Jonathan's Space Report No. 579 2007 Apr 23

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Monday, April 23, 2007

ERRATUM: The upper stage for the Skynet/Insat Ariane 5ECA launch was of course an ESC-A, not the old EPS stage.


Soyuz TMA-10 was launched on Apr 7.

Progress M-58 undocked from the Zvezda module on Mar 27 at 1811 UTC and was deorbited at 2244 UTC. The Expedition 14 crew boarded Soyuz TMA-9 on Mar 29, undocking from Zarya at 2230 UTC and redocking with Zvezda at 2254, leaving the Zarya port free for the planned Soyuz TMA-10 launch. TMA-10 took off at 1731 UTC Apr 7 and reached orbit at 1740 UTC. The Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft is Soyuz TMA factory article 11732 No. 220 and is flying ISS mission 14S. Aboard Soyuz TMA-10 are Expedition 15 astronauts Fyodor Yurchikin of RKK Energiya (a Russian citizen born in Gruziya - 'Georgia') and Oleg Kotov (a Russian Air Force pilot), as well as EP-12 (Visting Mission 12) tourist crewmember Charles Simonyi. Simonyi (born in Hungary as Simonyi Karoly) is a former Microsoft executive and (for the coders among my readers) inventor of the Hungarian notational convention for naming variables in software. For the Soyuz flight, Kotov is commander and Yurchikin is flight engineer; as Station crewmembers their roles switch. The Expedition 15 and EP-12 crewmembers joined the Expedition 14 crew of Mike Lopez-Alegria, Mikhail Tyurin and Sunita Williams when Soyuz TMA-10 docked with the Zarya module at 1910 UTC on Apr 9. On Apr 21, Lopez-Alegria, Tyurin and Simonyi returned to Earth in the Soyuz TMA-9 ship, landing at 1231 UTC. The Expedition 15 crew now consists of Yurchikin, Kotov and Williams.

Falcon 1

The Falcon flight reached an orbit of around -4200 x 289 km x 9 deg. SpaceX reported that the test payload instrument ring was successfully deployed; the payload and the second stage fell in the Pacific.

Anik F3

A Proton-M rocket launched on Apr 9 placed a Briz-M upper stage (S/N 88519) in orbit with the Canadian Anik F3 communications satellite aboard. Anik F3 was delivered to geostationary transfer orbit of 5514 x 35771 km x 11.0 deg. The Briz-M stage is in a similar orbit; the Briz-M DTB tank is in a 316 x 17659 km x 49.5 deg orbit, and the Proton third stage reentered from a -932 x 163 km x 51.5 deg orbit. Anik F3 is an EADS Astrium Eurostar 3000 model satellite with C, Ku and Ka band payloads. On Apr 23 it was in a 35781 x 35791 km x 0.1 deg GEO at 119 deg W.


The Haiyang-1B oceanographic satellite was launched on Apr 11 from Taiyuan Space Center in China into a 783 x 813 km x 98.6 deg orbit. It carries a 10-band ocean color scanner, a 4-band CCD imager with 250-meter resolution, and an infrared water profile radiometer.

HY-1A was launched in 2002 as a secondary payload on a CZ-4B launch, while HY-1B was the primary payload on its lighter CZ-2C rocket.

Beidou 5

The 5th Beidou satellite was launched on Apr 13; it is the first to be targeted for a GPS-like 12-hour, 55 deg inclination, 21000 km altitude orbit. The 4th Beidou, launched in January, finally reached geostationary orbit in early April following deployment problems with its solar panels and reports of US detection of a debris cloud at the time of the original expected apogee firing.

(US reports talk about the new launch as part of the 'Compass' system; this appears to be a name used by China only in English language documents to refer to the system. Some reports talk about 'Compass M1'; since there is no alphabet in Chinese, it's unclear what the 'M' would represent in that language).


Kosmotras launched a Dnepr rocket (converted R-36M missile) on Apr 17. The rocket carried six small Saudi Arabian satellites, the Egyptsat (Misr) 1 payload, and three picosat deployers carrying six 1-kg Cubesats and the MAST tether satellite experiment. The satellites are in 650 x 660-792 km x 98.1 deg orbits:

12D  Plume shield   97.836 649 x 660 x 98.1  
12A  Egyptsat       97.970 657 x 665 x 98.1
12B  Saudisat 3     98.094 656 x 678 x 98.1
12J  SaudiComsat-3  98.465 653 x 717 x 98.1
12H  SaudiComsat-5  98.570 652 x 728 x 98.1
12C  SaudiComsat-7  98.677 651 x 739 x 98.1
12L  SaudiComsat-4? 98.777 650 x 750 x 98.1
12E  SaudiComsat-6  98.888 649 x 761 x 98.1
12F  Cubesat?       98.969 648 x 770 x 98.1
12K  Cubesat?       99.083 647 x 782 x 98.1
12N  Cubesat?       99.180 646 x 792 x 98.1
12P  Cubesat?       99.184 646 x 792 x 98.1
12M  Cubesat?       99.186 646 x 792 x 98.1
12Q  Cubesat?       No orbit data yet
12R  Cubesat?       No orbit data yet
12G  Dnepr stage   101.988 624 x1079 x 98.1

Egyptsat (MisrSat) is a 100-kg class imaging payload built by the Ukranian company Yuzhnoe for Egypt's National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences.

Saudisat-3 carries an imaging payload and a data collection relay payload; it has a mass around 200 kg (?) and is the largest satellite to date for the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Tech. (KACST) space research center in Riyadh. The flight also carried a group of five 12-kg SaudiComsat messaging payloads, SaudiComsat 3 to 7.

Three PPOD picosatellite launchers were used:

PPOD-A carried Aerocube 2 for the Aerospace Corp (El Segundo, Calif.); CSTB 1, the CubeSat TestBed for Boeing IDS/Advanced Systems (Huntington Beach, Calif.); and the Cal Poly CP4 cubesat, which is a backup for the CP2 lost in last year's Dnepr failure.

PPOD-B carried MAST 1, the Multi Application Survivable Tether experiment, for Tethers Unlimited Inc and Stanford U.. MAST 1 consists of the TED (Tether Deployer) satellite, with a 1 km deployable multi-strand Hoytether; RALPH, the small end mass satellite; and between them, GADGET, an Inspector satellite which can crawl up and down the tether. Before deployment the MAST vehicle is 0.3m x 0.1m, fitting inside a triple cubesat envelope.

PPOD-C carried the Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment (CAPE 1) for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Libertad 1 for Universidad Sergio Arboleda, Bogota, Colombia; and the Cal Poly CP3 cubesat.

Space surveillance catalog

I note that Space Command seems to still be leaving catalog number 29676 blank, even though the catalog numbers are now up to 31134.


The Italian gamma-ray observatory AGILE (Astrorivelatore Gamma ad Imagini Leggero, Light Gamma-Ray Imaging Astronomical Detector) was launched on Apr 23 aboard an Indian PSLV rocket into a 523 x 552 km x 2.5 deg orbit. AGILE carries the GRID 0.3-200 MeV wide-field gamma ray imager, which will try and scoop some of the science from NASA's much more powerful GLAST mission to be launched at the end of the year. It also carries the Super-AGILE 15-45 keV detector which will give the best look yet at the hard X-ray sky.

PSLV-C8 flew for the first time in a light configuration with no strap-on motors. It used a Dual Launch Adapter; the secondary payload was an Advanced Avionics Module for future use on Indian launch vehicles; the AAM presumably did not separate from the PS4 fourth stage.

Dorrit Hoffleit

I report with sadness the death of Dorrit Hoffleit at the age of 100. Dorrit was the author of the Yale Bright Star Catalog, first published in 1930 and reaching its fifth edition in the 1990s. In her almost 80-year-long active career in astronomy beginning here at Harvard in the 1920s and continuing at Yale since the 1950s she was a mentor to many young astronomers, notably including many of the senior women in the field; she was one of the last living links to Annie Cannon and her colleagues in the pioneering era of Harvard astrophysics.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
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       07B
              Insat 4B  )                                        Comms       07A
Mar 21 0110   DemoFlight 2      Falcon 1        Kwaj/Omelek      Test        F02
Apr  7 1731   Soyuz TMA-10      Soyuz-FG        Baykonur LC1     Spaceship   08A
Apr  9 2254   Anik F3           Proton-M/Briz   Baykonur         Comms       09A
Apr 11 0327   Haiyang 1B        Chang Zheng 2C  Taiyuan          Imaging     10A
Apr 12 2011   Beidou 5          Chang Zheng 3A  Xichang          Navigation  11A
Apr 17 0646   MAST          )   Dnepr           Baykonur         Tech        12
              Misr 1        )                                    Imaging     12A
              Saudisat 3    )                                    Imaging     12B
              SaudiComsat-3 )                                    Comms       12J
              SaudiComsat-4 )                                    Comms       12L?
              SaudiComsat-5 )                                    Comms       12H
              SaudiComsat-6 )                                    Comms       12E
              SaudiComsat-7 )                                    Comms       12C
              CAPE 1        )                                    Tech        12
              Aerocube 2    )                                    Tech        12
              CSTB 1        )                                    Tech        12
              CP 3          )                                    Tech        12
              CP 4          )                                    Tech        12
              Libertad      )                                    Tech        12
Apr 23 1000   AGILE             PSLV              Sriharikota    Astronomy   13A
|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
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