Monday, April 9, 2012

A Plethora of Rocket Launches

Delta IV launch from Vandenberg AFB.

Did I say "Plethora?" Yes, I did. While we go about our busy lives working, going to school, etc., the spacefaring countries continue to launch rocket after rocket. I love it. Just in the last week, the USA, China and Russia each launched a satellite into space, adding to the vast population of robotic servants in orbit of the Earth. I mostly focus on events dealing with human space exploration, but I do enjoy learning about the world's rocket market. Last week, The Airforce had a Delta IV launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, lofting a classified satellite for the NAtional Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Most likely a spy satellite.

Long March 3b. Credit: China Great Wall Industry Corporation. Or if you really want to be precise, Thank you America for the technological advances.

On Saturday March 31, China used a Long March 3b rocket to orbit a commercial communications satellite called Apstar 7. This television and Internet satellite will serve customers in the African and Pacific areas.

Proton-K/DM-2 rocket.

On Friday MArch 30, Russia launched a Proton-K/DM-2 rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome. The payload was a military Early Warning satellite designed to alert Russia if anyone launches military missiles against them. An interesting point about the rocket: It is the last of the Proton-K types to be used. The new version designated Proton-M has been in use since 2001.

Happy to see so many successful rocket launches. Russia had an unfortunate series of rocket failures lately, so it seems all went well in March.

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