Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifts two more NASA hurricane monitoring satellites into orbit

Rocket Lab today successfully used its Electron rocket to place the last two of NASA’s four-satellite Tropics hurricane monitoring constellation into orbit.

The first launch occurred about two and a half weeks ago, on May 7, 2023. Both launches were originally contracted to Astra, but when that company discontinued operations of its Rocket-3 rocket, NASA turned to Rocket Lab.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

34 SpaceX
19 China
7 Russia
5 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 39 to 19 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 39 to 33. SpaceX by itself now trails the entire world, including American companies, 34 to 38.

Note that at this moment SpaceX and Rocket Lab are the only American companies that have launched. The established rocket companies, ULA and Northrop Grumman, have launches planned but none as yet, while two American companies have ceased operations, Astra (supposedly temporarily) and Virgin Orbit (permanently).

American freedom resulted in the competition in rocketry which has lowered costs but taken business from the established companies. Freedom has also caused the death of two companies, because the success that freedom brings also carries risks. Failure can happen, but the sum total of achievement is always greater than when competition is squelched.

Rocket Lab successfully launches two NASA hurricane monitoring cubesats

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket today successfully placed NASA’s two Tropics hurricane monitoring cubesats into orbit, lifting off from New Zealand ((May 8th New Zealand time).

This is the first of two Rocket Lab launches to get the entire four-satellite Tropics constellation into orbit, with the second schedule for two weeks from now.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

29 SpaceX
16 China
6 Russia
4 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 33 to 16 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 33 to 28.