2011 in spaceflight

Summary

2011 in spaceflight
STS-135 landing cropped.jpg
Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at the Shuttle Landing Facility on 21 July 2011, completing the final mission of the Space Shuttle programme.
Orbital launches
First20 January
Last28 December
Total84
Successes78
Failures6
Catalogued80
National firsts
Satellite Isle of Man
Rockets
Maiden flightsZenit-3F
Long March 2F/G
Atlas V 541
RetirementsSpace Shuttle
Delta II Heavy
Crewed flights
Orbital7
Total travellers28
EVAs10

The year 2011 saw a number of significant events in spaceflight, including the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle after its final flight in July 2011, and the launch of China's first space station module, Tiangong-1, in September. A total of 84 orbital launches were conducted over the course of the year, of which 78 were successful. Russia, China and the United States conducted the majority of the year's orbital launches, with 35, 19 and 18 launches respectively; 2011 marked the first year that China conducted more successful launches than the United States.[1] Seven crewed missions were launched into orbit during 2011, carrying a total of 28 astronauts to the International Space Station. Additionally, the Zenit-3F and Long March 2F/G carrier rockets made their maiden flights in 2011, while the Delta II Heavy made its last.

Overview of orbital spaceflight

A total of 84 orbital launches were attempted in 2011, with 78 being reported as successful; 80 launches reached orbit. 35 launches were conducted using Russian and former Soviet rockets, whilst China launched 19 rockets, and the United States launched 18. Europe conducted five launches, India and Japan launched three rockets each, and Iran conducted one launch.

Crewed launches

Seven crewed spaceflights – four Soyuz and three Space Shuttle missions – were launched in 2011, carrying a total of 28 astronauts and cosmonauts into orbit. At the beginning of the year, the Expedition 26 crew was aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The first crewed flight of 2011 was STS-133, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on 24 February. STS-133 carried Leonardo, the final American pressurised module of the ISS, for installation. Discovery returned to Earth on 9 March.

On 16 March, Expedition 27 began aboard the ISS with the departure of the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft, which had been docked since October 2010. On 4 April, Soyuz TMA-21 launched to the space station, delivering a further three crewmembers. On 16 May, Space Shuttle Space Shuttle Endeavour launched to the station on its final mission, STS-134, delivering and installing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, before returning to Earth on 1 June. Expedition 28 began aboard the ISS on 23 May with the departure of Soyuz TMA-20, which had been launched in December 2010, and landed in the early morning of 24 May. Three more crewmembers were launched to the space station aboard Soyuz TMA-02M on 7 June.

The final Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, began on 8 July with the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, carrying supplies for the ISS aboard the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM). After resupplying the space station, Atlantis returned to Earth, landing at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility at 09:57 UTC on 21 July, and concluding thirty years of Space Shuttle operations. Two days before landing, Atlantis deployed PSSC-2, the last satellite to be launched from a Space Shuttle.

On 29 September, China launched its first space station module, Tiangong-1, which was placed into orbit by a Long March 2F/G carrier rocket flying from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. Although no crewed missions to Tiangong-1 were conducted in 2011, the uncrewed Shenzhou 8 spacecraft, which was launched on 31 October, docked twice with the module to test its systems in preparation for a successful 2012 crewed docking.

ISS Expedition 28 ended, and Expedition 29 began, with the undocking of Soyuz TMA-21 on 16 September. The launch of Soyuz TMA-22 did not take place until 14 November, having been delayed by reliability concerns surrounding the Soyuz rocket after an uncrewed launch failure in August. A week later, Soyuz TMA-02M undocked, beginning Expedition 30, with the Soyuz spacecraft landing on 22 November. The final crewed launch of the year took place on 21 December, when Soyuz TMA-03M was launched to bring a further three crewmembers to the ISS.

Ten spacewalks were conducted in 2011, all of them by ISS or Space Shuttle astronauts. The final spacewalk by a Space Shuttle crew was conducted on 27 May, during the STS-134 mission.

Robotic exploration

Numerous scientific exploration missions were begun in 2011. In March 2011, the MESSENGER probe became the first artificial satellite of the planet Mercury. In July, the Dawn spacecraft became the first artificial satellite of the asteroid 4 Vesta. The Mars Science Laboratory – at the time, the largest Mars rover ever constructed – was launched in November, conducting a successful landing on Mars in August 2012.[2]

Launch failures

Six orbital launches failed in 2011, four of which failed to achieve orbit and the remaining two reached lower orbits than expected. The first failure occurred on 1 February, when a Rokot with a Briz-KM upper stage placed Kosmos 2470 into a useless orbit, from which it could not recover. The failure was later traced to a software problem on the Briz-KM.

The next failure occurred on 4 March, when the payload fairing of a Taurus-XL failed to separate, resulting in the rocket being too heavy to reach orbit. The Glory climate research satellite was lost in the failure, along with the KySat-1, Hermes and Explorer-1 [PRIME] CubeSats. The previous Taurus-XL launch, carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory in February 2009, also failed due to the fairing not separating.

No more launch failures occurred until mid-August when, over the space of a week, three consecutive orbital launches failed. On 17 August, a Proton-M/Briz-M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying the Ekspress-AM4 communications satellite. In the morning of 18 August, the rocket's upper stage failed to conduct the fourth of five planned burns due to an attitude control system malfunction, leaving the spacecraft in a parking orbit. Later that same day, a Long March 2C launched from Jiuquan carrying the Shijian XI-04 satellite. The second stage vernier engine's mounting suffered a structural failure, resulting in a loss of control, and the rocket failed to reach orbit. Finally, on 24 August, a Soyuz-U carrying the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station suffered a third-stage engine failure and also failed to attain orbit.

The final launch failure of 2011 occurred on 23 December, when a Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat carrying the Meridian 5 satellite failed to achieve orbit due to a third-stage malfunction. Debris fell over Novosibirsk Oblast, with one piece hitting a house; however, no casualties were reported.

In November 2011, Russia's Fobos-Grunt Martian sample return probe launched successfully, but experienced a malfunction post-launch and became stranded in orbit. The spacecraft, which was Russia's first attempt at an interplanetary mission since the 1996 Mars 96 mission, disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean on 15 January 2012.[3][4] China's first Mars probe, Yinghuo-1, which was being carried by the same rocket as Fobos-Grunt, was also lost in the incident.

Orbital launches

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks

January

20 January
12:29:01
Ukraine Zenit-3F Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 45/1 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Elektro-L No.1 Roscosmos Geostationary Meteorology In orbit Operational[5]
Maiden flight of Zenit-3F.
20 January
21:10[7]
United States Delta IV-H United States Vandenberg SLC-6 United States United Launch Alliance
United States USA-224 (KH-11) NRO Low Earth Earth observation In orbit Operational
NRO Launch 49, first Delta IV Heavy launch from Vandenberg.[6]
22 January
05:37:57[8]
Japan H-IIB Japan Tanegashima LA-Y2 Japan JAXA[citation needed]
Japan Kounotori 2 (HTV-2) JAXA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 30 March Successful
28 January
01:31:41
Russia Soyuz-U Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Progress M-09M / 41P Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 26 April
13:22:53
Successful
Russia Kedr RKK Energia Low Earth Amateur radio 4 January 2012[9] Successful

February

1 February
14:00
Russia Rokot / Briz-KM Russia Plesetsk Site 133/3 Russia VKS
Russia Kosmos 2470 (Geo-IK-2 No.11) VKS Low Earth Geodesy 15 July 2013[11] Launch failure
Upper stage malfunctioned due to problems with the flight software,[10] reached lower orbit than planned.
6 February
12:26
United States Minotaur I United States Vandenberg SLC-8 United States Orbital Sciences
United States USA-225 (RPP) NRO Low Earth Technology demonstration In orbit Operational[12]
NRO Launch 66
16 February
21:50[13]
Europe Ariane 5 ES France Kourou ELA-3 France Arianespace
Europe Johannes Kepler ATV ESA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 21 June Successful
24 February
21:53:24
United States Space Shuttle Discovery United States Kennedy LC-39A United States United Space Alliance
United States STS-133 NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 9 March
16:57:17
Successful
United Nations Leonardo (PMM)[14] ASI / NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS assembly In orbit Operational
United Nations ExPRESS-4 NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics In orbit Operational
Crewed flight, final flight of Discovery.
26 February
03:07
Russia Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Russia Plesetsk Site 43/4 Russia RVSN RF
Russia Kosmos 2471 (Glonass-K 701) VKS Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Successful

March

4 March
10:09:43
United States Taurus-XL 3110 United States Vandenberg LC-576E United States Orbital Sciences
United States Glory NASA Intended: Low Earth (SSO) Climatology 4 March Launch failure
United States KySat-1 Kentucky Space Intended: Low Earth Technology demonstration
United States Hermes Colorado Intended: Low Earth Technology demonstration
United States Explorer-1 [PRIME] Montana State Intended: Low Earth Radiation
All payloads CubeSats except Glory, which would have been part of the A-train constellation. Fairing failed to separate.
5 March
22:46
United States Atlas V 501 United States Cape Canaveral SLC-41 United States United Launch Alliance
United States USA-226 (X-37B FLT-2) U.S. Air Force Low Earth Technology demonstration 16 June 2012
12:48[15][16]
Successful
11 March
23:38
United States Delta IV-M+ (4,2) United States Cape Canaveral SLC-37B United States United Launch Alliance
United States USA-227 (SDS-3) NRO Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
NRO Launch 27

April

4 April
22:18:20[17][18]
Russia Soyuz-FG Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Soyuz TMA-21 Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) Expedition 27/28 16 September
03:59:39
Successful
9 April
20:47:04
China Long March 3A China Xichang LC-3 China CNSA
China Compass-IGSO3 CNSA IGSO Navigation In orbit Operational
14 April
04:24
United States Atlas V 411[19] United States Vandenberg SLC-3E United States United Launch Alliance
United States USA-229 (NOSS) NRO Low Earth ELINT In orbit Operational
United States USA-229 (NOSS) NRO Low Earth ELINT In orbit Operational
NRO Launch 34
20 April
04:42[20][21][22]
India PSLV India Satish Dhawan FLP India ISRO
India Resourcesat-2 ISRO Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
India Russia YouthSat ISRO / MGU Low Earth (SSO) Education In orbit Operational
Singapore X-Sat CREST Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
22 April
21:37[23][24][25]
Europe Ariane 5 ECA[26] France Kourou ELA-3 France Arianespace
United Arab Emirates Yahsat 1A Yahsat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
United Nations New Dawn[27] Intelsat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Partial spacecraft failure
New Dawn's C-Band antenna failed to deploy.
27 April
13:05:21
Russia Soyuz-U Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Progress M-10M / 42P Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 29 October
13:00:31
Successful

May

4 May
17:41:33[28]
Russia Soyuz-2.1a / Fregat Russia Plesetsk Site 43/4 Russia RVSN RF
Russia Meridian 4 VKS Medium Earth Communications In orbit Operational
7 May
18:10
United States Atlas V 401 United States Cape Canaveral SLC-41 United States United Launch Alliance
United States USA-230 (SBIRS-GEO 1) U.S. Air Force Geosynchronous Missile defense In orbit Operational
16 May
12:56
United States Space Shuttle Endeavour United States Kennedy LC-39A United States United Space Alliance
United States STS-134 NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 1 June
06:35
Successful
United Nations AMS-02[14] NASA Low Earth (ISS) Cosmic-ray observatory In orbit Operational
United Nations ExPRESS-3 NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics In orbit Operational
Crewed flight, final flight of Endeavour.
20 May
19:15[30]
Russia Proton-M/Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 Russia United States International Launch Services
Canada Telstar 14R Telesat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Partial spacecraft failure
Second solar panel failed to deploy due to tangled cable[29]
20 May
20:38[31]
Europe Ariane 5 ECA France Kourou ELA-3 France Arianespace
Singapore Taiwan ST-2 SingTel / Chunghwa Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
India INSAT-4G/GSAT-8[32] ISRO Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational

June

7 June
20:12:45
Russia Soyuz-FG Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Soyuz TMA-02M Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) Expedition 28/29 22 November
02:26
Successful
10 June
14:20
United States Delta II 7320 United States Vandenberg SLC-2W United States United Launch Alliance
Argentina United States SAC-D CONAE / NASA Low Earth (SSO) Oceanography In orbit Operational
Final scheduled flight of Delta II 7300 series; spacecraft carrying NASA's Aquarius instrument.
15 June
09:14[33]
Iran Safir-1A Iran Semnan LP-1 Iran ISA
Iran Rasad 1 ISA Low Earth Earth observation 6 July 2011 Successful
20 June
16:13[34]
China Long March 3B China Xichang LC-2 China CNSA
China ChinaSat 10 China Satellite Communications Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
21 June
14:38
Russia Soyuz-U Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Progress M-11M / 43P Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 1 September
10:21:41
Successful
27 June
16:00[35]
Russia Soyuz-U Russia Plesetsk Site 16/2 Russia VKS
Russia Kosmos 2472 (Kobalt-M No.7) VKS Low Earth Reconnaissance 24 October Successful
30 June
03:09
United States Minotaur I United States MARS LP-0B United States Orbital Sciences
United States USA-231 (ORS-1) ORSO Low Earth Earth observation 12 March 2018[36] Successful

July

6 July
04:28[37]
China Long March 2C China Jiuquan SLS-2 China CNSA
China Shijian XI-03 CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
8 July
15:29
United States Space Shuttle Atlantis United States Kennedy LC-39A United States United Space Alliance
United States STS-135 NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 21 July 2011
09:57
Successful
Italy United States Raffaelo MPLM NASA Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics Successful
United States PSSC-2 U.S. Air Force Low Earth Technology demonstration 8 December Successful
Crewed flight, final flight of Atlantis and of Space Shuttle programme.
11 July
15:41[38][39]
China Long March 3C China Xichang LC-2 China CNSA
China Tianlian I-02 (1B) CNSA Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
13 July
02:27[40][41]
Russia Soyuz-2.1a / Fregat Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 31/6 Europe Russia Starsem
United States Globalstar M081 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M083 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M085 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M088 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M089 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M091 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
15 July
11:18
India PSLV-XL India Satish Dhawan FLP India ISRO
India GSAT-12 ISRO Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
15 July
23:16
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 Russia United States International Launch Services
Netherlands SES-3 SES World Skies (July–September)
SES S.A. (September—)
Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
Kazakhstan KazSat-2 JSC KazSat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
16 July
06:41
United States Delta IV-M+ (4,2) United States Cape Canaveral SLC-37B United States United Launch Alliance
United States USA-232 (GPS-IIF-2) U.S. Air Force Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Operational
18 July
02:31[42]
Ukraine Russia Zenit-3F Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 45/1 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Spektr-R (RadioAstron) Roscosmos High Earth Radio astronomy In orbit Successful
26 July
21:44[43]
China Long March 3A China Xichang LC-3 China CNSA
China Compass-IGSO4 CNSA IGSO Navigation In orbit Operational
29 July
07:42[44]
China Long March 2C China Jiuquan SLS-2 China CNSA
China Shijian XI-02 CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational

August

5 August
16:25[45]
United States Atlas V 551 United States Cape Canaveral SLC-41 United States United Launch Alliance
United States Juno NASA Jovicentric Jupiter orbiter In orbit Operational
6 August
22:52[46]
Europe Ariane 5 ECA France Kourou ELA-3 France Arianespace
Luxembourg Astra 1N SES Astra (August–September)
SES S.A. (September—)
Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
Japan BSAT-3c / JCSAT-110R BSAT / JSAT Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
11 August
16:15[47]
China Long March 3B/E China Xichang LC-2 China CNSA
Pakistan Paksat-1R SUPARCO Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
15 August
22:57[48]
China Long March 4B China Taiyuan LC-2 China CNSA
China Hai Yang 2A CAST Low Earth (SSO) Oceanography In orbit Operational
17 August
07:12[49]
Ukraine Dnepr Russia Dombarovsky Site 13 Russia ISC Kosmotras
Ukraine Sich-2 NKAU Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
Nigeria NigeriaSat-2 NASRDA Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
Nigeria NigeriaSat-X NASRDA Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
Turkey Rasat TÜBİTAK Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
Italy EduSAT GAUSS Srl Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
Canada AprizeSat-5 exactEarth Low Earth (SSO) Communications In orbit Operational
Canada AprizeSat-6 exactEarth Low Earth (SSO) Communications In orbit Operational
Ukraine BPA-2 Hartron-Arkos Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Successful
17 August
21:25[51]
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 Russia Khrunichev
Russia Ekspress AM-4 RSCC Intended: Geosynchronous
Achieved: GTO
Communications 25 March 2012 Launch failure
Briz-M upper stage failed before the planned fourth burn. An insufficient time slot was allocated for re-setting the gyroscopes of the upper stage control system before launch, which led to loss of adequate attitude control in flight.[50]
18 August
09:28[53]
China Long March 2C China Jiuquan SLS-2 China CNSA
China Shijian XI-04 CNSA Intended: Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration 18 August Launch failure
Failed to reach orbit. Second stage's vernier engine support structure failed in flight, led to loss of attitude control.[52]
24 August
13:00[55]
Russia Soyuz-U Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Progress M-12M / 44P Roscosmos Intended: Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 24 August Launch failure
Third stage engine failure 325 seconds after launch due to the gas generator fuel supply pipeline being blocked by contaminants.[54]

September

10 September
13:08:52[56]
United States Delta II 7920H United States Cape Canaveral SLC-17B United States United Launch Alliance
United States GRAIL-A (Ebb) NASA Selenocentric Lunar orbiter 17 December 2012
22:28:51[57]
Successful
United States GRAIL-B (Flow) NASA Selenocentric Lunar orbiter 17 December 2012
22:29:21[57]
Successful
Final launch of Delta II Heavy, final Delta II launch from Cape Canaveral, and last launch from SLC-17.
18 September
16:33[58]
China Long March 3B/E China Xichang LC-2 China CNSA
China Chinasat-1A China Satcom Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
20 September
22:47
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 81/24 Russia Khrunichev
Russia Kosmos 2473 (Garpun #1) VKS Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
21 September
21:38
Europe Ariane 5 ECA France Kourou ELA-3 France Arianespace
Saudi Arabia Arabsat 5C Arabsat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
Netherlands SES-2 SES S.A. Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
23 September
04:36:50
Japan H-IIA Japan Tanegashima LA-Y1 Japan MHI
Japan IGS Optical 4 CSICE Low Earth (SSO) Reconnaissance In orbit Successful[59]
24 September
20:18
Ukraine Zenit-3SL Norway Ocean Odyssey United Nations Sea Launch
United States Atlantic Bird 7 Eutelsat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
27 September
15:49
United States Minotaur IV+ United States Kodiak LP-1 United States Orbital Sciences
United States TacSat-4 U.S. Air Force Highly elliptical Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
29 September
13:16:03[60]
China Long March 2F/G China Jiuquan SLS-1 China CNSA
China Tiangong-1 CNSA Low Earth Space station 2 April 2018
00:16[61]
Successful
Maiden flight of Long March 2F/G, first Chinese space station.
29 September
18:32[62]
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 Russia United States International Launch Services
Isle of Man QuetzSat 1 SES Satellite Leasing Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
Intended for lease to QuetzSat.

October

2 October
20:15
Russia Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Russia Plesetsk Site 43/4 Russia RVSN RF
Russia Kosmos 2474 (Glonass-M 742) VKS Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Operational
5 October
21:00
Ukraine Zenit-3SLB Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 45/1 United Nations Land Launch
United Nations Intelsat 18 Intelsat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
7 October
08:21
China Long March 3B/E China Xichang LC-2 China CNSA
France Eutelsat W3C Eutelsat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
12 October
05:31
India PSLV-CA India Satish Dhawan FLP India ISRO
India France Megha-Tropiques[63] ISRO / CNES Low Earth Climatology In orbit Operational
India SRMSAT SRM Low Earth Climatology In orbit Operational
India Jugnu IITK Low Earth Earth observation In orbit Operational
Luxembourg VesselSat-1 Luxspace Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
19 October
18:48
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 Russia United States International Launch Services
Isle of Man ViaSat-1 ViaSat-IOM / ManSat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
21 October[64][65]
10:30
Russia Soyuz ST-B / Fregat-MT France Kourou ELS France Arianespace
European Union Galileo IOV 1 ESA Medium Earth Navigation / Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
European Union Galileo IOV 2 ESA Medium Earth Navigation / Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
First Soyuz launch from Kourou.
28 October
09:48:01
United States Delta II 7920-10 United States Vandenberg SLC-2W United States United Launch Alliance
United States NPP NASA / NOAA Low Earth Meteorology In orbit Operational
United States E1P-U2 Montana State Low Earth Radiation In orbit Operational
United States RAX-2 University of Michigan Low Earth Auroral In orbit Operational
United States M-Cubed University of Michigan Low Earth Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
United States DICE-1 Space Dynamics Laboratory Low Earth Magnetospheric research In orbit Operational
United States DICE-2 Space Dynamics Laboratory Low Earth Magnetospheric research In orbit Operational
United States AubieSat 1 Auburn University Low Earth Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
30 October
10:11
Russia Soyuz-U Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Progress M-13M / 45P Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) ISS logistics 25 January 2012 Successful
Russia Chibis-M (RS-39) IKI Low Earth Ionospheric research 15 October 2014 Successful
31 October
21:58:10
China Long March 2F China Jiuquan SLS-1 China CNSA
China Shenzhou 8 CNSA Low Earth (Tiangong-1) Technology demonstration 17 November
11:36
Successful
China Shenzhou-8-GC CNSA Low Earth (Tiangong-1) Technology demonstration 2 April 2012 Successful
Uncrewed flight, first Chinese orbital docking.

November

4 November
12:51:41[66]
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 81/24 Russia Khrunichev
Russia Kosmos 2475 (Glonass-M 743) VKS Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Operational
Russia Kosmos 2476 (Glonass-M 744) VKS Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Operational
Russia Kosmos 2477 (Glonass-M 745) VKS Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Operational
8 November
20:16
Ukraine Zenit-2M Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 45/1 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Fobos-Grunt Roscosmos Intended: Areocentric
Achieved: Low Earth
Phobos sample return 15 January 2012 Spacecraft failure
China Yinghuo-1 CNSA Intended: Areocentric
Achieved: Low Earth
Mars orbiter
First Russian attempt at an interplanetary mission since 1996.[67]
First Chinese Mars probe
Spacecraft stranded in low Earth orbit, as telemetry was lost soon after launch and the two trans-Martian injection burns by the payload did not take place[68]
9 November
03:21[69]
China Long March 4B China Taiyuan LC-2 China CNSA
China Yaogan 12 CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Reconnaissance In orbit Operational
China Tian Xun 1 Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration 7 February 2016[70] Successful
14 November
04:14[71]
Russia Soyuz-FG Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Soyuz TMA-22 Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) Expedition 29/30 27 April 2012 Successful
20 November
00:15[72]
China Long March 2D China Jiuquan SLS-2 China CNSA
China Shiyan Weixing 4 CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
China Chuang Xin 1C CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Technology demonstration In orbit Operational
25 November
19:10:34
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 Russia United States International Launch Services
China AsiaSat 7 AsiaSat Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
26 November
15:02
United States Atlas V 541 United States Cape Canaveral SLC-41 United States United Launch Alliance
United States Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) NASA TMI to Martian Surface Mars rover 6 August 2012
05:18
Successful[2]
Maiden flight of Atlas V 541, largest Mars rover yet launched.
28 November
08:25:57
Russia Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Russia Plesetsk Site 43/4 Russia RVSN RF
Russia Kosmos 2478 (Glonass-M 746) VKS Medium Earth Navigation In orbit Operational
29 November
18:50[73]
China Long March 2C China Taiyuan LC-2 China CNSA
China Yaogan 13 CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Reconnaissance In orbit Operational

December

1 December
21:07[74]
China Long March 3A China Xichang LC-3 China CNSA
China Compass-IGSO5 CNSA IGSO Navigation In orbit Operational
11 December
11:17
Russia Proton-M / Briz-M Enhanced Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 81/24 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Luch 5A Gonets Satellite System Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
Israel Amos-5 SCL Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
12 December
01:21
Japan H-IIA Japan Tanegashima LA-Y1 Japan MHI
Japan IGS Radar 3 CSICE Low Earth (SSO) Reconnaissance (radar) In orbit Operational
17 December
02:03:08
Russia Soyuz ST-A / Fregat France Kourou ELS France Arianespace
France Pléiades-HR 1A CNES Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
Chile FASat-Charlie (SSOT) MDN Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
France ELISA 1 CNES / DGA Low Earth (SSO) ELINT In orbit Operational
France ELISA 2 CNES / DGA Low Earth (SSO) ELINT In orbit Operational
France ELISA 3 CNES / DGA Low Earth (SSO) ELINT In orbit Operational
France ELISA 4 CNES / DGA Low Earth (SSO) ELINT In orbit Operational
19 December
16:41[75]
China Long March 3B/E China Xichang LC-2 China CNSA
Nigeria NigComSat-1R NIGCOMSAT / NASRDA Geosynchronous Communications In orbit Operational
21 December
13:16
Russia Soyuz-FG Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Soyuz TMA-03M Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) Expedition 30/31 1 July 2012
08:14[76]
Successful
22 December
03:26
China Long March 4B China Taiyuan LC-2 China CNSA
China Ziyuan 1-02C CNSA Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation In orbit Operational
23 December
12:08
Russia Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Russia Plesetsk Site 43/4 Russia VKO
Russia Meridian 5 VKO Intended: Molniya Communications 23 December Launch failure
Third stage engine malfunctioned 421 seconds after launch, failed to reach orbit; first launch conducted by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces
28 December
17:09
Russia Soyuz-2.1a / Fregat Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 31/6 Europe Russia Starsem
United States Globalstar M080 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M082 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M084 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M086 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M090 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational
United States Globalstar M092 Globalstar Low Earth Communications In orbit Operational

Suborbital flights

Deep space rendezvous

Date (UTC) Spacecraft Event Remarks
9 January Mars Express Flyby of Phobos Closest approach: 100 kilometres (62 mi). Mars Express made a total of 8 flybys of Phobos at a distance of less than 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) between 20 December and 16 January.
9 January Artemis P1 Spacecraft left LL2 orbit and joined Artemis P2 in LL1 orbit
11 January Cassini 3rd flyby of Rhea Closest approach: 76 kilometres (47 mi)[94]
15 February Stardust (NExT) Flyby of Tempel 1 Closest approach: 181 kilometres (112 mi). Observed changes since Deep Impact flyby and imaged crater created by Deep Impact impactor, as well as new terrain.
18 February Cassini 74th flyby of Titan Closest approach: 3,651 kilometres (2,269 mi)
18 March MESSENGER Hermocentric orbit injection First artificial satellite of Mercury; elliptical orbit with a periapsis of 200 kilometers (120 mi) and an apoapsis of 15,000 km (9,300 mi).[95]
19 April Cassini 75th flyby of Titan Closest approach: 10,053 kilometres (6,247 mi)
8 May Cassini 76th flyby of Titan Closest approach: 1,873 kilometres (1,164 mi)
8 June Chang'e 2 Departed lunar orbit Travelled to L2 Lagrangian point, which it reached in August 2011.[96]
20 June Cassini 77th flyby of Titan Closest approach: 1,359 kilometres (844 mi)
27 June Artemis P1 Lunar orbit insertion Initial orbital parameters were: apogee 3,543 kilometres (2,202 mi), perigee 27,000 kilometres (17,000 mi). Over the following three months, the orbit was lowered to an apogee of 97 kilometres (60 mi) and a perigee of 18,000 kilometres (11,000 mi), with an inclination of 20 degrees; retrograde orbit.
16 July Dawn Vestiocentric orbit injection First artificial satellite of 4 Vesta.[97] Initial orbit was 16,000 kilometres (9,900 mi) high and was reduced to 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mi) until 11 August.
17 July Artemis P2 Lunar orbit insertion Initial orbital parameters were similar to Artemis P1. Over the following three months the orbit was lowered to an apogee of 97 kilometres (60 mi) and a perigee of 18,000 kilometres (11,000 mi), with an inclination of 20 degrees; prograde orbit.
25 August Cassini Second-closest flyby of Hyperion[98] Closest approach: 25,000 kilometres (16,000 mi)
12 September Cassini 78th flyby of Titan Closest approach: 5,821 kilometres (3,617 mi)
16 September Cassini Flyby of Hyperion Closest approach: 58,000 kilometres (36,000 mi)
1 October Cassini 14th flyby of Enceladus Closest approach: 99 kilometres (62 mi)
19 October Cassini 15th flyby of Enceladus Closest approach: 1,231 kilometres (765 mi)
6 November Cassini 16th flyby of Enceladus Closest approach: 496 kilometres (308 mi)
12 December Cassini 3rd flyby of Dione Closest approach: 99 kilometres (62 mi)
13 December Cassini 79th flyby of Titan Closest approach: 3,586 kilometres (2,228 mi)
31 December GRAIL-A Lunar orbit insertion Twin satellite Grail-B's insertion occurred a day later, on 1 January 2012.

EVAs

Start Date/Time Duration End Time Spacecraft Crew Remarks
21 January
10:05
5 hours
23 minutes
15:49 Expedition 26
ISS Pirs
Russia Dmitri Kondratyev
Russia Oleg Skripochka
Prepared the ISS Poisk module for future dockings.[99]
16 February
13:15
6 hours
23 minutes
18:15 Expedition 26
ISS Pirs
Russia Dmitri Kondratyev
Russia Oleg Skripochka
Installed a radio antenna, deployed a nanosatellite, installed two experiments and retrieved two exposure panels on a third experiment.
28 February
15:46
6 hours
34 minutes
22:20 STS-133
ISS Quest
United States Stephen Bowen
United States Alvin Drew
Removed a failed coolant pump and routed a power extension cable.
2 March
15:41
6 hours
14 minutes
21:55 STS-133
ISS Quest
United States Stephen Bowen
United States Alvin Drew
Removed or repaired thermal insulation, swapped out an attachment bracket on the Columbus module, installed a camera assembly on Dextre and installed a light on a cargo cart.
20 May
07:10
6 hours
19 minutes
13:29 STS-134
ISS Quest
United States Andrew Feustel
United States Gregory Chamitoff
Completed installation of a new set of MISSE experiments, started installing a new wireless video system, installed an ammonia jumper, a new light on the CETA cart on the S3 truss segment, and a cover on the starboard SARJ.
22 May
06:05
8 hours
07 minutes
14:12 STS-134
ISS Quest
United States Andrew Feustel
United States Michael Fincke
Hooked up a jumper to transfer ammonia to the Port 6 PVTCS, lubricated the SARJ and one of the "hands" on Dextre, and installed a stowage beam on the S1 truss.
25 May
05:43
6 hours
54 minutes
12:37 STS-134
ISS Quest
United States Andrew Feustel
United States Michael Fincke
Installed PDGF (except for data cable), routed power cables from Unity to Zarya, finished installation of wireless video system, took pictures of Zarya's thrusters and captured infrared video of an experiment in ELC 3.
27 May
04:15
7 hours
24 minutes
11:39 STS-134
ISS Quest
United States Gregory Chamitoff
United States Mike Fincke
Installed OBSS on S1 truss, removed the EFGF and replaced it with a spare PDGF, and released some torque on the bolts that were holding the spare arm for Dextre down against ELC 3. Final shuttle spacewalk.[100]
12 July
13:22
6 hours
31 minutes
19:53 Expedition 28
ISS Quest
United States Ronald Garan
United States Michael Fossum
Moved a failed cooling pump from the station to the shuttle Atlantis, transferred a robotic refuelling apparatus from the shuttle to the ISS, installed a materials science experiment on the station's truss, serviced a robot arm attachment fitting, installed a thermal cover over the unused docking port PMA-3, and fixed a protruding wire on a grapple fixture on the Zarya module.
3 August
14:51
6 hours
22 minutes
21:22 Expedition 28
ISS Pirs
Russia Sergei Volkov
Russia Aleksandr Samokutyayev
Launched Kedr satellite, installed BIORISK experiment outside Pirs, and installed laser communication equipment to transmit scientific data from the Russian Orbital Segment.

Orbital launch statistics

By country

For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of orbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. For example, Soyuz launches by Arianespace in Kourou are counted under Russia because Soyuz-2 is a Russian rocket.

China: 19Europe: 5India: 3Iran: 1Japan: 3Russia: 29Ukraine: 6USA: 18Circle frame.svg
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
Remarks
 China 19 18 1 0
 Europe 5 5 0 0
 India 3 3 0 0
 Iran 1 1 0 0
 Japan 3 3 0 0
 Russia 29 25 4 0 Includes 2 Soyuz launches from Kourou.
Fobos-Grunt launched successfully, but failed while on its parking orbit.[101]
 Ukraine 6 6 0 0 Includes 1 Zenit from Sea Launch and 1 from Land Launch.
 United States 18 17 1 0
World 84 78 6 0

By rocket

By family

By type

By configuration

By spaceport

5
10
15
20
25
30
China
France
India
International waters
Iran
Japan
Kazakhstan
Russia
United States
Site Country Launches Successes Failures Partial failures Remarks
Baikonur  Kazakhstan 25 23 2 0
Cape Canaveral  United States 7 7 0 0
Dombarovsky  Russia 1 1 0 0
Kourou  France 7 7 0 0
Jiuquan  China 6 5 1 0
Kennedy Space Center  United States 3 3 0 0
Kodiak  United States 1 1 0 0
MARS  United States 1 1 0 0
Ocean Odyssey United Nations International waters 1 1 0 0
Plesetsk  Russia 6 4 2 0
Satish Dhawan  India 3 3 0 0
Semnan  Iran 1 1 0 0
Tanegashima  Japan 3 3 0 0
Taiyuan  China 4 4 0 0
Vandenberg  United States 6 5 1 0
Xichang  China 9 9 0 0
Total 84 78 6 0

By orbit

  •   Transatmospheric
  •   Low Earth
  •   Low Earth (ISS)
  •   Low Earth (SSO)
  •   Low Earth (retrograde)
  •   Medium Earth
  •   Geosychronous
    (transfer)
  •   Inclined GSO
  •   High Earth
  •   Heliocentric
Orbital regime Launches Successes Failures Accidentally
achieved
Remarks
Transatmospheric 0 0 0 0
Low Earth 44 40 4 0 14 to ISS, 1 to Tiangong-1
Medium Earth / Molniya 8 7 1 0
Geosynchronous / GTO 27 26 1 1
High Earth / Lunar transfer 3 3 0 0
Heliocentric / Planetary transfer 2 2 0 0
Total 84 78 6 1

See also

References

Generic references:
RocketSunIcon.svg Spaceflight portal
  • Bergin, Chris. "NASASpaceFlight.com".
  • Clark, Stephen. "Spaceflight Now".
  • Kelso, T.S. "Satellite Catalog (SATCAT)". CelesTrak.
  • Krebs, Gunter. "Chronology of Space Launches".
  • Kyle, Ed. "Space Launch Report".
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "Jonathan's Space Report".
  • Pietrobon, Steven. "Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive".
  • Wade, Mark. "Encyclopedia Astronautica".
  • Webb, Brian. "Southwest Space Archive".
  • Zak, Anatoly. "Russian Space Web".
  • "ISS Calendar". Spaceflight 101.
  • "NSSDCA Master Catalog". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • "Space Calendar". NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • "Space Information Center". JAXA.
  • "Хроника освоения космоса" [Chronicle of space exploration]. CosmoWorld (in Russian).

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