Status Report

France in Space #241

By SpaceRef Editor
June 23, 2003
Filed under ,


Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is in talks with Europe’s Arianespace
and Boeing of the United States over an alliance in the satellite launch
business, a Mitsubishi spokesman said Monday. “It is true that we are
negotiating,” Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman Hiroyuki Yamakado said. The three
rival firms are negotiating details of a scheme that would allow them to
make rockets available to each other for their customers’ convenience, the
official said without elaborating further. Until now, the launch contractor
has provided a replacement when it fails in a rocket launch, causing a delay
and trouble for customers. The rockets to be covered by the scheme would be
the H2-A built by Mitsubishi, Ariane-5 by the European consortium and
Boeing’s Sea-Launch. The client company of any one of the three would be
able to switch to a back-up rocket to be launched by either of the other
two. The mutual backup option will not be available to government customers.
“Each company will do their own marketing – their own pricing,” one official
said, adding that the three will still compete against each other on
contracts. [AFP Press Release 06/16/2003 Space News 06/16/2003]


The French Procurement Agency (DGA) announced the launch of new research
programs based on space demonstrators and intended to maintain competences
considered to be strategic in this field. “The goal is to make equipment
significant enough to remove any concerns that some may have in cooperating
with us”, as stated DGA manager Yves Gleizes. These new programs include
three space demonstrators for a total investment of 300 million Euros in
additional research efforts (100 million Euros per unit). DGA will launch an
early warning demonstrator, intended to support an anti-ballistic missile
defense capacity. This system is scheduled to be operational by 2010. DGA
also works on an ESSAIM monitoring demonstrator that is intended to enable
the detection of transmitters from space using micro-satellites to be
launched along with the observation satellite Helios 2A by the end of 2004.
This program was awarded to Astrium, Thales and CNES (French Space Agency).
The third program is for an airborne laser optic link. The goal is to
demonstrate the technological feasibility of an optic link between a
satellite and an airplane. [AFP Press Release 06/17/2003]


After Koreasat V ((cf France In Space #240 Article 5), Alcatel Space has won
two more contracts: a 150 million US dollar contract for the construction of
Rascom, the first panafrican telecommunication satellite and a new 190
million US dollar contract with the Brazilian satellite operator Star One
for the construction and the in-orbit delivery of the telecommunications
satellite Star One C1 for Latin America. Based on Alcatel Space Spacebus
3000B3 platform, Star One C1 will be launched by the end of 2005 by Ariane 5
and will be positioned at 65? West. Star One C1 will replace the Brasilsat
B2 satellite in the C band and will provide South America with high speed
Internet and multimedia capacity. Alcatel wants to boost its activities in
the defense industry. The telecommunications group focuses on the
development of network centric warfare systems, a market worth 800 million
Euros a year. For this, Alcatel works jointly with Thales, which explains
why Alcatel will remain in Thales’ capital. Alcatel is in favor of creating
an entity that would include European satellite operators if Alcatel does
more than just being a financial partner (cf France In Space #239 Article
2). [La Tribune 06/17/2003 Alcatel Space Press Release 06/17/2003 Les Echos


Preparations for the European Soyuz mission on the International Space
Station (ISS) next October took another step forward with the docking of an
unmanned Progress M1-10 spacecraft with the International Space Station,
bringing European experiment equipment on board. Whilst on the ISS,
cosmonaut Pedro Duque from Spain will carry out a number of physical
science, human physiology, biology and education experiments. NANOSLAB is an
experiment concerning zeolites (crystal formations). PROMISS-2 aims to
understand the fundamental processes of protein crystallization. APIS is an
experiment aiming to show the difference in the motion of a body rotating
about its centre of gravity when its mass is distributed differently. Thebas
is an experiment to test basic principles of mechanics and Video-2, which
has been uploaded to the ISS to demonstrate Newton’s three laws of motion
under microgravity conditions. This last experiment will be recorded, the
aim of this being to fit in with the basic physics curriculum for the 12-18
year age group. [ESA Press Release 06/16/2003]


In early June 2003, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) programme reached a
milestone in successfully passing the Critical Design Review (CDR) during
which some 140 international space experts expressed their full confidence
in the design of the vehicle after analysing 55 000 pages of technical
documentation. Over the past three and a half months, around 40 engineers
from the RSC Energia, 25 from NASA and over 50 from ESA (European Space
Agency), CNES (French Space Agency) and Arianespace conducted a full review
of the ATV programme and did not find anything wrong which would require a
change in the design. The purpose of the review was to assess and certify
that the ATV design and operations concept meets the requirements for
performance, reliability, and safety. The ATV project manager, Robert LainÈ,
compared the CDR process to sieving through the complete programme to find
possible bugs. “The members of these external panels raised some good
questions,” said LainÈ. “Such as asking how the ATV could depart if the ISS
was in a critical attitude, or if the ATV should have an extra software
backup for re-entry. These remarks are very beneficial, because they help us
to think about solutions to possible problems before flying”. The successful
conclusion of the review is important for the ATV programme since 90% of the
flight hardware is already built and the final assembly process started. Any
design change would have significantly impacted the scheduled launch of
Jules Verne set for September 2004. “The ATV is on a tight schedule with
many challenges ahead. It’s scheduled to fly in September 2004, but the team
is well prepared and the design is ready to go into final build”, said Bill
Gerstenmaier, the International Space Station Programme Manager at NASA who
came to ESA’s European Space and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The
Netherlands, on June 4th to attend the final CDR board meeting. [ESA Press Release 06/17/2003]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The appointment of Rainer Grohe, as Director of the Galileo Joint
Undertaking (JU), marks a further key step forward for Galileo, the first
civil global satellite navigation programme. This means that the JU can now
proceed with the various steps towards setting up the Galileo network. Two
centres will be set up in Europe to control satellite operations and manage
the navigation system. [ESA Press Release 06/17/2003]
Paradigm Secure Communications (PSC), a company owned by EADS (European
Aeronautic Defense and Space Company), has reached an agreement with the
British Ministry of Defense in relation to the terms and conditions of the
Skynet 5 programme and service provision. The Skynet 5 programme entails PSC
delivering secure global military satellite communications to the UK armed
forces in the form of a service provision contract worth approximately £2
billion over two decades. [EADS Press Release 06/16/2003]
Thailand awarded Spot Image a contract worth 600,000 Euros, including
450,000 funded by France, as part of the cooperation between France and
Thailand in the war against drug trafficking. The French company will equip
a satellite technology transfer center based in Chiang Mai. Images to be
provided will allow identifying poppy crops, even when hidden in cornfields. [La Lettre de l’Expansion 06/16/2003]

Arianespace staff should be cut from 350 down to 250 employees in 2004. [AFP
Press Release 06/16/2003]

The European-Russian company Starsem reinforces its privileged relationship
with the European Space Agency with the signature of the Venus Express
launch services agreement. The launch of Venus Express will take place in
November 2005 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz launch
vehicle will send the spacecraft on its way towards our nearest planetary
neighbor. After 150 days in space, the probe will be located in polar orbit
to study the atmosphere, the surface and the environment of Venus during 2
Venusian’s years. (450 terrestrial’s days). [AFP Press Release, Starsem Press Release 06/17/2003]

[From AFP Press Release, Alcatel Press Release, EADS Press Release, Les
Echos, ESA Press Release, La Lettre de l’Expansion, Space News, Starsem
Press Release, La Tribune]

France In Space is a weekly synthesis of French space activities based on
French press. Its content does not reflect an official position of the
French Government or CNES. It is provided by the CNES office and the Office
of Science and Technology of the French Embassy in Washington D.C
Editors: Vincent Sabathier, Thibaut Girard – Translator: World Traduction

France In Space is available online at
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SpaceRef staff editor.