The rocket laboratory was recently set up successfully Return to the plane And launched a client satellite from its electron rocket, but that was all. The company is also secretive Launched Its own satellite, called a photon, could one day launch ambitious deep space missions.
Based on the Photon Rocket Lab’s “Kick Stage”, it is a mini rocket designed to increase the satellite payloads into their final orbit as soon as the electron brings them into space. However, instead of building an impulse system, photons carry additional electronics, such as orientation sensors, power generation units, and cameras. This means that the photon can act as a satellite so that customers do not have to contract with third-party providers to design and configure them.
Typically, once the kick stage has done its job, the rocket lab burns it into the atmosphere. However, this time it sent a command that switched to photon satellite mode, to pursue a complete mission called “first light”. Considered a demonstration, it features solar panels and a camera that can take pictures of itself and the earth.
Finally, customers can choose the “launch-plus-spacecraft” mission with the electron rocket and photon satellite, which will “remove”[s] The complexity, risk and delays associated with purchasing a separate launch pad to build their own satellite hardware, ”said Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck in a statement.
During a press conference, Peck secretly introduced the photon, saying, “Make sure it’s all good and it works before it is announced.” Rocket Lab says photon high-energy version will eventually fly “lunar and space missions” NASA’s Capstone In early 2021. In that work, the photon will fly as a “pathfinder”, which will help the Artemis project. Gateway The spacecraft will safely approach the moon.