Wrapping up a nine-day mission, four commercial astronauts on Axiom Space’s second flight to the International Space Station departed the orbiting research complex at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 UTC) Tuesday. The crew rode back to Earth inside a SpaceX Dragon crew capsule for splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at 11:04 p.m. EDT (0304 UTC).
NASA’s final pair of TROPICS hurricane research satellites lifted off on a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle from New Zealand on Thursday night (U.S. time). The two identical shoebox-size spacecraft launched at 11:46 p.m. EDT Thursday (0346 UTC Friday) from Rocket Lab’s privately-owned spaceport on Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
On the mission’s third launch attempt, SpaceX sent a Falcon Heavy rocket aloft at 8:26 p.m. EDT Sunday (0026 UTC Monday) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The nearly five-hour mission to a near-geosynchronous orbit carried the first satellite for the ViaSat 3 space-based internet network, along with two smaller rideshare payloads.
SpaceX launched the Starlink 3-5 mission from California Thursday morning, following a last-minute abort Wednesday due to concerns about landing of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 6:40 a.m. PDT (9:40 a.m. EDT; 1340 UTC) with 46 Starlink internet satellites.
A commercial robotic lander developed by the Japanese company ispace was supposed to land on the moon at 12:40 p.m. EDT (1640 UTC) Tuesday, attempting to make history as the first privately-funded enterprise to achieve a controlled touchdown on the lunar surface. But mission controllers lost contact with the spacecraft just before landing.