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Rocket Lab’s Electron Rocket Deploys Two Payloads 500km Apart in Orbit

By Jeffrey Hill | April 24, 2024

Successful lift-off for Rocket Lab’s 47th Electron launch carrying two missions for KAIST and NASA. (Photo: Business Wire)

In Rocket Lab‘s fifth successful launch of 2024, the New Zealand-based launcher deployed the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) NEONSAT-1 satellite and NASA‘s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System to their intended orbit.

Rocket Lab’s “Beginning Of The Swarm” (B.T.S.) mission — its 47th on the Electron rocket — lifted off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand on the morning of April 24. After reaching space, it deployed the two payloads approximately 500 km apart, starting with NEONSAT-1. Rocket Lab said that the capability to deploy two satellites more than 500 km apart on the same launch was enabled by Electron’s Kick Stage, a small stage with engine relight capability to enable last-mile delivery.

KAIST’s NEONSAT-1 is the first of 11 planned satellites in a constellation designed to take daily images of the Korean Peninsula from space. NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System is a technology demonstration of “solar sails,” which utilize new materials that use sunlight to propel a spacecraft.

Electron is the United States’ second-most frequently launched rocket annually. Rocket Lab said that its next Electron mission will be announced shortly.