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“It’s time to do business” finally flew

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела

On 11 November, with the third series of attempts, finally, went in flight, the first commercial mission of the launch vehicle Electron “It’s Business Time” (“Time to do business”). The launch was successful, and now, as if arguing with an eight-month returns, Rocket Lab is going to test your ability to launch missiles quickly following the start of the fourth Electron is planned for December.

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела
Rocket Photo Lab

Timeline and sequence diagram

On the start screen identified nine days from 11 to 19 November. But contrary to already developed tradition, when run constantly hindered by weather or minor technical problems, this time the rocket went flying on the first day (19:46).

It seems that for 2018 in the design of the rocket has changed. In earlier versions of timeline of flight the first stage was discharged at 2:42, and now — at 2:33. Fuel ends early then it is logical to assume that the Rocket Lab was able to increase the engine thrust. There is another option that, in the first stage filled less fuel, but it is less likely. Other marker sequence also underwent changes — fairing now reset a couple seconds later with 3:08 instead of 3:06. This may indicate a small change of the trajectory is flatter on the fairing weighs a lot, and unnecessarily no one to take him on a rocket a single extra second will not.

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела
The separation of the first stage, a frame from the broadcast

7:10 is the operation which were only on the Electron — resets the two blocks of lithium-ion batteries. Recall that to simplify and reduce the cost of engines the fuel is not turbopump units and electric pumps. On the second level there are three battery pack to power the pumps, and two of them are reset in flight.

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела
Reset the battery, the frame is broadcast

Indirectly, the increase in traction and said time separation of the second stage — 9:09 in the new version instead of 9:20. At this point the third stage was in orbit 210х500 km Third stage flying with the engine switched off before the apogee of 500 km and includes your engine “Curie” in there. On-time in old and new versions of the sequence differs by one second, which speaks about the same orbital parameters. It is interesting that in the new version of the third stage has worked for 38 more seconds, veluchensis at 52:45 instead of 52:07.

The mass of the payload increases with time — the number of satellites to fly has grown from three to five, and finally flew seven. But their total mass is around 40 kg, which is significantly less than the planned value of 150 kg and a maximum payload of 225 kg.

Here load the ship

The first launch window for It’s Business Time was supposed to open April 20. But this was not to happen — because of the “unusual” behavior of the controller motor 17 April, the launch was postponed for “several weeks.” Initially, the payload was supposed to be three satellites — two LEMUR-2 production Spire Global and the apparatus CICERO, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems for GeoOptics Inc.

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела
LEMUR-2, photo Spire Global

“Lemur” are mainly used for tracking ships and start passing load different missiles, they have already produced more than eighty. But still, they measure the passage of a signal from a GPS navigation system through the atmosphere, recording its temperature, pressure and humidity.

CICERO uses the same principle as the “Lemurs”, except that it measures reflected from the surface GPS and Galileo, in studying the characteristics of ocean and ice.

The second launch window has decided to open from 23 June to 6 July. The first day there is a problem with the antenna system’s ground station, which cannot be corrected until the end of the time window. Then three days lost because of weather. The 27th of June, again appeared the problem with the controller motor. In the end, the start was moved to November.

On the second attempt on the rocket stood already five satellites — added IRVINE01 and NABEO.

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела
IRVINE01 scheme IrvineCubesat.org

Student IRVINE01 carries a lower resolution camera to photograph Venus and other celestial objects. Data from the cameras will be used to determine the distance to stars and the accuracy of the orientation system of the satellite.

«Пора заняться бизнесом» наконец полетела
NABEO, photo HPS GmbH

NABEO is a technological demonstrator passive system de-orbiting of satellites. Initially it was assumed that it will remain attached to the third stage, unwrap the cloth in the photo above and it will slow down. But now the program is changed, the satellite separated from the third stage and will descend from orbit on their own. And the third stage performed a braking maneuver on your engine.

And finally, the fall of the rocket appeared two satellites of the Proxima Fleet Space Technologies. Created by a group of satellites Proxima will the Internet of things, providing satellite Internet access to various sensors on the Ground.

It is worth noting that the spaceport is not very good from the point of view of weather, well, the new technique still surprises. So start on the first day of the start screen was a pleasant surprise.

Big plans

The launch was successful and the customers happy the signals their long-awaited devices. Loudest probably heard the creators of IRVINE01, the students, after all.

Meanwhile, Rocket Lab has confirmed the previously announced ambitious plans to launch one “Electron” per month. According to company CEO, Peter Beck, the pace of missile production is already close to the desired left to learn to run them. On the company’s website says about the successful scaling works about the production of missiles and preparing them for launch when the different operations performed at different venues and by the end of 2020 Rocket Lab is going to launch one missile per week. Returning to the present, the next launch is scheduled for December, when the flight should go the mission the NASA ELaNa 19 10 Kubatli.

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