Rocket Lab’s Electron booster launched six small satellites and a drag sail demonstrator to orbit Sunday from New Zealand, a success on the company’s first commercial mission that officials said should pave the way for a launch carrying NASA CubeSats next month and up to 16 flights of the light-class rocket next year.
NASA and Northrop Grumman officials have not set a new target date for the launch of the ICON ionospheric research satellite aboard an air-launched Pegasus XL rocket following a mission abort Wednesday, and it could be weeks before the the long-delayed science probe has another chance to head into orbit off Florida’s east coast.
NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer satellite was scheduled to launch Wednesday aboard an air-dropped Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket over the Atlantic Ocean, but managers aborted the mission after encountering a technical concern with the rocket following departure from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launcher’s L-1011 carrier jet returned to Florida.
Europe’s MetOp-C weather satellite launched aboard a Russian-built Soyuz rocket toward polar orbit Tuesday night from French Guiana, joining an international fleet of meteorological observatories critical for global weather forecasting. Liftoff occurred at 7:47 p.m. EST Tuesday (0047 GMT Wednesday).