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India to launch test flight of rocket capable of carrying a crew - TWIRL #134

The TWIRL logo in front of Gaganyaan

This Week in Rocket Launches we have a number of missions coming up. By far the most interesting is India's launch of an uncrewed Gaganyaan spacecraft. The country wants to put astronauts in it by late 2024.

Sunday, 15 October 2023

  • Who: China
  • What: Long March 2D
  • When: 12:54 a.m. UTC
  • Where: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre
  • Why: This mission will likely launch the Yunhai 1-04 satellite designed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST). It will be used in a satellite that will observe atmospheric, marine, and space environments. Its most important function will be to help prevent and mitigate disasters.

Tuesday, 17 October 2023

  • Who: SpaceX
  • What: Falcon 9 Block 5
  • When: 8:49 p.m. UTC
  • Where: Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral, Florida, US
  • Why: SpaceX will be launching 22 Starlink mini satellites into a low-Earth orbit. From there, they will work with the rest of the Starlink constellation and beam internet connectivity back to Earth for Starlink customers. This set of satellites is known as Starlink Group 6-23 and can be tracked after launch on apps like ISS Detector. Like other more recent Starlink satellites, these have an anti-reflective coating to help reduce the glare for astronomers on the ground.

Saturday, 21 October 2023

  • Who: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  • What: L-40
  • When: Unknown
  • Where: Dhawan Space Centre, Satish, India
  • Why: ISRO will be launching the Gaganyaan spacecraft on its first uncrewed suborbital test flight. The mission is a high altitude abort test and is designated TV-D1. In total, there will be four TV-D missions and two G missions which will be orbital test flights. The first crewed mission is designated H1 and is due for launch in late 2023. On that mission, three Indian astronauts will go on a short orbital test flight.


  • The first launch last week was a Vega rocket carrying two Earth observation satellites called THEOS-2 and TRITON. They took off from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.
  • Next up, SpaceX launched 21 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and the first stage of the Falcon 9 landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Next up, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched NASA’s Psyche spacecraft which will study a metal-rich asteroid with the same name located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
  • Finally, we got yet another Starlink launch with the first stage performing a landing.

That’s all for this week, check in next time!

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