SpaceX Falcon Heavy blasting off on its first flight – Source: Flickr / SpaceX
With much fanfare, SpaceX successfully conducted a test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket. The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 3:45 p.m. EST (8:45 p.m. UTC) on February 6. Following launch, the Falcon Heavy successfully placed its payload, one of CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadsters, into its intended orbit. Two of the three boosters also returned for a successful landing. The one small mark against the mission was the failure to land the core stage on SpaceX’s ocean barge. Continue reading →
International Launch Services (ILS) recently announced that it will introduce a new Proton launch vehicle variant with a larger payload fairing – a clear sign that flexibility is now a key differentiator in the launch vehicle market.[i]Continue reading →
PSLV-C37 with 104 payloads. Source: Indian Space Research Organisation
On the morning of February 15, 2017, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (designated PSLV-C37) launched the 714-kilogram Cartosat-2 Series Satellite and 103 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch – which marked the 38th consecutively successful PSLV mission out of 39 flights – was one for the record books.
China has conducted a ground test of the Long March 5 (CZ-5) power system. The engines were fired for the final ground test before the first launch, expected next year. According to China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry, the test was a success.[i] Specifically, China tested the YF-75D cryogenic engine, which will be used in the second stage of the Long March 5B variant.[ii]Continue reading →
The European Space Agency on August 12 signed contracts for the development of a new launch vehicle designated Ariane 6, its launch base, and an upgraded version of the Vega called the Vega C.
The contracts, signed at ESA’s Paris head office with Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), France’s CNES space agency, and ELV, respectively, cover all development work on Ariane 6 and its launch base for a maiden flight in 2020, and on Vega C for its 2018 debut.[i]
The launch vehicle market continues to be dominated by a few select regions. Between 2011 and 2013, Russia, China, the United States, and Europe accounted for nearly 92 percent of all launch vehicles manufactured. Russia by far accounted for the largest proportion of launch vehicles built during the period, with 41.5 percent. Russia was followed by China with 21.6 percent, the U.S. with 20.8 percent, and Europe with 7.9 percent.