[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 662

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Sun Jul 15 02:02:52 EDT 2012

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 662                                       2012 Jul 15    Somerville, MA USA

International Space Station

On the ISS, Expedition 32, with astronauts Gennadiy Padalka, Sergey
Revin and Joseph Acaba, is continuing. Soyuz TMA-05M was launched on Jul
15 carrying Yuri Malenchenko (Roskosmos), Sunita Williams (NASA), and
Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA); the spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the
Rassvet module.

Ariane L563

Arianespace launched flight VA207 with vehicle L563 on Jul 5, carrying
Echostar 17 and Meteosat MSG 3 to geostationary transfer orbit.

Echostar 17 is a 6100 kg Loral-1300E satellite for US domestic Ka-band
broadband data communications. It was developed for Hughes Network
Systems, now a subsidiary of Echostar. On Jul 14 Echostar 17 had reached
a 35429 x 35777 km x 0.0 deg geostationary drift orbit over 120W.

MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) flight 3 will become Meteosat 10 on
reaching operational status. This 10th European geostationary weather
satellite is operated by EUMETSAT, the European Organization for the
Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, which is based in Darmstadt.
MSG 3 was inserted in a 253 x 35761 km x 6.0 deg transfer orbit; orbital
data after Jul 7 are not yet available. According to reports by the
Meteosat LEOP team, apogee firings were performed on Jul 7, 8, 10 and
11, and the SEVIRI cooler cover and SEVIRI baffle cover (10 kg and 4 kg
respectively) were ejected on Jul 13 at 0406 UTC. SEVIRI, the Spinning
Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager, is MSG's main instrument, a
12-channel optical radiometer. The ejected covers from MSG 2 (Meteosat 9)
were cataloged, but those from MSG 1 (Meteosat 8) were not.

Tiangong and Shenzhou

Following the departure of Shenzhou 9, the Tiangong 1 spacelab was moved
to a higher orbit. At around the same time, the SZ-9 orbital module (OM)
was jettisoned just before the main SZ-9 spaceship was deorbited. It
appears that US tracking reports on Tiangong 1 between then and July 6,
in a 330 x 338 km orbit were actually for the SZ-9 OM, with the real
Tiangong being mistagged as something else. The OM was finally cataloged
on Jul 6 in a 330 x 338 km orbit, and Tiangong 1 was rediscovered in a 354 x 365 km orbit.
Credit to Bob Christy (http://www.zarya.info) for spotting what's been
going on. The nature of object 38465, probably ejected from Shenzhou 9
early in its mission into a 262 x 377 km orbit, is still unclear; the
slowly decaying debris object may be a docking unit cover.


The SES-5 communications satellite was launched from Baykonur on Jul 9.
The 6007 kg Loral-1300 satellite has Ku and C band communications
payloads for SES and an L-band EGNOS navigation system for the European
Space Agency. SES-5 was formerly Sirius 5; the Nordiska Satellite company
was bought by SES and progressively absorbed by them between 2005 and
2010. Gunter Krebs has reported that SES-5 was renamed Astra 4B in 2010,
but all the current SES press releases use the SES-5 name.

  Sirius satellites: 
    Sirius 1 (Sirius W)  Bought 1993 Dec   Retired 2003 May
    Sirius 2 (Astra 5A)  Launch 1997 Nov   Retired 2009 Apr
    Sirius 3             Launch 1998 Oct   In GEO at 51.2E
    Sirius 4 (Astra 4A)  Launch 2007 Nov   In GEO at 4.8E
    SES 5    (Astra 4B?) Launch 2012 Jul   In transfer orbit

By Jul 13 SES-5 was in a 25947 x 35782 km x 2.5 deg orbit.


The NRO has just declassified a set of documents on the QUILL satellite.
By the late 1980s I realized that the satellite launched on 1964 Dec 21 was
anomalous - it didn't have quite the same orbit as typical missions in
what we now know was the CORONA series - and noted it as FTV 2355 in a
1995 article in QUEST magazine, saying it was 'particularly mysterious'.
Dwayne Day solved the mystery in 2001 (Spaceflight 43,288) and wrote
more about it in 2010 (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1631/1).

We now know that this satellite was the world's first SAR (synthetic
aperture radar) imaging satellite, flown as a proof of concept and used
to image test targets in the US, proving that space radar could identify
features through cloud cover. It was not followed up for many years -
the civilian NASA Seasat mission in 1978 was the next SAR flight.

QUILL was launched on 1964 Dec 21 at 1909 UTC. The 1477 kg satellite
consisted of a modified Lockheed CORONA/Agena vehicle, with a 0.6 x 4.6m
Goodyear X-band (9.6 GHz) radar antenna panel flush with the body of the
Agena D upper stage, vehicle 2355. The camera system in the payload body
was replaced by the KP-II radar itself and a recorder/transmitter
system.  A Thrust Augmented Thor boosted the Agena to a suborbital
trajectory; a fairing over the antenna was ejected and then the Agena
made a 4 minute burn to achieve a 236 x 263 km x 70.1 deg orbit. Data
was radioed to the Vandenberg and New Boston (New Hampshire) ground
stations, and also recorded onto videotape wound into a CORONA-type Mark
VA recovery capsule, SRV 588.  On 1964 Dec 23 at 2022 UTC the 139 kg SRV
was ejected over the Kodiak, Alaska tracking station and fired its
TE-236A solid motor to reenter, descending on parachutes for mid-air
recovery at 2056 UTC over the Pacific northeast of Hawaii, at 23 38N 143
45W. The KP-II radar continued operations until Dec 26 when the
spacecraft batteries failed, and the QUILL spacecraft reentered at 1027
UTC on 1965 Jan 11 over the South Atlantic.

2012 Orbital launch summary to date

38 launches: (Russia retakes the lead)
Russia China USA  Europe  India Japan Iran N Korea
  11    10   9     4       1      1   1    1(fail)


The preferred English translation of Zhongxing-2A is "Chinasat-2A", not "Chinastar-2A".
Apologies for the slip-up.

Suborbital launches

The second flight of Jonathan Cirtain's SUMI (Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Investigation)
payload went off (apparently successfully) from White Sands on Jul 5. Launch of Hi-C
(High Resolution Coronal Imager) also went off smoothly on Jul 11.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
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
Jul  5 2136   Echostar 17  )     Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     35A
              Meteosat 10  )                                         Weather   35B
Jul  9 1838   SES-5              Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC81/24  Comms     36A
Jul 15 0240   Soyuz TMA-05M      Soyuz-FG          Baykonur LC1/5    Spaceship 37A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

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?
Jun 27 0915   FTM-18 Target    Castor 4B?         Kauai               Target       100?
Jun 27 0920?  FTM-18 KV        SM-3 Block IB      USS Lake Erie       Intercept    100?
Jul  3        Shahab RV        Shahab 1           ?, Iran             Exercise     100?
Jul  3        Shahab RV        Shahab 2           ?, Iran             Exercise     100?
Jul  3        Shahab RV        Shahab 3           ?, Iran             Exercise     150?
Jul  5 1850   NASA 36.284NS    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Solar        275?
Jul 11 1850   NASA 36.272NS    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Solar        268

|  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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