Under a brilliant moon, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket flashed to life and vaulted away from Cape Canaveral late Sunday, boosting the European Space Agency’s $1.5 billion Solar Orbiter probe out of Earth’s gravitational grip toward a multi-year voyage around the sun that will give scientists their first glimpse of the star’s poles.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad Sunday night with the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter mission, a project developed in partnership with NASA. Launch occurred right on time at the opening of a two-hour window at 11:03 p.m. EST Sunday (0403 GMT Monday).
Boeing’s first Starliner crew capsule to fly in space departed its factory Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a trip to a launch pad a few miles away, where teams raised the craft atop an Atlas 5 rocket for liftoff next month on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station.
United Launch Alliance teams at Cape Canaveral hoisted a Centaur upper stage on top of an Atlas 5 rocket Friday at launch pad 41, completing the initial build-up of the launch vehicle slated to carry Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule into space in December on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station.