A fresh GPS navigation beacon destined to replace a nearly 17-year-old satellite rode into orbit from Cape Canaveral on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Thursday, marking the first time risk-averse U.S. military space officials have agreed to launch a national security mission on a reused commercial booster.
Three Chinese astronauts launched at 9:22 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0122 GMT Thursday) aboard the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft. A Long March 2F rocket blasted off from northwest China and successfully carried the astronauts into orbit, setting the stage for their docking at the Tiangong space station about six hours later.
Following years of planning, a GPS navigation satellite built by Lockheed Martin will be the first operational U.S. military payload to ride a reused SpaceX booster on a launch from Florida Thursday, laying the groundwork for future national security missions to save money by incorporating recycled rocket parts.
Two astronauts floated outside the International Space Station Wednesday and attached a rolled-up solar array, the first of six intended to boost the lab’s power back to factory fresh levels. But a spacesuit glitch and then an interference issue with the array mechanism prevented them from extending the new panel as planned.