Rocket Lab Increases Electron Payload Capacity, Enabling Interplanetary Missions and Reusability

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., August 4, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a satellite manufacturer and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has today announced a major performance increase to the Electron launch vehicle, boosting the company’s payload lift capacity up to 300 kg (660 lbs).

(more…)

Rocket Lab Identifies Cause of Electron Failure, Plans to to Resume Launches in August

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

Four weeks after experiencing an in-flight anomaly, Rocket Lab has identified the issue and received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to return to flight 

LONG BEACH, Calif., July 31, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab today announced that it has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume launches this month after identifying an anomalous electrical connection as the cause of an in-flight failure on July 4, 2020. With corrective measures underway, the next Electron launch has been scheduled for August from Launch Complex 1.  

(more…)

Millennium Space Systems and Tethers Unlimited to Test Space Tether Solution

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

Two small satellites set to race in space; scientifically compare deorbit capability

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space PR) – Two Millennium Space Systems-built DRAGRACER small satellites are being prepared for a first-of-its kind, controlled flight experiment later this year to mature future deorbit tether systems for low Earth orbiting satellites.

(more…)

Military Smallsat Launch Contracts Withdrawn, Future Remains Uncertain

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

Easy come, uneasy go.

Last month, the Department of Defense announced it would award two rideshare launch contracts apiece to Aevum, Astra, Rocket Lab, Space Vector, X-BOW and Virgin Orbit’s subsidiary VOX Space.

Earlier this month, however, the contract awards were withdrawn so the $116 million in funding could be used for other priorities. The money came from the Defense Production Act, which is designed to help companies struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

C4ISRnet quotes Will Roper, Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, as saying the contracts could be awarded again.

“My hope is that whenever there’s new [Defense Production Act] Title 3 funding or when resource frees up due to other efforts not executing as planned, that those [contracts] are the first to go back into the hopper,” Roper told reporters Tuesday.

“If I were asked today to put in one new Title 3 initiative, it’s small launch because I think it’s going to be an amazing industry base for this country, and if properly influenced, my military mission can be highly disruptive in future war fighting, especially if satellites can be put up in a very responsive way that changes the calculus for holding space assets at risk.”

Of the six companies, only Rocket Lab has launched satellites into orbit. Astra has failed in several launch attempts. The maiden flight of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne failed in late May.

Aevum, Space Vector and X-BOW have not made any orbital launch attempts.

Unlucky 13: Rocket Lab Electron Launch Fails

Electron’s second stage fires. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab’s 13th launch of its Electron booster was unlucky today, with a failure of the second stage sending seven small satellites to burn up in the atmosphere instead of entering orbit after launch from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

“An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab’s launch that caused the loss of the vehicle. We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron. The issue occurred late in the flight during the 2nd stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” the company tweeted.

(more…)

Ground Control to Faraday-1: DSTL to Operate First Space Mission

Faraday-1 satellite (Credit: DSTL)

LONDON (DSTL PR) — The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (DSTL) new satellite control ground station will support its first space mission following the launch of the Faraday-1 satellite. This mission will contribute towards international research collaborations to facilitate satellite operations between nations in support of wider defence science and technology goals in the space domain.

Manufactured by In-Space, Faraday-1 (also known as Prometheus-1 in the MOD community) will be launched from the Rocket Lab’s complex in Mahia, New Zealand, on 3 July, and orbit the Earth for a nominal period of three years to collect commercial data for industry partners.

(more…)

Kleos Space to Launch Development Technology in Early July

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 26 June 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX : KSS, Francfort : KS1), the Luxembourg RF Earth Observation Company, is launching new data collecting technology (software defined radio payload) integrated in an In-Space Missions (In-Space) Faraday-1 spacecraft to be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit from New Zealand by Rocket Lab in a weeks’ time as part of the Company’s R&D programme.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Wins Contract for Back-to-Back NRO Launches

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab, the Long Beach headquartered global leader in small satellite launch, has signed a launch agreement with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) for two back-to-back dedicated small satellite missions aboard an Electron launch vehicle. 

(more…)

Next Electron Launch Set for July 3

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 15 June 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) –Satellite manufacturer and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission is scheduled to launch just three weeks after its most recent mission in a demonstration of the company’s rapid launch capability.

(more…)

Spaceflight Inc. Coordinates Rideshare Launch of Canon Electronics’ Second Earth Observation Satellite

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

Canon Electronics Inc. kicks off constellation with first mass production remote sensing microsatellite, CE-SAT-IB, aboard Rocket Lab Electron, with another slated to launch in coming months

SEATTLE, June 16, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it is managing the launch of Canon Electronics’ CE-SAT-IB imaging satellite on Rocket Lab’s Electron. The mission will lift off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 at the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The launch window opens on July 4 NZT/July 3 UTC. 

(more…)

Rocket Lab Launches 12th Electron Rocket

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab launched an Electron rocket carrying five small satellites from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on Saturday.

The booster’s kick stage with the spacecraft aboard successfully separated from the second stage. The kick stage is now deploying the satellites into their planned orbits.

(more…)

Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

(more…)

Rocket Lab to Resume Electron Launches on June 11

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab has announced that it will conduct its 12th Electron launch with five satellites aboard from New Zealand on June 11 between 04:43 – 06:32 UTC (12:43 – 02:32 a.m. EDT).

The launch, titled Don’t Stop Me Now, will be the first by the company since late January. Rocket Lab suspended launch operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions placed on activities by the New Zealand government. The launch was delayed from March.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Closes Acquisition of Sinclair Interplanetary

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a leading space systems company, has closed the transaction to acquire Sinclair Interplanetary, a leading provider of high-quality, flight-proven satellite hardware.

Rocket Lab announced the execution of the agreement to acquire Sinclair Interplanetary on March 16, 2020 pending customary closing conditions and satisfying The Investment Canada Act review process. Terms of the approved deal were not disclosed.

(more…)

Electron Roll-Out Complete at New Wallops Island Launch Complex

Electron booster on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Scheduled for Q3 2020, the mission will be Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil

LONG BEACH, Calif., April 29, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has rolled an Electron launch vehicle out to the Launch Complex 2 pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops, Virginia for the first time. The milestone is one of the final steps ahead of Rocket Lab’s first launch from Launch Complex 2 – a dedicated mission in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division. 

(more…)