Status Report

Jonathan’s Space Report No. 730 2016 Sep 15

By SpaceRef Editor
September 15, 2016
Filed under ,

International Space Station

Expedition 49 began at 2151 UTC Sep 6.

On Aug 17 at about 2315 UTC the SPDM Dextre, on the end of the Canadarm-2, grappled the IDA-2 docking unit stored in the Dragon cargo ship’s trunk. At about 0120UTC Aug 18 SPDM unberthed the IDA-2 and by 0645 had it positioned around 1m from the old Shuttle docking port, PMA-2.

IDA-2 fits over the end of PMA-2 to convert it from a Shuttle port to one that can acommodate Crew Dragon and Starliner. The first docking with IDA-2 will be an uncrewed Dragon test mission, Demo Mission 1, which is expected in mid 2017.

On Aug 19 at 1016 UTC SPDM moved IDA-2 inward until it was just touching PMA-2. Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins, in spacesuits EMU 3003 and 3008, entered the Quest airlock for US EVA-36. Quest was depressurized by 1158 UTC and its hatch was open at 1203 UTC. Williams and Rubins attached tethers to IDA-2 and connected it loosely to PMA-2; at 1316 UTC the SPDM released IDA-2, which was firmly mated to PMA-2 by 1440 UTC. After removing a soft cover and carrying out some cabling work, the astronauts were ready for other tasks when at 1731 UTC further work was cancelled due to a communications problem in Williams’ suit. The astronauts returned to Quest, closed the hatch at 1757 UTC and repressurized the airlock at 1802 UTC.

On Aug 25 at about 2100 UTC the SSRMS (Canadarm-2) unberthed Dragon CRS-9 from the Harmony module. At 1011 UTC the Dragon was released into orbit; at 1456 UTC Dragon fired its Draco thrusters in a deorbit burn which sent it plunging into the atmosphere at about 1520 UTC. The empty trunk was jettisoned at 1513 UTC. Dragon splashed down off the coast of Baja at 1547 UTC. Spacesuit EMU 3005 was returned to Earth aboard CRS-9.

On Sep 1 Williams and Rubins made a second spacewalk, US EVA-37. The trailing thermal control radiator (TTCR) on the P6 truss segment, held in reserve as a spare, was retracted to protect it from space debris. A new high definition camera was installed at camera position CP9 on the P1 truss. The Quest airlock was depressurized at 1146 UTC and repressurized at 1841 UTC.

On Sep 6 at 2151 UTC Soyuz TMA-20M undocked from the Poisk module with Ovchinin, Skripochka and Williams. The spacecraft laded in Kazakhstan at 0113 UTC on Sep 7. Astronauts Ivanishin (CDR), Onishi (FE-5) and Rubins (FE-6) continue aboard ISS as Expedition 49.

On Sep 14 the Nanoracks NRCSD-9 deployer was pulled from the Kibo airlock by the Japanese RMS arm, and at 1525 UTC two Flock 2E Prime satellites were ejected into space, with six more to come from the same deployer. These satellites have been aboard ISS since their delivery aboard Cygnus OA-6 back in March.

Falcon 9

On Sep 1 at 1307 UTC a Falcon 9 launch vehicle exploded during preparations for static test at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40. The rocket was intended to launch the Israeli communications satellite Amos-6, which was also destroyed in the accident. The explosion originated in the vicinity of the second stage oxygen tank, but it is not yet clear whether the stage or ground support equipment was at fault.


The OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission was launched from Cape Canaveral on Sep 8 by a ULA Atlas V. The model 411 vehicle, serial AV-067, injected O-REx on a hyperbolic trajectory; the probe entered a 0.77 x 1.17 AU heliocentric orbit on Sep 12. OSIRIS-REx has a mass of 834 kg, and carries 1230 kg of propellant and a 46 kg sample return capsule identical to the one used by the Stardust mission.

OSIRIS-REx will make an Earth flyby in Sep 2017 which will change its orbit to 0.90 x 1.35 AU x 6.4 deg, allowing it to rendezvous with asteroid (101955) Bennu in Aug 2018. The spacecraft will sample the asteroid and return to Earth in 2023.

GaoFen 10

China’s GaoFen 10 high resolution imaging satellite was lost in a launch failure on Aug 31. A rumour on suggests a third stage restart failure, which would have left the vehicle just short of a marginal orbit.


The Lixing-1 upper atmosphere study satellite lowered its orbit on Aug 16 from 488 x 504 km to only 124 x 140 km, the lowest ever orbit for an active spacecraft. It reentered on Aug 19.


The USAF GSSAP 3 and 4 satellites were launched on Aug 19. The satellites will drift in the geostationary ring making observations of the orbits of other satellites. The US government is not releasing the orbital data for these satellites.


Arianespace launched two communications satellites for Intelsat on Aug 24. IS-33e is the second Epic high throughput broadband satellite, while IS-36 is a smaller Ku/C-band satellite for video distribution. Both satellites will be stationed over the Indian Ocean. By Sep 15, IS-36 was over 64E and drifting, while IS-33e was slowly raising its orbit and was in a 15756 x 35804 km transfer orbit.


India successfully launched the fourth GSLV Mk II rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sep 8, carrying the Insat-3DR weather satellite. The cryogenic upper stage, serial CUS-07, performed nominally. The satellite made its first orbit raising burn on Sep 9. As well as weather sensors and data relay payloads, Insat-3DR carries a transponder to support search and rescue (SARSAT).


Israel launched the Ofeq-11 spy satellite on a Shavit rocket on Sep 14. No orbital data are available yet but the initial orbit is probably similar to previous missions, at about 250 x 650 km x 141 deg. The high orbital inclination – launched almost due west – is in contrast to the launch strategies of other countries which launch east to take advantage of the Earth’s rotation (since for Israel to launch large rockets in the direction of their eastern neighbours might cause unfortunate misunderstandings). It has been reported that Israeli mission controllers are working to correct unspecified technical problems with the payload.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL. Catalog Perigee Apogee Incl Notes
km km deg

Jun 25 1200 DFFC ) Chang Zheng 7 Wenchang LC201 Reentry test 42 A08387 288 x 382 x 40.8
Aoxiang zhixing ) Tech 42B S41625 289 x 376 x 40.8
Aolong 1 ) Tech 42F S41629 198 x 367 x 40.8
Tiange feixingqi 1 ) Tech 42L S41636 277 x 289 x 40.8
Tiange feixingqi 2 ) Tech 42M S41637 277 x 287 x 40.8
ZGZ shiyan zhuangzhi) Tech 42A S41624 287 x 381 x 40.8
Jun 29 0321 Shi Jian 16-02 Chang Zheng 4B Jiuquan Sigint? 43A S41634 596 x 616 x 75.0
Jul 7 0136 Soyuz MS-01 Soyuz-FG Baykonur LC1 Spaceship 44A S41639 181 x 239 x 51.7 Docked ISS
Jul 16 2141 Progress MS-03 Soyuz-U Baykonur LC31 Cargo 45A S41670 182 x 225 x 51.6 Docked ISS
Jul 18 0445 Dragon CRS-9 Falcon 9 Canaveral SLC40 Cargo 46A S41672 204 x 355 x 51.6
Jul 28 1237 USA 269 Atlas V 541 Canaveral SLC41 Comms 47A S41724 35576 x 35996 x 5.0
Aug 6 1622 Tiantong-1 01 xing Chang Zheng 3B Xichang LC3 Comms 48A S41725 35751 x 35903 x 5.0
Aug 9 2255 Gaofen 3 Chang Zheng 4C Taiyuan Radar imager 49A S41727 750 x 751 x 98.4 0600LT SSO
Aug 14 0526 JCSAT-16 Falcon 9 Canaveral SLC40 Comms 50A S41729 151 x 36183 x 20.9
Aug 15 1740 Mozi ) Chang Zheng 2D Jiuquan Science 51A S41731 488 x 584 x 97.4 0000LT SSO
Lixing-1 ) Atmosphere 51C S41733 124 x 140 x 97.4 0000LT SSO
3Cat-2 ) Altimeter 51B S41732 485 x 503 x 97.4 0000LT SSO
Aug 19 0452 GSSAP 3 ) Delta 4M+(4,2) Canaveral SLC37B Space Surv 52A S41744 35749 x 35819 x 0.0 GEO 111W
GSSAP 4 ) Space Surv 52B S41745 35814 x 35856 x 0.0 GEO 118W drift
Aug 24 2216 Intelsat IS-33e ) Ariane 5ECA Kourou ELA3 Comms 53B S41748 15756 x 35804 x 0.6
Intelsat IS-36 ) Comms 53A S41747 35721 x 35759 x 0.1
Aug 31 1855 GaoFen 10 Chang Zheng 4C Taiyuan Imaging F01 – –
Sep 8 1120 Insat-3DR GSLV Mk II Satish Dawan SLP Weather 54A S41752 35320 x 35854 x 0.1
Sep 8 2305 OSIRIS-REx Atlas V 411 Canaveral SLC41 Space probe 55A S41757 203 x-40174 x 29.5 Escape
Sep 13 1348? ‘Ofeq-11 Shavit Palmachim Imaging 56A S41759 250? x 600? x141?
Sep 14 1525 Flock 2e’-13 ) ISS, LEO Imaging 9867KH S41761? 401? x 409? x 51.6
Flock 2e’-14 ) ISS, LEO Imaging 9867KJ S41762? 401? x 409? x 51.6
Sep 14 2315 Flock 2e’-15? ) ISS, LEO Imaging 9867KK S41763? 401? x 409? x 51.6
Flock 2e’-16? ) ISS, LEO Imaging 9867KL S41764? 401? x 409? x 51.6

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

Erratum: Last issue had the wrong date for ROTEX-T.

On Aug 23 N Korea launched its first successful submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM),
on a lofted trajectory with an apogee around 500 km.

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

Jul 1 0718 RV x 6? M51 S616, Baie d’Audierne Test 1000? North Atlantic
Jul 8 1301 MaxiDusty 1b Imp. Malemute Andoya U3 Atmosphere 117 Andoya Range
Jul 18 2045 RV Hwasong-6? Eunyul, N Korea Test 100? Sea of Japan
Jul 18 2050? RV Hwasong-6? Eunyul, N Korea Test 100? Sea of Japan
Jul 18 2140 RV Hwasong-7? Eunyul, N Korea Test 200? Sea of Japan
Jul 19 0405 ROTEX-T Terrier Imp.Orion Kiruna Hypersonic 182 ESRANGE
Jul 27 1826 Hi-C Black Brant 9 White Sands Solar physics 250? White Sands
Aug 2 2253 RV Hwasong-7? Eunyul, N Korea Test 200? Sea of Japan
Aug 17 1133 RockSat-X Terrier Imp.Malemute Wallops I. Education 153 Atlantic Ocean
Aug 23 2030 RV Bukguekseong Sub, Sinpo, N Korea Test 500 Sea of Japan
Sep 5 0314 RV Hwasong-ER? Hwangju, N Korea Test 100? Sea of Japan
Sep 5 0314 RV Hwasong-ER? Hwangju, N Korea Test 100? Sea of Japan
Sep 5 0314 RV Hwasong-ER? Hwangju, N Korea Test 100? Sea of Japan
Sep 5 0910 GT219GM Minuteman 3 Vandenberg AFB LF04 Op. test. 1300? Kwajalein

| Jonathan McDowell | |
| Somerville MA 02143 | inter : planet4589 at gmail |
| USA | twitter: @planet4589 |
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