Arianespace SES 14/Al Yah 3 launch appears to have failed

Today’s Ariane 5 launch of the SES 14 and Al Yah 3 satellites appears to have failed sometime after the first stage separation. The launch lifted off at 5:20 pm EST and appeared to be going smoothly with the successful booster separation, payload fairing separation, and first stage engine burnout.

However, telemetry from the spacecraft was lost soon after the first stage separation and while the launch commentator continued to read out successful milestones it soon became obvious that something was wrong when the DDO (Launch Range Manager in English) wasn’t announcing those same milestones.

As the mission continued Arianespace paused their live stream of the events with the notice that they were waiting for satellite signal acquisition before resuming, after a while the CEO of Arianespace made an official announcement that there appears to have been an anomaly with the launch. That doesn’t mean that the satellites were lost but they will not know until they have researched further.

We will update this article as we receive more information from Arianespace but expect that there may be a delay to future launches.

ULA launches SBIRS-4 satellite

United Launch Alliance launched their 2nd mission of 2018 with the successful liftoff of the Atlas V carrying the Air Forces Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) 4 satellite which will be placed in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO).

Following a one day delayed due to a valve issue on the pad, the rocket lifted off at 7:48 pm EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Launch Complex 41 and successfully delivered the payload to orbit.

ULA launches NROL-47

United Launch Alliance (ULA) began it’s 2018 launch manifest with the successful launch of the NROL-47 payload from Vandenburg Air Force Station on Friday 12th.  The payload was carried to orbit using ULA’s Delta IV rocket in the 5,2 configuration meaning there was a 5-meter faring and 2 solid rocket boosters attached.

The launch which had been delayed from 2017 to allow ULA time to address an issue found with the rocket was again delayed this week due to weather issue and then technical issues.  However, once those issues were addressed ULA successfully launched the payload on Friday.  This was the 124th consecutive successful launch for ULA.

SpaceX begin’s 2018 with successful Zuma launch

Following on from a record-setting year SpaceX got an early start to 2018 with the successful launch of the secret Zuma payload.  The launch occurred at 8:00 pm EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Launch Complex (LC) 40 following a smooth countdown.

The launch which was originally scheduled for November last year was delayed due to an issue found while testing payload fair separation data for another customer.  Details of the payload are secret and the broadcast we cut off after the successful landing of the first stage back at CCAFS Landing Zone 1.

We may not get any further updates on the success of the mission, if anything is posted we will update this post.

Update (1/8) – We are hearing rumors that the Satellite may have failed after reaching orbit. No official response yet and no clue if this was an issue during launch or after deployment. We will update the story when we have more information.

Update (1/9) – Due to the secrecy of this mission it is difficult to get true information but multiple sources have said that the Satellite did indeed fail, the two most likely candidates are that it never deployed from the 2nd stage or that it did deploy but didn’t function correctly.

SpaceX released the following statement regarding the launch which indicates that the Falcon 9 performed as expected.

The following statement is from Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX:

“For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.

“Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight. We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks.”

We will continue to monitor the situation and update if more information becomes available.

SpaceX launches 4th Iridium Next Mission

SpaceX concluded it’s launch manifest for 2017 with the successful launch of the 4th Iridium Next and deployment of another ten Iridium Next satellites.  The booster used for this mission previously launched ten Iridium Next satellites in June of this year.

This was the 18th launch this year for SpaceX and 45th Falcon 9, unlike previous Iridium launches SpaceX didn’t land the booster instead letting is splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

SpaceX launches CRS-13 mission to ISS

SpaceX successfully launched their CRS-13 mission to the International Space Station today marking the return to flight for Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).  The launch was delayed a couple of days to allow SpaceX time to resolve an issue with particles in the 2nd stage fuel system.

This launch also marked the first time that SpaceX had used a flight-proven booster for a NASA CRS mission, the booster 10XX.2 previously launched the CRS-11 mission in June 2017.  This was the second time a flight-proven Dragon capsule was used, having previously flown on the CRS-6 mission in April 2015.

This was SpaceX’s 17th launch for 2017 and the 45th flight of Falcon 9, and the 14th landing with 20 overall.

ULA launches JPSS-1

United Launch Alliance launched the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration JPSS-1 satellite on the penultimate Delta II rocket.

The launch was delayed several times due to technical issues with the rocket then upper-level winds but finally launched successfully at 4:47 am EST today.

Orbital ATK launches Cygnus on OA-8 mission

Following a one day delay, due to a wayward plane during the countdown yesterday, Orbital ATK successfully launched their Cygnus spacecraft, S.S. Gene Cernan today for an International Space Station rendezvous on Tuesday.

This was the second Cygnus launch on the companies own Antares 230 vehicle, which uses the Russia RD-181 engines.  This was the seventh launch of Antares with six successfully completing their missions and one failure.  That failure led to the redesign of the Antares rocket which caused a two-year delay in launches, during that time Orbital made use of United Launch Alliances Atlas V to launch Cygnus to the ISS.

SpaceX launches Koreasat 5A, doubles previous year launch count

SpaceX continued their record settings year with the launch of the Koreasat 5A payload today from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.  This was the 16th launch of the year for SpaceX doubling last years launch total with potentially three more to come and was the 13th landing with the first stage returning to the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship “Of Course I Still Love You”.

Following a smooth countdown, the Falcon 9 lifted off at 3:34 pm EDT from LC-39A and successfully delivered the payload to orbit 35m 38s later.

SpaceX Launch/Landing Stats can be found here

Thales Alenia Space confirmed successful acquisition of signal

SpaceX launches SES 11/EchoStar 105

SpaceX completed their 15th launch of 2017 with the delivery of the SES 11/EchoStar 105 satellite to orbit this evening, this was the 3rd launch using a flight-proven booster.

Following a smooth countdown the rocket lifted off at 6:53 pm EDT and 37 minutes later delivered the payload to orbit.

Following the successful launch, the first stage returned to the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship “Of Course I Still Love You” making this the 18th time they have landed a stage.

This was the 43rd launch of the Falcon 9 for SpaceX.