Singed and blackened from three fiery trips to the edge of space and back, a Falcon 9 rocket returned to Cape Canaveral on Sunday after a mission last that week carried the Israeli Beresheet moon lander into orbit, ready for inspections before attempting a fourth — and likely final — launch this spring.
Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft briefly landed on an asteroid Thursday more than 200 million miles from Earth and fired a bullet to scoop up a rocky sample, successfully accomplishing one of the mission’s most challenging maneuvers before returning the asteroid specimen to scientists on the ground in December 2020.
Two test pilots and their instructor flew Virgin Galactic’s winged spaceplane out of the discernible atmosphere Friday for the second time in nine weeks, a successful sub-orbital flight that moves Richard Branson’s company one step closer to its goal of launching paying passengers and payloads on brief forays into the weightlessness of space.
An Israeli-built moon lander aiming to become the first privately-funded mission reach another planetary body rocketed away from Cape Canaveral on Thursday night aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, riding piggyback with an Indonesian communications spacecraft and an experimental U.S. Air Force space surveillance microsatellite.
A Soyuz rocket, with the help of a Fregat upper stage, delivered an Egyptian Earth observation satellite into a polar orbit at an altitude of more than 400 miles Thursday, overcoming an apparent technical problem after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to Russian news reports.