Spaceflight startup Rocket Lab successfully launched seven payloads into orbit this weekend.
After months of delays, the firm completed its second successful dispatch and first commercial mission—dubbed “It’s Business Time.”
The two-stage Electron vehicle lifted off from New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula Sunday afternoon (Monday morning EST). After reaching orbit, the Curie kick stage deployed six satellites and a drag sail technology demonstrator to capture space junk.
“The world is waking up to the new normal,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. “With the Electron launch vehicle, rapid and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites.
“We’re thrilled to be leading the small satellite launch industry by reaching orbit a second time and deploying more payloads,” he continued. “The team carried out a flawless flight with incredibly precise orbital insertion.”
First up was the IRVINE01 CubeSat, built by students in Southern California, followed by two ship-tracking and weather-data-collection crafts for Spire Global, two pathfinder-data relay satellites from Fleet Space Technologies, and the CICERO 10 commercial weather satellite built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems for GeoOptics.
Still the new kid on the block, Rocket Lab is quickly settling into the neighborhood: It already has another flight scheduled before the end of the year.
“With two orbital launches down for 2018, we’re not resting on our laurels,” Beck boasted. “We have a burgeoning customer manifest, so we’re moving onto the next mission within a few weeks—the incredibly exciting ELaNa 19 mission for NASA in December.”
The agency’s 19th CubeSat Launch Initiative includes research measuring radiation in the Van Allen belts, as well as demonstrations of new technologies like a solar sail blade and compact robotic manipulator.
Early this year, Rocket Lab released a disco ball-esque probe called the “Humanity Star,” which reflects sunlight so brightly that people can see it with the naked eye.
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