[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 660

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Tue Jun 19 13:42:58 EDT 2012

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 660                                        2012 Jun 19  Somerville, MA USA

Space Station

Expedition 31 continues 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.

Space station docking ports:

  Port      Spacecraft
  PMA-2     vacant
  PMA-3     vacant
  Zvezda    Edoardo Amaldi  (cargo)
  Pirs      Progress M-15M  (cargo)
  Poisk     Soyuz TMA-04M   (ferry)
  Rassvet   Soyuz TMA-03M   (ferry)
  Harmony   vacant (was Dragon C2+,cargo)

The mass of Dragon C2+ was probably around 6650 kg at launch.
(Thanks to Bernd Leitenberger for useful pointers to Dragon masses).
It's still not clear how much of this is the mass of the trunk versus
the mass of the reentry capsule; my guess is around 500 to 1000 kg for
the trunk and solar panels.

Dragon C2+ was unberthed from Harmony at 0807 UTC May 31 by the station
SSRMS arm, and released at 0949 UTC. The deorbit burn from 1451 UTC to
1501 UTC reduced the spacecraft's velocity by 100 m/s and lowered the
orbit to around 62 x 392 km. The trunk separated at 1509 UTC and entry
began at 1525 UTC. Splashdown at approximately 120N 27W in the Pacific
occurred at 1542 UTC.

Shenzhou 9

The Shenzhou 9 mission is a major step for the Chinese space program,
featuring their first piloted docking. It's roughly comparable to a
combination of the Gemini 8/Agena and Soyuz-11/Salyut-1 missions (but I
hope it will end more successfuly than either of those flights).
Tiangong-1  is smaller than the early Salyuts, and has caused some
pedantic discussion about the definition of a space station (regular
readers will appreciate that pedantic is not a derogatory term in my
book :-)); In the spirit of my friends the Pluto-killers, I will
count TG-1 as a 'dwarf space station'.

Launch of China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft took place on Jun 16. The crew
is commanded by Brig. (daxiao) Jing Haipeng (who flew on SZ-7) and
includes Brig. Liu Wang and Maj. (shaoxiao) Liu Yang. Major Liu  is the
first woman to fly in a Chinese space crew, and her launch as the 56th
woman in space came on the 49th anniversary of the flight of Valentina
Vladimirovna Tereshkova.
(Note: the daxiao rank is sometimes translated 'Senior Col.' and is
roughly equivalent to UK 'Brig.', but no direct US equivalent I think.)

The Shenzhou program is managed by the  Zhongguo zairen hangtian
gongcheng bangonghsi (China Manned Space Engineering Office)
which is part of the PLA's Zong Zhuangbei Bu (General Armaments Dept).

At about 1440 UTC on Jun 17 the ship maneuvered from 261 x 315 km to 315
x 326 km. On June 18 at 0608 UTC the Shenzhou 9 spaceship docked with
the Tiangong 1 spacelab. At 0910 UTC the three astronauts opened the
TG-1 hatch and entered the lab for the first time. (The robot Shenzhou 8
ship had docked with TG-1, but this is the first visit with a crew).


On May 26 China launched a CZ-3B rocket from Xichang placing the ZX-2A
(Zhongxing-2A, Chinastar-2A) spacecraft in a 207 x 35786 km x 27.1 deg
geostationary transfer orbit. ZX-2A is believed to be a new generation
strategic military communications satellite for the Zhonggou Renmin Jiefangjun 
(Chinese People's Liberation Army) and may have the classified name Shentong-2.
On Jun 15 the spacecraft was in a 35780 x 35793 km x 0.2 deg geostationary
orbtit over 98E, following an apogee burn sometime around May 30.


On May 29 Yaogan Weixing shiwu hao ('Remote Sensing Satellite No. 15')
was launched from Taiyuan space center by a three-stage CZ-4C into
a 1201 x 1206 km x 100.1 deg sun-synchronous orbit with a 2:30pm local time
descending node. The CZ-4C third stage made a depletion burn to
lower its orbit to 966 x 1207 km.


The two GRAIL spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, in a 25 x 86 km lunar orbit,
completed their primary mission on May 29 and their science instruments
were turned off until Aug 30, when they will begin a several-month
extended mission in a 23-km altitude orbit.


On Jun 1 Sea Launch flew a Zenit-3SL from the Odyssey launch platform on
the equator, at 154W 0 N. The rocket's second stage flew to a
-2174 x 188 km trajectory, followed by the first burn of the DM-SL
third stage which reached a 180 x 1065 km x 0.0 deg parking orbit
at 0536 UTC. After a second burn the payload was delivered
to an 882 x 35804 km x 0.4 deg geostationary transfer orbit. On Jun 15
the spacecraft was in a 35665 x 35866 km x 0.2 deg orbit over 170.8E.

Payload of the Zenit is Intelsat IS-19, a Loral 1300 type satellite
with a C and Ku-band communications payload for Intelsat. One
of the satellite's solar arrays was damaged during ascent, shortly
after fairing separation, and investigation is still underway.


NASA's NuStar satellite was launched on Jun 13. It is the first X-ray
astronomy satellite with optics able to focus `hard' X-rays (about
10-100 keV in general, 6-80 keV in this particular case); an extendable
mast carries two optics modules, each 0.38m in diameter and focussing
images onto 64 x 64 pixel CdZnTe detector arrays, with 40 arcsecond
spatial resolution. The spacecraft will be particularly useful
for studying obscured black holes (ones whose other radiation is absorbed
by surrounding material) and the distribution of chemical elements in
supernova remnants.

The L-1011 airplane took off from Kwajalein at 1500 UTC and dropped the
Pegasus at 1600:37 UTC over 167.70E 6.74N. The vehicle reached orbit at
1610 UTC, and NuStar separated from the third stage at 1613 UTC in a 627
x 633 km x 6.0 deg orbit. The equatorial orbit avoids the high particle
background seen by polar orbit satellites. 

The NuStar optics module boom will be deployed on June 20 if all goes well.
The 360 kg satellite is a small telescope, but the hard X-ray band
is relatively little-explored. The major X-ray observatories - Chandra
and XMM-Newton - work in the 0.5-10 keV `normal' X-ray range, and
the gamma-ray observatories start paying attention around 100 keV and upwards.

Suborbital launches

On Jun 7 a training launch of a Topol' missile from Kapustin Yar to Sary Shagan
was widely observed from Armenia, Iran and other countries in the region.
Several astronomy sounding rockets are at White Sands preparing for launch
in the coming weeks.

2012 Orbital launch summary to date

33 launches: China 10, Russia 9, US 7, Europe 3, India 1, Japan 1,
Iran 1, N Korea 1 (failed). I am counting Sea Launch as US, taking into
account that the Blok DM-SL upper stage of the Sep 2011
AB-7 launch was registered with the United Nations by the United States.

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

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?

|  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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