Launch vehicles

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).

The Falcon 9 rocket blasting off with 11 ORBCOMM satellites (Image courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

The new version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral in its return to the activity after the June 28, 2015 mishap. It was carrying 11 satellites ORBCOMM, part of the OG2 mission. A secondary objective was the new controlled landing test of the rocket’s first stage, which for the first time had to reach the mainland. The mission was a triumph with the success in the landing and the satellites deployment.

The Super Strypi rocket on the launch pad on October 23, 2015 (Photo USAF)

A few hours ago the first test launch of the Super Strypi rocket in the mission referred to as ORS-4 was conducted but ended in failure. The rocket regularly blasted off from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii but after about a minute lost control and after a few seconds broku up with the consequent destruction of the 13 satellites it was supposed to put in orbit.