Arianespace says may add launch slot in 2017 in wake of SpaceX, Proton issues

Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel contrasted his company’s deliberative — and higher-cost — approach to launch services to what he said was competitor SpaceX’s constant iteration. Reusable rockets? The argument for them is not yet persuasive, he said. Credit: SpaceNews file photo

PARIS — Europe’s Arianespace launch-service provider — the only one of the three principal commercial launch operators not grounded by rocket problems — might be able to add a supplemental heavy-lift Ariane 5 vehicle to its 2017 manifest if market conditions demand it, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said Sept. 8.

In an interview, Israel said the Evry, France-based company would finish this year with a seventh Ariane 5 campaign, not eight as originally planned. The company’s 2016 Ariane 5 manifest was upset by the non-availability of Japan’s DSN-1/Superbird-8 satellite, which was damaged en route to the launch site.

Israel said the company would be able to catch up on its backlog by early 2017 and was already planning seven Ariane 5 campaigns for the year. Earlier plans were to launch six Ariane 5 rockets in 2017.

“We are now looking to see whether we can add an eighth launch in the event an upper-berth passenger is available given the evolution of the market,” Israel said.

By “market evolution” Israel was referring to the Sept. 1 failure of competitor SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket during a static firing, and to the fact that Russia’s Proton rocket will be grounded until at least mid-November following a June anomaly.

The June event did not result in a mission failure, but was judged serious enough by Proton manufacturer Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow to suspend launches since then.

Ariane 6: Expendable and not ashamed of it

In a Sept. 7 interview with France Info radio, Israel reiterated his confidence  in what he portrayed as Arianespace’s more plodding, deliberative — and higher-cost — approach to launches when compared to SpaceX.

Arianespace does not want a reusable rocket for the moment, he said, because it’s not certain that reusability can reduce costs and maintain reliability. The Ariane 6 rocket, to operate starting in 2020, will not be reusable. The company also is wary of the Silicon Valley ethos that champions constant iteration, which he said has been a feature of Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX as well.

“We think that the more a launch resembles the preceding launch, the better we are for our customers because we remain in the ‘explored domain’ where everything is understood,” Israel said.

Unlike its two principal competitors, Arianespace’s Ariane 5 business model depends mainly on pairing lighter and heavier satellites for its launches.

The Evry, France-based company struggles in periods when the commercial market favors one or the other satellite model. For now, the stand-down of Falcon 9 and Proton could cause owners of heavier satellites to seek a slot on Ariane 5’s upper berth.

The rocket’s lower berth is reserved for the higher of the two spacecraft.

Building heavy-lift rockets is not like building automobiles. A manufacturer cannot react quickly to market opportunities created by a competitor’s failure.

Soyuz option for small telecom satellites

For very light telecommunications satellites, Arianespace has a second option, which it has not used so far, in the Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket. Operating from Europe’s equatorial Guiana Space Center on the northeast coast of South America, the Europeanized Soyuz can carry a satellite weighing around 3,300 kilograms, and perhaps a bit more, into geostationary-transfer orbit.

Israel stressed that whatever fresh capacity the company made available in 2017 would not provoke launch delays for customers that have already booked with Arianespace.

In his largely diplomatic remarks on SpaceX’s failure — “failures? Everyone has had them, including us,” he said — Israel sought to distinguish Arianespace from SpaceX’s corporate culture from that of Arianespace and its industrial contractors.

“It is very difficult to do innovate with each launch, increase launch cadence and avoid failure all at the same time,” Israel said.

Falcon 9 Full Thrust is a new vehicle; Ariane 5 was once, too

It is not clear how much near-term tinkering SpaceX plans for the current Falcon 9 Full Thrust vehicle, which has made only eight flights, all successful, since it was introduced in December 2015. Its first flight to geostationary transfer orbit was in March.

The June 2015 Falcon 9 failure was of the vehicle’s earlier version, since discontinued. The Sept. 1 failure, which destroyed the $200 million Amos-6 satellite owned by Spacecomm of Israel, was not during a launch but during a prelaunch test firing.

It is not yet clear whether that failure was due to ground support equipment, or the rocket, or some combination of the two. If the investigation points to a rocket issue, the Falcon 9 could be grounded for several months. It took nearly six months after the June 2015 failure for SpaceX to resume flights.

The Ariane 5 rocket was introduced in 1996 and suffered a spectacular low-altitude failure on its inaugural flight. A partial failure occurred in 1997, and still another in 2001 before a full failure in 2002. Since then the rocket has racked up 73 consecutive successes.

Looking back, European government and industry launch officials agree that it took nearly six years for them to fully stabilize the Ariane 5 launch system.

Xinwei and Spacecom working on an amended takeover deal after the SpaceX satellite explosion

Israel’s Space Communications Ltd and Beijing Xinwei Technology Group have given themselves 30 days to salvage a deal that was contingent on the launch of a satellite destroyed in an explosion last week. Xinwei agreed last month to buy Space Communications (Spacecom) for $285 million, pending the successful launch and operation of Spacecom’s $200 million Amos-6 communications satellite.

The launch had been due to take place on Saturday but the satellite was destroyed a few days earlier when a Falcon 9 rocket belonging Elon Musk’s SpaceX exploded during a routine test firing at Cape Canaveral in Florida. “Spacecom and the purchaser (Xinwei) will work during the 30 business days to examine an adjusted deal,” Spacecom said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Wednesday, adding that the satellite’s loss would be taken into consideration.

Spacecom said it would not negotiate with any other parties for the time being. Amos-6 was to be used by a number of clients, including Facebook and Eutelsat Communications which had leased the satellite’s broadband services to expand internet access in Africa. Both firms are now pursuing other options, the companies said in separate statements after Thursday’s accident.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Neither SpaceX, nor the FAA which is overseeing the investigation, have said how much damage the explosion caused at SpaceX’s primary launch site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Spacecom’s chief executive told Reuters this week that he would want to see “several safe flights” from SpaceX before using Musk’s space firm again to launch one of his company’s satellites.


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[ September 8, 2016 ] GSLV puts advanced Indian weather satellite in orbit Mission Reports

Updated at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) Sept. 8 after successful launch.

The GSLV lifted off at 1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT) Thursday. Credit: ISROThe GSLV lifted off at 1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT) Thursday. Credit: ISRO

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off Thursday with a meteorological observatory destined to track storms and tropical cyclones from a perch more than 22,000 miles above Earth.

The Insat 3DR spacecraft mounted aboard the GSLV carries color and infrared cameras to image storms day and night, and a sounder to collect temperature, humidity and ozone data in different layers of the atmosphere. The satellite will also relay observations from remote weather station and ocean buoys to forecast centers, and monitor for distress signals from ships, airplanes and others in need of rescue.

The GLSV Mk. 2 launcher lifted off at 1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India’s east coast, pitched on a trajectory over the Bay of Bengal and accelerated into an equator-hugging orbit with Insat 3DR.

Launch occurred at 4:50 p.m. India Standard Time, 40 minutes later than originally planned after the countdown ran into delays.

The 161-foot-tall (49-meter) rocket lit its four hydrazine-fueled Vikas strap-on engines at T-minus 4.8 seconds, then fired a core solid rocket motor as the countdown clock hits zero. The liquid-fueled booster engines and first stage generated up to 1.7 million pounds of thrust in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the flight, then separated simultaneously as the GSLV’s second stage engine ignited at a velocity of more than 5,300 mph (2.4 kilometers per second).

Engineers stationed at a control center near the launch site reported the GSLV’s metallic nose fairing jettisoned on time about four minutes after liftoff. The Vikas engine on GSLV’s second stage fired until about T+plus 4 minutes, 49 seconds. Then the rocket’s third stage engine, consuming a mix of cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, ignited moments later and produced more than 16,000 pounds of thrust for nearly 12 minutes, driving the launcher into orbit.

Thursday’s launch, known as GSLV-F05 by India’s space agency, marked the fourth time in the GSLV’s 10 flights that the rocket launched with an Indian-made cryogenic upper stage engine. It replaced hydrogen-burning engines India purchased from Russia for the GSLV’s early test flights.

The third stage powerplant switched off just shy of the mission’s 17-minute point in preparation for deployment of the 4,874-pound (2,211-kilogram) Insat 3DR spacecraft.

Controllers confirmed spacecraft separation seconds later, and one member of the launch declared flight a “grand success.”

“Today, we have achieved another landmark for our GSLV Mk. 2,” said A.S. Kiran Kumar, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization. “The first operational flight has taken our Insat 3DR operational weather monitoring satellite and put it in orbit.”

The Insat 3DR satellite before encapsulation inside the GSLV's payload fairing. Credit: ISROThe Insat 3DR satellite before encapsulation inside the GSLV’s payload fairing. Credit: ISRO

Officials said the rocket placed the Insat 3DR satellite into a “very accurate” geostationary transfer orbit, with a low point of 105 miles (170 kilometers) above Earth, just 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the preflight target. The GSLV aimed for an orbit with a high point of around 22,353 miles (35,975 kilometers, and the Insat 3DR satellite is within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of that altitude, according to K. Sivan, director of India’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, ISRO’s rocket development facility.

The three-stage rocket is the more powerful of India’s two satellite launchers, but its history has been clouded by launch failures. India’s launch team completed Thursday the third successful GSLV flight in a row after a series of failed launches punctuated by back-to-back losses in 2010.

GSLV flights resumed with smooth on-target launches in January 2014 and August 2015, which placed their satellite payloads into orbit “very accurately,” ISRO said.

Overall, the GSLV’s official record now stands at 6-for-10, including earlier variants with Russian hardware. That compares unfavorably with India’s smaller Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which has logged 35 straight successful launches.

The recent string of GSLV successes buoys hopes to launch India’s second robotic lunar mission — Chandrayaan 2 — in 2018 aboard a GSLV Mk.2 booster. Chandrayaan 2 will deliver an orbiter, lander and rover to the moon.

Indian officials considered Thursday’s flight an operational launch, after the two last missions were deemed test flights.

The Insat 3DR satellite extended its solar panels as planned shortly after its release from the GSLV upper stage, according to M. Annadurai, director of the ISRO satellite center.

An on-board propulsion system will raise the craft’s orbit to geosynchronous altitude in the next few weeks, where Insat 3DR’s speed will match the rate of Earth’s rotation. The new satellite will settle into an operational position at 74 degrees east longitude.

Insat 3DR’s imager can take pictures of cloud patterns and storm systems in six bands, ranging from visible to infrared wavelengths, allowing forecasters to track weather systems day and night, according to ISRO.

The camera will collect an image every 26 minutes, and will “provide information on various parameters, namely outgoing long-wave radiation, quantitative precipitation estimation, sea surface temperature, snow cover, cloud motion, winds, etc.,” ISRO said in an information brochure released ahead of Insat 3DR’s launch.

A sounder fixed on the Insat 3DR satellite will collect vertical profiles of atmospheric conditions every six hours over the Indian Ocean region, and every hour over selected parts of India itself, ISRO said.

The spacecraft is designed for a 10-year lifetime.

India’s next launch is scheduled from another pad at Sriharikota in late September, when a PSLV will fire into orbit with the country’s ScatSat 1 satellite designed to measure winds around the world, data that will help forecast track and predict tropical cyclones. The launch will also deliver to orbit three satellites for Algeria, and a pathfinder for a commercial high-resolution Earth observation satellite constellation planned by BlackSky, a company headquartered near Seattle.

India plans the first orbital launch of the heavier-duty GSLV Mk.3 rocket, featuring two large solid rocket boosters, a dual-engine first stage, and a bigger cryogenic upper stage engine, as soon as December. It follows a suborbital test launch in 2014.

“We are declaring the GSLV (Mk.2) as an operational vehicle with our own cryo stage, but we are to have a much bigger engine and stage in the form of GSLV Mk.3,” said S. Somanath, director of India’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Center. “We all wait for that to be qualified and to be launched this year.”

The GSLV Mk.3 will loft the GSAT 19E communications satellite on that mission. The next flight of the medium-class GSLV Mk.2 launcher is scheduled for March with the GSAT 9 communications satellite, officials said.

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ISRO satellite launch LIVE: INSAT-3DR launched into orbit, mission successful

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 8, 2016 5:19 pm

ISRO, ISRO launch, ISRO satellite launch, ISRO launch live, ISRO live video, Indian space research organisation, ISRO launch video, live updates ISRO launch ISRO satellite launch: GSLV-F05 being moved from Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad (ISRO photo)

The Indian Space Research Organisation on Thursday launched an advanced weather satellite called INSAT-3DR using the rocket GSLV-F05. The launch time was earlier scheduled at 4:10 pm but was later postponed to 4:50 pm.

The satellite INSAT 3DR, weighing 2,211 kg, has been put into a geo-transfer orbit by the rocket initially during lift off. The satellite has been taken to its designated geosynchronous orbit using its own propulsion systems.
INSAT 3DR has an operational life of eight years and is equipped with modern instruments to study weather patterns and to help in the surface-level search and rescue operations.

The launch of the GSLV-F05 was the tenth flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, designed to inject 2 to 2.5 ton class of satellites in geostationary orbits.

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INSAT-3DR successfully separated. Mission accomplished

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Cryogenic engine ignition confirmed

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Everything going on as expected till now

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GSLV-05 launched from the facility. Expected to be put into orbit after 1000 seconds

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Few seconds left for lift-off

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Vehicle is ready for a take-off. The launch is expected to take place at 4:50 pm.

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Live video of the GSLV-F05 launch. To view it on ISRO website, visit:

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As per reports, the launch is postponed by 40 minutes and may take place at 4:50 pm.

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Fully integrated GSLV-F05 coming out of the Vehicle Assembly Building

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Live telecast of satellite launch will be available on ISRO website and Doordarshan from 3:40 pm. The video will also be available in this story. Keep refreshing for live updates.

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The flight profile of GSLV-F05 provided by ISRO

UFO Sighting 2016: UFO attack on ISIS, SpaceX; Have aliens already invaded Earth?

The year 2016 can officially be announced as “The Years of the UFOs.” This is because there have been far more UFO sightings reported in 2016 than any other year, and some experts believe that aliens may have already invaded Earth, not for their own benefit, but to save the mankind.

By Dipannita | Sep 08, 2016 04:41 AM EDT

UFO Sighting 2016

UFO Sighting 2016 (Photo : Flickr)

The year 2016 can officially be announced as “The Years of the UFOs.” This is because there have been far more UFO sightings reported in 2016 than any other year, and some experts believe that aliens may have already invaded Earth, not for their own benefit, but to save the mankind.

According to recent reports, UFOs are believed to have attacked Islamic terrorist group ISIS. In a recently release series of photographs, flying saucer-shaped UFOs were seen launching an attack against the Jihadist camps in the Middle East, according to Enstarz.


The emergence of video footage and images showing UFOs attacking human shenanigans has created a wave of enthusiasm in groups of alien hunters and UFO advocated. There are numerous videos of aliens attacking ISIS available on the internet, raising the question whether aliens really want to prevent the human species against massive destruction.

However, none of the videos shows alien spaceships launching an attack against the West’s troops. Some believe that UFO videos amidst the Middle East crisis have surfaced because the region itself is influenced by a number of suspicious extra-terrestrial activities. The Middle East has the Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx that are thought to have extra-terrestrial influences.

The release of the footage has been receiving mixed reviews so far. Many skeptics have come forward with their criticism stating that CGI images have been superimposed on real war videos to create a hoax footage showing aliens attacking ISIS. On the other hand, UFO enthusiasts believe that the footage is real and the aliens have, indeed, established themselves on Earth to save mankind.

Recently, the explosion of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket also created ripples among UFO enthusiasts. Soon after the explosion, a video was released showing two bright objects passing in the background, just as SpaceX was about to launch, according to Health Aim. However, the rocket never launched because of a sudden explosion.

Now it is being claimed that lasers from an alien ship led to the explosion of SpaceX. UFO enthusiasts believe that the blast happened because of an “alien with a laser that destroyed the rocket,” leading to the loss of millions of dollars.

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European Space Agency opens solutions centre in Cork

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced they are establishing a centre in Cork.

The Space Solutions Centre will support Irish start-ups that use space technology in both terrestrial and space exploration contexts.

The centre is led by Tyndall National Institute in Cork in partnership with Athlone Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, and Irish Maritime and Energy Research Cluster.

Funded by the European Space Agency and Enterprise Ireland, it aims to support the application of technologies developed for space to solve challenges on Earth.

The centre is one of fourteen ESA BICs (ESA Business Incubation Centre) in Europe.

David Gibbons, manager of ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland, Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Franco Ongaro, ESA’s director of technical and quality management at the Tyndall National Institute, Cork | Image: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Each of the 25 start-ups that successfully apply to the centre will receive €50,000 in seed funding, along with technical assistance and opportunities to access other funding mechanisms.

The centre will also offer ten rounds of €40,000 funding to support technology transfer for established companies that want to develop demonstrators for new products and services using space technology.

Firms can work from any of the four host institutions.

David Gibbons, manager of ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast.

He is appealing to businesses to get in touch with them.

Applications for funding can be made here

Calls for government and private sector to co-operate for UAE space program

The government and the private sector must strengthen their working relationship if the UAE’s space programme is to be a success.

That was one of the factors that were outlined in the National Space Policy that was released earlier in the week.

Further details of the UAE Space Agency’s policy were released last night with the “aim of building a sustainable space sector in the UAE that supports and protects national interests and related vital industries”.

uae space program

The policy, according to the news agency WAM, also calls for the establishment of mutually beneficial international partnerships that adhere to international laws and treaties.

Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “The global space sector is experiencing significant growth and change, along with an increase in space applications and technology development.

“There has also been an increase in the number of states seeking to capitalise on outer space opportunities.”

Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, said: “The space agency will also contribute to enhancing the role of the sector in supporting initiatives and programmes related to security, politics, economics and social activities.”

The policy, according to the statement on WAM, will help to ensure the sector’s contribution to economic growth and diversification, as well as honing the skills of Emiratis to develop their scientific capabilities.

The policy was endorsed by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The project, according to the statement, will help cement the capacities “that have made the UAE occupy a leading regional position in the field of space activities, and also made it capable of contributing to space exploration”.

The statement also said that the policy “stems from the leadership’s vision to become a leading nation in space sciences and to reach Mars on the nation’s 50th anniversary”.