January 26, 2020

Solar Orbiter launch delayed to Feb. 7

January 26, 2020

Officials have delayed the launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket with the European-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft from Cape Canaveral by two days to Feb. 7, a ripple effect from time spent fixing a minor issue last week during a launch vehicle countdown dress rehearsal.

Astronauts finish repairs to space station cosmic ray detector

January 25, 2020

During a fourth spacewalk Saturday to wrap up repairs of the coolant system in a $2 billion cosmic ray detector, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Drew Morgan discovered a leak in one of eight coolant lines that were spliced into a new pump module during three earlier excursions. But Parmitano was able to tighten a fitting on the line and the astronauts were able to complete the repair work, setting the stage for the instrument to resume science operations.

ULA team completes countdown practice run before Solar Orbiter launch

January 24, 2020

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.

Photos: Solar Orbiter encapsulated inside launch shroud

January 24, 2020

The Airbus-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft has been closed up inside the payload fairing of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in preparation for liftoff from Cape Canaveral in February on a joint mission between the European Space Agency and NASA.

Prototypes for new Chinese crew capsule and space station arrive at launch site

January 24, 2020

The next flight of China’s heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket will debut a new configuration designed to launch modules for a Chinese space station. But a demonstration launch of the Long March 5B booster scheduled as soon as April will instead carry a prototype of China’s next-generation deep space crew capsule into orbit on an unpiloted test flight.

SpaceX releases preliminary results from Crew Dragon abort test

January 23, 2020

Data from the Jan. 19 in-flight launch escape demonstration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft indicate the performance of the capsule’s SuperDraco abort engines was “flawless” as the thrusters boosted the ship away from the top of a Falcon 9 rocket with a peak acceleration of about 3.3Gs, officials said Thursday.

Firefly confirms fire during first stage test

January 23, 2020

Firefly Aerospace confirmed a “test anomaly” resulted in a small fire on a vertical test stand in Central Texas Wednesday evening. The fire occurred during the first attempt at a full-scale qualification test-firing of a first stage for Firefly’s Alpha small satellite launcher.

Boeing backs out of DARPA spaceplane program

January 22, 2020

After receiving more than $150 million in U.S. military funding to design and develop a reusable winged spaceplane named Phantom Express, Boeing said Wednesday it is ending its work on the vehicle, effectively killing a program military officials hoped would offer regular, reduced-cost launch opportunities for small satellites.

Atlas 5 for Solar Orbiter launch returns to assembly building for inspections

January 22, 2020

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

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