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.
NASA will received a sample from one asteroid and launch a mission to another, ESA will send a probe to study Jupiter and its icy moons, and multiple space telescopes are on launch manifests this year.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a private company named Vyom Space Exploration and Services Private Ld. that says it is developing a reusable capsule that will transport cargo and eventually astronauts to and from space.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Honorable Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh Ji dedicated ISRO System for Safe & Sustainable Operations Management (IS4OM) to the nation in Bengaluru. Chairman, ISRO Shri S. Somanath, Former chairmen Dr. Radhakrishnan, Shri Kiran Kumar and Dr. Sivan graced the occasion.
IS4OM is ISRO’s holistic approach to ensure the safety of our space assets and thus, sustains the utilization of outer space for national development. In response to ever-growing space object population and the risk of collisions in space, it undertakes observation and monitoring of space objects and space environment, processing the observations for orbit determination, object characterization and cataloging, analysis of space environment evolution, risk assessment and mitigation, and, data exchange and collaboration.
The system safeguards all Indian Space assets by mitigating the collisional threats from space objects through specific orbit maneuvers and complying to international guidelines on post mission disposal and satellite’s end-of-life operations.
– 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.
BEIJING (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs PR) — On May 25, the 1st meeting of the BRICS Joint Committee on Space Cooperation was successfully held virtually, marking the official establishment of the BRICS Joint Committee on Space Cooperation and opening the new chapter for joint observation and data sharing cooperation of BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation (RSSC).
Mr. ZHANG Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), served as the chairman of the Joint Committee this year. Mr. Carlos Augusto Teixeira de Moura, President of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Mr. Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the State Space Corporation “Roscosmos”(ROSCOSMOS), Mr. Somanath S. , Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, and Mr. Hendrik Burger, Representative of the South African National Space Agency, attended the meeting.
SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — ISRO successfully completed the static test of a human-rated solid rocket booster (HS200) for the Gaganyaan Programme at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on May 13, 2022, at 7:20 AM local time. HS200 rocket booster is the human-rated version of the well-proven S200 rocket booster of GSLV Mk III satellite launch vehicle, popularly known as LVM3. The successful completion of this test marks a major milestone for the prestigious human space flight mission of ISRO, the Gaganyaan, as the first stage of the launch vehicle is tested for its performance for the full duration.
Indian media are reporting that a partnership of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and L&T consortium submitted the winning bid to manufacture five Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) privatizes key elements of the nation’s space program. BusinessToday.Inreports:
“The company is the lead partner with L&T sharing the work. Other vendors too will be involved with the consortium in the manufacturing of the launch vehicles (LVs). However, the contract is yet to be formalised/ awarded,” HAL said in a statement.
This will be the first time that the industry will build a LV and will pave the way for commercialisation of other LVs, including the small satellite launch vehicle.
“ISRO’s commercial arm, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) had floated a request for proposal for the said work in December, 2020,” HAL added.
The first rocket is expected to be realised sometime during the second half of 2024 and the balance four rockets will be delivered during 2025 and 2026 at two rockets per year.
India has taken a number of legal steps to privatize the nation’s government-run space program. Legal and regulatory changes have been undertaken, and private Indian space companies have signed agreements giving them access to ISRO facilities for testing purposes.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India (ISRO PR) — SFO Technologies, Thiruvananthapuram and Hical Technologies, Bengaluru realized and delivered flight grade RF systems and Electromechanical Actuators, respectively, at the Government-owned Company-operated (GOCO) facilities at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Firms handed over the modules to ISRO Chairman Shri S. Somanath in a function held last month.
CANBERRA (Australian Government PR) — The Morrison Government is establishing Australia’s first ever national space mission as part of our plan for a stronger future. This is an historic investment that will strengthen our sovereign capability as well as grow the sector and create hundreds of new jobs.
The 2022-23 Budget includes $1.16 billion [USD $871.6 million] to 2038-39 and $38.5 million [USD $28.9 million] per annum ongoing for the first phase of a National Space Mission for Earth Observation, which will see Australia design, build, and operate four new satellites.
Led by the Australian Space Agency, this Mission will make Australia more self sufficient when it comes to critical Earth Observation data, while also growing capability and job opportunities that will set the industry up for future success.