• Friday, July 19, 2019

UAE military satellite lost in Vega launch failure

Discussion in 'Arab Defence Forum' started by The SC, Jul 13, 2019 at 2:20 AM.

  1. The SC

    The SC ELITE MEMBER

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    [​IMG]
    A Vega rocket fired off its launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, at 9:53:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0153:03 GMT Thursday), but fell back to Earth minutes after after suffering an in-flight failure. Credit: Arianespace

    A European Vega launcher failed Wednesday night around two minutes after liftoff from French Guiana and fell into the Atlantic Ocean, destroying an Airbus-built surveillance satellite for the United Arab Emirates.

    Arianespace, the French launch service provider in charge of Wednesday night’s mission, declared a failure minutes after the 98-foot-tall (30-meter) Vega rocket took off from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern coast of South America.

    Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s executive vice president of missions, operations and purchasing, said the failure occurred around the time of ignition of the Vega rocket’s solid-fueled Zefiro 23 second stage.

    “As you have seen, about two minutes after liftoff, around the Z23 (second stage) ignition, a major anomaly occurred, resulting in the loss of the mission,” Fabreguettes said. “On behalf of Arianespace, I wish to express our deepest apologies to our customers for the loss of their payload.”

    Officials released no details Wednesday night on what may have gone awry, but Arianespace teams in French Guiana and at Avio — the Vega’s prime contractor in Italy — were analyzing data downlinked from the rocket in the hours after the accident.

    “From the first flight data analysis, we will get in the coming hours more precise information, and we will communicate to everybody at the soonest,” Fabreguettes said.

    Tracking data from the rocket also suggested something went wrong about the time of the planned ignition of the Vega rocket’s second stage around two minutes after liftoff.

    [​IMG]
    A plot showing the Vega rocket’s planned trajectory (green) and actual flight path (yellow) showed the vehicle flying off course less than three minutes after liftoff. Credit: Arianespace

    The range operations director — known by the French acronym DDO — inside the Jupiter control center in French Guiana announced ignition of the second stage, but soon confirmed the launcher was not on its planned trajectory.

    The top speed achieved by the rocket, according to telemetry data included in Arianespace’s webcast, was approximately 2.17 kilometers per second, or 4,850 mph at Plus+2 minutes, 13 seconds. The telemetry plot then showed the Vega rocket’s velocity decreasing, and the vehicle deviated below its planned ascent trajectory before falling into the Atlantic Ocean north of the Guiana Space Center.

    The Zefiro 23 motor was supposed to fire for 77 seconds, then give way to a Zefiro 9 third stage and a liquid-fueled fourth stage.

    It was not immediately clear whether range safety teams on the ground activated the Vega rocket’s destruct system after the launcher began losing altitude.

    In a press release later Wednesday night, Arianespace said an anomaly occurred shortly after ignition of the Vega’s second stage. The company said it planned to set up an independent inquiry commission to investigate the failure.

    The Vega rocket was attempting to place the Falcon Eye 1 Earth-imaging satellite into orbit for the UAE’s military. Falcon Eye 1 was the first of two identical surveillance satellites built for the UAE by French industry under an agreement negotiated in 2013.

    Wednesday night’s failure was the first for a Vega launcher after 14 consecutive successful missions since its debut in February 2012.

    [​IMG]
    The Vega rocket climbs into the night sky over French Guiana with Falcon Eye 1. Credit: Arianespace

    The four-stage Vega rocket lifted off from the European-run Guiana Space Center at 9:53:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0153:03 GMT Thursday) after a five-day delay caused by unfavorable high-altitude winds over the spaceport.
    The Vega rocket aimed to place the 2,638-pound (1,197-kilogram) Falcon Eye 1 spacecraft into a near-circular sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 379 miles (611 kilometers).

    The Vega launcher fired off its launch pad with some 680,000 pounds of thrust and turned north to place the Falcon Eye 1 payload into the targeted polar orbit. The mission was expected to last 57 minutes from liftoff through deployment of the Falcon Eye 1 spacecraft.

    The light-class Vega rocket is one of three launchers operated by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center, alongside the medium-lift Russian-made Soyuz launcher and the heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket.

    Buoyed by a flawless record going into Wednesday night’s mission, the Vega rocket has found a niche in launching Earth observation satellites for European governments and foreign customers. Before Wednesday night’s failure, the Vega rocket was 14-for-14, having launched satellites to monitor the environment, study Earth’s climate and test new space technologies.

    In partnership with ESA, Avio is developing an upgraded Vega rocket named the Vega C for an inaugural launch next year. The Vega C will use more powerful solid-fueled motors, replacing the basic Vega’s P80 first stage with a bigger P120 rocket motor, and introducing the larger Zefiro 40 second stage in place of the Zefiro 23.

    [​IMG]
    The Falcon Eye 1 spacecraft was encapsulated inside the payload fairing of its Vega launcher June 26. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – P. Baudon

    The liquid-fueled fourth stage on the Vega C is based on the upper stage currently flying on the Vega launcher, but features lighter structural components and larger propellant tanks. The Vega C will be able to loft around 4,850 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of payload mass into a 435-mile-high (700-kilometer) sun-synchronous orbit, nearly 50 percent more capability than the current Vega rocket configuration.

    Avio says the Vega C will cost about the same as the current Vega rocket — around $35 million to $40 million, according to U.S. government estimates — reflecting a reduction on a cost-per-kilogram basis. The development of the Vega C is funded in a cost-sharing arrangement between ESA and Avio.

    Arianespace has signed contracts with customers to fill at least nine more Vega and Vega C launches after Wednesday’s failed mission, according to previous statements by the company. Some of the satellites booked to fly on future Vega rockets will launch on multi-payload rideshare missions, and officials have not announced firm payload assignments for many of the flights.

    In addition to the firm backlog, ESA and European member states have committed more unspecified government missions to launch on the Vega C in the early 2020s.

    One of the Vega launches in Arianespace’s backlog is slated to deliver the UAE’s Falcon Eye 2 satellite to orbit, an identical spacecraft to the payload lost Wednesday night.

    Airbus Defense and Space built the Falcon Eye satellites, and Thales Alenia Space provided the high-resolution optical imaging payloads for both spacecraft under a contract valued at roughly 800 million euros, or about $1.1 billion at 2013 exchange rates.

    The agreement between the UAE and French industry was brokered with the backing of the French government, but a security review by the U.S. government delayed the final signature of the contract between the UAE, Airbus and Thales until 2014. The satellites use some U.S.-made components, prompting the Obama administration to put a temporary hold on the deal until officials ultimately approved the export of the U.S. parts for use by the UAE military.

    The Falcon Eye satellites are based on the French Pleiades Earth-imaging satellites launched in 2011 and 2012, and reportedly have a resolution of about 2.3 feet, or 70 centimeters, in their highest-resolution imaging mode.

    The status of the next Vega flight, which was scheduled for Sept. 10 with 42 small satellites on-board, is uncertain after Wednesday night’s launch failure.

    Arianespace’s next mission is an Ariane 5 launch from French Guiana scheduled for July 24. The Ariane 5 is set to launch with the Intelsat 39 communications satellite and the EDRS-C spacecraft, the first dedicated satellite for the European Data Relay System developed by Airbus and the European Space Agency.


    https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/07/11/uae-military-satellite-lost-in-vega-launch-failure/
     
  2. Khafee

    Khafee PROFESSIONAL

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    This is incorrect. It was the UAE who put a hold on the sats's due to US components having backdoors.
    So after 14 successful launches, this particular launch goes sideways. Something is not right.

    US BACKDOORED our satellites, claim UAE
    January 6, 2014

    A high-level UAE source said the two high-resolution Pleiades-type Falcon Eye military observation satellites contained two specific US-supplied components that provide a back door to the highly secure data transmitted to the ground station.

    https://news.hitb.org/content/us-backdoored-our-satellites-claim-uae

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/06/us_backdoored_our_satellites_claim_uae/
     
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  3. Philip the Arab

    Philip the Arab FULL MEMBER

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    Is there warranty on events like this? Who pays for the problem and replacing the satellite?
     
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  4. The SC

    The SC ELITE MEMBER

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    Obviously something is wrong.. The only failure of the Vega!?

    There must be some guarantees and insurances for the delivery.. but not sure from the satellite manufacturer, because it has delivered it to the customer..and the guarantee would cover defects of components.. this was a failure of the launch..
     
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  5. Khafee

    Khafee PROFESSIONAL

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    Insurance of the sat i.e. in case sat is lost, so launch and orbit placement, both are covered.

    But I cant say, if this launch was insured.
     
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  6. Oscar

    Oscar ADVISORS

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    The satellite was to cover the middle east besides Iran. Including areas of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
     
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  7. undertakerwwefan

    undertakerwwefan BANNED

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    The US bullied UAE with F-16E, erasing royalty payments by making a less advanced V Block 70. Could be EU bullying UAE.
     
  8. Goku

    Goku FULL MEMBER

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    UAE should look towards non US , non EU to launch' their satellites like Russia , China , India
     
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  9. undertakerwwefan

    undertakerwwefan BANNED

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    Go with China is the best. Russia is close with Israel.
     
  10. Goku

    Goku FULL MEMBER

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    China isnt close to Israel??lol
     
  11. Wilhelm II

    Wilhelm II FULL MEMBER

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    Aaaaaahhhhhhh nooooooo sadly
    But they have all plans and technologies and it can be built in less time
     
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  12. undercover JIX

    undercover JIX SENIOR MEMBER

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    [​IMG]
    Zak Doffman
    Contributor
    Cybersecurity
    I write about security and surveillance.
    investigation has been launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and French aerospace group Arianespace into the failed launch of a rocket carrying a military spy satellite into space for the United Arab Emirates. Two minutes after take-off, a "major anomaly" sent the expensive, high-tech payload into the Atlantic—the first failure for Arianespace's Vega rockets after 14 successful missions.

    The two French-built Falcon Eye satellites, of which this was the first, were designed "to provide a wholly new capability to [the UAE's] military," according to defense analysts, "representing the most advanced optics France had ever sold to another country." So much so that the program suffered significant delays as security regulations over certain component parts were worked through between France and the U.S.

    Tensions remain high in the Middle East between the U.S. and regional allies on one side, and Iran on the other. The UAE is seen by Teheran as part of that enemy axis led by the U.S. and set against Iranian interests. One of the core military objectives of the Falcon Eye satellites is to monitor UAE's borders—especially its long maritime shoreline. And when it comes to the integrity of that maritime border, given those ongoing tensions, that means monitoring the activities of Iran in the Persian Gulf.





    As such, in failing to launch the first Falcon Eye satellite, the UAE has lost a major surveillance advantage. The satellites, which include Thales optics capable of earth resolution down to 70 centimeters, fall under the operational remit of Abu Dhabi’s Space Reconnaissance Centre (SRC), and local media heralded the potential to provide the military with "state-of-the-art capabilities in Surveillance, Intelligence, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance."

    The prime contractor for the UAE satellite program is Airbus, and the defense giant's Head of Space Systems heralded Falcon Eye's "high-performance Earth-observation satellite system as providing an unrivaled observation capability to the Emirate’s Armed Forces." The two new satellites were designed for dual-use, meaning both military and civilian applications

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    Regional tensions and the continued development of Iran's offensive cyber capabilities raise the possibility of an enemy action being responsible for the unexpected launch failure. Earlier this year, reports emerged from the Middle East that Iran had failed to launch its own satellites on at least two occasions—and although the authorities in Teheran claimed those space assets were non-military, no-one was fooled.

    Less than two weeks after the second failed launch, reports appeared in the New York Times (and elsewhere) of "a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets."

    Iran's space record is poor by any measure—almost 70% of their launches have failed, compared to the 5% industry average. Washington takes the understandable view that an Iranian space program is just a ballistic missile proving program by another name. "We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of missiles and will continue our path and our military power," President Hassan Rouhani said after reports emerged of the secret U.S. program.

    The U.S. sabotage program had reportedly been years in the making and succeeded by compromising the supply chain which was equipping Iran's space program. Old school, so to speak. And while supply chain risk has not diminished, nowadays the higher-profile risk comes from offensive cyberattacks.

    Launch systems are clearly distinct from operational satellite networks, but the recent action by U.S. Cyber Command to compromise the command and control systems behind Iran's missile launches has parallels. Offensive cyber attacks are not always networked activities—this is on a different level to the largescale hacks that target civilian industries and individuals. Here, offensive action often entails the compromise of individuals or direct access to physical machines. It is planned, complex, risky. It can take months or even years to execute.

    Philip Ingram, now a defense analyst after years with British Military Intelligence, told me that attacking a satellite program not only reduces capability but also carries an "economic impact—satellites are not cheap to build or launch—and undermines national confidence." The lack of international agreements governing cyberwarfare has also made it "a free for all."

    And the threat is real. Research this month from a leading defense think tank suggested that U.S. and NATO satellite systems—carrying mission-critical data—are vulnerable to cyberattack, with "the potential to wreak havoc on strategic weapons systems and undermine deterrence by creating uncertainty and confusion: a significant and complex challenge due to the absence of a warning and speed of an attack, the difficulty of attribution, and the complexities associated with a proportionate response."

    The enemies here are China and Russia, and the implications are serious—the "critical dependency on space has resulted in new cyber risks that disproportionately affect mission assurance." Tensions with both Russia and China are intensifying. A report for the Joint Chiefs found that the U.S. is failing to deal with Russia's growing influence on the world, and this presents a national security risk. Meanwhile, the offensive cyber strategy adopted by China and its state-sponsored hackers has been a constant backdrop to the trade and security conflict underway.

    For the Chatham House authors of the report, because "both China and Russia prioritize electronic warfare, cyber attacks and superiority within the electromagnetic battlespace," and both nations have "a key focus on preventing adversarial satellite-based communication systems from impacting their operational effectiveness," the implication is that those two nations are the adversaries likely to have set out to compromise the satellite networks used by the U.S. and its allies.

    So, did Iran (acting alone or as a Chinese or Russian proxy) have a hand in the destruction of the Falcon Eye 1, which belonged to a U.S. ally? And, if so, was it physical or an electronic systems cyberattack? To ask the question another way, would Iran have sabotaged the launch if it was capable of doing so?

    Last month, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the DHS issued a blanket warning about a"recent rise in malicious cyber activity directed at United States industries and government agencies by Iranian regime actors and proxies... using destructive ‘wiper’ attacks, looking to do much more than just steal data and money."

    Also last month, the National Security Agency confirmed that "there have been serious issues with malicious Iranian cyber actions in the past. In these times of heightened tensions, it is appropriate for everyone to be alert to signs of Iranian aggression in cyberspace and ensure appropriate defenses are in place."

    "This is an interesting line of thought," Ingram told me. There is a "very real increase in offensive cyber being used by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran," with the clear potential for Iran to act as "a proxy for Russian or Chinese attacks."

    The fact is that the cyberwar in the Middle East is ongoing. The U.S. axis, that includes Israel and Saudi Arabia and the UAE is facing down Iran and its proxies. Russia and China might be visibly on the sidelines, but they are both engaged. If there was a bad actor element to the Vega rocket crashing down to earth—which is unlikely to be disclosed—it would almost certainly have involved some level of technical support from one of Beijing or Moscow.

    Ingram sees "regulating cyber warfare as like trying to put a very reluctant genie back in a bottle forcibly," and while "space programs are well protected from a cyber perspective, that doesn't preclude good old fashioned sabotage."

    Chatham House takes a much dimmer view, it doesn't see the necessary level of cyber protection being in place at all—"it would be prudent to assume that an adversary is already active in [satellite] networks and focus on resilience measures—with increased urgency for advanced techniques... to identify and respond to modern threats."

    Nothing has yet been confirmed, and so we await the results of the investigation. But given the circumstances, the rising tensions, the focus on cyberattacks in the space domain, Iran’s sabotaged rocket launches and the presence of Russia and China on the sidelines, it would be a most inopportune time to suffer a catastrophic and unexplained environmental issue or equipment failure.

    Both Arianespace and ESA were asked whether the remit of the investigation included the possibility of a state-sponsored cyberattack or sabotage. No responses had been received at the time of publishing.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdof...-satellite-to-drop-from-the-sky/#7a6df6d653b0
     
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  13. Khafee

    Khafee PROFESSIONAL

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  14. Khafee

    Khafee PROFESSIONAL

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    Quit pulling things out of thin air.
     
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  15. Arsalan

    Arsalan MODERATOR

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