Weekly Dose of Space (21/1-27/1)

Weekly Dose of Space (21/1-27/1)


Welcome to Weekly Dose of Space! This week saw four launches worldwide, the passing of a major milestone, and the end of a beloved mission. We'll also look ahead to the next week of launches worldwide.

SpaceX

SpaceX has continued to work towards the third integrated flight test of its Starship-Super Heavy vehicle over the past week, with Super Heavy Booster 12 seen leaving the rocket garden on the 23rd and rolling into one of the 'Mega Bay's' early on the 24th. Also on the 24th Booster 13 was spotted after having its liquid methane tank completed, bringing it almost to full height. Testing of the booster quick disconnect was seen at the launch site on the same day.

The 26th saw Super Heavy Booster 10 receive its hot-staging ring again ahead of flight, hopefully in early February. Late on the 26th Ship 28 was also seen on the move appearing ready for flight! Ship 28 completed its move once it arrived at the rocket garden.

Launches This Week

January 23rd - Kinetica-1 for Flight 3

At 04:03 am, Coordinated Universal Time, a Kinetica-1 rocket lifted off from Launch Area 130 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and flew to a sun-synchronous orbit of the Earth. CAS Space's Kinetica-1 carried five satellites for MINOSPACE. The satellites were; Taijing-1 03, Taijing-2 02 & 04, Taijing-3 02, and Taijing-4 03.

Kinetica-1 lifting off from Launch Area 130 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. ©CAS Space
Kinetica-1 lifting off from Launch Area 130 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. ©CAS Space

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 this week from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base, in California. The rocket was carrying twenty-two satellites to low Earth orbit. The booster for this mission was B1063 making its sixteenth flight and landing on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You' downrange.

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

January 26th - SpaceShipTwo for Galactic 06

Virgin Galactic flew its eleventh successful spaceflight mission carrying four customers onboard to an altitude of 290,000 feet. The customers for this flight of VSS Unity were Lina Borozdina, from Ukraine, Robie Vaughn, from the United States, Franz Haider, from Austria, and Neil Kornswiet, also from the United States.

A photo inside of VSS Unity near the peak of its flight path. ©Virgin Galactic
A photo inside of VSS Unity near the peak of its flight path. ©Virgin Galactic

January 28th - Simorgh with Mahda, Keyhan-2, and Hatef-1

Iran launched three satellites to low Earth orbit from the Imam Khomeini Spaceport. The three satellites were Mahda, a small test satellite, Keyhan-2, an attitude control systems test satellite, and Hatef-1, an internet communications test satellite.

In Other Space News

Ingenuity unable to fly again

A view of Ingenuity's broken blade shadow on the 18th of January 2024. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech
A view of Ingenuity's broken blade shadow on the 18th of January 2024. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech

On the 25th of January, NASA announced that its Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, would no longer fly. The agency believes the blade made contact with the Martian surface causing it to break. Ingenuity has four blades made of carbon fiber to enable flight in Mars' thin atmosphere. This comes after Ingenuity made an emergency landing during its seventy-second flight a few days prior.

Tiangong passes 1000 days in space

The Tiangong Space Station, with Earth in the background. ©China Manned Space Agency
The Tiangong Space Station, with Earth in the background. ©China Manned Space Agency

On the 24th of January, China's Tiangong Space Station surpassed one-thousand days in space after launching the first module in late April of 2021. The space station was constructed in three launches in a little over a year. To date, the space station has been visited by six crews and six cargo spacecraft.

To read more about the TIangong Space Station's life on orbit click here.

ExPace conducts hop test

ExPace's hop test vehicle. ©ExPace
ExPace's hop test vehicle. ©ExPace

Chinese launch provider ExPace became yet another company in China that conducted hop tests of a reusable launch vehicle. ExPace conducted the test on the 26th with the flight lasting for twenty-two seconds. The company believes this short hop test provides a solid foundation to develop a larger liquid oxygen and liquid methane burning rocket.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

SpaceX still believes they will be hardware-ready for the flight by the end of the month. The launch would likely occur in mid-Febraury, pending regulatory approval.

SpaceX is planning to launch more Starlink satellites to expand its space-based internet constellation. This mission is expected to take place from Launch Complex 39A, in Florida.

Another Falcon 9 is expected to launch carrying another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. This mission is expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 4E, in California.

January 30th - Falcon 9 with NG-20

SpaceX is expected to launch the NG-20 mission from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. This will be Northrop Grumman's nineteenth resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Cygnus spacecraft for this mission is S.S. Patricia “Patty” Hilliard Robertson and the booster is expected to be B1077 making its tenth flight.

January 31st - Electron for 'Four Of A Kind'

Rocket Lab is expected to launch an Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1B on the Mahia Peninsula, in New Zealand. Electron will be carrying four satellites to low Earth orbit for NorthStar Earth and Space. The booster of this Electron will also be attempting a recovery after splashing down at sea under a parachute.

February 2nd - Smart Dragon 3 with a to-be-announced payload

A Smart Dragon 3 is expected to launch from a sea launch platform carrying a to-be-announced payload. This is believed to be the second launch of the Smart Dragon 3.

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