back to article Rocket Lab deploys Photon, er, in-house built satellite on Flight 14

Those pondering what else Rocket Lab got up to on Flight 14 following the successful deployment of the satellite payload for Capella Space got their answer last week in the form of "First Light", a jumped-up version of the existing Electron Kick Stage. Following deployment of Capella Space's microsatellite on the "I Can't …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    So Grumman are hanging around waiting for the core stage and avionics to go with their boosters?

    Could this lead to a new version of Pigs in Space? Something that Musk could be contemplating.

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The SLS makes use of various elements of the Space Shuttle program. However, unlike those of the Shuttle, the boosters and engines of the SLS will not be reusable.
    The worst part of it all is that the technology itself is reusable, it just won't be reused.

    1. james 68

      Hey, they gotta keep those porcine containment vessels topped up somehow.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is that because...

      Everyone knows it's a pig to recycle?

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Throwing away those SSMEs should be considered a criminal act.

      But then again if they get another srb seal failure, that might actually be considered criminal.

  3. rg287
    Boffin

    Not mentioned in the article - SpaceX/Starlink also demoed the first satellite-satellite links (necessary for things like mid-Pacific, TransAtlantic or Southern Ocean coverage where you don't have a ground-station to bounce down to. It makes the constellation an actual mesh-network, not just up-and-down relays).

    Most sats launched so far are "Version 1" without inter-sat links, but a few prototype V2 models seem to have snuck onto the last couple of launches.

    Musk-based onanism aside, accurately shooting free-space lasers between satellites and getting a usable data link is top-notch boffinry from the StarLink engineers and has wide-ranging implications not just for Moon/Mars colonies or whatnot, but as a high-bandwidth option for science probes and satellites to communicate with each other (e.g. if a mission sends multiple science probes with one "mothership" comms relay as per certain Mars architectures).

    1. Blitheringeejit
      Alien

      Sounds good in theory, but ...

      ...wouldn't it be vulnerable to alien-in-the-middle attacks?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds good in theory, but ...

        piggy in the middle

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      SpaceX/Sharklink

      >"accurately shooting free-space lasers between satellites"

      I'm just amazed at how Musk managed to fit those sharks into those little satellites.

  4. johnB

    3.6 million pounds of thrust

    I thought NASA were supposedly metric now?

  5. Terje

    The fing starlink needs to die and do so fast before they screw up any chance to send anything into orbit for decades.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Space is pretty big but I can believe that it would complicate launch windows.

      However I do wonder a bit about the fact that these things are designed to decay from orbit naturally. The first stage satellites orbit above the ISS, so the ISS might have a lot of avoidance manoeuvres in its future (if it isn't deorbited first)?

      1. rg287

        However I do wonder a bit about the fact that these things are designed to decay from orbit naturally. The first stage satellites orbit above the ISS, so the ISS might have a lot of avoidance manoeuvres in its future (if it isn't deorbited first)?

        They'll only be left to decay naturally if they fail completely and go unresponsive or have a propulsion failure (and like a ghost ship obviously needs monitoring so other stuff can keep clear). But most satellites will be deliberately de-orbited at EOL, in which case they'll do it somewhere the ISS (and everything else) isn't. That's not a new concept for LEO satellites at EOL, just as GEO satellites get moved to a graveyard orbit when they get retired.

        And space is big. The odds of a dead starlink satellite conflicting with the ISS are extremely low to start with.

        Of course the more stuff that's up there the higher the odds of having to avoid something, but the ISS isn't going to suddenly have to spend half it's time dodging falling sats.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Starlink sats use ion thrusters so even deliberately deorbiting them isn't a quick and easy process.

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      > "starlink needs to die and do so fast before they screw up any chance to send anything into orbit"

      500 meteorites reach the surface of the Earth each year (source: Google) and there are over 7 billion people on earth yet only one record of a human ever being hit by a meteor.

      So when there are more LEO satellites than people and more than 500 launches per year this could be a problem.

      The main issue with LEO satellites is interference with earth bound telescopes and terrestrial communications should some of these satellites go rogue.

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