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Jonathan's Space Report
No. 797 draft                                                     2021 Aug 23   Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 65 continues.

Cargo Dragon capsule C208, with (as usual) a new trunk, was launched on mission SpX CRS-23
on Aug 29. The trunk is empty on this mission. The cabin carries 2207 kg of pressurized
cargo including 45 kg of satellite deployment hardware. 

For Nanoracks, four cubesats are carried (the first three as part of NASA's Elana program)
for deployment from the NRCSD deployer (probably NRCSD-21?):
  -  PR-CuNaR2, a 3U physics experiment from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico - Bayamon
  -  CAPSat, a 3U technology satellite from the University of Illinois
  -  SPACE HAUC, a 3U satellite testing a software defined radio from U. Massachusetts, Lowell
  -  IOD-3 Amber, a 6U shipping electronic intelligence satellite from Horizon Technologies (Reading) and the
            Satellite Applications Catapult (Harwell) which will provide data to the Portsmouth-based
            National Maritime Information Centre.

For Japan's SpaceBD, another four payloads are known to be aboard and will use the JAXA J-SSOD deployer:
  -  Binar-1, a 1U test satellite for Curtin University
  -  CUAVA-1, a 3U test satellite for the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales,
       which have a joint new CUAVA space technology lab on the U Sydney campus;
  -  Maya-3 and Maya-4, two 1U test satellites from the Phillipines DOST and the U. Phillipines Diliman.

CRS-23 arrived at the ISS and docked at IDA-2/PMA-2 at 1430 UTC on Aug 30.

On Sep 3 astronauts Novitskiy (suit Orlan MKS-5) and Dubrov (MKS-4)
carried out spacewalk VKD-49 to install exterior power and ethernet
cables connecting the Nauka module to the rest of the Station.  The
Poisk airlock was depressurized from about 1410 UTC to 2239 UTC; the
hatch was opened from 1441 to 2235 UTC. 

On Sep 9 Novitskiy and Dubrov continued the Nauka cabling work on
spacewalk VKD-50. The airlock was depressurized from 1430 to 2219 UTC,
with the hatch open from 1451 to 2216 UTC. Novitskiy hand-jettisoned a
bundle containing an ethernet cable reel cover and several insulation
covers at 2151 UTC; it was cataloged as object 49129.

On Sep 12 astronauts Hoshide (JAXA) and Pesquet (ESA), in spacesuits EMU
3015 and 3009, made US spacewalk EVA-77 from the Quest airlock. (It's
considered a US spacewalk because it was made in US spacesuits from the
US airlock with supervision by US mission control, even though neither
spacewalker is actually American.) They installed an IROSA solar array
'mod kit', a set of mounting brackets, on the base of the 4A solar array
wing on the P4 truss. This mod kit will serve as the mounting point for
a new IROSA solar array to be launched on a future Dragon cargo mission.
A new Quest airlock depressurization protocol was used, resulting in a
very slow depressurization. The airlock reached the 50 mbar pressure I
use to mark the start of depressurized activities at 1149 UTC, but it
took until 1212 UTC to reach the 34 mbar point that NASA requires for
hatch opening. The hatch was indeed opened at 1213 UTC and the
astronauts went on to battery power at 1215 UTC. 

After the mod kit install, the spacewalkers replaced the FPMU unit on
P1. The original FPP (Floating Potential Probe) was launched on STS-97
in Dec 2000 and attached to the P6 truss during STS-97 EVA-3, but never
worked. It was jettisoned on 2005 Nov 7  during ISS US EVA-4 and
reentered on 2006 Feb 25. The replacement FPMU (Floating Point
Measurement Unit) was launched aboard STS-121 in Jul 2006 and attached
to the S1 truss  on 2006 Aug 3 during ISS US EVA-5. During STS-129 EVA-2
on 2009 Nov 21 the FPMU was relocated from S1 to P1. The third device
was launched on 2021 Aug 10 aboard NG-16 - at least that's my guess,
NASA have not said so explicitly. It was attached to P1 at about 1800 UTC.
Hoshide and Pesquet closed the airlock hatch at 1904 UTC and began
repressurization at 1909 UTC.


On Sep 16 at 0002:56 UTC Dragon capsule C207 'Resilience' was launched
on a Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center carrying the first all-private crew
to orbit. The crew of the Inspiration4 mission are:
  Commander          Jared Isaacman
  Medical Officer    Hayley Arcenaux
  Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski
  Pilot              Dr. Sian Proctor

The first stage, S/N 1062, landed on the droneship Just Read The
Instructions in the Atlantic. The second stage put the Dragon in an
approximately 190 x 570 km x 51.6 km orbit, in approximately the same
orbital plane as the ISS. A pair of Dragon engine burns then raised the
orbit to 570 x 579 km x 51.6 deg. Unfortunately SpaceX have not given
any details of the times and delta-Vs for those burns.  Two further
burns around 2230 and 2320 UTC Sep 17 lowered the orbit back down to 365

High Altitude Human Spaceflights

The Earth is not a sphere - it is roughly an oblate spheroid flattened at the poles.
A decent approximation to this spheroid is the WGS-84 ellipsoid. In addition,
local gravity variations mean that the `geoid' - the surface of constant gravity
- is not quite the same as the ellipsoid; and on top of that local land topography
(mountains, valleys etc) mean that the physical surface is different again.

We can measure heights of space objects in three ways:
1) radial distance from the centre of the Earth (conventionally with the 6378.1 km equatorial radius
of the Earth subtracted); I will call this the geocentric or GC height;
2) distance from the surface of the WGS-84 ellipsoid, measured vertically (i.e. perpendicular to the
local ellipsoid surface tangent plane). I will call this the geodetic or GD height. 
3) distance from the physical surface, measured vertically (i.e. parallel to the local gravity vector).
I will call this the true height, and ignore it because I don't have the data to calculate it.

Normally when we cite orbital parameters for satellites we use the GC height by convention,
even though it can be 20 km different from the GD height. The GD height is closer to what
a non-specialist might expect; well within 1km of the true height and of the mean sea level height.

I4 flew to a 580 km apogee, well above ISS. That makes it timely to
review other high apogee flights. Other than the 9 lunar missions (Apollo 8 and 10 to 17),
the highest apogee flights are listed below, giving both their GC and GD heights:

           GC height   GD height  (km)
 Gemini 11    1374     1379
 Gemini 10     762      766
 STS-31        621      633 
 STS-82        620      624  
 STS-103       611      616
 STS-61        601      608
 STS-109       584      597
 Inspiration4  580      598
 STS-48        576      586
 STS-125       567      598

I have added lists of space travellers and human spaceflight missions to

Shenzhou 12

The Chinese space station made its first orbit reboost on Sep 1, raising orbit from 374 x 383 km
to 383 x 384 km.

Shenzhou 12, with Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Honbo aboard, undocked from
the Tianhe module forward docking port at 0056 UTC Sep 16. They backed off to 2 kn
and then performed a re-rendezvous test, stationkeeping 20 metres from Tianhe's
nadir docking port. At 0538 UTC they again departed the vicinity of Tianhe.
The orbital module was jettisoned at about 0445 UTC Sep 17, followed by a
deorbit burn at 0448 UTC, and landing at 100 04 28E 41 37 43N near the Jiuquan
space centre at about 0534:10 UTC.


Two Ronghe Shiyan Weixing (Integrated test
satellites) were launched from Jiuquan on Aug 24 into an 1100 km, 86.4 deg
orbit. The CZ-2C reached a suborbital trajectory and the second stage
splashed down in the southern Indian Ocean. The YZ-1S upper stage
entered an elliptical (perhaps 150 x 1100 km) orbit after its first burn
at 1125 UTC and an 1100 km circular orbit after its second burn at
around 1212 UTC. The satellites were deployed shortly after this. At
about 1230 UTC the YZ-1S made a deorbit burn targeting entry over the
central Indian Ocean. However, it appears that the resulting perigee was
not low enough for immediate reentry and the YZ-1S remained up for four
hours, reentered at third perigee over southern Africa at around
1620-1625 UTC where it was widely observed.

The CZ-2C used a new larger-diameter 4.2-meter fairing and tested a satellite
dispenser that can carry up to 20 satellites.

A third test satellite was also deployed and lowered its orbit significantly soon after launch.
No detailed information on this third satellite has been revealed.


The SAST/Shanghai-built Tongxin Jishu Shiyan Weixing 7 (Communications
Experiment Test Satellite 7) was launched to geotransfer orbit from
Xichang on Aug 24. Previous SAST TJS missions have reportedly been
Huoyan infrared missile warning satellites. However, it has been
announced that TJS-7 will carry out a docking experiment with TJS-6,
suggesting that it is primarily a technology mission.

Astra LV0006

Astra's LV0006 rocket was launched on Aug 28. Each Astra flight has been
a significantly different variant of its rocket - this one, a model
called Rocket 3.3, had a stretched first stage and improved second stage
systems. One of the 5 Delphin engines failed just after ignition and the
rocket tipped over, then recovered attitude and - remarkably - flew
sideways while vertical for about 18 seconds before beginning ascent and
almost completing first stage burn. At around maximum dynamic pressure,
2.5 min after launch and at an altitude of some 33 km,  some hardware
appeared to fall off the vehicle and a flight termination command was
sent. The vehicle presumably fell in the ocean south of Kodiak. Astra
report the hardware reached an apogee of around 50 km; my estimate
based on available data is 47 km.

The rocket carried the Space Force's Space Test Program STP-27AD1, an
instrumented test payload designed to remain attached to the second
stage and measure the launch environment.

Firefly Alpha

Firefly Aerospace carried out its first Alpha launch on Sep 3 from Space Launch Complex
2-West at Vandenberg Space Force Base. A cloud of gas was seen escaping from the rocket 
about 2min after launch; the rocket then cartwheeled and was destroyed by the US Space Force range
safety team. Altitude achieved was probably around 15 km.

Payloads were:
   3U deployer (possibly ISILAUNCH QuadPack?)  BSS-1 (Benchmark Space Systems, Vermont) - 3U, propulsion $
   8P deployer (Libre Space PICOBUS):
                              Qubik-1 and 2,  1P (0.025m cube, 0.25 kg) test satellites from Libre Space,$
                              Fossa-1b and 2, 1P and 2P test satellites from Fossa Systems, Madrid
                              GENESIS L and N, 1.5P amateur radio satellites from AMSAT-EA, Madrid
   Unknown deployer:    Serenity, 3U cubesat for Teachers In Space with student experiments
                        Hiapo, 1U educational cubesat for Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, Hilo
                        Mass simulator for Orbital-1, 3U? for Naval Postgrad School, Monterey, Calif.
   Attached to second stage:
         Spinnaker-3, dragsail device from Purdue/Cal Poly, to reduce Stage 2 orbit life.

Gao Fen 5-02

The Gao Fen 5-02 high resolution imaging satellite was launched at 0301 UTC Sep 7 from Taiyuan.


The Zhongxing-9B (Chinasat-9B) communications satellite was launched to GTO on Sep 9.


Kosmos-2551 was launched to low polar orbit on Sep 9 by a Soyuz-2-1V, the light version of the Soyuz.
It is thought to be the Razbeg imaging satellite, the operational version of the small EMKA
imaging spy satellite.

Starlink G2-1

On Sep 14 SpaceX launched 51 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base to a 70 degree orbit.
The satellites are the new V1.5 design with laser intersatellite links. SpaceX has not revealed
the mass of the new satellites. The launch was designated Group 2-1, and marks the
start of a new orbital shell for the system.

The Falcon 9 first stage landed on the OCISLY droneship and the second stage deployed
the satellites after a single burn to orbit. A second burn of the second stage was expected
to deorbit the stage over the western Indian Ocean near 2N 61E.

OneWeb launch 10

Also on Sep 10, 34 more OneWeb satelites were launched on a Starsem Soyuz/Fregat from Baykonur.


Astroscale's ELSA-d target was released from the main Chaser craft for
the first time at 1501 UTC Aug 25.    It was allowed to drift a short
distance (of order metres) away and was then recaptured with the
Chaser's magnetic  grapple. Astroscale reported that the experiment was
repeated multiple times.


Faraday Phoenix is now identified, leaving only PACE-1 and PAINANI-2 which
are 48909 and 48928 in some order.


The Royal Australian Air Force/UNSW  M2A and M2B satellites launched on
Electron 19 on Mar 22 separated from each other on Sep 10 after several months
of checkout operations.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches

Date UT       Name                           Launch Vehicle      Site            Mission  INTL.  Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes
Aug  3 0739   Jilin-1 Mofang-01A?              Shuang Quxian 1      Jiuquan            Tech    F05 F01589  -250?x500? x 97?
Aug  4 1101   KL-Beta A )                      Chang Zheng 6        Taiyuan            Comms   70A S49059  899 x 908 x 89.0 
              KL-Beta B )                                                              Comms   70A S49060  899 x 908 x 89.0 
Aug  5 1630   Zhongxing-2E                     Chang Zheng 3B       Xichang            Comms   71A S49062  423 x 35138 x 23.6
Aug 10 2201   S.S. Ellison Onizuka             Antares 230+         MARS LA0A          Cargo   72A S49064  178 x 375 x 51.6
Aug 12 0013   EOS-03                           GSLV Mk II           Satish Dhawan      Comms   F06 F01593 -4500 x 140 x 17.9
Aug 17 0147   Pleiades Neo 4  )                Vega                 Kourou ELV         Imaging 73E S49070  615 x 617 x 97.9
              LEDSAT          )                                                        Tech    73          522 x 562 x 97.6
              Sunstorm        )                                                        Solar   73          522 x 562 x 97.6
              BRO-4           )                                                        Sigint  73          522 x 562 x 97.6
              RADCUBE         )                                                        Sci     73          522 x 562 x 97.6
Aug 18 2232   Tianhui 2-02-01)                 Chang Zheng 4B      Taiyuan LC9         Radar   74A S49071  501 x 520 x 97.5
              Tianhui 2-02-02)                                                         Radar   74B S49072  501 x 520 x 97.5
Aug 21 2213   OneWeb SL0285-0291)              Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat    Baykonur LC31      Comms   75A
              OneWeb SL0293-0302)                                                             -75AK        445 x 473 x 87.4
              OneWeb SL0304-0305)
              OneWeb SL0308-0319)
              OneWeb SL0323     )
              OneWeb SL0329-0330)
Aug 24 1115   Ronghe Shiyan Weixing 1)         Chang Zheng 2C/YZ-1S Jiuquan LC94       Comms   76A S49112  1085 x 1107 x 86.4
              Ronghe Shiyan Weixing 2)                                                 Comms   76C S49114  1085 x 1111 x 86.4
              Test satellite         )                                                 Comms   76B S49113  1035 x 1061 x 86.4
Aug 24 1541   TJS 7                            Chang Zheng 3B       Xichang            Tech?   77A S49115  191 x 35817 x 28.5
Aug 28 2235   STP-27AD1                        Astra Rocket 3.3     Kodiak LP3B        Test    F07 F01596 -6350?x 47 x 64
Aug 29 0714   Dragon CRS-23                    Falcon 9             Kennedy LC39A      Cargo   78A S49117  203 x  319 x 51.6
Sep  3 0159   BSS-1       )                    Firefly Alpha        Vandenberg SLC2W   Tech    F08 F01599 -6370? x 15?x 137
              Serenity    )                                                            Edu     F08 F01607 -6370? x 15?x 137
              Hiapo       )                                                            Edu     F08 F01608 -6370? x 15?x 137
              Qubik 1     )                                                            Tech    F08 F01600 -6370? x 15?x 137
              Qubik 2     )                                                            Tech    F08 F01601 -6370? x 15?x 137
              GENESIS L   )                                                            Com     F08 F01605 -6370? x 15?x 137
              GENESIS N   )                                                            Com     F08 F01604 -6370? x 15?x 137
              Spinnaker 3 )                                                            Tech    F08 F01609 -6370? x 15?x 137
Sep  7 0301   Gao Fen 5-02                     Chang Zheng 4C       Taiyuan            Imaging 79A S49122  680 x 691 x 98.3
Sep  9 1150   Zhongxing 9B                     Chang Zheng 3B       Xichang            Comms   80A S49125 206 x 35792 x 24.6
Sep  9 1959   Kosmos-2551                      Soyuz-2-1V           Plesetsk LC43/4    Imaging 81A S49127 295 x 307 x 96.4
Sep 10 0455   RAAF M2 B                                           RAAF M2 A, LEO       Tech   23J  S47973 545 x 558 x 45.0
Sep 14 0355   Starlink 3042-3043               Falcon 9             Vandenberg SLC4E   Comms   82         212 x 339 x 70.0 
              Starlink 3045-3048
              Starlink 3050-3060
              Starlink 3068-3069
              Starlink 3071-3074
              Starlink 3077-3078
              Starlink 3080-3091
              Starlink 3093
              Starlink 3095-3096
              Starlink 3100-3104
              Starlink 3106-3107
              Starlink 3109
              Starlink 3116
              Starlink 3118-3119
Sep 14 1807   OneWeb SL0292                    Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat    Baykonur LC31     Comms   83A-AK        445 x 472 x 87.4
              OneWeb SL0303
              OneWeb SL0306-0307
              OneWeb SL0320-0322
              OneWeb SL0324-0328
              OneWeb SL0331
              OneWeb SL0333-0346
              OneWeb SL0348
              OneWeb SL0350-0352
              OneWeb SL0354-0355
              OneWeb SL0357
Sep 16 0002   Inspiration4                     Falcon 9             Kennedy LC39A     Spaceship 84A  S49220  570 x 579 x 51.6

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

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

Aug 11 0753   GT239GM           Minuteman III      Vandenberg LF09       Op. Test     1300?      Kwajalein
Aug 11 1444?  ReDX-1/SL-16      SpaceLoftXL        Spaceport America     Tech          100?      White Sands
Aug 12        RV                Ghaznavi           Somniani?             Test          100?      Pakistan?
Aug 12        ET-2              Imp. Malemute      White Sands           Test          100?      White Sands
Aug 19 2100   RockSat-X         Terrier Imp.Mal.   Wallops I             Education     158       Atlantic
Aug 26 1431   NS17              New Shepard        West Texas            Science       106       West Texas
Sep  5        HE warhead        Zulfiqar           Sanaa?                Weapon        150?      Ras Al-Tanura
Sep  9 1725   EVE 8             Black Brant IX     White Sands           Solar EUV     293       White Sands
Sep 11 2207   HOT SHOT 4?       Terrier Imp.Mal.   Wallops I             Tech          200?      Atlantic 
Sep 12 1730   BVT-03            GBI                Vandenberg            Test          300?      Pacific

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