The Best Rocket Launches

Rocket Launch: TBA | ULA Atlas V Boeing CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2 (UNCREWED)

GOAL


Under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test (OFT) will certainly introduce the spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SLC-41. This is the 2nd UNCREWED launch of Boeing’s Starliner, leading the way towards releasing astronauts to the International Space Station.

LAUNCH WATCHING

Check back quickly for information relating to feasible future launch checking out chances.

U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction 

Veteran astronauts Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Pamela A. Melroy, as well as Scott Kelly will certainly get among their sector's greatest honors. They will certainly be sworn in right into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame® as the conscripts of the 2020* course as well as sign up with the 99 people that presently hold that renowned honor.

The induction event will certainly happen under flooring of Space Shuttle Atlantis to recognize these heroes. Inductees should have made their initial trip a minimum of 17 years prior to the induction, need to be a U.S. person, a NASA-trained leader, pilot, or goal professional, as well as have actually orbited the Earth a minimum of when.

As the day of the event comes more detailed, even more information will certainly be readily available for this prominent occasion.

*Astronauts Lopez-Alegria, Melroy, as well as Kelly were picked as conscripts in 2020. However, their induction event has actually been held off till November 2021 to permit us to recognize their success with loved ones securely. For this factor, there will certainly not be a 2021 course of conscripts.

While at the site visitor facility, make sure to check out the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame situated inside Heroes & Legends. There, you will certainly learn more about every one of the astronauts that come from this prominent team via interactive stands.

Originally developed as a location to recognize room travelers by the Mercury 7 astronauts, the U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame opened up in 1991, with the astronauts commemorated as the initial conscripts. A board of Hall of Fame astronauts, previous NASA authorities, trip supervisors, chroniclers as well as reporters select inductees, a process administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Rocket Launch: NET October 16, 2021 TBA | ULA Atlas V Lucy Mission

MISSION


For the first time, NASA will be exploring the Trojan asteroids. These asteroids orbit the Sun in two groups along Jupiter’s orbit path as well as are the leftover building blocks of our solar system’s outer planets. Studying these asteroids will provide a unique look into the planetary origins of our solar system. Lucy will launch from Cape Canaveral as well as uses boosts from Earth’s gravity to undergo a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids. This path will include a Main Belt asteroid as well as seven Trojan asteroids. No other mission in history has been launched to as many different destination's independent orbits around our sub. Learn more about the Lucy Mission on the NASA website.

LAUNCH VIEWING

Launch viewing opportunities may be offered from the main visitor complex. If the launch date as well as time are within the visitor complex’s operating hours, guests may be able to view the launch from the main visitor complex with an admission ticket. The admission ticket is not a launch viewing ticket. It is date-specific as well as is not transferrable between dates. Launch date, time, and viewing opportunities are subject to change. Launches can be affected by technical and mechanical issues as well as range operations and weather, either in advance or at the last minute.

As part of our commitment to creating a Trusted Space for our guests and employees, measures and procedures are in place including limiting attendance, requiring face coverings, accommodating social distancing and increasing the frequency of sanitization. Learn more about the visitor complex's commitment to creating a trusted space for you and your crew.

Rocket Launch: INTERNET October 31, 2021, TBA | SpaceX Falcon 9 Crew-3

GOAL


Astronauts are launching once again! NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission will launch four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS): NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. This launch will be the third crew rotation mission to the ISS as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

LAUNCH VIEWING


Currently, no launch viewing packages are available for this launch. Those who wish to view this launch from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can anticipate that viewing packages will include admission and access to exclusive viewing locations. Check back as launch dates and times are confirmed and launch viewing opportunities from the visitor complex.

This Month in Space: December

The stars are aligning — okay, actually two planets — and space exploration is capping off 2020 with amazing planetary discoveries and important announcements about the future of commercial crewed missions. Here’s what happened in December as we connect our quest for exploration and discovery with the scientific phenomena of the great unknown.

Boeing reveals mission patch for second Starliner flight test

Ahead of Boeing’s targeted March 29, 2021 launch of the Starliner spacecraft, the flight company has released its mission patch dedicated to the hands-on approach the team is taking to make the launch a success.

The patch is similar to the other Starliner test flight patches, and features a thumbprint pattern in recognition of the unique and diverse team members working on the Starliner’s next test. The fingerprint overlays an image of the Earth.

Boeing’s director for Starliner Crew and Mission Operations, Chris Ferguson, said, “This mission is personal to [the team] and to our company. We wanted this patch to reflect that.”

The Starliner spacecraft is currently nearing final assembly inside the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. This test flight aims to ensure that the software aboard the flight is working properly. It will launch from Kennedy Space Center and then dock with the International Space Station, then return to Earth a week later to confirm that the spacecraft is safe for a crewed mission.

Astronauts announced for third SpaceX crewed mission

Three astronauts for the next SpaceX commercial crew mission to the International Space Station were announced on Dec. 14 by NASA and the European Space Agency.

These three crew members include NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, as well as ESA astronaut Mattias Maurer. The mission is set to launch in the fall of 2021.

Chari will serve as the commander of the mission, and will be making his first spaceflight. He is also part of the team of Artemis astronauts announced on Dec. 9, who are eligible for future Artemis lunar missions. Marshburn, who has been with the space agency since 2004, has flown on the space shuttle in 2009, and spent five months on the ISS in 2012 and 2013. Maurer will be making his first space flight, and joined the ESA in 2015.

A fourth crew member will be added at a later date for the Crew Dragon mission.

Scientists think they have detected radio signals from an alien world

For the very first time, scientists may have detected radio emissions from a planet orbiting a star beyond the Sun.

The researchers used a radio telescope in the Netherlands to study three different stars that they already knew hosted exoplanets. One star, called Tau Bootes, contains at least one exoplanet. They compared their findings to what they’ve seen on Jupiter. The hope is that this research will certainly shine some light on the magnetic fields of exoplanets.

The interest of the magnetic fields can tell us about qualities of a world, like its structure and history. Earth’s magnetic fields protect our atmosphere and influence conditions on our planet.

Lead researcher on the project, Jake Turner, called for additional observations of the Tau Bootes system, which is about 51 light years away from Earth in the constellation Bootes. It’s still unclear as to whether the emissions are actually coming from the exoplanet, or from a nearby star.

Jupiter and Saturn converge in a “Christmas Star” this month

The 2 largest planets in our solar system were closer than they’ve been since the Middle Ages.

The convergence is being called the “Christmas Star” because it happened so close to Christmas, but it’s not actually a star. It took place on Dec. 21, the winter solstice, which is also purely coincidental, according to NASA.

“You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky,” said astronomer Patrick Hartigan, a professor of physics as well as astronomy at Rice University.

The earths got even closer until Dec. 25, Christmas Day. The conjunction can be seen low in the western sky for about an hour after sunset each evening.

SpaceX Rocket Rideshare

In August 2019, SpaceX announced a “rideshare” program — an opportunity for small satellite operators to share space on a Falcon 9 rocket and send their payloads into orbit.

Since then, SpaceX has shared rocket space on several Starlink launches with companies like Spaceflight, Inc., and more than 100 spacecraft have signed up to fly on Falcon 9 since the program launched.

A much more affordable option than developing their own spacecraft to launch their satellites, smaller operators can now afford to send their satellites into space without spending a mint to do so.

So, how does it work? The process is very similar to how rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft also work. SpaceX launches their Falcon 9 rockets on a regular schedule, approximately every four months. Customers who want to “share the ride” can book their space in advance — between six and 12 months before the scheduled launch — to make sure their payloads are ready well before the launch date. Whether the payloads are ready or not, the Falcon 9 still goes up.

SpaceX has adjusted its pricing as companies have requested smaller payloads. For a 220 kilogram launch, the price is a million bucks, with a $5,000 per kilogram fee tacked on for additional weight. It sounds like a lot, but consider that the lowest cost for a SpaceX launch is about $57 million.

Besides the cost of the rideshare, customers also have to provide a “deployer,” which launches the payload from the rocket into orbit, as well as a 10 percent rebooking fee if they have to cancel their launch close to the take-off date.

If the delay is due to weather or if SpaceX is responsible for the delay, 100 percent of the monies paid go to the cost of rebooking on a subsequent mission. It’s this flexibility that allows SpaceX to reach as many companies as possible and make the most of this creative revenue stream.

If you really want to geek out and learn more about the criteria for SpaceX’s rideshare program, check out the 80-page User’s Guide available on SpaceX.com. It outlines requirements for mass and other dimensions, as well as separation rates and velocity, electromagnetic vibration and emissions, internal pressure factors and temperature exposure.

So you think you want to rideshare on a rocket? Easy peasy. Just fill out a reservation request, and once approved, SpaceX will certainly give a welcome package outlining the next steps to help you get ready to introduce.

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