NASA TV Coverage Set for Next International Space Station Cargo Launch

Antares lifts off from Wallops Island with the Cygnus resupply ship on Feb. 20, 2021. (Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman are targeting 5:56 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Aug. 10, for the company’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage of the launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 5:30 p.m. NASA also will hold a prelaunch news briefing Monday, Aug. 9.

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Rocket Lab’s Electron Launches U.S. Military Satellite in Successful Return to Flight

Electron engine firing (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MAHIA PENINSULA, New Zealand — Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launched an U.S. Space Force satellite on Thursday in a successful return to flight for the small-satellite booster after a launch failure in May.

The booster lifted off with the USSF’s Monolith technology technology demonstration satellite. Deployment from the booster’s kick stage occurred less than an hour after liftoff from Rocket Lab’s facility on the Mahia Peninsula.

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NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Northrop Grumman’s 16th Commercial Resupply Services Launch

Antares lifts off from Wallops Island with the Cygnus resupply ship on Feb. 20, 2021. (Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of Northrop Grumman’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Members of the public can register to attend the launch virtually. NASA’s virtual guest program for NG CRS-16 includes curated launch resources, notifications about interaction opportunities, and a virtual guest passport stamp following a successful launch.

Northrop Grumman is targeting liftoff of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft for no earlier than 5:55 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 10, from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Northrop Grumman Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket for the National Reconnaissance Office

The Minotaur I rocket was launched from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Flight extends flawless record of Minotaur product line to 28 missions

WALLOPS, Va. – June 15, 2021 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) launched its Minotaur I rocket today at 9:35 a.m. EDT, successfully placing a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload into orbit. The Minotaur I was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0B at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

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Retired Major General Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer, Jr. Named CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority

Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer

RICHMOND (Gov. Ralph Northam PR) —Governor Ralph Northam today announced the selection of Major General Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer, Jr., United States Air Force (Retired) as the new Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space). General Mercer was appointed by the Virginia Space Board of Directors this morning and will assume the role on August 1, 2021 upon the retirement of Dale Nash, who has led Virginia Space since 2012.

“Major General Mercer has extensive experience in space with the United States Air Force and in industry, and his proven ability to bring partners to the table to work toward a shared goal will greatly benefit both Virginia Space and the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Under his leadership, Virginia is poised to maximize the investments we have made in our world-class spaceport and launch into the future as a leader in space exploration, research, and commerce.”

General Mercer brings decades of experience in the aerospace field and executive leadership in both the military and private sectors. In 2016, Mercer was named Director of the Interagency Planning Office for the “NextGen” program at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He later served as Director of the NextGen Collaboration and Messaging Office, where he ensured collaboration and coordination with partner agencies and other countries. Previously, he served 32 years with the United States Air Force, where his duties ranged from commanding the 30th Space Wing to commanding a space lift logistics group, developing national security policy, and serving as Deputy Director of Operations for the Air Force Space Command Headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

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How to Watch the Minotaur Launch From Wallops Island

Credit: NASA

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — Get up early June 15, grab a cup of coffee and watch the rise of Northrop Grumman’s Minotaur 1 rocket as it’s launched into space from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The rocket carrying three national security payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), is scheduled for launch at 7 a.m. June 15, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0B on Wallops Island. The U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise is providing the launch services for this mission.

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Northrop Grumman Set to Launch 15th Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS on Saturday

The NG-15 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the crew aboard the station. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

“S.S. Katherine Johnson” ready for liftoff aboard Antares rocket carrying vital supplies and equipment for the crew aboard the station

WALLOPS, Va., February 19, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is set to launch the company’s 15th resupply mission (NG-15) to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Service-2 contract. The NG-15 mission’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware for the crew aboard the station.

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Antares Flies, Falcon 9 Stays

An Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus resupply ship on Oct. 2, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

Update: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted the Falcon 9 launch was aborted due to an “nexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator. No word on when they will try launching again.

A Cygnus resupply ship carrying nearly 8,000 lb of cargo for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) was blasted into orbit by an Antares rocket on Friday night.

The Northrop Grumman booster lifted off on time at 9:16 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia. The flight followed a scrubbed launch on Thursday due to a software problem with ground equipment.

Cygnus, which is also a Northrop Grumman vehicle, is scheduled to arrive at the ISS early Monday morning.

Results were not as good on Friday night for SpaceX, which suffered its second Falcon 9 abort of the week in Florida. The countdown from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was halted two seconds prior to a planned 9:43 p.m. EDT liftoff for an unknown reason.

The rocket is carrying the GPS IIII SV-04 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.

On Thursday morning, the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites from nearby Kennedy Space Center was halted with 18 seconds left in the count due to an out family reading from a ground sensor.

Antares Scrub Makes It Three in a Row

Antares on the launch pad. (Credit: NASA webcast)

Ground sensors leave rockets stuck on Earth

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — A Northrop Grumman rocket carrying supplies for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) failed to get off the launch pad in Virginia on Thursday evening, marking the third scrubbed American launch in less than 24 hours.

A computer called an automatic halt to the launch of the Antares booster at 2 minutes 40 seconds before the planned liftoff at 9:43 p.m. EDT. The rocket is carrying a Cygnus resupply ship with cargo bound for ISS.

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Rocket Lab Completes Final Dress Rehearsal at Launch Complex 2 Ahead of First Electron Mission from U.S. Soil

Electron on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., 17 September 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a leading satellite manufacturer and launch provider, has successfully completed a wet dress rehearsal of the Electron vehicle at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia.

With this major milestone complete, the Electron launch vehicle, launch team, and the LC-2 pad systems are now ready for Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil. The mission is a dedicated launch for the United States Space Force in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division. 

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FAA Issues Launch Operator Licence to Rocket Lab for Wallops Island Pad

Electron booster on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif., September 1, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space systems company and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has been granted a five-year Launch Operator License by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Electron missions from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2.

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Minotaur IV Launches Classified Military Mission

A Northrop Grumman Minotaur IV successfully launched four National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payloads on Wednesday morning.

The four-stage, solid-fuel booster was launched at 9:46 a.m. EDT from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va.

The NROL-129 mission was the NRO’s 54th launch since 1996 and its first launch on a Minotaur IV. A Minotaur rocket last flew from Wallops in 2013.

Minotaur IV’s first three stages use solid rocket motors from decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. The commercial Orion 38 rocket motor is used as the fourth stage.

Minotaur IV is capable of launching payloads up to 1,730 kg (3,814 lb.) to low Earth orbit; The booster made its maiden flight in April 2010.

Minotaur Rocket Launching Wednesday Morning from NASA Wallops

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A Minotaur IV rocket carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is scheduled for launch July 15, 2020, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman, is scheduled for liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0B. The window opens at 9 a.m.

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Warner, Kaine Applaud $96,000 in Funding to Support Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport

WASHINGTON Mark Warner/Tim Kaine PR) – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $96,425 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Wallops Island. The grant was awarded through the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway grant program.

“We are glad to see these federal dollars go towards helping equip MARS with the resources it needs to continue to carry out important operations and research,” said the Senators. “We have no doubt that with this funding, this facility will continue to help boost our nation’s competitiveness in aeronautics.”

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