Delta IV launches from Cape Canaveral. NASA/ULA.
In one week, all the major space-faring nations managed to launch payloads into Earth orbit. It started off on March 25th with the United Launch Alliance (US) conducting the launch of a Delta IV rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 37B. On board was the GPS-IIF-9 navigational satellite. From that point, the blast-offs just kept on coming.
On Thursday, a Russian Dnepr rocket lifted off from Dombarovsky in South-west Russia near Kazakhstan. It carried a Kompsat-3A research satellite for the South Korean Research Institute. The Dnepr is a repurposed ICBM missile.
On Friday, Japan launched an H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center. It placed an information-gathering satellite into orbit.
On Friday night, Soyuz TMA-16M lifted off from the Baikonur astrodome with crewmembers for Expedition 43 on the International SPace Station. Inside the SOyuz capsule, the picture caught astronaut Scott Kelly giving a thumbs-up as the spacecraft heads towards a rendezvous. Six hours later the spacecraft arrived safely. Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will be staying on board the station for an entire year, studying the effects of long-duration spaceflight. The commander of the Soyuz mission was Gennady Pedalka, making a return to the space station. He will be the first commander of four separate crews on the ISS.
Also on Friday, European agency Arianespace conducted a launch from French Guiana, firing a Soyuz rocket carrying twin Galileo satellites as part of the GNSS Navigation System.
On Saturday, a launch occurred at India's Satish Dhawan Space Center in India. The satellite is another navigation link in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.
The next launch took place on Monday, when China launched a Long March 3C to place a first in a new series of navigational satellites in orbit.
Back to Russia. From the Plestsk space center, Russia launched 3 Gonets-M communication satellites into orbit on board a Rokot missile. It is speculated that a 4th satellite, a secret military craft, was launched from the same flight.
Space activities have been very busy lately!