Weekly Dose of Space (25/2-2/3)

Weekly Dose of Space (25/2-2/3)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw four launches take place worldwide and a plethora of human spaceflight news. SpaceX is believed to be closing in on preparations for its third flight of the Starship-Super Heavy vehicle. We'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week.

SpaceX

This week at Starbase started with the SpaceX teams moving Ship 29 into the 'high bay' for hardware installation for flight four of Starship-Super Heavy. The 26th saw Ship 28 perform a 'spin prime' test on sub-orbital Pad B. The launch tower was also seen venting during the test.

A few days later on the 28th Super Heavy Booster 10 rolled from the production site to the launch site where it was later stacked during the day. Ship 28 was also removed from sub-orbital Pad B and moved next to the launch tower on the 29th. A few hours later Ship 29 was moved to the launch site and onto sub-orbital Pad B.

The 1st of March had Ship 28 stacked atop of Booster 10 once again. Later on, Ship 29 was moved next to the orbital launch mount, we don't know why but this is likely for a photo shoot as no testing of Ship 29 can be done in its current location. A test of the booster quick disconnect was also done on the 1st.

Overnight on the 2nd, Ship 29 was moved back onto sub-orbital Pad B to undergo testing.

Launches This Week

SpaceX launched twenty-four Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1069 making its thirteenth flight and landing on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' downrange.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for Starlink Group 6-39. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for Starlink Group 6-39. ©SpaceX

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

A Soyuz 2.1b lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome carrying Meteor-M No. 2-4 to a sun-synchronus orbit. The satellites SITRO-AIS 13-28, Zorkiy-2M-2, and Pars 1 were also onboard. Pars 1 is believed to be a satellite from Iran.

A Soyuz 2.1b lifting off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. ©Roscosmos/RussianSpaceWeb
A Soyuz 2.1b lifting off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. ©Roscosmos/RussianSpaceWeb

February 29th - Long March 3B/E with WHG-01

Also on the 29th, a Long March 3B/E took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center headed towards a geostationary transfer orbit carrying the WHG-01 satellite. The WHG-01 satellite is believed to be an internet satellite, as of writing it's unclear if the satellite will maneuver itself into a higher orbit.

The Long March 3B/E Y95 rocket lifting off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. ©Xiao Xinjiang/China Central Television
The Long March 3B/E Y95 rocket lifting off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. ©Xiao Xinjiang/China Central Television

The last launch of the month was a Falcon 9 carrying twenty-three Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1076 making its eleventh flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'Just Read The Instructions'.

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

In Other Space News

Shenzhou-17 crew completes second spacewalk

The two taikonauts working on the exterior of the Tiangong Space Station. ©Xinhua/China Manned Space Agency
The two taikonauts working on the exterior of the Tiangong Space Station. ©Xinhua/China Manned Space Agency

As part of the ongoing Shenzhou-17 mission, Tang Hongbo and Jiang Xinlin conducted a spacewalk outside of the Tiangong Space Station to perform maintenance to the solar panels on the Tianhe module. Tang Shengjie supported the crew during the spacewalk from inside of the space station.

The spacewalk is believed to have started at approximately 05:00 am Beijing time on the 2nd of March and concluded after 13:32 pm.

The two spacewalkers also inspected the three modules at the station as part of their tasks. The spacewalk is believed to have lasted eight hours.

This is also believed to have been the first time that a crew aboard the Tiangong Space Station have conducted external maintenance on the station.

India reveals its first astronauts!

India's astronauts at a training facility in Russia, from left to right: Shubhanshu Shukla, Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Ajit Krishnan, and Angad Pratap. ©ISRO
India's astronauts at a training facility in Russia, from left to right: Shubhanshu Shukla, Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Ajit Krishnan, and Angad Pratap. ©ISRO

India revealed its first astronauts on the 27th after training their chosen four for the first few Gaganyaan missions over the past year. The astronauts are Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla.

It's unknown who of the four will fly first as India has also bought a seat on the Ax-4 mission to the International Space Station. India's own crewed spacecraft is planned to fly in 2025 with a capacity to carry three crew members.

Tang Hongbo breaks China's human space record!

Official photo of Tang Hongbo for the Shenzhou 17 mission. ©China Manned Space Agency
Official photo of Tang Hongbo for the Shenzhou 17 mission. ©China Manned Space Agency

On the 27th of February, Tang Hongbo, commander of the Shenzhou 17 mission to the Tiangong Space Station, surpassed the previous record of days spent on orbit by a Taikonaut. The previous record is believed to have been held by Chen Dong who spent almost 214 days in space. Now Tang Hongbo now holds the record at approximately 218 days, at the time of writing.

Tang Hongbo is currently commanding the Shenzhou 17 mission aboard China's Tiangong Space Station, which has recently entered its fifth month aboard with a planned end of the mission in April. The Shenzhou 17 mission is Tang Hongbo's second trip to space after having previously spent ninety-two days in space during the Shenzhou 12 mission.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

SpaceX is likely to launch Starship-Super Heavy this month for its third flight. Ship 28 and Super Heavy Booster 10 have completed almost all of their testing prior to launch. SpaceX is currently waiting on regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

March 4th - Falcon 9 for 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.

The launch is expected to take place from Launch Complex 39A and use booster B1083 for its first flight. The Crew Dragon capsule for this mission is believed to be Endeavour.

SpaceX is expected to launch another batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit to grow the capabilities of its space-based internet service.

March 4th - Falcon 9 with Transporter 10

SpaceX is expected to launch its tenth Transporter rideshare mission. The launch will head to a sun-synchronus orbit after lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E, in California.

March 9th - KAIROS for its maiden flight

Space One is expected to launch its KAIROS launch vehicle from Space Port Kii in Japan. The launch vehicle is believed to be carrying a prototype 'quick response' satellite for the Japanese government.

March 9th - Electron for 'Owl Night Long'

Rocket Lab is expected to launch the StriX-3 satellite for Synspective from Launch Complex 1B, located on the Mahia Peninsula

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