Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 582 2007 Jul 7

By SpaceRef Editor
July 9, 2007
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station

Yurchikin, Kotov and Anderson continue the Expedition 15 mission on board the Station.

OV-104 Atlantis was mounted on one of the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), NASA 905, at Dryden Flight Research Center, for transport back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA 905 took off from Edwards AFB Runway 22 at 1304 UTC on Jul 1 and landed around 1546 UTC at Amarillo, Texas. Later that day it flew onward to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska (info from On Jul 2 the SCA continued to Ft Campbell, Kentucky and on Jul 3 returned to the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. By Jul 4 Atlantis was in the Orbiter Processing Facility, while in the Vehicle Assembly Building Endeavour was being mated to external tank ET-117 and the RSRM-97 solid boosters in preparation for the August launch of STS-118.

Yaogan 2

The Chinese Yaogan remote sensing satellites are something of a mystery. They are rumoured to carry SAR (synthetic aperture radar) and be at least partly for military surveillance applications. The first Yaogan was launched on a three-stage CZ-4 in 2006; the final stage ended up in a 452 x 624 km orbit, while Yaogan was tracked in a 601 x 621 km orbit that was raised over a few days to 623 x 626 km. It’s not clear whether Yaogan entered the final-stage orbit first and raised its own perigee, or whether (more likely?) it was deployed in the 601 x 621 km orbit, and the final stage then made a depletion burn to drop its.

Yaogan 2, launched this year on a two-stage CZ-2D, entered a 631 x 655 km orbit and does not appear to have made any significant maneuvers. No other object from the launch has been cataloged by US sensors – what happened to the CZ-2D second stage? Did Yaogan 2 perform orbit insertion with an onboard engine leaving the second stage in a suborbital trajectory? Did the second stage remain attached to the Yaogan 2 payload, either deliberately or as a result of a separation failure? Did the second stage make a major depletion burn that removed it from orbit? (This would be unprecedented for the CZ-2D, but would be a welcome innovation). It will be interesting to follow this and later Yaogan missions and see if a pattern emerges.


Russia’s Kobal’t-M imaging satellite Kosmos-2427 was launched into a 167 x 339 km x 67.1 deg orbit on Jun 7. It raised the orbit on Jun 11 to 182 x 354 km; the orbit then slowly decayed until Jun 19, when it was lowered slightly from 179 x 335 km to 175 x 325 km. On Jun 28 the orbit was boosted to 183 x 348 km, and on Jul 5 to 169 x 375 km.


Bigelow Aerospace’s Genesis-2 spacecraft was launched into orbit on Jun 28 by a Dnepr rocket from the Yasniy spaceport in Russia, at the former Dombarovskiy ICBM base. Jim Oberg reports that silo 1-1 was used. Genesis-2 inflated from an initial diameter of 1.8m to 2.5m and deployed 4 solar panels; the pressurized vehicle is a 1/3 scale model of a proposed space station module. The spacecraft is in a 555 x 562 km x 64.5 deg orbit. As is normal with Dnepr launches, the nose fairing ended up in a higher 545 x 1792 km x 64.5 deg trajectory.


Russia launched a Tselina-2 electronic intelligence satellite on Jun 29 from Baykonur into a 846 x 856 km x 71.0 deg orbit. The Tselina-2 satellites are built by the Ukranian company Yuzhnoye, as is the Zenit-2M rocket used to launch it. This was the first launch of the Zenit-2M, an improved version of the Zenit-2. The rocket was upgraded using components developed for the Sea Launch/Land Launch program. The second stage of the Zenit-2 uses four small motors to separate from its payload; the covers of these motors are ejected into a higher orbit of 850 x 1150 km.

Catalog 29676 and others

For some strange reason or administrative oversight, Space Command catalog number 29676 has still not been assigned, even though the catalog is otherwise complete up to number 31799. It was briefly assigned to 2006-61B, a piece from the Meridian 1 launch, but then removed. Numbers 26743 and 26861 are also vacant.

SAR-Lupe 2

Germany’s second SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance satellite was launched on Jul 2 by a Russian Kosmos-3M rocket from Plesetsk into a 469 x 507 km x 98.2 deg orbit.

DirecTV 10

The DirecTV 10 Ka-band television broadcasting satellite, a Boeing 702 model, was launched by a Krunichev Proton-M on July 7. The Briz-M stage’s first three burns took it from -397 x 174 km to 173 x 173 km to 257 x 5000 km to 315 x 14190 km. The Briz-M stage drop tank was left in a 315 x 14190 km x 46 deg orbit; DirecTV was in a 414 x 35812 km x 45 deg geostationary transfer orbit by 0501 UTC, with a further burn at 1004 UTC placing it in a 4898 x 35786 km x 21.36 deg orbit. At this point the Briz-M separated, leaving the satellite’s own propulsion to take it to geostationary orbit.

Zhongxing 6B

Chinasat’s new ZX-6B satellite, a Thales Alenia Spacebus 4000, was launched by a CZ-3B on Jul 4 into a 233 x 49721 km x 24.2 deg transfer orbit.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Jun  7 1800   Kosmos-2427       Soyuz-U          Plesetsk        Imaging     22A
Jun  8 0234   COSMO-Skymed 1    Delta 7420       Vandenberg SLC2 Radar       23A   
Jun  8 2338   Atlantis (STS-117) Space Shuttle   Kennedy LC39A   Spaceship   24A
Jun 10 2340   'Ofeq 7           Shavit           Palmachim       Imaging     25A
Jun 15 0214   TerraSAR-X        Dnepr            Baykonur LC109  Radar       26A
Jun 15 1511   USA 194)          Atlas V 401      Canaveral SLC41 Sigint      27A
              NRO?   )                                           Sigint      27C
Jun 28 1502   Genesis 2         Dnepr            Yasniy          Tech        28A
Jun 29 1000   Kosmos-2428       Zenit-2M         Baykonur LC45/1 Sigint      29A
Jul  2 1938   SAR-Lupe 2        Kosmos-3M        Plesetsk LC132  Radar       30A
Jul  4 1208   Zhongxing 6B      Chang Zheng 3B   Xichang LC2     Comms       31A
Jul  7 0116   DirecTV 10        Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC200/39 Comms     32A

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