Author Topic: The mystery of Cosmos 217  (Read 2144 times)

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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The mystery of Cosmos 217
« on: 03/19/2017 07:20 PM »
Cosmos 217 was the fourth flight of the IS antisatellite. It was launched on 24.04.1968 by a Tsyklon-2A.

TASS announced followings orbital parameters : 396km x 520km x 62,2. But Western observers found the satellite in a lower orbit (144km x 262km). See for example :

http://www.svengrahn.pp.se/histind/ASAT/GPRAF1.htm

The satellite reentered only two days after launch, so it confirms that Western data were correct. Many sources assume that the launcher suffered a failure. But I think it is quite more complicated.

For the first two flights, which used Polyot (11A59) launch vehicle, the launcher put the IS on a ballistic trajectory, and the orbital insertion was made by the IS himself.

If I understand correctly the Polyachenko's book (page 105), it was the same for the launch of Cosmos 185, the very first launch of Tsyklon-2A. So, I guess it was also the same for all subsequent IS flights on Tsyklon-2A and Tsyklon-2.

So, I conclude that the wrong orbit of Cosmos 217 was due to a satellite engine failure, and not to a launcher failure. Does anyone has any document which could confirm (or not) this theory ?
Nicolas PILLET
kosmonavtika.com : The French site on Russian Space

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #1 on: 03/19/2017 07:55 PM »
The satellite could not be separated from the last stage.
The parameters specified by TASS were probably the planned parameters. Probably the satellite did not transmit telemetry data and the orbit was not known (on the day of launch).

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #2 on: 03/19/2017 08:00 PM »
The satellite could not be separated from the last stage.

This is an asumption that I've read in many Western sources.
But I think it is wrong. Since the launcher trajectory was ballistic, if separation did not occur the satellite would not have reached orbit at all !
Nicolas PILLET
kosmonavtika.com : The French site on Russian Space

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #3 on: 03/19/2017 08:24 PM »
The satellite could not be separated from the last stage.

This is an asumption that I've read in many Western sources.
But I think it is wrong. Since the launcher trajectory was ballistic, if separation did not occur the satellite would not have reached orbit at all !
Previous satellite Cosmos 185:
64.1    93.7 min 370/546 km
64.09 98.48 min 515/857 km (28.11.1967)
Cosmos 185 stage:
64.08 98.65 min 517/872 km

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #4 on: 03/19/2017 08:26 PM »
The satellite could not be separated from the last stage.

This is an asumption that I've read in many Western sources.
But I think it is wrong. Since the launcher trajectory was ballistic, if separation did not occur the satellite would not have reached orbit at all !
Previous satellite Cosmos 185:
64.1    93.7 min 370/546 km
64.09 98.48 min 515/857 km (28.11.1967)
Cosmos 185 stage:
64.08 98.65 min 517/872 km

Yes. Ten minutes after separation from launcher's second stage, Cosmos 185 made a first burn to reach 370/546km.
Later, he made a second burn to reach 515/857km.
I don't know what is the other object, but it is NOT the second stage (since, once again, he fell to Earth and was NOT orbital).
Nicolas PILLET
kosmonavtika.com : The French site on Russian Space

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #5 on: 03/19/2017 08:42 PM »
The satellite could not be separated from the last stage.

This is an asumption that I've read in many Western sources.
But I think it is wrong. Since the launcher trajectory was ballistic, if separation did not occur the satellite would not have reached orbit at all !
Previous satellite Cosmos 185:
64.1    93.7 min 370/546 km
64.09 98.48 min 515/857 km (28.11.1967)
Cosmos 185 stage:
64.08 98.65 min 517/872 km

Yes. Ten minutes after separation from launcher's second stage, Cosmos 185 made a first burn to reach 370/546km.
Later, he made a second burn to reach 515/857km.
I don't know what is the other object, but it is NOT the second stage (since, once again, he fell to Earth and was NOT orbital).
According to RAE tables the second object was ~6m long and ~2m diameter !

Offline gwiz

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #6 on: 03/20/2017 01:30 PM »
The second object with Kosmos 185 must have had a low mass to area ratio as it decayed much faster than the satellite.

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #7 on: 03/20/2017 02:34 PM »
The second object with Kosmos 185 must have had a low mass to area ratio as it decayed much faster than the satellite.
Cosmos 185 445.61 days -> 14.01.1969
object B                 decayed 27.12.2002 !

Offline gwiz

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #8 on: 03/20/2017 02:47 PM »
The second object with Kosmos 185 must have had a low mass to area ratio as it decayed much faster than the satellite.
Cosmos 185 445.61 days -> 14.01.1969
object B                 decayed 27.12.2002 !
So which do you think was the payload?  The object that decayed from a 500 km orbit in 15 months?

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #9 on: 03/20/2017 06:20 PM »
The orbital inclination was a match for the ASAT missions which which flew in October-November 1968.

My guess has always been that the propulsion system failed to ignite to put the payload - an ASAT target - into the high circular orbit like Cosmos 248.

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #10 on: 03/20/2017 06:42 PM »
According to RAE tables the second object was ~6m long and ~2m diameter !

Ho! Good point !

So, my guess that Tsyklon-2(A) launches were ballistic was wrong ! Only 11A59 were ballistics.

Thank you !
Nicolas PILLET
kosmonavtika.com : The French site on Russian Space

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #11 on: 03/20/2017 08:14 PM »
The second object with Kosmos 185 must have had a low mass to area ratio as it decayed much faster than the satellite.
Cosmos 185 445.61 days -> 14.01.1969
object B                 decayed 27.12.2002 !
So which do you think was the payload?  The object that decayed from a 500 km orbit in 15 months?
This is a mystery to me. Normally the satellit would have to be in orbit for 20...30 years.

Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #12 on: 03/20/2017 08:26 PM »
According to RAE tables the second object was ~6m long and ~2m diameter !

Ho! Good point !

So, my guess that Tsyklon-2(A) launches were ballistic was wrong ! Only 11A59 were ballistics.

Thank you !
Back to Cosmos 217:Only one object.
I support the thesis: not separated from last stage.

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #13 on: 03/20/2017 08:55 PM »
I support the thesis: not separated from last stage.

Yes, and I now agree with this thesis :D.
Nicolas PILLET
kosmonavtika.com : The French site on Russian Space

Offline gwiz

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #14 on: 03/21/2017 10:46 AM »
The second object with Kosmos 185 must have had a low mass to area ratio as it decayed much faster than the satellite.
Cosmos 185 445.61 days -> 14.01.1969
object B                 decayed 27.12.2002 !
So which do you think was the payload?  The object that decayed from a 500 km orbit in 15 months?
This is a mystery to me. Normally the satellit would have to be in orbit for 20...30 years.
Just like Object B.  Object A appears to have been a large but low-mass piece of debris.

Offline Danderman

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #15 on: 03/21/2017 04:34 PM »
Tsylcon-2a was conceptually similar to Titan II. It did have the capability of achieving orbit without a third stage, so it might be possible that the Soviet military tried a couple of different launch architectures over time, one that inserted the payload into a low orbit, and another that separated from a sub-orbital trajectory.

The two Polyot missions launched on a 2 stage Soyuz were probably tests of the suborbital separation.

This is my attempt at a Rodney King "can't we all get along".



« Last Edit: 03/21/2017 04:35 PM by Danderman »

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: The mystery of Cosmos 217
« Reply #16 on: 03/21/2017 06:20 PM »
The two Polyot missions launched on a 2 stage Soyuz were probably tests of the suborbital separation.

I am 100% sure of this.

See this document :

http://www.kosmonavtika.com/bibliographie/documents/09041964.pdf
Nicolas PILLET
kosmonavtika.com : The French site on Russian Space

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