A monthly publication of the National Space Science Data Center/World Data Center for Satellite Information
No. 606                                                                                                                               01 May 2004

SPACEWARN Activities

All information in this publication was received between 1 April 2004 and 30 April 2004.

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

USSPACECOM Catalog numbers are in parentheses.

    INT.ID    CAT. #      NAME                   DATE (UT)
   2004-015A   (28234)   Express AM-11               26 April 2004
   2004-014A   (28230)   Gravity Probe-B             20 April 2004
   2004-013A   (28228)   Soyuz-TMA 4                 19 April 2004
   2004-012B   (28221)   Naxing 1                    18 April 2004
   2004-012A   (28220)   Tansuo 1                    18 April 2004
   2004-011A   (28218)   Superbird 6                 16 April 2004

B. Text of Launch Announcements.

2004-015A Express AM-11 is a Russian geostationary communications satellite that was launched from Baikonur by a Proton-K rocket at 20:37 UT on 26 April 2004. It carries many transponders to provide digital television, telephone and broadband internet links to Russia and its neighbors, Southeast Asia, and Australia, after parking over a suitable longitude.
2004-014A Gravity Probe-B is an American (NASA) science satellite that was launched by a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg AFB at 16:57 UT on 20 April 2004. Its aim is to verify a derivative consequence of the General Relativistic Gravitation (GRG) theory, according to which a spinning body such as the Earth makes the space-time around it to rotate around, though extremely slowly. The satellite carries a telescope, embedded with four 4-cm quartz spheres that spin at a rate of 10,000 rpm as freely suspended gyroscopes. The prediction is that the orientation of the spin axes will move by 42 milliseconds-of-arc during a year of orbiting. The reference point is a bright star named HR 8703, also known as IM Pegasus, in the Pegasus constellation that will remain sighted by the telescope. The instrumentation details and the method of detecting the angular deviation of the gyroscopes are available in Francis Everitt of the Stanford University is the Principal Investigator. The initial orbital parameters were period 97.6 min, apogee 645 km, perigee 641 km, and inclination 90.0°.
2004-013A Soyuz-TMA 4 is a Russian passenger transport satellite that was launched by a Soyuz-FG rocket from Baikonur at 03:19 UT on 19 April 2004. It carried three astronauts (a Russian, an American and a Dutch) to the International Space Station (ISS) and docked with the Zvezda module of the ISS automatically on 21 April at 05:00 UT. Two of its astronauts will remain in the ISS for about six months, while the Dutch astronaut and the two astronauts who had inhabited the ISS for several months left the ISS on 29 April in the TMA-3 that had remained docked with the ISS, soft landing in Kazakhstan at 00:11 on 30 April. The initial orbital parameters were period 91.8 min, apogee 371 km, perigee 356 km, and inclination 51.6°.
2004-012B Naxing 1 (also reported as Nanosat 1) is a Chinese (PRC) satellite that was launched by a Long March 2-C rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 16:00 UT on 18 April 2004. The 25 kg satellite will perform "some high-tech experiments". The initial orbital parameters were period 96.9 min, apogee 615 km, perigee 600 km, and inclination 97.6°.
2004-012A Tansuo 1 (also reported as Experimentsat 1) is a Chinese (PRC) satellite that was launched by a Long March 2-C rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 16:00 UT on 18 April 2004. The 204 kg satellite will provide stereographic maps of land resources in China. The initial orbital parameters were period 96.8 min, apogee 615 km, and perigee 600 km, and inclination 97.7°.
2004-011A Superbird 6 is a Japanese geostationary communications satellite that was launched by an Atlas 2AS rocket from Cape Canaveral at 00:45 UT on 16 April 2004. The 3.2 tonne, 4.4 kW satellite was launched into a highly elliptical transfer orbit, with a period 2,895 min, apogee 120,679  km, perigee 1,138 km, and inclination 25.5°. It is reported that this high apogee, with its very low velocity, is conducive to maneuvering into geostationary status using much less on-board fuel than the usual transfer orbits require. It will become geostationary by 5 May 2004, after six maneuvers. It will provide high data-rate transmissions for television and internet access to the Asia-Pacific region through its 23 Ku-band, and four Ka-band transponders, after parking over 158° E longitude. It will be the fifth operational Superbird, after the current list of Superbird-A, -B2, -C, and -D.

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.

    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 53, 2003-058A.

  3. 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.

  4. Visually bright objects.

    See Users must register. Conditions apply.

  5. Actual decays/landings of payload spacecraft and rocket bodies (R/B) only. No further information is available.
    Designations         Common Name                  Decay Date (2004)
    2004-015C (28236)  R/B Proton-K                      29 April
    2004-013B (28229)  R/B Soyuz-FG                      22 April
    2000-002B (26057)  R/B Ariane 42L                    16 April
    2004-005C (28165)  R/B(1) Molniya-M                  11 April
    1964-049D (00869)  COSMOS 41                         09 April
  6. 60-day Decay Predictions.

    See Users must register for access. Conditions apply

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

  8. 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:

SPACEWARN Bulletin index About the SPACEWARN Bulletin About Spacecraft Categories NSSDC home page

Questions/comments about the content of these pages should be directed to:
The World Warning Agency for Satellites,
National Space Science Data Center, Mail Code 633
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

Dr. Edwin Bell, II
NASA Official: Dr. David R. Williams
V1.0, 30 April 2004
Last updated: 04 May 2004, EVB II