SpaceX conducted its first launch from Florida in more than two months Thursday, when a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center with the Qatari Es’hail 2 communications satellite at 3:46 p.m. EST (2046 GMT). The Falcon 9’s reused first stage landed on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer satellite was scheduled to launch Wednesday aboard an air-dropped Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket over the Atlantic Ocean, but managers aborted the mission after encountering a technical concern with the rocket following departure from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launcher’s L-1011 carrier jet returned to Florida.
Europe’s MetOp-C weather satellite launched aboard a Russian-built Soyuz rocket toward polar orbit Tuesday night from French Guiana, joining an international fleet of meteorological observatories critical for global weather forecasting. Liftoff occurred at 7:47 p.m. EST Tuesday (0047 GMT Wednesday).
Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague landed safely downrange in Kazakhstan on Thursday after a Soyuz booster failure cut short their ascent into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome toward the International Space Station. The emergency landing was the first Soyuz in-flight abort since 1975.