Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 641 2011 May 17

By SpaceRef Editor
May 18, 2011
Filed under , ,

Shuttle and Station

The Progress M-10M cargo supply ship docked with the Station’s Pirs module at 1428 UTC on Apr 29.

Space Shuttle OV-105 Endeavour was launched on mission STS-134 on May 16. It flew to orbit using solid rocket motors RSRM-113 and External Tank ET-122. The RSRMs fell back to the Atlantic and were recovered, after arcing into the mesosphere. ET-122, which had been repaired after suffering significant damage in its New Orleans factory during Hurricane Katrina, reached a 57 x 227 km marginal orbit; after apogee around 1336 UTC, it reentered at first perigee over the South Pacific at around 1405 UTC. Endeavour fired its OMS engines at apogee, entering a 231 x 324 km x 51.6 deg orbit at 1336 UTC. After a series of rendezvous burns, it is approaching the International Space Station for a docking planned on May 18.

Endeavour will deliver a set of spare equipment to the Station on the ELC-3 carrier, and install the massive AMS-02 particle detector which will search for antimatter. The STORRM lidar is a test of rendezvous and docking technology to be used on the future Orion spaceship; MISSE experiments are temporarily attached to the Station to study the effects of exposing various materials to space. STP-H3 is a set of US Defense Dept. experiments in the Space Test Program series, including experimental thermal control systems and space environment sensors.

STS-134 Cargo Bay Manifest

External Airlock/ODS 1800? kg
EMU spacesuits 3004, 3018 260?
RMS arm 201 410?
Orbiter Boom Sensor System 382?
Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 6917
PPSU-2 electronics box 17?
SPDU 17?
ROEU 755 umbilical for ELC-3 90
ROEU 751 umbilical for AMS-02 78
MISSE carriers (3) 171
MISSE 8 experiment 45
Express Logistics Carrier:
ELC-3 plus support hardware 3207?
Cargo Transport Container 476
SASA-2R S-band antenna 116
SASA-3R S-band antenna 116
SPDM Arm 3/OCTM 342
SPDM support hardware 269
HPGA oxygen tank 552
ATA-2 ammonia tank 772
STP-H3 experiment package 500?
Total 16554 kg

Crew of STS-134 are NASA’s Mark Kelly, Greg H. Johnson, Mike Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel, and the European Space Agency’s Roberto Vittori. Crew of the Space Station are Russian Space Agency astronauts Dmitri Kondratev (commander), Andrey Borisenko, Aleksandr Samokutyaev, NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ron Garan, and ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli. Nespoli and Vittori are both Italian, and Vittori is the first Italian astronaut to make three flights. The first Italian astronaut was Franco Malerba, in 1992 (although 1960s American astronaut Michael Collins was born in Rome).


During late March to late April, the US Air Force’s AEHF 1 communications satellite raised its orbital period from 23 hours to 25 hours, passing briefly through the geosynchronous range. AEHF 1 was launched in 2010 Aug to a supersynchronous transfer orbit of 249 x 50019 km x 22 deg; after failure of its main propulsion system, electric thrusters have been used to slowly raise the orbit to its current 22923 x 51539 km x 7.1 deg. Once the perigee has been raised to the 35780 km or so needed for geostationary orbit, the apogee will be lowered to match and the satellite will return to geosynchronicity.


The fourth Meridian communications satellite was launched on May 4 into a 978 x 39734 km x 62.8 deg orbit. The Meridian system provides communications for the Russian Defense Ministry, and replaces the older Molniya satellites.

Space-Based Infrared System

The US Air Force’s SBIRS GEO-1 missile early warning satellite was launched on May 7. This is the first dedicated satellite in the Space-Based Infrared System, which will be the successor to the Defense Support Program satellites in operation since 1970. In addition to GEO-1, two National Reconnaissance Office satellites in highly elliptical orbit, USA 184 and USA 200, carry the SBIRS HEO-1 and SBIRS HEO-2 payloads in addition to their main NRO signals intelligence payloads.

GEO-1 carries an infrared telescope with a large focal plane infrared array to monitor large areas of the Earth at once. An internal movable mirror is used to scan the field of view across the visible disk of the Earth looking for possible missile launches. This is in contrast to the older spinning DSP satellites, whose telescopes were canted at an angle to the spin axis so that the motion of the entire satellite swept the field of view around. 23 DSP satellites were launched between 1970 and 2007.

GEO-1 was inserted into geostationary transfer orbit and will use its own on board propulsion to circularize its orbit. The spacecraft is based on the Lockheed Martin A2100 bus and uses a Leros-1 apogee thruster from the UK company AMPAC (Thanks to Ted Molczan for pointing out the Aviation Week story confirming the identity of the thruster.)

SBIRS program

Payload Launched Vehicle Orbit on May 8
(from hobbyist observations)
SBIRS HEO-1 2006 Jun 28 Delta 4M+(4,2) 2343 x 38072 x 63.3
SBIRS HEO-2 2008 Mar 13 Atlas V 1629 x 38725 x 63.4
SBIRS GEO-1 2011 May 7 Atlas V 185 x 35817 x 21.6

Suborbital launches

The Chinese Space Science and Applications Research Center launched its first Tianying-3C sounding rocket from Hainan Island on May 6. The rocket carried experiments to study electron density and electric fields in the ionosphere. Tianying-3C appears to be a single-stage solid rocket roughly comparable to the Japanese S-310.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Mar 4 1009 Glory ) Taurus XL 3110 Vandenberg 576E Climate F01
E1P ) Sci F01
Hermes ) Tech F01
KySat-1) Tech F01
Mar 5 2246 OTV-2 F1 Atlas V 501 Canaveral SLC41 Spaceplane 10A
Mar 11 2338 USA 227 Delta 4M+(4,2) Canaveral SLC37 Comms? 11A
Mar 22 1135 Fastrac 2 Fastrac 1, LEO Tech 62M
Apr 4 2218 Soyuz TMA-21 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1 Spaceship 12A
Apr 9 2047 Beidou DW8 Chang Zheng 3A Xichang Nav 13A
Apr 15 0424 USA 229 P/L 1 ) Atlas V 411 Vandenberg SLC3E Sigint 14A
USA 229 P/L 2 ) Sigint 14B
Apr 20 0442 Resourcesat 2 ) PSLV Sriharikota FLP Imaging 15A
Youthsat ) Science 15B
X-Sat ) Imaging 15C
Apr 22 2137 Yahsat 1 ) Ariane 5 ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 16A
Intelsat New Dawn) Comms 16B
Apr 27 1305 Progress M-10M Soyuz-U Baykonur LC1 Cargo 17A
May 4 1741 Meridian No. 14L Soyuz-2-1A Plesetsk LC43/4 Comms 18A
May 7 1810 SBIRS GEO-1 Atlas V 401 Canaveral SLC41 Early Warn 19A
May 16 1256 STS-134 Endeavour Space Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 20A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km

Mar 1 2100 8 x Mk 5 RV Trident D-5 USS Nevada, Pacific Test 1000?
Mar 2 1340 Patriot Target Juno Fort Wingate Target 100?
Mar 15 Kavoshgar-4 Kavoshgar Iran R&D 120
Mar 16 ARAV-B Target Terrier Oriole Kauai Target 150?
Mar 23 1850 NASA 36.275UE Black Brant IX White Sands Solar EUV 250?
Mar 29 0501 TEXUS 49 VSB-30 Kiruna Micrograv 268
Apr 15 0652 FTM-15 Target LV-2 Meck Island Target 1000?
Apr 15 0703 FTM-15 KV SM-3 USS O'Kane, Kauai? Interceptor 150?
Apr 27 4 x RV Sineva K-84, Barents Sea Op. Test 1000?
Apr 27 0800? NASA 36.278GT Black Brant IX Poker Flat Test 339?
May 6 2302 Kunpeng-1 Tianying-3C Hainan Ionosphere 197

| Jonathan McDowell | phone : (617) 495-7176 |
| Somerville MA 02143 | inter : planet4589 at gmail |
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SpaceRef staff editor.