[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 702

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.org
Mon Sep 22 19:39:22 EDT 2014

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 702                                              2014 Sep 22  Somerville, MA

International Space Station

The NanoRacks cubesat deployer package remains attached to the JEM RMS robot arm
while troubleshooting continues on electrical problems with the deployer.
Four more 3U cubesats remain in the deployers while another package of 8 deployers
with 16 x 3U equivialent of cubesats sits inside Kibo (more PlanetLabs Flock-1b
satellites plus the LambdaSat, GEARRS and MicroMAS payloads).

On Sep 10 at 2301 UTC Skvortsov, Artemev and Swanson undocked from the Poisk module
in Soyuz TMA-12M. The deorbit burn at 0130 UTC Sep 11 lowered the orbit to about
-22 x 418 km followed by module separation at 0158 UTC, atmosphere entry at 0201UTC
and landing in Kazakhstan at 0223 UTC.

Expedition 41 began with undocking of Soyuz TMA-12M; the remaining ISS
crew are commander Max Suraev and flight engineers FE-5 Reid Wiseman and
FE-6 Alex Gerst. Ferry craft Soyuz TMA-13M is docked to the station.

On Sep 21 SpaceX launched the sixth Dragon cargo ship on mission CRS-4
to the ISS. This was the 13th Falcon 9 launch and the 8th such launch within
a 1 year period. The Dragon Trunk carries two packages, the ISS
RapidScat radar scatterometer science instrument and the RapidScat Nadir Adapter, which
will be installed on the SDX nadir attach point of the Columbus module's
external payload facility. The Dragon cabin carries SpinSat, an 0.56m
spherical NRL satellite to be deployed by the Kibo JEM-RMS, and the
NASA-Ames Rodent Research 1 life sciences payload with 20 mice (mus
musculus). Neither SpaceX nor NASA has revealed the mass of Dragon CRS-4
but it is probably in the 9500-10500 kg range.

According to US tracking data, Dragon was inserted into a 203 x 358 km x
51.6 deg orbit; by 1400 UTC on Sep 22 it had decayed to 204 x 349 km due
to atmospheric drag, but had not begun significant orbit raising burns
to rendezvous with the ISS. However I'm not completely sure the object
being tracked (catalog 40212 until Sep 22 1300 UTC, then retagged as
40210) is actually Dragon. 

The Falcon 9 second stage was deorbited on the first Earth revolution
and reentered S of New Zealand at about 0655 UTC Sep 21.

Maven and MOS at Mars

The NASA/JPL Maven space probe has arrived at Mars. MAVEN was in 0.96 x
1.45 AU x 2.0 deg solar orbit until entering Mars sphere of influence at
0100 UTC Sep 20, then in 537 x -15778 km x 74 deg hyperbola. At 0138 UTC
on Sep 22 the probe began a 33 minute burn to brake into a bound 380 x
44600 km x 75 deg Mars orbit (parameters not yet confirmed).

Meanwhile, the Indian Space Research Organization's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft
entered the Mars sphere of influence from its 0.98 x 1.44 AU x 2.5 deg solar 
orbit on Sep 22.


It now appears that something went wrong with the recovery of a Russian Defense Ministry
Kobal't spy satellite on Sep 2. (The satellite is usually called Kosmos-2495 in the press,
although the confusion about Kosmos numbering means it may actually be Kosmos-2493).

Based on the knowledge that the satellite was no longer in orbit of Sep 2, I calculated
(using algorithms pioneered by Phil Clark) that if it landed in the usual area,
the deorbit would have been northbound over the Horn of Africa around 1805 UTC Sep 2
with entry around 1818 UTC and landing around 1828 UTC near Orenburg in Russia.
The descent module (SA) would separate from the service module (AO) after the deorbit
burn, with the AO burning up since it does not have a heat shield. The AO carries
the solar panels, which are likely to break off early in the descent.

Reentering debris overhead was observed by people in Kazakhstan at
around 1814 UTC Sep 2, exactly the expected time for the service module
entry. (but also close to a pass of the Chinese Yaogan 5 satellite
wich completed its reentry two orbits later. However, Ted Molczan reports that
he has ruled out Yaogan 5 as a possibility.)

In addition, large amounts of reentering debris were observed
northbound over Colorado and Wyoming at about 0430 UTC on Sep 3, which
is consistent with the projected path and timing of the satellite if no
deorbit burn was made.

I conclude that the SA landed successfully on the Sep 2 pass; possibly
after separation the AO bounced off the atmosphere and remained in a very low
orbit for 7 further revolutions before finally succumbing over US territory.
This is hard to match with the data since the timing suggests whatever reentered
over Colorado was in the original payload orbit - there are uncertainties but
other analysts like Ted Molczan believe that the small objects (payload covers?
solar panels?) ejected before the deorbit burn were responsible for the Colorado reentry.
I'm surprised that low mass objects could generate such a bright display.
Space-Track has not cataloged any additional objects associated with the mission.

Meanwhile, Bob Christy reports that NOTAMS (announcements of airspace
closures) suggest recovery dates for the two small SpK capsules. Based
on these I infer SpK landing times of Jun 20 0808 UTC and Jul 3 0402

Asiasat 6

On Sep 7 SpaceX launched the Asiasat 6 satellite. It reached a 175 x 202
km x 27.7 deg parking orbit and then was delivered to a 154 x 35752 km x
25.4 deg geostationary transfer orbit. Asiasat is a Hong Kong based
telecom company. The satellite has C and Ku band communications payloads
and an additional C-band payload for the Thai operator Thaicom; this
payload is marketed as Thaicom 7. The Loral-1300 satellite has a mass of
3700 kg according to the press kit, although Space News quoted 4428 kg. 
On Sep 20, Asiasat 6 had reached a 35773 x 35800 km x 0.1 deg GEO over
119.8 deg E.

Yaogan 21

China's Yaogan 21 imaging satellite was launched to a 475 km, 1030LTDN SSO on Sep 8.
The mission continues a series begun with the Zi Yuan 2 satellites.

A small 67 kg subsatellite, Tiantuo-2 was also deployed. The Tiantuo
satellites are built by the National University for Defense Technology;
this one carries video imaging experiments.

Ariane 5

Ariane 5 flight VA218, vehicle 573, placed two communications satellites in
geostationary transfer orbit on Sep 11. Measat 3b is a 5897 kg Airbus/Toulouse Eurostar 3000
satellite for Malaysia's Measat; part of the capacity is leased to NewSat (Melbourne)
to be marketed as the Jabiru-2 payload. Optus 10 is owned by Singtel Optus,
the Australian subsidiary of Singapore Telecome. It is a 3970 kg Loral LS-1300 satellite
with a Ku-band payload.


United Launch Alliance launched a Lockheed Martin Atlas V 401, flight
AV-049, on Sep 17. The rocket placed the Lockheed Martin A2100 class
CLIO satellite (USA 257) in an unusual high-perigee geostationary transfer orbit,
possibly around 11800 x 36000 km, after coasting in an initial 174? x
28860 km x 28 deg orbit.

CLIO's owner is an unidentified US government agency - possibly the
National Reconnaissance Office although nowadays its satellites are
normally acknowledged. It may have a communications or signals
intelligence payload.


At 0525 UTC Sep 22, Cassini flew 1400 km from Titan on its T-105 flyby.
Cassini is now in a 626000 x 3133000 km x 40.3 deg Saturn orbit


The Dawn probe, en route from Vesta to Ceres, safemoded due to a radiation
event on Sep 11. Ion engine thrusting resumed by Sep 16; the probe is currently
in a 2.45 x 3.03 AU x 9.6 deg solar orbit, reducing aphelion and increasing
inclination on its way to Ceres arrival in 2015.


The Messenger probe, in orbit around Mercury, reached a record low orbit
of 23 x 10610 km x 83.5 deg  on Sep 12. An engine burn then raised
periapsis, making the orbit 92 x 10610 km.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission    INTL.  

Aug  2 0323   GPS 68             Atlas V 401       Canaveral SLC41   Navigation   45A
Aug  5 0800   Asiasat 8          Falcon 9 v1.1     Canaveral SLC40   Comms        46A
Aug  9 0545   Yaogan 20 Sat 1 )  Chang Zheng 4C    Jiuquan           Sigint       47A
              Yaogan 20 Sat 2 )                                      Sigint       47B
              Yaogan 20 Sat 3 )                                      Sigint       47C
Aug 13 1830   WorldView-3    )   Atlas V 401       Vandenberg SLC3E  Imaging      48A
              Centaur AV-047 )                                      Rocket stage  48B
Aug 18 1423   Chasqui-1                            ISS, LEO          Tech        98-67ET
Aug 19 0315   GaoFen 2  )        Chang Zheng 4B    Taiyuan           Imaging      49A
              Heweliusz )                                            Astronomy    49B
Aug 19 1825   Flock 1b-24 )                        ISS, LEO          Imaging     98-67EU
              Flock 1b-23 )                                          Imaging     98-67EV
Aug 20 0226   Flock 1b-26 )                        ISS, LEO          Imaging     98-67EW
              Flock 1b-25 )                                          Imaging     98-67EX
Aug 20 0950   Flock 1b-15 )                        ISS, LEO          Imaging     98-67EY
              Flock 1b-16 )                                          Imaging     98-67EZ
Aug 21 1337   Flock 1b-1  )                        ISS, LEO          Imaging     98-67FA
              Flock 1b-2  )                                          Imaging     98-67FB
Aug 22 1227   Galileo FOC FM01 ) Soyuz ST-B        CSG ELS           Navigation   50A
              Galileo FOC FM02 )                                     Navigation   50B
Aug 23 1944   Flock 1b-7  )                        ISS, LEO          Imaging     98-67FC
              Flock 1b-8  )                                          Imaging     98-67FD
Sep  4 0015   Chuangxin 1-04 )                     Jiuquan           Comms        51B
              Ling Qiao      )                                       Comms        51A
Sep  5 0929   Flock 1b-17 )                        ISS, LEO          Imaging     98-67FF
              Flock 1b-18 )                                          Imaging     98-67FE
Sep  7 0500   Asiasat 6          Falcon 9 v1.1     Canaveral SLC40   Comms        52A
Sep  8 0322   Yaogan 21  )       Chang Zheng 4B    Taiyuan           Imaging      53A
              Tiantuo 2  )                                           Imaging      53B
Sep 11 2205   Measat 3b )        Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms        54A
              Optus 10  )                                            Comms        54B
Sep 17 0010   CLIO               Atlas V 401       Canaveral SLC41   Sigint?      55A
Sep 21 0552   Dragon CRS-4       Falcon 9 v1.1     Canaveral SLC40   Cargo        56A

Suborbital missions

Russia launched a submarine missile on Sep 10; India carried out a training launch
of its Agni I missile on Sep 11. Three Trident missiles were launched from off the
coast of Southern California Sep 12 towards the mid-Pacific, from an unidentified Trident submarine;
at least one of the launches was widely observed along the US west coast.

Israel carried out a missile defense test Sep 9; according to the Times of Israel the
target was a Blue Sparrow missile which is thought to fly a slightly exoatmospheric
trajectory, although the Arrow 2 interceptor itself would not have left the atmosphere.

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Aug  4 1400   S-310-43         S-310               Uchinoura        Technology    117
Aug 17 1010   S-520-29         S-520               Uchinoura        Ionosphere    243
Aug 23 1313   Shark?           Terrier Lynx        Wallops          Target        150? 
Aug 25 0825?  AHW FT2          STARS IV            Kodiak           Hypersonic      1?
Aug 28 0900   NASA 36.308GT    Black Brant IX      Wallops I.       Test/Aeron.   350?
Sep  2 0202   EPL-ME           VS-30/EPL           Alcantara        Test          130?
Sep  9        Sparrow Target   Blue Sparrow?       F-15D, Med.Sea   Target        100?
Sep 10        RV               Bulava              K-551,White Sea  Test         1000?
Sep 11 0541   Agni RV          Agni I              Chandipur        Op. Test      500?
Sep 12 1300   USN RV           Trident D-5         Sub, Pacific O.  Test         1000?
Sep 12 1300   USN RV           Trident D-5         Sub, Pacific O.  Test         1000?
Sep 12 1300   USN RV           Trident D-5         Sub, Pacific O.  Test         1000?

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |                                    |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |  twitter: @planet4589              |
|                                                                         |
| JSR: http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html                                 |
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