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Fwd: Jonathan's Space Report, No. 534

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  • Frits Westra
    ... Jonathan s Space Report No. 534 2004 Sep 8, Somerville, MA ... Sender: owner-jsr@host.planet4589.org Precedence:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2004
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      Jonathan's Space Report
      No. 534 2004 Sep 8, Somerville, MA
      Sender: owner-jsr@...
      Precedence: bulk
      Reply-To: jcm@...@...

      * Fred Whipple

      Fred Whipple died on August 30 at the age of 97. Fred was a pioneer of
      the Space Age. He discovered his first comet in 1932; invented radar
      chaff countermeasures in World War II; suggested the `Whipple Shield'
      meteoroid bumpers now used on spacecraft in 1946; and developed the
      now-accepted 'dirty snowball' theory of comets in 1950. He was director
      of the Smithsonian Observatory (SAO) from 1955-1973 and led American
      optical tracking of Sputnik and the other early satellites. The
      Moonwatch program made SAO known worldwide as a source of information on
      satellites. Fred was scientifically active well into his 90s. Although
      after a bicycle accident when he was 89 he had stopped cycling into
      work, we often saw the car with the 'COMETS' licence plate parked
      outside. In recent years he was a member of the Contour comet mission
      science team. Fred arrived at Harvard (where SAO is now located) in
      1931; he cleared out his office only a few weeks ago and was still
      mentally sharp although physically frail. Fred was also well known for
      his sense of humour and approachability; we will miss him.

      * Nemesis for Genesis

      On Sep 8 the Genesis space probe became the first artifact to return
      from beyond lunar orbit to the Earth's surface. Unfortunately, the
      parachute system failed to deploy and the capsule hit the Utah desert at
      high speed. The capsule is embedded in the desert floor and is split
      open; it is not yet clear to what extent the solar wind samples have
      been ruined.

      After targeting maneuvers on Aug 9, Aug 29, and Sep 6, the Genesis
      Sample Return Capsule (SRC) separated from the Genesis spacecraft at
      around 1153 UTC on Sep 8, 66000 km above the Earth. At 1215 UTC the
      spacecraft made a small separation burn, burning up over the Pacific at
      around 1550 UTC. At 1555 UTC the SRC entered the atmosphere over Oregon
      at about 11 km/s (Earth-relative) and an angle of 8.25 degrees below the
      horizontal, giving an orbital perigee close to zero and an apogee around
      1.5 million km. The SRC's heat shield protected it through atmospheric
      entry. A mortar which was intended to release the drogue parachute at 33
      km high failed to fire and at 1558 UTC the tumbling SRC impacted the
      Dugway Proving Ground at the Utah Test and Training Range at 40 07 40N
      113 30 29W. Impact velocity was around 40 to 90 m/s, over 200 times
      slower than it was travelling a few minutes earlier but still more than
      enough to wreck the vehicle.

      * Space Station

      Astronauts Padalka and Fincke made a spacewalk on Sep 3 from the Pirs
      airlock module using Orlan suits M-25 and M-26. The Pirs was
      depressurized by 1621 UTC; hatch open was at 1643 UTC and hatch close at
      2204 UTC with repressurization beginning at 2206 UTC for a total of 5hr
      46min of depressurization time. They installed equipment on the Zarya
      and Zvezda modules. (Thanks once again to Andrey Krasil'nikov for timing
      data). The old 70 kg Zarya PIG container with the RRZh1 flow regular
      valve panel, removed at 1729 UTC, was jettisoned during the EVA at 2151
      UTC. Three more antennas were installed on Zvezda for rendezvous
      operations with the European ATV cargo ship; five antenna covers were
      ejected at around 2100 UTC, and at least two cleaning towels were
      jettisoned at 2110 UTC. A total of five objects have been cataloged
      by Space Command, at least one of which is probably the container.

      * Chinese satellite

      A new Chinese recoverable satellite was launched on Aug 29 by a CZ-2C
      rocket from the Jiuquan Space Center into a 165 x 490 km x 63.0 deg
      orbit. The satellite is one of the FSW series, and is expected to return
      a capsule to Earth after 27 days in space. I'm a bit surprised that it
      used the CZ-2C rather than the beefed-up CZ-2D which was used for the
      last three FSW launches. The CZ-2C was used for the older FSW-1 model,
      rather than the more modern FSW-2 and JB-4 models. However, Chen Lan has
      suggested that this CZ-2C is one of the stretched ones left over from
      the Iridium program, and may have a larger payload capacity. The new
      launch has the highest apogee of any FSW series flight; the satellite
      has not yet been given an official name by China.

      * Israeli launch failure

      The 'Ofeq-6 spy satellite failed to reach orbit on Sep 6.
      According to the Jerusalem Post, the third stage of the Shavit
      launch vehicle failed to operate and the payload fell in the
      Mediterranean. The launch time was reported as 1:53pm local,
      which I believe corresponds to 1053 UTC. The lower two stages
      separated and at 1102 UTC and 260 km high the AUS-51 third stage
      was meant to fire for 92s to put the satellite in a retrograde
      260 x 770 km x 143.5 deg orbit. (Most countries launch east to
      gain energy from the Earth's rotation; Israel launches west
      over the Med to avoid misunderstandings with its eastern neighbours.)
      Without the third stage burn, the vehicle was probably in
      a roughly -5700 x 260 km orbit and would have impacted around 1106 UTC,
      probably somewhere south of Crete.

      * Atlas Centaur IIAS AC-167

      AC-167, the final Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS, was launched on Aug 31 at
      2317 UTC, placing a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload in
      an elliptical orbit of around 400 x 40000 km x 63 deg at 0030 UTC on Sep 1.
      The payload is probably a communications satellite used to relay data
      from imaging spy satellites. The Centaur upper stage dumped its
      remaining fuel around 0100 UTC, creating a cloud which was spotted by
      amateur observers. The launch was given the codename NROL-1, and the
      USA 179 satellite is the second elliptical orbit NRO Atlas launch,
      following USA
      137 in Jan 1998. Two geostationary NRO Atlas launches, in Dec 2000 and
      Oct 2001, might be part of the same data relay satellite series.

      There were two unusual things about the Atlas missile, first launched in
      1957, at which time it was a product of Convair/San Diego (later
      GD/Astronautics, later Martin Marietta, finally LockMart; production was
      moved to the old Martin Titan plant in Denver during the 1990s). One was
      the stage-and-a-half construction of the MA-1 propulsion system (whose
      more recent versions were designated MA-2, MA-3 and finally today's
      MA-5), in which common propellant tanks were used to feed three
      engines, two of which were in a 'booster package' jettisoned two minutes
      into flight (this was actually only a dummy system in the 1957 Atlas A
      launches, and was first used for real on Atlas B in 1958). This gave
      high initial thrust, and let you get rid of some heavy machinery early
      on; the Atlas main 'sustainer' stage could reach orbit with a
      significant payload, as it did on Mercury missions like John Glenn's.
      The second unusual thing was the `balloon tank' of the sustainer stage.
      The stage has a very thin wall and must be kept pressurized at all times
      - using nitrogen when the stage isn't fuelled - or else it will crumple
      under its own weight, folding in half with spectacularly unwanted
      results (and indeed this was demonstrated on a couple of occasions.)
      Today was the last flight of the MA-5 stage-and-a-half propulsion
      system. There is one more flight scheduled for the balloon tank, AC-206
      in January - this Atlas 3 uses a Russian RD-180 engine instead of the
      MA-5, but still has many elements of the traditional Atlas. The Atlas 5
      now coming into service is really a completely different vehicle, with
      neither booster package nor balloon tank.

      Table of Recent Launches

      Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission

      Aug 3 0616 MESSENGER Delta 7925H Canaveral SLC17B
      Probe 30A
      Aug 4 2232 Amazonas Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39
      Comms 31A
      Aug 11 0503 Progress M-50 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1
      Cargo 32A
      Aug 29 0750 FSW CZ-2C Jiuquan
      Imaging 33A
      Aug 31 2317 USA 179 (NROL-1) Atlas IIAS Canaveral LC36A
      Comms? 34A
      Sep 6 1053 'Ofeq-6 Shaviyt Palmachim
      Imaging F01

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