Launch vehicles

Blog about launch vehicles: rockets or aircraft

The Dragon V2 spacecraft presented by Elon Musk (Photo courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, has announced that his company was hired to send two people on a private journey around the Moon in 2018. Musk didn’t reveal the two persons’ identity nor indicated the journey’s cost but merely stated that they have already paid a substantial deposit. The journey will be made on the Dragon V2 spacecraft, the version developed precisely for manned missions, which will be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket.

The Cygnus space cargo ship blasting off atop an Antares rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It was late afternoon in California when Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), part of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage went en route to its destination. This is its sixth official mission, called Orbital-5 or simply Orb-5 but also CRS OA-5, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.

SpaceX Red Dragon spacecraft on Mars' surface (Image courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

SpaceX announced plans to send its first commercial mission to the planet Mars as early as 2018. In Elon Musk’s company’s plans, the journey will be carried out automatically by the Red Dragon spacecraft, a variant of the Dragon 2. The Red Dragon will be launched atop a Falcon Heavy rocket, the version of SpaceX rocket with two additional boosters. NASA will provide technical support but will not fund the mission.

SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket in the CRS-8 mission (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-8 (Cargo Resupply Service) mission, also referred to as SPX-8. After about twelve minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 8th of 12 missions that include sending the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

The Jason-3 satellite right after blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It was morning in California when the Jason-3 satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg U.S. Air Force Base. After nearly an hour it separated from the rocket’s upper stage and started deploying its solar panels. It will operate from a low Earth orbit of polar type, which means that it will pass over the poles, with an altitude between 1,328 and 1,380 kilometers (825 to 860 miles).