Dec 17, 18 / Cap 15, 02 17:24 UTC
General News: Dec 17 ¶
American aerospace manufacturer, Rocket Lab, launched 13 small satellites into orbit on Sunday morning during its first mission for NASA.
This marked Rocket Lab’s third launch in 2018, and the second one this December, according to CNBC. Sunday’s successful mission also comes just one month after the company completed its first commercial flight.
Rocket Lab’s electron booster launched at 1:33 a.m. ET Sunday morning from a launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula in its operation called Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 19 (ELaNA-19), as reported by Space.com.
The 13 small satellites will orbit at 500 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, where each satellite will be used to gather different data. For example, one of them will measure radiation levels in the Van Allen belts, while another will map out the terrain for a solar-sailing system for small spacecraft to explore deep space, according to Rocket Lab representatives who spoke to Space.com.
In other news, Australian astronaut Andy Thomas stated that Sir Richard Branson's effort to take passengers into orbit is dead-end and dangerous technology.
Dr. Thomas explained that he supported what Sir Richard was doing since he was "spinning off" the ability to launch satellites. But he was less pleased about the idea of taking tourists into orbit.
Dr. Thomas told reporters in Adelaide on Monday that it’'s true that he will fly to the edge of space, but he can't stay there. He falls right back down. It's just a high altitude aeroplane flight and a dangerous one at that.
He added that as a technology to get humans into space, it's a dead-end technology.
Lastly, the U.S. Air Force is finally ready to launch the first of a new generation of GPS satellites, after months of delays. The new satellites are built to be more accurate, secure, and adaptable.
However, some of their most extolled features will not be available entirely until 2022 or later due to issues in a companion program to develop a new ground control system for the satellites, government auditors said.
The satellite is slated to take off Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It's the first of 32 planned GPS III satellites that will replace older ones currently in orbit. Lockheed Martin is designing the new satellites outside Denver.
The Air Force estimates that 4 billion people around the world use GPS, which is most famous for its widespread civilian applications, including navigation and time-stamping bank transactions.
Do you agree with Dr. Thomas? Is Virgin Galactic's effort to bring humans into space dangerous and dead end? Why or why not?
Let's discuss in the comments below!