Russian launch crews stood up a Soyuz rocket Sunday on its launch mount in Kazakhstan for a scheduled liftoff Wednesday with approximately 5,500 pounds of supplies, experiments, fuel and several small satellites to be released by spacewalking cosmonauts at the International Space Station later this year.
Construction crews at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad are busily repairing and upgrading the facility after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded there last year, with the pad’s return to service scheduled before the end of the summer, clearing the way for final preparations for the triple-core Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight late this year.
NASA has picked 12 engineers, scientists and pilots to begin basic training for future spaceflight assignments from more than 18,300 applicants, adding U.S. military combat veterans, two medical doctors, an MIT professor, an expert on submersibles, a SpaceX launch engineer, a field biologist and a planetary geologist to the agency’s astronaut ranks.
A Russian Proton rocket launched at 0345 GMT Thursday (11:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the EchoStar 21 communications satellite, a hefty 7.6-ton telecommunications station designed to support a mobile network in Europe. Managed by U.S.-based International Launch Services, the mission will take more than nine hours to deliver EchoStar 21 into a geostationary transfer orbit using five burns of the Breeze M upper stage engine.