The Week Ahead: Virgin Orbit, ABL Space, SpaceX and Chinese Launches Scheduled

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

While the first week of 2023 saw only one launch worldwide, things will get a lot busier in week 2. Virgin Orbit is set to conduct its first launch from the UK, ABL Space hopes to launch its first rocket ever, and SpaceX and China have three launches apiece on their manifests.

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The Upcoming Week in Launches: Artemis I and Some Other Ones

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

The Wikipedia orbital launch page lists six launches to close out August. The big one, of course, is NASA’s Artemis I mission next Monday. The others, not so momentous but still worth listing.

Disclaimer: This schedule is subject to change without notice. Parabolic Arc takes no responsibility for delays, changes, additions or what have you. And, as always, no wagering.

Tuesday, August 23

Launch Vehicle: Long March 11
Launch Site: Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)
Payload: TBA

Wednesday, August 24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D 
Launch Site: Taiyuan Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: CASC
Payload: TBA

Saturday, August 27

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Vandenberg Space Force Base
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 46 Starlink broadband satellites
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Sunday, August 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 53 Starlink broadband satellites
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Monday, August 29

Launch Vehicle: Space Launch System Block 1
Launch Site: Kennedy LC-39B
Launch Window: 8:33-10:33 a.m. EDT (12:33-14:33 UTC)
Launching Agency: NASA
Payloads: Orion spacecraft and 10 secondary payloads
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Artemis I Secondary Payloads

SatelliteOrganizationOrbitPurpose
ArgoMoonItalian Space AgencyHeliocentricSpacecraft will demonstrate capacity of CubeSats to conduct precise maneuvers in deep space by providing detailed images of the SLS’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage 
BioSentinelNASAHeliocentricSpacecraft will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair
CuSP NASAHeliocentricSpace weather measurements
EQUULEUSUniversity of TokyoEarth-moon L26U CubeSat will measure the distribution of plasma around Earth
LunaH-MapNASASelenocentricLunar polar orbiter will search for evidence of frozen water deposits
Lunar IceCubeNASASelenocentricLunar orbiter will search for frozen water deposits
LunIRLockheed Martin SpaceHeliocentricDemonstration technology to collect surface spectroscopy and thermography
Near-Earth Asteroid ScoutNASAHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of solar sail to rendezvous with asteroid
OMOTENASHIJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)SelenocentricSmallest vehicle to attempt lunar lander
Team MilesFluid and Reason, LLCHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of plasma thrusters

Late August       

Launch Vehicle: Kuaizhou 1A
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: ExPace
Payloads: Centispace-1 S3 and Centispace-1 S4 navigation satellites

The Past Week in Launches: SpaceX and CASC Orbit Satellites

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on Aug. 19, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a relatively quiet week for launches with by SpaceX and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) both conducting one flight apiece.

SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Friday. The company has launched 3,108 Starlink satellites with 2,809 spacecraft working, according to Jonathan’s Space Report.

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The Past Week in Launches: SpaceX & China Launch Twice, a Soyuz Rideshare and India Falls Short

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle lifts off on maiden flight. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the past week, SpaceX launched 98 Starlink satellites, a Chinese commercial launch provider made it three in a row, Russia launched a rideshare mission with an Iranian satellite aboard, and India’s new small satellite launcher fell just short of orbit.

There have been 103 orbital launches worldwide, with 99 successes and four failures.

Let’s take a closer look at the last week in launch.

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Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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China to Launch New Crew to Space Station on Sunday

Astronauts Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang. (Credit: CASC)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — On June 4, the press conference of the Shenzhou 14 manned flight mission announced that, after the research and decision of the General Headquarters of the space station phase flight mission, the aim was to use the Long March 2F carrier rocket to launch the Shenzhou 14 at 10:44 [02:44 UTC Sunday/10:44 p.m. EDT on Saturday] on June 5. The three astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe will carry out the Shenzhou 14 manned mission, with Chen Dong as the commander.

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China Launches Communications & Technology Demonstration Satellites

Kuaizhou-1A rocket lifts off on Nov. 25, 2021. (Credit: CASIC)

China placed communications and technology demonstration satellites into orbit in separate launches on Thursday and Friday. The successful missions marked the 46th and 47th launches by China in 2021, with 45 successes and two failures.

On Friday, a Long March 3B rocket launched the ChinaSat-1D communications satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The geosynchronous satellite will be used for military communications.

The spacecraft and the launch vehicle were build by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

On Thursday, a Kuaizhou-1A solid-fuel booster launched the Shiyan 11 satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The rocket’s builder, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., did not disclose the purpose of the technology demonstration spacecraft.

The Kuaizhou-1A small-satellite launcher has a record of 12 successes and one failure.

China Launches Tianzhou-3 Supply Ship to Space Station

Launch of the Long March 7 rocket. (Credit: Su Dong)

WENCHANG, China (CASC PR) — At 15:10 on September 20th, on the eve of the Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, the Long March 7 carrier rocket soared into the sky and successfully lifted the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft to the sky with the “Mid-Autumn Gift Package” from the motherland. The spacecraft was placed into an accurate orbit.

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Long March 2D Launches Remote Sensing Satellite, 3 Secondary Payloads

Long March 2D rocket launches from Taiyuan on June 11, 2021. (Credit: CASC)

TAIYUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CASC PR) — On June 11 at 11:03 a.m., the Long March 2D carrier rocket launched the Beijing 3 satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The booster also carried three secondary satellites: Haisi 2, Wangwang 1 and Tianjian Space Test No. 1. All four satellites entered the planned orbit, and the launch was a complete success.

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Tianzhou-2 Cargo Ship Docks with Chinese Space Station Core Module

BEIJING (CASC PR) — The Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Group Co., Ltd. successfully completed its orbital state after it entered orbit. At 5:01 a.m. on May 30, it used the autonomous rapid rendezvous and docking mode to accurately dock in the Tianhe core module. Backward port, the whole process lasted about 8 hours.

Tianzhou-2 carried astronauts’ living supplies, extravehicular space suits and space station platform equipment, application loads and propellants, etc., after completing rendezvous and docking with the Tianhe core module, it will be transferred to the combined flight phase, and the propellant will be carried out as planned. Supplementary and space application project equipment testing and other work.

So far, the second leg of the “relay race” of the China Space Station’s orbit construction has performed perfectly!

Back in time a few hours ago, the Long March 7 carrier rocket soared into the sky and steadily sent the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft into its intended orbit.

China Launches Resupply Ship to Tianhe Space Station

Long March 7 rocket launches with Tianzhou-2 cargo ship. (Credit: Tu Haichao)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — At 8:55 p.m. on May 29th, at China’s Wenchang Space Launch Site, the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft carrying about 6.8 metric tons of materials was launched to the Tianhe space station by the Long March-7 carrier rocket. Tianzhou-2 is carrying the daily necessities needed by astronauts , materials for conducting space science experiments, and the propellant used to refuel the space station.

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China’s Space Station Core Completes Functional Tests, Cargo Ship Rocket Rolled Out for May 20 Launch

Long March 7 with the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship is rolled out to the launch pad. (Credit: CASC)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — The space station Tianhe core module, which was launched into orbit on April 29, has recently completed functional tests of rendezvous and docking, astronaut residency, robotic arms and other platforms, as well as space application project equipment on-orbit performance checks. All functions are normal and operating in good condition. Tianhe has entered the orbit of rendezvous and docking, and preparations for the rendezvous and docking with the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft will continue.

On May 16, the combination of the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft and the Long March-7 Yaosan launch vehicle developed was transferred to the launch area.

At present, the facilities and equipment at the launch site are in good condition, and various functional inspections and joint tests before launch will be carried out as planned.

The spacecraft used in our country’s space station project, Tianzhou cargo spacecraft, Shenzhou manned spacecraft, and the Long March series of carrier rockets used for launch were developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).