Regular Features


Jonathan's Space Report No. 314

by Jonathan McDowell

[Ed. Note: Go to for back issues and other information about Jonathan's Space Report.]

Shuttle and Mir

P>Discovery completed its rendezvous with Hubble on Feb 13. Steve Hawley used the RMS arm to grapple HST at 0834 UTC and by shortly after 0900 UTC the telescope was docked to the FSS (Flight Support Structure) in the aft part of the cargo bay. On Feb 14 astronauts Mark Lee and Steven Smith carried out a spacewalk to install the STIS and NICMOS science instruments. After depressurizing the airlock to 5 psi, the spacewalk was postponed when escaping air caused the Hubble solar arrays to move. Depressurization was completed at around 0430 UTC. First, the GHRS spectrograph was removed from its axial bay on HST and parked on the ORUC carrier. Then, the STIS spectrograph was removed from its ORUC enclosure and placed inside HST. GHRS was placed in the empty enclosure for return to Earth. Now it was the turn of the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS, my personal favorite HST instrument which has generated loads of delicious data on the ultraviolet spectra and continua of quasars) to be retired. It was removed from its axial bay and parked, to be replaced by the NICMOS infrared camera/spectrograph brought up in the SAC carrier (used to carry up new solar panels on STS-61). Finally FOS was laid in the NICMOS enclosure on SAC for its journey home to honorable retirement. According to Bill Harwood's web page, the airlock close was at 1116 UTC, but I don't have the repressurization time.

HST's science compartment has radial bays, accessed from the side, and axial bays, accessed from the end. The radial bays contain three Fine Guidance Sensors, FGS-1 to FGS-3 (FGS-1 was replaced on this mission), and the WFPC-2 Wide Field and Planetary Camera, responsible for the majority of the pretty pictures you see. The axial bays, whose boundaries are rotated 45 degrees to the radial bays, contain the Faint Object Camera (FOC), which takes ultraviolet pictures, the COSTAR device which carries corrective lenses for FOC, and the new NICMOS and STIS. COSTAR also provided spectacles for GHRS and FOS, but NICMOS and STIS have their own corrective optics. FOS is the only one of the original science (non-FGS) instruments still aboard. The High Speed Photometer was replaced by COSTAR, and the original WFPC was replaced by WFPC-2.

   HST Instruments
Location      Launch    After STS-82   Carried up in        
--------      ------    ------------   -------------        
Radial +V2    FGS-1     FGS-1R         STS-82 ORUC FSIPE    
Radial -V3    FGS-2     FGS-2          STS-31R HST          
Radial -V2    FGS-3     FGS-3          STS-31R HST
Radial +V3    WFPC      WFPC-2         STS-61 ORUC SIPE
Axial +V3/+V2 FOC       FOC            STS-31R HST
Axial +V2/-V3 HSP       COSTAR         STS-61 ORUC SIPE
Axial -V3/-V2 GHRS      STIS           STS-82 ORUC SIPE
Axial -V2/+V3 FOS       NICMOS         STS-82 SAC SIPE

The spacewalkers have discovered potentially serious rips in Hubble's insulation, caused by degradation over the seven years the material has been in orbit. An orbital debris puncture in an antenna was also noticed.

Four more spacewalks have now been completed. EVA-2, by Greg Harbaugh and Joe Tanner, replaced the Fine Guidance Sensor in a 7h 26m spacewalk. EVA-3, by Lee and Smith, made a 7h 11m walk to install a new computer and data recorder. EVA-4 was 6h 34m and saw installation of new electronics and covers on the magnetometer sensors, plus initial repairs to the insulation. EVA-5 involved more insulation repairs; the astronauts then spent some time in the airlock awaiting word on whether an extra gyro replacement would be needed, before finally cleaning up the payload bay and repressurizing after a 5h 17m walk. (The times given are NASA's EVA times from when the spacesuits go on battery power until repressurization; I prefer to measure from depressurization to repressurization, which gives times about 5 minutes longer in each case).

The Hubble Space Telescope was released back into orbit at 0641 UTC on Feb 19. Discovery landed on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 0832 UTC on Feb 21.

Recent Launches

An 11K68 Tsiklon-3 rocket built by the Ukrainian Dnepropetrovsk company Yuzhnoe was launched from Plesetsk in Russia on Feb 14. The S5M third stage fired twice to enter a circular 1400 km orbit and deployed six small communications satellites built by NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. The names of the satellites are not yet confirmed but I am guessing that three are Kosmos military satellites in the Strela-3 system for the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense (MO RF) and three are development satellites for the Gonets civilian version of Strela-3, which is probably officially owned by the Russian Space Agency (RKA). The first satellite is in a 1413 x 1422 km x 82.6 deg orbit; orbits for the others are similar.

JCSAT 4 was launched by a Lockheed Martin Astronautics/Denver Atlas IIAS from Cape Canaveral on Feb 17. JCSAT 4 is a communications satellite owned by Japan Satellite Systems Inc (JSAT, Kabushiki-gaisha Nihon Sateraito Sisutemuzu). It is an HS-601 class satellite built by Hughes. The Atlas IIAS AC-127 Centaur second stage entered a low parking orbit and then reignited to place JCSAT-4 in a Super-GTO orbit of 221 x 94251 km x 23.5 deg. The HS-601's liquid apogee engine will change inclination to equatorial, then lower the apogee and raise perigee to achieve geostationary orbit. By Feb 20, it was in a 14339 x 94291 km x 6.5 deg orbit.

Galileo completed its orbit 6 Europa encounter on Feb 20. It flew 587 km from Europa. Its next orbit will take it past Ganymede on Apr 5. The Haruka satellite has now raised its perigee to 500 km.

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.

Jan 12 0928   Atlantis         Shuttle        Kennedy LC39B   Spaceship   01A
Jan 17 1628   GPS 42           Delta 7925     Canaveral LC17A Navsat      FTO
Jan 30 2204   GE 2     )       Ariane 44L     Kourou ELA2     Comsat      02A	
              Nahuel 1A)                                      Comsat      02B
Feb 10 1409   Soyuz TM-25      Soyuz-U        Baykonur LC1    Spaceship   03A
Feb 11 0855   Discovery STS-82 Shuttle        Kennedy LC39A   Spaceship   04A
Feb 12 0450   Haruka           M-V            Kagoshima       Astronomy   05A
Feb 14 0347   Kosmos-2337      Tsiklon-3      Plesetsk LC32/1 Comsat      06A
              Kosmos-2338                                     Comsat      06B
              Kosmos-2339                                     Comsat      06C
              Gonets-D1 No. 4                                 Comsat      06D
              Gonets-D1 No. 5                                 Comsat      06E
              Gonets-D1 No. 6                                 Comsat      06F
Feb 17 0142   JCSAT 4          Atlas IIAS     Canaveral LC36B Comsat      07A

Current Shuttle Processing Status

Orbiters               Location   Mission    Launch Due
OV-102 Columbia        OPF Bay 1     STS-83  Apr  3
OV-103 Discovery       RW15 KSC      STS-82  
OV-104 Atlantis        OPF Bay 3     STS-84  May 15
OV-105 Endeavour       Palmdale      OMDP
ML/SRB/ET/OV stacks                       
ML2/RSRM-60                 VAB Bay 3      STS-84
ML3/RSRM-59/ET-84           VAB Bay 1      STS-83

Space Calendar

by Ron Baalke

* indicates changes from last month's calendar
To see the full calendar, check out

March 1997

  Mar ?? - Feng Yun-2B Long March 4 Launch (China)
* Mar ?? - Iridium-2 Delta 2 Launch
* Mar 01 - Comet 1997 B1 Kobayashi at Perihelion (2.062 AU)
  Mar 01 - Asteroid 139 Juewa at Opposition (10.5 Magnitude)
  Mar 01 - 15th Anniversary (1982), Venera 13 Venus Flyby/Landing (USSR)
  Mar 02 - Mercury Passes 0.8 Degrees from Venus
  Mar 02 - Asteroid 16 Psyche at Opposition (10.3 Magnitude)
  Mar 02 - Asteroid 71 Niobe at Opposition (10.5 Magnitude)
* Mar 02-08 - Spaceweek
  Mar 03 - 25th Anniversary (1972), Pioneer 10 Launch (Jupiter/Saturn Flyby)
* Mar 04 - Comet Hale-Bopp Directly Above The Sun (1.04 AU)
* Mar 05 - Progress M-34 Launch (Russia)
  Mar 05 - Tempo-2 Atlas-2A Launch
  Mar 05 - 15th Anniversary (1982), Venera 14 Venus Flyby/Landing (USSR)
  Mar 07 - John Herschel's 205th Birthday (1792)
  Mar 09 - Solar Eclipse, Visible from Russia, Arctic
  Mar 09 - Comet Hale-Bopp Crosses Over Earth's Orbit
  Mar 10 - Asteroid 1990VA Near-Earth Flyby (0.2069 AU)
  Mar 10 - 20th Anniversary (1977), Discovery of Rings Around Uranus
  Mar 11 - Asteroid 6 Hebe at Opposition (9.6 Magnitude)
  Mar 11 - Asteroid 18 Melpomente at Opposition (10.1 Magnitude)
  Mar 13 - Galileo, Orbital Trim Maneuver #22 (OTM-22)
  Mar 13 - Summer Solstice on Mars
* Mar 14 - Minisat-01 Pegasus XL Launch
  Mar 14 - Comet Hale-Bopp Occults PPM 63645 (10.9 Magnitude Star)
* Mar 14 - Moon Occults Aldebaran
  Mar 14 - Comet Wirtanen Perihelion (1.065 AU)
  Mar 15 - Mars Pathfinder Passes Mars Global Surveyor En Route to Mars
  Mar 16 - 35th Anniversary (1962), Maiden Launch of the Titan 2 Rocket
  Mar 16 - 35th Anniversary (1962), 1st Cosmos Launch (USSR)
  Mar 17 - Mars at Opposition
* Mar 18 - Asteroid 1275 Cimbria Occults PPM 720568 (9.9 Magnitude Star)
* Mar 20 - Mars Global Surveyor, Trajectory Correction Maneuver #2 (TCM-2)
  Mar 20 - Comet Schwasmann-Wachmann 2 Near-Jupiter Flyby (0.2461 AU)
  Mar 20 - Vernal Equinox, 13:55 UT
  Mar 20 - Mercury Passes 1.9 Degrees From Saturn
* Mar 21 - Asteroid 377 Campania Occults SAO 138801 (8.4 Magnitude Star)
  Mar 22 - Comet Hale-Bopp Closest Approach to Earth (1.315 AU)
  Mar 22 - India's Year 1919 Begins
  Mar 22 - 15th Anniversary (1982), STS-3 Launch (Columbia)
* Mar 23 - Asteroid 732 Tjilaki Occults PPM 232217 (9.3 Magnitude Star)
* Mar 23 - Wernher Von Braun's 85th Birthday (1912)
  Mar 24 - Partial Lunar Eclipse
  Mar 26 - Comet Helin-Roman-Alu 1 Perihelion  (3.715 AU)
  Mar 27 - 25th Anniversary (1972), Venera 8 Launch (Venus Lander) 
  Mar 28 - 195th Anniversary (1802), Wilhelm Olber's Discovery of the 2nd Asteroid, Pallas
  Mar 29 - 190th Anniversary (1807), Wilhelm Olber's Discovery of Asteroid 4 Vesta
  Mar 31 - Galileo, Orbital Trim Maneuver #23 (OTM-23)
  Mar 31 - Venus Passes 0.9 Degrees from Saturn
  Mar 31 - 10th Anniversary (1987), Kvant Launch, Astrophysics Observatory Module Added
           To Mir

April 1997

* Apr ?? - SWAS Pegasus XL Launch
* Apr ?? - Iridium-1 Delta 2 Launch
  Apr ?? - Iridium-3 Launch
  Apr ?? - Apstar-2R Long March Launch
  Apr ?? - Tempo-1 Proton Launch
  Apr ?? - Early Bird Cosmos Launch (USA/Russia)
* Apr ?? - Lewis LMLV-1 Launch
  Apr 01 - Comet Hale-Bopp Perihelion (0.914 AU)
* Apr 01 - Venus at Opposition
* Apr 02 - DMSP Titan 2 Launch
  Apr 02 - Asteroid 306 Unitas Occults PPM 721049 (9.5 Magnitude Star)
  Apr 03 - STS-83 Launch, Columbia, Materials Science Lab-1 (MSL-1)
  Apr 04 - Galileo, Europa Observations (Orbit 7)
* Apr 04 - Thaicom-3/BSAT-1A Ariane 4 Launch (ESA/Japan)
  Apr 05 - Galileo, 3rd Ganymede Flyby (Orbit 7)
  Apr 05 - Mercury At Its Greatest Eastern Elongation (19 Degrees)
  Apr 06 - Daylight Savings, Set Clock Ahead 1 Hour (North America)
  Apr 07 - Galileo, Orbital Trim Maneuver #24 (OTM-24)
  Apr 07 - Moon Occults Saturn
  Apr 07 - Moon Occults Venus
  Apr 07 - Asteroid 14 Irene Occults 13.6 Magnitude Star
  Apr 10 - Moon Occults Aldebaran
  Apr 11 - Asteroid 7 Iris at Opposition (9.5 Magnitude)
  Apr 12 - International Astronomy Day
  Apr 15 - Asteroid 13 Egeria Occults 11.8 Magnitude Star
  Apr 15 - Asteroid 29 Amphitrite at Opposition (9.2 Magnitude)
  Apr 15 - Wilbur Wright's 130th Birthday (1867)
  Apr 16 - Asteroid 13 Egeria at Opposition (10.0 Magnitude)
  Apr 16 - Asteroid 324 Bamberga Occults SAO 79765 (9.3 Magnitude Star)
  Apr 16 - 25th Anniversary (1972), Apollo 16 Launch (Manned Moon Landing)
  Apr 17 - Comet Boethin Perihelion (1.158 AU)
  Apr 17 - 30th Anniversary (1967), Surveyor 3 Launch (Moon Lander)
  Apr 18 - Asteroid 139 Juewa Occults PPM 127356 (9.4 Magnitude Star)
  Apr 19 - Goldstone Open House, Near Barstow, California
  Apr 19 - 15th Anniversary (1982), Salyut 7 Space Station Launch (USSR)
  Apr 20 - Lyrids Meteor Shower Peak
* Apr 20 - Comet 1997 C1 Gehrels Perihelion (2.1705 AU)
  Apr 21 - Galileo, Orbital Trim Maneuver #25 (OTM-25)
  Apr 21 - Mars Global Surveyor, Trajectory Correction Maneuver #3 (TCM-3)
  Apr 22 - Mercury Passes 2.7 Degrees from Venus
  Apr 24 - GOES-K Atlas Launch
  Apr 24 - 30th Anniversary (1967), Soyuz 1 Accident, Cosmonaut Killed
  Apr 25 - Asteroid 13 Egeria Occults 10.2 Magnitude Star
  Apr 26 - 35th Anniversary (1962), Ariel 1 Launch (1st United Kingdom
  Apr 26 - 30th Anniversary (1967), San Marco 2 Launch (1st Equatorial
* Apr 29 - Panamsat-6 Ariane 4 Launch
  Apr 29 - Asteroid 139 Juewa Occults PPM 127386 (7.5 Magnitude Star)

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