Updated Global Launch Schedule for May

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

There are some interesting launches among the nine orbital flights currently scheduled for May. Highlights include:

  • NASA’s Mars InSight lander with two deep-space CubeSats (May 5);
  • SpaceX’s first flight of a Falcon 9 Block 5 variant (NET May 7);
  • Two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE Follow-On) satellites (May 19);
  • Orbital ATK’s Antares Cygnus ISS resupply mission (May 20);
  • China’s Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite with two deep-space microsats (TBD); and,
  • Rocket Lab’s first Electron commercial flight (TBD).

There have been 40 orbital launches through April, with 38 successes, one failure and one partial failure.

The schedule below is subject to change. Please check with our friends at Spaceflight Now for updates.

May 2

Launch Vehicle: Long March 4C
Payload: Gaofen 5 hyperspectral remote-sensing satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Taiyuan, China

May 3

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B
Payload: Apstar 6C communications satellite
Launch Time: Approx. 12:05 p.m. EDT (1605 GMT)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

May 5

Launch Vehicle: Atlas 5
Payload: InSight Mars lander
Launch Window: 7:05-9:05 a.m. EDT; 4:05-6:05 a.m. PDT (1105-1305 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

NASA’s Mars InSight is scheduled to touch down in the Elysium Planitia region in November 2018 to study the Martian interior and measure seismic activity. Two 6U MarCO CubeSats are being launched as secondary payloads to transmit InSight entry, descent and lander data back to Earth.

Webcast on NASA TV at www.nasa.gov and ULA’s website at www.ulalaunch.com.

NET May 7

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite
Launch Window: Approx. 4:00-6:25 p.m. EDT (2000-2225 GMT)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Bangabandhu 1 will fly aboard SpaceX’s first upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 variant, which features a first stage designed for frequent and easier reuse.

Webcast at www.spacex.com.

May 19

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: Iridium Next 51-55 communications & 2 GRACE Follow-On scientific satellites
Launch Time: 4:03 p.m. EDT; 1:03 p.m. PDT (2003 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

SpaceX is launching two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE Follow-On) satellites for NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ). The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Webcast at www.spacex.com.

May 20

Launch Vehicle: Antares
Payload: Cyngus (OA-9) ISS resupply ship
Launch Window: 5:04-5:09 a.m. EDT (0904-0909 GMT)
Launch Site: Wallops Island, Virginia

Webcast at www.nasa.gov.

NET May 24

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SES 12 communications satellite
Launch Window: 12:29-1:27 a.m. EDT (0429-0527 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The Falcon 9 booster will use a previously-flown first stage to launch the satellite, which was built by Airbus Defense and Space.

Webcast at www.spacex.com.

May TBD

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payloads: 2 Spire & 1 GeoOptics satellites
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

Launch Vehicle: Long March 4C
Payload: Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Xichang, China

The satellite will relay communications from the Chang’e-4 lunar lander and rover, which are scheduled for launch the far side of the moon later this year. This mission will carry two microsatellites that will conduct astronomical observations from deep space.