Spacewatch: you wait ages for a rocket launch then …

It’s been a busy week for rocket launches. Europe, China, India and Russia have all sent payloads into space in the last seven days.

Starting on 23 November, China launched two navigation satellites as part of their growing BeiDou navigation satellite constellation.

After the launch from the Xichang spaceport, a video appeared on the country’s social media platform Weibo that claimed to show damage caused by one of the Long March 3B’s jettisoned rocket boosters falling on a village.

Russia launched next, sending a top secret military satellite into orbit on 25 November from its launch site at Plesetsk. After a four-day delay, blamed on a power supply anomaly and bad weather, Europe’s fourth Ariane 5 flight of the year took to the skies from Kourou, French Guiana.

Launching on 26 November, it carried Tiba-1, Egypt’s first military communications satellite, and GX5, the fifth satellite in Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network, which beams the internet to aircraft, shipping and remote locations.

Rounding out the week-long launch spree, on 27 November, India launched its highest resolution Earth observation satellite, Cartosat-3, along with 13 small American “cubesats”.

Cartosat-3 is a civilian satellite and is capable of taking images from orbit that can resolve details just 2cm across.


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