A nearly three-month stoppage of on-site work due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus at NASA’s Marshall Space Fight Center in Alabama is expected to push back the launch of the IXPE X-ray astronomy satellite from May 2021 until some time later next year, a senior space agency official said.
A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft departed the International Space Station Friday to close out a three-month stay, then raised its orbit to release multiple experimental nanosatellites for NASA, the U.S. military and research institutions, including one that was snap-assembled by astronauts using 3D-printed parts produced on the station.
The predawn launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center of a Falcon Heavy rocket June 25 was the first nighttime liftoff of SpaceX’s heavy-lifter, the most powerful launcher currently operational anywhere in the world. The Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters returned to Cape Canaveral less than nine minutes later.
SpaceX’s third Falcon Heavy rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in a predawn launch Tuesday, delivering two dozen research and weather observation spacecraft into orbit on a marathon three-and-a-half mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission included the successful landing of the Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters back at Cape Canaveral, and a SpaceX recovery boat netted part of the rocket’s payload fairing for the first time.