Rocket Lab successfully launched the Don’t Stop Me Now mission from the company’s launch facility in Mahia New Zealand earlier today. The mission was launched aboard an Electron rocket and carried five small satellites.
The Don’t Stop Me Now mission lifted off from Rocket Lab’s privately-owned launch complex at 05:12:12 UTC on June 13. The two-stage Electron rocket climbed skywards completing its first stage burn approximately three minutes after liftoff. The second stage then ignited pushing the rocket into a stable orbit around Earth.
Once in a stable orbit around Earth, the rocket’s single second stage Rutherford engine shutdown and the Curie kick stage separated successfully. The kick stage then completed a planned 96-second burn to deploy the mission’s five small payloads into a polar orbit. A little more than an hour after liftoff, Rocket Lab confirmed that all five satellites had been deployed.
“All satellites deployed, perfect orbit,” tweeted Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.
Rocket Lab’s live coverage of the launch was concluded following the separation of the Curie kick stage as a portion of the payload was classified. Three of the satellites onboard were designed, built and will be operated by the clandestine US National Reconnaissance Office.
The other payloads launched aboard the Don’t Stop Me Now mission were a pair of technology demonstrators.
The first was the ANDESITE Mule satellite developed by the Boston University Center for Space Physics in partnership with NASA‘s ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) program. The satellite is designed to study small-scale plasma phenomena that occur in aurora (disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind that create vibrant waves of colour in the sky).
The other technology demonstrator launched aboard the Don’t Stop Me Now mission was the M2 Pathfinder. It was developed by students at the University of New South Wales in partnership with the Australian military. The satellite will test communications and reprogrammable software-based radio technology.
This morning’s Don’t Stop Me Now launch is Rocket Lab’s eleventh missions since the maiden Electron lifted off on May 25, 2017. The mission had initially been scheduled to be launched on March 30. However, restrictions caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to postpone the launch.