Minotaur IV Launches Classified Military Mission

A Northrop Grumman Minotaur IV successfully launched four National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payloads on Wednesday morning.

The four-stage, solid-fuel booster was launched at 9:46 a.m. EDT from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va.

The NROL-129 mission was the NRO’s 54th launch since 1996 and its first launch on a Minotaur IV. A Minotaur rocket last flew from Wallops in 2013.

Minotaur IV’s first three stages use solid rocket motors from decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. The commercial Orion 38 rocket motor is used as the fourth stage.

Minotaur IV is capable of launching payloads up to 1,730 kg (3,814 lb.) to low Earth orbit; The booster made its maiden flight in April 2010.

Minotaur Rocket Launching Wednesday Morning from NASA Wallops

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A Minotaur IV rocket carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is scheduled for launch July 15, 2020, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman, is scheduled for liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0B. The window opens at 9 a.m.

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Next Electron Launch Set for July 3

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 15 June 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) –Satellite manufacturer and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission is scheduled to launch just three weeks after its most recent mission in a demonstration of the company’s rapid launch capability.

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Electron Roll-Out Complete at New Wallops Island Launch Complex

Electron booster on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Scheduled for Q3 2020, the mission will be Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil

LONG BEACH, Calif., April 29, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has rolled an Electron launch vehicle out to the Launch Complex 2 pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops, Virginia for the first time. The milestone is one of the final steps ahead of Rocket Lab’s first launch from Launch Complex 2 – a dedicated mission in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division. 

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UK’s First Industrial Contribution to International Space Station Ready for Launch

COLka undergoing testing in the Hertz test chamber at the European Space Agency in The Netherlands. COLKa’s radio signals are being recorded. The blue spikes isolate the room from electromagnetic interference, recreating the radio frequencies of space. (Credit: ESA–M. Cowan)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (UK Space Agency PR) — UK-built technology that will revolutionise the science astronauts carry out on the International Space Station is due to launch today (15 February).

Called COLKa for ‘Columbus Ka-band Terminal’, the system will allow astronauts and researchers to benefit from a direct link with Europe at home broadband speeds, relaying data from experiments on the ISS back to Earth almost instantaneously.

The fridge-sized device is due to launch aboard a Cygnus supply ship from Wallops Island, Virginia just before 9pm UK time on Friday. Two astronauts will carry out a spacewalk later this year to mount it to the outside of the Columbus module on the ISS.

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Rocket Lab Wins Contract to Send CubeSat to the Moon

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Rocket Lab of Huntington Beach, California, to provide launch services for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat.

Rocket Lab, a commercial launch provider licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, will launch the 55-pound CubeSat aboard an Electron rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After launch, the company’s Photon platform will deliver CAPSTONE to a trans-lunar injection.

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Northrop Grumman Set to Launch Cygnus to ISS for NASA

Antares with Cygnus CRS-13 spacecraft on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS, Va., February 7 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is set to launch the company’s AntaresTM rocket carrying its CygnusTM spacecraft to the International Space Station for NASA. This mission, known as NG-13, marks the company’s 13th cargo mission for NASA and the second mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract.

The launch is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 5:39 p.m. ET from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, with rendezvous and berthing at the station to occur on Feb. 11. The mission will use the Antares 230+ configuration and will conduct a 24-hour late load operation.

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2019: A Busy Year in Suborbital Flight

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a busy one for suborbital flights as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a combined four flights of their crewed suborbital vehicles. Despite hopes to the contrary, neither company flew paying tourists on their spaceships.

There were also 26 sounding rocket launches that carried scientific experiments and technology payloads above the atmosphere. The year saw:

  • Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies conduct a successful launch of its Momo commercial sounding rocket;
  • Texas-based Exos Aerospace continue to struggle with its reusable SARGE booster; and,
  • the first suborbital launch ever achieved by college students.
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Rocket Lab Moves Headquarters to Long Beach

Photon system (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced it will open a new facility which will serve as its Corporate Headquarters, provide incremental production capacity, and bring Mission Control Center capabilities to Long Beach, California.

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Warner, Kaine Applaud $96,000 in Funding to Support Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport

WASHINGTON Mark Warner/Tim Kaine PR) – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $96,425 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Wallops Island. The grant was awarded through the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway grant program.

“We are glad to see these federal dollars go towards helping equip MARS with the resources it needs to continue to carry out important operations and research,” said the Senators. “We have no doubt that with this funding, this facility will continue to help boost our nation’s competitiveness in aeronautics.”

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Rocket Lab, OSIRIS-REx and Starliner Announcements Set for Thursday

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

There are three major events that you can tune in for on Thursday.

Rocket Lab Wallops Launch Complex
11 a.m. EST
www.rocketlabusa.com

CEO Peter Beck will host a webcast from Wallops Island, Va., to open the company’s new launch complex and announce the first flight of the Electron booster from U.S. soil.

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA OSIRIS-REx Sampling Site
1 p.m. EST
http://nasa.gov/live

NASA will announced the site where OSIRIS-REx will collect a soil sample from asteroid Bennu.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: Boeing)

NASA Boeing CST-100 Starliner Mission Preview
2 p.m. EST (approximate)
https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA and Boeing officials will hold a news teleconference for the upcoming CST-100 Starliner orbital test flight to the International Space Station on Dec. 20.

The teleconference will begin no earlier than 2 p.m. EST, or approximately one hour after the flight readiness review ends. The start time will be adjusted as necessary. 

Seven Student-Made CubeSats Launched Aboard Antares on Saturday

Monday, Nov. 42:45 a.m. – Coverage of Cygnus capture with the space station’s robotic arm 6:30 a.m. – Cygnus installation operations coverage

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — On Saturday, seven small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by students from eight universities across the nation were launched on Saturday on a Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops, Virginia.

All seven CubeSats were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and are a part of the 25th Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission. CSLI enables the launch of CubeSat projects designed, built and operated by students, teachers and faculty, as well as NASA Centers and nonprofit organizations.

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Cygnus Resupply Ship Launches to Space Station

Antares launches a Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket blasted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Saturday with a Cygnus spacecraft that will deliver 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Cygnus separated from the second stage as planned after what appeared to be a nominal flight. This is Northrop Grumman’s 12th contracted cargo resupply mission to ISS under NASA contract.

The space agency will provide live coverage on Monday of the resupply ship’s capture and berthing with the station on NASA Television and its  website.

  • 2:45 a.m. – Coverage of Cygnus capture with the space station’s robotic arm
  • 6:30 a.m. – Cygnus installation operations coverage

Expedition 61 NASA astronaut Jessica Meir will grapple the spacecraft using the station’s robotic arm. She will be backed up by NASA astronaut Christina Koch. After Cygnus capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed the SS Alan Bean, is named after the late Apollo and Skylab astronaut who died on May 26, 2018, at the age of 86. This Cygnus will launch 50 years to the month after Bean, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon flew to the Moon on NASA’s Apollo 12 mission, during which Bean became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface. Bean was the lunar module pilot aboard Intrepid with mission commander Conrad when they landed on Moon at the Ocean of Storms on Nov. 19, 1969.

You can more about the research the Cygnus is carrying here.