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Rocket Lab Receives Launch Operator License

Rocket Lab, the space systems company and small satellite launcher, returned to active launch status recently with the successful fourteenth launch of its Electron rocket. The “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical” mission marked Rocket Lab’s comeback after suffering an in-flight anomaly during Electron’s thirteenth flight on July 4, 2020.

On Tuesday, September 1, Rocket Lab announced that it had received a new 5-year Launch Operator License from the FAA. The license permits California-based launcher and space systems company to launch the Electron rocket from LC-2 multiple times a year without applying for a new license with every launch. This in addition to the Launch Complex 1 license means that Rocket Lab is now licensed to support up to 130 flights of Electron per year. This is a major step toward the first Electron launches from U.S. soil.

The success of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical” marks the thirteenth successful mission and the deployment of Sequoia makes a total of 54 satellites delivered to orbit since Rocket Lab began operation in 2017. Rocket Lab founder and chief executive officer, Peter Beck, congratulated Capella Space on the successful deployment of its first microsatellite and celebrated the entire Rocket Lab team stating that “I’m also immensely proud of the team, their hard work, and dedication in returning Electron to the pad safely and quickly as we get back to frequent launches with an even more reliable launch vehicle for our small satellite customers.”

Launch Complex 2 was specifically designed to support responsive missions for NASA and the United States government. The first mission from LC-2 is slated to lift the microsatellite STP-27RM for the United States Air Force as part of the Space Test Program. In 2021 Electron will send NASA’s CAPSTONE mission to a “Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit” (NRHO) around the Moon in support of NASA’s Artemis program.