Weekly Dose of Space (2/6-8/6)

Weekly Dose of Space (2/6-8/6)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw eight orbital launch attempts worldwide, with one being the flight of the world's largest rocket. This week also saw a major funding round for a new reusable rocket and new Moon rocks being prepared for return. As always, we'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week.

SpaceX

This week at Starbase saw a significant amount of SpaceX's teams preparing for the fourth flight and clearing out hardware from the proximity of the orbital launch site. Over at the Massey's test site on the 3rd, Ship 26 performed a static fire on the newly installed static fire stand, all future Ship firings are expected at Massey's with the recent demolition of the final suborbital pad.

A few days later on June 6th, Ship 29 atop of Booster 11 lifted off from Texas on the fourth flight test at 2:50 pm Universal Coordinated Time, or 07:50 am Central Time. The flight was a major success with the Booster and Ship landing extremely close to their targets.

In the time since the test flight, teams have been spotted investigating and cleaning up the launch site. It's not unlikely that new test vehicles could be tested at the site in the following weeks.

Launches This Week

Kicking off another week of launches was a Falcon 9 launching twenty Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1067 making its twentieth flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'Just Read the Instructions'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 8-5 mission. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 8-5 mission. ©SpaceX

June 5th - Electron for 'PREFIRE And Ice'

Rocket Lab launched NASA's second PREFIRE, Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment, satellite to polar orbit from Launch Complex 1B. The PREFIRE mission consists of two satellites that will measure the Earth's temperatures at each pole.

Electron lifting off from Launch Complex 1B for 'PREFIRE And Ice'. ©Rocket Lab
Electron lifting off from Launch Complex 1B for 'PREFIRE And Ice'. ©Rocket Lab

June 5th - Atlas V with Starliner Crewed Flight Test

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft finally carried its first crew into orbit for its first crewed flight atop of an Atlas V from Space Launch Complex 41. The two crew onboard are Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore. For more about this launch click here.

Atlas V lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 with Starliner. ©Joel Kowsky/NASA
Atlas V lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 with Starliner. ©Joel Kowsky/NASA

June 6th - Ceres-1 with four spacecraft

Galactic Energy launched its third Ceres-1 of 2024 carrying Naxing-3A (纳星三号A星), Naxing-3B (纳星三号B星), TEE-01B (or 地球之眼1号卫星), and Eros into a sun-synchronus orbit. Eros is Galactic Energy's new orbital test platform that can host customer experiments and satellites.

Ceres-1 Y13 lifting off from Launch Area 95 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Ceres-1 Y13 lifting off from Launch Area 95 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

June 6th - Starship-Super Heavy flight four

SpaceX launched its Starship-Super Heavy vehicle for the fourth time on June 6th for its latest test flight. The test flight saw Booster 11 successfully splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico and Ship 29 survive re-entry and splashdown in the Indian Ocean. For more about this mission click here.

Ship 29 and Booster 11 during first-stage flight during the fourth flight test. ©SpaceX
Ship 29 and Booster 11 during first-stage flight during the fourth flight test. ©SpaceX

Another Falcon 9 launched last week carrying twenty-two Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1069 on its sixteenth flight and successfully landing on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' downrange.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 10-1 mission. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for the Starlink Group 10-1 mission. ©SpaceX

Yet another batch of Starlink satellites were launched atop of Falcon 9, this time from Space Launch Complex 4E. The booster for this mission was B1061 making its twenty-first flight and successfully landing downrange on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You'.

Falcon 9 booster B1061 landing on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You' via SpaceX on X.

June 8th - SpaceShipTwo for Galactic 07

Virgin Galactic launched its seventh, and final, commercial suborbital spaceflight mission using VSS Unity. The mission had four passengers and two crew fly into space on a brief hop.

VMS Eve taking off carrying VSS Unity ahead of its suborbital flight via Virgin Galactic on X.

In Other Space News

Chang'e 6 Moon rocks prepared for return!

An image of the surface of the Moon's far side captured by the panoramic camera on the lander of Chang'e-6 probe. ©CNSA
An image of the surface of the Moon's far side captured by the panoramic camera on the lander of Chang'e-6 probe. ©CNSA

China's Chang'e 6 lunar far-side surface sample return mission has been busy on the far side of the Moon since landing last week. Not long after its initial landing the lander began drilling for surface samples in the Southern side of the Apollo Basin.

On June 3rd the ascender of Chang'e 6 blasted off from the surface with potentially up to 2,000 grams of samples onboard. The ascender spent until June 6th approaching the Chang'e 6 orbiter.

After docking on the 6th, the ascender passed the samples into the return capsule, currently housed inside the orbiter. With the docking and handover in lunar orbit, the samples are expected to return to Earth in late June.

Space Pioneer raises 1.5 billion Yuan in new funding

The first-stage of Tianlong-3 undergoing hardware installation. ©Space Pioneer
The first-stage of Tianlong-3 undergoing hardware installation. ©Space Pioneer

Space Pioneer announced on June 6th that it had received 1.5 billion Yuan Renminbi, approximately 207 million United States Dollars, as part of a C+ funding round. The new funding will reportedly be used to increase production capacity for its in-development partially reusable Tianlong-3 rocket, which is expected to make its debut flight later this year.

Also according to the company, this was the fifteenth time it has raised funds from investors for a total of 4 billion Yuan Renminbi, approximately 552 million United States Dollars. With this funding, Space Pioneer is hoping to increase its production capacity for up to thirty launches per year of Tianlong-3 by the end of 2025.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

After this week's launch, SpaceX's teams at Starbase will be performing clean-up and inspections of the launch site ahead of testing of new vehicles for the fifth flight test. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will also decide if the mishap investigation needs to be closed ahead of a fifth flight, this is in case debris fell outside of designated areas on the last flight.

SpaceX is believed to be targeting June 12th for the launch of the Starlink Group 10-2 atop of a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster and drone ship for this mission are currently unknown.

SpaceX is also believed to be targeting June 14th for the launch of the Starlink Group 9-1 atop of a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 4E. The booster and drone ship for this mission are also currently unknown.

June 15th - Falcon 9 with Astra 1P/SES-24

A Falcon 9 is believed to be targeting launch on the 15th carrying the Astra 1P/SES-24 satellites to a geostationary transfer orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission is currently unknown.

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