NASA to Launch Navy Communications Satellite 9/18/89: RELEASE: 89-145 Agency officials today announced a target date of no earlier than September 22 for the 68th and final launch of a NASA Atlas/Centaur vehicle. Atlas/Centaur-68 is scheduled to place the last in a series of Navy FLTSATCOM communications spacecraft into a geosynchronous Earth orbit. Launch will take place from Complex 36B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The 30-minute launch window opens at 4:15 a.m., EDT. This final chapter in NASA's Atlas/Centaur history has roots dating back to May 1962, when the first launch took place. Since then, the program has earned its place in history with missions such as Ranger and Surveyor probes to the Moon; Mariner flights to Mars, Venus and Mercury; and several series of communications satellite launches including FLTSATCOM, Intelsat and Comstar. FLTSATCOM satellites -- five have been successfully placed into orbit -- are the spaceborne portion of a worldwide Navy, Air Force and Department of Defense system to enable communications between naval aircraft, ships, submarines, ground stations, Strategic Air Command elements and Presidential Command Network. The FLTSATCOM program is managed by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. The Air Force Space Systems Division, Los Angeles, is responsible for production, launch vehicle/spacecraft integration and tracking and data acquisition. FLTSATCOM spacecraft are built in Redondo Beach, Calif., by the Defense and Space Systems Group of TRW, Inc. Atlas/Centaur is built for NASA by General Dynamics Space Systems Division, San Diego, Calif. General Dynamics, under an agreement signed with NASA in 1988, has assumed operation and control of Launch Complex 36 and in the future, will provide commercial Atlas launch transportation services for both the Government and the private sector from that site. With NASA oversight, General Dynamics will serve in the capacity of Launch Director for the upcoming mission. - end - NOTE TO EDITORS Events and logistics associated with the upcoming launch of Atlas/Centaur-68 follow: NEWS CONFERENCES: An L-2 day prelaunch conference is presently scheduled for 2 p.m., EDT, on Wednesday, September 20. The conference will be held in the E&O Building Conference Room, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). If sufficient on-site press interest exists, a postlaunch conference also may be held at the same location at approximately T+1 hour. Conference participants will include NASA, DoD and General Dynamics program officials. Local press questions only will be accommodated. PRESS VIEWING: Press viewing of the launch will be from Press Site 1, CCAFS. ACCREDITATION AND BADGING: Requests for accreditation and badging for the launch should be directed to the Kennedy Space Center public Information Branch. Special audio-visual requirements (remote camera setups will be accommodated) should be directed to the KSC audio visual office. NASA SELECT COVERAGE: Audio and video of the prelaunch and postlaunch (if held) news conferences will be carried via NASA SELECT television. Launch commentary and video also will be carried via NASA SELECT beginning at 3 a.m. EDT, launch morning. NASA Select is available via GE Satcom F2R, Transponder 13, 72 degrees W. Longitude, 3960 MHz, vertical polarization. - end - ATLAS/CENTAUR LAUNCH VEHICLE The Atlas/Centaur is NASA's standard launch vehicle for intermediate weight payloads. It is used to launch payloads into low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and on interplanetary trajectories. Centaur was the nation's first high-energy, liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propelled rocket. Developed and launched under the direction of NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, it became operational in 1966 with the launch of Surveyor 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the lunar surface. Since that time, both the Atlas booster and Centaur second stage have undergone many improvements. At present, the vehicle combination can place 13,500 pounds in low-Earth orbit, 5,100 pounds in a synchronous transfer orbit and 2,180 pounds on an interplanetary trajectory. The Atlas/Centaur, approximately 137 feet high, consists of an Atlas SLV-3G booster and Centaur D1AR second stage. The Atlas booster develops 438,922 pounds of thrust at liftoff using two 188,750 thrust booster engines, one 60,500 pound thrust sustainer engine and two vernier engines developing 461 pounds thrust each. The two RL-10 engines on Centaur produce a total of 33,000 pounds of thrust. Both the Atlas and Centaur are 10-feet in diameter. Until early 1974, Centaur was used exclusively in combination with the Atlas booster. It was subsequently used with a Titan III booster to launch heavier payloads into Earth orbit and interplanetary trajectories. The Atlas and the Centaur vehicles have been updated over the years. Thrust of the Atlas engines has been increased about 50,000 pounds since their first use in the space program in the early 1960's. The Centaur D-1AR has an integrated electronic system that performs a major role in checking itself and other vehicle systems before launch and also maintains control of major events after liftoff. The new Centaur system handles navigation and guidance tasks,controls, pressurization and venting, propellant management, telemetry formats and transmission and initiates vehicle events. Most operational needs can be met by changing the computer software. FLEET SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM The Fleet Satellite Communications System, managed by the U.S. Navy, provides near global satellite communications for high priority requirements of the Navy, Air Force and other Department of Defense communications needs. Five satellites presently comprise the FLTSATCOM constellation. Two satellites in the planned eight-satellite series were lost -- the Flight 4 spacecraft was damaged during launch in 1981 and did not operate and the Flight 6 spacecraft and launch vehicle were destroyed by an apparent lightning strike during launch in 1987. Each FLTSATCOM spacecraft has 23 communications channels in the ultra-high and super- high frequency bands. Ten of the channels are used by the Navy for worldwide communications among its land, sea and air forces. Twelve of the channels are used by the Air Force as part of the Air Force Satellite Communications System for command and control nuclear capable forces. A 500 kilohertz channel on the satellite is allotted to National Command Authority. The ground segment of the fleet satellite system consists of links among designated and mobile users,including most U.S. Navy ships and selected Air Force and Navy aircraft, submarines, global ground stations and presidential command networks. These terminals are being managed and acquired by the individual services. FLTSATCOM FLIGHT-8 CHARACTERISTICS (A/C-68) WEIGHT: The final FLTSATCOM spacecraft (designated Flight-8) along with its apogee kick motor, with solid propellant, weighs approximately 5,100 pounds going into transfer orbit. SIZE: The Flight-8 spacecraft body is 8 feet in diameter and 22.8 feet high. Main parabolic antenna is 16 feet in diameter with an 80-inch solid center surrounded by a wire mesh screen. Once in orbit, the folded screen is deployed by ground command. A 13.5 foot helical receive antenna, 13-inches in diameter at the base, is mounted outside the edge of the transmit antenna dish. The receive antenna also is folded within the Centaur fairing during launch and deployed by separate ground commands. POWER: Primary electrical power for the Flight-8 spacecraft is provided by two deployable solar array paddles which supply approximately 1,200 watts of power. In addition, three nickel- cadmium batteries, each having 24-sealed, 34-amp-hour cells, provide power during eclipse operations. DESIGN LIFE: 5 years ORBIT: The satellites are three-axis stabilized in geosynchronous orbit, 22,250 nautical miles above the Earth's equator. MAJOR CONTRACTOR: TRW Space and Defense Systems Group, Redondo Beach, Calif. ATLAS/CENTAUR-68 LAUNCH VEHICLE PREPARATIONS Kennedy Space Center is responsible for pre-launch processing and testing of the Atlas Centaur-68 vehicle. Most of this activity occurred at Launch Complex 36 on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). The launch of AC-68 originally was planned for 1987, but was postponed after a leak was discovered during a terminal countdown demonstration test in June of that year. The leak, near the Centaur number one engine gimbal assembly, resulted in a decision to demate the Centaur stage. During the disassembly process, a workstand was dislodged, fell and struck the Centaur liquid hydrogen tank, causing the rupture and loss of the tank. An investigation board concluded that the tank was ruptured when a leg of the falling workstand penetrated the tank skin. A new Centaur stage had to be fabricated and both the Atlas booster and Centaur upper stage were shipped back to the General Dynamics plant in San Diego. The current Atlas/Centaur vehicle arrived by C5A transport plane at the Skid Strip on CCAFS on May 24. The Atlas first stage was erected in the gantry of Pad B on Launch Complex 36 on June 6 and the interstage adapter was attached the next day. The Centaur stage was hoisted into the gantry and mated to the Atlas stage on June 8. The vehicle was powered up for integrated testing on June 20. A terminal countdown demonstration, which includes loading the vehicle with propellants, was conducted Aug. 22. This test served as a launch team certification and is designed to simulate as closely as possible all pre-liftoff events on launch day, including the loading of propellants. A flight events demonstration, an electrical test which simulates post-liftoff events and exercises all components aboard the vehicle used during powered flight, was conducted on Sept. 7. All launch vehicle and pad operations during the countdown are conducted from the blockhouse at Complex 36 by a joint NASA-General Dynamics Space Systems launch team. FLTSATCOM F-8 SATELLITE PRELAUNCH PROCESSING The FLTSATCOM F-8 spacecraft was shipped from the TRW plant in Redondo Beach, Calif., and arrived at Hangar AM on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 31. The satellite was removed from its environmentally controlled storage canister and testing was resumed. The systems tests were completed on Aug. 11. The satellite was transported to the Explosive Safe Area (ESA-60) on Aug. 21. The apogee kick motor, the solid propellant rocket used to circularize the orbit at geosynchronous altitude, was installed on Aug. 21 and 22 at this facility. Encapsulation of the spacecraft in the nose fairing, which protects the spacecraft during the portion of flight within the Earth's atmosphere, was accomplished on Sept. 11. The satellite was scheduled to be transferred to Pad B at Launch Complex 36 on Sept. 12, where it was hoisted into position atop the Atlas Centaur rocket. A composite electrical readiness test was completed on Sept. 14, to demonstrate the operation of all airborne electrical systems and components used in-flight. Spacecraft prelaunch processing, testing and launch vehicle integration are managed and conducted by a joint Air Force/TRW test team at CCAFS. DOWNRANGE LAUNCH SUPPORT Launch vehicle telemetry and data will be established through the NASA Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network and the Air Force Eastern Test Range. Initial launch coverage will come from the Merritt Island Launch Area station located at Kennedy Space Center and the USAF's Tel-4 station located on south KSC, followed by the NASA station on Bermuda. As the vehicle moves downrange, tracking support will be provided by other NASA stations at Ascension Island and Canberra, Australia. The Eastern Test Range also will supply telemetry and data from its stations at Tel-4, Jupiter Inlet, Fla., and from its downrange tracking station on the island of Antigua. A pair of Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft stationed over the Atlantic Ocean between Ascension Island and Africa will cover the time interval of the second main engine burn on the Centaur stage and the subsequent spacecraft separation. NASA and Department of Defense radars will provide downrange trajectory information to range safety personnel and computers. The radars are located at Cape Canaveral, Tel-4 Patrick Air Force Base, Jupiter Inlet, Bermuda and Antigua. GENERAL DYNAMICS/LAUNCH COMPLEX 36: A NEW ERA General Dynamics, under an agreement signed with NASA in 1988, has assumed operation and control of Launch Complex 36, CCAFS. Following the upcoming Atlas/Centaur-68 mission, the company plans to provide commercial Atlas launch services from that site for both NASA and private customers. General Dynamics' first commercial launch of its Atlas I vehicle is scheduled for 1990 with a launch rate capability of four launches per year from Complex 36B. The Atlas I configuration accommodates an 11-foot-diameter as well as a 14-foot-diameter fairing enabling the vehicle to perform a broader range of missions. General Dynamics also is developing a commercial derivative of its military Atlas II vehicle. The commercial configuration is called Atlas IIA, which will offer 25 percent higher performance than Atlas I. Atlas II class vehicles begin launch operations in 1992. To date, General Dynamics has contracted for commercial launch services with four users. A EUTELSAT II spacecraft is scheduled for a 1990 launch with options for two additional launches. NASA, on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has contracted for commercial launch services for up to five Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). The first GOES launch is scheduled for 1990. In addition, NASA has awarded the 1990 launch of its Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite to General Dynamics for a commercial Atlas launch. General Dynamics also is under contract from Hughes to launch 10 of the new generation UHF Follow-On communications satellites, and Intelsat has contracted for two launches on Atlas IIAs. Source: NASA
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NASA to Launch Navy Communications Satellite 9/18/89: RELEASE: 89-145 Agency officials today announced a target date of no earlier than September 22 for the 68th and final launch of a NASA Atlas/Centaur vehicle. Atlas/Centaur-68 is scheduled to place the last in a series of Navy FLTSATCOM communications spacecraft into a geosynchronous Earth orbit. Launch will take place from Complex 36B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The 30-minute launch window opens at 4:15 a.m., EDT. This final chapter in NASA's Atlas/Centaur history has roots dating back to May 1962, when the first launch took place. Since then, the program has earned its place in history with missions such as Ranger and Surveyor probes to the Moon; Mariner flights to Mars, Venus and Mercury; and several series of communications satellite launches including FLTSATCOM, Intelsat and Comstar. FLTSATCOM satellites -- five have been successfully placed into orbit -- are the spaceborne portion of a worldwide Navy, Air Force and Department of Defense system to enable communications between naval aircraft, ships, submarines, ground stations, Strategic Air Command elements and Presidential Command Network. The FLTSATCOM program is managed by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. The Air Force Space Systems Division, Los Angeles, is responsible for production, launch vehicle/spacecraft integration and tracking and data acquisition. FLTSATCOM spacecraft are built in Redondo Beach, Calif., by the Defense and Space Systems Group of TRW, Inc. Atlas/Centaur is built for NASA by General Dynamics Space Systems Division, San Diego, Calif. General Dynamics, under an agreement signed with NASA in 1988, has assumed operation and control of Launch Complex 36 and in the future, will provide commercial Atlas launch transportation services for both the Government and the private sector from that site. With NASA oversight, General Dynamics will serve in the capacity of Launch Director for the upcoming mission. - end - NOTE TO EDITORS Events and logistics associated with the upcoming launch of Atlas/Centaur-68 follow: NEWS CONFERENCES: An L-2 day prelaunch conference is presently scheduled for 2 p.m., EDT, on Wednesday, September 20. The conference will be held in the E&O Building Conference Room, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). If sufficient on- site press interest exists, a postlaunch conference also may be held at the same location at approximately T+1 hour. Conference participants will include NASA, DoD and General Dynamics program officials. Local press questions only will be accommodated. PRESS VIEWING: Press viewing of the launch will be from Press Site 1, CCAFS. ACCREDITATION AND BADGING: Requests for accreditation and badging for the launch should be directed to the Kennedy Space Center public Information Branch. Special audio-visual requirements (remote camera setups will be accommodated) should be directed to the KSC audio visual office. NASA SELECT COVERAGE: Audio and video of the prelaunch and postlaunch (if held) news conferences will be carried via NASA SELECT television. Launch commentary and video also will be carried via NASA SELECT beginning at 3 a.m. EDT, launch morning. NASA Select is available via GE Satcom F2R, Transponder 13, 72 degrees W. Longitude, 3960 MHz, vertical polarization. - end - ATLAS/CENTAUR LAUNCH VEHICLE The Atlas/Centaur is NASA's standard launch vehicle for intermediate weight payloads. It is used to launch payloads into low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous- Earth orbit and on interplanetary trajectories. Centaur was the nation's first high-energy, liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propelled rocket. Developed and launched under the direction of NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, it became operational in 1966 with the launch of Surveyor 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the lunar surface. Since that time, both the Atlas booster and Centaur second stage have undergone many improvements. At present, the vehicle combination can place 13,500 pounds in low-Earth orbit, 5,100 pounds in a synchronous transfer orbit and 2,180 pounds on an interplanetary trajectory. The Atlas/Centaur, approximately 137 feet high, consists of an Atlas SLV-3G booster and Centaur D1AR second stage. The Atlas booster develops 438,922 pounds of thrust at liftoff using two 188,750 thrust booster engines, one 60,500 pound thrust sustainer engine and two vernier engines developing 461 pounds thrust each. The two RL-10 engines on Centaur produce a total of 33,000 pounds of thrust. Both the Atlas and Centaur are 10-feet in diameter. Until early 1974, Centaur was used exclusively in combination with the Atlas booster. It was subsequently used with a Titan III booster to launch heavier payloads into Earth orbit and interplanetary trajectories.