Murielle excited for 23rd Launch
At 7:02 p.m. EST (1:02 p.m. local NZ time), a Rocket Lab Electron launcher carrying two commercial Earth observation spacecraft lifted off from the company’s New Zealand site.
“And we’re off!” “Our 23rd Electron launch vehicle is off the pad and on its way to space for this mission, and it is making good progress toward low Earth orbit,” Murielle said. He is Rocket Lab communications advisor Murielle Baker, and he was watching the launch live on the internet.
The mission, dubbed “A Data With Destiny” by Rocket Lab, launched the 11th and 12th “Gen-2” satellites for the BlackSky constellation.
“BlackSky combines high-resolution images captured by its microsatellite constellation with its own Spectra AI software platform.” They intend to provide analytics and insights to government clients and industries such as transportation, infrastructure, land use, and supply chain management.
If everything goes as planned, the two BlackSky satellites will be deployed approximately 270 miles (430 kilometers) above Earth one hour after liftoff.
“A Data With Destiny” is Rocket Lab’s sixth Electron launch of 2021 and the 23rd overall for the 59-foot-tall (18-meter) rocket, which provides dedicated rides to space for small satellites.
The most recent Electron mission, launched on November 17, also carried two BlackSky Gen-2 satellites. Rocket Lab recovered the Electron’s first stage during that successful flight. Soon after liftoff, it came down for a controlled, parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
Details of the Launch
The recovery work is part of Rocket Lab’s effort to make Electron’s first stage reusable, a change that the company claims will increase launch rates and save money for both it and its customers.
The ultimate reuse plan calls for a helicopter to pluck falling boosters from the sky, and Rocket Lab’s Nov. 17 launch was a significant step toward that goal. They used a chopper to track the sliding stage and rehearsal the communications that would be crucial and used during a catch attempt.
According to Rocket Lab representatives, there will be no attempt at recovery during “A Data With Destiny.”
“A Data With Destiny” was Rocket Lab’s third launch under a multi-launch agreement signed with BlackSky earlier this year, and the first contracted mission. It failed to deliver two Gen-2 satellites into orbit after being launched on May 15. The Electron suffered an anomaly in its upper stage engine igniter system, resulting in the loss of both spacecraft (though the booster’s first stage did perform a planned soft splashdown and was recovered).
The “Love At First Insight” mission, which took place on November 17, successfully delivered the two satellites to their desired orbit.