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A monthly publication of the National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information
No. 638
01 January 2007

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 01 December 2006 and 31 December 2006.

A. List of New International Designations and Launch Dates (UTC).

    INT.ID    CAT. #      NAME                   DATE (UT)
   2006-063A    29678     COROT                 27 December 2006
   2006-062C    29672     Cosmos NNNC           25 December 2006
   2006-062B    29671     Cosmos NNNB           25 December 2006
   2006-062A    29670     Cosmos NNNA           25 December 2006
   2006-061A    29668     Meridian              24 December 2006
   2006-060A    29658     Sar Lupe 1            19 December 2006
   2006-059A    29656     Kiku 8                18 December 2006
   2006-058B    29654     GeneSat 1             16 December 2006
   2006-058A    29653     TacSat 2              16 December 2006
   2006-057A    29651     USA 193               14 December 2006
   2006-056A    29648     MEASat 3              11 December 2006
   2006-055A    29647     STS 116               11 December 2006
   2006-054B    29644     AMC 18                08 December 2006
   2006-054A    29643     WildBlue 1            08 December 2006
   2006-053A    29640     Fengyun 2D            08 December 2006

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

COROT is a French astronomical satellite, with major participation by ESA and other European astronomers, that was launched by a Soyuz 2 rocket from Baikonur at 14:23 UT on 27 December 2006. The 650 kg craft carries a 27 cm aperture telescope to scan the optical brightness of about 100,000 stars in the Galaxy. Every 512 seconds it will monitor about 10,000 stars through a set of four CCD arrays in the focal plane. Every 150 days, it will aim at a different field of view, to complete the mission in 2.5 years. The brightness of a star will drop by one percent or less when a planet transits in front of it. Another cause of brightness variation is stellar, acoustic seismic waves that culminate in patches of dimness/brightness on the photosphere due to standing waves. The COROT mission is believed to provide enough information so that a future such mission can distinguish the rocky (and potentially life-sustaining) planets among them. COROT is reported to be an acronym for COnvection ROtation and planetary Transit. The Project Scientist is Malcolm Fridlund of ESA. The initial orbital parameters were period 103 min, apogee 884 km, perigee 872 km, and inclination 90°.
2006-062A, 2006-062B, 2006-062C
Cosmos NNNA, Cosmos NNNB, and Cosmos NNNC are three navigational satellites in the Russian Glonass fleet that were launched by a Proton-K rocket from Baikonur at 20:18 UT on 25 December 2006. Until this launch the fleet consisted of 11 operational craft plus five that were often switched off. The full operational fleet of 24 craft is expected to be completed by 2009 with Cosmos-K models, developed with participation of the Indian Space Agency, ISRO. Though an 18-craft fleet is sufficient for operation in Russia, a fleet of 24 is needed for global coverage. The initial orbital parameters of the three were similar: period 674 min, apogee 19,037 km, perigee 19,020 km, and inclination 64.8°. (The usual Cosmos numbers and Glonass numbers remain unascertained.)
Meridian is a Russian communications satellite that was launched by a Soyuz-2 booster from Plesetsk at 08:34 UT on 24 December 2006. It will provide links between aircraft and ships in the North Sea area to coastal stations, as well as between locations in Siberia and the Russian Far East. The initial orbital parameters were period 727 min, apogee 39,670 km, perigee 979 km, and inclination 62.8°.
Sar Lupe 1 is a German military satellite that was launched by a Cosmos-3M rocket from Plesetsk at 14:00 UT on 19 December 2006. The 720 kg (dry mass) craft carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for providing all-weather, one-meter resolution images anywhere in the world. The mission is a German contribution to the joint Franco-German undertaking for mutual exchange of reconnaissance information. The initial orbital parameters were period 94 min, apogee 506 km, perigee 467 km, and inclination 98.2°.
Kiku 8, also known by its prelaunch name of ETS 8, is a Japanese geostationary, engineering test satellite that was launched by a H-2A rocket from Tanegashima Space Center at 06:32 UT on 18 December 2006. The 5.8 tonne (with fuel) craft carries solar panels and a pair of large wire-mesh antennas, one for transmitting and the other for receiving. The two 28 m x 25 m antennas will enable hand-held phones to communicate with another in S-band, after parking over 146° E longitude.
GeneSat 1 is an American (NASA-Ames) nanosatellite that was launched by a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island in Virginia at 12:00 UT on 16 December 2006. The 10 kg craft carries E. Coli bacteria to monitor the effect of space radiation by protein-sensing optical instruments. After a few days of this "Astrobionics" experiment, the craft will be turned over to the students in California to track it. The initial orbital parameters were period 92.9 min, apogee 420 km, perigee 413 km, and inclination 40°.
TacSat 2 is an American military (AFRL) minisatellite that was launched by a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island in Virginia at 12:00 UT on 16 December 2006. The 375 kg, 550 W satellite carries a 50 cm aperture telescope to provide images of any selected spot on Earth, as demanded by troop commanders in battle fields, in three visible wavelength bands. It is housed on a 3-axis stabilized platform with a pointing accuracy of 0.15°. The images will be down-loaded over the China Lake facility in California. The spacecraft also carries several technology validation experiments. Initial orbital parameters were period 92.9 min, apogee 424 km, perigee 413 km, and inclination 40°.
USA 193 is an American military satellite that was launched from Vandenberg AFB at 21:00 UT on 14 December 2006. It is a highly classified spacecraft, owned and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). No further details are available.
MEASat 3 is a Malaysian geostationary communications spacecraft that was launched by a Proton-M rocket from Baikonur at 11:30 UT on 11 December 2006. The 4.9 tonne (with fuel), 10.8 kW craft carries 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders to provide direct-to-home reception of voice, video and internet services to about 100 countries between 50° E and 150° E, on either side of the equator after parking over 91.5° E longitude.
STS 116 is an American (NASA) shuttle spacecraft that was launched from Cape Canaveral at 01:47 UT on 10 December 2006. It carried a crew of seven (five Americans and two Europeans) to the International Space Station (ISS) to do some major repairs and installations. It docked with the ISS on 11 December. The crew disconnected the power lines leading to what has been a temporary source (since 1998) and connected them to the recently installed solar panels. The crew overcame problems in rolling back the older panels after three spacewalks, totaling several hours. They also made a spacewalk to install a two-tonne truss (P5) to enable additions to the station. The 13-day mission ended when the shuttle landed back in Cape Canaveral at 22:32 UT on 22 December. One of the seven members of the crew stayed on the ISS, replacing another astronaut who had stayed there for six months. The initial orbital parameters were period 91 min, apogee 338 km, perigee 315 km, and inclination 51.7°.
AMC 18 is an American geostationary communications spacecraft that was launched by an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from Kourou at 22:08 UT on 08 December 2006. The 2.1 kg craft carries 24 C-band transponders to provide voice, video and internet services to Canada, America, Mexico and Caribbean countries after parking over 105° W longitude.
WildBlue 1 is an American geostationary communications spacecraft that was launched by an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from Kourou at 22:08 UT on 08 December 2006. The 4.7 tonne (with fuel) craft carries several Ka-band transponders and spot-beams to provide high-speed internet connectivity in all states of America after parking over 111° W longitude.
Fengyun 2D is Chinese (PRC) geostationary weather satellite that was launched by a Long March 3A rocket at 16:53 UT on 08 December 2006. The 1.4 tonne craft will provide images of cloud conditions, typhoons and storms every half an hour, and data to infer sea temperatures and winds after parking over 86.5° E longitude.

C. Spacecraft Particularly Suited for International Participation

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

NNSS denotes U.S. Navy Navigational Satellite System. Updates or corrections to the list are possible only with information from the user community.

Note: The full list appeared in SPX 545. The list will not be repeated in future issues until significantly revised again.

Global Positioning System satellites useful for navigational purposes and geodetic studies.

High precision (<20 cm) GPS constellation tracking data obtained from the network of about 400 dedicated global stations that are of interest to geodetic study may be obtained through the following services provided by the International GNSS Service (IGS). The IGS is a service of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG).

     FTP:  [directory /igscb]

The standard format of the GPS situation appeared in SPACEWARN Bulletin No. 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 addition to the fleet is Navstar 59, 2006-052A.

Russian Global Navigational (Positioning) Spacecraft, GLONASS constellation.

SPACEWARN requests updates/additions from readers to this list.

All GLONASS spacecraft are in the general Cosmos series. The Cosmos numbers 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 last appeared in SPACEWARN Bulletin No. 545. It will not be repeated in view of the excellent updated source at: maintained by the Information-Analytical Center (IAC), Russian Space Agency.

Visually bright objects.

See Users must register. Conditions apply.

Actual decays/landings of payload spacecraft and rocket bodies (R/B) only. No further information is available.

Designations         Common Name                  Decay Date (2006)

1992-003D (21850)   R/B Molniya                      13 December

60-day Decay Predictions.

See Users must register for access. Conditions apply

Miscellaneous Items.

This section contains information or data that are entered on occasion and may not be repeated in each issue of the SPACEWARN Bulletin.

Related NSSDC resources.

NSSDC/WDC for Satellite Information is an archival center for science data from many spacecraft. Many space physics datasets are on-line for electronic access through:

For off-line data, please contact the Request Office, NSSDC, Code 690.1, 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 obtained from:

Other files of interest for Earth-centered spacecraft can be generated via the URL,

Programs related to the heliospheric spacecraft trajectories can be executed through the URL:

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

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