Trying for the perfect 10

Rocket Lab is aiming for a “perfect 10” when it launches its next rocket from Mahia in about three weeks time.

The United States-based company today announced its 10th mission from the Launch Complex 1 facility at Onenui Station would launch microsatellites from five different countries.

The launch window for the flight, named Running Out Of Fingers, opens on November 25.

On board the rideshare mission are six spacecraft comprising 5cm PocketQube microsatellites from UK-based satellite manufacturer and mission management provider Alba Orbital.

The final payload on board was procured by satellite rideshare and mission management provider Spaceflight for ALE Co, Ltd, a Tokyo-based company creating microsatellites that simulate meteor particles.

The mission will also continue efforts to research how rockets can be re-used.

A Rocket Lab statement said the Electron rocket’s first stage would not be recovered from this mission but would include new hardware and sensors to inform future recovery efforts.

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said increasing launch frequency for small satellite operators was the key driver behind Rocket Lab’s reusability programme.

“Reaching our 10th flight within only two years of commercial operations is an incredible achievement. Thanks to the continued dedication and passion of the teams at Rocket Lab, responsive and frequent access to space is the new normal for small satellites. As we move beyond once-a-month missions towards our goal of weekly launches, recovering and reusing Electron could play a significant role in increasing launch frequency.”

Among the payloads is one from Advanced Technology of Laser (ATL) from Hungary, designed to test a new thermal isolation material in space, conduct a thermal insulator material experiment, and DVB-T band spectrum monitoring.

Also on board will be a picosatellite developed by Spanish non-profit organisation Fossa Systems. The small spacecraft is a communications satellite that uses low-power radio frequency to provide “internet of things” connectivity.

A novel spectrum monitoring payload built by students at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, Smog-P features a spectrum analyser to measure man-made electromagnetic pollution from space.

A satellite from ACME AtronOmatic, a US-Germany based software application development company, for a weather radar application for mobile devices.

In addition, Tokyo-based ALE Co., Ltd ‘s ALE-2 satellite aims to create human-made shooting stars by simulating re-entering meteor particles. The satellite includes multiple redundant attitude sensors and controllers, as well as a propulsion system for manoeuvres.

Rocket Lab is aiming for a “perfect 10” when it launches its next rocket from Mahia in about three weeks time.

The United States-based company today announced its 10th mission from the Launch Complex 1 facility at Onenui Station would launch microsatellites from five different countries.

The launch window for the flight, named Running Out Of Fingers, opens on November 25.

On board the rideshare mission are six spacecraft comprising 5cm PocketQube microsatellites from UK-based satellite manufacturer and mission management provider Alba Orbital.

The final payload on board was procured by satellite rideshare and mission management provider Spaceflight for ALE Co, Ltd, a Tokyo-based company creating microsatellites that simulate meteor particles.

The mission will also continue efforts to research how rockets can be re-used.

A Rocket Lab statement said the Electron rocket’s first stage would not be recovered from this mission but would include new hardware and sensors to inform future recovery efforts.

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said increasing launch frequency for small satellite operators was the key driver behind Rocket Lab’s reusability programme.

“Reaching our 10th flight within only two years of commercial operations is an incredible achievement. Thanks to the continued dedication and passion of the teams at Rocket Lab, responsive and frequent access to space is the new normal for small satellites. As we move beyond once-a-month missions towards our goal of weekly launches, recovering and reusing Electron could play a significant role in increasing launch frequency.”

Among the payloads is one from Advanced Technology of Laser (ATL) from Hungary, designed to test a new thermal isolation material in space, conduct a thermal insulator material experiment, and DVB-T band spectrum monitoring.

Also on board will be a picosatellite developed by Spanish non-profit organisation Fossa Systems. The small spacecraft is a communications satellite that uses low-power radio frequency to provide “internet of things” connectivity.

A novel spectrum monitoring payload built by students at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, Smog-P features a spectrum analyser to measure man-made electromagnetic pollution from space.

A satellite from ACME AtronOmatic, a US-Germany based software application development company, for a weather radar application for mobile devices.

In addition, Tokyo-based ALE Co., Ltd ‘s ALE-2 satellite aims to create human-made shooting stars by simulating re-entering meteor particles. The satellite includes multiple redundant attitude sensors and controllers, as well as a propulsion system for manoeuvres.

The New Zealand Government is joining efforts to beat climate change by co-funding a state-of the art satellite but Mahia’s rocket launch facility will not be involved.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Megan Woods yesterday said the government would put $26 million towards the MethaneSAT, which is designed to locate and measure methane from human sources worldwide. A key feature of the agreement is that the mission control centre will be located in New Zealand.

“This is an ambitious science partnership between New Zealand and the Environmental Defence Fund that will see New Zealand at the forefront of developing and applying world-leading technology to the global challenge of managing greenhouse gas emissions,” Dr Woods said.

“Climate change is a complex, global issue that this Government is committed to addressing. We are delivering on that commitment through this space mission.”

MethaneSAT is scheduled to launch in 2022. MBIE and EDF will confirm the location of the New Zealand-based mission control centre and New Zealand’s role in the launch and the science components of the mission in coming months.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said while the company supported the move, he pointed out Rocket Lab’s Electron rockets would not be able to carry the satellite.

“Rocket Lab proposed the concept of a methane monitoring satellite to the New Zealand Space Agency, and facilitated connections with international industry experts to support the development of the project. It’s exciting to see the project come to fruition and to see New Zealand take proactive steps towards using space to tackle climate challenges.

“Naturally, we’re a bit disappointed that Rocket Lab won’t be launching the satellite for this mission, but we realise that the architecture and design selected for the spacecraft are not suitable for Electron.

“New Zealand is home to a rapidly growing space economy and we look forward to working with the New Zealand Space Agency in supporting this and future missions.”

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