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SPACE LAUNCH REPORT
by
Ed Kyle



Recent Space Launches

11/23/19, 00:55 UTC, CZ-3C/E w/ Beidou 3M21/22 from XC 3 to MEO
11/25/19, 17:52 UTC, Soyuz 2-1v/Volga w/ Kosmos from PL 43/4 to LEO/S
11/26/19, 21:23 UTC, Ariane 5ECA w/ TIBA-1/GX-5 from KO 3 to GTO
11/27/19, 03:58 UTC, PSLV-XL w/ Cartosat 3 from SR 2 to LEO/S
11/27/19, 23:52 UTC, CZ-4C w/ Gaofen 12 from TY 9 to LEO/S
12/05/19, 17:29 UTC, Falcon 9 v1.2 w/ CRS-19 from CC 40 to LEO/ISS
12/06/19, 08:18 UTC, Electron w/ 7 micro/nanosats from MA 1 to LEO/S
12/06/19, 09:34 UTC, Soyuz 2-1a w/ Progress MS-13 from TB 31/6 to LEO/ISS
12/07/19, 02:55 UTC, KZ-1A w/ Jilin 1 Gaofen 2B from TY to LEO/S
12/07/19, 08:52 UTC, KZ-1A w/ 6 usats from TY to LEO/S

Worldwide Space Launch Box Score
aas of 12/07/19
All Orbital Launch Attempts(Failures)

2019:  92(5)
2018: 114(3)
2017:  90(6)
2016:  85(3)
Crewed Launch Attempts(Failures)
2019:  3(0)
2018:  4(1)
2017:  4(0)
22016:  5(0)


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.

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 Foce 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 25,299 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.

FH-3 NASAFalcon Heavy STP-2 (6/28/19 Update)

The third SpaceX Falcon Heavy, consisting of previously-flown side boosters B1052-2 and B1053-2 with new core B1057-1, launched the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program 2 mission from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 Pad A on June 25, 2019. Liftoff took place at 06:30 UTC.   It was the first Falcon Heavy launch for the U.S. Air Force.

The complex 3.5 hour mission inserted 24 satellites into three different orbits, using four burns by the second stage Vacuum Merlin engine. Total payload mass was only 3.7 metric tons and deployed mass only about 2.94 tonnes, but the mission perform two large plane-changes requiring significant delta-v performance.

The upper stage entered a 300 x 860 km x 28.5 deg orbit after its first burn, where 13 microsatellites deployed. Its second, 21 second-long burn, 1 hour 12 minutes 39 seconds after liftoff, shifted the vehicle into a 720 x 720 km x 24 deg orbit. Six NOAA/Taiwan weather satellites separated along with the rest of the microsatellites into this orbit. A third, 29 second-long burn at T+2 hours 7 minutes 37 seconds raised apogee to setup the final, 36 second-long burn beginning at T+3 hours 27 minutes 27 seconds, which maneuvered the stage and its heaviest, 700 kg payload, DSX, into a 6,000 x 12,000 km x 43 deg orbit. DSX is the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Demonstration and Science Experiments satellite. It will measure the effects of space radiation on electronics, among other tasks.

FH-2 SpaceXFalcon Heavy No. 3's side-boosters, which had boosted the previous Falcon Heavy on April 11, 2019, performed boost-back, entry, and landing burns to land at Cape Canaveral Landing Zones 1 and 2. The core stage performed entry and landing burns, but missed the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship positioned 1,236 km downrange, further than any previous attempt. Elon Musk later explained that high entry forces and reentry heating breached the engine bay, causing the center engine thrust vector control system to fail. All three Falcon Heavy core stages have now been lost after downrange landing tries.

For the first time, the former "Mr. Steven", renamed "Ms. Tree", recovery ship caught a parachute-guided payload fairing half in its redesigned "catchers mitt" netting".

Falcon Heavy Number 3 was static test fired at LC 39 on June 19, 2019. An empty payload fairing topped the stack during the test. This was a non-flight fairing used to collect acoustic test data for the U.S. Air Force.

CZ3B/E 062419 XinhuaBeidou 3I2 Launch

China orbited the second Beidou 3IGSO navigation satellite, named 3IGSO-2 (also referred to as Beidou 3I2 or Beidou 46), on June 24, 2019. Enhanced Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B/E) number Y60 boosted the 4.6 tonne, DFH-3B satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center after a 18:05 UTC liftoff from LC 3.

The CZ-3B liquid hydrogen fueled third stage fired twice to inject the vehicle into GTO. Beidou 3I2 is expected to maneuver itself into a geosynchronous orbit inclined 55 degrees to the equator.

VA248 ArianespaceAriane 5 Launch

The year's second Ariane 5 ECA orbited two communication satellites from Kourou on June 20, 2019. Arianespace Mission VA248 lifted off from ELA-3 at 21:43 UTC. The ESC-A LOX/LH2 second stage performed its standard single burn to place T-16 and Eutelsat 7C into geosynchronous transfer orbit during a 34 minute mission.

T-16, a 6,330 kg satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space for AT&T, separated first. It will provide communications services from 99.2 to 119 degrees West, geostationary. Eutelsat 7C, a 3,405 kg Maxar-built satellite, separated last from the lower position after the Sylda 5 adapter had separated. It will provide services from 9 degrees East.

F9-73 RCM SpaceXRadarsat Launch

The 73rd Falcon 9, and 53rd v1.2 variant, launched Canada's Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) from Vandenberg AFB on June 12, 2019. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 4 East took place at 14:17 UTC, with the two-stage rocket quickly punching through a summer marine fog layer that obstructed ground views of the launch. Falcon 9's second stage performed two burns during the roughly hour-long mission to insert three 1,430 kg MDA-built radar mapping satellites into 600 km x 97.74 deg sun synchronous orbits.

First stage B1051.2, on its second flight after boosting the DM-1 Crew Dragon demo mission from KSC 39A on March 2, 2019, performed boostback, reentry, and landing burns before landing at still-foggy VAFB Landing Zone 4, site of the former SLC 4W launch pad. The landing - the second at LZ4 - took place about 7 minutes 53 seconds after liftoff. During ascent, Stage 1 fired for 2 minutes 13 seconds. Stage 2 performed a 6 minute 2 second initial burn to reach a roughly 160 x 600 km elliptical parking orbit. The stage restarted at T+50 minutes 8 seconds for only 4 seconds to circularize the orbit. Satellite deployment began at T+54:43. Stage 2 was expected to perform a final, deorbit burn at mission's end.

After spacing themselves 120 degrees apart in orbit, the RCM satellites will use C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to provide up to 1 meter resolution mapping of the Earth's surface for multiple government agencies. The three satellites separated from a dispenser made by Ruag Space of Switzerland. The dispenser included a tilt system designed to provide clearance as the satellites separated in sequence about four minutes apart.

CZ-11 060519CZ-11 Launched from Sea

China's seventh four-stage solid fuel CZ-11 launched for the first time from a floating platform anchored in the Yellow Sea on June 5, 2019, boosting seven satellites into a low Earth orbit inclined roughly 45 degrees to the equator. The launch platform was positioned at 34.9 deg. North, 121.19 deg. East.

CZ-11 was cold-launched from a canister mounted to a specially built launch frame on the 110 x 80 meter barge at 04:06:01 UTC. The cold launch technique shoots the rocket up out of the canister where it hangs in mid-air for a moment before the first stage ignites to rapidly boost the vehicle upward. Payloads included Bufeng 1A and 1B, Xiaoxiang 1-04, Tianqi 3, Zhongdianwangtong 1A and 1B, and Jilin 1.

CZ-11 first flew on September 25, 2015. The 58 tonne rocket is likely based on China's DF-31 series solid fuel ballistic missile, which also used the canister launch method. CZ-11 is reportedly 20.8 meters long (other reports suggest 18.7 meters), and 2 meters in diameter with a 58 tonne launch mass and a 120 tonne liftoff thrust. Its fourth stage has in-space maneuvering capability. CZ-11 reportedly can lift at least 350 kg to a 700 km sun synchronous orbit.

The floating platform could potentially be used to allow near-equatorial launches and it eliminates the need to evacuate downrange land areas for stage drop zones.

Proton Yamal 601 RoskosmosProton Launch (Updated 06/05/19)

Russia’s Proton-M/Briz-M launched with Yamal 601, a powerful communications satellite built for Gazprom Space Systems, on May 30, 2019. Liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 200 Pad 39 took place at 17:42 UTC, starting a 9 hour 13 minute mission that would include multiple burns by the Briz-M upper stage to boost the 5.4 tonne Thales Alenia Space Spacebus 4000C4 series satellite into a 6,423 x 35,726 km x 17.8 deg geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Yamal 601 carries 18 C-band transponders and a Ka-band payload with 32 spot beams. It will provide communications and broadband services from its geostationary position at 49 degrees East.

It was the first Proton launch of 2019.


soyuz 052719Soyuz Navsat Launch

A Soyuz 1-2b/Fregat lifted off with a GLONASS-M (Uragan-M) navigation satellite from Site 43/4 at Plesetsk Cosmodrome on May 27, 2019 at 06:23 UTC. Although lightning appeared to have struck the rocket shortly after launch, it continued on to perform an apparently successful flight.

The Fregat upper stage three times during the 3.5 hour mission to raise the satellite to its roughly 19,100 km x 64.8 degree deployment orbit. Assigned the Kosmos 2534 designation, it was the 49th Uragan-M navsat.

F9-72 SpaceXStarlink Launch

The 72nd SpaceX Falcon 9 (71st to launch) boosted 60 Starlink internet satellites into low earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 24, 2019. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 02:30 UTC. It was Falcon 9's heaviest payload to date at a combined 13,608 kg for the 60 satellites.

Starlink is meant to provide high-speed, low-latency Internet service world-wide. A satellite constellation numbering in the thousands is planned. This first mass satellite launch carried production satellites that did not include the intersatellite links planned for operational satellites. The satellites were built by SpaceX's Redmond, Washington satellite group.

The Falcon 9 second stage performed two burns to reach a 440 km x 53 deg deployment orbit where, about an hour after liftoff, the satellite deployment began. The satellites were expected to subsequently move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

First stage B1049.3, which previously flew on the Telstar 18V and Iridium NEXT 8 launches in September 2018 and January 2019, respectively, performed entry and landing burns before landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship positioned about 645 km downrange, northeast of the Cape. It was the third first stage to complete three launches. All were Block 5 types.

The first stage was static test fired at SLC 40 with the payload attached on May 14. Launch attempts on May 16 and 17 were scrubbed, first by upper level winds and then by a need to update software on the satellites.

CZ-4C 052219CZ-4C Failure

China's Chang Zheng (CZ) 4C failed to orbit the Yaogan Weixing 33 remote sensing satellite from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on May 22, 2019. Liftoff from LC 9 took place at 22:49 UTC. The launch was aimed toward a near-polar, sun synchronous orbit, but a third stage failure prevented orbit, according to Xinhua.

The satellite was likely a synthetic aperature radar mapping spacecraft.

It was the 7th DF-5 based launch, and China's 9th launch, of 2019, two of which have failed.  CZ-4C had flown 9 consecutive successes since its last failure on August 31, 2016.

PSLV C-46 ISROPSLV Orbits Radarsat

India's PSLV, flying in a "Core Alone" version as flight C46, orbited RISAT 2B, a radar reconnaissance satellite, from Sriharikota on May 22, 2019. Liftoff from the First Launch Pad pad took place at 00:00 UTC as May 22 began, Universal Time. After a 15.5 minute mission, the 615 kg radar imaging satellite separated into a roughly 557 km x 37 deg orbit.

RISAT 2B is the first of a new generation of radar imagers. It uses X-band Synthetic Aperature Radar to map the surface of the Earth. It is the first in a series of three planned for launch during 2019.

CZ-3C 051719CZ-3C Orbits Navsat

CZ-3C/E (Y16) launched Beidou 2 GEO 8 from Xichang LC 2 on May 17, 2019. Liftoff took place at 15:48 UTC. The liquid hydrogen third stage fired twice to boost the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit during the roughly half-hour mission.

Beidou 2 GEO 8, a navigation satellite to be added to China's growing constellation, is likely based on the DFH-3 satellite bus weighing about 3,800 kg at liftoff.

Electron 6 Rocket LabElectron Launch

Rocket Lab's sixth Electron orbited three satellites for the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program on May 5, 2019. Liftoff from Mahia, New Zealand LC 1 took place at 06:00 UTC. The STP-27RD mission included the SPARC-1, Falcon ODE, and Harbinger technology demonstration satellites. Total payload mass was 180 kg, most-yet for Electron.

Electron's Curie third stage fired for about 2.5 minutes beginning 49 minutes 12 seconds after liftoff to insert the satellites into a low earth orbit with a roughly 40 degree inclination - the first eastward trajectory performed by Electron. Satellite separation took place a few minutes later.

Electron 6 was named "That’s a Funny Looking Cactus" after the desert cactus of New Mexico where the Space Test Program offices are located.

F9-71 CRS-17 NASACRS-17 Launch

Falcon 9 orbited NASA's CRS-17 ISS cargo mission from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 on May 4, 2019. Liftoff took place at 0648 GMT UTC. New Block 5 first stage B1056.1 powered the two-stage rocket for 2 minutes 17 seconds. Dragon 13.2, a refurbished spacecraft that first flew during the CRS-12 mission on August 14, 2017, rode atop the second stage during its 6 min 11 sec burn to a low earth orbit inclined 51.6 deg to the equator. Dragon carried 2,482 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. It was the sixth flight of a previously-flown Dragon.

B1056.1 performed boost back, entry, and landing burns to land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" converted barge positioned only about 20 km off shore. Original plans for a landing at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1 had to be replaced with a near-shore OCISLY landing after the DM1 crew Dragon exploded during a propulsion system test at LZ-1 on April 20, 2019.

It was the 50th Falcon 9 v1.2 launch, all successful.  A 51st Falcon 9 v1.2 was destroyed in a 2016 pre-launch ground test explosion that also destoyed its AMOS 6 payload. 

The first stage was briefly static test fired with a second stage but no payload attached at SLC 40 on April 26, 2019. An ISS power system failure forced a slip from May 1 to May 3, and the May 3 attempt had to be scrubbed after a power supply failure on OCISLY.

CZ4B 042919 XinhuaCZ-4B Launch

China's Chang Zheng (CZ) 4B orbited a pair of remote sensing satellites named Tianhua-2 Group 01 A and B on April 29, 2019. Liftoff from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center's LC 9 took place at 22:52 UTC. The three-stage storable propellant rocket boosted the satellite pair into 504 x 518 km x 97.44 deg sun synchronous orbits. Xinhua announced that the satellites would be used for "scientific experiments, land resource survey, geographic survey and mapping".

It was the first 2019 launch from Taiyuan.

CZ-3B/E 042019 XinhuaBeidou 3IGSO Launch

China orbited the first Beidou 3IGSO navigation satellite, named 3IGSO-1, on April 20, 2019. An Enhanced Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B/E) boosted the satellite, named Beidou 3IGSO-1, into a 220 x 35,787 km x 28.49 degree geosynchronous transfer orbit, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center after a 14:41 UTC liftoff from LC 3.

The CZ-3B liquid hydrogen fueled third stage fired twice to inject the vehicle into GTO. Surprisingly, CASC officials announced that the roughly 4.6 tonne satellite would maneuver itself into a geosynchronous orbit inclined 55 degrees to the equator. Previous "inclined" Beidou navsats have used the launch vehicle to provide the inclination by flying on a more direct azimuth from the launch site.

NG-11 NASAAntares NG-11

Northrop Grumman's Antares launch vehicle orbited the company's Cygnus NG-11 cargo spacecraft from Wallops Island, Virginia on April 17, 2019. Liftoff from Pad 0A took place at 20:46 UTC. It was the second Antares launch under the Northrop Grumman banner and the 10th Antares liftoff. Antares previously launched five times for Orbital and three times for Orbital ATK.

The launch was the fifth by an Antares 230, 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.

Cygnus NG-11 was the eighth enhanced Cygnus with a stretched Thales Alenia Space cargo module, but only the fifth to fly on Antares. Atlas 5 rockets orbited the other three. NG-11 weighed about 7,300 kg at launch, including 3,436 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. Cygnus NG-11 was named in honor of Roger Chaffee, the rookie NASA astronaut who perished in the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967.

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 215 seconds. After first stage shutdown, the upper composite separated and coasted upward. The shroud and interstage adapter separated, then at about T+264 seconds the Northrop Grumman Castor 30XL second stage motor ignited to produce an average of about 51 tonnes of thrust during its roughly 160 second burn. Cygnus separated at T+546 seconds into a roughly 190 x 296 km x 51.63 deg orbit.

FH-2  SpaceXFalcon Heavy Arabsat 6A (4/16/19 Update)

SpaceX's second Falcon Heavy, the first using Block 5 stages, successfully boosted 6,465 kg Arabsat 6A into supersynchronous transfer orbit from Kennedy Space Center LC 39A on April 11, 2019. During the flight, the twin side boosters flew back to Cape Canaveral Landing Zones 1 and 2 while the core stage landed downrange on the converted barge "Of Course I Still Love You". The second stage fired its Merlin Vacuum twice to complete the insertion toward a 327 x 89,815 km x 22.96 deg transfer orbit.

Although B1055 landed succesfully, it was subsequently lost when it toppled in heavy seas, although Elon Musk noted that the Merlin engines remained on board OCISLY in unknown condition. The loss caused the second Falcon Heavy mission to match the inaugural's record of one lost core and two recovered boosters. Slightly offsetting the loss was the successful recovery of both fairing halves after they splashed down in the Atlantic, a step not achieved during FH-1.

New stages B1052.1 and B1053.1 served as the side boosters, each topped with composite nose cones used during the first Falcon Heavy launch. Core stage B1055.1 completed the trio. Together, their 27 Merlin 1D engines produced about 10% more thrust (about 2,327 metric tons or 5.13 million pounds) during the 22:35 UTC launch than the first Falcon Heavy. The boosters cut off about 2.5 minutes after liftoff and separated four seconds later. They performed boostback, entry, and landing burns to land side by side at LZ 1 and 2 at about T+7 minutes 51 seconds. The core stage, which had throttled down during the early ascent, fired for an additional minute after the boosters jettisonned before separating to perform its own entry and landing burns to land on OCISLY at about T+9 minutes 48 seconds.

The second stage fired from T+3:42 until T+8:48 to reach a low earth parking orbit. The payload fairing separated about 56 seconds into the second stage burn. After a coast, the second stage ignited again at T+27:34 for 1:26 to accelerate into the final orbit. Arabsat 6A separated about 34 minutes after liftoff. Lockheed Martin built Arabsat 6A, which is an enhanced LM 2100 satellite fitted with lightweight solar arrays. It will serve the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

FH-2 performed a static test firing at LC 39A on April 5. An April 10 launch attempt was scrubbed by high winds before propellant loading began.

VS22 ArianespaceSoyuz Kourou O3b Launch

A Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat carried four O3b satellites into orbit from Guiana Space Center at Kourou on April 4, 2018. Launched by Russian crews from the Sinnamary Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) at 17:03 UTC, the 3.5 stage rocket flew as the Arianespace VS22 mission. The Fregat third stage performed three burns to reach a 7,830 km x 0.04 deg, near-circular deployment orbit about 2 hours after liftoff.

After the third burn, the satellites were released two by two during the next half hour.

Four previous Soyuz missions from Kourou orbited a total of 12 satellites for O3b Networks during 2013-2014. Thales Alenia Space built the satellites, which weigh about 700 kg each. The satellites are designed to provide low latency, high bandwidth connectivity using 12 Ka band transponders per satellite.

It was the second R-7 launch of the day, and the fifth of the year.

Progress MS-11Soyuz/Progress MS-11

Russia's Soyuz 2-1a boosted the Progress MS-11 cargo mission toward the quickest-ever ISS rendezvous from Baikonur on April 4, 2019. Liftoff from Area 31 Pad 6 took place at 11:01:35 GMT. Progress MS-11 docked with ISS only 3 hours 21 minutes later.

Progress MS-11 carried 3,410 kg of cargo, including 1,530 kg of propellant, 1,413 kg of dry cargo, 420 kg of water, and 47 kg of oxygen and air.

PSLV-C45 ISROIndia ELINT Launch

India's PSLV orbited an electronic signals intelligence satellite, along with 28 microsatellites, from Sriharikota on April 1, 2019. PSLV-C45, the first PSLV-QL variant with four strap-on solid motors, lifted off from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center at 03:57 UTC. EMISAT, the 436 kg primary satellite, separated into a 749 km x 98.376 deg orbit about 17 minutes after liftoff, following the first burn by the PS4 restartable hypergolic fourth stage.

After EMISAT separation, PS4 performed two burns to move to a 504 km x 97.468 deg orbit at about T+109 minutes. 28 CubeSats were deployed into this orbit, then the PS4 stage fired two more times to move itself to a 485 km x 97.468 deg orbit about three hours into the mission. There, it will serve as an orbital platform hosting three on-board experiments for up to six months. For the first time, the PS4 stage was fitted with solar panels for this mission. A total of about 670 kg of payload was carried by PSLV-C45.

CZ-3BE 033119 XinhuaCZ-3B/E Launches Tianlian 2-1

China's CZ-3B/E orbited Tianlian 2-1, a second generation data relay satellite, from Xichang satellite launch center on March 31, 2019. The Enhanced CZ-3B lifted off from LC 2 at 15:51 UTC. The rocket's liquid hydrogen-fueled upper stage inserted the DFH-4 series satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit about one half-hour after liftoff.

After it propels itself to geosynchronous orbit, Tianlian 2-1, which likely weighed about 5.2 tonnes at launch, will be used to transfer data between other satellites and ground stations.

It was the 3nd DF-5 based launch of 2019. DF-5 has been the world's busiest orbital launch vehicle by far during the past decade.

Electron 5  Rocket LabElectron DARPA Launch

Rocket Lab's Electron boosted DARPA's R3D2 satellite to orbit from Mahai New Zealand on March 28, 2019. Liftoff from LC 1 took place at 18:35 UTC. The Curie kick stage fired for 113 seconds at first apogee about 50 minutes after launch to accelerate the 150 kg Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration satellite into a 421 x 438 km x 39.5 degree orbit.

The launch followed a scrub and several weather delays during the final week of the launch campaign. It was the fifth Electron launch and the fourth success. The 150 kg payload was the heaviest yet carried by Electron.

OS-M OneSpaceOS-M Inaugural Failure

The first OS-M rocket launched by Chinese startup OneSpace failed to reach orbit after rising from Jiuquan space center in northwest China on March 27, 2019. Liftoff from the TLE-2 flat pad took place at 09:39 UTC. The four stage solid fuel rocket flew correctly until the second stage took over about one minute into the flight. The vehicle began to spiral at that point, exhibiting a loss of flight control. A small CubeSat satellite named Lingque 1B was lost. It was intended to enter a low earth orbit to test earth observation technology for ZeroG Lab, another new Chinese space company.

OS-M (also called OS-M1) stands about 18.9 meters tall and is designed to lift about 112 kilograms into a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit. It appears to use solid motor stages adapted from short range military missiles. The first three stages have fixed nozzles with steering vanes in the exhaust. The first, and possibly the second, stages, which appear to use idential motors, also use aerodynamic fins.

VV14 ArianespaceVega Orbits PRISMA

Europe's Vega, flying the Arianespace VV14 mission, orbited Italy's PRISMA (PRecursore IperSpettrale della Missione Applicativa), an earth observation satellite, from Kourou Space Center on March 22, 2019. Liftoff from the ZLV pad took place at 01:50:35 UTC.

The first three solid propellant stages fired during the first 6 min 26 sec. After a brief coast, the liquid hypergolic AVUM fourth stage performed a 4.5 minute burn to reach an elliptical parking orbit. After a 39 minute coast to apogee, AVUM reignited for 1 min 12 sec to reach a 615 km x 97.88 deg sun synchronous orbit.

The 879 kg, OHB Italia-built PRISMA separated 54 min 8 sec after liftoff. PRISMA will monitor the environment, natural resources, crops, and pollution, among other things.

Delta 383 ULAWGS-10 launch

Delta 383, a Delta 4M+5,4 with four solid rocket motors, a five meter diameter Delta cryogenic second stage (DCSS), and a five meter diameter fairing, lofted Wideband Global SATCOM No. 10 into supersynchronous transfer orbit from Cape Canaveral Florida on March 16, 2019. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 37B took place at at 00:26 UTC on 829.7 tonnes (1.829 million pounds) of thrust created by its RS-68A first stage engine and its four GEM-60 solid motors.

DCSS performed two burns of its 11.23 tonne thrust RL10B-2 LOX/LH2 engine during the ascent. The first placed the vehicle into a 185 x 5,430 km x 27.7 deg parking orbit about 19.5 minutes after liftoff. After a 10 minute coast to the equator the second, roughly 3 minute 20 second burn pushed the 5.987 tonne Boeing 702 series satellite into a 433 x 44,392 km x 27 deg transfer orbit.  Spacecraft separation occurred about 36 minutes 50 seconds after liftoff. DCSS was slated to perform a deorbit burn at about T+1 hour 12 minutes, leading to destructive reentry at about T+12 hours 10 min.

WGS-10 will provide more than 11 Gbps data transfer rates for the U.S. military using X-band and Ka-band transponders and on-board data processors.

It was the second Delta 4 launch of 2019. This was the last WGS launch planned for Delta 4, and the penultimate Delta 4 Medium launch.

Soyuz MS-12 Soyuz Crew Launch

Russia's Soyuz FG orbited the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan with three International Space Station crew on March 14, 2019. It was the second crewed Soyuz flight since the MS-10 failure and crew-saving abort during October, 2018. The MS-10 crew, Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague, rode MS-12 successfully to orbit this time, along with NASA's Christina Koch. They will serve as ISS Expedition 59-60 crew. Liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome Area 1 Pad 5 took place at 19:14 UTC. Soyuz MS-12 was slated to perform a four-orbit, six-hour ascent to ISS.

It was the year's first crewed launch, and third R-7 flight.

CZ-3B 030919 XinhuaCZ-3B/E Orbits ChinaSat 6C

China's CZ-3B/E orbited Zhongxing 6C (ChinaSat 6C), a communications satellite, from Xichang satellite launch center on March 9, 2019. The "Enhanced" CZ-3B, currently China's heaviest GTO lifter in active service, launched from LC 3 at 16:28 UTC. The rocket's liquid hydrogen-fueled upper stage inserted the DFH-4 series satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit about one half-hour after liftoff.

After it propels itself to geosynchronous orbit, Zhongxing 6C, which likely weighed about 5.2 tonnes at launch, will use its 25 C-band transponders to serve China from 130 deg East.

It was the 2nd DF-5 based launch of 2019.

DM1 NASACrew Dragon Premier

The first SpaceX Crew Dragon was boosted into low Earth orbit on an uncrewed test flight by a Falcon 9 v1.2 Block 5 from Kennedy Space Center on March 2, 2019. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39 Pad A took place at 07:49 UTC. The 13 foot diameter spacecraft, consisting of a 4.9 meter tall capsule and a 3.7 meter tall "trunk" sheathed in fixed solar arrays, was, at about 12.5 tonnes, the heaviest payload yet launched by a Falcon 9.

New first stage B1051.1 provided 771 metric tons of liftoff thrust produced by its nine Merlin 1D LOX/Kerosene engines. It shut down about 2.5 minutes after launch, then performed entry and landing burns to land downrange on Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY). It was the 35th successful first stage landing. The second stage fired until reaching orbit about 9 minutes after liftoff.

Dragon DM-1 (Commercial Crew Program Demonstration Mission 1), carrying a dummy astronaut named "Ripley" and about 180 kg of cargo, docked with the International Space Station on March 3. It will remain attached until March 8 before splashing down about 370 km miles east of Cape Canaveral. The test is part of a $3.1 billion contract awarded to SpaceX by NASA for crew launch services. If all goes well, the first crewed flight is expected later this year.

B1051 was test fired at McGregor, Texas during August, 2018. The entire vehicle with Dragon attached was rolled out for mechanical fit checks at LC 39A on January 3, 2019. It rolled out again for a brief static test, again with Dragon attached, on January 24, 2019.

VS21  ArianespaceOneWeb Launch

The 21st Soyuz to fly from Kourou Space Center, a Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat M with an ST payload fairing, orbited the first six OneWeb pathfinder satellites on February 27, 2019. Liftoff of the VS21/OneWeb F6 mission from the ELS pad took place at 21:37 UTC. London's OneWeb plans to build a constellation consisting of hundreds of satellites to provide internet services.

Fregat performed two burns to place the satellites into roughly 1,000 km x 87.77 deg orbits. The hypergolic upper stage performed an orbit lowering burn after the satellites separated in two groups. The last separation event took place 82.5 minutes after liftoff.

Each satellite weighed 147.7 kg, making a total 886 kg deployed payload mass. A cylindrical RUAG Space-built "OneWeb Dispenser System" carried the satellites and four APCO Technologies mass simulators. The satellites and mass simulators were mounted to the sides of the vertical cylinder, which is designed to carry up to 32 satellites. The dispenser, the mass simulators, and the adapter to Fregat together weighed 1,059 kg.

F9-70 SpaceX 022219Falcon 9 Launch

A Falcon 9 v1.2 "Block 5" variant with a previously flown first stage orbited the Nusantara Satu communications satellite along with two smaller payloads - one aiming for the Moon - from Cape Canaveral SLC 40 on February 22, 2019. The Falcon 9 second stage fired twice to boost all three payloads into a supersynchronous transfer orbit, completing its second burn about 28 minutes after the 01:45 UTC liftoff. The SSL-built Nusantara Satu satellite weighed about 4,100 kg at liftoff. SpaceIL's Beresheet - the first privately-funded lunar lander attempt - weighed 582 kg. A U.S. Air Force S5 microsatellite also rode along. Total payload mass including dispensers was 4,850 kg.

Used first stage B1048.3, which was previously used to boost the Iridium 7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October, 2018, burned for about 2 min 40 sec before separating to perform reentry and landing burns to land on Of Course I Still Love You floating on the Atlantic downrange. The second stage performed a 4 min 21 sec first burn to reach a parking orbit, then restarted at T+27 min 3 sec for about 65 seconds to accelerate to the insertion orbit.

Nusantara Satu will provide broadband data service for Indonesia. Beresheet (Hebrew for “in the beginning”), a privately-funded Israeli spacecraft, will boost itself toward the Moon over a two month period before attempting a landing.

B1048.3 was briefly test fired at SLC 40 with the second stage but no payload attached on February 18, 2019.  It was the first Falcon 9 GTO launch in over three months.

Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat 022119Soyuz Orbits EgyptSat A (Feb 26 Update)

Russia's Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat launched EgyptSat A, an optical reconnaissance satellite, into low earth orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Febraury 21, 2019. The 2.5 stage rocket lifted off from Area 31 Pad 6 at 16:47 UTC and boosted the roughly 1.05 tonne satellite into a sun synchronous low earth orbit.

Russia's Tass news agency reported that the Fregat M upper stage and satellite were tracked in a lower than expected orbit, but the final orbit was reported to be as-expected. It turned out that Fregat had, during the first of its two burns, made up a delta-v deficit caused by a slightly low LOX load of the Block I "third" stage of the Soyuz 2.1b launch vehicle, which led to an early LOX-depletion cutoff. Fregat retained sufficient propellant to complete its second burn, inserting EgyptSat A into its planned, roughly 650 km x 98 deg orbit. Improper propellant loading procedures were blamed.

Russia's RKK Energia developed and built the new imaging satellite for Egypt's military and other government agencies. It replaces EgyptSat 2, which failed one year after its 2014 launch on another Soyuz.

It was Russia's first launch of the year.

VA247 ArianespaceAriane 5 Launch

An Ariane 5 ECA orbited two communication satellites from Kourou on February 5, 2019. Arianespace Mission VA247 began with a 21:01 UTC liftoff from ELA-3. The ESC-A LOX/LH2 second stage performed its standard single burn to place Hellas-Sat 4/Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1 and GSAT 31 into geosynchronous transfer orbit during a roughly 42.5 minute mission.

Hellas-Sat 4, a 6,495 kg satellite built by Lockheed Martin, separated first. It will provide communications services for both Hellas-Sat and the government of Saudi Arabia from a geostationary position at 39 degrees East Longitude. India's GSAT 31, an ISRO-built 2,536 kg satellite, separated last from the lower position after the Sylda 5 adapter had separated. It will provide services from 48 degrees East.

PSLV-DL C44 ISROPSLV-DL Inaugural

India debuted a new PSLV variant named PSLV-DL on January 24, 2019. Flying with only two two PS0M-XL strap-on solid motors, and for the first time testing PS4/L-2.5 long-duration upper stage operation, the C44 mission lifted off from the First Launch Pad at Sriharikota at 18:07 UTC. Payloads included Microsat-R, a military imaging satellite, and Kalamsat, a student experiment package that remained attached to the fourth stage.

The PS4 fourth stage fired first to enter a 274 km x 96.6 deg orbit where 740-kilogram Microsat-R was deployed. After a 41 minute coast, PS4 ignited again to raise its apogee to 450 kilometers. At apogee 45 minutes 35 seconds later, PS4 fired for a third time to enter a 450 km x 98.8 deg final orbit. Kalamsat was expected to operate attached to the PS4 stage for about 13.25 hours before exhausting its battery power.

It was the 46th PSLV flight.

CZ-11 012119 XinhuaCZ-11 Launch

China's four-stage solid fuel CZ-11 launched two optical remote sensing satellites named Jilin-1 Video 09 and 10, into sun synchronous low earth orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on January 21, 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 05:42 UTC. The site was one of two flat pads built in recent years northeast of the CZ-2F launch site.

Jilin-1 Video 09 and 10 were identified as commercial satellites "independently developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd." that "will provide remote sensing data and products for government and industry users". They join several previously-orbited Jilin-1 satellites.

It was the sixth known CZ-11 flight. CZ-11 first flew on September 25, 2015. The 58 tonne rocket is likely based on China's DF-31 series solid fuel ballistic missile. CZ-11 is reportedly 20.8 meters long (other reports suggest 18.7 meters), and 2 meters in diameter with a 58 tonne launch mass and a 120 tonne liftoff thrust. Its fourth stage has in-space maneuvering capability. CZ-11 reportedly can lift at least 350 kg to sun synchronous orbit.

D382 ULADelta 4 Heavy Launches NROL-71

The 11th Delta 4 Heavy lifted off from Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 6 on January 19, 2019 with NROL-71, a mysterious National Reconnaissance Office satellite. Liftoff took place at 19:10 UTC. Delta 382 flew on a south-southeast azimuth consistent with a low Earth orbit inclined roughly 74 degrees to the equator, an unusual orbit for a large NRO payload.

After spacecraft separation, the five-meter Delta Cryogenic Upper Stage was expected to fire to de-orbited itself into the Pacific Ocean after completing about one orbit of the planet.

While some analysts believe that the satellite is a new KH-11 IKON optical reconnaissance satellite, others believe it might be a radar reconnaisance type flying as a prograde complement to the latest TOPAZ radar satellite.

It was the 38th Delta 4, and only the third Delta 4 Heavy to fly from Vandenberg AFB. The last Delta 4 Heavy to fly from SLC 6 did so in 2013.

Delta 382 suffered through a challenging launch campaign that included an abort caused by a bad sensor at T-7.5 seconds on December 8, 2018, a weather scrub on December 18, and a scrub caused by a leaking hydrogen valve in one of the side-mounted core stages on December 19.

Epsilon 4 JAXAEpsilon Launch

Japan's fourth Epsilon launch vehicle, the third improved "Enhanced" variant, boosted seven small Japanese and Vietnamese satellites into low Earth orbit from Kagoshima on January 18, 2019, one year after the last Epsilon flight. Liftoff from the former M-5 pad at Uchinoura Space Center took place at 00:50 UTC, starting a roughly 70 minute mission.

Epsilon No. 4's 74.5 tonne SRB-A based first stage produced about 293.6 tonnes of liftoff thrust to lift the 26 meter tall, 95.6 tonne rocket. The first stage fired for 1 min 48 sec. After the burn the entire vehicle coasted until the 2 min 41 sec mark, when the upper stages separated and, four seconds later, the second stage ignited. The payload fairing separated during the coast at T+2 min 31 sec. The 17.2 tonne M-35 solid motor second stage burned out at T+4 min 54 sec.

The vehicle coasted again, building up an axial spin, before the KM-V2c third stage separated at T+6 min 30 sec, igniting four seconds later. The stage burned out at T+8 min 2 sec at orbital velocity. The Post Boost Stage (a fourth stage) separated at T+9 min 54 sec. The hydrazine fueled PBS stopped the spin, then fired its thrusters producing a total of 20.2 kgf thrust for 5 minutes in a trim burn that began at T+14 min 39 sec. After coasting toward apogee, the PBS started again at T+43 min 17 sec to perform a 6 min 32 sec burn to enter a roughly 500 km x 97.24 deg sun synchronous orbit.

The 200 kg RAPIS 1 satellite separated first, followed by 60 kg RISESAT, 50 kg MicroDragon, 4 kg OrigamiSat, 1 kg NEXUS and 3 kg Velox 4, followed by 68 kg ALE 1. PBS performed a series of five burns between satellite separation events. Payload mass totalled 386 kg.


Simorgh 011519Iran Orbital Failure

Iran's Simorgh launch vehicle failed to reach orbit during a  three-stage attempt on January 15, 2019. The 2.5 meter diameter rocket lifted off from the Simorgh pad at Semnan Space Center at approximately 00:30 UTC, carrying a remote sensing satellite named "Payam" and possibly a second satellite. A failure occcurred during the third stage phase of ascent, causing the stage to fall short of orbital velocity. A 500 km x 55 deg orbit was likely planned.

Simorgh consists of a hypergolic propellant first stage powered by four, fixed Nodong/Safir type engines augmented by a set of four roll control thrusters that may use gas generator exhaust. Together the engines produce a reported 130 tonnes thrust at liftoff. The second stage is believed to be a stretched version of the smaller Safir launch vehicle's second stage. The small, third, "kick" stage is likely housed within the payload fairing. Simorgh reportedly stands 27 meters and weighs 87 tonnes at liftoff. The rocket may be able to lift 350 kg to low Earth orbit in its ultimate form.  Payam reportedly weighed less than 100 kg.

Simorgh has flown at least twice before, on April 19, 2016 and July 27, 2017. The goals and results of these flights are disputed outside of Iran. Some analysts believe that the 2016 flight was a planned, successful suborbital test and that the 2017 flight was a failed orbital attempt, with failure occurring during the second stage of flight.

F9-68 SpaceXIridium NEXT 8

A SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.2 boosted the final 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into 600 x 625 km x 86.68 deg orbits from Vandenberg AFB on January 11, 2019. Liftoff of the Iridium NEXT 8 mission took place at 15:31 UTC from Space Launch Complex 4 East. The 860 kg Thales Alenia Space satellites deployed about an hour after launch after the second stage performed a brief, second, circularizaion burn at first apogee. The stage had fired for 6 minutes 8 seconds during its first burn to enter a roughly 180 x 625 km parking orbit. A third burn was planned to deorbit the stage after satellite separation.

It was the eighth and final Falcon 9 Iridium NEXT launch. During the nearly two-year campaign, SpaceX successfully orbited a total of 75 satellites.

Used first stage B1049.2 performed the initial 2 minute 27 second boost. After separation, the stage performed boostback, entry and landing burns before landing on the drone ship "Just Read the Instructions" floating in the Pacific Ocean downrange. The stage had previously been used to power the Telstar 18V launch from Cape Canaveral LC 40 on September 10, 2018, when it also performed a downrange platform landing.

Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy core/booster stages have now landed successfully 33 times in 40 attempts, including 2 of 3 Falcon Heavy attempts. Seven of the successes have been on "Just Read the Instructions" off California, 10 at Cape Canaveral LZ 1, one at LZ 2, one at LZ 4, and 14 on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" off Florida. 22 individual stages have been recovered. Seventeen have flown twice, eight of which were expended during their second flights. One stage has flown three times.

B1049.2 performed a static test firing at SLC 4E on January 6, 2019 with the second stage but no payload attached.

CZ-3B 0110192019 First Launch

China's Chang Zheng 3B (Enhanced Version) tabulated the world's first orbital launch of 2019 on January 10. The 3.5 stage rocket orbited Zhongxing 2D (Chinasat 2D) from Xichang Satellite Launch Center after an 17:11 UTC liftoff from Launch Complex 2. The liquid hydrogen fueled third stage fired twice to boost Chinasat 2D into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Chinasat 2D is a DFH-4 based communications satellite that may be designed to serve China's military. It likely weighed 5.2 tonnes or more at liftoff.



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