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Rocket Lab launches second NRO surveillance smallsat in three weeks

Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab today successfully used its Electron rocket to place its second National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) surveillance smallsat into orbit in just over three weeks.

For Rocket Lab, this was the sixth launch in 2022, which matches its previous annual high, achieved in both 2019 and 2020. It should easily top that record before the year is out.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

33 SpaceX
26 China
10 Russia
6 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 47 to 26 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 47 to 42.

Two more American launches are scheduled in the next day. If both are successful, the U.S. will have exceeded its entire launch total for 2021 (48) in only a little more than a half year, and completed the most successful launches since 1967.

The second half of the year should actually be as active as the first half, with three more American smallsat rocket companies (Firefly, Relativity, and ABL) pushing hard for their first successful launches before the year is out, thus joining the already operational smallsat rocket companies Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, and Astra.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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  • sippin_bourbon

    IIRC, this ties all of Rocket labs launches from last year.

  • David Eastman

    A total of six launches are planned for today in all. A very busy day!

    Long March 4B 0310 UTC
    Electron L29 0500 UTC
    Atlas V 421 1029 UTC
    New Shepard 1330 UTC
    Long March 2F/T 1630 UTC
    Falcon9 2308 UTC

    The Long March 4B and Electron have both gone up successfully already. I saw a tweet claiming this was the 100th consecutive successful Long March 4B since the last failure.

  • David Eastman: Thank you. I would have seen this tomorrow, but I’ll add it now.

  • David Eastman: Also, what is your source for the Long March 2F launch tomorrow?

  • David Eastman

    I got that info from a Facebook post I can’t find now. But checking around, that 2F launch is the rumored experimental space plane launch, which may or may not actually be scheduled for today, it’s being reported in some places but there doesn’t seem to be any official announcement, par for the course for China on a launch like that.

  • David Eastman: Thank you. This illustrates why I generally won’t report on future Chinese launches, since the info can be unreliable. We shall have to wait to see if this launch takes place today.

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