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Draggendrop

Rocket Lab Electron launches NASA ELaNa XIX

video is 5:47 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

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DocM

Launch webcast video. 

 

T-0 is at about 00:18;00, and an animation of the kickstage deploying sats is at about 01:10;00.

 

 

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Draggendrop

 

 

 

 

DuonZdaWwAIbExw.jpg

 

 

 

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  • 7 months later...
Jim K

Rocket Labs Electron is going reusable!  Just announced.  It will not be like SpaceX ... but instead the Electron will descend, pop a wing parachute and a helicopter will snag it.  

 

 

 

14 minutes into the above video.

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DocM

Cool!!

 

Should work for a small launcher. 

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Skiver

Did Rocket Labs just out Elon... Elon? I know it's much smaller and all but this just seems ridiculous! 

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DocM

Electron being carbon fiber (light) and small makes this option work. SpaceX tried it with Falcon 9 v1.0 but it was too large/heavy and shredded the parachutes.

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Beittil

I wonder how they intend to make it survive re-entry, F9 after all had the grid fins to stabilize itself and requires a re-entry burn to slow down enough. 

 

The way their animation suggests it, seems to me like a surefire way for a booster to damage itself on the way down. 

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DocM

The video is really missing a lot. ISTM they need to have at least the center engine burn to move the shock front away from the thrust structure and engines during entry, and aerosurfaces (chines?) for alignment.

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Beittil

Just now a nice interview with Beck came out, by Eric Berger:

 

It seems that from flight 10 onward we will get to see physical changes/upgrades to Electron towards this goal. Exciting. 

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  • 3 months later...
DocM

YIPPIE!!!! 💃🕺

 

Electron made it back after launch!!

 

 

 

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DocM

AFTS replaces about 40 tonnes of ground hardware with a lunch box size system on the launcher.

 

 

Rocket Lab presser;

 

Quote

 

Rocket Lab Debuts Fully Autonomous Flight Termination System

 

Rocket Lab demonstrated the system on the companys recent 10th Electron launch in a move that will enable a higher launch cadence and deliver responsive launch capability

Huntington Beach, California. 9 December 2019  Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has flown a fully Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) for the first time on an Electron launch vehicle. The AFTS flown on the companys most recent mission, Running Out Of Fingers, makes Rocket Lab one of only two U.S. launch companies to fly with an autonomous system.

 

AFTS is a GPS-aided, computer-controlled system designed to terminate an off-nominal flight, replacing traditional human-in-the-loop monitoring systems. AFTS is crucial to increasing launch frequency and providing responsive launch capability, while maintaining the highest industry safety standards. It reduces the turnaround time between missions and provides greater schedule control by eliminating reliance on ground-assets and human flight termination operators.

 

Running Out Of Fingers hosted the first fully autonomous system on Electron. The launch followed four shadow flights where the AFTS unit was flown on the vehicle for testing while traditional ground-based flight termination infrastructure remained in place. With the first fully autonomous mission now complete, all future Electron missions from Launch Complexes 1 and 2 will fly with the AFTS.

 

The AFTS is yet another way Rocket Lab is innovating to increase the pace of launch and support responsive launch capability for small satellites, said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. As we move to an autonomous system, Id like to thank the dedicated teams from White Sands Missile Range and Alaska Aerospace Corporation, who have provided ground-based flight termination system support for Electron missions since our first launch in 2017. Their support has ensured the safety of every Electron mission and contributed to our record of mission success for customers.

 

Naomi Altman, Rocket Labs Avionics Manager and Project Lead for the AFTS program, added Im immensely proud of the team here at Rocket Lab that made AFTS on Electron a reality. For AFTS to be part of Electrons 10th launch was the cherry on top of a monumental year for the whole team. Reaching this milestone is also a testament to the ongoing support of government agencies and contractors who worked closely with us to bring the AFTS online.

 

About Flight Termination Systems:

 

Flight termination systems are a vital part of launch operations.

 

Traditionally, flight termination infrastructure is a ground-based system that involves a human making the decision to terminate a mission in the event of a launch vehicle straying from a pre-determined flight path. By contrast, the AFTS is an independent, self-contained subsystem mounted onboard the Electron launch vehicle. It eliminates the need for a ground-based infrastructure by moving the flight termination function to the launch vehicle.

 

The system makes flight termination decisions autonomously by using redundant computers that track the launch vehicle using Global Positioning System and on-board sensors, combined with configurable software-based rules, that identify where the rocket can safely fly. If a rocket goes off course the AFTS will issue a command to terminate the flight by shutting down the engines. The AFTS also delivers faster response times and improved monitoring as the launch vehicle travels downrange, providing over-the-horizon tracking capabilities that are not limited by line-of-sight tracking such as that required by ground-based instrumentation at the launch site.

 

 

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DocM

https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-inaugurates-u-s-launch-site/

 

Quote

 

Quote

Rocket Lab inaugurates U.S. launch site

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force will be the first customer for a Rocket Lab Electron launching in 2020 from a new launch site in Virginia, the company announced Dec. 12.

Rocket Lab formally opened Launch Complex (LC) 2, a launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, adjacent to the pad used by Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket. The launch site, similar to the company’s existing Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, is specifically designed for U.S. government customers who prefer to launch from American soil and also want responsive launch capabilities.

“We’ve certainly made a number of improvements to the pad, but the pads look identical,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in an interview. “That’s part of the reason why we were able to build the site so quickly.” Construction of the pad started in February after a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2018.
>
LC-2 is designed to handle up to 12 launches per year. Beck said that once they get that first launch done next week and handle any “teething issues” with the new pad, they’ll be ready to support additional launches “as customers require.” He expected that the company will, between the two launch sites, perform at least one launch a month in 2020, double the rate of six launches the company conducted in 2019.
>

 

 


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  • 3 months later...
Skiver

In early 2020 Rocket Lab successfully completed a mid-air recovery demonstration of an Electron test article.

 

 

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  • 2 months later...
Jim K

Rocket Lab experienced a failure today during the second stage.  My speculation ... something failed during the "hot swap" of the batteries" ... at least that what it seems like during the live feed.

Quote

Long Beach, Calif. July 4, 2020: Following a successful lift-off, first stage burn, and stage separation, Rocket Lab experienced an anomaly during its 13th Electron mission ‘Pics Or It Didn’t Happen.’

 

The issue occurred approximately four minutes into the flight on July 4, 2020 and resulted in the safe loss of the vehicle. As a result, the payloads onboard Electron were not deployed to orbit. Electron remained within the predicted launch corridors and caused no harm to personnel or the launch site. Rocket Lab is working closely with the FAA to investigate the anomaly and identify its root cause to correct the issue to move forward.

 

“We are deeply sorry to our customers Spaceflight Inc., Canon Electronics Inc., Planet, and In-Space Missions for the loss of their payloads. We know many people poured their hearts and souls into those spacecraft. Today's anomaly is a reminder that space launch can be unforgiving, but we will identify the issue, rectify it, and be safely back on the pad as soon as possible,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO. “The launch team operated with professionalism and expertise to implement systems and procedures that ensured the anomaly was managed safely. I’m proud of the way they have responded to a tough day. We’re working together as a team to comb through the data, learn from today, and prepare for our next mission.” 

 

Today's anomaly occurred after 11 consecutive successful orbital launches of the Electron launch vehicle. Rocket Lab currently has more than eight Electron vehicles in production, ready for a rapid return to flight as soon as investigations are complete and any required corrective actions are in place.

 

Rocket Lab

 

 

 

Launch @ 16:25

Issue starts around 22:20  (nothing from the rocket appears wrong...the camera feed freezes...mission control starts to sound a little nervous)

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DocM

Sure sounds like a battery hot-swap failure to me, perhaps the weakest part of their  design.

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