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Launches and Orbital Operations


Tyneside, UK
2020 Feb 17
Monday, Day 48

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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.

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


ISS - Orbit Adjustment, part 1
ISS, on orbit
2020 Jan 23, 14:15 UTC
Thrusters of Progress MS-13 fired for 564 seconds to provide Δv 0.56 m/s and raised the orbit height by about 0.8 km. One of a pair of orbit changes to set up the ground track for Soyuz MS-13 on Feb 6.


ISS - Orbit Adjustment, part 2
ISS, on orbit
2020 Jan 23, 17:23 UTC
Thrusters of Progress MS-13 fired for 282 seconds to provide Δv 0.28 m/s and raised the orbit height by about 0.4km. Second of a pair of orbit changes to set up the ground track for Soyuz MS-13 on Feb 6.


ISS EVA
Quest Airlock, US Segment, ISS
2020 Jan 25, 12:04 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 - Luca Parmitano (ESA) and Andrew Morgan (NASA). Started 14 mins later than after releasing a strap caught between the equipment lock and crew lock. Completed 18:20 UTC after 6 hr 16 min. Background notes: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ams-spacewalks-attempt-to-revive-scientific-experiment NASA TV coverage from 10:30 UTC: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#public http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv ESA TV coverage from 11:50 UTC: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/ESA_Web_TV


Starlink v1.0 Launch 3
Falcon 9 Block 5, CCAFS
No earlier than
2020 Jan 29, 14:06 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 The upper stage of the Falcon 9 will be 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 will impact the southern Indian Ocean. Delayed from Jan 20 by weather in the launch area.


US Government Satellite Launch
Electron (NROL-151), Rocket Lab LC-1, Wairoa, New Zealand
No earlier than
2020 Jan 31, 02:54 UTC
Probably a cluster of small satellites with missions relating to intelligence gathering for the US National Reconnaissance Office. Precise details not known. Orbit aimed at 71° inclination. Delayed from 00:01 UTC by weather. Launch vehicle procured under a Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract. Will probably be given numbers in the 'USA' series once in orbit. Launch window is open until 04:00 UTC, and the potential launch period runs until Feb. 13. Webcast from 15 mins before llft-off: https://www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream/


SS Alan Bean (Cygnus NG-12) Departure
ISS, on orbit
2020 Jan 31, 14:36 UTC
Released from ISS RMS, under control of ISS crew, into independent orbit where it will remain for about four weeks before it executes a destructive re-entry. Undocking, under ground control, was several hours earlier. Cygnus carries a number of Cubesats that will be released during the first few hours of free flight.


Soyuz MS-13 Undocking
ISS
2020 Feb 6, 05:50 UTC
Carrying Aleksandr Skortsov, Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch.


Soyuz MS-13 Landing
ISS
2020 Feb 6, 09:13 UTC
Carrying Aleksandr Skortsov, Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch. Touchdown approx 150 km SE of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Retro-fire was at 08:18 UTC.


OneWeb Launch 2
Soyuz-2 1B + Fregat-M, Baikonur SC, Russia
2020 Feb 6, 21:42 UTC
Cluster of 34 satellites for the OneWeb constellation of broadband distribution satellites. https://oneweb.world/technology


IGS Optical 7 Launch
HIIA 202 (F-41), Tanegashima SC, Japan
2020 Feb 9, 01:34 UTC
Optical imaging reconnaissance satellite. The time is the opening of a five minute window. It will result in sun-synchronous orbit with LTDN at 10:30. Postponed 24 hrs from Jan 27 due to weather. Technical issue (leak in ground equipment nitrogen feed for air conditioning of the rocket) stopped countdown for Jan 28 launch - subsequently determined as resulting from corrosion. Orbital elements will not be made available via Space-Track.


Zafar Launch
Simorgh, Imam Khomeini SC, Semnan, Iran
2020 Feb 9, 15:45 UTC
Imaging remote sensing satellite for monitoring natural resources, and agricultural and environmental developments. Also carries a low-bandwidth messaging broadcasting system. Expected orbit 530 km, 54° inclination. Lost when launch vehicle failed to impart sufficient velocity to maintain orbit, re-entered above south Pacific Ocean. Notes: https://www.zarya.info/2020#F01


Solar Orbiter Launch
Atlas V 441, CCAFS, USA
2020 Feb 10, 04:03 UTC
Joint ESA/NASA Solar probe placed into an elliptical heliocentric orbit with perihelion 42 million km and 168 days orbital period. The orbit will be resonant with that of Venus. Arrival will be early 2021 after using gravity assist from Venus. It will then use the gravity of Venus to raise the inclination to 25° relative to the ecliptic plane. The orbit has been chosen to allow about four weeks "dwell" time above a fixed location on the Sun each time the vehicle passes through perihelion. Time was the opening of a two hour window. Mission notes https://sci.esa.int/web/solar-orbiter/home


SS Robert H Lawrence (Cygnus NG-13) Launch
Antares, Wallops Island, USA
2020 Feb 15, 20:21 UTC
Successful launch of Supplies to ISS. Launch attempt Feb 9 was called off shortly before liftoff due to telemetry indicating a possible problem with an item of ground equipment. Further postponed from Feb 14 due to high level winds.



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