Weekly Dose of Space (12/5-18/5)

Weekly Dose of Space (12/5-18/5)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw five launches worldwide, four orbital and one sub-orbital. This week also saw more countries joining agreements for deep space exploration. As always, we'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week.

SpaceX

Late last week at Starbase Ship 29 arrived at the launch site where it was parked next to Booster 11, which is on the orbital launch mount. Also on the 12th, Ship 31 was conducting tests at the Massey's test site where an anomaly occurred, it's unknown what it was but the Ship was emptied of fuels shortly after with it taking a few hours.

On the 14th, Ship 29 was moved away from the orbital launch mount where teams were spotted inspecting the vehicle, it is unknown what they were looking for. Late on the 14th, Ship 31 was moved back to the production site from the Massey's test site, likely for repairs and a thorough investigation.

In the early hours of the 15th, Ship 29 was moved back next to the orbital launch mount and into the 'chopsticks'. Ship 29 was later lifted onto Booster 11 shortly after. The same day, flight termination system explosives were delivered to Starbase where they were moved into the designated, and isolated, storage. The 16th saw Booster 11 and Ship 29 conduct a tanking test ahead of a full wet dress rehearsal in the future.

Ship 29 being lifted onto Booster 11. ©SpaceX
Ship 29 being lifted onto Booster 11. ©SpaceX

Launches This Week

SpaceX kicked off another week of launches with Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 carrying twenty-three Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. The booster for this mission was B1073 making its fifteenth flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' successfully.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 6-58. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 6-58. ©SpaceX

SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 last week with Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E carrying twenty Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. The booster for this mission was B1063 making its eighteenth flight and successfully landing on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You' downrange.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E for the Starlink Group 8-7. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E for the Starlink Group 8-7. ©SpaceX

May 16th - Soyuz 2.1b with Kosmos 2576

Russia launched a Soyuz 2.1b from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The Soyuz 2.1b with a Fregat-M upper-stage placed the Kosmos 2576 satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit.

SpaceX launched a third Falcon 9 this week with it lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 carrying wenty-three Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. The booster for this mission was B1062 making its 21st flight, a new record for a booster, and successfully landing downrange on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 6-59. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 6-59. ©SpaceX

May 19th - New Shepard with NS-25

Blue Origin returned New Shepard to crewed flights on the 19th when the NS-25 lifted off in West Texas carrying the six-person crew above the Kármán line. Onboard were Ed Dwight, Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth Hess, Carol Schaller, and Gopi Thotakura.

New Shepard lifting off for the NS-25 mission. ©Blue Origin
New Shepard lifting off for the NS-25 mission. ©Blue Origin

In Other Space News

Lituania joins the Artemis Accords

Lithuanian Minister of Economy and Innovation, Aušrinė Armonaitė, (center) signing the Artemis Accords with United States Ambassador, Kara C. McDonald, (left) present. ©Lithuanian Innovation Agency
Lithuanian Minister of Economy and Innovation, Aušrinė Armonaitė, (center) signing the Artemis Accords with United States Ambassador, Kara C. McDonald, (left) present. ©Lithuanian Innovation Agency

Lituania has become the latest, and fortieth, country to sign onto the American-led Artemis Accords. The country signed onto the accords on May 15th at the Radisson Blu Lietuva hotel in Vilnius, located in Lithuania.

Aušrinė Armonaitė, Lithuanian Minister of Economy and Innovation, commented on the signing saying:

“The Lithuanian space sector has been growing steadily, with our innovative companies working in this field making significant strides,” – “The Artemis Accords mark a new chapter and chart a course for future space exploration, underscoring our commitment to a responsible, sustainable, and cooperative presence in space.”

The Artemis Accords were established in 2020 by NASA and the U.S. Department of State along with seven other countries.

Serbia joins the ILRS

Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, and Xi Jinping (习近平), President of the People's Republic of China in 2017. ©Getty Images
Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, and Xi Jinping (习近平), President of the People's Republic of China in 2017. ©Getty Images

On May 10th, Serbia became the newest country to sign onto the Chinese-led International Lunar Research Station. This was done by Serbia’s Ministry of Science, Technological Development, and Innovation who signed a memorandum of understanding with the China National Space Administration on cooperation for the International Lunar Research Station.

Serbia is the fourteenth country to join the International Research Station. The other members are: Nicaragua, Turkey, Kenya, Ethiopia, Thailand, Egypt, Belarus, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Russia, and China.

The signatories part of the International Lunar Research Station will aim to build and maintain a scientific experiment facility on the lunar surface that will be visited by robotic spacecraft and people. The robotic stage of the station is expected to start with Chang'e 7 in 2026, with the crewed stage currently expected to start around 2035.

Ed Dwight finally reaches space!

The crew of the NS-25 mission: (from left to right) Gopi Thotakura, Carol Schaller, Ed Dwight, Sylvain Chiron, Mason Angel, and Ken Hess. ©Blue Origin
The crew of the NS-25 mission: (from left to right) Gopi Thotakura, Carol Schaller, Ed Dwight, Sylvain Chiron, Mason Angel, and Ken Hess. ©Blue Origin

Edward Joseph Dwight Jr., better known as Ed Dwight, has finally flown to space on May 19th 2024 after waiting sixty years to do so. Ed had previously trained as an astronaut in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s and applied as a NASA astronaut but never flew due to political reasons.

In the time between leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1966, with the rank of Captain, and his flight on New Shepard he has created over 129 memorial sculptures and 18,000 gallery pieces.

His flight on New Shepard also made him the oldest person to pass the Kármán line at age 90.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

With Ship 29 and Booster 11 stacked at the launch site, and having completed a tanking test, it is likely we could see a wet dress rehearsal very soon. This is one of the last tests ahead of the fourth flight. SpaceX still believes that they can launch the fourth flight test of Starship-Super Heavy this month but they are still going through the process of a mishap investigation into the previous flight with the Federal Aviation Administration.

May 21st - Kuaizhou-11 with a to-be-announced payload

ExPace is currently believed to be launching a Kuaizhou-11 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center carrying an unknown payload into orbit.

May 21st - Falcon 9 with NROL-146

SpaceX is expected to launch a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 4E carrying a reconnaissance satellite to a currently unknown orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

May 22nd - Electron for 'Ready, Aim, PREFIRE'

Rocket Lab is expected to launch an Electron from Launch Complex 1B carrying one of NASAs Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment satellites to a polar orbit.

Another Falcon 9 is expected to launch next week with it expected to carry another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster is currently unknown but it is believed to be aiming to land on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' downrange.

May 25th - Atlas V with Starliner Crewed Flight Test

United Launch Alliance is expected to launch Boeing's Starliner spacecraft into low Earth orbit carrying astronauts Barry Wilmore and Suni Williams onboard. The mission is the first crewed test flight of the Starliner spacecraft, and its second trip to the space station.

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