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Long Beach's Future In Space
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Long Beach HQ'd Rocket Lab Gets Contract To Design Two Spacecraft For Scientific Mission To Mars



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(June 16, 2021) -- Long Beach headquartered Rocket Lab (3881 McGowen St in ELB's Douglas Park) has been awarded a contract to design two spacecraft for a scientific mission to Mars.

"Following an 11-month interplanetary cruise, the two Photons (named Blue and Gold) will insert themselves into elliptical orbits around Mars and conduct a 1-year primary science mission," said Rocket Lab in a release. The "Photons will use the flight-proven Curie propulsion system to perform Mars orbit insertion and will be equipped with other subsystems that enable planetary science, including star trackers and reaction wheels for precision pointing from Rocket Labís Sinclair Interplanetary team, as well as ranging transceivers for deep space navigation."

In its release, the firm says:

The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission, led by Rob Lillis at the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, is a twin-spacecraft science mission...to understand the structure, composition, variability, and dynamics of Mars' unique hybrid magnetosphere. The mission will leverage its unique dual viewpoint on the Mars environment to explore how the solar wind strips atmosphere away from Mars to better understand how its climate has changed over time.

ESCAPADE is being developed under NASAís Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD). The two spacecraft are planned for launch in 2024 to Mars ridesharing aboard a NASA-provided commercial launch vehicle...

ESCAPADE is one of three missions selected in 2019 by NASA's SIMPLEx program to conduct compelling planetary science and provide more opportunities for flight experience to the science community. ESCAPADE will undergo a NASA preliminary design review in June and a confirmation review in July determining whether the mission proceeds to implementation and flight.

Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron and Neutron launch vehicles, Photon satellite platform and a range of spacecraft components. The firm has delivered more than 100 satellites since 2018 to orbit for government and commercial customers.

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Nearby Rocket Lab's facility in ELB's Douglas Park is Virgin Orbit (4022 Conant St.) which prepares satellites for launch using a carrier jet aircraft ("Cosmic Girl.") The firm made first successful launch using this system, orbiting multiple satellites on Jan. 17, 2021 and plans a similar launch near the end of June 2021.
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In the ELB industrial park behind LB's Health Dept. Relativity Space (3500 E. Burnett) is pursuing a potentially game changing development: building a printed rocket. In mid-March, Relativity announced that the Department of Defense's Defense Innovation Unit picked Relativity for DoD's Space Test Program to launch a small U.S. military payload to orbit in 2023 using a 3D-printed rocket.

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And Space X will be using a portion of the Port of Long Beach's Pier T as a marine terminal to dock vessels and offload equipment as part of west coast rocket recovery operations

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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