|Space Launch Report Archive
Orbital Science Corporation's tenth
Minotaur 1 launch vehicle boosted the first Operationally Responsive Space satellite
(ORS-1) into orbit from Wallops Island on June 30, 2011. The four-stage solid-fuel
rocket lifted off from Launch Area 0B at 03:09 UTC. ORS-1 separated into a 400 km x
40 deg orbit 11 minutes 48 seconds later.
Minotaur 1 Launches ORS-1
ORS-1 is a 434 kg Pentagon Operationally Responsive
Space Office satellite designed to provide tactical reconnaissance to forces in the field.
ORS-1 employs a Goodrich Corporation optical sensor that flies on the U-2
reconnaissance aircraft. Goodrich integrated the sensor onto an ATK satellite bus at
its Danbury, Conn., facility. The satellite cost less than $100 million and was
launched less than 30 months after it was ordered.
It was the fourth Minotaur launch from Wallops Island.
The flight was also the 30th orbital launch attempt of 2011..
Soyuz Launches Spysat
A Soyuz-U rocket launched Kosmos 2472 toward low earth
orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on June 27, 2011. The satellite
was believed to be a Kobalt M military photo reconnaissance satellite. Liftoff from
Area 16 Pad 2 occurred at 1600 UTC. The ascent took about eight minutes.
Kobalt M satellites have, in the past, periodically
returned film in reentry canisters during their multi-month missions, which end with a
primary capsule reentry. They typically enter orbits that range from 240 to 485 km
Soyuz-U Launches Progress M-11M Cargo Ship
Russia launch its
third Progress cargo ship of 2011 on June 21, 2011. A Soyuz-U boosted Progress M-11M
with 2.6 tonnes of cargo into orbit from Baikonur's Area 1 Pad 5 at 14:38 UTC.
Progress reached a 194 x 240 km x 51.6 deg orbit about nine minutes after liftoff.
Progress M-11M is
expected to dock with ISS on June 23. The ship will bring food, water, propellant,
and gifts from families for the six ISS crewmembers. Cargo included fresh apples,
grapefruits, lemons, onions, pickles, cheese, condensed milk, chocolate candies, dry
fruit, nuts, DVDs and books.
The spaceship is
carrying a new filling for the shield, which protects astronauts from space radiation. It
lessens the radiation impact by 20% to 60%.
Launch System Winners and Losers
Descriptions of SLS alternatives
studied by NASA's Requirements Analysis Cycle (RAC) teams, including the Shuttle-Derived
"winner" and the kerosene/LOX and modular "losers".
by: Ed Kyle, June 17, 2011.
China Orbits Communication Satellite
China's most powerful rocket, a CZ-3B, boosted Chinasat
10 (Zhongxing 10) into supersynchronous transfer orbit from XiChang launch center on June
20, 2011. The 3.5 stage rocket lifted off from Pad 2 at 16:13 UTC on more than
600 tonnes of thrust provided by eight UDMH/N2O4 hypergolic YF-20B engines, four on the
first stage and one on each of four strap-on boosters. Chinasat 10, a 5.1 tonne
satellite, was injected into a 207 km x 42,225 km x 26.3° deg orbit about 26 minutes
after liftoff, after the rocket's liquid hydrogen upper stage had performed its second
Zhongxing-10, a DFH-4 series
spacecraft, was manufactured by China Academy of Space Technology (CALT). It will
provide communication, broadcasting and data transmission services for China and the
Asia-Pacific region, replacing Zhongxing-5B, which was launched in 1998.
It was the second CZ-3B success
since a failed August 2009 launch deposited Palapa D1 into a lower than planned orbit.
That failure was caused by a burn-through of one of the two upper stage YF-75
engine gas generators due to foreign matter or ice blocking a liquid hydrogen injector.
Twelve of 14 CZ-3B launches performed since 1996 have succeeded.
Orbits Second Satellite
Iran used its two-stage Safir launch
vehicle to successfully orbit
its second satellite, named Rassad (Observation), on June 15,
2011. The launch took place from the Dasht-e-Kavir
desert southeast of Semnan, Iran.
Rassad was tracked in a 236 x 299 km x 55.7 deg orbit
along with the second stage, although Iranian reports said that the satellite was expected
to enter a 260 km orbit. The satellite, reported to weigh 15.3 kg, carries an Earth
imager and is powered by solar panels.
Iran launched its first satellite, Omid (Hope), in 2009, which made it the ninth country to join
the "Space Club". The success followed an initial Safir launch failure in
Iran's Safir launcher is believed to have been
derived from Iran's Shahab ("Shooting Star") 3 intermediate range ballistic
missile (IRBM) series, itself thought to have been based on North Korea's No Dong missile.
The road-mobile rocket is erected by a transporter-erector next to a retractable
umbilical tower on a flat pad. The tower, which is retracted shortly before launch,
is used to fuel the rocket and to provide arming access to the vehicle and payload.
Launches are aimed toward the southeast, toward the Arabian Sea.
Delta 2 Orbits
Delta 354, a Delta 2-7320-10C with three strap-on motors
boosting a two-stage core vehicle topped by a 10 foot diameter composite payload fairing,
launched Argentina's SAC-D earth observing spacecraft into sun synchronous orbit from
NASA's Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on June 10, 2011.
Liftoff occurred at 14:20 UTC.
SAC-D (Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas) carried NASA's Aquarius sensor package.
Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE) built
the SAC-D spacecraft and some sensors. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California and Goddard Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md were responsible for the Aquarius
sensor package, which will map ocean surface salinity to better understand the links
between ocean circulation, the global cycling of freshwater and climate. SAC-D also
carried instruments from France and Italy.
Delta's second stage fired twice to place 1,350 kg SAC-D
into a 657 km x 98 deg orbit. Spacecraft separation occurred about 54 minutes after
Delta 354 was the 149th Delta 2, the 338th Thor-based
Delta, and the 604th Thor-based orbital launch attempt. It was also the 717th
Thor-based launch, including suborbital attempts, in the family's 54 years of service.
Only two more Delta 2 launches remain on the schedule. Unassembled parts for
several more additional unassigned vehicles exist.
Launches "Digital" Soyuz TMA-02M with ISS Crew
Soyuz TMA-02M with three crew for International Space
Station Expedition 28 lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Area 1 Pad 5 on June 7,
2011. The 1,771st R-7 rocket, flying in a Soyuz-FG configuration, orbited the
7.2 tonne spacecraft after a 20:12 UTC liftoff. On board were NASA's Michael Fossum,
Russia's Sergei Volkov, and Japan's Satoshi Furukawa.
It was the 27th crewed Soyuz launch in support of ISS,
and the 113th launch, manned or unmanned, for ISS since 1998. One-third of
worldwide orbital launches year to date have been for ISS.
Ariane 5 Orbits
An Ariane 5 ECA launched two communication satellites
from Kourou Space Center on May 20, 2011. The VA-202 mission lifted off from ELA-3
at 20:38 UTC with Asia's ST-2 and India's GSAT-8. Both satellite's were deployed
into geosynchronous transfer orbit during a 31-minute mission.
ST-2 is a 5.09 tonne DS2000 satellite built by
Japans Mitsubishi Electric Corporation for Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and
Taiwans Chunghwa Telecom Company. in delivering IP-based fixed and
mobile, voice and data transmission satellite services to businesses especially
direct broadcast TV operators and maritime companies in Asia and the Middle East. ST-2 is
the first Mitsubishi satellite built for a non-Japanese customer.
GSAT-8 was built by the Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) and weighed about 3.1 tonnes.
A 705 tonne Proton M/Briz M rocket carried Telstar
14R/Estrela do Sul 2 into orbit from Area 200 Pad 39 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on
May 20, 2011. Liftoff occurred at 19:15 UTC to begin a 9 hour 13 minute mission that
included five burns by the Briz M upper stage. The final targeted orbit was 8,850 x
35,786 km x 13.8 deg.
Telstar 14R/Estrela do Sul 2 is 5.0 tonne Space
Systems/Loral communication satellite built for Telesat Canada.
It was the year's first Proton launch.
NASA space shuttle Endeavour
lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida's Launch
Pad 39A on May 16, 2011. Liftoff ocurred at 12:56 UTC . Endeavour's final
launch began the STS-134 mission to the International Space Station.
During the STS-134 mission, Endeavour and its six-member
crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS), Express Logistics Carrier-3, a
high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for the Dextre robotic helper to the
space station. Crew members include Mission Specialists Greg Chamitoff, Andrew
Feustel, Roberto Vittori with the European Space Agency and Michael Fincke, Pilot Greg H.
Johnson, and Commander Mark Kelly.
Endeavour's first launch attempt on April 29 was
scrubbed because of a faulty power distribution box called the aft load control assembly-2
One more Shuttle flight, by Atlantis this summer, will
close out the 30-year long Shuttle program. The solid rocket boosters and external
tank for that STS-135 mission have already been stacked.
5 Orbits Early Warning Satellite
Atlas 5-401 tail number AV-022
successfully boosted SBIRS GEO 1 into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 7,
2011. The two-stage 333 tonne rocket lifted off from Space
Launch Complex 41 at 18:10 UTC. AV-022's Centaur upper stage burned twice to
insert SBIRS toward a targeted 185 x 35,786 km x 21.64 deg orbit. Spacecraft
separation occurred about 43 minutes after launch, following a 15 minute post-insertion
SBIRS GEO 1 is the first geosynchronous component of the
updated Space Based Infrared System. The Lockheed Martin A2100 satellite weighed
4,833 kg at liftoff.
AV-022 was the third of up to five Atlas 5 launches
planned for 2011. It was also the year's 20th world-wide orbital launch attempt.
The flight was the 50th combined Atlas 5, Delta 2, and Delta 4 launch performed
under the United Launch Alliance umbrella since the consortium was formed in December
2006. All 50 reached orbit, but one Atlas 5 launch vehicle suffered a 2007 upper
stage failure that left its NRO payload short of its planned orbit.
2-1A/Fregat Launches Meridian Milcomsat
A Soyuz 2-1A with a Fregat upper stage launched a
Meridian military communications satellite for Russia on May 4, 2011. The 3.5 stage
rocket lifted off from Plesetsk Cosmodrome's Area 43 Pad 4 at 1741 UTC. Soyuz 2-1A,
an updated Soyuz with a digital control system and a larger-diameter payload fairing,
lofted the Fregat upper stage and its Meridian payload to near-orbital velocity.
Fregat fired to reach an initial orbit, then fired twice more to push Meridian toward its
planned 1,000 x 39,712 km x 62.8° deg "Molniya" type 12 hour orbit. A
fourth and final Fregat burn after Meridian separated lowered the stage's orbit.
It was the year's fifth R-7 flight, accounting for more
than one-quarter of the world's orbital launches in 2011 to date.
Orbits Progress M-10M
Progress M-10M, lifted off from Baikonur
Cosmodrome's Area 1 Pad 5 on April 27, 2011 with cargo for the International Space
Station. The 2.5 stage Soyuz-U launch vehicle lifted off at 13:05 UTC and reached
orbit about nine minutes later. The robot cargo ship carried 2.7 tonnes of dry
cargo, propellant, water, and oxygen for the station.
Progress M-10M, the second Progress launch
of 2011 and the sixth launch worldwide in support of ISS since January 1, will have to
complete its planned ISS docking before the STS-134 launch can occur. Both events
are currently planned for April 29.
Launches Satcom Pair
The 30th Ariane 5 ECA launched communications satellites
for Abu Dhabi and Intelsat from Guiana Space Center at Kourou on April 22, 2011. L558, a
2.5 stage 780 tonne rocket lifted off from ELA 3 at 21:37 UTC. After a 35 minute
mission, the ECA upper stage inserted both satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit
Yahsat 1A, an Astrium Eurostar E3000 satellite weighing
about 5,965 kg at launch, was deployed first. Intelsat New Dawn, a 3,000 kg Star 2
series satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, was deployed after the Sylda 5
adapter was jettisonned. The combined payload mass of 8,965 kg was the heaviest ever
launched by an Ariane 5 to GTO.
The V201 launch had suffered an unprecedented
last-second pad abort on March 30 when an actuator on the core stage Vulcain 2 main engine
failed to respond properly during automated checks after the engine ignited but prior to
solid motor ignition. The rocket was rolled back to its assembly building where
several actuators were replaced prior to the April 22 launch.
PSLV-C16 Orbits Three Satellites
India's PSLV-C16, the 18th ISRO Polar Satellite Launch
Vehicle, orbited 1.206 tonne ResourceSat-2 and two microsatellites (0.092 tonne
Indo-Russian YouthSat and Singapore's 0.106 tonne X-Sat) from Sriharikota on April 20,
2011. PSLV-C16 was a standard PSLV with six S9 type solid strap-on motors. The
rocket lifted off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota
at 04:42 UTC. PSLV-C16 aimed the satellites toward an 822 km polar sun synchronous
It was ISRO's first launch since the GSLV-F06 failure in
December 2010. PSLV-C16 scored the 16th PSLV success in 18 flights performed since
the 1993 premier. The rocket was the first standard PSLV to fly since 2007.
Atlas 5 AV-027, a 411 model with one strap on solid
booster and a four meter diameter payload fairing, launched the NROL-34 mission from
Vandenberg AFB on April 15, 2011. The 2.5 stage, Russian-powered rocket lifted off
from SLC 3E at 04:24 UTC. A news blackout beginning shortly after second stage
ignition prevented independent determination of launch success.
Observers spotted a pair of NOSS (Naval Ocean
Surveillance System) type signals intelligence satellites in 1,100 x 63.4 deg orbits
several days after the NROL-34 launch.
It was the 25th Atlas 5 launch since the EELV premiered
in 2002, an average of less than three per year. The low launch rate is responsible,
in part, for recently announced substantial Atlas launch price increases.
China continued building its Beidou navigation
satellite constellation with a successful launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center
on April 9, 2011. The 20th CZ-3A rocket boosted Beidou 8 into an inclined
geoysynchronous transfer orbit with a 55 degree inclination after lifting off from Pad 3
at 20:47 UTC. Three-stage CZ-3A is capable of lifting more than 2.6 tonnes to the
China plans to launch another two-dozen Beidou
satellites to complete its initial constelltion. The campaign swelled China's launch
totals last year, and the tempo will continue in 2011.
Launches Soyuz TMA-21 with ISS Crew
Soyuz TMA-21 with three crew for the International Space
Station launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Area 1 Pad 5 on April 4, 2011. A 2.5
stage Soyuz-FG launch vehicle boosted the 7.2 tonne spacecraft into orbit after a 22:18
On board the year's first crewed Soyuz were
commander Alexander Samokutyaev, flight engineer Andrey Borisenko and NASA astronaut
Ronald Garan. Their Soyuz orbital module was named "Gagarin" in honor of
the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic April 12, 1961 Vostok 1 orbital flight.