Rocket Lab’s Electron Rocket Launch Demonstrates Successful Kickstage Tests6th Feb 2021
The latest Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launch demonstrated a successful performance of the carrier’s kick stage. On 20th January 2021, the company launched a German satellite built by OHB Group into a circular orbit. While the company is a trusted and established launch provider already, this mission has been something entirely new for Rocket Lab.
Details on Rocket Lab’s Launch for OHB Group
Even though both Rocket Lab and OHB Groups were pretty silent about the latest mission’s details, some facts have been released to the public. A recent Electron rocket launch sent a communications satellite into a circular orbit, 1200 km high. According to Peter Beck, the company CEO, this mission was unique up to date, as most previous launches dealt with altitudes of 500 km. So, now their carrier’s kick stage needed to fire the engine twice to make this launch a success. The kick stage carried twice the number of propellant tanks to achieve the set goals.
The latest Electron rocket launch happened six months after signing a launch contract with OHB Group. This is a very fast timeframe for providing launch services and a key feature of how the company operates. Peter Beck is very specific about offering one-of-a-kind service responsiveness that is very hard to replicate.
Rocket Lab believes that this service responsiveness gives their company a competitive edge over other launch providers, both large and small. The company claims to have many return customers, which is a sure indicator of top-notch service provision.
Kickstage testing was one of the planned milestones for 2021. The next rideshare mission is scheduled for March and will deliver the company’s Photon satellite along with other payloads. Photon is part of a larger mission as well. It will be used as a translunar injection stage for NASA’s CAPSTONE mission to the moon. It is not yet clear when this mission will be launched as the schedule depends on the final certification from NASA. However, Rocket Lab is optimistic about this collaboration opportunity and continues working on fine-tuning its operations.
Later this year, Rocket Lab plans to open a second launch pad in New Zealand. The second quarter of the year will become another important milestone for the Electron rocket launch and the attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket.