At 7:27 PM EDT Monday evening a Rocket Lab Electron launched from the Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand taking the “Baby Come Back” mission to orbit. One of the payloads was the Telesat LEO 3 demonstration microsatellite.
The LEO 3 mission is important to Telesat as it “will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite.”
It’s a stop gap measure in some respects as Telesat works toward completing the financing for its Lightspeed LEO constellation.
According to the Space Flight Laboratory which developed the 30-kg LEO 3 spacecraft “ground control established communications with LEO 3 shortly after launch. Having achieved signal acquisition, solar arrays deployment, and successfully passing initial satellite health tests, SFL and Telesat are now testing the full satellite.”
Other payloads on the “Baby Come Back” mission included a four CubeSat’s for NASA’s Starling mission which “designed to advance technologies for cooperative groups of spacecraft – also known as swarms.”
Also onboard were two 3U satellites carrying Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) payloads for Spire Global to replenish its Earth observation constellation.
The mission was also a test of new technology related to Rocket Lab’s first stage recovery. They stated that “today’s rocket featured new upgrades never flown before to help make the vehicle more resilient to marine recovery, including improved sealing solutions for the interstage, powerpack, and some internal components on the Rutherford engines. We also used a new, lighter parachute system to assist with flotation, and this was the first mission to use a two-point lifting crane to retrieve Electron’s first stage from the water onto the recovery vessel.”