2018

The Long March 3B rocket blasting off starting the Chang'e 4 mission (Photo courtesy Xinhua)

It was night in China when a rover and a lander were launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center starting the Chang’e 4 mission. After about half an hour, lander and rover, after successfully separating from the rocket’s third stage entered the orbit where they’ll start the series of maneuvers that will bring them en route to the Moon.

A catalog of gravitational wave detections includes 4 new events

Two articles published on the arXiv server show a catalog of gravitational wave events detected by the LIGO and Virgo collaborations and the inferred properties concerning the black hole pairs discovered in the mergers. So far, 7 events were announced but the analysis of the data led to the discovery of 4 more events of which one was detected by Virgo as well. Of the 11 now known, there’s the one that became famous because it was generated by two neutron stars that led to a kilonova while the other 10 were generated by black hole pairs.

The Dragon cargo spacecraft starting its CRS-16 mission blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-16 (Cargo Resupply Service 16) mission, also referred to as SPX-16. After just over ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 16th mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

The Falcon 9 rocket Blasting off for its SSO-A SmallSat Express mission (Image courtesy SpaceX)

It was morning in California when SpaceX started a new record mission with the launch from the Vandenberg base of a Falcon 9 rocket whose first stage was on its third flight. Everything worked well, including the third controlled landing. In the meantime, the second stage brought a group of 64 small satellites into orbit and within about half an hour they were put into a Sun-synchronous orbit, hence the name SSO-A SmallSat Express mission. For SpaceX it was the 19th mission of the year, passing the 18 completed in 2017.