Rocket Lab Welcomes Electron Back to Earth
In a major milestone, the New Zealand-based launch company Rocket Lab has successfully recovered an orbital-class rocket after parachuting it back to Earth from near-space – only the second company in history ever to do so, Forbes science contributor Jonathan O’Callagahan writes.
The company’s two-stage Electron rocket lifted off from the company’s launch site on the Mahia Peninsula. Named ‘Return to Sender’, the mission lofted 30 satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit 500km above the surface of Earth – the most satellites ever flown on an Electron rocket, O’Callaghan reports.
Of the satellites launched, 24 were small communications satellites called “SpaceBees” from the California-based company Swarm Technologies. The others included a space junk removal test, a maritime observation satellite, and an earthquake investigation satellite.
The launch was especially notable, however, for Rocket Lab’s recovery efforts. Shortly after the launch, the first stage of the rocket descended back to Earth under parachute, falling into the ocean where it was then recovered by a waiting ship several hours later.
“Welcome back to Earth Electron!” Rocket Lab’s CEO Peter Beck said on Twitter.
Original article by Jonathan O’Callaghan, Forbes, November 20, 2020.