[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 639

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Wed Mar 16 16:29:37 EDT 2011

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 639                                       2011 Mar 16  Somerville, MA, USA

Best wishes to my colleagues and readers in Japan. I understand that
ISAS/Sagamihara is largely undamaged, but the ISS control center at
JAXA/Tsukuba is out of action for the time being, thankfully with no
casualties. I have not yet heard reports from the Kakuda hypersonic
propulsion research center at Miyagi, near the epicenter.

I expect to be in Montreal on Apr 7 - do my Quebecois readers know if there
are tours of CSA/St-Hubert? 

Shuttle and Station

Soyuz TMA-01M undocked from the Station's Poisk module at 0427 UTC Mar
16.  Crewmembers Aleksandr Kaleri (commander), Oleg Skripochka and Scott
Kelly, formerly of Expedition 26, returned to Earth with landing in
Kazakhstan at 0753 UTC. On the Station, Expedition 27 has now begun
under the command of Dmitri Kondratev, together with flight engineer 5
Paolo Nespoli and flight engineer 6 Cady Coleman.

Space Shuttle Discovery was launched on Feb 25 on mission STS-133.
Discovery's  main cargo is Leonardo, the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM),
a cargo storage unit now added to the station.

Discovery docked with the Station at 1914 UTC on Feb 26.
On Feb 27 the Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC-4) was transferred from
the Shuttle to the S3 segment of the stationt russ. ELC-4 carries spare
parts for station external systems. On Feb 28 astronauts Bowen and Drew
made a spacewalk from the Quest airlock to install a power cable between
the Unity and Tranquility modules and move the failed Pump Module S/N 0002
from the mobile base system (where it was stashed during a previous
spacewalk) to a longer term home on the ELC-2 carrier, freeing up the
MBS attachment point to be used for other things. They also adjusted
the track system for the Mobile Transporter so that it can move the robot
arm down further along the S3 segment than before. The airlock
was depressurized at 1541 UTC and repressurized at 2220 UTC; hatch open/close
was 1546 to 2215 UTC.

The Station's SSRMS arm was used to move Leonardo from Discovery's cargo
bay to the nadir port on the Unity module between 1346 and 1505 UTC on
Mar 1.

On Mar 2 Drew and Bowen again used Quest to go outside, depressurizing
it at 1535 UTC, and opening the hatch at 1541 UTC. Among other tasks
they vented the failed Pump Module, retreived the LWAPA experiment
support plate from Columbus and stowed it in the Shuttle payload bay,
installed a camera on the Dextre arm, adjusted a camera sunshade and
added a lighting system on the truss, and relocated the Strela 
adapter to the Zarya module from PMA3, where it had been stowed since
2006; the adapter was launched on STS-96 in 1999.

Discovery undocked from the PMA-2 adapter on the Harmony module
at 1200 UTC on Mar 7, reducing the station's crew complement from
12 to 6. The spaceship made its 39th and final landing on runway 15 of Kennedy
Space Center at 1657 UTC on Mar 9.

The Johannes Kepler ATV is docked at the Zvezda module; Kounotori-2 is
berthed at Harmony nadir (on Mar 10, after the departure of Discovery,
the SSRMS arm moved it there from Harmony zenith);  Progress M-09M is at
the Pirs module; and Soyuz TMA-20 at Rassvet. Launch of Soyuz TMA-21 has
been delayed until April.  

Taurus XL launch failure

The Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket suffered its second launch failure in
a row on Mar 4. Once again the fairing failed to separate, and the extra
mass being carried by the rocket meant that after stage 4 burnout the
velocity was a few tenths of a km/s too low, giving the payload the
correct orbital apogee but a negative perigee with impact probably in
the Antarctic.

Orbital says that they used a different fairing separation system
on this flight, one that has flown successfully in the past year
on the Minotaur rocket, but the similar nature of the failure
to the one that destroyed the Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission
on the previous launch will inevitably be a blow to the company's
reputation. The T8 failure was thought to be due to the failure of
the separation system to pressurize; on this T9 flight, the system
did pressurize but the fairing still did not separate. It may turn
out that the pressurization issue wasn't the true cause of the T8
problem either.

The main instrument on NASA's Glory satellite lost in the Taurus flight 9
failure  was an aerosol polarimetry sensor (APS) that would have
provided a global map of aerosol particulates (soot and sulphates) which
would have helped calibrate climate change models. This compounds the
loss of OCO on Taurus flight 8, which would have made a global map of
carbon dioxide. Even if a replacement APS is built, the delay of several
years in these projects seems to me to be a significant blow to climate
change research - in contrast to my own field of astronomy, a few years
delay in improving our understanding of climate change may really matter
to the world. Glory also carried a radiometer to measure the total solar
output; this would have replaced the one that has been flying on the
SORCE satellite since 2003.

Three cubesat payloads were also lost in the launch: Montana State University's
Explorer 1 Prime, the University of Colorado's Hermes and the University
of Kentucky's KySat-1.

  Taurus flight history:
  T1   1994 Mar 13   Taurus 1110   USAF STEP 0  
  T2   1998 Feb 10   Taurus 2210   US Navy Geosat Follow-On
  T3   1998 Oct  3   Taurus 1110   NRO STEX
  T4   1999 Dec 21   Taurus 2110   KOMPSAT (Korea) and ACRIMSAT (NASA)
  T5   2000 Mar 12   Taurus 1110   USAF/DoE MTI
  T6*  2001 Sep 21   Taurus 2110   USAF Orbview-4/NASA QuickTOMS
  T7   2004 May 20   Taurus 3210   ROCSAT-2 (Taiwan)
  T8*  2009 Feb 24   Taurus 3110   OCO (NASA)
  T9*  2011 Mar  4   Taurus 3110   Glory (NASA)

  T6, T8 and T9 failed to reach orbit: three failures in four launches.

Orbital's broader stable of orbital space launchers is doing a bit better;
so far this century we have:
  Minotaur I    7 out of  7 successful orbital attempts
  Minotaur IV   2 out of  2 successful orbital attempts
  Pegasus XL   10 out of 10 successful orbital attempts
  Taurus        1 out of  4 successful orbital attempts
  Total        20 out of 23    (87 percent)


The first Glonass-K satellite was launched on Feb 26.
The Soyuz-2-1B rocket entered an orbit with a perigee of
less than 80 km, with reentry over the S Pacific, and deployed the
Fregat upper stage whose three burns resulted in 212 x 241 km,
278 x 19145 km and 19279 x 19715 km x 64.8 deg orbit.
The 935 kg payload, based on ISS Reshetnev's Ekspress-1000 bus, 
separated into the latter orbit. Earlier Glonass satellites
used Reshetnev's Uragan pressurized bus; the new satellite bus
is unpressurized and the payload includes both an extra nav signal
in the GPS L3 band and a COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue transponder
payload. This first Glonass-K has serial number 11 (Reshentev
satellite series always start with 11 - I think 1 to 10 may be used for
ground test articles).


The X-37B spaceplane, called the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) by the US
Air Force, is a reusable lifting body similar in concept to the Space
Shuttle Orbiter but much smaller (5000 kg rather than 100000 kg) and
with no crew. At least two OTVs have been built; OTV-1 made its first
flight from 2010 Apr 23 to Dec 3, and OTV-2 was launched on its first
flight on Mar 5. The craft is possibly in a circa 400 x 420 km x 40 deg
orbit like that used by OTV-1; the mission is expected to last about 9
months with landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in around December.
Launch was by United Launch Alliance with a Lockheed Martin Atlas V 501,
serial AV-026. Centaur AV-026 was deorbited over the Indian Ocean
on the first orbit.

OTV-2 has been found by Greg Roberts in a circa 315 x 341 km x 43 deg orbit.


The command to separate the two FASTRAC satellites, launched on 2010 Nov 20,
was sent on 2011 Mar 14, but separation did not occur.


United Launch Alliance launched a Delta 4 Medium from Cape Canaveral on
Mar 11 carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The
payload is thought to be a Satellite Data System communications
satellite headed for geostationary orbit. The launch was designated
NROL-27; the payload has the codename USA 227. The Delta 4 second stage
probably made three burns before deploying the payload and will have
ended up in near-geosynchronous orbit.

Kosmos cover names

Since 1962 most Soviet/Russian military satellites have had a program
name (Kometa, Gektor, Musson) and a cover name in the Kosmos series
(Kosmos-1 onwards). The program names used to be secret, with only the
Kosmos names publicly known. In recent years both names have been used
in official public Russian statements, and now the program names are
used almost exclusively. Kosmos numbers are still assigned, but
belatedly, and are mostly ignored in the Russian media. Thus, Geo-IK-2
and Glonass-K are Kosmos-2470 and Kosmos-2471.  I am considering
relegating the Kosmos names to the status of 'alternate name' and using
the Glonass-K, etc., names as the primary ones in my database for new
launches - but this will depend a bit on how the latest launches are
reported by Russia to the UN; as of the most recent official filings
available at oosa.un.org  the Kosmos names were still used.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Jan 18 0300   Nanosail-D2                          Fastsat, LEO     Tech       62L
Jan 20 1229   Elektro-L         Zenit-3SLBF        Baykonur LC45    Weather    01A
Jan 20 2110   USA 224           Delta 4H           Vandenberg SLC6  Imaging    02A
Jan 22 0537   Kounotori 2       H-IIB              Tanegashima Y2   Cargo      03A
Jan 28 0131   Progress M-09M    Soyuz-U            Baykonur         Cargo      04A
Feb  1 1400   Geo-IK-2 No. 11   Rokot              Plesetsk LC133/3 Geodetic   05A
Feb  6 1226   RPP (USA 225)     Minotaur I         Vandenberg SLC8  Tech       06A
Feb 16 2151   Johannes Kepler   Ariane 5ES         Kourou ELA3      Cargo      07A
Feb 24 2153   Discovery STS-133 Space Shuttle      Kennedy LC39A    Spaceship  08A
Feb 26 0307   Glonass-K No. 11  Soyuz-2-1B         Plesetsk LC43/4  Navigation 09A
Mar  4 1009   Glory  )          Taurus XL 3110     Vandenberg 576E  Climate    F01
              E1P    )                                              Sci        F01
              Hermes )                                              Tech       F01
              KySat-1)                                              Tech       F01
Mar  5 2246   OTV-2 F1          Atlas V 501        Canaveral SLC41  Spaceplane 10A
Mar 11 2338   USA 227 (NROL-27) Delta 4M+(4,2)     Canaveral SLC37  Comms?     11A
Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Jan 22 0610   Aegis Target     Terrier Oriole     Wallops I.          Target       100?
Jan 28 1049   NASA 36.257UG    Black Brant IX     Poker Flat          UV Astron    240?
Feb  5 0811   NASA 36.256UE    Black Brant IX     Poker Flat          Atmosphere   260?
Feb 22 1256   REXUS 9          Orion              Kiruna              Micrograv     81
Feb 23 1000   REXUS 10         Orion              Kiruna              Micrograv     82
Mar  1 2100   8 x Mk 5 RV      Trident D-5        USS Nevada, Pacific Test        1000?
Mar  2 1340   Patriot Target   Juno               Fort Wingate        Target       100?

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