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TWIRL 109: European Space Agency to send JUICE to Jupiter and its moons

The TWIRL logo in front of the Jovian system

There’s not too much going on this week in terms of rocket launches but of most interest is the launch of the JUICE spacecraft which is heading to the Jovian system to explore the gas giant Jupiter and three of its icy moons; Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto.

Wednesday, April 12

  • The first launch of the week will be a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying several smallsats as part of the Transporter-7 rideshare mission. The satellites will be placed in a Sun-synchronous orbit and will perform a whole host of missions of their own. This mission will take off at 6:45 a.m. UTC from Vandenberg AFB in California. It should be available on the SpaceX website to live stream.

Thursday, April 13

  • The final launch of the week, and most exciting, is the launch of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA+ rocket. The launch itself is not what’s special, but the payload. It will be launching the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft which will be heading off to investigate Jupiter and three of its moons; Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa – all of which have oceans that could contain life. After the launch, which is due at 12:15 p.m. UTC from French Guyana, we’ll have to wait until July 2031 until the craft reaches our closest gas giant. If you want to watch, tune into ESA Web TV at the time of launch.


  • The first launch last week was a Falcon 9 carrying the Tranche 0 mission for the Space Development Agency (SDA). The satellites will be used for communications, data, and missile warnings.
  • Next, we saw the maiden flight of the Space Pioneer’s Tianlong-2. It carried the Love Space Science remote-sensing satellite into a Solar-synchronous orbit.
  • Next up was another Falcon 9, this time carrying the Intelsat IS-40e satellite with NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution instrument aboard.
  • Below is a video of the satellite’s deployment.
  • The final launch was that of iSpace’s Hyperbola-1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. The launch was done to test measures taken after a prior failed launch.

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

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