Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 546 2005 Apr 14

By SpaceRef Editor
April 14, 2005
Filed under ,


Mike Griffin was confirmed as NASA Administrator on Apr 14. In testimony
to the US Senate, Griffin endorsed both human exploration and the
robotic science program, saying “NASA can do more than one thing”.
That’s a very encouraging beginning – let’s hope he can make the math
work out, because just in the past couple of weeks space science got hit
with big cuts to Great Observatory operating budgets and major research
grant (i.e. postdoc salary) programs in order to help pay for Shuttle
return-to-flight costs.

Space Station

Expedition 10 astronauts Shalizan Sharipov (in suit Orlan-M No. 27) and
Leroy Chiao (in suit Orlan-M No. 25) made a spacewalk on Mar 28 from the
Pirs airlock module. They installed communications and GPS antennae to
support rendezvous and docking by the European ATV Jules Verne ferry.
Pirs was depressurized by 0608 UTC and the hatch was opened at 0625 UTC.
At 0830 UTC Sharipov threw a 5 kg nanosatellite into space, and at 1055
UTC the hatch was closed for repressurization at 1057. The nanosatellite
experiment is called Nanosputnik, TEKh-42 or TNS-0 No. 1, and is 0.3m
long. Several antenna covers and cleaning towels were also jettisoned,
with mass at most 0.1 kg each. [Times from Andrey Krasil’nikov; duration
4h30min hatch open/close; 4h49min depress/repress].

Launch of Soyuz TMA-6 is scheduled for Apr 15, with Expedition 11 crew
Sergey Krikalyov and John Phillips as well as EP-8 visiting crewmember
Roberto Vittori aboard.


The US Air Force has launched the XSS-11 experimental satellite on an
Orbital Minotaur from Space Launch Complex 8 at Vandenberg. The
satellite probably entered an 800 km, 99 deg orbit. It will rendezvous
with several defunct US-owned satellites to test autonomous rendezvous
and inspection technology. The satellite was built by Lockheed
Martin/Denver for the Air Force Research Lab.

Apstar 6

APT Satellite Co. (Hong Kong) launched the APStar 6 communications
satellite to supplement its existing fleet. The satellite was launched
by China using a CZ-3B into a 209 x 49991 km x 26 deg supersynchronous
transfer orbit. It is an Alcatel Spacebus 4000 with Ku and C band

Ekspress AM-2

Russia’s Ekspress AM-2 communications satellite was launched at 2131 UTC
on Mar 29 by a Krunichev Proton-K rocket, serial number 410-09, with an
Energiya Blok DM-2M upper stage. The Proton-K third stage reached low
parking orbit, with the DM-2M first burn at 2244 UTC entering elliptical
transfer orbit. Ekspress AM-2 is built by NPO PM with an Alcatel comms
payload of C, Ku and L band transponders. It will be stationed at 80E.
[Note: some reports quote 2231 UTC, which is an error caused by ignoring
Moscow’s recent shift to daylight saving time when converting from Moscow time].


The Cassini spacecraft made its Titan-4 flyby at 2005 UTC on Mar 31,
passing 2402 km above 33.3 deg N 118.6 deg W. Closest approach to Saturn
on this orbit was on Mar 29, completing a 20-day circuit which began
with a 504 km Enceladus flyby and a 82000 km Tethys flyby on Mar 9. The
flyby lowered the Saturnian apoapsis The north polar Titan-5 (06TI)
flyby is due on 1912 UTC Apr 16 at a height of 1025 km above 74.0N 272W.


Japan has renamed the MTSAT-1R as Himawari-6, following on from the
GMS weather satellites Himawari-1 to 5 (Himawari means ‘sunflower’).

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  

Mar 1 0351 XM Radio 3 Zenit-3SL Odyssey, PO Comms 08A Mar 11 2142 Inmarsat 4 F-1 Atlas V 431 Canaveral SLC41 Comms 09A Mar 28 0830 TNS-0 Nanosputnik - ISS, LEO Tech 05C Mar 29 2131 Ekspress AM-2 Proton-K/DM2M Baykonur PL200 Comms 10A Apr 11 1335 XSS-11 Minotaur Vandenberg SLC8 Tech 11A Apr 12 1200 Apstar 6 CZ-3B Xichang Comms 12A

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SpaceRef staff editor.