SpaceX hurled a secret cargo into space for the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency Saturday, the 30th rocket launch to fly into Earth orbit from pads on Florida’s Space Coast in 2020. The Falcon 9 flight broke an annual record for missions to reach orbit from the Florida spaceport that stood for 54 years.
SpaceX’s final Falcon 9 launch of the year carried a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency. SpaceX aborted a launch attempt Thursday morning to assess a second stage sensor reading, but the Falcon 9 successfully lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) Saturday. The rocket’s stage landed back at Cape Canaveral eight minutes later.
Views from an airliner, close-up high-speed launch pad cameras, and photographers around the Guiana Space Center in the jungle of South America show the twilight launch of a European Ariane 5 rocket Saturday with three commercial satellites heading for orbits more than 22,000 miles over the equator.
An Ariane 5 rocket delivered a robotic space tug and a pair of commercial communications satellites into orbit Saturday following a fiery blastoff from French Guiana, debuting new upgrades in Arianespace’s first mission since temporarily suspending launch operations earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Two weeks after a sensor problem forced a delay, an Ariane 5 rocket blasted off at 6:04 p.m. EDT (2204 GMT) Saturday from French Guiana with two commercial communications satellites to cover the United States and Japan, and a Northrop Grumman-built robotic satellite servicing mission designed to link up with another spacecraft in geostationary orbit.
Loaded with three commercial satellites, a European Ariane 5 rocket returned to its launch pad in French Guiana Thursday after a two-week launch delay to resolve a technical issue that forced an abort to a countdown July 31. Arianespace says the mission has been rescheduled for launch Saturday due to unfavorable upper level winds in the forecast for Friday.
Arianespace is returning an Ariane 5 rocket — loaded with three U.S.-built satellites — back to its final assembly building in French Guiana to replace a suspect sensor on the vehicle that prompted officials to cancel a launch attempt Friday. Arianespace said Monday that the swap will delay the launch until around Aug. 14.