Small launch vehicles
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.
As Astra prepares for another launch attempt of its small launch vehicle, the company is facing a lawsuit from another company with a similar name.
A startup formed by rocket engineers from the German space agency DLR is targeting late 2022 for the first flight of a small launch vehicle designed around hybrid engines.
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.
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.
Small launch vehicle developer Astra says it’s ready for an orbital launch attempt as soon as Aug. 2, but warns that it’s “pretty unlikely” that launch will actually achieve orbit.
NASA plans to issue multiple contracts in the coming months for smallsat launch services in the second phase of a program intended to support the emerging small launch vehicle industry.
Small launch vehicle developer Relativity Space has won a contract to launch six Iridium replacement satellites, which it plans to carry out from a new launch site it proposes to develop at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
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.