SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.
First in a series
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
TAIYUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CASC PR) — On June 11 at 11:03 a.m., the Long March 2D carrier rocket launched the Beijing 3 satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The booster also carried three secondary satellites: Haisi 2, Wangwang 1 and Tianjian Space Test No. 1. All four satellites entered the planned orbit, and the launch was a complete success.
The month of April is concluding with a string of launches from Russia, the United States, China and South America. Things kicked off on Friday with SpaceX’s launch of Crew-2 to the International Space Station (ISS). On Sunday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellite broadband spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.
One of the final United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rockets is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. That flight will be followed by the fifth launch of China’s Long March 6 booster. Launches by Europe’s Vega and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are scheduled over the next two days.
China will close out the month on Thursday by launching Tianhe-1 core module for that nation’s first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B booster.
A Chinese Long March 4B rocket launched the Shiyan-6 03 experimental satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Friday, April 9.
Shiyan-6 was developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microsatellite Innovation. The spacecraft was described in official press reports as being used for space environment detection and related technology experiments.
It was the 365th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.
Paris, France/Luxembourg/Beijing China (ThrustMe/Spacety PR) – ThrustMe and Spacety announce that the BEIHANGKONGSHI-1 satellite, carrying the world’s first iodine electric propulsion system on board, was successfully launched into space on a CZ-6 Long March 6 rocket from Taiyuan in China on the 6th of November at 04:20 a.m. (Paris time).