From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Saturday, September 24, 2005
The Progress M-54 cargo spacecraft (factory number 354) was launched by Soyuz-U from Baykonur on Sep 8 and docked with Zvezda at 1442 UTC on Sep 10. Progress M-53 undocked from the Zvezda module at 1026 UTC on Sep 7 into a 350 x 351 km orbit; it fired its deorbit engine at 1326 UTC to lower perigee to 56 km, leading to reentry over the Pacific half an orbit later.
The next Shuttle flight is delayed indefinitely - engineers don't yet understand the aerodynamic data from the last flight. Damage to the External Tank manufacturing facility in New Orleans was less that feared, and ET work will continue there.
As expected, Kosmos-2415 entered its operational mapping orbit of 205 x 284 km x 64.9 deg on Sep 3.
International Launch Services orbited a Proton-M/Briz on Sep 8 carrying the Anik F1R communications satellite.
Telesat Canada inaugurated Canada's domestic satellite communications service with the launch of Anik A1 in 1972. The first two 5-tonne Anik F satellites were launched in 2000 and 2004 using Boeing 702 satellites; Anik F1 has been experiencing solar panel power problems. Anik F1R is an Astrium Eurostar 3000S operating in C-band and Ku-band.
The Proton-M flew a suborbital trajectory; the Briz made one burn to low parking orbit and four more burns to a 3171 x 35608 km x 10 deg deployment orbit. Anik F1R then separated to being using its own engine to reach geostationary orbit.
Hayabusa is completing its rendezvous with asteroid Itokawa. On Sep 12 it began hovering at the 20 km "gate position". It will descend to 7 km in October.
DARPA's Streak classified research satellite, also called STP-R1 under the USAF's Space Test Program, was launched by Minotaur from Vandenberg on Sep 23. The satellite carries experimental sensors to study the orbital environment and is in a sun-synchronous orbit.
The NRO has declassified the existence of the Naval Research Lab's POPPY signals intelligence satellites. POPPY were probably small spherical (later, ellipsodal?) satellites, derived from the Vanguard spheres used for the predecessor program GRAB/DYNO. NRO says it will release pictures, but that hasn't happened yet: I predict POPPY will look like the GGSE satellites as seen here:
They were launched in clusters together with other small NRL satellites on Thor Agena D rockets. POPPY flew from 1962 to 1971, followed by the still-classified PARCAE program which began in 1976 and used triplets of satellites for radio interferometric measurements of signal locations. The GRAB satellites were 0.51m in diameter like Vanguard; POPPY may have been the same size initially and then increased to 0.61m in diameter. In fact, the early POPPY satellites may have been leftover GRAB vehicles, with the code name change simply due to the transfer of the GRAB mission from NRL to NRO in mid-1962. The RAE Tables indicate the shift to 0.61m diameter happened with the first POPPY launch, but I'm not sure RAE is a reliable source in this particular context.
Despite the declassification of POPPY, it's still not clear which satellites were POPPY satellites. Here I put down my own guesses, but mainly I point out that things are confused. Comments welcome.
The POPPY fact sheet says that "A total of seven POPPY satellites launched into space from 1962 to 1971", and gives the seven launch dates. This implies that only one POPPY satellite went up on each of the seven launches.
For the time being I am assuming that this is false and that it should read "There were a total of seven launches in the POPPY program from 1962 to 1971". The followon program starting in 1976 involved multiple satellites, and the final POPPY launch in 1971 consisted of four apparently identical satellites.
The alternate possibility is that one of the four 1971-110 payloads was a POPPY and the other three were something different. That's not impossible, but I'd be surprised.
On the assumption, then, that each launch might have multiple POPPY satellites, let's try and identify them. For each launch I list at the bottom of this all objects noted in the US Space Command SATCAT as payloads, and their SATCAT names. I also list the satellites listed for that launch date in a summary of NRL-launched spacecraft from the Naval Center for Space Technology; there's no mapping given between those names and the international designations (e.g. NRL 130 is one of the 1963-021 objects but we don't know which one). There are also blatant inconsistencies between the two sources - for instance, on 1963-021 "Dosimeter" and "PL 112" are separate satellites in the NCST list, in contrast to 1963-021D "RADOSE 112" which suggests the two are the same radiation dosimeter satellite.
Nevertheless, we can make some guesses. Look at the NCST listings, and accept my guess that the last POPPY launch is the quartet of payloads 171-174, listed by NCST as gravity gradient experiments with masses of 123 to 128 kg. Then notice that the 1969-082 launch has similar payloads 161-164 with masses of 100-103 kg; and that 1967-053 has payloads 151 and 153 listed interspersed with GGSE 4 and 5:
PL 151 Grav Grad expt. 52 kg POPPY 5A? 1967-53G? GGSE IV Grav Grad expt. 85 kg PL 153 Grav Grad expt. 77 kg POPPY 5B? 1967-53H? GGSE V Grav Grad expt. 105 kg
I'm guessing the GGSEs here are PL152 and PL154, completing the quartet. Published papers show they had different boom configurations. Now I'm guessing that the GGSE (Gravity Gradient Stabilization Experiment) series was linked to POPPY; that POPPY flights were gravity-stabilized and GGSE was used to improve them. GGSE satellites may be modified POPPY satellites with no ELINT payload, or may be fully functional POPPY with the GGSE test as an add-on experiment.
So working further back, in the previous launch (launch 4) there's no quartet, but we can look at a number of candidates: the classified statellites, the GGSE satellites, and the Solrad satellites.
Solrad satellites are possibilities because they were used in the GRAB (GREB) program, but I note that in the SATCAT the GREB name is given to PL 135 and PL142, not to SR VIIA and SR VIIB, so probably there was no room in a 24-inch sphere for both the POPPY and SR payloads and the programs were separated at the beginning of the POPPY program. What can we make of the SATCAT calling PL142 "GREB 6"? Maybe the Launch 1 and Launch 2 POPPY flights were initially called GRAB (or GREB) 5A and 5B, following on from the last known SR IVB flight of GRAB.
Launch 1: PL 120 Classified POPPY 1A? 25 kg 62 B TAU 1? PL 121 Classified POPPY 1B? 25 kg 62 B TAU 5? Launch 2: SR VI Solar X-rays PL 112 Classified POPPY 2? 27 kg 1963-21E? Launch 3: SR VIIA Solar X-rays GGSE 1 Grav grad exp. PL 135 Classified POPPY 3? 39 kg 1964-01E Launch 4: SR VIIB Solar X-rays PL 142 Classified POPPY 4? 48 kg 1965-16A GGSE II Grav. grad exp. GGSE III Grav. grad exp.
I'll advance the following hypotheses:
- Hypothesis 1. All the above satellites were POPPY or, in the case of GGSE, POPPY-related.
- Hypothesis 2: The POPPY satellites were SR VI, SR VIIA, SR VIIB, continuing the GRAB/SOLRAD cover story. The Dec 1962 launch was one or both of PL120 and PL121, with the other one perhaps being a thermal control experiment ("BLACK SPHERE" in the SATCAT; the "SURCAL 1" in the SATCAT is assumed to be an error, since SURCAL 1 was lost in a Jan 1962 launch failure). It's also possible that "BLACK SPHERE" and "CALSPHERE 1A" are really the same satellite. Both PL120 and PL121 had a mass of 55 kg, the same as GRAB.
- Hypothesis 3: After the GRAB program ended, the SOLRAD series became fully scientific because POPPY needed a whole satellite to itself and couldn't share. The GGSE satellites weren't related to POPPY. The POPPY satellites were PL120 and PL121; PL112; PL135; and PL142. I still think that PL 151/153, PL 161-164, PL171-174 were POPPY group flights. The role of PL176 (1962-082B) is still a mystery; it was a smaller (23 kg) NRL satellite that operated for 2 years.
- Hypothesis 4: the POPPY satellites aren't any of the ones listed here, but were packages which remained attached to the Agena rocket stages. This would let you have a single POPPY on the 1971-110 launch separate from the confusion of the four identical payloads; but I find it unlikely.
Right now, my best guess is Hypothesis 3.
APPENDIX: NRL SATELLITES ON POPPY LAUNCHES
========================== POPPY LAUNCH 1: 1962 BETA TAU ========================== SATCAT B TAU 1: BLACK SPHERE B TAU 3: SURCAL 1 B TAU 4: SURCAL 1A B TAU 5: CALSPHERE 1A NCST: PL 120 Classified PL 121 Classified SURCAL II SPASUR Calib CALSPHERE I Object identification ========================== POPPY LAUNCH 2: 1963-021 ========================== SATCAT: 63-021B LOFTI 2A 63-021C SOLRAD 6 63-021D RADOSE 112 63-021E FTV 1292 63-021F SURCAL 1B NCST: SR VI Solar X-rays LOFTI IIB Low freq radio PL 112 Classified Dosimeter Radiation counter SURCAL III SPASUR calib ========================== POPPY LAUNCH 3: 1964-001 ========================== SATCAT: 64-001B GGSE 1 (GGRS) 64-001D SOLRAD 7A 64-001E GREB NCST: SR VIIA Solar X-rays GGSE 1 Grav grad exp. PL 135 Classified ========================== POPPY LAUNCH 4: 1965-016 ========================== 65-016A OPS 4988 (GREB 6) 65-016B GGSE 2 65-016C GGSE 3 65-016D SOLRAD 7B 65-016G SURCAL 2 65-016H PORCUPINE 1 NCST: SR VIIB Solar X-rays PL 142 Classified GGSE II Grav. grad exp. GGSE III Grav. grad exp. SURCAL IV SPASUR calib. DODECAPOLE I Object identification ========================== POPPY LAUNCH 5: 1967-053 ========================== SATCAT: 67-053A OPS 5712 (P/L 160) 67-053C GGSE 4 67-053D GGSE 5 67-053E TIMATION 1 67-053F SURCAL 159 67-053G OPS 5712 (P/L 152) 67-053H OPS 5712 (P/L 153) 67-053J SURCAL 150B NCST: PL 151 Grav Grad expt. GGSE IV Grav Grad expt. PL 153 Grav Grad expt. GGSE V Grav Grad expt. TIMATION I Navigation CALSPHERE III Object identification CALSPHERE IV Object identification ========================== POPPY LAUNCH 6: 1969-082 ========================== SATCAT (69-082A OPS 1807 USAF/NRO Program A aft rack payload?) 69-082B OPS 7613 (P/L 1) 69-082C TIMATION 2 69-082D OPS 7613 (P/L 3) 69-082E OPS 7613 (P/L 4) 69-082F OPS 7613 (P/L 5) 69-082G OPS 7613 (P/L 6) 69-082H TEMPSAT 69-082J SOICAL (CYLINDER) 69-082K SOICAL (CONE) NCST: PL 161 Grav grad expt. PL 162 Grav grad expt. PL 163 Grav grad expt. PL 164 Grav grad expt. TIMATION II Navigation PL 176 Classified TEMPSAT II Thermal design expt. ========================== POPPY LAUNCH 7: 1971-110 ========================== 71-110A OPS 7898 (P/L 1) 71-110C OPS 7898 (P/L 2) 71-110D OPS 7898 (P/L 3) 71-110E OPS 7898 (P/L 4) NCST: PL 171 Grav grad expt. PL 172 Grav grad expt. PL 173 Grav grad expt. PL 174 Grav grad expt.
Table of Recent Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL. DES. Jul 5 2240 SJ-7 CZ-2D Jiuquan Sci 24A Jul 10 0330 Suzaku M-V Uchinoura XR Astron. 25A Jul 26 1439 Discovery Shuttle Kennedy LC39B Spaceship 26A Aug 2 0730 FSW 21 CZ-2C Jiuquan Imaging 27A Aug 11 0820 Thaicom 4 Ariane 5GS Kourou Comms 28A Aug 12 1143 MRO Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Mars probe 29A Aug 13 2328 Galaxy 14 Soyuz-FG/Fregat Baykonur LC31 Comms 30A Aug 23 2110 Kirari (OICETS) ) Dnepr Baykonur LC109 Tech 31A Reimei (INDEX) ) Tech 31B Aug 26 1834 Monitor-E Rokot Plesetsk Imaging 32A Aug 29 0845 FSW 22 CZ-2D Jiuquan Imaging 33A Sep 2 0950 Kosmos-2415 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC31 Imaging 34A Sep 8 1308 Progress M-54 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 35A Sep 8 2153 Anik F1R Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 36A Sep 23 0224 STP-R1 Minotaur Vandenberg SLC8 Tech 37A
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