On its first nighttime launch, Rocket Lab’s Electron booster climbed into orbit Sunday from New Zealand with a trio of small U.S. military payloads, demonstrating the privately-developed rocket’s ability to help meet the Air Force’s growing demand for smallsat launches.
A robotic Chinese spacecraft named Chang’e 4 braked out of lunar orbit and slowed to a controlled touchdown on the far side of the moon Thursday, a first in the history of space exploration. The lander later deployed a small rover to explore the surrounding landscape.
Russian officials could complete their investigation of a rocket failure Tuesday by mid-December, and multiple Russian news reports suggest the probe has narrowed to focus on the guidance computer on the Soyuz launcher’s Fregat upper stage.
A new Russian weather observatory and the first prototype for Telesat’s planned network of 100-plus broadband communications satellites in low Earth orbit were among 19 spacecraft feared lost after a Fregat rocket stage ran into trouble soon after liftoff aboard a Soyuz booster Tuesday.
A Soyuz rocket is scheduled to lift off Tuesday from a launch pad in Russia’s Far East with a new Russian weather satellite and 18 secondary payloads from companies and institutions in the United States, Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Germany.