The Best Laid Plans, Moscow Edition: Ukraine Invasion Damages Russia’s Launch Business

Soyuz-2 rocket launches a military satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ambitious launch schedules typically go awry when a rocket suffers a catastrophic failure that takes months to investigate and implement modifications to ensure the same accident doesn’t happen again. In the majority of cases, the failures involve a machine launching a machine. All that can be replaced, albeit at substantial cost.

Russia’s ambitious launch plans for 2022 fell apart due to a far more momentous and deadly action: the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision ruptured cooperation with the West on virtually every space project on which it was safe to do so. The main exception was the International Space Station (ISS), a program involving astronauts and cosmonauts that would be difficult to operate safely if Russia suddenly withdrew (as it indeed threatened to do).

Due to the invasion, Western partners canceled seven launches of foreign payloads in less than a month. The cancellations put Russia even further behind the United States and China in launch totals this year.

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SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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Eutelsat and OneWeb Sign MOU on Merger

  • Eutelsat and key OneWeb shareholders [1] sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to combining Eutelsat and OneWeb in an all-share transaction.
  • Eutelsat shareholders and OneWeb shareholders [2] would each hold 50% of the Eutelsat shares
  • Compelling financial profile with:
    • Potential for double-digit revenue and EBITDA CAGR over the medium to long term;
    • Eutelsat’s strong cash flow generation providing visibility and funding to support continued expansion into the LEO market through OneWeb’s next generation of satellites;
    • Over €1.5bn potential incremental value-creation after tax (net of implementation costs) stemming from revenue, capex and cost synergies.
  • Balanced board and governance structure, to include Eutelsat’s Chairman and its CEO, OneWeb’s Chairman, and a significant number of independent directors proposed by Eutelsat and OneWeb’s shareholders, at Extraordinary General Meeting.
  • Fully backed by a strong set of strategic shareholders of both entities, including Bpifrance and Fonds Stratégique de Participations who have undertaken to vote in favour of the transaction-related resolutions at this EGM, subject to usual conditions. CMA CGM, a shareholder of Eutelsat, is also supporting the combination.
  • Representing a transformational transaction, built on the strong foundations established in April 2021 with Eutelsat’s initial investment in OneWeb, this combination creates a global leader uniquely positioned to capture the Connectivity market with complementary GEO/LEO [3] offering.
  • Combined entity strongly positioned to address the fast-growing global Connectivity market.
  • The transaction values OneWeb at $3.4bn implying a value of €12 per Eutelsat share (including the dividend, before synergies).
  • Eutelsat to propose a €0.93 per share dividend with a scrip option in respect of FY 2021-22 at its upcoming AGM. Such dividend will not impact the exchange ratio.
  • Eutelsat will continue to be listed on Euronext Paris and apply for admission to standard listing on the London Stock Exchange.


PARIS, LONDON, 26 July 2022 (Eutelsat/OneWeb PR)
 – Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) and key OneWeb shareholders have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the objective of creating a leading global player in Connectivity through the combination of both companies in an all-share transaction. Eutelsat will combine its 36-strong fleet of GEO satellites with OneWeb’s constellation of 648 Low Earth Orbit satellites, of which 428 are currently in orbit.

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Eutelsat Communications Confirms Negotiations with OneWeb on Merger

PARIS (Eutelsat Communications PR) — Following recent market rumors, Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) confirms that it has engaged in discussions with its co-shareholders in OneWeb regarding a potential all-share combination to create a global leader in Connectivity with complementary GEO/LEO activities.

The combined entity would be the first multi-orbit satellite operator offering integrated GEO and LEO solutions and would be uniquely positioned to address a booming ~$16bn (2030) Satellite Connectivity market. OneWeb is one of the two only global LEO networks and has experienced strong momentum over recent months, with service expected to be fully deployed in 2023.

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SpaceX Launches 53 Starlink Satellites in Second Flight in Two Days

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 24, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

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

SpacecraftSatellite Type(s)Customer(s)Number of LaunchesSatellites/ Payloads/Crew
StarlinkBroadbandSpaceX201,013
Transporter-3, -4, -5Multiple RideshareMultiple3204
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space22
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space–*8
Cargo Dragon 2ISS ResupplyNASA11
BeaverCube, CapSat-1, CLICK A, D3, JAGSAT, TUMnanoSatTechnology Demonstration, EducationERAU Daytona Beach, MIT, The Weiss School, University of South Alabama, Technical University of Moldova–^6
Globalstar FM15, Nilesat-301, SES-22Commercial CommunicationsGlobalstar, Nilesat, SES33
USA-328, 329, 330, 331UnknownU.S. Department of Defense+4
NROL-87, Intruder 13A, Intruder 13BReconnaissance, Electronic IntelligenceNational Reconnaissance Office23
SARah-1ReconnaissanceBundeswehr (German Military)11
COSMO-SkyMed 2nd-generationEarth Observation (civilian/military)Italian Space Agency11
331,246
* 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.

SpaceX Sets New Record with 32nd Launch of the Year

Falcon 9 launches Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched for the 32nd time on Friday, setting a new record for a calendar year with more than five months left in 2022.

On Friday, July 22 at 10:39 a.m. PDT, Falcon 9 launched 46 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

This was the fourth flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched NROL-87, NROL-87 and SARah-1.

77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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SpaceX Orbits 53 Starlink Satellites, Ties Annual Launch Record

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., July 17, 2022 — On Sunday, July 17 at 10:20 a.m. ET, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

It was SpaceX’s 31st successful launch of 2022, which ties a company record set last year. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the company is aiming to launch 60 times this year.

Jonathan’s Space Pages reports that 2,858 Starlink satellites have been launched, with 2,604 spacecraft still in orbit and 2,074 in the licensed operational shells.

This was the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Dragon’s first crew demonstration mission, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and now 10 Starlink missions.

SpaceX Launches 46 Starlink Satellites from Vandenberg

Falcon 9 rises above the marine layer with 46 Starlink satellites after launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base on July 10, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

On Sunday, July 10 at 6:39 p.m. PT, Falcon 9 launched 46 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

SpaceX has now launched 2,805 Starlink satellites, with 2,518 still operating, according to Jonathan’s Space Report.

This Falcon 9 first stage booster previously launched Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, and three Starlink missions.

SpaceX to Launch 46 Starlink Satellites on Sunday From California

Falcon 9 payload shroud. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX Mission Update

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.

You can watch the live launch webcast starting about 5 minutes before liftoff. 

SpaceX Orbits 53 Satellites on 50th Starlink Launch

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 7, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. — On Thursday, July 7 at 9:11 a.m. ET, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

This was the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, Transporter-3, and now eight Starlink missions.

5G for 12GHz Coalition Claims SpaceX Grossly Distorted Study on Signal Interference

5Gfor12GHz Coalition Statement

The 5Gfor12GHz Coalition today responded to a recently filed Starlink submission into the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) 12 GHz proceeding, setting the record straight on the company’s misinformation campaign.

Since the FCC initiated the 12 GHz proceeding 18 months ago, the Coalition has worked with top experts, including RKF Engineering Solutions – a preeminent engineering firm with decades of experience in modeling Radio Frequency environments in collaboration with leading telecommunications companies and global regulators – to submit robust, data-driven technical analyses into the record. These studies demonstrate not only that coexistence is feasible in the band, with 99.85% of NGSOs experiencing no risk of harmful interference alongside 5G, but the substantial societal, economic and geopolitical benefits of unleashing more critical mid-band spectrum for two-way terrestrial services. After failing to submit any expert technical input during the public comment and reply comment periods in the proceeding, Starlink has only now submitted a self-produced political document in the guise of a technical analysis. This “study,” which was not produced by an independent expert, is both scientifically and logically flawed, as demonstrated in part by the following:

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SatixFy Technology Enables First 5G link Through a LEO Constellation

Significant milestone achieved by SatixFy supported by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) using the OneWeb constellation, to successfully demonstrate a high-speed low-latency 5G-enabled link with a LEO satellite

The demonstration was enabled by SatixFy’s compact fully electronically steered multi-beam multi-orbit antenna terminal

The SatixFy terminal also demonstrated simultaneous multi-orbit communications with a LEO and GEO satellite using its multi-beam multi satellites capability

The demonstration validates the integration of space and ground networks using 5G links

5G is a potential large incremental market opportunity for SatixFy technology in the future – Northern Sky Research estimates $35 Billion in SatCom services revenue by 2030

HARWELL, England (SatixFy Communications Ltd. PR) — SatixFy Communications Ltd. (“SatixFy”), a leader in next-generation satellite communication systems based on in-house developed chipsets, today announced its critical role in enabling the first ever demonstration of a high-speed, low-latency link with a LEO satellite constellation incorporating 5G (video available here). SatixFy has partnered with OneWeb under the ESA Sunrise Partnership Project, with support from the UK Space Agency, to develop a compact electronically steered multi-beam array suitable for mobility services over both LEO and GEO satellites simultaneously. The terminal can also be integrated into 5G equipment to allow end-to-end access to a LEO constellation network via a 5G signal.

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FCC Grants SpaceX Permission to Provide Starlink Broadband Service to Vehicles as Battle with DISH Network Rages Over Frequency

Starlink Premium antenna. (Credit: SpaceX)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted permission to SpaceX to provide Starlink broadband service to vehicles, vessels and aircraft. Bloomberg reports:

The Federal Communications Commission announced the decision in an order published Thursday, which said it also granted permission for the service to mobile customers of Kepler Communications Inc.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the formal name of Musk’s closely held company, has launched about 2,500 first-generation satellites in its Starlink fleet and serves almost 500,000 subscribers worldwide….

The FCC said it received requests to deny or defer the new SpaceX service from Viasat Inc., Dish Network Corp. and RS Access LLC. Viasat has objected to SpaceX’s Starlink, saying it raises the risk of in-space collisions, while Dish and billionaire Michael Dell’s RS Access are embroiled in a dispute with SpaceX over airwaves use.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is engaged in a battle at the FCC over DISH Network’s attempt to expand its use of 12 GHz band. SpaceX disagrees with DISH’s claim that the expansion would render its Starlink satellite broadband useless to most U.S. users.

“Despite technical studies dating back as far as 2016 that refute the basis of their claims, DISH has attempted to mislead the FCC with faulty analysis in hopes of obscuring the truth. If DISH’s lobbying efforts succeed, our study shows that Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77% of the time and total outage of service 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans,” the company said in a statement.

You can read the details of the study here, as well as SpaceX’s letter to the FCC on the dispute.