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Return to Sender

This mission, which will be Rocket Lab’s 16th Electron launch, will lift-off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula during a 14-day launch window that opens on November 16 NZT / November 15 UTC.

Return to Sender

Circle Image

Overview

Destination: Sun-Synchronous Orbit
Mission: Dedicated Rideshare

Sun-Synchronous Orbit Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1A Onenui Station, Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand Probability: 85% #ReturnToSender
16 - Pacific

"Return to Sender" will loft 30 satellites to a sun-synchronous orbit at 500 km altitude for a range of customers, including TriSept, Unseenlabs, Swarm, Te Pūnaha Ātea - Auckland Space Institute, and global gaming software company Valve. The satellites span a range of operations, from TriSept’s tech demonstration of new tether systems designed to accelerate spacecraft reentry and reduce orbital debris, through to the next generation of maritime surveillance satellites for Unseenlabs, as well as communications satellites for Swarm. The mission will also deploy New Zealand’s first student-built satellite, the APSS-1 satellite for Te Pūnaha Ātea - Auckland Space Institute at The University of Auckland. The DRAGRACER mission will test the effectiveness of new tether technologies designed to accelerate spacecraft reentry and reduce orbital debris at the conclusion of space missions. TriSept has completed the integration of a pair of qualified Millennium Space Systems 6U small satellites, one featuring the tether drag device and one without. The controlled spacecraft should deorbit in approximately 45 days, while the second spacecraft is expected to remain in orbit for seven to nine years. BRO-2 and BRO-3 are the second and third satellites in French company Unseenlabs’ planned constellation of about 20 satellites dedicated to maritime surveillance. Swarm will launch the latest 24 1/4U SpaceBEE satellites to continue building out its planned constellation of 150 satellites to provide affordable satellite communications services to IoT devices in remote regions around the world. The student-built Waka Āmiorangi Aotearoa APSS-1 satellite is designed to monitor electrical activity in Earth’s upper atmosphere to test whether ionospheric disturbances can predict earthquakes. Extra payload on this flight is a 150 mm 3D printed Half-Life Gnome Chompski. Created for Valve Software's co-founder Gabe Newell by design studio Weta Workshop, it serves as an homage to the innovation and creativity of gamers worldwide, and also aims to test and qualify a novel 3D printing technique that could be employed for future spacecraft components. Gnome will remain attached to the Kick Stage and will burn up on reentry. Besides payloads, this flight will also serve as a test of Electron's reusability. Rocket Lab will attempt to bring Electron’s first stage back to Earth under a parachute system for a controlled water landing before collection by a recovery vessel.

Infographic

Geoff Barrett is an independent graphic artist that creates launch infographics for space flight events.

Updates

scottm3 • Nov. 20, 2020, 4:17 a.m.

Successful launch via Peter Beck Twitter
Set to success


scottm3 • Nov. 20, 2020, 1:32 a.m.

T-0 set to 02:20 UTC


SwGustav • Nov. 19, 2020, 9:52 p.m.

weather 85%
adjusting T-0


Electron

Family: Electron
Configuration:

Electron is a two-stage orbital expendable launch vehicle (with an optional third stage) developed by the American aerospace company Rocket Lab. Electron is a small-lift launch vehicle designed to launch small satellites and cubesats to sun-synchronous orbit and low earth orbit. The Electron is the first orbital class rocket to use electric-pump-fed engines, powered by the 9 Rutherford engines on the first stage.

See Electron Details
Specifications
  • Minimum Stage
    2
  • Max Stage
    3
  • Length
    18.0 m
  • Diameter
    1.2 m
  • Fairing Diameter
    1.2 m
  • Launch Mass
    13 T
  • Thrust
    162 kN
Family
  • Name
    Electron
  • Family
    Electron
  • Variant
  • Alias
  • Full Name
    Electron
Payload Capacity
  • Launch Cost
    $6000000
  • Low Earth Orbit
    300 kg
  • Geostationary Transfer Orbit
  • Direct Geostationary
  • Sun-Synchronous Capacity
    225 kg

Booster Info


16

Status: Retired


Type: Core
Flight Proven: No
First Flight: November 20, 2020
Last Flight: November 20, 2020
Flights: 1
Landings Attempted: 1
Landings Successful: 1

Landing Information

Rocket Lab successfully landed the Electron booster via parachute as part of the 'Return to Sender' launch.

Result: Successful Parachute Landing landing at Pacific.

Rocket Lab Ltd

Circle Image
CEO: Peter Beck Founded: 2006 Successes: 26 Failures: 3 Pending: 11

Agency Type: Commercial

Rocket Lab is an American aerospace manufacturer with a wholly owned New Zealand subsidiary. The company develops lightweight, cost-effective commercial rocket launch services. The Electron Program was founded on the premise that small payloads such as CubeSats require dedicated small launch vehicles and flexibility not currently offered by traditional rocket systems. Its rocket, the Electron, is a light-weight rocket and is now operating commercially. Electron currently launches from only Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand however a second launch complex in the US is under development.

INFO WIKI

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Onenui Station, Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

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