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ORBITAL AND PLANETARY LAUNCH SERVICES FAQ SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION ************************************************************************** Last update: October 31, 1995 The Orbital and Planetary Launch Services FAQ is intended to provide basic performance data and background information for all existing or near future space launch vehicles. The document was compiled and is maintained by Josh Hopkins (firstname.lastname@example.org). While other documents provide much more detailed information (see the reference list), I have been able to find no public document which covers as many launch vehicles or is updated as frequently. Therefore I hope this reference fills a useful niche. This FAQ entry may be copied and distributed, but may not be modified without the author's permission. Requests to modify this FAQ, questions, feedback, data, good jokes, or offers of employment are welcome and should be directed to the author at the e-mail address above. REFERENCES: All data in this document were collected from public sources. The following references were significant, and are recommended for further information: "International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems" by Steven J. Isakowitz, 1991 edition. Published by AIAA. (Note that a new edition is in press) "Transportation Systems Data Book" NASA Marshall SFC. Revision A 1995. "Small Launchers in the Future, a Global Overview of Their Features and Prospects." W.G. Nauman, ESA, presented at the 1994 IAF conference. "1991-1992 Europe and Asia in Space," compiled by Nicholas Johnson and David Rodvold for USAF Phillips Lab. User's guides and other documentation provided by the manufacturers were also utilized frequently. As an additional source of information, NASA maintains a web page at http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/elv/elvpage.html which includes some information about expendable launch vehicles used by NASA. While the site doesn't contain much technical information, it does have pictures of American launch vehicles, and can provide a good introduction for readers unfamiliar with rockets. Readers interested in planetary launch capabilities may wish to read "Capabilities, Costs, and Constraints of Space Transportation for Planetary Missions," by Karen Poniatowski and Michael Osmolovsky of NASA HQ's Launch Vehicle Office. This paper, along with papers on planetary capabilities of the Delta, Titan II and M-V were presented at the 1994 IAA International Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions, and are archived in Acta Astronautica, Vol 35, 1995. NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: * Vehicle types which had not yet flown as of the latest update are marked with asterisks. * Unless otherwise specified LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and polar orbit payload data are for a 100 nm orbit. LEO performance is generally given for the lowest inclination achievable from the vehicle's main launch site. In some cases, sources provide performance data for non-standard orbits without explicitly saying so. This can introduce some errors into the data for less common vehicles. * GTO stands for Geostationary Transfer Orbit, and should not be confused with GEO, Geostationary Earth Orbit. The impulse from GTO to GEO is generally performed by the satellite or an attached apogee kick motor, so launch vehicles specify only GTO capability. * Price and performance data may vary. Launch prices depend on the spacecraft, currency exchange rates, and market fluctuation. Payload depends on fairing and adapter selection. This data should be accurate enough to make comparisons and conduct preliminary analysis. Potential users requiring precise data should contact the manufacturers. * Reliability data is current to at least December 1994 for almost all vehicle families. However, it is difficult to find comprehensive data for some Russian or Chinese systems since they were often secret, and data on the more obscure foreign launch systems doesn't get published very frequently. When data is available, sources sometimes disagree. Therefore, reliability data for a few launchers may be out of date or inaccurate. SECTION 2: CURRENT LAUNCH VEHICLE DATA **************************************************************************** Vehicle | Payload kg (lbs) | Reliability | Price (nation) | LEO Polar GTO | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Ariane Ariane 4: 39/42 92.8% (ESA) AR40 4900 3900 1900 $65m (10,800) (8580) (4190) AR42P 6100 4800 2600 $67m (13,400) (10,600) (5730) AR44P 7725 5500 3000 $70m (17,000) (12,100) (6610) AR42L 7400 5900 3200 $90m (16,300) (13,000) (7050) AR44LP 8300 6600 3700 $95m (18,300) (14,500) (8160) AR44L 9600 7700 4200 $115m (21,100) (16,900) (9260) * AR5 18,000 ??? 6920 0/0 $105m (39,600) (15,224) [300nm] The Ariane 4 series holds the largest market share in the international commercial launch market. Development is funded by the European Space Agency and lead by CNES, the French space agency. Operations are conducted by Arianespace. The vehicles launch from French Guiana in South America. The Ariane 5, an all new design, is scheduled for first launch in April of 1996. The Ariane 4 will be phased out by late 1998. Ariane 5 was designed to launch multiple large communications satellites for a lower cost than previous versions. However, satellites have continued to grow since the program was started almost ten years ago. There is speculation that Ariane 5 will eventually be too small to launch two satellites, but too large to launch just one. Therefore, ESA has approved a roughly $1-2 billion "Ariane 5 Evolution" project to increase GTO payload to about 7.4 tons in small increments after the year 2000. Atlas 32/37 86.5% in last 10 years (USA) Atlas I 5580 4670 2250 $70m (12,300) (10,300) (4950) Atlas II 6395 5400 2680 $75m (14,100) (11,900) (5900) Atlas IIA 6760 5715 2810 $85m (14,900) (12,600) (6200) Atlas IIAS 8390 6805 3490 $115m (18,500) (15,000) (7700) Atlas is the largest commerical launch vehicle in the US and is used frequently for commercial and military launches. Starting in the summer of 1995, Atlas is being marketed jointly with the Russian Proton vehicle by International Launch Services, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Russian aerospace companies. This offers more flexibility for customers. Vehicle | Payload kg (lbs) | Reliability | Price (nation) | LEO Polar GTO | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Conestoga 0/1 (USA) * Conestoga 1229 665 500 -- $15.5m (1460) (110) * Conestoga 1679 1500 1250 ??? ?? (3300) (2750) Conestoga 1620 1980 ??? 960 0/1 $18m (4355) (2115) Conestoga has been a very star-crossed project. The vehicle was first proposed by Deke Slayton's Space Services Inc, which was founded back in 1979 and eventually purchased by EER Systems Corporation. Conestoga got its big break when it was picked for the COMET (now METEOR) program, to launch three of the recoverable capsules. Unfortunately, the program dragged on, over budget and behind schedule, and was even cancelled for a while. Recently, a new arrangement was worked out to launch the METEOR capsule once, in the hope that this would attract commercial customers. The first Conestoga launch was attempted in August, but delayed by faulty pressurization in the thrust vector control system. A second attempt in October ended in the destruction of the vehicle. Unlike the LLV, Conestoga does not have a significant order backlog, so its future is uncertain. Conestoga is assembled from Castor IV solid rocket motors and has been offered in a variety of different configurations. In addition to those listed above, the Conestoga 3632 and 5672 have been offered for larger payloads. Delta 48/49 98% in last 10 years (USA) * Delta Lite 1985 1510 660 ~$25m w/o SSRM (4365) (3320) (1450) * Delta Lite 2610 2030 860 ~$25m w/ SSRM (5740) (4465) (1890) * Delta 7326 2865 2095 950 ??? (6300) (4610) (2090) Delta 7925 5,045 3,830 1,820 $50m (11,100) (8,420) (4,000) * Delta III ? ? 3,800 ??? (8,400) The Delta launch vehicle family is built and marketed by McDonnell Douglas. The Delta II (6925 and 7925 configurations) has proved reliable, but is too small for most geosynchronous satellites. Therefore, McDonnell Douglas is developing the Delta III, with a much larger payload. Hughes has purchased 10 launches for its satellites. New Delta versions were also designed for NASA's Med-Lite contract, which sought launch vehicles between the size of small launchers like Pegasus, and the Delta II, which was the smallest of the large launchers. The smaller Delta versions will be used for future Mars missions, among other things. First launches for each of the new vehicles are planned for 1998. Vehicle | Payload kg (lbs) | Reliability | Price (nation) | LEO Polar GTO | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- H series 12/12 100% (Japan) H-2 10,500 6600 4000 3/3 $160m (23,000) (14,500) (8800) The H-2 is the first Japanese launch vehicle to be entirely developed domestically. Previous N series and H-1 vehicles used Delta components. The H-2 is designed to carry heavy payloads to orbit and has worked well so far. However, it is unlikely to be commercially attractive in the near future, due to high costs and low flight rates. NASDA hopes to cut costs by as much as 50% by the turn of the century, in part by simplifying the design and including some foreign components. The H-2 is the cornerstone of NASDA's plans for increasing activities in space, including eventual human missions. J series 0/0 $43m (Japan) * J-1 900 ??? ??? (1980) The J-1 is a small booster developed jointly by NASDA, Japan's space applications agency, and ISAS, the science agency. It combines solid boosters from the H-2 and M-3S-II vehicles. First launch is scheduled for February of 1996. Like other Japanese vehicles, the J-1 is for government use, and is not expected to be commercialized in the near future. Kosmos 371/377 98.4% (Russia) Kosmos [400 km circular orbit] $??? 51 degrees - 1400 kg 83 degrees - 1105 kg Kosmos (also spelled Cosmos) is a Russian vehicle comparable in size to the American Taurus. (That is, the OSC Taurus, not the Ford Taurus). Following back to back failures of the Pegasus XL, LLV, and Conestoga in the summer and fall of 1995, Kosmos attracted attention in the United States as an alternative launcher with a more reliable history. Several companies have worked out joint agreements with the manufacturer, Polyot. Assured Space Access appears to be the current favorite, although other companies have also been involved. Final Analysis Inc. has reserved a number of launches for its own use and is marketing extra payload space on those launches. Space News says Kosmos has launched roughly 730 times, in contrast to the numbers above, from Isakowitz. The 1991-1992 edition of Europe and Asia in Space says Ksomos had reached orbit 389 times. I assume the Space News figure is a typo, unless anyone has other information. Lockheed Launch Vehicle 0/1 (U.S) LLV-1 795 515 --- $16m (1,755) (1140) * LLV-2 1,985 1490 593 $22m (4,835) (3,145) (1305) * LLV-3 3,655 2,855 1,136 TBD (8,060) (6,295) (2,500) The first flight of the LLV-1 failed during the summer of 1995 when the vehicle began pitching out of control. The cause of the accident was still under investigation at this writing. Fortunately, the vehicle has a good order book for such a new vehicle, including NASA's Lewis and Clark satellites, and the Lunar Prospector mission. Therefore the LLV should be able to overcome this initial setback. The LLV-3 version has four variants, with 2 to 6 Castor IVA small solid rocket boosters. Space News reports that Lockheed Martin will change the name of the booster to "Astria." Long March (China) * CZ-1D 720 ??? 200 0/0 $10m (1,590) (440) CZ-2C 2800 1750 1000 14/14 $20m (7040) (3860) (2200) CZ-2E 9200 ??? 3370 3/5 $40m (20,300) (7430) CZ-3 5050 ??? 1500 7/9 $33m (11,150) (3300) CZ-3A ??? ??? 2500 1/1 $???m (5500) * CZ-3B ??? ??? 4800 0/0 $???m (10,560) CZ-4 4000 2500 1100 2/2 $???m (8800) (5500) (2430) The Long March family includes a variety of different vehicles from the small CZ-1D to the CZ-2E heavy GEO launcher. They are used both for national programs and for international commercial launches. While Long March vehicles are restricted from undercutting western prices by more than 15%, they have been attractive to many satellite owners in Asia. The CZ-2E has suffered two poorly explained failures while carrying Hughes HS-601 spacecraft. Several CZ-2C/SD vehicles will be used to launch Iridium spacecraft starting in 1998. First launch for the 1D and 3B variants is scheduled for 1996. There have also been reports of a new "CZ-3C" variant with strap-on boosters. In addition, China has operated the CZ-2D, which is slightly larger than the 2C version. However, data on these vehicles are not available. Vehicle | Payload kg (lbs) | Reliability | Price (nation) | LEO Polar GTO | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- M Series (Japan) * M-V 1950 1300 1215 0/0 $70m (4300) (2860) (2680) The M-V is an all-solid, small launch vehicle under development for ISAS, Japan's space science agency. The vehicle will fly approximately once per year, carrying payloads such as the upcoming Lunar A and Planet B missions to the Moon and Mars. First launch is planned for 1996. ISAS has also studied, but rejected, air launched versions of M-V. Pegasus/Taurus 7/9 77% (USA) Pegasus XL 455 365 125 0/2 $13.5m (1,000) (800) (275) Taurus 1,450 1,180 375 1/1 $15m (3,200) (2,600) (830) Pegasus was the first new American vehicle in more than a decade, and deserves some credit for restarting the interest in small satellites. Pegasus is a small, all solid rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corporation. The winged rocket is launched from beneath the company's L1011 aircraft. The original Pegasus configuration is being phased out, in favor of the Pegasus XL (Extended Length). The first two Pegasus XL flights were failures, but OSC hopes to have the rocket flying again soon. Taurus was developed to meet military requirements for rapid launch of small spacecraft. It consists of Pegasus stages mounted atop a Castor 120 first stage. Taurus will be used in conjuction with Delta-Lite for small missions under the Med-Lite contract. Proton 96/103 93.2% in last 10 years (Russia) Proton 20,000 ??? 5,500 $65m (44,100) (12,200) Proton is the heavy lift workhorse of the former Soviet launch stable. It is being marketed in the west by International Launch Services, a joint venture between Krunichev and Lockheed Martin. ILS also offers the Atlas. Russia is currently limited to offering prices within 7.5% of western prices and the number of GEO launches is limited to 8 before the year 2000. However, there is speculation that these restrictions may be abandoned as Russian launches become more commercialized. ILS has twelve western contracts for Proton launches, starting in 1996 with an Astra satellite for Societe Europeenne de Satellites of Luxembourg. Proton is also scheduled to play an important role in launching space station components. Krunichev plans to offer new upper stages for Proton, including the storable propellant Breeze-M upper stage in 1998 and the OHSM cryogenic stage a few years later. Proton will put 3.2 tons in GEO with Breeze-M and 4.5 tons with OHSM. Current GEO capability is about 2.6 tons with the Block D upper stage. In addition to these technical changes, ILS is considering conducting Proton launches from Cape Canaveral, or sites in Australia or Brazil. Launching closer to the equator would increase performance. Shavit 3/3 100% (Israel) Shavit ??? 160 ??? 3/3 $22m (350) Shavit is Israel's first, and so far only, launch vehicle. It is believed to be derived from the Jericho II ballistic missile. Israel Aircraft Industries is developing a more advanced version with an added stage, which would be called "Next." The payload of the new vehicle would be slightly higher than Pegasus, and a cost of $15 million has been suggested. Commercialization is desired because Israeli missions number less than one a year and have limited government support. In order to avoid dropping spent stages on Arab neighbors, Israel launches west over the Mediterranean, decreasing the vehicle's performance significantly. Space Shuttle 69/70 98.6% (USA) Shuttle/RSRM 23,500 ??? 5,900 69/70 [I'm not going (51,800) (13,000) to touch the price issue] More has been written, and read, about the space shuttle than any other launch vehicle. Therefore, there is little that can usefully be written here. Vehicle | Payload kg (lbs) | Reliability | Price (nation) | LEO Polar GTO | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- SLV 5/10 50% (India) (400km) [900km polar] ASLV 150 ??? ??? 2/4 $???m (330) PSLV 3,000 1,000 450 1/2 $???m (6,600) (2,200) (990) * GSLV 8,000 ??? 2,500 0/0 $???m (17,600) (5,500) India's first (albeit unsuccessful) orbital launch was in 1979, with the Satellite Launch Vehicle capable of carrying 40 kg to orbit. Despite a very small budget and technical difficulties (early launches occured only once every few years and had a 33% success rate), India has continued to build a strong space program. The Advanced Satellite Launch Vechicle was used to orbit small Rohini experimental satellites. The Polar Satellite Launch vehicle is being used to orbit indigenously built IRS remote sensing satellites. The Geosynchronous SLV is projected to come online around the turn of the century, to launch India's communications satellites. GSLV development was delayed when the US tried to prevent the sale of Russian cryogenic engine technology to India. Soyuz/Vostok (Russia) [650km] Vostok 4,730 1,840 ??? ?/149 $??m (10,400) (4,060) Soyuz 7,000 ??? ??? 1023/1098 $??m (15,400) Molniya 1500kg (3300 lbs) in ?/258 $???M Highly eliptical orbit The Soyuz/Vostok series is the same family of vehicles which launched Sputnik and Gagarin. 1500 launches later, the Soyuz vehicle is still used to carry cosmonauts to the Mir space station and launches most medium-sized Russian satellites. The Russian Space Agency plans to replace the current model Soyuz with a vehicle called "Rus" in 1997. The payload will be increased by a few hundred kilograms to allow Russia to launch Soyuz TM capsules to Mir from Plesetsk, rather than being dependent on the launch facilities in Kazakhstan. Start 1/2 (Russia) Start-1 0/1 ??? 600 ??? $7m ? (1320) The Start program began with the START vehicle derived form the Soviet SS-20. In order to avoid conflict over arms control agreements, the project switched to the Start-1 vehicle, which is derived from Russian SS-25 ICBM. One mission, carrying small satellites from Israel and Mexico, failed. Start seems to have enough momentum to overcom this. The fact that the rockets can be launched from a mobile transporter makes them attractive to a number of countries which do not have their own launch facilities. Vehicle | Payload kg (lbs) | Reliability | Price (nation) | LEO Polar GTO | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Titan 26/30 86.7% in last 10 years (USA) Titan II ??? 1,905 ??? 5/5 $43m (4,200) Titan IV/SRM 17,700 14,100 6,350 10/11 $315m-$360m (39,000) (31,100) (14,000) Titan IV/SRMU 21,640 18,600 8,620 0/0 $300m (47,700) (41,000) (19,000) Titan II vehicles are left over ballistic missiles which have been refurbished for space launch. They are used for polar orbiting Earth observation systems. It was a Titan II that launched Clementine. Titan IV is used mainly for large military payloads, including Milstar communications spacecraft and classified intelligence platforms. A Titan IV is also booked to launch NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn. Note that because all Titan IV launches are government missions, and most are classified, prices are subject to debate. The SRMU is an advanced solid rocket booster, which should come online in 1996. Zenit 22/25 88% (Russia) Zenit 13,740 11,380 4300 $65m (30,300) (25,090) (9480) Zenit is the newest of the large former Soviet vehicles, having come online in 1985. It suffered three consecutive failures between 1990 and 1992, but appears to have overcome those growing pains. Zenits are manufactured in Ukraine by NPO Yuznoye. Boeing recently announced a joint venture with NPO Yuznoye and the Norwegian marine engineering company Kvaerner to launch Zenits from a modified oil platform starting around 1998. Due to the lower launch site latitude and a new upper stage from RSC Energia, performance will increase. Payload to GTO will increase to about 5400 kg. Payload to LEO will be about 13,000 kg. Price is unknown at this time. Check out Boeing's web page at http://www.boeing.com/sealaunch.html for more info. SECTION 3: FUTURE LAUNCH VEHICLES ***************************************************************************** A large number of new vehicles are on the drawing boards of aerospace companies around the world. The following entries describe some of the more serious ventures. Plus signs mark those vehicles which seem most likely to make it off the launch pad. In some cases, recently defunct ventures are listed for information purposes. These are marked with an X. Information on other launch vehicle programs or further details on those listed below is welcome. X AMROC/Aquila (United States) A company called American Rocket, or AMROC has been working on developing hybrid rocket motors for launch vehicles for over ten years, and at one time looked like it might be the first small launcher on the market. The most recent configurations went by the name Aquila. Unfortunately, AMROC went bankrupt in the summer of 1995. + Angara (Russia) Russia plans to develop an all new heavy launch vehicle, perhaps to replace the Zenit, which is manufactured in the Ukraine. The Russians emphasize that Angara will use only environmentally clean propellants, unlike the Proton, which uses nitrogen tetroxide and UDMH. The vehicle is planned to come online around 2001 or so, and carry 26 tons to LEO and 4.5 tons to GEO. That would make it slightly larger than Proton. Krunichev, the manufacturer, has suggested that the first stage might eventually be made reusable. The first stage engine will be an RD-174, which is derived from the RD-170 Zenit engine. The second stage engine will be derived from the Proton upper stage. Aussroc (Australia) Aussroc is a proposed derivative of small indigenous sounding rockets currently being test fired. The last sounding rocket test failed. The current development program is a mix of university, government and industry work. An orbital launch vehicle is probably at least ten years away. Burlak/Diana (Russia/Germany) Burlak is a proposed air launched, liquid propellant booster somewhat larger than Pegasus. Payload figures suggest performance of roughly 1000 kg to LEO, and roughly 600 kg to a 700 km polar orbit. Burlak would be launched from beneath a Tu-160 Blackjack bomber. Some financial support has been received from DARA (the German space agency) and OHB System GmbH, a German firm. Estimated launch cost is around $5 million. Capricornio (Spain) Capricornio is a Spanish project to build a launcher for 100 kg class satellites to be launched from the Canary Islands. First launch is scheduled for 1997 or 1998. Total budget for development through first flight is $32 million dollars. Earlier information suggested this program had been cancelled in favor of launching the Spanish minisatellite on Pegasus. However, the program appears to have been revived. Eagle (United States) E'Prime Aerospace has proposed a small launcher based on MX missile solid rocket motors. They have received permission from the US government for use of the motors. Little recent information is available. + EELV - Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (United States) The US Air Force has the responsibility for funding development of US government ELV programs; EELV is their answer. The idea is to spend $2 billion to develop a family of vehicles which can launch all military spacecraft. Theoretically, the consolidation would mean high flight rates for one vehicle type, thus lowering unit costs. Currently four teams are designing vehicles under contracts worth $30 million each. Boeing leads a team which proposes a semi-reusable vehicle with an SSME-powered core and strap on solid boosters. Alliant Tech Systems (which bought Hercules) proposes a family of solid launchers, with an Arian V core thrown in for heavy lift missions. McDonnell Douglas is proposing modified versions of its Delta vehicles. No concrete information on Lockheed Martin's plans is available. The next design phase starts with a downselect to two teams in 1996. ESA/CNES small launchers (Europe) ESA and the French space agency CNES have considered all manner of small launchers, be they solid or liquid, air launched or ground launched. Proposals have included derivatives of Ariane, various national missile programs, or Russian vehicles like Soyuz. The current study project is the European Small Launcher (ESL), an all solid vehicle which could launch one ton into a 700 km sun-synchronous orbit for $20 million. The decision on whether or not to pursue the project will be made by the end of 1995. In the past, no small launch vehicle has ever made it beyond the study phase. Arianespace Chairman Charles Bigot said at the 1995 Paris Air Show "In the near future Arianespace has no reason to enter the market of lightsat launches with a specific launcher." Given this attitude and the very tight budgets at European space agencies, it is unlikely that Europe will field a multinational small launcher before the end of the millenium. Programs in Spain and Italy and joint ventures with Russian firms offer the best hope for European small launch capability. Italian small launchers (Italy) A variety of small launch vehicles have been studied and tested by the Italian space agency, University of Rome, and Italian aerospace firms. Generally the vehicles are derived from Scout components, since Italy has experience launching Scout rockets from their San Marco platform off the coast of Kenya. Various projects have gone by the names Vega, Zefiro, San Marco Scout, Advanced Scout, etc. Italy clearly has a strong interest in a small solid vehicle, but has not yet been able to convert that to a steady development program, due in part to instability in the government. Kistler K-1 (United States) Kistler is a new aerospace company, which plans to use private funds to develop an all reusable, two stage small launch vehicle. Tests of hardware for the K-0, a subscale engineering test vehicle, have been conducted. The Kistler fleet would include the K-1, with a payload of 2000 pounds to LEO starting around the turn of the century, and the K-2 which would carry 6000 pounds a starting a few years later. Eventually, Kistler would like to build the K-3, which could launch 20,000 lbs. The company is releasing little public information, and management and engineering shakeups have been occuring, which could affect the design and timeline for the fleet. For more information, see the Kistler homepage at http://www.newspace.com/Industry/Kistler/home.html. X OrbEx (United States) CTA had a contract with BMDO for a launch on a small "ORBital EXpress" vehicle. However, that contract has been cancelled, and CTA has put the project on indefinate hold because of a glut of small launchers. + PacAstro (United States) PacAstro now has at least three contracts; customers include KITcom of Australia which plans to launch satellites similar to Orbcomm, and the Swedish Space Corp. Much of the technology will be developed under contract with US Air Force for a sounding rocket dubbed PA-X. The PA-2 will carry 340 kg (750 lbs) to LEO or 225 kg (500 lbs) to a polar orbit for $6 million dollars. This entry will probably be updated and moved into Section 2 during the next FAQ revision. Meanwhile, check out the web site at http://www.newspace.com/AeroAstro/AA-projects.html#2.6. + Rockot (Russia/Germany) Rokot is a three stage liquid propellant launch system developed in Russia and funded in part by German companies. It will be marketed by Eurockot Launch Services GmbH. Rockot is derived from the SS-19 ICBM with an aditional upper stage, and should be able to put about 1800 kg into low orbits. Sources disagree on the schedule for the first launch. + Russian small launchers (Russia) A large number of new small launch vehicles are being designed in Russia. They are usually derived from ICBMs or SLBMs, though some are developed around existing space launch components. They differ widely in the level of "reality." Some have financial and institutional backing and even customers, while other proposals are probably just trial balloons floated by hopeful rocket engineers. The trick is figuring out which is which. A brief summary of the more viable-seeming plans: Riksha-1: Under development at NPO Energomash, to launch 1.7 tons to LEO for $10 million starting around 1999. Propellants would be LOX and liquified natural gas. Surf: Sea-launched vehicle derived from the SSN-23 and SSN-20 submarine ballistic missiles. Five, count'em five, stages. Demonstration launch planned soon. Managed by Sea Launch Investors, a joint US-Russian company. Payload of roughly two tons to LEO. Volna, Vysota, Shtil: More SLBM derivatives. Space Clipper: Air launched version of SS-24. Technically, this is a Ukraine venture, since the manufacturer is NPO Yuzhone. Rockot, Burlak, Start: Rockot and Burlak both have German backing, so they've been given their own entries above. Start actually has a flight history, and is therefore listed in Section 2 as a currently operational launch vehicle (though unfortuantely I still don't have much data on it). Scorpius/Liberty (United Sates) Microcosm Inc. of Torrance, CA has recently tested small (5000 lbf) pressure fed, ablative cooled rocket engines powered by LOX/Kerosene. They propose clustering 49 of these engines in seven side-by-side pods to create a rocket which can launch 2.2 tons to orbit for $1.7 million. Flight tests of sounding rockets testing some components are being considered for 1997. (See Av. Week, Sept 25, 1995, p 103) Seagull (Russia/Australia) Russian organizations and the Australian Space Office are discussing a project to co-produce a liquid-fueled space launcher with a capacity of about one ton into low orbit. The vehicle would be a new design, though it would use a number of existing components. Launch would take place either from Woomera or a site on the northeast coast of Australia. + VLS (Brazil) The VLS has been a long standing goal of the Agencia Espacial Brasileria and a major part of the Brazilian Complete Space Misson (MECB). The launcher is derived from the Sonda IV sounding rocket and is currently designed to put 185 kg into a 750 km orbit. First launch is currently planned for 1996 or 1997 from Brazil's Alcantara range, which is located about as close to the Equator as a launch site can get. However, the VLS first launch has been pushed back several times in the past, so that date should not be considered firm. Budget cuts and conflicts with the US over missile technology export controls have delayed the program previously. + X-34 (United States) X-34 would be a semi-reusable vehicle, with development funded in part by a $70 million contract with NASA. The project is managed by OSC and Rockwell, which are spending a total of $100 million on the project. Current plans are for the vehicle to be carried atop a NASA 747 shuttle transporter and launched at altitude. The vehicle would reach roughly half of orbital velocity and eject a satellite with an expendable upper stage to reach orbit. Estimated price is around $4 million per launch. First flight is planned for 1998 or 1999.