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Trying for the perfect 10

Rocket Lab is aiming for a “perfect 10” when it launches its next rocket from Mahia in about three weeks time.

The United States-based company today announced its 10th mission from the Launch Complex 1 facility at Onenui Station would launch microsatellites from five different countries.

The launch window for the flight, named Running Out Of Fingers, opens on November 25.

On board the rideshare mission are six spacecraft comprising 5cm PocketQube microsatellites from UK-based satellite manufacturer and mission management provider Alba Orbital.

The final payload on board was procured by satellite rideshare and mission management provider Spaceflight for ALE Co, Ltd, a Tokyo-based company creating microsatellites that simulate meteor particles.

The mission will also continue efforts to research how rockets can be re-used.

A Rocket Lab statement said the Electron rocket’s first stage would not be recovered from this mission but would include new hardware and sensors to inform future recovery efforts.

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said increasing launch frequency for small satellite operators was the key driver behind Rocket Lab’s reusability programme.

“Reaching our 10th flight within only two years of commercial operations is an incredible achievement. Thanks to the continued dedication and passion of the teams at Rocket Lab, responsive and frequent access to space is the new normal for small satellites. As we move beyond once-a-month missions towards our goal of weekly launches, recovering and reusing Electron could play a significant role in increasing launch frequency.”

Among the payloads is one from Advanced Technology of Laser (ATL) from Hungary, designed to test a new thermal isolation material in space, conduct a thermal insulator material experiment, and DVB-T band spectrum monitoring.

Also on board will be a picosatellite developed by Spanish non-profit organisation Fossa Systems. The small spacecraft is a communications satellite that uses low-power radio frequency to provide “internet of things” connectivity.

A novel spectrum monitoring payload built by students at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, Smog-P features a spectrum analyser to measure man-made electromagnetic pollution from space.

A satellite from ACME AtronOmatic, a US-Germany based software application development company, for a weather radar application for mobile devices.

In addition, Tokyo-based ALE Co., Ltd ‘s ALE-2 satellite aims to create human-made shooting stars by simulating re-entering meteor particles. The satellite includes multiple redundant attitude sensors and controllers, as well as a propulsion system for manoeuvres.