SpaceX, ULA Primed for Five Launches in June, CRS-22 Dragon Set to Fly Thursday

The CRS-21 Dragon approaches the space station for docking last December. Photo Credit: NASA

Favorable weather looks set to predominate for the first Space Coast launch of June, targeted for 1:29 p.m. EDT Thursday from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). A brand-new Falcon 9—the first time this year that SpaceX will launch a never-before-flown booster—is set to deliver its own brand of fire and thunder when it launches the CRS-22 Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It will kick of an action-packed month, which is expected to see three more Falcon 9s lift the powerful SXM-8 communications satellite for SiriusXM, the fifth Block III member of the Space Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Transporter-2 rideshare mission. And towards the end of June, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) venerable Atlas V will deliver the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mixed payload aloft.



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SpaceX Crew-3 Mission to Set Records for Youngest, Oldest Station Residents

Kayla Barron participates in Extravehicular Activity (EVA) training in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) in late 2018. Photo Credit: NASA

Monday’s announcement by NASA that “Artemis Team” member Kayla Barron will fill the fourth and final seat aboard the Crew-3 mission later this fall produces an unusual combination of records for the next U.S. piloted voyage to the International Space Station (ISS).



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ULA Kicks Off Busy Atlas V Manifest with SBIRS GEO-5 Launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V ‘421’ rocket lifts off with SBIRS GEO-5 for the U.S Space Force on May 18, 2021. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

Following a one-day scrub due to an “anomalous ground system data” response, United Launch Alliance (ULA) has successfully despatched its first Atlas V mission of 2021. Liftoff of the “Mighty Atlas”—flying in its “421” configuration, with a 13-foot-diameter (4-meter) payload fairing, two strap-on boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage—occurred at 1:37 p.m. EDT Tuesday from storied Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. The booster successfully lofted the fifth Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS GEO-5), which adds combat-readiness to a current four-satellite network of advanced missile early-warning sentinels at geostationary altitude.



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Watch LIVE: Atlas V to Launch Missile Defense 'SBIRS GEO 5' Mission from Cape Canaveral Today

ULA’s Atlas V in a ‘421’ configuration ready to launch the SBIRS GEO Flight 5 mission to orbit for the U.S. Space Force at 1:31m ET on May 18, 2021 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Photo: ULA

It has been a slow start this year for United Launch Alliance, but that’s about to change tomorrow, as they kick-off their first of 8 planned Atlas V launches this year with a mission to deliver the fifth geostationary-orbiting element of the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS GEO-5) into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.

Liftoff of the 194-foot tall rocket is targeted for 1:31 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, 18 May, and will mark the eighth flight of an Atlas V in a “421” configuration, equipped with a 13-foot-wide (4-meter) fairing, two strap-on solid-fueled boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. The mission will also mark the 91st national security launch for ULA, and their 87th Atlas V flight. Launch was set for 17 May but was scrubbed during Centaur liquid oxygen (LOX) chilldown operations when the launch team identified an anomalous system response that could not be resolved in time.



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One Year After Launching Bob & Doug, SpaceX Continues to Push Falcon 9 Reusability Records

Boasting a previously-flown core stage (B1058) and previously-flown payload fairing halves, Saturday evening’s launch continued to push SpaceX’s reusability credentials. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/AmericaSpace

SpaceX successfully flew its third Falcon 9 mission of May last night, as the Hawthorne, Calif.-headquartered organization aims for as many as 48 missions—an average of almost one per week—by year’s end. The veteran B1058 core, teamed with a sparkling-new upper stage, rose from historic Pad 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at 6:56 p.m. EDT Saturday. In doing so, the booster which first saw service last May to lift NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken towards the International Space Station (ISS) became only the third Falcon 9 since January to log an eighth mission.



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STPSat-6 Payload Arrives in Florida, Targets NET 23 June Atlas V Launch

The STPSat-6 payload, newly delivered to Florida for launch, will ride atop ULA’s most powerful Atlas V, the “551”. Photo Credit: John Studwell/AmericaSpace

As United Launch Alliance (ULA) gears up for Monday’s scheduled launch its first Atlas V mission of the year—whose Launch Readiness Review (LRR) concluded yesterday—another payload targeted to fly next month has safely arrived on the Space Coast. The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) delivered their STPSat-6 space vehicle to the Astrotech Space Operations (ASO) in Titusville, Fla., last week, where it is now deep into pre-launch processing. It forms part of the multi-faceted Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission, whose ambitious remit includes operational nuclear detection functionality and demonstrating new technologies ranging from space-domain awareness to weather and advanced laser communications.



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NASA's OSIRIS-REx Begins Long Journey Home with First-Ever Asteroid Sample from Bennu

Artist’s depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft departing the Asteroid Bennu and beginning its long voyage back to Earth. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) mission has completed its in-depth study of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, and has now begun its 2-year journey back to Earth after obtaining the first-ever sample from this primordial body in the Solar System. The return to Earth was the subject of a NASA broadcast yesterday, which was shown on NASA TV, the NASA app and on the NASA website. Don’t worry, if you missed it the first time, you can watch the replay!



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NASA, AxiomSpace Leaders Discuss Historic Ax-1 Space Station Mission

Dragon Resilience is pictured docked to the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this year, spectacularly backdropped by the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA and AxiomSpace have outlined plans for the first all-private crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), targeted to launch aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon no sooner than January 2022. NASA’s Phil McAlister, Angela Hart and Dana Weigel were joined for Monday’s media teleconference by AxiomSpace President and CEO Mike Suffredini, together with former shuttle astronaut, ISS commander and America’s most experienced spacewalker Mike Lopez-Alegria, who will command the historic Ax-1 mission.



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Historic Cape Launch Pad Observes 125th Launch With First 10x-Flown Falcon 9

B1051 spears skyward for the tenth time. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/AmericaSpace

SpaceX has achieved its long-sought-after goal of at least ten missions for a single Falcon 9 booster, following Sunday’s pre-dawn liftoff of the veteran B1051 core from storied Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. Launch occurred on time at 2:42 a.m. EDT and saw B1051 deliver the initial push uphill for another 60 Starlink satellites, bringing its personal tally of these low-orbiting internet providers to 417. Sunday’s flight also marked the 125th launch from SLC-40 since June 1965, a complex whose heritage extends back almost six decades across the Titan III and Titan IV rocket families.



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ULA Primed for 17 May Launch, First of Eight Atlas V Missions for 2021

Containing the SBIRS GEO-5 payload, the Extra-Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF) is readied for hoisting atop the Atlas V last week. Photo Credit: ULA

A busy plate of United Launch Alliance (ULA) missions for the remainder of 2021 continues to take shape, following Friday’s completion of stacking operations of a Mighty Atlas V booster at Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. The final topping-off of the rocket involved installation of the Extra-Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF), with launch targeted for 1:35 p.m. EDT on Monday, 17 May. The mission will deliver the fifth geostationary element of the U.S. Space Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS GEO-5) to orbit and marks the eighth flight of an Atlas V in its “421” configuration, equipped with a 13-foot-wide (4-meter) fairing, two strap-on solid-fueled boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.



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