SPACEWARN Bulletin Number 531

01 February 1998
A publication of NASA's National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center-A for Rockets and Satellites as the WWAS for ISES/COSPAR

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 01 January 1998 and 31 January 1998.

A. List of New International Designations and Launch Dates.

USSPACECOM Catalog numbers are in parentheses.
          1998-005A (25148) CAPRICORN (USA 137?) 29 Jan
          1998-004A (25146) Soyuz TM-27          29 Jan
          1998-003A (25143) STS 89               23 Jan
          1998-002A (25134) SKYNET 4D            10 Jan
          1998-001A (25131) Lunar Prospector     07 Jan

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

CAPRICORN is an American military photo/radar imaging spacecraft that was launched by an Atlas 2A rocket from Cape Canaveral at 18:37 UT. It is built, owned and operated by the National Reconnoissance Office (NRO). The alternative name, "USA 137" remains to be confirmed. It is likely that the initial apogee of about 38,400 km will be at a high northern latitude, and the perigee of 320 km will be over the Antarctica.

Soyuz TM-27 is a Russian transportation spacecraft that was launched from Baikonur at 16:33 UT to dock with Mir. The 7,000 kg spacecraft carried three cosmonauts and food supplies to the Mir. Initial orbital parameters were period 88.6 min, apogee 202 km, perigee 198 km, and inclination 51.5 deg.

STS 89 is an American shuttle spacecraft that was launched from Cape Canaveral at 02:48 UT to reach and dock with Mir to deliver a new American astronaut for endurance and experience in Mir and to bring back an earlier American astronaut after his four months of stay. It also carried 1,500 kg of supplies and docked at 20:14 UT on 24 January. STS 89 also carried resources for some microgravity experiments with names like Closed Equilibrated Biological Aquatic System (CEBAS), Microgravity Plant Nutrient Experiment (MPNE), and Interferometer Protein Crystal Growth (IPCG). For more details, see It undocked from Mir at 16:56 UT on 29 January and returned to Cape Canaveral at 22:38 UT on 31 January. Initial orbital parameters were period 92.2 min, apogee 385 km, perigee 379 km, and inclination 51.7 deg.

SKYNET 4D is a British military geosynchronous communications spacecraft that was launched by a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station at 00:32 UT. The 1,150 kg spacecraft is the first in the new series that is expected to replace the aging 1988-era series. The parking longitude is expected to be in western Europe.

Lunar Prospector is an American planetology spacecraft that was launched from Cape Canaveral by a Delta 2 rocket at 02:29 UT. It reached the Lunar vicinity after 105 hours of cruising to orbit the Moon at a nominal altitude of about 100 km from the surface with a period of 118 min. The altitude may be maneuvered to be as low as 9 km. The 65 kg spacecraft carries a gamma ray spectrometer, a magnetometer, an electron reflectometer, a neutron spectrometer, and an alpha particle spectrometer to probe the surface composition of the Moon for about a year. Of particular interest to NASA is whether there is any ice under the polar caps; the neutron spectrometer will help to determine this. More details of the instruments and mission are available at

C. Spacecraft Particularly Suited for International Participation

Category I
  1. Spacecraft with essentially continuous radio beacons on frequencies less than 150 MHz, or higher frequencies if especially suited for ionospheric or geodetic studies.

    The last full list appeared as a part of SPX 520. The list will reappear only after major updates to the list are available.

    METEOSAT 3 in that list is no longer operational.

  2. Global Positioning System satellites useful for navigational purposes and geodetic studies. ("NNN" denotes no national name. SPACEWARN would appreciate suggestions to update this list. An asterisk [*] denotes changes in this issue.)

    High precision (<20 cm) GPS constellation tracking data obtained from the network of about 80 dedicated global stations that are of interest to geodetic study may be obtained through the following services provided by the International Association of Geodesy (IGS)

         FTP:  [directory /igscb]

    The standard format of the GPS situation appeared in SPX-518. It will not be repeated since an excellent source of trajectory- and science-related GPS information is at It provides many links to GPS related databases. The latest member of the GPS fleet is NAVSTAR 38 (1997-067A), launched on 6 November 1997.

    The latest member of the GPS fleet is NAVSTAR 38 (1997-067A), launched on 6 November 1997.

  3. Russian Global Navigational (Positioning) Spacecraft, GLONASS constellation. (SPACEWARN requests updates/additions from readers to this list. Entries marked "*" are updates or additions to the list.)

    All GLONASS spacecraft are in the general COSMOS series. The COSMOS numbers (nnnn) invoked by USSPACECOM have often differed from the numbers (NNNN) associated in Russia; when different, the USSPACECOM COSMOS numbers are shown in parentheses. The corresponding GLONASS numbers are Russian numbers, followed by the numbers in parentheses that are sometimes attributed to them outside Russia.

    The operating frequencies in MHz are computed from the channel number K. Frequencies (MHz) = 1602.0 + 0.5625K and L2 = 1246.0 + 0.4375K.

    The standard format of the GLONASS situation appeared in SPX-515. It will not be repeated in view of the excellent updated source at: maintained by the Coordinational Scientific Information Center (CSIC),Russian Space Forces.

  4. Actual decays/landings of payload spacecraft and rocket bodies (R/B) only. Additional information is not available.
    Designations       Common Name                         1998
    1998-003A (25143) STS 89         Landed on            31 Jan
    1997-077C (25079) R/B LONG MARCH 2/3                  20 Jan
    1996-008B (23785) R/B DELTA 2                         17 Jan
    1998-001B (25132) R/B DELTA 2                         07 Jan
    1997-048C (24927) R/B LONG MARCH 3                    06 Jan
    1997-035B (24877) R/B DELTA 2                         02 Jan
    1997-086B (25127) R/B PROTON-K                        27 Dec 1997

  5. Miscellaneous Items. (This section contains information/data that are entered on occasion and may not be repeated in each issue of the SPACEWARN Bulletin.)

    Erratum. In SPX 528, Section B it was reported that STEP-1, STEP-2, and STEP-3 were launch failures. TRW Inc. has now reported that STEP-2 launch was not a failure, and that it had been operational during its planned life time.

    Erratum. Due to an error during editing, the spacecraft names and numbers were misaligned by one line in the hardcopy version of the SPX 529. The on-line versions carry the correct list.

    India purchased ARABSAT 1C from that consortium and moved it to the parking longitude of 55 deg-E; it was then renamed INSAT 2DT and became operational to carry out the relays in place of INSAT 2D, which became inoperational about two months ago. INSAT 2DT carries 25 C-band transponders and one S-band transponder.

    NSSDC/WDC-A-R&S is an archival center for science data from many spacecraft. Some data are on line for electronic access. Please contact the NSSDC Request Coordination Office, Code 633, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, U.S.A., for specific information ( Information on the current status of the instruments on board from the investigators will be most welcomed. Precomputed trajectory files and orbital parameters of many magnetospheric and heliospheric science-payload spacecraft may be FTP'ed from NSSDC's ANON_DIR:[000000.ACTIVE] and its several subdirectories. (See About the SPACEWARN Bulletin for access method; a file in the ACTIVE directory named AAREADME.DOC, outlines the contents.) It can also be accessed via the WWW at:

    This URL also enables executing several codes related to the orbits of many geocentric science payload spacecraft. The codes related to the heliospheric spacecraft trjectories can be executed through:

    Magnetospheric, Planetary, and Astronomical science data from many spacecraft may be accessed through links from the URL:

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Questions/comments about the content of these pages should be directed to:
The World Warning Agency for Satellites,
National Space Science Data Center, Mail Code 633
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

Page Curator:
Dr. Edwin V. Bell, II,, +1-301-286-1187
NSSDC, Mail Code 633, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: J. H. King,
V1.0, 01 February 1998
Last updated: 03 April 1998, EVB II