Shenzhou 6 launched

From: Ted Molczan (seesat@rogers.com)
Date: Wed Oct 12 2005 - 00:07:33 EDT

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    I watched CCTV's live web cast of the launch, on 2005 Oct 12 at or about 01:00
    UTC. 
    
    According to my clock, the launch was one or two minutes later, but I suspect
    that was the result of various delays in the web cast, so I assume launch was at
    01:00 UTC.
    
    Roughly speaking, the northern hemisphere will have morning visibility; the
    southern hemisphere will have evening visibility. Use the search elements to
    determine your observing prospects.
    
    USSTRATCOM has yet to issue orbital elements, so for now, my estimated elsets
    will have to suffice.
    
    I suggest the following elements for the 2nd stage rocket:
    
    Shenzhou 6 r    15.5  3.4  0.0  4.4 d
    1 70601U 70600B   05285.08931662  .00809611  00000-0  60000-3 0    09
    2 70601  42.4153  27.4814 0102545 130.0626 230.9292 16.03716253    07
    
    The spacecraft's orbits are expected to be as follows:
    
    1. Elliptical Parking Orbit until 2005 Oct 12 at 07:53 UTC
    
    The spacecraft and rocket body will be in nearly same orbit for the first approx
    6 h and 53 m after launch. Below are search elsets for both.
     
    Shenzhou 6       7.8  2.5  0.0  5.4 d
    1 70600U 70600A   05285.08933035  .00794136  00000-0  60000-3 0    09
    2 70600  42.4153  27.4814 0106040 130.0626 230.9292 16.02866600    01
    
    The rocket's apogee will be nearly 5 km lower than Shenzhou's, as a result of
    its separation manoeuvre upon orbital insertion. Therefore, Shenzhou will trail
    a short distance behind its rocket.
     
    2. Circularized Orbit after 2005 Oct 12 at 07:53 UTC
    
    Shenzhous 1, 3, 4 and 5 manoeuvred to raise their perigee as they passed through
    apogee for the 5th time. Shenzhou 1 raised its perigee by only 8 km; Shenzhous
    3, 4 and 5 raised it more than 130 km, to nearly circularize their orbit, and
    Shenzhou 6 is expected to do the same. Approx 6 h and 53 m after launch,
    Shenzhou 6 should be in this orbit:
    
    Shenzhou 6       7.8  2.5  0.0  5.4 d
    1 70600U 70600A   05285.33849619  .00000000  00000-0  00000-0 0    02
    2 70600  42.4207  25.8822 0002833 248.3475 111.7085 15.78579562    08
    
    Note that the zero decay terms of the circularized Shenzhou elements are
    intentional; past missions made a number of small manoeuvres throughout their
    flight, that essentially negated the effects of drag, apparently to achieve a
    nearly exactly repeating ground track every 31 revolutions.
    
    Ted Molczan
    
    
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