Space Launch Report
Home    On the Pad      Space Logs     Library       Links




2020 Launch Vehicle/Site Standings
2020 Orbital /Suborbital Launch Log
On the Pad - Upcoming Launches
Launch Vehicle Reliability Stats

SLR LIBRARY

LAUNCH VEHICLE DATA SHEETS

LAUNCH REPORT ARCHIVE

ALL-TIME SUMMARY SPACE LOGS 
On the Pad:  Space Launch Site Data 
ALL TIME SPACE LAUNCH SUMMARY
SPACE LAUNCH SUMMARY BY DECADE
LAUNCH VEHICLE SUMMARY BY YEAR

ANNUAL SPACE REPORTS
2019 Launch Log
2018 Launch Log
2017 Launch Log
2016 Launch Log
2015 Launch Log
2014 Launch Log
2013 Launch Log
2012 Launch Log
2011 Launch Log
2010 Launch Log
2009 Launch Log
2008 Launch Log
2007 Launch Log
2006 Launch Log
2005 Launch Log
2004 Launch Log
2003 Launch Log
2002 Launch Log 
2001 Launch Log 
2000 Launch Log 
1999 Launch Log 
1998 Launch Log 


Questions/Comments to
 launchreport@yahoo.com

SPACE LAUNCH REPORT
by
Ed Kyle



Recent Space Launches

07/09/20, 12:10 UTC, CZ-3B/E w/ APStar 6D from XC 3 to GTO
07/10/20, 04:17 UTC, KZ-11 w/ multsats from JQ to [FTO]
07/15/20, 13:46 UTC, Minotaur 4 w/ NROL-129 from WI 0B to LEO
07/19/20, 21:58 UTC, H-2A w/ Hope from TA Y1 to HCO
07/20/20, 21:30 UTC, Falcon 9 v1.2 w/ ANASIS 2 from CC 40 to GTO+
07/23/20, 04:41 UTC, CZ-5 w/ Tianwen 1 from WC 101 to HCO
07/23/20, 14;26 UTC, Soyuz 2.1a w/ Progress MS-15, TB 31/6 to LEO/ISS
07/25/20, 03:17 UTC, CZ-4B w/ Ziyuan 3-3 from TY 9 to LEO/S
07/30/20, 11:50 UTC, Atlas 5 w/ Mars-2020 from CC 41 to HCO
07/30/20, 21:25 UTC, Proton M/Briz M w/ Express 80/103 TB 200/30 to GTO+

Worldwide Space Launch Box Score
as of 07/30/20
All Orbital Launch Attempts(Failures)

2020: 59(6)
2019: 102(5)
2018: 114(3)
2017:  90(6)
Crewed Launch Attempts(Failures)
2020:  2(0)
2019:  3(0)
2018:  4(1)
2017:  4(0)


Proton 073020 RoscosmosProton Launch

Russia's Proton M/Briz M launched two communication satellites to a supersynchronous transfer orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on July 30, 2020. Liftoff from Site 200 Pad 39 took place at 21:25 UTC, beginning an 18 hour 16 minute mission that included five burns by the Briz M upper stage. It was the longest Proton M/Briz M mission.

Two Russian communication satellites, Ekspress 80 and Ekspress 103, were orbited. Express 80 weighed 2.11 tonnes at launch. Express 103 weighed 2.28 tonnes. Express 80 separated first at T+17 hours 59 minutes 26 seconds. Express 103 followed at T+18 hours 16 minutes 40 seconds.

Briz M fired first to reach a low Earth parking orbit. It fired again beginning at 00:29:08 (HH:MM:SS), 02:12:52, and 09:11:43 to reach GTO. Its fifth burn to reach its final orbit began at T+17:49:30.

It was the first Proton launch of the year, the 99th Proton M/Briz M, and the 424th Proton launched since the big hypergolic launch vehicle began flying in 1965.

AV-088 ULAMars Rover Launch

Atlas 5 AV-088 launched NASA JPL's Mars-2020 mission with the Perserverance rover toward Mars from Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 30, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 took place at 11:50 UTC. The Atlas 5-541 dropped its four solid motor boosters 1 min 50 sec after liftoff, shed its payload fairing at T+3:28, and shut down its Russian RD-180 first stage engine at T+4:22. The Centaur second stage fired its RL10C-1 engine for 7 min 1 sec to reach a parking orbit, then restarted at T+45:21 over the Indian Ocean for a 7 min 38 sec burn that propelled the roughly 4,082 kg payload into solar orbit. Mars-2020 separated at T+57:42.

Mars-2020 includes a Cruise Stage, Aeroshell, Descent Stage, the 1,025 kg Perserverance Rover, and a Heat Shield. Riding along with the RTG-powered rover is the 1.8 kg Ingenuity helicopter, which will attempt to fly above the surface of Mars.

It was the third Mars-bound launch in recent weeks, all taking advantage of this bi-annual Earth-Mars alignment. AV-088 was the fifth Atlas 5 launch toward Mars, a total that includes NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005, Curiosity rover in 2011, MAVEN orbiter in 2013 and InSight lander in 2018.

CZ-4B Y45 XinhuaZY-3 Launch

Chang Zheng 4B number Y45 orbited Ziyuan 3-3 and microsatellite Tianqi 10 from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on July 25, 2020. The three-stage, 249 tonne hypergolic propellant rocket lifted off from LC 9 at 03:17 UTC. The third stage inserted the 2.63 tonne high resolution civil remote sensing satellite into a roughly 505 km x 97.4 degree sun synchronous orbit. Tianqi, an 8 kg communication microsatellite for IoT communications, likely entered a similar orbit.

During ascent the second stage, after completing its burn and separating from the rocket, performed a maneuver to steer itself toward a small drop zone. The third stage lowered its orbit after inserting the satellites, likely through use of a RCS and propellant blow down.

It was the second CZ-4B launch of the year and the 14th DF-5 based CZ liftoff.

Progress MS-15 Launch RoscosmosProgress MS-15

Russia's Soyuz 2.1a launched Progress MS-15 from Baikonur Site 31 Pad 6 on July 23, 2020. Liftoff took place at 14:26 UTC. The robot cargo hauler spacecraft flew a fast-track, two orbit ascent to the International Space Station. Progress MS-15 docked successfully and automatically after initially mis-aligning its final approach.

It was Russia's first orbital launch in two months, since May 22, an usually long gap for a country that until recent years traditionaly led the world's launch totals.

Progress MS-15 carried 1,520 kg of dry cargo, about 600 kg of propellant for transfer to ISS, 420 kg of water, and 46 kg of compressed air.

CZ-5 Y4 CNSACZ-5 Tianwen 1

China launched its first Mars mission on July 23, 2020, when CZ-5 number Y4 boosted the Tianwen 1 spacecraft into solar orbit. The 870 tonne, 2.5-stage rocket lifted off from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site Pad 101 at 00:41 UTC. The liquid-hydrogen-fueled second stage fired its twin YF-75 engines twice to accelerate the 5 tonne spacecraft toward Mars during a roughly 36 minute mission.

Ascent times were as follows. Booster separation T+175 seconds, shroud separation T+362 seconds, Staging T+492 seconds, Stage 2 cutoff T+702 seconds, Stage 2 restart T+1,165 seconds and shutdown at T+2,010 seconds, vernier cutoff T+2,107 seconds, and spacecraft separation at T+2,177 seconds.

Tianwen means "Questions to Heaven", from a poem written by Qu Yuan roughly 2,500 years ago. China National Space Administration (CNSA), which manages the orbiter/lander/rover project, provided no live information during the flight.

F9-91 ANASIS 2 SpaceXFalcon 9/ANASIS 2

The 68th orbital Falcon 9 v1.2 flight attempt launched ANASIS 2 (Army/Navy/Air Force Satellite Information System) for South Korea's military from Cape Canaveral on July 20, 2020. Liftoff from SLC 40 took place at 21:30 UTC. Falcon 9's second stage performed two burns during the roughly half-hour flight to insert the Airbus-built Eurostar E3000 series communications satellite into an unknown elliptical (likely supersynchronous) transfer orbit. ANASIS 2, which likely weighed 3.5 to 5 tonnes at liftoff, will presumably raise itself to geosynchronous orbit where it will operate. First stage B1058.2, which previously boosted the first NASA commericial crew mission on May 30, 2020, performed entry and landing burns to land on "Just Read the Instructions" downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.

B1058.2 performed a static test firing at SLC 40 on July 11, 2020 with no payload attached to the top of the rocket. At the time, plans called for a July 14 liftoff. That plan was stopped by a second stage problem that apparently cropped up during the combined wet dress rehearsal/static firing. The stage was either repaired or replaced prior to the final launch countdown.

Also on July 11, another Falcon 9, using first stage B1051.5 and topped by the Starlink v1-9 payload, had had its third launch attempt halted at LC 39A due to unspecified problems, possibly with the payload. That Falcon 9, which originally tried to launch nearly a month ago and has since been hop-scotched by two other Falcon 9 launches, continues to await launch.

South Korea received the satellite as part of a barter to offset that country's F-35A fighter jet purchase from Lockheed Martin. That company subcontracted the satellite to Airbus.

This was the 55th Falcon 9 launch from Space Launch Complex 40, matching the number of Titan launches (Titan 3C, 34D, Commercial Titan 3, and Titan 4) that previously took place from the site. While it took four decades for Titan to log 55 launches from (S)LC 40, Falcon 9 did it in one decade.

H-2A F42 MHIH-2A/Hope

Japan's H-2A launched the Emirates Mars Hope orbiter toward the Red Planet from Tanegashima Space Center on July 19, 2020. Liftoff from Yoshinobu Pad 1 took place at 21:58 UTC. Hope is the UAE's first Mars mission.

H-2A-202 F42 performed the launch. The LE-5B powered liquid hydrogen second stage performed two burns, the second beginning 56 min 39 sec after liftoff as the stage passed over the South Atlantic Ocean, to accelerate the 1,350 kg spacecraft into solar orbit. It was the first H-2A launch toward Mars.

Hope is the first of several Mars-bound launches planned for this summer.

Minotaur 4 NROL 129Minotaur 4 NROL-129

Flying for the first time under the Northrop Grumman banner, a Minotaur 4 boosted four National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellites into orbit from Wallops Flight Facility on July 15, 2020. The NROL-129 mission lifted off from Pad 0B at 13:46 UTC after a delay to allow a boat to clear the range. It was the first Minotaur 4 launch from Wallops. A similar Minotaur 5 rose from the same pad during 2013.

Minotaur 4 uses three solid motor stages from retired Peacekeeper ICBMs, topped by a commercial Orion 38 solid motor housed in a Guidance and Control Assembly. The 85 tonne rocket lifted off on 209 tonnes of thrust from its Thiokol SR-118 first stage motor, which burned for 56 seconds. The Aerojet SR-119 124.7 tonne force second stage motor immediately ignited and extended its nozzle for its 60 second burn. The 29.5 tonne force Hercules SR-120 third stage motor coasted for ten seconds while extending its nozzle before beginning its 72 second burn. Fairing separation took place around the time of third stage ignition, which saw the end of the launch webcast. The Orion 38 fourth stage likely performed its 3.65 tonne force, 68 second burn after a roughly dozen-minute coast.

The flight aimed southeast toward a likely 43 deg inclination low Earth orbit. Minotaur 4 can lift 1.4 to 1.5 tonnes to such an orbit, depending on altitude.

Northrop Grumman (previously Orbital ATK and, before that, Orbital Sciences) conducts Minotaur 4 launches under the U.S. Space Force Orbital/Suborbital-3 contract.

KZ-11 F1 071020 XinhuaKZ-11 Inaugural Failure

China's Kuaizhou 11 failed to orbit two small satellites during its inaugural flight from Juiquan Satellite Launch Center on July 10, 2020. Liftoff from a mobile transporter launcher parked on a flat pad took place at 04:17 UTC. The first minutes of flight look nominal through second stage separation, but an unknown failure occurred before orbit could be attained.  The ascent was planned to include a long coast phase to an insertion more than an hour after launch.

KZ-11, managed by Expace Technology and developed by China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp (CASIC), is a three stage solid-motor launch vehicle that is topped by a liquid "Propulsion Control Module". It is likely derived from China's DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile. KZ-11 is 2.2 meters diameter, weighs 78 tonnes at liftoff, and is capable of placing 1 tonne in a 700 km sun synchronous orbit.

The payload included 230 kg BilibiliSat and 97 kg Xiangrikui 2, which were lost in the failure.

KZ-11 is the latest in a string of new launch vehicles developed in China since 2013 that are based on solid propellant missiles. These include the successful CZ-11 and KT-2, both DF-31 based, the successful DF-21/25 based KZ-1(A), and the so-far unsuccessful DF-26 based ZQ-1. KT-1, an early solid-motor design, failed in two attempts during 2002-2003.

CZ-3B/E 070920 XinhuaCZ-3B/APStar 6D

China's Chang Zheng 3B boosted the APStar 6D communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on July 9, 2020. Liftoff of "Enhanced" CZ-3B number Y64 from LC 3 took place at 12:10 UTC. The liquid hydrogen third stage performed two burns during the roughly half-hour mission.

The 5.55 tonne DFH-4E satellite was built by the China Academy of Space Technology. It will be operated by APT Satellite Company Ltd. The satellite will provide Ku/Ka-band broadband internet communications from geosynchronous orbit at 134 degrees East, after raising itself to that orbit.

It was the 13th DF-5 based orbital launch of the year and 12th success. It was also the 5th beyond-LEO attempt and 4th success, more than any other launch vehicle family despite an April CZ-3B failure.

Shavit-2 070620 IAIShavit-2 Spysat Launch

Israel's Shavit-2 rocket launched Ofeq 16, an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite, into a retrograde low earth orbit from Palmachim Air Base on July 6, 2020. Liftoff of the 32.9 tonne launch vehicle took place at 01:00 UTC. Ofeq 16, built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI Ltd), was boosted into a retrograde low Earth orbit. It was the first Shavit-2/Ofeq launch since Ofeq 11 was successfully launched in 2016, but then suffered problems in orbit.

The launch was jointly carried out by IAI and the Defense Ministry’s Space Administration, which is a part of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure. It may have been the 12th Shavit launch attempt since 1988.

Rarely-flown Shavit consists of three solid fuel motor stages topped by an optional liquid fuel fourth stage. Payloads of only 250-300 kg are possible due to the fact that the rocket must launch toward the west across the Mediterranean Sea, toward the Straits of Gibralter, from Palmachim Airbase on Israel's coast. The resulting westward, or retrograde orbit, reduces payload mass compared to an eastward launch that would gain free velocity from the Earth's rotation.

CZ-2D Y29CZ-2D Launch

China's Chang Zheng (Long March) 2D Y29 orbited Shiyan Weixing 6-02 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on July 4, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 603 took place at 23:44 UTC. The satellite was inserted into a roughly 700 km x 98.19 deg sun synchronous orbit.

The mission of Shiyan Weixing 6-02 was vaguely described by offical new reports from China to be for "space environmental exploration and related technical tests".

It was the 12th DF-5 based orbital launch of the year, more than any other launch vehicle family.

Electron 13Electron Fails

Rocket Lab's 13th Electron, named "Pics Or It Didn’t Happen’", failed to reach orbit with seven small satellites on July 4, 2020. Liftoff from Mahia, New Zealand's LC 1 took place at 21:19 UTC. The flight appeared normal through the first stage burn, staging, second stage engine start, and fairing separation. At about T+5 minutes 42 seconds, however, about 45 seconds before the planned second stage battery hot-swap that would have transferred second stage engine turbopump power to a second battery, video downlink ended and acceleration appeared to cease. The second stage normally would have burned until the 9 minute 2 second mark to place the Curie third stage into a parking orbit.

The primary payload was Canon Electronics CE-SAT-IB with experimental imaging equipment, five Planet SuperDove imaging satellites, and one In-Space 6U CubeSat named Faraday 1.

Rocket Lab confirmed that the vehicle was lost soon after its webcast ended. The company vowed that it would find the problem and return to flight soon. The failure came after 11 consecutive Electron successes.

CZ-4B Y43CZ-4B Launch

China's CZ-4B, tail number Y-43, orbited a high resolution imaging satellite from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on July 3, 2020. Liftoff from LC 9 took place at 03:10 UTC. The 2.4 tonne satellite, CAST's first "GF" series multi-mode "civil" optical imaging satellite, was inserted into a sun synchronous orbit. A student microsatellite named Xibaipo or Bayi 02 also rode to orbit during the launch.

It was the first CZ-4B launch of the year and the 11th DF-5 based CZ orbital launch of 2020.

F9-90 GPS 3-3 Lockheed MartinGPS 3-3

SpaceX Falcon 9 performed its second GPS 3 mission on June 30, 2020, boosting Global Positioning System 3 Space Vehicle 3 into a medium transfer orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The 88th Falcon 9 to fly rose from Space Launch Complex 40 at 20:10 UTC with the Lockheed-Martin-built payload, beginning a 1.5 hour mission that included two ascent burns by the second stage. SpaceX recovered first stage B1060.1 on "Just Read the Instructions" after it performed ascent, entry, and landing burns.

During its previous, GPS 3-1 launch in 2018, Falcon 9's first stage was expended while lofting its 4.4 tonne payload to a roughly 1,200 x 20,200 km x 55 deg orbit. On this flight, the U.S. Space Force gave up some payload mass and orbital energy to allow first stage recovery, with 4.311 tonne GPS 3-3 inserted into a 400 x 20,200 km x 55 deg orbit.

Mission times were MECO at 2:31 follow by staging at 2:35. The second stage fired from 2:42 until 8:07 to reach a parking orbit. Fairing separation took place at 3:28. The first stage completed its entry burn at 6:45 and landing burn at 8:30. Stage 2 coasted until restarting at 1:03:28 for a 45 second transfer orbit insertion burn. The stage and payload coasted for 25 more minutes before GPS 3-3 separated.

The rocket stages were test fired at McGregor, Texas, likely during March, 2020. The assembled rocket performed a first stage static test firing at SLC 40 on June 25.

CZ-3B/E Y68 XinhouChina Navsat Complete

China's CZ-3B/E, serial number Y68, boosted 4.6 tonne Beidou 3 GEO-3 (Beidou 55) into geosynchronous transfer orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on June 23, 2020. Liftoff from Pad 2 took place at 01:43 UTC. The launch, which took place after a June 13 attempt was scrubbed by a third stage vent valve issue, completed the Beidou 3 navigation satellite constellation.

It was the first CZ-3B launch since a failed April 9, 2020 attempt to orbit Palapa N1. That vehicle's liquid hydrogen fueled third stage suffered a failure during its first burn.

CZ-2D Y51 CZ-2D Launch

China's CZ-2D, serial number Y52, orbited high resolution Earth imaging satellite Gaofen 9-03, along with two microsatellites, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 17, 2020. Liftoff from LC 43/603 (also called 43/94) took place at 07:19 UTC. The two-stage, hypergolic propellant rocket inserted the satellites into sun synchronous low earth orbit.

The small satellites included Pixing-3A - a Zhejiang University experimental pico/nano-satellite test, and HEDE-5 - a Beijing Hede Aerospace Technology Co., Ltd. ship tracking satellite.

It was the ninth DF-5 based launch of 2020.

F9 061320 SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F8

The 88th Falcon 9, boosted by first stage B1059.3 on its third flight, launched the eighth operational group of 58 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral on June 13, 2020, along with three rideshare PlanetLabs satellites named Skysat 16-18. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 09:15 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed a single, roughly 6 minute 10 second ascent burn to directly reach an elliptical deployment orbit where, about 13 minutes after liftoff, Skysat deployment took place. The Starlink satellites separated about 13 minutes later. They will ultimately move themselves to 550 km operational orbits. This was the fifth direct ascent Starlink flight.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15.41 metric tons (tonnes), including 330 kg for the three Skysats. The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 540, though about a dozen or more of previously launched satellites are being retired and deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg, Redmond Washington-built satellites is planned.

The first stage, which previously boosted CRS-19 and CRS-20 to ISS during 2019-2020, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" downrange. SpaceX chose not to hot fire the first stage at SLC 40 before the launch, possibly the first time such a static test has been bypassed by the company. Both payload fairing halves had also previously flown, one on the JCSAT-18/Kacific1 mission and the other on Starlink v1.0 F2.

Electron 12 (Rocket Lab)Electron Launch

Rocket Lab's twelfth Electron launched five microsatellites on a rideshare mission from New Zealand on June 13, 2020. Liftoff of the "Don't Stop Me Now" mission from Mahia Peninsula LC 1 took place at 05:12 GMT. Payloads included three U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellites, a University of New South Wales "M2 Pathfinder" communications experiment satellite for the Australian military, and a NASA Boston University Cubesat mission named ANDESITE designed to measure plasma currents in orbit.

The launch had been delayed from March 30 when New Zealand's government implemented shut-down orders for most businesses to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electron's first stage fired its nine battery-powered Rutherford LOX/Kerosene engines for 2 min 36 sec before shutting down and separating. The second stage vacuum Rutherford burned for 6 min 10 sec to reach an elliptical transfer orbit, performing a battery "hot-swap" after the first 3 min 49 sec of the burn. Payload fairing separation took place at T+3 min 12 sec. After a half-orbit coast, the Curie third stage fired its engine for 1 min 36 sec to circularize the orbit. Payload deployments occurred about one hour after liftoff.

CZ-2C 061020 XinuaCZ-2C Oceansat Launch

China's CZ-2C launched Haiyang 1D, fourth in an ocean survey satellite series, into orbit from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on June 10, 2020. Liftoff from LC 9 took place at 18:31 UTC. The two stage, 192 tonne, hypergolic propellant rocket boosted the 442 kg satellite into a sun synchronous low Earth orbit. HY-1D will form China's first marine civil service satellite constellation in conjunction with already-orbited HY-1C.

It was the year's 40th known orbital launch attempt worldwide, and the 36th success.

Falcon 9 060420 Starlink 1-7 SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F7

The 65th Falcon 9 v1.2 to fly, boosted by first stage B1049.5 on its fifth flight, launched the seventh operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral on June 4, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 01:25 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed a single, roughly 6 minute 12 second ascent burn to directly reach a roughly 213 x 365 km x 53 deg deployment orbit where, about 15 minutes after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack separated. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits. This was the fourth direct ascent Starlink flight.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15.6 metric tons (tonnes). The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 482, though about a dozen of the precursor satellites are being retired and deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg, Redmond Washington-built satellites is planned.

The first stage, which previously boosted Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, Starlink 0.9, and Starlink 1-2 during 2018-2020, performed entry and landing burns before landing on a refurbished "Just Read the Instructions" downrange. It was the first "fifth" landing for a Falcon 9 booster. The stage was hot-fired on SLC 40 on May 13 with payload attached in anticipation of a May 17 launch, but a tropical depression affecting the landing zone forced the launch to be delayed behind the Demo 2 crew launch mission.

The launch took place on the 10th anniversary of the first Falcon 9 launch, also from SLC 40. There have been a total of 85 orbital Falcon 9 launches, three Falcon Heavy flights, and one suborbital Falcon 9, with an 87th Falcon 9 lost during a prelaunch accident. Falcon 9 launches included 5 "v1.0" Merlin 1C powered types, 15 "v1.1" Merlin 1D types, and 65 "v1.2" Merlin 1D types with stretched second stages. A v1.2 Falcon 9 was lost during the September 2016 pad accident along with its AMOS 6 payload.

CZ-2D Y51 053120CZ-2D Launch

China's CZ-2D, serial number Y51, orbited Gaofen 9-02, a high resolution imaging satellite, and Hede 4, a small ship tracking satellite, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on May 31, 2020. Liftoff from LC 43/603 (also called 43/94) took place at 08:53 UTC. The two-stage, hypergolic propellant rocket inserted the satellites into sun synchronous low earth orbit.

It was the first DF-5 based launch from Jiuquan this year, following two launches by small solid-rocket-motor based KZ-1A launch vehicles. CZ-2D rockets had also launched, one apiece, from Taiyuan and Xichang this year.

F9 DM-2 Launch NASAU.S. Crew Launch

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew to orbit in a SpaceX Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020. It was the third spaceflight for both astronauts. Liftoff from LC 39 Pad A took place at 19:22:45 UTC, following a weather scrub attempt on May 27. The commercial Crew Dragon test flight to the International Space Station was the first U.S.-launched crewed mission since Space Shuttle retired in 2011. Crew Dragon separated from the Falcon 9 second stage about 12 minutes after liftoff to begin its roughly 19 hour trip to dock with ISS.

First stage B1058.1 fired its nine Merlin 1D engines for 2 min 33 sec, aiming the vehicle on a northeast trajectory off the eastern U.S. coast,  before shutting down and separating. The stage performed entry and landing burns before landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship about 9 min 22 sec after liftoff. The second stage fired its single Merlin 1D Vacuum engine from T+2 min 44 sec until T+8 min 47 sec to reach a roughly 190 x 205 km low earth orbit inclined 51.6 deg to the equator.

Crew Dragon Demo 2 NASADoug Hurley and Bob Behnken Ride Crew Dragon to Orbit

The first stage was static fired at McGregor, Texas, likely during August, 2019. It performed a hot fire test at LC 39A on May 22, 2020 with Crew Dragon stacked atop the vehicle.

After reaching orbit, the crew named their Crew Dragon, spacecraft number C206, "Endeavour" in honor of the Shuttle orbiter in which they had previously flown to ISS.  Crew Dragon Endeavour docked successfully with ISS at 15:16 UTC on May 31.

C206 Docking NASA Crew Dragon "Endeavour" Approaches ISS on May 31

Crew Dragon C201 performed the Demo 1 flight to ISS in early 2019. That spacecraft was then lost in an abort system ground test explosion at the Cape. Crew Dragon C205 performed in In Flight Abort test earlier this year from KSC LC 39A. C205 splashed down after its successful abort, but will likely not fly again. C202 was a pressure vessel structural test article. The status of C203 and C204 is unknown.

CZ-11 Xichang 052920CZ-11 from Xichang

China's four-stage solid fuel CZ-11 launched two small "earth observation technology" satellites into low earth orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on May 29, 2020. It was the first CZ-11 launch from Xichang. Liftoff took place at 20:13 UTC. Confirmation of a successful launch of XJS-G and XJS-H came about one-half hour later.

It was the ninth known CZ-11 flight since the type premiered on September 25, 2015. The 58 tonne rocket may be based on China's DF-31 series solid fuel ballistic missile, because the canister used to launch previous CZ-11 was similar to launch canisters used by the road-mobile DF-31A. CZ-11 is reportedly 20.8 meters long (other reports suggest 18.7 meters) and 2 meters in diameter with a 120 tonne liftoff thrust. Its fourth stage has demonstrated in-space maneuvering capability. CZ-11 may be able to lift 350 kg or more to sun synchronous orbit. On this flight, CZ-11 was topped by a new, wider, 2.5 meter diameter payload fairing.

LauncherOne Flight One Virgin OrbitLauncherOne Failure

Virgin Orbit LauncherOne Launch Demo Ignition (Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne suffered an inuagural Launch Demo failure after drop release from Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl 747 carrier aircraft off the California coast on May 25, 2020. The failure occurred moments after the 21.3 meter long, two-stage rocket's LOX/Kerosene NewtonThree engine ignited, sometime around 19:53 UTC at an altitude of about 10.7 km just south of the Channel Islands, about 160 km southwest of Long Beach. Cosmic Girl took off from Mojave Air and Space Port with LauncherOne less than an hour before the drop. Virgin Orbit announced that the release from the aircraft was "clean", that "LauncherOne maintained stability after release", and that the company's NewtonThree engine ignited. An "anomaly" then occurred "early in first stage flight".  Cosmic Girl returned safetly to Mojave.

On May 27, Virgin Orbit provided more details, noting that the flight was nominal for about 9 seconds after the drop. Propellant settling thrusters fired about three seconds after drop, followed two seconds later by NewtonThree main engine ignition. The rocket initially pitched down, then began to pull up, responding to its flight control system. About three or four seconds after ignition, for reasons still to be determined, the engine stopped producing thrust.

After igniting five seconds after the drop, NewtonThree was to produce 33,339 kgf thrust for about 2 min 55 sec. The second stage NewtonFour engine would then have made about 2,268 kgf thrust for 6 min 7 sec to accelerate itself and dummy payload either to a transfer orbit or to near-orbital velocity. NewtonFour would have restarted 31 min 26 sec after the drop, firing for about 15 seconds to reach its insertion orbit.

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit LauncherOne development has lasted five years. The effort included the creation and testing of the rocket engines and stages, along with installing and perfecting the drop-launch system.

Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat Tundra 4 Launch Tundra 4 Launch

Russia's Soyuz-2.1b/Fregat launched an early warning satellite into orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on May 22, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 4 took place at 07:31 UTC. After firing to reach a low earth parking orbit, the Fregat M stage fired two more times during the 4.5 hour mission to lift its payload into an elliptical “Molniya" orbit of approximately 1,620 x 38,500 km x 63.4 deg.

The satellite is the fourth Tundra (EKS type) early warning satellite designed to detect ballistic missile launches.  It was the seventh R-7 launch of the year, most among the world's launch vehicles.

H-2B F-9H-2B/HTV Finale

The ninth and final H-2B boosted the HTV-9 cargo hauling spacecraft for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) toward the International Space Station from Tanegashima on May 20, 2020. Liftoff from Yoshinobu Pad 2 took place at 17:31 UTC.

HTV-9, also named Kounotori 9, weighed 16.5 tonnes or more at liftoff. It carried 6.2 tonnes of cargo, including 4.3 tonnes pressurized and 1.9 tonnes unpressurized. Cargo included six lithium-ion battery Orbital Replacement Units to replace existing ISS nickel-hydrogen batteries.

H-2B F-8 burned four SRB-A3 solid motors for 1 min 48 sec to augument the 2xLR-7A powered core's 5 min 44 sec burn. The LE-5B powered second stage then fired for 8 min 11 sec to reach a low Earth orbit inclined 51.6 deg to the equator. Spacecraft separation took place about 16 min 40 sec after liftoff. The second stage subsequently performed a deorbit burn.

H-2B and HTV will be replaced by H-3 and HTV-X, respectively.

AV-081 OTV-6 ULAAtlas 5 Launches X-37B

AV-081, an Atlas 5-501 with no solid boosters and a 5.4 meter diameter payload fairing, orbited the United States Space Force-7 (USSF-7) mission on the sixth flight of an X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6) from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 17, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 took place at 13:14 UTC. The mission flew into a media blackout shortly after the Centaur second stage RL10C-1 engine completed the first of its two acknowledged burns.  ULA announced launch success about 1.5 hours after liftoff.

AV-081 ascended on a northeast track consistent with previous OTV flights that carried five tonne X-37B spaceplanes into low earth orbits inclined about 40 degrees to the equator. OTV-6, believed to involve the third flight of the first of two X-37B airframes, included, for the first time, a service module mounted aft of the spaceplane body. Although a prelaunch payload integration photograph of the X-37B was published, no images of the service module were provided. The service module is likely an expendable component that will separate before reentry.

Though the primary mission of OTV-6 is classified, officials did state that FalconSat-8, a U.S. Air Force Academy microsatellite, will be released during the mission. OVT-6 also includes two NASA radiation exposure experiments and a Naval Research Laboratory experiment into solar power transfer to Earth via. microwave.

KZ-1A Y6KZ-1A Launch

China's Kuaizhou 1A (KZ-1A) performed the 11th launch of the KZ-1(A) family on May 12, 2020 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The three-stage solid fuel rocket, serial number Y6, lifted off from a mobile launcher on a flat pad at 01:16 UTC. Two 93 kg communication satellites, Xingyun 2-1 and 2-2, were boosted to 557 x 573 km x 97.55 deg sun synchronous orbits. They were the first two operational satellites for an L-band communications constellation.

Expace Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, handled the launch as a commercial enterprise. KZ-1A can loft 200kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit, or up to 300 kg to lower inclincation low earth orbits. It is 20 meters tall, 1.4 meters in diameter, and weighs 30 tonnes at liftoff. A small N2O4/MMH bipropellant insertion fourth stage likely provided final orbit insertion. The fourth stage also likely lowered its orbit after satellite separation.

CZ-5B Y1CZ-5B First Flight

CZ-5B Rollout

China introduced a 1.5-stage version of its CZ-5 launch vehicle, identified as CZ-5B, on May 5, 2020, with a test flight from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island off China's southern coast. Liftoff from Pad 101 took place at 10:00 UTC. The mission carried an uncrewed "New Generation Crewed Spacecraft" (XZF Chinese abbreviation) to a roughly 162 x 377 km x 41.1 deg low Earth orbit within a giant new 5.2 x 20.5 meter payload fairing. At least one auxiliary payload was also orbited, an inflatable reentry heat shield named RCS.

CZ-5B Y1 LaunchCZ-5B Launch

The 53.7 meter tall rocket rose on the combined 1,080 tonnes of thrust produced by 10 engines; two YF-77 gas generator engines on the 5-meter diameter LH2/LOX core and two YF-100 staged-combustion engines each on four 3.35 meter diameter kerosene/LOX strap-on boosters. The boosters separated about 173 seconds after liftoff. The core stage burned all the way to orbit, shutting down about 467 seconds after liftoff. Payload separation took place at about T+483 seconds. The XZF spacecraft, slated to fly a three-day mission before reentering and landing on China's mainland, likely weighed 21.6 tonnes, making this by-far China's heaviest-ever payload to orbit.

CZ-5B is intended to lift China's new space station modules. It is designed to lift as much as 25 tonnes to low earth orbit, making it more capable than Proton or Ariane 5 and possibly matching or exceeding Delta 4 Heavy.


Progress MS-14 RoscosmosProgress MS-14

A Soyuz 2.1a launched Progress MS-14 from Baikonur Site 31 Pad 6 on April 25, 2020. Liftoff took place at 01:51 UTC. The robot cargo hauler spacecraft was inserted into a 193 x 240 km x 51.6 deg orbit. It reached the International Space Station in two orbits, or just under 3.5 hours before docking.

The rocket, named "Victory", was adorned with symbols commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over the Axis Powers during World War 2.

Progress MS-14 carried almost 1,350 kg of dry cargo, about 700 kg of propellant, for transfer to ISS, 420 kg of water, and 46 kg of compressed air.

F9-85 SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F6

A Falcon 9 boosted by first stage B1051.4 on its fourth flight, launched the sixth operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Kennedy Space Center on April 22, 2020. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39 Pad A took place at 19:30 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed a single, roughly 6 minute 12 second ascent burn to directly reach an elliptical, 53 deg deployment orbit where, about 15 minutes after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack separated. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits. This was the third direct ascent Starlink flight.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15.6 metric tons (tonnes). The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 422, though more than 10 of the precursor satellites are already being retired and deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg, Redmond Washington-built satellites is planned.

The first stage, which previously boosted Crew Dragon DM-1, Radarsat Constellation, and Starlink 1 F3 during 2019-2020, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" downrange. The success ended a string of two failed OSCILY landing attempts. The stage was hot-fired at LC 39A on April 17, with payload attached.

Qased 042220Iran Orbits Satellite

On April 22, 2020, Iran achieved its first successful orbital launch since Febraury 2, 2015. The launch placed a military satellite named "Noor" into a 426 x 444 km x 59.8 deg orbit. A previously-unknown Qased launch vehicle performed the ascent from a truck-trailer based transporter/erector/launcher parked on a flat pad at the Shahrud Missile Test Site in Iran's Central Desert, possibly around 04:00 UTC.  It was the first orbital launch attempt from Shahrud, which is located at 36.200560 N, 55.333232 E.

Qased appeared to use a Shahab-3/Safir derived liquid fueled first stage, topped by a smaller diameter, possibly solid propellant second stage. A smaller solid propellant third stage, serving as an apogee kick motor, might have been housed within the payload shroud.

CZ-3B/E Palapa N1 Failure XinhuaCZ-3B/Palapa N1 Launch Failure
(Updated 04/11/20)

China's CZ-3B/E failed to orbit Indonesia's Palapa N1 communications satellite from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on April 9, 2020. Liftoff from LC 2 took place at 11:46 UTC.  The first two stages of flight were normal, but the third stage failed to complete its initial parking orbit insertion.  One report suggested that only one of the two third stage engines operated properly.   The upper stage and satellite were observed reentering in the vicinity of Saipan, more than 4,800 km downrange.

Palapa N1 was a 5,550 kg DFH-4 series satellite designed to replace Papapa D in geostationary orbit.

It was the first CZ-3B failure since June 18, 2017, following 28 consecutive successes. The type has flown since 1996, failing four times in 84 launches.

Soyuz MS-16 Launch NASA-TVSoyuz Crew Launch

A Soyuz 2.1a launched three International Space Station crewmen in the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 9, 2020. On board were NASA's Chris Cassidy and Russia's Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Liftoff from Site 31 Pad 6 took place at 08:05 UTC, beginning a planned four-orbit, six-hour fast track ascent to the station.

It was the first crewed launch by Soyuz 2.1a. Soyuz-FG had performed the task since 2002. Soyuz 2.1a is essentially a Soyuz-FG with a digital control computer and inertial measurement unit replacing the previous analog systems. The new control systems allow Soyuz to perform in-flight roll and dog-leg maneuvers. Previously, R-7 launchers had to be rotated on the pad to the proper flight azimuth prior to launch. Soyuz 2.1a has been flying uncrewed missions since 2006 and began handling Progress cargo missions to ISS in 2015.

The launch was carried out with little fanfare in the midst of the ongoing, world-wide Covid-19 pandemic. Family members were not allowed to travel to the launch site, for example.

AV-086  ULAAtlas 5 Orbits AEHF 6

AV-086, an Atlas 5-551 variant with five AJ-60A solid rocket motors and a 5.4 meter diameter payload fairing, boosted the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force into orbit from Cape Canaveral SLC 41 on March 26, 2020. Liftoff took place at 20:18, following a scrub and 81 minute combined delay/recycle caused by a ground hydraulics issue.

The 5 hour 41 minute mission included three burns by the Centaur RL10C-1 upper stage engine, said to be the 500th RL10 production engine. Centaur used a "GSO kit" for the third time on an AEHF flight to perform the extended mission. The final burn, near geoysynchronous apogee of the initial transfer orbit, boosted the $1.1 billion Lockheed Martin A2100M series satellite toward a planned 10,876 x 35,299 km x 13.9 deg orbit. Perigee variation from this plan was expected because a minimum residual propellant depletion burn was used to maximize orbit energy.

The insertion orbit requires 6,168 kg AEHF 6 to provide only a few hundred m/s of its own delta-v to reach geostationary orbit, compared to around 1,500 m/s for the first three AEHF launches. Those flights used Atlas 5-531 variants with only three solid rocket motors. Program managers determined that the extra cost for the booster motors would be offset by AEHF's faster ascent to its final orbit and by the longer lifetime provided to the satellite by the reduced propellant needs.

It was the year's second Atlas 5 launch.

CZ-2C 032420CZ-2C Orbits Yaogan 30-06

China orbited its sixth set of Yaogan 30 triplet satellites on March 24, 2020 with a Chang Zheng 2C launch vehicle. The two stage rocket rose from Xichang Satellite Launch Center's LC 3 at 03:43 UTC. The satellite triplet was named Yaogan-30 Group 6. The "electromagnetic detection" satellites were inserted into roughly 600 km x 35 deg orbits.

The satellites may be formation flyers similar to the U.S. NOSS system, which perform a signals intelligence mission designed to monitor surface ship electronic emissions. It was the sixth launch for this constellation, all by CZ-2C rockets from Xichang LC 3, since September 29, 2017.

It was the fifth DF-5 based CZ orbital launch of the year, matching Falcon 9 as most-flown to date.

ST28 032120Soyuz Orbits OneWeb 41-74

Despite a Bloomberg report that OneWeb was contemplating bankruptcy in the midst of the "Coronavirus Crash", Russia's Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat launched 34 more OneWeb satellites into low Earth orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 21, 2020. Liftoff of the Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat M from Site 31 Pad 6 took place at 17:06 UTC. The 3 hour 45 minute Starsem ST28 mission placed the 34 satellites, each weighing 147.5 kg, into 450 km x 87.4 deg orbits. Total payload mass was 5,015 kg.

Fregat completed its first burn at 14 min 34 sec to reach a 140 x 425 km transfer orbit. Its second burn, begun at apogee 1 hour 6 minutes 45 seconds after liftoff, circularized the orbit. Satellites deployed in nine groups of two to four during the subsequent 2 hours 39 minutes, separated by Fregat ACS burns. Fregat performed a deorbit burn a little more than 5 hours after launch.

F9-84 Launch SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F5

A Falcon 9, boosted by a first stage on its fifth flight, launched the fifth operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Florida on March 18, 2020. Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 Pad A took place at 12:16 UTC. Orbit was achieved despite a first stage Merlin 1D engine failure during the final seconds of first stage flight. An attempted downrange first stage recovery failed, likely a consequence of the engine failure event.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15.6 metric tons (tonnes). The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 362, though more than 10 of the precursor satellites are already being retired and deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg satellites built by SpaceX's Redmond, Washington satellite group is planned.

The Falcon 9 second stage performed a single ascent burn to directly reach an elliptical, 53 deg deployment orbit where, less than 15 minutes after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack began to separate from the second stage. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits. This was the second direct ascent for a Starlink payload. The Falcon 9 second stage was passivated and left to reenter unguided within a few months.

F9-84 Engine Loss SpaceXUnplanned Merlin 1D Shutdown

First stage B1048.5, which previously boosted the Iridium 7 and SAOCOM 1A missions from Vandenberg AFB and the Nusantara Satu and Starlink 1 missions from Cape Canaveral during 2018 and 2019, suffered the engine failure/shutdown at about T+146 seconds, about 10 seconds before the planned nominal shutdown. On board video showed a pattern consistent with the shutdown of one of the outer eight engines. The engines were beginning to, or about to, throttle down when the failure took place. The stage continued to burn for a few seconds longer than planned, possibly 2 or 3 seconds longer, to achieve its planned velocity. The second stage then fired for a nearly nominal duration to achieve orbit.

The first stage reoriented after staging and began its entry burn, but the thrust pattern appeared unusual. The stage was not able to attempt a landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship. It was the second consecutive first stage landing failure during a Starlink mission. It was the first ground-ignited Merlin 1D in-flight failure in 774 full-duration orbital engine-missions.

The stage was hot-fired on LC 39A on March 14, with payload attached. A March 15 launch attempt was stopped at engine start at T-0 by a "high engine power" abort.

Glonass-M 031620Glonass Launch

Russia's Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat orbited another Glonass navigation satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on March 16, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 4 took place at 18:28 UTC. Fregat performed multiple burns to deliver the satellite (Uragan-M 760) into a 19,131 x 19, 155 km x 64.8 degree medium earth orbit.

The satellite, likely to be named Kosmos 2545 in orbit, weighed about 1,415 kg at launch.

CZ-7A Y1CZ-7A Y1 LiftoffCZ-7A Inaugural Fails

China's CZ-7A, an upgraded version of its previously-flown CZ-7 with a cryogenic third stage added, failed during its inaugural launch attempt on March 16, 2020. The tall rocket lifted off from LC 201 at Wenchang Space Launch Center at 13:34 UTC. The early portion of the ascent appeared nominal, but something went wrong within a roughly half-hour span after liftoff. China's Xinhua news service announced that after the early part of the launch "a malfunction occurred later".

Intial rumors suggested an issue with the third stage, but these were unconfirmed.  A video posted online later showed a possible failure during the early moments of the second stage burn.  The launch vehicle aimed to place the XJY-6 satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, a goal that would have required the third stage to perform two burns, with the second taking place about 20-30 minutes after liftoff.

CZ-7A uses a 3.35 meter diameter core stage powered by two 122.5 tonne thrust YF-100 RP/LOX staged combustion engines. Four 2.25 meter diameter strap-on boosters, each powered by one YF-100, augment the core to produce a total of 734.1 tonnes (1.618 million pounds) of thrust at liftoff. Four 18 tonne thrust YF-115 RP/LOX staged combustion engines power the 3.35 meter diameter second stage. Two YF-75 engines produce a combined 16.3 tonnes thrust to power the third, 21 tonne LH2/LOX stage. Two previous, successful CZ-7 launches, with no cryogenic third stage, took place in 2016 and 2017.


CZ-3B/E 030920  XinhuaBeidou-3 GEO-2

China's CZ-3B/E, serial number Y69, orbited the second Beidou 3 geosynchronous type navigation satellite (Beidou 3G2) from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on March 9, 2020. Liftoff from LC 2 took place at 11:55 UTC. The 3.5 stage rocket's liquid hydrogen third stage fired twice to boost the 4.6 tonne DFH-3B navigation satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Beidou 3G2 will raise itself into geostationary orbit.

It was the 54th Beidou launch for China's global navigation satellite constellation.

F9-83/CRS-20  NASACargo Dragon Finale

A Falcon 9 launched NASA's CRS-20 ISS cargo mission from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 on March 7, 2020, closing out the first SpaceX Cargo Resupply Services (CRS-1) contract and use of the company's original cargo Dragon spacecraft type. Liftoff took place at 04:50 UTC. Block 5 first stage B1059, on its second flight, fired for 2 minutes 18 seconds during ascent. Dragon 12.3, a refurbished spacecraft that previously flew the CRS-10 and CRS-16 missions in 2017 and 2018, was then powered on to low earth orbit by a single 6 min 6 sec second stage burn. Dragon carried about 2,041 kg of cargo for the International Space Station, making it likely the lightest Dragon launched by a v1.2 series Falcon 9. It was the ninth flight of a previously-flown Dragon.

B1059 performed boost back, entry, and landing burns to land at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1, the first LZ-1 landing since July 25, 2019 during the CRS-18 flight. It was the 49th successful stage recovery in 59 attempts and the 14th in 15 attempts on LZ-1. One additional landing on the drone ship OCISLY did take place, performed by FH-2 Core B1055.1, but that stage subsequently toppled on deck and was lost.

B1059 previously boosted Dragon 6.3 on the CRS-19 mission on December 5, 2019 and landed downrange on OCISLY. The stage, topped by its second stage but without Dragon, was static test fired at SLC 40 on March 1. The second stage was a replacement, swapped with an upcoming mission's stage to allow that stage to have a part replaced.

Soyuz 2-1a/Fregat 022020Meridian Launch

Russia's Soyuz 2-1a/Fregat orbited Meridian-M 19L from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on February 20, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 3 took place at 08:24 UTC, starting a 2 hour 20 minute mission. Fregat fired three times to place the military communications satellite into a 996 x 39,724 km x 62.85 deg, 12-hour Molniya orbit.

The launch had been delayed by one month after an electrical problem forced replacement of the Soyuz rocket upper ("third") stage. A new, replacement stage was used in place of the original.

CZ-2D 021920  XinhuaCZ-2D Xichang Launch

China's Chang Zheng (Long March) 2D performed its first launch from Xichang space center on February 19, 2020, boosting four experimental satellites into orbit. Liftoff from LC 3 took place at 21:07 UTC. The two-stage rocket boosted the four satellites, named XJS C, D, E and F, into roughly 480 km x 35 deg orbits.

China's Xinhua news agency stated that the satellites would be used to test new Earth observation technology. Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, a division of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, developed two of the satellits. Harbin Institute of Technology and DFH Satellite Co. Ltd. developed the other two satellites.

All 45 previous CZ-2D launches had been from China's Jiuquan or Taiyuan space centers. Xichang typically hosts larger CZ-3 series launches to GTO, but it has in the past handled CZ-2C, also a two stage rocket that is slightly smaller than CZ-2D.

VA252  ArianespaceAriane 5 Launch

Ariane 5 ECA VA252 launched JCSat 17 and GEO-KOMPSAT 2B from Kourou on February 18, 2020. Liftoff from ELA 3 took place at 22:18 UTC. After an 8 minute 39 second core stage burn and 16 minute 24 second stage burn, both satellites separated into geosynchronous transfer orbit during the roughly 31 minute mission.

Lockheed Martin Space built 5,857 kg JCSat 17 for Japan's SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, using an LM 2100TM bus. It will provide S, C, and Ku-band coverage of the Asia-Pacific region from 136 degrees East. Korea Aerospace Reserach Institute (KARI) built 3,379 kg GEO-KOMPSAT-2B. It will provide Earth environment and ocean monitoring services from 128.2 deg East.

VA252, the 75th Ariane 5 ECA, used the second ESC-D cryogenic upper stage, the first having flown on VA-249. ESC-D features a 4 cm stretch to carry about 360 kg more propellant, adding about 90 kg more payload capability. The stage weighes 19 tonnes and is 4.71 meters long. When flown, its launch vehicle is sometimes identified as an Ariane 5 ECA+.

F9-82 SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F4

Falcon 9-82, a v1.2 Block 5 variant, launched the fourth operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 17, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 15:05 UTC. Total deployed payload mass was about 15.6 metric tons (tonnes). The insertion raised the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 302, though 10 or so of the precursor satellites are already being retired and deorbited. A satellite constellation numbering in the thousands is planned. The satellites, each weighing up to 260 kg, were built by SpaceX's Redmond, Washington satellite group.

On this flight, the Falcon 9 second stage performed a single 6 minute 7 second ascent burn to directly reach a 216 x 386 km x 53 deg deployment orbit where, only 14 minutes 6 seconds after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack began to separate from the second stage. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits. This was the first direct ascent for a Starlink payload.

First stage B1056.4, which previously boosted the CRS-17 and CRS-18 Cargo Dragon flights and the JCSat 18 mission, all during 2019, performed entry and landing burns after its 2 minute 32 second ascent burn before failing to land on "Of Course I Still Love You" positioned downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The stage landed in the water near the ship. It was the 10th Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy stage landing or recovery failure in 58 attempts. The Falcon 9 second stage was passivated and left to reenter unguided within a few months.

Antares Cygnus NG-13  NASAAntares/Cygnus NG-13

The second upgraded Antares 230+ launch vehicle orbited Northrop Grumman's Cygnus NG-13 cargo spacecraft from Wallops Island, Virginia on February 15, 2020. Liftoff from Pad 0A took place at 20:21 UTC. It was the 12th Antares launch. The liftoff followed a Febraury 9 abort at T-3 minutes caused by a ground sensor problem and a February 14 scrub due to excessive high altitude winds.

Like Antares 230, the Antares 230+ first stage is powered by two Energomash RD-181 engines in place of the AJ-26 engines that powered the first five Antares flights. Antares 230+ uses a stronger first stage structure to allow full-thrust operation through much of its burn. In addition, unneeded dry mass was stripped from the first and second stages and a single-piece interstage was implemented.

Cygnus NG-13 was the 10th enhanced Cygnus with a stretched Thales Alenia Space cargo module and the seventh to fly on Antares. Atlas 5 rockets orbited the other three. NG-13 probably weighed about 7,500 kg at launch, including 3,633 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. A February 18 rendezvous with ISS is planned. Cygnus NG-13 was named in honor of Maj Robert Lawrence, the first African American astronaut who died in a aircraft accident before he could fly to orbit.

The RD-181 engines produced 392 tonnes of thrust to power the nearly 293 tonne rocket off its pad. The Ukrainian-built first stage burned for about 196 seconds. After first stage shutdown, the upper composite separated at T+210 seconds and coasted upward. The shroud and interstage adapter separated at 236 and 240 seconds, respectively.  At about T+247 seconds the Northrop Grumman Castor 30XL second stage motor ignited to produce an average of about 51 tonnes of thrust during its roughly 163 second burn. Cygnus separated at T+534 seconds into a 191 x 283 km x 51.653 deg orbit.

av087 ULASolar Orbiter

Atlas 5 AV-087 sent European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter into heliocentric orbit from Cape Canaveral on Febraury 10, 2020. Liftoff of the Atlas 5-411 variant from Space Launch Complex 41 took place at 04:03 UTC. This Atlas 5-411 used a single solid rocket booster, a Centaur second stage powered by a single RL10A-4-2 engine, and a 4 meter diameter payload fairing. Centaur fired twice. The first 8 minute burn sent the vehicle into a 204 x 237 km x 35 deg parking orbit. After a half-hour coast, the second, 2 minute 56 second burn sent the stage and its payload into a solar orbit.

The 1,800 kg, Airbus-built spacecraft will pass near Mercury this summer and fly past Venus during December. After multiple Venus/Earth flybys, Solar Orbiter will reach a 0.28 x 1.2 AU orbit inclined 24 to 33 degrees to the ecliptic, providing close-up views of the sun's polar regions.

Simorgh Pre-Launch 020920Iran Simorgh Fails

Iran's Simorgh launch vehicle failed to reach orbit during its February 9, 2020 attempt to orbit the Zafar 1 satellite. Liftoff from the Khomeini Space Center at Semnan took place at 15:45 UTC. The early stages of the launch were nominal and the vehicle reached a 540 km apogee, close to its planned orbital altitude, but final velocity fell about 1,000 m/s short of orbital velocity.

Simorgh uses a BM-25 like first stage topped by smaller diameter second stage. BM-25 is four-engine single-stage IRBM, similar to N. Korea's Musudan stage. It was Simorgh's fourth flight after launches in 2016, 2017, and 2019. None of the attempts have yet reached orbit.

H-2A F41  JAXAH-2A Launches Spysat

Japan's H-2A boosted its classified IGS Optical 7 reconnaissance satellite into sun synchronous orbit from Tanegashima on February 9, 2020. Flying in the standard 202 configuration with two SRB-A strap on solid boosters, H-2A F41 lifted off from Yoshinobu Pad 1 at 01:34 UTC and flew directly to a sun synchronous low earth orbit.

The launch followed a 12-day delay after a ground system leak forced a scrub. It was the first H-2A launch of 2020, and the first H-2A launch since October 29, 2018.

ST27 ArianespaceSoyuz Orbits OneWeb 7-40

Russia's first orbital launch of 2020 put 34 OneWeb satellites into low Earth orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on February 6, 2020. Liftoff of the Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat M from Site 31 Pad 6 took place at 21:42 UTC. The 3 hour 45 minute Starsem ST27 mission placed the 34 satellites, each weighing 147.5 kg, into 450 km x 87.4 deg orbits. Total payload mass was 5,015 kg.

Fregat completed its first burn at 14 min 34 sec to reach a 140 x 425 km transfer orbit. Its second burn, begun at apogee 1 hour 6 minutes 45 seconds after liftoff, circularized the orbit. Satellites deployed in nine groups of two to four during the subsequent 2 hours 39 minutes, separated by Fregat ACS burns. Fregat performed a deorbit burn about 5 hours after launch.

Electron 11  RocketlabElectron 11

Rocketlab's 11th Electron orbited the NROL-151 mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand on January 31, 2020. Lift off of "Birds of a Feather" from LC 1 took place at 02:56 UTC. Electron's first two stages placed the Curie kick stage and payload into an elliptical transfer orbit about 9 minutes after liftoff. The first stage fired for 2 min 37 sec and the second for 6 min 13 sec. Curie coasted until T+51 min 47 sec before performing a 2 min 13 sec apogee burn to reach a circular low earth orbit. Curie presumably again used a bipropellant non-toxic hypergolic propellant and again performed a deorbit burn at mission's end.

In a repeat test, the first stage carried a reaction control system and guidance equipment as development for future recovery efforts.

The Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) launch contract was designed to allow the NRO to test lower cost commercial launch alternatives.

F9-81 SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F3

Falcon 9-81, a v1.2 Block 5 variant, orbited the third operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 29, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 14:06 UTC. Total deployed payload mass was about 15.6 metric tons (tonnes). The insertion raised the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 242, though 10 or so of the precursor satellites are already being retired and deorbited.

Starlink aims to provide high-speed, low-latency Internet service world-wide. A satellite constellation numbering in the thousands is planned. The satellites were built by SpaceX's Redmond, Washington satellite group.

The Falcon 9 second stage performed two burns to reach a 290 km x 53 deg deployment orbit where, about 61 minutes after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack separated from the second stage. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

First stage B1051.3, which previously boosted the DM-1/Crew Dragon test flight and Canada's Radarsat Constellation Mission during 2019, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" positioned about 630 km downrange northeast of the Cape. The first stage was static test fired at SLC 40 with the payload attached on January 21, 2020.

The Falcon 9 second stage was expected to fire a third time, during its second orbit, to reenter over the Indian Ocean.

F9-80 IFA NASACrew Dragon IFA

The 80th SpaceX Falcon 9, consisting of first stage B1046.4 and a new second stage without a Merlin 1D Vacuum engine, boosted the company's dramatic Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test from Kennedy Space Center LC 39 Pad A on January 19, 2020. Liftoff took place at 10:30 ET, following a 24 hour plus 3.5 hour delay caused by winds in the recovery area.

Crew Dragon initiated the abort at Max-Q, about 84 seconds into flight at a 19 km altitude. The Falcon 9 first stage engines shut down as Dragon fired its eight hypergolic SuperDraco engines producing 58 tonnes of thrust for five seconds to accelerate off the top of the stack, reaching Mach 2.2 in the process. The spacecraft and its trunk were recovered and returned to Port Canaveral. The trunk was surprisingly intact, but still damaged since it was not equipped with parachutes.

F9-80 IFA SpaceXCrew Dragon shed its trunk a couple minutes later near its 40 km apogee, then reentered, deployed drogue and main parachutes, and splashed down about 32.5 km downrange less than 9 minutes after liftoff. Meanwhile, several seconds after Crew Dragon departed, Falcon 9 broke up, its first stage exploding at altitude while its second stage plummeted to a high speed Atlantic impact.

B1046.4, the first "Block 5" Falcon 9 first stage, performed the first of its four liftoffs on May 11, 2018. During its life, the stage launched from all three Falcon 9 launch pads and performed three downrange landings on drone ships. For IFA, the stage was shorn of landing legs and steering grid fins. It performed a final static test firing at LC 39A on January 18, 2020 with the second stage and no payload.

IFA had been delayed for months after the originally-assigned Crew Dragon spacecraft, which had flown to ISS on the DM-1 mission in early 2019, was lost in an early 2019 SuperDraco ground test explosion at Cape Canaveral LZ-1. A new spacecraft had to be completed, incorporating changes in the SuperDraco propellant feed system, prior to the mission.

VA251 ArianespaceAriane 5 Launch

Ariane 5 ECA VA251 launched Eutelsat KONNECT and GSAT 30 from Kourou on January 16, 2020. Liftoff from ELA 3 took place at 21:05 UTV. The liquid hydrogen fueled second stage performed its standard single long burn to directly insert the satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit during the roughly 30 minute mission.

Thales Alenia Space built 3,619 kg Eutelsat KONNECT for Eutelsat, using a Spacebus NEO all-electric propulsion platform. It will provide a total capacity of 75 Gbps data for Europe and Africa. Indiana Space and Research Organization (ISRO) built GSAT 30. The 3,357 kg communications satellite, built on the I-3K platform, will provide C and Ku band communications services to India.

KZ-1A Y9 011620KZ-1A Launch

China's Kuaizhou 1A (KZ-1A) performed the 10th launch of the KZ-1(A) family on January 16, 2020 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The three-stage solid fuel rocket, serial number Y9, lifted off from a mobile launcher on a flat pad at 03:40 UTC. GS-SparkSat 3, a 227 kg technology demonstration satellite for GalaxySpace, enter a low earth orbit. The satellite will test LEO broadband communication technologies for use in a planned 5G type global satellite constellation.

Expace Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, handled the launch as a commercial enterprise. KZ-1A can loft 200kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit, or up to 300 kg to lower inclincation low earth orbits. It is 20 meters tall, 1.4 meters in diameter, and weighs 30 tonnes at liftoff. A small N2O4/MMH bipropellant insertion fourth stage likely provided final orbit insertion. The fourth stage also likely lowered its orbit after satellite separation.

CZ-2D Y58 011520CZ-2D Launch

A Chang Zheng (Long March) 2D orbited a Jilin 1 remote sensing satellite named Kuanfu 1 and three microsatellites - Argentina's NuSat 7 and NuSat 8 and China's Tianqi 5 - from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on January 15, 2020. Liftoff from LC9 took place at 02:53 UTC. The satellites separated into roughly 535 km sun synchronous orbits. CZ-2D Y58 performed the launch.

It was the 45th CZ-2D orbital launch and the 44th success. The type has been flying since 1992.

CZ-3B/E 010720 CZ-3B/TJSW-5

China performed its first orbital launch of 2020 with a CZ-3B/E launch from XiChang on January 7. The 3.5 stage rocket (Y64) carried TJSW 5 (Tongxin Jishu Shiyan Weixing, or Communications Engineering Test Satellite) aloft from LC 2 at 15:20 UTC. TJSW 5 presumably entered a geosynchronous transfer orbit about one-half hour later after two burns by the liquid hydrogen-fueled third stage.

Like the first four TJSW satellites launched periodically since 2015, TJSW-5 appears to have a classified purpose, although official pronoucements say that it is a demonstration of "satellite communications, TV broadcasting, data transfer and high output communication technologies". SAST is believed to be the manufacturer.

F9-79 SpaceXFalcon 9/Starlink 1 F2

Falcon 9-79, a v1.2 Block 5 variant, orbited the second operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 7, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 02:19 UTC. Total deployed payload mass was about 15.6 metric tons (tonnes).

Starlink is meant to provide high-speed, low-latency Internet service world-wide. A satellite constellation numbering in the thousands is planned. The satellites were built by SpaceX's Redmond, Washington satellite group.

The Falcon 9 second stage performed two burns to reach a 290 km x 53 deg deployment orbit where, about 61 minutes after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack separated from the second stage. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

First stage B1049.4, which previously flew on the Telstar 18V, Iridium NEXT 8, and precursor Starlink 0.9 missions during 2018-19, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" positioned about 629 km downrange northeast of the Cape. It was the second time that a Falcon 9 first stage had flown a fourth mission. The first stage was static test fired at SLC 40 with the payload attached on January 4, 2020.

The Falcon 9 second stage was expected to fire a third time, during its second orbit, to reenter over the Indian Ocean.

CZ-5 Y3 XinhouCZ-5 Returns

Nearly 2.5 years after its previous, failed flight, China's third Chang Zheng (Long March) 5 (serial Y3) scored a success, sending 7.6 tonne experimental comsat Shijian 20 into a supersynchronous orbit from from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island off China's southern coast on December 27, 2019. The flight followed a substantial redesign and testing effort for the core-stage YF-77 LH2/LOX engine system that failed during the previous launch.

The liftoff from Pad 101 took place at 12:45 UTC. The 56.97 meter tall, 2.5 stage, 870 tonne rocket rose on the combined 1,080 tonnes of thrust produced by 10 engines; two YF-77 gas generator engines on the 5-meter diameter LH2/LOX core and two YF-100 staged-combustion engines each on four 3.35 meter diameter kerosene/LOX strap-on boosters. After the boosters and core stage completed their work, at 174 and 492 seconds, respectively, the second stage separated and ignited its two YF-75D LH2/LOX engines that together made 32.6 tonnes of thrust at 438 second specific impulse. The stage performed an initial 278 second burn to reach a low earth parking orbit, followed by an equator-crossing restart for a 382 second burn to reach the final 193 x 68,017 km x 19.54 deg transfer orbit.

CZ-5 in its fully developed form will lift as much as 25 tonnes to low earth orbit in 1.5 stage form or 14 tonnes to GTO using 2.5 stages, making it more capable than Proton or Ariane 5 and possibly matching or exceeding Delta 4 Heavy.

Rokot/Briz KM 122619 RoscosmosRokot Finale

In what turned out to be its final launch, a Russian Rokot/Briz KM launch vehicle orbited three Gonet-M communications satellites from Plesetsk Site 133 Pad 3 on December 26, 2019. The three stage rocket lifted off at 23:11 UTC. Its Briz-KM third stage performed two burns to reach a 1,500 km x 82.53 deg orbit where Gonets-M 24, 25, and 26, each 280 kg at liftoff, were deployed, along with a 16.7 kg microsatellite named BLITS-M.

The first Briz KM burn likely took place at the end of the initial ascent phase to boost the vehicle into an elliptical parking orbit. The second, circulization burn likely took place about 1 and a quarter hours after liftoff near apogee. Spacecraft separation occurred shortly thereafter.

It was the 31st and final Rokot/Briz KM launch since the type began flying in 2000. A single, additional orbital launch using a Briz K upper stage took place in 1994. Two suborbital Rokot/Briz K test launches began the development effort in 1990-91. Retirement was hastened by the fact that part of the launch vehicle's guidance system was built in Ukraine, which has unsettled relations with Russia. The Krunichev-built SS-19 ICBM (UR-100NUTTKh) is also about to be retired. The liftoff was the 159th and, for the time being, final launch from Site 133 Pad 3, a former Kosmos 3M pad at 40.5 E, 62.6 N.

Proton 122419 RoscosmosProton Weathersat Launch

A three-stage Proton M with a Blok DM-03 fourth stage successfully inserted Russia's Elektro-L #3, a weather satellite, into near-geosynchronous orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 24, 2019. It was the third success for the Proton M/DM-03 configuration after failures in 2010 and 2013. Liftoff from Site 81 Pad 24 took place at 12:03 UTC.

The RSC Energia Blok DM-03 stage holds up to 18.7 tonnes of LOX/Kerosene propellant, about 25% more than the 15 tonne capacity of precursor Blok DM-2M stages. The stage performed three burns during the more than 6.5-hour mission to place the 2,094 kg NPO Lavochkin satellite into near-GEO.

It was the fifth Proton launch of the year, most for any year since 2015. The liftoff may have been the final launch from Pad 24, one of four Proton pads originally built for Proton. The retirement, if true, would leave only Site 200 Pad 39 active for Proton.

AV-080 OFT ULAAtlas 5/Starliner Test

Atlas 5 AV-080 launched Boeing's first CST-100 Starliner on its inaugural uncrewed Orbital Flight Test from Cape Canaveral on December 20, 2019.  Liftoff took place at 11:36 UTC from SLC 41.  Although the Atlas 5 N22 variant, topped by a Centaur powered by two RL10A-4-2 engines, boosted Starliner into a correct near-suborbital 71 x 181 km x 51.6 deg insertion trajectory, timing problems aboard the roughly 13 tonne spacecraft delayed its planned Orbital Insertion Burn, planned to take place near apogee about 31 minutes after liftoff. A ground-commanded contingency burn was performed several minutes later, allowing Starliner to reach a 187 x 222 km x 51.6 deg orbit.

For reasons yet to be determined, Starliner followed an incorrect Mission Elapsed Time clock after it separated from Centaur. This caused a series of problems, including the missed insertion burn by its Service Module Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) engines and excessive Reaction Control System (RCS) propellant burn during what was supposed to be a coast period. Program managers decided to abort the planned International Space Station rendezvous and docking portion of the mission. A 48-hour contingency flight to a landing at White Sands was selected instead. The effect on future crewed mission plans is yet to be determined.

Atlas flew an unlofted ascent designed to limit crew g-forces in the event of an abort. This led to the twin solid motors being retained until 2 min 22 sec prior to jettison. Atlas burned for 4 min 29 sec before Centaur took over, igniting its twin LOX/LH2 engines at 4 min 45 sec. Starliner's ascent nose cover jettisonned just before Centaur ignition. A new two-part Aeroskirt, attached to the base of Starliner's Service Module to limit aerodynamic forces on the Centaur stage, jettisonned at 5 min 5 sec. Centaur cut off at 11 min 55 sec. Starliner separated at 14 min 55 sec. Centaur subsequently performed a blowdown and reentered southwest of Australia about 57 minutes after launch.

This can be seen as a successful launch and spacecraft mission failure, or as a failure of the Atlas 5/Starliner combo since Atlas is suborbital while Starliner essentially serves as a third, orbital insertion stage. In this case, Starliner did reach an orbit close to its plan, but at the expense of excessive propellant. SLR will monitor the investigation and update as needed.

CZ-4B Y44 XinhuaCZ-4B Orbits China/Brazil Satellite

Chang Zheng 4B number Y44 successfully orbited CBERS 4A (China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite) and eight smaller satellites from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on December 20, 2019. The three-stage rocket lifted off from Pad 9 at 03:22 UTC. CBERS 4A was inserted into a roughly 630 km x 98.96 deg sun synchronous orbit by a third stage burn that ended about about 11 min 39 sec after liftoff. The remaining satellites subsequently deployed, beginning with Ethiopia's 70 kg ETRSS 1 and China's 35 kg Tianqin 1/CAS 6. Total payload mass was likely around 2,045 kg.

CBERS 4A is the latest in a cooperative earth resource monitoring project involving China and Brazil. The 1.98 tonne satellite was assembled by China Academy of Space Technology. It is similar to CBERS 4, launched in 2014, and CBRES 3, which was lost in a 2013 CZ-4B launch failure.

The third stage likely subsequently purged its propellant tanks to lower its orbit.

It was the 20th DF-5 based CZ success in 21 attempts during 2019. It was also China's 31st 2019 orbital success in 33 attempts.

VS-23 ArianespaceKourou Soyuz Launch

The 23rd Soyuz to fly from Kourou Space Center, a Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat M with an ST payload fairing, orbited Itay's COSMO-SkyMed earth observing satellite, ESA'a CHEOPS exoplanet-finder, and three Cubesats from Kourou on December 18, 2019. Liftoff of the VS23 mission from the ELS pad took place at 08:45 UTC, beginning a complex 4 hour 13 minute mission that included seven burns by the Fregat upper stage.

After the first Fregat burn, COSMO-SkyMed, a 2,205 kg satellite, was inserted into a 614 x 646 km x 97.9 deg sun synchronous orbit less than 23 minutes after liftoff. After three more Fregat burns, CHEOPS, a 273 kg satellite, followed about 2.5 hours into the mission into a roughly 715 km x 98.2 deg orbit. Two more burns took place before the three Cubesats, totalling 41 kg, separated at the end of the mission. A final. seventh burn was used to lower Fregat toward a destructive reentry.

It was the 16th R-7 launch of the year, all successful.

F9-78 SpaceXFalcon 9 Comsat Launch

Falcon 9 orbited JCSat 18/Kacific 1, a commercial communications satellite, from Cape Canaveral SLC 40 on December 17, 2019. The 6,956 Boeing 702MP satellite separated into a subsynchronous orbit about 33 minutes 10 seconds after the 00:10 UTC liftoff, following two burns by the Falcon 9 second stage. It was the year's 11th Falcon 9 launch, but only the third to fly beyond low earth orbit.

Since its first stage was flying to a recovery landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship positioned about 650 km downrange, Falcon 9 only lifted JCSat 18/Kacific 1 to a 273 x 20,324 km x 26.9 deg subsynchronous orbit. It was the third flight for booster B1056.3, which previously lofted the CRS-17 and CRS-18 missions. The stage fired for about 2 min 32 sec, before separating to perform reentry and landing burns. The second stage performed a 5 min 29 sec first burn to reach a parking orbit. It restarted at T+27 min 21 sec for 48 seconds to reach its deployment orbit.

The joint Kacific Broadband Satellites (Singapore)/SKY Perfect JSAT (Japan) satellite will serve the Asia-Pacific region after raising itself to a geostationary orbit.

B1056.3 was hot fired briefly at SLC 40 with the second stage but no payload attached on December 13, 2018.

CZ-3B 121619 XinhuaBeidou 3M Launch

China's Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B) with a Yuanzheng 1 (YZ-1) upper stage orbited two Beidou 3M navigation satellites on December 16, 2019. Liftoff from Xichang Satellite Launch Center's LC 3 took place at 07:22 UTC. Beidou 3M-19 and 3M-20 were inserted into medium earth orbits during the subsequent four hour mission.

CZ-3B's liquid hydrogen fueled third stage fired twice to inject the vehicle into a transfer orbit. The hypergolic propellant YZ-1 upper stage then fired its low thrust UDMH/N2O4 engine at apogee to insert the roughly 1.014 tonne satellites into their final, roughly 22,000 km x 55.5 deg orbits about four hours after liftoff.

The Beidou 3M series offers improved navigation accuracy compared to previous Beidou constellations. Plans call for more than 30 Beidou 3 satellites to be orbited by 2020.

It was the 20th DF-5 based CZ launch of the year, including one failure, and the seventh carrying Beidou satellites.

PSLV-C48 ISROPSLV Launch

India's PSLV performed its 50th launch on December 11, 2019, orbiting a radar imaging satellite and nine rideshare microsatellites from Sriharikota. Liftoff from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center took place at 09:55 UTC. The four-stage PSLV-QL, fitted with four strap-on boosters, flew a roughly 15.5 minute ascent to a rougly 580 km x 37 deg orbit. ISRO assigned flight number C48 to this launch.

RISAT 2BR1, the primary payload, is a 628 kg synthetic aperature radar reconnaissance satellite. The nine rideshare satellites from Japan, Israel, and the United States probably added another 200 kg payload mass. They separated into similar orbits after RISAT 2BR1 separated.

It was the fifth PSLV launch, and India's sixth orbital launch, of the year.

Soyuz 1-1b/Fregat  121119 Glonass Launch

Russia's Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat-M orbited another Glonass navigation satellite to orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on December 11, 2019. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 3 took place at 08:54 UTC. Fregat performed multiple burns to deliver the satellite (Uragan-M 759) into a medium earth orbit.

The satellite, likely to be named Kosmos 2544 in orbit, weighed about 1,415 kg at launch.

It was the first launch from 43/3 since a 2002 Soyuz-U launch failure damaged the site. The site has now been rebuilt to support the upgraded Soyuz 2 series launch vehicles.

KZ-1A Y2  XinhuaKZ-1A Double Launch

China's Kuaizhou 1A performed two orbital launches within a six-hour span on December 7, 2019. Both launches were from Taiyuan satellite launch center, the first KZ-1A launches from that site. The launches, by four-stage rockets using three solid fuel stages topped by a small hypergolic bipropellant fourth stage, were performed from road-mobile launchers parked on two different flat pads. They demonstrated an unmatched quick-reaction orbital launch capability.

KZ-1A Y2 performed the first launch at 02:55 UTC, carrying the Jilin 1 Gaofen 2B remote sensing satellite into a roughly 535 km x 97.54 deg sun synchronous orbit. The 230 kg satellite was the 15th in the Jilin 1 constellation, a system building toward near-continuously updated coverage of the entire planet.

KZ-1A Y12 XinhuaKZ-1A Y12 lifted off at 08:52 UTC to complete the double-launch. It carried six small satellites (HEAD 2A/2B, Tianyi 16/17, and Tianqi 4A/4B) into roughly 500 km x 97.37 deg syn synchronous orbits. Together the satellites likely weighed about 200 kg.

Expace Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, handled the launches. KZ-1A can loft 200kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit, or up to 300 kg to lower inclincation low earth orbits. It is 20 meters tall, 1.4 meters in diameter, and weighs 30 tonnes at liftoff.

Progress MS-13 RoskosmosSoyuz/Progress MS-13

A Russian Soyuz 2-1a launched Progress MS-13 on a cargo mission to the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 6, 2019. Liftoff from Area 31 Pad 6 took place at 09:34 UTC. Progress MS-13 was slated to docked with ISS on December 9, allowing arrival of the U.S. CRS-19 cargo Dragon.

Progress MS-13 carried 2,487 kg of dry cargo and propellant to transfer to ISS.

It was the 14th R-7 launch, and 3rd Progress mission, of the year.  It was also the 14th launch to ISS by all launch vehicle types during 2019.

Electron 10 WDR Rocket LabElectron 10

Rocketlab's tenth Electron orbited a microsatellite and six nanosatellites from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand on December 6, 2019. Lift off of "Running out of Fingers" from LC 1 took place at 08:18 UTC. After Electron's first two stages placed the Curie kick stage and payload into an elliptical transfer orbit about 9 minutes after liftoff, Curie coasted until T+50 min 21 sec to perform a 1 min 36 sec apogee burn to reach a roughly 380 km x 97 deg orbit. Curie presumably again used a bipropellant non-toxic hypergolic propellant and again performed a deorbit burn at mission's end.

The launch followed a November 29 scrub caused by problems with a second stage ground umbilical. 

The first stage carried a reaction control system and guidance equipment in a test for future recovery efforts.

F9-77 CRS-19 NASAFalcon 9/CRS-19

Falcon 9 F9-77 launched NASA's CRS-19 ISS cargo mission from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 on December 5, 2019, one day after a scrub caused by high altitude winds. Liftoff took place at 17:29 UTC. New Block 5 first stage B1059 fired for 2 minutes 31 seconds.  Dragon 6.3, a refurbished spacecraft that previously flew the CRS-4 and CRS-11 missions in 2014 and 2017, was then powered on to low earth orbit by a single 5 min 53 sec second stage burn. Dragon carried about 2,585 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. It was the eighth flight of a previously-flown Dragon.

B1059 performed boost back, entry, and landing burns to land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship floating downrange about 185 nmi east of Jacksonville, Florida. It was the 45th successful stage recovery in 54 attempts and the 20th in 27 attempts on OCISLY. One additional OCISLY landing did take place, performed by FH-2 Core B1055.1, but that stage subsequently toppled on deck and was lost.

The OCISLY landing was required because the F9-77 second stage was slated to perform a long coast exercise before restarting to perform its de-orbit burn.

B1059, topped by its second stage but without Dragon was static test fired at SLC 40 on November 26. Both stages were acceptance test fired on McGregor, Texas test stands during October.

CZ-4C Gaofen 12 XinhuaGaofen 12 Launch

China's CZ-4C orbited Gaofen 12, a radar imaging satellite, from Taiyuan space center on November 27, 2019. Liftoff from LC9 took place at 23:52 UTC. The three-stage CZ-4C (Y24) used its restartable third stage to place Gaofen 12 into a nearly 600 km x 97.9 deg sun synchronous orbit.

The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. developed Gaofen 12, one of a series of radar imagers maintaining earth observation regardless of cloud cover.

PSLV-XL C47 ISROPSLV Orbits Cartosat 3

India's PSLV-XL number C47 boosted Cartosat 3 and 13 nanosatellites into sun synchronous orbit from Sriharikota on November 27, 2019. Liftoff from the Second Launch Pad took place at 03:58 UTC. The four stage rocket ascended for about 17 minutes. Cartosat 3 separated at T+17 min 43 sec.

The 1,625 kg remote sensing satellite carries panchromatic, multispectral and infrared cameras providing resulution as good as 25 cm in some bands. It will operate in a 509 km x 97.5 deg orbit.

It was the fourth PSLV launch of 2019, and India's fifth orbital launch of the year overall.

VA250 ArianespaceAriane 5 Launch

The 73rd Ariane 5 ECA orbited two communication satellites from Kourou, French Guiana on November 26, 2019. Liftoff of the VA250 mission from ELA 3 took place at 21:23 UTC. Lofted to geosynchronous transfer orbit during the roughly half-hour mission were Egypt's TIBA 1 and Europe's Inmarsat 5 F5. The launch was delayed 14 minutes by high altitude wind conditions and took place four days after a scrubbed initial launch attempt caused by ground power supply issues.

TIBA 1, a 5.6 metric ton (tonne) Airbus Eurostar E3000 series satellite carrying a Thales Alenia Space payload, will serve Egypt's military from 35.5 degrees east. Inmarsat 5 F5 a 4.007 tonne Thales Alenia Space satellite, will serve London's Global Xpress network. It also carries the GX-5 name.

It was the year's fourth Ariane 5 launch.

Soyuz 2-1v 112519 Soyuz 2-1v Launch

Russia's sixth Soyuz 2-1v launched with a classified payload from Plesetsk on November 25, 2019. Liftoff from Pad 4 Site 43 took place at 17:52 UTC. The two-stage Soyuz 2-1v was topped by a Volga third stage. Volga likely performed an initial burn as the vehicle headed north above the Arctic Ocean to reach an elliptical parking orbit. The stage would presumably fire a second time to circularize the orbit.

The unidentified military satellite, named Kosmos 2542 upon reaching orbit, was expected by many analysts to be similar to Kosmos 2519, which another Soyuz 2-1v/Volga placed into a roughly 660 km by 98 deg sun synchronous orbit on June 23, 2017. That NPO Lovochkin-built satellite released one or more sub-satellites after reaching orbit.

NK-33 powered Soyuz 2-1v flew once in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018. This was its second 2019 launch.

CZ-3C 112319 BeidouCZ-3C Launch

China's CZ-3CE/YZ-1 (Y66/Y14) orbited Beidou 3M21/22 (Beidou 50/51) from Xichang LC 3 on November 23, 2019. Liftoff took place at 00:55 UTC. The four-hour mission placed the two, 1,014 kg navigation satellites into medium earth orbit, about 21,500 km x 55.5 deg. br>
It was the 18th DF-5 based CZ launch and 17th success, the 12th launch from XiChang, and China's 28th orbital launch attempt and 26th success of the year, all world-leading numbers.

KZ-1A 111719KZ-1A Flies Again

On November 17, 2019, for the second time in four days, China's Kuaizhou 1A smallsat launcher orbited a payload from Jiuquan. The 10:00 UTC launch boosted two KL-Alpha experimental communications satellites into near-polar orbits. The four-stage rocket, consisting of three solid fuel stages topped by a small hypergolic bipropellant fourth stage, lifted off from a mobile launcher on a flat pad.

The Shanghai Institute for Microsatellite Innovation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) built the satellites to test Ka-Band communications for a German satellite operator. One satellite entered a 1,050 km x 86 deg orbit, the other entered a 1,050 x 1,425 km x 86 deg orbit.

It was the fifth KZ-1A launch (the third of 2019) and the seventh by the KZ-1 family.

CZ-6 Y4CZ-6 Launch

China's third Chang Zheng 6 (CZ-6) orbited five remote sensing satellites from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on November 13, 2019. Liftoff from LC 16 took place at 06:35 UTC, only three hours after China's KZ-1A reached orbit. On board were five Ningxia 1 satellites developed by DFH Satellite Co., Ltd. and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST).

CZ-6, the first of China's all-new launch vehicle generation, debuted from the same site on September 19, 2015 and flew a second time on November 21, 2017. A single 122 tonne thrust, staged-combustion cycle YF-100 LOX/kerosene engine powered the routhly 103 tonne, three-stage launch vehicle off of its launch pad. YF-100, China's first big LOX/kerosene engine, also powers the country's larger CZ-5 and CZ-7 launch vehicles.

It was the first CZ-6 flight to a lower inclination (non-polar) orbit. Upgrades to the vehicle's guidance system along with some structural upgrades allowed for a new roll program maneuver to accomplish the ascent. The first stage burned for about 155 seconds. The second stage, powered by a YF-115 staged combustion engine producing 18 tonnes of thrust, burned LOX/kerosene for about 290 seconds. At apogee, a small kick stage, powered by four 408 kgf thrust YF-85 hydrogen peroxide/kerosene engines, fired to circularize the orbit.

CZ-6 is capable of lifting 1,080 kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit. It is integrated horizontally in a hangar. A large wheeled transporter/erector carries it to its flat launch pad and erects it shortly before launch.

It was China's 26th orbital attempt of 2019 and 24th success, well ahead of Russia's 19 and USA's 18.

KZ-1A Y11Kuaizhou 1A Launch

China's Kuaizhou 1A (KZ-1A) performed its fourth launch - the sixth by the KZ-1 family - on November 13, 2019 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The three-stage solid fuel rocket lifted off from a mobile launcher on a flat pad at 03:40 UTC. Jilin 1, a 230 kg remote sensing satellite, separated into a 531 x 547 km x 97.54 deg sun synchronous orbit.

Expace Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, handled the launch as a commercial enterprise. An October launch attempt had been scrubbed in the last minutes of the countdown.

KZ-1A can loft 200kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit, or up to 300 kg to lower inclincation low earth orbits. It is 20 meters tall, 1.4 meters in diameter, and weighs 30 tonnes at liftoff.

A small N2O4/MMH bipropellant insertion fourth stage likely provided final orbit insertion. The fourth stage also likely lowered its orbit after satellite separation.

F9-76 SpaceX Ben CooperFalcon 9/Starlink

The 76th SpaceX Falcon 9 (75th to launch) boosted the first operational set of 60 Starlink internet satellites into low earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 11, 2019. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 14:56 UTC. The 15.6 metric ton (tonne) payload set a new heaviest payload mark for Falcon 9.

Starlink is meant to provide high-speed, low-latency Internet service world-wide. A satellite constellation numbering in the thousands is planned. The satellites were built by SpaceX's Redmond, Washington satellite group.

The Falcon 9 second stage performed two burns to reach a 280 km x 53 deg deployment orbit where, about an hour after liftoff, the 60-satellite stack separated from the second stage. The satellites were expected to subsequently separate from each other and move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

First stage B1048.4, which previously flew on the Iridium 7 and SAOCOM 1A missions from Vandenberg Air Force Base, followed by the Nusantara Satu flight from Cape Canaveral, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" positioned about 629 km downrange northeast of the Cape. It was the first time that a Falcon 9 first stage had flown a fourth mission. In another first, a used payload fairing, recovered from the Atlantic after the April 11, 2019 Falcon Heavy launch, flew for the first time.

After refurbishment at the SpaceX Hawthorne factory in California, the first stage was static test fired at SLC 40 with the payload attached on November 5. It was the first Falcon 9 launch in more than three months.

CZ-3B 110419 XinhuaBeidou 3I3 Launch

China orbited the third Beidou 3IGSO navigation satellite, named 3IGSO-3 (also referred to as Beidou 3I3), on November 4, 2019. Enhanced Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B/E) number Y61 boosted the 4.6 tonne, DFH-3B satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center after a 17:43 UTC liftoff from LC 2.

The CZ-3B liquid hydrogen fueled third stage fired twice to inject the vehicle into GTO. Beidou 3I3 is expected to maneuver itself into a geosynchronous orbit inclined 55 degrees to the equator, which will trace a "Figure-8" pattern over the earth's surface north and south of the equator.

CZ-4B 110319 CZ-4B Gaofen 7

China's Chang Zheng 4B orbited Gaofen 7, a remote sensing satellite, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on November 3, 2019. Liftoff from LC 9 took place at 03:22 UTC. Grid fins on the interstage atop the first stage were used to aim the first stage toward its drop zone in the second test of this technolgy on DF-5 based CZ rockets.

Gaofen 7 was developed by Chinese Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology Group Co., Ltd.. It will serve the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Bureau of Statistics.

It was the 15th successful DF-5 based CZ launch of the year.

Antares 230+ NG12 NASAAntares/Cygnus NG-12

The first upgraded Antares 230+ launch vehicle orbited the Cygnus NG-12 cargo spacecraft from Wallops Island, Virginia on November 2, 2019. Liftoff from Pad 0A took place at 13:59 UTC. It was the third Northrop Grumman Antares launch and the 11th Antares liftoff. Antares previously launched five times for Orbital and three times for Orbital ATK.

Like the five previous Antares 230 vehicles, the Antares 230+ first stage is powered by two Energomash RD-181 engines in place of the AJ-26 engines that powered the first five Antares flights. The change was made after an AJ-26 turbopump failure triggered an explosion above Pad 0A in 2014. Antares 230+ uses a stronger first stage structure to allow full-thrust operation through much of its burn. In addition, unneeded dry mass was stripped from the first and second stages and a single-piece interstage was used.

Cygnus NG-12 was the ninth enhanced Cygnus with a stretched Thales Alenia Space cargo module, but only the sixth to fly on Antares. Atlas 5 rockets orbited the other three. NG-12 probably weighed about 7,600 kg at launch, including a record 3,729 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. Cygnus NG-12 was named in honor of Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the Moon.

The RD-181 engines produced a total of about 392 tonnes of thrust (864,000 lbf) at liftoff to power the nearly 293 tonne rocket off its pad. The Ukrainian-built first stage burned for about 196 seconds. After first stage shutdown, the upper composite separated and coasted upward. The shroud and interstage adapter separated, then at about T+245 seconds the Northrop Grumman Castor 30XL second stage motor ignited to produce an average of about 51 tonnes of thrust during its roughly 163 second burn. Cygnus separated at T+536 seconds into a roughly 183 x 270 km x 51.652 deg orbit. A November 4 docking with ISS is planned.

CZ-3B/E with TJSW 4 (Xinhua)CZ-3B Launch

China's CZ-3B/Enhanced orbited the fourth Tongxin Jishu Shiyan Weixing (TJSW 4) communications engineering test satellite from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on October 17, 2019. Liftoff from LC 3 took place at 15:21 UTC. The launch vehicle's LH2/LOX fueled third stage fired twice to send TJSW 4 into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

It was the 14th successful DF-5 based CZ launch of the year in 15 attempts, both world-leading numbers.

Electron 9 (Rocket Lab)Electron No. 9

Rocketlab's ninth Electron orbited a technology demonstration satellite for Silicon Valley's Astro Digital named Palisade from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand on October 17, 2019. Lift off of "As the Crow Flies" from LC 1 took place at 01:22 UTC. After Electron's first two stages placed the Curie kick stage and payload into an elliptical transfer orbit about 9 minutes 5 seconds after liftoff, Curie perfomed an apogee burn before releasing the 16U CubeSat Palisade into a 1,162 km 1,223 km, 87.82 deg orbit at about T+71 minutes. Palisade probably weighed less than 22 kg.

Kurie used a bipropellant non-toxic hypergolic propellant for the first time during this flight, replacing monopropellant. The stage performed a deorbit burn at mission's end.

Pegasus/ICON NASAPegasus Orbits ICON

Northrop Grumman's Pegasus XL successfully boosted NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) into low earth orbit on October 11, 2019 after a drop launch from the company's Stargazer L-1011 aircraft off Florida's coast. Stargazer took off from the Cape Canaveral Skid Strip at 00:33 UTC. A planned 01:30 UTC drop launch was aborted at the last minute by air to ground communication issues. The launch took place at 02:00 UTC on a second attempt after Stargazer circled back to reenter the drop box, located about 174 km east of the Cape. Stargazer was flying at an altitude of about 11.9 km at Mach 0.82 at the time of the drop.

The 24 tonne rocket fired its three solid rocket motor stages in succession during its 11 minute ascent to a 574 x 615 km x 26.99 deg orbit. The 288 kg Northrop Grumman-built satellite will study the interaction of atmospheric weather with plasma in the ionosphere. The launch had been delayed for more than 1.5 years due to problems with Pegasus fin steering equipment.

Northrop Grumman has bought back two Pegasus XL rockets from Stratolaunch. The company plans to offer at least these two Pegasus for launch contracts while maintaining Stargazer, the last flying L-1011, for 5-10 or more years.

It was the 44th Pegasus launch and the 30th consecutive success. The flight was the first U.S. orbital launch in 6.5 weeks.

Proton 100919 RoscosmosProton ILS Launch

Russia's Proton M/Briz M orbited a communications satellite and the first commercial mission extenstion vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome on October 09, 2019. The "Phase 4" Proton M variant (serial no. 937-04), flying the first International Launch Services commercial mission in two years, lifted off from Baikonur's Area 200 Pad 39 at 10:17 UTC to begin a 16 hour mission that included five burns by the Briz M upper stage. The upper stage aimed the combined 5,190 kg payload toward a 12,050 x 65,000 km x 13.4 deg orbit.

Northrop Grumman assembled both satellites. Eutelsat 5 West B, a 2,864 kg Geostar 2e model, includes an Airbus Defence and Space payload with 35 Ku-band transponders. Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV 1) is a Geostar 3 based satellite that will attach itselt to Intelsat 901, a satellite that has nearly depleted its on-board propellant after years in orbit and is moving to a GEO "graveyard" orbit where the rendevous will occur. MEV 1 will then provide propulsion to extend Intelsat 901's mission by at least five years.

CZ-4C 100419CZ-4C Orbits Gaofen 10R

China's Chang Zheng (Long March) 4C orbited Gaofen 10R, an earth observation satellite, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on October 4, 2019. The three-stage rocket lifted off from LC 9 at 18:50 UTC. It successfully boosted the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology 5000B2 series satellite into a sun ynchronous orbit. Gaofen 10R appears to be a replacement for Gaofen 10, which failed to orbit in 2016.

It was the 14th DF-5 based CZ launch of the year and the 13th success.

Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat Tundra 3Russia Launches Early Warning Satellite

Russia's Soyuz-2.1b/Fregat launched an early warning satellite into orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on September 26, 2019. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 4 took place at 07:46 UTC. After reaching a low earth parking orbit, the Fregat M stage fired multiple times to lift its payload into an elliptical “Molniya" orbit of approximately 1,620 x 38,500 km x 63.4 deg.

The satellite, named Kosmos 2541, is the third Tundra (EKS type) early warning satellite designed to detect ballistic missile launches.

Soyuz FG Soyuz MS-15 NASASoyuz FG Finale

The final Soyuz FG launched Soyuz MS-15 from Baikonur's Site 1 Pad 5 on September 25, 2019. On board the ISS-bound spacecraft were Russia's Oleg Skripochka, NASA's Jessica Meir, and Hazzaa AlMansoori from the United Arab Emirates. Liftoff took palce at 13:57 UTC. The spacecraft docked with ISS at 19:42 UTC.

It was the 60th 2.5-stage Soyuz FG launch since the type premiered in 2001. Ten additional Soyuz FG/Fregat launches also took place. Soyuz FG was an upgraded version of the long-flown Soyuz-U. It used updated RD-107A/RD-108A booster and core stage engines, but retained an analog flight control system. Only one failure occurred, during the launch of Soyuz MS-10 in 2018 when one of the first stage boosters separated improperly. In that instance, the crew were saved by the Soyuz spacecraft abort systems.

With crewed and cargo flights to ISS now switching to Soyuz 2.1, which uses a digital flight control system and flies from Site 31 Pad 6 at Baikonur, historic Site 1 Pad 5 will host no launches for the foreseeable future. Plans exist to upgrade Pad 5, but they may not be realized for years, if ever.

CZ-2D 092519CZ-2D/Yunhai 1-02

China's CZ-2D orbited the second Yunhai 1 weather satellite from Jiuquan on September 25, 2019. Liftoff from LC 43/603 (also called 43/94) took place at 00:54 UTC. The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) satellite separated into a sun synchronous low earth orbit.

It was the first DF-5 based launch from Jiuquan this year, following six launches by small solid-rocket-motor based launch vehicles. China's five launches during the past month have driven the nation's orbital launch total for the year to a world-leading 20, including two failures.

H-2B F8 JAXAH-2B Launches HTV-8

The eighth H-2B boosted the HTV-8 cargo hauling spacecraft for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) toward the International Space Station from Tanegashima on September 24, 2019. Liftoff from Yoshinobu Pad 2 took place at 16:05 UTC.

HTV-8, also named Kounotori 8, weighed roughly 16.5 tonnes at liftoff. It carried 5.3 tonnes of cargo, including 3.4 tonnes pressurized and 1.9 tonnes unpressurized. Cargo included six lithium-ion battery Orbital Replacement Units to replace existing ISS nickel-hydrogen batteries.

H-2B F-8 burned four SRB-A3 solid motors for 1 min 48 sec to augument the 2xLR-7A powered core's 5 min 44 sec burn. The LE-5B powered second stage then fired for 8 min 11 sec to reach a low Earth orbit inclined 51.6 deg to the equator. Spacecraft separation took place about 15 min 5 sec after liftoff. The second stage subsequently performed a deorbit burn.

The launch followed a September 10 launch attempt that was aborted after a fire ignited on the launch pad beneath the rocket. Investigation found that leaking liquid oxygen had likely been ignited by static electricity.

CZ-3B 092219Beidou 3M Launch

China's Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B) with a Yuanzheng 1 (YZ-1) upper stage orbited two more Beidou 3M navigation satellites on September 22, 2019. Liftoff from Xichang Satellite Launch Center's LC 2 took place at 21:10 UTC. Beidou 3M-23 and 3M-24 were inserted into medium earth orbits during the subsequent four hour mission.

CZ-3B's liquid hydrogen fueled third stage fired twice to inject the vehicle into a transfer orbit. The hypergolic propellant YZ-1 upper stage then fired its low thrust UDMH/N2O4 engine at apogee to insert the roughly 1.014 tonne satellites into their final, roughly 22,000 km x 55 deg orbits about four hours after liftoff.

The Beidou 3M series offers improved navigation accuracy compared to previous Beidou constellations. Plans call for more than 30 Beidou 3 satellites to be orbited by 2020.

It was the 12th DF-5 based CZ launch of the year, and the fourth carrying Beidou satellites.


CZ-11 Y8 091919CZ-11 Launch

China's four-stage solid fuel CZ-11 launched five small remote sensing satellites, including one named Zhuhai 1, into a roughly 500 km sun synchronous low earth orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on September 19, 2019. Liftoff from a canister attached to a mobile transporter/erector parked on a flat pad at 40.9691 N 100.343 E took place at 06:42 UTC. The site was one of two flat pads built in recent years northeast of the CZ-2F launch site.

Zhuhai 1 is a video-based earth observation satellite. Four additional "hyperspectral" satellites, identified as "OHS-1" types, were also orbited. They are designed to provide lower resolution imaging of the Earth's surface. The complete payload comprises Zhuhai 1 Group 3, Groups 1 and 2 having launched in 2017 and 2018.

It was the eighth known CZ-11 flight since the type premeired on September 25, 2015. The 58 tonne rocket may be based on China's DF-31 series solid fuel ballistic missile, because the canister used to launch CZ-11 is similar to launch canisters used by the road-mobile DF-31A. CZ-11 is reportedly 20.8 meters long (other reports suggest 18.7 meters) and 2 meters in diameter with a 120 tonne liftoff thrust. Its fourth stage has demonstrated in-space maneuvering capability. CZ-11 may be able to lift 350 kg or more to sun synchronous orbit.

CZ-4B 091219  XinhuaCZ-4B Returns

China's Chang Zheng (CZ) 4B orbited a remote sensing satellite named Ziyuan 1 02D (ZY-1 02D) on September 12, 2019, returning the CZ-4 family to service after a May 22 CZ-4C launch failure. Two smaller satellites, BNU-1/Jingshi-1 and Taurus-1, also rode to orbit. Liftoff from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center's LC 9 took place at 03:26 UTC. The three-stage storable propellant rocket boosted the satellites into roughly 733 x 751 km x 98.58 deg sun synchronous orbits.

The May 22 CZ-4C launch reportedly failed due to structural resonance between the third stage its relatively heavy Weixing 33 remote sensing payload, possibly during the reignition of the third stage. The CZ-4B third stage is similar to the CZ-4C third stage, but uses a single-start YF40B engine while CZ-4C has a restartable YF40B engine.

VV15 ArianespaceVega Failure Investigation

On September 4, 2019, an Independent Inquiry Commission submitted its findings about the July 10, 2019 Vega VV15 launch failure. The Commission found the most likely cause to be a "thermo-structural failure in the forward dome area of the (second stage) Z23 motor".

Vega VV15's P80 first stage performed normally. The Zefiro 23 second stage ignited and also performed normally for 14 seconds before the failure occurred. At T+130.85 seconds, a "sudden and violent event" caused the launch vehicle to break into two parts consisting of the Z23 and the remainder of the vehicle. Tracking showed a trajectory deviation from normal at T+135 seconds. At T+213.66 seconds, range safety issued a flight termination command.

It was the first Vega failure, following 14 successful flights.

The Commission proposed testing to verify its findings and corrective actions designed to return Vega to service during the first quarter of 2020.

KZ-1A 083019Kuaizhou 1A Launch

China's Kuaizhou 1A (KZ-1A), an improved variant of previously-flown Kuaizhou 1, flew for the third time on August 30, 2019 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The three-stage solid fuel rocket lifted off from a mobile launcher on a flat pad at 23:41 UTC. Two small satellites, named KX-09 and Xiaoxiang 1-07, separated into roughly 600 km sun synchronous orbits.

Expace Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, handled the launch as a commercial enterprise.

KZ-1A can loft 200kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit, or up to 300 kg to lower inclincation low earth orbits. It is 20 meters tall, 1.4 meters in diameter, and weighs 30 tonnes at liftoff.

A small N2O4/MMH bipropellant insertion fourth stage provided final orbit insertion using two burns. The first burn began at T+5 min 8 sec and lasted for 5 min 6 sec. The second burn began at T+25 min 31 sec and lasted for about one minute. Spacecraft separation began about 27 minutes after liftoff. The fourth stage lowered its orbit after satellite separation.

Rokot 083019 Rokot Launch

A Russian Rokot/Briz KM launch vehicle orbited Geo-IK-2 No. 13L, a geodetic satellite, from Plesetsk Area 133 Pad 3 on August 30, 2019. The three stage rocket lifted off at 14:00 UTC. Its Briz-KM third stage performed two burns to reach a 941 x 958 km x 99.27 deg orbit. Geo-IK-2 No. 13L was named Kosmos 2540 upon reaching orbit.

The first Briz KM burn likely took place at the end of the initial ascent phase to boost the vehicle into an elliptical parking orbit. The second, circulization burn likely took place about 1.2 hours after liftoff near apogee. Spacecraft separation occurred shortly thereafter.

It was the year's first Rokot launch and the 30th Rokot/Briz KM launch since the type began flying in 2000. A single, additional orbital launch using a Briz K upper stage took place in 1994. Two suborbital Rokot/Briz K test launches began the development effort in 1990-91. Only two more launches of the UR-100 based Rokot launcher are expected before the type is retired.

Delta 384 ULADelta 4M Finale

The 29th and final Delta 4 Medium launched GPS 3-2 from Cape Canaveral on August 22, 2019. Liftoff of the Delta 4M+4,2 variant from Space Launch Complex 37B took place at 13:06 UTC. The 3,705 kg Lockheed Martin built navigation satellite separated into a 1,200 x 20,185 km x 55 deg orbit just under two hours after liftoff, following two burns by the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage RL10B-2 engine.

After a 1 min 40 sec SRM boost phase paralleling the 3 min 56 RS-68A first stage burn, the second stage fired for 9 min 16 sec to reach an elliptical parking orbit. After a 53 minute coast, the second stage performed a 3 min 28 sec apogee-raising burn to reach the deployment orbit. The stage was slated to perform a final deorbit burn after payload deployment.

It was the 18th and final flight of a 4 meter diameter Delta 4 second stage. Of these, three flew on two-stage Delta 4 Mediums while the other 15 rode Delta 4M+4,2 versions boosted by two GEM-60 strap-on motors. An additional eight Delta 4M+5,4 and three Delta 4M+5,2 rockets flew using the 5 meter second stage that continues to fly on Delta 4 Heavy.

It was also the final flight of the GEM-60 series solid rocket motors. Larger GEM-63 will boost Atlas and Vulcan in coming years.

The Boeing-developed Delta 4M first flew in 2002. Since then, it has launched U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) missions from the Cape and from Vandenberg AFB SLC 6, experiencing no failures during its life. Triple-core Delta 4 Heavy, which has flown 11 times with one failure since its 2004 debut, remains active for the next few years.

Soyuz MS-14 RoskosmosUncrewed Soyuz MS-14

An uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft was orbited from Baikonur on August 22, 2019 in a test of the Soyuz 2-1a launch vehicle that will soon replace Soyuz FG for crew launch. Liftoff from Area 31 Pad 6 took place at 03:38 UTC. It was the first uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft flight since Soyuz TM-1 in 1986. The spacecraft carried 657 kg of cargo for the International Space Station, including the 160 kg instrumented "Skybot F-850" robot that rode in the center seat.  The robot will enter the station for additional experiments before returning in the Soyuz capsule for recovery.

Soyuz 2-1a is equipped with an upgraded digital flight control system and improved engines. One more Soyuz FG, which uses analog flight control, remains. It will launch Soyuz MS-15 with crew in September in what is the final planned launch from historic Site 1 Pad 5. The site hosted Yuri Gagarin's orbital launch during April 1961, among many other history-making launches.

Soyuz 2-1a already has an extensive history, first flying on a suborbital test in 2004. Since then, it has boosted 39 orbital attempts, including 22 with Fregat upper stages and one with a Volga upper stage. It has launched 10 Progress ISS cargo missions since 2014. The second Progress launch, in 2015, failed when a resonance developed at the end of the third stage burn, resulting in a bad spacecraft separation. Another third stage failure affected the 2009 Fregat/Meridian 2 mission from Plesetsk.

Electron 8 Rocket LabElectron Launch

Rocket Lab's eighth Electron smallsat launcher orbited four satellites from Mahia, New Zealand on August 19, 2019. Liftoff from Launch Complex 1 took place at 12:12 UTC. The "Look Ma No Hands" mission carried 56 kg Black Sky Global 4, two U.S. Air Force Pearl White six-unit CubeSats, and French startup UnSeenLabs CubeSat BRO-ONE into a 540 km x 45 deg orbit during a 53.5 minute mission. Total mission payload mass was probably less than 80 kg.

Electron's Curie third stage fired for about 87 seconds beginning 50 minutes 21 seconds after liftoff, following a more than 41 minute coast to first apogee, to reach the insertion orbit.

The launch took place after a three-day delay caused by high winds.

CZ-3B/E 081919CZ-3B/E ChinaSat 18 Launch

China's CZ-3B/E launched Zhongxing 18 (ChinaSat 18), a communications satellite, from Xichang satellite launch center on August 19, 2019. The "Enhanced" CZ-3B launched from LC 2 at 12:03 UTC. The rocket's liquid hydrogen-fueled upper stage aimed the DFH-4E series satellite toward a geosynchronous transfer orbit about one half-hour after liftoff, but no confirmation of a successful satellite separation was provided as the hours passed. 

On August 20, officials revealed that the launch had been successful and the satellite had separated, but the satellite was malfunctioning. Troubleshooting was underway.   

Zhongxing 18, which likely weighed about 5.2 tonnes at launch, was designed to use its 30 Ku-band 14 Ka-band MSS spot beams, and two Ka-BSS-band broadcasting transponders to provide civil communications services for China.

Jielong-1 Debut CALTJielong 1 Debut

China debuted yet another new small launch vehicle on August 17, 2019 when Jielong 1 (Smart Dragon 1) boosted three microsatellites into near polar orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. The four-stage solid fuel rocket lifted off from a mobile transporter-erector-launcher parked on a flat pad at 04:11 UTC.

Jielong 1 is quick reaction launch vehicle developed by China Academy of Calunch Vehicle Technology (CALT). The 19.5 meter tall, 1.2 meter diameter rocket weighs about 23.1 tonnes at launch and can place 150 kg into a 700 km sun synchronous orbit or 200 kg to a 500 km sun synchronous orbit. The fourth stage is mounted above the payload during launch. The stage rotates 180 degrees after separation before beginning its propulsion mission. A 1.1 meter diameter, 1.5 meter long payload shroud was used for the inaugural flight. A fatter 1.4 x 2 meter shroud is also available.

Jielong 1 is the fourth new small Chinese launch vehicle to fly during the past year. Previous attempts included LandSpace’s ZhuQue-1, which failed during October 2018, OneSpace’s OS-M1, which failed during March, 2019, and iSpace’s Hyperbola-1 (SQX-1), which succeeded on July 25, 2019.

AV-084 ULAAtlas 5 Orbits AEHF 5

AV-084, an Atlas 5-551 variant with five AJ-60A solid rocket motors and a 5.4 meter diameter payload fairing, boosted the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force into orbit from Cape Canaveral SLC 41 on August 8, 2019. Liftoff took place at 10:13 UTC, beginning a 5.5 hour mission that included three burns by the Centaur RL10C-1 upper stage engine. Centaur used a "GSO kit" for the first time on an AEHF flight to perform the extended mission. The final burn, near geoysynchronous apogee of the initial transfer orbit, boosted the $1.1 billion Lockheed Martin A2100 series satellite toward a planned 14,434 x 35,299 km x 9.95 deg orbit. Perigee variation from this plan was expected because a propellant depletion burn was used to maximize orbit energy.

The insertion orbit requires 6,168 kg AEHF 5 to provide only a bit more than 600 m/s of its own delta-v to reach geostationary orbit, compared to around 1,500 m/s for the first three AEHF launches. Those flights used Atlas 5-531 variants with only three solid rocket motors. Program managers determined that the extra cost for the booster motors would be offset by AEHF's faster ascent to its final orbit and by the longer lifetime provided to the satellite by the reduced propellant needs.

It was the 80th Atlas 5 launch and the first Atlas 5 launch in 10 months.

F9-74 AMOS SpacecomAMOS 17 Launch

Falcon 9 F9-75, a v1.2 Block 5 variant using first stage B1047.3, orbited the AMOS 17 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral on August 6, 2019. Liftoff from SLC 40 took place at 23:23 UTC. The first stage, not fitted with landing legs or grid fins, was purposely expended during this flight to provide enough capability to boost the 6.5 tonne Boeing-built satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. One of the payload fairing halves was recovered by the Ms. Tree recovery ship in a landing net - the second such recovery.

The B1047 first stage previously boosted Telstar 19V on July 22, 2018 and Es'hail 2 on November 15, 2018, both times landing downrange on Of Course I Still Love You. The refurbished B1047.3 stage was static test fired at SLC 40 on July 31 and again on August 2 after the first test showed that a propellent valve needed to be replaced. The payload was not attached during the static test firings.

VA-249 ArianespaceAriane 5 Launch

The year's third Ariane 5 ECA orbited two communication satellites from Kourou on August 6, 2019. Arianespace Mission VA249 lifted off from ELA-3 at 19:30 UTC. The ESC-A LOX/LH2 second stage performed a standard single burn to place Intelsat 39 and EDRS C into geosynchronous transfer orbit during a 34 minute mission.

Intelsat 39, a 6,600 kg satellite built by Maxar in Palo Alto, California, will provide broadband services across Africa, Europe, and Asia. This satellite separated first. EDRS C, a 3,186 kg satellite built by OHB for Airbus, will serve as a data relay satellite between other satellites and ground stations as part of the European Data Relay System network.

Proton Orbits Blagovest 14L

A Proton M Briz M launched Blagovest 14L, Russia's fourth Blagovest military communications satellite, from Baikonur Cosmodrome on August 5, 2019. The liftoff from Site 81 Pad 24 took place at 21:56 UTC, with no live coverage provided. The Briz M upper stage most likely performed four burns during a nine-hour mission to insert the satellite into near-geosynchronous orbit. Upon reaching orbit the 3,227 kg satellite was named Kosmos 2539.

Blagovest ("good news") is an Ekspress-2000 series satellite built by ISS Reshetnev in Zheleznogorsk, Russia, for Russia's Ministry of Defense. It carries Ka and C-band transponders. Europe's Thales Alenia provided attitude control system sensors and communications payload elements. Blagovest 11L was the first, 12L the second, and 13L the third, with 14L now the fourth of four planned in the series.

It was the third Proton launch of 2019, already bettering the 2018 total by Russia's most capable rocket.

Progress MS-12 RoscosmosSoyuz/Progress MS-12

A Russian Soyuz 2-1a launched the Progress MS-12 cargo mission on a two-orbit flight toward the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 31, 2019. Liftoff from Area 31 Pad 6 took place at 12:10:46 UTC. Progress MS-12 aimed to docked with ISS at 15:35 UTC, only 3 hours 24 minutes later.

Progress MS-12 carried more than 1,200 kg of dry cargo and 800 kg of propellant to transfer to ISS, along with 420 kg of water and 50 kg of air.

It was the 6th Russian launch in July and the 10th R-7 boosted launch of the year. R-7 is the first launch vehicle to reach that milestone in 2019.

Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat 073019Soyuz 2-1a/Fregat Orbits Milcomsat

A Soyuz 2-1a/Fregat orbited Meridian 18L (Meridian 8), a Russian military communications satellite, from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on July 30, 2019. The 3.5 stage rocket lifted off from Site 43 Pad 4 at 05:56 UTC, beginning a 140 minute mission that placed the roughly 2 tonne satellite into an elliptical 12 hour "Molniya" orbit that was likely to be approximately 1,000 x 39,000 km x 63 deg. Fregat performed three burns prior to spacecraft separation, then fired a final time to lower its orbit.

The first next-generation Meridian satellite was launched in 2006, but failed less than 2.5 years later. The second was placed in an incorrect orbit due to a Fregat failure in 2009. The fifth was lost in a Soyuz launch vehicle failure. The third, fourth, sixth, and seventh next-generation Meridians were successfully launched in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014, respectively.

CZ-2C 072619CZ-2C Orbits Yaogan 30-05

China orbited its fifth set of Yaogan 30 triplet satellites on July 26, 2019 with a Chang Zheng 2C launch vehicle. The two stage rocket rose from Xichang Satellite Launch Center's LC 3 at 03:57 UTC. The satellite triplet was named Yaogan-30 Group 5. The "electromagnetic detection" satellites were inserted into roughly 600 km x 35 deg orbits.

The satellites may be formation flyers similar to the U.S. NOSS system, which perform a signals intelligence mission designed to monitor surface ship electronic emissions. It was the fifth launch for this constellation, all by CZ-2C rockets from Xichang LC 3, since September 29, 2017.

In a first, the rocket was fitted with four steering grid fins on its first stage interstage.  Officials said it was an experiment to test more precise drop zone control.  It was the ninth DF-5 based CZ launch of the year.

F9-74 SpaceXF9-74 NASAFalcon 9/CRS-18

Falcon 9 F9-74 launched NASA's CRS-18 ISS cargo mission from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 on July 25, 2019. Liftoff took place at 22:01 UTC. Block 5 first stage B1056.2, which previously boosted the CRS-17 flight on May 4, 2019, fired for 2 minutes 18 seconds. Dragon 8.3, a refurbished spacecraft that previously flew the CRS-6 and CRS-13 missions in 2015 and 2017, was powered to low earth orbit by a single 6 min 11 sec second stage burn. Dragon carried more than 2,313 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. It was the seventh flight of a previously-flown Dragon.

B1056.2 performed boost back, entry, and landing burns to land at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1. It was the 43rd successful stage recovery in 52 attempts. A 44th landing did take place, performed by FH-2 Core B1055.1 on OSCILY, but that stage subsequently toppled on deck and was lost.

B1056.2, topped by a second stage that featured an experimental gray coating on its kerosene tank, was static test fired at SLC 40 on July 19. A July 24 launch attempt had to be scrubbed at T-30 seconds due to bad weather.

SQX-1 Y1SQX-1 Inaugural

China's Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd. (iSpace) successfully performed the inaugural orbital flight of its SQX-1 (Hyperbola-1) launch vehicle from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on July 25, 2019. Liftoff took place at 05:00 UTC. The four-stage rocket, possibly based on solid rocket motors from DF-11 or DF-15 ballistic missiles, weighed 31 tonnes at launch. It stood 20.8 meters and had a 1.4 meter maximum diameter.

SQX-1 is designed to lift 260 kg to sun synchronous orbit. On this flight it boosted several small satellites into a 280 x 299 km x 42.7 deg orbit.

During 2018, iSpace conducted two suborbital tests as part of its development effort. One, which was 8.4 meters long, weighed 4.6 tonnes, and used standard fins, was named SQX-1S. The other, which used four grid fins for atmospheric steering, was named SQX-1Z.

GSLV Mk3 M1 ISROChandrayaan 2 Launch

India's GLSV Mk3 launched the country's first moon lander from Sriharikota on July 22, 2019. Liftoff of the 629 tonne GSLV Mk3 M1 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Center's Second Launch Pad took place at 09:13 UTC. The 3-stage rocket fired its LH2/LOX upper stage once to depletion to insert 3,877 kg Chandrayaan 2 into a roughly 169 x 45,475 km x 21.37 deg elliptical earth orbit.

The spacecraft will gradually move itself into a trans-lunar trajectory and lunar orbit before separating a lander named Vikram for an early-September landing attempt.
Chandrayaan 2 consists of a 2,379 km lunar orbiter and a 1,471 kg Vikram lander. The lander carries a 27 kg rover named Pragyan.

It was the third GSLV Mk3 orbital launch and the first "operational" launch. The first took place during June 2017, the second during November 2018. An additional suborbital test flight with a dummy third stage took place during December 2014. Chandrayaan 2 was the heaviest payload yet carried by GSLV Mk3.

Soyuz MS-13 RoscosmosSoyuz Crew Launch

Russia's Soyuz FG orbited the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan with three International Space Station crew on July 20, 2019. Russia's Aleksandr Skvortsov, Europe's Luca Parmitano, and USA's Dr. Andrew R. Morgan rode Soyuz MS-13 on a four-orbit, six-hour fast track ascent to the International Space Station. They will serve as ISS Expedition 60-61 crew.

Liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome Area 1 Pad 5 took place at 16:28 UTC. It was the year's second crewed launch, and R-7's eighth successful launch, currently a world-leading number for launcher type.

Proton 071319 RoskosmosProton/Spektr-RG

Russia's Proton M, topped by a rarely-flown Blok DM-03 LOX/kerosene upper stage, boosted the Spektr-RG x-ray observatory into deep space from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 13, 2019. Liftoff from Site 81 Pad 24 took place at 12:30 UTC, beginning a 2-hour mission that sent the 2,713 kg, NPO Lavochkin-built satellite into a roughly 500 x 1,293,041 km x 51.6 degree highly elliptical orbit that will allow the spacecraft to move itself toward a halo orbit around the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrangian point located 1.5 million km from the Earth opposite the direction of the Sun.

Blok DM-03 performed two burns during the mission. The first boosted the vehicle into a roughly 170 x 1,970 km parking orbit beginning about 15 minutes 44 seconds after liftoff. The second burn took place after about one orbit.

Spektr-RG is an international collaboration including Russia's Roskosmos and Germany's DLR.

vv15 arianespace Vega Failure

Europe's Vega launch vehicle failed during an attempt to orbit United Arab Emitates' FalconEye 1 satellite from Kourou on July 11, 2019. It was the first Vega failure after 14 initial successes.

Liftoff from ZLV took place at 01:53 UTC. The P80 first stage solid rocket motor fired for 1 minute 54 seconds as planned, but the Zefiro 23 second stage solid rocket motor suffered some type of failure at, or shortly after, its planned ignition time. It was to have performed a 1 minute 43 second burn. The 1,197 kg satellite, an optical reconnaisance satellite built for the UAE military by Airbus Defense and Space and Thales Alenia Space, failed to reach its planned 611 km sun synchronous orbit.

Soyuz 2.1v Launch

Russia's Soyuz 2.1v with a Volga upper stage orbited four unidentified, secret satellites from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on July 10, 2019. Liftoff from Site 43/4 took place at 17:14 UTC. The satellites will likely be identified as Kosmos 2535 through 2538. It was the fifth Soyuz 2.1v flight, and the fourth Soyuz 2.1v/Volga.

Soyuz Vostochny 070519 RoscosmosVostochny Launch

A Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat M orbited Russia's Meteor M2-2 weather satellite and 32 microsatellites from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East on July 5, 2019. Liftoff from Site 1S took place at 05:41 UTC, beginning the fifth orbital attempt from the base and the first during 2019. The Fregat M upper stage performed two burns during the first hour of the mission to reach a roughly 826 km sun synchronous orbit, where the 2,750 kg primary payload separated.

Fregat M performed more burns during the remaining mission to deploy 32 microsatellites. The stage was expected to end the mission with a deorbit, or orbit-lowering, burn.

Electron 7  Rocket LabElectron Launch

Rocket Lab's seventh Electron orbited seven satellites on a ride-share mission on June 29, 2019. Liftoff from Mahia, New Zealand LC 1 took place at 04:30 UTC. The "Make it Rain" mission for Spaceflight included BlackSky’s Global-3 microsat, two U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Prometheus satelltites, and Melbourne Space Program’s ACRUX-1 CubeSat. Total mission payload mass was only 80 kg.

Electron's Curie third stage fired for about 44 seconds beginning 50 minutes 27 seconds after liftoff to insert the satellites into a 450 km x 45 degree low earth orbit. Satellite separation was completed by T+53 minutes 26 seconds.

The launch took place after a two-day delay caused by faulty ground tracking equipment hardware that served as part of Electron's flight termination system.





See Older Launch Reports in the Space Launch Report Archive