Virgin Orbit has rescheduled its second orbital launch attempt for Jan. 10 as another small launch vehicle company, Rocket Lab, announces plans for its first launch of 2021.
Rocket Lab successfully launched the first satellite for a Japanese radar imaging startup, concluding a roller-coaster year for the small launch vehicle company.
Rocket Lab says its attempt to recover the first stage from its latest Electron launch was a “complete success,” but that the company still has work to do before it’s ready to attempt to reuse the stage.
Rocket Lab launched its Electron rocket Nov. 19, placing nearly 30 smallsats in orbit while making its first attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage.
Rocket Lab will try to recover the first stage of its Electron rocket on its next launch as the company continues its efforts to reuse that stage.
Rocket Lab successfully launched a radar imaging satellite for Capella Space Aug. 30 in the first flight of its Electron rocket since a failure nearly two months earlier.
Rocket Lab says it’s on track to test recovering an Electron booster later this year as it also improves the payload performance of the small launch vehicle.
Rocket Lab said July 31 an investigation concluded that an “anomalous electrical connection” caused the failure of an Electron rocket launch nearly four weeks earlier, as the company makes plans to return to flight.
Rocket Lab has won contracts from the National Reconnaissance Office for a pair of Electron launches intended to demonstrate the company’s responsive launch capabilities.