Astron (spacecraft)


Mission typeAstrophysical research
COSPAR ID1983-020A [1]
SATCAT no.13901
Mission duration6 years
Start of mission
Launch date23 March 1983 12:45 (1983-03-23UTC12:45) UTC
RocketProton-K/D-1 8K82K/11S824M
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeHigh Earth
Semi-major axis108,531 km (67,438 mi)[1]
Perigee altitude30,791.0 km (19,132.6 mi)[1]
Apogee altitude173,530.2 km (107,826.7 mi)[1]
Period5,930.5 minutes[1]
Mean motion0.24281115 rev/day[2]
Epoch19 July 2017 07:25:15 UTC

Astron was a Soviet spacecraft launched on 23 March 1983 at 12:45:06 UTC, using Proton launcher, which was designed to fulfill an astrophysics mission.[3] It was based on the 4MV spacecraft design and was operational for six years as the largest ultraviolet space telescope during its lifetime. The project was headed by Alexandr Boyarchuk.[4][5]

The spacecraft was designed and constructed by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory and NPO Lavochkin. A group of scientists from these institutions was awarded the USSR State Prize for their work on Astron.[6]

Astron's payload consisted of an 80 cm ultraviolet telescope which was designed jointly by the USSR and France, and an X-ray spectroscope on board.[7] It could take UV spectra 150-350 nm.[8]

Placed into an orbit with an apogee of 185,000 kilometres (115,000 mi) it could make observations outside the Earth's umbra and radiation belt.

Among the most important observations by Astron were those of the SN 1987A supernova on March 4–12, 1987[9] and of Halley's Comet in December, 1985, that allowed a group of Soviet scientists to develop a model of the coma surrounding Halley's Comet.[10]

See also

  • Granat - A later space observatory based on the Venera spacecraft bus


  1. ^ a b c d e f "ASTRON".
  2. ^ a b "TLE".
  3. ^ J. McDowell. "Jonathan McDowell's launchlog". Jonathan's Space Home Page. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Spectr-UF Project History" (in Russian). Archived from the original on March 6, 2005.
  5. ^ "Alexander Boyarchuk" (in Russian). Retrieved 23 August 2009.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Crimean Astrophysical Observatory" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  7. ^ "The Astron Satellite". NASA/GSFC. 26 June 2003. Archived from the original on 26 August 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  8. ^ Boyarchuk, A. A.; Grinin, V. P.; Zvereva, A. M.; Petrov, P. P.; Sheikhet, A. I. (1986). "A model for the coma of Comet Halley, based on the Astron ultraviolet spectrophotometry". Pis'ma v Astronomicheskii Zhurnal. 12: 696. Bibcode:1986PAZh...12..696B.
  9. ^ A.A. Boyarchuk; et al. (1987). "Observations on Astron: Supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud". Pis'ma v Astronomicheskii Zhurnal (in Russian). 13: 739–743. Bibcode:1987PAZh...13..739B.
  10. ^ A.A. Boyarchuk; et al. (1986). "A model for the coma of Comet Halley, based on the Astron ultraviolet spectrophotometry". Pis'ma v Astronomicheskii Zhurnal (in Russian). 12: 696–706. Bibcode:1986PAZh...12..696B.
  • A.A. Бойарчук (1994). Астрофизические исследования на космической станции "Астрон" (in Russian). Moscow: Nauka.