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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NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Roman Space Telescope

A high-resolution illustration of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope against a starry background. (Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

WASHINGTON (NASA HQ PR) — NASA has awarded a NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract to Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, California, to provide launch service for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope mission. The Roman Space Telescope is the top-priority large space mission recommended by the 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.

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Progress Continues Toward Artemis I Launch

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out of High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building for the first time to Launch Complex 39B, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the fully stacked and integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo a wet dress rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B to verify systems and practice countdown procedures for the first launch. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

NASA Mission Update

Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians continue to prepare the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Artemis I.  

During work to repair the source of a hydrogen leak, engineers identified a loose fitting on the inside wall of the rocket’s engine section, where the quick disconnect for the liquid hydrogen umbilical attaches. The component, called a “collet,” is a fist-sized ring that guides the quick disconnect during assembly operations. Teams will repair the collet by entering the engine section in parallel with other planned work for launch preparations. Technicians have replaced the seals on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical and will reattach the umbilical plate once the loose collet is addressed.  

NASA continues to target the late August launch period and will identify a specific target launch date after engineers have examined the collet. 

Technicians continue work associated with battery activations, and plan to turn on the core stage batteries this weekend, before they are installed on the rocket. Next up, teams will start the flight termination systems operations, which include removing the core stage and booster safe and arm devices for calibration and removing and replacing the command receiver decoders with the flight units. The safe and arm devices are a manual mechanism that put the flight termination system in either a “safe” or “arm” configuration while the command receiver decoders receive and decode the command on the rocket if the system is activated. 

Meanwhile on the Orion spacecraft, teams installed a technology demonstration that will test digital assistance and video collaboration in deep space. Engineers are also conducting powered testing on the crew module and European service module heaters and sensors.  

NASA Enters into Multi-Faceted Contract with Vaya Space

COCOA, Fla., July 14, 2022 – Vaya Space, Inc. the vortex-hybrid engine rocket company and emerging leader in sustainable space access, today announced that NASA has entered into a multi-faceted contract with Vaya Space to demonstrate the Company’s technologies and industry-leading engine performance at both the Stennis Space and Kennedy Space Centers.

Vaya Space conducted its inaugural launch earlier this year and has been rapidly expanding its operations and technology suite since that time. The Company received notification of its first patent award earlier this year and has multiple additional patents in progress on its breakthrough technologies that it believes will transform the Commercial Space sector in cost, reliability and safety.

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Vaya Space Awarded Awarded Satellite Launch Contract From All2Space

Launch Services Provider Teams with CubeSat Developer and Aggregator 

COCOA, Fla. (Vaya Space PR) — Vaya Space, Inc. the vortex-hybrid engine rocket company and emerging leader in sustainable space access, today announced that All2Space has signed an exclusive contract to launch their satellite constellation with Vaya Space.    

All2Space is CubeSat developer and launch aggregator with Brazilian Space Agency heritage focused on Latin American operations, with plans to develop and manage their own constellation. The signing of agreement between Vaya Space and All2Space will initially focus on the Latin American market, and this contract will further enhance Vaya’s first-mover advantage in the Latin American space industry.     

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NASA, SpaceX Launch Climate Science Research, More to Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 14, 2022, with a Cargo Dragon spacecraft aboard for SpaceX’s 25th resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA TV)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft carrying more than 5,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 8:44 p.m. EDT Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy for the company’s 25th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. It is scheduled to autonomously dock at the space station about 11:20 a.m. Saturday, July 16, and remain there for about a month. Coverage of arrival will begin at 10 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

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International Space Station National Lab Sponsoring Diverse Set of Experiments Launching on SpaceX CRS-25

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – A wide variety of research and technology development payloads sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory will soon launch to the orbiting laboratory. These payloads are among the more than 4,700 pounds of cargo onboard SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission (contracted by NASA), launching no earlier than 8:44 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 14, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

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NIH-Funded Tissue Chip Investigations to Fly on SpaceX CRS-25 Mission to the ISS

Tissue chips for a UCSF investigation are prepared for launch to the ISS onboard Space CRS-25. (Credit: Sonja Schrepfer, University of California, San Francisco)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – In the absence of effective countermeasures, prolonged spaceflight can result in many of the same physiological changes associated with aging—bone loss, muscle deterioration, and altered immune system function—only at a much quicker rate. This makes the microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) a valuable platform for research on conditions associated with the aging process.

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NASA Highlights Climate Research on Cargo Launch, Sets Coverage

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 8:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 14, to launch the agency’s next investigation to monitor climate change to the International Space Station. The mission, NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT), will fly aboard SpaceX’s 25th commercial resupply services mission to the orbital laboratory.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew, including a new climate research investigation.

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NASA’s Moon Rocket and Spacecraft Arrive at Vehicle Assembly Building

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — At approximately 2:30 p.m. ET, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission were firmly secured inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center after a four-mile journey from launch pad 39B that began at 4:12 a.m. ET Saturday, July 2.

Over the next several days, the team will extend work platforms to allow access to SLS and Orion. In the coming weeks, teams will replace a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical and perform additional checkouts and activities before returning to the pad for launch.

Artemis I Rollback to VAB Rescheduled for July 1

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA Program Update

Teams have rescheduled the return of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to Friday, July 1 due a concern with the condition of the crawlerway that leads from Launch Pad 39B to the VAB. First motion is now planned for 6 p.m. EDT.

This afternoon, teams conducted a series of conditioning efforts driving the massive transporter up and down the slope leading to the launch pad. The inclined pathway must be precisely level with an even distribution of the rocks that make up the crawlerway in order to support the load of the mobile launcher and rocket that it will carry.

Teams will continue grating, or sifting, the crawlerway overnight and the rocket and spacecraft remain in a safe configuration.

NASA, SpaceX Target New Launch Date for Commercial Resupply Mission

Cargo Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Mission Update

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than Wednesday, July 14, for launch of the CRS-25 commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The new target launch date supports ongoing Dragon spacecraft inspections as well as repair and replacement of any components that could have degraded by exposure to mono-methyl hydrazine (MMH) vapor found during testing in early June. In order to allow a more detailed off-vehicle inspection of the parachutes, the SpaceX team made the decision to replace the main parachutes on this spacecraft.

The new date also allows for launch of the uncrewed cargo mission for the earliest possible rendezvous opportunity with the International Space Station following the upcoming high-beta angle period when the sun angle with space station’s orbital plane causes problems with thermal and power generation at the microgravity laboratory in the planned docking attitude for visiting spacecraft.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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NASA Passes Go, Moves Toward Late August Artemis I Launch

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has decided that the Space Launch System (SLS) wet dress rehearsal earlier this week that ended prematurely was sufficient for the agency to move forward with having the giant rocket launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to the moon later this summer.

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Artemis I Dress Rehearsal Ends at T-29s Mark

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Mission Update

The Artemis I wet dress rehearsal ended today at 7:37 p.m. EDT at T-29 seconds in the countdown. Today’s test marked the first time the team fully loaded all the Space Launch System rocket’s propellant tanks and proceeded into the terminal launch countdown, when many critical activities occur in rapid succession.

During propellant loading operations earlier in the day, launch controllers encountered a hydrogen leak in the quick disconnect that attaches an umbilical from the tail service mast on the mobile launcher to the rocket’s core stage. The team attempted to fix the leak by warming the quick disconnect and then chilling it back down to realign a seal, but their efforts did not fix the issue.

Launch controllers then developed a plan to mask data associated with the leak that would trigger a hold by the ground launch sequencer, or launch computer, in a real launch day scenario, to allow them to get as far into the countdown as possible. The time required to develop the plan required extended hold time during the countdown activities, but they were able to resume with the final 10 minutes of the countdown, called terminal count. During the terminal count, the teams performed several critical operations  that must be accomplished for launch including switching control from the ground launch sequencer to the automated launch sequencer controlled by the rocket’s flight software, and important step that the team wanted to accomplish.

NASA will hold a media teleconference about the test Tuesday, June 21 at 11 a.m., which will stream on the agency’s website. A live feed of the rocket at launch pad continues to be available.