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World Exceeds 2021 Launch Total with 2 Months to Go; Busy Week Ahead for China, SpaceX

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 30, 2022
A Falcon 9 arches across the sky after launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Credit: Elon Musk)

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.

Orbital Launches
Week of Oct. 23, 2022

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
Oct. 26, 2022Soyuz-2.1a — RoscosmosProgress MS-21 — RoscosmosISS resupplyBaikonur
Oct. 27, 2022Falcon 9 – SpaceX53 Starlink – SpaceXBroadbandVandenberg
Oct. 29, 2022Long March 2D – CASC*Shiyan 20C – CAST^Tech demoJiuquan
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
^ China Academy of Space Technology
Source: Wikipedia

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.

Long March 5B launches the Tianhe space station core module on April 29, 2021. (Credit: CASC)


Tiangong Expands

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.

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
Oct. 31, 2022Long March 5B — CASC*Mengtian — CMSA+Space station moduleWenchang
Nov. 1, 2022Falcon Heavy – SpaceXUSSF-44 – U.S. Space ForceRideshare – Various (see below)Kennedy
Nov. 2, 2022Soyuz-2.1b – RVSN RF^TBA TBAPlesetsk
Nov. 3, 2022Falcon 9 – SpaceXHotbird 13G – EutelsatGEO ComsatCape Canaveral
Nov. 4, 2022Long March 3B/E – CASC*ChinaSat-19 – China SatcomGEO ComsatXichang
Nov. 6, 2022Antares – Northrop GrummanCygnus NG-18 (S.S. Sally Ride)ISS Resupply – RideshareWallops
Nov. 6, 2022Long March 7 – CASC*Tianzhou 5 – CMSA+Station Resupply – RideshareWenchang
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
+ China Manned Space Agency
^ Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation
Source: Wikipedia

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)CAMSATAmateur radio
Macao Science 1Macau University of Science and TechnologySouth Atlantic Anomaly observation
Zhixing-3ABeijing Smart Satellite TechnologyEarth observation
LianliDalian University of TechnologyTBA
Shengxi Jishu YanzhengTBATechnology demonstration
Source: Wikipedia

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

The Deep Space Atomic Clock was launched on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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 ForceMilitary communications
LDPE-2U.S. Space ForceSpace tug
Shepherd DemonstrationU.S. Space ForceSpace tug
TETRA-1U.S. Space ForceTechnology demonstration
LINUSS Chase (LINUS-A1) Lockheed Martin SpaceSatellite servicing technology demonstration
LINUSS RSO (LINUS-A2) Lockheed Martin SpaceSatellite servicing technology demonstration
USUVL Universal Space NetworkTechnology demonstration
WL2XOUUniversal Space NetworkTechnology demonstration
Source: Wikipedia

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.

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket liftoff from pad 0A at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on Feb. 19, 2022. The Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,300 pounds of science investigations and cargo, is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, Feb. 21. (Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

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

PearlAfricaSat-1UgandaEarth observation
SeaLionOld Dominion University – U.S. Coast Guard AcademyCommunications
TAKAKyushu Institute of TechnologyEarth observation
UtProSat-1Virginia TechCommunications
ZIMSAT-1 Zimbabwe Earth observation
Source: Wikipedia

SeaLion and UtProSat-1 will be deployed from the Antares rocket into very low Earth orbits. The other three satellites will be deployed


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.

Orbital Launches
Jan. 1 – Oct. 30 2022

NationSuccessesFailuresPartial FailuresTotalPercentage of Total
United States68217148.3
South Korea10010.7
Source: Wikipedia

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.

One response to “World Exceeds 2021 Launch Total with 2 Months to Go; Busy Week Ahead for China, SpaceX”

  1. duheagle says:

    Given all the obvious work you put into such stories, it seems sort of a shame that SpaceX renders them obsolete every few days.

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