Launch vehicles

Blog about launch vehicles: rockets or aircraft

The first stage used to launch the BulgariaSat 1 satellite after its hard landing (Image SpaceX)

SpaceX has set a new record for a private company by launching two rockets in just over 48 hours. On Friday, from Cape Canaveral the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite was launched, while on Sunday, from the Vandenberg base in California 10 satellites of the Iridium NEXT constellation were launched. In both cases the first stage successfully landed.

The Falcon 9 rocket with a reused first stage blasting off (Photo SpaceX)

A few hours ago the SES-10 satellite was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The innovation compared to regular launches of this type is that the rocket’s first stage was already used in a previous mission. It’s the first time that this happens in an actual mission.

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage did its job and after the second stage successfully separated it landed for the second time on the “Of course I still love you” dron ship. It will be brought back to the mainland and subjected to a new series of checks and tests to understand how it endured its second mission.

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.