Jonathan's Space Report, No. 700

Status Report From: Jonathan's Space Report
Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jonathan's Space Report No. 700 2014 Aug 12 Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 40 is continuing with ISS in a 410 x 419 km x 51.7 deg orbit. ISS Commander is Steve Swanson (NASA); flight engineers are FE-1 Aleksandr Skvortsov (Roskosmos), FE-2 Oleg Artemev (Roskosmos), FE-4 Max Suraev (Roskosmos), FE-5 Reid Wiseman (NASA), FE-6 Alexander Gerst (ESA).

The past month has seen extensive activity with cargo ships:
- The SS Janice Voss cargo freighter, on flight Orb-2, has arrived at the ISS. The SSRMS arm grappled it at 1036 UTC on Jul 16 and berthed it on the Harmony module at 1253 UTC.

- Progress M-23M undocked from the Pirs module at 2144 UTC on Jul 21 and carried out 10 days of independent operations as part of the Radar-Progress experiment program. It was deorbited on Jul 31, with an engine burn over Russia at 2151 UTC lowering the orbit from 351 x 417 km to 58 x 413 km, leading to reentry at 2230 UTC and debris impact at 2243 UTC in the South Pacific.

- Progress M-24M (vehicle 423) was launched on Jul 23 on flight 56P into a 189 x 204 km orbit; it docked with the Pirs module at 0331 UTC Jul 24.

- ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle 5 'Georges Lemaitre' was launched on Jul 29 and arrived at the ISS on Aug 12, docking with Zvezda at 1330 UTC. Launch mass of ATV 5 was 19926 kg.


A SpaceX Falcon 9 flew to a 614 x 749 km x 47.0 deg orbit on Jul 14 to deploy a set of six VHF messaging relay satellites for Orbcomm. The second stage carried two ESPA rings (developed for EELV auxilary payloads) each carrying four slots for the 172 kg satellites; the two extra slots were filled with mass dummies which remained attached.

The Falcon 9 first stage made a flyback maneuver and deployed landing legs as part of engineering tests for future recovery; the stage was destroyed as it landed on the ocean.


Foton-M No. 4 was launched from Baykonur on Jul 18 by a Soyuz-2-1A into a 252 x 552 km x 64.9 deg orbit. This Foton-M, while retaining the Vostok spherical cabin, uses the new extended length service module (probably derived from the Yantar' series?). Microgravity and life sciences experiments are on board; life science speciments include geckos and tardigrades; I don't know the specific species of gecko used. The return capsule includes samples exposed on the exterior for reentry studies.

On Jul 24 it was revealed that the satellite was not responding to ground commands, although it continued to send back telemetry. Control was later reported to have been regained, but a scheduled orbit raise burn was cancelled and on Aug 12 the orbit was still 250 x 542 km.

Nicolas Pillet points out that this mission is the first 34KSM Foton-M spacecraft; the previous three missions, although named Foton-M, were spacecraft number 13 to 15 in the original 34KS Foton series.


Cassini completed the T-103 flyby of Titan at 1042 UTC Jul 20. Closest approach was 5103 km above that world. Cassini is now in a 909900 x 2852000 km x 48.0 deg orbit around Saturn, and reached apoapsis (apochronon) 208 on Aug 3.


ISEE-3 continues to approach its lunar flyby as the Reboot Project begins science operations with it. The probe's propulsion system is not working and attempts to recapture the satellite in the Earth-Moon system have been abandoned.

ISEE-3 was in a 0.927 x 1.035 AU x 0.1 deg orbit around the Sun before its Earth approach; the burn in early July did not significantly affect this. It entered the Earth's sphere of influence on Aug 3 on a 42.5 deg inclination trajectory and will pass through a 178400 km perigee on Aug 9 before entering the lunar sphere of influence at about 1015 UTC Aug 10. Perilune is 15938 km  at 1927 UTC Aug 10; ISEE-3 will leave the Earth-Moon system on Aug 14, passing the L1 radius on Aug 17 and entering a 1.012 x 1.190 AU x 1.17 deg solar orbit, having increased its solar orbital period by 66.9 days to 422 days. (Data calculated from the ephemeris on JPL HORIZONS).


United Launch Alliance launched a Delta 4 rocket on Jul 28 with three payloads. GSSAP 1 and 2, built by Orbital for US Air Force Space Command, will catalog satellites and space debris in geostationary orbit. ANGELS is a smaller satellite, around 70 kg, for the Air Force
Research Lab and will make observations of the Delta rocket's second stage at ranges from 50 km down to a few km, for further development of satellite inspection technology. The exact orbit of the satellites is not known but is probably a few hundred km below GEO.

GPS 68

Global Positioning System space vehicle 68 was launched from Cape Canaveral on Aug 2 aboard an Atlas V 401 (serial AV-048). The mission, flight GPS IIF-7 'Capella', reached a 167 x 20260 km x 55 deg transfer orbit at 0340 UTC. A second Centaur burn at 0640 UTC circularized the orbit, which on Aug 12 was 20450 x 20478 km x 55.0 deg.

Asiasat 8

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 on Aug 5 carrying the Asiasat 8 satellite for Asiasat of Hong Kong. The Loral LS-1300LL satellite has a 4535 kg mass at separation (thanks to Asiasat for this data) and uses an R-4D bipropellant thruster to reach GEO. The first R-4D burn on Aug 6 raised the orbit from 180 x 35762 km x 24.3 deg to 7137 x 35751 km x 10.7 deg.
By Aug 11 the satellite was in a 35725 x 35732 km x 0.1 deg orbit drifting east over 104E.

Yaogan 20

China launched a CZ-4C rocket from Jiuquan on Aug 9 and deployed a cluster of three Yaogan satellites into a 1086 x 1103 km x 63.4 deg orbit. This triplet is the fourth in a series; previous triplet clusters were Yaogan 9, 16 and 17. They are thought to be analogous to the old US NOSS/PARCAE ocean surveillance system.


Canopus Systems is an independent affiliate of Dauria Aerospace, not a subsidiary. Thanks to Tomas Svitek for the clarification.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.

Jul 2 0956 OCO-2 Delta 7320 Vandenberg SLC2W Science 35A
Jul 3 1243 Gonets-M No. 18 ) Rokot Plesetsk LC133/4 Comms 36A
Gonets-M No. 19 ) Comms 36B
Gonets-M No. 20 ) Comms 36C
Jul 8 1558 Meteor-M No. 2 ) Soyuz-2-1B/Fregat Baykonur LC31 Weather 37A
Relek ) Space sci 37B
TDS-1 ) Tech 37H
SkySat-2 ) Imaging 37D
DX-1 ) Tech 37C
AISSAT-2 ) Comms AIS 37G
UKube-1 ) Tech 37F
Jul 10 1855 O3b No. 3 ) Soyuz ST-B/Fregat CSG ELS Comms 38D
O3b No. 6 ) Comms 38C
O3b No. 7 ) Comms 38B
O3b No. 8 ) Comms 38A
Jul 13 1652 SS Janice Voss Antares 120 Wallops MARS LA0 Cargo 39A
Jul 14 1515 Orbcomm OG2-3 ) Falcon 9 v1.1 Canaveral SLC40 Comms 40F
Orbcomm OG2-4 ) Comms 40E
Orbcomm OG2-6 ) Comms 40C
Orbcomm OG2-7 ) Comms 40B
Orbcomm OG2-9 ) Comms 40A
Orbcomm OG2-11 ) Comms 40D
Jul 18 2050 Foton-M No. 4 Soyuz-2-1A Baykonur LC31 Micrograv 41A
Jul 23 2144 Progress M-24M Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 42A
Jul 28 2328 GSSAP-1 ) Delta 4M+(4,2) Canaveral SLC37B Tracking 43A
GSSAP-2 ) Tracking 43B
ANGELS ) Tracking 43C
Jul 29 2347 Georges Lemaitre Ariane 5ES Kourou ELA3 Cargo 44A
Aug 2 0323 GPS 68 Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Navigation 45A
Aug 5 0800 Asiasat 8 Falcon 9 v1.1 Canaveral SLC40 Comms 46A
Aug 9 0545 Yaogan 20 Sat 1 ) Chang Zheng 4C Jiuquan Sigint 47A
Yaogan 20 Sat 2 ) Sigint 47B
Yaogan 20 Sat 3 ) Sigint 47C

Suborbital missions

Reports from northern China suggest a missile test of some kind occured on Jul 10 but this
has not been confirmed. However China did carry out a missile defense test on Jul 23.

Japan's JAXA agency launched an S-310 rocket on Aug 4 to carry out an engineering study of cryogenic fluid flow for future rocket stages.

A solar EUV spectrometer package, the Degradation Free Spectrometers payload, flew on NASA 36.289 from White Sands on Jul 22.

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Jul 9 1200 Dummy satellite Angara-1.2PP Plesetsk LC35/1 Test 188
Jul 12 1620 Hwasong 6 RV? Hwasong 6? Chiha? Test 100?
Jul 12 1620 Hwasong 6 RV? Hwasong 6? Chiha? Test 100?
Jul 22 1910 NASA 36.289US Black Brant IX White Sands Solar EUV 320
Jul 23 Target Unknown Jiuquan? Test? 100?
Jul 23 Interceptor Unknown Korla? Test? 100?
Aug 4 1400 S-310-43 S-310 Uchinoura Technology 117

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