Space Calendar 2021: Upcoming  August Rocket Launches

13th Aug 2021

According to the announcement, there are 27 launches in August rocket launch Schedule. Eleven events have exact or approximate dates. The rest are still in the ambiguous status of “Not Earlier than August.” As always, China promises to be the most active. They plan to perform eight launches, but as practice shows, at least half of them risk being postponed. Russia is trying to catch up, apparently having decided to rehabilitate for the incident with the docking of the Nauka module to the ISS on July 29. Russian Soyuz and Angara rockets can be launched from Plesetsk under the programs of Roscosmos five times and once from Baikonur in the interests of the British OneWeb.

On the other hand, Space X will traditionally conduct a series of launches as part of the Starlink mission. This time, Elon Musk’s company plans to place 60 satellites in polar orbit and 120 in LEO. In addition, Cargo Dragon will travel to the ISS on a supply mission under a NASA contract.

Well, as we can see, everything is stable with the leaders. Let’s leave them unattended this time and tell you about the events of the current month that are more interesting in our opinion.

Previous Rocket Launches

I-Space Hyperbola

The Chinese launcher I-Space is definitely out of luck. Their Hyperbola rocket has suffered a second consecutive defeat in the battle against dark matter. After the separation of the stages, the carrier changed its trajectory and could not enter the calculated orbit. The launch was made from the Jiuquan Spaceport in China on 3rd August at 7.50 UTC.

ULA Atlas 5 – Boeing Starliner

On Wednesday 4th August, Boeing was forced to postpone the launch of the ULA Atlas from Cape Canaveral for the second time as part of the second test Boeing Starliner mission. The reason is the pre-start check technical problem with the Starliner valve. The second test flight was supposed to simulate a crewed mission, including rendezvous and docking with the ISS, an approximately two-week stay, and then re-entry and landing on airbags.

The launch was originally scheduled for early August but was postponed due to problems on the ISS during the docking of the Russian Nauka module.

As we can mention, the first test mission of Starliner also faced a number of problems and was reported unsuccessful. The delayed second mission calls into question the timing of Boeing’s crewed flight, which has been scheduled for the end of the year.

Rocket Launch Schedule for August 2021 

Antares Сygnus NG-16

On 10th August, from the Wallops Spaceport in Virginia, the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will attempt to launch the 17th Cygnus freighter as part of a resupply mission to the International Space Station. The mission is known as NG-16. The Cygnus will be delivered in the Antares 230+ configuration with two Russian first-stage RD-181 and second-stage Castor 30XL engines. The Cygnus cargo ship consists of a service module built in the USA based on the GEOStar platform and a pressurised module manufactured in France and Italy by Thales Alenia. The mission is postponed from 13th July.

Arianespace Vega – Pléiades-Néo 4

Mission 19 of the Arianespace Vega light rocket launches on 16th August from the ESA Kourou launch site in French Guiana. The rocket will deliver to SSO a constellation of 4 Earth observation satellites, developed by Airbus Defense & Space as an extension of the Pléiades-HR satellites.

The satellites are expected to be equipped with thermal imagers with a resolution of 30 cm and CILAS deformable mirrors. For communication, Tesat Spacecom terminals will be used to transmit data through the EDRS network, providing access to images in near real-time. The constellation will be placed in a 700 km orbit with two orbital planes to allow for repeat visits throughout the day. The launch will also include Rideshare – 5 ESA satellites.

Astra Space Rocket 3

On 27th August, a rocket from the private company Astra Space will attempt to enter orbit with a commercial payload for the first time. The launch is planned from Pacific Spaceport Complex, Kodiak, Alaska, USA. The previous three orbital launches of Astra failed. In December last year, the rocket crossed the Karman line and reached the target orbital altitude of 390 kilometres. But it was impossible to achieve a stable orbit due to problems with the ratio of the fuel mixture components in the upper stage.

Firefly Alpha Demo Flight

The first rocket launch of the private American company Firefly Aerospace has been postponed for several months now. As part of the demo mission, 26 educational Cubesats are supposed to be launched to LEO. It is not known how long the SLC-2W will wait in Vandenberg, but the launch may take place this time.

Rocket Lab Electron RASR-3,4

The Rocket Lab, which has recovered after the failure in May, concludes our review. On 29th July, the company successfully launched Electron with Monolith, a USAF Research Laboratory (AFRL) microsatellite designed to demonstrate the technology. The vehicle’s launch for the US Space Force was planned from the LC-2 launch complex in the USA but was postponed to New Zealand due to the prolonged process of the autonomous flight safety system certification.

Inspired by the success, Rocket Lab may conclude the August Rocket Launches Schedule with two launches of RASR-3 and 4 satellites under a contract from NRO. Launches are planned from two sites in Mahia, LC-1A and the new LC-1B, significantly reducing the interval between missions. The RASR-3 and RASR-4 missions are a follow-up to two recent rocket launches for the NRO; “Birds of a Feather” in January 2020 and “Don’t stop me now” in June 2020.

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