New Delhi, Aug 4: Four different space companies — Rocket Lab, ULA, Blue Origin and SpaceX — are all set to launch their rocket missions on Thursday.
After facing a delay on its second satellite launch due to software updates, American firm Rocket Lab on Thursday successfully launched the NROL-199 spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which operates the nation’s fleet of spy satellites.
“Successful launch!” the NRO wrote on Twitter.
The NROL-199 called “Antipodean Adventure” mission launched on the Electron rocket from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 at 1 a.m. EDT (10.30 a.m. IST) on Thursday from New Zealand.
It carries a payload designed, built, and operated by the NRO in partnership with the Australian Department of Defence.
This mission follows the successful delivery to orbit of its predecessor NROL-162 on July 13. The satellites will support the NRO to provide critical information to government agencies and decision makers monitoring international issues.
Following five successful tourist flights to space, Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin is aiming to launch its sixth mission on Thursday. The sixth flight to space will lift off at 8:30 a.m. CDT (7:00 pm IST) from Launch Site One in West Texas, US.
The NS-22 mission crew will include Dude Perfect cofounder Coby Cotton, Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira, British-American mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien, technology leader Clint Kelly III, Egyptian engineer Sara Sabry, and telecommunications executive Steve Young.
Sara will become the first person from Egypt to fly to space; Mario will become the first from Portugal. Vanessa will become the first woman to reach extremes on land, sea, and air, completing the Explorers’ Extreme Trifecta, a Guinness World Record.
Next is United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 421 rocket that will launch the sixth and final Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO 6) spacecraft for the US Space Force.
It is expected to launch at 6.29 a.m. EDT (3.59 p.m. IST) on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The SBIRS GEO 6 is equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors. These infrared sensors will help the US military to detect missile launches and support ballistic missile defence.
SpaceX is also targeting Thursday to launch South Korea’s first lunar orbiter mission. The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) — also known as Danuri — was initially set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, on Tuesday.
It was postponed due to additional maintenance of the SpaceX rocket. The new launch of the 678-kg Danuri will now take place at 7.08 p.m. ET (4.38 a.m. IST Friday).
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute plans for the orbiter to reach and start circling the moon in December for a yearlong observation mission.