Rocket Lab launches 107th satellite to orbit
(18 Nov 2021) Rocket: Electron; Payload: two BlackSky Gen-2 satellites; Date: 18 November 2021, 0138 UTC; Launch site: Māhia Peninsula, New Zealand. The Earth-imaging satellites were deployed into 427 km x 439 km x 42.02 degrees orbits.
The 'Love At First Insight' mission, arranged for BlackSky through launch services provider Spaceflight Inc., was Electron's 22nd lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on Māhia Peninsula. It brought the total number of satellites deployed by Rocket Lab to 107.
The mission also included a controlled ocean splashdown and recovery of Electron's first stage. For the first time, Rocket Lab stationed a helicopter in the recovery zone around 200 nautical miles [~360 km] offshore to track and observe the descending stage in preparation for future aerial capture attempts. The helicopter successfully tracked the returning rocket and completed communications tests in the recovery zone, bringing Rocket Lab a step closer to catching a rocket from the sky, bringing it back to the production complex for refurbishment, and then launching it to space again.
The 'Love At First Insight' mission was the latest launch for BlackSky as part of a multi-launch agreement to deploy numerous BlackSky satellites on Electron. Five BlackSky satellites have now been successfully deployed to low Earth orbit so far on missions across 2019 and this year. As part of the deal, another two BlackSky satellites are scheduled for launch on Rocket Lab's next Electron mission named "A Data With Destiny," which is scheduled to launch during a 14-day launch window that opens in December.
Reference: Rocket Lab PR