TWIRL 15: SpaceX’s Dragon capsule to transport cargo to the ISS

In the coming week, several missions such as SpaceX, Virgin Orbit and China are planned. One of the more interesting launches due on Thursday is the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 which carries a Dragon 2 capsule that carries cargo to the International Space Station.

Tuesday June 1

The first two launches of the week are slated for Tuesday, however, they’re also marked as no sooner than so we might not see either of them launch. The first launch comes from Virgin Orbit which will pilot its Boeing 747 “Cosmic Girl” and will perform an aerial launch of the LauncherOne rocket. The rocket will carry six CubeSats into orbit for the space testing program of the US Air Force, the Dutch Army and SatRevolution. If this launch takes place on Tuesday or the following days, head to the Virgin Orbit website where a live stream should be available.

The other launch we saw on Tuesday will come from Chinese company Landscape, which is launching a Zhuque ZQ-2 rocket for the first time. While the first rocket launch will not be recovered, the firm plans to recover the first stage of the rocket during future launches so that it can be reused. This will help the company reduce the costs of launching payloads into space.

Wednesday June 2

A Long March rocket is expected to orbit the Fengyun 4B satellite for the Chinese Meteorological Administration on Wednesday. It will be used to collect images of storm systems, atmospheric soundings measurements, lightning maps and space weather events. A live stream of this event is unlikely to be available, but launch footage could appear on YouTube after the event. The launch is scheduled between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. UTC.

Thursday June 3

At around 5:29 p.m. UTC on June 3, SpaceX aims to launch a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket carrying a Dragon 2 capsule that is headed for the International Space Station. The capsule will deliver cargo to the ISS. On board the capsule will be two ISS Roll-Out (iROSA) solar panels for the ISS Power Augmentation Program (IPA).

Saturday June 5

Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus XL rocket, ready to deploy the TacRL-2 mission into orbit, has been mentioned several times in previous editions of This Week in Rocket Launches but has yet to launch. Saturday will be the next date the rocket takes off. The mission is part of the US Space Force’s Tactically Responsive Launch Program and is intended to be a technology demonstration.

Sunday June 6

The week’s final mission comes from SpaceX again, though it’s marked as No Early Than. A Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket is about to launch the SXM 8 broadcast satellite for SiriusXM’s digital audio radio service. The satellite has a fold-out antenna reflector that allows it to broadcast to radios on Earth without the need for a satellite dish on the ground. SXM 8 will replace the XM 4 satellite and provide service for 15 years.

to summarize

The first flight to launch last week was SpaceX’s Starlink 28 mission which carried 60 Starlink satellites aboard the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. This mission was scheduled for Wednesday, May 26 and launched successfully that day. You can watch the event below:

OneWeb also managed to get some of its satellites off the ground last week aboard a Starsem Soyuz 2.1b. If you would like to see coverage of the event, watch the following video:

The final launch that was mentioned in last week’s TWIRL that managed to get off the ground was China’s National Space Administration’s Tianzhou-2 mission that transports cargo to the Chinese Space Station. You can see images from this launch below:

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Travis Durham

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