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Rocket Launch Schedule 2021 in Florida

Atlas V launch viewed from the Apollo Saturn V Center viewing area [© 2019, floridareview.co.uk, all rights reserved]
Atlas V launch viewed from the Apollo Saturn V Center viewing area [© 2019, floridareview.co.uk, all rights reserved]

This page lists the complete Kennedy Space Center (KSC) rocket launch schedule for 2021 and the Cape Canaveral rocket launch schedule for 2021.


If you ever get the opportunity to watch the launch of a rocket then you do not want to miss it; it is an experience of a lifetime. Words cannot describe the sounds of a rocket blasting off from the Kennedy Space Center.

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Launch Sites

The Kennedy Space Center is actually two rocket launch sites, the civilian NASA Kennedy Space Center and the military Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Both make up part of the “Eastern Range” overseen by Space Launch Delta 45 (formerly 45th Space Wing) that also looks after nearby Patricks Space Force Base. Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is the headquarters of the “Western Range”.

The current operational launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center are the two former Space Shuttle pads:

  • LC-39B — NASA SLS Artemis programme
  • LC-39A — SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy

The current operational launch pads at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are:

  • SLC-40 — SpaceX Falcon 9
  • SLC-41 — ULA Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur

Upcoming Rocket Launches for 2021

Below is a complete Kennedy Space Center rocket launch schedule and the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station rocket launch schedule for 2021.

Note that all launch dates are provisional and are subject to change, you should always check with the Kennedy Space Center before making a special trip.

If you want to know when is the next launch from the Kennedy Space Center or the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, click here to jump straight to the next space launch from Florida and where you can watch a rocket launch.

Note that SpaceX Starlink missions are often only announced a week or so before launch.

All times are local times.

Abbreviations:

  • EDT — Eastern Daylight Time
  • EST — Eastern Standard Time (during the winter months)
  • NET — “No earlier than”
  • TBA — To be announced

Click here for the previous rocket launch schedule for 2020 and the future rocket launch schedule for 2022 and beyond.

January 7, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Türksat 5A

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Türksat 5A satellite built by Airbus for the Türksat Satellite Communications and Cable TV Operations Company of Turkey. It is the first of a pair of satellites, SpaceX will launch Türksat 5B in June.

The booster B1060 had launched three time before.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window from 8:28 p.m. to 12:28 a.m. EST.

The booster was successfully recovered on the Autonomous Drone Ship (ASDS) “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean around 400 miles east of Cape Canaveral.

Delayed from November 30 and December, 2020, January 4, 2021.

January 20, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L16

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 17th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network. Each satellite weighs around 500 lb (227 kg).

Launch was from launch pad LC-39A with a launch time of 8:02 a.m. EST.

This takes the total number of Starlink satellites to 1,015 including prototypes launched in the last 18 months with around 940 operational.

This mission used booster B1051 which last flew on December 13, 2020 for the seventh time, making a record breaking turn around time of just 38 days for its eighth launch. Both fairing halves had also flown before.

The booster made a successful landing on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions” despite slightly adverse weather conditions, in the Atlantic Ocean around 400 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.

Delayed from January 17 and then again from January 18, 2021 due to poor weather in the recovery zone. Delayed from January 19, 2021 to allow further pre-launch inspections.

January 24, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, SXRS-3 (Rideshare 3 / Transporter 1)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the SXRS-3 mission which is a rideshare launch (SmallSat Rideshare Mission 3) into a near polar Sun-synchronous orbit. The payload consisted of 133 small micro satellites and nano satellites for both commercial customers and government agencies plus 10 Starlink satellites.

Included in the manifest is Spaceflight’s Sherpa-FX which is a non-propulsive orbital transfer vehicle that is able to deploy multiple satellites and host payloads. On this mission it launched around six micro satellites, ten cubesats and two hosted payloads including several from Nanoracks.

Another part of the manifest was the German Exolaunch transfer vehicle that launched 30 satellites.

One rather unusual payload was Celestis 17 containing cremated remains.

The two previous rideshare missions in 2020 piggybacked onto existing Starlink missions. This mission started out as the first exclusively third-party rideshare mission but it also included 10 Starlink v1.0 satellites launched into a polar orbit.

The total satellites for launch stands at 143 which is a new record for a single launch.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window of 10:00 to 10:22 a.m. EST.

The booster, B1058 had been flown on four previous missions and made a successful landing on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” positioned south of Miami. Both fairing halves were also recovered.

Delayed from December 16, 2020 and January 14, 21 and 22, 2021. Delayed from January 22, 2021 due to bad weather at the launch site.

February 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L18

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 18th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network. Each satellite weighs around 500 lb (227 kg).

This takes the total Starlink satellite launches to 1,085 with over 1,000 now in service.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch time of 1:19 a.m. EST.

SpaceX successfully landed the booster B1060 on ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” and recovered both fairing halves. It was the booster’s fifth launch. It previously launched on January 8, 2021, less than a month ago.

This 27 day turn around is the fastest yet for SpaceX, previous record was 38 days.

February 15, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L19

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 19th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network. Each satellite weighs around 500 lb (227 kg).

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch time of 10:59 p.m. EST.

The satellites were successfully deployed but the first stage booster suffered engine cover fatigue during the re-entry burn causing one engine to shut down prematurely and failed to land on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” situated about 400 miles northeast of the Cape.

The booster B1059 was on its sixth launch.

Delayed from February 13, 2021. Delayed from February 14, 2021 due to bad weather.

March 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L17

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 20th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network. Each satellite weighs around 500 lb (227 kg).

Launch was from launch pad LC-39A with a launch time at 3:24 a.m. EST.

The booster, B1049 had been flown on seven previous missions and SpaceX was able to recover it on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”. The fairing halves had also flown before, one half has flown twice and the other three times.

This is the sixth SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 so far this year and brings the total Starlink satellites launched to 1,205.

Delayed from January 29 and 30, February 1, 2021. Delayed from February 2, 2021 due to bad weather in the recovery area.

It was originally planned to launch ahead of Starlink V1.0-L18 but was switched due to poor weather in the recovery zone and some extra pre-flight checks. It also gave SpaceX time to reposition it’s two fairing recovery ships.

Delayed again from February 4, 5 and 7, 2021 due to technical issues.

Delayed again from February 17, 2021 after the entry burn glitch of the previous booster B1059 resulting in it failing to land on the ASDS. Delayed from February 28 after an automatic abort at T-00:01:24.

Delayed from March 2, 2021 due to unfavourable launch and recovery area weather.

March 11, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L20

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 21st batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network. Each satellite weighs around 500 lb (227 kg).

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 3:13 a.m. EST.

The first stage booster B1058 had made five previous flights including two Dragon flights. Both fairing halves had also flown before.

SpaceX successfully recovered the booster to the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”.

Delayed from March 7 and 9, 2021.

March 14, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L21

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 22nd batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

Launch was from launch pad LC-39A with a launch window starting at 6:01 a.m. EDT.

The booster B1059 launched for a record ninth time and was successfully recovered to the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You”.

SpaceX has launched 1,325 Starlink satellites to date.

Delayed from March 13, 2021.

March 24, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L22

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 23rd batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 4:58 a.m. EDT.

The booster B1060 had already flown on five previous missions as had both fairing halves.

The booster was successfully recovered to the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” some 400 miles northeast of Florida’s Space Coast.

A total of around 1,385 Starlink satellites have now been launched and it is reckoned around 1,320 Starlink satellites are operational.

Delayed from March 21 and 22, 2021.

April 7, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L23

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 24th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

The first stage booster, B1058 had already flown six times before and last flew less than one month ago on March 11, 2021.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 12:34 p.m. to 13:37 p.m. EDT.

The first stage landed on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You”.

This landmark is the 100th launch of a Falcon rocket from Florida, the 79th successful recovery of the first stage and the 10th SpaceX launch from Florida this year.

April 23, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-3 (NASA Crew Flight 2)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endeavour” (C206) that previously flew on the Crew Demo 2 mission.

The purpose of the mission was to take the 2nd crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a six flight contract.

The crew comprised of commander Robert Shane Kimbrough (NASA), pilot K. Megan McArthur (NASA) and two mission specialists, Japanese Space Agency Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA) and European Space Agency Thomas Pesquet (ESA).

As well as being the second flight of the spacecraft C206 it was also the second flight of the booster B1061. This was the first time that a previously flown booster had ever been used on a crewed mission.

Launch was from launch pad LC-39A with a launch time of 5:49 a.m. EDT and the crew are expected to spend up to six months on station.

The booster was successfully recovered to the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You”.

Delayed from March 30 and from April 20, 2021 to gain a better trajectory. Delayed from April 22, 2021 due to bad weather in the emergency crew recovery zone in the Atlantic Ocean.

Note that to gain admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on launch day, you needed to purchase a special launch viewing ticket package, you could not be admitted with a standard day admission ticket.

April 28, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L24

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 25th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

This was the seventh flight of booster B1060 and its fourth flight this year.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 11:44 p.m. EDT.

The booster landed on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”, some 400 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean.

May 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L25

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 26th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

Launch was from launch pad LC-39A with a launch window starting at 3:01 p.m. EST.

The booster, B1049, was recovered to the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” positioned east of Charleston in the Atlantic Ocean.

This booster is the oldest booster in the current SpaceX Falcon 9 fleet and has completed nine successful missions, the second booster to achieve this milestone along with B1051.

A total of 1565 Starlink satellites have now been launched with over a quarter of them being launched by B1049. B1049 with B1051 have now launched over half the Starlink satellites.

May 9, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L27

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 27th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 2:42 a.m. EDT.

The booster, B1051 landed on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions” around 400 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral after its tenth successful launch, a new record for SpaceX.

SpaceX originally said that first stage boosters would have to undergo major refurbishment after reaching the ten flight milestone. They are now suggesting they will continue to fly them on their own Starlink missions until something breaks so they can test them to their limits.

SpaceX has now launched 1,625 Starlink satellites.

May 15, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L26

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 28th batch of 52 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network. There were also two rideshare satellites, a radar remote sensing satellite from Capella Space and the Tyvak-0130 from Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.

Launch was from launch pad LC-39A with a launch window starting at 6:56 p.m. EDT.

This was the eighth flight for booster B1058 which landed on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” positioned around 400 miles northeast in the Atlantic Ocean. Both payload fairing halves had also flown before.

SpaceX have now launched 15 times so far in 2021 with 5 launches in less than a month. Most have been Starlink missions.

May 18, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, SBIRS GEO-5

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket launched the 5th Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite for the U.S. Air Force to provide early warning of enemy missile launches and to detect natural events like wildfires and volcanic eruptions.

The payload also included two rideshare cubesats, Technology Demonstration Orbiter TDO-3 and TDO-4.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-41 with a 40 minute launch window opening at 1:31 p.m. EDT.

Complimentary launch viewing was available from the Apollo/Saturn V Center Lawn (reservations on the day required) and the North Atlantis Lawn (first come first served).

You could also view it from the Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area next to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Cost of tickets was $20 and included reserved bleacher seating.

Delayed from May 17, 2021 due to a bad temperature sensor.

This is the first Atlas V launch of 2021 and the first non-SpaceX launch of the year.

May 26, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Starlink V1.0-L28

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 29th batch of 60 Starlink v1.0 satellites as part of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband network.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 2:59 p.m. EDT.

The booster, B1063 landed on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions” after its second successful launch.

Both fairing halves, which had also flown before, were also recovered.

June 3, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 22

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 2nd Dragon 2 cargo spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 22nd resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch was from launchpad LC-39A with a launch window at 1:29 p.m. EDT..

This flight used a brand new booster B1067. The previous 16 flights SpaceX has made so far this year were all using pre-flown boosters.

The booster made a successful landing on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You” positioned about 180 miles northeast of the Kennedy Space Center in the Atlantic Ocean.

Delayed from March and May 20, 2021.

June 6, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, SXM-8

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the SXM-8 satellite built by Maxar Technologies for SiriusXM to provide satellite radio broadcasting across North America.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 12:25 a.m. EDT.

The booster, B1061 had flown twice before and made a successful recovery to the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”.

Delayed from June 6, 2021.

June 17, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, GPS III SV05

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the 5th third-generation GPS satellite “Neil Armstrong” built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Space Force.

Launch was from launch pad SLC-40 with a launch window starting at 12:08 p.m. EDT.

Block 5 booster, B1062, had flown on one previous mission, GPS III SV04 “Sacagawea”. This was the first time that the U.S. Space Force had agreed to use a previously flown stage 1 booster.

Complimentary viewing was available from the North Atlantis Lawn at the Visitor Complex or for $20 you could view the launch from the Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area alongside the Apollo/ Saturn V Center.

After a successful launch the booster landed on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”.

June 24, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Transporter 2

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 2 mission which is a rideshare flight. The payload will consist of many small micro satellites and nano satellites for both commercial customers and government agencies.

The first Transporter mission is using Booster B1060 on its eighth flight.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

Moved up from July 2021.

July 30, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2)

Following the issues with the first test flight of the unmanned Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew module to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2019, Boeing and NASA decided to attempt a second unmanned test mission before their first crewed mission.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the unmanned Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the ISS. Having spent around a week at the ISS, the Starliner will return to Earth and land in the western United States.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41 with a launch time of 2:53 p.m. EDT.

Delayed from Quarter 3, 2020. Delayed from January 4 and 5, 2021. Moved up from March 29, 2021 and then moved back to April 2, 2021.

Bad weather and power cuts in Texas resulted in a week long halt to software testing. Coupled with that, a Russian Soyuz capsule was due to dock on April 9 followed by a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule departing the ISS on April 17 and then the next Crew Dragon due to arrive April 22.

As a result the Starliner launch slipped into May at the earliest.

In April it was announced it will most likely be further delayed to the August/September timeframe due to docking port availability at the ISS and United Launch Alliance booster availability.

August 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, STP-3

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force. This is a rideshare mission including the STPSat 6 satellite, LPDE 1 and other smaller satellites.

The STPSat 6 satellite includes payloads for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 (SABRS-3) and NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) experiment.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

Delayed from February 26, 2021 to allow further work on the STPSat 6 satellite and then from June 23, 2021 to analyse the engine nozzle vibrations in the new more powerful upper stage RL10C-1–1 engine.

August 18, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 23

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 25th Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 23rd resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

September 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, USSF-08

The Atlas V rocket will launch two military communications satellites (GSSAP5 and 6) for the U.S. Space Force as part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP). The mission was previously known as AFSPC-08.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

Delayed from Quarter 4, 2020 and March 2021.

September 15, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Inspiration4

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly four space tourists into low earth orbit for several days before splashing down in the Atlantic. Unlike the Axiom missions it will not dock with the ISS but will fly around the world fro three day in a 335 mile high orbit, about 70 miles higher than the ISS orbit.

The launch has been chartered by businessman and jet pilot Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments and Draken International. It will be the first commercial flight commanded by a non-government astronaut.

The mission is to support the St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Isaacman hopes to raise over $200 million for the hospital. He has already pledged $100 million himself.

As well as Isaacman, a front-line physician assistant, Hayley Arceneaux from St. Jude has been selected and will act as the crew’s medical officer.

The third crew member is Sian Proctor, an artist and a pilot who will act as co-pilot and was also a NASA astronaut finalist. She was selected by a national competition from customers of Shift4 Payments.

The fourth crew member is engineer Chris Sembroski who will be the mission specialist. He was gifted the seat by a friend who is a donor to St. Jude and was selected in a random draw.

In March 2021, SpaceX announced that they are planning to remove the docking adaptor and hatch from the Crew Dragon capsule “Resilience” and replace it with an observation dome that would be protected by the existing nosecone.

Booster B1067, will have flown on one previous mission, to the ISS.

Launch is from launch pad LC-39A.

October 16, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, Lucy

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket will launch a NASA planetary science mission known as Lucy on a 12 year mission to fly by a main belt asteroid and six Trojan asteroids orbiting the Sun near Jupiter.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41 with a launch window starting at 5:35 a.m. EDT.

October 2021 - SpaceX Falcon Heavy, US Space Force 44 (USSF-44)

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a classified payload (formerly known as AFSPC-44) for the U.S. Space Force. There is a secondary payload, the Tetra-1 micro-satellite developed by Millennium Space Systems.

For the first time, the SpaceX mission will attempt to launch the payload directly into geostationary orbit (GEO).

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

On the three previous Falcon Heavy launches, the two side boosters have landed back at the Cape at pads LZ-1 and LZ-2 but SpaceX has yet to successfully recover the special centre core.

On the first and third attempts, the centre booster missed the autonomous spaceport drone ship (ASDS) and though the booster made a successful landing on the second attempt it then toppled over due to heavy seas.

For the USSF 44 mission, it is expected that SpaceX will attempt to recover both side boosters on their two ASDS barges, “Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read The Instructions”. All three boosters, B1064, B1065 and B1066 are brand new but the centre core booster B1066 will be expended.

Delayed from Quarter 4, 2020 and Quarter 2, 2021. Delayed from July 2021 to “accommodate payload readiness”, presumably due to delays in the USSF-44 payload. The second Falcon Heavy launch, USSF-52 has likewise been pushed back from October 2021 to 2022.

NET October 31, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-5 (NASA Crew Flight 3)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft “Resilience” that flew on the Crew 1 mission. The purpose of this mission is to take the 3rd crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station.

The crew consists of four astronauts:

  • Raja Chari (NASA), mission commander
  • Thomas Marshburn (NASA), pilot
  • Kayla Barron (NASA), mission specialist
  • Matthias Maurer (European Space Agency), mission specialist

The booster is B1067 which first flew in June when it launched the previous crew mission.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

Delayed from September 13 and October 23, 2021.

Quarter 3, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, O3b mPOWER 1, 2 & 3

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 1st group of three O3b mPOWER communications satellites for SES, Luxembourg.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

October 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, NROL-85

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office with two satellites codenamed Intruder 13A and 13B.

Delayed from July 2021.

Quarter 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Türksat 5B

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Türksat 5B satellite for the Türksat Satellite Communications and Cable TV Operations Company of Turkey.

Delayed from June 2021.

November 17, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, IXPE

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Imaging X-Ray Explorer Mission (IXPE) for NASA which will consist of three identical space telescopes to investigate black holes and neutron stars.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

December 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 24

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 26th Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 24th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

December 7, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, GOES-T

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket will launch a third geostationary weather satellite for NASA and NOAA.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

Quarter 4, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur, Peregrine

The first United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket will launch the Peregrine lunar lander for Astrobotic. Peregrine is part of the preparation for a crewed landing on the Moon in 2024 as part of NASA’s Artemis programme.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

NET Quarter 4, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, CST-100 Starliner Crew Flight Test 1

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the first manned Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on mission Crew Flight Test 1 (CFT 1).

The crew originally consisted of Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann. In October 2020, Chris Ferguson withdrew from the assignment and his place was taken by another NASA astronaut, Barry “Butch” Wilmore.

After docking with the ISS, the capsule will return to Earth for a landing on land in the western United States.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

Delayed from August 2019 and Quarter 1, 2020. Then further delayed from mid 2020 following the decision to re-fly the Orbital Test Flight. Delayed from early 2021 and June 2021.

Quarter 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Nova-C

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the first Nova-C lunar lander for Intuitive Machines. Intuitive Machines hope to be the first commercial company to successfully land a lunar lander on the surface of the Moon as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract.

A secondary payload is Ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar lander.

Launch is from launch pad LC-39A.

2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V, SBIRS GEO-6

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket will launch the 6th Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite for the U.S. Air Force to provide early warning of enemy attacks and to detect natural events like wildfires and volcanic eruptions.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

2021 Florida Rocket Launch Highlights

After SpaceX launched 25 rockets from Florida in 2020, it is expected that the schedule for 2021 will be equally full with as many as 53 launches on the rocket launch manifest. This was subsequently downgraded slightly to 47 launches.

In the first quarter of 2021 there were nine launches from the Cape, all by SpaceX.

A major milestone in Mars exploration happened on February 18, 2021 when the Perseverance Rover landed in the Jezero Crater. If all goes to plan, the rover will collect rock samples and ultimately they will be sent back to Earth, the first time material from another planet has ever been returned to Earth.

Moon Lander Progress

Three companies were selected in April 2020 by NASA to produce proposals for the construction of a human moon lander module as part of the Artemis programme. SpaceX, Blue Origin (in conjunction with Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Draper) and Dynetics submitted proposals and a decision was originally expected in February 2021. On January 27, 2021 NASA announced they were delaying the decision until April 30.

Dynetics is looking to utilise the United Launch Alliance Vulcan launcher as is Blue Origin who are also developing their New Glenn rocket. Both rockets are expected to make their first flights this year. SpaceX is already in the early phases of test flying their Starship which is a fully integrated lander that would be launched on the Starship Super Heavy Rocket.

NASA subsequently announced that SpaceX was the first choice but shortly afterwards the project was temporarily suspended following objections from both Blue Origin and Dynetics.

SpaceX Rocket Launches

At the start of the year there were two autonomous spaceport drone ships (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read The Instructions” based on the East coast along with two fairing recovery vessels “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief”.

With the two landing zones at the Cape, this gives SpaceX the flexibility to recover up to two Falcon 9 boosters on land and two at sea at any one time.

The fairing recovery vessels had large nets and attempted to catch the fairing halves before they hit the water. It appears that attempts to catch the fairings to prevent them landing in the ocean have not been that successful but “wet” recovery where the fairings touch down in the sea and are then recovered has proved perfectly satisfactory and many fairings have been re-used.

In March 2021, Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief were decommissioned and the two Dragon recovery ships, “GO Searcher” and “GO Navigator” took over fairing recovery duties. SpaceX has also charted a larger vessel, “Shelia Bordelon” with a 50 ton crane to assist in fairing recovery.

2021 is to be busy as SpaceX continue with their new Starlink and ride-share missions where up to 60 small satellites are launched each time as part of their global internet service. Note that these launches are not usually added to the manifest until quite close to the launch date.

In total, SpaceX has approval to launch up to 12,000 Starlink satellites.

As SpaceX continues to work on their next-generation Starship rocket system in Texas, there could be up to three Falcon Heavy launches in Florida in 2021.

SpaceX is currently working on new fixtures at their former Space Shuttle launch pad, LC-39A. As well as support for future Starship/Super Heavy launches they are also building a vertical integration tower to enable them to mount sensitive military satellites vertically. This Rocket Mobile Service Tower is needed by 2022 to support their National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service contract with the Department of the U.S. Air Force.

At present all SpaceX launched satellites are mounted horizontally in the SpaceX hanger close to the pad but some military satellites have to be kept vertical prior to launch.

Having successfully launched their first crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020, there are two further SpaceX crewed missions planned for 2021.

On January 13, SpaceX successfully recovered the first of their upgraded Cargo Dragon spacecraft when it splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, the first time a Cargo Dragon has left the ISS and returned to Florida. Their “Go Navigator” recovery ship hoisted the capsule out of the water in preparation for a return to the SpaceX refurbishment facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) Rocket Launches

After the problem in late 2019, Boeing hope to make the first mission to the ISS using their new CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. If this is successful they will also make their first crewed mission in 2021.

The new ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket is also scheduled to make it’s first flight in 2021. Its first stage is powered by the new Blue Origin BE-4 engines which will end the reliance on Russian built RD-180 engines as used in the Atlas V series.

NASA Rocket Launches

One of the biggest anticipated launches of the year was to be the first ever flight of the new Space Launch System, Artemis 1. This has been delayed several times over the last three years and has now been further delayed until 2022. Its launch is eagerly anticipated from the other former shuttle launch pad, LC-39B.

NASA has also built a brand new launch pad about a mile south from shuttle pad LC-39A. Pad LC-48A is described as a “clean” pad to offer maximum flexibility to a range of launch customers though none have been announced to-date. The pad is designed to offer quick turnaround for low-cost smaller launchers.

A second pad, LC-48B could also be built close by.

Blue Origin Rocket Launches

As well as the ULA Vulcan Centaur, the New Glenn rocket from Blue Origin will also use the BE-4 engines. Blue Origin rockets will launch from LC-36.

Like SpaceX, Blue Origin is intending to re-use the first stage with recovery at sea. In preparation for that, in 2018 they purchased a secondhand ship called the “Stena Freighter” which is being modified in Pensacola to become a mobile landing platform. It has recently been re-christened “Jacklyn” after Jeff Bezos’s mother.

Each booster is expected to have a lifetime of 25 launches.

Blue Origin had hoped to make the first test flight in July 2021 but they are now targeting late 2022.

Sierra Nevada Rocket Launches

Sierra Nevada Corporation who are building the “mini shuttle” Dream Chaser are planning to launch their spacecraft on the new United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket. First flight of the Vulcan is planned for 2021 but it now looks like the Dream Chaser launch will not be until 2022. Sierra Nevada has a contract for six cargo launches to the ISS.

The unmanned Dream Chasers will be recovered to the former Space Shuttle Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral, now known as Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility.

Firefly Aerospace Rocket Launches

A small-to-medium sized rocket builder, Firefly Aerospace are establishing a factory with a view to launching its Alpha and Beta rockets from SLC-20 (former Titan) launchpad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Relativity Space Rocket Launches

Another former Titan and Pershing missile launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, LC-16 is the new home of Relativity Space.

They intend to launch small satellites up to 2,750 lbs (1,250 kg) by the end of 2021 using their 3-D printed Terran 1 rocket powered by seven Aeon 1 engines in the first stage and a single Aeon 1 second stage.

Longer term they are planning to build the Terran R with a payload of over 44,000 lbs (20,000 kg) and reusable first and second stages. First flight is anticipated in 2024, again from LC-16.

The Terran R first stage is powered by seven Aeon R engines and the second stage by a single Aeon Vac engine. Like the spacecraft itself, the engines will also be 3-D printed and will be capable of lifting around 44,000 pounds of payload into low Earth orbit.

NASA Launch Schedules

Sources

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