Tag Archives: spacecraft landing video

Launch/Landing Recap — plus SpaceX and Electron status

I’m still way too busy to post every day, so in penance, here’s the last month worth of things going up and things coming back down! The vast majority of these are Chinese — they’ve been extremely busy lately!

On November 14, a Long March 4C blasted off out of Taiyuan, China with the Fengyun 3D weather satellite on board.

Then on November 18, the penultimate Delta II launched.  I already posted a link to a full-length video, so now here’s ULA’s traditional launch highlights video:

On November 20, a Long March 6 blasted off from Taiyuan, China with the Jilin 1 set of Earth observation microsatellites.  These are commercial satellites offering real-time video of the Earth, so I chose this launch video because although it doesn’t show very much of the launch, it does include some of the first images returned by the three spacecraft:

Four days later, China launched another rocket, a Long March 2C out of Xichang, with the Yaogan 30-02 photo reconnaissance cluster of three spacecraft:

On November 28, the Vostochny Cosmodrome finally hosted its second flight, a Soyuz 2-1b carrying the Meteor M2-1 weather satellite and a collection of smaller payloads.  Unfortunately, in another bit of bad news for the cosmodrome (and through circumstances beyond their control), the launch was a failure.  The Fregat upper stage was programmed incorrectly, leading to a failure to insert into orbit.  The spacecraft are believed to be somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

On December 2, however, the Soyuz 2-1b had a chance to redeem itself, succesfully placing the Lotos-S1 spacecraft, believed to be an electronic intelligent satellite, into orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome.  This was the first launch of this Soyuz variant from Plesetsk:

And then later the same day, a Long March 2D placed the Yaogan Weixing/LKW-1 Earth observation satellite into orbit from Jiuquan, China:

On December 10, China followed that up with a Long March 3B out of Xichang, placing Alcomsat 1 into orbit.  Alcomsat is a commercial geosynchronous commsat for the nation of Algeria:

And on December 12, an Ariane 5 carried the next four Galileo satellites, (spacecraft 19-22) into orbit from Kourou, French Guiana:

And the last launch on this list isn’t an orbital one: it’s another suborbital (and, technically, just barely sub-space) flight of the fully reusable New Shepherd rocket with the new version of their capsule, with super large windows:

They also, for the fist time, had a simulated passenger on board: a crash test dummy nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker.  Here’s his view:

Lastly, one more thing coming back down: the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft, following a successful six-month stay at the International Space Station, carrying Sergey Ryanzanskiy, Randy Bresnik, and Paolo Nespoli:

There were two other launches scheduled this week.  The first, Rocket Lab’s second attempt to test fly their Electron small rocket out of New Zealand, was aborted seconds after main engine start a few days ago.  Last I heard, they were trying for a launch today, but I have not yet heard if they flew.  (Which I think means they have not attempted another launch yet.)

The second is SpaceX’s latest CRS flight to the International Space Station, and the first where NASA has permitted the use of a reused first stage on the rocket.  Also, the return to flight for SLC-40 after the catastrophic loss of a Falcon 9 and Dragon there about a year ago.  They had a successful test fire, but technical concerns have delayed the launch.  It’s currently set for late Friday morning.  If they miss that launch time, however, they may have to stand down for a while.  The next crewed Soyuz is scheduled to launch on Sunday, and after that the thermal environment will be unfavorable for docking due to the sun angle.  Next attempt would likely be no earlier than Christmas Day.


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Peggy Whitson has set a new record!

With the return of Soyuz MS-04, Peggy Whitson has established a new record — at 665 days, the most cumulative spaceflight hours for any woman on Earth, and also for any American.  Globally, she stands at #8 for cumulative spaceflight time.  She is also the only woman to have commanded the ISS twice, and also holds the female record for number of EVAs (ten, with a cumulative time of 60 hours, 21 minutes — there are only two men ahead of her in the overall records, Anatoly Solovyev and Michael Lopez-Alegria, with the caveat that record-holder Solovyev’s 16 EVAs does include two internal spacewalks aboard Mir).

Whitson returned in good health, as did her two crewmates, Soyuz commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineer Jack Fischer.  There’s gorgeous video of the final descent:

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Soyuz MS-01 returns after four months in space

The international crew of Soyuz MS-01 have returned to Earth!  Anatoly Ivanishin, Takuya Onishi, and Kate Rubins landed in Kazakhstan today.  The lighting was phenomenal, and this is I think the clearest image I’ve ever seen of a Soyuz landing.  You can see all the parachute lines and everything.


And the video is really good too.  Watch right at the very beginning as you see puffs from the pyrotechnics firing to jettison the heat shield:

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Going Up and Coming Down: Ariane V’s heaviest load, and Soyuz TMA-19M Returns

Two big spaceflight events today.  😉  Ariane V blasted off from Kourou in French Guiana, carrying EchoStar 18 andBRISat.  Combined, they represented the heaviest payload ever launched by the mighty Ariane V.  EchoStar 15 will serve DISH television customers in the United States, while BRISat will provide secure satellite communication links for financial transactions in Indonesia, a nation distributed across many islands and therefore heavily dependent on radio communications.

And on the other side of the planet, Soyuz TMA-19M descended to the plains of Kazakhstan.  The descent was nominal.  The three crew are in good health: Yuri Malenchenko (Ukrainian, flying for Russia), Tim Kopra (United States) and Tim Peake (United Kingdom, flying for ESA).  It’s kind of a noisy replay; I assume that’s noise from the recovery helicopter that is carrying the camera.  You can jump to 5:20 if you want to see the soft landing thrusters fire.

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Falcon 9 launch and landing videos!

This is so cool.  😉  Here’s the full webcast, as it ran live, including all the massive geeking out and pure unadulterated joy when it nails the landing:

Stunning closeup video of the landing from a helicopter:

And lastly, dawn rises on the spent Falcon 9 first stage, as a crane is attached to prepare to move it back to SLC-40 (presumably) for a ground test firing to prove that it has endured the flight and return.  This stage is not expected to actually fly again; I would expect it will be subjected to destructive testing to look for signs of stress fatigue instead.

And then there’s this awesome timelapse photo released by SpaceX, taken from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building.  The long streak is the launch track.  The short streak up high is the reentry burn.  The short streak that goes to the ground is the landing burn.  Pretty cool.  😉


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OUCH! Full high-quality video of Falcon 9 first stage landing attempt

This is taken from an aircraft watching the landing from a safe distance.  It goes all the way to where the rocket tips over and goes splat.  It disappears into the clouds of steam it has kicked up, and then KABOOM!  Certainly a dramatic way to end a mission.  Hopefully the next one is better.  😉  They seem to be learning from each flight — this one appears to be better targeted than the last one was.  In a few days, the barge will return to port with whatever debris is still on it and they’ll be able to recover video from there.  Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, the CRS-6 Dragon is in good health and on track for capture and berthing at the ISS on Friday.

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Soyuz TMA-12M is back on Earth!

It touched down on the steppes of Kazakhstan last Wednesday, returning Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Artemyev, and outgoing ISS Expedition 40 commander Steven Swanson to the Earth after a six-month increment aboard the ISS.

They left ISS in the command of Expedition 41 commander Maxim Suraev, Reid Wiseman, and Alexander Gerst.  They’ll be joined in a few weeks by Alexander Samokutyaev, Barry “Butch” Wilmore, and Elena Serova, who will be Russia’s first female cosmonaut in a very long time, and the first to make a long-duration spaceflight.

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