SpaceX launched the first in a series of small satellite rideshare missions Sunday from Cape Canaveral, providing transportation for 143 U.S. and international spacecraft to low Earth orbit, a record number of satellites on a single flight. Liftoff occurred at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Sunday after bad weather forced SpaceX to scrub a launch attempt Saturday morning.
Bill Shepherd, a former Navy SEAL-turned astronaut who arrived at the International Space Station 20 years ago Monday to begin the continuous occupancy of the orbiting research outpost, says the experience gained by NASA and its global partners over the last two decades provides a blueprint for missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
The sampling mechanism on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is stuffed with specimens captured from asteroid Bennu earlier this week — so full that some of the rocks are floating out into space. Officials said Friday they will stow the samples inside the mission’s Earth return capsule sooner than planned to minimize the loss of asteroid material.