Jonathan's Space Report No. 611

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shuttle and Station

Space Shuttle OV-104 Atlantis was launched from pad 39A on May 11 at Kennedy Space Center on mission STS-125, Hubble Servicing Mission SM-4. Beginning its rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope, Atlantis was initially placed in a 53 x 537 km x 28.5 deg orbit and then, after an OMS burn at 1845 UTC, into a 201 x 550 km orbit. HST is in a 562 x 568 km x 28.5 deg orbit and was grappled by the RMS arm on Atlantis at 1714 UTC on May 13. The RMS berthed HST in the payload bay at 1812 UTC.

The airlock was depressurized at 1248 UTC on May 14 and Grunsfeld and Feustel opened the hatch at 1251 UTC for the first spacewalk. The astronauts swapped WFPC2 for the new Wide Field Camera 3 and replaced the broken science data handling unit.

The second spacewalk, by Massimino and Good on May 15, lasted from 1247 UTC (depress) to 2045 UTC (repress). Three Rate Sensing Units, each with two gyros, were installed, replacing older ones. Problems with one unit forced the astronauts to install a backup and caused the spacewalk to overrun, lasting almost 8 hours. On May 16's EVA-3, Grunsfeld and Feustel replaced COSTAR with the COS spectrograph and fixed the ACS camera. Depress to 0.7 psi was at 1331 UTC, hatch open at 1334, closed at 2005, and repress at 2011 UTC.

During EVA-4 on May 17 Massimino and Good repaired the STIS instrument, with no time left over for other tasks. Hatch open was 1344 UTC about two minutes after depressurization; hatch closed at 2139 UTC followed by repressurization at 2147 UTC. EVA-5 on May 18 featured Grunsfeld and Feustel again; it began with airlock depressurization at 1217 UTC and hatch open at 1220 UTC. After a battery replacement and replacement of one of the Fine Guidance Sensors, the astronauts buttoned up the telescope and cleaned up the payload bay. Grunsfeld became probably the last person to touch the telescope, after accidentally knocking into the spacecraft's low gain antenna.

[Note: NASA measures its Shuttle and Quest spacewalks from the switch-to-battery event until repressurization; for consistency across countries, vehicles, and decades, I measure all kinds of spacewalks using estimates of the 50 mbar (0.7 psi) pressure level, and I also record hatch open/close times.]

HST was released at 1257 UTC on May 19 after the servicing was complete. Atlantis fired its OMS engines for deorbit at 1424 UTC on May 24, and landed at 1539 UTC on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base.

STS-125 cargo manifest

Name Bay location Mass (kg,guess)

Orbiter Docking System 1-2 1800
with EMU 3006, 3004, 3015, 3017 suits 480?
APC/SPDU 3 port 17?
SLIC /COPE with 4-5 2990
Wide Field Camera 3
Cosmic Origins Spectrograph
Fine Guidance Sensor, gyros
GABA/MFR 10P 50?
GABA/PFR 10S 50?
Berthing and Positioning Sys
Soft Capture Mechanism
MULE 12 1409
RNS, NOBL blankets
RMS 301 Sill 410
OBSS Sill 382?
Cargo total 13104 kg

Gennadiy Padalka (Russian Space Agency), Mike Barratt (NASA), and Koichi Wakata (Japan-JAXA) are aboard the Station with Soyuz TMA-14 docked to it. Progress M-66 undocked from the station on May 6 at 1518 UTC; Progress M-02M was launched on May 7 at 1837 UTC and docked with Pirs at 1924 UTC on May 12. On May 27, Roman Romanenko (Russian Space Agency), Frank DeWinne (European Space Agency) and Bob Thirsk (Canadian Space Agency) were launched in Soyuz TMA-15. They will dock with the Station and increase the crew size to its operational level of six.

Following a lead from Igor Lissov, I now consider that the Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan landing site I mentioned in the last issue should really be written Zhezqazghan, Qazaqstan, following the CESR standard for the transcription of the Qazaq alphabet.


Arianespace launched an Ariane 5ECA from Kourou on May 14. The rocket is carrying the Herschel and Planck observatories. After the EPC core stage separated into a mildly suborbital -588 x 267 km x 5.70 orbit, the ESC-A stage ignited for a long injection burn, sending Planck and Herschel into a 270 x 1193622 km x 6 deg transfer orbit on the way to the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point.

Observers have detected six objects associated with the H/P launch with apogees from 1 to 2 million km; only four were expected (Herschel, Planck, ESC-A and Sylda).


Kosmos-2450 was launched on a Soyuz-U from Plesetsk on Apr 29 into a 67 degree inclination orbit. It is probably a Kobal't-M class imaging reconnaissance satellite. On May 26 it was in a 178 x 324 km x 67.1 deg orbit.


The US Missile Defense Agency's STSS ATRR satellite was launched on May 5. Also given the codename USA 205, the Advanced Technology Risk Reduction satellite is the first launch in the STSS (Space Tracking and Surveillance System) series. The secret satellite may be using a General Dynamics (former Spectrum Astro) SA-200 bus, with Northrop Grumman Space Technology acting as overall system prime contractor; a satellite of around 2000 kg is a reasonable guess given the launch vehicle and orbit, although some MDA statements may imply a smaller payload.

The satellite has been found by indepedent observers in a 867 x 878 km x 98.9 deg orbit. The Delta 7920-10C took off at 2024 UTC and reached a transfer orbit of around 165 x 871 km at 2034 UTC. The second stage restarted at 2117 UTC over around 44E 26S to enter the 867 x 878 km target orbit, and then separated from the payload at 2122 UTC. Following an evasive burn at 2154 UTC and a depletion burn at 2207 UTC over 148W 30N, the empty stage was left in a retrograde orbit of about 250 x 900 km x 112.8 deg, decaying to 232 x 802 km x 112.6 deg by May 10.

Protostar 2

International Launch Services and Khrunichev launched a Proton-M/Briz-M on May 16 carrying the Protostar 2 satellite. Protostar 2, also known as Indostar II, will replace Indostar I (Cakrawarta) providing comms to Indonesia. The satellte is owned by Protostar Ltd., which is officially based in Bermuda but with offices in the San Francisco area. The ILS launch annoucments talk of Protostar as a Bermuda based company; this implies that Protostar I and II should be
registered with the United Nations OOSA by the UK rather than by the US.

Indostar-II/Protostar 2 is a Boeing 601HP class satellite with a launch mass of 3905 kg; it is 4.1 x 10 x 26m in size when deployed.

Tacsat 3

Tacsat 3 was launched to a 432 x 467 km x 40.5 deg orbit on May 19. The USAF experimental imaging satellite used a Minotaur I rocket and was launched from Wallops Island. Along with the main payload, NASA's Pharmasat and three small 10-cm cubesats were deployed. The cubesats were CP6 for Cal Poly, HawkSat-1 for the Hawk Institute for Space Sciences, and Aerocube 3 for the Aerospace Corp.

Meridian 2

Russia's second Meridian military communications satellite was launched by Soyuz-Fregat from Plesetsk on May 21 into a 290 x 36460 km x 62.8 deg orbit. This is lower than the expected 1000 x 39800 km orbit. and suggests that the second Fregat burn was cut short and the third one did not occur. According to a report on the Novosti Kosmonavtiki forum, the third stage cut off 5s early; the Fregat tried to make up the difference but ran dry during the second burn at around 2247 UTC. Meridian separated at 0013 UTC on May 22; the third burn would have been at about 0500 UTC during first apogee.

TASS indicates that this launch will be given a Kosmos cover name, - it would be Kosmos-2451 - but Vesti and Interfaks give the Meridian name explicitly.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Mar 7 0350 Kepler Delta 7920-10L Canaveral SLC17B Astronomy 11A
Mar 15 2343 Discovery STS-119 Space Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 12A
Mar 17 1421 GOCE Rokot Plesetsk LC133/3 Science 13A
Mar 24 0834 GPS 49 Delta 7925 Canaveral SLC17A Nav 14A
Mar 26 1149 Soyuz TMA-14 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1 Spaceship 15A
Apr 3 1624 Eutelsat W2A Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 16A
Apr 4 0031 WGS SV2 (USA 204) Atlas V 421 Canaveral SLC41 Comms 17A
Apr 5 0230 Kwangmyongsong 2 Unha-2 Tonghae Test F02
Apr 14 1616 2 Beidou Dao.Wei. Chang Zheng 3C Xichang Nav 18A
Apr 20 0115 RISAT-2 ) PSLV-CA Sriharikota SLP Radar 19A
Anusat ) Imaging 19B
Apr 20 0816 SICRAL 1B Zenit-3SL SL Odyssey Comms 20A
Apr 22 0255 China Yaogan 6 Chang Zheng 2C Taiyuan Imaging? 21A
Apr 29 1658 Kosmos-2450 Soyuz-U Plesetsk Imaging 22A
May 5 2024 STSS-ATRR Delta 7920-10C Vandenberg SLC2W Tech 23A
May 7 1837 Progress M-02M Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 24A
May 11 1802 Atlantis STS-125 Space Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 25A
May 14 1312 Herschel ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Astronomy 26A
Planck ) Astronomy 26B
May 16 0057 Protostar-2 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur Comms 27A
May 19 2355 Tacsat 3 ) Minotaur I Wallops LA0B Imaging 28A
Pharmasat ) Bio 28
Aerocube 3 ) Tech 28C
CP6 ) Tech 28
HawkSat-1 ) Tech 28
May 21 2153 Meridian 2 Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat Plesetsk LC43/4 Comms 29A
May 27 1034 Soyuz TMA-15 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1 Spaceship 30A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km
Mar 6 1054 Target Dhanush Ship, Chandipur Target 120
Mar 6 1100? Interceptor Prithvi Chandipur IC4 ABM Test 75?
Mar 12 1008 SSC REXUS 6 Imp. Orion Esrange Ionos./Tech 88
Mar 13 0600 SSC REXUS 5 Imp. Orion Esrange Atmos./Tech 87
Mar 18 0025? THAAD Target Unknown Kauai Target 100?
Mar 18 0030 THAAD KV THAAD Kauai ABM Test 100?
Mar 18 0030 THAAD KV THAAD Kauai ABM Test 100?
Mar 20 1104 NASA 40.023UE Black Brant XII Poker Flat Aurora 560?
+ 4 subpayloads
Mar 25 1325 PAC-3 Target Hera Fort Wingate Target 100?
Apr 10 0810 RV Topol' Plesetsk Op Test 1000?
May 7 HIFIRE-0 Terrier Orion? Woomera Hypersonic 200?
May 20 RV Sejjil-2 Semnan Test 800
May 22 1032 MAPHEUS Nike Orion Esrange Micrograv 140

| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
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