Written by Reuters
16 Dec, 2018 | 4:41 pm
Reuters – Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded rocket propulsion company, launched a batch of 13 tiny probes from its New Zealand pad into low earth orbit to study space on Sunday (December 16).
The Electron rocket lifted off from the world’s only private orbital launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula, carrying a payload of 10cm cube-shaped research satellites.
The tiny satellites are called “CubeSats”, and will collect data on phenomena such as radiation belts or on autonomous movement in space for a group of universities and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The NASA mission has been named the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites or “ELaNa-19”. If this mission is a success then Rocket Lab expects to increase its activity in 2019, with a goal of 16 missions.
Rocket Lab’s successful launch of a rocket that deployed satellites in January after years of preparation was an important step in the global commercial race to bring down financial and logistical barriers to space. Sunday’s launch was the second commercial launch for the New Zealand firm within two months after it launched a commercial payload of seven satellites on 11 November.
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