Rocket Lab’s Electron flies from new pad in New Zealand
In Rocket Lab’s inaugural launch from a new pad, the company’s Electron rocket orbited a small satellite for Synspective.
Liftoff occurred at 3:37 p.m. EST (20:37 UTC) Feb. 28, 2022, from Launch Complex 1B at New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. It was the 24th overall launch for the Electron rocket and the first in 2022.
Electron is 59 feet (18 meters) tall and 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) wide. It consists of two stages and a kick stage.
For this mission, called “The Owl’s Night Continues,” Rocket Lab sent the first of three satellites into space for Synspective. The other two missions are slated for later this year and in 2023.
The satellite deployed during this flight was called StriX-β. It’s a synthetic aperture radar satellite that is expected to be part of a planned constellation of more than 30 spacecraft.
According to Rocket Lab, the constellation is designed to “collate data of metropolitan centers on a daily basis to support urban development planning, construction and infrastructure monitoring and disaster response.”
After a roughly 9-minute ascent, a kick stage with the spacecraft separated and coasted for about 40 minutes.
Some 49 minutes after leaving New Zealand, the kick stage’s engine ignited for nearly 3 minutes to place the satellite into its final orbit — a 350-mile (560-kilometer) circular orbit with an inclination of about 97 degrees. StriX-β was deployed about a minute later.
Videos courtesy of Rocket Lab
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity.