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Launch

— Space

First high speed laser communication satellite set for launch

Space-based laser communications are moving out of the testing phase and into orbit as the first satellite in the European DAta Relay System (EDRS), or SpaceDataHighway, prepares for launch at the end of January. Likened to having a fiber optic cable in space, the 1.8 Gigabit per second system is a joint public–private partnership between Airbus Defence and Space and ESA that will act as a relay system between ground stations, satellites, and aircraft.

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— Space

Potential delay for first test flight of India's spaceplane demonstrator

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) may have to delay the first test flight of its experimental Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) spaceplane. The unmanned sub-orbital spacecraft, which is similar in design to the US Air Force's X-37B, was scheduled to be launched in February, but technical difficulties may put back the flight to the first week of April.

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— Space

Faulty instrument delays Mars lander launch

NASA's next big Mars mission will have to wait a couple of years due to a faulty piece of equipment that won't stay fixed. The space agency announced today that the launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander mission scheduled for next March has been scrubbed due to a persistent vacuum leak in the lander's primary science instrument. A new launch date has yet to be determined.

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— Space

SpaceX static firing test of Falcon 9

SpaceX has announced that its Falcon 9 rocket may head back into space on Sunday after being grounded for nearly six months due to a mid-air explosion. The improved version of the booster carried out a static test firing on Friday at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in preparation for the mission to send 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. If the results of the test prove positive, the launch will go forward on December 20.

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— Space

Elon Musk announces December 19 launch date for next Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX is heading back into orbit with founder and CEO Elon Musk announcing that a Falcon 9 rocket launch is scheduled for December 19. The improved version of the rocket is set to lift off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and will carry 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. This marks the first flight of the Falcon 9 since the June 28 mid-air explosion of the CRS-7 mission shortly after launch.

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Cygnus cargo ship launch scrubbed due to bad weather

Today's launch of Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) has been scrubbed. According to NASA, thick cloud and disturbed weather at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida prohibited the liftoff of the unmanned Orbital Sciences/ATK Cygnus CRS-4 mission and launch control ordered a 24-hr postponement at 6:11 pm EST.

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— Space

First commercial launch for Japan's H-IIA rocket platform

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have announced that the Telesat Telstar 12 VANTAGE satellite today made a successful launch from the Yoshinobu launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center. The broadcast and telecommunication satellite lifted off at 3:50 pm JST atop the upgraded H-IIA Launch vehicle No. 29 (H-IIA F29). The launch was the first using the H-IIA upgraded second stage and the first commercial launch for the platform.

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— Space

Soyuz spacecraft docks with ISS despite failing to deploy solar panel

A Russian-made Soyuz TMA-17M blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome last night, as it undertook a journey to the International Space Station. Aboard the spacecraft was NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Kimiya Yui. The initial launch proceeded without incident, with the rocket successfully reaching preliminary staging orbit. However, soon after reaching space it became apparent that the spacecraft's port solar array had failed to open.

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