United Launch Alliance teams at Cape Canaveral hoisted a Centaur upper stage on top of an Atlas 5 rocket Friday at launch pad 41, completing the initial build-up of the launch vehicle slated to carry Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule into space in December on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s first launch since August took off from Cape Canaveral at 9:56 a.m. EST (1456 GMT) to carry 60 broadband satellites into orbit for the company’s Starlink network. The Starlink satellites rode together on top of a Falcon 9 rocket with a previously-flown first stage and a reused payload fairing.
New satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network set for launch Monday from Cape Canaveral will debut several performance and safety upgrades, but they do not include changes to reduce the brightness of the satellites, a modification SpaceX says it will introduce on future Starlink craft to mitigate their impacts on ground-based astronomy.
Boeing is touting a lunar lander concept that the company claims could launch in one piece on an upgraded version of NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket — which Boeing largely builds — and deliver astronauts to the moon’s surface in 2024 without going through NASA’s planned Gateway mini-space station.
The next three-man crew to launch on a Soyuz rocket — comprising two Russian cosmonauts and a veteran NASA astronaut — is training to have the International Space Station to themselves after their arrival at the orbiting research outpost in April, at least until new U.S. commercial crew ships enter service.
Boeing specialists working inside a former space shuttle hangar in Florida started fueling the company’s first spaceflight-ready Starliner capsule this week ahead of the ship’s rollout to its launch pad later this month. The fueling milestone is a major step in the Starliner launch campaign, and comes after engineers concluded that human error led to a parachute deployment malfunction during a crew capsule abort test Monday.