Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 585 2007 Sep 19

By SpaceRef Editor
September 20, 2007
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station

Endeavour landed on runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 1632 UTC on Aug 21. The deorbit burn at 1525 UTC lowered the orbit from 336 x 347 km to about -28 x 342 km; landing mass was 100878 kg.

On Aug 30 the PMA-3 docking port was moved from Unity’s port side to its nadir side, freeing the port side for use by the Harmony module to be launched on STS-120. The Canadarm-2 was used to unberth PMA-3 about 1215 UTC and reattach it at 1309 UTC.

Proton failure

A Krunichev Proton-M rocket failed just after second stage ignition on Sep 6, destroying the Japanese JCSAT-11 communications satellite payload. Proton-M serial 53522 took off from complex 39 at area 200 with JCSAT-11 and the Briz-M No. 88522 upper stage. The first stage separated 2 min after launch. It seems there was some kind of problem with second stage ignition, and the vehicle fell back to Earth from an altitude of around 75 km.

JCSAT-11 was a Lockheed Martin A2100 series satellite with a launch mass of 4007 kg.


Russia’s Kosmos-2427 Kobal’t-M class imaging satellite, launched on June 7, landed around 2100 UTC on Aug 22 after 76 days. Two objects, 2007-22D and E, separated in orbit prior to the recovery from a 178 x 350 km x 67.1 deg orbit.

Insat 4CR

The Insat 4CR Ku-band television satellite was launched on Sep 2 by India’s GSLV rocket. GSLV-F04 took off from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre and put the Insat in a 196 x 31878 km x 15.8 deg transfer orbit. The apogee is a little lower than the standard 35800 km GTO apogee, but the Insat on-board apogee engine was able to make up the difference and in Sep 3 it was in a 2981 x 35712 km x 11.0 deg intermediate orbit. By Sep 6 Insat 4CR was in a 32579 x 35226 km x 0.3 deg orbit approaching geostationary altitude. The satellite replaces Insat 4C, lost in the destruction of GSLV-F02 in 2006. (GSLV-F03 has not yet been launched.)


A Russian Defense Ministry Parus-class navigation satellite was launched on Sep 11 into a 943 x 1008 km x 83.0 deg orbit using a Kosmos-3M rocket and given the code name Kosmos-2429.


The Japanese SELENE moon probe, Kaguya, was launched from Tanegashima spaceport on Sep 14. Planned orbit was 281 x 232805 km x 29.9 deg; later maneuvers by the probe will raise the apogee to lunar distance.

Foton M-3

The Foton M-3 satellite was launched from Baykonur on Sep 14 carrying Russian and European microgravy, life sciences and technology experiments. The spacecraft is in a 258 x 280 km x 62.9 deg orbit. Prior to reentry it will release the European YES-2/Fotino space tether/reentry experiment.


DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 satellite was launched on Sep 18 by a Boeing Delta 2 into a 493 x 494 km x 97.5 deg orbit. WorldView-1 carries a 0.6-m aperture imaging telescope/camera for high resolution Earth imaging; DigitalGlobe’s main customer will be the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA).


CBERS-2B, the third China-Brazil environmental research satellite, was launched from China’s Taiyuan space center on Sep 19 into a 736 x 741 km polar orbit. The satellite will probably raise its orbit to 774 x 774 km over the next few days, matching the other CBERS satellites.

NFIRE Mission 2a

As I reported in earlier issues, the NFIRE (Near Field IR Experiment) satellite was launched on Apr 24 by a Minotaur I from Launch Area 0B at Wallops Island. The Missile Defense Agency satellite was built by General Dynamics’ Gilbert, Arizona (former Spectrum Astro) unit based on its SA-200 bus and is managed by the USAF Missile Defense Space Systems Office (SMC/SS) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, which is also responsible for the STSS space tracking satellite program. NFIRE was launched into a 255 x 465 km x 48.2 deg orbit; from May 3 to May 18 the orbit was raised to 489 x 497 km and it remained in that orbit on Aug 2. On Aug 9, the orbit was lowered again to 243 x 487 km and by Aug 23 it was in a 219 x 450 km orbit.

NFIRE carries a German laser communications terminal, Tesat, as a secondary payload, but its main instrument is TSP, the Track Sensor Payload, which includes visible and short, medium and long wave infrared sensors to track missiles and their rocket plumes, and is designed to distinguish between the missile and its plume. The satellite is 494 kg full 380 kg dry, 2.7m long and 1.3m diameter.

In a major test of the satellite, a Minotaur II rocket, TLV-7, was launched at 0830 UTC on Aug 23 from Vandenberg’s LF06 silo as NFIRE Mission 2a. The Minotaur II is a three-stage Minuteman 2 missile refurbished by Orbital Sciences with a new guidance and payload section, and has been used for a number of suborbital missile defense tests. (The Minotaur 1 is an orbital launch vehicle which uses the first two stages of a Minuteman 2, topped with two stages taken from the Pegasus space launch vehicle). On each of the two planned Mission 2 flights, the rocket will be aimed to pass within 4 and 20 km of the NFIRE satellite while its third stage motor is burning, allowing NFIRE to get a close look at the rocket and its exhaust. The Missile Defense Agency reported that the Mission 2a flyby was successful.

Suborbital flights

While on the subject of suborbital launches, here is a list of all suborbital flights so far this year that I know about. Only those with apogees above 80 km are included. I know the list is incomplete (and I would welcome additions) but I thought it might be interesting to my readers to see the range of suborbital missions that are happening these days. (Warning: wide format window needed to view this). Congrats to Stephan McCandliss for his successful ultraviolet telescope flight on Aug 13 which observed the Trifid Nebula (M20).

Suborbital launches 2007 (above 80 km)


Launch Date    Flight ID        Payload                 Launch Vehicle    Site         Estimated  Launch/Payload      Mission
  UTC                                                                                  Apogee/km  organizations       category

Jan 11 2228?                    [Antisatellite weapon]  DF-21             Xichang        850?   China               Weapon
Jan 16 0220    S-310-37         S-310-37                S-310             Uchinoura      138    JAXA/ISAS           Ionosphere
Jan 19 1229?   NASA 21.138UE    JOULE II                Black Brant VC    Poker Flat     200?   NASA/Clemson U.     Auroral
Jan 19 1230?   NASA 36.234UE    JOULE II                Black Brant IX    Poker Flat     200?   NASA/Clemson U.     Auroral
Jan 19 1244?   NASA 41.064UE    JOULE II                Terrier Orion     Poker Flat     200?   NASA/Clemson U.     Auroral
Jan 19 1245?   NASA 41.064UE    JOULE II                Terrier Orion     Poker Flat     200?   NASA/Clemson U.     Auroral
Jan 27 0520    FMA              Dummy warhead           Scud              MLP, Kauai     100?   MDA/US Army         Target
Jan 27 0520    FTT-6            THAAD Kill Vehicle      THAAD             Kauai          100?   US Army             Interceptor
Jan 30?       [Long range test] Reentry vehicle         Scud D            Syria          150?   Syrian Missile Cmd  Missile R&D flight              
Feb  7 0814    GT193GM          Mk 12 RV                Minuteman III     Vandenberg    1300?   USAF AFSPC          Missile op. test
Feb 12 1245    NASA 40.020UE    ROPA                    Black Brant XII   Poker Flat     748    NASA/Dartmouth U.   Auroral
Feb 14 0922    NASA 41.061      HEX-II V-1              Terrier Orion     Poker Flat     200?   NASA/U. Alaska      Auroral/Atmosphere
Feb 14 0927    NASA 35.037      HEX-II H                Black Brant X     Poker Flat     150    NASA/U. Alaska      Auroral/Atmosphere
Feb 14 0936    NASA 41.063      HEX-II V-2              Terrier Orion     Poker Flat     200?   NASA/U. Alaska      Auroral/Atmosphere
Feb 14 0938    NASA 41.062      HEX-II V-3              Terrier Orion     Poker Flat     200?   NASA/U. Alaska      Auroral/Atmosphere
Feb 28 0839    NASA 40.019UE    CHARM                   Black Brant XII   Poker Flat     900?   NASA/Dartmouth      Auroral
Mar  6 0030    -                SRALT?                  SR-19             C-17, Kauai    100?   MDA/US Army         Target
Mar 21 0110    2                Demosat                 Falcon 1          KMR/Omelek     330?   SpaceX              Orbit failure
Mar 21 0427    TLV-5            Mk 12 RV?               Minotaur 2        Vandenberg    1300?   USAF AFSPC          Target         
Apr  6 0642    FMA              Dummy warhead           Scud              MLP, Kauai     100?   MDA/US Army         Target
Apr 12 0532    -                Reentry vehicle         Agni 3            Chandipur      400    India/IDRDL         Missile R&D flight  
Apr 26 2131    FTM-11           Aegis target            Terrier Orion     Kauai          160?   US Navy             Target 
Apr 26 2132    FTM-11           SM-3 Kinetic Warhead    SM-3              CG-70, Kauai   160    US Navy             Interceptor                        
Apr 28 1456    -                Test payload            SpaceLoft XL      SWRS           117    UP Aerospace/SSI    Test/Burial
May 15         FCET-37          USN Mk 5 RVs (8?)       Trident II        SSBN 734, ETR 1000?   US Navy             Missile op. test
May 15         FCET-37          USN Mk 5 RVs (8?)       Trident II        SSBN 734, ETR 1000?   US Navy             Missile op. test
May 29 1020    -                Reentry vehicles (3?)   Topol'-M (Yars)   Plesetsk      1000?   Rossiya/RVSN        Missile R&D flight      
Jun 15 0245    -                HYCAUSE                 Talos Castor      Woomera        530    Australia DSTO      Hypersonic test flight
Jun 15         ARAV             ARAV Target             Terrier Orion     Kauai          150?   US Navy             Target
Jun 15         ARAV             ARAV Target             Terrier Orion     Kauai          150?   US Navy             Target
Jun 21         F2               TN75 RVs (6?)           MSBS M51          Landes        1000?   DMA France          Missile R&D flight
Jun 21         NASA 12.059GT    ST5000/CACS             Terrier Orion     White Sands    130?   NASA/NSROC          Engineering flight
Jun 23 0240    FTM-12           Aegis target            Castor 4B?        Kauai          150?   US Navy             Target
Jun 23 0244    FTM-12           SM-3 Kinetic Warhead    SM-3              DDG-73, Kauai  160    US Navy             Interceptor 
Jun 28         -                Reentry vehicle         Bulava          TK-208,WhiteSea 1000?   VMF (Rossiya)       Missile R&D flight
Jul 19 1513    -                Cuma II                 VSB-30            Alcantara      242    AEB/INPE            Microgravity
Aug  3 2251    NASA 41.069      MASS 1                  Terrier Orion     Andoya         130?   NASA/Colorado       Atmosphere  
Aug  3 2322    -                ECOMA 3                 Nike Orion        Andoya         127    ARR/DLR/IAP         Atmosphere  
Aug  6 2256    NASA 41.070      MASS 2                  Terrier Orion     Andoya         130?   NASA/Colorado       Atmosphere   
Aug  7         -                Reentry vehicle         R-29R Volna      K-211, Pacific 1000?   VMF (Rossiya)       Missile op. test
Aug 13 0545    NASA 36.220UG    JHU LIDOS 2             Black Brant IX    White Sands    278?   NASA/JHU            UV Astronomy
Aug 23 0830    TLV-7            NFIRE 2a                Minotaur 2        Vandenberg    1300?   USAF                Sensor target

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Jul  2 1938   SAR-Lupe 2        Kosmos-3M        Plesetsk LC132   Radar      30A
Jul  5 1208   Zhongxing 6B      Chang Zheng 3B   Xichang LC2      Comms      31A
Jul  7 0116   DirecTV 10        Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC200/39 Comms     32A
Aug  2 1733   Progress M-61     Soyuz-U          Baykonur LC1     Cargo      33A
Aug  4 0926   Phoenix           Delta 7925       Canaveral SLC17A Mars probe 34A
Aug  8 2236   Endeavour  )      Space Shuttle    Kennedy LC39A    Spaceship  35A
              ITS S5     )                                        Truss
              Spacehab-SM)                                        Module
Aug 14 2344   Spaceway 3 )      Ariane 5ECA      Kourou           Comms      36A
              BSAT-3A    )                                        Comms      36B
Sep  2 1250   Insat 4CR         GSLV             SDSC             Comms      37A
Sep  5 2243   JCSAT 11          Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur         Comms      F03
Sep 11 1305   Kosmos-2429       Kosmos-3M        Plesetsk LC132/1 Navigation 38A
Sep 14 0131   Kaguya            H-IIA 2022       Tanegashima      Moon probe 39A
Sep 14 1100   Foton M-3  )      Soyuz-U          Baykonur         Micrograv  40A
              YES-2      )                                        Tech       40B
Sep 18 1835   WorldView 1       Delta 7920       Vandenberg SLC2W Imaging    41A
Sep 19 0326   CBERS-2B          Chang Zheng 4B   Taiyuan          Imaging    42A
|  Jonathan McDowell                 |  phone : (617) 495-7176            |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : [email protected]   |
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SpaceRef staff editor.