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The Electron rocket will deploy an innovative satellite designed to test new deployable structures and materials technologies for solar sail propulsion systems, paving the way for sunlight to power future deep space exploration
LONG BEACH, Calif., October 06, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) ("Rocket Lab" or "the Company"), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle.
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NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System which will be launched by Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle. (Photo: Business Wire)
NASA’s ACS3 technology demonstration uses composite materials - or a combination of materials with different properties, in its novel, lightweight booms that deploy from a CubeSat to support a solar sail. Just as a sailboat is powered by wind in a sail, solar sails employ the pressure of sunlight for propulsion, eliminating the need for conventional rocket propellant. Data obtained from the ACS3 demonstration will guide the design of future larger-scale composite solar sail systems that could be used for space weather early warning satellites, near-Earth asteroid reconnaissance missions, or communications relays for crewed exploration missions.
ACS3 will launch as part of a rideshare mission, scheduled for lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in mid-2022. The ability of the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage to deploy individual satellites to unique orbits, even when flying as part of a rideshare, was a key factor in Rocket Lab being selected as the launch provider. ACS3 requires a higher altitude than the other rideshare payloads launching on the same mission, so after deploying the first payloads, the Kick Stage will perform another burn with its 3D printed Curie engine to raise the orbit and deploy ACS3. Rocket Lab’s Kick Stage has demonstrated orbit raises across 18 missions to date, and also successfully conducted inclination changes and orbit lowering, providing customers with proven, flexible, and precise in-space transportation.
"We are thrilled to be NASA’s launch partner for this innovative mission," said Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive, Peter Beck. "It seems fitting to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System on Electron, the world’s first full carbon composite orbital launch vehicle. We’re excited to see composites used yet again to unlock new capabilities in space."
ACS3 Mission Partners:
NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia is designing ACS3’s deployable composite booms and solar sail system.
NanoAvionics of Columbia, Illinois is designing and building the 12U CubeSat for the ACS3 technology demonstration.
NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley is managing the ACS3 project and will oversee final integration of the solar sail payload and CubeSat.
The Santa Clara University’s Robotics Systems Lab in Santa Clara, California will provide CubeSat operations support for the ACS3 technology demonstration.
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is sponsoring the ACS3 project and is providing the funding for the launch .
NASA’s Game Changing Development program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is developing ACS3’s deployable composite boom technology.
For more information about the ACS3 technology demonstration visit: www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/small_spacecraft/ACS3
About Rocket Lab
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, spacecraft components, satellites and other spacecraft and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle and the Photon satellite platform and is developing the Neutron 8-ton payload class launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 105 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand, one of which is currently operational, and a second launch site in Virginia, USA which is expected to become operational by the end of 2021. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
This press release may contain certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements, including without limitation expectations regarding the timing of scheduled launches, are based on Rocket Lab’s current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (many of which are beyond Rocket Lab’s control), or other assumptions that may cause actual results or performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including risks related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, including risks related to government restrictions and lock-downs in New Zealand and other countries in which we operate that could delay or suspend our operations; delays and disruptions in expansion efforts; our dependence on a limited number of customers; the harsh and unpredictable environment of space in which our products operate
which could adversely affect our launch vehicle and spacecraft; increased congestion from the proliferation of low Earth orbit constellations which could materially increase the risk of potential collision with space debris or another spacecraft and limit or impair our launch flexibility and/or access to our own orbital slots; increased competition in our industry due in part to rapid technological development and decreasing costs; technological change in our industry which we may not be able to keep up with or which may render our services uncompetitive; average selling price trends; failure of our satellites to operate as intended either due to our error in design in production or through no fault of our own; launch schedule disruptions; supply chain disruptions, product delays or failures; design and engineering flaws; launch failures; natural disasters and epidemics or pandemics; changes in governmental regulations including with respect to trade and export restrictions, or in the status of our regulatory approvals or applications; or other events that force us to cancel or reschedule launches, including customer contractual rescheduling and termination rights, and the other risks detailed from time to time in Rocket Lab’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the heading "Risk Factors" and elsewhere (including that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may also exacerbate the risks discussed therein). There can be no assurance that the future developments affecting Rocket Lab will be those that we have anticipated. Except as required by law, Rocket Lab is not undertaking any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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