Quarterly Launch Report: US in the Lead Thanks to SpaceX

A Falcon 9 lifts off with 60 Starlink satellites on March 11, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 27 orbital launch attempts with 26 successes and one failure during the first quarter of 2021. The United States accounted for nearly half the total with 13 launches behind nine flights by SpaceX.

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Cygnus Berthed at Space Station

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship is pictured about 30 meters away from the space station approaching its capture point near the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft was berthed to the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:16 a.m. EST Monday morning and subsequently bolted into place. Cygnus will remain at the space station until May, when the spacecraft will depart the station. Following departure, the Cygnus will dispose of several tons of trash during a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

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NASA Science, Cargo Launches on 15th Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission to Space Station

Antares lifts off from Wallops Island with the Cygnus resupply ship on Feb. 20, 2021. (Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — A Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft is en route to the International Space Station with approximately 8,000 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. About three hours after launch, the spacecraft’s solar arrays successfully deployed to collect sunlight to power Cygnus on its journey to the space station.

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Northrop Grumman Set to Launch 15th Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS on Saturday

The NG-15 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the crew aboard the station. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

“S.S. Katherine Johnson” ready for liftoff aboard Antares rocket carrying vital supplies and equipment for the crew aboard the station

WALLOPS, Va., February 19, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is set to launch the company’s 15th resupply mission (NG-15) to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Service-2 contract. The NG-15 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the crew aboard the station.

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Several Technology Development Payloads Sponsored by the ISS National Lab Launching on Northrop Grumman CRS-15

The S.S. Kalpana Chawla begins the second phase of its mission after leaving the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., February 17, 2021 (CASIS PR) – On Saturday, February 20, no earlier than 12:36 p.m. EST, Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), marking its 15th mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program.

The launch, which will take place from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, will deliver thousands of pounds of critical supplies and research to the space station. Moreover, many of the payloads on this mission showcase the diversity of research sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, with investigations in the physical and life sciences, materials research, and the validation of new facilities that further research and development in low Earth orbit.

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NASA TV Coverage Set for Next Cargo Launch to Space Station

Antares NG-12 launch

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA commercial cargo provider  Northrop Grumman is targeting 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 20, for the launch of its 15th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage of the launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, will air on NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app beginning at 12 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 20, with a prelaunch event Friday, Feb. 19.

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An Overview of NASA’s Technology Educational Satellites

NASA’s Technology Educational Satellite 8, or TechEdSat-8, deploying from the International Space Station Jan. 31, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

NASA’s TechEdSat series of technology demonstrations aims to bring small payloads back to Earth or to the surface of Mars – while pushing the state of the art in a variety of CubeSat technologies and experiments.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — TechEdSat is a series of collaborative projects and missions that pairs college and university students with NASA researchers to evaluate new technologies for use in small satellites, or CubeSats. Students do the hands-on work – designing, building, and testing CubeSat spacecraft systems and analyzing the results – for each flight mission, under mentorship of engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

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NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Northrop Grumman’s 15th Commercial Resupply Services Launch

An Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus resupply ship on Oct. 2, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of Northrop Grumman’s 15th commercial resupply services mission (NG CRS-15) for NASA. The Antares rocket carrying Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft will bring about 8,000 pounds of cargo, science, and supplies to the International Space Station.

The mission’s launch is targeted for 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 20, from the mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

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Northrop Grumman names Cygnus NG-15 Cargo Ship After NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-15 Cygnus spacecraft after former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. It is the company’s tradition to name each Cygnus spacecraft after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight. Johnson’s hand-written calculations were critical for John Glenn’s successful orbital mission around the Earth.

Johnson was born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Her parents enrolled her in high school on the campus of West Virginia State College at the age of 10 because their home county did not offer public schooling for black students past eighth grade. Upon graduating from high school at the age of 14, Johnson enrolled at West Virginia State, where she took every math class offered by the school, causing professors to create additional courses just for her.

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Northrop Grumman Awarded Additional Cargo Resupply Missions to the International Space Station

The Canadarm2 operated by astronaut Chris Cassidy moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship for its capture. (Credit: NASA TV)

DULLES, Va., November 11, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded two additional missions by NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services contract-2 (CRS-2) with launches occurring in 2023. Northrop  Grumman will deliver a combined total of approximately 16,500 lbs. of cargo to the International Space Station during these missions.

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Cygnus Heads to Space Station with Scientific Experiments, Radishes & a New Toilet

An Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus resupply ship on Oct. 2, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, technology demonstrations, commercial products, and other cargo after launching at 9:16 p.m. EDT Friday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

The spacecraft launched on an Antares rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops and is scheduled to arrive at the space station around 5:20 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 3:45 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Antares Flies, Falcon 9 Stays

An Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus resupply ship on Oct. 2, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

Update: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted the Falcon 9 launch was aborted due to an “nexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator. No word on when they will try launching again.

A Cygnus resupply ship carrying nearly 8,000 lb of cargo for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) was blasted into orbit by an Antares rocket on Friday night.

The Northrop Grumman booster lifted off on time at 9:16 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia. The flight followed a scrubbed launch on Thursday due to a software problem with ground equipment.

Cygnus, which is also a Northrop Grumman vehicle, is scheduled to arrive at the ISS early Monday morning.

Results were not as good on Friday night for SpaceX, which suffered its second Falcon 9 abort of the week in Florida. The countdown from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was halted two seconds prior to a planned 9:43 p.m. EDT liftoff for an unknown reason.

The rocket is carrying the GPS IIII SV-04 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.

On Thursday morning, the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites from nearby Kennedy Space Center was halted with 18 seconds left in the count due to an out family reading from a ground sensor.

How to Watch the Antares Night Launch on Thursday

Map of the Mid-Atlantic showing predictions for visibility of the NG CRS-14 launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The numbers in each colored circle represent the number of seconds after liftoff that the launch might become visible in the associated region. Viewing is dependent upon weather conditions and other factors, such as elevation and the extent to which one’s view of the horizon is obstructed. (Credit: NASA Wallops)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman is targeting Thursday, Oct. 1, for the launch of its 14th resupply mission to the International Space Station. The five-minute launch window opens at 9:38 p.m. EDT.

Loaded with nearly 8,000 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft will launch on the company’s Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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LambdaVision to Study Light-Activated Proteins on NASA’s Upcoming Flight to International Space Station

FARMINGTON, Conn. (LambdaVision PR) — LambdaVision, an innovative biotech developing a treatment to help patients regain sight, will launch their artificial retina technology with engineering partner Space Tango on Northrop Grumman’s 14th Commercial Resupply Services Mission for NASA (NG-14) to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

Scheduled to launch on September 30th at 2:26 UTC (10:26 p.m. ET), NG-14 is the first of a series of NASA flights to the ISS in low-Earth orbit (LEO) focused on developing the on-orbit production of LambdaVision’s artificial retina.

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Three U.S. Launches Scheduled This Week

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Tuesday, September 29

Launcher: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: 12:02 a.m. EDT (0402 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Company: United Launch Alliance
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

Launcher: Falcon 9
Payload: GPS 3 SV04 navigation satellite
Launch Window: 9:55-10:10 p.m. EDT (0155-0210 GMT on Sept. 30th)
Launch Site:
 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Company: SpaceX
Webcast: www.spacex.com

October 1

Launcher: Antares
Payload: Cygnus ISS resupply ship
Launch Time: 9:38 p.m. EDT (0138 GMT on Oct. 2)
Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility, Va.
Company: Northrop Grumman
Webcast: http://nasa.gov/ntv

TBA

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink satellite broadband spacecraft
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The launch was scrubbed on Monday due to weather constraints. SpaceX has not announced a new date yet.