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TWIRL 94: Private mission to the Moon will launch this week instead

The TWIRL logo in front of the Moon

Last week, a private mission to the Moon involving a lunar lander and two rovers was supposed to take off. Unfortunately, it got delayed, but the mission looks set to go ahead on Wednesday this week. Other than that, there are a few other satellite launches from several countries around the world.

Tuesday, December 6

  • The first launch this week is a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying 40 OneWeb satellites. OneWeb is a competitor to SpaceX’s own Starlink network, but since OneWeb no longer has access to Russian rockets, it has been looking for other methods to get its satellites to space. The mission will launch at 10:37 p.m. UTC from Florida. It might be streamed live on SpaceX’s website.

Wednesday, December 7

On Wednesday, there are two launches.

  • The first launch is the private Chinese firm ExPace’s Kuaizhou KZ-11 rocket carrying Xingyun satellites 4 and 5. These satellites will sit in a low Earth orbit and act as a “constellation for Internet-of-Things communications”. This mission will launch at 1:15 a.m. UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and is unlikely to be streamed, but footage will be available after.
  • The second launch is a Falcon 9 carrying the Hakuto-R M1 mission to the Moon. This was delayed from last week. A lunar lander tech demo will be carrying commercial and governmental payloads, including two rovers that will explore the Moon’s surface. It’s due for launch at 8:04 a.m. UTC from Cape Canaveral and is already being streamed on YouTube.

Friday, December 9

  • Rocket Lab is due to launch an Electron rocket carrying some small radio frequency monitoring satellites to space for Hawkeye 360. In typical Rocket Lab fashion, the launch has an interesting name, this time it’s “Virginia is for Launch Lovers”. The launch is scheduled for between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. UTC from Wallops Island and may be shown on Rocket Lab’s website.

Sunday, December 11

  • The final mission of the week is the launch of a Chinese Long March 11 rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. It will be carrying the Shenjian 2013 satellite to space at 7:20 a.m. UTC, but it’s not clear what the satellite will do. Check next week’s recap for footage of the launch.


  • The first launch we got last week was a Long March 2F carrying three taikonauts to the Chinese Space Station. The three crew members were Junlong Fei, Qingming Deng, and Lu Zhang. They took off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
  • Once they reached the station, they had to dock, you can see that below.
  • Finally, the taikonauts entered the Chinese Space Station and met those already aboard.

That’s all we’ve got this week, be sure to check in next time!

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