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2021 Orbital Launches (COSPAR quick reference)

Work In Progress

The USA keeps track of objects launched into orbit with a NSSDCA/COSPAR/International Designator, which lists the year, launch number of that year, and an alphabetical suffix to distinguish multiple objects from that same launch.
Ex: 2021-001A for the first launch payload of 2021, a Türksat satellite.

To get a sense of how many and what kind of launches occur each year, I am keeping a list of 2021’s launches as counted by COSPAR numbering; you can find this kind of information on Gunter’s Space Page for 2021, by searching launch dates in NASA’s NSSDCA Master Catalog, Everyday Astronaut’s Post-launch Review list, and in UN OOSA’s index/registry; but I want to have a more concise list, with links to additional information like official launch videos and possibly payload news articles. I am trying to strike a balance of being comprehensive while keeping rows only one-line height if possible.

If you are looking for technical orbital information, the NSSDCA page is probably your best bet: click on the COSPAR letter in the Payload/Object section (it should be in parenthesis). Payload objects using non-COSPAR ids will be numbered instead, since the NSSDCA id would be too long.
Ex: “blah (A), normal ×2 (B,C), non-COSPAR item (1)”

2021 Launches

Launch MM-DD Vehicle Payload/Objects Links: DBs, videos, articles
2021-001 01-08 Falcon 9 Türksat 5A (A), SpaceX, EdayAstr, GunterSP, WP
2021-002 01-17 747→L1 LauncherOne test:: CubeSats: ELaNa-20 (A,B,C,F,L,1) & Prometheus-2 (E,N) NASA:blog, EdayAstr
2021-003 01-19 LMarch 3B Tiantong-1 3 (A) EdayAstr, GunterSP
2021-004 01-20 Electron KS GMS-T (A) EdayAstr, GunterSP
2021-005 01-20 Falcon 9 Starlink 16 (A-BM) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-006 01-24 Falcon 9 Transporter 1:: Starlink, CubeSats: SpaceBEE, Flock, et al. (too many IDs, MC search results) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-007 01-29 LMarch 4C Yaogan 31 D, E, & F (A,B,E) EdayAstr
2021-008 02-02 Soyuz-2.1b Cosmos 2549 (A) EdayAstr
2021-009 02-04 Falcon 9 Starlink 18 (A-BM) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-010 02-04 LMarch 3B TJS 6 (A) EdayAstr, nSFc
2021-011 02-15 Soyuz-2.1a ISS:: Progress MS-16 (A) EdayAstr
2021-012 02-16 Falcon 9 Starlink 19 (A,B,D-H…) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-013 02-20 Antares ISS:: Cygnus NG-15 (A) EdayAstr
2021-014 02-24 LMarch 4C Yaogan 31 G, H, & J (A,C,E) EdayAstr
2021-015 02-28 PSLV-DL Amazonia 1 (A), CubeSats: NanoConnect 2 (C), SpaceBEE (E-N,R,S) EdayAstr
2021-016 02-28 Soyuz Fre. Arktika-M1 (A) EdayAstr
2021-017 03-04 Falcon 9 Starlink 17 (A…) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-018 03-11 Falcon 9 Starlink 20(A…) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-019 03-11 LMarch 7A Shiyan 9 (A) XJY 6-02 EdayAstr, unof.:videoYT
2021-020 03-13 LMarch 4C Yaogan 31 K, L, & M (A,C,D) EdayAstr, GunterSP
2021-021 03-14 Falcon 9 Starlink 21 (A…) EdayAstr
2021-022 03-22 Soyuz Fre. CAS500-1 (A), CubeSats () EdayAstr, KARI:videoYT, GunterSP:CAS500
2021-023 03-22 Electron P. CubeSats (B,G) RocLab:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-024 03-24 Falcon 9 Starlink 22 (A…) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-025 03-25 Soyuz Fre. OneWeb-5 (A-AM) EdayAstr
2021-026 03-30 LMarch 4C Gaofen 12 (A) EdayAstr
2021-027 04-07 Falcon 9 Starlink 23 (A…) SpaceX, SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr
2021-028 04-08 LMarch 4B Shiyan 6-03 (A) EdayAstr
2021-029 04-09 Soyuz-2.1a ISS:: Soyuz MS-18 (A) EdayAstr
2021-030 04-23 Falcon 9 ISS:: Crew-2 EdayAstr
2021-031 04-25 Soyuz Fre Oneweb 6 EdayAstr
2021-032 04-26 Delta 4H NROL 82:: KH-11? EdayAstr
2021-033 04-27 LMarch 6 Cubesats? EdayAstr
2021-034 04-29 Vega Cubesats EdayAstr
2021-035 04-29 LMarch 5B Tianhe EdayAstr
2021-036 04-29 Falcon 9 Starlink 24 SpaceX, , EdayAstr
2021-037 04-30 Yaogan 34
2021-038? 05-04 Falcon 9 Starlink 25 SpaceX:videoYT, EdayAstr


GunterSP - Gunter’s Space Page
WP - Wikipedia
nSFc Nasa Spaceflight .com - not part of or directly affiliated with NASA
EdayAstr - Everyday Astronaut
747→L1 - LauncherOne, which is air-launched from a 747
LMarch - Long March also called Chang Zheng
RocLab - RocketLab
Electron P. - Electron Photon
unof. - unofficial
Soyuz Fre. - Soyuz Fregat

Non-COSPAR entries in NSSDCA Master Catalog

checked 2021-04-13

2021-01-17 Q-PACE
2021-09-01 CAPSTONE
2021-10-01 LUNA-25
2021-10-11 IM-1-NOVA
2021-10-16 LUCY
2021-11-01 CISLUNEXP
2021-11-01 EQUULEUS
2021-11-01 LUNAH-MAP
2021-11-01 L-FLASHLT
2021-11-01 L-ICECUBE
2021-11-01 LUNIR
2021-11-01 NEA-SCOUT
2021-11-01 OMOTENASH
2021-11-24 DART

Possible confusing things to keep in mind:

  • PRC Long March rockets have are sometimes referred to by the translated name Long March _ (LM-) or by the merely romanised/transliterated name Chang Zheng _ (CZ-) so be aware that is the same rocket if someone is using the names or acronyms inconsistently.
  • COSPAR IDs skip over the letters I and O; to quote the reply I received from NASA:

    To answer your question regarding the COSPAR ID, I was told that both “I” and “O” are skipped because they could potentially be confused with “1” and “0”. This was at a time when only uppercase letters were used on computers.

Launch Curiosities

The PRC’s “XJY 6-02” mission appears to be confused with “Shiyan 9”.

  • NASA lists 2021-019A as Shiyan9/47851/Tansuo9
  • GunterSP now describes 2021-019 as Shiyan 9 (SY 9 , Experiment 9) or Tansuo 9 (TS 9); though I think it previously listed it as XJY 6-02, which now has a separate entry due to launch at a completely unknown time this year (see TBD section on 2021 launches page).
  • EdayAstr seems to be describing the 2021-019 launch when it writes about XJY 6-02 launching on 2021-03-11

The LauncherOne test launch (2021-002) appears to contain multiple payloads without COSPAR ids, or any entry in NASA’s Master Catalog.

As of 2021-03-24: A search for the launch date in NASA’s Master Catalog shows 7 COSPAR entries and only 1 non-COSPAR entry, Q-PACE. However, Gunter’s Space Page lists a total of 12 payloads; from the NASA blog we know that ELaNa 20 consists of 10 payloads for nine missions (PICS consists of two CubeSats), and the 2 remaining CubeSats of the 12 are USA’s defence department’s Prometheus Block 2 experimental communication satellites.

NSSDCA: Num Name GunterSP: Payload
2021-002A 47309 CAPE 3 CAPE 3
2021-002B 47310 PolarCube PolarCube
2021-002C 47311 AO 109 or RadFxSat 2, Fox 1E, or Evolution RadFxSat 2 (Fox 1E, Evolution, AO 109, AMSAT-OSCAR 109)
2021-002E 47313 Prometheus 2-11 Prometheus 2.11
2021-002F 47314 MiTEE MiTEE 1
2021-002L 47319 ExoCube 2 ExoCube 2
2021-002N 47345 Prometheus 2-8 Prometheus 2.8
TechEdSat 7 (TES 7)

So it looks like 4 of 12 of the 2021-002 launch payloads are missing from the NASA Master Catalog, and one more (Q-PACE) is not being tracked?

Note that the alphabetical counter in the COSPAR IDs seems to skip over six possible letters (D, G, H, J, K, & M) between 2021-002A and 2021-002N, which is greater than the four payloads missing from NASA’s Master Catalog. Remember that letter I is not used in COSPAR IDs.

For launch 2021-023 we again have several satellites missing from the NASA Master Catalog,

NSSDCA: Num Name EdayAstr: Payload
2021-023B 47966 Tyvak 0210 (Centauri 3) 2021-023B Centauri 3
2021-023G 47971 Global 9 BlackSky Global Series
Myriota 7
Veery Hatchling

Any chance of a Starship thread? I know Starship is still suborbital and don’t want to pollute this thread with Starship talk.

Maybe a general suborbital test campaigns thread?

Also would recommend the website by Michael Baylor called “Next Spaceflight” if you’re more interested in upcoming launches: (orbital or suborbital)

Little do most know one of the programs im an Engineer for with the Military monitors ALL launches. Not just these. Its a pretty critical system. Good to see someone interested in monitoring or making a thread about the civilian and scientific side :wink:

I would say its name but ever since it moved under United States Space Force’s Space Delta 6… Im pretty much :zipper_mouth_face: … I was going to say its name but they got a bit more serious about that lately and even redacted it from wikipedia… LOL. (pretty normal when a new branch is assessing what it has and doesnt have… im sure sometime in the future it will become public again)

But cool none the less that youve pulled the civy side of things

This list includes anything launched this year with a COSPAR ID, not just civilian launches, be it a mysterious launch from Russia/China, NROL, or the X37 you mentioned in the other thread. A lot of this is probably public, I imagine that is why we know the SATCAT numbers for Misty and other spy satellites, because it will get discovered inevitably.

In some cases, even trajectory information is discovered rapidly by amateurs, like from NROL-108

Two payloads orbited by SpaceX’s launch of NRO mission - Spaceflight Now:
amateur observers located one of the satellites within 24 hours of its launch from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

or even photographed in-orbit. At the ~8:00 in the following video, there are a few of R. Vandebergh’s pictures of a spy satellite as well as the X37 from the previous OTV-5 mission,

As far as I know, it is impossible to secretly launch a vehicle of any substantial size into orbit, so pretending a launch did not happen would just draw more attention. Maybe the US could pull it off in the Pacific, on some forgotten atoll, but transporting the payload there would take more time and be even more conspicuous.

Well that was likely unwise, Wikipedia has edit/deletion logs, so that probably just makes it more conspicuous.