Rocket Lab Launches Successful ‘Beginning of the Swarm’ Mission

Rocket Lab successfully launched its 47th overall mission yesterday, known as the “Beginning of the Swarm” mission. The Electron took off at 10:32 am NZT from Launch Complex 1B on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, carrying two small payloads to different orbits. The launch was initially set for 10:15 a.m. NZT but was delayed by 12 minutes due to a ground support system issue.

Following the resolution of the issue, the Electron launched safely from LC-1B. The primary payload was NEONSAT-1 for the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Satellite Technology Research Center, which is the first of an 11-satellite constellation. The secondary payload was NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3).

NEONSAT-1 was deployed into a 520 km circular orbit 50 minutes after lift-off, while ACS3 is intended to test new materials for the deployable sail system. The Electron first stage did not recover, despite featuring a red and silver look usually associated with recovery missions. However, Rocket Lab clarified that these Electrons are now part of the standard production flow as the company moves towards full reusability.

Rocket Lab’s next mission is likely a dedicated launch for Capella Space, which will carry an Acadia synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite. The launch date for this mission is yet to be confirmed.

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