Rocket Lab launches two radar imaging satellites from Virgina’s Eastern Shore

A Rocket Lab Electron booster lifted off from Virginia’s Eastern Shore on Thursday evening, launching a pair of commercial radar imaging satellites into orbit to monitor the planet below, in daylight or darkness, “seeing” through clouds. are capable of

Making the Rocket Lab’s 34th flight, Electron’s nine Rutherford first-stage engines fired to life at 6:38 pm EDT, easily pushing the 59-foot-tall rocket away from Launch Complex 2. Wallops Island, Virginia, Flight Test Facility.

Ascending southeast over the Atlantic Ocean, the electron surpassed the speed of sound one minute after liftoff, rapidly accelerating through the dense lower atmosphere and disappearing from view.

A Rocket Lab Electron Booster is carrying two commercial radar imaging satellites off the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This was Rocke Lab’s 34th launch, but its second launch from Virginia.

Rocket Lab

The single engine powering the rocket’s second stage took two and a half minutes after liftoff, moving the craft into an initial parking orbit. A “kick” stage carrying both. A cappella space Radar satellites fired about an hour after launch to place the vehicle in the planned orbit.

A few minutes later, both Capella satellites were released to fly on their own.

San Francisco-based Capella Space was founded in 2016 to provide commercial Earth imagery to government agencies and the private sector using satellites carrying small artificial aperture radar systems that can be seen down in daylight or darkness. are able to image the planet, regardless of cloud cover.

NASA used similar technology to map the surface of cloud-covered Venus in the 1990s, and radar imaging is routinely used by military spy satellites. But Capella Space says it is the first company to use the technology with a commercial remote-sensing spacecraft.

Including the initial prototype, the company has now launched 10 radar satellites to observe the Earth around the clock. Applications for the insurance industry include verifying loss claims, monitoring damage from natural disasters, gathering intelligence and detecting illegal maritime activities.

“Capella’s innovative small-satellite design and rapid manufacturing-to-launch deployment give our constellation the ability to effectively monitor the entire world,” the company says, “and provide decision-makers with the information they need.” is what they need on earth.”

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