SpaceX successfully

SpaceX successfully flies its Starship prototype to a height of around 500 feet – TechCrunch

SpaceX has been developing Starship, its next-generation spacecraft, at its site in Boca Chica, Texas. The company has built a number of different Starship prototypes to date, include one prior version called the Starhopper that was essentially just the bottom portion of the rocket. Today, the company flew its first full-scale prototype (minus the domed cap that will appear on the final version, and without the control fins that will appear lower down on its sides), achieving an initial flight of around 150 m (just under 500 feet).

This is the furthest along one of these prototypes has come in the testing process. It’s designated Starship SN5, which is the fifth serialized test article. SpaceX actually built a first full-scale demonstration craft called the Starship Mk1 prior to switching to this new naming scheme, so that makes this the sixth one this size they’ve built — with the prior versions suffering failures at various points during preparations, including pressure testing and following a static engine test fire.

SN5 is now the first of these larger test vehicles to actually take off and fly. This prototype underwent a successful static test fire earlier this week, paving the way for this short flight test today. It’s equipped with just one Raptor engine, whereas the final Starship will have six Raptors on board for much greater thrust. It managed to fly and land upright, which means that by all external indications everything went to plan.

Starhopper previously completed a similar hop in August of 2019. SpaceX has an aggressive prototype development program to attempt to get Starship in working order, with the ambitious goal of flying payloads using the functional orbital vehicle as early as next year. Ultimately, Starship is designed to pair with a future Falcon Heavy booster to carry large payloads to orbit around Earth, as well as to the moon and eventually to Mars.

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launches successfully

UAE successfully launches Arab world’s first Mars mission – CNN

UAE successfully launches Arab world’s first Mars mission – YouTube

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launches successfully

The UAE successfully launches Mars probe, making history for the Arab world – CNBC

An Emirati walks past a screen displaying the “Hope” Mars probe at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai on July 19, 2020, ahead of it’s expected launch from Japan. The probe is one of three racing to the Red Planet, with Chinese and US rockets also taking advantage of the Earth and Mars being unusually close: a mere hop of 55 million kilometres (34 million miles).

GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP via Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The UAE has successfully launched its Mars probe, named Hope, making history as the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. 

“We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan,” the official account Hope Mars Mission tweeted early Monday morning. “The Hope Probe is the culmination of every single step that humans have taken throughout history to explore the unknown depths of space.”

Hope launched from the Japanese space center on Sunday, having been delayed from the previous week due to poor weather conditions. Within a few hours of liftoff, the ground segment at Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre established two-way communication with the probe. 

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover tweeted to the Hope mission: “Congratulations on your launch! I wish you a successful journey and look forward to the sol when we are both exploring Mars.”

The Hope probe, a $200 million project called “Al Amal” in Arabic, is scheduled to reach Mars’ orbit in February 2021 and will spend one Mars year — equivalent to 687 days on Earth — studying and gathering data on the red planet’s atmosphere. The year 2021 is also significant: it will mark 50 years of the UAE’s existence. 

“It is a weather satellite, and that’s one objective of the mission,” Sarah al-Amiri, the Mars mission’s lead scientist and UAE minister of state for advanced sciences told Spaceflight Now. “We also look at what role Mars’ weather plays in atmospheric loss. That’s the other part of the mission.”

The Emirates Mars Mission partnered with a team at the University of Colorado Boulder to build the spacecraft, drawing on expertise from the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. But the small Gulf country itself has spent years investing in space research and development, founding its own space agency in 2014 after launching satellites in 2009 and 2013 developed jointly with South Korean partners. 

The U.S. and China are also launching their own Mars missions — expected to reach the planet’s orbit around the same time as the Hope probe — this summer, because of a specific time window that occurs once every two years where Mars and Earth are closest together.

The UAE’s government has launched various campaigns to expand the country’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sector, and it views its growing space program as an important part of that. It’s also the first country in the world to have a minister of A.I., and is investing heavily in its own indigenous defense industry.  

Some 200 Emirati engineers and scientists spent six years working on the Arab world’s first spacecraft. NASA administrator Jim Bridestine tweeted: “Congrats to the team that worked on @HopeMarsMission. It’s truly amazing what @UAESpaceAgency & @MBRSpaceCentre have accomplished in such a short time.”

“The Emirates has successfully launched the first interplanetary mission in the Arab world, commencing a 493-million-kilometer (306-million-mile) journey to Mars,” Ahmad Al Falasi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency and minister of state for higher education, said in a statement. “This is a huge leap forward for the UAE’s ambitious space program. The Emirates Mars Mission is a catalyst that has already served to significantly accelerate the development of the UAE’s space, education, science and technologies sectors.”

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Rocket successfully

Rocket Lab successfully launches its 12th Electron, carrying NASA and NRO payloads – TechCrunch

Rocket Lab has returned to active launch status from its first launchpad in New Zealand, after the global COVID-19 pandemic temporarily paused its work there. Early this morning, it flew its 12th Electron launch vehicle from its launch site on NZ’s Mahia Peninsula, carrying payloads on behalf of the U.S. National Reconnaisance Office (NRO), NASA, and the University of New South Wales Canberra.

The launch occurred at 1:13 AM EDT (5:13 PM local time) and went off without a hitch. Rocket Lab later confirmed that payload deployment also went exactly to plan once the Electron reached its target orbit.

Rocket Lab has been gearing up for significant expansion of its launch capabilities, with a new launch site in the U.S. on Wallops Island in Virginia. The launch facility is now open, and its first mission had been scheduled to fly earlier this year, but that launch got pushed back in part because of delays resulting from NASA’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 with facility closures and a focus on essential missions.

New Zealand is now fully out of lockdown, however – the country’s fast action and relatively small, dispersed population allowed it to contain cases of COVID-19 fairly quickly, and reduce the infection rate to zero. That’s good news both for Rocket Lab’s existing operation, and for its ongoing work to establish a second launch site at its Mahia facility, which is well underway and could go into operation sometime later this year.

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