[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 668

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Mon Oct 8 21:17:34 EDT 2012

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 668                                             2012 Oct  8 Somerville, MA USA

International Space Station

Expedition 33 continues with commander Suni Williams, FE-4 Yuriy Malenchenko
and FE-6 Aki Hoshide.

The European cargo ship ATV-3 'Edoardo Amaldi' undocked at 2144 UTC on
Sep 28 and was deorbited over the Pacific at 2342 UTC on Oct 2, with
loss of signal at 0125 UTC on Oct 3.

On Oct 4 the two J-SSOD cubesat deployers were moved outside the Kibo
equipment airlock by the JEM-RMS robot arm. The first J-SSOD ejected its
payloads at 1432 UTC - the RAIKO and We Wish cubesats. The second J-SSOD
deployed F-1, Niwaka, and TechEdSat at 1544 UTC. These five objects
have not been cataloged as of Oct 8.

On Oct 8 at 0035 UTC the fourth SpaceX Falcon 9 was launched and
delivered the Dragon CRS-1 spacecraft to a 203 x 326 km x 51.7 deg
orbit. One first stage engine had an anomaly at max Q (T+1:20) with some
debris observed falling away; the engine was shut down but the remaining
engines and the second stage compensated to reach the initial orbit.
However, extra propellant was used and stage 2 did not restart as
planned. The mission's  secondary payload, the first Orbcomm Second
Generation communications satellite, was ejected at 0137 UTC into a 203
x 323 km orbit instead of its planned 350 x 750 km insertion orbit. 
Orbcomm will not be able to get to its operational 750 x 750 km orbit
but there's a chance they'll get a few months of system tests out of it.
A further small debris object has been cataloged in low orbit.

  Cataloged Falcon 9 Flight 4 objects:
(I've matched up the cataloged objects 2012-54A to F with particular
named objects based on my own best guesses)

  2012-54A  Dragon CRS-1 spacecraft     202 x 323 km x 51.65 deg
  2012-54B  Orbcomm OG2-1               203 x 322 km x 51.64
  2012-54C  Falcon 9 Stage 2            175 x 309 km x 51.65
  2012-54D  Dragon solar array cover    200 x 320 km x 51.64
  2012-54E  Dragon solar array cover    201 x 325 km x 51.64
  2012-54F  Falcon 9 debris object      195 x 309 km x 51.65

With a successful primary payload insertion and a secondary payload in 
an off-nominal orbit, I would assess the launch as a 85 percent success
for statistical purposes, and I'll add it to my database as an overall
launch success. The ability of the Falcon 9 to recover from a  first
stage engine failure is impressive.

Dragon CRS-1 is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS and be berthed at the Harmony
module. As on previous launches, SpaceX is keeping the mass of the Dragon spacecraft
a secret. It is possibly around 7000 kg.

Erratum: the Soyuz TMA-04M landing time was 0252:53 UTC.


The USA 238 satellite, launched on the NROL-36 mission, is believed to
be a naval signals intelligence satellite. Observations by Kevin Fetter
and other hobbyists, reported on the SeeSat list, confirm the presence
of the expected second payload in USA-238's 1010 x 1200 km orbit. This
second payload has been cataloged by the US government as 'debris', but
is observed to be able to manuever.

Metop B

The European weather satellite agency EUMETSAT's second METOP satellite, METOP B,
was launched from Baykonur on Sep 17. The Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle's upper stage,
Fregat No. 1037, placed the satellite in a 805 x 809 km x 98.7 deg, 0928LTDN sun-synchronous
orbit. The Soyuz third stage was suborbital.


Fajr was a 50 kg satellite built by IEI (Iran Electronics Industry),
with an imaging payload and a small thruster. It was expected to be
launched by a two-stage Safir rocket from the Semnan launch site on May
23, but frequent Iranian media reports in advance of the expected date
were followed by sudden silence.

Evidence of launch pad burn marks were presented in an article by N. Hansen
in Jane's Intelligence Review, and  other unsourced reports
discussed on nasaspaceflight.com claimed that US authorities detected a launch.
This leads me to tentatively conclude that the Fajr satellite was indeed
launched as scheduled on or around May 23 but failed to reach orbit.  

Recent statements from Iran say that the Fajr satellite will be launched
in the coming months; under the interpretation discussed here, this must
be a backup flight model.

The launch failure rumours are not specific and don't indicate whether
the failure was a low altitude first stage problem or a high altitude
second stage malfunction. I am adding the alleged Fajr failure to my
launch lists, but let me emphasize that I still regard reality of the
launch, and its date, as uncertain pending more substantive confirmation
either from the Iranians or from US government sources. In a US election
year, rumour-intelligence about Iranian missile activity will have a
higher-than-usual tendency to bias and overinterpretation and must be
treated with extra caution.

The Iranian orbital launch record is thus as follows:
   2008 Aug 16  Omid   - failed to orbit
   2009 Feb  2  Omid   - success
   2011 Jun 15  Rasad  - success
   2012 Feb  3  Navid  - success
   2012 May 23? Fajr   - failed to orbit? (uncertain)


The Russian Defense Ministry's Kosmos-2480 spacecraft, a Kobal't-M
imaging satellite, landed on Sep 24 around 1703 UTC. A deorbit burn at
around 1639 UTC was followed by separation of the service module and reentry
of the pressurized main payload section which contains cameras and film.

Ariane VA209

Arianespace's VA209 mission, with Ariane 5ECA vehicle 565, was launched on Sep 28.
The payloads were Astra 2F and GSAT-10. Astra 2F is an Astrium Eurostar 3000 for
SES of Luxembourg; GSAT 10 is an I-3K class satellite built by and for the
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), carrying C and Ku band comms payloads
and the second GAGAN L-band navigation payload. It reached GEO on Oct 1 and
will be stationed at 83W. 

Francisco de Miranda

China launched a CAST-2000 class remote sensing satellite into a 621 x
654 km x 98.0 deg, 1030 LTDN sun-synchronous orbit on Sep 29. The
satellite, `Venezuela Yaogan Weixing yi hao' (Venezuela Remote Sensing
Satellite 1) was purchased by Venezuela and is named by them `Miranda',
after Sebastian Francisco de Miranda Rodriguez 'El Precursor'
(1750-1816). It should not be confused with the UK's Miranda satellite
launched in 1974 (named after the character in Shakespeare's Tempest).


The third GPS Block IIF satellite, spacecraft 65, was launched on Oct 4
to replace SVN 39. The Delta IV launch vehicle flew to a 163 x 394 km x
41.6 deg parking orbit (according to spaceflightnow.com) followed by a
254 x 20448 km x 43.3 deg transfer orbit and, following a  third burn,
the targeted  20426 x 20481 km x 55.0 deg circular orbit where the
satellite was deployed. The RL-10 second stage engine operated at lower
than planned thrust during the first two burns, but onboard software
compensated by increasing the duration of the engine firings.

Suborbital launches

NASA tested a new high performance sounding rocket on Sep 2. The Talos-Terrier-Oriole
carried a dummy Nihka fourth stage as part of its 775 kg payload. The full
Oriole XII (Talos-Terrier-Oriole-Nihka) rocket will be flown to 777 km above Poker Flat to study
the aurora as flight NASA 49.001, possibly in Feb 2013.

Indian Strategic Forces Command carried out a training launch of a
Prithvi missile on Oct 4 and a Dhanush ship launched version on Oct 5.
The reentry vehicles splashed down in the Bay of Bengal. In September,
India launched larger Agni 2, 3 and 4 missiles.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Aug  1 1935   Progress M-16M     Soyuz-U           Baykonur LC1      Cargo     42A
Aug  2 2054   Intelsat IS-20 )   Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     43A
              Hylas 2        )                                       Comms     43B
Aug  6 1931   Telkom-3    )      Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC81/24  Comms     44A
              Ekspress MD2)                                          Comms     44B
Aug 19 0655   Intelsat IS-21     Zenit-3SL         SL Odyssey, Pacific Comms   45A
Aug 20 1829   Sfera-53           -                 ISS, LEO          Sci       98-067CM
Aug 30 0805   RBSP A )           Atlas V 401       Canaveral SLC41   Sci       46A
              RBSP B )                                               Sci       46B
Sep  9 0423   SPOT 6    )        PSLV-CA           Sriharikota LP1   Imaging   47A
              PROITERES )                                            Tech      47B
Sep 13 2139   USA 238       )    Atlas V 401       Vandenberg SLC3E  Sigint    48A
              USA 238 P/L 2 )                                        Sigint    48Q?
              OUTSat        )                                        Tech      48N
              SMDC-ONE 1.2  )                                        Comms     48B
              Aeneas        )                                        Comms     48C
              CSSWE         )                                        Sci       48D
              CXBN          )                                        XR Astron 48E
              CP5           )                                        Tech      48F
              CINEMA 1      )                                        Sci       48G
              Re/STARE      )                                        Tracking  48H
              SMDC-ONE 1.1  )                                        Comms     48J
              Aerocube-4    )                                        Tech?     48M
              Aerocube-4.5A )                                        Tech?     48K
              Aerocube-4.5B )                                        Tech?     48L
Sep 17 1628   METOP-B            Soyuz-2-1A        Baykonur LC31     Weather   49A
Sep 18 1910   Beidou DW14   )    Chang Zheng 3BE   Xichang LC2       Navsat    50A 
              Beidou DW15   )                                        Navsat    50B 
Sep 28 2118   Astra 2F   )       Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     51A?
              GSAT-10    )                                           Comms/Nav 51B?
Sep 29 0412   Miranda            Chang Zheng 2D    Jiuquan           Imaging   52A 
Oct  4 1210   GPS SVN65          Delta 4M+(4,2)    Canaveral SLC37B  Navsat    53A
Oct  4 1437   RAIKO    )                           ISS Kibo, LEO     Tech      
              We Wish  )                                             Tech
Oct  4 1544   F-1      )                           ISS Kibo, LEO     Tech      
              Niwaka   )                                             Tech
              TechEdSat)                                             Tech
Oct  8 0035   Dragon CRS-1 )     Falcon 9          Canaveral SLC40   Cargo     54A
              Orbcomm OG2-1)                                         Comms     54B

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Aug  7 0730   S-310-41         S-310              Uchinoura           Reentry test 150
Aug  9 0316   Agni RV          Agni II            Chandipur           Test         220?
Aug 16        RV               JL-2               Xia sub, Bohai      Test        1000?
Aug 20        RV               DF-5A              Taiyuan             Test        1000?
Aug 30        RV               DF-31A?            Taiyuan             Test        1000?
Sep 12        Radar target?    Terrier Lynx       Wallops Island      Target?      300?
Sep 13 1230   Patriot Target   Juno               Fort Wingate        Target       100?
Sep 19 0618   Agni RV          Agni IV            Chandipur           Test         900?
Sep 20 1950   Agni III RV      Agni III           Chandipur           Test         500?
Sep 21 1116   NASA 46.004GO    Terr.Imp. Malemute Wallops Island      Education    153
Sep 22 1100   NASA 12.075GT    Talos Terr.Oriole  Wallops Island      Test         269
Oct  4 0337   RV               Prithvi 2          Chandipur           Op.Test      100?
Oct  5 0555   RV               Dhanush            Ship, Chandipur     Op.Test      100?

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