Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report 24 Nov 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
November 26, 2003
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station


The Expedition 8 crew of Foale and Kaleri continue their stay aboard the
Station. The Shuttle fleet remains grounded with return to flight
expected in the second half of 2004.

Recent Launches


China has launched a new communications satellite, Zhongxing-20. The
CZ-3A launch vehicle took off from Xichang at 1601 UTC on Nov 14 and
reached low parking orbit at 1611 UTC. A second burn of the cryogenic
third stage put ZX-20 in elliptical transfer orbit of 212 x 41981 km x
24.5 deg at around 1625 UTC. The satellite is probably part of the Feng
Huo military communications system. By Nov 20 it was in geostationary
orbit over 103 deg E. This was the fourth Chinese launch in a month.

It looks like Space Command now agree with my assessment that the low
perigee object from the Oct 21 Chinese launch is the rocket stage; the
identities of objects 28058 and 28059 were swapped on Oct 29-30.
Meanwhile ZY-1 No. 2 (CBERS-2) has raised its orbit to 773 x 773 km x
98.5 deg.

The Chinese recoverable satellite launched on Nov 3 is thought to be a
successor to the FSW (Fanhui Shi Weixing) series. Chinese space expert
Chen Lan reports that it is called Jianbin 4 (JB-4, "Pathfinder");
Phillip Clark says that the earlier FSW satellites were JB-1 and that
the ZY-2 satellites are also designated JB-3. On Nov 4, three objects
were tracked in orbit from the FSW launch; 28078 and 28077 which are in
191 x 322 km x 63.0 deg orbits are probably the payload and final stage
respectively. 28076 is in a rapidly decaying 177 x 265 km x 62.9 deg
orbit and is probably a piece of debris, despite being designated
2003-51A. It probably reentered on Nov 4. A fourth piece, 28079,
was cataloged later and also decayed rapidly – the two small pieces
may be retro covers from the second stage.

The JB-4 made small orbit raising manuevers on Nov 8 and 14. The reentry
vehicle of the JB-4 separated from the main satellite at around 0142 UTC
on Nov 21 and landed in Sichuan province at 0204 UTC. After separation
the main satellite was tracked in a higher orbit of 192 x 357 km.

The Kosmos-2399 spy satellite continues in orbit after the release of
five small pieces in low orbit around Nov 19, 99 days into its mission.
The Don class satellites do not normally release objects until the end
of their mission, when they are sometimes destroyed by deliberate
explosion. It could be that these are the first tracked pieces from such
an explosion, or debris from a failed film capsule recovery attempt. The
expected lifetime of Kosmos-2399 based on recent flights is 100-130

ESA’s SMART-1 lunar probe continues to operate its ion engine, with
occasional flameouts at times of high radiation. On Nov 5 it was in a
3058 x 38624 km x 6.9 deg orbit compared to its initial 672 x 35829 km
x 6.9 deg trajectory.

DMSP 5D-3 F16 has ejected its optics cover and cooler cover, cataloged
as 2003-48D and E. Phillip Clark has pointed out that IRS-P6 is probably
2003-46B, not 2003-46A.

The SMEX program


NASA’s Small Explorer program has selected new candidates
for the SMEX-10 and SMEX-11 missions to be launched in
2006-7. Five candidates will be studied until late 2004,
and then two will be chosen to fly.

SMEX was started in the early 1990s amid concerns that
all of NASA’s science missions cost billions and took decades
to complete. There have been 7 SMEX launches so far, with
one more being built and other recently cancelled.

Satellite      Launch       Orbit (km x km x deg)   Mission

SMEX-1/SAMPEX 1992 Jul 3 515 x 691 x 81.7 Earth radiation belts SMEX-2/FAST 1996 Aug 21 350 x 4169 x 83.0 Auroral studies SMEX-3/TRACE 1998 Apr 2 598 x 641 x 97.8 Solar EUV imager SMEX-4/SWAS 1998 Dec 6 634 x 699 x 70.0 Submillimeter astronomy SMEX-5/WIRE 1999 Mar 5 539 x 593 x 97.5 IR astronomy (failed) SMEX-6/HESSI 2002 Feb 5 588 x 609 x 38.0 Solar Hard X-ray imager SMEX-7/GALEX 2003 Apr 28 690 x 698 x 29.0 UV astronomical survey SMEX-8/SPIDR Cancelled SMEX-9/AIM 2006? 500 x 500 x 97? Noctilucent clouds

The new candidates are:

DUO Dark Universe Observatory

DUO carries seven X-ray telescopes each with a 1.6m focal length, giving
a wide 3 square degree field of view with 45-arcsecond spatial
resolution (compare Chandra’s ACIS with 0.5-arcsecond resolution but
only 0.1 square degree field of view). DUO’s CCD imagers, based on the
EPIC-pn from XMM-Newton, will operate in the 0.3-10 keV range and scan
6000 square degrees around the North Galactic cap and is expected to
discover 8000 clusters of galaxies and over 100000 active nuclei. The
cluster data will be used to constrain cosmological models. (DUO is
based on the German ABRIXAS mission, which would have done an all-sky
survey, but whose power supply failed soon after launch). DUO is
led by Richard Griffiths from CMU.

IBEX Interstellar Boundary Explorer

The IBEX mission is the only one of the proposals to study particles
rather than photons, making use of the remarkable ENA (energetic neutral
atom) imager technology previously pioneered in near-Earth space physics
to map out the physics of the heliopause. The satellite will carry two
ENA imagers, one for high energy and one for low energy particles, and
will be boosted beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere to allow it to detect
and map out the distribution of energetic particles that are created in
the shock region between the solar wind and the interstellar medium, and
eventually reach the vicinity of the Earth. IBEX will be boosted into
a highly elliptical Earth orbit. If selected, it would be the first SMEX in
high orbit. The mission is led by David McComas at Southwest Research

NEXUS Normal Incidence EUV Spectrometer

This NASA-Goddard mission will observe the solar corona in the 450-800
Angstrom range and try to get clues to the coronal heating mechanisms.
The normal incidence telescope, which has been flown on sounding
rockets, allows better spatial resolution, allowing NEXUS to get individual
spectra of the small flare regions on the Sun so spectacularly imaged
by the earlier TRACE mission. PI is J. Davila.

NuStar Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array

NuStar would be the first mission to fly a focussing telescope in space
for energies in the 8-80 keV range. It will survey this energy band for
X-ray emission from quasars and Galactic black hole binaries, and obtain
spectra of hard X-ray emission from supernova remnants and study the
spectral lines created by nuclear transitions which dominate this
spectral range. The mission is led by Fiona Harrison (Caltech).

JMEX Jupiter Magnetosphere Explorer

The JMEX project would put an ultraviolet observatory in low Earth
orbit, will all of its observing time dedicated to looking at Jupiter
and its environment. Ultraviolet emission comes from Jupiter itself, its
aurora, the moon Io, and the plasma torus in Io’s orbit, and the study
will characterize the dominant processes in the Jovian magnetosphere.
The mission is led by N. Schneider at the University of Colorado.

Table of Recent Launches


Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.
Oct  1 0403   Galaxy 13         Zenit-3SL       SL Odyssey        Comms      44B
Oct 15 0100   Shenzhou 5 )      CZ-2F           Jiuquan           Spaceship  45A
              SZ-5 OM    )                                        Imaging    45G
Oct 17 0452   IRS-P6            PSLV            Sriharikota       Imaging    46B
Oct 18 0538   Soyuz TMA-3       Soyuz-FG        Baykonur          Spaceship  47A
Oct 18 1617   DMSP F16          Titan 23G       Vandenberg        Weather    48A
Oct 21 0316   ZY-1 No. 2  )     CZ-4B           Taiyuan           Imaging    49A
              CX-1        )                                       Comms      49B
Oct 30 1343   SERVIS-1          Rokot           Plesetsk          Tech       50A
Nov  3 0720   JB-4?             CZ-2D           Jiuquan           Micrograv  51C
Nov 14 1601   Zhongxing-20      CZ-3A           Xichang           Comms      52A

.-------------------------------------------------------------------------. | Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 | | Somerville MA 02143 | | | c/o | | | Center for Astrophysics, | | | 60 Garden St, MS6 | | | Cambridge MA 02138 | inter : | | USA | | |

SpaceRef staff editor.