Spacewatch: SpaceX reuses rocket to launch north American satellite

The SpaceX Falcon 9 lifting off in Florida on 11 October this year. Photograph: SpaceX/flickr

SpaceX set a brisk pace this week, with two successful launches of the Falcon 9 rocket. The second launch by the company – whose chief executive is its billionaire founder, Elon Musk – re-used a previously flown first stage booster, increasing confidence that SpaceX could deliver re-useable rockets and so drive down launch costs.

The first launch took place on 9 October. The rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg airforce base in California at 05:37 PDT (12:37 GMT). It placed 10 communications satellites in a 400-mile-high orbit for Iridium, the telecommunications company.

Iridium runs a constellation of telecommunications satellites. This launch is the first of eight launches scheduled that will place 75 satellites in orbit for the company.

On 11 October a second Falcon 9 rocket lifted off, this time from Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida. The launch took place at 18:53 EDT (22:53 GMT), and carried a larger communications satellite into orbit for SES and EchoStar.

This second launch was notable because it re-used a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage. This part of the rocket first launched last February when it boosted a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station; it then flew back and soft landed in Florida for re-use. This booster has now landed back on Earth again, several hundred miles from Cape Canaveral on a drone ship.

Reusing significant spacecraft components is the key to SpaceX’s business model of reducing launch costs. After each flight this week all the first stages returned safely to Earth.

These launches bring the total of SpaceX launches this year to 15, establishing the company as a leading player in the satellite launch market. In September, Musk declared his intention to use his rockets to colonise Mars.

[“Source-theguardian”]

China’s New Heavy-Lift Rocket Launch Fails

The Long March-5 Y2 rocket takes off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan Province, China July 2, 2017. Credit: Reuters

China’s launch of a new heavy-lift rocket, the Long March-5 Y2, carrying what the government said was its heaviest ever satellite, failed on Sunday, official news agency Xinhua said.

The same rocket type had been expected to take China’s latest lunar probe to the Moon this year and to return with samples. It is not clear how the timetable for that mission could be affected by the failed launch.

President Xi Jinping has prioritised advancing China’s space program to strengthen national security and defense, and the government has stressed it is a purely peaceful initiative.

“An anomaly occurred during the flight of the rocket,” Xinhua said after the rocket blasted off early evening from the southern island province of Hainan.

“Further investigation will be carried out,” it said, without elaborating.

China’s space program has largely operated without many major hitches, though it still has a way to go to catch up with the United States and Russia.

In late 2013, China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover landed on the Moon to great national fanfare, but ran into severe technical difficulties.

The US Defense Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets in a crisis.

China is preparing to send a man to the Moon, state media cited a senior space official as saying last month.

In 2003, it became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

[“Source-thewire”]

NASA to launch sounding rocket which releases artificial clouds on June 4

NASA, sounding rocket, artificial clouds, space studies, visually track particle motion, vapour tracers

These clouds or vapour tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. (Image for representation, Source : NASA)

NASA on Saturday scrubbed the launch of a sounding rocket which will release blue-green and red artificial clouds. “Launch scrubbed because of boats in the impact area for the second stage motor. We will try again Sunday, June 4,” NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility announced on its Facebook page. The launch window is 4:26 to 4:41 a.m.EDT (1:56-2.11 p.m India time).

The launch of the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket testing a new deployment system to support space studies was originally scheduled for May 31, but it was subsequently delayed. “Clear skies are required at one of the ground stations to view blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part of the test. These artificial clouds may be seen from New York to North Carolina,” NASA earlier said.

The rocket will eject 10 canisters about the size of a soft drink can between 10 to 20 kms from the rocket’s main payload, and these containers will release the vapour between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch.These clouds or vapour tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.

Also Read: Mongolia to send its first satellite to space on June 4

The development of the multi-canister or ampule ejection system will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously allowed when deploying the vapour just from the main payload.Ground cameras will be stationed at Wallops and in Duck, North Carolina, to view the vapour tracers. “The vapour tracers are formed through the interaction of barium, strontium and cupric-oxide. The tracers will be released at altitudes 96 to 124 miles high and pose absolutely no hazard to residents along the mid-Atlantic coast,” NASA said

Sounding rockets take their name from the nautical term “to sound,” which means to take measurements. The flight of a sounding rocket is short-lived, and has a parabolic trajectory — the shape of a frown. The total flight time for the current mission is expected to be about eight minutes. The payload will land in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles from Wallops Island and will not be recovered.

[“Source-ndtv”]

Orbital ATK Launches Cargo Into Space Aboard Antares Rocket

Orbital ATK Launches Cargo Into Space Aboard Antares Rocket

Orbital ATK on Monday blasted off its revamped Antares rocket carrying supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station two years after a major rocket explosion.

The unmanned Cygnus cargo ship launched from Wallops Island, Virginia at 7:45pm (5:15am IST), packed with some 5,100 pounds (2,300 kilograms) of gear bound for the station’s astronauts living in orbit.

The rocket’s first and second stage portions separated about five minutes after the launch as planned, and the Cygnus cargo ship reached orbit shortly after, according to a live broadcast of the launch onNasa television.

“We have Cygnus spacecraft separation,” an Orbital ATK commentator said amid the sound of applause in mission control.

An Antares rocket exploded in October 2014 just seconds after liftoff, causing some $200 million in damage and lost equipment.

(Also see: Nasa Selects Six Firms to Develop Habitats for Mars Mission)

The company blamed the accident on a flaw in the rocket’s engines, designed four decades ago in the Soviet Union.

The new Antares 230 uses a different engine that is more powerful than the prior version.

Orbital ATK resumed cargo missions to the International Space Station in December 2014 using a different rocket, the Atlas V made by United Launch Alliance.

Tags: Nasa, Orbital ATK, Antares Rocket, Science

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]