Rocket Report: Starship pops on purpose, Delta IV Heavy ready to try again

Wide-angle view of a rocket liftoff from a grassy field.
Enlarge / Firefly tests the first stage of its Alpha rocket.

Welcome to Edition 3.17 of the Rocket Report! Weather and technical issues permitting, we’re looking at a busy weekend in Florida, with a Delta IV Heavy booster set for liftoff early on Saturday, followed by a Falcon 9 launch on Sunday morning. In the meantime, catch up on all the booster news below.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

New Shepard scrubs launch attempt. On Thursday, Blue Origin scrubbed the first launch attempt of its first New Shepard rocket since December 2019. The mission was due

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Watching This Falcon 9 Launch Is Like Riding a Rocket as You Would a Horse

Imagine Baron Munchausen riding a cannonball. Replace the cannonball with something that is longer, like say a rocket. Then scroll further down this page and watch the video you find there. This is exactly how one of the world’s biggest liars would have felt doing that.

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company in charge with dreaming about humanity’s future away from this planet, has gotten us used to incredible feats. First, there was the reusable rocket booster, which took off and then landed either on pads or on funky named drone ships in the middle of the Ocean.

Then, we had a red car sent to space, for future generations or alien civilizations to find and wonder “what the hell is it?” And, more recently, we started seeing space launches from entirely new angles.

The video below shows the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket during the late August SAOCOM 1B mission.

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SpaceX launches Earth-observation satellite for Argentina, nails rocket landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched an Earth-observation satellite for Argentina along with two small piggyback satellites today (Aug. 30). 



a body of water with smoke coming out of a lake: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM 1B Earth-observation radar satellite for Argentina and two small rideshare payloads launches into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 30, 2020.


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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM 1B Earth-observation radar satellite for Argentina and two small rideshare payloads launches into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 30, 2020.

The trio blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:18 p.m. EDT (2318 GMT). 

A used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried the SAOCOM-1B satellite aloft, marking the company’s 15th launch of 2020. Approximately nine minutes after liftoff, the booster’s first stage produced some dramatic sonic booms as it made its way back to terra firma, touching down at SpaceX’s Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral.   

Related: See the evolution of SpaceX’s rockets in pictures

Today’s flight was the fourth launch for this particular

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