[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 696

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Sat Apr 19 13:29:10 EDT 2014

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 696                                                  2014 Apr 19    Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 39 continues with commander Koichi Wakata and flight engineers
Tyurin, Mastracchio, Skvortsov, Artem'ev and Swanson.

The Progress M-22M cargo ship undocked from the Pirs module at 1358 UTC Apr 7;
it remained in a 360 x 417 km orbit for Radar-Progress ionospheric studies
until Apr 18, when it was deorbited over the Pacific. Progress M-23M
was launched on Apr 9 and docked with Pirs at 2114 UTC.

On Apr 11 the EXT-2 MDM computer in the S0 truss failed; the unit is
needed as a backup for SSRMS operations, and will be replaced during a
forthcoming spacewalk.

The Dragon CRS-3 cargo ship took off from Cape Canaveral on Apr 18 and
is in a 313 x 322 km orbit on course to rendezvous with ISS. This was
the first time a Dragon has flown on the uprated Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket,
and the first flight  of a Falcon 9 with experimental landing legs on
the first stage. Falcon 9 stage 1 reignited during descent after
reaching probably around 120 km, and touched down vertically on the
ocean after demonstrating that it could maintain its orientation during
the return from space. The Falcon 9 second stage was deorbited over the
Indian Ocean and destroyed during reentry.

The Dragon trunk carries the OPALS and HDEV experiments for laser
communications and Earth imaging respectively. They will be installed on
the ISS - JSC's HDEV is slated for the Columbus module EPF, and JPL's
OPALS for the ELC-1 platform. Spacesuit EMU 3003 is also aboard Dragon.
Total mass of Dragon CRS-3 at orbit insertion may be around 10000 kg,
larger than earlier missions, but this is speculative as SpaceX has not
released the mass information.

Falcon 9 cubesats

The second stage of Falcon 9 flight 9 carried five cubesats - SporeSat
and PhoneSat-2.5 for NASA Ames, TSat for Taylor University, All-Star for
the Colorado Space Grant consortium, and KickSat for Cornell University's
Space Systems Design Stuido. KickSat has a mass of 2.68 kg of which
0.52 kg will be ejected in the form of 104 tiny 5-gram 'Sprites', circuit boards
which will act as independent satellites with small transmitters able
to send a simple message to ground stations. The Sprites will be ejected
from Kicksat on around May 4. 

Insat 3E

Space News reports that India's Insat 3E communications satellite has
failed. Orbital data also shows that Insat 3E began to slowly drift off
station in late March and its orbit was lowered on Apr 4 to 35579 x
35693 km, drifting two degrees east per day.  The Hindu newspaper
reported on Apr 2 that the satellite has been decommissioned and that
the orbit will later be raised to a higher 'graveyard' orbit, although
the same report says that the satellite's oxidizer has been depleted,
which presumably takes the main bipropellant propulsion system out of
action. The satellite probably has small monopropellant thrusters and
maybe these can be used for small orbit adjustments.


Launch of the 6th satellite in China's Shi Jian 11 constellation occurred on Mar 30.
The satellite was placed in a 687 x 704 km x 98.3 deg, 0902LTDN sun-synchronous orbit,
replacing SJ11-01. The SJ11 satellites are rumoured to carry infrared sensors of some


A ULA/Lockheed Martin Atlas V model 401, flight AV-044, took off from Vandenberg's
Space Launch Complex 3-East on Apr 3 to place the penultimate US Air Force Defense Meteorological 
Satellite Program payload in orbit. The DMSP Block 5D-3 S-19 spacecraft was built
by RCA/East Windsor, New Jersey and transferred to Lockheed Martin/Sunnyvale after closure
of the former facility. It is the 19th of the Block 5D subseries to be launched, and as such
has the flight name Block 5D-3 F-19. It is also the 53rd DMSP satellite produced.
DMSP 50 (Block 5D-3 S-16) will be the final launch, to be designated F-20. The last-produced,
DMSP 54 (Block 5D-3 S-20) was launched as F-16 in 2003.

ULA has confirmed that the AV-044 Centaur stage reignited to go into heliocentric
orbit, like that for the previous DMSP launch. Two debris objects, 2014-015C and D,
were cataloged in 844 x 848 km x 98.9 deg orbits. The DMSP satellite's solar array
did not completely deploy, but the satellite is expected to enter service nonetheless.


The first satellite in the European Commission's Sentinel/Copernicus Earth observing
program is now in orbit. ESA will operate the Sentinel-1A C-band radar satellite.
The Soyuz-2-1A (ST-A) flew to a -3147 x 668 km x 91.1 deg orbit and fell in the Canadian
Arctic at around 2127 UTC. The Fregat upper stage, which separated near the Soyuz apogee,
completed its first burn at 2122 UTC to deliver Sentinel to a 684 x 689 km x 98.2 deg orbit.
Sentinel separated from Fregat at 2126 UTC; the Fregat ignited again at 2203 UTC
and entered a -250 x 708 km x 102.8 deg orbit which dumped it in the South Atlantic
around 2236 UTC.

Sentinel-1A's C-band SAR is 13.3 x 0.8m in size. The satellite has a mass of 2157 kg,
only a quarter the mass of its predecessor Envisat which carried a wider array
of instruments; in the Sentinel program there will be a series of smaller, more
specialized satellites.

At 0514 UTC on Apr 5, Sentinel made a maneuver to avoid a very close
pass by NASA's defunct ACRIMSAT satellite, which failed on Dec 14 after
suffering battery issues, ending its 14 year record of measuring the
solar output. The Space Debris Office at ESOC, the European Space
Operations Center in Darmstadt (http://www.esa.int/debris) noticed the
possible close approach after recieving the first post-launch orbital
data for the satellite and, after exchanges with NASA and the USAF
JSpOC space operations center, worked the plan for an avoidance burn
with the ESOC flight dynamics group. Debris avoidance burns are
moderately normal, but doing one during spacecraft checkout in the first
days after launch is not, and required a major replanning effort as
described in the ESA blog


Kagawa University's STARS-II satellite has been renamed Gennai
after the Japanese polymath Hiraga Gennai (1728-1780). Based on
the orbital decay rate, the Kagawa team believes that the 300m tether has
been deployed.


India's second dedicated navigation satellite for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite
System was launched on Apr 4.
The PSLV rocket flew southeast from Sriharikota; the third stage entered
a marginally suborbital trajectory (possibly something like -300 x 600 km) 
and reentered on the first orbit off the west coast of S America. After
a coast phase the fourth stage ignited to accelerate the vehicle to 
a 269 x 20558 km x 19.3 deg transfer orbit. IRNSS-1B used its onboard
engine to join IRNSS-1A in circular inclined geosynchronous orbit, and
on Apr 17 was in a 35565 x 35878 km x 31.0 deg orbit over the Indian Ocean.


Israel reportedly launched the 'Ofeq-10 (Horizon-10) satellite on Apr 9.
The Jerusalem Post reports it carries a radar imaging (SAR) payload.
Israeli news reports give a launch time of 2215 local (1915 UTC) but the
official Israeli MOD YouTube video of the launch gives a time of 1906
UTC. Amateur tracking puts the satellite in a 384 x 609 km x 141.0 deg
orbit as of Apr 16. In contrast to all other countries which launch
either to polar orbit or eastward - to take advantage of Earth's
rotation direction - Israel launches westward over the Med to retrograde
orbit, accepting a payload mass penalty as a result. The reasons for
this are, of course, obvious: eastward launches from Israel might
be misinterpreted by its neighbours.


United Launch Alliance's Atlas V model 541 rocket, serial AV-045, took
off from Cape Canaveral on Apr 10 carrying the NRO Launch 67 (NROL-67)
payload. It appears likely that the Centaur stage made three
burns to deploy the USA 250 payload in geosynchronous orbit. The payload
is suspected to be a large NRO signals intelligence satellite.


The Egyptsat-2 satellite, bult by RKK Energiya for Egypt's National
Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science using the 559GK bus, was
launched on Apr 16 by a Soyuz-U into a 435 x 703 km x 51.6 deg orbit. It
carries a 1-meter resolution imager.


Cassini completed its T-100 flyby of Titan on Apr 7, passing 963 km from the 
surface at 1342 UTC. The encounter changed Cassini's orbit around Saturn
from 799000 x 2963000 km x 45.5 deg to 684000 x 3384000 km x 40.7 deg.


NASA's LADEE spacecraft was lowered into an orbit with a 2 km perilune in
early April, and it impacted the lunar farside between 0430 and 0522 UTC
Apr 18, possibly (per twitter.com/nasaladee) on the east rim of the
crater Sundman V at 12N 93W, north of Mare Orientale.  (Note to those
unfamiliar with lunar nomenclature: that is letter V, not a Roman
numeral). LADEE studied the thin lunar atmosphere.


The International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 spacecraft, also known as the International
Cometary Explorer after its trip to P/Giacobini-Zinner in 1985, is returning to
the vicinity of the Earth in August following 30 years in solar orbit.
On Apr 18 ISEE 3 was in a 0.927 x 1.034 AU x 0.06 deg solar orbit at a distance
of 28.9 million km from Earth. Current (but inaccurate) orbital data
suggest that on Aug 9 at 1145 UTC the probe will pass only 397000 km from Earth
and then return to a solar orbit with slightly higher period and inclination.
A group of enthusiasts is attempting to revive the spacecraft; they request
that readers with original ISEE-3 documentation (for example, telemetry formats)
contact them (see http://www.rockethub.com/42228 ).

ISEE 3 was developed by NASA-GSFC and was the first spacecraft at the
Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point. However, in a special 1986 ceremony NASA
Administrator James Fletcher transferred ownership of the spacecraft
from NASA to the Smithsonian Institution - see the 1986 Spaceflight
magazine article at http://planet4589.org/space/jsr/isee3e.pdf for
details. The legal status of this transfer is currently unclear - I am

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission    INTL.  

Mar 15 2308   Ekspress-AT1 )     Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC81/24  Comms        10A
              Ekspress-AT2 )                                        Comms        10B
Mar 22 2204   Astra 5B   )       Ariane 5ECA      Kourou ELA3       Comms        11A
              Amazonas 4A)                                          Comms        11B
Mar 23 2254   Glonass-M No. 54   Soyuz-2-1B       Plesetsk LC43/4   Navigation   12A
Mar 25 2117   Soyuz TMA-12M      Soyuz-FG         Baykonur LC1      Spaceship    13A
Mar 31 0258   SJ-11 06           Chang Zheng 2C   Jiuquan Pad 603  Surveillance? 14A
Apr  3 1446   DMSP 5D-3 F-19     Atlas V 401      Vandenberg SLC3E  Weather      15A
Apr  3 2102   Sentinel-1A        Soyuz-2-1A       CSG ELS           Radar        16A
Apr  4 1144   IRNSS-1B           PSLV-XL          Sriharikota FLP   Navigation   17A
Apr  9 1526   Progress M-23M     Soyuz-U          Baykonur LC1      Cargo        18A
Apr  9 1906   'Ofeq-10           Shaviyt          Palmachim         Radar        19A
Apr 10 1745   USA 250            Atlas V 541      Canaveral SLC41   Sigint       20A
Apr 16 1620   Egyptsat-2         Soyuz-U          Baykonur LC31     Imaging      21A
Apr 18 1925   Dragon CRS-3     ) Falcon 9 v1.1    Canaveral SLC40   Cargo        22A
              SporeSat         )                                    Bio          22
              TSat             )                                    Tech         22
              All-Star         )                                    Sci          22
              Kicksat          )                                    Tech         22
              Sprite (00,01)   )                                    Tech         22
                 to            )                                    
              Sprite (206,207) )                                    Tech         22

Suborbital missions

Russia launched several (possibly four?) reentry vehicles from Plesetsk to Kura (in Kamchatka) on Apr 14
aboard a Yars missile.

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Mar  2 2119?  Hwasong RV       Hwasong 6?          Kittaeryong      Training      150?
Mar  2 2119?  Hwasong RV       Hwasong 6?          Kittaeryong      Training      150?
Mar  3 1109   GREECE           Black Brant IX      Poker Flat Pad3  Aurora        335
Mar  4 1810   Topol' RV        Topol'              Kapustin Yar     Test         1000?
Mar 23        Hyunmoo RV       Hyunmoo 2B          Taean            Test          100?
Mar 25 1735   Nodong RV        Nodong 1?           Sukchon          Test          150?
Mar 25 1742   Nodong RV        Nodong 1?           Sukchon          Test          150?
Apr 14 0640   Yars RV x 4?     Yars                Plesetsk         Test         1000?

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |                                    |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |  twitter: @planet4589              |
|                                                                         |
| JSR: http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html                                 |
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