DARPA wants to be able to launch anywhere, any time, and several times in a row. Is that too much to ask? Not for Vector Space, Virgin Orbit, and an unnamed startup that just qualified to take place in the agency’s Launch Challenge, which will push their responsive and mobile launch capabilities to the limit.
It’s finally launch day for the Falcon Heavy’s first mission, and SpaceX’s heavy-duty rocket platform is due to take off at 3:35 Pacific time. The launch will take a major communications satellite into orbit, and as an encore all three of the first stages will attempt to return to Earth and make soft landings. Success means the inauguration of a new era in spaceflight.