Rocket Lab Launches Satellites, Tests Next-Gen Reusable Booster

Electron booster blasts into space. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Rocket Lab next-generation Electron rocket blasted off from New Zealand on Friday, placing seven small satellites into Earth orbit and conducting the first test of a new reusable first stage.

The Electron’s 10th launch, nicknamed “Running Out of Fingers,” included six PocketQube micro-satellites measuring a mere 5 cm built by Alba Orbital. A seventh satellite built by a Japanese company will release particles that will create an artificial meteor shower.

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Rocket Lab Moves Headquarters to Long Beach

Electron lifts off with DARPA’s R3D2 satellite. (Credits: Kieran Fanning, Sam Tom)

Rocket Lab is moving its corporate headquarters up the California coastline to the same Long Beach business park that houses one of its main rivals, Virgin Orbit.

The Long Beach Business Journal reports the small satellite launch company is moving into the Douglas Park development from its current home in Huntington Beach. The company has leased 87,605-square-foot building.

Rocket Lab is the third launch provider to move to the park. Virgin Orbit established its operations there in 2015. SpinLaunch signed a lease in Douglas Park two months ago.

Rocket Lab is preparing for the 10th launch of its Electron launch vehicle later this week from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Virgin Galactic has not yet flown its LauncherOne booster, which is dropped from a modified Boeing 747. SpinLaunch rocket is also still in development.

NASA Selects TriSept to Support New Round of CubeSat Missions

CHANTILLY, Va., December 2, 2019 (TriSept PR) – TriSept Corporation, a leading provider of launch integration, management and brokerage services for commercial and government missions, today announced that it has been selected as a preferred provider to support NASA’s third round of CubeSat missions with dispenser hardware and integration services.

As part of a five year, $18 million NASA indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, TriSept will be considered for CubeSat mission integration services and dispenser hardware procurement in support of upcoming CubeSat launches through 2025.

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Next Generation Electron Booster on the Pad for Rocket Lab’s 10th Mission

Ellectron launches NASA’s Venture Class CubeSats. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The mission will carry several commercial small sats to orbit before Electron’s upgraded first stage undertakes a guided re-entry in a significant step towards reusable Rocket Lab vehicles.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., November 5, 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, announced today that its next mission will launch multiple microsatellites in a rideshare mission representing five different countries. The launch window for Rocket Lab’s tenth flight, named ‘Running Out Of Fingers,’ will open 25th November NZDT and take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula.

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Spaceflight’s Third Rideshare Mission with Rocket Lab to Launch ALE’s Shooting Stars Satellite

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

SEATTLE, November 5, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it has arranged for Tokyo-based ALE to launch its entertainment and science satellite on Rocket Lab’s next Electron launch.

The mission, called “Running Out of Fingers” by Rocket Lab to signify its tenth mission, represents Spaceflight’s third launch with Rocket Lab this year. It follows the launch of seven spacecraft on its inaugural “Make it Rain” mission in June and three on the “Look Ma No Hands” mission in August. 

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Rocket Lab to Deliver Payloads to Moon and Beyond with Photon

Photon stage (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Extended range Photon missions to medium, geostationary and lunar orbits will support deeper space exploration and the return of human presence on the moon

Washington DC, 21 October 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has today unveiled plans to support extended range missions to medium, geostationary, and lunar orbits with the company’s Photon satellite platform.

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Rocket Lab Delays Electron Launch Due to Stormy Weather

“As the Crow Flies”

Booster: Electron
Payload: Palisade 16U CubeSat for Astro Digital
Location: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, NZ
Launch Period: 15 October – 28 October 2019 NZDT (14 October – 28 October 2019 UTC)
Launch Window: Daily from 12:00 – 16:00 NZDT (23:00 – 03:00 UTC/7 – 11 pm EDT)
Live launch webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream (begins 15 – 20 minutes prior to launch)
Launch Day Updates: www.rocketlabusa.com/missions/next-mission/ and follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab

An Overview of Rocket Lab’s Next Launch

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

“As the Crow Flies”

Booster: Electron
Payload: Palisade 16U CubeSat for Astro Digital
Location: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, NZ
Launch Period: 15 October – 28 October 2019 NZDT (14 October – 28 October 2019 UTC)
Launch Window: Daily from 12:00 – 16:00 NZDT (23:00 – 03:00 UTC/7 – 11 pm EDT)
Live launch webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream (begins 15 – 20 minutes prior to launch)
Launch Day Updates: www.rocketlabusa.com/missions/next-mission/ and follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab

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USAF Selects 8 Companies to Compete for Launch Contracts

The U.S. Air Force has selected eight companies to compete for $986 worth of launch contracts under its Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) program. The companies include:

  • Aevum Inc., Huntsville, Ala.;
  • Firefly Black LLC, Cedar Park, Texas;
  • Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Chandler, Ariz.;
  • Rocket Lab USA Inc., Huntington Beach, Calif.;
  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, Calif.;
  • United Launch Alliance, Centennial, Colo.;
  • VOX Space LLC., El Segundo, Calif.;
  • Xbow Launch Systems Inc., Auburn, Calif.;

“The contract seeks to capitalize on the emerging small launch providers while providing dedicated and primary launch services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies,” the U.S. Air Force said in announcing the selections.

“The program allows for the rapid acquisition of launch services to meet mission requirements for payloads greater than 400 pounds, enabling launch to any orbit within 12-24 months from task order award,” the announcement added.

The eight companies will be competitive for indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contracts under OSP-4.

China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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GomSpace, UnseenLabs Commission BRO-1 in Record Time

STOCKHOLM, Aug. 30, 2019 (GomSpace PR) — GomSpace has successfully delivered and commissioned the satellite bus for UnseenLabs BRO-1, launched from New Zealand by Rocket Lab on August 19, 2019.

The launch and early operations phase was successfully completed in only a few days, and the spacecraft is ready to commence operation for UnseenLabs.

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Rocket Lab Launch Reset for Tuesday New Zealand Time

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

After a scrub due to high winds, Rocket Lab has rescheduled its latest Electron Look Ma, No Hands launch for no earlier than Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 12:12 am NZST (12:12 UTC/8:12 am EDT).

Rocket Lab’s eighth mission will carry four satellites, including: a Cubesat for French maritime surveillance company UNSEENLABS ; BlackSky’s Global-4 Earth-imaging satellite; and two U.S. Air Force Space Command experimental satellites designed to test new propulsion, power, communications, and drag technologies.

Rocket Lab will webcast the launch at www.rocketlabusa.com.

Rocket Lab to Launch 4 Satellites in Look Ma, No Hands Mission

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab’s eighth mission will lift-off in August from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, carrying a total of four satellites aboard an Electron launch vehicle.

The mission is manifested with satellites destined to begin a new constellation for UNSEENLABS, as well as more rideshare payloads for Spaceflight, consisting of a spacecraft for BlackSky and the United States Air Force Space Command.

The first launch opportunity is no earlier than Friday, Aug. 16 at 12:57 UTC (8:57 EDT). The launch window is open until Aug. 30.

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Rocket Lab Scholarship Applications Now Open

Electron lifts off with DARPA’s R3D2 satellite. (Credits: Kieran Fanning, Sam Tom)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Hawke’s Bay students interested in becoming innovators, scientists, and engineers, are being offered the opportunity to pursue STEM education thanks to Rocket Lab’s 2019 tertiary scholarship.

Applications are now open for the annual Rocket Lab Scholarship, which offers $20,000 across four years of study one outstanding undergraduate student each year. The scholarship also provides students with hands-on mentorship towards the end of their degree from leading space and engineering experts at Rocket Lab.

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