Weekly Dose of Space (1/7-6/7)

Weekly Dose of Space (1/7-6/7)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw four orbital launches occur, with a fifty-fifty split between Asia and North America. This week also saw another country join the International Lunar Research Station and SpaceX win yet another launch contract. As always, we'll also look ahead to the worldwide launch schedule for next week.

SpaceX

This week at Starbase started on July 1st when Ship 31 was rolled out to the Massey's test site, after being inspected and repaired following its small fire a few weeks ago. Hardware was also spotted being installed on tower sections for the second orbital launch tower on the 1st, this includes plumbing for fuelling Starship and electrical lines. Teams were also seen repairing the ship quick disconnect arm's supports and continuing work on the base of the second orbital launch tower.

A few days later in the early hours of the 3rd of July, the first tower segment, for the launch second tower, was moved next to the base of the tower. Ship 31 was also spotted undergoing what is believed to have been two cryo-proofing tests on the 3rd at Massey's. Ship 31 is believed to have passed these two tests as it returned to the production site on 6th.

Launches This Week

July 1st - H3 with ALOS-4

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries launched Japan's third H3 rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center carrying the ALOS-4, Advanced Land Observing Satellite-4, satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit. ALOS-4 will observe the Earth below using a phased array L-band synthetic aperture radar.

The H3 rocket lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Center for its third mission. ©JAXA
The H3 rocket lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Center for its third mission. ©JAXA

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40, in Florida, carrying twenty Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. The booster for this mission was B0173, flying for the sixteenth time, which landed downrange on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 8-9 mission. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 8-9 mission. ©SpaceX

July 4th - Firefly Alpha for 'Noise of Summer'

Firefly Aerospace launched its Alpha rocket from Space Launch Complex 2W, in California, to a sun-synchronus orbit. Alpha carried eight satellites into orbit as part of NASA's ELaNa 43 program. For more about this mission click here.

Firefly Aerospace celebrating the U.S. Independence Day holiday on X with imagery from its 'Noise of Summer' mission.

July 4th - Long March 6A with Tianhui-5 Group 02

A Long March 6A, which had a stretched 4.2-meter diameter fairing, lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center carrying two satellites to a sun-synchronous orbit as part of the second group of Tianhui-5 satellites. The two satellites are expected to be used for geographic mapping, land resources surveys, and scientific experiments.

The Long March 6A Y7 vehicle lifting off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
The Long March 6A Y7 vehicle lifting off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

In Other Space News

Kazakhstan joins the ILRS

An artistic render of the International Lunar Research Station. ©China National Space Administration/China Central Television.
An artistic render of the International Lunar Research Station. ©China National Space Administration/China Central Television.

Kazakhstan has become the latest country to join the International Lunar Research Station, a China-led endeavor to establish a crewed base on the lunar surface to perform research and science. Kazakhstan is the twelfth country to sign onto the lunar station agreement, joining Venezuela, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Russia, Belarus, Egypt, Thailand, Nicaragua, Serbia, and China.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs published the joint statement of the two countries with both countries saying:

“Two sides support exchanges and cooperation between the two countries’ aerospace agencies and enterprises in the peaceful use of outer space, promote mutually beneficial cooperation in the Moon and deep space, and reception and exchange of remote sensing data.” 

The memorandum of cooperation for the International Lunar Research Station was one of thirty documents signed between the two nations. These documents were signed during a visit by China's President, Xi Jinping.

SpaceX to launch COSI in 2027

A render of the Compton Spectrometer and Imager spacecraft. ©Jim Willis/Northrop Grumman/European Southern Observatory
A render of the Compton Spectrometer and Imager spacecraft. ©Jim Willis/Northrop Grumman/European Southern Observatory

NASA announced on July 2nd that it had selected SpaceX's Falcon 9 as the launch vehicle for its Compton Spectrometer and Imager, COSI, spacecraft small explorer-class mission no earlier than August of 2027. The launch of the spacecraft will cost the agency sixty-nine million United States Dollars for Falcon 9 to carry it to low Earth orbit.

The COSI spacecraft is expected to study gamma rays, uncover nucleosynthesis sites in the galaxy, and search for the origins of positrons. COSI is also part of NASA's Small Explorers, or SMEX, program, which are science missions that are not expected to cost the agency over one-hundred and twenty million United States Dollars.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

SpaceX is still believed to be targeting a launch this month, July, for the fifth flight test of Starship-Super Heavy. However, due to some changes to the flight plan, notable a potential tower catch of a Super Heavy booster, they are still awaiting regulatory approval.

July 8th - Falcon 9 with Türksat 6A

A Falcon 9 is expected to liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 carrying the Türksat 6A satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit. The spacecraft is expected to provide communications services to Türkiye, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Indonesia.

SpaceX is expected to launch another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E, in California. The booster for this mission is currently unknown but it is expected to land downrange on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You'.

July 9th - Ariane 6 for its maiden flight

Arianespace is finally expected to launch its Ariane 6 launch vehicle on its first flight. The launch is expected to occur from Ariane Launch Area 4 at the Guiana Space Center.

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