Jonathan's Space Report No. 643 2011 Jul 5

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shuttle and Station

Endeavour undocked from the Station at 0355 UTC on May 30. The Shuttle then performed a re-rendezvous with the Station, coming to a distance of 290m at 0822 UTC. The rendezvous demonstrated a coelliptic approach, familiar from Apollo days but not normally used with Shuttle, and tested the STORRM laser sensor developed for the new Orion spaceship.

On Jun 1 at 0529 UTC Endeavour fired its two OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) engines for 2 min 38s to reduce its velocity by 90 m/s, lowering perigee into the Earth's atmosphere. Atmosphere entry interface at 120 km occurred at 0603 UTC, and Endeavour landed on Runway 15 at KSC at 0634:51 UTC.

On Jun 7 the Soyuz TMA-02M spaceship was launched from Baykonur, carrying Sergey Volkov, Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa. It docked with the Rassvet module at 2118 UTC on Jun 9.

On Jun 11 the orbit of the Station was 344 x 346 km x 51.6 deg. Between Jun 12 and Jun 17, in four burns using the engines of the European ATV-2 cargo ship, Johannes Kepler, the orbit was raised to 374 x 389 km - the highest it's been since October 2003. Further boosts from the Progress M-11 engines in late June put the station at 381 x 395 km by Jul 4, a height last seen in Jun 2003. The highest ever orbit for the Station was 396 x 403 km in Dec 1998, early in its history.

On Jun 20 the Johannes Kepler undocked from the Zvezda aft port at 1446 UTC; a burn at 1706 UTC on Jun 21 lowered its orbit to 220 x 380 km, and another burn at 2004 UTC was used to send it into a -2 x 379 km orbit towards destructive reentry in the Pacific.

On Jun 21 the Russian Progress M-11M cargo ship was launched. Among other cargo it carries the 40 kg Chibis-M research satellite which will later be released into orbit. Progress M-11M docked with Zvezda on Jun 23 at 1637 UTC.

Orbiter OV-104 Atlantis is on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, and is scheduled to launch on Jul 8 for the final Space Shuttle flight.

Artemis and Chang'e-2

China's Chang'e-2 probe left lunar orbit on Jun 9, on a trajectory to the Earth-Sun L2 point. Meanwhile, the NASA/Berkeley Artemis P1 probe entered a retrograde equatorial lunar orbit on Jun 27 after several months at Earth-Moon L1. Initial orbital parameters are 3543 x 27000 km (note that the data on JPL Horizons for this mission appear to be out of date).


NASA's Dawn probe is approaching Vesta. On Jun 27 it entered the planetoid's gravitational sphere of influence (Hill sphere) whose radius is 127000 km; by Jul 5 it was only 60000 km from Vesta.


The SAC-D/Aquarius satellite was launched from Vandenberg on Jun 10 by a Delta II rocket. It reached a 157 x 669 km transfer orbit 11 minutes after launch; a second burn circularized the orbit 40 minutes later at 653 x 655 km x 98.0 deg.

Argentina's 'Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas-D' satellite carries a suite of Earth observing instruments including NASA's Aquarius L-band radiometer/scatterometer which will make global maps of sea salinity. The Aquarius instrument is managed by JPL, although later operations will be done by NASA Goddard; the rest of the spacecraft is operated by CONAE, the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, at the Centro Espacial Tabanera in Falda del Carmen, Cordoba province. Among its other instruments SAC-D carries a Ka-band microwave radiometer, a New Infrared Scanner Technology experiment to measure sea surface temperatures, the High Sensitivity Camera to study light sources at night, and the Italian ROSA instrument which measures deflection of GPS satellite signals by the atmosphere to measure temperature and humidity.


On Jun 15 Iran launched the Rasad satellite into a 236 x 299 km x 55.7 deg orbit from the Semnan launch site using its Safir launch vehicle. The 15 kg satellite carries an Earth imaging payload. Launch time was 0915 UTC according to released launch video, agreeing with calculations by Phil Clark from the orbital data which put launch at 0914 UTC.


China's Zhongxing-10 (ChinaSat-10) communications satellite was launched on June 20. ZX-10 is also known as Xinnuo-5 (Sinosat-5), following the merger of the Sinosat and ChinaSat organizations. Zhongxing-10 was in a 35775 x 35797 km x 0.2 deg orbit over 103.5E as of Jul 3.


Russia launched Kosmos-2472 on Jun 27 into a 185 x 249 km x 81.4 deg orbit; it is believed to be a new Kobal't-M imaging reconnaissance satellite. This is the first Russian spy satellite launch to 81-82 degree orbit since 1994 and the first to the once-popular 81.4 deg value since 1979; all recent launches have been to the 64-67 degree inclination slots. By Jun 29 the satellite was in a 217 x 338 km orbit.


ORS-1 is a prototype operational imaging satellite operated by the USAF Operationally Responsive Space program at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Derived from the experimental Tacsat 3 vehicle, it carries an optical/infrared imaging sensor. The USAF hopes that satellites like this can be launched quickly on need; this satellite will support US Central Command. ORS-1 was launched at 0309 UTC on Jun 30 from Launch Area 0B at Wallops Island and separated from its Minotaur launch vehicle at 0321 UTC. The payload (or possibly its final stage) was observed by hobbyists in a 396 x 409 km x 40.0 deg orbit on Jul 2.

Suborbital launches

The SUBTEC IV rocket, NASA 41.096GT, was launched from Wallops Island on Jun 10. It carried a new high data rate X-band telemetry system and the 0.4-meter SMART microsatellite bus. On Jun 22 the US Air Force launched a Minuteman 3 ICBM on the GT204 test mission sending a single reentry vehicle from Vandenberg to Kwajalein.

On June 28 Iran launched three large missiles as part of military exercises. The Iranians for the first time publicly identified Semnan and Damghan as missile bases. The Semnan site has been discussed by Western sources and is also their satellite launch facility; Damghan may be the same as the base described in Western sources as Shahroud (a city just east of Damghan). The same day, Russia test fired a Bulava missile, which can carry 6 to 10 reentry vehicles, from the White Sea to the Kura test range in Kamchatka. This was the first launch from the new 955-class submarine K-535 Yuri Dolgorukiy.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
May 4 1741 Meridian No. 14L Soyuz-2-1A Plesetsk LC43/4 Comms 18A
May 7 1810 SBIRS GEO-1 Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Early Warn 19A
May 16 1256 STS-134 Endeavour Space Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 20A
May 20 1915 Telstar 14R Proton-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 21A
May 20 2038 ST-2 ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 22B
GSAT-8 ) Comms 22A
Jun 7 2012 Soyuz TMA-02M Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1 Spaceship 23A
Jun 10 1420 SAC-D/Aquarius Delta 7320 Vandenberg SLC2W Climate 24A
Jun 15 0915 Rasad Safir Semnan? Imaging 25A
Jun 20 1613 Zhongxing-10 Chang Zheng 3BE Xichang Comms 26A
Jun 21 1438 Progress M-11M ) Soyuz-U Baykonur Cargo 27A
Chibis-M )
Jun 27 1600 Kosmos-2472 Soyuz-U Plesetsk LC16/2 Imaging 28A
Jun 30 0309 ORS-1 Minotaur 1 Wallops I. LA0B Imaging 29A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km

May 6 2302 Kunpeng-1 Tianying-3C Hainan Ionosphere 197
May 20 4 x RV Sineva K-84, Barents Sea Op. Test 1000?
May 20 1321 SL-5 SpaceLoft XL SWRS Edu/Burial 118
Jun 10 1116 NASA 41.096GT Terrier Orion Wallops I Tech 118
Jun 22 1335 GT204 RV Minuteman 3 Vandenberg LF10 Test 1300?
Jun 23 1017 NASA 41.095UO Terrier Orion Wallops I Education 119
Jun 28 Shahab RV Shahab 1 Semnan? Exercise 150?
Jun 28 Shahab RV Shahab 2 Semnan? Exercise 150?
Jun 28 Shahab RV Ghadr Semnan? Exercise 150?
Jun 28 1155 RV x 6? Bulava K-535, White Sea Test 1000?

| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
| Somerville MA 02143 | inter : planet4589 at gmail |
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