Jonathan's Space Report No. 685 2013 Sep 11

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Jonathan's Space Report
No. 685 2013 Sep 11, Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 36 was completed on Sep 10. The crew were commander Pavel Vinogradov,
Flight Engineers FE-2 Alexandr Misurkin, FE-3 Chris Cassidy, FE-4
Yurchikin, FE-5 Parmitano and FE-6 Nyberg. Expedition 37, which began after
the undocking of Soyuz TMA-08M from the Poisk module at 2335 UTC Sep 10,
is under the command of Fyodor Yurchikin with Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg as
flight engineers.

Ferry ship Soyuz TMA-09M is at Rassvet. Cargo ship ATV-4 is at the Zvezda module.

On Aug 25 two of the NASA payload packages on the HTV-4 EP pallet were
due moved to their storage sites using the SSRMS robot arm. The Main Bus
Switching Unit (MBSU) is now on External Stowage Platform 2, and the
Utility Transfer Assembly is on Express Logistics Carrier 4. The final
package, USAF/USN Space Test Program H4, was moved to ELC1 on Aug
27. The old STP-H3 payload was moved from ELC3 to the EP pallet
on Aug 28.

Japan's HTV 4 was unberthed from Harmony at 1207 UTC Sep 4 and released by the
Canadarm at 1620 UTC. Later on Sep 4 its orbit was lowered
from 408 x 411 km to 188 x 407 km. Early on Sep 7 it began lowering
its orbit further, with burns at 0007 and 0137 UTC reaching a
151 x 408 km orbit; a final burn during a descending pass over
Japan at 0611 UTC resulted in an orbit around -10 x 407 km, with
reentry and burnup over the South Pacific around 41 deg S at 0637 UTC.

After undocking from Poisk, Soyuz TMA-08M made its deorbit burn at 0205
UTC. The BO and PAO modules were jettisoned at 0232 UTC and the SA
descent module containing Vinogradov, Misurkin and Cassidy touched down
safely in Kazakhstan at 0258 UTC after 166.3 days in space.

NRO L-65

A Delta 4 Heavy took off from Vandenberg AFB's Space Launch Complex 6 on
Aug 28, carrying a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance
Office. The payload is thought to be an imaging spy satellite of the
EIS/Enhanced CRYSTAL type (The recent leak of NRO budget documents refer
to a new Evolved Enhanced CRYSTAL program, but funding for this began in FY2012
which is a little recent for this launch to be part of it.)
The satellite entered a 254 x 999 km x 97.9 deg low polar sun-synchronous orbit,
with 0948 LT descending node, according to Ted Molczan's analysis of
hobbyist observations. The orbit was boosted to 259 x 1002 km on Aug 30.

Despite the secrecy of the launch, both payload and Delta rocket were
spotted by European observers Cees Bassa and Bjorn Gimle on the first
orbit. The launch was designated NROL-65; the payload has
the on-orbit cover name USA 245. The Delta rocket was not seen on the
second orbit, as expected - it was deorbited over the Pacific around
2005 UTC.

NRO Satellites

Leaked budget documents obtained by the Washington Post, and a longer
version published on, reveal the codenames of some NRO satellites.
My analysis on this can be found on a separate page,


An Ariane 5ECA placed two communications satellites in a 238 x 35777 km
x 3.5 deg geostationary transfer orbit on Aug 29. GSAT-7, also known as
Insat-4F, will provide communications for the Indian Navy. Eutelsat-25B,
also called Es'hail 1, is jointly owned by Eutelsat SA of Paris and
Es'hailsat. Es'hailsat is a spinoff of ictQATAR, the Qatari Supreme
Council of Information and Communications Technology. The satellite's
name means Canopus (the star Alpha Car).

The EPC 570 core stage flew a -969 x 161 km x 6.5 deg trajectory
across the Atlantic and reentered; the ESC-A upper stage made a single burn
to the lower inclination transfer orbit. The flight used launch vehicle L570
and the mission was designated VA215.

On Sep 10 GSAT-7 was in a 35671 x 35792 km x 0.2 deg drifting east over 73E;
Es'hail was in a 35784 x 35788 km x 0.1 deg orbit on station at 31.7E.


A Land Launch Zenit-3M rocket (also known as Zenit-3SLB) took flight
from Baykonur on Aug 31. The rocket consists of the two-stage Yuzhnoe Zenit-2SB
with an Energiya Blok DM-SLB upper stage. Payload for this mission
was the Israeli AMOS-4 satellite for the Spacecom company of Tel Aviv.

This was the first Zenit launch since the Feb 1 Sea Launch failure.
The Blok DM-SLB put AMOS-4 in a 2861 x 35842 km x 26.9 deg geostationary
transfer orbit. On Sep 10 it was in a 35577 x 35801 km x 0.1 deg orbit drifting
eastward past 60E.

AMOS 4 was built by IAI-MBT and has a mass of 3400 kg, much more than previous
AMOS satellites. Its physical dimensions have not been released but
the bus is probably around 5.0 x 2.5m with a span across the two solar arrays
in the 12 to 15 meter range.

The Zenit second stage flew a suborbital trajectory and its reentry just northeast
of Vladivostok was widely observed in the region.

Yaogan Weixing 17

China launched a triplet of satellites on Sep 1 into a 1083 x 1116 km x
63.4 deg orbit. The satellites are believed to operate like the old US
PARCAE/NOSS system, in which a group of loosely formation-flying
spacecraft locate radio emitters using the difference in time of arrival
of the radio signals at the different satellites.

The satellites are called `yaogan weixing shiqi hao' (Resource Satellite No. 17).
The Yaogan Weixing 9 and Yaogan Weixing 16 triplets are part of the same


The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Enviroment Explorer mission was launched
on Sep 7. Despite the Explorer in the name, the mission is the first of
the new Lunar Quest series rather than part of the long standing
Explorer program. The spacecraft is 383 kg full 248 kg dry, and
is developed and operated by NASA's Ames Research Center near San Jose,
California. The Minotaur V rocket took off from the Mid Atlantic Regional
Spaceport on Wallops Island and inserted LADEE into highly elliptical Earth

The Minotaur V consisted of the first three stages of the MX Peacekeeper
missile, and a guidance and control section, with ATK Star 48V and Star
37FM solid motors as fourth and fifth stages. The addition of the fifth
stage distinguishes it from the Minotaur IV+ used to launch Tacsat 4.
The third stage flew a suborbital trajectory with the fourth stage
reaching orbit at 0335 UTC, probably around 200 x 800 km - it has not
yet been tracked. After a coast in this parking orbit until 0343 UTC,
the Star 37FM fired to reach an orbit expected to be about 200 x 274600
km x 37.7 deg. Two despin weights were released at 0348 UTC and LADEE
separated at 0350 UTC. After several days the orbit will naturally
evolve to raise the perigee to more than 1000 km. LADEE should reach
first perigee on Sep 13 around 1638 UTC at which point it will be in a
2060 x 278649 km x 35.4 deg orbit. A perigee manuever scheduled for
around that time will raise the apogee, making the orbit 2540 x 324900
km x 34.2 deg. A further orbit change on Sep 21 will push apogee to
lunar distance, around 370000 km, and the probe will approach the Moon
on Oct 6.

LADEE carries an ultraviolet spectrometer, a lunar dust experiment, a
neutral mass spectrometer, and a laser communications experiment. It has
an Aerojet Rocketdyne/Redmond R-4D-15 HiPAT 455N thruster for lunar
orbit insertion and orbit manoeuvers.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.

Jul 1 1811 IRNSS-1A PSLV-XL Sriharikota LP1 Navigation 34A
Jul 2 0238 Glonass-M No. 48 ) Proton-M/DM-03 Baykonur LC81/24 Navigation F02
Glonass-M No. 49 ) Navigation F02
Glonass-M No. 50 ) Navigation F02
Jul 15 0927 SJ-11-05 Chang Zheng 2C Jiuquan Early Warn 35A
Jul 19 1300 MUOS 2 Atlas V 551 Canaveral SLC41 Comms 36A
Jul 19 2337 Shi Jian 15 ) Chang Zheng 4C Taiyuan Tech 37C
Shiyan 7 ) Surveill. 37A
Chuangxin 3 ) Tech 37B
Jul 25 1954 Alphasat ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 38A
Insat 3D ) Comms 38B
Jul 27 2045 Progress M-20M Soyuz-U Baykonur LC31 Cargo 39A
Aug 3 1948 Konoutori 4 H-IIB Tanegashima LP2 Cargo 40A
Aug 8 0029 WGS 6 Delta 4M+(5,4) Canaveral SLC37 Comms 41A
Aug 22 1439 Arirang-5 Dnepr Yasniy Sh370/13 Imaging 42A
Aug 28 1803 USA 245 Delta 4H Vandenberg SLC6 Imaging 43A
Aug 29 2030 Es'hail 1 ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 44A
GSAT-7 ) Comms 44B
Aug 31 2005 AMOS 4 Zenit-3M Baykonur LC45 Comms 45A
Sep 1 1916 Yaogan 17 ) Chang Zheng 4C Jiuquan LC603 SIGINT 46A
YW-17 subsat 1) SIGINT 46B
YW-17 subsat 2) SIGINT 46C
Sep 7 0327 LADEE Minotaur V Wallops I. LA0B Lunar probe 47A

Suborbital launches

The Israeli Defense Forces launched the first Silver Sparrow target missile on a suborbital
flight from an F-15 airplane over the Mediterranean Sea on Sep 3 eastward towards
the Israeli coast, for tests of Israeli missile defense radars. Apogees of the missile
and of its separated reentry vehicle are not known, but are thought to be higher
than those of the precursor Blue Sparrow vehicle which was itself exoatmospheric.
The flight's detection by Russian tracking systems led to some initial public consternation
until the mission was acknowledged by Israel.

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Jul 4 1431 NASA 21.140GE Black Brant V Wallops I. Ionosphere 135?
Jul 4 1431 NASA 41.090GE Terrier Imp. Orion Wallops I. Ionosphere 160?
Jul 5 1829? FTG-07 Target? LV-2? Kwajalein Target 1000?
Jul 5 1835 FTG-07 CE-I EKV GBI Vandenberg Intercept 1000?
Jul 12 Jericho RV Jericho III Palmachim R&D test 300?
Jul 15 0553 MAPHEUS 4 VS-30 ESRANGE,Kiruna Micrograv 151
Jul 20 0200 S-310-42 S-310 Uchinoura Atmos sci 139
Jul 20 0257 S-520-27 S-520 Uchinoura Atmos sci 316
Aug 8 1810 NASA 36.239DS Black Brant IX White Sands Solar UV 280
Aug 12 0345 Prithvi RV Prithvi II Chandipur Training 100?
Aug 13 1000 Rocksat-X Terrier Imp. Mal. Wallops I Education 151
Aug 15 PAC-3 Target Juno? Ft Wingate? Target 100?
Sep 3 0616 Radar target Silver Sparrow F-15, Med. Sea Target 150?

// end //

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