Zarya - Soviet, Russian and International Spaceflight
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Annual Diaries

Scarborough, UK
2014 Aug 27
Wednesday, Day 239

Maintained by:

Events of 2011

NOTE - some entries contain links to other sites, press kits, etc. With time some of them will become broken as other site owners 'tidy up' and re-arrange pages.

Date Time (UTC) Event
2011 Jan 6
Aerocube 3 Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - destroyed by frictional heating in the atmosphere. Launched: 2009 May 19

NORAD: 2009-028E/35005

2011 Jan 6
QbX 1 Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - destroyed by frictional heating in the atmosphere. Cubesat from the Dragon C-1 mission, launched: 2010 Dec 8.

NORAD: 2010-066F/37249

2011 Jan 10
Tracking of NOAA Satellite - STSS Demonstrator
in orbit
Both satellites tracked the satellite while only one fed-back data to the ground. The test proved the cross-link between satellites.

The actual NOAA target was not revealed.

2011 Jan 12
SMDC ONE Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - destroyed by frictional heating in the atmosphere. Cubesat from the Dragon C-1 mission, launched: 2010 Dec 8

NORAD: 2010-066C/37246

2011 Jan 13
ISS Orbit Boost
on orbit
Successful orbit-raising manoeuvre using the eight Progress M-07M thrusters. It was the second stage of a manoeuvre started 2010 Dec 22

The engine firing lasted 675.2 seconds to provide a delta-V of 1.4 m/s. It raised the orbit of the ISS by 2.5 kilometres to 350.3 x 371.4 km, 91.55 minutes period at 51°.67 inclination (Russian measurement system).

The purpose ws to assist in setting up the correct ground track for the return to Earth of Soyuz TMA-M during March.

2011 Jan 16
QbX 2 Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - destroyed by frictional heating in the atmosphere. Cubesat from the Dragon C-1 mission, launched: 2010 Dec 8.

NORAD: 2010-066B/37245

2011 Jan 18
STSS Demonstrator - Inter-satellite Comms Link Activated
on orbit
Northrop Grumman says in a press release that the effectiveness of the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration satellites has been expanded after a communications crosslink was activated and successfully tested.

2011 Jan 18
NanoSail-D ejected from Fastsat
on orbit
Solar sail satellite that failed to separate from FASTSAT-HSV01 (2009-0062D/37225) 2010 Nov 20 has now separated of its own volition - possibly assisted by a number of cycles of thermal expansion/contraction eventually unjamming whatever was blocking the release.

On Nov 20, all indications were that the ejection sequence had occurred but NanoSail-D remained inside its container aboard FASTSAT.

Signals from the 437.270 MHz transmitter started to be received immediately at tracking stations around the world. Solar sail deployment occurred 2010 Jan 21 02:55 UTC after a 72 hour countdown timer reached zero.

Official Nanosail-D web site:


2011 Jan 20
Elektro-L Launch
Zenit-3F (Zenit-2/Fregat-SB), Baikonur SC LC-45
Elektro L1Successful launch of second generation Russian geosynchronous metsat also known as GOMS №2. It will provide a multispectral image of the complete hemisphere every 30 minutes with the interval increased to 15 minutes to cope with emergencies. Elektro-L will also act as a COSPAS-SARSAT emergency location data relay.

After a final firing of the Fregat stage, Elektro-L separated as expected at 21:28 UTC, in geosynchronous transfer orbit. The destination of Elektro-L is 76° east longitude.

Within a few hours, Russia announced that inittial tests showed the solar panels had opened as planned and the satellite was operating normally.

Originally due for launch 2010 Dec 25, the reason for the delay is not known.

Spacetrack: 2011-001A/37344

Orbit details:

2011 Jan 20
USA 224 (Improved KH-11/Crystal) Launch
Delta IV Heavy, VAFB
Successful launch of a KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Commercial launch by United Launch Alliance tagged as NROL-49.

Precise time: 21:10:30. About 1.5 hours before lift off it became known that the time was shifted slightly later from the planned 21:08 UTC as a collision avoidance manoeuvre with something already in orbit.

The upper stage of the launch vehicle was de-orbited almost immediately with a controlled re-entry achieved by turning it round and re-starting the engine. It burned up in the atmosphere through frictional heating.

First Delta IV Heavy from Vandenberg and, to date, the heaviest vehicle to lift off from Vandenberg.

Originally-planned launch Jan 17 - reason not given for postponement.

Transmission frequency - 2242.514 MHz ±.002

NORAD: 2011-002A/37348

Orbit details:

2011 Jan 21
Nanosail-D Solar Sail Deployment
on orbit
NanoSail-DAnticipated time for deployment.

Telemetry received and decoded about three hours later confirmed it had occurred.

Radio transmission frequency: 437.270 MHz.

Official Nanosail-D web site:

2011 Jan 21
Nanosail-D Loss of Power
on orbit
Last report of a radio radio contact with the 437.270 MHz beacon.

The battery ran down completely about 12 hours after separating from the parent satellite.

2011 Jan 21
ISS EVA - Russian Segment
EVA by Oleg Skripohcka and Dmitry Kondratiev from the Pirs airlock, and planned for about six hours duration. In the event, work was completed at 19:52 UTC after 5h 23m.

Objective was to dismount an impulse plasma injector from Zvezda’s outer surface, complete the installation of Russian high-speed data transmission cables and an aerial, install a camera on the new Rassvet docking module - a job that was not completed during a 2010 November EVA, and retrieve a Russian/ESA materials exposure package.

27th Russian EVA from ISS - replaced planned EVA from 2010 November.

During the activity, Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri sat in the Soyuz 24 spacecraft, which is docked to the Poisk module. Flight Engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli were in the U.S. segment of the station, and had access to Soyuz 25, which is docked to the Rassvet module. If an emergency had occurred, safe exit from the station for the other four crew members was assured.

2011 Jan 22
HTV 2 (Kounotori 2) Launch
H-IIB, Tanegashima SC
Successful launch of Japanese supply vehicle to the ISS at the opening of a ten minute window. Precise time - 05:37:57.

The upper stage of the H-IIB launch vehicle was de-orbited almost immediately with a controlled re-entry achieved by turning it round and re-starting the engine. It burned up in the atmosphere through frictional heating.

Launch postponed from Jan 20 when weather forecast showed freezing clouds - they have the ability to induce lightning strikes. Arrival at the ISS will still be Jan 27 because there is a tight schedule of comings and goings around that time. Departure is planned to be about Feb 24.

Described by Japan as an "unmanned inter-orbital cargo transporter", Kounotori 2 is carrying six tonnes of supplies including food, clothing and experimental equipment to the International Space Station. After unloading, it will be packed with redundant equipment and clothing to be disposed of when Kounotori reenters the atmosphere and burns up through frictional heating late-February

Kounotori translates to "white stork" (seen as a carrier of joyful things) in english. It was chosen from 17,236 suggestions submitted by the Japanese public. Official web site:


Orbit details:

2011 Jan 24
Progress M-08M Undocking and Re-entry
The unlatching command was issued at 00:40 with undocking at precisely 00:42:43.

Retrofire was at 05:16:44 UTC and lasted for 155s. The delta-v of 85m/s initiated a destructive re-entry above the southern Pacific Ocean. Any unburned remains will have hit the sea at 06:07:03 UTC, near 51° 18' south latitude, 135° 54' west longitude.

This was the first Progress for some time to be aimed for re-entry immediately after undocking. The last few missions have involved the craft remaining in orbit for several days to undertake science and technology experiments.

Its predecessor Progress M-07M remains attached to the station.

NORAD: 2010-55A/37196, launched 2010 Oct 27.

2011 Jan 25
First Soviet Cosmonaut Group - 50th Anniversary
Sochi SixSelected 1961 ready for Vostok..... Standing - Pavel Popovich, Gregoriy Nelyubov, Gherman Titov, Valeriy Bykovsky. Seated left - Andrian Nikolayev and Yuri Gagarin. Seated middle and right - Sergei Korolyov, Yevgeniy Karpov (head of cosmonaut training) and Nikolai Nikitin (parachute trainer).

Nelyubov was dismissed early-1963 after being arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, and never made a flight. His seat was taken by Valentina Tereshkova.

Of the six cosmonauts in the picture, only Bykovsky is still living.

2011 Jan 27
HTV 2 Capture
Captured using the Station's 'Canadarm 2' Remote Manipulator System, about three minutes earlier than scheduled.

HTV 2's launch was postponed late on because of the weather in the vicinity of the launch site. However, it still had to meet the target docking date because of other planned activity around the station late January and early February.

2011 Jan 27
HTV 2 Docking
Berthed at the Earth-facing docking port of Node 2, the US Harmony module.

2011 Jan 28
Progress M-09M Launch
Soyuz-U, Baikonur SC LC-1
Successful launch carrying supplies to the ISS, including a small satellite named Kedr (after Gagarin's call sign) - it will be released during an EVA.

Delayed from 2010 Dec 27 because the use of its engines for an ISS re-boost became unnecessary as a result of low Solar activity.

Precise time: 01:31:39 UTC.

Frequencies: 121.75 MHz (TORU if used), 166.000 MHz (+/-128 kHz), 922.763 MHz.

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

NORAD: 2011-004A/37359

Orbit details:

2011 Jan 30
Progress M-09M Docking
Progress M-09M interiorSuccessful, on schedule, automatic docking with the port on Pirs module. Precise time - 02:38:50 UTC.

The cargo includes Kedr, a small satellite to be released into orbit during a space walk - see entry for Feb 21.

2011 Feb 1
Cosmos 2470 (GEO-IK 2) Launch
Rockot/Briz-KM, Plesetsk SC
GEO-IK 2Successful lift off of a geodetic satellite, based on the GLONASS-M chassis and also known as a Musson-2, with equipment including radar altimeter, laser retro reflectors plus GLONASS and GPS receivers. The photo of the satellite (minus solar panels) comes from Reshetnev, the manufacturer.

GEO-IK 2 was aimed at 1000 km circular, sun-sychronous orbit but the planned circularisation firing of the Briz-KM about an hour after launch did not occur, leaving the stack in its transfer orbit.

The initial indication of a problem came at 15:35 UTC when no radio transmission was received at the planned time of satellite separation towards the end of the first circuit of the Earth. This may have been due to the low perigee putting the satellite either below the horizon of the ground station or out of the receiving beamwidth of the aerial, rather than it being a failure of the transmitter itself. About two hours later, ITAR-TASS reported that radio communication with GEO-IK 2 had been established.

The satellite separated from the rocket into a roughly 350 x 1000 km elliptical orbit, probably controlled by a pre-programmed timer sequence, so a second opportunity to circularise the orbit was not available. GEO-IK 2 was declared a loss Feb 24 because it was unusable in the orbit it had attained.

Launch postponed from 2010 Dec 27.

NORAD: 2011-005A/37362

Orbit details:

2011 Feb 5
TacSat 2 Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - launched 2006 Dec 16.

NORAD: 2006-058A/29653

2011 Feb 6
USA 225 Launch
Minotaur I (NRO-L66), Vandenberg AFB LC-8
NROL-66Successful launch of a small payload for reconnaissance technology/sensor development aimed at 90° inclination orbit.

First publicly manifested as late as 2010 Oct, first appearing in a Goddard Space Flight Center list of launches. It was developed and built in a relatively short space of time under the Rapid Pathfinder Programme (RPP) of the US National Reconnaissance Office. RPP is an initiative that commenced in 2009 to bring ideas quickly from conception to reality.

Note - RPP is probably NOT the name of the satellite although it given as such elsewhere on the web.

Launch brought forward from originally announced mid-March then postponed from Feb 5 due to a problem with power output from a ground-based radio transmitter used in controlling the launch vehicle during ascent. The launch window was about two hours long and there was a further reserve slot at the same time on each of Feb 7 and 8.


Orbit details:

2011 Feb 9
ISS Orbit Adjustment
ISS - on orbit
Manoeuvre used the eight Progress M-07M attitude control thusters.

Precise time of ignition was 21:37:30 UTC and the burn lasted for 263 seconds. Delta-V is was 0.5 meters per second, resulting in the average height of the ISS orbit increasing by 0.9 kilometres to an average of 352.3 kilometres.

New parameters (Russian measurement system): 351.8 x 367.1 km, 91.52 min, 51°.67.

The new orbit helps to set up an optimal ground track for the return to Earth of Soyuz TMA-M on March 16.

2011 Feb 14
SkyTerra 1 Becomes Operational
on orbit
Satellite manufacturer Boeing announced that SkyTerra 1 has completed testing and has been handed over to its owner and operator, Lightsquared.

SkyTerra 1 was launched 2010 Nov 14 and is in geosynchronous orbit, stationed a 101°.3 west longitude.


2011 Feb 15
Stardust-NExT Cometary Encounter
Comet Tempel 1
Successful imaging fly-by of Comet Tempel 1.

NExT stands for New Exploration of Tempel.

In July 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft photographed the comet and delivered an impactor to the surface to study its composition. The Stardust spacecraft may have been able capture an image of the crater that it created. completion of image downloads is awaited.

For more detail, see:

2011 Feb 16
ISS EVA - Russian Segment
28th Russian EVA from ISS - undertaken successfully by Dmitry Kondratyev and Oleg Skripochka from the Russian segment of the ISS. It started 15 mins late and was scheduled to last for 6h 3m. In the event, work was completed in 4h 50m with the Pirs hatch being closed at 18:20 UTC.

Work was directed to installation of two scientific experiments on the Zvezda module - Radiometria, designed to collect information useful in seismic forecasts and earthquake predictions, and Molniya-Gamma, which will look at gamma splashes and optical radiation during terrestrial lightning and thunderstorm conditions using three sensors.

The pair also retrieved two Komplast panels from the exterior of the Zarya module. The panels contain materials exposed to space, and are part of a series of international experiments looking for the best materials to use in building long-duration spacecraft.

Finally, they removed, and release overboard, an unwanted foot restraint from the outside of Zvezda. In all, two objects left the station in that an unidentified object drifted out of the hatch about one minute after the two space walkers.

Deployment of the Kedr satellite had been removed from the schedule about a week earlier.. The reason given was that the batteries were not holding sufficient power to permit it to survive until April 12 - the Gagarin anniversary. Deployment will now take place during an EVA currently scheduled for July.

During the activity, Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri stayed, with the hatch closed, in the Poisk module where the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft was docked. Flight Engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli were in the U.S. segment of the station, and had access to Soyuz TMA-20 via the Rassvet module. Had an emergency occurred, safe exit from the station for the four crew members was assured.

2011 Feb 16
ATV 2 Launch
Ariane 5ES (V-200), CSG ELA-3
ATV-2Successful launch of European Space Agency cargo carrier to the ISS. Onboard propellant will be used to raise the ISS orbit from 350 to 400 km late-spring.

Launch delayed from late-2010 due to scheduling by Arianespace of its commercial payloads.

Further delayed 24 hours due to a flow/filling sensor indicating an incorrect value during propellant loading.

Precise launch time: 21:50:55 UTC.

NORAD: 2011-007A/37368

Orbit details:

2011 Feb 18
Relocation of HTV 2
The Space Station Remote Manipulator System was used to undock HTV 2 from the downward-facing docking port of the Harmony module.

Re-docking at harmony's upward-facing port occurred at 16:56 UTC with full electrical and data connections being restored at 19:26 UTC.

The move was required to provide enough clearance for Space Shuttle Discovery (on mission STS-133) to dock safely at the Harmony module forward-facing port.

2011 Feb 20
Progress M-07M Undocking and Destructive Re-entry
Undocked at 13:11:47 UTC.

At 16:12:00 UTC the main engine was fired for 161 seconds to provide a delta-V of 87.5 m/s, leading to a destructive re-entry above the southern Pacific Ocean.

Any unburned elements will have hit the ocean surface at 16:58:23 UTC near 42 ° 25' south latitude, 139° 39' west longitude.

Originally launched 2010 September 10 and docked with the ISS Sep 12.

NORAD: 2010-044A/37156

2011 Feb 23
USA 216 (SBSS) Declared Operational
on orbit
Space and Missile Systems Center transfers the Space Based Surveillance System (SBSS) satellite to the 1st Space Operations Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, signalling the start of the satellite's operational duty.


Launched 2010 Sep 25, NORAD: 2010-048A/37168

2011 Feb 24
ATV 2 Docking
ATV-2 dockedSuccessful docking at the Zvezda rear port, 14 minutes later than originally announced. Precise time+15:59:03. Hooks and latches were engaged at 16:08 UTC.

Brought forward from February 26 to allow a delayed launch of STS-133 to occur February 24. Later put back by 24 hours due to the ATV-2 launch delay from Feb 15 to Feb 16.

Aimed for precise time 18:45:55 UTC.

2011 Feb 24
STS-133 Launch
STS Discovery, KSC LC-39A
Successful launch to ISS with supplies and equipment including the Permanent Multi-Purpose Module (PMM) for attachment to the station. The PMM is a refurbishment of Leonardo, a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM). It went into orbit during previous Shuttle missions to hold supplies and equipment for delivery to the ISS.

Precise time 21:53:24, two seconds before the end of a ten minute launch window. Launch was originally set for the middle of the window but was delayed slightly by a problem during the final countdown.

During 2010 June, a delay was announced and the mission mission slipped from Sep 16 to Nov 1 to give engineers more time to work on payload planning.

Postponed from Nov 1 due to the need to repair helium and nitrogen leaks in the pressurization portion of Discovery’s right-hand Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod.

Nov 2 - a problem was detected with main engine computer controller so the launch was re-scheduled to No Earlier Than Nov 4. weather then intervened, pushing the launch attempt to November 5.

During preparations for the Nov 5 launch attempt, a problem was identified with the launcher servicing structure - it was leaking hydrogen, and a crack was noted in insulation on the External Tank. A decision was made to postpone, initially until Nov 30 and then further for investigation of the cracks - further cracks were detected late-December.

Frequencies: 259.7 MHz, 2217.5 MHz

NORAD: 2011-008A/37371

Orbit details:

2011 Feb 25
Thruster Test - ATV 2
ISS - on orbit
198 second firing for a Δv of 0.5 m/s - increased the ISS orbit height by 1.8 kilometres. The thruster firing was to verify that the ATV could perform an ISS reboost.

The new orbit helped to ensure an optimal ground track for the return to Earth of Soyuz TMA-M on March 16.

2011 Feb 26
Cosmos 2471 (GLONASS-K) Launch
Soyuz 2-1b, Plesetsk SC
GLONASS-KSuccessful launch of experimental navigation satellite. GLONASS-K is a new design and has a planned life of ten years. One of the major advancements is that it is unpressurised, leading to a reduction in the mass, allowing a single satellite to be Soyuz launched.

GLONASS-K also carries radio receiving equipment for the COSPAS-SARSAT international search and rescue system.

First GLONASS not to have been manifested as part of a triple payload on a Proton rocket, and the first GLONASS to be launched from Plesetsk. Russia decided to shift GLONASS launches to Plesetsk for strategic reasons to reduce reliance on other countries (Baikonur is in Kazakhstan).

The satellite separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle at 06:41:03 UTC.

As part of the recovery plan following the loss of three GLONASS-M in 2010 December, GLONASS-K will not go through the planned extensive test mission, it will be commissioned as an active satellite in the constellation.

Postponed from 2010 Dec 28 and then postponed further from mid-January because of a lack of readiness/training of ground control teams for the satellite. Feb 24 - the countdown was stopped about one hour before launch and a further postponement became necessary.

NORAD: 2011-009A/37372

Orbit details:

2011 Feb 26
STS-133 Docking
Forward facing docking unit of the Harmony module.

2011 Feb 28
STS 133 - Mission Extended
on orbit
NASA announcement that Discovery will stay in orbit for a day longer than originally planned. Consumables are lasting longer than anticipated. The crew will assist in unloading and outfitting the PMM.

2011 Feb 28
ISS EVA - US Segment
Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen of the STS-133 crew exited via Quest about half an hour ahead of schedule. Alvin Drew became the 200th human to undertake an EVA.

Tasks included installing a power extension cable between Unity and Tranquility as a contingency power source. They moved the failed ammonia pump, replaced during an August 2010 spacewalk, from an attachment bracket to a stowage platform adjacent to the Quest airlock ready for return to Earth during the next Shuttle mission (STS-134). Other tasks were to install hardware under a camera on the truss in order to tilt it to provide clearance for a spare part to be installed on a future mission, and they reconfigured and extended the rail cart system used for moving cargo along the truss.

The final task was to 'fill' a special bottle with 'space' for a Japanese education payload. It was brought forward from the March 2 EVA when other tasks were completed more quickly than planned. The bottle will become part of a museum exhibit.

The EVA finished at 22:20 UTC after 6h 34m, only four minutes longer than planned.

2011 Mar 1
Attachment of Permanent Multi-Purpose Module to ISS
The Space Station Remote Manipulator System was used to grapple the Permanent Multi-Purpose Module (PMM) in Discovery's Equipment Bay. First movement occurred 13:46 UTC.

It was moved successfully to the downward-facing hatch of the Unity module with final closing of all bolts and latches finishing at 15:05 UTC.

2011 Mar 2
Cosmos 2470 (GEO-IK 2) Update
on orbit
The satellite, released into an incorrect orbit after launch February 1, is now described as unusable. As a result of it rotating and losing solar orientation, it is unable to generate sufficent power from its solar panels.

Earlier, on February 20, it was announced that although operational and under control, the satellite was not capable of performing its geodetic mission for Russia's Defence Ministry because of the eccentricity of the orbit.

NORAD: 2011-005A/37362

Article in Russian:

2011 Mar 2
Elektro-L - First Images
on orbit
Roscosmos announces that Russia's Elektro-L meterological satellite in geosynchronous orbit is operating and has returned its first image.

Elektro-L was launched 2010 January 20 and is stationed at 76° east longitude:

Spacetrack: 2011-001A/37344

2011 Mar 2
ISS EVA - US Segment
A few minutes later than scheduled, Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen of the STS-133 crew exited via Quest. The delay was caused by having to replace a seal for an lithium hydroxide oxygen scrubber in Bowen's space suit.

The first task was to vent residual ammonia from the cooler that they moved during the Feb 28 EVA. Further tasks included removal of thermal insulation from several locations, removing an attachment bracket from the Columbus module and placing it in the Dicovery cargo bay, installing a pan and tilt platform on the Dextre robot, installing a light on a cargo cart, and repairing some dislodged thermal insulation from a valve on the truss.

The final planned task to 'fill' a special bottle with 'space' for a Japanese education payload was moved forward and done during the Feb 28 EVA.

The EVA was completed 21:56 UTC after 6h 14m.

2011 Mar 3
STS 133 - Mission Extended Again
on orbit
NASA announcement that Discovery will stay in orbit for a further day longer than originally planned (a day had already been added on Feb 28). The crew will assist in unloading and outfitting the PMM, and loading HTV 2 with rubbish.

2011 Mar 3
ISS Orbit Boost
on orbit
Precise time - 14:03:36 UTC, using Discovery's thrusters.

Successful 26 minute firing of reaction control thrusters provided a delta-V of 1 m/s, and raise the ISS orbit by 1.75 km to an average height of 352.8 kilometres (both measurements using the Russian system).

2011 Mar 4
Glory Launch Failure (incl three CubeSats)
Taurus XL 3110, Vandenberg AFB LC-576E
GloryNASA satellite for Earth energy balance studies - to allow scientists to better understand how the sun and atmospheric aerosols affect the Earth's climate.

Precise time - 10:09:43 UTC in the middle of a window of 48 seconds in length.

Intended orbit: sun-synchronous - 710 kilometres circular, 98°.2 degrees inclination. The launch failed when the payload fairing remained attached to the upper stage. The extra mass prevented the stack from reaching orbit but the fairing would not have allowed the satellite to be released anyway. Similar failure to the launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2009 Feb 24 (also a Taurus XL):

This launch followed a Feb 23 postponement after a software error, in item of ground equipment, sent a false message indicating a problem during the countdown. Delayed from its original date 2010 Nov 22 because of design problems with Glory's solar array, and work on the Taurus launch vehicle.

The launch vehicle carried three other small satellites under NASA's ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) programme:

Explorer 1 Prime - for Montana State University to measuring the radiation belts as discovered by the original Explorer 1,

Hermes - for the University of Colorado with experiments to test a high data-rate communication system for use in tiny satellites,

KySat-1 - for the Kentucky Space Consortium, including a camera and a 2.4 gigahertz scientific/medical band radio that will be used to test high-bandwidth communications for student use.

2011 Mar 5
USA 226 (X-37B/OTV-2 Flight 1) Launch
Atlas V 501, CCAFS LC-41
Succesful lift-off for the second X-37B space plane - making its first flight. A mission by the first X-37B flight model was undertaken during 2010 and this mission will refine some of the tests that it undertook. Orbit approximately 317 x 340 kilometres at 43° inclination (based on visual observation by Greg Roberts of South Africa on March 9).

Launched at the beginning of a ten minute window. Launch was pushed back from an earlier ten minute window at 21:09 because of the need to repair an item of launch pad hardware.

Mar 4 there were two launch windows (both missed because of weather), each of ten minutes duration, opening at 20:50 and 22:27 UTC. They may represent interaction between the orbit of OTV-2 and another satellite in an orbit with nodal period near 97.3 minutes - probably a KH-11 taking a look at the thermal tiles after launch. The possibility is borne out by the timing of the two windows on launch day.

The vehicle is described as being for long duration space technology experimentation and testing. Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, high temperature structures and seals, conformal reusable insulation, and lightweight electromechanical flight systems.

Fact sheet:

USAF response to launch success:

NORAD: 2011-010A/37375 (there are no orbital element sets in the public catalogue).

Orbit details:

2011 Mar 6
Mooted Soyuz TMA-01M Fly-round of ISS
ISS on orbit
The US suggestion (promoted by NASA as a firm plan, even though there was no Russian agreement) was to release Soyuz TMA-01M into free flight with Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka aboard in order to photograph the completed ISS with a Shuttle alongside, plus HTV 2 and ATV 2 attached.

Timed to match the planned departure of Discovery.

No plan was ever formed because Russia was not able to perform a full risk analysis, given the short notice, and the Soyuz being a new variant. It could have led to three ISS crew members having to return to Earth in the event of being unable to re-dock, leaving the ISS risking having no crew if any of the next tranche of launches was delayed.

2011 Mar 7
STS-133 Undocking
After 30 minutes of checks, Discovery undertook a fly-round of the ISS before departing.

2011 Mar 9
Aegis Missile Test - Monitored by STSS Demonstrator
Pacific Ocean
One of the STSS satellites acquired and tracked a target until re-entry during a test designed to validate Aegis system software upgrades. The timing of the target's launch was coordinated between Aegis and STSS to assure visibility to the satellite.

2011 Mar 9
50th Anniversay of Korabl-Sputnik 4 Mission
Succesful completion of this mission 1961 March 9, and one further flight, ensured that Yuri Gagarin got into orbit 1961 April 12.

2011 Mar 9
STS-133 Landing
Kennedy SC Runway
Safe landing followed retro-fire at 15:55 UTC.

Touchdown was at 16:57:17 UTC and wheel stop at 16:58:03.

ISS-docked phase of the mission extended by two days from the original plan so landing delayed by two days also.

2011 Mar 10
Relocation of HTV 2
Start of disconnection operations to relocate HTV 2 to the downward-ward-facing zenith port of the Harmony module where it was originally docked. A previous move (Feb 18) was in order to to provide enough clearance for Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-133) to dock safely at the Harmony module forward-facing port.

The Space Station Remote Manipulator System had been attached earlier, at 11:20 UTC, and was then used to move Kounotori.

The detach/re-attach operation took about seven hours with re-connection of electrical and communications circuits occurring at 18:55 UTC. The SSRMS was disconnected some time after.

An effect of the Japan earthquake March 11 was that hatches were not re-opened immediately because it became necessary for staff to evacuate the Tsukuba control station. For the same reason, the ISS Kibo module was powered down.

Originally planned for Mar 7 but postponed because Discovery stayed an extra two days at the ISS.

Subsequent opening of the hatches into the ISS, planned for March 10, was postponed when the Japanese control centre at Tsukuba was evacuated because of a major earthquake.

2011 Mar 11
USA 227 (SDS 3) Launch
Delta 4, Cape Canaveral AFS (NROL-27) LC-37B
Successful launch, to geosynchronous transfer orbit, of SDS-3 comsat for geosynchronous orbit. A news blackout occurred about five minutes after lift-off.

Initially checked out ay 30° west, it was moved to its operatioonal location at 10° west on Aug 1. It replaced USA 155 that was taken off station around the same time.

Originally announced as a one hour launch slot starting at 22:45 UTC but later refined to 22:57 UTC. Actual lift-off was delayed by high altitude winds and occurred at the end of the day's window.

NORAD: 2010-011A/37377 (there are no orbital element sets in the public catalogue).

Orbit details:

2011 Mar 13
Orbview 3 Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - destructive re-entry.

NORAD: 2003-030A/27838

2011 Mar 14
USA 222 (Fastrac Satellite Pair) - Separation Command Sent
on orbit
A pair of joined satellites orbited as part of the STP-26 mission 2010 Nov 20. The separation command was sent at 23:56:11 UTC after several months of testing. The two satellites are known as Sara Lily and Emma.

Separation did not occur - a further attempt Mar 22 was subsequently successful..

The plan originally was to send the command March 10, 01:07 UTC but it was delayed - no reason given.

Frequencies: 437.345 MHz (Sarah Lily) and 145.825 MHz ( Emma).

NORAD: 2010-062F/37227

2011 Mar 15
Aegis Missile Test - Monotored by STSS Demonstrator
Pacific Ocean
Both STSS satellites demonstrated full-course tracking during a portion of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) Aegis launch on remote campaign. Both satellites acquired the target through their track sensors and followed the missile through re-entry.

During the test, the Ground Mission Data Processing software, operating at the Missile Defense Experimentation Center, successfully produced a "stereo," 3-D track of the missile's flight path, predicting its impact point in advance.

2011 Mar 15
Kavoshgar 4 bio-capsule Launch
Kavoshgar LV, Iran
Kavoshgar 4Sub-orbital launch of small payload including a simulated biological subject. Reported to have reached 120 kilometres at apogee and to have landed 300 kilometres downrange from the launch site.

Objectives were to test the system performance, including the launch vehicle, its engines, electronic and telemetry systems of the payload, and the separation and soft landing systems.

The previous Kavoshgar launch, 2010 Feb 2 carried a small biological payload. A future launch will include a primate as a test subject.

In the photo, the primate carrier is in the lowest of the cut-out windows. The other cutouts may depict support equipment and the parachute system.

The date is in Iran time, so there is minor a possibility of the launch being March 14 UTC..

2011 Mar 16
Soyuz TMA-M Undocking
Undocked from Poisk carrying Alexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka and Scott Kelly.

Before retro-fire, the crew undertook manual tests of the new Soyuz digital control system and orientation sensors. It was the first undocking by the TMA-M version of Soyuz.

2011 Mar 16
Soyuz TMA-M Landing
Landing followed 257 seconds of retrofire starting at 03:03:17 UTC that resulted in a delta-V of 115 metres/second. It occurred 86 kilometres to the north of Arkalyk in severe weather conditions - strong wind, blizzard and very low temperature (-20° C). It was close to the planned location near 51° north, 63° east.

From the landing site, the crew was flown immediately to Kustanai. From there, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka returned to Moscow and Scott Kelly was flown to the USA.

First reports said that the flight of the new Soyuz design was considered successful.

2011 Mar 18
MESSENGER - Arrival at Mercury
Start of a fifteen minute engine firing. MESSENGER's main thruster operated for about 14 minutes and smaller thrusters for a further minute, slowing the spacecraft by 862 meters per second. It became the first spacecraft to go into orbit around Mercury where it is intended to perform a one year science mission.

Initial orbital parameters:
Perigee - 206.79 km
Semi-major Axis = 10176 km
Eccentricity = 0.740
Inclination = 82°.52
Right Ascension of the Ascending Node = 350°.16
Argument of Periapse = 119°.16
Periapsis latitude = 59°.997
Orbital Period = 12h 4m 16.9s

MESSENGER was launched 2004 August Aug 3 and used gravity assist from Earth, Venus and Mercury itself (three times) following its original departure from Earth. During the Mercury encounters, it conducted significant amounts of imaging and science.

An extremely contrived acronym, MESSENGER stands for Mercury, Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging.

NORAD: 2004-030A/28391

Messenger programme:

2011 Mar 18
ISS - Orbit Boost
on orbit
Successful firing of the two main engines of ATV 2's Orbital Control System for 882.5 seconds, producing a Δv of 2.22 m/s.

It raised the average ISS orbit height by about 3.7 kilometres. The new orbit - 356.3 x 371.8 kilometres, 91.56 minutes period at 51°.65 inclination (Russian measurement system).

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-09M, docked at the Pirs module. The event was controlled from Korolyov by TsUP (Mission Control Moscow).

2011 Mar 22
Japan Resumes Control of Kounotori and Kibo
Tsukuba, Japan
Control was handed over temporarily to a secondary control room at Houston, due to the after effects of the earthquake on March 11.

2011 Mar 22
USA 222 (Fastrac Satellite Pair) - Separation
on orbit
A pair of joined satellites orbited as part of the STP-26 mission 2010 Nov 20 separated from each other after several months of testing. The two satellites are known as FAST 1 (Sara Lily) and FAST 2 (Emma).

A previous attempt to separate them March 10 was postponed, and they did not repond to a separation command sent March 14.

Frequencies: 437.345 MHz (Sarah Lily) and 145.825 MHz ( Emma).

NORAD: 2010-062F/37227 (while still joined - catalogue update awaited).

2011 Mar 23
Tenth Anniversary of Mir Re-entry
Time shown is the point of atmospheric entry, final fragments hit the southern Pacific Ocean about 24 minutes later.


2011 Mar 24
Stardust Spacecraft Switched off
solar orbit
Event followed a 146 seconds duration firing of it's thruster in order to determine the amount of propellant remaining in the tanks. This was to compare theory with reality.

From NASA (hence the spelling):
"Launched on Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust had completed its prime mission back in January 2006. By that time, Stardust had already flown past an asteroid (Annefrank), flown halfway out to Jupiter to collect particle samples from the coma of a comet, Wild 2, and returned to fly by Earth to drop off a sample return capsule eagerly awaited by comet scientists.

"NASA then re-tasked the spacecraft to perform a bonus mission to fly past comet Tempel 1 to collect images and other scientific data.

"Stardust has traveled about 21 million kilometers (13 million miles) in its journey about the sun in the few weeks since the Valentine's day comet Tempel 1 flyby, making the grand total from launch to its final rocket burn about 5.69 billion kilometers (3.54 billion miles)."

2011 Mar 25
50th Anniversay of Korabl-Sputnik 5 Mission
Completion of this mission, 1961 March 25, ensured that Yuri Gagarin got into orbit 1961 April 12.


2011 Mar 26
USA 69 (Lacrosse 2) De-orbited
southern Pacific?
Radar reconnaissance satellite launched 1991 March 8. Operational (at least in part) for twenty years.

NORAD: 1991-017A/21147

Information source: Ted Molczan via Seesat-L list:

2011 Mar 28
HTV 2 (Kounotori 2) Undocking
Separation operations commenced 08:11 UTC when Kounotori was attached to the Space Station Remote manipulator System. Bolts were then released and Kounotori undocked.

2011 Mar 30
HTV 2 (Kounotori 2) Re-entry
Destructive re-entry with any major surviving structural fragments falling into the southern Pacific Ocean about 12 minutes later. Less dense fragments would have continued to fall through the atmosphere for several minutes longer.

REBRKounotori made two orbit adjustments after its departure from the ISS, followed by a final, seven minute, retro firing at 02:37 UTC. It carried the heat-shielded Re-entry Breakup Recorder (REBR-1) that returned temperature, acceleration and position data during passage through the atmosphere. REBR-1 was a US device built under the DoD Space Test Program - SteP. An exploded view is shown on the right.

REBR-2, also carried into orbit aboard Kounotori, was unloaded at the ISS to be packed into ATV-2 ready for it's departure and re-entry 2011 June.

2011 Apr 1
Chang'e 2 - Six Months
lunar orbit
China's Chang'e 2 reaches its design target of six months in space, most of which is in orbit around the Moon. All systems are fully working and the mission has moved into Phase 2.

One major, completed, target was photography, from 15 km altitude, of the Sinus Iridium area - the potential landing site for Chang'e 3 around 2013.

Phase 2 will include repeating the Sinus Iridium photography. It is undecided whether Chang'e 2 will end its life around the Moon or if it will be directed to fly into deep space as a test mission.

2011 Apr 2
ATV 2 Engines used for ISS Debris Avoidance
The engines of ATV 2 were fired for approximately 700 seconds to shift the ISS trajectory. It avoided a potential collision with an item of debris from the 2009 Feb collision between Cosmos 2252 and Iridium 33.

Stabilisation of the ISS during the manoeuvre was performed using the thrusters of Zvezda and Progress M-09M. It raised the average altitude of the ISS by 800m. The new orbit is 351.3 x 371.2 km, period (nodal) - 91.52 minutes, inclination 51°.67 (Russian measurement system).

2011 Apr 4
MESSENGER - Start of Science Mission
Orbit around Mercury
Follows on-orbit testing since arrival - 2011 Mar 18.

2011 Apr 4
Soyuz TMA-21 (Yuri Gagarin) Launch
Soyuz FG, Baikonur LC-1
Successful launch of crew towards the ISS - Aleksandr Samokutayev (Soyuz commander), Andrei Borisienko and Ronald Garan (NASA) . To mark the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight, the vehicle is named "Yuri Gagarin".

Precise time - 22:18:20 UTC. TsUP reported the initial orbit as 201.20 x 254.69 km, nodal period 88.76 minutes, inclination 51°.65 (Russian measurement system).

Delayed from Mar 30 by a fault in the onboard Kvant-V communications control system, detected during testing.

Frequencies: 121.75, 166.0, 922.763 MHz. See:

NORAD: 2011-012A/37382

Orbit details:

2011 Apr 6
Soyuz TMA-21 Docking
After a fly-round of the ISS, Soyuz TMA-21 docked successfully, in automatic mode, at the Poisk module nine minutes ahead of the target time. The result was a saving of 5kg propellant aboard Soyuz. ISS was above Chile at the time.

Precise time 23:09:17 UTC.

Electrical connection was made at 23:16:15 UTC after the Soyuz docking probe was retracted. Hooks and latches were engaged at 23:20 UTC.

Hatches were opened and the crew entered the ISS Apr 7, 02:13 UTC.

2011 Apr 9
Beidou 2-08 (Beidou IGSO3) Launch
CZ-3A, Xichang SC
Successful launch to 55° inclination geosynchronous transfer orbit of satellite for China's navigation satellite system, known as "Compass". It will also provide time and messaging services for the Asia-Pacific region from a 55° inclined geosynchronous orbit that crosses the equator at 118° east longitude.

On Apr 11 around 09:30 UTC, Beidou 2-08 transferred itself to geosynchronus drift orbit and started to move into formation with Beidou 2-05 (2010-036A/36828, launched 2010 Jul 31) and Beidou 2-07 (2010-068A/37256, launched 2010 Dec 17).

Combining these with the four Beidou-2 satellites in equatorial geosynchronous orbit, China will have a navigation system covering the Asia-Pacific region. Further launches will augment it and eventually provide a global network.

Precise launch time 20:47:04 UTC.

Orbit data:

NORAD: 2011-013A/37384

2011 Apr 11
Beidou 2-08 - in Geosynchronous Drift Orbit
on orbit
Beidou 2-08 transferred itself to geosynchronous drift orbit and started to move into formation with Beidou 2-05 (2010-036A/36828, launched 2010 Jul 31) and Beidou 2-07 (2010-068A/37256, launched 2010 Dec 17).

The time is approximate.

2011 Apr 12
Cosmonautics Day
Anniversary of the first Human spaceflight - Yuri Gagarin in Vostok. Established 1962 April 9 by Decree of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.


Vostok Chronology:

2011 Apr 12
Kedr Amateur Satellite
To mark the Gagarin anniversary, the Kedr amateur satellite was planned to be switched on while still inside the ISS, and using an external transmit aerial.

In the event, there was insufficient power in the onboard battery due either to excessive power consumption during testing, or it being inadvertently left switched on. There was little formal information resulting in much confusion among radio amateurs trying to detect the transmitter. There were no positive reports of signal reception.

Kedr's battery is a standard Orlan spacesuit battery and, although the satellite was reportedly not built with re-charging in mind, the terminals are accessible to allow it to be done before the planned release into independent orbit during an EVA, 2011 July.

2011 Apr 12
50th Anniversary of the First Piloted Vostok Mission
1961 April 12 - Yuri Gagarin was launched into orbit for a mission lasting 108 minutes and one circuit of the Earth.

2011 Apr 12
STS-1 Launch - 1981
Shuttle Columbia, LC-39A, Kennedy SC
30th Anniversary of first Space Shuttle launch.

Precise time - 12:00:03 UTC.

2011 Apr 13
Beidou 2-08 Reaches Operational Orbit
on orbit
Final firing of manoeuvring thrusters puts it in phase with the other two Beidou satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbit.

2011 Apr 15
USA 229 (NOSS 3-5) Launch
Atlas V 411, Vandenberg AFB LC-3E
Successful launch to orbit of a Navy Ocean Surveillance Satellite (NOSS) to 1100 km circular orbit at 63°.4 inclination.

Amateur visual satellite observers detected the usual secondary satellite, released from USA 229 within a few hours of launch. They will orbit close together as a pair. The second satellite has been catalogued by NORAD but as "debris" rather than a named satellite.

The launch occurred at the beginning of a ten minute window. The final stage of the launch vehicle was de-orbited within one orbit of the Earth so was not catalogued.

Pushed back from Mar 31 but no reason given, then postponed one day from Apr 13, 04:51 UTC to allow time for replacement of a piece of avionics equipment in the launch vehicle.

2011-014A/37386 (USA 229 p/l 1)
2011-014B/37391 (USA 229 p/l 2)

2011 Apr 15
Sea-based Missile Interception Tests - Monitored by STSS Demonstrator
Ronald Reagan Missile Test Range, Marshall Islands
An intermediate-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Reagan Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The target flew in a northeasterly direction. Following target launch, a forward-based AN/TPY-2 X-band transportable radar, located on Wake Island, detected and tracked the threat missile and transmitted remote target data to the USS O’Kane. The destroyer, located to the west of Hawaii, used the data to develop a fire control solution and launch the SM-3 Block IA missile approximately 11 minutes after the target was launched.

The STSS Demonstrator Satellites tracked the target from midcourse to termination.

2011 Apr 17
Beidou 2-08 Enters Service
on orbit
Navigation systems are switched on

2011 Apr 19
Salyut 1 Launched 1971
Forty years later, the Zvezda module of the ISS, built round the same design of body shell, is in orbit as part of the ISS.


2011 Apr 20
ResourceSat 2, YouthSat and X-Sat Launch
PSLV (PSLV-C16), Satish Dhawan (Sriharikota) SC
Successful launch of 1206 kg Indian remote sensing satellite to sun-synchronous orbit. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, the orbit achieved was 809 x 816 km, 98°.77 inclination against a target of 805 x 821 km, 98°.72. An orbit trimming manouevre Apr 25 set up the operational orbit at 813 x 825 km, 98°.78.

X-Sat, ResourceSat 2 and YouthSatResourceSat 2 has a five year design life and it will be used for crop forecasting and military reconnaissance. The satellite also carries COMDEV, a joint Indian/Canadian receiver for AIS (Automatic Information System) transmissions, used by shipping to pass position and status information.

It separated from the launch vehicle at 05:00 UTC, followed after a short interval by two auxiliary satellites:

YouthSat is a 92 kg satellite, developed by students of Russian and Indian universities to study the relationship between solar variability and thermosphere-lonosphere changes. The satellite has a two-year life and carries two Indian and one Russian payloads.

X-Sat is a 106 kg satellite developed by Nangyang Technological University of Singapore to take photographs aimed at measuring soil erosion and other environmental changes on Earth, and to prove the technology used.

Postponed from a date in January, and then from February 24.

The photo shows ResourceSat 2 stacked for launch with the small satellites: X-Sat (left) and YouthSat (right).

2010-015A/37387 - ResourceSat 2
2010-015B/37388 - YouthSat
2010-015C/37389 - X-Sat

Orbit details:

2011 Apr 22
Progress M-09M Undockng
Progress M-09M undockingThe undocking command was issued at 11:38 UTC with separation occurring three minutes later. Station attitude was set up and maintained by the thrusters of ATV 2 while the undocking was under way. ATV 2 then controlled the ISS back to its operational attitude.

The photo was taken by ISS Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutiaev.

2011 Apr 22
Yahsat 1A and Intelsat New Dawn Launch
Ariane 5ECA (VA-201), CSG ELA-3
Successful launch of two comsats into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Liftoff was at the beginning of a 65 minute launch window. The final shutdown of the Ariane upper stage was after 25 min 21 sec.

Yahsat1AYahsat 1A was released from the launch vehicle af L+ 27 min 27 sec.

The satellite was commissioned by the United Arab Emirates and is for use by government and commercial customers in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Southwest Asia. It will be stationed at 52°.5 east longitude and should operate for 15 years:

Intelsat New DawnIntelsat New Dawn was released at L+ 35 min 03 sec. Seventeen minutes later, at 22:29 UTC, Intelsat reported acquisition of signal from the newly-deployed satellite.

It is a commercial comsat providing voice, wireless network, Internet and media applications services to Africa to be stationed at 32°.8 east longitude and should operate for 15 years:

An earlier launch attempt Mar 30 was unsuccessful when the Ariane 5's main engine fired on time but detection of incorrect operation of an actuator inhibited firing of the solid rocket boosters and the main engine shut down automatically after 7s.

2011-016B/37393 - Yahsat 1A
2011-016A/37392 - Intelsat New Dawn

Orbit details:

2011 Apr 25
Intelsat New Dawn in Geosynchronous Drift Orbit
on orbit
Completion of manoeuvre from geosynchronous transfer orbit following firing on onboard thrusters.

Launched Apr 22.

2011 Apr 26
Progress M-09M Retrofire
After undocking Apr 22, Progress M-09M conducted an autonomous mission under the Radar-Progress experiment. Several firings of thrusters were made in order for their ionospheric effects to be observed from the ground using radar techniques.

Retro-fire was of 125 seconds duration, giving a Δv of 67.2 m/s. Entry into the atmosphere was 13:15 UTC, Any surviving fragents fell into the southern Pacific Ocean at 13:22:53 UTC near 38°.9 south, 128°.8 west.

2011 Apr 27
Cosmos 1222 Re-entry
on orbit
Natural Decay of defunct Tselina-D electronic intelligence gathering satellite. Launched 1980 Nov 21.

NORAD: 1980-093A/12071

2011 Apr 27
Progress M-10M Launch
Soyuz U, Baikonur SC LC-1
Sucessful launch of cargo vehicle carrying supplies to the ISS. Orbit achieved: 193.83 x 245.91 kilometers, 88.62 min nodal period, inclination 51°.64 (Russian measurement system).

Precise time 13:05:21 UTC.

Frequencies: 121.75 MHz (TORU if used), 166.000 MHz (+/-128 kHz), 922.763 MHz.

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

NORAD: 2011-017A/37396

Orbit details:

2011 Apr 29
Progress M-10M Docking
Rendezvous, and matching orbit to the ISS occurred at 14:06 UTC then a slow approach led to an automatic docking with the Pirs module at 14:28:44. Hooks and latches were engaged shortly after.

Target time was 14:29 UTC ±3 minutes.

2011 May 3
Dawn - Start of Vesta Approach Stage
solar orbit
Approaching asteroid/protoplanet Vesta with arrival July 16. Current separation 1.21 million kilometres.

Dawn is a NASA mission, launched 2007 Sep 27 from Cape Canaveral AFS by Delta II rocket.

NORAD: 2007-043A/32249

2011 May 4
Meridian 4 launch
Soyuz 2.1a, Plesetesk SC LC-43/4
Successful launch of military/government communications satellite into Molniya-type eccentric orbit - 1000 x 39700 km, 63° inclination, 724 minutes period.

Meridian combines the military and civilian tasks of the current Molniya-1 and Molniya-3 satellites, together with the clandestine communications function of the LEO Parus satellites.

Three firings of the launcher's Fregat upper stage were used to achieve the drift orbit from where Meridian will eventually settle down into its 718 minute period, operational, one. The Gherman Titov command and control centre reported successful deployment of aerials and solar panels, and receipt of radio signals when the satellite was released into separate orbit at 19:59 UTC.

Precise launch time 17:41:33 UTC.


Orbit details:

2011 May 5
Soyuz Test - Virtual Launch from CSG
Successful test with a simulated launch, replicating a typical mission for a commercial telecommunications satellite payload.

After virtual liftoff the exercise reproduced a nominal 30-minute flight of Soyuz, concluding with a representative deployment of a 2,570-kg. broadband services relay satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit by the vehicle's Fregat upper stage.

The orbital parameters for the virtual mission were:
- Perigee: 250 km.
- Apogee: 35,950 km.
- Inclination: 6 deg.

2011 May 5
ISS - Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
ATV 2's Orbital Control System fired for a few seconds longer than planned 243 seconds, producing a Δv in the region of 0.6 m/s.

It raised the average ISS orbit height by about 1 kilometre. TsUP issued very precise figures for the resulting orbit: 345.366 x 362.528 km, nodal period - 91.398 minutes, inclination - 51°.667 (Russian measurement system).

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-10M, docked at the Pirs module.

The purpose was to refine the ground track for return to Earth of Soyuz TMA-20 late May.

2011 May 6
Kunpeng 1 Sub-orbital Launch
Tianying 3C, Hainan Island, China
First launch of a geophysical rocket under the Meridian Project. 215 seconds after launch, Kunpeng 1 reached apogee at 196.6 kilometres. At 420 seconds of flight, it re-entered the atmosphere and the mission ended.

Meridian has a ground-based network for monitoring phenomena associated with the impact of charged particles and radiation from the Sun on the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field. It has 15 ground stations equipped with magnetometers, lidars (laser devices for sensing the atmosphere), spectrometers and different types of radars. They are generally located in the neighbourhood of 120° east Longitude and 30° north Latitude within China.

2011 May 7
USA 230 (SBIRS GEO) Launch
Atlas V 401, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station LC-41
Succesful launch of Space-Based Infra Red System missile launch detection satellite for geosynchronous orbit ( SBIRS GEO 1). It carries a combination of scanning and staring sensors with greater sensitivity than previous satellite types. The scanning sensor will provide a wide area view in search of missile launches and natural terrestrial events, while the staring sensor will be used to observe areas of particular interest with enhanced sensitivity

The vehicle is part of a developing satellite constellation. Two payloads are already on satellites in Molniya-type HEO with apogees above the northern hemisphere (USA 184 and USA 200). A second SBIRS GEO launch is aimed for mid-2012.

Launch was at the opening of a 40 minute launch window. SBIRS separated from the launch vehicle at 18:53:20 UTC. Geosynchronous transfer orbit parameters of LV taken from webcast screen - 185 x 35816 km, incl: 21°.636, Ω: 319°.847, ω: 178°.025, e: .730792.

Launch was postponed from May 6 due to weather when cumulus cloud cover exceeded acceptable limits.

NORAD: 2011-019A/37481 - element sets are Classified *

Orbit details:

* A single element set was issued by Spacetrack, possibly in error, and it subsequently disappeared from the public part of the catalogue. Element sets continued to be published for the Centaur rocket stage.

2011 May 10
WIRE Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay - launched 1999 March 5

NORAD: 1999-011A/25646

2011 May 12
Daichi (ALOS) Ceases Operation
on orbit
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) had been trying to re-establish proper communications with Daichi for about three weeks after it developed a power generation problem.

A command was sent to turn off the transmitter and disconnect the batteries.

Daichi was launched on 2006 Jan 24 with a design life of three years and an Earth observation mission that included mapping, monitoring natural disasters and climate monitoring.

NORAD: 2006-002A/28931

2011 May 16
STS-134 Launch
Shuttle Endeavour, LC-39A, Kennedy SC
Successful launch to orbit for a planned 14-day ISS mission to deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-3, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS), a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for the Dextre robotic helper. Four EVAs are also planned.

Crew consists of Mark Kelly (Commander), Greg Johnson (Pilot), Mike Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff (Flight Engineers).

Launch was at the mid-point of a ten minute window, precise time 12:56:28 UTC.

2010 Jul 1 - mission slipped from 2010 Nov because of the STS-133 delay which led to a further slippage to avoid launch conflicts with other ISS missions. Further pushed back by the STS-133 delays, then re-scheduled again to avoid being present at ISS for the already-planned Progress M-10M arrival April 29.

During the final hours of countdown for an Apr 29 launch, an electrical short circuit affected operation of a fuel line heater associated with the No 1 Auxiliary Power Unit. The launch was called off to allow diagnosis, and change-out of a faulty controller unit.

NORAD: 2011-020A/37577

Orbit details:

2011 May 18
STS-134 Docking
Successful capture by Endeavour of the docking mechanism on the forward port of the ISS Harmony module.

Retraction of the docking ring and engagement of hooks and latches followed, with hard docking and sealing of the interface occurring at 10:24 UTC.

2011 May 20
ISS EVA - US Segment
Exit via Quest by Feustel and Chamitoff of the STS-134 crew.

The main tasks were:
1 - retrieve two Materials International Space Station Experiments (MISSE) that were delivered to the station in November 2009 and installed during one of the STS-129 spacewalks,
2 - install a new MISSE package,
3 - install a Crew Equipment and Translation Aid cart light on the S3 segment of the station’s truss,
4 - prepare a cooling loop for topping up during the EVA on May 5,
5 - install an external wireless communications antenna.

Planned duration was 6h 30m but the EVA ended at 13:29 UTC after being cut slightly short for safety reasons as a result of a failed carbon dioxide sensor in Chamitoff's space suit. It resulted in a few minor tasks not being completed.

2011 May 20
Telstar 14R Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC
Succesful lift-off' and launch into geosynchronous transfer orbit, of a Canadian communications satellite offering international services.

Also known as Estrela do Sul 2, Telstar 14R will be positioned at 63° west longitude, replacing Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul that suffered a problem when one of its two solar arrays failed to deploy fully, limiting its operational capacity.

May 25, the satellite owner, Telesat Canada, announced that Telstar 14R had suffered a similar problem, and would also be limited in capacity as a result.

Telstar 14R was to provide Ku-band services to Brazil through beams covering the Continental United States (including the Gulf of Mexico and northern Caribbean), the Southern Cone of South America, the Andean region (including Central America and southern Caribbean), and the North and Mid-Atlantic Ocean. It has 46 transponders in total. Telesat Canada announced that service would be possible but would have to be dealt with by switching transponders rather than using the full array simultaneously.

The satellite separated from the Briz-M stage 9h 13m after launch - May 21, 04:28 UTC.

Commercial launch provided by International Launch Services:

NORAD: 2011-021A/37602

Orbit details:

2011 May 20
ST 2 and GSat 8 Launch
Ariane 5ECA (VA-202), CSG ELA-3
Successful dual launch, at the opening of a 92 minute launch window, of satellites to geosynchronous transfer orbit. ST 2 separated from the launch vehicle at 21:05 UTC, followed by GSat 8 at 21:09 UTC.

GSat 8 (also known as INSAT-4G) carries 18 Ku band transponders. It will also carry a GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload - a system to improve the accuracy of a navigation receivers by providing additional reference signals. The satellite has a mission life of 12 years and will be positioned at 55º E longitude.

ST 2 (SingTel 2) for will be located at 88° east longitude and will provide fixed and mobile services, along with IP-based voice and data services for businesses, particularly for operators offering direct-to-home services, and shipping companies in Asia and the Middle East.

May 17, Arianespace announced a one day delay from the planned May 19 due to a need for "additional checks" of the Ariane 5.

2011-022A/37605 - GSat 8
2011-022B/37606 - ST 2

Orbit details:

2011 May 22
ISS EVA - US Segment
Exit via Quest by Feustel and Fincke of the STS-134 crew about 10 min ealier than scheduled.

The main tasks were:
1 - fill cooling loops with ammonia and clean up after (prepararory work done on EVA two days earlier),
2 - lubricate the Port Solar Alpha Rotary Joint,
3 - install a cover on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator camera,
4 - lubricate the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator latching end effector,
5 - install the Radiator Grapple Bar Stow Beam on the S1 truss segment.

Planned duration approximately 6h 30m but a review of progress at the near-five-hour point resulted in an extension to 7h 30m to take account of problems with the lubrication task. In the event, it lasted 8h 7m until 14:12 UTC.

2011 May 23
Chang'e 2 Completes Further Work
lunar orbit
Having finished its planned six month lunar mission 2011 April 1, Chang'e 2 has completed two further tasks:

1 - imaging of the Moon's north and south polar regions,

2 - further imaging of the planned Chang'e 3 landing site, in the Sinus Iridium, from a height of 15 km.

2011 May 23
Soyuz TMA-20 Undocking
Soyuz TMA-20 undocked from the Rassvet module, carrying the Expedition 27 crew - Dmitry Kondratyev, Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli.

Hooks and latches were released at 21:32 UTC. Undocking was at precisely 21:35:17 UTC.

It was the first Soyuz departure to occur with a Shuttle docked to the ISS. Paulo Nespoli took still and HD video images of the complex from a distance of 180-200 metres while Soyuz TMA-20 kept station with it. During the session, the ISS rotated to allow different views to be captured. The only ISS spacecraft or component not represented was Japan's HTV cargo tranporter.

In order to provide the photo opportunity, the undocking time of Soyuz TMA-20 was brought forward from 23:06 UTC.

2011 May 24
2010 November Proton Failure - Report Issued
A report issued May 23 concluded that the mission failure was due to negligence and flawed/inadequate documentation.

Russia's Prosecutor General opens a criminal case to prosecute those seen as responsible. Already, six high-level managers have lost their jobs.

2011 May 24
Soyuz TMA-20 Retrofire
on orbit
At 01:36:51 UTC, the Soyuz retro rocket engine fired for 255.4 seconds to provide a Δv of 115.2 m/s.

2011 May 24
Soyuz TMA-20 Landing
Successful touchdown - on target, 147 km east-south-east of Dzhezkazgan.

The crew was flown to Karaganda from where Kondratyev was flown to the Gagarin Training Centre at Korolyov, and Coleman and Nespoli were flown to the Johnson SC in Houston.

2011 May 25
NASA Ends Attempts to Contact "Spirit"
A radio transmission ending today was the last in a series of attempts to re-establish contact.

Extensive communications activities during the preceding 10 months explored the possibility that Spirit might reawaken as the solar energy available to it increased fter a stressful Martian winter without much sunlight.

2011 May 25
ISS EVA - US Segment
Exit via Quest by Feustel and Fincke of the STS-134 crew,about three minutes ahead of schedule.

The main tasks were:
1 - install and hook up the Power Data and Grapple Fixture on the Zarya module,
2 - install a video signal converter on the Zarya module,
3 - install stand-by power cables between the Harmony node and the Zarya module, running via the outside of Unity,
4 - photograph Zarya's thrusters and some external experiments on the hull.

Duration approximately 6h 54m, ending at 12:37 UTC - slightly longer than the planned 6h 30m..

2011 May 27
ISS EVA - US Segment
Exit via Quest by Fincke and Chamitoff of the STS-134 crew about 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled.

The main tasks were:
1 - attach Endeavour's Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) to the ISS starboard truss as a permanent fixture on the station,
2 - change the grapple fixtures on the OBSS to make it usable on the ISS,
3 - remove fixings from the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator arm on ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 3 (transferred fro Endeavour to the ISS earlier in the mission), and add thermal insulation to it.

Duration was 7h 24m, with completion at 11:39 UTC.

2011 May 29
ISS - Orbit Adjustment
Endeavour's thrusters were used to provide a Δv of 0.55 m/s, and raise the average orbit height by 800 metres.

2011 May 30
STS-134 Undocking
Precise time: 03:55:28 UTC (unconfirmed).

After undocking, Endeavour backed away, and then returned to within 300 metres of the ISS in order to gather data for the approach trajectory chosen for the proposed Orion spacecraft on ISS missions.

It involved testing a laser measurement system under an experiment called STORRM (Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation). Range data was gathered using low-power laser pulses returned from reflective patches the ISS docking port.

Final departure was at 08:38 UTC.

2011 Jun 1
STS-134 Retro-fire
Engine firing lasted for 158 seconds for a Δv of 90 m/s.

Precise time: 05:29:43 UTC.

Followed by re-entry and landing at KSC.

2011 Jun 1
STS-134 Landing
Kennedy SC Runway
Precise touch down time: 06:34:51 with wheel stop at 06:35:36 UTC.

2011 Jun 2
ISS Orbit Boost
Firing of the ATV-2 thrusters for 1011 seconds. As a result, the ISS received a Δv of 2.2 m/s, raising the orbit by nearly 4 kilometres.

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-10M, docked at the Pirs module. The event was controlled from Korolyov by TsUP (Mission Control Moscow).

New orbit: 347.0 x 363.7 km, 91.4 minutes, 51°.7 degrees (Russian measurement system).

Before ATV-2 departs, and during the month of June, a further four firings of its engines will be used with combined Δv of about 9m/s to raise the ISS to a new operational altitude near 400 km.

2011 Jun 7
Soyuz TMA-02M Launch
Soyuz-FG ,Baikonur SC LC-1
Successful launch of crew to ISS - Sergei Volkov (Soyuz Commander) , Michael Fossum (Commander, Expedition 29), Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).).

Precise time: 20:12:45 UTC. TsUP gave the initial orbit as 199.98 x 257.78 kilometres, nodal period 88.80 minutes, inclination 51°.67.

This is the first test flight of Soyuz TMA-M (The initial Soyuz TMA-M mission was a Qualification Flight and not all systems were uprated). It was originally planned for May 30 but delayed while analysis of the first Soyuz TMA-M flight was completed.

NORAD: 2011-023A/37633

Orbit details:

Frequencies: 121.750 MHz, 166.0 MHz, 922.763 MHz.

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

2011 Jun 8
Rosetta - Commanded to go into Hibernation
deep space
A command was sent from Earth to shut down all systems with the exception of the computer and some heaters. Confirmation of successful entry into hibernation came at 14:13 UTC when radio contact was lost as anticipated.

The vehicle, launched 2003, will coast for 31 months until an onboard clock issues a wake up call 2014 January 20. Rosetta's solar panels cannot produce enough electricity to power the probe fully during this period because of the distance from the Sun.

Rosetta's target is a 2014 July rendezvous with Comet 67-P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the release of a surface lander.

2011 Jun 9
Chang'e 2 Departs from the Moon
lunar orbit
Spare propellant aboard the spaceraft allowed its thrusters to be used to provide sufficient energy for it to break free from lunar orbit. It is headed for the the Earth-Sun system's L2 Lagrange Point, about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. Chang'e 2 is expected to arrive there September 2.

It is expected that communication can be maintained at least until the end of 2011 to allow testing of China's deep space network. It is hoped that it will survive the deep space environment until late 2012 by which time two new ground stations will have been completed.

Having finished its planned six month lunar mission 2011 April 1, Chang'e 2 undertook two further tasks:

1 - imaging of the Moon's north and south polar regions,

2 - further imaging of the planned Chang'e 3 landing site, in the Sinus Iridium, from a height of 15 km.

2011 Jun 9
Soyuz TMA-02M Docking
Successful docking at the Rassvet port. Approach and docking was automatic, with Soyuz compensating for a slight loss in thrust in one of the rear-mounted thrusters.

Precise time: 21:17:52, about four minutes ahead of schedule.

Hooks were engaged at 21:28 UTC with latches being closed at 21:30:36 UTC, following retraction of the docking probe.

2011 Jun 10
SAC-D Launch
Delta 2 7320, VAFB SLC-2
Successful launch of satellite built by the space agency of Argentina (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, or CONAE).

Eight instruments will collect environmental data for a range of applications, including studies of natural hazards, air quality, land processes and epidemiology. One of the sensors is NASA's Aquarius instrument cluster, designed to operate for three of SAC-D's planned five-year life span.

Lift off was at the opening of a five minute window at 14:20:13 UTC. SAC-D separated from the launch vehicle at 15:16:55 UTC, following a second firing of the upper stage to circularise the orbit at 657 km altitude - sun-synchronous (98° inclination).

2011 Jun 8, a postponement of 24 hrs was announced when an anomaly was detected while checking the Delta 2. The software controlling the launch vehicle's reaction to winds was in error.

Launch by United Launch Alliance.

NORAD: 2011-024A/37673

Orbit details:


2011 Jun 12
ISS Orbit Boost (Part 1)
Successful firing of the ATV-2 thrusters for 2166 seconds to raise the apogee of the ISS orbit by about 19 km.

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-10M, docked at the Pirs module. The event was controlled from Korolyov by TsUP (Mission Control Moscow).

2011 Jun 12
ISS Orbit Boost (Part 2)
Succesful firing of the ATV-2 thrusters for 2412 seconds to circularise the ISS orbit. Together with the firing from earlier in the day, it resulted in the ISS orbit being raised from an average 345.4 km to 364.6 km. Total Δv from the two impulses was 11 m/s.

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-10M, docked at the Pirs module. The event was controlled from Korolyov by TsUP (Mission Control Moscow).

A second pair of engine firings by ATV-2, planned for Jun 15, will add a further 15 km or so to the orbit.

2011 Jun 15
Rasad 1 Launch
Safir 1-A, Semnan SC
Rasad 115.3 kg microsatellite for Earth imaging with 200m resolution, launched into approx 236 x 299 km near-circular orbit at 55° inclination. As an advance over Omid, its predecessor, Rasad 1 was equipped with solar cells covering its whole body and a gravity-gradient stabilisation boom that was extended after it reached orbit.

Iran's projections for Rasad 1's launch date were put back several times during the course of 2011. Indications were initially that Rasad might be launched as a dual payload with the larger, 50 kg, Fajr 1 satellite. Iran has also indicated testing delays with Fajr 1 so the dual launch may have been taken off the schedule.

Precise launch time: 09:15:03 UTC - as published by Iran..

NORAD: 2011-025A/37675

Orbit details:

Transmission frequency: 465.0 MHz as was used by Omid - Iran's first satellite.

2011 Jun 15
ISS Orbit Boost
Successful firing of the ATV-2 thrusters for 2380 seconds for a Δv of 5.8 m/s to raise apogee of the ISS orbit.

The firing resulted in an orbit - 372.5 x 390.3 km, nodal period - 91.99 min, inclination - 51°.66 (Russian measurement system).

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-10M, docked at the Pirs module. The event was controlled from Korolyov by TsUP (Mission Control Moscow).

2011 Jun 17
ISS Orbit Boost
Firing of the ATV-2 thrusters for about 2250 seconds to raise perigee of the ISS orbit by about 14 km.

Station orientation during the firing was maintained by the thrusters of the Zvezda module and of Progress M-10M, docked at the Pirs module. The event was controlled from Korolyov by TsUP (Mission Control Moscow).

2011 Jun 20
ATV 2 Undocking
Departure from the Zvezda rear port - precise time: 14:46:30.

Undocking followed disconnection of all electrical, electronic and hydraulic connectors at 14:39.

2011 Jun 20
Zhongxing 10 (Chinasat 10) Launch
CZ-3B/E, Xichang SC
Successful launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit of Chinese communications satellite to be stationed at 110°.5 east longitude.

The satellite separated from the launch vehicle 29 minutes after lift off.

NORAD: 2011-026A/37677

Orbit details:

2011 Jun 21
Progress M-11M Launch
Soyuz U, Baikonur SC LC-1
Successful launch with supplies to ISS. Precise time - 14:38:15 UTC.

Orbit reported as 193.96 x 240.09 km, nodal period 88.54 min, inclination 51°.64 (Russian measurement system).

NORAD: 2011-027A/37679

Orbit details:

Frequencies: 121.75 MHz (TORU if used), 166.000 MHz (+/-128 kHz), 922.763 MHz.

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

2011 Jun 21
ATV 2 Retrofire and Re-entry
Initial retrofire was followed two orbits later by a second firing of ATV-2's thrusters at 20:05 UTC that forced perigee into the atmosphere.

Destructive re-entry occurred over the southern Pacific Ocean. Final radio contact was at 20:41:39 UTC near 80 km altitude, and any surviving fragments hit the water surface at around 20:50 UTC.

ATV-2 carried the second heat-shielded Re-entry Breakup Recorder (REBR-2). It was a US device built under the DoD Space Test Program (SteP) to record temperatures, accelerations and position data during passage through the atmosphere. At about 18 km altitude it transmitted its collected data via an Iridium satellite telephone connection.

REBR-2 was carried into orbit by Japan's HTV-2 along with REBR-1 that stayed aboard, and monitored, the HTV-2 re-entry.

More-detailed description:

2011 Jun 22
QZSS-1 (Michibiki) Enters Operational Service
on orbit
The satellite's operator, JAXA, removed the "alert" flag from Michibiki's positional data transmissions, allowing its signals to be used by commercial GPS receivers.

Michibiki was launched 2010 Sep 11 into a quasi-geosynchronous orbit, see:

NORAD: 2010-045A/37158

2011 Jun 22
Missile Test Launch
Minuteman III, Vandenberg AFB LF-10
The target area was at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site near Kwajalein atoll.

Precise time: 13:34:59.

2011 Jun 23
Progress M-11M Docking
Successful automatic docking with the aft port of Zvezda.

Precise time - 16:37:03.

2011 Jun 27
Cosmos 2472 (Kobalt-M) Launch
Soyuz-U, Plesetsk SC LC-16
Military imaging reconnaissance satellite, sometimes referred to as 'Yantar'.

It achieved low earth orbit at 82° inclination eight minutes after lift off. At 19:17 UTC. After two complete circuits of the Earth, the satellite came under the control of a dedicated ground station network. The long wait may indicate difficulties in establishing communication.

NORAD: 2011-028A/37726

Orbit details:

2011 Jun 27
ARTEMIS P1 Enters Lunar Orbit
ARTEMIS P1 (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) is successfully manoeuvred into lunar orbit.

Over the next three months a series of period reduction maneuvers will move the spacecraft into an orbit of 27.5 hours, similar to the ARTEMIS P2 but moving in the opposite direction. ARTEMIS P2 is due to arrive at the Moon Jul 18.

The satellites will fly close to the lunar surface once per orbit studying the magnetic field – approaching anywhere from within 12 to 240 miles of the surface in a belt ranging 20 degrees above and below the equator.

The ARTEMIS mission uses two of the five in-orbit spacecraft from the NASA THEMIS mission that were launched to high orbit in 2007 and successfully completed their work in 2010. The other three THEMIS craft are continuing their original mission.


2004-004B/30581 - (formerly named THEMIS B)

2011 Jun 28
ISS - Debris Near Miss
Roscosmos reports that an unknown object of undetermined size got close to the International Space Station. The ISS crew was ordered to take their shelter in the two docked Soyuz craft until the object had passed by.

2011 Jun 29
ISS Orbit Adjustment
Orbit adjustment using the thrusters of Progress M-11M.

They fired for 1985 seconds to provide a ΔV of 2.1 metres per second. It raised perigee by 7.2 kilometres to produce an orbit pf 383.98 x 397.58 kilometres, 92.20 minutes nodal period, 51°.66 inclination (Russian measurement system).

Attitude control was provided by the gyros in the US segment.

2011 Jun 30
USA 231 (ORS-1) Launch
Minotaur 1, Wallops Flight Facility LC-0B
Successful launch, delayed from the planned 00:28 UTC due to problems with ground support equipment. The launch slot was three hours long. The orbit is 400 km circular at 40° inclination.

ORS-1ORS-1 is a 450 kg satellite that is fitted with new electro-optical and infrared reconnaissance sensors designed to supplement data obtained by unmanned aerial systems and high-altitude aircraft operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The mission is described as relating to "battlespace awareness".

The sensors are based on those being demonstrated by TacSat-3 (2009-028A/35001 launched 2009 May 19). One of the imaging devices is derived from the unit designed for use for the U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aeroplane.

ORS-1 stands for "Operational Responsive Space-1". After a thirty day checkout, ORS-1 will be handed over to the US Air Force.

Delayed from successive dates in December, January, April and May. Launch attempt on Jun 29 cancelled due to weather conditions.

NORAD: 2011-029A/37728

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 1
ISS Orbit Adjustment
The thrusters of Progress M-11M were fired for 1771.9 second to provide a ΔV of 1.95 meters per second. As a result, the average height of the ISS orbit was increased by 3.5 kilometers to provide an orbit of 388.37 x 402.19 kilometres, 92.26 minutes nodal period, 51.66 degrees inclination (Russian measurement system).

The manoeuvre set up an optimum ground track for the upcoming STS-135 mission.

Attitude control during the manoeuvre was provided by the gyros in the US segment.

2011 Jul 2
OGO 5 Re-entry
Destructive re-entry following natural orbit decay.

NASA Orbiting Geophysical Observatory.

NORAD: 1968-014A/3138

2011 Jul 6
ERS-2 Retirement
on orbit
ESA science satellite for Earth observation. Switched off at end of life after more than 15 years in service.

NORAD: 1995-021A/23560

2011 Jul 6
Rasad 1 Re-entry
Destructive re-entry as a result of natural orbit decay. Iranian satellite launched 2011 Jun 15.

NORAD: 2011-025A/37675

2011 Jul 6
Shijian 11-03 (SJ-11-03) Launch
CZ-2C, Jiuquan SC
Reported as an "experimental satellite". Orbit details, taken together with an image showing it as 3-axis stabilised and having downward-facing sensors, indicates that the payload has an Earth observation rôle.

Orbit: 691 x 703 km, 98°.1 inclination, sun-synchronous with descending node at 10:45 local time.

Launch is out of sequence indicating there may have been a delay in preparations for SJ-11-02 that eventually went into orbit Jul 29.

Spacetrack lists six objects in orbit including the satellite and the final rocket stage.

NORAD: 2011-030A/37730

2011 Jul 8
STS-135 Launch
Shuttle Atlantis, LC-39A, Kennedy SC
ISS supply mission, including the Raffaello MLPM to carry equipment and consumables. Final shuttle mission to the ISS.

Launched delayed by 138 seconds when the timer stopped at T-31 seconds while proper retraction of a swing arm on the launch tower was checked after a sensor failed. Precise time: 15:29:04 UTC.

Crew consists of Christopher Ferguson (commander), Douglas Hurley (pilot), Rex Walheim (mission specialist) and Sandra Magnus (mission specialist).

2010 Jul 1 - mission slipped from 2010 Nov because of the STS-133 delay and a further need to avoid launch conflicts with other ISS missions. Further pushed back by the ongoing STS-133 delays.

NORAD: 2011-031A/37736

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 9
Missile Interception Tests - Monitored by STSS Demonstrator
Eastern Pacific Ocean
The Missile Defense Agency successfully completed a flight test involving the launch of a Short Range Air Launched Target (SRALT) fropped from a C-17 cargo plane at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division-Point Mugu Sea Range, California. The SRALT missile was deployed from a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft over the Pacific Ocean near St Nicholas Island, approximately 800 km west of the California coast.

The test was used as a target of opportunity for several emerging missile defense technologies. The two Space Tracking Surveillance System (STSS) demonstration satellites tracked the target and transmitted data to the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). It was the first demonstration of stereo acquisition and track handover of a short range target and showed the satellites' ability to track dim objects that have extremely short flight timelines.

2011 Jul 9
Chang'e 2 - Departure from Lunar Orbit
Destination - Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2. Precise time of engine firing - 08:50:05 UTC.

2011 Jul 10
STS-135 Docking
ISS Harmony Node.

Precise time - 15:07:24 UTC

2011 Jul 11
Tianlian 1-02 Launch
CZ-3C, Xichang SC
Launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit of a data relay satellite.

Once on station it will work with Tianlian 1-01 to provide a data relay, and measurement and control service, for Chinese satellites and space stations. An early task will be to support the launch and docking of Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 8 later in 2011.

Tianlian 1-01 was launched 2008 April 25 and is stationed at 77° east longitude.

NORAD: 2011-032A/37737

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 12
ISS EVA - US Segment
Exit via Quest by Ronald Garan and Michael Fossum of the ISS crew, about 40 minutes later than planned. It lasted 6hrs 31 min, almost exactly as planned, finishing at 19:53 UTC.

Tasks undertaken were:

1 - Retrieve a failed pump module from an external stowage platform and stow it in Atlantis’ cargo bay for return to Earth,

2 - Transfer the Robotic Refueling Mission experiment from the Atlantis payload bay to a platform on Dextre, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator,

3 - Deploy a portion of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) 8, which was installed during STS-134,

4 - Fix an electrical earth (ground) wire protruding from a Zarya module payload data grapple fixture, or PDGF, - a mounting position that the station’s robotic arm can attach to for access to the Russian segment that was installed during STS-134,

5 - Install a thermal protection cover on Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 to stay in place until it is needed for future commercial spacecraft missions to the ISS.

2011 Jul 13
Globalstar 2 (6 satellites) Launch
Soyuz-2-1a, Baikonur SC LC-31
Successful launch of a cluster of second generation LEO comsats into 920 kilometre circular orbit at 52°.0 inclination. Precise time: 02:27:04 UTC.

Commercial launch managed by Arianespace subsidiary Starsem.

Original launch attempt postponed, because of a technical problem with an item of equipment on the launch pad, a few seconds before planned lift-off on Jul 11, 02:58 UTC.

The Fregat stage fired twice, once at about 10 minutes into the mission and again 50 minutes later to circularise the orbit. After satellite separation, it finished its mission with retrofire followed by re-entry and destruction through frictional heating.

The satellite dispenser carried two vehicles on its upper section that were released 98.6 minutes after lift off. Four satellites in the lower section were released simultaneously at 100.3 minutes.

2011-033A/37739 - Globalstar M083
2011-033B/37740 - Globalstar M088
2011-033C/37741 - Globalstar M091
2011-033D/37742 - Globalstar M085
2011-033E/37743 - Globalstar M081
2011-033F/37744 - Globalstar M089

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 15
GSat 12 Launch
PSLV-XL (PSLV-C17), Satish Dhawan (Sriharikota) SC LC-2
Successful launch of Indian communications satellite into a near-perfect sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit (284 x 21,020 km, 17°.9 inclination). An apogee boost motor aboard the satellite will perform five firings to inject it into geosynchronous orbit.

Lift off was at the opening of a ten minute launch window. Separation from the launch vehicle was about 20 minutes into the mission after shut down of the fourth stage and signals were received immediately. The solar panels then deployed as expected. The orbit was reported to have been achieved "very precisely".

GSat-12 is a replacement for INSAT-3B (launched 2000). It will be positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 83° east longitude, co-located with Insat-2E and Insat-4A, with an expected life of 7 years.

As well as providing standard communications transponders, it will provide service to Very Small Aperture Terminals. VSATs are used to transmit data such as point of sale transactions or to provide satellite internet access.

NORAD: 2011-034A/37746

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 15
SES 3 and Kazsat 2 Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC
Successful lift-off at 23:16:10 UTC. The two satellites were placed in distinctly different orbits. In this photo from ILS, KazSat is at the top and the Briz-M is at the bottom of the stack.

Commercial launch by International Launch Services (ILS).

SES 3 was released into geosynchronous transfer orbit Jul 16, 07:17 UTC and will raise itself to geosysnchronous altitude using an onboard rocket motor. It is a broadcasting satellite aimed to provide US services from a station at103° west longitude.

Kazsat 2 was released into near-circular geosynchronous drift orbit at 08:40 UTC after the sixth, and final, firing of the Briz-M rocket stage. It is a broadcasting and communications satellite for Kazakhstan, intended as a replacement for Kazsat 1 that failed in 2008 after two years of operation. It will be located at 86°.5 east longitude.

2011-035A/37748 - SES 3
2011-035B/37749 - Kazsat 2

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 16
DAWN - Arrival at Vesta
solar orbit
DAWN was about 16.000 km from Vesta when it became captured and began to orbit the minor planet. The time is approximate and is the officially announced value from NASA.

An unexpected shut-down of DAWN's ion thruster occurred Jun 27, possibly caused by a cosmic ray particle.It lasted about 29 hours. A combination of the problem and the corrective action needed meant Vesta arrival was about 15 hours earlier than planned.

The ion thruster system continues to operate and will be used to make DAWN follow a spiral trajectory, steadily reducing the orbit radius.

DAWN will orbit Vesta for twelve months and then depart for a rendezvous with minor planet Ceres where it will arrive 2015 February and conduct a six month science mission.

Instruments carried are a visible wavelength camera, a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer.

The goal of the mission is to compare the different evolutionary paths of Vesta and Ceres as well as to create a picture of the early solar system.

DAWN latest news:

2011 Jul 16
USA 232 (Navstar 66) Launch
Delta-4 355/Medium+, CCAFS LC-37B
Successful launch of Navstar GPS IIF-02 - a Generation 2, improved navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.

Launch was at the opening of a 20 minute launch window. The satellite was released into a high, circular drift orbit with an approximately 12 hr period at 10:14 UTC soon after completion of the third firing of the launch vehicle final stage. Boeing, the satellite's manufacturer, confirmed immediate receipt of signals through the Diego Garcia tracking station. The satellite now has the GPS registration SVN-63.

A 24 hr delay from a planned Jul 14 launch was needed to assess readiness. A further delay occurred when weather conditions early in the Jul 15 countdown prevented roll-back of the Mobile Service Tower.

The Delta IV Medium+ configuration used two solid rocket strap-on boosters.

Launch previously delayed several times from late 2010.

NORAD: 2011-036A/37753

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 17
Soyuz-Apollo Docking (Anniversary) - 1975

2011 Jul 18
ARTEMIS P2 Enters Lunar Orbit
ARTEMIS P2 (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) is successfully manoeuvred into lunar orbit. The insertion process took three hours and 20 minutes and was overseen by flight engineers from NASA Goddard, UC Berkeley, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

Over the next three months a series of period reduction maneuvers will move the spacecraft into an orbit of 27.5 hours, similar to the ARTEMIS P1 but moving in the opposite direction.

ARTEMIS P1 arrived at the Moon Jun 27.

The satellites will fly close to the lunar surface once per orbit studying the magnetic field – approaching anywhere from within 12 to 240 miles of the surface in a belt ranging 20 degrees above and below the equator.

The ARTEMIS mission uses two of the five in-orbit spacecraft from the NASA THEMIS mission that were launched to high orbit in 2007 and successfully completed their work in 2010. The other three THEMIS craft are continuing their original mission.


2004-004C/30582 - (formerly named THEMIS C)

2011 Jul 18
RadioAstron (Spektr-R) launch
Zenit-3F (Zenit-2/Fregat-SB), Baikonur SC LC-45
Successful launch of an astrophysics research satellite, part of the RadioAstron project to study solar wind, the interplanetary magnetic field, black holes and neutron stars. It carries a 10m diameter radio telescope for interferometry work with ground-based instruments. The research programme involves 20 countries and is expected to last for ten years. The photo shows the main receiving dish under test at the NPO Lavochkin factory.

The precise time aimed for was 02:31:18 UTC. At 06:06 UTC. Following two firings of the Fregat engine, Spektr-R was released into a high-elliptical orbit. The Fregat-SB is a version of the stage with a secondary fuel tank that is detached before the second engine firing.

Novosti gave the parameters as 600 x 330,000 km, period 8.2 days, inclination 51°.3 degrees against an aim of 1045 x 332,700 km.

News on deployment of the 10m diameter radio reflector is awaited as the satellite enters a 45 day check-out period followed by an expected operational lifetime of at least five years.

Originally moved back from "the middle of 2010" to 2010 December. In 2010 September - a further one year delay was announced because of a fire at the ground station causing significant damage.

NORAD: 2011-037A/37755

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 19
GSat 12 in Geosynchronous Drift Orbit
on orbit
The onboard propulsion system was fired four times, on July 16, 17, 18 and 19 to raise perigee.

2011 Jul 19
STS-135 Undocking
Undocking originally planned for Jul 18 but NASA announced a one-day mission extension on Jul 11.

At 08:18 UTC, Atlantis departed the vicinity of the ISS after a fly-round and photographic session.

2011 Jul 20
PSSC-2 (Pico-Satellite Solar Cell 2) launch
Atlantis Payload Bay
Small USAF satellite carrying an electronic camera, the Miniature Tracking Vehicle (MTV) experiment to see how it functions as a tracking target, and the Compact Total Electron Content Sensor (CTECS) that will observe signals from Global Positioning System satellites as they are occulted by the ionosphere. It is also a testbed to gather data on the behaviour of new types of solar cell while in space.

It is three--axis stabilised and carries a set of small thrusters for obit adjustment.

PSSC-2 was ejected by a spring mechanism from shuttle Atlantis's payload bay, and will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere through natural orbit decay in 4-8 months. The photo from Aerospace Corporation shows it being loaded into its ejection pod before launch.

Its predecessor, PSSC (2008-059B/33445) was released into orbit from shuttle Endeavour during the STS-126 mission 2008 Nov 29.

NORAD: 2011-031B/37752 (the catalogue number is out of sequence)

Transmission frequency: 914.7 MHz (on demand and when over US territory including Hawaii and Alaska)

2011 Jul 20
Apollo 11, First Lunar Landing (Anniversary) - 1969
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon. Michael Collins remained in orbit.

2011 Jul 21
GSat 12 Aerial Array Deployed
on orbit
GSat-12 in geosynchronous drift orbit at 63° east longitude, drifting eastward at 1.25°/day.

The transponders will now be tested for 4-6 weeks before the satellite becomes operational.

It will eventually be co-located with Insat-2E and Insat-4A at 83° east longitude with an expected service life of 7 years.

2011 Jul 21
STS-135 Landing
Kennedy SC Runway
Successful, final landing of a US STS Space Shuttle. Touchdown occurred in darkness and followed 196 seconds of retro-fire commencing at 08:49:04 UTC.

Touchdown timings (UTC):
Main Gear - 09:57:00
Nose Gear - 09:57:20
Wheel Stop - 09:57:54

2011 Jul 23
RadioAstron (Spektr-R) - Aerial Deployment
on orbit
NPO Lavochkin, the spacecraft manufacturer, reports the 10m receiving dish as having been opened and deployed successfully. The telescope will now move into its test phase.

A Novosti press report said that an earler attempt to unfurl the dish Jul 22 was partially successful when the reflecting panels failed to latch in the fully-open position.

Project web site:

2011 Jul 26
Beidou 2-09 (IGSO4) Launch
CZ-3A, Xichang SC
Successful launch to 55° inclination geosynchronous transfer orbit of satellite for China's navigation satellite system, known as "Compass". It will also provide time and messaging services for the Asia-Pacific region from a 55° inclined geosynchronous orbit crossing the equator at 93° east longitude.

Precise time of ignition - 21:44:28 UTC. Launch was about 20 minutes later than expected, indicating an unplanned hold in the countdown.

Reportedly, Beidou 2-09 moved from its tranfer orbit to an inclined geosynchronous orbit around 2011 Aug 4, 11:00 UTC

NORAD: 2011-038A/37763

List of Beidou launches to date:

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 27
Missile Test Launch
Minuteman III, Vandenberg AFB LF-04
Launched towards target area 6,700 km away at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site near Kwajalein atoll.

It was destroyed by Vandenberg's Western Range officials at 10:06 UTC. Air Force controllers detected a flight anomaly and terminated the flight for safety reasons. When terminated, the vehicle was over the Pacific Ocean, part way along it's flight path.

The launch was an operational test to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy.

2011 Jul 29
Shijian 11-02 (SJ-11-02) Launch
CZ-2C, Jiuquan SC
Successful launch of what is reported as an "experimental satellite". Its orbit suggests that the payload has an Earth observation rôle.

Orbit: 689 x 705 km, 98°.1 inclination, sun-synchronous with descending node at 14:00 local time.

Launch is out of sequence (SJ-11-03 went into orbit Jul 7) indicating that there may have been a delay in completion of manufacturing or testing.

NORAD: 2011-039A/37765

Orbit details:

2011 Jul 31
Kedr - Transmissions Detected
Many reports of test transmissions from Kedr while being set up aboard the ISS. It will be launched into orbit during Aug 3 EVA.

Frequencies detected: 145.950 and 437.550 MHz.

2011 Aug 3
ISS EVA - Russian Segment
29th Russian EVA from ISS was postponed by one week from Jul 27 .It started about 15 minutes later than planned. Exit was via the 'Pirs' module by Alexander Volkov and Sergei Samokutyaev wearing the new type Orlan-DK space suits. The EVA ended at 21:22 UTC after 6h 22m, almost half an hour longer than anticipated.

Specific tasks completed:

1 - Launch of the Kedr microsatellite( see separate entry),

2 - Installation and connection of the BTLS-H laser communication system on the large diameter section of Zvezda,

3 - Photographing the folding WAL aerial block on the outside of the forward compartment of Zvezda,

4 - Dismantling the 4AO-PCA aerial block, part of the Kurs rendezvous system, from outside the the forward compartment of Zvezda.

5 - Mounting a platform with three Biorisk-MSN containers on Pirs,

6 - Photographing long term exposure experiments mounted on the outside of Poisk and Zvezda,

7 - Photography of each other holding portraits of Tsiolkovsk, Korolyov and Gagarin.

Due to time pressure, the crew omitted transferring the GStM-1 (Strela) cargo boom from the Pirs docking compartment to Poisk.

2011 Aug 3
Kedr Launch
Originally planned for release during ISS space walk Feb 16 but postponed.

Today, it was originally intended to be released into independent orbit around 15:00 UTC at the beginning the EVA but it was delayed while a broken aerial was investigated.

Kedr is named after Yuri Gagarin's call sign while he was in space. The satellite was delivered to the ISS by Progress M-09М(2011-004A/37359) when it docked Jan 30. It is also known as Radioskaf 2. It was constructed under UNESCO’s Student Space Education Programme. The mass is 30 kg, its dimensions are 550 х 550 х 400 mm.

Kedr will transmit 25 messages of greeting in 15 languages, Earth photos, and scientific equipment and telemetry information from its onboard atmospheric pressure sensor.

The satellite will transmit at radio amateur frequencies using call sign "RS1S". During July, while still aboard the ISS, its transmissions were detected at 145.950 and 437.550 MHz.

More information:

1998-067CK/37772 (erroneously catalogued as an ISS fragment rather than a component of the Progress M-09M launch that carried it into orbit.)

2011 Aug 5
Juno Launch
Atlas V 551, CCAFS LC-41C
Succesful launch into interplanetary trajectory for Jupiter encounter in 2016 July.

Commercially-managed launch by United Launch Alliance, delayed from 15:34 UTC, the start of the launch opportunity, by a pressurisation problem in a piece of ground equipment supplying helium to the Centaur stage.

NASA mission to study the magnetic and gravitational fields, the magnetosphere in polar regions, and the atmosphere - looking in particular for water. It will be the first solar-powered spacecraft designed to operate at such a distance from the Sun.

Juno will be inserted into a polar orbit about 4,800 kilometres above the cloud tops, and below Jupiter's radiation belts, for a planned 12 month mission during which it will circle the planet 33 times. Some NASA sources say the planned mission at Jupiter is 15 months.

The mission in detail:

NORAD: 2011-040A/37773

Orbit details:

2011 Aug 6
Astra 1N and BSat-3c/JCSat 110R Launch
Ariane 5ECA (VA-203), CSG ELA-3
Successful dual launch of satellites to geosynchronous transfer orbit. Postponed from Aug 5 due earlier due to the strength of high altitude winds, weather intervened again Aug 6 to cause a 59 minute hold at T -7 minutes.

Precise times: ignition - 22:52:30, lift off - 22:52:37 UTC.

An even earlier launch attempt Jul 1 was called off when a problem was detected in a first-stage liquid hydrogen valve during the countdown. The launch vehicle was rolled back to the assembly area to allow its replacement - the culprit was identified as water. Initially the estimate was for a 20 day delay but work took longer than expected.

Astra 1N is for European direct-to-home broadcast services, including digital and HDTV. It is to be located at 28°.2 east longitude from where it will provide an interim capacity for SES ASTRA. Later it will be moved to the ASTRA prime location at 19°.2 east. It was released into orbit just over 27 minutes after lift off.

BSat-3c/JCSat 110R is a Japanese broadcasting satellite owned jointly by two broadcasters - BSat and SkyPerfect JCSat. It's location will be 110° east longitude. It was released into orbit after 38 minutes.

NORAD (both to be confirmed):
2011-041A/37775 - Astra-1N
2011-041B/37776 - BSat-3c/JCSat 110R

Orbit details:

2011 Aug 11
Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2b Launch
Minotaur IV Lite, Vandenberg AFB LC-8
Second launch of a winged high altitude vehicle on a sub-orbital lifting trajectory, under the USAF FALCON programme. The purpose of the mission was to test the hypersonic vehicle's thermal protection systems and aerodynamic control features for eventual use in weapon delivery systems. The vehicle was not designed to be recovered.

Delayed from Aug 10. Launch occurred 45 minutes into an announced six hour time slot.

For an interactive trajectory diagram, see:

HTV-2b flew towards the Reagan Test Range in the Marshall Islands. The plan was to let it dive into the ocean at the end of a trajectory stretching over about 5,700 kilometres and peaking several tens of kilometres above the Earth's surface. Early information indicates that the mission may not have been entirely successful. Telemetry contact was not re-established after the normal re-entry radio blackout.

A previous mission was flown 2010 Apr 22 when, about nine minutes after launch, the vehicle flew outside its control limits. Onboard software guided it to destruction by diving it into in the Pacific Ocean north-east of thre Marshall Islands.

2011 Aug 11
PakSat 1R launch
CZ-3B/E, Xichang SC
Successful launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit of a Pakistani communications satellite to replace PakSat 1 which is currently on short- term lease from Hughes. The CZ/Long March launch vehicle completed its mission when Paksat was released into independent orbit after 26 minutes.

It will be stationed at 38° east longitude.

NORAD: 2011-042A/37779

Orbit details:

2011 Aug 15
Haiyang 2 Launch
CZ-4B, Taiyuan SC
Second generation ocean studies and maritime disaster-monitoring satellite in sun-synchronous orbit. It is equipped with a microwave radiometer, a radar altimeter and a radar scatterometer to monitor ocean conditions.

NORAD: 2011-43A/37781

Orbit details:

2011 Aug 16
GSat 12 - Arrival on Station
on orbit
Launched Jul 15, it will be co-located with Insat-2E and Insat-4A at 83° east longitude with an expected service life of 7 years.

2011 Aug 17
Sich 2 + Six Small Satellites Launch
Dnepr, Dombarovskiy LC-13
Successful launch of Ukrainian designed and built remote sensing satellite into 680 km high, sun-synchronous orbit. Precise time 07:12:30.

Postponed many times since a 'firm date' in 2008 was originally announced. The latest delaying factor was related to clearance of government licence to launch.

The launcher carried six other small satellites and a payload that remains attached to the launch vehicle upper stage:

NigeriaSat-X will join the Disaster Monitoring Constellation, where it will assist with disaster relief and global environmental monitoring campaigns alongside satellites from other consortium members ASAL (Algeria), BLMIT (China), Deimos Space (Spain), and SSTL (UK),

NigeriaSat-2 - objective is to provide high resolution maps of Nigeria every four months, monthly monitoring of Nigerian crops for food supply security, and supporting the development of the Nigerian national Geographical Information System (GIS) by providing high quality geospatial data, it will take over from Nigeriasat-1 - still in operation after launch 2003 Sep 27,

RASAT - the first observation satellite designed and produced by Turkish engineers, was built to demonstrate Turkey's ability to construct a satellite,

EDUSAT - Italian satellite aimed at promoting space education among high school students and to support the qualification and scientific careers of young people, the satellite will take measurements of the Earth magnetic field, detect cosmic particles, and measure the Solar constant. Technology goals include the study of deorbiting systems, behaviour of solar cells in orbit, and validation of an S-band transponder,

AprizeSat 5 - small satellite for data collection from small fixed and mobile ground stations,

AprizeSat 6 - similar to AprizeSat 5.

In adition, there is BPA-2, a block of Ukrainian experimental avionic equipment attached to the Dnepr upper stage. It is intended to test navigation equipment for civil aircraft and satellites.

2011-044A/37788 - EDUSAT
2011-044B/37789 - Nigerisat-2
2011-044C/37790 - Nigeriasat-X
2011-044D/37791 - RASAT
2011-044E/37892 - AprizeSat 5
2011-044F/37793 - AprizeSat 6
2011-044G/37794 - Sich 2
2011-044H/37795 - BPA-2 & Dnepr stage

Orbit details:

2011 Aug 17
Express AM-4 Launch (Deployment Failure)
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC LC-200
Successful lift off at precise time 21:25:01. Radio tracking indicated a problem after the fourth of five Briz-M firings. Spacetrack reports the satellite separated from the Briz-M into an orbit 1003 x 20,315 km, 51°.3 inclination, period 368.9 minutes. The Briz-M is in a similar, but slightly lower, orbit

The satellite is a Russian domestic Ku-band communications satellite and was intended to be stationed in geosynchronous orbit at 80° east longitude, to replace the service lost due to the failure of the earlier Express AM-2.

Orbit details (NORAD):
2011-045A/37798, 693 x 20244 km, 51°.15 incl, 362.69 min period

Orbit details:

2011 Aug 18
Shijian 11-04 (SJ-11-04) Launch Failure
CZ-2C, Jiuquan SC
Imaging satellite with launch following on from two other recent SJ-11 satellites - both orbited 2011 July.

Launch was aimed at 700 km sun-synchronous circular orbit but a connection between a servomechanism and a second stage venier engine failed preventing correct ignition of the second stage. The satellite did not reach orbit. Had it done so, the descending node would have been 15:50 local time.

2011 Aug 23
Progress M-11M Undocking
Precise time: 09:37:32 UTC.

For nine days, Progress M-11M will conduct an autonomous mission under the Radar-Progress experiment. Several firings of thrusters will be made in order for their ionospheric effects to be observed from the ground using radar techniques.

2011 Aug 24
Progress M12-M Launch Failure
Soyuz U, Baikonur SC
Intended to carry supplies to the ISS. Precise time aimed for - 13:00:11 UTC.

The Soyuz-U upper stage control system detected a problem at T+325 seconds, about 30 seconds after ignition of the third stage and ordered the engine to shut down. The finding of the investigation was failure of a gas generator, part of the engine.

The spacecraft fell to Earth from 200 km altitude in the Gorny Altai region in southern Siberia. It may have burned up on re- entry.

This is the first ever launch failure involving a Progress.

Currently the ISS has sufficient supplies for there to be no concern for the crew but there are knock- on effects on timing of subsequent missions.

2011 Aug 28
Chang'e 2 Arrival at L2 Libration Point
deep space
Arrival at L2 Libration point in the Sun-Earth gravitation system.

Arrived by way of the Moon - see entry for Jun 9 in calendar for 2011 (via "Zarya Diaries" in RH menu)

2011 Sep 1
Progress M-11M Retrofire
on orbit
Precise time - 09:34:31.

Thrusters fired for 180s to provide Δv of 91.8m/s, and came after nine days of autonomous flight under the Radar-Progress programme following departure from the ISS Aug 23.

Retrofire was followed by destructive re- entry above the southern Pacific Ocean with any remaining fragments hitting the Ocean surface at 10:21:41 UTC near co-ordinates 40° 8' south, 135° 2' west.

2011 Sep 10
GRAIL Launch
Delta IV Heavy, CCAFS LC-17B
Succesful lift-off of Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B - a pair of near-identical lunar-orbiting spacecraft. The aim is to measure minor differences between lunar gravity's effects on the two satellites as they orbit the Moon. Results will help determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core, and advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

Initial launch Sep 8 date called off due to high speed winds in upper levels of the atmosphere. Later postponed a further 24 hrs to allow technicians to review data on the propulsion system that was collected during unloading of propellant.

Precise launch time - 13:08:52.775 !. The launch had two near-instantaneous windows, the first of which ws at 12:29:45 UTC but was ignored because of upper atmosphere wind speeds being too high. The two different launch azimuths, 93° and 99° from true north, allowed for the Earth's rotation between the windows and and put the spacecraft on the same path through space on release from the launcher.

GRAIL was successfully established on its lunar trajectory when GRAIL-B separated from the launcher at 14:37:05 UTC. Lunar arrival due 2012 Jan 1.

Launch for NASA by United Launch Alliance.

Launch details:

2011-046A/37801 - GRAIL-A
2011-046B/37802 - GRAIL-B

2011 Sep 14
Cosmos 2388 Decay
Missile detection satellite acting as part of an early warning system.


2011 Sep 15
JAXA Reports on Akatsuki Engine Tests
heliocentric orbit
After two test firings of the engine, JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) has confirmed that the engine has a a fault and delivers less than the expected thrust. It shut down automatically 2011 Dec after onboard systems detected an overheating problem, preventing Akatsuki from going into orbit around Venus.

NORAD: 2010-020D/36576

2011 Sep 16
Soyuz TMA-21 Undocking
Carrying Andrei Borisenko, Alexandr Samokutyaev and Ronald Garan. Precise time: 00:38:12 UTC.

Delayed from Sep 8 due to re- planning after the Progress M12-M launch failure 2011 August 24.

NASA TV coverage:

2011 Sep 16
Soyuz TMA-21 Landing
Successful landing following retro-fire at 03:05:27 UTC for 260.3s to provide Δv of 115.4 m/s. Precise time: 03:59:39 UTC.

On target - 148 kilometers southeast of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, about 3 hrs after local sunrise. The aiming point was 47°.16 degrees North, 69°.35 degrees East.

Voice communications were lost about 30 minutes before landing when the Soyuz descent module separated from the Orbital Module and Instrument Unit. TsUP had to wait until the vehicle was under its parachute before recovery crews reported being able to contact the crew.

2011 Sep 17
NanoSail-D Re-entry
on orbit
De-orbited and destroyed by frictional heating on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Announced by NASA 2011 Nov 29 - time not published.

NORAD: 2010-062L/37361

Orbit and Mission:

2011 Sep 18
Kavoshgar 5 Bio-capsule - Launch Failure
Kavoshgar LV, Semnan, Iran
Attempted sub-orbital launch to about 120 km altitude of small payload including a Rhesus monkey. The equipment was tested during the Kavoshgar 4 mission 2011 March. The nature of the failure is not known.

The date is speculative and is ±1 week. Launch was initially expected during August.

2011 Sep 18
Zhongxing-1A (Chinasat 1A) Launch
CZ-3B, Xichang SC LC-2
Chinese government/military communications satellite.


Orbit details:

2011 Sep 20
Cosmos 2473 (Garpun) Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC
Military digital communications satellite. Its purpose is to carry data between military satellites in LEO and ground receiving stations. Garpun replaces the older Potok series of satellites. It was released into transfer orbit from the Briz-M, after the latter had completed its mission, Sep 21 at 07:48 UTC.


Orbit details:

2011 Sep 21
Missile Test Launch Postponed
Minuteman III, Vandenberg AFB
Aimed towards Reagan Test Range in the Marshall Islands.

Launch postponed indefinitely as a result of the investigation into the previous test when the missile had to be destroyed soon after launch 2011 Jun 27.

Re-timed for 2012 Feb 25.

2011 Sep 21
SES 2 and Arabsat 5C Launch
Ariane 5ECA (VA-204), CSG ELA-3
Successful dual launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit. The time shown is the intended opening of an 85 minute window. However, the launch was postponed for 24 hours through industrial action by electrical workers at CSG.

SES 2 is a communications satellite to serve the continental USA from 87° west longitude and replace AMC 3 (launched 1997). It carries carries a secondary payload in the form of the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) experimental infrared imaging sensor belonging to the U.S. Air Force. It was released from the launch vehicle at 22:05 UTC.

Arabsat 5C is a comsat for the Arab region to be stationed at 20° east longitude. It was released from the launch vehicle at 22:13 UTC.

NORAD (subject to confirmation):2011-049A/37809 - Arabsat 5C
2011-049C/37811 - SES-2

Orbit details:

2011 Sep 23
IGS 6 Launch
H-IIA, Tanegashima SC
Japanese government/military Information Gathering Satellite for imaging reconnaissance. The orbit will be sun- synchronous. Precise time - 04:36:03 UTC, at the start of a 14 minute window.

Delayed from Aug 28 because of an unspecified problem with ground support equipment for the launcher. Later postponed from Sep 18 because of weather.

Expected orbit is sun-synchronous, 480 km circular at 97°.4 inclination.Spacetrack is unlikely to issue orbital elements.

NORAD: 2011-050A/37813

Orbit details:

2011 Sep 24
UARS - Re-entry
on orbit
Natural decay brought about through air drag. The satellite was nearly 6 tonnes mass so fragments were expected to survive re-entry. It re-entered near Pacific Ocean near 14°.1 south, 170°.2 west.


2011 Sep 24
Atlantic Bird 7 Launch
Zenit 3SL, Odyssey Launch Platform, Pacific Ocean
Launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit of digital broadcasting satellite for Eutelsat. An onboard rocket motor will be used to establish at 7°.2 west longitude in geosynchronous orbit from where it will provide digital broadcasting services to the Middle East and North Africa.

Delayed from Sep 23 due to a technical issue with the launch platform. Precise time is 20:17:55 UTC at the opening of a 75 minute window. Separated from the launch vehicle at 21:25:02 UTC.

At one time, the satellite was manifested for launch by Ariane 5. The launch represents a resumption of Sea Launch missions following post-bankruptcy financial re-structuring.


Orbit details:

2011 Sep 25
China issues NOTAM for the Tiangong 1 Launch
Indicates launch Sep 26 at about 11:20 UTC but it may have been issued as part of a full rehearsal of the launch:


2011 Sep 27
Dawn - Established in Science Orbit
Final manoeuvre to place Dawn in its initial science observation orbit - 680 km distance with 12 hr period.

2011 Sep 27
TacSat 4 Launch
Minotaur IV, Kodiak Island
TacSat 4Successful launch of experimental military communications satellite managed by the US Naval Research Laboratory. It separated from the launch vehicle at 17:17 UTC.

TacSat 4 is to bolster UHF communications for high latitude areas that are currently poorly served. Another part of the payload provides GPS tracking of battlefield units. Other experimental equipment may be reconnaissance-related.

Orbit anticipated to be elliptical, 700 x 12,050km with apogee in the northern hemisphere - period around 240 min, and inclination 63°.4.

The picture on the right shows TacSat4's 4m diameter dish aerial in its furled, stowed position.


Orbit details:

2011 Sep 29
Tiangong 1 (Heavenly Temple 1) Launch
CZ-2FT1, Jiuquan SC
TianGong 1Successful launch of small laboratory, 8.5 tonnes mass (9 tonnes including fuel), to be used in docking experiments during visits by Shenzhou 8, Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10. The last two will carry crews. Anticipated life is two years after which it will be de-orbited.

Precise time: 13:16:03 UTC, at the beginning of a fifteen minute launch window. The date was on the third day of a potential launch period that was set after completion of the investigation into the 2011 Aug CZ launch failure with SJ-11-04. Launch on the first two days of the window was precluded by weather.

Construction complete and ground testing commenced 2010 August. Launch postponed from 2010 Oct for technical reasons, and then again from a target date in the first half of 2011. Tiangong was taken to the launch site 2011 Jun 29.

Orbit details:

Zarya's notes:


2011 Sep 29
ISS - Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre
on orbit
Upward adjustment in the orbit to avoid a Russian rocket body. Twelfth such manoeuvre by the ISS. Under the control of TsUP in Moscow, thrusters on the Zarya module fired for 169 seconds to give a Δv of 2.53 m/s. The average height of the ISS orbit was raised by 4.7 kilometers to 387.1 kilometers.

At 11:02 UTC, the ISS passed 10 kilometers above the upper stage of the Tsiklon-3 rocket (1991-086B/21820) that launched Intercosmos 25 1991 Dec 18.

The manoeuvre also dealt with a potential close approach to a piece of debris from the Fenyun 1C destruction (1999-025UV/30188) that would have occurred Oct 2.

As a result, the planned ISS orbit adjustment for Oct 5, to set up the ground track for the Progress M-13M launch Oct 30, was cancelled.

2011 Sep 29
Tiangong 1 Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
Apogee raised by 9km to 355 km (Chinese measurement system).

2011 Sep 29
QuetzSat 1 Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC LC-200/39
Succesful lift-off of Mexican-owned satellite aimed for 77° west longitude. It will provide direct broadcasting services to Mexico and the US.

Orbit details:


2011 Sep 30
Tiangong 1 Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
Perigee raised from 200 km to 362 km, making it the new apogee (Chinese measurement system).

2011 Sep 30
GRAIL A - Trajectory Correction
barycentric orbit
Main engine fired for 127 seconds to give Δv of 14.0 m/s, expending 1.9 kg of propellant.

2011 Oct 2
Cosmos 2474 (GLONASS-M) Launch
Soyuz 2-1b, Plesetsk SC
Successful launch of single GLONASS-M navigation satellite to replace one of the trio lost 2010 Dec 5.

Launch delayed from Aug 25 (22:50 UTC) due to the Aug 24 Soyuz launcher mishap. Further delayed from Sep 25 for technical reasons, then delayed 24 hrs by weather at the launch site.

In 2010 January, ROSCOSMOS reported that a number of previously-unplanned satellites would be built under an accelerated programme. However, this particular one may have been in store, or already partially assembled.

It's arrival on orbit made the GLONASS constellation complete for the first time since 1996.

Orbit details:

NORAD: 2011-055A/37829

2011 Oct 4
Sputnik Anniversary - 1957

2011 Oct 5
ISS Orbit Adjustment - Cancelled
on orbit
Intended to set up the ground track for the Progress M-13M launch Oct 30 but the task was done as a result of the Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre Sep 29.

2011 Oct 5
Missile Interception Tests - Monitored by STSS Demonstrator
Pacific Missile Range - near Kauai, Hawaii
The BMDS Operational Test Agency (OTA) conducted, with support of the Missile Defense Agency, an operational test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

During the test, THAAD system engaged and simultaneously intercepted one short-range and one medium-range class ballistic missile target. .

The STSS Demonstrator satellite pair were nearby when the test was conducted.

2011 Oct 5
GRAIL B - Trajectory Correction
barycentric orbit
Main engine fired for 234 seconds to give Δv of 25.1 m/s, expending 3.7 kg of propellant. GRAIL B will arrive at the Moon one day earlier than GRAIL A as a result of the difference between this firing and GRAIL A's engine firing Sep 30.

2011 Oct 5
Intelsat 18 Launch
Zenit-3SLB, Baikonur SC LC-45
Succesful lift-off of commercial comsat for geosynchronous orbit at 180° west longitude, serving French Polynesia, Eastern Australia and the United States with direct-to-home TV, VSat terminal services high-speed trunked communication links. Spacecraft injection into geosynchronous transfer orbit occurred Oct 6 at 03:34:44 UTC.

Postponed from 2011 February due to manufacturing delays, postponed further from 2011 June. Two hours before lift-off Oct 4, another delay of 24 hrs was announced because of "...a spacecraft issue...".

Commercial launch by the Sea Launch company.

Orbit details:


2011 Oct 7
Eutelsat W3C Launch
CZ-3B/E, Xichang SC
Successful launch of comsat into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Separated from the launch vehicle at 08:36 UTC.

Eutelsat W3C will be located at 16° east longitude and will provide services Central and Eastern Europe, the French-speaking Indian Ocean Islands, and provide data services to Africa.08:36 UTC.

Orbit details:

NORAD: 2011-057A/37836

2011 Oct 12
Megha Tropiques Launch
PSLV (PSLV-C18), Satish Dhawan (Sriharikota) SC
Joint French Indian project, the name is derived from Megha, meaning "cloud" in Sanskrit and Tropiques meaning "tropics" in French. It is designed to study the atmospheric water cycle in the tropics, particularly the processes linked to tropical convection. One of the instruments is an Imaging Radiometer (Microwave Analysis and Detection of Rain and Atmospheric Structures - MADRAS). Also included is a microwave sounding instrument for the atmospheric water vapor (Sounder for Probing Vertical Profiles of Humidity SAPHIR) and a radiometer devoted to the measurement of outgoing radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (Scanner for Radiation Budget - ScaRaB).

Launch delayed by one minute as a Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre because of an object already in orbit.

Also carried three small satellites:

Jugnu - a nanosatellite built by the Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur. It has an imaging payload and will investigate techniques of controlling reconnaissance satellites,

Vesselsat 1 (AIS-Sat) - built by Luxspace and leased by Orbcomm to fill a gap left by a failure in its own constellation. Vesselsat carries two receivers for the Automatic Identification System for ships (AIS),

SRMSat - a nanosatellite, built by SRM University - Chennai, to monitor greenhouse gases with an infrared sensor.

Launch and orbit information:

Megha Tropiques web site:

NORAD - objects catalogued so far (including the final rocket stage):

2011 Oct 14
First Soyuz Rollout by Arianespace
Erected on ELA-S and will carry two GIOVE satellites - Mission VS-01.

2011 Oct 19
ISS Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
The Zvezda thrusters fired for 113 seconds to provide a Δv of 1.8 meters per second.

Afterwards, TsUP gave the orbit as 377.6 x 402.9 km, 92,26 min period, 51°.66 inclination (Russian measurement system).

Purpose was to refine the position of the ground track for the upcoming Progress M-13M and Soyuz TMA-22 launches.

2011 Oct 19
ViaSat 1 Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC
Successful launch of Commercial comsat for geosynchronous orbit at 115° west longitude. Separation from launch vehicle occurred precisely on time Oct 20 at 04:00:44 UTC.

ViaSat-1 is to provide high-speed internet services for US and Canadian consumers through Ka band links.

Precise time: 18:48:58.

Launch delayed from 2011 spring to provide time for repair and testing after the satellite was damaged while being moved during the original testing process.

Launch and orbit information:

NORAD: 2010-059A/37843

2011 Oct 21
Galileo IOV-1 PFM & Galileo IOV-1 FM2 Launch
Soyuz ST-B (VS-01), CSG EL-S
Successful launch of a pair of GIOVE,Galileo IOV (In-Orbit Validation), satellites for the European Space Agency navigation system, similar to GPS and GLONASS. Precise time - 10:30:26 UTC.

First launch of Soyuz rocket from CSG.

Delayed by one day due to a leak in a launch pad pneumatic system that activates the pre-planned disconnection of fuelling lines to the Soyuz third stage before lift-off. It was detected late in the countdown Oct 19.

Orbit details:


2011 Oct 23
ROSAT - Decay
Indian Ocean
Time is ±7 minutes and was provided by Spacetrack. It may be refined later.


2011 Oct 24
Cosmos 2472 Re-entry and Landing
Imaging reconsat descent vehicle separated, re-entered and landed.

NORAD: 2011-028A/37726

2011 Oct 25
Atlantic Bird 7 - Arrival on-Station
on orbit
Geosynchronous orbit - 7°.2 west longitude.

2011 Oct 26
ISS Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
The Zvezda thrusters fired for 113 seconds to provide a Δv of 1.8 meters per second.

Afterwards, TsUP gave the orbit as 377.6 x 402.9 km, 92,26 min period, 51°.66 inclination (Russian measurement system).

Purpose was to refine the position of the ground track for the upcoming Progress M-13M and Soyuz TMA-22 launches.

2011 Oct 28
NPP Launch
Delta 2, Vandenberg AFB LC-2W
NPP is an acronym of an acronym - NPOESS (National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System) Preparatory Mission. It is equipped with remote sensors to collect climate data over land oceans and the atmosphere. It represents a transition from separate programmes like Aqua and Aura to NPOESS to a dedicated climate monitoring series of satellites.

Precise time - 09:48:01 at the opening of a launch window that extends to 09:57:11 UTC. Postponement from Oct 25 announced Oct 4 for minor repairs to launch vehicle. Further postponed by 24 hrs from Oct 27 to allow extra time for a pre-launch engineering review.

The launcher also carried six cubesats:

Explorer 1 Prime - for Montana State University to measuring the radiation belts as discovered by the original Explorer 1, replaces the satellite lost in the failed Glory launch earlier in 2011,

AubieSat - Auburn University Student Space Program - to measure gamma rays produced by high-altitude thunderstorms,

M-Cubed - imaging satellite from the University of Michigan,

RAX-2 (Radio Aurora Explorer) - University of Michigan student-built satellite to study energy flow in the ionosphere,

DICE 1 (Dynamic Ionosphere CubeSat Experiment) - one of a pair of satellites to measure plasma and electric fields in the ionosphere and gauge their effects on satellites in orbit,

DICE 2 (Dynamic Ionosphere CubeSat Experiment) - one of a pair of satellites to measure plasma and electric fields in the ionosphere and gauge their effects on satellites in orbit.

Launch managed by United Launch Alliance.

Orbit details:

NORAD (to be confirmed):

2011 Oct 29
Progress M-10M Undocking
Undocked from Pirs, followed by several hours of free flight before destructive re-entry.

2011 Oct 29
Progress M-10M Retrofire
Precise time - 12:10:30 UTC. Thruster firing for 191.4 seconds imparted Δv of 99.7 m/s.

It led to a destructive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Any unburnt fragments hit the surface of the southern Pacific Ocean at 13:00:31 UTC near 50 ° 11 'south latitude, 136 ° 20' west longitude.

2011 Oct 30
Progress M-13M Launch
Soyuz U, Baikonur SC
Supplies to ISS. Delayed from early-mid month by investigation into the Progress M-12-M Soyuz-U launch failure.

Precise time 10:11:12 UTC.

Cargo includes 40 kg Chibis-M ionospheric research satellite to be released into separate orbit after departure from the ISS 2012 January.

TsUP issued an initial orbit - 192.98 x 252.90 km, 88.66 minutes, 51°.65 degrees, against a planned 193 x 245 km (Russian measurement system).

Frequencies: 121.75 MHz (TORU if used), 166.000 MHz (+/-128 kHz), 922.763 MHz.

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

NORAD: 2011-062A/37857

Orbit details:

2011 Oct 31
Shenzhou 8 Launch
CZ-2FT1, Jiuquan SC
Successful launch into orbit of man-rated spacecraft without crew. Objective is to undertake docking tests with Tiangong 1 (2011-053A/37820).

Precise time: 21:58:07 UTC.

The mission is flying as a biosatellite with a payload of plants and animals and will last slightly over two weeks. Part of the payload is DLR of Germany's SIMBOX (Science in Microgravity Box).

Trajectories and maps:

Orbit details:

Frequency: 2224.065 MHz

NORAD: 2011-063A/37859

2011 Nov 2
Progress M-13M Docking
Pirs docking port. Precise time 15:40:37 UTC ± 3 minutes.

2011 Nov 2
Shenzhou 8 Docking with Tiangong 1
on orbit
Succesful unpiloted test docking with Tiangong 1 module. The two vehicles were latched together eight minutes later at 17:36 UTC.

Shenzhou 8 notes:

Tthey will remain docked for 12 days then separate and conduct a second docking before Shenzhou returns to Earth.

2011 Nov 3
STSS Demonstrator Satellites Calibration Completed
on orbit
Following a series of tracking tests, Northrop-Grumman declared the satellites ready to return higher quality data from furure tests.

2011 Nov 8
Phobos Grunt & Yinghuo 1 Launch
Zenit 2SB/Fregat, Baikonur
Succesful launch to parking orbit of Mars mission. Russian spacecraft carrying small, independent, detachable Chinese orbiter vehicle.

Departure from 51.6 inclination parking orbit around Earth was due Nov 9, approx 01:20 UTC but the necessary motor firings did not occur. Engineers are assessing the situation with a view to recovering the mission.

If it reaches Mars orbit 2012 October, Yinghuo (Firefly) has a mass of 110 kg and is designed to separate once near Phobos, and function autonomously. Phobos-Grunt is designed to operate for about one year during which time it will orbit Mars about 120 times. It will study Mars and its moon Phobos, including collection, 2013 February, of a Phobos soil sample. A return vehicle, carrying the sample, is expected to reach Earth 2014 August.

Launch date is within a four week launch window with opening Nov 5.

Delayed from Q4 2009. the previous launch window, due to hardware/software issues.

Orbit details:

NORAD: 2011-065A/37872

2011 Nov 9
Yaogan 12 and Tianxun 1 Launch
CZ-4B, Taiyuan SC
Dual launch of:

Yaogan 12 imaging satellite for natural resources surveys and, possibly, intelligence gathering,

Tianxun 1 (pictured) technology experiments, small satellite, built by Nanjing University.

Orbit details:

2011-066B/37875 - Yaogan 12
2011-066A/37874 - Tianxun 1

2011 Nov 14
Soyuz TMA-22 Launch
Soyuz-FG, Baikonur SC
Successful launch, during snow, of crew to ISS. Final Soyuz TMA launch, all subsequent missions will use Soyuz TMA-M.

Precise time - 04:14:03 UTC.

Crew - Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin, Daniel Burbank (Commander Expedition 30).

Originally brought forward from September 30 to Sep 22 but then delayed by investigation of the Soyuz-U launch failure of Aug 2.

Frequencies: 121.750 MHz (voice), 166.000 MHz, 922.763 MHz.

Orbit details:

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

NORAD: 2011-067A/37877

2011 Nov 14
Shenzhou 8 Undocking
on orbit
Successfully accomplished.

Mission notes:

2011 Nov 14
Shenzhou 8 Second Docking with Tiangong 1
on orbit
Succesful test of sensors with interference from sunlight.

Mission notes:

2011 Nov 16
Soyuz TMA-22 Docking
Successful docking at the Poisk docking port about nine minutes earlier than scheduled. Precise time - 05:24:08 UTC.

The crew entered the station two orbits, about three hours, later.

2011 Nov 16
Shenzhou 8 Undocking
on orbit
Undocked from Tiangong 1 prior to planned landing Nov 17.


2011 Nov 17
Shenzhou 8 Landing
Inner Mongolia
Location - inner Mongolia near 42°.2 north, 111°.3 east. Precise time - 11:32:14 ±2s.

Followed OM separation at 10:44, retro-fire at 10:45 and OM/SM separation at 11:07 UTC.


2011 Nov 18
Tiangong 1 Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
Orbit raised to the region of 360 km after Shenzhou 8 departure, indicating that Shenzhou 9 will be launched 2012 March when the orbit has decayed back to Shenzhou operating height.

2011 Nov 18
ISS Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
Thrusters of Zvezda fired for 217 seconds to provide a Δv of 3.4 m/s and raised the average ISS orbit height by 6 km to 392.3 km. The manoeuvre used about 110 kg of propellant.

New orbit: 375.1 x 430.1 km, 92.35 min, 51°.66 (Russian measurement system).

The purpose was to refine the ground track for the Soyuz TMA-02M return to Earth November 22 and set up conditions for the Soyuz TMA-03M launch at the end of the year.

2011 Nov 20
Shiyan 4 and Chuangxin 3 Launch
CZ-2D, Jiuquan SC
Successful dual launch.

Shiyan 4 - technology research and development satellite, actual experiments are not identified but relate to exposing newly-developed equipment and systems to space and monitoring the space environment around the satellite,

Chuangxin 1-03 - Small experimental store-dump communications satellite developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it will be used to collect and relay water conservancy, hydrological and meteorological data and data for power supply and disaster relief from remote monitoring stations.

Orbit data:

NORAD (to be confirmed):
2011-068A/37930 - Shiyan 4
2011-068B/37931 - Chuangxin 1-03

2011 Nov 21
Soyuz TMA-02M Undocking
ISS connecting hatches were closed at 19:41 UTC. Undocking, carrying Michael Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov, followed three minutes after the undocking command (release of hooks and latches) was transmitted at 22:57.

Precise time of undocking: 23:00:08 UTC - overhead the China-Mongolia border near 45°.18 north, 93.°48 east.

After undocking, Volkov undertook tests of the Soyuz-TMA-M digital autopilot.

Pushed back from Nov 16 as a result of the Progress M-12M launch failure investigation.

2011 Nov 22
Soyuz TMA-02M Retrofire & Re-entry
Precise time 01:32:20 UTC - 256 seconds thruster firing to produce Δv of 115.2 m/s. Distance from ISS at ignition - 12 km.

Re-entry was above the night-time hemisphere of the Earth and, because of the proximity of Soyuz and the ISS at the time of retro-fire, the station crew was able to observe the plasma trails from the Service and Descent Modules produced by frictional heating as they entered the atmosphere.

2011 Nov 22
Soyuz TMA-02M Landing
Successful, on-target touchdown.

Aimed for 51°.0 north, 67°.1 degrees east longitude - 90 km north east of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. The precision achieved is not currently known.

2011 Nov 23
ISS Debris Threat
on orbit
Nov 22, NASA issued a warning that predictions indicated an item of debris, from the Chinese ASAT target - Fengyun 1C, was likely to come within 850 meters of the station. The instruction to the crew was to close the hatches between station modules and get into the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft about 30 minutes before the even (ie - around 10:15 UTC).

Ongoing tracking showed the possibility of a collision was receding and early November 23, NASA rescinded the warning.

2011 Nov 23
Contact with Phobos-Grunt
Perth, WA, Australia
An ESA ground station near Perth transmits a command and Phobos-Grunt responds with a carrier but no data.

2011 Nov 25
Asiasat 7 Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur LC-200
Successful launch to transfer orbit of Chinese AsiaSat 7 as a replacement satellite for the AsiaSat 3S comsat at orbital location 105°.5 east longitude. It is designed to provide general communications and V-Sat services and should operate for 15 years.

Precise time: 19:10:34 UTC. Separated from Briz-M stage Nov 26 at 04:23:18 UTC.

Commercial launch managed by ILS.

Radio frequencies (Briz-M): 1018.5 MHz, 1020.5 MHz

Orbit details:

NORAD: 2011-69A/37933

2011 Nov 26
Mars Science Laboratory Launch
Atlas V 541, CCAFS LC-41
The Mars Science Laboratory, the rover - "Curiosity" is intended to assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life, and to determine the planet's habitability. Curiosity separated from the Centaur stage of the launch vehicle at 15:46 UTC. Mars arrival due 2012 Aug.

2011 Jul 22, NASA announced the selected landing area to be the foot of a mountain in the crater "Gale", named after the Australian astronomer Walter Gale.

Launch window was open until Dec 18. Time ws the start of a 103 minute launch opportunity on the day.

One week before launch - delayed one day to Nov 19 to "remove and replace a flight termination system battery".

Orbit Data:

NORAD: 2011-070A/37936

2011 Nov 28
Soyuz-2.1b, Plesestsk SC LC-43
Single GLONASS-M navigation satellite as replacement for one lost in the launch failure of 2010 Dec. Separation from the launch occurred at 11:57 UTC, after a final firing of the Fregat stage, in 12hr circular orbit at 65° inclination. Satellite control was duly passed to the GLONASS ground segment at 12:03 UTC.

After testing, the satellite will be held as an on-orbit spare with a planned lifetime of seven years.

Originally due for launch Nov 22. Will probably receive the name "Cosmos 2478".

Orbit data:

NORAD: 2011-071A

2011 Nov 29
KazSat 2 Handed Over to Khazakhstan
on orbit
Location - 86°.5 east longitude. Follows period of testing by the manufacturer, Khrunichev.

Launched 2011 Jul 15. NORAD: 2011-035B/37749

Orbit data:

2011 Nov 29
Phobos-Grunt - Debris Shedding
on orbit
Object was catalogued as it broke away from Phobos-Grunt - 2011-065G/30740. Quite low density, drifted away slowly and decayed very quickly - maybe piece of thermal insulation? Separation time is ±6 hours.

Notes and orbit information:

2011 Nov 29
Yaogan 13 Launch
CZ-2C, Taiyuan SC
Successful launch to sun-synchronous orbit of an imaging satellite (possibly carrying a synthetic aperture radar) for natural resources surveys and, possibly, intelligence gathering. Specific tasks include land survey, crop yield assessment, and input to disaster monitoring and prevention plans.

Precise time: 18:50:04 UTC.


Orbit details:

2011 Nov 30
NanoSail-D - NASA Announces Re-entry
Re-entered and burned up after retro-fire 2011 Sep 17 but information held back by NASA until Nov 29.

Programme information page:

Mission notes plus initial and final orbit details:

2011 Nov 30
USA 226 (X-37B/OTV-2 Flight 1) Mission Extended
on orbit
Original mission duration set at 270 days (today) but USAF announces an indefinite extension. Monitoring of the ongoing overall condition of the vehicle will probably determine the actual landing date.

NORAD: 2009-010A/37375

Orbit details:

2011 Nov 30
Phobos-Grunt - Debris Shedding
on orbit
Object was catalogued as it broke away from Phobos-Grunt - 2011-065HG/30747. Quite low density, drifted away slowly and decayed very quickly - maybe piece of thermal insulation? Separation time is ±6 hours.

Notes and orbit information:

2011 Nov 30
ISS Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
Purpose was to refine ground track for the Soyuz TMA-03M launch and test a new control system.

Zvezda's thrusters fired for 63 seconds provide Δv of 1 m/s and increased the average orbit height by 1.8 km to 392.2 km.

During the firing, accelerometers in the US segment of the ISS monitored the event with a view to providing more-precise data for controlling future orbit adjustments. Engine cutoff occurred when the station had gained a fixed amount of additional momentum.

TsUp subsequently gave the new parameters as 376.8 x 428.4 km, 92.34 minutes, 51°.66 inclination. (Russian measurement system).

2011 Dec 1
Beidou 2-10 (IGSO5) Launch
CZ-3A, Xichang SC
Successful launch to transfer orbit. Satellite aimed for 55° inclined geosynchronous orbit of satellite for China's navigation satellite system, known as "Compass". It will probably be parked as an on-orbit spare in an orbit crossing the equator near 93° east longitude. Expected operational lifetime - 8 years.

Precise time - 21:07:05 UTC at the beginning of a ten minute launch window.

List of Beidou launches to date:

Orbit Data:

NORAD: 2011-073A/37948

2011 Dec 2
ESA Stands Down from Phobos-Grunt
Says that there will be no more communication attempts. However, ESA remains available to assist further should there be a significant (but unlikely) change in Phobos-Grunt's fortunes.

2011 Dec 6
ESA Resumes Work with Phobos-Grunt
Specific request from Russia - ESA will transmit commands from Maspalomas on one daylight pass today and two passes on each of the next three days.


2011 Dec 9
ISS Orbit Adjustment
on orbit
Purpose was to set up the ground track for the Soyuz TMA-03M launch Dec 21.

New orbit: 377.21 x 422.68 km, 92.36 minutes 51°.66 inclination.

Zvezda's thrusters were expected to fire for 81.5 seconds to provide Δv of 1.3 m/s but their actual shutdown was automatic on the station having acquired the pre-set amount of additional velocity. New orbit: 377.21 x 422.68 km, 92.36 minutes 51°.66 inclination.

2011 Dec 10
Beidou 2-10 (IGSO-5) - Apogee Motor Firing
on orbit
Approximate time ±20 min - circularise orbit by firing onboard motor at transfer orbit apogee, ie - geosynchronous altitude. Parked with eauator crossing near 93° east longitude for transfer to main group near 118° east when needed.

Launched Dec 1 - 2011-073A/37948

2011 Dec 11
Luch 5A and Amos 5 Launch
Proton-M/Briz-M, Baikonur SC LC-81
Succesful launch of dual payload to geosynchronous drift orbit.

Luch 5A - designed to relay commands and data to and from satellites in LEO up to 2000 kilometres when outside the the areas covered by Russian ground stations. Other functions include secure Presidential communication links, command relay to rockets and spacecraft, and communication with the International Space Station. It also acts as a receiver for the COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue system and provides time correction for GLONASS users. It was released from the launch vehicle at 20:11 UTC and will be stationed at 16° west longitude. Anticipated lifetime is ten years. See:

Amos 5 - Israeli comsat built by the Russian Reshetnev company. It will cover Africa, with connections to Europe and the Middle East, and will also carry direct broadcast TV services for Israel. It was released from the launch vehicle at 20:52 UTC and will be stationed at 17° east longitude, a new location for the Amos constellation.

Amos 5 technical details:

Proton mission profile:

Radio frequencies - 1018.5 and 1020.5 MHz (Briz-M) - good signal reported by Sven Grahn in Sweden.

Orbit notes:

NORAD: 2011-074

2011 Dec 12
IGS 7 (IGS Radar 3) Launch
H-IIA F-20, Tanegashima SC
Japanese government/military Information Gathering Satellite for radar reconnaissance. The orbit is expected to be sun-synchronous, probably about 490 km altitude.

Dec 11 launch cancelled because of high altitude freezing clouds near Tanegashima. Further postponement is possible. Time shown is the opening of a fifteen minute window.

Spacetrack is unlikely to issue orbital elements.

NORAD: 2011-075A/37954

Orbit data:

2011 Dec 15
Tiangong 1 - Atmosphere Tests and Orientation Change
on orbit
Regular check of internal air quality.

Change in attitude affected the orbit decay rate, pushing the potential Shenzhou 9 launch date into May or, possibly, June.

2011 Dec 16
Tiangong 1 - System Checks
on orbit
Check of cabin atmosphere, onboards systems. Also changed attitude in orbit, Part of regular series of checks while waiting for Shenzhou 9.

2011 Dec 17
Pléiades 1A, ELISA (4 satellites) and SSOT Launch
Soyuz-ST (VS-02), CSG EL-S
Successful multiple satellite launch with payloads aimed at a series of different sun-synchronous orbits. A notable point is that all six satellites were built by the European company Astrium.

Precise time: 02:03:08 UTC.

Pleiades 1 separated: 02:58 UTC
ELISA 1 to 4 separated: 03:02 UTC
SSOT separated: 05:29 UTC

Pléiades 1 - First of what will be a pair of French digital imaging satellites with very high resolution sensors. To be used by commercial organisations, government and the military.

ELISA (ELectronic Intelligence by SAtellite) - a demonstration project sponsored by the French defence procurements agency (DGA) as a precursor of the elint ROEM satellite. Four satellites based on the Myriade platform moving in similar orbits to map the positions of radar and other transmitters and determine their technical characteristics.

SSOT - Sistema Satelital para Observación de la Tierra, a small Chilean Earth observation satellite based on the Myriade platform developed jointly by Astrium and CNES.

Orbit data:

NORAD: 2011-076

2011 Dec 19
NigComSat-1R Launch
CZ-3B/E, Xichang SC
Successful launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit of Chinese built comsat for Nigeria. Replaces NigComSat 1 (2007-18A/31395) that suffered an electrical supply failure from one of its solar panels 2008 Nov 10 and was subsequently moved to graveyard orbit.

Separated from the launch vehicle 26 min after lift-off.

Coverage area is Africa, eastern Europe and parts of Central Asia where it will provide communications, broadcasting, distance education, broadband multimedia and navigation services.

Location will be 42°.5 east longitude. Technical details:

Launch info (Chinese & English bilingual page):


Orbit details:

2011 Dec 20
Yamal 201 - Communications Failure
on orbit
Yamal 201 ceased to transmit its TV broadcast signal. At the same time, ground control lost the downlink. It was later recovered br re-booting its onboard systems.

NORAD: 2003-053B/28094, launched 2003 Nov 24

2011 Dec 21
Soyuz TMA-03M Launch
Soyuz-FG, Baikonur SC LC-1
Successful launch of crew towards ISS - Oleg Kononenko (Russia), André Kuipers (ESA), Donald Pettit (USA). Brought forward from Dec 26 to avoid ground staff working at Christmas-time.

Second test flight of Soyuz TMA-M (the first mission in the series was a Qualification Flight for some of the new systems but was not a complete upgrade from the previous model).

Precise time: 13:16:14 UTC

Orbit details:

Trajectory information:

Frequencies: 121.750 MHz, 166.000 MHz, 922.763 MHz.

Explanation of ISS radio frequencies:

2011 Dec 22
Ziyuan 2C Launch
CZ-4B, Taiyuan SC
Remote sensing satellite in sun-synchronous orbit. Equipped with a full-color high-resolution multi-spectral camera and a panchromatic camera. Its main tasks include use in land resource surveys to monitor disaster prevention measures, disaster mitigation, agriculture, forestry, water conservancy and the environment. The satellite separated from the launch vehicle at 03:39 UTC.

Orbit details:

NORAD: 2011-079A/38038

2011 Dec 23
Meridian 5 Launch Failure
Soyuz 2-1b, Plesetesk SC LC-43/4
Military/government communications satellite for Molniya-type eccentric orbit - 1000 x 39700 km, 63° inclination, 724 minutes period. Launch failed through a problem with the Soyuz third stage that caused it to shut down early. Third stage, Fregat and Meridian fell near Ordynskoye, Novosibirsk.


Reserve dates Dec 24-27 inclusive, launch time would have moved earlier by four minutes per day.

Meridian combines the military and civilian tasks of the former Molniya-1 and Molniya-3 satellites, together with the clandestine communications function of the outgoing LEO Parus satellites.

2011 Dec 23
Soyuz TMA-03M Docking
Rassvet docking port. Precise time 15:19:14 UTC, about four minutes early. Hooks and latches were engaged a few minutes later.

2011 Dec 28
Globalstar 2 (6 satellites) launch
Soyuz 2-1a, Baikonur SC LC-31
Successful launch of a cluster of second generation LEO comsats into 920 kilometre circular orbit at 52°.0 inclination.

Reserve days were Dec 29 and Dec 30.

The satellite dispenser had two vehicles on its upper section that were released 98.6 minutes after lift off. Four satellites in the lower section were released simultaneously at 100.3 minutes.

Delayed from mid-August due to the postponement of the previous Soyuz/Globalstar launch earlier in the year and further delayed from October as a result of the 2011 August Soyuz-U launch failure (similar basic design). Pushed back three weeks from December 5 in order to replace one of the satellites that was built using a momentum wheel from a faulty batch that has affected satellites already in orbit. Not affected by the 2011 December Soyuz 2-1b failure (different 3rd stage engine).

Orbit data:


2011 Dec 31
GRAIL A - Lunar Arrival
Successful 40 minute engine firing to drop the spacecraft into orbit around the Moon. Parameters: 90 x 8363 km, 11.5 hrs period, inclination is near polar.

GRAIL-A was launched together with GRAIL-B 2011 Sep 10.

Launch details:

NORAD: 2011-046A/37801

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