Space: November 23, 1999


: The Air Force is ready to take bids on a 15-year $1.5 billion Integrated Space Command and Control System (ISC2). This system, including new and existing satellites and ground systems, will fuse 40 different air, space, and missile defense command and information systems into one unified structure. Through it, commanders in the field will be able to see from one source all available information on the enemy; they currently have to integrate (often manually) data from various different networks. The greatest challenge will be to integrate the existing systems and keep them running while building the new system. There are not enough funds in the committed projections to get ISC2 beyond the 6th of its 15 years, but the Air Force plans to link the system to a missile defense network and to information and netcentric warfare, both of which have strong support in Congress. That should make the $100 million per year cost a virtually automatic part of the budget. Three teams are preparing to bid on the contract; they are: TRW, ITT, SAID, IBM, Harris, Oracle, and six sub-contractors. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, GTE, Wang, GenCorp, Microsoft, and Cicso Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, International Research, OAO, Schafer, CIBER, SM&A, Appleton, Veridian, Jaycor, and BCSi.--Stephen V Cole

Ukraine has agreed to sell three Tu-160 Blackjack bombers to a private US company that will use them as satellite launchers. Platforms International Corporation is now trying to raise the money to actually buy the aircraft. If it succeeds, it could be launching satellites within two years. According to their plans, a bomber would climb to 44,300 feet (13,500m) and, flying at Mach-1.7, launch a booster rocket carrying a satellite. This could place 1,100kg in orbit for a bargain price of well under $8,000 per kilogram.--Stephen V Cole


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