GCAT: General Catalog of Artificial Space Objects

Jonathan C. McDowell


Uncataloged ('U') Launches

The U designation

In the launch designations section we mention the 'U' entries. These are launches for which I assign designations for the form 1969-U01, etc. They are launches which are not in the usual lists of orbital launches, but which are close to making the cut for various reasons, and most of them are pretty interesting.

Orbital launches usually have international designations (`COSPAR designations'). Assignment of these designations was delegated in the early 1960s by the UN COSPAR to the World Data Center A for Rockets and Satellites, who at some point further delegated it to NORAD, today in the form of the US Space Force 18th Space Control Squadron.

The traditional rule was that any launch from the Earth which resulted in an object completing one or more orbits of the Earth would receive a designation. This rule has not always been followed.

I assign U designations for several categories of launch that I consider interesting:

For convenience, here is an annotated table of all the U launches. 'Actual Apo' indicates the actual maximum height above Earth reached. 'Orbit Peri' and 'Orbit Apo' define the orbit that the spacecraft was on for at least a few moments, even if they did not reach either orbit extreme. Recall that negative apogees represent hyperbolic (above escape velocity) trajectories, albeit in this case heading downwards into the atmosphere.

The C3 value, usually used for Earth escape launches, is a measure of the orbital binding energy per unit mass, in km**2/s**2 or (equivalently) MJ/kg; the SpE value is the total kinetic plus potential energy per unit mass, in the same units; the two are not independent, as SpE = 0.5* C3 + 62.5. C3 is negative for objects bound to Earth and positive if they have escape velocity; SpE is always positive and I find it more intuitive for the marginal-orbit cases.
DesignationLaunch DateLaunch VehicleSitePayloadOrbit PeriOrbit ApoOrbit incActual ApoCentral BodyU TypeC3SpEDescription
1957-U011957 Oct 17 0505Aerobee USAF 88Holloman ADCUSAF 88 Charge A-2000?-20000?90.0114 EarthEnergy86.2105.6Artifical meteor (Poulter pellet)
1958-U011958 Sep 26 1538Vanguard SLV-3Canaveral LC18AVanguard Cloud Cover Satellite6542532.8425 EarthMarginal-60.232.4Satellite, positive perigee
1959-U011959 Jun 25 2247Thor Agena A 179Vandenberg 75-3-5CORONA C-1/FTV 102380?170?86.3170? EarthMarginal-61.331.9Satellite, positive perigee
1960-U011960 Apr 15 1506Vostok-L L1-9Baykonur LC1/5Luna E-3 No. 150?200000?65.0200000? EarthSkipped/Energy-3.860.6Failed lunar probe
1960-U021960 Sep 21 1301Blue Scout Jr D-1Canaveral LC18AD-1 Probe-50402670930.0?26709 EarthEnergy-23.250.9Space physics probe
1960-U031960 Oct 4 1523Scout X-1 ST-2Wallops LA3ST-2 Probe-4400563038.0?5630 EarthEnergy-57.034.0Space physics probe
1961-U011961 Aug 17 1429Blue Scout Jr D-1Canaveral LC18AO-1 Probe-5000?100000?30.0?100000?EarthEnergy-7.458.8Space physics probe, apogee unconfirmed
1961-U021961 Apr 21 0556Trailblazer IWallopsTrailblazer 1g-616618199106.10283EarthReentry-32.246.4Artificial meteor
1961-U031961 Oct 19 1738Scout X-1 ST-7Wallops LA3ST-7 Probe-5022685532.06855 EarthEnergy-54.635.2Space physics probe
1961-U041961 Dec 4 0400Blue Scout Jr O-2Point Arguello LC-AO-2 Probe-300?4440094.0?44400 EarthEnergy-14.055.5Space physics probe
1962-U011962 Mar 29 0727Scout X-2 ST-9Wallops LA3ST-9 Probe-5540629038.0?6290 EarthEnergy-59.033.0Space physics probe
1962-U021962 May 6 0541Trailblazer 2WallopsMeteor 1 pellet-6251-54735104.3280 EarthReentry16.570.8Artificial meteor
1962-U031962 Aug 31 1625Scout X-3A S114Wallops LA3Reentry 2-6000700038.0217 EarthReentry-58.033.5Reentry test
1963-U011963 Jul 30 1616Blue Scout Jr 22-1Canaveral LC18AAFCRL-1/21-1840?1110031.011100 EarthEnergy-36.244.4Space physics probe
1964-U011964 Mar 12 0417Nike CajunWallopsMeteor 2/3-616012200105.6100 EarthReentry-42.441.3Artificial meteor
1964-U021964 Apr 14 2142Atlas 263DKennedy LC12FIRE 1-219-5162632.1840 EarthReentry20.472.7Reentry test for Apollo
1964-U031964 Apr 21 1850Thor Ablestar 379/AB014Vandenberg 75-1-1Transit VBN-350?500?90.0500? EarthMarginal-59.932.5Satellite, positive perigee
1964-U041964 Aug 18 0605Scout X-4A S129RWallops LA3Reentry 4-117506948.0183 EarthReentry-45.040.0Reentry test
1964-U051964 Nov 7 0138Nike CajunWallopsMeteor 4/5-6100?241000106.0110EarthReentry-3.260.9Artificial meteor
1965-U011965 Dec 16 1409R-36O U22502-01LBaykonur LC67/21OGCh No. 01L-650?22064.5220 EarthMarginal-64.730.2Weapons test flight
1965-U021965 Jan 19 1404Titan II GLV-2Kennedy LC19Gemini GT-2-48493 31.7493 EarthMarginal-60.432.3Spaceship test flight
1965-U031965 May 4 0550Nike CajunWallopsMeteor 6/7-6100?241000105.0110EarthReentry-3.260.9Artificial meteor
1965-U041965 May 22 2155Atlas 264DKennedy LC12FIRE 2-234-6549132.5825 EarthReentry15.170.0Reentry test for Apollo
1965-U051965 Mar 30 1609Blue Scout Jr 22-4Kennedy LC18AAFRCL-35-1250?16100?30.0?16100?EarthEnergy-28.948.1Space physics probe
1965-U061965 Apr 9 1810Blue Scout Jr 22-9Kennedy LC18AAFWL-14-3300?2550030.025500 EarthEnergy-22.851.1Space physics probe
1965-U071965 May 12 1602Blue Scout Jr 22-8Kennedy LC18AAFCRL-335-2000?1564030.015640 EarthEnergy-30.247.4Space physics probe
1965-U081965 Jun 9 1626Blue Scout Jr 22-5Kennedy LC18AAFWL-304-1200?1753330.017533 EarthEnergy-27.448.8Space physics probe
1966-U011966 Feb 5 1219R-36O U22502-02LBaykonur LC67/21OGCh No. 02L-650?22064.5220 EarthMarginal-64.730.2Weapons test flight
1966-U021966 May 19 1930R-36O U22502-04LBaykonur LC67/21OGCh No. 04L-650?22064.5220 EarthMarginal-64.730.2Weapons test flight
1966-U031966 Feb 10 0055Scout X-4A S141CWallops LA3AReentry E-1500?4300?47.0175EarthReentry-51.336.9Reentry test
1966-U041966 Feb 26 1612Saturn IB SA-201Kennedy LC34Apollo AS-201-565167430.7493 EarthReentry-57.533.8Reentry test of Apollo CM
1966-U051966 Mar 18 0115Trailblazer 2WallopsMeteor 8-6100?136000107.0280EarthReentry-5.659.7Artificial meteor
1966-U061966 Aug 25 1715Uprated Saturn I SA-202Kennedy LC34Apollo AS-20259408231.41143 EarthMarginal-47.238.9Flight and reentry test of Apollo CSM
1966-U071966 Sep 17 0157Nike CajunWallopsMeteor 9-6080?-146000107.0110EarthReentry5.7265.4Artificial meteor
1966-U081966 Dec 21 2215Atlas SLV-3 7001Vandenberg SLC3ESV-5D FV-1-1179 170 145.3170 EarthMarginal-67.928.6Lifting body test
1967-U011967 Feb 14 0552Trailblazer 2WallopsMeteor 10-5792-12485109.4280 EarthReentry144.4134.7Artificial meteor
1967-U021967 Mar 5 2305Atlas SLV-3 7002Vandenberg SLC3ESV-5D FV-2-562201145.2201 EarthMarginal-64.330.3Lifting body test
1967-U031967 Apr 20 0135Atlas SLV-3 7003Vandenberg SLC3ESV-5D FV-3-488211144.6211 EarthMarginal-63.930.6Lifting body test
1967-U041967 Oct 19 1733Scout B S159CWallops LA3ARAM C-1-1355?2011?39.9217EarthReentry-59.432.8Reentry test
1968-U011968 May 20 2205R-36O Ya22500-18LBaykonur LC162/36OGCh No. 18LU-200?200?49.7200? EarthMarginal-62.531.3Weapons test flight
1968-U021968 May 27 2315R-36O Ya22501-19LBaykonur LC161/35OGCh No. 19LU-200?200?49.7200? EarthMarginal-62.531.3Weapons test flight
1968-U031968 Aug 22 1516Scout B S168CWallops LA3ARAM C-2-1850?1420?41.8221 EarthReentry-64.730.2Reentry test
1969-U011969 Jul 21 1754LM 5 Ascent StageTranquility BaseLM 5 Eagle1791161.8MoonExtraT--Human lunar return
1969-U021969 Nov 20 1425LM 6 Ascent StageSurveyor 3 SiteLM 6 Intrepid1995144.1MoonExtraT--Human lunar return
1969-U031969 Jan 25 1114Tsiklon-2A No. 12LBaykonur LC90/19US-A No. 212-50?245?65.1245? EarthMarginal-61.531.7Satellite launch failure
1970-U011970 Sep 21 0743E-8-5 VSLuna-16 site,Mare FecunditatisE-8-5 No. 406 VA?400000?MoonExtraT--Robotic sample return
1970-U021970 Jun 12 0110Europa I F-9Woomera LA6AELDO STV 3-74467384.1673 EarthMarginal-62.831.1Satellite launch failure
1970-U031970 Nov 30 2240Atlas Centaur AC-21Kennedy LC36BOAO B-50?600?35.0600? EarthMarginal-59.932.5Satellite launch failure
1971-U011971 Feb 6 1848LM 8 Ascent StageFra Mauro BaseLM 8 Antares17113167.9MoonExtraT--Human lunar return
1971-U021971 Aug 2 1711LM 10 Ascent StageHadley BaseLM 10 Falcon363143.4MoonExtraT--Human lunar return
1971-U031971 Sep 20 2331Scout B S166CWallops LA3ABarium Ion Cloud-46003210038.932100 EarthEnergy-19.852.6Space physics probe
1972-U011972 Feb 22 2258E-8-5 VSLuna-20 site, Apollonius CE-8-5 No. 408 VA?400000?MoonExtraT--Robotic sample return
1972-U021972 Apr 24 0125LM 11 Ascent StageDescartes BaseLM 11 Orion28108172.0MoonExtraT--Human lunar return
1972-U031972 Dec 14 2254LM 12 Ascent StageTaurus-Littrow BaseLM 12 Challenger21114? MoonExtraT--Human lunar return
1973-U011973 Apr 25 0910Tsiklon-2 No. 17LBaykonur LC90US-A No. 314-800?250?65.0250?EarthMarginal-65.329.8Satellite launch failure
1973-U021973 May 21 0847Diamant B No. 5Kourou ELDD-5A/D-5B40?30020.0300?EarthMarginal-60.932.1Satellite launch failure, positive perigee
1976-U011976 Aug 19 0525E-8-5 VSLuna-24 site, Mare CrisiumE-8-5 No. 413 VA?400000?MoonExtraT--Robotic sample return
1976-U021976 Jun 18 1141Scout D-1 No. S193CWallops LA3AGravity Probe A-62631023039.410230EarthEnergy-47.738.7Physics experiment probe
1979-U011979 Oct 12 1230Soyuz-U 77025-419Plesetsk LC43/3Argon (Zenit-6) No. 12L-200?200?72.9200EarthMarginal-62.531.3Satellite launch failure
1980-U011980 Dec 9 0718Atlas 68EVandenberg SLC3WNRO PARCAE 4-1000?1050?63.51050? EarthMarginal-62.331.4Satellite launch failure
1987-U011987 May 15 1730Energiya No. L1506SLBaykonur LC250Skif-DM-1515564.6155EarthMarginal-61.831.6Satellite launch failure
1995-U011995 Jan 15 1345Mu-3S-II M-3S2-8Kagoshima MuEXPRESS11024531.0245 EarthSkipped-60.832.1Made 3 orbits but not tracked
2000-U012000 Feb 10 0130M-V-4Kagoshima M-VASTRO-E80?41031.3410EarthMarginal-60.232.4Satellite launch failure, possibly positive perigee
2001-U012001 Sep 21 1849Taurus 2110 T6Vandenberg 576EOrbview-4/QuikTOMS-50?42797.3427EarthMarginal-60.732.1Satellite launch failure
2003-U012003 Sep 16 1030KT-1TaiyuanKT-1 test payload112?30792.0307EarthMarginal-60.532.2Satellite launch failure, possibly positive perigee
2004-U012004 Nov 8 1830Soyuz-2-1A No. 001Plesetsk LC43/4Oblik No. 103-150?180?82.5?180? EarthMarginal-62.431.3Suborbital launch vehicle test
2013-U012013 May 13 1258DF-21?XichangKunpeng-7-3000?10000?32.010000? EarthEnergy-40.4?42.3?Launch vehicle test, orbit uncertain
2015-U012015 Feb 11 1340Vega VV04Kourou ZLVAVUM VV042204305.4430 EarthSkipped-59.532.8AVUM stage completed more than one orbit, IXV orbit 76 x 416
2020-U012020 Nov 17 0152Vega VV17Kourou ZLVSEOSAT/Taranis-500?250?98.5250?EarthMarginal-63.730.6Satellite launch failure
2020-U022020 Dec 3 1510CE-5 SSQLouville Omega NChang'e-5 Shangsheng Qi1518142.4MoonExtraT--Robotic sample return
2021-U012021 Jul 27Chang Zheng 2CTaiyuan?CZ Orbital RV100?200?137?200?EarthSkipped/Marginal-61.132.0Weapons test flight
2022-U012022 Mar 24 0534Hwasong-15?SunanHS-17 RV-6261620041.36200EarthEnergy-62.7031.1Lofted ICBM test flight
2022-U022022 Aug 7 0348SSLV-D1Satish Dawah FLPEOS-02/AzaadiSAT7635641.6?356EarthMarginal-60.532.3Satellite launch failure, positive perigee
2022-U032022 Nov 18 0114Hwasong-15?SunanHS-17 RV-6260610041.66100EarthEnergy-63.3030.9Lofted ICBM test flight
2023-U012023 Feb 18 0822Hwasong-15?SunanHS-17 RV-6260576841.65768EarthEnergy-65.0730.0Lofted ICBM test flight
2023-U022023 Mar 15 2210Hwasong-17?SunanHS-17 RV-6260?5800?41.65800?EarthEnergy-65.0730.0Lofted ICBM test flight
2023-U032023 Jul 12 0059Hwasong-18PyongyangHS-18 RV-6260?664841.66648EarthEnergy-60.7032.1Lofted ICBM test flight
2023-U042023 Dec 17 2324Hwasong-18PyongyangHS-18 RV-6260?651841.66518EarthEnergy-61.331.9Lofted ICBM test flight
2024-U012024 Mar 14 1325StarshipStarbaseShip 28-50?23426.50234EarthMarginal-61.6131.69Launch vehicle test