Autor Wątek: [SN] Rocket Lab inaugurates U.S. launch site  (Przeczytany 1429 razy)

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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.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-declares-success-in-electron-rocket-recovery/

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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 Japanese radar imaging satellite
« Odpowiedź #19 dnia: Grudzień 15, 2020, 20:28 »