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SPACE FLIGHT 2002 -- United States Space Activities
 

Launch activities in the United States in 2002 showed a further downturn from the already low level of the previous year. There were 18 NASA, DOD, and commercial launch attempts, all of them successful (2001: 23 out of 24 attempts).

Space shuttle. The four reusable shuttle vehicles of the U.S. Space Transportation System (STS) continued carrying people and payloads to and from Earth orbit. During 2002, five shuttle mission were conducted, one less than in 2001, four of them for supply, logistics, outfitting, crew rotation and orbital assembly of the ISS (details see International Space Station), one for repairing and upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope . For the human space flight program, the year was particularly significant in that two of the shuttle missions involved crew rotation, i.e., replacement of resident crews on the ISS.

STS-109. On the fourth "service call" to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), March 1-12, Columbia, after undergoing more than 100 improvements since its last flight (STS-93), including a weight reduction of over 1000 lbs, started its 27th flight at 6:22am EST, crewed by Scott D. Altman, Duane G. Carey, John M. Grunsfeld, Nancy J. Currie, Richard M. Linnehan, James H. Newman, and Michael J. Massimino. Degraded Freon flow rate in one of two cooling loops of the orbiter did not impact its mission, during which HST received new, more durable solar arrays (SA) with their diode boxes (DBAs), a large gyroscopic Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) for pointing, a new power control unit (PCU), a new advanced camera for surveys (ACS) and an experimental cryocooler to restore the dormant Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) to operation. The crew conducted five highly successful space walks: EVA-1 (Grunsfeld, Linnehan) on March 4 (1:37am, for 7h1m) to install the starboard SA and its DBA; EVA-2 (Newman, Massimino) on March 5 (1:40am, 7h16m) for the port SA and DBA plus the RWA; EVA-3 (Grunsfeld, Linnehan) on March 6 (3:28am, 6h48m, delayed 2h by a water leak in Grunsfeld's spacesuit) to replace the PCU; EVA-4 (Newman, Massimino) on March 7 (4:00am, 7h30min) for the ACS and its electronics box; and EVA-5 (Grunsfeld, Linnehan) on March 8 (3:46am, 7h20m) to install the NICMOS cryocooler. Total STS-109 EVA-time: 35h55m. Total number of HST service EVAs to date: 18, by 14 different astronauts, totaling 129h10m. After reboost on March 8 (12:18pm) by about 4 miles (6.4 km), HST was deployed from Columbia on March 9 (5:04am). Landing at KSC after a fully accomplished mission occurred on March 12 (4:32am EST).

Advanced transportation systems activities. NASA's new five-year Space Launch Initiative (SLI) project, announced in 2001, is continuing, with 22 contracts awarded to industry in 2001 for developing the technologies that will be used to build an operational RLV before 2015.

As a cost-saving measure in a time of severe budget overruns for the ISS, NASA discontinued previously started work on a Crew Return Vehicle (CRV). CRV was intended to eventually take over the emergency lifeboat function for the space station from the currently chosen Russian Soyuz three-seater capsules, by providing a shirtsleeve environment for seven crewmembers in reclined couches, standard-sized for 95% of all U.S. males. The planned full-scale flight testing of the X-38 prototype test vehicle, dropped from a B-52 and landing it under a large parafoil, was terminated in 2002.

Space sciences and astronomy. In 2002, the U.S. launched three civil science spacecraft, down from six in the previous year: RHESSI, CONTOUR, and Aqua. This is a drop from the trend, exhibited to date since 1995, of markedly increased numbers of civil satellites developed and launched by NASA after a switch in development strategy, shortly after the loss in August 1993 of the Mars Observer, from large, expensive satellites to smaller and more numerous ones.

RHESSI. RHESSI (Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager, in honor of the late NASA scientist who pioneered the fields of solar-flare physics, gamma-ray astronomy and cosmic ray research), the latest member of NASA's Small Explorer class spacecraft, was launched on February 5, 2002 on a Pegasus XL vehicle dropped from an L1011 aircraft that had taken off from Kennedy Space Center, and successfully reached its orbit (587 x 600 km, 38 degree inclination). RHESSI's primary mission is to explore the basic physics of particle acceleration and explosive energy release in solar flares, using advanced imaging and spectroscopy instruments. Among its early accomplishments: observation of a spectacular X-class (extremely large) solar flare on April 21, which exploded on the western limb of the Sun and was captured by RHESSI and the TRACE (Transition Region and Coronal Explorer) spacecraft, as well as many other spacecraft and ground-based observatories. The combined RHESSI and TRACE data yielded beautiful time-lapse movies, and reveal important new physics. Other RHESSI "firsts" include imaging in narrow gamma-ray lines, high-resolution X-ray and gamma-ray spectra of cosmic sources, and hard X-ray images of the Crab Nebula with 2 arc second resolution.

CONTOUR. NASA's Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft, launched July 3, 2002, on a Delta 2 vehicle, was a disappointing failure. Designed to demonstrate the "cheaper, better, faster" approach to space science exploration as sixth mission in NASA's Discovery program, CONTOUR was to investigate the nucleus of comets, with a first visit to comet Encke in November 2003 and an intercept of comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 in June 2006. After orbiting the Earth for more than a month, the probe was to ignite its solid-propellant rocket injection stage, necessary for escaping Earth's gravity pull and heading out for its comet encounters. At the time of the critical ignition of the 50-second burn, however, the spacecraft fell silent, and it became apparent later that it exploded at about 225 km above the Indian Ocean.

Hubble Space Telescope. Twelve years after it was placed in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) continued to probe far beyond the Solar System, producing imagery and data useful across a range of astronomical disciplines to expand our knowledge of the universe. Hubble was and is making discoveries at a rate that is unprecedented for a single observatory, and its contributions to astronomy and cosmology are wide-ranging. During the repair, maintenance and upgrade mission by STS-109 (see above), the HST, among else, received the new Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) which provides spectacular new glimpses of galaxies and other distant objects only imagined or hinted at before. In 2002, astronomers using the HST made a precise measurement of the mass of a world outside our solar system, the planet Gliese 876b, in orbit around the star Gliese 876. The Hubble results show that the planet is 1.89 to 2.4 times as massive as Jupiter, our solar system's largest orbiting body. Gliese 876b is only the second planet outside our solar system for which astronomers have determined a precise mass. Among else, the HST also measured the largest object discovered in the solar system since the discovery of Pluto 72 years ago. Approximately half the size of Pluto, the icy world is called "Quaoar" (pronounced kwa-whar), about four billion miles away, i.e., more than a billion miles farther than Pluto. Like Pluto, Quaoar dwells in the Kuiper belt, an icy belt of comet-like bodies extending seven billion miles beyond Neptune's orbit. Multiple observations made over several months with the HST and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory captured the spectacle of matter and antimatter propelled to near the speed of light by the Crab pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star the size of Manhattan. Also in 2002, NASA published "Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy," which brings the wonders of the universe to the fingertips of the blind. The 64-page book presents HST color images of planets, nebulae, stars, and galaxies, each one embossed with raised lines, bumps, and other textures which translate colors, shapes, and other intricate details of the cosmic objects.

Chandra Observatory. Launched on July 23, 1999, on shuttle mission STS-93, the massive (12,930 lbs./5,870 kg) Chandra X-ray Observatory uses a high-resolution camera, high-resolution mirrors and a charge-coupled detector (CCD) imaging spectrometer to observe, via X-rays, some of the most violent phenomena in the universe which cannot be seen by the Hubble's visual-range telescope. Throughout its third year of operation, Chandra continued to provide scientists with views of the high-energy universe never seen before which promise to revolutionize astronomical and cosmological concepts. After NASA had formally extended the operational mission of Chandra from five years to 10 years in September 2001, including the science grants that fund astronomers to analyze their data and publish their results, during 2002, for the first time, astronomers tracked the life cycle of X-ray jets from a black hole. A series of images from Chandra revealed that as the jets evolved, they traveled at near light speed for several years before slowing down and fading. In 2002, Chandra provided the best X-ray image yet of two Milky Way-like galaxies in the midst of a head-on collision, in the galaxy Arp 220, which probably triggered the formation of huge numbers of new stars, sent shock waves rumbling through intergalactic space, and could likely lead to the formation of a supermassive black hole in the center of the new conglomerate galaxy. Since all galaxies - including our own - may have undergone mergers, this provides insight into how the universe came to look as it does today.

Galileo. In 2002, Galileo (launched 1989) continued to return unprecedented data on Jupiter and its satellites. On November 4, conducting its last flyby of a Jupiter moon, Galileo reached the closest point to the spectacular volcanic satellite Io, passing it by 45,250 km (28,100 miles), over twice the distance that Voyager 1 flew by in 1979. The spacecraft passed by Io's orbit at about six Jupiter radii (429,000 km/267,000 miles) from the planet on its way in to the inner system, and the radiation at this point in the orbit was becoming fierce enough that its star scanner and attitude control software could not properly determine the orientation of the spacecraft. Thus, the software was placed in hibernation for nine hours, to ignore the signals from the star scanner and remember its last calculated orientation and spin rate (which remained unchanged). A few hours later, Galileo reached its closest point to the tiny moon Amalthea, an irregularly-shaped satellite of approximately 270 km (168 miles) across its longest dimension. Closest flyby distance to the surface of the body was 160 km (99 miles), at a speed relative to Amalthea of 18.4 km/sec (41,160 mph), taking less than 15 seconds to pass by. During the flyby, on November 5, Jupiter's radiation dealt Galileo a temporarily crippling blow by causing a failure in computer circuitry that handles timing of the events on the spacecraft, shutting down operations. The problem was with gallium-arsenide light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which were later repaired by "annealing" their crystal structure with an electric current. Stored science data from the last flyby were then transmitted to Earth. Galileo is now nearly out of the hydrazine propellant needed to keep its antenna pointed toward Earth and do maneuvers. After a last loop away from Jupiter, the 14-year old space probe will finally perish in a fiery plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere on September 21, 2003, to ensure that there is no chance the long-lived spacecraft might hit (and possibly contaminate) Europa.

Cassini. NASA's six-ton spacecraft Cassini continued its epic 6.7-year, 3.2-billion-km journey to the planet Saturn. During 2002, the spacecraft continued to fly in excellent health, with two years to go before it becomes the first Earth envoy to enter orbit around the ringed planet Saturn, on July 1, 2004. About six months after orbit insertion, it will release its piggybacked European-built Huygens probe for descent through the thick atmosphere of the moon Titan on January 14, 2005. On April 3, 2002, Cassini successfully completed a course correction. To accomplish the maneuver, using new procedures that the mission will employ for course adjustments while orbiting Saturn, the spacecraft fired its main engine for 9.8 sec. The engine burn, the 13th since launch and the first since February 2001, was planned both for "tweaking" Cassini's trajectory and for routine maintenance of the propulsion system: to keep fuel-lines flowing freely, engineers do not allow the spacecraft to go much longer than one year between engine firings. By April 28, 2002, Cassini had traveled three billion kilometers (about 1.9 billion miles) since its launch in October 1997. On December 17, 2002, Earth and Saturn had their closest encounter in nearly 30 years. Since, furthermore, the planet's rings were tipped toward Earth, sky watchers could easily see Saturn's rings using backyard telescopes or binoculars.

WMAP. NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Mission (MAP), now called the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, had been launched on June 30, 2001, on a Delta-2. Located in an orbit around the second Lagrange libration point L2, its differential radiometers measure the temperature fluctuations of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) with unprecedented accuracy. The CMBR is the light left over from the Big Bang, and the whole Universe is bathed in this afterglow light. It is the oldest light in the Universe, having traveled across the cosmos for 14 billion years, and the patterns in this light across the sky encode a wealth of details about the history, shape, content, and ultimate fate of the Universe. During the 12 months of 2002, scientists produced the first version a full sky map of the faint anisotropy or variations in the CMBR's temperature. One of the biggest surprises revealed in the data is that the first generation of stars to shine in the universe first ignited only 200 million years after the Big Bang, much earlier than many scientists had expected.

Genesis. The solar probe Genesis, launched on August 8, 2001, on a Delta 2 rocket, had gone into a perfect orbit about the first Earth-Sun Lagrangian libration point L1 of gravitational stability between Earth and the Sun on November 16, 2001. After the unconventional "Lissajous Orbit Insertion" (LOI), Genesis began the first of five "halo" loops around L1, lasting about 30 months. Collection of samples of solar wind material expelled from the Sun started on December 3, 2001. One year later, on December 10, 2002, with the spacecraft in overall good health and spinning at 1.6 rotations per minute, its orbit around L1 was fine-tuned with the seventh of 15 planned station-keeping maneuvers during the lifetime of the mission. Next year, after 29 months in orbit, the sample collectors will be re-stowed and returned to Earth, where the sample return capsule will be recovered in mid-air by helicopter over the Utah desert in September 2004.

ACE & Wind. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), launched on August 25, 1997 to the libration point L1, about 1.5 million km from Earth and 148.5 million km from the Sun, is positioned in a halo orbit around L1, where gravitational forces are in equilibrium, ACE in 2002 continued to observe, determine and compare the isotopic and elemental composition of several distinct samples of matter, including the solar corona, the interplanetary medium, the local interstellar medium and galactic matter. With a semi-major axis of approximately 200,000 km the elliptical orbit affords ACE a prime view of the Sun and the galactic regions beyond. The spacecraft has enough propellant on board to maintain an orbit at L1 until ~2019. Wind, launched on November 1, 1994, as part of the International Solar-Terrestrial Project (ISTP), was first placed in a sunward, multiple double-lunar swingby orbit with a maximum apogee of 350 Earth radii, followed by a halo orbit at the L1 point. The spacecraft carries an array of scientific instruments for measuring the charged particles and electric and magnetic fields that characterize the interplanetary medium (or solar wind) - a plasma environment. Nearly continuous plasma measurements made by WIND near Earth are being used to investigate the disturbances and changes in the solar wind that drive important geomagnetic phenomena in the near-Earth geospace (such as aurorae and magnetic storms), as detected by other satellites and ground-based instruments.

Stardust. . NASA's comet probe Stardust was launched on February 3, 1999 on a Delta 2 to begin its mission to intercept a comet and return close-up imagery to Earth. Also, for the first time ever, comet dust and interstellar dust particles will be collected during a close encounter with Comet Wild-2 in 2004 and returned to Earth for analysis. Stardust's trajectory is making three loops around the Sun before its closest approach to the comet in January 2004. After one solar orbit, an Earth flyby was used to boost the spacecraft orbit on 15 January 2001 and a second period of interstellar dust collection was opened July to December 2002. On 2 November 2002 Stardust passed within 3000 km of asteroid 5535 Anne Frank, at 7 km/sec relative velocity. A second orbit of the sun will be completed in mid-2003 and the comet P/Wild 2 encounter will take place on January 2, 2004, with a closest approach of about 150 km at a relative velocity of about 6.1 km/sec, at 1.85 AU (astronomical units) from the Sun and 2.6 AU from Earth. The sample collector will be deployed in late December 2003 and will be retracted, stowed, and sealed in the sample vault of the sample reentry capsule after the fly-by. Images of the comet nucleus will also be obtained, with predicted coverage of the entire sunlit side at a resolution of 30 m or better. On 15 January 2006 the capsule will separate from the main craft (with a stabilizing spin of 1.5 rpm) and return to Earth. A parachute will be deployed and the descending capsule will be recovered by a chase aircraft over the U.S. Air Force Test and Training Range in the Utah desert.

Ulysses. In 2002, the joint European/NASA solar polar mission Ulysses continued. Launched in 1990 on shuttle mission STS-41 to study the Sun's polar regions the mission in 2002 was in its twelfth year, and all spacecraft systems and the nine sets of scientific instruments remain in excellent health. Ulysses arrived over the sun's south polar regions for the second time in November 2000, followed by the rapid transit from maximum southern to maximum northern helio-latitudes that was completed in October 2001. Solar activity reached its maximum in 2000, so that Ulysses experienced a very different high-latitude environment from the one it encountered during the first high-latitude passes. The spacecraft is now heading away from the sun towards aphelion at the end of June 2004. Ulysses' signals are transmitted to its operations center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Pioneer 10. Launched from Cape Kennedy in 1972 aboard an Atlas/Centaur on a mission to Jupiter planned for only two years, the 570-lbs. (258-kg) Pioneer 10 has become the Earth's longest-lived interplanetary explorer, as it continues on its epic voyage to the stars as contact with it is still maintained by NASA's Deep Space Network. By end-2002 at a distance of 12.10 billion kilometers (7.52 billion miles) from Earth and 81.86 AU from the Sun, Pioneer 10 is passing through the transitional region between the farthest traces of the Sun's atmosphere, the heliosphere, still noticeable at that distance, and free intergalactic space. Signals transmitted by the little spacecraft today need 11 hours 12 minutes to reach Earth. Its course is pointed in the direction of the star Aldebaran, the "eye" of the constellation Taurus at a distance of 68 light-years (LY), which it will reach in two million years. But before that, at its current speed of 45,000 km/h (28,000 mph) the spacecraft will pass the red dwarf Proxima Centauri in 26,118 years, come within 3.2 LY of the red dwarf star Ross-248 in the Andromeda Nebula in 32,605 years, and fly by the white giant star Altair in 227,068 years. There was one more Pioneer 10 contact on December 5, 2002. The Deep Space Station (DSS) near Madrid found the weak signal but could not lock onto the receiver, and so no telemetry was received (the signal level was just under the threshold value). The uplink from Goldstone, California, sent December 4, 2002, at a power level of 325 kw, confirmed that the spacecraft signal is still there. Project Phoenix also picked up the signal from Pioneer 10 at Arecibo in Puerto Rico.

Mars exploration. After the stunning failures of two Mars probes in 1999, NASA's Mars exploration program rebounded in 2001 and 2002. The Red Planet moved back into the focus of scientific inquiry, with new discoveries on the turbulent past of the planet's surface and atmosphere. In its newly developed plan, the NASA Exploration Team (NEXT) looked at buying exploration "by the yard", starting at the libration point between Earth and Moon and gradually moving outward. Such planning is supported by NASA's new space nuclear power initiative. Also in 2002, NASA narrowed the list of possible landing sites for the two Mars Exploration Rover missions, to be launched in 2003, down to four.

Mars Odyssey. The Mars Odyssey probe, launched April 7, 2001, successfully reached Mars on October 24 after a six-month and 286-million mile journey. Entering a highly elliptical orbit around the poles of the Red Planet, it began to change orbit parameters by aerobraking, reduce its ellipticity to a circular orbit at 400 km by end of January 2002. The orbiter is circling Mars for at least three years, with the objective of conducting a detailed mineralogical analysis of the planet's surface from space and measuring the radiation environment. During 2002, the mission proceeded exceptionally well, with its instruments collecting a huge volume of data and transmitting detailed observations to Earth highlighting water ice distribution and infrared images of the Red Planet's surface. The mission has as its primary science goals to gather data to help determine whether the environment of Mars was ever conducive to life, to characterize the climate and geology of the planet, and to study potential radiation hazards to possible future astronaut missions. The orbiter will also act as a communications relay for future missions to Mars over a period of five years.

Mars Global Surveyor (MGS). MGS completed its primary mission at the end of January 2001 and entered an extended mission. The spacecraft has returned more data about the Red Planet than all other missions combined. After its arrival at Mars on September 11, 1997, MGS started a long series of aerobrake passes around the planet and, after reaching its operational orbit early in 1999, began its mapping mission on March 9. For the first three weeks, the mission proceeded with the spacecraft's 1.5-m (5 ft) high-gain antenna stowed due to concerns about the proper operation of its deployment mechanism. On March 28, 1999, the antenna was successfully deployed. Since then, MGS has been transmitting a steady stream of high-resolution images of Mars, which showed that the Red Planet is a world constantly being reshaped by forces of nature including shifting sand dunes, monster dust devils, wind storms, frosts and polar ice caps that grow and retreat with the seasons. In 2001, it sent back its 100,000th image of the Martian surface and, in tandem with the Hubble Space Telescope, had a ringside seat to the largest global dust storm on the Martian surface seen in decades. In 2002, imagery and transmissions continued.

Earth Science.

Aqua. In 2002, NASA launched Aqua, the latest Earth Observing System (EOS) spacecraft. The 1750 kg (3858 lb) satellite, carrying six instruments weighing 1082 kg (2385 lb) designed to collect information on water-related activities worldwide, was placed in a polar, sun-synchronous orbit of 438 miles (705 km) altitude by a commercial Boeing Delta 2 rocket on May 4 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). During its six-year mission, Aqua will observe changes in ocean circulation and study how clouds and surface water processes affect our climate. The mission is collecting huge amounts of information about the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, water vapor in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional variables being measured include radiative energy fluxes, aerosols, vegetation cover on the land, phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans, and air, land, and water temperatures. This information will help scientists better understand how global ecosystems are changing, and how they respond to and affect global environmental change. The Aqua mission, formerly named EOS PM (signifying its afternoon equatorial crossing time), is a part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observing System (EOS). Aqua joins Terra, launched in 1999, and will be followed by Aura in 2004.

POES-M. On June 24, the operational weather satellite POES-M (Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites-M) was launched from VAFB on a commercial Titan 2 rocket. The satellite, now called NOAA-M is part of the POES program, a cooperative effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom (UK), and France. It joined the GOES-M launched in July 2001. Both satellites, operated by NOAA, provide global coverage of numerous atmospheric and surface parameters for weather forecasting and meteorological research.

GRACE. Launched on March 17 on a Russian Rockot launcher, the twin satellites GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), named "Tom" and "Jerry", are able to map the Earth's gravity fields by making accurate measurements of the distance between the two satellites, using GPS and a microwave ranging system. This allows making detailed measurements of Earth's gravity field which will lead to discoveries about gravity and Earth's natural systems with possibly far-reaching benefits to society and the world's population. GRACE provides scientists from all over the world with an efficient and cost-effective way to map the Earth's gravity fields with unprecedented accuracy, yielding crucial information about the distribution and flow of mass within the Earth and its surroundings. The project is a joint partnership between NASA and the German DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt). .

Department of Defense space activities. United States military space organizations continued their efforts to make space a routine part of military operations across all service lines. One focus concerns plans for shifting the advanced technology base toward space in order to build a new technology foundation for more integrated air and space operations in the 21st century as space is becoming increasingly dominant in military reconnaissance, communications, warning, navigation, missile defense and weather-related areas. Many of the recommendations from the Space Commission Report, also known as the Rumsfield Commission Report, were implemented in 2002. The use of space systems within military operations reached a new and distinct mark in 2002 for the war on terrorism and operations in Afghanistan. The increased use of satellites for communications, observations, and - through the Global Positioning System (GPS) - navigation and high-precision weapons targeting was of decisive importance for the military command structure.

In 2002, there was one military space launch: the fifth Milstar FLT satellite on a Titan-4B/Centaur from Cape Canaveral, Florida, completing the ring of communications satellites around the Earth and providing ultrasecure, jam-resistant transmission for troops and government leaders virtually anywhere on the planet.

Commercial space activities. In 2002, commercial space activities in the United States exhibited slow recovery from the 2001 crisis in the communications space market caused by failures of satellite constellations for mobile telephony. Iridium Satellite LLC, having bought the assets of bankrupt Iridium LLC in 2000, launched seven satellites in 2002 which ensured the life span of the mobile-phone satellite constellation to at least mid-2010 (five on a U.S. Delta 2, two on the new Russian commercial Rockot/Briz-KM).

In addition to the financial crisis, some difficulties remained due to the export restrictions imposed to the US industry on sensitive technologies. In general, commercial ventures continue to play a relatively minor role in US space activities, even less than in 2001 (50%), amounting in 2002 to about 26% of commercial satellites and associated launch services worldwide.

Of the 18 total launch attempts by the United States in 2002 (vs. 24 in 2001), eight carried commercial payloads (NASA: 9; military: 1). In the launch services area, Boeing launched three Delta-2 vehicles, same as Lockheed Martin with three Atlas 2A. Both companies also had successful first launches of their next-generation EELV (evolved expendable launch vehicle) rockets, Lockheed Martin with the Atlas 5 Hot Bird 6 comsat), and Boeing with the Delta 4 (Eutelsat W5 comsat). Orbital Science Corp. (OSC) had a successful launch of NASA's RHESSI with a Pegasus XL airplane-launched rocket, and the partnership of Boeing, RSC-Energia (Russia), NPO Yushnoye (Ukraine) and Kvaerner Group (Norway) launched a Russian Zenit 3SL rocket, carrying PanAmSat's Galaxy 3C geosynchronous comsat, successfully from the Odyssey sea launch platform floating at the Equator.