Rocket Lab has successfully returned its Electron rocket to service with the launch of the Sequoia Earth observation satellite for Capella Space.
The fourteenth Electron mission (dubbed ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical’) was launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 03:05 UTC on 31 August 2020. Following a successful launch, Rocket Lab confirmed on Twitter that the payload had been deployed into low Earth orbit successfully adding, “It was a good day to go to space.”
The ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical’ mission was the first launched aboard an Electron rocket since the loss of seven satellites in early July.
The ‘Pics Or It Didn’t Happen’ mission was launched on July 4 and initially appeared to be going smoothly. Just under six minutes into the flight, the livestream abruptly froze and did not return. The livestreamed broadcast ended without any indication of the fate of the mission. Over an hour later, Rocket Lab confirmed on Twitter that the mission had failed.
Despite the loss, Rocket Lab quickly completed an investigation and were back at the pad in less than two months.
“I’m also immensely proud of the team, their hard work, and dedication in returning Electron to the pad safely and quickly,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.
The Capella Space Sequoia Earth observation satellite deployed this morning is the company’s “first publicly available satellite in orbit.” It will provide publicly available data of the US, South East Asia, Europe, and Africa. According to Capella Space, the synthetic aperture radar satellite is capable of detecting “sub-0.5 meter changes to Earth’s surface.”