News Notes - 2012
- DEC 19 - BRITISH MILCOMSAT AND MEXICAN GEOCOMSAT LAUNCHED
An Ariane 5 rocket launched the two satellites SKYNET 5D and MEXSAT 3 from Kourou.
The British satellite supports UHF and X-band communications with jamming countermeasures.
- DEC 18 - TURKISH SURVEILLANCE SATELLITE ORBITED
A Long March 2D rocket launched Gokturk 2 into orbit from the Chinese site at Jiuquan. The satellite will provide 2.5 metre resolution imagery for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes.
- DEC 17 - GRAIL SPACECRAFT HIT MOON
- The two NASA Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft hit the north polar region of the moon at around 1.7 km/s. The targeted impact occurred near Goldschmidt crater after one year of operations.
- DEC 12 - FIRST SUCCESSFUL NORTH KOREAN SATELLITE LAUNCH
KMS 33-2 (Kwangmtongsong 3) was launched by a Unha rocket from Sohae in North Korea. This is the first North Korean satellite to make it into orbit, but it is suspected that its
3-axis control system did not stabilise the satellite attitude.
- DEC 11 - SECOND TEST OF USAF ORBITAL TEST VEHICLE
An Atlas rocket launched from Cape canaveral carryied the US Air Force Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-3) or X37B unmanned reusable satellite.
- DEC 3 - EUTELSAT COMSAT WILL PROVIDE AUSTRALIAN SERVICES
- A Zenit 3 launched Eutelsat W5A from the Odyssey sea launch platform. Located at
70.5 degrees east, this satellite will provide communication services for European, African, Asian and Australian customers.
- DEC 2 - FRENCH DIGITAL IMAGING SATELLITE LAUNCHED
A Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat rocket launched Plieades 1B from Kourou. This satellite has very high resolution digital sensors.
- NOV 25 - CHINESE REMOTE SENSING TRIPLET LAUNCHED
An LM-4C launched three remote sensing satellites from Jiuquan. Yaogan 16A, 16B and 16C are expected to fly in formation.
- NOV 18 - FIRST CHINESE RADARSAT LAUNCHED
A LM-2C rocket launched Huan Jing 1C from Tsiyuan. HJ-1C is the first radar satellite to be used for environmental and disaster monitoring. It will work in conjunction with HJ-1A and HJ-1B optical satellites.
- NOV 29 - ICE ON MERCURY
- Scientists working with multiple data streams from
the NASA Mercury Messenger Spacecraft have now confirmed that Mercury's polar regions do contain water ice. It is found in
the bottom of permanently shadowed craters.
- NOV 2 - TWO RUSSIAN COMSATS LAUNCHED
A Proton-M launch from Baikonur launched Yamal 300K, a conventional geocomsat, and
Luch 5B which is a relay satellite. It has the ability to track and relay data from LEOsats in S and Ku-band, and it also carries a laser communication device.
- OCT 25 - CHINESE GEONAVSAT LAUNCHED
An LM-2C launching from Xichang carried Beidou G6 toward GEO.
- OCT 23 - ASTRONAUT AND TWO COSMONAUTS VISIT ISS
A Soyuz FG rocket carried three crew to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Soyuz-TMA 6M spacecraft.
- OCT 17 - PLANET FOUND AROUND NEAREST STAR
- Astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting around Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun. The discovery was made with the 3.6-metre telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.
- OCT 14 - TWO CHINESE TECNOLOGY DEMONSTRATOR SATELLITES
An LM-2C launching from Taiyuan has orbited Shijian 9A and 9B to demonstrate electric propulsion systems.
- OCT 12 - TWO GALILEO TEST NAVIGATION SATELLITES LAUNCHED
A Soyuz rocket launched Galileo FM3 and FM4 were launched into MEO from Kourou. These plus two earlier satellites will undergo a comprehensive test campaign to validate the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).
- OCT 8 - SPACEX LAUNCHES DRAGON
The private company Spacex used a Falcon 9 rocket to launch their Dragon CRS1 spacecraft on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. A secondary payload was the Orbcomm OG2 satellite. This however, could not be deployed because of a minor glitch in the Falcon 1 ascent phase (early engine shutdown).
- OCT 4 - GPS NAVSAT LAUNCHED
A Delta 4 rocket launched NAVSTAR 67 into MEO from Cape Canaveral. NAVSTAR 67 is a GPS II-F series satellite and will take over the position of the GPS 2A-15 satellite.
- SEP 29 - FIRST VENEZUELAN REMOTE SENSING SATELLITE
The VRSS 1 satellite built by China for Venezuela was launched into LEO from Jiuquan. China will be responsible for data acquisition and processing.
- SEP 18 - TWO MORE BEIDOU>COMPASS NAVSATS LAUNCHED
An LM-3B rocket launched Beidou M5 and M6 from Xichang. These are the 14th and 15th spacecraft in the Chinese GNSS.
- SEP 17 - FIRST EUROPEAN POLAR METSAT IN ORBIT
A Soyuz-2.1a rocket launched METOP-B from Baikonur. The main tasks are to measure temperature and humidity of the atmosphere, observe clouds, measure ocean surface wind speeds and monitor atmospheric ozone.
- SEP 13 - MULTIPLE SATELLITES LAUNCHED FROM VANDENBERG
An Atlas V rocket launched 12 satellites from Vandeburg. The prime payload was USA 238, two US Navy Ocean Surveillance satellites. Other satellites were SMDC ONE 1.1 and SMDC ONE 1.2, which are rapid development military demonstrators that realy data from tactical ground stations, Re or STARE, Space Based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris, CXBN,which measures the cosmic ray background, CSSWE which will attempt to determine the relationship between solar flares and energetic particles, CP5 which will deply a small solar sail, CINEMA which will observe the ring current, AEROCUBE 4, 4.5A and 4.5B which were built and will be operated by the Aerospace Corporation, and AENEAS, which will employ WiFi technology to track cargo containers over the open ocean.
- SEP 9 - NEW EUROPEAN SPOT SATELLITE LAUNCHED
An Indian PLSV-CA vehicle launched the SPOT 6 high-resolution remote sensing satellite from the Sriharikota site in India.
- AUG 30 - TWO US SPACE WEATHER SATELLITES TO MEASURE RADIATION BELTS
An Atlas 5 rocket was used to launch Van Allen Probe A and B, also known as Radiation Belt Storm Probes RBSP-A and RBSP-B from Cape Canaveral. These satellites will study the properties of particles in the trapped radiation belts around the Earth (known as the Van Allen belts) and the plasma waves that interact with them. Scientists using these satellites in particular hope to understand the addition and removal of particles in these belts.
- JUL 28 - RUSSIAN QUADRUPLE SATELLITE LAUNCH
A Rockot/Breeze-KM vehicle launched 4 satellites into orbit from Plesetck. These included Cosmos 2481, a military store and dump comsat, Gonets M03 and M04 civilian store and dump comsats, and Yubeleiny 2, a student satellite carrying space technology experiments as well as new radio equipment, attitude/orientation control systems, a webcam and solar power experiments.
- JUL 22 - RUSSIA LAUNCHES TWO MARINE SATELLITES
A Soyuz FG rocket launched MKA-FK1 and ExactView 1 from Baikonur Cosmodrome.
MKA-FKA1 is designed to measure ocean salinity and temperature. ExactView is a Canadian satellite to monitor shipping movements using AIS signals from ships. Also launched on this mission was the German technology demonstration satellite TET 1.
- JUL 21 - JAPANESE RESUPPLY ISS
HTV 3 (Kounotori 3) was launched by an H-2B rocket from Tanegashima to the International Space Station carrying 6 tons of supplies including 5 cubesats due to be released from the ISS in September.
- JUL 15 - RUSSIA SENDS COSMONAUT AND TWO ASTRONAUTS TO ISS
A Soyuz FG rocket launched a Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying a Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut and a Japanese astronaut to the International Space Station from Baikonur.
- JUL 5 - EUROPE LAUNCHES METSAT AND COMMSAT
The geosynchronous orbit meteorological satellite MSG 3 was launched from Kourou by an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. Also orbited was the Echostar 17 communications satellite.
- JUN 29 - CLASSIFIED US MILSAT LAUNCHED
USA 237 was launched by a Delta 4 rocket from Cape Canaveral for the National Reconnaissance Office.
- JUN 20 - US MILSAT TO RELAY DATA FROM LEO RECONNAISSANCE SATE
An Atlas V launched USA 236 / NROL-38 into a highly elliptical orbit from Cape Canaveral. This satellite is believed to be part of the Satellite Data System (SDS) which is used to relay imagery from reconnaissance satellites in LEO.
- JUN 16 - CHINESE FLIGHT DOCKS WITH CHINESE SPACE STATION
The man-rated spacecraft Shenzhou 9 was launched from Jiuquan by an LM-2F rocket. It will perform a rendezvous and docking test with the Tiangong 1 space station module.
- JUN 13 - SMALL XRAY TELESCOPE IN LEO
NuSTAR was launched from Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands by a Pegasus XL rocket dropped from an aircraft. The satellite will study supermassive black holes and the creation of heavy elements in supernovae using a high energy X-ray telescope.
- JUN 1 - SEA LAUNCH OF INTELSAT 19
The Sea Launch company launched the satellite from the Odyssey Launch Platform in the Pacific Ocean with a Zenit 3SL rocket. Intelsat 19 will replace Intelsat 8.
- MAY 29 - CHINESE REMOTE SENSING SATELLITE
Yaogan 15 was launched from Taiyun on an LM-4C rocket.
- MAY 26 - CHINESE MILCOMSAT
Chinasat 2A was launched from Xichang by an LM-3B rocket.
- MAY 25 - SKA LOW IN AUSTRALIA
- The SKA project office has announced that the low frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA-low) will be built at the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia. SKA-high will be built in South Africa.
The SKA is the next generation of radio telescopes with capabilities substantially exceeding the current generation of radio telescopes.
- MAY 17 - JAPAN LAUNCHES FOUR SATELLITES WITH H-2A ROCKET
Launched from Tanegashima, the satellites included SDS 4, a Small Demonstration Satellite used to test new technologies and devices, the Korean Multi-Purpose Satellite KOMPSAT 3 with high resolution (0.7 metre) imaging capability, Horyu 2 to test a high voltage solar array and observe spacecraft charging effects, and GCOM-W1 (Global Change Observation Mission -Water) to study water circulation systems in the Earth's atmosphere. This last satellite was the heaviest and primary satellite of the launch.
- MAY 15 - TWO COSMONAUTS, ONE ASTRONAUT CARRIED TO THE ISS
A Soyuz TMA-04M was launched from Baikonur ot the International Space Station. It is scheduled to remain docked to the ISS until 17 September, and then return to Kazakhstan.
- MAY 15 - VIETNAMESE AND JAPANESE COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE IN GEO
Vinasat 2 was launched from Kourou by an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. It carries 24 Ku-band transponders and will be positioned at 131.8 degrees east. Also carried into orbit on this mission was JCSAT 13, a Japanese comsat with 44 Ku-band transponders that will be positioned at 124 degrees east. This will replace JCSAT 4A.
- MAY 10 - LONG MARCH 4B LAUNCHES REMOTE SENSING AND NANOSAT
Yaogan 14 is a Chinese remote sensing satellite faunched from Taiyun. Also placed in orbit was Tiantuo 1, a small satellite undertaking optical imaging, sensing atomic oxygen and receiving marine positioning signals.
- MAY 6 - CHINESE MAPPING SATELLITE
Tianhui 1-02 was launched from Jiuquan by an LM-2D rocket into LEO. The satellite carries several cameras for survey and spectral imaging with a maximum ground resolution of 5 metres and 25 degrees field of view giving a ground cross-track image 60 km wide.
- MAY 4 - US EHF MILCOMMSAT
The second of four Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite (AEHF 2) was launched from Cape Canaveral by an Atlas 5 rocket. It will provide very high speed and very secure communications for the US Air Force.
- APR 29 - CHINA LAUNCHES TWO BEIDOU NAVSATS
Beidou M3 and M4 were launched into medium Earth orbit from Xichang by a Long March 3B rocket. This the first such dual launch. These satellites are part of the Chinese GNSS network.
- APR 26 - INDIAN RADAR IMAGING SATELLITE LAUNCHED
RISAT 1 was launched from Sriharikota island by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL). It carries a C-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) operating at 5.35 GHz. Its imagery will be used by India for disaster prediction, agriculture and forestry support and defence purposes.
- APR 3 - NRO MILSAT LAUNCHED
USA 234 / NROL-25 was launched into low Earth orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base by a Delta 4 rocket. It carried a radar imaging satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office.
- MAR 30 - RUSSIAN MISSILE EARLY WARNING SATELLITE LAUNCHED
Cosmos 2479 was launched from Baikonur by a Proton-K rocket. It will be placed in geosynchronous orbit to monitor missile launches with an infrared telescope.
- MAR 25 - INTELSAT 22 CARRIES AUSTRALIAN DOD PAYLOAD
This geosynchronous communications satellite, launched from Baikonur by a Proton=M rocket, will be located at 72 degrees east. As well as 48 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders, it also carries UHF transponders for the Australian Defence Forces. Service life for this satellite is expected to be 18 years.
- MAR 23 - THIRD ATV LAUNCHED TO ISS
Europe's third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV 3) was launched from Kourou by an Ariane 5 rocket. This robotic resupply mission to the International Space Station will remain docked to the ISS for 6 months and then carry station waste back in a reentry burnup in the Earth's atmosphere.
- FEB 24 - ANOTHER BEIDOU/COMPASS NAVSAT
Beidou G5 was launched from Xichang by a Long March 3C rocket, and will add to
the Chinese GNSS constellation.
- FEB 24 - FIRST MUOS COMMSAT
MUOS 1 (Mobile User Objective System) was launched from Cape Canaveral by an Atlas 5 rocket. It is the first of five satellites that will be used to provide worldwide multi-service
to US military users in the UHF band. Australia hosts a MUOS ground terminal at Kojarena near Geraldton in Western Australia.
- FEB 13 - MULTIPLE CUBESATS LAUNCHED BY VEGA
The new European Vega rocket launched multiple cubesats (~1 kg) from Kourou. These included the Italian E-st@r, the Romanian Goliat which will perform Earth imaging and measure radiation and micrometeoroids, the Hungarian MaSat which will demonstrate several satellite support systems, the Spanish Xatcoeo which hosts an ionising radiation sensor and a software defined reconfigurable radio system, the Polish PW-Sat1 to test drag augmentation to deorbit satellites, the Italian UnicubeSat GG to demonstrate gravity gradient stabilisation. and the French Robusta to measure radiation degradation of electronuc components.
- FEB 13 - MICROSAT DEMONSTRATOR
ALMASat-1 was launched from Kourour by the new European Vega launch vehicle. It is
a technology demonstrator developed by the University of Bologne.
- FEB 13 - LASER RELATIVITY SATELLITE (LARES)
LARES was the main payload launched by the new European Vega rocket. Covered with 92 laser retroreflectors, it will be used to refine the relativistic frame dragging effect. LARES was designed at the Sapienza University of Rome.
- FEB 3 - IRANIAN EARTH OBSERVATION SATELLITE
Navid was launched into low Earth orbit on a Safir rocket from Semnan. It carries a camera to collect weather imageary and monitor natural disasters. At 50 kg it is the heaviest satellite orbited by Iran so far.
- JAN 20 - 4TH WGS LAUNCHED
WGS-F4 was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta 4 rocket. This fourth Wideband Global Satellite is a US military communications satellite that is also used by Australian defence forces.
- JAN 13 - CHINESE WEATHER GEOSAT LAUNCHED
Fengyun-2F was launched from Xichang by a Long March 3A rocket. It will provide visible and infrared imagery every 15 minutes from a geosynchronous longitude of 112 degrees east.
- JAN 9 - ORBCOMM MARINE POSITIONING RELAY SAT
Vesselsat 2 was launched by a Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan in China for the
US company ORBCOMM. It is designed to relay the position of ships around the world using the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Vesselsat 2 was a secondary payload to Ziyuan 3.
- JAN 9 - HIGH RESOLUTION CHINSES REMOTE SENSING SATELLITE
Ziyuan 3 was launched by a Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan in China, and is the first
in a new series of high-resolution civilian remote sensing satellites that will also be used for stereo mapping.