Launches Crew to Orbit
A Chang Zheng 2F
rocket launched Shenzhou 10 with three Chinese crew into orbit from Jiuquan space center
on June 11, 2012. Liftoff from the Mongolian desert base occurred at 09:38 UTC.
The 7.7 tonne spacecraft separated into a 200 x 329.8 km x 42.8 deg orbit about 10
On board were Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang, and Wang
Yaping, China's second female "Hang Kong Yuan", or astronaut. All are
Chinese military officers.
Shenzhou 10 is slated to dock with China's Tiangong 1
module after two days. They will remain docked for what is planned to be China's
longest crewed space flight. Tiangong 1, launched in 2011, hosted Shenzhou 9 last
year. After this mission the space module will be replaced by a larger lab named
Soyuz 2-1b Orbits Advanced Russian
A Russian Soyuz 2-1b launch vehicle orbited that country's second Persona optical
reconnaissance satellite on June 7, 2013. Launch from Plesetsk Cosmodrome Area 43/4
took place at 18:37 UTC. The approximately 6.5 tonne digital sensor based spy
telescope was inserted into a low earth orbit about 10 minutes later. Persona
appeared to be in an initial 186 x 683 km x 98.3 deg sun synchronous orbit.
Persona uses a 1.5 meter diameter primary mirror and has a 20 meter focal length.
The first Persona, Kosmos 2441, was orbited on July 26, 2008, but suffered an
electrical failure in orbit.
Ariane 5 Orbits
ATV-4 Cargo Ship
An Ariane 5ES with a storable propellant upper stage
orbited Europes fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) with cargo for the
International Space Station on June 5, 2013. The 2.5 stage rocket lifted off from
ELA 3 at Kourou Space Center in French Guiana at 21:52 UTC, shortly after sunset local
time, to begin the Arianespace VA-213 mission. ATV-4, named in honor of Albert
Einstein, weighed 19,887 kg at launch making it the heaviest Ariane payload to date.
The upper, or second, stage fired twice during the one
hour mission to lift ATV-4 into a 259.4 km x 51.59 deg orbit. It was the year's
sixth launch to ISS.
ATV Albert Einstein carried 2,479 kg of dry cargo and
4,105 kg of water and propellants assigned to ISS use.
It was the fourth Ariane 5ES flight, the 44th
"E" series Ariane 5, and the 69th Ariane 5 of all types.
A four-stage Proton M/Briz M rocked boosted the SES 6
communications satellite into supersynchronous transfer orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on
June 3, 2013. Liftoff from Area 200 Pad 39 took place at 09:18 UTC, beginning a more
than 15.5 hour mission that included five Briz M upper stage burns. The long
duration mission was the result of a long coast to a planned final apogee burn for a
targeted 4,482 x 65,000 km x 26.3 degree insertion orbit.
SES 6 is a 6.1 tonne Astrium E3000 series satellite that
will provide Ku-band and C-band communication services.
It was the year's fourth Proton launch and the 387th
flight overall of the Krunichev rocket. It was the year's 10th orbital launch from
Baikonur, twice as many as runner up Cape Canaveral. Finally, it was the year's 13th
launch powered by a Russian-built first stage and the 19th powered by Russian-built first
stage engines. No other country has accounted for more than two first stage engine
sets year to date.
Flies to ISS
A Soyuz FG rocket boosted Russia's Soyuz TMA-09M with
three crew members on a four orbit, six hour ascent to the International Space Station
from Baikonur Cosmodrome on May 28, 2013. Liftoff frrom Area 1 Pad 5 took place at
20:31 UTC. It was the second use of the fast track ascent for crewed Soyuz
On board were Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin, European Space
Agency flight engineer Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg. The three
crewmembers are expected to stay at the station for 167 days.
It was the year's seventh R-7 launch and the second crewed launch
of the year.
Delta 4 Orbits
The 22nd Delta 4 launch vehicle, a Delta 4M+5,4
consisting of a common booster core augmented by four solid rocket motors, a five meter
diameter Delta cryogenic second stage (DCSS), and a five meter diameter payload fairing,
boosted Wideband Global SATCOM No. 5 into supersynchronous transfer orbit from Cape
Canaveral Florida on May 25, 2013. The 66.3 meter tall liquid hydrogen fueled rocket
lifted off from Space Launch Complex 37B at 00:27 UTC.
DCSS performed two burns. The first placed the
vehicle in a 184.8 x 6,874.6 km x 25.297 deg parking orbit about 20 minutes after liftoff.
After an eight minute coast, the second, 3-minute long burn pushed the 5.988 tonne
Boeing 702 series satellite into a 440.8 x 66,853.5 km x 24 deg transfer orbit.
Spacecraft separation occurred 40 minutes 38.5 seconds after liftoff.
WGS-5 will provide 500 MHz range, X-band, and 1 GHz range
(Ka-band) communication links for the Pentagon. It can support up to 3.6 Gbps data
It was the first Delta 4 launch since
October 2012, when a successful mission was just barely achieved after a leak developed in
the RL10B-2 second stage engine, reducing thrust and increasing burn times. The
WGS-5 launch was delayed by an extensive review of the problem, an inspection of the
RL10B-2 engine, and by implementation of several changes to engine operation.
Atlas 5 Boosts
An Atlas 5-401 lofted the U.S. Air Force GPS 2F-4
navigation satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral on May 15, 2013. It was
the first Atlas 5 launch of a GPS satellite. The two-stage rocket launched from SLC
41 at 21:38 UTC on a mission identified as AV-039 in prior records but no longer
identified as such on press materials by launch provider United Launch Alliance.
Atlas 5 flew on a northeast trajectory from the Cape.
The Centaur second stage performed a long first burn to
reach a 167 x 20,200 km x 55 deg transfer orbit. After a three hour coast to apogee,
Centaur ignited again to lift itself and its payload to a 20,200 km x 55 deg circular
orbit. The 1.54 tonne satellite separated from Centaur 3 hours and 24 minutes after
It was the year's fourth Atlas 5 launch.
A Proton M/Briz M launched Eutelsat 3D into
geosynchronous transfer orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on May 14, 2013. The four
stage rocket lifted off from Area 200 Pad 39 at 16:02 UTC, beginning a 9 hour 13 minute
mission featuring five Briz M upper stage burns. The 5.5 tonne satellite was built
by Europe's Thales Alenia Space using its Spacebus 4000 platform. The Ku and Ka-band
satellite will provide coverage across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
It was the 80th International Launch Services Proton
launch and the 386th Proton.
Europe's second Vega lifted off from Kourou French
Guiana on May 7, 2013, carrying three satellites toward sun synchronous orbits. Vega
lifted off from the ZLV pad at 02:06 UTC to start a two hour mission. The VV-02
flight orbited 140 kg Proba-V (Project for On-Board Autonomy and Vegetation), 120 kg
VNREDSat-1 (a Vietnamese optical satellite), and 1.33 kg ESTCube-1 (the first Estonian
cubesat). The flight also tested Vega's VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter)
multiple satellite dispenser for the first time.
Vegas three solid propellant stages (P80,
Zefiro-23 and Zefiro-9) performed the initial 6 minute 19 second ascent. Vega's AVUM
liquid fourth stage then performed five burns. The first two burns put Proba-V into
an 820 km x 98.7 deg orbit, with spacecraft separation occurring 55 minutes 27 seconds
after liftoff. The second two burns were to place the other two satellites, which
rode inside VESPA, into a 665 x 98.1 deg km orbit. The fifth burn was a planned
deorbit burn for the KB Yuzhnoye powered, EADS built AVUM stage.
With satellites weighing a total of 255 kg and the 383
kg VESPA, Vega was lightly loaded during this VERTA (Vega Research and Technology
Accompaniment) test flight. The rocket is designed to lift 1,500-kg to a 700 km x 90
deg polar orbit.
The first Vega, VV-01, flew successfully in February
2012 on a qualification mission.
A CZ-3B rocket boosted Chinasat 11, a state-owned
communications satellite, into geosynchronous transfer orbit on May 1, 2013 from Xichang
launch center in Sichuan province in southwest China. Liftoff occurred at 16:06
UTC. Satellite separation into a 225 x 43,086 km x 26.64 deg orbit took place about
30 minutes later when the CZ-3B liquid hydrogen third stage completed its second burn.
Chinasat 11 is a 5,234 kg DFH-4 series satellite
developed by the China Academy of Space Technology. It has Ku-band and C-band
It was the 24th CZ-3B launch all time, and the second CZ
launch of 2013.
2-1b/Fregat Launches Navsat
Russia launched a Glonass M navigation satellite from
Plesetsk Cosmodrome on April 26, 2013. The launch by a Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat took place
at 05:23 UTC from Area 43 Pad 4. Glonass M separated into a 19,100 km x 64.8 deg
orbit at 08:55 UTC after the Fregat stage performed an apogee burn.
Glonass has 23 operational satellites and five that are
either spares or are undergoing "in-orbit maintenance".
It was the year's 20th orbital attempt and the sixth R-7
launch, a world-leading number at the moment. This was also the 1,800th R-7 to
actually lift off, the 1,801th to attempt a lift off, and the 1,804th to either lift off
or to be destroyed on the launch pad. TsSKB Progress counts this as number 1,804.
Orbits Gao Fen 1 Observation Satellite
China's first orbital launch of 2013 placed the Gao Fen
1 earth observation satellite into orbit on April 26, 2013. A two-stage CZ-2D,
serial number Y18, performed the launch from Jiuquan launch center in northwest China.
Liftoff took place at 04:13 UTC. Spacecraft separation occurred about 13
minutes later in a 630 x 654 x 98.06 deg km sun-synchronous orbit.
Three microsatellites were also released, including
Ecuador's first satellite, named NEE-01 Pegasus, and satellites from Turkey (Turksat
3USAT) and Argentina (CubeBug 1).
Launched Toward ISS
A Soyuz U orbited ISS cargo ship Progress M-19M from
Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 24, 2013. The 2.5 stage liquid oxygen/kerosene-burner
lifted off from Area 1 Pad 5 at 10:12 UTC. Progress M-19M, loaded with 2.83 tonnes
of supplies and propellant, entered a 193.5 x 247.2 km x 51.65 deg initial orbit.
After reaching orbit, an antenna for the KURS automated
rendezvous system failed to deploy on the Progress spacecraft. Russian flight
controllers have two days to troubleshoot the problem before Progress arrives at the
International Space Station (ISS). Backup manual procedures can be used if the
antenna does not deploy.
Antares Reaches Orbit
After years of preparation, Orbital Science's Antares
launch vehicle succeeded on its first, "COTS Risk Reduction" flight.
Antares A-ONE boosted its 3.8 tonne simulated Cygnus payload to orbit from Wallops Island,
Virginia on April 21, 2013. At about 277.45 tonnes gross liftoff weight, it was the
largest rocket ever to fly from Wallops.
The Ukrainian/Russian/American built rocket rose from
Pad 0A at 21:00 UTC on 332.94 tonnes of thrust produced by its two Aerojet AJ-26 (rebuilt
Russian NK-33 engines dating from the 1970s) LOX/RP1 engines. The engines burned for
230 seconds before shutting down. Separation of the Ukrainian built first stage
occurred five seconds later.
The ATK Castor 30A powered second stage coasted for
about 93 seconds before igniting. During the coast, the payload fairing separated at
320 seconds, followed within ten seconds by separation of the 3.9 meter diameter
interstage. Second stage ignition occurred at T+328 seconds, beginning a 155 second
burn that boosted the vehicle to a 241 x 260 km x 51.6 deg orbit. Castor 30A
averaged 29.83 tonnes of thrust during its burn.
Payload separation occurred about 10 minutes after
engine start. A set of microsatellites subsequently deployed. All of the
satellites and the upper stage are expected to reenter within a few weeks.
It was the first of ten Antares flights planned to occur
during the next three years to haul cargo to the International Space Station. The
next flight will orbit the first live Cygnus cargo hauler on a test flight to ISS.
The remainder of the flights will be operational Cygnus missions, with most using a more
powerful Castor 30XL second stage.
Orbits Biology Research Craft
Russia's Soyuz 2-1A launched BION-M1, carrying a variety
of small animals, into a 252 x 555 km x 64.9 deg orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome,
Kazakhstan on April 19, 2013. Lift off took place at 10:00 UTC from Area 31 Pad
6. BION-M1 includes a spherical reentry module that is planned to land after a one
The payload includes mice, gerbils, geckos, snails,
fish, and micro-organisms, which will be returned in the reentry module.
Bion-M is a 6.5 tonne modernized Vostok type spacecraft.
It uses Vostok's spherical reentry module, but a new Yantar type propulsion module
replaces the original Vostok module. The new propulsion module has solar arrays,
which allow extended missions lasting up to six months.
Six microsatellite payload rode along with Bion-M1,
including AIST 2, Dove 2, BeeSat 2 and 3, SOMP, and OSSI 1.
The year's second Proton M/Briz M boosted Canada's Anik
G1 into geosynchronous transfer orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 15, 2013.
Liftoff from Area 200 Pad 39 occurred at 19:36 UTC, beginning a 9-plus hour mission
featuring five burns of the rocket's Krunichev-built Briz M upper stage. The 4.9
tonne satellite was built by Canada's Space Systems/Loral.
It was the 385th Proton flight, the 79th International
Launch Services Proton launch, and the year's 15th confirmed orbital launch attempt by all
Rolls Out for A-ONE Test Flight
Second Antares First Stage Rolled Out with First
"A-ONE" Flight Vehicle on April 6, 2013.
The first Antares flight
vehicle, consisting of the second first stage to be delivered and the first Castor 30
stage, rolled out to Wallops Island, Virginia's Pad 0A on April 6, 2013. The vehicle
includes a dummy Cygnus spacecraft.
The A-ONE flight, expected to take place in mid-April
2013, will be a ten minute test flight slated to boost the second stage and payload
simulator into a 250 x 300 km x 51.6 deg orbit.
Antares, with a Ukranian first stage powered by Russian
engines, topped by an American second stage and payload fairing, is the world's most
international launch vehicle. It is designed to loft the Italian/American Cygnus
spacecraft to the International Space Station.
First Crew Launch of 2013
A Soyuz FG rocket boosted Russia's Soyuz TMA-08M with
three crew members into a planned fast track orbit to the International Space Station from
Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 28, 2013. Liftoff frrom Area 1 Pad 5 took place at
20:43 UTC. For the first time, the Soyuz was planned to dock with ISS less than five
hours after liftoff.
On board were Russia's Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander
Misurkin and U.S. astronaut Christopher Cassidy. They will join the Expedition 35
crew at ISS, which includes Canada's Chris Hadfield, NASA's Thomas Marshburn, and Russia's
It was the 1,800th R-7, according to TsSKB Progress
lists, but those numbers include several pre-launch on-pad accidents that are not counted
as launch attempts in other launch databases. R-7, the world's most oft-flown
orbital launcher, has flown continously since 1957, initially as an ICBM but primarily as
the booster for a long series of manned and unmanned launch vehicles.
On March 26, 2013, Russia's Proton M/Briz M returned to
flight after a nearly four month grounding following a December failure. The 384th
Proton lifted Mexico's Satmex 8 communications satellite into geosynchronous transfer
orbit. Liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome Area 200 Pad 39 in Kazakhstan occurred at
19:06 UTC to start a 9 hour 13 minute long mission. The Briz M upper stage performed
five burns during the mission. Satmex 8 is a SS/Loral 1300 series satellite that
weighed nearly 5.5 tonnes at liftoff.
It was the 78th International Launch Services Proton
Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of
Moscow builds both Proton and Briz. On December 8, 2012, a Briz M upper stage failed
during the fourth of five planned burns, leaving Yamal 402 in a low transfer orbit.
The satellite subsequently raised itself into an operational geostationary orbit, but at a
cost of four years of its planned 15 year life. A Failure Review Oversight Board
(FROB) determined that a turbopump was damaged during the third burn, leading to its
failure during the fourth burn. The turbopump was damaged when it ingested oxidizer
in gas, rather than liquid form. Oxidizer was heated to a gas state due to high
thermal soak-back of the engine to the Briz M stage prior to the third burn.
Atlas 5 Launches Early Warning Satellite
An Atlas 5-401 successfully boosted SBIRS GEO-2 (Space
Based Infrared System Geosynchronous) into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) from Cape
Canaveral on March 19, 2013. The two-stage rocket lifted off from SLC 41 at 2121 UTC
to begin its 43 minute, 12.6 second mission - a mission identified as AV-037 in prior
records, but no longer identified as such publically by launch provider United Launch
Alliance. It was the third Atlas 5 to fly in 2013.
Atlas 5 flew east from the Cape. Its Energomash
RD-180 first stage engine burned for 243 seconds. Six seconds after RD-180 shut
down, the Centaur second stage separated. Centaur's RL10A-4-2 LH2/LOX engine ignited
259 seconds after liftoff to perform the first of two burns. The first nearly 11
minute burn put the vehicle into a parking orbit. The 4 meter diameter payload
fairing separated 8 seconds after Centaur ignited. After a 9 minute coast, Centaur's
second, 4-minute long burn lofted SBIRS GEO-2 into a planned 185 x 35,786 km x 22.19 deg
GTO. Spacecraft separation occurred 15 minutes later at the 43 minute 12.6 second
SBIRS is a follow-on to the long-running,
once-classified Defense Support Program (DSP), which used infrared sensing telescopes
mounted in spinning satellites in geosynchronous orbit to provide early warning to the
U.S. for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launches. SBIRS GEO-2 is a 3-axis
stabilized A2100M Lockheed Martin satellite believed to weigh about 4.5 tonnes. It
has a scanning sensor and a staring sensor and is more capable than DSP, but is also far
more expensive - so expensive that the entire program at one point had to be scaled back
from original plans.
Epsilon, and Delta 2
Space Launch Report has added new reports on Europe's Ariane 6 development efforts, Japan's upcoming low-cost Epsilon launch vehicle, and has wrapped up a 15 part review
of the U.S. Thor/Delta family. These join many other
launch vehicle fact sheets on the Library page.
Propulsion Anomaly Resolved After Successful Falcon 9 Launch (Updated 3/26/13)
The fifth SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket orbited a Dragon
spacecraft on NASA's CRS-2 International Space Station resupply mission on March 1, 2013,
but Dragon suffered a problem shortly after reaching orbit. The initally unannounced
problem occurred around the time that Dragon's solar arrays should have deployed, a
process that occurs within minutes of spacecraft separation from the Falcon 9 second
Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Launch
Complex 40 at 15:10 UTC and provided an uneventful nine minute, two-stage ascent to orbit.
Dragon, filled with 847.8 kg of ISS supplies and 201.8 kg of packing materials,
separated into a 199 x 323 km x 51.66 deg orbit, and was visible moving away from the
second stage in an initially stable fashion.
Shortly after launch, SpaceX head Elon Musk tweeted that
three of Dragon's four thruster pods had been inhibited from initiallizing. Crews
were working to command an override of those inhibits. Solar array deployment was
delayed until at least two thruster pods were brought on line. Each pod contains
four or five hypergolic Draco thrusters, for a total of 18 thrusters.
After one orbit, Dragon was still in free drift with
only Thruster Pod 2 working. A problem had occurred that prevented helium
pressurization of the hypergolic thruster oxidizer tanks in the affected thruster pods,
but by 16:40 Mr. Musk was reporting that "Thruster Pod 3 tank pressure trending
positive" and that the team was "preparing to deploy solar arrays."
The arrays deployed shortly after that announcement.
Drifts from Falcon's Second Stage After Separation. The Trunk and Stowed Solar
Arrays are Visible
At 19:59 UTC, nearly 4.5 hours after liftoff, Musk
tweeted: "Pods 1 and 4 now online and thrusters engaged. Dragon transitioned from
free drift to active control." Dragon subsequently performed a series of orbit
raising burns, beginning with a brief five-second test burn at 21:37 UTC and a nearly 36
second long perigee-raising burn at 22:05 UTC.
Dragon's helium pressurization problems occurred after
main isolation valves were opened to release high pressure helium system. The helium
passes through regulators that drop its pressure to a level that can be safely fed into
the hypergolic propellant tanks of the pressure-fed Dragon reaction control system.
Check valves ensure that helium flows only into the tanks and that no propellant or helium
flows back out.
An obstruction, or obstructions, appeared somewhere in
the helium feed system. Elon Musk stated that one possibility was at the check
valves, but that other possibilities existed. Ice formation due to moisture in the
system is one possible explanation, for example. After waiting for ground station
passes to allow for command uplinks - satellite links were impossible due to Dragon's
drifting - SpaceX engineers cycled the helium isolation valves to "hammer" the
system with slugs of pressure, a process that eventually cleared the lines and allowed the
tanks to be pressurized.
Arrives at ISS
The issues delayed Dragon's planned orbit raising burns,
which in turn delayed its planned March 2 ISS rendezvous. On March 2, NASA announced
that after a safety review it had approved a March 3 attempt.
CRS-2 Dragon rendezvoused with and berthed to ISS on
March 3, 2013. The station's Canadarm 2, controled by astronaut Kevin Ford, captured
Dragon at 10:31 UTC. Ground controlers in Houston directed the arm to berth Dragon
to the station's Harmony module, a process completed at 13:56 UTC.
CRS-2 Dragon Approaches Spashdown
Dragon stayed at ISS until March 26. Astronauts
off-loaded cargo and then reloaded the capsule with 1,210.9 kg of materials and 159.7
kg of packaging to be returned to Earth. The CRS-2 Dragon reentered a few hours
after unberthing from ISS and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja,
Prior to the launch, the CRS-2 Falcon 9, which
reportedly will be the final Falcon v1.0 variant to fly, performed a two-second long
static test fire on the pad, on February 25, 2013.
Indias Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
performed its C-20 mission on February 25, 2013, lofting seven satellites into sun
synchronous orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, India. The "Core
Alone" PSLV lifted off from the First Launch Pad at 12:31 UTC. The rocket boosted its
payloads to 781 x 791 km x 98.5 deg orbits.
SARAL (Satellite with ARGOS and AltiK) was the 409 kg primary payload. The satellite will
be operated jointly by ISRL and France's CNES to study ocean surface topography.
Secondary payloads included two Canadian satellites and four nanosatellites. Sapphire, a
148 kg surveillance satellite, was built by the U.K.'s Surrey Satellite Technolgy Ltd for
Canadas Department of National Defense. Canadian Space Agency's 74 kg NEOSSat (Near
Earth Object Surveillance Satellite) will look for asteroids with its 15 cm telescope.
The University of Toronto coordinated three nanaosatellites (UniBRITE, TUGSAT-1, and
AAUSAT3) involving organizations in Canada, Austria and Poland. Together these weighed
about 31 kg. A fourth nanosat was Britian's STRaND 1 (Surrey Training Research and
Nanosatellite Development), built and operated by SSTL. It included Android smartphone
Atlas 5 Launches
Landsat (updated March 5, 2013)
An Atlas 5-401 successfully orbited NASA's Landsat Data
Continunity Mission (LCDM) satellited from Vandenberg Air Force Base on February 11,
2013. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 3 East occurred at 18:02 UTC. After a
14.4 minute ascent to a 166 x 693 km x 92.65 deg parking orbit, a 55 minute Centaur coast,
and a three minute long second burn of the RL10 liquid hydrogen fueled engine, LCDM
separated into a 661 x 676 km x 98.2 deg sun synchronous orbit.
LCDM is a 2.77 tonne earth observation satelitte built
by Orbital Sciences. It was NASA's second satellite launched by an Atlas in two
weeks. Because Atlas 5-401 is able to lift 6.7 tonnes to sun synchronous orbit, the
excess capacity was used for a third RL10 burn to expel the Centaur stage from Earth orbit
into a heliocentric disposal orbit.
It was the sixth Atlas 5 launch from Vandenberg AFB and
the first for NASA. Including this flight, seven of the year's first nine launches
were powered off the pad by Russian rocket engines.
A Soyuz U rocket orbited Russia's Progress M-18M cargo
ship from Baikonur Cosmodrome on February 11, 2013 on a four orbit quick ascent to
the International Space Station. The 2.5 stage rocket lifted off from Area 1
Pad 5 at 14:41 UTC to start its "rapid rendezvous" profile designed to redezvous
with ISS about six hours after lift off.
Progress M-18M carried 2.64 tonnes of propellant, gases,
water, and dry cargo. With the launch, R-7 becomes the first rocket to fly more than
once during the year.
5 Orbits Two Satellites
An Ariane 5 ECA orbited two communication satellites
from Kourou, French Guiana on February 7, 2013. Arianespace mission VA-212 lofted
Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a into geostationary transfer orbit during a 37 minute
flight that began with a 21:36 UTC liftoff from ELA 3.
The combined payload weighed 9.5 tonnes. Amazonas
3, a Space Systems/Loral 1300 platform, weighed 6.265 tonnes. It will provide high
power communication services in Europe, America and North Africa.
Azerspace/Africasat-1a is a 3 tonne Orbital Sciences Star-2 satellite built for
Azercosmos OJSC, Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic
of Azerbaijan. It will provide a communications services for Azerbaijan, Central
Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Amazonas 3 rode in the upper position atop the Sylda
payload adapter. Final orbit was 247 x 35,914 km x 5.99 deg. It was the 40th
Ariane 5 ECA flight and the 39th success.
2-1a/Fregat Orbits Six Globalstar Satellites
A Soyuz 2-1a with a Fregat upper stage performed the
ST-26 mission for Starsem on February 6, 2013 when it orbited six second-generation
Globalstar satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Liftoff from Area 31 Pad 6 occurred
at 16:04 UTC. The Fregat stage deployed the six 700 kg Thales Alenia Space-built
satellites into approximately 920 km x 52 deg orbits one hour 40 minutes later.
The launch completed Globalstar's second-generation
24-satellite constellation, an effort that required four launches beginning in 2010.
It was also the final Starsem launch planned from Baikonur.
Zenit Fails (Updated Febraury 2, 2013)
A Zenit 3SL/Blok DMSL failed shortly after launch from
Sea Launch Odyssey launch platform in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on February 1, 2013,
destroying the rocket and its Intelsat 27 satellite payload. It was the fourth Sea
Launch failure in 35 flights, breaking a string of 10 consecutive successes spanning six
Liftoff occurred at 06:56 UTC. The rocket rose for
about 23 seconds before appearing to veer just before its RD-171M main engine suddenly cut
out, darkening the scene. Webcast video then showed a brief flash of light about 58
seconds after liftoff, possibly indicating the time of impact with the ocean surface.
No injuries or damage to Sea Launch floating systems were reported.
The behavior was consistent with an emergency cut off
command given to the main engine, a range safety procedure used with Ukrainian and Russian
rockets that have flown out of control.
Sea Launch later announced that it had lost telemetry
signals about 40 seconds after liftoff, and that it would conduct an investigation to
determine the cause. Russian news services reported that the flight had been
terminated after drifting from its planned flight path. RD-171M engine manufacturer
NPO Energomash director Vladimir Solntsev stated that the engine had worked nominally and
that it was not involved in the failure.
Failure Review Oversight Board
On February 2, Sea Launch announced that 11.4 seconds into flight, "the Zenit flight
control system detected an exceedance of a pre-programmed roll limit" indicating a
loss of vehicle control, triggering the on-board thrust termination sequence. The
sequence terminated the RD-171M main engine thrust 20 seconds into the flight. The
rocket and its payload impacted the Pacific Ocean surface about 4 km from the Odyssey
Sea Launch announced that a Failure Review Oversight
Board (FROB) would investigate the failure, focusing on systems involved in the thrust
vector control of the first stage engine.
27 Launch Vehicle During Testing at Long Beach
Intelsat 27 was a 6.215 tonne satellite built by Boeing
Satellite Services. It would have been inserted into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Zenit 3SL consists of a two-stage rocket Zenit 2S
developed by SDO Yuzhnoye of Ukraine, topped by a Blok DMSL upper stage manufactured by
Russia's RSC Energia, the majority owner of Sea Launch itself. Russia's NPO
Energomash provides engines for the first two stages.
It was the 80th Zenit series launch since the family
entered service in 1985, and the 13 failure.
Sea Launch had conducted four successful missions since
emerging from its 2009 bankruptcy.
A two-stage Atlas 5-401 successfully orbited NASA's
TDRS-K (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite) from Cape Caneveral on January 31, 2013,
following the shortest ever Atlas 5 launch campaign. Liftoff from Space Launch
Complex 41 took place at 01:48 UTC. TDRS-K, a Boeing Space System 601 model that
weighed 3.454 tonnes, separated into a 4,313 x 35,789 km x 25.9 deg geosynchronous
transfer orbit (GTO) about 1 hour 46 minutes later.
The Russian powered first stage burned for 4 minutes 2
seconds. (It was the second Energomash powered orbital launch within 24 hours.)
This was followed by a 14 minute 12 second long Centaur second stage burn that
boosted the vehicle into a 183 x 24,854 km x 26.5 deg parking orbit. After a 1 hour,
33 minute coast, Centaur reignited for a brief burn to accelerate TDRS-K into its final
United Launch Alliance processed this Atlas faster by
skipping the standard wet dress rehearsal process. Skipping WDR saved time, but
slightly increased the odds of problems cropping up during the final propellant loading
phase of the countdown.
Orbital Launch from South Korea
A joint Russian/South Korean rocket named "Korean
Space Launch Vehicle-1" (KSLV-1) successfully orbited South Korea's STSAT-2C
satellite from Naro Space Center in South Korea on January 30, 2013. The success
followed two previous KSLV launch failures from the same site in 2009 and 2010. The
flight added South Korea to the list of 13 countries that have hosted orbital
The two-stage rocket, consisting of a Russian Krunichev
Angara-derived kerosene/LOX first stage topped by a South Korean KARI solid fuel second
stage, lifted off at 07:00 UTC. The 33 meter tall, 2.9 meter diameter,
140 tonne rocket rose on 170 tonnes of thrust produced by a single Energomash RD-151
staged combustion cycle engine. The stage burned for almost 229 seconds, with
payload fairing separation occuring shortly before the RD-151 shut down.
The KARI second stage, consisting of a solid motor
attached beneath an approximately 2 meter diameter structure that housed guidance and
flight control equipment, then separated and coasted for a couple of minutes,
approximately, before beginning its nearly 58 second long burn. The 2.4 meter long,
1 meter diameter second stage motor produced 8 tonnes of thrust while using 3-axis control
provided by reaction control thrusters during its coast and burn.
100 kg STSAT-2C separated into a 296 x 1,513 km x 80.3
deg orbit about nine minutes after liftoff.
The 2009 KSLV-1 failure was caused by one of the two
payload fairing halves failing to separate. In 2010, the second KSLV-1 exploded two
minutes into flight, during the first stage burn.
H-2A Launches Japan Spysats
An H-2A-202 with two SRB-A strap on motors orbited a
pair of intelligence gathering satellites for Japan on January 27, 2012. H-2A F-22
carried Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) Radar-4 and the IGS Optical 5 Demonstration
Satellite into sun synchronous orbit from Yoshinobu Launch Complex 1 at the Tanegashima
Space Center. Both satellites separated within 26 minutes of the 04:40 UTC launch.
The radar satellite, which rode in the uppermost position in the
payload fairing, is believed to provide a resolution of less than a meter. The
demonstration optical satellite may provide resolution of less than 0.5 meters.
F-22 flew southeast from Tanegashima, then turned south in a
substantial dogleg maneuver in order to keep rocket debris off of the east coast of the
Philippines. The maneuver costs H-2A substantial performance, limiting it to about
4.4 tonnes payload to sun synchronous orbit.
Orbits Russian Defense Satellites
A Rokot with a Briz-KM upper stage orbited three
Strela-3M (Rodnik-S) military communication satellites from Area 133 Pad 3 at Russia's
Plesetsk cosmodrome on January 15, 2013, in the year's first orbital launch. Liftoff
occurred at 16:24 UTC. The satellites, identified as Kosmos-2482, 2483, and 2484, were
inserted by the upper stage into near 1,500 km x 83 deg orbits at 18:09 UTC. The
Briz KM stage performed an initial burn to reach orbit, then performed an insertion burn
at transfer orbit apogee.
Strela-3M satellites weigh about 225 kg each. The
flight had been postponed several weeks by problems with the Briz-KM control system.