VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NOAA PR) — Flight hardware for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket slated to launch the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) has arrived in California. The rocket’s boattail and interstage adapter arrived at Vandenberg Space Force Base July 28 for processing ahead of launch. The payload fairings arrived Aug. 8.
GILBERT, Ariz. (NOAA PR) — On July 26, in a clean room at the Northrop Grumman facility in Gilbert, Arizona, NOAA’s JPSS-2 satellite let out several loud pops as each of the five panels of its solar array detached from the body of the satellite and then unfolded, stretching out to its full 30-foot length. Under each panel, an engineer clad in a bunny suit flashed a thumbs up as latches clicked into place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Number of Launches
Transporter-3, -4, -5
NASA, Axiom Space
NASA, Axiom Space
Cargo Dragon 2
BeaverCube, CapSat-1, CLICK A, D3, JAGSAT, TUMnanoSat
Technology Demonstration, Education
ERAU Daytona Beach, MIT, The Weiss School, University of South Alabama, Technical University of Moldova
Globalstar FM15, Nilesat-301, SES-22
Globalstar, Nilesat, SES
USA-328, 329, 330, 331
U.S. Department of Defense
NROL-87, Intruder 13A, Intruder 13B
Reconnaissance, Electronic Intelligence
National Reconnaissance Office
Bundeswehr (German Military)
Earth Observation (civilian/military)
Italian Space Agency
* 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.
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.
SpaceX is targeting Sunday, July 10 for a Falcon 9 launch of 46 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window is at 6:39 p.m. PT (01:39 UTC on Monday, July 11), and a backup opportunity is available on Monday, July 11 at 6:39 p.m. PT (01:39 UTC on Tuesday, July 12).
The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, and three Starlink missions. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth and land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
By Tech. Sgt. Luke Kitterman Combined Force Space Component Command
VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – One element of warfare that is not always in the limelight but easily touches all warfighting domains is the electromagnetic spectrum. At Vandenberg Space Force Base, there resides an Air National Guard squadron that works regularly with the Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) in its mission to deliver combat relevant space capabilities to combatant commanders.
SpaceX completed a hat trick over the weekend with three satellite launches from different coasts in 36 hours.
Elon Musk’s company wrapped up a busy weekend when a Falcon 9 booster launched the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket lifted off at 12:27 a.m. EDT.
SpaceX conducted its second launch in less than 24 hours on Saturday morning when a Falcon 9 carried a German reconnaissance satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The rocket lifted off at 7:19 a.m. PDT (10:19 a.m. EDT) with the Airbus-built SARah synthetic aperture radar satellite for the German military from a fog-shrouded launch pad. SpaceX ended its webcast early prior to satellite deployment at the request of the customer.
The Falcon 9’s first stage booster, launching for the third time, touched down at Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg. It was SpaceX’s 125th recovery of an orbital class booster.
It was the second Falcon 9 flight in just over 22 hours. On Friday, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket lifted off at 12:08 p.m. EDT (9:08 a.m. PDT).
It was a record 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, and now 10 Starlink missions. The stage landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX will wrap up a busy weekend on Sunday morning with a Falcon 9 launch of the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite at 12:27 a.m. EDT (04:27 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It will be the 26th launch of the year for SpaceX.