The Past Week in Launches: SpaceX and CASC Orbit Satellites

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on Aug. 19, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a relatively quiet week for launches with by SpaceX and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) both conducting one flight apiece.

SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Friday. The company has launched 3,108 Starlink satellites with 2,809 spacecraft working, according to Jonathan’s Space Report.

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Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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SpaceX Orbits 53 Starlink Satellites, Ties Annual Launch Record

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., July 17, 2022 — On Sunday, July 17 at 10:20 a.m. ET, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

It was SpaceX’s 31st successful launch of 2022, which ties a company record set last year. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the company is aiming to launch 60 times this year.

Jonathan’s Space Pages reports that 2,858 Starlink satellites have been launched, with 2,604 spacecraft still in orbit and 2,074 in the licensed operational shells.

This was the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Dragon’s first crew demonstration mission, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and now 10 Starlink missions.

SpaceX Orbits 53 Satellites on 50th Starlink Launch

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 7, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. — On Thursday, July 7 at 9:11 a.m. ET, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

This was the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, Transporter-3, and now eight Starlink missions.

NASA, Partner to Demonstrate First-Time In-Orbit Docking of Two CubeSats

Engineers from Terran Orbital Corporation pose with the CubeSat Proximity Operations and Demonstration (CPOD) spacecraft at their facilities in California. ‘C’ is for CPOD! From left to right: Tyler Back, Dustin Holta, Nikhil Shastri, and Nella Barrera. (Credit: Terran Orbital Corporation)

NASA Mission Update

Following a successful launch to space on May 25, two small spacecraft comprising NASA’s CubeSat Proximity Operations and Demonstration (CPOD) mission will set out to perform for the first time a series of maneuvers that leads to the docking of three-unit, or 3U, CubeSats. The CPOD mission is designed and built by Terran Orbital Corporation in Irvine, California. Once CPOD’s two small spacecraft complete initial spacecraft checks, they will demonstrate the entire sequence of rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking (RPOD) in low-Earth orbit. 

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United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches Critical National Security Mission for U.S. Space Force

A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the USSF-12 mission for the U.S. Space Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 7:15 p.m. EDT on July 1. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Atlas V precisely delivered USSF-12 mission to a complex geosynchronous orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., (July 2, 2022) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the USSF-12 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command lifted off on July 1 at 7:15 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. To date ULA has launched 151 times with 100 percent mission success.

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Relativity Space, OneWeb Sign Multi-launch Agreement for Terran R Rocket

Rendering of Terran 1 rocket launching from potential future Vandenberg launch site. (Credit: Relativity Space)

LONG BEACH, Calif., June 30, 2022 (Relativity Space PR) – Relativity Space, the first company to 3D print entire rockets and build the largest metal 3D printers in the world, announced today that it has signed a multi-year, multi-launch Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with OneWeb, the global space-based communications company. Under the agreement, Relativity will launch OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites on Terran R, the first fully reusable and entirely 3D printed rocket, starting in 2025. These launches will support OneWeb’s deployment of its Gen 2 satellite network, which will add capacity and fresh capabilities to build upon the initial constellation of 648 satellites the company is currently building out. 

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SES’s C-band Satellite Successfully Launched Onboard SpaceX Rocket

Falcon 9 lifts off with SES-22 communications satellite on June 29, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

First SES C-band satellite dedicated to freeing up lower 300 MHz of C-band spectrum will ensure SES can continue providing video and data services to its customers while enabling wireless operators to quickly deploy 5G services across the US

Cape Canaveral (SES PR) – SES announced today that the SES-22 satellite was successfully launched into space onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, United States, at 5:04 pm local time.

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ULA Atlas V to Launch USSF-12 Mission on Thursday

Atlas V for the USSF-12 mission on the launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket will launch the USSF-12 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC). Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

Launch Date and Time: Thursday, June 30, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. EDT (2200 UTC)

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SpaceX Launch Set for Tonight

Falcon 9 Transporter mission liftoff (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting today, Wednesday, June 29 for launch of SES-22 to a geosynchronous transfer orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The two-hour launch window opens at 5:04 p.m. ET, 21:04 UTC. A backup launch opportunity is available on Thursday, June 30 with the same window.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission previously supported the launch of one Starlink mission. After stage separation, the first stage will land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

You can watch the live launch webcast starting about 15 minutes before liftoff. 

Five Launches Scheduled to Close Out June

Electron launches on May 3, 2022. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Here are the launches scheduled for the rest of June.

Tuesday, June 28

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payload: CAPSTONE
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Time: 5:55 a.m. EDT (09:55 UTC)
Webcast: www.nasa.gov beginning at 5 a.m. EDT (09:00 UTC)

Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) lunar orbiter. The spacecraft will enter a near rectilinear halo orbit on Nov. 13 in order to test technologies for NASA’s lunar Gateway space station that will use that orbit.

Wednesday, June 29

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9
Payload: SES 22 communications satellite
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.
Launch window: 5:04-7:13 p.m. EDT (21:04-23:13 UTC)
Webcast: www.spacex.com beginning 10 minutes before launch

Thursday, June 30

Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne
Payload: STP-28A — 7 small spacecraft
Launch Site: Cosmic Girl (Boeing 747), Mojave Air and Space Port, Calif.
Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 a.m. EDT (10 p.m.-1 a.m. PDT on June 29/30 — 0500-0900 UTC)
Webcast: www.virginorbit.com

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 will drop the LauncherOne rocket off the coast of California on a mission funded by Department of Defense’s Space Test Program.

Launch Vehicle: PSLV
Payload: DS-EO Earth observation satellite
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, India
Launch Time: 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 UTC)
Webcast: www.isro.gov.in

Launch Vehicle: ULA Atlas V
Payload: USSF 12 missile warning satellite
Launch Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT (2200-0000 UTC)
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

SpaceX Completes Hat Trick with 3 Launches in 36 Hours

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX completed a hat trick over the weekend with three satellite launches from different coasts in 36 hours.

Elon Musk’s company wrapped up a busy weekend when a Falcon 9 booster launched the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket lifted off at 12:27 a.m. EDT.

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SpaceX Conducts Second Launch in Less Than 24 Hours, Third Scheduled for Sunday Morning

SpaceX conducted its second launch in less than 24 hours on Saturday morning when a Falcon 9 carried a German reconnaissance satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The rocket lifted off at 7:19 a.m. PDT (10:19 a.m. EDT) with the Airbus-built SARah synthetic aperture radar satellite for the German military from a fog-shrouded launch pad. SpaceX ended its webcast early prior to satellite deployment at the request of the customer.

The Falcon 9’s first stage booster, launching for the third time, touched down at Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg. It was SpaceX’s 125th recovery of an orbital class booster.

It was the second Falcon 9 flight in just over 22 hours. On Friday, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket lifted off at 12:08 p.m. EDT (9:08 a.m. PDT).

It was a record 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, and now 10 Starlink missions. The stage landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX will wrap up a busy weekend on Sunday morning with a Falcon 9 launch of the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite at 12:27 a.m. EDT (04:27 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It will be the 26th launch of the year for SpaceX.

You can watch the live launch webcast for the launch starting about 10 minutes before liftoff.