|Space Launch Report Archive
and Strela Fly to Orbit
Two more successful orbital launches occurred on June 27
and 28, ending a four-day span that saw four orbital launches world-wide.
Russias Strela boosted a Kondor radar imaging
satellite into orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 175 Silo 59 on June 27. The
three-stage rocket, a minimally modified UR-100NUTTKh ICBM (also known as RS-18B or in
NATO as SS-19 Mod 2 "Stilleto"), lifted off at 17:53 UTC. Kondor,
weighing 1.15 tonnes, was inserted into a 499 x 521 km x 74.74 ° orbit.
It was the first Strela launch since a 2003 inaugural
test flight. The more commonly flown Rokot is also based on the UR-100NUTTKh, but is
fitted with a Briz KM third stage rather than Strela's slightly modified ICBM warhead bus.
Strela burns storable hypergolic propellant, weighs about 105 tonnes at liftoff, is
28.27 meters long and 2.5 meters in diameter, and can lift 1.7 tonnes to LEO.
Orbital's Pegasus XL made an increasingly rare
appearance on June 28 when it successfully lofted NASA's IRIS solar telescope into sun
synchronous orbit after a drop launch off California's coast near Vandenberg AFB.
The drop from Orbital's Stargazer L-1011 aircraft occurred at 02:27:46 UTC. IRIS
(the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) entered a 670 x 623 km x 97.9 deg orbit.
The third stage coasted for about five minutes to apogee before firing to accelerate IRIS
into its orbit. Lockheed Martin built the 183 kg IRIS satellite. It will
perform ultraviolet wavelength observations of the sun.
It was the 42nd Pegasus launch and the 32nd flight of a
Pegasus XL, but it was also only the second Pegasus to fly since 2008. No additional
firm Pegasus launch commitments have been announced, though possibilities exist for a
flight or two several years from now.
Two Soyuz Launches in Two Hours
Two Russia Soyuz rockets performed successful orbital
launches from bases in different hemispheres within a two hour period on June 25,
A Soyuz 2-1b flew first, carrying 6.58 tonne Resurs P1
into a low Earth orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrone Area 31 Pad 6. The rocket lifted off
at 17:28 UTC and reached orbit about nine minutes later. Resurs P1 is a remote
sensing satellite that will provide high-resolution digital imagry of Earth for the
Russian government and for international customers.
Another Soyuz 2-1b, topped by a Fregat upper stage,
performed the second launch from the ELS pad at French Guiana at 19:27 UTC. The
rocket, flying Arianespace mission VS05, carried four 700 kg O3b broadband communications
satellites into an unusual 7,830 km x 0.04 deg orbit. Fregat performed three burns
prior to separation of the first pair of satellites. A short fourth burn by the
Fregat reaction control system preceeded separation of the second pair of satellites,
which occurred 2 hours 22 minutes after liftoff. After separation, Fregat performed
two more burns to reach a slightly higher disposal orbit. O3b intends to
deploy a constellation of spacecraft to provide broadband internet services. Thales
Alenia Space built the satellites.
China 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 minutes later.
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.