Dnepr Launch of 2013 Nov 21

Coverage started 2013 Nov 16

Updated 2013 Nov 17

On 2013 November 21 at 07:11:29 UTC, a Dnepr booster carrying ~28 satellites is scheduled to launch from the Dombarovskiy Launch Site in southern Russia. The latest information I have seen shows this launch should include:

    DubaiSat 2, STSat 3, SkySat 1, WNISat 1, Brite-PL 1, AprizeSat 7/8, UniSat 5, Delfi-n3Xt, Dove 4, Triton 1/2, CINEMA 2/3, GOMX 1, FUNcube 1, PUCP-SAT 1, UWE 3, Pocket-PUCP, BPA 3, I-Cube 1, eSt@r 2, Humsat D, Eagle 1, BeakerSat, Wren, QBScout 1, NEE-02 Krysaor

As was seen on the Falcon 9 launch of 2013 Sep 29—carrying Cassiope, CUSat 1/2, DANDE/LAB, and POPACS 1, 2, and 3—tracking and cataloging multiple payloads can be challenging. For those who have the proper equipment (these objects will likely be too dim to see with the naked eye) and would like to observe or track the objects associated with this launch, I have created an STK Viewer file that shows those areas on the Earth's surface where these objects should be visible for the first 24 hours after launch.

Figure 1 shows nominal orbits for the following primary objects, which should be deployed shortly after launch:

    AprizeSat 7/8, BRITE-PL 1, DubaiSat 2, GDS, GOMX 1, ISIPOD-1 through 9 (these are cubesat dispensers), STSat 3, SkySat 1, UniSat 5, and WNISat 1, along with Platform A and the upper stage
The orbits were derived from the only basic orbital parameters I could find (if you have better data, I would love to be able to use it). Note that all objects currently use the same ballistic coefficient—I will continue to refine this scenario as I determine the area-to-mass ratios for each object.

The orbits for the payloads are shown in green when in sunlight and gray, otherwise. The orbits for Platform A and the upper stage are orange when in sunlight and gray, otherwise. The yellow areas on the globe are generated using STK Coverage to show where any of these objects should be visible to an observer on the ground when any object is 10° or more above the horizon, the Sun is more than 6° below the horizon (civil twilight), and the object is in direct sunlight—for the first 24 hours following the launch.

Click for larger image

Figure 1. View of visiblity regions for first 24 hours after Dnepr launch

As can be seen in Figure 1, visibility is generally restricted to regions above 59° North (Scandanavia and northern Russia) and below 5° South (southern parts of Africa, South America, and all of Australia and New Zealand) latitude.

Figure 2 shows the instantaneous visibility (green area) over New Zealand as these objects make their first appearance over land in the southern hemisphere, about 4 hours after launch.

Click for larger image

Figure 2. View of first visiblity region over land in the southern hemisphere

If you would like to explore this event in more detail, simply download the STK Viewer file below. I hope you find this information both informative and helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. And if you manage to collect any images of these passes, I would be happy to add them to the coverage here.

Download Dnepr Launch Orbit Visibility Scenario

Note: STK Viewer is a free product which allows anyone with a Windows computer to view an STK (System Tool Kit) scenario. With it, you can animate a scenario forward or backward, pause the animation, and zoom or pan the view for a more complete understanding of the event. Just like with Adobe Acrobat, where the authoring software requires a license but the Adobe Reader is free, STK can produce STK Viewer files—also known as VDFs—which can then be viewed by anyone with the free STK Viewer software. You can find the STK Viewer on CelesTrak here. — TS