At its first launch at night, Rocket Electron reinforcement rose to Sunday Orbit from New Zealand with a trio of small military charge loads, demonstrating the privately developed rocket capacity to help meet the growing demand of the Air Force. for launching a small boat.
Standing 55 feet (17 meters) tall, the two-stage rock rocket lit nine Rutherford's main engines at 0600 GMT (2 am. EDT) on Sunday and was fired from the Rocket Lab commercial launch center on New Zealand.
The satellite carried three small satellites, ranging from side to side from a tissue box to a small refrigerator, for the US Air Force and Army Space and Missile Protection Order. He managed the Space Test Program, a unit that has been located in Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico which provides access to space for military experiments, the multi-satellite launch with Rocket Lab.
Sunday's mission was the first by Rocket Lab for the Air Force.
Going east over the Pacific Ocean shortly after sunset in New Zealand, the all-black carbon-black electronics launcher closed its first-stage machines about two and a half minutes into the plane, and he dropped the fortification to fall into the sea.
One machine Rutherford had fired on the second phase of the Electron to give three small pay shifts the mission into an introductory transfer orbit about nine minutes into the plane. Curie's upper stage rocket was separated a few seconds later, starting for a nearly three-minute burning start on T + and 49 minutes to give three mission wage shifts into a 310-mile orbit (500 kilometers) and To target with bias. from 40 degrees to the equator.
The Rocket Lab live webcast came to an end before the Curie kick stage, but Peter Beck, the company's founder and CEO, confirmed the successful move and the three satellite load shots in tweets.
“Perfect flight, complete mission success, all wage loads used!” Beck tweeted.
Rocket Lab planned to launch the mission on Saturday, but officers delayed the launch to carry out additional checks on the payloads. Total mission load weight – about 400 pounds (180 kilograms) – was the heaviest launch by Rocket Lab so far.
The largest of the satellites launched on Sunday is Harbinger.
After its construction by York Space Systems in Denver, Harbinger's mission is sponsored by Space Army U. and a Missile Defense Order. The spacecraft is about 330-pound (150-kilograms) hosts several pays demonstration technology, including synthetic opening radar for Earth-all-weather observations and high-rate communication connection to transfer the images radar to consumers on the ground.
Harbinger's satellite radar imaging tool comes from ICEYE, a company of Finland who has built and launched its own small observation commercial observation cameras. The imaging load load on Harbinger “provides commercial access to timely and reliable Earth observation data and can regularly visualize any location on Earth, day or night, regardless of cloud cover. , ”According to the Army factsheet on the mission.
A fast laser communication terminal on Harbinger from BridgeSat will connect the radar images, showing fast data collection capability that could be used by tactical military forces on the battlefield.
Harbinger was joined at the launch of Electron by two CuoSats demo technology of the name SPARC-1 and Falcon ODE.
CubeSat-1, Space Plug and Play Architecture Research – about the size of a brief bag – is a joint U-Sweden military research nanosatellite.
SPARC-1 will test miniaturized avionics, a radio system defined by software, and a visible camera. Sponsor U. the mission is the RAF Research Laboratory, which developed the mission in partnership with the Swedish Ministry of Materiel Defense.
CubeSat's main contractor of the six units was ÅAC Microtecs, a small Swedish manufacturer.
The smallest load load launched on Sunday was the Falcon Orbital Falcon Experiment, CubeSat one slightly larger unit than Rubik's cub. The Falcon ODE spacecraft, developed at the US Air Force Academy, will release two stainless steel ball bearings in orbit, which will become calibration targets for ground space surveillance radar.
The Air Force ordered a Sunday mission with Rocket Lab, which was designated a STP-27RD by the Space Test Program, in 2017 under the Soldiers Fast Launch Initiative, or RALI program.
Mission STP-27RD was the first for the RALI program, which procured launch services from commercial providers to offer military satellites faster to orbit.
Air Force officials last month said the five RALI launches were planned before the end of 2019, including the STP-27RD mission with the Rocket Labs Electron launcher and an aircraft on Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne later in the year. The five tours, including Sunday's STP-27RD launch, will provide access to space for 21 research and development satellites, according to Lt Col. Andrew Anderson, main branch of the DOD Space Test Program.
RALI tours “will give DoD experiments on orbit and show new launch vehicles from new commercial providers,” Anderson told reporters in a conference call last month.
Sunday Launch was the sixth trip of Rocket Electron Rocket Lab since 2017, and the second year this year. Rocket Lab, which has its headquarters in the United States with factories in Southern California and Auckland, New Zealand, aims to launch for one mission a month through the rest of 2019, resulting in a fortnightly cadence by the end of the year.
A Rocket Lab raises less than $ 7 million for its launch, and LauncherOne Virgin Orbit, which has not yet flown and will drop from a carrier jet in the air, sells for about $ 12 million per flight.
The two price points are a fraction of the cost of launching a larger rocket. Smatsats usually ride on larger boosters flying as second class payloads, with orbits and timetables driven by the needs of a higher priority spacecraft on the same route.
“We see a lot of effort for our small service providers launching this enterprise class,” said Col. Bernard Brining, director of the Space Test Program. “We value the Space Test Program. As director, I can get many (more) wage loads on orbit at very low cost. ”
A number of companies – over 100, count some – are developing small light class satellite launchers, but Rocket Lab is the first of a new generation of commercial companies to appear in an orbital class rocket.
The wave of new small private boat launching companies has left many in the industry thinking how many will survive fundraising challenges, technical development, and a constantly evolving market.
“I think the market is still shaking here, and we're trying to get involved,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of the enterprise systems launch directorate at the Air Force Space and Missile Center. “And if the market supports a lot (companies), we support contracts for a lot because… that's going to be very useful for us to have our necessary national security loads to the space in the classroom. small launch. ”
So far, most of the soldiers' small satellites have been experimental. In the future, a small spacecraft could play more vital roles in communication missions, navigation, and US military surveillance.
“Although many of the small satellites we have launched so far have been research and development satellites, this will change in the future,” said Bongiovi.
“What we would like to see… is the ability to start using them not only for experimental launches, which we will continue to do, but also for active prototypes, and active systems at the end over, ”said Bongiovi. “I think there is a lot to say (about) these smaller launch vehicles on their ability to provide some of the resilience that we are all going to need.” T
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