Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status Report #72

Frontier Status Report #72

November 21, 1997

Dale M. Gray

Three launches for the third week in a row. Three satellites have problems in orbit. Lots of business news. ORBCOMM preparing for launching a new constellation. Highlights reported for the week include:

  • Shuttle Columbia STS-87 launches on time Nov 19
  • Spartan malfunctions after deployment from Shuttle.
  • Soyuz launches with Resurs-F1M satellite Nov 18
  • Mir recovers from power failure during solar panel test
  • ISS crews named
  • Black Brant IX sounding rocket launched Nov 18


With only a 60% chance of acceptable weather, the Shuttle Columbia pressed through a number of small problems during the pre-launch preparations to make a picture-perfect launch on Nov 19 at 2:46 EST. After the Orbiter had shed its SRB's, it made a half roll to "heads-up" while accelerating beyond Mach 10.

The 40-second roll, about 6 minutes into the flight, is the first usage of the new Operational Increment-26 Software developed by Lockheed Martin Space Mission Systems and Services. It allowed the Shuttle to communicate with satellites overhead instead of the traditional Bermuda tracking station. This station, which monitored all previous eastern flights, is slated to be closed, saving the program $5 million per year (Doug Pratt, CIS Rocketry forum; Flatoday).

The crew of Columbia includes three Americans and three foreign- born mission specialists. The sixteen-day space science mission is commanded by Kevin Kregel and piloted by Steven Lindsey. Leonid Kadenyuk, from the Ukraine, will be the first person from his country to fly in the shuttle. Kalpana Chawla is the second Indian in space and the first to fly the shuttle. Takao Doi, from Japan, will be the first Japanese astronaut to make a space walk. On Tues, Nov 25, Doi will exit the Shuttle with American Mission Specialist Winston Scott to test a 17-foot crane in the Shuttle bay that will be used in the construction of the International Space Station. Scott will also hand-deploy the Sprint free-flying inspection robot which will be used on the ISS for external inspections (Flatoday; CBS).

One of the highlights of the mission was to have been the two-day deployment of the SPARTAN free-flying satellite. Unfortunately, the craft malfunctioned immediately after it was deployed by the Shuttle robot arm. It did not perform an initial programmed maneuver and then started tumbling when the Shuttle crew attempted to regrapple it. After an hour, the satellite shut itself down as programmed. The instruments on the 1,364 kg craft were to have been used in conjunction with the previously launched S0HO spacecraft to study solar winds and solar flares. The deployment was delayed a day when SOHO went into safe mode early Wednesday. The event was caused by a problem with the Attitude Control Unit on the satellite. SOHO had recovered by Thursday morning allowing the deployment of SPARTAN. NASA is now attempting to retrieve the inert SPARTAN (LS; Flatoday).

The Shuttle Atlantis arrived safely in Palmdale last week, but not without the discovery of a problem with the system used to fasten the Shuttle to the 747 that carried it. Upon arrival it was found that two washers had been inadvertently left off critical bolts. While the bolts did have one washer each, the system was designed to have two and some minor damage to the connection system occurred during the westward flight. For the next nine months the Orbiter cockpit will be modernized from 1970s' technology to the state-of- the-art "glass cockpit" that employs eleven color computer displays instead of screens and mechanical gauges (Flatoday).


Around noon Friday, Nov 14, an emergency situation was reported on the orbiting station. The problem occurred when the station lost power while testing connections to the newly-installed solar panel. The problem was ultimately traced to a mistake made by a ground controller. Also lost were the motion-control computer, oxygen generator and CO2 removal system. The crew was able to keep the station's solar panels oriented at the sun using the attached Soyuz TM-26. Batteries were replaced in the motion-control computer and it was back on line on Friday Other systems were not restored until Sunday night. The complex solar panel test was conducted again on Thursday, Nov 20 with preventative measures in place to assure that the power failure would not be repeated (LS; Flatoday).

On Nov 18, the crew was able to move equipment and cables to prepare for the installation of a new CO2 removal system in the core module. The system had been brought up to the station in September on the Shuttle. Since then, two spacewalks modified the exterior of the station to accommodate the system's exhaust. The system is expected to be on line by the end of the week, replacing the aging system in Kvant-1 module (Flatoday).


NASA and the Russian Space Agency have announced the names of the second, third and fourth crews to occupy the International Space Station. The first crew, named early last year, will contain William M. Shepherd (Capt., USN), the expedition commander; Yuri Gidzenko (Col., Russian Air Force), the Soyuz vehicle commander; and cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, the flight engineer. This crew will be carried to the evolving station by a Soyuz in 1999. Thereafter both command and crew will alternate between America and Russia. Transportation for crew rotation will also alternate between Soyuz and Shuttle. The second crew, Russian commander Yuri Usachev and NASA astronauts James Voss and Susan Helms, will ride to orbit on a Shuttle in the summer of 1999 (NASA).


A Soyuz SL-4 rocket carrying the Resurs-F1M satellite was launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome 6:15 am EST on Nov 18. The 5,727 Kg reconnaissance satellite was placed in a 89 minute - 264 by 191 km orbit inclined 82.3 degrees. After 25 days, photographs will be returned to Earth in a returnable unit while the satellite will be destroyed by reentry. Photographs will reportedly be used by various branches of the Russian economy (LS; Flatoday).


A Black Brant sounding rocket was launched from White Sands Missile Range at 2:35 pm EST on Nov 18. The rocket contained a NASA instrument to study coronal holes, sunspots, and coronal emissions. The instrument operated correctly and data was obtained (LS).


The launch of the H-2 carrying NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission was postponed from its scheduled Nov 18 launch due to a problem with clock onboard the spacecraft. While the clock has a back-up, it plays a key role in synchronizing other on-board clocks. The launch from the Tanegashima Space Center has been rescheduled for no earlier than Nov 27 (Flatoday).


TOMS-EP: Strong electromagnetic interference on Nov 16 caused NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer-Earth Probe (TOMS- EP) to enter a "safe mode". The probe was launched into a 500-mile orbit by a Pegasus XL rocket last July and has since returned daily measurements of the global ozone layer. The craft will return to operation with only four days loss of data (LS).

ORBCOMM: Ten ORBCOMM satellites have been delivered to Orbital Science's facilities at Vandenberg AFB. Two of the 42 kg satellites will be installed in a ground-launched Taurus booster while the remaining eight will be installed in an aircraft-launched Pegasus XL rocket. The constellation of thirty-six satellites will be placed in a 500-mile orbit where they will provide two-way data and messaging communications and provide a link to small instrument packs in vehicles, containers, vessels and remote fixed sites. Each satellite has a designed life of about 2.5 years (Flatoday).


Toshiba: Toshiba has announced a three-year contract to produce solar panels for satellites built by Space Systems/Loral. The first panels to be produced under the $15.9 million contract will be placed on three satellites built for CD Radio. Previously Toshiba supplied solar panels to Loral for the Agila-2 and Apstar-2R satellites. The solar panels will be manufactured on a new line at the Toshiba's Komukai Works in Kanagawa prefecture (Newsbytes).

Thiokol: The US government recently granted permission for Thiokol Corp to sell solid-fuel rocket boosters to Japan. The strap- on boosters will be used on the new H-IIA under development by Mitsubishi for NASDA. The booster will incorporate the Castor IVA-XlL solid-rocket motor which is currently utilized by Lockheed Martin in their Atlas II. Production is set to begin in Sept 1998 with first delivery in 2000 and 2001 (Flatoday).

Intelsat: For over a year, Intelsat and Columbia Communications have disputed ownership of an orbital slot at 40.5 degrees west longitude. The slot is currently occupied by NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-4. Columbia currently leases capacity on the satellite. However, Intelsat claims that a 1991 agreement gives them rights to the slot after Dec 31, 1997 and plans to occupy it with Intelsat 806 now under construction. Negotiations have resumed this past week after a month's hiatus (SN).

EOSAT: DSI-Dubai Space Imaging and Space Imaging EOSAT have entered an agreement to provide Middle East customers with timely, detailed imagery of the area. The information from EOSAT's Indian Remote Sensing (IRS-1C and IRS-1D) will be collected at a receiving station in the UAE. The information will be used for oil and mineral exploration, agriculture, urban planning and other uses (EUSAT press release).


(Courtesy J. Ray, and R. Baalke)

  • Nov 27 - H-2, ETS-7 rendezvous-docking system & Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, Tanegashima Space Center, Japan.
  • Late Nov - Start-1, Svobodny, Russia.
  • Dec 1 - Ariane 44L, Flight 103, JCSat-5 and Equator-S, Kourou, French Guiana.
  • Dec 3 - ILS Proton, ASTRA-1G, Baikonur, Kazakstan
  • Dec - Pegasus XL, ORBCOMM comsats and Celestis-2, Wallops Flight Facility, VA
  • Dec 5 - Landing, Columbia, Kennedy Space Center
  • Dec 5 - Long March 2C/SD, two Iridium sats, Taiyuan Satellite Launching Facility, China.
  • Dec 7 - Long March 3B, Chinastar-1, Xichang Satellite Launching Facility, China.
  • Dec 8 - Atlas 2AS, AC-149, Galaxy 8I, pad 36B, Cape Canaveral Air Station.
  • Dec 11 - Pegasus XL, ORBCOMM-1 (five comsats), Wallops Flight Facility, VA.
  • Dec 16 - Delta 2, Flight 251, Iridium (five comsats), SLC-2, Vandenberg AFB
  • Dec 18 - Orbital Sciences Taurus, two ORBCOMM comsats, Celestis- 2, SLC-576, Vandenberg AFB
  • Jan 5 - Athena-2, Lunar Prospector, Cape Canaveral Air Station.


With the launch of Columbia, the space population has risen from the baseline of three to nine. There are two Russians and one American on Mir. The Shuttle's international crew includes three Americans, and mission specialists representing India, Japan and Ukraine. This marks the completion of 2996 day of continuous human presence in space beginning with the reoccupation of Mir on September 8, 1989. As of STS-87, 367 people, representing 25 nations, have flown one or more missions in space (for further info, check out

Index for Frontier Status Report 1997

Home Tour Join! Contents Team News Catalog Search Comm
Sources of information. ASI W9900224r1.1
Frontier Status Report is written by Dale M. Gray. Maintained by by Jim Sealy Jr.
Additional web formatting by Simone Cortesi. FSR is also archived on the web at
Copyright © 2001 Artemis Society International, for the contributors. Updated Sat, Oct 20, 2001
Maintained with WebSite Director. Internet services provided courtesy of CyberTeams.