NASA launches Lucy, William Shatner flies to space, & more Top stories

A big week for spaceflight, NASA’s Lucy mission launched, the first to travel to the Trojan asteroids, William Shatner launched to space and more!

NASA’s Lucy mission

Early Saturday morning, ULA launched the Lucy Spacecraft for NASA. The mission will see the spacecraft travel to the Trojan asteroids and fly by multiple different asteroids. The first fly-by in the 12-year mission is set to take place in April of 2025, as the spacecraft flies by the main-belt asteroid Dolaldjohanson.

The launch of Lucy went well, with the Atlas V 401 taking flight from Space Launch Complex 41 as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m. EST. The following day, however, an issue appeared with the spacecraft. While the solar arrays deployed and are producing power, one of them was not locked in place. NASA’s teams are looking into the problem to determine how to address the issue and how the unlocked solar panel may impact the mission.

William Shatner flies to space with Blue Origin

On October 13, William Shatner flew on NS-18 to just beyond the edge of space. Alongside Shatner, Blue Origin’s Vice President for mission and flight operations Audrey Power flew, as well as two paying customers, Glen de Vries, and Chris Boshuizen. At 90 years old, Shatner is the oldest person to go to space, taking that slot away from Wally Funk.

After some delays in the countdown, New Shepard successfully launched the capsule beyond the Karman line, before it descended under parachute back down to Earth.

China launches crew to the Tiangong space station

On Friday, China launched the second crew to visit the Tiangong space station. The first crew was only there for a short duration, but this crew will stay for about six months, will all future missions planned to be this longer duration. The Tiangong space station is still early in its development, and it will be expanded with new modules, eventually offering support for crew or multiple launches aboard the station at a time.

The first sign of a possible crewed launch came when the Long March 2F rocket rolled out to the launch pad earlier this week.

James Webb Space Telescope arrives in French Guiana

The James Webb Space Telescope arrived in French Guiana ahead of its December launch. The telescope is now safely in the processing facility following its journey by ship.

The name of the telescope continues to receive backlash. It is named after the NASA Administrator who served during interrogations and firings of LGBTQ+ employees at the agency. NASA investigated but opted to keep the findings secret. The top questions for an upcoming town hall are all about why NASA decided not to rename the telescope.

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