TWIRL 108: SpaceX Falcon 9 to launch demo satellites for US Space Development Agency

A Falcon 9 rocket and TWIRL logo

We have a fairly busy launch schedule next week to cover in This Week in Rocket Launches. We’ll see SpaceX launch a couple of rockets, the maiden launch of Space Pioneer’s Tianlong 2 rocket, and iSpace will launch its Hyperbola SQX-1. A third private Chinese company, ExPace, is also set to launch its Kuaizhou 1A rocket carrying an unknown payload.

Sunday, April 2

  • Sunday is the busiest day of the week this time, with three launches planned. The first mission is Space Pioneer’s Tianlong 2 rocket which is launching on its first flight carrying several CubeSats, including one called Jinta. The Jinta CubeSat will have remote sensing capabilities and will be used to verify important technologies. The mission will launch at 2:50 a.m. UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.
  • The second launch of the day comes from another private Chinese company called iSpace. It will be launching its Hyperbola SQX-1 rocket with an unknown payload, also from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, but a few hours later at 5:00 a.m. UTC.
  • Lastly, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 carrying 10 Tranche 0 demo satellites for the US military’s Space Development Agency. These demo satellites will lay the foundations of a future satellite constellation of military missile tracking and data relay satellites. This mission will launch from Vandenberg AFB at 2:29 p.m. UTC.

Wednesday, April 5

  • We have just one mission locked in on Wednesday and it’s from a private Chinese company called ExPace. It will be launching a Kuaizhou 1A rocket with an unknown payload. It’s due to take off at 4:00 a.m. UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.

Friday, April 7

  • The last launch of the week is another Falcon 9 from SpaceX, this time carrying the Intelsat 40e communications satellite for Intelsat. It will provide coverage across North and Central America to Intelsat customers so they can benefit from in-flight connectivity and mobile communications services. The mission takes off at 4:39 a.m. UTC from Cape Canaveral.


  • The first mission last week was the launch of a GSLV Mk-III rocket carrying 36 OneWeb satellites to space where they’ll provide internet connectivity on Earth.
  • Next, Israel launched a Shavit-2 rocket carrying the Ofek-13 satellite from the Palmachim Airbase. The satellite will provide metre observation capabilities and enable all-weather Earth observation for the country’s Ministry of Defence.
  • On Wednesday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 carrying 56 Starlink satellites which will beam internet to Earth. It also landed the first stage of the Falcon 9.
  • Next, we saw the launch of a Long March 2D carrying four PIESAT-1 satellites. They will provide commercial remote sensing data services.
  • The final launch was a Long March 4C carrying a Yaogan-34 remote sensing satellite which will help to do land surveys, urban planning, crop yield estimations, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

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

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