A new group of civilian astronauts, including at least one YouTuber, as well as two military spacecraft and the country’s first mission to the moon, leave the planet in less than 24 hours this Thursday, here’s a roundup of space news especially busy today.
The day began with the launch (with a small payload) of the Rocket Lab Electron mission, which sent a spy satellite into orbit from New Zealand on behalf of the US National Reconnaissance Agency. This was the second consecutive NRO assignment for Americanokiwi.
The United Launch Alliance mission then launched an Atlas V rocket to send a Space Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite into geosynchronous Earth orbit to provide missile detection and early warning to the US Space Force from the space station at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
SpaceX: first mission for South Korea
Florida’s space coast will be the scene of a double blast on Thursday when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Korea Pathfinder lunar orbiter follows the ULA launch. This spacecraft is South Korea’s first space mission. It should go to low lunar orbit, where it will take pictures of the surface and map potential landing sites. Korean media also reported that he plans to test the radio communication between the Moon and Earth by broadcasting BTS’s song Dynamite to our planet.
The SpaceX launch is scheduled for 7:08 pm EDT, or 1:08 am Paris time, about twelve and a half hours after the previous orbital launch from Cape Canaveral. This is the shortest interval between two such launches from the spaceport since 1967, at the height of the Apollo program.
Blue Origin: Tourist Mission
Meanwhile, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lifted off from the company’s spaceport in West Texas. The Jeff Bezos Space Company’s sixth manned mission will feature the first-ever Egyptian and Portuguese astronauts and, to our knowledge, the first Guinness World Record holder to visit space.
Coby Cotton, co-founder of the popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect, is headlining the Blue Origin team, along with Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira, US-British climber Vanessa O’Brien, CTO Clint Kelly III, Egyptian engineer Sarah Sabry and telecommunications. CEO Steve Young.
The group will take the now familiar route from the Texas desert to the edge of space to experience weightlessness and stunning views for a few minutes before descending back to the surface.
Unexpected launch from China?
In addition to all of these activities, it looks like China may be conducting an experimental unannounced spacecraft test flight today.
All of this makes today one of the busiest days we’ve seen in spaceflight, but this may just be the beginning as SpaceX and NASA ramp up plans to send more astronauts into orbit, to the moon, and beyond in the coming years.
CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance