- 5 atmospheric glide flights by orbiter OV-101 Enterprise
- 5 space-qualified orbiters:
OV-102 Columbia 1981-2003
OV-099 Challenger 1983-1986
OV-103 Discovery 1984-2011
OV-104 Atlantis 1985-2011
OV-105 Endeavour 1992-2011
- 134 orbital launches (plus 1 launch failure)
- 133 atmospheric entries with hypersonic flight to
runway landings at the three sites Kennedy, Edwards, White Sands
(plus one failed entry)
- 818 seats to orbit for 347 people from 18 countries
- The mass of the Orbiter with cargo was around 100-120 tonnes on each mission
- 77 large and 44 small satellites deployed in orbit, total mass 231 tonnes
- 24 major Space Station components launched, total mass 232 tonnes
- 46 dockings with Mir and ISS
- 31 satellite rendezvous/retrieval/captures
- 45 pressurized cargo bay modules (Spacelab, Spacehab and MPLM)
- 87 unpressurized cargo bay carriers (Pallet, MPESS etc.)
Orbiter OV-104 Atlantis soared into space on Jul 8 from on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, beginning the final Space Shuttle flight. Launch had been planned for 1526 UTC but was delayed with a brief hold at the T-31 second mark because of a sensor failure in the launch tower arm that lets excess liquid oxygen drain from the tank. After this issue was resolved, launch occurred successfully at 1529:04 UTC.
Atlantis reached a 57 x 227 km orbit; the External Tank separated and the Orbiter coasted to apogee, firing the OMS engines to raise the orbit to 155 x 230 km. On Jun 10 at 1507 UTC orbiter OV-104 Atlantis docked with Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 (PMA-2) on the end of the Harmony module at the International Space Station. On this mission, only four astronauts were aboard instead of the usual six to eight, to make it easier to return them on Soyuz ships if anything goes wrong. Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists MS-1 Sandra Magnus and MS-2 Rex Walheim joined the Expedition 28 crew of Commander Andrey Borisenko and flight engineers FE-1 Aleksandr Samokutyaev, FE-3 Ron Garan, FE-4 Sergey Volkov, FE-5 Satoshi Furukawa and FE-6 Mike Fossum. The Expedition 28 crew have dual roles on the Russian ferry ships, with Samokutyaev as komandir (commander) of Soyuz TMA-21 with Borisenko and Garan as bortinzhener (flight engineer) BI-1 and BI-2, and Volkov as komandir of Soyuz TMA-02M with Fossum and Furukawa as BI-1 and BI-2.
Atlantis was carrying the Raffaello MultiPurpose Logistics Module, which is stuffed with six Resupply Stowage Racks, eight Resupply Stowage Platforms, two ISS Stowage Platforms, and one Zero-G Stowage Rack, all carrying supplies for the Station. Also in the cargo bay was the LMC carrier with the Robotic Refuelling Mission box, which will be transferred to the Station, and an attachment plate for the failed Pump Module S/N 02 removed from the truss in February and then stashed on the ELC-2 platform. During the mission the failed PM was bolted on the LMC and brought back to Earth for analysis. Also in the payload bay was the tiny Aerospace Corporation Picosat Solar Cell Experiment satellite which was be ejected after undocking.
PSSC-2 carries small rocket motors (total propellant around 0.08 kg, four ammonium perchlorate motors with 40 Ns impulse each), and a few weeks after deployment they will be fired to raise PSSC-2's orbit to counteract decay and test ground tracking capabilities. PSSC-2 will also demonstrate its advanced solar panel technology. PSSC-1, which did not have its own propulsion, was deployed on STS-126 and remained in orbit for 80 days.
STS-135 Cargo Bay Manifest
External Airlock/ODS 1800? kg
EMU spacesuits 3015, 3006 260?
RMS arm 301 410?
Orbiter Boom Sensor System 382?
MPLM-2 Rafaello 11556
ROEU 755 umbilical for MPLM 78?
Lightweight MPESS Carrier 1050?
Robotic Refuelling Mission 300?
Picosat Launcher 22
PSSC-2/MTV satellite 4
Total 15879 kg
Astronauts Fossum and Garan made a spacewalk from the Quest airlock on Jul 12 using suits EMU 3010 and 3009; the airlock was depressurized below 0.7 psi at 1320 UTC and repressurized at 1953 UTC. The failed Pump Module S/N 02 was retrieved from ELC-2 and put on the LMC in the cargo bay, and the RRM experiment was moved from LMC to the EOTP location on the Station's Dextre robot arm. A small experiment called ORMatE-III, launched to ISS on STS-134 as part of the MISSE-8 project, was removed from the airlock and installed on ELC-2 next to the main MISSE-8 PEC exposure experiment, and the spare PMA-3 docking port was wrapped in a thermal protection cover to prevent it overheating.
Atlantis undocked from ISS on Jul 19 at 0628 UTC and on Jul 20 it deployed the small 4 kg Picosat Solar Cell Testbed satellite. At 0849 UTC on Jul 21 the OMS engines were fired to lower the orbit to 46 x 389 km. Atlantis entered the atmosphere at 0925 UTC and touched down on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 0957 UTC, bringing to an end the final Shuttle flight.
Expedition 28 continues with Borisenko, Samkutyaev, Garan, Volkov, Furukawa, and Fossum aboard ISS. The next US astronaut to fly in space is scheduled to be Dan Burbank, Flight Engineer-2 on the Soyuz TMA-22 mission slated for lauch in September 2011. Meanwhile, the SpaceX 'Dragon Rider' program under former astronaut Garrett Reisman is modifying their Dragon cargo craft to be the next US-built spaceship to carry a crew.
China has launched a new satellite, Shi Jian shi yihao 03 xing (Shi Jian 11 satellite 3, denoted SJ-11-03 by many Western sources). SJ-11-1 was launched on 2009 Nov 12; SJ-11-2 has not been launched. It is thought that the SJ-11 satellites are followons to the Shiyan Weixing 2 satellite which tested infrared sensors. It has further been speculated (in a posting on nasaspaceflight.com) that the vehicles may be missile early warning satellites; this is certainly possible but seems a bit of a leap to me, although a military infrared surveillance mission of some kind does appear plausible.
SJ-11-03 was launched into a 690 x 703 km x 98.2 deg orbit together with its final stage rocket. As usual with CZ-2C launches, four stage-2 separation-motor covers were jettisoned into elliptical orbits, in this case around 700 x (800 - 955) km.
China also launched the TianLian yihao 02 xing (TL-1 satellite 02), a data relay satellite which will be used to support the forthcoming Shenzhou/Tiangong docking mission. The CZ-3C third stage put the payload in a 198 x 42217 km x 18.0 deg supersynchronous transfer orbit. By Jul 19 the satellite was in geostationary orbit over the Pacific.
The second batch of six second-generation Globalstar low-orbit communications satellite was launched from Baykonur on Jul 13 into a 920 x 932 km x 52.0 deg parking orbit.
Iran's Rasad-1 satellite reentered on July 6 after three weeks in orbit. The initial 243 x 292 km orbit had decayed to 186 x 197 km by July 4.
India's 1410-kg GSAT-12 communications satellite was launched into subsynchronous transfer orbit on Jul 15 by the enhanced XL version of the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). PSLV's more powerful sibling GSLV (Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle) is still grounded following launch failures, so GSAT-12 will use some of its own onboard propellant to make it up to geostationary atltitude.
International Launch Services launched the SES-3 and Kazsat-2 satellites on a Khrunichev Proton-M/Briz-M on Jul 15. Ascent is underway at this writing.
SES-3, for SES World Skies (Princeton, NJ) and SES Engineering (Luxembourg), is an Orbital Star-2.4E with a fuelled mass of 3112 kg, using a Japanese IHI BT-4 apogee thruster. It carries a C/Ku band communications payload. Kazsat-2 is a Ku-band communications satellite based on Khrunichev's Yakhta bus and is owned by Kazakhstan's National Center for Space Communications (RTsKS).
The Briz-M was placed in an initial -477 x 189 km x 48.0 deg trajectory at 2325 UTC; it reached 133 x 273 km x 48.0 deg at 2333 UTC, 240 x 5000 km x 46.8 deg at 0039 UTC on Jul 16, jettisoned the DTB tank at 0259 UTC in a 341 x 215235 km orbit, reached 401 x 35252 km x 45.6 deg at 0303 UTC, and coasted to apogee. A further burn completed at 0704 UTC left SES-3 in a 3655 x 35757 km x 24.7 deg orbit; it separated from the stack at 0717 UTC. The Briz-M coasted for almost an hour and then jettisoned the payload adapter that separated SES-3 from Kazsat at 0812 UTC. At 0822 the sixth Briz-M burn put Briz-M/Kazsat in a 35201 x 35767 km x 0.1 deg near-geosynchronous orbit, and at 0840 UTC Kazsat-2 was ejected from Briz-M. Finally, Briz-M made two depletion burns at 1046 and 1151 UTC.
It appears from Khrunichev data that the final Kazsat-2 orbit was about 324 km lower in apogee than planned and 0.1 deg higher in inclination, but this is unlikely to pose a problem for the payload.
The objects in orbit from the launch are therefore:
Briz-M 99519 35000?x 36000?x 1.0? deg
Kazsat-2 35201 x 35767 x 0.1 deg
SES-3 3655 x 35757 x 24.7 deg 35A
Adapter 3692 x 35728 x 24.7 deg 35B
DTB tank 341 x 25235 x 45.7 deg 35C
8S812KM stage -477 x 189 x 48.0 deg (reentered in Pacific)
A new Boeing/El Segundo Block IIF Global Positioning System satellite, space vehicle SVN 63, was launched on Jul 16 to become GPS IIF-2. The Delta 4 rocket made three upper stage burns to a 185 x 400 km x 42 deg orbit, a 239 x 20418 km x 43 deg orbit, and at 1001 UTC to a 20463 x 21736 km x 54.8 deg orbit. (Does anyone know if the IIF has a BSS- type model number analogous to the BSS-702 communications satellites?)
The first of the long-planed Spektr series of Russian astronomical space observatories has been launched. Spektr-R, also known as RadioAstron, is a 3660 kg spacecraft based on the Lavochkin company's Navigator bus, and carries a 10m diameter radio telescope observing at 92, 18, 6 and 1.35 cm wavelengths. The satellite also carries solar wind and cosmic dust detectors, and laser corner reflectors for tracking.
The Zenit-3F/Fregat rocket entereed a 177 x 447 km x 51.4 deg orbit; four small separation motor covers were jettisoned to 175 x 660 km. The first Fregat upper stage burn put it in a 429 x 3703 km orbit. The Fregat's SBB (Sbrasivaemiye baki banov) drop tank was jettisoned into this orbit prior to a second burn which boosted the orbit to 1045 x 332728 km x 51.6 deg. RadioAstron separated from Fregat at 0606 UTC and reached first apogee around Jul 21.
The Dawn space probe entered a bound orbit around Vesta on Jul 16. It continues to use its ion engine to lower the orbital height, and by Jul 22 it was at an altitude of 5400 km.
On Jul 6, Chandra entered its first unplanned safemode since 2000. As of Jul 12, the spacecraft has been recovered to normal operation and the science program has resumed. The safemode was caused when unusually strong gravity gradient torques coincided with the end of a slew, and this combined with a complexity in the software confused Chandra into incorrectly thinking that it was out of control, when in fact it was actually pointing stably. It took a couple of days to figure out exactly what happened, but the hardware is now fully exonerated: as it prepares to complete 12 years in orbit Chandra is still in excellent health.
Two sounding rockets were launched from Wallops Island 15 seconds apart on Jul 10 as part of the Daytime Dynamo experiment which studies ionspheric activity.
Argentia's CITEDEF defense research group launched a two-stage sounding rocket, Gradicom II, to 100km from the CELPA base in Chamical, Argentina. CELPA was Argentina's main sounding rocket launch site from 1962-1974, but had been retired for many years. Gradicom reportedly stands for GRAndes DImensiones COMpuestos (Large Size Composite propellant); the main motor, tested to 40 km on 2009 Dec 17 from Serrezuela, is 0.32m dia 2.5m long. The new vehicle appears to have a booster stage of the same diameter; it is 7.7m long 0.32m dia and has a total mass of 933 kg.
I am informed that the Chibis-M satellite was not in fact carried on Progress M-11M - apologies for the error.
Table of Recent (orbital) Launches