SPACEWARN Bulletin Number 575

01 October 2001
A publication of NASA's National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information as the WWAS for ISES/COSPAR

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 1 September 2001 and 30 September 2001.

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

USSPACECOM Catalog numbers are in parentheses.
    INT.ID    CAT. #      NAME                 DATE (2001)
   2001-043D    (26932)  Sapphire             30 September
   2001-043C    (26931)  PCSat                30 September
   2001-043B    (26930)  Picosat 9            30 September
   2001-043A    (26929)  Starshine 3          30 September
   2001-042A    (26927)  Atlantic Bird 2      25 september
   2001-041A    (26908)  Progress DC-1        14 September
   2001-040A    (26905)  USA 160              08 September

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

2001-043D Sapphire (a US DoD-funded microsatellite) was built by the Stanford University students and faculty, and carries a voice synthesizer to convert text messages into human voice. (For launch details, see Starshine 3 below). The initial orbital parameters were period 101 min, altitude 794 km, and inclination 67 deg.
2001-043C PCSat (Prototype Communications SATellite) is to act as a relay for amateur radio transmissions. It was built by the midshipmen at the US Naval Academy. It will augment the existing worldwide Amateur Radio Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS). (For launch details, see Starshine 3 below.) The initial orbital parameters of the circular orbit were period 101 min, altitude 794 km, and inclination 67 deg.
2001-043B Picosat 9 is a British-built (US DoD-funded) satellite to test electronic components/systems in space conditions. It carries four test payloads: Polymer Battery Experiment (PBEX), Ionospheric Occultation Experiment (IOX), Coherent Electromagnetic Radio Tomagraphy (CERTO) and an ultra-quiet platform (OPPEX). (For launch details, see Starshine 3 below.) The initial orbital parameters of the circular orbit were period 101 min, altitude 794 km, and inclination 67 deg.
2001-043A Starshine 3 is an American microsatellite that was launched,along with Picosat 9, PCSat, and Sapphire, by an Athena 1 rocket from the Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC) on Alaska's Kodiak Island (located 400 km south of Anchorage) at 02:40 UT on 30 September 2001. (Foul weather and auroral conditions had delayed the launch many times.) The 80 kg NASA satellite is basically a passive light-reflecting sphere of one meter diameter, consisting of 1,500 student-built mirrors (polished by kindergarten and grade school students from many countries) and 31 laser "retroreflectors". A few solar cells provide enough power to send a beacon at 145.825 MHz every minute. Ham operators around the world are expected to obtain signal strengths from which the decay (due to magnetic torque) of its spin rate can be determined. This is the first orbital launch from the KLC. Initial orbital parameters of the circular orbit were period 94 min, altitude 472 km, and inclination 67 deg.
2001-042A Atlantic Bird 2 is a European geosynchronous communications spacecraft belong to the Eutelsat fleet that was launched by an Ariane 44P rocket from Kourou at 23:21 UT on 25 September 2001. The 3.1 tonne spacecraft is the twenty-second member of the current fleet. It will provide high-speed television, video streaming, radio and internet services between North and South America, and Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, through its 26 Ku-band transponders.
2001-041A Progress DC-1 is a Russian automatic cargo carrier that was launched by a Soyuz-U rocket from Baikonur at 23:44 UT on 14 September 2001. The ITAR-TASS names the spacecraft as Progress M-SO1. It is actually a habitable, docking module (and not just a carrier) named Pirs (meaning pier), and contained an astronaut chair, a space suit, a small crane, and some equipment for the Zvezda module of the ISS. This docking module will enable for the first time entry/exit of astronauts with Russian or American space suits. The module docked automatically with the ISS at 01:08 UT on 17 September 2001. Its propulsion engine was jettisoned on 26 September to burn away. The initial orbital parameters were period 92.3 min, apogee 393.6, perigee 388.2, and inclination 51.6 deg.
2001-040A USA 160 is an American military reconnaissance satellite that was launched by an Atlas 2AS/Centaur rocket from Vandenberg AFB at 15:25 UT on 8 September 2001. There has been no official listing of the payload, though "amateur space sleuths" are reported to have concluded that it belongs to the NOSS constellation, each member being actually a close cluster of triangular triplet. (This and other claims were reported in, dated 13 September 2001.)

C. Spacecraft Particularly Suited for International Participation

  1. 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.

  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.

  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-545. 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. Visually bright objects.

    A comprehensive list of visually bright objects with their two-line orbital elements is available from USSPACECOM, via a NASA URL, The list, however, does not include visual magnitudes, but are expected to be brighter than magnitude 5.

  5. Actual decays/landings of payload spacecraft and rocket bodies (R/B) only. No further information is available.
    Designations         Common Name                  Decay Date (2001)
    2001-041A (26908) R/B, the engine attached to PROGRESS DC-1 27 Sep
    2000-019F (26711) R/B (Aux) Proton-K                        20 Sep
    1978-004A (10561) COSMOS 975                                19 Sep
    2001-041B (26909) R/B Soyuz-U                               16 Sep
    1975-076B (08128) R/B that launched COSMOS 756              06 Sep
    1995-037J (23630) R/B (Aux) Proton-K                        01 Sep  

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

    SPACEWARN Bulletin occasionally comes across launch failures of significant spacecraft. A Taurus rocket carrying NASA-GSFC's QuickTOMS spacecraft for monitoring total ocean content, and a commercial high resolution imaging spacecraft named OrbView 4 was launched from Vandenberg AFB at 18:49 UT on 21 September 2001. The injection at an altitude of 426 km with inadequate speed engendered the payload to crash over the Indian Ocean. (Also crashed were 48 minicapsules carrying the ashes of 48 persons, priced at $5,300 a piece.)

  7. 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 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 obtained from:

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

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

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Questions/comments about the content of these pages should be directed to:
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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, 04 September 2001
Last updated: 03 October 2001, EVB II