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The Space Report ("JSR") is issued about twice a month. It describes all space launches, including both piloted missions and automated satellites. Back issues are available online. To receive the JSR each week by direct email, subscribe at Feel free to reproduce the JSR as long as you're not doing it for profit. If you are doing so regularly, please inform Jonathan by email. Comments, suggestions, and corrections are encouraged. See here for translations to other languages.

You can mail Jonathan McDowell at planet4589 at gmail dot com.

See also:

JSR STOP PRESS - the draft of NEXT week's JSR, updated throughout the week.

GEOSTATIONARY SATELLITE LOG with a catalog of all known satellites ever in the geosynchronous ring and their reasonably current positions.

LAUNCH LOG - My best attempt at a complete listing of all satellite launch attempts.

Jonathan's Space Home Page - with links to lots of other space data not available elsewhere.

SATELLITE CATALOG - My version of the Space Command satellite catalog, providing a cross reference between catalog number and international designation. Corrections are welcome.

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 710                                                    2015 Mar 20     Somerville, MA

International Space Station

On Mar 11 at 2244 UTC Soyuz TMA-14M undocked from the Poisk module with
Expedition 42 crewmembers Aleksandr Samokutyaev, Barry Wilmore and Elena
Serova. Expedition 43 then began under the command of Terry Virts, with
FE-3 Anton Shkaplerov and FE-4 Samantha Cristoforetti also aboard. The
crew will be rounded out later this month with  Gennadiy Padalka,
Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly who are preparing for launch on Soyuz
TMA-16M. Launch is currently scheduled for Mar 27.

Soyuz TMA-14M performed its deorbit burn at 0116 UTC Mar 12 and landed in 
Kazakhstan at around 0208 UTC.

Soyuz TMA-15M is docked at Rassvet; Progress M-25M is docked at Pirs and
Progress M-26M at Zvezda. 


I inadvertently omitted coverage of the DSCOVR launch from the last JSR.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory, DSCOVR, was launched on Feb 11 after
many years of gestation. Originally a NASA mission called Triana and
centered around its Earth observation camera,  it had at  one point been
scheduled for launch on the fatal STS-107 flight of Columbia, but was
cancelled amid political controversy (it grew out of an idea by
Vice-President Gore for whole-Earth imaging to raise eco-awareness) and
placed in storage. The mission was reactivated as part of a NOAA (US
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) effort to monitor
`space weather', the flux of particles and radiation in the solar wind
and its interaction with the Earth's outer atmosphere. 

DSCOVR is a 425 kg vehicle with an additional 145 kg of hydrazine
propellant, and will be stationed at the Earth-Sun L1 point, 1.5 million
km noonward from Earth. It carries a Faraday cup instrument to measure
solar wind speed, an electron spectrometer and a magnetometer to measure
local plasma and fields, as well as a broad band (0.2 to 100 microns)
radiometer to measure the Earth's total energy output and the Earth
Polychomatic Imaging Camera to return images of the full Earth disk.

DSCOVR was launched on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral into a 184 x 186
km x 37 deg parking orbit; 30 min after launch the Falcon 9 second stage
restarted to boost DSCOVR into a 187 x 1371156 km x 37 deg transfer
orbit. When the probe reaches the L1 point it will enter a Lissajous
orbit, tracing out a complex pattern  around the gravitationally stable
balance point. Radius of this pattern will initially be around 250000

I haven't obtained any orbital ephemeris data yet for DSCOVR, but today a colleague
showed me some of the first science data to arrive. Congrats to the DSCOVR team.


NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission was launched on Mar 13. The
mission consists of four identical spacecraft, each with a mass of 1000
kg plus 400 kg of propellant. The spacecraft will fly in a tetrahedral
formation some tens of kilometres apart to disentangle spatial and
temporal fluctuations in the magnetospheric particle and field
environment. They will deploy wire booms with a span of 112 metres
to measure electric fields.

Use for formation-flying groups of spacecraft to study the magnetosphere
began with Penn State's suborbital 'Mother-Daughter' payload NASA 8.28UI
in Jan 1965. Early projects to use multiple widely separated satellite
platforms for simultaneous magnetosphere measurements included the USSR
2D project (Elektron 1/2 and 3/4) in 1964 and NASA's Interplanetary
Monitoring Platforms A to J in the 1960s and 1970s. The first close pair
of magnetosphere probes was the NASA ISEE-1 and ESA ISEE-2, launched on
the same rocket in Oct 1977. followed by the Interkosmos AUOS-Z/Czech
Magion pair launched in 1978. Further AUOS-Z/Magion pairs were succeeded
by the Interbol/Magion missions of 1995 and 1996. ESA's Cluster II
mission which began in 2000 and continues in operation today introduced
the 4-spacecraft tetrahedron approach that is being used by MMS. (Cluster I's
quartet ended up in the Kourou swamp as a result of the first Ariane 5's 
ill-advised attempt to fly sideways.). The NASA/UC Berkely Themis mission
used five spacecraft in disparate orbits; three remain operating around Earth while
two have been reassigned to the ARTEMIS mission and are orbiting the Moon.

    Operational high Earth orbit magnetospheric observatories
				Launch Date    Current Orbit		  Operator	  Program
					       km x km x deg
    Geotail			1992 Jul 24	48970 x 191278 x   8.5	  JAXA/ISAS	  ISTP/GGS
    Cluster II FM5/C1 "Rumba"	2000 Aug  9	22016 x 110774 x 135.6	  ESA		  ESA CS
    Cluster II FM6/C2 "Salsa"	2000 Jul 16	23452 x 109230 x 132.9	  ESA		  ESA CS
    Cluster II FM7/C3 "Samba"	2000 Jul 16	22536 x 109702 x 132.8	  ESA		  ESA CS
    Cluster II FM8/C4 "Tango"	2000 Aug  9	19254 x 113536 x 132.0	  ESA		  ESA CS
    THEMIS A/P5 		2007 Feb 17	 802 x	 70805 x  13.4	  NASA/UCB	  NASA MIDEX
    THEMIS D/P3 		2007 Feb 17	 855 x	 70723 x   8.3	  NASA/UCB	  NASA MIDEX
    THEMIS E/P4 		2007 Feb 17	 852 x	 70721 x   9.2	  NASA/UCB	  NASA MIDEX
    TWINS-A			2006 Jun 28	1285 x	 39065 x  63.7	  NRO/SWRI	  NASA MOppEX
    TWINS-B			2008 Mar 13	1614 x	 38739 x  63.1	  NRO/SWRI	  NASA MOppEX
    Van Allen Probe A		2012 Aug 30	 582 x	 30515 x   9.8	  NASA/APL	  NASA LWS
    Van Allen Probe B		2012 Aug 30	 591 x	 30672 x   9.8	  NASA/APL	  NASA LWS
    MMS 1			2015 Mar 13	 556 x	 70139 x  28.9	  NASA/LASP-CU	  NASA STP
    MMS 2			2015 Mar 13	 551 x	 70158 x  28.9	  NASA/LASP-CU	  NASA STP
    MMS 3			2015 Mar 13	 551 x	 70180 x  28.8	  NASA/LASP-CU	  NASA STP
    MMS 4			2015 Mar 13	 552 x	 70198 x  28.8	  NASA/LASP-CU	  NASA STP

    WIND			1994 Nov  1	 Earth-Sun L1		  NASA-GSFC	  NASA GGS
    ACE 			1997 Aug 25	 Earth-Sun L1		  NASA-GSFC	  NASA MIDEX
    DSCOVR			2015 Feb 11	 En route to Earth-Sun L1 NOAA		  NOAA

Ekspress AM-7

A new Ekspress satellite for Russia's Kosmicheskaya Svyaz (Space Comms.
Co.) was launched on Mar 18. It is a Eurostar 3000 built by
AirbusDS/Toulouse and had a launch mass of 5700 kg.


The Dawn probe flew past Ceres at 1900 UTC Feb 23 at an altitude of
38000 km; after several more days of ion engine thrust it was captured
into orbit around Ceres at 1239 UTC Mar 6, at a distance of 61000 km.
Dawn reached an apocereal height of 75000 km on Mar 18 and then began to
descend towards its initial science orbit; scheduled orbit for Mar 20
was around 13000 x 76000 km x 31 deg.


China's Phase 3 Lunar Program's Reentry Return Test Vehicle Service Module 
continues operations in lunar orbit. From Mar 3 to Mar 7 it simulated rendezvous
and docking with an ascent vehicle, maneuvering in a 18 x 180 km orbit.

Zwicky's pellets

On 1957 Oct 17 at 0505 UTC the US Air Force launched a sounding rocket,
Aerobee USAF-88, from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico to an apogee of
114 km. 
The ejected rocket nose cap carried three explosive devices (loosely, 'grenades')
which were detonated at about 80 km altitude. Charge A, built by Thomas Poulter
of Stanford, was expected to accelerate about 0.1 gram of material to very
high velocities of order 14 km/s; Charge B, developed by John Rinehart of Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in collaboration with Poulter, was designed to 
accelerate a slightly higher mass of particles to somewhat lower speed; Charge C,
built by Fritz Zwicky of CalTech, used an iron oxide/aluminium thermite mixture
that was intended to accelerate self-luminous material to velocities above 11 km/s.
In the event two meteor trails were seen emanating from the explosion of the
nose cone. Zwicky claimed that his pellet had reached Earth escape velocity
and gone into orbit around the Sun (Engineering and Science, Jan 1958, p 20).
This claim is often repeated uncritically, most recently in a fun article by
Nick D'Alto in Smithsonian's Air and Space magazine:
The article prompted me to look more deeply into the story, of which I've always been
a bit skeptical.

Zwicky was a genius. We revere him in astronomy because so many of his
crazy ideas - like dark matter - turned out to be right - but not all of
them. He is famous for many things, but from what I've heard, accepting
that he might be wrong about something wasn't one of them.

He never published a science paper on the pellet experiment. The only
serious analysis I've seen is by R. McCrosky of SAO (Observations of
Simulated Meteors, Smithsonian Contributions to Astrophysics, 5, 29
(1961) which can be found at indicates that the
observed meteor trails were from charges A and B, which were not
self-luminous and so would only glow as they reentered the atmosphere
heading down and burning up. A's speed was measured at 14.4 km/s
(Earth-relative) while B's was in the range of 5 to 9 km/s.  McCrosky
doesn't say so explicitly, but the implication is that Zwicky's grenade
didn't work. 

We may conclude that Poulter's Charge A pellet, with a mass around 0.1
grams, was (briefly) the first artifact to reach escape speed - but not
escape velocity (i.e. it was going in the wrong direction). I really
wanted the story of Zwicky's solar orbit pellets to be true, but it
doesn't look good. Maybe McCrosky's analysis was wrong - I'm going to
check if the relevant tracking plates are in the Harvard Plate Stacks
but I doubt it, the plates from the NMSU ballistic cameras would
probably have stayed in McCrosky's possession and I expect that they no longer
exist. Without being able to check the raw data, it is reasonable to
assume McCrosky's analysis is at least roughly correct.

I conclude that Zwicky's claim is unlikely to be true and, sadly, should not be
accepted as historical fact.

There were more artificial meteor experiments in the 1960s and 1970s, with pellets
smashed down into the atmosphere at super-escape-speeds. In the 1960s the use of grenades
to create shock waves used to measure upper atmosphere temperatures and wind speeds
was common, but I don't think they would have had the energy to accelerate material
to escape speeds.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission       INTL.   Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes
                                                                                                      km      km   deg

Feb  1 0121   IGS Radar Spare    H-IIA 202          Tanegashima      Radar Imager    04A   S40381    490 x    511 x  97.5
Feb  1 1231   Inmarsat 5F2       Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur LC200/39 Comms          05A   S40384   4366 x  64968 x  26.8
Feb  2 0850?  Fajr               Safir              Semnan           Imaging         06A   S40387    224 x    469 x  55.5
Feb  5 1250?  AESP-14            -                  Kibo RMS, ISS    Tech          98-67FM S40389    397 x    405 x  51.6
Feb 11 1340   IXV       )        Vega               Kourou ZLV       Reentry Test    U01   A08334     76 x    416 x   5.4
              AVUM VV04 )                                            Tech            U01   A08335    220 x    430 x   5.4
Feb 11 2303   DSCOVR             Falcon 9 v1.1      Canaveral SLC40  Space sci       07A   S40390    187 x1371156 x  33.1
Feb 17 1100   Progress M-26M     Soyuz-U            Baykonur LC1/5   Cargo           08A   S40392    186 x    237 x  51.6 Docked ISS
Feb 27 1101   Kosmos-2503        Soyuz-2-1A         Plesetsk LC43/4  Imaging         09A   S40420    327 x    539 x  97.6 0245LT
Feb 27 1430   Flock 1b-27  )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Imaging       98-67FN S40422    396 x    404 x  51.7 
              Flock 1b-28  )                                         Imaging       98-67FP S40423    396 x    404 x  51.7 
Mar  2 0125   Flock 1b-21  )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Imaging       98-67FQ S40427    395 x    402 x  51.7
              Flock 1b-22  )                                         Imaging       98-67FR S40428    395 x    402 x  51.7
Mar  2 0350   ABS-3A           ) Falcon 9 v1.1      Canaveral SLC40  Comms           10A   S40424    358 x  63319 x  24.8
              Eutel.115 West B )                                     Comms           10B   S40425    360 x  63379 x  24.8
Mar  2 0845   Flock 1b-9   )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Imaging       98-67FS S40429    392 x    407 x  51.6
              Flock 1b-10  )                                         Imaging       98-67FT S40430    398 x    413 x  51.6
Mar  3 0300   Flock 1d'-1  )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Imaging       98-67FU S40451    393 x    405 x  51.6
              Flock 1d'-2  )                                         Imaging       98-67FV S40452    393 x    406 x  51.6
Mar  3 1050   Flock 1b-5   )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Imaging       98-67FW S40453    394 x    407 x  51.6
              Flock 1b-6   )                                         Imaging       98-67FX S40454    392 x    407 x  51.6
Mar  4 0120   TechEdSat-4  )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Tech          98-67FY S40455    393 x    402 x  51.6
              GEARRSat     )                                         Comms         98-67FZ S40456    395 x    404 x  51.6
Mar  4 0830   MicroMAS     )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Sci           98-67GA S40457    393 x    406 x  51.6
              LambdaSat    )                                         Tech/Comms    98-67GB S40458    393 x    405 x  51.6
Mar  5 0145   Flock 1b-11  )                        ISS Kibo, LEO    Imaging       98-67GC S40459    395 x    405 x  51.6
              Flock 1b-12  )                                         Imaging       98-67GD S40460    395 x    405 x  51.6
Mar 13 0244   MMS 1 )             Atlas V 421       Canaveral SLC41  Sci             11A   S40482    559 x  70130 x  28.9
              MMS 2 )                                                Sci             11B   S40483    554 x  70159 x  28.9
              MMS 3 )                                                Sci             11C   S40484    554 x  70174 x  28.9
              MMS 4 )                                                Sci             11D   S40485    554 x  70190 x  28.9
Mar 18 2205   Ekspress AM-7       Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC200/39 Comms          12A   S40505   5406 x  35752 x  19.9

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

Date UT     Payload/Flt Name  Launch Vehicle  Site                   Mission    Apogee/km

Feb 19 2206   ICI-4            VS-30/Imp. Orion    Andoya           Aurora        365
Feb 22 0752   Cryofenix        VSB-30              Kiruna           Tech          265
Feb 22        USN RV )         Trident II D-5      SSBN, Pacific    Test         1000?
              USN RV )
              USN RV )
              USN RV )
Feb 22        USN RV )         Trident II D-5      SSBN, Pacific    Test         1000?
              USN RV )
              USN RV )
              USN RV )
Feb 24 0730   FTX-19 Target    Terrier Oriole      Wallops I        Target        150?
Feb 24 0730   FTX-19 Target    Terrier Oriole      Wallops I        Target        150?
Feb 24 0730   FTX-19 Target    Terrier Oriole      Wallops I        Target        150?
Feb 25 1226   NASA 36.299DR    Black Brant IX      White Sands      Ionosphere    300?
Mar  1 2133   RV               Hwasong 6?          Nampo, N Korea   Test          134
Mar  1 2141   RV               Hwasong 6?          Nampo, N Korea   Test          134
Mar  5 0144   WADIS 2          VS-30               Andoya           Atm.Sci       126
Mar  9        RV               Shaheen 3           Somniani?        Test          500? 

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |                                    |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |  twitter: @planet4589              |
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