Fresh from eating his hat, Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck this week oversaw his company’s latest mission that deployed six satellites in low-Earth orbit.
This was the 19th launch for the company’s workhorse Electron rocket, and takes the total number of satellites deployed by Rocket Lab to 104.
While this latest mission served a variety of commercial and government customers, the emerging SpaceX rival also used the flight to deploy its own Photon satellite as part of ongoing tests for an upcoming NASA moon mission that could take place later this year.
Following the latest launch, California-based Rocket Lab on Tuesday posted a video showing some of the highlights.
19 missions and counting. 104 satellites deployed to orbit. Another flawless launch for our customers. pic.twitter.com/gv7ztGl5y0
— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) March 23, 2021
For the full version, check out the video below:
The Electron booster launched earlier this week from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, successfully deploying an Earth-observation satellite for BlackSky Global through Spaceflight Inc; two Internet of Things nanosatellites for Australian commercial operators Fleet Space and Myriota; a test satellite built by the University of New South Wales’ Canberra Space in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force; a weather-monitoring CubeSat for Care Weather Technologies; and a technology demonstrator for the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command.
Commenting on the success of the latest mission, Beck said: “Reaching more than 100 satellites deployed is an incredible achievement for our team and I’m proud of their tireless efforts which have made Electron the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket.”
Rocket Lab hit the headlines earlier this month when it announced it’s building its largest rocket to date as it seeks to further establish itself in the fast-growing smallsat launch market.
Notably, the new Neutron rocket will be Rocket Lab’s first vehicle capable of carrying humans into space.
When built, the rocket will stand 40 meters high and be able to carry a payload of up to 8,000 kilograms into low-Earth orbit. For comparison, SpaceX’s tried-and-tested Falcon 9 rocket has a height of 70 meters and is capable of carrying payloads of up to 22,800 kg into low-Earth orbit.
New Zealander Beck also made the news recently when he posted a video in which he was shown eating his hat. The CEO performed the feat after going back on a statement he made several years ago in which he suggested Rocket Lab would never create a reusable rocket system — something he has since decided to move toward.
Unlike SpaceX, which lands its first-stage boosters shortly after launch, Rocket Lab is planning to use a helicopter to pluck its boosters from the sky as they fall back to Earth. It’s already demonstrated the procedure in a practice run.
Following this week’s successful mission, the company is now planning its 20th Electron launch for some time in the next few weeks.
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