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Rocket Lab launches climate science satellites

2 June 2024

Rocket Lab, a global leader in launch services and space systems, today launched the first of two back-to-back launches for NASA’s PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) climate change-focused mission.

‘Ready, Aim, PREFIRE’ lifted-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand at 7:41 pm NZST on May 25th, 2024. The launch deployed the first of two satellites for the PREFIRE mission to a 525km circular Low Earth Orbit. Now that the first satellite has been successfully deployed, the second will follow on another dedicated Electron launch in just a few days. The launch date for the next mission, ‘PREFIRE and Ice’ will be confirmed early next week.

Rocket Lab’s ability to launch dedicated missions to precise orbits on demand is critical to the success of PREFIRE. The mission requires two separate satellites to follow similar trajectories but along different paths to overlap with each other every few hours near the Arctic and Antarctica and capture accurate heat loss measurements. Both PREFIRE satellites are equipped with a device called a thermopile, similar to sensors found in household thermostats, to measure heat loss at far-infrared wavelengths which have never been systematically measured before. This data collected by the PREFIRE mission will help to improve climate and ice models and provide better predictions of how the planet’s sea level and weather are likely to change in the future.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, says: “Missions like PREFIRE demonstrate the unique benefit of Electron – dedicated launch for small satellites to precise orbits on precise schedules. We’ve demonstrated this back-to-back launch capability for NASA once before with the TROPICS mission and we’re excited to deliver it once again for PREFIRE. Climate change-focused missions like this are essential to understanding and safeguarding the future of our planet. It’s a privilege to support them on Electron.”

Today’s successful mission was Rocket Lab’s 48th Electron launch overall and sixth launch of 2024.

Source: Scoop

Image credit: Rocket Lab

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