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Fwd: Jonathan's Space Report, No. 547

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  • Frits Westra
    Jonathan s Space Report No. 547 2005 May 8, Somerville, MA ... Space Station ... The Soyuz TMA-6 spaceship was
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2005
      Jonathan's Space Report
      No. 547 2005 May 8, Somerville, MA

      Space Station

      The Soyuz TMA-6 spaceship was launched from Baykonur on Apr 15 at 0046 UTC
      on the Soyuz-FG No. 14 launch vehicle. It entered orbit
      at 0055 UTC and docked with the Station's Pirs module at 0220 UTC on Apr
      Commander is Sergey Krikalyov of Russia; Flight engineer-2 is John
      Phillips of NASA. Together they make up the Space Station's Expedition
      11. After docking Krikalyov became the Station commander and
      Phillips became the Station flight engineer and Science Officer.
      Soyuz flight engineer-1 was Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency,
      on the ENEIDE mission, designated EP-8 (visiting crew 8).

      It's interesting to note that Russia has managed a very regular launch
      schedule to the Station since 2000, with launches every April and
      October (the April 2000 launch was the last flight to Mir, and was
      followed by the first Soyuz flight to ISS in Oct 2000).

      (Note: Soyuz TMA is the kind of spacecraft that docked to the Station;
      its mass is around 7 tonnes. Soyuz FG is the kind of rocket that
      launched the Soyuz TMA, with a mass of around 300 tonnes. AP said "A
      Russian Soyuz-FG rocket carrying two astronauts and a cosmonaut arrived
      at the international space station Saturday night" - this is a goof,
      although I admit it's confusing that the spaceship and its launch
      vehicle have similar names.)

      Soyuz TMA-5 landed with Sharipov, Chiao and Vittori on Apr 24 at 2207:27
      UTC, after undocking from Zarya at 1845 UTC and a deorbit burn at 2117
      UTC. The crew landed on muddy ground in Kazakhstan at 51 03N 67 18E.

      The Expedition 11 crew of Krikalyov and Phillips were expecting to greet
      the STS-114 Shuttle crew in only a few weeks, but the Shuttle's return
      to flight has been delayed until at least July while new ice
      countermeasures are added to the External Tank. After further tests at
      the pad, the Shuttle will be rolled back to the VAB and removed from the
      ET-120/RSRM-90 stack, probably to be assembled instead to the
      ET-121/RSRM-91 stack originally planned for STS-121.


      NASA's DART (Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology) mission
      began on Apr 15 with the 1627 UTC takeoff of Orbital's L-1011 Stargazer
      aircraft from Vandenberg. At 1726:50, passing through the drop box at
      123W 36N, the airplane dropped its Pegasus XL cargo and five seconds
      later the Pegasus XL first stage ignited on its way to space. At 1736
      UTC the Orion 38 solid motor third stage completed its burn at about 500
      km altitude and entered orbit. The DART spacecraft is built around the
      Pegasus HAPS hydrazine-fuelled fourth stage, which fired at 1738 UTC to
      raise apogee to around 760 km (orbital data from prelaunch estimates).
      DART, which is controlled autonomously by on-board software with no
      ground commands, made rendezvous with the MUBLCOM satellite at about
      0400 UTC on Apr 16. The plan was to stationkeep within a few meters but
      not make physical contact. Initial reports said DART closed to within
      100m, but then detected that it was running unexpectedly low on
      propellant and backed off from the target to end its mission
      prematurely. Alarmingly, it now seems that DART collided gently with
      MUBLCOM, changing its orbit by a tiny amount. It's still not clear if
      this was a physical collision, or the effect of DART's rocket plume
      hitting MUBLCOM. Tracking data show MUBLCOM in a 739 x 749 km orbit
      prior to the rendezvous and 741 x 750 km afterwards. In any case, this
      is bad news for the robotic rendezvous tech, as you want to avoid
      unwanted collisions above all - software should have aborted the
      approach if there was a chance of hitting the target. After the mission,
      DART's HAPS stage fired again on Apr 18 to lower its orbit to 394 x 746


      Boeing Sea Launch orbited the Spaceway communications satellite on Apr
      26. The 6080 kg Spaceway 1, owned by DirecTV, carries 48 high-frequency
      Ka-band transponders for data transmission and television broadcasting.
      The satellite was placed in a slightly subsynchronous transfer orbit of
      261 x 34097 km x 0.02 deg. In an unusual orbital strategy, Spaceway has
      used a mixture of perigee and apogee burns to reach a 17-hour elliptical
      orbit of 10507 x 45519 km x 0.13 deg by May 6; presumably it will
      circularize once the period has been raised to 24 hours.

      NRO satellite

      A classified NRO satellite was launched by Lockheed's Titan IV B-30 from
      Cape Canaveral on Apr 30. Analysts have suggested it is a radar imaging
      satellite, the fifth in the LACROSSE/ONYX series built by Lockheed
      Martin/Denver. The satellite has been observed in a 481 x 705 km x 57.0
      deg orbit by hobbyists from Toronto to Moscow, and the launch was
      visible to many along the east coast of the US. The satellite used its
      onboard propulsion system to circularize the orbit at 712 x 718 km x
      57.0 deg early on May 4.

      The Titan core's first stage fell in the ocean off Newfoundland, safely
      missing the Hibernia oil platform whose proximity to the planned impact
      zone had triggered controversy about the launch in Canada.


      India's PSLV-C6 put its Cartosat-1 mapping satellite in orbit on May 5.
      The satellite has 2.5-meter resolution cameras.
      The launch inaugurated a second PSLV pad at the Satish Dhawan Launch
      Center on Sriharikota Island. HAMSAT, or VUSAT, is a small secondary
      amateur satellite from AMSAT-VU, the Indian branch of the amateur
      satellite organization. The satellites are in a 609 x 646 km
      x 97.9 deg orbit. The PS4 final stage is in a 607 x 717 km x 97.8 deg
      orbit following its depletion burn, together with two small debris

      Table of Recent Launches

      Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission

      Apr 11 1335 XSS-11 Minotaur Vandenberg SLC8
      Tech 11A
      Apr 12 1200 Apstar 6 CZ-3B Xichang
      Comms 12A
      Apr 15 0046 Soyuz TMA-6 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1
      Spaceship 13A
      Apr 15 1726 DART Pegasus XL/HAPS Vandenberg
      Tech 14A
      Apr 26 0731 Spaceway 1 Zenit-3SL Odyssey
      Comms 15A
      Apr 30 0050 USA 182? Titan 4B Canaveral SLC40
      Radar? 16A
      May 5 0445 Cartosat ) PSLV SDLC SLP
      Imaging 17A
      HAMSAT )
      Comms 17B

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