There’s not too much going on with rocket launches this week, SpaceX is going to be performing tests ready for the launch of its SN15 Starship and Blue Origin could finally launch New Shepard NS-15 which has been delayed for the last few weeks. If you read last week’s TWIRL article you might remember that a crewed mission was due to go to the ISS; the mission was successful and there are currently 10 people residing on the space station which is quite a lot of people to be in space at once.
Wednesday, April 14
Wednesday will be the first day that Blue Origin could launch its New Shepard NS-15 mission. A major caveat with this mission is that it’s marked as No Earlier Than which just means we won’t see any launch attempts before this date. The crew capsule has been upgraded for this flight to better suit the needs of astronauts that will be aboard for future missions. The crew will be involved in this mission but only to practice coming aboard and leaving the rocket again. The first crewed New Shepard mission will be NS-16.
When Blue Origin does finally go ahead with the launch, it will be live-streamed on its website and a replay will be available afterwards.
Thursday, April 15
The second and final launch of the week has also been discussed in previous editions of This Week in Rocket Launches (TWIRL). The launch will be performed by ExPace, a Chinese firm, which will launch a Kuaizhou KZ-1A rocket carrying the Jilin Gaofen 2D satellite which is also known as Jilin 28. It will join the Jilin 1 Earth observation constellation and take full-colour images from a 535 km altitude with a resolution better than 0.75 metres.
This mission is also marked with No Earlier Than so it could take off at a later date and there probably won’t be a live stream but we may see post-launch footage.
Soyuz MS-18 (mission to the ISS) recap
Starship SN15 status
Crews prepare Starship SN15 for more tests, potentially occurring this upcoming week with cryo proof testing. Meanwhile, crews attach new lines to the blunt nosecone with the black cap.— Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritist) April 11, 2021
Video from Mary (@BocaChicaGal) & NSF Robotic Camera Team
📺 https://t.co/BVV9Yny1b7 pic.twitter.com/g4mdLk05mC
It isn’t clear yet whether we’ll see a launch of SpaceX’s Starship SN15 this week. SpaceX has been prepping the rocket for some testing expected this week before the firm has another crack at trying to land the rocket. While the firm made significant progress on the landing with SN10, SN11 turned out to be less successful. The Starship rockets will be crucial over the next decade as SpaceX turns to this rocket to conduct its planned missions to Mars.
As always, the SN15 mission will be live-streamed by SpaceX and a replay will be made available after the event on the firm’s YouTube channel.