Rocket Lab successfully launches 10 Earth observation satellites in 15th commercial mission

Devin Coldewey
·2 min read

New Zealand launch provider Rocket Lab has put its 15th commercial payload into space, delivering 10 Earth observation satellites each to their own orbit. The company is getting back into its stride after an upset in July dampened plans to set a record for launch turnaround time.

Aboard the latest Electron launch vehicle to leave the Earth were nine of Planet's "SuperDove" satellites, the newer generation of observation craft that allow that company to provide frequently updated imagery of an increasingly large proportion of the surface.

Canon's CE-SAT-IIB is a demonstration craft, showing off "a middle-size telescope equipped with an ultra-high sensitivity camera to take night images of the Earth," along with some smaller ones for more ordinary observation. The rideshare with Planet was organized by launch rideshare specialists Spaceflight.

The launch was originally scheduled for last week but stood down at the time because "some sensors are returning data that we want to look into further." Fortunately there was no shortage of backup launch dates, and today was set for the new attempt.

Everything proceeded nominally and the satellites were on their way and able to be reached about an hour after takeoff.

This is the second launch since Rocket Lab was briefly grounded following the loss of a payload in July — not to any flashy explosion but to a rather graceful shutdown due to an electrical fault before it could reach the desired orbit.

Fortunately the company's quick investigation meant they were ready to fly less than a month later.

Incidentally, all that and more will be on the table for discussion at TC Sessions: Space 2020 in December, where Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck will be joining us.