Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 586 2007 Oct 14

By SpaceRef Editor
October 14, 2007
Filed under ,

Shuttle and Station

Soyuz TMA-11 was launched at 1322 UTC on Oct 10. The spaceship is production number 221, and flies the ISS 15S mission carrying both the Expedition 16 long stay crew and the EP-13 visiting crew to the Space Station. The Soyuz crew is commanded by Yuriy Malenchenko and includes NASA’s Peggy Whitson and Malaysia’s Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie. They docked with the Station’s Zarya module at 1450 UTC on Oct 12. Aboard the station, Whitson takes command as Expedition 16 commander, with Malenchenko as flight engineer, together with second flight engineer Clay Anderson who has been aboard since August. Expedition 15 crew Fyodor Yurchikin and Oleg Kotov will return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-10 together with EP-13 crewmember Shukor Al Masrie.

Orbiter OV-103 Discovery is now on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center awaiting launch on mission STS-120.

The Progress M-60 cargo ship undocked from Zvezda at 0037 UTC on Sep 19 and was used for plasma depletion experiments before being deorbited over the Pacific at 1901 UTC on Sep 25. Progress M-61 remains docked at Pirs. Soyuz TMA-10 undocked from Zarya at 1920 UTC on Sep 27 and docked with Zvezda at 1947 UTC.


The Dawn space probe was launched towards the asteroid belt on Sep 27. Congratulations to loyal reader and Dawn project engineer Marc Rayman; I recommend his journal at

Dawn is the 9th NASA Discovery mission and will orbit the dwarf planet Ceres and the large asteroid Vesta; it follows on from the successful Deep Space 1 technology mission in using ion drive for NASA planetary exploration. It has 3 NSTAR xenon ion thrusters, with 425 kg of xenon propellant for interplanetary travel, and 12 0.9-Newton MR-103G hydrazine thrusters with 46 kg of propellant for asteroid orbit insertion. The spacecraft was built by Orbital/Dulles using a Star-2-derived bus with a dry mass of 747 kg, and is 1.8 x 1.3m in size with two large 19.7-meter-span solar arrays to provide power for the ion drive. Dawn has three main instruments: the Framing Cameras, the VIR visible/IR mapping spectrometer, and the GRaND gamma ray and neutron spectrometer. The mission is managed by JPL and principal investigator is Chris Russell of UCLA.

United Launch Alliance carried out the launch on a Boeing Delta 7925H at 1134 UTC on Sep 27. At 1142 UTC the Delta second stage reached a 185 x 186 km Earth parking orbit; the second burn was at 1225 UTC. After a third, depletion, burn the second stage was in a 170 x 6776 km x 26.7 deg orbit, but I don’t have the post-second-burn orbit – it was probably about 185 x 6835 km with a velocity at perigee of 9.01 km/s. The PAM-D solid third stage fired at 1229 UTC to accelerate the probe to an escape velocity of 11.50 km/s; at 1236 UTC the stage separated after releasing two small despin weights on cables. Dawn’s hyperbolic escape orbit of 209 x -83420 km x 28.9 deg had an asymptotic velocity of 3.36 km/s (specific energy C3 = 11.319 km**2/s**2). Dawn passed lunar orbit at about 1430 UTC on Sep 28 and left the Earth’s sphere of influence on Sep 30. Dawn is now in a 1.00 x 1.62 AU solar orbit inclined 0.5 deg to the ecliptic; after a Mars flyby in Feb 2009 it will reach Vesta in 2011 and Ceres in 2015. The first test burn of the ion engine on Oct 6 was successful.

Kaguya ——

Japan’s Kaguya moon probe was in a 2243 x 378132 km cislunar transfer orbit by Sep 30; on Oct 3 at 2100 UTC it entered a 101 x 11741 km x 95 deg lunar orbit. The probe is now lowering its orbit to 100 km circular; the Okina (R-Star) subsatellite was ejected into a 115 x 2399 km orbit at 0036 UTC on Oct 9, and the Ouna (VRAD) subsatellite was ejected at 0428 UTC on Oct 12 into a 127 x 795 km orbit.

Ariane L526

Intelsat IS-11 and Optus D2 were launched by Ariane 5GS vehicle L526. Both are Orbital Star-2 communications satellites; IS-11 provides Atlantic region C and Ku-band comms for Intelsat, and Optus D2 is a Ku-band satellite for Australia/New Zealand region TV, internet, telecom and data. By Oct 12 both had reached geosynchronous altitude.


The USAF’s first Wideband Global Satcom satellite was launched by United Launch Alliance Atlas V model 421, serial AV-011 on Oct 11 into a 477 x 66847 km x 20.1 deg transfer orbit. The satellite replaces the DSCS military communications satellites and carries X-band and Ka-band communications payloads. WGS uses a Boeing 702 bus.

Foton M-3

The Foton M-3 microgravity satellite was deorbited at 0723 UTC on Sep 26 and landed at 0758 UTC in Kazakhstan, returing its Russian/European microgravity payload to Earth.

One day earlier, on Sep 25 at 0447 UTC, the ESA YES-2 tether was deployed from the battery pack on the front end of Foton. The tether was then severed at the battery pack end at about 0720 UTC, after it had reached only 8.5 km of its planned 30 km length. The tiny 5 kg Fotino reentry capsule separated from the attached MASS data support system shortly afterwards. The idea was that the dynamics of space tethers let you send a capsule back to Earth without using a heavy retro-rocket; as the tether swings beneath the parent satellite, if you wait until the velocity of the capsule is too low for orbit at that height and then release it, it will reenter for free. It is not yet known what actually happened to the capsule; my best guess is that both MASS/tether and Fotino did reenter sometime on Sep 25 either on their first orbit or shortly afterwards. The next day at Foton deorbit, the battery pack and its attached YES2 deployer was ejected into a 257 x 275 km orbit and two retrorocket covers were ejected into higher 265 x 500 km orbits.


On Sep 21, the China-Brazil CBERS-2B remote sensing satellite raised its orbit to an operational altitude of 773 km.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
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       40C
              Fotino     )                                        Tech       40
              MASS       )                                        Tech       40
Sep 18 1835   WorldView 1       Delta 7920       Vandenberg SLC2W Imaging    41A
Sep 19 0326   CBERS-2B          Chang Zheng 4B   Taiyuan          Imaging    42A
Sep 27 1134   Dawn              Delta 7925H      Canaveral SLC17B Probe      43A
Oct  5 2202   Intelsat IS-11 )  Ariane 5GS       Kourou ELA3      Comms      44A
              Optus D-2      )                                    Comms      44B
Oct 10 1322   Soyuz TMA-11      Soyuz-FG         Baykonur LC1     Spaceship  45A
Oct 11 0022   WGS SV-1          Atlas V 421      Canaveral SLC41  Comms      46A

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