[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 784 [corrected]

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.com
Wed Oct 7 09:58:22 EDT 2020

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 784                                                          2020 Oct 7    Somerville, MA

[Revised version: Unicode chars in previous version annoyed some mail programs]

International Space Station

Expedition 63 continues with Chris Cassidy (commander) and Anatoliy Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner (flight

On Oct 3 Northrop Grumman launched the Cygnus NG-14 cargo ship, the S.S. Kalpana Chawla.
The Chawla arrived at the ISS on Oct 5. Canadarm-2 grappled it at 0932 UTC and berthed
it at Unity nadir at 1201 UTC.  The Antares second stage rocket reentered on Oct 7.

CZ-11 Sea Launch

The second sea-launched Chang Zheng 11 flight took place on Sep 15 from a barge called Debo-3
in the Yellow Sea off the coast of Haiyang. It placed nine imaging satellites in orbit for
Chuangguang Satellite Technology: six Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B pushbroom imager satellites and
three Jilin-1 Gaofen 03C video satellites.

Haiyang 2-03

A CZ-4B placed the Haiyang 2-03 oceanographic satellite in orbit on Sep 21. The satellite
has a radar altimeter, a scatterometer and a microwave imager.

Huanjing Jianzai 2A/2B

Another CZ-4B placed two HJ-2 (Huanjing Jianzai, `Enviroment and Disaster Management') satellites
in sun-synchronous orbit on Sep 27. The satellites carry low resolution imagers and hyperspectral

Soyuz rideshare launch

On Sep 28 Roskosmos launched a Soyuz from Plesetsk with a cluster of
small satellites. The primary payload was a cluster of three 225-kg
Gonets-M communications satellites, launched to a 1484 x 1504 km x 82.5 deg
orbit.  Gonets-M are used for low-bandwidth message relay. They used to fly on the
Rokot launch vehicle but that has now been retired. Flying on Soyuz
gives a lot of spare capaciity, hence the rideshare. The Fregat made
a 16 degree plane change and lowered the orbit by 950 km before deploying the cubesats.

The small satellites were:
ICEYE X6 and X7,  X-band radar imager sats from ICEYE/Finland;  
SALSAT, an experiment from Tech. Univ. Berlin (TUB) to monitor global radio emissions;  
NetSat 1 to 4, a formation flying experiment from Zentrum fur Telematik e.V. of Wurzbrug (ZfaT).
Antilles and Amidala, the first two Gen1 sats from Toronto's Kepler Communications for IoT data relay 
(amazingly, I think this is the first time satellites have been named after anything StarWars, although
  DARPA's R3D2 may have at least been an allusion).
LacunaSat-3, another IoT data relay prototype from Lacuna Space of
 Harwell (Oxfordshire), built by NanoAvionics of Lithuania
MeznSat, a 3U cubesat built by students at AURAK (American University of Ras Al-Khaimah)
 and Khalifa U of Sci and Tech  in the UAE, with a greenhouse gas monitoring experiment;
Four more so-far-unnamed satellites from SpireGlobal
 with GNSS-RO meteorology and air/ship tracking payload
Yarilo-1 and 2, solar physics cubesats from Bauman MSTU, Moscow
Norbi, space weather measurement cubesat from Novosibirsk State University,
Dekart (Descartes), a cubesat from MGU (Moscow State U) with space physics and ADS-B payloads.

I made a speculative reconstruction of the flight based on the fact that a burn at the descending
node of the Gonets deployment orbit allowed me to intersect the cubesat TLEs in both time and space.
Later, the actual profile became available via ZfT, but I've included my reconstruction
here so you can see how well it's possible to do just from the post deployment TLEs (the 1500 km
and 540 km circular orbits respectively). Also because I put a lot of effort into it!

Speculative reconstruction:
 1120  Launch
 1130  Soyuz Blok I orbit :           65? x 212 km x 82.5 deg, 
 1131  Fregat burn 1:   375 m/s to   191 x 1500 km x 82.5 deg
 1210  Blok I reentry over Pacific E of NZ
 1220? Fregat burn 2:   330 m/s to  1487 x 1506 km x 82.5 deg
 1221? Gonets deploy
 1350? Fregat burn 3:  1840 m/s  to  535 x 1500 km x 97.7 deg, 75 deg yaw, at descending node
 1437? Fregat burn 4:   290 m/s to   535 x  540 km x 97.5 deg
 1500? Minisats and Cubesats deployed
 1510? Fregat burn 5:   140 m/s to    50? x 540 km x 97.5 deg
 1555? Fregat entry over Antarctic?

Actual data:
 1120  Launch
 1130  Soyuz Blok I orbit :           48 x 191 km x 82.5 deg, 
 1131-1136 Fregat burn 1:            190 x 1468 km x 82.5 deg
 1221-1224 Fregat burn 2:           1487 x 1506 km x 82.5 deg
 1304  Gonets deploy
 1346-1352 Fregat burn 3:        to  578 x 1507 km x 94.2 deg
 1441-1443 Fregat burn 4:        to  535 x  540 km x 97.5 deg
 1446-1452 Minisats and Cubesats deployed
 Unk   Fregat burn 5:            to  -200 x 582 km x 97.7 deg

I think I did pretty well except for the Fregat deorbit burm, which wasn't constrained by the data.

Starlink retirements

SpaceX is retiring the V0.9 constellation of 60 prototype satellites launched in May 2019.
As of Oct 7, 39 of the 60 satellites have reentered.

This is a new kind of reentry: it's not a normal impulsive deorbit and
not a normal orbital decay, but something inbetween. The Starlink
satellites are, apparently,  retired by continuously lowering their
orbit with electric propulsion. Reentry occurs in a way similar to
uncontrolled reentry - eventually the satellite is low enough and the
ambient density is high enough that the vehicle heats, breaks up and is
destroyed. The crucial point here is that the *location* of the breakup
on the Earth is unpredictable and uncontrolled, in contrast to an
impulsive deorbit where the rapid elliptical-orbit descent from a
relatively high apogee means that reentry location is determined
relatively precisely by the orbital parameters. These Starlink
retirements should perhaps be termed `propulsion-assisted orbital decay'
- they are more like normal uncontrolled orbital decay but speeded up by
the thrusters.

Starlink launch 13

The 13th Starlink launch (the 12th of the V1.0 series) took off from KSC on Oct 6,
deploying another 60 satellites. The Falcon 9 first stage (B1058, on its third mission)
landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You. The second stage
was deorbited southwest of Australia.

As of Oct 7, 775 Starlinks have been launched and 728 remain in orbit.


Kosmos-2536 returned the the vicinity of Kosmos-2535 on Aug 18 and has
remained within 1 km of it for the past month. One can't tell from the TLEs
whether the two are docked, or just stationkeeping. But to stay that close
for that long, I suspect they are in fact physically connected, i.e. docked.

Parker Solar Probe

Parker passed through Perhelion 6 at 0916 TDB on 2020 Sep 27, at a record close distance
of 0.095 AU to the Sun and a record heliocentric velocity of 129.6 km/s. Parker's
orbit is 0.095 x 0.817 AU x 3.4 deg.


On September 11, Tianwen-1 ejected a small camera (like Hayabusa-2's DCAM) to take a picture of the probe.
It was referred to as a `separate measurement sensor' (fenli celiang chuangan).


D-Orbit's ION-SVC satellite, launched on Vega VV16 on Sep 3, has begun to deploy the Planet cubesats
inside it. Three were cataloged as of Oct 3.

Vega launch

The number of cataloged objects from the Vega launch does not match the number of satellites
aboard reported in the press kit. There are two remaining tracked objects without IDs (46284 and 46294)
and four satellites remaining to be identified: TTU100, Dido 3, and two of the eight Lemur satellites.
It is possible that the press kit was in error, or that two of the satellites failed to separate from
their deployers (but Arianespace reported that the separations were successful).


In the launch table in JSR 783 there were some errors in the names of Starlink satelites
launched on Sep 3. I omitted Starlink 1652 and incorrectly included Starlinks 1708 and 1709
which have not been launched yet. In JSR 779 and 782, Starlinks 1435 and 1609 should also
be omitted. Thanks to Steven Pietrobon for pointing out the mistakes.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission       INTL.   Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes

Sep  4 0730?  Chongfu Shiyong Sh. Han.Qi   Chang Zheng 2F      Jiuquan         Spaceship 63A  S46389    331 x  348  x 52.0
Sep  7 0557   Gao Fen 11-02                Chang Zheng 4B      Taiyuan         Imaging   64A  S46396    247 x  694  x 97.3
Sep 11        Separate measurement sensor                     TW-1, solar orbit Imaging  49   D01044    1.02 x 1.60 AU x 1.05
Sep 12 0320?  Astra Test Payload           Astra Rocket 3.1    Kodiak LP3B     Test      F07  F01569  -6378?x    2? x 86
Sep 12 0502   Jilin-1 Gaofen 02C           Kuaizhou 1A         Jiuquan         Imaging   F08  F01572  -5000?x  100??x 97.5
Sep 15 0123   Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B 01 xing)  Chang Zheng 11  Debo-3,Yellow Sea   Imaging   65A? S46454    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B 02 xing)                                      Imaging   65B? S46455    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B 03 xing)                                      Imaging   65C? S46456    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B 04 xing)                                      Imaging   65D? S46457    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B 05 xing)                                      Imaging   65E? S46458    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03B 06 xing)                                      Imaging   65F? S46459    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03C 01 xing)                                      Imaging   65G? S46460    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03C 02 xing)                                      Imaging   65H? S46461    538 x  550  x 97.5 
              Jilin-1 Gaofen 03C 03 xing)                                      Imaging   65J? S46462    538 x  550  x 97.5 
Sep 21 0540   Haiyang 2-03                 Chang Zheng 4B      Jiuquan         Imaging   66A  S46469    930 x  949  x 66.0
Sep 27 0323   Huanjing Jianzai 02A)        Chang Zheng 4B      Taiyuan         Imaging   67A  S46478    600 x  655  x 98.0
              Huanjing Jianzai 02B)                                            Imaging   67B  S46479    600 x  655  x 98.0
Sep 28 1120   Gonets-M No. 27        )     Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat   Plesetsk LC43/4 Comms     68A  S46486   1487 x 1506  x 82.5
              Gonets-M No. 28        )                                         Comms     68B  S46487   1487 x 1506  x 82.5
              Gonets-M No. 29        )                                         Comms     68C  S46488   1487 x 1506  x 82.5
              ICEYE-X6               )                                         Radar     68 
              ICEYE-X7               )                                         Radar     68 
              MeznSat                )                                         Sci       68D  S46489    544 x  568  x 97.7
              Dekart                 )                                         Sci       68
              Norbi                  )                                         Sci       68J  S46494    545 x  568  x 97.8
              Yarilo-1               )                                         Sci       68E  S46490    544 x  568  x 97.7
              Yarilo-2               )                                         Sci       68F  S46491    544 x  568  x 97.7
              NetSat-1               )                                         Tech      68
              NetSat-2               )                                         Tech      68
              NetSat-3               )                                         Tech      68
              NetSat-4               )                                         Tech      68
              SALSAT                 )                                         Sigint    68K  S46495    546 x 568 x  97.7
              Antilles               )                                         Comms     68
              Amidala                )                                         Comms     68
              LacunaSat-3            )                                         Comms     68
              Lemur-2-Slicers        )                                         Com/Meteo 68Q  S46500    552 x  568  x 97.7
              Lemur-2-Nichol         )                                         Com/Meteo 68T  S46503    553 x  568  x 97.7
              Lemur-2-Unnamed        )                                         Com/Meteo 68
              Lemur-2-Unnamed        )                                         Com/Meteo 68
Sep 30?       Flock 4V-15 )                                     ION-SVC, LEO   Imaging   61BE S46528    516 x 521 x 97.5
              Flock 4V-16 )                                                    Imaging   61BD S46527    516 x 521 x 97.5
Oct  2?       Flock 4V-17                                       ION-SVC, LEO   Imaging   61BF S46529    516 x 521 x 97.5
Oct  3 0116   S.S. Kalpana Chawla           Antares 230+         MARS Pad 0A   Cargo     69A  S46530    185 x 238 x 51.6
Oct  6 1129   Starlink 1531      )
              Starlink 1644      )          Falcon 9             Kennedy LC39A  Comms    70A  S46532    262 x 277 x 53.0
              Starlink 1648-1650 )                                                         to S46591
              Starlink 1659-1660 )
              Starlink 1663-1664 )
              Starlink 1668      )
              Starlink 1671-1672 )
              Starlink 1674-1685 )
              Starlink 1687      )
              Starlink 1692-1694 )
              Starlink 1696-1702 )
              Starlink 1705-1706 )
              Starlink 1708-1709 )
              Starlink 1712      )
              Starlink 1714      )
              Starlink 1728-1730 )
              Starlink 1732-1733 )
              Starlink 1735-1737 )
              Starlink 1740-1741 )
              Starlink 1743-1744 )
              Starlink 1746-1749 )
              Starlink 1753-1755 )

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

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

Sep  8 1800   DUST-2            Black Brant IX     White Sands           Physics       346       White Sands
Oct  1        Black Dagger      Boosted Zombie     Fort Wingate?         Target        100?      White Sands

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