Weekly Dose of Space (8/10-14/10)

Weekly Dose of Space (8/10-14/10)


Welcome to Weekly Dose of Space! In this week's newsletter, we'll cover the big launch of the week, Psyche, and all the other aerospace and astronomy news. We'll also look ahead into what to expect next week too!

SpaceX

Work at starbase continues despite the uncertainty surrounding when IFT-2 will launch. Kicking off the week on Monday, the hotstage ring was removed from the top of Booster 9 once more. Once the ring was safely removed and lowered, work began on the top of Booster 9. On the 12th, Booster 11 was moved to Massey’s, where it met up with Starship 29.

SpaceX had an important launch this weekend, with NASA’s psyche mission hitching a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. Speaking of, let’s go over the launches this week!

Launches This Week

October 9th - Vega with THEOS-2, TRITON, and CubeSats

Kicking off the launches this week was Vega from the Arianespace with twelve satellites onboard. The launch, which was originally scheduled for the 7th of October, took off to sun-synchronous orbit from Ariane Launch Area 1 in Kourou, French Guiana. The two major payloads for the launch were; the THEOS-2 optical observation satellite, and the FORMOSAT-7R TRITON weather satellite. The ten CubeSats riding along were; PRETTY, ESTCUBE-2, MACSAT, PVCC, N3SS, ANSER LEADER/ANSER FOLLOWER 1/ANSER FOLLOWER 2, CSC 1 and CSC 2 (Project-2).

Vega lifting off from Launch Area 1 on the 9th of October.
Vega lifting off from Launch Area 1 on the 9th of October.

As to be expected now, SpaceX launched twenty-one more Starlink satellites for its space-based internet satellite service. This Starlink launch was from SLC-4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base, in California, atop of Booster B1063 making its fourteenth launch and landing downrange on the drone ship 'Of Course I Still Love You'.

A long exposure shot of the Starlink Group 7-4 launch from SLC-4E.
A long exposure shot of the Starlink Group 7-4 launch from SLC-4E.

October 13th - Falcon Heavy with Psyche

NASA had its Psyche spacecraft launch atop of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket from LC-39A to an orbit around the Sun that will have it reach asteroid 16 Psyche in five years and ten months from now. The three boosters for this mission were; B1079 making its first and only flight, B1064 making its fourth flight and landing back at Landing Zone 1, and B0165 making its fourth flight too and landing at Landing Zone 2.

Psyche is a mission by NASA to investigate the asteroid 16 Psyche which is believed to be an early planet's core made of mostly iron and nickel out between Mars and Jupiter.

Falcon Heavy lifting off with Psyche in the background with Starlink Group 6-22 in the foreground.
Falcon Heavy lifting off with Psyche in the background with Starlink Group 6-22 in the foreground.
A long exposure shot of the Starlink Group 6-22 from SLC-40.
A long exposure shot of the Starlink Group 6-22 from SLC-40.

In a rare daylight Starlink launch SpaceX sent twenty-two more Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit this week. This time from SLC-40 in Cape Canaveral, in Florida, atop of Booster B1067 for its thirteenth launch and landing downrange on the drone ship 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas'.

In Other Space News

China starts work on a 40-meter radio telescope

The construction site of the telescope pictured on October 11th via CGTN/CMG.
The construction site of the telescope pictured on October 11th via CGTN/CMG.

A few days ago Chinese news reported that construction had begun on a 40-meter-aperture radio telescope in the Changbai Mountain area in the province of Jilin. The telescope is being developed by the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is designed to be a fully movable, high-precision multipurpose radio telescope. The location in the Changbai Mountain area is believed to be an ideal site for observations due to its dry climate. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

Viasat-3 Americas won't need replacing

A render of a Viasat-3 satellite via Viasat.
A render of a Viasat-3 satellite via Viasat.

Viasat has ruled recently that the Viasat-3 Americas satellite won't need a replacement despite only recovering less than ten percent of the satellite's planned throughput of one terabit per second. The company said that it has enough capability across its nineteen satellite fleet to cover current and future customer needs. Viasat is also looking to finalize its insurance claim on the satellite, which has $420 million in total coverage, before the end of the year.

Viasat-3 Americas suffered an issue with its antenna three months ago limiting the satellites' capabilities.

Nauka's radiator leaks on the ISS

A view of the Russian segment of the ISS and Nauka (right).
A view of the Russian segment of the ISS and Nauka (right).

The backup radiator on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module started leaking coolant on October 9th, the third incident on the station in under a year from Russian hardware, with the crew able to visually confirm the leak. Roscosmos said via telegram that the leaks were "no impact to the crew or to space station operations" however, the crew did close the shutters on windows on the U.S. segment to avoid contamination from the coolant.

The previous two leaks on the station were caused by micrometeorites with the cause of this leak is still unknown. The two spacewalks scheduled for October 12th and 20th have so far been rescheduled for no earlier than October 19th and 30th due to the leak.

Intelsat signs contract for multiple Terran R launches

A render of Terran R with an Intelsat logo on the fairing via Relativity Space.
A render of Terran R with an Intelsat logo on the fairing via Relativity Space.

The satellite operator Intelsat has signed an agreement with Relativity Space for multiple Terran R launches starting no earlier than 2026. Neither company disclosed the value of the contract although Relativity said it has a backlog of $1.8 billion from nine customers for launches. It's believed that Intelsat booked the launches on Terran R, despite it being almost three years away, due to growing demand to launch and launch companies not keeping up, this is what led to the discontinuation of the Terran 1 rocket as the company believes demand will be bigger for Terran R.

What to Expect Next Week

Starbase

Work at Starbase should continue as normal! A restack of Booster 9 and Starship 25 could very well happen. This potential stack may mean we are closer to launch, and important tests, like a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) could take place! Testing on other hardware, such as Starship 26, may also proceed.

There are some road closures this coming week, so keep an eye on Starbase because we may be ever closer to the highly anticipated IFT-2 launch!

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

A Long March 2D is expected to launch on the 15th of October with a thirty-minute launch window. The payload is currently unknown but is likely to be a Yaogan satellite.

SpaceX is expected to launch a Falcon 9 carrying more Starlink satellites to its space-based internet constellation.

October 21st - Gaganyaan Abort Test Booster TV-D1

It is currently believed that the Gaganyaan in-flight abort test will take place no earlier than October 21st from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India. The mission is to test the abort capabilities of India's first crew capsule in a flight environment before crew flights in a few years!

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