Rocket Lab Is Back, Aces U.S. Space Force Monolith Satellite Launch

Rocket Lab Electron rocket preparing for take off at the company's New Zealand launch site 7 photos
Photo: Rocket Lab via Youtube
Rocket Lab Electron rocketRocket Lab Electron rocketRocket Lab Electron rocketRocket Lab Electron rocketRocket Lab Electron rocketRocket Lab Electron rocket
Space service provider Rocket Lab launched today, July 29th, a research and development satellite to low Earth orbit for the U.S. Space Force (USSF). This marks the first successful mission since mid-May when its Electron rocket encountered an anomaly with the second-stage ignition system.
The launch took place at 2 a.m. EDT, and it was the first since Rocket Lab reported an issue with Electron's second stage on May 15th. At the time, the ignition system had shut down too early, and that resulted in the failure of the "Running Out of Toes" flight, which was supposed to send two BlackSky satellites into orbit.

After getting the green light from the FAA in June, the company is back. This morning, the two-stage Electron took off from Rocket Lab's New Zealand launch site, which is located in the North Island's Mahia Peninsula. It launched with the Monolith satellite for the U.S. Space Force.

Sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the satellited was deployed 53 minutes after take-off and reached its target orbit at 370 miles (600 kilometers) above Earth.

According to Rocket Lab, once in orbit, Monolith will investigate and "demonstrate the usage of a deployable sensor, where the sensor's mass is a substantial fraction of the total mass of the spacecraft, changing the spacecraft's dynamic properties and testing ability to maintain spacecraft attitude control."

The analysis of a deployable sensor will help with the use of smaller satellite buses when designing future deployable sensors such as weather satellites. It will also aid with decreasing the cost, complexity of the missions, thus speeding up the development.

Called "It's a Little Chile Up Here" (after the green chile of New Mexico, where the Space Test Program is based), today's mission was a success. The flight marked Rocket Lab's fourth launch for the year and the company's 21st Electron flight altogether.

On future missions, Rocket Lab hopes to re-fly selected components from the recovered first stage of the rocket. The company plans to conduct its third recovery mission later this year.

This morning's launch was broadcast on RocketLab's official channels. You can rewatch the stream in the video below.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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