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Space

Astra 1K Communications Satellite now Space Junk 246

Posted by michael
from the watch-out-below dept.
bachelor#3 writes "Astra 1K, which was to replace 3 other satellites, didn't make it. Launch services were being provided by International Launch Services. Here's a timeline, from T-minus 30 minutes onwards."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Astra 1K Communications Satellite now Space Junk

Comments Filter:
  • Alcatel. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguin_punk (66721) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:08PM (#4764447) Journal
    Seeing as it was made by Alcatel Space and Alcatel just axed another 10,000 jobs yesterday (or the day before?) Do you think it was a sign? I'm just a conspiracy nut.

    (ddaadaataaday! wee! look at me, I'm waiting for my 2-minute-filter to wear! ladeedaa)
  • "No Danger" (Score:3, Funny)

    by redfiche (621966) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:13PM (#4764476) Journal
    Quoting from the article:

    "Both the satellite and the booster will after a while fall back to Earth. Both will burn with maybe small bits reaching the Earth's surface, depending on what materials the satellite was made of," Kreidenko said. "But there is no danger."

    Just how sure are they that there is no danger? I'd rather not be hit by a 200mph pebble of debris...

    • Re:"No Danger" (Score:4, Informative)

      by MacAndrew (463832) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:45PM (#4764631) Homepage
      I think the "pebbles" terminal velocity would be a lot less than 200 mph. Indeed, the old story about pennies cracking the sidewalk around the Empire State Building turns out to be UL. Here [urbanlegends.com] is an account of objects falling with and without air.

      But a perversely arrow-shaped piece of debris that did not tumble, that could be bad news. Then you just have to rely on statistics.

      Trivia: the Shuttle SRB casing fall at about 350 MPH without parachutes, and 50 MPH with. Hey, I was curious....
      • I find the concept of URbanlegends.com pretty amusing.

        Think about it:
        "I'm not going to believe that information thats floating around on the internet because this other place on the internet says it's not true." heh.

        If you but a spin along the edge of a pennt and drop it edge wise, it won't tumble. in the circumstance, it will put a serious hurt on someone.
        How much spin? a lot, but I don't feel like doing the math.

    • Terminal velocity for whatever debris is leftover will not be that fast.. the odds of you being hit by it are extremely low.. the odds of you being seriously hurt if you were are even lower.
  • Iridium (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gary Franczyk (7387) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:13PM (#4764482)
    Thats nothing! Compare that to Iridium, which had 66 satellites that became space junk shortly after being launched. :-)
    • Re:Iridium (Score:5, Informative)

      by jfroot (455025) <darmok@tanagra.ca> on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:20PM (#4764525) Homepage
      Iridium is alive.. in fact I have an Iridium sat phone (Motorola 9505) sitting on my desk right now that I use to call our people who are away on ops. With Iridium it is much cheaper to call phone-phone. Landline LD to an Iridium phone is abour $10/min. whereas Iridium to Iridium is about $1/min.
      • With Iridium it is much cheaper to call phone-phone. Landline LD to an Iridium phone is abour $10/min. whereas Iridium to Iridium is about $1/min.

        With 10-10-220 [1010220.com], you could talk up to 20 minutes, anywhere in the U.S. and to Canada for just 99. I'm sure Iridium serve some purpose, but not for city slickers. ;)
    • by Rareul (537940) <[rareul] [at] [o ... otherfucker.com]> on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:39PM (#4764609) Homepage
      These are applicable statistics taken from: faa.gov [faa.gov]

      Table 5. Lifetime Vehicle Reliability Rates

      Vehicle-----Launch Attempts----Reliability
      Atlas 1 & 2------49---------------95.9%
      Delta 2----------73---------------98.6%
      Delta 3-----------1----------------0.0%
      Ariane 4---------81---------------96.3%
      Ariane 5----------2---------------50.0%
      Proton----------254---------------89.4%
      Soyuz-----------958---------------99.3%
      Long March-------54---------------90.7%

      (Source: STAR Database, October 14, 1998)

      ?sp
      • by MacAndrew (463832)
        I'm interested in the statistical projections for shuttle failures. The figure I've heard for catastrophic failure -- loss of vehicle and crew -- is around 1-in-300. Of course, lesser but nonetheless dramatic failures of the Apollo 13 sort are also a possibility. Finally, the shuttle fleet is getting old, and being a reusable craft the duty cycles might bring unpleasant surprises. Here's [awse.com] a recent article that made the rounds. (note the silver lining noted by the welder :)

        If/when there is a failure, will the statisticians go, "Yup, that's about what we expected?" If the shuttle beats or falls short of its reliability prediction, does that make it a good or bad craft? I'm talking about perceptions here, not objectivity. It's a lot easier to be sober about failures of unmanned rockets.

        It looks like we'll be talking seriously about what's going to replace the shuttle in just a few years. This could be good or bad for reliability -- while we've learned a lot, we have to admire the track record of the boring old Soyuz.
        • Well, STS113 is up in space [space.com] now, so they launched around 113 shuttles, of which one catastrophic failure. So I'd say they're getting more than 99% right now. Better than all except the soyuz, but AFAIK those aren't launched with people on board each time.
          • The number of mission is a bit fewer, less than 100; the missions are out of sequence and have some cancellations.

            Anyway, the reliability-to-date is not the right number. As those Wall Street types are always saying, "Past performance does not guarantee future returns." The shuttle could just be having a run of luck, with the odds of an accident on any given flight much higher.

            About the numbers [geocities.com]
      • 1998.... isn't there a newer one?
        (note, this is not a flame, just a question)
        • The space agencies are quite reluctant to talk about failures and statistics, unless it looks very good. There is a good reason for that.

          Launchers come in versions. After any failure, things are studied and problems corrected. 'Ariane 4.0beta' is much more likely to fail than 'Ariane 4.6.22' The newest lauchers (like 'Ariane 5.0beta' in that table) have much more undiscovered problems. After these are weeded out, the new ones are much better.

          Looking at the failure rates of last 100 launches would make Proton look much better. Looking at the newer half of launches would make Ariane 5 look much better. Today, Ariane 4 has something like 60 subsequent succesful launches, but Ariane 5 is considered so much better that Ariane 4 will soon be phased out. (Or is it already?)

          The well-understood 'workhorse' launchers with dozens of lauches, like Soyuz, Proton or Ariane 4 will probably have similar figures in newer reports. ESA Annual report for 2000 is the latest I've seen, and it gives a success rate of 97.3% for Ariane 4.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:15PM (#4764488)
    Every time we stick something up there in space (yes, this one didn't even make it that far), we put another obstacle in orbit for future generations to evade in their spaceshots. Likewise, we are detracting from the natural beauty of the skies by putting reflective crap like this up there.

    When future generations look at the stars, do we want them to dream about soaring like gods to other planets, or do we want them to think that space is just a place we put all of our shit?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:23PM (#4764538)
      Dude you are a freakin dumbass.

      Space is a LOT bigger than earth. Like 10 times bigger or something... at LEAST!
      • He's talking about the very real problem of too much junk in orbit. It's already a very real problem, with several collisions having already occured, and the more crap we shove into orbit, the sooner the next collosion will occur.

        Haven't you heard the famous "A fleck of paint can cause serious damage when it's moving fast enough" bit before?
        • A fleck of paint can cause serious damage when it's moving fast enough

          Have you heard of this thing called the asteroid belt? It's full of 'paint flecks'.

          I'm not advocating people leaving nuclear powered satelites to crash over on populated areas, but the parents post about not seeing stars is just ludicrous. A satelite at most shines like a small star. We need to put up WAAAAY more satelites before we're not able to see the real stars anymore. Like billions of satelites.

    • by Siriaan (615378) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:32PM (#4764574)
      You see, it goes like this: Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.
    • They'll bring them down with lasers easily, or something better. The problem is the killing of species on earth and the pollution that's getting everywhere (pollution in every sense of the world not just smog, let vegetation, contaminated water, soil without nutrients or plainly poisoned, deserts).
  • WooHOo (Score:5, Funny)

    by esac17 (201752) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:15PM (#4764491)
    MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Russia has failed to put a five-tonne European communications satellite properly into orbit and it will now circle uselessly until it eventually falls back to Earth, space officials said.

    Nice, does that mean we will have another chance at free tacos from taco bell! ??
  • by Snoopy77 (229731) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:16PM (#4764495) Homepage
    would help us all know why this is so important to the /. community

    The French-made Astra satellite is the world's biggest communications satellite, with antennae spanning 37 metres. It was due to be used for radio and television broadcasts as well as for mobile telephone and Internet services in western Europe.
  • by Mister_Personality (578435) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:17PM (#4764503)
    If this was done by the same folks who handle the "Rich Bastards Go To Space" missions I am more then willing to contribute to Lance Bass ticket. Either that or my tasteless, N'Synch loving kid. Makes no difference which of them ends up stranded in orbit awaiting a painful reentry just so long as SOMEONE MAKES IT STOP! Anyone else have a buck to spare to ease my plight?
    • But, so to save the lives of otherwise innocent cosmonauts, let's just shove all of them in the capsule by themselves... AFAIK the Soyuz are rather automated, and it's not like they'd be going anywhere but back down!
  • It's obviod that the Russians aren't proud of this, nor would the US be if it happened to them.

    What I am now wondering is how anyone found out about this, and discovered the finer details. It seems that Russia have done alot of things in secret, in the space race of the 60s for instance. The US has also had it's fair share of foul-ups (Hubble, anyone?). How often could this sort of thing be happening, and more importantly, how much is it costing?

    There are many charitable places for money to go on Earth.

    • Re:Secretivity... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Skater (41976) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:29PM (#4764562) Homepage Journal
      Hubble was at least fixable. What about Challenger and the whole unit conversion fiasco? Those were much worse problems--at least we could do something about Hubble and not waste the money getting it up there.

      It's sad to see so much money and effort put into these satellites, only to have something go wrong and have it all for naught. It's too bad there isn't some way to recover the satellite or push it into its intended orbit. (I wonder what insurance policies are like on satellites, if they're even available.)

      On the other hand, we have to remember that nothing is perfect in human endeavors. When this happens, the best we can do is learn from our mistakes and then move on. Certainly NASA is more careful about O-rings than they used to be.

      --RJ
      • anyone find a cost on the 1k sat ? Surely it was ensured, but by whom and for how much.
      • Why does this remind me of fsck?
      • (I wonder what insurance policies are like on satellites, if they're even available.)

        You can get satellite and launch insurance. I don't know what the terms are like, but I imagine that premium is fairly high. You can insure almost anything these days, it will just cost you.

      • Hubble was designed to be fixable. However, that in itself means a great cost. If you add up the cost of the service missions plus the extra costs in the original design, you find that you could launch a series of non-servicable Hubbles instead.
    • > What I am now wondering is how anyone found out about this, and discovered the finer details.

      SES, the company that would have operated the satellite, and Astra, the company that built the satellite, are normal western companies. International Launch Services markets the Proton launch vehicle, which is made by a Russian company and launched out of Kazakhstan. SES is a major client of International Launch Services.

      Why wouldn't ILS divulge as much information as it could about this unfortunate incident? If that was your satellite, wouldn't you pound the table to make sure that you got the inside data?

      Sheesh, this isn't the 60's, with shifty Russians lying to the west....
    • What I am now wondering is how anyone found out about this, and discovered the finer details. It seems that Russia have done alot of things in secret, in the space race of the 60s for instance. The US has also had it's fair share of foul-ups (Hubble, anyone?). How often could this sort of thing be happening, and more importantly, how much is it costing?

      International regulations insist that anything that achieves orbit is given some form of designation. So we have a pretty good idea how how much stuff is up there.

      The Soviets used a catch-all Kosmos designation for most of their failures. There are well over 2000 satellites in the Kosmos series, but this was complicated in that some Kosmos missions were genuine science, military or test vehicles, whilst others were probes and satellites that didn't get where they were meant to go.

      To make things more complicated, the Soviets would often say that a Kosmos probe had completed its mission - even if had been DOA. Which made working out exactly what was working and what wasn't a complete nightmare for the West. No doubt the Kremlin loved these sorts of games.

      To take just one example a 1964 Venus probe should have become a member of the Venera series; but it instead became the relatively anonymous Kosmos 27 after it failed to escape Earth orbit.

      Once a probe was on its way out of orbit the Soviets usually then assigned it a proper mission name, although they complicated things by often using more than one name - so Zond (probe) was sometimes substituted for Mars or Venera!

      Anything that failed to climb into orbit was usually not assigned a name and in Soviet days was rarely mentioned - just look at how successfully they covered up the N1 Moon rocket until after the collapse of Communism.

      Nowadays the Russians are much more open, even to the extent of confirming military launches.

      As for the cost? Who knows, so much of space expenditure is military I doubt we will ever find out. The Soviet programme was a crippling expense for their government and foolish attempts to match the Shuttle using the (admittedly far superior) Buran were one of the reasons for the final collapse of Communism.

      Best wishes,
      Mike.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This makes more sense if you read it from the bottom up

    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2002
    0600 GMT (1:00 a.m. EST)

    International Launch Services has released the following statement:

    International Launch Services regrets the failure of today's mission to put the ASTRA 1K satellite into proper orbit for SES-ASTRA.

    The Proton K rocket, built by Khrunichev, lifted off on time at 4:04 a.m. today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (6:04 p.m. Monday EST, 2304 Monday GMT). All three stages of the Proton vehicle performed normally. The Block DM upper stage, built by RSC Energia, performed its first burn as planned and reached a circular parking orbit of 175.5 km (109 miles). Preliminary flight information indicates that the second burn of the Block DM upper stage did not occur as planned, and the ASTRA 1K satellite was separated into the parking orbit.

    "We extend our sincerest condolences to SES-ASTRA and SES-GLOBAL for the apparent failure of the Block DM to place the ASTRA 1K satellite into the proper orbit," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "We have a long history of success with the SES-GLOBAL family of companies -- SES was the first commercial customer on Proton. We have several missions next year with SES companies, and we are comitted to providing timely, reliable service."

    The Proton K vehicle has flown 24 other missions for ILS since 1996, all with the Block DM upper stage. A mission failure in December 1997 also involved the Block DM. The Proton family -- including the upgraded Proton M with the Khrunichev-built Breeze M upper stage -- has flown 26 consecutive successful missions since February 2000.

    ILS' next scheduled Proton mission employs the Proton M with the Breeze M upper stage. The Breeze M has flown successfully eight times in various configurations.

    A Russian State Commission is being formed to determine the reasons for the anomaly. ILS will provide details as soon as definitive information is available for release. A copy of the official statement from Khrunichev will also be made available upon translation. In parallel with the State Commission, ILS will form its own Failure Review Oversight Board to review reasons for the anomaly and define a corrective action plan.

    "ILS will continue business as usual with its Lockheed Martin-built Atlas family of launch vehicles," Albrecht said. "We will work diligently with our partners to return the Block DM to flight as soon as possible for its few remaining missions on the ILS manifest."

    ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) in the United States, with Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS provides launch services on the Proton and the Atlas vehicles to customers worldwide.

    0550 GMT (12:50 a.m. EST)

    FAILURE. International Launch Services has announced that the second burn of the Block DM upper stage suffered an anomaly, failing to deliver the Astra 1K spacecraft into the proper orbit tonight. ILS says the craft was released from the stage into the 109-mile parking orbit. A failure commission is being formed by Russian officials. This is the second ILS Proton failure in 25 flights.

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2002
    2322 GMT (6:22 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 18 minutes. International Launch Services says that the first Block DM burn has been completed. The stage and Astra 1K are now in another coast period that will last nearly an hour.

    Highlights of events yet to come will include two more firings by the Block DM. The first is scheduled for T+plus 73 minutes, 22 seconds to raise the altitude from the current low-altitude circular parking orbit to an egg-shaped loop reaching about 22,237 miles high at one end. The rocket will coast up to that high point before the second burn at T+plus 6 hours, 14 minutes that will raise the orbit's low end and reduce inclination from the equator.

    Separation of Astra 1K to complete this launch is expected around T+plus 6 hours, 36 minutes with the satellite being deployed into orbit of 2,077 miles on the low end and 22,237 miles on the high end and inclination to 26.3 degrees to the equator.

    2320 GMT (6:20 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 16 minutes. Thrusters on the upper stage have been firing to settle the propellants in preparation for the upcoming first burn.

    2318 GMT (6:18 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 14 minutes. The upper stage and satellite payload should be on a ballistic trajectory, not yet in stable orbit around Earth. The upcoming burn will put the duo into space. A majority of Proton launches don't require this "extra" burn by the upper stage. Normally the three-stage Proton is able to loft the Block DM and satellite cargo into the parking orbit. But for today's launch the extra burn is necessary to reach a 109-mile circular orbit because of the heavier weight of Astra 1K.

    2316 GMT (6:16 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 12 minutes. ILS says the third stage engine cut off as expected. The stage then separated from the upper stage. Ignition of the Block DM is a few minutes away.

    2314 GMT (6:14 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 10 minutes. The third stage burn should have been completed by now, followed by separation from the Block DM upper stage. However, no word has been received from ILS.

    2312 GMT (6:12 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 8 minutes. Confirmation has now been received that the second stage engines shut down, the spent stage was jettisoned and the third stage has ignited. Also, the payload fairing enclosing the Astra 1K spacecraft atop the rocket has separated.

    2310 GMT (6:10 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 6 minutes. Second stage separation should have occurred, followed by third stage ignition. However, ILS has stopped its live commentary to show a video. We'll provide any additional information on the actual flight performance as it becomes available.

    2308 GMT (6:08 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 4 minutes. Thrust chamber pressures in the second stage engines reported normal.

    2307 GMT (6:07 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 3 minutes. Second stage engines reported up and running normally.

    2306 GMT (6:06 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The first stage engines have shut down and the spent stage has separated. The four second stage engines have now ignited to continue the powered trek to space.

    2305 GMT (6:05 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 90 seconds. Just over a half-minute remaining in the first stage burn. System performance reported normal by launch officials.

    2305 GMT (6:05 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 60 seconds. The vehicle is now approaching the period of maximum dynamic pressure during its climb through the atmosphere. First stage systems reported steady.

    2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST)

    T+plus 30 seconds. The Proton rocket has performed its roll maneuver to achieve the proper launch heading for flight downrange. All six first stage liquid-fueled engines are up and burning. Thrust chamber pressures reported normal.

    2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST)

    LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the 25th ILS Proton rocket and the massive Astra 1K broadcasting spacecraft!

    2303 GMT (6:03 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 1 minute. Now 60 seconds away from launch of the Proton rocket and Astra 1K satellite. Ignition key has been activated.

    The engine start command will be issued by the launch sequencer at T-minus 2.5 seconds. The six first stage engines will be ignited at T-minus 1.6 seconds and commanded to 40 percent thrust. The thrust level is increased to 107 percent at T-0.9 seconds. The liftoff confirmation is expected at T-0 seconds.

    This engine start sequence allows for verification that all six powerplants are running normally before committing the Proton to launch.

    2302 GMT (6:02 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 2 minutes. The Block DM upper stage readiness for flight is now being verified. The motor is also switching to internal power.

    2301 GMT (6:01 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The Proton is switching to internal power.

    2300 GMT (6:00 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 4 minutes and counting. The enable key of the launch sequencer is being turned to the "on" position as the countdown continues to liftoff at 2304 GMT.

    2259 GMT (5:59 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 5 minutes and counting. At this point in the count, the firing circuits for the Proton rocket are being energized.

    2255 GMT (5:55 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The Proton rocket's first three stages -- which comprise the "core vehicle" -- are being checked for final confirmation they are ready for launch.

    2252 GMT (5:52 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 12 minutes and counting. The Proton rocket weighs about 1.5 million pounds as it sits on the launch pad. The Alcatel-built Astra 1K spacecraft accounts for 11,570 pounds of the weight.

    At launch the Proton's six first stage engines will fire together to propel the massive, 188-foot tall rocket into the predawn sky at Baikonur. It is currently 3:52 a.m. local time at the launch site.

    2244 GMT (5:44 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 20 minutes and counting. Officials report all systems remain ready for an on-time launch today at 2304 GMT. And the weather conditions are within limits.

    The countdown is currently under computer sequencer control, which will continue through liftoff. The final software updates to the rocket's guidance computer were recently performed.

    2234 GMT (5:34 p.m. EST)

    T-minus 30 minutes and counting. A Russian Proton rocket is set for blastoff in a half-hour carrying the Astra 1K broadcasting spacecraft for SES ASTRA. The three-stage Proton core vehicle and Block DM upper stage are fully fueled, a process that began about six hours before launch time. And in the past 45 minutes, the launch pad's mobile service tower was rolled away from the rocket.

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2002

    What's being called the largest commercial communications satellite ever built -- a powerful craft to transmit digital TV and multimedia programming across Europe -- is awaiting its ride into space today aboard a Russian-made Proton rocket.

    Liftoff from pad 23 at Baikonur Cosmodrome's Complex 81 in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST).

    The mission will mark the 25th Proton to fly under the banner of International Launch Services, the Russian/American joint venture formed in 1995 by Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia to globally market Proton and U.S. Atlas rockets.

    Built by Alcatel Space of France, the Astra 1K satellite tips the scales at 11,570 pounds at launch and stands 22 feet fall. Once fully deployed in orbit, the craft's power-generating solar wings will stretch 121 feet. It features 52 Ku-band transponders, two Ka-band transponders and 10 antenna reflectors and predicted 13kW end-of-life power.

    Astra 1K will be used by SES ASTRA, operator of Europe's leading satellite TV broadcast system that reaches over 91 million homes across the continent. The new satellite will become the 14th in Astra fleet, which provides more than 1,100 analog and digital television and radio channels as well as multimedia and Internet services to subscribers.

    Plans call for Astra 1K to be parked in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the equator at 19.2 degrees East longitude, ASTRA's primary location. It will be ready to replace three older satellites and become an in-orbit spare for four others.

    The three-stage Khrunichev Proton K rocket will propel the Energia-made Block DM upper stage and attached Astra 1K spacecraft from the desert steppes of Central Asia on a sub-orbital trajectory during the first nine-and-a-half minutes of flight.

    After the Block DM separates from the Proton's spent third stage, the motor will fire for over a minute to achieve a low-altitude parking orbit above the planet at an inclination of 51.6 degrees. A majority of Proton launches don't require this "extra" burn by the upper stage. Normally the three-stage Proton is able to loft the Block DM and satellite cargo into the parking orbit. But for today's launch, the extra burn is necessary to reach a stable 109-mile circular orbit because of the heavier weight of Astra 1K.

    The Block DM and Astra 1K will orbit for almost an hour before the second firing is planned, a seven-minute burn that will raise one side of the orbit to geostationary altitude of about 22,237 miles.

    The duo will then coast up to the high point of the orbit where the third and final Block DM firing of the launch is planned. Ignition of the minute-and-a-half burn is expected at about T+plus 6 hours and 14 minutes, raising the orbit's low point to about 2,077 miles and lowering the orbital inclination to 26.3 degrees to the equator.

    Astra 1K will be deployed from the upper stage at about T+plus 6 hours and 36 minutes. The satellite will later fire its onboard engine to circularize the orbit to geostationary altitude and reduce inclination to zero.

    Watch this page for live play-by-play updates during the final countdown and launch.
  • Not good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carlmenezes (204187) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:23PM (#4764541) Homepage
    The second failure in 25 launches. That's a success rate of 92%? That's also a 1 in 13 chance of failure with multi-million dollar equipment.

    T+plus 6 minutes. Second stage separation should have occurred, followed by third stage ignition. However, ILS has stopped its live commentary to show a video. We'll provide any additional information on the actual flight performance as it becomes available.

    Problems started here maybe?

    T+plus 8 minutes. Confirmation has now been received that the second stage engines shut down, the spent stage was jettisoned and the third stage has ignited. Also, the payload fairing enclosing the Astra 1K spacecraft atop the rocket has separated.

    seems ok...

    T+plus 10 minutes. The third stage burn should have been completed by now, followed by separation from the Block DM upper stage. However, no word has been received from ILS.

    Looks like ILS noticed trouble brewing here and were trying to redeem the situation... .. ...

    FAILURE. International Launch Services has announced that the second burn of the Block DM upper stage suffered an anomaly, failing to deliver the Astra 1K spacecraft into the proper orbit tonight.
    • Re:Not good. (Score:3, Informative)

      by stu72 (96650)
      The second failure in 25 launches. That's a success rate of 92%? That's also a 1 in 13 chance of failure with multi-million dollar equipment.

      1. Yes, 23 out 25 is 92%.
      2. No, it's 1 in 12.5 chance of failure.
      3. No, the cost of the equipment has no bearing whatsoever on how you calculate the chance of success or failure. It's the same whether the equipment costs $0.25 or $25e9
  • by bcwalrus (514670) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:24PM (#4764544)
    You can't even send a satelite to its orbit, and you're telling me that we landed on the thing called "moon"?!
    • > You can't even send a satelite to its orbit, and you're telling me that we landed on the thing called "moon"?!

      "... but that would belittle the name of our moon, which is 'The Moon' "

      "Point is, we're at the center, not you."

    • I'd like to see you do any better!

      (old schoolyard retort that still makes no sense to me)

      I keep reading that the projected failure rate, where failure==boom, for the space shuttle is one in 300. It some ways that's a low failure rate, in others a disturbing one. I don't have the math here, but what are the odds of going ten years without an accident?

      The fairly successful but brief Apollo program had one lethal ground accident (#1) and one near inflight catastrophe (#13). That's still fewer than the half the deaths of Challenger.

      Now, I know some smartass is going to tell me how much safer it is per mile to take a rocket to the Moon than to drive your car there. ;-)
      • Well if 1/300 go boom, then in 10 years, the probability would be 1-(launchesPerYear*10)/300 of going 10 years without incident.

        Unless my math is way off, in which case don't listen to me at all :)
        • Not exactly. :)

          I'm a flight instructor, with a preference for single-engine. Twin pilots like to say how much safer they are with an "extra" engine; the usual retort is all that does is double your chances of an engine failure.

          But you can't just add up the probability for a single event. If you imagine an engine failure probability of 50%, you see the problem -- such a plane couldn't even take off. (The correct probability is 75%.)

          So, the correct is what are the chances of X number of consecutive successful launches. Like, what are the chances of flipping heads 10 times in a row (maybe 1 in 500)? And I know I could figure that out, but I'm too lazy at the moment. I'd take a wild guess the odds of failure are around 1%.

          (BTW, a twin with an engine out IS very dangerous because of the risk of losing control authority to the working engine, or of shutting down the good engine in a panic. So ... a twin is safer ... in the hands of a competent poilot. :)
          • Re:Yeah? (Score:3, Funny)

            by mduell (72367)
            Like, what are the chances of flipping heads 10 times in a row (maybe 1 in 500)? And I know I could figure that out, but I'm too lazy at the moment.

            Oh come on! 2^10 is 1024! Every geek should know that! 1/1024 for 10 consecutive heads...
          • by mpe (36238)
            I'm a flight instructor, with a preference for single-engine. Twin pilots like to say how much safer they are with an "extra" engine; the usual retort is all that does is double your chances of an engine failure.

            The Russians built a rocket with something like 30 engines, none of the launch attempts made orbit, some barely made it off the pad.

            a twin with an engine out IS very dangerous because of the risk of losing control authority to the working engine, or of shutting down the good engine in a panic.

            Not just a theoretical risk either
            • Re:Yeah? (Score:3, Informative)

              by mikerich (120257)
              The Russians built a rocket with something like 30 engines, none of the launch attempts made orbit, some barely made it off the pad.

              To be fair the causes of the N1 failures (4 out of 4) were varied. The N1 had been designed to cope with multiple engine failures and still achieve orbital velocity.

              However, the death of Korolev - its designer, the appointment of the inexperienced Mishin and the ongoing wrangling between the Soviet design bureux (they had 3 Moon programmes running simulataneously) meant that the N1 was always a risk.

              There were no full test facilities so they couldn't perform a static engine test, the budget was minimal and the deadlines insane - that they got anything was a near miracle. That they got such incredible engines (which are now being used in Atlas rockets) was a miracle.

              For the record the N1 failures were caused by:

              1. An uncontained fire from a leaking fuel pipe which caused the computerised engine management system to shut down motors. The rocket lost thrust and was destroyed. The engineers increased the resilience of the piping to deal with resonances.
              2. An explosion in the liquid oxygen line to one engine after it ingested a fragment of welding slag. The failure itself was not critical, but the computers shut down the wrong engines, the rocket lost thrust and toppled back onto the launch pad, completely destroying the pad. The engineers improved welding techniques and fitted filters to piping.
              3. A failure in the attitude control system, the rocket tumbled in flight and was destroyed.
              4. A fire in the engine compartment which burned out of control. The rocket was destroyed from the ground, but was within seconds of achieving second stage ignition. It might well have made it to orbit had the controllers not intervened.
              A fifth N1 was prepared for launch but the programme was cancelled on the direct orders of the Kremlin. America had won the race to the Moon and the Soviets were concentrating on space stations and a race to Mars.

              As for the N1 being unusually unreliable, not necessarily so. The Soviets were always much more willing to fire their rockets and pick through the wreckage to determine problems than those in the West. So it was clear that the N1 was being debugged in the same manner.

              The Proton which launched the Astra satellite had a terrible record in its first few years. It is quite possible that the USSR could have sent men around the Moon in a Zond capsule before Apollo 8 - however, the mission was cancelled when the Proton booster developed cracks whilst sitting on the launch pad, (a problem that also delayed the N1).

              Nowadays the Proton is a genuine star - old but very reliable.

              a twin with an engine out IS very dangerous because of the risk of losing control authority to the working engine, or of shutting down the good engine in a panic.

              Not just a theoretical risk either

              Indeed (see the N1), or most tragically the Kegworth disaster [bbc.co.uk] here in the UK when the crew shut down the wrong engine of a British Midland 737. They had been dealing with an engine fire and trying to make an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport. For some reason, which has never been clear, both pilots came to the same conclusion which engine needed shutting down. They chose the wrong engine, the plane lost all power and crashed into the M1 motorway, 47 people died, amazingly 79 survived.

              Best wishes,
              Mike.

    • We can send satellites into orbit only when the aliens allow us to. The Astra 1K suffered the same fate as Contour. [uncoveror.com]

      As for the moon, not only does it exist, but the Zhti Ti Kofft have a Death Ray [uncoveror.com] on its dark side.

  • This really is a job for Salvage 1 [geocities.com]!
  • by inode_buddha (576844) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:42PM (#4764621) Journal
    Does anyone think there's a chance to recue this mission with the next several US shuttle launches in exchange for a mostly ready-made comms platform aboard the International Space Station? If yes, why? If no, why not? This could be a very valuable contribution to the ISS from the USSR, given their current difficulties otherwise, IMHO.
    • There's no use in having a comm satellite designed for geosynchronous orbit as a lawn ornament on the ISS.

      A possible rescue mission would be to capture it with the space shuttle, attach a booster and transfer it to its intended orbit and orbital slot. I doubt it will be cost-effective, though.

      BTW, it was insured.
    • No there is no chance.

      Firstly the shuttle has trouble getting into any useful orbit. As a later comment mentions, Columbia is going to be scrapped because it can't even get into the oribit of the ISS. Unless your sick satellite happens to have gone into a reasonably stable LEO, then the shuttle has no chance of getting to it.

      Secondly, even once they got to the satellite, there would be no way for the astronauts to work with the satellite. The Hubble was specially designed to be openable by astronauts as the regular service missions were planned before it was designed. This means that they can't access the satellite to to the major modifications which would be needed to either launch it into it's original orbit, or modifify to to be a comms platform. That means that any modifications would have to be done on earth which brings me to

      Thirdly, under the modern safety rules, a satellite fully fueled with propellant isn't allowed to be in the shuttle for landing. And as they can't access the satellite to safely jetison the fuel, that means that it can't be brought back to earth either.

      Even if that wasn't true, what do you think that a TV broadcast satellite would do at the ISS? It's designed to take a signal broadcast from the ground, and rebroadcast it over it's target area. It's basically a solar panel hooked upto a amplifer joining the transmitter to the receiver. Nothing which isn't already on the ISS.

    • Ahem... I saw a documentry about the super-secret sooped-up Space Shuttles with some famous actors supporting it, like Bruce Willis.

      These things can take off right next to each other and have super hard skin, so the boosters flying off and the little pieces bouncing everyplace does not damage them. These things would be perfect for this mission, since the third stage is up there waiting to explode (another poster noted this), so these Shuttles would be better than regular ones.

      I am not sure how many of these Shuttles are left, because the documentry showed one that crashed on a comet. They have great range, since they flew around the Moon, blew up a comet and one came back. Some people think it was a regular movie, but if it was they would have used something fake, like a big giant bunch of lasers that make lots of noise in space and when you cross them they bounce off each other. They used an atomic bomb, so it wasn't made up or nothing.

      If anybody remembers the name of this show can you post it? Thanks in advance!
  • by Orne (144925) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @09:46PM (#4764640) Homepage
    A Russian State Commission is being formed to determine the reasons for the anomaly.

    If there's one thing the United States taught Russia right about our form of democracy, it's bureaucracy...
    • Please. We sure do have a mountain of red tape here in the states, but NOTHING compares to the bureaucracy that the old Soviet Union created. Remember, the entire country was technically one huge bureaucracy. That and corruption will be the old soviet state's longest surviving legacies.
      • And brutal suppression of dissent.

        Our three surviving legacies will be bureaucracy, corruption, and brutal suppression of dissent!

        Let me start again...No one expects the Soviet Revolution!

    • A Russian State Commission is being formed to determine the reasons for the anomaly. If there's one thing the United States taught Russia right about our form of democracy, it's bureaucracy... Don't worry this is not specific to US or Russia, nearly everywhere in the world, this is the standard way to say that the problm will be quitly burried !
  • by Quaoar (614366)
    Do we all get a free taco?
  • Seems like the problem is that they built a satellite too large to have any reasonable launch options. Or they could've gone to NASA and got one those Baaaadaaaaas Titan IV lifters. Probably would have cost more. Probably would be in orbit too.

    Either you get smaller satellites and go to the Chinese, the French, heck even the Israelis to launch it or you go NASA.
  • by ceswiedler (165311) <chris@swiedler.org> on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:56AM (#4765337)
    Kreidenko said a secondary booster, which was due to propel the satellite to a higher altitude, had malfunctioned and was circling the earth separately from its payload.

    This is a very funny way of saying, "the damn booster just broke off and flew away on its own."
  • "Kreidenko said a secondary booster, which was due to propel the satellite to a higher altitude, had malfunctioned and was circling the earth separately from its payload."

    That's what they call a malfunction? I imagine it's a pretty big deal that the booster stay attached to function properly. Sounds like someone forgot to use something better than velcro to attach the two.

  • Ion booster (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    About a year ago a European satellite had a partial booster failure, but eventually made it into the proper orbit anyhow because it had an ion engine that was powered via the solar panels.

    Although not fast enough to be the primary final booster (may take years to get to right orbit), it can be a nice backup booster.

    I wonder why they did not do that for this one? I suppose they figured the cost of the ion engine and related weight was greater than the projected risk of failure.
  • by herbierobinson (183222) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @04:07AM (#4765822) Homepage
    If somebody else went up and fixed it, who would own the satellite?
  • Consider the tanker that went down off the coast of Spain. When that sucker sprang a leak, they hired salvors to try and save the ship and the cargo (this was before Spain and Portugal told them to get lost, whereupon they sunk in choppy seas.) Assuming that we had infrastructure in space, could we apply a similar idea and have space salvors recovering satellites? That would seem to me a better idea than keeping a 3 man crew in orbit on taxpayer dollars just to maintain the ISS, and the insurance company that insures the satellite would probably pony up a few mil just so they could avoid paying out on that particular policy.
  • According to the Moscow Times [themoscowtimes.com]: "Kreidenko said in a telephone interview that a glitch in the software that controls the DM-3 may have caused the failure."

    Well, at least the russians don't get inches mixed up with centimeters like *some* space agencies have been known to...

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