, closed at 23.20 CET (duration 1.34)
Nov. 19 - Open at 21.46 CET, closed at 23.19 CET (duration 1.33)

[NASA has relinquished all weekend launch dates for its space shuttle
Columbia. In return, it gains priority over the Atlas launch as from
Monday. In other words: It Hot Bird 2 doesn't go up this weekend, it won't
be launched before next Wednesday earliest -- weather conditions
permitting. -- Ed.]

USA 2, Russia 0
Russia lost its last up-to-date spy satellite, the daily newspaper Izvestia
reported. KOSMOS 2320, launched in September 1995, was able to take
pictures of objects as small as a foot (30 cm) in diameter.
The satellite actually exceeded its expected operational lifetime but
inevitably burnt when re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. Two attempts to
launch replacement satellites failed this year -- the last time probably on
June 20 when "A Soyuz-U booster rocket with a Kosmos military satellite ran
off the trajectory and failed to go out in space several seconds after
takeoff from Plesetsk" (Itar-Tass.)
Russia now has to rely on older KOSMOS satellites with a resolution of just
6 foot (1.8 m.) Instead of transmitting the pictures, they still drop
capsules with films. According to Izvestia, there is no chance of launching
replacement satellites soon -- Russia just can't afford them next year and
probably not even in 1998. Reportedly, the country is now considering
leasing a satellite from China. 
Last January, the defence ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda ran an article
that forecast what has happened now. What's more, it predicted the
country's early warning system could collapse by the end of the century.
Ground controllers managed to squeeze every bit of extra life out of the
satellites, keeping them operational up to three times as long as expected.
Krasnaya Zvezda quoted Anatoly Chesnokov, a satellite construction
engineer, as saying "If the state needs this equipment it should pay for
it. Otherwise we will have to get used to the idea of losing strategic
equality with the United States." 
This is what seems to have happened right now as the U.S. still have two
state-of-the-art spy satellites in orbit.

Copyright 1996 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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