Launches

The Russian spacecraft Progress M-28M blasting off atop a Soyuz U rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Progress M-28M spacecraft blasted off on a Soyuz U rocket from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan in a resupply mission to the International Space Station also referred to as Progress 60. Less than ten minutes after the launch, the cargo spaceship regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage, entered a preliminary orbit and deployed its solar panels and navigation antennas. After recent failures in the launches of cargo spaceships, one hopes that this mission may once again be the routine we had become used to.

The X-37B shuttle blasting off atop an Atlas V 501 rocket starting its OTV-4 mission (Screenshot from ULA webcast)

The mini-shuttle X-37B blasted off atop an Atlas V 501 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The launch seems to have gone well but ULA (United Launch Alliance), which manages it, broadcat the images providing information on the progress of the operations just for a few minutes. That’s because the mission of this spaceplane is carried out by the US Air Force and is partially covered by military secret.

The DSCOVR satellite lifting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Photo NASA/Tony Gray and Tim Powers)

The DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) satellite was launched a few hours ago on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral. The spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage after about half an hour and inserted in the trajectory that will bring it to its destination. It also deployed its solar panels and sent the first signals, confirming that it’s working properly.

DSCOVR will be placed in an area called L1, about a half million kilometers (about 930,000 miles) from Earth, where the planet and the Sun’s gravity are balanced. There it will begin its mission of observation of the solar wind after the test period, that will last about 40 days.

The SMAP satellite lifting off atop a Delta II rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite was launched on a Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 7320-10LC (SLC-2) of the base of Vandenberg, California. The spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage after almost an hour and was placed in a sun-synchronous almost polar orbit that will have an altitude between 660 and 685 km (between 410 and 426 miles).