NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
A monthly publication of the National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information
No. 685
01 December 2010

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 01 November 2010 and 30 November 2010.

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

International ID
Catalog Number
Spacecraft Name Launch Date (UT)
2010-065B 37238 Intelsat 17 26 November 2010
2010-065A 37237 HYLAS 1 26 November 2010
2010-064A 37234 Zhongxing 20A 24 November 2010
2010-063A 37232 USA 223 21 November 2010
2010-062K 37231 Ballast B 20 November 2010
2010-062J 37230 Ballast A 20 November 2010
2010-062F 37227 FAST 1 (USA 222) 20 November 2010
2010-062E 37226 FalconSat 5 (USA 221) 20 November 2010
2010-062D 37225 FASTSAT-HSV01 (USA 220) 20 November 2010
2010-062C 37224 O/OREOS (USA 219) 20 November 2010
2010-062B 37223 RAX (USA 218) 20 November 2010
2010-062A 37222 STPSAT 2 (USA 217) 20 November 2010
2010-061A 37218 SkyTerra 1 14 November 2010
2010-060A 37216 Skymed 4 06 November 2010
2010-059A 37214 Fengyun 3B 04 November 2010
2010-058A 37212 Meridian 3 02 November 2010

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

Intelsat 17 was launched from Kourou at 18:39 UT on 26 November 2010 by an Ariane 5 rocket. The craft weighed 5500 kg. The satellite will provide a range of telecommunications services, joining the Intelsat 10 spacecraft at an adjacent location in geosynchronous orbit. Intelsat 17 is part of a nine-satellite investment program that is expected to provide enhanced high-powered capacity to Intelsat's global fleet. The satellite carries 24 C-band and 25 Ku-band transponders serving Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Asia from the 66° E orbital location. It will replace the Intelsat 702 satellite and is designed to provide service for the next 16 years. Intelsat 17 is slated to enter service in the first quarter of 2011.
HYLAS 1 (Highly Adaptable Satellite) was launched from Kourou at 18:39 UT on 26 November 2010 by an Ariane 5 rocket. The craft weighed 2242 kg. HYLAS 1 operates both in Ku- and Ka-bands and will bring high-speed broadband services to remote rural areas across Europe while in orbit at a position of 33.5° W. The flexibility of the payload enables it to change the bandwidth of its 8 Ka-band beams while in orbit, maximizing the satellite's efficiency. The satellite has a mission lifetime of around 15 years.
Zhongxing 20A, also known as Chinasat 20A, was launched from Xichang at 16:09 UT on 24 November 2010 by a Long March 3A rocket. Zhongxing 20A is a Chinese military communications satellite.
USA 223, a U.S. military satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral at 22:58 UT on 21 November 2010 by a Delta 4 rocket. The rocket carried a classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Ballast A and Ballast B were both launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. The two are mass simulators used to test the Minotaur's ability to deploy multiple spacecraft into different orbits.
FAST 1, also known as USA 222, was launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. The craft was built by students at the University of Texas, Austin. FAST 1 also called FASTRAC (Formation Autonomy Spacecraft with Thrust, Relnav, Attitude and Crosslink) consists of two satellites that will be launched together. The first has been named "Sara-Lily", and the second "Emma", both after the children of engineers working on the program. Sara-Lily will study the use of a Micro-Discharge Plasma Thruster (MDPT) for formation flying with Emma. It will also carry a GPS navigation experiment. Emma will carry an Inertial Measurement Unit, or IMU, which will be used to determine the distance between the two satellites.
FalconSat 5, also known as USA 221, was launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. It will be the fifth in a series of technology demonstration satellites built and operated by the US Air Force Academy. It carries four experiments.
SPCS (Space Plasma Characterization Source) will use a cold gas ammonia thruster and a Hall Effect ion thruster to study their effects on the space environment.
WISPERS (Wafer-Integrated Spectrometer) will be used to compare its plume to theoretical data. The Hall Effect thruster will serve as an ion source for the Wafer-Integrated Spectrometer.
SmartMESA (Smart Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer) will study the temperature and ion density of the ionosphere. It will replace an instrument originally flown on FalconSat 2, which was unable to achieve orbit when the Falcon 1 failed.
RUSS (Receiver UHF/VHF Signal Strength) will study the effects of the ionosphere on radio signals.
FASTSAT-HSV01 (Fast Affordable Science and Technology Satellite), a NASA microsatellite also known as USA 220, was launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. It is a 140 kg microsatellite, which is expected to operate for 180 days. It will test a Threat Detection System and a Miniature Star Tracker for the US Air Force Research Laboratory. FASTSAT carries several experiments and will also deploy another satellite. NanoSail-D2, that will replace the failed NanoSail-D, will be released seven days after launch. NanoSail-D2 is a three-unit CubeSat, measuring 30 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm, and will deploy a solar sail with an area of ten square meters. The spacecraft will use an S-Band transponder to communicate with Earth, and also carries a beacon broadcasting at 437.270 MHz. These will be activated before separation from FASTSAT, and are expected to operate until the spacecraft runs out of power, which will probably happen around 12 days after launch. The following atmospheric experiments are being carried on-board the satellite:
TTI (Thermosphere Temperature Imager) will measure the temperature of the Earth's thermosphere, and study the densities of oxygen and nitrogen there.
MINI-ME (Miniature Imager for Neutral Ionosphere Atoms and Magnetospheric Electrons) will study plasma in the outer atmosphere.
PISA (Plasma and Impedance Spectrum Analyzer) will investigate electrons in the ionosphere, and attempt to demonstrate a new technique for measuring their temperature and density.
O/OREOS (Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses), a NASA nanosatellite also known as USA 219, was launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. It is a three unit CubeSat that weighs 5.5 kg and carries two biological experiments. One will test live microorganisms, while the other will test inanimate organic samples, in order to see how they react to conditions in space such as radiation and extreme temperature. It will also test the use of deployable Mylar panels to increase its rate of orbital decay, and reduce the amount of time it remains in orbit as debris.
RAX (Radio Aurora Explorer), also known as USA 218, was launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. RAX is a three unit CubeSat that will be used to conduct studies of the ionosphere, receiving radar signals from ground stations which can be used to measure activity in the ionosphere. The 28 kg nanosatellite is a joint effort of the University of Michigan and SRI International.
STPSAT 2, also known as USA 217, was launched from Kodiak at 01:25 UT on 20 November 2010 by a Minotaur 4 rocket. STPSAT 2, a 190 kg technology demonstration for the USAF Space Test Program, is the mission's primary payload. It carries two top-priority investigations from the military's Space Experiment Review Board (SERB) rankings of the most urgent technologies ready for flight demonstrations. The two investigations are:
SPEX (Space Phenomenology Experiment), the No. 1 ranked SERB payload, includes two payloads to evaluate sensor compatibility for the space environment
ODTML (Ocean Data Telemetry MicroSatLink) provides two-way data relay from terrestrial (ocean or land) sensors to users (standalone or on the internet).
SkyTerra 1, a commercial communication satellite, was launched from Baikonur at 17:29 UT on 14 November 2010. The craft was launched by a Proton rocket with a Breeze M upper stage and weighed 5.36 tonnes. SkyTerra 1 will join traditional terrestrial cell networks to shape a fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless system designed to reach nearly every American by the end of 2016. It carries a 22-m diameter L-band antenna, the largest commercial antenna reflector ever built. The satellite also carries a 2 m Ku-band antenna. The satellite will ultimately be positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 101.3° W longitude. SkyTerra 1 has a design life of at least 15 years.
Skymed 4, also known as COSMO 4 (Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean Basis Observation), is an Italian radar imaging satellite. The craft was launched on a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 02:20 UT on 06 November 2010. Skymed 4 is part of Italy's Earth Observing System, a constellation of radar satellites built for civil and military reconnaissance. It will join three other spacecraft deployed previously by Delta 2 rockets in 2007 and 2008. Each satellite is equipped with an X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument for environmental monitoring, resource management and territorial security surveillance. They are capable of seeing the ground in daylight or darkness, under clear or cloudy skies. Skymed 4 has the capability to produce450 images/day. The constellation of four satellites enables any specific region of the planet to be observed by COSMO-SkyMed every six hours, which allows authorities to assess and begin responding when a crisis strikes. The satellites have proved themselves beneficial to humanitarian organizations responding to natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Skymed 4 has a design life of five years. This is scheduled to be the last commercial mission for the Delta 2 rocket.
Fengyun 3B, a Chinese weather satellite, was launched from Taiyuan at 18:37 UT on 04 November 2010. It was launched by a Long March 4C rocket and weighs 2.299 tonnes. Fengyun 3B is a three-axis stabilized earth observation and meteorological satellite. It carries 11 instruments capable of global, all-weather, multi-spectral, three-dimensional, quantitative Earth observations. The satellite has a three-axis pointing accuracy of less than 0.3° and a three-axis measurement accuracy of less than 0.05°. Fengyun 3B is the second of the Fengyun 3 experimental series. The Fengyun 3 series includes four satellites, the first two are experimental satellites and the last two are operational satellites. The Fengyun 3 satellite series is able to make 3D atmospheric detection, which substantially increases the abilities of the satellite in global data acquisition as well as land feature and cloud field observation. Fengyun 3B has a design life of two years and will operate in a nominal 836 km altitude orbit with an orbital inclination of 98.75°. Instruments aboard the Fengyun 3B include: the Visible and InfraRed Radiometer, the Moderate Resolution Visible and Infrared Imager, and the Microwave Radiation Imager which will be used to make observations of the Earth's surface at various wavelengths. The Infrared Atmospheric Sounder, the Microwave Atmospheric Temperature Sounder and the Total Ozone Mapper and Ozone Profiler will observe various parameters of the atmosphere. The Space Environment Monitoring Unit will examine high-energy particles in the path between the top of the atmosphere and the spacecraft.
Meridian 3, a Russian military communications satellite, was launched from Plesetsk at 00:59 UT on 02 November 2010 by a Soyuz 2-1a rocket. Meridian 3 will circle Earth in a highly-inclined elliptical orbit. The Meridian satellites are replacements for Molniya communications satellites providing coverage of high latitude polar regions of Russia.

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 2F-1 (2010-022A).

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 IAC the latest additions to the fleet are 2010-041C, 2010-041B,and 2010-041A.

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 (2010)

2010-036B(36829)     CZ-3A R/B                       26 November
2010-029A(36603)     SOYUZ-TMA 19                    26 November
2010-018A(36521)     PROGRESS M-05M                  15 November
1992-069A(22189)     COSMOS 2217                     06 November
2002-048C(27542)     SL-12 R/B(2)                    03 November
1986-065A(16922)     COSMOS 1774                     02 November
2010-049D(37173)     SL-6 PLAT                       01 November

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.

In SPX 683 three satellites in the 2010-043 group of satellites had not been identified at the time it went to press. These have since been identified as: Cosmos 2467 (2010-043A, 37152), Gonets-M (2010-043B, 37153), and Cosmos 2468 (2010-043C, 37154).

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:

[] NASA Logo -