After additional analysis of the Vega fourth stage, ESA and Arianespace engineers have decided to press ahead with the launch attempt! LISA Pathfinder’s Vega rocket is sitting on the pad at Kourou, and if all continues to go well, will blast off in about two and a half hours. You can watch it live on Spaceflight Now’s livestream feed. Click here for their mission status page, which includes both the embedded livestream and live text updates, useful for slower connections).
Tag Archives: rocket launch
If all goes well, there will be two rocket launches tomorrow. One will be from Kourou in French Guiana, a Soyuz launching over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver Sentinel 1A, the first element in a European environmental monitoring satellite constellation, into a polar orbit suitable for global mapping. The other launch will be an Atlas V from Vandenburg AFB in California, placing the latest Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite into orbit.
From SpaceflightNow: DMSP F19 launch information, and photos of the encapsulated spacecraft heading to the launchpad.
And for Sentinel 1A, spacecraft integration with the Fregat booster that sits atop the Soyuz rocket, and rollout to the pad. Looks just like a rollout at Baikonur, except for all the dense tropical vegetation around. 😉 There is one other distinction; at Baikonur, payloads are generally integrated with Soyuz in the rocket assembly hall, but at Kourou the Fregat and spacecraft are integrated in the assembly hall and then mated to the rocket only after it has been erected on the pad.
The first launch of February has been a complete success. Progress M-22M lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome and flew a six hour rapid ascent to the ISS. It delivered 2,540 kg of supplies and consumables to the station.
Docking with the ISS:
And the first US launch of 2014 is complete; SpaceX completed their second Falcon 9.1.1 launch from Cape Canaveral with a commercial payload, the Thaicom-6 commsat. Everything went perfectly, and you can watch it here:
The Indian Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket has had a troubled history as India works to grow its own domestic cryogenic rocket expertise — by no means a simple feat. But today it flew straight and true to place its commsat payload into the desired geosynchronous transfer orbit. The GSLV project directory, K. Sivan, said “Some used to call the GSLV the naughty boy of ISRO. The naughty boy has become obedient.”
In many ways, this launch is as important as Manglayaan was for India’s credibility as a commercial launch provider. PSLV has been a solid workhorse, but relatively underpowered; GSLV provides India’s gateway into the geosynchronous market, and this flight is an important step forward.
Congratulations to ISRO and the Indian nation!
First on deck: China is preparing to launch its first robotic lander, Chang’e 3. Chang’e 3 is set to launch on Sunday aboard a Chang-Zheng (Long March) 3B rocket. The probe is intended to land in Sinus Iridium (“the Bay of Rainbows”), a previously unexplored part of the lunar nearside on December 14, following a direct-ascent approach to the Moon. After landing, it will deploy a tiny rover named Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit”, after the moon goddess Chang’e’s magical companion.
Next on deck: SpaceX has been working to get the first purely commercial flight to geosynchronous orbit off the ground for about a week now, but a series of complications (various technical issues and the FAA asking them not to fly on the day before Thanksgiving, the biggest air travel day of the year in the US) have slid that out to next Monday, Dec 2. The second flight of the upgraded Falcon 9.1.1 rocket is expected to achieve the highest apogee of any purely commercial vehicle: 50,000 miles, sufficient to place the SES 8 commsat into geosynchronous orbit. (SES 8 will use its own engines to circularize its orbit at 22,500 miles.)
MAVEN is launching today! Well, weather permitting — it’s launching from Florida, which is sort of famous for screwing up launches with its erratic weather. If everything goes correctly, MAVEN will launch aboard its Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station at 1:28PM EST (12:28PM Central, or 1828 GMT). The launch window is much broader than for an ISS mission, mostly because the target is so far away — they can launch as late as 3:28 PM EST (12:28 CST, 2028 GMT) and still make it to Mars. If they miss that, they have to scrub until tomorrow.
You can watch the launch live at the following links: