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Launch Roundup: Relativity Space & JAXA to Launch New Rockets, SpaceX Supply Ship Headed to Space Station

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 5, 2023
Filed under , , , , , ,
Launch Roundup: Relativity Space & JAXA to Launch New Rockets, SpaceX Supply Ship Headed to Space Station
Terran 1 on the launch pad. (Credit: Relativity Space)

Relativity Space and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will attempt to launch new boosters while SpaceX sends a resupply ship to the International Space Station (ISS) this week.

Relativity Space is set to launch Terran 1, the world’s first 3D printed rocket, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday, March 8. The new booster will not carry a payload during the flight test.

Launch Time: 1 p.m. EST (18:00 UTC)

Terran 1 stands 33.5 m (110 ft.) tall and is powered by nine first stage Aeon engines and one second stage Aeon engine that use liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas. The rocket has the following payload capacities:

  • Low Earth orbit: 1,250 kg (2,756 lb) to 185 km (115 miles)
  • Sun synchronous orbit: 900 kg (1,984 lb) to 500 km (311 miles)
  • Sun synchronous orbit: 700 kg (1,534 lb) to 1,200 km (746 miles).

Relativity Space is advertising dedicated launches at $12 million apiece.

Upcoming Launches
March 6 – 12

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
March 6/7H3 – JAXAALOS-3 – JAXAEarth observationTanegashima
March 8Terran 1 – Relativity SpaceNoneFlight testCape Canaveral
March 9Falcon 9 – SpaceX40 OneWeb – OneWebCommunicationsCape Canaveral
March 9Long March 4C – CASCTBATBATaiyuan
March 11/12Falcon 9 – SpaceXCargo Dragon – SpaceXISS Resupply + CubeSats (3)Kennedy
March 12Proton – RoscosmosOlymp-K No. 2 – Ministry of Defence/Gonets Satellite SystemCommunicationsBaikonur

JAXA will attempt to launch its new H3 rocket for the second time on March 7 after the booster suffered an abort on Feb. 17. The launcher will carry the ALOS-3 Earth observation satellite.

Launch Window: 8:37:55:55-8:44:15 p.m. EST on Monday, March 6 (01:37:55-01:44:15 UTC on Tuesday, March 7)

H3 rocket aborts during the maiden launch attempt. (Credit: JAXA)

JAXA said the abort last month was caused by an abnormality in the power supply system of the first-stage engines. The flight control software shut down the engines after they began to fire and before signals were sent to two solid rocket boosters to fire.

H3 is designed to replace the H-IIA and already retired H-IIB boosters. The launch vehicle has a capacity of placing 4,000 kg (8,818 lb) into sun synchronous orbit (SSO) or 4,000–7,900 kg (8,818–17,417 lb) into geostationary transfer orbit.

SpaceX has two Falcon 9 launches scheduled this week. The first flight will launch 40 broadband satellites for OneWeb.

Launch Time: 2:05 p.m. EST (19:05 UTC) on Thursday, March 9

SpaceX’s second launch will see a Falcon 9 launch a Cargo Dragon spacecraft to ISS.

Launch Time: 8:36 p.m. on Saturday, March 11 (01:36 UTC on Sunday, March 12)

The launch will also include three CubeSats:

  • ARKSat-1 – University of Arkansas – technology demonstration
  • LightCube – Arizona State University – education
  • SNoOPI – Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics – technology demonstration.

Russian and China also have launches scheduled this week.

Last Week in Launches

Last week belonged entirely to SpaceX as Elon Musk’s company launched a new crew to the International Space Station and 72 Starlink broadband satellites aboard three Falcon 9 rockets from different coasts.

Week in Launches
Feb. 27-March 5

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
Feb. 27Falcon 9 – SpaceX21 Starlink V2 – SpaceXCommunicationsCape Canaveral
March 2Falcon 9 – SpaceXCrew Dragon – SpaceXISS CrewKennedy
March 3Falcon 9 – SpaceX51 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsVandenberg

SpaceX’s launch of the 21 Starlink V2 Minis represented a major advance for the company’s global broadband service.

“V2 minis include key technologies—such as more powerful phased array antennas and the use of E-band for backhaul—which will allow Starlink to provide ~4x more capacity per satellite than earlier iterations,” SpaceX tweeted. “This means Starlink can provide more bandwidth with increased reliability and connect millions of more people around the world with high-speed internet.”

V2 minis also include Hall thrusters powered by argon.

“Developed by SpaceX engineers, they have 2.4x the thrust and 1.5x the specific impulse of our first gen thrusters,” the company tweeted. “This will also be the first time ever that argon Hall thrusters are operated in space.”

The launch of the V2 minis raised the number of Starlink satellites over 4,000. The company has launched 4,052

Orbital Launch Stats

U.S. companies have launched 18 times this year. SpaceX accounts for 15 of the 16 successful launches. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket has the only other success. ABL Space Systems and Virgin Galactic each suffered a failure.

Orbital Launches by Nation
Through March 5

United States1621860.0

China is in second place with seven launches. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) launched six times times, with Galactic Energy conducting one flight of its Ceres-1 small satellite booster.

Russia has launched three times. India’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) succeeded on its second launch after failing on its first last year. Japan launched the H-IIA booster once. Europe is not yet on the board.

Launches by Company/Agency
Through March 5

Galactic Energy1015
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries1011
Rocket Lab1013
ABL Space Systems0110
Virgin Orbit0110
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

SpaceX once again leads the world with 15 launches, followed by CASC with six. Roscosmos has launched three times, while six other providers have one launch apiece under their belts.

SpaceX has launched the majority of satellites in 2023. Eight Falcon 9s orbited 387 Starlink satellites plus two spacecraft from other companies. The Transporter-7 rideshare mission launched 114 satellites in January.

Launches by Booster
Through March 5

Launch VehicleCompany/AgencySuccessesFailuresTotal
Falcon 9SpaceX14014
Long March 2C, DCASC404
Ceres-1Galactic Energy101
ElectronRocket Lab101
Falcon HeavySpaceX101
Long March 7ACASC101
Long March 3B/ECASC101
LauncherOneVirgin Orbit011
RS1ABL Space Systems011

SpaceX launched Falcon 9 rockets 14 times and the Falcon Heavy once. China’s Long March 2C and 2D rockets launched a combined four times.

Launches by Location
Through March 5

Cape CanaveralUSA808
Mid-Atlantic Regional SpaceportUSA101
Satish DhawanIndia101
PSC – AlaskaUSA011

Cape Canaveral Space Force Station remains the busiest spaceport in the world with eight launches. Vandenberg is in second place with four launches, followed by Baikonur, Kennedy and Jiuquan with three each.

Suborbital Launches

NASA conducted two sounding rocket launches from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Feb 16. The purpose of the flights was to test a new capability to support science research in the mesosphere.

Suborbital Launches
Excludes Ballistic Missile Tests

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
Feb. 16Improved Orion – NASAMesOrion – NASATech demoWallops
Feb. 16Improved Orion – NASAMesOrion – NASATech demoWallops

10 responses to “Launch Roundup: Relativity Space & JAXA to Launch New Rockets, SpaceX Supply Ship Headed to Space Station”

  1. Sam says:

    Korean Innospace will attempt again the first launch of its HANBIT-TLV rocket from Alcântara Launch Center, Brazil.

    • Thomas Matula says:

      I find it interesting that despite its location Alcântara Space Center has not attracted customers for launching comsats which illustrates the importance of having a good climate for business. It is currently ranked 124 out of 190 nations in terms of doing business due to its complex regulatory environment.

    • Sam says:

      Targeting today, March 7th, for first launch attempt, time pending the weather conditions.

      Unfortunately, as said last year by Innospace, brazilian air force that runs the base don’t will allow livestream of the launch. ?

  2. gunsandrockets says:

    H3 launch failure today. Liftoff good. Second stage engine ignition failure.

    • duheagle says:

      Yeah, I was watching that too. Tough luck for JAXA and Mitsubishi. But brand-new rockets don’t exactly have a sterling record of initial successes. And even the ones that succeed the first time out have not proven immune to later failures early in their launch histories.

      The Japanese will get H-3 right at some point. But where that point will be is the question. Among the knock-on effects of this H-3 failure is that the years-late debut mission of HTV-X to ISS will almost certainly be delayed still further.

  3. Thomas Matula says:

    It appears that China is looking for a way to shoot down Starlink satellites in the future since they are being used by the military in the Ukrainian war. This of course is the danger when a civilian system is used in war.

    March 7, 20238:35 PM CSTLast Updated an hour ago

    Studying Ukraine war, China’s military minds fret over US missiles, Starlink

    By Eduardo Baptista and Greg Torode

    • duheagle says:

      The PRC mandarins would do well to recall what followed in the wake of Russians actually spitting on Elon Musk back around the turn of the century. The last thing a tottering PRC needs is to get Elon Musk seriously contemplating what he can do to protect as well as deploy his Starlink constellation. Messing with the U.S. DoD is one thing. Messing with Tony Stark is quite another.

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