Monday night’s blastoff of a Vega rocket from the northern shore of South America dispatched a 2,500-pound Earth imaging satellite for Europe and put on a light show across the tropical spaceport at the edge of the Amazon.
The 98-foot-tall rocket launched at 10:51:58 p.m. local time Monday (0151:58 GMT Tuesday; 9:51:58 p.m. EDT Monday) from the Guiana Space Center. It released the camera-carrying Sentinel 2A environmental satellite into orbit nearly 500 miles above Earth about 55 minutes later.
Back on Earth after a whirlwind journey 20,000 miles around the world, an experimental re-entry demonstrator is on the way to Europe for post-flight inspections aimed at gathering design inputs for future reusable space vehicles.
Nearly a year-and-a-half after arriving at the red planet, Europe’s ExoMars orbiter is finally approaching a planned perch around 250 miles over the rust-colored world after repeatedly dipping into the Martian atmosphere to lower its orbit.
A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off Friday from French Guiana with four broadband satellites for the O3b network, which provides high-speed connectivity to developing countries, ships and other customers who lack a reliable Internet link.