Science

Rocket Lab launches radar satellite into orbit as part of 30th Electron mission

Rocket Lab’s 30th Elektron rocket detected a satellite radar flying into Earth orbit on Thursday (September 15).

The Electron booster lifted off from New Zealand’s Rocket Lab site on the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island on Thursday at 4:38 pm EDT (20:38 GMT, or 8:38 local time on Friday, September 16).

A live feed of the Strix-1 satellite launch by Synspective showed the rocket flying into the blue sky, with no technical issues reported during launch or during the countdown. Since the launch window was instantaneous, everything had to go well for the mission to continue.

Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photo)

close-up of a rocket engine above the ground

A close-up of Rocket Lab’s 30th Elektron rocket that carries the Synspective radar satellite, the 150th Rocket Lab mission spacecraft, into orbit on September 15, 2022. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Thursday’s mission is called “The Owl Spreads Its Wings”, a reference to the Strix-1 payload. (The Strix is ​​a diverse and widespread genus of owls.)

“Strix-1 is the first commercial Synspective satellite for a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite constellation that provides images capable of detecting millimeter-level changes in the Earth’s surface from space, regardless of the weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day. at night,” Rocket Lab representatives wrote in the mission description. (will open in a new tab).

Rocket Lab also successfully raised Strix satellites for Synspective in December 2020 and February 2022. These missions were also named with an owl theme.

Rocket Lab officials called the launch a milestone: Thursday’s mission was Rocket Lab’s 30th Electron launch, delivering its 150th satellite into space and firing its 300th Rutherford engine.

The flight also follows Rocket Lab’s successful launch of NASA’s CAPSTONE probe to the Moon. In addition, the company intends to send one or more life-search missions to Venus in the coming years.

Rocket Lab plans to make the Electron first stage fully reusable, and on May 2 successfully launched a booster recovered (and accidentally sunk in the ocean) by a helicopter during a mission called “There and Back Again.”

However, the company did not try to recover from Thursday’s launch, and the Electron’s first stage naturally failed after the engine shutdown.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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