SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket – mission Starlink 24 – on the evening of April 28, 2021, aiming for an orbit 180 miles (291 km) up, where it successfully offloaded its cargo of another 60 Starlink satellites. Meanwhile, the Russian cargo ship Progress MS-14 successfully undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) after it had spent a year docked to its Zvezda module. The cargo ship was launched on April 25, 2020, from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On April 29, 2021, it was intentionally destroyed in the atmosphere upon re-entry. EarthSky readers submitted photographs of both space vessels, taken from Florida and Russia.
Bottom line: Just hours apart, one space vessel left the Earth to drop off satellites into orbit and another came down, after having been attached to the International Space Station for just over a year. Wow! It feels as if we’re living in a Space Age now, doesn’t it? Photos here.
Theresa Wiegert is a Swedish-Canadian astronomer with a Ph.D. in astrophysics and a master's in physics. She has loved the sky and everything in it and beyond ever since she was four years old and asked her father about the very bright star she saw one early Christmas morning. Learning it wasn’t a star but the planet Venus, she started reading anything astronomy-related she could find. Eventually she ended up as a radio astronomer, researching gas in spiral galaxies. She loves science outreach and teaching, especially showing the night sky to groups of kids (and adults!).