The Best Laid Plans, Moscow Edition: Ukraine Invasion Damages Russia’s Launch Business

Soyuz-2 rocket launches a military satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ambitious launch schedules typically go awry when a rocket suffers a catastrophic failure that takes months to investigate and implement modifications to ensure the same accident doesn’t happen again. In the majority of cases, the failures involve a machine launching a machine. All that can be replaced, albeit at substantial cost.

Russia’s ambitious launch plans for 2022 fell apart due to a far more momentous and deadly action: the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision ruptured cooperation with the West on virtually every space project on which it was safe to do so. The main exception was the International Space Station (ISS), a program involving astronauts and cosmonauts that would be difficult to operate safely if Russia suddenly withdrew (as it indeed threatened to do).

Due to the invasion, Western partners canceled seven launches of foreign payloads in less than a month. The cancellations put Russia even further behind the United States and China in launch totals this year.

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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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The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.

There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

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Masten Space Systems Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander was designed science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

Updated 7/29/2022, 1:24 p.m. PDT: Added statements from NASA and Masten Space Systems. Clarified contract award included paying for launch.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Masten Space Systems filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, signaling serious financial distress at the pioneering NewSpace company and putting at risk a NASA-funded mission to send a Masten-built lander to the surface of the moon.

The company said it owed 50 to 99 creditors between $10 to $50 million. Top creditors included SpaceX ($4.6 million), Psionic LLC ($2.8 million), Astrobotic Technology ($2.7 million), NuSpace ($1.7 million), and Frontier Aerospace ($1.2 million).

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UAE Pilot Assigned to Crew-6 Space Station Mission

Sultan AlNeyadi (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The final crew member for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission, currently targeted to launch to the International Space Station in spring 2023, has been announced. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) named Sultan AlNeyadi to spend approximately six months aboard the space station as part of Expeditions 68/69. Mission Specialist AlNeyadi joins NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, who will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the mission, and cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev of Roscosmos.

To ensure continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station, NASA signed a contract in 2021 with Axiom Space to fly a NASA astronaut on a Soyuz rotation in exchange for a seat on a future U.S. commercial spacecraft. Axiom announced an agreement on April 29, 2022, with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center of the UAE to fly its crew member in the seat.

The UAE astronaut corps has been in training with NASA at the Johnson Space Center since 2019, including spacewalk training, onboard systems and T-38 training. AlNeyadi will continue crewmember training for the Dragon spacecraft and international partner segments.

ispace Lunar Lander Selected to Deliver NASA CLPS Payloads to the Far Side of the Moon

ispace U.S.’s SERIES-2 Lander Will Deploy Two Communications Relay Satellitesto Support Far Side Landing

TOKYO (space, inc. PR) — ispace, inc.(ispace) today announced that its subsidiary, ispace technologies U.S., inc. (ispace U.S.) joins a team, led by Draper, that has been awarded $73 million to deliver payloads including two communication relay satellites to lunar orbit as well as a suite of scientific experiments to the lunar surface.

Team Draper, which includes ispace U.S., as well as General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, and Systima Technologies, a division of Karman Space & Defense, expects to launch and begin operations on the lunar surface in 2025 in fulfillment of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) task order CP-12.

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SpaceX Launches 53 Starlink Satellites in Second Flight in Two Days

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 24, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launches a fresh batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the company’s second launch of Starlink satellites in two days after a Falcon 9 placed 46 satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

It was SpaceX’s sixth launch of July and 20th dedicated Starlink flight of 2022. Elon Musk’s company has launched a record 33 times since Jan. 1 with more than five months left in the year. The company has orbited just under 1,250 payloads.

SpaceX Launches
January – July 24, 2022

SpacecraftSatellite Type(s)Customer(s)Number of LaunchesSatellites/ Payloads/Crew
StarlinkBroadbandSpaceX201,013
Transporter-3, -4, -5Multiple RideshareMultiple3204
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space22
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space–*8
Cargo Dragon 2ISS ResupplyNASA11
BeaverCube, CapSat-1, CLICK A, D3, JAGSAT, TUMnanoSatTechnology Demonstration, EducationERAU Daytona Beach, MIT, The Weiss School, University of South Alabama, Technical University of Moldova–^6
Globalstar FM15, Nilesat-301, SES-22Commercial CommunicationsGlobalstar, Nilesat, SES33
USA-328, 329, 330, 331UnknownU.S. Department of Defense+4
NROL-87, Intruder 13A, Intruder 13BReconnaissance, Electronic IntelligenceNational Reconnaissance Office23
SARah-1ReconnaissanceBundeswehr (German Military)11
COSMO-SkyMed 2nd-generationEarth Observation (civilian/military)Italian Space Agency11
331,246
* 8 astronauts launched on Crew-4 and Ax-1 missions
^ 6 CubeSats flown on Cargo Dragon 2 to be deployed from ISS
+ Secondary payloads on Globalstar FM15 launch

SpaceX has launched 1,013 Starlink satellites this year and 2,911 spacecraft overall, with 2,620 satellites still working.

SpaceX Sets New Record with 32nd Launch of the Year

Falcon 9 launches Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched for the 32nd time on Friday, setting a new record for a calendar year with more than five months left in 2022.

On Friday, July 22 at 10:39 a.m. PDT, Falcon 9 launched 46 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

This was the fourth flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched NROL-87, NROL-87 and SARah-1.

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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Mattel Announces Multi-Year Agreement with SpaceX to Produce Toys and Collectibles

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.—July 20, 2022Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) today announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement with SpaceX to create and market products that inspire children and collectors alike to tap into their inner space explorer.

In 2023, Mattel will begin releasing SpaceX-inspired toys under its iconic Matchbox brand. Simultaneously, astro-inspired collectibles will start to debut on Mattel Creations, Mattel’s collaboration and direct-to-consumer platform.“We take pride in our ability to create products and experiences that honor cultural moments and inspire humankind,” said Nick Karamanos, SVP Entertainment Partnerships at Mattel. “As space exploration advances more quickly than ever before, we are thrilled to work with SpaceX and help spark limitless play patterns for the space explorer in every kid.”

“At SpaceX, we believe that a future in which humanity is out among the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one in which we are not,” said Brian Bjelde, Vice President at SpaceX. “We look forward to working with Mattel to help inspire the next generation of space explorers and enthusiasts.”

About Mattel

Mattel is a leading global toy company and owner of one of the strongest catalogs of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. We create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain, and develop children through play. We engage consumers through our portfolio of iconic brands, including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Fisher-Price®, American Girl®, Thomas & Friends®, UNO®, and MEGA®, as well as other popular intellectual properties that we own or license in partnership with global entertainment companies. Our offerings include film and television content, gaming and digital experiences, music, and live events. We operate in 35 locations and our products are available in more than 150 countries in collaboration with the world’s leading retail and ecommerce companies. Since its founding in 1945, Mattel is proud to be a trusted partner in empowering children to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. Visit us online at mattel.com.

ispace Releases Key Updates for HAKUTO-R Mission 1

Launch Window Announced, Lander in Final Testing

ispace engineers assembling the M1 flight model at the IABG GmbH Space Centre in Germany. (Image Credit: ispace)

TOKYO (ispace, inc. PR) — Today ispace, inc.(ispace), a global lunar exploration company with its headquarters in Japan and regional offices in the United States and Europe, released key updates for its Mission 1 (M1) launch window and updated progress on its lander Assembly, Integration & Testing (AIT), the company announced.

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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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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.

Dragon Docks Delivering Science Benefitting Humans

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the space station during an orbital sunrise above the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 267 miles over the South Atlantic Ocean, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 11:21 a.m. EDT today, with NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins monitoring operations from the station.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 25th contracted commercial resupply mission for NASA at 8:44 p.m., Thursday, July 14, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends about one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

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NASA, Roscosmos Complete Seat Swap on Flights to ISS

The space station is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — To ensure continued safe operations of the International Space Station (station), protect the lives of astronauts, and ensure continuous U.S. presence in space, NASA will resume integrated crews on U.S. crew spacecraft and the Russian Soyuz with the Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos.

Flying integrated crews ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks. It also protects against contingencies such as a problem with any crew spacecraft, serious crew medical issues, or an emergency aboard the station that requires a crew and the vehicle they are assigned to return to Earth sooner than planned.

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