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Fwd: Jonathan's Space Report, No. 562

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  • Frits Westra
    Jonathan s Space Report No. 562 2006 Mar 17, Somerville, MA ... MRO at Mars ... On 2006 Mar 8, NASA s Mars Reconnaissance
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 20, 2006
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      Jonathan's Space Report
      No. 562 2006 Mar 17, Somerville, MA
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      MRO at Mars
      -----------

      On 2006 Mar 8, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter entered Mars'
      gravitational sphere of influence at around 577000 km range. At 2112 UTC
      on Mar 10 the MRO's Aerojet-Redmond engines (six MR-107N thrusters
      firing at 170N) ignited to begin the Mars Orbit Insertion burn. Light
      travel time to Earth was 11 min 58s at the time of the burn; orbit
      insertion now confirmed. Planned orbit was 279 x 44500 km x 93.3 deg.
      Over the next several months MRO will use aerobraking to lower its orbit
      for operational imaging of the surface.

      New Horizons
      ------------

      Meanwhile, New Horizons trajectory data is now on the JPL Horizons site.
      NH is in a solar escape orbit with a perihelion of 0.98 AU, an ecliptic
      inclination of 0.87 deg and an eccentricity of 1.03. After the February
      2007 Jupiter encounter it will have a perihelion of 2.2 AU, an
      inclination of 2.3 deg and an eccentricity of 1.40. On 2015 Jul 14 the
      probe passes Pluto, 1.1AU above the ecliptic plane and 32.9 AU from the
      Sun. As seen from Earth, NH and Pluto will be near the star Xi Sgr.

      ASTRO-F
      -------

      Japan launched the ASTRO-F infrared astronomy satellite at 2128 UTC on
      Feb 21. ASTRO-F separated from the M-V-8 rocket final stage in a 301 x
      718 km x 98.2 deg orbit; it will use an onboard propulsion system to
      reach its final orbit and then will eject its optics cover.
      The satellite has been named "Akari" (light). By Mar 3 it was in a
      707 x 716 km x 98.2 deg orbit; this had been adjusted to
      695 x 710 km by Mar 16. Because of attitude control problems,
      ejection of the optics cover has been delayed until mid-April.

      Akari carries a 0.67m-diameter liquid-helium-cooled infrared telescope
      with detectors ranging from the near infrared to 60 and 170 micron
      channels in the far IR. It will carry out the first far infrared sky
      survey since IRAS in 1983.

      The tiny 3 kg CUTE-1.7-APD satellite built by Toyko Institute of
      Technology was ejected from the M-V-8 third stage at 2145 UTC. The
      other secondary payload, a 15-meter-diameter solar sail (SSP, solar
      sail sub payload, soraseiru sabupeiro-do) deployed from the stage at
      2146 UTC but opened incompletely.

      Arabsat 4A
      ----------

      A Krunichev Proton-M/Briz-M rocket suffered a launch failure on Feb 28.
      The Briz-M stage is rumoured to have shut down 27 minutes 31s into a
      planned 31-minute second burn, according to several sources.
      This was a very long engine burn, but the AMC-15 launch in 2004 saw
      a 37.5 minute burn, so it's not a record for Briz-M.

      There are now two objects cataloged in a 505 x 14695 km x 51.5 deg
      orbit, presumably the Arabsat 4A payload and Briz. Since the failure was
      before the end of the second burn, the Briz DTB tank will not have
      separated, and the B object is Briz with the DTB still attached.

      Arabsat 4A, also known as BADR-ONE (not to be confused with the small
      Pakistani Badr-A satellite launched in 1990) is an EADS-Astrium 2000+
      satellite with a launch mass of 3341 kg, intended for Middle East
      communications by Arabsat, the Arab Satellite Communications
      Organization.

      Ariane 5
      --------

      Ariane vehicle 527 was launched on Mar 11 on flight V170 carrying
      Eutelsat's HotBird 7A and Hisdesat's Spainsat. The EPC core stage flew
      into a -1141 x 158 km x 6.8 deg orbit, and fell back to Earth. The ESC-A
      upper stage made a single burn to a 270 x 35748 km x 5.0 deg GTO.

      Hot Bird 7A is an Alcatel Spacebus 3000 with an Astrium S400 apogee
      engine, and will provide television broadcasting services for the
      European operator Eutelsat. Spainsat is a Loral LS-1300 with an
      Aerojet-Redmond R-4D engine, and will provide secure X and Ku band
      communications for the Spanish defense ministry. HB7A has a dry mass of
      1740 kg and a solar panel span of 36.9m. Spainsat has a dry mass of 1467
      kg and a solar panel span of 31.4m. By Mar 16 HB7A was in a 34124 x 35761
      km
      x 0.1 deg near-geostationary orbit drifting over the Atlantic;
      Spainsat was still in transfer orbit as of Mar 13.


      NASA
      -----

      The carnage continues in the NASA science program. A few weeks ago, the
      NuStar X-ray mission was cancelled, and now the Dawn asteroid mission
      has been axed only a year from launch (this decision is apparently under
      review). This follows a couple years of delays in selecting new small
      missions. These missions had been approved for development and weren't
      suffering from major problems (well, in Dawn's case I hear different
      stories from different people) - their cancellation seems to be purely
      for budgetary reasons. They are being sacrificed to pay for the
      Exploration initiative and for other science programs which have run
      into trouble. Rare editorial: this is a bad idea; we really need a wide
      portfolio of small science missions for the health of NASA's science
      program. Having only a few large flagship missions eat the whole budget
      is not a smart way to go, however wonderful they are. My impression is
      that the current plan gives a larger fraction of the astrophysics budget
      to my good (and well-deserving but more professionally flexible) friends
      at the large aerospace contractors, and a smaller fraction to pay the
      salaries of astrophysicists, who have no other source of funding to turn
      to. By the time the budget recovers, our reservoir of world-class
      expertise will have left science for other careers.

      Let me be clear: the problem is both an external one - other pressures
      on the US federal budget, and pressures to fund the human spaceflight
      program - and an internal systemic one: the astronomical community's
      process for recommending priorities to NASA, which used to work well,
      now is widely perceived as disconnected from much of the community and
      as effectively broken in the current budgetary context. The process
      builds in 'undercosting' at all levels of the system, ensures that
      flagship missions are emphasized above all else, and guarantees that the
      budget will be hugely overrun. The recent cuts to NASA's astrophysics
      program are ill-advised and unfair to the hard-working scientists who
      dedicate their lives to these missions. But until we astronomers get our
      own house in order again, it's going to be hard to convince Mike Griffin
      and Mary Cleave (the NASA boss and head of science, respectively) that
      we deserve different treatment.

      Errata
      -------

      I am informed that MTSAT-2 has a US-built Aerojet/Redmond R-4D-11-164
      apogee engine, not the IHI 500N engine; also that NEC and Toshiba have
      merged into NTspace (NEC Toshiba Space Systems) and they are the prime
      contractor for the Daichi satellite. I can also confirm that there have
      been no launches from pad 2 at Tanegashima. Thanks to Peter Buist, Olwen
      Morgan and Carl Stechman.


      Table of Recent Launches
      -----------------------

      Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission
      INTL.
      DES.
      Feb 3 2302 RadioSkaf - Pirs, LEO Amateur
      com 05-35C
      Feb 15 2335 Echostar 10 Zenit-3SL Odyssey, POR
      Comms 03A
      Feb 18 0627 MTSAT-2 H-2A Tanegashima
      Com/Imaging 04A
      Feb 21 2128 Akari ) M-V Uchinoura IR
      Astron. 05A
      CUTE-1.7-APD )
      Tech/Comms 05C
      SSP )
      Tech 05B
      Feb 28 2010 Arabsat 4A Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39
      Comms 06A
      Mar 11 2233 Hotbird 7A ) Ariane 5 ECA Kourou ELA3
      Comms 07A
      Spainsat )
      Comms 07B

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