321 Launch: Space news you may have missed over the past week

·3 min read
Standing atop the mobile launcher, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is photographed at Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 18, 2022.
Standing atop the mobile launcher, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is photographed at Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 18, 2022.

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Welcome to 321 Launch, Florida Today's wrapup of all the space new you might have missed this past week.

Giant moon rocket to roll to the pad Tuesday night ahead of schedule

NASA teams at Kennedy Space Center have moved up rollout of the agency's Space Launch System rocket ahead of its premiere flight, a move that still sets the stage for launch later this month.

The 322-foot SLS rocket topped with an Orion capsule will roll from the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building to pad 39B no earlier than 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday, NASA said, giving teams slightly more schedule flexibility. Rollout had initially been planned for three days later on Friday.

If all goes according to plan, one of NASA's historic crawler-transporters will take SLS from the VAB to pad 39B at a constantly changing but maximum speed of 1 mph. Covering the roughly four miles takes upwards of 11 hours.

SLS and its Orion capsule are the vehicles designed by NASA to take astronauts back to the surface of the moon sometime this decade. The first flight set for 8:33 a.m. EDT August 29, known as Artemis I, will not include a crew as it autonomously travels to the moon and back. Artemis II will run the same mission, but with astronauts, in 2023 or 2024.

Robot dogs to patrol Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Yes, robot dogs are coming to the Space Coast.

Two "Quadropedal Unmanned Ground Vehicles," as manufacturer Ghost Robotics calls them, put on a demonstration of their capabilities at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station late last month.

Among the way the robots might be used at the Cape is for security patrols, responding to launch mishaps and augmenting the small team that ride out hurricanes at the installation.

SpaceX sends more Starlink internet satellites to orbit

Launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 10:14 p.m. Tuesday evening launching Starlink satellites. In the foreground is the booster from last Thursday's SpaceX KPLO mission, that returned to Port Canaveral on the drone ship, now suspended on the giant mobile harbor crane.
Launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 10:14 p.m. Tuesday evening launching Starlink satellites. In the foreground is the booster from last Thursday's SpaceX KPLO mission, that returned to Port Canaveral on the drone ship, now suspended on the giant mobile harbor crane.

SpaceX launched dozens more satellites for its orbital internet constellation late last Tuesday, securing the company's 55th Starlink mission since the first flights kicked off just a few years ago.

The 10:14 p.m. EDT liftoff from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, delayed by more than three hours due to strong upper-level winds, took 52 of the flat-packed satellites to low-Earth orbit 15 minutes later. In between, the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage booster successfully landed on a drone ship and marked the company's 135th recovery.

Tuesday's flight marked the third launch of August and 35th of the year for the Space Coast. It also means SpaceX has crossed the 3,000-satellite mark for Starlink, a constellation of internet satellites that still needs thousands more to provide even, worldwide coverage. The service costs between $110 and $500 a month depending on whether or not users opt for premium options.

Next launch: SpaceX targeting Friday for another Starlink launch

SpaceX is looking to launch another batch of Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Friday, though the company is yet to release details. Check FLORIDA TODAY's launch schedule for the latest updates.

A 25+ year veteran of FLORIDA TODAY, John McCarthy currently oversees the space team and special projects. Support quality local journalism by subscribing to FLORIDA TODAY. You can contact McCarthy at 321-752-5018 or jmccarthy@floridatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: 321 Launch: Space news you may have missed over the past week