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Rocket Launch Schedule 2021 and beyond

Atlas V launch as seen from Hangar Beach [© 2019, floridareview.co.uk, all rights reserved]
Atlas V launch as seen from Hangar Beach [© 2019, floridareview.co.uk, all rights reserved]

All launch dates are provisionally and are subject to change, you should always check with the Kennedy Space Center before making a special trip.


This page covers launches in 2021 and beyond. Click here for the current 2020 NASA launch schedule from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center and where you can watch a rocket launch.

SpaceX had originally planned to launch a Falcon Heavy rocket with a crewed Dragon 2 capsule and two private fee paying passengers on a trip around the moon and back.

This mission has now been cancelled and replaced with a more ambitious launch of the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), now renamed Starship. In September 2018, SpaceX announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa had signed up to fly around the moon as early as 2023 with a group of six to eight hand-picked companion artists.

President Trump has set NASA the target of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024 under project Artemis.

At present the plan is to use the Space Launch System (SLS) in conjunction with the Orion spacecraft and a new module in Moon orbit called “Gateway”, a bit like the International Space Station orbiting Earth. As well as supporting landing on the Moon, the Gateway could also be used to support flights to Mars.

Maxar Technologies are building the power and propulsion module for launch in 2022 with Northrop Grumman constructing the habitation module for launch in 2023 with elements of the lunar lander being launched in 2024.

The Gateway module will require about six launches to get all the necessary components into orbit. The first component was originally scheduled to launch in 2022 but the latest news is that the Gateway module is no longer on the critical path for moon landings.

In May 2020, NASA awarded initial 10 month feasibility study contracts to three companies to propose human landing system designs for NASA’s planned Artemis moon landings, starting in 2024.

  • Blue Origin is putting forward their three stage Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, which would launch on their own New Glenn Rocket System and the ULA Vulcan launch system.
  • Dynetics is proposing their single stage Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) in partnership with Sierra Nevada Corp. to launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
  • SpaceX is currently developing the Starship which is a fully integrated lander to be launched by their upcoming Super Heavy rocket.

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 2021.

Future Launch Schedule for 2021 and beyond

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

NET January 4, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, 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 has decided to attempt a second unmanned test mission.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the unmanned Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the ISS.

Boeing is working towards a late December 2020 to early January 2021 launch window.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

Delayed from Quarter 3, 2020.

February, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, STP-3

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the STP-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force. This is a rideshare mission including the STPSat 6 satellite 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.

March, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, USSF 8

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.

March 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 22

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 24th Dragon 2 spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 22nd resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch is from launchpad LC-39A.

March 30, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-3 (NASA Crew Flight 2)

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

The purpose of the mission is to take the 2nd crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station.

The crew is expected to comprise of commander Robert S. 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 is also the second flight of the booster B1061.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

Quarter 1, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9 - SXM-8

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SXM-8 satellite for SiriusXM.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

Quarter 2, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, SBIRS GEO-5

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket will launch the 5th 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.

Quarter 2, 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.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

Quarter 2, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon Heavy - US Space Force 52 (USSF-52)

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a classified payload (formerly known as AFSPC-52) for the U.S. Space Force.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

May 10, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 23

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 25th Dragon 2 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.

Quarter 2, 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.

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 possible 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”.

Delayed from Quarter 4, 2020.

June, 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.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

June, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, O3b mPOWER

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 1st O3b mPOWER communications satellite for SES, Luxembourg.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

June, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, 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).

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.

July, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9 - GPS 3 SV05

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 5th third-generation GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

September, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-5 (NASA Crew Flight 3)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 3rd crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2020 - 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 space telescopes to investigate black holes and neutron stars.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

October, 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, 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.

October 11, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Nova-C

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 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.

Launch is from launch pad LC-39A.

October, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Axiom Space-1 (AX-1)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on behalf of Axiom Space and will fly four space tourists to the International Space Station (ISS) for around an eight day stay.

Michael Lopez-Alegria is a trained astronaut and he will be joined by Tom Cruise and Doug Liman for a movie project plus one other tourist.

The Dragon spacecraft will dock with the Harmony module.

Launch is from launch pad LC-39A.

Quarter 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Space Adventures Free Flyer

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on behalf of Space Adventures and will fly four space tourists into high earth orbit. Unlike the Axiom mission it will not dock with the ISS but will orbit two to three times higher than the ISS orbit

Launch is from launch pad LC-39A.

Quarter 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9 - GPS 3 SV06

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 6th third-generation GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

Quarter 4, 2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy - ViaSat-3

A SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket will launch the ViaSat-3 satellite for ViaSat.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

November 2021 - Space Launch System - Artemis 1

The first launch of the new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket which replaces the cancelled Constellation programme and the retired Space Shuttle programme. Originally called Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) the mission is now known as Artemis 1.

The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built with 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The rocket consists of two Northrop Grumman solid-propellant boosters and four upgraded Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 main engines from the Space Shuttle programme.

Segments of the solid rocket boosters are also repurposed from the shuttle programme.

The mission will be to send an unmanned Orion capsule around the moon and deploy 6 small CubeSats.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-39B.

Unlike on the previous Shuttle programme, the boosters will not be recovered after lift-off.

Delayed from November 2018, December 2019 and June 2020.

2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, AFSPC-12

The Atlas V rocket will launch a military communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, CST-100 Starliner Crew Flight Test

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the 3rd test flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station. This will be the first ever manned launch using an Atlas V rocket.

The crew will consist of a NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann and a Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson and will land in the western United States on its return to Earth.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

Delayed from November 2018, August 2019, quarter 1 and 2, 2020.

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.

2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, NROL-85

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, O3b mPOWER

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 2nd O3b mPOWER communications satellite for SES, Luxembourg.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, 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 - United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur Rocket, Peregrine

The United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket will launch the Peregrine lunar lander for Astrobotic.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser

The Atlas V rocket will launch a Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser, an unmanned fully autonomous re-usable mini space shuttle on a mission to the International Space Station. Like the space shuttle before it, Dream Chaser can land on a runway after it’s re-entry of the earth’s atmosphere.

In August 2020, the first prototype was given the name “Tenacity”.

The Dream Chaser can carry around 2,000 lbs (900 kgs) of cargo and can be fitted with a cargo module called “Shooting Star” with a capacity of a further 10,000 lbs (4,500 kgs). Unlike the main spacecraft, the cargo module cannot be returned to earth but is designed to burn up in the atmosphere on re-entry.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, NROL-87

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

Launch is from launch pad SLC-40.

2021 - SpaceX Falcon 9, Space Tourist Mission

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon capsule carrying three private space tourists on a 10 day mission to the International Space Station.

SpaceX announced the deal with Axiom Space in March 2020. Tickets are expected to cost around $55 million per seat.

June, 2022 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-7 (NASA Crew Flight 4)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 4th crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

July 2022 - SpaceX Falcon 9 - KPLO

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) and Lunar Impactor CubeSat for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute of South Korea.

July, 2022 - SpaceX Falcon Heavy - Psyche

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a NASA exploration mission to the large metallic asteroid named Psyche as part of NASA’s Discovery programme. This will be NASA’s first primary mission flying on an Falcon Heavy.

There will also be two secondary smallsat payloads, Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE) which will study the Martian atmosphere and Janus, which will study pairs of binary asteroids.

After liftoff the spacecraft will perform a Mars flyby in 2023 en route to Psyche. Once it arrives at Psyche in January 2026 it will orbit the asteroid.

Psyche is one of the largest asteroids in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and consists mainly of iron and nickel.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2022 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, CST-100 Starliner Mission 1

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the 1st operational mission of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station carrying three NASA astronauts on a six month mission. Crew will consist of Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada and Jeanette Epps.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

This flight will be followed by five further confirmed missions.

2022 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 25

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 27th Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 25th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2022 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 26

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 28th Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 26th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

October 2021 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, NROL-107

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-41.

2022 - First Gateway Element

A private rocket (to be announced) will launch the first module of the Gateway providing power, electric propulsion and communications.

NET 2022 - United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, Silent Barker

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket will launch a Silent Barker payload for the U.S. Defense Department. Silent Barker is a joint programme between the Air Force Space Command and the National Reconnaissance Office.

July 2022 - SpaceX Falcon 9 - Nilesat 301

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Nilesat 301 communications satellite for the Egyptian company Nilesat. The Nilesat 301 satellite is being built by the European company Thales Alenia Space.

July 2022 - SpaceX Falcon 9 - Intelsat 40e

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 40e communications satellite for Intelsat using a flight—proven stage 1 booster.

2023 - Space Launch System - Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2) Artemis 2

The 2nd launch of the new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket with astronauts aboard an Orion capsule on a journey around the moon.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-39B.

June 2023 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-9 (NASA Crew Flight 5)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 5th crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2023 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 27

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 29th Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 27th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2023 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 28

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 30th Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 28th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2023 - United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy Rocket, NROL-68

The Delta IV Heavy rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-37B.

June, 2024 - SpaceX Falcon 9, USCV-11 (NASA Crew Flight 6)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 6th crew flight for NASA to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2024 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 29

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 31st Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 29th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2024 - SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS 30

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 32nd Dragon spacecraft. The purpose of the mission is to take the 30th resupply cargo load to the International Space Station.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

2024 - United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy Rocket, NROL-70

The Delta IV Heavy rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

This is likely to be the last ever Delta IV rocket launch.

Launch will be from launch pad SLC-37B.

2024 - SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy - Gateway

A SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket will launch a DragonXL cargo capsule for NASA carrying up to 11,000 pounds of cargo, experiments and supplies to the Gateway orbiting station around the Moon.

Launch will be from launch pad LC-39A.

NASA Launch Schedules

Sources

  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Space Flight Now
  • Aviation Week and Space Technology
  • SpaceX
  • United Launch Alliance
  • Wikipedia

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