Rocket Lab Will Execute its 100th Satellite Launch for NASA’s Moon Mission

19th Feb 2021
Rocket Lab Photon Satellite

Rocket Lab is preparing for its 100th satellite launch this March. This launch is a part of the $15.5 million NASA moon mission. The upcoming launch should deploy six satellites with the Photon Satellite and will take place from Rocket Lab’s facility at Māhia Peninsula.

Rocket Lab Satellite Launch for Moon Mission 

Rocket Lab announced the signing of a contract to deploy a satellite into the same orbit as NASA targets for its moon mission last year. The orbit in question will serve as an outpost for astronauts. The Photon will launch six satellites into orbit 550 km away from the Earth’s surface. The seventh satellite will be placed 100 km lower. This device will be placed the last, after Photon reignites its engine. 

According to Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO, such a mission schedule is unique. It offers a chance to execute a commercial satellite launch while moving to another mission — all in a single flight. Fine-tuning the process of multiple missions will ensure higher affordability of all the future missions, saving time and budget necessary for each launch. Beck adds that the way we go to space now is going through a complete transformation. 

The Photon Sat will remain in orbit to ensure proper subsystem functioning before NASA’s moon mission. This will also serve the Private Venus mission by Rocket Lab, scheduled for 2023. The latter implies sending a probe to the Venusian atmosphere. Once the spacecraft releases the probe, it will reach the planet’s surface in approximately 200 seconds.

The goal of this mission is to search for any evidence of life during the probe’s descent. Venusian atmosphere is rich in carbon dioxide, and any data found on this mission will be immediately sent to Earth for analysis. 

To date, Rocket Lab has delivered 97 satellites into calculated orbits. Their first orbital satellite launch occurred in 2018. The company’s rocket Electron is mostly used to deploy communication and earth observation satellites. 

The new mission with the Photon is about sending six different customer payloads. Those are two nanosatellites for the Internet of Things, an EOS, two technology demonstration sats and a weather sat. One satellite launch is for the University of New South Wales, and another for the United States Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command. So, for a relatively young company, Rocket Lab is steadily acquiring new clients. 

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