SpaceX Plans Three Launches in 11 Days

The first Falcon 9 Block 5 booster heads for the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: SpaceX)

After a three-week break, SpaceX is gearing up for a busy stretch of launches with three coming up in an 11-day period on opposite sides of the country.

The launch campaign kicks off with an early Sunday morning launch from Cape Canaveral. Falcon 9 will carry Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite, which will provide service to China, India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

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Largest Ever Solid Rocket Motor Set for First Hot Fire

P120C awaits first hot firing. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana – 9 July 2018 (ESA PR) — This week, the largest solid rocket motor ever built in one piece will be test fired at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for the first time.

This important milestone validates the booster for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

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Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)

RSC Energia Director General Steps Down, RCC Progress Gets Interim Director

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos’ new boss, Dmitry Rogozin, appears to be making some changes within his domain with new leadership at two of the nation’s leading space companies.

Tass reports that Vladimir Solntsev, the head of RSC Energia, will step down from his post on Aug. 3. The publication gave no reason for Solntsev’s departure from the corporation, which is a subsidiary of Roscosmos.

Tass reports he became RSC Energia’s president in September 2014 and its director general in June 2016. Energia manufactures the Soyuz crew vehicle and other Russian spacecraft.

Officials plan to selected a new director general at an emergency shareholders’ meeting on Aug. 21. Sergei Romanov, the company’s general designer for human space systems, will become acting director after Solntsev departs.

Rocket maker RCC Progress also has new leadership. On June 26, the corporation’s board of directors appointed Dmitry Aleksandrovich Baranov as acting general director to replace R.N. Akhmetov. An announcement was made on the company’s website.

Born in June 1970 in Kuibyshev. Baranov graduated from Samara State Aerospace University with a degree in rocket engineering in 1994. He began working at RCC Progress (then known as TsSKB Progress) the year before he graduated.

From 2005 to 2011, he served as director of the Soyuz rocket program at Europe’s Guiana Space Center in South America.

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 https://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/ 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

Falcon 9 Launch Delayed Until Wednesday

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen as it launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East with the Jason-3 spacecraft onboard, , Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been delayed until Wednesday, Feb. 21. The launch had been previously scheduled for Feb. 16 and Feb. 18.

The primary payload is the Paz satellite for Hisdesat of Spain. The spacecraft will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Elon Musk’s company will also launch two of its own satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, that will demonstration technologies needed to provide global broadband services. The company plans to orbit 12,000 in two separate constellations for its Starlink broadband service.

Here is the launch schedule for the next two weeks. Check for updates here.

Feb. 21

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Paz
Launch Time: 9:17 a.m. EST; 6:17 a.m. PST (1417 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Built by Airbus Defense and Space, Hisdesat’s Paz satellite will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Feb. 24/25

Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Payload: IGS Optical 6
Launch Window: 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 24 (0400-0600 GMT on Feb. 25)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

The Japanese government’s Information Gathering Satellite carries an optical reconnaissance payload.

Feb. 25

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6
Launch Window: 12:35 a.m. EST (0535 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, will provide communications services over Europe, North Africa and the Americas.

March 1

Launch Vehicle: Atlas 5
Payload: GOES-S
Launch Time: 5:02-7:02 p.m. EST (2202-0002 GMT)
Launch Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The United Launch Alliance rocket will launch the second next-generation geostationary weather satellite for NASA and NOAA.

March 6

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

The four O3b Networks will provide broadband services to developing countries.

Launches to Resume from French Guiana

Ariane 5 launch (Credit: Arianespace)

Launches will soon be resuming from French Guiana with the end of a general strike.

Thanks to the “Accord de Guyane” agreement signed April 21 by French and French Guianese officials, launch service provider Arianespace says it will be able to soon resume launch activity and can make up for delays by using previously scheduled downtime over the next two months.

“Now that an agreement has been reached, we are fully ready to resume our operations in [the Guiana Space Centre, or CSG],” an Arianespace official told SpaceNews via email April 21. “We aim to make up for the accumulated delays on the three campaigns that were under way, without impacting the rest of our manifest, by taking advantage of the CSG’s availability in May and most of June, since there were no launches scheduled those months.”

[….]

“We believe it will take about eight working days (after resumption of operations) to carry out the VA236 launch that was originally scheduled for March 21,” the Arianespace official added.

The company declined to say when exactly operations would resume.

Residents of the French overseas department have been striking over a lack of jobs, high crime and other problems.
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Unrest Continues in French Guiana

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

The protests that have largely shut down French Guiana show no sign of diminishing as locals and government officials in France remain far apart.

The movement behind more than two weeks of social unrest in French Guiana has called for a complete shutdown of the overseas territory from Monday, after a police officer was injured.

Activists are protesting decades of under-investment in the French territory in South America, paralysed by a general strike that 37 unions called on March 25.

Locals last week rejected an offer from Paris to inject a billion dollars of aid to the territory, home to 250,000 people, instead demanding $2.5 billion (Dh9 billion) immediately.

The protests also led to the indefinite postponement of an Arianespace rocket launch at Europe’s Guiana Space Centre in Kourou.

A Collective to Get Guiana Moving, spearheading protests to improve economic development and job creation programmes, on Saturday called for a complete blockade from Monday of the territory, which relies on huge injections of public funds.

Read the full story.

Countdown Begins for First Soyuz Launch From South America as Vega Debut Slips


Checking in on activities down at the European spaceport in Kourou, we find the rocket base is abuzz with activity. On Wednesday, an Ariane 5 successfully delivered two communications satellites to space. It was the rocket’s fifth mission of 2011; one more and it will match the number flown last year, which ended with Arianespace actually losing money.

Meanwhile, preparations are well along for the first Soyuz launch from the spaceport on Oct. 20. The venerable Russian rocket will launch the first two satellites in Europe’s Galileo navigational constellation.

And in related news, officials announced this week that the debut of Europe’s new Vega small satellite launcher will be delayed until January. It had been set to launch from Kourou in November or December.

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First Soyuz to Fly from Kourou in April 2010

soyuzlaunchsystem

Russian Soyuz-ST rocket launch from Kourou set for April 2010
RIA Novosti

The first launch of Russia’s Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana has been scheduled for the beginning of April 2010, general director of the Progress design bureau said on Tuesday.

Soyuz-ST is a modernized version of the Soyuz-2 rocket developed by the Samara-based Progress design bureau specifically for launches from Kourou.

“Next year at the start of April we must ensure the first launch of a Soyuz-ST [carrier rocket]; the first three rockets are ready,” Alexander Kirilin said, adding that a ship carrying two rockets will leave the port in St. Petersburg on November 1.

Read the full story.


Russia Continues Movement Away from Baikonur

Russian rockets readied for South America launch
AFP

The maker of Russia’s Soyuz rockets said on Thursday it had finished building the first rockets due to be launched from South America pad in cooperation with the European Space Agency.

“The first two rockets are ready. They have got through all the tests and have been placed in the containers in which they will be delivered,” said the deputy head of TsSKB-Progress, Sergei Tyulevin, quoted by ITAR-TASS….

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EADS Astrium Wants Euros for New Rocket

Aviation Week reports that EADS-Astrium is pushing Europe to fund the development of a new medium-lift launcher to replace the Soyuz 2 rocket that will begin operating later this year from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana:

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Soyuz Effort Accelerates at Kourou; Russian Rocket Lifts German Spy Sat

The Russians Are Coming…to launch rockets from European base
AFP

“Today, though, the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) is girding for a new era when it will host Russian rockets and Russian engineers who just a short while ago were Europe’s space rivals.

“On Sunday, a freighter is due to dock in Cayenne bearing a first consignment of 150 containers of equipment to fit out a launch pad at CSG where, from the second half of 2009, the first “European” Soyuz is scheduled to blast into space.”

Russian Rocket Launches German Reconnaissance Satellite
Spaceflight Today

“The capstone of a fleet of German military satellites rocketed into space from Russia early Tuesday, completing a series of five launchings of spacecraft designed to scout locations around the world.

“The SAR-Lupe 5 satellite, a 1,700-pound craft (771-kg) outfitted with cloud-piercing and night-vision radar, launched aboard a Russian Kosmos 3M rocket at 0240 GMT Tuesday (10:40 p.m. EDT Monday), according to news reports.”

ATV Lifts Off from French Guiana

The Ariane 5 lifted off successfully at 04:03 UT Sunday from the European Spaceport in French Guiana carrying ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle. The robotic spacecraft, dubbed Jules Verne, is bound for the International Space Station to deliver 7 metric tons of equipment and supplies.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with ISS several weeks from now after the space shuttle Endeavour completes its construction mission. Endeavour is schedule for launch on March 11 and is schedule to stay 16 days at the station.

ATV will conduct system checks for several weeks, including two approaches to the orbital outpost as well as “escape” maneuvers to back away from the station. The tests are designed to verify software and prevent any collision with ISS.

“The two approach tests will give ESA, NASA and Rocket Space Corp. Energia time to critically examine the performance of ATV’s systems,” said Brian Smith, NASA’s lead ATV flight director. “ATV must pass these tests before it will be allowed to initiate the final rendezvous and docking. The tests have been designed to verify the systems vital to ensuring the safety of the ISS and its crew perform as expected.”