Jonathan's Space Report No. 566 2006 Jun 26

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The Progress M-55 cargo ship undocked from the Pirs module at 1406 UTC on Jun 19. It fired its engines at 1706 UTC to lower its orbit into the atmosphere, and reentered at 1741 UTC over the Pacific.

Progress M-56 remains docked at the Zvezda module, with Soyuz TMA-8 docked at Zarya.

Progress M-57 was launched from Baykonur on Jun 24. With the spacecraft factory number 7K-TGM No. 357, the Progress M-57 is flying Space Station mission 22P to deliver cargo to the ISS. (NASA sloppily refers to it as "Progress 22", but this isn't a designation the Russians use.) M-57 docked at the Pirs port freed up by M-55 at 1625 UTC on Jun 26.

On Jun 22, the Space Station was in a 335 x 349 km x 51.6 deg orbit.


A secret US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) mission was launched by a Boeing Delta 7925 on Jun 21. The Delta entered a 167 x 248 km x 28.4 deg parking orbit; the second stage's second burn raised this to 170 x 2213 km x 27.9 deg. The spinning PAM-D third stage, with its ATK Star 48 solid motor, fired to reach a (planned) 185 x 36221 km x 25.2 deg orbit. After a five-minute wait to allow residual exhaust to die down, the stage released two despin weights to take away angular momentum and then separated from the MITEX payload.

MITEX, the Microsatellite Technology Experiment project, consists of three spacecraft. Two of them are small 250-kg-class satellites, one built by Orbital Sciences (OSC) and the other by Lockheed Martin (LM). The third is an advanced liquid propellant upper stage developed by the Naval Research Lab (NRL). The NRL stage has a 400-N thruster and, unusually, solar panels, allowing the stage to operate for an extended time and deliver multiple payloads to different orbits. On this mission, the NRL stage will deliver the OSC and LM satellites to geostationary orbit, where they will carry out a number of maneuvers. Observers speculate that the small satellites are prototypes for inspector spacecraft which could rendezvous with and take closeup images of other geostationary satellites. The NRL stage may have some heritage from the TLD (Titan Launch Dispenser) stage used to deploy low-orbit Navy surveillance satellites in the 1990s. The USAF IABS (Integral Apogee Boost System) apogee stage used for DSCS satellites in the 1990s also had solar panels, but it's an unusual approach for geostationary satellite delivery - most geo satellites use internal propulsion systems rather than an external stage for orbit changes after the first few hours of flight.

The three satellites have been given the cover names USA 187, 188 and 189. It's not known which number applies to which payload, although I'm guessing that USA 189 is the NRL stage.


Kazakhstan's first satellite is in orbit. Kazakhstan purchased the KazSat satellite from the Russian space company Krunichev, which also launched it using its Proton-K rocket from the Russian-operated Baykonur launch site in Kazakhstan. At 2253 UTC on Jun 17 the Proton-K put KazSat in low orbit attached to an Energiya Blok-DM3 upper stage. The DM fired at 2358 UTC into geostationary transfer orbit, and then again at apogee (0509 UTC Jun 18) to deliver KazSat into geostationary orbit. According to the mass of KazSat is 1725 kg although some other sources quote a lower mass. KazSat was drifting in a 35384 x 35781 km x 0.0 deg orbit over 102E as of Jun 22.

Galaxy 16

Panamsat's Galaxy 16 communications satellite was launched by a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL on Jun 18. The Loral LS-1300 satellite has a launch mass of 4640 kg and carries C and Ku band transponders. By Jun 22 Galaxy 16's initial orbit of 2272 x 35647 km x 0.1 deg had been raised to 33579 x 35617 km x 0.2 deg, approaching the geostationary region.


Russia's new civilian imaging satelite has begun operations with its Geoton-1 camera payload. Resurs-DK's initial orbit was 193 x 339 km x 70.0 deg. On Jun 18 the orbit was raised to 355 x 585 km x 69.9 deg; this operational orbit has a much higher perigee than the military Yantar'-class satellites on which Resurs-DK is based.


A Russian Navy US-PU satellite for ocean electronic surveillance was launched from Baykonur on Jun 25 and codenamed Kosmos-2421. The Tsiklon-2 rocket put it in an approximately 100 x 400 km transfer orbit, and the US-PU onboard engine performed the insertion burn to a 405 x 415 km x 65.0 deg operational orbit.


NOAA renamed the GOES N weather satellite as GOES 13 on Jun 4. The satellite has now been transferred from Boeing to the GOES control center at NOAA-Suitland, where it will be tested by NASA for several months before NOAA takes over regular operations. (Traditionally, NOAA satellites are given a letter before launch and a number after they reach operational status. NASA used to use a similar scheme). On Jun 21, GOES 13 was in a 35780 x 35790 km x 0.5 deg orbit over 89.4W.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
May  3 1738   Kosmos-2420       Soyuz-U         Plesetsk LC16    Imaging     17A
May 24 2211   GOES 13           Delta 4M+(4,2)  Canaveral SLC37B Weather     18A
May 26 1850   Kompas-2          Shtil'          K-84, Barents    Science     19A
May 27 2109   Satmex 6  )       Ariane 5ECA     Kourou ELA3      Comms       20A
              Thaicom 5 )                                        Comms       20B
Jun 15 0800   Resurs-DK No. 1   Soyuz-U         Baykonur LC1     Imaging     21A
Jun 17 2244   KazSat            Proton-K/DM3    Baykonur LC200/39 Comms      22A
Jun 18 0750   Galaxy 16         Zenit-3SL       Odyssey, POR     Comms       23A
Jun 21 2215   USA 187 )         Delta 7925      Canaveral SLC17A Tech        24A
              USA 188 )                                          Tech        24B
              USA 189 )                                          Tech        24B
Jun 24 1508   Progress M-57     Soyuz-U         Baykonur LC1     Cargo       25A
Jun 25 0400   Kosmos-2421       Tsiklon-2       Baykonur LC90?   Sigint      26A
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