Who’s launching what

I remember when I was a kid, hardly anything got launched into space. It was a big deal when the space shuttle was launched (which I would have given anything to see), and I’m sure there was a bunch of stuff getting launched that we weren’t supposed to know about given the Cold War was in its final stages. It’s a different story now, loads of stuff gets launched, and most people are happy to talk about it, tweet it and generally advertise – even government payloads. So I thought I’d do a bit of research and find out what is being launched for the rest of this month.


The first one is easy, it’s Rocket Lab’s Electron, launching from here in the North Island of New Zealand – we’ll not exactly here, but up in Mahia Peninsula. They’ve had a few delays but it might get away later this week if the weather is good. This will be their second flight and, if successful, will lead into another chapter of space flight of cheaper and smaller payloads. Good luck Rocket Lab!

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is set to launch on the 12 Dec from Cape Canaveral. This will be the first launch from the same pad that was damaged when a Falcon rocket blew up in 2016. This mission is a resupply to the International Space Station with the Dragon spacecraft.

Also on 12 Dec an Ariane 5 is going to launch from Kourou in French Guiana with four Galileo satellites. Galileo is the European satellite navigation system. The Ariane 5 is a heavy lift rocket used by the European Space Agency.

Ariane 5 Rocket (Wikipedia)

Then on the 17 Dec a Soyuz spacecraft is set to deliver the next crew to the International Space Station. This will take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

On the 22 Dec another Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch but this time with 10 Iridium satellites. It will launch from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. The interesting aspect of this launch is that the rocket is planned be recovered to the SpaceX ship by the rocket landing on the ship, similar to the picture below.

Falcon 9 landing (Wikipedia)

Also on the 22nd the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency is planning on launching an H-2a Rocket from the Tanegashima Space Centre. The payload is two satellites including one called Tsubame which is being used to test a new engine at very low orbit.

JAXA H-2A (Wikipedia)

Just after Christmas on the 26th a Zenit 3F is scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with Angola’s first satellite.

Then on the 28th a launch from Uchinoura Space Centre of an SS-520-5. This will have a cubesat on it called TRICOM 1R. The previous attempt at this launch failed, if it had worked it would have been the smallest rocket to put a payload in space.

China is also planning to launch Long March 2D late in the month with an Earth observation payload for Beijing Space View Technology.

So that’s the plan for the rest of December according to spaceflightnow , depending on weather and being free from any technical glitches. I think it is staggering the amount of traffic heading up into orbit, it truely shows how dependent our lives are becoming on space for communication, navigation and earth observation. Not to mention the regular trips to the ISS to keep it resupplied with both cargo and crew.