TWIRL 113: Cargo mission soon to head to the Heavenly Palace space station

The TWIRL logo in front of the Heavenly Palace

We have a number of missions coming up This Week in Rocket Launches. Rocket Lab will orbit NASA’s TROPICS satellites, SpaceX will launch more Starlink satellites, and China is going to send a cargo mission up to its Heavenly Palace space station.

Monday, May 8

The first launch this week will be a Rocket Lab Electron rocket carrying two satellites as part of NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission. The two satellites, TROPICS 3 and 4 will be used to measure the temperature, moisture profiles, and precipitation in tropical systems “with unprecedented temporal frequency.” The mission is due for launch between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. UTC from New Zealand. You will find a stream on Rocket Lab’s website.

Tuesday, May 9

At 5:08 a.m. UTC, from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 56 second-generation Starlink satellites into a low Earth orbit. It was reported earlier today that Starlink now has more than 1.5 million customers worldwide. The service is especially useful in more remote areas where a broadband connection isn’t feasible. By launching more satellites, SpaceX can expand the strength and coverage of Starlink. The launch will be shown on SpaceX’s website.

Wednesday, May 10

The first of Wednesday’s two launches is a Long March 7 rocket carrying the sixth cargo craft for China’s Heavenly Palace space station. It will be carrying around 7.4 tonnes of supplies, including 70 kg of fruit. The Long March 7 will take off at 1:23 p.m. UTC from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre in China.

The second mission takes place several hours later at 9:44 p.m. UTC from California. SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 carrying 51 Starlink satellites to a polar low Earth orbit. Like the launch earlier in the week, you can catch this one on SpaceX’s website.


There was only one launch last week, that’s it, you guessed it, a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying Starlink satellites. Fittingly, it took off on Star Wars Day, May 4.

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

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