[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 679
jcm at planet4589.org
Tue May 21 00:39:51 EDT 2013
Jonathan's Space Report
No. 679 2013 May 21, Somerville, MA
International Space Station
Expedition 36 is underway with astronauts Vinogradov, Misurkin and Cassidy.
Ferry ship Soyuz TMA-08M is at Poisk. Cargo ship Progress M-18M is at
the Pirs module, while Progress M-19M is at the Zvezda module.
On May 9 a serious ammonia coolant leak was discovered on the P6 truss
segment, one of the outboard segments of the Station that carries a pair
of solar array wings. The 2B solar array section was be shut down to
isolate the leak, reducing the power available to operate the Station.
(details are from www.nasaspaceflight.com, which has the best coverage
On May 11 astronauts Cassidy and Marshburn, in suits EMU 3010 and EMU
3005, carried out spacewalk US EVA-21 from the Quest airlock to replace
a Pump Flow Control System (PFCS) unit suspected to be responsible for
the ammonia leak. The Station has eight solar array wings, labelled 1A,
1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A and 4B. Associated with each wing is one PFCS
unit, which is a 111 kg, 1.0 x 0.5m box placed in the IEA (Integrated
Electronics Assembly) section of the truss. In addition, two further
PFCS units on the P6 Long Spacer (LS) were used as part of the EEATCS
Early External Active Thermal Control System used when P6 was installed on the
zenith of Z1 between 2000 Dec 3 and 2007 Oct 28, and a spare PFCS was
launched on the ESP-1 external stowage platform in 2001.
Truss section Solar array wing Launched
1 Port 6 IEA 2B 2000 Dec 1 - removed to Port 6 Long Spacer on May 13
2 Port 6 IEA 4B 2000 Dec 1
3 Port 6 LS EEATCS 2000 Dec 1 - moved to Port 6 IEA/2B on May 13
4 Port 6 LS EEATCS 2000 Dec 1
5 Lab ESP-1 - 2001 Mar 8 (Spare)
6 Port 4 IEA 2A 2006 Sep 9
7 Port 4 IEA 4A 2006 Sep 9
8 Stbd 4 IEA 1A 2007 Jun 8
9 Stbd 4 IEA 3A 2007 Jun 8
10 Stbd 6 IEA 1B 2009 Mar 15
11 Stbd 6 IEA 3B 2009 Mar 15
During the spacewalk, the astronauts removed the 2B PFCS unit from the
P6 IEA and swapped it with one of the EATCS units on the P6 Long Spacer.
Quest was depressurized at 1241 UTC and repressurization began at 1814 UTC.
It appears that the ammonia leak has indeed stopped as a result of the
On May 12 at 1948 UTC Expedition 35 commander Chris Hadfield transferred
command of Station to Pavel Vinogradov. Meanwhile, Hadfield relased his
cover of a David Bowie ballad performed while floating in a most
peculiar way sitting in a tin can far above the world. If `Ground
Control to Major Tom' rings a bell for you, you'll want to listen:
On May 13 at 2308 UTC Soyuz TMA-07M undocked from Rassvet carrying commander Roman Romanenko
and flight engineers Chris Hadfield and Tom Marshburn. After deorbit burn at 0137 UTC May 14,
the descent module landed in Kazakhstan at 0231 UTC.
On May 13 at 2308 UTC Expedition 36 began with commander Pavel Vinogradov, FE-2 Aleksandr
Misurkin and FE-3 Chris Cassidy.
On May 17, the Station's orbit was raised slightly using Progress M-19M's rocket engines.
There is some concern that the antenna that failed to deploy correctly
on M-19M may have damaged a Zvezda laser-reflector needed for the forthcoming
planned ATV-4 docking. Progress M-19M will undock in mid-June.
China reported the launch of a suborbital high altitude sounding rocket
on May 13 to an altitude of more than (but of order?) 10000 km, and possibly
of order 30000 km.
The Chinese report said that a barium release was carried out at around
`1 wan' (10000) km, and that the rocket went higher than `1 wan' km, but
did not specify how much higher. The US Dept of Defense reports that it
tracked the launch on a path to `nearly GEO' with reentry 'over the
Indian Ocean': Since GEO is at 35780 km, the vague phrase `nearly GEO'
might seem to imply an apogee closer to 30-35 thousand km than 10
thousand . However, US intelligence has been floating the possibility of
a GEO-altitude Chinese ASAT test; one might therefore worry that if they
only tracked it early in flight with resulting large apogee
uncertainties, they may be prone to getting the answer they expected. It
is hard to draw firm conclusions without a more precise statement from
the DoD (or, for that matter, from China).
For the record the full statement from LtCol Catherine Wilkinson, Dept
of Defense, kindly forwarded by Tomotaro Inoue of Kyodo News, is:
"We detected a launch on May 13 from within China. The launch appeared
to be on a ballistic trajectory nearly to geosynchronous Earth orbit. We
tracked several objects during the flight but did not observe the
insertion of any objects into orbit and no objects associated with this
launch remain in space.
"Based upon observations, we assess that the objects reentered the
atmosphere above the Indian Ocean. We defer any further questions to the
government of China."
The rocket appears to have been launched on a 32 deg inclination path SE
from Xichang (based on NOTAM analysis) and according to reports on
nasaspaceflight.com its flight was observed widely in SE China and Hong
The Kunpeng-7 magnetosphere science payload was reported to have
included a Langmuir probe, particle detectors, a magnetometer, and a
barium cloud release. Because of the relatively unusual secrecy
preceding the launch some analysts concluded that the mission was
actually a military one. The only previous large military program known
to have launched from Xichang in recent years was the antisatellite test
program; the launch vehicle for Kunpeng-7 was reported to be from the
CASIC company and was probably a variant of the DF-21 missile used in
that program or its DF-31 cousin. It is indeed possible that this launch
was to qualify a new launch vehicle variant intended to carry a high
altitude ASAT payload - but there's no evidence that such a payload was
carried on this particular flight.
This is the highest altitude suborbital flight since Gravity Probe A in
1976, and possibly since Blue Scout Jr O-2 in 1961. If the rocket
reached 30000 km, its flight may have lasted 8 to 9 hours and impacted
in the Indian Ocean - moving east for the first hour or so, and then to
the southwest as it slowed and the Earth's rotation overtook it, passing
perhaps over Malaysia and Sumatra, then east again in the final hour of
descent. Flights like this can loosely be described as sounding rockets,
but the more precise term of art is 'vertical probe', which was used to
describe similar Soviet and US high altitude suborbital flights in the
1960s and 1970s.
Unlike typical sounding rocket or ICBM launches, although this launch
was suborbital it had more than orbital energy, which places it in a
special category; I assign the launch a 'U-series' pseudo-international
designation (U for uncataloged or unusual, take your pick) of 2013-U01.
You'll find other interesting launches in this category if you dig
through my online launch vehicle database. I estimate the launch had a
C3 (specific binding energy, -GM/a) of at least -42 km^2/s^2 and perhaps
as much as -19, (compared to a LEO C3 of circa -58 and a GTO C3 of -16;
C3>=0 is needed for Earth escape). I also find it useful to characterize
orbits by their specific total energy ETOT, ETOT = GM/R(Earth) - GM/2a,
which represents the sum of kinetic and potential energy relative to an
inertial point on the geoid - ETOT is just 2 * C3 plus a constant,
For this launch ETOT was between 41 and 53 in these units compared
to 33 for LEO and 54 for GTO. For comparison sounding rockets typically
have circa C3 = -118, ETOT = 3 and ICBMs have C3 = -80, ETOT = 21. (ETOT
is defined as the sum of inertial kinetic and potential energy at apogee).
China's Zhongxing-11 (ChinaSat-11) satellite was launched on May 1 into
geostationary transfer orbit (initial data from Rui Barbosa on
Nasaspaceflight.com; nice to meet you in Lisboa, Rui!). Object A was in
a 196 x 42178 km x 26.7 deg orbit initially, changed by May 10 to a
35775 x 35803 km x 0.7 deg orbit over the Pacific at 163 deg East.
Object B, the CZ-3B third stage rocket, is in a 227 x 43081 km orbit.
The ZX-11 satellite, a DFH-4 model, is operated by China Satcom
(Zhongguo weixingtongxin jituangongsi).
Arianespace's Vega rocket made a second successful flight on May 7.
Flying north-northwest from Kourou, the three solid stages reached a
near-orbital trajectory of around -370 x 226 km. Stage 3 reentered over
the Canadian Arctic around 0228 UTC. The AVUM liquid fourth
stage then made a first burn to about 289 x 820 km at 0217 UTC; at 0300
UTC a second burn circularized the orbit at apogee and the upper
payload, Proba-V, was deployed into a 787 x 828 km x 98.7 deg
orbit. A third burn at 0310 UTC lowered perigee, leading to a
670 x 815 km orbit. At 0357 UTC the lid of the dual payload adapter, Vespa, was
ejected, and at 0400 UTC AVUM's burn 4 recircularized the orbit at 669 x
673 km x 98.1 deg. The lower payload VNREDSAT-1 was ejected at 0404 UTC,
with the 1U cubesat ESTCube-1 deployed three minutes later. At 0423 UTC
the AVUM stage was scheduled to make a deorbit burn for disposal in the
South Pacific, probably reentering around 0510 UTC west of southern Chile.
Proba-V is a European Space Agency technology satellite carrying the
Vegetation sensor previously used on French SPOT remote sensing
satellites. It was built by Qinetiq Space (formerly Verhaert) in
Belgium. The VNREDSAT-1, built by Astrium/Toulouse, is a remote sensing
satellite for the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. ESTCube-1
was built by the Estonian Student Satellite Program led by the
University of Tartu.
International Launch Services launched the Eutelsat 3D satellite on a Khrunichev
Proton-M on May 14 into a 6782 x 35741 km x 17.6 deg geostationary transfer orbit.
The Briz-M stage then maneuvered to a 5866 x 34205 km x 180 deg orbit,
with the DTB drop tank in a 335 x 18231 km x 49.5 deg orbit.
Eutelsat 3D, for the Paris-based Eutelsat European satellite
communications company, uses a Thales Alenia Spacebus 4000 spacecraft
bus and has Ku-band and Ka-band transponders. It will be stationed
temporarily at 3 deg East until replaced by Eutelsat 3B, and then will
move to 7 deg E where it will probably be renamed to Eutelsat 7B.
GPS IIF F-4
United Launch Alliance flew the Atlas AV-039 mission to place a GPS navigation satellite
in orbit on May 15. The Atlas flew up the US east coast to put the GPS and Centaur
in a 167 x 20335 km x 55 deg transfer orbit. After coasting for three hours Centaur
fired again to circularize the orbit, with spacecraft separation at 0102 UTC on May 16
into a 20449 x 20471 km x 55 deg orbit. The Centaur then made a disposal burn
to 20457 x 22342 km x 55.6 deg.
The payload is GPS space vehicle number 66/ IIF-SV5, the fifth IIF model to be built
(IIF-SV4 was launched as IIF Flight 3; SV3 has not yet been launched). It has been
given the nickname 'Vega'. Block IIF satellites are named after stars traditionally
used for navigation:
SVN62 Block IIF-1 (unknown name: please contact me if you know it!)
SVN63 Block IIF-2 Sirius
SVN65 Block IIF-3 Arcturus
SVN66 Block IIF-4 Vega
Russia's Bion-M biological satellite landed 82 km N of Orenburg at 0312
UTC on May 19 after a 29.7 day flight. Unfortunately the crew of gerbils
perished during the flight due to equipment failure; all of the geckos
and half of the mice are reported to be alive. The spacecraft was
launched to a 252 x 554 km initial orbit and used its onboard engine
with a burn at 0605 UTC Apr 21 to reach an operational 557 x 581 km x
64.9 deg orbit, where it remained until May 14 at about 0350 UTC when a
perigee lowering burn left it in a 471 x 579 km orbit.
Table of Recent (orbital) Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Mar 1 1510 Dragon CRS-2 Falcon 9 Canaveral SLC40 Cargo 10A
Mar 19 2121 SBIRS GEO-2 Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Early Warn 11A
Mar 26 1907 Satmex 8 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 12A
Mar 28 2043 Soyuz TMA-08M Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1/5 Spaceship 13A
Apr 15 1836 Anik G-1 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 14A
Apr 19 1000 Bion-M No. 1 ) Soyuz-2-1A Baykonur LC31/6 Life Sci 15A
OSSI-1 ) 15B
BEESAT-2 ) 15G
BEESAT-3 ) 15E
SOMP ) 15F
Dove-2 ) 15C
AIST-2 ) 15D
Apr 21 2100 Cygnus Mass Sim ) Antares 110 Wallops MARS 0A Tech 16A
Alexander ) Tech 16C
Graham ) Tech 16E?
Bell ) Tech 16D
Dove-1 ) Tech 16B
Apr 24 1012 Progress M-19M Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1/5 Cargo 17A
Apr 26 0413 Gao Fen 1 ) Imaging 18A
NEE-01 Pegaso ) Chang Zheng 2D Jiuquan Tech
Turksat-3USAT ) Tech
CubeBug-1 ) Tech
Apr 26 0523 Glonass-M No. 47 Soyuz-2-1B/Fregat Plesetsk Nav 19A
May 1 1606 Zhongxing-11 Chang Zheng 3B/E Xichang Comms 20A
May 7 0206 Proba-V ) Imaging 21A
VNREDSAT-1 ) Vega Kourou ZLV Imaging 21B
ESTCube-1 ) Tech 21C
May 13 1258 Kunpeng-7 Unknown (DF-31?) Xichang Magnetosphere U01
May 14 1601 Eutelsat 3D Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 22A
May 15 2138 GPS SVN 66 (Vega) Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Nav 23A
Colorado's SLICE UV astronomy experiment launched from White Sands on Apr 21 as flight
NASA 36.271UG, to study the Local Interstellar Cloud. The payload is a reflight of
the DICE experiment launched on 2010 May 21. It was followed two days later by
the third flight of the NASA-Goddard EUNIS solar telescope, NASA 36.269GS.
The Johns Hopkins ultraviolet telescope FORTIS was launched on May 11.
On May 1 NASA carried out the first of a series of launches from
Roi-Namur Island, part of Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, with the Air
Force Research Lab's MOSC payload. The flight, NASA 41.100DR, released a
cloud of samarium vapor to investigate the use of 'metal oxide space
clouds' to suppress ionospheric disturbances that disrupt radio signals.
The flight was funded by the US Air Force Space Test Program.
On May 7, two more Kwajalein launches were flown for the University of
Illinois' Equatorial Vortex Experiment (EVEX), and a second MOSC launch, 41.102DR,
flew on May 9.
The French ministry of defense launched an M51 missile from the submarine Le Vigilant
off the coast of Brittany on May 5, but it was destroyed after a first stage failure and
did not reach space.
On May 17 the Missile Defense Agency launched an ARAV-C two-stage target from Kauai
and intercepted it with an Aegis SM-3 missile. ARAV-C is thought to use Talos and Castor 1
Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches
Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km
Mar 11 0610? Shark Terrier Lynx Wallops I Target 300?
Apr 4 2155 Kunpeng-1 Tianying-3E Hainan Ionosphere 191
Apr 7 0455 Agni RV Agni 2 Wheeler I. Op. Test 200?
Apr 10 Haft-IV RV Shaheen 1 Somniani? Op. Test 100?
Apr 12 0425 TEXUS 50 VSB-30 Kiruna Micrograv 261
Apr 21 0800 SLICE Black Brant IX White Sands FUV Astron 318?
Apr 23 1730 EUNIS Black Brant IX White Sands Solar EUV 320?
May 1 0738 NASA 41.100DR Terrier Imp. Orion Roi-Namur Ionosphere 189
May 7 0400 REXUS 14 Imp. Orion Kiruna Micrograv 81
May 7 0739 NASA 45.005UE Terrier Oriole Roi-Namur Atmosphere 350?
May 7 0740 NASA 46.001UE Terrier Imp.Mal. Roi-Namur Atmosphere 350?
May 9 0400 REXUS 13 Imp. Orion Kiruna Micrograv 83
May 9 0723 NASA 41.102DR Terrier Imp. Orion Roi-Namur Ionosphere 188
May 11 0500 FORTIS Black Brant IX White Sands UV Astron 280?
May 13 1258 Kunpeng-7 Unknown (DF-31?) Xichang Magnetosphere 30000?
May 17 0325 FTM-19 Target Talos-Castor? Kauai Target 300?
May 17 0330? Aegis KV SM-3-1B USS Lake Erie Interceptor 150?
| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
| Somerville MA 02143 | inter : planet4589 at gmail |
| USA | jcm at cfa.harvard.edu |
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