Weekly Dose of Space (18/2-24/2)

Weekly Dose of Space (18/2-24/2)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! The last week in space saw four launches worldwide and a big Moon mission news. SpaceX has also continued to make good progress ahead of Starship-Super Heavy's third flight. We'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week.

SpaceX

SpaceX started the week at Starbase on the 19th with Ship 28 being moved from the launch tower to sub-orbital Pad B at the launch site. Later the same day four tower segments from Florida arrived ahead of the construction of a second launch tower at Starbase. A few hours into the night, Booster 10 was also lifted off of the orbital launch mount.

On the 20th, a truck delivered explosives to the launch site where SpaceX teams quickly took them to the bunker. The explosives are likely for the flight termination system in the event of a failure with Starship-Super Heavy's third flight. The 20th also saw Booster 10 being rolled back to the production site and lifted onto a work stand.

On the 23rd, workers were seen making modifications to the 'chopsticks' lifting pins after having removed the old ones earlier. Ship 28 was also seen with a livery painted onto the vehicle.

Launches This Week

February 18th - Electron for 'On Closer Inspection'

Rocket Lab launched an Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1B in the Māhia Peninsula, in New Zealand. The rocket was carrying the ADRAS-J on behalf of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Astroscale. The ADRAS-J satellite plans to rendezvous and approach a piece of orbital debris to demonstrate a safe and secure approach.

Electron during first stage flight for 'On Closer Inspection'. ©Rocket Lab
Electron during first stage flight for 'On Closer Inspection'. ©Rocket Lab

February 20th - Falcon 9 with HTS-113BT

A Falcon 9 launched from Space Launch Complex 40 carrying the HTS-113BT telecommunications satellites for PT Telkom Satelit Indonesia. The booster for the mission was B1067 making its seventeenth flight and landing on the drone ship 'Just Read The Instructions' downrange.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40. ©SpaceX

Another Falcon 9 launched carrying another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. The mission occurred from Space Launch Complex 4E with the booster for the mission, B1061, making its nineteenth flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E. ©SpaceX

February 23rd - Long March 5 with TJS No. 11

A Long March 5 lifted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Site, for the rocket's seventh mission. The rocket was carrying what is believed to be TJS satellite No. 11 toward a geostationary transfer orbit.

A Long March 5 lifting off from the Wenchang Space Launch Site.
A Long March 5 lifting off from the Wenchang Space Launch Site.

In Other Space News

Pallas-1 completes testing for launch campaign

Pallas-1 inside an assembly building. ©Galactic Energy
Pallas-1 inside an assembly building. ©Galactic Energy

Galactic Energy has recently reported that its Pallas-1 rocket has successfully completed a 'semi-physical simulation test of the Pallas-1 liquid reusable launch vehicle control system' ahead of its launch in a few months.

The test proved that the rockets' servo mechanisms and 'stability systems' worked as intended. This test is believed to have verified both systems for flight.

Pallas-1 is Galactic-Energy's in-development medium-lift partially reusable launch vehicle. The company currently plans to have the rocket launch from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center and Wenchang Space Launch Site.

Hardware for the third Long March 8 arrives

A container housing hardware for the Long March 8 being unloaded in Hainan. ©China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
A container housing hardware for the Long March 8 being unloaded in Hainan. ©China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology

Hardware for flight three of the Long March 8 has arrived in the province of Hainan, where the Wenchang Space Launch Site is located, ahead of the planned launch on the 18th of March.

The rocket is currently expected to carry the Queqiao-2 relay satellite as its primary payload to a trans-lunar injection as well as two small satellites, Tiandu-1 & Tiandu-2.

It is also believed that this will be the first mission from Hainan Commercial Launch Pad 1, located at the Wenchang Space Launch Site.

Nova-C lands on the Moon... but falls over

A view from Nova-C in lunar orbit before its landing. ©Intuitive Machines
A view from Nova-C in lunar orbit before its landing. ©Intuitive Machines

The Nova-C landed on the lunar surface on the 22nd of February, being the first mission from the United States to do so in fifty-two years. A day after the landing, Intuivie Machines shared that they believed the lander had fallen onto its side after its lateral motion was faster than desired.

The lander is believed to have fallen on the side housing the 'Moon Phase' artwork and is not impacting any experiments onboard. Before landing the spacecraft's laser rangefinders were not working but managed to issue a software patch to use data from NASA's Navigation Doppler Lidar instrument instead to complete the mission.

The company is still yet to share images from the Moon but are receiving signals from the spacecraft, believing that the signals are weaker than desired due to some of the antenna's pointing in the wrong direction. Intuitive Machines believes that they can fix these issues before the lunar night in a little over a week.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

SpaceX is believed to be confident about a launch for Starship-Super Heavy likely in March. It's believed Ship 28 and Super Heavy Booster 10 have completed almost all of their testing campaigns, both are expected to do a 'wet dress rehearsal' soon. Currently, SpaceX is still waiting on regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

SpaceX is currently planning to launch twenty-four Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission is believed to be B1069 making its thirteenth flight.

A Falcon 9 is expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 to deliver another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit.

February 29th - Soyuz 2.1a with Meteor-M No. 2-4

A Soyuz 2.1a is expected to launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome carrying three Meteor-M satellites to a sun-synchronus orbit.

February 29th - Long March 3B/E with a to-be-announced payload

A Long March 3B/E is expected to launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The payload is unknown at this time.

March 1st - Falcon 9 with Crew-8

SpaceX is expected to launch the Crew-8 mission for NASA, carrying Matthew Dominick, Michael Barrat, Jeanette Epps, and Alexander Grebenkin to the International Space Station.

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