Technology

Rocket Lab will produce a universal satellite platform

The American company Rocket Lab announcedthe beginning of the development of a universal satellite platform. Now the company acts only as a contractor for the launch of compact satellites developed by other companies. The Verge portal notes that Rocket Lab is not going to engage in the full development and production of its own satellites for specific customers. For this, she decided to use a different approach.

The company is going to use the upper stagePhoton is its relatively compact Electron booster. On its basis, it is planned to create a universal platform that will be equipped with the necessary set of basic components: its own rocket engine, telecommunications subsystem, as well as interfaces for integrating third-party equipment.

Often, satellite operators have toto create from scratch a new spacecraft just to place in the near-earth orbit any new sensor or new optical equipment. It takes a lot of time and a lot of money. According to Peter Beck, his new proposal by Rocket Lab will allow customers to skip the stage of creating a new spacecraft. The equipment necessary for placing in orbit can be integrated into an already ready universal platform and already with it will be put into space. The company plans to not only build and launch satellites based on this platform, but also be responsible for their operation after launch.

The Photon platform has a round case, diameterwhich almost corresponds to the diameter of the Electron rocket, which is 1.2 meters. She will be able to work with equipment weighing up to 170 kilograms and power consumption up to a kilowatt. The platform will be able to provide these energy needs thanks to the solar panels used in it. In addition, Photon is equipped with various interfaces for connecting various equipment, depending on the needs of customers. Among them: LVDS, Ethernet, CAN and RS422 / 485. It can store up to 1 TB of data and transfer them to Earth at speeds up to 512 Kbit / s in the S-band through a network of ground stations, which Rocket Lab uses to communicate with missiles and upper stages. The declared resource of the Photon platform operation in near-earth orbit is from five years.

As the news source indicates, Rocket Lab is alreadyI found two customers who were interested in the new approach of the company and its idea of ​​using a universal platform. Names are not called, but it is noted that in one case we are talking about a certain private company, and the second order is a state one. The first demonstration launch of the new platform is scheduled for the end of this year.

Launch Electron Booster

Recall that its first rocket ElectronThe company launched in 2017. Unfortunately, the launch was unsuccessful. Summed up the telemetry data transmission system. Taking the “break” for almost a year, the company worked on the bugs and in January 2018 conducted the first successful commercial launch, launching three commercial satellites into near-earth orbit.

The company is also currently engaged inincreasing the number of sites for their space launches. At the end of last year, for example, it was reported on the construction of a new launch pad Launch Complex 2 at the Wallops Cosmodrome, owned by NASA. According to Peter Beck, the head of Rocket Lab, construction will cost $ 20 million. The first launch of an Electron rocket with Launch Complex 2 should take place in the third quarter of 2019.

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