Near the end of a ground-shaking test firing of Northrop Grumman’s solid-propellant Castor 600 rocket motor — the first stage of a new booster being designed to launch spy satellites and other national security payloads — a major part of the rocket’s big nozzle appeared to break apart, littering the test site with shards of debris.
NASA flight engineer Anne McClain grappled Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus supply ship with the International Space Station’s robotic arm Friday, marking the automated cargo freighter’s arrival after an abbreviated day-and-a-half-long journey from a launch pad in Virginia with nearly 7,600 pounds of experiments, food and provisions.
A Rocket Lab Electron rocket climbed into orbit from New Zealand Thursday (U.S. time) with an experimental payload for a U.S. military research and development agency to demonstrate the performance of a compact, deployable antenna that could expand the communications capabilities of future small satellites.
Rocket Lab’s launch team canceled a launch attempt Sunday in New Zealand after discovering a misbehaving video transmitter on the Electron booster set to loft a small U.S. military satellite into orbit to test an innovative antenna design. After replacing the transmitter, Rocket Lab announced the launch is set for Thursday (U.S. time) to wait for better weather.
Rocket Lab’s first launch of the year lifted off Thursday at 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT) after a four-day delay to replace a video transmitter and wait for improved weather. The company’s Electron rocket launched from Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island with a technology demonstration satellite for DARPA, the U.S. military research and development agency.