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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

(more…)

Long March 11 Launches Scientific Satellites on 11th Flight

A Chinese Long March 11 rocket launched the Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM) mission on Thursday.

Long March 11 lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 4:14 a.m. The two GECAM satellites were placed in their intended orbits,  according to a press release from Long March 11’s developer, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).

The GECAM satellites, which each weigh 163 kg, are designed to detect the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves. The data will aid scientists in their studies of black holes and neutron stars.

Long March 11 is now 11-for-11 since its maiden launch in September 2015. Nine flights have originated from land, the other from an ocean platform. The four-stage, solid-fuel booster can launch payloads weighing 700 kg into low Earth orbit and 500 kg into sun synchronous orbit.

The launch was the 355th launch of the Long March series of rockets.

Chinese Long March 11 Booster Launches Remote Sensing Satellite From Ship

Video Caption: A Long March-11 launch vehicle launched Jilin-1 Gaofen-03-1, a group of nine satellites, from a ship in the Yellow Sea, on 15 September 2020, at 01:23 UTC (09:23 local time). The Jilin-1 Gaofen-03-1 group of satellites was developed by Changguang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd.

China Launches 4 Satellites on 2 Boosters

While the United States was focused last week on its first domestic flight of astronauts to orbit in 9 years, China was busy with a pair of launches that placed four satellites into space.

A Long March 11 booster launched the Xinjishu Shiyan-G and Xinjishu Shiyan-H technology test satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Friday, May 29.

The Xinjishu Shiyan-G satellite was developed by the Shanghai Institute of Microsatellite Innovation, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The National University of Defence Technology developed the Xinjishu Shiyan-H satellite.

The satellites will test new Earth observation technology and inter-satellite communications.

On Sunday, a Long March 2D rocket launched the Gaofen-9 (02) remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia.

The microwave spacecraft is the latest in a series of high-definition Earth observation satellites. Gaofen-9 (02) will be used for a variety of civilian purposes ranging from land use and urban planning to crop estimation and disaster prevention.

The Long March 2D booster carried the HEAD-4 technology and communications satellite as a secondary payload. The spacecraft is owned by HEAD Aerospace Tech Co. Ltd. of Beijing.

China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

(more…)











China Goes All-in on Sea Launch

Already operating four spaceports (three of which drop stages over land), China will construct a new port to facilitate launches from an off-shore submersible platform, China Daily reports.

The State-owned space conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp is working with the eastern coastal province of Shandong to start construction of a port for sea-based space launches before the end of this year.

The Beijing-based space giant said on Tuesday that during a recent visit by Ling Wen, deputy governor of Shandong, to the company’s headquarters, a strategic cooperation framework agreement was signed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, city government of Yantai, and Shenzhen-headquartered China International Marine Containers Group to jointly build an eastern coastal space port in Haiyang, a city administered by Yantai.

The project will make use of Yantai’s unique location, existing harbors and local space research and marine engineering facilities. Upon completion, the port will consist of support facilities for sea-based space missions and four research and production centers for carrier rockets, satellite equipment, sea-launch platforms as well as satellite data and applications.

China launched a Long March 11 from a submersible platform in June.

China Plans Another Busy Launch Year with Return of Long March 5

Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

After a record 39 launches in 2018, China is planning to launch over 50 satellites aboard more than 30 launch vehicles this year, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has announced.

The manifest includes the return to flight of China’s largest launch vehicle, Long March 5, after a two-year stand down. The booster, which can lift 14 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), failed during its second flight on July 2, 2017 after a successful maiden flight eight months earlier.

(more…)











China Launches for 39th Time

China conducted its 39th launch of the year on Saturday with a successful flight from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

A Long March 2D rocket lifted off with the Hongyan-1 satellite aboard. It is the first spacecraft of a planned 300+ satellite constellation designed to provide global Internet service in the L- and Ka- bands.

The constellation is being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The booster also launched six Yunhai-2 satellites that will be used to study the atmosphere.

The launch came less than a week after the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corpopration (CASIC) launched the first Hongyun-1 satellite aboard a Long March 11 booster. Hongyun-1 is the first of a planned 156-satellite constellation designed to provide global communications beginning around 2022.

China’s 39 launches was the highest number ever for the nation. The country suffered one failure when the maiden launch of Zhuque-1 booster — developed by private startup Landspace — suffered a failure of its third stage.

The United States came in second place with 34 launches in 2018.











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…)











First Quarter 2018 Launch Report: China & USA Battle for Lead

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers have been extremely busy in the first quarter of 2018, with 31 orbital launches thus far. This is more than one third of the 90 launches conducted last year.

China leads the pack with 10 successful launches. The United States is close behind with a total of nine launches with one failure. The tenth American launch is scheduled for Monday afternoon from Florida.

(more…)











China’s Long March 5 Rocket to Return to Flight in Busy Launch Year

Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In recent weeks, Chinese officials have revealed more details about the investigation into the Long March 5 launch failure last year as well as their ambitious launch plans for this year, which include a landing on the far side of the moon.

Long March 5 will be returned to flight in the second half of 2018, according to Bao Weimin, head of the Science and Technology Committee of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). Engineers have identified the cause of a launch failure that occurred last July and are working to verify it, he said.

(more…)











Kepler Communications Launches Demo Satellite for Ku-band Internet of Things Constellation

TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2018 (Kepler Communications PR) — A new era in space communications began on Friday, January 19 with the successful launch of an ultra-low-cost telecommunications satellite from Canada-based Kepler Communications. The mission serves as a technology demonstration for Kepler’s novel Ku-band telecommunications payload, and offers the best price per MHz of any communication satellite on the market.

With this launch, the Canadian start-up becomes the first commercial company ever to launch and successfully operate a LEO communications satellite in Ku-band. This highly valuable frequency band is ideal for telecommunication services, and is currently being sought for use by many companies planning on deploying mega-constellations of satellites. Kepler’s network of satellites will eventually enable in-space connectivity for other satellites, space stations, and transport vehicles.

(more…)











China Launches Satellites, ULA & Rocket Lab Flights Set

Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

China launched a Long March 11 rocket with six satellites aboard on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The booster orbited a pair of Jilin-1 Earth imaging satellites for the Chang Guang Satellite company as well as four secondary payloads.

ULA is set to launch an Atlas V rocket with an U.S. Air Force Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO early warning satellite later today. The flight is scheduled to lift off at 7:48 p.m. from Cape Canaveral in Florida.  ULA scrubbed the launch on Thursday do to a problem with ground equipment.

The webcast is available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

The delay has postponed an attempt by SpaceX to conduct a static fire of the Falcon Heavy’s first-stage engines on a nearby launch pad. The test had been planned for Friday, but the next earliest opportunity is Saturday providing the Atlas V launches tonight.

On Saturday, Rocket Lab will open a launch window for the second flight of its Electron rocket. The first four-hour window opens on January 20 at 2:30 p.m. NZDT (0130 a.m. GMT/8:30 p.m. EST on Friday).

Rocket Lab has reserved nine days with identical four-hour windows for this launch attempt. The booster is carrying CubeSats for Planet and Spire.

Check Rocket Lab’s website for information about the webcast.