WASHINGTON – A Rocket Lab Electron rocket successfully launched a group of cubes on December 16 on a mission funded by NASA, as it looks forward to more frequent launches in the coming year.
The electron chain is lifted from the company's Start Complex 1 on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula at 13:30 East. The rocket placed a kick that contained the 13 satellites on track nine minutes after launch. About 40 minutes ignited the firing step for a 90-second firing, after which the satellites were placed in 500-kilometer circular lanes with a slope of 85 degrees.
"All payrolls are utilized !! Perfect mission", Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, tweeted after using the satellites.
NASA bought the launch for its CubeSat Launch Initiative program, which launches launches for cubesats developed by academic institutions and NASA centers. This special flight, known as the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 1
The satellites range from those built primarily to give the students experience of satellite development to those who test advanced technology. RSat, developed at the US Naval Academy, will test robotic arms planned for future satellite service spacecraft. CubeSat, from the University of Illinois, will test marking techniques. Advanced Electric Bus, or ALBus, satellite from NASA's Glenn Research Center, will demonstrate new energy systems and solar engineering.
The launch carried out three satellites in addition to the 10 that were part of ELaNa-19. Two of the satellites, commonly known as AeroCube 11, were developed by Aerospace Corporation to test advanced imaging. The third space-based High Frequency Testbed 2, was developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to demonstrate using high frequency radio signals to study the ionosphere.
NASA awarded Rocket Lab a contract for its launch in October 2015 through the Venture Class Launch Services program, an attempt to develop dedicated launching services for cubes and other small sets. Earlier ELaNa missionaries all used secondary payroll, or rideshare, housing on NASA and other government launches, reducing the control they had over schedule and bypass.
"Matching the ELaNa-19 with the electronic radar gives these advanced scientific and educational satellites first-class tickets to space while providing valuable insight into potential NASA missions in the future," said Justin Treptow, NASA ELaNa-19 Mission Manager, before launch.
NASA also awarded Venture Class Launch Services contract 2015 to Firefly Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Firefly lost its contract when the company went through bankruptcy, redirecting as Firefly Aerospace.
Virgin Orbit, the company threw from Virgin Galactic to develop and operate the LauncherOne air-launch system, approaching its first launch. The NASA contract will fly on the second LauncherOne flight, on a mission called ELaNa-20, scheduled by March 2019. This mission will carry 11 cubes for universities and NASA's Ames Research Center.
This release was the third for Rocket Lab this year and others in just over a month. The company called this launch for "This One for Pickering" to commemorate the late William Pickering, the New Zealand-born scientist who served as director of JPL from 1954 to 1976.
The company said in a launch announcement that its next Electron "will be on the padden" in January, but did not identify the customer. The company's officials have said that they expect to increase their launching flight's 2019 flying mission at a rate of at least once a month. The company recently opened a factory in Auckland, New Zealand, designed to support the production of an Electron rocket per week.
"Regular and reliable launch is now a reality for small satellites. The wait is over," says Beck in the statement. "We provide small satellite customers with more control than they have ever had so they can start on their own schedule, to exact paths, as often as they need. "
Rocket Lab announced a series of $ 140 million round the 15th of November that helps support the increased launch rate. Among other things, the funding will support the construction of additional launch plates at Launch Complex 1 and the new launch area Komplex 2 announced by the company in October at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia.
"This funding also enables the continued aggressive upgrading of Electron production to support our targeted weekly airspace," said Beck in a statement about the new funding round. "It will also see us building additional launch platforms and start working on three major new R & D programs. "The company said it will reveal details of the unspecified research and development efforts" during the New Year. "