China Gets Busy Holiday Launch Season Off to a Good Start

A Long March 3-B rocket lifts off with China's Chang'e-3 lunar rover. (Credit: CAST)
A Long March 3-B rocket lifts off with China’s Chang’e-3 lunar rover. (Credit: CAST)

UPDATE: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch has been shifted to Tuesday evening.

China has kicked off a busy month with the successful launch of the Chang’e-8 lunar rover mission. There are 15 launches on the manifests of the world’s rocket companies in December. If all missions are completed and none are added, there will be 85 orbital launches for the year.

SpaceX is the next to go on Tuesday evening, with the company hoping its third attempt to launch the SES-8 communications satellite is a charm.  The launch window opens at 5:41 p.m. EST, and SpaceX will webcast the attempt.

The company is hoping to get one more launch in by the end of 2013 on Dec. 20 with the Thaicom 6 satellite as the payload. Some other notable launches scheduled for December include:

  • Antares/Cygnus: Orbital Sciences first commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station (Dec. 17);
  • Soyuz 2-1v:  The first flight of Russia’s “light” version of the venerable booster (Dec. 23);
  • GSLV/GSAT 14:  India will make a re-flight of a cryogenic engine that failed to fire during its inaugural mission in April 2010 (TBD);
  • Long March 4B/CBERS 3: China will launch a Earth resources satellite jointly developed with Brazil (Dec. 10);
  • Atlas V/Delta IV: These two ULA military launches will bring the company’s total to 12 for the year (Dec. 5 & 12);

SCHEDULED LAUNCHES FOR DECEMBER 2013

Date

Launch Vehicle

Launch Site

Nation/Company /Agency

Payload

Result

USA

12/03/13

Falcon 9

CCAFS

USA/SpaceX

SES 8

12/05/13

Atlas V

VAFB

USA/ULA/USAF

NROL-39

12/12/13

Delta IV

CCAFS

USA/ULA/USAF

GPS 2F-5

12/17/13

Antares

MARS

USA/Orbital/NASA

Cygnus 2

12/20/13

Falcon 9

CCAFS

USA/SpaceX

Thaicom 6

RUSSIA

12/08/13

Proton

Baikonur

Russia/ILS

Inmarsat 5

12/19/13

Soyuz

Kourou

Russia/Europe/Arianespace

Gaia

12/23/13

Soyuz 2-1v

Plesetsk

Russia/TsSKB-Progress

AIST & Calibration Spheres

12/26/13

Proton

Baikonur

Russia/ILS

Express AM5

CHINA

12/02/13

Long March 3B

Xichang

China/CNSA

Chang’e-3

Success

12/10/13

Long March 4B

Taiyuan

China/CNSA

CBERS 3

12/20/13

Long March 3B

Xichang

China/CNSA

Tupac Katari

TBD

Long March 4B

Taiyuan

China/CSNA

Gaofen 2

INDIA

TBD

GSLV

Satish Dhawan

India/ISRO

GSAT 14

JAPAN

TBD

H-2A

Tanegashima

Japan/Mitsubishi
/JAXA

ALOS 2

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