A European Ariane 5 rocket delivered two commercial communications satellites to orbit Thursday after Arianespace’s ground team lost telemetry from the launcher during its climb into orbit, raising concerns that the mission might have failed. The SES 14 and Al Yah 3 satellites are confirmed in orbit and healthy, but the parameters of their orbits are unknown. Both were heading toward 22,000-mile-high geostationary perches over the equator.
NASA’s $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has completed critical end-to-end testing in a giant vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Center, proving the telescope will work properly in the deep cold of space, bring starlight to a sharp focus and precisely track its astronomical targets when launched in 2019.
Unimpeded by rain showers and a dark gray blanket of low clouds, an Ariane 5 rocket thundered away from a European-run space base in the jungle of French Guiana Tuesday to place four Galileo navigation satellites in orbit, an on-target deployment that should improve the location accuracy of new smartphones around the world.
Four European navigation satellites fastened on top of an Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana, at 1836:07 GMT (1:36:07 p.m. EST) Tuesday to propel the Galileo navigation network closer to global service. The Ariane 5’s upper stage delivered the spacecraft to a circular orbit more than 14,000 miles above Earth around four hours after launch.
Extra testing of the James Webb Space Telescope and delays in assembling the powerful observatory will push back the $10 billion mission’s launch by at least six months to early 2019, officials announced last week as the telescope successfully completed an extensive performance test inside a cryogenic vacuum chamber in Houston.