SETI bioastro: Fw: Jonathan's Space Report, No. 516

Date: Mon Dec 22 2003 - 12:38:01 PST

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    Subject: Jonathan's Space Report, No. 516

    Jonathan's Space Report
    No. 516 2003 Dec 22, Cambridge, MA

    Recent Launches

    The first launch of NPO Mashinostroenie's Strela space rocket was
    successful on Dec 5. The Strela is a UR-100NU ballistic missile with
    avionics added to the MIRV bus to turn it into a third stage. Original
    reports from the Russian Space Forces that this was a suborbital
    training launch were incorrect. Launch from site 132 at Baykonur placed
    the APB third stage and a dummy payload into low orbit. No name has been
    released for the satellite; Space Command is calling it Gruzomaket
    ("payload mockup") which is a plausible name for it, so I'll adopt that.
    Some Russian sources indicate the satellite is a mockup of Kondor-E, a
    proposed commercial radar satellite. Its orbit is 452 x 461 km x 67.1
    deg, while the APB stage entered a 389 x 457 km x 67.1 deg orbit after
    venting its remaining propellant. Another space rocket based on the
    UR-100NU is the Rokot, which uses a more sophisticated Briz third stage
    and is marketed by Krunichev.

    Let's review the currently active launch vehicles from the former Soviet Union.
    In the table below, I list refurbished missiles followed by specially-built
    launch vehicles (still indicating the original missile design they are based on).
    "RV bus" denotes that the upper stage is a minimally modified post-boost delivery
    system used on the original ballistic missile.

      Missile Space launcher Upper stages Marketed by

      UR-100NU Rokot Briz-KM Krunichev, Eurockot
      UR-100NU Strela RV bus NPO Mash
      R-36M Dnepr RV bus Yuzhnoe, Kosmotras
      R-29RM Shtil' RV bus KB Makeyev
      RT-2PM Start-1 Start MITT, Pusk.Uslogi, USC

      (R-7) Soyuz-U/Soyuz-FG Blok-I, Blok-I/Fregat Energia, Starsem
      (R-7) Molniya-M Blok-I/Blok-L Energia?
      (R-14) Kosmos-3M S3 Polyot, OHB
      (R-36) Tsiklon-3 S5M Yuzhnoe
      - Zenit-2 - Yuzhnoe?
      - Zenit-3SL Blok DM-SL Boeing Sea Launch
      (UR-500) Proton-K,-M Briz-M Krunichev, ILS

    Three Uragan navigation satellites in the GLONASS system were launched
    from Baykonur at 1742 UTC on Dec 10. GLONASS is the Russian version of
    GPS, and the satellites are built by the Polyot company in Omsk. This
    was the first GLONASS launch to use the Proton-K with a Briz-M upper
    stage (earlier flights used the Blok-DM class stage). The third Proton
    stage flew a suborbital trajectory into the Pacific, while the Briz made
    an extremely long first burn with cutoff 35 minutes after launch over
    the Pacific near the equator, probably in an orbit approximately 290 x
    3900 km x 51.6 deg. One orbit later the Briz fired again using the rest
    of the propellant in its DTB torus tank, reaching a 291 x 19093 km x
    53.1 deg transfer orbit. The DTB was jettisoned at 2038 UTC. At 2313 UTC
    as the Briz core reached apogee over the western Atlantic it fired a
    third time to circularize the orbit at 18930 x 19330 km x 65.1 deg and
    the three Uragan satellites were deployed at 2325 UTC. Uragan satellites
    794 and 795 were named Kosmos-2402 and Kosmos-2403, while uprated Uragan
    satellite 701 was named Kosmos-2404.

    The last UHF Follow-On communications satellite for the US Navy was
    launched on Dec 18. Lockheed Martin's Atlas IIIB flight AC-203 with a
    single-engine Centaur upper stage put the Boeing 601 satellite in a 185
    x 1092 km x 28.1 deg parking orbit and then a 288 x 35905 km x 27.0 deg
    geostationary transfer orbit. The satellite will enter geostationary
    orbit and provide fleet communications.

    Another Block IIR Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite was launched
    on Dec 21 using a Boeing Delta 7925. The Delta second stage entered a
    174 x 200 km x 36.8 deg parking orbit, fired again to a 187 x 1152 km x
    37.2 km intermediate orbit, and then spun up the solid third stage which
    fired to enter a 187 x 20368 km x 39.0 deg transfer orbit. The GPS
    spacecraft, serial SVN 47, separated and will later use its solid
    apogee motor to circularize its orbit and change its inclination to a
    20100 x 20300 km x 55.0 deg operational orbit. This was the tenth Block
    IIR (replenishment) launch and the 49th GPS launch since Navstar 1 in

    Observers are gaining confidence that only two payloads were aboard the
    USA 173 launch, confirming that the new generation naval signals
    intelligence system uses a different design from the Titan-launched
    triplets. The satellites are operated by the SIGINT (signals intelligence)
    branch of the National Reconnaissance Office.

    The Russian Kosmos-2399 military imaging satellite was destroyed in
    orbit on Dec 9 after completing its mission. At least 21 debris pieces
    were cataloged by US sensors; all have now reentered. On-orbit
    destruction is common for the Don series of imaging satellites.

    The Space Infrared Telescope Facility has been renamed the Spitzer
    Space Telescope, after astronomer Lyman Spitzer Jr. (1914-1997), who
    championed the idea of telescopes in space starting in 1946 and is
    credited with being the driving force behind OAO and HST. The first
    Spitzer Space Telescope images have been released, including a very
    spiffy image of the galaxy M81. Congratulations to all my friends on the
    Spitzer team for getting the mission off to a great start.

    The Japanese Mars probe, Nozomi, flew past the planet on Dec 14 at a
    height of 1000 km. Attempts to operate the spacecraft's main propulsion
    system failed, and small thrusters were used to increase the flyby
    distance by about 100 km to ensure a clean miss. The mission has now
    been abandoned, and Nozomi will enter a new orbit around the Sun. The
    flyby will have modified its orbit somewhat, but I don't have the new
    parameters. Meanwhile, the UK's Beagle-2 lander was ejected from the
    European Space Agency's Mars Express at 0831 UTC on Dec 19, on a
    trajectory that will impact Mars on Dec 25. On Dec 20 Mars Express
    tweaked its own orbit away from impact in preparation for orbit
    insertion around Mars.

    Table of Recent Launches

    Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL.
    Nov 3 0720 JB-4? CZ-2D Jiuquan Micrograv 51C
    Nov 14 1601 Zhongxing-20 CZ-3A Xichang Comms 52A
    Nov 24 0622 Yamal-200 KA-1 ) Proton-K/DM-2M Baykonur PL81/23 Comms 53A
                  Yamal-200 KA-2 ) Comms 53B
    Nov 29 0433 IGS-2a ) H-IIA 2024 Tanegashima Imaging F02
                  IGS-2b ) Radar F02
    Dec 2 1004 USA 173 ) Atlas IIAS Vandenberg SLC3E Sigint 54A
                  USA 173 P/L 2? ) Sigint 54C
    Dec 5 0600 Gruzomaket Strela Baykonur PL132 Test 55A
    Dec 10 1742 Kosmos-2402 ) Proton-K/Briz Baykonur PL81 Navigation 56A
                  Kosmos-2403 ) Navigation 56B
                  Kosmos-2404 ) Navigation 56C
    Dec 18 0230 UHF F/O F11 Atlas IIIB Canaveral SLC36B Comms 57A
    Dec 21 0805 GPS SVN 47 Delta 7925 Canaveral SLC17A Navigation 58A

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