[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 661

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Sun Jul 1 12:11:45 EDT 2012

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 661                                       2012 Jul 1    Somerville, MA USA

International Space Station

On the ISS, Expedition 31, with commander Oleg Kononeko, and
astronauts FE-1 Gennadiy Padalka, FE-2 Sergey Revin, FE-3 Joe Acaba,
FE-5 Andre Kuipers and  FE-6 Don Pettit, continued until Jun 30.
On Jul 1 at 0448 UTC Soyuz TMA-03M undocked from Rassvet under the command
of Kononenko, with Expedition 32 beginning on ISS under the command of Padalka.

Kononenko, Kuipers and Pettit returned to Earth aboard TMA-03M on Jul 1.
The deorbit burn at 0719 UTC lowered the Soyuz's perigee into the
atmosphere The orbital module and service module (BO and PAO) separated
from the descent module (SA) at 0747 UTC. All three objects reentered
beginning at around 0751 UTC, with the BO and PAO burning up and the
heat-shielded SA carrying the crew touching down in Kazakhstan at 0814:48 UTC.

Padalka, Revin and Acaba are expected to be joined by Sunita Williams,
Yuriy Malenchenko and Akido Hoshide aboard Soyuz TMA-05M later this month.

Shenzhou and Tiangong

The Shenzhou-9 crew undocked from Tiangong 1 at 0309 UTC on Jun 24 and
backed off to 300 m, then reapproached first to 140m and then to a
manually controlled redocking carried out by Liu Wang at 0449 UTC.
(These times are based on the live TV reports; the post-landing press
conference gave slightly later times.) On Jun 28 at 0122 UTC Shenhzhou 9
undocked again for the last time; a brief manual re-rendezvous to 140m
was carried out, possibly around 0300 UTC? Return to Earth came on Jun
29 with orbital module sep at about 0116 UTC, retrofire at 0117 UTC,
service module sep at 0138 UTC and landing at 0202 UTC in Siziwangqi,
a district in Ulanqab prefecture in Inner Mongolia. Bob Christy has a nice summary of the
reentry at http://www.zarya.info/Diaries/China/Shenzhou/9/Shenzhou9Landing.php

The Shenzhou 9 orbital module ('guidao cang') was jettisoned into a 333 x 354 km
orbit, but has not yet been tracked by the US.


The NuSTAR hard X-ray observatory extended its ten-meter mast on Jun 21
from 1743 to 1809 UTC,  a critical mission event which places its twin
optics modules at the correct distance from the focal plane detectors.
It was reported on Jun 28 that the first light observation of Cyg X-1 
was successful and shows a good image.


On Jun 20 a Lockheed Martin Atlas V 401, serial AV-023, was launched
from Cape Canaveral on the NROL-38 mission for the National
Reconnaissance Office. Analysts expect that the payload is a Satellite
Data System communications and data relay satellite to be placed in
geostationary orbit. The payload will probably be given the cover name
USA 236. The Centaur stage is believed to have been deorbited after completing
one elliptical revolution.


On Jun 29 the NROL-15 mission was launched on a Delta 4 Heavy, the first to use
uprated RS-68A engines instead of the usual RS-68. The new engines were developed
especially for the NROL-15 payload, which is therefore assumed to be unusually
heavy. Evidence suggests a launch to geostationary orbit; the mission is likely to
be a geostationary signals intelligence satellite. It is unclear whether the extra
performance needed reflects an evolutionary (`block') change in the existing series
of payloads (referred to as Advanced ORION by outside observers) or indicates
an entirely new system of some kind, either as a successor or as a parallel system
with a different mission. In my satellite tables I will assume for the sake
of definiteness that it is a block change, and denote it `Heavy ORION' for the time being. 
The Delta 4's 5-meter second stage is also believed to be in near-geosynchronous orbit.

 Following on from the list in JSR 605:

Probable satellites in the RHYOLITE lineage
For the satellites launched after 1990, no codename has been leaked. (The codename, of
course, changes each time it is leaked).
The 'Block' is a name made up by me to indicate suspected changes in satellite design.

RH  Desig.    Unclass. Name           Launch date  Launch vehicle flight    Codename  Block
 1  1970-46A  OPS 5346 (Program 720)  1970 Jun 19  Atlas Agena S/N 5201A    RHYOLITE  RHYOLITE
 2  1973-13A  OPS 6063 (Program 720)  1973 Mar  6  Atlas Agena S/N 5202A    RHYOLITE  RHYOLITE
 3  1977-114A OPS 4258 (Program 472)  1977 Dec 11  Atlas Agena S/N 5504A    AQUACADE  RHYOLITE
 4  1978-38A  OPS 8790 (Program 472)  1978 Apr  7  Atlas Agena S/N 5505A    AQUACADE  RHYOLITE
 5  1985-10B  USA 8                   1985 Jan 24  Shuttle Mission 51-C     MAGNUM    MAGNUM
 6  1985-90B  USA 48                  1989 Nov 23  Shuttle Mission STS-33   ORION     MAGNUM
 7  1995-22A  USA 110                 1995 May 14  Titan-Centaur 17                   Advanced ORION
 8  1998-29A  USA 139                 1998 May  9  Titan-Centaur 18                   Advanced ORION
 9  2003-41A  USA 171                 2003 Sep  9  Titan-Centaur 20                   Advanced ORION
10  2009-01A  USA 202                 2009 Jan 18  Delta 337  (4H/RS68)               Advanced ORION
11  2010-63A  USA 223                 2010 Nov 21  Delta 351  (4H/RS68)               Advanced ORION
12  2012-34A  USA 237                 2012 Jun 29  Delta 360  (4H/RS68A)              Heavy ORION


The US Air Force's X-37B flight vehicle 2, which had been in orbit since
March 2011, landed on the runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 1248
UTC on June 16. The spacecraft had been in a 330 x 340 km x 42.8 deg
orbit until a series of burns lowered it to 280 km during late May;
hobbyist observers last saw it on May 31. The circa-5000-kg robot
spaceplane, launched on an Atlas V, carried a secret payload. Flight
vehicle 1, which flew in orbit from Apr-Dec 2010, is being prepared for
its second spaceflight. The X-37B project is managed by the USAF's Rapid
Capabilities Office in Washington; the vehicle was developed by Air
Force Research Laboratory offices AFRL/RV at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico
and AFRL/RB (Air Vehicles) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, with Boeing
Phantom Works. This sets it apart from other USAF space projects which
are mostly managed out of Los Angeles, and indicates a closer connection
with the `air' side of the Air Force.

2012 Orbital launch summary to date

35 launches: 
China  Russia USA  Europe  India Japan Iran N Korea
 10       9    9     3       1      1   1    1(fail)

Suborbital launches

Sounding rocket NASA 36.286 was launched from White Sands on Jun 23
carrying a payload to calibrate the SDO-EVE experiment on the Solar
Dynamics Observatory satellite. Principal investigator is Tom Woods of
U. Colorado. The rocket measured the spectrum and brightness of the Sun
in the EUV and soft X-ray bands. Meanwhile, Jonathan Cirtain of
NASA-Marshall is preparing two more solar rockets, NASA 36.284NS (SUMI)
and NASA 36.272NS (Hi-C), for launch at White Sands in the coming weeks.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory was also involved in building the
Hi-C payload and SAO scientist Kelly Korreck is in New Mexico for the
launch. Good luck Jonathan and Kelly!

Germany's SHEFEX-II hypersonics experiment was launched on Jun 22
from Andoya in Norway. The two-stage Brazilian VS-40 rocket, with
S-40 and S-44 motors, launched the reentry vehicle northwards into
the Arctic.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
May  4 1842   AEHF 2             Atlas V 531       Canaveral SLC41   Comms     19A
May  6 0710   Tianhui 1-02       Chang Zheng 2D    Jiuquan SLS2      Imaging   20A
May 10 0706   Yaogan Weixing 14) Chang Zheng 4B    Taiyuan           Imaging   21A
              Tiantuo 1        )                                     Tech/Sci  21B
May 15 0301   Soyuz TMA-04M      Soyuz-FG          Baykonur LC1/5    Spaceship 22A
May 15 2213   JCSAT 13   )       Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     23A?
              Vinasat 2  )                                           Comms     23B?
May 17 1405   Kosmos-2480        Soyuz-U           Plesetsk LC16     Imaging   24A
May 17 1639   Shizuku    )       H-2A              Tanegashima Y1    Climate   25A
              Arirang-3  )                                           Imaging   25B
              SDS-4      )                                           Tech      25C?
              Horyu-2    )                                           Tech      25D
May 17 1912   Nimiq 6            Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC81/24  Comms     26A
May 22 0744   Dragon C2  )       Falcon 9          Canaveral LC40    Cargo     27A
              Celestis 11)                                           Burial    27B
May 26 1556   Zhongxing 2A       Chang Zheng 3B/E  Xichang           Comms     28A
May 29 0731   Yaogan Weixing 15  Chang Zheng 4C    Taiyuan           Radar?    29A
Jun  1 0523   Intelsat IS-19     Zenit-3SL         Odyssey, Pacific  Comms     30A
Jun 13 1600   NuStar             Pegasus XL        L-1011,Kwajalein  Astronomy 31A
Jun 16 1037   Shenzhou 9         Chang Zheng 2F    Jiuquan           Spaceship 32A
Jun 20 1228   USA 236 (NROL-38)  Atlas 5 401       Canaveral SLC41   Comms?    33A
Jun 29 1315   USA 237 (NROL-15)  Delta 4H          Canaveral SLC37B  Sigint?   34A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

May 10 0618   FTM-16/2A Target Terrier Orion      Kauai               Target       100?
May 10 0620?  FTM-16/2A KV     SM-3 Block IB      USS Lake Erie       Intercept    100?
May 23 0615   RV               Topol'-M2?         Plesetsk            R&D         1000?
Jun  7 1739   RV               Topol'             Kapustin Yar        Op Test     1000?
Jun 21 1040   NASA 41.101UO    Terrier Orion      Wallops I.          Education    117
Jun 22 1918   SHEFEX II        VS-40              Andoya              Hypersonic   177
Jun 23 1930   NASA 36.286UE    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Solar        300?

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |          jcm at cfa.harvard.edu       |
|                                                                         |
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