Russia Achieves Clean Launch Record for Second Year in Row

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

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The outgoing year 2020 has become a difficult test for the entire world marked by the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many world economic players have encountered objective difficulties in the implementation of previously outlined plans.

Unfortunately, Roscosmos also had to correct a number of plans, including those related to launch activities. Nevertheless, Roscosmos management put the quality of production and the safety of personnel working at the Russian rocket and space industry enterprises and cosmodromes at the forefront.

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Arianespace Closes Out Year with Launch of French Defense Satellite

A Soyuz-2 launches the CSO-2 defense satellite on Dec. 29, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — For its 10th and final launch of the year, Arianespace used a Soyuz rocket to orbit the CSO-2 defense and security observation satellite for the French CNES space agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) and DGA defense procurement agency (Direction générale de l’armement), on behalf of the French armed forces.

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Soyuz Launch Delayed by 24 Hours Due to Weather

Soyuz-2.1b launch (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — As weather conditions observed above the Guiana space center were not favorable to a launch today (risk of non-acceptable high altitude winds profile at Lift-off time), Arianespace decided to interrupt the final VS25 launch chronology.

The soonest possible launch date for the VS25 Flight is Tuesday, December 29 at:

> 11:42:07 a.m., in Washington, D.C.
> 01:42:07 p.m., in Kourou, French Guiana,
> 16:42:07, Universal Time (UTC),
> 05:42:07 p.m., in Paris,
> 07:42:07 p.m., in Moscow,
> 01:42:07 a.m., in Tokyo on December 30

The Soyuz launch vehicle and the satellite CSO-2 are in stable and safe conditions.

Arianespace to Orbit CSO-2 Satellite for CNES and DGA on Behalf of French Ministry of Defense on Dec. 28

Soyuz launches three O3b satellites on April 4, 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana, December 22, 2020 (Arianespace PR) — For its 10th and final launch of the year — and the fifth in 2020 with the Soyuz medium launcher — Arianespace will send the CSO-2 Earth observation satellite, intended for defense and security applications, into Sun-synchronous orbit.

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Rogozin Furious Over U.S. Sanctions on TsNIIMash, RSC Progress

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin is protesting the inclusion of Russian Mission Control operator TsNIIMash and Soyuz rocket manufacturer RSC Progress on a list of 103 Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan companies sanctioned by the U.S. government due to their connections to the defense sectors of their home nations.

“The [Military End User] List informs exporters, reexporters, and transferors that a license will be required to export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) designated items to listed entities,” the Commerce Department said in a press release.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches NRO Payload in Record 26th Successful Flight of Year

Falcon 9 launches the NROL-108 mission on Dec. 19, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Saturday, December 19 at 9:00 a.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched the NROL-108 mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, completing SpaceX’s 26th and final mission of 2020.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of SpaceX’s 19th and 20th cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, a Starlink mission, and the SAOCOM 1B mission.

Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida – the 70th landing for SpaceX.

Editor’s Note: SpaceX’s 26 launches is a new record for Elon Musk’s company in a calendar year. It was America’s 44th and final orbital launch attempt of the year. That is the highest number in more than 50 years.

Overall, there have been 110 launch attempts with 10 failures worldwide. Two more launches — Long March 8 from China, and a Soyuz-2 from Kourou — are scheduled before the end of the year. It’s possible China or Russia could conduct additional launches; these countries don’t always announce flights very far in advance.

Soyuz Rocket Deploys 36 OneWeb Satellites on Arianespace’s First Mission from Vostochny Cosmodrome

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

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb’s fourth launch overall -the third for 2020- is the first to be conducted with Soyuz by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

By successfully placing 36 new OneWeb constellation satellites into orbit, Arianespace resumed the deployment of this client’s satellite network, which now is composed of 110 satellites in low Earth orbit.

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Fourth Flight for OneWeb will be First Arianespace Mission from Vostochny Cosmodrome

OneWeb satellites being prepared for launch aboard a Soyuz-2.1b booster from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb – the global satellite communications company based in the UK – resumes flights.

This 53rd Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate will be operated from Vostochny Cosmodrome and represents OneWeb’s fourth launch overall and the third for this year.

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Russia Prepares to Launch OneWeb Satellites From its Spaceport of the Future

OneWeb satellites being prepared for launch aboard a Soyuz-2.1b booster from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Russia is preparing for launch number six from the troubled and little used Vostochny Cosmodrome in the nation’s Far East.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket is set to launch 36 OneWeb satellites on Dec. 18. The new batch of satellites will add to the 74 OneWeb spacecraft previously launched.

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Soyuz-2 Launches Three Gonets-M Communications Satellites

Soyuz-2 rocket launches three Gonets communications satellites on Dec. 3, 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — On Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 01:14 UTC, a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle with a block of spacecraft of the Gonets-M low-orbit commercial satellite communication system and the ERA-1 nanoscale service platform developed for the Russian Defence Ministry, designed for testing advanced micro-devices and orientation and astrogation microsystems, was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region by the Aerospace Forces (VKS) combat crew.

All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Soyuz-2 rocket went nominally. The ground-based automated control system of VKS monitored the launch and flight of the carrier rocket. Two minutes after launch, the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle was tracked by ground-based means from the VKS Titov Main Test Space Center. At the estimated time, the Fregat upper stage routinely separated from the third stage of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle and two hours later successfully put the spacecraft into the calculated orbit.

After being launched into orbit, the Russian Defence Ministry spacecraft received the serial number Kosmos-2548, and the Gonets-M satellites were handed over under the customer control, who will control them during the orbital flight. Titov Main Test Space Center specialists conducted operations to remove the Fregat upper stage from orbit.

Officers of the VKS Space Control Center entered information about the launched spacecraft into the Main Catalog of Space Objects of the Russian space control system, and began analyzing and processing information about new space objects for acceptance by ground-based means of the VKS Main Centre for Reconnaissance of Situation in Space.

Arianespace Launches UAE Satellite on Russian Soyuz Rocket

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched FalconEye, a very-high-performance Earth observation satellite for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

With the eighth launch in 2020, Arianespace once again confirms the reliability and flexibility of the Soyuz launcher, which just realized its 24th launch from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

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Russian Space Facilities Director Fired in Continued Shakeup Related to Vostochny

Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov (Credit: Roscomsos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The previously reprimanded head of the Russian company that oversees Russia’s ground-based space infrastructure has been fired in a continuing shakeup related to schedule delays and alleged corruption at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

The Board of Directors of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities (TsENKI) voted to relieve General Director Andrei Okhlopkov from his post beginning on Nov. 27. A month earlier, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin had reprimanded him during a visit to Vostochmy.

Okhlopkov had been the head of TsENKI since June 2018. The board replaced him with Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov, a 20-year TsENKI employee who most recently headed up the company’s Barmin Research Institute of Launch Complexes.

TsENKI is responsible for the creation of ground space infrastructure and manages Russian cosmodromes. The company, which is part of Roscosmos, employs more than 12,000 people.

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Private Israeli Astronaut Made Fortune Selling Weapons, Security Systems & Other Services to Developing Nations

Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eytand_Stibbe and two unidentified individuals will fly on the AX-1 mission. (Credit: Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A former fighter pilot paying to become the second Israeli to fly into space late next year made his fortune by supplying military weapons, security systems and other services to the governments of Angola, Nigeria, Haiti, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eytan Stibbe, 62, will join retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and two unidentified individuals on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for a privately-funded mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Stibbe will pay for the cost of the trip and stay at the station.

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Astroscale Announces March 2021 Launch Date for World’s First Commercial Active Debris Removal Demonstration Mission

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

ELSA-d is the first mission to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal, a major step towards expanding on-orbit services and achieving Astroscale’s vision of safe and sustainable space for the benefit of future generations.

TOKYO, November 18, 2020 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in securing long-term orbital sustainability, today announced that its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will launch on a Soyuz rocket operated by GK Launch Services from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in March 2021.

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Rules Published for Competing for Lead Role on ISS Feature Film

Credit: Roscosmos

Unclear if this is casting for or competition to Tom Cruise’s feature film to be shot next year.

Dmitry goes to Hollywood(ski) as Roscosmos boss snags himself a producer credit.

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The competition has started, the winner of which will receive the main role in the first feature film shot in space. The motion picture with the tentative title “Challenge” is a joint project of the State Corporation Roscosmos, Channel One and the studio Yellow, Black and White. Filming will take place at the International Space Station in the fall of 2021.

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