[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 671

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Wed Dec 12 00:05:19 EST 2012

Jonathan's Space Report
No. 671                                           2012 Dec 12    Somerville, MA USA

International Space Station

Expedition 34 began at 2226 UTC on Nov 18 with commander Kevin Ford
and flight engineers FE-1 Oleg Novitskiy and FE-2 Yevgeniy Tarelkin.
Their ferry ship, Soyuz TMA-06M, is docked at the Poisk module.

Expedition 33 crewmembers Suni Williams, Yuriy Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide
undocked from the Rassvet module aboard Soyuz TMA-05M at 2226 UTC Nov 18
and fired the deorbit engines at 0059 UTC Nov 19. After a successful
reentry they landed in Kazakhstan at 0153:30 UTC. (Thanks to Bob Christy,
http://zarya.info, for clarification of the landing time).

Soyuz TMA-07M is scheduled for launch on Dec 19 with crew Roman Romanenko of Russia,
Chris Hadfield of Canada, and Tom Marshburn of the USA.


The first X-37B flight vehicle returned to space on Dec 11 aboard Atlas
AV-034, as the third OTV (Orbital Test Vehicle) mission. The X-37B is a
robotic spaceplane developed by the US Air Force Rapid Capabilities
Office and carries secret test payloads. The satellite is probably in a
roughly 400 km circular orbit at an inclination between 35 and 45 deg.

North Korean satellite

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Choson Minjujuui Inmin Konghwaguk) carried
out its fourth satellite launch attempt at around 0049-0051 UTC on Dec 12. The Unha-3 rocket carried
the second flight model of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite. Initial reports indicated
that the first and second stages of the rocket fired successfully with second
stage impact near the Phillipines. US tracking then cataloged object 39026 as 2012-072A
in a 494 x 588 km x 97.4 deg sun-synchronous orbit with a 0900 local time descending node;
two further objects were cataloged in similar 497 x 582 and 498 x 570 km orbits.
'Kwangmyongsong' means 'lodestar' or 'star of hope' and is believed to be 
a reference to former leader Kim Jong Il. I believe the launch is consistent with
flight on an 88 deg trajectory from Sohae launch site followed by a yawed third stage burn
to put the satellite in a 97 deg orbit. 

   North Korean satellite attempts:
   Date         Rocket        Payload            Planned orbit          Result

   1998 Aug 31  Paektusan-1   Kwangmyongsong-1    219 x 6978 km x 41 deg Stage 3 failed, fell in ocean
   2009 Apr  5  Unha-2        Kwangmyongsong-2    490 x 1426 km x 41 deg Stage 3 failed, fell in ocean
   2012 Apr 12  Unha-3        Kwangmyongsong-3    500 x 500 x 97.4       Stage 1 failed, short range
   2012 Dec 12  Unha-3        Kwangmyongsong-3/F2 500 x 500 x 97.4       494 x 588 x 97.4, success


The Huan Jing yihao C weixing (HJ-1C) is the first radar satellite in China's
environment and disaster monitor constellation, operating with the HJ-1A and 1B
optical satellites.

Together with the 890 kg HJ-1C satellite, the CZ-2C rocket deployed two
small payloads: 'xin jishu yanzheng weixing' (New technology
demonstration satellite), Xinyan-1 for short, and 'fengniao shiyan
zaihe' (Hummingbird experimental payload), Fengniao-1 or FN-1 for short.
FN-1 consists of the 130 kg FN-1A and the 30 kg FN-1B, which will later
separate for formation flying experiments.

The HJ-1C is in a 487 x 503 km x 97.4 deg SSO (sun-synchronous orbit)
with an 0600 local time descending node.


Yaogan Weixing 16 (Resource satellite 16) was launched from Jiuquan,
China on Nov 25. It consists of three satellite payloads (probably a
main satellite and two subsatellites) in 1079 x 1089 km x 63.4 deg
orbits and is thought to be an ocean surveillance system similar to the
US NOSS. This is the second such launch, joining the Yaogan 9 triplet
launched in 2010.


Zhongxing 12 was launched on Nov 27 to provide communications capacity for China Satcom (Zhongguo
wei tong). The satellite is a Spacebus 4000C2 built by Thales Alenia Space (Cannes, France) and 
was originally constructed for the Hong Kong based company Asia Pacific Satellite (Apstar).
The Sri Lankan company SupremeSat is using some of the satellite's capacity but, despite
some misleading marketing, does not appear to own or operate any part of the payload.
On Dec 10 the satellite was in a 35758 x 35807 km x 0.0 deg geostationary orbit over 81.5E.

Echostar XVI and Loral

Echostar Corp.'s Echostar XVI satellite was placed in geostationary transfer
orbit on Nov 21 after launch by an International Launch Services/Khrunichev
Proton-M/Briz-M from Baykonur. By Nov 29 it was in GEO over 67W.

The SS/Loral 1300 class satellite carries a Ku-band television payload,
and has a dry mass of 3520 kg plus 3130 kg of propellant. This is the
90th satellite of this class to be launched since Superbird A in 1989.
The manufacturer, SS/Loral of Palo Alto, has just been sold to MDA Corp.
of Richmond, British Columbia.

The Western Development Laboratories of Philco, established in Palo Alto in 1957, helped build
the Courier 1A and 1B communications satellites of 1960. In 1966 the company
became Philco-Ford, after merger with Ford Motor Co.'s Aeronutronic Division.
The site was renamed Aeronutronic Ford Western Dev. Labs from 1975 to 1976; from Dec 1976
onwards it was Ford Aerospace until its sale to Loral in 1990 as Space Systems/Loral.
Its satellites have included the early GOES/SMS prototypes, Skynet/NATO/IDCSP, Insat 1,
and the INTELSAT V series that was the precursor to the SSL-1300. They were also
involved in the still-rather-mysterious Trident, an Atlas upper stage used to 
dispense reentry vehicles in the ABRES/RMP-B program in the 1967-1972 period (not to
be confused with the Trident SLBM). 

Yamal 402

The next Proton launch didn't end so well. The Yamal 402 communications
satellite for the Gazprom energy company was left in a lower than
planned transfer orbit of 3038 x 35680 km x 26.1 deg when the final Briz-M burn was cut short
on Dec 8. For the two years 2011-2012 Proton has seen 20 launches including 3 failures.
The satellite has enough fuel to reach its intended orbit, but will have a shorter than planned
orbital stationkeeping lifetime.

Yamal-300K and Luch-5B

The Yamal and Luch satellites launched on Nov 2 are now being tracked in GEO.
As of Dec 8 Yamal-300K is on station at 90.8E while Luch-5B is still drifting
west over 13W.


France's Pleiades 1B high resolution imaging satellite was launched from
Kourou-Sinnamary on Dec 1 on a Starsem Soyuz-2-1A/Fregat. Operated by
CNES, the French Defense Ministry is a `preferred customer'. The Fregat
stage manuevered from -1165 x 236 km to 198 x 704 km to 673 x 681 km x
98.2 deg, and then after releasing the payload to -5 x 674 km for
reentry over the Indian Ocean.

Eutelsat 70B

Eutelsat's Eutelsat 70B satellite was launched on Dec 3. The satellite,
to be stationed at 70.5 deg East, uses their new, crazy and annoying,
naming scheme which means its name will change every time they relocate
it. The satellite is a Eurostar 3000 built by Astrium/Toulouse, and
had a launch mass of 5250 kg, with 48 Ku-band transponder capacity.
Launch was by a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL from the Odyssey platform in the
Pacific. By Dec 10, Eutelsat 70B was in a 35633 x 35743 km x 0.0 deg 
GEO drift orbit passing eastward over 48E.

Orbital Launch Stats 2012 to Date

Total 73 attempts:
Russia 23, China 18, US 16, France/ESA 9, India 2, Japan 2, Iran 1 + 1 fail, North Korea 1 fail

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Nov  2 2104   Yamal-300K  )      Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC81/24  Comms     61
              Luch-5B     )                                          Comms     61
Nov 10 2105   Star One C3  )     Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     62B
              Eutelsat 21B )                                         Comms     62A
Nov 14 1142   Meridian No. 16    Soyuz-2-1A/Fregat Plesetsk LC43/4   Comms     63A
Nov 18 2253   Huan Jing 1C    )  Chang Zheng 2C    Taiyuan           Radar     64A
              Xinyan-1        )                                      Tech
              Fengniao 1A/1B  )                                      Tech
Nov 20 1831   Echostar 16        Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC39/200 Comms     65A
Nov 25 0406   Yaogan Weixing 16) Chang Zheng 4C    Jiuquan           Sigint?   66A
              YW-16 Subsat 1   )                                     Sigint?   66B
              YW-16 Subsat 2   )                                     Sigint?   66C
Nov 27 1013   Zhongxing 12       Chang Zheng 3BE   Xichang LC2       Comms     67A
Dec  1 0202   Pleiades 1B        Soyuz ST-A/Fregat Kourou ELS        Imaging   68A
Dec  3 2044   Eutelsat 70B       Zenit-3SL         SL Odyssey        Comms     69A
Dec  8 1313   Yamal 402          Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC39/200 Comms     70A
Dec 11 1803   X-37B OTV-3        Atlas V 501       Canaveral SLC41   Spaceplane 71A
Dec 12 0050?  Kwangmyongsong-3 F2 Unha-3            Sohae             Test      72A

Suborbital flights

The IMAGER payload developed by U Mass. Lowell's Tim Cook and BU's Meredith 
Danowski was launched from White Sands on Nov 21 for ultraviolet imaging
of the nearby spiral galaxy M101 with a 0.5m telescope.

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Nov  2 1755   NASA 36.255US    Black Brant IX   White Sands           Solar X      321
Nov 14 1107   Mk 21 RV?        Minuteman 3      Vandenberg LF10       Op.Test     1300?
Nov 21 1055   NASA 36.260UG    Black Brant IX   White Sands           UV Astron    291

|  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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