SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch for the U.S. Air Force will take a major step closer to liftoff with a hold-down engine firing at launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The static fire test is scheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, followed by liftoff with a cluster of experimental satellites and weather monitoring craft June 24.
Rocket Lab’s next launch from New Zealand is set for no earlier than June 27 with a bundle of spacecraft including a commercial Earth-observing microsatellite for BlackSky, two CubeSats for U.S. Special Operations Command, a pair of tiny prototype data relay nodes for Swarm Technologies, a student-built payload from Australia, and a satellite whose identity and owner remain a secret.
NASA flight engineer Anne McClain grappled Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus supply ship with the International Space Station’s robotic arm Friday, marking the automated cargo freighter’s arrival after an abbreviated day-and-a-half-long journey from a launch pad in Virginia with nearly 7,600 pounds of experiments, food and provisions.
A commercial Cygnus cargo freighter packed with 3.8 tons of medical and pharmaceutical experiments, technology demonstration hardware, CubeSats and crew provisions rode an Antares rocket into orbit from Virginia’s Eastern Shore on Wednesday afternoon on the first leg of a day-and-a-half journey to the International Space Station.