Rocket Lab will start its first mission for NASA next week, just one month after its first commercial flight. California-based…
Rocket Lab will start its first mission for NASA next week, just one month after its first commercial flight.
California-based launch is focused on the 12th of December for the ELaNa-19 mission, which sends 10 small cubesats to low ground for NASA. If everything goes according to plan, an electron rocket raises from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch site, on the north island Mahia Peninsula, during a 4-hour window that opens at 11 AM EST (0400 GMT and 5:00 local New Zealand time, December 13).
There will be other opportunities for something scuttles on the 12th of December trial. The launch window runs through the night on December 20th. [“It’s Business Time!” Rocket Lab’s 1st Commercial Launch in Photos]
“ELaNa” stands for “Educational Launch of Nanosatellites.” ELaNa-19 is a milestone assignment that marks the first time that NASA Cubes have a commercial rocket to themselves, said Rocket Lab representatives. (Tiny satellites usually need hitch rides on vehicles that fill large satellites as their primary payload.)
Rocket Lab aims to significantly increase access to space using the 18 meter long (17 meter) electron that can rent about 500 lbs. (227 kg) to run on every $ 5 million liftoff.
The expensible rocket has so far flew a total of three orbital missions – demonstration flights in May 2017 and January 2018 (called “just one test” and “still testing” respectively) and a virgin commercial mission on November 10th. On the latest flight, called “It’s Business Time”, an Electron delivered six small satellites and a “drag sail” technology demo to low ground.
The 10 cubes that fly on the ELaNa-19 weigh a total of 172 lbs. (78 kilos), said Rocket Lab representatives. The small spacecraft will be inserted into a circular circuit of 310 miles (500 kilometers) of Electron’s “kick-scene”.
The cube rates will gather a variety of scientific data and test different new technologies. One of the spacecraft, for example, measures radiation levels in the near space, and another will demonstrate the expansion and control of a solar sealing system that can ultimately help drive small probes on deep space missions, “said Rocket Lab Representatives. 19659005] “Biennial twice this year, 2018 has made a banner year for Rocket Lab,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck in a statement. ” Finishing with our first launch for NASA is a great way to celebrate the new era with improved access to the path for small satellites. “
Rocket Lab’s three previous flights also doubled the mission name as rocket moniker. But it will change for ELaNa-19, the electron rocket flying the mission is called” This One for Pickering. ” “The moniker honors Sir William Pickering, who led the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1954 to 1976, leading the team who developed Explorer 1, the United States’ first successful satellite. Pickering, born in New Zealand, died in 2004 at the age of 93.
Mike Wall’s book on the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @ michaeldwall . Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.