Rocket Lab sends 13 satellites to orbit

Rocket Lab liftoff
Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket rises from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. (Rocket Lab via YouTube)

Rocket Lab has sent its first payloads for NASA into orbit from its New Zealand launch pad, atop a low-cost Electron rocket powered by 3-D-printed engines.

Liftoff from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula came at 7:33 p.m. Dec. 16 New Zealand time (10:33 p.m. PT Dec. 15), after a two-day delay due to weather concerns.

Ten of the 13 small satellites packed aboard the rocket were funded through NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program, or ELaNa. The other three came along for the ride, and are designed to test new imaging technologies and study how high-frequency radio signals travel through Earth’s ionosphere.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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