If you follow This Week in Rocket Launches, you’ll have seen that Richard Branson became the first billionaire to go to space on one of his own rockets. In the upcoming week, it will be Jeff Bezos’ turn to accomplish the same feat as he travels to space aboard a New Shepard rocket with his brother Mark Bezos and Wally Funk.
Tuesday, July 20
Tuesday is the day that the Bezos brothers head into space along with Wally Funk, an 82-year-old woman that has been trying to get into space for decades and who will become the oldest person ever to fly to space. Unlike Branson’s rocketplane, New Shepard is a more traditional rocket. It will launch to 100 kilometers above the surface where the crew will experience microgravity before using parachutes to return to the surface, which will take about 10 minutes.
A live stream for the event is not online yet, but this article will be updated when that becomes available. If it’s published at very short notice, just keep your eyes peeled on the Blue Origin YouTube channel where the stream should take place. The launch is slated for 1:00 p.m. UTC.
Wednesday, July 21
Wednesday will see the launch of a Roscosmos Proton M rocket carrying the Russian MLM-U Nauka module. Its destination is the International Space Station (ISS) where it will dock at the Zvezda nadir port. MLM-U stands for Multipurpose Laboratory Module – Upgrade and it will act as a multipurpose module on the Russian section of the ISS. Installed on the Nauka module will also be the European Robotic Arm (ERA). The ERA is shaped like a human arm with an elbow, shoulders and wrists and will be the first robot to be able to move around the ISS. You can learn more about ERA on the European Space Agency website.
This mission, which has been continually delayed since 2009, will be live-streamed on YouTube and the video is already available so you can set a reminder for when the stream begins. The launch is scheduled for 14:58 p.m. UTC.
Friday, July 23
The final launch of the week takes place on Friday. A Long March CZ-2C will be carrying three satellites designated as Yaogan 30 Group 10. The satellites will make up part of the Chuangxin 5 (CX-5) constellation. They have electromagnetic detection capabilities but the mission goals are not clear.
Last week was quite unusual. Following the launch of Branson into space, there were no more rocket launches. There was, however, a hot-fire test of the RS-25 rocket engine. Four of these engines will help get NASA’s Space Launch System into space later this year.