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A monthly publication of the National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information
No. 656
01 July 2008

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 01 June 2008 and 30 June 2008.

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

International ID
Catalog Number
Spacecraft Name Launch Date (UT)
2008-033A 33108 Cosmos 2440 27 June 2008
2008-032A 33105 Jason 2 20 June 2008
2008-031F 33065 Orbcomm 19 June 2008
2008-031E 33064 Orbcomm 19 June 2008
2008-031D 33063 Orbcomm 19 June 2008
2008-031C 33062 Orbcomm 19 June 2008
2008-031B 33061 Orbcomm 19 June 2008
2008-031A 33060 Orbcomm 19 June 2008
2008-030B 33056 Turksat 3A 12 June 2008
2008-030A 33055 Skynet 5C 12 June 2008
2008-029A 33053 GLAST 11 June 2008
2008-028A 33051 Zhongxing 9 09 June 2008

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

Cosmos 2440 is a Russian military, geostationary, early warning craft that was launched by a Proton-K/DM-2 rocket from Baikonur on 27 June 2008.
Jason 2 is a French-American ocean monitoring satellite that was launched by a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg AFB at 07:46 UT on 20 June 2008. The 510 kg, 500 W craft carries instruments to enable derivation of sea surface levels with an accuracy of 2.5 cm. It is a cooperative mission involving the French CNES, the European EUMETSAT, and the American NOAA and NASA.
Altimeter is a radar sounder operating at two frequencies, 5.3 and 13.6 GHz, and provides the surface-to-satellite distance. The use of dual-frequency helps to eliminate the extra delay caused by the free electrons in the ionosphere.
AMR is the Advanced Microwave Radiometer that receives thermal radiation at three frequencies, 18, 21, and 37 GHZ from atmospheric water vapor which is another source of delay in the altimeter measurements. It is easy to correct for this delay with the measured water vapor content.
DORIS (Determination d'Orbite et Radiopositionement Integre par Satellite) helps in orbit propagation by measuring the satellites. Ground-based beacons transmit at two frequencies, 401.25 and 2,036.25 MHz, which are received by the satellite. The received doppler-shifted, frequencies provide the velocity of the satellite required for orbit propagation.
LRA is a Laser Retroreflector Array and provides a target for laser ranging. It is a reflector on-board Jason 2 (and many other satellites) for altitude determination under the ILRS (International Laser Ranging Service) program. The reflector consists of nine quartz surfaces.
Also used by Jason 2 is the orbit determination by means of continuous monitoring of GPS transmissions. Fuller details of the mission may be seen at The Project Scientist is Lee-Lueng Fu of JPL/NASA. The initial orbital parameters of Jason 2 were period 112 min, apogee 1,335 km, perigee 1,324 km, and inclination 66°.
Orbcomm A, B, C, D, E, and F are the latest additions to the Orbcomm fleet, that were launched by a Kosmos 3M rocket from Kapustin Yar in southwest Russia at 06:36 UT on 19 June 2008. We have tentatively assigned subscripts A, B, etc, pending a response from either USSTRATCOM or the ORBCOMM company. Five of the six are believed to be in the so-called Quick Launch group, the sixth, named Orbcomm-CDS, is to be under the control of the US Coast Guard. All six will relay communications from/to mobile platforms, including marine units. Five of them are microsatellites of mass 116 kg, diameter 107 cm, and height 15 cm. The sixth, Orbcomm-CDS is smaller, with a mass of 80 kg. The initial orbital parameters of all six were period 98.1 min, apogee 672 km, perigee 661 km, and inclination 48.45°.
Turksat 3A is a Turkish geostationary communications satellite that was launched by an Ariane 5ECA rocket from Kourou at 22:05 UT on 12 June 2008. The 3.1 tonne (with fuel), 8.1 kW craft carries 24 Ku-band transponders to provide television services to Turkey Europe, after parking over 42° E longitude.
Skynet 5C is a British geostationary, military communications craft that was launched by an Ariane 5ECA rocket from Kourou at 22:05 UT on 12 June 2008. The 4.6 tonne (with fuel) craft will provide secure services to British and NATO forces, after parking over 17.8° E longitude.
GLAST (Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope) is an American (NASA) astrophysics craft that was launched by a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral at 16:05 UT on 11 June 2008. It carries two major instruments: LAT to monitor gamma-rays from many distributed sources, and GBM for the capture of large, random bursts of gamma-rays.
LAT (Large Area Telescope) is an array of 4 x 4 "towers". Each tower carries an anti-coincidence screen, backed by 19 layers of thin tungsten sheets and 19 layers of position-sensitive silicon strips, with one set of strips along the "x-direction" and the other in the "y-direction". The strip layers and the tungsten sheets alternate. Finally, there is the cesium iodide calorimeter to measure the total energy by means of its light flash. The anti-coincidence sheet is made of a plastic that does not flash when a gamma-ray enters, but does when a charged cosmic ray enters. These cosmic rays are a million-fold more numerous than the gamma-rays, so must be rejected thoroughly, by the coincidence of the light flashes from that screen and the calorimeters. The purpose of the tungsten layer is to convert the gamma-rays into an electron-positron pair, so that each of them can be tracked by the position sensitive x-y strips. The instrument covers gamma-rays in the energy band 30 MeV to 300 GeV, and can pinpoint the direction of arrival with a precision of an arc-minute.
GBM is a Gamma-ray Burst Monitor that detects the random and episodic giant bursts in the x-rays and low-energy gamma rays in the energy band of 8 keV to 30 MeV. These bursts last from a millisecond to a few minutes. It deploys 12 thin disks of sodium iodide oriented at 12 different directions. The direction of the burst is inferred from the direction of the disk that gave the largest flash. This inferred direction is passed on to the LAT instrument which can rapidly reorient to look at the source with much greater positional accuracy.
Steven Ritz of NASA/Goddard is the Project Scientist of GLAST. Peter Michelson of Stanford University is PI for LAT; Charles Meegan of MFSC is PI for GBM. More details of the mission may be obtained from The initial orbital parameters were period 95.7 min, apogee 562 km, perigee 542 km, and inclination 25.6°.
Zhongxing 9, also known as Chinasat 9, is a Chinese (PRC) communication satellite that was launched by a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province at 16:15 UT on 09 June 2008. It will be the primary vehicle for transmitting voice and video from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The initial orbital parameters were period 918 min, apogee 49,562 km, perigee 248 km, and inclination 24.1°.

C. Spacecraft Particularly Suited for International Participation

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 GPS 2R-18 (2007-062A).

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.

According to CSIC the latest additions to the fleet are 2007-065A, 2007-065B, and 2007-065C.

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 (2008)

2008-029B (33054)    R/B Delta 21                     29 June
2008-033B (33109)    R/B Proton-K                     28 June
2004-053G (28514)    R/B (Aux.) Proton-K              26 June
2008-027A (32960)    STS 124   Landed back on         14 June

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.

The solar-monitoring, ESA/NASA mission Ulysses came to an official close on 30 June 2008, after monitoring solar wind in the heliosphere for 17.5 years.

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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