NASA and SpaceX are not the only American space agencies that have ambitious plans when it comes to exploring space. Rocket Lab is also worth mentioning, and there’s no wonder why. It’s a private American aerospace manufacturer and a smallsat launch service provider that owns a New Zealand subsidiary.
Rocket Lab flew its 12th Electron rocket from its launch site located at NZ’s Mahia Peninsula, carrying payloads belonging to the NRO (National Reconnaisance Office), NASA, and the University of New South Wales Canberra. Rocket Lab posted on YouTube the footage for the launch:
The company confirmed the launch by saying:
Lift-off of the ‘Don’t Stop Me Now mission occurred at 05:12 UTC on June 13 2020 from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.
It’s nice to see that the COVID-19 pandemic is not ruining such events in New Zealand. The country had very few cases of infections since the pandemic’s start. There had been only 1,504 people infected with the disease, and 1,482 had already been recovered. Unfortunately, 22 citizens from New Zealand lost the battle with the pandemic and died.
Once it arrives into orbit, the 12th Electron rocket will deploy five payloads: the M2 Pathfinder, ANDESITE, and three satellites for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
The satellite will further deploy eight “pico-satellites” for solving current densities at varying spatial resolutions for the near-Earth magnetosphere. They shall be using measurements from Anisotropic Resistance Magnetometers, and relay information to the central satellite.
NASA can also look forward to its upcoming missions. The Artemis program is by far the most ambitious, as the American space agency intends to return humans to the Moon by 2024. If the mission proves itself to be successful, the ultimate goal looms: sending astronauts to Mars and build the foundation for a human colony there. Humanity sure needs such a step, as it has never laid foot on another planet before.