Virgin Orbit performed its first operational launch Wednesday, when the company’s Boeing 747 carrier aircraft released a liquid-fueled LauncherOne rocket over the Pacific Ocean southwest of Los Angeles to fire into orbit with seven CubeSats for the U.S. military, the Dutch military, and the Polish company SatRevolution. Release of the rocket occurred at approximately 10:47 a.m. EDT (7:47 a.m. PDT; 1447 GMT).
A Cygnus spacecraft owned by Northrop Grumman departed the International Space Station Tuesday, concluding a four-month mission that delivered more than 8,000 pounds of cargo. The automated resupply freighter will deploy five small CubeSats before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up over the Pacific Ocean.
A day after a last-minute scrub caused by an aircraft in restricted airspace, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket at 3:31 p.m. EDT (1931 GMT) Wednesday from Cape Canaveral. The rocket carried 88 small satellites into polar orbit. The vehicle’s first stage successfully returned to Cape Canaveral for landing about eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on a southerly coast-hugging trajectory from Cape Canaveral Tuesday to place 88 small satellites into a polar orbit. The Falcon 9’s first stage booster will return to Florida’s Space Coast for the first onshore rocket landing at Cape Canaveral since December.