[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 773

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.com
Fri Dec 27 02:04:26 EST 2019

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 773                                                         2019 Dec 27 Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 61 continues.

Progress MS-13 docked with the Pirs module at 1038 UTC Dec 9.

On Dec 12 Dextre was used to remove the HISUI payload from Dragon
CRS-19's trunk and hand it to the JEM-RMS arm, which installed it on
Kibo Exposed Facility EFU 8. On Dec 13 Dextre removed the new Li-ion
battery from the trunk and stored it on the Dextre EOTP. On Aug 16, the
flight support equipment (FSE) adapter from the BCDU removed earlier
this year from ESP3 was moved from ESP3 to the EOTP, and the new battery
replaced it there at ESP3 Site 6.


On Dec 20 ULA launched flight AV-080, the first Atlas V N22, from Cape
Canaveral, The N22 has two solid boosters, a dual engine Centaur with
two RL10-A4-1 engines (the first DEC to fly since 2004) and carries the
Boeing CST-100 Starliner spaceship, flying on its Orbital Flight Test
(OFT) without a crew. The mission was to test launch and landing and
to rendezvous and dock with ISS, delivering 272 kg of cargo and
carrying an instrumented anthropomorphic test dummy (ATD) dubbed 'Rosie',

AV-080's Centaur reached its targeted 73 x 181 km x 51.6 deg orbit. 
Boeing Space's Starliner, vehicle SC3, separated at 1150 UTC. Starliner
set its master event timer reading data from the launch vehicle, but
apparently because of a software (interface) mistake the value was read
into the Boeing vehicle from an incorrect location in the ULA vehicle's
memory, resulting in an 11 hour offset. Starliner was meant to fire its
Aerojet Rocketdyne OMAC thrusters at 1207 UTC to raise its orbit, but
due to the software timing error this did not occur. After comms
problems possibly related to a TDRS handover, a contingency RCS burn was
finally commanded by the ground, possibly at around 1216 UTC, which
raised perigee by an unknown (to me) amount. Further RCS burns at
unknown times over the next half hour or so raised perigee further and
placed Starliner in a 180 x 221 km x 51.6 deg orbit.

During the period before the burn, the timer error meant that Starliner
was in an incorrect software state and used up too much propellant
controlling its attitude. This precluded the planned rendezvous with
ISS. Later on Dec 20 Starliner raised its orbit to around 250 km and
tested extension and retraction of its docking apparatus as well as
other systems tests. SC3 then returned on Dec 22,  landing at about
106.420W 32.952N near the runway at White Sands Space Harbor, New

The flight did demonstrate the basic design of the vehicle including its
life support system and its ability to safely return to Earth; I do not
expect the omitted rendezvous or the software issues to create major
delays to the programme or to require a further uncrewed test flight.

Starliner consists of the following components, with very approximate guesstimated masses:
                  Height   Dia   Mass 

  Crew Module     2.2m    4.5m  8.3t?        - about 6.4t dry without crew/cargo
  Service Module  2.5m    4.5m  3.3t? (dry)  - Jettisoned during end of mission, after deorbit burn
  SM propellant   -       -     2.3t?
 Total at Cen sep              13.9t?
  Ascent cover    0.3m    1.7m  0.1t?        - Jettisoned suborbital, before Centaur ignition
  Aeroskirt       1.8m    4.5m  1.0t?        - Jettisoned suborbital, 20s after Centaur ignition
 Total at launch               15.0t?

The SM has 20 6kN OMAC thrusters for orbit adjust (plus 4 x 180 kN abort engines and 28 RCS thrusters).
The CM includes a 750 kg base heat shield, a 150 kg forward heat shield, and two 34 kg drogue chutes,
as well as about 90 kg of hydrazine, all of which are jettisoned in the atmosphere prior to landing. 
Landing mass is about 7200 kg including crew and cargo. Starliner is built in Boeing's facility
at the C3PF (former OPF3) at Kennedy Space Center; spacecraft development is carried out there
(and possibly at the new Boeing Space headquarters in Titusville) and mission control is at a Boeing
control room in the mission control building at NASA-JSC/Houston.

Here is the approximate timeline of the mission as far as I can estimate it for now:
(times UTC, as always) - I expect a number of these details to change as better info becomes

Dec 20 1136:43 Launch by Atlas V/N22 from SLC41
       1141:12 Atlas cutoff
       1141:18 Atlas separation
       1141:24 Starliner ascent cover jettisoned
       1141:28 Centaur AV-080 main engine burn 1
       1141:48 Starliner aeroskirt jettisoned
       1148:37 AV-080 shutdown, reach 73 x 181 km x 51.6 deg orbit
       1151:37 Starliner separates from AV-080
       1202    AV-080 propellant `blowdown'
       1207:38 Planned Starliner OMAC orbit insertion burn does not occur
               Excessive attitude control thruster use
       1215?   Commanded RCS burn performs initial orbit insertion
               Initial orbit UNKNOWN; burn start time UNKNOWN
       1234    AV-080 Centaur reentered and hits ocean SW of Australia
       1300?   Further RCS burn(s); reach 180 x 221 km x 51.6 deg orbt.
               Burn start time UNKNOWN.               
       2200?   OMAC burn 1, 20 m/s?, to approx 214 x 242 km x 51.6 deg orbit
       2235?   OMAC burn 2, 20 m/s?, to 241 x 265 km x 51.6 deg orbit.
               [Times of these burns are highly uncertain]
Dec 22 1223:47 Starliner OMAC deorbit, 150 m/s , 55 s burn; E of New Zealand
       1224:42 Deorbit burn cutoff, orbit about -230 x 246 x 51.6 
       1225:59 Service Module jettison
       1241:42 Entry interface, 120 km, 7.5 km/s over equatorial Pacific
       1242?   Service Module destructive reentry over equatorial Pacific        
       1253?   Forward heat shield (FHS) separation at 3 km alt.
       1253:06 Main parachutes deploy
       1254:00? Base Heat Shield sep
       1254:40? Airbags inflate
       1257    Base Heat Shield impact
       1257:55 CM landing at White Sands Space Harbor  106.420W 32.952N
       1302:48 Forward heat shield touchdown
Starliner SC1 was used for the pad abort test; SC2 will fly the CFT crewed flight next year;
then SC3 will fly again on the PCM-1 mission to ISS. For that flight SC3 will have the name `Calypso',
chosen by mission commander Suni Williams. SC2 has not yet been named; and it's not clear
whether SC3 will retain the same name for later flights or if they'll get new names under
each new commander.


The Glonass M-59 navigation satellite, Kosmos-2544, was launched from Plesetsk on Dec 11.


India's PSLV-C48 flight launched RISAT-2BR1, a 628 kg X-band synthetic aperture radar satellite.
Also aboard were some secondary payloads:
  - the 100-kg-class Izanagi (QPS-SAR-1), a 3.6m-dia-antenna radar satellite from QPS Labs of Fukuoka, Japan;
  - the 22 kg 12U Cubesat 1HOPSAT from Hera Systems of San Jose;
  - the 3U Duchifat 3 from Herzliya Science Center, Israel
  - four SpireGlobal Lemur-2 satellites;
  - a 3U satellite, Tyvak-0092 (possibly also called COMMTRAIL), built by Tyvak for an unnamed Italian company
    for search-and-rescue applications;
  - a 6U satellite, Tyvak-0129, or Pathfinder Demo Test 1, a mission built by Tyvak for NASA-Ames to test
    a Busek electrospray thruster.


Beidou 52/53 were launched on Dec 16; they are CAST-built medium orbit Beidou 3 satellites M19 and M20.
The previous Beidou double launch, Beidou 50/51, were Shanghai-built satellites M21 and M22 in the Beidou-3
system, and not M19/20 as I wrote in JSR 772. 


On Dec 17 SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral. The first stage landed on the OCISLY droneshop.
The second stage placed the JCSAT-18/Kacific-1 satellite in a subsynchronous transfer orbit.
The satellite is jointly owned by Sky Perfect JSAT of Tokyo, which operates its Ku-band payload,
and Kacific Broadband Satellite of Singapore, which has a Ka-band payload aboard.


On Dec 18 Arianespace launched a Soyuz ST-A/Fregat from the Centre Spatial Guyanais to place several
satellites in sun-synchronous orbit. 
 The Soyuz third stage reached a -3189 x 608 km x 92.0 deg suborbital trajectory; the Fregat stage
then fired to reach a 625 x 649 km x 97.8 deg orbit and deployed CSG-1, its primary payload, at 0917 UTC.
  CSG-1, the first COSMO-Skymed Second Generation satellite, is an X-band
radar satellite for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defense built by Thales Alenia/Torino.
 Fregat's second burn reached a 443 x 622 km x 98.0 deg orbit; the ASAP-S upper adapter (on which CSG-1 was
mounted) was jettisoned. The third burn was to 445 x 829 km, followed by a fourth burn to 696 x 708 km
for the deploy of CHEOPS at 1119 UTC.
  CHEOPS is ESA's Characterizing Exoplanets Satellite. The 273 kg satellite has a 0.3m aperture
telescope and will measure the radii of known super-Earth and mini-Neptune exoplanets using transit photometry.
The PI is Willy Benz (U. Bern). 

Fregat burn 5 and 6 went to 468 x 703 km and then to 509 x 527 km, following which three cubesats
were deployed at 1305 UTC:
 ANGELS is a 12U cubesat built by Toulouse company Hemeria for the French space agency CNES. 
 It carries a new version of the long-running ARGOS system which relays data from meteorological buoys.
 EyeSat is a 3U cubesat built by student interns at CNES/Toulouse, and carries the IRIS space telescope
 to study zodiacal light.

 OPS-SAT s a 3U cubesat built by TU Graz for ESA, with an advanced flight computer to act as a testbed
 for mission operations software.

Fregat's final burn put it on a -112 x 522 km trajectory; it reentered over the south Pacific at 1509 UTC.


The final China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite, CBERS-4A, was launched by CZ-4B on Dec 20.

Chang Zheng 4B s/n Y44 was launched from Taiyuan at 0322:29 UTC Dec 20.
At T+11m39s the third stage finished its burn and entered a 615 x 635 km
  sun-synchronous orbit with an equator crossng at 10:30 local time.

At T+13:18 the primary payload, the 1980 kg CBERS-4A China-Brazil Earth
resources satellite, separated and became object 4489, 2019-093A.
The CBERS satellites are part of the larger Chinese ZiYuan series,
and so this is probably also ZY-1 04A. It was built by CAST/Beijing.

CBERS-4A was mounted on an adapter covering the remaining
payloads. The adapter separated into orbit at T+13:53.
It is probably 2.0m high 2.9m dia.

Next the Tianqin-1 satellite separated, at T+14:28. Tianqin-1 is a small
(35 kg) technology development satellite for China's
gravitational-wave-astronomy programme. The satellite was built by
DFH Satellite Co. for Zhongshan Daxue (Sun Yat-sen University) and
Huahzhong U. of Science and Technology. It also carries the CAS-6A
amateur radio payload.

At T+15:05 three further satellites separated:
Tianyan-02, Yuheng and Shuntian.

Tianyan-02 is also called Xingshidai-8; it is a 6U cubesat built by
Weina Xingkong Keji (MinoSpace) for Gouxing Yuhang Keji (ADA Space) of
Chengdu. It is also called "Kehuan shijie hao AI weixing" (SciFi World
AI satellite) and is dedicated to the science fiction community. SF
writers including Cixin Liu were invited to the launch. The satellite
apparently has a low resolution Earth video imager.

Yuheng and Shuntian were developed by the National University
of Defense Technology in Changsha in collaboration with
the Deya Innovation Research Institute of Foshan, in the Guangzhou
region. They are prototype internet distribution satellites.
It is unclear how big these sats are but I suspect they are 50-100 kg class.

At T+15:47 the final four payloads separated:
ETRSS-1, FloripaSat, Weilai-1R and Tianyan-01.

ETRSS-1 is a 70 kg remote sensing satellite and was built by DFH
Satellite for the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute in
Addis Ababa. It is Ethiopia's first satellite.

FloripaSat is a 1U cubesat from the Universidade Federal de Santa
Catarina, in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis.

Weilai-1R is also known as BDS-AGR-1 and Guozhi henghao nianjing
zhongyuan jinshui 1, and is a 65 kg imaging satellite for GZH-NHK BDS
AGR Co. Ltd (Guozhi heng Beidou hao nianjing Agricultural Technology
Co.) of Zhengzhou in Henan province.

Tianyan-01 is also called Yizheng 1. It was built by Weina/Minospace for
the Zhongxing kongjian yaogan (jiangsu) weixing jishu fuwu YG (China
satellite space remote sensing (Jiangsu) satellite technology services
co. ltd.), based in Yizheng, Jiangsu province. The 72 kg satellite
carries a high resolution imager.

At T+25 min the third stage restarted for a depletion burn which lowered
its orbit to 447 x 620 km.


On Dec 24 Russia's Elektro-L No. 3 weather satellite was placed in geosynchronous
orbit by a Proton-M with the now-rarely-used Energiya Blok DM-03 upper stage.


On Dec 26 Russia launched the last Khrunichev Rokot vehicle, based on the
UR-100N missile with a Briz-KM upper stage. The rocket put three Gonets-M
communications satellites in a 1500 km orbit. A passive 17 kg Blits-M
laser reflector ball was also placed in orbit.


The Parker Solar Probe passed 3008 km from Venus on Dec 26 at 1815
UTC, its second Venus flyby.  Parker was within Venus' Hill sphere from
Dec 26 0605 to Dec 27 0626 UTC. Once back in solar orbit its perhelion will be only
0.130 AU, compared to 0.166 AU before the flyby. Perihelion 4 is on Jan 29.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission       INTL.   Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes

Dec  5 1729   Dragon CRS-19               Falcon 9           Canaveral SLC40 Cargo     83A S44821    203 x   378 x 51.7
Dec  6 0800?  Kosmos-2543?                              Kosmos-2542, LEO     Inspector 79D S44835    368 x   858 x 97.9
Dec  6 0818   ALE-2     )                 Electron           Mahia LC1       Tech      84A S44824    397 x   415 x 97.0
              NOOR 1A   )                                                    Com       84D S44827    348 x   403 x 97.0
              NOOR 1B   )                                                    Com       84E S44828    348 x   403 x 97.0
              SMOG-P    )                                                    Sigint    84J S44832    348 x   403 x 97.0
              TRSI-Sat  )                                                    Tech      84G S44830    348 x   403 x 97.0
              FossaSat-1)                                                    Tech      84F S44829    348 x   403 x 97.0
              ATL-1     )                                                  Sigint/Tech 84H S44831    348 x   403 x 97.0
Dec  6 0934   Progress MS-13              Soyuz-2-1A         Baykonur LC31   Cargo     85A S44833    186 x   219 x 51.6
Dec  7 0255   Jilin-1 Gaofen 02B          Kuaizhou-1A        Taiyuan         Imaging   86B S44837    531 x   544 x 97.5
Dec  7 0852   HEDE-2A   )                 Kuaizhou-1A        Taiyuan         Comms     87  S44839    495 x   511 x 97.4
              HEDE-2B   )                                                    Comms     87            495 x   511 x 97.4
              Tianqi-4A )                                                    Comms     87            495 x   511 x 97.4
              Tianqi-4B )                                                    Comms     87            495 x   511 x 97.4
              Tianyi-16 )                                                    Imaging   87            495 x   511 x 97.4
              Tianyi-17 )                                                    Imaging   87            495 x   511 x 97.4
Dec 11 0854   Kosmos-2544                 Soyuz-2-1B/Fregat  Plesetsk LC43/3 Nav       88A S44850  19125 x 19150 x 64.8
Dec 11 0955   RISAT-2BR1)                 PSLV-QL            Satish Dhawan   Radar     89A S44852    564 x   574 x 37.0
              Izanagi   )                                                    Radar     89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              1HOPSAT   )                                                    Imaging   89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Duchifat-3)                                                    Tech      89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Tyvak-0092)                                                    SaR       89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Tyval-0129)                                                    Tech      89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Lemur-2-Unnamed)                                               AIS/Met   89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Lemur-2-Unnamed)                                               AIS/Met   89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Lemur-2-Unnamed)                                               AIS/Met   89            568 x   579 x 37.0
              Lemur-2-Unnamed)                                               AIS/Met   89            568 x   579 x 37.0
Dec 16 0722   Beidou DW 52 )             Chang Zheng 3B/YZ1  Xichang LC3     Nav       90A S44864  21528 x 22192 x 55.0
              Beidou DW 53 )                                                 Nav       90B S44865  21528 x 22192 x 55.0
Dec 17 0010   JCSAT-18/Kacific-1         Falcon 9            Canaveral SLC40 Comms     91A S44868    272 x 20319 x 26.9
Dec 18 0854   CSG 1   )                  Soyuz ST-A/Fregat   CSG ELS         Radar     92A S44873    622 x   623 x 97.8
              CHEOPS  )                                                      Astronomy 92B S44874    698 x   709 x 98.2
              ANGELS  )                                                      Comms     92D?S44876    508 x   527 x 97.4
              EyeSat  )                                                      Astronomy 92E?S44877    508 x   527 x 97.4
              OPS-SAT )                                                      Tech      92F?S44878    508 x   527 x 97.4
Dec 20 0322   CBERS-4A     )             Chang Zheng 4B      Taiyuan         Imaging   93A S44879    615 x   635 x 98.0
              ETRSS-1      )                                                 Imaging   93
              Tianqin-1    )                                                 Sci/Tech  93
              BDSAGR-1     )                                                 Imaging   93
              Yuheng       )                                                 Comms     93
              Shuntian     )                                                 Comms     93
              Yizheng 1    )                                                 Imaging   93
              Xingshidai 8 )                                                 Imaging   93
Dec 20 1136   Starliner OFT              Atlas V N22         Canaveral LC41  Spaceship 94A S44900    180 x   221 x 51.6
Dec 24 1203   Elektro-L No. 3            Proton-M/DM-03      Baykonur LC81/24 Weather  95A S44903  35372 x 35571 x  0.6
Dec 26 2312   Gonets-M No. 24            Rokot               Plesetsk LC133/3 Comms    96A S44905   1500 x  1508 x 82.5
              Gonets-M No. 25                                                 Comms    96B S44906   1500 x  1508 x 82.5
              Gonets-M No. 26                                                 Comms    96C S44907   1500 x  1508 x 82.5

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

On Dec 12 the US DoD's Strategic Capabilities Office and Northrop
Grumman launched what was reported to be a development test for a new
IRBM. The rocket flew from Vandenberg's Test Pad 1 west to the Pacific,
apparently to a range of about 1200 km (and not 3000 km which the US
defines as the lower end of IRBM range). Pictures suggest it was a
single-stage Castor 4B with an MBRV-class reentry vehicle, probably
surplus from the missile defense targets program. The Castor 4B solid
motor is thought to no longer be in production; I conclude this was 
likely largely a propaganda exercise rather than actually representing a
new capability.

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

Nov 26 0743   ICI 5             Terrer Imp.Malemute  Svalbard            Ionosphere    253       Arctic
Nov 28        Topol-E RV        Topol'               Kapustin Yar        Reentry test 1000?      Balkhash
Nov 28 0759   RV                DPRK MLRS            Ryonpo              Test           97       Sea of Japan
Nov 28 0759   RV                DPRK MLRS            Ryonpo              Test           97       Sea of Japan
Nov 30 1350   Agni 3 RV         Agni 3               Kalam Island        Test          500?      Indian O.
Dec 10 0930   CHI               Black Brant IX       Svalbard            Ionosphere    360       Arctic
Dec 11 1753   New Shepard NS12  New Shepard          West Texas          Test          105       West Texas
Dec 12 1630   IRBM Test         Castor 4B?           Vandenberg TP-01    Test          500?      Pacific

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |                                    |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |  twitter: @planet4589              |
|                                                                         |
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