Last year was already an historic year for the scientists of NASA. From landing a space probe on a comet to using a 3D printer in space, NASA is making the case for even more exploration of the final frontier.
And now Reuters is reporting that 2015 is going to be an even busier year for the NASA launch site on Cape Canaveral. U.S. Air Force’s operations commander, Thomas Falzarano, says that we may see up to 24 rocket launches this year, making Cape Canaveral the busiest space port in the world. “The 2015 launch lineup would give the Cape Canaveral spaceport its busiest year since 1992,” says Falzarano.
But it’s not just NASA getting in on the launch party. Privately held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, is on schedule to launch fourteen rockets from the Cape, while ten launches would be for United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. Falzarano also added that the number of scheduled launches for 2016 will increase to 36! “Business is picking up,” he said.
The first launch of the year took place on Saturday, Jan. 10th when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off to send a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. The freighter arrived on the following Monday. Up to four more station supply runs for NASA are on SpaceX’s schedule, as well as several commercial communications satellite launches.
But the big test run for SpaceX will be when they test flight its 27-engine Falcon Heavy rocket, which will launch from a refurbished space shuttle launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX also is preparing for a Jan. 29 mission to put a U.S. space weather satellite into orbit for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Not to be outdone, the United Launch Alliance has eight space missions planned, using Atlas 5 rockets and two on Delta boosters. These missions are predominantly to put U.S. military satellites into orbit.
This is all very exciting news for anyone interested in aerospace engineering or just space in general. If this pace of rocket launches keeps up, NASA will keep up its promise to send astronauts to the planet Mars by 2035! It won’t too long now before our airports will be converted to space ports for commercial flights to space. These are very exciting and historic times that we are living in today.
photo credit: Reuters.net