SpaceX’s second Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off Thursday with the Arabsat 6A communications satellite. The world’s most powerful operational launcher lifted off from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:35 p.m. EDT (2235 GMT), and its three first stage boosters landed less than 10 minutes later — two back at Cape Canaveral and one on a drone ship at sea.
The launch of a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana with four more satellites Thursday to join SES’s O3b broadband network will help satisfy growing bandwidth demands in Latin America, Africa and the Pacific islands until the deployment of a new generation of upgraded spacecraft in 2021, SES officials said.
A Russian Progress resupply and refueling freighter launched Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on top of a Soyuz booster. The cargo craft completed the fastest rendezvous in the history of the International Space Station program with a successful docking less than three-and-a-half hours later.
Ground teams analyzing data from a heat probe that got stuck soon after it started digging into the Martian crust under NASA’s robotic InSight lander still hope they can free the mole from an obstruction that halted its progress more than a month ago, but the mission’s chief scientist says the chances of completing the heat probe experiment — one of InSight’s two main science instruments — may not look promising.
Boeing said Tuesday the first orbital test flight of its commercial crew capsule, named the Starliner, will be delayed until August “in order to avoid unnecessary schedule pressure” and give priority on the Atlas 5 rocket’s manifest to a U.S. Air Force communications satellite. NASA confirmed Wednesday that officials have approved an extension of the Starliner’s first crewed mission to last up to several months.