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

·4 min read
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Thursday morning, August 4, 2022. The rocket is carrying a surveillancesatellite for the US Space Force. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Thursday morning, August 4, 2022. The rocket is carrying a surveillancesatellite for the US Space Force. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

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

Space Coast sees busiest launch day in more than half a century

Space Coast residents and visitors saw something Thursday hadn't happened in since 1966: Two launches in one day.

SpaceX's KPLO Falcon 9 mission lifted off at 7:08 p.m. EDT from Pad 40 less than thirteen hours after the sunrise launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from neighboring Pad 41 which occurred at 6:29 a.m. EDT.

The feat marks the quickest turnaround between orbital launches from the Space Coast since James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin's Gemini 12 mission lifted off on November 11, 1966, just 90 minutes after the launch of the Agena Target Vehicle they would later meet up with in orbit to practice rendezvous and docking with.

So far, between SpaceX, ULA, and Astra, the Space Coast has hosted 34 orbital rocket launches this year.

Artemis I to carry a plethora of goodies on its moon mission

NASA's Artemis I mission is an uncrewed test flight around the moon and back. It will carry hundreds of pounds of commemorative payload including Artemis I mission patches seen here.
NASA's Artemis I mission is an uncrewed test flight around the moon and back. It will carry hundreds of pounds of commemorative payload including Artemis I mission patches seen here.

The Orion capsule is designed to carry humans, but will have nobody aboard when it heads to moon later this month as part of the Artemis I mission. But that doesn't mean the capsule will be empty.

NASA has sent sentimental and culturally significant artifacts to space with its spacecraft since the Apollo era in the 1960s. More recently that has included microchips with millions of names that have made it to far-off destinations like Mars.

The Artemis generation's first moon mission will be no different outfitted with hundreds of items that make up the Artemis I Flight Kit. 

A few USB drives and microchips are safely tucked inside the Orion capsule and have been loaded with essays of contest winners, pledges from educators, art and videos from around the world. Also included in the data are the names of millions of people submitted by the public, as well as a list of the names of 30,000 employees who have worked on the Artemis I mission.

Artemis I launch-viewing ticket sales crash KSC visitor center website

Thousands hoping to secure tickets to see NASA's Artemis I moon rocket launch briefly crashed the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's website last week, but a quick fix helped sell out of the closest viewing packages in just a few hours.

Those looking for an up-close view of the first launch of the 322-foot Space Launch System rocket, slated to fly between Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, overwhelmed the site's capacity when tickets went on sale at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Two-and-a-half hours later, the Visitor Complex said the two most expensive packages – of three total – had sold out.

Visitor complex spokesperson Rebecca Burgman said those hoping to catch tickets aren't out of luck: viewing from the main campus is still available at $99.

"We have several launch viewing sites for this launch including enhanced main complex viewing areas," Burgman said. "We expect thousands of guests for this special launch."

Indialantic restaurateur catches ride to space with Blue Origin

The crew of Blue Origin's New Shepard Mission NS-22. Pictured from left to right: Sara Sabry, Steve Young, Coby Cotton, Vanessa O'Brien, Clint Kelly III, and Mário Ferreira.
The crew of Blue Origin's New Shepard Mission NS-22. Pictured from left to right: Sara Sabry, Steve Young, Coby Cotton, Vanessa O'Brien, Clint Kelly III, and Mário Ferreira.

For decades, nearly all astronauts have traveled to Cape Canaveral from points around the world, launched into space, and then returned home.

Count Steve Young as an exception. The Indialantic resident and Eau Gallie restaurateur has reversed that trend — he left his Space Coast home and traveled roughly 1,600 miles to Texas to fly aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket on Thursday morning.

During a post-flight press conference, Young became emotional while trying to describe  seeing the blue line of Earth's mesosphere and the black line of space outside the capsule windows.

“I’m thankful that I got to experience that. I had, obviously, a very emotional touch from it. And I’m going to leave it at that," Young said, holding a microphone and fighting back tears.

"But, thank you. Thank you for giving me this," he said, patting his chest.

Next Launch: SpaceX Starlink mission

SpaceX is planning to launch another batch of satellites tonight.

Weather around pad 39A, the Space Force said, will be around 70% “go” for the SpaceX rocket’s Tuesday evening liftoff. Teams have a window that runs from 6:49 p.m. to 10:49 p.m. EDT.

“Primary launch day conditions are favorable for launch, although occasional Atlantic showers cannot be ruled out,” Space Launch Delta 45 forecasters said Sunday.

Check back at floridatoday.com/space for the latest launch 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