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2008 was an exciting year with the launch of manned and robotic missions. The years highlights include the first launch of Europe's ATV, India's first unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan 1 and more other great missions.

January 2008

 Zero Gravity Picture* NASA Awards Contract For Microgravity Aircraft Services: NASA awarded a contract to Zero Gravity Corporation of Las Vegas to manage and operate an aircraft to perform reduced gravity parabolic flights while carrying NASA-operated experiments and personnel. The contract began January 1st. The parabolic flights will provide the means to replicate the reduced gravity environment of space for various areas of research needed to further NASA's understanding of space travel. These include aeronautical research, fluid physics, combustion, material sciences and life sciences.

Additionally, work done during these flights will assist engineers in developing NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle, as well as contribute to improved flights for astronauts on the space shuttle and the International Space Station. The aircraft will fly primarily out of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

 * Thuraya 3: Thuraya-3, a mobile communications satellite was successfully launched on 15th, January, 2008. The flight was the first for Sea Launch since the catastrophic explosion in January 2007 which destroyed a Zenit and its payload on the pad.

 * Richard Branson unveils Commercial Spaceship Model: Virgin Galactic unveiled the design of its new, environmentally benign, space launch system, SpaceShipTwo on 23rd January 2008. It is based on the X Prize winning technology of SpaceShipOne, which successfully flew into space for the third time in October 2004 and won the $10m Ansari X Prize.

 * Israel's Tecstar Satellite: Tecsar, Israel's most advanced spy satellite was launched into orbit by an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on 21 January. Tecsar joins Israel's four other current operational spy satellites - two each from the Eros and Ofeq series.

 * Express AM33: Express-AM33 is communication satellite and was produced by NPO PM in cooperation with Thales Alenia Space under the State contract with Roskosmos, Information and Communication Ministry and Russian Space Communication Company. The spacecraft launch mass is 2600 kg and has a lifetime of 12 years. Express-AM33 was launched on January 28, 2008 on a Proton rocket from at Baikonur cosmodrome.

February 2008

 * Space Shuttle STS-122:  STS-122 delivered the Columbus Laboratory Module built by the European Space Agency to the International Space Station. The launch date was 7 February, 2008.

 * Progress M-63 Spacecraft: Progress M-63 (ISS 28P), a cargo delivery spacecraft was launched on 5 February 2008 on a Soyuz Rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

 * Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite (WINDS): KIZUNA (WINDS) is a super high-speed Internet satellite. WINDS was launched by a Japanese H-IIA Launch Vehicle on February 23, 2008. It is a joint development by JAXA and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, as part of the e-Japan Priority Policy Program of the Japanese government's IT strategy headquarters.

 * THEOS Earth-watching satellite: (launch status needs to be checked)

THEOS (Thai Earth Observation System) is an Earth observation satellite to be operated by the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology's Space Agency (GISTDA). It will be used for cartography, land use, agricultural monitoring, forestry management, coastal zone monitoring and flood risk management and is designed to image any point in Thailand within two days.

It will be launched by a ISC Kosmotras Dnepr booster from Dombarovsky, Russia on February . THEOS was built by EADS Astrium and is based on EADS Astrium's AstroSAt optical Earth observation spacecraft and carries instruments to image the Earth in a high-resolution panchromatic mode with 2-meter resolution, as well in a wide field multi-spectral mode.

March 2008

  * ATV: The first launch of the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) by the European Space Agency (ESA) was originally going to be launched in September 2004. It will be launched by an Ariane-5 Rocket on 8 March 2008. The ATV is a European cargo supply vehicle will be used to supplement the International Space Station cargo carrying capacity. The first ATV is called Jules Verne.

 * Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-123: Mission STS-123 on Space Shuttle Endeavour will deliver the pressurized section of the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module (ELM-PS) on the twenty-fifth mission to the International Space Station. The mission will deliver NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman to the complex and return European Space Agency astronaut Léopold Eyharts to Earth. It will be launched on March 11, 2008.

 * AMERICOM-14 (AMC-14): AMC-14 is a BSS satellite featuring many noteworthy innovations, including an active phased array (APA) payload consisting of a receive mode APA antenna and the highest levels of redundancy on core components such as amplifiers, receivers, commanding beam and computer control systems. Developed primarily by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, the APA will be a key satellite technology for future missions. AMC-14 will provide AMERICOM2Home services in the United States for EchoStar Communications' DISH Network. It maybe launched on Proton Rocket from Kazakhstan on March 14 2008.

 * DirecTV-11: DirecTV-11 satellite is designed to optimize DIRECTV's advanced transmission techniques and state-of-the-art video compression technology for delivering national high-definition (HD) programming and local HD channels to subscribers throughout the United States.

DirecTV-11 had originally been scheduled for launch by Sea Launch in November, 2007. Following a launch failure at Sea Launch that resulted in damage to the facility, the currently expected launch date was changed to March 17, 2008.

 * CartoSat 2A: CartoSat 2A Earth observatory and a series of other satellites maybe launched on 3 March 2008 on an Indian PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.

April 2008

 * Soyuz TMA-12 Spacecraft: A new ISS crew (ISS-16S) will be launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-12 Spacecraft on a Soyuz FG rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan to the ISS on April 8, 2008. The mission will last six months.

 * Chandrayaan 1: Chandrayaan 1 is the first unmanned lunar mission by the Indian Space Research Organization and maybe launched on on April 9, 2008. The mission includes a lunar orbiter as well as an impactor. The spacecraft will be launched by a modified version of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

Over a two-year period, it is intended to survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography. The polar regions are of special interest, as they might contain water ice.

 * STSS Demo - Missile Defense Agency: STSS Demo is a midcourse tracking technology demonstrator and is part of an evolving ballistic missile defense system. STSS is capable of tracking objects after boost phase and provides trajectory information to other sensors and interceptors. To be launched by NASA for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) by a Delta II from Cape Canveral.

 * AMOS 3: A Land Launch Zenit 3SLB rocket may launch the Amos 3 communications satellite for Israel's Spacecom Limited from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in April 2008. The satellite will serve markets in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

* GIOVE B: GIOVE B is the second of two satellites to test technology for Europe’s future Galileo satellite navigation system. It was launched on April 30, 2008. Previous launch dates were 8 March 2008 and 29 December, 2007. GIOVE A was launched in December 2005.

May 2008

 * Progress M-64 Spacecraft: Progress M-64 (ISS 29P), a cargo delivery spacecraft maybe launched on 14 May 2008 on a Soyuz Rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

 * Space Shuttle STS-124:  STS-124 is the 26th shuttle mission to the International Space Station.  It maybe launched in May 25 2008. The STS-124 mission is the second of three flights that will launch components to complete the Kibo laboratory. The mission will include two spacewalks to install the new lab and its remote manipulator system. The lab's logistics module, which will have been installed in a temporary location during STS-123, will be attached to the new lab.

Navy Cmdr. Mark E. Kelly will command the STS-124 shuttle mission to deliver the Pressurized Module and robotic arm of the Japanese Experiment Module, known as "Kibo" (hope), to the International Space Station. Navy Cmdr. Kenneth T. Ham will serve as the pilot. Mission specialists will include NASA astronauts Karen L. Nyberg; Air Force Col. Ronald J. Garan Jr.; Air Force Reserve Col. Michael E. Fossum; and Navy Cmdr. Stephen G. Bowen. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide also will serve as a mission specialist.

* Mars Phoenix Lander: The expected arrival date of the Mars Phoenix Lander to the Red Planet is on May 25, 2008.

 * Space Shuttle STS-124: Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 will transport the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module - Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS) to the International Space Station.
 It maybe flown on May 25, 2008.

June 2008

Glast Picture of Space Telescope * Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (Glast): The Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope is a space based gamma-ray telescope, designed to explore the high-energy Universe. It will study astrophysical and cosmological phenomena such as active galactic nuclei, pulsars, other high-energy sources, and dark matter. It will be the largest space gamma ray experiment ever built. It was launched June 11, 2008. The previous launch dates were in September 2007 and January 31, 2008.

 * RadioAstron: The RadioAstron is an international space Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) project led by the Astro Space Center of Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, Russia. The payload, Space Radio Telescope, is based on spacecraft Spektr-R designed by the Lavochkin Association. It maybe launched in June 2007 on a Proton K rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

 * IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer): The Interstellar Boundary Explorer will launch from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll and Wake Island from an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket on June 15.

 * OSTM/Jason-2: The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite (OSTM/Jason-2) will be a follow-on to the Jason mission. It is scheduled to launch in June of 2008.

 * TacSat­3: TacSat­3 (Tactical Satellite 3) satellite is a collaborative effort of the Air Force, Army and Navy and will feature an onboard processor, which provides real-time data to the combatant commander in the theatre of interest. It was originally planned for launch in October 2007 and March 2008. It will be launched on 25th June by Orbital Sciences Minotaur Rocket from Wallops Flight Facility.

July 2008

 * Herschel Space Observatory: Herschel Space Observatory is a space-based telescope that will study the universe by the light of the far-infrared and submillimeter portions of the spectrum. Herschel Space Observatory was formerly called Far Infrared and Sub-millimetre Telescope or FIRST.

Herschel will be launched in July 2008 by an Ariane 5. The telescope will have the largest mirror ever deployed in space. It will be located 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth at the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system. H
erschel will be launched together with the PLANCK satellite by a European Ariane 5 rocket.

 * IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer): IBEX's science objective is to discover the global interaction between the solar wind and the interstellar medium and will achieve this objective by taking a set of global energetic neutral atom images that will answer four fundamental science questions. It will be launched by Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL Rocket from the Reagan Test Site, Kwajalein Atoll.

 * GOES-O: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program, the multimission Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series N-P. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science. it maybe launched July 20 on a Delta IV from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

August 2008

 * Total Eclipse of the Sun: The next total eclipse of the Sun will be on August 1, 2008.

 * Progress M-65 Spacecraft: Progress M-65 (ISS 30P), a cargo delivery spacecraft maybe launched in 12 August 2008 on a Soyuz Rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

 * GeoEye-1: GeoEye-1 is a commercial Earth imaging satellite. It will be equipped with the most advanced technology ever used in a commercial remote sensing system. The satellite will be able to collect images at 0.41-meter panchromatic (black & white) and 1.65-meter multispectral resolution. It will be launched by a Delta II on 22 August 2008 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

September 2008

 * Progress M-66 Spacecraft: Progress M-66 (ISS 31P), a cargo delivery spacecraft maybe launched in 11 September 2008 on a Soyuz Rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

 * ShenZhou 7: China  may launch three taikonauts aboard Shenzhou 7 in September 2008, immediately after the Beijing Olympics.

October 2008

 * Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite: The aim of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission is to obtain data that will facilitate returning humans safely to the Moon and enable extended stays. Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite will be specifically looking for ice on the moon. The spacecraft are scheduled for launch aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a launch window that opens on October 31, 2008.

* Final Space Shuttle Mission to Hubble Telescope: Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 was originally scheduled for launch on October 8, 2008, however, the final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was moved to May 2009. Previous launch dates were August 28, 2008 and September 10, 2008.

 * Soyuz TMA-13 Spacecraft: A new ISS crew (ISS-17S) will be launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 Spacecraft on a Soyuz FG rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan to the ISS on 12 October 8, 2009. The mission will last six months.

November 2008

 * Space Shuttle STS-126: Space Shuttle Endeavour launching on assembly flight ULF2, will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station. It is scheduled for launch on November 10, 2008. It was previous launch date was October 16, 2008.

December 2008

 * SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory): The first Space Weather Research Network mission in the Living With a Star (LWS) Program of NASA. It maybe launched on December 1.

 * Orbiting Carbon Observatory: Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) is a new Earth orbiting mission sponsored by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program. After launch, the OCO mission will collect precise global measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere. Scientists will analyze OCO data to improve our understanding of the natural processes and human activities that regulate the abundance and distribution of this important greenhouse gas. It maybe launched in 15 December, 2008.


 * Chandrayan-1 Lunar Probe: The Indian government has given the go-ahead for India to launch the Chandrayan-1 lunar probe by 2008.

 * Kepler Mission will search for Earth-like planets using the transit method. Kepler will monitor 100,000 stars similar to our sun for four years.

 * Hotbird 9: Hotbird 9 broadcast satellite by Eutlesat Communications will be launched in 2008 by EADS Astrium.

 * Soyuz Rocket in Kourou - The first launch of a Russian Soyuz Rocket from Kourou, French Guiana might be launched in 2008.

 * Korean to International Space Station:  Russia in 2006 signed an agreement that will launch a South Korean astronaut to the International Space Station in April 2008 aboard a Soyuz TMA spacecraft. Two candidates will train at Star City, Russia.

 * Vinasat-1: Vinasat-1 is the first Vietnamese telecommunications satellite. Vinasat 1 is being built by Lockheed Martin for Vietnam Post and Telecommunications. It maybe be launched on an Ariane 5 during the first half of 2008.

  * Unmanned Reusable Space Vehicle: The US Air Force is developing an Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) based on the NASA X-37 technology demonstrator to continue full-scale development and on-orbit testing of an unmanned long-duration, reusable space vehicle, the first of which will  be launched into orbit aboard an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral in 2008, with a landing either in Vandenberg or Edwards AFB, California. (Info: added Jan 2007)

 * VENESAT-1 Venezuela Satellite: VENESAT-1 is a telecommunications satellite that maybe launched in 2008 from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Southwest China atop a Long March 3B rocket.

In 2005 an an agreement signed by the China and Venezuela for  VENESAT-1. China Great Wall Industry Corp was contracted to design, manufacture, test and place it in orbit for Venezuela. The satellite is designed with a mission life of 15 years.

Useful Links

NASA Launch Schedule
Launch Schedule
: by
Launch Schedule: by
Vandenberg AFB Launch Schedule:
Japanese Launch Schedule: by JAXA
Kennedy Space Center Launch Schedule

Space Launch Report: by Ed Kyle.
NASA Awards Contract For Microgravity Aircraft Services: NASA News (Jan 1st, 2008)

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Copyright © 2000-2014 Vic Stathopoulos. All rights reserved.

Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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