Argos-4 Environmental, Wildlife Tracking Instrument Poised for Fall Launch

An artist’s rendering of the General Atomics GAzelle satellite, carrying the Argos-4 instrument. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA and CNES, the French space agency, are just two months away from the planned launch of Argos-4, an advanced satellite instrument that will track the movement of wildlife, particularly marine mammals and sea turtles, while also collecting critical environmental data around the world. 

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A Description of Rocket Lab’s Mission to Venus

Figure 1. Rocket Lab’s Electron-launched private mission to Venus will deploy a small probe from a high-energy Photon.

Originally published by MDPI Open Access Journals

Rocket Lab Mission to Venus

by Richard French 1,*,Christophe Mandy 1,Richard Hunter 1,Ehson Mosleh 1,Doug Sinclair 1,Peter Beck 1,Sara Seager 2,3,4,Janusz J. Petkowski 2,Christopher E. Carr 5,David H. Grinspoon 6,Darrel Baumgardner 7,8 and on behalf of the Rocket Lab Venus Team †1

Rocket Lab, 3881 McGowen Street, Long Beach, CA 90808, USA
2 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
3 Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
4 Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
5 School of Aerospace Engineering and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
6 Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
7 Droplet Measurement Technologies, LLC, 2400 Trade Centre Ave, Longmont, CO 80503, USA
8 Cloud Measurement Solutions, LLC, 415 Kit Carson Rd., Unit 7, Taos, NM 87571, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Collaborators/Membership of the Group/Team Name is provided in the Acknowledgments.

Academic Editor: Pierre Rochus
Aerospace 20229(8), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace9080445
Received: 21 July 2022 / Revised: 10 August 2022 / Accepted: 11 August 2022 / Published: 13 August 2022|
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Search for Signs of Life on Venus: Science Objectives and Mission Designs)

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Abstract

Regular, low-cost Decadal-class science missions to planetary destinations will be enabled by high-ΔV small spacecraft, such as the high-energy Photon, and small launch vehicles, such as Electron, to support expanding opportunities for scientists and to increase the rate of science return. The Rocket Lab mission to Venus is a small direct entry probe planned for baseline launch in May 2023 with accommodation for a single ~1 kg instrument. A backup launch window is available in January 2025. The probe mission will spend about 5 min in the Venus cloud layers at 48–60 km altitude above the surface and collect in situ measurements. We have chosen a low-mass, low-cost autofluorescing nephelometer to search for organic molecules in the cloud particles and constrain the particle composition.

Keywords: VenusRocket Labautofluorescing nephelometersmall spacecraftsmall launch vehicle

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HawkEye 360’s Fourth and Fifth Satellite Clusters Begin Operation

Expanded constellation supports up to 16 collections per day across client regions 

HERNDON, Va. (HawkEye 360 PR) — HawkEye 360 Inc., the world’s leading commercial provider of space-based radio frequency (RF) data and analytics, today announced its Clusters 4 and 5 satellites have started operations. The two newest clusters have doubled on orbit capacity to empower customers with actionable global insights. The expanded constellation can collect over a region of interest up to 16 times per day with an average revisit of 1.5 hours using enhanced payloads, additional ground stations, and optimized satellite management and data processing.

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Rocket Lab to Launch 150th Satellite on Upcoming Mission for Synspective

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) today announced its upcoming 30th Electron launch will deliver its 150th payload and 300th Rutherford engine to space. The mission is a dedicated launch for Japanese Earth-imaging satellite constellation operator Synspective.

“The Owl Spreads Its Wings” mission is scheduled to lift-off from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand during a launch window opening in mid-September. The mission is the second of a bulk buy of three Electron launches by Synspective to deliver their StriX satellites to low Earth orbit. StriX-1 is Synspective’s first commercial satellite for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation to deliver imagery that can detect millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space, independent of weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day or night. “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” will be Rocket Lab’s third mission for Synspective after successful launches in December 2020 and February 2022.

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SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Swedish Space Agency Rebooks Mats Satellite Launch on Rocket Lab Electron

Mats satellite (Credit: Swedish Space Agency)

SOLNA, Sweden (Swedish Space Agency PR) — As a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Swedish Space Agency earlier this year suspended plans to launch the Swedish research satellite Mats (Mesospheric Airglow / Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy) with a Russian launch vehicle. A new agreement has now been concluded between the main contractor, OHB Sweden AB, and American Rocket Lab for the launch of the Mats satellite from Rocket Lab’s launch base in New Zealand.

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Rocket Lab’s MAX Flight Software Surpasses 50th Mission Milestone

The revolutionary off-the-shelf flight software has now enabled more than 50 missions on orbit

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA, Inc. PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, achieved a major milestone in Q2 with its MAX Flight Software now operating on 53 spacecraft, for a cumulative 161 years in space.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Launches First of Two Responsive Space Missions for the National Reconnaissance Office

Lift-off of the NROL-162 national security mission for the National Reconnaissance Office on Electron from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1. (Photo: Business Wire)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has successfully launched the first of two responsive space missions for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

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Terran Orbital Executes CAPSTONE’s Second TCM Burn

The satellite is flying a pathfinding mission to the Moon in support of NASA’s Artemis program
CAPSTONE in orbit around the moon. (Credit: NASA)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) – Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the successful completion of CAPSTONE’s second TCM burn. Much smaller than the first TCM burn, this second TCM burn demonstrates the spacecraft’s ability to perform small and precise maneuvers, a capability that is critical to operations in a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO). The maneuver further cleaned up launch injection dispersions and any execution dispersions that occurred during the first burn.  

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Rocket Lab Introduces Responsive Space Program

The program will on-ramp customers by creating tailored responsive launch and satellite development solutions, granting them access to Rocket Lab’s rapid, 24-hour call up launch service and rapid satellite build capability

All black rocket on pad with the words “Electron” in white vertically down the rocket with blue skies and wispy clouds in the background. (Credits: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA, Inc. PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has today announced it is introducing a Responsive Space Program designed to on-ramp commercial and government satellite operators to the Company’s 24/7 rapid call-up launch capability and streamlined satellite build and operation options.

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CAPSTONE Satellite, Designed and Built by Terran Orbital, Successfully Deploys from Rocket Lab Lunar Photon into Lunar Transfer Orbit

CAPSTONE approaches Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (Image Credit: Terran Orbital Corporation)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the successful deployment of the CAPSTONE spacecraft from a Rocket Lab Lunar Photon into a Lunar Transfer Orbit. Terran Orbital designed, built, and integrated Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, otherwise known as CAPSTONE, and is flying a pathfinding mission to the moon in support of NASA’s historic Artemis program. With deployment complete, Terran Orbital will now commence the satellite’s mission operations. CAPSTONE is owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA.

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CAPSTONE Suffers Communications Glitch on Way to Moon

Credit: Advanced Space

The CAPSTONE satellite launched last week to orbit the Moon is having difficulty communicating with controllers on the ground, NASA said in a mission update.

Following successful deployment and start of spacecraft commissioning on July 4, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft experienced communications issues while in contact with the Deep Space Network. The spacecraft team currently is working to understand the cause and re-establish contact. The team has good trajectory data for the spacecraft based on the first full and second partial ground station pass with the Deep Space Network. If needed, the mission has enough fuel to delay the initial post separation trajectory correction maneuver for several days. Additional updates will be provided as soon as possible.

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