The Russians announced that they plan nine more Proton rocket launches in 2013, for a total of twelve.


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The competition heats up: The Russians announced today that they plan nine more Proton rocket launches in 2013, for a total of twelve.

I note this to give some context to what SpaceX will do with Falcon 9 this year. SpaceX has just updated its launch manifest schedule, and if the American company does what it says, it should have at least six more Falcon 9 flights this year, for a total of seven.

Should these predicted launches all take place, it will clearly demonstrate that SpaceX has grabbed a significant share of the launch market, but that the Russians are also holding their own.

Note also that the updated launch manifest still includes the first test flight of Falcon Heavy in 2013. Very interesting.

Update: The Russians are also preparing to launch their new Angara rocket family, which will replace their older rockets and allow them to launch from their new spaceport.

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  • Dick Eagleson

    Interesting indeed. The from-all-sources orbital/BEO launch schedule at spaceflightnow.com shows only three Protons scheduled between now and July 19, but nothing for the rest of this year. I’ll be looking for more entries/info to appear there – or not – about the remaining six putative Proton launches.

    As for SpaceX, I’d be delighted if they got seven F9’s and the FH off the ground this year. But I’m dubious. The spaceflightnow.com schedule has proven fairly accurate and shows the same five F9 missions upcoming for 2013 that have been there for awhile: the high-inclination CASSIOPE mission out of Vandenberg in July, then two geosync comsats, a multi-satellite launch of the LEO Orbcomm comsats and the third ISS resupply mission slated for Veteran’s Day, all out of Canaveral. The new SpaceX manifest shows the fourth ISS resupply mission as scheduled this year too. That’s new. But I seem to recall that the FH test launch has been showing a 2013 date on the SpaceX manifest for a long time now. It’s not on spaceflightnow.com’s list, though, and neither is the CRS-4 mission.

    I’d be, frankly, more inclined to think the FH might get off this year than that CRS-4 will. FH is going up out of Vandenberg and that’s a lot less busy a place than Canaveral. Plus, there are no ISS coordination issues involved.

    With the first Orbital Antares/Cygnus mission to ISS having been delayed until September, which spaceflightnow.com’s schedule has been updated to show, even getting CRS-3 up later this year looks iffy now because of docking port congestion on the ISS. The Dragons only stay about a month before returning, but I believe the Cygnus is supposed to hang around longer than that. Maybe if CRS-3 was moved up to next month, CRS-4 could be done in CRS-3’s current slot late in the year. Hard to see how the ISS juggles all that resupply traffic otherwise.

    Once again, though, I’d be absolutely delighted to be wrong about this.

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