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.

Japan Sets Date for Second SS-520 Microsatellite Launcher

JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will conduct a demonstration experiment of a microsatellite launch by SS-520 No. 5 as follows.

Experiment Period: December 25 (Mon.), 2017 thru January 31 (Wed.), 2018
Experiment Site: Uchinoura Space Center (Kimotsuki-cho, Kimotsuki-gun, Kagoshima Pref. Japan)
Scheduled Launch Date and Time: Between 10:00 to 14:15 on December 25 (Mon.) , 2017 (Japan Standard Time)
Description of Experiment: In response to the failure of SS-520 No. 4 experiment in January this year, a retry demonstration will be held for the development of rockets and satellites using civil engineering technology. The experiment has been approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, as part of its SERVIS project (Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System).

The SS-520 No. 5 is a three-stage rocket that is a modification of the SS-520 two-stage sounding rocket.

TRICOM-1R satellite (Credit: JAXA)

TRICOM-1R is a new generation satellite, that is produced based on the nanosatellites Hodoyoshi No. 3 and 4., which are approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as part of its SERVIS project (Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System). The Experiment Team is planning to operate the TRICOM-1R for the following missions.

  • Store and Forward mission, where TRICOM-1R stores data transmitted from the ground and forwards data to the ground as the satellite positions above the ground control.
  • Take photographs of the Earth with its onboard camera.
  • Immediate observation mission which autonomously carries out observations of the Earth immediately after the launch and the insertation into the orbit, and sends the observation data to the ground upon the first communication with the ground station.

Canon, JAXA Team for Microsat Launcher

JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)
JAXA SS520 sounding rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

Canon, best known for its high-quality cameras, is getting into the space business. It is working with the Japanese space agency JAXA to upgrade a sounding rocket to launch microsats into orbit.

The company’s experience designing and manufacturing devices such as digital cameras will help the team choose the best rocket parts as well as make key control instruments smaller and lighter.

Systems for changing the rocket’s orientation or separating stages once in space have already been developed. IHI unit IHI Aerospace is handling development of key engine parts such as fuel injectors.

The three-stage rocket is an upgrade to JAXA’s two-stage SS-520, which carries instruments for research observations. Measuring 52cm in diameter and less than 10 meters in length, the new version will cost less than one-tenth as much to launch as leading rockets and is expected to be used to lift microsatellites in orbit.

An initial launch is slated for early next year from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

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