Autor Wątek: [SFN] Long March, Soyuz and Falcon rockets topped 2019’s launch leaderboard  (Przeczytany 1136 razy)

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Long March, Soyuz and Falcon rockets topped 2019’s launch leaderboard
January 2, 2020 Stephen Clark


A Soyuz-FG booster lifts off July 20, 2019, with the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft carrying Alexander Skvortsov, Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan t the International Space Station. Credit: Roscosmos

China led the world with 34 orbital launch attempts in 2019 — including two failures — followed by 22 flights from Russian-operated launch pads and 21 satellite delivery missions originating from U.S. spaceports, all of which were successful.

There were 102 orbital launch attempts worldwide in 2019, 97 of which reached orbit. That’s down from 114 orbital launch attempts in 2018, of which 112 achieved orbit, but 2019’s final launch tally was above the annual average from the last five years.

The number of U.S. and Chinese launches was down in 2019 compared with 2018, but Russian rockets flew more often last year than the year before.

The top-level numbers 2019’s launch record tell only part of the story.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of China’s year in launches came in December with the successful return-to-flight of the country’s Long March 5 launcher — China’s biggest rocket — after a grounding the lasted two-and-a-half years in the wake of a 2017 failure.

Russia launched three crewed missions to the International Space Station, the only flights by humans to orbit last year. Russian rockets conducted 22 orbital launches from the Baikonur, Plesetsk and Vostochny spaceports operated by Russia’s space program, and an additional three launches by Russian-made Soyuz boosters took off from the European-run Guiana Space Center in South America under the management of the French launch services provider Arianespace.

SpaceX accounted for 13 of the 21 U.S.-based launches in 2019, including two missions by the company’s Falcon Heavy vehicle, the most powerful rocket in the world currently in service. United Launch Alliance performed five missions with Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets, and Northrop Grumman conducted three orbital launches in 2019.

The figure of U.S.-based launches does not include six flights by Rocket Lab’s Electron small satellite booster, which is partially built in the United States but launches from a spaceport in New Zealand. Rocket Lab is also headquartered in the United States, with final assembly and launch operations primarily centered in New Zealand.

Nine launches by Arianespace departed from the Guiana Space Center last year, including one failed mission by the light-class European-built Vega launcher. Arianespace logged four successful Ariane 5 heavy-lift flights, two Vega missions — one success and one failure — and the three flights by medium-class Russian Soyuz rockets from French Guiana.

There were six Indian launches in 2019, and two from Japan. All were successful.

Two Iranian satellite launch attempts ended in failure.



A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared into space from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 5, 2019, on a resupply flight to the International Space Station. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Three missions launched in 2019 targeted destinations beyond Earth orbit.

The privately-funded Israeli Beresheet probe attempted to land on the moon in April — following a launch from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX booster in February — but faltered before touchdown.

The joint Russian-German X-ray observatory Spektr-RG launched in July and reached an observing post at the L2 Lagrange point nearly a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth in October to begin its scientific observations.

And India’s Chandrayaan 2 lunar mission launched in July, but the spacecraft’s landing module crashed on the moon. Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter segment successfully reached its observing position circling the moon and began its scientific survey mission.

Fourteen launches in 2019 delivered cargo or crew members to the International Space Station.

Here is a final tally of the orbital launches in 2019, with numbers in parentheses representing failed missions:


China: 34 (2)

Russia: 22 (0)

United States: 21 (0)

Europe: 9 (1)

India: 6 (0)

New Zealand: 6 (0)

Japan: 2 (0)

Iran: 2 (2)

U.S. satellite operators led the world in 2019 with 304 payloads launched into orbit, according to a tally by Jonathan McDowell, a astrophysicist and a respected tracker of global space activity. China was next with 73 payloads, followed by European operators with 64 payloads, and Russia with 30.

Read McDowell’s end-of-the-year report on launch activity in 2019.

Mirroring the number of launches by nation, China’s family of Long March 2, 3 and 4 rockets were the most-flown satellite boosters last year, with 21 total missions, including a single failure. The Long March 2, 3 and 4 rockets are rooted in Cold War-era Chinese liquid-fueled missile technology, and all use the same basic hydrazine-fueled YF-21 and YD-24 engines.

Several variants of Russia’s Soyuz rocket family flew 18 times in 2019 — all successfully — and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets launched 13 missions last year, ranking second and third worldwide, according to a tabulation by Spaceflight Now.

Here’s a ranking of the most-flown orbital-class launchers in 2019, with numbers in parentheses representing failed missions:


Chinese Long March 2, 3 and 4: 21 (1)

Russian Soyuz: 18 (0)

U.S. Falcon 9 & Falcon Heavy:  13 (0)

U.S./New Zealand Electron: 6 (0)

Russian Proton: 5 (0)

Indian PSLV: 5 (0)

Chinese Kuaizhou 1A: 5 (0)

European Ariane 5: 4 (0)

Chinese Long March 11: 3 (0)

U.S. Delta 4 & Delta 4-Heavy: 3 (0)

European Vega: 2 (1)

Russian Rockot: 2 (0)

U.S. Antares: 2 (0)

U.S. Atlas 5: 2 (0)

Chinese Long March 5: 1 (0)

Chinese Long March 6: 1 (0)

Chinese Hyberola 1: 1 (0)

Chinese Jielong 1: 1 (0)

Chinese OS-M1: 1 (1)

Indian GSLV Mk.3: 1 (0)

Iranian Safir 1B: 1 (1)

Iranian Simorgh: 1 (1)

Japanese Epsilon: 1 (0)

Japanese H-2A/B: 1 (0)

U.S. Pegasus XL: 1 (0)


A Long March 3B rocket lifted Dec. 16, 2019, with two Beidou navigation satellites from the Xichang space base in southwestern China’s Sichuan province. Credit: CASC

The spaceport at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s neighboring Kennedy Space Center in Florida was the starting point for 16 orbital-class missions in 2019, more than any other location. Launch pads at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Xichang launch base in China each accommodated 13 orbital launches last year.

The most-used fixed launch pad in the world was Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 facility, which saw eight Falcon 9 launches in 2019.

Here’s a tabulation by Spaceflight Now of last year’s orbital-class launches by spaceport, with numbers in parentheses representing failed missions:


Cape Canaveral & Kennedy Space Center, Florida: 16 (0)

Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: 13 (0)

Xichang, China: 13 (0)

Taiyuan, China: 10 (1)

Guiana Space Center, French Guiana: 9 (1)

Jiuquan, China: 9 (1)

Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia: 8 (0)

Satish Dhawan Space Center, India: 6 (0)

Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand: 6 (0)

Vandenberg Air Force Base, California: 3 (0)

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Virginia: 2 (0)

Imam Khomeini Spaceport, Iran: 2 (2)

Wenchang, China: 1 (0)

Yellow Sea, China: 1 (0)

Tanegashima Space Center, Japan: 1 (0)

Uchinoura Space Center, Japan: 1 (0)

Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia: 1 (0)

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/01/02/long-march-soyuz-and-falcon-rockets-topped-2019s-launch-leaderboard/
« Ostatnia zmiana: Styczeń 05, 2020, 17:41 wysłana przez Orionid »

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Odp: [CD] Nation's space achievements out of this world
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Grudzień 29, 2020, 20:22 »
Nation's space achievements out of this world
By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-28 09:33


An attendee looks at a model of a Beidou Navigation Satellite at an expo in Shenyang, Liaoning province, in September. HUANG JINKUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Successful return of lunar rocks was just one of the highlights for the sector this year. Zhao Lei reports.

China's space industry has produced a remarkable scorecard this year: characterized by the nation's first independent Mars mission, the completion of a global navigation satellite network and a landmark adventure that retrieved rocks and soil from the moon.

The most significant event in China's space field, and also one of the most notable space activities globally, this year-the Chang'e 5 robotic mission-returned 1,731 grams of lunar rock and soil to Earth, marking a historic accomplishment 44 years after the last lunar substances were retrieved.

The 23-day mission was China's first space journey to claim extraterrestrial samples, making it the third country to accomplish the feat after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

In a letter published after the samples arrived on Earth, President Xi Jinping extended warm congratulations and sincere greetings to all participants on behalf of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission.

Xi said that as China's most complicated space project, the Chang'e 5 mission completed the national space industry's first extraterrestrial sampling and return. It was the latest achievement by China's system, which is characterized by its ability to mobilize all available resources to overcome difficulties and achieve its goals, and also marks a major step forward for the country's space industry, he said.

The mission's results will contribute to mankind's deeper understanding of the moon's origins and the evolution of the solar system, he noted.

"Your extraordinary feats will be enshrined in the memories of our motherland and the people," Xi wrote, referring to those involved in the mission.

Chang'e 5, the nation's largest and most sophisticated lunar probe, was launched by a Long March 5 heavy-lift carrier rocket early on Nov 24 at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China's Hainan province.

It was the world's first mission to bring lunar samples back to Earth since 1976.

The 8.2-metric-ton spacecraft had four main components: an orbiter; lander; ascender; and reentry capsule. While in lunar orbit on Nov 30, the probe separated into two sections-the orbiter-reentry capsule combination and the lander-ascender combination.



The Long March 8 carrier rocket makes its maiden flight from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on Dec 22. CHEN XIAO/FOR CHINA DAILY

Touchdown

On Dec 1, the lander-ascender touched down on the moon, becoming only the third spacecraft to reach the lunar surface since the mid-1970s, following Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 4.

Shortly after landing, the craft began drilling for samples 2 meters below the surface and using a mechanical arm to scoop up soil.

The collection operation finished after about 19 hours, on Dec 2, much earlier than expected. The samples were packed into a specially designed vacuum container inside the ascender to avoid contamination.

During the process, the lander unfurled the first free-standing Chinese national flag on the lunar surface, making China the second nation to place such an emblem on the moon after the US.

On Dec 3, the ascender lifted itself into an elliptical lunar orbit to dock with the reentry capsule, thus marking the first time a Chinese spacecraft had blasted off from an extraterrestrial body. It linked up with the orbiter-reentry capsule combination on Dec 6 and transferred the lunar samples.

The ascender separated from the orbiter-reentry combination later that day and was deliberately crashed into the moon on Dec 8 to prevent it becoming space debris.

The combination made several preparatory maneuvers during lunar orbit and entered a moon-Earth transfer trajectory on Dec 13 to begin its flight back to Earth.

Early on Dec 17, the reentry capsule separated from the orbiter about 5,000 kilometers above the southern Atlantic Ocean and began its descent.

It touched down at a preset landing site in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, at 1:59 am, ending a mission that had been closely followed by scientific communities and media around the globe.

The sealed samples were transferred to a specially designed laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and will later be distributed to researchers for analysis, experiments and tests.

"Research on lunar samples is one of the most important ways we can learn about the past, present and future of the moon, and also provides great help when scientists investigate the evolution of other members of our solar system," said Guo Hongfeng, a National Astronomical Observatories researcher.

Some of the samples will be put on display to boost scientific awareness, especially among the younger generation.

"This will greatly encourage people, especially young people, to study and explore the worlds beyond Earth," Xiao Long, a planetary geologist at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Hubei province, told Nature magazine.

Officials at the China National Space Administration have welcomed cooperation from foreign scientists in researching the samples.



Scientists open the reentry capsule of the Chang'e 5 probe to extract the samples it brought back to Earth and weigh them at the Fifth Research Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp on Dec 17. JIN LIWANG/XINHUA

Interplanetary journeys

In addition to the moon, China's space authorities are looking farther into the solar system. They took the first step in the country's interplanetary voyage during the summer.

On July 23, Tianwen 1, China's first independent Mars mission, was launched from the Wenchang center by a Long March 5 rocket, opening the nation's planetary exploration program.

By the middle of this month, the 5-ton spacecraft-consisting of an orbiter and a landing capsule-was 100 million km from Earth, about 12 million km from Mars, and had traveled nearly 360 million km, according to the space administration.

If everything goes according to schedule, the probe will travel more than 470 million km before being captured by Mars' gravitational field in February, when it will be 193 million km from Earth.

Depending on the two planets' orbits, Mars is 55 million km to 400 million km from Earth.

After entering Mars' orbit, the spacecraft will circle the planet for two and a half months to examine the preset landing site before descending to release the capsule, which will fall gradually through the atmosphere.

The mission's goal is to deploy a rover in May on the southern part of Utopia Planitia-a vast plain within Utopia, the largest known impact basin in the solar system-to conduct scientific surveys.

Weighing about 240 kilograms, the rover, which has yet to be named, has six wheels and four solar panels, and can move at 200 meters an hour on Mars.

It carries six scientific instruments including a multispectral camera, ground-penetrating radar and a meteorological sensor.

It is expected to work for about three months, and if the semi-autonomous machine functions well, it will become the fifth rover to be deployed on Mars, following four US predecessors.

If Tianwen 1 can fulfill its objectives-orbiting Mars for comprehensive observation, landing on the planet's surface and deploying a rover to conduct scientific operations-it will become the first Mars expedition to accomplish all three goals with one probe, according to Ye Peijian, a leading deep-space exploration scientist at the China Academy of Space Technology.

Tianwen 1 is the 46th exploration mission to the red planet since October 1960, when the former Soviet Union launched the first Mars-bound spacecraft. Only 17 of those missions were successful.



Visitors examine a model of the landing capsule Tianwen 1 in Shanghai in September. LONG WEI/FOR CHINA DAILY
Global network


In late June, the final satellite to complete the third-generation network of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System was launched by a Long March 3B rocket at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, and placed in a geostationary orbit about 36,000 km above Earth.

After in-orbit tests, the satellite-the 59th in the Beidou family and 30th in the 3G series-started formal operations in late July, marking the start of Beidou's provision of full-scale global services.

Beidou is China's largest space-based system and one of four global navigation networks, along with the GPS of the US, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo.

More than 300,000 scientists, engineers and technicians from more than 400 Chinese institutes, universities and enterprises have been involved in Beidou's development and construction.

Since 2000, 59 Beidou satellites, including the first four experimental models, have been launched from Xichang on 44 Long March 3 series rockets. Some have already been retired.

The system began providing positioning, navigation, timing and messaging services to civilian customers in China and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. At the end of 2018, it began providing basic global services.

There are now 30 3G Beidou satellites: 24 in medium-Earth orbit; three in inclined geosynchronous satellite orbit; and three in geostationary orbit.

Some 2G Beidou satellites are also in operation and offering regional services, according to the China Satellite Navigation Office.

Compared with 2G satellites, 3G models offer greater accuracy and stability, a clearer signal and more state-of-the-art technology such as intersatellite links, satellite-based augmentation and global emergency search capabilities.

In addition to space-based assets, Beidou has a ground-based network that includes dozens of stations, more than 200 subsystems and over 30,000 sets of equipment.


Expanding fleet

The Chinese space sector's most recent accomplishment came on Tuesday, when the newest carrier rocket-the Long March 8-made its maiden flight from Wenchang.

The 50-meter, medium-lift rocket transported five experimental satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 512 km.

Designed and built by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the rocket is tasked with meeting surging demand for launch services from commercial satellite companies at home and abroad.

Xiao Yun, the rocket's project manager, said the successful maiden flight was a new achievement in China's efforts to upgrade its medium-lift launch vehicle system, and will push forward the nation's efforts to become a world-class space power.

The rocket's services will also give a strong boost to the development and deployment of satellites operating in low-and medium-altitude orbits, he said.

The vehicle has two core stages and two side boosters. Its six engines are propelled by liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and kerosene.

With a liftoff weight of 356 tons, it is capable of sending 4.5-ton payloads into a sun-synchronous orbit 700 km above Earth, or satellites with a combined weight of 2.8 tons into a geostationary transfer orbit, the academy said.

Project managers have estimated that at least 10 Long March 8s will be used every year, given the robust demand from domestic and international satellite companies, while annual manufacturing capacity will soon reach 20.

To improve the rocket's competitiveness, it is expected to eventually become the first reusable Long March model.

The designers intend to develop an integrated first stage for a reusable variant, consisting of a core booster and two side boosters.

Instead of breaking up and falling back to Earth like similar stages of previous Chinese rockets, the new core and side boosters will stay together and make powered landings on a recovery platform at sea.

About eight months ago, also in Wenchang, the Long March 5B heavy-lift carrier rocket undertook its maiden mission, transporting a prototype of China's new-generation manned spacecraft into a low-Earth orbit.

The rocket is 53.7 meters long, with a core-stage diameter of 5 meters, and has a liftoff weight of 849 tons. It is the most powerful Chinese rocket in terms of carrying capacity for low-Earth orbit.

The Long March 5B is central to the nation's space station program as it is the only Chinese launch vehicle capable of carrying large space station parts into orbit.

In the next two years, three Long March 5B flights will put major components of China's space station into orbit for assembly.

The multimodule station, Tiangong or Heavenly Palace, will have three sections-a core module and two space labs-with a combined weight of more than 90 tons.

It is expected to become fully operational before the end of 2022 and to operate for about 15 years.

Meanwhile, the new-generation manned spaceship has two main sections-the reentry and service modules. Tasked with serving the space station program, it employs world-class designs and technologies, and features great reliability and flexibility, multiple functions and reusability.

The craft is 8.8 meters long, has a diameter of 4.5 meters, and a liftoff weight of 21.6 tons.

The reentry module will house the crew and control the craft during spaceflight, while the service module will contain the power and propulsion systems.

Designers at the China Academy of Space Technology said that compared with the Shenzhou series, the country's operational crewed spacecraft family, the new model is capable of longer missions, housing more astronauts and cargo and operating in tougher environments.


Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202012/28/WS5fe935e3a31024ad0ba9ee38_1.html

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
« Odpowiedź #2 dnia: Styczeń 04, 2021, 03:41 »
Space Launch Report 2020 (1)

Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F2



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

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

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

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

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


CZ-3B/TJSW-5



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

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


CZ-2D Launch



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

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


KZ-1A Launch



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

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


Ariane 5 Launch



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

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


Crew Dragon IFA



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

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

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

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

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


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F3



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

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

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

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

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


Electron 11



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

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

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


Soyuz Orbits OneWeb 7-40



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

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


H-2A Launches Spysat



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

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


Iran Simorgh Fails



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

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


Solar Orbiter



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

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


Antares/Cygnus NG-13



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

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

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

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


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F4



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

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

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


Ariane 5 Launch



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

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

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


CZ-2D Xichang Launch



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

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

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


Meridian Launch



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

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

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Space Launch Report 2020 (2)

Cargo Dragon Finale



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

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

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


Beidou-3 GEO-2



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

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


CZ-7A Inaugural Fails



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

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

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


Glonass Launch



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

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


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F5


                                                                                      Unplanned Merlin 1D Shutdown

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

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

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

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

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

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


Soyuz Orbits OneWeb 41-74



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

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


CZ-2C Orbits Yaogan 30-06



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

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

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


Atlas 5 Orbits AEHF 6



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

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

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

It was the year's second Atlas 5 launch.


Soyuz Crew Launch



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

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

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


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



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

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

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


Iran Orbits Satellite



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

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


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F6



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

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

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


Progress MS-14



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

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

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

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
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Space Launch Report 2020 (3)

CZ-5B First Flight


CZ-5B Rollout                                                      CZ-5B Launch       

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

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

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


KZ-1A Launch



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

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


Atlas 5 Launches X-37B



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

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

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


H-2B/HTV Finale



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

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

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

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


Tundra 4 Launch



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

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


LauncherOne Failure


Virgin Orbit LauncherOne Launch Demo Ignition (Virgin Orbit)

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

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

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

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


CZ-11 from Xichang



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

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


U.S. Crew Launch


U.S. Crew Launch.                           Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken Ride Crew Dragon to Orbit
Crew Dragon "Endeavour" Approaches ISS on May 31

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

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

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

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

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


CZ-2D Launch



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

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

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
« Odpowiedź #5 dnia: Styczeń 04, 2021, 03:42 »
Space Launch Report 2020 (4)

Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F7



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

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

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

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


CZ-2C Oceansat Launch



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

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


Electron Launch



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

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

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


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F8



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

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

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


CZ-2D Launch



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

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

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


China Navsat Complete



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

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


GPS 3-3



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

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

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

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

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
« Odpowiedź #6 dnia: Styczeń 04, 2021, 03:42 »
Space Launch Report 2020 (5)

CZ-4B Launch



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

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


Electron Fails



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

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

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


CZ-2D Launch



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

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

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


Shavit-2 Spysat Launch



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

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

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


CZ-3B/APStar 6D



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

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

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


KZ-11 Inaugural Failure



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

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

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

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


Minotaur 4 NROL-129



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

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

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

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


H-2A/Hope



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

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

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


Falcon 9/ANASIS 2



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

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

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

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

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


CZ-5 Tianwen 1



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

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

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


Progress MS-15



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

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

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


ZY-3 Launch



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

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

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


Mars Rover Launch



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

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

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


Proton Launch



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

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

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

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

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
« Odpowiedź #7 dnia: Styczeń 04, 2021, 03:43 »
Space Launch Report 2020 (6)

CZ-2D/Gaofen 9-04



China's 50th CZ-2D orbited Gaofen 9-04, another Earth observation satellite, from Jiuquan Satellite Launcher Center on August 6, 2020. Liftoff from LC 43/94 (43/603) took place at 04:01:54 UTC. A gravity and atmospheric science microsatellite named Tsinghua was also orbited. Gaofen 9-04 separated into a roughly 500 km x 97.5 deg sun synchronous orbit.

It was the third CZ-2D/Gaofen 9 launch in 2020 to date, all from Jiuquan.


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F9



The 89th orbital Falcon 9, boosted by first stage B1051.5 on its fifth flight, launched the ninth operational group of 57 Starlink internet satellites from Kennedy Space Center on August 7, 2020, along with two rideshare BlackSky satellites. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39A took place at 05:12 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed two burns to reach a roughly 380 x 400 km x 53 deg deployment orbit. BlackSky Global 7 and 8 deployment took place about an hour after liftoff, followed 30 minutes later by Starlink separation. The Starlink satellites will ultimately move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15.192 metric tons (tonnes), including 112 kg for the two Earth observation BlaskSky satellites. The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 597, though several are being retired and deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg, Redmond Washington-built satellites is planned.

The first stage, which previously boosted the DM-1 Crew Dragon, RCM, and Starlink 1 F3 and F6 during 2019-20, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" downrange. The stage was hot-fired at LC-39A on June 24 with payload attached, but issues discovered during the test delayed the launch. On July 8 weather scrubbed a launch try and on July 11 the vehicle's third launch attempt was halted due to unspecified problems, possibly with the payload. The long-delayed flight was hop-scotched by two other Falcon 9 launches during its campaign.


Ariane 5 Launch



Ariane 5 ECA L5112 performed the Arianespace Mission VA253 launch from Kourou on August 15, 2020. Liftoff from ELA 3 took place at 22:04 UTC. The 47 minute 39 second mission successfully deployed three satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Northrop Grumman-built Galaxy 30 and MEV-2, which were connected together at launch, rode atop the Sylda adapter. 3,298 kg Galaxy 30, a GEOStar-2.4E communications satellite for Intelsat to serve the USA, separated at T+27 min 47 sec. 2,976 kg MEV-2, the second Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2) spacecraft, a GEOStar-3 designed to dock with old satellites to extend their lifetimes, separated at T+34 min 22 sec. MEV-2 will dock with Intelsat 10-02 in geosynchronous orbit.

BSAT-4b, a 3,530 kg Maxar (Space Systems/Loral) SSL-1300 series communications satellite, rode inside Sylda and separated at T+47 min 37 sec. It will serve Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (BSAT) , which provides communication and broadcasting satellite services for Japan.

The launch followed an aborted July 31 launch attempt that forced a rollback to replace a defective sensor. It was the first Ariane 5 launch since February, operations having been affected by the Covid-19 pandamic.


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F10



Falcon 9 first stage B1049.6 on its sixth flight - a new record for Falcon 9 - boosted the tenth operational group of 58 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral on August 18, 2020, along with three rideshare Planet Skysat imaging satellites. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 14:31 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed a single ascent burn to reach a roughly 220 x 380 km x 53 deg deployment orbit. Skysats 19-21 separated between 12 and 14 minutes after liftoff. The Starlinks separated at about T+46 minutes. The Starlink satellites will ultimately move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15,440 kg, including about 120 kg for each of the Skysats. The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 655, though several are being retired and deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg, Redmond Washington-built satellites is planned.

The payload fairing halves previously flew and were recovered during the January, 2020 Starlink 1 F3 launch. The first stage, which previously boosted Telstar 18 VANTAGE in September 2018, Iridium-8 in January 2019, and three Starlink missions in May 2019, January 2020, and June 2020, performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" some 350 nautical miles downrange. The stage was hot-fired at SLC 40 on August 17 with payload attached. It is the oldest currently-active Falcon 9 booster.

It was the 70th orbital Falcon 9 v1.2 and the 13th orbital Falcon 9 flight of 2020. SpaceX-owned Starlink has accounted for 9 of the launches. The company has only performed two beyond-LEO launches during 2020 to date.


CZ-2D/Gaofen 9-05



China's CZ-2D orbited Gaofen 9-05, adding to the growing Gaofen 9 Earth observation satellite constellation, from Jiuquan Satellite Launcher Center on August 23, 2020. Liftoff of CZ-2D Y57 from LC 43/94 (43/603) took place at 02:27 UTC. A pair of microsatellites, one named Tiantuo 5 and one identified as a "multi-functional test satellite" were orbited. Gaofen 9-05 separated into a sun synchronous orbit.

It was the fourth CZ-2D/Gaofen 9 launch in 2020 to date, all from Jiuquan.


Falcon 9 Orbits SAOCOM 1B



A Falcon 9 v1.2 placed Argentina's SAOCOM 1B into sun synchronous low Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 30, 2020. Liftoff from SLC 40 took place at 23:19 UTC. It was the first near-polar orbit launch from the Cape since Delta 67 orbited ESSA 9 during 1969. After firing for 2 minutes 17 seconds during ascent, first stage B1059.4, on its fourth launch, performed boost-back, entry, and landing burns to land at Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone 1. It was the 15th successful landing at LZ 1 out of 16 attempts since 2015. Three additional landings have taken place at nearby LZ 2 during Falcon Heavy flights.

The second stage performed one, 461 second burn to carry the 3,050 kg satellite into a roughly 610 km orbit. During the burn, the stage doglegged from south-southeast to south-southwest along the eastern Florida coast. The stage then flew over Cuba and Panama before deploying SAOCOM 1B about 14 minutes 9 seconds after liftoff. Two microsatellites, GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172, separated at about T+61 and 62 minutes.

The first stage prevously launched CRS-19, CRS-20, and Starlink V1 F8 during 2019-2020. It was not static test fired prior to this launch. The SAOCOM 1B launch was originally scheduled for early 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented ground crew travel from Argentina, causing delays. A Falcon 9 orbited similar SAOCOM 1A from VAFB SLC 4E during 2018. The relatively light payload allowed SpaceX to shift the SAOCOM 1B launch to the Cape in a move meant to save money. The company shifted or shed most of its VAFB launch team after completing its Iridium NEXT constellation launches in 2018.


Electron 14



Rocket Lab’s Electron returned to service with its 14th launch on August 31, 2020. The three-stage Electron/Curie rocket, named "I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical”, boosted Capella Space's "Sequoia" synthetic aperature radar (SAR) mapping satellite. Liftoff from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula LC 1 took place at 03:05 UTC. After a 2 minute 36 second first stage burn and a 6 minute 9 second second stage firing, the storable propellant Curie upper stage and payload coasted to a 530-ish km apogee where, beginning at T+52:52, Curie fired for 2 minutes 26 seconds to circularize the 45 degree inclination orbit. The 100 kg satellite separated about one hour after liftoff into a 531 x 546 km x 45.1 deg orbit.

After Sequoia separated, the Curie stage transitioned into Photon test spacecraft mode, flying in a 528 x 547 x 45.1 deg orbit for an extended test. Photon carries solar cells and rechargeable batteries and uses the Curie stage's RCS and control systems to maintain flight control. The roughly 50 kg Curie/Photon can carry up to 170 kg of payload while serving as a satellite bus in a manner reminiscent of Lockheed's long-retired Agena stage.

The launch took place nearly two months after Electron 13 failed to reach orbit when its second stage engine shut down early. Rocket Lab’s investigation determined that an overheating electrical connection that carried engine turbopump current was to blame for the failure. Improved testing methods were developed to detect such potential failures in the future.

It was the year's 60th successful orbital launch.

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
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Space Launch Report 2020 (7)

Vega Returns



After months of delay caused by Covid-19, high altitude winds, and a typhon on the other side of the planet, Europe's Vega rocket finally returned to service with launch of the VV16 Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) Proof of Concept (PoC) mission from Kourou Space Center on September 3, 2020. Liftoff from Kourou's Vega Launch Zone (ZLV) took place at 01:51 UTC. Vega's AVUM upper stage performed four burns to insert 53 micro and nanosatellites into 515 km and 530 km sun synchronous orbits. The final satellite separated about 1 hour 45 minutes after liftoff.

It was Vega's first launch since July 2019, when VV15's Zefiro 23 second stage motor suffered a forward dome burn-through as it fired.

The European Space Agency (ESA) funded SSMS development, which includes a modular SSMS dispenser. VV16 carried seven microsatellites (15 to 150 kg) on an upper dispensar part and 46 smaller CubeSats on a lower dispensar "Hexamodule". Total satellite mass was 877 kg.


Falcon 9/Starlink 1 F11



A Falcon 9 performing the 100th SpaceX orbital launch attempt orbited the eleventh operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Kennedy Space Center on September 3, 2020. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39 Pad A took place at 12:46 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed a single ascent burn to reach a roughly 220 x 380 km x 53 deg deployment orbit. The Starlinks separated at about T+14 minutes 47 seconds. They will ultimately move themselves to 550 km operational orbits.

Total deployed payload mass was about 15,600 kg. The flight increased the total number of orbited Starlink satellites, both precursor and operational, to 715, though several have been retired and are being deorbited. A constellation of thousands of the 260 kg, Redmond Washington-built satellites is planned.

First stage B1060.2, on its second flight; which previously boosted GPS 3-3 from SLC 40 on June 30, 2020; performed entry and landing burns before landing on "Of Course I Still Love You" some 350 nautical miles downrange. The stage was not hot-fired on the pad prior to launch, a practice now becoming common. The stage is the newest currently-active Falcon 9 booster, though three or four more have been built and tested and are preparing for flight.

Attempts to recover the new payload fairing halves failed.  Recovery boats returned to Port Canaveral with only shroud fragments. The second stage was to have performed a deorbit burn during its first orbit in order to target an impact zone off the California coast. No confirmation of that burn and reentry was possible as of several days after the launch.


Secret CZ-2F Launch



China's CZ-2F, flying for the first time in nearly four years, boosted a top secret experimental reusable test spacecraft into orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 4, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43/91 took place at about 07:30 UTC. Four objects were subsequently tracked, two in roughly 330 x 348 km x 50.2 deg orbits and two in roughly 346 x 566 km x 49.9 deg orbits. Xinhua announced that the test spacecraft would orbit for an unspecified period of time before returning to Earth at a "domestic landing site". No details about the spacecraft and no photographs of the launch or of the launch vehicle were initially released. It was not clear if the spacecraft was winged or was a ballistic reentry vehicle, for example.

On September 6, Xinhua news agency reported that the reusable spacecraft had landed. No details about the landing site or landing time and no photographs were provided. The type of spacecraft was also not mentioned. Meanwhile, some apparently unofficial videos of the launch were made available. These showed a rocket with a standard width fairing similar to that used by the type "T" CZ-2F.


CZ-4B Launch



China's Chang Zheng (CZ) 4B, tail number Y46, orbited another remote sensing satellite, named Gaofen 11-02, on September 07, 2020. Liftoff of the storable propellant rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center's LC 9 took place at 05:57 UTC. The three-stage storable propellant rocket boosted its payload into a 248 x 694 km x 97.3 deg sun synchronous type low Earth orbit. The satellite will likely adjust itself toward a roughly 500 km near-circular orbit over time if the history of Gaofen 11-01 is a guide.

According to reports from China, the satellite carried high resoultion optical imaging equipment and will be used for civil planning, disaster prevention and mitigation, and national defense, among other uses. While the mass of the satellite was not announced, CZ-4B is able to lift 2.5 tonnes to a 700 km sun synchronous orbit.

It was the year's third CZ-4B launch and the 18th DF-5 based orbital attempt.


Rocket 3.1 Fails



Astra's Rocket 3.1, a small two-stage LOX/Kerosene fueled rocket, failed during its first orbital launch attempt from Alaska's Kodiak Launch Pad 3B on September 12, 2020, after a 03:20 UTC liftoff. The rocket rose for slightly more than 20 seconds before, acccording to Astra, oscillations introduced by the guidance system caused "the vehicle to drift from its planned trajectory, leading to a commanded shutdown of the engines by the flight safety system". Witnesses saw the vehicle tumbling out of the sky to an explosive impact on the ground after its five battery-powered Delphin rocket engines cut off.

The company's earlier, March 2020 attempts to fly Rocket 3.0 for the Darpa Challenge failed to produce a launch after multiple countdowns. A final, March 23 attempt ended with a prelaunch failure that destroyed the rocket and started a fire at the launch site.

Astra Rocket stands 11.6 meters tall and is 1.32 meters diameter. Its probably weighs 10-11 tonnes at liftoff, rising on 14.275 tonnes of thrust. It uses an "ultra-low-cost" metal structure. Although designed to place at least 100 kg into a presumably near-polar low Earth orbit, Astra 3.1 carried no payload during this initial orbital flight test.

Astra performed two suborbital test launches during 2018 from Kodiak, Alaska, using only live first stages. The first, an Astra Rocket 1.0 flown from Launch Pad 2 on July  21, 2018, reportedly failed about 60 seconds after liftoff. The second, an Astra Rocket 2.0, failed shortly after its November 29, 2018 attempt from the same pad.


KZ-1A Failure



China's Kuaizhou 1A launch vehicle failed to place its Jilin-1 Gaofen 02C remote sensing satellite into low earth orbit as planned after a 05:02 UTC liftoff from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 12, 2020. It was the first failure of the Kuaizhou 1/1A series after 11 previous successes since 2013. This rocket, tail number Y3, was the 10th improved KZ-1A variant to fly.

Gaofen 02C was to have been inserted into a 535 km sun synchronous orbit. It weighed about 230 kg at launch. Some reports suggested that the hypergolic liquid upper stage failed, preventing completion of the final apogee kick insertion burn.

Expace Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp., managed the launch campaign.


CZ-11 Sea Launch



China's CZ-11 performed its second orbital launch from a floating platform on the Yellow Sea on September 15, 2020. The four-stage, DF-31 missile-based rocket, tail number HY2, boosted nine imaging satellites into 535 km sun synchronous orbits after an 01:23 UTC launch from the new Debo 3 ship. The ship replaces a barge used for the first sea launch in 2019.

Three Gaofen 03C video satellites and six Gaofen 03B push-broom (scanning) satellites were orbited. The rocket flew on a southbound ascent profile for the first time from this site. The first stage drop zone was offshore from China's east coast while the second stage flew directly over the length of Taiwan from north to south.


CZ-4B/HY 2C



China's Chang Zheng 4B (CZ-4B) number Y41 carried Haiyang 2C (HY 2C), an ocean observation satellite, into low earth orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 21, 2020. Liftoff from LC 43 Pad 94 (43/603) took place at 05:40 UTC. The three-stage hypergolic propellant rocket inserted its payload into a 931 x 948 km x 66 deg orbit with third stage cutoff 12 minutes 27 seconds after liftoff. The stage performed a single 7 minute 35 second burn during the ascent. After spacecraft separation, the third stage performed a depletion burn to lower its apogee to 654 km, enabling its eventual reentry.

HY 2C carried a microwave radiometer to monitor sea states.

The first stage was fitted with four grid fins, similar to Falcon 9 first stages, for steering the stage toward a smaller drop zone box.


CZ-4B Taiyuan Launch



China's Chang Zheng 4B (CZ-4B number Y42) boosted the HJ-2A and HJ-2B environmental monitoring satellites into orbit from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on September 27, 2020. Liftoff from Pad 9 took place at 03:23 UTC. The satellites replace HJ-1A and HJ-1B. They will provide multispectral imaging to monitor the environment, natural resources, water conservancy, and agriculture and forestry.

Gonets-M Launch



Russia's Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat M orbited three Gonets M communication satellites and 18 small rideshare payloads from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on September 28, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 4 took place at 11:20 UTC. The Fregat M stage placed its primary payloads into 1,400 km x 82.5 deg orbits.

It was the first use of Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat M to orbit Gonets M satellites. Now-retired Rokot performed previous launches. Satellite numbers 27, 28, and 29 were launched on this mission. The satellites perform store and dump messaging.

Rideshare satellites from Finland, the USA, Canada, Lithuania, Germany, the UAE, and Russia were also orbited on this flight.

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Space Launch Report 2020 (8 )

Antares/Cygnus NG-14



The 13th Antares launch vehicle - and third upgraded Antares 230+ - boosted Northrop Grumman's Cygnus NG-14 cargo spacecraft into orbit from Wallops Island, Virginia on October 3, 2020. Liftoff from Pad 0A took place at 01:16 UTC. The liftoff followed an aborted attempt one day earlier at T-2:40 caused by a ground problem.

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

Cygnus NG-14 was the 11th enhanced Cygnus with a stretched Thales Alenia Space cargo module and the eighth to fly on Antares. Atlas 5 rockets orbited the other three. NG-14 probably weighed about 7,420 kg at launch, including 3,551 kg of cargo for the International Space Station. Cygnus NG-14 was named in honor of Kalpana Chawla, NASA's first female astronaut of Indian descent, who died during the failed STS-107 reentry of Space Shuttle Columbia.

The RD-181 engines produced 392 tonnes of thrust to power the nearly 293 tonne rocket off its pad. The Ukrainian-built first stage burned for about 198 seconds. After first stage shutdown, the upper composite separated at T+206 seconds and coasted upward. The shroud and interstage adapter separated at 235 and 240 seconds, respectively. At about T+258 seconds the Northrop Grumman Castor 30XL second stage motor ignited to produce an average of about 51 tonnes of thrust during its roughly 165 second burn. Cygnus separated at T+537 seconds into a 183 x 262 km x 51.649 deg orbit.


Starlink v1-12 Launch



Nineteen days after its first attempt, after suffering a late-count abort on October 1 and weather scrubs on September 17, 28, and October 5, a Falcon 9 powered by first stage B1058.3 finally launched from Kennedy Space Center LC 39A on October 6, 2020 with 60 more Starlink satellites. The Starlink v1.0-12 mission (SpaceX confusingly also identified it as "Starlink 13") lifted off at 11:29 UTC. The 15.6 tonne payload separated into a roughly 260 x 280 km x 53 deg low Earth orbit about 61.5 minutes after liftoff.

The first stage, which previously boosted the historic Commercial Crew DM-2 mission and the ANASIS 2 launch, fired for 2 minutes 32 seconds, then separated and performed entry and landing burns before landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. One of the fairing halves was caught by a SpaceX recovery ship - a rare success for that recovery method. One of the halves had previously flown twice, on the Starlink v0.9 and v1.0-15 launches.

The second stage fired its Merlin Vacuum engine for 6 minutes 5 seconds to reach a parking orbit, then restarted at T+42:26 for two seconds to raise perigee. Although the stage was expected to perform a reentry burn of some type after payload separation, it remained in a 238 x 261 km x 52.99 deg orbit as of October 17.


CZ-3B/Gaofen 13



China's Chang Zheng 3B launched Gaofen 13, a big optical reconnaisance satellite, into geosynchronous transfer orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on October 11, 2020. Liftoff of the "Enhanced" CZ-3B, tail number number Y63, from LC 2 took place at 16:57 UTC. The liquid hydrogen third stage performed two burns during the roughly half-hour mission.

The satellite appears to be an improvement from Gaofen 4, which was launched to GTO by another CZ-3B in 2015. It consists of a large central telescope section extending from a base section that itself sports twin solar arrays. In geosynchronous orbit, such a satellite could be aimed to image any area at any time on probably more than one-third of the Earth's surface whenever cloud cover permits. CZ-3B/E can boost more than 5.5 tonnes to GTO. This satellite likely approached the upper capability of the launch vehicle.

Once again, China provided only last-minute notice of the launch.  It was the 21st DF-5 based orbital launch of the year and 20th success. It was also China's 30th orbital attempt of the year and 26th success.


Soyuz MS-17 Launch



A Russian Soyuz 2.1a boosted Soyuz MS-17 into orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome with three crew on October 14, 2020. Russia's Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA's Kate Rubins lifted off from Site 31 Pad 6 at 05:45 UTC, beginning an ultra-fast three-hour ascent to dock with the International Space Station at 08:48 UTC. It was the first use of the three-hour ascent during a crewed mission.

The flight carried the final planned NASA-purchased seat for a U.S. astronaut. The Agency plans to switch to SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner spacecraft for future flights. It is possible that the U.S. and Russia will in the future perform seat-swaps, with Russians occasionally riding the U.S. vehicles and U.S. crewmembers riding Soyuz.


Starlink v1-13



Falcon 9 first stage B1051.6 boosted the Starlink v1-13 mission toward orbit from Kennedy Space Center LC 39A on October 18, 2020 with 60 more Starlink satellites. Liftoff took place at 12:25 UTC. The 60-satellite, 15.6 tonne payload separated into a roughly 260 x 280 km x 53 deg low Earth orbit about 63 minutes after liftoff.

The first stage, which previously boosted the DM-1 unmanned Crew Dragon flight, Canada's RCM mission, and Starlink v1 Flights 3, 6, and 9, fired for 2 minutes 32 seconds, then separated and performed entry and landing burns before landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship 633 km downrange on the Atlantic Ocean. The stage had been hot fired at LC 39A on October 17. Both fairing halves were flying for the third time. They were caught by SpaceX recovery ships, though one broke through Ms Tree's catch net and may have been damaged.

The second stage fired its Merlin Vacuum engine for 6 minutes 5 seconds to reach a parking orbit, then restarted at T+44:04 for two seconds to raise perigee. The stage was expected to perform a reentry burn targeting a reentry south of Australia during the second orbit.


Starlink v1-14



Falcon 9 first stage B1060.3 powered the Starlink v1-14 mission toward orbit from Cape Canaveral SLC 40 on October 24, 2020 with 60 more Starlink satellites. Liftoff took place at 15:31 UTC. The 60-satellite, 15.6 tonne payload separated into a roughly 260 km x 53 deg low Earth orbit about 63 minutes after liftoff.

The first stage, which previously boosted the GPS 3-3 and Starlink v1-11 flights, fired for 2 minutes 32 seconds, then separated and performed entry and landing burns before landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship 634 km downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The stage had been briefly static fired with second stage and payload at SLC 40 on October 21. An inital launch attempt was scrubbed about 15 minutes before T-0 on October 22 when a second stage engineering camera lost power.

The second stage fired its Merlin Vacuum engine for about 6 minutes 10 seconds to reach a parking orbit, then restarted at T+44:36 for two seconds to raise perigee. The stage was expected to perform a reentry burn targeting a reentry south of Australia during the second orbit.

It was the 75th successful orbital Falcon 9 v1.2, a record achieved in less than five years of service. It was also the 13th SpaceX-owned Starlink launch of 2020, out of 18 total orbital Falcon 9 flights.


Glonass-K Launch



Russia's Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat orbited a Glonass-K navigation satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on October 25, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 3 took place at 19:08 UTC. Fregat performed three burns to deliver the satellite (Uragan-K 15L) into a roughly 19,100 km x 64.8 degree circular medium earth orbit about 3.5 hours after liftoff.

The satellite weighed about 935 kg at launch.


CZ-2C/Yaogan 30-07



China orbited its seventh set of Yaogan 30 triplet satellites on October 26, 2020 with a Chang Zheng 2C launch vehicle. The two stage rocket rose from Xichang Satellite Launch Center's LC 3 at 15:19 UTC. The satellite triplet was named Yaogan-30 Group 7. 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 seventh launch for this constellation, all by CZ-2C rockets from Xichang LC 3, since September 29, 2017.


Electron 15



Rocket Lab’s Electron performed its 15th launch on October 28, 2020, with a 21:21 UTC liftoff from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula LC 1. The three-stage Electron/Curie rocket, named "In Focus”, orbited Canon Electronics 35.5 kg CE-SAT-IIB and nine Planet Flock 4e SuperDove cubesats that together weighed about 45 kg.

The first stage fired for about 2 minutes 42 seconds and the second for about 6 minutes 12 seconds to insert the storable propellant Curie upper stage and payload into an ellipical transfer oribt. Curie coasted to a 500 km apogee where, beginning at T+51:06, it fired for 2 minutes 6 seconds to circularize the 97.5 deg sun synchronous orbit. The satellites separated around one hour after liftoff.

The liftoff followed an October 21 launch attempt that was scrubbed by bad oxygen sensor data.

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Space Launch Report 2020 (9)

GPS 3-4



The 100th SpaceX Falcon 9-family launch boosted GPS 3-4 into a 419 x 22,440 km x 55 degree transfer orbit for the U.S. Space Force from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 5, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 23:24 UTC. The liftoff ended a long-delayed campaign that included a static test on September 25 and a last-second aborted launch attempt on October 3. That auto-abort at T-2 seconds resulted from prematurely high pressure buildup in two Merlin 1D first stage engine gas generators.

The October 3 abort forced a fast-paced investigation that found a previously unknown Merlin 1D flaw. The two engines were removed and sent to McGregor, Texas for testing, where the problem was reproduced. Testing discovered that a production process masking lacquer material had blocked a vent hole leading to a relief valve in the engine's gas generators. Two new Merlin 1D engines took their place on the brand-new B1062.1 booster. The flaw was found to affect other boosters built after B1060.

The GPS 3-4 satellite was sent back to Astrotech in Titusville, Florida for battery charging while another Falcon 9 launched from SLC 40. The campaign restarted with a new static test at SLC 40 on October 31 and with return of the satellite to the launch complex on November 1.

Falcon 9 climbed on a northeast track up the Eastern seaboard. Its B1062.1 first stage fired for 2 min 31 sec before flipping 180 degrees to perform entry and landing burns to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The second stage fired for 5 min 25 sec to reach a parking orbit. It restarted about 63 min 32 sec after liftoff, firing for 45 seconds to reach its insertion orbit. GPS 3-4 separated about 25 minutes later while the 4,311 kg spacecraft was in view of ground stations in Hawaii and California.

It was the 96th Falcon 9 orbital attempt. One additional Falcon 9 performed a suborbital crew abort test. Three Falcon Heavy launches increase the total to 100.


CZ-6 Launch



China's fourth Chang Zheng 6 (CZ-6) orbited 13 microsatellites from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on November 6, 2020. Liftoff from LC 16 took place at 03:19 UTC. On board were ten 37.5 kg Satellitelogic NuSats for Argentina and three small satellites for China. The three-stage rocket lifted a total payload of at least 500 kg into a 500 km x 97.5 deg sun synchronous orbit.

CZ-6, the first of China's all-new launch vehicle generation, debuted from the same site on September 19, 2015 and flew again on November 21, 2017 and November 13, 2019. 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. 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.


Ceres-1 Inaugural



China's Ceres-1 launch vehicle performed its first launch successfully from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on November 7, 2020, placing a small, 50 kg data transfer satellite named Tianqi 11 into a 500 km x 97.4 deg sun synchronous orbit.

Ceres-1, a 31 tonne, 19 meter tall rocket uses three HTBD solid motors topped by a liquid propellant fourth stage. It is able to lift 230 kg to 700 km sun synchronous orbits, or 350 kg to a 200 km lower inclination orbit. A commercial company, Galactic Energy, developed and launched the rocket. It is likely based in part on existing China missile technology. Its first two stages, for example, share the same 1.4 meter diameter dimension as China's DF-21/25/26 IRBM family.

The first stage GS-1 motor produces 60 tonnes thrust during a 74 second burn. The GS-2 second stage makes 28 tonnes thrust for 70 seconds. The GS-3 third stage produces 8.8 tonnes thrust for 69 seconds. The liquid fourth stage uses low-thrust, pressure-fed engines for insertion burns and can fire for up to 310 seconds. Ceres-1 launched from a simple steel launch stand standing on a flat pad.

Galactic Energy is the fourth commercial Chinese company to make an orbital attempt since the first in 2018. Landspace failed in October 2018, followed by OneSpace in March 2019. The iSpace company became to the first to succeed with its Hyperbola 1 launcher during July 2019.


India Launch



After enduring a long year fighting Covid-19, India returned to space for the first time during 2020 with a PSLV launch of the EOS-1 radar Earth observation satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota on November 7, 2020. Liftoff from the First Launch Pad took place at 09:37 UTC during a rainstorm. It was the second flight of a PSLV-DL variant, which uses two PS0M-XL strap-on solid motors.

The 4.5 stage rocket, performing mission number C49, fired its strap-on motors for 1 minute 10 seconds, its S139 first stage solid motor for 1 minute 50 seconds, and its Vikas-powered UDMH/N2O4 fueled second stage for 2 minutes 13 seconds to boost its MMH/MON fueled fourth stage on a coast toward apogee where its twin L-2-5 engines ignited to provide the orbital insertion. The 628 kg EOS-1 satellite separated into a 575 km x 36.9 deg orbit. Nine nanosatellites were also orbited.


CZ-3B Orbits Comsat



China's Chang Zheng (Long March) 3B/E orbited the second Tiantong 1 mobile communications satellite (Tiantong 1-02) from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on November 12, 2020. Liftoff from Launch Complex 2 took place at 15:59 UTC. The satellite, which may have weighed 5 tonnes or more, was inserted into a geosynchronous transfer orbit after two burns by the rocket's liquid hydrogen fueled upper stage.

After it raises itself to geostationary orbit, the satellite will provide mobile communications coverage to China, the Middle East, Africa, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Tiantong 1-02 provides S-band mobile communications services for China SatCom. It was developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology. The first Tiantong 1 was launched on August 5, 2016.


Atlas 5/NROL-101



United Launch Alliance Atlas 5-531, boosted by the first three Northrop Grumman GEM-63 solid rocket motors, orbited NROL-101 for the U.S. National Reconnaisance Office from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 13, 2020. Liftoff from SLC 41 took place at 22:32 UTC. The AV-090 vehicle, topped by a Medium height, 5 meter diameter fairing stood 62.8 meters tall.

AV-090 flew sharply northeast, skirting the Eastern Seaboard and apparently overflying Newfoundland. It appeared bound for a relatively high inclination orbit, possibly a Molniya type, 12-hour orbit, though that is speculation. The classified mission could be a data relay satellite, or it could be something else. Mission success was not announced until about 2.5 hours after liftoff, indicating a possible long coast to Centaur restart and/or payload separation.

AV-090 performed a wet dress rehearsal at SLC 41 on October 21. The payload was stacked five days later. A November 5 launch attempt was scrubbed by LOX ground system problems.

GEM 63 is 63 inches diameter and 66 feet (20.12 m) long. The booster, which replaces the original Aerojet AJ-62, burns 44.23 tonnes of propellant for 94 seconds, producing up to 168.54 tonnes of thrust. A stretched, more-powerful GEM 63XL version is slated to boost ULA's upcoming Vulcan Centaur.


Crew Dragon Launch



Falcon 9 launched the Crew 1 mission to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2020. On board Crew Dragon C207 "Resilience" were NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. All but Glover were space veterans. It was the first operational commercial crew flight.

Liftoff from LC 39 Pad A took place at 00:27 UTC. Crew Dragon separated from the Falcon 9 second stage about 12 minutes after liftoff to begin its one day trip to dock with ISS.

First stage B1061.1 fired its nine Merlin 1D engines for 2 min 37 sec, aiming the vehicle on a northeast trajectory off the eastern U.S. coast, before shutting down and separating. The stage performed entry and landing burns before landing on the "Just Read the Instructions" drone ship about 9 min 29 sec after liftoff. The second stage fired its single Merlin 1D Vacuum engine from T+2 min 48 sec until T+8 min 50 sec to reach a roughly 190 x 210 km x 51.6 deg low earth orbit.

The first stage was static fired at McGregor, Texas, on April 24, 2020. Two of its Merlin 1D engines were replaced after close inspection in the wake of the GPS 3-4 booster abort problem. B1061.1 performed a brief static test firing at LC 39A on November 11, 2020 with Crew Dragon stacked atop the vehicle.


Vega VV17 Fails



Europe's Vega suffered its second failure in its past three launches while attempting to orbit two Earth observation satellites on November 17, 2020. The AVUM liquid upper stage appeared responsible.

The VV17 mission for Arianespace lifted off from the Kourou's ZLV pad at 01:52:20 UTC. Spain's SEOSAT-Ingenio and France's TARANIS topped the rocket inside its fairing. The plan was for Vega to place SEOSAT-Ingenio into a 670 km x 98.09 deg sun-synchronous orbit and TARANIS into a 700 km x 98.19 deg sun-synchronous orbit during a 1 hour 42 minute mission that would have included four AVUM burns.

Vega’s three solid propellant motors fired successfully, but AVUM suffered a problem during its first burn, which was intended to place the stage and payload into an initial elliptical parking orbit. The problem caused loss of mission, with AVUM and its payload apparently falling short of orbit.

Within hours, Arianespace reported that the upper stage had tumbled out of control shortly after ignition because control cables had been improperly installed. Telemetry indicated that cables to two thrust vector control actuators had been inverted. Commands meant for one had been routed to the other, and vice versa.


Electron 16



Rocket Lab’s Electron launched for the 16th time on November 20, 2020, with 29 tiny Cubesats and a mass simulator in the shape of a small gnome statue. Liftoff from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula LC 1 took place at 02:20 UTC. The three-stage Electron/Curie rocket, named "Return to Sender”, boosted a total active payload of only about 45-50 kg into a 500 km x 97.3 deg sun synchronous orbit during the roughly one-hour mission.

In a first test of its type for Electron, the first stage, after separating, fired thrusters to orient itself for reentry, then deployed drouge and main parachutes and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean less than 13 minutes after liftoff. A ship recovered the floating stage. The stage will be inspected as part of an effort to develop a reusable first stage that in the future would be recovered in mid-air by a helicopter.

The first stage fired for about 2 minutes 33 seconds and the second for about 6 minutes 7 seconds to insert the storable propellant Curie upper stage and payload into an ellipical transfer orbit. Curie coasted to a 500 km apogee where, beginning at T+49:38, it fired for about 90 seconds to circularize the orbit. The satellites separated around one hour after liftoff.


Sentinel 6 Launch


                                                                                                         B1063.1 Lands at VAFB LZ4

A brand new SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket orbited the ESA/NASA Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, the first of two identical satellites designed to precisely measure global sea-level trends, from Vandenberg AFB on November 21, 2020. Liftoff from VAFB SLC-4E took place at 17:17 UTC. The Falcon 9 second stage performed two burns to insert the 1,192 kilogram Airbus Defence and Space-built satellite into a 1,336 km x 66 deg orbit about 53 and a half minutes after liftoff. The non-sun-synchronous orbit will allow the satellite to revisit areas at different times of the day and night, providing an opportunity to measure sea levels at all hours of the day.

Sentinel 6 was named Michael Freilich for the former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division.

First stage B1063.1 fired for a brief 2 min 17 sec before performing boost-back, entry, and landing burns to land at Landing Zone 4 adjacent to the launch site. The second stage burned for 5 min 50 sec to reach an initial elliptical transfer orbit. After a coast to apogee, the stage restarted for about 10 seconds at T+ 53 min 18 sec to circularize the orbit. Sentinel 6 separated moments later.

The Falcon 9 stages were acceptance tested at McGregor, Texas, likely during July, 2020. The assembled rocket was briefly static test fired at VAFB SLC 4E on November 17. The second stage was expected to deorbit over the South Pacific during the second orbit.

It was the first West Coast Falcon 9 launch since June 12, 2019.


CZ-5 Chang'e 5



China's CZ-5 launched Chang'e 5, intended to return a sample from the Moon, from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on November 23, 2020. The 870 tonne, 2.5-stage rocket lifted off from Pad 101 at 20:30 UTC. CZ-5's liquid-hydrogen-fueled second stage fired its twin YF-75 engines twice to accelerate the 8.2 tonne spacecraft into a trans-lunar trajectory, from which it will steer itself toward lunar orbit.

The four kerosen/LOX boosters burned out about 177 secoonds after liftoff and separated two seconds later. The core stage fired its twin YF-77 LH2/LOX engines for a total of about 487 seconds. The second stage ignited three seconds later and fired for about 250 seconds to reach a parking orbit. The stage restarted about 1,677 seconds after liftoff for a roughly 233 second insertion burn. Chang'e 5 separated about 2,185 seconds after liftoff.

Chang’e spacecraft are named for a moon goddess in Chinese folklore. It is the first attempt to return lunar samples since 1976.


100th Falcon 9 Launch



The 100th SpaceX Falcon 9 launch boosted the 15th operational group of 60 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 25, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 02:13 UTC. For the first time in several Starlink missions, the Falcon 9 second stage performed a single ascent burn, this time reportedly aiming for a roughly 210 x 360 km x 53 deg deployment orbit. The Starlinks separated at about T+14 minutes 44seconds. They will ultimately move themselves to 550 km operational orbits. Total deployed payload mass was about 15,600 kg.

First stage B1049.7, on its fleet-leading seventh flight, fired for 2:32 before separating, flipping, and performing entry and landing burns to land on "Of Course I Still Love You" some 634 km downrange. The stage was static test fired on the pad on November 21, one day after an aborted attempt. B1049, the oldest currently active Falcon 9 first stage, previously boosted Telstar 18V, Iridium NEXT 8, and Starlinks v1-2, -7, and -10, with the first launch on September 10, 2018.

It was the 80th Falcon 9 v1.2 launched since 2015, and the 79th orbital flight. One additional v1.2 performed the suborbital Crew Abort test in early 2020 while an 81st Falcon 9 v1.2 was destroyed during propellant loading for the AMOS 6 pre-launch static firing test during 2016. Falcon 9 v1.1 flew 15 times during 2013-16, failing once. The original, much smaller, Merlin 1C Falcon 9 v1.0 variant launched five times during 2010-13, suffering one launch vehicle failure that lost a secondary payload but still managed to orbit its primary cargo Dragon payload.


H-2A Orbits Data Relay Satellite



Japan's H-2A boosted the classified Japan Data Relay Satellite (JDRS 1) into geosynchronous transfer orbit from Tanegashima on November 29, 2020. The H-2A-202 variant with two SRB-A strap on solid boosters began the F43 mission from Yoshinobu Pad 1 at 07:25 UTC. Webcast coverage of the mission ended shortly after liftoff. The second stage likely performed two burns during a roughly half-hour mission. About an hour after launch, MHI Launch Services confirmed that spacecraft separation had occurred.

JDRS 1 will raise itself to geostationary orbit, where it will relay data from both military and civil satellites that operate in low Earth orbit. It is equipped with a lasar communications system that can transmit data at up to 1.8 gigabits per seconds.

It was the third H-2A flight of the year. The final H-2B also flew from Tanegashima during 2020.

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Space Launch Report 2020 (10)

Soyuz Kourou Launch



Russia's Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat performed the Arianespace VS24 mission from Kourou Space Center on December 2, 2020, carrying the FalconEye 2 optical Earth observation satellite for the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAEAF) into sun synchronous orbit. Liftoff from the Soyuz launch complex (ELS) took place at 01:33 UTC. The 2.5 stage Soyuz completed its ascent 8 min 48 sec after liftoff. About one minute later, Fregat began the first of its three planned burns. The first placed the vehicle into an elliptical parking orbit. As first apogee approached, Fregat ignited for its second burn just under 55 minutes after liftoff. This burn circularized the orbit at about 611 km. The 1,190 kg Airbus Defense and Space/Thales Alenia Space satellite separated at T+58:45. Fregat performed an orbit lowering burn a bit less than an hour later.

The liftoff was delayed twice by weather and once by a data link issue during the three days before liftoff took place. Prior to that, the flight was delayed by months after an oxidizer leak was discovered involving a Fregat thruster. A decision was made to replace the stage, but the Covid-19 epidemic halted the entire campaign until late Fall. FalconEye 2 itself had originally been slated to fly on Vega, but was moved to Soyuz after the 2019 Vega failure. It was 2020's first Soyuz launch from Kourou.


Gonets-M Launch



Russia's Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat M orbited three more Gonets M communication satellites and at least one classified satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on December 3, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 3 took place at 01:14 UTC. The Fregat M stage aimed to boost all four satellites into 1,400 km x 82.5 deg orbits during a roughly 2 hour mission that likely included two Fregat M burns.

It was the second Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat M to orbit Gonets M satellites, which weigh about 280 kg each at launch, or 840 kg total. The mass of the classified satellite was unknown, but previous Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat M vehicles have lofted more than 1.4 tonnes to similar orbits from Plesetsk in the past. Satellite numbers 30, 31, and 32 were launched on this mission. The satellites perform store and dump messaging. Now-retired Rokot performed earlier Gonets M launches.


Gaofen 14



China's CZ-3B/E, flying for the first time as an enhanced "G5" variant with an extended payload fairing, boosted Gaofen 14, a "surveying and mapping satellite", from Xichang on January 6, 2020. Liftoff from LC 3 took place at 03:58 UTC. For the first time, CZ-3B/E flew south, south-west toward a sun synchronous Earth orbit. The 3.5 stage rocket usually flies on an east azimuth from Xichang toward geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Gaofen 14 may carry an optical remote sensing system built in Belarus. It will operate from 500 km altitude.


Dragon 2 Cargo



The 100th Falcon 9 to attempt orbit boosted the first unmanned Cargo Dragon 2 from Kennedy Space Center toward the International Space Station on December 6, 2020. Liftoff of SpaceX Cargo Resupply Mission 21 from Launch Complex 39 Pad A took place at 16:17 UTC. The Dragon 2 Cargo capsule carried 2.972 tonnes of cargo, including the 1.09 tonne Bishop Airlock mounted inside the aft truck section of the spacecraft.

The CRS-21 spacecraft was the first based on the Crew Dragon 2 design. It did not include the Super Draco abort thruster system or its abort propellant. The interior of the capsule had cargo mounting shelves in place of crew couches. Liftoff mass was not announced, but some reports suggest it was about 12.5 tonnes. It was the first time that NASA had used a crew-type spacecraft to carry cargo, something the USSR and Russia have done with Soyuz and Progress since the 1970s. The use of a common spacecraft promises engineering advantages and possible monetary savings over the long run.

F9-102 NASAFirst stage B1058.4 provided the first 2.5 minutes of boost before separating, flipping 180 degrees, and performing entry and landing burns to land of the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship positioned about --- km downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The stage previously boosted the DM-2 Crew Dragon mission - the first with crew, ANASIS 2, and Starlink 1-12, all since May 30, 2020. The stage performed a prelaunch static firing at LC 39A on December 3 with CRS-21 attached. A December 5 launch attempt was scrubbed by weather conditions downrange.

It was the 99th Falcon 9 to reach orbit out of those 100 attempts, a total that includes a low-orbit partial failure that lost a secondary payload in 2012. A 101st Falcon 9 performed a suborbital crew abort test in early 2020. A 102nd Falcon 9 was destroyed with its AMOS 6 payload during pre-launch propellant loading for a static firing attempt at SLC 40 in 2016. The first five Falcon 9's were much different than the current variant. They were smaller, powered by Merlin 1C engines, and not designed for first stage recovery.


CZ-11/GECAM



China's four-stage solid fuel CZ-11 launched the Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM) into low earth orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on December 9, 2020. It was the second CZ-11 launch from Xichang. Liftoff took place at 20:14 UTC.

GECAM is a two-satellite mission designed to measure the "electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves, high-energy radiation from fast radio bursts, various gamma-ray bursts, and magnetar flares", according to the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

It was the 11th known CZ-11 flight since the type premiered on September 25, 2015. The 58 tonne rocket may be based on China's DF-31 series solid fuel ballistic missile. 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. This was the first CZ-11 assembled at the CZ-11 Sea Launch home port at Haiyang, Shandong.


Delta 4 Heavy Launch



A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy boosted the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) L-44 mission (NROL-44) into what was likely a geosynchronous orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida on December 11, 2020. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 37B took place at 01:09 UTC. ULA's success annoucement came more than 6 hours later, consistent with the time needed for the Delta 4 upper stage to perform a three-burn geosynchronous insertion mission. Analysts believe the payload is an ADVANCED ORION (Mentor) SIGINT satellite.

Delta 385 experienced a long, challenging launch campaign. It was erected at the pad during November, 2019 for propellant loading testing during January, 2020. This allowed ULA crews to shift back to Atlas missions during the ensuing months. After the NROL-44 payload was stacked, the rocket experienced a series of scrubs and aborts. An August 27 attempt was stopped by pneumatic issues during fueling. An August 29 countdown ended in an abort at T-3 seconds that shut down one of the three RS-68A engines. A pad pressure regulator failure was the cause. ULA replaced all three regulators during the ensuing weeks. A September 30 countdown ended in another abort, this time at T-7 seconds just before the engines started. This abort was caused by a faulty sensor.

Pad swing arm hydraulic issues had appeared during the September 30 countdown, so ULA decided to spend several weeks resolving that problem before performing the final, successful countdown.

It was the 12th Delta 4 Heavy launch. Four more Delta 4 Heavy launches remain on the schedule with the last expected during 2024.


SXM-7



SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket reached orbit for the 100th time on December 13, 2020 when it boosted the SXM-7 communications satellite into a subsynchronous transfer orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 took place at 17:30 UTC. The second stage performed two burns to accelerate the roughly 7 tonne satellite into its insertion orbit for customer Sirius XM . Meanwhile, first stage B1051.7, flying for the seventh time, landed on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship after completing its portion of the ascent.

B1051 had previously boosted Crew Dragon Demo 1, RADARSAT Constellation, and four Starlink missions, during 2019-20. One of the payload fairing halves had also flown before, during the ANASIS 2 mission in July 2020.

The first stage was static fired at SLC 40 on December 7. A December 11 launch attempt was aborted with less than one minute remaining in the countdown due to a ground equipment issue.

SXM-7 was inserted into a roughly 249 x 19,515 km x 27 deg initial subsynchronous transfer orbit from which it will gradually raise itself to geosynchronous orbit at 35,786 km altitude.


Angara A5 Test



Russia's Angara A5 performed its second test flight on December 14, 2020. The 773 tonne 3.5 stage rocket lifted off from Site 35/1 at 05:50 UTC, rising on 980 tonnes of thrust from its five Energomash RD-191 kerosene/LOX engines. It carried a dummy payload mass simulator named IPM, aimed toward a near-geosynchronous orbit during a nine-hour mission that included five burns by the Briz-M upper stage. After achieving its target orbit, Briz-M performed its fifth burn to raise itself and its dummy payload to a higher, "burial" orbit.

It was the first Angara A5 flight since the first on December 23, 2014. The long delay was caused in part by a shift in URM-1 manufacturing from Krunichev near Moscow to PO Polyot neaq Omsk. The second flight was essentially a repeat of the first, part of the process of certifying the new rocket to replace long-lived Proton. It will eventually fly from Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Angara A5 consists of five 2.9 meter diameter URM-1 (Universal Rocket Module) units clustered to form a core stage surrounded by four booster stages. The core first stage is topped by a 3.6 meter diameter URM-2 second stage and a Briz M third stage. Each URM-1 is powered by a single chamber, 196 tonne thrust RD-191 staged combustion kerosene/LOX engine. RD-191 is derived from the four-chamber Energomash RD-171 engine that powered the Zenit launcher. URM-2 is powered by a 30 tonne thrust LOX/kerosene RD-0124 engine. This staged-combustion engine was developed to power the upgraded Soyuz-2 third stage. The Briz-M hypergolic propellant third stage has flown for years atop Proton-M boosters.

After liftoff, the core throttled down while the four strap-on boosters burned at full thrust. The boosters separated about 3.5 minutes into the flight. The core stage separated less than two minutes later. After the second stage burned out at about the 12 minute 26 second mark (it fell into the western Pacific Ocean), the first Briz-M burn inserted the stage and payload into a low earth orbit with a 63 deg inclination. Subsequent burns moved the vehicle into an initial elliptical transfer orbit. The fourth burn circularized the orbit at geosynchronous altitude.

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Space Launch Report 2020 (11)

Electron 17



Rocket Lab’s 17th Electron orbited the StriX-a sythetic aperature radar (SAR) imaging satellite from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula LC 1 on December 15, 2020. The three-stage Electron/Curie rocket, named "Owl's Night Begins", lifted off at 10:09 UTC, beginning a one-hour mission that lofted the 150 kg satellite into a routhly 495 x 513 km x 97.37 deg synchronous orbit.

The first stage fired for about 2 minutes 27 seconds and the second for about 6 minutes 12 seconds to insert the storable propellant Curie upper stage and payload into an ellipical transfer oribt. Curie coasted to a 500 km apogee where, beginning at T+52:28, it fired for 1 minute 54 seconds to circularize the orbit. The satellite separated about one hour after liftoff.

StriX-a is the first of a planned Synspective constellation of more than 30 small SAR satellites designed to scan cities across Asia.

It was the seventh Electron launch and sixth success of 2020.


Astra Rocket Falls Short of Orbit



Astra's Rocket 3.2, a small two-stage LOX/Kerosene fueled rocket, failed to reach orbit during its second orbital attempt from Alaska's Kodiak Launch Pad 3B on December 15, 2020, after a 20:55UTC liftoff. The mission proceeded past staging through most of the second stage burn, but the stage shut down about 12-15 seconds short of the burn time needed to achieve its planned 380 km x 98.1 deg orbit. The cause was improper propellant mixture ratio, which caused the kerosene to be depleted while significant LOX remained.

The company's earlier, March 2020 attempts to fly Rocket 3.0 for the Darpa Challenge failed to produce a launch after multiple countdowns. A final, March 23 attempt ended with a prelaunch failure that destroyed the rocket and started a fire at the launch site. A September 12, 2020 orbital launch attempt by Rocket 3.1 failed about 20 seconds into flight due to oscillations introduced by the guidance system.

Astra Rocket stands 11.6 meters tall and is 1.32 meters diameter. Its probably weighs 10-11 tonnes at liftoff, rising on 14.275 tonnes of thrust provided by its five battery-powered Delphin rocket engines . It uses an "ultra-low-cost" metal structure. Although designed to place at least 100 kg into a presumably near-polar low Earth orbit, Astra 3.2 carried no payload during this orbital flight test.

Astra performed two suborbital test launches during 2018 from Kodiak, Alaska, using only live first stages. The first, an Astra Rocket 1.0 flown from Launch Pad 2 on July 21, 2018, reportedly failed about 60 seconds after liftoff. The second, an Astra Rocket 2.0, failed shortly after its November 29, 2018 attempt from the same pad.


PSLV/CMS 1



India's PSLV-XL orbited the CMS 1 government communications satellite from Sriharikota on December 17, 2020. Liftoff of the C50 mission from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center took place at 10:11 UTC. The 4.5-stage rocket boosted the 1,410 kg satellite into a 284 x 20,650 km x 17.86 degree subsynchronous transfer orbit.

CMS 1, previously known as GSAT 12R, will raise itself to geostationary orbit to replace GSAT 12. It will serve India and nearby islands.

Four of the PSOM-XL strap-on solid motors ignited with the PS1 solid motor first stage at liftoff. The other two ignited at T+25 seconds. The PSOMs separated in pairs at T+69, 70, and 92 seconds. First stage PS1 cutoff at T+109 seconds and the hypergolic liquid fueled PS2 second stage ignited one second later for its 2 min 34 sec burn. The payload fairing separated at T+3 min 23 sec during the burn. Solid fuel HPS3 fired next, for 6 min 14 sec. The PS4 monomethyl hydrazine fueled fourth stage then fired for 8 min 35 sec to reach the insertion orbit. CMS 1 separated at T+20 min 11 sec.


Soyuz Orbits OneWeb 75-110



Russia's Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat M orbited 36 more OneWeb Internet satellites into low Earth orbit from Vostochny Cosmodrome on December 18, 2020. Liftoff from Site 1S took place at 12:26 UTC. The 3 hour 10 minute Starsem ST29 mission placed the 36 satellites, each weighing 147.5 kg, into 440 km x 87.4 deg orbits. Total deployed payload mass was 5,310 kg. The payload deployment system addded another 500 kg of undeployed mass.

Fregat completed its first burn at 15 min 29 sec to reach a 150 x 427 km x 87.4 deg transfer orbit. Its second burn, begun at apogee 1 hour 13 minutes 40 seconds after liftoff, circularized the orbit. Satellites deployed in six groups of four during the subsequent roughly 1.5 hours, separated by Fregat ACS burns. Fregat performed a deorbit burn about 3 hours after launch.

It was the first OneWeb launch since March 21, 2020. The company declared bankruptcy soon after that launch. It emerged from Chapter 11 during late November after it was sold to a group led by Bharti Global and the British government.

The flight was the 100th orbital launch success of 2020.


Falcon 9 Orbits NROL 108


                                                                                               B1059.5 Lands at Cape Canaveral LZ-1

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 orbited NROL 108, a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 Pad A on December 19, 2020. Liftoff took place at 14:00 UTC, following an aborted attempt two days earlier caused by a slightly high second stage LOX pressure reading.

Falcon 9 headed on a northeast azimuth that some analysts believed indicated a 50-52 deg inclination low Earth orbit similar to NROL 76, which was launched by a Falcon 9 on May 1, 2017. No coverage was provided of the second stage performance as the flight entered a press blackout. The NRO announced a successful launch several hours after the liftoff.

After completing its short, 2 min 18 sec ascent burn, first stage B1059.5, on its fifth flight, flipped and performed a 3-engine boostback burn. It flipped again before performing a 3-engine entry burn, following by a single engine landing burn. The stage landed at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1 about 8 minutes 15 seconds after liftoff. It was the 69th successful first or booster stage landing and recovery. B1059 previously boosted the CRS-19 and 20 Dragon missions, Starlink 1-8, and SAOCOM 1B during 2019-20.

The second stage was expected to perform a deorbit burn sometime after satellite separation. A targeted zone for the stage to fall was listed in the Pacific Ocean near the equator south of Baja California.

It was the 25th Falcon 9 orbital flight of the year, a record for the rocket. One additional Falcon 9 performed the suborbital Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort test during the year. It was also the 30th orbital launch from Cape Canaveral and KSC during 2020, a number not seen since 1966 when 31 orbital attempts were made, but only 29 of those 1966 attempts made orbit while all 30 flights in 2020 succeeded.


CZ-8 Inaugural



China debuted its CZ-8 medium-lift launch vehicle on December 22, 2020. The 2.5-stage, 50.3 meter tall, 356 tonne rocket boosted five satellites into sun synchronous orbit after an 04:37 UTC liftoff from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on China's Hainan island. The primary payload was 3 tonne XJY-7, a classified remote sensing technology test satellite. Hisea 1, a 180 kg C-band sythetic aperture radar satellite was also orbited, along with three nanoosatellites.

CZ-8 uses the CZ-7 3.35 meter diameter core with its twin YF-100 staged combustion kerosene/LOX engines, but augmented by only two of the 2.25 meter diameter liquid strap-on boosters, each using a single YF-100, rather than CZ-7's four. The CZ-7 second stage is not used. Instead, a 3 meter diameter liquid hydrogen/LOX dual YF-75-powered upper stage that is used by CZ-3A/B and CZ-7A serves as a second stage. CZ-8 is designed to lift 4.5 tonnes to a 700 km sun synchronous orbit, or 2.5 tonnes to geosynchronous transfer orbit, slightly less than existing CZ-3A capability. This launch achieved a roughly 510 km x 97.4 deg sun synchronous orbit.

On this flight the YF-100 engines throttled down for the first time, to 77.5% at Max-Q. The two boosters shut down and separated at T+172 seconds. The core burned until T+208 seconds. The payload fairing separated at T+215 seconds, shortly after second stage ignition. Stage 2 shut down at T+479 seconds to reach a temporary ascent trajectory. The stage performed a second burn from t+885 to 1030 seconds to reach its insertion orbit.


CZ-4C/Yaogan 33



China's CZ-4C number Y-35 orbited the Yaogan 33 synthetic aperture radar satellite and a secondary payload from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on December 28, 2020. Liftoff from Site 43 Pad 94 took place at 15:44 UTC. The CZ-4C restartable third stage fired twice to reach a sun synchronous low earth orbit, then fired again to lower the orbit of the spent stage for future reentry.

A previous Yaogan 33 failed to reach orbit during a May 22, 2019 launch attempt from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The launch reportedly failed due to structural resonance between the third stage and its relatively heavy Yaogan 33 remote sensing payload, possibly during the reignition of the third stage. Yaogan 29, believed to be the first of this type of SAR satellite, was orbited from Taiyuan on November 26, 2015. Both previous launches were performed by CZ-4C launch vehicles, but this flight was the first from Jiuquan for this payload type.

It was the 25th DF-5 based CZ launch of 2020, matching Falcon 9's world-leading orbital launch total, though the CZ-2,3,4 family suffered one launch failure during the year versus no failures for Falcon 9. The launch did cement China's first place orbital launch standing among the world's nations for 2020, with 35 successes in 39 attempts.


Soyuz Orbits CSO 2



Russia's Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat performed the Arianespace VS25 mission from Kourou Space Center on December 29, 2020, carrying the CSO 2 French defense imaging satellite into sun synchronous orbit. The satellite will peform high resolution imaging in the visible and infrared bands.

Liftoff from the Soyuz launch complex (ELS) took place at 16:42 UTC. The 2.5 stage Soyuz completed its ascent 8 min 49 sec after liftoff. About one minute later, Fregat began the first of its four planned burns. The first placed the vehicle into an elliptical parking orbit. Near first apogee Fregat ignited for its second burn beginning at T+54 minutes 7 seconds after liftoff. This burn circularized the orbit at about 480 km with a 97.3 degree inclination. The 3,562kg Airbus Defense and Space/Thales Alenia Space satellite separated at T+59:37. Fregat performed two subsequent maneuvering burns to separate from CSO 2 and to lower the orbit of the spent stage.

The liftoff was delayed one day by unacceptable high altitude winds. It was the 15th and final R-7 based launch of 2020, completing the 64th year of flight by Korolev's trailblazing rocket.



ULA/SpaceX Win NSSL



On August 7, 2020, the U.S. Space Force awarded National Security Space Launch Phase 2 contracts to United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, locking out bidders Blue Origin (New Glenn) and Northrop Grumman (Omega) as primary contractors, though both would serve as subcontractors for ULA's winning Vulcan launch vehicle.

ULA won about 60% of the launch services orders and SpaceX about 40% during 2020-2024. ULA will launch USSF-51 and USSF-106 during 2022. SpaceX will launch USSF-67 during 2022. ULA won $337 million and SpaceX $316 million for these initial launch services task orders. Some of the SpaceX money may be for development of an extended Falcon Heavy payload fairing and for a new Mobile Service Tower at LC 39 Pad A.

Vulcan ULAULA and SpaceX will now compete annually for up to 34 NSSL launches during during the 2020-2027 period. The initial launches will be from Florida, with California launch capability added after a couple of years. Vulcan Centaur will launch from Cape Canaveral SLC 41 and VAFB SLC 3E. Falcon 9/Heavy will launch from KSC LC 39A and VAFB SLC 4W, with some launches likely possible from Cape Canaveral SLC 40.

Blue Origin announced that it intended to continue development of its New Glenn launch vehicle, aiming to win civil and commercial space contracts. Northrop Grumman only said that it was disappointed in the announcement. Omega's first and second stage motors have already been test fired, its mobile launch platform is under construction, and its liquid hydrogen upper stage was to have been test fired in a few months.

The announcement sets the stage for US space launch during the next decade at least, since Pentagon money is a dominant engine for launch business.


Source: https://www.spacelaunchreport.com/

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Odp: [Spacelaunchreport] Space Launch Report 2020
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