The Launch Is Approaching for NASA’s Next Mars Rover, Perseverance

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Red Planet’s surface has been visited by eight NASA spacecraft. The ninth will be the first that includes gathering Mars samples for future return to Earth. 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is just over a month from its July 20 targeted launch date. The rover’s astrobiology mission will seek signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the geology of the Jezero Crater landing site, and demonstrate key technologies to help prepare for future robotic and human exploration. And the rover will do all that while collecting the first samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for return to Earth by a set of future missions.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink Launch Rescheduled for Tuesday Morning

Sixty Starlink satellites separate from a Falcon 9 second stage on April 22, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX website)

UPDATE: The launch has been postponed until after the Crew Dragon Demo-2 launch scheduled for May 27.

SpaceX’s launch of a Falcon 9 booster with 60 satellites aboard that was originally scheduled for today (Sunday) has been postponed until Tuesday, May 19 at 3:10 a.m. EDT if the weather permits it.

United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch of the U.S. Space Force’s X-37B vehicle was scrubbed on Saturday due to inclement weather. The booster successfully launched the space plane on Sunday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX had rescheduled the launch for Monday. However, the flight slipped a day due to a tropic depression developing off the southeast coast, the company said.

“SpaceX teams will continue monitoring launch and landing weather conditions,” the company tweeted.

Starlink is a constellation designed to provide high-speed broadband services around the world.

Atlas V Launches X-37B Space Plane

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 501 rocket carrying the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force lifted off on May 17, 9:14 a.m. EDT, from Space Launch Complex-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., May 17, 2020 ULA PR)  A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 501 rocket carrying the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force lifted off on May 17, 9:14 a.m. EDT, from Space Launch Complex-41. This marks the 84th successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 139th launch for ULA, the second launch for the U.S. Space Force and the sixth flight of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6).

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ULA Atlas V Launch Rescheduled for Sunday Morning

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., May 16, 2020 (ULA PR) — The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force is delayed due to inclement weather. Launch of the USSF-7 mission is now scheduled for May 17, 2020, at 9:14 a.m. EDT.

USSF and ULA to Honor COVID-19 Responders with ‘America Strong’ Launch Dedication

Encapsulated X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for United States Space Force-7 mission. (Credit: Boeing)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The U.S. Space Force and United Launch Alliance will honor all front-line workers and COVID-19 first responders while paying tribute to those affected by the pandemic during a launch mission scheduled for May 16 at 8:24 a.m. EST. United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket carrying the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle serves as a collaborative “America Strong” salute from the USSF and ULA.

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Atlas V Launch of X-37B Set for Saturday

X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch carrying the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force.

The mission is set to lift off on Saturday, May 16 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s forecast shows an 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

Live broadcast coverage of launch will be available. Broadcast details will be provided prior to launch.

Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com

Editor’s Note: They are not giving out a launch time for this military launch.

Launch Forecast Summary

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 40%
Primary concerns: Ground Winds, Cumulus Cloud Rule
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 20%
Primary concern: Ground Winds, Cumulus Cloud Rule

Hashtags

The hashtags for this launch are: #AtlasV #USSF7 #SpaceForce #AirForce #X37B

AEHF-6 satellite Completes Protected Satellite Constellation

An Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-6 mission for the U.S Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 4:18 p.m. EDT on March 26, 2020. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (US Space Force PR) —The Advanced Extremely High Frequency vehicle number six launched March 26, completing the planned protected satellite program.

The 4th Space Operations Squadron maintains and commands the protected satellite constellation and will fully integrate AEHF-6 into their family.

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ULA’s Atlas V Completes First National Security Space Launch for U.S. Space Force

An Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-6 mission for the U.S Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 4:18 p.m. EDT on March 26, 2020. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., March 26, 2020 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on March 26 at 4:18 p.m. EDT. This marks the 83rd successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 138th launch for ULA and first mission for the U.S. Space Force.

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NASA Shows Perseverance with Mars 2020 Helicopter, Cruise Stage Testing

NASA’s Mars Helicopter and its cruise stage undergo functional testing in the airlock inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on March 10, 2020. (Credit: NASA/Cory Huston)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Mars 2020 mission involving NASA’s newly named rover — Perseverance — received a significant boost following the completion of important testing at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Upcoming Launches to Close Out March

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

Here’s quick look at the launches scheduled for the rest of March. Information from Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for March 30 is listed. However, unofficial reports say it has been delayed indefinitely due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The booster will launch the SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite for Argentine.

What the months ahead hold in terms of launch is uncertain. Europe has suspended flights out of its launch base in French Guiana. Whether other spaceports are closed remains to be seen. China appears to have weathered the worst of the virus.

I would expect crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to continue. The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to ISS is scheduled for mid- to late May. It’s difficult to say whether that schedule will hold.

March 23/24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payloads: 3 Yaogan 30-06 military surveillance satellites
Launch Time: Approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT on 23rd (0340 GMT on 24th)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

UPDATE: Launch successful.

March 24

Launch Vehicle: Astra Rocket 3.0 “1 of 3”
Payloads: TBA
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska

UPDATE: Media report of an “anomaly” during a dress rehearsal on Monday.. Extend of anomaly and new schedule uncertain. Doesn’t sound like they’re launching on Tuesday. More details here: https://kmxt.org/2020/03/anomaly-at-pacific-spaceport-complex-launch-rehearsal-no-injuries-as-a-result/

March 26

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: AEHF 6 military communications satellite
Launch Window: 2:57-4:57 p.m. EDT (1857-2057 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Electron “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Payloads: Multiple CubeSats
Launch Window: 12:43-2:33 a.m. EDT (0443-0633 GMT)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has suspended preparations on this launch due to the coronavirus.

March 30
(Possibly Postponed)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Solar Orbiter Launch Takes Solar Science to New Heights

Launch of the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter mission to study the Sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Feb. 9, 2020. (Credits: Jared Frankle, NASA Solar Orbiter Social Participant)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Solar Orbiter, a new collaborative mission between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA to study the Sun, launched at 11:03 p.m. EST Sunday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

At 12:24 a.m. Monday, mission controllers at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, received a signal from the spacecraft indicating that its solar panels had successfully deployed.

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Atlas V Launches Solar Orbiter

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft is prepared for encapsulation in the Atlas V payload fairing. In this image, the front layer of thin titanium foil and star-shaped brackets are visible. The front layer reflects heat, while the brackets provide support. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster successfully launched the joint ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter on a mission to study the Sun from Cape Canaveral on Sunday night.

Ground controllers confirmed the receipt of a signal from the spacecraft after it separated from the Centaur second stage of the launch vehicle.

Solar Orbiter is an international collaborative mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. The spacecraft will observe the Sun with high spatial resolution telescopes and capture observations in the environment directly surrounding the spacecraft to create a one-of-a-kind picture of how the Sun can affect the space environment throughout the solar system.

The spacecraft also will provide the first-ever images of the Sun’s poles and the never-before-observed magnetic environment there, which helps drive the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle and its periodic outpouring of solar storms.

United Launch Alliance Set to Launch Solar Orbiter for NASA and ESA

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Feb. 7, 2020 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the Solar Orbiter mission, an international cooperative mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. The launch is on track for Feb. 9 at Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Launch is planned for 11:03 p.m. EST at the opening of a two-hour launch window. The live launch broadcast begins at 10:30 p.m. EST on NASA TV at and www.ulalaunch.com.

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NASA to Broadcast Solar Orbiter Launch, Prelaunch Activities

In this image, taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Feb. 27, 2000, a coronal mass ejection is seen erupting from the Sun, which is hidden by the disk in the middle, so the fainter material around it can be seen. (Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting 11:03 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 9, for the launch of Solar Orbiter, an international collaborative mission between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA. The spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website  Friday, Feb. 7, with prelaunch events.

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Boeing Update on Starliner Flight Anomaly

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

Boeing Mission Update

The CST-100 Starliner is in a safe, stable orbit after an anomaly this morning following launch and spacecraft separation from the Atlas V.

The anomaly appears to have been the result of a mission elapsed timer (MET) using an unexpected timeline, which delayed orbital insertion thruster firings, putting Starliner in an unplanned orbit. Further root cause analysis is needed.

The Boeing flight control team quickly took action to place Starliner into an orbit that supports a safe landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The combined Boeing and NASA team now plan to work together to define test flight objectives for the remainder of the mission, while preparing for the Starliner landing.

At this time, we do not expect the Starliner to dock at the International Space Station on this flight.

We are proud of the team for their professionalism and quick action to protect the vehicle and enable a safe return. We look forward to reviewing and learning from the data that has been generated from this mission so far.