Jonathan's Space Report No. 561 2006 Feb 19

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2006


Expedition 12 astronauts McArthur and Tokarev made a spacewalk on Feb 3 from the Pirs airlock module using spacesuits Orlan-M No. 25 and No. 27 respectively. The airlock was depressurized at 2225 UTC; hatch open was at 2244 UTC. Surplus spacesuit Orlan-M No. 14, modified into the RadioSkaf satellite by addition of amateur radio equipment from AMSAT-NA, was jettisoned by hand at 2302 UTC. RadioSkaf was cataloged as 2005-35C, associating it with the Progress M-54 launch which brought the radio equipment to the station (Orlan-M 14 itself was launched aboard Pirs in 2001). As of Feb 18 the suit was still transmitting but much more weakly than expected. It has been give the amateur radio satellite designation AMSAT-OSCAR 54.

The astronauts relocated an attachment fixture from Zarya to the PMA3 docking adapter; failed to add a safing bolt to a cable on the Mobile Transporter, and tied down the cable instead. They retrieved the Biorisk experiment from the outside of the Pirs module and carried out a photo survey of the exterior of the Zvezda module. At 0359 UTC on Feb 3 they jettisoned a couple of cleaning towels, and at 0417 they went back inside Pirs with hatch closed at 0427 UTC and repressurization beginning at 0433 UTC.


Japan's Advanced Land Observing Satellite, ALOS (Riku iki kansoku gijutsu eisei) was launched on Jan 23 by an H2A from Tanegashima into a 697 x 697 km x 98 deg orbit and named "Daichi" (Land). Daichi carries an L-band synthetic aperture radar, an optical 2.5-meter resolution mapping camera, and a 10-meter resolution visible/near-infrared radiometer. JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) manages the satellite and was apparently also the effective prime contractor, with Mitsubishi, NEC and Toshiba as subcontractors.

The flight 8 H2A launch used a 2022 configuration with two SRB-A large strapons, 2 SSB Castor IVL smaller strapons, and a type 5S large fairing. The rocket launched southbound from Tanegashima and the second stage made a single burn to reach orbit. The H2A launch vehicle is operated and marketed by Rocket Systems Corp. (Kabushikigaisha Roketto Shisutemu) with actual launch activities carried out by JAXA (Ucyu Koukou Kenkyu Kaihatsu Kikou).

Daichi is in a 697 x 700 km x 98.2 deg orbit; the second stage made a depletion burn which lowered it to a 548 x 699 km orbit.


Another H2A mission followed on Feb 18, with MTSAT-2 reaching geostationary transfer orbit. MTSAT-2, a Multifunctional Transport Satellite (Unyu tamokuteki eisei shin), is jointly owned by JCAB (the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, koukuu kyoku) and JMA (Kisho-chou, the Japanese Meteorological Agency), both under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Kokudo koutsuushou). Its aeronautical payload provides communications relay between aircraft and air traffic control, GPS augmentation navigation for aircraft, and transmits the location of aircraft to air traffic control. The JAMI (Japan Advanced Meteorological Imager) weather camera has one visible and four infrared channels. MTSAT-2 was built by Mitsubishi using the new DS2000 bus, and has the same general layout as the Loral 1300 satellites used for MTSAT-1: a box-shaped bus with a solar panel array on one side and a long boom with a small conical solar sail on the opposite side. MTSAT-2 has a Japanese (IHI) 500N apogee thruster, and its launch mass is 4650 kg. Span is 30m, and bus size is probably around 4 x 4 x 6m. It is likely that MTSAT-2 will be renamed Himawari-7.

Although there are two launch pads at Tanegashima's Yoshinobu launch complex, I believe that both launches used the main (no. 1) pad - in fact, I don't think the second pad has ever been used for a launch. Can anyone confirm this?


As of January 2006, at least NNS (Navy Navigation Satellite) satellites O-23, O-25, O-31, O-32 are still operating and part of the NIMS (Navy Ionospheric Monitoring System) constellation. O-27 and O-29 may still also be alive (O-27 was alive in Jan 2000 but may have fallen silent in 2001). Thanks to Richard Lang for leads on this issue (see JSR 560).

New Horizons

New Horizons made its first pair of trajectory corrections, TCM-1A and 1B, on Jan 28 and 30; TCM-3 is scheduled for March. Pluto flyby will be at 1158 UTC on 2015 Jul 14.

Echostar 10

US television broadcaster Echostar saw the launch of its Echostar 10 satellite on Feb 15. Echostar 10 is a 4333 kg Lockheed Martin A2100AX satellite with a Ku-band comms payload. Launch was by Sea Launch Zenit-3SL from the floating Odyssey platform at the equator. At 2348 UTC the DM reached a 180 x 2105 km x 0 deg parking orbit. At 0022 UTC on Feb 16, the DM burned again and delivered Echostar 10 to geostationary transfer orbit. The DM separated from Echostar 10 at 0037 UTC.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Dec 21 1838   Progress M-55     Soyuz-U         Baykonur LC1/5   Cargo       47A
Dec 21 1934   Gonets-D1M   )    Kosmos-3M       Plesetsk LC132/1 Comms       48A
              Kosmos-2416  )                                     Comms       48B
Dec 21 2233   Insat 4A   )      Ariane 5GS      Kourou ELA3      Comms       49A
              MSG 2      )                                       Weather     49B
Dec 25 0507   Kosmos-2417 )     Proton-K/DM2    Baykonur LC81/23 Navigation  50A
              Kosmos-2418 )                                      Navigation  50B
              Kosmos-2419 )                                      Navigation  50C
Dec 28 0519   GIOVE A           Soyuz-FG/Fregat Baykonur LC31/6  Navigation  51A 
Dec 29 0228   AMC 23            Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200   Comms       52A
Jan 19 1900   New Horizons      Atlas V 551     Canaveral SLC41  Pluto probe 01A
Jan 24 0133   Daichi            H-2A            Tanegashima      Imaging     02A
Feb  3 2302   RadioSkaf         -               Pirs, LEO        Amateur com 05-35C
Feb 15 2335   Echostar 10       Zenit-3SL       Odyssey, POR     Comms       03A
Feb 18 0627   MTSAT-2           H-2A            Tanegashima      Com/Imaging 04A
|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
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