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Rocket Lab to launch junk removal satellite for Astroscale - TWIRL #152

TWIRL logo in front of Electron rocket

We have several missions coming up this week, the most notable among them is the launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket carrying the ADRAS-J mission for Astroscale. This mission is a part of JAXA’s commercial project to remove space debris from orbit.

Sunday, 18 February

  • Who: Rocket Lab
  • What: Electron
  • When: 2:52 p.m. UTC
  • Where: Mahia, New Zealand
  • Why: This Electron rocket will be carrying the ADRAS-J (Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan) mission for Astroscale. It is part of JAXA’s Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Project (CRD2). The satellite will be used to demonstrate proximity operations and obtain images of a H-IIA rocket second stage which was launched in January 2009. The mission is appropriately named “On Closer Inspection”.

Tuesday, 20 February

  • Who: SpaceX
  • What: Falcon 9
  • When: 8:11 - 10:44 p.m. UTC
  • Where: Florida, United States
  • Why: SpaceX will be using a Falcon 9 to launch the HTS 113BT comms satellite for PT Telkom Satelit Indonesia (Telkomsat) to replace Palapa N1 which was lost. The new satellite will provide 32 Gbps capacity over Indonesia.

Thursday, 22 February

  • Who: SpaceX
  • What: Falcon 9
  • When: 4:24 a.m. UTC
  • Where: California, United States
  • Why: SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 to launch 22 Starlink satellites to a low Earth orbit. This group is known as Starlink Group 7-15, this identifier can be used on a variety of apps like ISS Detector to help you spot the satellites in real life. They will help to provide internet connectivity to customers on the ground.

Friday, 23 February

  • Who: CNSA
  • What: Long March 5
  • When: 10:00 a.m. UTC
  • Where: Wenchang, China
  • Why: China will be launching a Long March 5 rocket possibly carrying the Communications Engineering Test Satellite 11 (TJS 11). If it’s this satellite then it’s part of a set of demonstration missions. It could also be the DFH-4E satellite which is a geostationary communications satellite that could be used by a foreign customer.


  • The first launch we got last week was a Falcon 9 carrying the USSF-124 mission to low Earth orbit for the US government. The payload on this mission is classified.
  • Next up, Roscosmos launched the Progress MS-26 spacecraft to the ISS to resupply the astronauts there. This spacecraft launched on a Soyuz 2.1a launch vehicle.
  • The third launch was pretty important, SpaceX used a Falcon 9 to launch Intuitive Machine’s Odysseus Nova-C lunar lander.
  • The next launch was also a SpaceX Falcon 9 but this time it was carrying Starlink satellites.
  • Japan was also involved in the rocket launching action last week, launching the second test flight of the H3 rocket.
  • Finally, India launched a GSLV-F14 rocket carrying the INSAT-3DS weather satellite. It will be used for enhanced meteorological observations and monitoring land and ocean surface. Other uses include weather forecasting and disaster warning.

That’s all for this issue, check in next time

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