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China Launches New Crew to Space Station at Start of Busy Week

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 30, 2023
Filed under , , , ,
China Launches New Crew to Space Station at Start of Busy Week
It’s all thumbs up for the Shenzhou 15 and Shenzhou 16 crews aboard the Tiangong Space Station. (Credit: CCTV Video News Agency)

In this week’s Launch Roundup, a new crew led by a veteran astronaut on his fourth spaceflight arrived at China’s Tiangong space station for a six-month mission on Tuesday (May 30).

Commander Jing Haipeng and rookie astronauts Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao  arrived at the station aboard Shenzhou-16 after lifting off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center aboard a Long March 2F rocket.

They were greeted by Shenzhou-15 astronauts, Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu, who were launched to the station on Nov. 29. The Shenzhou-15 astronauts are due to return to Earth in early June after completing a handover of Tiangong to the new crew.

Haipeng is a veteran of the Shenzhou 7, Shenzhou 9, and Shenzhou 11 missions during which he spent 48 days in space. Yangzhu and Haichao are part of the third group of astronauts selected for China’s human space program.

This is Haipeng’s first trip to China’s permanent, multimodule space station. He commanded the 12-day Shenzhou 9 mission to the single-module Tiangong-1 space station in 2012. That flight included the first docking in space.

In 2016, Haipeng commanded the Shenzhou-11 flight to the single-module Tiangong-2 space station. He and Chen Dong spent 32 days in space – the longest mission by Chinese astronauts to that date.

Rayyanah Barnawi aboard the International Space Station
Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi works aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: Axiom Space.

Ax-2 Crew Returns Tonight

As Shenzhou 16 launched to Tiangong, the four astronauts of the commercial Ax-2 mission were preparing to depart the International Space Station (ISS).

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying commander Peggy Whitson, pilot John Shoffner and Saudi mission specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi undocked from the ISS at 11:05 AM EDT. The spacecraft is scheduled to splashdown off the coast of Florida tonight (May 30) at approximately 11:00 PM EDT. The splashdown will be covered on SpaceX’s website and Axiom Space’s website

The four astronauts launched on Axiom Space’s second commercial mission to the station on May 21. The astronauts conducted scientific research and education outreach during the mission.

Barnawi is the first Saudi woman to fly to space. She and Alqarni were the second and third Saudi citizens to reach space.

Nuri rocket launches from the Naro Space Center on May 25, 2023. Image credit: KARI.

Other Recent Launches

Roscosmos launched the Progress MS-23 cargo ship to the ISS last week. The Russian space corporation also launched the Kondor-FKA No. 1 reconnaissance satellite in the first launch of the year from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Recent Launches

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
May 24Soyuz-2.1a – RoscosmosProgress MS-23 (84P) – RoscosmosSpace station resupplyBaikonur
May 25Nuri – KARI~8 Rideshare – MultipleMultipleNaro
May 26Electron – Rocket Lab2 TROPICS* – NASAEarth observationMahia
May 26Soyuz-2.1a – RoscosmosKondor-FKA No. 1 – RoscosmosReconnaissanceVostochny
May 27Falcon 9 – SpaceXBADR-8 – ArabsatCommunicationsCape Canaveral
May 29GSLV Mk II – ISRO+NVS-01 – ISRO+NavigationSatish Dhawan
May 30Long March 2F/G – CASCShenzhou 16 – CMSA**Station crewJiuquan
~ Korea Aerospace Research Institute
* Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats
+ Indian Space Research Organisation
** China Manned Space Agency

Rocket Lab launched the second set of TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) satellites for NASA on May 26. Rocket Lab launched the first two TROPICS CubeSats on May 10. The four-spacecraft constellation will study tropical cyclones and hurricanes.

South Korea’s Nuri rocket launched for the third time on May 25. The payloads include:

  • NEXTSat-2 – Technology demonstration, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
  • JLC-101-v1-2 – Earth observation, Justek.
  • KSAT3U – Earth meteorology, Kairo Space.
  • Lumir-T1 – Space radiation monitoring, Lumir.
  • 4 SNIPE – Space weather, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.

Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) officials declared the launch to be a success. They said seven of the eight satellites were deployed from Nuri’s second stage. Controllers are still trying to confirm whether the eight satellite was successfully deployed.

India launched the NVS-01 spacecraft for its regional satellite navigation system on May 29. It was the nation’s fourth launch of 2023.

SpaceX launched the BADR-8 geosynchronous communications satellites for Arabsat. It was SpaceX’s 36th orbital launch attempt of the year.

Falcon 9 lifts off on the Transporter-7 mission on April 15, 2023. Image credit: SpaceX.

Upcoming Launches

SpaceX has six launches scheduled over the next 10 days. Payloads will include 129 Starlink broadband satellites, a Crew Dragon resupply ship to ISS, two communications satellites for SES, and dozens of small satellites aboard the Transporter-8 rideshare mission.

Upcoming Launches

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayload – OrganizationPurposeLaunch Site
May 31Falcon 9 – SpaceX52 Stalink – SpaceXCommunicationsVandenberg
May 31 – June 11TBA – North KoreaTBA – North KoreaReconnaissanceSohae
June 1Falcon 9 – SpaceX21 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsCape Canaveral
June 3Falcon 9 – SpaceXCRS-28 – SpaceXISS resupplyKennedy
Moonlighter – The Aerospace Corp.Tech demo
June 5Falcon 9 – SpaceX56 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsCape Canaveral
June 8Falcon 9 – SpaceXTransporter-8 – MultipleMultipleVandenberg
June 9Falcon 9 – Space XO3b mPOWER 5 – SESCommunicationsCape Canaveral
O3b mPOWER 6 – SESCommunications
June 16Ariane 5 – ArianespaceHeinrich Hertz (H2Sat) – DLR*CommunicationsKourou
Syracuse 4B (Comsat-NG2) – DGA+Communications
* German Aerospace Center
+ French Directorate General of Armament

The 117th and final Ariane 5 launch is scheduled for June 16 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The booster has a record of 111 successes, two failures, and three partial failures since its first flight in June 2006. The first launch of its successor, Ariane 6, will occur late this year or in early 2024.

North Korea has notified Japan that it will launch a reconnaissance satellite from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station between May 31 and June 11.

Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle lifts off from New Zealand
An Electron launches two BlackSky satellites from New Zealand on March 24, 2023. Image credit: Rocket Lab.

Launches by Nation

The United States continues to lead the world by a wide margin with 42 launches, including 38 successes and four failures. SpaceX leads all providers with a record of 35 successes and one failure.

Rocket Lab has launched five times. The company aims to complete 15 launches this year, up from nine in 2022.

Orbital Launches by Nation

United States4044453.7
South Korea1011.2

The four failed American launches included three maiden flights – SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy, ABL Space Systems’ RS1, and Relativity Space’s Terran 1 – as well as the sixth launch of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. Japan’s H3 rocket also failed on its maiden launch.

China is in second place overall with 21 launches. CASC’s Long March family of boosters has flown 17 times. ExPace, i-space, Galactic Energy, and Space Pioneer have launched one time apiece.

Russia has launched eight times, India four times, and Japan twice. Europe, Israel and South Korea have conducted one flight apiece.

Launches by Company/Agency

SpaceX (USA)351361,1040
CASC* (China)17017400
Roscosmos (Russia)60660
Rocket Lab (USA)505110
ISRO (India)404420
RVSN RF+ (Russia)20220
Arianespace (Europe)10110
Galactic Energy (China)10150
ExPace (China)10140
i-space (China)10000
KARI~ (South Korea)10080
MHI^ (Japan)10110
Israel Ministry of Defence10110
Space Pioneer (China)10110
Virgin Orbit (USA)01109
ABL Space Systems (USA)01102
JAXA (Japan)01101
Relativity Space (USA)01100
Total775821,226 12
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
+ Russian Strategic Rocket Forces
~ Korea Aerospace Research Institute
^ Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have carried 1,104 of the 1,226 satellites placed into space during the first five months of 2023.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is at the top of the launcher table by a wide margin with 33 flights. China’s Long March 2C & 2D variants have launched seven times.

Launches by Booster

Launch VehicleCompany/AgencySuccessesFailuresTotal
Falcon 9SpaceX33033
Long March 2C, 2DCASC*707
ElectronRocket Lab505
Soyuz-2.1aRoscosmos, RVSN RF404
Long March 3B/ECASC*303
Falcon Heavy SpaceX202
Long March 4CCASC*202
Long March 7, 7ACASC*202
Ariane 5Arianespace101
Ceres-1Galactic Energy101
Hyperbola 1i-space101
Kuaizhou 1AExPace101
Long March 2FCASC*101
Long March 4BCASC*101
Long March 11CASC*101
Shavit 2Israel Defense Forces101
Soyuz-2.1vRVSN RF101
Tianlong-2Space Pioneer101
LauncherOneVirgin Orbit011
RS1ABL Space Systems011
Terran 1Relativity Space011
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
~ Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
+ Indian Space Research Organisation
++ Korea Aerospace Research Institute
^ Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket has launched five times, with Russia’s venerable Soyuz-2.1a close behind with four flights.

Launches by Spaceport

Florida has hosted 26 launches, with 20 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and six from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Vandenberg Space Force Base in California is in second place among American spaceports with 10 launches.

Launches by Spaceport

Cape CanaveralUSA19120
Mid-Atlantic Regional SpaceportUSA202
Pacific Spaceport Complex – AlaskaUSA011
Satish DhawanIndia404
Mahia PeninsulaNew Zealand303
NaroSouth Korea101
Europe’s SpaceportFrench Guiana101

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport has hosted two launches. SpaceX’s Starbase and the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska have each hosted a single launch.

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center leads all Chinese spaceports with 12 launches. The nation’s other three launch sites have hosted a total of nine launches.

Russia has launched five times from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, twice from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, and once from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

2 responses to “China Launches New Crew to Space Station at Start of Busy Week”

  1. Obediah Headstrong says:

    Why does the Chines spacestation looks tidy and the ISS more like a junk shop?

    • lopan says:

      ISS is old and very active. And Tiangong is a Potemkin Village. China clearly doesn’t see it as a frontier outpost, just some kind of display diorama.

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