space news from Jun 20, 1994 AW&ST

Henry Spencer summaries

[Not really space, but what the hell...] NASA Dryden takes delivery of four D-21 reconnaissance drones, the unmanned counterpart of the Blackbird. The surviving D-21s have been in storage at Davis-Monthan since 1971, and are now being distributed to museums. NASA has no immediate plans to use the D-21s, but didn't want to have to retrieve them from museums later if a use did appear.

Hubble images show many protoplanetary dust disks around stars in the Orion Nebula.

Martin Marietta announces that most Atlas launcher work will move from San Diego to MM's Denver facilities, although final assembly will remain at the USAF-owned plant in San Diego.

Rep. George Brown ends his hesitation and comes out in support of Fredovitch, after the appropriations subcommittee fully funds NASA science programs.

Picture of the LLV payload fairing in separation tests.

Four-day meeting at JPL discusses joint US-Russian planetary missions.

Russian participation in Pluto Fast Flyby [which is probably essential to the mission, since Titan IV is too expensive and that leaves only Proton as a potential launcher] would probably involve a 10-15kg "descent vehicle" that would fly through Pluto's atmosphere, possibly on an impact trajectory. Another possibility is use of Russian electric propulsion systems.

Mars was high on the agenda, with specific emphasis on doing something in 1998. The current notion is that Russia provides a Proton launch, an upper stage, and a "Mars 96" lander, while the US provides either an orbiter or a separate US lander. JPL sees the US part of this as crucially dependent on funding of the 1996 Mars Surveyor flight, and says that the US part will be conducted within the Mars Surveyor program and budget.

OSC unveils Taurus 2 [which actually has almost nothing in common with Taurus -- it's LLV by another name]. It would carry Delta/Titan2 payloads, and would fly in 1996-1997. OSC will enter it in NASA's "Med-Lite" launcher competition, whose RFP is expected this autumn. OSC says it will fund Taurus 2 development privately if enough launch orders can be had. T2 first stage is a Castor 120, second stage is another C120, third stage is a liquid-fuel stage using a pair of the Aestus 27.8kN engines DASA is building for Ariane 5's upper stage. Basic payload is 2300kg into 185km 28.5deg. This can be expanded by adding Castor 4 strap-ons, up to a maximum of 8, which gives 5000kg (or 1840kg into GTO, using a Star 48 kick motor). OSC plans to duplicate Delta's payload interfaces, including the dynamic envelope of the Delta 10ft fairing. Prices will be "competitive". T2 would be compatible with the launch pad being built at Vandenberg by the California Commercial Spaceport group.

SMASH! "Sayy... I *liked* that window."| Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology "I enjoyed it too!" "Hmph! Some hero!"| utzoo!henry