December 7, 1998 This is an initial assessment of information contained in certain documents provided to the Department of Defense by the Department of Commerce in July of 1998 that relate to the conduct of a failure investigation by Hughes Space and Communications Company in 1995, in connection with the failed launch of an Apstar II satellite in China. The conclusions are limited to the information that DoD derived from those documents. This initial assessment has been prepared in response to requests from Congress. INTRODUCTION The Hughes Space and Communications Company (hereinafter referred to as "Hughes") prepared certain reports and other documents containing the findings and supporting analyses of its investigation of the January 1995 failure of the launch of a China Long March 2E (LM-2E) rocket-carrying Hughes-manufactured ASTAR II commercial communications satellite. During the course of the investigation, Hughes provided documents to, and conducted the investigation jointly with, Chinese nationals, including at least the Chinese Academy of Launch Technology (CALT), the LM-2E manufacturer, and the Chinese launch service provider, the China Great Wall Industries Corporation (CGWIC). Hereinafter, this assessment will refer to these entities collectively as the "Chinese". At various times between February and August 1995, Hughes submitted these reports and documents to the Department of Commerce for review and approval for release to China. Hughes provided copies of these documents to the Chinese. The documents indicate that some of the information contained in them was previously imparted to the Chinese in briefings and discussions prior to submission to Commerce. Commerce determined that the documents only contained information already authorized for export under the original Commerce license issued to Hughes in February 1994. Commerce did not consult with DoD on whether the documents contained information that should not be released to the Chinese launch service provider or on any other aspect of the launch failure investigation conducted by Hughes with the Chinese. As a result, DoD did not review or monitor the technical exchanges between Hughes and the Chinese. After Commerce revealed the existence of these reports and other documents during interagency preparations for June 1998 Congressional hearings on satellite exports for launch in China, DoD asked Commerce to provide the subject documents for DoD's review. In July 1998, Commerce provided DoD copies of documents concerning Hughes' investigation of the APSTAR II launch failure. A list of these documents is in the Appendix. Also in July 1998, the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs inquired whether DoD had reviewed these materials and assessed whether U.S. national security interests had been harmed. Since that time, other committees of Congress have also posed similar queries to DoD. The Technology Security Directorate of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency made the following assessment of these documents on behalf of DoD, with the assistance of the National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC). The scope of this assessment was limited to the Department of Commerce. For the review of the documents provided to DoD by preparation of this assessment DoD did not have access to all Hughes or Chinese records relating to the launch failure investigation, including technical appendices and briefing materials referred to in the subject documents. Commerce advised DoD that it did not have copies of the appendices referenced in the Hughes documents it provided DoD. DoD understands that the Department of State is seeking additional documentation from Hughes. The conclusions of this assessment are based on the material contained in the Hughes documents provided by Commerce. For ease of reference, these materials are referred in this assessment as "the Hughes/Apstar materials," Given the incompleteness of the record in this matter, DoD's findings and conclusions are necessarily preliminary in nature. THE LAUNCH FAILURE On January 26, 1995, approximately 52 seconds into flight, a Chinese LM-2E carrying the APSTAR II (a Hughes 601 commercial communications satellite) failed. This was the LM-2E's second failure. The first failure of the LM-2E in December 1992 involved an attempted launch of the Hughes OPTUS B-2 commercial communications satellite. Following the APSTAR II failure, there was disagreement between Hughes and the Chinese about whether the principal cause of the failure was the launch vehicle or the satellite. The subsequent joint Hughes-Chinese failure investigation was apparently intended, at least in part, to resolve this dispute. THE INVESTIGATIVE TEAMS The Hughes/Apstar materials indicate that immediately following the launch failure, Hughes President Don Cromer established several teams to conduct the launch failure investigation, as described below. The Failure Investigation Team (Failure Team): This team consisted of twelve persons with overall responsibility for the investigation was chartered to examine all aspects of the failure, including the satellite and the launch vehicle. The Failure Team was also responsible for "external interfaces," including with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), the China Great Wall Industries Corporation (CGWIC), the insurance companies, and the U.S. Government. The 38-page report produced by this team is one of the documents Commerce provided to DoD in July 1998 for purposes of this assessment. The report noted that the Failure Team members also had worked on the OPTUS B-2 failure investigation(1). The Failure Team had seven specialty sub-teams who were assigned the following areas: Spacecraft Debris; Material Properties; Video Analysis; Telemetry; Coupled Loads, Structures; and Aerodynamics. The Spacecraft Focus Team (Spacecraft Team): The Spacecraft Team consisted of six persons who were chartered to review the work of the Failure Team and independently assess whether and how the satellite might have contributed to the launch failure. The 84-page report produced by this team is one of the documents Commerce provided to DoD in July 1998 for purposes of this assessment. However, the report provided to DoD did not include several technical appendices referenced in the report. The Independent Review Team (Independent Team): The Independent Team consisted of six persons and was chartered to provide Hughes with an independent assessment of the failure by reviewing the work of the other teams, The team members were all current or former aerospace experts. The chair, a retired executive of the Aerospace Corporation, had extensive exper7ence in launch vehicles, spacecraft and launch operations. Two of the members were retired from Hughes. The others were retired from or affiliated with other aerospace firms. The only documentation of this team's work provided to DoD by Commerce was a one-page executive summary of the team's conclusions. International Oversight Team (International Team): In anticipation that Hughes and the Chinese might differ, an International Oversight Team was created to review the work of each side. This team consisted of three persons: a chairman, Pierre Madon (an Intelsat official whose nationality is not noted), and representatives from the Chinese and Hughes. The Hughes representative also served as the chair of the Independent Team. No documents were provided to DoD concerning the deliberations of this team. The International Oversight Team met on three separate occasions over the April to June period during which the results of the investigation were discussed. As noted above, there were several sub-teams of the Failure Team that were formed to investigate the launch failure. The specific membership of these sub-teams is not noted in any of the reports or documents provided to DoD. It is likely that the work of these sub-teams was not done exclusively by members of the Failure Team because one of the tasks of the Failure Team was to coordinate all of Hughes' resources being devoted to the failure analysis. The sub-teams performed separate analyses and presented their findings to the Failure and Independent Teams. A summary was presented to the International Oversight Team, according to information contained in the Hughes/Apstar materials. However, briefing charts or other text of this summary were not among the documents Commerce provided to DoD. DoD believes it is also likely that these sub-teams provided some of the principal interfaces between Hughes and the Chinese in the preparation of individual analytical pieces of the decision tree approach for defining the likely root cause of the failure. This conclusion is based on information in the Hughes/Apstar materials concerning how the sub-teams worked. In one case, for example, Hughes reported that a sub-team worked "beside" Chinese engineers "to review and participate in Coupled Loads Analysis methodology." The teams apparently included experts in a variety of engineering disciplines, although the precise nature of the analyses performed and the composition of skills of the team members cannot be ascertained from the Hughes/Apstar materials reviewed by DoD. OVERVIEW OF THE CONDUCT OF THE FAILURE INVESTIGATION (2) The investigation began in late January 1995 when the Failure Team traveled to China to view the recovered debris of both the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. Three days of meetings were held at the launch site between the Hughes Failure Team and the Chinese. The Failure Team received video material and launch vehicle telemetry from the Chinese. This process began what became an extended period of formal interactions between the Failure Team and the Chinese which included at least five, two-day joint meetings over the February-June 1995 time frame In China and another two-day meetings over February-June 1995 time in China and another two-day meeting in Los Angeles in April. In addition, the International Team met three times: one day April in Washington, D.C., two days in May in Beijing, and two days in June in Los Angeles. Video of the launch examined by Hughes and the Chinese early in the investigation showed that there was a noticeable glow observed coming from the payload fairing or shroud as the LM-2E launch vehicle ascended. Soon thereafter, fire was visibly streaming down the side of the LM-2E. Catastrophic failure occurred when the stream of fire reached the LM-2E main engines. The Chinese asserted that the glow indicated that the satellite fuel tanks had ruptured, spilling and then igniting the satellite fuel. Telemetry also confirmed a breakwire failure, which Hughes interpreted as an indication of the likely loss of fairing integrity that would indicate a Chinese launch vehicle responsibility. The fairing is part of the launch vehicle and is the shroud or cover sitting atop the launch vehicle that houses the satellite payload. The fairing consists of two sections or halves and a two-section dome, It is designed and manufactured-by the launch vehicle provider to encapsulate payloads (including, but not limited to, satellites). The fairing must be designed as an integral part of the launch vehicle system as determine the success of the launch. The breakwire is a continuity wire across the fairing which, when broken, indicates a separation of the halves of the fairing. According to the Hughes/Apstar materials, the disagreement between Hughes and the Chinese focussed on two views of the cause of the launch failure: (1) the Chinese claim that the satellite was defective as evidenced by satellite fuel igniting; and (2) Hughes' claim that the satellite was a contributing factor only after the launch vehicle fairing had failed which exposed the satellite to catastrophic conditions. Because of the disagreement, the failure investigation undertook to examine in a very thorough and methodical manner all of the potential causes of the launch failure, including the two hypotheses offered by the Chinese and Hughes. Hughes' satellite and fairing debris analysis, much of which was shared with the Chinese, determined that the satellite fuel tanks had ruptured in a manner that suggested the satellite structure had collapsed on its fuel tanks. Thus, the satellite appeared to have experienced a significant load or stress condition. The investigation also examined the fairing and the loss of the breakwire telemetry signal. Upon examination of the fairing debris, Hughes found scratches and wear on the fairing dome that indicated the dome may have collapsed on itself. Loss of the fairing breakwire signal could indicate a loss of fairing integrity, either due to the fiberglass dome of the fairing or a zipper (which holds the two halves of the fairing together) failure. Hughes created a detailed timeline of events based on data gathered both from visual and LM-2E telemetry. From this timeline, it was observed that the breakwire failure came before the fairing glow and while the spacecraft was still intact. The Hughes/Apstar materials indicate that subsequent analysis focussed on the loads (or static and dynamic forces or stresses) experienced by the launch vehicle and satellite payload during the flight, Including an examination of the fairing and satellite structure and design. Much of the work in these areas, especially in modeling and loads analysis, involved significant interaction between Hughes and Chinese experts. This Included a thorough review of the LM-2E Coupled Loads Analysis which had been originally performed by the Chinese. Coupled Loads Analysis simulates and assesses the interplay of the loads on the launch vehicle during flight, including interaction between the satellite and the launch vehicle which are stacked one on top of the other. This analysis is based upon a finite element model which is a mathematical representation of specified grid points that define the physical body of the spacecraft. Finite element analysis is the analysis of structural stress about the spacecraft body grid points. Coupled Loads Analysis combines the spacecraft and launch vehicle models for loads analysis. Information contained in the Hughes/Apstar materials indicates that, based upon that analysis, Hughes learned that the Chinese Coupled Loads Analysis was deficient. Specifically, the Chinese had not performed an analysis of the cantilevered loads from the payload stack to the fairing and, as a consequence, had no real idea of the true loads on the fairing arising from wind shear and buffeting. Hughes then worked with the Chinese, presumably to correct the Finite Elements Model of the LM-2E and performed a Coupled Loads Analysis that more accurately characterized the loads actually experienced by the fairing during the failed launch. Hughes also presented the results of the analysis to show the Chinese that the launch vehicle and satellite were designed to comfortably withstand the flight loads, but that the oversimplified Chinese Coupled Loads Analysis failed to account for- windshear and buffeting loads on the fairing. DoD assesses that a thorough Coupled Loads Analysis was central to Hughes' effort to prove that the Chinese failed to account for (1) the high winds aloft and buffeting, and (2) the resultant LM-2E non-zero angle of attack (i.e., the LM-2E's guidance System failure to compensate for the upper level winds). These factors combined to produce stresses that exceeded the rivet shear strength along the fairing zipper and/or collapsed the fairing fiberglass dome. Based on the discuss, DoD believes it is reasonable to infer that, during the close collaboration between Hughes and Chinese engineers, Hughes imparted to the Chinese sufficient know-how to correct the overall deficiencies in their The Hughes/Apstar materials reveal that during the course of the investigation Hughes pointed out the similarity of the 1995 APSTAR II/LM-2E failure and the failure in December 1992 of the LM-2E launch of Hughes' OPTUS B-2 satellite. Both launches occurred during fall months and both experienced high wind shear at about the same time during the flight. In contrast, three successful LM-2E launches occurred during summer months when wind shear was light. RESULTS OF THE FAILURE INVESTIGATION According to the Hughes/Apstar materials, three of the investigative teams the Failure Team, the Spacecraft Team, and the Independent Team -- reached essentially the same conclusions: the spacecraft was not the cause of the failure and the launch vehicle fairing was the most probable cause. Deficiency in Chinese design of the launch vehicle fairing was cited as the most likely "root cause." The conclusions highlighted numerous areas of concern focussing on improving the launch vehicle design. This included concerns about the launch vehicle fairing design, the rivet strength of the zipper, weaknesses in the nose cap split line, and the shape of the fairing (its hammer-head shape aggravates aerodynamic buffeting). There were also concerns about certain Chinese launch vehicle interfaces (e.g., the design of the clamp separation band) and inadequate vent area in the launch vehicle fairing. Problems in Chinese launch operations were also identified in the various reports, including the lack of detailed weather criteria for launch and flying the vehicle at a high angle which makes the launch vehicle more vulnerable to wind shear. The investigation also concluded that the causes of the failure of the LM-2E launch of Hughes' OPTUS B-2 in December 1992 and the APSTAR II failure were identical. The documents note that the conclusions reached in the APSTAR II failure investigation were "more specific" than those reached in the OPTUS B-2 investigation in part because the role of wind shear and winds aloft were better understood and more telemetry data was available for review. The International Oversight Team that included representation from Hughes and the Chinese subsequently met three times for a total of five days to consider the results of the investigation, but "could not reach a unanimous conclusion as to the cause of the failure." FINDINGS OF THE DOD ASSESSMENT Over the course of about five months in early 1995 following the failure of the launch of the APSTAR II satellite in China, Hughes conducted a broad and in-depth investigation that involved significant technical and detailed interchanges between Hughes and Chinese experts. The conduct of these interactions specifically addressed a full range of possible causes for the failure that included a comprehensive analysis of the Hughes satellite and the Chinese launch vehicle fairing and flight loads. The investigation's conclusions that were provided to the Chinese were very specific and identified the need for modifications in the Chinese launch vehicle fairing design and launch operations. In particular, the joint investigation provided China with details about the satellite design and some manufacturing /inspection practices to prove that the satellite was not responsible for the failure and that a faulty launch vehicle fairing design was the likely root cause of the failure. The joint investigation also provided the Chinese with insight into U.S. diagnostic techniques for assessing defects in launch vehicle and satellite design. Hughes demonstrated to the Chinese how corrected Coupled Loads Analysis and modeling supported Hughes' conclusions that the launch vehicle fairing caused the failure. Coupled Loads Analysis is the responsibility of the launch vehicle provider and is a critically important process for validating the integrity of a launch vehicle to survive in various flight environments. In at least one instance, the documents DoD reviewed reveal that Hughes was conscious of "government constraints" in providing assistance to the Chinese in this area. Much of this work during the investigation appears to have been done in China in close collaboration with the Chinese experts. Hughes clearly was concerned about the serious flaws in Chinese modeling and analysis of aerodynamic loads on the launch vehicle fairing. According to the Hughes/Apstar materials, among the lessons Hughes said it learned was that it cannot rely exclusively on the Chinese to perform Coupled Loads Analysis. In this connection, the Spacecraft Team indicated that if "politics, government constraints, or vendor issues do not permit the analysis [by Hughes], then it would be our recommendation that this is not a suitable launch vehicle." The fact that Hughes was able to draw more specific conclusions in the APSTAR II investigation than it is the OPTUS B-2 failure investigation is likely attributable in significant part to the lack of government restrictions on the conduct of the joint analysis with the Chinese in the APSTAR II case. There is no evidence in the documents reviewed by DoD that there were any limits imposed on the APSTAR II investigation by the Commerce Department or any other US government agency. As a consequence, the Chinese and Hughes engaged in technical exchanges, such as those concerning Coupled Loads Analysis and Finite Elements Analysis, that would allow the Chinese to gain specific insight into specific launch vehicle design and operational problems and corrective actions -- benefits that the DoD-monitored investigation of the Optus B-2 failure apparently did not yield. The Optus B-2 failure analysis was conducted by Hughes under a Department of State licenses that required DoD monitoring of technical interactions with the Chinese. There is no indication in the Hughes/Apstar materials that the Chinese performed an independent investigation of the APSTAR II launch failure of the depth and intensity of the one conducted by and with Hughes. The conclusions outlined in the Hughes/Apstar materials provided to the Chinese (and reviewed by DoD for this assessment) were sufficiently specific to inform the Chinese of the kinds of launch vehicle design or operational changes that would make the LM-2E (and perhaps other launch vehicles as well) more reliable. Based on DoD's experience monitoring technical interchange meetings and related activities in connection with foreign launches of U.S. commercial satellites, it its reasonable to conclude that during the course of the five-month Hughes investigation there were significant interactions with the Chinese of a highly technical and specific nature that are not reflected in the Hughes/Apstar materials reviewed by DoD. It is likely that other documents exist that would shed additional light on Hughes' interactions with the Chinese. This would include information on the specific interactions at the sub-team level, and the deliberations of the Independent Team (about which DoD was only provided a one-page summary of conclusions) and the International Oversight Team (about which the documents reveal very little). Commerce has indicated it reviewed the documents supplied by Hughes in 1995 during the course of the investigation and which were provided to DoD in July 1998 for use in preparing this assessment. Commerce has stated that they determined in 1995 that the documents contained only information already authorized for export under the original Commerce license issued in February 1994. CONCLUSIONS The provision of technical assistance in connection with the failure investigation to the Chinese by Hughes in the design, engineering, and operation of the Chinese launch vehicle and the Hughes satellite constitutes a "defense service" within the meaning of the State Department's International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). This was clearly beyond the scope of Commerce export control jurisdiction because only the Department of State is authorized to issue licenses for defense services(3). The Commerce license issued for APSTAR II covered only the export of the satellite and very limited technical data. There was no reasonable basis to conclude that a launch vehicle failure investigation of the scope evidenced in the documents would not be subject to State Department export control jurisdiction. The Hughes/Apstar materials reviewed by DoD reveal that the Chinese were provided with technical data and assistance from Hughes' failure investigation that enabled the Chinese launch manufacturer and launch service provider to make design and/or operational adjustments that improved launch vehicle reliability. They also reveal that the Chinese were provided practical insight into a diagnostic and failure analysis technique for identifying and isolating the, cause of a launch failure. [Editor's note: section classified "secret/no foreign" omitted.] The specific benefits derived from the APSTAR II launch failure investigation for Chinese missile programs did not likely alter the strategic military balance between the United States and China. However, in light of the strict standards of U.S. policy not to assist China in improving its satellite and in missile-related capabilities, DoD believes that the scope and content of the launch failure investigation conducted by Hughes with the Chinese following the January 1995 APSTAR II failure raises national security concerns both with regard to violating those standards and to potentially contributing to China's missile capabilities. Therefore, the activities involved in the failure investigation warrant further inquiry to obtain a better understanding of the details of the technical assistance that Hughes provided the Chinese in order to urge the precise nature and seriousness of any impact on U.S. national security. =============================== FOOTNOTES: Derived from: NAIC memo, Nov. 12,1998 Declassify on: XI (1) The State Department licensed the export of the OPTUS B2. This launch of this satellite on LM-2E failed December 1992. DoD monitored Hughes' launch failure investigation under the terms of the State Department license. (2) The description of events is in this section is based on the information contained in the Hughes/Apstar materials provided to DoD by the Department of Commerce. For the preparation of this assessment, DoD has not independently corroborated the sequence of events and has not conducted additional research to expand this expand. (3) Section 120.9 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 C.F.R. Part 120.9) defines a "defense service" to include the furnishing to foreign persons of ITAR-controlled technical data or assistance (including training) in the design, development, engineering, manufacture, production, assembly, testing, repair, maintenance, modification, operation, demilitarization, destruction processing or use of defense articles. Defense articles include a launch vehicle (ITAR Category IV) and a spacecraft, including satellites (ITAR Category XV), and specially designed or modified components, parts, attachments and associated equipment thereof. In this connection, all defense services for satellites and/or launch vehicles, including for compatibility, integration, or processing data are covered by the ITAR, even with respect to satellites subject to Commerce's license jurisdiction, (This was the case in 1994 and 1995 when Hughes sought export licenses for the Apstar II satellite launch and failure analysis, and remains true today.) Commerce's jurisdiction and licenses are limited to the APSTAR 2 satellite and technical data given to the launch provider (form, fit, function, mass, electrical, mechanical, dynamic/environmental, telemetry, safety, facility, launch, access, and launch parameters) that describe the interfaces for mating and parameters for orbit (e.g. orbit, timing) of the satellite. See Note 1 to ITAR Category XV. =============================== APPENDIX The following is a list of the documents that the Department of Commerce provided to the Department of Defense in July 1998. Document #1 consists of apparently several separate documents bound by a bulldog clip, as follows: 1.2 (pages-1-5) Hughes telecopier cover sheet, fax dated January 27, 1995, transmitting to DOC the attached "Implementation Plan for Apstar II Launch Operations." 1.2 (pages 6-6a) Hughes telecopied news articles, fax date January 30, 1995, re the Apstar II launch failure. 1.3 (pages 7-1 1) Minutes from 2/10/95 Meeting in Xichang between Hughes and Chinese experts. 1.4 (pages 12-27) Hughes briefing paper titled "APSTAR 2 Failure Presentation to CGWIC, February 13, 1995." 1.5 (page 28) Hughes briefing paper titled "Apstar 2 Failure Investigation, March 3, 1995." 1.6 (pages 29-30) Hughes paper titled "Apstar 2 Failure Investigation,' undated. 1.7 (pages 3 1-50) Various undated Hughes work papers containing detailed drawings of the satellite payload configuration and the fairing and certain interfaces and loads data and time lime data. 1.8 (pages 51-66) Hughes letter of May 9, 1995, to the Department of Commerce Concerning an April 28, 1995 and March 3, 1995 meetings between Hughes and Commerce and transmitting Failure Investigation Briefing Charts. 1.9 (page 69) Department of Commerce cable June 2, 1995, from U.S. embassy in Beijing stating that 'China Daily" reported in June 1, 1995, that the APT Satellite Co. selected U.S. Space Systems/Loral as the manufacturer of the APSTAR-IIR to replace Hughes APSTAR-II that had been destroyed when the launch failed. Document #2 (one page) is a Hughes letter of August 15, 1995, to the Department of Commerce transmitting the reports of the three investigative teams (see Documents #3,4, and 5) Document -# 3 (38 pages): "Long March 2E / APSTAR 2 Failure Iinvestigation -- Failure Investigation Team Final Report -- Technical Description," dated July 1995. Document #4 (84 pages): "APSTAR 2 / LONGMARCH 2E FAILURE OF 26 JANUARY 1995 -- INDEPENDENT SPACECRAFT REVIEW TEAM FRNAL REPORT," dated July 1995. Document #5 (1 page): "Executive Summary" of conclusions of the Independent Review Team, undated.
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