Two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut boarded their Soyuz MS-06 landing craft for a homecoming Tuesday night, U.S. time, concluding 168 days in orbit. The trio undocked from the International Space Station at 5:08 p.m. EST (2208 GMT), and landed on the snowy steppe of Kazakhstan at 9:31 p.m. EST (0231 GMT Wednesday).
Running several days late after a series of technical and weather delays, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 6:17 a.m. PST (9:17 a.m. EST; 1417 GMT) with the Spanish-owned Paz radar observation satellite and two prototype payloads for SpaceX’s planned Starlink broadband satellite network.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched at 4:25 p.m. EST (2125 GMT) Wednesday from Cape Canaveral with the GovSat 1 communications satellite, a military-grade craft to relay signals for Luxembourg and allied nations. SpaceX’s launch team scrubbed an attempt Tuesday to replace a transducer on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and wait for improved weather conditions.
A European Ariane 5 rocket delivered two commercial communications satellites to orbit Thursday after Arianespace’s ground team lost telemetry from the launcher during its climb into orbit, raising concerns that the mission might have failed. The SES 14 and Al Yah 3 satellites are confirmed in orbit and healthy, but the parameters of their orbits are unknown. Both were heading toward 22,000-mile-high geostationary perches over the equator.
Nearly four weeks after its arrival at the International Space Station, a SpaceX Dragon supply ship departed the research lab Saturday and dropped out of orbit for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Los Angeles. The Dragon capsule was released from the station’s robotic arm at 4:58 a.m. EST (0958 GMT), and splashdown occurred at approximately 10:36 a.m. EST (1536 GMT).
United Launch Alliance kicked off its 2018 launch campaign with a Delta 4 rocket flight at 2:11 p.m. PST (5:11 p.m. EST; 2211 GMT) Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Gusty winds forced officials to call off a launch attempt Wednesday, and technical problems halted a countdown Thursday multiple times. The Delta 4 launched with a top secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.