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Rival to SpaceX Rocket Lab Successfully Launches NASA’s First Satellite Swarm Rocket

Lab’s Electron rocket successfully launched seven satellites into orbit for its most recent mission before the booster gracefully descended for a parachute-assisted ocean splashdown to assess its reusability.

On Monday at 9:27 p.m. ET, Electron launched from the firm’s Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. Due to unfavourable weather, the launch was postponed by a few days, but everything went smoothly when it finally took off.

Seven satellites were delivered as part of the ride-sharing mission for NASA, Space Flight Laboratory, and Spire Global. In order to test satellite technologies for autonomous positioning, networking, manoeuvring, and decision-making, NASA’s Starling mission consists of four cubesats that are intended to cooperate in a swarm. Starling will examine the satellites’ ability to work as a cohesive community, complete tasks cooperatively, and react to their surroundings.

Along with two Spire Global Earth-observing weather satellites, Electron also carried Telesat’s LEO 3 demonstration satellite from the Space Flight Laboratory to complete testing for its constellation.

In order to transform Electron into a reusable rocket, Rocket Lab’s most recent mission, “Baby Come Back,” entailed the company’s anticipation of the booster’s return.

The satellites were launched by the rocket’s second stage into a sun-synchronous orbit, while the first stage of the Electron started its return journey to Earth roughly 17 minutes after takeoff. A recovery team successfully fished out the rocket after guiding the first stage back down for an ocean splashdown with the help of a parachute. “Baby Came Back,” was the tweet that Rocket Lab posted to mark the safe return of its rocket booster.