Mars 2020 Rover Closer to Getting Name

An engineer works on attaching NASA’s Mars Helicopter to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover – which has been flipped over for that purpose – on Aug. 27, 2019, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is one step closer to having its own name after 155 students across the U.S. were chosen as semifinalists in the “Name the Rover” essay contest. Just one will be selected to win the grand prize — the exciting honor of naming the rover and an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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SpaceX Launches 60 More Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9’s first stage conducts an entry burn as its second stage continues toward orbit. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX conducted its third launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Monday, January 6 at 9:19 p.m. EST.

Falcon 9’s first stage supported a Starlink mission in May 2019, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Communications Satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Monday, December 16 at 7:10 p.m. EST, SpaceX launched JCSAT-18/Kacific1 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellite was deployed approximately 33 minutes after liftoff.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to International Space Station

Falcon 9 launches the CRS-19 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon resupply ship with approximately 5,700 pounds of cargo for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The booster lifted off at 12:29 EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon separated from the second stage and deployed its solar arrays to begin a 2.5 day trip to space station.

This is SpaceX’s nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission under a contract with NASA. The Dragon spacecraft has previously flown on two previous resupply missions to ISS.

Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship. The landing marked the 46th successful recovery of a Falcon first stage.

The launch was the first of two resupply missions in less than 24 hours. Roscosmos will launch the Progress 74 cargo ship on Friday.

NASA TV’s coverage of the two missions is below.

Upcoming NASA TV Live Events (All Times Eastern)

Friday, Dec. 6, 4:15 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft launch to International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 4:34 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft rendezvous, grapple and attaching to the International Space Station.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft installation to the International Space Station. Dragon will be installed to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station.

Monday, Dec. 9, 4:45 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft docking to International Space Station. The spacecraft is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m.

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 first stage performs an entry burn as the second stage continues to orbit. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites on Monday, doubling the number of spacecraft in the broadband Internet constellation.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on time at 9:56 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites were deployed an hour after liftoff.

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SpaceX Starlink Launch Details

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Monday, November 11 at 9:56 a.m. EST, 14:56 UTC, for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. A backup launch opportunity is available at 9:34 a.m. EST, 14:34 UTC, on Tuesday, November 12.

The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast. High-resolution photos will be posted at flickr.com/spacex.

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Boeing Starliner Commercial Crew Delay: ~3 Years

Boeing’s first crewed Starliner finished initial production at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. and is readied for its cross-country trip. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.

Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.

In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.

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Pegasus XL Launches ICON on Mission to Explore Frontier of Space

Illustration of ICON spacecraft. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — After successfully launching Thursday night, NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft is in orbit for a first-of-its-kind mission to study a region of space where changes can disrupt communications and satellite orbits, and even increase radiation risks to astronauts.

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NASA’s ICON to Explore Boundary Between Earth and Space

Illustration of ICON spacecraft. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

UPDATE: Due to weather in the area, NASA and Northrop Grumman have decided to move the Pegasus XL and ICON launch 24-hours to October 10 at 9:30 p.m., with takeoff of the Stargazer L-1011 at 8:32 p.m. NASA’s live broadcast will begin tomorrow at 9:15 p.m. on www.nasa.gov/live.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Oct.10, 2019, NASA launches the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, a spacecraft that will explore the dynamic region where Earth meets space: the ionosphere.   

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Upcoming Launches Include Mission Extension Vehicle, ICON and Starlink Satellites

Mission Extension Vehicle refuels satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Four upcoming launches in the United States, Russia and New Zealand feature payloads to refuel a communications satellite, study space weather, expand SpaceX’s Starlink network, and test out new technology.

October 9

Proton
Payloads: Eutelsat 5 West B communications satellite, Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV 1)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Time: 6:17 a.m. EDT (1017 GMT )

This is the first flight of the MEV, which will refuel the Intelsat 901 communications satellite. Both satellites on this launch were built by Northrop Grumman.

October 9/10

Pegasus XL
Payload: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Platform: Stargazer L-1011 aircraft
Departure Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Window: 9:25-10:55 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9 (0125-0255 GMT on Oct. 10)

NASA’s ICON mission will study disturbances in the ionosphere caused by terrestrial weather and solar storms that disrupt radio transmissions and GPS navigation. ICON has suffered repeated delays due to technical problems. The original launch date was in June 2017. The launch is being conducted by Northrop Grumman.

October 14/15

Electron
Payloads: Palisade CubeSat
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Window: 7:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Oct. 14 (2300-0300 GMT on Oct. 14/15)

Rocket Lab’s “As The Crow Flies” mission is the ninth launch of the Electron rocket Astro Digital’s Palisade technology demonstration satellite is a 16U CubeSat with a next-generation communications system and an an on-board propulsion system.

NET October 17

Falcon 9
Payloads: ~ 60 Starlink 1 communications satellites
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: TBD

SpaceX will launch the second group of Starlink 1 broadband satellites no earlier than Oct. 17.

USAF Awards ULA Contract for Atlas V Launches

Atlas V launches Orbital ATK-designed satellites for the U.S. Air Force. (Credit: ULA)

LOS ANGELES (DOD PR) — United Launch Services, Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a $98,549,235 firm-fixed-price contract for Atlas V Completion launch services. 

This contract provides launch service completion for three National Security Space Launch Atlas V missions (two Air Force and one National Reconnaissance Office) previously ordered under contract FA8811-13-C-0003. 

Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado; Decatur, Alabama; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2020.  This award is the result of a sole source acquisition. 

Fiscal 2019 and 2020 procurement funds are being obligated at the time of award.  The Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity.

NASA Prepares to Launch ICON — Again

ICON spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019.

The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue.

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Commercial Crew Astronauts, Ground Teams Put Emergency Escape Procedures to Test

An emergency medical technician cares for an astronaut with simulated injuries during a joint emergency escape and triage exercise led by NASA, along with Boeing and United Launch Alliance, at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 24, 2019. The simulation is part of a series in preparation for upcoming crew flights to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA led a joint emergency escape and triage simulation with Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) on July 24 at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida in preparation for upcoming crew flights to the International Space Station. The exercise ranged from astronauts and support teams quickly escaping the launch pad to emergency personnel practicing rescue and life support procedures focused on the safety of the launch site teams.

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Atlas V Launch Set for Thursday

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Aug. 5, 2019 (ULA PR)) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The launch is planned for Aug. 8 at Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Today’s forecast shows a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The two hour launch window begins at 5:44 a.m. ET.

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Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)