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Launch Roundup – New Crew Arrives at ISS, Starlink Hits 5K

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 29, 2023
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Launch Roundup – New Crew Arrives at ISS, Starlink Hits 5K
NASA astronaut and Crew-7 Commander, Jasmin Moghbeli, goes for a hug with NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen after entering through the hatch following Crew-7’s arrival to the International Space Station on August 27, 2023.
Image credit: NASA.

Welcome to the Launch Roundup! In this edition, a new crew arrived at the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX has now launched more than 5,000 Starlink satellites, Rocket Lab reused an engine, weather delayed the launch of Japan’s Moon mission and an American military satellite, and there was no joy in North Korea following a recent launch failure.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Recent launches

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen of Denmark, and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa arrived safely at the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on June 27. A Falcon 9 rocket launched the international crew the previous day during what was SpaceX’s seventh operational mission to the station. They will stay aboard for six months.

The arrival of Crew-7 raised the number of astronauts on ISS to 11. Crew-6, which includes NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sulta Al Neyadi, is due to return to Earth aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft no earlier than Friday, September 1. Al Neyadi is the second Emirati to fly into orbit and the first to make a long-term stay on the ISS.

In other ISS news, Roscosmos launched the Progress MS-24 resupply to the station on August 23.

Recent Launches

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayloads – OrganizationPurpose(s)Launch Site
Aug. 23Soyuz-2.1a – RoscosmosProgress MS-24 (85P) – Roscosmos ISS resupplyBaikonur
Aug. 23Chollima-1 – NADA*Malligyong-1 F2 – NADA*Flight test/ reconnaissanceSohae
Aug. 24Electron – Rocket LabAcadia 1 – Capella SpaceEarth observationMahia
Aug. 25Ceres-1 – Galactic EnergyJilin-1 Kuanfu-02A (HKUST-Xiongbin-1) – Chang Guang Satellite TechnologyEarth observationJiuquan
Aug. 26Falcon 9 – SpaceXCrew Dragon – SpaceXISS CrewKennedy
Aug. 27Falcon 9 – SpaceX22 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsCape Canaveral
* National Aerospace Development Administration (North Korea)
Source: Wikipedia

SpaceX has now placed over 5,000 Starlink satellites into orbit with the launch of 22 more on August 27. However, fewer than 5,000 are currently operational; Jonathan McDowell reports that 4,661 satellites remain in orbit, with 4,630 still functioning.

Starlink Launches

+ Does not include two secondary payloads for other companies.
^ Includes 101 dedicated launches, two Transporter rideshare missions, and the launch of two test satellites as secondary payloads.
* Does not include 16 secondary payloads from other companies.

North Korea’s new Chollima-1 launch vehicle failed for the second time this year. Officials announced that the flight termination system on the third stage accidentally activated. The maiden launch of the rocket fell short due to the failure of its second stage on May 30.

Electron launches Capella Space's Acadia-1 satellite on August 24, 2023. Image credit: Rocket Lab.
Electron launches Capella Space’s Acadia-1 satellite on August 24, 2023. Image credit: Rocket Lab.

Rocket Lab reused a Rutherford engine for the first time when an Electron rocket launched the Acadia-1 satellite for Capella Space on August 23. CEO Peter Beck said the engine performed exactly as designed. The engine had been part of a first stage fished out of the ocean during an earlier launch.

Upcoming launches

Japan scrubbed the launch of the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission and the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite due to high winds. A new date for the launch has not been announced.

United Launch Alliance also postponed the first Atlas V launch of the year due to Hurricane Idalia, which is bearing down on Florida. No new launch date has been set yet.

Upcoming Launches

DateLauncher – OrganizationPayloads – OrganizationPurpose(s)Launch Site
TBDH-IIA — MHI+XRISM – JAXA/NASAX-ray astronomyTanegashima
SLIM – JAXALunar lander
LEV-1 – JAXALunar hopper
LEV-2 – JAXA, Tomy, Doshishma UniversityLunar rover
TBDAtlas V – ULASilent Barker — NRO^Space domain awarenessCape Canaveral
Aug. 30Long March 2D – CASCYaogan 38-01AReconnaissanceXichang
Yaogan 38-01BReconnaissance
Yaogan 38-01CReconnaissance
Aug. 31Falcon 9 – SpaceX11 Transport Layer Tranche 0 – SDA*Military communicationsVandenberg
2 Tracking Layer Tranche 0 – SDA*Missile tracking
Sept. 2PSLV – ISROAditya-L1 – ISROHeliophysicsSatish Dhawan
Sept. 4Falcon 9 – SpaceX22 Starlink – SpaceXCommunicationsKennedy
Sept. 5Ceres-1 – Galactic EnergyTianqi 21-24 – Guodian GaokeInternet of ThingsYellow Sea
+ Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
^ National Reconnaissance Office
* Space Development Agency
Source: Wikipedia

ISRO is scheduled to launch its Aditya-L1 satellite on September 2. The spacecraft will study the solar atmosphere from Lagrange Point 1 located between the Earth and Sun.  

Launches by nation

The United States has conducted 72 of the 136 launches attempted this year. Sixty-eight of the launches were successful and four failed.

Launches through August 28, 2023. Image credit: Parabolic Arc
Launches through August 28, 2023. Image credit: Parabolic Arc.

Chinese companies have launched 38 times without fail. Russia, which long led the world in this category, has conducted only a dozen times with nearly two-thirds of the year completed.

Launches by company/agency

SpaceX continues to lead the world with 60 launches that have carried more than 1,700 payloads into orbit. The company launched 61 times last year, tying a record the Soviet Union set in 1980.

Launches by Company/Agency

SpaceX (USA)591601,72412*
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)26026980
Roscosmos (Russia)808500
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)606500
Rocket Lab (USA)707190
ExPace (China)404140
Galactic Energy (China)404150
Strategic Rocket Forces (Russia)30330
Arianespace (Europe)20230
CAS Space (China)101260
Korea Aerospace Research Institute (South Korea)10071^
Northrop Grumman (USA)10140
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)02202
Relativity Space (USA)01100
* Space tug and deployment failures unrelated to launch vehicle
^ Deployment failure
+ Company defunct

Rocket Lab is the only American launch provider that has launched more than once. The company has conducted seven orbital Electron launches and the maiden flight of its HASTE suborbital rocket in 2023.

The government-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) continues to lead all Chinese providers with 26 launches. Six other Chinese companies have launched a dozen times this year.

Chinese launches through August 28, 2023. Image credit: Parabolic Arc.
Chinese launches through August 28, 2023. Image credit: Parabolic Arc.

China’s launch providers are a mixed group of government-owned and privately-held companies. It is believed that a number of the solid-fuel launchers are based on intercontinental ballistic missiles used by the Chinese military.

Chinese Launch Companies

CompanyTypeLaunch VehiclesFuelNotes
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)GovernmentLong March familyLiquid484 launches as of August 29, 2023.
ExPaceFully owned subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC)Kuaizhou 1A, Kuaizhou 11Solid
Galactic EnergyPrivateCeres 13 solid stages, hydrazine fourth stage8-0 launch record
CAS Spacepartially owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.Kinetica 1SolidTwo launches as of Aug. 29, 2023
LandSpacePrivateZhuque-1, Zhuque-2 Solid (Zhuque-1), LOX-methane (Zhuque-2)First methane rocket to reach orbit
Space PioneerPrivateTianlong-2Kerosene-LOXMaiden launch in April 2023

Launches by Booster

SpaceX leads the world with 56 Falcon 9 launches. The company also launched three Falcon Heavy rockets and one Starship/Super Heavy booster.

China’s Long March 2C and Long March 2D rockets have launched a combined 12 times. Russia’s Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b boosters have been launched nine times, followed by the seven flights of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket.

Launches by Booster

Launch VehicleCompany/AgencySuccessesFailuresTotal
Falcon 9SpaceX56056
Long March 2C, 2DChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.12012
Soyuz-2.1a, 2.1bRoscosmos, Russia Strategic Rocket Forces909
ElectronRocket Lab707
Ceres-1Galactic Energy404
Long March 3B/EChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.404
Kuaizhou 1AExPace404
Long March 4CChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.404
Falcon HeavySpaceX303
Long March 7, 7AChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.202
Ariane 5Arianespace202
LVM IIIIndian Space Research Organisation202
PSLVIndian Space Research Organisation202
AntaresNorthrop Grumman101
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
Shavit 2Israel Defense Forces101
SSLVIndian Space Research Organisation101
Soyuz-2.1vRussia Strategic Rocket Forces101
Tianlong-2^Space Pioneer101
Chollima-1^National Aerospace Development Administration022
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

Launches by Spaceport

Florida has hosted 44 launches from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Vandenberg Space Force Base in California has hosted 17 launches.

Launches by Spaceport

Launch SitesSuccessesFailuresTotal
Cape Canaveral34135
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport303
Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska011
Satish Dhawan606
Guiana Space Centre (French Guiana)202
Baikonur* (Kazakhstan)606
Mahia+ (New Zealand)505
Naro (South Korea)101
Palmchim (Israel)101
Sohae (North Korea)022
Cornwall^ (UK)011
* Spaceport leased to Russia
+ Rocket Lab Electron launches
^ Virgin Orbit launch

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center leads all Chinese spaceports with 22 launches. The nation’s other three spaceports have 16 launches combined among them.

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