In this week’s Launch Roundup, SpaceX kicked off July by sending the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Euclid space telescope into space on Saturday, July 1. Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket is set to fly for for the final time later today, July 5. The two launches illustrated the problem Europe is having with launching spacecraft this year.
Some time next week, SpaceX will debut the most powerful rocket ever built, the fully-reusable Starship/Super Heavy behemoth that could provide routine, affordable and safe access to space for the first time in human history. In the meantime, ESA will launch an ambitious mission to study three of Jupiter’s moons that contain subsurface oceans.
WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) CEO reaffirmed a May 2023 flight date for the maiden flight of the company’s new rocket; SpaceX and Rocket Lab officials laid out plans for record launch years; and a Blue Origin executive said Jeff Bezos’ company might never reveal what caused one of its rockets to explode last year.
When Shri S. Somanath assumed the chairmanship of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) last January, he took over a space agency that had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. ISRO conducted only four launches in 2020-21, one of which failed. The pandemic had wrecked an ambitious plan to launch Indian astronauts into orbit before the 75th anniversary of the nation’s independence from Britain in August 2022.
During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.
Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.
A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.
On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.
There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.
Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.
The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.
– The Ariane 5, operated by Arianespace, has successfully placed two telecommunications satellites into geostationary orbit: MEASAT-3d for the Malaysian operator MEASAT, and GSAT-24 built by the Indian Space Agency ISRO on behalf of NSIL. – Carrying out its first mission of the year, and the 113th overall, Ariane 5 once again demonstrates its exceptional reliability. – Mission VA257 will improve broadband coverage in the Asia-Pacific region and represents another commercial success for Ariane 5 in the Asia-Pacific market.
KOUROU, French Guiana, June 22, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — On Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 06:50 pm local time, an Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America), successfully orbiting two geostationary telecommunication satellites, MEASAT-3d and GSAT-24.