Jonathan's Space Report, No. 397
- Jonathan's Space Report
No. 397 1999 May 6 Cambridge, MA
Commander Viktor Afanas'ev, flight engineer Sergey Avdeev and flight
engineer-2 Jean-Pierre Haignere remain on board the Mir complex. (For
some reason I forgot to include Avdeev last week). The Soyuz TM-29
transport craft and the Progress M-41 cargo ship are docked to the
Launch of STS-96 is still due May 20. Launch of STS-93 is no
earlier than Jul 22.
Four failures in a row: Ikonos/Athena, ABRIXAS, Titan/Milstar,
Another Titan 4 failure occurred on Apr 30: Milstar 2 F-1 went into
the wrong orbit. It appears the Centaur upper stage may have
malfunctioned, carrying out its three burns at the wrong time.
The third Milstar satellite was launched on Apr 30 from Cape
Canaveral. Launch vehicle was a Lockheed Martin Astronautics (Denver)
Titan 4B, serial B-32. The Alliant SRMU solid motors ignited at 1630
UTC to begin the launch, and fell away two minutes later with the
first stage of the Titan 4 core vehicle (serial K-36) igniting. At 9
minutes into the flight the second stage of the core vehicle fell away
and the first burn of the upper stage began. The upper stage on this
mission is Centaur TC-14. Three burns of TC-14 were planned to place
Milstar successively in a 170 x 190 km parking orbit, a geostationary
transfer orbit, and finally geosynchronous orbit. Instead, at 1900
UTC, several hours before the scheduled third burn, Milstar separated
from TC-14 in a 740 x 5000 km orbit, probably inclined at about 28
degrees. It seems that TC-14 made three burns, but all during the
first orbit instead of over a 6 hour period, possibly due to software
problems of some kind. The two Pratt and Whitney RL-10A-3-3A LOX/LH2
engines have a thrust of about 73 kN. The RL-10 was developed for the
Saturn I and Atlas Centaur in the 1960s, and was used on the DC-X test
vehicle. The Delta III uses an RL10B-2 version.
Milstar-2 F1 is the first upgraded Milstar (Military Strategic and
Tactical Relay System) comsat. The two Milstar-1 satellites already
launched carried the LDR (Low Data Rate) payload which is inadequate
for modern needs; Milstar-2 carries an extra MDR (Medium Data Rate)
payload with a higher throughput. The payload includes EHF (44 GHz),
SHF (20 GHz) and UHF communications transponders and
satellite-to-satellite crosslinks, with narrow beams to avoid jamming.
Milstar is built by Lockheed Martin/Sunnyvale and managed by the
Milstar JPO at USAF Los Angeles AFB.
Centaur (Titan 4 model) flight history:
TC-12 1994 Feb 7 Milstar-1 F1 Success
TC-10 1994 May 3 NRO Success
TC-11 1994 Aug 27 NRO Success
TC-17 1995 May 14 NRO Success
TC-8 1995 Jul 10 NRO Success
TC-13 1995 Nov 6 Milstar-1 F2 Success
TC-15 1996 Apr 24 NRO Success
TC-21 1997 Oct 15 Cassini/Huygens Success
TC-16 1997 Nov 8 NRO Success
TC-18 1998 May 9 NRO Success
TC-9 1998 Aug 12 NRO No Test
TC-14 1999 Apr 30 Milstar-2 F1 (*) Failure
Note: TC-1 to TC-7 were a different Centaur model, the Centaur D-1T.
The Titan 4/Centaur doesn't seem to have a model designation, but is
derived from the Centaur G-Prime design. TC-9 was destroyed during
launch, prior to separation from the core vehicle. It's not clear if
any of these Centaurs are the ones refurbished from the
Shuttle/Centaur program. A Centaur G' was prepared for flight in early
1986 on the Shuttle, but launch was cancelled after the loss of OV-099
* Orion 3/Delta 3
Continuing the rash of upper stage failures, the second launch of
Delta 3 also ran into trouble on May 5. The Delta second stage failed
to operate properly on its second burn. The engine ignited briefly, a
spike in pump pressure was recorded and the burn cutoff after only 1
second. The Orion 3 payload ended up in the parking orbit of 162 x
1378 km x 29.5 deg, very close to the planned post SECO-1 (first burn)
orbit. A piece of debris is being tracked in a 171 x 1038 km x 29.4
deg orbit. The Delta 3 uses an Pratt and Whitney RL-10B-2 LH2/LOX
engine in a stage of a new design. The first Delta 3 launch failed
shortly after takeoff last year; at least this flight verified the
basic operation of the rocket.
Orion 3 is a Hughes HS-601HP satellite designed to serve the
Asia-Pacific region for Loral Orion. The satellite is owned by Hughes
Space and Comms International pending on-orbit delivery. It has 33
Ku-band and 10 C-band transponders.
Sadly, the ABRIXAS satellite's battery has failed and contact with it
was lost on May 1. There is some hope that a period of solar
illumination next month will allow contact to be regained.
The USAF reports that the two stages of IUS-21 failed to separate
correctly: at least one connector remained attached after the
attempted separation. The SRM-2 nozzle did not extend properly,
possibly because SRM-1 hit the nozzle during the incomplete
separation. SRM-2 did fire, but the vehicle tumbled during the burn.
USAF have still not announced the final orbit achieved.
25 new objects, 1989-100AR to 1989-100BR, have been cataloged as
associated with the disintegration of the S5M upper stage of the
Tsiklon-3 launch vehicle used to put Kosmos-2053 in orbit.
Kosmos-2053 was launched by a Tsiklon-3 from Plesetsk in 1989 and is
believed to be a modernized version of the Romb satellite, built by
NPO Yuzhnoe. The satellites carry an array of small ESO (Calibration
Spherical Object) subsatellites which are released over a period of
time to test Russian radars. 36 such objects (the full normal
complement) were released between 1989 Dec 27 and 1991 Nov 1, getting
designations 1989-100C to 1989-100AQ (note that 1989-100W was the same
object as 1989-100Y). Kosmos-2053 reentered in 1997; the S5M is in a
471 x 485 km x 73.5 deg orbit.
* Jinx at Space Launch Complex 6
It has been pointed out to me that Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 6,
which was built on an old Native American burial ground, has never had
a success after many billions of dollars spent on the launch complex.
1960s: Built for USAF/NRO Manned Orbiting Laboratory, program cancelled
before first launch.
1980s: Refurbished for West Coast Shuttle launches, abandoned before
1995: First Athena launch, failed
1997: Athena launched Lewis satellite; satellite failed after
1999: Third Athena launch from SLC-6, failed again.
Joe Fanning tells me local legend has it that the tribe held a special
ceremony to curse the pad when it was first built. Coincidence? :-)
Meanwhile, the status of US expendable launch vehicles is:
- Titan 4: three failures in three missions for different reasons:
A-20/TC-9 - bad wiring in Lockheed Martin/Denver K-17 core stage
B-27/IUS-21 - Boeing/Seattle IUS-21 bad separation of SRM-1 from SRM-2
B-32/TC-14 - possible software problem in LM/Denver Centaur TC-14 stage
LM-005: - Dumped payload in ocean when fairing didn't separate
M-22: - Minor (?) yaw anomaly on recent flight delayed next attempt
- Delta III:
D-268: - Boeing/Pueblo second stage,
problem on Pratt and Whitney RL-10B-2 engine
- Delta II: Delta II in good shape?
- Atlas II: In good shape except that upper stage uses RL-10 engine.
The Atlas II and the Delta II are the mainstay of commercial satellite
launches and the direct rivals to Ariane, so things are not quite as
bad as they might seem. However, if US companies can't launch the
existing vehicles safely, they will have to do some convincing to sell
flights on the upcoming replacements, Atlas V and Delta IV.
Table of Recent Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Mar 5 0256 WIRE Pegasus XL Vandenberg Astronomy 11A
Mar 15 0306 Globalstar M022 ) Soyuz-U/Ikar Baykonur LC1 Comsat 12A
Globalstar M041 ) Comsat 12B
Globalstar M046 ) Comsat 12C
Globalstar M037 ) Comsat 12D
Mar 21 0009 Asiasat 3S Proton-K/DM3 Baykonur LC81L Comsat 13A
Mar 28 0130 DemoSat Zenit-3SL Odyssey, POR Test 14A
Apr 2 1128 Progress M-41 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 15A
Apr 2 2203 Insat 2E Ariane 42P Kourou ELA2 Comsat 16A
Apr 9 1701 DSP F19 Titan 4/IUS Canaveral LC41 Early Warn 17A
Apr 12 2250 Eutelsat W3 Atlas 2AS Canaveral LC36A Comsat 18A
Apr 15 0046 Globalstar M019 ) Soyuz-U/Ikar Baykonur LC1 Comsat 19A
Globalstar M042 ) 19B
Globalstar M044 ) 19C
Globalstar M045 ) 19D
Apr 15 1832 Landsat 7 Delta 7920-10 Vandenberg SLC2W Imaging 20A
Apr 16 1030? Sputnik-99 - Mir, LEO Comsat 15C
Apr 21 0459 UoSAT-12 Dnepr Baykonur LC109 Test 21B
Apr 27 1822 Ikonos 1 Athena 2 Vandenberg SLC6 Imaging F01
Apr 28 2030 ABRIXAS ) Kosmos-3M Kap. Yar LC107? Astronomy 22A
Megsat-0 ) Technol. 22B
Apr 30 1630 Milstar-2 F1 Titan 4/Cen Canaveral LC40 Comsat 23A
May 5 0100 Orion 3 Delta 8930 Canaveral LC17B Comsat 24A
Current Shuttle Processing Status
Orbiters Location Mission Launch Due
OV-102 Columbia OPF Bay 1 STS-93 Unknown
OV-103 Discovery LC39B STS-96 May 20
OV-104 Atlantis OPF Bay 3 STS-101 Oct 14?
OV-105 Endeavour OPF Bay 2 STS-99 Sep 18
MLP1/RSRM-69/ET-99 VAB Bay 1 STS-93
MLP2/RSRM-70/ET-100/OV-103 LC39B STS-96