Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 645 2011 Aug 16

By SpaceRef Editor
August 16, 2011
Filed under ,

Spacecraft Names

I have updated my categorized list of spacecraft names at – some of you may find it amusing. The launch logs at (inclusive list) and (conventional list) have also been updated.

International Space Station

Soyuz TMA-21 and Soyuz TMA-02M remain docked at the Station.

Erratum: Of course, Atlantis docked with ISS on Jul 10, not Jun 10 as I wrote in JSR 644.

On Aug 3 astronauts Volkov and Samokutyaev conducted spacewalk Russian VKD-29 from the Pirs module. The airlock was depressurized at 1435 UTC and the hatch was opened at 1450 UTC. The astronauts deployed the RadioSkaf-V amateur radio satellite and installed the BTLS-N lasercom terminal on the Zvezda module. They also jettisoned a thermal cover from the BTLS-N and installed the Biorisk-MSN exposure package outside the Pirs module. Hatch was closed at 2113 UTC and the airlock was presumably repressurized soon afterwards. According to Andrey Krasil’nikov, Volkov used suit Orlan-MK No. 4 and Samokutyaev used No. 6.

Spektr-R and space radio astronomy

After an initial partially successful attempt on Jul 22, the RadioAstron antenna was successfully unfurled and locked in place on Jul 23 (according to reports on According to data provided by Vladimir Agapov, Spektr-R’s orbit on Jul 25 was 1248 x 334727 km x 51.83 deg, stretching nearly to lunar distance.

Space-based radio astronomy using very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) in the GHz band began with the Soviet KRT-10 experiment in 1979. Launched on the Progress-7 cargo ship, the 10 m dish was deployed in low orbit on the Salyut-7 space station and used for observations at 0.4 and 2.5 GHz. A 4.9m dish on NASA’s TDRS 1 communications satellite was used for demonstration experiments at 2.3 and 16 GHz in 1986-1988 in geostationary orbit at 35800 km. The VSOP experiment on the Japanese HALCA satellite, an 8-m dish observing at 1.6 to 22 GHz, operated from 1997 to 2003 with an apogee of 21000 km. Space VLBI involves combining the space-based antenna with a ground-based one to simulate a single antenna with a diameter equal to the distance between the components; the higher the apogee of the space-based antenna, the higher the spatial resolution achievable by the observations. The RadioAstron experiment, led by Kardashev at the Lebedev Institute, has an orbit an order of magnitude higher than previous experiments and thus should deliver record resolution.

Higher frequency studies in the 100-1000 GHz range (sometimes called radio astronomy but more frequently `submillimeter astronomy’) have mostly focussed on the cosmic microwave backround radiation with suborbital experiments (by Gush in Canada, 1971-1990 on Black Brant rockets; Houck at Cornell on Aerobee 4.177 and 4.178 in 1968; Blair from Los Alamos on a Sandia rocket in 1972, Matsumoto and Lange on K-9M-78 and K-9M-80 in 1985-87, and Mastumoto’s S-520-17 experiment in 1995) followed by orbital experiments (Prognoz-9/Relikt, 1983; COBE, 1989; WMAP, 2001; Planck, 2009). In addition, the SWAS and Odin satellites (1998, 2001) have studied galactic submillimeter emission and ESA’s Herschel also overlaps the range.

Space-based low frequency radio astronomy in the 0.5-15 MHz frequency range has a long history beginning with the Blue Scout D-3 suborbital flight in Jan 1961 as part of the Harvard Space Radio Project, which continued with orbital flights on CORONA missions 26, 29, 31, 42, 43, 44 and 46 and MIDAS missions 6 and 7, as well as the AD-622 suborbital probe. The Gorkiy radiophysical institute flew instruments on Elektron 2 and 4, Kosmos-119, 142 and 259. F. Graham Smith (MRAO/Jodrell) flew experiments on the UK’s Ariel 2 and 3; Canada’s DRTE lab deployed 73-meter antennas on the Alouette and Isis satellites. The Meudon group flew 36-m dipoles on Rubis rockets in 1965 and 1967.

The University of Michigan experiments on OGO 1 to 4 studied solar radio bursts; these were preceded by test flights on suborbital Journeyman 11.02UR and 11.03UR flights in 1962-1965. Experiments were also flown by ISAS (Shinsei, 1971), Iowa (IMP 8, 1973), the Warsaw Aviation Inst. (IK-Kopernikus-500, 1973), and the French amateur organization ESIE (SARA, 1991). The most ambitious experiments in this frequency range, however, were done by Joe Alexander, RG Stone et al. at NASA-Goddard, beginning with Javelin and Astrobee 1500 sounding rocket flights (8.33GR, 8.44GR, 16.03GR, 16.06GR) and continuing in orbit with the 91-meter dipole on ATS 2 (1967) and IMP 6 (1971) and the 229-meter V-dipoles on RAE 1 (1968) and RAE 2 (in lunar orbit, 1973). These low frequency experiments mostly detected diffuse galactic emission and ionospheric and solar activity.

(Apologies if I have omitted your experiment – additions and corrections solicited. I have not included solar and planetary radio burst studies at even lower frequencies in the kHz range, which can perhaps be considered as in-situ electric/magnetic field and plasma wave measurements rather than astronomical observations).


A new Chinese navigation satellite was launched on Jul 26. The CALT launch agency refers to it as Beidou-2 IGSO-4 (Beidou er hao IGSO-4 weixing). The Xinhua news agency mostly refers to it as 9th Beidou Navigation Satellite (di jiu ke Beidou daohang weixing) although it does also describe it as ‘Beidou daohang xitong (Compass Navigation System) zu wang (networking) de di si ke (4th) qingxidei (inclined) qiu (geo) tongbu (synchronous) guidao (orbit) weixing (satellite)’. I will use the ‘Beidou daohang weixing 9’ or ‘Beidou DW9’ for short, as a reasonable English-alphabet rendering of the name used by Xinhua.

On Aug 14 Beidou DW9 was in a 35698 x 35871 km x 55.2 deg orbit with longitudes ranging from 78 to 110E.


Shi Jian shiyihao 02 xing (Practice-11 Sat 2) was launched on Jul 29, joining SJ-11-03 which went up on Jul 6. Its orbit is 689 x 704 km x 98.1 deg.

Paksat 1R

China launched a 5120 kg DFH-4 class communications satellite on Aug 11 on behalf of the Pakistani space agency SUPARCO, into a 200 x 41800 km x 25.0 deg transfer orbit. The satellite, Paksat 1R, will replace Paksat 1, the former Palapa C1.

Haiyang 2

The Haiyang erhao (Ocean 2) oceanographic satellite was launched on Aug 15. It carries a microwave radiometer, a radar altimeter and a radar scatterometer to monitor ocean conditions. According to discussion on it was launched from complex 2 at the Taiyuan space center. This launch makes seven Chinese orbital flights in two months.


NASA’s second New Frontiers mission, Juno, was launched on Aug 5 by Atlas V serial AV-029. It entered a 194 x 226 km x 28.8 deg parking orbit at 1635 UTC and a hyperbolic escape orbit at 1715 UTC. AV-029 separated from Juno at 1718 UTC. On Aug 8 the probe left the Earth’s gravitational sphere of influence and entered a 1.0 x 2.26AU x 0.1 deg solar orbit. It will return to Earth on 2013 Oct 9 for a 500 km flyby to set it on course for Jupiter. Juno will enter Jupiter polar orbit in 2016 Jul and will complete its mission in 2017 Oct with disposal in the Jovian atmosphere.

Juno carries magnetometers, plasma and particle instruments, UV auroral imagers and spectrometers, and the JunoCam imager. The probe has a mass of 1593 kg and carries a further 2032 kg of propellant. Its three large solar arrays span around 22 meters; it is the first spacecraft to fly to the outer solar system without radioisotope power sources.

Ariane 5

Arianespace launched the Astra 1N and BSAT 3c satellites on Aug 6. Astra 1N is an Astrium/Toulouse Eurostar 3000 satellite to be located at 19.2E for European television broadcasting. BSat-3c is a Lockheed Martin A2100A for Japan’s Broadcast Satellite Systems Corp (B-SAT); it is jointly owned by Sky Perfect JSAT Corp., who have a telecoms payload on board that will be operated as JCSAT-110R.

The launch vehicle was an Ariane 5ECA model, serial number L560. The EPC core stage flew a -1029 x 188 km x 6.8 deg trajectory, and the ESC-A stage then flew to a geostationary transfer orbit of 266 x 35725 km x 2.0 deg. On Aug 12 Astra 1N was in a 35550 x 35790 km x 0.1 deg orbit drifting east over 5 deg W, and BSat-3c was in a 33917 x 35734 km x 0.0 deg orbit.

Suborbital launches

A Minuteman 3 missile launched from Vandenberg was destroyed over the Pacific five minutes into flight on Jul 27. On the same day, a Russian Navy Sineva was flown from the Barents Sea to the Kura test range.

On Aug 11 the HTV-2b hypersonic glider was launched from Vandenberg across the Pacific. The mission ended prematurely with loss of signal three minutes into the glider’s free flight. The three-stage Minotaur IV Lite flew a low altitude trajectory; the apogee is uncertain.


After some volatility, US cataloging of the objects from the 2011-035 launch seems to have settled down. Object 37762, with three element sets in an orbit reflecting the SES-3 payload adapter, has been decataloged, with the catalog number now assigned to an object in a quite different orbit, the tumble weight from the IUE satellite’s third stage, recently discovered after 33 years in orbit. What has actually happened to the SES-3 adapter, and whether the earlier 37762 elsets reflected a real object, is still unclear.

Table of Recent (orbital) Launches

Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
Jul 6 0428 SJ-11-3 Chang Zheng 2C Jiuquan Unknown 30A
Jul 8 1529 Atlantis STS-135 Space Shuttle Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 31A
Jul 11 1541 TianLian 1-02 Chang Zheng 3C Xichang Data rel. 32A
Jul 13 0227 Globalstar M083 ) Soyuz-2-1A/Fregat Baykonur LC31 Comms 33A
Globalstar M088 ) Comms 33B
Globalstar M091 ) Comms 33C
Globalstar M085 ) Comms 33D
Globalstar M081 ) Comms 33E
Globalstar M089 ) Comms 33F
Jul 15 1118 GSAT-12 PSLV-XL Sriharikota Comms 34A
Jul 15 2316 SES-3 ) Proton-M/Briz-M Baykonur LC200/39 Comms 35A
Kazsat-2) Comms 35B
Jul 16 0641 GPS SVN 63 Delta 4M+(4,2) Canaveral LC37B Nav 36A
Jul 18 0231 Spektr-R Zenit-3F/Fregat Baykonur LC45/1 Astronomy 37A
Jul 20 0749 PSSC-2 Atlantis,LEO Tech 31B
Jul 26 2144 Beidou DW9 Chang Zheng 3A Xichang Nav 38A
Jul 29 0742 SJ11-02 Chang Zheng 2C Jiuquan Unknown 39A
Aug 3 1843 Radioskaf-V - EVA, ISS Comms 98-67CK
Aug 5 1625 Juno Atlas 551 Canaveral SLC41 Probe 40A
Aug 6 2252 Astra 1N ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 41A
BSAT 3c ) Comms 41C
Aug 10 1615 Paksat 1R Chang Zheng 3B Xichang Comms 42A
Aug 15 2257 Haiyang 2 Chang Zheng 4B Taiyuan LC2 Rem.Sens. 43A

Table of Recent (suborbital) Launches

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

Jul 8 1404 SRALT SR-19 C-17, Point Mugu Target 200?
Jul 10 1400 NASA 21.140GE Black Brant V Wallops I LA2 Ionosphere 158?
Jul 10 1400 NASA 41.090GE Terrier Orion Wallops I LA2 Ionosphere 158?
Jul 11 1535? Gradicom Gradicom 2 Chamical Test 100
Jul 21 1158 NASA 41.092GO Terrier Orion Wallops I Edu 160?
Jul 27 1001 GT205 RV Minuteman III Vandenberg LF04 Test 1300?
Jul 27 RV x ? Sineva K-84, Barents Sea Test 1000?
Aug 11 1445 HTV-2b Minotaur 4 Lite Vandenberg SLC8 Test 100?

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