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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.

The Sentinel-1B satellite blasting off atop a Soyuz-STA rocket (Photo ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut)

A few hours ago, the Sentinel-1B satellite, part of the Copernicus / GMES, was launched from the Kourou spaceport, in French Guiana, on a Soyuz-STA/Fregat-M rocket. After about 25 minutes, the satellite regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage and started sending signals. Along with it some nanosatellites of the CubeSat type and the Microscope microsatellite of the French space agency CNES were launched.

The Progress MS-2 space cargo ship blasting off atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the Progress MS-2 spacecraft blasted off atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After about ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its route. The cargo spacecraft has started its resupply mission to the International Space Station also called Progress 63. The spacecraft was launched in the route that requires two days of travel.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus "Rick Husband" space cargo ship blasting off atop an Atlas V rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. After about twenty minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its route. It’s in its fifth official mission, called Orbital-6 or simply Orb-6 but also CRS OA-6, of supply transport to the International Space Station for NASA.