Rivals SpaceX And Arianespace Both Launched Rockets Within 15 Minutes

A Soyuz rocket on the pad for a joint Roscosmos-Arianespace launch at Guiana Space Center in 2011. (Photo: Henri Griffit, AP)

Last night was a rocket launch double header, with multinational company Arianespace planning to launch an Ariane 5 rocket carrying four Galileo GPS satellites for European customers at 9:25PM AEDT and a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch carrying 10 Iridium satellites 15 minutes later at 7:39PM AEDT.

Per Space.com, the Arianespace launch was planned to take place near the Atlantic coast of South America at Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

SpaceX’s rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California following a successful test fire of the rocket last week, and landed on a drone ship titled “Just Read the Instructions” shortly after.

Before the launch Space.com noted that a second ship, Mr Steven, may be dispatched to capture the rocket’s fairing with an upgraded net after a yet another failed attempt in June. Mr Steven was indeed deployed, however was unable to capture the fairing.

SpaceX has been running a fairly fast-paced launch schedule, having launched a Telstar communications satellite on Sunday on a newer Falcon 9 iteration and scheduling another for August 2.

Arianespace’s expendable Ariane 5 ES rocket is significantly older, per Ars Technica, with the line dating to 1996 and scheduled for phasing out in 2022.

The still-in-development Ariane 6 will be intended to compete with SpaceX’s cheaper reusable launch systems, though it is likely that by the time it debuts the latter company will have significantly bypassed it on cost savings.

The recorded live streams for both launches are embedded below.

[Space.com via Ars Technica]

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