Rocket Lab ESCAPADE mission using Photon spacecraft gets green light from NASA8th Sep 2021
NASA has officially approved rocket Lab ESCAPADE mission on 23rd August. Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers mission, lead by the University of California, will use two Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft to orbit around Mars and study its structure.
Rocket Lab ESCAPADE Mission Goals and Details
ESCAPADE is one of the three Mars exploration missions approved by NASA. Its main goal is to study the red planet’s unique magnetosphere and understand Mars’ structure, composition, and variability. An equally important goal is to improve solar storm predictions further to help manned crews with moon missions like Artemis.
As to Rocket Lab ESCAPADE mission, the company will launch two Photon spacecraft into elliptical Mars orbits. The spacecraft will stay there for 11 months, collecting valuable data for further scientific analysis. Both spacecraft will incorporate proprietary satellite subsystems designed and manufactured by Rocket Lab. The latter include trackers, reaction wheels, and deep-space transceivers. Most importantly, Rocket Lab’s implementation of vertical space technologies will ensure lower mission cost in comparison to traditional interplanetary missions.
After NASA’s approval of Rocket Lab ESCAPADE mission earlier this August, the company announced proceeding with the final Photon designs and moving to manufacture.
Rocket Lab CEO’s Comment on Mission Approval
According to Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck, ESCAPADE is an innovative mission that can help explore other planets at a fraction of the cost of traditional interplanetary missions. Beck stresses that the company is proud to be a part of this major milestone in space exploration, advancing deep space science further. He adds that the entire team is delighted to get a green light from NASA.
As a reminder, Rocket Lab ESCAPADE mission is not the only one to use Photon spacecraft, already employed in NASA’s Artemis and CAPSTONE programmes.