At the time of writing, there are three rocket launches due for take-off in the week ahead. One of the more interesting launches, a crewed Blue Origin New Shepard mission, will see the company launch its first repeat customer, Evan Dick. He first went to space on New Shepard on December 11 as part of the Blue Origin NS-19 and not having had enough, is back for another go.
Wednesday, May 18
The first launch of the week comes from SpaceX, it will be launching a Falcon 9 B5 rocket carrying 53 Starlink satellites into a low Earth orbit where they will beam internet back to the planet. Those being launched from Florida this week at 9 a.m. UTC will internally be known as Starlink Group 4-18 and will appear under this title on some apps such as ISS Detector to help you spot them at night. As always, this event will be streamed on the SpaceX website as well as the company’s YouTube channel.
Thursday, May 19
The second launch of the week is an interesting one. United Launch Alliance (ULA) will send an Atlas V rocket to space carrying the second CST-100 Starliner craft to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of NASA’s commercial crew program. Starliner will dock with the ISS where the cargo will be transferred and after 5 to 10 days, it will head back to the Earth where it will try a landing in the United States.
This is the first flight where the Atlas V will include the Emergency Detection System so that a mission abort can be initiated if the flight exits any of the set parameters. The EDS arrives just in time for the three-person Crew Flight Test which is scheduled for sometime this year. The mission on Thursday will take off at 10:54 p.m. UTC from Cape Canaveral and can be streamed on the ULA website.
Friday, May 20
The final launch of the week is Blue Origin’s NS-21 mission which will see a New Shepard rocket carry six people to the edge of space. The crew members’ names are Evan Dick, Katya Echazarreta, Hamish Harding, Victor Correa Hespanha, Jaison Robinson, and Victor Vescovo.
This is an interesting mission for several reasons, this is Evan Dick’s second go on a New Shepard rocket making him the first person to go up in the craft twice, Katya Echazarreta will become the first Mexican-born woman and youngest American woman to fly in space, and Victor Vescovo is an undersea explorer so not only will he have been to some of the deepest places on Earth but now he’s about to leave it altogether.
This mission will launch from the West Texas Suborbital Launch Site at 1:30 p.m. UTC and will be streamed on the Blue Origin website.
The first launch of the week was the Tianzhou-4 heading up to the Chinese Space Station.
There is also footage of the craft finally docking at its destination.
The final launch that there’s footage for is SpaceX’s Starlink 45 mission which took off on Friday, though, it has plans to launch more satellites this weekend.
This concludes our recap and launches for the coming week; if we missed anything feel free to comment below.