Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jonathan's Space Report No. 637 - 2011 Jan 26 Somerville, MA

Editorial note: the JSR website has just been moved to a new server. This should be transparent, but there may be transition problems; we will now discover if I have learnt to configure the mail server correctly.

Shuttle and Station

Expedition 26 is now underway with crew commander Scott Kelly, flight engineer-2 Aleksandr Kaleri, flight engineer-3 Oleg Skripochka, flight engineer-4 Dmitri Kondratev, flight engineer-5 Paolo Nespoli and flight engineer-6 Cady Coleman aboard the Station. Soyuz TMA-01M is docked at Poisk, Progress M-07M at Zvezda, and Soyuz TMA-20 at Rassvet.

On Jan 21 Kondratev (in spacesuit Orlan-MK No. 5) and Skripochka (in suit No. 4) made a spacewalk to install television equipment on Zvezda and Rassvet and to retrieve exposed experiments. They depressurized the Pirs airlock around 1409 UTC, and opened the hatch at 1429 UTC. At 1653 and 1654 UTC they jettisoned a cable reel and an antenna cover (cataloged as 1998-67CC and 1998-67CD). They returned to Pirs and closed the hatch at 1952 UTC, repressurizing shortly afterwards. (Thanks to Andrey Krasil'nikov for the IDs on the suits).

On Jan 22 the second H-II Transfer Vehicle, "Kounotori" 2 gouki ("White Stork" Unit 2) was launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center on the second H-IIB rocket. The 16000 kg spacecraft will link up with the station and deliver cargo. The H-IIB used Pad 2 of the Yoshinobu complex; Pad 1 is used for the H-IIA. Tanegashima also has two other launch sites, Osaki and Takesaki, now retired. Osaki had pads for the N and Q rockets, while Takesaki had launchers for small rockets.

Progress M-08M undocked from Pirs at 0042 UTC on Jan 24 and was deorbited over the Pacific at 0516 UTC.


The Nanosail-D2 experiment launched in November has belatedly ejected itself from FASTSAT. The ejection occurred at 0300 UTC Jan 18, according to the mission web site at Santa Clara University. The satellite has not yet been cataloged. The solar sail was deployed on Jan 21 at around 0400 UTC.


Russia's new Elektro-L weather satellite was launched on Jan 20 at 1229 UTC. The Zenit-3SLBF launch vehicle consists of a two-stage Zenit-2SB80 booster and the Fregat-SB upper stage, with an additional SBB (Sbrasivaemiye baki banov, separable propellant tanks) section compared to the original Fregat. The Zenit-2SB80 second stage reached a 179 x 620 km x 51.4 deg orbit; the Fregat upper stage separated as the second stage fired retrockets and jettisoned four separation motor covers into 90 x 850 km orbits. The first Fregat burn reached 298 x 4406 km x 50.4 deg, after which the SBB separated. At 1558 UTC the Fregat then made a burn to 356 x 35753 km x 48.5 deg geostationary transfer orbit. A third Fregat burn at 2119 UTC put the spacecraft in a 35627 x 35870 km x 0.46 deg geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean. Fregat then separated and was placed in a subsynchronous drift orbit of 34195 x 35718 km with a final burn.

Elektro-L is the first use of the Lavochkin company's new Navigator bus, also to be used for future science satellites. The spacecraft carries a scanning visible / infrared radiometer, solar environment monitors and a COSPAS-SARSAT search-and-rescue transponder system. Spacecraft mass at launch is around 1700 kg.

NRO satellite

A US National Reconnaissance Office satellite, codenamed USA 224, was launched from Vandenberg AFB on Jan 20 aboard a Delta 4 Heavy rocket. Launch NROL-49 carried the payload into a 252 x 1023 km x 97.9 deg polar orbit. Observations of its orbit are consistent with reports that it is an Improved CRYSTAL type (KH-11 derivative) imaging reconnaissance satellite; congratulations to Bob Christy for picking it up so quickly.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Dec 6 1025 Glonass-M ) Proton-M/DM-3 Baykonur Navigation F03
Glonass-M ) Navigation F03
Glonass-M ) Navigation F03
Dec 8 1543 Dragon C1) Falcon 9 Canaveral SLC40 Spaceship 66A
SMDC-One ) Comms? 66C
QbX-1 ) Secret 66F
QbX-2 ) Secret 66B
Perseus 000) Tech? 66H
Perseus 001) Tech? 66E
Perseus 002) Tech? 66G
Perseus 003) Tech? 66D
Caerus/Mayflower) Tech 66J
Dec 15 1909 Soyuz TMA-20 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1 Spaceship 67A
Dec 17 2020 Beidou DW7 Chang Zheng 3A Xichang Navigation 68A
Dec 25 1034 GSAT-5P GSLV Sriharikota SLP Comms F04
Dec 26 2151 KA-SAT Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 69A
Dec 29 2127 Hispasat 1E) Ariane 5ECA Kourou Comms 70A
Koreasat 6) Comms 70B
Jan 18 0300 Nanosail-D2 Fastsat, LEO Tech 62
Jan 20 1229 Elektro-L Zenit-3SLBF Baykonur LC45 Weather 01A
Jan 20 2110 USA 224 Delta 4H Vandenberg SLC6 Imaging 02A
Jan 22 0537 Kounotori 2 H-IIB Tanegashima Y2 Cargo 03A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Dec 4 0421 ECOMA 7 Nike Orion Andoya Meteor dust 135
Dec 5 1911 Topol' RV Topol' Kapustin Yar Test 1000?
Dec 6 1719 Maracati 2 Orion Alcantara Range Test 103
Dec 6 1730? NASA 41.087NT Terrier Orion White Sands Tech 120
Dec 12 0638 NASA 40.026UE Black Brant XII Andoya Aurora 500?
Dec 12 1535 MICROG 1A VSB-30 Alcantara Micrograv 242
Dec 13 0324 ECOMA 8 Nike Orion Andoya Meteor dust 138
Dec 15 1957? FTG-06A Target LV-2 Meck Island Target 1000?
Dec 15 2003 FTG-06A KV GBI Vandenberg LF23 Interceptor 1000?
Dec 19 0236 ECOMA 9 Nike Orion Andoya Meteor dust 135?
Jan 22 0610 Aegis Target Terrier Oriole Wallops I. Target 100?

| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
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