Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 595 2008 Apr 26

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2008
Filed under ,
Jonathan’s Space Report No. 595 2008 Apr 26

Shuttle and Station

Endeavour landed on Mar 27 after a successful STS-123 mission. Progress M-63 undocked from Pirs at 0849 UTC on Apr 7 and was deorbited over the Pacific later the same day.

Soyuz TMA-12 was launched on Apr 8. Aboard are the EO-17 crew of Sergey Aleksandrovich Volkov, Oleg Dmitreevich Kononenko, and the EP-14 crew consisting of Dr. Yi Soyeon of South Korea’s KAIST (formerly the Korea Advanced Inst. of Science and Technology). Volkov is the son of former cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov. Dr. Yi is flying as a ‘spaceflight participant’ (uchastnik kosmicheskovo poleta) under the Korean Astronaut Program, managed by Korea’s KARI space agency. KARI is the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (Han-guk Hanggong Uju Yeon-guwon), based in Daejeon.

TMA-12 docked at the Pirs module on 2008 Apr 10 at 1257 UTC. Malenchenko, Whitson and Yi undocked from the Zarya module aboard Soyuz TMA-11 at 0506 UTC on Apr 19. The deorbit burn was at 0740 UTC and following an anomalous (partly ballistic) reentry they landed in Kazakstan 470 km short of the target point at around 0829 UTC. There may have been a separation problem between the descent and propulsion modules. According to the Novosti Kosmonavtiki forum the actual landing site was at 50 31 N 61 07E. Volkov, Kononenko and Garrett Reisman remain on board ISS; the Jules Verne ATV remains docked at the Zvezda port.

AMC 14

SES has announced that AMC 14 is to be declared a total loss. It currently remains in a 778 x 35570 km x 49.0 deg orbit, with its future unclear.


Russell Eberst pointed out that I messed up the orbital planes for the SAR-Lupe satellites in JSR 594.

Here are the correct values for 2008 Mar 28:

 SAR-Lupe 1   2006 Dec 19   466 x 501 x 98.1  NodeRA = 143 deg 
 SAR-Lupe 2   2007 Jul  2   472 x 496 x 98.2  NodeRA = 208 deg 
 SAR-Lupe 3   2007 Nov  1   473 x 494 x 98.2  NodeRA = 272 deg
 SAR-Lupe 4   2008 Mar 27   470 x 508 x 98.2  NodeRA = 143 deg

So, the satellites are spaced about 65 deg apart and the new satellite SAR-Lupe 4 is in the same plane as the first one.


The ICO G1 satellite was launched by a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 model 421 (serial AV-014) on Apr 14. The satellite is a Loral 1300 with a launch mass of 6600 kg and will provide mobile communications services for ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Ltd based in Reston, Virginia. ICO is a successor company to Teledesic and to the old ICO Global Communications of London, which lost one satellite to a launch failure in 2000. ICO launched a second Hughes satellite in 2001 to a medium altitude orbit, and keeps ten more in storage. Meanwhile, ICO is switching to a more conventional geostationary service; the new G1 satellite was in a 35772 x 35836 km x 6.0 deg geostationary drift orbit on Apr 25.


The DoD Space Test Program’s P00-3 space weather forecasting mission, C/NOFS (Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System) was launched by an Orbital Sciences Pegasus on Apr 16. The L-1011 carrier plane took off from Kwajalein atoll in the Pacific. Planned orbit was 375 x 720 km x 13 deg. C/NOFS is a research satellite carring ionospheric instruments, including the Aerospace Corp.’s CORISS receiver which uses GPS signals to determine electron densities in the ionosphere, and NRL’s CERTO ionospheric radio beacon. The spacecraft was built by General Dynamics C4 Systems (former Spectrum Astro) and is managed by DoD-STP and AFRL (the Air Force Research Lab). It will forecast ionospheric scintillation which causes problems with communications and GPS signals; the satellite will deploy six 10-meter booms.

The one previous Pegasus launch from Kwajalein used a launch vehicle drop point of 167.7E 7.65N. I don’t have any information about the drop point for this mission, and an accurate launch time has not been released.

Star One/Vinasat

Another Arianespace launch with Ariane 5ECA serial number 539 placed two communications satellites in orbit. The EPC core stage reached a -1405 x 211 km x 7.4 deg sub-orbit, and the ESC-A upper stage delivered the payloads to a 272 x 35677 x 2.0 deg transfer orbit, a record low inclination for an Ariane launch. The upper payload is Star One C2, for the Brazilian operator Star One. Star One C2 has C, Ku and X-band transponders and was built by Thales (Cannes) using the Spacebus 3000B3 bus. The lower payload is Vinasat 1, the first satellite owned by Vietnam. The VNPT (Vietnam Post and Telecom Corp) satellite is an A2100 built by Lockheed Martin (Newton) with C and Ku band payloads. Vinasat 1 is currently being tracked as object D (32770) but will probably be redesignated soon. Star One C2 may be object C (32769).

Tian Lian 1

China’s first Tian Lian data relay satellite was launched on Apr 25 into a 218 x 41817 km x 18.1 deg transfer orbit. The launch vehicle was the CZ-3C, a new variant of the CZ-3A series with 2 strapons (compared to the basic CZ-3A with no strapons and the heavy CZ-3B with 4 strapons).

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Mar  9 0403   Jules Verne ATV   Ariane 5ES       Kourou ELA3       Cargo     08A
Mar 11 0628   Endeavour(STS-123) Space Shuttle   Kennedy LC39A     Spaceship 09A
Mar 13 1002   USA 200           Atlas V 411      Vandenberg SLC3E  Sigint    10A
Mar 14 2318   AMC 14            Proton-M/Briz-M  Baykonur LC200/39 Comms     11A
Mar 15 0610   GPS 48            Delta 7925       Canaveral SLC17A Navigation 12A
Mar 19 2248   DirecTV 11        Zenit-3SL        SL Odyssey, POR   Comms     13A
Mar 27 1715   SAR-Lupe 4        Kosmos-3M        Plesetsk LC132/1  Radar     14A
Apr  8 1116   Soyuz TMA-12      Soyuz-FG         Baykonur LC1      Spaceship 15A 
Apr 14 2012   ICO G1            Atlas V 421      Canaveral SLC41   Comms     16A
Apr 16 1702?  C/NOFS            Pegasus XL       L1011,KMR         Science   17A
Apr 18 2217   Star One C2 )     Ariane 5ECA      Kourou ELA3       Comms     18C?
              Vinasat 1   )                                        Comms     18D?
Apr 25 1535   Tian Lian 1       Chang Zheng 3C   Xichang           Comms     19A
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SpaceRef staff editor.