Jonathan's Space Report No. 578 2007 Mar 16

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The US Air Force STP-1 mission was launched on Mar 9 at 0310 UTC on Atlas V flight AV-013. It carries the Orbital Express mission with the two linked satellites ASTRO (Autonomous Space Transporter and Robotic Orbiter) and NextSat. The satellites will carry out refuelling experiments and undocking/docking experiments. Astro/Nextsat were deployed to a 490 x 498 km x 46.0 deg orbit. STP-1 also carried the first ESPA (EELV Secondary Payload Adapter) ring with four smaller satellites attached. The US Naval Academy's Midstar-1 carries experimental spacecraft systems and was ejected into a 494 x 498 km x 46.0 deg orbit. The Centaur stage then made two burns to raise the orbit, entering a 397 x 3435 km x 44 deg 'fast transfer' orbit 34 min after launch and then a 557 x 560 km x 35.4 deg orbit 13 min later. The remaining three satellites were then deployed.

STPSat, built by AeroAstro (hi, Rick...) carries experiments to study the Earth's atmosphere, ionosphere and radiation environment. The Los Alamos Lab CFESat, built by Surrey Satellite (hi, lads...) carries the Cibola Flight Experiment to survey the radio spectrum and study the ionosphere and lightning. Falconsat 3 is a USAF Academy student satellite with ionospheric experiments and plasma atttiude control thrusters. STPSat will also eject two small MEPSI picosatellites for the Aerospace Corp.

Finally the Centaur stage was disposed of in a 500 x 545 km x 35.7 deg orbit.

Operator     Satellite      Launch       End of life

UK MoD       Skynet 1A      1969 Nov 28  1980s?   IDCSP/A     Philco/Palo Alto
UK MoD       Skynet 1B      1970 Aug 19  Failed   IDCSP/A     Philco/Palo Alto
UK MoD       Skynet 2A      1974 Jan 19  Failed   Skynet II   Marconi/Stevenage?
UK MoD       Skynet 2B      1974 Nov 23  1990s?   Skynet II   Marconi/Stevenage?
UK MoD       Skynet 4B      1988 Dec 10  1998     ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
UK MoD       Skynet 4A      1990 Jan  1  2005     ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
UK MoD       Skynet 4C      1990 Aug 30  Active   ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
UK MoD       Skynet 4D      1998 Jan 10  Active   ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
UK MoD       Skynet 4E      1999 Feb 26  Active   ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
UK MoD       Skynet 4F      2001 Feb  7  Active   ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
Paradigm     Skynet 5A      2007 Mar 11  Active   E3000S      Astrium/Stevenage

NATO NICS    NATO IIA       1970 Mar 20  1984     IDCSP/A     Philco/Palo Alto
NATO NICS    NATO IIB       1971 Feb  3  1984?    IDCSP/A     Philco/Palo Alto
NATO NICS    NATO IIIA      1976 Apr 22  1992     NATO-III    Ford/Palo Alto
NATO NICS    NATO IIIB      1977 Jan 28  1993     NATO-III    Ford/Palo Alto
NATO NICS    NATO IIIC      1978 Nov 19  1992     NATO-III    Ford/Palo Alto
NATO NICS    NATO IIID      1984 Nov 13  2003     NATO-III    Ford/Palo Alto
NATO NICS    NATO IVA       1991 Jan  8  Active   ECS         Marconi/Stevenage
NATO NICS    NATO IVB       1993 Dec  8  Active   ECS         Marconi/Stevenage

France DGA   Syracuse 1     1984 Aug  4  1992     ECS         Matra/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 1A)
France DGA   Syracuse 1     1985 May  8  1988     ECS         Matra/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 1B)
France DGA   Syracuse 1     1988 Mar 11  1996     ECS         Matra/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 1B)
France DGA   Syracuse 2     1991 Dec 16  2005     ES2000      MMS/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 2A)
France DGA   Syracuse 2     1992 Apr 15  2004     ES2000      MMS/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 2B)
France DGA   Syracuse 2     1995 Dec  6  Active   ES2000      MMS/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 2C)
France DGA   Syracuse 2     1996 Aug  8  Active   ES2000      MMS/Toulouse
             (on Telecom 2D)
France DGA   Syracuse 3A    2005 Oct 13  Active   SB4000      Alcatel Alenia/Cannes
France DGA   Syracuse 3B    2006 Aug 11  Active   SB4000      Alcatel Alenia/Cannes
Spain FAE    Secomsat       1992 Sep 10  2003     ES2000      MMS/Toulouse
             (on Hispasat 1A)
Spain FAE    Secomsat       1993 Jul 22  2006     ES2000      MMS/Toulouse
             (on Hispasat 1B)
Hisdesat     XTAR-EUR       2005 Feb 12  Active   LS1300      Loral/Palo Alto
Hisdesat     Spainsat       2006 Mar 11  Active   LS1300      Loral/Palo Alto
Italy DNA    Sicral 1A      2000 Feb  7  Active   Italsat     Alenia/Torino 

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Jan 10 0416   Cartosat-2  )     PSLV            Sriharikota LP1  Imaging     01B
              SRE-1       )                                      Tech        01C
              LAPAN Tubsat)                                      Imaging     01A
              Pehuensat   )                                      Comms       01D
Jan 18 0212   Progress M-59     Soyuz-U         Baykonur LC1     Cargo       02A
Jan 30 2322   NSS 8             Zenit-3SL       SL Odyssey, POR  Comms       F01
Feb  2 1628   Beidou 2A         Chang Zheng 3A  Xichang          Navigation  03A
Feb 17 2301   THEMIS A  )       Delta 7925      Canaveral SLC17B Science     04A
              THEMIS B  )                                        Science     04B
              THEMIS C  )                                        Science     04C
              THEMIS D  )                                        Science     04D
              THEMIS E  )                                        Science     04E
Feb 24 0441   IGS Radar-2    )  H-2A 2024       Tanegashima YLP1 Radar       05A
              IGS Optical-3V )                                   Imaging     05B
Mar  9 0310   STPSat-1   )      Atlas V 401     Canaveral SLC41  Tech        06D
              Astro      )                                       Tech        06A
              NextSat    )                                       Tech        06C
              Midstar 1  )                                       Tech        06B
              Falconsat-3)                                       Tech/Sci    06E
              CFESat     )                                       Science     06F
              MEPSI Picosat)                                     Tech        06
              MEPSI Picosat)                                     Tech        06
Mar 11 2203   Skynet 5A )       Ariane 5ECA     Kourou ELA3      Comms       07A
              Insat 4B  )                                        Comms       07B

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Makoto Kamada and other sources report the following information from Japanese newspapers:

The Optical-3 Verification satellite is an experimental satellite on a six-month engineering mission to test out improvements to the earlier Japanese optical spy satellites, which performed less well than hoped. The true Optical-3 satellite will fly in 2009, followed by launch of Radar-3 and Optical-4 in around 2011. After an initial checkout phase by JAXA, the satellites are operated by the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center (CSICE, Naikaku Eisei Joho Center) of Tokyo via its main Kitaura Fuku Center ground station in Ibaraki prefecture.


Ariane vehicle L535, flight V175 was launched on Mar 11. The EPC first stage entered a -1251 x 157 km x 7.2 deg suborbital path; the EPS upper stage delivered the payloads to geostationary transfer orbit.

Payloads were Skynet 5A and Insat 4B.

Insat 4B is an ISRO communications satellite with C and Ku band channels, and a dry mass of 1335 kg. Insat 4B was in a 261 x 35749 km x 4.5 deg transfer orbit.

Skynet 5A is an EADS Astrium Eurostar 3000S communications satellite with a dry mass of 2170 kg. It is owned and operated by Paradigm Secure Communications to provide military comms for the UK Ministry of Defence and NATO. The first Skynet satellite was deployed in 1969 as an outgrowth of the US Initial Defense Satellite Communications System. By Mar 14 Skynet 5A was in a 32876 x 35734 km x 0.19 deg.

Europe now has an extensive history of military communications satellites, summarized below.

European GEO military communications

// end //

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