The columns in this file are copied from the basic GCAT files,
combining data from the Launch Lists with data from the Object Catalogs.
an identifier for the launch. For orbital launches, this is the international (COSPAR)
designation of the launch. For other launches, the designation is assigned by me using a pseudo-COSPAR format
of the form yyyy-Xnnn, where yyyy is the year of launch, X is a letter, and nnn is an integer. The
designations are explained in the introduction. See the detailed description in the
section of the introduction.
the UTC Gregorian calendar date of launch
The piece designation for the object. For objects in the US SATCAT this is the
COSPAR (International) designation (e.g. 2020-032A).
See the section on launch and piece designations in `definitions and conventions'
This field contains a SatType string as defined in the
This field tells you something about what kind of object this is. At the coarsest
level, we characterize the object as payload (P), rocket stage (R), component (C) or debris (D).
A component is a functional part of the spacecraft or rocket that is deliberately or
accidentally ejected - a fairing, for example. Litter, if you like! A debris object in this sense is
a fragment from a satellite breakup, usually accidental - although fragments from deliberate explosions
or collisions are included in this category.
At a finer level the type string provides a lot more information for special cases.
for more details.
My recommended name for the object. The name is based on that used by the owner/operator
of the object. In cases where the original name is in a non-Latin character set,
see the associated
GCAT unicode name list
for a representation of the name in Unicode.
VERY IMPORTANT: Sometimes we know that certain sats were aboard a launch but we don't
know which catalog number goes with which object. In this case I just make an arbitrary
match between the specific sats and the open catalog number slots associated with the launch.
In this case I set the 9th character position of the SatType field to '?'. Keep a look
out for this '?'. An example is catalog entry S42827 2017-042C.
The name in the payload catalog is the name given in the UN satellite
registry, where available.
I usually fill in another name (usually Name or PLName from the object
catalog) where not, for readability.
The PLName (Payload Name) is an alternative name for the object. When available, it is the
name used prior to launch by the manufacturer.
The General Catalog (GCAT) uses an alphanumeric identifier (JCAT, originally
Jonathan's Catalog ID) to uniquely tag space objects. The identifier
consists of a single prefix letter followed by a sequence number
with either 5 or 9 digits (examples:
A00022; S101234009). The 9 digit case is not yet in use, but is supported in
anticipation of the introduction of 9-digit SATCAT numbers by the US DoD.
The leading letter tells you which object catalog the object belongs to, as follows:
|A||auxcat (Auxiliary catalog)|
|C||csocat (Complementary catalog)|
|D||deepcat (Deep space catalog)|
|F||ftocat (Failed to orbit catalog)|
|L||lcat (low altitude catalog)|
|R||rcat (suborbital catalog)|
|S||stdcat (Standard catalog)|
|T||tmpcat (Temporary catalog)|
name of the type of rocket used, as given in the
an identifier for the particular launch, for example the serial number of the launch vehicle
or the mission number or name assigned by the launch agency.
- Platform, Launch_Site and Launch_Pad:
where the rocket was launched from. Usually Platform is blank and
the launch site (see the Sites file) tells you where the rocket went up from, and the Pad gives you the specific location
within the launch site. Platform is used for mobile sites such as submarines or planes.
- Ascent_Site and Ascent_Pad
Site and location of the actual rocket launch from a Platform, when different from the Launch_Site.
For air launches, Launch_Site/Pad give the airport/runway of carrier plane takeoff, and Ascent_Site/Pad
give the drop site location.
Organization responsible for launch services (often different from the organization
owning the payload). See the
field. The first letter is the
- O for orbital, M for military missile, T for test rocket,
A for atmospheric rocket, S for suborbital rocket other than missile, D for deep space mission. Also used occasionally are
H (high altitude sounding rocket), R (reentry test), X (launch from world other than Earth), and Y (suborbital spaceplane with human $
This field should be reliable for categories O and D, but the remaining letters are not always assigned fully consistently.
It is mainly intended to separate out orbital and non-orbital launches.
The second letter, possibly followed by digits, is the
launch success fraction
Usually the launch success fraction code
is S, F or U for Success, Fail or Unknown. Success implies propulsive success only, even if no data was returned
from the payload. Also used is E, for pad explosion (no launch occurred, but included in the lists for completeness).
For orbital launches partial success/failure values are sometimes given, e.g. OS80 or OF40. The values between 00 and 99
indicate a percentage success to be used in statistical assessments of launch vehicle reliability as originally described in
and here in
the launch success fraction
part of the definitions section.
this citation is the primary reference for the existence of the launch and for the
given launch time. See the