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Jonathan's Space Report
No. 788 draft                                                     2021 Jan 5  Somerville, MA

Space Activities in 2020

My annual summary is now available.

International Space Station

Expedition 64 continues under the command of Sergey Ryzhikov.

On Dec 19 at 2344 UTC the Canadarm-2 extracted the Nanoracks Bishop
Airlock (NRAL) from the Dragon CRS-21 trunk, and at about 0330 UTC Dec 20 it
was berthed to the Tranquility module.

On Jan 6 at 1225 UTC the Canadarm-2 unberthed the S.S. Kalpana Chawla cargo ship (mission Cygnus NG-14)
from Unity nadir, at at 1511 UTC released it into orbit.

Cargo Dragon CRS-21 undocked from IDA-3 at 1405 UTC Jan 12. It jettisoned its trunk into orbit
probably at about 0030 UTC Jan 14; began its deorbit burn at 0037 UTC; and landed in
the Gulf of Mexico at 0126 UTC at about 28.6N  83.9W. It returned spacesuit EMU 3008 to Earth
along with a further 1872 kg of cargo. 


India launched PSLV-C50 on Dec 17 with a communications satellite,
CMS-01, to subsynchronous transfer orbit. CMS-01 was previously known as
GSAT-12R. With this and EOS-1 (formerly RISAT-2BR2) ISRO is moving
towards renaming new satellites with blander names for some reason.
CMS-01 carries an extended C-band comms payload for regional service.
The satellite was tested at 77.5E and then on Jan 10 began moving again
to a long-term location.


36 more OneWeb internet satellites were launched on Dec 18 aboard a Soyuz from Vostochniy. The launch was
Starsem flight ST29, the first Starsem launch from the far eastern site. 


SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center on Dec 18 carrying the NROL-108 mission
for the US National Reconnaissance Office. Two payloads, USA 312 and 313, were deployed; one has been
tracked by hobbyists in a 519 x 540 km x 51.4 deg orbit. This is well above the USA 276 satellite
launched in 2017, currently in a 383 x 391 km x 50.0 deg orbit.

The first stage returned to a landing at Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone 1.

Chang Zheng 8

The first launch of the new Chang Zheng 8 (Long March 8) rocket was
successful on Dec 22. CZ-8 has a core stage, two side boosters, and a
LOX/LH2 upper stage derived from the CZ-3B third stage. The main payload
was Xinjishu Yanzheng 7, a technology satellite.  The launch also

   Haisi-1, a 185 kg satellite with a C-band radar payload - the first 
     TY-MINISAR satellite from Tianyi Research (Spacety), for CETC38 
      (the China Electronics Technology 38th Research Institute).

   Yuanguang, a 12U cubesat also from Tianyi carrying  a space tribology 
    payload for the Hubei University  of Technology and a GNSS-RO meteorology
    payload for Tianjin Yunyao Aerospace Tech Co.;
   Tianqi Xingzuo 08, a 40 kg satellite for IoT and financial data 
    relay for Guodian Gaokeji YG; also called Ping'an-1
    due to a collaboration between GG and the Ping'an bank.

   ET-SMART-RSS, also called Zhixing 1A, a 10 kg 6U cubesat for 
    Ethiopia's ESSTI remote sensing institute
    built by Zhixing Kongjian Keji YG (Smart Satellite Tech. Co.)
 (Thanks to Andrew Jones for some of this info.)

Yaogan 33

China's SAST/Shanghai launched a Chang Zheng 4C from Jiuquan on Dec 27 into sun-synchronous orbit.
Previous SSO CZ-4B/C missions from Taiyuan dropped launch debris on other countries, 
prompting the switch to Jiuquan. The payload is not related to the Yaogan 33 which failed
to reach orbit in 2019 - the name is being reused. The new payload is thought to be
a SAST radar satellite of a new series, but details are unclear for now.

A small secondary payload, called `Micro-Nano Technology Test Satellite', was also carried.
The satellite adjusted its orbit to maintain a 9800 km distance from YG-33.


The second CSO (Composant Spatiale Optique) spy satellite for the French defense agency DGA
was launched on Dec 29 aboard an Arianespace Soyuz-ST-A from the Centre Spatial Guyanais.
No orbital data were available as of Jan 18.

Turksat 5A

Turksat-5A, an all-electric-propulsion Eurostar E3000EOR with a launch
mass of 3500 kg, carries a Ku-band communications payload for Turk
Telecom. It was launched to supersynchronous geotransfer orbit on Jan 8.
The Falcon 9 first stage landed on the Just Read The Instructions

As of Jan 13, Turksat 5A was in a 514 x 55036 km x 17.5 deg orbit after a small
perigee raise on Jan 10.

Launcher One

Virgin Orbit carried out Launcher One's second test flight on Jan 17 - with complete success.
The Boeing 747 carrier plane `Cosmic Girl' took off from Mojave Air and Space Port at 1838 UTC
and flew out over the Pacific near San Nicolas Island. Drop was at 1938:51 UTC.
The second stage completed its first burn about 1948 UTC, reaching a 187 x 521 km x 60.7
deg transfer orbit. A second burn at about 2034 UTC put the vehicle in a 500 km orbit
and the cubesat payloads were separated.

The payloads are:
  CACTUS 1, a 3U from Capitol Tech U., Maryland, with an experiment to use aerogel to capture
    and characterize micro-space-debris.
  CAPE 3, a 1U cubesat with an educational communications payload from U. Louisiana-Lafayette.
  EXOCUBE 2 (CP12), a 3U cubesat from Cal Poly with a space weather payload.
  MITEE 1, a U. Michigan 3U cubesat with a 10-meter-deployable tether.
  PolarCube, a 3U cubesat from U. Colorado/Boulder with a radiometer/spectrometer for
    surface and atmosphere temperature measurement.
  Q-PACE, a 3U cubesat from U. Central Florida with a microgravity accretion physics experiment
  Fox-1E/RadFXSat-2 from AMSAT-NA and Vanderbilt U. with an amateur radio payload and a radiation exposure experiment.
  PICS 1 and PICS 2 from Brigham Young University, Passive Inspection Cubesats meant to image
   the LauncherOne final stage and its deployments.
  TechEdSat-7, a 2U cubesat with an Exobrake for drag brake reentry tests. TES-7 also carries
   a CUBIT, (Cubesat Identity Tag), a DARPA RFID tag to aid in cubesat identification. I'm
   enthusiatic about this since this sort of technology is badly needed to help sort out the
   satellite catalog. TES-7 is led by NASA-Ames and San Jose State.

Tiantong-1 03 

China's third Tiantong-1 S-band mobile comms satellite was launched on Jan 19 to geotransfer orbit.

Electron 18

Rocket Lab launched their 18th Electron from New Zealand on Jan 20, placing a communications
satellite in orbit. The launch was purchased by OHB Group on behalf of an unknown customer
thought to be Shanghai Spacecom Satellite Technology Ltd., which is related in some
way to the German KLEO Connect company.


60 more Starlink satellites were launched on Jan 20 by a Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center.


Kosmos-2536 (called Kosmos-2538 by Space-Track) had remained close,
probably docked, to Kosmos-2535 since Oct 21; on Dec 8 it began a series
of departures and returns to distances from 40 to 400 km.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches

Date UT       Name                           Launch Vehicle      Site            Mission  INTL.  Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes

Dec  2 0133   FalconEye 2                       Soyuz ST-A        CSG ELS          Imaging 90A  S47226   597 x   599 x 97.9  1030 LT
Dec  3 0114   Gonets-M No. 30)                  Soyuz-2-1B/Fregat Plesetsk LC43/4  Comms   91A  S47227  1486 x  1506 x 82.5
              Gonets-M No. 31)                                                     Comms   91B  S47228  1487 x  1506 x 82.5
              Gonets-M No. 32)                                                     Comms   91C  S47229  1484 x  1505 x 82.5
              Kosmos-2548    )                                                     Tech    91D? S47230  1481 x  1508 x 82.5
Dec  3 1510   Chang'e-5 Shangsheng Qi                    Louville Omega North, Luna Probe  U02  D1048  Lunar orbit
Dec  6 0358   Gaofen 14                         Chang Zheng 3B/G5  Xichang         Imaging 92A  S47231   485 x   509 x 97.4  1030 LT
Dec  6 1617   Dragon CRS-21                     Falcon 9           Kennedy LC39A   Cargo   93A  S47233   192 x   211 x 51.7
Dec  9 2014   Xiaoji )                          Chang Zheng 11     Xichang         Astron  94A  S47234   588 x   604 x 29.0
              Xiaomu )                                                             Astron  94B  S47235   587 x   604 x 29.0
Dec 11 0109   USA 311                           Delta 4 Heavy      Canaveral SLC37B Sigint 95A  S47237 35800?x 35800?x  0
Dec 13 1730   SXM-7                             Falcon 9           Canaveral SLC40 Comms   96A  S47240   234 x 19380 x 27.0
Dec 14 0550   GVM                               Angara A5          Plesetsk LC35/1 Tech    97A  S47242 36923 x 37594 x  0.1
Dec 15 1009   Strix-Alpha                       Electron           Mahia LC1A      Radar   98A  S47253   489 x   511 x 97.4
Dec 15 2055   Astra Test Payload                Astra Rocket 3.2   Kodiak LP3B     Test    F09  F01577 -1100 x   380 x 98.1
Dec 17 1011   CMS-01                            PSLV-XL          Satish Dhawan SLP Comms   99A  S47256   273 x 20882 x 17.8
Dec 18 1227   OneWeb SL102      )               Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat  Vostochniy      Comms  100A  S47258   428 x   442 x 87.5
              OneWeb SL109-SL111)                                                          to
              OneWeb SL114      )                                                         100AM S47293   442 x   454 x 87.5
              OneWeb SL117-SL147)
Dec 19 1400   USA 312 )                         Falcon  9          Kennedy LC39A   ?      101A  S47294   519 x   540 x 51.4
              USA 313 )                                                            ?      101B  S47295   ?   x    ?  x 51.4
Dec 21 0438   XJY 7        )                    Chang Zheng 8      Wenchang LC201  Radar  102C? S47298   503 x   515 x 97.4
              Haisi-1      )                                                       Radar  102            503 x   515 x 97.4
              Tianqi-08    )                                                       Comms  102            503 x   515 x 97.4
              Yuanguang    )                                                       Tech   102            503 x   515 x 97.4
              ET-SMART-RSS )                                                     Imaging  102            503 x   515 x 97.4
Dec 27 1544   Yaogan 33                         Chang Zheng 4C     Jiuquan LC43/94 Radar? 103A  S47302   682 x   686 x 98.3
Dec 29 1642   CSO 2                             Soyuz ST-A         CSG ELS        Imaging 104A  S47305   480? x  480?x 97.3
Jan  8 0215   Turksat 5A                        Falcon 9           Canaveral LC40 Comms    01A  S47306   288 x 55049 x 17.7
Jan 17 1938   CACTUS 1    )                                                        Tech    02            492 x 518 x 60.7
              CAPE 3      )                     LauncherOne  Cosmic Girl, Pacific  Tech    02
              ExoCube 2   )                                                        Tech    02
              MiTEE 1     )                                                        Tech    02
              PolarCube   )                                                        Tech    02
              Q-PACE      )                                                        Tech    02
              TechEdSat-7 )                                                        Tech    02
              RadFxSat-2  )                                                        Tech    02
              PICS 1      )                                                        Tech    02
              PICS 2      )                                                        Tech    02
Jan 19 1625   Tiantong-1 03                     Chang Zheng 3B     Xichang         Comms   03A  S47321   182 x 35815 x 28.5
Jan 20 0726   GMS-T                             Electron           Mahia LC1       Comms   04A  S47346  1140 x 1281 x 89.9
Jan 20 1302   Starlink 1952     )               Falcon 9           Kennedy LC39A   Comms   05            256 x 284 x 53.0
              Starlink 2011     )
              Starlink 2017     )
              Starlink 2034     )
              Starlink 2045-2047)
              Starlink 2049-2050)
              Starlink 2055     )
              Starlink 2069-2071)
              Starlink 2076-2077)
              Starlink 2079-2082)
              Starlink 2084-2086)
              Starlink 2088-2089)
              Starlink 2092-2094)
              Starlink 2096-2106)
              Starlink 2108-2115)
              Starlink 2117-2124)
              Starlink 2127-2128)
              Starlink 2130     )
              Starlink 2133-2135)

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

The US DoD reports a Russian direct-ascent antisatellite (ASAT) test on Dec 16. I understand
the missile was not tested against a target satellite; at most just a `point in space' target.
NOTAMs suggest launch was between 0100 and 0600 UTC. Unclear what the apogee was, but possibly
a few hundred km.

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

Dec  9        RV                Yars               Plesetsk              Op. Test     1000?      Kura
Dec  9        RV x 4?           Sineva            K-18, Barents Sea      Op. Test     1000?      Kura?
Dec 12        RV x 4            Bulava            K-551, Sea of Okhotsk  Op. Test     1000?      Chiza
Dec 12        RV x 4            Bulava            K-551, Sea of Okhotsk  Op. Test     1000?      Chiza
Dec 12        RV x 4            Bulava            K-551, Sea of Okhotsk  Op. Test     1000?      Chiza
Dec 12        RV x 4            Bulava            K-551, Sea of Okhotsk  Op. Test     1000?      Chiza
Dec 16        Nudol KV?         Nudol'             Plesetsk              ASAT test     300?      Laptev Sea
Jan 14 1717   RSS First Step    New Shepard        West Texas            Test          106       West Texas
Jan 16        Sejjil RV         Sejjil             ?, Iran               Op. Test      800?      Indian Ocean
Jan 16        Sejjil RV         Sejjil             ?, Iran               Op. Test      800?      Indian Ocean
Jan 16        Sejjil RV         Sejjil             ?, Iran               Op. Test      800?      Indian Ocean
Jan 16        Emad RV           Emad               ?, Iran               Op. Test      400?      Indian Ocean
Jan 16        Emad RV           Emad               ?, Iran               Op. Test      400?      Indian Ocean
Jan 16        Ghadr RV          Ghadr              ?, Iran               Op. Test      400?      Indian Ocean

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