LONG BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 4, 2022–
Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced that it has successfully deployed a satellite guidance for NASA, putting him on the way to the Moon. The deployment marks the successful completion of Rocket Lab’s first deep space mission, paving the way for the company’s upcoming interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus.
Rocket Lab lunar photon spacecraft with embedded CAPSTONE satellite (Photo: Business Wire)
Owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) will be the first spacecraft to test near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. It is the same orbit intended for The NASA Gateway, an outpost in lunar orbit that will provide critical support for astronauts’ long-term lunar missions as part of the Artemis program.
Rocket Lab’s role in the mission took place in two phases. First, CAPSTONE was successfully launched into low Earth orbit by Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle on June 28. From there, Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon spacecraft provided transportation, power, and in-space communications for CAPSTONE. After six days of orbit elevation burns by Lunar Photon’s 3D-printed HyperCurie engine, CAPSTONE was deployed on its ballistic lunar transfer path to the Moon as scheduled at 07:18 UTC on July 4. The mission was Rocket Lab’s fourth Electron launch this year, demonstrating the rocket’s continued reliability. In addition to securing the launch, Rocket Lab designed, manufactured and operated the Lunar Photon spacecraft, successfully completing a highly complex space mission and demonstrating Rocket Lab’s growing capabilities as an end-to-end space company.
“The CAPSTONE mission marks the beginning of humanity’s return to the Moon through NASA’s Artemis program and we are extremely proud that Rocket Lab has played a key role in it,” said Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. . “The Rocket Lab team has been working on CAPSTONE with NASA and our mission partners for over two years, developing new small satellite technology in the form of the Lunar Photon spacecraft to make this mission possible, so it’s a thrill. amazing after all the hard work and innovation to pull off the mission and get CAPSTONE on the way to the Moon. This was Rocket Lab’s most challenging mission yet and our team was amazing. We pushed Electron and Photon to their limits and proven that it is possible to do large missions with small spacecraft.We will now apply this revolutionary technology for more interplanetary travel, including our upcoming missions to Venus and Mars.
With Rocket Lab’s role in the mission now complete, CAPSTONE’s solo journey to the Moon has begun. CAPSTONE will use its own propulsion and the Sun’s gravity to travel the rest of the way to the Moon, a four-month journey during which CAPSTONE will arrive in its lunar orbit on November 13, 2022. The gravity-driven track will significantly reduce the amount of fuel that the CubeSat needs to get to the Moon. Advanced Space and Terran Orbital will manage the operation of the CAPSTONE satellite throughout its orbital life.
The CAPSTONE mission was Rocket Lab’s 27th Electron launch, but it featured several significant technology firsts for the company, including:
- First deep space mission.
- First use of Lunar Photon, a high-energy variant of the Photon spacecraft designed and built by Rocket Lab. Rocket Lab previously launched and continues to operate two low Earth orbit variants of the Photon spacecraft.
- First collaborative mission between Rocket Lab and Advanced Solutions Inc, a Colorado-based flight software company acquired by Rocket Lab in late 2021.
- First use FR-lite Satellite Radio Rocket Lab has an exclusive license agreement with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for manufacturing.
- First mission where the second stage of Electron was desorbed the same day of the launch.
- First mission of planning and execution of lunar trajectories.
- At 300 kg (661 lb) of payload mass, the mission was Electron’s heaviest lift to date.
CAPSTONE was the first in a series of interplanetary missions for Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft, including the GETAWAY mission to Mars in 2024 and Rocket Lab’s next private mission to Venus.
Advanced Space of Colorado, a leading commercial space solutions company, owns the CAPSTONE satellite and operates the mission. CAPSTONE was designed and built by Terran Orbital. The development of CAPSTONE is supported by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate through the Small Spacecraft Technology Program at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. Advanced Exploration Systems within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Missions Directorate supports launch and mission operations. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch management.
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We provide reliable launch services, satellite manufacturing, spacecraft components and in-orbit management solutions that make getting into space faster, easier and more affordable. Based in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the small Electron orbital launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform and develops the 8-ton Neutron payload-class launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket each year and has delivered 147 satellites into orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling national security operations, scientific research and space debris mitigation. , Earth observation, climate monitoring and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site in New Zealand and a second launch site in Virginia, USA, which is expected to become operational in 2022. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
CONTACT: + Rocket Lab Media Contact
KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CALIFORNIA
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SOURCE: Rocket Lab USA, Inc.
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PUBLISHED: 07/04/2022 04:35 / DISK: 07/04/2022 04:36