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.
Orbital ATK’s proposed rocket to answer the U.S. Air Force’s desire for two families of satellite launchers with U.S.-made propulsion systems will be named OmegA, and the company has selected the cryogenic Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine to power the vehicle’s upper stage, officials announced this week.