Weekly Space Recap: August 21 – August 27

Here are some of the stories you may have missed in the past week. The fourth week of August 2023 featured SpaceX hitting a Starlink milestone, India landing on the Moon, Rocket Lab moving forward with reusability, and more Starship testing.

SpaceX launches 100th dedicated Starlink mission – Starlink Group 7-1 launched from California and deployed 21 V2 mini-satellites into orbit following a short delay caused by Hurricane Hilary. This mission also featured the 15th flight of Booster 1061.

India lands Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon – India became the 4th country to successfully land on the Moon and landed the closest to the Southern pole of any country. After landing, The Pragyan rover was deployed and has begun roaming the surface of the Moon conducting experiments, and the Vikram lander has also begun its own set of experiments during the ~12-day mission.

Rocket Lab launches 40th mission – After issues on the original Electron assigned to this mission, Rocket Lab switched it out for a booster intended for recovery, and it featured the reuse of a Rutherford engine. CEO Peter Beck said the first stage and re-used engine performed perfectly, and the booster was recovered from the ocean for analysis as the company moves closer to reusing the entire first-stage rocket.

Starship performs 2nd static fire test – After a trip to the production site to add a hot stage ring, Booster 9 rolled back to the launch site for a series of tests culminating in a static fire. SpaceX confirmed all 33 engines ignited, but 2 shut down early during the ~5-second test fire. This is an improvement over the last static fire, which shut down early. Elon Musk has said they expect the next Starship test flight to happen “soon.”

Crew 7 launches and docks to the ISS – Crew 7 successfully launched from LC-39A on August 26th, and after a day of catching up to the Space Station, Crew Dragon Endurance autonomously docked. Crew 7 will now spend the next 6 months aboard the ISS, and sometime next week, Crew 6 will make its return to Earth.

Crew 7 continuing to orbit while the Falcon 9 first stage performs a boostback burn (Credit: Richard Angle)

5,000th Starlink launched into space – 22 V2 mini Starlinks launched from LC-40 in Florida the evening of the 26th, hours after the Crew 7 launch. This mission brought the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 5,005. This flight featured the 3rd flight, Booster 1081, which successfully landed on the droneship. However, that booster has still not arrived back in Port Canaveral, the port is closed due to high winds from Hurricane Idalia passing to the North.

ULA readies for the first Atlas V launch of the year – The Atlas V was rolled to the LC-41 in Florida and prepped for launch, but due to Hurricane Idalia, ULA rolled the Atlas V back to the Vertical Integration Facility to keep the rocket and secretive NRO payload safe until the storm passes. ULA will confirm a new launch date soon.

What do you think of last week’s news? Rocket Lab made big strides for reusability, India became the 4th country to soft-land on the Moon, and as always, SpaceX was non-stop with Starship testing and Falcon 9 launches!

Thanks for reading the Weekly Space Recap!

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at rangle@teslarati.com, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
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