The European-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft was installed on top of its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 launcher Friday at Cape Canaveral, ready for final charging and checkouts before liftoff Feb. 9 to finally begin a more than $1.5 billion science mission first approved by the European Space Agency nearly 20 years ago.
NASA has selected Axiom Space, a Houston-based startup partnering with Boeing and other aerospace contractors, to attach a commercial habitat to the International Space Station and begin constructing an orbiting complex that the company says could ultimately replace the international research outpost.
During a fourth spacewalk Saturday to wrap up repairs of the coolant system in a $2 billion cosmic ray detector, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Drew Morgan discovered a leak in one of eight coolant lines that were spliced into a new pump module during three earlier excursions. But Parmitano was able to tighten a fitting on the line and the astronauts were able to complete the repair work, setting the stage for the instrument to resume science operations.
United Launch Alliance teams loaded super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into an Atlas 5 rocket Friday at Cape Canaveral during a countdown dress rehearsal for a planned launch next month with the Solar Orbiter mission, a robotic spacecraft to study the origins of the solar wind and image the sun’s poles for the first time.
Data from the Jan. 19 in-flight launch escape demonstration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft indicate the performance of the capsule’s SuperDraco abort engines was “flawless” as the thrusters boosted the ship away from the top of a Falcon 9 rocket with a peak acceleration of about 3.3Gs, officials said Thursday.