Launch Date: May 5, 2018 Launch Window: 11:05-13:05 UTC Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 401 Launch Operator: United Launch Alliance Launch Site: SLC-3E Vandenberg Air Force Base, California Payload: InSight Payload Type: Mars Exploration Lander for Geophysics Payload Operator: NASA A United Launch Alliance Atlas
|Launch Date:||May 5, 2018|
|Launch Window:||11:05-13:05 UTC|
|Launch Vehicle:||Atlas V 401|
|Launch Operator:||United Launch Alliance|
|Launch Site:||SLC-3E Vandenberg Air Force Base, California|
|Payload Type:||Mars Exploration Lander for Geophysics|
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch NASA’s InSight mission on a trajectory for landing on Mars in November 2018 to begin a mission of at least two years using a suite of instruments to study the planet’s interior to better understand the processes the shaped the rocky planets of the solar system, including our own. The mission has the full name of “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport” and employs the overall design of the 2008 Phoenix Mars Lander with a payload suite comprising a high-fidelity seismometer, a self-penetrating heat-flow probe and a rotation and interior structure experiment. InSight is targeting a landing in Elysium Planitia.
The InSight Mission was delayed from the 2016 interplanetary launch window due to a critical fault discovered on the lander’s primary seismic instrument. To send InSight on its way, Atlas V will be flying in its basic 401 configuration without boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.
🛰 Secondary Payloads: MarCO CubeSats
🚀 Launch Vehicle Overview: Atlas V 401
(Saturday) 11:05 UTC
Launch Date: May 19, 2018 Launch Window: 20:03 UTC Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 FT Launch Operator: SpaceX Launch Site: SLC-4E Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 1st Stage Recovery: No Payload: 5 Iridium-NEXT, GRACE-FO 1 & 2 Payload Operator: Iridium Communications / GFZ/NASA A SpaceX
|Launch Date:||May 19, 2018|
|Launch Window:||20:03 UTC|
|Launch Vehicle:||Falcon 9 FT|
|Launch Site:||SLC-4E Vandenberg Air Force Base, California|
|1st Stage Recovery:||No|
|Payload:||5 Iridium-NEXT, GRACE-FO 1 & 2|
|Payload Operator:||Iridium Communications / GFZ/NASA|
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch five Iridium-NEXT mobile communications satellites and a pair of gravity-sensing satellites into Low Earth Orbit on a shared ride between Iridium Communications and GRACE-FO operators GFZ and NASA. SpaceX has been contracted to deploy 75 Iridium-NEXT satellites with deployment occurring in batches of ten, meaning one Falcon 9 would fly with half a load, leaving surplus performance for a co-passenger. The two GRACE Follow-On Satellites are flying as an extension of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment that has been tracking Earth’s gravitational field since 2002 and is headed into retirement in late 2017. GRACE shows how mass is distributed around the planet and its variation over time, allowing for modeling of Earth’s oceans, geology and climate.
The Iridium satellites are headed to orbit in the continued effort to replace the entire heritage Iridium constellation with upgraded satellites supporting global communications, aeronautical monitoring and ship tracking.
🚀 Launch Vehicle Overview: Falcon 9 FT
🛰 Payload Overview: Iridium-NEXT Satellite & Constellation
Previous Iridium-NEXT Missions:
(Saturday) 20:03 UTC
Launch Date: May 21, 2018 Launch Window: TBA Launch Vehicle: Long March 4C Launch
|Launch Date:||May 21, 2018|
|Launch Vehicle:||Long March 4C|
|Launch Site:||Xichang Satellite Launch Center|
|Payload:||Queqiao – Chang’e 4 Relay Satellite|
|Satellite Type:||Lunar Exploration Communications Support|
|Secondary Payloads:||Longjiang-1 & 2|
China’s robotic exploration of the Moon is expected to take its next major steps in 2018 with the Chang’e 4 lunar lander and rover mission that aims to become the first lunar surface exploration mission on the far side of the Moon. To communicate with an asset on the far side of the Moon, a dedicated communications relay post is needed in a position where it can have a direct line of sight to the lander and a ground station on Earth – the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2, a gravitationally stable position behind the Moon (as seen from Earth), provides a suitable position to place a relay satellite. Queqiao, a 425-Kilogram satellite built for a five-year mission, hosts a 4.2-meter dish antenna to keep up a 256 kbit/s link with the Chang’e 4 lander & rover and relaying data to the ground via S-Band. The Chang’e 4 mission targets launch around half a year after the relay satellite.
Launch Date: NET June 14, 2018 Launch Window: TBA Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL Launch Operator: Orbital-ATK Launch Site: L-1011 Air Launch, Kwajalein Atoll Payload: ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer) Payload Operator: NASA An air-launched Pegasus XL rocket operated by Orbital-ATK will launch NASA's
|Launch Date:||NET June 14, 2018|
|Launch Vehicle:||Pegasus XL|
|Launch Site:||L-1011 Air Launch, Kwajalein Atoll|
|Payload:||ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer)|
An air-launched Pegasus XL rocket operated by Orbital-ATK will launch NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) to begin a study of Earth’s ionosphere, a vitally important region when attempting to understand the dynamics between Earth’s atmosphere and solar weather. ICON sets out to reveal the mechanisms of ionospheric disturbances caused by solar storms or terrestrial weather activity in the upper atmosphere which can have implications on the operation of satellites and the propagation of radio waves.
The L-1011 aircraft carrying the Pegasus XL rocket will take off from the Kawajalein Atoll and send the vehicle onto an ascent over the Pacific Ocean to deploy the 291-Kilogram spacecraft is be deployed into a circular orbit 575 Kilometers in altitude, inclined 27°. Staging operations (spacecraft processing, launch vehicle assembly) will take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Delayed from 2017 due to Launcher Issues:
NASA is postponing launch of the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) until 2018. The mission was previously planned to launch Dec. 8, 2017, on an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. NASA and Orbital ATK need additional time to assess a separation component of the rocket. More information on a revised launch date will be provided once it becomes available.
🚀 Launch Vehicle Overview: Pegasus XL
Launch Date: July 31, 2018 Launch Window: 14:07 UTC Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy / Star 48BV
|Launch Date:||July 31, 2018|
|Launch Window:||14:07 UTC|
|Launch Vehicle:||Delta IV Heavy / Star 48BV|
|Launch Operator:||United Launch Alliance|
|Launch Site:||SLC-37B Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida|
|Payload:||Parker Solar Probe (610kg)|
|Payload Type:||Solar Heliophysics Orbiter|
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will launch NASA’s Parker Solar Probe into an orbit taking it to within 5.9 million Kilometers to the Sun’s photosphere, typically considered as the ‘surface’ of the Sun. As the first spacecraft to ‘touch’ the sun, the Parker Solar Probe requires considerable energy to be launched into the Sun’s gravity well, explaining why a spacecraft weighing only 610 Kilograms will need a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle topped with an additional Star 48BV launch vehicle. Targeting a mission of nearly seven years, the Parker Solar Probe will attempt to illuminate the structure and dynamics of magnetic fields at the source of the solar wind that affects all planets in the solar system, trace the flow of energy responsible for solar wind acceleration, find the source of energetic particles and explore the dusty plasma near the sun.
🚀 Launch Vehicle Overview: Delta IV Heavy
Launch Date: September 12, 2018 Launch Window: 12:46-15:20 UTC Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7320-10C Launch Operator: United Launch Alliance Launch Site: SLC-2W Vandenberg Air Force Base, California Payload: ICESat-II (1,324kg) Payload Type: Remote Sensing Payload Manufacturer: NASA Secondary Payloads: ELFIN IT-SPINS CHEFSat A United Launch Alliance Delta II
|Launch Date:||September 12, 2018|
|Launch Window:||12:46-15:20 UTC|
|Launch Vehicle:||Delta II 7320-10C|
|Launch Operator:||United Launch Alliance|
|Launch Site:||SLC-2W Vandenberg Air Force Base, California|
|Payload Type:||Remote Sensing|
A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket will launch NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite into a 496-Kilometer Low Earth Orbit for a mission dedicated to measuring global ice sheet elevation, sea ice, land topography and vegetation characteristics using the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). The instrument will use a LIDAR to take elevation measurements every 70 centimeters along the satellite’s ground path at very high accuracy to determine elevation. This will be the final flight of the Delta II rocket, capping a three-decade career with what is hoped to be its 100th consecutive launch success.
🚀 Launch Vehicle Overview: Delta II 7320
(Wednesday) 12:26 UTC
Launch Date: September 2018 Launch Window: TBA Launch Vehicle: Proton-M / Block DM-03 Launch Operator: Roscosmos Launch Site: Site 81/24, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan (TBC) Payload: Spektr-RG (2,647kg) Payload Type: X-Ray Space Observatory Spacecraft Manufacturer: NPO Lavochkin A Russian government-operated Proton-M rocket with Block DM-03
|Launch Date:||September 2018|
|Launch Vehicle:||Proton-M / Block DM-03|
|Launch Site:||Site 81/24, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan (TBC)|
|Payload Type:||X-Ray Space Observatory|
|Spacecraft Manufacturer:||NPO Lavochkin|
A Russian government-operated Proton-M rocket with Block DM-03 upper stage will launch the Spektr-RG space telescope setting out to enter a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2. The Russian-German observatory-class mission will study the interplanetary magnetic field, galaxies and black holes via a complement of five telescopes covering a broad energy range from the far ultraviolet to the hard X-ray spectrum. The spacecraft hosts the eROSITA and ART-XC instrument that are expected to operate for 7.5 years to complete a four-year all-sky survey followed by 3.5 years of pointed observations.
🚀 Launch Vehicle Overview: Proton-M /DM-03