May 2022 Rocket Launch Schedule: a Close Look at Missions, Launches, and Spaceflights22nd May 2021
Space agencies and companies showed moderate activity in April, but May rocket launch schedule could make up for it. Of the 24 planned launches, only 14 took place last month. As always, SpaceX is in the lead with six successful missions. China has five more, Russia has 2, and Rocket Lab has one. The New Zealand launcher that planned four missions in April decided to focus not on quality instead of quantity, taking good care to prepare for the first capture of its Electron’s first stage by helicopter. We will discuss this mission a bit later; for now, let’s focus on Maу 2022 rocket launch schedule.
14 rocket launches are planned in May, five of which are still in TBA status. So, which rocket launches in May get to happen?
May 02, Rocket Lab Electron “There and Back Again” Mission (Completed)
In its 26th mission called “There and Back Again,” Rocket Lab launched 34 payloads to SSO from commercial operators Alba Orbital, Astrix Astronautics, Aurora Propulsion Technologies, E-Space, Unseenlabs, and Swarm Technologies through global launch service provider Spaceflight Inc.
This is the first successful attempt by Rocket Lab to recapture the first stage of its Electron rocket in the air. Electron launched from Mahia LC 1 A at 22:49 UTC. After a successful separation, the first stage started parachuting into the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 15 minutes later, a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter approached it from the side, hooked a parachute sling and delivered its rocket to the recovery ship. Bravo, Rocket Lab!
May 6,10, 17, TBD, Space X Falcon 9 Block 5/ Starlink Groups 4-17, 4-13, 4-15, 4-18
Space X continues to actively deploy Starlink broadband internet satellites on LEO. As part of its Maу 2022 rocket launch schedule, the company has planned four missions, and three of those already have exact dates. SpaceX rocket launches in May will traditionally take place at Kennedy SC, Canaveral, and Vandenberg. If they all happen on schedule, the Starlink constellation will have at least 200 more satellites. Way to go!
May 19, ULA Atlas V Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2
Starliner OFT-2 (Orbital Flight Test 2) is the second test launch of the Boeing Starliner reusable manned capsule without a crew. It will simulate a crewed mission, including rendezvous and docking with the ISS, as well as an approximately 2-week stay, atmosphere re-entry, and landing. A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying a Starliner is launched from a Canaveral SLC-41.
As a reminder, during its first orbital flight in December 2019, Starliner encountered numerous problems. After the spacecraft successfully separated from the launch vehicle, an unexpected failure occurred in the flight time calculation system. As a result, the space used up a lot of fuel, which made docking with the ISS impossible. In addition, there was an unforeseen temporary interruption of the communication session with the ship; because of this, the operators missed the moment when the engines had to be re-ignited to enter the rendezvous orbit with the ISS.
May 25, Space X Falcon 9 Block 5/ Transporter 5
Transporter 5 is a special mission under the SpaceX SmallSat Rideshare Program. The company is giving small satellite operators an unprecedented opportunity to send their ESPA payloads up to 200kg to LEO for just $1 million. It just doesn’t get any cheaper! This time Falcon 9 will carry 63 satellites for companies from 15 different countries. The rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral SLC 41 at 18:35 UTC. This event in the Maу 2022 rocket launch schedule will be the 130th Falcon Recovery Attempt.
May 27 – Rocket Lab Electron/ Capstone-Photon
As part of NASA’s Artemis mission, Electron will launch the Photon spacecraft with the Capstone satellite. After a three-month journey, the satellite will reach a highly elliptical orbit over the Moon’s poles to test its performance for the Gateway lunar orbital station.
TBD – Rocket Lab Electron/NROL 162 and NROL 199
Rocket Lab was supposed to carry out two missions to deliver SIGINT satellites to LEO for the US National Reconnaissance Office back in January. As a result, they were postponed three times due to a delay on the customer’s side. This time everything will also depend on the customer.
TBA Firefly Alpha/ Flight 2
After Firefly Alpha’s first test flight on September 3, 2021, the company took a long time preparing for a second attempt. As a reminder, 3 minutes after the first launch, the rocket lost its orientation due to problems with the first-stage engine, and the command centre decided to abort the mission and destroy the rocket along with its payload.
This time the company promises no setbacks, and educational payloads for Stanford University, California Polytechnic, AMSAT, Libre Space Foundation will be successfully delivered to LEO. This launch is scheduled from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Good luck, Firefly! We will keep our fingers crossed!
Interestingly, the ever-ambitious China plans only three rocket launches in May (usually, this figure is three times higher), but Russia seems to have no time for space at all because of its war in Ukraine. This May, it has no launches planned at all. We hope this will turn into a habit.
That is what the May 2022 rocket launch schedule should be like. We, as always, will keep you updated on each rocket launch of 2022. Follow our news on the May rocket launch schedule and other important space events!
May 2021 rocket launch schedule
According to nextspaceflight.com, 20 launches are planned for the May rocket launch schedule. SpaceX Falcon 9 has launched the 26th batch of Starlink satellites. Of those remaining, a half have got exact dates, the rest are still in question. In addition to the regulars, it’s worth highlighting Virgin Galactic, which will conduct another SpaceShipTwo test, as well as the return of the Pegasus XL after a year and a half break. This Northrop Grumman rocket launch will be the 45th since 1990 and hopefully the 40th successful one.
So, traditionally, we start with the leaders.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch with Starlink L 25, 26, 27, 28
Elon Musk is apparently stepping up with the launch of the Starlink global satellite Internet network. In addition to its L 25 mission on 4th May, SpaceX is planning three more this month and the second took place with an interval of only 5 days. There are no exact dates for the rest of May rocket launches. Thus, the number of Starlink satellites in orbits will increase by 240 pieces, and in total, 12 thousand of them are planned. All missions will take place from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
SpaceX Starship SN15
On 5th May, at SpaceX’s Boca Chica base, Texas, Starship SN15 conducted its 7th test flight of 10km. Once launched, the spacecraft landed in the area of Starbase A. We are happy for the SpaceX team’s success, and are glad that this launch went without any major issues and hopefully all other future launches will go ahead without fault.
Long March 7, Tianzhou 2
Among the many May rocket launches this year was the Chinese heavy rocket launch on the 20th of May – Tianzhou 2 robotic cargo spacecraft will be sent out to resupply the future modular space station. Its predecessor, Tianzhou 1, was launched on the same rocket in the spring of 2017 and demonstrated autonomous fuel pumping.
Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, on April 29, the second stage of the Long March 5 heavy rocket weighing 25 tons made an uncontrolled deorbit when the Tianhe module for the Chinese station was injected and should now fall to the ground. Thankfully, this did not happen with the Long March 7, which is slightly smaller.
However, failures do not stop China, and they traditionally plan many launches every year. So, 4 more May rocket launches of various Long March modifications were promised, as well as 2 launches of Quaizhou 1A with satellites on board. Two of these launches went ahead on 6th and 18th March; the rest are in TBD status, so postponements are possible, as is often practiced by Chinese space operators.
Rocket Lab Electron/Curie | Running Out of Toes
The Rocket Lab mission, that occurred on 15th May, was Electron’s 20th launch in a row. The rocket launched 2 Black Sky EO satellites on SSO from LC-1A, Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand. As part of the mission, the company will try to land the first stage in the ocean for a second time for reuse.
ULA Atlas 5 – SBIRS 17th of May on the 2021 rocket launch schedule
On 17th May, the ULA Atlas 5 heavy rocket launched the US Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) into a geostationary transfer orbit to warn of missiles and determine the characteristics of the combat airspace. The launch took place at SLC-41, Cape Canaveral SFS, Florida, USA and was the 87th in a row for Atlas 5.
Virgin Galactic – SpaceShipTwo
Richard Branson’s company, not wanting to be outdone in the competition with its longtime competitor SpaceX, will conduct the third test flight of the SpaceShipTwo prototype spacecraft. The test will take place at a private spaceport in New Mexico, USA. Great hopes are pinned on the flight. First, at the beginning of the month, Virgin Galactic announced the start of ticket sales for private suborbital flights, and secondly, the test should show that Virgin’s brainchild is superior to SpaceX Starship. We wish both of them the best of luck with their May rocket launches.
Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL TacRL-2
The Pegasus XL air launch rocket returns to service after a year and a half break with the TacRL-2 (Tactically Responsive Launch) mission. Its purpose is to demonstrate the possibility of quickly placing a payload into orbit by order of the US Air Force. The launch will take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA.
The mission is likely to be the last for the Pegasus project since the rocket, due to the high launch cost (40 million) and low payload (450 kg), can no longer compete with more modern carriers. In particular, with Virgin Orbit Launcher One, the cost of launching with the same carrying capacity is three times less.
The suitable carrier could have saved the Stratolaunch project, which is involved in the Pegasus. But after the death of Paul Allen, it was closed. As a result, Northrop Grumman was left with two unclaimed rockets, which are now used in the interests of the US Air Force.
OneWeb # 7 Soyuz-2.1b May rocket launch
The Starlink competitor, OneWeb, will complete the May rocket launch schedule. Unlike Musk’s Napoleonic plans, the British company has much more modest ambitions; its network will include only 650 satellites. As part of the 7th OneWeb mission, the Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket will launch 36 satellites into geostationary orbit. The launch is scheduled for 27th May from Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia.
India and Russia are planning to launch satellites. The first will launch the EOS-3 or GISAT satellite on the PSLV rocket, and the second will launch the updated Glonass-K for the global navigation satellite system on Soyuz-2.1b with the Fregat upper stage. The exact dates and times of the launches have not yet been announced.