Launches

The Cygnus "J.R. Thompson" cargo spacecraft blasting off atop an Antares rocket (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago 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 ninth official mission, called Orbital-9 or simply Orb-9 but also CRS OA-9, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.

The Falcon 9 rocket with a Block 5 first stage blasting off (Image courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Bangabandhu-1 was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage in its new version, called Block 5, at its debut. After about 33 minutes it separated from the rocket’s last stage and starte the series of maneuvers that will bring it into a geostationary orbit.

The Block 5 version of the first stage, also called a booster, includes a lot of improvements for the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX didn’t reveal all the details but a lot of information were provided by the company’s executives or leaked anyway. Various advancements concern performance, meeting NASA’s demands for manned launches, but above all with concern re-use possibilities, a crucial factor in Elon Musk’s company plans.

The InSight lander and the MarCO nanosatellites blasting off atop an Atlas V 401 rocket (Image NASA TV)

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.

The Sentinel-3B satellite blasting off atop a Rockot rocket (Photo ESA - S. Corvaja)

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).

NASA's TESS space telescope blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Foto SpaceX)

A few hours ago NASA’s TESS space telescope blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. After almost 50 minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and reached a transfer orbit where it will start a number of maneuvers that in about two months will take it to the very elliptical final orbit where it will begin its scientific mission.