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Rocket Lab launches satellites, recovers booster in 'Return to Sender' mission
by Paul Brinkmann and Darryl Coote
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 22, 2020

Video: Rocket Lab - Return To Sender Launch

California-based Rocket Lab successfully launched more than two dozen small satellites into space on Thursday night from New Zealand and became just the second company to land an orbital rocket booster in the ocean for reuse.

The Electron rocket lifted off the launch pad early in its launch window, which opened at 8:44 p.m. EST. Rocket Lab later said it was in the process of securing the booster in the Pacific Ocean, and began the process of transporting it back to the production complex by ship.

The New Zealand company also said all 30 small satellites had been delivered to "their precise spots on orbit."

The small launch company joined SpaceX as the only firms to recover the largest part of a rocket for reuse.

The recovery still is largely an experiment because immersion in corrosive seawater is not ideal for rocket reuse, but doing so will help Rocket Lab advance its plan to catch rocket boosters mid-air with a helicopter.

"It will be the first time Rocket Lab has attempted to recover a stage after launch and is a major milestone in Rocket Lab's pursuit to make Electron a reusable rocket to support an increased launch cadence for small satellites," the company said in a description for the "Return to Sender" mission.

The launch includes payload satellites from such companies as Seattle-based gaming giant Valve and Virginia-based launch integration company TriSept Corp., which plans to demonstrate new tether system technology designed to accelerate spacecraft re-entry and reduce orbital debris.

Two satellites on the mission, BRO-2 and BRO-3 from France-based Unseenlabs, will support that company's planned constellation of spacecraft intended to offer improved monitoring of activities at sea, such as illegal fishing and ocean pollution.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Rocket Lab
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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European Vega rocket failed 'because of wire mix-up'
Paris (AFP) Nov 17, 2020
The failure of a European rocket just minutes after lift-off was caused by a production mistake that led to a wiring mix-up and altered the trajectory, its operator said on Tuesday. The Vega, the lightest of Arianespace's three payload rockets, malfunctioned about eight minutes after launch from the space centre at Kourou, in French Guiana in South America, on Monday. It broke up in the atmosphere before falling into the Atlantic Ocean, destroying the two satellites it was carrying, including on ... read more

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