Jonathan's Space Report No. 617 2009 Oct 31

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Monday, November 2, 2009

Shuttle and Station

Soyuz TMA-16 was launched on Sep 30 into a 195 x 240 km x 51.6 deg orbit. By Oct 2 it was in a 340 x 351 km x 51.6 deg orbit; the spacecraft docked with the Station at 0835 UTC on Oct 2. Crew were Maksim Suraev (commander TMA-16, flight engineer Expedition 21), Jeffrey Williams (flight engineer TMA-16 and Ex-21), and Guy Laliberte (spaceflight participant, TMA-16 and visiting crew EP-17).

Progress M-67, after several days of free flight, was deorbited over the Pacific Ocean on Sep 27 at 0933 UTC.

Padalka, Barratt and Laliberte transferred to Soyuz TMA-14 on Oct 10 and undocked from the Pirs module at 0107 on Oct 11. They landed in Kazakhstan at 0432 UTC on Oct 11.

The undocking of Soyuz TMA-14 is apparently considered to mark the beginning of Expedition 21, with Frank De Winne of Belgium becoming the first European commander of a space station.

Progress M-03M was launched on Oct 15 and docked with the Pirs module at 0141 UTC on Oct 18.

Soyuz TMA-15 is docked to the Zarya module, and Soyuz TMA-16 is docked to the Zvezda module. The Japanese HTV-1 cargo ship is docked to the Harmony module. After swapping equipment on Oct 2, Romanenko, De Winne and Thirsk are the designated crew of TMA-15, while Suraev, Williams and Stott are assigned to TMA-16.


The Ares I-X rocket, consisting of the modified Shuttle RSRM-91A solid rocket booster, a dummy Upper Stage Simulator, and a dummy CM/LAS (command module/launch abort system), was launched from complex 39B at KSC on Oct 28. The flight tested the aerodynamics of the vehicle within the atmosphere; as planned, it reached an apogee of only around 46 km, inside the stratosphere, so I do not include it in the list of suborbital space launches below.

Meanwhile, orbiter Atlantis is on complex 39A preparing for launch on mission STS-129 in mid-November.


LCROSS/AV-020 entered the lunar gravitational sphere of influence at 1800 UTC on Oct 8, from a 365700 x 644500 km x 48.6 deg Earth orbit. The LCROSS probe separated from Centaur AV-020 at 0150 UTC on Oct 9 and carried out its braking burn at 0230 UTC. The probes approached the lunar surface on a hyperbola with a periapsis of -1727 km. Impact in Cabeus crater occurred at 1131 UTC (Centaur) and 1135 UTC (LCROSS). Unexpectedly, no bright visible plume was seen either from LCROSS or Earth, but LRO and LCROSS detected signatures from the event.

Ariane L549 and L550

Ariane flight V191, vehicle L549 (model 5ECA) was launched from Kourou on Oct 1. The mission launched two communications satellites, Amazonas 2 and COMSATBw-1.

Amazonas 2 is an Astrium/Toulouse Eurostar E3000 for the Hispasat (Madrid) company, which will use it for broadcasting to the Americas. Mass is 5465 kg at launch.

COMSATBw-1 (formerly known as SATCOMBw-1) is a Thales Alenia/Cannes Spacebus 3000B2 satellite for German military communications. (Prime contractor for the space segment is EADS Astrium but Thales built the satellite.) The project is managed by IT-AMTBw (Bundesamt fur Informationsmanagement und informationstechnik der Bundeswehr), the federal bureau for information technology of the German armed forces (Bundeswehr). The satellite is 2440 kg at launch, 1040 kg dry. It is also known as GMS-2A (possibly for German Military Satellite?)

The satellites entered a 265 x 35801 km x 2.9 deg transfer orbit.

Ariane L550 was launched on Oct 29 with two more communications satellites, New Skies' NSS 12 and Telenor's Thor 6.


DigitalGlobe's WorldView-2 0.5-meter-resolution, 8-band imaging satellite was launched on Oct 8. The satellite uses a Ball Aerospace BCP-5000 bus and is in a 766 x 768 km x 98.6 deg orbit.

DMSP 5D F-18

The US Air Force launched a weather satellite from Vandenberg on Oct 18. The Block 5D-3 F-18 launch in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program is the latest in a series which began with the first Block 5D launch in 1976. The program began in 1962 with the first Program 35 weather satellites used by NRO to scout cloud-free regions for spy satellites, and was transferred to the Air Force in the late 1960s when it proved essential for supporting US war operations in Vietnam.

Earlier DMSP satellites were launched on much smaller rockets; the new generation Delta 4 (used for DMSP 5D F-17) and the Atlas V 401 (used in this launch) have a lot of leftover capacity. On this flight that excess was used to perform tests on the Centaur AV-017 rocket and propel it into solar orbit. AV-017's hyperbolic Earth orbit had a C3 (specific energy at infinity) of 37.47 km**2/s**2, enough to send it into the asteroid belt if it were going in the right direction. It is the first solar orbit launch from Vandenberg.


STSS 1/2 were launched on Sep 25, not Sep 23.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Sep 8 2135 USA 207 (PAN) Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Comms 47A
Sep 10 1701 HTV H-IIB Tanegashima Y2 Cargo 48A
Sep 17 1555 Meteor-M ) Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat Baykonur LC31 Weather 49A
BLITS ) Geodesy 49G
Tat'yana-2 ) Science 49
Sterkh 12L ) SAR 49
UGATUSAT ) Imaging 49
Sumbandila ) Tech 49F
IRIS ) Tech/Imag. 49C
Sep 17 1919 Nimiq-5 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC39/200 Comms 50A
Sep 23 0621 Oceansat-2 ) PSLV-CA SDSC Imaging 51A
UWE-2 ) Tech 51
BEESAT ) Tech 51
ITU-p-SAT 1 ) Tech 51
SwissCube ) Science 51
Rubin-9.1 ) Comms 51F
Rubin-9.2 ) Comms 51F
Sep 25 1220 STSS 1 ) Delta 7920 Canaveral SLC17 Tracking 52A
STSS 2 ) Tracking 52A
Sep 30 0714 Soyuz TMA-16 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1/5 Spaceship 53A
Oct 1 2159 COMSATBw-1 ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 54A
Amazonas 2 ) Comms 54B
Oct 8 1851 WorldView-2 Delta 7920 Vandenberg SLC2W Imaging 55A
Oct 15 0114 Progress M-03M Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1/5 Cargo 56A
Oct 18 1612 DMSP 5D F-18 Atlas V 401 Vandenberg SLC3E Weather 57A
Oct 29 2000 NSS 12 ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 58A
Thor 6 ) 58B

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km
Sep 3 USN Mk 5? RV ) Trident D-5 SSBN 736, ETR Op. Test 1000?
x8? )
Sep 4 USN Mk 5? RV ) Trident D-5 SSBN 736, ETR Op. Test 1000?
x8? )
Sep 14 1740? NASA 36.221DS Black Brant IX White Sands Solar EUV 300?
Sep 19 2346 NASA 39.009DR Black Brant XI Wallops Chem Release 283
Sep 27 Shahab RV Shahab 1 Iran Exercise 100?
Sep 27 Shahab RV Shahab 2 Iran Exercise 100?
Sep 28 Shahab RV Shahab 3 Iran Exercise 500?
Sep 28 Sejjil RV Sejjil Iran Exercise 800?
Oct 6 Volna RV ) Volna K-433, Okhotsk Op. Test 1000?
x4? )
Oct 7 Volna RV ) Volna K-44, Okhotsk Op. Test 1000?
x4? )
| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
| Somerville MA 02143 | inter : |
| USA | |

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