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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab launches 10 imaging smallsats
« Odpowiedź #15 dnia: Październik 31, 2020, 14:27 »
Rocket Lab launches 10 imaging smallsats
by Jeff Foust — October 29, 2020 [SN]


A Rocket Lab Electron rocket lifts off from the company's Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand Oct. 28. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — A Rocket Lab Electron rocket successfully placed 10 satellites into orbit for two customers who lost payloads on a launch failure earlier this year.

The Electron rocket lifted off from the company’s launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 5:21 p.m. Eastern Oct. 28. The rocket’s kick stage deployed its payload of 10 satellites into a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit about an hour later.

The primary payload on the launch, called “In Focus” by Rocket Lab, was a set of nine SuperDove cubesats for Planet, augmenting that company’s constellation of imaging satellites. The other payload was CE-SAT-2B, an imaging microsatellite developed by Canon Electronics as a technology demonstration for future satellites and whose flight was arranged by launch services company Spaceflight.

Both Planet and Canon had payloads on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch failure in July, which also carried a satellite for British company In-Space Missions. Rocket Lab blamed that failure on an “anomalous electrical connection” in the rocket’s upper stage that had slipped through quality control checks, and the company returned the Electron to flight Aug. 30 with the launch of a synthetic aperture radar satellite for Capella Space.

“Electron has once again delivered a smooth ride to orbit and precise deployment for our individual rideshare customers,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in a statement after the launch.

The launch was the 15th flight of the Electron. Rocket Lab said in its statement that the next Electron launch will take place “in the coming weeks” from New Zealand. The company also has an Electron waiting for launch at its new Launch Complex 2 on Wallops Island, Virginia, but has not disclosed a date for that launch.

The launch, like others by the U.S.-headquartered Rocket Lab, was licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. During an Oct. 27 panel discussion at the American Astronautical Society’s Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium, Wayne Monteith, associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the FAA, noted that the Rocket Lab launch would set a record for the most FAA-licensed launches in a month at six. The other launches in October include three SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, a Northrop Grumman Antares launch and a suborbital launch by Blue Origin’s New Shepard.

The previous record of five licensed launches in a month was set just two months earlier. August also saw three Falcon 9 launches and an Electron launch, along with a “hop” test of a SpaceX Starship prototype performed under an FAA license.

Both records are signs of surging commercial launch activity, Monteith argued. “We have already in the FAA licensed more launches in this fiscal year than we did in fiscal year ’09, ’10, ’11 or ’12,” he said. The current fiscal year started Oct. 1.


Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-launches-10-imaging-smallsats/

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Odp: [SN] First Rocket Lab U.S. launch delayed to 2021
« Odpowiedź #16 dnia: Listopad 16, 2020, 03:25 »
First Rocket Lab U.S. launch delayed to 2021
by Jeff Foust — November 14, 2020 [SN]


A Rocket Lab Electron during tests earlier this year at its LC-2 launch site at Wallops Island, Virginia. The rocket's first launch is now scheduled for no earlier than the first half of 2021. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — The first launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from a site in the United States won’t take place until 2021 because of problems with the flight termination system NASA requires the rocket to use.

Rocket Lab had planned to conduct the first launch from its Launch Complex (LC) 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia, this year. The company completed the launch site in December 2019, stating at the time it anticipated performing the first launch there, of a U.S. military Space Test Program mission called STP-27RM, in the second quarter of 2020.

Preparations for that launch were slowed by the pandemic, but Rocket Lab said in the spring it anticipated a launch in the fall. The company performed a dress rehearsal of the launch in the spring, including a static-fire test of the rocket’s nine first-stage engines.

One reason for the delay, Rocket Lab said, was that it was waiting on NASA to certify the autonomous flight termination system (AFTS) that will be used on the rocket to provide range safety. NASA controls the launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility, where LC-2 is located. “There’s a very long certification process that, quite frankly, we probably underestimated how long it would take,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in an interview in August.

That certification process is ongoing. In a Nov. 10 talk at a Maryland Space Business Roundtable webinar, David Pierce, director of NASA Wallops, mentioned preparations for Rocket Lab’s first launch as part of an overview of the facility’s activities. “We’re really proud of our work with Rocket Lab,” he said. “We’re working really hard to support Rocket Lab with a launch in ’21.”

Asked later about the certification of the AFTS, Pierce said that engineers had kept on schedule with the development of the system into the summer despite the pandemic. “When they sent the unit out for review of the software, we found some errors,” he said. That review involved teams at NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, the Federal Aviation Administration, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Engineers are now working to address those problems, the number or severity of which he didn’t elaborate on. “We expect that, under the current rate in which we’re developing and correcting the code errors, we should be ready to certify that unit in the first half of ’21,” he said.

That unit, he added, will also be available to other companies launching from Wallops. “We’re in this for the long haul,” he said. “We recognize it’s a game-changing technology, so we want to do it and release it to private industry as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Rocket Lab spokesperson Morgan Bailey confirmed Nov. 12 that completion of the AFTS is the final step before the company will be ready to launch from Wallops. “The launch vehicle and pad are ready for launch,” she said. “The final step is NASA certification of their AFTS and the timing for completion of that is being driven by NASA.”

Rocket Lab’s upcoming milestone is the company’s first attempt to recover the first stage of Electron after launch. That mission, called “Return to Sender,” is now scheduled for launch no earlier than Nov. 18 from the company’s LC-1 launch site in New Zealand.

The company plans to conduct recovery efforts, as part of its plans to reuse the Electron first stage, only at its New Zealand launch site initially. However, Beck said the company envisions eventually recovering first stages during launches from LC-2 as well.

“The plan is to work through all the initial recovery development down at LC-1 because it’s just a much easier range,” he said. “But once we get it all sorted, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t bring it to LC-2 as well.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/first-rocket-lab-u-s-launch-delayed-to-2021/

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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab launches Electron in test of booster recovery
« Odpowiedź #17 dnia: Listopad 20, 2020, 12:16 »
Rocket Lab launches Electron in test of booster recovery
by Jeff Foust — November 19, 2020 [SN]


A Rocket Lab Electron lifts off Nov. 19 on the company's "Return to Sender" mission, the first attempt by the company to recover the rocket's first stage. Credit: Rocket Lab webcast

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab launched its Electron rocket Nov. 19, placing nearly 30 smallsats in orbit while making its first attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage.

The Electron lifted off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, at 9:20 p.m. Eastern on a mission called “Return to Sender” by the company. The rocket’s kick stage deployed its payload of 29 smallsats into a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit about an hour after liftoff.

Of greater interest to many, though, in the effort by Rocket Lab to recover the rocket’s first stage. The company announced Nov. 5 it would attempt to reenter the stage, deploy a drogue and main parachute, and then splash the stage down in the Pacific Ocean about 400 kilometers downrange from the launch site.

“This is an all-up combined test, a conclusion of a number of tests that we’ve been doing,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said at a briefing to announce the recovery of the stage.

Initial indications were that the recovery demonstration went as expected, with the stage surviving reentry and deploying the drogue and main parachutes, Rocket Lab announced. It was not immediately clear what condition the stage was in after splashdown, though.

Rocket Lab announced last year that it would attempt to recover and reuse the first stage. Beck had originally dismissed any attempt to recover the stage because of its small size, but became convinced that it would be possible if the stage could survive going through what he dubbed “the wall” of reentry, slowing down the stage enough that parachutes could then deploy for the remaining phase of the descent.

The company tested various aspects of the recovery system separately, including guiding two stages through reentry and conducting tests of parachute deployment. This flight, though, was the first attempt to put the components together, allowing the stage to splash down at a speed of about 10 meters per second.

“A lot of it comes down to just the mass and size constraints we’re dealing with,” said Matt Darley, recovery systems manager at Rocket Lab, during a company webcast of the launch. Fitting the parachutes, reaction control system and other equipment needed for recovery in the limited volume available within the first stage “was probably our biggest challenge.”

Rocket Lab will use a ship to pull the stage out of the water and return it to land, where it will be studied back at the company’s factory. Beck said they did not attempt to perform a mid-air recovery of the first stage using a helicopter — something the company has demonstrated in drop tests earlier this year — because they didn’t know what condition the stage would be in.

The company pursued recovery and reuse of the first stage to enable it to increase its flight rate without having to scale up its factory. “Even if we get to use the stage just another single time, it has the effect of effectively doubling production,” Beck said earlier this month. “Even one reuse is a really huge advantage.”

The recovery effort overshadowed the launch itself, the 16th of the Electron rocket. It placed into orbit 24 Spacebee satellites, each 0.25U in size, by Swarm Technologies. The satellites are part of a constellation of ultimately 150 satellites that will provide internet of things services.

The Electron also carried two satellites for Unseenlabs, a French company developing a constellation to provide radiofrequency tracking of ships. The DRAGRACER mission by TriSept deployed two smallsats, one equipped with a tether to test a technology that could shorten its deorbiting time from several years to as little as 45 days. The APSS-1 cubesat built by students at the University of Auckland in New Zealand will study the Earth’s ionosphere.

Besides the 29 smallsats, the Electron carried an additional payload: a 3D-printed titanium mass simulator 15 centimeters tall in the form of a gnome, dubbed “Gnome Chompski” after a character in the “Half-Life” series of video games. The gnome, which will remain attached to the rocket’s kick stage, was funded by Gabe Newell, founder of video game company Valve Software.


Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-launches-electron-in-test-of-booster-recovery/

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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab declares success in Electron rocket recovery
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Grudzień 15, 2020, 20:26 »
Rocket Lab declares success in Electron rocket recovery
by Jeff Foust — November 24, 2020


The Electron first stage from Rocket Lab's latest launch being hauled onto a recovery ship after a reentry and splahsdown that the company said was a "complete success." Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab says its attempt to recover the first stage from its latest Electron launch was a “complete success,” but that the company still has work to do before it’s ready to attempt to reuse the stage.

On Rocket Lab’s latest launch Nov. 19, the rocket’s first stage made a controlled reentry after stage separation, then released a drogue and a main parachute before splashing down about 400 kilometers downrange from its New Zealand launch site, where it was recovered by a boat.

The recovery itself went as planned. “The test was a complete success,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in a call with reporters Nov. 23. “The stage splashed down completely intact. What it proved to us is that this is a feasible approach, and we’re really confident that we can make Electron a reusable launch vehicle from here.”

The various steps in that reentry process went as expected, with the stage splashing down at the targeted location and at a speed of nine meters per second. The biggest problem, he said, were rough seas that created a “pretty tough recovery operation” of the stage after splashdown.

That stage is now back in Rocket Lab’s factory, where engineers, he said, “are really just starting to dissect everything.” That includes removing individual components for testing and, in some cases, requalifying them for flight on later launches.

One area of improvement, he acknowledged, is the thermal protection system at the base of the stage. “We knew that the thermal protection system on the vehicle was not perfect because we didn’t have the data,” he said. During reentry “it got pretty roasty down there, as we kind of expected.” That included heat shield panels that were blown out, exposing the engines.

Rocket Lab will fold those and other improvements into the next recovery test, which Beck said will take place on an Electron launch in early 2021. That will be similar to this one in that the stage will splash down and be recovered by a boat for testing. That will continue, he said, until the recovered stages are in “premium condition,” at which point it will shift to midair recovery of the stages using a helicopter.

Once stages are recovered in midair, Rocket Lab will be ready to start reusing them. Beck said the company hoped to be able to do so before the end of 2021, although some launches next year will include components that first flew on this and other recovered stages. “It’s probably a little bit early to predict” when the first reused stage will launch, he said, “but we’d certainly would love to try to get a whole stage next year.”

Beck predicted the company would fly a mix of expendable and reusable missions, even after Rocket Lab demonstrates reusability. Most of the changes needed for recovery of the stage, such as parachutes and avionics, are located in an interstage section between the first and second stages, and the company is producing separate versions of that interstage for recovery and non-recovery launches. The recovery hardware does reduce the vehicle’s payload by about 10 kilograms now, with an additional 5 to 10 kilograms reduction once all the recovery systems are added.

Changes to the first stage itself, like the improved heat shield, will likely be used for both expendable and reusable missions. “We certainly hope that the majority of the missions are recovery missions,” he said. “There’s no point in only recovering 1 in every 10.”

While Rocket Lab was motivated to pursue reusability as a means of increasing its flight rate without having to expand its factory, the ability to reuse vehicles could drive down costs and change the economics of smallsat launch. He compared dedicated small launch systems like Electron to services like Uber, contrasting them to secondary payload opportunities that, like buses, are less expensive but also less flexible.

“If you can do what an Uber does for the same cost as the bus, then that has a really big impact on the economics,” he said. “That’s probably what I’m most excited about with respect to reusability.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-declares-success-in-electron-rocket-recovery/
« Ostatnia zmiana: Styczeń 22, 2021, 04:17 wysłana przez Orionid »

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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab declares success in Electron rocket recovery
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Grudzień 15, 2020, 20:26 »

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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab launches Japanese radar imaging satellite
« Odpowiedź #19 dnia: Grudzień 15, 2020, 20:28 »
Rocket Lab launches Japanese radar imaging satellite
by Jeff Foust — December 15, 2020


A Rocket Lab Electron lifts off Dec. 15, carrying the StriX-α SAR imaging satellite for Synspective. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab successfully launched the first satellite for a Japanese radar imaging startup, concluding a roller-coaster year for the small launch vehicle company.

The Electron rocket lifted off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 5:09 a.m. Eastern. The rocket’s kick stage deployed its sole payload, the StriX-α satellite for Synspective, about an hour after liftoff into a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit. The launch used a customized payload fairing to accommodate what Rocket Lab called the “extra-wide body” of the satellite.

StriX-α is the first in a constellation planned by Tokyo-based Synspective, which raised $100 million as of mid-2019. The “100-kilogram class” spacecraft, as described by the company, can generate synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery with a resolution of one to three meters. It will be followed by StriX-β, a second demonstration satellite, in 2021. The company ultimately plans to deploy a constellation of more than 30 satellites.

Synspective originally contracted with Arianespace to launch StriX-α on a Vega rocket. However, in April it announced it had signed a contract with Rocket Lab for the satellite, citing delays in the Vega launch schedule caused by a July 2019 launch failure. The company expects to use the Arianespace contract for the launch of a future satellite instead.

“With the launch of StriX-α, Synspective will be able to demonstrate its satellite capabilities and data processing technology,” said Motoyuki Arai, founder and chief executive of Synspective, in a statement after the launch. “This is the first step towards our constellation of 30 satellites and along with the development of our solutions, a full-scale business expansion will begin.”

The launch, called “The Owl’s Night Begins” by Rocket Lab, was the 17th of the Electron rocket overall, and seventh of 2020. Rocket Lab entered the year with the goal of launching up to 12 Electrons, performing its first launch, of a National Reconnaissance Office payload, in January.

The coronavirus pandemic, though, forced Rocket Lab to suspend launch operations in March as it was preparing for its second mission. It resumed launches in June, launching a second mission for the NRO that also carried university payloads.

The company suffered a setback in July when an Electron launch carrying satellites for Canon Electronics, Planet and In-Space Missions failed. Rocket Lab traced the failure to a faulty electrical connection in the rocket’s upper stage that eluded quality control testing prior to launch. The company returned Electron to flight less than two months after the failure, launching a SAR satellite for Capella Space. That launch also carried Rocket Lab’s first Photon satellite.

After an October launch of satellites for Canon and Planet, Rocket Lab launched nearly 30 small satellites for various customers on a Nov. 19 launch. That launch was the first where the company attempted to recover the rocket’s first stage, part of a project announced in 2019 to eventually reuse the booster. The company was able to recover the booster from the ocean, declaring the effort a “complete success.”

Rocket Lab did not attempt to recover the first stage on the StriX-α launch. The next recovery attempt will be on a launch in early 2021, the company said during the launch webcast.


Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-launches-japanese-radar-imaging-satellite/

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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab launches secretive communications satellite for OHB
« Odpowiedź #20 dnia: Styczeń 22, 2021, 04:15 »
Rocket Lab launches secretive communications satellite for OHB
by Jeff Foust — January 20, 2021 Updated 2:45 p.m. Eastern with OHB statement. [SN]


A Rocket Lab Electron lifts off Jan. 20 carrying the GMS-T communications satellite built by OHB. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab successfully launched a communications satellite for German company OHB Group Jan. 20 in the first Electron mission of the year.

The Electron lifted off from the company’s Launch Complex 1 at Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, at 2:26 a.m. Eastern after a brief delay because of gusty winds. Rocket Lab scrubbed the original launch attempt for the “Another One Leaves the Crust” mission four days earlier because of “strange data” from a sensor.

Electron released the sole satellite on the mission, GMS-T, 70 minutes after liftoff. “Perfect orbit, payload deployed. Hello 2021!” tweeted Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab.

The payload for this mission has been shrouded in secrecy since Rocket Lab announced the planned launch Jan. 5. The name of the satellite itself was not disclosed by OHB until after liftoff, and a press kit for the mission did not include the satellite’s mass or orbital altitude, stating only that it was going into an orbit at an inclination of 90 degrees.

Rocket Lab said in its announcement of the upcoming launch that the payloads “will be a single communication microsatellite that will enable specific frequencies to support future services from orbit.” OHB, which built the satellite, procured the launch last August. At the time it cited “an unmatched delivery time” by Rocket Lab, who agreed to launch the payload within six months.

An image of the rocket’s payload fairing included a logo with an illustration of the satellite and the words “BIU GMS-T.” Analysts speculated that the name of the satellite was GMS-T, with BIU referring to “bring into use,” a term in satellite communications for first use of spectrum allocated by the International Telecommunication Union and national regulators and consistent with the stated mission to “enable specific frequencies” for future applications.


Cytuj
Najjar@AlexNajjarEC I think i have ID-ed the mystery OHB payload! Seems to be a GMS Zhaopin aka Kleo Connect prototype for LEO broadband. Probably secret due to Germany-China relations (see Mynaric for example)

Gunter Krebs @Skyrocket71 Does anyone have any info on the @OHB_SE  payload of @RocketLab Electron #anotheroneleavesthecrust mission? What is "BIU GMS-T".
Hard to admit, but this one escaped my identification so far.

9:27 AM · Jan 11, 2021 Twitter

The ultimate customer for the satellite may be GMS Zhaopin, a Chinese company planning a satellite constellation. It has been linked to a German company, KLEO Connect, that has announced plans for a constellation to provide internet of things services.

In a statement after the launch, OHB described GMS-T as a “50 kg class” satellite placed in an orbit 1,200 kilometers high. It described GMS-T as “the first prototype spacecraft for a planned new multi-hundred telecommunication satellite constellation in LEO using microwave broadband radio communication links” and confirmed it was launched to meet ITU bring-into-use requirements. The company, though, did not disclose the ultimate customer of GMS-T.

“With outstanding agility, reactiveness and flexibility, OHB and its key partners were able to engineer, assemble, test and launch this satellite in an unmatched contract-to-launch time,” Lutz Bertling, chief digital officer of OHB, said in the statement, which noted work to assemble the spacecraft started just seven months ago.

The launch is the first of what Rocket Lab previously called a “packed launch manifest” for 2021, although the company has not announced a specific number of launches it foresees performing this year. Those launches will include the first launches from Launch Complex 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia, and from a second pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.


Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-launches-secretive-communications-satellite-for-ohb/
« Ostatnia zmiana: Styczeń 22, 2021, 04:24 wysłana przez Orionid »

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Odp: [SN] Electron launch demonstrated enhanced kick stage
« Odpowiedź #21 dnia: Styczeń 29, 2021, 01:59 »
Electron launch demonstrated enhanced kick stage
by Jeff Foust — January 28, 2021


A Rocket Lab Electron lifts off Jan. 20 carrying the GMS-T communications satellite built by OHB. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab stretched the performance of the kick stage of its Electron rocket on its most recent launch, the first in a series of milestones the company has set out for this year.

During the Jan. 20 launch, Electron’s kick stage placed its payload, a satellite built by German company OHB Group, into a circular orbit at an altitude of 1,200 kilometers. The kick stage fired again to lower the perigee of its orbit by 740 kilometers to accelerate its eventual reentry.

“The last launch was quite a complicated one,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in an interview. Most Electron missions deploy their payloads at an altitude of about 500 kilometers, so the kick stage needed to fire its Curie engine for more than twice the duration of a standard mission. That kick stage carried double the number of propellant tanks to carry out that mission profile.

Neither Rocket Lab nor OHB have released many details about the satellite on that mission, GMS-T, other than it is a “50-kilogram class” communications satellite. Beck, though, said that contrary to some suggestions that GMS-T is for a Chinese company, the satellite is “100% European.” More recent speculation has linked the project to Thales Alenia Space to bring into use spectrum originally intended for LeoSat.

Rocket Lab signed the contract with OHB less than six months before the launch, and Beck said that kind of responsiveness is a key part of his company’s business model. “The type of customer coming to us is looking for that high-reliability white-glove service,” he said. “That kind of customer service is pretty hard to replicate.”

That degree of service, he argued, will set the company apart from both other small launch vehicle companies and rideshare services, like SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission that launched 143 satellites Jan. 24. SpaceX’s rideshare program in particular threatens to undercut small launchers by offering a steady stream of low-cost launch opportunities.

“Low-cost rideshare has always been available,” he said, with the difference now that it is being offered by SpaceX rather than Russian or Indian launch vehicles. “We still see customers coming to us who just can’t wait.”

The demonstration of the kick stage’s enhanced performance is the first of several milestones Rocket Lab plans for 2021. The next Electron launch, currently scheduled for March, will include the company’s second Photon satellite along with several commercial payloads.

Beck said Rocket Lab will use the Photon to perform testing to prepare for its launch of NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission to the moon, which will use Photon as a translunar injection stage. “The maneuvers for the CAPSTONE mission are very, very difficult,” he said. “This is all about building heritage on components and processes.”

CAPSTONE is scheduled for launch in the second quarter on an Electron flying out of Launch Complex 2 in Wallops Island, Virginia. That schedule depends on final NASA certification of the autonomous flight termination system for the rocket, a process that has been delayed for months. Beck said the company was still hopeful that the system will be approved in time to keep the launch on that schedule.

Rocket Lab also plans to open a second pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand in the second quarter. Beck said the strongback structure will be installed on the pad “relatively shortly,” followed by final commissioning.

The second quarter will also see Rocket Lab’s second attempt to recover the Electron first stage. The company recovered the first stage from a Nov. 19 launch and has since been testing the stage and its components.

That second recovery attempt will be “essentially” the same as the first one, he said, with the main difference being an improved heat shield at the base of the rocket. The company knew the existing heat shield wasn’t sufficient to protect the stage enough to enable reuse, but wanted on the first flight to see how much extra protection is required.

“The heating condition was really good,” he said of the November flight, “but we want to lower the heating a little bit more.” Engineers have cut up the first stage to perform testing, including to see how the carbon composite structures reacted to “transient excursions into high heating” during reentry. “The results look really good right now, but the lower the heat load that we can put on the stage, the better.”

Beck said that some components of the stage, such as avionics and electrical systems, “are as good as the day they flew.” Those have been requalified and, in some cases, installed on other vehicles being assembled for future launches.

“We’re hoping to have multiple recoveries this year,” he said. “The goal I’ve set for the team for this year is that, by the end of the year, we want to get one back that is in the condition to refly. We may not get it reflown, but we’re at least going to get one back in a condition that is good enough to refly.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/electron-launch-demonstrated-enhanced-kick-stage/

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Odp: [SN] Rocket Lab launches smallsat rideshare mission
« Odpowiedź #22 dnia: Marzec 23, 2021, 23:43 »
Rocket Lab launches smallsat rideshare mission
by Jeff Foust — March 22, 2021 [SN]


In addition to launching six smallsats, the latest Electron mission includes "Photon Pathstone," a second test of the company's smallsat bus. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab launched six smallsats for a variety of commercial and government customers March 22 on a mission also intended to demonstrate the performance of its own smallsat bus.

The company’s Electron rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 1 at Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. The rocket deployed its kick stage eight and a half minutes after liftoff and, after a 40-minute coast, fired its Curie engine for nearly two minutes. Four minutes later, it deployed five payloads into a 550-kilometer circular orbit inclined at 45 degrees.

The kick stage performed two more firings of its Curie engine before releasing the sixth payload into a 450-kilometer orbit 1 hour and 49 minutes after liftoff.

The largest payload on the launch was a Gen-2 satellite for satellite imaging company BlackSky, the seventh in that series of spacecraft that produce high-resolution imagery. It was the satellite deployed to the lower orbit.

The launch also carried two 6U cubesats built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems for two separate Australian companies developing internet-of-things satellite constellations: Myriota 7 for Myriota and Centauri 3 for Fleet. In addition to providing internet-of-things services, Centauri 3 will test technologies for a proposed lunar smallsat mission being studied by a team of Australian companies.

The other three smaller satellites were Gunsmoke-J, a 3U cubesat developed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) whose launch was arranged by TriSept, and 1U technology demonstration satellites by Care Weather Technologies and the University of New South Wales Canberra Space.

The Gunsmoke-J satellite attracted the most attention, and controversy, in New Zealand because of concerns raised by some organizations there that the satellite could be used by the U.S. military for targeting weapons, specifically nuclear weapons. Those groups, as well as New Zealand’s Green Party, asked the government to suspend licenses granted by the New Zealand Space Agency for Gunsmoke-J and other U.S. military payloads.

SMDC describes Gunsmoke-J as a demonstration of technologies “that could assist the ground force commander in long-range precision fires and other activities.” The spacecraft will test the ability to provide imagery directly to troops in the field. The New Zealand government took no steps to halt the launch.

In addition to deploying the six satellites, the mission will test the company’s Photon satellite bus, which is based on the kick stage. The “Photon Pathstone” will be the second such test of Photon after its “First Light” mission launched in August 2020. Those tests, the company said, will test systems needed for launching NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar smallsat mission later this year.

The launch was the first for Rocket Lab since it announced March 1 its intent to go public through a merger with Vector Acquisition Corporation, a special-purpose acquisition corporation. That deal, expected to close in the second quarter, will provide Rocket Lab with about $750 million in capital and value the company at $4.1 billion. The company announced at the same time its intent to develop Neutron, a medium-class launch vehicle.

In an interview during the company’s webcast of the launch, Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, offered no updates on either the SPAC deal or development of Neutron. He did say that Rocket Lab’s next attempt to recover an Electron first stage was “not too many missions away.” The company recovered the first stage from an Electron launch for the first time in November.

That upcoming launch, he said, will include upgrades such as a more robust heat shield at the base of the rocket. “We’re expecting much better performance and hopefully much better condition of the stage when we go pick it back up.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-launches-smallsat-rideshare-mission/

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Artykuły o Rocket Lab
« Odpowiedź #23 dnia: Maj 15, 2021, 11:19 »
Rocket Lab to make second booster recovery attempt
by Jeff Foust — May 14, 2021


An Electron first stage being recovered after a launch in November 2020. Rocket Lab plans to make a second recovery attempt on a launch scheduled for May 15. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — The next launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will be the second mission where the company attempts to recover the vehicle’s first stage as part of its efforts to reuse the booster.

An Electron rocket is scheduled to launch no earlier than 6 a.m. Eastern May 15 from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. It will place into orbit two imaging satellites for BlackSky in the first of four dedicated missions arranged through launch services company Spaceflight earlier this year.

Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-to-make-second-booster-recovery-attempt/

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Odp: Artykuły o Rocket Lab (Electron launch fails)
« Odpowiedź #24 dnia: Maj 15, 2021, 14:23 »
Electron launch fails
by Jeff Foust — May 15, 2021


A Rocket Lab electron lifts off May 15 from the company’s New Zealand launch site. The launch failed minutes later when the second stage’s engine appeared to shut down seconds after ignition. Credit: Rocket Lab webcast

WASHINGTON — A Rocket Lab Electron rocket failed to reach orbit May 15 when its second stage engine shut down seconds after ignition, the second launch failure in less than a year for the company.

The Electron lifted off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 7:11 a.m. Eastern. The liftoff was delayed by a little more than an hour because of upper-level winds.

The first stage of the vehicle appeared to perform as expected. The second stage then separated and ignited its single Rutherford engine. However, video from the rocket broadcast on the company’s webcast of the mission showed that engine shutting down seconds later. Telemetry from the launch indicated the vehicle was slowing down before that telemetry was removed from the webcast.

Source: https://spacenews.com/electron-launch-fails/

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Odp: Artykuły o Rocket Lab
« Odpowiedź #25 dnia: Lipiec 25, 2021, 09:56 »
Rocket Lab identifies cause of Electron failure
by Jeff Foust — July 19, 2021 [SN]


Rocket Lab said "a previously undetectable failure mode" in the igniter system for the second stage engine caused an Electron launch May 15 to fail. Credit: Rocket Lab webcast

EL PASO, Texas — Rocket Lab said July 19 that it has identified the cause of an Electron launch failure more than two months ago and that the vehicle is ready to return to flight.

The Electron rocket failed to reach orbit in a May 15 launch from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. Shortly after stage separation, the upper stage’s single Rutherford engine ignited but appeared to shut down seconds later. The company declared the vehicle lost about a half-hour later.

Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-identifies-cause-of-electron-failure/

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Odp: Artykuły o Rocket Lab
« Odpowiedź #26 dnia: Lipiec 29, 2021, 10:02 »
Rocket Lab returns Electron to flight with Space Force launch
by Jeff Foust — July 29, 2021 [SN]


A Rocket Lab Electron lifts off July 29 on its return-to-flight mission after a May 15 launch failure. Credit: Rocket Lab webcast

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab returned its Electron rocket to flight July 29 with the successful launch of an experimental satellite for the U.S. Space Force.

The Electron lifted off from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 2 a.m. Eastern. The rocket’s two stages performed normally and, after a coast phase, the vehicle’s kick stage deployed the Monolith satellite 52 minutes after liftoff into a 600-kilometer orbit at an inclination of 37 degrees.

Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-returns-electron-to-flight-with-space-force-launch/

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Odp: Artykuły o Rocket Lab
« Odpowiedź #27 dnia: Wrzesień 10, 2021, 23:32 »
Pandemic delaying Rocket Lab launches
by Jeff Foust — September 9, 2021


Rocket Lab doesn't expect to resume Electron launches until October because of pandemic-related lockdowns in New Zealand. Credit: Rocket Lab

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Rocket Lab says lockdowns in New Zealand caused by the latest surge of the coronavirus pandemic will postpone launches to at least October and cut its projected revenues for the year.

In a Sept. 8 earnings call, the first since the company went public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), company executives said they did not anticipate performing their next Electron launch before the end of September because of restrictions in New Zealand caused by the delta variant of the pandemic.

Source: https://spacenews.com/pandemic-delaying-rocket-lab-launches/

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Odp: Artykuły o Rocket Lab
« Odpowiedź #27 dnia: Wrzesień 10, 2021, 23:32 »