Zarya - Soviet, Russian and International Spaceflight
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Launches and Orbital Operations


Tyneside, UK
2017 Jul 27
Thursday, Day 208

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Primary source of unclassified orbital elements

Orbital elements based on amateur observations

1959 - Launches to Orbit and Beyond

Listed are all launches, irrespective of outcome, that were irretrievably committed to flight towards orbit or intended to accelerate the payload to escape velocity.

Launch times are in UTC and are from the launching agency or estimated by 'walking back' along the ground track to the launch site. The PRIME source of orbit data and decay information is SpaceTrack. A minority of orbits is based on amateur observations using visual and radio techniques. Occasionally, early orbit data are published by satellite owners and may cover periods before SpaceTrack lists a new object. In extreme cases, orbits are estimated from public data.

Apogee and perigee are measured against the Earth's mean equatorial radius - 6378.145 km. Care should be exercised when comparing with other published orbits even when the source is shown as SpaceTrack.

Web sites may link to specific launches by pointing to the page URL followed by the three digit launch number, eg - http://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/Launches.php?year=1959#001


1959-001
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
1959 Jan 2, 16:41
Luna 1 (E-1 №4)
1959 μ 1
112
in space
Instrumented lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory aimed at hitting the Moon. A small error in the launching rocket trajectory meant it missed the Moon by about 9500 km and entered heliocentric orbit. The catalogue entry is out of sequence because it was allocated retrospectively when the system was firmed-up to include missions on escape trajectory. It was catalogued retrospectively late-1960, hence the out-of-sequence number.
In heliocentric orbit


1959-002
Vanguard SLV-4
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Feb 17, 15:55
Vanguard II
1959 α 1
11
in space
Scientific satellite to study the Earth's cloud cover.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Jun 19, 18:2483150.16515643309125.7632.8858


1959-003
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Feb 28, 21:49
Discoverer 1 (Corona R&D)
1959 β 1
13
Re-entered 1959 Mar 3
Prototype US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Uncertain that it actually reached orbit but it was nevertheless catalogued on the basis of what may have been erroneous tracking information.
Orbit details unavailable or awaited


1959-004
Juno II
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Mar 3, 05:10
Pioneer 4
1959 ν 1
113
in space
Lunar flyby spacecraft that then went into heliocentric orbit. The payload included radiation monitoring sensors and a lunar photography experiment. It passed within 60,000 km of the Moon's surface but not close enough to trigger the camera. It was catalogued retrospectively late-1960, hence the out-of-sequence number.
In heliocentric orbit


1959-005
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Apr 13, 21:18
Discoverer 2 (Corona R&D)
1959 γ 1
14
Re-entered 1959 Apr 26
Prototype US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Retrieval of film was unsuccessful - the re-entry vehicle probably overshot the recovery area near Hawaii.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Apr 13, 21:2666700.007923934590.3689.91155


Failed to reach orbit
Vanguard SLV-5
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Apr 14, 02:49
Vanguard
Scientific satellite to study electrical currents in the Earth's magnetic field and upper air density. Second stage separation was at the wrong attitude so the vehicle was deliberately destroyed.


Failed to reach orbit
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Jun 3, 20:09
Discoverer 3 (Corona R&D)
Prototype US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Launch vehicle failure prevented it from reaching orbit.


Failed to reach orbit
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
1959 Jun 18, 08:08
Luna (E-1 №5)
Instrumented lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory aimed at hitting the Moon. Failure of the launch vehicle inertial guidance system 153 seconds after lift-off led to the rocket being deliberately destroyed


Failed to reach orbit
Vanguard SLV-6
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Jun 22, 20:16
Vanguard
Scientific satellite to study solar radiation, radiation reflected from the Earth and long-wave radiation originating from the Earth. Second stage of the launch vehicle exploded.


Failed to reach orbit
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Jun 25, 22:47
Discoverer 4 (Corona 9001/KH-1)
US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Lost when launch vehicle upper stage failed.


Failed to reach orbit
Juno II
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Jul 16, 17:37
Explorer (S-1)
Scientific satellite with a cluster of instruments. Vehicle control lost at lift-off. Destroyed by Range Safety.


1959-006
Thor Able III
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Aug 7, 14:24
Explorer 6 (S-2)
1959 δ 1
15
Re-entered 1961 Jun 30
Satellite designed to study trapped radiation around the Earth, galactic cosmic rays, geomagnetism, radio propagation in the upper atmosphere, and the flux of micrometeorites. It also tested a scanning imager designed for photographing the Earth's cloud cover, and transmitted the first pictures of Earth from orbit.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Aug 8, 15:50277390.760925442467766.2846.9536


1959-007
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Aug 13, 19:00
Discoverer 5 (Corona 9002/KH-1)
1959 ε 1
18
Re-entered 1959 Sep 28
US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Remained in orbit after the power supply system failed.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Aug 14, 08:3368520.037721573294.0780.00155


Failed to reach orbit
Juno II
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Aug 15, 00:31
Explorer (Beacon 2)
High visibility balloon to be used as a visual target for air density measurement and serve as a radar target.


1959-008
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Aug 19, 19:24
Discoverer 6 (Corona 9003/KH-1)
1959 ζ 1
19
Re-entered 1959 Oct 20
US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Retro-fire failed so re-entry vehicle not recovered.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Aug 20, 10:4369050.046320884695.1884.00140


1959-009
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
1959 Sep 12, 06:39
Luna 2 (E-1 №6)
1959 ξ 1
114
Re-entered 1959 Sep 13
Instrumented lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory aimed at hitting the Moon. Destroyed on successful Lunar impact 1959 September 13 at 21:02:24 UTC. The catalogue entry is out of sequence because it was allocated retrospectively when the system was firmed-up to include missions on escape trajectory. It was catalogued retrospectively late-1960, hence the out-of-sequence number.
In orbit around the Moon or on its surface


Failed to reach orbit
Thor Able II
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Sep 17, 14:34
Transit 1A
First generation, experimental navigation satellite, lost when the launch vehicle third stage failed.


1959-010
Vanguard TV-4BU
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Sep 18, 05:20
Vanguard III
1959 η 1
20
in space
Scientific satellite with a magnetometer and x-ray sensors.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Sep 18, 04:4885170.19005203757130.3733.34134


1959-011
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
1959 Oct 4, 00:43
Luna 3 (E-2A)
1959 θ 1
21
Re-entered 1960 Apr 20
Lunar spacecraft equipped with imaging system on direct ascent trajectory. Starting Nov 7 at 03:30 UTC, over a period of 40 minutes, it took 29 photographs of the hidden side of the Moon from an altitude of 65,200 km. Film was developed automatically aboard the spacecraft and then scanned to allow radio transmission of the images.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Oct 5, 02:202566270.973250049999821563.2255.0045


1959-012
Juno II
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Oct 13, 15:30
Explorer 7 (S-1A)
1959 ι 1
22
in space
Scientific satellite with a cluster of instruments.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Oct 17, 03:4972030.03685601090101.4050.2767


1959-013
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Nov 7, 20:28
Discoverer 7 (Corona 9004/KH-1)
1959 κ 1
24
Re-entered 1959 Nov 26
US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Decayed naturally.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Nov 8, 19:3268680.048215982194.4181.64162


1959-014
Thor Agena A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA
1959 Nov 20, 19:25
Discoverer 8 (Corona 9005/KH-1)
1959 λ 1
25
Re-entered 1960 Mar 8
US film recovery reconnaissance satellite. Re-entry for recovery proved not possible because the orbit was too eccentric.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1959 Nov 20, 20:3273030.10051911659103.5180.60156


Failed to reach orbit
Atlas Able
Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
1959 Nov 26, 07:26
Pioneer P-3
Lunar orbiter equipped with an imaging sytem, a micrometeoroid detector and a magnetometer. It was lost when the launch vehicle payload shroud detached after 46 seconds and the vehicle was destroyed by Range Safety. Pioneer P-3 was originally built as Pioneer P-1 but its launch vehicle was destroyed on the pad by an explosion 1959 Sep 24. At the time Pioneer P-1 was not attached to the rocket.


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