Competitor SpaceX is back. Rocket Lab successfully launched a Japanese satellite into space

SpaceX competitor returns. Rocket Lab successfully launched a Japanese satellite into space

December 15, 21:24 Share:

Electron mission 42 from Rocket Lab (Photo: Screenshot from Rocket Lab video / YouTube)

The Californian company Rocket Lab, after a three-month break, launched its Electron micro- and nanosatellite launch vehicle.. This is the 10th mission this year and the 42nd in the company's history.

Electron was launched from the Rocket Lab launch complex in Mahia, New Zealand, on the night of December 15. The mission marks Electron's return to the skies after a failed launch in September.

“Successfully launched the 42nd Electron rocket and deployed a satellite for a Japanese company. … The mission marked Rocket Lab's tenth Electron launch of the year, breaking the company's previous annual record of nine launches ( in 2022). For the fifth year in a row, Electron retains the title of the second most frequently launched US rocket each year,” Rocket Lab announced..

The rocket-launched iQPS-SAR-5 TSUKUYOMI-I satellite, which was named after the Japanese moon god, is a synthetic aperture radar ( SAR), which will collect high-resolution images of the Earth. This satellite joins another iQPS satellite that is already in orbit. Together they are part of a planned constellation of 36 satellites capable of tracking Earth every 10 minutes.

During the last mission, the Rocket Lab rocket passed the moment of greatest aerodynamic load and reached stage separation. However, approximately two minutes and 30 seconds after launch, Electron experienced a problem that resulted in a malfunction and the loss of the radar satellite it was carrying.. The exact cause of the problem was never announced. At the end of October, the US Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA) has given Rocket Lab permission to launch its Electron rocket again.

Before this failure, Electron had a streak of 20 consecutive successful launches. The launch vehicle is the second most commonly used rocket in the United States, delivering government and private payloads. The company is seeking to move closer to its main industry rival SpaceX, whose Falcon 9 launch vehicle makes dozens of operations a year.

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