Jonathan's Space Report No. 597 2008 Jun 27, Somerville, MA

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2008


Shuttle and Station

The Japanese Kibo pressurized module is now attached to the Station. Discovery took off at 2101 UTC on May 31 on Shuttle mission STS-124, Station mission 1J, using external tank ET-128. A 76 m/s OMS-2 burn at 2140 UTC put the Shuttle in its targeted orbit. STS-124 delivered the Kibo Pressurized Module, the largest component of the Japanese station element, to ISS. Discovery docked at PMA-2 at 1803 UTC on Jun 2. Astronauts Fossum and Garan made three spacewalks from Quest using EMU 3015 and 3017; they supported the installation of Kibo PM, inspected the Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, and changed out a nitrogen tank. The Kibo module was installed on Harmony by 2301 UTC on Jun 4; the Japanese Logistics Module was transferred from Harmony to Kibo on Jun 6 between 1917 and 2004 UTC. The Shuttle undocked on Jun 11 at 1142 UTC and landed at 1515 UTC on Jun 14 on runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center.

The STS-124 payload bay contained:

  Name                             Bay location   Mass (kg,guess)

  Orbiter Docking System           1-2            1800
   with EMU 3015, 3017 suits                       260?
  APC/SPDU                         3 port          100?
  Kibo PM                          5-12          14800?
  APC/ECSH                         13 port         100?
  RMS 301                          Sill            410
                                    Cargo total  17530 kg


NASA's new Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope, GLAST, was launched on Jun 11 into a 542 x 561 km x 25.6 deg orbit. GLAST's main instrument is the LAT (Large Area Telescope) which is a CsI calorimeter array with a plastic scintillator detector, viewing 20 percent of the sky at a time with a spatial resolution of a few arcminutes, unprecedented in a high energy gamma ray satellite. LAT observes in the 20 MeV-300 GeV energy range, and is a successor to COS-B and CGRO-EGRET. A secondary experiment, the Gamma Burst Monitor, operates in the lower 10 keV-30 MeV range and is a successor to CGRO-BATSE. The 25.6 deg inclination is unusual, requiring extra fuel during launch from the 28.5 deg North launch site at Cape Canaveral; reducing the amount of time spent in the South Atlantic Anomaly improves the sensitivity of the observations.

Zhongxing 9

China launched a communications satellite on Jun 10. ZX-9, or Chinasat 9, is a Thales Alenia Space satellite (Spacebus 4000C1 model). Launch was to a 245 x 49592 km supersynchronous transfer orbit.

Turksat 3A/Skynet 5C

Arianespace launched Ariane 5ECA vehicle L540 on flight V183 on Jun 12. The EPC stage reached a -1062 x 172 km x 6.8 deg sub-orbit, and the ESC-A stage delivered two satellites to transfer orbit. Turksat 3A is a Thales Alenia Space Spacebus 4000B2 satellites for the privatized Turksat AS communications company; Skynet 5C is an Astrium Eurostar E3000 satellite for Paradigm, the private company which operates the Skynet system for the UK Ministry of Defence. As of Jun 24, Skynet was over 17.8W and Turksat was at 31E.

AMC 14

The AMC 14 satellite launched on Mar 15 is slowly increasing its orbital height, presumably using the arcjet thrusters. On Jun 25 it was in a 17837 x 35664 km x 19.1 deg orbit.

Amos 3

Amos 3 remains on station at 2.4 deg W. The Land Launch upper stage, a Blok DM-SLB, has now also been cataloged. It entered a roughly 34220 x 39400 km x 0.7 deg orbit on Apr 29; the apogee was 1000 km higher than intended due to a programming error. The Briz stage from the Feb 11 Thor 2R (2008-006) launch has not been cataloged yet; it is probably in a 33800 x 35600 km x 0.2 deg orbit following a depletion burn from its last known orbit at 36746 x 36840 km x 0.0 deg.


A debris object has been cataloged in the orbit of IUE (the International Ultraviolet Explorer, an early space telescope). It may be the telescope dust cover, ejected shortly after launch in 1978.


Six new Orbcomm satellites were launched on Jun 19. The CDS-3 satellite carries an AIS Automated Identification System used for tracking ships at sea, similar to the one on the NTS/CanX-6 nanosatellite launched earlier this year. The five remaining satellites carry standard Orbcomm payloads; all six use a bus from Polyot (Omsk) integrated by OHB (Bremen), instead of the older Orbital Microstar bus used by previous Orbcomms.

I don't have the official Orbcomm names of the new satellites; the temporary R-1 to R-5 designations are my own.

Jason 2

The Jason-2 Ocean Surface Topography Mission was launched on Jun 20. The main instrument on the joint French-US mission is the Poseidon 3 altimeter to measure sea surface heights. The Delta first stage reportedly underperformed slightly, but the second stage made up the deficit and reached a 185 x 1414 km x 66.5 deg transfer orbit, a 1329 x 1335 km x 66.0 deg mission orbit where it deployed Jason-2, and two further burns to a 1332 x 4258 x 65.85 orbit and then a 2160 x 4360 km x 65.2 deg disposal orbit, using extra fuel left over because the payload was so light. The final orbit was expected to be 2468 x 4824 km, but the additional propellant usage in the first burn seems to have reduced the height achieved. Jason-2 is a Thales Proteus class satellite with a launch mass of 506 kg.


Kosmos-2440 is a new geostationary early warning satellite for the Russian Defense Ministry, operated by the PVO (Air Defense Force). It is a US-KMO (Prognoz) class satellite, built by the Lavochkin company, and features a large infrared telescope. Launch was by a Proton-K with a Blok DM-3 upper stage.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
May 14 2023   Progress M-64     Soyuz-U          Baykonur LC1      Cargo     23A
May 21 0943   Galaxy 18         Zenit-3SL        SL Odyssey        Comms     24A
May 23 1520   Kosmos-2437 )     Rokot            Plesetesk LC133/3 Comms     25B
              Kosmos-2438 )                                        Comms     25C
              Kosmos-2439 )                                        Comms     25D
              Yubileyniy  )                                        Comms     25A
May 27 0302   FY-3A             Chang Zheng 4C   Taiyuan           Weather   26A
May 31 2101   Discovery STS-124 Shuttle          Kennedy LC39A     Spaceship 27A
Jun 10 1215   Zhongxing 9       Chang Zheng 3B   Xichang           Comms     28A
Jun 11 1605   GLAST             Delta 7920H      Canaveral SLC17B  Astronomy 29A
Jun 12 2205   Skynet 5C  )      Ariane 5ECA      Kourou ELA3       Comms     30A
              Turksat 3A )                                         Comms     30B
Jun 19 0636   Orbcomm CDS-1  )  Kosmos-3M        Kapustin Yar LC107 Comms    31
              Orbcomm R-1    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-2    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-3    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-4    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-5    )                                     Comms     31
Jun 20 0746   Jason 2           Delta 7320       Vandenberg SLC2W  Rem Sens. 32A
Jun 26 2359   Kosmos-2440       Proton-K/DM-3    Baykonur LC81/24 Early Warn 33A

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter :   |
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