TWIRL 101: SpaceX to launch Starlink satellites with anti-reflective coating

The TWIRL logo in front of a rocket launch

We have several satellite launches coming up this week, we will see the launch of a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket which is a bit unusual and SpaceX plans to launch new Starlink satellites with special anti-reflective coating which could prevent the satellites from ruining astronomy.

Monday, January 23

  • The first launch this week comes from Rocket Lab, which will send an Electron rocket to space carrying a number of small radio frequency monitoring satellites from Hawkeye 360, a radio frequency geospatial analytics provider. The satellites being launched are called Hawk 6A/B/C and the mission has been called “Virginia is for Launch Lovers”. The satellites will help to monitor air, land, and sea transportation and assist with emergencies. This mission launches from 11:00 p.m. UTC from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. A stream will be available on Rocket Lab’s website.

Tuesday, January 24

  • The second mission of the week will see SpaceX launch a Falcon 9 carrying 54 Gen2 Starlink “Mini” satellites. If you use a satellite tracking app, these satellites will be designated Starlink Group 5-2 if you want to try looking for them. While apps will show the position of the satellites, they could prove hard to see has SpaceX has applied an anti-reflective coating to them. It’s not clear how much this will reduce their reflectivity but it could address the concerns of astronomers who have complained about satellites ruining the night sky. The mission will take off at 9:52 a.m. UTC from Cape Canaveral in Florida and will be streamed on the company’s website.

Wednesday, January 25

  • The final mission we have locked in for the week will see a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket launch the IGS-Radar 7 reconnaissance satellite for the Japanese Ministry of Defense. IGS in the payload’s name is short for Information Gathering Satellite. It will be operated by the Cabinet Satellite Information Center and help bolster Japan’s national defence and assist with civil natural disaster monitoring. It’s due to take off at 1:20 a.m. UTC from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.

Recap

  • The first launch last week took place on Wednesday, a Falcon 9 launched by SpaceX carrying the US Space Force’s GPS III satellite.
  • The second and final launch was also a Falcon 9 but this time carrying 51 Starlink satellites.

That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next time.

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