The Italian PRISMA Earth observation satellite is set to ride a Vega launcher into a 382-mile-high (615-kilometer) orbit Thursday night from French Guiana on a mission that will take less than one hour from liftoff until spacecraft separation.
Liftoff is scheduled for March 21 at 9:50:35 p.m. EDT (0150:35 GMT on March 22) from the Vega launch pad at the Guiana Space Center, located on the northeastern coast of South America. The Vega launcher, primarily developed and built in Italy, will head north over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the PRISMA imaging satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit flying from pole-to-pole.
It will be the 14th flight of a Vega rocket, and the first Vega mission of 2019.
United Launch Alliance teams at Cape Canaveral launched an Atlas 5 rocket at 6:13 a.m. EDT (1013 GMT) Thursday with the U.S. Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite. The AEHF 5 satellite will join a network of geostationary relay stations providing secure, jam-resistant video, voice and data links for the U.S. military.
SpaceX launched its 12th Falcon 9 rocket of the year Thursday from California with Taiwan’s Formosat 5 Earth observation satellite. The two-stage rocket lifted off at 11:51 a.m. PDT (2:51 p.m. EDT; 1851 GMT) and deployed the Taiwanese-built spacecraft into polar orbit. The Falcon 9’s first stage booster successfully landed on a drone ship downrange in the Pacific Ocean.
The first of up to 22 launches on Arianespace’s schedule in 2020 successfully delivered a commercial European broadband satellite and an Indian communications payload to orbit Thursday using a heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket.