SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Blue Origin’s Electron Spacecraft launched Today

spacecraft launch today

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft was successfully placed into interplanetary transfer orbit using SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This marks humanity’s inaugural test of planetary defense to see whether intentionally colliding into an asteroid can alter its path.

Falcon 9 successfully launched Badr 8, an Arabsat communications satellite based in Saudi Arabia from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. It landed successfully on an unmanned drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean after its initial stage booster stage had returned back for landing.

1. SpaceX Falcon 9

NASA will use SpaceX’s reusable Falcon rocket to send their Dragon spacecraft on an eighteenth launch to the International Space Station under their Commercial Crew Program, carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard for this flight.

The rocket’s first stage will attempt to land vertically on a drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You.” It marks this booster’s 14th flight; already this booster has launched 31 satellites into GTO including four major Earth observation missions and 75 Iridium NEXT birds plus hundreds more from OneWeb’s broadband network.

SpaceX will launch 23 satellites for their Starlink mega-constellation into space aboard their 18th Falcon 9 launch, with side boosters returning to Cape Canaveral and core potentially making a return flight towards a barge at sea. Elon Musk intends on retiring this rocket family in favor of their fully reusable Starship and Super Heavy launches.

2. Northrop Grumman Cygnus

Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, carrying supplies and an assortment of NASA experiments bound for the International Space Station, launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 12:07 p.m. ET aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 12:07 pm EST today on its 20th operational mission atop this particular launcher instead of its regular Antares rocket launch vehicle.

The mission, known as NG-20, will transport more than 8,200 pounds of essential cargo and hardware for NASA experiments – such as the first surgical robot ever sent into space, an orbit reentry platform to collect thermal protection system data, 3D cartilage cell cultures that may lead to new medical treatments, as well as testing small-scale manufacturing techniques in microgravity.

The company holds contracts to supply cargo for three more years on board the International Space Station and is in discussions to offer similar services for commercial space stations located on low Earth orbit, according to Ghosn.

3. Rocket Lab Electron

Rocket Lab’s Electron launcher is a lightweight platform tailored for small satellites. Capable of placing 150 kilograms into sun-synchronous orbit, its launch can ensure daily encounters between its satellite and Earth at precisely the same moment; compare that to an Earth observation satellite like NASA’s Suomi NPP which weighs over two tons!

Rocket Lab launched its 42nd mission with the Electron rocket from their New Zealand spaceport on Wednesday, called “Four of a Kind”. This “four of a Kind” flight successfully deployed four satellites for San Francisco-based Earth imaging firm Spire Global into sun-synchronous orbit, before parachute deployment for a soft Pacific Ocean splashdown of its first stage rocket.

Rocket Lab recently celebrated a significant achievement during Wednesday’s mission: their first stage booster returned safely back to Earth after use in midair by using a helicopter for tracking and observation, fulfilling their plan to intercept and collect launch vehicle boosters midair for reuse. This event represented another important step forward as they continue their recovery after suffering a second stage engine failure on Sept 19 that shut down immediately upon ignition. Using its plan for intercepting boosters midair for reuse purposes.

4. Blue Origin New Glenn

Blue Origin’s inaugural orbital rocket will bear John Glenn’s name and be capable of lifting 50 tons (45 metric tons) into low Earth orbit. At twice the height of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, this one uses BE-4 engines as well.

Blue Origin began developing its BE-4 engine in 2012 and announced their plans to create an orbital launch vehicle in 2015. By 2016, they had chosen a high-level design for their rocket’s first stage and begun development work on it.

New Glenn will make its maiden flight on August 20,2024 according to tweet from its manufacturer, carrying NASA’s twin ESCAPADE probes onto Mars on a Hohmann transfer trajectory.

Blue Origin has already secured several New Glenn launches for OneWeb, Telesat and mu Space Corp/SKY Perfect JSAT as part of their New Glenn launch contracts; as well as winning an integration studies contract from the Air Force under their National Security Space Launch Phase 2 procurement.

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