The announcement Monday of the discovery of phosphine gas in the clouds of Venus — an indicator of possible life — has raised hopes among scientists for new robotic missions to renew exploration of Earth’s planetary neighbor. If Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck gets his way, a privately-funded mission could get the next crack at probing Venus’s soupy atmosphere.
Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket took off at 1:12 a.m. EDT (0512 GMT) Saturday carrying five payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office, NASA and the University of New South Wales at Canberra in Australia. The launch was the first for Rocket Lab since January due to delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The sixth and final satellite in the U.S. military’s network of ultra-secure, nuclear-hardened AEHF communications relay stations has arrived in Florida for final preparations for liftoff in March on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, the first of nearly 20 U.S. Space Force missions planned for launch in the first year of operations for the new military service.