A Dozen Launches on the Schedule Before End of 2020

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

There are at least 11 orbital launches and one suborbital flight scheduled to be conducted around the world by the end of the year. Launches will take place from the United States, Russia, India, China, New Zealand and French Guiana.

The schedule includes flight tests of the following vehicles:

  • Astra’s Rocket 3.2 rocket (Dec. 11)
  • Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crewed suborbital space plane (Dec. 11)
  • Russia’s Angara heavy-lift booster (Dec. 14)
  • Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne (Dec. 19).

The full schedule is below. Thanks to Spaceflight Now’s excellent launch schedule page for much of the information.

Launch dates and times are subject to change without warning. And remember, no wagering!

December 10

Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Window: 5:50-10:30 p.m. EST (2250-0300 on Dec. 10/11)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The launch for the National Reconnaissance Office is pending range availability. It might conflict with the Falcon 9 launch of the SXM 7 satellite.

UPDATE: Success

December 11

Launch Vehicle: WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo
Payloads: Microgravity experiments
Launch Window: TBD
Launch Site: Spaceport America, New Mexico

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity will attempt its third suborbital flight after a nearly 22-month gap. It will be the first suborbital launch from Spaceport America.

Virgin Galactic will not webcast the flight, but it will provide updates on social media.

UPDATE: Earliest launch date is Saturday, Dec. 12. The launch window extends into next week.

UPDATE No. 2: SpaceShipTwo suffered an in-flight abort when it’s engine failed to fully fire. Pilots landed safely back at Spaceport America.

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SXM 7
Launch Window: 11:19 a.m.-1:19 p.m. (1619-1819 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch the SXM 7 spacecraft for SiriusXM satellite radio.

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to ground equipment issue, rescheduled for no earlier than Sunday, Dec. 13.

Launch Vehicle: Rocket 3.2
Launch Window: 2:00-5:00 p.m. EST (1400-1700 GMT)
Launch Site: Pacific Launch Complex — Alaska

Astra will make another attempt to reach orbit for the first time from Kodiak Island.

Astra will not webcast the launch. The company will begin tweeting 15 minutes before liftoff.

UPDATE: Weather delay. Earliest launch will be Saturday, Dec. 12. Launch window extends through Dec. 18.

UPDATE No. 2: Next launch attempt will be Monday, Dec. 14.

December 14

Launch Vehicle: Angara A5
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

The second orbital flight test of the Angara A5 rocket and the third of the Angara program. An Angara A5 launched a mass simulator into orbit on Dec. 23, 2014. An Angara 1.2PP booster launched on a suborbital flight on July 9, 2014.

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Mission Name: Owl’s Night Begins
Payload: StriX-α synthetic aperture radar satellite
Launch Window: 4:00-5:59 a.m. EST (0900-1059 GMT)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com

Synspective of Japan is planning a constellation of 30 synthetic aperture radar satellites.

UPDATE: Launch delayed 24 hours due to solar eclipse. Now scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15 with same launch window.

December 17

Launch Vehicle: PSLV
Payload: CMS 1 communications satellite
Launch Time: Around 4:30 a.m. EST (0930 GMT)
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, India

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payloads: 36 OneWeb 4 satellites
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

Fresh out of bankruptcy, OneWeb will continue building out its satellite broadband constellation.

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: NROL-108 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Location: Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, Florida
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The launch will orbit a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.

December 19

Launch Vehicle: Cosmic Girl Boeing 747/LauncherOne
Payloads: 10 CubeSats
Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 p.m. EST (1800-2200 GMT)
Launch Site: Mojave Air and Space Port, California

Virgin Orbit’s second launch attempt will carry 10 CubeSats under a NASA educational program.

December 20

Launch Vehicle: Long March 8
Payload: XJY 7
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Wenchang, China

The purpose of the XJY 7 satellite is unknown.

December 28

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: CSO 2 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Location: French Guiana

The booster will launch the second Composante Spatiale Optique satellite for CNES and DGA, the French defense procurement agency.