Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 509 2003 Sep 18, Cambridge, MA

By SpaceRef Editor
September 21, 2003
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station


The Progress 248 (M-48) cargo ship was launched on Aug 29 (not Aug 28)
and docked with Zvezda on Aug 31. Progress 259 (M1-10) undocked from the
Pirs module on Sep 4 and will remain on orbit to carry out
remote sensing of the Earth with its onboard TV camera system.

Here is a summary of recent Progress and Soyuz missions:

ISS Mission Spacecraft                   Launch   Dock            Undock
  9P        7K-TGM  258 (Progress M1-9)  Sep 25   Sep 29, Zvezda  Feb  1
  5S        7K-STMA 211 (Soyuz TMA-1)    Oct 30   Nov  1, Pirs    May  3
  10P       7K-TGM  247 (Progress M-47)  Feb  2   Feb  4, Zvezda  Aug 27
  6S        7K-STMA 212 (Soyuz TMA-2)    Apr 26   Apr 28, Zarya   -
  11P       7K-TGM  259 (Progress M1-10) Jun  8   Jun 11, Pirs    Sep  4
  12P       7K-TG   248 (Progress M-48)  Aug 29   Aug 31, Zvezda  -

Note that NASA Public Affairs regularly commits the appalling solecism
of referring to Mission 12P as “Progress 12”, while Russian sources (and
they should know, since it’s their spacecraft) always use Progress M-48
(postlaunch name) or Progress 248 (7K-TGM No. 248, factory designation).
“Progress 12” should ONLY be used to refer to Progress 7K-TG No. 113,
launched in January 1981. “Progress 12P” would be (barely) acceptable,
but “Progress flight 12P” would more clearly indicate that you are using
the ISS mission number and not the name of the spacecraft. Similar
considerations apply to the Soyuz missions.

NASA has released its preliminary Return To Flight plan. I give some of
the highlights below. (NB – the items below are hardware related, which
reflects the hardware focus of JSR and does not imply I think they are
as important as the procedures and management changes).

Procedures are being developed for TPS inspection from ISS on approach.
If repair were needed, Atlantis would first dock, then grapple ISS with
the RMS, then undock while still attached by the RMS, rotating to place
the appropriate part of the Orbiter in easy access to spacewalkers using
the Station robot arm.

In September, inspection and testing on Atlantis’ RCC panels and
nosecap will be completed and they will be reinstalled on the orbiter.

In November 2003, the External Tank for STS-114 will be delivered with
modifications to the bipod attach ramp and several other areas where
foam could be lost.

Around November, pads 39A and 39B will be refurbished with recoating of
any exposed zinc primer (which was washing off the pad tower and
damaging RCC panels).

In December, NASA will install on the new ET a camera which will
transmit in-flight photos of the bipod and of the underside of Atlantis.
A camera will also be mounted on the nose cone of each SRB. (For
STS-115, cameras will also be installed further down on each SRB for a
better view of the Orbiter).

In December, ground tracking cameras will be refurbished, with new
cameras due for delivery in March.

In January, redesign ET/SRB separation bolt catchers will be installed.

In early 2004, a boom with laser sensor packages will be fabricated for
attachment to the RMS arm; it could be used for Atlantis to inspect
itself while in orbit.

A tile repair kit will be delivered in early 2004. It’s still not clear
when an RCC repair method will be ready.

Modifications to the cameras in the Orbiter umbilical well will not be
ready for STS-114, and the astronauts will use handheld cameras to image
the ET, downlinking the images to Earth.

In February, Atlantis should be mated with the ET and SRBs and moved to
the launch pad. Atlantis is currently manifested for launch on 2004
March 11, although this planning date has been criticized by Congress
as much too optimistic and is likely to be revised in the near future.



I want to draw readers attention to the excellent book by Abramov and
Skoog (Springer-Praxis, 2003) on “Russian Spacesuits”. This is one of
those rare books that almost meets the JSR standard on obsessiveness, with
detailed tables giving the serial number of each suit used on an EVA,
and careful typography giving both Cyrillic and transliterated English
versions of technical terms. (I do wish they’d included a table of
disposal dates for each spacesuit, though).



Japan is reorganizing its space effort by merging three agencies into
one. The early Japanese sounding rocket and satellite program was
carried out by a group at the University of Tokyo which in 1964 became
ISAS, the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Sciences, separated from
the university and renamed the Institute of Space and Astronautical
Science in 1981. In Japanese ISAS is called Uchu kagaku kenkyujo
(roughly, Space Science Research Institute). ISAS developed the Lambda,
Mu and M-V space launch vehicles and the Japanese scientific satellites
and planetary probes. Japanese applications satellites have been
developed by NASDA, the National Space Development Agency (Uchu kaihatsu
jigyodan, Space Development Agency) which grew out of the STA (Science
and Technology Agency). NASDA was founded in 1964 as NSDC (National
Space Development Center) and renamed in 1969; it developed the N-1,
H-1, H-2 and H-2A launch vehicles as well as satellites like ETS/Kiku,
GMS/Himawari and ADEOS/Midori. A third agency, the National Aerospace
Laboratory (NAL, or Kohkuh uchu gijutsu kenkyujo – roughly, Aviation
Space Engineering Institute) has participated in spaceplane
development. On 2003 Oct 1, the three agencies will be combined into the
new Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), known in Japanese as
Uchu kohkuh kenkyu kaihatsu kikou (roughly, Space-Aviation Research and
Development Organization). [Thanks to Mihoko Yukita for help with

Recent Launches


A USAF/Lockheed Martin Titan 4B/Centaur rocket with a 26-meter fairing
was launched on Sep 9. Titan B-36 took off from Complex 40 at Cape
Canaveral; the two SRMU strapons and the two Titan core stages fired and
then separated on suborbital trajectories. The upper stage, Centaur
TC-20, completed its first burn to enter parking orbit. It was expected
to make two more burns to deliver its National Reconnaissance Office
signals intelligence payload to geostationary orbit. In agreement with
other analysts, I speculate the payload is a successor to the USA-110
and USA-139 satellites launched in May 1995 and May 1998, and referred
to as “Advanced ORION” by those of us who don’t know what the real name
is; these satellites are thought to be successors to the RHYOLITE
missions of the 1970s.

Launches in the NRO/CIA RHYOLITE program and its successors
(“Codename” is based on open source guesses and leaks, notably
the works of Jeffrey Richelson, as well as official information
released during the Boyce spy trial):

Launch Official Name    Codename     Launch Date    Launch vehicle

1 AFP-720 RHYOLITE 1970 Jun 19 Atlas Agena D 5201A 2 AFP-720 RHYOLITE 1973 Mar 6 Atlas Agena D 5202A 3 AFP-472 AQUACADE 1977 Dec 11 Atlas Agena D 5504A 4 APF-472 AQUACADE 1978 Apr 8 Atlas Agena D 5505A 5 USA 8 MAGNUM 1985 Jan 24 STS-20(51-C)/IUS-11 6 USA 48 ORION 1989 Nov 23 STS-33R/IUS-5 7 USA 110 ? 1995 May 14 Titan Centaur TC-17 8 USA 139 ? 1998 May 9 Titan Centaur TC-18 9 USA 171? ? 2003 Sep 9 Titan Centaur TC-20

This was the last launch of a Titan Centaur. The TC-20 stage used two
RL10A-3-3A engines, like all Titan 4/Centaur missions except for TC-23
in April 2003, which is thought to have used two RL-10A-4-1A engines.
That vehicle was originally intended to be used for an elliptical orbit
signals intelligence satellite but was swapped for a Milstar, with the
classified satellite probably reassigned to an EELV flight. There have
been 23 Titan Centaur missions; TC-1 to TC-7 were civilian missions
using the Titan 3E (23E) and the D-1T model Centaur, while TC-8 to TC-23
were military missions on Titan 4 using a large diameter Centaur
(although TC-21 was used for the NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens launch).

NASDA’s Micro-LabSat satellite, which was launched on 2002 Dec 14, has
released two tiny subsatellites in an experiment to test an onboard
tracking imager for inspector satellites. The RITE (Remote Inspection
Technology Experiment) targets are disks about 0.1m in diameter. They
were released from Micro-LabSat on 2003 Mar 14 at 0140 UTC and 2003 May
14 at 0150 UTC. The targets have not been cataloged by USAF Space

The Cassini probe to Saturn made a course correction burn at 2000 UTC on
Sep 10, changing its velocity by 0.12m/s. At the time Cassini was 1284
million km from the Sun, in an orbit of 1.4462 AU x 9.2769 AU with an
inclination of 0.81 deg to the ecliptic plane (NB: 1 AU = 149.60 million
km) and the correction altered the orbit by about ten parts per million.
On Sep 14 Cassini was 137 million km from Saturn; Saturn’s nominal
gravitational sphere of influence is 55 million km in radius and Cassini
will reach this point on 2004 Mar 10. The probe will make a 2000 km
flyby of the Saturnian moon Phoebe on 2004 Jun 11.

Table of Recent Launches


Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.
Aug  8 0331   Echostar 9        Zenit-3SL       Odyssey, POR      Comms      34A
Aug 12 1420   Kosmos-2399       Soyuz-U         Baykonur LC31/6   Imaging    35A
Aug 13 0209   Scisat-1          Pegasus XL      Vandenberg RW30/12 Science   36A
Aug 19 1050   Kosmos-2400 )     Kosmos-3M       Plesetsk LC132/1  Comms      37A
              Kosmos-2401 )                                                  37B
Aug 25 0535   SIRTF             Delta 7920H     Canaveral SLC17B  Astronomy  38A
Aug 29 0148   Progress M-48     Soyuz-U         Baykonur          Cargo      39A
Aug 29 2313   DSCS III B-6      Delta IVM       Canaveral SLC37B  Comms      40A
Sep  9 0429   USA 171           Titan 4B/Centaur Canaveral SLC40  Sigint     41A

.-------------------------------------------------------------------------. | Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 | | 1 Fitchburg St C-205 | | | Somerville MA 02143 | | | and | | | Center for Astrophysics, | | | 60 Garden St, MS6 | | | Cambridge MA 02138 | inter : | | USA | | | | | JSR: | | Back issues: | | Subscribe/unsub: mail, (un)subscribe jsr

SpaceRef staff editor.