[JSR] Jonathan's Space Report, No. 755

Jonathan McDowell jcm at planet4589.com
Wed Oct 17 23:11:45 EDT 2018

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 755                                                          2018 Oct 18 Somerville, MA

Soyuz MS-10 launch abort

Soyuz MS-10 (spacecraft 11F732A48 No. 740) was launched on Oct 11 at
0840:15 UTC from the Gagarin pad at Baykonur aboard a Soyuz-FG rocket
(model 11A511U-FG S/N U15000-062), carrying astronauts Aleksey
Nikolaevich Ovchinin (Roskosmos; Col. VVS, ret.) and Col. Tyler Nicklaus
'Nick' Hague (USAF, NASA). The solid escape motor tower (DU SAS) was
jettisoned on schedule at T+1min 54s. The DU SAS is only part of the
complex Soyuz escape system, though, as we'll see below. At T+1:58 the
side boosters comprising stage 1, called Blok B, V, G and D, shut down
and were ejected from stage 2, the Blok A core stage. At this point, 50
km up at the base of the mesosphere, one of the side boosters
(specifically, Blok D) failed to rotate away from the core correctly and
smashed into it, causing an emergency abort at T+2:03. A leading theory
is that a propellant vent that normally pushes the Blok D away failed to

The Soyuz-FG rocket's core stage engines shut down, as is standard for a
Russian rocket abort, and the remaining part of the SAS (sistema
avariynovo spaseniya, System of Emergency Rescue) came into play. The
RDG engines on the side of the fairing fired as the upper part of Soyuz
(BO, Bitovoy Otsek, orbital module; SA, Spuskaemiy Apparat, descent
craft; and GO, golovnoy obektatel', payload fairing) separated from the
lower part (lower fairing and the PAO, priborno-agregatniy-otsek,
instrument-service-module) which remained attached to the rocket stack
(Blok A stage 2 plus Blok I stage 3).  The RDG motors pulled the
bisected Soyuz away from the disintegrating rocket. The rocket stack
fell back towards Earth and its parts have been recovered for analysis. 

At T+2:40, according to a timeline reported by Anatoliy Zak at
russianspaceweb.com, the SA descent craft was ejected out of the rear of
the BO/GO assembly. The BO/GO and the SA  then continued on a ballistic
trajectory, reaching an apogee of 93 km (according to A. Krasil'nikov on
the Novosti Kosmonavitiki forum) and falling back toward Kazakhstan. The
SA, with the two astronauts aboard, deployed its parachutes and floated
to a landing 20 km east of the city of Dzezhkazgan at 0859:56 UTC after
a flight lasting 19 min 41s. Astronauts Ovchinin and Hague were
retrieved safely.

(At a postflight press conference NASA astronaut Reid Wiesman reported
that the time from anomaly to landing was 34 minutes, which was obviously
too long even taking the slow parachute descent into account. It's not
clear what caused this incorrect report.)

Earlier this year I published a paper (McDowell 2018, Acta Astronautica
151, p 668, 'The edge of space: Revisiting the Karman Line',
http://planet4589.org/space/papers/Edge.pdf ) in which I showed that the
Karman Line should really be at around 80 km, not 100 km. I therefore
count a flight as a spaceflight if its apogee is above 80 km - and given
the apogee of 93 km, Soyuz MS-10 meets this test and is the 332nd
spaceflight in history and the 20th suborbital one. This makes Nick Hague the 565th astronaut
(person above 80 km). Aleksey Ovchinin first flew in space on Soyuz
TMA-20M and was the 553rd human to fly above 80 km. (Of course, if
you prefer the 100 km boundary, then for you it's not a spaceflight and Hague
didn't make it into space.)

The Soyuz spaceship was introduced in 1966. There have been three previous
accidents during the launch phase.

 - The second launch, Soyuz 7K-OK No. 1, suffered an accident
  on 1966 Dec 14 after a launch scrub. The DU SAS escape tower fired accidentally,
  destroying the launch vehicle and killing a pad worker. However,
  the escape tower worked in the sense that the
  Soyuz descent module was recovered safely 1.5 km away. This mission did not
  have a crew.

 - Soyuz 7K-T No. 39 was launched on 1975 Apr 5. Five minutes
  into flight the second stage (Blok-A) failed to separate 
  cleanly from the third stage (Blok-I). The SAS system separated
  the BO/SA/GO from the stack, just as in the MS-10 failure.
  Soyuz reached an apogee of 192 km and the descent module landed
  in the Altai mountains after a 21 min flight; 
  astronauts Lazarev and Makarov suffered minor injuries.

  - Soyuz 7K-ST No. 16L was counting down to launch on 1983 Sep 26
  when at T-20s a fire broke out in the first stage. The DU SAS fired
  and pulled the BO/SA/GO to a height of 1.4 km, as the Soyuz-U rocket
  toppled over and exploded. After a 5 minute flight
  astronauts Titov and Strekalov landed safely 2.5 km from the pad.
  This is the only time that the DU SAS tower itself was used.

The common thread in all four accidents is that the escape systems
returned the descent module to Earth safely in all cases. So, (valid)
concerns about quality control in the Russian space program should be
tempered by a certain degree of confidence in the safety of the Soyuz
launch phase even in adverse circumstances.


At one point I guessed that the Soyuz MS-10 apogee was below 80 km, in which case
I would not have counted Soyuz MS-10 as a spaceflight, and Nick Hague would
*not* have qualified as an astronaut. He would them have
become a `mesonaut' - a
human who has flown in the mesosphere but not outside it. There have
been 13 mesonauts, but 10 subsequently became astronauts. Here is the

M  Mesonaut          Flight          km   Date           Spaceflight

1  Joe Walker        X-15 2-14-28    52   1961 Mar 30    X-15 3-14-24   1963 Jan 17
2  Robert White      X-15 2-20-36    66   1961 Oct 11    X-15 3-7-14    1962 Jul 10
3  Neil Armstrong    X-15 3-3-7      55   1962 Apr  5    Gemini 8       1966 Mar   
4  Robert Rushworth  X-15 3-19-30    68   1963 Jun 18    X-15 3-20-31   1963 Jun 27
5  Joe Engle         X-15 1-46-73    53   1964 Apr  8    X-15 3-44-67   1965 Jun 29
6  Milton Thompson   X-15 1-54-88    54   1965 May 25    === None ===
7  Jack McKay        X-15 2-40-72    65   1965 Jul  8    X-15 3-49-73   1965 Sep 28
8  Pete Knight       X-15 2-46-83    58   1966 Jul 21    X-15 3-64-95   1967 Oct 17
9  William Dana      X-15 3-54-80    54   1966 Aug 19    X-15 3-56-83   1966 Nov  1
10 Mike Adams        X-15 1-71-121   51   1967 Apr 28    X-15 3-65-97   1967 Nov 15
11 Mike Melvill      SS1 56L/14P     64   2004 May 13    SS1-60L/15P    2004 Jun 21
12 David Mackay      SS2 PF2-14      52   2018 Jul 26    === None yet ===
13 Mike Masucci      SS2 PF2-14      52   2018 Jul 26    === None yet ===

Suborbital Spaceflights

Here is a list of flights above 80 km by humans that did not achieve orbit. For air-drop
flights the drop point and drop time are used for reporting launch site and duration.

    Date          Spaceship         Flight        Crew            Launch Site    Apogee/km   Duration/min:s

1.  1961 May  5   Mercury SC7       MR-3          A. Shepard      Canaveral LC5     186         15:22
2.  1961 Jul 21   Mercury SC11      MR-4          V. Grissom      Canaveral LC5     190         15:37
3.  1962 Jul 10   X-15-3            3-7-14        R. White        Delamar Dry Lake   95.9       10:21
4.  1963 Jan 17   X-15-3            3-14-24       J. Walker       Delamar Dry Lake   82.2        9:24
5.  1963 Jun 27   X-15-3            3-20-31       R. Rushworth    Delamar Dry Lake   86.9       10:28
6.  1963 Jul 19   X-15-3            3-21-32       J. Walker       Smith Ranch Lake  106.1       11:25
7.  1963 Aug 22   X-15-3            3-22-36       J. Walker       Smith Ranch Lake  108.0       11:09
8.  1965 Jun 29   X-15-3            3-44-67       J. Engle        Delamar Dry Lake   85.6       10:32
9.  1965 Aug 10   X-15-3            3-46-70       J. Engle        Delamar Dry Lake   82.7        9:52
10. 1965 Sep 28   X-15-3            3-49-73       J. McKay        Delamar Dry Lake   90.1       11:57
11. 1965 Oct 14   X-15-1            1-61-101      J. Engle        Delamar Dry Lake   81.3        9:18
12. 1966 Nov  1   X-15-3            3-56-83       W. Dana         Smith Ranch Lake   93.6       10:44
13. 1967 Oct 17   X-15-3            3-64-95       W. Knight       Smith Ranch Lake   85.6       10:06
14. 1967 Nov 15   X-15-3            3-65-07       M. Adams        Delamar Dry Lake   81.1        4:51 (Broke up)
15. 1968 Aug 21   X-15-1            1-79-139      W. Dana         Railroad Valley    81.6        9:23
16. 1975 Apr  5   7K-T No. 39       Soyuz         V. Lazarev      Baykonur LC1      192         21:27
                                                  O. Makarov
17. 2004 Jun 21   Spaceship One     60L/15P       M. Melvill      Mojave            100.1       24:05
18. 2004 Sep 29   Spaceship One     65L/16P       M. Melvill      Mojave            102.9       24:11
19. 2004 Oct  4   Spaceship One     66L/17P       B. Binnie       Mojave            112.1       23:46
20. 2018 Oct 11   11F732A48 No. 740 Soyuz MS-10   A. Ovchinin     Baykonur LC1       93         19:41
                                                  N. Hague 

International Space Station

Expedition 57 continues aboard the ISS with astronauts Gerst, 
Prokop'ev, and Aunon-Chancellor. They have plenty of supplies.
I expect that the Soyuz-FG will be cleared for return to flight before
they have to return to Earth, but NASA reports ISS can remain uncrewed
if needed. As of Oct 12 RIA Novosti reported that Soyuz MS-11
could fly as early as Dec 5. The Ovchinin-Hague crew may be recycled
for Soyuz MS-12 early next year.

The October spacewalks for battery replacements will have
to be replanned. They were meant to be done with Gerst and Hague;
probably Gerst and Aunon-Chancellor will perform them.

Yaogan 32

On Oct 9 China's CALT launched a CZ-2C with the first YZ-1S simplified
Yuanzheng-1 upper stage, placing two Yaogan 32 hao 01 zu  (Yaogan 32
Group 1) payloads in a 0900 local time sun-synch orbit. It appears the
second stage was suborbital, with the YZ-1S making a single orbit insertion burn at
apogee. A dual-payload adapter was also left in orbit; the YS-1S then
made a deorbit burn and reentered around 82E 35S in the southern Indian Ocean.


Two more Beidou-3 medium orbit navigation satellites were launched on Oct 15.
They were Beidou-3 M15 and M16, also known as Beidou Daohang Weixing 39 and 40.


United Launch Alliance fired an Atlas V 551 from Cape Canaveral on Oct
17 carrying the AEHF 4 satellite. AV-073 took off at 0415 UTC, reached a
176 x 485 km x 28.1 deg parking orbit at 0426 UTC, a 202 x 22578 km x
25.9 deg transfer orbit at 0443 UTC, and after a third burn completed at
0745 UTC delivered AEHF 4 to a 8914 x 35300 km x 12.8 deg orbit at 0747
UTC.  AEHF 4 was built by Lockheed Martin (using the A2100 bus) for the
US Air Force. It carries a 20/44 GHz strategic secure communications payload.

Hubble and Chandra gyro glitches

The Hubble Space Telescope is in safemode following failure of one of its
gyros on Oct 5. A backup gyro failed to come online; the team are working the problem.
If they can't get it working HST will spend the rest of its career observing
in `one-gyro' mode; this adds some operational difficulties and will make
some special kinds of observation (especially solar system objects) problematic,
but won't impact most of its science program.

On Oct 10, the Chandra X-ray Observatory also entered safemode due to
three seconds of bad data from one of the gyroscopes. Chandra has had
very few incidents during its so-far-19-year-long mission;  it has now
returned to normal pointing mode and is expected to resume science observations
in the coming week or two following some ground-commanded onboard reconfiguration
and tests.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission       INTL.   Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes

Sep 16 2306   DebrisSat-1                               RemDeb, LEO      Tech        9867PM S43621   400 x   404 x 51.7
Sep 16 2308?  RemDeb Net                                RemDeb, LEO      Tech        9867PM A09713   Now attached to DebrisSat-1
Sep 19 1407   Beidou DW 37 )          Chang Zheng 3B/YZ-1 Xichang LC2    Navigation   72A   S43622 21533 x 22193 x 55.0
              Beidou DW 38 )                                             Navigation   72B   S43623 21545 x 22197 x 55.0
Sep 22 1752   Kounotori 7             H-IIB              Tanegashima     Cargo        73A   S43630   187 x   301 x 51.6
Sep 25 2238   Horizons 3e       )     Ariane 5ECA        Kourou ELA3     Comms        74B   S43633   280 x 35741 x  5.9
              Azerspace-2/IS-38 )                                        Comms        74A   S43632   246 x 35712 x  6.0
Sep 29 0413   Xiangrikui 1            Kuaizhou-1A        Jiuquan         Tech         75A   S43636   696 x   710 x 98.2 1030LT SSO
Oct  6 0800   STARS-Me )                                ISS, LEO         Tech        9867PN S43638?  403 x   408 x 51.6
              RSP-00   )                                                 Tech        9867PP S43639?  403 x   408 x 51.6
              SPATIUM-I)                                                 Tech        9867PQ S43640?  403 x   408 x 51.6
Oct  8 0221   SAOCOM-1A               Falcon 9          Vandenberg SLC4E Radar        76A   S43641   607 x   634 x 97.9 1800LT SSO
Oct  9 0234   Yaogan 32 01 zu )       Chang Zheng 2C/YZ-1S Jiuquan       Sigint       77A   S43642   689 x   705 x 98.3 2100LT SSO
              Yaogan 32 02 zu )                                          Sigint       77B   S43643   689 x   704 x 98.3 2100LT SSO
Oct 11 0840   Soyuz MS-10             Soyuz-FG          Baykonur LC1     Spaceship    F01   F01526 -6180?x    93 x 51.6
Oct 15 0423   Beidou DW 39 )          Chang Zheng 3B/YZ-1  Xichang       Navigation   78A   S43647 21537 x 22193 x 55.0
              Beidou DW 40 )                                             Navigation   78B   S43648 21530 x 22193 x 55.0
Oct 17 0415   AEHF 4                  Atlas V 551       Canaveral SLC41  Comms        79A   S43651  8194?x 35300 x 12.8

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

The suborbital launches table includes known flights above 80 km.

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

Sep 17 1409   FOP-5?/Celestis   SpaceLoft XL       Spaceport America     Tech          114       Spaceport America, NM
Sep 27 1215   NAMMO Nucleus     Nucleus            Andoya U3             Test          107       Norwegian Sea
Oct  1 0000?  Warhead           Zulfiqar           Kermanshah?,Iran      Weapon        200?      Syria
Oct  1 0000?  Warhead           Zulfiqar           Kermanshah?,Iran      Weapon        200?      Syria
Oct  1 0000?  Warhead           Qiam-1             Kermanshah?,Iran      Weapon        200?      Syria
Oct  1 0000?  Warhead           Qiam-1             Kermanshah?,Iran      Weapon        200?      Syria
Oct  8        Ghauri RV         Ghauri             Somniani?             Training      400?      Arabian Sea?
Oct 11 1100?  RV                DF-11?             Jiuquan               Test          500?      Urumqi?
Oct 11        RV x 4?           Sineva?           Sub, Barents Sea       Exercise      1000?     Kura
Oct 11        RV x 4?           Sineva?           Sub, Barents Sea       Exercise      1000?     Kura
Oct 11        RV x 4?           Volna?            Sub, Sea of Okhotsk    Exercise      1000?     Chiza
Oct 11        RV x 4?           Volna?            Sub, Sea of Okhotsk    Exercise      1000?     Chiza

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