International Launch Services, facing headwinds in a commercial launch market now largely shaped by billionaires and satellite miniaturization, has touted a new relationship with the Russian space agency and Glavkosmos as a means to drive down Proton rocket prices, make Russian space industry more friendly to the commercial market, and diversify its offerings.
The launch of a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana with four more satellites Thursday to join SES’s O3b broadband network will help satisfy growing bandwidth demands in Latin America, Africa and the Pacific islands until the deployment of a new generation of upgraded spacecraft in 2021, SES officials said.
A Russian Progress resupply and refueling freighter launched Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on top of a Soyuz booster. The cargo craft completed the fastest rendezvous in the history of the International Space Station program with a successful docking less than three-and-a-half hours later.
Russian ground crews working in starkly different environments on the barren steppes of Kazakhstan and in the lush jungles of South America are readying a pair of Soyuz rockets for two launches Thursday, one to resupply the International Space Station, and another to broaden the capacity of SES’s O3b Internet network.
A Russian cosmonaut and his NASA co-pilot, five months after riding out a dramatic launch abort last October, finally made it into orbit Thursday and, along with a NASA astronaut making her first flight, docked with the International Space Station six hours later to boost the lab’s crew back to six.
Russian commander Alexey Ovchinin, NASA co-pilot Nick Hague and astronaut Christina Koch lifted off aboard a Soyuz rocket Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, heading for the International Space Station to raise the research outpost’s crew complement back to six. The Soyuz booster launched at 1914 GMT (3:14 p.m. EDT), and docking at the space station occurred at 0101 GMT (9:01 p.m. EDT).