[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 648

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Tue Oct 11 06:09:45 EDT 2011

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 648                                      2011 Oct 10    Somerville, MA, USA

UARS and Rosat

A new report on Space-Track gives the UARS satellite reentry at 0400 UTC
+/- 1 min over 14.1S 170.2W - in the SW Pacific near American Samoa.
NASA's UARS site has also been updated to reflect this information. This
is about 10-15 min earlier than previously estimated. This represents
the beginning of reentry, with a debris footprint extending up to 1000
km NE, making it almost certain that no debris reached the US coast.

A 5 tonne rocket stage from the Tiangong-1 launch was expected
to have reentered on Oct 10.

The 2.5 tonne ROSAT astronomy satellite will reenter later in October.
As much of 1 tonne of the dense X-ray Telescope mirror assembly
may survive reentry. On Oct 10, ROSAT was in a 244 x 250 km x 53.0 deg

Tiangong 1

China launched the Tiangong-1 spacelab on Sep 29 into a 198 x 332 km x
42.8 deg orbit. The CZ-2FT1, an uprated version of the CZ-2F used to
launch the Shenzhou spaceships, placed the 8500 kg module in orbit. A
forthcoming Shenzhou crew will dock with the module.

At 1758 UTC on Sep 29 TG-1 raised its orbit to 197 x 345 km; at 0809
UTC on Sep 30 the orbit was further raised to 336 x 353 km.


The Naval Research Lab's Tacsat-4 UHF communications satellite was
launched into elliptical orbit by a Minotaur IV rocket from Kodiak Island.
This was the first use of a souped-up Minotaur IV where an ATK Star 48V
motor replaces the usual Orion 38 motor. The Star 48 family of motors
first flew in the 1980s as part of the PAM-D upper stage for Delta and Shuttle;
the 48V variant was the upper stage for the Conestoga 1620 vehicle
used in one failed 1995 launch; the Tacsat-4 launch was the Star 48V's
first chance to actually fire in space.

The Minotaur IV was launched at 1549 UTC and inserted Tacsat-4/Star 48V
on a ballistic trajectory at 1552 UTC, still attached to the SR-120
third stage. At 1612 UTC the SR-120 separated, and the Star 48V burned
to insert the satellite into a 189 x 11833 km x 63.4 deg orbit. After
stage 4 separation, Tacsat-4 coasted to apogee and fired its own orbit
control motor at 1837 UTC to change the orbit to 340 x 11843 km. The
satellite has a  3.7-meter-diameter UHF communications antenna to support
military handheld satphones; the vehicle was built by NRL and APL.
On Sep 28 the orbit was further raised to 646 x 11836 km and the 
inclination adjusted to 63.6 deg. On Oct 5 another orbit raise put
Tacsat-4 in a 748 x 12001 km x 63.6 deg orbit.

The Minotaur IV stage 4 is built around the GCA (Guidance Control Assembly)
package, containing the Star 48 solid motor. I estimate the post-burnout
mass of stage 4 must be in the 500 to 1000 kg range, of which only 139 kg
is the empty Star 48V motor. (If anyone has a better number, please let me


QuetzSat SRL de CV is a Mexican joint venure of SES Satellite Leasing (UK)
and Grupo Medcom/Mexico. Their first satellite, QuetzSat-1, is a 5514 kg
Ku-band Loral 1300 vehicle whose capacity will be leased to Echostar.
The satellite was launched from Baykonur on Sep 29 by a Proton-M on
its first commercial flight since the Ekspress AM-4 failure,
and deployed into a 5909 x 35791 km x 18.6 deg orbit. The Briz-M 
DTB drop tank was left in a 328 x 17710 km x 49.5 deg orbit.
By Oct 8 QuetzSat-1 was in a 35722 x 35796 km x 0.1 deg orbit
drifting past 68 deg W.


A Glonass-M navigation satellite was launched from Plesetsk on Oct 2.
Glonass-M No. 42 (Uragan-M No. 742) separated from the Fregat stage
at 2347 UTC. The Soyuz-2-1B rocket put the Fregat in an approximately
60 x 220 km orbit from which it maneuvered to 220 x 220 km, 250 x 19100 km
and then to the deployment orbit of 19235 x 19667 km x 64.8 deg.

Intelsat IS-18

A Sea Launch Zenit-3SLB (the land-launched version of the rocket) was
launched from Baykonur on Oct 5 into a 5269 x 35769 km x 19.5 deg
geostationary transfer orbit. The payload was Intelsat IS-18, a 3200 kg
Orbital Star-2.4E satellite with a Ku and C band communications payload
for Pacific Ocean communications including a special beam for French

The new Sea Launch AG has its formal headquarters in Bern, although
launch operations remain based in Long Beach. Sea Launch AG seems to be
basically the sales company, with the actual launch service carried out
in international waters by Energia Logistics Ltd. (ELUS) of Long Beach.
using rocket stages provided  by Yuzhmash in the Ukraine and RKK Energiya of Moscow. So for
those who like to track which country launched a satellite, is this a
Swiss, US, Ukrainian or Russian launch? In my opinion, categorizing 
space activities by country is becoming less useful.

Here are this year's statistics so far - note that even without
SeaLaunch (which if anything might be considered Russian now that
Energia is running it) Russia is in the lead, but China has not managed
yet to reach last year's record of matching the US.

 Orbital launch attempts so far in 2011, by country of launch vehicle

                         2011      2011   2010   2010
            Family     Per Fam   Total   Per Fam   Total
 Russia     Zenit*     2                 0
            Rokot      1                 2
            Proton     5                12
            Dnepr*     1                 3
            Kosmos     0                 1
            Soyuz     11         20     13     31

 USA        Shuttle    3                 3
            Atlas5     4                 4
            Delta 2    2                 1
            Delta 4    3                 3
            Minotaur1  2                 0
            Falcon 9   0                 2
            Taurus/M4  2         16      2     15
 China      CZ         12        12     15     15
 France*    Ariane5    5          5      6      6
 SeaLaunch  Zenit      2          2      0      0
 Japan      H2         2          2      2      2
 India      PSLV       2          2      3      3
 Iran       Safir      1          1      0      0
 Israel     Shaviyt    0          0      1      1
 S Korea    Naro       0          0      1      1
                                ---           ---
                                 60            74
  *Arianespace headquartered in France; Dnepr and Zenit
  first stages designed and manufactured in the Ukraine

Eutelsat W3C

The W3C satellite was launched by a Chinese CZ-3BE on Oct 7 into
a 193 x 35806 km x 26.1 deg transfer orbit; on Oct 8 this
was raised to 4596 x 35800 km x 14.6 deg.
Eutelsat W3C is a Thales Spacebus 4000C3 with a launch mass of 5400 kg.


Thanks to Jon Giorgini for including trajectory data for GRAIL on JPL's
Horizons site. The two GRAIL spacecraft are on their way to Sun-Earth L1;
the Delta second stage is in a 0.88 x 1.05 AU x 0.01 deg heliocentric
orbit with a period of around 347 days.

Satellite catalog

For some reason, catalog numbers 37786 and 37787 have not been assigned.
Two pieces of minor debris from the NOAA 12 weather satellite have
been cataloged as 37831 and 37832.

Suborbital launches

According to lenta.ru and Pavel Podvig's russianforces.org, the Russian
Navy carried out the second test flight of the R-29MU2.1 Layner missile
from submarine K-114 Tula on Sep 29. The R-29MU2.1 is a version of
the R-29MU2 Sineva missile but carrying up to 10 reentry vehicles.
Meanwhile, India carried out launches of the Prithvi and Agni rockets
over the Bay of Bengal.

The THAAD antimissile system was tested on Oct 5 against two target
missiles. One target was probably the SR-19 based Coleman Aerospace
SRALT dropped out of a C-17 airplane, and the other was likely a Scud
surrogate of some kind launched from the Mobile Launch Platform ship
(former USS Tripoli)  off Kauai. The THAAD missiles were launched from a
truck on the Barking Sands missile base on the Kauai shore.

The first of a new type of Russian ICBM was launched at Plesetsk on Sep
27 at 0708 UTC, according to Pavel Podvig at russianforces.org. The
missile failed at a few km altitude, so is not included in my table of
suborbital space launches below. 

Erratum: launch of the SRALT rocket in July was Jul 9 0204, not Jul 8
1404 (thanks to Carl Rigg for the correction). Launch of China's
SJ-11-03 was recorded by Xinhua English edition as 0028 Beijing time but
daylight launch imagery confirms 1228 Beijing time (0428 UTC) is

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

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Sep 1  1343   ARAV?            Terrier Oriole?    Kauai               Target       150?
Sep 1  1344   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?

|  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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