The week ahead in rocket launches: Relativity debut, OneWeb on SpaceX, more

This week is gearing up to be an exciting spectacle of launches. While not the most packed we’ve seen in the past, we could see the debut of two new rockets.

This week’s launches:

  • March 6th
    • JAXA H3 ALOS 3, 8:37 p.m. ET (Debut)
      •  Launch Pad 2, Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
  • March 8th
    • Relativity Terran 1 Good Luck Have Fun, 1:00 p.m. ET (Debut)
      • SLC-16, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
  • March 9th
    • SpaceX Falcon 9 OneWeb 17, 2:05 p.m. ET
      • SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
  • March 12th
    • Russian Proton Olymp-K 2, 7:12 p.m. ET
      • LC-81/24, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Japan to reattempt H3 launch tonight

First attempted in February, JAXA (Japan’s space agency) is reattempting the first launch of its H3 rocket. Japan’s first attempt followed the count down to T-0, where instead of lifting off, it aborted after failing to ignite the solid rocket boosters. After investigating the issue, Japan and its partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries determined the fault was in an electoral system for the H3’s core-stage engines.

Now fixed, H3 will attempt to launch the rocket on its first-ever mission, carrying an operational payload, Advanced Land Observing Satellite 3 (ALOS 3). The launch was initially planned for yesterday but was delayed due to weather. So good luck to JAXA and MHI on tonight’s launch attempt.

Credit: JAXA

Relativity debuting Terran 1 3D printed rocket

For our second new rocket attempting to launch this week, Relativity has a launch time set on Wednesday for its Terran 1 3D-printed rocket. Another entry in the dedicated small satellite launch market, Terran 1, can launch up to 1,250 kg to low Earth orbit.

Unlike JAXA’s H3 debut mission, Relativity will not have any payload on its rocket for launch. While Relativity has performed numerous tests for a while now on its rocket, there is always a chance something goes wrong. That chance is much higher on the first attempt, so to play it safe, the Terran 1 this week won’t have anyone’s payload in it.

The company plans to livestream its first attempt on its YouTube channel. It’s already up, so make sure you set that notification.

Credit: Relativity / Trevor Mahlmann

SpaceX, with its third OneWeb launch

With the suspension of OneWeb launches on Russian Soyuz rockets, SpaceX is one of the companies picked to continue launching OneWeb satellites to orbit. This will be SpaceX’s 15th launch this year, bringing them just over one launch every four days.

Not yet at the one launch every 3.65 days needed to reach Elon Musk’s goal of 100 launches. However, they are well on their way to achieving the goal, I guessed, at the end of 2022 of 75 launches. Lots of time left in the year, and I expect to see some multi-launch days in the future.

Image: Space Explored / Jared Locke

Russia launched a military satellite on a Proton

To round out the week, Russia is here to remind you that the military still surrounds everything regarding rockets. Russia’s Proton rocket has been around since the 1960s and has a rich history in the space industry. Its proper designation, the UR-500 points to a time when smaller and larger versions of this rocket were planned to be developed. Check out Scott Manely’s video about the Soviet Unions’ “Universal Rocket” program to learn more about this unique launcher.

The Proton is a heavy-lift rocket for the Russian space program that is eventually being phased out for the new Angara rocket currently coming online. For this mission, it is believed to be launching a signal intelligence satellite into geostationary orbit. These satellites sit over parts of the Earth and “listen” to communications. The US, China, and other nations operate similar satellites.

Load more...
Show More Comments