Spaceflight Inc. Launch Cadence Accelerates with Upcoming Electron and PSLV Missions to Expand Constellations

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

Rideshare provider to deploy nine spacecraft for customers Canon Electronics, Kleos Space and Spire on next two missions

SEATTLE – October 14, 2020 – Spaceflight Inc., the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will execute two launches on two different continents in a matter of weeks; one aboard a Rocket Lab Electron and the other on NewSpace India Limited’s (NSIL) PSLV. For both missions, Spaceflight arranged the launch and is providing mission management and rideshare integration services for its customers Canon Electronics, Kleos Space and Spire.

(more…)

NASA Tipping Point Selections Include Cryogenic Fluid, Lunar Surface and Landing Tech

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following selections, organized by topic area, are based on NASA’s fifth competitive Tipping Point  solicitation and have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm-fixed price contracts lasting for up to five years.

(more…)

Rocket Lab To Launch Commercial Earth-Imaging Rideshare Mission For Planet, Canon Electronics

Electron lifts off with Capella Space synthetic aperture radar satellite on Aug. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 21 September 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Leading space systems company, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron launch will be a rideshare mission to low Earth orbit for Planet and Spaceflight Inc.’s customer Canon Electronics.

The mission – named ‘In Focus’ in a nod to the Earth-imaging satellites onboard – will lift-off in October from Rocket Lab’s private orbital launch site, Launch Complex 1, in New Zealand. The mission will deploy a total of 10 satellites to precise and individual orbits.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Completes Final Dress Rehearsal at Launch Complex 2 Ahead of First Electron Mission from U.S. Soil

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

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., 17 September 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a leading satellite manufacturer and launch provider, has successfully completed a wet dress rehearsal of the Electron vehicle at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia.

With this major milestone complete, the Electron launch vehicle, launch team, and the LC-2 pad systems are now ready for Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil. The mission is a dedicated launch for the United States Space Force 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…)

Chinese Kuaizhou 1A Rocket Fails After Launch

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Kuaizhou 1A rocket failed to orbit the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02C optical remote-sensing satellite after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday afternoon.

The official Xinhua news agency attributed the failure to the “abnormal performance” of the launch vehicle. An investigation has commenced.

(more…)

FAA Issues Launch Operator Licence to Rocket Lab for Wallops Island Pad

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

LONG BEACH, Calif., September 1, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space systems company and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has been granted a five-year Launch Operator License by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Electron missions from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Launches First In-house Designed & Built Photon Satellite

LONG BEACH, Calif., September 3, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) — Space systems company Rocket Lab has launched its first in-house designed and built operational satellite, cementing the company’s evolution from a launch provider to an end-to-end space solutions company that offers turnkey satellites and spacecraft components, launch, and on-orbit operations.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Electron Makes Successful Return to Flight

Electron lifts off with Capella Space synthetic aperture radar satellite on Aug. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab’s Electron booster made a successful return to flight on Monday by launching a commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite for Capella Space.

The rocket lifted off on time at 3:05 p.m. from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. Electron’s kick stage deployed the 100 kg SAR satellite one hour after launch.

Rocket Lab’s 14th Electron launch comes less than two months after the failure of an Electron booster on July 4. Six satellites were lost as the booster’s second stage failed, sending it plunging into the atmosphere.

Rocket Lab blamed the loss on the failure of an electrical connection that resulted in a loss of power to the stage.

The Electron has successfully launched 12 times. The other failure came on the booster’s maiden flight.

A Whole Bunch of Launches Scheduled — Again

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bored beyond tears due to the lockdown? Got nothing to do and nowhere to go? Only reruns on the tube?

Stay home, grab some beers, and fire up that computer. There’s a whole bunch of launches on the schedule over the next four days. ULA, Rocket Lab, SpaceX, Astra and Arianespace are all back in action with six launches from three countries.

SpaceX will attempt two launches on the same day from Florida on Sunday. The company might also attempt a hop of its sixth Starship prototype this weekend. The timing for that is uncertain.

Remember: launches are subject to change without notice. And wagering is strictly prohibited.

August 29

UPDATE: The booster performed an abort at T minus 3 seconds. United Launch Alliance says it will be at least seven days before they can attempt another launch.

Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44
Launch Time: 2:04 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com/

An United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch the classified NROL-44 satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

August 29/30

UPDATE: New Electron launch date is Aug. 30/31 with the same launch window.

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Mission Name: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical”
Payload: Sequoia
Launch Window: 11:05 p.m.-3:05 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29/30 (0305-0705 GMT on Aug. 29)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com

Rocket Lab is back in action after the failure of its 13th launch on July 4. Electron will carry the Capella Space’s Sequoia synthetic aperture radar satellite on a dedicated mission.

August 30

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to weather. Next possible launch window is on Tuesday.

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Starlink 11
Launch Time: 10:08 a.m. EDT (1408 GMT)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The 12th batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.

August 30

UPDATE: Launch successful.

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B
Launch Time: 7:19 p.m. EDT (2319 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch the SAOCOM 1B environmental satellite for Argentina’s space agency, CONAE. The mission includes the first polar orbit launch from Cape Canaveral since February 1969. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a relatively rare return to land instead of touching down on an offshore drone ship.

August 30/31

UPDATE: Astra has postponed the launch to Sept. 10 from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. EDT (7-9:30 p.m. PDT)

Launch Vehicle: Rocket 3.1
Payloads: None
Launch Window: 10:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EDT on Aug. 30/31 (0200-0430 GMT on Aug. 31
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska
Webcast: none

Astra Space will attempt the first orbital flight of its inexpensive launch vehicle.

September 1/2

Launch Vehicle: Vega
Mission Name: Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof of Concept (SSMS POF)
Payloads: 53 small satellites
Launch Time: 9:51:10 p.m. EDT on Sept. 1 (0151:10 GMT on Sept. 2)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: Arianespace YouTube channel

Arianespace will attempt the first rideshare mission of its Vega booster. The window for the long delayed launch extends until Sept. 4.

Four Launches in Four Days Scheduled for Coming Week

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Are you ready for some launches?

Scattered shouts

I SAID, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME LAUNCHES?!

Crowd goes crazy

That’s better. As Doc Brown once said, starting Thursday you’re going see some serious s***.

August 27

Launch Vehicle: Delta 4 Heavy
Payload: NROL-44
Launch Time: 2:12 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com/

An United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch the classified NROL-44 satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

August 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B
Launch Time: 7:19 p.m. EDT (2319 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch the SAOCOM 1B environmental satellite for Argentina’s space agency, CONAE. The mission includes the first polar orbit launch from Cape Canaveral since February 1969. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a relatively rare return to land instead of touching down on an offshore drone ship.

August 28/29

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Mission Name: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical”
Payload: Sequoia
Launch Time: 11:05 p.m. EDT on Aug. 28/29 (0305 GMT on Aug. 29)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com

Rocket Lab is back in action after the failure of its 13th launch on July 4. Electron will carry the Capella Space’s Sequoia synthetic aperture radar satellite on a dedicated mission.

August 30

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Starlink 11
Launch Time: 10:08 a.m. EDT (1408 GMT)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The 12th batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.

Note: Launches subject to change. Absolutely no wagering.

Rocket Lab to Launch Dedicated Mission for European Space Tech Company OHB Group

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

LONG BEACH, Calif., August 25, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab has today announced that leading European space technology company OHB Group has signed a contract for a dedicated launch on an Electron rocket. The launch was procured through OHB Cosmos International Launch Service GmbH, the launch service division of the OHB Group.

(more…)

Mike Griffin Sets Up Consulting Firm, Joins Rocket Lab Board

Mike Griffin

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Fresh off a short-lived and rocky tenure overseeing the establishment of the Pentagon’s new Space Development Agency (SDA), former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has set up a consulting firm and joined Rocket Lab’s Board of Directors.

“We are honored to welcome Mike to Rocket Lab’s board of directors,” said Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive Peter Beck in a press release. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from the civil, defense, and commercial space sectors that will be invaluable to our team as Rocket Lab continues to grow and meet the ever-evolving launch and space systems needs of the national security community and commercial sectors alike.”

(more…)

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…)