Issue No. 149

Happy Holidays! This week’s issue is a short one so that we can hang out with our families. See you in 2022!

The Orbital Index

Issue No. 149 | Dec 29, 2021

🚀 🌍 🛰

JWST is on its way to orbit L2! On Christmas Day, JWST launched successfully (video) aboard its Ariane 5 from French Guiana. During its flight, the rocket performed a unique sawtooth maneuver, rotating back and forth 30° to protect JSWT’s instruments from overheating due to direct solar illumination (as opposed to Apollo’s ‘BBQ roll’). After release, the spacecraft deployed its solar array—here’s a video, which likely includes the final close proximity image of the craft. Now beyond the orbit of the Moon, it has successfully performed two course corrections and deployed its gimbaled antenna assembly. Jonathan McDowell has a timeline of JWST's ongoing “30 days of terror” deployment schedule on its way to L2. The sunshield has started its multistep deployment and, in about a week, mirrors will begin unfolding. Check-in on its live mission dashboard to see where it is and what it’s doing, follow it on Twitter, or watch NASA’s Deep Space Network real-time dashboard to see active communications underway. Hopefully, the first images from Webb should be available by next summer. 🤞

Update: Santa has been destroyed by the range safety officer. XKCD #2559

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(Short) Papers.

News in brief. Russia launched their third and final Angara demonstration mission—Angara has now entered operational status, although its upper stage may have failed on this mission A Soyuz launched 36 OneWeb satellites China launched the ZY-1 02E natural resources remote sensing satellite with 5 m resolution on a Long March-4C to sun-synchronous orbit and two classified Shiyan-12 test satellites A Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket launched Inmarsat’s first dual-band telecommunications satellite An engine controller on SLS must be replaced, delaying Artemis I to NET March 2022 China complained to the UN about the US’s oversight of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, saying that Tiangong has had to maneuver twice to avoid conjunctions this year.



Comet Leonard, photographed the night of December 25th from the Atacama region of Chile. Credit: Daniele Gasparri

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