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The Space Report ("JSR") is issued about twice a month. It describes all space launches, including both piloted missions and automated satellites. Back issues are available online. To receive the JSR each week by direct email, subscribe at Feel free to reproduce the JSR as long as you're not doing it for profit. If you are doing so regularly, please inform Jonathan by email. Comments, suggestions, and corrections are encouraged. See here for translations to other languages.

You can mail Jonathan McDowell at planet4589 at gmail dot com.

See also:

JSR STOP PRESS - the draft of NEXT week's JSR, updated throughout the week.

GEOSTATIONARY SATELLITE LOG with a catalog of all known satellites ever in the geosynchronous ring and their reasonably current positions.

LAUNCH LOG - My best attempt at a complete listing of all satellite launch attempts.

Jonathan's Space Home Page - with links to lots of other space data not available elsewhere.

SATELLITE CATALOG - My version of the Space Command satellite catalog, providing a cross reference between catalog number and international designation. Corrections are welcome.

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 747                                                     2018 Apr  3  Somerville, MA

International Space Station

Expedition 55 is underway with  Anton Shkaplerov in command, Scott
Tingle and Norishige Kanai as the initial flight engineers. On Mar 21 Soyuz MS-08
was launched with Oleg Artemev, Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel. It docked
with the Poisk module at 1940 UTC Mar 23 and the three arrivals joined
the Ex55 crew as flight engineers.

Cargo ship Progress MS-07 undocked from the Pirs module at 1350 UTC on
Mar 28. At about 1520 UTC on Mar 29 it raised apogee, maneuvering to a
407 x 436 km orbit. Around 1315 UTC on Apr 2 another burn lowered
perigee, leaving it in a 384 x 436 km orbit.

On Mar 28 the Japanese JRMS robot arm was used to move the broken CATS atmosphere
observatory from one location to another on the JEM External Facility; a reboot
attempt failed, confirming the problem is CATS itself and not the electrical socket.

On Mar 29 astronauts Feustel and Arnold, in suits 3006 and 3003, made
spacewalk ISS US EVA-49 from the Quest module. They depressurized the
airlock at 1325 UTC and opened the hatch at 1329 UTC. The astronauts
added radio antennas to the Tranquility module and replaced the ETVCG
camera set on P1 truss camera port CP8. The hatch was closed at 1938 UTC
and the airlock was repressurized at 1943 UTC.

On Apr 2 the Dragon CRS-14 cargo delivery mission was launched. The
Falcon 9 first stage was B1039, on its second flight. It made a
ballistic flight and tested ocean terminal maneuvers, but no recovery
attempt was made. The second stage was, as always, a new stage. It
placed Dragon in orbit and then made a deorbit burn to reenter over the
Southern Ocean. The CRS-14 Dragon is the 16th Dragon mission. It used
capsule 110, which  flew previously on CRS-8, together with a new
nosecap and a new trunk section.

In the CRS-14 trunk were three payloads - MISSE-FF, ASIM and PFCS.

MISSE-FF, owned by private company Astra LLC, will be placed at ELC-2
Site 3 to host sample containers which expose various materials to space
to see if they are good candidates to be used in building future
satellites. Mass may be around 435 kg.

ASIM is the ESA Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor, for studying
upper-atmosphere electrical discharges. It will go to the Columbus EPF
and has a mass of 314 kg

PFCS is the Pump Flow Control System, a component of the Station's
cooling system. It will be stored as a spare part outside the station,
Mass of a PFCS unit is about 111 kg; this may not include the storage
adapter which is probably another 50 kg.

In CRS-14's cabin is the 100 kg RemoveDebris payload from Surrey
Satellite. It will be deployed from the ISS Kibo module and test
technologies for active debris removal. RemoveDebris carries two 2U
cubesat subsatellites which it will eject. It will attack one of them
with a net and stalk the other one with sensors. It also will put a
target card on a 1.5-metre boom and prang it with a tethered harpoon.
The idea of RemoveDebris is to test tech for getting rid of space junk.
The net around the cubesat will act as a drag sail to speed up the
satellite's reentry. The RemoveDebris payload itself carries a
DeOrbitSail system to increase drag. The system was tested on a 2015
cubesat with partial success.


Tiangong-1 reentered 0016 UTC Apr 2 over the South Pacific at 164.3W 13.6S,
between Samoa and Tonga.

  In the 1970s and 1980s China funded its space program at a low level,
with only about one satellite launch a year. In the 1990s they started a
crash program to catch up with the US and Russia, ticking off each space
first one by one: human-in-space, moon-probe, moon-lander, spacewalk,
docking and so on. The Shenzhou spaceship, carrying 2 to 3 astronauts,
is similar to Soyuz; the Tiangong spacelab is like Russia's 1971
Salyut-1 spacelab, and the associated program replicates both Russia's
Salyut-1/Salyut-4 and NASA's Gemini missions. 

  Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 and hosted two astronaut crews in 2012
and 2013. China *should* then have deorbited it under control over the
South Pacific. But they were worried that if the 2016 launch of
Tiangong-2 failed, their program would be stalled. So, they decided to
keep Tiangong-1 in orbit beyond its design life, in hibernation as a
backup for Tiangong-2. In the event, the Tiangong-2 launch went just
fine but Tiangong-1 had by then broken down. Since 2016 it has been inert,
orbiting the Earth without any active control, its initial 364 x 382 km
orbit inclined 42.8 deg to the equator slowly decaying.

Tiangong-1's initial mass was 8500 kg, but propellant usage and usage of
food and water by the crews had reduced this to at most 7500 kg
according to my calculations. Although most spacecraft of this mass are
nowadays usually not allowed to make uncontrolled reentries, since 1957
there have in fact been 48 such uncontrolled reentries of objects more
massive than it. The most recent was in January 2018, involving an 8000 kg
Russian rocket stage launched only a month earlier.

By 0h UTC on Apr 1, the orbit of Tiangong-1 was 161 x 171 km (apogee and
perigee relative to a fictional 6378 km radius sphere). By this stage
atmospheric drag was quickly changing the orbital elements.
The US Air Force 18SPCS issued a number of updated TLE element sets 
during the day, based on fits to data obtained by
a number of ground-based radars around the world. The final such set
had an epoch of 16h UTC and showed the orbit to be 144.5 x 152.3 km.
For comparison, the ISS orbits at 400 km.


Arianespace launched a Soyuz/Fregat from the Centre Spatial Guyanais on
Mar 9 with the fourth quartet of O3b communications satelllites for SES.
The O3b equatorial MEO constellation provides broadband internet for the
'other 3 billion' in the developing world.

The Soyuz delivered the Fregat upper stage to an -1186 x 194 km x 5.3
deg trajectory. The Fregat made multiple burns to 160 x 205 km, 190 x
7869 km, 7831 x 7835 km. O3b FM14 and FM16 were deployed at 1911 UTC;
FM13 and FM15 were deployed at 1932 UTC.


On Mar 29 ISRO launched the GSAT-6A military communications satellite
with its Mk II Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle, flight GSLV-08
with cryognenic upper stage CUS-09. After a successful orbit insertion
to a 152 x 36509 km x 20.9 deg geotransfer orbit, GSAT-6A made its first
apogee burn at 0552 UTC Mar 30, reaching 5028 x 36440 km x 12.0 deg.
However after a second, 53-min duration, apogee burn on Mar 31, ISRO
lost contact with it. On Apr 2 US tracking found it in a 25979 x 36368
km x 3.3 deg orbit, suggesting that the burn completed successfully, but
as of this writing contact has not been regained.


On Mar 29 Russia launched the light Soyuz-2-1V rocket from Plesetsk.
Soyuz-2-1V is like a regular Soyuz but without the four large side
strapon boosters. On its three previous launches it was combined with a
Volga upper stage, but this time the bare 1V configuration was flown.
The payload was the EMKA - 'Experimental Small Spacecraft', a small
imaging satellite built by VNII Elektromekhaniki (VNIIEM). It was given
the Kosmos-2525 cover name after being placed in a low 315 x 318 km 
sun-synchronous orbit. 


Two more Beidou-3 navigation satellites were launched on Mar 29. This
pair, Beidou-3 MEO-9 and MEO-10,  used the design built by the Shanghai
Engineering Center for Microsatellites. They are number 30 and 31
in the overall constellation and use PRN code numbers C29 and C30.


SpaceX carried out its 5th Iridium-Next deployment mission on Mar 30.
Ten satellites were deployed into initial orbits which will kater 
be raised by the satellites' own propulsion systems.
The Falcon 9 first stage, B1041, was not recovered. The second
stage deorbited itself on the first orbit.


China launched three Gaofen-1 imaging satellites on Mar 31.
GF-1-2, GF-1-3, and GF-1-4 will reportedly work with the GF-1-1 satellite
launched in 2013. They were launched into the 1030LT sun-synchronous
orbit plane originally home to GF-1-1; however GF-1-1's plane has
now drifted to 1102 LT.

Dead satellites from 2017 Soyuz/Fregat 

On 2017 Jul 14 (as reported in JSR 740) a Soyuz/Fregat launch from
Baykonur placed 73 payloads in orbit. One payload, Flock 2k-42, appears
not to have separated from the Fregat stage, while another,
Lemur-2-ArtFisher, was ejected at the wrong time and ended up in the
wrong orbit - a new flavor of launch failure. In addition, nine of the
payloads never responded to their ground controllers after deployment:
the nine appear to be Landmapper-BC1 and BC2 (Astro Digital), CICERO-1,
2 and 3 (GeoOptics), Iskra-MAI-85 (Moscow Av.Inst.), Ekvador-UTE-YuzGU
(YuzGU, SW State Univ), and MKA-N-1 and 2 (Roskosmos). The satellites
were all mounted in the same area of the launch vehicle. According to an
article by Debra Werner in Space News (Mar 9) the satellite owners and
insurers believe, despite denials by the launch service marketer, that
these satellites were damaged because a Fregat thruster malfunctioned
and sprayed hydrazine over the payloads, with another thruster plume
possibly causing the hydrazine to ignite. The satellites were, in this
account, dead before ejection. This is a new one on me, although perhaps
can be grouped with cases where residual thrust from an upper stage
caused damaging recontact with an ejected payload, or where problems
with the acoustic environment inside a fairing caused payload damage.
I consider that in a successful launch there is an at least implicit
responsibility of the launch provider not to toast the payloads during
ascent. Apply the rules I set out in JSR 669 for 'payload
failed to separate' and weighting for the fact that 62 of the 73
payloads were delivered correctly, I reduce this launch's
success rating from 100 percent to 89 percent.

Rocket stage disposal

Recently I've found the idea to be widespread that most upper stages are
actively deorbited rather than left in space to make an eventual
uncontrolled reentry. Let's look at the actual data, sorted by launch
provider and disposal method.

In some cases multiple upper stages can achieve orbit, for example an
insertion stage left in parking orbit and a final stage left in the
delivery orbit. Delta rockets used to do this - stage 2 in LEO, stage 3
in GTO - and Soyuz/Fregat sometimes does it today. More common nowadays
is for the 'parking orbit' to be marginally suborbital, with what would
have been the insertion stage making most of an orbit before reentry,
and only the upper stage getting to orbit. Examples include the Ariane 5
core stage, the Shuttle external tank, and the ISRO PSLV stage 3. I'll
include these marginally-suborbital stages because, compared to practice
in the 1970s, they reflect a design change to avoid uncontrolled stage
reentry.  I distinguish stages left in LEO to reenter uncontrolled, left
in low-perigee high-apogee transfer orbits from which uncontrolled
reentry may happen in a few years, and left in high orbits where they
will remain for centuries or longer. These methods of stage disposal are
mostly considered 'safe', but do contribute to the overall space junk
population. The worst debris risk is from stages left in the higher LEO
orbits; even those that reenter quickly present a ground impact risk,
however small. In 2017, 42 percent of the stages launched performed
controlled entries to pre-planned target zones. This compares with 12
percent in 2000 and 11 percent in 1970.

Rocket stages in orbit 2017: controlled reentry or not?

       Marginal      Deorbited    Left in LEO      Left in high orbit   Total  
       Suborb                      to reenter       (GTO, MEO, GEO)
                                                   LowPeri HighPeri

ULA           0         7                0             0     1       8     
SpX           0        11                0             7     0      18     
OATK          0         0                4             0     0       4     

Arianespace  11         3                0             6     2      22

Khru + ILS    4         0                1             0     4       9
S7            0         0                1             0     1       2     
Roskosmos     0         1                7             0     0       8     
VVKO          2         1                2             0     2       7     

CALT          0         0                5             5     1      11     
SBA           0         3                2             0     0       5     
EXPACE        0         0                1             0     0       1     
CASIC         0         0                1             0     0       1     

MHI           0         0                2             4     0       6     
ISRO          3         0                2             3     0       8

Total        20         26              28            25    11     110


The GRACE 1 satellite reentered on March 10, ending the GRACE mission
that began in 2002. The identical GRACE 1 and 2 satellites, built by
Astrium/Bremen, were operated by the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam for
the German space agency DLR  and by JPL and UT Austin for NASA. They
were launched together on a Rokot from Plesetsk into a 450 x 466 km x 89
deg orbit, which decayed to around 300 km by late 2017. The satellites
flew in the same orbit about 200 km apart, measuring slight changes in
acceleration over space and time due to uneven distribution of mass on
the Earth, sensitive enough to detect changes in ocean currents, ice
sheets and aquifers. The GRACE science mission ended on 2017 Oct 27,
with a battery failure on GRACE 2. GRACE 2 reentered on Dec 24. GRACE 1
continued transmitting until Dec 13, by when it had run out of
propellant and had been passivated. (Thanks to JPL for this latter info.)
A similar dual-satellite mission, GRAIL, carried out analogous gravity
mapping of the Moon.

Two GRACE-FO follow on satellites are being prepared for launch.

Table of Recent Orbital Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission       INTL.   Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes
Feb  1 0207   Kanopus V-3         )   Soyuz-2-1A/Fregat Vostochniy       Imaging      14A   S43180   500 x   511 x 97.5 2323LT
              Kanopus V-4         )                                      Imaging      14B   S43181   500 x   510 x 97.5 2323LT
              S-NET 1             )                                      Comms        14    S43182?  571 x   589 x 97.7
              S-NET 2             )                                      Comms        14    S43183?  571 x   589 x 97.7
              S-NET 3             )                                      Comms        14    S43184?  571 x   589 x 97.7
              S-NET 4             )                                      Comms        14    S43185?  571 x   589 x 97.7
              Lemur-2-Kadi        )                                      AIS/Weather  14    S43186?  570? x  590?x 97.7?
              Lemur-2-TheNickMolo )                                      AIS/Weather  14    S43187?  570? x  590?x 97.7?
              Lemur-2-Jin-Luen    )                                      AIS/Weather  14    S43188?  570? x  590?x 97.7?
              Lemur-2-UramChanSol )                                      AIS/Weather  14    S43189?  570? x  590?x 97.7?
              D-Star One Phoenix  )                                      Tech         14    S43190?  570? x  590?x 97.7?
Feb  2 0751   Zhang Heng 1  )         Chang Zheng 2D    Jiuquan          Science      15A   S43192   489 x   509 x 97.3 1411LT
              Ada           )                                            Imaging      15    S43193?  493 x   504 x 97.2
              Maryam        )                                            Imaging      15    S43194?  488 x   508 x 97.3
              Ulloriaq      )                                            AIS/Imaging  15    S43195?  486 x   508 x 97.3
              GOMX-4B       )                                            Tech         15    S43196?  483 x   507 x 97,3
              Shaonian Xing )                                            Tech         15    S43197?  483 x   507 x 97,3
              FengMaNiu 1   )                                            Tech         15    S43199?  485 x   507 x 97.3
Feb  3 0503   Tasuki                  SS-520            Uchinoura        Comms        16A   S43201   186 x  2012 x 30.9
Feb  6 2045   Elon's Roadster         Falcon Heavy      Kennedy LC39A    Test         17A   S43205   717 x-79898 x 28.9
Feb 12 0503   Beidou DW28  )          Chang Zheng 3B/YZ1 Xichang LC2     Navigation   18A   S43207 21464 x 22170 x 55.0
              Beidou DW29  )                                             Navigation   18B   S43208 21539 x 22191 x 55.0
Feb 13 0813   Progress MS-08          Soyuz-2-1A        Baykonur LC31    Cargo        19A   S43211   189 x   223 x 51.6
Feb 22 1417   PAZ           )         Falcon 9          Vandenberg SLC4E Radar        20A   S43215   501 x   518 x 97.5 0600LT SSO 
              Tintin A      )                                            Comms        20B   S43216   500 x   517 x 97.5 0600LT SSO 
              Tintin B      )                                            Comms        20C   S43217   500 x   517 x 97.5 0600LT SSO 
Feb 27 0434   JSE K-6                 H-IIA 202         Tanegashima      Imaging      21A   S43223   500?x   500?x 97.5?
Mar  1 2202   GOES 17                 Atlas V 541       Canaveral SLC41  Weather      22A   S43226  8241 x 35286 x  9.5     
Mar  6 0533   Hispasat 30W-6 )        Falcon 9          Canaveral SLC40  Comms        23A   S43228   287 x 22255 x 27.0
              PODSAT         )                                           Tech         23B   S43229   188 x 22250 x 27.0
Mar  9 1710   O3b FM13    )           Soyuz-2-1B/Fregat CSG ELS          Comms        24D   S43231  7830 x  7846 x  0.0
              O3b FM14    )                                              Comms        24C   S43232  7808 x  7848 x  0.0
              O3b FM15    )                                              Comms        24A   S43233  7825 x  7836 x  0.0
              O3b FM16    )                                              Comms        24B   S43234  7821 x  7835 x  0.0
Mar 17 0710   LKW 4                   Chang Zheng 2D    Jiuquan Pad 603  Imaging      25A   S43236   490 x   503 x 97.3 1330LT SSO
Mar 21 1744   Soyuz MS-08             Soyuz-FG          Baykonur LC1     Spaceship    26A   S43238   196 x   232 x 51.6
Mar 29 1126   GSAT-6A                 GSLV Mk II        Satish Dhawan SLP Comms       27A   S43241  5028 x 36440 x 12.0  
Mar 29 1738   Kosmos-2525             Soyuz-2-1V        Plesetsk         Imaging      28A   S43243   315 x   318 x 96.6
Mar 29 1756   Beidou DW 30 )          Chang Zheng 3B/YZ1 Xichang         Nav          29A   S43245 21537 x 22913 x 55.0
              Beidow DW 31 )                                             Nav          29B   S43245 21542 x 22192 x 55.0
Mar 30 1413   Iridium SV140 )         Falcon 9          Vandenberg SLC4E Comms        30D   S43252   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV142 )                                            Comms        30J   S43257   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV143 )                                            Comms        30K   S43258   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV144 )                                            Comms        30G   S43255   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV145 )                                            Comms        30E   S43253   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV146 )                                            Comms        30F   S43254   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV148 )                                            Comms        30A   S43249   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV149 )                                            Comms        30B   S43250   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV150 )                                            Comms        30H   S43256   608 x   626 x 86.7
              Iridium SV157 )                                            Comms        30C   S43251   608 x   626 x 86.7
Mar 31 0322   Gaofen 1-02 )           Chang Zheng 4C    Taiyuan LC9      Imaging      31A   S43259?  639 x   643 x 98.0
              Gaofen 1-03 )                                              Imaging      31B   S43260?  638 x   642 x 98.0
              Gaofen 1-04 )                                              Imaging      31C   S43261?  638 x   642 x 98.0
Apr  2 2030   Dragon CRS-14           Falcon 9          Canaveral SLC40  Spaceship    32A   S43267   204 x   357 x 51.6

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

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

Jan 30        Burkan RV         Burkan 2H          Yemen                 Weapon        100?      Riyadh Airport
Feb  5        Target            B-611?             Jiuquan?              Target        300?      Urumqi?
Feb  5        Interceptor       DF-21              Urumqi?               Interceptor   100?      Intercept
Feb  6 0300   Agni RV           Agni I             Kalam Island          Test          300?      Bay of Bengal         
Feb 18 2330   Arrow KV          Arrow 3            Palmachim             Test          100?      Mediterranean?
Feb 20 0308   Agni RV           Agni II            Kalam Island          Test          600?      Indian Ocean
Mar           Dummy KV?         Nudol'             Plesetsk              Test          100?      Russia
Mar 25 1051   NASA 46.019UO     Terrier Im.Mal.    Wallops I             Education     172       Atlantic
Mar 25 2025?  Burkan RV         Burkan 2H          Yemen                 Weapon        100?      Riyadh Airport
Mar 27 0240?  Trident RV x n?   Trident II         USS Nebraska, Pacific Test         1000?      Kwajalein?
Mar 27 0240?  Trident RV x n?   Trident II         USS Nebraska, Pacific Test         1000?      Kwajalein?

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