Rocket Lab Aims to Deliver Small Satellites to Moon and Beyond

22 Octobre, 2019, 11:09 | Auteur: Therese Cote

Rocket Lab had kicked off International Astronautical Congress with news which it will start offering the tiny satellite delivery services to the orbits beyond lower Earth orbit and there it is operating now and the service includes delivering the payloads of all the way to Moon.

Rocket Lab's announcement comes as NASA and worldwide partners are looking to increase activity in orbit around the moon, as well as on its surface.

Rocket Lab was founded by 2016 New Zealand entrepreneur of the year Peter Beck, but is now largely United States-owned with investors including missiles and fighter jets manufacturer Lockheed Martin and USA venture capital firms. After reaching orbit, the Curie kick stage deployed six satellites and a drag sail technology demonstrator to capture space junk.

Having successfully sent the payload of its most recent mission, "As The Crow Flies", to an altitude of more than 1,000km, CEO Peter Beck is now eyeing Geostationary or Lunar orbits for the small satellites flung into space by its Electron launcher.

The small-satellite launch startup announced today (Oct. 21) that its new Photon satellite platform will be able to fly small spacecraft on deep-space missions to the moon and beyond.

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The Photon platform was designed with missions beyond Low Earth Orbit in mind, with radiation-hardened electronics and an engine capable of multiple restarts.

Of course, since Photon deals with the communications, avionics and attitude control, that 30kg would be pure payload.

The Electron is capable of sending payloads of 110 kilograms into orbit.

NASA plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, and Rocket Lab sees small satellites playing a major role in that effort.

Such missions would launch from Rocket Lab's Mahia site and its second launch site now under construction on Wallops Island in Virginia, US. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab has delivered 40 satellites to orbit on the Electron launch vehicle, enabling operations in space debris mitigation, Earth observation, ship and airplane tracking, and radio communications. Headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform. Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services, including complete satellite build and launch solutions, that provide rapid, frequent and reliable access to space.

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