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(Fwd) GO-ARIANE: the official & obscure reasons

from http://www.go-ariane.com/

 Arianespace Chairman tries to explain why

                                                   Updated :
 Paris 15th & 16th June 1998

     The news fell in an official ESA-CNES joint communiqué issued on the
 afternoon of 15th June, on the eve of the Annual Press Conference held in Paris
 by Arianespace Chairman Jean-Marie LUTON. After months of uncertainty
 over the commercial payload that was to help pay for the final qualification
 flight of the new launcher, the Ariane 5 Program Board had decided to stop
 beating around the bush. Enough time had been lost, 503 had to get off the
 ground and the quickest solution was adopted. Together with ESA's
 atmospheric reentry demonstrator, the payload will include a dummy satellite
 "representative" of Eutelsat's W2 craft that was originally to be on the vehicle.
 The launch is now officially targeted for "mid-October".

      And as the dummy satellite climbed aboard, so Amsat's Phase IIID satellite
 fell off - despite the numerous assurances given to the international amateur
 radio organisation over the past months.

     According to reliable sources, delegates at the Ariane 5 program board were
 able to come to this decision after Arianespace had told them that it was
 prepared to cover the lost revenue that would have come from a commercial
 passenger. This has variously been situated at 34, 40 or 48 Million Euros
 according to different sources.

     Questionned on the reasons that had led to these broken promises to Amsat,
 Jean-Marie LUTON fully explained the situation in terms of urgency. "We had
 to constitute a pairing, the ARD and another payload within the allowable
 mass limits. After the fire that damaged W1 which had been scheduled on
 503, the fact that the sister craft W2 would not be ready and our inability to
 find an alternative commercial passenger, we decided to have a dummy
 satellite that was as dynamically representative as possible of a W series
 satellite - and that without having to start all the studies from scratch which
 would have pushed back the launch. If Amsat had been accepted the launch
 could not have taken place before the end of the year."

     Asked how he was going to compensate for the lost revenue, and on how
 much the dummy satellite was going to cost, Arianespace Chairman was not
 clear in his replies. It was not for him to say, but rather the European Space
 Agency. "Arianespace is already contributing 50 Million MUC to this
 qualification flight.... some savings will be found somewhere." The lost revenue
 figure quoted by M.Luton was 34 MUC. (go-Ariane understands that the
 dummy satellite is budgeted at around 6 MUC.)


     According to several sources, the development costs of a dummy satellite
 could be reduced if Aerospatiale uses the platform of the W1 satellite that was
 damaged at the fire in Cannes. The satellite has been declared a total loss for
 insurance purposes. Aerospatiale (or Eutelsat ?) would thus just have to buy
 the satellite back from the insurance companies and fit it out to fly. To what
 extent it could eventually function in orbit is unclear. [Other dummy satellite
 solutions have been proposed, including one from Germany's Kaiser-Threde,
 which built the Maqsat craft for 502 - but sources say this would have been
 more expensive and would have taken longer.]

     A spokesman for Aerospatiale told go-Ariane on 19th June that nothing had
 been decided. "It is a question for all concerned: the insurers to which the
 satellite now belongs, ourselves, Arianespace and Eutelsat. For instance how
 much W1 is worth if its bought back. The satellite is at present "drying-out"
 in a special chamber and we do not know at all whether part of its telecom
 payload would eventually work".

     "Extensive checks will have to be carried out - for instance on all the
 electrical systems, and whether the tanks are not leaking - before we ever fill
 it up with hydrazine to fly. We may put water. What is certain is that it would
 cost considerably more to build a new dummy satellite. As to when all this
 will be settled, well we imagine, pretty quickly !"

     go-Ariane can add another motivation to the solution that has been found. It
 is not impossible that Arianespace might be considering eventual revenue from
 leasing itself transponders on the W1 satellite - should the satellite be capable
 of working in orbit. That would turn Arianespace into a satellite operator !

     Journalists present at the Annual Press conference repeatedly questionned
 the fact that Eutelsat's W2 craft could not be used on 503, since M.Luton had
 also said that W2 would be launched on an Ariane 4 in the autumn. According
 to our souces, it is scheduled as sole passenger on flight V113 towards the end
 of October and could in fact liftoff before 503 ! But M.Luton only replied that
 W2 would need to be checked for its Ariane 5 compatability and this would
 push back 503 by a month.

     The real reason however is that Eutelsat does not want to assume the risks
 inherent in this qualification flight. "This satellite is too important for us"
 confirmed an Eutelsat spokeswoman present at the Paris press conference.

     The Amsat organisation has been officially notified that Amsat PIII-D cannot
 fly on 503 "because it would take 8 months to fullfill the necessary studies." As
 we have said in previous installments, the organisation does not agree. AMSAT
 is now considering its future options for the PIII-D spacecraft, and does not
 exclude a solution to be found with Arianespace. But there's no disguising their
 great disappointment over the whole affaire.

         news_67.shtml - 0 - First posted : 19/6/98 * Last updated : 19/6/98

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