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2014 in space

Achievements and failures, hopes and dreams, hype and reality

For missions in 2013 click here

On December 31, China made the final orbital launch of 2014, closing a tumultuous year in space. Continuing long tradition, Russia logged most orbital launch attempts among space powers, culminating with the introduction of the Angara family of rockets. In total, Russia conducted 37 orbital launches including two failures, versus 23 launches conducted by the US and 16 by China. The Russian space program was yet to see the full effect of fateful political and economic decisions by the Kremlin, which had thrown the country into recession in 2014.

Typically for the past decade, the humanity's space exploration efforts in 2014 were marked by impressive feats of planetary probes backdroped by a near stagnation of the piloted space flight. As in previous years, the so-called "commercial" space program was largely limited to oversized media hype and chasing federal contracts backed by taxpayers.

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Comet

On August 6, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft entered orbit around comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko and captured remarkable images of what turned out to be a really bizarre object.


Mars

Also in August, a pair of spacecraft launched during the 2013 window to Mars successfully arrived at the Red Planet. NASA's Maven orbiter was accompanied India's first probe reaching a Martian orbit. On its approach, it captured a global image of the planet.


explosion

On October 28, an Antares-130 rocket carrying Cygnus Orb-3 cargo ship to the International Space Station, ISS, exploded seconds after liftoff due to a failure of a Russian-built, US-refurbished and certified engine. Ironically, the company had nowhere to go but to another Russian manufacturer, NPO Energomash, for the replacement of discredited Moon Race-era NK-33 engines.


launch

On December 3, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, launched the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on a mission to rendezvous with a carbon-rich asteroid, to land a small probe and three mini rovers on its surface, and then to return samples of its soil to Earth. The funding for the mission was first proposed in August 2010 and it was formally approved in January 2012. The ambitious but low-cost project provided a stark contrast for the Russia's well-funded but mismanaged planetary exploration program, which faced another round of delays in 2014.


launch

On December 5, an unpiloted prototype of the Orion spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral for the inaugural flight test in the Earth orbit. Due to delays with the super-heavy rocket, SLS, for the Orion's deep-space missions, another launch of the spacecraft was not expected until 2018. In the meantime, Russian space agency, had practically nothing to show during 2014 in terms of hardware or testing of the new-generation manned spacecraft, PTK NP, while its first unpiloted test launch was pushed from 2018 to 2021 at the earliest.


remote

On December 23, after two decades of planning and development, Russia's new-generation launch vehicle, Angara-5, finally took to the sky. The flawless launch, along with good performance of the veteran Proton rocket in its latest missions were bright spots for the beleaguered manufacturer, GKNPTs Khrunichev, which recently faced a string of spectacular failures and costly mismanagement and quality control disasters, pushing the company to the brink of financial collapse.


Things that did not happen in 2014:

A circa 2009 proposal aimed to launch the Joint Dark Energy Mission, JDEM, in cooperation between NASA and the US Department of Energy at the beginning of 2014.

According to plans made around 2011, the US-based ATK company and the European consortium Astrium (now Airbus) hoped to conduct a test launch of the Liberty launch vehicle for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program early in 2014. The project apparently never got funding.

According to original plans, on August 20, NASA's Dawn spacecraft was to enter orbit around Ceres. The mission was first delayed to 2015, then postponed indefinitely due to cost overruns in the fall of 2005. Still, it was later revived and launched, while the encounter with Ceres was rescheduled for March 2015.

On December 31, there was a last chance for a private company to claim the $15-million prize of the X-Prize Foundation for soft-landing a rover on the Moon, capable of moving and sending images back to Earth. The overhyped but unrealistic deadline was set in September 2007.

According to an unfunded proposal circa 2010, the US was to launch the Next-Generation NEAR mission as early as 2014, aiming to land on an asteroid.

According to a corporate announcement in July 2010, Bigelow and Boeing companies would start assembling a 690-cubic-meter space station in the Earth orbit in 2014.

As of 2004, NASA hoped to launch a visible-light coronagraph to search for planets outside Solar System.

A proposal in the 2009 budget request aimed to get funding for a NASA mission to send three small landers on the surface of the Moon in 2014.

In April 2010, Brazil hoped to conduct its fourth attempt to orbit a satellite with a domestically built rocket from the Alcantara launch site in 2014. As of 2004, this mission was promised in 2006.


World's orbital launch attempts in 2014 (as of January 13, 2015 ):

 
Country
Launch date
Time of launch
Payload
Payload type
Launch vehicle
Launch site
Launch complex
Launch pad
Status
1
India
Jan. 5
4:18 p.m. local time

GSAT-14

Applications / communications
GSLV-D5 (Mk. II)
Sriharikota
-
-
Success
2
USA
Jan. 6
5:06 p.m. EST

Thaicom-6

Applications / communications
Falcon-9 v.1.1
Cape Canaveral
40
-
Success
3
USA
Jan. 9
1:07:05 p.m. EST
Cygnus (Orb-1)
Manned / cargo supply
Antares
Wallops Island
0A
-
Success
4
USA
Jan. 24
9:33 p.m. EST.
TDRS-L
Applications / Relay
Atlas-5 401
Cape Canaveral
SLC-41
-
Success
5
Feb. 5
20:23 Moscow Time
Manned / cargo supply
5
Success
6
Europe
Feb. 6
6:30 p.m. local
ABS-2, Athena-Fidus
Applications / communications
Ariane-5 ECA
-
Success
7
Feb. 15
01:09:03 Moscow Time
Applications / communications
24
Success
8
USA
Feb. 21
8:59 p.m. EST
GPS 2F-5
Applications / navigation
Delta-4-M+ (4,2)
Cape Canaveral
SLC-37B
B
Success
9
Japan
Feb. 27
18:37 GMT
GPM Core, STARS-II, ShindaiSat, TeikyoSat-3, KSAT2, OPUSAT, INVADAR, ITF-1
Applications / weather forecasting
H-2A (202) F-23
Tanegashima
-
-
Success
10
March 16
03:08:00 Moscow Time
24
Success
11
Europe
March 22
7:04 p.m. local
Astra-5B, Amazonas-4A
Applications / communications
Ariane-5 ECA (VA-216)
-
Success
12
March 24
02:54 Moscow Time
Military / navigation
4
Success
13
March 26
01:17:23 Moscow Time
Manned
5
Success
14
China
March 31
10:46 Beijing Time
Shijian 11-06
Military / experimental
Chang Zheng-2C
Jiuquan
43
603
Success
15
USA
April 3
7:46 a.m. local
DMSP-5D3 F19
Military / weather forecasting
Atlas-5 401 (AV-044)
Vandenberg
SLC-3E
E
Success
16
April 3
6:02:26 p.m. local time
Applications / remote sensing
-
Success
17
India
April 4
17:14 India Time
IRNSS-1B
Application / navigation
PSLV-C24
Sriharikota
-
-
Success
18
April 9
19:26 Moscow Time
Manned / cargo supply
5
Success
19
Israel
April 9
21:59
Ofeq-10 (TecSAR)
Military / remote sensing
Shavit
Palmakhim
-
-
Success
20
USA
April 10
17:45 GMT
NRO L-67
Military
Atlas-5 541
Cape Canaveral
SLC-41
41
Success
21
April 16
20:20:00 Moscow Time
Military / reconnaissance
6
Success
22
USA
April 18
3:25 p.m. EDT
Dragon (CRS 3), All-Star (THEIA), SporeSat, TSAT (TestSat-Lite), KickSat (with 104 Sprites), PhoneSat 2.5
Manned / cargo supply
Falcon-9
Cape Canaveral
SLC-40
40
Success
23
08:25:00 Moscow Summer Time
24
Success
24
Europe
April 29
10:35:15 p.m. local time
KazEOSat-1
Applications / remote sensing
-
Success
25
May 6
17:49 Moscow Time
Military / reconnaissance
4
Success
26
May 16
01:42 Moscow Summer Time
39
Failure
27
USA
May 16
8:03 p.m. EDT
GPS IIF SV-6 (SVN67)
Applications / navigation
Delta-IV-M+(4,2)
Cape Canaveral
SLC-37B
B
Success
28
USA
May 22
9:09 a.m. EDT
NRO L-33
Military / reconnaissance
Atlas V 401 (AV-046)
Cape Canaveral
SLC-41
-
Success
29
May 23
09:27:54 Moscow Time
3
Success
30
Japan
May 24
12:05:14 Japan Time
Daichi-2
Applications / Remote-sensing
H-2A
Tanegashima
-
-
Success
31
May 26
14:09:59 Pacific Daylight Time
Eutelsat-3B
Applications / communications
-
-
Success
32
May 28
23:57:41 Moscow Time
Manned
5
Success
33
June 14
21:16:48 Moscow Summer Time
4
Success
34
23:11:17 Moscow Summer Time
KazEOSat-2 (DZZ-MRES), Deimos-2, Hodoyoshi-3, Hodoyoshi-4, BugSat-1, SaudiSat-4, AprizeSat-9, AprizeSat-10, UniSat-6, Tigrisat, AeroCube 6, ANTELSAT, Lemur-1, BRITE-CA 1, BRITE-CA 2, NanosatC-Br1, Duchifat-1, Perseus-M1, Perseus-M2, QB50P1, QB50P, Tablesat-Avrora, Flock-1c (11), POPSAT-HIP 1, PACE, PolyITAN, DTUSat-2
Applications / Remote-sensing
370/13
-
Success
35
India
June 30
09:52 local time
SPOT-7, CanX-4, CanX-5, AISat, Velox-1
Applications / remote sensing
PSLV(CA) C23
Sriharikota
-
-
Success
36
USA
July 2
2:56 a.m. PDT
OCO-2
Applications / remote sensing
Delta-2 (7320-10C)
Vandenberg
SLC-2W
W
Success
37
16:43:52 Moscow Time
-
Success
38
July 8
19:58:28 Moscow Time
Meteor-M No. 2, TechDemoSat-1, SkySat-2, M3MSat mass mockup, MKA-FKI (PN2) Relek, DX1, AISSAT-2, UKube-1
Applications / remote sensing
6
Success
39
3:55:56 p.m. French Guiana time
Applications / communications
-
Success
40
USA
July 13
12:52 p.m. EDT
Cygnus Orb-2 (CRS-2)
Manned / cargo supply
Antares
Wallops Island
LP-0A
-
Success
41
USA
July 14
11:15 a.m. EDT
Orbcomm G2 (6 sats)
Applications / communications
Falcon-9 v1.1
Cape Canaveral
SLC-40
-
Success
42
July 19
00:50:00 Moscow Time
Science / Material science
6
Success
43
July 24
01:44:44 Moscow Summer Time
Manned / cargo supply
5
Success
44
USA
July 28
7:28 p.m. EDT
GSSAP-1, GSSAP-2, ANGELS
Military / inspection
Delta-4 Medium+ (4,2)
Cape Canaveral
37B
B
Success
45
Europe
July 29
20:47 local time
Manned / cargo supply
Ariane-5 ES
3
Success
46
USA
Aug. 2
11:23 p.m. EDT
GPS-2F SV-7
Military / navigation
Atlas-5 401
Cape Canaveral
SLC-41
-
Success
47
USA
Aug. 5
4 a.m. EDT
AsiaSat-8
Application / communications
Falcon-9 v1.1
Cape Canaveral
SLC-40
-
Success
48
China
Aug. 9
13:45 Beijing Time
Yaogan Weixing-20 (YG-20)
Military
Chang Zheng-4C
Jiuquan
-
-
Success
49
USA
Aug. 13
11:30 a.m. Pacific Time
WorldView-3
Application / remote sensing
Atlas-5 401
Vandenberg
SLC-3E
E
Success
50
China
Aug. 19
11:15 a.m. Beijing Time
Gaofen-2 (GF-2), BRITE-PL-2 (Heweliusz)
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-4B
Taiyuan
9
-
Success
51
Aug. 22
9:27 a.m. local time
Application / navigation
-
Failure
52
China
Sept. 4
08:15 local time
Chuangxin 1-04, Ling Qiao
Application / communications
Chang Zheng-2D
Jiuquan
43
603
Success
53
USA
Sept. 7
1:00 a.m. EDT
AsiaSat-6 (Thaicom-7)
Application / communications
Falcon-9 v1.1
Cape Canaveral
SLC-40
40
Success
54
China
Sept. 8
11:22 a.m. Beijing Time
Yaogan Weixing-21, Tiantuo-2
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-4B
Taiyuan
-
-
Success
55
Europe
Sept. 11
6:21
p.m. local
MEASAT-3b, Optus-10
Application / communications
Ariane-5 ECA
3
Success
56
USA
Sept. 16
8:10 p.m. EDT
CLIO
Military / communications (?)
Atlas-5 (401)
Cape Canaveral
SLC-41
41
Success
57
USA
Sept. 21
09:52:03 a.m. EDT
Dragon SpX-4 (CRS4)
Manned / cargo supply
Falcon-9 v1.1
Cape Canaveral
SLC-40
40
Success
58
Sept. 26
00:25 Moscow Time
5
Success
59
Sept. 28
00:23:00 Moscow Summer Time
Military / communications
24
Success
60
China
Sept. 28
1:13 p.m. Beijing Time
Shijian-11-07
Experimental
Chang Zheng-2C
Jiuquan
-
-
Success
61
Japan
Oct. 7
05:16:00 GMT
Himawari-8
Application / meteorology
H-2A (202)
Tanegashima
-
-
Success
62
India
Oct. 15
20:02 GMT
IRNSS-1C
Application / remote sensing
PSLV (XL) C26
Sriharikota
-
-
Success
63
Europe
Oct. 16
6:43 pm (local time)
Intelsat-30, ARSAT-1
Application / communications
Ariane-5 ECA
3
Success
64
China
Oct. 20
06:31:04 GMT
Yaogan Weixing-22
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-4C
Taiyuan
9
-
Success
65
Oct. 21
19:09:32 Moscow Time
24
Success
66
China
Oct. 23
18:00:04 GMT
Chang'e 5-T1
Planetary / lunar
Chang Zheng-3C
Xichang
2
-
Success
67
China
Oct. 27
06:59 GMT
Shijian 11-08
Military / experimental
Chang Zheng-2C
Jiuquan
-
-
Success
68
USA
Oct. 28
6:22:38 p.m.
Cygnus Orb-3 (CRS3)
Manned / cargo supply
Antares-130
Wallops Island
MARS
LP-0A
Failure
69
Oct. 29
10:09:43 Moscow Time
Manned / cargo supply
6
Success
70
USA
Oct. 29
1:21 p.m. EDT
GPS 2F-8
Application / navigation
Atlas-5 401
Cape Canaveral
41
-
Success
71
Oct. 30
04:42:52 Moscow Time
Military / communications
4
Success
72
Nov. 6
10:35:49 Moscow Time
Application / remote sensing
370/13
-
Success
73
China
Nov. 14
18:53:05.153 GMT
Yaogan Weixing-23
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-2C
Taiyuan
9/901
-
Success
74
China
Nov. 20
07:12 GMT
Yaogan Weixing-24
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-2D
Jiuquan
43
603
Success
75
China
Nov. 21
14:37 Beijing Time
Kuaizhou-2
Application / remote-sensing
Kuaizhou (KZ)
Jiuquan
-
-
Success
76
Nov. 24
00:01:14 Moscow Time
6
Success
77
Dec. 1
00:52:26 Moscow Time
Military / navigation
4
Success
78
Japan
Dec. 3
04:22:04 GMT
Hayabusa-2, PROCYON, ARTSAT2-DESPATCH, Shin'en-2
Planetary / small bodies
H-2A (F26)
Tanegashima
-
-
Success
79
USA
Dec. 5
12:05 GMT
Orion EFT-1
Manned / prototype
Delta-4-H
Cape Canaveral
SLC-37B
B
Success
80
China
Dec. 7
03:26:04 GMT
CBERS-4
Application / remote-sensing
Chang Zheng-4B
Taiyuan
LC-9
901
Success
81
Europe
Dec. 6
20:40:07 GMT
DirecTV-14, GSAT-16
Applications / communications
Ariane-5 ECA
3
Success
82
China
Dec. 10
19:33 GMT
Yaogan Weixing-25A, - B, -C
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-4C
Jiuquan
43
603
Success
83
USA
Dec. 13
03:19 GMT
NROL-35
Military
Atlas-5 (541)
Vandenberg
SLC-3E
E
Success
84
Dec. 15
03:16:00 Moscow Time
24
Success
85
Dec 18
3:37 p.m. local time
-
Success
86
Dec. 19
07:43:33 Moscow Time
Military / reconnaissance
-
Success
87
Dec. 23
08:57 Moscow Time
Experimental
-
Success
88
Dec. 25
06:01 Moscow Time
Military / ELINT
4
Success
89
Dec. 26
21:55 Moscow Time
Applications / remote sensing
6
Success
90
China
Dec. 27
03:22:04 GMT
YG-26 Yaogan Weixing-26
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-4B
Taiyuan
LC-9
901
Success
91
Dec. 28
00:37 Moscow Time
Applications / communications
39
Success
92
China
Dec. 31
01:02 GMT
Fengyun-2G
Application / remote sensing
Chang Zheng-3A
Xichang
2
-
Success

 

The 2014 space launch score card (as of January 13, 2015 ):

-
Country
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
Total
Failed
1
Proton-M: 8 (1*)
Soyuz-2-1b/a/ST: 14 (1*)
37
2
2
USA
Atlas-5: 9
Falcon-9: 6
Antares: 3 (1*)
Delta-4: 4
Delta-2: 1
-
-
-
23
1
3
China
Chang Zheng-2C: 4
Chang Zheng-4C: 3
Chang Zheng-4B: 4
Chang Zheng-2D: 2
Kuaizhou: 1
Chang Zheng-3C: 1
Chang Zheng-3A: 1
-
16
0
4
Europe
Ariane-5: 6
Vega: 1
-
-
-
-
-
-
7
0
5
India
GSLV-D5 (Mk. II): 1
PSLV: 3
-
-
-
-
-
-
4
0
6
Japan
H-2A: 4
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
4
0
7
Israel
Shavit: 1
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
0
-
World:
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
92
3

*Failed launch;

Unrealized launches previously planned in 2014:

Third quarter: A Rockot booster to launch a trio of Gonets-M communications satellites and the DOSAAF-85 experimental satellite from Pad 3 at Site 133 in Plesetsk. (The mission was previously expected in the third quarter of 2014.)

Delayed from Sept. 27: A Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat rocket to launch a classified military payload from Plesetsk.

Postponed from November 2014: A Soyuz-2-1v/Volga rocket to launch the Kanopus-ST remote-sensing satellite from Pad 4 at Site 43 in Plesetsk.

Early 2014: A Soyuz-2 rocket to launch Persona No. 3 satellite. (As of June 2013, the mission was expected at the end of 2013 - early 2014.)

June 6: A Dnepr booster to launch KOMPSat-3A remote-sensing satellite for South Korea from Dombarovsky-13.

Postponed from summer 2014: A Soyuz rocket to launch the Baumanets-2 experimental satellite.

June: A Shtil 2.1 submarine-launched rocket to launch a 19-kilogram solar sail demonstrator, along with a constellation of 50 small CubeSat satellites for multi-point and long-duration studies of lower thermosphere of the Earth under QB-50 program into a 330-kilometer orbit, with the inclination 79 degrees toward the Equator. (As of September 2010)

End of 2014: Ukraine to launch a Sich-2M remote-sensing satellite. (As of May 2013)

2014: A Rockot to launch the first new-generation Gonets-M1 satellite for the low-orbital communications network.

2014: A Rockot booster to launch a Lisa Pathfinder satellite from Pad 3 at Site 133 in Plesetsk.

2014: Russia to launch Kanopus-V No. 3 and No. 4 satellites.

2014: A Tsyklon-4 rocket to fly its first mission from Alcantara, Brazil with Nano-JASMINE payload. In November 2006, the Tsyklon-4 rocket was promised to fly its first mission from Alcantara in 2008. According to a Sept. 19, 2007, statement by the head of the Ukrainian space agency Yu. Alekseev, the mission would take place in 2009. As 2011, the launch was promised in November 2013, however by mid-2012, the mission was delayed to 2014.

2014: Russia to launch a second Geo-IK-2 satellite. (As of June 2013)


Delayed from 2013:

Postponed from middle of 2013: A Dnepr rocket to carry a PAZ payload from the Dombarovsky 13 launch site.

Postponed from summer 2012: A Proton-M rocket to launch the Garpun military communications satellite for the Russian Ministry of Defense from Baikonur.

Postponed from 2013: An Indian cosmonaut to fly onboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The inter-government agreement for the mission was reached during the visit of the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to India in December 2008.

Postponed from 2013: Russia to introduce a new version of its navigation satellite – GLONASS-K2. (As of November 2010. (438))


Postponed from 2012:

Postponed from 2012: A Soyuz rocket to launch the Bars military cartography satellite from Plesetsk.

Postponed from second quarter of 2012: The Tsyklon-2 rocket to launch the last US-P satellite from Baikonur's Site 90. (As of January 2012)

Postponed from 2012: An AzerSat-2 communications satellite to be launched from Baikonur for the government of Azerbaijan. The spacecraft is to be built by Orbital Sciences Corp.


Postponed from previous years:

Postponed from 2009: Russia to launch the TNS-2 nano-satellite developed by RNII KP equipped with magnetic attitude-control system and research payloads.


Canceled missions:

Postponed from 2013: Russia to launch an MKA-FKI No. 3 satellite with a Konus-M gamma-ray payload. (Canceled in 2014).

Postponed from Spring 2012: Originally, the Volna rocket was to launch German Space Agency's European eXPErimental Reentry Testbed, EXPERT, capsule on a suborbital trajectory from a submarine in the Pacific Ocean to the Kura impact range in the Kamchatka Peninsula. As of mid-2011. During 2010, the mission was planned in the summer of 2011. In 2008, the mission was expected in October of 2010. The Russian Navy refused to carry the mission and as of May 2012, ESA was still searching for alternative launch providers in Russia or in the US. As of October 2012, Roskosmos offered a Soyuz-1 launcher for the mission, however two sides still failed to reach an agreement. The payload was thyen moved to the Vega launcher.

For missions in 2015 click here


This page is compiled by Anatoly Zak with contributions from George H. Chambers

Last update: January 13, 2015

All rights reserved

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MEDIA ARCHIVE

Philae

The Philae probe departed its mother ship -- Rosetta spacecraft -- for the world's first comet landing on Nov. 12, 2014, at 08:35 GMT. The landing was confirmed at 16:03 GMT. Credit: ESA


processing

India's spacecraft for the Mars Orbiter Mission, MOM, during pre-launch processing. Credit: ESA


Egyptsat2

A Soyuz-U rocket launches Egyptsat-2 satellite on April 16. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


Luch-5V

Proton lifts off on April 28 with Luch-5V and KazSat-3 satellites. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


2014

A Rockot booster launches a trio of Rodnik satellites on May 23, 2014 and a mysterious Kosmos-2499. Credit: Zvezda TV Channel


Scale

Copyright © 2009 Anatoly Zak

launch

Credit: Zvezda TV channel

A new-generation Angara rocket flew its first test mission on July 9.


Flight

A Soyuz-2-1a rocket lifts off with the Foton-M4 satellite from Pad 31 in Baikonur. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


gantry

Proton rocket with Yamal-401 satellite shortly before liftoff on Dec. 15, 2014. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


Angara-5

A scale model of the Angara-5 rocket. Copyright © 2011 Anatoly Zak


KompSat

A scale model of the Kompsat-3A satellite, which was expected to be launched on Dnepr booster. Copyright © 2010 Anatoly Zak


Sentinel

Europe's Sentinel-3 satellite was expected to fly on a Rockot booster. Copyright © 2010 Anatoly Zak


Myriade

The MYRIADE micro-satellite bus would serve as a platform for French Space Agency's Taranis magnetosphere research mission, scheduled for launch in 2012-2013, possibly on a Russian rocket. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2009 Anatoly Zak