Ad: Boeing Inertial Upper Stage (Sep, 1979)

What percentage of Scientific American readers could possibly be in the market for an Inertial Upper Stage? Frankly I would be worried if someone was planning to launch a satellite, stumbled across this ad and proclaimed “Aha! Now I know what to do about apogee injection!”

Next >>
2 of 2
Next >>
2 of 2


If you’ve been thinking about choosing the right upper stage to get your own spacecraft off the ground, you’re no doubt going through a little anxiety right now. What about reliability? How about performance? Who’s responsible? Costs? Accuracy? Things like that. We’d like to make a case for the Boeing Inertial Upper Stage — the only all-inclusive, worry-free, complete package available.

So let’s take your worries one at a time:

WORRY #1 What’s the chance of losing my spacecraft?
Boeing has put together the most reliable upper stage ever developed for unmanned space applications. Our work on previous space projects has given us experience to implement high reliability components and optimum subsystem design, along with redundancy, into a completely integrated IUS.

WORRY # 2 Will I get enough performance out of my mission?
The Boeing IUS can deliver 5,000 pounds of payload to geosynchronous orbit. It’ll deliver 11,000 pounds to a 4,200-nautical-mile circular orbit with 12 degrees of plane change or 2,000 pounds to a 48,000-nautical-mile circular orbit with 120 degrees of plane change. It can even put a 4,200-pound payload into low-altitude polar orbit from the Eastern Test Range.

WORRY #3 Will I have an option additional to the Space Shuttle?
The IUS also is compatible with the Titan 34-D launch vehicle, providing the potential for a backup booster.

WORRY #4 How accurate am I going to be?
Validation test measurements of positioning and velocity accuracies prove that the IUS avionics surpass all requirements for both the shuttle and Titan launches. For example, geosynchronous injection accuracy with the shuttle is 23.2 nautical miles and 20 ft/sec.

WORRY #5 Will my spacecraft have a smooth ride?
The airborne support equipment that cradles the IUS and attached spacecraft in the shuttle’s cargo bay insures a smooth, protected ride during all phases of the shuttle operation. The low response design reduces spacecraft dynamic loads to approximately one-third of that experienced without the system.

WORRY #6 Suppose something goes wrong.
The Boeing IUS uses an adaptive guidance approach which can compensate for contingencies such as off-nominal shuttle performance or time delays in deployment.

WORRY #7 Can I check out my spacecraft before I’m committed to a launch?
The airborne support equipment permits predeployment tests. It can tilt the IUS so that the spacecraft can be completely checked out from either the shuttle or a ground satellite control facility. If spacecraft systems are not performing properly, the vehicle can be restored in the shuttle and returned home for repair.

WORRY #8 How about apogee injection?
The IUS second-stage motor will provide apogee injection eliminating the need for an apogee kick motor on board the spacecraft.

WORRY #9 How much support can I get?
The IUS equipment bay module with its avionics and reaction control system can supply services to your spacecraft from lift-off through final separation. For example: eight redundant discrete commands, 3 kilowatt-hours of nominal 28 volt DC power, downlink telemetry of 4 kbps per spacecraft for up to four spacecraft and attitude control to satisfy communications and thermal requirements.

WORRY #10 What about cost of the spacecraft integration?
The Boeing IUS has already solved all problems of integration with the shuttle. Since all your spacecraft interfaces will be with or through IUS, your cost for integration will be greatly reduced.

WORRY #11 What’s the best deal for my money?
No other answer offers you such versatility and reliability. The Boeing IUS allows you to take full advantage of the total STS design at the lowest cost. Because the IUS subsystems and system configuration are made to order for your precise specification all in one neat package.

Boeing has the worry-free IUS.

  1. nlpnt says: February 17, 20086:34 pm

    Worry #12- How do I attatch it to the roof rack of my Pinto? (big evil grin)

  2. Zack says: March 16, 20084:57 pm

    Ah yes… back when the shuttle was predicted to be a viable commercial venture and by 1998 all major global companies would rely on having some type of satellite of their own!

  3. Phil says: September 21, 20117:06 pm

    The Inertial Upper Stage was supposed to be inexpensive, reliable, and safe. Well, one out of three isn’t _that_ bad.

    1) Because it became so complicated (inertial guidance system instead of spin stabilized) the costs went up, ultimately to about $90 Million per IUS. That’s about the same price as an entire medium size rocket.

    2) The IUS failed in its first flight from the shuttle – STS-6. The second of the two IUS stages failed leaving the satellite in an elliptical orbit. Fortunately the satellite had 10 times as much fuel as what it actually needed for its mission (long story) and that fuel was used with thimble-size thrusters to raise the satellite to the proper orbit over a period of several months. Another IUS on a Titan rocket also failed – it actually sent the telemetry indicating that the satellite had separated when in fact one of the cables between the upper stage and satellite were still connected!

    3) At least the IUS did live up to its reputation for safety. There was one inside Challenger’s cargo bay when the accident took place. Debris from the IUS was picked up off of the ocean floor and its propellant never ignited. After the Challenger accident the decision was made to not use a much more risky Centaur upper stage for three planetary spacecraft (Magellan, Galileo, and Ulysses) and they all flew with IUSes instead.

    I suspect this ad was primarily targeted at lobbiests and politicians. Before the era of commercial rockets NASA always knew which upper stages would be used for any given satellite and it was extremely rare to have a competition where multiple companies had similar enough upper stages to compete to launch a satellite.

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.