Mid-Year Launch Report: U.S. (& SpaceX) in the Lead

Screenshot of SpaceX Falcon 9 Bulgaria 1 satellite launch. (Credit: SpaceX)

We are now halfway through 2017, so it seems like a good time to take a look at the year in orbital launches.

ORBITAL LAUNCHES THROUGH JUNE 2017
NATIONSUCCESSES
FAILURES
PARTIAL FAILURESTOTAL
United States130013
Russia8008
China6017
Europe5005
India4004
Japan3104
New Zealand0101
TOTAL392142

A total of 42 launches have been conducted thus far, with 39 successes, two failures and one partial failure. The two failures were inaugural flight tests of new boosters.

American companies have launched 13 times. Nine of those flights have been conducted by SpaceX, giving the company more launches than anyone else thus far. United Launch Alliance successfully three three Atlas V boosters and one Delta IV rocket.

Russia has conducted eight launches. Included in the total are two Russian Soyuz flights conducted from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana.

China is close behind with seven launches. Six flights were successful, but a Long March 3B booster suffered a partial failure earlier this month that left a spacecraft in a lower-than-planned orbit.

LAUNCHES BY VEHICLE THROUGH JUNE 2017
LAUNCH VEHICLENATIONSUCCESSES
FAILURES
PARTIAL FAILURESTOTAL
 Falcon 9United States9009
 Soyuz 2Russia6006
 Ariane 5 Europe4004
 Atlas VUnited States 300 3
 H-IIAJapan3003
 Long March 3BChina2013
 PSLVIndia2002
 Delta IV United States1 001
 GSLV Mk II India 1 001
 GSLV Mk III India 1 001
KT-2 China 1 001
 Kuaizhou 1 China 1 001
 Long March 2D China 1 001
 Long March 7 China 1 001
 Proton Russia 1 001
 Soyuz-2.1vRussia 1 001
 VegaEurope 1001
 Electron New Zealand0101
 S-520-4 Japan010 1
TOTAL392142

Europe follows with five successful launches, including four using the Ariane 5 booster and one using the Vega launcher.

India launched four times, with the highlight being the successful first orbital test of the new GSLV Mk. III booster. The launch vehicle — the nation’s most powerful to date — had been previously tested during a suborbital flight without an upper stage.

Japan also launched four times with three successes. The maiden flight test of Japan’s new SS-520-4 nanosat launcher failed in January, destroying some CubeSats.

New Zealand made the orbital launch list for the first time this year. The maiden flight test of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster failed to orbit an inert mass. Rocket Lab is a U.S.-New Zealand company.

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Preventing Collisions Between Debris and Spacecraft


JAXA has published the following Q&A interview with  Mayumi Matsuura, the space agency’s space situation awareness (SSA) system project manager.

— What is the current state of space debris monitoring in Japan?

Kamisaibara Spaceguard Center (Credit: JAXA)

Space debris is monitored at the Kamisaibara Spaceguard Center and the Bisei Spaceguard Center, both in Okayama Prefecture. At Kamisaibara, we use radar to monitor debris in low Earth orbit (LEO) up to an altitude of approximately 2,000 km. Although the size of debris that can be monitored depends on its altitude, we can simultaneously track a total of 10 targets 1 meter or more in diameter. At Bisei, we use an optical telescope, which allows us to monitor debris in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) at an altitude of 36,000 km.

JAXA analyzes data from these facilities to pinpoint debris orbit and position, and when this data and other inputs show that there is a possibility of debris colliding with satellites, a warning is issued to the satellite team. This is the role of the Space Tracking and Communications Center (STCC), where I work. To avoid being hit by debris, all you need to do is change your orbit, so the center prepares detailed proposals on when and how to do this. In some cases, debris is expected not to burn up on reentry into the atmosphere, but to fall back to Earth. In these situations, my job is to predict where it will reenter the atmosphere.
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JAXA Outlines Plans for H3 Launch Vehicle

Artist's conception of H3 rocket. (Credit: JAXA)
Artist’s conception of H3 rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The H3 Launch Vehicle is a liquid propellant launch vehicle currently under development. This is the first full-scale development of the 21st century. The aim of this development is to respond to launch demands from global customers. Based on our operation experience and the reliability of launch vehicles, we will further improve the payload launch capability and reduce the launch price to triumph among international competition in the commercial launch market. We are developing the H3 with the goal of a maiden launch in Japan Fiscal Year 2020 as a mainstay launch vehicle.
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FAA Releases Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation

faa_compendium_2016The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2016

Executive Summary

The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. At $95 billion in revenues, or about 29 percent, satellite television represents the largest segment of activity. Following this is government space budgets at $76 billion, or 24 percent, and services enabled by GNSS represent, about $76 billion in revenues. Commercial satellite remote sensing companies generated on $1.6 billion in revenues, but the value added services enabled by these companies is believed to be magnitudes larger. Because remote sensing value added services includes imagery and data analytics from other sources beyond space-based platforms, only the satellite remote sensing component is included in the global space industry total.

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Russia Led in Launch Successes and Failures in 2015

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

Russia continued its dominance of the global satellite launch industry in 2015, conducting 29 of 86 orbital launches over the past 12 months. It also maintained its lead in botched launches, suffering two failures and one partial failure.

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Mitsubishi Receives Satellite Launch Order

H-IIB rocket (Credit: Narita Masahiro)
H-IIB rocket (Credit: Narita Masahiro)

TOKYO, March 9, 2015 (MHI PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has received an order from the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), an organization established by the Dubai Government in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for launch services for the KhalifaSat observation satellite.

The KhalifaSat satellite will be launched in Japanese fiscal year 2017 (from late 2017 to early 2018) on MHI’s H-IIA launch vehicle together with GOSAT-2, a satellite tasked with observation of greenhouse gases, which Ministry of Environment, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) and National Institute of Environmental Studies are jointly developing.

The new order for satellite launch services marks MHI’s third from outside Japan. Previously the company was selected by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) to launch its Korea Multipurpose Satellite-3 (KOMPSAT-3), and was contracted by Telesat of Canada to launch its TELSTAR 12V communications and broadcasting satellite.

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New JAXA Rocket: Meet the New Prime, Same as the Old Prime

jaxa_new_rocketTOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made an announcement to the private sector on February 27, 2014, to compare their proposals and select a prime contractor who can be responsible for launch and space transportation services for a newly developed flagship launch vehicle.

As a result, after carefully evaluated proposals including confirmation of application prerequisites and conformity with requirements, we have selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) as the prime contractor.

JAXA will begin developing the new national flagship launch vehicle in early Japan Fiscal Year 2014 in cooperation with a group of private companies led by MHI.

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Video: Japan Launches HTV to International Space Station

JAXA PRESS RELEASE

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) Demonstration Flight aboard the H-IIB Launch Vehicle Test Flight (H-IIB TF1) at 2:01:46 a.m. on September 11, 2009 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The launch vehicle flew smoothly, and, at about 15 minutes and 6 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the HTV Demonstration Flight was confirmed.

The HTV will gradually approach the International Space Station (ISS) and berth at the ISS on the 18th (Friday, JST.)

Logistical Challenges Ahead for International Space Station

Over at Flight Global, Rob Coppinger looks at the logistical challenges that lie ahead for the International Space Station over the next several years as the facility grows and the space shuttle is retired.

The challenges include completing construction of the Japanese Kibo module, expanding the station’s crew size to six, and keeping the facility supplied with a combination of American, Russian, European and Japanese cargo freighters.