Jonathan's Space Report - Next Issue

This is the draft of the NEXT issue of JSR. WARNING: Information on this page is up to date but not well checked, and may include wild rumours and downright nonsense. For the CURRENT issue of JSR, click here

Jonathan's Space Report 
No. 749 draft                                                 2018 May 25  Somerville, MA
JSR 748 is now permalinked at http://planet4589.org/space/jsr/back/news.748.txt

International Space Station

Expedition 55 continues with  Anton Shkaplerov in command, Scott Tingle,
Norishige Kanai, Oleg Artemev, Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel as flight
engineers.  Ferry ships Soyuz MS-07 and Soyuz MS-08 are docked to the

On May 5 Dragon CRS-14 returned to Earth. The Canadarm-2 released it at 1323 UTC;
the deorbit burn as at 1806 UTC and it splashed down at 30 N 123W around 1900 UTC.

On May 11, three cubesats were ejected from the J-SSOD-8 deployer carried
up on CRS-14; they were described in the last issue. The Costa Rican cubesat
Irazu has been renamed Batsu-CS1.

On May 16 astronauts Feustel and Arnold conducted spacewalk US EVA-50
in spacesuits 3006 and 3003. The Quest airlock was depressurized at 1133 UTC
and repressurized at 1810 UTC. During the spacewalk the astronauts worked with
the Pump Flow Control System (PFCS) units for the ammonia cooling system.
As of Apr 11 there were 12 PFCS units on ISS: the serial numbers here are my own
invention, but I have confirmed that my PFCS 4 is indeed S/N 0004. I tabulate
their histories below - I think this is right but I welcome corrections.
Each of the solar-panel-bearing segments P4, P6, S4, S6 has two PFCS;
in addition P6 has two extra PFCS slots for the Early Active Thermal
Control System which operated from 2000 to 2007. One spare unit is
stored on External Stowage Platform 1 (ESP1).

             Location            Dates                         Nickname

  PFCS 1     P6 EATCS1           2000 Dec  1 to 2013 May 11.   
             P6 Channel 2B,      2013 May 11 to present

  PFCS 2     P6 EATCS2           2000 Dec  1 to 2018 Apr 11    'Trippy'
             Dextre EOTP         2018 Apr 11 to 2018 Apr 14
             Dragon CRS-14 Trunk 2018 Apr 14 to 2018 May  5, destroyed on reentry
  PFCS 3     P6 Channel 4B       2000 Dec  1 to present

  PFCS 4     P6 Channel 2B       2000 Dec  1 to 2013 May 11    'Leaky' S/N 0004
             P6 EATCS 1          2013 May 11 to 2018 May 10
             Dextre EOTP         2018 May 10 to 2018 May 16
             ESP-1               2018 May 16 to present

  PFCS 5     ESP-1  (spare)      2001 Mar 13  to 2018 May 16   'Frosty'
             Dextre EOTP         2018 May 16  to 2018 May 17
             P6 EATCS1           2018 May 17  to present

  PFCS 6     P4 Channel 2A       2006 Sep  9  to present
  PFCS 7     P4 Channel 4A       2006 Sep  9  to present
  PFCS 8     S4 Channel 1A       2007 Jun  8  to present
  PFCS 9     S4 Channel 3A       2007 Jun  8  to present
  PFCS 10    S6 Channel 1B       2009 Mar 15  to present
  PFCS 11    S6 Channel 3B       2009 Mar 15  to present

  PFCS 12    Dragon CRS-14 Trunk 2018 Apr  2  to 2018 Apr 11   'Motley'
             P6 EATCS2           2018 Apr 11  to present

PFCS 2 'Trippy' was moved to the  Dragon CRS-14 trunk on Apr 14, and it
was destroyed on the trunk's reentry on May 5. CRS-14 had delivered PFCS
12 'Motley' to replace it. PFCS 4 'Leaky' was then robotically extracted
from the P6 and placed on Dextre's temporary holding location, the EOTP.
During the spacewalk the astronauts moved PFCS4 to ESP-1, exchanging it
with PFCS 5 'Frosty' which ended up on the EOTP. PFCS 5 was moved the
next day to a spare slot in the P6 truss where its functionality could
be partially tested.

In addition to the PFCS work, the EVA-50 crewmembers replaced a camera group
on location CP13 and an SGTRC relay box on the Z1 truss.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-9 mission, SS J.R. Thompson, was launched on May 21
by Antares from Wallops/MARS. It arrived at ISS on May 24, with Canadarm-2
capture at 0926 UTC and berthing on Unity at 1213 UTC.


TESS reached its first perigee at 0542 UTC Apr 25 and made a successful
burn to raise apogee to lunar distance. Apogee 2 was at 1903 UTC Apr 29,
at 353440 km. TESS made an 8119 km lunar flyby at 0632 UTC May 17,
leaving it in a 100000 x 449000 km x 36.4 deg orbit around Earth.
Meanwhile, the TESS cameras were tested successfully; regular
observations should begin in June.


China's Queqiao deep-space communications relay satellite was launched on May 20. It will
unfurl a 4.2m dish antenna. After a 100 km lunar flyby on about May 25 it will
take up station in a 13000-km-wide 'halo orbit' around the Earth-Moon L2 point, 
64445 km behind the Moon, to provide farside radio
communications to support the planned Chang'e 4 farside lander.

Earth-Moon L1 and L2 (EML1, EML2) are on the lunar Hill sphere that
marks the approximate point where lunar gravity dominates over Earth
gravity. Don't confuse them with Sun-Earth L1 and L2 (SEL1, SEL2) on the
1.5-million-km radius Earth-Moon system Hill sphere which marks the
point  at which the Earth's gravity (with the Moon's help) dominates
over the Sun. (I'm using 'dominate' here in a very loose way, to mean
`this is the point at which it's a better approximation to  pretend
you're in orbit around object A rather than object B'). SEL1 and SEL2
have been used a lot since ISEE-3 went to SEL1 in 1978. EML1 and EML2
are much less well known. They were explored by Japan's Hiten probe in
1990; the ARTEMIS P1/P2 spacecraft and the Chang'e-5FTD vehicle also
visited them, but this will be the first time a probe has used either
EML location as its primary mission destination.

Queqiao made a 100 km lunar flyby at 1340 UTC May 25 and made 
a braking burn close to perilune to put it on course to reach EML2.
The CZ-4C third stage made a 9900 km lunar flyby at 1403 UTC May 25, and ended up
in a 16910 x 444000 km x 14.5 deg Earth orbit.

The CZ-4C also deployed two 45 kg DSLWP (Discovering the Sky at Longest
Wavelengths Pathfinder) small astronomy satellites, Longjiang-1 and 2
(DSLWP-A and B). The two satellites also made lunar encounters on May
25. Longjiang-2 is confirmed to have successfully entered
lunar orbit.

Mars Insight

The NASA/JPL Mars Insight probe was launched from Space Launch Complex
3-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5. Centaur AV-078 entered a
185 x 185 km x 64.0 deg parking orbit. After almost one orbit it made a
second burn to a hyperbolic orbit of 115 x -110126 km x  63.54 deg which
will lead to a 1.0 x 1.4 AU x 2.3 deg orbit around the Sun and arrival
in Mars' gravitational sphre on Nov 22. Insight will land on Mars on Nov

Two 6U cubesats were deployed from the Centaur Aft Bulkhead Carrier.
Mars Cube One (MarCO) A and B have freon-based propulsion systems and
will fly independently to Mars on a closely similar trajectory, making a
flyby to test their ability to relay data from the lander during


ESA's Sentinel 3B Earth observing satellite was launched from Plesetsk on Apr 25
aboard Eurockot's Rokot/Briz-KM vehicle. Sentinel-3B is in the same orbit plane
as Sentinel-3A, launched in 2016, and following 10 minutes behind it.


China launched the fourth CZ-11 rocket on Apr 26, carrying Zhuhai Orbita's Zhuhai-1 Group 2
satellites. These include the 90 kg OVS-2 video satellite and the OHS-01/02/03/04 hyperspectral
camera satellites.


On Apr 14 ULA launched Atlas AV-079 with a US military payload. The
Centaur stage made three burns to deliver the CBAS and EAGLE satellites to orbit.

The ULA press kit implied a 38992 x 38992 km x 0 deg orbit thousands of km above the
geosynchronous belt, but this appears to have been a typo or misinformation, since
hobbyists soon located the payloads in a near-synchronous 35233 x 35275 km x 0.1 deg
orbit. By May 11, CBAS was braking to geostationary at 112W.

The CBAS (Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM) satellite is operated
by USAF SMC's Military Satellite Communications Directorate. Its
manufacturer is unknown, and its role is obscure.

EAGLE is a satellite built from the ESPA mutiple satellite adapter 
first flown in 2007. ESPA is a ring that sits between CBAS and the
Centaur, with attachment points for small satellites and experiments
spaced around it. (The LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft in 2009 was
similarly built from an ESPA ring attached to its Centaur). EAGLE stands
for ESPA Augmented Geostationary Laboratory Experiment; ESPA stands for
EELV Secondary Payload Adapter; and EELV stands for Evolved Expendable
Launch Vehicle. The EAGLE bus is known as ESPAStar and the satellite was
built by Orbital ATK. EAGLE is operated by the Air Force Research Lab.

It appears the EAGLE ESPA-ring-based satellite launched on Apr 14
deployed two secret 100-kg-class  box shaped payloads on about Apr 26
and a third possibly on May 11. These use the ESPASat bus, designed to
fit in the ESPAStar azimuthal slots. One of these is Mycroft, an
experiment which will carry out formation flying between 1 and 35 km
from EAGLE to test space surveillance and proximity operations
technology. The second and third payloads are a mystery at the moment.

There is also one debris object released at the time of launch, possibly
some kind of payload adapter between EAGLE and CBAS.

Apstar 6C

Asia Pacific Telecom's Apstar 6C (Yatai 6C) communications satellite
was launched on May 3 to geotransfer orbit. Apstar 6C is a CAST/Beijing DFH-4
with 26 C-band and 19 Ku/Ka-band transponders. By May 14 it was on station
at 136.5E.

Gao Fen 5

China's Gao Fen 5 high resolution imaging satellite was launched on May
8. Instruments on board are the Advanced Hyperspectral Imager, Visual
and IR Multispectral Sensor, Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Instrument,
Atmospheric Infrared Ultraspectral sensor, Environment Monitoring
Instrument, and the Directional Polarization Camera.


The first major Bangladeshi-owned satellite, Bangabandhu 1, was launched
on May 11 by the first Block 5 Falcon 9. It reached geostationary
orbit at 119E on May 23. The satellite is a Spacebus 4000, from
Thales Alenia's Cannes satellite factory.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 has improvements for reusability and reliability,
but is generally similar to the earlier Falcon 9.


As noted by Phillip Clark on nasaspaceflight.com, the Kosmos-2521 inspector
satellite made a major orbit change on Apr 30, lowering its orbit from
644 x 660 km to only 350 x 369 km. Since then it has been undergoing
natural orbit decay.


SpaceX carried out the 6th Iridium-Next launch from Vandenberg on May
22. 5 more Iridium satellites were deployed, this time to elliptical 500
x 700 km parking orbits. First, the Falcon 9 second stage dropped off
two scientific payloads in a 500 km circular orbit. 

The GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, Follow-on)
satellites replace GRACE 1 and 2 which were launched in 2002 and
reentered a few months ago, and will detect subtle changes in the local
gravitational field due to shifts in the oceans. The GRACE mission is
led by JPL and Germany's Geoforschungszentrum Potzdam (GFZ).

Table of Recent Orbital Launches 
Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle        Site            Mission       INTL.   Catalog  Perigee Apogee  Incl   Notes
Apr  2 2030   Dragon CRS-14           Falcon 9          Canaveral SLC40  Spaceship    32A   S43267   204 x   357 x 51.6
Apr  5 2134   Superbird-8/DSN-1 )     Ariane 5ECA       Kourou ELA3      Comms        33A   S43271 35781 x 35793 x  0.1
              Hylas 4           )                                        Comms        33B   S43272 35781 x 35788 x  0.0
Apr 10 0425   Yaogan 31-01 01   )     Chang Zheng 4C    Jiuquan          Sigint       34A   S43275  1090 x  1100 x 63.4
              Yaogan 31-01 02   )                                        Sigint       34B   S43276  1090 x  1100 x 63.4
              Yaogan 31-01 03   )                                        Sigint       34C   S43277  1090 x  1100 x 63.4
              Weina Jishu Shiyan)                                        Tech         34E   S43279  1090 x  1100 x 63.4
Apr 11 1834   IRNSS-1I                PSLV-XL           Sriharikota      Navigation   35A   S43286 35464 x 35740 x 28.5
Apr 14 2313   CBAS    )               Atlas V 551       Canaveral SLC41  Comms        36A   S43339 35759 x 35776 x  0.0
              EAGLE   )                                                  Tracking     36B   S43340 35588 x 35608 x  0.1
Apr 18 2212   Kosmos-2526 (Blagovest) Proton-M/Briz-M   Baykonur         Comms        37A   S43432 35780?x 35800?x  0.0?
Apr 18 2251   TESS                    Falcon 9          Canaveral SLC40  Astronomy    38A   S43435   249 x268294 x 29.6
Apr 25 1757   Sentinel-3B             Rokot             Plesetsk LC133   Imaging      39A   S43437   803 x   821 x 98.6
Apr 26 0442   OVS-2              )    Chang Zheng 11    Jiuquan          Imaging      40A   S43439   496 x   511 x 97.4
              OHS-01 (Qingkeda-1))                                       Imaging      40B   S43440   496 x   511 x 97.4
              OHS-02             )                                       Imaging      40C   S43441   496 x   511 x 97.4
              OHS-03 (Guiyang-1) )                                       Imaging      40D   S43442   493 x   512 x 97.4
              OHS-04             )                                       Imaging      40E   S43443   492 x   511 x 97.4
Apr 26?       Mycroft )                                EAGLE, high orbit Tech         36E   S43445 35290?x  35290?x 0.1
              USA 286 )                                                  Tech         36F   S43446 35290?x  35290?x 0.1
May  3 1606   Apstar 6C               Chang Zheng 3B    Xichang          Comms        41A   S43450   239 x 41827 x 27.2
May  5 1105   Mars Insight)           Atlas V 401       Vandenberg SLC3E Mars probe   42A   S43457   115 x-110126x 63.4
              MarCO-A     )                                              Mars probe   42B   S43458   115 x-110126x 63.4
              MarCO-B     )                                              Mars probe   42C   S43459   115 x-110126x 63.4
May  8 1828   GaoFen 5                Chang Zheng 4C    Taiyuan          Imaging      43A   S43461   682 x   688 x 98.1
May 11 1030   1KUNS-PF  )                              ISS, LEO          Tech       98-67NQ S43467   400 x   402 x 51.6
              Batsu-CS1 )                                                Tech       98-67NR S43468   400 x   402 x 51.6
May 11 1040   UBAKUSAT                                 ISS, LEO          Tech       98-67NP S43466   400 x   402 x 51.6
May 11 2014   Bangabandhu 1           Falcon 9 FT5      Kennedy SLC39A   Comms        44A   S43463   296 x 35515 x 19.3
May 12?       USA 287                                  EAGLE, high orbit Tech         36G   S43465 35290?x 35290?x  0.1
May 20 2128   Queqiao    )            Chang Zheng 4C    Xichang          Comms        45A   S43470   159 x376347 x 29.0
              Longjiang 1)                                               Radio Astron 45B   S43471   184 x400603 x 28.5
              Longjiang 2)                                               Radio Astron 45C   S43472   184 x400603 x 28.5
May 21 0844   SS J.R Thompson         Antares 230       MARS LA0B        Cargo        46A   S43474   228 x   319 x 51.6
May 22 1948   GRACE-FO 1  )           Falcon 9          Vandenberg SLC4E Science      47A   S43478   485 x   504 x 89.0
              GRACE-FO 2  )                                              Science      47B   S43479   485 x   504 x 89.0
              Iridium 110 )                                              Comms        47F   S43483   488 x   718 x 86.7
              Iridium 147 )                                              Comms        47E   S43482   489 x   714 x 86.7
              Iridium 152 )                                              Comms        47D   S43481   493 x   710 x 86.7
              Iridium 161 )                                              Comms        47C   S43480   489 x   714 x 86.7
              Iridium 162 )                                              Comms        47G   S43484   491 x   715 x 86.7

Table of Recent Suborbital Launches

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

Apr  4 1040   WRX-R             Black Brant 9      Roi-Namur, Kwajalein  XR Astron     204       Kwajalein
Apr  4 1800   Hyperbola-1S      Shian Quxian 1S    Haikou, Hainan        Test          108       S China Sea
Apr 11        Burkan RV         Burkan 2H          Yemen                 Weapon        100?      Riyadh Airport
Apr 16 1647   CHESS 4           Black Brant 9      Roi-Namur, Kwajalein  UV Astron     200?      Kwajalein
Apr 25 1226   Mk 12 or 21 RV?   Minuteman 3        Vandenberg LF10       Test         1300?      Kwajalein?
Apr 27 1203   RV                ?                  Taiyuan?              Test         1000?      Korla?
Apr 29 1706   CC 2.0-1          New Shepard        West Texas            Test          106       West Texas
May  8        Burkan RV         Burkan 2H          Yemen                 Weapon        100?      Riyadh 
May  8        Burkan RV         Burkan 2H          Yemen                 Weapon        100?      Riyadh 
May 13 0830   TEXUS 54          VSB-30             Esrange               Microgravity  261       Esrange B zone
May 14 0823   Mk 12 or 21 RV?   Minuteman 3        Vandenberg LF04       Test         1300?      Kwajalein?
May 22        RV x ?            Bulava             K-535, White Sea      Test         1000?      Kura
May 22        RV x ?            Bulava             K-535, White Sea      Test         1000?      Kura
May 22        RV x ?            Bulava             K-535, White Sea      Test         1000?      Kura
May 22        RV x ?            Bulava             K-535, White Sea      Test         1000?      Kura

|  Jonathan McDowell                 |                                    |
|  Somerville MA 02143               |  inter : planet4589 at gmail       |
|  USA                               |  twitter: @planet4589              |
|                                                                         |
| JSR: http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html                                 |
| Back issues:  http://www.planet4589.org/space/jsr/back                  |
| Subscribe/unsub: http://www.planet4589.org/mailman/listinfo/jsr         |