Rocket Lab prepares for first launch mission of 2021
Rocket Lab has announced its first Electron launch of the new year will be a dedicated mission for European space technology company OHB Group.
This dedicated mission, named ‘Another One Leaves the Crust’, is scheduled for lift-off during a 10-day launch window opening on 16 January NZT/UTC. Encapsulated inside Electron’s fairing will be a single communication microsatellite that will enable specific frequencies to support future services from orbit.
The launch will be Rocket Lab’s 18th Electron mission and was procured for OHB Group through OHB Cosmos International Launch Service GmbH, the launch service division of OHB Group. OHB Cosmos is responsible for launching the spacecraft built by the group's satellite manufacturers based in Germany, Sweden and Czech Republic.
The mission will launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula to an initial elliptical orbit, then Electron’s Kick Stage will perform a series of burns with its relightable Curie engine to raise apogee and act as a space tug to deliver the OHB Cosmos’ payload to its precise orbital destination.
Following payload deployment, the Kick Stage will perform a de-orbit burn to lower its perigee where it will experience greater atmospheric drag, enabling it to re-enter and burn up faster to avoid becoming space junk. Rocket Lab will not be attempting to recover Electron’s first stage for this mission.
Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “We’re proud to be delivering a speedy and streamlined path to orbit for OHB Group on this mission, with launch taking place within six months of contract signing. By flying as a dedicated mission on Electron, OHB and their mission partners have control over launch timing, orbit, integration schedule, and other mission parameters.”
‘Another One Leaves the Crust’ is the first mission in a packed launch manifest for 2021, which includes multiple dedicated and rideshare small satellite missions for both government and commercial customers.
This year will also see Rocket Lab launch a Photon mission to the Moon in support of NASA’s CAPSTONE program, and also launch the first missions from Rocket Lab’s two additional launch pads – Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia, and the new Pad B at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.
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