Delta IV Heavy, Chinese Space Station Launches on Tap for This Week

A Delta IV Heavy launches the NROL-44 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

The month of April is concluding with a string of launches from Russia, the United States, China and South America. Things kicked off on Friday with SpaceX’s launch of Crew-2 to the International Space Station (ISS). On Sunday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellite broadband spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

One of the final United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rockets is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. That flight will be followed by the fifth launch of China’s Long March 6 booster. Launches by Europe’s Vega and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are scheduled over the next two days.

China will close out the month on Thursday by launching Tianhe-1 core module for that nation’s first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B booster.

The full schedule for the week is below.

Monday, April 26

Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-82 reconnaissance Satellite
Launch Time: 4:46 p.m. EDT/1:46 p.m. PDT (2046 GMT)
Launch Site:
 Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

There will only be three more Delta IV Heavy launches after this one. The weather forecast is only 40 percent favorable for the launch.

Monday/Tuesday, April 26/27

Launch Vehicle: Long March 6
Payloads: Qilu-1 and Qilu-4 Earth observation satellites, rideshare payloads
Launch Time: 11:20 p.m. EDT on April 26 (0320 GMT on April 27)
Launch Site: Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, China

Wednesday, April 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink satellite broadband spacecraft
Launch Time: 12:05 a.m. EDT (0405 GMT)
Launch Site:
 Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.

25th batch of Starlink satellites

Wednesday/Thursday, April 28/29

Launch Vehicle: Vega
Payload: Pléiades Neo 3 Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 9:50 p.m. EDT on April 27 (0150 GMT on April 28)
Launch Site:
 Kourou, French Guiana

Thursday, April 29

Launch Vehicle: Long March 5B
Payload: Tianhe 1 space station core
Launch Time: TBA
Launc Site:
 Wenchang Space Launch Site, China

Tianhe 1 will serve as the core module for China’s first permanent space station.