A few hours ago, the two GRACE-FO twin spacecraft were launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg base. After about ten minutes they successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and entered a polar orbit. Shortly thereafter they started transmitting telemetry signals. SpaceX’s mission continued with the launch of 5 satellites of the Iridium constellation.
A few hours ago NASA’s InSight lander was launched together with the two Mars Cube One nanosatellites from the Vandenberg base on an Atlas V 401 rocket. After about 1.5 hours they separated from the rocket’s last stage, called Centaur, and went en route to Mars.
The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission aims to investigate the geology of the planet Mars. A lander equipped with a seismometer, a thermal sensor and other instruments that will analyze the red planet’s internal structure. This will allow to obtain new data on its formation, also contributing to the existing models on the formation of rocky planets such as the Earth.
A few hours ago the Sentinel-3B satellite, part of the GMES / Copernicus program, was launched from the Russian Plesetsk Cosmodrome on a Rockot launch vehicle. After about an hour and a half it separated from the rocket’s last stage, called Breeze KM, it started communicating with the control center and to deploy its solar panels. Its final orbit is Sun-synchronous, which means it will pass over a certain area of the Earth at the same local time, with an altitude of about 815 kilometers (about 506 miles).
A little while ago the JPSS-1 satellite blasted off atop a Delta 2 rocket in its 7920 configuration from the Vandenberg base. After almost one hour it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and entered a Sun-synchronous orbit, meaning it will fly over every area of the Earth’s surface at the same local time, at an altitude of about 824 kilometers (512 miles).
A few hours ago, the Sentinel-5P satellite of the Copernicus / GMES program, blasted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia, on a Rockot with a Briz-KM upper stage rocket. The satellite regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage and after about an hour and a half started sending signals.
The Sentinel-5P – where “P” stands for Precursor – satellite is the first of the Copernicus constellation devoted to atmospheric monitoring. The term Precursor is due to the fact that it’s the forerunner of the future Sentinel-5 satellite and represents a step forward compared to Envisat. It will complement the EUMETSAT’s MetOp meteorological satellites and work in coordination with the Suomi-NPP American mission, which began in 2011 with similar aims.