New Zealand-based launch provider Rocket Lab has successfully performed their second orbital launch. The mission, dubbed “It’s Business Time”, deployed seven individual payloads for a number of commercial customers.
The Electron rocket blasted off from Rocket Lab’s Māhia Peninsula LC-1 launchpad at 03:50 UTC (16:50 local time) on November 11. Following a successful launch, Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck confirmed on Twitter that all seven payloads had been deployed successfully noting, “Perfect flight. Orbital accuracy was exquisite.”
In addition to commercial payloads for Spire Global, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Fleet Space Technologies and the Irvine CubeSat Stem Program, “It’s Business Time” also carried an experimental drag sail technology demonstrator.
The NABEO demonstrator was developed and built by High Performance Space Structure Systems GmbH (HPS GmbH) in Germany. It was developed to deorbit small satellites to combat space junk. The system uses a large surface area to slow and passively de-orbit satellites which then burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The German satellite company are not the only ones working on systems to reduce space junk. In September, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd testing their RemoveDEBRIS system. Utilising a net, the system captured a target CubeSat. During an operational mission, RemoveDEBRIS would then drag the target satellite into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Although preparations for “It’s Business Time” suffered several delays, Rocket Lab is set to return to their Māhia Peninsula launch facility again before the end of the year. “We have a burgeoning customer manifest, so we’re moving onto the next mission within a few weeks – the incredibly exciting ELaNa 19 mission for NASA in December,” said Beck in a press release published following Sunday’s launch. The mission will include the deployment of 10 CubeSats for various NASA departments and partners.