Weekly Dose of Space (28/4-4/5)

Weekly Dose of Space (28/4-4/5)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw four launches worldwide, with one headed out into deep space. This week also saw news of space science and new commercial space capabilities. As always, we'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week.

SpaceX

This week at Starbase started on the 29th, when Booster 13's liquid oxygen tank also underwent a cryo-proofing test at the Massey's test site, SpaceX also did not comment on the testing. A day later on the 30th, SpaceX conducted a fast-moving test of the 'chopsticks' along with the tank farm. Also late on the 30th, Ship 30 was rolled out from the production site to the launch site, where it was placed onto suborbital Pad B.

Two days later on the 2nd of May, Booster 13 was rolled from the Massey's test site to the production site, the booster has completed cryo tests of both tanks at Massey's. Also on the 2nd, teams were seen partially demolishing the wall that houses the 'Gateway to Mars' sign, it's unknown if the entire wall will be demolished to build a second launch pad. The ship quick disconnect arm was also seen performing a retraction test on the same day.

Launches This Week

This week's launches started with a Falcon 9 launching twenty-three Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40, in Florida. The booster for this mission was B1076 making its thirteenth flight and landing on the drone ship 'Just Read The Instructions' downrange.

Falcon 9 during ascent for Starlink Group 6-54. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 during ascent for Starlink Group 6-54. ©SpaceX

May 2nd - Falcon 9 with WorldView Legion 1 & 2

SpaceX launched two WorldView Legion for Maxar into sun-synchronus orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E, in California, atop of Falcon 9. The booster for this mission was B1061 making its twentieth flight and landing back at Landing Zone 4 at the Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Booster B1067 landing at Landing Zone 4. ©SpaceX
Booster B1067 landing at Landing Zone 4. ©SpaceX

Another twenty-three Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit atop of Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1067 making its nineteenth flight and landed downrange on the drone ship 'A Shortfall of Gravitas'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for Starlink Group 6-55. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 for Starlink Group 6-55. ©SpaceX

May 3rd - Long March 5 with Chang'e 6

China kicked off its Chang'e 6 lunar far-side sample return mission from LC-101 at the Wenchang Space Launch Site, located in the province of Hainan. The mission is part of the country's fourth phase of its lunar exploration program and the first mission aiming to retrieve samples from the far-side of the Moon. For more about the launch, mission, and spacecraft click here.

The Long March 5 Y8 vehicle lifting off from LC-101 for the Chang'e 6 mission. ©China National Space Administration
The Long March 5 Y8 vehicle lifting off from LC-101 for the Chang'e 6 mission. ©China National Space Administration

In Other Space News

SpaceX unveils EVA suit

The SpaceX extravehicular activity suit. ©SpaceX
The SpaceX extravehicular activity suit. ©SpaceX

SpaceX unveiled its extravehicular activity suit on May 4th with the Polaris Dawn crew. The suit is based on the company's intravehicular activity suit that astronauts wear inside of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The suit's visor is externally coated with copper and indium tin oxide to provide thermal insulation and act like sunglasses while on the sun-lit side of Earth, the inside of the visor also has a heads-up display to show the astronaut inside temperature, humidity, and suit pressure. This new suit also uses a new textile-based thermal garment material which provides greater mobility along with thermal management. These suits won't feature onboard life support systems however and will remain tethered to the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Four of these suits will be used on the Polaris Dawn mission later in the year as two members of the crew perform the first privately funded spacewalk.

Shenzhou-17 experiment samples delivered

A scientist investigating a sample from the Shenzhou-17 mission. ©Science and Technology Daily
A scientist investigating a sample from the Shenzhou-17 mission. ©Science and Technology Daily

Samples from experiments performed on the Shenzhou-17 mission have reportedly been delivered to the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on May 1st. The delivery reportedly only took eight hours from touchdown to handover.

These samples are believed to have come from experiments on human bone cells, bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells, protein crystals, living organic molecules, and seeds. Material samples were also reportedly delivered.

Scientists in China will conduct analyses of the samples to look for new ways to prevent disease and mitigate the decay of the human body in microgravity. They will also diffract protein samples in hopes of obtaining higher accuracy three-dimensional structures of the proteins for use in drug and vaccine development.

First crewed Starliner moved to launchpad

Starliner atop of an Atlas V at Space Launch Complex 41. ©United Launch Alliance
Starliner atop of an Atlas V at Space Launch Complex 41. ©United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance has moved an Atlas V onto the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of launch on May 7th. This launch will be carrying the Boeing Starliner spacecraft for its first crewed mission with astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita "Suni" Williams onboard.

The mission will demonstrate the full end-of-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft to deliver crews to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Boeing's Starliner is one of two commercial crew vehicles under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, the other is SpaceX's Crew Dragon which performed a similar mission almost four years ago.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

SpaceX believes that they can launch the fourth flight test of Starship-Super Heavy this month. Both vehicles, Ship 29 and Booster 11, for the next flight have performed static fires with a wet dress rehearsal expected ahead of the flight. However, the company is still going through the process of a mishap investigation into the previous flight with the Federal Aviation Administration.

SpaceX is expected to launch a batch of Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission is currently unknown, but a downrange drone ship landing is expected.

May 7th - Atlas V with Starliner Crewed Flight Test

United Launch Alliance is expected to launch Boeing's Starliner spacecraft into low Earth orbit carrying astronauts Barry Wilmore and Suni Williams onboard. The mission is the first crewed test flight of the Starliner spacecraft, and its second trip to the space station.

May 7th - Long March 6C on its debut flight

The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology is believed to be debuting its Long March 6C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, it will be the third member of the Long March 6 series of launch vehicles. The payload onboard the rocket is currently unknown.

Another Starlink mission is expected next week atop of a Falcon 9 flying from Launch Complex 39A. The booster for this mission is also unknown, but a landing on a drone ship is expected.

A third Starlink launch is also expected to launch, this launch will be from Space Launch Complex 4E. The booster for the missions is unknown, but it is expected to land on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You' downrange.

May 9th - Long March 3B/YZ-1 with a to-be-announced payload

A Long March 3B rocket is expected to launch with a Yuanzheng-1 upper-stage from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The payload is unknown but the launch is believed to be headed to a medium Earth orbit.

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