New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.

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Launch 2020: China’s Space Program Continued to Surge with a Number of Firsts

Long March 3B lifts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Group)

China’s surging space program showed no sign of slowing down last year as it tied its own launch record and moved ahead with ambitious space missions and a set of new launchers.

China compiled a record of 35 successes and four failures in 2020. That matched the number of launch attempts made in 2018, a year that saw 38 successes and a single failure.

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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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Galactic Energy Raises $30 Million, Moves Forward on Pallas-1 Booster

Ceres-1 booster (Credit: Galactic Energy)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Galactic Energy, which became the second private Chinese launch provider to orbit a satellite on Saturday, has announced that it completed a Series A financing round of 200 million yuan ($30.25 million) in September.

In a press release, Galactic Energy said the funding will be used to manufacture and perform upgrades on the solid-fuel Ceres-1 small-satellite booster that flew last week. The funding will also allow the company to continue research and development on its larger liquid-fuel Pallas-1 (Zhishen-1) booster.

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Galactic Energy Raises $21.7 Million to Develop Ceres 1 Launch Vehicle

Artist’s conception of Ceres 1 launch vehicle on launch pad. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Galactic Energy recently raised an additional 150 million yuan ($21.68 million) for the development of its Ceres 1 launch vehicle.

The latest funding round for the private Chinese launch provider was led by Puhua Capital and Huaqiang Capital and included six other investors, the company said. The round brings the total amount raised to 300 million yuan ($43.36 million).

Ceres 1 is a four-stage rocket designed to place payloads weighing 350 kg (772 lb) into low Earth orbit and 230 kg (507 lb) into sun synchronous orbit. The booster has a liquid upper stage atop three solid-fuel stages.

Galactic Energy said it aiming for a flight test of the new booster in the first half of this year. Engineers have completed test firings of the first three stages, the company added.