On Sunday we saw the launch of a Proton with a Breeze M upper stage out of Kazakhstan carrying Inmarsat 5 -F1 to orbit. Inmarsat 5 - F1 is part of Inmarsat's Global Xpress that plans to increase connectivity speed to users on the move on land, in boats and on planes. The satellite has 89 fixed and steerable Ka-band beams, switching from L-band to Ka-band to improve downlink speeds. The NORAD catalog (or SSC) number for Inmarsat 5-F1 is 39476.
On Monday, China launched a Long March 4B out of the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, carrying a cooperative (China-Brazil) remote-sensing satellite, CBERS 3. Unfortunately the Long March 4B ran into a problem with the 3rd stage and China isn't disclosing exactly what happened with the vehicle. The Brazilians have claimed that the satellite was inserted into a much lower orbit and they had established some communications with it before it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. This marks the first launch failure in 20 missions for the Long March 4B going back to 1999. It was also the 14th launch for China in 2013.
Next week, an Antares rocket is scheduled to lift off from Wallops Flight Center at 9:42 p.m. EST with a Cygnus cargo freighter heading for the International Space Station. A problem with a valve on a coolant pump on the ISS may force the launch to be postponed. NASA is working to resolve the issue and will make the decision once they know more about their options for fixing the valve (which may require a space walk). If you want to know more about the Cygnus/ISS docking, we have a great interactive simulation available at www.agi.com/space-events
. Also, if you are on the East Coast and you want to know if you can see the Cygnus launch, Orbital has a great viewing opportunities map
On Thursday, December 19, an Arianespace Soyuz is scheduled to launch from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 4:12 a.m. ET. The Soyuz will be carrying Gaia which is on a mission to create a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way.
Finally on Friday, December 20, a Long March 3B is slated to launch out of Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China, carrying a Bolivian communication satellite, TKSat 1 (or Tupac Katari).