Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Launch Roundup – SpaceX Falcon Heavy Set to Launch Massive Comsat

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 25, 2023
Filed under , , ,
Launch Roundup – SpaceX Falcon Heavy Set to Launch Massive Comsat
Falcon Heavy launches in January 2023.
Image credit: SpaceX webcast.

Welcome to this week’s Launch Roundup! SpaceX is gearing up to launch the largest geosynchronous communications satellite in history, Northrop Grumman’s Antares (version 2) rocket is set to roar off into the sunset, and India will conduct a commercial mission. Plus, all the launch activity from the past week and global stats for the year.

Upcoming Launches

SpaceX’s third Falcon Heavy launch is scheduled for Thursday, July 27. The booster will carry EchoStar’s Jupiter-3 (EchoStar-24) communications satellite, which weighs in at over 9,000 kg (198,416 lb). It will be the largest communication satellite ever launched to geostationary orbit.

Jupiter-3, which was built by Maxar Technologies, will support Internet connectivity across North and South America, in-flight Wi-Fi, community Wi-Fi services, maritime connections, enterprise networks, and backhaul for mobile network operators.

SpaceX had planned to conduct the first dual first-stage landings on offshore drone ships. The company switched to landing the boosters on concrete pads at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Upcoming Launches

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayloads – OrganizationPurpose(s)Launch Site
July 26Long March 2D – CASCTBATBAXichang
July 27Falcon HeavyJupiter-3 (EchoSta-24) – EchoStarCommunicationsKennedy
July 28Falcon 922 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsCape Canaveral
July 28ElectronAcadia 1 – Capella SpaceEarth observationMahia
July 30PSLV – ISRODS-SAR – DSTA*Earth observationSatish Dhawan
ARCADE – NTU+Ionospheric research
Galassia-2 – NUS^Tech demo
NuLIon – NuSpaceInternet of Things
ORB-12 STRIDER – OrbAstroTech demo
SCOOB-II – NTU+Tech demo
Velox-AM – NTU+Tech demo
Aug. 1Antares – Northrop GrummanCygnus NG-19 – Northrup GrummanISS ResupplyMARS~
DUPLEX – CU AerospaceTech demo
SeaLion (VSCP-1A) – ODU**/USCGA++Communications
Ut ProSat-1 (VSCP-1B) – Virginia TechCommunications
* Defence Science and Technology Agency (Singapore)
+ Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
^ National University of Singapore
~ Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
** Old Dominion University
++ U.S. Coast Guard Academy
Source: Wikipedia

Northrop Grumman is set to launch a Cygnus resupply ship to the International Space Station on August 1. It will be the final launch of the second version of the Antares rocket.

The first version of Antares was developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation to launch Cygnus resupply ships to ISS. (Orbital Sciences later became Orbital ATK through a merger. Orbital ATK was later bought by Northrop Grumman.)

When it first flew in April 2013, Antares featured a Ukrainian first stage powered by repurposed NK-33 engines left over from the Soviet Union’s manned lunar program. (Aerojet Rocketdyne renamed AJ-26 when the company imported them.

The engines were seen as a temporary solution, and Orbital Sciences was already seeking a replacement engine when an AJ-26 exploded shortly after Antares lifted off on Oct. 28, 2014. The spectacular nighttime explosion grounded the rocket and sped up the replacement effort.

The Antares first stage was refitted with two Russian RD-181 engines. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 cut off Northrop Grumman’s supply of first stages. Russia stopped shipping the RD-181 engines after the U.S. imposed sanctions over the invasion.

Northrop Grumman has contracted with Firefly Aerospace to supply a new first stage powered by seven Miranda engines. The maiden launch is scheduled for the second half of 2024. In the meantime, Northrop Grumman will pay SpaceX to launch Cygnus cargo ships to the space station on Falcon 9s.

PSLV launch in April 2022
A PSLV rocket launches the TeLEOS-2 and Lumelite-4 satellites into orbit on April 22, 2023. Image credit: ISRO.

Other Launches

India’s upcoming PSLV launch is a commercial mission for Singapore. DS-SAR is a synthetic aperture radar satellite for Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency. There are also five CubeSats aboard from Singapore and one for British satellite manufacturer OrbAstro.

Rocket Lab is scheduled to conduct its seventh orbital launch of the year when an Electron booster places Capella Space’s Acadia 1 satellite into orbit from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Electron launches from New Zealand on July 17, 2023
Electron launch on July 17, 2023. Image credit: Rocket Lab.

Recent Launches

SpaceX launched 37 Starlink broadband satellites on two different Falcon 9 rockets. There are fewer spacecraft on each launch because the Starlink V2 Mini spacecraft are much larger and more capable than the version 1 and version 1.5 satellites the company previously launched. Falcon 9 originally carried 60 satellites at a time.

Starlink Launches

+ Does not include two secondary payloads for other companies.
* Does not include 16 secondary payloads from other companies.

China ramped up its launches in the past week with three flights that carried 10 satellites into orbit. China, which is aiming to launch more than 60 times this year, has 30 launches under its belt.

Recent Launches

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayloads – OrganizationPurpose(s)Launch Site
July 20Kuaizhou 1A – ExPaceTianmu-1 07-10 – Xiyong MicroelectronicsCommunicationsJiuquan
July 20Falcon 9 – SpaceX15 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsVandenberg
July 22Ceres – Galactic EnergyQiankun-1 – CspaceTech demoJiuquan
Xingshidai-16 – ADASpaceEarth observation
July 23Long March 2D – CASC*Lingxi-03 – Galaxy SpaceCommunicationsTaiyuan
Skysight AS-01 – SkysightEarth observation
Skysight AS-02 – SkysightEarth observation
Skysight AS-03 – SkysightEarth observation
July 24Falcon 9 – SpaceX22 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsCape Canaveral
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
Source: Wikipedia

Launches by Nation

The United States continues to lead the world, conducting 60 of the 111 launches so far this year. The US has a record of 56 successes and four failures.

Global launches through July 24 2023
Global launches through July 24, 2023. Image credit: Parabolic Arc.

China is in second place with 30 successful launches. Russia is a distant third with nine launches, followed by India with five and Europe and Japan with two apiece.

Launches by Company/Agency

SpaceX has now hit 50 launches, half the 100 that CEO Elon Musk said the company was aiming for by the end of the year. Twenty-seven launches have been dedicated to placing Starlink satellites into orbit.

Launches by Company/Agency

SpaceX (USA)491501,57212*
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation21021910
Roscosmos (Russia)707490
Rocket Lab (USA)606180
Indian Space Research Organisation505430
Strategic Rocket Forces (Russia)20220
Arianespace (Europe)20230
ExPace (China)30390
CAS Space (China)101260
Galactic Energy (China)20270
Korea Aerospace Research Institute (South Korea)10071^
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan)10110
Israel Aerospace Industries10110
Space Pioneer (China)10110
United Launch Alliance (USA)10110
i-space (China)10100
LandSpace (China)10100
Virgin Orbit+ (USA)01109
ABL Space Systems (USA)01102
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency01101
National Aerospace Development Administration (North Korea)01101
Relativity Space (USA)01100
* Space tug and deployment failures unrelated to launch vehicle
^ Deployment failure
+ Company defunct

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is in second place with 21 launches that have placed 91 payloads into orbit. Russia’s Roscosmos has launched seven times, with Rocket Lab close behind with six successful flights.

Launches by Booster

Launch VehicleCompany/AgencySuccessesFailuresTotal
Falcon 9SpaceX47047
Long March 2C, 2DChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.10010
ElectronRocket Lab606
Soyuz-2.1a, 2.1bRoscosmos, Russia Strategic Rocket Forces505
Long March 3B/EChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.303
Kuaizhou 1AExPace303
Falcon Heavy SpaceX202
Long March 4CChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.202
Long March 7, 7AChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.202
Ariane 5Arianespace202
LVM IIIIndian Space Research Organisation202
Ceres-1Galactic Energy202
Delta IV HeavyUnited Launch Alliance101
GSLV Mk IIIndian Space Research Organisation101
H-IIAMitsubishi Heavy Industries101
Hyperbola 1i-space101
Long March 2FChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.101
Long March 4BChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.101
Long March 6China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.101
Long March 11China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.101
NuriKorea Aerospace Research Institute101
PSLVIndian Space Research Organisation101
Shavit 2Israel Defense Forces101
SSLVIndian Space Research Organisation101
Soyuz-2.1vRussia Strategic Rocket Forces101
Tianlong-2^Space Pioneer101
Chollima-1^National Aerospace Development Administration011
H3^Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency011
LauncherOne*Virgin Orbit+011
RS1^ABL Space Systems011
Starship/Super Heavy^SpaceX011
Terran 1*^Relativity Space011
^ Maiden flight
* Launch vehicle retired
+ Company defunct

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the most flown booster in the world with 47 successful flights and no failures. China’s Long March 2C and 2D rockets have combined for 10 launches.

Launches by Spaceport

Florida remains the busiest launch site in the world with 30 launches from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and seven from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Vandenberg Space Force Base is in second place among US spaceports with 14 launches.

Launches by Spaceport

Cape CanaveralUSA29130
Mahia PeninsulaNew Zealand404
Mid-Atlantic Regional SpaceportUSA202
Pacific Spaceport Complex – AlaskaUSA011
Satish DhawanIndia505
Guiana Space CentreFrench Guiana202
NaroSouth Korea101
SohaeNorth Korea011

China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is the second-most-used spaceport with 18 launches. China’s other three launch centers have hosted a combined 12 flights.

Leave a Reply