Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 456

By SpaceRef Editor
July 16, 2001
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station


Orbiter OV-104 Atlantis was launched on Jul 12 from Kennedy Space Center
on mission STS-104. Launch was at 0903:59 UTC. Main engine cutoff and
external tank separation was at 0913 UTC. Atlantis was then in an orbit
of around 59 x 235 km x 51.6 deg. The OMS-2 burn at 0942 UTC increased
velocity by 29m/s and raised the orbit to 157 x 235 km x 51.6 deg and
another burn at around 1240 UTC raised it further to 232 x 305 km.
Atlantis docked with the Station at 0308 UTC on Jul 14.

The main payload on STS-104 is the Joint Airlock, which has now been
named Quest. The Quest module was built by Boeing/Huntsville. It
consists of an Equipment Lock for storage and the actual airlock, called
the Crew Lock. The Crew Lock is based on the Shuttle airlock and may
have been built by Rockwell/Palmdale. The Equipment Lock was berthed
to the Unity module at one of the large-diameter CBM hatches.

Based on on-orbit video, my guesses last issue as to the payload bay
layout are about right; the IMAX camera appears to be on the starboard
sidewall in bay 3.

On Jul 15 astronauts Gernhardt and Reilly made the first spacewalk of
the mission. The airlock was depressurized at 0306 UTC and the hatch
opened at 0307 UTC. The astronauts removed thermal covers from Quest and
added handrails to it and to the O2/N2 tanks stored in the Spacelab
pallets. The Station SSRMS arm grappled Quest at 0449 UTC and unberthed
it from Atlantis at 0510 UTC, docking it to the Unity module at 0734
UTC. Quest was firmly bolted to Unity’s +X CBM at 0740 UTC. The
astronauts returned to the airlock at 0853 UTC, closing the hatch
sometime around 0859 UTC and repressurized it at 0909 UTC, for a
duration of 6h03m (depress/repress), 5h52m (hatch open/close), or 5h59m
(NASA rule).

Recent Launches


NASA’s Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) was launched on Jun 30 at
1946:46 UTC. The Boeing Delta 7425-10 launch vehicle entered a 167 x 204
km x 28.8 deg parking orbit at 1958 UTC. At 2104 UTC the second stage
ignited again for a brief 4s burn raising the orbit to around 181 x 308
km; the third stage spun up and ignited at 2108 UTC, accelerating MAP to
a highly elliptical orbit of 182 x 292492 km x 28.7 deg. MAP will use
on-board fuel to tweak the orbit and make a lunar flyby at fourth apogee
on July 30 and arrive at the L2 point 1.5 million km from Earth
in about three months. From L2, MAP will observe the dark extragalactic
sky with differential microwave radiometers using two 1.5-meter
reflectors working at 22 to 90 GHz, and measure fluctuations in the
cosmic 3 Kelvin microwave background down to 35 microKelvin on scales of
down to 0.2 degrees. Ground based experiments have recently provided
convincing evidence that the background fluctuations are consistent with
a model in which the total density of the universe is closely equal to
the critical density; MAP will refine and extend these observations. The
spacecraft has a dry mass of 768 kg and carries 72 kg of propellant; it
was built at NASA-Goddard, and the microwave instrument was built in
collaboration with Princeton University.

MAP is the second MIDEX mid-sized Explorer – the first was IMAGE,
which is studying the magnetosphere. The third MIDEX will be SWIFT,
for gamma ray burst studies, due for launch in two years.

Arianespace’s Ariane 510 vehicle failed to reach its correct orbit on
Jul 12. The EAP solid boosters and EPC liquid hydrogen fuelled main
stage worked as planned and put the EPS upper stage in a marginal orbit,
probably with perigee just above zero although reported velocities near
EPC cutoff are lower than for previous missions. The EPS stage then
fired to increase velocity – but not by enough: instead of reaching an
858 x 35853 km orbit, only a 592 x 17528 km orbit was reached. The
Aestus engine failed to reach full thrust and cut off 1 min early.

The two satellites on Ariane 510 were the Artemis and BSAT-2b
communications satellites. The 3105 kg Artemis carries an Astrium S400
liquid apogee engine with 1538 kg of bipropellant feeding a 400N main
thruster as well as a set of 10N RCS thrusters, and also carries four
20mN ion thrusters with 40 kg of xenon. The much simpler BSAT 2b
satellite, using Orbital’s Star 1 bus with a launch mass of 1298 kg,
probably carries a Thiokol Star 30 solid apogee motor and a set of
stationkeeping thrusters with perhaps about 200 kg of fuel, which gives
it much less flexibility than Artemis in recovering its intended orbit.

Artemis is a European Space Agency satellite to test out new
communications technologies. It carries the Silex laser communications
experiment, an S-band inter-orbit link, a Ka-band data relay package, a
large L-band antenna for mobile services, and an L-band navigation
package. BSAT-2b is a television broadcast satellite for the Japanese
B-SAT company.

The US Air Force launched a Minuteman II ICBM from Vandenberg AFB at
0240 UTC on Jul 15; it flew a suborbital trajectory with an apogee of
around 1600 km and reentered near Kwajalein Atoll. The US Army launched
a two-stage Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) from Meck Island to intercept
it at an altitude of 225 km. The test was part of the NMD (National
Missile Defense) program, which apparently was recently and tediously
renamed the Ground-Based Midcourse Defence Segment. The Boeing
Minuteman II has a M55E1 first stage, an SR19 second stage and a M57A1
third stage. The Lockheed Martin PLV consists of just the SR19 and M57A1

Table of Recent Launches


Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.

Jun 8 1508 Kosmos-2378 Kosmos-3M Plesetsk LC132 Navsat 23A
Jun 9 0645 Intelsat 901 Ariane 44L Kourou ELA2 C/Ku telecom 24A
Jun 16 0149 Astra 2C Proton-K/DM3 Baykonur LC81/23 Ku video 25A
Jun 19 0441 ICO-2 Atlas IIAS Canaveral SLC36B C/S phone/data 26A
Jun 30 1946 MAP Delta 7425 Canaveral SLC17B Astronomy 27A
Jul 12 0904 Atlantis STS-104) Shuttle Kennedy LC39B Spaceship 28A
Quest ) Station module
Jul 12 2158 Artemis ) Ariane 5G Kourou ELA3 Expt. comms 29A
BSAT-2b ) Ku video 29B

Current Shuttle Processing Status


Orbiters               Location   Mission    Launch Due   

OV-102 Columbia OPF Bay 3 STS-109 2002 Jan 17 HST SM-3B
OV-103 Discovery LC39A STS-105 2001 Aug 5 ISS 7A.1
OV-104 Atlantis ISS STS-104 2001 Jul 12 ISS 7A
OV-105 Endeavour OPF Bay 1 STS-108 2001 Nov 29 ISS UF-1

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SpaceRef staff editor.