Weekly Dose of Space (24/3-30/3)

Weekly Dose of Space (24/3-30/3)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw four launches worldwide, with three being from SpaceX. This week saw follow-up news for Queqiao-2 along with two major space agencies looking at collaboration. As always, we'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week too.

SpaceX

This week at Starbase saw Ship 29 perform two static fires. The first was on the 25th when it fired all six of its engines. The second static fire occurred a few days later on the 27th when it fired a single engine.

Other than Ship 29s static fires, activity at Starbase is the same as last week with work continuing at the launch tower. Work is still continuing on 'Starfactory' as well as it has been for months.

Launches This Week

SpaceX has started the launches for yet another week carrying a batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit atop of its Falcon 9 rocket. The launch occurred from Space Launch Complex 40, in Florida, with the booster being B1078 on its eighth flight with it landing successfully on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' downrange.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 with Starlink Group 6-46. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 with Starlink Group 6-46. ©SpaceX

March 26th - Long March 6A with Yunhai 3-02

China launched a Long March 6A from Launch Complex 9A at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, located in northern China. The rocket was carrying the Yunhai 3-02 satellite to a sun-synchronous orbit. For more about the Long March 6A and the Yunhai 3-02 satellite click here.

The Long March 6A lifting off from Launch Complex 9A at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center with Yunhai 3-02.
The Long March 6A lifting off from Launch Complex 9A at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center with Yunhai 3-02.

March 30th - Falcon 9 with Eutelsat 36D

Another Falcon 9 launched during the week, this time carrying Eutelsat 36D to a geostationary transfer orbit from Space Launch Complex 39A, in Florida. Eutelsat 36D is a telecommunications satellite planning to provide services for parts of Africa, Europe, and Russia. The booster for this mission was B1076 making its twelfth flight and landing successfully downrange on the drone ship 'Just Read The Instructions'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Launch Complex 39A with Eutelsat 36D. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Launch Complex 39A with Eutelsat 36D. ©SpaceX

SpaceX also launched yet another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40, in Florida. The booster for this mission was B1067 making its eighteenth flight with it landing on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' downrange.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 with Starlink Group 6-45. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 with Starlink Group 6-45. ©SpaceX

March 31st - Soyuz 2.1b with Resures-P No. 4

A Soyuz 2.1b launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying a Resurs-P to a sun-synchronus orbit. The satellite is believed to be a commercial Earth observation satellite.

In Other Space News

Queqiao-2 enters lunar orbit!

Queqiao-2 during integration to the payload adapter of the Long March 8 Y3 vehicle.
Queqiao-2 during integration to the payload adapter of the Long March 8 Y3 vehicle.

On the 25th of March, China's second lunar relay satellite entered lunar orbit after spending almost four days heading toward the Moon. The orbit it entered lunar orbit with is not its final orbit. Queqiao-2 will maneuver into its operational orbit to support the Chang'e 4 and Chang'e 6 missions before the end of April.

The Tiandu-1 also entered lunar orbit on the same day, with the Tiandu-2 satellite still attached. These two satellites will prove technologies for a lunar positioning and communications relay.

ISRO and ESA looking at further cooperation

Chairman of ISRO S. Somanath and ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher ©ESA
Chairman of ISRO S. Somanath and ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher ©ESA

The Indian Space Research Organisation and the European Space Agency are reportedly looking at further cooperation after the heads of both agencies held talks. On the 27th the European Space Agency Council also received a presentation from the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation which according to the Director General of the European Space Agency:

"Opened our eyes, first of all, to what is happening in India”

Neither agency has shared what the two agencies would cooperate on but this announcement comes not long after India joined the Artemis accords.

U.S. Military satellite to be serviced in 2025

A render of a robotic servicing mission to attach a new sensor to a U.S. military satellite. ©Katalyst Space Technologies
A render of a robotic servicing mission to attach a new sensor to a U.S. military satellite. ©Katalyst Space Technologies

Reported by Space News on the 27th, a servicing spacecraft will attempt a rendezvous with a military and attach a new imaging sensor to the spacecraft. The mission is slated for 2025 and will occur near geostationary orbit.

The mission will be overseen by the Defense Innovation Unit. The spacecraft will reportedly be built by Northrop Grumman, with Motiv Space providing robotics support, and Katalyst Space Technologies providing the imaging sensor.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

As scaffolding is still present on the launch mount, its unlikely we will see Booster 11 performing a static fire for flight four of Starship-Super Heavy. Testing on later flight vehicles may occur in the meantime however.

With current hardware readiness, the 'long pole' item for flight four is likely still regulatory approval.

April 1st - Delta IV Heavy with NROL-70

United Launch Alliance is expected to launch a classified satellite to an unknown orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office. This will also be the final flight of the Delta IV Heavy ever. The launch is expected to occur from Space Launch Complex 37B, in Florida.

April 2nd - Long March 2C with a to-be-announced payload

A Long March 2C is believed to launch from China carrying a to-be-announced payload. The launch is expected to occur from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

SpaceX is expected to launch a batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E atop of a Falcon 9. The booster is unknown but is expected to land downrange on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You'.

SpaceX is believed to be launching another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit atop of Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster is unknown but is believed to be landing downrange on a drone ship.

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