"Falcon 9 first stage test firing" by SpaceX is licensed under CC0

A hectic week of orbital flights continues with a SpaceX launch Wednesday

Dec 5, 2018

By Eric Berger

This is an extraordinary week for orbital launches. On Monday, alone, a Soyuz rocket carried three humans into space, en route to the International Space Station. Then, a Falcon 9 rocket launched 64 smallsats into orbit about 500km above the planet.

On Tuesday, the flurry of activity continued when an Ariane 5 rocket lofted two large satellites to geostationary transfer orbit. This capped Arianespace’s launch program for the year.

The action continues on Wednesday, with the launch of another Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft into orbit, scheduled for 1:16pm ET (18:16pm UTC). This is an instantaneous launch window, and the mission will ferry 2.5 tons of supplies to the International Space Station, including materials to support 250 experiments on the orbiting laboratory.

But wait, there’s more. On Friday, two separate Chinese rockets will launch, including one carrying the Chang’e 4 mission, which will attempt to make the first ever successful landing on the far side of the Moon later this month. China has led the way this year among nations in terms of launch, with a total of 34 orbital flights so far.

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