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Rocket Lab’s Electron Deploys NASA, South Korean Payloads to Different Orbits

Rocket Lab's Electron Deploys NASA, South Korean Payloads to Different Orbits

Rocket Lab has deployed NASA and South Korean payloads to two separate orbits. 

On Wednesday morning, the Electron rocket blasted off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, carrying a nanosatellite developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. 

NeonSat-1, an Earth observation nanosatellite, was deployed to a 520-kilometer circular Earth orbit.

The spacecraft will provide Seoul with a view of the Korean Peninsula and surrounding regions for national security purposes. In the next months, KAIST will test the performance of the optical technology and monitor the spacecraft’s image quality.

NeonSat-1 is the first of a planned 11-satellite constellation. South Korea plans to launch five more nanosatellites into space on the homegrown Nuri space rocket in June 2026, with the rest of the spacecraft scheduled to be deployed by September 2027.

Shortly after placing NeonSat-1 into orbit, the Electron rocket traveled to a higher circular orbit at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers for NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System. 

ACS3 works much like a sailboat that harnesses the power of the wind to reach its destination, drawing power from sunlight to move around.

Wednesday’s mission will test the unfurling of the composite boom from the spacecraft. The new composite boom will expand to the size of a small apartment.

NASA will use data from the demonstration to design solar sail systems for future missions.

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