Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 598 2008 Aug 12

By SpaceRef Editor
August 13, 2008
Filed under ,

STS-125 (Hubble Servicing Mission 4)

Preparations for launch of Atlantis to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope are advancing. External Tank ET-127 and solid boosters RSRM-103 (stack BI-135) are assembled in Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3. Orbiter 104 (Atlantis) is in Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1. Atlantis will carry the SLIC (Super Lightweight Interchangeable Carrier), with Wide Field Camera 3 , batteries and a radiator; the ORU Carrier with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and FGS-3R instruments; the FSS (Flight Support Structure) for berthing HST, and the MULE (Multi-Use Lightweight Equipment carrier, for support equipment).

Ariane 5ECA

Ariane 5 vehicle L541, flight V184 was launched from Kourou on Jul 7. It carried Protostar 1 and Badr 6 into orbit.

Protostar 1 is an SS/Loral LS-1300 satellite with a mass of 1774 kg dry 4191 kg fuelled. It is owned by Protostar Ltd. of Bermuda and its subsidiary Protostar Satellite Systems of San Francisco. I believe the launch contract is with the US subsidiary, and I am therefore counting Protostar as a US satellite (I imagine the Bermuda address is just for some kind of tax reason).

Badr 6 is an Astrium Eurostar 2000+ satellite for Arabsat of Riyadh; it is also known as Arabsat 4AR, and replaces Arabsat 4A which was lost in a 2006 Proton launch failure.

Falcon 1

Falcon 1 flight 003 was launched from Omelek Island at 0334 UTC on Aug 3, but two minutes after launch the mission failed. According to information released by SpaceX, the problem occurred when stage 1 failed to separate from stage 2. The improved Merlin 1C first stage engine completed its burn successfully, but a longer than expected first stage shutdown meant that the stage was still thrusting when stage 2 tried to separate, and the two stages briefly recontacted. The stages fell in the Pacific; SpaceX boss Elon Musk reports that the first stage reached 217 km altitude, the second stage ignited correctly, and the fairing separated – which was due to happen at 3min 13s after launch, implying that the stage remained intact at that point. Musk was reported by as saying that ‘Neither stage exploded. They just got a little bit cooked.’ Presumably the recontact caused the second stage to tumble during the burn.

The rocket carried the 83 kg Trailblazer satellite, a test of a new SpaceDev bus as part of the DoD’s Operationally Responsive Space program. Two 3 kg nanosatellites from NASA Ames Research Center were also aboard, and two Celestis burial capsules containing cremated remains were attached to the second stage.

Echostar 11

The Echostar 11 satellite was launched on Jul 16 by a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL. The satellite will provide television broadcasting for the Dish Network. By Jul 24 it was in a 35685 x 35791 km x 0.1 deg orbit drifting over 140W.

SAR-Lupe 5

Germany’s fifth SAR-Lupe radar satellite was launched by a Russian Kosmos-3M on Jul 22 into a 470 x 500 km x 98.1 deg orbit.


According to correspondents on the site, the upper stage used to launch Kosmos-2440 was an old 11S861 Blok DM-2, redesignated DM-3 (or DM3) for reasons that are unclear.


Kosmos-2441 was launched from Plesetsk on Jul 26 by a three-stage Soyuz-2-1b rocket into a 195 x 726 x 98.3 deg orbit. It is believed to be the first in a new series of Russian military imaging recon satellites, reportedly designated Persona. On Jul 31 the orbit was raised to 714 x 732 km.


Carl Rigg points out that the Zhongxing 9 (Chinasat 9) launch was Jun 9, not Jun 10.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.  
Jun  9 1215   Zhongxing 9       Chang Zheng 3B   Xichang           Comms     28A
Jun 11 1605   GLAST             Delta 7920H      Canaveral SLC17B  Astronomy 29A
Jun 12 2205   Skynet 5C  )      Ariane 5ECA      Kourou ELA3       Comms     30A
              Turksat 3A )                                         Comms     30B
Jun 19 0636   Orbcomm CDS-1  )  Kosmos-3M        Kapustin Yar LC107 Comms    31
              Orbcomm R-1    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-2    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-3    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-4    )                                     Comms     31
              Orbcomm R-5    )                                     Comms     31
Jun 20 0746   Jason 2           Delta 7320       Vandenberg SLC2W  Rem Sens. 32A
Jun 26 2359   Kosmos-2440       Proton-K/DM-3    Baykonur LC81/24 Early Warn 33A
Jul  7 2147   Protostar 1  )    Ariane 5ECA      Kourou ELA3       Comms     34
              Badr 6       )                                       Comms     34
Jul 16 0520   Echostar 11       Zenit-3SL        SL Odyssey, POR   Comms     35A
Jul 22 0240   SAR-Lupe 5        Kosmos-3M        Plesetsk          Radar     36A
Jul 26 1831   Kosmos-2441       Soyuz-2-1B       Plesetsk LC43/4   Imaging   37A
Aug  3 0334   Trailblazer )     Falcon 1         Omelek            Tech      F01
              PreSat      )                                        Tech      F01
              Nanosail-D  )                                        Tech      F01
              Celestis    )                                        Burial    F01

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SpaceRef staff editor.