Rocket Lab Launches 30 Satellites, First Stage Parachutes into Ocean

An Electron first stage descends under parachute. “My new favourite image of 2020,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab launched 30 satellites into orbit from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on Friday. For the first time, the company recovered the Electron rocket’s first stage.

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Rocket Lab to Launch Most Diverse Mission Yet

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)
  • The mission will deploy 30 satellites to unique orbits using the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage space tug
  • The satellites will enable internet from space, test new methods of deorbiting space debris, and enable research into predicting earthquakes
  • The launch will also feature a 3D printed mass simulator for Valve’s Gabe Newell to raise funds for Starship Children’s Hospital

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 2, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Leading space systems company, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission will feature a diverse range of payloads from the United States, France and New Zealand.

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CubeSat Mission to Test Snap-proof Solar Sail Tether

Interweaved_tether_for_e-sail
Interweaved tether for an ‘e-sail’. (Credit: ESA)

ESA PR — Space tethers hold intriguing potential for satellite manoeuvring, attitude control and even power generation. But about half of all orbital tether tests have either failed to deploy or snapped, probably due to micrometeoroid impacts.This scanning electron microscope image shows the new design of an ultra-thin and hopefully snap-proof solar sail tether soon to be tested on Estonia’s ESTCube-1, which is being launched into orbit along with ESA’s Proba-V satellite on the next Vega rocket in April. Harnessing manufacturing techniques from the microelectronics industry, this aluminium tether measures just 50 micrometres across – across half the diameter of the average human hair – with a smaller 25 micrometre wire interweaved onto it. (more…)