[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 646

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Mon Sep 12 01:21:54 EDT 2011

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 646                                       2011 Sep 12    Somerville, MA, USA

International Space Station

Soyuz TMA-21 and Soyuz TMA-02M remain docked at the Station.
Progress M-11M undocked from Zvezda at 0938 UTC on Aug 23. After
several maneuvers to carry out the Radar-4 experiment, the vehicle
was deorbited over the Pacific at 0934 UTC on Sep 1.

The Progress M-12M cargo vessel (mission 44P) failed to reach orbit
after launch on Aug 24. 5 min 25s in to flight  a clogged fluid line in
the third stage engine's gas generator caused it to shut down. The
vehicle reentered after a suborbital flight and impacted in the
Gorno-Altai region of Russia. This was the first launch failure in 135
Progress launches. The launch vehicle was a Soyuz-U, one of many rocket
variants based on the original R-7 ICBM. The failure leaves the Station
crew with sufficient supplies, but will delay the launch of the
Expedition 29 replacement crew and the Soyuz TMA-03M spaceship on a
Soyuz-FG rocket  (ISS mission 28S) until the  Soyuz family is
requalified. The return to Earth of the first half of the Expedition 28
crew has also been briefly delayed and is now scheduled for  Sep 15-16.

Launch statistics of the Soyuz rocket family

Overall statistics are:
 Soyuz-U:            21 failures in 767 launches since 1973  (97.3% success)
 All Soyuz variants: 37 failures in 1209 launches since 1965 (96.9%, includes 8K78M)
 All R-7 family:     99 failures in 1775 launches since 1957 (94.4%)
The previous R-7-class failure was the Molniya launch in June 2005.

The Soyuz rocket was originally designed by Korolev's OKB-1 (now Energiya)
with production at the Progress factory in Samara; later versions were
designed at Samara.

The Soyuz-U (11A511U) rocket consists of the 11S59 `packet' with the core stage
and four strapons, and the 11S510 `Blok-I' third stage. The U stands
for `unified' and it followed an original 11A511 model Soyuz and
two minor variants, 
 - the 11A511L used for the T2K lunar vehicle tests
 - and the 11A511M used for the Orion cartographic satellite.
 - a Soyuz-U2 (11A511U2) version was developed using the higher-performance
    synthetic kerosene Syntin fuel, and 
 - the Soyuz-FG (11A511U-FG) with uprated main engines. 

All of these versions are very similar; the Soyuz-U and the Soyuz-FG are
still in service. A four-stage version, the Molniya-M (8K78M), was
basically a Soyuz or Soyuz-U with a `Blok-L' upper stage. Other fourth
stages, the Ikar (used in 1999) and the Fregat (since 2000) can be added
to the Soyuz but don't change  its designation, although I have included
the success or failure of Fregat in the statistics (it failed once).

Newly introduced are the Soyuz-2-1a and Soyuz-2-1b (14A14 series) with the
14S53 packet. The 1a has the same upper stage engine as the Soyuz-U while the 1b
has a new engine. 

How many launches has Soyuz had? We can distinguish the following cases
which I will include in the statistics -
  (C1) Orbital launch attempt, reaching the correct orbit  (success)
  (C2) Orbital launch attempt, success, with Soyuz stages suborbital and 
      additional fourth stage (Fregat, Blok L) performing orbit insertion
  (C3) Suborbital launch attempt, good trajectory and payload separation (success)
  (C4) Orbital launch attempt, failing to reach orbit
  (C5) Orbital launch attempt, reached orbit but not the right one
       (for example, fourth stage failures of the Molniya-M) or
      reached orbit but no payload separation (other rocket types have
      sometimes done this).
  (C6) Suborbital launch attempt, failure (wrong traj. or payload didn't sep.)
  (C7) Pad explosion during launch attempt - rocket destroyed,
      with no liftoff, or liftoff of escape tower and spacecraft only.  
  (C8) Pad explosion prior to launch attempt - e.g. while fuelling
 Not counted:
  (C9) Pad abort  (Engine ignition but no takeoff, rocket could be later reused)
 (C10) Scrub (no engine ignition, rocket could be reused),
 (C11) Rocket damaged or destroyed before reaching the launch pad. 

Readers should note that some authors do not include failures in
categories (C7) and (C8) in the failure count, which is fair enough.
Others are not interested in categories (C3) and (C6), so I provide
the detailed breakdown to let you pick your favorite numbers.
I'm sure some of you will suggest additional categories.

The breakdown for Soyuz in categories C1-C8 is:

             |---- SUCCESS-- | ---- FAIL -----------|
               C1   C2    C3  C4   C5   C6   C7  C8
 Soyuz         30    0    0   1    0    0    1    0   1966-76
 Soyuz-L        3    0    0   0    0    0    0    0   1970-71
 Soyuz-M        8    0    0   0    0    0    0    0   1971-76
 Soyuz-U      741    5    0  20    0    0    1    0   1973-
 Soyuz-U2      72    0    0   0    0    0    0    0   1982-95
 Molniya-M    266    1    0   2   11    0    0    0   1965-
 Soyuz-FG      29    6    0   0    0    0    0    0   2001-
 Soyuz-2-1a     0    6    1   0    1    0    0    0   2004-
 Soyuz-2-1b     3    0    1   0    0    0    0    0   2006-
 All Soyuz   1152   18    2  23   12    0    2    0  Total: 1209

We can also consider older versions using the same core stage design.
 - The original R-7 (8K71) missile was also used for satellite launch as
   8K71PS (Sputnik).
 - Its 8A91 variant was specifically designed for satellite use. 
 - The operational R-7A (8K74) missile replaced the R-7.
 - The 11A59 rocket was an R-7A used for space launch. 
 - An 11A510 rocket used an early version of the Soyuz core packet 
   without an upper stage. The 11A59 and 11A510 delivered their payloads
   to a suborbital trajectory and engines on the payload were used for 
   orbit insertion.

More widely used was the Vostok, which had a `Blok-E' upper stage and
had four closely similar variants:
 - the 8K72 (8K71 missile with E stage),
 - the 8K72K (with improved E stage engine),
 - the 8A92 (8K74 missile with improved E stage), 
 - and 8A92M (variant similar to 8A92 designed in Samara). 
 - The 11A57 Voskhod was an 8K74 with an early version of the Soyuz's Blok-I upper stage. 
 - The 8K78 Molniya added a Blok-L upper stage to the 11A57. (This may seem like a
complicated tangle but experts will realize I am over-simplifying... the
classification of Molniya sub-variants is especially controversial.)

             |---SUCCESS---- | ---- FAIL -----------|
                C1   C2   C3   C4   C5  C6    C7  C8

 R-7 (8K71)     0    0    16   0    0   10    0    0   1957-60
Sputnik 8K71PS  2    0     0   0    0    0    0    0   1957
Sputnik 8A91    1    0     0   1    0    0    0    0   1958

 R-7A (8K74)    0    0    26   0    0    2    0    0   1959-67
 11A59          0    2     0   0    0    0    0    0   1963-64
 11A510         0    2     0   0    0    0    0    0   1965-66
 Vostok 8K72    6    0     0   7    0    0    0    0   1958-60
 Vostok 8K72K  11    0     0   2    0    0    0    0   1950-64
 Vostok 8A92   40    0     0   4    0    0    1    0   1962-67
 Vostok 8A92M  92    0     0   1    0    0    0    1   1964-91
 Voskhod      286    0     0  13    0    0    0    0   1963-76
Molniya 8K78   20    0     0   9   11    0    0    0   1960-67
Non-Soyuz     458    4    42  37   11   12    1    1  Total: 566
Everything   1610   22    44  60   23   12    3    1  Total: 1775

 There are two marginal cases of (C4) which might be counted
as (C5) (it depends what you mean by 'orbit'): 
the 15 Apr 1960 launch of an E-3 probe which may have reached some
200000 km altitude, and the Oct 1979 Zenit-6 failure which happened in
the last seconds of ascent so might have had a positive perigee.

Of the 98 failures, 
  - 45 were in the lower `packet' stages (Blok A,B,V,G,D; including one 
    A/I stage separation failure),  
  - 24 were third stage failures (4 Blok E, 20 Blok I), 
  - 21 were fourth stage (20 Blok L, 1 Fregat), 
  - 2 were nose fairing failures and 7 are for causes which as yet
are not known in open sources, as far as I know. Note that some category
(C5) failures were due to explosions in Blok-I which did not prevent
orbit insertion but which damaged Blok-L enough that it didn't fire -
they used to be counted against Blok-L. It's hard to derive individual
stage reliabilities without resolving the 7 remaining cases.


Kosmotras launched a Dnepr rocket from the Yasniy spaceport carrying a
cluster of small satellites on Aug 17.  The Dnepr emerged from its silo
at 0712 UTC and the first two stages had separated by 0716 UTC. After
coast to a 700 km apogee, at 16 min after launch the third stage
satellite-carrier separated its protective cover (`gas-dynamic shield',
gasodinamicheskiy ekran) and then the payloads were ejected
at two-second intervals.

First to separate were AprizeSat 5 and 6, which were built by SpaceQuest
of Fairfax, Virginia for COM DEV subsidiary exactEarth, Ltd. of       
Cambridge, Ontario and carry AIS (maritime Automatic Identification
System) payloads for ship location tracking. The exactEarth system also
includes the SpaceQuest-owned satellites AprizeSat 3 and 4, and a COM DEV 
attached payload on ISRO's ResourceSat-2 satellite. AprizeSat 5 and 6
mass 14 kg each.

Next was the 10 kg Edusat technology satellite for the Universita di
Roma la  Sapienza, and the small  86 kg SSTL-100 NigeriaSat-X
demonstration satellite, built by  Surrey Satellite with participation
by Nigerian engineers. 

The fifth payload was Rasat, a 95 kg  Turkish Earth observation
satellite for TUBITAK UZAY, with a Korean-built imager. TUBITAK
is the Turkish science research council and UZAY is its Space Technology
Research Insitute in Ankara, formerly called BILTEN - its earlier
satellite, built by Surrey, was BILSAT-1 launched in 2003.

Sixth was Sich-2, a Ukrainian remote sensing satellite built by the Yuzhnoe
company with a mass of 175 kg. The first six payloads were launched
attached to a payload deck called `Platform A' which itself was ejected
at 0728 UTC, exposing the largest payload, NigeriaSat-2. NigeriaSat-2 is
a 268 kg Surrey SSTL-300 satellite with a 2.5m  resolution imager for
Nigeria's National Space Research Development Agency; it was separated
at 0728:36 UTC. Finally, a Yuzhnoe launch vehicle engineering payload
BPA-2 is attached to the Dnepr final stage, which as usual in Dnepr
launches ended up in a higher altitude orbit.

   Payload                              Orbit
   44E  AprizeSat-5 (exactEarth)        610 x 696 km x 98.3 deg
   44F  AprizeSat-6 (exactEarth)        627 x 697 km x 98.3 deg
   44A  Edusat (Roma-La Sapienza)       587 x 697 km x 98.3 deg
   44C  NigeriaSat-X  (NASRDA)          656 x 697 km x 98.3 deg
   44D  Rasat  (TUBITAK UZAY)           667 x 697 km x 98.3 deg
   44G  Sich-2 (NKAU)                   685 x 702 km x 98.3 deg
   44J  Platform A (Kosmotras)          692 x 710 km x 98.3 deg
   44B  NigeriaSat-2  (NASRDA)          693 x 728 km x 98.3 deg
   44H  BPA-2 (Yuzhnoe)                 692 x1295 km x 98.2 deg


The Russian Ekspress AM-4 communications satellite was delivered to
an incorrect orbit on Aug 18 when a Proton-M's Briz-M upper stage

The first two Briz-M burns, to 173 x 173 km, and 270 x 4998 km were
successful. The third burn, at 0052 UTC on Aug 18, seems to have gone
wrong and the DTB tank separated to a low 145 x 11340 km x 49 deg orbit;
after the fourth burn the payload ended up in a 694 x 20242 km orbit
instead of one with geosynchronous apogee. The Briz-M stage orbit was
1016 x 20900 km following a depletion burn at around 0946 UTC on Aug 18.
Russian authorities have announced that a timing error in the inertial
platform led to incorrect orientiation of the stage during the later


The fourth satellite in China's SJ-11 system, speculated by some
analysts to be an early warning constellation, was launched on Aug 18
but failed to reach orbit. At stage 2 ignition the CZ-2C rocket's
vernier engine suffered a mechanical failure.


China's Chang'e-2 space probe, which left lunar orbit on Jun 9,
arrived at the Sun-Earth L2 point on Aug 25, according to the Xinhua
news agency.


GRAIL, a NASA Discovery mission, was launched from Cape Canaveral on Sep
10. The Delta rocket reached Earth orbit at 1316 UTC and a deep space
coast trajectory at 1419 UTC. The two GRAIL spacecraft were attached to
the Delta rocket's second stage; GRAIL-A was deployed at 1428 UTC and GRAIL-B
at 1437 UTC. The spacecraft will reach the Sun-Earth L1 point 1.5 million km
from Earth and then fall back towards the Moon, reaching lunar orbit at
New Year. GRAIL-A lunar insertion is scheduled for 0100 UTC on Jan 1,
with GRAIL-B at 0200 UTC on Jan 2.

Suborbital flights

On Aug 27 the Russian Navy launched several reentry vehicles aboard a
Bulava missile from a submarine in the White Sea to impact in the
Pacific Ocean. A Topol' missile was flown from Plesetsk to Kamchatka
on Sep 3. Meanwhile, the first test flight of the Block IB version of
the SM-3 missile interceptor failed to hit its target on Sep 1.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Jul  6 0428   SJ-11-3           Chang Zheng 2C     Jiuquan           Unknown   30A
Jul  8 1529   Atlantis STS-135  Space Shuttle      Kennedy LC39A     Spaceship 31A
Jul 11 1541   TianLian 1-02     Chang Zheng 3C     Xichang           Data rel. 32A
Jul 13 0227   Globalstar M083 ) Soyuz-2-1A/Fregat  Baykonur LC31     Comms     33A  
              Globalstar M088 )                                      Comms     33B
              Globalstar M091 )                                      Comms     33C
              Globalstar M085 )                                      Comms     33D
              Globalstar M081 )                                      Comms     33E
              Globalstar M089 )                                      Comms     33F
Jul 15 1118   GSAT-12           PSLV-XL            Sriharikota       Comms     34A
Jul 15 2316   SES-3   )         Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur LC200/39 Comms     35A
              Kazsat-2)                                              Comms     35B
Jul 16 0641   GPS SVN 63        Delta 4M+(4,2)     Canaveral LC37B   Nav       36A
Jul 18 0231   Spektr-R          Zenit-3F/Fregat    Baykonur LC45/1   Astronomy 37A
Jul 20 0749   PSSC-2                               Atlantis,LEO      Tech      31B
Jul 26 2144   Beidou DW9        Chang Zheng 3A     Xichang           Nav       38A
Jul 29 0742   SJ11-02           Chang Zheng 2C     Jiuquan           Unknown   39A
Aug  3 1843   Radioskaf-V       -                  EVA, ISS          Comms   98-67CK
Aug  5 1625   Juno              Atlas 551          Canaveral SLC41   Probe     40A
Aug  6 2252   Astra 1N )        Ariane 5ECA        Kourou ELA3       Comms     41A
              BSAT 3c  )                                             Comms     41B
Aug 10 1615   Paksat 1R         Chang Zheng 3B     Xichang           Comms     42A
Aug 15 2257   Haiyang 2         Chang Zheng 4B     Taiyuan LC2       Rem.Sens. 43A
Aug 17 0712   NigeriaSat-X)                                          Tech      44C
              NigeriaSat-2)                                          Imaging   44B
              Edusat      )                                          Tech      44A
              Sich-2      )     Dnepr              Yasniy            Rem.Sens. 44G
              Rasat       )                                          Imaging   44D
              AprizeSat-5 )                                          Comms/AIS 44E
              AprizeSat-6 )                                          Comms/AIS 44F
              BPA-2       )                                          Tech      44H
Aug 17 2125   Ekspress AM-4     Proton-M/Briz-M    Baykonur          Comms     45A
Aug 18 0928   SJ11-04           Chang Zheng 2C     Jiuquan           Unknown   F02
Aug 24 1300   Progress M-12M    Soyuz-U            Baykonur          Cargo     F03
Sep 10 1308   GRAIL-A   )       Delta 7920H        Canaveral SLC17B  Lunar     46A    
              GRAIL-B   )                                            Lunar     46B

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Jul  8 1404   SRALT            SR-19              C-17, Point Mugu    Target       200?
Jul 10 1400   NASA 21.140GE    Black Brant V      Wallops I LA2       Ionosphere   158?
Jul 10 1400   NASA 41.090GE    Terrier Orion      Wallops I LA2       Ionosphere   158?
Jul 11 1535?  Gradicom         Gradicom 2         Chamical            Test         100
Jul 21 1158   NASA 41.092GO    Terrier Orion      Wallops I           Edu          160?
Jul 27 1001   GT205 RV         Minuteman III      Vandenberg LF04     Test        1300?
Jul 27        RV x 4?          Sineva             K-84, Barents Sea   Test        1000?
Aug 11 1445   HTV-2b           Minotaur 4 Lite    Vandenberg SLC8     Test         100?
Aug 27 0320   RV x 6?          Bulava             K-535, White Sea    Test        1000?
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?

|  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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