[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 634

Jonathan McDowell jcm at www.planet4589.org
Fri Nov 19 01:42:12 EST 2010

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 634                                              2010 Nov 19 Somerville, MA

Note: the launch database http://www.planet4589.org/space/lvdb has been updated
with 1950s Soviet missile launches thanks to data kindly provided by Asif Siddiqi.

Note to JSR readers in Japan: I'll be in Tokyo and Nara for a few days in
early December; if anyone has access to records of the Kappa and Lambda rocket
programs or the navigation data for the Hiten probe, please email me. Or
if you'd just like to go out for some sushi, for that matter.

Shuttle and Station

The Progress M-08M cargo ship was launched on Oct 27. Progress M-05M
undocked from the Pirs module on Oct 25 at 1422 UTC and was deorbited
over the Pacific on Nov 15. M-08M filled the empty slot on Pirs at 1636
UTC on Oct 30. Soyuz TMA-01M is docked at Poisk, TMA-19 at Rassvet, and 
Progress M-07M at Zvezda.

Fyodor Yurchikin, in spacesuit Orlan-MK No. 4 and Oleg Skripochka, in
Orlan-MK No. 5, emerged from the Pirs airlock on Nov 15 to carry out
external maintenance tasks on the Russian segment as Russian EVA 26.
They installed a workstation on Zvezda's starboard side, removed the
Kontur experiment from Zvezda, installed experiments on Rassvet and
Poisk, and removed a docking camera from Rassvet. They tried to
reinstall the camera on the other end of Rassvet but insulation got in
the way, so they had to abandon that task and bring the camera inside.
Hatch open was at 1454 UTC and hatch close at 2122 UTC.

Launch of STS-133 will occur no earlier than December.


Ariane vehicle 555 (flight V197) put two communications satellites in
orbit on Oct 28. Eutelsat W3B is a 5370 kg Thales Spacebus satellite for
the European operator Eutelsat; BSAT-3B is a smaller 2060 kg Lockheed
Martin A2100A satellite for BSAT of Tokyo. 

On Oct 29, Eutelsat announced that W3B's propulsion system wasn't
working and the satellite was declared a loss. Rumours on
www.nasaspaceflight.com suggest an oxidizer leak may have occurred at
spacecraft separation, so it's not yet clear if it's a spacecraft or
launch vehicle failure. As of Nov 4 the satellite was in a 247 x 35825
km x 2.0 deg orbit and is to be abandoned there. By Nov 15, BSAT 3B was
in a 35768 x 35806 km x 0.0 deg orbit on station at 109.7E.

Beidou and Fengyun

China's di liu ke beidou daohang weixing (Beidou navigation satellite 6)
was launched from Xichang on Oct 31 into a 192 x 35876 km x 20.5 deg transfer
orbit. The di er ke fengyun sanhao (2nd Fengyun-3) weather satellite was launched
from Taiyuan on Nov 5 into polar orbit. It is satellite B in batch 01 ("01 pi")
of the FY-3 series.


Russia's third Meridian military communications satellite was launched
on Nov 2. The Fregat upper stage placed it in a 966 x 39773 km x 62.8
deg orbit; an orbit maneuver on Nov 16 adjusted this to a
semi-synchronous 961 x 39388 km.


The Italian Defense Ministry's COSMO-SkyMed 4 X-band radar satellite was
launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Nov 6. It reached parking
orbit at 0231 UTC and was released into a 620 x 632 km x 97.8 deg orbit
at 0318 UTC.

SkyTerra 1

The SkyTerra 1 satellite for LightSquared (formerly Mobile Satellite
Ventures) was launched by a Proton on Nov 14 into a 5875 x 35662 km x
18.8 deg transfer orbit. The Boeing 702 GeoMobile class satellite with a
22-meter L-band reflector has a launch mass of 5400 kg.

Deep Impact

The Deep Impact (EPOXI) spacecraft flew 700 km from comet 103P/Hartley
at around 1401 UTC on Nov 4. It revealed an active cometary nucleus
with rough and smooth areas, and jets coming from the rough areas.


Following its final burns, WMAP is in a 1.00 x 1.09 AU x 1.5 deg solar
orbit. As of Nov 5, it is still only 1.7 million km from Earth, just
outside the L2 region. (Thanks to Dale Fink for orbital data).

Suborbital launches

Russia tested four ballistic missiles on Oct 28-29. The Topol from
Plesetsk, its naval cousin Bulava from the Dmitriy Donskoy submarine in
the White Sea, and the R-29RM Sineva from the K-117 Bryansk sub in the
Barents Sea were all targeted eastward on the Kura test range in
Kamchatka, the standard aimpoint since the first Soviet ICBM launch in
1957. The R-29R Volna launched from the K-433 sub in the Sea of Okhotsk
was targeted westward at the Chizha range in the Kanin Peninsula near
the White Sea.

On Oct 30, an Orbital Sciences Medium Range Target with a Castor 4B motor
was launched from Kauai and intercepted by a Japanese Aegis ship
using an SM-3 interceptor.

The Missile That Wasn't

Video of a contrail seen by an LA helicopter news crew on Nov 9 (Nov 8
Pacific time) not far from the San Nicolas/Pt Mugu area was at first
thought by many media outlets to be a missile launch, but it's now clear that it
was just an aircraft contrail seen heading directly at the observer
and illuminated by the setting sun. A discussion on flightaware.com suggests
US Airways AWE 808 from Honolulu to Phoenix was the culprit.

It is however perfectly true that there are missile launches in that
area, some of them secret. Launches of NASA Black Brant IX rockets from
San Nicolas Island in California carrying MARTI targets for the Missile
Defense Agency's Airborne Laser testbed were until recently on  public
NASA schedules - those schedules have been removed from public access in
the past few weeks. The most recent MARTI launch, which was publicly
acknowledged, was on Oct 21. The MDA has also launched Scud missiles as
targets from the ocean off Point Mugu. Launches of target missiles for
the Aegis ship-based missile defense system being tested by the US and
Japan have also occurred in the Pt Mugu area. Nevertheless, the
consensus of analysts is that the particular contrail seen on Nov 9 was
not a missile, and this is consistent with DoD statements on the matter.

STAR rocket

Does anyone know anything about the Supersonic Target Rocket (STAR) used
at NATO's Aegean-Sea range for Patriot missile testing? Apparently it's
some kind of Viper-Dart-class vehicle with an apogee in the 80-90 km
range, but I haven't been able to find details of the motor or manufacturer.

In Memoriam

I deeply regret to report the deaths of Brian Marsden (1937-2010) and
John Huchra (1948-2010).

Brian was the air-traffic-controller for the Solar System (or, for those
of you in the satellite tracking game, a one-man heliocentric JSPOC). At
the helm of the Minor Planet Center and the Central Bureau for
Astronomical Telegrams for three decades, he coordinated registration of
the discovery, naming and orbital tracking of minor planets, dwarf
planets and comets, and warned the people of Earth of extraterrestrial
threats to our world's survival. More controversially, he led the effort
to demote beloved Pluto from major planet status. Brian was a genial,
grandfatherly figure, always approachable, good-humoured and full of
fascinating anecdotes. 

 When I was a student at Cambridge, I heard an anecdote about him from
Institute of Astronomy librarian David Dewhirst; as a teenager Brian,
who lived in the Cambridge area, came into the library and asked to see
the book of eclipses. DWD gave him the volume with the drawings of 
eclipse paths. No, said Brian, it was the volume with the numbers he
wanted - calculations, not pretty pictures, were his interest.
Calculational expertise remained Brian's hallmark throughout his career,
after he moved from the real to the ersatz Cambridge via Oxford and
Newhaven, and his method for handling comet orbits taking into account the
rocket effect of cometary jets remains standard.

Brian and his successor Gareth Williams took an interest in my efforts
to record trajectories of artifical objects in heliocentric orbit, as it
overlapped with their interest in not cataloging them as minor planets.
I feel very lucky to have interacted with him professionally in even a
small way. A fuller obit for Brian is at

John Huchra was one of the giants of 20th-century cosmology. His mapping
of the three-dimensional distribution of galaxies helped us figure out
the scale and age of the universe, and revealed the large-scale
clumpiness of voids and filaments that changed astronomers' view of the
map of the universe and the story of galaxy formation. John was an
astronomer's astronomer - personally observing many thousands of
galaxies on the world's largest telescopes, but just as happy to train a
graduate student to look at Saturn with the Harvard 9-inch refractor. 

John and Brian were modest, friendly, affable and unstuffy. We'll miss them.

We also lost Allan Sandage recently; the direct successor to Hubble.
I only met Allan a couple of times, so can't comment on him in detail,
but it does seem like we're going through the end of an era.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Oct  1 1100   Chang'e 2           Chang Zheng 3C   Xichang          Lunar probe 50A
Oct  6 0049   SJ-6/4A   )         Chang Zheng 4B   Taiyuan          ?          51A
              SJ-6/4B   )                                           ?          51B
Oct  7 2310   Soyuz TMA-01M       Soyuz-FG         Baykonur LC1     Spaceship  52A
Oct 14 1853   Sirius XM-5         Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC81/24 Radio      53A
Oct 19 1710   Globalstar-2 M073 ) Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat Baykonur LC31   Comms      54F
              Globalstar-2 M074 )                                   Comms      54B
              Globalstar-2 M075 )                                   Comms      54E
              Globalstar-2 M076 )                                   Comms      54C
              Globalstar-2 M077 )                                   Comms      54D
              Globalstar-2 M079 )                                   Comms      54A
Oct 27 1511   Progress M-08M      Soyuz-U           Baykonur LC1    Cargo      55A
Oct 28 2151   Eutelsat W3B  )     Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3     Comms      56A
              BSAT-3B       )                                       Comms      56B
Oct 31 1626   Beidou DW6          Chang Zheng 3C    Xichang         Nav        57A
Nov  2 0059   Meridan             Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat Plesetsk LC43/3 Comms      58A
Nov  5 1837   Fengyun 3 (01)B     Chang Zheng 4C    Taiyuan         Weather    59A
Nov  6 0220   COSMO-SkyMed 4      Delta 7420-10     Vandenberg SLC2W Radar     60A
Nov 14 1729   SkyTerra 1          Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur         Comms     61A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Oct  7 0310   RV x 3?         Bulava          TK-208, White Sea   R&D         1000?
Oct 21 1700   NASA 36.230DR   Black Brant IX  San Nicolas         Target       100?
Oct 27 1015   Mapheus-2       Nike Orion      Kiruna              Micrograv    153
Oct 28 0959   RV              Topol           Plesetsk            Op Test     1000?
Oct 28 1030   RV x 4?         Sineva          K-117, Barents Sea  Op Test     1000?
Oct 28        RV x 4?         Volna           K-433, Okhotsk      Op Test     1000?
Oct 29 0210?  RV x 3?         Bulava          TK-208, White Sea   R&D         1000?
Oct 30 0306   MRT-9           Castor 4B       Kauai               Target       150?
Oct 30 0309   Aegis KV        SM-3            DDG-174, Pacific    Interceptor  150?

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : jcm at www.planet4589.org    |
|  USA                               |          jcm at cfa.harvard.edu       |
|                                                                         |
| JSR: http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html                                 |
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