TWIRL 16: It's a quiet week with some interesting but tentative launches

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The upcoming week is the quietest it has been for space launches since This Week in Rocket Launches began four months ago. Just three rocket are listed on the schedule for the upcoming week and every one of them is marked as no earlier than which means they may not even take off this week. Additionally, we’ve heard about all of these missions in previous editions of TWIRL so there’s not too much new information. Be sure to check out the recap, though, for footage of last week’s launches.

Thursday, June 10

The first launch that could take place next week is that of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The mission is officially titled GSLV-F10 and it’ll carry the EOS 3 satellite which will provide remote sensing observations over the Indian subcontinent from a geostationary orbit. EOS is short for Earth Observing Satellite, it will act as a quick monitoring system for natural disasters and hazards. The GSLV-F10 mission has been delayed several times since 2019 and we mentioned it in TWIRL #5.

The second possible launch on Thursday is that of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket. The rocket will deploy from the Boeing 747 “Cosmic Girl” aircraft and carry six CubeSats into orbit for the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program, the Netherlands’ military, and SatRevolution. The U.S. Air Force has three CubeSats launching as part of the DoD’s Space Test Program’s Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) initiative, the Netherlands’ satellite is a military satellite called BRIK II, and SatRevolution’s satellites are called STORK 4 and STORK 5 and make up an optical satellite constellation.

The final launch is of Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus XL rocket which will perform an air launch from the L-1011 “Stargazer” aircraft. It will deploy the Space Force’s TacRL-2 mission to orbit. TacRL-2 is short for Tactically Responsive Launch and is said to be a “technology demonstration”. This mission has been mentioned in a number of TWIRL articles but seemingly never manages to launch.

Recap

The Fengyun 4B took off last Wednesday atop a Long March rocket. The satellite will be used by the China Meteorological Administration to collect images of storm systems, create lightning maps, and more. You can see the launch event below:

On Thursday, SpaceX launched its Dragon 2 capsule on a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket to the International Space Station carrying Roll-out Solar Arrays. You can see the launch below:

The Dragon 2 docked at the ISS on Saturday, footage of the event is here:

Finally, SpaceX had its SXM-8 mission marked as no earlier than, luckily, the firm managed to get the rocket off the ground early on Sunday morning (UTC). The SXM-8 satellite is a radio satellite with an antenna reflector that negates the need for ground-based dish antennas. You can see the launch below:

On this day in history

Gemini IX came to an end when the capsule splashed down June 6, 1966 approximately 345 miles east of Florida. Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan came down within a mile of the waiting USS Wasp. The splashdown was shown live on US television - a first.

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