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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Navy Helicopters and Air Force Pararescue Forces Conduct Astronaut Recovery Exercise

Air Force pararescue forces from the 48th rescue squadron remove a mock-astronaut from a SpaceX Dragon capsule during a validation exercise. The exercise was meant to validate the joint-capability of Navy helicopter squadrons and Air Force Guardian Angel Pararescue forces in their shared mission to recover astronauts at sea. (Credit: U.S. Space Command/Sean Castellano)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo.  (U.S. Space Command PR) –  U.S. Space Command held an exercise Aug. 1-5 at Patrick Space Force Base, Fl., in preparation for the upcoming launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5, targeted for no earlier than September 29, 2022.

As the Department of Defense’s Human Space Flight Support Manager, USSPACECOM coordinates global DoD support for the rescue and recovery of human exploration events for NASA’s Artemis and Commercial Crew Program missions.

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SpaceX to Launch 53 Starlink Satellites on Friday

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX Mission Update

SpaceX is targeting Friday, August 19 for a Falcon 9 launch of 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The instantaneous launch window is at 3:21 p.m. ET (19:21 UTC), and a backup opportunity is available on Saturday, August 20 at 2:59 p.m. ET (18:59 UTC).

The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, Nilesat 301, and three Starlink missions. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth and land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

You can watch the live launch webcast starting about 5 minutes before liftoff. 

D-Orbit Announces Multi-Year Launch and Deployment Contract with Swiss Satellite Internet of Things (IoT) Network Operator Astrocast

The agreement covers the launch and deployment of 20 satellites, which are part of Astrocast’s growing constellation for the Internet of Things, over a three-year time span.

FINO Mornasco, Italy, August 9, 2022 (D-Orbit PR) — D-Orbit, a space logistics company, announced today the signing of a multiple launch and deployment contract with Astrocast, a leading Swiss IoT-focused nanosatellite company.

According to the agreement, D-Orbit will launch twenty of Astrocast’s satellites aboard ION Satellite Carrier, D-Orbit’s versatile and cost-effective orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) designed to precisely deploy satellites and perform technology demonstrations of third-party payloads in orbit. The satellites, which will join Astrocast’s constellation of satellites for the Internet of things (IoT), will be delivered to space over a period of three years, through multiple missions.

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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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What’s Next: The Future of NASA’s Laser Communications

Illustration of ILLUMA-T communicating science and exploration data from the International Space Station to LCRD. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Dave Ryan)

By Kendall Murphy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA uses lasers to send information to and from Earth, employing invisible beams to traverse the skies, sending terabytes of data – pictures and videos – to increase our knowledge of the universe. This capability is known as laser, or optical, communications, even though these eye-safe, infrared beams can’t be seen by human eyes.

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Masten Gets $4.5 Million Bid for Assets from Astrobotic Technology

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

Updated 8/12/2022 at 12:02 p.m. EDT with information about launch credit with SpaceX.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Astrobotic Technology has made an initial bid of $4.5 million to acquire the assets of Masten Space Systems, which sought protection from creditors last month by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bid will serve as a minimum during the subsequent auction of Masten’s assets.

Astrobotic has also agreed to provide Masten with a $1.4 million debtor in possession (DIP) loan to allow the company to function as it works through bankruptcy.

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Firefly Eyes Mid-September Launch for Second Alpha Mission

Second Firefly Alpha rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I’ve been making the rounds in the Utah State University Fieldhouse here in Logan talking with the various companies with booths at Small Satellite 2022 conference. Here is the first of several updates.

The window for Firefly Aerospace’s second attempt to launch its Alpha booster opens on Sept. 11. That flight will be out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The rocket is already on the launch pad at Vandenberg undergoing pre-flight tests.

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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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Masten Space Systems Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander was designed science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

Updated 7/29/2022, 1:24 p.m. PDT: Added statements from NASA and Masten Space Systems. Clarified contract award included paying for launch.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Masten Space Systems filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, signaling serious financial distress at the pioneering NewSpace company and putting at risk a NASA-funded mission to send a Masten-built lander to the surface of the moon.

The company said it owed 50 to 99 creditors between $10 to $50 million. Top creditors included SpaceX ($4.6 million), Psionic LLC ($2.8 million), Astrobotic Technology ($2.7 million), NuSpace ($1.7 million), and Frontier Aerospace ($1.2 million).

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Commercial Space Travelers Outnumbered Professional Astronauts in First Half of 2022

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts, left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael López-Alegría, and Eytan Stibbe. The astronauts are approved by NASA and its international partners for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: Chris Gunn – Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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ispace Lunar Lander Selected to Deliver NASA CLPS Payloads to the Far Side of the Moon

ispace U.S.’s SERIES-2 Lander Will Deploy Two Communications Relay Satellitesto Support Far Side Landing

TOKYO (space, inc. PR) — ispace, inc.(ispace) today announced that its subsidiary, ispace technologies U.S., inc. (ispace U.S.) joins a team, led by Draper, that has been awarded $73 million to deliver payloads including two communication relay satellites to lunar orbit as well as a suite of scientific experiments to the lunar surface.

Team Draper, which includes ispace U.S., as well as General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, and Systima Technologies, a division of Karman Space & Defense, expects to launch and begin operations on the lunar surface in 2025 in fulfillment of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) task order CP-12.

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SpaceX Launches 53 Starlink Satellites in Second Flight in Two Days

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 24, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launches a fresh batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the company’s second launch of Starlink satellites in two days after a Falcon 9 placed 46 satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

It was SpaceX’s sixth launch of July and 20th dedicated Starlink flight of 2022. Elon Musk’s company has launched a record 33 times since Jan. 1 with more than five months left in the year. The company has orbited just under 1,250 payloads.

SpaceX Launches
January – July 24, 2022

SpacecraftSatellite Type(s)Customer(s)Number of LaunchesSatellites/ Payloads/Crew
StarlinkBroadbandSpaceX201,013
Transporter-3, -4, -5Multiple RideshareMultiple3204
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space22
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space–*8
Cargo Dragon 2ISS ResupplyNASA11
BeaverCube, CapSat-1, CLICK A, D3, JAGSAT, TUMnanoSatTechnology Demonstration, EducationERAU Daytona Beach, MIT, The Weiss School, University of South Alabama, Technical University of Moldova–^6
Globalstar FM15, Nilesat-301, SES-22Commercial CommunicationsGlobalstar, Nilesat, SES33
USA-328, 329, 330, 331UnknownU.S. Department of Defense+4
NROL-87, Intruder 13A, Intruder 13BReconnaissance, Electronic IntelligenceNational Reconnaissance Office23
SARah-1ReconnaissanceBundeswehr (German Military)11
COSMO-SkyMed 2nd-generationEarth Observation (civilian/military)Italian Space Agency11
331,246
* 8 astronauts launched on Crew-4 and Ax-1 missions
^ 6 CubeSats flown on Cargo Dragon 2 to be deployed from ISS
+ Secondary payloads on Globalstar FM15 launch

SpaceX has launched 1,013 Starlink satellites this year and 2,911 spacecraft overall, with 2,620 satellites still working.