Status Report

SPACEWARN Bulletin Number 575

By SpaceRef Editor
October 3, 2001
Filed under ,
01 October 2001

A publication of NASA’s National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information as the WWAS for ISES/COSPAR

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between
1 September 2001 and 30 September 2001.

A. List of New International Designations and Launch Dates (UTC).

USSPACECOM Catalog numbers are in parentheses.

    INT.ID    CAT. #      NAME                 DATE (2001)
   2001-043D    (26932)  Sapphire             30 September
   2001-043C    (26931)  PCSat                30 September
   2001-043B    (26930)  Picosat 9            30 September
   2001-043A    (26929)  Starshine 3          30 September
   2001-042A    (26927)  Atlantic Bird 2      25 september
   2001-041A    (26908)  Progress DC-1        14 September
   2001-040A    (26905)  USA 160              08 September

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

2001-043D Sapphire
(a US DoD-funded microsatellite) was built by the Stanford
University students and faculty, and carries a voice synthesizer
to convert text messages into human voice. (For launch details, see
Starshine 3 below). The initial orbital parameters were period 101
min, altitude 794 km, and inclination 67 deg.
2001-043C PCSat
(Prototype Communications SATellite) is to act as a relay for
amateur radio transmissions. It was built by the midshipmen at the
US Naval Academy. It will augment the existing worldwide Amateur
Radio Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS). (For launch
details, see Starshine 3 below.) The initial orbital parameters
of the circular orbit were period 101 min, altitude 794 km, and
inclination 67 deg.
2001-043B Picosat 9
is a British-built (US DoD-funded) satellite to test
electronic components/systems in space conditions. It carries four
test payloads: Polymer Battery Experiment (PBEX), Ionospheric
Occultation Experiment (IOX), Coherent Electromagnetic Radio
Tomagraphy (CERTO) and an ultra-quiet platform (OPPEX). (For launch
details, see Starshine 3 below.) The initial orbital parameters
of the circular orbit were period 101 min, altitude 794 km, and
inclination 67 deg.
2001-043A Starshine 3
is an American microsatellite that was launched,along
with Picosat 9, PCSat, and Sapphire, by an Athena 1 rocket from the
Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC) on Alaska’s Kodiak Island (located 400
km south of Anchorage) at 02:40 UT on 30 September 2001. (Foul
weather and auroral conditions had delayed the launch many times.)
The 80 kg NASA satellite is basically a passive light-reflecting
sphere of one meter diameter, consisting of 1,500 student-built
mirrors (polished by kindergarten and grade school students from
many countries) and 31 laser “retroreflectors”. A few solar cells
provide enough power to send a beacon at 145.825 MHz every minute.
Ham operators around the world are expected to obtain signal
strengths from which the decay (due to magnetic torque) of its spin
rate can be determined. This is the first orbital launch from the KLC.
orbital parameters of the circular orbit were period 94 min,
altitude 472 km, and inclination 67 deg.
2001-042A Atlantic Bird 2
is a European geosynchronous communications
spacecraft belong to the Eutelsat fleet that was launched by
an Ariane 44P rocket from Kourou at 23:21 UT on 25 September
2001. The 3.1 tonne spacecraft is the twenty-second member of the
current fleet. It will provide high-speed television, video
streaming, radio and internet services between North and South
America, and Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, through its
26 Ku-band transponders.
2001-041A Progress DC-1
is a Russian automatic cargo carrier that was
launched by a Soyuz-U rocket from Baikonur at 23:44 UT on 14
September 2001. The ITAR-TASS names the spacecraft as Progress
M-SO1. It is actually a habitable, docking module (and not just
a carrier) named Pirs (meaning pier), and contained an astronaut
chair, a space suit, a small crane, and some equipment for the
Zvezda module of the ISS. This docking module will enable for the
first time entry/exit of astronauts with Russian or American space
suits. The module docked automatically with the ISS at 01:08 UT on
17 September 2001. Its propulsion engine was jettisoned on 26
September to burn away. The initial orbital parameters were period
92.3 min, apogee 393.6, perigee 388.2, and inclination 51.6 deg.
2001-040A USA 160
is an American military reconnaissance satellite that was
launched by an Atlas 2AS/Centaur rocket from Vandenberg AFB at 15:25
UT on 8 September 2001. There has been no official listing of the
payload, though “amateur space sleuths” are reported to have
concluded that it belongs to the NOSS constellation, each member
being actually a close cluster of triangular triplet. (This and
other claims were reported in, dated
13 September 2001.)

C. Spacecraft Particularly Suited for International Participation

  1. Spacecraft with essentially continuous radio beacons on frequencies
    less than 150 MHz, or higher frequencies if especially suited for ionospheric
    or geodetic studies. (NNSS denotes U.S. Navy Navigational
    Satellite System. Updates or corrections to the list are possible only with
    information from the user community.)

    The full list appeared in SPX 545.
    The list will not be repeated in future issues until significantly revised again.

  2. Global Positioning System satellites useful for navigational
    purposes and geodetic studies. (“NNN” denotes no national name. SPACEWARN
    would appreciate suggestions to update this list. An asterisk [*] denotes
    changes in this issue.)

    High precision (<20 cm) GPS constellation tracking data obtained from
    the network of about 80 dedicated global stations that are of interest to
    geodetic study may be obtained through the following services provided
    by the International Association of Geodesy (IGS)

         FTP:  [directory /igscb]
         E-mail: [email protected]

    The standard format of the GPS situation appeared in SPX-518. It will not
    be repeated since an excellent source of trajectory- and science-related GPS information is at
    It provides many links to GPS related databases.

  3. Russian Global Navigational (Positioning) Spacecraft, GLONASS
    constellation. (SPACEWARN requests updates/additions from readers to this list.
    Entries marked “*” are updates or additions to the list.)

    All GLONASS spacecraft are in the general COSMOS series. The COSMOS numbers
    (nnnn) invoked by USSPACECOM have often differed from the numbers (NNNN)
    associated in Russia; when different, the USSPACECOM COSMOS numbers are shown
    in parentheses. The corresponding GLONASS numbers are Russian numbers, followed
    by the numbers in parentheses that are sometimes attributed to them outside

    The operating frequencies in MHz are computed from the channel number K.
    Frequencies (MHz) = 1602.0 + 0.5625K and L2 = 1246.0 + 0.4375K.

    The standard format of the GLONASS situation appeared in SPX-545. It
    will not be repeated in view of the excellent updated source at:
    maintained by the Coordinational
    Scientific Information Center (CSIC),Russian Space Forces.

  4. Visually bright objects.

    A comprehensive list of visually bright
    objects with their two-line orbital elements is available from USSPACECOM, via a
    NASA URL, The list, however,
    does not include visual magnitudes, but are expected to be brighter than
    magnitude 5.

  5. Actual decays/landings of payload spacecraft and rocket bodies (R/B)
    only. No further information is available.

    Designations         Common Name                  Decay Date (2001)
    2001-041A (26908) R/B, the engine attached to PROGRESS DC-1 27 Sep
    2000-019F (26711) R/B (Aux) Proton-K                        20 Sep
    1978-004A (10561) COSMOS 975                                19 Sep
    2001-041B (26909) R/B Soyuz-U                               16 Sep
    1975-076B (08128) R/B that launched COSMOS 756              06 Sep
    1995-037J (23630) R/B (Aux) Proton-K                        01 Sep  

  6. Miscellaneous Items. (This section contains information/data that
    are entered on occasion and may not be repeated in each issue of the
    SPACEWARN Bulletin.)

    SPACEWARN Bulletin occasionally comes across launch failures of
    significant spacecraft. A Taurus rocket carrying NASA-GSFC’s QuickTOMS spacecraft for
    monitoring total ocean content, and a commercial high resolution imaging spacecraft
    named OrbView 4 was launched from Vandenberg AFB at 18:49 UT on 21 September
    2001. The injection at an altitude of 426 km with inadequate speed engendered
    the payload to crash over the Indian Ocean. (Also crashed were 48 minicapsules
    carrying the ashes of 48 persons, priced at $5,300 a piece.)

  7. Related NSSDC resources.

    NSSDC/WDC for Satellite Information is an archival center for science
    data from many spacecraft. Many space physics datasets are on-line for
    electronic access through:

    For off-line data, please contact the Request Office, NSSDC, Code 633,
    NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, U.S.A., for specific information
    ([email protected]).
    Information on the current status of the instruments on board from the
    investigators will be most welcomed. Precomputed trajectory files
    and orbital parameters of many magnetospheric and heliospheric science-payload
    spacecraft may be obtained from:

    Other files interest for Earth-centered spacecraft can be generated through the URL,

    Programs related to the heliospheric spacecraft trajectories can be executed
    through the URL,

    Magnetospheric, Planetary, and Astronomical science data from many spacecraft
    may be accessed through links from the URL:

SpaceRef staff editor.