Rocket Lab Electron launches NASA’s multi-cubesat mission

by | Dec 17, 2018 | commercial launch services, Launches, Satellites

Rocket Lab launched its Electron launch vehicle at 0633 GMT on 15 December 2018 from its Mahia Peninsula launch site in New Zealand.  The launch carried 13 cubesat class spacecraft for NASA totalling 83kg by mass.There were launched under its Educational Launch of Nanosats (ELaNa) funding programme, but was procured from Rocket lab under its Venture Class Launch Services programme. The launch carried the optional Curie upper stage attached to the standard Electron’s first two stages and flew to a near polar 500km orbit inclined at 85 degrees relative to the equator.

The satellites carried included ALBus – a test of a new electrical bus, AEROCUBE 11 aka TOM R-CUBED (remote sensing satellite/technology test satellite) and AEROCUBE 11A aka TOMSAT EAGLE SCOUT (Imaging satellite), CeREs (Compact Radiation Belt Explorer), CHOMPTT (CubeSat Handling Of Multisystem Precision Time Transfer), CUBESAILS 1 & 2 (Tethered), Da Vinci (Student satellite), SHFT-1 (HF radio astronomy satellite), SHIELDS (space radiation testing of components), RSAT-P (test of robot arms), ISX (Ionospheric Scintillation Explorer), STF 1 (Simulation to Flight 1 – technology test satellite), NMTSAT (Space Weather effect on components),

The Electron rocket’s fairing sports NASA’s logo on its first NASA mission. Courtesy: Rocketlab

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