Bringing a Rocket Back from Space: Rocket Lab to Recover Electron Booster on Next Mission

A crew recovers the first stage of an Electron rocket from the ocean. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab will attempt to bring an intact rocket back from space in another major step toward making Electron the first reusable orbital small launch vehicle 

Long Beach, California. April 8, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the leading launch and space systems company, today announced that on its next mission the company will attempt to bring a rocket back from space, slowing the Electron launch vehicle down from speeds of >Mach 8 as it re-enter’s Earth’s atmosphere before splashing the rocket down in the ocean. The complex mission is the next major step toward making Electron the first orbital-class reusable small launch vehicle, enabling rapid-turnaround launches for small satellites.

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Quarterly Launch Report: US in the Lead Thanks to SpaceX

A Falcon 9 lifts off with 60 Starlink satellites on March 11, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 27 orbital launch attempts with 26 successes and one failure during the first quarter of 2021. The United States accounted for nearly half the total with 13 launches behind nine flights by SpaceX.

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BlackSky’s Newest Satellite Delivers First Insights Within 24 Hours

BlackSky’s Spectra AI combines the power of high-resolution satellite imagery with AI/ML techniques to automatically create detailed maps indicating activity along roads, buildings, waterways, construction sites, and more. (Photo: BlackSky)

Successful Launch of BlackSky’s Newest Satellite Advances the Company’s Dawn-to-Dusk Global Monitoring and High-Revisit Capabilities

HERNDON, Va. (BlackSky PR) — BlackSky, a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services, today announced that its latest Gen-2 satellite, BlackSky 7, delivered first insights within 24 hours of launch. Within that time frame, the BlackSky operations team conducted satellite checkout and the satellite collected its first images. At the same time, those images were downlinked, processed and analyzed using BlackSky’s Spectra AI suite of AI/ML algorithms to detect objects of interest and establish the first insight milestone. This latest satellite was launched at 22:30 UTC, March 22, 2021 on the Rocket Lab “They Go Up So Fast” mission.

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BlackSky Accelerates Constellation Deployment with Five Rocket Lab Launches

Using high-revisit satellite imagery, BlackSky’s Spectra AI has detected the utilization of major facilities at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Parking spaces shown in green are rarely used, while red indicates frequent occupancy. BlackSky customers can also understand inflow/outflow of cargo and monitor airline maintenance activity. (Photo: BlackSky)

Company’s real-time geospatial solutions to average one-hour dawn-to-dusk imaging revisit rates and 90-minute delivery times

HERNDON, Va.–(BlackSky PR)–BlackSky, a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services that recently announced a planned business combination with Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: SFTW), today reported it has secured five Rocket Lab missions to deploy nine satellites between March and the end of 2021. The first of these launches took place on March 22, 2021. The company is accelerating the deployment of its constellation of Gen-2, high-revisit, high-resolution imaging satellites and expects to deliver capabilities in 2021 that were originally planned for delivery in 2022.

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Innovative Propulsion System Gets Ready to Help Study Moon Orbit for Artemis

CAPSTONE’s propulsion system undergoes environmental testing. Environmental testing ensures that spacecraft systems can operate after being launched into space and in the space environment. (Credits: Stellar Exploration Inc.)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, CubeSat will launch to a never-before-used cislunar orbit near the Moon.

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Rocket Lab Launches 19th Electron Mission

Photon CAPSTONE spacecraft (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The successful rideshare mission brings the total count of satellites deployed by Rocket Lab to 104.

LONG BEACH, Calif.. 23 March 2022 (Rocket Lab PR)  – Rocket Lab, a leading launch provider and space systems company, has successfully launched its 19th Electron mission and deployed six spacecraft to orbit for a range of government and commercial customers. The mission, named ‘They Go Up So Fast,’ also deployed Rocket Lab’s latest in-house manufactured Photon spacecraft to build flight heritage ahead of the upcoming CAPSTONE mission to the Moon for NASA.

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Rocket Lab Set for 19th Electron Launch

Electron launches with OHB satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab Launch Update

Mission Name: They Go Up So Fast
Launch Vehicle: Electron
Launch Window: No Earlier than 23 March NZT/22 March UTC
Launch Time: No earlier than 11:20 am NZT/22:20 UTC/6:20 p.m. EDT
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

Rocket Lab’s 19th Electron mission will deploy a range of satellites for commercial and government satellite operators, as well as place a next-generation Rocket Lab Photon spacecraft in orbit to build spacecraft heritage ahead of Rocket Lab’s mission to the Moon for NASA later this year. 

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SPACovirus Sweeps Space Sector

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)
Wall Street’s latest easy money craze has attracted a growing number of space companies. But, just because they can go public, should they?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Seven space companies have gotten caught up in the SPACovirus sweeping through Wall Street. The impact on the space industry is going to be interesting to watch.

A SPAC is a special purpose acquisition company. It’s a publicly traded investment firm that, with outside investors, acquires or merges with another company, and then takes the acquisition public under its own name.

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Japan’s ImPACT Program Creates Compact, Lightweight Technology for Compact Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellites

StriX-α synthetic aperture radar image of South Florida on February 8th, 2021 around 12:00 (Japan time). (Credit: Synspective)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — It has been said that it is difficult to reduce the size and weight of satellite-mounted synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, which has been a major technical issue.

At JAXA, based on the SAR technology accumulated in the Earth observation projects so far, the results started from the basic research on the miniaturization and weight reduction of this technology are summarized. 

We have raised the level of technology to practical application in collaboration with Synspective, the Tokyo Institute of Technology Hirokawa Laboratory, Keio University Shirasaka Laboratory and the University of Tokyo Nakasuka/Funase Laboratory.

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Synspective Released the First Image from Small SAR Satellite StriX-α

StriX-α synthetic aperture radar image of South Florida on February 8th, 2021 around 12:00 (Japan time). (Credit: Synspective)

TOKYO (Synspective PR) – Synspective Inc., a SAR satellite data and analytic- solution provider, announced its first success on the first image acquisition from its first own SAR satellite StriX-α. This is the first success in Japan that a commercial SAR satellite (100 kg class) image has obtained from space.

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Wall Street Thinks Most SPACs are a Joke

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). (Credit Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Over at Fast Company, William D. Cohan says professional investors and financial analysts have a low opinion of the special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which are being used by Virgin Galactic and six other space companies to go public. (SPACs are an inside joke on Wall Street, and the joke is on you)

SPACs are investment vehicles that are already publicly traded on the stock exchange. Their goal is to acquire or merge with other companies, which then go public under their own names.

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Spaceflight Inc. Signs Multiple Launch Agreements to Start 2021, Leveraging Its Success Managing Both “Bus and Taxi” Smallsat Launches

SHERPA (Spaceflight Inc.)

Company reveals more dedicated launches, propulsive OTVs, and GTO/lunar missions to satisfy growing demand for flexible and comprehensive launch services

SEATTLE, March 3, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc.) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced it has started the year by signing several significant launch agreements with a wide range of organizations, including growing constellations needing routine and reliable launch schedules, smaller payloads requiring affordable bus-like options to popular orbits, firms needing regulatory and logistical guidance, as well as those seeking a personalized taxi service from loading dock to final orbital destination.

Organizations that recently signed launch deals with Spaceflight include Lynk, Astro Digital, Kleos, BlackSky, Umbra, Orbit Fab and several undisclosed U.S. government payloads.

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Rocket Lab Goes SPAC: Company to Go Public in Merger with Vector Acquisition Corp.

Transaction will provide capital to fund development of reusable Neutron launch vehicle with an 8-ton payload lift capacity tailored for mega constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight

Proceeds also expected to fund organic and inorganic growth in the space systems market and support expansion into space applications enabling Rocket Lab to deliver data and services from space

Business combination values Rocket Lab at an implied pro forma enterprise value of $4.1 billion. Pro forma cash balance of the combined company of approximately $750 million at close

End-to-end space company with an established track record, uniquely positioned to extend its lead across a launch, space systems and space applications market forecast to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2030

Transaction is expected to close in Q2 2021, upon which Rocket Lab will be publicly listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker RKLB

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