Jonathan's Space Report
No. 798 2021 Oct 14 Somerville, MA
Note: I have added a new set of lists on my website covering various aspects of
human spaceflight. See http://planet4589.org/space/astro/web/index.html
International Space Station
Expedition 65 continues under the command of Thomas Pesquet (ESA). Flight engineers are
Shane Kimbrough (NASA), Megan McArthur (NASA), Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA), Oleg Novitsky (Roskosmos),
Pyotr Dubrov (Roskosmos), Mark Vande Hei (NASA) and Anton Shkaplerov (Roskomos). These eight
are currently accompanied by the visiting film crew Shipenko and Peresild for a total of 10 people
on ISS. For a couple of minutes during the NS-18 suborbital flight there were a total of 14 people
in space. This equalled the record set during Inspiration 4, when its four crew were supplemented
by three on Shenzhou 12 and seven on ISS.
Soyuz MS-18 undocked from the Rassvet module at 1221:36 UTC Sep 28 and redocked with Nauka at 1304:15 UTC,
inaugurating Nauka's SSVP docking adatper.
Cargo ship Dragon CRS-23 undocked from the IDA-2 port at 1312 UTC Sep 30. It lowered
its orbit at about 1708 UTC to 253 x 406 km, and made its deorbit
burn at 0207 UTC Oct 1, landing off the coast of Florida at about 80.6W 29.8N at roughly 0257 UTC.
The trunk was ejected a few minutes before deorbit and remains in the 253 x 406 km orbit.
Soyuz MS-19 was launched on Oct 5 at 0855 UTC, carrying commander Anton Shkaplerov
and two passengers, movie director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia
Peresild. The ship docked at the Rassvet module at 1222 UTC the same day.
On Oct 6 the Japanese RMS removed the J-SSOD-19 deployer from the Kibo airlock,
and J-SSOD-19 ejected two Australian and two Phillipine cubesats.
Oct Oct 12 the Japanese RMS removed the Nanoracks NRCSD-21 deployer from the Kibo
Airlock. NRCSD-21 deployed the cubesats CAPSAT, SPACE HAUC and PR-CUNAR2.
Chinese Space Station
The Tianzhou 2 cargo ship undocked from the aft port of the Tianhe
module at 0225 UTC Sep 18, and redocked with the forward port, vacated
by Shenzhou 12 two days earlier. China reported the process lasted
`about 4 hours', which I assume means redocking sometime prior to 0630
The Tianzhou 3 cargo ship was launched at 0710 UTC Sep 20 and docked with the aft port
of Tianhe at 1408 UTC the same day.
The Dragon trunk ejected from Inspiration4 is being tracked in a 360 x 369 km x 51.7 deg orbit.
EXPACE launched a Kuaizhou-1A rocket from Jiuquan on Sep 27 with Changuang Weixing Jishu's Jilin-1 Gaofen 02D
high resolution imaging satellite. This is a return to flight of the KZ-1A following its Sep 2020 launch failure
with Jilin-1 Gaofen 02C.
CALT launched a Chang Zheng 3B from Xichang on Sep 27 with the Shiyan 10
test satellite Two objects were cataloged in a 51 degree inclination
geotransfer orbit. After a long delay, China announced that although the
rocket had followed the correct trajectory, the Shiyan 10 payload itself
had failed during the ascent.
The Landsat 9 imaging satellite was launched on Sep 27. The satellite is
similar to Landsat 8 and is built by Northrop Grumman (former Spectrum
Astro/Gilbert). It has optical, near and mid infrared imagers.
The Centaur also carried the ESPA Flight System (EFS), an ESPA ring fixed between the Centaur
and Landsat carrying several cubesat dispensers. EFS ejected four 6U cubesats:
Cesium Astro's CS1 and CS2, for intersatellite communication experiments in partnership with the US Defense
Department's Defense Innovation Unit.
The University of Colorado's CUTE (Cubesat UV Transit Experiment) to study exoplanet atmospheres
Boston University's CUPID with a soft X-ray telescope to study charge exchange emission from the
interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's exosphere. This emission is a frequent annoyance
to X-ray astronomers likeme as it is a hard-to-predict contribution to the background noise in our images
in telescopes like Chandra.
The Chang'e-5 orbiter, which made a 16500 km lunar flyby on Sep 12 after returning from
Sun-Earth L1, looks likely to make a further lunar encounter on Nov 17.
Rant on Registration
The US government needs to improve its procedure for generating the
list of its satellites that it registers with the UN.
This will be a long, ranty, thread.
Since the start of the space age it has been standard practice
that all Earth satellite launches, even `secret' ones, have been
In 1962, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US was
alarmed when it discovered the USSR had launched several unannounced
satellites into low orbit. Were they, perhaps, orbital nukes? No, it
turned out, they were failed interplanetary probes. Nevertheless this
reinforced the idea that unannounced launches were a bad idea.
Relatedly, a UN register of space objects was established;
UN Resolution 1721B and, later, the UN Registration Convention
came into force. The US has mostly, but not perfectly, complied
with the requirements of the convention.
Recently there's been a new problem in the US registrations. The
registration documents are clearly generated from the US satellite
catalog maintained by SpaceForce 18SPCS. This is not good enough. Why?
Let's look at an example - the Electron 4 mission of Dec 2018, launch
2018-104. This placed 11 United States payloads in orbit, and two New Zealand
rocket stages. All 13 objects are being tracked by Space Force,
and we know which 2 objects are the rocket stages.
So, we have 11 tracked objects that we know are the 11 US payloads.
But, for 5 of these payloads we don't know which object is which.
Tracked objects E, F, K, L and P are the satellites
Ceres, RSat, Cubesail, Albus and NMTSat in some order, but we don't
know which order. In the US satellite catalog, catalog numbers
corresponds to objects being tracked, and they only get a name associated
with them if Space Force knows what the tracked object is.
So, if you search for the NASA 'Albus' satellite or the New Mexico Tech 'NMTSat'
in the satellite catalog you won't
find anything. If you count the number of US payloads launched in 2018,
these won't be included and you'll get too low an answer.
More recently, there are the V-R3X payloads from launch 2021-006
which aren't even identified as US objects in the catalog, even though
we know they are objects BC, BG and DQ in some order. So, they are not
included in US registration document ST/SG/SER.E/977 - but they should be.
This is (arguably) not Space Force's fault. It's their catalog and this
is what works for them, I guess. BUT: the requirement on the State
Dept. for UN registration is NOT 'tell me which of your satellites you
are tracking'. It's 'tell me which satellites you have put in orbit'. So
it is NOT OK for them to use the satcat as a complete list for this
purpose - because it is not OK for them to leave out satellites like
Albus just because we don't know
which catalog number it is. We know the US launched Albus and it is in orbit,
so it should be registered with the UN. I would argue the same is true of the Thinsats
deployed from Cygnus even though SpaceForce decided they weren't going to bother
cataloging them at all because they reentered after a few days. They met the usual
criterion for registration with the UN and should be registered.
This used not to be a big problem because very few launched US payloads were
not identified with a catalog number. But now with all these cluster cubesat
launches, it's much more common. I estimate there are 28 unregistered US satellites
in 2018, and 9 in 2019, although only 1 in 2020. There look to be a bunch in 2021
but not all the reg documents are in yet.
One possibility is that Space-Track could maintain a separate public table of
object information versus launch number for objects known to be in orbit
but not associated with a catalog number.
It shouldn't be too hard to do better. I keep a list of the unregistered
satellites on my website (objects marked [US] in square parentheses in
https://planet4589.org/space/gcat/data/cat/psatcat.html If one person
can do this in his spare time, it seems like the US government should be
able to manage it. Do better, America! End of rant.
36 more satellites were launched from Vostochniy on Oct 14.
China's H-alpha Solar Explorer was launched on Oct 14. The 500 kg Xihe satellite,
operated by Nanjing University and developed by SAST/Shanghai, will take high
resolution spectra of the H-alpha spectral line of the solar spectrum. This is red-light
emission produced by the element hydrogen, and is stronger in the active areas (sunspots
etc) of the Sun.
10 other small satellites were also deployed.
- Tianyuan-1 is a 6U cubesat from Nanjing U of Sci and Tech. which is
testing a small solid motor and a microthruster
- QX-1 (Shangye qixang tance xingzuo shiyan weixing) is a commercial GNSS
radio occultatin meteorology test satellite from DFH Shenzhen
- MD-1 (Guidao daqi midu tance shiyan weixing) is a satellite frm DFH Shenzhen to study atmospheric density
- Tianshu-1 is low orbit GNSS augementation technology test satellite
from Huoyan Digital Intelligence Tech Service Co Ltd of Shanghai
- Jiaotong shiyan weixing is a test of VDES (next-generation ship
tracking maritime comms) owned by SISE/Shanghai and built by Lizheng
Sat.App.Tech.; it has a mass of 103 kg and has a 40 mN Hall thruster to raise its orbit to 900 km
- HEAD-2E and HEAD-2F are commercial AIS ship tracking sats for HEAD Aerospace/ Beijing
- SSS-1 (Daxeusheng xiaowexing) is a 30 kg student satellite from Beihang University and
is part of an Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (ASPCO) student satelite project
SSS-1 has a deployable boom, an ADS-B receiver, and an intersatellite comms experiment for use with SSS-2A
- SSS-2A is a 3U cubesat developed by Shanghai Jiaotong Univ
- Jin Zijing 2 (Golden Bauhinia 2) is a small satellite for imaging
developed by Beijing Zero Gravity Lab for Hong Kong Aerospace Tech Group
New Shepard booster PM4 launched capsule CC2.0-2 RSS First Step to 107 km apogee
on Oct 13, carrying Chris Boishuizen, Glen de Vries, Audrey Powers and William Shatner.
The 10m 9s flight spent 2m 29s above 80 km.
The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo probe flew past Mercury on Oct 1. It entered Mercury's
gravitational sphere at 1427 UTC Oct 1, made closest approach of 196 km altitude
at 2336 UTC, and departed the gravitational sphere at 0845 UTC Oct 2.
- FPMU is the Floating Potential Measurement Unit
- Initial inclination of Inspiration 4 is 51.6 deg (not km!)
- Correct spelling of the Inspiration 4 medical officer's surname is Arceneaux.
These have been amended in the archival version of the report.
Table of Recent Orbital Launches
Date UT Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission INTL. Catalog Perigee Apogee Incl Notes
Sep 3 0159 BSS-1 ) Firefly Alpha Vandenberg SLC2W Tech F08 F01599 -6370? x 15?x 137
Serenity ) Edu F08 F01607 -6370? x 15?x 137
Hiapo ) Edu F08 F01608 -6370? x 15?x 137
Qubik 1 ) Tech F08 F01600 -6370? x 15?x 137
Qubik 2 ) Tech F08 F01601 -6370? x 15?x 137
GENESIS L ) Com F08 F01605 -6370? x 15?x 137
GENESIS N ) Com F08 F01604 -6370? x 15?x 137
Spinnaker 3 ) Tech F08 F01609 -6370? x 15?x 137
Sep 7 0301 Gao Fen 5-02 Chang Zheng 4C Taiyuan Imaging 79A S49122 680 x 691 x 98.3
Sep 9 1150 Zhongxing 9B Chang Zheng 3B Xichang Comms 80A S49125 206 x 35792 x 24.6
Sep 9 1959 Kosmos-2551 Soyuz-2-1V Plesetsk LC43/4 Imaging 81A S49127 295 x 307 x 96.4
Sep 10 0455 RAAF M2 B RAAF M2 A, LEO Tech 23J S47973 545 x 558 x 45.0
Sep 14 0355 Starlink 3042-3043 Falcon 9 Vandenberg SLC4E Comms 82 212 x 339 x 70.0
Sep 14 1807 OneWeb SL0292 Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat Baykonur LC31 Comms 83A-AK 445 x 472 x 87.4
Sep 16 0002 Inspiration4 Falcon 9 Kennedy LC39A Spaceship 84A S49220 570 x 579 x 51.6
Sep 20 0710 Tianzhou 3 Chang Zheng 7 Wenchang LC201 Cargo 85A S49222 199 x 325 x 41.5
Sep 27 0619 Jilin-1 Gaofen 02D Kuaizhou 1A Jiuquan Imaging 86A S49256 532 x 545 x 97.5
Sep 27 0820 Shiyan 10 Chang Zheng 3B Xichang LC3 Tech 87A S49258 177 x 40105 x 51.0
Sep 27 1812 Landsat 9 ) Atlas V 401 Vandenberg SLC3E Imaging 88A S49260 649 x 686 x 98.2
CUTE ) Astronomy 88D S49263 550 x 574 x 97.6
CuPID ) Astronomy 88E S49264 550 x 573 x 97.6
Cesium CS1) Tech 88B? S49261 551 x 581 x 97.6
Cesium CS2) Tech 88C? S49262 550 x 581 x 97.6
Oct 5 0855 Soyuz MS-19 Soyuz-2-1a Baykonur LC31 Spaceship 89A S49269 195 x 227 x 51.6
Oct 6 0920 Binar-1 ) ISS, LEO Tech 98067SR S49272 413 x 421 x 51.6
Maya-3 ) Tech 98067SS S49273 413 x 421 x 51.6
Maya-4 ) Tech 98067ST S49274 413 x 421 x 51.6
Oct 6 1055 CUAVA-1 ISS, LEO Tech 98067SU S49275 413 x 421 x 51.6
Oct 12 1100 CAPSat ISS, LEO Tech 98067SV S49276?
Oct 12 1230 SPACE HAUC) ISS, LEO Tech 98067SW S49277?
PR-CuNaR2 ) Tech 98067SX S49278?
Oct 14 0940 OneWeb SL0332 Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat Vostochniy PU1S Comms 90A-AM S49279 413 x 421 x 87.4
Oct 14 1051 Xihe (CHASE) ) Chang Zheng 2D Taiyuan Solar 91A S49315? 503 x 522 x 97.5
QX-1 ) Meteo 91B?
Tianshu-1 ) Tech? 91C?
JTSY ) Comms 91D?
HEAD-IIE ) Comms 91E?
Guidao Daqi Midu TSW) Sci 91F?
SSS-1 ) Tech 91G?
HEAD-IIF ) Comms 91H?
Tianyuan-1 ) Tech? 91J?
Zijinjing-2 ) Tech? 91K?
SSS-2A ) Tech 91L?
Table of Recent Suborbital Launches
Date UT Payload/Flt Name Launch Vehicle Site Mission Apogee/km Target
Sep 5 HE warhead Zulfiqar Sanaa? Weapon 150? Ras Al-Tanura
Sep 9 1725 EVE 8 Black Brant IX White Sands Solar EUV 293 White Sands
Sep 11 2207 HOT SHOT 4? Terrier Imp.Mal. Wallops I Tech 200? Atlantic
Sep 12 1730 BVT-03 GBI Vandenberg Test 300? Pacific
Sep 15 Hyunmoo-4-4 Hyunmoo-4-4 SS-088, Anhui Test 150? Pacific?
Sep 17 USN RVs Trident D-5 SSBN 742, ETR Test 1800? Atlantic
Sep 17 USN RVs Trident D-5 SSBN 742, ETR Test 1800? Atlantic
Oct 8 1740 CLASP 2.1 Black Brant IX White Sands Solar UV 272 White Sands
Oct 13 1449 NS-18 New Shepard West Texas Tourist 107 West Texas
| Jonathan McDowell | |
| Somerville MA 02143 | inter : planet4589 at gmail |
| USA | twitter: @planet4589 |
| JSR: https://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html |
| Back issues: https://www.planet4589.org/space/jsr/back |
| Subscribe/unsub: https://www.planet4589.org/mailman/listinfo/jsr |