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Launch

The OG2 mission carries 17 satellites (Image: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket today, carrying six Orbcomm OG2 communication satellites in the second mission flight of a Falcon booster equipped with landing legs. At 11:15 am EDT, the Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The launch comes on the heels of three aborted attempts. The first, on May 10, was cancelled due to a helium leak; a second on June 20, was scratched because of a depressurization alarm in the second stage; and a third, on June 21, was called off because of bad weather.  Read More

The Firefly Alpha uses methane fuel and a plug-aerospike engine

The signs of a healthy industry isn't just growth or innovation, but a tendency to reach out and fill niche markets. A case in point is the small satellite launch company Firefly Space Systems, which recently unveiled its planned Alpha launcher. Aimed at the small satellite launch market, it's designed to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) at very low cost with an unconventional aerospike engine. It is also the first orbital launcher to use methane as fuel.  Read More

An F/A-18C Hornet is launched from a test runway using EMALS (Image: US Navy)

A fighter plane taking off from a strike carrier is a dramatic sight – not the least because of the woosh and plume of steam as the catapult blasts the aircraft into the air. In a few years, such launches may still be dramatic, but they’ll also be a bit quieter and very plume-free. That’s because the US Navy has completed testing of its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS); clearing it for use on the new Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carriers.  Read More

Falcon 9 on the launch pad

SpaceX today aborted the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying six Orbcomm OG2 communication satellites; the second mission flight of a Falcon booster equipped with landing legs. Six minutes and nine seconds before the lift off, mission control declared the abort due to a problem with the second stage of the rocket.  Read More

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off after three previous launches were scrubbed (Photo: SpaceX)...

It took four tries, but SpaceX’s CRS-3 mission is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). Today at 3:25:21PM, EDT, the unmanned Dragon cargo spacecraft lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in rainy, overcast weather that NASA said only gave the launch a 40 percent chance of going ahead without delay. The successful launch is SpaceX’s third cargo mission to the ISS and its fourth visit to the station.  Read More

Monday's SpaceX Dragon CRS-3 launch was scrubbed due to a helium leak

Unfortunately, it wasn't third time's a charm for the SpaceX CRS-3 mission to send an unmanned Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS). In a statement today, SpaceX announced that the Monday launch of the Falcon 9 rocket has been rescheduled until April 18 because of a helium leak in the first stage. However, weather forecasts show conditions around Cape Canaveral deteriorating as the week progresses, so even that date is tentative.  Read More

CRS-3 undergoing static firing tests prior to launch

SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has once again been scrubbed. On Friday, NASA confirmed that the launch of the unmanned cargo ship has been delayed due to the failure of a tracking radar, which meant that the launch could not meet the minimum public safety requirements.  Read More

An Atlas V 551 launches the Pluto New Horizons probe toward the fringes of the Solar Syste...

Lockheed-Martin (LM) has a problem. Their Atlas V orbital launch system, while very popular with the US military, at around US$225M per launch is too expensive to compete effectively for commercial missions, whose launch costs are generally about half that amount. As part of an effort to reposition their services, LM is now offering a 100 percent money-back or reflight guarantee if the launch vehicle causes mission failure. The guarantee covers the cost of the vehicle launch, but not the cost of the satellite.  Read More

The sounding rocket loaded with sensory equipment, being launched into the aurora (Photo: ...

NASA scientists have successfully launched a sounding rocket into the heart of an aurora. The launch, which took place on March 3rd, was part of the NASA-funded Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics-Electrons Correlative Experiment (GREECE) mission, the purpose of which is to discern the cause of the distinctive shape of auroral curls.  Read More

An Antares launch vehicle boosts the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft on it's way to the...

Orbital Sciences Corporation today successfully launched the first of eight Cygnus cargo supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Orbital's Antares medium-lift rocket (originally called the Taurus II) carried the Cygnus into an initial orbit of 135 x 175 miles (220 x 280 km), inclined at 51.6 degrees relative to the equator. The Cygnus is flying solo now, with full communications and deployed solar arrays, carrying roughly 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) of cargo toward a January 12 rendezvous and docking with the ISS.  Read More

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