Rocket Lab Launches NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission to the Moon

An image of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, launching aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Credits: Rocket Lab

A microwave oven–sized cubesat launched to space today from New Zealand by commercial company Rocket Lab and their Electron rocket. The small satellite will conduct tests to make sure the unique lunar orbit for NASA’s future Lunar Gateway is actually stable.  

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, mission launched at 5:55 a.m. EDT (09:55 UTC) on Tuesday June 28 from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand. The Electron has now flown 27 times with 24 successes and 3 failures.

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South Korea is now a Space-Faring Nation With the Orbital Launch of Their Homegrown Nuri Rocket

It looks like South Korea just joined the most exclusive club on the planet! With the launch of its Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle II (KSLV-II aka. the “Nuri” rocket) on June 21st, the country became the latest nation to demonstrate its ability to build and launch its own rockets to space. This was the Nuri’s second launch attempt, which took place eight months after the first attempt failed to deliver a test satellite to orbit back. This time, the rocket managed to reach space and deliver a payload of satellites, making South Korea the eleventh nation to launch from its soil and the seventh to launch commercial satellites.

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Stunning Photos from Air, Space and Ground of the Atlas V GOES-T Launch

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying NOAA's GOES-T satellite, launching for NASA's Launch Services Program, lifts off from from Space Launch Complex-41 at 4:38 p.m. EST on March 1, 2022. Photo Credit: United Launch Alliance

NASA and NOAA now have a sophisticated new weather satellite in space. The GOES-T satellite launched on the powerful United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on March 1, and it will provide forecasters with high resolution weather imagery. It will also provide real-time monitoring of events on the ground like wildfires, floods and landslides, while monitoring atmospheric and climate dynamics over the Western US and Pacific Ocean.

The liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station of GOES-T (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T) provided stunning views, and incredibly, other satellites looked down and captured the launch of the new satellite from space, such as this shot from its older sibling, GOES-16:

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JWST Is On Its Way!

Screenshot from NASA TV showing the Webb telescope after release from the rocket stage. Credit: NASA.

It’s really happening. After all the years of delays, reschedulings, budget shortfalls, and even more delays, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on December 25 and is now successfully on its way to is destination at the second LaGrange point (L2), about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from Earth.

If you celebrate Christmas and are astronomically inclined, the launch feels like a true Christmas miracle.

The footage of JWST’s separation from the Ariane 5 rocket, as seen from a camera on the rocket’s second stage is just absolutely stunning.

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Webb Telescope Officially Cleared for Launch on December 25

Illustration of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Credits: NASA
Illustration of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Credits: NASA

UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this article, Arianespace announced the launch for JWST has been delayed until December 25:

“Due to adverse weather conditions at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the flight #VA256 to launch the James Webb Space Telescope –initially scheduled for December 24– is being postponed,” Arianespace said via Twitter. “Tomorrow evening, local time, another weather forecast will be issued in order to confirm the date of December 25. The #Ariane5 launch vehicle and Webb are in stable and safe conditions in the Final Assembly Building.”

Earlier today, NASA and ESA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope has cleared one of the final hurdles before launch. The telescope passed the final launch readiness review, meaning that all the hardware and software for the spacecraft and the Ariane 5 rocket are ready for flight. This officially greenlights the liftoff.

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NASA Launches DART, to Learn how to Defend the Earth From a Future Asteroid Impact

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

In the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, Nov. 24th, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launched from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base (SFB) in California. This spacecraft is the world’s first full-scale mission to demonstrate technologies that could someday be used to defend our planet from Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) that could potentially collide with Earth.

Put simply, the DART mission is a kinetic impactor that will evaluate a proposed method for deflecting asteroids. Over the next ten months, the DART mission will autonomously navigate towards the target asteroid – the binary NEA (65803) Didymos – and intentionally collide with it. If everything goes according to plan, this will alter the asteroid’s motion so that ground-based telescopes can accurately measure any changes.

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SpinLaunch Hurls a Test Vehicle Kilometers Into the air. Eventually, it’ll Throw Them Almost all the way to Orbit

For today’s commercial space companies providing launch services to orbit, the name of the game is simple: “do it cheaper.” To reduce the costs of launching payloads to space and encourage the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), entrepreneurs have turned to everything from reusable rockets and 3-D printing to air-launch vehicles and high-altitude balloons. And yet, there is one concept that truly seems like something out of this world!

This concept is known as a mass accelerator, a kinetic energy space launch system that is an alternative to chemical rockets. In recent news, the commercial space company SpinLaunch conducted the first launch test of its Suborbital Accelerator for the first time. The success of this vertical test is a crucial stepping stone towards the creation of the company’s proposed Orbital Launch System (OLS), which will conduct regular payload launches soon.

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NASA’s Mission to Visit 8 Asteroids, Lucy, Launches on October 16th

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen at Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

An early morning launch is planned for the Lucy spacecraft, the first space mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. Tomorrow, October 16 at 5:34 a.m. EDT is the first day and time in Lucy’s 21-day launch window, and current weather conditions show a 90% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch window remains open for 75 minutes.

Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission to explore the “fossils of planet formation,” Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms. This mission provides the first opportunity to observe these intriguing objects close-up.

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Landsat 9 Joins a Fleet of Earth Observation Satellites

Landsat 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on September 27, 2021 on an an Atlas V 401 rocket. Credit: NASA

Earth has a new eye in orbit to monitor our changing planet.  

Landsat 9 launched on September 27, 2021 continuing the Landsat family of satellite’s nearly 50-year tradition of making critical observations to help with energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture.

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Pencil December 18th (tentatively) into your calendar. That’s when James Webb probably launches

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in Dec. 2021, will be capable of measuring the spectrum of the atmospheres of Earthlike exoplanets orbiting small stars. Credit: NASA, Northrop Grumman

You may have heard this one before, but encouraging news comes from NASA, ESA, and Arianespace today:  they are now targeting December 18, 2021 as the new launch date for the oft-delayed James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

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