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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The Best Laid Plans, Moscow Edition: Ukraine Invasion Damages Russia’s Launch Business

Soyuz-2 rocket launches a military satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ambitious launch schedules typically go awry when a rocket suffers a catastrophic failure that takes months to investigate and implement modifications to ensure the same accident doesn’t happen again. In the majority of cases, the failures involve a machine launching a machine. All that can be replaced, albeit at substantial cost.

Russia’s ambitious launch plans for 2022 fell apart due to a far more momentous and deadly action: the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision ruptured cooperation with the West on virtually every space project on which it was safe to do so. The main exception was the International Space Station (ISS), a program involving astronauts and cosmonauts that would be difficult to operate safely if Russia suddenly withdrew (as it indeed threatened to do).

Due to the invasion, Western partners canceled seven launches of foreign payloads in less than a month. The cancellations put Russia even further behind the United States and China in launch totals this year.

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The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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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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Isar Aerospace selected to be first privately-funded launch services company flying satellites from Guiana Space Centre

Spectrum rocket (Credit: Isar Aerospace)
  • Isar Aerospace has been selected by French Space Agency CNES to fly satellites from equatorial Guiana Space Centre (CSG)
  • By securing yet another launch site in Europe, Isar Aerospace gains even more flexibility for its customers and adds an important pillar for future growth
  • Opening of CSG for high frequency launches essential to serve growing global market for satellite launches

MUNICH, 21 July 2022 (Isar Aerospace PR) – Isar Aerospace, Europe’s leading and most well-funded private European launch service provider for small and medium satellite deployment, today announced that it has been selected by the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales) to operate its rockets at the Diamant site of CSG (Centre Spatial Guyanais) in French Guiana. In the course of the open call of CNES, Isar Aerospace has signed a binding term sheet that lays the foundation to conduct commercial and institutional launch operations at CSG from 2024 onwards.

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Following the Success of the Inaugural flight, Arianespace to Start Operations of Vega C with Seven Launchers Already Sold

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Following the success of its inaugural flight, Vega C will now begin its operational phase, under the responsibility of Arianespace, with a target of at least four launches per year and a fast-growing backlog that already includes 7 launches and 10 auxiliary payloads.
  • Vega C is an upgrade to the Vega launcher and can better answer institutional and commercial customers’ needs. Thanks to its increased capabilities, Vega C will serve the burgeoning Earth observation market as well as long-term institutional and commercial needs.
  • The first commercial launch of Vega C is scheduled in November 2022. The flight, designated VV22, will deliver Pléiades Neo 5 and 6, a pair of satellites wholly funded, manufactured and operated by Airbus.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Wednesday, July 13 at 10:13 am local time in Kourou, French Guiana, the first Vega C, the new European launcher designed and manufactured by AVIO, was successfully launched under the supervision of ESA from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).

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How to Watch the First Vega-C Launch on July 13

Vega C launch vehicle (Credit: ESA)

ESA Mission Update

ESA’s new medium-lift Vega-C rocket is nearly ready for its inaugural flight. You can follow live on ESA Web TV. Flight VV21 will lift off as soon as 13 July at 13:13 CEST, pending suitable conditions for launch.

    Broadcast begins 12:45 CEST/11:45 BST [6:45 a.m. EDT/10:45 UTC] on ESA Web TV

    13:13 CEST/12:13 BST [7:13 a.m. EDT/11:13 UTC] – liftoff

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Vega-C Set for Inaugural Launch Next Week

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s new medium-lift Vega-C rocket is nearly ready for its inaugural flight, with its four stages stacked stages and ready to receive the payload fairing before final checks and launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. 

Flight VV21 will lift off as soon as 13 July, pending suitable conditions for launch.

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First Ariane 5 Launch of 2022 Orbits Satellites for MEASAT and NSIL

Ariane 5 launches on June 22, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

– 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.

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Vega-C Set for Inaugural Launch in July

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s new medium-lift Vega-C rocket is nearly ready for its inaugural flight, with its four fully-stacked stages now ready for payload integration, final checks and launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. 

Flight VV21 will lift off as soon as 7 July, pending suitable conditions for launch.

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Vega-C: Launcher Integration Begins for Inaugural Flight VV21

The Vega-C Interstage 1/2 has now been transferred to and integrated at the Vega Launch Zone (Zone de Lancement Vega) ZLV at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 22 April 2022. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique video du CSG/P Baudon)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Launcher integration for the inaugural flight of Vega-C began with the P120C solid-fuel first stage being delivered to the Vega Launch Zone (Zone de Lancement Vega, or ZLV) at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 15 April 2022. P120C will also fly on Ariane 6, with two or four units serving as boosters depending on mission requirements.

The interstage segment to join the P120C first stage with the Z40 second stage followed on the 22nd.

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ESA Books Ride for Sentinel-1C Satellite on Vega-C After Russian Soyuz Rocket Becomes Unavailable

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A contract signed with Arianespace secures the launch for the third Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite. Scheduled to lift off on ESA’s new Vega-C rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana in the first half of 2023, Sentinel-1C will continue the critical task of delivering key radar imagery for a wide range of services, applications and science – all of which benefit society.

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ESA-developed P120C Solid Rocket Motor Enters Production

The P120C full-scale model solid rocket motor for Ariane 6 and Vega-C, filled with 142 tonnes of inert propellant, is prepared for further integration with other structures. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Ariane 6 and Vega-C will soon join the family of launch vehicles operating from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to guarantee more opportunities for Europe to reach space. The P120C motor, which will power both Ariane 6 and Vega-C, will soon come into operations with the Vega-C inaugural flight.

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Ariane 6, Vega-C, Microlaunchers: ESA Looks to Full Range of Launch Options for European Institutional Missions

Artist’s view of Ariane 6 and Vega-C. (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher today underscored the Agency’s determination to ensure that ESA’s work in space is not derailed by the tragic events in Ukraine. Mr Aschbacher stresses that work continues to assess the impact on each ongoing programme, including on missions affected by Roscosmos’ withdrawal of Soyuz launch operations from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

In addition, ESA is preparing proposals that, if endorsed by its Member States, will further support European microlauncher services to complement the Ariane and Vega programmes, which form the backbone of Europe’s space transportation capability.

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