Jonathan's Space Report No. 612 2009 Jun 21

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shuttle and Station

Gennadiy Padalka (Commander, Russia), Mike Barratt (Flight Engineer 1, NASA), and Koichi Wakata (FE2, Japan-JAXA) were joined by Roman Romanenko (FE3, Russia), Frank DeWinne (FE4, European Space Agency) and Bob Thirsk (FE5, Canadian Space Agency) when Soyuz TMA-15 docked with the Station's Zarya nadir port at 1234 UTC on May 29, increasing the crew size to its operational level of six and beginning Expedition 20. Soyuz TMA-14 and Progress M-02M are also docked to the Station.

On Jun 5, astronauts Padalka and Barratt made Russian spacewalk VKD-22 in the new Orlan-MK spacesuits (Nos. 5 and 6 respectively) from the Pirs module. Depressurization of Pirs was complete around 0736 UTC, with hatch open at 0752 UTC. Barrett and Padalka added two Kurs rendezvous antennas to the exterior of Zvezda to get it ready for the arrival of a new docking module, the Maliy Issledovatel'skiy Modul'-2 (MIM-2, Mini Research Module 2). Also known as Stikovochniy Otsek 2 (SO-2, Docking Module 2), it is similar in design to the SO-1 Pirs module and will be launched attached to a Progress propulsion unit, Progress M-SO2 No. 302, later in 2009.

On Jun 10, Russian spacewalk VKD-23 was carried out inside the Zvezda module. The front of Zvezda (the part docked to Zarya) is a spherical node (PKhO, Transfer Module) with multiple docking ports. The axial port is connected to Zarya; the zenith port of the Pirs airlock module is docked at Zvezda's radial nadir port, with Progress M-02M docked to Pirs' nadir. The ports which are in active use contain conical hatches used to receive the docking probes of visiting spacecraft; the axial docking cone used to receive Zarya is no longer needed as Zarya is firmly attached, but was still attached. The three remaining radial ports on the Zvezda node were closed off with flat cover plates. During the Jun 10 operation, astronauts Padalka and Barratt entered the node and closed the hatches to Zarya and to the main section of Zvezda. The node was depressurized starting at 0622 UTC and completed by about 0650 UTC. At 0655 UTC the flat cover on the zenith hatch was removed, leaving the zenith port open to space. It was stowed on top of the Pirs hatch. At about 0705 UTC the docking cone on the port docked to Zarya was removed and at 0707 it was installed on the zenith port, closing it off to space again and preparing it for MIM-2/SO-2. The compartment was then repressurized at around 0711 UTC; the depressurized work thus lasted about 21 minutes, but Russian officials count the spacewalk as lasting 12 minutes, the time for which the zenith hatch was open to space.

Launch of STS-127 is now expected in July.


The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was launched from Cape Canaveral on Jun 18 aboard an Atlas V rocket together with LCROSS, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. The Centaur AV-020 stage entered a 180 x 208 km parking orbit and then reignited to reach a 194 x 353700 km x 28.2 deg lunar transfer orbit at 2215 UTC on Jun 18. LRO separated from the Centaur/LCROSS at 2218 UTC. The Centaur then adjusted its orbit by venting its remaining propellant, sending it on a slightly different 133 x 348640 km x 28.0 deg lunar flyby trajectory. Centaur/LCROSS will pass the Moon at a distance of 3270 km at 1029 UTC on Jun 23, and enter a 357000 x 582000 km x 45 deg orbit (LGALRO - Lunar Gravity Assist Lunar Return Orbit) with apogees on Jul 10, Aug 16 and Sep 22 which will lead to lunar impact on October 9 at around 1139 UTC. LCROSS will separate from the Centaur shortly before the impact. Meanwhile, LRO is scheduled to enter lunar orbit on Jun 23.

Measat 3a

The Measat 3a communications satellite was launched on Jun 21 from Baykonur on the third 'Land Launch' Zenit-3SLB. The satellite was built by Orbital for Measat and will be operated from Cyberjaya, Malaysia.

Meridian 2

As of Jun 20, Meridian 2 was still stuck in its initial, lower than planned 646-minute transfer orbit.

Herschel and Planck

The cryo-cover on the Herschel telescope was opened on Jun 14, allowing the focal plane instruments to see the sky. First light images of the galaxy M51 were released on June 19. Meanwhile, Planck made a course correction on Jun 5 and is slowly activating its instruments.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
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
CP6 ) Tech 28
HawkSat-1 ) Tech 28
Aerocube 3 ) 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
Jun 18 2132 LRO ) Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Lunar probe 31A
LCROSS ) Lunar probe 31B
Jun 21 2150 Measat 3a Zenit-3SLB Baykonur LC45 Comms 32A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km
Apr 10 0810 RV Topol' Plesetsk Op Test 1000?
Apr 15 0450 Prithvi RV Prithvi II Chandipur Test 80?
Apr 17 1118 FalconLaunch 7 FalconLaunch White Sands Test 108
May 7 HIFIRE-0 Terrier Orion? Woomera Hypersonic 200?
May 19 0436 RV Agni 2 Chandipur Test 300?
May 20 RV Sejjil-2 Semnan Test 800
May 22 1032 MAPHEUS Nike Orion Esrange Micrograv 140
May 28 1652 NASA 41.080NR Terrier Orion Wallops Hypersonic 130?
May 29 1325 Maracati 1 Improved Orion Alcantara Test 93

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