SpaceX, Blue Origin: a busy day for space this Thursday


With a new group of civilian astronauts, including at least one YouTuber, as well as two military spacecraft and a country’s first mission to the moon leaving the planet in less than 24 hours this Thursday, here’s a roundup of space news that’s especially busy today.

The day began with the launch of a (small payload) Rocket Lab Electron mission, sending a spy satellite into orbit from New Zealand on behalf of the US National Reconnaissance Office. This was NRO’s second consecutive assignment for the Americanokiwi company.

Then, a United Launch Alliance mission ignited an Atlas V rocket to send a Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite into geosynchronous Earth orbit to provide missile detection and early warning to the US Space Force from the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida.

SpaceX: a first mission for South Korea

Florida’s Space Coast will be the scene of a double blast Thursday when ULA’s launch is followed by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Korean Pathfinder lunar orbiter. This spacecraft is South Korea’s first space exploration mission. It will travel to low lunar orbit, where it will take pictures of the surface and map potential landing sites. Korean media also reports that he plans to test the radio link between the Moon and Earth by sending BTS’s song Dynamite to our planet.

SpaceX’s launch is scheduled for 7:08 PM EST or 01:08 Paris time, about twelve and a half hours after today’s earlier orbital launch from Cape Canaveral. This is the shortest interval between two such launches from the space center since 1967, at the height of the Apollo program.

Blue Origin: a tourist mission

In between, a New Shepard rocket from Blue Origin lifted off from the company’s launch base in west Texas. The sixth manned mission for Jeff Bezos’ space company will feature the first Egyptian and Portuguese astronauts in history, as well as the first Guinness World Record holder to visit space, as far as we know.

Coby Cotton, co-founder of the hit YouTube channel Dude Perfect, headlines the Blue Origin crew, along with Portuguese entrepreneur M├írio Ferreira, British-American mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien, technology executive Clint Kelly III, Egyptian engineer Sara Sabry and telecom. director Steve Young.

The group will take the now familiar route from the Texas desert to the edge of space for a few minutes of weightlessness and stunning views before falling back to the surface.

A surprise launch from China?

On top of all this action, it appears China may be conducting an experimental, unannounced test flight of a spacecraft today.

All of this makes today one of the busiest days we’ve seen in spaceflight, but it may just be the start as SpaceX and NASA ramp up plans to send more astronauts into orbit, on the moon and beyond in the coming years.

CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance

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