Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 500 2003 May 29, Cambridge, MA

By SpaceRef Editor
May 30, 2003
Filed under ,


On the occasion of the 500th issue of JSR, I would like to thank my
loyal readers for their input over the past 14 years. The mission of JSR
is to provide accurate technical information on human activities in
space both direct and robotic, particularly when that information is not
otherwise readily available. I use open sources including magazines,
press releases, archival materials, and telephonic harrassment of
long-suffering public affairs representatives, as well as performing my
own trajectory calculations using orbital elements provided by US Space
Command and other sources. Feedback from knowledgeable readers has been
critical in maintaining the quality of JSR. Since I get no renumeration
for this effort and since my goal is to be impartial and apolitical, I
believe space program insiders feel a little freer about sharing their
technical data with me than with a commercial source. The result is, I
hope, a consistent presentation of the latest space events, without the
usual emphasis on activities by any one country, and with the sort of
quantitative detail that engineers and scientists like to see but
non-technical media and public affairs representatives rarely provide. I
remain committed to publishing corrections and clarifications when
errors are drawn to my attention, so that JSR can stand as a journal of
record for space launch activities.

The JSR usually restricts itself to events that have already happened
and that occurred either in space or on the way to space; I avoid, on
principle, discussions of launch schedules and other astrological
forecasts, as well as ground based events such as contracts, program
management and ground tests – others are better qualified than I to
report on these matters. I also rarely cover matters concerning
suborbital launches and space debris, because I just don’t have time to
do the subject justice – although I do maintain catalogs of both these
subjects on the web site, with occasional updates.

As an academic, I get to speculate on matters which may not be in the
public record for either commercial or, occasionally, security reasons
(although my policy is to speculate only on the general mission and
orbits of currently operating classified satellites, and not on details
of their sensors and capabilities). As always in academia, my
speculations and evaluations represent my own personal opinions and are
not any kind of official statement of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics or any of the other institutions with which I am

You are welcome to quote information from the JSR elsewhere. However, if
you are going to reproduce large parts of the JSR or of any of the
original materials on my web site, a brief acknowledgement and a link
back to my site would be greatly appreciated. (In contrast, for
example, the blatant copying of my entire launch log in Jane’s
Spaceflight Directory with no attribution whatsoever is discourteous).

The JSR began in 1989 (via email and ftp, then later Usenet and
eventually http) as a nominally weekly publication. As other duties have
crowded out my free time, I have repeatedly changed the definition of a
week, and at the moment one week is defined to last about 30 days. I
hope to continue issuing JSR as long as there is demand for it, but
you’ll have to bear with me if issues are occasionally few and far

When I began this adventure I expected an audience of about five of my
friends. There are now over 3000 direct email subscribers and many more
who just read it on the web or in some forwarded version. It’s hard to
know from email addresses with .biz,.com etc where people are, but those
whose addresses include country domains indicate that JSR reaches over
65 countries or provinces from Antigua to
Zimbabwe. I know that’s not the complete list (I have readers in the
Marshall Islands who don’t use the .mh domain) so if you are somewhere
not in the list, drop me a line…

To the many thousands of you around the world, thank you for being
interested enough to read my ramblings! And now, back to the news…


Shuttle and Station

The Expedition 7 crew, Yuriy Malenchenko and Edward Lu, are on board the
Space Station. Soyuz TMA-2 is docked to the Station and acts as the crew
return vehicle. The Shuttle fleet remains grounded for the indefinite
future, while the STS-107 investigation is expected to conclude
sometime this summer.

Recent Launches

Japan has launched an interplanetary probe, MUSES-C. The first launch of
the ISAS M-V rocket since the Astro-E failure appears to have gone
without a hitch, although details are sketchy. The first three stages of
M-V-5 probably placed MUSES-C in Earth orbit. The KM-V2 kick motor then
put MUSES-C in solar orbit and separated. This should leave three
objects in space: MUSES-C and its KM-V2 kick motor, which have been
cataloged as 2003-19A and 19B, both in solar orbit, and the M-34 third
stage in Earth orbit, which has not yet been cataloged. However, it is
possible that the M-34 stage was suborbital. Any readers who can clarify
this are requested to contact me.

MUSES C was named Hayabusa (Falcon) after launch. It will use solar
electric (ion) propulsion to rendezvous with minor planet (25143) 1998
SF36 in Sep 2005 and return a sample to Earth.

Lockheed Martin launched AV-002, the second Atlas V, on May 13. It
placed Hellas Sat 2 in supersynchronous transfer orbit of 395 x 84737 km
x 17.0 deg. The Atlas V 401 uses a single-engine Common Centaur upper
stage. Hellas Sat 2 is an Astrium Eurostar 2000+ satellite for the
Greek/Cypriot Hellas Sat consortium based in Athens. Hellas Sat 1 is the
old Kopernikus DFS-3 satellite launched in 1992 and leased by HellasSat
in 2002.

China has launched the third Beidou navigation satellite into
geostationary transfer orbit. The Chang Zheng 3A rocket took off from
Xichang at 1634 UTC on May 24, and its third stage made a first burn to
low parking orbit followed by a second burn to a 196 x 41701 km x 25.0
deg supersynchrnonous transfer orbit. Beidou used its apogee motor
(probably an FY-25 model) to circularize its path into a
near-geostationary drift orbit around May 26.


Oops – typo in the GALEX text: of course, 135-180 nm is the far UV
band, and 180-300 nm is the near UV band, not vice versa.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.

Apr 2 0153 Molniya-1T Molniya-M Plesetsk Comms 11A Apr 8 1343 Milstar 6 Titan 4 Centaur Canaveral SLC40 Comms 12A Apr 9 2252 Galaxy 12 ) Ariane 5G Kourou ELA3 Comms 13B Insat 3A ) Comms 13A Apr 12 0047 Asiasat 4 Atlas 3B/SEC Canaveral SLC36B Comms 14A Apr 24 0423 Kosmos-2397 Proton-K/DM2 Baykonur LC81/24 Early Warn 15A Apr 26 0353 Soyuz TMA-2 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1/5 Spaceship 16A Apr 28 1159 GALEX Pegasus XL Canaveral RW30/12 UV Astron 17A May 8 1128 GSAT-2 GSLV Sriharikota Comms 18A May 9 0429 Hayabusa M-V Kagoshima Probe 19A May 13 2210 Hellas Sat 2 Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Comms 20A May 24 1634 Beidou CZ-3A Xichang Navigation 21A

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for    |                                    |

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SpaceRef staff editor.