Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 483

By SpaceRef Editor
July 15, 2002
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station


The Shuttle fleet has been grounded. (Technically, only the next launch,
of STS-107/Columbia, has been delayed, and processing continues on the
rest of the Orbiters, but in fact there will be no launches until NASA
has solved this problem). Cracks were found in pipes containing
propellant flow lines in the aft fuselage of the Orbiters. These
`flowliners’ supply cold liquid hydrogen from the external tank; they
might be difficult to replace and it is feared that Shuttle missions
could be delayed many months. On the other hand, engineers may determine
that the tiny cracks aren’t a problem, or can be patched up easily, in
which case the delay in the STS-107 schedule would be only about one
month and other missions might fly on time. My guess is that the delay
will end up being relatively short, but we should know more in a week or

The next flight is currently STS-107, although that could change. This
mission is a rare non-Station related flight (the only other one in the
past two years was the STS-109 Hubble mission); it was added to the
schedule to preserve science opportunities following the end of the
Spacelab program. Here’s my estimate of Columbia’s payload bay manifest
for STS-107. The masses are even more guesswork than usual, so if anyone
has access to good weight and balance data for the mission, please let
me know.

Mass (kg)
Bay 1 Tunnel Adapter 500?
Bay 2-3 Tunnel 800?
Bay 4-7 Spacehab RDM 8000?
Keel 11 OARE 53
Bay 12-13 EDO pallet 3200?
Total 14553?

The Spacehab Research Double Module is making its first flight. It
carries a selection of microgravity experiments including the
Combustion Module 2 racks, the Vapor Compression Distillation rack which
is a prototype for a Station water recycling system, a centrifuge, a
refrigerator/freezer, and three Animal Enclosure Modules carrying a
total of 13 rats. Educational experiments include an ant colony,
spiders, bees and Medaka fish. The RDM is pressurized and connected to
the cabin by the Tunnel and the Tunnel Adapter (which has a hatch that
could be used for emergency spacewalks).

The FREESTAR (Fast Reaction Experiments Enabling Science Technology
Applications and Research) is a Hitchhiker science payload managed by
NASA-Goddard. FREESTAR uses an MPESS cross-bay bridge and is a followon
to the USMP series. It carries the Critical Viscosity of Xenon
experiment, as well as an ozone spectrometer, a detector to study solar
radiation output, and an Israeli experiment with UV and IR cameras to
study dust and aerosols in the atmosphere in the Mediterraean and the
Sahara. An Israeli astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, will be flying on the

The OARE is an acceleration measuring package installed in the bottom of
the payload bay. The EDO (Extended Duration Orbiter) pallet contains
hydrogen and oxygen tanks used to generate electricity for the long
duration mission.

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft returned Endeavour from California
to Kennedy Space Center on Jun 28-29; Endeavour is now in the OPF
being inspected for plumbing cracks.

The Progress No. 257 cargo ship (Progress M1-8) undocked from the
Zvezda module at 0826 UTC on Jun 25. The deorbit burn
was at 1135 UTC, lowering its orbit from 379 x 398 km x 51.6 deg
to 50 x 398 km, and the spacecraft reentered over the Pacific
at 1213 UTC with debris impact near 46S 144W.

Progress spacecraft No. 246 (Progress M-46) was launched from Baykonur
on Jun 26. ISS mission 8P uses the older model Progress M. M-46
docked with the Zvezda module at 0623 UTC on Jun 29 after carrying
out tests of the Kurs rendezvous system on Jun 28.

Erratum: STS-111 landing time was 1757:41 UTC not 1747 UTC.

Recent Launches


A Kosmos-3M (11K65M) rocket was launched from Plesetsk on Jul 8 and
placed a pair of Russian Defense Ministry satellites, Kosmos-2390 and
Kosmos-2391, in 1466 x 1507 km x 82.5 deg orbits. The launch was a
surprise, as it doesn’t fit the established profile of any existing
Russian military system. Aleksandr Zhelezneyakov’s site,, reports that the satellites are Strela-3
communications relay satellites. Previously Strela-3 satellites were
launched in groups of six aboard Tsiklon rockets, but it appears that
the Russian Defense Ministry is moving away from use of the Ukrainian
Tsiklon. Also, earlier Strela-3 launches were in 1390 x 1415 km orbits,
significantly lower than the latest launch. The Kommersant newspaper
reports that the Strela-3 satellites are used by the GRU intelligence
agency, although it’s not clear if the Russian journalists got this from
new Russian sources or are just repeating the guesses of American and
British analysts which they found on the Web (Note to old-timers: these
days one has to be very careful of that kind of circular confirmation –
it’s a different era from the times when anything appearing in the
Soviet press could be assumed to be official information).

The latest NASA Discovery mission was successfully launched on Jul 3.
The CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour) probe, built and operated by the Johns
Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), flew into orbit
on a Boeing Delta 7425-9.5 from Cape Canaveral.

Launch was at 0647 UTC, with the first burn of the second stage
completed at 0659 UTC putting the spacecraft in a 185 x 197 km x 29.7
deg parking orbit. At 0746 UTC the second stage restarted for a short 4s
burn to 185 x 309 km x 29.7 deg, and then separated once the PAM-D (ATK
Star 48B) solid third stage was spun up. The 1.5 minute burn of the
third stage motor at 0748 UTC put it and CONTOUR in a 90 x 106689 km x
30.5 deg phasing orbit, according to my analysis of Space Command
tracking data. This is a little lower perigee than the planned 200 km,
and may have been either a tracking error or something that was fixed at
first apogee; by Jul 8 CONTOUR’s orbit was 214 x 106686 km x 29.8 deg.
CONTOUR will stay in this phasing orbit until Aug 15, when it will be
in the right position for injection into solar orbit using its internal
ATK Star 30 solid motor. Flyby of comet 2P/Encke is scheduled for Nov

Here’s my understanding of Contour’s planned trajectory (subject to
correction by any APL or JPL readers). It will mostly be in an orbit
similar to the Earth, except for the 2004-2006 ‘backflip’ to 12 degrees
ecliptic inclination which uses two Earth flybys to change its
orbital orientation without using much fuel.

   CONTOUR planned mission
Date Event Orbit (perihelion, aphelion, eclip. inc.)
2002 Aug 15 Solar orbit injection 0.80 x 1.35 AU x 0? deg
2003 Aug 15 Earth flyby 1, 58000 km 0.9 x 1.2? AU x 0? deg
2003 Nov 12 2P/Encke, 100 km nucleus flyby
2004 Aug 14 Earth flyby 2, 40180 km 1.0 x 1.0 AU x 12 deg ‘backflip’ orbit
2005 Feb 10 Earth flyby 3, 218770 km
2006 Feb 10 Earth flyby 4, 30000 km 0.9 x 1.1? AU x 0? deg, end backflip
2006 Jun 18 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann-3 nucleus flyby
2007 Feb 10 Earth flyby 5, 7600 km 0.8 x 1.35? AU x 0? deg
2008 Feb 11 Earth flyby 6, 19000 km, target for third comet
2008 Aug 15 (possible flyby of 6P/d’Arrest; or may go to a different target)

Arianespace launched an Ariane 5G on mission V153 on Jul 5. The Ariane
vehicle placed two satellites in geostationary transfer orbit. Stellat-5
is an Alcatel Spacebus 3000B3 with a dry mass of 1805 kg and 2245 kg of
propellant. The satellite carries Ku-band and C-band transponders, and
is a joint venture between France Telecom and Europe*Star which will
provide 2-way internet access and video transmission from 5 deg W.
Stellat-5 is colocated with France Telecom’s Telecom 2C.

Stellat 5 was mounted above the Sylda 5F support structure. Inside Sylda
5F was the N-Star c satellite, an S-band satellite for mobile telephone
communications for NTT DoCoMo of Japan. N-Star c has a communications
payload built by Lockheed Martin and uses the Star 2 bus from Orbital.
The small Star 2 satellite probably has a dry mass around 800 kg and is
the first flight of a new Orbital hydrazine/nitrogen tetroxide liquid
apogee propulsion system with a 500N thrust apogee engine developed by
Japan’s IHI.

Russia’s latest Kobal’t class spy satellite, Kosmos-2387, has returned
to Earth, landing probably at about 0230 UTC on Jun 27. Just before
deorbit, a new object was left in orbit and cataloged as 2002-08C (27456);
this may be a telescope sunshade or part of the propulsion module. It
reentered a day later.

Table of Recent Launches


Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.

Jun 5 0644 Intelsat 905 Ariane 44L Kourou ELA2 Comms. 27A
Jun 5 2122 Endeavour ) Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 28A
Leonardo )
Jun 10 0114 Ekspress A1R Proton-K/DM2M? Baykonur Comms 29A
Jun 15 2239 Galaxy 3C Zenit-3SL Odyssey, POR Comms 30A
Jun 20 0933 Iridium SV97 ) Rokot/Briz-KM Plesetsk Comms 31A
Iridium SV98 ) Comms 31B
Jun 24 1823 NOAA 17 Titan 23G Vandenberg SLC4W Weather 32A
Jun 26 0536 Progress M-46 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1/5 Cargo 33A
Jul 3 0647 CONTOUR Delta 7425-9.5 Canaveral SLC17A Space probe 34A
Jul 5 2322 Stellat 5 ) Ariane 5G Kourou ELA3 Comms 35A
NStar c ) 35B
Jul 8 0636 Kosmos-2390 ) Kosmos-3M Plesetsk Comms 36A
Kosmos-2391 ) Comms 36B

Current Shuttle Processing Status


Orbiters               Location   Mission    Launch Due   

OV-102 Columbia OPF STS-107 Unknown Spacehab
OV-103 Discovery VAB Maintenance
OV-104 Atlantis OPF STS-112 Unknown ISS 9A
OV-105 Endeavour OPF STS-113 Unknown ISS 11A

| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
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SpaceRef staff editor.