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Rocket Lab Launches 3 Experimental Satellites

Rocket Lab Launches 3 Experimental SatellitesRocket Lab Launches 3 Experimental Satellites

Rocket Lab successfully launched three experimental satellites for the US Air Force on Sunday, topping the company's second Department of Defense mission in five weeks.
Rocket Lab's Electron booster lifted off from the company's New Zealand launch site at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) and delivered two cubesats and a larger craft to their assigned slots in Earth orbit less than an hour later, Space.com reported.
Together, the three satellites weigh more than 180 kilograms, the heaviest load that the 57-foot-tall Electron has ever toted, Rocket Lab representatives said.
One of the cubesats, the Falcon Orbital Debris Experiment (Falcon ODE), will help researchers evaluate the effectiveness of ground-based systems for tracking space junk. 
The other, the Space Plug-and-Play Architecture Research Cubesat-1 (SPARC-1), will test the performance of super-small avionics and other gear.
"It's really seeing how small and functional some of this stuff can be," Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said last month, referring to SPARC-1.
The other satellite, called Harbinger, makes up most of the trio's total mass. Harbinger "is a commercial small satellite built by York Space Systems that will demonstrate the ability of an experimental commercial system to meet government space-capability requirements," Rocket Lab representatives wrote in a description of the mission, which is called STP-27RD.
The launch was the sixth overall for the two-stage Electron, including test flights, and the rocket's second of 2019.

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