Falcon Heavy’s first commercial launch occurred at Kennedy Space Center, 11 April 2019 at 2235 UTC. SpaceX delivered Arabsat-6A to geostationary transfer orbit shortly thereafter at about 2309 UTC. The 3520 kg communications satellite, built for the Arabsat organization around the Lockheed LM2100 bus, will serve the Middle East and Africa from 30.5° E. The new spacecraft will replace the older Arabsat-5A.
SpaceX recovered all three of the first-stage boosters, including the core booster, which was not recovered during Falcon Heavy’s only other launch – the dramatic “Starman” mission – a test launch which, in the absence of a third party customer, instead launched a Tesla Roadster helmed by a spacesuited mannequin deep into interplanetary space.
Now that Falcon Heavy is operational, its future appears bright, as the heavy-lift rocket has been cited as an off-the-shelf fallback option for the United States’ ambitious schedule for crewed lunar missions, as the oft-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) program struggles through its test phase.
SpaceIL engineers looked on in concern as the Beresheet spacecraft’s main engine unintentionally shut down during the critical landing phase of its mission, in the moments after 1919 UT 11 April 2019.
SpaceIL valiantly attempted to reset the spacecraft control systems. However, by the designated landing time the spacecraft did not check in. While Israel became the fourth country to land on the Moon, rather than pictures of the surface, there is at least an artificial crater in the Sea of Serenity.
Today, David Saint-Jacques showed off the suit that carried him on his recent spacewalk, and shed light on the human experience of space travel, with journalists in Montréal. Following the walk, Saint-Jacques was tired but happy, and as always proud to represent Canada, Québec, Montréal, the future of science and technology, and the dream of space travel.
Ryugu is a little bit smaller after a controlled explosion was set off on its upper limb this morning. Hayabusa2’s detachable camera DCAM3 captured the image while the larger probe was safely on the far side of the asteroid.
Meanwhile, at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas, the Starship “Hopper” testbed was obscured by fog as watchers waited for it to fire a second time after its dramatic 3 April lighting.
CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques spoke in French and English to FIRST Robotics students in Québec this afternoon, amid preparations for his first spacewalk scheduled for Monday morning alongside Anne McClain.
Also, yesterday SpaceIL’s Beresheet probe completed its insertion into lunar orbit. If you’d like to check its progress, there’s a nice website where you can view its current and historical trajectory, as it counts down a little more than 6 days to a lunar landing.
April 4 saw two orbital missions, one space probe milestone, and a rocket ground test.
The Progress MS-11 resupply mission reached the International Space Station at 1422 UT, following two orbits and a launch from Baikonur on a Soyuz-2 rocket at 1101. The capsule delivered 3.4 t of spare parts, fuel, and consumables. The successful mission is another sign that life is returning to normal on the station, which returned to a full crew of six astronauts after Soyuz MS-12 arrived three weeks ago.
At 1704, Arianespace launched four commsats for SES/o3b on Soyuz mission VS22. Much like the existing o3b fleet, the new satellites will operate at a 8000-km medium-earth orbit, and provide high-speed internet through targetable spot-beams. Though other firms are building low-earth orbit Internet constellations, for the moment o3b is the highest-performance option among systems that are fully operational. It is also relatively expensive and mainly filling an enterprise backhaul role for ISPs and wireless providers, rather than a direct-to-consumer model.
We are happy to announce The Fargo Orbit, which will provide news on aerospace and scientific endeavours in central North America, from the Great Plains to Hudson’s Bay, from the Great Lakes to the Rockies, and beyond!
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