And Soyuz Makes Six….

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

The failure of a Russian Soyuz booster to orbit a weather satellite and 18 CubeSats on Tuesday was the sixth launch mishap of the year. That total includes five total failures and one partial failure out of 79 orbital launches.

On Jan. 14, the maiden launch of Japan’s SS-520 microsat booster failed after takeoff from the Uchinoura Space Centre. JAXA said controllers aborted second-stage ignition after losing telemetry from the rocket. The booster was carrying the TRICOM-1 nanosat.

A second launch has been scheduled for Dec. 25. The SS-520 is an upgraded version of a Japanese sounding rocket.

The maiden flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster failed after launch from New Zealand on May 25. Company officials said controllers terminated the flight after faulty ground equipment lost telemetry from the booster, which was functionally nominally. Rocket Lab is gearing up for a second launch attempt that could occur in December.

China’s Long March 3B suffered a partial failure on June 19 after launch from Xichang. An under performing third stage left the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit. The spacecraft reached its proper orbit using on board propulsion, with a reduction of its orbital lifetime.

On July 2, a Chinese Long March 5 booster failed after liftoff from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.  The rocket was carrying an experimental geostationary satellite named Shijian 18. It was the second launch and first failure for China’s largest booster. Officials have no announced the cause of the failure.

India’s PSLV rocket suffered a rare failure when the payload shroud failed to separate during a launch on Aug. 31. The IRNSS-1H regional navigation satellite was lost. The booster is set to return to service on Dec. 30.

China’s Long March 3B Returns to Service

Long March 3B. (Credit: CGWIC)

China’s Long March 3B flew for the first time since June on Sunday, placing a pair of Beidou positioning satellite into orbit after launching from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

The Long March 3B had suffered a partial failure of its third stage on June 19 that resulted in the Chinasat 9A  communications satellite being placed in a lower-than-planned orbit. The spacecraft reached its expected orbit using on-board fuel, resulting in a shorter on-orbit lifespan.

Meanwhile, China is making plans to launch its largest booster, Long March 5, again at some point in 2018.  The most recent flight of the heavy-lift rocket failed, destroying a Dongfanghong-5 satellite. It was the second launch of the booster after a successful maiden flight in November 2016.

Chinese officials were not announced the cause of the failure in July. There appears to have been a problem with the booster’s first stage.

 

 

Chinese Communications Satellite Reaches Planned Orbit After Launch Anomaly

A Chinese communications satellite left in a lower-than-planned orbit due to a botched launch has reached its intended destination, the Xinhua news agency reports.

ChinaSat-9A (Zhongxing-9A) raised its orbit though a series of 10 firings of its on board propulsion system. Xinhua did not say how much the use of the fuel — normally used for station keeping — has reduced the planned lifetime of the spacecraft.

The satellite was launched on June 19 aboard a Long March 3B booster, which malfunctioned in flight.

“An anomaly was found on the carrier rocket’s rolling control thruster, part of the attitude control engine, during the third gliding phase, according to an investigation,” Xinhua reports.

China’s Long March 5 Launch Fails

Chinese media report the launch of the Long March 5 rocket carrying an experimental communications satellite failed in flight on Sunday.

“An anomaly occurred during the flight of the rocket, which blasted off at 7:23 p.m. from Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern province of Hainan,” the Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhau provided no further details about the failure. An investigation is underway.

The Shijian 18 communications satellite was lost in the accident. The spacecraft was the first in a new class of DFH-5 satellites designed for high-power performance communications. Shijian 18 would have tested ion propulsion and other technologies.

China’s most powerful booster, the Long March 5 had a successful maiden launch last November. It is slated to launch the Chang’e-5 lunar mission later this year. Chang’e 5 will land on the moon and return soil samples to Earth.

The failure comes two weeks after a Long March 3B suffered a malfunction that left the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite in a lower than planned orbit.

Save

Healthy Chinese Communications Satellite Placed in Wrong Orbit

A Long March 3B rocket placed a Chinese communications satellite into an extremely lopsided orbit on Monday following what official state media say was an anomaly with the booster’s third stage.

Space-Track.org reports the Zhongxing-9A (Chinasat-9A) spacecraft is in an orbit measuring 193 x 16,357 km. It is not clear whether the geosynchronous satellite can be salvaged.

Chinese media report the spacecraft is healthy with solar panels and antennas deployed.

The satellite was launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 00:12 local time.

Zhongxing-9A is designed to provide direct-to-home television broadcast services to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Save

Fate of Chinese Communications Satellite Unknown

China launched the Zhongxing-9A (Chinasat-9A) communications satellite early Monday morning, but the fate of the spacecraft remains unclear.

Normally an official confirmation of launch success would be issued. However, no updates have been provided yet, a sign there might have been a problem with the launch.

The spacecraft was launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 00:12 local time.

Zhongxing-9A is designed to provide direct-to-home television broadcast services to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

A Very Close Up Video of a Chinese Rocket Launch

How did someone get this close to the launch of a Long March 3B booster at the the Xichang Satellite Launch Center? It’s a good think that rocket didn’t go kaboom at liftoff.

The booster lifted off on Wednesday with the experiment Shijian 13 communications satellite. The spacecraft is described as having a high throughput communications system with a transfer capacity of 20 Gbp that will improve Internet service to high-speed trains and airliners. Shijian 13 also possesses an electric propulsion system.

Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Part 2 of 2

There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
(more…)