Jonathan's Space Report No. 446 10 Feb 2001

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Saturday, February 10, 2001

Shuttle and Stations

Progress M1-4 undocked from Zarya's nadir port at 1126 UTC on Feb 8. According to Chris van den Berg, it was deorbited over the Pacific and reentered at 1350 UTC the same day.

Atlantis rolled out to the pad on Jan 26 after further wiring checks. Launch occurred on Feb 7 at 2313:02 UTC. The solid rocket boosters separated at 2315 UTC and the main engines cut off at 2321 UTC, followed 10 seconds later by separation of the external tank. The Orbiter and the ET were then in a 74 x 323 km x 51.6 deg orbit; the spacecraft was easily visible from Harvard as it passed above the Boston skyline. At 2357 UTC the OMS engines fired for the OMS-2 burn which raised Atlantis' orbit to 204 x 322 km x 51.6 deg while the ET fell back for impact in the Pacific. Atlantis docked with Station at 1651 UTC on Feb 9. Docking was at the PMA-3 port on Unity's nadir.

Crew of STS-98 are Ken Cockrell (commander), Mark Polansky (pilot), Robert Curbeam, Marsha Ivins and Thomas Jones (mission specialists). Polansky was a support crewmember on the Chandra/STS-93 mission and those of us on the Chandra team congratulate him on his first spaceflight.

Meanwhile, Discovery is now in the VAB and has been connected to the external tank in preparation for mission STS-102.

On Feb 8, Mir was in a 275 x 296 km x 51.6 deg orbit. Perigee has been decreasing at about 1 km/day.

Current Launches

GPS spacecraft SVN 54 (GPS Block IIR production no. SV 14) was launched on Jan 30 by a Boeing Delta 7925. This is the 7th IIR to be launched. The GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites provide navigation signals using on-board atomic clocks; following Block I, II and IIA constellations, launches of Block IIR replenishment satellites began in Jan 1997.

Launch was at 0755 UTC; the Delta stage two, powerered by an Aerojet AJ10-118K liquid N2O4/AZ-50 engine, entered a 175 x 390 km x 36.9 deg parking orbit at 0806 UTC. It restarted at 0815 UTC to raise the orbit to 189 x 1265 km x 37.2 deg (prelaunch estimate) and released the third stage; most of the second stage depletion burn went into a plane change, after which the second stage was in a 169 x 1277 km x 32.6 deg orbit. The Thiokol Star 48B solid motor propelled the payload into a 160 x 20397 km x 39.1 deg transfer orbit and separated at 0820 UTC. On its 10th transfer orbit apogee, GPS SVN 54 fired its onboard Thiokol Star 37FM solid apogee motor and entered a 20104 x 20266 km x 55.0 deg orbit. The orbit will be refined to an 11hr 58min period (half of the geostationary period). The satellite will transmit navigation signals as PRN 18 and will be placed in slot E4 of the GPS system. SVN 54 was built by Lockheed Martin/Sunnyvale. The GPS program is managed by USAF SMC at Los Angeles AFB, and the satellites are operated by 2 SOPS (the 2nd Space Operations Squadron of USAF Space Command) at Schriever AFB, Colorado.

Arianespace launched an Ariane 44L from Kourou just minutes before the launch of STS-98 from Kennedy Space Center - it's very unusual for CSG and KSC/CCAFS launches to be so close together because they often share downrange tracking, although the high inclination Shuttle launch didn't clash. The Ariane carried Skynet 4F, a communications satellite for the UK Ministry of Defense, and Sicral, (Sistema Italiana de Communicazione Riservente Allarmi) a communications satellite for the Italian defense ministry's procurement division, the Segretariato Generale della Difesa's Direzione Nazionale degli Armamenti. Sicral is built by Alenia Aerospazio and derived from the Italsat series. Its mass is 2596 kg full, 1253 kg dry and it carries a liquid apogee engine, possibly an Astrium S400 although I haven't confirmed this yet. Skynet 4F is the last of the venerable ECS (European Communications Satellite) class of satellites and was built by Astrium/Stevenage. It carries a Thiokol Star 30 apogee motor and its mass is 1489 kg full, 830 kg dry - a dry mass more than twice the first OTS. The OTS/ECS satellites were the first European-developed operational communications satellites, after groundwork laid by two experimental French/German Symphonie satellites in the 1970s.

History of OTS/ECS satellites

   Name       Launch date  Operator   Dry mass  Apogee motor type

1  OTS 1      1977 Sep 13  ESA        390 kg    Aerojet SVM-7  (Launch failed)
2  OTS 2      1978 May 11  ESA        390       Aerojet SVM-7
3  Marecs 1   1981 Dec 20  ESA        400?      TE-M-700-5
4  Marecs B   1982 Sep  9  ESA        400?      TE-M-700-9     (Launch failed)
5  ECS 1      1983 Jun 16  Eutelsat   500       Mage 2
6  ECS 2      1984 Aug  4  Eutelsat   500       Mage 2
7  Telecom 1A 1984 Aug  4  France Tel 653       Mage 2
8  Marecs 2   1984 Nov 10  ESA        400?      Mage 2
9  Telecom 1B 1985 May  8  France Tel 701       Mage 2
10 ECS 3      1985 Sep 12  Eutelsat   500       Mage 2  (Launch failed)
11 ECS 4      1987 Sep 16  Eutelsat   700?      Mage 2
12 Telecom 1C 1988 Mar 11  France Tel 704       Mage 2
13 ECS 5      1988 Jul 21  Eutelsat   700       Mage 2
14 Skynet 4B  1988 Dec 11  UK MoD     655       TE-M-700-19
15 Skynet 4A  1990 Jan  1  UK MoD     655       TE-M-700-19
16 Skynet 4C  1990 Aug 30  UK MoD     655       TE-M-700-19
17 NATO 4A    1991 Jan  8  NATO       731       TE-M-700-19
18 NATO 4B    1993 Dec  8  NATO       731       TE-M-700-19
19 Skynet 4D  1998 Jan 10  UK MoD     760       TE-M-700-19
20 Skynet 4E  1999 Feb 26  UK MoD     760       TE-M-700-19
21 Skynet 4F  2001 Feb  7  UK MoD     830       TE-M-700-19
The Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, launched in 1992, was switched off on Feb 2. NASA decided to terminate funding for the mission, even though the spacecraft was still operating well. EUVE was launched on 1992 June 7 into a 514 km x 528 km x 28.4 deg orbit. It carried three sky survey scanner EUV telescopes and a deep survey telescope with a 1.4m focal length and a 2-degree field of view. The sky survey was completed in Jan 1993 and since then EUVE has been used by guest astronomers for observations of specific targets. Most EUV observations are of nearby stars and the interstellar medium, since hydrogen absorption makes the galaxy almost opaque at EUV (0.01-0.09 micron) wavelengths, but a few extragalactic objects do shine through. The EUVE project was led by Berkeley, and in 1997 the Center for EUV Astrophysics at Berkeley took over operational control of the satellite. It is now in a 424 x 433 km x 28.4 deg orbit and will probably reenter next year. The final observations were made on Jan 26. After end-of-life tests of the never-used backup high voltage supplies and checking the remaining battery capacity, EUVE was stabilized pointing away from the Sun and sent into safehold at 2359 UTC on Jan 31. The transmitters were commanded off on Feb 2.

History of NASA's Delta-class Explorers

                                          Launch    End of ops  Current orbit
 Int'l Sun-Earth Explorer 1    ISEE-1  1977 Oct 22  1987 Sep 26 Reentered 1987
 Int'l Ultraviolet Explorer    IUE     1978 Jan 26  1996 Sep 30 29474 x 42211 x 38
 Int'l Sun-Earth Explorer 3    ISEE-3  1978 Aug 12  1997 May  5 Solar orbit 
 Dynamics Explorer 1           DE-1    1981 Aug  3  1991 Feb 28   581 x 23192 x 88
 Dynamics Explorer 2           DE-2    1981 Aug  3  1983 Feb 19 Reentered 1983
 Solar Mesosphere Explorer     SME     1981 Oct  6  1986 Dec    Reentered 1991
 Charge Composition Explorer AMPTE-CCE 1984 Aug 16  1989 Jan     1102 x 49679 x  3
 Cosmic Background Explorer    COBE    1989 Nov 18  1997 May  1   873 x   887 x 99
 Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer  EUVE    1992 Jun  7  2001 Feb  2   424 x   433 x 28
 X-ray Timing Explorer         RXTE    1995 Dec 30  Operational   540 x   555 x 23
 Advanced Composition Explorer ACE     1997 Aug 25  Operational Earth-Sun L1
 Far UV Spectroscopic Explorer FUSE    1999 Jun 24  Operational   751 x   766 x 25

Note: I include FUSE since it was originally planned as a Delta Explorer, and although later descoped it does not fit in other Explorer subcategories. ISEE-1 was the first Delta-launched Explorer following the ending of the numbered Explorers.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.
Jan  9 1700   Shenzhou 2        Chang Zheng 2F Jiuquan          Spaceship  01A
Jan 10 2209   Turksat 2A        Ariane 44P     Kourou ELA2      Commsat    02A
Jan 24 0428   Progress M1-5     Soyuz-U        Baykonur LC1     Cargo      03A
Jan 30 0755   Navstar GPS 54    Delta 7925     Canaveral SLC17A Navsat     04A
Feb  7 2306   Sicral    )       Ariane 44L     Kourou ELA2      Commsat    05A
              Skynet 4F )                                       Commsat    05B
Feb  7 2313   Atlantis (STS-98))Space Shuttle  Kennedy LC39A    Spaceship  06A
              Destiny          )                                Module

Current Shuttle Processing Status

Orbiters               Location   Mission    Launch Due   
OV-102 Columbia        Palmdale      OMDP
OV-103 Discovery       VAB Bay 1     STS-102 2001 Mar  8  ISS 5A.1
OV-104 Atlantis        LEO           STS-98  2001 Feb  7  ISS 5A
OV-105 Endeavour       OPF Bay 2     STS-100 2001 Apr 19  ISS 6A
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