ABL Space Systems, a startup building low-cost launch vehicles for small satellites, announced that it raised over $90 million and plans to launch its first orbital mission by the first quarter of next year.

The El Segundo-based company secured $44.5 million in Air Force contracts and another $49 million in private funds led by Ethan Batraski at Venrock with participation from New Science Ventures, Lynett Capital, and Lockheed Martin Ventures.

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Virgin Galactic has taken the wraps off a concept for an airplane capable of flying three times the speed of sound, to be developed with support from Boeing and Rolls-Royce.

The project would be distinct from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo suborbital space plane program, which is closing in on the start of commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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With the fiery flash of a rocket launch, NASA's Perseverance rover headed out today for what's expected to be a decade-long campaign to store up and bring back Martian samples that may hold evidence of alien life.

United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:50 a.m. ET (4:50 a.m. PT), sending the rover into space for a seven-month cruise to Mars.

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