Jonathan's Space Report No. 603 2008 Nov 15

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Friday, November 14, 2008

Shuttle and Station

The Expedition 18 crew of Michael Fincke, Yuiry Lonchakov and Greg Chamitoff continues work on board the ISS. Soyuz TMA-13 is docked to the Zarya port.

Nov 15 saw the launch of Shuttle mission STS-126, ISS flight ULF-2 (Utilization and Logistics Flight 2) with Orbiter OV-105 Endeavour, External Tank ET-129 and Solid Rocket Motors RSRM-104 (SRB set BI-136). STS-126 was launched from Mobile Launch Platform 3 on Pad 39A. Endeavour and ET-129 reached an orbit of 59 x 230 km x 51.6 deg, 8 min after launch. At 0134 UTC Endeavour executed the OMS-2 burn into a 158 x 230 km orbit.

Crew of STS-126 are Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Don Pettit, Stephen Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough, and Expedition 18 flight engineer Sandra Magnus who will stay aboard ISS replacing Chamitoff.

Here is my version of the payload bay equipment manifest for STS-126:

 Name                             Bay location   Mass (kg,guess)

 Orbiter Docking System           1-2            1800
  with EMU 3005, 3011 suits                       260?
 APC/SPDU                         3 port          100?
 APC/SSPL Picosat launcher        3 stbd           50
  PSSC Picosats                                     7
 ROEU 751 umbilical               7 stbd           50?
 Leonardo (MPLM-1)                7-12          12748
 Lightweight MPESS Carrier (LMC) 13              1495 kg
 RMS 201                          Sill            410
 OBSS                             Sill            450?
                                    Cargo total 17370

Total mass of the orbiter at ET separation is 116500 kg.

This flight doesn't add anything significant to the outside of the ISS, but stocks up the interior, making the ISS more liveable. The Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Leonardo is carrying 6956 kg of cargo including two crew quarters racks, and three racks to support the cycling of consumables through the crew: the Galley rack, for consuming things which later pass through the WHC (Waste and Hygiene Compartment) rack, and then two Water Recovery System racks which recycle the waste into drinkable water to begin again. There's also an experiment rack, the CIR (Combustion integration rack), and miscellaneous supplies in three RSRs (Resupply Stowage Racks) and six RSPs (Resupply Stowage Platforms).


IBEX has reportedly reached its final orbit of around 12000 x 320000 km, but I haven't seen any detailed orbital data or information on the orbit raising burns.

Simon Bolivar

Venezuela's first satellite, VENESAT-1 or 'Simon Bolivar', was launched from Xichang in China on Oct 29 aboard a Chang Zheng 3B rocket. The satellite is a DFH-4 class bus built by CAST/Beijing and carries C-band and Ku-band transponders; it has a mass of around 5100 kg. Simon Bolivar is operated by the Agencia Bolivariana para Actividades Espaciales (Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities) in Caracas, under the Ministry of Popular Power for Science and Technology.

Launch was into a 169 x 41771 km x 24.80 deg orbit. By Nov 12 the satellite was in a 35784 x 35788 km x 0.4 deg orbit over 78.0W; details of orbit raising burns are not available.


According to ISRO, on Oct 29 Chandraayan-1's orbit was raised to 465 x 267000 km, on its way to lunar orbit. My estimate from Space-Track data is 575 x 261997 km x 18.1 deg. On Nov 3, the apogee was increased further to 380000 km.

Chandrayaan-1 entered lunar orbit on Nov 8. ISRO reported the initial orbit as 504 x 7502 km x 90.0 deg. By Nov 12 the orbit had been lowered to 100 x 100 km x 90.0 deg. On Nov 14 at 1436 UTC it ejected a 29 kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP). The MIP fired a small deorbit motor to lower its orbit to around -200 x 100 km, and hit the moon at 1501 UTC, near Shackleton Crater at the south pole.

Chinese double launch

A Chang Zheng 2D rocket launched two small satellites on Nov 5, Chuanxin yihao 02 xing (Innovation Satellite no. 1 - 02) and Shiyan Weixing sanhao (Experimental satellite no. 3).

SW-3 was built by the Harbin Inst. of Tech. and Beijing's DFH Satellite Co. CX-1-02 was probably built by SIMIT (the Shanghai Inst. of Microsystem and Information Technology) together with the Shanghai Academy of Space Technology, the team that built the first CX-1 satellite launched in 2003.

The Xinhua news agency reports that CX-1-02 will collect and relay hydrological and meteorological data and data for disaster relief. and SW-3 will be used for experiments on new technologies in atmospheric exploration. Mass of CX-1-02 is under 100 kg; SW-3 is larger but I don't know how much larger. The satellites are in a 786 x 804 km x 98.5 deg orbit; a third object in a 308 x 835 km orbit is probably the launch vehicle second stage; it made a perigee-lowering depletion burn at about 0035 UTC, after satellite separation. This may explain why the Yaogan 2 second stage, also a CZ-2D, was never cataloged: it probably made a perigee-lowering burn which caused it to reenter on the first orbit.

Meanwhile, the two new Shi Jian 6 satellites have begun operation. The name of the first satellite is Shijian liuhao 03 zu A xing, or 'Practice Six Group 3 Satellite A', which I call SJ-6-03A for simplicity. (In the Chinese news reports, the '6' is written as Chinese characters, but the '03' and the 'A' as Arabic numerals and Roman letters. Go figure...) SJ-6-03A has maneuvered from 579 x 603 km to 565 x 597 km to 585 x 601 km. SJ-6-03B remains in a 582 x 604 km orbit with no significant manuevers. The SJ-6-03's final stage rocket is in a 504 x 703 km orbit and an adapter is in an orbit just below the payloads at 580 x 604 km.

Astra 1M

The Astra 1M communications satellite, for Luxembourg-based SES Astra, was launched by Proton-M/Briz-M on Nov 5. The Proton reached -986 x 165 km x 51.5 deg; the Briz-M entered a 173 x 174 km parking orbit; after its third burn, the additional propellant tank was jettisoned in a 311 x 14176 km x 46.9 deg orbit at 0024 UTC on Nov 6. After a fifth burn, the Briz separated from Astra 1M at 0556 UTC on Nov 6, in a 4983 x 35797 km x 21.5 deg orbit. By Nov 10 Astra 1M was in a 22543 x 35803 km x 3.8 deg orbit approaching GEO.


On Nov 14 a Russian Defense Ministry Kobal't-M imaging reconnaissance satellite codenamed Kosmos-2445 was launched into a 169 x 314 km x 67.1 deg orbit.

This is the fourth improved Kobal't satellite, all of which flew in similar 67.1 deg orbits:

 Kobal't-M   Kosmos-2410  2004 Sep 24-2005 Jan 9 (107 days)
 Kobal't-M   Kosmos-2420  2006 May  3-2006 Jul 19 (77 days)
 Kobal't-M   Kosmos-2427  2007 Jun  7-2007 Aug 22 (76 days)
 Kobal't-M   Kosmos-2445  2008 Nov 14

We can therefore expect this mission to last at least until Jan 29. The satellite consists of a propulsion module, and a recoverable camera module. It also carries two small supplementary SpK recoverable film capsules which will be deorbited during the mission - alas, I haven't managed to figure out a way to tell when the SpK recoveries happen.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.
Oct  1 0637   THEOS             Dnepr            Yasniy            Imaging   49A
Oct 12 0701   Soyuz TMA-13      Soyuz-FG         Baykonur LC1/5    Spaceship 50A
Oct 19 1747   IBEX              Pegasus XL       Kwajalein         Astronomy 51A
Oct 22 0052   Chandraayan-1  )  PSLV             Sriharikota     Lunar probe 52A
             MIP            )                                   Lunar probe 52
Oct 25 0115   SJ-6-03A)         Chang Zheng 4B   Taiyuan           Unknown   53A
             SJ-6-03B)                                            Unknown   53A
Oct 25 0228   COSMO 3           Delta 7420-10    Vandenberg SLC2W  Radar     54A
Oct 29 1654   Simon Bolivar     Chang Zheng 3B   Xichang           Comms     55A
Nov  5 0015   Chuanxin-1-02   ) Chang Zheng 2D   Jiuquan           Tech      56A
             Shiyan Weixing 3)                                    Tech      56B
Nov  5 2044   Astra 1M          Proton-M         Baykonur LC200/39 Comms     57A
Nov 14 1550   Kosmos-2445       Soyuz-U          Plesetsk LC16/2   Imaging   58A
Nov 15 0055   Endeavour STS-126 Space Shuttle    Kennedy LC39A     Spaceship 59A

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