A Description of Rocket Lab’s Mission to Venus

Figure 1. Rocket Lab’s Electron-launched private mission to Venus will deploy a small probe from a high-energy Photon.

Originally published by MDPI Open Access Journals

Rocket Lab Mission to Venus

by Richard French 1,*,Christophe Mandy 1,Richard Hunter 1,Ehson Mosleh 1,Doug Sinclair 1,Peter Beck 1,Sara Seager 2,3,4,Janusz J. Petkowski 2,Christopher E. Carr 5,David H. Grinspoon 6,Darrel Baumgardner 7,8 and on behalf of the Rocket Lab Venus Team †1

Rocket Lab, 3881 McGowen Street, Long Beach, CA 90808, USA
2 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
3 Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
4 Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
5 School of Aerospace Engineering and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
6 Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
7 Droplet Measurement Technologies, LLC, 2400 Trade Centre Ave, Longmont, CO 80503, USA
8 Cloud Measurement Solutions, LLC, 415 Kit Carson Rd., Unit 7, Taos, NM 87571, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Collaborators/Membership of the Group/Team Name is provided in the Acknowledgments.

Academic Editor: Pierre Rochus
Aerospace 20229(8), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace9080445
Received: 21 July 2022 / Revised: 10 August 2022 / Accepted: 11 August 2022 / Published: 13 August 2022|
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Search for Signs of Life on Venus: Science Objectives and Mission Designs)

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Abstract

Regular, low-cost Decadal-class science missions to planetary destinations will be enabled by high-ΔV small spacecraft, such as the high-energy Photon, and small launch vehicles, such as Electron, to support expanding opportunities for scientists and to increase the rate of science return. The Rocket Lab mission to Venus is a small direct entry probe planned for baseline launch in May 2023 with accommodation for a single ~1 kg instrument. A backup launch window is available in January 2025. The probe mission will spend about 5 min in the Venus cloud layers at 48–60 km altitude above the surface and collect in situ measurements. We have chosen a low-mass, low-cost autofluorescing nephelometer to search for organic molecules in the cloud particles and constrain the particle composition.

Keywords: VenusRocket Labautofluorescing nephelometersmall spacecraftsmall launch vehicle

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Rocket Lab to Launch 150th Satellite on Upcoming Mission for Synspective

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) today announced its upcoming 30th Electron launch will deliver its 150th payload and 300th Rutherford engine to space. The mission is a dedicated launch for Japanese Earth-imaging satellite constellation operator Synspective.

“The Owl Spreads Its Wings” mission is scheduled to lift-off from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand during a launch window opening in mid-September. The mission is the second of a bulk buy of three Electron launches by Synspective to deliver their StriX satellites to low Earth orbit. StriX-1 is Synspective’s first commercial satellite for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation to deliver imagery that can detect millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space, independent of weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day or night. “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” will be Rocket Lab’s third mission for Synspective after successful launches in December 2020 and February 2022.

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Rocket Lab’s MAX Flight Software Surpasses 50th Mission Milestone

The revolutionary off-the-shelf flight software has now enabled more than 50 missions on orbit

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA, Inc. PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, achieved a major milestone in Q2 with its MAX Flight Software now operating on 53 spacecraft, for a cumulative 161 years in space.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Launches First of Two Responsive Space Missions for the National Reconnaissance Office

Lift-off of the NROL-162 national security mission for the National Reconnaissance Office on Electron from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1. (Photo: Business Wire)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has successfully launched the first of two responsive space missions for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

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Rocket Lab Introduces Responsive Space Program

The program will on-ramp customers by creating tailored responsive launch and satellite development solutions, granting them access to Rocket Lab’s rapid, 24-hour call up launch service and rapid satellite build capability

All black rocket on pad with the words “Electron” in white vertically down the rocket with blue skies and wispy clouds in the background. (Credits: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA, Inc. PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has today announced it is introducing a Responsive Space Program designed to on-ramp commercial and government satellite operators to the Company’s 24/7 rapid call-up launch capability and streamlined satellite build and operation options.

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CAPSTONE Satellite, Designed and Built by Terran Orbital, Successfully Deploys from Rocket Lab Lunar Photon into Lunar Transfer Orbit

CAPSTONE approaches Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (Image Credit: Terran Orbital Corporation)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the successful deployment of the CAPSTONE spacecraft from a Rocket Lab Lunar Photon into a Lunar Transfer Orbit. Terran Orbital designed, built, and integrated Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, otherwise known as CAPSTONE, and is flying a pathfinding mission to the moon in support of NASA’s historic Artemis program. With deployment complete, Terran Orbital will now commence the satellite’s mission operations. CAPSTONE is owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA.

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Rocket Lab Moon Mission for NASA a Success as CAPSTONE Heads for the Moon

Credit: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab successfully deploys CAPSTONE satellite to lunar transfer orbit for NASA, charting a new path to the Moon. CAPSTONE is testing a never-before-flown orbit of the Moon and is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program

LONG BEACH, Calif., July 4, 2022 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced it has successfully deployed a pathfinding satellite for NASA, setting it on a course to the Moon.  The deployment marks the successful completion of Rocket Lab’s first deep space mission, paving the way for the Company’s upcoming interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus. 

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Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch CAPSTONE Mission to the Moon for NASA

Rocket Lab will launch a microwave oven-sized CubeSat dubbed CAPSTONE to a never-before-flown orbit around the Moon, blazing a new efficient deep space route that NASA hopes to use for future human spaceflight missions

Electron Launch Vehicle at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 for the NASA CAPSTONE lunar mission. (Image Credit: Business Wire)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA, Inc. PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, is preparing to launch a satellite to the Moon for NASA as early as June 27th.

The launch will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The launch window opens 09:50 UTC on June 27th (21:50 NZST, June 27th). Back-up opportunities are available through July 27th to accommodate potential weather or technical delays to the launch.

Designed and built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Corporation, and owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat will be the first spacecraft to test the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. Researchers expect this orbit to be a gravitational sweet spot in space – where the pull of gravity from Earth and the Moon interact to allow for a nearly-stable orbit – allowing physics to do most of the work of keeping a spacecraft in orbit around the Moon. NASA has big plans for this unique type of orbit. The agency hopes to park bigger spacecraft – including the lunar-orbiting space station Gateway – in an NRHO around the Moon, providing astronauts with a base from which to descend to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.

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Rocket Lab selected by Ball Aerospace to Power NASA’s GLIDE Spacecraft

Rocket Lab will supply the Solar Array Panel (SAP) for the GLIDE Heliophysics mission.

Electron launches on May 3, 2022. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has been selected by Ball Aerospace to manufacture the Solar Array Panel (SAP) to power NASA’s Global Lyman-Alpha Imager of Dynamic Exosphere (GLIDE) mission spacecraft planned to launch in 2025. GLIDE is a heliophysics mission intended to study variability in Earth’s atmosphere.

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Varda Space Industries Orders Fourth Photon Spacecraft from Rocket Lab to Enable In-Space Manufacturing

Photon system (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The order for the Photon spacecraft, designed and manufactured by Rocket Lab, follows a previous bulk-order by Varda for three Photons to enable manufacture of high-value products in space and return to Earth

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, and Varda Space Industries (“Varda”), the world’s first In-space manufacturing and hypersonic Earth re-entry logistics company, today announced that Varda will procure a fourth Photon spacecraft. The deal follows on a previous bulk-order by Varda in August 2021 for three Photon spacecraft from Rocket Lab.

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NASA, Partners to Host CAPSTONE Prelaunch Media Teleconference

CAPSTONE (Credit: Terran Orbital)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference with partners Advanced Space and Rocket Lab at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25, in advance of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) launch, scheduled for no earlier than Tuesday, May 31. The teleconference audio will be livestreamed on NASA’s website.

Participants will discuss and answer questions about CAPSTONE launch preparations, its technology demonstrations, and how CAPSTONE will serve as a pathfinder for Gateway and future Artemis missions.  

The teleconference participants include:

  • Christopher Baker, Small Spacecraft Technology program executive, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate
  • Bradley Cheetham, Advanced Space CEO/principal investigator, CAPSTONE
  • Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO
  • Nujoud Merancy, chief, Exploration Mission Planning Office, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston

The microwave oven-size CubeSat will serve as the first spacecraft to test a unique lunar orbit that has never been flown before. The orbit, formally known as a near rectilinear halo orbit, is an elongated orbit located at a precise balance point between the gravities of Earth and the Moon. CAPSTONE will help reduce risk of future long-term deep space missions – like the Moon-orbiting outpost Gateway – by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this orbit. 

For more information about CAPSTONE, visit:

https://go.nasa.gov/3PteW7P

Rocket Lab Reports Increased Revenue From Space Systems, $26.7 Million First Quarter Net Loss

Electron launches on May 3, 2022. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab reported a $26.7 million first quarter loss on revenues of $40.7 million, with space systems such as satellites producing the majority of revenues rather than the launches for which the company is best known. Adjusted EBITDA loss for the quarter was $7.98 million.

Rocket Lab earned $34.1 million in revenues from space systems. That amount represented 84% of first quarter revenues, an increase of 1,873 percent from the first quarter of 2021.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Deploys 34 Satellites and Catches Rocket Booster Returning from Space with Helicopter

Electron launches on May 3, 2022. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif., May 2, 2022 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has successfully launched its 26th Electron mission, deploying 34 satellites to orbit. Rocket Lab has now deployed a total of 146 satellites to orbit with the Electron launch vehicle.

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