Russian inspection satellite reached first object

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New experimental Russian satellite designed for inspecting spacecrafts remaining on their orbits performed first successful inspection.

Satellite was launched inside special container installed at Kosmos-2519 satellite launched from from Pad 4 at Site 43 at Plesetsk Cosmodrome on June, 23 2017. Satellite was delivered on the top of the Soyuz 2-1v  rocket to 800 km orbit. According to various sources Kosmos-2519 was designed as geodetic satellite for military purposes. Now it is quite sure that inspite of taking measurements and pictures, satellite also had number of different tasks.

Russian Ministry of Defense announced on August 23, 2017, that Kosmos-2519 successfully deployed from special container nanosatellite “Inspector”. It is probably fourth experimental vehicle preceded by another satellites deployed from  Kosmos-2491, Kosmos-2499 and Kosmos-2504 satellites. It was at least partially confirmed as different tracking stations spotted that Kosmos-2519 synchronized its orbit with  Kosmos-2486 reconnaissance satellite which was launched on June 7, 2013.

Inspector satellite is probably equipped with number of sensors and cameras to take measurements and pictures and send them to ground control station. Such data could help in evaluating source of problems with spacecraft or get data necessary for estimating condition of the observed satellite.

Official announcement has not covered more details of the approach or any information regarding results of the experiment. Also it is not clear what exactly task for Inspector was or how it influence on mission of Kosmos-2486.

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SES returns to space with refurbished SpaceX’s booster

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SES returns to space with refurbished SpaceX’s booster

One of the main Spacex’s Customers, Luxembourg based SES satellite operator, decided to contract next mission scheduled for Falcon-9 rocket with refurbished booster. 

After success of the SES-10 mission which also involved Falcon-9 with refurbished first stage, SES decided to purchase another Falcon-9 with already used booster.

The SES-10 satellite was launched on the top of the first reused Falcon-9 rocket March 30 from Kennedy Space Center; second satellite which reached space using refurbished Falcon-9 was BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite  launched on the top of the June 23 this year.

Weighing 5400 kg SES-11 satellite will probably delivered to orbit on the top of the Falcon-9 rocket with booster used once during Dragon automatic cargo spacecraft launched this year on February 19. It landed during vertical touchdown at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SES-11 will be launched this year, but probably not earlier than September 27, 2017.

Satellite was based on Eurostar-3000 satellite bus and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space. It will operate from GEO orbit for at least 15 years covering with its  24 Ku-band transponders and 24 C-band transponders area covered now by  AMC-15 satellite operating at 105° West.

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TDRS-M launch date is in question

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TDRS-M launch date is in question

Launch of the latest NASA data relay satellite TDRS-M probably will be delayed. Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, manufactured by Boeing, suffered for serious damage during last preparations before encapsulation last Friday. 

Launch was planned originally for 3rd August 2017 and was contracted for United Launch Alliance. ULA decided to use their proven Atlas V rocket and launch weighing over 3450 kg satellite from  SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral. Company planned to use Atlas V in 401 configuration with no boosters, 4 m wide payload fairing and single RL-10 engine installed at Centaur upper stage. Satellite built on Boeing BSS-601HP satellite bus was designed to improve communication between ground control stations, International Space Station and various NASA satellites.

On June 23 satellite was delivered from Boeing’s factory to the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville. Satellite passed last tests and should be fueled with propellant and to be moved later to SLC-41 for encapsulation. On July 13, satellite was showed to the audience before final assembly and fueling. Unfortunately on July 14 during standard closeout activities one from antennas (Omni-S antenna) of the satellite was seriously damaged.  Incident was officially confirmed by NASA but no further details on launch date change were given in the statement.

Omni-S antennas are installed on the bottom of the satellite and are facing to Earth. Their task is to send to Earth telemetry data, tracking and receive commands from ground control centers. Omni-S are one of the smallest from set of different antennas at TDRS-M.

TDRS-M represents third generation of data relay satellites launched by NASA since 1983. It is thirteenth TDRS satellite launched by NASA and third designed and manufactured only by Boeing (previous were result of cooperation between Hughes and Boeing and first seven were designed and manufactured by TRW).

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Counting days to Soyuz MS-05 mission

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Counting days to Soyuz MS-05 mission

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky and NASA astronaut Randolph Bresnik were officially accepted as crew for Soyuz MS-05. 

According to TASS Russian inter-departmental commission accepted today ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli (third flight to ISS), Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky and NASA astronaut Randolph Bresnik (both will fly to ISS for the second time in their career) as primary crew for Soyuz MS-05. Sergey Ryazansky was selected as commander of the mission, Paolo Nespoli was chosen as first flight engineer, Randolph Bresnik will take place of second flight engineer.

As backup crew Commission accepted Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos (commander) and  Mark Vande Hei (NASA – first flight engineer) and Norishige Kanai of JAXA (second flight engineer).

Launch of the Soyuz rocket with MS-05 vehicle is planned for 28th July 2017 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Launch Site 1/5. The day before flight Russian state commission will finally approve primary crew – both crews will spend last days before flight at hotel for crew members Baikonur Cosmodrome. Members of both crews will go through identical training at Baikonur and wait for final decision of State Commission.

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Counting days to Soyuz MS-05 mission

The article from SpaceFlights.NEWS

Counting days to Soyuz MS-05 mission

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky and NASA astronaut Randolph Bresnik were officially accepted as crew for Soyuz MS-05. 

According to TASS Russian inter-departmental commission accepted today ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli (third flight to ISS), Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky and NASA astronaut Randolph Bresnik (both will fly to ISS for the second time in their career) as primary crew for Soyuz MS-05. Sergey Ryazansky was selected as commander of the mission, Paolo Nespoli was chosen as first flight engineer, Randolph Bresnik will take place of second flight engineer.

As backup crew Commission accepted Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos (commander) and  Mark Vande Hei (NASA – first flight engineer) and Norishige Kanai of JAXA (second flight engineer).

Launch of the Soyuz rocket with MS-05 vehicle is planned for 28th July 2017 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Launch Site 1/5. The day before flight Russian state commission will finally approve primary crew – both crews will spend last days before flight at hotel for crew members Baikonur Cosmodrome. Members of both crews will go through identical training at Baikonur and wait for final decision of State Commission.

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XARM accepted by NASA and JAXA

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XARM accepted by NASA and JAXA

Both agencies which were involved in the project of Hitomi (Astro-H) satellite decided to create replacement for one of the most advanced  X-ray astronomy satellite in recent years. To remind, mission of the Hitomi finished with disaster of the satellite few weeks after launch.

Problems with Astro-H (Hitomi) satellite started few weeks after launch from  Tanegashima Space Center, Japan at 17 February 2016 on the top of the H-IIA rocket. On March 27, 2016, satellite with one of the most advanced instruments for observing space in X ray, falled apart to few pieces after exceeding spinning speed. Disaster was beginning of the investigation. It showed that falling apart was caused by Attitude Control System and it was possible to be avoided in the phase of design of the Hitomi by JAXA. In spite of the fact, that investigation pointed, that disaster of the Astro-H was fault of JAXA, NASA still was interested in creating next X ray telescope and sending it together with JAXA to space.

According to JAXA the X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission (XARM) will be smaller comparing to Hitomi and equipped with less advanced instruments. Still most crucial the Soft X-ray Imager and the Soft X-ray Spectrometer will be made using parts provided by NASA. It will be also able to observe space through less wide angle of view. This means that profile of the mission will not be identical comparing to Hitomi’s mission plan, still participation of the NASA will not be changed – most important instruments will be provided thanks to the NASA.

One of the most important difference between XARM and Hitomi is lack of Hard X Ray telescope and extending boom in the front of the satellite. This will make construction of the satellite simpler and less expensive comparing to Hitomi, which cost exceeded $273 million.

JAXA claims, that it is possible to launch XARM in 2021. NASA agreed to provide X ray telescope and spectrometer for XARM and still keep JAXA as supervisor of the project. Project already started in April, in Japanese 2017 fiscal year.

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Long March 3B failed, Chinasat-9A remains on lower orbit

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Long March 3B failed, Chinasat-9A remains on lower orbit

Long March 3b suffered for some kind of problems during last launch.

CNSA admitted on Monday that their latest satellite launched on the top of the Long March 3B rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on June 18, 2017, remains on lower orbit that it was previously planned. It was officially confirmed that satellite was delivered to space and it is working, but CNSA did not provide any details regarding orbital position, reasons of failed launch or information about condition of the satellite.

It is worth to remind that in case when problems appear during start of the rocket they are quite easy to spot; as they appear during last phase, it is pretty hard as it is necessary to rely only on telemetry data. Problems with Long March 3B were not reported directly after launch, so it is more possible that anomaly appeared when third cryogenic stage should perform its two burns. CNSA is forced to analyze telemetry data second after second since first burn which should deliver satellite to 190 km parking orbit until second burn, which should push spacecraft into GTO orbit with apogee at 35000 km and perigee at 190 km – 200 km with 25-27 degree inclination. Official announcement given yesterday omit also present orbit parameters of Chinasat-9A. According to Joint Space Operations Center satellite is at 193 km x 16,357 Kilometers, 25.68° orbit which is clearly over a half lower that it should be. Satellite probably could be ordered to use own propulsion to reach designated GTO orbit and later GEO orbital slot, but even if amount of fuel will be sufficient for such journey, it is not possible to keep satellite on correct orbit for following years, as most of the propellant would be used for orbit rising. It is possible that CNSA will decide to try to rise orbit in following months, but it is also highly possible, that satellite will be simply decommissioned. CNSA still has not announced officially any details regarding future plans for Chinasat-9A and claims, that is analyzing situation and will give additional statement in the nearest future.

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Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday

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Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday

SpaceX decided to postpone launch of Falcon-9 with Bulgariasat-1 communications satellite from today to at least Friday, 23rd June.

Official statement was given yesterday – SpaceX decided to move back for four days launch of first Bulgarian  GEO communications satellite which was planned for today from LC-39 launch site at Kennedy Space Center.

Official reason listed in statement was problem with one of the pneumatic valves inside payload fairing, which turned out to be broken and it was necessary to replace it in hangar. This means that after installing Bulgariasat-1 on the top of the Falcon-9, rocket will return again to technicians to swap failed valve.

First possible launch date was set on Friday 23rd June with lasting 2 hours window starting at 18:10 UTC. Backup date was set on Sunday, 25th June.

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Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday

The article from SpaceFlights.NEWS

Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday

SpaceX decided to postpone launch of Falcon-9 with Bulgariasat-1 communications satellite from today to at least Friday, 23rd June.

Official statement was given yesterday – SpaceX decided to move back for four days launch of first Bulgarian  GEO communications satellite which was planned for today from LC-39 launch site at Kennedy Space Center.

Official reason listed in statement was problem with one of the pneumatic valves inside payload fairing, which turned out to be broken and it was necessary to replace it in hangar. This means that after installing Bulgariasat-1 on the top of the Falcon-9, rocket will return again to technicians to swap failed valve.

First possible launch date was set on Friday 23rd June with lasting 2 hours window starting at 18:10 UTC. Backup date was set on Sunday, 25th June.

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Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday

The article from SpaceFlights.NEWS

Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday

SpaceX decided to postpone launch of Falcon-9 with Bulgariasat-1 communications satellite from today to at least Friday, 23rd June.

Official statement was given yesterday – SpaceX decided to move back for four days launch of first Bulgarian  GEO communications satellite which was planned for today from LC-39 launch site at Kennedy Space Center.

Official reason listed in statement was problem with one of the pneumatic valves inside payload fairing, which turned out to be broken and it was necessary to replace it in hangar. This means that after installing Bulgariasat-1 on the top of the Falcon-9, rocket will return again to technicians to swap failed valve.

First possible launch date was set on Friday 23rd June with lasting 2 hours window starting at 18:10 UTC. Backup date was set on Sunday, 25th June.

Read more at Bulgariasat-1 postponed to Friday