A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad Sunday night with the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter mission, a project developed in partnership with NASA. Launch occurred right on time at the opening of a two-hour window at 11:03 p.m. EST Sunday (0403 GMT Monday).
Two software errors detected after launch of a Boeing Starliner crew ship during an unpiloted test flight last December, one of which prevented a planned docking with the International Space Station, could have led to catastrophic failures had they not been caught and corrected in time, NASA said Friday.
The European-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft was installed on top of its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 launcher Friday at Cape Canaveral, ready for final charging and checkouts before liftoff Feb. 9 to finally begin a more than $1.5 billion science mission first approved by the European Space Agency nearly 20 years ago.
United Launch Alliance teams loaded super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into an Atlas 5 rocket Friday at Cape Canaveral during a countdown dress rehearsal for a planned launch next month with the Solar Orbiter mission, a robotic spacecraft to study the origins of the solar wind and image the sun’s poles for the first time.
United Launch Alliance moved its next Atlas 5 rocket off its Florida launch pad Wednesday for inspections after a cooling duct unexpectedly disconnected before a planned countdown rehearsal to prepare for liftoff next month with the joint U.S.-European Solar Orbiter mission. The roll back to the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad could delay Solar Orbiter’s liftoff, which was scheduled for Feb. 5
The sixth and final satellite in the U.S. military’s network of ultra-secure, nuclear-hardened AEHF communications relay stations has arrived in Florida for final preparations for liftoff in March on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, the first of nearly 20 U.S. Space Force missions planned for launch in the first year of operations for the new military service.