Launches

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket blasting off in its Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission (Photo NASA/Joel Kowsky)

A few hours ago SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral on a mission involving the launch of various satellites in low and medium Earth orbit. The most powerful rocket in business launched satellites on behalf of NASA, the US Air Force and other entities, incuding CubeSat-class nanosatellites built by students. The mission required four burns for the Falcon Heavy rocket’s upper stage to place them in the various orbits required. The mass of the payloads to be taken into orbit was relatively small – around 3,700 kg – but the second stage needed a lot of fuel to carry out all the maneuvers required in this mission, therefore the initial thrust of the Falcon Heavy was needed.

60 Starlink satellites blasting off a Falcon 9 rocket (Image courtesy SpaceX)

A few hours ago 60 satellites of the Starlink constellation were launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. After just over an hour they were successfully deployed into their orbit at an altitude of about 440 kilometers all together and then started slowly disperse. This is SpaceX’s first mission to put the Starlink constellation into orbit to provide a global Internet connection coverage.

The Dragon space cargo ship starting its CRS-17 mission blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-17 (Cargo Resupply Service 17) mission, also referred to as SPX-17. After just over ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 17th mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

The Cygnus "Roger Chaffee" cargo spacecraft blasting off atop an Antares rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A few hours ago Northrop Grumman’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 11th official mission, called NG-11 but also CRS NG-11, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA, the second for Northrop Grumman Corporation after completing the acquisition of Orbital ATK.

The Falcon Heavy blasting off carrying the Arabsat-6A satellite (Photo courtesy SpaceX)

It was afternoon in Florida when SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral on its first commercial mission. The most powerful rocket in activity launched the Arabsat-6A satellite, which after about 34 minutes separated from the rocket’s last stage entering a transit orbit from where it started the maneuvers that will take it towards a geostationary orbit within a bit more than two weeks.