Long March 4C rocket blasts off from Jiuquan, China.
The last couple of weeks have seen the usual flurry of rocket launches from around the world. These satellite launches rarely make TV coverage, but are an important sign of the strength of space programs around the world. They demonstrate how reliant we are upon the space technology that lies behind our way of life in the 21st century.
Launch of a Long March rocket from Jiuquan.
Yesterday China launched a Long MArch 4C rocket from its Jiuquan Satellite launch center. Three satellites, expected to be secret spy satellites, were placed into orbit. The Jiquan Center is the same facility from where the Chinese Manned Missions take place. NASA Spaceflight.com has a great article on this launch at : http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/09/long-march-4c-launches-yg17-mission/
Russian Zenit S2B rocket. Credit: Ria Novosti.
On Sunday September 1st, the Russian Zenit rocket returned to duty, placing an Israeli communications satellite into space. This rocket is the land-based version of the Zenit Sea-launched version. The last Zenit launch from its sea-based space center failed, destroying an Intelsat satellite. This launch took place from Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
The heavy-lift Ariane 5 blasts off. Credit: Ariannespace.
Last Thursday the European Space Agency launched an Ariane 5 heavy lift rocket from its space center in French Guiana on the coast of South America. The two satellites were successfully placed into orbit. One was a European communications satellite, the other a military satellite for India.
The powerful Delta-4 rocket on the pad at Vandenberg AFB, California.
Credit: ULA & Spaceflight Now.
Last Wednesday morning saw the launch of the Delta-4 rocket under the direction of the United Launch Alliance. Launch site was the Vandenberg Air Force Base pad in California. The mission placed a National Reconnaissance spy satellite into space.
Japanese Epsilon rocket on the pad at Uchinoura facility. Credit: JAXA.
Things didn't work out very well for the expected launch of the Japanese Epsilon rocket on August 27. The Epsilon is a new rocket, expected to place the SPRINT-A satellite into orbit. The SPRINT-A is an observatory which will study the planets in our solar system. An unexpected malfunction caused the countdown to terminate with 19 seconds left. Engineers are working on the problem. Keep an eye on Space.Com for updates: http://www.space.com/22540-japan-aborts-epsilon-rocket-launch.html