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A monthly publication of the National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information
No. 660
01 Nov. 2008

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 01 October 2008 and 31 October 2008.

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

International ID
Catalog Number
Spacecraft Name Launch Date (UT)
2008-055A 33414 VeneSat 1 29 October 2008
2008-054A 33412 SkyMed 3 25 October 2008
2008-053B 33409 Shijian 6F 25 October 2008
2008-053A 33408 Shijian 6E 25 October 2008
2008-052A 33405 Chandrayaan 1 22 October 2008
2008-051A 33401 IBEX 19 October 2008
2008-050A 33399 Soyuz-TMA 13 12 October 2008
2008-049A 33396 THEOS 01 October 2008

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

VeneSat 1 (also known as Simon Bolivar) is a Venezuelan geostationary communications satellite that was launched by a Chang Zheng-3B (CZ-3B) rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 16:53 UT on 29 October 2008. The 5.1 tonne craft carries 12 C-band and 14 Ku-band transponders to provide voice, video, tele-medicine and tele-education, after parking over, approximately, 65° W longitude.
SkyMed 3, also known as COSMO-SkyMed 3, is an Italian remote sensing and military reconnaissance craft that was launched from Vandenberg AFB at 02:28 UT on 25 October 2008. It carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). The emphasis will be on Mediterranean security. The initial orbital parameters were period 97.2 min, apogee 625 km, perigee 623 km, and inclination 97.86°.
Shijian 6E and Shijian 6F are the third pair of Chinese military satellites that were launched by a Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan launch center at 01:15 UT on 25 October 2008. Most websites name them as "super secret" missions, without specifying payload. Chinese news agencies name them as "research" missions, again without payload details. The initial orbital parameters of both were similar: period 96.5 min, apogee 605 km, perigee 581 km, and inclination 97.74°.
Chandrayaan 1 is an Indian (ISRO) lunar satellite that was launched by a PSLV-C11 (also called PSLV-XL) rocket from Sriharikota on the south-eastern coast of India at 00:52 UT on 22 October 2008. It is the 68th of the lunar missions that began with the Soviet Luna 1 on 02 January 1959. Chandrayaan 1 entered the first highly elliptical, high-altitude orbit around the moon on 29 October.
The 1.4 tonne (with fuel), 750 W, 1.5 m cuboid craft carries 11 instruments to map the lunar surface after attaining a 100 km lunar orbit in mid-November. The ground support is provided by the IDSN at Byalau near Bangalore, with the newly installed 32 m dish antenna and 20 kW transmitter. The craft carries five instruments from India, three from ESA, one from Bulgaria, and two from NASA.
TMC (Terrain Mapping Camera, ISRO) will map the topography of the Moon in visible light, using stereo cameras. Kiran Kumar (ISRO) is the Principal Investigator. (
HySI (Hyperspectral Imager, ISRO) will map the mineralogy of the lunar surface. Kiran Kumar (ISRO) is the PI. (
LLRI (Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument, ISRO) will accurately determine the height of lunar surface features. T. K. Alex is the PI.
HEX (High Energy X-ray Spectrometer, ISRO) will look for polar ice sheets, as well as identify locations of uranium and thorium deposits. J. N. Goswami (PRL) and P. Sreekumar (ISRO) are the PIs.
MIP (Moon Impact Probe, ISRO) will demonstrate capability to precisely impact a pre-selected site, as a prelude to future soft landings.
C1XS (Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-ray Spectrometer, ESA-ISRO) will use X-ray florescence technique to map the distribution of magnesium, aluminum, silicon, iron, and thorium. Manuel Grande (Rutherford Lab) is the PI. (
SIR-2 (Smart near Infra-Red spectrometer, ESA) will explore the mineral resources. H. Uwe Keller and Urs Mall (Max Plank Institute) are the PIs (
SARA (Sub-kiloelectronvolt Atom Reflecting Analyzer, ESA-ISRO) will study the surface composition of the moon and the magnetic anomalies associated with it. Stas Barabash (Swedish Institute for Space Physics) is the PI. (
RADOM (RAdon DOse Monitor, Bulgaria) will monitor the radiation environment in the near-moon atmosphere.
MiniSAR (Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar, NASA) will look for water ice at the lunar polar surface and deeper strata. Paul Spudis (APL/JHU) is the PI. (
M3 (Moon Mineralogy Mapper, NASA) will assess and map mineral resources at high spatial and spectral resolution. Carle Pieters (Brown University) is the PI. (
For further details, visit
The initial Earth orbit parameters were period 673 min, apogee 37,830 km, perigee 301 km, and inclination 17.9°.
IBEX (Interstellar Boundary EXplorer) is an American (NASA) heliospheric probe that was by launched by a Pegasus-XL rocket riding under the belly of L-1011 cargo plane over Kwajalein Island, at 17:47 UT on 19 October 2008. The 107 kg (including 27 kg fuel), 116 W probe will monitor the energetic H and O atoms arriving from the boundary between heliosphere and the interstellar medium. The neutral atoms are first ionized inside the ENA instrument to measure the atomic species, energy (in the range 10 eV-6 keV), and direction. Dave McCormas (Southwest Research Institute) is the Principal Investigator. The initial orbital parameters were period 6,604 min (4.6 days), apogee 220,886 km, perigee 7,000 km, and inclination 10.99°.
Soyuz-TMA 13 is a Russian passenger craft that was launched by a Soyuz-FG rocket from Baikonur at 07:01 UT on 12 October 2008. It carried an American astronaut, an American tourist, and a Russian astronaut to the International Space Station. It docked with the Zarya module of the ISS at 08:26 UT on 14 October. The tourist, along with two long-time ISS residents, returned in the previously docked TMA-12 on 23 October, leaving behind the two TMA-13 astronauts for a six-month stay in the ISS.
The initial orbital parameters of Soyuz-TMA 13 were period 91.6 min, apogee 354 km, perigee 350 km, and inclination 51.64°.
THEOS (Thailand Earth Observation System) is Thailand's remote sensing craft that was launched by a Russian Dnepr rocket from the Yasni space base in southern Russia at 06:37 UT on 01 October 2008. (It was delayed by many months due to a dispute with Kazakhstan which was unwilling to allow Dnepr rocket launches from Baikonur.) The 750 kg satellite carries a panchromatic imager with a resolution of 2 m and a multispectral (four bands in 450-900 nm range) imager with a resolution of 15 m to monitor the topography and vegetation. The initial orbital parameters were period 101.4 min, apogee 826 km, perigee 825 km, and inclination 98.78°.

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)

2008-042B (33332)   R/B Delta 2                      21 October
1990-076D (20770)   R/B(2) that launched COSMOS 2097 19 October
2008-050B (33400)   R/B Soyuz-FG                     10 October

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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