Scheduled Launches for March

Atlas V booster launches the GOES-S weather satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Below is the current launch schedule for March. In total, there are 8 launches planned for the month with 16 communications satellites, one meteorological satellite, and one crew mission to the International Space Station. The launches include:

  • United States: 3 (2 Falcon 9, 1 Atlas V)
  • Russia: 2 (Soyuz from Baikonur & French Guiana)
  • Europe: 1 (Ariane 5)
  • China: 1 (Long March 3B)
  • India: 1 (GSLV Mk. 2)

This schedule is subject to change. Please visit for updates.

March 1

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: GOES-S meteorological satellite
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Outcome: Successful

March 6

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite
Launch Window: 12:33-2:33 a.m. EST (0533-0733 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: O3b F4 communications satellite
Launch Time: 11:38:36 a.m. EST (1638:36 GMT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

March 15

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B
Payload: Apstar 6C communications satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Xichang, China

March 21

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Soyuz MS-08
Launch Time: 1:44 p.m. EDT (1744 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

NASA astronauts A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev will travel to the International Space Station.

Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payload: Superbird 8/DSN 1 & Hylas 4 communications satellites
Launch Time: 5:42 p.m. EDT (2142 GMT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

March 24

Launch Vehicles: GSLV Mk.2
Payl0ad: GSAT 6A communications satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, India

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Iridium Next 41-50 communications satellites
Launch Time: 10:19:49 a.m. EDT; 7:19:49 a.m. PDT (1419:49 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Action Plan Approved for Next Ariane 5 Launches

Ariane 5 launches with SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS, 2 March 2018 (ESA PR) — After the release of the conclusions of the Ariane VA241 Independent Enquiry Commission on 22 February, the findings and recommendations were formally presented to a Steering Board on 28 February. The board included Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation; Stéphane Israël, Arianespace CEO; and Alain Charmeau, ArianeGroup CEO.


Investigation Pinpoints Cause of Ariane 5 Partial Failure

Ariane 5 launches with SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

Bad Coordinates Placed Satellites in Incorrect Orbits

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — The Independent Enquiry Commission formed after the Ariane 5 launcher’s trajectory deviation during its January 25, 2018 mission issued its conclusions on Thursday, February 22. The anomaly’s cause is perfectly understood and recommendations are clearly identified.


Ariane 5 Anomaly: Satellites Healthy But Not Where They Should Be

Ariane 5 launches with SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

An Ariane 5 booster delivered two communications satellites into the wrong orbits on Thursday, but their owners say the spacecraft are healthy and will be able to reach their intended destinations using on-board propulsion.


Ariane 5 Suffers Anomaly, Chinese Launch 3 Satellites

UPDATE: Agence France Presse (AFP) is reporting the problem with Ariane 5 involved more than just a loss of telemetry:

But a source told AFP the satellites did not detach from the rocket in the correct place after the craft followed an “imperfect trajectory”.

Arianespace said they were currently “repositioning the satellites in the right place using their propulsion systems” adding that the current status was “reassuring after strong concerns”.

I don’t see any further updates on the mission on the websites of Arianespace, SES or Yahsat. This leads me to believe the AFP report is accurate. If it had been a simple telemetry loss, Arianespace would have said so, and there would be press releases and social media messages declaring the flight to be a complete success.

Yahsat does have a link to a page with an update about the mission. It’s in Arabic so I ran it through Google Translate. The update doesn’t appear to go beyond Arianespace’s original statement about the spacecraft separating from the second stage and being in contact with control centers.

Controllers lost contact with the upper stage of an Ariane 5 booster carrying a pair of communications satellites on Thursday. The loss telemetry began a few seconds after ignition of the stage and continued through the rest of the powered flight, Arianespace said in a statement.

“Subsequently, both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit,” the company said. “SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are communicating with their respective control centers. Both missions are continuing.”

The precise orbital parameters of the geosynchronous communications satellites are unknown.  SES-14 will use electric propulsion to reach its intended orbit while the Al Yah 3 will use a liquid bi-propellant transfer system.

Earlier on Thursday, China launched the fourth group of three Yaogan Weixing-30 satellites. A Long March 2C booster flew from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Officially, the Yaogan Weixing are remote sensing spacecraft. However, analysts believe they are military reconnaissance satellites.

The flight marked China’s fifth successful launch of 2018. The nation is aiming to achieve more than 40 orbital launches this year.

Arianespace Prepares for Intense 2018, Looks to Future with Ariane 6 & Vega C

Ariane 5 launch on Dec. 12, 2017. (Credit: Arianespace)

EVRY, France 9 (Arianespace PR) — The past year saw Arianespace carry out 11 successful launches; sign 19 additional launch contracts, including three for Vega C and two for Ariane 6; and enter a new governance structure alongside ArianeGroup.

Building on these achievements, Arianespace is targeting a record number of launches in 2018, while actively focusing on the next decade with its Ariane 6 and Vega C launchers.

Intelsat Signs Contract with Arianespace for Two Satellite Launches

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace signed an agreement to launch two satellites for longtime customer Intelsat, one of the world’s largest satellite operators. This continues the longstanding relationship between Intelsat and Arianespace that dates back to 1983.

The first launch will carry the Galaxy 30 satellite together with the Orbital ATK Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV- 2) as a stacked pair. Galaxy 30 will be the first replacement satellite for the North American Galaxy Fleet and in addition to its C-band payload, Galaxy 30 will include Ku- and Ka-band payloads to support broadband applications in North America. The launch of Galaxy 30 demonstrates Intelsat’s commitment to its distribution neighborhoods, which has an unmatched penetration of cable headends in the United States. Galaxy 30 is based on Orbital ATK’s GEOStar-2™ satellite platform.


End in Sight for Ariane 5 As Order Submitted for Last 10 Boosters

Ariane 5 launch on Dec. 12, 2017. (Credit: Arianespace)

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — With this latest order, there are now 23 Ariane 5 launchers in production or to be produced, from the PB+ and PC batches. With this latest “PC batch,” the industry confirms its commitment to consolidate the competitiveness of the European launch offer even before the arrival of Ariane 6.

ArianeGroup and its Arianespace subsidiary have announced an order for 10 Ariane 5 ECA launchers.
The 10 launch vehicles covered by this “PC batch” will be deployed from the Guiana Space Center beginning in 2020, coming after the launches of 18 Ariane 5s ordered in 2013 (in the “PB+ batch”).
This production order represents a total value of more than one billion euros for the European space industry, involving more than 600 companies in 12 European countries* – including 350 small and medium-sized enterprises.


Ariane 5 Orbits Four Galileo Satellites

Ariane 5 launch on Dec. 12, 2017. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched satellites 19, 20, 21 and 22 in the Galileo constellation, using an Ariane 5 heavy launcher on behalf of the European Commission (DG GROW) and under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The launch took place on December 12, 2017 at 3:36 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Vega Launches Earth Observation Satellite

On 7 November 2017, Vega flight VV11 lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to deliver the Earth observation satellite Mohammed VI-A into orbit for the Kingdom of Morocco. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Arianespace has launched a Vega rocket to deliver an Earth observation satellite into orbit for the Kingdom of Morocco.

Liftoff of Vega’s 11th mission from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana came at 01:42 GMT on 8 November (02:42 CET; 22:42 local time on 7 November).

With a mass at liftoff of 1110 kg, Mohammed VI-A was manoeuvred into its target Sun-synchronous orbit about 55 minutes into the mission after a series of burns of Vega’s upper stage.

Complying with debris regulations to help keep space clean, Vega’s upper stage fired a final time to burn up high in the atmosphere over the ocean.

Vega is a 30 m-high, four-stage vehicle designed to accommodate small scientific and Earth observation payloads of 300–2500 kg, depending on the orbit.

Wyler: OneWeb to Launch First Satellites in May

Planned OneWeb production facility in Exploration Park, Fla. (Credit: OneWeb)

Testimony of Greg Wyler
Founder and Executive Chairman,
Worldu Satellites Limited (OneWeb)

Before Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology
Oct. 25, 2017

Selected Excerpts

This is a great time to discuss our progress as we are investing over $4 billion to build the world’s first large scale satellite constellation, and will begin launching our fleet in the coming months.


Proton’s Competitiveness Threatened by High Insurance Costs

A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

The Proton rocket’s’s string of failures and its year-long grounding following a 2016 launch anomaly have raised payload insurance rates so high  for the booster that its commercial viability is threatened.

Insurance premiums for launches of International Launch Services’ Russian Proton rocket, which satellite operators and insurers say is a necessary third leg for the commercial market — the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the ArianeGroup Ariane 5 being the other two — total about 12% of the insured value.

That compares with 3-4% for Ariane 5 and 4-5% for the Falcon 9.


Arianespace Signs Contract with ELV/AVIO for 10 Vega & Vega C Launchers

Veta lifts off with OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs aboard. (Credit: Arianespace)

LYON, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and ELV/AVIO announced today the signature of a contract for Arianespace to order 10 Vega and Vega C launchers from the Italian manufacturer.

The signing ceremony was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and Paolo Gentiloni, the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic, at the Prefecture du Rhône, in Lyon, France, on the occasion of the 34th French-Italian summit.


SES Selects Arianespace for Launch of SES-17

An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — SES has selected Arianespace to launch its high-power, high-throughput satellite SES-17 on an Ariane 5 in 2021 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. This was announced by SES and Arianespace in Paris today.

SES-17 is a powerful satellite delivering high-speed inflight connectivity and high-powered data services over the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean. SES-17 is the 53rd satellite entrusted to Arianespace for launch by SES (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG).