Weekly Dose of Space (7/4-13/4)

Weekly Dose of Space (7/4-13/4)


Welcome back to Weekly Dose of Space! Last week saw six launches occur worldwide, with four being from SpaceX. As always, we'll also look ahead to the launch schedule worldwide for next week too.

SpaceX

Last week at Starbase saw Booster 11 being removed from the Orbital Launch Mount on the 7th. In the late hours of the 7th, Booster 11 was rolled back to the production site and moved into one of the 'mega bays'. A few days later on the 9th, workers were spotted working on Ship 29's nose cone thermal protection tiles.

Early on the 10th, workers were seen removing the front cover of the booster quick disconnect on the Orbital Launch Mount. The 10th also saw workers installing almost all of the mission thermal protection tiles on Ship 29's nose cone.

The 12th saw a new actuator being installed on the 'chopsticks' of the launch tower as well as a new booster quick disconnect front cover being installed, SpaceX's reasoning for doing this is unknown but could have been due to damage sustained over the last three launches.

Launches This Week

April 8th - Falcon 9 with Bandwagon 1

SpaceX kicked off the launches this week with its Bandwagon 1 dedicated mid-inclination rideshare mission to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A, in Florida. Payloads aboard the Falcon 9 were Capella Space’s Acadia-4, iQPS’s QPS-SAR No. 7, South Korea’s 425SAT, Tyvak International’s Centauri-6, ata Advanced Systems Limited’s TSAT-1A, and HawkEye 360’s Clusters 8 & 9.

The booster for this mission was B1073 making its fourteenth flight and landing successfully back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.

Liftoff of Bandwagon 1 © SpaceX

April 9th - Delta IV Heavy with NROL-70

The final Delta IV Heavy took off from Space Launch Complex 37B carrying a classified satellite on behalf of the United States' National Reconnaissance Office. Despite the payload being classified, it likely was an Orion signals intelligence satellite. For more about the launch and Delta IV Heavy see here.

Delta takes off, for the last time © United Launch Alliance

Twenty-three Starlink satellites were carried into low Earth orbit atop of Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1083 making its second flight and successfully landing downrange on the drone ship 'Just Read The Instructions'.

Long exposure shot of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster sending 23 starlink’s to LEO © SpaceX

April 11th - Angara A5 for a test flight

An Angara A5 launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome carrying a mass simulator payload for a test flight to geostationary orbit. The rocket successfully completed the test flight to geostationary orbit, and manoevoured into a graveyard orbit afterwards.

Angara 5 lifts off © Roscosmos

April 11th - Falcon 9 with USSF-62

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 4E, in California, carrying the Weather System Follow-on satellite into a polar orbit on behalf of the United States Space Force and Department of Defense. The booster for this mission was B1082 making its third flight and successfully landing back at Landing Zone 4 at the Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Liftoff of USSF-62 © SpaceX

Another twenty-three Starlink satellites were carried into low Earth orbit atop of a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40. The booster for this mission was B1062 making its twentieth flight, a new record for a Falcon 9 booster, and landed successfully on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' down range.

Liftoff of B1062’s historic 20th flight © SpaceX

In Other Space News

Solar Eclipse hits North America

Solar Eclipse seen from the ISS © NASA

On the 8th of April, the long awaited 2024 solar eclipse struck the North American continent. While the weather wasn’t ideal, many people still flocked to places amongst the eclipse line, hoping to capture a view of totality. The next Solar eclipse won’t strike the continent until August of 2045.

Eris goes vertical at Bowen

This week, Australia’s first commercial spaceport, Bowen Orbital, achieved a major milestone. Gilmour Space Technologies, operates both the nations first spaceport and the first, privately developed and owned rocket, Eris. This three stage rocket is capable of putting ~300kg’s into a 500km orbit. Currently, Eris is targeting a May 4th launch. This would be the first time since the 70s that an orbital launch attempt has taken place on the continent.

China’s second lunar relay satellite dubbed a success

Queqiao 2 seen shortly after separating from its LM 8 ride and deploying its solar panels © CNSA

After completing all of its in-orbit communication tests, China’s second lunar relay was officially dubbed a complete mission success! The satellite joined its brother in orbit around the Moon back in late March. Both of these satellites will work together to provide communications to the upcoming Chang’e 6 lunar mission. Chang’e 6 plans on landing on the Lunars far side, making communications without these relay satellites, impossible. Chang’e 6 is slated to launch sometime in May and its historic goal of collecting and returning samples from the Moon’s far-side is dependent on these two orbital communication satellites.

While the primary purpose of these satellites is to serve as a communication relay, they also have other objectives. such as radio astronomy.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

SpaceX believes that they can launch the fourth flight of Starship-Super Heavy early next month. So far both Ship 29 and Booster 11 have performed the necessary static fires for flight, it's believed that a wet dress rehearsal of the countdown will take place before the flight. However, SpaceX needs to complete the mishap investigation into the previous flight with the Federal Aviation Administration, the investigation is still believed to be ongoing.

April 15th - Long March 2D with a to-be-announced payload

A Long March 2D is believed to be launching from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center's Launch Area 4. The payload has not yet been announced.

April 17th - Falcon 9 with WorldView Legion 1 & 2

A Falcon 9 is expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 4E to a sun-synchronous orbit carrying two WorldView Legion satellites. The booster is currently unknown but the landing is expected to be at Landing Zone 4.

Another batch of Starlink satellites are expected to launch from Launch Complex 39A atop of a Falcon 9. The booster for the mission is unknown but it is expected to land downrange on a drone ship.

Yet another batch of Starlink satellites are expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 atop of a Falcon 9. The booster for the mission is also unknown but it is expected to land downrange on a drone ship.

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