[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 650

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Thu Nov 17 08:56:32 EST 2011

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 650                                       2011 Nov 16  Somerville, MA, USA

Space Station

The Progress M-10M cargo ship undocked from the Pirs module at 0904 UTC
on Oct 29; the craft fired its deorbit engines at 1210 UTC and reentered
over the Pacific at 1248 UTC.

Progress M-13M was launched on Oct 30, reaching orbit at 1019 UTC to
sighs of relief from the ISS project. It successfully docked with the
Pirs module on Nov 2, with the result that the crew will have enough
supplies to avoid evacuating the Station. This is the first flight of
the old 11S510 model of the Soyuz upper stage and RD-0110 engine since
the Aug 24 failure of Progress M-12M. Two Soyuz 2-1B launches used the
14S54 third stage with an improved engine. The Progress M-13M flight is
ISS mission 45P and spacecraft production serial No. 413. It carries
the Chibis-M microsatellite which will be ejected after undocking.

Soyuz TMA-22 was launched on Nov 14 with commander Anton Shkaplerov and
flight engineers Anatoliy Ivanishin and Dan Burbank. It docked with the
Poisk module at 0524 UTC on Nov 16, and the astronauts joined the Soyuz
TMA-02M crew of Volkov, Fossum and Furukawa on board ISS.


The NPP weather satellite was launched from Vandenberg on Oct 28.
NPP is a nested acronym standing for NPOESS Preparatory Project,
where NPOESS was the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System,
a now-cancelled project that has been replaced by the Joint Polar Satellite
System. NPP will provide interim capability between the last of the
old NOAA Advanced TIROS-N polar weather satellites and the first JPSS
satellite to be launched in a few years.

The Delta 7920 launch vehicle carried six Cubesats in deployers attached
to its final stage. The first P-POD deployer carried three 1U Cubesats,
each 1 kg, 0.1m in size: AubieSat-1 from Auburn University, Alabama;
M-Cubed (the Michigan Multipurpose Mission) from the University of
Michigan; and E1PU2 (Explorer-1 Prime, Unit 2) from Montana State
University, which carries one of Van Allen's Geiger tubes. The second
deployer carred a 3U Cubesat, 0.1 x 0.3m, the RAX-2 Radio Aurora
Explorer, an NSF-funded mission also from the University of Michigan.
The final deployer carried two 1.5U cubesats, DICE-1 and DICE-2 from
Utah State University, which will study the magnetosphere and will each
deploy electric field antennas measuring 10 meters tip-to-tip.

Launch from Space Launch Complex 2-West at Vandenberg was at 0948 UTC;
Stage 2 reached a 195 x 853 km x 98.7 deg orbit at 0958 UTC. At 1040 UTC
a second burn circulazed the orbit at 816 x 819 km and the NPP satellite
separated at 1046 UTC. Stage 2's third burn at 1120 UTC lowered the
orbit and increased inclination, to 458 x 816 km x 101.7 deg (a higher
perigee than originally planned). At 1126 UTC the three 1U Cubesats were
ejected, followed at 1128 UTC by RAX-2 and at 1129 UTC by the pair of
DICE. A final burn at 1143 UTC lowered the Delta stage's orbit to 179 x
706 km x 107.3 deg to speed its eventual reentry. By Nov 8 NPP had
adjusted its orbit to 822 x 824 km x 98.7 deg.

Shenzhou 8

The Shenzhou 8 spaceship was launched on Oct 31 on a mission to
rendezvous and dock with the Tiangong-1 spacelab. Shenzhou 8, like
Shenzhou 1 to 4, does not carry a crew. The first automated robotic
rendezvous and docking was carried out by the Soyuz No. 5 and No. 6
spaceships (Kosmos-186 and Kosmos-188) in 1967.

Shenzhou 8 was inserted into a 261 x 314 km x 42.8 deg orbit and
completed a rendezvous with Tiangong 1 on Nov 2, in a 328 x 338 km 
orbit. Docking was carried out successfully on Nov 2 at 1728 UTC. On Nov
14 at 1127 UTC it undocked, retreated to 140m and redocked at 1153 UTC.
On Nov 16 at 1030 UTC  Shenzhou 8 undocked from Tiangong 1 and prepared
to return to Earth.


Three Glonass-M (Uragan-M) navigation satellites were launched on Nov 4
from Baykonur aboard a Proton-M. The launch used a Briz-M upper stage.
This is the Block 44 Glonass launch, with satellites Uragan-M No. 743,
744 and 745, also known as Glonass-M No. 43, 44 and 45.  The satellites
will probably also get the cover names Kosmos-2475 to Kosmos-2477.
On Nov 12 the satellites were in orbits of 18907 x 19172 km x 64.8 deg,
19160 x 19319 km x 64.8 deg, and 19018 x 19178 km x 64.8 deg.


The Fobos-Grunt probe took off at 2016 UTC on Nov 8 and reached a 206 x
341 km x 51.4 deg Earth parking orbit, but the solar orbit insertion
burns  did not take place. The probe separated from the Zenit-2SB41.1
rocket's second stage and remains in low earth orbit attached to its MDU
propulsion unit (similar to the Fregat stage). Attempts by ground
control to contact the vehicle have been unsuccessful, and the probe,
with an approximate mass of 13500 kg, is expected to reenter towards the
end of the year.

The Fobos-Grunt mission was intended to return a sample of the Martian
moon Phobos to Earth. The main spacecraft is attached to a Fregat-related
propulsion system consisting of the MDU main propulsion system (around
735 kg dry with 7015 kg of propellant) and the SBB drop tank (with a
further 3000 kg of propellant). The MDU was meant to make a first
burn to raise apogee to 4250 kg, release the drop tank, then make a second
burn to 17500 km and, some days later, a third to solar orbit insertion.
In August 2012 it would have also performed the Mars orbit insertion
burn. At this stage the MDU would have separated from the main spacecraft,
together with a truss structure and the 115 kg Chinese Yinghuo-1 
subsatellite; these three objects would have been left in a 900 x 77000 km
equatorial Mars orbit. The Fobos-Grunt PM (Pereletniy Modul', or cruise
module) would have made two major burns to enter a 9900 km circular
Mars orbit, completed a rendezvous with Phobos, and after some months
of close observation would have landed on its surface. A surface sample
would then have been transferred to the 7 kg SA (descent capsule)
which would have been launched to Mars orbit by the VA (vosvrashchaemiy
apparat, return module). The VA would have made the trans-Earth insertion
burn and controlled approach to Earth, separating shortly before the SA
performed entry and landing, which would have occurred in August 2014.

This was an extremely ambitious mission given the limited resources (and
underpaid scientists and engineers) of the IKI space science center and
the Lavochkin company which built the vehicle and managed the mission.
The last fully successful Russian interplanetary mission was Vega-2 in
1985-86, followed by a partial success by Fobos-2 in 1988-89. The
Fobos-1 and Mars-96 missions were failures. With this record, the
IKI/Lavochkin team, which have had a monopoly on Russian/Soviet
interplanetary exploration since IKI's formation in 1965, would have
been better advised to attempt a much more modest probe - in my opinion.
I hope the failure reviews lead to a robust and successful Russian deep
space program in the years to come. It's really good news that the
Spektr-R orbiting radiotelescope, developed by the same team, is now
making successful single-dish astronomical observations and preparing
for its initial interferometric experiments.

Yaogan 12

The Yaogan Weixing 12 satellite was launched on Nov 9. The YW satellites
are Earth observing satellites, at least some of which probably have a
military role. The YW-12 launch also carried the small Tianxun-1
technology satellite. Tianxun-1 was built by the Nanjing University of
Aeronautics and Astronautics (Nanjing Hangkong Hangtian Daxue), carries
a small Earth observing CCD camera  and has a mass of 58 kg. The
satellites are in a 480 x 490 km x 97.4 deg orbit.


The Kosmos-2472 imaging satellite landed on Oct 24. The Kobal't-M class
satellite fired its Ikar-class propulsion system to deorbit  around
2020-2030 UTC; the Yantar'-type descent module then separated, reentered
around 2037 UTC and landed at about 2048 UTC after a 119.2-day flight.

The spacecraft was launched into a 195 x 337 km x 81.5 deg orbit on Jun
27, moving to a 217 x 338 km x 81.4 deg orbit on Jun 29. From Jun 29 to
Aug 14 the spacecraft was kept between roughly 215-223 x 315-340 km with
orbit reboost burns on Jul 17 and Aug 1. Then the orbit was lowered to
210 x 245 km, and for the remainder of the mission was reboosted to 210
x 250 km each time apogee decayed to around 220 km. Boosts occurrent on
Aug 31, Sep 2, 13 and 23, Oct 1 and 12. The final orbit on Oct 24 was
200 x 242 km. The 81-degree orbit was previously used from the 1960s to
the 1990s for monitoring the breakup of Arctic ice, in particular  by
the Fram satellites (1975-1985). The satellite probably carried two
SpK small film recovery capsules which were jettisoned and deorbited
to a parachute landing sometime during the mission - unfortunately
the dates of these ejections can't be determined from the orbital data.


The Dawn probe continues to operate in polar circumVestal orbit.
According to data on the Dawn web site and in Marc Rayman's journal,
orbit capture was at 0348 UTC on Jul 16 at about 16000 km from Vesta's
surface; ion engine thrusting was suspended from Jul 23 to Jul 29 in a
5200 km orbit, followed by descent to the  survey orbit of 2700 km
altitude which was reached on Aug 2. From Aug 31 to Sep 18 the orbit was
lowered again to 680 km for the high altitude mapping orbit (HAMO)
phase. On Nov 2 thrusting resumed to leave HAMO for the low altitude
mapping orbit which will be at 180 km; by Nov 16 altitude was 339 km. Of
course Vesta is far from spherical; altitudes are expressed relative to
a mean Vesta radius of 265 km.

Suborbital launches

The Israeli Defense Force launched a ballistic missile on Nov 2
westward over the Mediterranean. This is probably the second test flight
of an improved missile which some western analysts dub the "Jericho III".
(Note that we don't know the true Israeli names of their ballistic missiles).
Russia launched a Bulava missile from a submarine in the White Sea
to the Kura range on Oct 28, and a Topol' missile from Plesetsk to Kura
on Nov 3.

The fifth flight of the Wisconsin/GSFC X-ray Quantum Calorimeter (XQC)
payload was launched on Nov 6, to observe the X-ray background and demonstrate
the detector technology.

India launched the long range Agni IV missile (previously known as Agni II Prime)
from Wheeler's Island near Balasore on Nov 15.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Sep 10 1308   GRAIL-A   )       Delta 7920H        Canaveral SLC17B  Lunar     46A    
              GRAIL-B   )                                            Lunar     46B
Sep 18 1633   Zhongxing 1A      Chang Zheng 3B(E?) Xichang           Comms     47A
Sep 20 2247   Kosmos-2473       Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur          Comms     48A
Sep 21 2138   Arabsat 5C  )     Ariane 5ECA        Kourou ELA3       Comms     49A
              SES 2       )                                          Comms     49B
Sep 23 0436   IGS O-4           H-2A 202           Tanegashima       Imaging   50A
Sep 24 2018   Atlantic Bird 7   Zenit-3SL         SL Odyssey, Pacific Comms    51A?
Sep 27 1549   Tacsat-4          Minotaur 4+        Kodiak            Comms     52A
Sep 29 1316   Tiangong-1        Chang Zheng 2FT1   Jiuquan           Module    53A 
Sep 29 1832   Quetzsat-1        Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur LC200/39 Comms     54A
Oct  2 2015   Glonass-M No. 42  Soyuz-2-1B         Plesetsk          Navsat    55A
Oct  5 2100   Intelsat IS-18    Zenit-3SLB         Baykonur LC45     Comms     56A
Oct  7 0821   Eutelsat W3C      Chang Zheng 3B(E)  Xichang           Comms     57A
Oct 12 0531   Megha-Tropiques ) PSLV-CA            Sriharikota       EarthObs  58A
              SRMSat          )                                      Tech      58D
              VesselSat-1     )                                      Comms/AIS 58C
              Jugnu           )                                      Tech      58B
Oct 19 1848   ViaSat-1          Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur          Comms     59C
Oct 21 1030   Galileo IOV PFM ) Soyuz-2-1B         Kourou ELS        Navsat    60A
              Galileo IOV FM2 )                                      Navsat    60B
Oct 28 0948   NPP            )  Delta 7920         Vandenberg SLC2W  Weather   61A
              M-Cubed        )                                       Imaging
              AubieSat-1     )                                       Sci/Edu
              E1PU2          )                                       Sci/Edu
              RAX-2          )                                       Science
              DICE-1         )                                       Science
              DICE-2         )                                       Science
Oct 30 1011   Progress M-13M    Soyuz-U            Baykonur LC1      Cargo     62A
Oct 31 2158   Shenzhou 8        Chang Zheng 2F     Jiuquan           Spaceship 63A
Nov  4 1251   Glonass-M No. 43) Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur LC81     Navsat    64A
              Glonass-M No. 44)                                      Navsat    64B
              Glonass-M No. 45)                                      Navsat    64C
Nov  8 2016   Fobos-Grunt       Zenit-2SB          Baykonur LC45    Mars probe 65A
Nov  9 0321   Yaogan Weixing 12) Chang Zheng 4B    Taiyuan           Imaging?  66B
              Tianxun 1        )                                     Imaging   66A
Nov 14 0414   Soyuz TMA-22      Soyuz-FG           Baykonur LC1      Spaceship 67A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Sep 1  1353   ARAV?            Terrier Oriole?    Kauai               Target       150?
Sep 1  1354   Aegis KV         SM-3 Block 1B      CG-70, Kauai        Interceptor  150?
Sep 3  0946   RV               Topol'             Plesetsk            Test        1000?
Sep 26 0320   Prithvi RV       Prithvi-2          Chandipur IC3       Test         100?
Sep 29        10 RVs?          Layner             K-114, Barents Sea  R&D         1000?
Sep 30 0400?  Agni RV          Agni 2             Chandipur IC4       Test         220
Oct  5 0556?  FTT-12 Target    SRALT?             C-17, Kauai         Target       100?
Oct  5 0556?  FTT-12 Target    ? Target SRBM      MLP, Kauai          Target       100?
Oct  5 0600?  THAAD KV         THAAD              Kauai               Intercept    100?
Oct  5 0600?  THAAD KV         THAAD              Kauai               Intercept    100?
Oct  8 1025   NASA 36.225UG    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Astronomy    200?
Oct 11 2115   NASA 41.094UE    Terrier Orion      Andoya              Atm. Sci     130?
Oct 13 1350   NASA 41.093UE    Terrier Orion      Andoya              Atm. Sci     130?
Oct 28 0340   RV x 6?          Bulava             K-535, White Sea    Test        1000?
Nov  2 0750   RV               Jericho III        Palmachim           Test         300?
Nov  3 0645   RV               Topol'             Plesetsk            Test        1000?
Nov  6        NASA 36.264UH    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Astronomy    250?
Nov 15 0330   Agni RV          Agni IV            Chandipur           Test         900

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |          jcm at cfa.harvard.edu       |
|                                                                         |
| JSR: http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html                                 |
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