Ariane 6 Launch Complex Inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport

A time lapse was filmed under the stars on the Ariane 6 launch base at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — The new launch complex built for Europe’s upcoming Ariane 6 rocket is inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

With this, ESA celebrates another important milestone in the Ariane 6 roadmap as it forges ahead with combined tests between launch vehicle and launch base and preparations towards the first launch campaign.

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Intelsat and Orange Expand Partnership to Deliver Mobile Network Services and Provide Reliable 3G/4G Services in French Guiana

McLean, Va.. (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest and most advanced satellite fleet and connectivity infrastructure, today announced it is expanding its relationship with Orange, one of the world’s leading telecommunications carriers, to provide cellular backhaul services in French Guiana that will provide universal services and increase access to both telecommunications and advanced connectivity solutions for Orange customers.

By integrating Intelsat-enabled cellular backhaul and support services into its network planning strategy, Orange will be able to extend mobile broadband coverage and connect more subscribers across Kaw, Camopi, Grand-Sancti, Papaichton and Maripasoula, ensuring consistent connectivity with a reliable service and great user experience.

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53 Smallsats Integrated for Vega’s First Rideshare Mission

Shown during the SSMS payload integration process for Arianespace’s Flight VV16 is the ION CubeSat carrier – a platform that will deploy 12 CubeSats after being placed in orbit by the Vega launcher. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — The 53 satellite passengers for Arianespace’s rideshare flight with its Vega light-lift launcher have been integrated at the Spaceport in French Guiana, marking a key milestone in preparation for the June 18 Proof of Concept mission with Europe’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

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Liftoff for Cheops, ESA’s Exoplanet Mission

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — ESA’s Cheops mission lifted off on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 09:54:20 CET on 18 December on its exciting mission to characterise planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at the mission control centre based at INTA in Torrejón de Ardoz near Madrid, Spain, via the Troll ground tracking station at 12:43 CET confirmed that the launch was successful.

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Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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ESA, Arianespace Sign Launch Contract for Earth Explorer Biomass Satellite

ESA’s Earth Explorer Biomass satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today, ESA and Arianespace signed a contract that secures the launch of the Earth Explorer Biomass satellite. With liftoff scheduled for 2022 on a Vega launch vehicle from French Guiana, this new mission is another step closer to mapping the amount of carbon stored in forests and how it changes over time though deforestation, for example.

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Ariane 6 Mobile Gantry Rolled Out for First Time

Ariane 6 mobile gantry. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 29 July 2019 (ESA PR) — At Europe’s Spaceport the Ariane 6 mobile gantry, a 90 metre-high metallic structure built to house Ariane 6 underwent a 97 m rollout test last week to mimic prelaunch.

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Arianespace Orbits First Six OneWeb Satellites on Latest Soyuz Success

Soyuz ascends from the Spaceport in French Guiana on Arianespace’s second mission of 2019, carrying the first six satellites for OneWeb. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace played a significant role in improving global connectivity with today’s Soyuz launch that deployed the initial six satellites in OneWeb’s constellation – which will provide affordable high-speed internet access for users around the world.

The cluster of spacecraft – produced by the OneWeb Satellites joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus – was successfully deployed into a circular low Earth orbit on Arianespace’s first Soyuz mission of 2019 (and the launch services company’s second mission overall this year).

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Vega-C’s First Stage P120C Motor Tested in French Guiana

Hot firing of P120C solid rocket motor for Vega-C. (Credit: ESA/CNES)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 29 January 2019 (ESA PR) — The first qualification model of the P120C solid-fuel motor, configured for Vega-C, was static fired yesterday on the test stand at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Fully loaded with 142 tonnes of fuel, the 13.5 m long and 3.4 m diameter motor was ignited for a final simulation of liftoff and the first phase of flight.

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SpaceX Plans Three Launches in 11 Days

The first Falcon 9 Block 5 booster heads for the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: SpaceX)

After a three-week break, SpaceX is gearing up for a busy stretch of launches with three coming up in an 11-day period on opposite sides of the country.

The launch campaign kicks off with an early Sunday morning launch from Cape Canaveral. Falcon 9 will carry Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite, which will provide service to China, India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

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Largest Ever Solid Rocket Motor Set for First Hot Fire

P120C awaits first hot firing. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana – 9 July 2018 (ESA PR) — This week, the largest solid rocket motor ever built in one piece will be test fired at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for the first time.

This important milestone validates the booster for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

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Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)











RSC Energia Director General Steps Down, RCC Progress Gets Interim Director

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos’ new boss, Dmitry Rogozin, appears to be making some changes within his domain with new leadership at two of the nation’s leading space companies.

Tass reports that Vladimir Solntsev, the head of RSC Energia, will step down from his post on Aug. 3. The publication gave no reason for Solntsev’s departure from the corporation, which is a subsidiary of Roscosmos.

Tass reports he became RSC Energia’s president in September 2014 and its director general in June 2016. Energia manufactures the Soyuz crew vehicle and other Russian spacecraft.

Officials plan to selected a new director general at an emergency shareholders’ meeting on Aug. 21. Sergei Romanov, the company’s general designer for human space systems, will become acting director after Solntsev departs.

Rocket maker RCC Progress also has new leadership. On June 26, the corporation’s board of directors appointed Dmitry Aleksandrovich Baranov as acting general director to replace R.N. Akhmetov. An announcement was made on the company’s website.

Born in June 1970 in Kuibyshev. Baranov graduated from Samara State Aerospace University with a degree in rocket engineering in 1994. He began working at RCC Progress (then known as TsSKB Progress) the year before he graduated.

From 2005 to 2011, he served as director of the Soyuz rocket program at Europe’s Guiana Space Center in South America.











Scheduled Launches for March

Atlas V booster launches the GOES-S weather satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Below is the current launch schedule for March. In total, there are 8 launches planned for the month with 16 communications satellites, one meteorological satellite, and one crew mission to the International Space Station. The launches include:

  • United States: 3 (2 Falcon 9, 1 Atlas V)
  • Russia: 2 (Soyuz from Baikonur & French Guiana)
  • Europe: 1 (Ariane 5)
  • China: 1 (Long March 3B)
  • India: 1 (GSLV Mk. 2)

This schedule is subject to change. Please visit https://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/ for updates.

March 1

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: GOES-S meteorological satellite
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Outcome: Successful

March 6

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite
Launch Window: 12:33-2:33 a.m. EST (0533-0733 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: O3b F4 communications satellite
Launch Time: 11:38:36 a.m. EST (1638:36 GMT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

March 15

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B
Payload: Apstar 6C communications satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Xichang, China

March 21

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Soyuz MS-08
Launch Time: 1:44 p.m. EDT (1744 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

NASA astronauts A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev will travel to the International Space Station.

Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payload: Superbird 8/DSN 1 & Hylas 4 communications satellites
Launch Time: 5:42 p.m. EDT (2142 GMT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

March 24

Launch Vehicles: GSLV Mk.2
Payl0ad: GSAT 6A communications satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, India

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Iridium Next 41-50 communications satellites
Launch Time: 10:19:49 a.m. EDT; 7:19:49 a.m. PDT (1419:49 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California











Falcon 9 Launch Delayed Until Wednesday

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen as it launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East with the Jason-3 spacecraft onboard, , Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been delayed until Wednesday, Feb. 21. The launch had been previously scheduled for Feb. 16 and Feb. 18.

The primary payload is the Paz satellite for Hisdesat of Spain. The spacecraft will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Elon Musk’s company will also launch two of its own satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, that will demonstration technologies needed to provide global broadband services. The company plans to orbit 12,000 in two separate constellations for its Starlink broadband service.

Here is the launch schedule for the next two weeks. Check for updates here.

Feb. 21

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Paz
Launch Time: 9:17 a.m. EST; 6:17 a.m. PST (1417 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Built by Airbus Defense and Space, Hisdesat’s Paz satellite will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Feb. 24/25

Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Payload: IGS Optical 6
Launch Window: 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 24 (0400-0600 GMT on Feb. 25)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

The Japanese government’s Information Gathering Satellite carries an optical reconnaissance payload.

Feb. 25

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6
Launch Window: 12:35 a.m. EST (0535 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, will provide communications services over Europe, North Africa and the Americas.

March 1

Launch Vehicle: Atlas 5
Payload: GOES-S
Launch Time: 5:02-7:02 p.m. EST (2202-0002 GMT)
Launch Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The United Launch Alliance rocket will launch the second next-generation geostationary weather satellite for NASA and NOAA.

March 6

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: O3b F4
Launch Time: 11:38:36 a.m. EST (1638:36 GMT)
Launch Site: French Guiana

The four O3b Networks will provide broadband services to developing countries.