Paris, 3 November 2020. – Rocket Lab prepares to launch and deploy 30 small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with its next, upcoming Electron mission, the Long-Beach/California-based space systems company announced.
The mission will feature payloads from the United States, France and New Zealand and is scheduled to lift off from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand Māhia Peninsula launch complex, the company said. It will be Rocket Lab’s 16th Electron launch and the company’s most diverse mission yet; the 14-day launch window opens on 15 November.
Electron will loft 30 satellites to a sun-synchronous orbit at 500 km altitude, Rocket Lab said. Each satellite will be deployed to a unique orbit thanks to Rocket Lab’s Kick Stage which acts like a space tug, it said.
The company will also put a 3D-printed gaming icon, Gnome Chompski, from the award-winning Weta Workshop design studio on the Kick Stage, Rocket Lab said, “as an homage to the innovation and creativity of gamers worldwide, and … to test and qualify a novel 3D printing technique”.
“(W) e’re excited to provide tailored access to space for 30 satellites on this mission,” Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO Peter Beck said. “(W)e created the Kick Stage to enable custom orbits on every mission, and eliminate the added complexity, time, and cost of having to develop your own spacecraft propulsion or using a third-party space tug.”
In September, Exolaunch’s “Wanderlust” (Desire to Travel) rideshare mission gave a first example of an advanced in-space transportation of different payloads to their specific orbits. Exolaunch is planning a 30-satellite rideshare mission with SpaceX for later this year.