SpaceX kicked off its 2019 launch campaign with a mission Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 more upgraded communications satellites into orbit to complete a refresh of Iridium’s voice and data relay network. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket occurred at 7:31 a.m. PST (10:31 a.m. EST; 1531 GMT).
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said this weekend that the company is about one month away from launching the first Crew Dragon spacecraft on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, a precursor to a demonstration launch with astronauts later this year. He also warned that early test flights of the commercial crew capsule, built under contract to NASA, will be “especially dangerous.”
A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Thursday carrying 28 satellites, including a pair of Russian mapping satellites, secondary payloads from Germany, Japan, Spain, South Africa, and a dozen Earth-observing CubeSats and eight commercial weather payloads for Planet and Spire.