Fwd: Jonathan's Space Report, No. 559
- Jonathan's Space Report
No. 559 2005 Dec 29, Somerville, MA
After a month without orbital launches, Dec 21 saw three orbital
launches on a single day (as well as a suborbital Russian submarine
missile launch). By Dec 29 Russia had launched eight satellites within
eight days, repeating a familiar Russian operational pattern of a late
November launch gap followed by a flurry of activity at the end of
December before the new year holiday.
The robot cargo spaceship Progress M No. 355 was launched as mission
Progress M-55, ISS flight 20P, on a Soyuz-U from Baykonur. The 7-tonne
craft docked with the Station's Pirs module at 1946 UTC on Dec 23.
The previous cargo craft, Progress M-54, will remain docked to the
Zvezda module until March. Soyuz TMA-7 is docked to Zarya.
A Gonets-D1M ('messenger') low orbit communications satellite was
launched on a light Kosmos-3M rocket on Dec 21 into a 1440 x 1450 km x
82.5 deg orbit. Gonets-D1M (or Gonets-M) is the civilian version of the
military Strela-3 low orbit communications constellation. The launch
also carried a military satellite called Rodnik, with cover name
Kosmos-2416. I don't know anything about Rodnik - the best guess is
that it is an upgrade of the Strela-3. The Strela-3, originally flown in
groups of six on the retired Tsiklon rocket, has been launched in pairs
on Kosmos-3M since 2002 to the same orbit, so it makes sense that this
is another pair of Strela-3 buses but with improved payloads.
Arianespace continues its string of successes with the launch of Ariane
vehicle 525, a standard (5GS) model with the EPS upper stage. It put
the Insat-4A and MSG-2 satellites in orbit. The EPC core stage reached
a 44 x 1702 km x 6.5 deg transatmospheric orbit and reentered
over the Pacific. The EPS stage made a single burn to 620 x 35853 km x 3.9
and released the two satellites and the Sylda adapter.
Insat-4A is the first of a new series of Indian communications satellites.
Built at ISAC/Bangalore, it is a 3081 kg (full; 1385 kg dry) satellite
with Ku-band and C-band transponders. The Insat 4 series are slightly
heavier than the Insat 2 and Insat 3 satellites they are replacing,
but represent an enhancement rather than a new bus. Insat 4A made
three orbit raising burns and reached geostationary altitude over
the Indian Ocean at 0430 UTC on Dec 26, successfully deploying its solar
MSG 2 (Meteosat Second Generation) is a spin-stabilized weather
satellite continuing the European Meteorological Satellite Organization
(EUMETSAT) series of Meteosat geostationary weather satellites; it will
become Meteosat 9 once operational. Launch mass is 2036 kg; dry mass is
around 1000 kg. After reaching geostationary drift orbit, two covers on
the SEVIRI telescope were ejected on Dec 29 over 30.4 deg E (at 0445 and
0500 UTC, according to Vladimir Agapov. Space Command has not cataloged
the two 1-meter covers ejected from MSG-1/Meteosat-8, so probably won't
see the ones from this launch either).
On Dec 25 Russia launched a Proton with the Block 34 launch of three
GLONASS navigation satellites; one Uragan, serial No. 798, and two
improved Uragan-M, serial number 713 and 714. They were given Kosmos
cover names. In recent years, GLONASS launches involved two of the old
Uragan and only one Uragan-M.
Launch was by Proton serial number 410-12 according to the
federalspace.ru site; the satellites are in a 19110 x 19130 km x 64.8
deg orbit; the Proton third stage was tracked in a low parking orbit and
the Blok-DM2 fourth stage is in a 19072 x 19122 km x 64.9 deg orbit. Two
small ullage motors used to force fuel to the back of the tanks for the
DM2 second burn are thought to be in elliptical transfer orbit, but have
not yet been cataloged.
On Dec 28 a Starsem Soyuz-FG rocket with a Fregat upper stage delivered
the 602 kg Surrey-built GIOVE-A satellite to orbit. GIOVE-A, the Galileo
In-Orbit Validation Element, is Europe's first navigation test satellite
and is a precursor to the Galileo system which will be the European
equivalent of GPS. GIOVE-A is owned and developed by the European Space
Agency, but the operational GNSS (Galileo Navigation Satellite System)
itself is a European Union project. GIOVE-A carries two rubidium
atomic clocks and a large L-band phased array antenna.
The Soyuz-FG entered a mildly suborbital trajectory and its upper
stage fell in the Pacific. The first Fregat burn reached a roughly 220
km circular orbit, probably at 52 deg inclination; the second burn was
to a transfer orbit around 220 x 23200 km; and the third burn put
GIOVE-A in its initial 23011 x 23258 km x 56.05 deg orbit.
Unfortunately the Starsem press kit does not give details of the Fregat
rocket burns, so the details here are guesswork. The quoted target orbit
is 23616 km circular, easily within reach of GIOVE-A's butane propulsion
The three modern navigation satellite systems are quite similar: the
United States GPS satellites are in a 20140 x 20220 km x 55.0 deg orbit,
the Russian GLONASS system is in a 19120 x 19140 km x 64.8 deg orbit,
and the initial GIOVE planned orbit is 23616 x 23616 x 56.0 deg. All of
them transmit at L-band (1.5-1.6 GHz). Contrast this with the first
generation navsat systems, which used Doppler beacons instead of atomic
clock signals - the now-retired US Navy Transits operated at 1000 x 1200
km x 90.0 deg and the Russian Tsiklon/Parus/Tsikada continue in a 970 x
1010 km x 83.0 deg orbit, both using much lower frequencies around 0.15
MHz. The higher orbits mean fewer satellites, but stronger signals.
SES Global's 5035-kg AMC-23 was launched on Dec 29 by an International
Launch Services/Krunichev Proton-M No. 535-13 with a Briz-M upper stage
(No. 88514). AMC-23 is an Alcatel Alenia/Cannes Spacebus 4000C3 satellite
which was originally built as Americom 13, then Worldsat 3, and is now
to provide Ku-band and C-band multimedia and telecom services over the
Pacific. The C-band payload will be partly used by the Japanese JSAT
system. SES, based in Luxembourg, bought the old RCA (later GE) Americom
system in 2001. The Briz-M delivered the satellite to a 6193 x 35615 km
x 18.5 deg transfer orbit, leaving its secondary propellant tank in
a 311 x 15526 km x 49.6 deg intermediate orbit. The Proton third
stage was suborbital on this launch. AMC-23 will use its Astrium S400
apogee engine to reach geostationary orbit.
Table of Recent Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission
Nov 8 1407 Inmarsat 4F-2 Zenit-3SL Odyssey, POR
Nov 9 0333 Venus Express Soyuz-Fregat Baykonur LC31/6 Space
Nov 16 2346 Spaceway 2 ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3
Telkom 2 )
Dec 21 1838 Progress M-55 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1/5
Dec 21 1934 Gonets-D1M ) Kosmos-3M Plesetsk LC132/1
Dec 21 2233 Insat 4A ) Ariane 5GS Kourou ELA3
MSG 2 )
Dec 25 0507 Kosmos-2417 ) Proton-K/DM2 Baykonur LC81/23
Dec 28 0519 GIOVE A Soyuz-FG/Fregat Baykonur LC31/6
Dec 29 0228 AMC 23 Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39
| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
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- Hi there,
I would like to ask if you have or know anyone that has a contact of any
kind for Kenneth Arnold's daughter. Any assistance with this request would
be greatly appreciated.
- Philip, have you gone mad?
Let me know when whatever problem you're having is fixed, and I'll take
you off moderated status.