[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 697

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Sat May 17 10:59:35 EDT 2014

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 697                                                      2014 May 17   Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 39 continued in early May with commander Koichi Wakata and flight engineers
Tyurin, Mastracchio, Skvortsov, Artem'ev and Swanson. On May 13 the Ex 39 crew
of Tyurin, Mastracchio and Wakata transferred to Soyuz TMA-11M leaving the ISS under
the control of Ex-40 commander Steve Swanson and FEs Arteme'v and Skvortsov. ISS
is in a 413 x 417 km x 51.7 deg orbit.

Dragon CRS-3 completed its rendezvous with the ISS on Apr 20 and was
grappled by the SSRMS robot arm at 1114 UTC. The arm berthed Dragon on
the Harmony module's nadir CBM port at 1402 UTC, with the process
completed at 1406 UTC. The SSRMS Canadarm-2 robot arm and the SPDM
Dextre robot manipulator were used to remove two pieces of cargo from
the unpressurized Dragon trunk. HDEV, the high definition Earth viewing
video package, was installed on the ESA Columbus module EPF-SDN attach
point on Apr 30. OPALS, a laser communications package, was installed on
Express Logistics Carrier 1 on the P3 truss segment on May 7.

Soyuz TMA-11M undocked from the Rassvet module at 2236 UTC on May 13 and
made the deorbit burn at 0105 UTC May 14. Landing in Kazakhstan came at
0158:30 UTC on May 14.

Ekspress AM-4R

A Proton vehicle launched from Baykonur on May 15 had a third stage
failure and reentered over China. Debris was found north of Harbin, in
Heilongjiang province. The communications satellite payload, Ekspress
AM-4R, had been built to replace a satellite lost in an earlier Proton
failure; it used an Astrium Eurostar 3000 bus and was intended for
the Russian domestic operator Kosmicheskaya Svyaz. The payload section
reentered without separating from the third stage; orbit achieved
was around -1600 x 160 km.


The third launch of Europe's Vega light launch vehicle successfully
placed the  Kazakh DZZ-HR imaging satellite in a 737 x 741 km x 98.6
deg, 1014 LTDN sun-synchronous orbit on Apr 30. DZZ-HR was renamed
KazEOSat-1 after launch; it was built by Airbus Defense and Space (Toulouse),
is based on the Astrosat bus and has an imager with 1 metre resolution.


All four objects from the Luch/Kazsat launch are now being tracked. On May 15
Luch-5V was in a 35689 x 35739 km x 4.8 deg orbit drifting east over 94.1E at 0.9 deg/day;
Kazsat-3 was in a 35884 x 35988 km x 0.2 deg orbit drifting west over 67.4E at 1.9 deg/day.
The Briz stage is in a 35593 x 40606 km x 1.1 deg orbit
and the DTB tank is in a 364 x 35732 km x 47.8 deg orbit.


A timer problem on Kicksat means that the deployment of the Sprite
subsatellites was reset to May 16. Unfortunately, Kicksat was destroyed
when it reentered on May 14. The last orbital data on May 13 showed it
in a 159 x 174 km x 51.6 deg orbit.

Kobal't-M and missing Kosmos satellites

A Kobal't-M spy satellite, serial number 564, was launched from Plesetsk
on May 6 into a 176 x 284 km x 81.4 deg orbit. It is the 9th launch of
an 11F695M Kobal't-M film-return satellite and the first to use the
Soyuz-2-1A rocket instead of the older Soyuz-U. By May 17 the satellite
was in a 207 x 248 km x 81.4 deg orbit.

TASS reports that its cover name is Kosmos-2495, which suggests that we
have missed three Kosmos series launches. Bob Christy (zarya.info) has
discovered a so-far-unreleased UN registration document from Russia.
This document reports that the Dec 2013 Rokot launch, which placed three
Rodnik/Strela class communications satellites in orbit as
Kosmos-2488/2489/2490, also placed a fourth payload in orbit,
Kosmos-2491.  This fourth Russian Ministry of Defense payload was not
previously announced. It probably corresponds to the object tracked as
2013-076E, SSN 39497, which has a 0.4 sq m radar cross section. Two
previous Strela class launches on Rokot have carried small additional
Yubilyeniy scientific payloads of similar RCS; it seems likely that the
mystery payload is comparable, and may repreresent a Russian military
small satellite testbed. We may have to wait for further launches in the
series for a pattern to become clear.

The Glonass-M satellite launched in March 2014 is reported as Kosmos-2491 and Kosmos-2494
in different official Russian sources, suggesting a degree of administrative
confusion within the Russian establishment. The two other recently launched
Russian Defense Ministry payloads are the two calibration satellites which
the above-mentioned registration document calls SKRL 756 (same name for each satellite).
My hypothesis is that these two satellites will be renamed Kosmos-2492 and Kosmos-2493
for official purposes. We then have in the record the following sequences

 Launch    Internal military name   Original public designation   New pub. des.
 Dec 25    Rodnik-S (8?)            Kosmos-2488                   Kosmos-2488  
           Rodnik-S (9?)            Kosmos-2489                   Kosmos-2489
           Rodnik-S (10?)           Kosmos-2490                   Kosmos-2490
           [Yubilyeniy-class]       [None]                        Kosmos-2491
 Dec 28    SKRL-756 No. 1           SKRL-756                      Kosmos-2492?         
           SKRL-756 No. 2           SKRL-756                      Kosmos-2493?         
 Mar 23    Uragan-M No. 754         Kosmos-2491, Glonass-M        Kosmos-2494
 May  6    Kobal't-M No. 564                                      Kosmos-2495

The Kosmos series nomenclature was introduced in 1962 to obfuscate the
missions of Soviet military satellites; analogous approaches were taken
by the US. I have had the impression for the past few years that the
system is breaking down, with bulletins from organs such as TASS and
Novosti sometimes issuing inconsistent names for the same satellite -
probably reflecting a bureaucratic change which has decentralized
control of such press releases in some way.

I thank Bob Christy, Claude Lafleur, Geoff Richards and @cosmic_penguin for
useful Twitter and email discussions on this issue.

GPS 67

The sixth GPS Block IIF satellite, space vehicle number (SVN) 67, nicknamed Rigel,
was launched from Cape Canaveral on May 17. For the first time on a GPS/Delta 4
flight, the profile had only two instead of three upper stage burns:
the Delta 4 second stage skipped the low circular parking orbit phase
and directly entered a 198 x 20387 km x 52.7 deg transfer orbit at 0018 UTC.
The second stage 2 burn at 0306 UTC led to the deployment of GPS SVN 67
in a 20460 x 20476 km x 55.0 deg orbit.

Orbital ATK

Two major space companies, Orbital Sciences and ATK, have announced that
they plan to merge. Orbital Sciences was the first successful 'new
space' company of the first wave (1980s) while ATK is the successor
corporation to the largest and oldest solid rocket makers (Hercules and
Thiokol). Between them they already include a lot of space history -
here is a list  of their ancestor company space/missile-related
operating locations: (please send corrections)

 Salt Lake City/Magna-Bacchus, Utah
   Hercules Powder Company            1912-1995
   Alliant                            1995-2001
   ATK                                2001-2014
 Elkton, Maryland
   Thiokol Chemical Co.               1929-1947
   Thiokol Propulsion (Elkton)        1947-1982  (Star solid motors, TE series)
   Morton Thiokol Inc.                1982-1989
   Thiokol Corp.                      1989-1998
   Cordant Technologies, Thiokol Prp. 1998-2000
   Alcoa Industrial, Thiokol Prp.     2000-2001
   ATK (Elkton)                       2001-2014
 Cumberland/Rocket Center, West Virginia
   Alleghany Ballistic Laboratories   1944-1945  (ABL, under NRDC and GWU)
   Alleghany Ballistic Laboratories   1945-1995  (ABL, under US Navy and Hercules Powder Co.)
   ATK Tactical Systems ABL           1995-2014?
 Huntsville, Alabama
   Thiokol Propulsion (HSV)           1949-2001  (TX series)
   ATK                                2001-2014?
 Marshall, Texas
   Thiokol Longhorn Division          1952-1971
 Brigham City/Promontory, Utah
   Thiokol Wasatch Division           1957-2001  (TU series, USAF Plant 78;  Shuttle SRBs)
   ATK (Promontory)                   2001-2014
 Salt Lake City, Utah   (I think this was a separate component?)
   Cordant Technologies, Thiokol Prp. 1998-2000
   Alcoa Industrial Group/Thiokol     2000-2001
 Ronkonkoma, New York
   GASL Inc.                          1956-2000 
   Allied Aerospace/GASL Inc.         2000-2003   (X-43)
   ATK GASL                           2003-2014?
 Tullahoma, Tennessee
   MicroCraft Inc.                    1958-2001
   MicroCraft Inc./Allied Aerosp.     2001-2003
   ATK Propulsion/Controls            2003-2011
   MicroCraft Inc.                    2011-       (independent again)
 Phoenix/Chandler, Arizona:
   Space Data Corp.                   1963-1988   (Sounding rockets)
   Orbital Sciences Corp.             1988-2014   (Launch vehicles)
 Rockville/Germantown, Maryland:
   Fairchild-Hiller Space Systems     1964-1971   (Occasional satellites)
   Fairchild Space and Electronics    1971-1994
   Orbital Sciences Corp.             1994-2000?  (Small satellites)
 Goleta, California
   AEC/Able Engineering               1975-2004
   ATK/Able                           2004-2014
 Beltsville, Maryland
   Swales Aerospace                   1978-2007
   ATK Space Division                 2007-2014
 Washington/McLean, Virginia
   Defense Systems Inc (DSI)          1984?-1992  (Small satellites)
   CTA Space Systems Inc              1992-1997
   Orbital Sciences Corp              1997-2000
 Fairfax, Virginia:
   Orbital Sciences Corp.             1986-1993
 Gilbert, Arizona:
   Spectrum Astro                     1988-2004   (Satellites)
   General Dynamics C4 Systems        2004-2010  
   Orbital Sciences Corp.             2010-2014
 Ogden, Utah
   Thiokol Corp.                      1989-1998   (headquarters only?)
 Minneapolis/Eden Praire, Minnesota 
   Alliant Techsystems (ATK)          1990-
 Washington/Dulles, Virginia:
   Orbital Sciences Corp.             1993-2014   (Satellites)
 Wallops Island, Virginia
   Orbital Sciences Corp              2011-2014   (Launch prep facilities)
Orbital spun off two related companies:
 New York/Fort Lee, New Jersey
   Orbcomm -  Orbital spinoff         1993  
 Washington-Dulles,  Virginia
   Orbimage -                         1992-2006
   GeoEye Inc                         2006-2011   (absorbed in DigitalGlobe/Herndon)


My discussion of the ISEE 3 spacecraft in JSR696 was based on the contemporary
report in Spaceflight magazine. My colleagues at the National Air and Space Museum
have retrieved the original document, which turns out to be a 'declaration of
intent' to transfer the title to the Smithsonian at a future date - such transfer
not having in fact occurred. So it appears that ISEE 3 is still the property of

In JSR 696, the PhoneSat-2.5 cubesat, a 1U experiment from
NASA-Ames which was ejected from the Falcon 9 second stage, was briefly
mentioned in the text but inadvertently omitted from the launch table.

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

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          22B
              TSat             )                                    Tech         22C
              All-Star         )                                    Sci          22D
              PhoneSat-2.5     )                                    Tech         22E
              Kicksat          )                                    Tech         22F
              Sprite (00,01)   )                                    Tech         22F
                 to            )                                    
              Sprite (206,207) )                                    Tech         22
Apr 28 0425   Luch-5V      )     Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC81/24  Comms        23A
              Kazsat-3     )                                        Comms        23B
Apr 30 0138   KazEOSat-1         Vega             Kourou ELV        Imaging      24A
May  6 1349   Kosmos-2495        Soyuz-2-1A       Plesetsk LC43/4   Imaging      25A
May 15 2142   Ekpress AM-4R      Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC200/39 Comms        F01
May 17 0003   GPS SVN 67         Delta 4M+(4,2)   Canaveral SLC37B  Nav          26A

Suborbital missions

A sounding rocket launched from Kapustin Yar on Mar 26 failed and landed
near a village in an unplanned area of western Kazakhstan; launches within Kazakhstan
have been suspended pending the accident investigation. The MN-300/MR-30 sounding
rocket system has a nominal apogee of 300 km, and given the range achieved probably
attained a comparable height this time despite the failure.

India's DRDO carried out a ballistic missile intercept test on Apr 27. The two-stage
target, launched from a ship, may be based on the Prithvi-3/Dhanush missile.

Russia carried out a large scale military exercise on May 8, including
the launch of a Topol' missile from Plesetsk to Kura, an R-29RM Shtil'
missile from the Northern Fleet submarine K-114 Tula in the Barents Sea,
also to Kura, and an R-29R Volna missile from the Pacific Fleet
submarine K-223 Podolsk in the Sea of Okhotsk to the Chiza test range.
According to Pavel Podvig (russianforces.org) a 53T6 endoatmospheric ABM
interceptor was also launched from Sary Shagan against an unidentified
target missile.

NASA launched the University of Arizona HYPE (Hydrogen Polarimetric
Explorer) suborbital payload from White Sands on May 3 to measure the
polarized line profile of ultraviolet Lyman-alpha emission from the
interplanetary medium.

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Mar 26 2225   MR-30            MN-300              Kapustin Yar     Met/Ionos?    300?
Apr 14 0640   Yars RV x 4?     Yars                Plesetsk         Test         1000?
Apr 27 0337   SLTGT-02         Prithvi 3?        INS, Bay of Bengal Target        150?
Apr 27 0340?  PDV              Prithvi 2?          Chandipur        Interceptor   120
May  3 0800   NASA 36.235US    Black Brant IX      White Sands      UV Astron     278 
May  8        Topol' RV        Topol'              Plesetsk         Exercise     1000?
May  8        Shtil' RV        Shtil'            K-114, Barents     Exercise     1000?
May  8        Volna RV         Volna             K-223, Okhotsk     Exercise     1000?

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