A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Tuesday with five communications satellites for Iridium’s commercial voice, data relay, and tracking network, and a pair of U.S.-German research craft to probe Earth’s climate and water cycle. Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, occurred at 12:47 p.m. PDT (3:47 p.m. EDT; 1947 GMT).
A pair of European-built, NASA-backed research satellites set for launch Tuesday from California will extend 15 years of global gravity field measurements collected by the GRACE mission before it ended last year, supplying scientists with data to help track the melting of Earth’s ice sheets and chart the impacts of floods and droughts.
An Orbital ATK Antares rocket streaked into orbit early Monday from Wallops Island, Virginia, with a commercial Cygnus cargo craft carrying a quantum research experiment, an investigation into the properties of concrete in space, fresh food and other provisions for the International Space Station’s six-person crew.
Three days after launching from the Virginia coastline, an Orbital ATK Cygnus supply ship completed its final approach to the International Space Station on Thursday with more than 7,000 pounds of cargo and experiments. The automated freighter was captured by the station’s robotic arm at 5:26 a.m. EDT (0926 GMT).
Orbital ATK readied an upgraded Antares rocket for launch Monday from Wallops Island, Va., to deliver more than 3 tons of crew supplies, science gear, spare parts and three small satellites to the International Space Station to test miniaturized, low-cost technologies for Earth observation applications.