Shuttle and Station
The Progress M-61 cargo ship, which undocked on Dec 22, was deorbited over the Pacific on Jan 22 after a month of free flight carrying out the Plazma-Progress experiment.
On Jan 30, Whitson and Tani made a spacewalk to replace a motor on the starboard truss beta gimbal and carry out further inspections of the failed solar array alpha rotary joint.
The Progress M-63 cargo ship was launched on Feb 5 and docked with the Pirs module on Feb 7 at 1438 UTC. Progress M-62 undocked on Feb 4 at 1032 UTC and carried out Earth observations for 10 days before being deorbited on Feb 15 at 0944 UTC.
Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched at 1945 UTC on Feb 7 on mission STS-122, ISS flight 1E, with the Columbus module. It reached a 58 x 230 km orbit at 1954 UTC; the OMS-2 burn at 2023 UTC raised this to 215 x 233 km. Atlantis docked with the PMA-2 port on the Station at 1717 UTC on Feb 9.
The ESA Columbus Orbital Facility was unberthed from Atlantis at 1956 UTC on Feb 11 and bolted to the Harmony module at 2144 UTC. Astronauts Walheim and Love made a spacewalk on Feb 11 with depressurization of Quest at 1412 UTC and repressurization at 2212 UTC, assisting the installation of Columbus; they removed a grapple fixture from the payload bay at 1602 UTC and installed it on Columbus at 1659 UTC. On Feb 13 Walheim and Schlegel began a spacewalk with depress of Quest at 1421 UTC and repress at 2112 UTC; they swapped out a nitrogen tank assembly (NTA) on the P1 truss. On Feb 15 Walheim and Love installed the SOLAR and EUTEF experiments on the exterior of Columbus and stashed a failed CMG (Control Moment Gyro) in the payload bay of Atlantis; depress/repress was 1306 UTC to 2033 UTC.
Dan Tani will return to Earth on Atlantis; the new Expedition 16 crew is NASA's Peggy Whitson, Russia's Yuriy Malenchenko and ESA's Leo Eyharts.
STS-122 Cargo Manifest
Bay Mass (kg ) Orbiter Docking System 1-2 1800 with EMU 3015, 3017 240? SPDU on APC 3P 100? PDGF on ICAPC 5P 71 ICC-LITE with EUTEF, SOLAR, NTA 6 2063 ECSH (EVA Cargo Stowage) on APC 7P 100? Columbus Orbital Facility 8-12 12077 RMS and OBSS Sill 860? ------------------------------------------------ Total: 17311
Russia's Globus military communications satellite launched on Dec 9 was originally reported with the cover name Kosmos-2434, with the three Uragan-M satellites launched on Dec 25 getting cover names Kosmos-2435 to 2437.
According to information from Richard Langley, the Uragan satellites are now Kosmos-2434 to 2436 instead; we believe that the Globus satellite has been reassigned the cover name Raduga-1 (like the other satellites in that series). The satellites have not yet been registered with the UN so this information is tentative; I'll keep you all posted.
The NRO's experimental USA 193 surveillance satellite, which was reported to be crippled soon after its launch on a Delta II in Dec 2006 into a 351 x 365 km x 58 deg orbit, is approaching reentry. Orbital data from independent observers show that the satellite's trajectory has slowly decayed since launch due to friction with the atmosphere; by Jan 22 it was in a 275 x 279 km x 58 deg orbit dropping about 1 km a day, and the decrease in height will soon accelerate catastrophically. The satellite is thought to have been intended to test prototype instruments for future spy satellites, possibly including a radar sensor; it was reportedly developed by Lockheed Martin (LM-Sunnyvale has experience in recon satellites, but LM-Denver is involved in the Space Radar area; both groups could be involved).
Reports of 'dangerous material' on board the satellite refer to hydrazine orbit adjust propellant; mass of the spacecraft is probably around 2000 to 4000 kg. It's fairly rare for satellite payloads of this mass to have an uncontrolled reentry - only one or two a year - but empty rocket stages as heavy as this come down about once every three weeks. (Some reports claim this reentry is the 'second largest' uncontrolled reentry, after Skylab. This, of course, is complete nonsense.) The spacecraft carries about 1000 kg of hydrazine, which has frozen; about 500 kg is expected to survive reentry as a slushy lump giving off toxic fumes. The US government has announced plans to launch Aegis SM-3 ballistic missile interceptors to destroy the satellite, in the first US antisatellite test since 1986. The US Department of Defense states that the danger of the falling hydrazine is the motivation for this test. However, some observers suggest that the danger is not large enough to justify such extreme measures.
Israel's TecSAR (Polaris) experimental radar reconnaissance satellite was launched at 0345 UTC on Jan 21 by an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, flight PSLV-C10, from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island. At 19 min 45 s after launch the satellite was deployed into a 469 x 585 km x 41.0 deg orbit; the PS4 final rocket stage is in a 403 x 581 km x 41.0 deg orbit. The 300 kg satellite carries an X-band dish antenna for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging.
PSLV-C10 was the variant of PSLV with no strapon boosters used for light weight payloads.
The Ekspress AM-33 communications satellite for the Russian domestic satellite company Kosmicheskaya Svyaz was launched on a Krunichev Proton-M/Briz-M on Jan 28. AM-33 is built by NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki, with a communications payload developed by Thales Alenia. It has a mass of 2540 kg. The spacecraft entered a 405 x 35550 km x 46.2 deg transfer orbit before being placed in geosynchronous orbit; an object tracked in that orbit is probably the Briz DTB propellant tank.
Telenor's Ku-band Thor 5 satellite was launched on Feb 11 by a Proton-M/Briz-M from Baykonur. The satellite is an Orbital Star-2 light geostationary spacecraft. Telenor Satellite Broadcasting is a Norwegian satellite company.
The RASCOM-QAF-1 satellite has now reached geostationary orbit at 2.8 deg E, after a month-long delay due to propulsion system difficulties.
On Feb 4 the Islamic Republic of Iran held a ceremony to inaugurate a space launch center as part of a program to develop a satellite launch vehicle, and launched a suborbital rocket. The Iranian news agency IRNA says in its English language version:
"The president said the launch of the first space research unit would be great stride to serve the mankind and would lead to Iran's exaltation and progress. He inaugurated Iran's first space terminal this morning."
I interpret "space terminal" as meaning "launch site", and "space research unit" as meaning "research rocket". But any Persian-speaking readers who have read the reports in their original language are encouraged to send clarifications.
According to most of the reports, the rocket is called Kavoshgar-1 ('Explorer' or 'Researcher'); an Israeli news report calls the rocket Safir-1 ('Emissary'), and a photograph of a (possibly the) rocket has the Safir name written on the side, together with "IRILV", which presumably stands for "Islamic Republic of Iran Launch Vehicle". It may be that the photo is a mockup of the satellite launch version, and Kavoshgar is the rocket or mission name for the suborbital version.
Table of Recent (orbital) Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL. DES. Dec 9 0015 Raduga-1? Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC81/24 Comms 58A Dec 9 0231 Cosmo 2 Delta 7420-10 Vandenberg SLC2W Radar 59A Dec 10 2205 USA 198 (NROL-24) Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Comms? 60A Dec 14 1317 Radarsat-2 Soyuz-FG/Fregat Baykonur LC31 Radar 61A Dec 20 2004 GPS 57 (USA 199) Delta 7925 Canaveral SLC17A Nav 62A Dec 21 2141 Rascom-QAF-1 ) Ariane 5GS Kourou ELA3 Comms 63A Horizons 2 ) Comms 63D Dec 23 0712 Progress M-62 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 64B Dec 25 1932 Kosmos-2434?) Proton-M/DM-2 Baykonur LC81/24 Nav 65A Kosmos-2435?) Nav 65B Kosmos-2436?) Nav 65C Jan 15 1149 Thuraya 3 Zenit-3SL Odyssey, Pacific Comms 01A Jan 21 0345 Polaris (TecSAR) PSLV Sriharikota FLP Radar 02A Jan 28 0018 Ekspress AM-33 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 03A Feb 5 1303 Progress M-63 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 04A Feb 7 1945 Atlantis (STS-122) Space Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 05A Columbus ) Module - Feb 11 1134 Thor 5 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur Comms 06A
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