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.
Executives of major launch companies said they doubted there was sufficient demand for more than a few small launch vehicle developers, citing their own efforts to provide rideshare launch services for smallsats.
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.
TriSept Corp, a launch integration and mission management company, announced a launch services agreement Oct. 21 with U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command.
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.
Executives with several major small launch vehicle companies say both the economic repercussions of the pandemic and the growing interest by the U.S. government in such vehicles could reshape the industry.