NASA and industry teams at Cape Canaveral launched an Orion capsule on a three-minute atmospheric test flight Tuesday to prove the spaceship’s ability to escape from an exploding rocket during launch, demonstrating a key safety feature before astronauts ride the vehicle into deep space. Liftoff occurred at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT).
A towering mobile platform for the agency’s Space Launch System arrived at launch pad 39B Friday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a sequence of water and propellant flow tests, swing arm checkouts and other rehearsals that should conclude with managers declaring the spaceport’s ground systems ready to support the first SLS launch campaign by the end of the year.
Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian co-pilot David Saint-Jacques and NASA flight engineer Anne McClain closed out a 204-day mission in orbit Monday with an undocking from the International Space Station at 7:25 p.m. EDT (2325 GMT), followed by landing in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz MS-11 capsule at 10:47 p.m. EDT (0247 GMT Tuesday).
In a head-spinning tweet, President Trump blasted NASA on Friday for its plan to return to the moon, a plan set in motion during a 2017 White House ceremony he presided over, and forcefully endorsed in March on the president’s behalf by Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the revitalized National Space Council.