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Mission launched into magnetosphere

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Per-Arne Lindqvist captured this photo of the Atlas V 421 rocket lifting off last night at Cape Canaveral. (Photo: Per-Arne Lindqvist)

Just a few hours before last night’s Magnetospheric Multiscale launch at Cape Canaveral, Per-Arne Lindqvist reported: “Keeping all fingers crossed.”

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Done! Göran Marklund, left, and Per-Arne Lindqvist celebrate after the successful launch of the MMS mission last night at Cape Canaveral.

Lindqvist, a space and plasma physics research scientist at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and his colleague, Professor Göran Marklund, were on their way to a reception for MMS mission scientists, engineers and managers, and their families, after which all 1,600 people would proceed to outdoor bleachers to witness scientific history being made.Göran Marklund, left, and Per-Arne Lindqvist celebrate after the successful launch of the MMS mission last night at Cape Canaveral.

Seated about 9km from the launch pad, the audience was too far away to experience the kind of explosive roar Lindqvist recalls from witnessing the Cluster mission launch from a distance of 2km at the Bakinour Cosmodrome in 2000. But this being a night launch, yesterday’s audience got a different kind of treat.

“We could see the rocket engine for much longer, actually all through the burn of the first stage and until the second stage took over,” Lindqvist says. “It was a spectacular sight against the night sky. It was quite bright.”

The audience also got to hear the launch communications over the loudspeakers. “It was quite impressive to hear 1,600 people joining in on the countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7 …”, he says.

“All is well, up to and including the separations, so that all 4 spacecraft are now in the correct orbit around Earth,” he says. “Now those of us who are involved in the project will start working with all the planned tasks, like switching on all instruments over the next few months.”

David Callahan

Raw video captures the excitement of last night’s launch of the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission at Cape Canaveral. It was shot with a phone camera by KTH space and plasma physics research scientist Per-Arne Lindqvist, a member of the KTH team that designed the mission’s electric field measuring instruments.

 

David Callahan
David Callahan is editor for international news and media at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.