Rocket Lab successfully launched an Electron rocket this afternoon with a new satellite for the Argos program, providing connectivity to a number of scientific endeavours. It’s a milestone for the company, but more importantly, it marks — easily — the worst pun ever launched into space. The mission was called “It Argos Up From Here”.
The launch company (and increasingly spacecraft) has always taken a light tone in its mission names, usually in the form of a joke or pun. I fear it may represent the high point, or some would say the low point, of this practice. If there’s a worse pun in orbit, it should be classified.
But perhaps even more important for Rocket Lab is that this launch is the eighth of the year, breaking their previous record for annual launches. Ultimately, as CEO and founder Peter Beck has often said, the goal is to offer five to ten times as much, but it’s not an ambition you can take on all at once.
The Argos program is an international program that allows sensors in distant places to send their data home. It is often used to track wildlife or for other situations where connectivity is uncertain – forests, oceans and so on. Although NOAA is one of the leading architects, the system is regularly used by more than a hundred countries.
The satellite that went up was built by General Atomics and carries the Argos-4 communications array. It was the only charge on the Electron, which Rocket Lab didn’t attempt to recover this time, by the way. They are probably tweaking the catch-and-recover process after their successful demonstration in May.
This was the 31st launch by Rocket Lab overall, with more planned for 2022. Another from their original launch complex in New Zealand, then the inaugural launch of LC-2 in Virginia – which we hope to attend .
You can see Beck in person when you come to TC Sessions: Space in December. See.