SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket goes vertical on Wednesday morning in Florida.

Enlarge / SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket goes vertical on Wednesday morning in Florida. (credit: SpaceX)

This is an extraordinary week for orbital launches. On Monday, alone, a Soyuz rocket carried three humans into space, en route to the International Space Station. Then, a Falcon 9 rocket launched 64 smallsats into orbit about 500km above the planet.

On Tuesday, the flurry of activity continued when an Ariane 5 rocket lofted two large satellites to geostationary transfer orbit. This capped Arianespace’s launch program for the year.

The action continues on Wednesday, with the launch of another Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft into orbit, scheduled for 1:16pm ET (18:16pm UTC). This is an instantaneous launch window, and the mission will ferry 2.5 tons of supplies to the International Space Station, including materials to support 250 experiments on the orbiting laboratory.

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