A European Ariane 5 rocket delivered two commercial communications satellites to orbit Thursday after Arianespace’s ground team lost telemetry from the launcher during its climb into orbit, raising concerns that the mission might have failed. The SES 14 and Al Yah 3 satellites are confirmed in orbit and healthy, but the parameters of their orbits are unknown. Both were heading toward 22,000-mile-high geostationary perches over the equator.
Ground crews took steps this week to prepare for the next Falcon 9 launch, set for no earlier than Jan. 30 with a telecom satellite for SES and the Luxembourg government, as SpaceX officials stressed their rocket was not to blame for the rumored loss of a mysterious U.S. government payload after liftoff Sunday.
In a reshuffling of SpaceX’s launch schedule, a Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff no earlier than Dec. 8 on a mission to deliver several tons of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station and return to service a Cape Canaveral launch pad damaged in a catastrophic rocket explosion last year.