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Jonathan's Space Report No. 666 2012 Sep 5

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2012

International Space Station ----------------------------

On the ISS, Expedition 32 continues with astronauts Gennadiy Padalka, Sergey Revin, Joseph Acaba, Yuriy Malenchenko, Sunita Willams and Akihiko Hoshide.

On Aug 30 astronauts Williams and Hoshide made spacewalk US EVA-18 from the Quest airlock using spacesuits EMU 3011 and 3015, to attempt replacement of a failed Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) on the S0 truss. The S0 carries four MBSUs designated MBSU-1 to MBSU-4; two spares are stored on the ESP-2 pallet outside the Quest module. One spare was delivered on STS-114 and a second on STS-120; they don't have publicly known serial numbers. The failed MBSU-1 was removed from S0 and stowed temporarily at ESP2; the STS-114 spare was removed from ESP-2 and moved to S0, becoming the 'new MBSU-1'. However, a problematic bolt stopped the astronauts completing the installation. They left the new MBSU-1 partly bolted to S0 and returned to the airlock, leaving the Station with two of its eight large solar arrays out of the main station power loop.

Quest was depressurized for EVA-18 at about 1205 UTC on Aug 30, with an EVA duration of 8h28m (depress/repress), 8h17m (NASA rule), 8h14m (hatch open/close).

On Sep 5 Williams and Hoshide tried again on US EVA-19. After problems with EMU 3015 on EVA-18, this time the duo used spacesuits EMU 3010 and 3011 respectively. The astronauts removed the new MBSU-1, with some difficulty unjamming the critical bolt, and then spent an hour using several techniques to clean out metal shavings and foreign matter from the bolt. Between 1522 and 1550 UTC the installation of the new MBSU-1 was successfully carried out, and station power was mostly restored, although in the meantime the failure of the DSCU-3A box has taken down another of the arrays. The astronauts then replaced a CLPA camera on the SSRMS robot arm and returned to the airlock. The old MBSU-1 remains in its `temporary' stowage location on ESP-2.

Quest was depressurized at 1101 UTC Sep 5 for a duration of 6h33m (depress/repress), 6h28m (NASA rule), 6h25m (Hatch open/close).

I was wrong about some of the debris panel numbers in the last JSR: my current best understanding is:

 Bundle  Panels      Launch              Stored outside ISS: EVA   Installed    EVA
 1      1-3,6-8      2002 Jun  5 STS-111 2002 Jun  9, PMA-1 111/1  2002 Aug 16  VKD-7
 2   11,13-15,18,19  2006 Dec 10 STS-116 2006 Dec 16, PMA-3 116/3  
                                         2007 May 30, Zvez. VKD-18 2007 Jun  6  VKD-19
 3   10,16,17,21-23  2006 Dec 10 STS-116 2006 Dec 16, PMA-3 116/3  
                                         2007 May 30, Zvez. VKD-18 2007 Jun  6  VKD-19
 4   4,5,9,12,20     2006 Dec 10 STS-116 2006 Dec 16, PMA-3 116/3  2007 May 30  VKD-18
 5       24-26       2012 Jan 25 M-14M   -                         2012 Aug 20  VKD-31
 6       27-28       2012 Jan 25 M-14M   -                         2012 Aug 20  VKD-31

RBSP ----

NASA's two Radiation Belt Storm Probes were launched on Aug 30. Atlas V's Centaur AV-032 entered a 167 x 600 km x 25.5 deg parking orbit at 0819 UTC, and a second burn at 0915 UTC raised the orbit and lowered inclination for deployment of RBSP-A in a 597 x 30645 km x 10.0 deg orbit at 0924 UTC. After a small orbit adjust burn by Centaur AV-032, RBSP-B was deployed at 0936 UTC in a 601 x 30709 km x 10.0 deg orbit. A further orbit adjust at about 0948 UTC put the Centaur in a -220 x 36062 km x 10.3 deg orbit, and it reentered over the Atlantic at about 1940 UTC.

The almost-identical RBSP satellites have a mass of 658 kg full, and will deploy a series of booms include electric field antennae spanning 100 meters. The instruments study energetic particles, thermal plasma, ionospheric composition and electromagnetic fields and waves. The principal investigator for one experiment, the relativistic proton spectrometer, is at the National Reconnaissance Office, and NRO put out a press release explaining why operational agencies care about good radiation belt models too - all true, but I suspect it might be just that they want their tame in-house space physicist to have some research time to keep his hand in.

Vesta and Ceres ---------------

Dawn escaped Vesta's gravity at 0626 UTC on Sep 5 and is now in solar orbit on its way to Ceres, which it should reach in 2015.

Mars ----

The Curiosity landing site in Gale Crater has been named `Bradbury Landing' after writer Ray Bradbury (1920-2012).

Earth ------

On Aug 24 Neil A. Armstrong died of complications from heart surgery in Columbus, Ohio, a few weeks after his 82nd birthday. Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio in 1930. After flying 78 missions as a US Navy pilot in the Korean War he joined the NACA research agency which became NASA in 1958 and made four flights in the X-1B rocket plane in 1957-58. In Apr 1962, while a NASA civilian test pilot at the Flight Research Center at Edwards, Armstrong became a mesonaut, flying the X-15-3 rocketplane into the Earth's mesosphere on flights 3-3-7 and 3-4-8, reaching apogees of 55 and 63 km. He then joined the NASA astronaut office in Houston and after serving as backup commander for Gemini 5 flew in space in March 1966 as commander of the historic Gemini 8 mission which saw the first orbital docking and the first emergency orbital spin recovery and return to Earth. After two more backup slots on Gemini 11 and Apollo 8, his second and last spaceflight was as commander of Apollo 11. On 1969 July 19 the Apollo 11 crew of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins became the 7th, 8th and 9th humans to leave Earth's gravitational sphere of influence and enter the Moon's; on July 20 Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on another world, as Armstrong brought LM-5 Eagle to a manual landing with only 20 seconds of fuel left. On July 21 Armstrong was the first human to walk on the lunar surface. In 1971 he left NASA and returned to Ohio where he taught aeronautics for several years.

Of the 24 humans who have left Earth's gravitational sphere of influence, 17 remain alive today.

Mesonauts ----------

The mesosphere is the highest layer of the Earth's atmosphere that isn't really `outer space', and lies between the stratopause at 50 km and the mesopause at the base of the exosphere - `true 'space - at around 80-90 km, although I adopt 80 km as a good reference value. Starting with Ham and Yuriy Gagarin, 2 pan troglodytes and 533 humans have passed that 80 km exospheric boundary and become space travellers; they zipped through the mesosphere on the way. 11 humans - the `mesonauts' - have made flights that got as far as the mesosphere but not the exosphere. 10 of those eleven mesonauts later went on to make higher `astronaut' flights. Only 3 of the 11 are alive today. Here are details of the first mesospheric flights of the mesonauts as well as their their first exospheric flights.

  Mesonaut                     1st MesoFlight  km   Date         NMeso  Spaceflight (Exoflight)
1  Joe Walker       (1921-1966) X-15 2-14-28    52   1961 Mar 30  6      X-15 3-14-24   1963 Jan 17
2  Robert White     (1924-2010  X-15 2-20-36    66   1961 Oct 11  3      X-15 3-7-14    1962 Jul 10
3  Neil Armstrong   (1930-2012) X-15 3-3-7      55   1962 Apr  5  2      Gemini 8       1966 Mar 16
4  Robert Rushworth (1924-1993) X-15 3-19-30    68   1963 Jun 18  3      X-15 3-20-31   1963 Jun 27
5  Joe Engle        (1932-    ) X-15 1-46-73    53   1964 Apr  8  5      X-15 3-44-67   1965 Jun 29
6  Milton Thompson  (1926-1993) X-15 1-54-88    54   1965 May 25  2
7  Jack McKay       (1922-1975) X-15 2-40-72    65   1965 Jul  8  7      X-15 3-49-73   1965 Sep 28
8  Pete Knight      (1929-2004) X-15 2-46-83    58   1966 Jul 21  7      X-15 3-64-95   1967 Oct 17
9  William Dana     (1930-    ) X-15 3-54-80    54   1966 Aug 19  6      X-15 3-56-83   1966 Nov  1
10 Mike Adams       (1930-1967) X-15 1-71-121   51   1967 Apr 28  2      X-15 3-65-97   1967 Nov 15
11 Mike Melvill     (1940-    ) SS1 56L/14P     64   2004 May 13  1      SS1-60L/15P    2004 Jun 21
                                                                ---
          
44

John B. 'Jack' McKay and William 'Pete' Knight made the most mesoflights, 7 each.

The Twenty-Four ------------------

This might also be a good moment to review and salute the Twenty-Four - the first, and so far only, humans to leave Earth for another gravity well (in the Hill sphere/sphere of influence sense):

Frank F. Borman II, Col. USAF Ret.              (1928-   )  Apollo 8     
James A. Lovell, Jr., LtGen USAF Ret.           (1928-   )  Apollo 8,13 
William A. Anders, MajGen USAF Ret.             (1933-   )  Apollo 8    
Thomas P. Stafford, LtGen USAF Ret.             (1930-   )  Apollo 10   
Eugene A. Cernan, Capt USN Ret.                 (1934-   )  Apollo 10,17
John W. Young, Capt USN Ret.                    (1930-   )  Apollo 10,16 
Neil A. Armstrong, Lt USNR Ret.                 (1930-2012) Apollo 11    
Edwin E. 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr, Ph.D.,Col USAF Ret. (1930-    ) Apollo 11
Michael Collins, BrigGen USAF Ret.              (1930-    ) Apollo 11
Charles 'Pete' Conrad, Jr, Capt USN Ret.        (1930-1999) Apollo 12
Alan L. Bean, Capt USN Ret.                     (1932-    ) Apollo 12
Richard F. Gordon, Jr,, Capt USN Ret.           (1929-    ) Apollo 12
Fred W. Haise Jr., USMC Ret.                    (1933 -   ) Apollo 13      
John 'Jack' L. Swigert, Jr., USAF Ret.          (1931-1982) Apollo 13
Alan B. Shepard, Jr, RAdm USN Ret.              (1923-1998) Apollo 14
Edgar D. Mitchell, Ph.D., Capt USN Ret.         (1930-    ) Apollo 14
Stuart A. Roosa, Col USAF. Ret.                 (1933-1994) Apollo 14
David R. Scott, Col USAF Ret.                   (1932-    ) Apollo 15
James B. Irwin, Col USAF Ret.                   (1930-1991) Apollo 15
Alfred M. Worden, Col USAF Ret.                 (1932-    ) Apollo 15
Charles M. Duke, Jr., BrigGen USAF Ret.         (1935-    ) Apollo 16
Thomas Ken Mattingly II, RAdm USN Ret.          (1936-    ) Apollo 16
Harrison H. 'Jack' Schmitt, Ph.D., Sen. (R-NM)  (1935-    ) Apollo 17
Ronald E. Evans, Jr., Capt USN Ret.             (1933-1990) Apollo 17

Suborbital flights ------------------

It has been reported that China carried out a test launch of a missile on Jul 24. A media report by W. Gertz claimed that it was a new longer-range DF-41 ICBM but it is unclear if there is any evidence for this; I will record it as an unknown missile for the time being.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches ----------------------------------

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
                                                                         DES.
Jul  5 2136   Echostar 17  )     Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     35A
             Meteosat 10  )                                         Weather   35B
Jul  9 1838   SES-5              Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC81/24  Comms     36A
Jul 15 0240   Soyuz TMA-05M      Soyuz-FG          Baykonur LC1/5    Spaceship 37A
Jul 21 0206   Kounotori 3        H-IIB             Tanegashima LP2   Cargo     38A
Jul 22 0641   Kanopus-V )                                            Imaging   39
             BelKA-2   )        Soyuz-FG/Fregat   Baykonur LC31/6   Imaging   39
             TET-1     )                                            Tech      39D
             exactView-1)                                           Comms/AIS 39C
             MKA-PN1    )                                           Science   39E
Jul 25 1543   Tianlian-1 (03)    Chang Zheng 3C    Xichang           Comms     40A
Jul 28 0135   Gonets-M No. 13)   Rokot             Plesetsk LC133    Comms     41B
             Gonets-M No. 15)                                       Comms     41D
             Kosmos-2481 )                                          Comms     41A
             MiR         )                                          Sci       41C
Aug  1 1935   Progress M-16M     Soyuz-U           Baykonur LC1      Cargo     42A
Aug  2 2054   Intelsat IS-20 )   Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3       Comms     43A
             Hylas 2        )                                       Comms     43B
Aug  6 1931   Telkom-3    )      Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur LC81/24  Comms     44A
             Ekspress MD2)                                          Comms     44B
Aug 19 0655   Intelsat IS-21     Zenit-3SL         SL Odyssey, Pacific Comms   45A
Aug 20 1829   Sfera-53           -                 ISS, LEO          Sci       98-067CM
Aug 30 0805   RBSP A )           Atlas V 401       Canaveral SLC41   Sci       46A
             RBSP B )      
Sci 46B

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

----------------------------------

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

Jul  3        Shahab RV        Shahab 1           ?, Iran             Exercise     100?
Jul  3        Shahab RV        Shahab 2           ?, Iran             Exercise     100?
Jul  3        Shahab RV        Shahab 3           ?, Iran             Exercise     150?
Jul  5 1850   NASA 36.284NS    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Solar        275?
Jul 11 1850   NASA 36.272NS    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Solar        268
Jul 13 0436   Agni RV          Agni I             Chandipur           Test         200?
Jul 23 1101   NASA 39.011NR    Black Brant 11     Wallops             Reentry test 458
Jul 24        RV               DF-?               ?, China            Test        1000?
Jul 24 1917   NASA 36.263US    Black Brant 9      White Sands         Solar        324
Aug  7 0730   S-310-41         S-310              Uchinoura           Reentry test 150
Aug  9 0316   Agni RV          Agni II            Chandipur           Test         220?

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