Rocket Lab has successfully launched three experimental satellites for the US Department of Defense (DOD) aboard an Electron rocket. The mission, which was designated STP-27RD was the launch provider’s second of 2019 with the last lifting off less than two weeks earlier.
“It’s a testament to our team and mission partners that Electron has placed another three satellites in orbit, just weeks after our flawless mission for DARPA,” says Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck.
The Electron rocket carrying the DOD satellites was launched from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 06:00 UTC (18:00 local time) yesterday. Approximately 54 minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s Kick Stage successfully deployed all three payloads into their designated orbits.
The three satellites launched as part of STP-27RD were part of the DOD’s Space Test Program, an initiative that aims to demonstrate advanced space technologies. Among the three payloads was the Falcon Orbital Debris Experiment (Falcon ODE). The satellite was developed by the United States Air Force Academy to evaluate news way of tracking space debris utilising ground-based tracking.
Just over a year since launching its first commercial payload, Rocket Lab has launched and successfully deployed 28 satellites. The California-based launch provider hopes to build on that tally quickly with a schedule of at least one launch a month for the rest of the year.