2007 in spaceflight

2007 in spaceflight
ISRO-SCRE-1-Spacecraft-1.jpg
SRE-1, the first Indian recovered spacecraft, on public display at Thiruvananthapuram
Orbital launches
First 10 January
Last 25 December
Total 68
Successes 63
Failures 3
Partial failures 2
Catalogued 65
National firsts
Satellite   Colombia
  Mauritius
Space traveller   Malaysia
Rockets
Maiden flights Atlas V 421
Long March 3B/E
Proton-M Enhanced
PSLV-CA
Shavit-2
Zenit-2M
Retirements H-IIA 2022
Manned flights
Orbital 5
Total travellers 27

The year 2007 contained several significant events in spaceflight, including a Chinese ASAT test, the launches of the US Phoenix and Dawn missions to study Mars and Asteroid belt respectively, Japan's Kaguya Lunar orbiter, and the first Chinese Lunar probe, Chang'e 1.

The internationally accepted definition of a spaceflight is any flight which crosses the Kármán line, 100 kilometres above sea level. The first recorded spaceflight launch of the year occurred on 10 January, when a PSLV, launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, placed four spacecraft into low Earth orbit. One of these spacecraft was SRE-1, which returned to Earth twelve days later, in the first Indian attempt to recover a satellite after re-entry.

Several carrier rockets made their maiden flights in 2007; the PSLV-CA, Long March 3B/E, Shavit-2, Zenit-2M, Proton-M Enhanced. These were all modernised or upgraded versions of existing systems. The RS-24 missile also conducted its first launch, and the Atlas V made its first flight in the 421 configuration. The first Colombian and Mauritian satellites, Libertad 1 and Rascom-QAF 1 respectively, were launched in 2007, although a helium leak reduced Rascom's operational lifetime by thirteen years.

Space exploration

The launch of a Delta II Heavy with the Dawn spacecraft.

Several spacecraft were launched to explore the Moon. Japan's Kaguya orbiter, along with the smaller Okina and Ouna relay spacecraft, was launched on 14 September. The spacecraft entered Selenocentric orbit on 3 October. China launched its first Lunar probe, Chang'e 1, on 24 October, with the spacecraft entering Selenocentric orbit on 5 November. In 2009, two satellites launched into highly elliptical Earth orbits in 2007 as part of the THEMIS mission were also sent to the Moon. They are expected to arrive in October 2010.

In August, the NASA Phoenix spacecraft was launched towards Mars, followed by the Dawn mission to the Asteroid belt in September. Cassini continued to make flybys of the moons of Saturn, mostly focussing on Titan. In November, Rosetta flew past Earth, where it was mistaken for an asteroid, and given the provisional designation 2007 VN84.