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Rocket Lab updates the launch window for the first commercial mission – Spaceflight Now

Stock photo of an Electron rocket. Credit: Rocket Lab

After a two-month delay in resolving a technical problem, Rocket Lab plans to launch its first commercial mission as early as June 22, US time. UU., From the company's rocket base in New Zealand, the company announced on Friday.

Rocket Lab has four-hour launch windows available for a 14-day period extending from June 22 to July 5, US time. UU., With daily opening at 8:30 p.m. M. EDT. That translates to 0030 GMT or 12:30 p.m. New Zealand time the next day.

The company's third privately-developed Electron rocket, and its first fully commercial mission, was due to take off in April, but engineers discovered "unusual behavior" in a motor controller inside one of the impellers. nine first-stage engines, officials at Rocket Lab said.

"The team used the additional time to review the data, identify the cause of the problem and put the corrective measures in place," Rocket Lab said in a statement.

The Electron The rocket will take off from the commercially-operated launch site of Rocket Lab on the Mahia Peninsula on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

Rocket Lab said it took advantage of the two-month delay to add two more charges to the mission, which the company has christened "It's Business Time."

One of the new satellite passengers is Irvine01, an educational CubeSat built by California high school students. Irvine01 is part of the Irvine CubeSat STEM program, which includes members from six high schools in Irvine, California.

The other payload added to the next release of Electron is a drag technology demonstrator called NABEO. Developed by High Performance Space Structure Systems in Germany, the NABEO small satellites mission will prove that a deployable membrane uses aerodynamic drag to brake and deorbit, a capability that could reduce space debris in low Earth orbit.

Rocket Lab said Ecliptic Companies and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems helped accommodate the Irvine01 and NABEO payloads in the Electron mission.

Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, said in a statement that the quick accommodation of the two additional charges demonstrates the company's response capability to change the launch demand.

"The responsive spatial model of Rocket Lab is crucial to support the exponential growth of the small satellite market," said Beck. "That a client can come to us in search of a trip to orbit and that we can book for its launch in weeks is unheard of in the launch business."

"Small satellites play an increasingly important role in providing crucial services that benefit millions of people on Earth." Frequent access to orbit is the key to unlocking the potential of these satellites, and Rocket Lab is the only small launch provider that allows this access. "

The Rocket Lab electron launcher reached orbit for the first time in January, in its second test The test flight of January 20 placed four small satellites in orbit, but the The main objective of the mission was to fly into orbit in May 2017 due to a ground tracking error that led security officers to suspend it prematurely.

to demonstrate electron performance The successful test flight led Rocket Lab officers to declare the launcher ready for commercial service, beginning with their next mission.

The electron amplifier can transport up to 330 pounds (150 kilograms) to a polar orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth. The capacity of the rocket for a lower-altitude orbit is up to 225 kilograms, according to Rocket Lab.

The rocket company, founded in New Zealand and based in southern California, says it can launch an Electron rocket for less more than $ 5 million per flight.

Irvine01 and NABEO payloads will join two CubeSats for Spire Global, and a nanosatellite for GeoOptics that were already reserved in the next release of Electron.

Spire and GeoOptics payloads will measure satellite navigation signals passed through the Earth's atmosphere to obtain weather and climate information.

The flight profile for next month's launch will place the satellites in an orbit that ranges from 155 miles to 310 miles (250 kilometers and 500 kilometers) with an 85-degree tilt, then Electron's Curie kick scenario will circularize orbit, according to Rocket Lab.

The fourth release of Rocket Lab, ready to follow shortly after the next my Ssion, will be dedicated to the launch of CubeSats sponsored by NASA and developed by American research institutions.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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