TWIRL 52: Busy launch week for the first anniversary of this series


So far, we’ve had a slow start to the year for rocket launches, but for the end of TWIRL’s first year, the schedule is busy. Russia, India, SpaceX and two other private companies all have launches this week, with Russia’s launch being the most interesting as it will send cargo to the International Space Station.

monday 14 february

The first launch of the week will take off from India. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will carry the EOS 4 Earth observation radar satellite for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The mission is called PSLV-C52 and is to be launched at 00:29 UTC from Sriharikota. ISRO will broadcast the event on YouTube.

tuesday 15 february

The second launch will be the Russian Soyuz 2.1a carrying a Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS). Once docked, the ISS crew will be able to retrieve the freighter’s resources. The compartment will remain attached to the ISS for up to 370 days. The rocket is due to launch at 4:25 UTC.

Saturday February 19

Next, Northop Grumman will launch an Antares rocket from Wallops Island in the United States. She will carry cargo to the ISS for NASA. The mission is known as NG-17 and will launch at 17:39 UTC. The mission will most likely be broadcast on The NASA YouTube Channel same day, but if not, be sure to check out next week’s recap.

Sunday February 20

There will be two launches less than half an hour apart on Sunday. The first launch will be Astra Space’s Rocket 3.3. Exceptionally, it will carry a payload that will not disconnect from the rocket. The S4 Crossover payload will get flight legacy testing for a prototype payload host platform. You can follow the event from Astra Space live stream page at 14:30 UTC at the time of the rocket launch.

The second launch on Sunday, and the last of the week, will be carried out by SpaceX. A Falcon 9 rocket will be used to launch 49 Starlink satellites into low polar Earth orbit where they will beam internet connectivity back to Earth. These new satellites will help the company catch up the 40 satellites recently lost due to a geomagnetic storm which hit them just a day after launch. This launch will be available on the SpaceX website and YouTube channel beginning at 3:00 p.m. UTC.

to sum up

The first launch we have from last week was on Thursday. Arianespace has orbited 34 OneWeb satellites that send the Internet back to Earth.

Astra Space’s 3.3 rocket also launched on Thursday, carrying NASA’s ElaNa 41 mission, which consists of multiple CubeSats.

Finally, here is a 5 minute summarized version of a presentation made by SpaceX on the current state of Starship.


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