USSPACECOM cataloguing policy

Phillip Clark (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 09:25:37 +0000 (GMT)

I am circulating a message which I sent to OIG a few minutes ago since 
others might be interested in its content.   I originally raised the 
matter some three years ago, but it was never satisfactorally resolved.   
With the launch of Zarya/ISS I thought it was worth rasing it again.

Phillip Clark

This is something which I discussed a few years ago with Adam Johnson
and I think that the time might be "ripe" to mention it again.   He
discussed my points with USSPACECOM and although they originally said
"he's wrong", Adam said they later came back and said "he's right,
we've been inconsistent".

It is regarding the cataloguing of objects relating to space stations.

The first case is the launch of Kvant 1 in March 1987.   When it was
launched the Kvant assembly was designated 1987-030A and the third
stage of the Proton-K was 1987-030B.   After docking with Mir, a
service module separated from Kvant 1 and was catalogued as 1987-030C.
The point about this is that Kvant 1 had never been in free flight on
its own, but it received its own international designator.

Now "fast forward" to November 1995 and the launch of Atlantis/STS-74.
The orbiter was catalogued as 1995-061A and this added the Docking
Module to Mir, to which future shuttles would dock.   Since the
docking module was never in free flight it never received an
international designator.

As you will realise, two different policies were adopted for these
missions: it might be claimed that the launch procedure was different
for the two, but really this is not the case.   The Kvant 1 service
module delivered Kvant to Mir just as did the shuttle with the Docking
module, and in each case the modules left attached to Mir were never
in free flight.

Of course, this raises the question of what will happen when US pieces
are added to Zarya/ISS.   Unity, for example will never be in free
flight, and therefore based upon the STS-74 policy should not receive
its own designator (or, of course, catalogue number).   Since I think
pretty well everything apart from Russian payloads will be launched
on the shuttle, then the only international designators to be issued
for ISS components will be for Russian launches.

I am not saying which cataloguing policy is correct, simply saying
that someone needs to decide what the policy is going to be in future,
since it has been contradictory in the past.

I would appreciate any feedback which you might have about this.

Phillip S Clark                                       25 Redfern Avenue
Molniya Space Consultancy                             Whitton
Compiler/Publisher, Worldwide Satellite Launches      Middx   TW4 5NA

Specialist in "space archeology" - the older and more obscure the more 
interesting it is !