And Soyuz Makes Six….

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

The failure of a Russian Soyuz booster to orbit a weather satellite and 18 CubeSats on Tuesday was the sixth launch mishap of the year. That total includes five total failures and one partial failure out of 79 orbital launches.

On Jan. 14, the maiden launch of Japan’s SS-520 microsat booster failed after takeoff from the Uchinoura Space Centre. JAXA said controllers aborted second-stage ignition after losing telemetry from the rocket. The booster was carrying the TRICOM-1 nanosat.

A second launch has been scheduled for Dec. 25. The SS-520 is an upgraded version of a Japanese sounding rocket.

The maiden flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster failed after launch from New Zealand on May 25. Company officials said controllers terminated the flight after faulty ground equipment lost telemetry from the booster, which was functionally nominally. Rocket Lab is gearing up for a second launch attempt that could occur in December.

China’s Long March 3B suffered a partial failure on June 19 after launch from Xichang. An under performing third stage left the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit. The spacecraft reached its proper orbit using on board propulsion, with a reduction of its orbital lifetime.

On July 2, a Chinese Long March 5 booster failed after liftoff from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.  The rocket was carrying an experimental geostationary satellite named Shijian 18. It was the second launch and first failure for China’s largest booster. Officials have no announced the cause of the failure.

India’s PSLV rocket suffered a rare failure when the payload shroud failed to separate during a launch on Aug. 31. The IRNSS-1H regional navigation satellite was lost. The booster is set to return to service on Dec. 30.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    I wouldn’t lump the two maiden flights into this list. After all, Electron’s flight was called “It’s a Test”.

  • Michael Halpern

    Still considered failures, just expected failures

  • Douglas Messier

    Orbital launch attempts that failed. Maiden flights, so not unexpected. No value judgments here. What other category would they go in?

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Fair enough – I can’t think of one.

  • Jeff2Space

    Agreed. The Soyuz failure should have been “unexpected” considering how many years Soyuz has been flying with the Fregat upper stage. But if you look at failures of both the Soyuz and Proton launchers over the past decade or so, perhaps it wasn’t as unexpected as it should have been.

  • Michael Halpern

    Perhaps a better term is “experimental failure” Soyuz stopped being experimental half a century ago. Not going to look up the exact year, but it is like SpaceX rocket landing, only it should be 100 times more ruitine unless they aren’t trying to successfully launch, worse yet the R7 is an ICBM these failures mean that their deterrent is potentially unreliable, that isn’t good for anyone.