Weekly Dose of Space (3/12-9/12)

Weekly Dose of Space (3/12-9/12)


Welcome to Weekly Dose of Space! This week saw plenty of launches with some big news this week. We'll also look ahead to the busy launch schedule next week too!

SpaceX

SpaceX started its week at Starbase, on the 3rd, by installing a sign at the launch site that reads 'Gateway to Mars'. The launch clamps on the orbital launch mount were also retracted for the first time since Starship-Super Heavy's second integrated flight test.

On the 5th, Booster 10 was moved to the rocket garden to wait before being moved to the launch site for testing. The 5th also saw the 'chopsticks' move again going up and down the launch tower. The 'chopsticks' were also moved again on the 8th.

Launches This Week

SpaceX started the launches for this week from Space Launch Complex 40, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This launch saw another batch of Starlink satellites being delivered into low Earth orbit. The booster for this mission was B1078 making its sixth flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from SLC-40. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from SLC-40. ©SpaceX

December 4th - Long March 2C with MisrSat-2

A Long March 2C launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center carrying the MisrSat-2 spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit. MisrSat-2 is described as being an Earth observation satellite for use with the Egyptian Space Agency. The satellite was built in the People's Republic of China with participation from Egyptian scientists and engineers.

Long March 2C lifting off with MisrSat-2.
Long March 2C lifting off with MisrSat-2.

December 4th - ADD Solid-Fuel SLV with S-STEP

South Korea launched a small prototype synthetic-aperture radar satellite atop of a new orbital launch vehicle. This was the first orbital test launch of the currently unnamed launch vehicle operated by the South Korean Military.

Video of ADD Solid-Fuel SLV launch video via @CNSpaceflight on X (formerly Twitter)

December 4th - Ceres-1 with Tianyan-16 and Starpool-01A

Ceres-1 launched for the ninth time and delivered two satellites to a sun-synchronous orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The Tianyan-16 is operated by MinoSpace with Starpool-01A being operated by ELLISPACE.

Ceres-1 lifting off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Ceres-1 lifting off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

December 5th - Smart Dragon 3 with a SatNet test satellite

A Smart Dragon 3 launched from a sea launch platform to a polar orbit with a SatNet test satellite. The satellite is officially described as a Satellite-Internet Technology Demonstration Satellite and is likely a test spacecraft for the Chinese state-owned LEO communication satellite constellation SatNet.

Smart Dragon 3 lifting off from its sea launch platform.
Smart Dragon 3 lifting off from its sea launch platform.

SpaceX launched twenty-three more satellites to low Earth orbit to grow its Starlink internet satellite constellation. The launch took place from Space Launch Complex 40, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The booster for this mission was B1077 making its ninth flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'Just Read The Instructions'.

Falcon 9 during first stage flight for the Starlink Group 6-33 mission. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 during first stage flight for the Starlink Group 6-33 mission. ©SpaceX

Twenty-two more Starlink satellites were delivered to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E, in Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The booster for this mission was B1071 making its thirteenth flight and landing downrange on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You'.

Falcon 9 lifting off from SLC-4E. ©SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifting off from SLC-4E. ©SpaceX

December 8th - Zhuque-2 for Flight 3

LandSpace delivered its first payloads atop of Zhuque-2 during its third flight. The rocket launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and delivered its payloads to a sun-synchronous orbit.

Zhuque-2 lifting off from its launch pad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Zhuque-2 lifting off from its launch pad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

December 10th - Long March 2D with Yaogan 39 Group 05

A Long March 2D rounded out the launches for this week carrying more Yaogan reconnaissance satellites into low Earth orbit. The Long March 2D was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

This launch would normally have been left for next week due to occurring on the 10th in the Greenwich Mean Time time zone but is included this week as it launched during the writing process.

Long March 2D lifting off from its launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
Long March 2D lifting off from its launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

In Other Space News

IFT-3 may demonstrate in-space propellant transfer

Starship-Super Heavy lifting off with Ship 25 and Booster 9. ©SpaceX

The next integrated flight test of Starship-Super Heavy could feature a 'propellant transfer demonstration' between the Starship's main and header tanks. This news comes from a presentation by NASA's Lakiesha Hawkins, Deputy to the Deputy Associate Administrator of the Moon to Mars Program Office, on the 4th of December.

Propellant transfer in space is a critical development ahead of the Artemis 3 mission to return humans to the surface of the Moon and eventually to build a self-sustaining city on Mars.

Egypt joins the International Lunar Research Base

China National Space Administration's Zhang Kejian (left) and Sherif Sedky (right) of the Egyptian Space Agency signed a cooperation agreement on the International Lunar Research Base. ©CNSA

Zhang Kejian, China National Space Administration Administrator, and Sherif Sedky, Chief Operating Officer of the Egyptian Space Agency, recently signed a cooperation agreement between the two space agencies for the International Lunar Research Base in Beijing on the 6th of December.

The areas of cooperation between the two agencies include; the development and launch of spacecraft, space infrastructure, joint research in lunar and deep space exploration, the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, satellite data reception and applications, space science, and astronomical observation.

Egypt is now one of eight countries to join the International Lunar Research Base, the member countries include; China, Pakistan, Belarus, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Russia, South Africa, and now Egypt!

Artemis II SLS boosters prepare for stacking!

Engineers and technicians process the right forward center segment of the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters for the Artemis II mission inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ©NASA
Engineers and technicians process the right forward center segment of the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters for the Artemis II mission inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ©NASA

NASA has recently announced that the inspection of each solid rocket booster segment is near completion ahead of stacking for the Artemis II mission! The ten segments of the boosters arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in September where they have been undergoing processing and inspection.

Once ready the booster segments have been inspected they will be stacked in the Vertical Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. The boosters are the first part of the SLS rocket that needs to be stacked as they support the weight of the entire rocket while on the launch pad and during transit atop of one of NASA's mobile launcher platforms.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

It is likely we could see Booster 10 be moved to the launch site for static fire tests soon. We may also see Ship 26 be scrapped soon as crews have been seen moving equipment near the vehicle.

SpaceX and the Federal Aviation Administration are also still performing the mishap investigation into Starship-Super Heavy's second flight. Outside of SpaceX, the date of the third integrated flight test is still unknown, and it appears unlikely to occur this year.

December 11th - Falcon Heavy with OTV-7/USSF-52

SpaceX is expected to launch the X-37B spaceplane for the United States Space Force early next week. The orbit for the mission is unknown but the boosters for the mission are expected to be B1084, making its 1st and only launch, B1064, making its fifth flight, and B1065, also making its fifth flight.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 will launch Starlink Group 6-34 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The booster and drone ship for this mission is currently unknown.

December 13th - Electron for 'The Moon God Awakens'

Electron is expected to return to flight with the mission 'The Moon God Awakens' to deliver iQPS's QPS-SAR-5 synthetic-aperture radar satellite to low Earth orbit.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 will launch Starlink Group 7-9 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The booster and drone ship for this mission is currently unknown.

December 15th - Falcon 9 with Ovzon-3

A SpaceX Falcon 9 is expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 carrying the Ovzon-3 communications satellite. Falcon 9 will deliver the satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit with the currently unknown booster landing back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.

December 16th - Soyuz 2.1b with Arktika-M No.2

A Soyuz 2.1b is expected to launch with the Fregat-M transfer stage. The Arktika-M No.2 satellite is part of a series of Earth observation satellites to gather meteorological and hydrological data. The satellite is expected to be placed into an elliptical earth orbit.

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