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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NASA, SpaceX to Launch Second Commercial Crew Rotation Mission to International Space Station

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 is the second crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying on a commercial spacecraft, and the first with two international partner astronauts.

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Paragon Space Development Corporation Key Life Support System Onboard ISS Resupply Mission

TUCSON, Ariz. (Paragon Space Development Corporation PR) — Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) is excited to announce that its latest life support technology was launched aboard Northrop Grumman’s 15th commercial resupply services mission (NG CRS-15) which arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday.  Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft successfully launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday, February 20th with over 8,000 pounds of scientific equipment and experiments and cargo aboard. 

Paragon’s Brine Processor System is a key part of the overall Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), which protects, preserves and promotes human life.  Paragon’s brine processing technology – which is vital to generating water for the crew of a spacecraft, space station or potential transport to or habitation on the Moon or Mars – represents a ground-breaking innovation that will be critical to long-duration human spaceflight missions.

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Nanoracks Launches Two CubeSats on NG-15 Cygnus

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., February 22, 2021 (Nanoracks PR) – Earlier today, the NG-15 Cygnus spacecraft berthed with the International Space Station (ISS), carrying two CubeSats in the Nanoracks External Cygnus Deployer (E-NRCSD). The Cygnus arrived at the ISS after launching from Wallops Flight Facility Pad 0A on February 22, 2021 at 17:36 UTC. In celebration of Black History Month, the NG-15 Cygnus has been named in honor of Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician who had a vital role in early human space flight missions.

This launch is Nanoracks’ ninth mission providing opportunities for CubeSat deployment from the Cygnus. The CubeSats onboard today’s launch, IT-SPINS and MySat-2 (DhabiSat), were built by students and researchers at Montana State University and Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.

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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’s Busy Monday: Cygnus Docking, New Imagery & Video from Mars Perseverance Lander

This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA TV will be busy on Monday with the rendezvous and capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus CRS-15 cargo ship to the International Space Station and an update on the Perseverance Rover on Mars.

NASA is promising new imagery and video from the Red Planet. Cameras recorded Perseverance’s descent to Mars. I predict the video will break the Internet.

The schedule is below. Watch it all live on NASA TV.

Feb. 22, Monday

3 a.m. EST (0800 UTC) — Coverage of the rendezvous and capture of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus CRS-15 cargo ship at the International Space Station
4 a.m. EST (0900 UTC) — Approximate time of capture of Cygnus with the International Space Station’s robotic arm
6 a.m. EST (1100 UTC) — Coverage of the installation of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus CRS-15 cargo ship to the International Space Station 
2 p.m. EST (1900 UTC) — Perseverance Mars Rover briefing, including new imagery and video from the Red Planet

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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NASA Advancing Global Navigation Satellite System Capabilities

Deployment of Bobcat-1 from the International Space Station. (Credit: Nanoracks)

by Danny Baird
​NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program office

NASA is developing capabilities that will allow missions at high altitudes to take advantage of signals from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) constellations — like GPS commonly used in the U.S. These signals — used on Earth for navigation and critical timing applications — could provide NASA’s Artemis missions to the Moon with reliable timing and navigation data. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program is developing the technologies that will support this goal.

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Northrop Grumman’s NG-14 Cygnus Spacecraft Completes Primary Mission to the International Space Station

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

DULLES, Va., Jan. 6, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today that the company has completed the first phase of its 14th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Mission (CRS-2) contract. Cygnus was released by the station’s robotic arm at 10:11 a.m. ET, carrying more than 4,000 pounds of disposable cargo and will remain in orbit for approximately two weeks for the secondary phase of its mission.

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