US's secret spy payload offloaded: Rocket Lab demos missile muscle with second Electron guided home | 1/31/2020 | Staff
baileyboobaileyboo (Posted by) Level 3
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Small-sat flinger Rocket Lab beat the winds to get the mysterious National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload off the New Zealand launchpad this morning.

After multiple holds due to ground winds, the Electron lifted off at 02:56 UTC on 31 January from the company's Launch Complex 1 on the New Zealand Mahia Peninsula.

Birds - Feather - Mission - Company - Electron

Dubbed "Birds of a Feather", the mission was the 11th of the company's Electron booster. While the details of the payload were light (NRO doesn't like talking too much about its toys), the launch represented the second time Rocket Lab attempted to steer the spent booster back to Earth.

The launch itself went nominally, with main engine cut-off occurring just after two minutes, 30 seconds. The first stage then separated and began its journey back home while the second stage ignited to send the payload to orbit. Rocket Labs' Kick Stage was then used to shepherd the satellite to the desired orbit.

Chief - Exec - Peter - Beck - Stages

Chief exec Peter Beck is keen on recovering those first stages and,...
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