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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Rogozin Lays Out Options for Roscosmos Post ISS; Russia Agrees to Seat Swap with NASA

Video Caption: Russia will look to wind down its cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS) while stepping up cooperation with China on the creation of a lunar station in the coming years, the head of Russia’s space agency said in an interview with the China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Friday.

Editor’s Note: In brief, Russia will honor commitments to ISS through the current end date of 2024. Rogozin thinks negotiations to extend station operations — NASA wants a 2030 end date — would be difficult with current tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said Russia plans to launch its own space station in 2027-28, on which it might work with China.

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Roscosmos Looks to Make Space Tourist Training Even Shorter

The three new residents aboard the station (front row, from left) are Russian actress Yulia Peresild, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and Russian Producer Klim Shipenko. In the back, are Expedition 65 crew members Shane Kimbrough, Oleg Novitskiy, Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei, and Akihiko Hoshide. (Credit: NASA TV)

TASS reports that it is theoretically possible to reduce the time it takes to train a non-professional astronaut (aka, space tourists or spaceflight participants) to fly to orbit aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to under the current four months. Paying customers used to spend months in training prior to a flight.

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Record Breaking NASA Astronaut to Return to Earth on Wednesday Aboard Russian Soyuz as Private Mission to ISS Looms

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three Expedition 66 Flight Engineers are returning to Earth in less than two days as four private astronauts prepare for their mission to the International Space Station. The crew activities haven’t stopped the ongoing space research as the orbital residents studied biology, botany, and physics on Monday.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is nearing the end of his mission as he prepares to return to Earth on Wednesday after a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov will lead Vande Hei and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship when they undock from the Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The trio will parachute to a landing just over four hours later.

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Roscosmos Approves Space Station Crews for 2022-2024

The space station is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking. (Credit: NASA TV)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The interdepartmental commission on the selection of cosmonauts has confirmed the prime and backup crews of long-term expeditions to the International Space Station of Soyuz MS crewed spaceships in 2022-2024.

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Interview with Oleg Novitsky After His Spaceflight

Oleg Novitsky (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Two months ago, Oleg Novitsky returned from his third space flight to the ISS. The commander of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft shared with the readers of the State Corporation Roscosmos magazine – Russian Space – his impressions of the expedition. It cannot be called boring in any way: three spacewalks, the meeting and integration of the new Science module and, of course, an amazing week and a half spent side by side with the world’s first film crew.

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Long-term Space Travel Could Cause Brain Damage

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

A study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg indicates that long-duration spaceflight could result in brain damage. The study, published in the JAMA Neurology scientific journal, involved the study of five Russian cosmonauts who lived on the International Space Station (ISS).

Blood samples were taken from the cosmonauts 20 days before their departure to the ISS. On average, they then stayed in space for 169 days (approximately five and a half months). The participants’ mean age was 49.

After their return to Earth, follow-up blood samples were taken on three occasions: one day, one week, and about three weeks respectively after landing. Five biomarkers for brain damage were analyzed. They were neurofilament light (NFL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), total tau (T-tau), and two amyloid beta proteins.

For three of the biomarkers — NFL, GFAP and the amyloid beta protein Aβ40 — the concentrations were significantly elevated after the space sojourn. The peak readings did not occur simultaneously after the men’s return to Earth, but their biomarker trends nonetheless broadly tallied over time.

“This is the first time that concrete proof of brain-cell damage has been documented in blood tests following space flights. This must be explored further and prevented if space travel is to become more common in the future,” says Henrik Zetterberg, professor of neuroscience and one of the study’s two senior coauthors.

Zetterberg and his colleagues are discussing follow-up studies.

New Cosmonaut Candidates Introduced

Four newly admitted Cosmonaut Squad members. (Credit: CPK/Roscosmos)

STAR CITY, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC), four newly admitted Cosmonaut Squad members were introduced to the Center staff. Sergey Teteryatnikov, Alexander Kolyabin, Sergey Irtuganov and Harutyun Kiviryan are cosmonaut candidates of the 2020 open enrollment.

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Roscosmos Officials, Cosmonauts Pay Tribute to Yuri Gagarin on Anniversary of Death

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos State Corporation took part in commemorative events dedicated to the tragic death of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and test pilot Vladimir Seryogin on March 27, 2021. On behalf of the State Corporation, State Secretary – Deputy General Director for Exercising State Powers Sergey Dubik, representatives of the Roscosmos cosmonaut corps represented by Heroes of Russia, Roscosmos cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Alexander Misurkin, test cosmonaut Mukhtar Aimakhanov and family took part in the laying of flowers at the Kremlin wall in Moscow.

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Roscosmos Selects Four Cosmonaut Candidates

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Interdepartmental Commission (IAC) for the selection of cosmonauts and their appointment to the crews of manned spacecraft and stations within the framework of an open competition for the selection of candidates for cosmonauts of the Russian Federation (the competition started in 2019) decided to recommend the FSBI “Research Institute of the CTC named after Yu.A. Gagarin” appoint four people to the positions of test cosmonaut candidates of the Roscosmos Cosmonaut Corps. The decision came into force on January 27, 2021.

The cosmonaut profession will be mastered by Sergey Irtuganov, Alexander Kolyabin, Sergey Teteryatnikov and Harutyun Kiviryan. In the near future they will start studying the General Space Training (GST) course, which will take place over two years.

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Russia Graduates New Class of Cosmonauts

Cosmonaut class of 2020.. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscomos PR) — Today, December 2, 2020, at the Yu.A. Gagarin, a meeting of the Interdepartmental Qualification Commission (ICQC) took place. By the decision of the commission, the qualification of a test cosmonaut was awarded to Konstantin Borisov, Alexander Gorbunov, Alexander Grebenkin, Alexei Zubritsky, Sergei Mikayev, Kirill Peskov and Oleg Platonov. They completed a two-year general space training course and successfully passed the State exam.

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Roscosmos Moves Forward with Cosmonaut Selection

The crew of Soyuz MS-16: Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin and with NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Translated from Russian using Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos State Corporation has finished accepting applications for participation in an open competition for the selection of candidates for the cosmonaut corps of the Russian Federation, which was announced on June 3, 2019. 

Under the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it was decided that applicants who submitted an incomplete set of documents for the competition until June 1, 2020 inclusive, will be able to participate in it by submitting the missing documents by the end of the current month.

Within the framework of the competition, from the moment of its beginning to May 31, 2020 inclusively, the competition commission accepted 1,404 applications.  Moreover, 156 applicants provided a full package of necessary documents, including 123 men and 33 women. 

During the extramural selection stage, which will last until June 30, 2020 inclusive, following the results of six meetings, the Competition Commission considered more than 90% of the applicants. 

At the time of publication of this message, 28 candidates (among them three women) have already received an invitation to the in-person selection stage.

Follow the news of selection in the cosmonaut corps of the Russian Federation.

China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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Turkey Looks to Send Astronaut to Space Station with Russians

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On October 31, 2019, Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin met with Turkish Ambassador to Russia Mehmet Samsar.

The parties discussed the topical questions of the mutually beneficial cooperation in space, noting the high potential and importance of the subject in the Russo-Turkish relations.

The meeting resulted in an agreement to start preparing a frame intergovernmental agreement between the countries on space. The Turkish delegation also reconfirmed the plans mentioned earlier to organize Turkish cosmonaut training in the Zvyozdny gorodok.