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TWIRL 105: SpaceX, China, Russia, and India all planning rocket launches this week

A rocket taking off

We have a packed schedule this week. Russia is planning to launch a possible snooping satellite, SpaceX is going to send cargo to the space station, and India is planning to launch a new satellite for positioning purposes. Also, check out Japan’s H3 rocket in the recap section. Long-time readers of This Week in Rocket Launches (TWIRL) may be wondering why the schedule begins on a Sunday and ends on Saturday; this is so TWIRL can be published each Saturday with regularity.

Sunday, March 12

  • The first launch of the upcoming week is a Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the second Olimp-K satellite. Apparently, the aim of this satellite will be to get up close to other space satellites and eavesdrop on the contents being sent from them. The satellite could also provide navigation correction signals for the GLONASS system, but it’s all speculation as its mission isn’t disclosed. The rocket will take off at 10:12 p.m. UTC from Kazakhstan.

Wednesday, March 15

  • On Wednesday, we’ll see two launches. The first is a Falcon 9 carrying the Dragon 2 spacecraft which will take operational cargo to the International Space Station. The mission is part of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA and should be streamed on the SpaceX website. The launch will take place at 12:30 a.m. UTC from Florida.
  • The next launch will be a Long March CZ-11 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 11:44 a.m. UTC. The payload is unknown at the time of writing so nothing more can be said about this mission.

Friday, March 17

  • The only launch on Friday will also be coming from China. The government will launch a Long March CZ-3B/E rocket carrying the Zhongxing 6E communications satellite. The satellite will be operated by China Satcom to provide users with an uplink and downlink for radio and TV stations. The mission is due to launch at 10:00 a.m. UTC from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Saturday, March 18

  • The first launch on Saturday will be an Indian GSLV rocket carrying the NVS 1 navigation satellite. The satellite will replace the IRNSS 1G satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System which provides positioning services for the Indian subcontinent. This mission will launch from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh but the time of the launch isn’t known.
  • The launch will be a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SES 18 and SES 19 communications satellites. The rocket will fly at 12:35 a.m. UTC from Cape Canaveral and can be viewed on SpaceX’s website live.


  • The first launch we got last week was Japan’s H3 rocket carrying the Daichi-3 Earth observation satellite. While we got to see the rocket taking off, a destruct command had to be sent and the mission was ultimately a failure.
  • Next, a Falcon 9 carried OneWeb satellites to orbit where they will provide internet services from space. You can see the launch below and the landing of the rocket’s first stage.
  • The final launch we saw last week was of a Long March-4C carrying the TianHui-6 A/B satellites from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. They will be used for Earth observation tasks.

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

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