Meanwhile, the Next Billionaire to Go to Space Continues Training

The Japanese billionaire and his assistant are heading to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz ship in December. Maezawa has also booked a trip around the moon aboard SpaceX’s Starship vehicle for himself a group of people he’s taking with him.

Soyuz Launches 34 OneWeb Satellites

Soyuz-2.1b launches 34 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur. (Credit: Roscosmos)

• OneWeb confirms successful launch and contact with all 34 satellites, bringing total in-orbit constellation to 288 satellites
• Remains on track to commence service this year and deliver global service in 2022
• OneWeb continues to gather momentum, recently announcing a series of global distribution partnerships with business fully funded


LONDON, 22 August 2021 (OneWeb PR) — 
OneWeb, the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, today confirmed the next successful launch of 34 satellites by Arianespace from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. 

(more…)

Soyuz Launch of OneWeb Satellites Postponed Again

Soyuz rocket with OneWeb satellites aboard. (Credit: Yuzhny/Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — The launch of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with 34 OneWeb spacecraft as part of mission 35 has been postponed to the second backup date – August 22, 2021 at 01:13 Moscow time.

The launch was postponed at the request of the customer for additional work on the ground control and monitoring system for spacecraft.

The launch vehicle, booster and spacecraft are in a stable and safe state. The launch complex is restored to its original state.

Soyuz Launch of OneWeb Satellites Delayed

Soyuz rocket with OneWeb satellites aboard. (Credit: Yuzhny/Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Arianespace PR) — The investigations on the ground equipment at the origin of the interruption of the automatic launch sequence being completed, and the anomaly having been identified and corrected, the new launch date for Soyuz Flight ST34 is August 21, 2021:

> 06:18 p.m., in Washington, D.C., on August 20,
> 10:18 p.m., Universal Time (UTC), on August 20,
> 00:18 a.m., in Paris,
> 01:18 a.m., in Moscow,
> 03:18 a.m., Baïkonur Cosmodrome

The Soyuz launch vehicle and the 34 spacecraft OneWeb are in stable and safe conditions.

Tunisia to Send Female Cosmonaut to Space on Russian Soyuz Spacecraft

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On Friday, August 13, 2021, in the city of Moscow, a working meeting was held between Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the Roscosmos State Corporation, and Muhammad Friha, Director General of the Tunisian company Telnet Holding, with the participation of Tarak bin Salem, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Tunisian Republic to the Russian Federation.

The President of the Republic of Tunisia, Kais Said, also took part in the meeting in a remote format, praising the Russian-Tunisian cooperation in the field of space and noting that Russia and Tunisia have great opportunities for the implementation of mutually beneficial joint projects.

During the meeting, the parties discussed the prospects for Russian-Tunisian cooperation in the field of manned space flights, in particular, the intentions of the Tunisian side to train and launch a woman cosmonaut into space.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a joint Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation in the field of manned space flights.

Russia Switches to Year-Long Space Station Missions, Doubles Up on Tourist Flights as NASA Gravy Train Ends

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin has said that Russia will extend cosmonaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from six to 12 months in order to gather data needed for missions to the moon and Mars.

“We are talking about stable operations that will be carried out as part of yearly expeditions. Now this will be placed on a systemic basis with the corresponding system of biomedical researches. Year-long expeditions are what we need,” Rogozin said.

Well, that sounds good. Far sighted, even visionary. That’s what makes it so odd; these are not words normally associated with the Roscosmos boss. Something else seems to be going on here.

(more…)

To Briefly Go: Billionaires Branson & Bezos Battle for Bragging Rights Where Few Have Gone Before

Richard Branson wears the SpaceShipTwo flight suit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Fewer than 25 suborbital spaceflights have ever been conducted
  • Most suborbital launches were conducted with vehicles retired decades ago
  • No suborbital flight has ever carried a paying passenger
  • There is no agreement on what even constitutes a suborbital spaceflight

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When Richard Branson and three Virgin Galactic employees strap into their seats aboard SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity on Sunday, they will briefly go where not very many have gone before: suborbital space.

Of the 374 attempts to launch astronauts to space since Yuri Gagarin flew into Earth orbit 60 years ago, only 23 were suborbital flights. The majority of those launches were conducted during the 1960’s using vehicles that long ago became museum pieces. One ended with the loss of the spacecraft and its pilot. And two flights were unintentional ones involving vehicles being launched into Earth orbit.

(more…)

Roscosmos Eyes Crewed Flights from French Guiana, Seeks Partners for Lunar Base with China

A Soyuz-2 launches the CSO-2 defense satellite on Dec. 29, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Roscosmos head discussed launching cosmonauts from Kourou with French counterpart
  • Russian-Chinese lunar south pole base is rival to planned U.S. facility
  • Russia to begin design work on new Earth orbiting station by late summer

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos is exploring the possibility of launching spacecraft from the Guiana Space Centre in South America that would carry cosmonauts to the new Chinese space station and a base that Russia and China plan to build at the lunar south pole, according to media reports. Russia is also beginning work on a new Earth orbiting space station.

(more…)

Arianespace to Serve OneWeb’s Ambitions by Reaching a Key Milestone with 254 Satellites in Orbit

OneWeb satellites being prepared for launch aboard a Soyuz-2.1b booster from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)
  • The next Arianespace mission is planned from Vostochny Cosmodrome with Soyuz on July 1st, to deliver 36 satellites into orbit bringing the total OneWeb’s fleet to 254 satellites in Low Earth Orbit.
  • This 58th Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate will be the fifth launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome and represents OneWeb’s eighth launch overall.
  • By operating ST33 flight Arianespace will have put into orbit enough satellites, allowing OneWeb to deliver connectivity services in Canada, U.K., Northern Europe, Alaska and Arctic regions by the years end.

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Arianespace PR) — Flight ST33, the fifth commercial mission performed by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, will put 36 of OneWeb’s satellites into a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers. The mission will have a total duration of three hours and 51 minutes and will include nine separations of four satellites, which will raise themselves to their operational orbit. This eighth launch to the benefit of OneWeb will bring up to speed Arianespace’s operations this year, and will raise from 218 to 254 the number of satellites deployed for the global telecommunications operator.

(more…)

Launch 2020: Russian Missions Improved in Quality, Declined in Numbers

Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For Russia, 2020 was a mixed year in terms of launch. Once the world’s leader in sending payloads into space, the nation finished a distant third behind the United States and China with only 17 orbital flights. That figure was eight below the 25 launches in 2019, and Russia’s lowest number of the 21st century. The U.S. and China finished with 44 and 39 launch attempts, respectively.

On the bright side, 2020 was the second year in a row in which Russia did not experience a launch failure. That streak came after more a decade during which the Russian launch industry was plagued with multiple fmishaps.

(more…)

NASA to Air Launch, Docking of Roscosmos Cargo Ship to Space Station

Russia’s Progress 76 resupply ship, packed with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies, approaches the International Space Station above the eastern European nation of Ukraine on July 23, 2020. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Live coverage of Russia’s Progress 78 cargo spacecraft’s launch and docking to the International Space Station will begin at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 29, on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

The uncrewed spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a Soyuz 2.1a rocket at 7:27 p.m. (4:27 a.m. Wednesday, June 30, Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Progress spacecraft will go into orbit for a two-day journey before automatically docking to the Poisk module on the space-facing side of the station’s Russian segment at 9:02 p.m. Thursday, July 1. Coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 8:15 p.m.

Carrying about three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 65 crew, the Progress 78 resupply vehicle will spend almost five months at the station. The cargo craft is scheduled to perform an automated undocking and relocation to the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module in late October. Named for the Russian word for “science,” Nauka is planned to launch to the space station in mid-July.

Progress 78 will undock from the orbiting laboratory in November for a re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere that results in its safe destruction.

Get breaking news, images and features from the space station on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

SpaceX Delays Transporter-2 Launch at Least 3 Days

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off on Transporter-1 mission. (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SpaceX has announced that it is delaying the launch of its Transporter-2 rideshare mission that had been scheduled for Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to allow the launch team to make some additional checks. Reports say the new launch date will be no earlier than Monday, June 28.

Transporter-2 will deploy about 90 satellites into a sun synchronous orbit (SSO). The flight follows on the heels of the Transporter-1 mission in January, which carried a record 143 satellites. Those satellites were also placed in SSO.

Meanwhile, Russia has scheduled three launches to take place in the week ahead.

Monday, June 25

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Pion-NKS 1 electronic intelligence-gathering satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site:
 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

Tuesday, June 29

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Progress 78P International Space Station resupply ship
Launch Time: 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia

Thursday, July 1

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payloads: 36 OneWeb broadband satellites
Launch Time: 8:48 a.m. EDT (1248 GMT)
Launch Site:
 Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

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)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

(more…)

Glavkosmos Offers Spacewalks, Capsule Purchase to Space Billionauts

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Glavkosmos is offering space tourists the option of performing spacewalks from the International Space Station (ISS) and stays of up to 30 days aboard the orbital laboratory. They can even purchase the Soyuz space capsule that took them to and from the station.

The company, which is part of Roscosmos, recently upgraded its website to provide details of what paying customers can do when they book a trip to the station. The information is available in Russian and English.

(more…)

A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.

(more…)