Space: October 10, 1999


: The Lockheed Martin Atlas-IIAS and Boeing Delta-III satellite boosters have been on stand-down for over four months due to the failure of a Pratt & Whitney RL10 engine, used in the Centaur upper state of both boosters. After an exhaustive technical review, P&W said that the RL10 was ready and the Atlas-IIAS returned to flight on 23 Sept with a successful launch.--Stephen V Cole

NASA was embarrassed on 23 Sept when its Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft went behind Mars for an orbital insertion engine burn and never reappeared. It apparently was too close to the planet and with the speed lost in the orbit maneuver was caught by the atmosphere and suffered aerodynamic destruction. Having lost the $125 million mission, NASA is now trying to convince itself that it can perform the same surveys with later missions. The UFO industry, remembering the mysterious crash of a Russian probe to Mars years ago, were already cranking up stories of mysterious sightings and alien facilities on the red planet.--Stephen V Cole

Lifting satellites (and anything else) into orbit is going to get cheaper. Boeing and Lockheed are building new launchers (and bringing new designs on line) at a fast rate, Ariane is trying to reduce the cost of its boosters, and Sea Launch (using Russian/Ukrainian missiles) is just getting started. By 2005 the number of launchers produced each year will reach 150. Considering that the number of payloads looking for a booster has been about 30 per year and will climb to 40 by 2005, competition is going to be tough and prices should plummet.--Stephen V Cole



beggar Help Keep Us Online!

Yep, we have been forced to beg for your support. We want our readers to have a good experience while they are here. We avoid video ads and populating the pages with more than three ads unlike other sites, but this has a consequence for us -- lower revenues. We are bringing in a third of the revenue we brought in just a few years ago. We are not quite homeless yet, but we need your support to keep going. There are three ways you can help:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..

Drake appreciates any help you can give him.

Subscribe   Contribute   Close