Jonathan's Space Report No. 581 2007 Jun 23

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2007

Shuttle and Station

Space Shuttle OV-104 Atlantis was launched at 2338 UTC on Jun 8 and reached preliminary 55 x 228 km x 51.6 deg orbit 8 minutes later. Mission STS-117 carries new solar panels for the International Space Station and is ISS flight 13A. Atlantis raised its orbit to 155 x 230 km at 0016 UTC on Jun 9 and docked with the Station on Jun 10 at 1936 UTC.

Atlantis cargo bay manifest:

 Location       Cargo                            Mass
 Bay 1-2        Orbiter Docking System           1800 kg?
                EMU 1-2                           240 kg?
 Bay 3P?        APC with SPDU                      20 kg?
 Bay 4-12?      Truss segment S3/S4             16183 kg
 Sill           OBSS 201                          450 kg?
 Sill           RMS 301                           390 kg
 Total                                          19083 kg

The S3/S4 truss was added to the end of the S1 (starboard) truss with contact at 1803 UTC on Jun 11. The first spacewalk began with depressurization of the Quest airlock at 2000 UTC on Jun 11. Jim Reilly in EMU 3010 and Danny Olivas in EMU 3004 opened the hatch at 2002 UTC and supervised deployment of the solar wing blanket boxes and thermal radiator. They closed the hatch at 0212 UTC on Jun 12 and repressurized at 0217 UTC. The S4 solar array wings 1A and 3A were deployed between 1546 and 1758 UTC. Meanwhile, the 2B solar array wing on P6 was retracted in stages between Jun 13 and Jun 16. Quest was depressurized for EVA-2 at 1825 UTC on Jun 13, with hatch open at 1827. Astronauts Patrick Forrester and Steve Swanson, in EMUs 3018 and 3006, released launch locks on S4. The third spacewalk on Jun 15 featured Reilly and Olivas again. The Quest was depressurized sometime around 1720 UTC, with hatch open at abut 1724 UTC. Olivas repaired a loose thermal blanket on Atlantis' port OMS pod, while Reilly installed a hydrogen vent on the Destiny module. Then, the astronauts helped with the completion of retraction on the P6 SAW-2B solar array. The hatch was closed at 0118 UTC and the airlock was repressurized at 0122 UTC.

A fourth spacewalk, by Forrester and Swanson, took place on Jun 17. The astronauts depressurized the airlock aroud 1622 UTC, with hatch open at 1624 UTC; after more operations with S3/S4 and activation of a vent valve on Destiny, they closed the hatch at 2251 UTC and repressurized the airlock at 2254 UTC.

A change in the electrical properties of the station with the attachment of S3/S4 resulted in a spacecraft charging event which triggered the failure of computers in the Russian segment of ISS. This caused some concern, but workarounds were found to allow the Expedition 15 crew to continue their mission. Sunita Williams transferred to the Shuttle, returning home with the Atlantis crew, and was replaced by Clay Anderson who was launched on STS-117.

Atlantis undocked at 1442 UTC on Jun 19; deorbit was at 1843 UTC on Jun 22, lowering the Shuttle's orbit from 333 x 354 km to about 31 x 354 km and leading to a landing at 1949 UTC on runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base.

The Soyuz TMA-10 ferry ship is docked with the Zarya module; the Progress M-59 cargo ship is docked at Pirs and Progress M-60 is docked at Zvezda.


Following its launch on Apr 24 into a 252 x 459 km x 48.2 deg orbit, the US Missile Defense Agency's NFIRE spacecraft reached its operational altitude at 489 x 497 km on May 18.

Nigcomsat 1

The Chinese-built Nigcomsat 1 was inserted into a 218 x 41927 km x 25.3 deg transfer orbit. Between May 15 and 22 it made a series of burns to enter geosynchronous orbit and by May 23 was stationary at 42 deg E in a 35772 x 35802 km x 0.2 deg orbit.

Yaogan 2

China's launch surge continues with the orbiting of Yaogan 2, its second SAR (synthetic aperture radar) remote sensing satellite, on May 25. Yaogan 2 was launched by a CZ-2D from the northern launch site at Jiuquan, while Yaogan 1 had used as CZ-4B from the Taiyuan launch site. Some sources have claimed that the Yaogan series also has a military role under the codename Jianbing-5, based on unsourced reports at The satellite entered a 631 x 655 km x 97.8 deg orbit.

The launch also carried an experimental picosatellite from Zhejiang University. The 1 kg satellite is for microelectronics research. It is probably the MEMS-Pico satellite, previously announced as under development by Zhejiang University and Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology. MEMS-Pico is a solar-panel-covered rhombicuboctahedron containing a MEMS infrared sensor, an S-band transceiver and a CMOS camera.

Xinnuo 3

Yet another Chinese launch, on May 31, put the DFH-3 class Chinese C-band domestic communications satellite Xinnuo 3 (Sinosat 3) in a 194 x 41904 km x 25.1 deg transfer orbit. By Jun 15 the satellite was geostationary at 125E.

The CZ-3A vehicle used to orbit Xinnuo-3 was the 100th launch of a Chang Zheng (Long March) class rocket, including two CZ-1 launches (unrelated vehicle) but not counting 11 launches of the related Feng Bao vehicle and at least 9 launches of the suborbital DF-5 missile on which the CZ-2 and later series is based.


Four first-generation Globlalstar satellites were placed in orbit on May 29 to supplement the aging constellation of low orbit comm satellites. The Soyuz-FG rocket entered a 195 x 233 km x 51.9 deg parking orbit; the Fregat stage then made two burns for deployment of the four payloads in a 914 x 931 km x 52.0 deg orbit. Thanks to Claudia Duncan for the serial numbers of the payload. The Fregat stage made a depletion burn that was intended to remove it from orbit entirely; one object in the final orbit is cataloged by Space Command as 'Fregat debris'.


A Russian Defense Ministry satellite, probably a Kobalt-M imaging payload, was launched on Jun 7 into a 167 x 339 km x 67.1 deg orbit.


COSMO-1, the first COSMO-Skymed radar imaging satellite for Italy, was launched on Jun 8 into a 621 x 625 km x 97.9 deg orbit. COSMO-1 uses a Thales-Alenia Prima bus derived from Globalstar, and is own by the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian ministry of defense. It carries an X-band SAR. COSMO-1 was launched on a Boeing Delta 7420 by the United Launch Alliance (which doesn't seem to do online press kits yet, alas). COSMO stands for 'Constellation of Satellites for Mediterranean Basin Observation'. COSMO 1's mass has been variously reported as 1700 kg or 1900 kg.

'Ofeq 7

Israel launched a Shavit rocket on Jun 10 carrying the 'Ofeq-7 imaging spy satellite into orbit. While most launch vehicles fly eastward to pick up energy from the Earth's rotation, Israel launches to the west to avoid dropping stages on its neighbours, so 'Ofeq is in a 142 degree retrograde orbit, at a height of 340 x 575 km.

NRO payload

A secret National Reconnaissance Office mission was put in orbit by a Lockheed Martin Atlas V on Jun 15. Atlas mission AV-009 had a problem in the second burn of the Centaur upper stage, leaving the NRO USA-194 spacecraft in a somewhat low, probably elliptical orbit. It is believed that two spacecraft were to be deployed into 1150 km altitude, 63 deg inclination orbits. Based on optical observations, Ted Molczan reports a possible actual orbit of 776 x 1246 km; the payloads are expected to reach the original planned orbit using on-board propulsion. It's possible that the payloads remain attached to each other until reaching the target orbit. USA-194 is believed to be an NRO/US Navy intelligence mission to monitor and track ships using their radio emissions.


The EADS Astrium/DLR TerraSAR-X radar imaging satellite was launched from Baykonur on Jun 15 aboard a Dnepr rocket. The 1346 kg satellite carries an X-band imaging radar with 1 meter resolution; it is in a 499 x 512 km x 97.5 deg orbit, while the Dnepr final stage ended up in a higher 506 x 1024 km orbit.

Imaging radar satellites appear to have come of age; since the launch of NASA's Seasat in 1978, missions have been launched at the rate of one or two a year, but TerraSAR-X is the fifth in the past year, following Germany's SAR-Lupe-1, Japan's IGS R-2, China's Yaogan 2, and Italy's COSMO 1; SAR-Lupe-2 is due for launch soon.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
May  4 2229   Astra 1L     )    Ariane 5ECA      Kourou ELA3     Comms       16A
              Galaxy 17    )                                     Comms       16B
May 12 0325   Progress M-60     Soyuz-U          Baykonur        Cargo       17A
May 13 1601   Nigcomsat 1       Chang Zheng 3B   Xichang         Comms       18A
May 25 0712   Yaogan 2        ) Chang Zheng 2D   Jiuquan         Radar       19A
              MEMS-Pico       )                                  Tech        19
May 29 2031   Globalstar FM65 ) Soyuz-FG/Fregat  Baykonur        Comms       20A
              Globalstar FM69 )                                  Comms       20F
              Globalstar FM71 )                                  Comms       20C
              Globalstar FM72 )                                  Comms       20D
May 31 1608   Xinnuo 3          Chang Zheng 3A   Xichang         Comms       21A
Jun  7 1800   Kosmos-2427       Soyuz-U          Plesetsk        Imaging     22A
Jun  8 0234   COSMO-Skymed 1    Delta 7420       Vandenberg SLC2 Radar       23A   
Jun  8 2338   Atlantis (STS-117) Space Shuttle   Kennedy LC39A   Spaceship   24A
Jun 10 2340   'Ofeq 7           Shavit           Palmachim       Imaging     25A
Jun 15 0214   TerraSAR-X        Dnepr            Baykonur LC109  Radar       26A
Jun 15 1511   USA 194)          Atlas V 401      Canaveral SLC41 Sigint      27A
              NRO?   )                                           Sigint      27
|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter :   |
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