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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SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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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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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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Japan Conducts Tests on H3 Rocket’s LE-9 Engine to Address Instability Issues

LE-9 engine (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — We are pleased to inform you that the combustion test (blade vibration measurement test) of the LE-9 engine currently under development by JAXA as the first stage liquid fuel engine of the H3 rocket will be conducted as follows.

The LE-9 engine is considering multiple proposals in parallel as countermeasures to the problems that occurred in the past tests, and this test is to verify to narrow down the countermeasure proposals.

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Japan Postpones Maiden Flight of H3 Launch Vehicle Due to Turbopump Redesign

H-III launch vehicle variants (Credit: JAXA)

Translated from Japanese by Google Translate

TOKYO, January 21, 2022 (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is currently developing a new core rocket, the H3 rocket.

Although we have a certain prospect of responding to the technical issues confirmed in the LE-9 engine newly developed for the first stage engine of this H3 rocket, in order to ensure a reliable launch, we have decided not to launch a test flight in 2021.

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Space BD Raises $9 Million Funding Round

  • Fundraising led by all existing shareholders and new Singapore government-affiliated institutional investor
  • Adding SpaceX Falcon 9 to expanded launch method offerings and strengthening recruitment & organizational capability

TOKYO — Space BD, a leading Japanese space startup, announces that it has raised a total of 1.04 billion JPY [US $9.1 million] through a third-party allotment of new shares to the existing shareholders Incubate Fund, ANNIVERSAIRE HOLDINGS, SMBC Venture Capital, Mizuho Capital, and the new shareholder Pavilion Capital, wholly owned by Temasek Holdings, a Singapore government-affiliated investment company.

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Space BD to Offer Global Launch Opportunities; 1st Launch is Scheduled for October 2022

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD, a leading Japanese space startup, announces that in the launch service business, one of its core businesses, Space BD starts handling global launch methods in addition to the traditional Japanese launch methods. As the first launch, Space BD has reserved space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for October 2022. The company aims to respond to the rapidly increasing demands which are also diversifying and provide optimum solutions to access to space for every user by expanding the variety of launch methods.

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Launch 2020: A Year of Transition for Japan

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe took off at 2:58 p.m. PDT on July 19 from a launch site in Japan, headed for Mars to study its atmosphere. (Credit: MHI Launch Services via YouTube)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Space BD & ALE Sign Letter of Intent for Orbital Debris Prevention Utilizing ElectroDynamic Tethers

Space debris prevention component utilizing EDT. (Credit: Space BD)
  • Letter of intent signed in anticipation of sales agency agreement
  • The first step towards the social implementation of a device developed with the aim to create a sustainable space environment

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3”, and ALE, with the mission to make space closer for people announced that they concluded a Letter of Intent (LOI) on 26th August 2020 towards a global Sales Agency Agreement for the space debris prevention component utilizing ElectroDynamic Tether (EDT).

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Space BD Selected as Sole Official Service Provider for Nanosatellite Deployment on First HTV-X Mission

HTV-X cargo ship. (Credit; JAXA)

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3”, announced that they were selected by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as an exclusive service provider for nanosatellite deployment from the first HTV-X, which is Japanese next-generation ISS resupply vehicle.

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JAXA Delays H3 Rocket’s Maiden Flight

H-III launch vehicle variants (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been pressing forward with the development of the H3 Launch Vehicle. In the process, a technical problem was identified regarding the LE-9 first-stage engine, which is a new engine now under development.

In order to address the problem in an appropriate manner, JAXA has decided to postpone the launch of the first test flight from the Japanese fiscal year (JFY) 2020 to JFY 2021 and that of the second test flight from JFY 2021 to JFY 2022. [Editor’s Note: The 2020 fiscal year ends on March 31.]

JAXA will deal with the LE-9 engine-related problem in an appropriate manner and make an all-out effort for the successful launch of the H3 as a new Japan’s mainstay rocket.