China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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EDRS Mated with Ariane 5 Launcher

EDRS-C is prepared for launch. (Credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace Optique Vidéo du CSG – S Martin)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — The second satellite to join the constellation that forms the European Data Relay System (EDRS) has been mated with its launch vehicle.

The EDRS-C satellite is due for launch on 6 August from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

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RUAG Space Builds Brain, Heat Protection for EDRS Data Highway Satellite

Artist’s impression of EDRS system in space. (Credit: DLR)

BERN, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — The European Data Relay System (EDRS), dubbed the “SpaceDataHighway”, uses innovative laser technology to dramatically cut the time needed for Earth observation satellites to deliver information to the ground. The second satellite to join the sister satellite already in orbit is due for launch on 6 August.

The “brain” (onboard computer) of the latest satellite, called EDRS-C, was delivered from RUAG Space to the satellite builder OHB System AG. The onboard computer controls and monitors the payload of the satellite and many other subsystems.

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Ariane 6 Mobile Gantry Rolled Out for First Time

Ariane 6 mobile gantry. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 29 July 2019 (ESA PR) — At Europe’s Spaceport the Ariane 6 mobile gantry, a 90 metre-high metallic structure built to house Ariane 6 underwent a 97 m rollout test last week to mimic prelaunch.

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Arianespace’s Latest Soyuz Success Marks Completion of Initial O3b Satellite Constellation

Soyuz launches three O3b satellites on April 4, 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — With a successful Soyuz launch that completed the first phase of SES’ O3b constellation, Arianespace today reaffirmed is ability to support the growing global market for such in-orbit satellite systems.

Lifting off mid-day from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the workhorse launch vehicle delivered the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th O3b satellites into a circular orbit during a flight lasting 2 hours and 22 minutes until final separation. Total payload lift performance was estimated at 3,198 kg.

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Europe’s Exoplanet Satellite Completes Final Tests

Artist impression of Cheops, the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, with an exoplanet system in the background. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

MADRID (ESA PR) — ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, was recently declared ready to fly after completing a series of final spacecraft tests.

Cheops will lift off as a secondary passenger on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket launching from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will be stored at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Madrid for a few months before being shipped to the launch site, targeting the launch time slot between 15 October and 14 November in 2019.
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Arianespace’s Vega Launches PRISMA Earth Observation Satellite

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace’s third mission of 2019 – which marked the Vega rocket’s 14th consecutive success – orbited the Italian PRISMA Earth observation satellite tonight, bringing the total number of spacecraft lofted by the launch services company to 600. It was the 308th flight overall of an Arianespace launcher.

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Video: ESA Looks Ahead to Busy 2019

Video Caption: ESA is looking forward to another interesting year in 2019.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will return to the International Space Station, in Science Cheops will look at exoplanets, while the EDRS-C satellite will start the era of super-fast data relay on orbit.

In Kourou preparation will go full speed for Vega-C, a more powerful version of ESA’s light weight launcher, also paving the way for future Ariane 6.

And in November in Spain at ‘Space 19+’, the Council at Ministerial level, ESA will propose to its Member States a bold vision for a strong Europe in Space.











Ariane 6 Moving Forward

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This has been an intense year for Ariane 6 development, with progress boosted across Europe: plants are manufacturing new parts using novel methods, all engines have been tested, and the construction of launch facilities is well underway.

ESA has worked with an industrial network led by prime contractor ArianeGroup, of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including 350 small- and medium-sized enterprises, to fine-tune the design and start production. Meanwhile, France’s CNES space agency has been preparing its launch facilities at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

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ESA Works on Improving Vega Performance & Capabilities

Europe’s Vega small launcher is set to demonstrate its extended capability to deploy multiple light satellites using its new versatile Small Satellites Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser, mid-2019. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Vega is proving its reliability. Based on this heritage, ESA and European industry are building new elements that will increase Vega’s performance, capabilities and flexibility from mid-2019.

A proof of concept flight on Vega of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service is planned for mid-2019.

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Five More Launches Scheduled for November

Rideshare launch (Credit: Spaceflight)

The following is a list of launches for the remainder of November based on Spaceflightnow.com’s Launch Schedule. The list includes two launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and one launch apiece from Xichang in China, Kourou in French Guiana, and Satish Dhawan in India.

Please check Spaceflightnow’s launch page regularly because launches tend to slip on a regular basis.

Editor’s Note: The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Monday has been postponed five or six days so engineers can conduct additional checks of the booster. The first stage is being flown for the third time.

November 19

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B — SUCCESS
Payload: 2 Beidou navigation satellites
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Xichang, China

November 20/21

Launch Vehicle: Vega
Payload: Mohammed VI-B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 8:42 p.m. EST on 20th (0142 GMT on 21st)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: http://www.esa.int

November 26

Launch Vehicle: PSLV
Payload: HySIS hyperspectral imaging satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
Webcast: https://www.isro.gov.in/

November 29

Launch Vehicle: Delta 4-Heavy
Payload: NROL-71 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: https://www.ulalaunch.com/

TBD

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Spaceflight, Inc. SSO-A rideshare mission
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: http://www.spacex.com

This flight will deploy more than 70 spacecraft from approximately 35 different organizations.











Arianespace Orbits Metop-C in Third Successful Launch for EUMETSAT’s Metop Meteorological Program

Soyuz launches Metop-C weather satellite. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched the Metop-C satellite for EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

Arianespace’s eighth launch of the year, and the second using a Soyuz rocket, took place on Tuesday, November 6 at 9:47 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).

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Understanding the Earth’s Weather: Arianespace Launches Europe’s Aeolus Wind-monitoring Satellite

Ariane 5 launches the Aeolus satellite. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace marked another mission accomplished for the Earth’s sustainable development as its light-lift Vega vehicle successfully orbited Europe’s Aeolus – the first satellite designed to profile wind profiles on a global scale.

Lifting off from the Spaceport’s Vega Launch Complex at 6:20:09 p.m. local time in French Guiana – the planned precise moment of launch – Vega lofted its passenger during a flight lasting just under 55 minutes, with Aeolus placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit.

Built by Airbus Defence and Space, the satellite carries a laser Doppler wind LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system called Aladin that will probe the lowermost 30 km. of the atmosphere in measuring winds around the Earth.
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Launch Double Feature on Tap for Wednesday

Ariane 5 liftoff (Credit: ESA)

If you like rocket launches — and who doesn’t? — you’re in for a treat on Wednesday with two liftoffs 15 minutes apart.

Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payloads: Galileo 23-26 navigation satellites
Launch time: 7:25:01 a.m. EDT; 4:25:01 PDT (1125:01 GMT)
Launch site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation/Galileo/Watch_the_launch_of_Galileos_23_26 (Coverage begins at 7:00 a.m. EDT/1100 GMT)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: Iridium Next 56-65 communications satellites
Launch Time: 7:39:26 a.m. EDT; 4:39:26 a.m. PDT (1139:26 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: www.spacex.com (Coverage begins 20 minutes before launch)

The timing is perfect for folks on the East Coast and in Europe, but not so much for us out here in California. If I can roll out of bed in time, I’ll try to take some video of the Falcon 9 launch from here in Mojave. No promises.

The launch will be the 13th for the Falcon 9 and the 14th flight overall for Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2018. The company’s other launch was the successful maiden flight of Falcon Heavy in February.

A successful mission on Wednesday will put the United States in a tie with China with 20 launches apiece this year. The two launches will bring the worldwide total to 61 for the year.

Ariane 5 will be launching for the third time this year. It will also be the fourth launch of 2018 from Kourou.











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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