- Parabolic Arc
- November 29, 2023
World Exceeds 2021 Launch Total with 2 Months to Go; Busy Week Ahead for China, SpaceX
Russia launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX orbited 53 more Starlink satellites, and China lofted a technology demonstration satellite as the world exceeded last year’s total orbital launch attempts with two months to go in 2022.
The week ahead is scheduled to see the completion of China’s first permanent space station, the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in more than three years, and an American cargo mission to ISS.
SpaceX’s 49th launch of the year was the 33rd Falcon 9 flight dedicated to deploying Starlink broadband satellites. The company has deployed 1,624 Starlink spacecraft this year, and 2,600 Starlink satellites on 49 dedicated launches since January 2021. In total, the company has launched more than 3,500 Starlink satellites since February 2018.
Week of Oct. 23, 2022
|Date||Launcher – Organization||Payload – Organization||Purpose||Launch Site|
|Oct. 26, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a — Roscosmos||Progress MS-21 — Roscosmos||ISS resupply||Baikonur|
|Oct. 27, 2022||Falcon 9 – SpaceX||53 Starlink – SpaceX||Broadband||Vandenberg|
|Oct. 29, 2022||Long March 2D – CASC*||Shiyan 20C – CAST^||Tech demo||Jiuquan|
^ China Academy of Space Technology
Roscosmos launched the Progress MS-21 freighter to the International Space Station on Oct. 26. It was Russia’s third resupply mission to ISS this year. The nation has also sent crews to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-21 and MS-22 spacecraft.
China launches the Shiyan 20C satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Oct. 29. Officials have said the satellite’s mission is to demonstration new technology.
THE WEEK AHEAD
It’s going to be a very momentous week for China as the nation launches a new module and a resupply ship to its Tiangong space station. The Mengtian science module will complete the initial construction of the space station, which includes the Tianhe core and Wentian science modules.
|Date||Launcher – Organization||Payload – Organization||Purpose||Launch Site|
|Oct. 31, 2022||Long March 5B — CASC*||Mengtian — CMSA+||Space station module||Wenchang|
|Nov. 1, 2022||Falcon Heavy – SpaceX||USSF-44 – U.S. Space Force||Rideshare – Various (see below)||Kennedy|
|Nov. 2, 2022||Soyuz-2.1b – RVSN RF^||TBA||TBA||Plesetsk|
|Nov. 3, 2022||Falcon 9 – SpaceX||Hotbird 13G – Eutelsat||GEO Comsat||Cape Canaveral|
|Nov. 4, 2022||Long March 3B/E – CASC*||ChinaSat-19 – China Satcom||GEO Comsat||Xichang|
|Nov. 6, 2022||Antares – Northrop Grumman||Cygnus NG-18 (S.S. Sally Ride)||ISS Resupply – Rideshare||Wallops|
|Nov. 6, 2022||Long March 7 – CASC*||Tianzhou 5 – CMSA+||Station Resupply – Rideshare||Wenchang|
+ China Manned Space Agency
^ Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation
The crew of Shenzhou-15 is set to join the three Shenzhou-14 taikonauts aboard the station for a handover of the station in late November. The Shenzhou-14 crew will be at the end of a six-month mission that began on June 5.
The launch of Mengtian aboard a Long March 5B is already causing considerable concern worldwide. The rocket’s core stage enters a low orbit that eventually decays into an uncontrolled reentry over a random part of the globe. The stage is about 30 meters (100 ft) long and has an empty mass of about 21.6 metric tons (23.8 tons), meaning large pieces could survive reentry.
The Tianzhou-5 mission will carry at least five secondary payloads that will be deployed either during launch or from the space station.
Tianzhou 5 Secondary Payloads
|CAS-10 (XW-4)||CAMSAT||Amateur radio|
|Macao Science 1||Macau University of Science and Technology||South Atlantic Anomaly observation|
|Zhixing-3A||Beijing Smart Satellite Technology||Earth observation|
|Lianli||Dalian University of Technology||TBA|
|Shengxi Jishu Yanzheng||TBA||Technology demonstration|
China is also scheduled to launch China Satcom’s ChinaSat-19 geosynchronous communications satellite on a Long March 3B/E from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Nov. 4.
Falcon Heavy Returns
SpaceX will launch the first Falcon Heavy rocket since June 2019 for the U.S. Space Force (USSF) from the Kennedy Space Center. There has been some chatter on Twitter that the launch might not occur as scheduled on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Here is a preview in the event that it is conducted this week.
USSF payloads include a pair of space tugs, a military communications satellite, and a microsatellite named TETRA-1 built by Millennium Space Systems. There are also four payloads from Lockheed Martin and Universal Space Network.
Falcon Heavy Rideshare Payloads
|USSF-44||U.S. Space Force||Military communications|
|LDPE-2||U.S. Space Force||Space tug|
|Shepherd Demonstration||U.S. Space Force||Space tug|
|TETRA-1||U.S. Space Force||Technology demonstration|
|LINUSS Chase (LINUS-A1)||Lockheed Martin Space||Satellite servicing technology demonstration|
|LINUSS RSO (LINUS-A2)||Lockheed Martin Space||Satellite servicing technology demonstration|
|USUVL||Universal Space Network||Technology demonstration|
|WL2XOU||Universal Space Network||Technology demonstration|
Millennium said TETRA-1 “created for various prototype missions in and around geosynchronous earth orbit.” The company added that it designed, manufactured, assembled and integrated TETRA-1 “60 percent faster than previous missions” to demonstrate to USSF the speed at which new satellites could be developed.
Millennium might have built the satellite quickly, but its ride to space has been long in coming. The company’s press release extolling completion of the satellite is dated April 21, 2020.
Lockheed Martin’s payloads — LINUSS stands for Lockheed Martin In-space Upgrade Satellite System — are designed to get the company into the business of satellite servicing and life-extension in geosynchronous orbit.
The functions of the two Universal Space Network satellites are unknown. Wikipedia describes the company as a U.S. subsidiary of Swedish Space Corporation that specializes in the “tracking, telemetry, and control of spacecraft.”
SpaceX is also scheduled to launch the Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G geosynchronous communications satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Nov. 3.
ISS Resupply Flight
Northrop Grumman will launch its second Cygnus resupply mission to ISS this year aboard an Antares rocket launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va. In addition to cargo for the seven astronauts in orbit, the mission will carry five secondary payloads.
Cygnus NG-18 (S.S. Sally Ride) Secondary Payloads
|SeaLion||Old Dominion University – U.S. Coast Guard Academy||Communications|
|TAKA||Kyushu Institute of Technology||Earth observation|
SeaLion and UtProSat-1 will be deployed from the Antares rocket into very low Earth orbits. The other three satellites will be deployed
YEARLY LAUNCH TOTALS
The three successful orbital launch attempts raised the number to 147. There have been 141 successes, five failures and a partial failure. In 2021, there were 146 launch attempts with 135 successes, 10 failures and one partial failure.
Jan. 1 – Oct. 30 2022
|Nation||Successes||Failures||Partial Failures||Total||Percentage of Total|
The United States remained at the top of the table with SpaceX accounting for 49 launches out of 71 attempts. Elon Musk’s company is aiming for 60 launches this year, and 100 launches in 2023.
China is in second place with 47 launches, followed by Russia with 19. The United States, China and Russia account for 137 of 147 launches, or 93.2 percent of the total. There were three failures and one partial failure in that total. The rest of the world has launched only 10 times, with eight successes and two failures.