The fourth and last spacecraft in BlackSky’s initial flock of commercial Earth-imaging microsatellites successfully launched Monday aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket with three other payloads, setting the stage for the final assembly and launch of at least 20 more BlackSky orbiting surveillance platforms starting later this year.
TriSept Corp. has announced plans for a commercial technology demonstration mission set for launch next year on a Rocket Lab Electron vehicle to test a deployable conductive tape, made by Tethers Unlimited, that could help small satellites more quickly fall out of orbit at the end of their missions.
Rocket Lab’s next launch from New Zealand, set for Friday, will carry a data recorder to measure the aerothermal environments encountered by the Electron launcher’s first stage during descent back into the atmosphere, information engineers say is crucial to successfully achieving the company’s newly-announced plan to recover and reuse the booster.
A Rocket Lab Electron rocket climbed into orbit from New Zealand Thursday (U.S. time) with an experimental payload for a U.S. military research and development agency to demonstrate the performance of a compact, deployable antenna that could expand the communications capabilities of future small satellites.
Rocket Lab’s launch team canceled a launch attempt Sunday in New Zealand after discovering a misbehaving video transmitter on the Electron booster set to loft a small U.S. military satellite into orbit to test an innovative antenna design. After replacing the transmitter, Rocket Lab announced the launch is set for Thursday (U.S. time) to wait for better weather.