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MANNED SPACE FLIGHT: FROM THE ASHES

ISS

Human exploration of space started in 2003 with a tragedy. On February 1, the US Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during the atmospheric reentry at the end of a science mission. The accident took lives of seven astronauts and essentially grounded the US manned space program. It also left Russia as a sole safe keeper of the International Space Station, ISS. Luckily for the ISS project, the Columbia tragedy coincided with the booming oil prices, which afforded the Russian government to give a long awaited financial shot in the arm to the country’s space agency. However, Russian space officials complained that any surplus in funding had been essentially eaten up by the need to boost the flow of supplies to the station to sustain its two-man crew during the year. As a result, decade-long hopes to jump-start the construction of the Russian segment of the ISS were dashed one more time.

And yet, for the Russian-American cooperation in space, the Columbia tragedy did provide a silver lining of sorts. A loud chorus of "experts" who in previous years spent sea of ink criticizing NASA for letting Russians in the "critical path" in the space station program had to finally quiet down. Without the Shuttle, the irreplaceable capability of the Russian spacecraft suddenly became clear even to the most avid opponents of the Russian-American cooperation.

At the same time, a debate about goals of manned space flight and its value for the humanity rekindled again on both sides of the Atlantic. In the months following the loss of Columbia, the American press was filled with editorials charging NASA with the "lack of vision" and "broken culture" of safety. Although many of such generalized allegations were so vague and unsubstantiated that it was almost impossible to answer, yet it was clear that, if anything, NASA clearly experienced a "major malfunction" in its public relations mission.

Space Race with China?

To add even more contrast to the picture of NASA in crisis, China launched its first man in space, nine months after the Columbia accident. On October 15, 2003, Shenzhou-5 spacecraft, with a 38-year-old Lt. Colonel Yang Liwei onboard entered orbit after apparently flawless launch from the launch pad in the Gobi Desert. After a day in space, the first Chinese astronaut returned safely to Earth to face fanfare of the official media.

Along with considerable amount of Russian technology, the Chinese manned space program adopted a great deal of the Soviet-style secrecy, letting analysts in the West to run amok in speculating possible scenarios for the Chinese future in space.

Despite less than enthusiastic reaction by the Western media, and all but total ignorance of the American public about the Chinese feat in space, some US analysts went on record, predicting a "new space race" with China. One "expert" was careless enough to promise Chinese manned expedition to the Moon within less than five years and a respectable US newspaper went ahead printing such "analysis." Skeptics, however, reminded about rather slow pace of the Chinese space program and about the lack of real challenge to the American political and economic dominance in the world to spark any really active competition in space.

New space initiative?

Perhaps, as a reaction to the "lack of vision" allegations and to the Chinese success, in November 2003, rumors surfaced on the Internet about some mysterious space initiative reportedly being ironed out in the White House and aimed to give NASA a new bold mission. Since George W. Bush administration almost rivaled Brezhnev's government in its obsession with secrecy, little could be discerned about the new proposal. Observers speculated about plans to return to the Moon or even about renewed efforts to send humans to Mars. However many longtime observers of the space program could not resist comparing the alleged new plan with another stillborn plan from the more than decade ago. In 1989, George Bush the elder proposed so-called Space Exploration Initiative, SEI, which would culminate with a manned expedition to Mars. In the post-Cold War climate, the plan found few backers outside of the aerospace industry.

In 2003, as in 1988, the United States faced record-high budget deficit, complemented with financial pressures of the global war on terror. Skeptics pointed out that in the absence of the active challenge to the American technological and political dominance in the world a large space program would promise few political dividends, without which it would be doomed to failure.

Weeks after space buffs around the world had discussed the possible US space initiative in the online forums, the mainstream American media "discovered" the story. Suddenly, questions about space policy popped up during press briefings in the White House. That was perhaps, the first time in many years, when space exploration was discussed at such level, not counting a short-lived hysteria in the days following the Columbia tragedy. In response to reporters' inquiries, a White House spokesman asked not to expect any major announcements on space in the immediate future.

However even rumors about possible “return to the Moon” was enough for some activists and journalists to start a campaign against any significant increase in space funding. Therefore, if the US government wanted to test waters on the popularity of space program among the American public by leaking rumors about the plan, it certainly got the idea in the last weeks of 2003. Symbolically, during the centennial of flight celebration in December 2003, when George W. Bush’s speech on the future in space was expected but had never taken place, an attempt had been made to recreate a historic flight of Wright brothers. On December 17, after a shaky attempt to hop into the air, a flimsy replica of the flyer landed in the pool of December mud.

Orbital Space Plane: wings versus capsules

Along with political and public relations battles, NASA faced another fallout from the Columbia accident. With the Space Shuttle system in its third decade of operation and with only three orbiters remaining, a fateful decision had to be made on the replacement program. Amazingly, after more than two decades of flying the Shuttle, NASA was back at the drawing board, choosing between the concepts, which reminded engineering studies from the 1960s and 1970s. Once dominant space plane concepts now competed with old-fashioned Apollo-style capsules and wingless lifting bodies. However no matter what the final choice would be, the future spacecraft would provide only shadow of the awesome size and power of the Space Shuttle. In fact, the Shuttle’s capability to carry cargo and people in a single vehicle was now viewed as its biggest design flaw. In this light, Russia’s involuntary decision at the beginning of the 1990s to abandon its reusable Buran program and stick with tiny Soyuz capsules now looked not only economical but also technically justified. As once Hindenburg explosion spelled the end of era for hydrogen-filled zeppelins, the fiery death of Columbia in 2003 doomed any prospects for the development of the large winged orbiters in the foreseeable future.

PLANETARY RESEARCH: YEAR OF MARS

In August 2003, the planet Mars shined in the Earth sky as bright as it did last time in the Neanderthal era some 60,000 years ago. While then early humans could only gaze at the reddish star in the sky, this time earthlings launched an armada of robots to the Red Planet. Along with two US rovers, European and Japanese space agencies targeted Mars with unmanned probes. Although Russia used its Soyuz/Fregat booster to lift European Mars Express -- the first planetary launch from Baikonur since 1996 -- the nation's planetary scientists could only envy their colleagues abroad. The Russia's own mission to explore Mars and return soil samples from its Moon Phobos was essentially abandoned on the drawing board in favor of a less ambitious project. Its exact goals, time frame and very possibility for implementation were yet to be determined.

Another blow to the Russian planetary science was dealt by the European Space Agency, ESA, in the fall of 2003, when its budget constraints forced the agency to slash the Russian lander from the Bepi Colombo mission aimed to explore Mercury. Without monetary compensation from Europe, Russia would not able to fund the lander on its own.

As a small consolation, in June 2003 ESA officially decided to launch its Venus Express mission onboard the Russian Soyuz-Fregat launcher, following successful departure of the Mars Express spacecraft onboard the same rocket.

While Martian probes launched in 2003 would spend most of the year in transit, previous NASA probes continued gathering rich scientific harvets from the orbit around the planet, helping scientists to write geological history of the Red Planet. In November 2003, NASA released images from Mars Global Surveyor, which showed what looked like deltas of ancient rivers. Believers in Martian rivers argued that images prove long-term presence of water on the surface of the planet.

In the meantime, the incoming flotilla of Martian probes sufferred its losses. First, Japanese space agency had no choice but to give up its years-long mission to the Red Planet, as it had became clear that ground controllers were unable to fire main propulsion system onboard the Nozomi spacecraft, in order to insert it into orbit around the planet. Few weeks later, the European Mars Express orbiter successfully entered orbit around Mars, however nothing was heard from the Beagle 2 lander, which Mars Express had ejected few days before.

Possibly, the biggest success for planetary science in 2003 took place on the ground. During the year, NASA made some significant progress in developing technology for future nuclear-powered/ion-propelled missions.

MILITARY SPACE

Russian secret military space program also saw major disappointments this year. A string of on-orbit failures left two crucial military satellites dead in space and a head of a major space center sacked in the wake of the failure. In August 2003, Yuri Koptev, the Director General of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency fired Stanislav Kulikov, the head of NPO Lavochkin. The company developed Araks observation satellite and Oko early-warning spacecraft, which both failed prematurely in 2003.

To worsen the situation even further, in November 2003, Russian Space Forces had some explaining to do regarding yet another apparent failure in orbit. When US radar detected multiple debris accompanying a Russian spy satellite, independent analysts assumed the spacecraft broke up in orbit. However a day later, Russian military denied any problems with the craft, while a rather bizarre explanation for the debris sighting has surfaced in the Russian press. Apparently, one of the satellite’s reentry capsules accidentally released its film into orbit, generating multiple signatures on the radar and inspiring some jokes on the online forums. The satellite itself was routinely blown up by the ground controllers near the end of its mission.

Despite failures in orbit, during the year, Russia managed to upgrade some of its space defense assets, such as tracking stations and early-warning radar.

ROCKETRY

During 2003, the development of rocket technology was marked by a tragedy in Brazil, when on August 23, the country’s VLS-1 launch vehicle exploded at the Equatorial launch pad in Alcantara. As many as 21 people died in the accident, which took place only a day before Brazil’s scheduled third attempt to launch a small satellite into orbit. Two previous orbital launch attempts failed in flight.

Russia is known to supply avionics systems for the VLS-1 program, which is apparently delivered as sealed modules, supposedly to maintain nonproliferation regime.

Half a world away, United States, Russia and European Union each worked on the introduction of the new families of heavy space boosters. The US Lockheed Martin kept early lead, introducing new bigger version from its Atlas V family of boosters, all powered by the Russian RD-180 engine on the first stage. Boeing followed with the test flight of the Delta IV rocket. Both families sport modular design, enabling different configurations, including future heavy-lift versions, which would replace vintage Titan vehicles.

Russia’s Khrunichev enterprise adopted similar modular concept for its Angara rocket, however financial problems kept the program years behind schedule. During 2003, the Russian government officials reiterated their commitment to the program and promised to fund long-delayed construction of the launch pad for the Angara in Plesetsk. Along with the launch pad, the Angara facilities in Plesetsk were to feature a landing strip for reusable winged Baikal booster, which could be used as a first stage for the Angara. During the year, Russian media reported the commencements of work on a special extension in Plesetsk airport, which would enable it to receive a reusable Baikal stage.

In the meantime, Russia’s operational space boosters performed flawlessly during the year, with all orbital launch attempts reaching their destinations. A new version of the space launcher based on the UR-100NU ICBM completed an apparently successful maiden flight under name Strela.

Total 24 Russian or Ukrainian space boosters blasted off from Baikonur, Plesetsk and the ocean-going platform during 2003. All of them successfully delivered their payloads into orbit.


APPENDIX 2

Milestones in rocketry and space exploration in 2003:

January: In the wake of the Ariane-5 rocket failure in December 2002, European Space Agency, ESA, decides to cancel launch of the Rosetta mission scheduled for January 12, 2003.

February 1: The US Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up during the atmospheric reentry at the end of a science mission.

March: In Netherlands, partners in the International Space Station discuss the future of the program.

March 27: Russian military conducts a training launch of the Topol intercontinental ballistic missile (RS-12M).

April 29: Almost exactly seven years after its launch, the Italian BeppoSAX astronomy satellite reenters the earth atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

May 4: The sixth long-term crew of the International Space Station, ISS, returns safely to Earth, despite off-target landing. The reentry capsule of the Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft touched down some 460 kilometers short of its intended landing zone.

May 5: During negotiations in Moscow, Koptev and O’Keefe reportedly agreed to resume cooperation in the unmanned exploration of Mars.

May 15: Russian strategic bombers conducted test launches of the long-range cruise missiles over the Indian Ocean.

May 16: NASA announces it selected 15 industry, government and academic organizations to pursue 22 innovative propulsion technology research proposals that could revolutionize exploration and scientific study of the solar system. The research is to be conducted in five, in-space propulsion technology areas: aerocapture; advanced chemical propulsion; solar electric propulsion; space-based tether propulsion; and solar sail technologies. Each technology identified for development was part of the In-Space Propulsion (ISP) Program, managed in the Office of Space Sciences, NASA Headquarters.

June 10: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has awards a Lockheed Martin team one of three $6 million concept design study contracts for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO). JIMO would be the first outer planet mission to fly under NASA's Project Prometheus Program.

July 7: Iran conducts a test launch of the Shahab-3 missile.

July 24: The International Launch Services, ILS, based in Mclean, Va., announced that NASA had chosen the Lockheed Martin's Atlas V rocket, to launch the Pluto New Horizons mission in January 2006. The mission is to conduct scientific reconnaissance of Pluto
and its moon, Charon.

July 24: The Air Force announced today that it has determined that The Boeing Company has committed serious violations of federal law based on its review into allegations of wrongdoing by Boeing during the 1998 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) source selection. As one of the punishments, the Air Force reduced the total number of Boeing Delta IV launches within Buy I agreement from 19 to 12. At the same time, the Air Force increased the total number of Lockheed Martin Buy I Atlas V launches from 7 to 14.

July 29: In California, partners in the International Space Station discuss the future of the program.

Aug. 1: Russia and Kazakhstan finalize agreement on a 50-year lease of Baikonur Cosmodrome. According to Rosaviacosmos, for the first time Kazakhstan offered funding of infrastructure at Baikonur for the Angara launch vehicle, replacing Proton.

Aug. 4: NASA announced that it has selected the University of Arizona "Phoenix" mission for launch in 2007 as what is hoped will be the first in a new line of smaller competing "Scout" missions in the agency's Mars Exploration Program. In May 2008, two US missions to Mars will deploy a lander to the water-ice-rich northern polar region, dig with a robotic arm into arctic terrain for clues on the history of water, and search for environments suitable for microbes.

Aug. 5: Malaysia will send its first astronaut into space on a Russian mission in 2005, Defense Minister Najib Razak said. The trip would be part of a technology transfer deal tied in with Malaysia's 900-million-dollar purchase of 18 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets reached during an official visit here by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Aug. 6: According to sources in Russia, the Araks-2 spacecraft, launched in 2002, failed on August 5 or 6, leading to the firing of the head of NPO Lavochkin.

Aug. 22: A Brazilian lightweight VLS-1 launch vehicle, scheduled for launch on Aug. 25 with a small satellite, exploded on the launch pad killing 21 people.

Aug. 26: Admiral Hal Gehman, who led Columbia Accident Investigation Board, CAIB, delivered the final report of the commission to NASA.

Aug. 29: In Beijing, Chinese and Russian officials discuss cooperation in space.

Sept. 10: NASA announces the selection of a beryllium-based mirror technology for the 6.5-meter primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a major milestone in the development of the spacecraft.

Sept. 16: China announces a suborbital test launch of the KT-1 rocket, however official statements indicated that the mission did not go as planned.

Sept. 21: NASA's Galileo spacecraft completes its mission around Jupiter by plunging into the giant planet's atmosphere to avoid possible contamination of Jovian satellites.

Sept. 28: SMART-1, Europe's first lunar mission launched a day earlier by the Ariane-5, officially started with the deployment of the spacecraft's solar panels.

Oct. 15: China launches its first man in space.

Nov. 3: Boeing announces it has established an integrated Orbital Space Program office, headquartered in Huntsville, Ala. The office was expected to work on the reusable crew rescue vehicle for the International Space Station and the replacement for the Space Shuttle.

Dec. 12: NASA successfully tests a new ion propulsion engine design, one of several candidate propulsion technologies under study by NASA's Project Prometheus for possible use on the proposed Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission.

Dec. 18: MASA releases first images from Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, which was launched in August 2003.

Dec. 19: ESA's Mars Express orbiter released the Beagle 2 lander during its approach to Mars.

Dec. 25: ESA's Mars Express orbiter successfully entered orbit around Mars, however no signals had been recieved from the Beagle 2 lander, which was suppose to reach the surface of the Red Planet on the same day.

On February 2, 2003, practically every American newspaper carried a cover story about the Columbia tragedy. Click to enlarge: 400 by 334 pixels / 64K Copyright © 2003 by Anatoly Zak


The view of the International Space Station through the camera of the approaching Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft in April 2003. Credit: RKK Energia


The 7th and 8th long-duration crews plus a European guest astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in October 2003. From the left (front row) are cosmonaut Yuri I. Malenchenko, Expedition 7 mission commander; European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Pedro Duque of Spain; astronaut C. Michael Foale, Expedition 8 mission commander and NASA ISS science officer. From the left (back row) are astronaut Edward T. Lu, Expedition 7 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, and cosmonaut Alexander Y. Kaleri, Expedition 8 flight engineer. Credit: NASA


Mars shines in the August sky as one of the brightest stars, as the small armada of spacecraft is approaching. Click to enlarge: 400 by 333 pixles / 20K. Copyright © 2003 by Anatoly Zak


Pictures from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter show eroded ancient deposits of transported sediment long since hardened into interweaving, curved ridges of layered rock. Scientists interpret some of the curves as traces of ancient meanders made in a sedimentary fan as flowing water changed its course over time. Such evidence may help settle a decades-long debate about whether the planet had long-lasting rivers instead of just brief, intense floods. Credit: NASA


APPENDIX 2

Orbital launch attempts in 2003:

Launch date
Time of launch*
Payload name
Payload type
Country payload owner
Launch vehicle
Launch site
Launch complex
Launch pad
Type of launch
Launch results
Jan. 6
1418
Coriolis
Remote sensing
USA
Titan 2
Vandenberg AFB
SLC-4
W
Orbital
Success
Jan. 11
0045

ICESat
CHIPSat

Remote sensing
USA
Delta 2
Vandenberg AFB
SLC-2
W
Orbital
Success
Jan. 16
1539
Columbia STS-107
Manned
USA
STS
KSC
LC-39
A
Orbital
Success****
Jan. 25
2014

SORCE

Solar
USA
Pegasus XL
Cape Canaveral
N/A
L-1011
Orbital
Success
Jan. 29
1806

GPS 2R-8
XSS-10

Navigation
test
USA
Delta 2
Cape Canaveral
SLC-17
B
Orbital
Success
Feb. 2
1259
Progress M-47 No. 247
Cargo supply
Russian Federation
Soyuz-U
Baikonur
1
5
Orbital
Success
Feb. 15
0700
Intelsat 907
Communications
International
Ariane 44L
Kourou
ELA-2
2
Orbital
Success
March 11
0059
DSCS 3-A3
Military
USA
Delta IV
Cape Canaveral
SLC-37B
B
Orbital
Success
March 28
0127
IGS 1A
IGS 1B
Military
Japan
H-2A
Tanegashima Island
?
?
Orbital
Success
March 31
2209
GPS 2R-9
Military
USA
Delta 2 (7925-9.5)
Cape Canaveral
SLC-17A
A
Orbital
Success
April 2
0153
Molniya-1T
Military
Russian Federation
Molniya
Plesetsk


Orbital
Success
April 8
1343
Milstar-6
Military
USA
Titan 4B
Cape Canaveral
40

Orbital
Success
April 9
2252
Galaxy-12
Insat 3A
Application spacecraft
USA
India
Ariane 5G
Kourou
ELA-3
3
Orbital
Success
April 11
0047
AsiaSat 4
Application spacecraft
China (Hong Kong)
Atlas IIIB (AC-205)
Cape Canaveral
36B
B
Orbital
Success
April 24
0423
Cosmos-2397
Early warning
Russian Federation
Proton-K
Baikonur
81
24
Orbital
Success
April 26
0353
Soyuz TMA-2
Manned
Russian Federation
Soyuz-FG (11A511U-FG #006)
Baikonur
1
5
Orbital
Success
April 28
1159
Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX)
Astronomy
USA
Pegasus XL
Cape Canaveral


Orbital
Success
May 8
1128
GSAT-2
Test
India
GSLV-D2
Sriharikota
?
?
Orbital
Success
May 9
0429
Muses-C
Asteroid research
Japan
M-5 (No. 5)
Kagosima

Planetary
Success
May 13
2210
Hellas-Sat
Communications
Greece
Atlas V
Cape Canaveral
41

Orbital
Success
May 25
1634
Beidou-3
Navigation
China
Long March 3A
Xichang
?
?
Orbital
Success
June 2
1745
Mars Express
Beagle 2
Manned
Europe
Soyuz-FG (11A511U-FG #005)
Baikonur
31
6
Planetary
Success
June 4
1923
Cosmos-2398
Navigation/
communications
Russian Federation
Cosmos-3M
Plesetsk
132
1
Orbital
Success
June 6
2215
AMC-9
Communications
USA
Proton-M
Baikonur
200
39
Orbital
Success
June 8
1034
Progress M1-10 No. 259
Cargo supply
Russian Federation
Soyuz
Baikonur
1
5
Orbital
Success
June 10
1758
MER-A
Mars lander
USA
Delta II
Cape Canaveral
SLC-17A
A
Planetary
Success
June 10
1356
Thuraya-2
Communications
OAE
Zenit-3SL
Pacific Ocean
Odyssey
1
Orbital
Success
June 11
2238
Optus and Defence C1
BSAT-2c
Communications
Australia
Ariane 5G
Kourou
ELA-3
1
Orbital
Success
June 19
2000
Molniya-2M
Communications
Russian Federation
Molniya-M
Plesetsk
43
3
Orbital
Success
June 26
1853
OrbView-3
Remote sensing
USA
Pegasus XL
Vandenberg AFB
N/A
L-1011
Orbital
Success
June 30
1415
Monitor mockup
MIMOSA
CanX-1
MOST
CUTE-1
Quake-sat
Cubesat XI
AAU Cubesat
DTUsat

Remote sensing

Russian Federation
Czhech Republic
Canada
USA
Japan
Denmark

Rockot
Plesetsk
133

3
Orbital
Success
July 8
0318
MER-B
Mars lander
USA
Delta II Heavy
(7925)
Cape Canaveral
SLC-17B
B
Planetary
Success
July 17
2345
Rainbow-1
Communications
USA
Atlas V
Cape Canaveral
41
1
Orbital
Success
Aug. 8
0330
EchoStar IX/Telstar 13
Communications
USA
Zenit 3SL
Pacific Ocean
Sea Launch
1
Orbital
Success
Aug. 12
0120
Cosmos-2399 (Don)
Reconaissance
Russian Federation
Soyuz-U
Baikonur
31
6
Orbital
Success
Aug. 13
0209
SCISAT
Remote sensing
USA
Pegasus XL
Vandenberg AFB
N/A
L-1011
Orbital
Success
Aug. 19
1050
Cosmos-2400 (Strela) Cosmos-2401 (Strela)
Communications
Russian Federation
Cosmos-3M
Plesetsk
132
1
Orbital
Success
Aug. 25
0135
SIRTF
Astronomy
USA
Delta II Heavy
Cape Canaveral
SLC-17B
B
Orbital
Success
Aug. 29
0147
Progress M-48
Cargo supply
Russian Federation
Soyuz-U
Baikonur
1
5
Orbital
Success
Aug. 29
2313
DSCS 3-B6
Communications
USA
Delta IV
Cape Canaveral
SLC-37B
B
Orbital
Success
Sept. 9
0429
USA-171
Reconnaissance
USA
Titan 4B
Cape Canaveral
40
?
Orbital
Success
Sept. 27
0611
BILSAT-1
NigeriaSat-1
UK-DMC
KAISTSAT-4
RUBIN-4-dsi

Remote sensing
International
Cosmos-3M
Plesetsk
132
-
Orbital
Success
Sept. 27
2314
INSAT-3E
e-BIRD
SMART-1

Communications

Lunar orbiter

India
Ariane-5
Kourou
ELA-3
3
Orbital
Success
Oct. 1
0402
Galaxy-13/Horizons-1
Communications
USA/Japan
Zenit-3SL
Pacific Ocean
Odyssey
1
Orbital
Success
Oct. 15
0100
Shenzhou-5
Manned
China
Long March-2F
Jiuquan
LA4
?
Orbital
Success
Oct. 17
0452
Resourcesat-1
Remote sensing
India
PSLV-C5
Sriharikota
?
?
Orbital
Success
Oct. 18
0538
Soyuz TMA-3
Manned
Russian Federation
Soyuz-FG (11A511U-FG #007)
Baikonur
1
5
Orbital
Success
Oct. 18
1617
DMSP Block 5D-3 F-16
Weather forecast
USA
Titan 23G
Vandenberg AFB
SLC-4
W
Orbital
Success
Oct. 21
0316
CBERS-2
Remote sensing
China/Brazil
Long March-4B
Taiyuan
?
?
Orbital
Success
Oct. 30
1343
SERVIS-1
Remote sensing
Japan
Rockot
Plesetsk
133
3
Orbital
Success
Nov. 3
3:20 pm**
FSW-18
Material processing
China
Long March 2D
Jiuquan
?
?
Orbital
Success
Nov. 14
12:01**
Zhongxing-20
Communications
China
Long March 3A
Xichang
?
?
Orbital
Success
Nov. 24
09:22***
Yamal-200-1
Yamal-200-2
Communications
Russia
Proton K
Baikonur
81
23
Orbital
Success
Nov. 29
13:33**
IGS-3
IGS-4
Reconnaissance
Japan
H-IIA
Tanegashima Island
?
?
Orbital
Failure
Dec. 2
10:04
NOSS
Reconnaissance
USA
Atlas 2AS
Vandenberg AFB
SLC-3
3
Orbital
Success
Dec. 5
09:00***
GVM
Test
Russian Federation
Strela
Baikonur
132
386
Orbital
Success
Dec. 10
20:42***

Uragan
Uragan
Uragan-M

Navigation
Russian Federation
Proton
Baikonur
81
24
Orbital
Success
Dec. 18
0230
UHF Follow-On F11
Communications
USA
Atlas III
Cape Canaveral
36
B
Orbital
Success
Dec. 21
0805
GPS 2R-10
Navigation
USA
Delta 2
Cape Canaveral
17
A
Orbital
Success
Dec. 27
2130
AMOS 2
Communications
Israel
Soyuz FG
Baikonur
31
6
Orbital
Success
Dec. 28
2300
Express-AM22
Communications
Russian Federation
Proton K
Baikonur
200
39
Orbital
Success
Dec. 29
1906
Double Star-1
Double Star-2
Astronomy
China
Europe
Long March 2C
Xichang
?
?
Orbital
Success

* UTC unless stated otherwise; ** - Local (?); *** Moscow Time: ****Lost on reentry as a result of the damage during the launch