Next Launch:

PENDINGLaunch Time

United States of America
United States of America
Date: October 2023
Time: not yet determined

This goes

to space

SARah 2 & 3

SARah-2 and -3

The SARah-2 and -3 satellites form the second component of the SARah system. These satellites will be based on the reflector-antenna technology of the SAR-Lupe satellites. They will fly in formation with SARah-1.

In July 2013, OHB System AG of Bremen, Germany signed a contract with Germany’s defense procurement agency (BAAINBw) to develop the SARah (Satellite-based Radar Reconnaissance System).

The plans call for an operation of the system in late 2019. The second generation satellite constellation of three spacecraft, two provided by OHB System AG and one by Airbus DS (former Astrium GmbH), will replace the current SAR-Lupe constellation of five spacecraft, and will be delivered to orbit by two Falcon 9 rockets of SpaceX. 1) 2)

Thanks to the SAR-Lupe system, the Federal Republic of Germany has had capabilities of an international standard in global satellite-based radar reconnaissance since 2007. Developed and built by OHB System AG, the system comprises five satellites and a ground station. It was delivered to the customer at the end of 2008 and has been operating reliably and successfully with the involvement of OHB System AG since then.

The contract governing the operation of SAR-Lupe expires in November 2017. In order to maintain its reconnaissance capabilities in the future, the Federal Republic of Germany is now planning the SARah follow-up system, which will be even more effective.

SARah will have a different architecture to SAR-Lupe with only three satellites in the space segment and two instead of one ground stations. Two of the three satellites will be based on the reflector technology which was developed for and has proven itself with SAR-Lupe and will be enhanced for SARah. It will be supplemented with a third satellite, which is a further development of the phased array technology developed by Astrium GmbH, which has also already proven itself in space and is currently being used on the civil satellite twins TerraSAR-X and Tandem-X. By linking these two radar technologies it will be possible to substantially enhance the efficiency of the overall system.

Under the contract signed, OHB System AG will be responsible for implementing the entire system as a prime contractor. In addition, OHB will be supplying the two reflector satellites and the main elements of the ground segment comprising the two ground stations. Under a subcontract, Astrium GmbH will be supplying the phased-array satellite and the related special functions for the ground segment.


The Airbus-built "SARah-1" Earth observation satellite, under subcontract to OHB System AG, has been transported from Friedrichshafen, Germany, to Vandenberg, California, USA, and is currently being prepared for launch in June 2022 and subsequent operation by Airbus in space. 3)

SARah is a new operational reconnaissance system consisting of several satellites and a ground segment, which was developed on behalf of the German Bundeswehr. As the successor system, it replaces the SAR-Lupe system currently in service and offers significantly enhanced capabilities and system performance.

Overall responsibility for the complete SARah system lies with OHB System AG, Bremen, as prime contractor, which holds the main contract from the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). Airbus is the main subcontractor. The architecture of the overall SARah system consists of a space segment with three radar satellites (2 x OHB, 1 x Airbus) and a ground segment connected to two ground stations.

Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen developed the satellite with the latest, highest-resolution radar technology as well as jointly developing the ground segment to operate its own satellite. The company is also responsible for the launch, calibration and validation of the radar satellite, with final in-orbit delivery.

The radar instrument developed and built by Airbus features a sophisticated active phased array antenna and represents a further development of the Airbus-built TerraSAR, TanDEM-X and PAZ Earth observation satellites already successfully operating in orbit. This technology offers the advantages of very fast pointing and very flexible shaping of the antenna beam to deliver imagery in record time.

In general, radar satellites, with both passive and active antenna technology, allow observation of the Earth's surface regardless of the time of day or weather conditions.

Caption courtesy of ESA

Image courtesy of Astrium

On this


Falcon 9 (Block 5)

Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.

Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket.


Total launches: 258

Total landings: 216

Total reflights: 191

The Falcon 9 has launched 42 humans into orbit since May 2020


Height: 70 m / 229.6 ft

Diameter: 3.7 m / 12 ft

Mass: 549,054 kg / 1,207,920 lb

Payload to LEO: 22,800 kg / 50,265 lb

Payload to GTO: 8,300 kg / 18,300 lb

Payload to Mars: 4,020 kg / 8,860 lb

On January 24, 2021, Falcon 9 launched the first ride-share mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit. It was delivering a record-setting 143 satellites to space. And while this was an important mission for SpaceX in itself, it was also the moment Falcon 9 overtook United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V for the total number of consecutive successful launches.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had become America’s workhorse rocket, launching 31 times in 2021. It has already beaten that record this year, launching almost an average of once a week. While most of the launches deliver Starlink satellites to orbit, the company is still launching the most commercial payloads to orbit, too.

Falcon 9 is a medium-lift launch vehicle, with the capability to launch over 22.8 metric tonnes to low earth orbit. Unlike any other rocket, its first stage lands back on Earth after separating from its second stage. In part, this allows SpaceX to offer the cheapest option for most customers with payloads that need to reach orbit.

Under its ride-share program, a kilogram can be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit for a mere 1.1 million dollars, far cheaper than all other currently operating small satellite launch vehicles.

The reusability and fast booster turnaround times have made Falcon 9 the preferred choice for private companies and government agencies. This has allowed SpaceX to capture a huge portion of the launch market.

Image: Erik Kuna for Supercluster

From this

launch site

SLC-4E - Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
November 1, 2023

Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base is SpaceX’s west coast launch and landing facility. The launch pad is named SLC-4E (as it is the eastern-most of the two areas).

Originally built in the early 1960s for Atlas-Agena rockets, SLC-4E served that rocket line until 1967, when it was taken offline and then rebuilt for the Titan IIID rockets.

It launched the Titan IIID from 1971 to 1988, after which it was reconfigured and used for the Titan IV between 1991 and 2005.

SpaceX leased SLC-4E in 2011 and spent two years rebuilding the pad for the Falcon 9 rocket.

The pad exclusively launched Falcon 9 polar missions from 2013 to 2019.  However, in 2020, SpaceX began splitting those launches between Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral after the Air Force agreed to allow polar launches from Florida after a 51 year ban (because of the then-dangers of overflying Cuba during launch).

Despite new launch opportunities from Florida, SpaceX is not abandoning Vandenberg; many more launches are planned from this location.

Photo: Pauline Acalin

Booster lands


Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) - Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
November 1, 2023

Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) is SpaceX’s only west coast landing pad for the Falcon 9 first stage.

Activated in 2018, the landing pad is built on the former SLC-4W launch pad.

SLC-4W was built just 427 meters (1,400 feet) from SLC-4E for the Atlas-Agena rockets between 1963 and 1965.  After that, it was rebuilt for the Titan IIIB rocket and used for that program from 1966 to 1987.

With the Titan IIIB’s retirement, the pad was reconfigured for the Titan 23G rocket between 1988 and 2003.

SpaceX leased SLC-4W in 2015 and renamed it Landing Zone 4 and created a landing pad for the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage.

The first Return To Launch Site landing of a Falcon 9 to Landing Zone 4 took place on October 7th, 2018.

Image: Pauline Acalin for Supercluster

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