American launch summer is in full swing as three rockets were scheduled to launch this week from three separate private space companies on opposite ends of the country.
Virgin Orbit, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX were are all planning to launch satellites during the second half of the week for customers ranging from the U.S. government to the small European country of Luxembourg.
Virgin Orbit had to stand down from its launch attempt from California Wednesday night, however, SpaceX successfully launched a communications satellite leaving one remaining liftoff for this week. ULA is targeting Thursday evening to launch the Atlas V from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Here's a look at the busy launch schedule this week.
SpaceX Falcon 9 launches SES satellite
First up was a communication satellite launch for the country of Luxembourg happening on Florida's Space Coast.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched at 5:04 p.m. ET with the SES 22 satellite from Cape Canaveral. The spacecraft will provide broadcast services for the U.S.
Rewatch the launch in the video player above.
Weather was favorable for launch, according to forecasters with the Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron.
Florida's summertime pattern of afternoon thunderstorms usually can't be ruled out along the coast in the afternoon. The primary weather concern for Wednesday was "extensive and sufficiently tall" cumulus clouds, according to the 45th Weather Squadron forecast.
The weather was not a problem for the on time liftoff.
About 8 minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 booster landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. According to SpaceX, this marked the second mission for this booster. Previously, the booster launched a batch of Starlink satellites in May.
Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl taking off from California
Unlike the vertical rockets that space fans might be used to seeing, Virgin Orbit uses a former jetliner named Cosmic Girl to carry its small class rocket LauncherOne to an altitude of about 37,000 feet before the rocket is dropped, and it ignites the engines.
Virgin Orbit is planning to launch seven small satellites as part of the U.S. Space Force's STP-S28A mission and the Department of Defense Space Test Program.
One of the payloads is a tiny satellite called NACHOS-2 for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The cubsat will help researchers detect, map, and quantify Earth’s trace gases, important for volcanology and climate change research.
The mission is called "Straight Up," inspired by Paula Abdul's 1988 hit released on Virgin Records.
The launch was scheduled to happen Wednesday night Pacific Time, but Virgin Orbit said it is delaying the launch for another day.
"We are standing down from today's launch attempt. Our systems are in great health, but our propellant temperature was slightly out of bounds, and out of extreme caution, we are scrubbed for the day. We’re proud of the team for running an extremely professional operation," a Virgin Orbit spokesperson said.
The company said it's working on another launch attempt in the coming days.
When it does launch, LauncherOne will release the payloads at more than 300 miles above Earth at a 45-degree inclination. The company says it is the first to achieve this specific trajectory and orbit from California.
Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne can take off from most airplane runways. Virgin Orbit is planning its first international launch later this year happening in Cornwall, marking the first launch from UK soil.
ULA Atlas V to launch Space Force satellites
The final launch of the week is happening back in Florida on Thursday evening.
A ULA Atlas V is poised to lift off between 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday carrying the U.S. Space Force mission USSF-12, which contains two satellite payloads.
The Atlas V will deliver both spacecraft to geosynchronous orbit about 22,000 miles above Earth. The satellites will reach their orbital outpost about 6 hours after leaving Earth.
Ahead of the launch, ULA teams rolled the rocket from the hangar to the launchpad on Wednesday. Fueling of the rocket's first stage also began as teams loaded 25,000 gallons of refined kerosene into the rocket.
Cumulus clouds will be the primary launch weather concern Wednesday evening, according to the 45th Weather Squadron forecast.
Launch forecasters are predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather for liftoff. If the launch is delayed to Thursday, the same weather concerns and favorability will continue through Friday night.
Launch managers gave the go ahead for Thursday's liftoff during a launch readiness review this week. ULA says it is targeting 6 p.m. at the beginning of the window for liftoff.
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