launch SpaceX

Next SpaceX launch will wait for improved ocean conditions – Spaceflight Now

Credit: Spaceflight Now

The launch of SpaceX’s next 60 Starlink satellites will wait for better weather and sea conditions after currents were too strong for the company’s rocket landing platform to hold position in the Atlantic Ocean for a launch attempt Thursday.

After scrubbing Thursday’s launch attempt, SpaceX initially said it might try again to launch the mission Friday afternoon.

But the launch company announced Thursday night that it would not proceed with a countdown Friday. It could take several days for conditions to improve enough to allow SpaceX to proceed with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the company said.

SpaceX’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” was dispatched to a point nearly 400 miles (630 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral for landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage booster. The reusable rocket is designed to be recovered and reused.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, said the current at the landing site in the Atlantic Ocean — roughly due east of Charleston, South Carolina — was too strong for the drone ship to hold station. He tweeted that underwater control thrusters will be upgraded for future missions.

Several tropical weather systems are moving across the Atlantic, including Hurricane Teddy in the central Atlantic Ocean and the remnants of Hurricane Sally off the U.S. East Coast.

SpaceX’s two drone ships are each about the size of a football field, and are designed to hold position while the Falcon 9’s first stage descends to a pinpoint touchdown with a series of braking maneuvers using rocket thrust. The mobile platforms, converted from barges, are emblazoned with a bullseye and a stylized “X” to mark the landing target.

Recovering and reusing rockets is crucial to SpaceX’s model of budget launch costs, and is key to maintaining the company’s fast-paced launch cadence. The mission that was originally scheduled to take off Thursday will carry 60 more satellites into orbit for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband Internet network.

SpaceX has previously gone ahead with missions despite poor weather in the offshore recovery area that could risk the booster’s landing. With reusability now ingrained in the company’s launch schedule, recovery is becoming more important.

File photo of a Falcon 9 booster returning to Port Canaveral on a SpaceX drone ship. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

SpaceX has launched 16 Falcon 9 flights so far this year, and the company is on track to launch more missions in 2020 than in any previous year. The company’s record for launches in a single year is 21 missions, which SpaceX achieved in 2018.

Only two of those missions have launched with newly-built first stages. The rest have launched with previously-flown boosters.

SpaceX plans to launch at least two more brand new Falcon 9 boosters in the coming months. Those are assigned to launch a GPS navigation satellite for the U.S. Space Force on Sept. 30 and a Crew Dragon capsule with four astronauts on Oct. 23.

The boosters on those missions will also be recovered on offshore drone ships and reused. SpaceX has two operational drone ships based at Port Canaveral, Florida, to support rocket landings.

Launches with heavy payloads, or missions targeting high-energy orbits, use too much of the Falcon 9’s propellant for the rocket’s first stage to reverse course and land back at Cape Canaveral. Most of SpaceX’s recent Falcon 9 launches have required drone ship landings for the first stage.

SpaceX has at least six more Falcon 9 missions scheduled to launch this year for the company’s customers. They include the GPS navigation satellite launch Sept. 30 from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, followed by the Crew Dragon launch to the International Space Station on Oct. 23 from pad 39A.

The company’s Cape Canaveral launch schedule for the rest of 2020 also includes a Dragon cargo mission set for launch to the space station Nov. 15, the Turksat 5A communications satellite scheduled for liftoff no earlier than Nov. 30, and a rideshare mission with dozens of small satellites set to go Dec. 16.

In addition to the missions from Florida, SpaceX plans to launch the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich oceanography satellite Nov. 10 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The oceanography satellite is a joint project between NASA, NOAA, the European Space Agency, the French space agency CNES, and the European weather satellite agency Eumetsat.

In between the missions for external customers, SpaceX will continue launching groups of Starlink satellites on flights every few weeks. SpaceX has launched more than 700 Starlink satellites to date, and the company plans to deploy 1,440 spacecraft to complete the first generation of the Starlink network to provide Internet service to most of the world’s populated regions.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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launch Microsoft

Microsoft to launch smaller version of its upcoming next-gen console for $299 – CNBC

Microsoft confirmed Tuesday that it is set to launch a smaller, cheaper version of its upcoming next-generation console.

The company is currently gearing up for the release of its Xbox Series X device later this year, promising powerful specs and improved graphics quality in a bid to convince gamers to part with their cash for new gaming hardware.

It will go head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 5, or PS5, with both consoles expected to hit shelves ahead of the holidays. You can check out a breakdown of the main differences between the Xbox Series X and PS5 here.

Microsoft teased the new device, called the Xbox Series S, in a tweet Tuesday. It said the Xbox Series S would be the “smallest Xbox ever” and cost $299. It later revealed that the console would debut on Nov. 10.

The company added that the Xbox Series S is around 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X and won’t come with a disc drive, meaning users will have to download or stream games and movies. Sony has done something similar with the PS5, with both standard and digital-only versions of the console set to be released this fall.

For context, Microsoft has said the Xbox Series X will be four times more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One X. It’ll come with an eight-core AMD Zen 2 processor — like the PS5 — but will have a better graphics card than Sony’s rival machine.

With the Xbox Series S, there are also some impressive specs — such as support for realistic so-called ray tracing graphics — but it will have less internal storage. Microsoft has been heavily marketing its Game Pass Ultimate subscription service, which is set to include a cloud-gaming feature that lets users stream games from their phone or tablet, from Sept. 15.

Microsoft was plagued by leaks about the more affordable next-gen machine ahead of the announcement Tuesday. Windows Central — a publication that closely follows Microsoft news — reported overnight that the main Xbox Series X console would cost $499, while the Xbox Series S would come with a $299 price tag. 

Citing sources, Windows Central said that both consoles would have monthly financing options. Consumers would reportedly be able to buy an Xbox Series X for $35 per month or the Xbox Series S with a $25 a month plan. Microsoft said it had nothing further to share beyond its tweets Tuesday.

It’s the first time either of the major console manufacturers have disclosed any pricing details for their next-gen devices. Sony unveiled the PS5 for the first time in June, but didn’t reveal any pricing or release date information. According to Windows Central, both of Microsoft’s new consoles are set to launch on Nov. 10.

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Failure launch

Failure to launch: ULA Delta-4 Heavy Rocket delayed – WESH 2 Orlando

One of the world’s largest rockets scheduled to launch Saturday didn’t go up as planned

Failure to launch: ULA Delta-4 Heavy Rocket delayed

One of the world’s largest rockets scheduled to launch Saturday didn’t go up as planned


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Failure to launch: ULA Delta-4 Heavy Rocket delayed

One of the world’s largest rockets scheduled to launch Saturday didn’t go up as planned

The ULA Delta-4 Heavy Rocket was still sitting on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Saturday morning after failing to lift off overnight.United Launch Alliance did reset the countdown clock, and tried to launch it again, but ultimately it was declared a scrub for Saturday, and ULA proceeded with de-tanking operations.ULA said its team is currently reviewing data. A new launch date has not been announced.


The ULA Delta-4 Heavy Rocket was still sitting on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Saturday morning after failing to lift off overnight.

United Launch Alliance did reset the countdown clock, and tried to launch it again, but ultimately it was declared a scrub for Saturday, and ULA proceeded with de-tanking operations.

ULA said its team is currently reviewing data. A new launch date has not been announced.

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launch Satellite

ULA launch of NRO satellite on hold after Delta 4 Heavy hot fire abort – SpaceNews


The hot fire abort of NROL-44 happened three seconds before the Delta 4 Heavy was to lift off Aug. 29, 2020. Credit: ULA webcast

The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the Delta 4 Heavy was to lift off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral

WASHINGTON — A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office classified spy satellite remains on the ground after a mission abort Aug. 29 during the ignition sequence before the planned 3:28 a.m. Eastern liftoff.

The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the rocket was to lift off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The automatic abort was triggered by a hot fire after the Delta 4 Heavy’s three engines appeared to ignite but then shut off. ULA CEO Tory Bruno said on Twitter that the cause “appears to have been in the ground system.” He said the abort system “functioned as intended to protect the vehicle and payload.”

ULA said in a statement it is “reviewing all data and will determine the path forward.” Another launch attempt won’t happen for at least seven days.

This was the third launch attempt in as many days after two scrubs — one on Aug. 26 due to customer request and one on Aug. 27 resulting from a technical problem with the ground pneumatics control system.

The Aug. 29 launch originally had been scheduled at 2:04 a.m. but was delayed by a thermal anomaly due to a lower than expected temperature in one of the rocket’s compartments.

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launch United

United Launch Alliance debuts first-ever 3D projection of Delta IV Heavy Rocket –

The United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket shone in a spectacular 3D projection ahead of this week’s satellite launch. 

The Delta IV Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch the NROL-44 spy satellite on Saturday (Aug. 29) at 2:04 a.m. EDT (0604 GMT) from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. However, on Aug. 24, the spacecraft served as a backdrop for a 3D projection celebrating ULA’s legacy and the company’s successful delivery of 140 missions to orbit. 

“We are dreamers, inspired by possibilities not yet imagined; believers driven to harness the potential of space; leaders combining expertise and ingenuity — and it all started with a spark of the imagination,” as stated in the video of the event

Related: Watch live tonight! Delta IV Heavy rocket to launch US spy satellite

ULA's Delta IV Heavy was the backdrop for a unique 3D projection that showcased the future of space exploration. The presentation took place at Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

ULA’s Delta IV Heavy was the backdrop for a unique 3D projection that showcased the future of space exploration. The presentation took place at Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.  (Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

The 3D presentation on started with an animated launch countdown of the Delta IV Heavy rocket. As the virtual spacecraft lifted off, the backdrop changed from blue skies to the starry landscape of space. 

The video showcased leaders in spaceflight, including John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, and highlighted the successes of the satellite industry and how advancing technologies have connected the world. This includes more accurate weather satellites, used to track dangerous storms or natural disasters and determine evacuation plans, as well as national security satellites and missions to the solar system and beyond. 

“Over the next decade, ULA will continue to protect life on Earth with the introduction of Vulcan Centaur, our next generation rocket — a rocket, purpose built for national security [and] founded on the Atlas and Delta legacy of success,” according to the video. “With Vulcan Centaur, we are engineering limitless possibilities for a safer, more secure existence at home and in space.” 

ULA’s Aug. 29 launch marks the 12th flight of a Delta IV Heavy rocket since its debut in 2004. This week’s vehicle is one of only five Delta rockets remaining as ULA plans to retire the launcher before rolling out Vulcan Centaur. The first operational flight for Vulcan Centaur is expected to be a private moon lander named Peregrine, which is slated to launch in 2021.  

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

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launch TikTok

TikTok to launch court action over Donald Trump’s crackdown – The Guardian

TikTok has said it will mount a court challenge to the Trump administrations crackdown on the popular Chinese-owned service, which Washington accuses of being a national security threat.
Amid tensio…
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launch Target

NASA sets Oct. 23 as target launch date for first operational Crew Dragon mission – Spaceflight Now

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. Credit: SpaceX

The first operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with four astronauts aboard is set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than Oct. 23, following a formal certification review to assess data from the Crew Dragon’s two-man test flight that concluded earlier this month, NASA said Friday.

The four-person crew on the next Crew Dragon mission was set to blast off in late September, but NASA announced Friday that the launch would be pushed back to Oct. 23 to better fit within the International Space Station’s busy schedule of crew and cargo deliveries.

Spacecraft commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will ride the Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Assuming a launch on Oct. 23, the four-person crew will lift off around 5:47 a.m. EDT (0947 GMT) for a predawn climb into orbit. The launch time could be adjusted slightly as the International Space Station’s orbit changes due to aerodynamic drag and possible reboost maneuvers.

A launch Oct. 23 would put Hopkins and his crewmates on course to dock with the space station Oct. 24, kicking off a six-month expedition on the orbiting research complex.

The Crew Dragon mission set for launch in October will be SpaceX’s first regular crew rotation flight to the space station. Designated Crew-1, the mission follows the first Crew Dragon flight to the station on a demonstration mission with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

Hurley and Behnken launched on SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission May 30 from the Kennedy Space Center and docked at the space station the next day. The launch marked the first time astronauts flew into orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

The Demo-2 test flight concluded Aug. 2 with Hurley and Behnken’s splashdown Aug. 2 in the Gulf of Mexico. Although NASA and SpaceX say the Crew Dragon spacecraft performed well on the 64-day test flight, officials plan a review in late August or early September to assess data from the Demo-2 mission and formally certify the Crew Dragon for regular crew rotation missions lasting up to seven months.

SpaceX is under contract with NASA for at least six “post-certification” crew rotation missions to the space station through 2024. Through a series of funding agreements since 2011, NASA has committed more than $3.1 billion to SpaceX for development, testing and operational flights of the commercial Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“NASA certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system allows the agency to regularly fly astronauts to the space station, ending sole reliance on Russia for space station access,” NASA said Friday.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-1 mission at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Credit: SpaceX

In a statement released Friday, NASA said the Crew-1 mission’s launch was rescheduled from late September to no earlier than Oct. 23 in order “to accommodate spacecraft traffic for the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation and best meet the needs of the International Space Station.”

The Crew Dragon’s launch Oct. 23 and docking Oct. 24 will follow a Russian Soyuz crew rotation in mid-October.

Russian engineers are readying the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft for launch Oct. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov, cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.

The Soyuz MS-17 crew will dock with the space station a few hours after launch, joining station commander Chris Cassidy and Russian flight engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner for a week-long crew handover.

Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner are due to depart the space station Oct. 21 and head for landing in Kazakhstan, leaving the three-person Soyuz MS-17 crew on the orbiting lab to await the arrival of the Crew-1 astronauts Oct. 24, which will raise the station crew size to seven.

Two U.S. resupply missions are also scheduled for launch to the space station before the end of the year.

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus commercial supply ship is set for liftoff Sept. 29 from Wallops Island, Virginia, on top of an Antares rocket. The Cygnus cargo freighter will arrive at the station Oct. 3 with several tons of experiments, crew provisions and other hardware.

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship could launch from Cape Canaveral as soon as November. That mission will be SpaceX’s 21st cargo launch to the space station, but the first to employ a new supply vehicle design based on an unpiloted version of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The timing of the Crew-1 mission’s launch in October will set up the landing of Hopkins’ crew in late April, about one month after the scheduled launch and docking of the next Crew Dragon flight — known as Crew-2 — next spring. NASA wants at least several weeks of overlap between the Crew-1 and Crew-2 astronauts on the space station.

During that period, Russia plans to launch a fresh Soyuz crew mission to the space station to replace Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov and Rubins. With eight Crew Dragon astronauts and six Soyuz crew members coming and going at the station next April, the research outpost could briefly host 14 astronauts and cosmonauts, breaking the record for the most people in space at one time.

Boeing is also gearing up for a second unpiloted test flight of its Starliner crew capsule late this year, but officials have not announced a target launch date for the mission. The Starliner will dock with the space station in a repeat of an unpiloted demonstration flight in December 2019 that failed to reach the orbiting research lab.

If that flight goes well, Boeing could launch astronauts to the space station on its commercial Starliner spacecraft for the first time in 2021. Like SpaceX, Boeing is under contract with NASA for at least six operational Starliner crew rotation flights to the station.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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launch Pixel

The Pixel 4a 5G may launch this fall alongside Pixel 5 for $499 – PhoneArena

Every Google Pixel smartphone has been made available to purchase in two sizes. On Monday, that strategy comes to an end with the introduction of the Google Pixel 4a, or at least that’s what everybody thought.

The Google Pixel 4a 5G will undercut the LG Velvet 5G

The smartphone that was previously known as the Google Pixel 5 XL is now understood to be the Google Pixel 4a 5G.

According to information provided by anonymous tipster

Panda and later shared by

Ishan Agarwal, the midrange 5G smartphone will make its international debut this fall alongside the flagship Google Pixel 5.

High-end Pixel devices typically make their debut in early October. But this year virtually every manufacturer is facing COVID-19 delays, so an event in late October or early November seems much more likely.

The Google Pixel 4a 5G should launch shortly after the announcement and, if the information shared today is accurate, it will only cost $499 in the United States. That makes it $100 cheaper than both the LG Velvet 5G and Samsung Galaxy A71 5G.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G and two rear cameras

Despite the branding choice, reports suggest the Pixel 4a 5G will share some of its components with the flagship Google Pixel 5.

Both devices are said to incorporate the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, which has an integrated 5G modem. At least 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage are to be expected as standard too.

The camera is where things could be different. Although both the Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G are expected to feature two sensors on the back, the latter will most likely inherit its cameras from the current Pixel 4 flagships.

More differences can be found in the display department. Whereas the Pixel 5 is going to feature a 5.8-inch screen, the Pixel 4a 5G looks set to adopt a 6.1-inch display and will, therefore, take the place of the canceled Google Pixel 4a XL.

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China launch

China is about to launch a trio of spacecraft to Mars — including a rover – The Verge

Early on July 23rd, China is slated to launch its most ambitious space mission yet, sending a trio of spacecraft to Mars — including a rover to explore the planet’s surface. If successful, China will become the second nation to land and operate a rover on the Red Planet.

The mission is named Tianwen-1 — after the long poem “Tianwen,” which means “Questions to Heaven” — and it entails sending an orbiter, a lander, and a rover to Mars. The three spacecraft will launch on top of one of China’s most powerful rockets, the Long March 5, and then travel through deep space together to the Red Planet. While the orbiter studies Mars from above, the lander and rover will make the daring plunge to the surface. The lander is tasked with touching down gently on the ground in one piece, keeping the rover safe and providing a platform for the wheeled vehicle to roll out and explore.

Tianwen-1 is the latest in a long line of increasingly complex space projects that China has tackled over the last decade. The country became the first nation in history to land and operate a rover on the far side of the Moon last year. China remains focused on lunar exploration, with plans to launch a mission at the end of this year to bring back samples from the lunar surface.

Now, with Tianwen-1, China is embarking on what could be its first big interplanetary mission. It has even bolder projects planned for the future, such as visiting an asteroid and visiting Jupiter in the 2030s. “They’re definitely on a long-term quest for lunar and planetary Solar System exploration,” James Head, a planetary geoscientist at Brown University who has worked with scientists in the Chinese Space Program, tells The Verge.

Of course, Mars missions are no easy feat, and China’s first attempt to reach the Red Planet didn’t even make it beyond Earth. In 2011, the country attempted to send an orbiter to Mars called Yinghuo-1, piggybacking on a much larger Russian spacecraft bound for the planet called Phobos-Grunt. But the launch of the vehicle on a Ukrainian rocket ultimately failed, destroying Phobos-Grunt and the Chinese spacecraft.

China is handling both the launch and the spacecraft development for Tianwen-1. If the ambitious mission succeeds, China will become one of only a handful of countries to reach and orbit Mars. China’s goal of landing on the Red Planet during this trip is an even bigger move. Only the United States and the Soviet Union have ever landed on Mars, and only the US has successfully operated a rover on the planet. “It will demonstrate that China is a full-spectrum space power,” David Burbach, a professor at the Naval War College who studies China’s space program, tells The Verge, speaking in a personal capacity. “That they’re able to check all the boxes of what a major space power is able to do.”

As is the case with most Chinese missions, details surrounding this launch are relatively scarce. But China has provided some general information about the overall structure of the mission. The three spacecraft will spend about seven months journeying to Mars, reaching the planet sometime in February 2021. That month will also mark the arrival of the United Arab Emirates’ Mars orbiter, which launched on July 19th, as well as the arrival of NASA’s new Perseverance rover, which is set to launch on July 30th.

Once Tianwen-1 arrives, the trio will stay in orbit for about two to three months, while China surveys their potential landing site. “Basically they want to validate with their own data the characteristics of the site,” says Head, adding, “You build up confidence every day that you’re in Martian orbit until you reach a decision about when to proceed down to the surface.” China is aiming to land in an area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia, according to the mission’s chief scientist writing in Nature Astronomy. Utopia Planitia is the same region on Mars where NASA’s Viking 2 lander touched down in 1976.

Tianwen-1’s rover has a long list of scientific tasks ahead of it, including mapping out Martian geography, looking for any water-ice in the Martian soil, measuring the climate of Mars at the surface, and more. The rover is equipped with six instruments, including its most exciting tool, a ground-penetrating radar that may be able to identify different rocks and even search for reservoirs of water-ice underneath the surface.

To get to the surface, the lander and rover pair will perform an audacious seven- to eight-minute descent to the surface of Mars, according to China’s state-run media agency Xinhua News. The process will be similar to how NASA lands its spacecraft on Mars. First, the spacecraft will rely on Mars’ thin atmosphere to cushion their fall, slowing them down substantially after coming out of orbit. They’ll then deploy a parachute for about a minute and a half to slow down even further. Finally, the lander will ignite an onboard engine to hover over the surface for a few moments and then touch down gently.


An artistic rendering of the Tianwen-1 rover and lander on Mars.
Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images

Confirmation about the landing’s success or failure will likely rely on official word from China. “They make a very big deal when things succeed; they’re relatively quiet until it’s clear that they’ve succeeded,” says Burbach. “If it goes into orbit, they’ll make a big deal about that. If the landing is successful, I’m sure there will be a lot of attention to that.” As for the orbiter, it will serve as a relay, providing communications between Earth and the rover. It’ll also attempt to survey Mars from above with seven of its own instruments.

But first, the mission has to launch successfully. Airspace closures over the launch site at Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in southern China indicate the launch could occur around 12:45AM ET on July 23rd, according to Andrew Jones, a freelance journalist covering China’s spaceflight program. If the launch on the 23rd gets scrubbed, China will have until early August to try again. This launch will be just the fourth launch of the Long March 5, and its track record hasn’t been perfect. While its debut flight went relatively well in 2016, the second launch of the Long March 5 in 2017 ended in failure. China spent up to two years diagnosing the problem and redesigning the machinery in the engines responsible for the failure. Fortunately, the vehicle returned to flight successfully in 2019. If that launch had failed, it’s doubtful Tianwen-1 would have been able to go up this summer.

“This new rocket was designed to take them to the next level,” Jones tells The Verge. “So they’ll be able to launch a space station, carry out a lunar sample return mission and start sending missions to the [lunar] South Pole.” Jones added: “If this launch had failed, they would have a lot of explaining to do as to why basically all these big ambitious space missions which were planned would be delayed again.”

A successful mission would certainly bring even more prestige — and more attention — to China’s blossoming space program. In the US, it will likely renew heated discussions among lawmakers and space policy experts about China’s growing dominance in the space world. However, Burbach says a mission based on science should not be of concern to the US. “If you find a Chinese mission to Mars worrying, it means that you find it worrying that China is a competent science and engineering country, with a capable rocket program overall,” he says. He notes that China has done missions in space that have been cause for concern — such as conducting a test in 2007 to destroy a satellite, creating hundreds of pieces of debris. But a science mission is not something he worries about. “If anything I think it’s an opportunity to allow some additional cooperation with the Chinese technical community,” says Burbach.

While Tianwen-1 could further elevate China on the global stage, the country also sees these missions as a way to inspire youth in the country, according to Jones. “Engaging in these kinds of really challenging high technology areas is something which boosts the economy,” he says. “It also inspires people, just like with the Apollo missions, to get involved in STEM and to pursue these kinds of these kinds of careers that can lead into exploration and all kinds of areas of science and technology.”

Hopefully, if these spacecraft do succeed, we’ll also have a little more insight into Mars. “Every time we go to a different place on Mars we learn something completely new,” says Head. “That’s why it’s so important to have abundant surface exploration and rovers. It just provides a new area; it will be entirely new things, no doubt. And that will complement our overall picture of Mars.”

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launch Perseverance

Join NASA for the Launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover – NASA Mars Exploration

No matter where you live, choose from a menu of activities to join NASA as we “Countdown to Mars” and launch the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet.

Team with NASA to send off the Perseverance rover to Mars – from the convenience of your own home. The mission launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this summer, and you’re invited to participate remotely – with a global, collective launch countdown where you can submit your own videos, take a photo on Mars or next to the rover, dive into an interactive launch packet, and sign up to send your name to Mars on a future space mission.

After a seven-month journey to the Red Planet, the rover will land in Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed with intriguing geology. In its search for astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life, Perseverance will gather rock and soil samples there for future return to Earth. It will also characterize the planet’s climate and geology and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

In addition, Perseverance carries the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a technology demonstration that marks the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet.

“During these challenging times, no matter where you are, you can participate in this launch and help send this robotic geologist on a mission to explore worlds beyond our own,” said Michael Greene, the director for communications and education at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission.

With local restrictions on public gatherings in place, NASA recommends watching the launch virtually. To learn how, use our launch toolkit. And here’s a menu of options for sharing in the Perseverance launch:


You know that “5-4-3-2-1” right before a spacecraft blasts off? You can record your own version of a launch countdown video clip and tag it on social media using #CountdownToMars. Your clip may be featured on NASA social media or even on launch day. Here’s how to participate.

Send Your Name to Mars, Again!

Perseverance carries three dime-size chips with 10.9 million names submitted worldwide to travel aboard the rover. The people who already signed up can get a special “Now Boarding” stamp and are ready for launch. If you missed that opportunity, you can soon sign up to send your name on a future mission to Mars.

Mars Photo Booth

While sharing the Mars Launch at Home virtually, take a souvenir photo with our virtual Mars Photo Booth. You can pose next to the mighty Atlas V rocket that will launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, strike a pose on Mars, or put yourself next to the rover in the JPL clean room where it was assembled. Just upload your favorite picture, choose a background, and download the new image.

Virtual Launch Packet

Get an interactive magazine-style booklet to enhance your launch-viewing experience. The flipbook includes information about the Perseverance rover launch and all the print products for the mission. You can also download it as a PDF.

Spacecraft 3D Rover Experience

Zoom in, rotate, and twirl around the Perseverance rover in an interactive 3D experience. Click and select different sections to learn all about the science tools and instruments that make up this mighty rover.

Watch the Launch and Share Your Excitement

Watch the mission briefings and other Mars 2020 programming on NASA TV, culminating with the launch on July 30. See the schedule for Perseverance programming.

How to stream NASA TV.

Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #CountdownToMars. Follow and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA, @NASAPersevere, @NASAMars

Facebook: NASA, NASAPersevere

Instagram: NASA

Perseverance videos will be posted to the NASA JPL YouTube channel and NASA YouTube channel.

You can also sign up for the Mars newsletter to stay informed about all the ways to experience this launch.

However you choose to participate in the Mars Launch at Home, we look forward to seeing you online for launch, which is targeted for July 30: The time in which the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission can launch extends to Aug. 15. Check out this page for the latest launch date and time. Doing a Mars Launch from Home may burn up some energy. Perseverance pancakes, anyone?

More information about the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is on this mission website.

News Media Contacts

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Grey Hautaluoma / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

202-358-0668 / 202-358-1501 /

– Written by Jane Platt

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