Rocket Lab launches two radar imaging satellites from Virginia’s east coast
- March 17, 2023
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A Rocket Lab electron booster lifted off Thursday night from Virginia’s east coast, launching a pair of commercial radar imaging satellites capable of “seeing” through clouds in daylight or darkness to monitor the planet below.
During Rocket Lab’s 34th flight, the Electron’s nine Rutherford first stage engines burst into life at 6:38 p.m. EDT, gently pushing the 59-foot-tall rocket away from Launch Complex 2 at NASA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island , Virginia, Flight Test Facility.
Ascending southeast across the Atlantic Ocean, the electron sped past the speed of sound a minute after launch, accelerating rapidly out of the dense lower atmosphere and disappearing from view.
A Rocket Lab electron booster takes off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia’s east coast, carrying two commercial radar imaging satellites. It was Rocke Llab’s 34th launch, but only his second from Virginia. rocket lab
The single motor powering the rocket’s second stage took over two and a half minutes from launch, placing the vehicle in an initial parking orbit. A “kick” stage using the two Capella Space radar satellites then fired almost an hour after launch to place the vehicle in the planned mission orbit.
A few minutes later, the two Capella satellites were cleared for their own flight.
San Francisco-based Capella Space was founded in 2016 to provide government agencies and the private sector with commercial Earth imagery carrying small satellites with synthetic aperture radar systems capable of imaging the planet below in daylight or darkness, regardless of cloud cover.
NASA used similar technology to map the surface of cloud-shrouded Venus in the 1990s, and radar imagery is routinely used by military spy satellites. But Capella Space says it’s the first company to use the technology with commercial remote sensing spacecraft.
Including a first prototype, the company has now launched 10 radar satellites to observe the earth around the clock. Applications include claims verification for the insurance industry, natural disaster damage monitoring, intelligence gathering and detection of illegal maritime activities.
“Capella’s innovative small satellite design and rapid deployment from manufacture to launch gives our constellation (the ability) to effectively monitor the entire globe,” says the company, “and provide decision makers with the information they need on Earth.” .”
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