The LISA Pathfinder space probe blasting off atop a Vega rocket (Photo ESA–Stephane Corvaja)

A few hours ago ESA’s LISA Pathfinder space probe was successfully launched atop a Vega rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana. After about an hour and 45 minutes it separated from the rocket’s upper stage and activated to begin its long journey thanks to its propulsion module.

LISA Pathfinder entered an elliptical orbit where it will make a series of maneuvers that within a few weeks will take it to the area called L1, where the gravity of the Earth and the Sun get balanced with the other forces acting on the probe. The propulsion module will be disconnected after exhausting its function and the probe will remain in the L1 area, about 1.5 million kilometers (about 900,000 miles) from Earth.

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.

Astrosat blasting off atop a PSLV-XL rocket (Photo courtesy ISRO. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Astrosat space observatory was launched on a PSLV-XL rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the flight listed as PSLV-C30 by ISRO, the Indian space agency. After about 22 minutes Astrosat regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage to enter an orbit close to the equator at an altitude of about 650 kilometers (about 400 miles). Along with it six satellites were launched for customers of different nations: the Indonesian Lapan-A2 microsatellite, the Canadian NLS-14 (EV9) microsatellite and four USA LEMUR nanosatellites.