The French military’s newest sharp-eyed optical surveillance satellite lifted off at 1637 GMT (11:37 a.m. EST) Wednesday from French Guiana aboard a Russian-built Soyuz launcher, marking Arianespace’s 11th and final launch of 2018. The Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage will place the CSO 1 spacecraft into orbit around 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth. Managers delayed the launch from Tuesday due to unfavorable high-altitude winds.
NASA’s robotic InSight spacecraft, carrying a pair of European-built science instruments, successfully landed Monday on a broad, flat equatorial Martian plain named Elysium Planitia. Touchdown was confirmed at 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT) to begin a science mission focused on studying the deep interior of Mars.
After a six-month voyage from Earth, NASA’s InSight Mars lander, streaking through space at at some 12,300 mph, will slam into the thin martian atmosphere Monday afternoon to begin a nail-biting six-and-a-half-minute descent to the surface, kicking off a billion-dollar mission to probe the red planet’s hidden interior.
A Vega launcher lifted off Tuesday night from a spaceport at the edge of South America’s Amazon rainforest, climbed into orbit on the power of four Italian- and Ukrainian-built rocket stages, and successfully deployed a French-built, Moroccan-owned military surveillance satellite nearly 400 miles above Earth.