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Launches and Orbital Operations


Tyneside, UK
2020 Jan 22
Wednesday, Day 22

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Cleared The Tower!

This page looks back one month at launches, plus on-orbit and re-entry or landing events of satellites and spacecraft.

Dates and times are in UTC and are derived from a mix of open sources and private contacts within the industry. Notes are prepared through a combination of research and information released by satellite owners, operators and manufacturers, space agencies and launch service providers.

Nothing from this web page may be reproduced without express permission from the site owner who can be contacted via the mail icon on this page - see Copyright Notice at the foot of the page.

Elektro L-3 Launch
Proton-M + DM-3, Baikonur, Russia
2019 Dec 24, 12:03 UTC
Second generation Russian geosynchronous metsat. It provides a multispectral image of the complete visible hemisphere every 30 minutes with the interval increased to 15 minutes to cope with emergencies and natural disasters. The satellite also carries a COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue system receiver. Expected location 165°.8 east. Precise launch time: 12:03:02 UTC Orbit notes: https://www.zarya.info/2019#095 Satellites in geosynchronous orbit: https://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/GeoSS/geo-age.php


Gonets M 14, 15 and 16 Launch
Rokot + Briz-KM, Plesetsk, Russia
2019 Dec 26, 23:11 UTC
Successful launch of three Gonets-M store/dump communications relay satellites for the Gonets constellation. The launch vehicle also carried a BLITS-M (Ball Lens In The Space) satellite. It is a spherical, made of glass, 22cm cm in diameter and will act as laser retro reflector. It will be used to make high precision geodetic measurements. Background info: http://www.zarya.info/Tracking/StrelaGonets/StrelaGonets.php Gonets system website: https://www.gonets.ru/rus/ Final use of this version of Rockot to launch an orbital space mission. Orbit notes: https://www.zarya.info/2019#096


ISS - Orbit Adjustment
ISS, on orbit
2019 Dec 27, 01:28 UTC
Thrusters of Progress MS-13 fired for 576 seconds to provide Δv 0.56 m/s and raised the orbit height by about 0.8 km.


ISS - Orbit Adjustment
ISS, on orbit
2019 Dec 27, 04:36 UTC
Thrusters of Progress MS-13 fired for 494 seconds to provide Δv 0.48 m/s and raised the orbit height by about 0.6 km. Use of two engine firings, rather than a single one was dictated by the safety requirements of the Progress thrusters. The ISS orbit is now set up to optimise the ground track for Soyuz MS-13 return to Earth 2020 February.


Shijian 20 Launch
CZ 5, Wenchang SC, China
2019 Dec 27, 12:45 UTC
Large communications satellite. Launch will repeat the attempted mission from 2017 ( https://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/Launches.php?year=2017#F03 ) where the Shijian 18 satellite was lost when its CZ 5 launch vehicle failed. Launch notes: https://www.zarya.info/2019#097


Starlink v1.0 Launch 2
Falcon 9 Block 5, CCAFS
2020 Jan 7, 02:19 UTC
Cluster of 60 broadband communications satellites for SpaceX. Aimed at 450 km orbit, 53° inclination. https://directory.eoportal.org/web/eoportal/satellite-missions/s/starlink Postponed from Jan 4. Reserve date Jan 8. The upper stage of the Falcon 9 was caused to re-enter after about 1.5 circuits of the Earth and about two hours after lift-off. Any surviving fragments from its destructive re-entry impacted the southern Indian Ocean. Orbit notes: https://www.zarya.info/2020#001


SpaceX Dragon CRS-19 departue
ISS, on orbit
2020 Jan 7, 10:05 UTC
Released from ISS remote manipulator, by ISS crew, two minutes later than planned, into independent orbit. Will have been undocked from Harmony module under ground control several hours earlier. Originally scheduled for Jan 6 at 02:41 UTC but postponed to backup day and a more-northerly splash-down zone because of expected high seas in the recovery area. NASA TV coverage from 04:45 UTC: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#public http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv


TJS 5 Launch
CZ 3B, Xichang SC, China
2020 Jan 7, 15:20 UTC
Government/military satellite - probably either a SIGINT (signals intelligence) or a missile early warning mission - aimed at geosynchronous orbit. Orbit notes: https://www.zarya.info/2020#002 Chinese satellites in GEO: http://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/GeoSS/geo-PRC.php


SpaceX Dragon CRS-19 landing
ISS, on orbit
2020 Jan 7, 15:42 UTC
Splashdown in Pacific Ocean off California near 31° north, 121° west. Followed retro-fire approx 14:47 UTC. Originally scheduled for Jan 6 at 08:21 UTC but moved to backup day because of high seas in the original landing zone. Orbit notes: https://www.zarya.info/2019#083


Jilin 1 Wide Field 01, ÑuSat 7 & ÑuSat 8 and Tianqi 4C Launch
CZ 2D, Taiyuan SC, China
2020 Jan 15, 02:53 UTC
Aimed at sun-synchronous orbit with LTDN 10:00. Time was the opening of a five minute launch window. Jilin 1 Additional member of the Jilin 1 Earth observation constellation - equipped with a wide field imaging system. ÑuSat 7 (Sophie) & ÑuSat 8 (Marie) Pair of small satellites from Satellogic of Argentina to provide earth images in the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum using real-time imaging and video. Tianqi-4 C Broadband comsat providing links between Internet-connected items. Launch notes: https://www.zarya.info/2020#003 Chinese satellites in sun-synchronous orbit: http://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/GeoSS/ss-PRC.php


ISS EVA
Quest Airlock, US Segment, ISS
2020 Jan 15, 11:35 UTC
One in a set spacewalks to repair the ISS Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) experiment mounted on the outside of the station. The job is particularly complex because the instrument was not designed to be repaired. Participants - Jessica Meir (NASA) and Christina Koch (NASA). Spacewalk began 15 mins ahead of schedule and was completed at 17:04 UTC after 7hr 29 min. Background notes: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ams-spacewalks-attempt-to-revive-scientific-experiment


Yinhe 01 (SparkSat 01) Launch
Kuaizhou 1A, Jiuquan SC, China
2020 Jan 16, 03:02 UTC
Comsat to provided 5G data connections between items of Internet-connected equipment. Satellite owner, GalaxySpace, aims to develop a 1000 satellite constellation. Delayed from Jan 12. Orbit Notes: https://www.zarya.info/2020#004


Eutelsat Konnect and GSat 30 Launch
Ariane 5ECA (VA-251), CSG, French Guiana
2020 Jan 16, 21:05 UTC
Launch was at the opening of a 105 minute window. Two comsats for geosynchronous transfer orbit: Eutelsat Konnect High-capacity broadband satellite to deliver services across Europe and Africa, supporting community networks connected to Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile phone backhauling and rural connectivity. Expected location 13° east. GSat 30 High capacity comsat owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation. Will replace Insat 4A. Expected location 83° east. Arianespace launch kit: https://www.arianespace.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/VA251-launchkit-EN.pdf Orbit notes: https://www.zarya.info/2020#005 Satellites in geosynchronous orbit: https://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/GeoSS/geo-age.php


Crew Dragon Abort Test
Falcon 9, CCAFS
2020 Jan 19, 15:30 UTC
Full test of Dragon abort system. Launch of Falcon 9 was followed by firing of Dragon escape rockets to simulate departure from a failed launch vehicle. Escape rocket ignition was triggered when the Falcon 9 initiated was deliberately shut down just after time of Max-Q, 80 or so seconds after lift off. The Falcon 9 was destroyed by an explosion when aerodynamic forces triggered a break-up. Dragon spacecraft splashdown was successful. SpaceX was expecting to recover Falcon 9 debris from the Atlantic Ocean. Press kit: https://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/in-flight_abort_test_press_kit.pdf Time was within a six hour hour launch window that opened at 13:00 UTC. Delayed from Jan 18 due to sea conditions in the splash-down zone. ">http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv-->


ISS EVA
Quest Airlock, US Segment, ISS
2020 Jan 20, 11:35 UTC
One in a set spacewalks to repair the ISS Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) experiment mounted on the outside of the station. The job is particularly complex because the instrument was not designed to be repaired. Participants - Jessica Meir (NASA) and Christina Koch (NASA). Started 35 min ahead of schedule. Completed at 18:33 UTC after 6 hr 58 min. Background notes: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ams-spacewalks-attempt-to-revive-scientific-experiment



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